Tag Archives: ginger

Chinese New Year dinner

Happy Chinese New Year! For family dinner on Tuesday, we made up an (early) Taiwanese-influenced dinner. Dumplings are symbolic of family reunion and so they’re always around at this time when families are reunited. Our recipe is from a friend of friend, learned at the ‘boys’ part’ of a baby shower. Thanks, Bosco.

It was a meal made in America, not in Taiwan, that’s for sure. Although we could find wrappers at the supermarket (the Chinese grocery was a long hike), they were wonton wrappers – thinner and square. They ended up working, more or less, though I wouldn’t recommend using them. Find the round ones.

The tomato eggs are one of my favourite foods in Taiwan. Chris learned them from a Taiwanese woman whose kids she was teaching. This was the first time we tried them, and while they were good, they need work. They were a little too scrambled – though I’ve had them like this before, usually they’re a little chunkier.

The ginger beans are easy and delicious. Simple as that, though we found them online while in Argentina. No Chinese New Year connection there, just a tasty side.

Finally, as I went to post this, a post on someone else’s CNY dinner on the other side of the world popped up. It’s worth a look – they also do pot-sticker dumplings, as well as beef noodles (representative of long life) and egg custard tarts (a recipe I’ll be trying out myself). Check it out!

Ginger Green Beans

2 lbs beans
3 inches ginger, peeled and julienned
3 tbsp butter/sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
zest of 1/2 lemon
soy sauce to taste

1. Cook beans until just tender. Drain, put in ice water, pat dry.
2. Cook ginger in butter/oil until golden, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the beans and cook for about 2 minutes.
4. Remove from heat, add zest and salt and soy sauce.

Tomato Eggs

4 small-medium tomatoes, cut into chunks (optional: blanche and skin them first)
5 eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
1/2 c green onion, chopped
2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped or minced
2 tsp potato or corn starch, mixed with 2 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp sugar

1. Heat 1-2 tbsp oil and fry the ginger.
2. Add the tomatoes and cook until soft & juicy. Add a little water if it looks dry.
3. Add sugar, another pinch of salt, and the starch/water mixture. Mix together so things thicken.
4. Add the eggs, cook like scrambled eggs, but stir as little as possible.
5. When mostly done, add green onions.

Pot-sticker Dumplings

1/2 lb ground pork (can also use ground chicken, turkey, beef, or tofu)
2-3 stalks bok choy
8-10 straw mushrooms (aka needle mushrooms – thin mushrooms that are mostly stalk)
3-4 Chinese mushrooms (dehydrated)
1/2 tsp ginger, minced OR 1/4 tsp dried ginger
1 stalk green onion, chopped
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg
1 package dumpling wrappers (3.5-4″ diameter), thawed (if bought frozen)

Soak Chinese mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes until soft and re-hydrated, discard stem. Chop up bok choy, mushrooms, and green onions into 1/4″ or smaller pieces.

In a large bowl, combine ground meat, chopped vegetables, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, and pepper and mix well.

Whip the egg in a small bowl. It’ll be used for holding the wrappers together.

To make the dumplings (and I apologize in advance – this is much easier shown than described), place one wrap flat on a plate or clean surface. Brush egg on the top 3/4 of the wrapping and spoon 1 to 1-1/2 tsp of mixture in the centre of the wrapping.

Rather than try and explain how to fold a dumpling, I’ll simply direct you to the Google search, full of explanations and videos that are much better than trying to follow my directions. Good luck!

The dumplings can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours or frozen for considerably longer in an airtight container. I recommend freezing them separately on a floured plate first, then putting them in a bag or container. This prevents them from sticking together.

To cook the dumplings, put 1-2 tsp of oil in a frying pan at medium heat. Arrange the dumplings in a circle or two on the pan and cook until the bottom is light brown (2-3 minutes if fresh, 4-5 if cooking from frozen). Add 3/4 to 1 cup of water (depending on size of the pan and amount of dumplings you’re cooking) to cover the bottom the pan and put the lid on immediately. The steam in the frying pan will cook the top part of the dumpling. Check the dumpling when the steam stops or in 3-4 minutes. The dumpling should be done when the water is all evaporated. Be careful not to burn the dumplings – add more water if necessary.

Dipping sauce: the recipe I got recommended 2 parts dark soy sauce with 1 part Worchestershire sauce. In Taiwan, we would have a mix of soy sauce, chili paste, garlic, and vinegar. Here, we found a chili-garlic paste at the supermarket and brought out vinegar and soy sauce and let everyone make their own sauce. It worked out great!

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macau: egg tarts and lots of ginger

Macau has its own wonderful sweets, a gourmet tradition that Christine made sure we did not pass up the chance to try. I didn’t want to miss them either!

Our first sought-out treat was the Macanese egg tart. You can technically find this in Taiwan – though that’s possibly because the Portuguese were there as well – but they don’t hold a candle up to the ones in Macau. These are the shining torch of Portuguese legacy of egg tarts, and they bear that burden with ease. The best place in the city is a little deli and bakery tucked away in the back streets called Nata. I found a reference to it on the Internet while I was doing food research for our trip and we made it a point to search out this particular venue. They do sandwiches, soups, and other baking, but overwhelmingly, people visit for the egg tarts. The pastry is delicate and buttery and hot – they’re always freshly made, as they fly off the shelves so quickly that lines develop easily while people wait for a batch to finish baking – and the filling a perfect blend of eggs and milk and vanilla, lightly browned from the oven. This restaurant was one of two places we visited twice, as once just wasn’t enough to enjoy this delicacy. We even tried a tart from another place just to see if this place deserves its reputation – it most certainly does. The other tart was OK, but the flavours weren’t there, the pastry was lackluster – totally in a different league. A stop at Nata for an egg tart and a drink is a must in Macau, in my opinion.

Another Macanese traditional food that we heard mentioned a lot but only found in one restaurant (which was the other place we visited twice) was ginger milk. A delicate dessert that consists only of milk and ginger juice and a dash of vanilla. The key is in heating the milk to the right temperature and mixing it with the ginger juice properly. I’ve tried it myself and have, as yet, had no success. There’s definitely a technique to it. Anyway, when it’s done right, the milk gels a bit, and you get a bit of a pudding, warm and ginger-spicy and divine. As I said, we had a few of these in this crowded little lunch counter place off the main square. I just wanted to keep ordering and eating them, they were so good.

People in Macau seem to like their ginger; I didn’t find a problem with this at all. There was a lot of ginger candy in the candy stores that lined the main tourist areas. Our favourite was the coconut ginger candy – pieces of candied ginger dusted in coconut. Once again, that particular ginger burn accompanied by a dusting of shredded coconut. We bought some for friends and some for ourselves. I don’t know about the friends, but I certainly savoured this souvenir to the last bite.

Ginger figures in the last entry here as well. Somewhere else near the facade of the old church that makes Macau so famous is a little ice cream shop named Lemoncello gelato that contains a few unusual flavours. I wish I could give better directions, but I can tell you that it has some wonderful flavours that we haven’t seen in too many other places, flavours like the two we ordered – black sesame and ginger. The ice cream was nice and creamy as well, so both flavours really came through and complimented each other; the ginger burned, the sesame soothed. Each mouthful was a treat to take in, and there were frowns when it was all done. It made a nice break in the middle of a hot summer day spent walking around town.

I look forward to the day when I can make these myself, as I think it’ll be a long time before we return to Macau, unfortunately. The thought of ginger milk whenever I want it makes me drool with anticipation, though…