At some point before or around college, I developed an interest in matcha, or mo cha (抹茶), when I was in high school and college, and would make desserts for fancy occasions with the prized $6/1 oz matcha canister that I would get from Mitsuwa. When my sister got married in 2009, one of the cake tiers that I made for her was a lovely green tea chiffon cake with passion fruit mousse. When I was in college, I experimented with that same chiffon cake with a pomegranate mousse for Christmas- green and red! Boy, was I ambitious then 😉
Nowadays, I don’t dream about matcha as much as I did before, but I did see a great deal on matcha at Mitsuwa when we went to get ramen. I’ll bet that no ‘Asian’ food blog is complete without at least one matcha item in it, so here is matcha in one of its simplest forms (besides just drinking it)- ice cream!
I looked and looked to see if I could find any information about ingredients used in this old school brand of green tea ice cream that I remember seeing in California grocery stores, but no luck..There was a picture of a snowy mountain on the container, with dark bluish and white accents for the snow? Maybe even light pink/coral background. I think it was some brand name that sounded rather Japanese, and I remember it was very bitter, and that at first I didn’t like it that much. Once I actually got over the bitterness and tasted it for its tea-ness, I enjoyed it. Sadly, I have no idea if that brand exists anymore, and have no recollection of the name. Please leave a comment if you can shed some light on this long lost ice cream brand!
Anyway, all this to say that nowadays, sometimes I am disappointed in green tea ice creams because I expect a kick of strong matcha, and it’s not..I set out to make a very strong
Disclaimer: This ice cream is very matcha-y, but does not like to form into an ice cream scoop very well. It is much easier to get thick shavings of. However…if you like hard or chewy ice creams, this one is totally for you!
My first memories and experiences of making mochi were in my junior year of college, with my best friend Jeska. You see, Jeska has an unfortunately long list of foods that upset her stomach, including an essential ingredient of most Western desserts: eggs. This meant that most of the baked goods that I made were, well, anti-Jeska food..
Fortunately, she brought with her to our new apartment a handwritten recipe for making mochi from scratch, given to her by her mom (Thanks, Auntie!) Shortly after, we commenced on a mochi-making experiment. About an hour later, we were covered with cornstarch, ouch-ing from the hot mochi mixture, but very happy with the results. We now had chewy, Jeska-friendly dessert that we made all by ourselves.
Maybe it was the fear of the thought of wrestling that hot dough, or the influence of my husband’s aversion to having food-coated fingers….But sadly, I only made mochi a few times on my own after that, despite my love for all things chewy and QQ.
While perusing Taiwanese cooking shows on YouTube, I found a recipe for hakka-style mochi. We tend to think of mochi as having a filling (red bean paste comes to mind first), but this hakka style mochi is made by showering the mochi bits with coating; usually peanut or black sesame.
This may not have the red bean paste filling, but the peanut and black sesame are no-fuss and simple to prepare. A pair of chopsticks is highly recommended for this recipe, as it helps shape the mochi and keep your hands dough-free.
If you like nuts, this post is for you. If you like candy is that is just sweet enough to be dessert, but not so sweet that it makes your teeth hurt, this is also for you!
Meet peanut candy, Taiwan’s brilliantly concocted combination of peanuts and sugar! It tastes like peanuts with a unique sweetness and crunch, and is highly addicting..
The only special ingredient you’ll need is maltose, which is a very gooey liquid that you will have to wrestle out of the jar. My preferred method is to use a chopstick (or knife?) and dig into the maltose. Then, twirl the chopstick around and around until you have the right amount. The colder your measuring cup, the less likely the maltose is to get all gooey in it. Another option is to spray the measuring cup lightly with oil first.
|Find maltose in the section of the Asian grocery store where they sell types of sugar: I found this near the palm sugar, I think|
Peanut candy is so delicious on its own, but it’s even tastier in hua sheng juan bing qi lin (花生卷冰淇淋）, which is an ice cream burrito, if you will- a thin flour-based wrapped, stuffed with Taiwan-style ice cream (more similar to sorbet), shavings of this peanut candy, and cilantro (!? It’s really good! Trust me.)
My goal is to someday make this hua sheng juan bing qi lin, but the first step is to make a great peanut candy, which I feel I have done!
As with any recipe, but especially those involving caramelizing sugar(s）, please read the entire recipe all the way so that you can have your mise en place.
Tomorrow is the Lantern Festival, which is called Yuan Xiao Jie (元宵節）in Chinese. I don’t know much about it, other than the fact that it tang yuan is traditionally eaten at this time. Hooray for an excuse to eat tang yuan!
So, tell me more about tang yuan, you say. Remember yuan zi? Tang yuan are basically filled yuan zi. I think there are actually savory fillings and sweet fillings, but my only experience is with sweet, so that’s what I’ll be featuring today. A common filling that is also my favorite is black sesame paste, and other popular fillings include peanut and red bean paste
A few days before Chinese New Year, I brought red bean sticky rice cake for my friends at the restaurant to try. “What is it?” one of the servers asked. “Bean cake,” K told them. “Hmm, is this eaten with anything else- ice cream or something?” S asked. “It tastes….innnnnteresting…”
1) Sweet bean taste (and weaker bean taste, too, because this was a store-bought cake, not the one I made) and 2) Rice in dessert made for some disappointments in taste and texture department from these French cuisiners. Oops! Needless to say, they were not fans. I later told my mom on the phone about this funny cultural exchange, and we talked about the differences in Western and Eastern palates.
It’s funny how different cultures think about different ingredients. For beans, Western cuisine and Eastern cuisine have completely different takes on it!
When I think of beans with a Western brain, I think of salt: chili, hummus, rice and beans, split pea soup, and salad.
When I think of beans with an Eastern mindset, I think of both salt and sugar: tofu, soy sauce, soymilk pudding, red bean paste (豆沙), Vietnamese 三色冰 or Che Ba Mau, red bean soup, mung bean soup, etc.
But, please stay with me on this beany journey- learn to appreciate both the savory and sweet applications of our legume friends!
‘Mung bean’ is the more appealing translation of the Chinese word lv dou (綠豆). Lv dou actually translates to ‘green bean,’ just like adzuki bean is another word for red bean. I’m sure people would be gagging if they heard green bean soup as a dessert, as a picture of the lovely string bean would first pop up in their minds.
If the taro version is the ‘original’ 西米露, then allow me to call this its mung bean cousin.
I was tempted to add a pinch of salt, after thinking of how salt is so smartly applied in the famous Thai dessert of mango sticky rice, but feel free to include or exclude that if you wish. I don’t think Chinese people ever add salt to desserts, so I guess this is my take on this one.
Also, I’m not sure if 綠豆西米露 is the official correct name for this, but it’s the way I thought to differentiate it from its popular taro counterpart. Bon appétit!
|Pre-coconut milk…post coconut milk looks kind of funky! :d|
lv dou xi mi lu
Mung Bean Tapioca Soup Continue reading