Zhongzi

This is how to make Taiwanese style zhongzi. This is my grandma’s recipe. Follow these instructions exactly and they’ll taste amazing.

Makes 30 zhongzi

Prep time: 37 hours

Cook time: 1.5 hours

Ingredients:

  • 60 bamboo leaves
  • 5 lbs superior short grain rice (glutinous rice)
  • 5 shallots
  • 2 cups of small dried shrimp
  • 2 lbs pork belly
  • 1 lbs lean pork shoulder
  • 18 Japanese flower mushrooms
  • High quality soy sauce
  • High quality thick soy sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • String – 3 bundles with 12 strings per “loop”
  • One 1″ thick stick – at least 3 feet long

Preparation steps:

Active time: 4-5 hours

  1. (Day 1) Soak the bamboo leaves for 24 hours in the sink.

    Bamboo leaves
    Bamboo leaves
  2. Create 3 loops of string with 12 ends per loop. Each end should be about 1 foot long and is for 1 zhongzi. The loops go on the stick.

    Looped strings
    Looped strings
  3. (Day 2 – First 4 hours) After 24 hours, scrub each leaf’s side in the sink with one stroke using a sponge and soapy water. After washing, rinse the leaves and transfer to a large pan or pot.

    Cleaning leaves
    Cleaning leaves
  4. Dip each leaf into boiling water for only a few seconds to soften them up. Do not dip too long otherwise the flavor leeches out. Two are needed per zhongzi. Lay them flat and put something heavy and flat on the whole pile, like a cutting board, or else they’ll curl.

    Dipped leaves
    Dipped leaves
  5. Soak the mushrooms in a bowl of water and 1 tablespoon of Japanese cooking wine for 2 hours

    Soaked mushrooms
    Soaked mushrooms
  6. Soak the dried shrimp in a bowl of water and 1 tablespoon of Japanese cooking wine for 2 hours

    Soaked mini shrimp
    Soaked mini shrimp
  7. Peel the shallots and wash them quickly. Mince them into 1 cm x 1 cm pieces. Spread them out and let them air dry for an hour.
    Mince shallots
    Mince shallots

    Minced shallots
    Minced shallots
  8. Rinse the pork belly and pork shoulder then pat them dry. Cut the chunks into pieces about the size of a baby carrot as shown in the pictures. Put these chunks into a mixing bowl.
    1. Note: First cut against the muscle fiber direction when making the larger cut. Then when cutting the pieces into smaller pieces, cut with the muscle fiber direction as shown in the picture.
      Cleaned pork
      Cleaned pork
      Cut direction
      Cut direction
      Pork chunk size
      Pork chunk size

      Chunks
      Chunks
  9. Mix in 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, and 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and massage them into the pork well. Set aside.
  10. Test the readiness of the mushrooms by squeezing them. They’re ready when they’re the consistency of a sponge.
  11. Remove the mushroom stem then cut the stem in half. Set the cap halves aside.

    Sliced mushroom caps
    Sliced mushroom caps
  12. Drain the shrimp and set aside.
  13. Store all prepared ingredients for the cooking steps.
    1. Note: Day 3 steps can be done during Day 2 if you’re motivated enough. If so, start soaking the rice when you start soaking everything else.

 

Cooking steps:

Time: 9 hours

  1. (Day 3) Soak the superior short grain rice (glutinous rice) for 5 hours.
  2. After soaking is done, rinse the rice until the water is clear. Drain the rice and add in 2 tablespoons of salt and mix it in.

    Rice with salt
    Rice with salt
  3. Fry the shallots on medium heat until they’re brown and start searing. Stir the entire time.

    Cooking shallots
    Cooking shallots
  4. Add the dried shrimp. Fry for 3 minutes while stirring the entire time.
  5. Add the mushroom caps and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Fry for 3 minutes while stirring the entire time.

    Cooking shallots, shrimp, and mushrooms
    Cooking shallots, shrimp, and mushrooms
  6. Remove the entire mixture to a separate container. The pan doesn’t have to be perfectly clean.
  7. Increase the heat to high then add in the pork chunks. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring the entire time.

    Cooking pork
    Cooking pork
  8. Once the pork is mostly cooked, add in the other cooked ingredients and reduce heat to 3/4 heat. Add 4 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of thick soy sauce. Keep stirring and cooking for 3 minutes until everything is well mixed together.

    Cooked ingredients
    Cooked ingredients
  9. Cover and reduce heat to low. Let sit for 7 minutes then remove from heat.

    Covered cooked ingredients
    Covered cooked ingredients

 

Zhongzi making steps:

Time: 2.5 hours

  1. As stated before, you’ll need 2 leaves per zhongzi. The top (sun) side of the leaf is the rice-facing side. Snip the leaf ends. Follow the pictures to see how to line them up. Proper alignment is crucial for making them well.
    Snipped ends
    Snipped ends

    Proper alignment
    Proper alignment
  2. Add the string loops onto the stick. Place the stick about head height. Sit on a low stool. Put the ingredients on some books or something. Keep your hands dry or at least free from oil. Use chopsticks and a spoon to add stuff.

    Stations and placement
    Stations and placement
  3. Create the leaf pocket by folding it like the picture.

    Folded leaf
    Folded leaf
  4. Add one spoonful of rice and create a divot.
    Spoonful
    Spoonful

    Rice divot
    Rice divot
  5. Add a mushroom half-cap.

    Mushroom first
    Mushroom first
  6. Add a pork belly piece.

    Pork belly second
    Pork belly second
  7. Add a pork shoulder piece.

    Pork shoulder third
    Pork shoulder third
  8. Add about 2 teaspoons worth of shrimp/shallot mix.

    Add shrimp/shallot mix
    Add shrimp/shallot mix with a spoon
  9. Top off those with rice. Fold the leaf over the top.

    Cover with another spoonful of rice
    Cover with another spoonful of rice
  10. When folding, the packing must be kind of tight or else everything will fall out. It should feel like mochi in terms of tightness.
    Get ready
    Get ready

    Folding time
    Folding time
  11. The leaf over extension part should equal the zhongzi length.

    Leaf fold
    Leaf fold
  12. Make sure to keep your pinky near the fold when using your palm to fold the leave over as a cap. Fold the end of the leaf to the right then tie it up using the string that looped on the stick.
    Pinky up!
    Pinky up!
    Folding step
    Folding step

    Hold the fold down
    Hold the fold down

  13. When tying the zhongzi, grandma recommends an actual knot instead of a quick-release knot. Loop it over twice (open your thumb on the first loop around) and tie it around tight. Make sure to tie over the folded leaf.
    Start high up
    Start high up

    First one down!
    First one down!

 

 

Second cooking steps:

Time: 1.5 hours

  1. Boil a large pot of water.
  2. Remove the bundles from the stick.
  3. Add all the bundles into the single pot. Grandma recommends this so that the flavor stays in one pot.
  4. About 45 minutes in, rotate the bundles so that the top one switches with the bottom one.
  5. After 1.5 hours. Remove all bundles and add the loops back onto the stick. Make sure that there’s newspaper or something underneath the bundles since they’ll drip.
  6. Enjoy!

    It's easier with two people (I helped)
    It’s easier with two people (I helped)

Hasselhoff baked potato

WARNING: Your whole house will smell awesome and irresistible. Also, you may experience a minor heart attack from eating this. Both things are totally worth it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of bacon
  • 1 large potato
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Salt, pepper, herbs, paprika, etc.
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
Ingredients needed
Ingredients needed

Steps:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Slice a potato straight across a lot, but not all the way through. You’ll be able to fold it open a little. Then start shoving bacon, garlic, and slices of butter in the slits. All of it. No, it’s not excessive you pansy. Keep shoving.
Bacon in the slits
Bacon in the slits
  • Sprinkle the salt, pepper, and seasonings on. Don’t be shy.
Season the baked potato
Season the baked potato
  • Drizzle olive oil on that bundle of joy then put it into the oven for 45-60 minutes. Prepare for the agony that is your house smelling awesome, but can’t eat this yet. It’ll come out of the oven looking like this:
Baked potato pre-cheese
Baked potato pre-cheese
  • Awww yaaaaa. Now add the cheese on top while it’s still hot. Watch the glorious cheddar melt on this bad boy.
Cheesy goodness
Cheesy goodness
  • Once the cheese has melted, grab any other ingredients and a beer and go to town. You should probably also go to the gym after eating this.

Pan de queso

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) tapioca flour or sour cassava flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese

Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Combine the milk, oil, and salt in the saucepan, and whisking occasionally, bring it to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove from heat as soon as you see big bubbles coming through the milk.
  • Add all of the tapioca flour to the saucepan and stir until you see no more dry tapioca flour. The dough will be grainy and gelatinous at this point.
  • Transfer the dough to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. (Alternatively, you can do the next few steps by hand. Be prepared for a work-out.) Beat the dough for a few minutes at medium speed until it smooths out and has cooled enough that you can hold your finger against the dough for several seconds.
  • Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl. With the mixer on medium, beat the eggs into the dough in two additions. Wait until the first addition has been fully incorporated into the dough before adding the second. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • With the mixer on medium, beat in the cheese until fully incorporated. The resulting dough will be very sticky, stretchy, and soft with a consistency between cake batter and cooke dough.
  • Using an ice cream scoop, a tablespoon measure, or a dinner spoon, scoop rounded portions of the dough into mounds on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Space the mounds an inch or two apart. Dip your scoop in water to prevent sticking.
  • Transfer the sheet with the puffs to the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 350°F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the puffs have puffed, the outsides are dry, and they are just starting to color. Cool briefly and eat. Leftover puffs can be kept in an airtight container for up to a week and re-crisped in a warm oven or toaster oven.
Brazilian cheese bread
Brazilian cheese bread

Root beer fried chicken

Some know it as “change-your-life” chicken or “the-reason-why-I-havent-bounced-back-from-extra-holiday-poundage” chicken 🙂

Brine:
2 cans root beer
1 tablespoon salt
1 tsp thyme
4 cloves garlic chopped
4 teaspoons mild hot sauce
12 chicken legs
Batter:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons black pepper
4 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
6 cloves garlic, chopped (DO NOT SUBSTITUTE GARLIC POWDER OR I CANNOT VOUCH FOR THIS RECIPE!)
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1. In a large bowl, combine brine ingredients. Cover & set in fridge for ~4 hours.
2. In another bowl, combine batter ingredients.
3. Bust out a pot (wide enough to cook at least 3 legs at a time without crowding) and candy thermometer–you want to maintain a temp of 350. Heat about 1 1/2 in of oil.
4. Prep chicken (you can prep as you go). Remove chicken from brine and pat dry. Cover in flour mixture, then shake excess off. Then do another coat: dunk in brine quickly, flour, shake.
5. Working in batches of 2 or 3 at a time, carefully lower thighs into the hot oil. The oil temperature will plummet when the cold chicken goes into the pan; turn up the heat and carefully monitor the temperature. Cook for a little more than 3 minutes on one side, a little more than 3 minutes on the other, and then a final 3 minutes on the first side. Remove to a wire rack or paper towel to drain.
6. The juices should run clear when the chicken is poked with a knife. If necessary, transfer the browned chicken to a baking sheet and bake until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees on a instant-read thermometer.
Optional: Serve w/ sriracha mayo (literally just mix the two to your level of spiciness) but it’s spectacular by itself so you might end up wasting the mayo.
Somewhat adapted from this but better:

 

 

Miso salmon

Ingredients:

  • White miso paste (6 tablespoons)
  • 1 or 2 green onions (coarsely chopped)
  • Rice wine (1/3 cup)
  • Sugar (4 tablespoons)
  • 4 salmon fillets

Steps:

  • Mix miso paste, rice wine, and sugar in a bowl. Mash and stir until a consistent mixture is  formed with a medium consistency similar to thicker oatmeal, but completely mixed together. Add in miso or rice wine accordingly to achieve this.
  • Put the salmon in a tupperware container that has been lined with a paper towel. Cover all salmon fillets in the miso and rub it on.
  • Add the green onions in and place around all the fillets.
  • Cover the fillets with a paper towel and marinate for 24 hours.
  • To cook the salmon, place 2 fillets on a plate, cover with a  paper towel, then microwave for 3 minutes or until cooked. The ends should be slightly seared compared to the rest of the fish.
  • Serve with rice.

Sushi

Ingredients:
Sushi rice – 2 cups for 4 adults
Rice vinegar – 2 tablespoons (if seasoned, no need to add sugar and salt)
Sugar
Salt
Unsalted seaweed sheets
Avocado
Wasabi
Soy sauce
Sushi grade fish
Steps:
  • Rinse rice until not cloudy
  • Cut veggies
  • Cook rice by 115ml water for 100g of rice, but not in a teflon pot. Boil high. Cover with a glass lid and don’t uncover it. Start a timer for 7 minutes once the water starts boiling. Once 7 minutes are up, simmer for 15 minutes. Cool for 1 hour between 2 cold towels.
  • Create a seasoning using the rice vinegar with a tiny amount of sugar and even less salt. Dissolve these in the rice vinegar. Heat. Taste. Adjust if needed.
  • Once cooled, put the rice on a  baking sheet, but never use foil on the sheet.
  • Mix rice with rice vinegar mix by slicing in and folding with a wooden, bamboo, or plastic spatula.
  • Lay the seaweed down then add rice and other ingredients. Flatten the rice out using the wetted spatula to prevent sticking. Dampen ends of the rice to stick it to the seaweed at the end. Roll by folding 1/3 of the way then roll.
  • Cut by halves. Wet the knife to make it easier if it’s a dull blade.