Eight Treasure Glutinous Rice Dessert (八宝饭)

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INTRODUCTION

This is a recipe that you can keep for Chinese New Year.. It is a famous Chinese traditional dessert called eight treasure glutinous rice dessert or 八宝饭。

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Of course you can also prepare it to satisfy your craving now like what I did for myself.

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I have wanted to blog this dessert but it was on hold because of the ugly first set of pictures. I prepared that almost a year ago and because I am not satisfied with the decolourization of the red and green cherries, I have decided to hold on the post.. When my blog reached its 5 millionth readership, I have firmed up my decision to prepare it again for my self celebration.

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This is a dessert that I truly liked.. About 15 years ago when I stationed in Shanghai, whenever I went to Nanjing street, I will sneak into Sofitel’s Shanghainese restaurant to have a bowl. It never failed me whenever I passed by there. It is sweet, gooey and come with assorted ingredients. I loved  it especially the red bean paste or lotus paste enveloped by the sticky rice..

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Of course what is sold in hotel for individual servings will not be as complete as what the original authentic recipe called for.. Theoretically, 8 ingredients shall be used and each ingredients have a meaning attached to it..

  • Lotus seeds (莲子) – signify harmonious marriage (和谐婚姻)
  • Dried longan (桂圆) – signify reunion (团圆)
  • Dried tangerine peels (金橘脯) – signify auspicious and luck (吉利)
  • Red dates (红枣) – birth to healthy kids (早生贵子)
  • Candied Melons or Candied cherries (蜜樱桃 或 蜜冬瓜)– Close rapport relationship (甜甜蜜蜜)
  • Barley (薏米)– signify longevity (长寿)
  • Melon seeds (瓜子仁)– signify discipline in life (生活有规律)
  • Shredded red plums  (红梅丝)– signify progressing smoothly (鼓励进取、祝福顺利)
  • Shredded green plums (绿梅丝)– signify longevity (长寿)

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I do not get all the ingredients in Singapore like shredded red plums and shredded green plums, therefore I have resorted to substitute with orange peel and pomelo peel. However, as far as the ingredients are concerned, as long as there are 8 ingredients, it can be considered as 8 treasure glutinous rice dessert. I have also eaten many  variations being sold in restaurant.

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“八宝饭是汉族传统名点,腊八节节日食俗。流行于全国各地,江南尤盛。各地的配方大同小异,基本上是把糯米蒸熟,拌以糖、油、桂花、倒入装有红枣、薏米、莲子、桂圆、等果料的器具内,蒸熟后再浇上糖卤汁即成。味道甜美,是节日和待客佳品。民间认为八宝饭来源于古代的八宝图,各百科全书也是采用了这种说法。早期的八宝饭是将蒸熟的糯米饭拌上糖和猪油,放点莲子、红枣、金橘脯、桂圆肉、蜜樱桃、蜜冬瓜、薏仁米、瓜子 仁等果料,撒上红、绿梅丝做成。色香味美,还有涵义:莲子是八宝图中的和合转化而来,象征婚姻和谐和好;桂圆象征团圆;金橘象征吉利;红枣象征早生贵子;蜜樱桃、蜜冬瓜象征甜甜蜜蜜;薏米仁系仙鹤转化而成,象征长寿、高雅、纯洁;瓜子仁是鼓板的变体,象征生活有规律,平安无灾祸;红梅丝与龙门同色,含有鼓励进取、祝福顺利的意思;绿梅丝象征长寿。后来八宝饭的用料日趋简化,用各色果脯代替了金橘脯、蜜樱桃、蜜冬瓜和红、绿梅丝。后来又增添了桂花等香料,寓意“金(所用桂花必须是金桂)玉(糯米呈玉脂白色)满堂”。 (Source: http://baike.baidu.com/subview/95344/8137503.htm

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Just like the recipe in the Buddha’s delight, I will not share the exact quantity of the ingredients but will share only what I have included because variations are many. I have used osmanthus syrup but if you do not have, you can also used other type of clear syrup too.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 5-6 adult servings

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  • 250 grams of glutinous rice – soaked for at least 3-4 hours
  • 50-80 grams of castor sugar
  • 100 grams of red bean paste or black sesame paste or lotus paste or other paste
  • 50 grams of lard or cooking oil

Eight treasures

  • 15 grams of walnuts
  • 15 grams of barley – soaked
  • 15 grams of red dates – soaked
  • 15 grams of lotus seeds- soaked
  • 15 grams of raisins – soaked
  • 15 grams of dried longan – soaked
  • 15 grams of candied red cherries (replaced by orange zest)
  • 15 grams of candied green cherries (replaced by pomelo zest)

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  • 50 grams of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 2 tablespoons of dried osmanthus

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Soaked the glutinous rice for at least 2-3 hours. Drained and steamed until cooked. At in the sugar and lard, stir until well combined.  Set aside.

  • Steamed the red dates, barley and lotus seeds for 10-15 minutes until cooked and soft. Set aside.

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  • Depending on the size of the steaming bowl, divide the red bean paste (or other paste) and cooked glutinous rice into the number of bowls (if there are 3 bowls, divide into 3 portions. If there are only one bowl, there is no need to divide.). Wrap a ball of red bean paste with a ball of glutinous rice.

  • Lightly greased the steaming bowl. Put all the ingredients inside the bowls ensuring all the bowls have every ingredients. If you wish, you can design pattern of your eight treasure items in the bowl before the next step.

  • Press the glutinous rice into the bowl firmly and steam under high heat for at least 30 minutes for the flavour to be incorporated. If your glutinous rice is too dry, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the glutinous rice.

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  • To make the syrup, put the water, sugar and osmanthus flower in a pot. Bring to boil and let it simmer for a few minutes. This osmanthus sugar syrup is best to be prepared on the day before so that the flavours can develop.

  • Drizzle the syrup on top of the eight treasure glutinous rice before serving.

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CONCLUSION

The attractiveness of this dish will very much depends on your creativity skills. The fruits and nuts can be pre-arranged for beautiful plating. This is a presentable dessert that can be served for Chinese big festivals such as Chinese New Year or even elder’s birthday.    Lastly, while I understand osmanthus flower is not common here, you can always used pandan to substitute or totally omit if you find the dessert is already sweet to your taste bud.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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Buddha’s Delight aka Luohan Zhai (罗汉全斋 或 罗汉菜)

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INTRODUCTION

Luohan Zhai (罗汉斋) is a very representative dish or iconic of Mahayana Buddhism..The stew of 18 vegetarian cooking ingredients and the 18 ingredients represent the 18 arhat, the disciples of Buddha. In Wikipedia, it was written that:

“The Eighteen Arhats (Chinese: 十八羅漢/十八阿羅漢; pinyin: Shíbā Luóhàn/Shíbā āLuóhàn; Wade-Giles:Lóhàn) are depicted in Mahayana Buddhism as the original followers of the Buddha who have followed the Eightfold Path and attained the Four Stages of Enlightenment. They have reached the state of Nirvana and are free of worldly cravings. They are charged to protect the Buddhist faith and to await on earth for the coming of Maitreya, a prophesied enlightened Buddha to arrive on earth many millennia after Gautama Buddha’s death and nirvana. In China, the eighteen arhats are also a popular subject in Buddhist art, such as the famous Chinese group of glazed pottery luohans from Yixian of about 1000.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighteen_Arhats)

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There is another name for this dish in Western world, the Buddha’s delight. It was written that:

“Buddha’s delight, often transliterated as Luóhàn zhāi, lo han jai, or lo hon jai, is a vegetarian dish well known in Chinese and Buddhist cuisine. It is sometimes also called Luóhàn cài (simplified Chinese: 罗汉菜; traditional Chinese: 羅漢菜). The dish is traditionally enjoyed by Buddhist monks who are vegetarians, but it has also grown in popularity throughout the world as a common dish available as a vegetarian option in Chinese restaurants. The dish consists of various vegetables and other vegetarian ingredients (sometimes with the addition of seafood or eggs), which are cooked in soy sauce-based liquid with other seasonings until tender. The specific ingredients used vary greatly both inside and outside Asia. In the name luóhàn zhāi, luóhàn – short for Ā luóhàn (simplified Chinese: 阿罗汉; traditional Chinese: 阿羅漢; pinyin: Ā LuóHàn) – is the Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit arhat, meaning an enlightened, ascetic individual or the Buddha himself. Zhāi (simplified Chinese: 斋; traditional Chinese: 齋; pinyin: zhāi) means “vegetarian food” or “vegetarian diet.The dish is usually made with at least 10 ingredients, although more elaborate versions may comprise 18 or even 35 ingredients.[1] If 18 ingredients are used, the dish is called Luóhàn quánzhāi (simplified: 罗汉全斋; traditional: 羅漢全齋)”

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Towards the end of my vegetarian diet last month. I have decided to prepare this dish as a respect to my vegetarian diet. This is an important dish and I have put a lot of emphasis on the dish. it took me a few hours to get ready 18 ingredients .. and finding the 18 ingredients is really a headache and I have to substitute a fair bit of the ingredients..

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As per Chinese Baike, it was written:that out of the 18 ingredients, 3 must be mushrooms, 3 must be fungus and it usually pair with other soya bean products.

“罗汉斋是取十八罗汉吉祥之意,以十八种素菜精制而成,这道菜里的食材虽不名贵,但是要凑齐三菇三耳等等,却是颇费心思的;正宗的做法里烹饪步骤也相当繁复,所以也有说这道菜是佛门最奢华的一道素斋。”(Source: http://www.baike.com/wiki/%E7%BD%97%E6%B1%89%E6%96%8B)

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This dish is not a dish that is usually cooked for daily consumption  unless during special occasions due to its large varieties and quantities of ingredients being used. It is ideal if there is a vegetarian reception or family gathering. The final dishes is of quite a bit portion and it took us two days to finish all that I have cooked.

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In this recipe, I will not be providing the quantities and I will list out the ingredients I used for reference. If you are serious to cook this dish, you will understand how the dish work after you read the recipes.. 

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: About 6-8 adults servings

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  • A handful of white fungus (云耳)- soaked
  • A handful of black fungus (黑木耳) – soaked
  • A few monkey head mushrooms or Hericium (猴头菇) – soaked
  • A few winter mushrooms (香菇)- soaked
  • A handful of dried lilies (金针) – soaked
  • A small pack of white jade mushrooms (白玉菇) – cleaned
  • A small carrot (胡萝卜) – cut into small pieces
  • A handful of water chestnuts (荸荠) – skinned and cut into halves
  • Some broccoli (西兰花)- cleaned and cut into big pieces
  • Some asparagus (芦笋) – Skin and cut into big pieces
  • Some pumpkin (金瓜) – cut into big pieces
  • Some bamboo shoots (芦笋) – cut into bite size chunks
  • A handful of lotus seeds (莲子) – soaked
  • A handful of cashew nuts (腰豆)
  • Some bean curd skin – (豆腐皮)
  • Some firm deep fried bean curd – taukwa (炸豆干) – cut into big pieces
  • Some deep fried bean curd sticks  (豆腐支) – Soaked and cut into big chunks
  • few sprigs of coriander (芫茜)

Others

  • Few tablespoons of cooking oil
  • Some ginger slices
  • Pinches of salt
  • Few tablespoons of vegetarian oyster sauce
  • Dashes of white pepper
  • Drops of sesame oil
  • Some starch solution (1 tablespoon of corn starch mixed with 3 tablespoons of water)

Note: To make it a luxury version, monkey head mushroom is a must as it is one of the most expensive vegetarian ingredients

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a pot, put some oil and salt, bring to boil. Blanch the broccoli, asparagus, pumpkin  and carrots for 4-5 minutes until soft . Drain and set side.

  • In a clay pot or wok, add a few tablespoons of oil, sauté the ginger slices and winter mushrooms until fragrant. Add the ingredients in the following order; black fungus, monkey head mushrooms, cloud fungus, bamboo shoots and red carrots. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes, add the white mushrooms, dried water lilies, water chestnuts , lotus seeds, firm bean curd and deep fried bean curd sticks. Stir fried for another 2-3 minutes until the flavour incorporated.

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  • Add adequate water that cover 3/4 the height of the ingredients. Add salt and vegetarian oyster sauce to taste. Stir until well combined. Bring to boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes until the ingredients are soft. Add the bean crud skin and blanch vegetables. Let it simmer for another 2-3 minutes.  Before off the heat, add the starch solution. Simmer until starch thickens which took about 1-2 minutes. Off the heat and let it rest in the clay pot for another 15 – 30 minutes for the flavour to develop  For serving, add the coriander, dust with some white pepper and drizzle with sesame oil. Best served hot in a clay pot.

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CONCLUSION

Don’t be disheartened by the large varieties of ingredients to be used. Just remember to qualify for the  name “Buddha’s delight”, there must be at least 10 ingredients unless you are preparing the full version like this recipe that uses 18 ingredients.. The taste of the dish is very delicious .   I have done my part of preparing this dish during my vegetarian diet 2015 and I am finally able to share this famous iconic Buddhism cuisines for those who are interested. With regard the over all timing of cooking and overall seasoning, readers will have to exercise discrete judgement and it will very much depends on your pot and type of ingredients used.  Feel free to change the ingredients but you must have 3 mushrooms and 3 fungi.. (note I can only found 2 fungi, ha-ha)

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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Teochew Glutinous Rice Roll Cake–Guan Jian (潮汕灌煎)

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INTRODUCTION

Usually when It is a Chinese traditional recipe, I will check the background before I blogged. That is the reason why you always read the Wikipedia definition in my post. That provides a basis to support a cuisine background..But I have a huge difficulty to find basis to support the origin of this snack..

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I have seen this special snack being shared by some Facebook pages which in turn took it form some blogger’s blog. Some claimed that it is their traditional granny recipe and there are many names to this snack especially in Malaysia.. – 灌肠糕, 光煎,广煎 etc.. When I read further, all the recipes are basically similar using peanuts, yam stripes, jicama stripes and some rice flour.. Taiwanese have another version called glutinous rice intestine 糯米肠. The ingredients are similar but it was not wrapped using bean curd sheets.

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What it surprised me is that I can’t find any more information besides those provide by Singapore and Malaysian bloggers. Usually for traditional cuisines, it will be mentioned some where in China website though recipe may not be available. I seriously do not think that this is a local snack of which the Chinese ancestors in China do not prepare at all.

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Further goggling with many Chinese letter probability, mix and match and I found this term “灌煎“ 。 That is the nearest that all I could get and it fits the description of the local bloggers except there is no glutinous rice being used. ..As per Baike:

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”灌煎,是潮汕小吃之一。灌煎这一小吃的名称,据说是取自外形及烹制方法而得名的,因这一小吃制成后是一长卷形,而有些人在食用前也下锅略煎,故名为灌煎。灌煎里面包有糯米、虾米、五花肉碎、花生仁、芋丝、香菇丝等等配料,还要加入少许芹菜碎味精胡椒粉等调料。值得一提的是灌煎那层黄色而透明的皮,那是用腐皮制作而成的,把搅拌均匀的糯米饭放在腐皮上卷成条状长卷,放到蒸笼上蒸一蒸,香喷喷的灌煎就可出炉了。如果你想要吃到比较香脆烫口的灌煎,那可以把灌煎切成小块,放入锅中煎炸。因为糯米饭有粘质,加上配料后卷起来不会散,所以潮汕人制作的卷煎是一定要用糯米的。而且糯米含有蛋白质,营养成分丰富,所以说,潮汕人独制的灌煎,是相当具有营养价值的小吃。潮汕的灌煎,沾上独制的甜酱油蘸汁,灌煎的香味与甜酱油相融合,形成独一无二的潮汕风味。(Source: http://baike.baidu.com/view/9097082.htm

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To summarize the description, Guan Jian is a Teochew Shantou  snack. The name was obtained from its method of cooking meaning shallow frying.  The main ingredients are glutinous rice, baby shrimps, minced meat, shredded yam, peanuts, shitake mushrooms and etc. You can either steamed and served or before serving, pan fried again until crispy on the exterior. The yellowish exterior was prepared using bean curd sheets and it has a nice shape because glutinous rice is sticky and after adding various material, it will not disintegrate. Therefore, the guan jian prepared by Chaozhou must include glutinous rice and because glutinous rice have high protein and nutritional contents, Chaozhou style of guan jian is a nutritious snack. It was served with special homemade sweet soya sauce.

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Based on the above definition, in order to double confirm my understanding,  i performed an image search for the term and it come out as in the picture above.

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Based on the literal definition and the image of the snack, I have design this recipe which is different from other version for my blog records. What is shown in this illustration is the vegetarian version. To transform it to non vegetarian version, just add some garlics, minced meat and dry prawns. Others remain the same.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 3-4 adult servings

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  • 1 cup of glutinous rice
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of peanuts
  • 1 cup of shredded yam
  • 2-3 sprigs of Chinese celery or coriander stalks
  • 1/4 teaspoon of five spice powder
  • 2 sheets of bean curd sheets
  • 5 soaked shitake mushrooms
  • 5 water chestnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of sugar
  • Extra seasoning to taste (mushroom concentrate)
  • Pinches of salt
  • Dashes of white pepper

For non vegetarian version, add:

  • 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlics
  • Some minced meat
  • 1 tablespoon of soaked dry shrimps

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash the glutinous rice., cut/chopped the yam, shitake mushrooms, celery stalks until small pieces.

  • In a frying pan, put some cooking oil, add the minced garlic, and/or shitake mushrooms. Add the dry shrimps and sauté until fragrant. Add the washed rice, stir fry until well mixed, add the white pepper, seasonings, salt , shredded yam, shredded stalks and stir fry until well combined. Take some to taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Off the heat and transfer the rice to the rice cooker. Add 1.5 cups of water and use the rice cooker “sticky rice” function to cook for one cycle..

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  • Once it cooked, fluff the rice and set aside for cooling.

  • For wrapping, use a wet towel to mop the bean curd sheet. Put 2-3 tablespoons of cooked glutinous rice on the sheet and roll in 1.5 rounds as if you are rolling sushi. Seal the edges with some plain flour batter or water. Steamed the glutinous rice roll for 15 minutes under high heat.

  • Once it cooled down, pan fried the steamed rice rolls in a stir frying pan until the surrounding bean curd sheets are golden brown. Drained and let it cooled completely before cutting into small pieces. For serving, cut the rice cake into small pieces and pan fried until both sides are golden brown and crispy. Best served with sweet dark soya sauce or chilli sauce if preferred.

Note:

  • You can also steamed, cooled, cut and pan fried .

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CONCLUSION

As a blogger who are extremely passionate about traditional cuisines, I have tried my best to substantiate the recipe that I issued. I hope via the above Chinese definition and description, more readers will try this Chinese version of guan jian. It may not be the type that you have eaten but  I am happy that it taste very good. Since I do not have any sweet dark soya sauce or sweet sauce with me, I have served with homemade chilli sauce.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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food bloggers[4]

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Gluten Vegetarian Char Siu (素叉烧)

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INTRODUCTION

Vegetarians like all other human beings need protein to grow.. There are a few sources of protein in Chinese vegetarian foods including those  from the soy protein, wheat glutens , nuts and etc..

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An Indonesian member once shared her experience of her kid whom unfortunately is allergy to meat and diary products. She is seriously under weight and doctors diagnosed her as malnutrition. Her kid is two years old and she had learnt by herself to make wheat gluten so as to supplement her kid’s protein requirement. She successfully churn out a lot of Indonesian gluten dishes and help her kid to grow healthily.. I hope this example will serve to convince why wheat gluten is important in a vegetarian diet..

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Vegetarian meat alike dishes are mostly prepared from 2-3 main sources. One is wheat gluten, another is soy based products and others like konnyaku. Assuming for wheat gluten products, all are presented in its simplest form, it will just be a round chewy ball of gluten being served every meal and every where be it in restaurant or household.

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However, if it was cooked differently, seasoned differently, shaped differently, the original wheat gluten will need a name to differentiate them. In my humble opinion, one of the easiest way to name  different wheat gluten is to follow the name of non vegetarian meat dishes. When a non vegetarian consumer read the label, they can roughly imagine the taste of these mock meats. I am explaining this because many friends are criticizing and trying to understand why should these gluten used names such as mock char siu, mock duck, mock chicken etc.… Reasons are simple, different seasoning, different shape and different taste shall be called in  different name to facilitate food identification.

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I believed gluten char siu is one of the most common mock meat in the market and I have therefore decided to try out and share the recipes with readers. If there is no compulsory obligation to eat gluten char siu, I will advise you to eat the real char siu instead. lol.

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Mock char siu does not really resemble real char siu though the taste is pretty close but without the meat taste. The texture can be more chewy than meat because it is made of gluten.. I do not think most vegetarian eat mock char siu perceived it as a piece of meat or it looked like the real char siu, they are happy to eat it because of its unique texture and flavourful gluten. It give them another choice of dishes in the dinner table.

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Preparation of this char siu are not difficult if you get the seasonings correct. To prepare this char siu, you will need to learn the making of wheat gluten which you can learn from this post: Wheat Gluten (Mian Jin, 面筋, Seitan, Mi Chiya).

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I am happy with this adventure though the shaping need to be improved. The wheat gluten strip are too thin and hence when it was cut, it become too small a piece. I will leave this to the reader to improve. on it.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Recipe adapted from: 素叉烧

Servings : About 300 grams of gluten char siu

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Seasonings

  • 2 tablespoons of sugar (白糖)
  • 2 tablespoons of light soya sauce (酱清)
  • 1 tablespoon Vegetarian hoisin sauce (I have omitted as I can’t get hold of it) 
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetarian oyster sauce (素耗油)
  • 1 teaspoon of dark soya sauce (黑酱油)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce (番茄酱)
  • 1 tablespoon of red yeast rice powder (红曲粉)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of five spice powder (五香粉)
  • Dashes of white pepper (胡椒粉)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Cut the wheat gluten into 3 big stripes with about 100 grams each.  For homemade wheat gluten, please refer here: Wheat Gluten (Mian Jin, 面筋, Seitan, Mi Chiya). . Plait the wheat gluten like hair plating and seal both ends. The main purpose of this step is to shape the wheat gluten such that it look like lean meat.

  • Get ready a pot of hot boiling water, boil the gluten for about 25-30 minutes until the gluten is cooked or floated upwards.  Let is cooled completely or soaked in some cold water before proceeding to the next step. Prior to the marinating, open up the wheat gluten . If the wheat gluten stuck together, use a scissor to cut following the plaiting pattern.

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  • Mix all the seasoning ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Add the wheat gluten and let it marinate preferably overnight in the fridge.

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  • Heat up a pot of hot oil, deep fry the marinated wheat gluten for 5-10 minutes or until the external is set. Deep frying is use to enhance the flavour of the gluten. Air fryer can also be used. Drain and cool completely before cutting into desired sizes.

  • For the marinating liquid, heat up a frying pan and add a tablespoon of oil. Add the marinating sauce, bring to boil and use high heat to boil until the sauce thickens. The sauce can be used in Chee Cheong Fun or drizzle over the char siu or use for noodle dishes.

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CONCLUSION

Please do not get me wrong that i am trying to propagate certain religious beliefs. I am having a temporary vegetarian diet, I like to eat this and therefore I blogged this as simple as that. I found there are very few English recipes on Chinese vegetarian dishes and that is also one of the prime reason that prompted me to share with readers. Whether or not there are readers who try is irrelevant and unimportant.  Such recipe are precious and I will need to keep a record in my blog for those who may be interested. :Lastly, remember that vegetarian Char siu can also be prepared from soy bean products , therefore, in your first attempt, do not place too high emphasis on the outcome.. I don’t and I am happy and let’s learn together to cook more  delicious and healthier vegetarian dishes.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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food bloggers[4]

Food paradize[8]

 

pinterest[4]

  • If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 2600 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD.

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Wheat Gluten (Mian Jin, 面筋, Seitan, Mi Chiya)

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INTRODUCTION

This post is about wheat gluten or seitan or mian jin (面筋)- an important cooking ingredient in Mahayana Buddhism as a substitute of meat. With this main ingredient, wheat gluten can be churned into different delicious vegetarian cooking ingredients.

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If you have been the vegetarian restaurant, you may have eaten some type of chewy texture ingredients that was usually presented in the form of mock meat.. This chewy elastic substance is called mian jin or wheat gluten.

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“Wheat gluten, also called seitan (Japanese: セイタン), wheat meat, gluten meat, or simply gluten, is a food made from gluten, the main protein of wheat. It is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch granules have been removed, leaving the sticky insoluble gluten as an elastic mass which is then cooked before being eaten.Wheat gluten is an alternative to soybean-based foods such as tofu, which are sometimes used as meat substitutes. Some types of wheat gluten have a chewy or stringy texture that resembles meat more than other substitutes. Wheat gluten is often used instead of meat in Asian, vegetarian, Buddhist, and macrobiotic cuisines. Mock duck is a common use for wheat gluten. Wheat gluten has been documented in China since the 6th century. It was widely consumed by the Chinese as a substitute for meat, especially among adherents of Buddhism. Since the mid-20th century, wheat gluten (generally known by its macrobiotic name, seitan) has been increasingly adopted by vegetarians in Western nations as a meat alternative.It is sold in block, strip and shaped forms in North America, where it can be found in some supermarkets, Asian food markets, health food stores and cooperatives. Some companies also sell powdered gluten (marketed under the names “vital wheat gluten” or “gluten flour”), for those who wish to make their own gluten from scratch. It is important to distinguish the two; vital wheat gluten is the product used for making seitan, but it can be mislabelled as gluten flour.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheat_gluten_(food))

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I am now on a vegetarian diet and I take this opportunity to introduce this important ingredient in Chinese vegetarian recipes. To prepare this is definitely not difficult but the recovery rate are very low, about only 30%. Meaning 1 kg of flour will only yields about 300 grams of wheat gluten. The wheat gluten can either be steamed, boiled or deep fried.  The boiled version is called 水面筋 whereas the deep fried version is called 油 面筋。

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The water from washing the gluten is essential wheat starch (澄粉), the type of starch that were used in the preparation of shrimp dumpling (虾饺)。 If these starches were steamed, it will become an appetizer common in China (粉皮 or 凉粉)

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As this is a rather long post, I will minimize the write up and go straight to the preparation with the hope that it will help readers who are in need of this recipe since store bought wheat gluten can be rather costly and we are unsure if any impurities have been added.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: Prepare 300 grams of wheat gluten

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  • 1 kilogram of plain flour
  • 550 grams of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparation of basic dough

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  • Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and use the machine knead for 15-20 minutes until it is smooth and does not stick to the side of the mixing bowl. Theoretically, the longer you knead, the more developed will be the gluten structure. Put the dough to rest at room temperature for about an hour. If you do not have the mixer, you can use hand knead until you feel the elasticity of the dough and do not stick to your hands.

Preparation of basic mian jin

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  • Transfer the dough to a basin for washing. Get ready another big pot. Put adequate water to cover the dough and use your hand to “wash” the dough as if you are washing your clothes, you will start to witness the water getting cloudier and cloudier. When you feel that the water is very cloudy, transfer the cloudy water to the big pot. Add new water to the gluten, continue to wash until the water becomes clear. You may need to wash 5-6 times . Collect the water after washing and add to the big pot.

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  • What is left is called the water wheat gluten (水面筋) or the original form of mian jin. It is supposed to be very elastic as in the picture.

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  • Put the wheat gluten in a plastic bag and let it rest in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours before proceeding to the next step.

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Preparation of mock meat

  • Get ready a pot of hot boiling water.

  • Cut half of the wheat gluten above. Cut using a knife or pull using the hand and throw into the boiling water. Boil until the wheat gluten floated upwards. Drained and set aside.

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  • The result of this is called mock meat and it can be transformed in many other type of mock meat with different seasonings.

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  • This mock meat can be used for many vegetarian cuisines and I will share more detail recipes in other posts.

Deep frying the wheat gluten

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  • In a pot of hot oil, pluck some of the mian jin put inside the oil. Deep fried until it floats upwards. You will witness the gluten expands . Turn the balls and make sure both sides are  deep fried. Deep fried both sides until golden brown and there are no bubbles emitted. Drained and when cooled completely, keep in an air tight container.

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  • This is used deep fried mian jin (油面筋) and get be used to cook a lot dishes such as sweet and sour mock meat and ideal for braising over a long period of time.

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Preparation of Wheat Starch Cake

  • From the pot of water from the washing of the dough, let it rest until all the starch deposited at the bottom of the pot. Throw away all the clear water on top of the deposited starch. Transfer the deposited starches to a oily greased pan, steamed under high heat until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. This is called wheat starch cake (凉皮)

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  • Cooled completely before take out from the mould and cut into small noodle sizes for the preparation of Chinese cold noodles. (凉拌粉皮)

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CONCLUSION

This is a long winded post and I am happy with this adventures. The mian jin or wheat gluten prepared are much chewy than the store bought. With this, I may churn out more recipes of common mock meat being sold in the supermarket.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have  a nice day.

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food bloggers[4]

Food paradize[8]

pinterest[4]

  • If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 2600 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD.

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Sayur Lodeh And Lontong (蔬菜咖喱和米糕)

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INTRODUCTION

Today is the second day of Hari Raya Aidilfiltri and I felt the urge to introduce some simple Malay cuisine to my kids.. Since my neighbour gave me a block of lontong yesterday, I have decided to pair it with sayur lodeh or mixed vegetable curry soup to pair with it.

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This combo is definitely not uncommon in Singapore hawker centre. Most Malay stalls sell this dish together with mee rebus, mee soto and etc..

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I only get to know lontong when I stayed in Singapore. Lontong is a type of compressed rice cake and very similar to ketupat but in different shape. It is bland like white rice and need to be eaten with some tasty sauces like satay sauces or curry. Unlike lemang, it is prepared from normal white jasmine rice.  It is believed that it is originated from Indonesia. As per Wikipedia:

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“Lontong is a dish made of compressed rice cake in the form of a cylinder wrapped inside a banana leaf,[1] commonly found inIndonesia; also in Malaysia and Singapore. The rice rolled inside banana leaf and boiled, then cut into small cakes as staple food replacement of steamed rice. It is commonly called nasi himpit (“pressed rice”) in Malaysia. The dish is usually served cold or at room temperature with peanut sauce-based dishes such as gado-gado, karedok, ketoprak, other traditional salads, and satay.[1] It can be eaten as an accompaniment to coconut milk-based soups, such as soto, gulai and curries. In Indonesia, especially among Betawi people, lontong usually served as lontong sayur, pieces of lontong served in coconut milk soup with shredded chayote, tempeh, tofu, hard-boilled egg, sambal and kerupuk. Lontong sayur is a favourite breakfast menu next to bubur ayam and nasi goreng. Lontong kari is lontong serve in soupy chicken curry and vegetables.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lontong)

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Sayur lodeh or vegetable in coconut milk is said to be originated from Java but it is very common in Singapore and Malaysia. The Indonesian version is different from the Malaysian and Singaporean version. The later two countries uses less types of vegetables and are yellowish in colour as opposed to the Indonesian version that uses many type of vegetables and usually milky or greenish in colour.

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“Sayur lodeh is a vegetables in coconut milk soup popular in Indonesia, but most often associated with Javanese cuisine. Common ingredients are young unripe jackfruit, eggplant, chayote, melinjo beans and leafs, long beans, green chili pepper, tofu andtempeh all cooked in coconut milk soups and sometimes enrichen with chicken or beef stock. The bumbu spice mixture includes ground chili pepper (optional, depends on desired degree of spiciness), shallot, garlic, candlenut, coriander, kencur powder, turmericpowder (optional), dried shrimp paste, salt and sugar.The greenish white sayur lodeh is made without turmeric, while the golden one does. Sometimes green stink beans are also mixed within sayur lodeh. Sayur lodeh could be served with steamed rice (separated or mixed in one plate), or with sliced lontong rice cake. Although sayur lodeh basically is a vegetarian dish, it is popularly consumed with ikan asin (salted fish), opor ayam, empal gepuk or beef serundeng. Sambal terasi is usually served separately.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sayur_lodeh)

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What I am sharing today is the Singapore hawker centre version which is yellowish red colour and without lontong, sayur lodeh can be a standalone dish that can be consumed with white rice. As for the vegetable, some families added brinjal, fu chok (dried bean curd sheets), potatoes and tempeh also.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 6-8 adults

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Main Ingredients

  • 1 small jicama or yam bean – cut into sticks (sengkuang)
  • 1 medium size carrot – cut into small chunks (lobak merah)
  • 1/2 a medium size cabbage – cut into big pieces (kobis)
  • 10 tofu puff – cut into big pieces (tauhu pok)
  • 10 long beans  – cut into 4 cm length (kacang panjang)
  • 6 hard boiled eggs (telur rebus)
  • 300 grams of thick coconut milk (santan)
  • 4 cups of water (estimated) (air)

Spice mix or rempah

  • 2 medium size red colour onion (bawang besar)
  • 2 red chilli (cili)
  • 5 candlenuts (buah keras)
  • 2 stalk of lemon grass (serai)
  • 10 cloves of garlic (bawang putih)
  • 2 cm of ginger (halia)
  • 2 cm of galangal (lengkuas)
  • 2 tablespoons of dried baby shrimps (udang kering)
  • 2 cm of shrimp paste (belachan)
  • 1 tablespoon of coriander powder (serbuk ketumbar)
  • 2 tablespoon of chilli powder (serbuk cili)
  • 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder (serbuk kunyit)

Others

  • Salt to taste (garam)
  • Sugar to taste (gula)
  • Sambal belachan of your choice
  • 500 grams of lontong or compressed rice cake

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Blend all the spice mix  ingredients with some water (except the powder form) in a blender until fine and resemble a paste.
  • In a pot, put 3 tablespoons of cooking oil, saute the rempah, chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder until fragrant and oil separated from the rempah.

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  • Add about 2 cups of water and bring to boil. Add the vegetables in this order (carrot, jicama, cabbage and long bean) ensure that the water just slightly cover the vegetables. Use the remaining one cup of water if necessary. During the process of cooking, more vegetable juices will be secreted. Let it simmer until the vegetable are almost soft. Add the coconut milk, hard boil eggs, the tofu puff and the seasonings (salt and sugar to taste). Off the heat and let it rest in the post for at least 15 minutes before servings.

  • For assembly, have some lontong on a plate and put some sayur lodeh on top of the rice cake. Best served with sambal belachan as a one pot dish.

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CONCLUSION

I really love this sayur lodeh.. Unsure how the authentic Indonesian taste like, but this recipe suits my taste buds. If the gravy is too thick , feel free to add some water. Savoury recipe is a guideline for home chefs, you are always welcome to add or minus some ingredients to suit your family’s taste buds.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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