Chinese Turnip Cake (Lor Bak Go)

Chinese New Years may have passed but that doesn’t mean we still can’t celebrate with Chinese Turnip Cake! I love ordering these at the restaurants and with our never ending obsession with buying daikon to make pickled daikon or Japanese dishes, it seemed to make sense to make turnip cake with any extra daikon that we can’t finish.

However, as some of you may know, finding Chinese recipes on the internet isn’t exactly the easiest thing and even when I do find one, I’m skeptical as to how credible the source is how ‘authentic’ the recipe is. Lucky for us, we’ve stumbled across the blog WoksOfLife and tried a few of their recipes and found them to be quite authentic and delicious. And thus, they became our default go to site for any Chinese recipes. When we decided to make Chinese Turnip Cake, lo and behold, we checked their site first and luckily, they had it (yay!)

The ingredients aren’t too hard to find – in fact, we would say most of them are staples in a Chinese household.

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Momofuku Pork Buns

In our previous post, we talked about how we made steamed buns. Well, it’s time to put it all together! As part of our Momofuku week, we made a variety of dishes from the Momofuku cookbook including the Compost cookie, Roasted Sweet Summer Corn, and now this! Pork Buns 🙂

These little buns were so much fun to make and realistically, you can put whatever the heck you want inside as fillings. The original cookbook suggested this to be served with pickled cucumbers but we ran out so we used pickled carrots and daikon instead which was just as good! It could also be served with lettuce or any greens of your choice.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a pork bun without the pork. We purchased thick cut pork belly for this at our local grocery store (which was surprisingly hard to find in our area!). I personally found that the thicker the cut, the better.

In order to maximize flavour of the pork belly, it needs to be brined first. So, liberally coat both sides of the pork belly with equal parts sugar and salt. One they’re both fully covered, leave it to sit overnight in the fridge for at least a day.

When you’re ready to cook them, rinse off the extra sugar and salt – otherwise, it’ll be overly salty when you cook them. Pat them dry and bake the pork belly at 250F in a baking tray for approximately an hour and a half. Be sure to flip them halfway into the cooking time to ensure even cooking. Then turn up the oven to 400F and roast for another 10 minutes or so or until golden brown as shown below.

Cut the pork belly into smaller pieces and insert in steamed buns along with pickled veggies and serve with other accompaniments such as Hoisin sauce and rice!

 

 

Steamed Buns Recipe

There is nothing I love more than steamed buns. If I had to choose between artisanal bread and steamed buns, I will choose steamed buns. For the longest time, I’ve put off making steamed buns because I was a bit intimidated by the process – and also because I didn’t have a steamer.

I’ve made steamed buns in the past but mostly it was used in the form of a traditional steamed bun where there’s filling inside and you can’t see it until you bite into it. See my Nikuman – Chinese Steamed Pork Buns recipe I made in the past to better understand what I’m talking about.

However, while I was making my Momofuku themed dinner, I stumbled across David Chang’s Pork Buns recipe which used the traditional steamed buns recipe but instead of stuffing it with filling, it was used almost like a taco wrap.

This recipe was really easy to make – it took about the same amount of time as making any standard bread recipe. Plus, I also found the bun a bit sweet which I like! The buns turned out really well – it was super soft and fluffy 🙂 I think I might use this recipe as the foundation of my other steamed buns recipe moving forward.

From an aesthetics point of view, this style of bun was great because you get to see exactly what you eat and it can be more visually appealing. It also lends a different texture than a crunchy lettuce wrap if you were to have pork belly ssam for example.

To learn how to make this steamed buns recipe, see below! To learn more about the Momofuku Pork Buns that I made using this steamed buns recipe (see photo above), click here.

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Chinese egg tarts

Hello everyone!

It has been a while since our last blog post. A lot has happened since then – we got engaged, we went on vacation for 2 weeks to Italy and Greece, and I got a new job!

Our bunny Beans breaking the news to our family and friends
Our hotel at Santorini, Greece. Isn’t the view breathtaking?! No filter required..

I think that’s a good reason as to why we’ve been MIA, right?

Anyways, we are back and this time, with a classic Chinese pastry dish – egg tart! This is a very popular item that can typically be ordered at dim sum restaurants or bought at local chinese bakeries. They usually come in two types of crust – puff pastry or cookie crust. I personally prefer the cookie crust but my SO prefers the puff pastry kind.

Given I’m pretty lazy and making puff pastry from scratch is a lot of work (and requires A LOT of butter), I decided to cheat and buy the pre-made stuff (I know – blasphemy!) These frozen tart shells make making egg tarts so much easier. The custard itself is super easy and you can probably make this within 5 minutes. If you’re unsure what treat to bring to your friend’s dinner or potluck and you’re short on time, you can easily gravitate toward this recipe.

To make these egg tarts, whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, water, and salt into a bowl until thoroughly combined. You may have some residual egg whites not fully integrated into your custard mixture – to ensure a smooth batter, be sure to strain the custard mixture into a separate bowl to ensure a smoother custard texture. I like to strain my mixture into a measuring cup because it makes pouring into the tart shells much easier.

Fill them up to the brim and bake them at 365F for approximately 20 minutes.

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Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) – Updated Recipe

If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll know that chicken and duck went on sale for us last week and we stocked up quite a bit…

With all this poultry that is enough to last us a a couple of months, we had think of different recipes to make with it. One easy one we could think of was Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken). It just required a simple marinade and a light dusting of potato starch before deep frying.

We made this a while back using a different recipe which you can read about here and although J could barely taste a difference, I personally prefer this recipe more as I felt that the chicken had more flavour than the other recipe.

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Miso Clam Soup

We had some friends over for dinner this weekend and considering we are trying to refine our Japanese cooking skills, we decided to have a Japanese themed dinner.

We started off our morning gathering all of our ingredients. One of the dishes we wanted to make was Miso Clam Soup so naturally, we had to get some fresh clams.

Diana’s seafood was our go to fish market for this – it’s pretty far from where we live but we can always count on them for having the largest variety of the freshest fish.

We picked up a few items from there but we can post about those later 🙂 We picked up two types of clams for our soup since we wanted to mix it up a bit: Littleneck and savoury clams.

Savoury (left) and Littleneck (right) clams

People often store their clams by throwing the closed bag in the fridge or soaking them in water until they’re ready to use. This is not the best way to store your clams as you are at risk of killing them. Clams need to breathe so the first thing you should do when you are home is to open up the bag. Although it is perfectly normal to soak the clams for an hour or so to help them purge the sand they were sucking in from the ocean floor, they should not be soaking in water for any longer than that as clams are not used to living in fresh water.

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Cold Soba Noodles with Dipping Sauce

For those of you who don’t know, one of the main reasons why I decided to start this blog was to keep a running collection of recipes that we’ve tried over the years, capturing the ones we enjoyed the most. Instead of making adjustments to recipes and then not remembering what we did to alter it, it was just so much easier to document it online so that we don’t lose our notes considering how unorganized we are. It also makes looking up a recipe much easier because we tend to make things we like over and over again.

As people who love to cook and bake, we thought this would be a great project for us. Plus, it made sharing recipes with family and friends so much easier. We have decided to try and take this project to the next level with the goal to produce a cookbook within the next year. We aren’t really planning to sell the cookbook, it’s more so something we can see as an accomplishment for ourselves. But who knows, maybe it can one day make it to the bookshelf 🙂

The hardest part was thinking about what the theme of our cookbook would be – considering how much we love Japanese food, it made sense that our first cookbook would be about Japanese cooking. We already have quite a bunch of Japanese recipes on our blog such as Agedashi Tofu, Miso Cod, Ochazuke, and Japanese Strawberry Shortcake just to name a few but it’s time to build on it even more. Stay tuned because you will see lots of Japanese recipes coming up on this blog 🙂

I decided to take the day off today to start working on some recipes and update our blog. The easiest dish that I could think of making was Cold Soba Noodles with Dipping Sauce.

Cold soba noodle is a very popular dish in Japan, especially during the summer months when you want something to cool you down. Typically it is served with Mentsuyu sauce which is a multipurpose sauce used in Japanese cooking. It is often served with noodles and tempura dishes just to name a few. Best of all, this sauce can be made in advance and be stored in the fridge for up to a month. This means the next time you’re hungry for some cold soba noodles, all you need to do is boil the noodles which would take no time at all!

How to eat Cold Soba Noodles

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Hojicha Creme Brulee

If you’ve been following our blog for some time now, you’ll know we are pretty into Japanese food and have experimented quite a bit with Japanese cooking. Matcha has been all the craze for the longest time but recently, a new type of Japanese tea has been rising in popularity – Hojicha!

Hojicha is a roasted variation of green tea. I’ve had it several times in Japan and upon returning to Toronto, I started noticing it more in restaurants. In fact, a fairly new Japanese dessert shop in Toronto (Tsujiri) that typically specializes in matcha desserts came out with Hojicha soft serve ice cream and it was really good. Though I personally felt it left a bit of a bitter aftertaste due to how strong the tea flavour was, I enjoyed it.

This inspired us to make Hojicha creme brulee. The great thing about Creme Brulee is that it’s a very versatile recipe. Once you have the base recipe down, you can essentially make any flavour you want. We are still in the process of experimenting with the ratios but I think the first round went well.

As when we experiment with any new recipe, we always try to make it in small batches first as to not waste it if it all turns sour. I found a recipe on SeriousEats that makes creme brulee just for one — perfect! From there, I just adapted the recipe by steeping 1/2 tbsp of hojicha into the whipping cream and voila! This creme brulee is born.

We plan to continue refining this recipe and adjusting the portions as we go. What I like about our blog is that it’s a place for us to keep track of what we made, and allow us to track refinements as we go along.

Hojicha Creme Brulee

Hojicha Creme Brulee

Ingredients

  • 100 g whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp hojicha leaves
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 tsp of sugar (to carmelize for the creme brulee)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300F and boil some water for the square 8x8 baking pan which you will use for the bain marie.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the whipping cream over medium high heat until it comes to a gentle simmer. Once it starts to bubble a little bit around the edges, turn off the heat and add the hojicha tea leaves. Cover and let steep for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Once it's done steeping, strain the tea leaves and put the infused whipped cream mixture back into the pot to keep warm.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolk and sugar together. Then, slowly add a bit of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture to temper it while whisking continuously. Then, add the rest of the cream mixture in a bit at a time. This will prevent the eggs from cooking. Finally, add the vanilla extract.
  5. Put the mixture into a ramekin and place the ramekin into the square pan. Fill the pan with boiling water and bake for 40 minutes or until the centre is firm when you shake it.
  6. Allow to cool for 15-20minutes and then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  7. When ready to serve, sprinkle the top of the creme brulee with the remaining sugar and blow torch the top to get that signature carmelized top.
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http://cookingwithteamj.com/2017/07/03/hojicha-creme-brulee/

 

 

Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is my guilty pleasure. Perhaps it’s because I really don’t know what else I can do with all the fresh basil we’ve been growing in our garden other than making pasta sauce but this dish is pretty solid. I’ve been making it so much that I’ve been told to cut back on it because eating that much cheese on a daily basis can’t be good for you.

All you really need to make this dish is 3 main ingredients – some form of mozzarella cheese (we used Burrata), fresh basil, and tomatoes.

Usually whenever we make this dish, we use good quality extra virgin olive oil and a generous amount of freshly ground salt and pepper to season. However, since the quality of these tomatoes and cheese was so good, we were able to cut back on the seasoning quite significantly (which is better for our health!). I could eat this up for DAYS. I’m not typically a salad person but I could have this on the regular that’s for sure 🙂

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Ingredients

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil
  • Fresh Burrata Cheese (Bocconcini or Fior Di Latte will work too)
  • Freshly Ground Salt and Pepper
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Cut your cherry tomatoes in halves or quarters (personal preference).
  2. You can roughly cut up your cheese to get that rough textured look and sprinkle it all over your plate for that spontaneous look and feel.
  3. Finely chop up some basil or rip them up into tiny pieces. Sprinkle generously across your salad.
  4. Drizzle with generous amount of extra virgin olive oil and season with freshly ground salt and pepper.
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http://cookingwithteamj.com/2017/06/20/caprese-salad/

 

Rosemary Garlic Focaccia Recipe

Father’s day is coming up in a couple of weeks and I am scrambling to figure out how to celebrate with my dad. My parents hate celebrating mother’s day/father’s day on the actual weekend because restaurants are always super busy and service is generally not as good as normal due to the additional patrons the restaurant has to attend to.

So instead of fighting the crowd, I always have to end up celebrating with them a week in advance. Since I’m busy next weekend, I have to celebrate 2 weeks early. My dad loves it whenever I make him anything from scratch – I guess he appreciates the extra effort and care I put into the dish other than just giving him something material…. Which works for me because this gives me an opportunity to practice my cooking and baking skills.

As part of the full course meal which I planned for him, one of the starting dishes was of course, warm bread 🙂

Since the weather has been getting warmer, we bought a lot of starter plants to build our herb garden. As they continue to grow, I needed an excuse to use them so I can trim them back to increase their yield. I immediately thought of making this Rosemary Garlic Focaccia because I had it in the past and it was delish.

The great thing about focaccia is that it is very versatile – you can add whatever toppings you like.

Prior to allowing the dough go through a second proof, use both hands and dimple the dough with your fingers to evenly spread the dough out and give it its signature dimple appearance. Then, generously season the dough with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I thinly sliced up some garlic and sprinkled it all over the dough, along with some freshly chopped rosemary. Finally, I generously drizzled the dough with some olive oil. The bread cooks best when the herbs are coated in olive oil.

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