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Hakka Stir Fry Taro Dumpling “Suan Pan Zi” (客家炒算盤子)

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We love taro a lot and we were thinking to make the Pork Belly with Taro which Eric wanted to eat all these while. But it requires too much of work and then it was often put aside. While I was researching about the dish, I stumbled across this long forgotten Hakka recipe Stir Fry Taro Dumpling or Abacus Beads “Suan Pan Zi”(客家炒算盤子). I was so excited as I didn’t have this for years. So I have decided to give the recipe a try. Obviously Pork Belly with Taro was put aside again.

Since my father side is Hakka, that’s why I know of and have tried this dish. We often get to eat various traditional Hakka dishes whenever we go back to “Semenyih”, our old home town (老家) in Malaysia. My uncle is a great cook and he will always prepare a big meal, like 8-10 dishes sometimes double the dishes because we have so many relatives visiting.

In Chinese the dish is called 炒算盤子 “Chao Suan Pan Zi”, literally means Stir Fry Abacus Beads. The taro is steamed and prepared into dough form then shaped into round balls resembling the beads on the Chinese Abacus, an old calculating tool before calculator.

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Chinese Arrowroot Soup (粉葛湯)

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The Chinese Arrowroot Soup (粉葛湯), many people may not have heard of or taste of arrowroot or the soup. The Arrowroot is a type of root plant similar to yucca, taro or potato root plants. So you can find it in the produce sections with the potato, yucca or taro. However the arrowroot is harder in texture and it is extensively starchy than potato. When it is cut up, it has patterns on surface that looks like the ages of a tree trunk.

The arrowroot is high in protein and fiber which is very beneficial to our body. Since the arrowroot is very fulfilling, sometimes we will make good old pot of soup as substitution of our meals as well. I like to drink the soup more than eating the arrowroot actually as the soup is really sweet and tasty. We cook the soup by adding in seafood ingredients such as dried oysters and dried squids, this makes the soup so refreshing sweet with the natural sweetness from dried seafood. You can omit if you don’t like seafood, just add in more pork ribs or pork bones.

For more information of arrowroot, search in wikipedia.



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Stuffed Minced Pork with Bitter Melon (蒸苦瓜釀肉)

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Eric forwarded me an email with even more bitter gourd or bitter melon recipes. We are really not big fans, however it’s summer time, the weather is getting really hot. We know bitter melon is definitely one of the vegetables that could help to cool down your internal body heat. In fact it is very beneficial to your liver and stomach digestion, as well as high level of vitamin C. My coworker even taught me to blend bitter melon juice with honey for a nice cooling drink which is pretty good. I was thinking to make the drink but Eric doesn’t like it, so instead I tried one of the recipe he requested, which is the Steamed Stuffed Minced Pork with Bitter Melon (蒸苦瓜釀肉).

This recipe is similar to one of the Chinese Hakka recipe of Stuffed Tofu and other vegetables (釀豆腐), except this recipe uses only minced pork and it is steamed to cook. Basically this is an easy recipe, just mix and marinate the minced pork, then stuff it into the melon pieces and steam. The bitter melon are crisp, bitter yet so refreshing with just the natural sweet broth from the minced pork itself, no other seasoning is added.  If you like, you can always make a dipping sauce with soy sauce or soy sauce paste, sugar and few drips of sesame oil, add some chili and minced garlic if desired.

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Steamed Tofu with Pork Ribs (豆腐蒸排骨)

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I was looking for some easy recipes that don’t require a lot of efforts and works, maybe even some magical spells will make the food ready by itself in no time. Enough of imagination. The truth is it’s summer and fun time, I just got lazy to cook :p.  But I found some recipes that would help out — steaming using a rice cooker or on the stove.  Bah, this is just an easy way to cook the food and you can be off to do your stuff. In fact there are many recipes that can be cooked by using the rice cooker, which it is an efficient cooking style for more nutritious and healthy meals.

Steamed tofu with pork ribs provides you an excellent source of calcium and protein. Plus steaming makes it less oily and super fresh, the sweet broth absorbs the nature juiciness from the pork.  You can steam it with your rice cooker, or on stove top. Preferably for 30 up to 40 minutes, then the pork ribs will be much softer and tender.

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Pan-fried Char Siu / Char Siew (煎叉燒)

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In Malaysia, Char Siu (or Char Siew), as known as Chinese-flavored barbecued meat (typically pork), can be found in most Chinese roasted meat (shao la, 燒腊) stalls along with other roasted meats like duck, chicken and pork. Normally, these mouthwatering roasted meats are displayed in front of the stalls’ window to attract the customers and it is always hard to prevent myself from not buying some when I see them especially the char siu, my big time favorite.

In Los Angeles, it is not too hard to spot on a siu mei (燒味) eatery, which specializes in meat dishes like char siu, soy sauce chicken, roasted duck, white cut chicken, roasted pork etc . There are few good ones around. Therefore I never think of cooking the char siu because I can just grab it easily and I always assume it is too complicated to be made. Char siu literally means “fork roast”. The pork meat is being skewered with long fork and placed in a covered oven or over a grill fire to be roasted. Pork belly is the usually best to used for making char siu because it is much more tenderness and juicy.

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