Char char char siu pork

Today was the end of a 4 day Easter weekend. The weather was rainy and we wanted something delicious to cheer us up. More importantly, I wanted leftovers to take into work the next day. We defrosted a piece of pork loin we previously purchased (with a yellow sticker i.e. reduced). James figured that by having me present when cooking, it would make the char siu pork more authentic. This recipe is relatively easy and the taste pay off to effort is high.

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Ingredients (4 portions)

  • 500 g tenderloin pork
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 0.5 tsp five spice powder
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp rice wine (we used cooking sake as we didn’t have this to hand)
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 0.5 tsp sesame oil
  • 0.5 tsp worcester sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp hoi sin sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • few drops red food colouring

Method

  1. Put the all ingredients except pork in a saucepan and bring to simmer for a minute, set aside and let it cool.
  2. Place the pork and marinade in a tupperware and place in the fridge a few hours, preferably overnight.
  3. Take the pork out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.
  4. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with foil and place a rack on top (rack is recommended but not critical).
  5. Remove pork from the marinade (save the marinade for basting).
  6. Place the pork on the rack and tuck the thin end of the the tenderloin underneath so the whole piece is roughly the same thickness.
  7. Roast for 25 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145 – 160F/ 65 – 70C. Around halfway through roasting, baste with the marinade.
  8. When the pork is cooked, baste it by pouring on the marinade and use a blow torch to get a charred and caramelised effect. Do this on side of the pork quite a few times then turn around and do on the other side.
  9. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
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Stage 1 – the marinade
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Stage 2 – roasting the pork
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Stage 3 – blow torching the glaze

A multitude of meatballs

Another weekend, another lazy day. It started off well as James decided to make crepes for breakfast although we didn’t have any lemon juice so it was plain sugar crepes for me. Later on, we got to enjoy some matcha with a nice sweet from Minato Kitchen that we had brought the previous day, these sweets are small for £1.50 however they taste amazing and the fruit flavour doesn’t taste artificial at all.

To continue the food trend, we decided to make meatballs as we have none left in the freezer. We took a trip to Tesco’s and were ready to make a big batch.

Mighty meatballs of deliciousness
Mighty meatballs of deliciousness

Ingredients (makes 60 small meatballs)

Sauce

  • 3 small onions
  • 6-8 cloves garlic (we like it very garlicky)
  • 1 chilli
  • Bottle of red wine (essential and even we don’t cheap out on this)
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x 400g tin whole peeled tomatoes
  • Beef stock (2 cubes)
  • Basil (a few generous teaspoons)
  • Oregano (also a few generous teaspoons)
  • Carrots (5-6 sticks, grated)

Meatballs

  • 3 tbsp fine white breadcrumbs
  • Milk (enough to fully soak breadcrumbs)
  • Garlic (a few cloves)
  • 500 g minced beef (15% fat)
  • 500 g minced pork (5% fat)
  • Garlic powder (1 tsp)
  • Onion powder (1 tsp)
  • Paprika (1 tbsp)
  • Parsley (a few generous teaspoons)
  • Parmesan (to taste)
  • Flour, to dust

Method

  1. Put breadcrumbs into a bowl, pour just enough milk to cover and leave to soak.
  2. To make the tomato sauce, heat oil in a pan and fry the onion, garlic and chilli until soft.
  3. Splosh in a fair amount of the wine, then add all the tomatoes along with the basil, oregano, carrots and some seasoning. Let the sauce simmer to reduce and thicken and then add beef stock.
  4. While the tomato sauce is cooking, prepare the meatballs. Put the minced beef and pork into a large bowl and add the garlic, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and parmesan. Squeeze the breadcrumbs to remove excess milk, then add to the bowl. Mix well, using your hands, and season with salt and pepper. (Don’t scrunch it up too much or you will lose the texture and the meatballs will be too dense.)
  5. Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
  6. Shape the mixture into balls, the size of a thumb (James’ thumb), and dust in flour. Use the first one as a standard measure (i.e. make sure all others are vaguely the same size as it).
  7. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. When hot, fry the meatballs, in batches, until golden.
  8. Deglaze using the remaining wine.
  9. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce . Bake in the oven for an hour or so.
  10. Serve with spaghetti
Step 1 - soak breadcrumbs in milk
Step 1 – soak breadcrumbs in milk
Make the sauce
Make the sauce
Handy tip - we use pre-grated frozen parmesan
Handy tip – grate all the parmesan then store it in the freezer
Meatball conveyor belt production
Meatball conveyor belt production

Matcha cupcakes

After a leisurely lie in and a hearty breakfast involving porridge and home-grown raspberries, we decided to make matcha cupcakes for a dessert and treat feast we will be attending later today.

I had already decided that we would make matcha cupcakes as we still somehow have matcha left over from our travels.

Matcha cupcakes mmmmmmm
Matcha cupcakes mmmmmmm

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes)

Cupcake

  • 110g butter  softened at room temperature
  • 110g golden caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 110g self raising flour
  • 1-2 tbsp milk

Icing

  • 200g icing sugar
  • a few grams of matcha (for colour and some flavour)
  • 2-3 tbsp water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and prepare 12-hole cake tin with paper cases.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale.
  3. Beat in the eggs a little at a time and stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. Fold in the flour, adding a little milk until the mixture is of a dropping consistency. Put the mixture into the paper cases until they are half full.
  5. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes (13 in our example), or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean.
  6. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
  7. Sieve icing sugar and matcha into a big bowl. Add a little water at a time until a thick spreading consistency. Put onto cupcakes and add sprinkles to decorate.
    Butter it up
    Butter it up
    The creaming begins, luckily with have a kmix to do it for us
    The creaming begins, luckily with have a kmix to do it for us
    Flour and most importantly, matcha
    Flour and most importantly, matcha
    An ice cream scoop makes it easy to put it into the cases
    An ice cream scoop makes it easy to put it into the cases

    Easy icing (we found buttercream didn't work so well with these cupcakes)
    Easy icing (we found buttercream didn’t work so well with these cupcakes)

Chocolate mousse and decisions

Today I took a midweek day off work and tested out the KMix’s ability at making chocolate mousse and it was a success.

Chocolate mousse - light and airy
Chocolate mousse – light and airy

The ingredients were (for 3/4 people):

  • 85g dark chocolate (we used 72% cooking chocolate although next time we will upgrade to a nicer bar)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • a tiny portion of coffee granules (we used 1/4 tsp and it was too much)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 50g 0%-fat Greek yogurt
  • raspberries to decorate

It was incredibly quick and easy to make, we simply:

  1. Put chocolate, cocoa powder, coffee and vanilla with 1.5 tbsp cold water into a large bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir and once melted, remove from the heat.
  2. The melted chocolate mix will be quite thick, stir in 1.5 tbsp boiling water and the chocolate will immediately thin down and become silky smooth. Leave to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk the egg whites to fairly soft peaks (Kmix level 4 for a minute or so), then whisk in the sugar until thick and glossy.
  4. Beat the yogurt into the cooled chocolate quickly (otherwise the chocolate can separate).
  5. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mix using a large metal spoon, then very gently fold in the rest of the whites until they are evenly mixed in (be careful not to over-mix or you will lose the volume of the mousse).
  6. Spoon into 4 small cups and chill for a couple of hours, or overnight.
  7. Top with a few raspberries before serving (it will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge). James decided to add granola to his for extra crunch. [Editors note: Granola recipe coming soon when we remember]

Whilst waiting for the chocolate mousse to set, we tried to go to a new restaurant on King’s street that served food on ‘boats’. Unfortunately we got there and it wasn’t open so I finally got to try Eat Tokyo, delicious food at really reasonable prices. We also checked out the ‘Decision’ exhibition by Carsten Holler at the Hayward Gallery. This involved walking through a dark corridor, fake gliding/flying, and a fun bumpy slide to exit. Our favourite part of the exhibit were glasses which flipped our view of the world upside down, it was very confusing and amusing.

Fake gliding/flying along the Southbank, this was 'art'
Fake gliding/flying along the Southbank, this was ‘art’

Dango recipe

Today was the day of dango. We had all the ingredients to make it in our cupboards from a previous dango experiment although I might have thrown away the piece of paper with the various recipes we tried and blind tasted…

We remembered the website that we used previously and it was only once all the dry ingredients were put together with the water that we realised we were following the recipe for the dango which previously scored the lowest and actually needed a recipe with silken tofu. I wanted to start again however James decided it was better to correct our mistake by improvising so in went some tofu and then extra glutinous rice flour. In the end, our recipe ended up being:

For the dango:

  • 100g rice flour
  • 100g + 60g glutinous rice flour
  • 1 tbsp katakuriko
  • 100g silken tofu
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 150ml warm water
  • 7 bamboo skewers

For the green tea sauce:

  • 1 tsp matcha
  • 30g sugar
  • 30ml water

If you’re familiar with dango then you’ll notice that we have substituted some of the ingredients from proper Japanese recipes as Japanese flour is quite expensive and the flour from a Chinese supermarket is about a quarter of the price (from our previous experiment we found that the Japanese flour did produce a slightly better dango however the small increase in enjoyment wasn’t worth the large price increase).

The rice flour should be joshinko, the glutinous rice flour should be shiratamako, and we included the katakuriko (Japanese potato starch) as we understand the shiratamako is a mixture of mochiko (a type of glutinous rice flour) and potato starch.

On top of that, the traditional sauce is mitarashi (a combination of sweet and salty which I’m not too keen on) but we tried one with green tea sauce on the Philosopher’s walk (in Kyoto) and it was the best dango ever so we’ve tried to recreate it ourselves.

The ingredients for dango, it should include silken tofu which we only realised once we started making it. The matcha was from our travels and we will be sad when it runs out.
The ingredients for dango, the picture should include silken tofu however we only realised after we started making it. The matcha was from our travels and we will be sad when it runs out.

The process for this non-authentic dango is simple:

  1. Mix all the dango ingredients together in a large bowl
  2. Knead until you get the consistency of your earlobe
  3. Roll into balls, we made medium sized balls which were 25g each
  4. Put the dango into a bath of boiling water and wait for them to float for 1-2 minutes before transferring them to a cold water bath
  5. Grill them at 150 degrees celsius for 5 minutes, turn them over and grill the other side for another 5 minutes and then take out of the oven
  6.  Whilst the grilling is going on, make the green tea sauce by mixing all the ingredients together and heating on a low heat on the job until its a nice thick sauce consistency (don’t leave it on a too high heat for too long otherwise it caramalises and you’ll have to try and save it by adding hot water…)
  7. Drizzle the green tea sauce on top and it’s ready to eat
Dango making in action, notice that James is using the claw action to mix everything together as he doesn't mind getting his hands dirty.
Dango making in action, notice that James is using the claw action to mix everything together as he doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty.
Dango ready for its bath, James particularly enjoyed using the slotted spoon which is essential for this process.
Dango ready for its bath, James particularly enjoyed using the slotted spoon which is essential for this process.
The finished product with green tea sauce.
The finished product with green tea sauce.

We will make this again and next time we’ll omit the rice flour and water, we’ll get the sauce to the right consistency and may adjust the grill technique to hopefully get an even better dango.

Matcha cookies

Delicious cookies, with a matcha twist.
Delicious cookies, with a matcha twist.

I am always on the lookout for a good cookie recipe and although it doesn’t compare to my favorite super chocolate brownie cookies, it has always been tasty. I am a big fan of crisp crunchy outsides with a chewy (but not doughy) centre.

I like cookies and I like matcha … why not both?

Ingredients

  • 350g sifted plain flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 225g butter

  • 175g caster sugar

  • 175g soft brown sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 eggs

  • 350g dark/white chocolate, sliced into little cubes

  • 2 tsp matcha powder

I normally prefer dark chocolate but if you want to really taste the matcha you can go with something less overpowering like white chocolate (make sure you get something decent).

How to bake this deliciousness:

  1. Whack that oven up to 180 C (375 F for you non metric lovers)
  2. Cream the butter and both sugar together, keep at it until it becomes smooth it is hard work but worth the effort. Drizzle the vanilla extract and mix in the eggs.
  3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, matcha and salt into another bowl.
  4. Fold the flour mixture gently into the creamed butter.
  5. Mix in the tiny cubes of chocolate.
  6. Spoon out the stiff sticky mixture onto some clingfilm and roll it up into a delicious sausage shape, aim for a diameter of about 5cm. The cookies will spread to about twice the this size.
  7. Put the cookie sausages into the fridge.
  8. Resist the urge to take them out for minimum one hour!
  9. Slice them into little disks of about 1cm thickness and put onto baking paper on a tray into the oven.
  10. Wait 11 mins, do not be tempted by the delicious smells coming from the oven.
  11. When the edge of the cookie starts to brown whip them out onto a cooling rack, you don’t want all your hard work to go soggy.
  12. Enjoy!
Plonk them on a cooling rack straight away to keep them crispy.
Plonk them on a cooling rack straight away to keep them crispy.

Tortilla making

Today I ventured to Borough market with Man to get lunch, Man ended up (well he planned on) buying a tortilla press and when we got back to the flat for a tea break (with some matcha biscuits I had made earlier in the week), the idea of tortilla for dinner superseded Nando’s.

The tortilla press in action
The tortilla press in action

This task involved a trip to Tesco to get fajita ingredients and then we were off. The tortillas seemed to be relatively straight forward to make (I left that to James and Man) and I was responsible for the fillings.

Cooking in action
Cooking in action

The tortilla themselves were smaller than anticipated but still big enough for us to fill them and eat them with our hands. It was pretty tasty although next time I’ll definitely be adding more chilli.

The finished product
The finished product

I rounded off the day by seeing Jimmy Carr’s Funny Business show with Man at the Apollo, he was certainly not very politically correct but amusing.