Homemade Vegan Chinese Wonton 自制素饺子/ Tofu and vegetables dumplings

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I have made many dumplings before but never a vegan one. And sometimes when the quality of meat was not good, the taste really does put off your appetite. And I wondered, why do we try so hard to cover the unpleasant ‘meaty’ taste, and not just make it vegetarian? So I did a test, and it turned out so great that even my non-vegetarian husband and sister loved it! And I see no reasons to make these dumplings with meat anymore in the future again. Win win, yeah!

It’s so easy that you wouldn’t believe, and you can make it two ways: boil or deep-fried like the normal ones. But here I’m going to show you my special trick that is healthier, still got the same crispy wonton edges. Instead of frying them in big pot of oil, I baked them, which I could control the amount of oil i brush on top, therefore a healthier option. 😉

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Ingredients:

1/2 pack wonton wrappers

1 pack tofu, crumbled

1 tbsp minced ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 spring onion, minced

1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 dl sweet peas

coriander, chopped (optional)

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp potato flour

1/2 tbsp Shao Xing wine

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp salt

Dash of white pepper

Methods:

  1. Defrost wonton wrappers completely, preferably in a fridge for a day or in room temperature for a couple hours.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl. Place halve a tablespoon of filling onto a wonton wrapper, close the edges completely by pressing with your fingers. Repeat until all the filling is used.

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To get boiled wonton:

Bring water to boil. Add 1 tsp of salt and oil, boil wontons for about 2 minutes or until they are floated on the water. Take them out with sieve and serve with soy sauce, dark Chinese Chinkiang vinegar and julienned ginger.

To get ‘deep fried’ / baked wonton:

Preheat oven to 200 ºC. Place wonton on an oiled baking sheet, brush each wonton lightly with oil and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve with Thai sweet chill sauce or mayonnaise.

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I personally like the boiled wontons better. They are more juicy and I simply love vinegar. The baked/ deep fried ones are good too. You know, crunchy texture and more fragrant. Try them yourselves. It’s great for parties. 🙂

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Childhood memories of Lantern Festival / Piglet Biscuits (猪笼饼)

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Have you heard of lantern festival? A day when you might see Chinese children carry colourful lanterns, light up candles while the adults gather together and share a pot of tea with mooncakes? Well, I haven’t seen anything like that since I moved to Finland. Back then when I was little, lantern festival was one of the best days in my childhood.

I have the clearest memory when my sister and I were about 7-9 years old. Our primary school held DIY lanterns competition every year. A few days before that, we would run to a soft drinks shop next door and buy its ‘seasonal products’ like lanterns-making materials, and make our own lanterns with those shiny, colourful papers with glue and wires. We were pretty smart back then. I don’t remember much but I’ve always made a chicken lantern. I guess I only knew the shape of a chicken well since we always had chickens in our farm house. Not only lanterns, my sister and I also experienced making our own kites that flew high in the sky! It was so exciting!

About 300 meters away from my grandmother’s house (where I grew up) there is a Chinese temple called 三神庙 (Three gods temple). Each year there would be all kinds of celebration happening and so as lantern festival. Nearly all of the kids in the village, maybe even outside the village would come here together with their lanterns. If I remember right, there was like 100 kids or more. All of us held our lanterns with a bamboo stick, gathered as a giant circle along the basketball field located at the Chinese temple. Everybody waited for the classic song to play, which is 传灯, the direct translation is ‘to pass on the light’, meaning to pass down our culture to the next generation. When the song is played, we walked slowly in a clockwise circle, carefully held our bamboo stick so that the lantern wouldn’t fall, all the way until the song ended. (We supposed to sing a long too but I’ve never learned the lyrics at such age) And the most important part was when the ceremony ended, all of us would be getting a piglet biscuit as reward, and to me it was the best part of all!

Later on, the adults would be setting up the praying ceremony at home. There was a table in the front yard, where there would be mooncakes, fruits, tea and sometimes roasted chicken or pork. And the adults would light up some incense sticks, which is believed that the smoke raised up in the air carried the prayers to the gods. On the other hand, the children would be lighting up more lanterns all over the yard. We also loved to light up all the leftover candles that we had everywhere around the house. The night of lantern festival was one of those very few nights we’re allowed to stay up late.

It was so amazing. Too bad I don’t think our children would ever experience anything like that in the future, by the time when we have one.

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Golden syrup, recipe as below.

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(Make 19 piglet biscuits)

Recipe referred to Hong Kitchen

(You would need a mold for this dish)

Ingredients:

500g Flour

380g Golden syrup*

120ml Peanut oil

1 tbsp Alkaline water

1 Egg york

Methods:

1) Mix all the ingredients together (except the egg york) until it forms a smooth dough. Cover with cling wrap and let it rest in room temperature for at least 2 hours.

2) Divide the dough into 19 small parts, about 35g each.

3) Dust some flour on the mold (to prevent sticking), press the dough in and flatten the surface. Turn it around and then gently beat it out from the back side of the mold. Repeat until all the dough is used.

4) Place all the piglet biscuits on a baking sheet, bake in 160 celsius oven for 15 minutes. Take it out and brush the biscuits with beaten egg york. Bake for another 10 minutes in the oven.

5) When it is done, take it out from the oven, let it cool completely. Store them in container. Let it rest for at least 3 days before serving.

PS: I know. This is weird but it really works like this. You need to let the biscuit to ‘mature’ for at least 3 days until it is eatable, otherwise they are hard as rocks. I wanted to cheat but it was really not eatable on the first or second day, you can feel it with your fingers. But after 3 days, the biscuits have softened and developed this beautiful, syrupy aromas that make them so irresistible! It really tastes like the one I got back home.

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This is the same golden syrup to make traditional Cantonese mooncakes.

*Recipe for Golden Syrup 转化糖浆

(Make just enough for this piglet biscuits recipe)

Ingredients:

400g Sugar

200ml Water

50ml Fresh lemon juice

Methods:

1) In a saucepan, add sugar and water, stir and bring to boil. Add lemon juice and bring to boil again. Turn the heat to the lowest.

2) Let the syrup to cook at low heat for about 45 minutes to 1 hour (without stirring it). When the syrup becomes dark brown in colour and its density is similar to honey, remove from heat. Let it cool completely then store in a clean, air tight jar.

PS: It is suggested to let the golden syrup to ‘mature’ for a certain time before using it, e.g. the longer the better it brings out the aroma, like wine. This golden syrup could keep well in room temperature for up to a year. 

Say HELLO to the perfect Meringue/ Mimi’s Chocolate Swirl Meringues

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Hey you, how are you? Hope you are doing alright. Me? I’m okay, just had a double jaw surgery about a couple of weeks ago to fix my biting problem. While recovering from the massive swelling, not being able to bite and chew is killing me. I’m basically eating baby food right now. As a food lover, it’s not so nice. Besides the pain and lack of energy, I do enjoy my 4 weeks sick leave. And this allows me to finally have time to take a break from my busy life, sit in front of my computer and talk to you

Before my surgery, I discovered a super good recipe that I must share with you. I have had a few meringues in my life, mostly from good cafes. You know, those that are loaded, have great atmosphere, good selection of pastries, good terrace facing a garden and etc. In another word, those places that made me feel so good that I must sit down with a cup of coffee and a pie, or a piece of cake. So I have tried their meringues. Looking huge, white, hard, very hard, oh and very sweet, what else should I say? Why on earth would anyone like this kind of a dessert? At that time I didn’t understand.

That day at work, I was out of ideas. But I must come up with a dessert for 20 people, like right now. Didn’t really have the energy to start mixing a cake dough, somehow I felt like making meringue, the first time ever! (Yeah I like taking risk) So I googled and found a recipe from my all time favourite food blogger, Mimi Thorisson, an amazing woman who has beautiful children, dogs, great photographer husband and lives in Medoc. That’d be a perfect dream to many I believe. And she writes awesome blog Manger, sharing marvellous recipes about French cuisine that always blow my mind away. When I found her recipe for meringue, I knew that it is going to turn out great. So I started to take out my eggs and sugar immediately. I had no doubt about it at all.

Not to forget to mention that my electric mixer is broken, I was literally beating a huge load of egg whites with my hands, for 20 people. The weather is cold but I was sweating, as you can imagine. It took 20 minutes more than estimation. 🙂

Everything was worth it when I took my first bite of the fresh meringue. ‘Heavenly! It is heavenly good! Oh my god.’, my colleague repeated. I could not believe that meringue can be so good. (Well, it means that I have had bad ones) I finally realised what a real meringue supposed to taste like. The fragrance of egg white lingered in my mouth wonderfully. Like Mimi wrote, it should be crispy from the outside and soft from the inside. And she was so right. I thought one was too big for me, but I ate 2 in a row. And I made them again and again. No fail.

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Referred to recipe from Manger:
(Make 6 giant servings or 12 medium ones)

6 extra large egg whites (room temperature)
1,5 tsp cornflour (I used potato flour)
2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
320g Icing sugar
A pinch of fine salt

Methods:

1) In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until frothy. Add the potato flour and sugar (1-2 tbsp at a time) gradually and continue whisking. (You should add the sugar in small quantities until the end of the process.)

2) When the egg whites form stiff peaks (Tips: turn the bowl upside down and it should stay nicely in the bowl without dropping to your head), gently fold in the cocoa powder to create nice swirls in the egg whites.

3) With the help of two spoons, spoon the egg whites onto the parchment-lined baking tray. The meringues should be about 10-12 cm large and 6 cm high (for big making ones). ‘Twirl’ your spoon around and finish off with a spiky peak.

4)Finally ‘dust’ some cocoa powder on top of each meringue and (optionally) use a small fork to gently draw a few more swirls

5) Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, switch off the oven, and leave them to cool inside the oven with the door slightly open for 15 minutes.

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For this recipe Mimi has made a chocolate sauce to serve with the meringues. I have tried it but it was a little too sweet for my own preference. I have created an easy raspberry sauce that I thought it goes really well with these meringues. You know, a little kick of sourness and berry flavour together with the sweetness from the meringues. Oh, and the colour too! 😉

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Raspberry sauce:

200g Frozen raspberry

100ml Water

50g Sugar

1 tbsp Potato flour +2 tbsp water for mixing together

Juice of 1/2 lime

Methods:

1) In a saucepan, put in raspberry, water and sugar and bring to boil. Mix well until sugar is dissolved.

2) Squeeze in the lime juice. Slowly pour and stir in the ‘potato flour mixture’ to the saucepan. The sauce should start to thicken up already. Turn off the heat and let it cool completely before serving. Serve with meringues, or other desserts together with fresh berries on top. Voila!

Baked Fish with Secret Sauce/ The love of my mom (Part 1)

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It is a pretty unusual situation, that my husband and I actually invited ourselves to our friends Tuomas and Eveliina’s place to make dinner for them. 😀 Very different but it was actually really nice. We always have a great time together and they have such a beautiful home and kitchen. In exchange Eveliina, who is a talented, professional photographer took pictures for my blog, what more can I ask for?! It is my first time preparing food for them, therefore I wanted to cook something I really like, something I love the most, which is my mom’s cooking, who is not here in Finland. She lives in malaysia.

I go back home to Malaysia every 12 to 18 months, and that’s when I meet my beloved mother, grandmother, daddy, sister, brother, cousins, best friends… Oh it made me sad just to name them because I haven’t seen them for over a year now. And when we do meet, we never hang around for long because of my short holiday. But every time I do go home, my mom would make me a table full of fancy dishes to show me her love. She has never said it out loud though. Asian parents are rather strict and rigid. There is even one saying that ‘To beat is to care; to scold is to love’. And I need not to say more. 😀

But my point was to tell you that my mom loves me. Yes she does. 😉 I remember she used to know only a few dishes and she cooked almost the same food every other week. For example ‘the one and only/ 独孤一味’chicken, that is also where the name came from. Later on she became more into cooking and eating, like me. She started to be really good at cooking out of a sudden. Besides ‘the one and only’, my favorite dishes from her would be ginger chicken cooked in wine, herbal chicken, oat-meal prawn, steamed fish, stir-fried bean sprout, and many more. And you know what, my mom makes the best soup on earth. She never hesitated to put in all the ingredients that would cost more than eating out, therefore most of the times salt or pepper are not needed for the soups she makes at all.

I wanted to show Tuomas and Eveliina the kind of dinner that I would eat when I go back home. It would be a classic Asian dinner of 3 dishes plus 1 soup. So I decided to make my mom’s signature dish ‘the one and only’, baked fish with secret sauce, stir-fried broccoli with shrimp and soup with tofu and preserved mustard. These dishes are those kinds that are very homey and heart-warming. Unfortunately, I cannot share ‘the one and only’ recipe to you guys because it is a dish created by my grandmother, which she taught my mom how to cook it, and then my mom passed it down to me. I have called and asked my mom about this issue, and she would very much like to keep this family recipe just within ourselves, so I respect her wish. But, to replace this dish I am going to share a secret sauce that I created myself inspired by my mom’s steamed fish. And it is a good stuff. At least Tuomas, Eveliina and their 2 years old child, Matilda who is quite picky about food ate the whole fish! It was ALL gone! In fact, I was digging from the bones to find the last small pieces of meat just to get enough for Matilda when she kept asking for more. So I think they really liked it a lot.

In Finland it is difficult to find a proper steamer anywhere, the only thing available probably would be the bamboo steamer for DimSum which definitely would not fit a fish as a whole. Therefore I tried to bake it, and it turned out perfect. But it also depends on how fresh the fish is. I would not recommend using a frozen fish because it wouldn’t turn out the same. The combination of saltiness from the sauce together with the sweetness from the fresh fish makes you wanna eat more rice. They go so well together!

Ingredients:

1 kg Trout

1 tbsp Oil

1 tbsp minced Ginger + 5 pieces of sliced Ginger

2 clove Garlic, minced

1 Chili, seeded and minced

1 Spring onion, cut into 4” length sticks

1 tbsp Plum sauce

1 tbsp Oyster sauce

1 tbsp Black bean sauce

1 tbsp Soy sauce

1 tbsp Water

Methods:

1) Preheat oven to 220 Celsius. Cut the surface of the fish vertically to help it to cook more evenly (see image below).

2) Place ginger slices and spring onion inside the cut areas of the fish (tummy and surface). Drizzle oil onto the surface of the fish.

3) Place fish in a container and cook in oven for 20-25 minutes (until cooked completely).

4) Meanwhile, heat up oil in a saucepan and put in garlic, minced ginger and chili. Fry until fragrant.

5) Add in all the remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Pour in hot over the cooked fish and served immediately. Top up with additional chili and spring onion if desired.

Note: I took the seeds out from the chili so the dish was mild even for a 2 years old. If I cook for myself, I’d like it spicier so I would keep the seeds as it is. 🙂

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007Look at granny Eva putting fish into the oven. 😀

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Take a peek of the very mysterious ‘the one and only’ 😉

Black Forest Cake/ 一直以来最想要的蛋糕

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Last Saturday was my husband’s birthday. I needed to be at work the whole day, so I wanted to make him a cake to make it up with him. He wouldn’t have mind really; it was more for me so that I wouldn’t feel so guilty of not being available. Isn’t it so that in order to show your sincerity, when giving something you must give something that is precious/meaningful to you? So I decided to give Black Forest cake. And I’m gonna tell you why.

My sister and I were raised by my grandmother in a village in our childhood and we met our mom a few times a year. She was occupied by her work, traveling around places to make money to support our living. We missed awfully much of her most of the times. I remember there were a couple of times when my mom was around to celebrate my birthday with me. And that was one of those times when I ever got out of the village. Standing in front of a selection of colourful, beautiful cakes in the bakery, how fancy! I was offered to choose what I like, and there was always this Black Forest cake that caught my eyes. It has always been there on the shelf, in any bakeries, looking elegant and expensive, very ‘grown-up’ as well if you know how I feel.

That was what i’ve always wanted, but I never dared to pick the Black Forest cake, because I thought that it would be out of my mom’s budget for my very small birthday party. Even though it looked extremely tempting as always; and as high priced as always. I ended up picking those spongy cakes with candied house on top, because I believed that those kinds are the ones for a kid like me. I was between 5-8 years old.

Life is so much easier when you are a grown up, definitely, at least now I can make my own cake! I don’t remember when was the last time I tasted Black Forest, for sure it was more than 10 years ago! But I remember when the cherry jam, chocolate and alcohol lingered in my month, wow it was so surprisingly good! My version of Black Forest is not as sweet as from the bakery, but I like it more this way.

Ingredients for the dough:

150g 70% Baking Dark Chocolate

150g Butter, keep in room temperature

150g All purpose flour

150g Sugar

2 tsp Baking powder

1/4 tsp Salt

6 Eggs, placed whites and yolks seperately

Method:

1) Preheat oven to 175 Celsius. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave for a few seconds.

2) Beat in sugar, then mix in egg yolks one by one.

3) Add in flour and baking powder.

4) Beat egg whites with salt until shifted. Fold into the mixture with spatula.

5) Grease a baking container and place in cut baking sheet. Pour in the mixture and bake for 30- 40 minutes. (Poke with a wooden stick and make sure it comes out clean, that tells when the cake is ready)

6) Keep completely cool. Then cut horizontally into 2 layers.

7) Spread one layer of the cherry filling( see below) on the first layer of cake, and spread whipped cream on top of it. Then place the second layer of cake on top. Spread cherry filling and whipped cream again( and at the side if preferred). Decorate with whole fresh cherries.

Note: This cake is originated from Germany and it’s supposed to put in Cherry liquor, which I don’t have. 😛 Some people make thicker layer of the chocolate cake and scrambled some of it for decoration. You may also decorate it with grated chocolate. 🙂

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Ingredients for the fillings:

6 dl Whipped cream

3 tbsp Sugar

1 jar (320g) Cherry Jam

1 cup Fresh Cherries, reserved more for decorating

6 dl Brandy/ cognac

Methods:

1) Remove seeds from fresh cherries and cut them into smaller pieces.

2) Mix in brandy and cherry jam, set aside.

3) Whip cream until shifted and fold in sugar, set aside.

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Voila!

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IMG_0985Happy Birthday to Riku! ❤

Riku and his cake

It’s amazing that many of my Finnish friends and relatives have never heard of Black Forest cake before. For some reasons it is extremely popular in Malaysia. It must have been the European who introduced to us during the 15th centuries, I guess? Let me know if you happen to know about it! 🙂