Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Besam Paare (Spicy Indian Crackers)

This is my first attempt at making Besam Paare (Spicy Indian Crackers). For the recipe, please go here.

I have memories of eating very delicious spicy home made crackers at a neighbor's house when I was little, and I had a craving for them. I'm not sure if Manjula's recipe is exactly the same, but I think these are similar to the ones I remember eating. It could be the flavor of carom seeds and lentil flour that bring back memories.

I had a nice relaxing afternoon with a teapot of sweetened cardamom tea, eating these and just staring at the Mediterranean sea.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Chinese Fried Beef Pie

This isn't the greatest photograph of these delicious treats, but I'm going to post it anyway because I have been very remiss about my blog.

The recipe comes from Yohana's Culinary Journey and we made the wrappers and filling pretty much according to her recipe with only one omission. In her blog, these are called: Fried Beef Stuffed Pie.

We had these with home made Hong Yu (Chinese Chili Oil). We made the kind of sauce used for certain kinds of boiled dumplings in Chengdu and modified it a bit. Normally I would have garnished them with fresh cilantro, but it's way too warm in Spain now for cilantro which is after all a winter crop, so we had to do without them.

Basically we made the wrappers according to Yohana's instructions and made the Hong Yu according to Chef Wang (?)'s recipe. We cheated a bit. I didn't use a thermometer.

1. I let the oil heat-up, then transferred it to a pyrex bowl.
2. I put the pieces of crushed ginger in and waited for the furious bubbling and sputtering to calm down.
3. I put the star anise in there.
4. I put the 1/3 cup ground chili flakes in there.

This is supposed to mature for a few days but we used some a few hours later. The oil does improve over the course of a few days so if you really want to get it right, I'd make it in advance. I don't bother transferring it to any bottles but keep it in a pyrex bowl with saranwrap strapped over it. It will keep at room temperature for a few weeks.

We then made the filling and wrapped them up and steam fried them according to Yohana's instructions.

Do please go to her webite for details. I am just going to note the changes we have made in her recipes or Chef Wang (?)'s recipes below. If I haven't noted anything, I followed the recipe to a tee:

Our Adapted Version of the Sauce:

1 Tbsp Chili Oil
2 Tsp Soy Sauce
1 Heaping Tsp Brown Sugar
(2 Tsp Chicken or Pork Stock)*
1 Small Clove Garlic (crushed)
Roasted Sichuan Peppercorn (hua jiao) (Ground)

*Omitted. We didn't have any home made pork or chicken stock available and did not want to ruin it with commercial bouillon cubes.

Our Adapted Version of the Stuffing for the Fried Beef Stuffed Pie:

1 Portion Hot Water Blanched Dough
250g Ground Beef
1/4 Leek (Chopped Finely)
1 Small Piece Ginger (Grated)
50g Celery (Chopped Finely)
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Dry Sherry (Alfonso Oloroso Seco Palomino)
(1 Tsp Chicken Broth Extract)**
Salt (to taste)
1Tbsp Dark Sesame Seed Oil

**Omitted for the same reason as the sauce.

I would suggest you garnish the pies with chopped leeks (or scallions if you have them) and cilantro if you have any. It's way too warm in Spain now for cilantro.

NOTE: Please be very careful when handling hot oil and chili flakes. Make sure you have good ventilation and people and pets are out of the way. I couldn't stop sneezing for a minute even though I was careful. Also, remember to keep an eye on the oil when it's heating-up. Do not answer telephone calls or door bells when you are heating up oil.