Zongzi… It’s like a Chinese tamale

Posted in chinese, recipe on September 28, 2008 by b8bybr8t

I like my zongzi simple.  Pork and rice. 

I remember making these with my mom when I was younger.  Zongzi, a traditional Chinese food, is basically bamboo leaves stuffed with glutinous rice and your filling of choice.  Personally, I don’t care for the peanuts, mushrooms, chestnuts, chinese sausage,  and dried shrimp people sometimes stuff them with.  Pork, that’s all.  Nice and simple. 

24-30 dried bamboo leaves
cotton string

1 1/2 to 2 pounds pork hock   <– Mommy says front leg is more tender
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine
3/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

6 cups short-grain glutinous rice (sweet rice)
2 tablespoons soy sauce

For the meat filling, skin the pork hock and remove the bone.  When you buy the hock, it will be about 4 lbs with the bone… basically both of the front legs.  Cut the meat into 1 inch pieces and save some of the fat.  Marinate the meat in a bowl with soy sauce, rice wine, five spice powder, and ginger.  Cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Rinse the rice a few times and drain.  Add soy sauce and store in refrigerator overnight or allow to stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours so all liquid is absorbed.

Soak the leaves in tap water overnight or in hot water half an hour before wrapping.

Good morning…  now you have everything ready to assemble!  Select 2 leaves of relatively the same size, stems facing opposite directions, glossy side facing you, and overlap them to make a 5 inch wide piece. 

Now, turn it horizontally and fold the ends towards you forming a heel shape. 

Place 2-3 tablespoons of marinated rice in the “cup” and spread it about 3 inches toward the leaf tip.  Please a few pieces of the marinated meat over the rice.

Add a couple tablespoons of rice over the meat.  The meat should be completely enveloped by rice. 

With your right hand, bring the empty bottom portion of the leaf over the rice-filled cup, curving the leaf over the sides and beyond the heel side.  The tips of the leaf should extend a few inches beyond the heel.

Tie the string around the zongzi so it’s a secure package.  Do not tie the string too tightly as the package will expand when cooked.

Place the zongzi in a large pot or Dutch oven.  Add water to cover, with a couple inches to spare.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil.  Cook on medium-low heat for an hour, then turn down to low heat until the water is barely simmering and cook for an additional 3 hours.  Make sure there is boilng water covering the packages at all times.

To eat, snip the string and lift off the pointed part of the leaf.  Serve with soy sauce.  Yummmm……..


Niu Rou Mein… Just letting off steam

Posted in chinese, recipe on September 27, 2008 by b8bybr8t

OK, so it only vaguely resembled my parents’, but my Chinese beef noodle soup was still pretty damn good!  It was also the first time I had ever used the pressure cooker I got almost 5 years ago.  To be honest, I was a little scared of it.  I guess I had this notion that if used incorrectly it would errupt violently, spewing its contents all over the ceiling and taking my eye out in the process.  Well, today I got brave….  and had to feed a craving.

Thanks for the tips, Mommy!

3 tablespoon oil
3 lbs beef shank, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes      <– I used bone-in beef shank
4 ba jiao (star anise)
1 tablespoon hua jiao (Szechuan pepper)
10 cloves of garlic, smashed      <— It may look like a lot but it really isn’t
6 slices of ginger
5 dried red chili peppers, crumbled     <– I used homegrown thai chilies 
3 pieces of cassia (Chinese cinnamon)      <– Didn’t have it this time
3 tablespoons garlic chili paste
3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon powdered beef stock    <– I soley used chicken stock
1 1/2 tablesppon powdered chicken stock      and it was not as flavorful
1 bunch green onions, chopped
dried Chinese noodles

Cut the beef shank into cubes and set the bones aside.

Wrap the ba jiao, hua jiao, garlic, ginger, dried chilies, and cassia in a cheesecloth and tie it up with some butcher string.


Heat 2 tablespoons of oil on high heat in the pressure cooker brown the beef shank cubes.  Once the beef is slightly browned, remove it from the pot.  Add 1 tablespoon oil and then the garlic chili paste.  Return the beef back to the pot and deglaze the pan with the rice wine.  I recommend Shao Hsing rice wine. 

Dissolve the stock granules in some water and pour it into the pot.  Toss the spice sack into the pot and add enough water to immerse all the ingredients and meat.  Add in soy sauce and salt.  If you used bone-in beef shank, throw this in as well.  (Did you know bone broth is a mineral supplement and super food?)

Lock the pressure cooker and cook for 25 minutes after pressurization.  After you’re done, remove the bones, test and adjust the flavor.

Boil the noodles and, if you want, blanch some baby bok choy when you strain your noodles.  Ladle the beef stew over the noodles.  Garnish with green onions, bean sprouts, baby bok choy, and ENJOY!

Hua Juan… worth the trouble

Posted in chinese, recipe on September 22, 2008 by b8bybr8t

I miss my parents’ cooking. 

As children, my brother and I used to whine about how our friends got to eat out at fancy places… you know, places like McDonald’s and CiCi’s pizza.  Yah, yah, I know… we were kids and didn’t know any better.  We routinely had our family dinners at home and you would find my mom, dad, or both of them clinking, clanking, and tsza-tszaa-tszaaaaaing away in the kitchen.  Mmmm, the smell of nostalgia.  So yesterday, I had a hankering for some Chinese steamed buns called Man Tao.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to make it and my mom was on a plane somewhere over Ohio or something.  Oh well, google it.  In my desperate search for authentic Man Tao, I came across another childhood favorite.  Hua Juan.  It’s essentially the same as Man Tao, but with green onions and twisted into a pretty flower roll giving it its name.  It took almost five hours from beginning to end but the result was well worth it. 

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons water
4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (or as needed)
1 teaspoon salt
1 bunch of green onions (finely chopped)

Place the yeast in a bowl and pour the warm water over. Stir in the sugar to dissolve. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the yeast and water mixture and begin stirring immediately. Keep stirring until you have a dough that holds together and doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl. Adjust the amount of water, adding more or less as is needed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until it is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Add more flour or water if needed. Cover and let rest for 1 1/2 hours. Punch the dough down again, and let it rest for 1 – 1 1/2 more hours, until it’s size has doubled.

Dissolve the baking powder in 2 teaspoons water. Knead into the dough vigorously for a few minutes, until it is elastic again. Begin preparing the flower rolls.

To make the rolls, roll out the dough into a large rectangle, Rub the sesame oil over. Sprinkle evenly with the salt and chopped green onions.

Roll up the dough as if you were rolling up a sleeping bag and cut into 2-inch pieces

 Take each piece and, with the cut sides facing outward, use chopsticks or something similar to press down lengthwise in the middle. Press down firmly enough so that the layers on each side spread outward, but not enough to cut right through the dough. The layers will push out to the sides, so that you have 2 ovals that are joined in the middle.

Pick up the dough by its rounded ends, and pull until they meet underneath the roll. PInch the ends together underneath the roll. This causes the flower to become rounder in shape.

Let the rolls sit for 10 minutes, and then steam for 20 minutes.

Another way to prepare the flower roll is to roll out the dough into a large rectangle and cut them into 4″-5″ strips.  Then slice several lengthwise slits leaving the ends intact.

Rub sesame oil all over and sprinkle salt and green onions all over. Then take the short, intact ends and twist the dough. 

Take the ends and tie a knot tucking the ends at the bottom of the roll.

Like the other style, let sit and then steam.