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!