Pork Buns

I’ve had cravings lately. From boiled pork belly to garlic snapper, I don’t know why. I promise, I am not preggo. Just hungry.

Today was the day of pork belly. In addition to the fact that we had bacon for breakfast, it was the day to make some pork buns. Sweet, tangy, and oozing with pork fat, these buns are a great project for a lazy Sunday. Well, I guess that’s not so lazy then. I’ve said this time and time again. Pork belly is underrated. Completely. It is an incredible piece of pork that many Americans neglect to use. I’ll be honest, it’s not ALWAYS found in markets but it DOES exist. If I can find it here in Pensacola, then it can definitely be found anywhere you are.

It’s an amazing piece of pork that can be beautifully layered with meat and fat. When it’s slowly cooked…dear god, it is literally like butter.

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It has also gotten really warm in Florida. It’s February. I repeat, it’s February and it was almost 75 degrees today. People look at me crazy here when I say I hate the sun. We headed to the beach with the dog and the end results are here:

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A tired, sleepy, and sore puppy.

So this recipe can definitely be tweaked. I bought char-siu sauce from our local asian market. To be quite frank, I think I like plain hoisin sauce better. This char-siu sauce (which is used for that glowing red pork you see hanging in the windows of Chinese restaurants) is a bit too salty for me. But of course, to each their own.

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Oh god. Isn’t this beautiful?

OH GOD:

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Now the dough is a pain in the ass. Thankfully, I have my bread maker that kneads and rises my dough for me so I really shouldn’t complain. But it’s not really the kneading part that gets me angry. It’s the assembly of the bun itself that I could not do. I watched one video after the other, trying to figure out how these people so gracefully pleated their buns, while mine looked like baby diapers filled with poo. Practice, I suppose, would make perfect. But my patience ran out. Quickly.

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If you have access to a nice, big slab of pork belly, make these buns!

Time: 1.5 hours
Ingredients:

Filling:
1.5 lb pork belly
Char-siu sauce

Dough:
2 cups flour
1 cup hot water
2 tablespoon shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon honey

1. Preheat your oven to 450. (P.S. start your dough [step 8] while your pork is roasting)
2. Clean off your pork belly. I’ve said this before, but I always rinse my pork. It’s a dirty animal, I don’t know how clean it was when it was cut, so therefore, it must be rinsed!
3. Lay out a big piece of foil then lay a large piece of parchment paper on top.
4. Place your pork in the center and brush on the char-siu sauce.
5. Tightly close the pork in with the foil and bake in the oven for about 1 hour.
6. After the hour is up, open up your pork belly surprise and bake for about 15 more minutes. Remove and allow it to cool.
7. Once cooled, cut your pork belly into big slices and place into a food processor. Roughly pulse the meat until it is ground up into a chunky consistency. Place to the side.
8. In a small bowl, combine your hot water, yeast, salt, and honey and allow it to proof.
9. In a large bowl, combine your flour and shortening. Add in your yeast mixture (when it is foamy).
10. Knead for about 10 minutes. Add more flour if needed. I added about 1/4 cup of flour.
11. Set in a large bowl and cover. Place in a warm place and allow to rise for about 1 hour.
12. Place your dough on a floured surface and cut into golf ball pieces.
13. Youtube how to assemble your buns. I would love to tell you how to do this step, but to be honest…mine looked terrible. TERRIBLE.
14. When ready, place your buns on top of small squares of parchment paper and steam for about 5-7 minutes, or until the dough is cooked.
15. Enjoy!

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Korean Style Sliders

Holy poopsticks! This one’s a winner. Seriously. Big time. No joke. Good lord.

We originally planned on having fish tonight for dinner. But as we were meandering about town with the dog, I began blabbing, as per the usual, about meal ideas. I typically ask my husband repeatedly throughout the day what we should eat for dinner. We’re both not quite sure why I ask him because no matter what, I end up deciding in the end. Usually the decision has nothing to do what we initially planned on eating but it always turns out to be good. I guess even though I ask him what we should eat, I’m pretty much having a conversation to myself all day about it.

As we walked under the underpass, the idea came to fruition: a Korean inspired burger. How had I not thought of this before? Well, I probably did but knowing my brain, I go through hundreds of ideas throughout the day, continuously forgetting about one after the other.

Radish. Chili paste. Soy sauce. These were just a few of the things that popped into my head on what to add to the burger. The patty recipe was already done; I ripped it off my dad’s recipe for these AMAZING beef patties he makes. After we had them during our trip up to New Jersey this past Christmas, my husband repeatedly asked if I could make them. Did I oblige right away? No. Should I have? Maybe. Am I glad I finally made them? Yes.

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There’s a ton of topping ideas I can think of at the moment: garlic aioli, kimchi, green onions, some type of sesame oil infused sauce, etc. This is an awesome way to totally customize the food per the diner. Today, I decided to make a garlic, mayo, ketchup, chili paste mixture. It was seriously good. BIG TIP: obviously, raw garlic is pretty potent and unless you don’t plan on speaking for several hours after dinner, you need a way to tone it down. I didn’t want to cook the garlic, mostly because I felt lazy. But I thought I had heard about “roasting” garlic in the microwave so I tried it. It initially sounded like WWII in the microwave but it actually worked! Take a few cloves of garlic (skinned), cut onto pieces, wrap it up in a paper towel and zap it for about 20 seconds at a time until it’s soft. Weird technique, but it works. Dice up the garlic, mix with some mayo, ketchup, and chili paste. It’s pretty damn good.

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Before I go onto the recipe, let me address one last thing: grind your own beef. Seriously. I’ve never liked buying ground beef. It’s chewy, it’s rubbery, it’s watery, and overall, it’s just gross. Well, I’m going to guess you’re probably thinking, “I don’t have a meat grinder, idiot.” Well, ya don’t need one, idiot. All you need is a food processor. Take some lean meat (I prefer top round) and grind away. You’ll be surprised how much better the beef will taste when you grind it up at home.

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Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients:
1 pound lean beef, ground up with food processor
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
4-5 stalks green onion
1 egg
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
ground pepper

1. Grind up your beef, onion, and garlic using a food processor. Place into a big bowl.

2. Dice your green onions and add to the bowl.

3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly by hand.

4. Cook/grill your burger to your liking.

5. Assemble on your bun with toppings of your choice.

 

Toppings that I used:
(1) Pickled radish (see: https://kimchiandkogi.com/2014/07/09/daikon-radish-salad/)
(2) Ketchup and sriracha combo
(3) Grilled onion
(4) Lettuce

Toppings I can also suggest:
(1) Hoisin sauce
(2) Kimchi
(3) Fried egg
(4) Grilled scallions

Enjoy!

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Japanese Ramen

Or…at least my take on it. You see, when we were in NYC this past Christmas break, we ate. And ate. And ate. From Doughnut Plant to Rice to Riches to Chinatown Dim Sum, we ate our butts off. But the most memorable was Ippudo, a Japanese ramen restaurant right outside St. Mark’s street, known for its tonkotsu ramen that has a creamy, rich broth.

I won’t lie. I didn’t think much of it when my brother said we were going to get this for dinner. I know I claim myself to be a foodie, but I had never been to a ramen restaurant before. All I thought of ramen when I heard the word was a 25 cent packet that every college student ate at some point. That is probably the most ignorant thing I have written on this blog so far. Ok, well let me be clear. I KNEW there were these ramen restaurants in existence and obviously, they didn’t serve noodles that were flavored with a little silver packet with choices of shrimp, chicken, or beef. But what I didn’t know was the amazing ingredients in a nice bowl of ramen. To be fair, most places I’ve lived didn’t have many Japanese restaurants, let alone a ramen restaurant.

The ramen we got at Ippudo was mindblowing. It was the strangest but most addicting broth I had ever consumed. It was a milky looking broth complemented with pieces of braised pork, soft boiled egg, scallions, and most importantly, a dark, mysterious oil.

At first, I couldn’t tell why this dark oil made my bowl of ramen taste so much better than my dad’s, which was sans the dark oil. But, over time as I stuffed my already full face/stomach, I figured it out: burnt garlic. Apparently it’s called “mayu” and it is essential to this dish. The burnt (literally) garlic has a strange, slightly bitter, flavor that works great with the mild broth.

In addition to the mayu, this recipe is topped off with crushed browned garlic. If I could, I would just eat this by the bowl.

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As I researched for a ramen recipe to adapt from, I struggled a bit. Most of the pictures showed a clear chicken or pork broth. Not what I was looking for. I needed that milky, brownish looking broth.

Through some more research, I found that the milky-ness of the broth is achieved through a lot of work. Which makes sense, since those rich, flavorful broths aren’t created within minutes. Bones, collagen, hours of boiling, charred onions…so on and so forth. Just too much work for my Sunday. So through even more Google-izing, I discovered the use of soy milk in broths. It makes sense. It’s somewhat creamy and doesn’t have a flavor that overpowers everything else. I took some tips from recipes and added my own changes (as usual) and created something incredibly similar to what I had in NYC. But PLEASE make sure you purchase unsweetened, unflavored soy milk. Even the packages marked “Plain” contain sugar. So unless you want a sweet broth…read carefully.

Oh, need I say a reminder for the pork belly portion of this recipe? It’s delicious. It’s like pork candy. This cut is, unfortunately, not too common in American supermarkets. Your best bet is a Korean market. Look for a nice white fat layering. No yellow. EVER. And make sure there is a good alternating pattern of fat and flesh. You don’t want a huge, thick layer of fat and a minutia of flesh. Think of a good cut of bacon.

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So, is this a difficult recipe? No…at least not for a semi-experienced cook. It does require a bit of time though and a decent attention span. More so for the braising of the pork belly because that takes at least 2 hours and can burn easily. Add other ingredients to your liking, such as sprouts and onions. I added a LOT of scallions and while they tasted great, I’m sure the aftermath of scallion-breath wasn’t pleasing to those around me.

FYI make sure to soft boil the egg. I clearly completely forgot to take my eggs off the stove in time…but a full proof way to get soft boiled eggs is to simply place your eggs in a pot of water, set it on max. high and let it come to a boil for 10.5 minutes. Done.

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If you’ve got the time, take on this culinary challenge and have yourself a nice bowl of ramen.

Time: 3.5 hours
Serves about 3 people
Ingredients:

Toasted Garlic Powder

1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled and diced
1/2 cup canola oil

Burnt Garlic Oil

1 tablespoon of the toasted garlic (from above), crushed into a fine powder
oil leftover from toasting the garlic
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Braised Pork Belly
1 pound pork belly, cleaned
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
8 large cloves of garlic
1.5-2 cups water

Broth
Reserved liquid from braising pork belly
1/2 onion, charred
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups soy milk (unsweetened, unflavored)
1 teaspoon bonito dashi
salt
Ramen noodles

PORK BELLY

1. In a pot that is just big enough to fit your pork, heat up the pot at medium high heat.
2. Sear your pork belly on all sides.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
4. Allow this to boil for at least 2 hours over low heat. Make sure to keep an eye on it and flip around the pork belly as it simmers. (I had to add a bit of water near the end when a lot of the water had evaporated)
5. Remove from the pot and allow to cool. Refrigerate once cooled.

GARLIC OIL AND SUCH

1. In a small pot, add your canola oil and diced garlic and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
2. DO NOT walk away at any point. Garlic can burn very quickly. Allow your garlic (while stirring occasionally) to simmer (while occasionally stirring) until it becomes a nice golden brown. It’ll get sticky but just be patient.
3. Strain the oil from the garlic and set your golden garlic onto a paper towel to cool off and drain. Return the oil to the pot.
4. Once your golden garlic has cooled, crush into a crumble using a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one, I would use a ziploc bag and rolling pin.
5. Take about 1 tablespoon of the crushed garlic and make into an even finer powder. Return this to the oil and bring to a boil over medium heat.
6. Carefully watch your oil until the garlic turns BLACK. Seriously. The oil will become brown as well. Set aside.

BROTH
1. Take your reserved liquids from braising the pork belly and place in a blender with a cup of chicken broth and the onion. Blend until smooth. If needed, add some of the chicken broth to help liquefy it. Strain this liquid to catch any chunks.
2. In a large pot, combine the strained reserved liquids and onion mixture, soy milk, chicken stock, and bonito dashi. Bring to a boil. Add salt to your liking.
3. Assemble your bowl of ramen. Place your cooked noodles first, then add the burnt garlic oil, soft boiled egg, scallions, and then sliced pork belly.
4. Carefully ladle the broth over the bowl contents.
5. Top off with the crushed garlic and enjoy!

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Kimchi Fried Rice

It’s Saturday. The day where I take the time to make the foods I want to eat. Today was the day for kimchi fried rice. Every Korean child grew up eating this (at least, I hope). It’s salty, it’s savory, it’s just everything you want for an easy lunch. The best part is the rice stuck to the bottom of the pan. It’s crunchy and pretty much what I look forward to the most.

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This is also a great dish to add in pretty much whatever you want. You want more onions? You got it. Want to make it super spicy? Go right ahead. But today’s twist was: BACON. I’ve seen Spam used more commonly as a meat component to this dish. But to be honest…Spam scares me. It comes in a can that I feel like could sit around for decades and never go bad. Just not my cup of tea. But! The bacon in this was perfect. It added a nice fat flavor to the tangy kimchi, which matched perfectly with the fried egg.

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If you don’t have a cast iron pan, that’s fine…but I still suggest you go buy one. They are INCREDIBLY useful for any type of cooking. It was great for this dish because (1) cast iron pans retain their heat very well compared to their counterpart standard frying pans (2) it creates the nice layer of crunchy rice stuck to the bottom of the pan. If you have a bottle of kimchi sitting around, make this for an easy lunch!

Serves 2

Time: 35 minutes (20 minutes for cooking the rice)

Ingredients:
1.5 – 2 cups of cooked rice
2 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces
1/4 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced kimchi
1/3 cup kimchi juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon butter
plenty of olive oil (or any cooking oil)
1 fried egg
1 cast iron pan

1. Heat up your pan over medium high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil.
2. Add the bacon and onions and cook until onions are translucent.
3. Add the rice, garlic, and butter. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
4. Add your kimchi and stir.
5. Add your kimchi juice and sesame oil. Continue to stir the rice as it binds with the ingredients for about 3 minutes.
6. Lower the heat and allow the rice on the bottom to become crunchy.
7. Serve with a fried egg. Enjoy!

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Dad’s Hot and Sour Soup

We drank too much last night. My only known cure for a hangover is spicy food. Very spicy food.

As I was struggling to drive home from Thanksgiving shopping, I recalled my desire to make this soup. I grew up eating this for years. It’s spicy, sour, and filled with amazing textures and flavors. My favorite part is the enoki mushrooms. They’re crunchy but soft at the same time, an unfamiliar texture to most. The bamboo also has a similar texture, along with the pieces of pork throughout the soup.

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There are two ingredients that you will have to hunt down at an Asian market: chili bamboo shoots and canned bamboo shoots. You cannot make this soup without these two. Without the chili bamboo shoots, well…you’d just have a sour soup. Say bye-bye to the hot.

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It’s an incredibly easy soup to make and it’s far better than what I’ve seen sold at Chinese restaurants. If you can find these ingredients and you like spicy-ass food, try this out for sure.

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This is what happens in the background while preparing photos for this blog:

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Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

3-4 dried hot peppers
1/2 cup of julienned pork (I used pork loin)
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1/2 cup spicy pickled bamboo shoots
1 can of julienned bamboo shoots
1/2 cup julienned firm tofu
1 bunch (or half, however much you prefer) enoki mushrooms (If you can’t find these, any mushroom will do)
1 egg, mixed
3 cups water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1.5 teaspoon water
ground pepper
chopped scallions for serving

1. On medium high heat, heat up oil in a large pot.
2. Add pork and cook for about 30 seconds. It will finish cooking later.
3. Add dried peppers and ground pepper. I suggest breaking the peppers in half to let out the spice. I also suggest using a LOT of ground pepper, I used at least 1/2 teaspoon.
4. Add both bamboos. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
5. Add mushrooms and mung bean sprouts. Saute for 1 minute.
6. Add water and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 10 minutes.
7. Add vinegar and tofu, as well as salt to taste.
8. Allow to boil for a few minutes and add the egg. Make sure to stir immediately after adding the egg.
9. Add the cornstarch mixture and allow to boil briefly.
10. Serve with chopped scallions and ground pepper.

Have fun enjoying the spiciness!

*Adjust the spiciness by adding more or less of the pickled bamboo

 

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Pork & Vegetable Spring Rolls

Boredom. It’s what really makes me get cooking in the kitchen. Well not always but usually. Let me rephrase: my cooking desires really come out when I have the time to just sit and really think about recipes. Not what I want to eat or what looks good online, I mean really thinking about the combination of flavors to create something great. It’s questions like, “Would sesame oil taste good in it? What would make the filling less dense? What ingredient am I completely forgetting that would go great in this dish?”

This is the main reason why I rarely follow recipes. The greatest thing about cooking is that you can do whatever you want and however you want. If the recipe says “Put 1 tablespoon of sugar” but you think brown should may taste better? Why not do it? Recipes are boring. Fact. Except for mine. Duh?

We stopped by our beloved Vietnamese store yesterday and I actually took the time to explore. Usually, I run in there, get what I need and get the hell out. Not that this place is that sketchy, it’s just not inviting either. Anyway, I decided to explore the frozen section and found spring roll wrappers. I thought, “YES! I can make my mom’s spring roll recipe!” Trust me, it was a great moment.

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The ingredients are super simple and the vegetables can be altered to whichever ones you like.

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And the best part is…they aren’t fried. I’ll admit, fried foods taste great. But the idea of the food soaking up so much oil is a huge no-no for me. Mainly because my tummy gets pretty pissed at me when I eat anything fried. But even though these weren’t fried, you literally would never be able to tell.

Makes about 20 spring rolls

Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:
1 pound ground pork
1.5 cups shredded napa cabbage
1 carrot, grated
1 stalk green onion, diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/3 cup finely diced zucchini
1/3 cup finely diced mushroom
3 cloves garlic, garlic-pressed
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
dash of fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
egg wash

1. Place your napa cabbage in a large bowl and toss with kosher salt. Let sit.
2. In a large frying pan, place all of the vegetables and pork, minus ginger and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes over medium high heat. Make sure to break apart the pork as much as possible. You don’t want giant chunks of pork in your spring roll.
3. Rinse your napa cabbage and squeeze out as much water as possible. Add to the frying pan.
4. Add the ginger and garlic. Sauté for a couple more minutes.
5. Add oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and ground pepper. Mix.
6. Place mixture into a bowl and mix in your cornstarch mixture.
7. Allow to cool before the spring roll assembly.
8. I won’t be going over the folding technique of spring rolls (Google!) but once you are done, spray your spring rolls with olive oil. I have my lovely Misto oil sprayer.
9. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
10. Place your spring rolls on a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy with any dipping sauce you desire!

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Thai Red Curry Chicken

Ohhh boy, is this dish good. Spicy, coconut-y, flavor filled chicken that goes great with white basmati rice. If you’re willing, add some chewy roti and you’re good to go.

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Asian food has an amazing range of flavors. Strange combinations result in eye opening experiences. Ingredients such as ginger is such a great ingredient that is not as well used as it should be in other ethnic dishes.

I bought red curry paste at our local international food stores. Then I discovered our Walmart had it too. For half the price. Damn it. You’d think the local Walmarts wouldn’t have it because the term “Oriental” is still used here to refer to Asian people and foods.  Trust me, it’s not something I appreciate or find endearing.

I actually only used the paste for the first time a few days ago. It almost smells like a spicy fermented tomato paste (and looks like it too) with a kick. It’s pretty interesting but tastes great.

Using tomato paste? Well, it kind of came from my big noggin while I was trying to brainstorm how to make this dish really flavorful. Tomato paste provides flavor without any pungent tomato taste.

And of course, coconut milk. Yes, yes, it’s high in fat but I really don’t care. If you want to cook great food, you need to use the proper ingredients. In my opinion, at least.

So I won’t lie…the end product looks like what my dog’s #2 looks like after she’s drank too much saltwater at the beach. But seriously, the meat just falls off the bone and the sauce is irresistible. And it’s super easy to make. It’ll taste like you slaved over the stove for hours!

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Serves: 3-4
Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

4 chicken thighs
1 head of broccoli, roughly chopped
1 bell pepper, sliced into 2″ cubes
1 onion, sliced 2″
2.5 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon salt

1. Heat up sauce pan on medium heat.
2. Take your chicken and mix in a bowl with the pastes.
3. Take the garlic and ginger and sauté in the sauce pan with oil.
4. Add your chicken and brown all sides, mixing constantly. This should take about 3-4 minutes.
5. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, salt, and fish sauce and bring to a boil on high heat. Lower to medium after 5 minutes.
6. After 30 minutes of simmering, add your remaining vegetables and allow to simmer over low-medium heat for at least 45 minutes.

Serve with basmati rice (or any other rice) and enjoy!

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King Mandu!

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Oh my GOD. I DID IT. This has to be one of my all time favorite Korean food, 왕만두. It essentially is a steam pork bun but it’s called “King” since they are so freakishly large. Many times, it’s referred to as Wang Mandu (cue innapropriosity) but I prefer not to call them that.

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It’s a savory, garlicky, juicy filling inside a puffy and chewy outer “bun.” This was was far easier to make than I thought it was going to be. With very basic ingredients, you’ll be eating this in no time!

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Prep time: 2 hours

Servings: 10 large buns

Ingredients:

Bun:

1 cup warm water (hot enough that you can stick your finger in but want to take it out)
1 packet yeast (approx. 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2-3 cups all purpose flour

1. Place all ingredients except flour in a large bowl. Mix well. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. Take 2 cups of flour and mix into above bowl of ingredients.
3. As you mix, add more flour until dough starts pulling off from the sides and is not sticky.
4. Start kneading your dough on a clean surface, adding more flour as needed. Knead for 5 minutes.
5. Place in a bowl and cover with a towel or saran wrap. Let rise for 1 hour.
6. After 1 hour, knead your dough for 1 minute. Place back in bowl again for 30 minutes and begin making your filling.

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Filling:

1 pound fresh ground pork
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 cup finely chopped napa cabbage
2 stalks scallion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
kosher salt

1. Take your chopped onion, cabbage, garlic, and scallions and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with kosher salt and mix. Let sit for 5 minutes.
2. Take your ground pork and in a bowl, add soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and ground pepper.
3. With your hand (deal with it), mix in one direction (I go clockwise) for 1 minute. The meat will bind together well.
4. Squeeze excess water out of your vegetables that have been covered in kosher salt. Place the squeezed vegetables in the bowl with pork.
5. Mix again (in the same direction) to combine thoroughly.

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Bun assembly:

1. Cut your dough into tennis ball sized pieces.
2. With a rolling pin, roll out your dough into a circle, about 7 inches wide.
3. Place 3 tablespoons of filling in the center and start pinching the edges together. Make sure it is completely sealed.
4. In a steamer, place a couple cups of water and on the rack, cover it with parchment paper (or use cupcake liners).
5. Place buns on the paper; make sure they are placed at least 1 inch apart. They will expand a LOT while cooking. I made that mistake today..
6. Let the buns sit (before steaming) for 20 minutes.
7. After 20 minutes, start steaming the buns over medium heat. Cook for 20 minutes.
8. Enjoy with soy sauce!

Extras:

1. I would definitely add fresh ground ginger to the filling; todays selection of ginger at Walmart looked like little pieces of dried cat poop.
2. You can definitely add some spice to this, using something like chili oil in the filling.
3. Any other vegetable would taste great in the filling, such as mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, mungbean sprouts, etc.

 

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They aren’t the prettiest things in the world. Honestly, they kind of look like used baby diapers. And do make you have garlic breath but it’s worth it. No one will want to talk to you but at least you have a steamed pork bun to eat.

 

Stir Fry Noodles & Shrimp

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Not sure what to call these. It’s basically pad see ew, but by habit I call it thai noodles or pad thai (which I know, the following recipe is nothing like pad thai). But either way, it’s an easy dinner to make and it tastes awesome.

Ingredients are super simple: rice noodles (any variety, thin, wide, etc.), any vegetables of your liking, garlic, and my soy sauce reduction.

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I thought of the soy sauce reduction when I kept reading that dark soy sauce was needed for the proper noodles. But do I have access to dark soy sauce here in Pensacola? Absolutely not. It’s hard enough to find regular soy sauce here. So, I brainstormed and thought…dark soy sauce is basically a thicker and sweeter version of soy sauce so why not make reduction? And guess what? It worked out perfectly.

So that’s secret #1: soy sauce reduction. It’s simple. It’s brown sugar and soy sauce boiled down to a thick syrup that can be used in a variety of other dishes. I used it as a dipping sauce for my Hainan chicken. The possibilities are endless.

Secret #2: undercook your rice noodles a little bit. Through many, many attempts of making these types of noodles, I realized cooking the noodles thoroughly or just a little too much caused them to break apart in the final process of cooking. By a little bit, I mean just enough so that your noodles are al dente. The cooking process will continue in the frying pan.

Secret #3: always add your shrimp last. I can’t stand when I eat rubbery, overcooked shrimp. It’s just not how shrimp should taste. Adding the shrimp last cooks them just enough so that you don’t go barfing your brains out later, and keeps the shrimp flavorful and sweet.

It’s a great dinner to make that’s filled with vegetables and is also provides great leftovers for lunch. It was my favorite during the school year.

Serves: 3-4 people

Soy Sauce Reduction:

1. Combine 3/4 cup soy sauce and 1/2 cup brown sugar in a pot. Bring to a boil.
2. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for at least 10 minutes. You want it to continue in a “rolling boil” fashion so don’t step away! Carefully stir as it boils.
3. After 10 minutes, the mixture should have thickened to maple syrup consistency (the real kind). Set aside.

Stir Fry Ingredients:

1 package rice noodles (any width is fine, I prefer the wider noodles), cooked to al dente
1/2 onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
2 cups chopped napa, cabbage
1 head broccoli, chopped
4 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup soy sauce reduction

1. Sauté your onion, bell pepper, and broccoli with vegetable oil (or olive) on the highest heat possible.
2. Once onions are near translucent, add cabbage.
3. Make a clearing for your garlic and add with more oil. Sauté briefly.
4. Add your cooked noodles and more vegetable oil. Sauté for a couple minutes. You will notice your noodles will become soft again as it heats up with the oil. Don’t worry if your noodles don’t completely separate at this point; they will once the soy sauce is added.
5. Add your soy sauce reduction. Carefully add bit by bit at this point as you mix; you want the noodles to be colored a deep caramel color.  Don’t make the mistake of making it far too salty.
6. Keep on high heat and mix thoroughly, allowing the liquid to evaporate. Cook for another minute.

Serve with Sriracha and enjoy!

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Couple of things:
1. You can add any other ingredients, such as green onions, mixed egg, carrots, sprouts, etc.
2. Sautéing on high heat will really make the soy sauce stick and absorb into the noodles; otherwise, you will have a soupy mess.
3. As much as you may not want to, adding a good amount of vegetable oil to coat all the noodles will really give the noodles a good texture.
4. If you don’t want to use shrimp, you can use tofu or any other meats; I just suggest cooking these in advance, separate from your vegetables and then adding it in at the end.

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