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This dish has a very weird Chinese name; it literally translates as ants climbing up a tree… ?? I wonder if the ground pork is the ‘ants’ and noodles is the lines of a tree bark? Anyway, it’s delicious! That’s all matter!

Ground Pork Stir Fry with Clear Noodles 螞蟻上樹

Ground Pork Stir Fry with Clear Noodles 螞蟻上樹

Ground Pork Stir Fry with Clear Noodles (serves 4 people)

Ingredients:

1/2 lb ground pork
1 bundle clear noodles– soak in water to soften
2 cloves garlic– chopped
2 red hot peppers– chopped
2 tsp rice cooking wine
1/2 cups chopped Chinese celery stems– see note below

Seasoning:
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp chicken powder
1/2 cup water

Method:

  1. Season pork with typical seasoning (salt, ground white pepper, sesame oil and cornstarch, water). Set aside.
  2. Heat up a wok on medium high heat. Sauté garlic and peppers until aromatic. Add in ground pork. Keep stirring to loose it up. Add in rice wine. Stir until wine evaporates.
  3. Add all seasoning ingredients. Stir to mix well. When it boils, add in noodles. Stir to mix well. Cover, and cook until noodles almost absorb all the liquid and turn transparent. Stirring a few times in between to make sure noodles don’t stick to the wok. Add a little more water if needed. Before dishing out, add chopped Chinese celery stems and stir a few more times. Serve hot immediately with rice.

Regina’s Note:

  • Chinese celery stems: I use Chinese celery stems for its crunchy texture and color. As with regular celery, always remove the fiber ‘strings’ before use.

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Malaysian style pork jerky, or locally called ‘Bak Kwa’ is different from American version– well, it’s mostly made of pork, usually sweet, tender and moist. Taiwanese version of jerk, although flavor is closer, is different too as it is mostly made of beef, and it lacks the typical ‘shine’ that you’ll find in Malaysian style. In Malaysia and Singapore, ‘Bak Kwa’ is an luxurious snack due to its expensive price, making it a popular gift for friends and family on special occasion like Chinese New Year. I remember eating ‘Bak Kwa’ sandwich with plain white bread on rare occasions… great childhood memories…

Back to making ‘Bak Kwa’, there are many recipes online and I tried at least a couple different versions before, but none tasted quite like the way I had it from ‘Bak Kwa’ specialty stores in Malaysia. Then I started thinking~ Bak Kwa sellers must keep the ingredients simple in order to cut down the cost… so the recipe I look for should have simple ingredients rather than a long list of all kinds of sauces and spices (as I tried before)… thus I chose this recipe “Homemade Bak Kwa (Chinese Pork Jerky)” from MyKitchen101en.com. I did make some modifications to the ingredient list to play around. The results is quite good especially the flavor. Although the look is not as pretty as I expected but that’s probably because no red coloring was used.

With the Year of Pig at our doorsteps, I’m done trying out recipes for CNY snacks (for now!). Now I’m shifting focus to Chinese New Year Eve reunion dinner menu– it’s the feast of the year in my family. I can’t wait for the lunar new year to start, so I can finally lay back and relax, while enjoying the fruits of love of all the hard work I put in. May the Year of Pig bring you abundance of health, wealth and joy. Huat Ah!!

Malaysian Style Honey Pork Jerky 'Bak Kwa' 蜜汁猪肉乾

Malaysian Style Honey Pork Jerky ‘Bak Kwa’ 蜜汁猪肉乾

Malaysian Style Honey Pork Jerky 'Bak Kwa' 蜜汁猪肉乾

Malaysian Style Honey Pork Jerky ‘Bak Kwa’ 蜜汁猪肉乾

Malaysian Style Honey Pork Jerky ‘Bak Kwa’ 蜜汁猪肉乾

Ingredients:

1 lb ground pork– see note below
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp Chinese rice cooking wine

Coating (microwave for a 5 seconds then mix well):
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp water

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir in same circular direction until the meat becomes sticky. Alternatively, use a stand mixer with paddle attached, mix on medium high speed for a few minutes until the meat gets sticky. Cover and chill overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Lined two large baking pans with parchment paper. Place half of the meat in the center. Cover with a large sheet of plastic wrap, then roll out to 3mm thickness. Repeat with the remaining meat.
  3. Remove plastic wrap, bake in preheated 325F oven for 12 minutes. The meat meat will shrink and there will be some liquid drawn out. Let the pork jerky cool slightly while it absorbs back some liquid. Brush with honey water and cut into big pieces (for easier handling during charring on the grill)
  4. Transfer pork jerky to grill to char slightly. Cut into desired size. Cool completely before storing in container.

Regina’s Note:

  • Ground pork: If the meat is too lean the pork jerky will be dry in texture. I like to use 80(lean)/20 (fat). Also, mix some coarse ground pork with regular ground pork for better texture.
  • I found out my honey water was a bit too thick and thus the jerky was a bit too sweet. Next time revise honey water to 1:1. Or skip honey water for the classic original flavor.
  • My jerky was a bit thin for my liking. Next time just use one large tray instead of two trays.

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IMG_3777

Thai Ground Pork Stir Fry with Basil ‘Pad Krapow’

Like many other Thai foods, this is a very appetizing dish that goes very well with fragrant jasmine rice. I just made it a few days ago and now I’m in the mood of making it again!It’s very easy to prepare, and I guarantee  your belly will be satisfied, adding bowls and bowls of jasmine rice to go with it 🙂

IMG_3776

Thai Ground Pork Stir Fry with Basil ‘Pad Krapow’

Thai Ground Pork Stir Fry with Basil ‘Pad Krapow’ (serves 2-3 people):

Ingredients:
1/2 ground pork (optional– lightly seasoned with little salt and ground white pepper)
1 tbsp rice cooking wine
3 cloves garlic– chopped
3-4 Thai red hot peppers– chopped
1/2 medium onion– diced
1/2 red bell pepper– diced
handful Thai basil leaves

Seasoning sauce (mix well):
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce– “Three Crabs” brand preferred
1 tsp sugar>
juice of 1 lemon or lime

Method:

  1. Add 1 tbsp cooking oil to a hot wok. Add ground pork. Stir the meat to have a roughly even layer (not a big lump). Fry til the bottom is slightly brown. Stir around to loose up the meat. Add cooking wine (a must!) to remove any meat smell/taste.
  2. Add in garlic and red hot peppers. Stir until it gets aromatic.
  3. Add in seasoning sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes for the pork to soak up the flavor. When the sauce is almost dry, add in diced onion and red bell pepper and stir a few times.
  4. Add in basil leaves and make a few stirs, until the basil leaves are wilted. Dish out and serve immediately with jasmine rice.

Regina’s Note:

  • Thai basil leaves— Use Thai basil, not sweet basil which is used in western cuisine. And don’t be stingy about it– it’s the soul of this dish.
  • If lime is used, you might need a little more sugar to balance the sour taste.

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My oldest son Alexander used to be not a fan of wontons. Then all of a sudden, after trying some, he decided he like it enough to make it to his favorite food list. I like to make a batch of wontons and freeze the extras. When I don’t know what to make for Alexander’s lunch, then these wontons come in handy. Alexander’s current wonton record is 10 pieces (about size of a table tennis/ping pong) at one serving.

To me, wonton is one of those food that is easy enough and doesn’t require writing down the recipe. But here I’m writing it down mainly for you, my dear son, so that when you are away from home and miss your mamma’s home made wontons, you’ll know how to make them.

Wonton Soup

Wonton Soup

Wonton Soup Recipe 云吞汤 (makes about 55-60 pieces)

Ingredients:
1 lb ground pork
1/2 lb shrimps– shelled and deveined, and coarsely chopped
6 water chestnut– chopped (optional)– see your mamma’s note below
1 pack (1 lb) medium wonton wrappers

Seasoning:
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp tapioca starch
4 tbsp water

some green leafy vegetables like “yu choi” 油菜– clean, cut to 2-inch length

Method:

To make wontons:

  1. Put ground pork in a mixing bowl, add in all the seasoning and mix well. Add in chopped shrimps and water chestnut (if used). Mix to combine all together. Then use a pair of chopsticks, stir the mixture in a circular motion for a few minutes, until the mixture appears sticky and some very thin strands are visible (you can use a standing mixer to do the job so you arm doesn’t get sore :-)).
  2. Put about 1/2 to 1 tbsp of ground pork filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. Run your finger through water then wet all edges briefly. Fold it in half to form a triangle. Then bring the two ends on the long side together, wet touch one end and press seal the other end on top of it (if you find it hard to bring two ends together, make the triangle stand up first before proceeding). Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.
  3. Place wonton on a tray and freeze for about 1 hour or until the wonton are just frozen. At this point wontons are pretty much individually frozen and can be put in a ziplog bag– and here are your home made frozen wontons!

To make wonton soup:

  1. Okay, here comes the easy part– the soup: Boil some chicken broth or water in a pot. Carefully drop in frozen wontons (no need to thaw) into the boiling liquid. Stir immediately so the wontons do stick to the bottom of the pot. Let it bring to a boil, stir a few times to make sure wontons are swimming happily in the soup. Add in some water and bring to a boil again. When the wontons float to the top, cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove wontons to a bowl or else the wontons are over cooked and the wrappers will tear and become mushy.
  2. Cook leafy vegetables in the soup (cook it longer if you prefer softer texture). Add salt and ground white pepper to taste. Drizzle in a little sesame oil. Pour vegetables and soup over wontons. Enjoy while it’s hot!

Mamma’s Note:

  • Like I do with potstickers and dumplings, I like to make a batch of wontons and freeze them. Just loose them up before freezing in a bag, and cook them straight from frozen– no need to thaw.
  • water chestnut: Well, son… your mamma really likes water chestnut in the wontons (and in dumplings too) for its slightly crunchiness, but you and your brother and sister doesn’t like it and think it’s onion or some sort… one of these days you should really try it. It’s not going to kill you 🙂
Making wontons

Making wontons

Home made wontons

Home made wontons

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My Chinese drawing classmate Jane inspired me to try out this dim sum dish. Why are they called pearl meatballs? This is because after steaming, the rice coating makes the meatballs look like giant pearls from a distant. The first time I made it, the meatballs were gigantic, and way too salty. This time around, they all turned out pretty good. I’m happy with the result, so… time to enjoy my pearls!

Pearl Meatballs 珍珠丸子

Pearl Meatballs 珍珠丸子

Pearl Meatballs 珍珠丸子

Pearl Meatballs 珍珠丸子

Pearl Meatball Recipe 珍珠丸子 (makes about 50 pieces, fish ball size)

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup glutinous rice– soaked at least 4 hours
1 1/2 lbs ground pork
1 tbsp dried shrimp– minced– see note below
2 cloves garlic– finely chopped
1 egg white

meat seasoning:
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp cooking wine
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp tapioca starch
2 tbsp water

Method:

  1. After soaking glutinous rice, drain out as much water as possible. Transfer to a deep dish plate.
  2. In a deep bowl, season the pork with the meat seasoning, then add in remaining ingredients(except egg white) to mix well. Use a pair of chopsticks/wooden spoon/flat rice scooper, stir the meat in a circular motion(same direction), until it binds and turns sticky. Add in egg white and continue stirring motion, until it mixes well and sticky again.
  3. Scoop some ground pork , lightly shape to a small ball of fish ball size or US quarter(25 cents) size. Roll the meatball in the rice so the rice coats the surface, press to stick the rice. Shape it to a ball again if necessary. Repeat until all meat are finished.
  4. Gently transfer coated meatballs to a steam tray with hole (do not place meatballs on a plate–see note below). Steam on high heat for 10 minutes per batch. Do not put too many meatballs in one tray, as there must be room for the steam to come up. Transfer pearl meatballs to a plate. Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce (chili sauce, venegar, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce etc..)

Regina’s Note:

  • Optional ingredients: Personally, I would love adding some chopped shrimps, dried mushrooms (soaked to soften of course), water chestnut, green onion for more flavor and texture. However, since my kids are picky about these stuff so I just skip all the goodies 😦
  • Dried shrimps and salt: Since dried shrimps add saltiness to the meat, take care not to add in too much salt– I added too much dried shrimps in my first trial, ended up with pretty salty pearls…
  • Steam tray: In my first trial, I steamed pearl meatballs in a greased metal plate, but because there’s no hole on the plate for the liquid to drain during steaming, the bottom of my pearls were all mushy rice. So, I thought of steaming the pearls directly on the steam tray with holes, this way the liquid can drip back to the boiling water below, keeping the rice from getting mushy.
Pearl Meatballs 珍珠丸子-- before steaming

Pearl Meatballs 珍珠丸子-- before steaming

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Homemade sausage roll 烧卷 is a popular Chinese New Year(CNY)  dish item in my hometown Muar, Malaysia. Every family has their own version, but It is pretty much seasoned ground pork, along with other stuff, wrapped in thin beancurd sheet 腐皮, steamed then fried. Growing up we always have this dish on the table during the CNY feast. I remember those days we would made a lot of rolls and freze them in the fridge in preparation of the new year.

My family use pork liver as part of the ingredients, but I can’t get good pork liver here, so I’m substituting with shredded taro.

Sausage rolls after steaming.

Sausage rolls after steaming.

Sausage Rolls after frying.

Sausage Rolls after frying.

Homemade Sausage Rolls 烧卷 Recipe (makes 22 large rolls)

Ingredients:
2 lbs lean ground pork
2 lbs fatty ground pork
1/2 lb shrimps– peel, devein and chopped
1/2 lb (about 1 1/2 stick) carrots– shredded
1/2 lb soaked dried mushrooms– remove stems and shredded
1 lb taro– peel and shredded
10 fresh water chestnut– peel and finely diced
4 eggs– see note below
4 tbsp flour
22 trimmed thin beancurd sheets 腐皮– size 12 inch x 8 inch
cornstarch water (mixture of cornstarch and water) to seal the edge of beancurd sheets

ground pork seasoning:
2 tbsp five spice powder
1 tbsp ground white pepper
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp dark caramel sauce
6 tbsp fried shallots
1 tbsp tapioca starch/cornstarch
2 tbsp sesame seed oil

veggie seasoning:
1 tbsp five spice powder
1 tbsp ground white powder
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp salt
3 tbsp fried shallots
2 tbsp sesame seed oil

Method:

  1. Add two types of ground pork, shrimps and ground pork seasoning in a large bowl/container/deep roasting pan and mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl combine all vegetables. Add veggie seasoning and mix well.
  3. Add seasoned vegetables to the ground pork mixture. Add eggs to mix well. Add flour to combine.
  4. Divide ground pork into 22 portions (I eye balled and use about 3/4-1 cup of meat per sheet). Place one portion on the beancurd sheet and roll it up like a egg roll. Apply cornstarch at the edge to seal. Repeat this step with the remaining ground pork and beancurd sheets.
  5. Place rolls, seal side down, on a tray and steam on high heat for 20 minutes until the meat is cooked. At this point, sausage rolls are ready to eat. Alternatively, cool the rolls and fry them. Slice and serve with plum sauce. Steamed sausage rolls can be kept in freezer after cooling completely.

Regina’s Note:

  • Eggs– 1 egg : 1 lb ground pork
  • Because of the huge amount of meat and vegetables, I season them separately before combining together, to ensure the seasoning is evenly mixed in. Eggs and flour are binding agent.
  • I hand mixed all ingredients because of the large quantity. For a smaller batch, using a standing mixer to mix will be easier and quicker.

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I saw this recipe posted in Lily’s Wai Sek Hong, where she got it from this Chinese cooking video. The pastries (from Lily and the video) looks so good that I gave it a try. Indeed, it’s very delicious and peppery.

I have never had one before so I don’t know what is the original authentic taste, but I like my version except it’s a little sweet, next time I will cut down the sugar. If you understand Mandarin and some Hockien, check out the video as the cook shares some tips. Also, the cook uses more white pepper and soy sauce paste than the recipe calls for. When making the yeasted dough, the cook mixes yeast with the flour before adding water– I followed this approach but found out that the yeast does not completely dissolve into the dough. I should have dissolve the yeast in the water instead of adding it to the flour.

Peppery Pork Pastry

Peppery Pork Pastry

Peppery Pork Pastry Recipe (makes 10 pieces)

Ingredients:

Filling:
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 ground pork belly
5 tbsp soy sauce paste
3 tbsp ground white pepper– toast in dry clean wok on low heat until aromatic, let cool
3 tbsp sugar— should cut down to 2 tbsp next time
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp five-spice powder
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp water

2 cups chopped green onions

Yeasted dough:
2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp yeast
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
1 tsp oil

Oil dough:
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup shortening or lard

1/2 cup roasted sesame seeds
1/3 cup brown sugar syrup (dissolve sugar in 1/3 cup water then cool)

Method:

  1. Combine two ground meat. Add in soy sauce paste, white pepper, sugar, salt, five-spice powder, sesame oil and water. Use chopsticks to stir in circular motion until all seasoning combined and the meat is “sticky”. Chill for 2-3 hours or overnight. Then divide into 10 portions.
  2. Prepare yeasted dough: Combine flour and salt. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup water then gradually pour into flour mixture. Add in remaining water if dough is too dry, a little at a time. When the dough forms a ball, drizzle in oil and hand knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Rest dough in a bowl, cover and let it rise until double in size. Knead a few times to push out air pockets. Divide into 10 portions and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Prepare oil dough: Combine shortening with flour and knead to form a dough. Divide into 10 portions.
  4. Roll out 1 piece of yeasted dough, wrap in 1 piece of oil dough tightly to seal. Roll out to a long oval shape, then roll up like a swiss roll. Turn 90° and roll out to a long oval shape and then roll up like a swiss roll again. Repeat with the remaining doughs. Rest the roll up dough for 15 minutes.
  5. Take 1 piece of dough, press index finger in the middle of the dough, then use thumb and middle finger to pinch the two long ends together so the dough is roughly round shape. Roll out to a thin circle. Wrap in 1 portion of ground pork and top with 2-3 tbsp of green onion. Pinch the edge of dough to seal tightly with seal side facing down. Repeat with the remaining doughs and filling.
  6. Dip the top of the wrapped pastries with brown sugar syrup then dip into roasted sesame seeds to cover the top. Place pastries on a greased baking pan and rest for 20-30 minutes. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 20-30 minutes. Open the oven door slightly after first 10 minutes so the pastries crisp better (thanks to Lily for this tip!). Cool on a rack.

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