Rice Dumplings for the Dragon Boat Festival

I like traditional food. Yesterday I’ve made some rice dumplings which are traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival (celebrated on the 5th of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar, which is on 6th Jun this year).

There is story about the rice dumplings that their origin was to prevent fish eating the poet Qu Yuan’s body, who drown himself in river for failing to prevent his king against the expansionism by the other State during the Warring States Period.

Anyway, I think rice dumpling is decent, beautiful and delicious as food itself. There are different recipes and wrapping methods in different places of China, as well as both savory and sweet versions. Below is a simple and delicious savory recipe that I like.

Rice Dumpling (Zongzi) (makes 20 small / 10 large dumplings)

Ingredients

Glutinous rice 500g

Split mung beans (i.e. green beans) 250g

Pork belly 250g

Duck egg yolks 10pcs, cut in half for small dumplings

Dried bamboo leaves – 20 large pcs or 40 small pcs

Hay straw 10 pcs or 20 pcs (1 for each dumpling)

Marinate for pork belly: 1 tp salt, 1/2 tp five-spice powder

Marinate for glutinous rice: 2 tps salt, 2 tbps peanut oil

Marinate for mung beans: 1 tp salt

Steps:

1. Soak glutinous rice in water for 4 hours. Drain and mix with the salt and oil

2. Soak mung beans in water for 2 hours. Drain and mix with the salt

3. Cut the pork belly into 20pcs. Marinate with salt and five-spice powder for 2 hours

4. Soak to soften the dried bamboo leaves in hot water for few minutes

5. Wrap the dumplings as below video.

For large dumplings, put 2 tbps glutinous rice, 1 tbp mung beans, 2 pcs pork belly, 1 whole duck egg yolk, and further 2 tbps rice and 1 tbp beans, then wrap up.

For small dumplings, put 1 tbp glutinous rice, 1/2 tbp mung beans, 1 pc pork belly, 1/2 whole duck egg yolk, and further 1 tbp rice and 1/2 tbp beans, then wrap up.

6. To cook the dumplings, covered and boil the large dumplings in hot water for 3 hours, and small dumplings for 2 hours. The water would be absorbed by the glutinous rice quickly, hence will need to add additional hot water to the pot every 20-30 mins.

7. Serve hot with soy sauce or sugar! Yum!

Spiced Stout Buns

There are stout, black tea and rum in this bread. I served it warm and the alcohol flavor was so strong! Love it.There are also grounded ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange peel, lemon peel and dried raisins in this bread. All resulted in an intense flavor.

I could not find Mackeson Milk Stout and hence have used another stout to replace it. There was rum in this bread because I used dried fruits and peels that I have soaked in rum for months. When I ate the bread cold the alcohol flavor in the fruits was still strong.

For the cross, I used only flour to mix with water this time, but I think that the one having oil, flour and water from Jeffrey Hamelman’s recipe gives better result.

Compared with Hamelman’s hot cross buns, this one has personality, the crumb also has sweetness from the stout, while Hamalman’s has a lot of fruits and is “fluffy” in texture.

Jeffrey Hamelman’s Hot Cross Buns:

http://baobread.wordpress.com/2008/07/10/hot-cross-buns/

Dan Lepard’s another Hot Cross Buns:

http://baobread.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/hot-cross-buns-ii/

Spiced Stout Bun Recipe:

http://www.danlepard.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2799

Chinese New Year Dumplings 油角

I like dim sum and Chinese festival food, although they are fading as time goes.  I learnt to make some of them from a chef few years before, including the below Chinese New Year sweet dumplings.

I looked for the English name of the dumplings on the internet, and there were many versions: “Fried Triangles” (well they are not triangles), “crispy peanut puffs” (there are other fillings in these dumplings), “Yau Kok” (the Cantonese pronounciation), “Yau Jiao” (Mandarin version). I think we better standardize the English name in order to better promote these delicious food. I now will just call them “Chinese New Year Dumplings” which should be the easiest to remember.

These dumplings consists of a sweet filling wrapped in a piece of dough. They look similar to the savory ones but are sweet and deep fried. The dough is made of egg, sugar, flour, water and lard (or shortening), and let rest for a while before shaping. It’s similar to making a flaky pie crust, so you can imagine the texture of the dumplings is also similar. In the filling, there are sugar, desiccated coconut, peanuts and sesame seeds.

The dumplings resemble ancient Chinese gold ingots, hoping each other to make more money by giving them out or eating them. In the old times people would make them at home before Chiense New Year. It’s less common now. Luckily my brother likes them so I have a chance to make some.

Today is the day before Chinese New Year. Happy CNY!

Mooncake (月餅)

Mooncake

Today is the Mid-Autumn festival (中秋節), the second biggest Chinese festival besides the Lunar New Year. It’s on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar. This day the moon is the roundest and fullest. Traditionally it represents 團圓,which is to gather with your beloved ones to have dinner, enjoy the moonlight, play lanterns, etc.  Mooncakes symbolize the moon. We give out and share mooncakes to celebrate this day.

Below is the mooncake recipe. I learnt from a Chinese dim-sum chef 3-4 years before. The ingredients are quite different from western pastries. There are more photos of this recipe in Flickr . Hope you’ll enjoy. Happy Mid-Autumn!

Tool: plastic mould 膠模 (Traditionally we use wooden ones 木模. Plastic ones are convenient for moulding and storage)

Ingredients (10 small mooncakes):

a) Flour 40g (This 美玫麵粉 is the popular brand for making dim sum and mooncakes, with different ash and protein than general cake and bread flours)

b) Lyle’s Golden syrup 金獅糖漿 28g (don’t substitute with other brand as the acidity of the syrup will affect the result)

c) Peanut oil 13g

d) Food lye 食用鹼水 1/8 tsp

Lotus seed paste 蓮蓉 300g

Peanut oil (for lotus seed paste) 2 T

Salted duck egg yolks 鹹蛋黃 5pcs (divide into half)

Egg yolk 1pc

Steps:

1) Mix a) to d) which will be the crust. Rest for 30 minutes.

2) Divide the lotus seed paste into 10 portions. Put 1/4 tsp peanut oil in your hand. Fold the lotus seed paste in your palm. The oil will slowly be absorbed, and the lotus seed paste will soften a bit. Roll it into ball.

3) Wrap the duck egg yolk in the seed paste.

4) Sprinkle flour onto the counter. Roll the crust dough into a roll. Divide into 10 portions (9g each).

5) Sprinkle more flour on the counter. Flatten the crust dough. Big enough to wrap the seed paste with duck yolk. The dough will be very thin. Use a scraper to help taking it out.

6) Wrap the seed paste with duck yolk inside with the flattened dough.

(In flickr photos I used a quicker method in 3)-6) for wrapping but it’s hard to describe by words. The above method also works which is to wrap each part step by step)

7) Dust some flour to the plastic mould to avoid sticking. Put in the dough. Press on counter. The moulded mooncake will come out.

8 ) Bake at 180C for 6 minutes. Then take out. The crust should be hardened and set. Brush some egg yolk to the patterns.

9) Bake for an extra 7 minutes. You’ll notice the patterns are turned brown as in 1st photo above with the egg yolk on.

10) Rest the mooncakes at room temperature for at least 2 days. This is the process of 回油, where the mooncakes will absorb the oil from the lotus seed paste, and the crust will get shinier and tenderer.

Hot Cross Buns

These hot cross buns are from Jeffrey Hamelman’s “Bread” recipe. It has an interesting sponge, which the flour to milk ratio is 1:5, with some yeast and sugar, waited until the size is 3-4 times bigger. The sponge lookes like expired milk after fermentation.

The bread texture was fluffy too. This was the first time I tasted a “fluffy bread” and I love the texture. This bread is soft, very spicy, and has lots of dried fruits. It’s the best hot cross buns I ever had. :)

Fermented flour, milk, yeast & bit of sugar:

Lots of dried fruits and peels:

Recipe: “Bread” by Jeffrey Hamelman (you can find the recipe from the internet easily)

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