Summer Project: Homemade Sriracha Sauce

Dollop of Sriracha Sauce

I use Sriracha sauce to provide heat to my dumpling dipping sauce. This summer I decided to make Sriracha sauce from scratch, starting with growing my own Jalapeno pepper plants. As the peppers turned bright red I picked them and froze until I had about 2.5 pounds of peppers. The recipe below made about 3 cups of Sriracha, half of which I froze and the other half I bottled and refrigerated.

To make the Sriracha:

Cut off the green stem from the peppers and place peppers, 10 cloves of garlic, 7 tablespoons of light brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of Kosher salt into a blender. Blend the ingredients until you have a finely chopped mash of peppers. I did this all in one blend and because there are no liquid ingredients this put a lot of strain on my VitaMix and caused it to overheat. So I would recommend doing the blending in two batches.

Place the mash in a glass jar with a lid and store for 5 to 7 days at room temperature letting the mash ferment. You will see bubbles start form on the side of the jar after 2 to 3 days and the mash will start to expand. Burp the jar once a day to release the gases and then mix the mash. By the 4th day after I burped the jar I could smell fermented chili peppers throughout the apartment, I understand now why odor complaints were filed against the Hoy Fong factory. So think about burping the jar outside.

After 5-7 days transfer the mash back into a blender and add 1.5 cups of distilled white vinegar and puree until completely smooth.

Pour the puree into a wire strainer set on top of a sauce pan and use a rubber spatula to press the pulp through the strainer. You want to separate the liquids and pulp from the seeds and any large pieces of chili or skin.

Bring the chili mixture to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.

Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Posted in Dipping Sauce, Recipe, Vegan, Vegan Recipe, Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Adventures in Making Bao

I tried making a multitude of bao this weekend – vegan curry beef steamed bao, red bean steamed bao, baked red bean bao and baked vegetable bao.

For all of these buns I used the dough recipe from Mary’s Test Kitchen that I used to make the baked vegan curry beef buns from a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately, Trader Joe’s was out of Impossible burger, which I used last time to make the curry beef filling, and instead I bought Joe’s vegan patty which they created to compete with Beyond and Impossible.  I followed the recipe again, using Joe’s product instead of the Impossible burger, but it was kind of nasty and I ended up throwing it out; lesson learned, stick with Impossible burger.

The sweet red bean filling was made using Adzuki beans which I boiled until tender, then mixed in sugar and then mashed.  I made the buns as directed in the Mary’s Test Kitchen recipe, and steamed half the buns in a bamboo steamer and baked the rest.  The steamed buns came out quite good, but not with the full fluffy bread consistency of dim sum BBQ pork buns that I was hoping for.  The bread was denser than I was aiming for and it is likely that I over kneaded it or over proofed.

The last bao I made was a vegetable filled baked bao with a filling made of carrots, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, onions and scallions.  For seasoning I mixed half of a BaoLong Sup Chay vegetarian instant soup cube into the moisture released from the vegetables as I sauteed them.  These cubes add a savory Vietnamese Pho style broth flavor to the vegetables, which is really excellent.  I glazed the buns with mirin and then sprinkled on Sriracha toasted sesame seeds.  The resulting veggie filled baked bao were very enjoyable.

 

 

Posted in Bao, Vegan, Vegan Recipe, Vegetarian, Veggie Dumplings | Leave a comment

T. Roots, Northampton, MA

T. Roots, a restaurant proclaiming to sell Taiwanese street food, recently opened in downtown Northampton, MA.  The menu has the expected hits of Taiwanese cuisine – oyster omelet, scallion pancakes wrapped around beef, congee and stewed pork over rice – and several Japanese dishes – various types of curry rice and Omurice.  T. Roots supposedly has a strong pedigree, the owner previously ran Taiwanese restaurants in NYC before moving to Western MA.  Maybe the restaurant is still finding its rhythm as it starts up but I was quite disappointed with my meal; the dumplings I had were bad, but the pork egg roll was decent.  I dined outside at one of the two tables in front of the restaurant, which was really pleasant.  Because of COVID all the food is being served in disposable to go containers.

Spicy Wontons that had no spice heat at all.

Pan fried pork dumplings with tough rubbery wrappers

Overcooked soup dumplings with ll their filling leaking out

The Dumplings:  The menu has a wide selection of dumplings: cream cheese wontons; spicy wontons; BBQ Pork buns; soup dumplings; pork, beef, or vegetable pan fried dumplings; pork or  vegetable steamed dumplings; sweet buns; and pork, shrimp or vegetable crystal dumplings.

Spicy Wontons – Wontons in spicy oil is one of my favorite dishes and T. Roots’ version of this dish was a big disappointment.  The pork filling of the wontons was well seasoned and tasty and the wonton wrappers were large and floppy, better to carry the sauce.  But the wontons had an uneven temperature with parts that were warm and parts that were cool, which made me think the wontons had been microwaved.  The sauce was a typical soy based dipping sauce you would expect to get with pan fried dumplings and had absolutely no spicy heat at all.

Pan Fried Pork Dumplings – The only good thing I can write about these dumplings was that they were juicy.  The filling had a metallic flavor that I associate with under cooked ginger and the wrappers had a tough rubbery texture that was unpleasant to chew.  My hypothesis is that the dumplings were pre-cooked and left to sit before being reheated for my meal, and during the sitting period the wrappers hardened.  Either that or the dough had an insanely high gluten content.

Soup Dumplings – These dumplings suffered a complete failure of execution.  The dumplings were overcooked to the point where the wrappers had all ruptured and the soup had spilled out.  The dumplings were served in a pool of soup and pork fat with pieces of wrapper floating in it.  The soup and pork tasted good, but rapidly congealed in the to go container. The dipping sauce was really odd and unpleasant.  Usually soup dumplings come with a black vinegar sauce, but the sauce I received tasted like a mix of red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar and soy sauce.  The sauce was also served in a thimble sized plastic container, so it was impossible to dip the dumplings in the sauce.

The Location: T. Roots is located on the corner of Main Street and Masonic St. in Northampton MA in the old Viva Fresh Pasta Co. location.  During the COVID-19 pandemic they are doing take-out and have 6 tables for dining outside.

Posted in Buns, Crystal Shrimp, Dim Sum, Dipping Sauce, Northampton, Pan Fried, Pork, Soup Dumpling, Wontons, Xiao Long Bao | 2 Comments

Kkaennip Jeon (Pan-fried Stuffed Perilla Leaves)

Traditional style folded Kkaennip Jeon (Aeri’s Kitchen)

This dish is a type of Korean Jeon or pancake.  Optimally this Jeon is made by folding a large perilla leaf around filling, making it reminiscent of a dumpling.  Traditionally the filling is made of beef, but for this recipe I took a vegan route.  Also the leaves on my perilla plants are not quite big enough to go the fold route, so I use two leaves and sandwiched the filling between them.  Dredging the stuffed leaves in flour and Just Egg and then pan frying them makes them slightly crispy and crunchy.  These stuffed fried leaves are sturdy enough to be dipped in sauce and make a great alternative to flour dough dumpling wrappers.  If you use a non-gluten flour or keto friendly flour this recipe could be a way to eat something close to a fried dumpling while sticking to a Keto or a gluten-free diet.

  • Perilla leaves
  • Firm tofu (1/2 block)
  • 1 small carrot diced
  • 5 or 6 button mushrooms diced
  • Scallions slivered
  • Flour
  • Just Egg
  • 1 teaspoon of Sesame oil
  • Pepper
  • small shake of India Black Kala Namak mineral salt
  1. Filling mix: Press as much water out of the tofu as possible, crumble and mix well with the slivered scallions and diced mushrooms and carrots, mix well.  Season with sesame oil and salt.
  2. Just Egg wash – mix 1/2 bottle of Just Egg with mineral salt and a teaspoon of sesame oil. The mineral salt adds a slight sulfur flavor that enhances the “eggy-ness” of Just Egg.
  3. Lay out a sesame leaf flat and place a layer of the filling mix on the leaf.  Place a second leaf on top of the filling.  Basically you are sandwiching the filling between two perilla leaves.
  4. Dredge the stuffed leaves in flour and then the Just Egg wash and then pan fry.

Posted in Recipe, Vegan, Vegan Recipe, Vegetarian, Veggie Dumplings | Leave a comment

Vegan Curry Beef Buns

Vegan Baked Curry Beef Buns

Curry spiced Impossible Burger filling

Buns risen and ready to bake

This recipe was derived from the Curry Beef Bun recipe at Mary’s Test Kitchen, but instead of using textured vegetable protein I used Impossible Burger for the filling.  I was really impressed with how these buns came out and the Impossible Burger filling was completely convincing as curry beef.  The outer surface of the buns comes out crunchy and the inner dough becomes light and fluffy.  A sprinkled Sriracha Toasted Sesame Seeds on top of the buns which provides a spiky toasted flavor.

For the Curry Impossible Burger:

  • 1/2 package (6 oz) of Impossible Burger
  • 1/3 cup cold or room temperature water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons S&B Oriental Curry Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  1. Saute onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Stir in the Impossible Burger, curry powder, salt, and chili flakes and cook while stirring for about 2 minutes. Add a tablespoon or two of water if the spices start sticking and burning.
  3. Stir the cornstarch slurry before adding it to the pan. Mix the cornstarch slurry into the cooking burger/onion/garlic and the liquid will quickly thicken.  The filling is easier to work with if all the liquid is boiled away/absorbed into the meat and the filling has fully thickened.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.

DOUGH

  • 1 cup of your favorite plant milk, I used Ripple, warmed up (105°F-115°F)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 3 tablespoons Just Egg
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for kneading)
  • Sriracha toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the Ripple milk, yeast and brown sugar. Allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes and the yeast to bloom.
  2. Stir in the Just Egg and salt.
  3. Add a half cup of flour and whisk until completely combined. repeat 1-2 times or until the mixture is too doughy to whisk. Switch to a wooden spoon or spatula and add more flour in the same manner until the dough has formed enough to knead by hand. I used 3 cups of flour.
  4. Turn the dough on to a lightly floured counter surface or a sheet of wax paper and knead for 1 – 2 minutes. The dough should be fairly soft and slightly sticky.  Avoid using too much flour on the counter surface, if the dough gets too dry you will get stiff dough and non-fluffy buns.
  5. Place the dough back in the mixing bowl and let rest covered in a warm, draft-free location until doubled in size (about one hour).
  6. When the dough has doubled, scrape it from the bowl, back on to the floured surface and divide into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball shape. Then, starting with the dough ball that you make first, flatten it into a disc-like shape. Do not make these discs too thin, I kept my dough about a 1/3 inch thick.
  7. Hold the dough in your palm and add 3-4 tablespoons of the filling to the middle. Pull up the dough from the sides and pinch at the middle to cover the filling up. Pinch and twist the puckered ends to secure and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet with the puckered side down. Repeat with all the dough balls and space out the buns on the baking sheet so they have room to rise.
  8. Cover the buns with a warm, damp towel and let rise until doubled in size.
  9. Preheat the oven to 400°F or 205°C.
  10. Mix the maple syrup and water together. When the buns have doubled in size, carefully brush the maple wash on to the tops of the buns. Sprinkle sriracha toasted sesame seeds on top.
  11. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. The buns should come out nicely browned. Let cool before serving.
Posted in Bao, Beef, Buns, Recipe, Vegan, Vegan Recipe, Vegetarian, Veggie Dumplings | 1 Comment

Manhattan Valley Dumpling Hunt: Pandemic Edition

RIP – Xi’an Famous Foods, Upper West Side location

I have been chronicling the growth of the excellent Chinese restaurant scene in the Manhattan Valley neighborhood, which is just south of Columbia University.  The University’s international students make up a large portion of the patrons at these restaurants, but the students have largely left town since Columbia’s classes went online.  So I have been worried that these restaurants are getting particularly hard hit during the pandemic.  Here are the results of my recent tour of the neighborhood and some internet sleuthing.

Grain House – is doing delivery, take-out and has taken over part of Amsterdam Ave for outdoor dining.  They have changed their veggie dumplings and are now using a green spinach dough wrapper and have added cilantro to the filling – so be warned if you have a cilantro allergy.  Overall they seem to be surviving.

Happy Hot Hunan – when I walked by Happy it looked pretty closed down and there was no evidence of outdoor dining.  But a note on the window said they are doing online ordering and delivery and their website is set up for online ordering.

Chinese Food Trucks on Broadway at 117th – the usual cluster of food trucks near Columbia’s main entrance were not there when I went past mid-afternoon on a Tuesday.  With Columbia not hosting students since March it makes sense that these trucks are not coming out.  The sidewalks are close to deserted on Broadway from around 122nd down to 114th streets, you can really feel the impact of the missing students and faculty.

The Tang – is temporarily closed with the windows covered in brown paper, but they are delivering Homemade Dumpling and Bun kits.  The Homemade Dumpling Kits include 20 frozen dumplings and you can choose from: “Beef & Carrot”, “Shrimp, Ground Pork, Chives, Eggs”, “Shiitake Mushroom, Vermicelli Noodles and Tofu” and “Mapo Tofu Dumplings”.  The Homemade Vegetable Buns come 4 to an order and look to be giant sized.  For home delivery of these kits, a minimum of 3 orders is required.

Uncle Luoyang – This place looked closed with its metal shutter down at lunch time.  But their web site claims that they are doing delivery.

Xi’an Famous Foods – The Broadway location which opened in 2013 has closed permanently – this is a huge loss to the neighborhood as this tiny joint was always packed. Xi’an Famous Foods is selling frozen dumpling meal kits including their spinach dumplings with spicy and sour sauce which have taken the Dumpling Hunters Best Veggie Dumpling award multiple years in a row.

Yu Kitchen – is doing delivery and takeout only.

La Salle Dumpling Room – is doing delivery and takeout only.

Atlas Kitchen – I didn’t enjoy my dinner at Atlas, but for completeness…. they are doing delivery and pick-up. Their website says they have a new seasonal lunch special menu, but I couldn’t see it on their online order portal.

Pearls Chinese Restaurant – this is classic upper west side American style Chinese restaurant, the type of Chinese restaurant I generally avoid unless I am craving scallion pancakes and peanut butter/sesame noodles.  But early in the pandemic I discovered that their boiled pork dumplings traveled really well for delivery and were delicious.  Pearls is doing delivery and take-out, and has two small tables set up on the sidewalk.

Other local, non-Chinese, joints for dumplings:

Andaman Dumplings in Ponzu Sauce

Spice – I tried Spice on 108th street and Amsterdam Ave for the first time last week. Unlike many Thai restaurants in this neighborhood Spice has a good selection of dumplings.  I tried the Andaman Dumplings, which are steamed shrimp & pork dumplings, similar to Shumai, and are served in a ponzu dip.  The dumplings themselves were delicious, but the ponzu sauce had a metallic edge to it that I did not enjoy – maybe too much raw ginger in the sauce.

Yakitori Sun Chan – This is one of my favorite spots for Izakaya dining.  They are doing take-out and delivery and have a few outdoor tables for dining on the street.

Tofu Bao

Jin Ramen – A bit south of Manhattan Valley, but one of my favorites.  Jin is doing takeout and delivery and has taken over a chunk of the sidewalk and part of the avenue for outdoor dining.  They have good distancing protocols, so I felt quite comfortable eating there.  I got the Tofu Bao, which I always enjoy.

Moonrise Yakitori – this is the other, and not nearly as good, Izakaya in the neighborhood.  They are hosting outdoor dining on the sidewalk and street, but the tables looked to be too close together for my comfort and were crowded with people.  They are also doing takeout and delivery.

Mokja Korean Cuisine – When I walked by at lunch time the metal shutters were down, but the website is taking delivery orders.

HMart Gyoza and Bao to-go

HMart – the local Korean supermarket is open and appeared fully stocked.  The to-go hot food section had lots of gyoza and Bao options.

Peacefood Cafe – Peacefood has shrunk its menu, the excellent vegan crab cakes are no longer available, but they are still serving their fab Shanghai Dumplings. Like their neighbor Jin Ramen, they have taken over a chunk of the sidewalk and part of the street for outdoor dining.

Posted in Bao, Chinese, Izakaya, Japanese, Mandoo, New York City, News, Ramen Bar, Thai | 1 Comment

Kite Hill Foods Vegan Ricotta Tortellini

Rating:

I finally got around to trying Kite Hill’s third stuffed pasta offering, their Vegan Ricotta Tortellini.  My review of their outstanding Mushroom and Ricotta Ravioli is here, and my review of their Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli is here.  The origin of tortellini is disputed; both Bologna and Modena, cities in Italy’s northern Emilia-Romagna region, claim to be its birthplace.  Traditionally Tortellini are filled with meat and cooked and served in a broth.  It is the larger cousin, the Tortelloni, that classically is filled with cheese and vegetables like spinach and mushrooms and served dry. 

Cooked tortellini added into the sauce pan

Final plating of tortellini and sauce

Like the other Kite Hill products, the pasta was excellent, it was slightly thick and had nice chew to it.  The almond milk derived ricotta filling was a little bland and needed some additional salt.  I think because of the blandness I found myself wishing for a larger amount of filling so I could taste the cheese.  I think the ravioli is a better sized vehicle for their cheese.  Having said that, this is a strong option for a vegan cheese tortellini, especially if you serve it with a robust sauce.  I sauteed tomatoes with garlic in white white and added capers at the end.

Overall I admire what Kite Hill has done to create and market a line of vegan ricotta stuffed pastas.  Their cheese is an excellent simulacrum of cow’s milk ricotta, especially with the larger filling size in the ravioli, and they paid attention to creating a great pasta.  The Mushroom and Ricotta Ravioli is the best of the line, they have a really good pasta wrapper and the filling is creamy with an umami earthy flavor and strong flavor notes from the shiitake mushrooms.

Posted in Frozen Dumpling Review, Ravioli, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggie Dumplings | Leave a comment

Steamed Scallion Buns (Hua Juan) Recipe

The ill planned re-openings in Southern and Western states and the abdication of the federal government in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has undone the hard won gains of the State level stay at home orders of March to May, so the eating out hiatus and home cooking festival continue.

Steamed scallion buns

This weekend I tried making Hua Juan, aka steamed scallion buns, aka Flower Buns, aka Mandarin Buns.  These savory buns are a traditional break fast dish in China.  I changed up the traditional recipe by adding garlic sauteed in oil from Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp Hot Sauce. The addition of chili oil gives the buns a slight reddish hue.  The recipe below works really well and makes six buns, which will keep in the fridge for several days.  To re-heat these buns, microwave them for 30 seconds and then pan-fry the bottom of the buns until they are crispy and golden colored.

 

Dough

  • 250 g all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp dried active yeast
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 130 ml lukewarm water

Filling

  • 1/2 cup scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cooking oil
  • 2 tsp oil from Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp Hot Sauce
  1. Mix flour, yeast, and baking powder in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed until a very smooth dough forms (about 8 minutes).
  2. Saute the garlic in a mix of the cooking oil and Chili crisp oil and pour the hot oil and garlic over the chopped scallions.
  3. Dust some flour over your worktop. Roll the dough into a very thin, rectangle shape.
  4. Evenly coat the dough with the scallion, garlic, and chili oil filling.
  5. From the long side of the rectangle, fold the dough twice making it a three-layer strip. Then cut it into 12 pieces.
  6. Stack up two pieces of the folded stuffed dough. Use a chopstick to press the middle line length ways. Hold both ends and
    stretch.
  7. Hang the stretched dough on the chopstick. With one hand pinch and hold the two ends. With the other hand twist
    the chopstick 180 degrees.
  8. Put the roll on the worktop, press the chopstick then slice it out of the roll.
  9. Leave the rolls to rest for around 30 minutes.
  10. Place the rolls in a steamer basket making sure to leave ample space in between each roll and steam for 10 minutes.

Posted in Bao, Buns, Chinese, Dim Sum, Recipe, Vegan, Vegan Recipe, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Kimchi Wrapped Tofu Jun

Pan fried Kimchi wrapped tofu and veggie jun

This dish is inspired by a variant of Kogi Jun, in which the meat patty is wrapped in Napa cabbage kimchi leaves before being coated in flour and egg wash and pan fried – Kimchi wrapped Kogi Jun. We made a vegan version of this variant on the classic Kogi Jun, and created Kimchi wrapped Tofu Jun, which is thus two degrees of separation from the classic Kogi Jun.  For this recipe large Napa Kimchi leaves are wrapped around a stuffing of tofu, mushrooms, carrots and chopped kimchi, all of which is seasoned with sesame oil.  The wraps are then dredged in flour and a wash of Just Egg and then pan fried fried on both sides.  They are reminiscent of a tofu fried dumpling.

The ingredients are:

  • 1/4 of a sweet onion
  • 10 oz of firm tofu
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped Napa kimchi – inner leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame oil
  • Large, long outer leaves of Napa kimchi
  • Flour
  • Just Egg

Squeeze as much water as possible out of the tofu and crumble it into a mixing bowl.  Finely chop the onion and carrot and add them to the bowl along with the chopped kimchi.  Sautee the mushrooms to brown them and remove their water and then add them to the mixing bowl.  Mix the filling ingredients and season them with salt and the sesame oil.

Place some filling on a Napa kimchi leaf and fold the leaf around the filling to make a wrapped parcel.  Dredge the parcel in flour and then Just Egg (or regular egg). Pan fry the parcel one side and then flip the parcel to fry on the other side.

 

Posted in Kimchi, Korean, Pan Fried, Vegan, Vegan Recipe, Vegetarian, Veggie Dumplings | Leave a comment

Making Pasties – Vegan Cornish Pasty and Vegan Japanese Curry Pasty

Traditional veggie Pasty

Pasties, the smaller one is filled with Japanese curry glazed vegetables.

Ultimate Japanese Curry

I have said it before, (and here) the Cornish Pasty counts as a form of dumpling.  As part of my COVID-19 stay-at-home cooking regime I made a large vegan traditional a Cornish Pasty and two smaller Japanese Vegan Curry Pasties.  For both of the Pasties I followed Spruce Eats recipe, “The Perfect Traditional Cornish Pasty” for the pastry dough using Earth Balance buttery spread rather than actual butter.   To keep it vegan I brushed the Pasties with Just Egg. Following the EU Protected Geographic Indication Specification, for both fillings I used equal parts onion, potato and rutabaga (Swede), all finely chopped.  The filling for the traditional pasty was seasoned with salt and lots of black pepper, and was wrapped uncooked with the pasty dough.

For the Japanese Curry filling, I briefly sauteed two cups of the onion, potato and rutabaga mix and then added 3/4 cup of water and 1 chunk of S&B Golden Curry (1/5 of the Curry package).  My goal was to coat the vegetables in a thick glaze of curry sauce and to avoid having a lot of liquid curry.

I found the dough was pretty challenging to work with and I think that Earth Balance doesn’t bring the same dough making qualities as butter or lard.  So the pasties looked a little mutant, but tasted great and when cooked, the pastry shell was flaky and layered.  The traditional Pasty tasted just how I remember the vegetable Pasty from the famed Ivor Dewdney Pasty shop in Plymouth England.  The Japanese Curry version was everything that I had hoped for, lots of mild curry flavor in flaky pastry pocket.

Posted in Japanese, Pasty, Recipe | 1 Comment