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Yum Cha

In Recipe, Yum Cha on
March 8, 2014

Steamed Chive Dumplings


The uni semester has once again started, meaning lots of early mornings, late finishes, long lectures, long bus rides etc etc etc…..and inevitably, the lack of time to do anything I really want to do 🙁

I didn’t get to much in the holidays (hence the lack of blogging this year) because all I really felt like doing was sitting around and do nothing, which was sorta what ended up happening and now there’s a little bit of regret for not doing some things I should have…..

My mum made some chive potstickers one day, and since she had quite a bit of the filling left, I made some steamed chive dumplings the next day because I think chives go better with steamed dumplings (though that’s probably just my thing). I don’t make dumplings often so my dumpling skins were a bit thicker than they should have been and I didn’t realise that steaming them for 15 minutes instead of 5 (as my filling had pork in it whereas normal chive dumplings don’t) would break most of the dumpling skins (well there goes my half and hour of wrapping and pleating!). Nevertheless, they were delicious and well worth the effort 🙂 Read more

In Bread, Recipe, Yum Cha on
October 8, 2012

Pineapple Char Siu Buns

After every late night rushing reports and essays, comes the false belief that my productivity during the following days will be just like it is at 4am, when the assignment is only half done and I can hear my neighbour’s truck backing out of the driveway as he gets ready for work. This burst of productivity often involves things like catching up on the numerous lectures I’ve missed on the past week, tidying up my work space(s), replying emails and most importantly, finding time to write up a blog post.

Just judging by the frequency of which I blog, it probably won’t come as a surprise that this has yet to occur, as nothing could be further away from reality!

Actually, it’s not that I haven’t been writing anything for this blog. I’ve been writing some paragraphs now and again, only to delete them a week later when reread what I wrote and realise how stupid it all sounds. These buns, for example, have been waiting to be posted for quite some time now. But have yet to have a completed chunk of writing to be posted with.

’m actually quite excited to post these, as it is the first time on this blog that I’ve featured my most favourite plush toy character – a freckle faced, thumb-sucking, monkey known as Monchhichi! Perhaps not everyone’s idea of cute (heck, I thought they were pretty ugly when I first saw them), but we all have different tastes 😉 Read more

In Cute Food, Recipe, Yum Cha on
July 5, 2011

Squid and Seafood dumplings

One of the first things I did once my exams finished (*ahem* more than two weeks ago) was to bake a batch of crème caramels (which I must blog about some day….once I get it perfect!) as I’d been receiving requests from my family for them since ages ago. It’s been a while since I’ve made a relatively successful dessert and I was quite happy to be in the kitchen again measuring and whisking away. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been in the kitchen making a nice dessert, as you may have noticed from the things I post on this blog. I do however, bake and cook a lot more than I blog- don’t worry, I haven’t completely stopped baking! I’ll admit that I’ve been quite lazy with blogging this year and too often, just can’t be bothered to photograph food nicely or to write something which doesn’t make me sound like an idiot (which, might I add, takes quite a lot of effort!) to publish here.


My second creation of these holidays, which I’m quite proud of, are these squid shaped (yess….they’re supposed to look like squid!) shrimp dumplings, which took me and my mum about 1.5 hours to make! The recipe comes from a cookbook I bought at the airport at the beginning of the year, on the way back from Hong Kong, Trendy Dim Sum in Hong Kong . Dim sum is one of my favourite things to make (though probably not as much as desserts and pastries!), despite me not liking yum cha that much, because it’s a really category of its own- with its unique techniques and methods, some of which are quite challenging.

I’ve been itching to try some recipes from this particular book though, because it has got to be the most creative dim sum book I’ve ever seen. Think pea shaped dumplings, turtle shaped pastries, chrysanthemum pastries just to name a few!

Dumplings before streaming

My mum often makes har gow (steamed prawn dumpling) at home, from a trusty recipe she obtained from a cooking course she attended ages ago (which I might have to share here some day) so making these dumplings wasn’t too much of a challenge for us. The dough/wrapper was a little different in this recipe because it’s supposed to be a crystal wrapper- that is, it’s supposed to be transparent. Which didn’t exactly happen to ours, as you can see in the pictures, and the addition of a tapioca starch paste to the dough made it incredibly sticky and difficult to handle. We didn’t exactly follow the recipe because we didn’t have a whole lot of seafood in our pantry so we basically made the filling with prawns and water chestnuts and minced some squid to stick all the filling ingredients together.

The squid shape was a lot harder to make than it looked and we ended up using so much time to perfect our squid shapes- probably a lot more time than it was worth but it was fun! They didn’t end up tasting as good as the har gow we usually make from my mum’s recipe but still quite good. And I thought they were pretty cute too!


Squid and Seafood Dumplings

Recipe from Trendy Dim Sum in Hong Kong

Crystal Wrapper
75g tapioca starch (can substitute with corn flour)
114g water
225g boiling water

150g wheat flour/starch (tang flour)
225g boiling water

300g chopped squid
300g cuttlefish
38g cooked shark’s fin
38g diced water chestnut
38g soaked white fungus
19g diced spring onion
19g diced bell pepper

4g salt
8g MSG
15g grandulated sugar
19g corn flour
19g oil

Some black sesame seeds for making the eyes

Crystal Wrapper
1. Mix the water and tapioca starch of (A) together. Then add in the boiling water, stir until the starch becomes half done. (I’m not quite sure what it means exactly by half done, but this should be a thick paste)
2. Pour the boiling water of (B) into the wheat flour until totally done (this should become a thick paste)
3. Mix the above mixtures together and knead the mixture into a smooth dough. Then divide to 20 portions, 11g each. Roll them into round, thin slices. We didn’t bother weighing the dough out- we divided them into fishball sized portions.

1. Wash the squid, mince and strir vigorously until sticky, add in the seasoning and then mix with the remaining filling ingredients. Set aside.
2. Wrap about 15g (~ 1 teaspoon) of the filling with a portion of crystal wrapper and knead into a squid shape, and then stick 2 black sesame seeds as eyes.
3. Steam in a steamer on high heat for aout 3 minutes. Serve with broth.

The shaping probably needs a bit of clarifying here. What we did was to roll the dough into a circle about the size of a mug, place the filling within and then fold it in half and pinch together the dough to seal. We then cut horizontally along the top of the semicircle so that the filling remained sealed. One of the ends of dough, we shaped into a ball, flattened slightly and then cut into strips. The other end, we pinched into point. With the extra dough we rolled that into a thin triangle and pinched it back onto the pointy end to make the tail.

P.S: Sorry for disappearing for so long- sleeping in and doing nothing just feels too good 😉

In Recipe, Yum Cha on
September 28, 2010

Yum Cha Style Mango Pancakes

Mango season has hit quite early this year- although they’re not exactly at their best yet, there’s always a strong scent of mangoes whenever I venture into a fruit shop. I find this a little weird as I always associate mangoes with December. When I was younger, we used to take boxes of mangoes to Hong Kong for our relatives when we went there just before christmas. Back then, mangoes were at their best just before christmas and we always managed to bring some large, ripe mangoes. But it seems that the mango season is appearing earlier and earlier each year- last year, we only managed to bring a box of small end of season mangoes!

Although I prefer eating mangoes as they are, rather than using them for desserts (as I do with most fruits), my next favourite way to eat mango is in mango pancakes. Yup, the bright yellow ones they wheel around in the dessert trolley at yum cha, always covered tightly in cling wrap with water droplets hanging off the plastic.

I had these for the first time at a yum cha restaurant about 3 years ago, instantly fell in love with them and then realised how simple they were- after all, they’re just a simple mixture of mangoes and whipped cream wrapped in a yellow pancake. But that never stopped me from ordering them everytime I spotted one at a restaurant. Even when it’s in the middle of winter, and you know that they’re using canned mangoes….

So I finally got around to making this yesterday, after seeing the two mangoes which I’d reserved (my sister used the others for mango pudding) starting to rot. I’ve never been able to find a mango pancake recipe on the internet, one of the resons I’ve been putting it off for so long, despite my love for it)so I decided to use a crepe recipe as I thought it’d be similar to the pancake I’ve eaten at yum cha (never mind the fact that I’ve never actually eaten a crepe before…..), tint it yellow and chuck some whipped cream and mango in there =D And you know what?? It worked!!

I accidently made the crepe too thick because I was scared that if it was too thin, it wouldn’t taste like the mango pancakes I had before. And then I think I overcooked it because it wasn’t quite as soft as I’d like it AND I also added too much food colouring so it ended up looking pretty cheap, like those ones at yum cha restaurants which you look at and know that it won’t taste good but you still order cimply because it’s a mango pancake, and you love mango pancake. Or is that just me? Luckily, the mangoes were really good so it didn’t taste like it looked =) Infact, they were heavenly!! The mangoes are really the star of the show here so the slight problems with the crepe weren’t too noticeable. And so these dissappeared in no time!

I know what I’ll be doing with this season’s mangoes!

Mango Pancake Recipe

Yellow Crepe
Recipe From Anatomy of a Wishful Bohemian
Makes ~10 depending on thickness and size of pan

3 eggs
1 cup milk
⅓ cup water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup caster sugar
a few drops of yellow food colouring

1. Put all the ingredients in a bowl in the order listed. Whisk vigorously until blended (about 30 seconds by machine standards). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat or blend 15 seconds longer.

2. let the batter sit for an hour or longer so the starches can absorb. You can make the batter up to a day in advance and keep it in the refrigerator, just bring it up to room temp before you cook it. It should be the consistency of buttermilk. If it’s lumpy you can strain it.

3. Spray a non stick skillet with a little cooking spray, or brush lightly with a neutral oil and get it hot but not smoking. Remove from heat and pour a little batter in (how much depends on the size of your skillet) and swirl batter evenly around the bottom- try to make this very thin!

4. Return to heat and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes (I used the lowest heat, so it took a lot longer for me- but it meant that the crepes would be smooth!). The thin edges will get crispy and curl up, and the top will mostly set but stay shiny. Flip the crepe around with a spatula (this part is difficult! for me anyways….)

5. Cook the second side for about 30 seconds, then remoce crepe and place it on a clean, dry and preferably light colored dish towel (I put it on a dish…..)

Making the pancake:
300mL cream (I used thickened cream,
but any cream which whips up will do)
icing sugar, to taste
2 small
mangoes, or one large one
around 10 crepes, from the recipe above

1. In a large bowl, whisk the cream until slightly thickened then add icing sugar until it tastes sweet enough, and stiff peaks form. Chill while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.
2. Peel and chip mangoes into long, thin pieces.
3. Place one crepe on a plate (with the nice side down!) and put a heaped tablespoon of whipped cream into the centre. Place a couple of pieces of mango around the whipped cream, then wrap the crepe around it. I do this by folding one side over the cream, then folding both sides inwards, then rolling the whole thing into a cylinder shape.
4. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour (the longer the better) before
serving =)

In Recipe, Yum Cha on
May 4, 2010

Egg Custard Tarts

It’s not actually a thousand layers…..probably around a hundred

Apparently, girls are better than guys at multitasking. But if all guys are worse than me at multitasking, then I truly fear for the human race……..

For instance, unlike most others I know, I cannot listen to music and do homework at the same time, much less watch TV (or blog….tehehe) – I get to caught up in the other thing and just ignore the homework (although that may be only because it’s homework…..).

Another thing I cannot do is bake more than one thing at a time. This is not to say I don’t do so regularly (hehe…) but when I do, things just don’t come out quite right…….

I like to make more than one thing at once for many reasons. For one thing, I don’t actually have that much time to bake- especially since I take so long to make things (I almost always take longer than estimated time on the recipe). My ever growing list of things to make means that unless I multitask, I will still be up to item number 25 when I die. Also, many recipes that I make require awfully short oven times and I don’t like to waste this precious heat, especially if I’ve taken longer to preheat the oven than to bake whatever I’m baking. Although I admit, I don’t actually properly preheat my oven…….hehe

I’ve had plenty of bad experiences with multitasking so I really should have known that trying to bake a cake and make egg tarts at the same time was not a good idea. Especially since I was planning to make a layered egg tart pastry (like puff pastry) and a decorated cake. Needless to say, the cake didn’t end up being decorated properly and the egg tarts didn’t turn out too good.
The cake was originally going to be for a friend, and I had planned to cut it into a cute cartoon shape and then cover it with fondant. I thought it would be simple:
Making the cake: 30 minutes
Baking the cake: 30 minutes
Icing the cake: 10 minutes
Making the fondant + covering with fondant= 1 hour MAX

So at maximum I would spend 2 hours and ten minutes making the cake, which isn’t very long in my time because I had left half a day to make it. Since I was in the kitchen anyway, why not make something else? ……………………….like egg tarts!

Thousand layer egg custard tarts are not my favourite dim sum dessert but seeing that it was possible to create the many layers after reading about it on a couple of blogs, I was interested in trying so myself. Although I had made puff pastry (once) before, that did not turn out too successfully so I was still a little scared about making the dough. It sounded fun enough though- I like fiddly recipes =]

The last time I made puff pastry, I’d spent about 10 minutes just on the rolling out of the dough, putting the butter in, rolling out etc. etc only to look at a video minutes later, to see that the people in the video only took about half a minute to do each turn and then BAM, back it went into the fridge. I was determined to speed myself up a bit this time and successfully completed the first turn in about 3 minutes or so……still slow but I guess it’s progress! I happily rolled the dough out for my second turn/fold, rolling it out until it was large enough to fold (this was not as easy as it sounds…..) when I lifted one end of the dough and then…………I rememebered

I forgot to reflour the surface!
Part of the dough had stuck to the surface of the table as a result of my slightly light flouring which meant all the flour from before had stuck onto the dough so the work surface had barely and flour left on it. Which was exactly the same mistake I made last time. And this was terrible because that meant the bit of dough separating the fat from the next layer of fat was GONE and this meant that the layers wouldn’t be perfect any more!!!

After recovering from this horrible realisation, I tried to slowly peel the dough off the table- luckily it had only stuck onto the table at two places and the holes were relatively small. I did what I did last time, and covered the holes with a lot of flour and kept going knowing that the result wouldn’t be too great and making sure I floured the table a lot each time. I think the sticking of the dough onto the table made the dough weak (it was wrinkly…) because I kept getting holes after that (just like the first time I made puff pastry) no matter how much I floured the table- the holes were forming just from the rolling out of the dough! I eventually lost count of how many times I rolled and folded the dough (I think it ended up being around 5 times) so I don’t know how many layers it ended up being- but definitely far from a thousand =]. When I rolled the dough out to cut into circles, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the layers were still there, even if not perfect and you could actually see them!

Now. What happened to that cake I was talking about before?? I chose this time to quickly whip up a simple buttercake, which didn’t take me long because I’d made it a few times before. It went pretty smoothly and then I divided the batter into a round mould and a rectangular swiss roll pan because I needed to cut it into the shape of a cartoon character. I figured a swiss roll pan would be better than a rectangular pan because it would save on baking time and I could easily cut them into rectanlge and stack them instead of baking a rectangular cake and having to slice it into layers.

So off the custard tarts and the rectangular cake went into the oven- the cake, I figured, would only need about 5-10minutes. In which time, I could quite fry a pad thai! Yeah. You can probably see where this is going. I’d made it the night before but I had some sauce left and some noodles so all it require was for me to get everything out and fry it for a couple of minutes. I made sure to check the oven at 5 mintues- the cake batter was still liquidy. At 8 minutes, it was still far from done. So I went on with my pad thai frying…….until about 15 minutes, I realised that I had completely forgotten about my cake! It had, by then, turned a dark brown and I knew instantly, I could not use it. Cutting into it, I realised it was hard. Actually, the texture was much like a cookie and it tasted like a really nice cookie too =] I had no problem eating up all of the baked-for-too-long cake but it ruined my plans for the cake I would bring to my friend’s place. I ended up baking the round cake and just covering it with pink buttercream for a ‘pink and fluffy’ cake.

And the egg custard tarts? I ended up baking them for about 10 minutes more than the recipe said to because the pastry didn’t look done after 20 minutes and was much too white. This however, meant that the custard was overcooked- and overcooked custard is not nice. Especially the smooth sily custard is supposed to be a main feature of chinese egg custard tarts. The pastry was layered, but in a weird way- the layers just would not adhere to each other! They fell off one layer at a time, so the pastry ended up much like patty cases…….The pastry also lacked the slight crispiness that you would normally find in egg tarts. Not sure if that was the recipe or me……

Overall, I guess it was a BIG FAILURE apart from the fact that the pastry was layered.

I think I’ve learnt my lesson now =]

So here’s the recipe from Cafe of the East. The recipe wouldn’t let me copy and paste but that’s okay because I can type 😉 But I figured the author didn’t really want me to copy it exactly, so I figured I should try and write it out the way I did it -hence the dodgy instructions. If you’re thinking of making these, I would suggest for you to read the original recipe =]

Flaky Egg Custard Tarts

150g white sugar
200mL water
2 eggs
50mL evaporated milk

1. Bring water to boil. Add in sugar and mix until dissolved, leave to cool.
2. Combine 150mL of the cooled syrup, beaten eggs and evaporated milk

Water Dough
80 gm plain flour
5g milk powder
6g custard powder
1 egg yolk
10g lard
12g icing sugar
~40g water

Short Dough
100g plain flour
100g lard

1. Mix all the dry ingredients of the water dough and then slowly add water until a soft but not sticky dough is formed. Knead in the lard. Cover with cling wrap and chill in fridge for 20 mins.
2. Mix the flour and the lard for the short dough. It will be sticky. Cover and refrigerate this too, for around 20 minutes until it has hardened.
3. To make the pastry, you’d probably be better off referring to the original recipe or rather, the illustration provided here on how to make it.
4. Roll the pastry into roughly a 30cmx35cm rectangle. Using round cutters (I used a bowl) cut round circles large enough to fit into the egg tart moulds. You probably want to cut it so that you can still see the layers around the edges….
5 Preheat the oven to 240C(or as high as your oven can go. Put the fluted tart moulds onto a baking sheet. Line each mould with the pastry and fill up to 80% full with the custard filling.
6. Put the egg tarts in the oven and turn the temperature down to 200C celcius and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 180C and bake for a further 10 minutes or until they’re done.