Got leftover rice? Try making congee! Congee is a rice porridge, also called jook 粥 in Cantonese or zhou in Mandarin. It is slowly cooked over a low fire with any variety of ingredients your heart desires, but one of the popular variations is century egg with learn pork and chopped scallions. Other types may include seafood congees with shrimp, scallops, squid, and fish, or simple congees with just chicken. Most of them also incorporate ginger which brings a warm balance to the porridge. Typically it is eaten as a breakfast item with crispy fried youtiu 油条, which are fried sticks of dough that is used for dipping into the congee. (Youtiu is also delicious to dip into hotpot broth!) It's a great vessel to soak up liquid flavors.
Congee can be made from scratch with fresh rice (though it can take longer) or if you're lazy like me, I use leftover or extra white rice that I have on hand from another meal. Once the jook is ready to eat, you can serve it with side dishes like pork floss (dehydrated pork that is dried and fluffy, seasoned with soy sauce and sugar), pickled cucumbers, spicy bamboo shoots in chili oil, roasted peanuts, and more.
This is a dish that is close to my heart because my grandmother made it often for us for breakfast, or whenever my tummy didn't feel well. A warm bowl of jook cooked with chicken was comforting and easy on the stomach, and had such pure, delicious chicken flavor infused into it. Grandma always makes her jook super soft and thick and called it "BB jook" because it's how she made it for us when we were babies--she would spoon feed us the jook instead of American style baby food haha. This is a dish that is made with love and care deeply imbued into it. ❤️ Century egg and lean pork congee is also a congee we would be able to buy at restaurants or Chinese eaters in Chinatown, but of course, only grandma and dad made the best jook that money can't buy 😊
You can find century egg in most Chinese grocery stores, either in the refrigerated section or on a shelf where they keep dried goods. Century egg is a preserved and cured duck egg--it is not actually a century old, though when you crack it open it certainly looks like something that might have been, haha! It's characterized by dark brownish jelly like outside, with a blackish green gooey yolk inside. It is definitely an acquired taste to beginners, but there is something about it that is so delicious once you grow accustomed to it. You can eat it in steamed dishes, in congee, or just peel, cut and enjoy with vinegar dressing over cold silken tofu as an appetizer!
Now that I'm older and cook for myself and my hubby, I make congee from time to time and it brings back fond memories of my grandmother making it for me, or of his mom making it for him. It's something that is both comforting and nostalgic, and I hope you enjoy it as well!
CENTURY EGG CONGEE WITH LEAN PORK
- 2 cups cooked leftover rice
- 1 can chicken broth
- 2-3 cups water
- 2 century eggs peeled and chopped up
- 100 grams sliced pork loin or pork butt into slivers (about 1/4 pound)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 stalks of green onions
- 2 slices of thinly julienned ginger
- 1 tbsp chicken bouillon powder
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tbsp white pepper
- salt to taste
1. Cut your pork into thin slivers and then coat it in cornstarch and a tbsp of oil. You can add a small pinch of salt to it and let it marinate for about 20 minutes.
2. Mix the leftover rice and break it up in a pot. Add your chicken broth and water.
2. Peel and rinse the century eggs and chop them up, add to the pot. Add the chopped up scallions and ginger to the pot.
3. Bring to a boil and add in your pork. Continue mixing, and once pork is cooked through, lower heat down to the lowest flame possible and let simmer for about 1-2 hrs. Mix once in a while to prevent the rice from sticking and burning at the bottom of the pot.
4. Keep an eye on the congee to ensure it doesn't get too thick--add water 1/4 cup at a time and mix if you want it thinner.
5. Once it reaches the consistency you like, add the chicken bouillon, salt, sugar, and white pepper to taste.
Enjoy with Chinese crispy pickled cucumber, spicy bamboo shoots in chili oil, or with pork floss!
Until next time,
Let's talk kale today. I could talk all about the benefits of this superfood vegetable that is great for you, but let's be real here, you can do your own research on that if you really wanted to. What I will talk about though, is how Wilson and I want to be more healthy and have a more balanced diet because we are getting older (30+ now! ahhhh) and while KBBQ, hotpot, seafood boils, rice, pasta and fried chicken every day sounds like a dream, we probably won't last long on this earth if we actually do loll! So, kale seemed to be a vegetable to get behind, or at least start adding to our diet. My hubby only likes enough vegetables that I can probably count off on one hand, and so cooking vegetables in a way that is yummy (or easily hidden HAH) is good.
But, to be honest, there just aren't that many recipes online for kale that I enjoyed. Once in a while, I'll buy kale and throw it in some kind of vegetable and bean soup, but after a while, that got old too. We aren't really fans of kale chips or kale salads, so when we still have at least half a bag of kale left with no inspiration, I was at a loss. But my sister told me to use it as a substitute for dishes I would normally use spinach in, and it opened up more possibilities for me! I decided to make breakfast with it to finish off the remaining bag of kale in our fridge by incorporating it into breakfast shakshuka!
Shakshuka is a North African dish that is popular throughout the Middle East, specifically in Israel. It's easy to put together and is essentially a mix of onions, tomatoes, and peppers in a tomato based sauce seasoned with paprika, cumin, chili powder, and topped with poached eggs. I decided to add in kale, mushrooms, as well as some chicken sausage, and it came out delicious.
Extra plus because it's also healthy, and a great way to use up/sneak veggies into your diet 🤭
This dish is so good with some toasted bread to dip into and smother the runny poached eggs all over. I added a splash of sweet soy sauce and it provided some extra umami, especially with the mix of mushrooms, tomato and onions. The kale and chicken sausage gave it extra body as well, making it a filling and satisfying breakfast dish.
This is definitely a dish we'll be making again and again, and a great way for us to eat more veggies. We rarely eat breakfast--if anything, we're more brunch people, but this dish is great for any meal, but even better incentive if we make it for breakfast because it's so quick to put together and has great savory flavors. I hope you enjoy it!
KALE AND CHICKEN SAUSAGE SHAKSHUKA
Makes 2-3 servings.
1. Cook red onions until translucent in olive oil, then add garlic, tomatoes, kale, mushrooms, chicken broth and cook until kale has softened.
2. Add sliced mushrooms and sliced chicken sausage, tomato paste, tomato sauce, sweet soy sauce, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, sugar and paprika, mix and cover. Add salt to taste if you feel you need it. Then lower heat to medium and cook for about 3 minutes.
3. Open and mix again, then crack 4 eggs on top of the mixture and cover again, cook for about 5-8 minutes or keep an eye on it until eggs reach your preferred doneness. I like them just cooked until the egg whites are no longer transparent and the yolk is still runny!
4. Garnish with fresh cracked black pepper and chopped parsley. Enjoy with buttered, toasted bread!
Until next time,
So while being at home during this pandemic, we've been craving dim sum like crazy. Dim Sum is a Cantonese tradition of breakfast or brunch food, and might be compared to Spanish tapas where all the dishes are small dishes meant to be shared. "Dim Sum" literally translates to 'dim' - to touch, and 'sum' - heart" or "to touch the heart" or "order to your heart's content". Traditionally, dim sum places involve restaurant staff, usually elderly Chinese Aunties, pushing hot steaming carts with steamers piled high and calling out what they have in their carts. (various dumplings, bao buns, mini steamed dishes of cheung fun noodles, siu mai, pork ribs and more.) You'll often hear classics like, "Ha gow! (shrimp dumplings) Siu mai! (pork dumplings), Fung Zhao! (braised chicken feet)"
Waiters will walk around with trays of freshly fried foods or fresh out of the kitchen dishes like salt and pepper shrimp, calamari, fried bacon wontons, fried taro nests, stir fried clams and dear lord my mouth is watering!! Going for dim sum is an experience--it's loud, crowded, full of families and kids running around, adults gossiping and chatting, plenty of laughter and mountains of good food to stuff your face with.
One of my favorite dishes is the Cheung Fun (Steamed Rice Noodle) with Shrimp, also known as "Ha Cheung" in Cantonese. After some research and trying out quite a few recipes from different sources, I finally found a recipe for shrimp cheung fun that tastes like restaurant quality cheung fun!
This recipe is adapted from Shashira, owner of the My Lovely Recipes food blog. Her Instagram is @my.lovelyrecipes so definitely give her a follow! This is so good! 👌👌👌 My hubby and I will now be able to enjoy our beloved cheung fun at home whenever we want 😁
Here's the link to her blog recipe for chee cheong fun: https://www.mylovelyrecipes.com/recipes/chinese-cuisine/chee-cheong-fun/
For this recipe, I use a wok and a metal rack to hold up my 8x8 metal tray to make the cheung fun. You basically make a slurry, steam it, add your raw shrimp, steam again, then fold it up! Keep the cheung fun rolls warm in a separate steamer so it's all hot when you're ready to eat. (Or microwave them all at once for about 30 seconds before eating). Best enjoyed with sweet soy sauce and chili oil or sriracha!
Now I just gotta learn the 383747483829 other dim sum recipes so we can have a real homemade dim sum brunch at home! Now, when we do dim sum at home, we steam up some ready made shrimp dumplings and siu mai, pan fry some pork & chive dumplings or make some crispy beef rolls with scallion pancakes...and of course, some tea! 😁
Silky Dim Sum Shrimp Cheung Fun
Servings: approx. 10 Cheung Fun Rolls
I use an 8x8 square metal pan and steam in a wok
Cheung fun mixture:
3 cups water
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup wheat starch
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sesame oil
About 1/2 lb shrimp, deveined and shells removed (you can use small shrimp or you can use larger shrimp and cut them into bite sized pieces)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp white pepper
8x8 metal pan
Small metal stand/rack to place pan on top in wok
Sweet soy sauce
(Can do regular soy sauce + sugar and water)
Cilantro, Scallion (optional)
Until next time,
Growing up, my grandmother spent a lot of time making all sorts of steamed cakes and dumplings for us to enjoy. It was all made from scratch with fresh ingredients and plenty of love. Coming home from school we'd find turnip cakes or radish cakes, steamed dumplings or potstickers filled with chives, shrimp and pork, and just all kinds of handmade creations.
One of my absolute favorite things she made was a savory, chewy, sticky steamed mochi cake that I am going to share with you today. Honestly I loved all the things she made but this one is special to me because she developed this specifically to my tastes 😊
This mochi steamed cake, which we affectionately call "sticky cake" in our house (or nak nak ti in Taishanese), is filled with a variety of umami ingredients and textures like Chinese sausage, Chinese cured pork belly, cubed ham, dried baby scallops, scallions, pickled radish, mini dried shrimp and rehydrated shiitake mushrooms. The mochi cake is nice and chewy, and the flavors and textures of each ingredient compliment each other nicely as land and sea collide together in an explosion of umami goodness! *angels sing* It is best enjoyed warm from the steamer, and you can eat it as is or enjoy with hoisin sauce and sriracha.
Whenever I call her on the phone or visit my grandmother, she'll ask, "Sooo...want me to make nak nak ti?" And the usual answer, yes!
There's some prep involved with chopping all the ingredients into small pieces, and then cooking it on the stove top for the oils to come out and mix all together. The flour mixture is then made and is applied in layers into a steam cake pan alternating between the flour mixture and the meat. After steaming and giving it some time to set, it's ready to eat!
1. Prepare all your meat and veggies by chopping them all up in to small pieces. I find the smaller the pieces, the less noticeable they are in texture and flavor, whereas slightly larger pieces give you a more discernable flavor of each.
2. Stir fry the baby scallops, all the meat and mushrooms. Once the oil starts rendering out and it smells fragrant, remove and set to the side.
3. Pour both 16 oz bags into a mixing bowl. Add water a little by little and mix until the batter resembles a thick muffin or cookie batter. If it is flowing like pancake batter, you've added too much water, so be careful how much to add. Once well mixed, oil a round cake steam pan, about 12-14 inches. Doing so will help the cake come out of the pan more cleanly. You can also put down cling wrap or parchment paper along the sides and bottom if you wish.
4. Pour a layer of the batter onto the bottom and add the meat filling. Keep layering and alternating until you've run out of batter and filling. Make sure to leave enough filling to cover the top of the cake.
5. Heat a large wok with water (or prepare your steamer). Steam the mochi cake for 1 hour or until firm. Once it's done, remove from the steamer. At this point it will be very soft, (but still delicious), so you can either eat right away or let is cool and firm up a bit before cutting into the mochi cake. Enjoy!
You can always substitute filling choices with whatever you prefer if you're not one for Chinese cured meats, but these are flavors that I grew up eating with my grandmother. Whenever I smell Chinese pork belly or sausage (lap cheong), or pickled radish, or dried shiitake mushrooms (pretty much everything in this dish) it just makes me think of Grandma and her homecooking. There's always something in food the floods your brain with memories of home and for me, this is it! Hope you enjoy!
Over ripe bananas and don't know what to do with them? Try these delicious and healthy banana muffins!
This recipe is based on a recipe by Cookie+Kate, a great blog I stumbled upon when Pinteresting for ideas for using bananas, because I had a few bananas that were getting too ripe and I didn't want to waste them. I added in some dark chocolate cacao bits as well as candied walnuts to add texture and yumminess because I love dark chocolate. I didn't have whole wheat flour as the recipe asked for, and used white flour and added an extra 1/2 tablespoon of baking powder as well for foofiness.
I rarely eat muffins because so often they end up being dry and just overly filling for my taste—but these are just the right portion! They're also very fluffy and naturally moist from the banana and coconut oil, which you can't even taste. Another great thing about her recipe is that it's a one pot recipe where you throw everything together, mix mix mix, bake, and devour.
YIELD: 12 muffins
• ⅓ cup melted coconut oil
• ½ cup maple syrup
• 2 eggs
• 3 mashed large ripe bananas
• ¼ cup water
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• ½ tablespoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling on top
• 1 ¾ cups white flour
• ⅓ cup old-fashioned oats, plus more for sprinkling on top
• 1 teaspoon granulated sugar for sprinkling on top
1 Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius). Grease your muffin pans with butter or non-stick cooking spray, or you can be like me and use cupcake liners for no mess!
2 Mix together the coconut oil and maple syrup. Add the eggs, the mashed bananas and water, followed by the baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon.
3 Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix until combined. Now add in your dark chocolate pieces, candied walnuts, or any other dried fruit, nuts etc that you love.
4 Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cupsz Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a small amount of oats and some granulated sugar. Bake muffins for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
5 Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool. According to Cookie+Katec these muffins will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, and will keep well in the freezer in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months (just defrost individual muffins as needed).
I hope you enjoy this great banana muffin recipe and big props to Cookie+Kate for coming up with it! Visit her blog for more deliciousness!
Just a gal who loves to eat and cook ❤