Monday, May 9, 2016

Chinese Barbecued Pork in Puff Pastry (Char Siu Sou)

Most people know Char Siu as a dim sum staple in the form of steamed buns stuffed with Chinese barbecued pork in a savory oyster-hoisin sauce filling. Char Siu Sou is basically the same filling but in a flaky pastry dough that's baked. A tried and true shortcut (I didn't invent this) that circumvents the laborious process of making your own flaky pastry dough is using those puff pastry sheets that are readily available in the freezer section of your local supermarket. For this recipe, I used my own homemade Char Siu pork (link below), but feel free to sub with store bought. The unbaked filled pastries can be frozen and then reheated in a snap.

1 1/2 lbs. char siu pork, cut into 1/2" dice

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup minced red or yellow onion
1 shallot, minced

Seasoning Ingredients*:
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. rice wine
3 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tsp. Hoisin sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/8 tsp. white pepper
2 tbsp. cornstarch

1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced
1 green onion, minced

2 pkgs. (1.1 lbs. each) puff pastry, defrosted in the refrigerator
1 egg, beaten
White sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Combine all the seasoning ingredients* together in a bowl; set aside.

3. Heat 2 tbsp. vegetable oil in a wok or large saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the minced onions and shallot and saute until softened and starting to caramelize.

4. Add the seasoning ingredients and bring to a boil. Continue cooking until the sauce has thickened.

5. Add the chopped char siu pork, minced cilantro and green onion. Stir, turn off heat, and set aside. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

6. Remove the defrosted puff pastry sheets from their wrappers and cut each into 4 equal squares. Since each box has 2 pastry sheets, so you will end up with a total of 16 squares.

7. Fill each square with about 2 heaping tbsp. of the pork filling, then crimp the edges to seal. Cut off any excess dough on the trip-point edges. Use the tines of a fork to press along the edges of each piece of stuffed pastry.

8. Spray the surface of a cookie/baking sheet with a light layer of PAM or other veggie spray. Place the stuffed pastries about 1" apart on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of each with egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.

Chop the char siu pork into 1/2" dice (this one is home made, but feel free to use store-bought)

 Sauce ingredients: Hoisin sauce, white pepper, oyster sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine. Chopped char siu pork, cilantro & scallion, onion, and the sauce ingredients. 

 Saute the onion and shallots in 2 tbsp. oil until they just start to brown.

 Add the sauce ingredients.

 Bring to a boil and cook until sauce has thickened.

 Stir in the chopped pork, cilantro and scallion.

These frozen puff pastry sheets are readily available in most supermarkets.

 Cut each sheet into 4 equal square pieces.

 Top each sheet with about 2 tbsp. of the pork filling.

 Fold the edges over and trim off any excess dough.

Crimp and seal the edges using the tines of a fork.

 Spray a baking sheet with Pam or other vegetable oil spray. Place the pastries about 1" apart on the baking sheet.

 Pierce each pastry with a fork to let steam escape during baking.

 Brush the tops of each pastry with egg wash. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350F or until golden brown.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Kale Sauteed in Olive Oil with Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes & Red Wine Vinegar

A couple weeks ago, I had a small crop of Lacinato (aka "Tuscan") Kale growing in my veggie garden that was ready to harvest but I was conflicted on how to prep them in the kitchen. Salad, sautéed, or made into Kale chips? Hmmm...I asked Gil for his opinion but he was no help whatsoever because he declared that he, frankly and intransigently, HATED to eat kale (even though he's only probably tried it once in his lifetime). Thanks a lot, dude. Fortunately, my dilemma was solved when I happened upon a recipe in the New York Times for sautéed kale that seemed to fit the bill. The key is really to strip the leafy green part from the tough central stem of each leaf so that the cooked greens come out nice and tender. So, here's my adaptation of that recipe which Gil grudgingly tasted and admitted was "pretty more than ok."

1 large bunch kale, rinsed, stemmed and coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 to 1 cup water
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1. Heat 3-4 tbsp. of olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet or saute pan. Add the minced garlic and toss briefly until just softened (do not brown). 

2. Add the chopped kale to the pan. Toss to coat the leaves with the olive oil. Add the water (1/2 cup at first, then more if the water evaporates too quickly). Stir, then cover the pan and let the kale cook for 7-10 minutes until wilted but still green. 

3. Remove cover and season the kale with salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and the red wine vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

4. Remove from heat and serve as is or as a side dish to a meat or fish entree. 

 Lacinato/Tuscan Kale growing in one of our raised beds.

 Leaves are rinsed and ready to be stemmed.

 Coarsely chopped kale leaves and minced garlic.

 Minced garlic is sautéed in the olive oil over medium high heat until just soft.

 Add the kale, toss well, and then add the water (1/2 to 1 cup, as needed).

 Cover and cook 7-10 minutes or until the kale is wilted but still bright green.

 Remove cover and season with salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and red wine vinegar.

 Serve as is or...

as a side (in this case, with pan-fried blackened salmon filets).

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Shredded Pork with Sweet Bean Sauce (Jing Jiang Rou Si)

This traditional dish from Beijing consists of shredded pork marinated in soy, rice wine, sugar and cornstarch which is then sauteed in a sauce of sweet bean paste, sesame oil, and rice wine, then poured over a bed of thinly sliced scallion before serving. Great served with steamed white rice or wrapped in a "bing" (Chinese wheat flour pancake).

1 1/2 lbs. boneless pork chop, country rib meat, or shoulder, cut into shreds


2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. rice wine
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. soy sauce

5-6 scallions, thinly sliced along the bias


2 tbsp. sweet bean paste (Tian Mian Jiang)
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. rice wine
3 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. sugar

2 cups vegetable oil

1. Place the shredded pork in a bowl and combine with the marinade ingredients. Let sit for 30 minutes. 

2. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a measuring cup or bowl. Set aside.

3. Heat 2 cups of vegetable oil in a wok over high heat. Add the pork and stir with a slotted spoon for about 20-30 seconds until just cooked through. Remove the pork to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

4. Pour out all but 2-3 tbsp. of the oil in the pan. Add the sauce mixture, bring to a boil. Add the reserved pork back to the sauce and toss briefly to combine. 

5. Line a serving plate with the shredded scallion, then pour the pork mixture over. 

6. Serve with steamed white rice or as a filling for Chinese wheat flour pancakes (flour tortillas are a good substitute).

 These are boneless pork chops.

 Cut the pork into shreds or thin "matchsticks."

 Combine the pork with marinade ingredients and marinate for 30 minutes.

 For the sauce: sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine and sweet bean sauce or paste.

 Marinating pork, sauce mixture, and thinly shredded scallions.

 Blanch the pork in hot oil for 20-30 seconds. 

 Remove pork to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

 Remove all but 2-3 tbsp. of oil from the pan and add the sauce mixture. 

 Bring to a boil.

 Stir in the pork and toss to combine.

 Pour the pork onto a serving plate lined with thinly sliced scallions. Serve with steamed white rice or Chinese wheat flour pancakes.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Corned Beef and Cabbage (New England Boiled Dinner)

Corned Beef and Cabbage, a popular dish here in the U.S. on St. Patrick's Day, is not actually Irish but rather Irish-American in origin. New England Boiled Dinner, essentially the same dish, incorporates other veggies such as carrots, onions, potatoes, in addition to the cabbage. My fav veggies to use are cabbage, small (mini) Yukon or Klondike gold and/or red potatoes, carrots and several whole cloves of garlic. After experimenting with several methods of cooking this dish (slow cooker, braising in the oven, and just plain ol' boiling over the stove), I've found that the best way is low and slow (3 hours) in a Dutch oven or enameled cast iron pot on the cooktop. To reduce the sodium content of the broth so that you can actually drink it, I first cook the corned beef in water for 30 minutes, discard the water, then add fresh hot water to continue the cooking process. The beef comes out super tender and any leftovers can be used to make corned beef hash for breakfast the next day. Yum!

5 lbs. (use 2 pcs. if needed) corned beef with spice packets
6 cloves garlic
1 1/2 lbs. whole small Yukon gold, red, and/or purple potatoes
5 large or 10 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large dice
1 head cabbage, cored and cut into wedges

Optional Condiments:

Mustard (I like stone ground or Country Dijon)
Prepared horseradish

1. Rinse the corned beef, pat dry, and place into a large Dutch oven or enameled cast iron pot. 

2. Add water to the pan until the beef is covered by 1" of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. 

3. Drain water from pot and refill with fresh hot water until 1" over the meat. Add the garlic and spice packets. Bring back up to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 3 hours or until the meat is very tender.

4. Add the potatoes and carrots and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes. Add the cabbage wedges and cook another 10 minutes or until all the veggies are just tender. 

5. Remove the corned beef to a chopping board and cut just enough slices to serve (put the remaining brisket back into the broth to keep warm. Plate and serve in individual serving bowls or plates along with veggies and a ladle of broth. 

6. Serve with your fav mustard and/or prepared horseradish on the side. 

 Point Cut brisket is a bit more expensive than the flat cut, but I personally prefer the flat cut.

 This is the flat cut.

 Simmer the corned beef for 30 minutes.

 Drain the water.

 Add fresh hot water to the pot, to cover 1" over the corned beef. 
 Add the garlic and spice packets. Bring up to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 3 hours.

Our Albertson's market carries these mini Klondike potatoes (gold and madly of gold, red and purple potatoes) which are great for this recipe. If you can't find these, just use your fav combo of small potatoes.

After 3 hours of cooking, add the potatoes and diced carrots. Cook for 10-15 minutes.

Add the cabbage wedges and continue cooking another 10 minutes or until the veggies are just tender.

Slice the beef and plate. Serve with veggies and a ladle of the broth, if desired. Serve with mustard and/or prepared mustard on the side.