Try This Japanese Dessert at Home

During the Lunar New Year, especially in the lantern festival, we often eat Tangyuan (glutinous rice balls), filled with sweet stuff such as sesame paste or peanut paste, cooked in the soup, served as a dessert. It’s a homophone for reunion in Chinese language “Tuanyuan”(团圆). The store-bought Tangyuan are usually filled with too much sugar. Let’s make something similar but healthier this year!
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Mochi is a Japanese word for rice cake. A popular way to eat Mochi is known as “Daifuku”. It means the cooked dough is stretched around a filling, usually of red bean paste, strawberries, or even ice cream. Making Mochi at home is completely manageable. The homemade ones are so much more delicate and delicious. You can enjoy the fresh soft and chewy textural pleasure the most.

For the filling, feel happy to wrap any ingredients that you prefer or handy. I made my own red bean paste with less sugar and oil. You can find ready-made paste in the store to save some time. Strawberries and cooked sweet potatoes are also my choice. Or think about other fruits, chestnuts, matcha cream, chocolate…

I used coconut cream and coconut oil in the dough, to make it dairy-free, also to add another layer of flavor. Other alternatives like milk and butter would also do the job if coconut is not your cup of tea.
(makes 9 Mochi balls)
For the wrapper:
120g glutinous rice flour
30g corn starch
25g sugar
200g coconut cream
15g coconut oil
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1. Mix well all the ingredients in a bowl. Put the bowl in a steamer on medium-high heat. Cook for 20 minutes, stir roughly and set aside.

2. Bring a pan on medium-low heat, put in 50g glutinous rice flour, shake the pan to allow the flour to get heat evenly. Keep heating for 3 minutes and let it cool down.

3. Weigh 45g dough on a piece of food plastic wrap. It’s extremely sticky at this point, use the wrap to press the dough into a round flat shape. Place the filling in the center. Pinch the dough and wrap it all around the filling to enclose it completely. Roughly roll the Mochi to a ball shape.

4. Roll the Mochi on the pan with cooked rice flour. Now it should be easy to pick up by hand.

5. Enjoy them cold or at room temperature. Keep them in a airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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How to Make Pan-fried Veggie Dumplings at Home 学做自制素煎饺

It’s great time for us to sit around the table with friends and family again, to make some seriously yummy dumplings together! Lunar New Year is on the way, and dumplings are the most common dish on our holiday dinner tables. The cooking methods are super versatile, you can have them boiled in the soup, steamed and pan-fried.

Today, I’m making pan-fried dumplings with vegetable fillings. I’ve got really simple but flavorful ingredients: zucchini, carrot, corn kernels, tofu and mushrooms. The filling tastes naturally sweet, mild, moist, especially has a umami from the mushrooms. I add an egg in the filling to make it more compact when cooked. You can replace it with a teaspoon starch to make it vegan if you wish.
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Eat dumplings, be happy, have a brand new and fantastic year of 2020!

(For making 30 large dumplings)
Store-bought dumpling wrappers
(Or if you wanna try hand made from scratch: mix 300g white flour, 140g warm water and 1 tsp oil, knead the dough until the surface becomes smooth, set aside for 30 minutes, roll out to a long log shape around 3cm in diameter, cut into small pieces, roughly 10g each, roll out to a round shape with a rolling pin)
1 medium sized zucchini
1 medium sized carrot
250g firm tofu
Handful mixed varieties of mushrooms
Handful cooked corn kernels
1 large egg
Small piece of ginger
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
1 tsp sesame oil
5g corn starch
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1. Get the dumpling wrapper ready. Mix corn starch with 120ml cold water and a pinch of salt. Finely chop or shred all the vegetables. Give the zucchini and carrot a powerful squeeze, remove some of the moisture in the veggies to avoid a watery filling.

2. Combine all the vegetables, season with salt, white pepper and sesame oil, taste. Crack in the egg, mix thoroughly.

3. Add one spoon of filling to the middle of one wrapper. Dip some water on the edges of the wrapper, fold in half and pleat.

4. Put a nonstick pan on medium heat. Add a Tbsp oil and about 12 dumplings to the pan, cook for 1-2 minutes. Pour the corn starch mixture into the pan. Turn to low heat, put the lid on, let them steam for about 4-5 minutes. Take the lid off and let the water evaporate so the cornstarch mixture can form a crispy lattice.

5. Turn off the heat, serve the dumplings bottoms up on a plate, dip with your preferable sauce.
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Holiday Recipe For You – Stuffed Spinach and Ricotta Pasta

It’s coming to the time of the year again, wish everyone the loveliest holiday season! As a tradition, we’re gonna contribute another holiday vegetarian recipe, for a hearty and luscious, crowd-pleasing dinner. The ingredients list doesn’t look longer than usual. However, it would take you a little more time and money to get all the ingredients ready. But that’s what the holidays are for, right?
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This stuffed spinach and ricotta pasta looks just festive with all of those red, green, and golden colors. The flavors from the simple tomato sauce and the creamy ricotta cheese get linked together by their humble big friend cannelloni. Cannelloni is a tube shaped dry pasta about 7cm long and 2cm wide, generally served baked with a filling and covered by a sauce in Italian cuisine. It’s fun to prepare too, especially when it comes to the mixing and filling steps. This dish is relatively easy to make if you have a few tricks:

1. Use a bag with the tip cut off to fill your pastas — this will get it done so quickly and with much less mess!
2. Choose the ingredients to suit your convenience. If you can’t find cannelloni pasta, what about jumbo pasta shells or lasagna sheets? Don’t like ricotta? Try cream cheese or cottage cheese! Difficult to find fresh herbs? Use dried Italian herbs instead!

3. Double the recipe to make a second batch, keep it in the freezer for the next party!微信图片_20191205140646 微信图片_20191205140648 微信图片_20191205140651
(serve 4)
150g spinach
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tin (400g) diced tomatoes
a bunch of fresh basil and parsley
1 large egg, beaten
250g Ricotta cheese
60g Parmesan cheese, grated
120g Cannelloni, about 12 tubes

1. Heat the oven to 190℃. Prepare a pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil and gently sweat the onion, garlic and a handful of herbs until soft. Add in diced tomatoes, a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Heat some oil in another pan and gently cook the garlic for a minute. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted. When it cools down, chop into small pieces.

3. Mix the chopped spinach in the ricotta, season with salt and nutmeg. Add the egg and half of the parmesan cheese in the mixture, stir well. Pipe the mixture into the cannelloni tubes.

4. Place the tomato sauce in a baking dish. Lay the stuffed cannelloni in the sauce, make sure they are evenly spaced apart and most parts are dipped with the sauce.

5. Cover the dish with foil, bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle some herbs and the rest of parmesan on top. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until bubbling and golden. Serve with the remaining herbs.

Enjoy Making Miso Ramen at Home!

A bowl of warm noodle soup is always my kind of comfort food. My grandma often cooked noodle soup for our family dinner in the winter when I was a kid. And somehow I kept the habit. When the temperature drops, my mind whispers me to go for noodle soup. Isn’t it amazing how our current food choices are associated with what we ate in the childhood? Today I’m not sharing a recipe from my beloved grandma though.

Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning paste produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji(a fermentation culture), sometimes with rice, barley or other ingredients. It’s used for sauces, spreads, soups and all sorts of cooking in Japanese cuisine. We’ll place it as a main character in this noodle soup.
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This recipe is super simple and flexible by completing 3 parts:

1. Soup base. I like to cook a large pot of vegetable broth at a time, and keep the extra portion in the fridge for later usage. This broth is light, with a nice hint of umami from the seaweed. It’s a lovely mild backdrop for the intense saltiness of the miso.

2. Noodles. Use fresh or dried noodles as you wish.

3. Toppings. Top the bowl with whatever is convenient and seasonal. If you’re looking for some richer accompaniments, go for fried tofu, zucchini or soft-boiled egg. Cook the whole egg in boiling water for 6-7 minutes, move it into cold water until cools down, remove the egg shell, cut into half, and you got a perfect soft-boiled egg.

Multiply the ingredients amounts to serve more hungry fellows.
(serve 1)
500ml vegetable broth, made with celery stems, mushrooms, seaweed
100g ramen noodles
1 tsp miso paste
1 soft-boiled egg
fresh vegetables as you like
roasted seaweed and sesame
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1. Prepare vegetable broth. Gather some celery stem and leaves, one or two mushrooms, a few pieces of seaweed, cook them in a large pot with water for 15 minutes. Drain and keep the clear broth.

2. Put a small pot over high heat, pour in 500ml broth and miso paste, bring to a boil. Taste to adjust the salt. Set aside and keep warm.

3. Cook the noodles to reach your desired firmness. Drain well and serve in a deep soup noodle bowl.

4. Pour in the miso soup, add fresh veggies, roasted seaweed, soft-boiled egg, sprinkle some roasted sesame for garnishing. Enjoy!

How to Make Mapo Tofu at Home

How can we miss this recipe for so long? Mapo tofu is such a popular dish that you can order it in most Chinese restaurants. It is simple in preparation, gives a bursting and mouth-numbing flavor with tender texture. For the newbies in the kitchen, this dish will give you an idea how some quick-sauce are made in Chinese cuisine.

Commonly restaurants make it with a lot of oil. Actually it doesn’t need that much to be delicious, especially when we eat at home. This recipe uses 2 tbsp of oil and still tastes pretty authentic. It is a very spicy version though, but the hot level can be adjusted downwards by reducing the amount of red chili or choosing a less spicier Doubanjiang(chili bean paste). Give this a go and tweak it to suit your taste!
A few tips:

1. Choose the right type of tofu. Soft and silky tofu is the best choice, but not the softest one that easily breaks when you cut it into pieces. During cooking, don’t stir-fry or even stir the tofu, simply cook them in the sauce.

2. Doubanjiang is a fermented broad bean paste, used particularly in Sichuan cuisine. It has a reddish-brown color with a uniquely deep and complex umami profile. It’s usually spicy and quite salty. You may want to taste it before adding more salt into the dish.

3. Sichuan pepper(huaqiao) originates from Sichuan province, has a unique aroma, and brings a tingly numbness on the tongue. It’s often added together with chili peppers to create a flavor called “mala” in Chinese(numbing and spicy). It’s different from other types of peppers, so there is no substitution for it.

4. Thicken the sauce with corn starch. Combine corn starch with cold water to make a slurry. Thicken the sauce until it can cling on to the surface of the tofu. This step is definitely the finishing touch!
(serve 2)
400g soft tofu, cut in small cubes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 pieces ginger, finely chopped
1 red chili, chopped
1 tsp Sichuan peppers, toasted in a pan and then ground
1 tbsp Doubanjiang
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp cold water to form a slurry
several spring onions, sliced for garnish
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1. Add 2 tbsp oil to the pan, on high heat. Add the ginger, garlic and spring onion stalks. Stir-fry for 1 minute.

2. Add Doubanjiang, red chili and soy sauce, combine well, keep stir-frying until aromatic.

3. Pour in 1 cup of cold water. When it’s boiling, add the tofu carefully. Cook over low heat for five minutes. Let them absorb the flavor of the seasonings. Adjust the amount of water to roughly cover the tofu.

4. Add corn starch slurry to the pan spoon by spoon, until the sauce is thick enough.

5. Finally, add sesame oil and ground Sichuan pepper. Sprinkle some spring onion greens on top. Serve with steamed rice.
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Quick and Easy 10-Minute Coleslaw for Summer 10分钟夏日卷心菜沙拉

Don’t feel like eating oily on hot days? Like creamy but not in a heavy way? Want vegan friendly? This 10-minute coleslaw recipe is totally your kind.
“Coleslaw” comes from the Dutch term “koolsla”, which means cabbage salad. Commonly the cabbage is dressed with Vinaigrette or Mayonnaise. Vinaigrette is usually made of oil and vinegar, which is easy to make at home. We can adjust the flavor by adding herbs and spices, or using different vinegar.
Mayonnaise also can be made from scratch, it contains egg yolk besides oil and acid. But as it involves a lot of whisking by hand, store-bought Mayo is much convenient and popular.
However, we don’t use any Vinaigrette or Mayo for dressing today. Because we want it fresh and light. This coleslaw recipe only requires 7 ingredients: cabbage, carrot, raw cashew, brown mustard, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and fresh herbs(optional)! Cashew plays an important role in this game. They were soaked in hot water for 1 hour, then blended with syrup, vinegar, mustard and water. The result is amazing! Cashew has a plain flavour, carries the sweetness and acidity, and becomes creamy and tangy. Not to mention the healthy side of it, it’s good source of monounsaturated fat, protein and dietary minerals.
Coleslaw is a perfect side dish, goes well with sandwiches too. Once you have a great base, you can build it up with more flavors and textures. Mix in fresh fruits(apple, pear…), raisins, nuts(almonds, walnuts…), seeds(pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds…), or even more protein(tofu, egg…) to make it a proper meal or lunch box.
(serves 4)
200g green cabbage and 100g carrots, thinly cut or shredded
100g raw cashews (soaked in hot water for 1 hour)
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tbsp brown mustard
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp ground cumin
fresh herbs for garnishing
salt and pepper

1. Drain the cashews thoroughly, add to a blender along with maple syrup, mustard, apple cider vinegar and 1/2 cup drinking water. If it’s too thick, add water little by little to thin. If too thin, add a few more cashews. Blend until it’s creamy and smooth.

2. Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the flavor by adding maple syrup for sweetness, vinegar for acidity or mustard for tangy taste.

3. Place carrot and cabbage in a mixing bowl, top with dressing, toss to combine. Garnish with fresh herbs. Enjoy!

Make the Most of Summer’s Fresh Dish: Veggie Wrap

It’s often very easy to lose our appetite for food and interest in spending long time in the kitchen on a hot summer day like now. But ordering take-away is not a daily solution. Our bodies are much keen for freshness. It’s time to be creative and think of some quick and yummy recipes.
This recipe requires 8 ingredients plus some spices, less than 30 minutes from start to finish. The ingredients are things you likely have on hand right now. The only thing I didn’t have was the wraps, which can be subbed with many other things to make it convenient for you, such as burrito wraps, rice flour wraps, corn flour wraps… Ideally these wraps can be made at home, by using a kind of slightly fermented wet dough, a bit like the Jianbingguozi wrap dough. Or you can buy freshly made wraps in the market just like me. Usually they are on the Chinese pastry booth, along with other fresh noodles. My grandma sometimes buys them to make spring rolls. They are cooked and totally ready to be used!
Wash the vegetables thoroughly if you want to enjoy them raw, chop them thinly to the same length. I soaked a few dried bean curd sticks in hot water to skip the cooking part.
We wrote once a recipe of Mexican style burrito, which needs longer time to prepare and fancier ingredients such as salsa sauce and avocado. Today’s recipe is much simpler and we make it in a Chinese way.
Bean curd sticks (soaked in hot water)
Bean sprouts
Pickled radish
All thinly sliced
For the Sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp dark rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 cloves garlic(minced)
1/2 clove garlic sized ginger(minced)
A few red chili rings
Chopped coriander
All mixed

All that’s left to do is wrap! Wrap in rolls, or fold them in another shape like mine. Add 1-2 tsp sauces to the fillings when finish wrapping. Continue until all the veggies are used up. Best served fresh.

1-pot Baked Beans

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I still remember the first time when I tried the canned baked beans bought from the very first imported food mart in my city, it was an exciting experience. Since fresh ingredients are easy to find and pretty cheap in China, canned food is not so common in our daily life at all. Canned baked beans is popular for a reason. They are tender, juicy, sweet and smoky, same standard taste almost everywhere, cheap and can be kept for ages. This recipe is for those bean lovers who are bored with the same taste, looking for a less sweeter, more texture and fresh version of homemade baked beans.
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I didn’t bake my beans, just stew them on the stove. I started with dried beans, but they do take a long time to cook, and you’d better plan ahead to soak them overnight. If you are short on time, you can easily turn to convenient canned beans(only seasoned with salt). It’s up to you. I also used pink beans as I had it in my pantry, but cannellini beans, navy beans or any other type of beans is perfectly okay.
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This easy baked beans recipe is so versatile that you can have it as a side next to the mains, as a topping on toast, or even mix it with cooked pasta and add some cheese to make a proper dinner.
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Ingredients: (serves 2-3)
100g dried pink beans(or any other beans), soaked overnight
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
6-8 cherry tomatoes
large stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
toasted bread, roughly torn
celery leaves or other green herbs for garnishing
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1, cook beans in a pot of boiling water for 30-40 minutes until they are tender. Drain.

2, put a frying pan on medium heat, add generous amount of oil. Put in onions, sautée for 5 minutes until soft. Add garlic, celery, tomatoes, cumin and tomato paste, stir for 3 minutes until fragrant.

3, add beans, salt and a cup of water. Bring to a boil, continue simmering for 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Stir frequently to avoid stickiness on the bottom. Season to taste, add more spices like chili flakes or pepper as you prefer.

4, top with roasted torn bread and fresh herbs.
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No-bake Peanut Butter Energy Bars

In the summer, rather than spending long time cooking with heat, I’d like to look for easier methods which are more like throw-together and assembling. The idea for this recipe came after a serious craving for sugar-free and gluten-free cookies.
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Energy bar
I still remember the excitement when I first discovered the wonder of medjool dates. These edible sweet fruits of the date palm tree make great natural sweeteners and sugar alternatives. Also its special sticky texture can match with different food varieties, such as smoothie, cake and energy bars! Despite looking somewhat complex, this recipe is actually quite easy to make. I simply mixed a batch of my peanut butter pattie dough, and melted a chunk of dark chocolate(you can omit the chocolate to make it totally sugar-free). They might look like cookies, but absolutely guilt-free. These could certainly pass as a healthier dessert, snack or pre- or post-workout bite as they have the perfect balance of carbs, protein, and natural sweet.
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Medjool dates can be found easily online, same as puffed rice and almond meal. They are all great ingredients which are worth being kept in storage and used in the diet.
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Ingredients: (15 bars)
10 medjool dates, pitted and mashed
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raw pumpkin kernels
1/5 cup roasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup puffed rice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
30g dark chocolate
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1, soak the dates in warm water for 15 minutes until soft. Drain the water, use a fork, mash the dates on a plate into a thick paste. Add to a large bowl with peanut butter, vanilla, and coconut oil, mix ingredients until well combined. A food processor can do this job as well.

2, add sunflower seeds, pumpkin kernels, sesame seeds, almond meal, puffed rice, cinnamon and a generous pinch of sea salt. Mix together until all the ingredients form a thick dough.

3, transfer to a square pan with parchment paper, press down until uniformly flat.

4, melt the chocolate, spoon over the prepared bars. Pop in the freezer for 30 minutes to set. Cut into 15 bars and serve. You can store these in the fridge for a week or store in the freezer for longer.
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Soba Noodles

When I was a little kid, I always had buckwheat noodles and buckwheat pancakes at home. Some relatives of my grandparents from their old hometown were still growing buckwheat back then. Every year, when it came to the harvest time, we regularly received bags of fresh-ground buckwheat flour by post from thousand kilometers away. My lovely grandma would put her oversleeves on and start to make noodles from the buckwheat flour. She cooked them in a clear soup, seasoned simply with soy sauce, dark rice vinegar, and plenty of stir-fried leeks. They were just humble and delicious.
Nowadays their relatives are too old to do farm work, and the younger generation don’t want to do. My grandma is not as energetic as before either. I guess I’ll be the one to keep my family tradition later on, as well as the precious memory.
Despite the name, buckwheat is actually not a wheat at all. It’s a seed rather than a grain. It contains good amount of protein, B vitamins, dietary fibre and minerals. Since it’s almost summer now, I’d better keep the hearty noodle soup recipe for the colder season. Let’s try another recipe today.
In Japan, dried thin buckwheat noodles has a name as Soba. The soba noodles can be served warm or cold. Any handy veggies, raw, boiled or stir-fried will do a great job. Add some chili in the sauce to spice it up. Double the quantity of ingredients to make more portion if needed. It doesn’t really get much easier!
Ingredients: (serve 1)
80g dried soba noodles
green beans and edamame
bean sprouts
red cabbage, finely shredded
green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp sesame seeds
For the sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame seed oil
1/2 Tbsp white rice vinegar
1 tsp miso paste
2 small pieces of ginger, finely chopped
1, cook noodles following packet directions. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside in a colander.

2, steam or stir-fry the veggies. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce.

3, put noodles, veggies, the sauce and green onions into a large bowl. Gently toss to combine. Add more salt or water to taste. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.