Sous Vide Soy Sauce Chicken


soy-sauce-chicken

Sous vide cooking is new to me, a lot of my friends have already owned a Sous Vide Precision Cooker for a couple of years.  I heard many good things about it but never thought about buying one until after the Thanksgiving holiday when there was a big sale.  I purchased mine (Anova brand) and used it the very first time yesterday.  Basically sous vide cooking is putting food in a bag and cooking it in a water bath.  This technique is about bringing food up to a precisely controlled temperature to deliver super-juicy, flavor-packed results throughout the entire piece of meat.  I personally don’t like the idea of cooking food in a plastic bag, but if I use those vacuum sealer bags that are BPA free, I think that is acceptable.  Below is my first recipe – A Chinese soy sauce chicken –  the meat was cooked just right, very tender and juicy.  Please note this soy sauce chicken doesn’t need the searing step after the water bath.

Ingredients:

1 3-4 pound free range brown chicken 黃毛雞
3 slices Fresh ginger
3 Star anise
3 Bay leaves
2 stalks Green onions
6 cloves Garlic
7 Tbsp Brown sugar
300ml Light soy sauce
300ml Water
2 Tbsp Mei Kuei Lu Chiew (Cooking wine) 玫瑰露酒

Directions for making the sauce:

  1. Measure all ingredients and set aside (picture 1).
  2. Add a tablespoon of cooking oil to the frying pan, stir in ginger, garlic and green onion and cook for a minute. (pictures 2)
  3. Add a tablespoon of Mei Kuei Lu Chiew (cooking wine) and then add in 300 ml water. (pictures 3-4)
  4. Add in sugar, anise and bay leaves. (pictures 5 and 6)
  5. When the liquid is boiling, add a tablespoon of Mei Kuei Lu Chiew (cooking wine) and soy sauce. (pictures 7 and 8)
  6. Turn off fire after the sauce is slightly bubbling, transfer the sauce into a bowl and let it cool. (picture 9)

sauce

Directions for sous vide cooking:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and put the whole chicken in for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  This step will firm the chicken skin and allow the sauce to coat the chicken evenly.  (picture a)
  2. Fill a pot of water, clip the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker to the side of the pot, download the app and connect Anova to your phone.  Use the phone to set the temperature that you want the food to finish at. For this chicken, I set it to 155.5 for 6 hours.
  3. While the cooker is heating up the water, put chicken in a bag and pour sauce into the bag.  Toss the chicken to make sure sauce gets on all sides.  (pictures c and d)
  4. When water has reached the desired temperature, seal the bag using the water immersion technique (drop the bag into water slowly and air will come out, use binder clips to secure the bag).  Place the bag in the water bath and let it cook for 6 hours.  (pictures e and f)
  5. When the timer goes off, remove the bag from the water bath.  Take out the chicken and let it cool.  You can save the sauce and use it next time, just re-boil and freeze in the freezer.

anova

Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting.  Serve with white steamed rice.

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Braised Pork Soft Bones (豬軟骨)


HKG_4555

Ever since I bought an electric pressure cooker (Instant Pot), I’ve tried different recipes that required long cooking times on the stove top.  I must say I love pressure cooking as it has saved me so much time!   This Instant Pot is very safe to use, if the cooker is still pressurized, the lid will be locked to prevent accidental opening.  I have tried cooking a whole chicken, tri-tip, soup and Oxtail.

Ingredients:

3 pounds
10 cloves
1
2 slices
3 stalks
2/3 cup
1/2 cup
1/2 cup
4 Tbsp
4 Tbsp
1 Tbsp
Pork Soft Bones
Garlic
Anise
Ginger
Green Onions
Light soy sauce
Mirin
Water
Dark soy sauce
Brown sugar
Mei Kuei Lu Chiew (or rice cooking wine)

Directions:

  1. I bought these pork soft bones in an Asian supermarket, as you can see from picture 1, they are like short ribs and has a little fat marbling in the meat. The little white circles are the soft bones, once the ribs are cooked for a long time, you can eat the bones together with the meat.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to a frying pan and fry the pork ribs until slightly golden brown. (picture 2)
  3. Add garlic, ginger and green onions to the ribs and stir well. (picture 3)
  4. Add a tablespoon of Mei Kuei Lu Chiew (if you don’t have this type of wine, just add rice cooking wine). (picture 4)
  5. Transfer the ribs to a pressure cooker. In a separate bowl, combine light soy sauce, mirin, water, dark soy sauce and brown sugar.  Pour the mixture into the pressure cooker. (pictures 5-10)
  6. I am using an electric pressure cooker (Instant Pot).  Close the pressure cooker lid tight and make sure the steam release knob is turned to “Sealing” position. Select “Meat/Stew” function, set pressure to “normal” and the cooking time to 35 minutes.  As the pressure increases inside the cooker, the Float Valve pops up and seals the cooker.  (picture 11)
  7. When the ribs are done cooking, slide the steam release knob to the “Venting” position to let out steam until the Float Valve drops down. The meat is so soft and tender, you can serve it with noodles in soup or rice.  (Picture 12)

soft-bone-ribs-collages

Note:  If you don’t have a pressure cooker and want to make this on the stove top, instead of 1/2 cup of water, add 4 cups of water to the pot.  Cook ribs in medium low heat for about 2 hours.

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Traditional Mooncakes 廣式月餅


Mooncakes.jpg

I made these traditional mooncakes two years ago with a 63g mooncake mold.  I’m posting this again with the ingredients for a 75g mold.  Please plan ahead of time as (i) the paste needs to be made and refrigerated (or you can buy the paste from a store), and (ii) the skin normally needs to rest for 2 days after baking to get the best texture,  called “回油” in Chinese.  If you have a sweet tooth, you may want to increase the sugar amount as my recipe is a healthier version – less sugar and less oil.

moon-cakes

Ingredients for Lotus Paste (yield: 17 pieces – 23g each paste ball):

400g
240g
200ml
2 Tbsps
2 Tbsps
1/4 tsp
Lotus Seeds
Sugar
Grape Seed Oil/Olive Oil
Honey
Condense Milk
Salt

Directions for making the lotus paste are in my previous mooncake recipe here.

Ingredients for making the dough:  (yield: 17 mooncakes – 52g each dough ball) 

200g All purpose flour
140g Golden Syrup (recipe courtesy of Christine Ho – here)
1 tsp Alkaline water
50g/ml Grape seed oil
Fillings:
900g Lotus Paste
9 Salted Egg Yolks
1 Tbsp Rose-flavored cooking wine (玫瑰露酒)
1 Egg (for egg wash)

Directions: (The dough/filling ratio is 3:7)

  1. Mix salted egg yolks with wine. Wipe dry the yolks with kitchen paper after a few minutes.  Cut each into two halves. Set aside.  (Note: if you don’t want to use cooking wine, you can use salt water to rinse the egg yolks to remove the excess egg whites).
  2. Place golden syrup in a bowl.  Add in alkaline water, stir to combine. Add in oil and mix well.
  3. Add flour into the syrup mixture and combine well. Gently knead the dough till smooth (takes 1~2 mins). Shape it into a round ball and wrap with cling wrap. Leave it in the fridge to rest for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Before making mooncakes, bring the dough to room temperature for 30 mins. Divide dough into 17 equal portions, each weighs 23g.  Roll each portion into a ball shape.  Divide lotus paste into 17 equal portions as well, each weighs 52g, the salted egg yolks are roughly 5g each half.  (Pictures 1-3)
  5. Take a lotus paste ball and poke a hole in the middle with your finger. Place egg yolk inside. (Picture 4).
  6. Flatten each dough into a small disc with a rolling pin. The dough is sticky, I suggest putting a piece of cling wrap on top and roll it out.  (Picture 5)
  7. Wrap the dough around the filling and shape it into a ball. (Picture 6)
  8. Lightly dust the stuffed dough with some flour and lightly dust the mold.  Place the stuffed dough into the mooncake mold.  Tip:  When wrapping the filling, the dough is thicker on the closing end, the thicker side of the dough should go into the mold first as you will get the pattern pressed on this side.  (Picture 7)
  9. Press the handle, then remove the mooncake from the mold.  Dust off any excess flour with a brush.  (Pictures 8-9)
  10. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and place mooncakes on top.
  11. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare the egg wash by whisking the egg, sift through a fine sieve.
  12. Lightly spray some water on the mooncakes. (Note: this step prevents the mooncakes from cracking during baking.)   (Picture 10)
  13. Position the rack in the upper third of the oven and bake for 10 mins. Remove from oven and leave to cool for 15mins (Note:  this step helps stabilizing the pattern on top).
  14. After 15 minutes, brush the top with very little egg wash (Note: too much egg wash, the pattern will disappear after baking). Return to oven and change the oven temperature to 325F and continue to bake for another 25-30 mins. (Picture 11)
  15. After baking, the skin doesn’t have the shiny look (picture 12).  Leave mooncakes to cool completely and store in air tight containers. Wait for 2 days before serving, the skin will become soft and shiny, called “回油” in Chinese.

mooncake-steps

This is the clear pattern before baking.

moon-cake-print

I ordered this customized mooncake mold in Hong Kong.  The disk can be removed for easy cleaning.  I personally do not like anything bigger than 75g or smaller than 63g.  However, you may like the 100g as it’s easier to work with.

hkg_4703

I also bought these containers and bags in Hong Kong.  They look nice and neat when giving them as a gift.hkg_4789

Pistachio Macarons with Pistachio Buttercream Filling


Pistachio Macaroons

Pistachio Macarons

Pistachio macaroons and almond Macaroons

Once you have a good handle on macarons technique, you can make different flavors.  Now these pistachio macarons are my favorite.  I added green food coloring to the macarons for my pictures, but the natural hue color is always healthier.

Choosing the right macaron fillings is important, my suggestion is to have the not-so-sweet fillings since the macaron shells are quite sweet.  For the pistachio macarons, I made the buttercream filling with pistachios which goes very well with the cookies.

Pistachio flour could be hard to find depending on where you live, when I spot the unshelled pistachios at Whole Foods (it’s pricey $29.99 per pound), I bought some and ground them myself with a food processor.  The extra pistachio flour can be used to make pistachio paste.  Below are the recipes for the pistachio macarons, pistachio buttercream filling and pistachio paste.  Hope you will get a chance to make these.

Ingredients for Pistachio Macarons:

100g
35g
200g
75g
45g
1 tsp
1 drop
Egg whites (3 eggs)
Caster sugar
Icing sugar
Almond meal
Pistachio flour
Cream of tartar
Green gel food coloring (optional)

Directions:

  1. Measure almond meal, pistachio flour and powdered sugar. Sift together to remove any clumps, sift twice if possible.  Discard any big clumps. (pictures 1-3)
  2. Weigh out the egg whites into a large stainless mixing bowl. Begin beating the egg whites on low speed then gradually adjust to medium until the egg whites are foamy.  (picture 4)
  3. Add in sugar as you beat.   Increase the speed from medium to high, if necessary. (picture 5)
  4. Add a teaspoon of cream of tartar and beat the meringue to stiff glossy peaks. (picture 6)
  5. Add the food coloring and mix until well blended.  Remove the whisk. (Pictures 7 and 8).
  6. Add about 1/3 of the almond/pistachio/sugar mixture to the egg white meringue. Fold in until no streaks remain. Continue to add the remaining mixture (1/3 of the mixture at a time), fold until you reach the proper batter.   (picture 9)
  7. It should take roughly 50 folds until the mixture is smooth and a very viscous liquid, not runny. Over-mixing the batter, your macarons will be flat and have no foot, under-mixing the batter, your macarons shells would be lumpy.  When you lift the spatula, the batter should drop down smoothly.  (picture 10)
  8. Pour the batter into your prepared piping bag.  You can place the bag into a measuring cup and cuff the bag’s opening over the top, this makes the bag easy to fill hands-free. (Picture 11)
  9. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.  Place a tiny drop of batter at each corner of the baking sheet to secure the parchment paper.  Pipe rows of batter (dollops a little bigger than a quarter) onto the baking sheets, giving them space to spread. (picture 12)
  10. Tap the pan on the counter several times to break any air bubbles (this prevents cracking). The little peak on the top of the macaron should go down after tapping the pan. However, if you still see the little peak, simply wet your finger and gently smooth the bump down. (pictures 13 and 14)
  11. If you want to sprinkle nuts on top, do it now so that they will stick to the top of the shells.
  12. Allow the cookies to rest on a level surface for 30-60 minutes.  Until they are no longer tacky to a light touch.
  13. Preheat your oven to 300F and bake the macarons for 16-20 minutes.
  14. You will see the macarons have lovely feet when they are done correctly. (picture 15)

collage

  • Use a piping bag to pipe your favorite filling to one side of the macaron and top with another half of macaron to form a sandwich.

sandwich

Directions for making Pistachio Paste (unsweeten version):

  1. You only need pistachio flour and water to make the paste.  I processed the nuts in a food processor  when I made the macarons at first.  (picture 1)
  2. Now return the pistachio flour to the food processor, then slowly add a bit of water (water amount depends on how much flour you have, just add a little bit at a time).  Process it until it is smooth and forms a paste.  That is it!!  We have our paste for the buttercream filling.  It’s super easy!  (pictures 2-3)

Ingredients for Pistachio Buttercream:

2
60g
30ml
60g
3 tsps.
Egg yolks
Granulated sugar
Water
Unsalted butter (softened)
Pistachio paste

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. (Picture 4)
  2. In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar and heat it over medium heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then bring it to a boil and cook until the syrup reaches 250°F.  Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature. (Picture 5)
  3. Slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg yolks and run the mixer on low. Increase the speed to medium high, and beat the mixture until well combined. You can use the egg yolk/syrup mixture now but I always like to take one more step to set a bowl of mixture over a pot of simmering water.  Keep whisk until the mixture registers 160°F.  Meringue becomes very smooth at this point.  Remove from heat and let cool. (Picture 6)
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat butter until whipped and white.  Add in pistachio paste and food coloring (if desired), continue to beat the cream until well combined.  (Picture 7)
  5. Add in meringue and beat until well bended.  (Picture 8)
  6. Transfer the pistachio cream into a pastry bag and fill the macarons. Pipe the filling to one side of the macaron and top with another half of macaron to form a sandwich.  (Picture 9)

pistachio paste

macaroons 2

Chashu (Japanese braised pork belly)


Ramen2

DSC_0309.JPG

After posting recipes for the Soft Boiled Eggs and Tonkotsu Ramen Broth, I must post this recipe since Chashu pork is by far the most popular ramen topping.  These Chashu slices are braised pork belly, they are so tender and flavorful and they just melt in your mouth. Cooking time could be long, but the whole process is very easy.

There were two main reasons I wanted to make this myself: (i) at most of the ramen restaurants, each bowl only comes with 2 slices of meat.  If you are a meat eater like me, you will need to order extra meat for an additional cost; (ii) I had two fatty slices one time (90% of fat and 10% of lean meat) and was very disappointed.  Although I was able to exchange for two leaner pieces, I felt embarrassed and was not sure if the restaurant would do something to my meat (you know what I mean!).  Anyways, when making the Chashu myself, I can pick a nice piece that has less fat and I can serve my ramen with 4-5 slices of meat.

Ingredients:

3 pieces
1 cup
1.5 cup
1.5 cup
1 cup
2 tsp
6 Tbsp
2 two-inch knob
2 Whole
2
6 stalks
Pork belly (about 2 pounds each)
Light soy sauce
Mirin
Water
Cooking Wine
Lemon juice
Brown sugar
Ginger
Shallot (cut in half)
Whole garlic (about 12 cloves)
Green onions

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 F.
  2. Lay the pork belly on a chopping board, roll it into a cylindrical tube with skin facing out, and then use butchers’ string to tie the joint tightly. (pictures 1 and 2)
  3. In a large pot, place the pork belly and add water to cover the pork.  Once boiled, drain and remove the scum by rinsing the pork under cold running water.  (picture 3)
  4. Prepare all ingredients, cut shallots, ginger, green onions and peel garlic.  (picture 4)
  5. In a large pot, heat all ingredients over high heat until boiling, then add pork belly (it won’t be submerged). (pictures 5 and 6)
  6. Once boiled, transfer the pot to the oven and cook for 5 hours. Turn pork occasionally.
  7. Let it cool. Once completely cook, chill the pork in the refrigerator. This makes it easier to slice.
  8. When ready to serve, reheat pork belly slices (chashu) in hot ramen soup.
  9. Keep the chashu sauce, you can use the sauce to marinate the soft boiled eggs.

chashu collage

cooked chashu

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream Macaron filling


DSC_1677a

This recipe is adapted from Natasha’s Kitchen and I added Swiss meringue to make the filling slightly thicker.  The macaron itself is sweet, so I heavily reduced the sugar amount in the basic Swiss meringue.  So far this is my favorite filling that has a very refreshing taste.  For the macaron recipe, please visit my page “French Macarons“.

Ingredients:

Reduced sugar Basic Swiss Meringue:

1 Egg white
2 Tbsp Granulated sugar

Raspberry Buttercream:

1 cup Fresh raspberries
2 Tbsp Granulated sugar
1 Tbsp Fresh lemon juice
1 Stick Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1/4 tsp* Salt

* If you use salted butter, then omit salt in your recipe.

Directions:

  1. Place egg white and sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pan of simmering water. (picture 1)
  2. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. You will see the meringue becomes more white and thicker.  Remove from heat and let cool.  (picture 2)
  3. In a small sauce pan, combine raspberries and granulated sugar and cook over medium heat. (picture 3)
  4. Add 1 tbsp of lemon juice.  (picture 4)
  5. Cook until bubbling.  Remove from fire.  (picture 5)
  6. Press the raspberries with a spoon through a fine sieve and discard seeds.  Put the raspberries juice aside and let cool to room temperature.   (picture 6)
  7. In a mixing bowl, beat butter until whipped and white.  Add in Swiss meringue and beat until well blended.  (picture 7)
  8. Add in raspberry juice and beat until whipped and fluffy.  (picture 8)
  9. Add salt and mix until well blended.  Spoon the mixture into the piping bag and pipe the filling onto the macaron half.  Top with another half and press gently so that it looks like a mini hamburger.  (picture 9)

raspberry filling

DSC_1668

Tonkotsu Ramen Broth


Tonkatsu Ramen

I bought a 32-Quart stainless steel stock pot recently, thinking that one day I may deep fry a turkey in this pot. To get good use out of it, I decided to make broth for Tonkotsu ramen. This pot itself weighs 13 pounds, if I fill it with water and ingredients, it’s impossible for me to lift it.  If you have a 24-quart stock pot, it will suffice.

All Tonkotsu broth recipes require 12-18 hour cooking time (the longer the time, the more gelatin develops in the soup), but it doesn’t mean you are stuck in the house for the whole day. I cooked my broth for 6 hours the first day, let cool it and put it in the fridge, then continued to cook it the second day until the broth became thick and milky. One thing I have to mention is the pig fat “fatback”. Fatback will add nice and rich flavors to your broth, but for health concerns, I omitted it.

Ingredients:

7 pounds
5 pounds (about 6 pieces)
1
12
1 thumb size
12
1 pound
Pig trotters (cut crosswise)
Chicken carcasses (small)
Onion
Garlic cloves
Ginger (sliced)
Green onions (white parts only)
Fatback (optional)

Toppings and Garnish for ramen:

Soft boiled eggs
Chashu
Fish cake
Nori (seaweed)
Green onions
Enoki mushrooms

Directions:

  1. Bring a big pot of water to a boil, then put trotters and chicken carcasses in (should have enough water to cover all bones), cook for 5-10 minutes. (picture 1)
  2. Drain the bones and use a knife or chopstick to take out the dark marrow and rinse with cold water. (pictures 2 and 3)
  3. Wash any coagulated blood off from the chicken carcasses with cold water. (picture 4)
  4. Chop onion and peel garlic, then brown them in a pan, the browner the better.  (pictures 5 and 6)
  5. Add all ingredients into a stock pot and fill the pot with water.   Bring it to a boil, then simmer over low heat.  (picture 7)
  6. You may want to skim off the scum that appears on the top with a stainless steel skimmer. (picture 8)
  7. The pot I used is 32-quart, it is big enough to double this recipe.  After cooking the broth for 16 hours over low heat, the broth is opaque with the texture of light cream.  (pictures 9 and 10)
  8. Pour broth through a fine mesh strainer into a clean pot, discard solids.  (picture 11)
  9. Season broth with salt, taste it and adjust as needed.  (picture 12)
  10. (Optional):  If you want your broth to have a rich flavor, add pork fatback directly to your pot as the bones cook.  After an hour, take the fatback out and finely chop it, then whisk some into the soup just before serving.
Tonkatsu broth
  • I found this soy sauce at the supermarket.  Season the broth with a couple tablespoons of soy sauce can enhance the flavor.

DSC_0205

  • Also found this type of fresh ramen, cook noodles according to package directions.

ramen