Archive for the ‘Asian five spice’ Category

* Zongzi – Cantonese “Joong”

Posted on April 12th, 2009 by Linda. Filed under Appetizer, Asian five spice, Cantonese, Chinese, Course, Cuisine, Glutinuous Rice, Pork, Soy sauce, Street Foods.

Dragon Boat Festival / Tuen Ng Jit / Duan Wu Jie is coming up — the 5th day of the 5th month of the Lunar Calendar translating to May 28th, 2009 this year.  “Zongzi” is the pyramid shaped rice dumplings wrapped with bamboo leaves – frequently called “Chinese tamales” this side of the Pacific.  Some stories have it that the dragon boat crew threw the dumplings into the river to distract/ feed the monsters so that they can get on with the rowing.

It takes a lot of practice to get the dumplings to the right shape and compactness, hence I am posting these recipes early so that you will have time to practice in the run up to the festival.  I am also going to post under separate posts the different regional variation of the dumplings….starting with the Cantonese version.

Chef’s tip: Using 3 pieces of leaves to wrap the dumplings make it a little easier.  Attached is the zongzi leaf template you can use, complete with detailed step by step instructions on positioning the leaves and the origami moves you need.

Cantonese “Joong”


3 cups glutinous sweet rice, soaked, drained, add 1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoon oil
¾ cup peeled, mung beans, soaked, drained, add ½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon oil

12 oz pork belly/ pork butt, diced ½ inch cubes
1 Tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 Tablespoon canola oil

12 pieces fresh shiitake, stems removed, sliced finely
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

12 salted duck egg yolks, cut into 2
24 pieces of baby chestnut, or 12 large

72 pieces bamboo leaves
24 pieces yard-long kitchen twine

Preparing the ingredients the night before
1.    Wash rice.  Cover with 2 inches of water over the top of the rice, and soak overnight.
2.    Pick over mung beans, rinse, cover with 2 inches of water over the top & soak overnight.
3.    Soak bamboo leaves in hot water overnight.  Next morning, scrub with brush and rinse several times to remove dirt.  Leave leaves in water till ready to use.
Preparing the filling
4.    Dice pork, mix with seasoning.  Set aside.
5.    Sliced mushrooms, mix with seasoning. Set aside.
Prepare the ingredients mise en place
6.    Drain rice, add salt and oil.  Set aside.*
7.    Drain mung beans, add salt and oil.  Set aside.*
8.    Separate yolks and cut into two.  Set aside.
9.    Cut large chestnuts into two.  Set aside.
Wrapping the dumpling (see Zongzi Leaf Template or detailed instructions section below)
10.    Prepare bamboo cone.
11.    Place ½ tablespoon rice into the cone.  Make a slight well, then place 1 heaping tablespoon of pork, ½ tablespoon mushroom, ½ egg yolk, and half a chestnut.  Followed by 1 tablespoon mungbean and 1 tablespoon of rice.  Pack all ingredients tightly as you add them.  Flatten the top with a clean wet spoon.
12.    Complete wrapping and secure leaves with kitchen twine.
13.    Bring a pot of water to boil.  Add 1 tablespoon salt.  Gently place the dumplings in and boil for 1 1/2 – 2 hours over medium slow fire. Add water constantly to ensure the dumplings are always submerged in water.
14.    When cooked, remove the dumplings and hang to dry.
15.    Serve with sugar or chili sauce on the side, if you’d like.

Makes 24 pieces
* To speed cooking, steam rice for 20 minutes, drizzle with 1 ¼ cup of chicken stock, steam another 10 minutes.  Also steam mungbeans for 15 minutes.  Boil dumplings for 30-60 minutes.

Detailed Dumpling wrapping – Download the zongzi leaf template for the leaf stencil. The first and second page are set up to print on both sides.

A.    Take two bamboo leaves, overlap offsetting each other by ½ inch along the length of the leave. The stems to the left, and the tips to the right, with the 2nd leave closest to you.  (A1 reads above A2)

B.    At a point 1 inch from the top edge and 1 inch off the middle cross-section (Point B) fold leaves into a conical shape – there should be no opening at the tip of the cone.

C.    The tips should be parallel to the stems, and are lower than the stems. (C1 aligns with C2, with C2 on the upper fold)

Fill the cone, packing tightly as you fill.  Flatten the top with a clean wet spoon.

D.    Take a third piece of leave, insert the tip end in between the back fold on the right.  (D1 aligns with D2), and cup the dumpling, with ½ inch offset along the edge (both Ds are visible at the base)

E.    With the triangle facing you, fold the third leave at the base of your palm towards the filling (E)

F.    Next, fold the 3 pieces of tips on the right towards the filling (F)

G.    Then, fold the stems on the left side towards the filling (G)

H.    Lastly, fold down the remaining leaves towards you. (H) and wrap around the pyramid.

I.    Quickly loop a piece of kitchen twine around the dumpling (along the spine of the leaves) to secure leaves in place.  Wind twine around dumpling tightly.  If necessary add, a second piece of string along a different axis.

o    For savory dumplings, pack, wrap and tie tightly so that the filling will not separate from the rice.
o    For sweet dumplings, pack loosely, wrap and tie loosely so that the rice will have space to expand and it will be soft.
o    The longer you boil the dumpling, the softer it will become.  Boil a minimum of 30 minutes if you pre-steam some of the ingredients, otherwise, 1 ½ hours.  A perfect boil is about 2 ½ hours.

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* Yu Sang – Chinese New Year Raw Fish Salad Green

Posted on September 6th, 2008 by Linda. Filed under Appetizer, Asian five spice, Carrots, Cilantro, Daikon, Fish, Green onions, Malaysian, Peanuts, Pomelo, Salads.

When Chinese New Year comes around in Malaysia and Singapore, one cannot escape the symbolic dish of Yu Sang. When I was a corporate banker in Kuala Lumpur (in my previous life), we would take our customers out for Yu Sang lunch, and Yu Sang dinner during CNY. If it was served for breakfast, we would have taken them out for Yu Sang breakfast, too! When I got home, my mom would ask “We have to have Yu Sang!” Yu Sang, Yu Sang everywhere!

In the Cantonese dialect, “Yu Sang” is literally translated as raw fish. The words sound like the words for “abundance and growth”. This dish is also sometimes referred to as “Lo Hei” which sounds like “growth in business undertaking”. So when we do the “Yu Sang”, we are wishing our colleagues, friends and family, at the start of a new year, lots of prosperity, good luck and good business.

PS: Don’t forget the red packet!

Chef’s tip: To create the beautiful vegetable julienne spirals, use a Benriner Japanese spiral mandoline.


Special equipment needed A Japanese mandolin/ vegetable shredder

2 cups medium sized carrots
2 cups large white radish/ daikon
1 cup of small green papaya*
1 cup of spring onions
1 cup of cilantro leaves
½ cup pickled shallots*
½ cup of pickled ginger
1 pomelo or 1 grapefruit

½ lb fresh ahi tuna – sashimi grade
1 cup of Asian plum sauce* (Lee Kum Kee brand)
½ cup of grapeseed oil or other mild flavored oil
½ lime

½ cup of roasted peanuts, crushed
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon Asian 5 spice powder
6 pieces of wonton skin
1 cup of canola oil for frying
1 red envelope

Preparing the crunchy topping
1.    Cut wonton skin into juliennes.
2.    Heat oil in pan.  Fry wonton skin till golden brown.  Drain.
3.    Roast peanuts in an oven 350F till golden brown.  About 7 minutes.
4.    Coarsely crush with a mortar and pestle.
5.    Dry roast sesame seeds till fragrant.
Preparing the vegetables and fish
6.    Shred all vegetables into thin long strips using a Japanese mandolin.
7.    Cut scallions into 2 inch long juliennes, and then slice lengthwise thinly.  Soak in cold water 10  minutes, then drain.
8.    Slice pickled shallots and pickled ginger finely.  Remove tough stems from cilantro.
9.    Remove skin and membranes from pomelo to obtain the fruit sac.
10.    Arrange all vegetables on a large platter in a circle, taking care to alternate colors.
11.    Slice fish about ¼ X 2 x 1 inch and place in the middle.
12.    Just prior to serving, drizzle with oil and plum dressing
13.    Sprinkle on peanuts, sesame seeds, wonton skin crisps
14.    At the table, sprinkle Asian 5 spice (served out of the red envelope).
15.    Squeeze lime over fish.
16.    Toss for good luck

Serves: 6-8

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