Crystal Dumplings

crystal dumplings

Crystal dumplings are a unique kind of dumpling that takes the name crystal as it looks a bit like a crystal on the outside with it’s almost translucent skin. Obviously this dish doesn’t contain a crystal.

Sometimes Taiwanese families will cook crystal dumplings around Chinese New Year because both the look and name of this dish sounds pleasant. You will find often in Chinese, Cantonese and Taiwanese cuisine people love to serve food with a name like dragon, phoenix, pearl, gold, diamond, crystal or something else.

I tried using a couple different recipes for the pastry in this dish but in the end I found the easiest but best recipe is simply to use potato starch and sweet potato starch. If it’s too difficult for you to find sweet potato starch then just potato starch on it’s own is fine.

For the filling I used beef mince instead of pork mince for a change. An awfully large number of Chinese and Taiwanese dishes use pork or chicken as their main meat ingredients but I don’t always want to use this ingredients. My work partner told me “change is the spice of life” last week and that has stuck with me. I really dislike falling into a certain cooking pattern so for this and my new few blog posts I’ll be using completely different ingredients.

crystal dumplings

Another thing I’m thinking about doing is expanding my website to include some western dishes that I have learnt over the years. Through college, eating out in different cities, friends and working as a chef I have learnt a lot of really tasty Western recipes.

So here is the recipe for today. It’s not pork or chicken and also it hasn’t been deep-fried. I hope you will enjoy it and remember give me some feedback.

Credits: Preparation photos were taken by myself but final photos were taken by Chris at: http://www.chrisradleyphotography.com

crystal dumplings procedure
crystal dumplings procedure
crystal dumplings procedure
crystal dumplings procedure
crystal dumplings procedure
crystal dumplings procedure

 

 

Crystal Dumplings

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

Ingredients for filling

  • 500 g beef mince
  • 1 small carrot chop finely
  • 2 stalks celery chop finely
  • 1/2 onion thinly sliced
  • 1 slice ginger chop finely
  • 2 shitake mushrooms soften in hot water and chop finely
  • 1 tbsp deep fried shallots

Seasonings for fillings

  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice wine
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 tbsp rock sugar

Ingredients for pastry

  • 1 cup sweet potato powder
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 1 cup hot water around 95 degrees
  • Few drops Vegetable or sunflower oil

Taiwanese sweet chili sauce ingredients

  • 3 tbsp miso sauce
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp glutinous rice flour

Instructions

Procedures for filling

  1. Heat a wok with 2 tablespoons oil. Stir fry the onion and ginger until onion gets a little bit golden and brown colour.
  2. Add mince and keep stir-fry it until outside of mince cooked.
  3. Add celery and carrot and keep stir-fry it for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add all the seasonings and water. Bring it to the boil first then turn the gas power down to medium and reduce down the sauce until it’s nearly dry.

Procedures for pastry

  1. Add salt, sweet potato powder and potato starch into a big bowl and pour the hot water a little bit once.
  2. Add some oil to knead the mixture until it’s not sticky anymore.
  3. Cover a wet clothes on top of the mixture and leave it for 10 minutes to relax the mixture.

Final procedures for crystal dumplings

  1. Separate the pastry mixture to appropriate size of small balls and flatten it by your hand.
  2. Put 1 teaspoon of filling in the middle and close tightly by your hand.
  3. Use your fingertips to change the shape from a ball to a triangle shape.
  4. Boil a pot of water and cook the crystal dumplings in it. They are cooked when the dumplings float on top of the water.

Sweet chili sauce procedure

  1. Mix everything evenly in a small pot.
  2. Bring the mixture to boil and turn to low heat to cook it until the mixture turns fairly sticky.

Recipe Notes

** You can use soy sauce as dipping for crystal dumplings or you can also try to make this Taiwanese sweet chilli sauce at home.

Fried Wonton authentic recipe

fried wonton recipe

Wontons are a very popular dish in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Even different provinces in China have different names and different cooking styles for this popular dish.

There are many different stories about Wontons. My favourite story is about how Xi Shi created this dish. Xi Shi is one of the four most beautiful women in Chinese history. She originally comes from Kingdom of Yue during period of time called Spring And Autumn.

During a war with King Fuchai of Wu, King Goujian of Yue was imprisoned after he was defeated. After his imprisonment, King Goujian of Yue secretly planned his revenge. He trained beautiful women and offered them to Fuchai as a gift and Xi Shi was one of those beautiful women.

Xi Shi created Wonton during her mission for which she was to seduce King Fuchai. One day, during a big party, King Fuchai became sick of all of the food at his party and became annoyed. Xi Shi ran to the kitchen in a panic to try and find food to please King Fuchai. King Fuchai took one bite of her Wonton and was surprised by the taste of it. He asked Xi Shi “what is this tasty dish?”

Xi Shi thought King Fuchai was a completely ignorant, chaotic, stupid pig. In Chinese language, there is a word which sounds very similar to wonton which translates to chaotic, so she decided to call this dish Wonton.

So, this is basically how Wonton was created. Even though the name for this dish isn’t that affectionate it doesn’t affect the taste. I deep-fried the wonton today instead of serving it in more traditional wonton soup as I really like the crunchiness of the batter. I have to say I really love wontons whether they are in soup or deep-fried but my personal preference is for deep-fried.

Credits: Preparation photos were taken by myself but final photos were taken by Chris at: http://www.chrisradleyphotography.com

fried wonton procedure
fried wonton procedure

 

Fried Wonton authentic recipe

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 25 wontons

Ingredients

  • 250 g prawn
  • 100 g pork shoulder meat cut into small dices
  • 3 spring onion chop roughly
  • 2 slices ginger chop roughly
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 30 sheets wonton pastry

Instructions

  1. Process half of the prawn, pork, spring onion, ginger and all the seasonings in a food processor.
  2. Roughly chop the other half of the prawn and mix evenly with step 1 (this ensures the filling texture tastes better).
  3. Put 1 teaspoon of filling in the centre of the pastry and use your fingers to gently close the pastry tightly as shown in the procedure photos.
  4. Heat a wok with some oil at full gas power. Put the wontons into the wok and turn off the gas and let the wonton fry until the wonton turns a nice golden colour.

Recipe Notes

** Oil temperature is about 180 degree. Turn off the gas after placing the wonton inside so it cooks through. This will ensure the outside doesn’t burn but the inside isn’t raw.

 

Tan Tsai Noodles

tan tsai noodles recipe

In Edinburgh the season has changed once again and it’s turned really cold now. I feel like I’m still recovering from our holiday where we had really hot weather but recently I’ve had a really nasty flu and so the weather in Edinburgh hasn’t helped. The best kind of food for this kind of cold wet weather is a bowl of hot and tasty noodle soup. So, today I’m sharing with you a famous Taiwanese noodle soup called Tan Tsai Noodles.

The story of Tan Tsai noodle began in 1895. There was a fishmonger, Mr Hong, whose family migrated to Fucheng from Zhangzhou in China where he learnt how to cook noodles while making a living catching fish. After some time he moved to Tainan in Taiwan where he still made a living catching fish.

In Taiwan there are two festivals, one called the Tomb-Sweeping Fesetival which is held in March and the other called the Moon Festival which is held in August. Between these seasons is a period called the “Slack Season” where fisherman can’t go out on the water, so Mr Hong began selling noodles.

His noodles had a unique taste and so became really popular so he then decided to sell noodles full time. During the beginning he would carry his noodles on shoulder poles so he could sell them in the streets, so he called these noodles “Slack season Tan Tsai Noodles”. These are known as “Tu Hsian Yueh Tan Tsai Noodles”. “Tu Hsian Yueh” means slack season in Chinese and “Tan Tsai” translates to shoulder poles in Taiwanese.

So, as you can imagine this noodle soup perfectly sums up my situation right now. Since coming back from holiday I’ve been experiencing a slight “financial slack season” and all of the ingredients for this recipe are easy and cheap to get hold of. But the most important thing about this dish is the price doesn’t reflect on the taste, it’s still incredibly tasty. It proves that both expensive and cheap food can be equally tasty. Personally, I like local market food rather than fancy restaurant. It tastes a lot more home made but good home made food is always better than restaurant food.

By the way, I finally took a final picture myself. Now it’s getting dark and with Chris’s work schedule he really doesn’t have time to take photos himself so he taught me how to do the photos. Hope you like it.

Credits: Preparation photos were taken by myself but final photos were taken by Chris at: http://www.chrisradleyphotography.com

tan tsai noodles inredients

 

Tan Tsai Noodles

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 3 people

Ingredients

Ingredients for the noodle stock

  • 1 chicken bone
  • 6 Prawns only use the shells for the stock, keep the prawns for garnish
  • 1 handful bonito shaving also known as Katsuobushi shavings
  • 3 Spring Onions cut into 3cm lengthways
  • 2 slices ginger
  • water

Ingredients for the mince sauce

  • 400 g pork mince
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Rice Wine
  • 2 tbsp fried shallots
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 tsp rock sugar

Instructions

Procedure for the noodle stock

  1. Remove the shell from prawns and use a little bit of oil to sauté the prawn shell
    tan tsai noodles procedure
  2. Roast the chicken bone in the oven until the bone gets some colour on it
    tan tsai noodles recipe
  3. Put everything into a stock pot and cover the ingredients with water.
  4. Boil it first then simmer for 2 hours. It’s now ready to serve with noodle.

Procedure for mince sauce

  1. Heat a wok with 2 tablespoons oil and stir-fry the pork until it’s cooked on the outside.
  2. Add all the ingredients and mix them evenly. Boil it first then simmer around 30 minutes to reduce down half of the sauce.

Final procedure for Tan Tsai Noodle

  1. Poach the prawn and vegetable in a pot of boiling water first. After cook the noodle in the boiling water.
  2. Place noodle and some mash garlic (optional) into a bowl and pour some mince sauce on top. Garnish with prawn and vegetable and add the soup.

 

Deep fried chicken legs with savoury sticky rice

Normally for female chefs it’s very hard to get promotion and near impossible in my home country but no matter how hard you work men always seem to get the promotions first. So after I left college I worked as a chef for a period of time but couldn’t go anywhere with it and gave it up for a few years. Then I moved to the UK in 2007 and found I could get a job as a chef fairly easily and have gone on from since then.

During my time in the UK I have worked in two really top quality restaurants and a number of lesser quality restaurants but as some may now getting promoted as a chef takes time. So, I joined the Witchery in March of this year and after six months I have a promotion. When I was told I have it I nearly danced across the kitchen and almost cried my eyes out but I was afraid he would think I’m a lunatic.

So, it’s now time for me to share a new recipe with you. I saw this “Deep fried chicken leg with savoury sticky rice” dish a long time ago but I’ve always wanted to try to make this dish and now it’s the time for it.

Even though the cooking method for this dish is deep fry it’s not entirely deep-fried. The chicken legs must steam first to make sure the whole shape has set but then you can deep fry it to make the skin turn crispy. I hope you can try it and give me some feedback.

 

Ingredients for savoury sticky rice:

2 cups sticky rice, soak with 3 cups of water for 1 hour
300g of pork belly. Remove the skin and cut it into rectangle shape as per the procedure photo.
4 dried shitake mushrooms, soak in warm water to soften it and thin slice it after.
2 tablespoons dried shrimp, soak in warm water to soften it and chop roughly after.
2 slices ginger, chop roughly
2 cloves garlic, chop roughly
1 spring onion, chop roughly

Seasonings for savoury sticky rice:

½ tablespoon rock sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cut soy sauce
1 ½ cup water
1 tablespoon rice wine

 

Procedures for savoury sticky rice:

  1. Cook the sticky rice in the steamer or rice cooker. The water and rice percentage should be 0.9: 1. So, if it’s 100g of sticky rice and you should pour 90g of water in the rice to cook with. I, personally use a rice cooker to cook my rice so I put my sticky rice and water in a big bowl and pour a cup of water outside of the bowl to cook. It will take around 45 minutes to cook the rice.
  2. Heat a wok with 2 tablespoons oil and stir-fry the garlic, ginger, spring onion. Add the rock sugar after the aroma starts to come out of the wok.
  3. Add pork to stir-fry it until the pork is cooked on the outside.
  4. Then add shitake mushroom and dried shrimp, mix evenly.
  5. Add all the seasoning and water. Boil it first then simmer it to reduce down the sauce.
  6. Mix everything together with cooked sticky rice and pour ¼ teaspoon of sesame oil. This is the savoury sticky rice done.

Ingredients for Deep fry chicken legs with savoury sticky rice:

2 chicken legs, including thighs. De-bone them but we keep the skin.
Some sticky rice

 

Seasonings for Deep fry chicken legs with savoury sticky rice:

1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper powder
½ teaspoon rice wine
Some corn flour

 

Procedures:

  1. Marinade the chicken legs with salt, black pepper powder and rice.
  2. Wrap some sticky rice within the chicken legs and wrap up with cling film. Steam for around 15 minutes.
  3. After the chicken legs have cooked. Cool it down before you remove the cling film and coat them with corn flour and deep-fry it in 180-degree oil until the ouside is a nice golden colour.
  4. Cut it into 1.5 cm ~ 2 cm slice to serve with some sweet chilli sauce or ketchup.

* Chicken legs must cool down first before removing the cling film or they will easily break up and cause a problem when deep-frying them.

Credits: Preparation photos were taken by myself but final photos were taken by Chris at: http://www.chrisradleyphotography.com

Crispy Chicken with Chili Sauce

crispy chicken with chili sauce

Crispy chicken with chili sauce, known in Chinese as 椒麻雞 is a dish that my grandpa cooked for me often when I was young. I always helped grandpa to grind the Sichuan peppers for this dish with a mortar and pestle. This dish always brings back my earliest kitchen memories. Grandpa used to pan fry the Sichuan peppers first and then give to me to grind. He always told me this method of preparing Sichuan peppers will make the flavour of the pepper stronger and taste much better.

Even now, mortars and pestles still play a very important part in my cooking. It’s a versatile tool and is much cheaper than a hand grinder. You can buy it in a lot of shop.

As you can imagine with the Sichuan peppers, this dish tastes a little bit spicy. You can adjust the percentage of Sichuan peppers and chilis if you can’t eat food that’s too spicy. Here is my little suggestion before you start grinding the Sichuan pepper. Heat up a frying pan or wok without oil and stir-fry the Sichuan pepper at the lowest heat first. Once you start to smell the fragrance then turn off the gas and start grinding it. Don’t burn the Sichuan pepper or the sauce will taste bitter and damage the whole dish.

People boil the chicken for this dish in real Sichuan cuisine but grandpa knew I loved fried chicken (You know, kids love fried chicken. I’m not exceptional lol) so he always fried the chicken for me. This dish works both ways, but I chose fried chicken today because my husband loves it too.

Credits:  Photos were taken by Chris at: http://www.chrisradleyphotography.com

 

Crispy Chicken with Chili Sauce

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 3 people

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken legs de-bone them
  • 2 spring onions chop finely
  • 1 fresh chili remove seeds then chop finely
  • 2 cloves garlic grate finely
  • 1-2 fresh coriander bunches including leaves and stalk. Chop finely
  • 2 tbsp sweet potato starch or potato starch and 2 tbsp flour. Your choice

Seasonings and ingredients for chicken marinade

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
  • 1 spring onion chop finely
  • 2 thin slices ginger chop finely
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

Seasonings for chili sauce

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Sichuan pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar add 1/4 tsp more sugar if you use white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp water

Instructions

  1. De-bone chicken leg and marinade with the seasonings and ingredients for 30 minutes.
  2. Mix all the seasonings for spicy sauce with spring onion, chilli, garlic, coriander. Mix them evenly and leave for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Coat the chicken with sweet potato powder. Heat up a wok with 2~3 cups of oil. The oil temperature should be around 150℃ and deep fry the chicken at a low heat for 5 minutes. Take out the chicken and heat up the oil again with full gas power. Deep fry the chicken until it’s crispy with a slightly golden colour.
  4. Place the chicken on a plate and pour the dressing on the top to serve.