Chinese steamed egg custard

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I’ve been trying to get my little man to eat his eggs, but regardless of the style – scrambled, boiled, puréed, fried, steamed – he spits them right back out. Recently, I found that making a sugar-free version of crême brulée got him to eat them, which is all well and good when I have time to nurture the eggs from pot to oven. And then, my momma came to visit and showed me the REAL way of making Chinese steamed egg custard. The eggs come out silky smooth like soft tofu and for our guy, he seems to prefer things with a smoother texture.

The greatest part is that this custard takes all of 10 minutes to make with most of it in the steamer with a timer on. In other words, it requires little to no supervision… unlike the crême brulée.

I like using whole cow’s milk or goat’s milk for my custard, as it’s for my baby, but the recipe typically uses water. If you’re making this for yourself, you can flavour the custard with a splash of sesame oil, soy sauce, and sprinkling of chopped scallions or chives.

Ingredients (for a single serving):

  • 1 egg (duck or chicken)
  • water or milk
  • sesame oil for seasoning
  • Optional: soy sauce and chopped scallions or chives

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Chinese radish carrot pork soup

ingredientsWith the changing seasons, I’ve been feeling the edge of sick creeping in this week. Naturally, a pot of soup like the kind my mom used to make was needed. I decided to make a chinese radish carrot pork soup that always makes me feel better (or at least I feel much better drinking it). This particular soup picks up the rich flavour from the pork while being sweetened from the carrots and figs. As a bonus, this soup is also very easy to make. Once you have the ingredients, it practically makes itself.

Ingredients: (serves 5-6, two bowls each)

  • 300 to 400 grams of pork neck, shoulder, or ribs
  • 1 large carrot, chopped or sliced
  • 1 medium sized Chinese green radish, chopped or sliced
  • 4 dried dates
  • 10 cups of water
  • salt to taste

Preparation:

  1. soupBoil water in the pot you’ll be making the soup in. When it’s boiling, place the pork into the pot. Let the meat boil for 2-3 minutes. The pork meat should light brown in colour. The meat does not need to be cooked through at this point. The water will have bubbles start to form on the surface and even become a little foamy (picture on the left).
  2. Pour out the boiled water and rinse your meat. The water at this point will likely be very frothy (picture on the right). These first two steps are important as it’s a cleansing and detoxifying step for the meat – and is also effective in removing fat from your soup.
  3. Fill your pot again with 10 cups of water with the pork still in the pot. Bring the water up to a boil.
  4. Add the chopped radish, carrot, and dates. If you’re using a regular pot, turn the heat down to low and let your soup simmer at least 2 hours. I use a thermal pot for all of my soups – for me, it’s the benefits of a pressure cooker and slow cooker in one. If you’re using a thermal pot, bring the water to a boil and place your pot into the thermal pot and let it sit and cook for at least 2 hours.
  5. Add salt to taste.

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Enjoy!

Winter melon soup

As the days get shorter and nights longer, nothing combats the changing of seasons like a homemade winter melon soup. Winter melon is believed to have cooling properties by the Chinese. It is understood to remove the excessive heat from the body that can lead to ailments and illness. Whether you are believer of Chinese medicine or not, winter melon is loaded with nutrients in a water-rich melon. It has vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin C, and is also a fantastic source of calcium and potassium.

The other great aspect to winter melon soup is that it’s very easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 oz. of cured ham, finely chopped or sliced
  • 4 dried scallops, shredded
  • 1/2 tablespoon of red wolfberries (otherwise known as gogi berries)
  • 1 slab or around 1 to 2-pounds of winter melon (at the grocery stores, they normally sell this pre-cut into a slab or wedge and shrink wrapped), chopped into cubes
  • 1 piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 sprigs of green onion, finely chopped
  • 1-cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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Fish maw egg drop soup

As the weather transitions from the rainy spring into a warmer summer (and it has certainly taken its time this year), I always start craving a soup that is lighter in both flavour and consistency. My favourite: Chinese fish maw egg drop soup.

It’s worth noting that many restaurants will offer this soup with crab meat in it – which you can also add. Just be sure to use real crab meat rather than the fake crab meat that’s available in most grocery stores, as the chunky texture won’t be a good match for this soup.

Whenever I make soup, I tend to make a large pot that will serve four to five people comfortably. If you need more or less, adjust the below ingredient proportions accordingly.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 to 4 cups of dried fish maw, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup of dried shitake or Chinese mushrooms (or 5 fresh shitake mushrooms), chopped
  • 3 dried figs (used whole)
  • 1/3 cup of lotus seeds
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon of corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt, or to taste Continue reading

Golden Regency Restaurant

My girlfriend and I recently stopped by the Golden Regency Restaurant at Pacific Mall for dim sum. The restaurant was bustling with people when we and our growling bellies arrived – which is always a good sign.

We were immediately seated, and quickly got our order in of many of our favorite dim sum dishes. Before long, the dishes started to arrive and soon our small two-person table was overflowing with food: pan-fried turnip cakes, steamed beef balls, an assortment of dumplings, steamed sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves, Chinese donuts wrapped in rice noodles, egg tarts, and mango pudding. Everything was fantastic.

Then came another dim sum cart. The kindly lady offered us a selection of other delicious looking desserts. Despite our full bellies and the food laden table, we agreed to try a new dish we’d never heard of before: a green tea pancake.

This pancake is the reason I decided to write this post. It is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten – and almost rivals the incredible cat fish that once took my breath away in Reykjavik, Iceland. At first, the flavour is moderately sweet, with a subtle hint of green tea in a bean filling. All of this encased in a sesame-covered, pan-fried glutinous rice cake. However, a few moments after your first bite, the fuller aroma hits you. A beautiful, floral flavouring that lingers in your mouth. Delicate, aromatic, and delicious.

If you have the chance to visit The Golden Regency Restaurant, I highly recommend you try this dessert. It’s like nothing else I’ve ever eaten.

The Golden Regency Restaurant is located at:
4300 Steeles Ave E
Markham, ON L3R 0Y5
(905) 948-8811

Dumpling House

The Dumpling House (Photo credits: Vivian Chan)

The Dumpling House is an unassuming little establishment on the main drag of Chinatown in Toronto on Spadina Avenue. In the restaurant-front window, there are always 3 or 4 men and women making the dumplings: one manning the stove, another mixing the different fillings, and another one or two kneading the dough and rolling out perfectly circular dumpling skins. It’s probably for this reason that from the first time I walked past The Dumpling House, I’ve wanted to go in. There’s nothing like seeing what you’re going to eat made fresh before your eyes… and I suppose it helps that I love dumplings.

Recently, my fiancé and I paid The Dumpling House a visit. I was immediately surprised by how clean and vibrant the interior was. The service was also fantastic. Within seconds, we were seated with menus and steaming tea before us. Being newbies with empty stomachs, we naively ordered two steaming hot bowls of hot and sour soup (as you may know, an old favorite of mine) as well as two plates of dumplings – one pan fried, and the other steamed. Being in an adventuresome mood, we opted for 3 different types of dumplings for each plate (pork and chive, lamb meat, seafood, minced beef, mushroom and vegetables, and I believe the shrimp & pork). Continue reading

Feeling sick? Plain congee to the rescue

This post is dedicated to my friend, Lola.

Photo credit: Vivian Chan

When I get sick, nothing helps me feel better than the warm comfort of Chinese congee. I used to think it was the nostalgia of my childhood when my parents would nurse me back to health with bowlfuls of it, but more recently, I’ve found out there’s science behind the old tradition. Congee is not only high in fluid content, which your body needs plenty of when you’re sick, but is also high in electrolytes from the rice. (Italians have a similar concoction, only it’s boiled pasta and the starchy water is drunk afterwards. Same principle.)

I will make congee regularly around the year, but never at a higher frequency than when I’m sick. This week was no exception. Having picked up an ugly virus, I gathered up the pot, rice, and chicken broth for my congee. That is the beauty of congee. That’s all you need. My basic recipe will make a large pot of plain congee that will last one person about two or even three days, which is great when you’re sick and don’t want to be cooking multiple meals.

Main ingredients:

  • 2.5 to 3 litres of chicken stock (may also be substituted with vegetable stock or water)
  • 1.5 cups of white jasmine rice
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

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