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Chinese Cooking

In Asian, Healthy, Recipe, Vegetables on
July 29, 2018

Sichuan Dry Fried Green Beans (aka Four Season Beans)

Sichuan Green Beans

Knowing how to cook is an invaluable part of having a healthy lifestyle. Not just because home cooked meals are much healthier than eating out, but also (and perhaps more importantly) because it really helps you understand what goes into the food you are eating.

I mean, I can go on and on about how much saturated fat is in cakes and biscuits but nothing quite gets the message across like seeing blocks of butter going into your cake batter. And then a couple more into the icing.….

For me, working in a Chinese restaurant took this one step further. I was absolutely fascinated during the first couple of months waitressing at my local Chinese. I loved the way that everything was cooked to order but was on the table in 5 minutes. Even the hot plates were heated methodically, popped onto the burner as soon as the meal started cooking, so that they were just the right temperature once it was ready. Read more

In Recipe on
January 28, 2017

Chinese New Year 2017 | Water Chestnut Cake Recipe 馬蹄糕

Happy Chinese New Year!

This is why I love being Chinese. Not even a month since New Years and we’re celebrating again!

Being in Australia, and away from the majority of our relatives, Chinese New Year is not a huge thing for us, but we always do try to celebrate it, even if it only really involves the mandatory red pockets from our parents in the morning, and a nice Chinese New Year dinner at night.

And sometimes, if we have time for it and the weather’s not too hot, we get around to making some Chinese New Year snacks as well. I didn’t quite get around to making anything as involved as  honeycomb crisps, peanut filled pastries or smiling mouth cookies this year, so I threw together a quick water chestnut cake instead.

Whilst the classic New Year Cake (年糕) and Radish Cake (蘿蔔糕) are the more common cakes you tend to see around Chinese New Year, any type of cake can really be used to celebrate Chinese New Year because the word cake in Chinese is pronounced similarly to the word tall, therefore symbolising the promise of a better year.

For me, it’s just another excuse to have cake really.

Water chestnut cake is my favourite of Chinese cakes- essentially a simple sugar syrup mixture, thickened into a jelly-like consistency from chestnut flour. Chunks of water chestnut add some addition textural contrast- if you’ve never tried water chestnut, it is similar to the texture of a pear, although not nearly as sweet. Fresh water chestnuts make for an amazing snack, but you’ll have a hard time locating some in Australia so the frozen ones will do for this recipe.

We’ve been through a fair amount of water chestnut cake recipes and this is the one we ended our search at because it is the texture and the taste that we are after. The flavour mostly comes from the sugar, so it will vary depending on the type of sugar used, but the subtle taste of the water chestnut and the unique texture still remains regardless. I would definitely recommend this recipe for any water chestnut lovers!

Water Chestnut Cake 馬蹄糕
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  1. 320g water chestnuts (I used frozen)
  2. 320g water chestnut flour
  3. 480g cane sugar (I used 300g)
  4. 1T lard (I used vegetable oil)
  5. 5.5 cups water
  1. Wash the water chestnuts and cut into small pieces
  2. Mix water chestnut flour with 1.5 cups of water to make a paste
  3. Boil the remaining 4 cups of water with the cane sugar until melted
  4. Add lard and water chestnuts. Boil breifly and turn off heat.
  5. Wait for 3 minutes and then quickly pour in mixed water chestnut solution in the boiled sugar solution. Mix quickly to form a paste
  6. Pour into a greased cake tin and steam for 30 minutes until cooked
  7. When cold, cut into slices and pan fry in oil until gold on both sides before serving.
  1. The recipe can be tweaked, but I would recommend keeping the ratio of chestnut flour to water the same- this is what gives it the correct texture.
  2. Because water chestnut does not have much of a flavour, the flavour mostly comes from the sugar so you can change it to suit your tastes. We tend to use Chinese brown sugar (which results in a darker cake), but in this instance, I used rock sugar (cane sugar) for a whiter result.
The texture of the cake can vary considerably depending on how it is mixed
  1. In the method described in the original recipe, the water syrup mixture (step 3 and 4) is set to cool for 3 min before the flour solution is added. When this method is used, the resulting cake is smooth and attractive.
  2. The method I prefer is to add the flour solution immediately tot he boiling syrup mixture. This 'cooks' the flour and immediately turns the mixture into a thick paste. This results in a chewier cake, although not as smooth.
Adapted from Hong Kong Snacks Cookbook
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In Asian, Recipe on
December 1, 2014

Dry Wonton Mee

I’ve had a habit of being posting about my holidays notoriously late- often months and months after the trip, by which time I’ve mostly forgotten about details of the trip itself. This year, I’ve been meaning to post about my trip to Kuala Lumpur at the beginning of this year, but the (literally) thousands of photos to sort through, edit and then write about was such a big task that I’d always delay doing it, working on more recent bakes and eats instead.

I’ve still yet to pick all the photos I want to edit, much less edit them so it’s probably never really going to happen, but it was an amazing trip- plenty of great cheap food everywhere I went!\ Read more

In Asian, Recipe on
February 12, 2014

General Tsao’s Chicken

General Tsao's Chicken

When my relatives from Asia visited the Chinese restaurant I work at , they were quite amused by what we served. Never had they encountered things like fried ice-cream, fortune cookies or stuff cooked in sweet chilli sauce. It was to them, like a completely different cuisine!

I got the same kind of amusement when I discovered General Tsao’s chicken (when searching for a tasty chicken recipe) and subsequently, plenty of other Westernised Asian dishes we don’t serve in Australia. Not surprisingly, it’s quite akin to sweet and sour pork only better because it tastes less fake and has a greater depth of flavour (with the slightest hint of orange as well). It’s ridiculously easy, as I baked instead of fried, and my family loved it so much that it’s definitely going to be appearing regularly on our dinner repertoire! 🙂 Read more

In Asian Treats, Pastry, Recipe on
October 15, 2010

Chinese Coconut Tart

First HSC exam today! *gasp*

Okayokay- so maybe it’s not such a big deal =) I didn’t start studying last night (for once) and so I got some sleep. Although my mum accidently turned on my electric blanket (on high might I add) in the morning when she was changing my sheets, meaning that I spent half the night being fried on my bed instead of sleeping! Don’t worry, I turned around occasionally to make sure that I seared evenly =)

But even spending half the night awake, I didn’t think any exam thoughts. It was strangely…..normal. No ‘what if’ thoughts, no ‘I’m going to fail’ or even trying to go through my essay at all. I think I’m skilfully mastering the art of blocking out bad thoughts from my head!

I can happily forget my no-so-pleasing marks that I might have gotten a few weeks ago. I can easily forget that there’s a HSC to study for- until I return to my desk and see a pile of books waiting to be studied. In fact, the only thing I really think about now is what I’m going to do after the exams- all the food I’m going to cook, all the places I’m going to eat at, all the blogging I’ll do.

I don’t want to talk much about school because this blog is mostly for happy things. Study makes me sad sad sad……..=( (*gasp* repetition! sibiliance! *puke*) But because I’ll have to go back to studying soon (and start on my essays *sigh*), I’ll keep this one short. But if you don’t see me around on this blog for a couple of weeks you’ll know why =) But knowing me, I won’t be able to resist not blogging!

And because studying is messing up my brain, I’ll go a little crazy in this post and blog about three things rather than one. Okayokay, enough about the study- onto the happier things- food!

Soda Cream Crackers from agesssssss ago

These soda cream crackers were like an impulse-bake. I saw them on Wendy’s blog one moment (recipe here)and before i knew it, I had a batch in the oven =) I made then into small shapes like I saw in the original recipe because I thought they were cute, although this made it really time consuming- especially with all the fork marks! I used thickened cream instead of whipping cream because it was what I had in the fridge, so the dough ended up a lot tougher (I was scared to add too much milk- don’t know why- it’s silly, I know) and the layers didn’t come out nearly as defined as Wendy’s. Nevermind. I’ll just have to bake these again. After the HSC.

And then there were these donut muffins.

I’ve got plans to make proper donuts sometime in the future but meanwhile, I thought I’d try these donut muffins to satisfy my (sister’s) donut cravings. They’re a lot easier to make than donuts- just mix all the ingredients together and bake!! The method looked rather much like the method of making normal muffins so I wasn’t quite sure how these would turn out….

Sure enough, they turned out having the texture of a donut (a cakey one), but wasn’t nearly as light and soft as fresh donuts. They were pretty yummy and donuty fresh out of the oven but hardened considerably the next day and became a little chewy too. I tried the sugar and cinnamon coating but it either fell off the muffins or melted onto them so I coated them in oil (instead of melted butter) and then dunked them in the cinnamon sugar muxture but that made them all oily so I used ganache for the rest of them. Chocolate seems to be able to fix everything =) I’ll post the recipe later although it’s probably not worth it….

For something a little more successful. And very very delicious =)

I’ve always wanted to make these coconut tarts- the types you get at Asian bakeries. They taste great both hot and cold, but they’re terribly hard to resist when they’ve come straight out of the oven-sorta like chinese egg tarts (not in the taste though)! Only these are a lot easier as there’s no puff pastry involved, and they’re a lot more forgiving- if you accidently leave them in the oven for too long. And because they’re coconutty, they’re bound to be a hit within our family!

I baked these in my electric oven since they were so small. I no longer like my electric oven. It doesn’t bake things evenly =(

Coconut Tart

Recipe from Angie’s Recipes– thankyou Angie!

180 g All-purpose flour
35 g Icing sugar
1 small Egg
10 g Custard powder
90 g Butter, chilled

100 g Grated coconut
40 g Butter, melted
40-45 g Sugar
1 large Egg
2 tbsp Condensed milk
2 tbsp Water

1. Sift flour, icing sugar and custard powder together into a mixing bowl.

2. Rub in butter, using paddle of mixer or by hand, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add in egg. Mix until the pastry begins to form large lumps. Press together gently with your fingers to form the pastry into a ball.

3. Chill pastry dough for about 30 minutes. In a bowl, mix all ingredients for the filling. Set aside.

4. Divide pastry into 10 portions (approx. 35 g each). Press pastry evenly into tart mould. Trim the edges to remove excessive dough. Prick base of each tart with a fork. Fill tarts with filling to about 90% full.

5. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/355F – 200C/330F for 30-35 minutes until pastry is cooked thoroughly. Leave the tarts in moulds for 5 minutes before turning onto wire rack to cool.

P.S Does my blog take ages to load?? Because it does on my computer- I’m not sure if it’s just me =(
EDIT: Problem fixed….I think =)