Sunday, 24 June 2012

Not One Hungry Lass But Two Hungry Girls - Two Hungry Girls Supperclub

It has been a while now since I've came to learn about the Two Hungry Girls Supperclub. It is run by two lovely girls - Leigh, a fellow Singaporean who also happened to be a baking supremos (she used to work as a pastry chef in the Michelin-starred Sketch) and now run her own company Craft Cakes and Shu, who is a fellow passionate foodie , hailed all the way from Malaysia and now based in London (Our first encounter was over a conversation of mutual love of salted fish and what to do with it!) Beside being wildly passionate about food, she also dedicate her time with the charity organisation Action Against Hunger. After numerous time of missed opportunities (their tickets sell out F-A-S-T!), I managed to grab myself a seating the day before the supper club due to a last minute cancelled.

On the day I arrived, I was immediately led to the dining area and offered a glass of refreshing Ice Longan Spiked Tea by one of the amiable helper on the day Rosie. The dining table were beautifully laid out with floral runner and the low-lit lighting created a soothing and cosy ambiance. Being the first diner to arrive, I was able to take a few quick shots of the kitchen scene before the manic began, but saying that, the kitchen looked immaculately laid out, just like the dining room. Having previously worked in a professional kitchen obviously helped the pair to plan and organise the dinner with immaculate precision.

The rest of the diners arrived soon after and we were then led to the garden to have a little mingling session and being so well prepared in advance, even the two hungry girls join in the little getting to know each other. And in case you are wondering, I did peeped into the kitchen and there ain't no little elves helping them with the cooking.

We then went back to the dining room and duly sat down for the meal. The feast began with a cold silken tofu with century egg toppings. The beancurd  was soft and delicate, the toppings contained one of my childhood fear - century egg - duck egg which have been matured in volcanic ash thus giving a distinctive greenish colour and strong pungent flavour. It work perfectly here and maybe because my palate has matured over the years, I actually rather enjoyed the punchy toppings and the hint of dried shrimps paired with this beautifully.

The pork skewers arrived looking like a work of art. The skewers were in fact lemongrass that had been slit open and the well-seasoned minced pork  were encased within. The lemongrass imparted subtle aromatic fragrant to the finished dish and a very moreish delights it was.

The 5-spice Szechuan Peppercorn duck  were served alongside some fresh lettuce for use to wrapped the duck with and was a great alternative to the otherwise ambiguous peking-duck....but with much more perfumed aroma. The duck were tender and did not have that greasy feel that you normally associated with duck.

Scoop of steamed rice were offered and then it was the entrance of the mains. Slow-braised pork belly were rich and has cooked for such a long time that it simply melts in the mouth; the sambal kangkong (one of my favourite vegetable dish of all times) were spicy and had a good crunch to the bite, some of the diners felt it was too hot, but for me, it was perfect and I finished the whole plate off. The sizzling sounds of the hot oil being poured over the steamed sea bass created a sense of excitement as we waited patiently for the dish to be brought over from the kitchen. The fish  itself were beautifully cooked and the sweet and lightly salty sauce paired beautifully with the delicate flesh. It was so good the we spent a good few minutes trying to figure out what went into the sauce before we decided to get it straight from the chef's mouth.

 'Light and dark soy sauce, brown sugar and that's it! ' said Leigh.

This too, deserved a mention, one of the diner, Su-mei filleted the whole fish before our very eye with such skills that it was quite astounding. She managed to lift the bone away from the fish without ruining the beauty of the dish!

Next was the garlic chives with tofu and one of my favourite on the night, Hunanese beef. The beef was quite unique as it contain ground cumin which is a signature of Hunan cuisine. It was aromatic and spicy and due to the 'velveting' process which the girls used while cooking the beef, it's has that  tender and ultra-smooth texture which was incredible pleasing.

After the main meal, we were offered a palate cleanser  and then the Soya milk panna cotta with peach and jasmine tea sorbet which were so good it went down a treat. The sugared-coated peanuts provided it with a delectable contrasting brittleness. The second pudding of pandan ice cream sandwich and horlick sand or as I nicknamed it on the night 'Pandan On The Beach' were delicious and brought back familiar childhood flavours.

To finish, we were also offered a small petits fours treat of Matcha marshmallow, another brilliant demonstration of the fantastic patisserie skills from Leigh. The evening was entertaining with great company from the lovely diners and also from the amiable hosting of the two hungry girls as well as their helpers on the night.

For more information on the Two Hungry Girls Supperclub, click here to visit the Edible Experience website for their future dates.

Read more about Two Hungry Girls Supper - Sunday, 17th June 2012 on Edible Experiences

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Sticky Situation - Cantonese Lor Mei Fan 糯米飯 (Steamed Glutinous Rice)

I love glutinous rice. It has that rich nuttiness that you don't get with normal rice. I think it is underused and undervalued simply because most people don't know how to cook it. When not prepared correctly, it will turned into a mushy mess which is not very nice at all. But all it need is a few washes and rinse to get rid of any excess starch which minimise the stickiness consistency when cooked. And the best way to cook it is by steaming as this produces a lighter and fluffier texture.

Lor Mei Fan (glutinous rice) is a common dim sum dish that showcase this sticky grains to it's full potential. The rice absorbed the flavours of the dried shrimps and mushroom when cooked and yield this delectable flavours which is rather comforting. Quite often, you get a few pieces of chicken thrown into the mix and the final dish is known as Lor Mei Gai 糯米雞 (literally translated as glutinous rice chicken). In a dim sum restaurant, these are normally served wrapped in sheets of lotus leaves. The lotus leaves not only impart an additional flavour to the finished dish but also make for a grand presentation.

Seeing that it's Dragon Boat Festival or Duan Wu Jie 端午節 today, I have decided to substitute the lotus leaves with some bamboo leaves instead. And due to time constraint, I did not wrapped them up like a Ba Zhang 肉粽 ( a pyramid shaped glutinous rice parcel that  are normally eaten during the festival). Just like any self-respecting Singaporean who will no doubt be seen munching their way through some steaming pyramid parcel to celebrate this day, I too, shall be devouring this delicious concoction in the name of Duanwu Festival.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

4-5 sheet of bamboo leaves, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes before use
600g glutinous rice
5 dried shiitake mushroom, reconstituted in warm water and cut into strips
100g hae bee (dried shrimps), soaked in warm water for 1 hour and drained 
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp sugar
seas salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
350ml water
2 red chillies, cut into rings, for garnish
2 spring onions, cut into rings, for garnish
3 tbsp fried shallots (shop bought is absolutely fine)
a few sprigs of coriander, for garnish (optional)


Wash the glutinous rice, place in large bowl of cold water and leave to soak overnight or a minimum of 6 hours. After this time, drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok until smoking. Add the garlic, dried shrimps and mushroom and stir fry for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the glutinous rice, then the dark and light soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, salt, black pepper and sesame oil. Add the water and stir to mix thoroughly. Remove the wok from heat.

Transfer the glutinous rice mixture to a steamer. (I have pre-lined the bamboo steamer with some soaked bamboo leaves but you can line it with either a clean towel or clingfilm if you like.) Steam for 40 minutes over simmering water and remove and transfer to a serving dish, garnished with spring onions, chillies, fried shallots and a few sprigs of coriander.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Ground Hog Day - +65/Plusivefive Supper Club (This Piggy Is One Year Old)

'Can you guys slice the heads into half and then remove the face skin?'

'So you need heads halving, brains out and rest of head taking off the bone?'

'But face intact. Do-able?'

That must have read like a Jack the ripper one man monologue and possible most bizarre thing you've ever come across if you are on the twittersphere. But you haven't met Goz yet, the crazy dude who run Plusivefive Supper Club, in my mind the only place to go to for some serious authentic Singapore grub this side of the pond.

About a week ago, I was invited along to celebrate their first birthday. And to mark this triumphant day, he planned a 'Pig Day' whereby all part of the swine will be used to cook in all the dishes, a true and true nose-to-tail dining experience. This was also made extra memorable as it was all done for a good cause, all proceedings on the night went to the Action Against Hunger charity in collaboration with the equally brilliant @hungryfemale who co-run the fantastic Two Hungry Girls Supper Club.

This is not an ordinary night as everyone who was invited were friends and supporter of the Plusivefive Supper Club so I felt very honoured to be included amongst this group of elites.  The front of house was manned by the lovely Christine once again who also contributed to making the mantou for the belly pork buns as well as the little piglets dough figurines that greeted us on the table. Sous-chef on the night was Shuhan of the awesome Mummy, I Can Cook blog.

The food served on the night were imaginative.  The little piggy did not die in vain as it was all for the greater good, our ravenous tummies. The crackling went into the Chwee Kueh (steamed rice cakes); the tails and trotters went into a 3-day sweet vinegared dish; the ears were cooked with tofu; the lard went into the yam puddings and even Shuhan's delectable coffee ribs from her blog  made a guest appearance.

A few more guest dishes graced the table. One made from trotters stewed in fermented red wine (a typical Hakka dish) by Wen of Edible Experience and crunchy rose biscuits (also known as beehive biscuits) from Su-lin of Tamarind and Thyme.

It was a good 3 hours of fun gathering and pork feasting in every true sense of the word. I can safely said that everyone who was present were all pigged out by the end of the night.

Of course, I cannot end the post without mentioning the next Plusivefive Supper Club event on the 30th June. This is especially exciting for me as I will be collaborating with Goz (a.k.a. Spongebob Squarepant) for my debut supper club entitled 'One Night In The Peranakan Palace'.The tickets unfortunately are now all sold out (in just under two days of going live!!). If you are interested in the event, follow the link to put your name down onto the waiting list or watch this space as more might be on the pipeline soon.

For now.....Oink! Oink!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Have Your Burger And Eat It! - MEATmarket, London WC2

Imagine catching an episode of Man Vs Food, you know the one where the host, Adam Richman stormed into some dingy greasy spoon diner time after time , challenging himself to devour burger of ginormous proportion or some truly fiery hot-as-you-dare spicy wings.Yes that's the one! Now look at the surroundings and all the the waiters/waitresses serving the food. You got the image? Good. Now transport this vision of  retro decor and breath easy dining environment and place it on the mezzanine in the most heavily tourist populated part of London - Covent garden. Welcome to the MEATmarket.

This is the new restaurant by the same team behind the well hyped up MEATLiquor which I must confessed that I have never been to. The idea of standing in a long queue waiting for hours just for some gourmet burgers really put me off the idea of ever attempting these premises. This new venture by Yianni Papoutsisis has yet to attain that hype so unlike the former, has less of a queue. So it was with this in mind that I thought I ought to seize the opportunity and pay this place a visit and judge the burger for myself to see if it's truly worth the wait?

Occupying a corridor walkway of Jubilee market in Covent garden, perhaps not the easiest of location to find. I wrestled my way through the buzzing tourist traps where I was offered some LONDON ROCKS t-shirts, I HEART LONDON baseball caps etc. It took me a while before I found the set of staircase which bought me up to MEATmarket. Which I eventually realised that I could have approached via the tavistock street entrance instead, thus avoiding all the hassles.

Climbing up the stairs, there were all manner of light boxes on the walls from the previous occupiers but have been slightly revamped by simply stamping MEATmarket logos onto them. A massive red and white light box installation greeted me as I landed on the first floor. The entire stretch of the dining area was further adorned by numerous tongue 'n' cheek neon signs. Even the toilets are cheekily labelled 'Chicks' and 'Dicks'. Yes, you've got it, the decor is pure sleaze and filth and the scene is set just as it intended to be - a free and easy, hassle-free grab and go experience - and it certainly felt like it. If the ubiquitous Maccy 'D do not have a family-friendly PG rating, this is exactly how I imagine it would be.

After deliberating in front of the giant menu board for a moment or two, I went straight to the counter, manned by an amiable girl to place my orders. Parted with £19.50 of my money, I was immediately handed over one of the hard beige and was told to take a seat and wait for my name to be announced.

In less than 5 minutes or so,  from the time it took for me to walk away from the counter, find a seat, and sit myself comfortably down, the waitress approaches with the rest of my orders. Talk about fast food. What greeted me was the signature Black Palace double patties burger (£7.50), 4 poppaz (£4) and a potion of fries (£3).

Unravelling the wrapper , I was immediately confronted with what can only be described as a slimy and glossy looking juicy burger. A blanket of melted cheese enclosed the beef patties and sandwiched between shiny looking bun, glistening under the bright lights. This is what you normally only get to see on the Man Vs Food show - a real American-style dirty burger. It looks ferociously calories-packed and yet mightily tempting.  Tonnes of meat juice dribble down my chin as I bit into it. This was a messy affair  and definitely a guilty pleasure. The meat was flavoursome and perfectly cooked with a hint of pink in the middle; the gherkin were sharp and tangy; the onions were sweet from the caramelisation and even with the strong black pepper kick in the foreground, all the contrasting flavours came through. It was without a doubt, a good burger. However, along with the runny juices, there were also hidden layer of oily streaks which , although tasty, was definitely not for the faint-hearted. I'm sure my cholesterol level went up a notch after devouring this fearsome, sloppy beast.

The poppaz were tiny morsel of crispy cheesy centred delights. The chopped jalepenõ gave it the much welcomed spicy contrast that cut through the richness. There were so good and moreish that just four little bite-size portions were simply not enough.

The fries were top notch and thoroughly enjoyable. The Hard beige were creamy milkshake unlike anything that I have ever tasted (mind you, I'm not a massive milkshake fan). It was laden with double shots of Woodford Reserve Bourbon and sweet maple syrup thrown into the mix, it was like a grownup vanilla milkshake, perfect for a wind-down session after a long day at work (that is if you have enough strength to inhale the thick concoction up that straw)

Although I did enjoyed the meal, at the end of the day, Junk food is just Junk food, even if it's cooked and served with panache. I will not be rushing to MEATliquor and queue for two hours anytime soon.

The Deck
Jubilee Market Hall
Tavistock Street
Covent Garden

MEATmarket on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Five Spice Wonder - Nyonya Ngoh Hiang 五香 (Fried Prawn, Pork and Crab Rolls)

Just like the Popiah that I've mention in my previous post, Ngoh Hiang (literally mean five fragrant) is another greatly under appreciated Singapore hawker food. There are many takes on this and even the Cantonese have their version which can be found in any dim sum restaurant. In Malaysia, this tasty meat rolls is known as Loh Bak (which mean marinated meat).

Ngoh Hiang  is so named due to the usage of five spice seasoning that went into marinating the filling which give the meat roll its signature aromatic fragrance. However,  these days it has also come to be used to describe a collective of fried snacks available in Singapore. Unlike the Teochew or Hokkien version, the Nyonya Ngor Hiang do not contain any yam or flour so it's packed full of meaty protein and less carb, so great news if you are on diet. That is if you ignore the lard that is presence in the recipe. My argument is that it does give it more flavour but of course you can always substitute it with a healthier sunflower oil. Just don't let my nan know about this.

In Singapore, this dish is commonly found in hawker stalls that sell fried prawns fritters, egg rolls, liver roll etc and is usually served alongside with fried bee hoon (rice vermicelli) for breakfast. It is not that odd to have savoury stir fried noodles for brekkie in Singapore in case you are wondering. Very often, a bowl of sweet gooey sauce in the brightest hue of pink will also be dished up on the side for you to dip the crispy rolls in. However, for home consumption, my nan always served them with some sweet flour sauce (tee chew) or kecap manis and chilli sauce instead which in my eyes, are much nicer.

And just for those of you who haven't read my last post......I have included another photo of my dinner on the night, the Yin-Yang Spring rolls - Popiah and Ngor Hiang both loving made and demolished with great gusto. So good!

Ingredients (makes about 6)

2 sheets of fresh or dried beancurd/tofu skin (fupei),
sunflower oil, for deep-frying
1 tbsp cornflour, dissovled in 1 tbsp water

For the filling:
400g pork belly, minced
150g raw prawns, shelled and coarsely chopped
100g water chestnuts, finely diced
100g cooked crab meat
2 spring onions, cut into rings
1 medium free-range egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp five spice powder
1 tbsp lard or sunflower oil 
freshly ground black pepper

Sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) and chilli sauce, to serve


Mix all the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl thoroughly and set aside to marinade for 30 minutes.

If using dried bean curd skin, reconstitute them by submerging it in a dish of warm water for 30 seconds. Remove and gently wipe dry with a kitchen towel. Cut the skin into rectangles 6in x 7 in (15cm x 18cm) and set aside.

Lay the bean curd skin on a work surface. Place 3 tablespoon of filling along the length of the skin, leaving a small margins at each end. Roll the skin over to enclosed the filling, tucking in the ends as you go along to form a cigar shape. Smear a little corn flour paste along the seam and press to seal. Repeat with the remaining skins and filling.

Place the rolls slightly apart in a lightly greased steamer and steam over simmering water for 10 minutes. Remove and transfer to a lightly oiled plate and leave to cool.

Heat the oil in a deep pan or wok until very hot, about 190ºC and deep fry the rolls 2-3 batches until golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain on paper towel. Slice into bite-size pieces and serve with the dipping sauce.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

The Unsung Spring Roll - Singapore Nyonya Popiah 薄饼 (Fresh Egg Vegetable Rolls)

I'm sure whenever I mention the word spring roll, it will be the crispy deep fried varieties that you get from Chinese takeaway that sprung to mind. It is now so ambiguous that even supermarket stock them in their ready meal or freezer section. These are all very well and obviously over the years, these crunchy vegetables-filled parcels have become symbolic of typical Chinese cooking but what is on every Singaporean's mind whenever spring rolls are mentioned are altogether a very different thing.

Popiah or Poh Piah is what we Singaporean considered as the goto spring roll of choice. Instead of having them deep fried, you get fresh egg pancake rolls, filled with delicious vegetables and meat mixtures. They are incredibly fresh and truly delicious and moreish. It is a shame though as it seems to be completely beyond the radar of any mentions of the best of Singapore hawker food. This is understandable as unlike Hainanese Chicken Rice, Char Kway Teow or Chilli Crab etc, it is not a complete meal due to its size portion. Even back in Singapore, we rarely have it on its own and very often it will the playing second fiddle to a main dish. It's more of a quick snack really.

The making of the pancake itself is an art form that can only be attained through years of experience and lots of practise. It is made with a mixture of wheat flour, water, salt and egg. These ingredients are mix to form a soft elastic dough. This ball of dough is then rolled onto a hot steel pan and quickly lifted off again. This leave behind a thin layer of dough stuck to the pan which will then be cooked and that produced the right thickness for the rolling. I was always fascinated by the hawker vendors who did this with such dexterity and speed and can only ever aspired to be the same, but alas, try as I might, it is harder than it looked. And so I had to resort to an easier method for now, until the day I become a popiah skin master. The easier way is to dilute the flour mixture to a pouring consistency and spoon in the mixture with a ladle, just like making a traditional pancake. Less intimidating and much, much simpler.

The filling is what set this apart from the Teochew/Hokkien version. A Nyonya popiah always contained julienned bangkuang (also known as Jicama or yam bean) and bamboo shoots. These are never shredded (shock horror my nan will be if she see that). Each element had to be painstakingly cut into batons by hand to provide the right consistency and texture with each mouthful. The ratio of the bangkuang to bamboo shoots too plays a very important part, there should always be at least twice as many bamboo shoots. In fact, according to my nan, the more the merrier. Another key difference is that the vegetable are cooked in taucheo (a typical Nyonya condiment) and a prawn-pork broth. I have opted to do without the stock here as I have made a vegetables version but if you are making a meat version*, just boil the pork and prawn shells in some water for 30 minutes, strain and use it in place of the water in the recipe.

On the day I was making this delectable treat, I had also made some Ngoh Hiang (a five-spice meat roll which I will write about in my next post) and thus unknowingly, dishes out a Yin-Yang spring rolls for a double whammy of home comforts.....and it was indeed a very welcomed nolstagic meal.

Ingredients (makes about 10-12)

For the Popiah skins:
200g wheat flour
pinch of salt
5 medium free-range eggs
350ml water
2 tbsp sunflower oil

For the Filling:
500g bamboo shoots, drained and julienned
1 bangkuang (yam bean or Jicama), roughly 300g or substitute with daikon/mooli/turnip, peeled and julienned
1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tbsp taucheo (fermented soy bean paste)
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt
400ml water (or stock if you are making a meat version, see above*)

For the Toppings:
8 garlic cloves, crushed or pound to a paste
200g red chillies, pound into paste (alternatively use any good quality shop-bought chili paste)
Kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
Lettuce leaves
1 small cucumber, peeled, deseeded and julienned
1 large handful of bean sprouts , lightly blanched
4 medium free-rage eggs, lightly beaten and fried into omelette and thinly sliced
fried garlic (available for any good oriental supermarket)
fried shallots (available for any good oriental supermarket)
a small handful of fresh coriander
(Note: cooked crab meat, pork and prawns can also be used for a non-vegetarian version)


To make the popiah skin, beat the eggs together in a large bowl and gradually sift in the flour and salt. Mix well before adding the water and oil and stir to form a light batter, just enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon.

Heat a lightly greased large non-stick pan over  low heat. Remove from heat and pour a ladleful of batter onto it. Swirl and tilt the pan to spread the batter evenly to form a thin layer. (This will need to be thinner than a normal crepe)

Return the pan to the low heat and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the popiah skin is cooked and the edges curl away from the side. Peel the skin away from the pan with your fingers and transfer onto a plate. Repeat the process with the rest of the batter, stirring every time before use as the flour tend to sink to the bottom. Keep each skin separated with a kitchen paper and cover the popiah skins with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out.

To make the filling, heat the oil in a a wok or a pan until smoking. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds, until fragrant and add the fermented soy bean paste. Cook for 1 minute and add the yam bean or turnip, bamboo shoots, carrots, dark soy sauce, sugar and salt. Stir-fry for another 2 minute before adding the water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetable are tender and cooked. Transfer to a large serving bowl and leave to cool.

To assemble the popiah. Lay a sheet of popiah skin onto a work surface, spread about half a teaspoon of kecap manis along with a little bit of crushed garlic and chilli paste onto a corner of the popiah.

Add a piece of lettuce, then the cucumber, bean sprouts, egg omelette and a heaped spoonful go the filling. Sprinkle the fried garlic and shallots and top with a few sprigs of coriander.

Fold one side of the skin tightly over the filling, the fold the left and then the right side toward the centre to enclosed the filling. Roll up to form a cigar shaped with the seam side down. Trim off any excess if you want for a neater presentation. Slice the roll using a sharp knife and serve along with some kecap manis and chilli sauce for dipping.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Bun Time For Dim Sum - Char Siu Bao 叉燒包 (Steamed BBQ Pork Bun)

Bao, which means bun is one of the classic staple in any yum cha session. No bonafide dim sum enthusiast will even dare to complete a dim sum brunch without ordering at least a tray of Bao. And Char Siu Bao is the most popular amongst them.

Dim sum are served for breakfast or lunch but never for dinner. The word literally mean to gladden the heart and the dishes are just that, serves in tiny portions for a light enjoyment rather that a full on big meal. These are normally accompanied by a nice pot of tea too, hence the term yum cha, which means drink tea in Cantonese. In a traditional dim sum restaurant, the waiter/waitress pushed a serving cart through the dining area and diners were encouraged to stop them as they were near and select individual steaming bamboo baskets containing  delectable morsel treats that took their fancy. The waiter/waitress will then noted down the order on a bill which was left on the table and these will all be tally up at the end of the meal.

I love Char Siu Bao and last Sunday, I decided  to have go at making them. The preparations for this started a few days beforehand as I need to marinate the pork tenderloin and then roast the Char Siu the night before using my own recipe from a while back. The following day, I started by making the Chinese bread dough or Mantou 饅頭. This is slightly different to a traditional dough as it contained noticeably more sugar which made it slightly sweeter and the addition of baking powder gave it the extra rise and fluffiness when cooked. These dough are then filled with sweet barbecue pork and then steamed. After a while, the dough swell up nicely and turned into these light, spongy savoury rolls.

The best way to enjoy these delights is to eat it straight from the steamer while it's still piping hot. First, peel off the parchment paper square, then break the bun into half to reveal the steaming char siu and take a well deserved bite into the sweet filled bun. My nan would even goes as far as to peel off the skin of the buns too as she put it 'you don't know who's been touching it'. But however you decide to eat it, this is definitely one of the most comforting Cantonese dim sum delight there is.

In case you are wondering about the colour of the buns being different to those served in the restaurant, that is because they used bleached flour which gave them a whiter exterior.

Ingredients: (makes about 6 large buns or 12 small buns)

For the yeast dough:
250ml warm water
3 tbsp caster sugar
400g strong white bread flour
2 tsp dried yeast
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp sunflower oil
300g char siu (barbecue pork), finely diced
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp Chinese Shaoxing rice wine
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp roasted sesame oil

6 squares of greaseproof paper (3in x 3in)


For the yeast dough, dissolve the sugar in the water. Sift the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the yeast, then gradually pour in the water and oil. Using you hand to bring the mixture together to form a rough dough. (note: add the water a bit at a time, you might not need all of it)

Turn the mixture put onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth and set aside to prove for 2-3 hours in a warm place.

After this time, the dough should have at least double in size. Punch it back down to get rid of the air and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Flatten the dough to form a well in the centre.Add the baking powder in the well and gather up the edges to enclose the baking powder. Lightly knead the dough for a few minutes to evenly distribute the baking powder. Set aside while you prepare the filling.

For the filling, heat up the oil in a wok or pan until smoking. Add the diced pork, oyster sauce, rice wine, soy sauce, sugar and water and cook for 1 minute. Add the sesame oil and immediately remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Divide the dough into 6 or 12 portions depending on the size of the buns you are making. Press the dough portion into circle and place 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle (1 teaspoon if you are making smaller buns) . Bring the sides in to enclosed the filling and pinch the top together. Put the bun on a greased square of greaseproof paper. Repeat until all the dough and filling are used up.

Place the buns into some bamboo steamer, making sure to space them out as they will swell in sizes. If you steamer is not big enough, steam then bun three at a time. Cover and steam the bun over simmering water for 15 minutes, until the buns are well risen and the fillings are hot. Serves immediately.


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