we’re off to hong kong and a few other asian countries!
i’m hoping to get my hands on a steamy hot bowl of congee the moment i land.
happy holidays to all!
i made sesame shrimp for thanksgiving and my mom even asked me for the recipe. you can prep them in advance and freeze them for up to a month. just drop them into some hot oil when your guests arrive and you’ll have some happy stomachs.
(serves 5 to 6 people family style; adapted from Cecilia Chang’s The Seventh Daughter)
||1 lb, shelled and deveined with tails attached
||1 ½ cups
||2 cups white sesame; ½ cup black sesame
||2 large ones
||½ cup, plus enough for deep frying
- Wash and dry shrimp. Using a knife, cut down the back of each shrimp, leaving the tail attached.
- Put 1 cup of flour in a bowl. Put sesame seeds in a separate bowl. Set aside.
- In a third bowl, mix together sesame oil, wine, eggs, cornstarch, baking soda, 1/2 cup of canola oil, water, and remaining 1/2 cup flour. This is your batter.
- Dip each piece of shrimp in the flour first, then the batter (from step 3), and finally the sesame.
- The coated shrimps at this point can either be frozen (by separating each layer of shrimp with parchment paper or plastic) until ready to fry, or fried immediately.
- To fry, heat a saucepan filled half-way with canola oil until it reached 360ºF. Put 1 shrimp in first to test and then work with a batch of 2 to 3 at a time. The shrimps are cooked when crispy and deep brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- I served the shrimp with a spicy mayo sauce.
making dashi-maki tamago is quite a bit like constructing crepe cakes. you work slowly with each paper thin layer. and with patience and a little bit of practice, you can end up with a plate of rolled up eggs that are quite dramatic to look at and fun to eat.
for thanksgiving, i made a great big plate of tamago rolls. i needed something that could be made in advance, served cold and easily stored until plating. you do need some special equipment — a rectangular frying pan with a curved lip on one end and a sushi mat. i bought one in my local sunrise mart for about US$12. i tried making tamago in a round frying pan, but it really doesn’t work as well.
i got my recipe for dashi-maki tamago from the venerable shizuo tsuji’s japanese cooking: a simple art. i found the resulting omelet to be a bit lacking in flavour (either that or my taste buds have become de-sensitized) and have adjusted the recipe by the addition of sugar.
(makes 2 rolls about 8 inches in length and 1.5 inches in diameter)
||8 large ones
|Dashi or chicken stock
||2/3 to ¾ cup
||6 sheets cut in half to approximately fit the rectangular tamago pan
||A few tbsps
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, dashi, salt, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce until just combined. The mixture should not be frothy. (Depending on the type of sugar used, you may want to dissolve the sugar in a little bit of warm broth/dashi).
- Divide mixture in half. One half will be used to make one rolled omelette.
- Heat the tamago pan over medium heat. Lightly wipe the pan with cloth moistened with oil. Test to see if pan is hot enough by putting a dab of egg mixture into the pan. It should sizzle.
- When the pan is ready, pour 1/3 of egg mixture (from the half portion that had been set aside) in the pan. Shift the pan around so that the egg mixture is spread evenly. Add a piece of nori on top of the uncooked egg. When the egg is about 70% cooked, use chopsticks or a spatula to roll the egg towards one end of the pan. Leave the egg in the pan.
- Pour in another 1/3 of the egg mixture. Briefly lift the 1st egg roll up to allow the new egg mixture underneath the cooked portion of the roll. Then add a piece of nori on top of the uncooked egg again. Repeat with final 1/3 of egg mixture.
- When the omelette roll is completed, remove it from the pan and wrap it in a bamboo sushi mat. Press the egg gently to shape it. A small amount of broth-like liquid should be secreted from the roll. If there’s no liquid, the omelette has been overcooked.
- Slice the roll into 2-3 inchs long cylinders to serve.
here’s the the pink cake i made for R’s birthday still on its work mat. it did make it to its final destination in one piece! then again, husband only had to carry it for a few blocks northwest, and it was nicely sheltered in a cardboard box. we were stopped a few times while walking there by curious bystanders. everyone likes to look at cake, i guess.
i forgot to take a picture of a cake vivisection. underneath the pink fondant wrapping, i had baked a matcha cake with a lychee cream filling dotted with raspberries and frosted with matcha italian meringue buttercream. i think the lychee cream and raspberry filling was everyone’s favorite at the party.
i took the opportunity to experiment a bit with the cake. i actually made the matcha cake using two different cake bases: i based one matcha cake off of rose levy berenbaum’s golden dream wedding cake recipe (from rose’s heavenly cakes) and the other off of dorie greenspan’s perfect party cake recipe (from her book baking from my home to yours). i adapted each cake to a matcha taste by leaving out the lemon flavoring where called for and substituting for a very generous tablespoon of matcha powder. in comparing the two cakes, i felt that dorie’s perfect party cake served as a better canvas for the matcha flavoring. it also had a much tighter crumb structure, which made it easier (for my butterfingers, at least) to work with than rose’s version. rose’s golden dream wedding cake incorporates almond flour in addition to regular flour, resulting in a richer and nuttier cake.
Pink Birthday Cake
(for a two tier cake consisting of a nine-inch bottom and a six-inch top)
- 1.5 x recipe fondant. Colour 1 recipe fondant with the scantest amount of red food colouring to turn it pink. Leave aside a 1/2 recipe of the fondant white to make the flowers. The flowers should be made at least 2 days in advance so that they have time to thoroughly dry. To make the flowers, roll the fondant out until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Stamp out the flowers using a cookie cutter and then dry at room temperature in half tubes so that they have some texture.
- 3 x recipe dorie’s perfect party cake baked in 2 nine-inch rounds and 2 six-inch rounds. Leave out the lemon flavorings and add in 1 generous tbsp of matcha powder
- 1 x recipe italian meringue butter cream. Leave out chocolate from recipe entirely and add in 2 tbsp of matcha powder at the very end of the process.
- 1 x recipe lychee cream. Leave out jackfruit and lemon zest. Use juice from 1/2 lemon only. Take 2 cans of lychees, drain them, and grind in a food processor until it becomes puree. Add lychee puree into step 2 of recipe.
- 1 pint raspberries
- Simple syrup. Boil 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup of water until well-dissolved.
- Level all cakes with a serrated knife to make sure you have a flat surface. (I made a 2 layer cake but you can also cut the cakes in half to make additional layers.)
- Dab a bit of buttercream on a nine-inch cardboard round. Place the first layer of cake on top of the cardboard. The buttercream will help preventing the cake from sliding around.
- Brush simple syrup on top of the cake.
- Pipe a ring of matcha buttercream around the edge of the cake.
- Spoon in about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lychee cream within the buttercream ring, using an offset spatula to make sure it is evenly spread. Scatter raspberries on top of the lychee cream.
- Brush simple syrup on the interior end of the second piece of cake and place on top lychee cream. (The end with the simple syrup should be touching the lychee cream.
- Frost (crumb coat) with buttercream, ensuring a clean smooth finish. After you’re done frosting the cakes, put them back into the refrigerator to let the buttercream set.
- When the buttercream has set, the cakes can be covered with fondant and then decorated to your heart’s delight. I covered mine with white fondant flowers, which I affixed to the cake using cookie icing.
- To tier the cakes, I used Rose’s method of pushing plastic straws into the bottom layer of the cake for structure. Wooden dowels work as well, especially for larger, heavier cakes.
my friend R’s birthday is coming up. it’s the X anniversary of either her 21st or 25th birthday. she’s hosting a PINK party. to help her celebrate the occasion, i decided to make her a two-tier pink fondant cake covered with one hundred white flowers.
now, i have a love-hate relationship with fondant: love the way it looks, hate the way it tastes. i don’t think i’ll ever learn to like eating fondant (it’s way too sweet). But, it really is an excellent substance for preserving the moistness of cake while you’re decorating, and it’s arguably easier to transport than a buttercream iced cake. so there you have it. girl who hates eating fondant, making fondant.
there are all sorts of places that sell ready-made fondant. it’s not cheap! a small little package enough to cover a 8 x 2 inch round cake goes for $7. plus, i don’t trust it. the stuff looks like its been sitting around for longer than a twinkie. even if you don’t eat fondant, do you really want shelf-stable fondant anywhere near your food?
fondant is easy enough to make. you just have to remember to make it a few days in advance. it needs time to relax and set. you also have to get your hands on some glycerine and corn syrup OR glucose. sur la table carries glycerine. you can find glucose at ny cake but corn syrup works just as well. i swear they used to carry it at my local whole foods but suddenly it just disappeared. i guess john mackey or someone close to his philosophy had a heart attack when they saw that very processed food product there. the rest of the ingredients in fondant are fairly common.
Colette’s Rolled Fondant
(enough to cover 1 nine-inch cake or 2 six-inch cakes)
|Glucose or Corn Syrup
||1 ½ tbsp
||900 g (you likely will not need all of it)
- Mix gelatin with cold water. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- While waiting for gelatin to dissolve, measure out the glucose and glycerine. The way to do so is to pour the glucose and glycerine into a piece of plastic wrap set a top of a bowl. You can then just pick up the plastic, cut open the bottom and squeeze the glucose out of the plastic wrap.
- Set the bowl of your stand mixer over a water bath, and add the gelatin into the bowl. Stir the gelatin around and allow it to warm up. Do not let it boil, as it will really smell. The gelatin is at the right temperature when it feels just warm to the touch.
- Add in the glucose and glycerine, and stir around.
- Take the bowl off the heat and fit it into the stand mixer with the paddle attachment on the lowest speed.
- Start adding in about 2/3 of the powdered sugar.
- The stand mixer will only get you so far. When you start noticing that the mixture isn’t getting any better combined, transfer the fondant onto a clean surface dusted with powdered sugar.
- Continue to knead the fondant by hand, slowly adding in more powdered sugar to reduce the stickiness of the fondant. Depending on the humidity of your area, you may not need all the powdered sugar. I usually use around 750g of powdered sugar, rather than all 900g.
- The fondant is ready when it’s soft to the touch and elastic, but not sticky. Wrap the fondant in plastic and let it rest at room temperature for 1-2 days before using.