Asian

Mango Tart with Coconut Jasmine Rice Pastry Cream

Mango Tart with Coconut Jasmine Rice Pastry Cream

 

Here is a twist on Thailand’s very favorite sweet treat!

Borrowing from the traditional Thai pairing of sliced fresh mango eaten with sticky rice drizzled with coconut cream, I have instead made a tart with a coconut jasmine rice pastry cream scented with kaffir lime leaves that is topped with freshly picked sliced mango. This tart makes a tantalizingly colorful presentation that is sure to make a stellar tropical finale for a summer meal and well worth the little extra effort. For more information about Thailand’s mango and sticky rice (click here)

Of course choosing your mangoes is paramount. Ideally they should be freshly picked, plump, blemish free, and firm with an ever so slight give when very gently pressed. Their aroma should be flowery without a hint acidity. There are of course many varieties to choose from ranging from deep green, yellow, pastel yellow, orange, and various shades of red. Best to buy them not more than a day before you intend to use them and refrigerate them to slow down the ripening process. Peel, slice, and arrange the mango over the pastry cream just before serving for maximum flavor and freshness.

The rest of the preparations can be made in advance and refrigerated until you are ready to serve.

 

Mango Tart

Mango Tart

 

Fresh Mango Tart with Coconut Jasmine Rice Pastry Cream

Sweet Pastry (pate sablee) Tart Shell 10 or 11 inches, fully baked

As making the tart shell requires several steps including chilling the dough at several stages, as well as baking it, it is best to get this out of the way in advance. A fully baked tart shell cooled to room temperature and sealed n a large freezer bag will keep well in the refrigerator for several days.

Everyone who bakes has there own favorite tart pastry dough recipe so the choice is yours. Like many cooks I am always trying different recipes in a search of that perfect pastry dough that is easy to handle, sturdy when baked, and has at sweet crumbly sand like texture that classic tart shells should embody.

Likewise you can cook the rice and make the pastry cream in advance as well. Both will be combined and refrigerated until you are ready to assemble the tart.

 

For the Coconut Jasmine Rice

  • ½ cup Thai jasmine rice
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 kaffr lime leaves

Preheat the oven to 325f/170c

After briefly boiling the rice finishing off the rice in the oven avoids the inevitable scorching of the rice in the bottom of the pan when cooked on the stove top.

Place all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed oven proof sauce pan set over medium heat on the stove top. Stir occasionally as the liquid heats up to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes while stirring so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Cover the pan with a lid and place it in the preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring once about half way through the baking time. Remove from the oven, remove the kaffir lime leaves and discard, and set the rice aside to cool.

 

For the Coconut Pastry Cream

  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Have ready a mixing bowl with a fine mesh strainer set over the bowl.

Place the coconut milk in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium low heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and drop in the kaffir lime leaves. Stir now and again while the coconut milk is heating.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk together the corn starch and sugar. Then add the eggs and whisk until smooth.

Once the coconut milk is just under a boil ladle about a third of the hot coconut milk slowly into the egg cornstarch mixture while whisking continuously until incorporated.

Then pour the egg mixture back into the hot coconut milk and whisk continuously. The mixture will thicken after about 2 minutes with a custard like consistency. Continue to heat while continuously whisking until the custard is just about to break into a simmer with just a few little bubbles appearing on the surface. You do not want the custard to boil as the eggs in the mixture will begin to curdle! Promptly remove the pan from the stove and pour the pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl. This will stop the cooking and remove any curdling that may have occurred. Discard the kaffir lime leaaves.

Let cool a few minutes and then stir in the butter, a tablespoon full at a time, while whisking until the pastry cream is very smooth.

Place the bowl of pastry cream on a cooling rack and press cling film directly onto the surface to avoid a skin forming on the surface as it cools.. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate if not using immediately.

When both the coconut rice and the pastry cream have cooled to room temperature add the rice to the pasty cream and fold it in until evenly distributed. Then cover with cling film and refrigerate for about an hour or more before assembling the tart.

 

Mangoes

  •  2-4 mangoes depending on size

Peel the mangoes with a vegetable peeler and slice the mango into thin pieces lengthwise with the knife slicing parallel to the center stone/seed. Cover and refrigerate.

Mango Tart with Coconut Jasmine Rice Pastry Cream

Mango Tart with Coconut Jasmine Rice Pastry Cream

 

Assembling the Tart

Remove the fully baked tart shell from the refrigerator. Spoon the coconut rice pastry cream into the tart shell to about three quarters full and smooth the surface evenly. Cover the tart with cling film and refrigerate until well chilled.

Arranging the freshly sliced mango over of the pastry cream should be done as close to serving time as possible for maximum freshness!

Arrange the sliced mango over the surface of the pastry cream to your liking, trimming the mango slices as needed. Serve promptly, or cover the tart and refrigerate for an hour or so before serving.

Sichuan Pork Tenderloin

Sichuan Pork Tenderloin

 

As you know I’m mad for anything Sichuan and this time around it’s Sichuan Pork Tenderloin.

A recent post on Sichuan Chicken Wings (see here) was a big hit. All due to the fiery spiced Sichuan marinade my friend from Shanghai passed on to me which I now consider a building block of Sichuan cookery. It not only works beautifully with chicken, but with pork, beef, and fish as well.

Rather than resorting to the usual wok stir frying that tends to turn even the tenderest of meats into rubbery strips I opted for the western approach of high temperature roasting that produces a succulent tender juicy flesh. The pork Tenderloin is roasted along with cabbage and apples and sauced with a marinade reduction that delivers an easy Sichuan meal with all the refinement of a Michelin starred restaurant in China coming right out of your own kitchen.

A friend of mine who had tasted the Sichuan chicken wings at a dinner party at my house was all ready to try making the wings at home until he read the recipe and decided “it was just too complicated.” Actually it is not at all complicated and I urge you not to be discouraged by the list of perhaps unfamiliar ingredients. With the ingredients on hand the marinade can be made in five minutes. All the ingredients are available in your nearest Asian market and in some cases supermarkets. Once the ingredients are stored in your pantry you are ready for an extended adventure with Sichuan cookery.

 

Sichuan Pork Tenderloin – East meets West serves 4 to 6

  • 2 pork tenderloins approximately 16 0z/450 g each
  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, lightly toasted
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly toasted
  • 5 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 5 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine
  • 4 tablespoons Chinkiang black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon red chile oil (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried red chile flakes
  • ½ teaspoon five spice powder
  • cabbage and apples (recipe below)
  • Sichuan pepper sauce (recipe below)

Lightly toast the Sichuan peppercorns and cumin seeds together in a small pan over low heat. Once aromatic remove from the heat and promptly transfer to a mortar and set aside to cool. When cool coarsely grind and set aside.

In a bowl combine the ground Sichuan pepper and cumin seed mix, soy sauce, Shaoxing cooking wine, Chinkiang black vinegar, red chile oil, garlic, ginger, white pepper, and chile flakes. Whisk the ingredients together and stir in the 5 spice powder.

Set aside half of the marinade to use later to make the sauce.

Select a bowl large enough to hold the pork tenderloins snugly. Pour the remaining half of the marinade into the bowl and add the pork tenderloins. Press the tenderloins into the marinade while massaging the marinade into the flesh. Turn the tenderloins over and press them firmly into the marinade until they are completely covered, stirring in a little water if needed. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for several hours.

Remove the marinated tenderloins from the fridge and bring to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 475 f/245 c with the rack set to the second level from the bottom of the oven.

Select a roasting pan large enough to hold both the pork tenderloins and the cabbage and apples.

Sichuan Pork Tenderloin

Sichuan Pork Tenderloin

Place tenderloins in the center of the roasting pan lengthwise without touching. Place the cabbage and apple mixture around the tenderloins and spoon marinade over and around the tenderloins. Place the tray in the oven and roast for about 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the tenderloins reaches 140 f/60 c. Do not over roast! Promptly remove the tray from the oven, loosely tent with foil and rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Cabbage and Apples:

  • 1 large head of green cabbage
  • 4 firm apples
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice  

Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and cut the head into quarters lengthwise. Remove the cores and thinly slice the cabbage and place in a large mixing bowl.

Peel the apples and quarter lengthwise. Remove the cores and slice each quarter into very thin slices then divide the slices in half and add to the bowl of cabbage. Toss together until the apples are evenly mixed into the cabbage. Drizzle the olive oil over the mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the lemon juice over all and toss until well combined. Set aside until you are ready to place it around the pork tenderloins for roasting.

Sichuan Pepper Sauce:

  • reserved marinade
  • 1 ½ cups stock
  • 2-3 small dried red chilies
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cold water      

Place the reserved marinade in a saucepan and add the stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a rolling simmer. Add the dried chilies and simmer until reduced by about a third.

Place the cornstarch in a small bowl and stir into the cold water until the cornstarch is completely dissolved.

While stirring the sauce slowly start adding the cornstarch mixture and continuing to stir. The sauce will begin to thicken within a minute or so. When the sauce has the consistency of thin glaze you can stop adding the cornstarch mixture. Continue to stir another minute.Then remove from the sauce from the heat and set aside until you are ready to serve.

Reheat over low heat jut before serving.

Serving:

Transfer the roasted tenderloins to a cutting board and using a very sharp knife thinly slice each tenderloin diagonally across the grain of the meat.
Spoon portions of the cabbage and apples onto individual plates and lay 4 to 5 slices of tenderloin overlapping atop the cabbage.Spoon the warm Sichuan sauce over the tenderloin slices and garnish with the red chilies  if you like for visual effect. These chilies are very very HOT and should only be eaten by those are fearless chile fiends. 

Recommended: serve with Thai Jasmine rice scented with kaffir lime leaves.

Note: Red Chile Oil:(hong you) which means red oil in Mandarin is sometimes available in Asian markets, but if not you can easily make your own.

Place ¼ cup of coarsely ground dried red chile flakes or small whole dried red chilies in a small stainless bowl. Heat 1 cup olive, peanut or corn oil over medium heat until nearly smoking. Turn off the heat and let the oil cool for a couple of minutes and then pour the oil over the chilies, which will sizzle at first. Stir and set aside to cool. Once cool transfer the mixture to a bottle or jar and seal with the lid. Store in a dark place for a week or so to infuse the oil with the essence of the chile. Refrigerate for long term storage.

Sichuan Chicken Wings

Sichuan Chicken Wings

My dear friend and consultant at large for all things about Chinese cooking, Steven Hu who lives in Shanghai, was back in Chiang Mai for a couple of weeks and we decided to have friends over for a farewell dinner together. Steven kindly offered to make his hot and numbing Sichuan Chicken wings to start off the evening along with drinks. The wings were such a big hit I thought Steven’s recipe had to be written up and shared. I realize everyone has their favorite chicken wing recipe, but these Sichuan wings are a must try for all you adventurous cooks.

Sichuan pepper ( hua jiao) is not a true pepper, but dried pepper husks from a native woody shrub harvested in the mountains of Hanyuan in western Sichuan. The aroma is heady and intoxicating as is the slow lingering numbing effect on the palate. There is no substitute so head to your local Asian market where you can pick up the Sichuan peppercorns as well as all the other ingredients for this recipe, all of which are handy to have on hand in your pantry for cooking other Sichuan and Chinese recipes.

 

Sichuan Chicken Wings: serves 4

  • 16 chicken wings, trimmed, rinsed, and drained
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns, lightly toasted
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted
  • 5 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 tablespoon Chinkiang black vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons red chile oil (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan pepper oil (see note)
  • 1½ teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • 1/3 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon fine chile flakes or to taste (optional)
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 teaspoons honey for drizzling

 

Lightly toast the Sichuan peppercorns and cumin seeds together in a small pan over low heat. Once aromatic remove from the heat and promptly transfer to a mortar and set aside to cool. When cool coarsely grind and set aside.

Select a bowl large enough to hold the chicken wings and add the ground Sichuan pepper and cumin seed mix, soy sauce, Shaoxing cooking wine, Chinkiang black vinegar, red chile oil, Sichuan pepper oil, garlic, ginger, white pepper, and chile flakes (if using). Whisk the ingredients together, stir in the star anise, and set aside.

Layer the chicken wings into the marinade and press them into the mixture until they are completely covered, stirring in a little water if needed. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for several hours.

Remove the marinated wings from the fridge and bring to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 425f/200c with the rack set in the middle of the oven.

Line a baking tray with parchment or foil and set aside.

Place the wings, skin side down, in the tray so they are just touching for even cooking. Drizzle the wings with a little marinade and a scant drizzle of honey over all the wings. Place the tray in the oven and roast for about 12 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and turn the wings skin side up. Drizzle with a little marinade and honey and return the tray to the oven for another 16 to 18 minutes, or until the skin is bubbling, browned, and crispy.

While the wings are roasting transfer the marinade to a small sauce pan and boil it for 3 minutes and set aside to cool.

Promptly remove the wings from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Lightly drizzle the wings with marinade.

Transfer the wings to a serving bowl or platter and serve.

Note:

Red chile oil (hong you, which means red oil) is sometimes available in Asian markets, but if not you can easily make your own.

Place ¼ cup of coarsely ground dried red chile flakes in a small stainless bowl. Heat1 cup peanut or corn oil over medium heat until nearly smoking. Turn off the heat and let the oil cool for 10 minutes and then pour the oil over the ground chile, which will sizzle at first. Stir and set aside to cool. Once cool transfer the mixture to a jar and seal with the lid. Store in a dark place for a week or so to infuse the oil with the essence of the chile. Refrigerate for long term storage.

Sichuan pepper oil is prepared in the same way as the chile oil. Simply follow the same procedure as above.

Braised Chinese Sausage with Rice Glass Noodles

Braised Chinese Sausage with Rice Glass Noodles

 

Gong xi fa cai (Mandarin)…Kung hei fat choi (Cantonese)….a happy and prosperous lunar new year from my kitchen to yours!

The recipe that follows is probably more a figment of my imagination or a recreation of a dish I vaguely recall from the distant past. I am of course not Chinese  and make no claims for the authenticity of this recipe other than than to say it is one of my favorite Chinese inspired cold weather quick meals using lap cheong (Cantonese)/ la chang (Mandarin)/ Gun chiang (Thai), a dry Chinese sausage with a sweet and spiced flavor as the main ingredient. The aroma and warming flavors of this dish are sure to sooth away any of winter’s biting chill.

La Chang; Chinese sausage

La Chang; Chinese sausage

 

Braised Chinese Sausage with Glass Noodles serves 4

Have on hand a lidded ceramic baking casserole.

Preheat to oven to 350f/180c

  • 3-4 dry Chinese sausages
  • 2 tablespoons cold pressed peanut oil
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced batons of young ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced bok choy (or green cabbage)
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth (heated)
  • 6 oz/180g dry glass rice noodles (rice vermicelli)
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3  teaspoon Chinese five spice powder (wu xiang fen) (see note)
  • fresh ground toasted Sichuan pepper  (hua jiao) to taste

Prick the sausages all over with a wooden skewer and place them in a large skillet along with about a cup of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove the sausages and set aside to cool. Discard the cooking water.

When the sausage is cool enough to handle thinly slice it on the diagonal and set aside.

Return the skillet to the stove set over medium heat. When hot add the oil. When the oil is nearly smoking add the onions, garlic, and ginger and saute while continuously stirring, until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the Shaoxing rice wine and saute until it is nearly evaporated.  Add the bok choy (or cabbage) and the sliced sausage and cook until the bok choy is wilted. Promptly add the hot broth and stir in the rice noodles. Then stir in the oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, 5 spice powder, and Sichuan pepper to taste. Cook until the noodles are wilted, about 1 minute.

Transfer the mixture to the baking casserole and cover with the lid. Place in the oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until most of the broth has been absorbed and the noodles are lightly browned around the edges.

Remove from the oven and serve in individual bowls!

Note: Five Spice Powder (wu xiang fen) is a seasoning mix of ground star anise, ground cassia bark (cinnamon), ground Sichuan pepper corns, ground fennel seeds, and ground ginger. There is no set recipe but equal parts of each ingredient works well. You can adjust the mix to suit your own tastes as well.

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