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Friday, January 30, 2009

Easy Green Tea Tiramisu Recipe

Updated 29 January, 2009

Originally published 14 January, 2007

This is the dessert that capped our Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 meal.

Green Tea Tiramisu

I got this recipe from my good friend, Elizabeth, with whom I've been swapping recipes for a long time. She told me about a green tea tiramisu recipe that she was trying. I was so intrigued by the idea of "Asianifying" tiramisu that I had to try it myself.

I've since made green tea tiramisu a few times, and Nate has even taken a video of me making it. Nate has been requesting this dessert as his birthday cake ever since the first time I made it. Yes, that's how much he loves it.

It's So Easy!

Making green tea tiramisu couldn't be easier. I don't know where people get the idea that making tiramisu is a lot of work. It's not hard at all and yet the taste is so satisfying.

When you make it a green tea tiramisu (or green tea-ramisu, as Nate calls it), it's not that much more complicated than regular tiramisu. Granted, if you do it my way, it does take a bit more work to look so pretty. But trust me, even with the extra work, it's not any harder than baking a cake. And in this case, you don't even have to bake!

Use Fresh Matcha (Green Tea Powder)

From having made a few of these, I can tell you that the matcha that you buy does affect the color of your tiramisu. If it's very fresh, the matcha will turn your mascarpone mixture a bright green but if you let the matcha get too old, it'll start to lose the intensity of color and also the flavor. The one I made this last time used up the last of my matcha and the color was much lighter.

I did notice that the caffeine jolt though was lighter too compared to the first time I made it. The first time I made the green tea tiramisu, I got so wired after just sampling some of the mascarpone mix while making it. This time around, it didn't have the same effect. Go figure!

A Few More Green Tea Tiramisu-Making Tips

As for the making of green tea tiramisu, you really just need to get yourself some ladyfingers from the store. I've found that Trader Joe's carries them cheapest of all (but I also found out that they are now making it a seasonal thing so I was very fortunate to find them when I went a few weeks ago).

If you want, you could make a sponge cake to go with it but like I said, this is an easy recipe and you'd be spoiling that by having to BAKE!

The next thing you need to do is brew some very strong green tea (not too much), just about a cup's worth. Let that cool.

For the mascarpone portion of the recipe, I like to whip my egg yolks in a bowl over simmering water to cook the eggs a little. This is probably the hardest part as the egg yolks are really thick and gooey when you first get started on the whipping. (Of course if you don't care about heating your eggs up, then the work of whipping the yolks with sugar could be done on your electric mixer and then it would be no problem at all.)

Once the egg yolks are whipped to double its volume and pale in color, the rest of it is a breeze. Mix all other ingredients in and then on to assembly.

Now, if you're keeping it really simple, it's all a matter of layering. Soak ladyfingers, lay on bottom of pan, add a layer of mascarpone mixture, repeat. End with mascarpone mixture. Just before serving, dust on some matcha.

The end.

Alright, not quite the end. If you want to do the picket fences like what I did, first, you'd have to have a springform pan. Then you need to measure your ladyfingers against the side of the pan and cut the end off one side so that the ladyfinger will stand up just skimming the top of the pan. Cut enough ladyfingers to line them all up around the pan (flat side facing inward). Then do as the above instructions. Not that much more difficult right?

Green Tea Tiramisu


1-1 1/2 cups brewed green tea, cooled
ladyfingers or plain sponge cake (I ended up using a bit more than 2 boxes of ladyfingers, but that was because I doubled the recipe to do the picket fence)

Green Tea Mascarpone Mixture
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
250g mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract, or any orange-flavoured liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)
2 tsp matcha (green tea powder)

Japanese Match


1. Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a stainless steel bowl set over a pot of simmering water, until the mixture is pale yellow and has doubled in volume. Cool the mixture in an ice water bath.

Egg yolks and sugar beaten over simmering water, for green tea tiramisu

2. In a mixer, beat the mascarpone cheese until smooth & creamy. Don't overbeat it or it will get clumpy (though if that happens, it's not the end, you can still smooth it out at the end with the cream).

3. Add the matcha powder in small amounts at a time, adjusting according to your taste. If you prefer a stronger matcha taste, feel free to add another teaspoon of matcha powder. Mix to blend well.

Adding matcha powder to mascarpone for green tea tiramisu

4. Fold the mascarpone cheese into the slightly cooled egg yolk mixture above.

5. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Add vanilla or orange liqueur, if using.

6. Fold the mascarpone mixture above into the whipped cream until well blended.

Folding green tea mascarpone mixture into whipped cream for green tea tiramisu

7. Dip each ladyfinger into the brewed green tea (don't let them sit in the tea too long or you'll get super soggy ladyfingers but give it a second or two so they do get a little soft). I use a pie plate so that it's easier to place the ladyfinger in the tea. I just roll the ladyfingers over to get them soaked then remove them and layer them on the bottom of a rectangular glass dish, pyrex dish or springform pan.

layering ladyfingers for green tea tiramisu

8. Spread the mascarpone cream mixture on top, and repeat layers until finished (for me, that is three ladyfinger layers and three mascarpone layers). The top layer should be the mascarpone cream layer.

Top layer of green tea tiramisu

9. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or preferably overnight to let it set well. I find that overnight is best.

10. Dust with matcha just before serving.

Green Tea Tiramisu

Green Tea Tiramisu

Green Tea Tiramisu: A Little Slice of Heaven

Slice of Green Tea Tiramisu

Here's the video Nate made of the Green Tea Tiramisu production process:

Cheers, Annie

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cioppino Hot Pot Recipe

Here is the recipe for the cioppino hot pot that we made for our recent Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 dinner

Cioppino Hot Pot

The first time I visited California, my uncle took me down to Monterey to go see the aquarium there. That evening, we went out to dinner and I ordered the cioppino. It was the best, most amazing seafood soup I had ever tasted. I was hooked on cioppino.

Fast forward several years later to when Annie and I had been living here in the Bay Area a few years. I've always had that cioppino on my mind. One evening, Annie made a huge pot of cioppino for us and a group of friends, using the Tadich Grill Cioppino recipe from Saveur Magazine. Everyone loved it.

Covering the Cost

In fact, our guests loved the cioppino so much, they said that they would gladly pay us to make it again. All that wonderful but expensive seafood made doing this dish at home cost-prohibitive. But if we had some help getting the ingredients, we could do it. What could be better than having someone else cover the cost of the meal?

Enter the Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 program. Each month, Foodbuzz features 24 blogs doing 24 meals in a single 24 hour period. If you are selected as one of the 24 bloggers to present a meal that month, you receive a stipend that will help cover the cost of the meal. Cool beans!

Build a Better Cioppino

When Annie and I were developing our proposal for the meal, we were thinking of incorporating a Chinese New Year theme. Hot pot is a really popular dish among Chinese, especially around Chinese New Year. (In fact, Kian Kho of the excellent Red Cook food blog also did an amazing hot pot dinner for his Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 meal. I guess great minds think alike!)

But I didn't want to do just a regular hot pot. I wanted to give it a San Francisco Bay twist to it. I thought, what's a seafood soup dish that's popular in the San Francisco Bay Area. *ding!* (lightbulb flashes on) Cioppino! Of course!

We could totally do this! It would be great, because we wouldn't have to worry about how much all the seafood was going to cost. In fact, it would be better and healthier to do a cioppino hot pot-style. Why?

Higher in Flavor, Lower in Fat

The original Tadich Grill cioppino recipe calls for all the fish, shrimp and scallops to be dredged in flour and fried in butter and oil. A cup of olive oil and 16 tablespoons of butter, to be exact. Sure, that cioppino would have tons of flavor. But that's an awful lot of fat. And remember, Annie hates frying fish.

Doing this cioppino hot pot-style, there would be no fish frying. Everything gets cooked in the broth, right at the table. The meal would be high in flavor yet lower in fat. Me likes!

Procuring and Preparing the Ingredients

We knew exactly where to go to get our seafood: our favorite fishmonger, Pat from Mission Fresh Fish. Pat has supplied us with fish for several of our recipes, including Pan-Fried Sanddabs, Wild Salmon Cakes, and Ikan Pepes. And he always gives us a good deal.

We gave him a call, told him what we were doing and what we wanted and placed our order. The day of the dinner, we went over to the Saratoga Farmer's Market to pick up our seafood. As soon as we got home, we started prepping.

First, we peeled the large shrimp, leaving the shells on just the last tail section. We took the peeled shrimp shells and boiled them in some water to make a shrimp stock, which we then strained.

Large Shrimp and Cooked Bay Shrimp for Cioppino

Large Shrimp and Cooked Bay Shrimp for Cioppino

Next, we sliced up the halibut fillets into thin slices. We also cleaned the scallops, removing any of the harder muscle. The scallops gave off a lot of liquid, so we had to drain them on paper towels for a while.

Sliced Halibut and Large Scallops for Cioppino

Sliced Halibut and Large Scallops for Cioppino

Then, we cleaned the clams and mussels. We tried our best to pick out the dead ones (they don't close tight when you squeeze them). We pulled off the mussel "beards" as well.

Clams and Mussels for Cioppino

 Clams and Mussels for Cioppino

Finally, we removed the cooked Dungeness crab bodies from their shells and cleaned off the gills and guts. Then we cut each body section into quarters.

Dungeness Crab Sections for Cioppino

Dungeness Crab Sections for Cioppino

The ingredient list for the cioppino broth is:

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and finely minced
2 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 leek, white part only, trimmed, cleaned, and chopped
1⁄2 small fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
2 28-oz. cans crushed Italian tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
4 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
2 pinches cayenne
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

First, the veggies were sauteed in a large stock pot with 8 Tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup olive oil.

Sauteeing Vegetables for Cioppino Broth

Sauteeing Vegetables for Cioppino Broth

Then Annie added the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, followed by 6 cups of shrimp broth. Next came the herbs and spices. For an added Asian twist, we put in a stalk of lemongrass that had been lightly crushed. We brought the cioppino broth to a boil, then lowered the heat and simmered, stirring occasionally and adjusting the seasonings to taste.

Adding Crushed Tomatoes to Cioppino Broth

 Adding Crushed Tomatoes to Cioppino Broth

(Oh, one more thing. Remember the crab shells from the Dungeness crab? There's a lot of lovely crab fat and tomalley left in the shell. We scraped all that into the cioppino broth as well. Mmmmm-MM!)

As the dinner hour got closer, Annie heated up a large skillet with a couple Tablespoons of oil and 2 cloves of garlic (minced). She then poured in 2 cups of Sauvignon Blanc and brought that to a boil. Working in batches, she tossed in the clams and mussels, covered the skillet, and let them steam for a few minutes. The clams and mussels that popped open were transferred to a bowl and set aside. (We discarded any that didn't open.)

Steamed Clams for Cioppino

 Steamed Clams for Cioppino

Dinner Time - Let's Eat!

I had set up a portable butane stove in the middle of our dining table. After our Thai-inspired Caesar salad course was cleared, we started cooking the cioppino hot pot. We transferred some of the broth from the large stock pot into a shallower pot, and brought that to a boil over the butane stove. Then we lay down some of the shrimp, fish, scallops, clams, mussels, and finally Dungeness crab sections into the broth. Covered the pot and let it come to a boil again.

Cioppino Hot Pot Boiling

 Cioppino Hot Pot Boiling

Within a few minutes, the cioppino broth came to a boil. We ladled out all the seafood into individual bowls (one of our guests, Michael from Cooking for Engineers, has a good picture of his bowl of cioppino.) Then, it was time to chow down.

Ladle Full of Cioppino

Ladle Full of Cioppino

I could tell that there wasn't as much butter in this version of cioppino compared to the previous versions. But that didn't matter, because the stew was bursting with so many other flavors. From the sweet shrimp, scallops and crab to the firm halibut flesh to the briny clams and mussels, it was perfect.

After everyone finished their first portion, we refilled with more cioppino broth from the stock pot, and started a second batch of seafood boiling. After that second helping, we were feeling pretty full, but pretty good!

Aloha, Nate

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thai-Inspired Caesar Salad Recipe

Thai-Inspired Caesar Salad Recipe

This is the recipe for the "Thai-inspired" Caesar salad that our neighbor showed us, which we served at our recent Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 Chinese New Year dinner.

"Thai-Inspired Caesar salad"

Ingredients for Salad

2 hearts of Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro
4 hard-boiled egg whites, chopped
Fried won ton noodles
cubed chicken breast (optional)

Ingredients for Dressing

1/2 onion, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp Italian dressing

1 tsp finely minced garlic
4 hard-boiled egg yolks
1 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 cup water
2 tsp fish sauce
1/2 cup Italian dressing
1 Tbsp sugar (to taste)


1. Thinly slice half a white onion and marinate it with the Italian dressing.

Thinly sliced onion marinating in Italian dressing

2. Hard boil 4 eggs. When cooked, cool, drain, then peel the eggs. Cut them in half and separate the yolks from the whites. (Chop the whites up and add them to the salad.)

3. Mash the egg yolks in a bowl.


4. Add the garlic, peanut butter, mayonnaise, water, fish sauce, and Italian dressing. Stir well to combine. It should be a smooth sauce, with very little lumps.

5. Add the marinated onions to the dressing.

6. Add in the sugar, a little at a time, until it reaches the desired balance of sweet to tart. (We used white sugar, but palm sugar from Thailand would also work.)

When ready to serve, lightly toss the lettuce, egg whites and fried won ton noodles together with the dressing, then plate up.

Thai-Inspired Caesar Salad

Thai-Inspired Caesar Salad Recipe

What I like about this dressing is that you can customize it to your tastes. It is nice and garlicky but it also has the added peanut element, not to mention the fish sauce that replaces the Worcestershire in the original recipe.

Aloha, Nate

Hungry for more salads? Click below:

Chopped Shrimp Waldorf Salad

Sweet Corno di Toro Peppers in Mexican Chopped Salad

$15 Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad for $5

Strawberry and Tomato Salad with Maple

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Chinese New Year Cioppino Hot Pot

Gong Xi Fa Cai - Happy New Year!


A few weeks back, Foodbuzz put out a call for proposals for another one of their "24, 24, 24" meals. Since the date would be very close to Chinese New Year this year, Annie and I submitted a proposal, focusing on a Chinese New Year theme. We were surprised and honored to have been chosen as one of the food blogs featured this month.

Time for Some Hot Pot

The Chinese in Malaysia like to celebrate Chinese New Year with a hot pot / steamboat dinner. The whole family gathers round a large table, with a pot of broth boiling in the center. All sorts of goodies (fish balls, meats, veggies, and seafood) are added to the pot, cooked, and consumed. At the end of the meal, when all the ingredients have turned the broth enticingly sweet, noodles are added and enjoyed with the broth. It is quite a gustatory experience!

Our concept was to take the Chinese steamboat and give it a San Francisco Bay Area twist, by making a cioppino broth and cooking various types of seafood like halibut, scallops, mussels, and Dungeness crab. And we would buy all the seafood from our favorite fishmonger, Pat from Mission Fresh Fish. Sounds good, huh?

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 Dinner at House of Annie

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 Dinner at House of Annie

Of course, what would such a great dinner be without great company? So we invited Carolyn the Food Gal and Michael of Cooking For Engineers, plus their spouses, over to the House of Annie for dinner. We had had Michael and his wife over for an heirloom tomato tasting last Summer, but we've never met Carolyn in person before. As fortune would have it, they were both available for dinner!

Looking for Inspiration

But now, the pressure was on, to cook up something really special for our honored guests with seriously refined palates. The main course would be cioppino, and we planned to do a tiramisu for dessert. But we had no idea what to do as an appetizer.

We thought about doing a batch of wild salmon cakes with kaffir lime, but figured that might be too much seafood already. So I was flipping through Lidia's Italian American Kitchen, and came upon her Caesar salad recipe. But how to make it "fusion", in light of our fusion cioppino hot pot? Just then our neighbor walked in.

"Whatcha makin'?"

"We're doing a hot pot for New Years, but cioppino instead of Chinese-style."

"Cioppino? Sounds interesting."

"Yeah, but we're wondering what to do as an appetizer. We were thinking about doing a Caesar salad, but don't know how to 'Asian-ify' it."

"Oh, my Thai friend showed me a Caesar salad dressing that's really good."

"I'm all ears!"

"Okay, start boiling some eggs, then I'll come back with the recipe."

She came back, and together we worked out the dressing until we were satisfied with the flavor. When our guests arrived and we got dinner started, Daniel helped to toss the salad fixings with the dressing, then plated. (We will blog the Thai-inspired Caesar salad recipe in an upcoming post.)

"Thai Inspired" Caesar Salad

After the salad came the main course. Earlier in the day, Annie prepared the cioppino broth using the celebrated Tadich Grill recipe that we've had success with in the past. But we put a little Asian spin on it by adding some minced ginger and lemongrass stalk. (We will blog that recipe for cioppino hot pot in another upcoming post!) Annie had pre-sliced the halibut, shelled the shrimp, and pre-steamed the mussels and clams. The crab came pre-cooked but we cleaned it and cut the body up into quarters.

We brought the pot of broth out to the table, set it up on a portable butane stove, and got it boiling. When it was ready, we added the fish, scallops, shrimp, crab, mussels and clams to the pot, then covered it to simmer.

Cioppino Hot Pot Boiling

 Cioppino Hot Pot boiling

Once the pot came to a boil again, we ladled out the ingredients into each diner's individual bowls.

Cioppino Hot Pot: Crab, Shrimp, Clams and Fish

 Cioppino Hot Pot: Crab, Shrimp, Clams and Fish

That cioppino, chock full of sweet, fresh seafood, was alluring and sumptuous. Slices of Semifreddi's sourdough bread helped to sop up the flavorful broth. A 2006 Ecco Domani Chianti, brought by Carolyn, was the perfect accompaniment to the meal.

For dessert, Annie wanted to keep to the Italian-Asian fusion theme and made a green tea tiramisu, a recipe she'd done before to rave reviews. (We have an old YouTube video of the green tea-ramisu making, and we will blog the green tea tiramisu recipe for it in -- you guessed it -- another post).

Green Tea-ramisu

 Green Tea-ramisu

This being Chinese New Year, Annie also wanted to share some of her homemade pineapple tarts. Michael contributed his almond-orange biscotti to our fabulous meal.

Homemade Pineapple Tarts and Almond-Orange Biscotti

Homemade Pineapple Tarts and Almond-Orange Biscotti

Of course, this dinner wouldn't have been so fabulous without our fabulous guests. Being foodies, our conversation ranged all over, from wagyu steak to perfect fried chicken to barbecue to Chef Boyardee. We shared stories, compared notes, picked up tips, and generally had a blast! Our conversation ran long into the night. Incredible as it may seem, perfect strangers became fast friends.

Thank you, fabulous friends, for sharing in the bounty of our table. And thank you, Foodbuzz, for helping make it happen! We simply must do it again sometime.

Cheers and Aloha,

Annie and Nate

If you aren't a subscriber to the House of Annie blog, be sure to do it now (it's free!) so you don't miss out on our Thai-inspired Caesar Salad, Cioppino, and Green Tea-ramisu recipes, coming soon. Sign up to receive all our latest posts in your RSS reader or your Inbox.

Hungry for more Foodbuzz-sponsored experiences? Click below:

Getting Buzzed at the Fabulous Food Festival

Getting Buzzed at TomatoFest

Getting Buzzed at Tokkuri Tei (Honolulu)

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Kabocha Squash with Spinach in Coconut Milk

Kabocha Squash with Spinach in Coconut Milk

While I was flipping through my Malaysian cookbooks, this recipe jumped out at me. The actual title of the recipe was "Sweet Potato and Spinach in Coconut Milk". Right at the end of the recipe, there was a footnote that stated that pumpkin could be used instead of sweet potatoes. I jumped at the chance as I had a kabocha squash that I was wondering what to do with.

Hard at First

The hard part of this recipe is cutting and peeling the kabocha. If you've ever tried to cut a kabocha squash and peel it, it's really humbug as the squash can be rather hard. One trick that has worked well for me is to prick the kabocha with a knife in several spots and then microwaving the whole squash for about 2 minutes on high. At that point, the squash would have softened enough that it's easier to cut it open and carry on prepping from there.

Of course, if you don't have a pumpkin or kabocha squash, sweet potatoes will work just as well. And you will have an easier time with the prepping of sweet potatoes than kabocha!

This dish is a lovely wintertime bowl of hearty vegetables that will warm your bellies and your tastebuds. Okay, on to the recipe...

Kabocha and Spinach in Coconut Milk

adapted from "Malaysian Favourites" by Wendy Hutton

6 shallots, rough chopped
2 large red chillies, quartered (I used some homegrown jalapenos)
1/2 tsp belachan (dried shrimp paste), can be found at 99 Ranch Markets *
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp dried shrimp (hae bee), soaked in hot water to soften, and drained
500 ml (2 cups) coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
400g (14 oz) kabocha (about one medium kabocha), peeled and cut into chunks
150g (5oz) spinach, coarse stems discarded (I just used a bag of young spinach leaves)

Peeled Kabocha Squash and Rehydrating Hae Bee

Peeled Kabocha Squash and Rehydrating Hae Bee

1. Grind the shallots, chillies and belachan in a blender or food processor until finely blended, using a little oil if needed to keep the mixture turning. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle and pound until fine.
2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and stir-fry the blended ingredients over low-medium heat, about 4 minutes.
3. Add the dried shrimp and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
4. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.
5. Add kabocha and salt and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until kabocha has gotten tender but not over soft (if using sweet potatoes, simmer for less time, about 10 minutes, or until tender).

Kabocha Squash with Coconut Milk

Kabocha Squash  in Coconut Milk

6. Add spinach and continue to simmer until vegetables are cooked, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed (I found that it needed a bit more salt and I also added a dash of fish sauce for more saltiness).

Kabocha Squash with Spinach in Coconut Milk

 Kabocha Squash with Spinach in Coconut Milk

7. Transfer to a serving bowl, and serve hot with rice.

*Note for those of you who are squeamish about using belachan, let me tell you that it's just a small amount and the more pungent smells are not noticeable at all once it's cooked into the dish. I would even say it's a great introduction to belachan for the uninitiated.

Kabocha Squash with Spinach in Coconut Milk

Kabocha Squash with Spinach in Coconut Milk

Turns Out Well

The dish turned out really well, full of sweetness from the kabocha and coconut milk and luxuriantly creamy as well. The heat is barely noticeable but just lends an added dimension to the dish. Hardly spicy that even my kids could handle the dish and they loved it for the sweetness of the kabocha!

The dried shrimp and belachan add a nice salty seafood counterpoint to the creamy sweetness. It almost has a "laksa" feel to it and I can imagine the leftovers making a good vegetarian laksa noodle soup (if you're a pescaterian).


Cheers, Annie

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Hungry for more squash dishes? Click below:

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Homemade Baked Char Siew Bao

Homemade baked char siu bao

A while back I posted a recipe for Baked Red Bean buns. I've been wanting to follow that up with this post because I use the same dough recipe to make the buns but the filling can be changed up.

There is a lot you can with that basic sweet dough recipe. As you know, besides the red bean buns, I've also just rolled them up and wrapped them around hot dogs to make hot dog buns. And I've even gotten some pork soong (pork floss) and stuffed that in the dough.

This time around, I made some char siew filling for the buns. They're not quite like the ones you find at the dimsum places. If you know how to make that filling, would you please share it with me?

Homemade Baked Char Siew Bao

Homemade Baked Char Siu Bao

The Little Bao That Packs a Big Punch

I do like the one I'm sharing today though. It is a little bit more sesame flavored but still packs quite a flavor punch. I don't recall where I got the recipe from already (I just have it written down on a piece of paper) but I believe it probably came from (which is a great resource for Malaysian recipes, by the way).

This filling is more commonly used for another baked char siew bun called Seremban Siew Pau. In Malaysia, Seremban (a small town) is famous for its baked char siew baos. They are different from the version I make in that the Seremban Siew Pau pastry is flakier. I have been meaning to try that version and when I do have success with that, I will post it here.

In the meantime, do try out this baked char siew bao filling!

Char Siew Filling for Baked buns

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
500g char siew, diced small
110g yellow onion, diced small
3 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sesame oil
1/8 tsp white pepper
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
4-5 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp tapioca flour
1 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1. Heat vegetable oil and stir-fry the onions over medium heat until translucent, about 2 mins. Add in char siew and stir to mix.

Adding Char Siew to Onions for Char Siew Bao Filling

Adding Char Siu to Onions for Char Siu Bao Filling

2. Add in soy sauce, salt, sesame oil, white pepper, oyster sauce, sugar and stir to coat char siew and onions and continue to cook over low heat.

Adding Oyster Sauce to Char Siew Filling

Adding Oyster Sauce to Char Siu Filling

3. Mix tapioca flour and AP flour with water to make a slurry and add to char siew mixture. Stir to coat and cook till mixture thickens a little, over med-low heat.
4. Add sesame seeds and remove filling from heat.

Adding Sesame Seeds to Char Siew Filling

Adding Sesame Seeds to Char Siu Filling

5. Cool char siew seasoning and place in refrigerator to slightly harden the filling for better ease in wrapping the buns. Char siew filling can be made several days ahead. The filling also freezes well for use later.

I find that this recipe gives me just a little extra filling after I've made my dough recipe. If you find this to be the case, you can use the extras in stir-fries or in fried rice (it's the best, mixed in fried rice).

Follow the instructions on our Baked Red Bean Buns post to make the dough and bake the char siew bao.

Homemade Baked Char Siew Bao

  Homemade Baked Char Siu Bao


Cheers, Annie

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Hungry for more Malaysian Baked Goods? Click below:

Pandan Chiffon Cake

Homemade Pineapple Tarts, Part 2

Pandan Kaya Bread

Third Aunt's Butter Cake

Roti Boy Butter Buns

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Sweet and Sour Fried Fish Recipe

Sweet and Sour Fried Fish

Sweet and sour dishes are probably some of the most popular dishes in Chinese American restaurants. Sweet sour pork especially seem to have become very much a staple of any Chinese restaurant here. My mom used to make sweet sour dishes at home a lot too. And the color is nothing like anything I've seen at the Chinese restaurants here.

Here, most sweet sour dishes are BRIGHT RED and the sauce tends to run more sweet than it does sour. I have never quite got used to that red coloring when I eat sweet sour dishes at restaurants here.

No Need to Go Deep

Truth be told, I don't really like making sweet sour dishes because the meat normally has to be deep fried before the sauce is made. And I'm not a big fan of deep frying. Every time I deep fry, I'm reminded of why I don't like it--my kitchen and whole house gets oily and I tend to get so grossed out from all the oil, that I don't enjoy eating the food. That is not to say I don't like deep-fried foods, I love them (can you say FRIED CHICKEN--Yum!)! I just choose to order them at restaurants and have them do the dirty work for me.

But I've found that when you use fish, especially fish fillets, you don't have to deep fry. Just a coating of seasoned flour and pan frying will suffice! So every so often, I will make sweet and sour fish.

It's So Simple!

And when I do, I try to recreate the sauce that my mom uses to make her sweet and sour dishes. It's actually quite simple--it's really just a combination of tomato ketchup and sweet chilli sauce with a touch of soy sauce and sugar. Add this up with some water and some cornstarch and you're pretty much good to go. The tomato ketchup gives the sweet and sour flavors you need and the sweet chilli sauce adds a little more depth (not really very much heat) to the overall flavor of the sauce. If you don't have sweet chilli sauce, you can also use sriracha to add some heat but you'd have to add a bit more sugar.

As for the vegetables that go into the sauce, you can use almost any hard, crunchy vegetables you have on hand. The basic vegetables I would normally use include diced onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes. If you have them, you can include bell peppers, pineapples, zucchini or just mix and match as you please!

This time around, I cut up some thin slivers of ginger and fried that golden before adding the rest of the vegetables. I did this because I find that ginger goes really well with fish and I happen to have lots of ginger on hand.

On to the recipe...

Sweet and Sour Fish

For the fish:
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
6 4oz halibut fillets (any firm white fish will work, I've used tilapia with great success as well)
1/2 cup cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp white pepper

For the sauce:
1 inch ginger, thinly sliced
1/4 yellow onion, large diced
1 mini cucumber, or 1/4 English cucumber, large diced
8-10 cherry tomatoes, or 1 globe tomato, large diced
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
4 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2-3/4 cup water
1 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch

1. Pat fish fillets dry and coat them with the seasoned cornstarch.
2. To your saute pan, add vegetable oil and heat over medium heat.
3. When oil is shimmering, add fish fillets and pan fry till golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Do not crowd the pan by placing too many fillets in the pan at one time. Transfer to a plate while you prepare the sauce.

Pan-frying fish fillets for sweet sour fish

Pan-fry fish fillets for sweet sour fish

4. Prepare the sauce: combine the ketchup, sweet chilli sauce, sugar, water, soy sauce and cornstarch and set aside.
5. If your pan still has a lot of oil, remove all but 1 tablespoon from the pan. Throw in the ginger and fry till golden brown over med heat.
6. Add onions and stir-fry over med-high heat for one minute. Onions should still be quite firm. Add the rest of the vegetables you are using and give it a quick stir.

Onions, Tomatoes, and Ginger for Sweet Sour Fish

Onions,tomatoes, and ginger for sweet sour fish

7. Pour in the sauce and turn heat to med-low. Stir sauce around. The sauce should start to thicken. Taste and adjust seasonings (if not sweet enough, add more sugar, if not sour enough, add more ketchup or white vinegar).

Pouring Sweet Sour Sauce on Vegetables

Pouring Sweet Sour Sauce on Vegetables
8. Remove from heat and pour sauce over fish. Serve immediately with rice.

Sweet Sour Fried Fish

 Sweet Sour Fried Fish

Concession: You know how Nate was telling you about the Old Bay blackened halibut in a previous post and how he used his cast iron pan and the fish did not stick at all? Well, he suggested I use the cast iron pan to fry my sweet and sour fish. Of course, I was dubious and chose to ignore his suggestion, going with my not very non-stick pan instead.

And as you can see from the "Pan-Frying Fish Fillets" picture, the fish did not come off perfectly clean. So I concede, he was right (as he gloatingly showed me when he made the blackened halibut right after I was done with this dish). I will not doubt the ability of the cast iron pan from now on.


Cheers, Annie

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Hungry for more fish dishes? Click below:

Fried Sanddabs with Garlic and Oyster Sauce

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Ikan Pepes - Indonesian Spiced Fish

Lomi Lomi Salmon

Grilled Arctic Char

Continue Reading: "Sweet and Sour Fried Fish Recipe"...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Old Bay Blackened Halibut

We had a huge piece of halibut sitting in the freezer that we needed to use up. We defrosted it, and cut it into several fillets. Annie decided to take a few of the fillets and make a sweet and sour fish dish (that's for another post). I took the remaining fillets and coated them with a couple tablespoons of Old Bay Blackened Seasoning.

Old Bay Blackened Halibut

Old Bay Blackened Halibut

I heated up a couple tablespoons of veggie oil in my cast iron pan over medium-high heat, then lay down the fillets when the oil got hot enough.

Old Bay Blackened Halibut in Cast Iron Skillet

 Old Bay Blackened Halibut in Cast Iron Skillet

Wait about 4-5 minutes, then flip with a spatula. Cook another 4-5 minutes.

Old Bay Blackened Halibut in Cast Iron Skillet

 Old Bay Blackened Halibut in Cast Iron Skillet

When the fish felt done, I removed them to a plate to cool. Talk about a quick dinner!

Old Bay Blackened Halibut

 Old Bay Blackened Halibut

Seriously, I think this Old Bay Blackened Halibut recipe is as easy as, or even easier than the Old Bay Blackened Shrimp recipe I did before. The fish came out pretty tasty, with a mild pepper heat and the distinctive celery seed notes of Old Bay. The only thing I would advise is that it is better to cook this outside so you don't end up with a house smelling of fried fish.

A Note About the Cast Iron Skillet

I don't think I've shown us cooking with this cast iron skillet before. I actually got this Lodge brand skillet back in 2007, when they were going for a good deal at Costco. But it hasn't seen as much action in our kitchen as our other non-stick pans. I only have pictures of a pan-fried ribeye, a roast chicken, some popcorn, and the homemade whole-wheat tortillas that I did last year.

Of course, I have been cooking other things with this pan (just not taking pictures!), and carefully following the instructions to season it. Slowly, the cast iron skillet's surface has been getting more and more non-stick.

So now, when I cooked these Old Bay blackened halibut fillets, they did not stick to the pan at all! They got a nice crust, and slid right off the bottom when I had to flip them. And clean-up was easy as well. Just wipe it down with some paper towels and brush out some of the remaining crispy bits.

I'm really happy to have gotten these cast iron skillets, and look forward to years more cooking with them!

Aloha, Nate

Hungry for more quick seafood recipes? Click below:

Steamed Shrimp with Ginger and Green Onions

Fried Sanddabs with Garlic and Oyster Sauce

Old Bay Blackened Shrimp

Steamed Egg Tofu with Ground Pork and Shrimp

Continue Reading: "Old Bay Blackened Halibut"...