Monday, May 27, 2013

Shanghainese Broad Bean Mash 豆瓣酥

Broad Bean Mash may not look the most delectable, but it is one of the richest, most scrumptious and satisfying cold appetizers you may find on a Shanghainese menu. Good news for those who are not into cold appetizers, this dish may be served hot as well!

Unfortunately, not many restaurants in Hong Kong serve this dish. I don't understand this because unlike the yellow mung bean bricks which I have introduced to you in the previous post, broad bean mash is not at all difficult or time-consuming to make! So, I decided to experiment and reproduce this family-favorite.

Let me warn you in advance. Spoon after spoon, you can easily finish a whole pack of broad beans and still feel like you haven't had enough. But do try to restrain yourself from over-eating this because soon after 5 minutes, the bloating will sink in and hit you and cause great straining at waist! ARGHH!


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Yellow Mung Bean Bricks 豌豆黃

These delicate yellow bricks, born humble, accidentally made their way up to the royal lips one day in the Qing Dynasty a hundred years ago.

Given the very specific timing, I am regrettably unable to start my story with our familiar "Once upon a time", but I can assure you that this story has our usual happy ending. So, one evening, Empress Dowager Ci Xi was enjoying some peace and quiet when suddenly loud, repeated sounds of the gong hit in outside the thick walls of the palace. The disturbance brought a frown to Ci Xi's thin, moon-shaped brows, so before questioned, her trusted servant quickly explained that it was the sound made by a peasant selling treats. Ci Xi then summoned the peasant, who frantically offered her a bite of the little mung bean bricks he made for a living. Just one bite, Ci Xi was utterly impressed and made the peasant the dessert chef of the Imperial Kitchen. These delicate yellow bricks since then became Ci Xi's particular favourite. 

Now, you may be wondering- what is so magical about this little mung bean brick that managed to please the woman who was the most difficult to please?! These yellow bricks are sweet and refreshing. Delicate and light, but unlike jellies, there is this fine graininess that gives the dessert a bit of body and form this smooth, silky texture that just melts and silently slips away like sand when pressed against your tongue.

This imperial dessert is widely available in Beijing. You can find them in almost all Chinese eateries, both cheap and expensive. Unfortunately, it it not so in Hong Kong. My family and I all loveeeeee this dessert and we had experienced numerous counts of disappointment over the menus before its absence eventually became a matter of fact to us. So, my success in making these yellow mung bean bricks is the most recent big thing in the house! 

Now I understand why these adorable bricks are not widely available- it takes so so sooooo much time to get them to the table! Soaking the beans requires 4 hours, simmering the beans requires almost an hour, and freezing the bricks requires another hour! BUT, the actual cooking time that requires you to actively work in the kitchen is in fact, quite little! I think around 30 minutes will do. So, have fun turning your kitchen imperial!