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Chinese Cream Corn Soup with Poached Egg

September 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

I recently started a new job as a copywriter at Liquorice Digital Agency and I’m loving it! The agency oozes team-spirit juice and I have to say, it’s quite infectious. Every Wednesday, the Liquorice soccer teams plays Fives Futbol together and every Friday we have Liquorice Fridays, in which the agency organises food and treats for everyone to enjoy. This really helps all the new kids get to know the old crowd.

I haven’t been able to cook and take rad photos – see why here. So this picture comes from here.

I joined the Soup Club, and this club is only active during winter. Once a week, one member brings a soup to work, enough for all club to enjoy. I decided to make a Chinese Cream Corn Soup.

Chinese cream corn soup, warm, creamy and filling, is ideal for cold and windy nights. This recipe uses canned cream corn, I usually purchase the KOO Cream-style Corn – it’s even better to make your own, but using canned cream corn will decrease your cooking time to a mere 10 minutes. I used to love making this when I was a student.

This recipe makes 5 servings, (Warning: 1 person never has 1 serving only.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 salad spring onion (finely sliced)
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 3 mielies/corn cobs (cut kernels off)
  • 1 Tbsp corn flour/Maizena
  • 1 1/2 can of cold water (simply fill water into creamed corn can after use)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt (add to taste)
  • 3 pinches of white pepper
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • fresh coriander to sprinkle
Method:
  • In the soup pot to be, fry 1/2 the sliced spring onion with olive oil, till lightly browned.
  • Add the creamed corn.
  • Add the fresh kernels cut from mielies.
  • Use the empty can to add 1 can of water to pot.
  • Allow the soup to boil.
  • Add 1/2 can of water mixed with corn flour.
  • Slowly add to soup, while stirring – this will thicken the soup.
  • Add sugar, salt and white pepper.
  • Mix the eggs in a separate container (I usually use a measuring jug for easy pouring).
  • While stirring the soup in one direction, slowly pour the egg liquid in one spot and it’ll poach automatically
  • Serve hot!
Suggestions:
Serve with a spoonful of sesame oil on top, garnished with spring onion slices, fresh coriander and a dusting of white pepper on top.

What’s in Chinese 5 Spices

June 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

Chinese 5-Spices provides a myriad of flavour bursts and can be found in a wide variety of dishes in Asia.  The five different spices consist of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, Sichuan pepper and star anise – they don’t need to be equal in quantity.

You can find Chinese 5-Spices from any local supermarket or Chinese supermarket (click here for listings of Asian Supermarkets in Cape Town).

This picture was sourced from here
 
  • Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the most well known spices in the world because of cinnamon and sugar pancakes. True cinnamon is actually the bark of an evergreen tree from Sri Lanka, but most cinnamon sold throughout the world comes from a plant relative called ‘cassia”. Unlike true cinnamon, rougui (cassia bark) offers a stronger flavour, is cheaper and has a thicker texture.

  • Cloves

This spice can be used whole or ground and is found in various dishes in Asia. Cloves are buds (unopened flowers) of an evergreen tree native to Indonesia.

  • Fennel Seed powder

Fennel seeds provide a liquoricy taste and is often used to flavour breads, marinades, sauces and liqueurs. This flavour comes from a chemical known as “anethole” and also exists in star anise. Cool thing about anethole is that it’s 13 times sweeter than sugar.

  • Sichuan Pepper

Sichuan pepper, also known as Szechuan pepper, is actually not even pepper. This spice originates from the Sichuan province in china and is merely the husk of an ash tree fruit. Sichuan pepper also contains a chemical component called Hydroxy-alpha-sanshool which cases a numbing sensation in the mouth.

Warning: Don’t consume in large amounts, can become poisonous to the human body.

Served in Chinese hot pot.

  • Star Anise

One of my favourite spices is star anise. It originates from China and (as mentioned under Fennel Seed), it contains enethole, which creates the liquoricy flavour. Star anise is a star-shaped brown pod and used in both sweet and savoury dishes.

Found in Taiwanese beef noodle soup.

This was originally posted on Butterfingers.

Sweet Douhua (Black Bean/Soy Pudding) 豆花

June 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

Asia’s equivalent of panacotta, but a gluten-free, vegan-friendly pudding.

Douhua 豆花 (dòuhuā) is a soy pudding made from soy milk with a velvety smooth and silky texture that’s served drenched in a brown sugar syrup. My papa told me stories of his childhood, where there’d be food vendors pushing around a little cart selling food to the locals. He said if the dohua was still warm, it usually meant it was fresh.

This black bean/soy pudding is a soft tofu dessert. It forms as the soy milk coagulates into curds when it cools down and reacts to the gypsum powder. In Taiwanese cuisine, dohua is often served with sweet toppings, including:

  • soft and sweet cooked peanuts
  • tapioca pearls (used in bubble tea)
  • sweet mung beans
  • sweet red beans
  • grass jelly
  • agar agar jello

My family serves it with a simple brown sugar syrup, but ever since I had douhua from Taiwan in December, I add tapioca pearls in mine as well now. Simply boil 1/4 Cup brown sugar to 1 Cups of water till it thickens in a pot on the stove, then allow to cool.

There are two ways to make this dairy-free pudding. You can buy a premix packet, follow the quantity instruction on the bag and mix boiled soy milk with the powder from the bag (this is often a guaranteed fool-proof method) or make the mixture from scratch. Unlike premix boxes for muffins, cakes and brownies, the mixture is a mere combination of corn flour and gypsum powder. For the pictures, I used a premix pack that can be bought at any local Chinese supermarket in Cape Town.

Ingredients:

This is a useful recipe using gypsum powder and cornstarch if you plan to make from scratch. Honestly, it’s easier making it with a premix.  If you’re using a premix, follow the instructions for quantities of liquids.

  • 1tsp gypsum powder  (熟石膏粉)
  • 1tsp cornstarch/Maizena
  • 1 000 ml/1l of unsweetened soy milk (you can also used sweetened soy milk, just remember to add less syrup when serving)
  • 1 Tbsp of hot water

Method:

  • Heat the soy milk up until it boils for a minute (keep stirring in between to avoid burning)
  • In a bowl, mix the gypsum powder and hot water, until it’s completely dissolved. *
  • Add the corn starch into the mixture and mix until even. *
  • In a separate container (I used a ceramic bowl as the cooling process will be distributed more evenly), scoop the mixture into the centre of the container.
  • Pour the boiled soy milk into the container and stir the mixture into the soy milk very quickly while it’s hot, this prevents coagulation before the pudding is completely even (try achieve in under a minute).
  • Cover the container and let it sit for 30 minutes – do not move the container, the slightest movement can cause irregularity in texture during coagulation. The longer it sits, the firmer the pudding will be.

Suggestions:

The trick when serving is to use a sharp and large spoon to scoop pudding up into a serving bowl without breaking it. Serve hot or cold (refrigeration), with toppings and a simple brown syrup, sometimes flavoured with almond or ginger.

When served cold, it won’t be as smooth as it is when it’s warm. Try eat as fresh as possible.

Originally posted on Butterfingers here.

Doujiang (Soy Milk) 豆漿

April 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

Growing up, soy-based products were never strangers in my home, but it took me a good few years before I could truly appreciate and enjoy the flavour of soy milk. Ironically, I was given soy milk for babies when I was a young warthog. And by warthog, I mean infant.

In Mandarin, we say “doujiang” – ‘dou’ meaning bean and ‘jiang’ meaning liquid/beverage/drink. The reason why the word “nai 奶” (which is milk) cannot be used is because the word includes a feminine element (女). The reason for this is that “milk” technically comes from female mammals and doujiang is far from being an animal product, i.e vegan-friendly.


soya milk / doujiang

Doujiang is part of a traditional oriental breakfast. This liquid is an extraction of the soybean and the substance is milk-like, providing incredibly nutritious properties. You can drink soy milk hot or cold and since it’s so easily accessible in most retail supermarkets, many people don’t know how to make their own.

Making your own allows you to have fresh soy milk and avoid all the preservatives and additives used in cartons. I suppose you can buy a soy milk machine that can make it for you, but it’s, honestly, such an easy process – all you need is a blender, muslin cloth and a large pot. My papa showed me how to make the perfect soy milk.

Makes about 2 litres

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of soybeans
  • 8 Cups of water (excluding soaking water)
  • sugar to taste*

Method:

  • Sift through the dry soybeans, remove stones and bad soy beans, and rinse it a few times with water.
  • Soak the soybeans overnight in water. Make sure that there is twice the volume of water compared to the beans. The beans will grow twice their original size when ready.
  • Blend half the beans with 4 cups of water for 1 minute.
  • Prepare a colander in a deep soup pot, with a muslin cloth lining the colander.
  • Pour the blended pulpy mixture into the muslin cloth.
  • Squeeze all the liquid out into the pot – that is straight soy milk.
  • Blend the rest of the beans and water and repeat the process.
  • Once all the liquid has been squeezed out, heat the pot up on the stove at a low temperature. The heating process is amazing because this is when you can smell the fragrant soy milk.
  • Keep a close eye on the heating process and mix it every few minutes to avoid the soy milk from sticking to the sides.
  • Scoop the foam up that’s collecting on the top.
  • When it starts boiling, simmer for 5 minutes. Don’t forget to keep mixing.
  • *Add sugar to taste (1/2 cup at most) – this is optional.

Suggestions:

Serve hot or cold or use as an ingredient in another recipe.

In Cape Town, you can buy fresh soy milk from some Chinese supermarkets. I usually go to Live Mart in Durbanville.

For pictures of the basic method, please visit the original post at Butterfingers.

Bubble Tea in a roasted Barley Black Tea (Boba Tea 珍珠奶茶)

March 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

Bubble tea, a Taiwanese beverage that has become quite a popular drink amongst all Asians. Bubble tea, also known as milk pearl tea, boba tea and boba milk tea, originated from tea cafes in Taichung (central Taiwan) during the 1980s. In Cape Town you can actually buy these tasty Taiwanese drinks in the northern suburbs. On a daily basis, Live Mart Taiwanese Supermarket in Durbanville make bubble tea in various flavours and on weekends at 96 Taiwanese Supermarket in Monte Vista make the traditional roasted barley black tea version.

The ingredients can easily be purchased in almost any Chinese or Taiwanese supermarket. The one I usually buy is a DIY Taiwanese brand, as seen in the original post.

There are many and various tea flavours, such as pudding, almond, vanilla, green tea and fruit, but the original flavour is a milky black tea with roasted barley and tapioca pearls. This is one of my favourite treats and is quite easy to make. The texture of the bubbles is quite unique and amongst Taiwanese folk, we call it “Q”, which is a chewy, al dente texture.

Most kitchens in South Africa probably don’t have this steamer, so the recipe provided will help you make bubble tea simply using the stove.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup tapioca pearls
  • 3 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp of barley
  • 2 black tea bags (Ceylon or 5 Roses tea)
  • Milk to taste
  • 3 cup ice (cubes)

Method

  • Boil a medium-sized pot of water and put the tapioca pearls in once bubbling.
  • Leave the pearls to boil for an hour, checking at 15 minute intervals, then mix to prevent them from sticking to the pot.
  • Once the pearls are cooked, strain them and place into a bowl of ice (2 cups) immediately to cool.

While waiting for the pearls, brew the tea:

  • Lightly roast the barley in a pan.
  • Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan, add the barely and tea bags – boil for 5 minutes, take the bags out and add the sugar into the pot and mix.
  • Once the sugar has melted, sieve the tea to separate the bags and barely.
  • Allow tea to cool.
  • Place the tapioca pearls into glasses.
  • Pour the roasted barley black tea into the glasses
  • Add milk to taste and ice blocks to serve.
See pictures of how the tapioca pearls should look like once cooked here.

Suggestion:

When we buy bubble tea, we often purchase them in cup containers with a thick straw to drink the tapioca pearls through. If you can’t find the straws, simply offer a long handled dessert spoon.

Originally posted on Butterfingers.

Earth Fair Food Market in Tokai, Cape Town

February 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Earth Fair Market in Tokai, Cape Town is located at the Builders Warehouse, being the ideal location for a market on that side of the city. This market also trades in town at St. Georges Mall, a beautiful strip through the city centre, which I’ve previously posted on – click here to see post on the market.

Most visitors of this market enjoy the Wednesday evenings as a dinner option because of the wide variety of dishes made by the local vendors of Cape Town and the bar of local beers and wine. Which makes the Tokai Earth Fair Market a trendy joint for the people living in the Southern Suburbs.

My favourite foods from this market include lasagne, steak rolls, German sausage with potato salad, green curry, fresh organic raspberries, cheesecake and freshly squeezed juices.

This indoor setting has:

  • plentiful parking (and car guards)
  • fresh produce
  • a bar of local brews (draughts, champagne and wine)
  • fresh flowers
  • delicious fresh oysters
  • preserves food (pastas, cheese, gluten-free dishes, curries, hot dogs and sushi)
  • desserts (cheesecake, ice-cream, chocolate truffles and nougat)
  • music (occasional live music)
  • crafts
  • a kids’ corner
The bar serving local beers, curry, crêpes, ice-cream and savoury pastries.

Meditteranean food, sweet pastries, sushi, fresh fish and pates.

Cheeses, preserves, cordials and pastries

Details for the Earth Fair Market:

Trading hours:

  • Wednesday – Tokai – 15:00 pm till 20:00 pm
  • Thursday – St. Georges Mall – 11:00 am till 16:00 pm
  • Saturday – Tokai – 09:00 am till 14:00 pm
This was originally posted on Butterfingers, for my pictures – visit my blog :)

Taiwanese Breakfast: Egg Pancake Roll (蛋餅)

February 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

One of my favourite Taiwanese foods is our breakfasts. Dan bing, which means egg pancake, is part of a typical Taiwanese and Chinese breakfast. You’ll find that different areas make their pancakes differently. Some make them into a roti-like pancake, whereas my family makes them into a softer and thicker pancake, using a watered down batter.

Serves 6

Ingredients: (for a picture of the actual ingredients, click here)

  • 200g cake flour
  • 3 cup hot water
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • ½ a cup finely chopped spring onion
  • Sunflower or canola oil for frying
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 eggs
Method: (for some pictures on the method, click here)
  • Make the pancake mixture by pouring hot water into the flour and stirring until it becomes a smooth liquidy paste (like a pancake mix)
  • Add the spring onions and a tsp of oil into the mixture and mix.
  • Pour 1 cup of the pancake mixture into a medium heat pan and let it cook till golden. (step 1)
  • Flip the pancake and allow the other side to achieve the same result.
  • Flip the pancake onto a plate.
  • Roughly, beat one egg into a bowl and pour the mixture into an oiled pan. (step 2)
  • Allow the egg to fry until the the edges start curling.
  • Place the pancake over the egg, and allow the egg to cook.
  • Warm the reverse side of the pancake then allow it to rest on a plate.
  • Roll it up (like how you would with a cinnamon pancake) and slice into 2cm pieces.
Suggestions:
Serve with thick soya sauce and chillies*
Tips:
To avoid the pancake from sticking to your knife, brush some oil the blade of your knife while slicing.
* optional

Exotic Fruits of the East

January 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

One of my favourite aspects of Asia, is the variety of fruits available there. Ranging from the small longan to the giant jack fruit. Read below to find out more about the fruits I enjoyed on my holiday back to Taiwan.

 

Asian Pears

When walking through the Checkers in Sea Point a few years ago, I came across the Asian pears for the first time in South Africa. This was very exciting for me, I even phoned my mom to make sure she knew. Asians pears are rounded fruits, with a high water content (like watermelon), grainy and crisp-like texture (such as apple). Most yellow-folk eat fruit raw and peeled as they are usually served in between a few dishes and/or at the end of a meal, almost like a palette cleanser. The Asian pear needs to be wrapped carefully because they bruise easily – so you’ll usually find them individually packaged in paper or even better, little styrofoam webbings.

They contain a high amount of vitamin C and fibre, and are hard when ripe. They’re one of the most refreshing fruits I’ve ever had and are easily found in any market in Asia.

Chinese dates / Jujubes

Chinese dates, also known as jujubes, can come in quite a variety, though the ones I had were green Chinese dates.The green ones are the younger form – like chillies and peppers, the colour changes as it ripens and it can be eaten at all stages. They start off green, then changes to red, then after drying they become prune-like purply-red. The texture is like that of a combination of apple and pear, like a small crispy and juicy granny smith apple, but less sour.

Custard Apples

Also known as the bull’s heart or bullock’s heart in the western part of the world, it resembles the knotted braids on Buddha’s head. This fruit grows in a warm and humid climate, which makes sense to why it’s native to the Middle East. The flesh is sweet and juicy with a slight acidic taste and granular texture.

The custard apple also has many health benefits, including a high level of vitamin C, vitamin B-types, potassium, protein, fibre, minerals, vitamins, energy, copper and little fat.

Dragon fruit

This picture of fresh dragon fruit is taken from here.

These fruits can also be found in South Africa as I have seen them in Wellness Warehouse. Like cactus fruits (also known as the prickly pear), it is thorn-like with refreshing sweet flesh on the inside. The fruit doesn’t actually have thorns, so it’s safe to handle them by hand.

The flesh of the fruit is similar to that of a kiwi, but less “strandy”. The small seeds inside resemble the kiwi fruit and can be eaten. It is a delicious fruit, but I feel that it’s more attractive than it tastes. There are ones with bright pink, rich purple and white flesh.

Durian

This picture of cut open durian is taken from here.

Also known as the “King of Fruits,” is the most expensive fruit on the market in Asia. You’ll find that this fruit, like stinky tofu, smells… well like crap. It smells so bad that it’s actually banned from most hotels, buses and trains.

However, even with the terrible smell, this fruit (like the custard apple) is like a super fruit, containing health benefits.

  • High amount of fat, but cholesterol-free
  • Natural laxative
  • High amounts of vitamin C and vitamin B groups.
  • Manganese, copper, iron and magnesium.
  • Potassium, assisting in controlling heart rate and blood pressure.

Jack Fruit

When finishing off climbing the Central Mountain Range in Taichung (don’t worry I won’t go into how unfit I was climbing the steep beast of a small mountain) I came across a tree bearing massive fruit that I’ve never seen before. It was basically the size of my head times two. After doing some research, I found out that the jack fruit is the largest tree-born fruit in the world and it can weigh up to 45 kg.

The jack fruit is part of the mulberry family and has a yellowish and pulpy flesh – a little like banana and the seeds can be boiled and eaten like beans.

Green Apple Guava

This picture of fresh green apple guava is taken from here.

It’s actually quite hard to decide which fruit is my favourite, so you can disregard the first time I said it above. Green apple guava, unlike the more widely-found Thai maroon guavas, are crispy in texture like an apple.

The apple guava is grown in tropical and sub tropical climates, and is commonly found in eastern Asia, the caribbean, and south and central America (being native to Mexico). It’s also very nutritious as it contains large amounts of vitamin A, C and fibre.

In Asian, we slice the guava up, often deseeded (though I enjoy the seeds), and eat it with preserved plum or prune powder.

Longan

This picture of fresh longan is taken from here.

Directly translated, longan means dragon eye and since I was born in the year of the dragon, I’m very fond of this fruit. Unfortunately, this trip was in winter and longan is not in season – which made me very bleak. This is one of my best childhood memories as I remember my dad came back from Taiwan to South Africa with a bunch before, and like lychees, we peeled them, got messy and ate them.

Longan is a tropical fruit and part of the lychee family – the flesh tastes similar, but sweeter, and wraps around a large enamel-like stone/pip. The skin on the outside is smooth, unlike the lychee. You can also find dried longan, which is often used in desserts, like the Eight Treasure Sweet Soup.

Pomelo

I’m saying this again, but seriously… one of my all-time favourites, is the pomelo. This fruit falls in the citrus family and is a type of grapefruit. Unlike the grapefruit found here in South Africa, pomelos are sweet, a tiny bitter (maintaining the grapefruit flavour) and so damn juicy.

We can find them in South Africa, I often buy them from Checkers, if I can find them, or from the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill. Yellow folk also eat them on the night of Mid-Autumn Festival, along with mooncakes.

Wax apples 

The wax apple is a fruit I ate almost everyday in Taiwan. This fruit is widely cultivated in the more tropical areas. In South Africa, Durban is the only city that can grow these fruit trees owing to the much-needed humidity. It’s also known as a love apple, java apple, Royal Apple, bellfruit, Jamaican Apple, water apple, mountain apple, cloud apple, wax jambu, rose apple, and bell fruit.

The exterior is a shiny colour of red ranging to purple, with a bit of a white/colourless wash and the flesh on the inside is white. The fantastic thing about the wax apple is the texture. Even though it has a foam-like candy floss mesh, the ratio of the amount of water to flesh this fruit holds is equivalent to that of a watermelon.

original post can be seen on Butterfingers

Fried Spring Onion Pancake 蔥油餅

December 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

Directly translated, 蔥油餅 means spring onion / green onion / scallion oil pancake and it is a fantastic side starch to add to a dish or to eat as an appetiser. In Taiwan and China, it’s as “common” there as you would find slap chips in Cape Town.

The method for making these spring onion pancakes is very similar to puff pastry because what makes it special, is the layers of flakey and crispy dough that forms the body.

Recipe:

  • • 3 ½ Cs of cake flour
  • • 1 ¼ Cs of room temperature water
  • • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • • ¼ C canola/sunflower oil
  • • Oil to fry with
  • • Salt to taste

Method

  • Make  ball of dough with ½ C flour and a little hot water, then add the rest of flour and room temp water. (Keep back ½ C flour for step 3)
  • Leave for half an hour wrapped in cling film
  • In a small bowl, mix oil with ½ C of flour
  • Break the dough into pieces the size of golf balls
  • Roll a ball of dough out flat
  • Baste a Tbsp of the oil and flour mixture on top and sprinkle over 1 Tbsp of spring onion and a pinch of salt
  • Fold two sides in, one on top of the other with the basted side on the inside
  • Roll it out. (Similar to the process of making puff pastry)
  • Repeat steps 2 and 3 two more times
  • Fry it on a low-heated pan, until it becomes golden and
  • Cut into blocks or slices to serve
Pictures of the method can be seen on the original post on my blog – Butterfingers