Homemade Xiao Long Bao – 小籠包

Well, after we came back from Shanghai, China, we were really missing some delicious Xiao Long Bao so we decided to be adventurous and make some!

The process is time consuming, but it was delicious! We just enjoyed some frozen ones, and sadly, I had to say mine tasted better! Not bad for a first time attempt! There is 3 parts to making Xiao Long Bao, and it starts with the soup part

Ingredients for Soup:
Pork Belly Meat
1 Package of Gelatin
Water

First of all, make a soup with fatty meat so it solidifies. I boiled some pork feet with pork belly in water until it reduced to about half. When I claimed it was done, I seasoned it up as though I was about to drink it – with a little heavier hand of seasoning!

Now, we have to let the soup set and become “jello” so I add a package of flavourless gelatin just to make sure it sets. Put it in the fridge at least 3 hours before using it!

The next thing I did was to marinate the meat. I wanted the meat to be full of flavour so I did that before making the dough.

Ingredients for Filling
1/2 lb regular ground pork
2 tbsp 5-Spiced Powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil
chuck of ginger (minced)
chopped green/spring onion
1 tsp salt

Basically here, mix everything together and let it marinate in the fridge!

If your soup has set at this point, pull back the layer of fat/oil and break down the soup jelly and mix it into the meat marinated. If you put this in at this point, make sure you keep the meat in the fridge so your soup doesn’t become “soup”.

Now, as everything is chilling and developing their flavours, we can make the dough!

Ingredients for dough:
200g A/P Flour
1/8 cup of cold water
1/3 cup of hot water (I used boiling water)
1 tsp salt

Making the dough is actually super easy! Basically you measure out the flour and pour the boiling water in. Mix until the dough is smooth and keep mixing as we’re trying to develop the gluten!

When it’s soft and smooth, add the cold water in and knead for a few more minutes! It will have a nice texture and bounce back when you poke it – then it’s ready. When you reach this point, let it rest in the bowl covered for at least 30 minutes.

After it’s rested, roll it out. I rolled mine out in a pasta roller to get the consistent thickness – and on my machine, I had it at setting “6” for the perfect thickness! I then cut out circles so I can fill the xiao long bao

Then, I get to fill the xiao long bao wrappers and place them on a cabbage lining to my bamboo steamer! I tried to make as many pleats as possible as that’s how it’s prettiest.

Now, we prepare the steamer and we’ll steam for about 15 minutes!

Now it’s done! Be careful, it’s hot and the soup you can see at the bottom of the dumpling — this means it’s really hot!! Enjoy!

Homemade Pot Sticker Dumplings – 鍋貼

I’ve made potsticker dumplings or wor-tips before, but recently, I’ve got some co-workers who seem to have fallen in love with them. So, I decided I will make another batch just for them! This time, I was only able to find lean ground pork, so it was a little dry – and they ate it all up! I’m so proud of my coworkers! 🙂

Ingredients: (makes about 4 dozen using perogy press)
about 1 lb ground pork
3-4 leaves of nappa cabbage (Chinese Cabbage)
1/2 small onion
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 gloves garlic
1 tbsp Chinese 5 Spice
1-2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce

Skin recipe:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of boiling water (make more in case it’s too dry to come together)
salt

So, yes, the ingredient line up seems long but it’s all good, as it’s just typical ingredients any Asian would have in their pantry! First, wash the cabbage and peel the onion, ginger and garlic. I cut my cabbage into little pieces, and I grate the onion garlic and ginger. I put all these ingredients into a bowl.

From there, we can add the ground pork into the mixture, and mix a little bit.

Now, we can season it. It sounds funny, but you can add whatever you want and how much of it as you want. I don’t cook using measuring things, so it’s all “rough estimates”. Add whatever seasonings you like, add it as flavourful as you like, it’s yours and make it yours! So, from here, just add all the goodies and mix well. Oh yeah, you don’t like pork, don’t use pork! 🙂 I like it on the fattier side so it’s “juicier”!

I let my meat sit in the fridge for about an hour just to marinate the flavours a bit. If you like the meat firmer, crack an egg into it – kind of like a meat loaf filling. I like to leave mine alone.

Now some time has elapsed, we can start making the dumpling skins! It’s super simple and I do remember learning this from my grandma. But, I did have to cheat a little and verify with “Google” the right amount of water to flour, which is also a silly thing as all we’re making is a soft dough. If it’s too dry, add more water and vice versa! But, start by putting the flour in a large enough bowl to mix, and pour some salt on top and mix it around a little bit.

You pour the boiling water right into the flour mixture. Grandma use to just use her hands and mix. I do not recommend it as you will probably burn yourself. I think you should use a mixing spoon or something like it! But, mix it until it forms into a nice ball of dough. When this happens, take it out an knead it for a little bit, just enough to keep the ball together.

Now, I usually cut the dough into smaller pieces so it’s easier to work with. Keep the other dough not being used covered with a damp cloth. Roll out the dough so it’s flat and even. If you’re picky, run it through the pasta machine so it’s uniform in thickness.

Now we got strips of dough and we’re good to go to cut out circles! You can either just fill them and seal the edges with just some water, which is the traditional way… but I wanted to use my perogy press this time, so it looks the same. It wasn’t a great idea as you can’t STUFF them, but it’s okay.

There you go, you’ve made dumplings! If you’re freezing them, put them on a cookie tray so they don’t touch each other and freeze them individually first before you put them into a ziplock bag. This will prevent them from sticking together. Now, we pan fry them (or steam them, or how ever you want to enjoy them)!

Okay, I make it sound like it’s the simplest thing in the world, it is once you get the hang of it! It’s okay, practice makes perfect and as long as it tastes good, who cares how it looks! My first batch was really ugly! I’ll actually show you! 🙂 Just put the prettiest one up front, and it’s alright!

Homemade Cha Trung – Vietnamese Steamed Pork Meatloaf with Egg

I was at a Vietnamese restaurant the other day, and all I really wanted was something I haven’t had in years, and it was Cha Trung, which is essentially pork meatloaf that is steamed cooked, with an egg on top. I figured it wouldn’t be hard to make, so I attempted my version of it – a simple one, but a good foundation to add all sorts of yummy ingredients to it!

Ingredients:
1 lb ground pork
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped vermicelli noodles
2 large eggs, 1 eggs in the meatloaf, and 1 for the top
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
1/2 tsp white pepper

Things that you can add are:
1/3 cup dry Nam Meo (Tree Ear Fungus), soaked
shredded carrots

The first thing, set up a steamer and bring the water to a boil. Then, chop up the the vermicelli noodles after it has softened. You can either soak it until soft, or cook it in salted boiling water until soft. Then, mix it with chopped onions.

Afterwards, add the meat in to the mixture and season… and then mix well so it is evenly seasoned. When it is mixed well, mix a egg that has been beaten into the meatloaf, and continue to mix.

When the meatloaf has combined thoroughly, spray some vegetable oil, or grease a steam proof container and pat your meatloaf into the plate. From here, beat the other egg and just pour it on top. If you like more eggs on top, then put a second one, to make a thicker egg cover. Then, cover the meatloaf with plastic wrap.

Steam the meatloaf for about 25-35 minutes depending on how thick the patty is. When it’s ready, be careful taking it out as it’s extremely hot. I cut it into wedges and I serve it with either rice or rice vermicelli and I pour Ngoc Cham! Of course, you can add more to the plate, but this is a simple meal that doesn’t take much time to prepare and when it cooks, it’s pretty much “set it and go” – just like cooking the rice in a rice cooker!

I’ve made this a few times now as it’s so easy to make and it feeds a lot for a small cost! The thing I love about this, I can add all sorts of things into the meatloaf, and it tastes amazing!