Sticky Rice Stuffed Eggplant

Sticky Rice Stuffed Eggplant
Sticky Rice Stuffed Eggplant
Sticky Rice Stuffed Eggplant
Sticky Rice Stuffed Eggplant
Sticky Rice Stuffed Eggplant
Sticky Rice Stuffed Eggplant
Sticky Rice Stuffed Eggplant
Sticky Rice Stuffed Eggplant

The month of October is always such a weird time. While the rest of the country is cozying up in their chunky sweaters with a big warm pot of stew on the stove, it's hot as heck in San Francisco. Is it raining and dreary where you are? I want a chilly rainy afternoon so bad! October is our one month of summer, what people call an Indian Summer. You can go out all day without a jacket! GASP. During the months of July through September it's actually really chilly and foggy. Those are the months where my pho intake spikes. I so desperately want to get into the Autumn spirit, but the fact that it's 80 degrees and incredibly sunny doesn't really make me want to turn on the oven or sweat my face off stirring a chickpea stew for hours (ooooo, that does sound good to me though). The only way I even know it's Fall is either through Instagram, PSL ads at Starbucks, and by visiting Trader Joe's. The air is heavy with the scent of cinnamon broom sticks, the squash display is literally overflowing, and every single snack item is pumpkin spice flavored. I'll try to push through the heat of the oven and repress my desires to make popsicles every day... unless you really want some popsicle recipes. You tell me!

This sticky rice stuffed eggplant situation is definitely worth turning on the oven though! One of my favorite dishes to get at dim sum (I have a lot) is sticky rice! There are typically two versions. One version is wrapped in a lotus leaf (Lo Mai Gai) and steamed as a packet, the lotus leaf imparts a really lovely herbal flavor to the rice. I want to try making that one day! The other version is sticky rice stuffed into a glass bowl (Lo Mai Fon) and inverted to make a perfect dome of rice. That one is a favorite among the cousins at the table. Both are similar, but also very different in flavor and texture.

I took inspiration from the latter version and paired it with one of my favorite autumn produce staples. The mighty eggplant! You can get regular eggplants pretty much all year round, but this season is when they really start to sing and you find the most beautiful varieties at the farmer's markets. I picked up some magical fairytale eggplants at the market this weekend to stuff with sticky rice. The eggplants are hollowed out and roasted in the oven until they get nice and tender. The eggplant innards are chopped up and cooked up with shiitake mushrooms and Chinese sausage before getting mixed in with the cooked sticky rice. Chinese sausage is a pretty key ingredient in this recipe. If you haven't had Chinese sausage or lap ceung before, it is cured pork sausage that's both salty and sweet. I grew up not really liking it because I was a somewhat picky eater, but I've since grown to love it! 

Once you've mixed together the sticky rice, you can technically stop and eat it now. BUT the magic is when you stuff the eggplant and put it back into the oven to crisp up. I highly recommend allowing some of the extra rice to fall off the eggplant and land on the baking tray because those bits are going to be the best part. Imagine insanely crispy and crunchy rice and pork bits that are reminiscence of those coveted crispy corner pieces of lasagna or baked pasta. Aaaaahhh drooling just thinking about it.


Sticky Rice Stuffed Eggplant

serves 2 - 4

Materials:

2 medium sized eggplants
1 cup glutinous sticky rice
1.5 cups water
8 shiitake mushrooms
2 Chinese sausages
1/3 cup chopped green onions (whites and greens) + more for garnish
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp + 2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
olive oil

Steps:

  1. Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Trim the stem off your eggplants. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. With a sharp paring knife, cut on the cut face an outline about 1/2” from the edge of eggplant, be careful not to cut all the way through. Cut and score the flesh of the eggplant. Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant and set aside. This part is always a little tough, but you’ll get through it! Once the eggplants have been hollowed out, Place on a baking tray, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes until tender.

  2. While the eggplants are roasting, prepare your sticky rice filling. Wash rice 2-3 times until the water runs somewhat clear. Drain rinsing water. Cook rice in a rice cooker with 1 1/2 cups of water until done.

  3. Dice up remaining eggplant into bite sized pieces, set aside. Dice up shiitake mushrooms into 1/2” cubes, included stems, and set aside. Slice the Chinese sausage at an angle into 1/4” slices and set aside.

  4. Heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Once hot add in mushrooms and eggplant. Season with a bit of salt and a light dash of white pepper. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add in 1/4 cup of water and cover with a lid. Allow vegetables to steam for 4 minutes covered. Remove lid and let the water evaporate. Add in a little bit more oil and add in Chinese sausage and green onions. Sauté for another 5 minutes. Add in cooked sticky rice. Season with 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp white pepper, and 2 tbsp oyster sauce. Give it a good mix until everything is evenly incorporated. Take the sticky rice filling off the heat.

  5. Remove the eggplants from the oven. Crank up the heat to 425 degrees. Carefully stuff the eggplants with sticky rice. If you have some extra sticky rice, you can either eat it straight or place the rice directly on the tray for some extra crispy bits! Place the stuffed eggplants back in the oven and bake for 10 minutes until crisp.

  6. Allow the eggplants to cool and then serve!

Pan Seared Cheung Fun Noodle Rolls

Pan Seared Cheung Noodle Rolls
Pan Seared Cheung Fun Noodle Rolls
Pan Seared Cheung Fun Noodle Rolls

Long time no see! Two weekends ago I spent the whole time working on a bunch of recipes for you guys and each one of them failed miserably. MIS.ER.AB.LY. So since then I’ve taken a little break from the kitchen, more specifically from baking. Every once in a while I need to step away from the blog and just make delicious food that doesn’t need to be photo ready or meticulously styled. This little break came at the perfect time too, because a bunch of Reuben’s college friends have been in town for the last week for a wedding! I felt present and totally ready to talk to strangers, eat a lot of good food, and drink moderately… sort of. For 5 nights straight we stayed out to at least 10 pm (omg) and I had at least one alcoholic drink (omggg). My inner 80 year old felt like she was going to keel over. But I survived! For a few hours on Sunday I wasn’t so sure about that.

A 2 week break is sort of enough for me though. I'm itching to pick up my camera again and practice the intricate dumpling folds I've been obsessing over the last few weeks! Now that it's Fall, I have some cozy and comforting recipes in the pipeline. Think noodles, dumplings, curries, sweet potatoes, and maybe a warm spiced cake thrown in there. Yes, I realize that I make noodles and dumplings all year round...

Let's talk noods. Today I'm sharing with you one of my favorite and easiest noodle recipes! My dad would make this dish for my brother and I growing up as an after school or mid-day snack. At the time it seemed like it only took my dad 10 seconds to whip this dish up. It's a real quick recipe! If you haven't had cheung fun before and are a huge fan of chewy textured food, you're in for the a treat! Cheung fun are steamed rice noodles rolled up into thick and chewy noodle rolls. Sometimes they are filled with shrimp, pork, or veggies. As the plain food eating child of the 90s, I always opted for the plain cheung fun. No fillings. Just noodle. Light on the soy sauce.

You can dress up cheung fun in so many different ways, but I'm sharing a pretty simple preparation that you would see as a street snack in Hong Kong. The noodle rolls are chopped up into bite sized pieces, crisped up in a pan, and then tossed in a sweet and salty brown sauce! Grab a toothpick and you got yourself a classic on the go snack! Why are american street snacks this good?

Does a sweet and salty brown sauce sound mysterious to you? It's actually pretty simple and you can use a variation of this sauce in a whole slew of noodle dishes or stir-frys. My sweet and salty brown sauce is a mix of oyster sauce, hoisin, sriracha, sugar, salt and pepper. That's it! You have to use Lee Kum Kee oyster sauce and hoisin though. Especially the oyster sauce. My Mom has been using Lee Kum Kee premium oyster sauce throughout my whole life. She literally puts it in everything! She grew up seeing their ads all over Hong Kong, so she may or may not have fan-girled a little when I told her I was going to be working on a few recipes for them!

Next time you stop in your local Asian grocery store make sure to pick up a bottle of Lee Kum Kee's Premium Oyster Sauce and some cheung fun to whip yourself up this plate of deliciousness! 

Thank you Lee Kum Kee for sponsoring this post!


Pan Seared Cheung Fun Noodle Rolls

serves 2-4

Materials :

1lb fresh rice noodle rolls (cheung fun)
Olive oil
2 tbsp Lee Kum Kee oyster sauce
1 tbsp Lee Kum Kee hoisin sauce + extra for garnish
1 tsp Sriracha
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
chopped green onions - for garnish
sesame seeds - for garnish

Steps :

  1. If your rice noodle rolls have been refrigerated, microwave them for 90 seconds with a wet paper towel until they are soft and pliable. If the noodle rolls are still at room temperature, you’re ready to go! Cut noodles into 1” pieces.

  2. Heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Place the noodle rolls in the hot skillet and sear on one side for 3 minutes until crisp. Flip the noodle rolls over and sear for another 3 minutes. Repeat in batches if necessary. Set noodle rolls aside.

  3. In a large bowl combine oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, Sriracha, sugar, and pepper, Give it a good mix. Add in seared noodle rolls and toss until evenly coated.

  4. Top with green onions and sesame seeds and serve!

Chinese Beef Roast Bao

Chinese Beef Roast Bao
Chinese Beef Roast Bao

Can we fast forward to the weekend already??? It’s only Tuesday? How can this be?! The last few weeks of real work (I’m an interior designer by day remember?) have been a little crazy and will continue to be crazy for the foreseeable future. I’m working on what will eventually be a really awesome hotel in San Francisco. I need to keep telling myself that it’s going to be coolest thing that my friends and family can actually go to and that the months of intense deadlines and bulldozing through creative blocks will all be worth it! Last week was particularly straining because I was also making a wedding cake and Reuben’s parent’s were in town. LOTS of things going on.

Have you made a wedding cake before? Do you have less than 4 square feet of counter surface and a small freezer? It’s like really hard isn’t?! I definitely pushed my kitchen to it’s limits this past week. I went through 9 pounds of butter, a giant bag of flour, a dozen eggs, and enough sugar and cocoa powder that a cloud of sweet chocolate dust hung in the air. I’ve never made a tiered cake before, let alone a 3 tiered wedding cake to feed 100 people. It was sheer luck that the 3 cake tiers were able to fit into my teeny tiny freezer. It was so tight… I had about 1/4” to spare! I was super nervous the entire time… was the cake going to be moist enough? Will the cake topple over? How am I going to decorate this thing?! Lots of uncertainty. Yet, somehow it got done and made it Oakland in one piece! If you’re a thrill seeker, try transporting a wedding cake across the Bay Bridge. I’m probably not going to make a wedding cake for a looooong time. Probably not until Reuben and I get married hehehe.

We dropped off the cake in Oakland on Saturday morning and I FINALLY felt like I could relax a little bit and fully enjoy the weekend with Reuben’s parents! It felt so glorious. We spent the afternoon at the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens. It’s so lovely there. You’ll love it if you’re a lover of plants and sunny weather. If you’re not, I feel like you’re probably reading the wrong blog. The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing at home, cleaning, watching football, putting together IKEA furniture, and eating Reuben’s incredible pizzas. I can’t even explain to you how good Reuben’s pizzas are. I wanted to share the recipe here, but it’s just so good that we want to keep it an Alt-Cho family secrete recipe and save it for when we open up a brewery/pizza shop/dumpling shop/bakery. It sounds great, right?!

Writing this makes me realize how busy I’ve been the last few weeks and how I haven’t really been able to call my mom : ( I’ll probably be making a late night stress induced call this week. Momma Cho actually helped me developed this recipe! I’ve teamed up with my mom and with Lee Kum Kee to celebrate their 130th anniversary! It’s sort of a perfect collaboration because my mom has been using Lee Kum Kee oyster sauce since before I was even born! Oyster sauce is her secret ingredient for EVERYTHING. She puts it in vegetables, stir fries, soups, pasta salad, the spaghetti sauce she made through out the 90s and early 00s (lol) , and her famous beef roast! Her beef roast is one of my favorite meals. It’s rich and so so comforting. Like with a lot of her recipes, she takes a classic american pot roast recipe but puts her own asian twist on it with the addition of oyster sauce, soy sauce, ginger, and green onions. So I took my mom’s roast recipe and stuck in between a fluffy bao bun! I love bao-ifying things. They taste great and look like really fun mini sandwiches to share with your friends and family!

I’m sharing the recipe as part of Lee Kum Kee’s 130th anniversary recipe contest! So if you like the recipe or think the bao look super tasty you can vote for it here! YOU can also submit a recipe and have a chance of winning some $$$! Imagine all the dumplings and bun you could buy : )


Chinese Beef Roast Bao

serves 6

materials:

3-4lb boneless chuck roast­
1 tsp white pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp + ¼ cup Lee Kum Kee oyster sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt
2 cups boiling water
3” piece ginger thinly sliced
8 garlic cloves halved
½ cup chopped green onions (whites and greens) – plus extra for garnish
½ cup Lee Kum Kee dark soy sauce
bao buns - homemade or store bought
Cucumbers – thinly sliced for garnish
Radishes – thinly sliced for garnish

steps:

  1. Place chuck roast in a large mixing bowl. Add in white pepper, salt, olive oil, 2 tbsp oyster sauce, and cornstarch. Massage in the marinade, making sure the whole roast is covered. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and allow the meat to marinate for at least an hour.

  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

  3. Heat up a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add in 3 tbsp of oil. Once oil is heated, sear the roast on all sides until browned using a sturdy pair of tongs. Each side should only take 2-3 minutes. Once all side are seared, turn off heat.

  4. Add in 2 cups of boiling water, ¼ cup oyster sauce, ginger, garlic, green onions, and dark soy sauce sauce. Give is all a good mix. Cover with a lid and place in the oven. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Carefully transfer the roast onto a cutting board and allow to rest for 30-45 minutes.

  5. While the roast is resting, make your sauce. Pour the roast liquid from the Dutch oven into a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add in a pinch of salt and white pepper to taste. Mix together ¼ cup water with 2 tsp cornstarch until dissolved. Add to sauce mixture and whisk until sauce is thickened. Set aside for serving.

  6. Slice the beef roast into slices. Place a few small slices into a bao slider with a few thin slices of cucumbers and radishes. Pour on a bit of sauce, sprinkle some green onions, and enjoy!

Thanks, Lee Kum Kee for sponsoring this post!

Cheeseburger Shen Jian Bao

Cheeseburger Shen Jian Bao
Cheeseburger Shen Jian Bao
Cheeseburger Shen Jian Bao
DSC07302.jpg
Cheeseburger Shen Jian Bao
Cheeseburger Shen Jian Bao
Cheeseburger Shen Jian Bao
Cheeseburger Shen Jian Bao
Cheeseburger Shen Jian Bao

Happy Tuesday! How was your weekend? Did you watch a lot of sports?? I feel like our TV has been constantly playing football or football recaps for the last week. Reuben probably disagrees with that and thinks we haven’t watched nearly enough football since football season just started. I did get to sneak in about 75% of an episode of Say Yes to the Dress though! Hehehe…

Reuben’s parents are in town so we spent the weekend eating our favorite foods and seeing a beach or two. Whenever we go to the coast, I’m always reminded of how nice it is to live in California. Then the moment we start driving back to the city, I immediately feel the desire to move back to Ohio. On Saturday there was a little Harvest Moon Festival on Clement St. in our neighborhood and it was the sweetest thing! It was small and not trendy at all, but it was perfect and perfectly Asian. There were a lot of tents focused on public service (which oddly felt Asian?) and a few crappy craft stalls., BUT there was a tent selling Dragon Beard Candy and warm mochi covered with peanuts and sesame seeds. OMGGGGG so tasty! That tent alone made the whole event worth it. I loved how the whole community was out on a sunny afternoon enjoying the neighborhood and buying mooncakes! If you haven’t had a mooncake before, this is definitely the time to pick one up! The festival also made for prime dumpling watching. That’s how Reuben and I refer to creeping on cute asian babies.

DID SOMEONE SAY DUMPLING? The last time I shared a dumpling recipe was in MAY! May! That is waaaaay too long to go without dumplings. Shen Jian Bao are sort of a cross between a dumpling and a bun. I would describe them as pan-fried steamed buns. The dough is more like a traditional dumpling dough, but it has the addition of yeast. They are seared first and then steamed to get their characteristic crispy bottoms. So they are sort of like potsticker-ed buns. BUMPLINGS. I sort of like the sound of that. I’ve been wanting to make a cheeseburger dumpling/bun for forever! I thought I would make them in the form of a potstickers but shen jian bao seemed to make more sense because I like the concept of the bun encapsulating the burger patty inside. The filling is comprised of juicy tender ground beef, caramelized onions, extra sharp cheddar for that little bite, and a bit of ketchup for tang. The dough is soft and fluffy with a nice crisp from the pan fried bottom. These are essentially mini cheeseburger sliders, but made cuter via dumpling format!


Cheeseburger Shen Jian Bao

makes 16 large dumplings

dough:

2 cups AP flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water

filling:

1lb ground beef
1/2 large onion diced
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup grated extra sharp cheddar
3 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
2 tsp cornstarch

2 tbsp olive oil for frying (split in half if working in 2 batches)
2/3 cup water for steaming (split in half if working in 2 batches)

steps:

  1. To make your dough, combine flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Make a well in the center and slowly pour in your water while gradually mixing the flour in the water with your other hand. Once all the water has been mixed in, knead with your hands for 5 minutes until you have a smooth and elastic dough. Place dough in a clean bowl and cover with a wet kitchen towel. Allow to rest for 1 hour in a warm place.

  2. While your dough is resting, make your filling. Add oil to a skillet and heat over medium heat. Add diced onions and cook until softened and slightly caramelized. Should take about 10 minutes over medium heat. Remove onions from heat and place in a small bowl to cool.

  3. Combine beef, cheese, cooked onions, ketchup, salt, pepper, and cornstarch. Mix with your hands until everything is evenly combined. Set aside.

  4. Remove dough from the bowl and give it a quick knead. Divide the dough into 16 equal portions. Roll out your portioned dough into a 4” circle. Place a heaping tbsp of filling into the center. Pinch the bun closed in a counterclockwise direction using your thumb and index finger. Or you can just pinch the whole thing closed in one motions. Place on a flour dusted tray and repeat with remaining bun.

  5. Heat up 1 tbsp of oil in a large pan with a fitted lid over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add 8 buns into the pan pinch side up. It’s okay if they touch. Fry in the pan for 2 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy. Reduce the heat slightly to medium and carefully pour in 1/3 cup of water. It will spatter! Quickly cover the pan with a lid and steam the buns until the water has evaporated, about 8-9 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn! Remove buns from the pan and repeat frying/steaming method with remaining buns.

  6. Enjoy immediately with ketchup and or soy sauce!

Crab Salad Tostadas

Crab Salad Tostadas
Crab Salad Tostadas
Crab Salad Tostadas
Crab Salad Tostadas
Crab Salad Tostadas
Crab Salad Tostadas
Crab Salad Tostadas

Hi, friends! How is Fall treating you? Isn't it crazy how after a long Labor Day weekend spent outdoors, gardening, cleaning, sleeping in, bbq-ing, and fantasy footballing, that it all of a sudden feels like pumpkin spice and sweater season?? San Francisco doesn't really have seasons, except our Indian Summer should be starting soon... I don't know though. This past week has been chilly and the sun is leaving us way too early in the day. This seasonal change does allow me to breakout all the cozy blanket sweaters I've been antsy to wear again! I'll take any opportunity to wear a blanket out in public. The autumnal equinox is not until September 22nd though! So we still technically have a few more days of Summer! That is plenty of time to squeeze in a couple more tomato toasts and to buy all the pluots at the farmer's market. Have you had a pluot?! I feel like I'm always talking about them on Instagram, but I'm seriously obsessed. It's the best fruit and one of the things I miss most about summer. Sorry, I know this is not a pluot blog.

Should we talk about crab salad? When I was a little 90s kid, my mom would make crab salad with imitation crab meat and serve it up with buttery club crackers and it was the most amazing snack! I can't remember the last time my mom actually made crab salad. But I'm going to call her and tell her she needs to soon. It's so good! I don't know if imitation crab meat was just super popular in the 90s and early 00s and then sort of disappeared from the culinary limelight in recent time, but it needs to come back out! When we were in Mexico City a few weeks back, we saw surimi (fancy way of saying imitation crab) salad tostadas at a whole bunch of places. We didn't actually order it, only because I felt like we need to be adventurous in Mexico and order things like octopus. At the tostada stalls, they would display the crab salad as a mini mountain of crab. It was so glorious and temping... I couldn't shake it from my head. So when we got home I wanted to try recreating the concept but use the nostalgic flavors I remember from the 90s.

It turns out crab salad is stupid easy to make. All it consists of is crab, mayo, onions, salt and pepper. It really is that simple. I wanted to make my life more difficult though, so I made mayo from scratch! Making your mayo makes such a huge difference in this recipe! I added a bit of lemon juice and grated in fresh garlic, which just takes it up a level. It's totally fine if you just use store bought mayo! Just make sure it is fresh. The crab salad is super creamy with a slight crunch from the onions. Then it's plops on top of a super crispy fried tortilla with a slice of avocado. The combo of everything makes for such a great textural contrast and flavor symphony. It's like an elevated crab salad and club cracker snack. Gosh, I could have ate a million of these tostadas! If our indian summer does show up, I'll definitely be whipping up another full tray of these. Thankfully I have blanket sweaters to hide under : ) 

Thanks a ton to Louis Kemp for sponsoring this post and rekindling my love of crab salad - I'm obessed!


Crab Salad Tostadas

makes 12 small tostadas - serves 4

materials:

2 8oz packages of Louis Kemp Flake Imitation Crab
1/2 cup mayonnaise (link to homemade recipe)
3 tbsp finely diced red onion + extra for garnish
2 green onion stalks chopped (white and green parts) + extra for garnish
1/4 tsp salt - adjust per taste, amount varies depending on mayo used
dash of white pepper
dash of cayenne
1 avocado halved and sliced
12 small corn tortillas
canola oil for frying

limes for garnish
microgreens or cilantro for garnish  

steps:

1. Place crab meat in a medium bowl. Break up the flakes into smaller pieces with your hands. Add in mayonnaise, red onion, and green onions. Give it a good mix. Season with salt, white pepper, and cayenne. Give it another good mix and then cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

2. While the crab salad is chilling, fry up your tortillas. Pour canola oil into a skillet, enough that you have about an inch of oil. Heat over medium high heat. You want it hot enough that the tortillas sizzle immediately as they hit the oil. Place tortillas in the hot oil and fry up for 1 minute on each side. Place fried tortillas on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

3. Assemble your tostadas. Place a scoop of crab salad on a tostada. Place a slice of avocado on top. Garnish with some red onions, green onions and micro greens. Squeeze a bit of lime juice on top and enjoy!

Crab Salad Tostadas