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‘Chinese Cooking’ Category

  1. Introducing…

    November 27, 2019 by ThePieMan

    In last 3-4 months there have been many activities afoot at Vila Tempest. We are still based in Shanghai but have relocated to a smaller location. This has meant we’ve had to downsize Life in many ways. However, this has opened up some new possibilities to explore.

    Allow me to introduce to you some new products and services we are beginning to explore and offer.

    I-Reiki: Being a Reiki Master/Teacher since 2015, we thought it was about time to explore offering Reiki to others. You can find out more about this over at I-Reiki.

    Intentional Oils: We have begun exploring cold pressed nut and seed oils infused with Reiki Energy and Positive Intentions. This is an exciting product as we believe there is currently no other supplier of such a product anywhere in the market. To find out more visit Intentional Oils.

    Black Garlic: This is an exciting product par excellence! Our first commercially available batch is still a bit over a week away, but initial trials have been outstanding!

    Black garlic is a transformative product, a respected and desired superfood, and we can’t wait to see how it tastes in some of our new pie recipes. Who knows? You might even see it infused into some of our cold pressed nut and seed oils! So, watch this space.


  2. Technical Difficulties

    November 26, 2019 by ThePieMan

    Apologies to one and all.

    Due to Technical Difficulties our site went offline in August, but we only became cognisant of that fact just the other day and have been busy working behind the scenes to get back online.

    The Internet is becoming more and more a weird, and wild place, in which to have a presence. However, we are glad to be back up and running.


  3. The PieMan is Back!

    July 19, 2019 by ThePieMan

    Aussie pie connoisseurs rejoice! The PieMan is back! and you can find him in residence in Shanghai.

    This summer we will be exploring a whole new world of pie fillings, to bring to you the best pies on offer, to all you true pie connoisseurs, in Shanghai.

    Villa Tempest Pies are bespoke, hand made on demand, made to order pies. They offer exceptional flavour, and are the pies you choose for us to make, not what we choose to make that day and then offer to send to you.

    Unlike commercial companies, Villa Tempest is a one man show, offering a person to person, personalised service in order to bring you the best tasting pies, outside of Australia or any other pie-oriented culture, today.

    For now, relax and rejoice, because The PieMan is back!


  4. 2019 Year Of The Pig

    February 5, 2019 by Villa Tempest

    We at Villa Tempest would like to wish you, one and all, a very prosperous Year of The Pig.

     Year Of The Pig 2019. Public Domain Image.

  5. Happy New Year

    January 1, 2019 by Villa Tempest

    To You and Yours, from Us and Ours, we wish you all the very best for the coming Year, 2019.

    We hope that your goals and dreams, this year, amount to being everything you hope for.

    Over the coming months we hope to resolve grittiness issues, with our stone flour mills; to successfully make, “On Demand” fresh ground pastry flour from whole wheat berries; to improve our bread and pie baking processes; and to offer something tasty, and new to interested expats in our local region.

    All the best from Villa Tempest!


  6. WELL, WE’VE HAD QUITE THE ROCKY ROAD…

    December 10, 2018 by Villa Tempest

    In the last few years we seem to run foul of attempts to Stop Fake News, Control Anonymous Postings, and other such socially-encouraged, vigilante justice like Scroll-by (drive by) Social Network Assassination.

    My Facebook Profile has been down since February 2016, LinkedIn, and Xing, in quick succession shortly after that, and more recently my Twitter accounts – Funny, my clearly pseudonymous Twitter feed was/is quite ok? Go figure.

    To make matters worse, we missed a Bluehost Renewal Deadline by a week and somehow their system deleted Our site, completely. Thankfully the Wayback Machine had us covered and we were able to recover most of our former postings and image library.

    We have now moved over to Internet Solutions HK, for domain registration and hosting, and hope things will be soon put right again. It’s been so frustrating, trying to recover our entire site, and even the WordPress backups that we had made via Bluehost turn out to be incompatible with the new hosting regime – something to do with .tar files are not .xmr files, or something like that. Grrrrr…!

    So, do please bear with us, we will be up and running again soon. But, for now, I’d like to give a shout out to all of those food bloggers who took the time, in the past, to check out our info, test it and give a thumbs up in appreciation, especially the folks at ALE.is.GooD – it feels great to know that we are being read from time to time.

    Cheers!

    Tsc Tempest (… and yes, that is my real name!)


  7. The Search Goes On – Egg Batter Dough for Chiko Roll & Corn Jacks

    March 9, 2016 by Villa Tempest

    I’ve previously approached this topic, reporting my trials into finding the secret to the ever elusive method of making the dough wrapper for that well known, loved and maligned, Australian deep fried snack, the Chiko Roll.

    Much of the history and preparation info is summarized at Cooks Info which is a little more sensible and tempered than some of the outlandish recipes being postulated, like this one from Food.com – I mean, seriously? Spring roll or wonton wrappers? Come on! Asian sauces & spices?!?!

    Let’s not go there, but get our heads back in the game. First, It is NOT a Chiko Roll recipe if one is advocating the use of Spring Roll wrappers. That so many do highlights just how difficult it is to get the dough of the Chiko Roll right. What is the true mystery of the Chiko Roll? Well, it ain’t the filling, its the dough!

    (Addendum: here”s a more recent site that make a credible attempt at the dough. – 06.2016)

    Now, according to a  more reputable source than most blogs, including this one  😉 we get the following description of how it was originally made:

    He made his first rolls on a small hand-fed sausage machine.  They were a concoction of boned mutton, celery, cabbage, barley, rice, carrots and spices.  This combination was then wrapped in a thick egg and flour dough, then fried.  Both ends were hand- painted.

    Next, over at the Cooks Info site we get this description of more current practices:

    The Chiko factories make as one long roll which is cooked, then sliced, then pastry ends are added, then the rolls are fried a second time.

    Kind of like this Finger Spring Roll maker, but with different dough:

    Looking at the other end of the world and another similar roll like product, we have this preparation of Cannelloni:

    And then there is this method:

    So why are we looking at these anyway? The reason is simple, different doughs have different tensile strengths and their thickness impacts on the way they bake or fry. The modern Chiko Roll seems to be first baked to set the dough, frozen and then deep fried at point of sale. None of the videos above give an indication of how the ends are applied to the roll, or when in production that might occur.

    Before we get too carried away, we need to look at the dimensions of a Chiko Roll: weight – 170g, length – 20cm (8″), diameter –  4-5cm (2″); cooked dough thickness is approx. 4-5mm thick. Now, if we go back to the original description where the dough was filled with a sausage stuffer, we must confront some questions:

    • Were the dough casings made before filling or after, and if before how were they kept in shape to be successfully filled? I have previously tried to make dough tubes, semi-bake them using cannoli pipe forms – it was a disaster and the texture was all wrong.
    • Was the filling extruded into fixed lengths then frozen before wrapping the dough around the frozen filling? I tried that too, the dough wrapper kept expanding and became loose around the filling.
    • Why 20 cm long? Why 5 cm diameter? I suspect the dough was rolled out using a hand operated pasta dough roller, the filling extruded from a sausage stuffer into lengths and then placed down the length of the dough sheet and the sheet folded over and sealed before being cut into approx. 20 cm lengths (the length of a cooks knife blade, also happens to be roughly the length of two hands held together side by side.)

    Now, the, “egg batter dough.” I’ve also asked this question a dozen times before and every trial so far has produced the wrong texture. I’ve tried plain egg with flour and salt,no egg, adding baking soda, just using egg yolk… you get the picture, nada, zip, alles kaput!– just another way to make fried bread dough.

    Recently however, I was browsing through one of my mum’s old books, a post-war era gem from the Victorian Housewives Association and it described an method for making a batter for coating fish, the method was not something I was familiar with nor did I expect the results it produced. The concept is simple, separate the yolk and the white, beat the white to stiff peaks and fold it back into the thicker batter then allow it to rest for an hour.

    There are two take home points in this, often in baking we use beaten egg whites to incorporate more air into a batter, cake mix (especially) or bread type dough. The second point is the resting of dough or batter for an hour or so. We now know that this resting allows the starch to fully hydrate which then cooks more evenly, insufficient hydration of starches in flours results in what is referred to as a “floury taste” something especially disliked in a gravy.

    What is clear from all of this is that the Chiko Roll Egg Dough is a batter pastry dough. It is well aerated when cooked and has a chewy, spongy texture. It is definitely not  a soda bread dough. So, where does this lead us?

    1. two stiff egg batters: both with beaten egg white, one with yolk, one without; made to the raw consistency and feel of a soft pasta dough or pie base. Well rested before use, perhaps 12-24 hrs.
    2. two processes to explore effects of heat on dough texture: one, biscuit bake the fresh rolls; two, blanch fry the rolls.

    So far its been quite the odyssey so I look forward to these next steps. Once this is close to right, then things like Corn Jacks are an interesting sidestep – Corn Jacks appear to be rolled before cooking, in coarse Semolina, to texturise the surface and give a slightly different look to the more or less naked look, of the Chiko Roll.

    Stay tuned, and we’ll get back to you on our progress. Watch this spot. Cheers.


  8. Free E-Book: Chángshā Kǒuwèixiā 长沙口味虾

    April 15, 2015 by Villa Tempest

    I wrote a little booklet back in 2012 about this wonderful Chinese dish.

    Today, I just updated it, making a few corrections and changing the recipe a little to reflect an improved understanding of the process of making this dish.

    Couple of things to add though, if you have access to Louisiana Crawfish, then feel free to use that instead of the Chinese variety. If you don’t have access to either then one option is to use IKEA Kräftor, which on last check are sourced from China and are of the correct crayfish species. Another alternative is to use some other medium to large, fresh water crayfish, e.g. if you’re in Australia yabbies are a good substitute. If using Kräftor, they need to be rinsed and soaked to reduce the influence of the dill that they are packed with.

    Oh and one last thing, when adding water to hot oil, be really careful! The oil has to have had a chance to really cool down so that the temperature is around 100°C or a little lower. This is really important!

    Have fun.

    Chángshā Kǒuwèixiā


  9. Gemüserolle auf vegetarische Art – Vegetarian-style mixed vegetable roll.

    December 17, 2012 by ThePieMan

    In recent times I’ve had pretty good success with my “Piebase” [a shortcrust style pastry typically used in Australian-style handheld savoury pies) so much so that making it is no longer a chore – I enjoy the process and the results. Now, I’m experimenting with grinding my own flour. This means my piebase is morphing into a wholemeal pastry, but at present I’m still wrestling with grit that is noticeable to the tooth. If I can get this sorted, I’ll be very happy.

    Meanwhile, I was thinking about my pietops and sausage roll pastry – a puff or rough puf pastry. Now, it was mentioned to me, by a great bvaker in Tasmania, that I could take ordinary piebase and use it as the détrompé for making rough puff pastry, but like usual I forgot that little detail in the mass of many things happening at the time.

    However, today I was researching vegetarian dishes, in particular Indian and Turkish as some of the vegetarians in my German language class are vegetarian, Indian or Turkish. I came across a great website that had a listing for Puff Borek, a Turkish style vegetarian sausage roll, so to speak and reading through the recipe details reminded me of what I’d been earlier told, so… having some leftover piebase in the fridge, I pilled it out and followed the details for Puff Borek Pastry. Two turns later, some chilling and filling with an ad hoc vegetarian filling, and here’s how the pastry looked, out of the oven.

    The layered structure is clearly visible. Looking good so far, but what about the crispness, lightness, flakiness? Cutting it open and I couldn’t be more happy.

    Basically, what I did was pass the piebase through my dough sheeter until it was about 1 mm thick. I then took melted margarine and laid down a coating on a section of pastry, folded the pastry over itself and repeated the process. This produced three layers of dough with two layers of fat in between. I then butter half od the top of the dough and folded it over itself again. The edges were sealed and the pastry wrapped and placed into the fridge. Turn One Complete (6 layers of dough, 5 of fat). I repeated this process a second time (36 layers … ) and after chilling, rolled the pastry out to 3mm thick, filled it and then baked low in the oven at 250C for 25min.

    “Very Happy” with the results. Not hard to do, takes a bit of time, but in the intervals I was able to make the filling, drink tea and do other things. No Problem. This is very easy pastry making at its best. Love it!


  10. What’s Your Idea of a Chinese Banquet

    September 25, 2011 by Villa Tempest

    Recently, we’ve been reviewing our time in China and some of the many, many dishes we enjoyed. By doing this we’ve managed to nail down a set of dishes we believe encompasses our experiences and would make the Number One’s list.

    This of course begs the question, what dishes would make it onto your, all time favourites, Chinese Banquet Menu?

    This is our choice of an all time favourite Chinese Banquet

    Starter

    Kouweisha, 口味虾 & Liang Bang Huanggua, 凉拌黄瓜 or Chuan La Huanggua, 麻辣黄瓜

    Changsha-style Spicy Freshwater Crayfish, and

    Cucumber Salad or Spicy Sichuan Cucumber

    Main

    1. Ma Po Dou Fu, 麻婆豆腐

    Mapo Tofu

    2. Muer Chao Jidan, 木耳炒鸡蛋

    Stir fried Woodear Fungus and Egg

    3. La Baicai

    Spicy Cabbage

    4. Qing Cong Rong Xilanhua, 青葱西兰花

    Shallots,青葱 (instead of garlic, 蒜茸) sauteed with Broccoli

    5. Qing Jiao Niurou Si, 青椒牛肉丝

    Stir Fried Beef and Green Pepper

    6. Qing Zheng Gui Yu, 清蒸桂鱼

    Steamed Mandarin Fish

    Soup

    Xi hong shi Ji dan Tang, 西红柿鸡蛋汤

    Tomato and Egg Soup

    Palate Cleanser

    Hami Gua, 哈密瓜 or Seasonal Fruits

    …And that’s the latest news from Villa Tempest.