Shrimp Shiu Mai

Shrimp Shiu Mai

Last month I was  craving dim sum or steamed dumplings and going out to my favorite Chinese restaurant that still had dim sum carts was out of the question.  The virus thing you know.

So after searching for frozen dumplings that would hit the spot I decided that I had to DIY my own.  It’s tedious, frozen ones are so much easier.  But I wanted shrimp dumplings, not chicken and shrimp or pork and shrimp, just shrimp.  So armed with my bamboo steamer and wanton wrappers I set off to make shrimp shiu mai. And they were delicious!

You can find all the ingredients at any Asian market, they’re pretty basic.

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Shrimp Shiu Mai

Ingredients:

1 Tsp. Fresh Ginger, finely grated

1 Tsp Garlic, minced

1/2 Lb. Raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 Cup Water Chestnuts (canned)

1 Egg white

1 Tsp. Soy Sauce

1/2 Tsp. Sesame Oil

1/2 Tsp. Rice Wine Vinegar

20 pcs. Wanton or dumpling wrappers

Directions:

Put garlic, ginger, and shrimp in a food processor.

Pulse until shrimp is broken up.

Add water chestnuts and pulse to chop.

Add egg white, soy sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar.  Pulse to fully combine.

Place 1 Tbs. shrimp filling on to the center of each wrapper.

With damp fingertips (dampen with water) moisten the edge of wrapper.

Pinch wrapper together into small folds.

Work around the filling so in the end the filling is still visible.

Line bamboo steamer with  parchment paper and place dumplings inside.  Allow some space between dumplings so they don’t stick together.

Steam over boiling water for about 7-8 minutes or until  filling is cooked.

Serve with preferred dipping sauce like soy sauce or seasoned rice vinegar.

 


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Almond Float Recipe

Almond Float Recipe

I remember my dad taking me to a new Chinese Buffet restaurant in NYC in 1975.  It was a new “thing” back then; it was also the first time I had Almond Float.

I’ve loved this simple refreshing Asian dessert ever since.  Imagine my delight when we moved to Hawaii later that same year and discovered Almond Float was popular and readily available at all the local Chinese restaurants.

Almond Float are cubes of milky almond flavored gelatin that’s usually added to  fresh or canned fruits.  In restaurants it’s usually found floating in a bowl of canned fruit salad with bits of canned lychee mixed in; hence the name Almond Float.  It’s a delightfully mild flavored and very refreshing, specially on hot summer days.

I liked it so much I just had to make it at home.  This didn’t happen until I was married with kids and finally learned how to cook.  It was one of the first things I learned how to make.  I mean seriously it’s just like making Jello, no cooking skill required as long as you know how to boil water.  Back then it became a staple of many birthday parties simply because it was so easy and everyone loved it.   These days I make it in the summer using whatever fresh fruit I have around, trust me it’s delicious with fresh lychee and mango!

You can easily make Almond Float to add to your favorite fruits.  It gives fruit salad a delicious almond flavor!

If you have milk allergies you can substitute the milk with Soy, Almond, or Coconut milk.  You can also use low fat milk if you prefer.

Almond Float

Ingredients:

2 Envelopes Knox Unflavored Gelatin

2 Cups Water

2 Cups Whole Milk

1 Cup Sugar

1 1/2 Tsp. Almond Extract

Directions:

Dissolve unflavored gelatin in 1 cup of water, set aside.

Bring remaining 1 Cup of water to boil.

Reduce heat to medium and stir in milk and sugar.

Stir until sugar dissolves.

Slowly stir in unflavored gelatin mixture.

Stir until gelatin is dissolved and evenly distributed.

Remove from heat and stir in almond extract.

Pour into lightly oiled 9×13 pan and refrigerate until firm.  3-4 hours.

Cut into bite sized cubes and add to a bowl of canned or fresh fruit.

Store in refrigerator  until ready to serve.

Serve cold.

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Homemade Steamed Bao Buns

Homemade Steamed Bao Buns

Bao, bau, baozi, mantou, bakpoa, paoare, siopao, or humbow; you probably know them best as Steamed Buns or Boa Buns.  They’re those soft fluffy white pockets filled with a sweet or savory filling.

Baos or whatever you call them originated in Northern China where wheat instead of rice is widely grown.  They’ve been around for hundreds of years.  Legend has it that Baos originated during the Three Kingdom Period when a Chinese general needed to cross a raging river with his army.  To ensure safe crossing the people on the other side of the river demanded that the general sever the head of 50 men; instead the general used large meat filled dough balls which satisfied the demand.

Meat filled bao buns have always been a favorite in the Philippines where they are called Siopao, they’re also popular in Hawaii where they’re known as Manapua.  Both places have a large Chinese  population who introduced this delicacy many years ago.  In fact many countries with large Chinese communities have a version of this popular food.  Recently their popularity has increased worldwide.

Baos can be shaped into balls, as they were in the legend, or they can be folded like taco shells.  They can be filled with your favorite savory meats such as char siu or sweet roast pork, pork belly, and chicken curry; or they can be filled with sweets such as black bean paste, taro, or custard.

One of my favorite bao fillings is  Korean Fried Chicken, crispy fried chicken bites dipped in a sweet and spicy sauce garnished with fresh chopped cilantro, sliced onions, and cucumbers.

Click here for the Korean Fried Chicken recipe!

Another favorite filling is Boneless Kalbi Short Ribs, thin slices of beef short ribs marinated in a sweet and salty sauce.  Then grilled and garnished with fresh green onions and sesame seeds.

Click here for the Boneless Kalbi Short Ribs recipe! 

 

But first things first, before you can fill steamed buns you must make them.  To make homemade buns you will need a steamer, I use bamboo steamer baskets, but you can use whatever you have on hand.  Other than that making steamed buns are pretty easy using ingredients that are readily available if you don’t already have them in your kitchen.

So let’s make bao buns, then you can fill them with just about anything you desire.

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Bao Buns – Steamed Buns

Ingredients:

3 3/4 Cups flour

2 Tbs. Sugar

2 Tsp. Instant Yeast

3 Tbs. Milk

3/4 Warm water

3 Tbs. Butter – softened

1 Tbs. Olive Oil

Directions:

Mix together flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of your standing mixer or a large bowl if kneading by hand.

Place warm water and milk in a separate bowl, stir in butter until it melts.

Using the dough hook of your mixer gradually stir liquid into flour mixtures.

Knead for 10 minutes either in your mixer or by hand.

Turn dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or towel.  Leave in a warm spot until dough doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Once dough has doubled in size turn out onto a floured surface.  Gently knead dough for a couple of minutes then cut into 20 pieces which you will roll into balls.

Roll each ball with a rolling pin into an oval shape about 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″.

Place on parchment paper while  you roll the rest of the balls.

Brush dough ovals with olive oil.

Place a chopstick in the middle of the dough oval and fold over.  It should now be shaped like a taco shell with a space in the fold where the chopstick is.  The oiled surface should be inside of the fold.

Slip chopstick out, place on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper, and fold the rest of the ovals.

Cover pan with plastic wrap or towel making sure plastic doesn’t touch the dough as it will stick.

Leave to rise for another hour.

When dough has risen bring water in large pot or wok to a boil.  Place about 3-4 buns into a steamer basket and steam for 10 minutes.

Remove steamed buns from steamer basket and keep it on a plate in the oven to keep warm.

Fill and serve!


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Cheesy Ensaymada – Filipino Brioche

Cheesy Ensaymada – Filipino Brioche

Ensaymada is one of my favorite Filipino treats.  It has been a popular Filipino roll for over 4 centuries ever since it was adapted from the Spanish pastry called Ensaimada which originated is Mallorca, Spain.

There or many versions of this Filipino roll which like a brioche is sweet and fluffy.  Many bakeries specialize in this yummy pastry, a couple of my favorites are Goldilocks and Red Ribbon.  Unlike the brioche which has no topping Ensaymadas are slathered in butter, dipped in sugar and sprinkled with cheese, in many cases “queso de bola” the Filipino name for Edam.

Since it’s a family favorite it’s no wonder that the aunties have their own favorite recipe.  In fact there are one or two aunties who are known for making Ensaymada, a treat which they bring to most family gatherings.

But one can’t rely on the aunties to make this favorite roll, specially since we all live so far apart.  That’s why I’ve started making Ensaymada at home, using auntie’s recipe of course!

The ensaymada dough is rolled and placed into tart pans, it’s the best way to ensure uniform size and shape.  I use these 5″ aluminum tart pans I buy from Amazon.  I’ve found it was the least expensive way to buy them.  And of course being Asian I wash and reuse them!

If I can’t find Edam cheese I use grated cheddar cheese instead.  The other ingredients are things you probably already have in the pantry and fridge.  It also calls for a dozen egg yolks, I know you’re left trying to figure out what to do with the egg whites!  How about making Pavlovas?  Here’s my Pavlova recipe, it’s definitely worth a try!

The Ensaymada recipe is pretty easy, but it does take several hours because the dough has to rise.  I usually start early in the morning and am done sometime in the afternoon, depending on how fast the dough rises.  I use the dough hook on my stand mixer to knead the dough, but you can also knead it by hand.

Homemade Ensaymada may take time and patience, but it is definitely worth the effort!

Cheesy Ensaymada

Ingredients:

1 Cup Warm Water

2 Tbs. Sugar

2 Tbs. Yeast

8 Cups Flour

1 1/2 Cup Whole Milk

1 Cup Sugar

12 Egg Yolks

1 Cup Butter softened

24 Tsp. Grated Edam

Topping:

1 Stick Butter softened

1/2 Cup Sugar

Grated Edam

Directions:

Mix Warm Water, 2 Tbs. sugar, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer or a large bowl.

Let stand in a warm place for 20 minutes, it should be foamy.

Add 1 Cup of flour to yeast mixture and mix well.

Let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes, set your timer so it doesn’t over rise.

Add milk, 1 cup sugar, egg yolks, and butter to the yeast mixture, mix well.

Add remaining 7 cups of flour 1/2 cup at a time.  Mix well between additions.

Knead dough until flour is all combined, do not over knead.

Divide dough into 24 balls working 1 tsp. cheese into each ball.

Flatten each ball with a rolling pin to about 1/2″ thick then roll into a cigar shape that’s about 10″ long rope.

Coil rope into each tart pan.

Place in a warm place and let rise for 3-4 hour.  Top of roll will be above tart pan rim.

Pre-heat over to 325 degrees. Once it reaches temperature wait 10 minutes then put ensaymada in the over.  (I place tart pans on a large baking sheet and slide the whole sheet in the oven.

Bake 7 Minutes then rotate pan 180 degrees and bake for another 7 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Remove from pans and brush tops with softened butter.

Dip each roll in sugar then sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Wrap each roll in plastic wrap.

Rolls may be frozen by placing wrapped rolls in a freezer bag.  Warm frozen rolls in microwave for about 1 minute.

They are delicious for breakfast!


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Tortang Talong  – Filipino Eggplant Omelette

Tortang Talong – Filipino Eggplant Omelette

Italy may have their Eggplant Parmesan but the Philippines has their Tortang Talong or Eggplant Omelette.  The word “torta” has many meanings in the Latin based language.  In Italy and other countries whose language is rooted in latin it usually means cake or pie.  In Mexico it refers to a sandwhich.  In Spain it can mean either a cake or an omelette.

The Philippines was under Spanish rule for about 500 years.  Much of its language, customs, and cuisine is adapted from the Spanish culture.  Hence many favorite Filipino dishes include Arroz Valenciana or Paella,  Arroz Caldo, Pastel de Lengua, Menudo, Chorizo, and Torta, just to name a few.

The word “tortang” is derived from the Spanish word “Torta”.  In the Philippines when they refer to something as “tortang” it means that it is made like a torta, which in this case mean omelette.  So Tortang Talong means Eggplant Omelette since Talong is the Filipino name for Eggplant.

Tortang Talong is a simple yet tasty way to eat eggplant.  It uses the long Asian eggplant instead of the large round eggplant normally used in the Italian Eggplant Parmesan.  The eggplant is cooked, usually over an open fire or grill, flattened, dipped in beaten eggs, then fried.  There are many versions of this Filipino dish, some of which include ground meat.  In my family we usually make it without as it’s pretty filling without meat.  I make it at home for our meatless dinner nights.  Served with a tossed salad and some olives and pickles on the side it’s simply delicious!

You can roast the eggplant up to a day in advance.  Leave the skin on and store in the fridge until ready to use.  Depending on the size of the eggplant you can either make one to share or smaller individual ones.  I usually make 2 and that feeds around 4 people.

Tortang Talong

Ingredients:

1 Asian Long Eggplant

2 Eggs

1/2 Tsp. Minced Garlic

Salt & Pepper to taste

Oil for frying

Directions:

Roast or broil the eggplant with the skin on.  You will know the eggplant is cooked when it is soft and the skin is a bit wrinkled and has turned brownish in color.

Peel cooked eggplant.  You can do this by holding the stem and gently pulling off the skin with your fingers.  The meat may stick to the skin so be careful peeling it so that you don’t take the eggplant meat with the skin.  Do not remove the stem.

Place peeled eggplant on a flat plate and gently flatten with a fork.  You should end up with eggplant meat fanning out from the top stem.

Beat eggs, garlic, salt & pepper together in  a shallow dish.

Place about 1/2 tsp. oil in a large frying pan and heat.

Place eggplant in egg mixture.  Use the fork to gently immerse eggplant (but not the stem) in the egg mixture.  Allow the eggplant to absorb as much of the egg mixture as possible.

Holding the eggplant by the stem gently place it in the hot oil.  You can pour some more egg mixture over the eggplant in the pan so that the eggplant is completely covered.

Cook until the bottom starts to turn golden brown and the egg mixture on the top starts to get a bit dry.

Gently flip the eggplant over and cook until that side turns golden brown.

Slide finished omelette onto a serving dish and serve.

Tortang Talong - Filipino Eggplant Omelette
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