New Year Money Bags

For New Years Eve, Will and I went to my parents and cooked dinner. His contribution was a traditional New Years dumpling called money bags. Here’s what he has to say about it:

I just got this cookbook for Christmas, and decided to adapt this recipe (which usually is made with pork) for dinner, in honor of the New Year. I omitted the shrimp, replaced the pork with wheat gluten, and added some extra oil and seasoning to replace the salt and fat that would otherwise be in the filling. The recipe called for 3 cups of sweet-potato starch, which I think must be a typo.

New Year Money Bags (Jin Yuan Bao)?

Adapted from Cooking From China’s Fujian Province by Jacqueline M. Newman.

Ingredients:

8 dried Chinese style shittake mushrooms, soaked stems down, stems removed.
8 oz wheat gluten or other meat substitute (I used ‘mian chang’ — wheat gluten intestine, and mine was made with some soy as well).
4 scallions, green and white parts
4 cloves garlic, or 2 cloves of garlic and 2 stalks fresh garlic if available
4 slices fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 C fresh cilantro, with some stems, washed and dried
salted mustard stem or other salted Chinese vegetable
4 tsp regular soy sauce
4 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp vegetable oil
4 tsp Fujian / Fukien rice wine (probably can substitute Shaoxing if not available)
pinch or two of salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
pinch vegetarian bouillon or seasoning (optional)
3 Tbsp sweet-potato flour (note: this is not the same as potato flour / potato starch, though you could probably sub potato starch or cornstarch)
1 package square wonton wrappers (eggless if you’re trying to make vegan)
1 egg, beaten, ener-g egg replacer or corn / potato starch mixed with water vegetable oil, for frying.

money bagsmoney bags

Directions:

Wring out the wheat gluten and shittakes so that they’ll soak up as much of the liquids as possible.

Finely mince the mushrooms, wheat gluten, scallions, garlic / fresh garlic stalks, ginger, and cilantro. Chop the salted vegetable a little more coarsely. Mix together.

money bags

Mix the wet ingredients along with the salt, white pepper, and vegetarian boullion or seasoning.

Add the sweet-potato flour and wet ingredients to the mushroom / wheat gluten mixture, and combine. Let set for a little for the liquid ingredients to get absorbed.

money bags

The recipe’s directions for folding the pouches are pretty unhelpful. I mostly just followed my father-in-law, but this is one of those times where a picture is worth 1000 words. Basically like a normal wonton, but you try not to leave much space in the middle, and you push the points down and square off the ends to try and form roughly an “ingot” shape. Use the egg or water / starch slurry to seal.

money bags

Deep-fry in vegetable oil until golden and crispy, and let drain on a rack. Serve with any kind of dipping sauce (we had a simple sauce with lemon, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sugar, but I bet a thick sweet / sour type sauce or Chinese mustard would be good too).

money bags

Hand-cut Noodles in Soup

hand cut noodles made by me

I was channeling a dong bei noodle master’s energy this afternoon because I was overcome with the spirit to make some noodles.  For the dough, I winged it, but it’s roughly:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp salt

I stirred the salt into the warm water till it dissolved, then slowly poured it into my mountain of flour, kneading it as I went. When most of the water was incorporated, I started to really knead the dough.  It was a nice mid-afternoon stress release. I highly recommend it as a break from work. After kneading for about 10 minutes, the dough should be mostly smooth. Stick it in a ziplock bag and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

When you’re ready to cut the noodles, generously flour a flat surface and your rolling pin.  Cut the mound of dough in two and work with one half at a time.  I did a combination of rolling flat and folding to get the noodles thin enough.  When they got to my preferred thinness, I rolled it into a tube and sliced it into noodles.  Sprinkle the noodles with flour, toss them a little, and set them aside while the water boils.

The broth for this noodle soup was made from a mishmash of leftovers in the fridge: baby bok choy, wood ear mushroom, dried shiitake, leeks, and some preserved bamboo shoots.  After adding a sprinkling of white pepper at the end, it turned out to be a tasty broth that wasn’t so strong it overpowered my freshly made noodles.

The noodles were a cinch to cook since they were fresh. I don’t think it took longer than 5 minutes for them to fully cook in boiling water.

hand cut noodles made by meNot bad for a last-minute, gotta-clear-the-fridge meal.

Vegetarian Twice Cooked Pork

Will wanted to blog about his Twice Cooked Pork recipe and here it is below.

I’ve been wanting to try making a vegetarian adaptation of “Twice Cooked Pork” (回锅肉). I’ve had versions in Buddhist vegetarian restaurants; these are usually a little heavy on the fake meat, and for religious reasons, usually don’t contain garlic shoots or leeks. Of course, since the dish contains no pork, and is not really “twice cooked”, I’ll admit it’s kind of a stretch, but the result is pretty tasty, so, whatever you call it, I think it’s worth sharing.

twice cooked veggie pork

One of the Chinese language recipes I found had you add some broken up dàn pí (蛋皮) which I thought might soak up too much of the seasoning, but decided to try. Vegans can easily omit it. I adapted the cooking method and seasoning from Fuchsia Dunlop’s recipe in her excellent book on Sichuan cooking Land of Plenty. I skipped the Sichuan sweet bean paste, which I think will be hard to find.

Recipe for Vegetarian Twice Cooked “Pork” (素回锅肉)

Ingredients:

twice cooked veggie pork

1 square baked 5 spice tofu (xiāng gān; 香干)
2-3 bean curd sticks (fǔ zhú; 腐竹), soaked overnight or frozen and mostly-thawed
1-2 eggs (optional)
2 large leeks or 6 young garlic shoots (suàn miáo; 蒜苗)
1-2 Tbsp Chili bean paste (dòu bàn jiàng; 豆瓣酱)
1 Tbsp Fermented black bean paste (dòu chǐ; 豆豉)
1 tsp dark soy sauce (you can replace a little of it with regular soy sauce)
1 tsp sugar
Green pepper or cabbage (optional)
dry chilies (optional)


twice cooked veggie pork

Directions:

  1. Cut baked tofu in slices, so that some soy sauce covered bits are showing in each piece. Cut in half, depending on the size of the block. Cut the bean curd sticks to about the same size.
  2. Beat the egg(s) if used and pan fry into a thin sheet (dan pi), then break up into little pieces, either with the wok spatula or with
    a knife.
  3. If Western leeks are being used, cook them separately ahead of time to make them less green tasting.
  4. Add the appropriate amount of oil, then add the tofu and bean curd sticks, stir-frying until slightly browned, tossing to brown evenly. Remove to a bowl.
  5. Stir-fry green-peppers or cabbage in some more oil.
  6. Add doubanjiang and dou chi, sitr-fry until fragrant, then toss with vegetables, add in egg pieces, and tofu. Add the soy sauce /sugar mixture, and then the leeks, tossing until well combined.

twice cooked veggie pork

Based on http://www.caipucaipu.com/jiachangcaipu/1357.html and the hui
guo rou recipe in Fuchsia Dunlop “Land of Plenty”