Stick food!

There are a few things that make this life so much better.  One of them is barbecue pork on sticks Pinoy style.  I’m going to find out how to make barbecue Grill Queen style.  Grill Queen is a small independent chain that sells barbecued meat – pork, chicken, seafood…you name it, they probably barbecue it.

I haven’t quite cracked it, but the recipe I’m tweaking is nearly there.  I’ll be posting the recipe on the blog soon.

But for tonight, I am eating something comfortingly Filipino: barbecued meat, rice and sautéed vegetables!

pork bbq Pinoy style

This cake happened today!

I bought a bowl of plums from the Friday Market for £1 last week with the intention of consuming them purely for my 5-a-day.  Usually the fruit that I get from that particular market stall is sweet and perfect (yes, really!) but surprisingly, these plums were very tart.  I tried eating the fruit but it was REALLY tart (bordering on acidic sourness).

Upside down plum cakeI have written a draft of the recipe for the plum cake.  But I need to work on it because the plums were still so tart even after laying them on a carpet of brown sugar.  I’ll have to tweak the recipe first and make it a few times to make sure it’s a recipe that works.  I promise to share it as soon as I’m satisfied.

Watch this space!

Absolutely magic!

This should go wrong…even when I was making it, it felt absolutely wrong.  The batter didn’t look like it was going to set at all.  But let me tell you, whoever invented magic custard cakes is an absolute genius!

This is going on my must-bake-all-the-time list!

For those who have missed this growing trend, magic custard cakes are cakes is a cake with three layers, a spongy-meringuey top layer, a custard center and a pudding bottom layer.  The magical bit is that all this happens with JUST ONE BATTER!

Don’t ask me how because I have no idea how it works…but it does and it’s so good!

Magic custard cake

Pork puff pastry

Recipe in development!

Char siu in puff pastry…in my head it was going to work.  But I think I need to read up on how people do this so that I can see where I went wrong and adapt my recipe.

The filling works though so that’s one thing that went right!

Pork puff pastry trial

Chinese hotdog buns

This is a recipe in development and I’m quite excited about it.  Alan and I may have found the best milk bread recipe.  It’s easy to make and relatively easy to handle.

We’ve been able to bake hotdog buns with it.  Now, when I say hotdog buns, I mean Chinese hotdog buns which are also known as caterpillar buns.  They’re hotdog slices encased in bread topped with cheese, mayo, ketchup and spring onions.  This is a Chinese bakery staple and all the different bakeries in Chinatown have their own version of it.  This is our version of our favourite.

unbaked hotdog bun

Chinese caterpillar bun

I need to find a good recipe for char siu filling so that I can make char siu buns!

Hopia

I’ve always been proud of Filipino food.  I’ve always believed that if people tried the food that we Filipinos ate on a daily basis (ably prepared by our mothers and titas), people would be addicted too!  Filipino cuisine is influenced by the food cultures from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Spain.  We also have a very pronounced American influence.  These influences are due to the fact that the Malays an Indones were the early settlers on the Philippine islands and it has been historically proven that we traded with the Chinese very early on.  The Spanish (and largely Mexican food tradition) influences came because the Philippines was a Spanish colony for over 300 years (the Philippine islands were named after King Philip II of Spain).  Then after the Spanish, we had the Americans with us…for a while.

I am so thankful that there are enterprising individuals (who may or may not be Filipino) who have identified an opportunity to sell to Filipinos living overseas the food staples.  I’ve been able to cook Filipino food here in England and it helps the homesickness.

But nothing compares to the satisfaction when one is able to make something that isn’t always available in the Oriental or Filipino supermarkets.  A few days ago, whilst I was recuperating from a really bad migraine (I was signed off for a week), I told myself that I would make hopia. I had been watching various YouTube video how-to’s and I felt that I was ready to attempt the Filipino treat.  I even risked eating store-bought hopia in the name of research!  Mind you, it was a tad disappointing because the hopia I bought seemed to have shrunk!  For what I paid for, well, it was an exhorbitant amount of money for 4 minuscule hopia pieces – not at all what I remembered eating when I was growing up!

Hopia is also known as bakpia (in Chinese).  It is a bean paste-filled pastry that was apparently introduced by Fujianese immigrants in the Philippines.  It is usually filled with mung bean paste (either red mung bean or yellow mung bean), or purple yam and there is a variant that is filled with candied wintermelon (called kundol in the Philippines).  Apparently, in other countries (apparently this is a popular Indonesian treat as well!) the fillings can be pineapple, durian, cheese, chocolate, coffee and custard!  I’ve never had a cheese hopia, but it certainly sounds interesting!

I painstakingly wrote down the recipe from all the YouTube videos and translated it into metric measurements.  Then I set about making my hopia!

Hopia before baking

I was quite excited about how they looked like.  Even more excited when they came out of the oven.  I loved the smell that wafted out of the oven.  I was definitely in hopia heaven!

Hopia

I need to practice some more.  I think the pastry is nearly there.  A few more tweaks with the procedure and a few temperature adjustments will help.  But what I’ve been allowing myself to eat is hopia.  It’s not as sweet as the store-bought ones, but it is, already, hopia!

More hopia

Chinese potsticker dumplings

I’ve almost always bought the potstickers (which are similar to the Japanese gyoza), whether cooked and ready to eat or frozen.  I’ve never really made them myself.  Mostly because I thought the pleating would be a difficult thing to do.  I’m a perfectionist so anything that doesn’t look good to me is a disappointment (reminds me of the mini-melt down I had when I first made carrot cake whoopie pies.  It involved a quiet scream and the throwing of the poor, innocent ice cream scooper!).  To avoid the disappointment, I just don’t do things.

But lately, I’ve been fairly adventurous (helped along by Alan’s encouragement!).  Last week, I made siomai.  This weekend, it was Chinese pork potsticker dumplings.  I must have watched a lot of “how-to-pleat” videos on youtube to mentally prepare myself for the exercise.  The dumplings turned out really well and has (probably) been given the Alan seal of approval.  I used store bought dumpling wrappers – the next time I’m doing it, I’m doing EVERYTHING completely from scratch!

Ingredients:

  • 110g ground pork2015-02-21 19.00.12
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 heaping tbsp chives chopped finely
  • 18 dumpling wrappers

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together until well incorporated.
  2. Taking a dumpling wrapper, dampen the edges of the dumpling wrapper.  Place 2 teaspoons of the mixture in the center of the wrapper, and holding the wrapper like a taco, start pleating the edges of the wrapper, pinching with each pleat to seal the dumpling well.  Place on a parchment paper-lined baking tray and set aside until ready to cook.
  3. My version of cooking the dumplings might be different from most people, but it works for me.  There are other ways, so feel free to cook them any other way that works for you.  I place water and vegetable oil in a wok (or shallow saucepan) and allow the water to heat up to a gentle rolling boil.  Place 6-8 dumplings in the boiling water and allow to boil covered for 5 minutes.  Uncover the dumplings and swirl (carefully) around to make sure that the dumplings aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Allow the water to evaporate and add a little oil to fry the dumplings until they’re golden brown.
  4. Serve with your favourite dip!

Chinese pork dumplings