Monday, January 23, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Homemade Chinese Style Pork Jerky aka bak kwa

 For us bak kwa is not just CNY snack, it's everyday staple. Love it with rice or congee. Thanks a billion to Sonia from Nasi Lemak Lover me and hubby could stop being  smugglers of bak kwa and risked being deported. :) The recipe seemed simple enough yet yielded amazing result.

Recipe (some measurements converted for US households)
1 lb minced pork (at least with 10% fat)
1/2 cup sugar

1tbsp light soy sauce

1/2tbsp Chinese rice wine

1/2tbsp fish sauce

1tbsp oyster sauce

1tsp dark caramel sauce

1/8tsp Chinese five spices powder

A dash of Pepper

1/2tsp-3/4tsp salt or to taste

2tbsp honey

Lulu's notes :
We didn't use those striked out ingredients but instead used about 1 tbs cayenne pepper to make the spicy version.


1. Put all ingredients in a big bowl and start mixing them with a pair of chopsticks. Blend and stir the mixture in one direction until the meat becomes gluey . Store in the fridge for several hours.

2. Spread the marinated minced pork thinly onto the baking tray (using fingers to spread).

3. Bake at pre-heated oven at 320F for 20mins Remove from oven. Increase the oven temperature to 340F.

4. Wait to slightly cool, cut into your desired size and shape using scissor, knife or pizza cutter, place them in the same baking tray.

5. Grill (top heat only) one side at 340F for 10mins, remove from oven, flip over another side, wait oven back to 340F and grill for 7mins or until golden brown with slight burnt.

6. Once done, let it cool and enjoy!

**you may store Bak Kwa (at stage 4) in the freezer for later consume. Defrost and grill (stage 5) before serve. It will be even taste perfect if you charcoal grill it. Adjust your oven temperature accordingly, you know your oven better !!

Additonal notes from Lulu:
We added extra step by finishing it off on the gas bbq grill.  
Spreading the minced over baking tray
Finished product - cooling off stage.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Indonesian style pineapple filled cookies

In Indonesia we call them kue nastar. This cookie is usually one of the staple for Chinese New Year. Growing up my mom made them quite a few times but honestly the ones she made were not as good as the bought ones. Later on she stopped making them altogether. Living in US made me appreciate some of stuffs I took for granted. Now when I miss this cookie (and also other snacks) I just have to try to make them myself.

The first attemp came out very flaky and melted in mouth but they looked horrible due to lack of flour to hold the butter together. Second attempt - slightly better. Third attempt came out best so far.

edited (01/26/2012 after third attempts)

Filing :
1 pineapple. Grated.
Strain the juice out. Pour the pineapple into a small sauce pan over a medium heat. Stir until all of the liquid is gone. Season with sugar to taste. It takes about 3/4 cup of sugar for mine since the pineapple I got was pretty tangy. One medium to large size pineapple yielded about one cup of pineapple filling. Get the filling prepared one day ahead so it has time to dried out a bit overnight. It will make it less watery when filled in the dough later on.

Dough :
2 3 stick butter - room temperature
1 3 cups all purpose flour
2 4 tbs sugar
2 4 tbs milk powder

Method :
Using a mixer, beat sugar and butter on low speed until mixed well. Put in the dry ingredients and mix well.

Using your fingers, grab the dough enough to make a ball about the size of quarter. Shape the dough to form a small ball. Using your thumb press down on the ball to make a shape of small bowl. Then slowly with your fingers, shape the press down area to make it wider so it will be able to contain pineapple filing.

Use a small spoon or a chopstick, pick some pineapple and drop it into the rounded area of the small ball dough. Pinch around the dough to close up the ball and shape it back to a rounded ball. Place it onto a tray covered with parchment paper.
I put too much pineapple filling here. Don't put so much because it will overflowed and harder to pinch close later on.

When all done, make egg wash out of one egg yolk. Using a brush, brush the ready made ball with the egg wash. Drop the tray in the oven preheated to 280F 310F. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

yield : 40-45 cookies.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Baking Kuih Sapit

Depends on where you come from, this snack has different aliases. In Indonesia, we call them kue semprong, the Malaysian call them by kuih kapit and the Bruneian call them kuih sapit. The English translation for all those is love letter.

Hubby loves them as part of Chinese New Year tradition so I try to find them here. But none of them tasted like back home. A couple of years back I got a krumkake maker to try to imitate but they came out not thin enough so they became soggy pretty quick. Last year I came across a friend who has kuih sapit mold so I borrowed them last week to try making our own kuih.

Find the recipe here.
kuih sapit molds

Tips for using the mold :
-Preheat the mold on medium heat on your stove top. Try one tiny spoon on the mold. You want it to be hot enough that it sizzles when the batter touches the mold. But not too hot until it burns as soon as it gets on the mold.
-Put your mold over the batter bowl and laddle the batter onto the mold and let the excess drip back into the bowl.
-It's best to recruit an assistant. One person will watch the molds and the other could help roll the dough once it's out of the mold or scraping excess dough of the mold.
preheating the mold

Finally we could enjoy them..
As always, practices makes perfect. I burnt quite a few and undercooked a bunch before figuring out what works best with those molds. So, never give up and have fun !

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Marukai Supermarket - Cupertino

This supermarket has been opened for a couple of years by now. Only recently we discovered they served a varieties of Japanese style cooked food. From tray of sushi roll, gyoza, stir fry noodle all the way to grilled octopus. Recently we stopped by there to grab our lunch. We chose a tray of sushi roll with combination of shrim sushi, unagi, spicy tuna, etc. And then we found a bowl of colorful edibles and picked that one as well.

The bowl felt pretty heavy for its size. The printed label said "Rainbow Poki Don". When we opened the cover, we could see green seaweed, chunk of tuna, sliced of salmon, cubes of eggs and also chopped cucumber. The heaviness of the bowl came from the rice that packed the bottom of the bowl. As we dug into the rice and we could taste different texture of all the ingredients that made up the bowl.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pacific Catch - San Francisco

Ever since our office dinner last time at Pacific Catch, I know that I'd be back one day. And the chance came last weekend. We planned to go to the Campbell location but I remember that they have a few San Francisco locations. And it turned out that one of them was around the corner from Golden Gate Park. What a coincidence.

We had a late lunch there around 3 pm. The place didn't look big from outside but when we were finally seated I looked around and it's a lot bigger inside than it seemed.

Pacific Ceviche Trio
Their crab feast was still on so I got the crab melt and hubby got the trio appetizer. He let me chose for him which I did since I was sure he'd like the Pacific Ceviche trio. The trio appetizer consisted of Baja shrimp ceviche, Hawaiian poke and Peruvian ceviche. They were served on different chips - tortilla chips, potato chips and strip of wonton chips. They gave different taste and also texture when dipped into the ceviche. Of all those three, the least favorable was the Hawaiian poke. For some reason it was too salty for our taste buds. I could imagine it would taste way better served on a bowl of rice.

Crab melt
My crab melt was made of ciabatta bread, gruyere cheese, chopped celery with mayo and of course crab meat. Yum.. It was served with pickled cauliflower with one choice of sides. Pick from regular fries, spicy fries, sweet potato fries or salad. I chose salad as my side since I imagine the crab melt would be all crispy. I need something cool to go better with the crab melt.

Pacific Catch
1200 9th Ave, San Francisco
(415) 504-6905

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Texas Police Discover New Way to Deal with Troubled Teenager

Beware boys and girls of Texas. Don't get yourself in trouble with the police or you get deported to Columbia.

This whole thing happened when the 15 year old Texas girl who was deported to Columbia claimed to be a Columbian woman named Tika Lanay Cortez. The grandmother of the 15 year old blamed the police for not doing more to identify her. The Columbian Government gave her a Columbian citizenship the moment she arrived. So everybody messed up in my opinion.

But think about it, it's not a bad idea after all. It could easily solve our problems here in California since our prisons seemed to be overflowed. Maybe we should start sending them to Columbia.

Monday, January 2, 2012

California Academy of Sciences - Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Source : Wikipedia
This new location was reopened in 2008 after being remodeled. We tried to visit it during one of the free days a couple of years ago but failed to go in due to the long line. Check the website for the free days opportunity but make sure to be there really early. Or sign up as members and you have special member hours to explore the museum.

Giraffe exhibit
Once we went in we straight away went to pick up the free pass for the planetarium show. It has only one show each hour so if you miss it you'd have to wait another hour. The one it's showing right now was "Life:  A Cosmic Story". The six projectors that were used made you feel like the images were alive. But personally I think the documentary was too technical.

Albino alligator
From the planetarium we paid a visit to the albino alligator in the swamp area. The alligator was so pale and so not real. If it wasn't moving when we were there I would have thought it was a plastic decoy. The opening area where the alligator was resting is part of the big swamp area which could also be viewed when we went down to the aquarium.

Source : California Academy of Sciences website
The aquarium was also a nice place to view so many different shapes and color fishes and other ocean creatures. Another exhibit that was also impressive was the rainforests of the world. It started at the level 1 and goes up to level 3. Visitors were first 'quarantined' in a small contained area before allowed into the rainforest exhibit. As soon as you walk in, you could feel the temperature was humid and warm. It was around 74F and 91% humidity. Towards the level 3 we were greeted by roaming butterflies. It was cool to see the butterflies flew so close to us. A lot of them too. To exit the rainforest, we took the elevator down to level 1. But we were warned before we entered the elevator to check our surrounding and make sure no butterflies happened to stick to us and get into the elevator.

Our last exhibit before we left for the day was the living roof. The museum roof was covered with green areas of plants and grass with round glass window that could open to let air in. The green roof keeps the building cool during hot days and warmer during winter time.

California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Dr
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 95118
(415) 379-8000