Friday, April 22, 2022

Sourdough Discard Okonomiyaki Waffles

I’ve made waffled okonomiyakis before and sourdough discard okonomiyakis before, so I figured it was time to combine the two!  The use of sourdough discard in this recipe not only helps prevent waste, it also adds a little tanginess to the flavor, and adding a pinch of baking soda to the batter will cause it to get light and fluffy!  Using a waffle iron to make the okonomiyaki means that both sides get cooked at the same time (so no awkward flipping) and get a little crispier than just cooking it on a flat top.

You can add whatever fillings and toppings you want (it’s literally the definition of okonomiyaki); my preferences are bacon (easier for me to find than pork belly), and instead of chopping up my own cabbage, I usually grab a bag of pre-chopped coleslaw mix from the grocery store!  For toppings I like the homemade okonomiyakisauce from Just One Cookbook, Kewpie mayonnaise, bonito flakes, furikake, and chopped scallions.

Sourdough Discard Okonomiyaki Waffles
makes two 7’ round waffles

150 g (100% hydration) sourdough discard*
1 large egg
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of dashi powder
Pinch of baking soda
200 g chopped cabbage (or coleslaw mix)
4 slices bacon, cut so they’ll fit the waffle iron
Okonomiyaki sauce
Kewpie mayonnaise
Bonito flakes
Chopped scallions

Preheat your waffle iron to medium-high.

Mix the sourdough discard, egg, salt, sugar, dashi powder, and baking soda until well combined.  Add the cabbage and mix again.

Place half the bacon on the bottom of the waffle iron and grease the top half.  Add half of the batter on top of the bacon and close the waffle iron.  When it’s golden brown and cooked through, remove from the waffle iron and repeat.  Top immediately with your desired toppings and serve hot.

*I haven't tried this myself yet, but if you don’t have any sourdough discard, you could try mixing together 75 g all-purpose flour with 75 g water and skip the baking soda, but it won’t have quite as much flavor or fluffiness.

Previously:  Hurricane Popcorn Marshmallow Treats

Friday, March 25, 2022

Hurricane Popcorn Marshmallow Treats

Sometimes an idea pops in my head and it sounds so good that I'm sure someone else must have thought of it already, but then a quick search of the internets results in nothing!  I was inspired to make these because the kind folks at Sanzo had sent me some microwave popcorn and furikake in their limited edition Turning Red lychee sparkling water treat box.  My first thought was to make some hurricane popcorn with it, but I was already thinking of making some Rice Krispies treats, and then I just thought, why not combine them?

If you're not familiar with hurricane popcorn, it's a Hawaiian snack that combines kettle corn, furikake, and mochi crunch (aka Japanese rice crackers or arare).  It's one of those sweet and salty snacks that quickly becomes addictive because you just need that next bite to balance out the sweetness or saltiness from the last bite (kind of like Chicago mix popcorn).

These treats amp up the sweetness and crunch factor by adding marshmallows and Rice Krispies but still remain irresistible.  I add a little soy sauce (another common ingredient in hurricane popcorn) for saltiness but if that is a little too weird for you, you can just substitute with salt to taste.  Also, I only used 3 tablespoons of furikake so it's not too overpowering, but you can add more if really like that flavor.

Hurricane Popcorn Marshmallow Treats
makes 24 pieces

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon soy sauce (or substitute with salt, to taste)
3 tablespoons furikake, divided
14 oz. mini marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
2 cups popped popcorn
1 cup Japanese rice crackers

Line a 9"x13" baking pan with parchment paper.

Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Once fully melted, turn the heat to low and add the soy sauce (or salt) and 2 tablespoons of the furikake and stir until combined.  Add the marshmallows and stir occasionally until fully melted.

Add the cereal, popcorn, and rice crackers and mix until combined.  Pour the mixture into the lined baking pan and press down with oiled hands (I like to save the butter wrapper to do this with) into an even layer.  Top with the remaining tablespoon of furikake.

Let cool, then remove from the pan using the parchment paper and slice into 24 pieces.  Enjoy!

Previously:  Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup (Updated)
Next:  Sourdough Discard Okonomiyaki Waffles

Monday, March 14, 2022

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup (Updated)

Quite a few things have changed since I posted my first rendition of beef noodle soup on this blog 14 years ago (it was my 3rd blog post ever!):  I've gotten better at cooking; I went through a vegan, then vegetarian, then pescatarian stint; and I started posting on Instagram

I'd say I'm more of a social carnivore now in that I do eat meat when I'm out with friends but very rarely cook it at home.  In fact, I think I've only made beef noodle soup maybe once or twice since I posted the original recipe.  But after seeing all the delicious BNS posts on the Taiwanese Home Cooking FB group and receiving a chuck eye steak from Vermont Wagyu, I knew it was time to fix that.

Looking back at the original BNS post, I was shocked to see that it called for 1.5 cups of soy sauce!  I chalk it up to one of those mistakes that happens when someone with little cooking experience tries to transcribe a recipe from someone who never measures anything when cooking.  I've since adjusted the quantity to a more reasonable 1/2 cup of low-sodium soy sauce.

The original version calls for napa cabbage and angel hair pasta, and while both are perfectly fine to use, I now opt for the more photogenic baby bok choy and use more authentic Taiwanese dried noodles like A-Sha brand.  And for the lu dan, instead of cooking already hard-boiled eggs in the sauce, I prefer tucking chilled 7-minute boiled eggs in the soup after it's been strained and cooling.  This way the yolks remain nice and jammy while the whites absorb the delicious flavor.

A few other changes:  I've listed white peppercorns, a cinnamon stick, and bay leaf as optional spices in addition to the star anise.  If you don't have them it's fine, but if you have them it will add a nice complexity to the soup.  The star anise is an absolute must, though, to make this a Taiwanese beef noodle soup.  Lastly, I stole this idea from Kenji's recipe--since almost all soups taste better the next day, I remove the beef from the soup, then strain everything else out before letting it chill overnight in the fridge.

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
makes about 2-3 servings

1 lb. chuck steak, cut into 1" chunks
1 tablespoon oil, if needed
2 scallions, cut into 2" pieces
1 inch ginger, sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tomato, skinned and roughly chopped
1 star anise
1 teaspoon white peppercorns (optional)
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
3 tablespoons rock sugar
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup Shaoxing rice wine
2 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf (optional)
3 large eggs
Baby bok choy or napa cabbage, blanched
Noodles, cooked
Chili oil/sauce (like Sze Daddy), optional

If there is a lot of extraneous fat on the steak, you can cut it off and render it in a large Dutch oven or pot (add it to the pot cold then turn the heat to medium).  Otherwise, heat the oil in the pot and add the beef.  Flip the beef around to brown all the sides, then remove from the pot. 

Add the scallions, ginger, garlic, star anise, tomato, and white peppercorns and cinnamon stick, if using, to the pot and cook for a couple of minutes until very fragrant.  Add the rock sugar and stir around until it has mostly dissolved.  Return the beef to the pot and deglaze the bottom with the soy sauce and wine.  Add the beef broth and bay leaf, if using, and bring to a simmer.  Cover and continue to simmer on low for an hour.

In the meantime, bring another pot of water to boil.  Add the eggs (straight from the fridge) to the pot and set the timer for 7 minutes.  Prepare an ice bath.  After 7 minutes, remove the eggs from the pot and plunge them into the ice bath.  Once they are cool enough to handle, peel the eggs and set aside in the fridge to chill.

After an hour, check the beef for tenderness and the soup for flavor.  Cook longer or adjust seasonings if needed.  When the beef is ready, transfer from the soup into another pot or container large enough to hold the soup.  Strain the rest of the soup into the pot/container with the beef in it.  Add the peeled eggs, cover, let come to room temperature, then place in the fridge overnight.

When ready to serve, reheat the soup (remove the eggs first if you want to keep them jammy).  Blanch the veggies in boiling water until bright green and tender.  Remove and then cook the noodles in the same boiling water.  Drain and portion the noodles into 3 bowls, ladle the soup and beef over the noodles and add the veggies.  Slice the eggs in half and add to the bowl.  Serve with chili sauce (I like Sze Daddy for additional Taiwanese flavors) if you like.

Previously:  No Knead Sourdough Focaccia
Next:  Hurricane Popcorn Marshmallow Treats

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

No Knead Sourdough Focaccia

I've been tinkering around with my sourdough discard pizza dough recipe for a while now to produce a focaccia to my liking, and I think I've finally figured out a recipe that produces the kind of focaccia I prefer:  fluffy with lots of big holes, a crispy bottom, and a soft interior that won't go stale after a day or two.

What I love about this dough is that it's quite forgiving as well.  You basically want to slightly overproof the dough, so you don't have to worry about timing very much since you let it ferment overnight in the fridge.  And just like my sourdough discard pizza dough recipe, there's no kneading required!

Regarding toppings, I've made more traditional versions with just olive oil, salt, and rosemary, but I've also treated it like a pizza dough and topped it with shredded Gruyere and zucchini before.  My absolute favorite combination is to drizzle the top of the dough with Laoganma spicy chili crisp and top with slices of Taiwanese sausage, mala salt, scallions, and sesame seeds.

No Knead Sourdough Focaccia

makes one 9" x 12" focaccia

75 grams active 100% hydration sourdough starter
175 grams warm water
250 grams all-purpose flour
6 grams salt
Oil for greasing the dough and pan
Toppings (flaky sea salt, herbs, cheese, etc.)

Mix the starter with the water in a medium mixing bowl until the starter is well dissipated. Add the flour and mix until a dough forms and all the flour has been incorporated.  Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Add the salt and use wet hands to pinch and fold the dough for several minutes until the salt has dissolved and the dough has built up some strength.  Cover and let rest for 30-60 minutes. 

Stretch the 4 corners of the dough one at a time and fold it over itself (this is called applying a fold).  Dribble some oil on top and use your hands to spread the oil and cover the surface of the dough, including where it touches the bowl.  Cover and let rest for 4-6 hours until doubled in volume.  Transfer the dough to the fridge to rest overnight.

The next morning, generously grease a quarter-sheet pan and start to stretch the dough out in it.  Give the top of the dough a light coating of oil, cover, and let the dough come to room temperature over the next 2 hours.  Continue to stretch the dough out every 30 minutes or so until it almost fills the pan.  If you have one, place a pizza stone or baking steel on the middle rack and preheat the oven to 450°F.

Once your dough is at room temperature and starting to get puffy, add your toppings starting with the oil.  Carefully spread the oil across the surface of the dough and then dimple with your fingertips.  Add any additional toppings and continue to proof until your oven is preheated.  Bake the focaccia for 15-20 minutes until browned to your liking.  Let cool slightly before slicing or cutting with scissors to serve.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge depending on your toppings.  You can rewarm the focaccia by microwaving briefly or in a toaster oven at 200°F until warmed through.

Next:  Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup (updated)
Previously:  General Tso's Tofu

Saturday, September 19, 2020

General Tso's Tofu

I previously posted this recipe in an Instagram post, but since I make it so much, I figured it would be easier to find here for future reference.  The sauce recipe is adapted from Lev Grossman's Best General Tso Tofu recipe on Food52, and the idea to use sweet potato starch as the coating for the tofu came from my friend Rebecca.  If you don't have sweet potato starch, you can use regular potato starch or cornstarch or even just fry the tofu without any coating.

General Tso's Tofu
makes 2-3 servings

14-16 oz. firm or extra-firm tofu
1 large head of broccoli
3 garlic cloves, minced and divided
Oil for frying
Kosher salt, to taste
Sweet potato flour for coating
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons chicken stock
Gochujang or sriracha, to taste
1 inch fresh ginger, thinly sliced
Handful of scallions, chopped into 1" sections

Steamed rice

Drain and cut tofu into cubes (no need to press!). 

Heat oil in a large skillet and add 1 minced clove of garlic. Add broccoli florets, season with salt, and stir fry until bright green. Add ~1/3 cup water, cover, and steam until broccoli is tender. Remove from pan and wipe down the pan.

Cover bottom of skillet with 1/4" oil and heat over medium. Toss tofu cubes in sweet potato flour and fry in batches until all sides are golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. While tofu is frying, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, rice vinegar, chicken stock, and gochujang to taste.

Stir fry the remaining 2 minced cloves of garlic, ginger slices, and scallions in remaining oil. Add the sauce and cook until thickened. Add the fried tofu and broccoli back in and stir to coat. Serve with steamed rice.

Next:  No Knead Sourdough Focaccia
Previously:  My Sourdough Challah 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

My Sourdough Challah

I learned recently that there are at least 2 different kinds of challah:  the sweet, eggy Ashkenazi version which is probably what most people think of when they think of challah, and the Sephardic version, which is found in the Breaking Breads and Pastry Love cookbooks.  I've made both versions, but I like making the Sephardic version more because the dough is a lot easier for me to work with.

My go-to challah recipe is based off of the one from Pastry Love, except I substitute 50 g of my 100% hydration sourdough starter for 25 of flour, 25 g of water, and half the yeast.  The resulting bread doesn't have the full sourdough tang, but I find it easier to digest than the kind made with just commercial yeast.  If you have a very active starter, you might be able to get away with using less yeast or even forgoing it altogether, but I'm usually using starter that's been left to ferment on my counter overnight so it's not at its most active which is why I add some commercial yeast for insurance.

My Sourdough Challah
makes 1 loaf

50 g sourdough starter, 100% hydration
95 g warm water
4 g active or instant yeast
40 g sugar
2 large eggs (1 for the dough, 1 for the egg wash)
45 g vegetable oil
325 g all-purpose flour
7 g kosher salt

Mix the starter and water together in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Sprinkle on the yeast and allow to dissolve before adding the sugar, 1 egg, oil, and flour.  Knead using the dough hook on low for about 5 minutes until the dough comes together.  Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle on the salt and knead on low for 8 more minutes.  Cover again and let rest for 90 minutes at warm room temperature.

Uncover the dough and punch down.  Fold over the 4 corners of the dough, recover and let rest another 90 minutes.  

While the dough is fermenting, make an egg wash by whisking together the 2nd egg, 1 scant tablespoon of water, and a pinch of salt.  Mix well but try not to make too many air bubbles.

Punch down the dough again and divide into even portions (the number will depend on how many strands you want; for reference, the first two pictures in this post are a 7-strand braid and the last two are an 8-strand braid).  Working one at a time, press each portion into a rough rectangle.  You want to try to remove any large air bubbles at this point because they will form weak points in your strand.  To form the strand, you will be rolling over the long side of the rectangle like a jelly roll.  To help maintain tension in the dough, use your fingertips to gently push the portion you just rolled over back into the dough all along the length of the dough.  (I highly suggest you watching my IGTV video which shows you how to form the strands since it's much easier to show you than explain how to do it.)  When you get to the bottom of the dough, pinch the seam together and roll the log out a couple of times on the work surface to create a taut surface and start shaping it into a long strand.  At this point you can also taper the ends if you want.  Set aside and work on the next strand.

Once you've shaped all the strands into logs, start with the first log you formed and roll it out into a longer snake.  Set aside and work on the next one.  Once you've roll them all out into longer snakes, give them one last roll to their final length.  Allowing the dough to rest in between the 3 shaping rounds lets the dough relax a little and not shrink back so much.  Braid and form the strands into your desired shape.  Transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  

Brush on a thin, even layer of the egg wash, trying not to let too much settle in between the strands.  Let rest for 90-120 minutes in a warm, draft-free area (I use my microwave).  Preheat the oven to 350℉.

When the dough is nice and puffy, turn it 180° from the position it was when you applied the egg wash and brush on another thin, even layer.  Turning the loaf helps ensure that you don't miss any of the surface.  Bake the loaf for 30-35 minutes, turning once halfway, until it is evenly browned.  Let completely cool before slicing.  Store in a paper bag for up to 3 days.

Previously:  Sourdough Belgian Waffles
Next: General Tso's Tofu

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Sourdough Belgian Waffles

Well this is my first post in almost a year, so you know these are worth making!  I've been trying to find a sourdough waffle recipe that I like as much as Smitten Kitchen's essential raised waffles, but none of the ones I tried really had the flavor or texture I was looking for.

Then two things happened:  my friend Arthur sold me his Belgian waffle maker, and I tried making a half batch of  The Kitchen McCabe's sourdough Belgian waffles, only I started the first part of the batter late at night and didn't realize until the following morning that I had only used like a tablespoon of my sourdough starter in the batter instead of a full cup.  But the waffles were AMAZING.  Light and lacy, crispy on the outside and custardy on the inside, with enough flavor that you could eat it without any syrup or butter.

I needed to make sure I could replicate the waffles again, so I asked for testers on my Instagram page, and thankfully quite a few people responded.  Out of ~50 testers, 80% loved the waffles whereas the rest were less impressed.  The chief complaint was that they never got crispy or lost their crispiness too soon.  When I tried the recipe again myself, I noticed the same thing, but I did find that reheating the waffles in my toaster oven made them much crispier.

Another comment was that they were too salty.  I realized that I had listed the kosher salt by volume instead of weight, and since I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt, another other kind of salt was going produce a must saltier waffle.  Lesson learned!

Since such a small amount of starter is used in the recipe, it doesn't seem to matter much what kind of starter you use, but for what it's worth, my starter I keep is 100% hydration and fed with half AP flour and half whole wheat flour.  I tested these waffles once with more sourdough starter and once with milk instead of water.  I couldn't really tell too much of a difference with the former but found the latter to be even softer than the ones with water and with no added flavor.

All in all, I'd say these are the perfect waffles for someone who doesn't particularly like the flavor of sourdough in their waffles, but has sourdough starter and no milk, haha.  Since such a small amount of starter is used in the batter and it's such a runny batter, the rise you get is more from the baking soda in the waffle iron than from the sourdough.  It seems to help if you have one of those Belgian waffle makers that you flip too, but people had success with regular waffle irons, too.  This recipe doubles quite easily too, if you have more mouths to feed.

Sourdough Belgian Waffles
makes about 3-4 Belgian waffles, depending on the size of your waffle iron

10-50 g sourdough starter (does not need to be active starter; discard is fine)
120 g (1/2 cup) room temperature water
90 g flour (I like to use 25 g whole wheat flour + 65 g all-purpose flour)
42 g (3 tablespoons) melted butter, slightly cooled
1 g (1/2 teaspoon) Diamond Crystal kosher salt
15 g (1 tablespoon) honey
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 g (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

The night before, mix together the sourdough starter, water, and flours.  Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight.

In the morning, add the melted butter, salt, honey, egg, and vanilla extract.  Start heating up your waffle iron.  When it is ready, stir the baking soda into the waffle batter and mix well.  Lightly grease the iron and add ~1/2 cup batter to the iron and cook until golden brown.  Serve immediately or freeze.

P.S  If you'd like a really simple recipe for blueberry syrup, you can find it in the caption of this Instagram post.

Previously:  Snowskin Cake Truffle Mooncakes