T.Pot China Bistro

I was looking for a place for some good dim sum when a friend recommended T.Pot. I was a bit skeptical because of the rating on Urbanspoon, but sometimes you just trust the source. Dim sum recommended; dinner not so much. We made a reservation; the lineup was out the door. We waited about 15 minutes for a table. Which would have been longer if we didn’t have one. It’s one of those places where speaking a little bit of the language goes a long way.

The food came out hot and in a reasonable amount of time considering that the restaurant was packed. It was at times difficult to flag down a server. We asked for so many chili sauce refills that we should have asked for the bottle.

The char sui so (BBQ pork puff pastry) was good. I also liked the ja leung (fried dough wrapped in rice crepe) that came with satay, hoisin and soy sauces. The har gow (shrimp dumpling) and fried shrimp pastries were tasty.

A+ for the food, expect Chinese style service, which is hurried, loud and at times not good.

L-R: Shrimp pastry, eggplant stuffed with shrimp, fried donut rolled in rice crepe, snow pea shoots in pork broth, Chui Chow fried rice
L-R: Shrimp pastry, eggplant stuffed with shrimp, fried donut rolled in rice crepe, snow pea shoots in pork broth, Chui Chow fried rice

 

T.Pot China Bistro on Urbanspoon

St Laurent Cake House

Going to Chinatown is a bit out of my way, but I discovered that one of my coworkers is a co-owner of St Laurent. The store had changed ownership in the last couple of years. In the past, I remember fondly that their mango cakes were quite good. I placed an order for my friends’ farewell party. They are moving to California. The cake was freshly made; the classic Chinese style fruit and cream cake. The cake was soft and light, filled with a sweetened whipped cream filling with chunks of mango. Just right, but not overly sweet. It was topped with mango slices and strawberries.  It reminds me of a similar style cake my Mom used to make for our birthdays. I also ordered a couple of their egg tarts which were tasty. I would say that they are a “Cake House” as their cakes are quite good.

Mango cream cake
Mango cream cake
Egg tart
Egg tart

St Laurent Cake House on Urbanspoon

Century Egg Pastry

Sometimes I just want to make something that I haven’t had in a really long time.  When we took our summer trips to Toronto in my younger days, we always went to the Chinese bakeries. We always ordered the same things, a box full of salty and one of sweet. The salty included curry beef buns, BBQ pork buns, chicken buns and the occasional chicken pot pie. The sweet box was my favorite. Cocktail buns, pineapple buns, coconut tarts, egg tarts, wife cake, almond cookies and my Dad’s favorite, century egg pastry, or pai dan so. I think I was the only kid that ate it.

I haven’t been able to find these in Calgary, but then I haven’t looked really hard. What I can’t find, I make at home.

This version is not the traditional one that I’ve seen. It is usually made with lotus seed paste but I was too lazy to go to T&T. It tastes just as good with red bean paste. I need to improve my sweetcrust pastry technique, though.

Recipe courtesy of Angie’s Recipes.

Steaming the eggs with Chinese cooking wine
Steaming the eggs with Chinese cooking wine
Sweetcrust dough
Sweetcrust dough

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Homestyle Cantonese Dinner

It’s been a long time since I have cooked homestyle Cantonese. What I mean by that is food that is not found in Chinese restaurants. Food my Mom made for dinner at home.

Three Kinds of Steamed Egg with Pork
(xiam dan jing che yok)

4-6        eggs, reserve ½ egg shell
1            *pickled or salted duck egg (ham dan)
1            century duck egg (preserved egg)
1/2 lb    ground pork
1 diced  green onion

Vegetable oil, ground pepper, soy salt, soy sauce and water

Saute ground pork, ground pepper, and salt with oil until almost cooked through. Chop preserved duck egg and salted duck egg. Beat regular eggs; try 4 first. Also beat in pickled egg if using. Add ½ egg shell of water for each regular egg (3T). Mix the eggs and water together.
Put ground pork in 9” pie plate, add chopped eggs and egg mixture. Boil water, steam for 10 minutes in a suitable pot. Halfway through steaming sprinkle green onion on top. Drizzle with soy sauce before serving. Serve with steamed rice.

*Some salted eggs looked like a medium boiled egg with orange yolk. Some pickled duck eggs have a raw white with orange liquid yolk.

Ingredients for steamed egg with pork
Ingredients for steamed egg with pork
Steamed egg with pork
Steamed egg with pork

The recipe for a jazzed up version of steamed pork (yuk beng) was courtesy of Eat Your Heart Out. The traditional version uses steamed pork and mushroom only.

Ingredients for steamed pork
Ingredients for steamed pork
Steamed pork
Steamed pork
Steamed pork
Steamed pork

To steam the dishes, I used a 10″ pie plate, a plate lifter, steaming rack and canning pot. It works really well, but for a plate of this size, a larger canner is needed. The plate lifter and steaming rack can be bought at Asian food stores or Asian restaurant supply stores.

Steaming equipment
Steaming equipment

Chicken Ginger

2 lbs                     chicken breast, skinless, boneless, sliced
4 cloves               minced garlic
1, 5” piece           ginger, peeled and julienned
8                           dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked and sliced
3 tbs                     oyster sauce
3 tbs                     soy sauce
¼ C                      Chinese cooking wine
2 tbs                     corn starch
2 tbs                     vegetable oil
black pepper
sesame oil
water

Marinate chicken with oyster sauce, soy sauce, wine, corn starch and black pepper to taste. Add enough water to make a sauce. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. When ready to cook, brown garlic in vegetable oil in a frying pan. Add the chicken. Cook the chicken until some pink remains. Add the mushrooms and ginger. Add more water if required to thin the sauce. Cook until chicken is no longer pink. Serve with sesame oil drizzled on top, and with rice.

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Steamed pork, stir fried pea shoots and micro greens, Chinese chicken ginger, rice

For dessert, my dinner guests brought over some homemade strawberry meringue tarts. They were absolutely delicious! It’s not Chinese, but it is dessert.

Strawberry meringue
Strawberry meringue

Curry Ramen Noodle Soup

I finally have enough ingredients to make a recent favorite of mine, curry ramen noodle soup. I made some Chinese style char siu and medium boiled egg.  I also made some pork broth. Originally I wanted to make tonkotsu broth, but I didn’t have the patience to clean the pork bones and boil the broth for eight hours. So I settled for pork broth.

To make the soup for the ramen, I used a piece of the Japanese style Glico curry. I know; next time I will try to make the curry roux from scratch. I dissolved the block into the broth. Also sliced some nori and green onion.

To my surprise, the ramen developed better flavour sitting in the fridge overnight before cooking. It actually tasted like ramen this time.

Pork Broth

2 lbs pork bones with some meat on
3 dried Chinese mushrooms
1 large onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic
several small chunks of ginger
handful of dried wakame seaweed
handful of dried black fungus

Simmer the pork bones and mushrooms in a large pot of water for 2 hours. Transfer to a 6-7 quart slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients and top up with water. Cook on low for 8 hours or high on 4. The longer the better. Cool and strain. Reserve bones with pork for eating.

Credits to Joanne for helping me with the cooking, taste test and the photos.

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Homemade Ramen Noodles

I’ve always loved ramen noodles. This was born from my days in elementary school when I would run home for lunch to have Mom serve me gong jai mein, the Doll brand of instant noodles. My tastes are now more refined and I prefer non instant forms of ramen.

I had the urge to make these noodles for myself. I put to good use the pasta roller attachment that I got for Christmas. Also the bottle of Koonchun kansui that has been sitting in my cupboard since summer.

Makes enough noodles for 4 bowls

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon Koon Chun Potassium Carbonate & Sodium Bi-Carbonate (kansui)

Batch 1:

Needed an additional 2/3 C water for dough to form together, as it was so dry that it crumbled. Also added another ½ tsp of Kansui but it didn’t turn yellow. I live at 3500 ft. I suspect that may have something to do with it. The noodles had some of the expected chewiness, but still were more like spaghetti than ramen. Next time, more Kansui. The noodles were so dry that I didn’t need any additional flour to prevent sticking.

Batch 2:

Used 1.5 C of water to 3 tsp kansui. Also increased flour to 3 cups. The dough colour was a little more yellow than the last batch.  I rolled the sheet on 3, but set the last pass to 4 before using the spaghetti cutter. The noodles were a little thinner, I think I could set the sheet to 5 next time. The noodles were also a little more curly. The taste was more like ramen than the last batch, but it could still use some improvement. I needed to douse the pasta sheet with flour before rolling as this batch was more moist than the last. Also, because of the amount of water, the dough separated into chunks rather than crumbs in the mixing phase. Good thing I have a 800W mixer, my Kitchenaid would not stand a chance with this dough. But it’s pretty good for pasta making.

I cooked the ramen the next day after leaving it in the fridge overnight. The taste actually improved with resting. The consistency is still a bit firm, although it might have been due to under cooking.

I’ll leave this as an unfinished post, as I plan to make more batches and tweak the recipe. Half the fun, is playing with the ingredients.

I followed the directions from this blog.

Using the pasta sheet cutter
Using the pasta sheet cutter
Using the spaghetti cutter
Using the spaghetti cutter
First batch
First batch
One bowl would be two servings of the small noodle or one of the large
One bowl would be two servings of the small noodle or one of the large
Cooked lo mein style. Plan to refrigerate for tomorrow so soup not an option.
Cooked lo mein style. Plan to refrigerate for tomorrow so soup not an option.

Dragon King Restaurant

I often tell it like it is. We stopped by here for dim sum as it looked interesting driving by. Before getting along, here is a disclaimer:

I like to review restaurants fairly. In this case, my aunt knows the male owner.  I have also been warned about the tour buses. I’m also not from Kelowna.

It is Thanksgiving, so I did not expect them to be open. They were so I made a reservation. The place was nearly empty when we arrived. My Aunt said they were expecting a tour bus in an hour. The service was good. We ordered dim sum. My Aunt warned me that it was from frozen.  Also that the owner cooks according to their preference when they are there. No additional salt, no MSG.

Everything was hot and arrived quickly.  The har gow (shrimp dumplings), sui mai (pork dumplings), law mai kai (sticky rice), char sui bao (bbq pork bun), kean yong bao (lotus seed paste bun) all tasted fresh. The broccoli with garlic sauce was freshly made. The chicken and corn soup tasted as I would expect.

We had to get our server’s attention to pay the bill, and that was after the tour arrived.

The food was good and I have no complaints about the service. It is three hours after my meal and I am not drinking glasses of water. That is good.

So if you avoid the tour bus rush, and can speak Cantonese,  it will help.

Dragon King Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Green Onion Pancakes

In my CSA delivery this week, I was the proud recipient of a bunch of super sized green onions. These are not your grocery store variety; these are mutant weeds. What to do, what to do…

This is the first batch of green onion pancakes. I still have half the bundle left. I think I need to more finely chop my green onions, as they look more like dumplings. But still tasty. 葱油饼 Chong yao beng, in Cantonese. This is pretty close to the recipe I used.

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South Silk Road

When it comes to Chinese food, I have my list of usual suspects: Cantonese, Hong Kong style cafe and occasionally Westernized. I’ve tried a bit of Szechuan and it’s a little too spicy.  It was interesting to find something different in Yunnan food.  Yunnan cuisine takes strong influence from  Szechuan and a host of other cuisines. There is liberal use of chillies, mushrooms, fungus and flavorful meats.

I’ve not had Chinese food like this anywhere. One of my favorites was the deep fried taro roll with black sesame seeds. I suspect it might have been a dessert but we were served it as an appetizer. A few of our dishes were liberally laced with fresh and dried chillies, but they were easy to avoid.  I enjoyed the wood ear fungus salad “mok yee”.  The mushrooms and dried vegetable in the dry beef dish were nicely spiced. The twice cooked pork had some fatty roasted pork, some lean slices and tofu. There was also squash that was fried tempura style which was good. We were all full but just had to try the dessert, the pineapple rice. It was served warm. That too, was really good.

We arrived early so there weren’t too many people. Service was very attentive and we chatted with the chef owner. As the evening progressed, the service slowed a little but they were nice enough to flag us down when we forgot our leftovers.

There is so much more to try so I am definitely returning.

Deep fried toasted taro roll
Deep fried toasted taro roll
Dai style tree mushroom and bamboo salad
Dai style tree mushroom and bamboo salad
Yunnan style dried beef
Yunnan style dried beef
Dali chicken
Dali chicken
Fried pumpkin
Fried pumpkin
Yunnan style twice cooked pork
Yunnan style twice cooked pork
Steamed rice with honey and coconut in pineapple
Steamed rice with honey and coconut in pineapple

South Silk Road on Urbanspoon