Recently I had a discussion wih Chris about my food blog and what sort of food we should cook next. That’s the moment I realized I have never made any breakfast dishes before for my blog. I was a little shocked about this so for the next few weeks I’m going to focus on breakfast recipes that I like for my food blog.
Dan Bing is a really popular Taiwanese breakfast dish. 99% of Breakfast cafes, restauants and vendors in Taiwan sell dan bing in their shops. I must admit I’ve probably eaten dan bing a thousand times in Taiwan but until now I’ve never cooked it. So with a bit of advice from back home and a little research I came up with this recipe. What you see below is my first ever attempt at making dan bing and it was really easy to make, which hopefully you’ll see in the photos.
Below are some cooking tips for making this dish:
Please don’t use any extra flour when you try to flatten the dough because extra flour will make your dan bing too hard after cooked.
You can make dan bing dough the night before and store it in the fridge. Roll it and flatten in the morning. That’s totally fine.
I saw many chefs and bloggers put the dan bing dough into a plastic bag or put it in between two layers of cling film and flattened it. I was doing the same way and then I found out it’s so difficult to take the flattened dan bing out. In the end, I ended up wasting a couple balls of the dan bing dough. Because you can’t use any extra flour to stop the dough sticking to the worktop or your hands, I brushed some cooing oil on the worktop and on top of the dough. Then I flattened the dough and because there is this oil it was really easy to separate the dough from the worktop. I discovered this tip when I was young and saw a chef in a Taiwanese breakfast café in Taipei use this method. The result was great.
Please don’t season the egg. This is because dan bing is usually eaten with soy sauce or thick soy sauce.
Don’t put too many spring onions in the dan bing dough because too many spring onions will make it easier to burn the dan bing. You need to cook the dough first then add the eggs and other ingredients after but if you do want to add more spring onions I would recommend you put them in the egg.
You can make so many different flavours of dan bing! I only demonstrated 1 basic flavour of dan binsg with ham and cheese but you can also use sweetcorn, tuna, bacon, frankfurters, tomatoes, etc.
How to store the dan bing? You flatten the dan bing first then you put a sheet of parchment paper on either side of the dan bing. Then you stack them together and cling film them. When you want to cook it then you just need to take them out and pan fry with some oil at medium-low heat until both sides have turned a nice golden colour. You don’t need to defrost the dan bing before cooking.
I remembered some of these tips from my past but most from making dan bing for the first time. I hope these tips make it easier for you to try to make your own dan bing at home.
Ingredients for Dan Bing:
280g (10 ounces) plain flour 140g (5 ounces) strong white bread flour 320ml (11 ¼ fl oz) 65 degree Celsius water (149 degree Fahrenheit) 2 spring onion, finely chopped 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon sugar (demerara or caster)
Eggs (1 eggs to 1 dan bing) Some grated cheese (I use cheddar cheese in this recipe but you can use other kinds of cheese if you want to) Some ham (I use 2 slices of ham to 1 dan bing. It’s entirely up to you which kind of ham you use and how much).
Mix plain flour, bread flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl.
Slowly pour the 65-degree C water into step 1 and stir with a fork or chopsticks at the same time.
After the flour and the water have totally combined together use both of your hands to knead the dough for 3-5 minutes then make it into a ball. Leave it in a mixing bowl, cover with a couple sheets of cling film and leave for at least 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, divide the dough into 70g small balls.
Beat an egg and leave it aside.
Heat up a thin layer of oil in a frying pan at low to medium fire.
Brush a thin layer of oil on the worktop. Then place your small ball of dough on top and brush a thin layer of oil on the top of the dough. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough to as thin as possible.
Fry step 7 in the frying pan and make sure both sides are slightly golden in colour.
Use a spatula to lift the step 8 crepe up and pour the egg in and put the crepe on top.
If you make basic Dan bing then all you need to do is flip the dan bing again, which is egg side on top and you can just use spatula to roll it, then that’s ready to serve. Once it’s cooled down a little bit then slice it before serving. You can serve this dan bing with soy sauce or thick soy sauce.
If you want to make ham and cheese flavour of dan bing then you need to flip it to become egg side on top and put ham in the middle and then sprinkle grated cheese on top of ham. Then roll it with spatula. Once the dan bing has cooled down a little bit then slice it before serving.
Prep time: 45 minutes Cook time: 5 minutes Make 11-12 dan bings
Stir-fries are one of the most popular and common cooking methods in Chinese cooking. I like serving stir-fried dishes during busy weeknights because you can make a nutritionally dense meal in 15 minutes with a Chinese stir-fry. You can check out this article that I wrote about stir-fry cooking tips here before you start cooking.
I added mange tout into this recipe to make this stir-fry dish more colourful. You can use other vegetables instead of mange tout or you can just only use mung bean sprouts and beef to make a delicious stir-fry dish.
Mung bean sprout is one of my favourite Chinese / Asian vegetables. It contains barely and fat or calories and it’s full of nutrition and has multiple health benefites. It also tastes delicious and I love their crunchy texture and light sweetness in flavour. Mung bean sprouts contain lots of Vitamin B and C are are full of folic acid as well as being full of protein.
You can click here for more information and recipes about mung bean sprouts. I wrote this article about mung bean sprouts for About.com’s Chinese food page a while ago.
For food photography purposes, I remove the roots of the mung bean sprouts before I cooked the but in reality removing the roots takes a long time to do. If you’ve had a busy day and just want to quickly cook your dinner and take a rest then you really don’t need to both removing the roots of the the mung bean sprouts. It won’t affect the taste of the dish either way.
You can also replace beef with pork or chicken. I’ve used beef in my recipes quite a lot recently because I’ve suddenly found out I haven’t made enough dishes recently with beef. My husband and I are also come through a big fitness push and beef is full of protein so great for weight loss. So I’ve decided to focus on beef recipes recently.
I put a little bit of bicarbonate of soda in the beef when I marinade it as this can make the texture of the meat a bit softer. Another tip for cooking lean beef is not to cook it for too long. 20-30 seconds is more than enough time but you need to make sure your sliced pieces of beef ar similar in size and also not too thick. Sometimes I’ve seen supermarkets sell stir-fry beef and the beef often isn’t sliced thin enough but again adjust cooking times to suit the thickness of the meat. You can use either beef sirloin or fillet for this dish.
Recent Update Of My Life:
Chris and I have started looking for a new property but it’s so difficult in Edinburgh as the prices have shot through the roof in the last several years. Now if you want to rent a 2-bedroom flat in a nice area in Edinburgh you need to pay in the region of £900 a month. Some areas are cheaper but can be awful and there are other areas where you can pay two or three times that amount for the same amount of bedrooms but these are way out of our range. We are desperately trying to move into a good catchment area as our daughter is going to start school in 2017 and our current local primary school is statistically the worst in Edinburgh. While we know primary schools aren’t the be all and end all of a child’s education, the local secondary school is also the worst in Edinburgh, so, we have to move!
So if anyone knows of any two or three bedrooms properties in Edinburgh (three is preferable as we really need an office space at home) with a good size kitchen please contact me. My current kitchen is the size of a pigeon cage and for a chef and food writer it’s driving me absolutely nuts. A big practical kitchen in our next property is an absolute must and it will allow to cook all kinds of extra things like Chinese buns, pastries, home made noodles etc which I don’t have space to do now.
450g (1 pound) lean beef, julienne it
280g (10 ounces) mung bean sprouts, rinse under water and remove the roots
30g (1 ounce) mange tout, wash with running water, drain and leave aside
1 spring onion, slice 3cm lengthways
1 chili, removed seed and julienne it
Marinade for beef
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
1 clove garlic, mince it
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
½ tablespoon potato starch or corn flour
1 tablespoon rice wine or Shaoxing rice wine
½ tablespoon demerara sugar or caster sugar
¼ teaspoon coarse black pepper
½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
Marinade beef for at least 30 minutes
Heat up 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok and stir-fry beef for 20 seconds. Turn off fire and place beef on a plate. Leave it aside.
Clean the wok and dry it. Heat up ½ tablespoon oil and stir-fry spring onion and chilli first until the fragrant comes up. This will take about 10 seconds.
Add mange tout and mung bean sprouts into wok and stir-fry for 20 seconds.
Add beef back in the wok and stir-fry for another 20 seconds. Season with salt (or not) then it’s ready to serve. You can serve this dish with cooked warm rice.
One of my favourite dishes when I was young is this pineapple and prawn fried rice. Possibly the most endearing memory of this dish is having the fried rice served literally in a pineapple. It’s just so much fun to see food that has been served in a pineapple rather than ordinary plates or bowls.
I’m not really a big fan of pineapple, I won’t eat it as a fruit on itself, but I really like cooking dishes with pineapple in them. These include this prawn and pineapple fried rice dish as well as sweet and sour dishes in general. I just think pineapple once “cooked” tastes so delicious.
You can also add some toasted cashews or sweet cashews to give this dish a little bit of a nutty and earthy aroma. If you have a shellfish or seafood allergy you can replace the shrimps/prawns with chicken.
I think the most difficult part of this recipe is how to dig out the pineapple meat from the pineapple. We will use the shell of the pineapple to serve our pineapple fried rice inside. I have included procedure photos with information on what to do in this article.
Procedures for how to dig out the pineapple meat:
1. Take a whole pineapple
2. Slice the pineapple along the middle
3. Cut around the inside of edge of the pineapple in a square pattern
4. It’s easiest if you cut out the pineapple meat in square or rectangular sections. This method is much tidier
5. Pineapple meat has been cut-out. You may need to pull the meat out by hand but this is perfectly fine.
20-25 prawns, peeled, de-vein and clean.
1 small fresh pineapple, around 800g / 1 ¾ pounds (whole pineapple including skin, head, etc)
450g (1lb) cold or leftover rice
2 spring onions. Keep both the green and white parts of the spring onion separately and finely chop both.
100g (3 ½ ounces) frozen peas and sweet corn
100g (3 ½ ounces) carrot, small diced
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
Salt to taste
Marinade for prawns:
Couple pinches of salt
1 teaspoon rice wine
¼ teaspoon coarse black pepper
Marinade prawns with marinade for 10-15 minutes.
Mix 3 eggs yolks with cold rice and leave aside.
Beat the other egg, egg whites and leave aside.
Cut pineapple into half and dig out the pineapple, then cut the pineapple meat into small dices.
Boil water in a small saucepan and cook carrots until al-dente and add peas and sweet corn to finish. Drain the water and leave aside.
Heat up a little bit of oil in a wok and stir-fry onions first until they are soft. Then add pineapple to stir-fry for 20 seconds.
Add prawns and stir-fry until it starts to change to a red colour. Cook until prawns have completely turned red in colour then place on a plate and leave them aside.
Clean the wok and dry it. Heat up 1 tablespoon of oil and stir-fry the green part of the spring onion first until the fragrance comes out.
Add beaten eggs and stir-fry it like scramble eggs. When you see the eggs still half runny, add rice and stir-fry it. Use a wooden spoon to gently press the rice and mix up to try to loose any lumps in the rice.
Add white part of spring onion and vegetables (carrot, sweet corn and peas) then keep stir-frying for another 30 seconds.
Add prawns and pineapple back in the wok and stir-fry for a further 20 seconds.
Add salt and soy sauce into rice and stir-fry for another 20 seconds. Ready
This salt and pepper squid is one of my favourite Chinese Taiwanese snacks and appetizers. On a hot summer’s day I especially enjoy paring this with a nice iced cold beer.
Preparing this dish is very simple. You only need a few ingredients then you can make this dish but please be very careful when you fry the squid as the oil can explode (water on oil effect) and potentially burn you. I personally pad the squid dry after cleaning and washing it because I coat it with corn flour and normal flour.
I personally like to cross-cut the squid because it makes the squid look prettier but if you think cross-cutting is too much hassle then you can either cut it into rings or pieces. Either method is fine.
How to cross-cut squid:
Place the squid tube flat on a cutting board, with the inside facing up.
Score the squid tube with a criss-cross pattern. Cut into rectangular pieces.
Salad is always one of the best foods to eat during the summer time. In fact salad is great to eat anytime of the year but one of my favourite summer dishes is this squid salad with Taiwanese five-flavour sauce (五味醬). My husband is only now really warming to salad in his mid thirties but I made this the other day and everyone, my daughter included, loved it.
Taiwanese five-flavour sauce is a popular dipping sauce for seafood in Taiwan. Taiwanese people serve this sauce with raw oysters, cooked prawns, cooked squid, octopus and mussels. You will see this sauce in every seafood restaurant in Taiwan.
This five-flavour sauce as the name suggests embraces five different flavours; sour, sweet, bitter, spicy and pungent. I added some olive oil to this recipe because I hope people can use this sauce as a salad dressing rather than just a dipping sauce. You can adjust the amount of seasonings as per your personal preference. I found the kitchen I got from the supermarkets here in the UK is quite sour so sometimes I will add a little extra sugar to make this sauce sweeter. You can replace the vinegar with rice vinegar, sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar as you wish.
If you are not sure about cross-cutting the squid or you think it’s simply too much hassle or will take too long, then cut the squid into rings or simply dice it. Any method is complete fine. Cooking should be both enjoyable and free and you should never be bounded by a recipe. When I worked as a fine dining chef we were bound by recipes, and that was fine for that cooking scenario, but in my personal cooking I like to improvise a lot. That way rather than eating someone else’s preference you’re discovering your own.
Also if you don’t like boiled or blanched squid, then you can try to chargrill the squid.
I hope you like this simple, quick and delicious salad dish from my home country Taiwan.
A little bit of an update about my life:
I’m now working on a few exciting illustration projects right now which is making me really happy but also super busy. As you’ll know I was a full time fine dining chef a few years but I’ve spent the past five years studying illustration to try to turn my life and career around. Now instead of working all kinds of awful hours with poor pay and even worse conditions I’m now able to dictate how much and when I’m work, so I’m super happy about that.
I’m also trying to find a new home right now. Over five years ago Chris and I working not brilliant jobs and even though Chris’ earnings went up my earnings hadn’t because I sacrificed work to become a student. So right now we’re still renting and we’re looking for not only a bigger flat with more space and a bigger kitchen we’re also looking into catchment areas f or our daughter’s school.
In case you’re not familiar with a catchment area, in the UK your child can only go to the school designated for the postcode you live in. The small block of flats we live in is fine but the nearest primary school is in Muirhouse which is a really god awful area. Have you ever watched Trainspotting? Well Irvine Welse, the author, is from Muirhouse and the ideas and story behind Trainspotting came from Muirhouse. Statistically out of 86 primary schools in Edinburgh, our local is the worst. So we need to move.
So right now I work as an illustrator during the day time but at night I’m a food writer and food blogger. So you can imagine I need a really decent size kitchen t work in. My current kitchen is the size of a birdcage so making complex dishes, the ones where you need to cook multiple things at once while having all the space you need for prep, plating etc is really difficult. As it stands we’ve applied for a new housing development being built in a good area of Edinburgh but Edinburgh is so damn expensive nowadays (easily £1000 a month for a 2 bedroom flat) we’re also considering moving just outside of Edinburgh so Amelia can have a garden, we can have a bigger property and we can save money.
So wish me luck finding a new property and hope you like this recipe for Squid Salad with Taiwanese Five-Flavour Sauce.
370g (13 1/8 ounces) squid tube, clean, wash and cross-cut
Today’s recipe is Deep Fried Prawn Balls with Almond Flakes but before I get onto the recipe I’ve now been back in the UK from Taiwan for a month now and my life has been very busy but I’m really happy I’ve finally quit my job as a chef. Sometimes you just have to take a jump from one career to another and now I’ve quit working as a chef I’m suddenly got a lot of illustration enquiries so it’s perfect that I’m now working for myself.
I’ve also finally caught up with most of then projects I have been working on but I’m still struggling to find enough time to balance studying, commission projects and family. I have absolutely no idea how I managed to work in a kitchen and do all my other work as well.
With regards to my cookbook, I am always monitoring stock levels of my cookbook on amazon.co.uk and amazon.com so I can get an idea of how well the book is selling (it appears to be selling well). It also allows me to chase up my editor to make sure there is enough stock.
So back to today’s recipe for Deep Fried Prawn Balls with Almond Flakes, this is a dish really suitable for banquets and special events. I’ve always loved seafood, especially prawns, and the deep fried almond flakes are crispy and delicious. Prawns and almonds are a great combination both in terms of texture and flavour and if you put these Deep Fried Prawn Balls together properly they both look and taste great, making them perfect for banquets and special events. So maybe you can make this dish to treat your friends and family.
380g prawns, peeled 120g fatty pork 75g onion, finely chopped 1 tablespoon of spring onions, finely chopped 150g almond flakes 1/2 tablespoon potato starch or corn flour 1 egg white Oil for fried the prawn balls 600ml
1/2 tablespoon potato starch or corn flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Use a food processor to process the fatty pork first. Process the pork until it looks like fine mince.
Add the prawns to the mix and process for a further 1-2 minutes. Move everything into a big bowl once the prawns and mince are finely minced.
Add all the seasonings, onion and spring onion. Mix the the mixture clock wise for 3-5 minutes.
Roughly chop the almond flakes and spread onto a plate. This way the almond is smaller and easier to stick to the prawn balls.
Wet both hands with cold water and take a little bit of mixture and roll it into a ball. Repeat this procedures until all the mixture has been rolled into balls.
Coat the prawn balls with almond flakes.
Heat up the oil in a wok and fry the prawn balls at the lowest heat for 3-4 minutes. Moving the prawn balls around gently will help the prawn balls keep a nice round shape. After 3-4 minutes turn the stove to the highest temperature and try the balls until they turned to a nice golden colour.