My Japanese buddy introduced me to Japanese snack bars years ago.  He described that most Japanese men like to hang out at these snack bars after work, eat, smoke and get drunk. To me, it is similar to happy hour.  I have never been to any real Japanese snack bar till a few years ago when I was visiting Tokyo.  I loved it. Even though I don’t speak any Japanese, I managed to order some snacks, some wine and I had really great times there.  I’m here in Hong Kong visiting friends. My girlfriends introduced me to a Japanese snack bar at a residential area.  Everything was served on a stick.  The restaurant is small, but very cozy.  Who cares about fancy restaurant in a hotel or fancy decoration on a dish?  No frills, no gimmicks.  The food was plain simple, and delicious.  We ordered grilled chicken wings, beef tongue, eel, chicken liver, chicken skin, pork with asparagus wrap, and a lot more…  The chicken wings were just grilled to perfection. They were crispy on the skin, and they were simply flavored with a dash of salt.  That was superb!  The grilled eel was crispy on the skin and soft on the flesh… I could probably talk forever to describe every dish I had.  I had great times hanging out with friends, chatting about old times, snacking these delicious food, and drinking tons of sake.  Life is good. I can’t ask for more.

A small Japanese snack bar in Hong Kong
Chicken wings and eels on a stick
Sake

I feel a little bit better today that my cat survives his surgery. I hope he stays strong and will recover soon. I was in a much happier mood to try something new knowing that he is getting a bit better.  I searched on google for scallion pancake recipes. I made this once when I was in a cookery class in high school.  I remember this is one of those things that require a lot of work, and take a lot of skills too.  What was I thinking?  Why would I want to do all these work just for a piece of scallion pancake?  I don’t know.  Once in a while, I do weird things that I can’t explain myself.  Or may be I just needed something to take my mind off worrying about my cat.  I followed Ming Tsai’s recipe except it was too late when I realized I put in cold water instead of hot water.  I thought it can’t be that bad, it was just a small screw up.  Oh well… other than that, it was messy to make it too.  Plus, I wasn’t skillful enough.  It turned out more like a scallion nann bread than a thin scallion pancake.  LOL. Ya, I screwed up sometimes but it’s ok.  I’ll eat my consequence literally hahahha….I should have flatten it out more to make it thinner.  It is not a complete failure, but I certainly need more practice and need to follow the instruction 100% next time.

 

Roll the dough out, add scallion
Roll the dough out, add scallion
Roll it in a long swiss roll, then curl it like a spiral
Roll it in a long swiss roll, then curl it like a spiral
Flatten it out to make a 5 or 6 inches pancake
Flatten it out to make a 5 or 6 inches pancake
Pan fry the scallion pancakes
Pan fry the scallion pancakes
Scallion Pancakes
Scallion Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour, 2 cups
  • HOT water, 1 cup
  • Sesame oil, 1 Tbsp
  • Scallion, 5 or 6 stalks
  • Salt, a dash

Dipping sauce:

  • Soy sauce, ¼ cup
  • Chinese vinegar, ¼ cup
  • Ginger, minced, 1 tsp
  • Red pepper flakes, 1 tsp
  • Sugar, 1 tsp

 

Steps:

  1. Mix the dipping sauce in a small bowl.  Put it aside.
  2. Add a tablespoon of sesame oil in a bowl.  Put it aside.
  3. Cut scallions into small dices.  Add a pinch of salt.  Put it aside.
  4. Sieve flour in a large bowl.  Pour a little bit HOT water at a time to the flour and mix it with a spoon.  Continue to add water until the flour becomes a ball of dough.  You may not need the whole cup of water.
  5. Cover the dough with a piece of damp cloth and let it rest for 30 mins.
  6. Cut dough into 4 pieces. 
  7. Roll a piece of dough into a flat, thin pancake.  Brush some sesame oil on the pancake.  Add about a tablespoonful of scallion to the pancake, spread it out evenly.
  8. Then roll the pancake starting from one end of the dough to form like a swiss roll.  Then curl the roll to form like a spiral.  Then flatten it out with a rolling pin to form a 5 or 6 inches pancake.
  9. Use a non-stick frying pan. Spray some oil in it.  Use medium high heat.  Cook the pancake for about 2 minutes on one side.  Add a tablespoon of water to the pan. Then cover it for a minute. This will create some steam and help to cook the dough.  Flip the pancake over, and let it cook for another two or 3 minutes until it is golden brown or look crispy on the outside.  Serve it hot with the dipping sauce.
February 14, 2010

It’s not “damn tart”, it’s “dan tart”, Egg Tart.  “Dan” in Cantonese means egg.

I wasn”t crazy about Egg Tarts when I was young.  It was one of those food that I would eat it but I didn”t have any special craving for it.  One year my childhood best friend got a summer job in a bakery shop.  I visited her a few times that summer.  Every time I visited her, she was making egg tarts.  They smelled so good.  I saw her poured the liquid to the tart shells.  She said it was so easy to make egg tarts.  Of course, back then I had no clue how to cook.  Now I don”t live anywhere near any bakery that serves egg tarts.  And I do crave egg tarts once in a while, I don’t know why.   I probably crave the smell of it more than the taste.  Now I would order it whenever I have dim sum in a Chinese restaurant.  One time, I had lunch with my sister and a bunch of friends at a dim sum place.  We ordered egg tarts as desserts.  The waiter told us that their egg tarts were very special.  My sister asked him “How special?”  He said, “especially small”  What a surprising and stupid answer!  We all laughed.

Soft Egg Tart Filling
Soft Egg Tart Filling
Chinese Egg Tart
Chinese Egg Tart

Ingredients: (make 12-15)

Dough:

  • Confectioners” sugar, 1 cup
  • All-purpose flour, 3 cup
  • Butter, 1 cup
  • Egg, 1 beaten

Filling:

  • Sugar, 2/3 cup
  • Water 1.5 cups
  • Eggs, 5 beaten
  • Vanilla extract, a dash
  • Evaporated milk or half and half, 1 cup

Steps:

  1. In a  mixing bowl, add confectioners” sugar, flour, and butter.  Use a fork or two knives to cut the butter into small crumbs.  Mix well with the flour mixture. If you have one of those fancy gadget that can cut the butter into small crumbs, use that instead of a fork or knives.
  2. Add egg to the mixture.  Mix well and form a dough.   The dough should be moist.  If it is too dry, you can add some more butter.  If  it is too moist, add some more flour.  Knead the dough a few times.  Form a big ball.
  3. Shape dough into 1.5 inches balls.  Press it flat with a rolling pin.  Lay it on a tart mold/paper shell.  Make sure if covers the whole mold, ie bottom and side.  Finsih the rest of the molds.  Put them aside.
  4. To make the filling, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan.  Use low heat, cook until the sugar is dissolved.  Turn off the heat.  Let it cool (this step is important!).
  5. Wait till the sugar mixture is cool.  Beat the eggs in a bowl.  Strain it through a sieve to remove lumps. Add the egg into the sugar mixture.  Mix well.  Add evaporated milk and a dash of vanilla.   You can strain the whole mixture through a sieve the second time to make sure the mxiture has no lumps.
  6. Pour the mixture to the shells.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400F.  Bake for 25-30 minutes in a preheated oven, or until they turn golden brown.

I woke up early this morning. I feel so good.  I usually sleep till noon on a weekend.  Just to be able to feel the sunlight in the morning is wonderful.  I want to write down the new appetitizer that I just learned from my coworker the other day.  We had a Chinese pot luck lucheon a few days ago.  Someone made Chinese Tea Eggs.  I heard about this dish a long time ago.  I know this is one of the popular snack or street food in China but I never got a chance to try it.  I told my coworkers that I have never tried this dish before. Guess what?  Every one was giving me a hard time saying that I”m not Chinese.  Some of my friends teased me in other ocassions that I”m imitation Chinky.  I don”t care!  Well, there are so many traditional Chinese dishes that I have not tried.  So for now, I have more things to look forward in my life.  See… I am thinking positive!  Could be the power of the morning sunlight

 

Chinese Tea Eggs
Chinese Tea Eggs

 

Pretty Chinese Tea Eggs
Pretty Chinese Tea Egg
Try Chinese Tea Egg for a Healthy Snack
Try Chinese Tea Egg for a Healthy Snack

Ingredients:

  • Uncooked Eggs, 1 dozen
  • Soy Sauce, 1 cup
  • Salt, 2 tsp
  • Sugar, 1 tsp
  • Star Anise, 5 pieces
  • Chinese Black Tea leaves- 2 Tbsp or 2 tea bags.  Actually any black tea would do.  If you don”t have Chinese tea, use English Breakfast or Orange Pekoe tea.  Does not need anything fancy. 

Steps:

  1. Use a saucepan, put the uncooked eggs in one layer in the pot.  Add cold water to the pot to cover the eggs, like 2 inches high.
  2. Use medium heat.  Bring the water to a boil.  Let it boil for 1 minute. Turn off the heat.  Remove the pot from the heat.  Put a lid on the pot, cover it and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the eggs from the pot.  Run them under cold running water, or iced water.  Keep the pot of the water for later use.
  4. Gently crack the shell of each egg all over on a plate.  Do not remove the shell. Put the eggs aside.
  5. Add the Chinese tea, soy sauce, salt, sugar and star anise to the water in the pot.  Use medium heat.  Bring it to a boil.
  6. Add the eggs back to the pot.  Make sure the water covers the eggs.  Add more water if needed to cover the eggs. 

Use medium low heat, let the eggs simmers for 3 minutes or until the water boils again. Turn off the heat.  Cover with a lid. Let the eggs marinate in the sauce for 5 or 6 hours. If you can let them sit over night, that would be even better.

Finally the weekend is here. Thank God!  I have time to catch up on my blog. It was such as long week. I started a new job. I was busy meeting up with my new boss, and the people that I needed to talk to for my job transfer.  I also organized an Asian Pot luck lucheon.  Originally, I planned to make some Chinese Chicken Fried Rice or Fried Soy Sauce Noodles.  But I was really running out of time. So I made some pan friend chicken dumplings instead.  Of course, I did not make the dumplings from scratch. I got 3 bags of Chinese Chicken Dumplings from Trader Joe. They are like $3 a bag, and they are pretty decent dumplings.  I made a dumpling sauce with it. It turned out great. Everyone loved it.

Lay Dumplings In One Layer in Pan
Lay Dumplings In One Layer in Pan
Use Aluminum Foil as a Lid
Use Aluminum Foil as a Lid
Pan Fried Dumplings for Pot Luck Party
Pan Fried Dumplings for Pot Luck Party

Ingredients:

  • Frozen chinese dumplings, 1 bag. I used the Trader Joe Chicken Dumplings here. They have thin skins and cook fast.
  • Water, 1.25 cups

Dumpling sauce:

  • Soy Sauce, 2 Tbsp
  • White Vinegar, 2 Tbsp
  • Oyster sauce, 1 Tbsp
  • Worchestershire sauce, 1 tsp
  • Sugar, 1 tsp
  • Water, 2 Tbsp
  • Sesame oil, two drops (optional)

Steps:

  1. Use a large frying pan. Spray non-stick cooking oil to fully cover the surface of the pan.
  2. Lay frozen dumplings flat side down in one layer onto the pan.  Make sure they don””t overlap with each other. NO NEED TO DEFROST the dumplings ahead of time.
  3. Use high heat. Let the dumplings cooked for 2 minutes to make the skin crisp.  DO NOT touch/flap them.
  4. Pour 1.25 cups of water to the pan.  If the dumplings have thicker skins, pour 1.5 cups of water instead.
  5. Cover the pan with a lid, or a piece of aluminum foil.  Let it cooked for 7-8 minutes with high heat or until the water dries up.  The water will give a steamming effect to the dumplings.
  6. Turn off the heat when the water dries up.  Let it sit for 1 minute with the lid on.  Remove the dumplings from the pan.
  7. To make dumpling sauce, put all the sauce ingredients in a small serving bowl.  Mix it well.  Optionally, you can add sesame oil, chopped garlic and ginger to the sauce to make it fancy.