Thursday, August 14, 2014


A typical Shanghainese meatball, but done more-or-less as they would do it in Hong Kong.

[Shanghai style lion heads in soup]

For the balls:

One pound ground pork.
Three rashers bacon, chopped.
Five or six matai (water chestnuts), chopped.
Two TBS soy sauce.
Two TBS sugar.
One TBS sherry.
Half TBS sesame oil.
One green onion, chopped.
One thumb of ginger, minced.
Two to three cloves garlic, minced.
Two eggs, beaten.
Four TBS cornstarch.
Pinch of five spice powder.
Pinch of freshly ground pepper.

For the broth:

1 pound bokchoi, bases trimmed.
One or two slices of ginger.
One and a half cups of superior stock or broth.

Note: you can substitute quatre epices for the five spice, or a little ground nutmeg.

To prepare the lion heads, mix the pork, bacon, ginger, garlic, matai (馬蹄), and green onion. Work it over with a chef's knife or cleaver till it is considerably finer in texture than it was. Use the blade to scoop it into a bowl, and add the remaining ball-ingredients. Mix well. It should be sticky but on the firm side, not gloopy. If necessary add a little more cornstarch.
Form into four large balls.

Heat a layer of oil in a deep pan or wok. Place the meatballs herein, and colour all over; whether you roll them around or turn them is up to you. Do not cook through, merely brown the outside and firm them up.

Remove them to a casserole. Heat up the stock or broth and pour over the meatballs; it need not cover them. Simmer for about ten minutes or so before adding the bokchoi to cook alongside. When the stems have become tender and the leaves are wilted, the dish is done.

I like to cook large chunks of cucumber (peeled and seeded) with the meatballs and cabbage; I am a barbarian.

Serve each ball with some of the soup and vegetables.

First posted here:

Monday, August 4, 2014


[Golubtsi, Golumpki, Sarmale, Sarma.]

Two heads of cabbage.
Two pounds ground pork.
Two onions, finely chopped.
Two or three garlic cloves, finely chopped.
One cup of raw rice.
Two pounds of tomatoes.
Handful of fresh herbs.
Big pinch dried thyme.
One TBS paprika.
One Tsp. ground pepper.
Pinches salt, nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon.
Three or four bay leaves.
Jigger of sherry.
Juice of one lemon.

Chicken broth or good stock: 1½ - 2 cups.
Several rashers of smoked bacon, sliced.

Sautée the onions and garlic in a little olive oil. When they have become translucent and soft, add the paprika and cook for another minute or so, then set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, bring water to boil in a large pot . Core of the cabbages and when the water boils, dump the cabbage in. Peel off the leaves one by one as they start to get soft and put them on a plate. You need them soft and limp so that they can be rolled; this means painful fingertips. Trim off the stiffest parts.

When done, hold each tomato over an open flame with a fork, to char the skin and facilitate peeling, or blanch them in the boiling water to the same purpose. Personally, I prefer the fire method; it tastes better. Once peeled, core them and remove the pips. Then chop coarsely, and mix in whatever fresh herbs you judge suitable.

Mix the meat with the onions, garlic, rice, and powdered spices, plus a pinch of salt.

Put a spoonful of this mixture on a limp cabbage leaf and roll it up, tucking in the edges like a burrito or an eggroll. Whatever cabbage is left over should be chopped and put in the bottom of the pot. Arrange the cabbage rolls on top, add the bay leaves. Cover this with the chopped tomato, and add the stock, plus water to cover and the dash of sherry.
Dump the smoked bacon on top.
Squeeze the lemon over.

Place the vessel in the oven at 350 degrees for four hours, check on it occasionally.

A very large clay pot is perfect for making this, so is a large enameled Dutch oven or stew pot.

Two things to take note of: the rolls should be loose enough that the rice within can comfortably expand, and the pot should only be half-way filled for the same reason.
If the top surface of the tomato congeals a bit, that will concentrate the flavours, which is something you want.

Serve alongside potatoes or polenta.
Hot peppers, fresh or pickled, also belong on the table.

Originally from here:

Sunday, August 3, 2014


To make tiyula itum, meat chunks are rubbed with pamapa, then braised with fried onion and garlic. Turmeric, ginger, and galangal (langkuwas) are added, and after a little bit more simmering, liquid is poured in. It is cooked for ten more minutes and served with rice or ketupat.

[Pamapa: pounded spice; in this case, two cups of charred coconut meat, two to four stalks lemon grass (sae; sereh in Indonesian), and half a dozen cloves garlic, all pounded very fine and mixed with a little oil. Galangal: dwarf ginger, called Lengkuas in Indonesian and Malay, also known as langkuwas and lengkang. Lemon grass and galangal are signature ingredients in a lot of Indonesian and South-East Asian cooking. Ketupat, Katupat: compressed rice; rice cooked in leaf packets, which causes the grains to loose their individuality and become dense.]

Properly made, it will be blue-black, with a faint hint of a greenish hue due to the turmeric.

On lieu of charred coconut chunk, one can use shredded coconut, which is more easily come by in San Francisco.


Two pounds of goat or beef, chunked on the bone.
Two cups of grated coconut.
One onion, chopped.
Three stalks of lemon grass.
Six cloves garlic.
Three inches of ginger.
Three Tsp. turmeric.
One Tsp. galangal powder.
Half Tsp. dried ginger powder (non-standard!).
Half Tsp. ground pepper.
Two to four TBS sambal ulek or Sriracha sauce.
Generous pinch sugar.
Small pinch salt.
Liquid: coconut milk, broth, and water.

Cut the lemon grass into two or three inch long segments.
Bruise them by whacking, which helps release the flavour.

Roast the coconut shreds in an iron skillet till they are a disturbingly dark hue, black even. Then grind this fine, and add two or three tablespoons of cooking oil. Rub this all over the meat, which you have washed very well to remove all traces of blood.

Fry the onion golden, add the garlic and ginger, fry a bit more. Add the meat and lemon grass, cook till very fragrant, four or five minutes. Add the powdered spices and sugar, plus the sambal or Sriracha sauce, stir to distribute over heat. Let it gently seethe on low for a few minutes, stir to prevent it scorching.

Add the liquid -- about two cups each of water, broth, and coconut milk -- and raise to a boil. Turn low, and simmer for about ten minutes.
Some whole red chilies can be thrown on top.
It can eaten as soup, or served alongside rice.

Coconut milk is not necessary, and often left out. The amount of liquid is variable, and depends on your own preference. If you are making it soupy, increase the quantity of charred coconut, spices, and chili.
If more stewy, decrease.

In the traditional recipe, chunks of fresh coconut meat are charred over flames till they are easy to pound. That is rather hard to manage here, so instead I utilize shredded coconut, precisely like what is commonly made into serundeng.

Note that turmeric and galangal are used fresh in South-East Asia, but are hard to find in anything other than powdered form in the West.

Originally posted here:

Friday, August 1, 2014


[Rode kool met varkens koteletten]

Four pork chops; salted, peppered, floured.
Half a head of red cabbage, shredded.
One large onion, sliced thinly.
One or two apples, cored and sliced.
Some slivered ginger.
One Tsp. caraway seeds.
Quarter Tsp. ground cinnamon.

One cup or more of beer.
One and a half TBS sugar.
Juice of one or two lemons.

[Beer: use Anchor Steam, or a decent dark ale.]

Saute the onion, ginger, and caraway till golden. Add the apple and sugar, and let it sweat on low heat for ten minutes. Add the shredded cabbage, the lemon juice, cinnamon, and optionally a pinch of salt, then cover and put on the back burner for ten minutes with heat-absorber. Splash with half of the beer, and cook for half an hour.

While the cabbage is stewing in its juices, fry the pork chops on both sides, then seethe and deglaze with the remaining beer.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

After both the cabbage and the beer have been dealt with, decant the now softened cabbage to a clay pot or casserole, place the pork chops on top, cover, and set in the oven for an hour.
Make sure that there is plenty of moisture in the pot.

Serve with parsleyed potatoes or rice.

There will be enough for four people.

Originally here: