Recipe: Bao buns with pork belly, spicy mayo and peanuts

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Since imitation is the highest form of flattery, Bao London should be very flattered that I attempted to make my own version of their amazing pork bao buns.

No, it’s nowhere near as good as theirs, but that was never the goal, instead it’s a very nice homemade version of the real thing. And for being a first attempt I think i did pretty well!

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The recipe I used for the dough, is actually from Bao but I used regular plain flour rather than bleached so the buns look a little dull compared to the ones you see in restaurants or Asian supermarkets. I also added more flour as couldn’t shape mine otherwise, but I will publish the recipe I used rather than my version of it, but if you have the same problem as I did, then it works to add more flour.

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I steamed the buns in a regular bamboo steamer with parchment paper at the bottom. So easy!

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The finished buns looked pretty good!

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While making the buns this pork belly was cooking in the oven. So yum!

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And here you see my condiments (clockwise from top left); quick-pickled cucumber, chopped coriander, hot mayo, chopped spring onions and chopped peanuts.

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I made a second version with leftover bulgogi chicken and used the mayo, coriander and spring onions for that one, and for the pork bao I used the mayo, pickled cucumber, peanuts and coriander. Both were really yummy but I must say the pork one was my favourite!

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Bao buns, makes around 20 (you need 2-3 per person)

Adapted from Bao London’s recipe.

500 g plain flour – bleached if you can find it in Chinese supermarkets (it gives that brilliant white colour)
2 tsp yeast
145 ml warm water
2 pinches salt
50g sugar
15 ml vegetable oil, plus extra for brushing
145 ml milk

Mix flour, yeast and warm water together in a bowl. Cover and leave for at least 30 minutes in a warm place until it has doubled in size. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until it comes together as one.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for ten minutes – it will be sticky but gradually become more elastic.

Break off 40 g dough and give it a quick knead, forcing it into an oval shape. Roll it out until around 2-3 mm thick and brush one side with vegetable oil.

Fold one side over the other and press down gently so it forms an oyster shell shape. Place on parchment paper in a warm bamboo steamer and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Steam for 15 minutes – the bun will rise and puff up but will be easy to break open.

Pork belly

1 pork belly 

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 125C. Place the pork in a buttered dish. Massage the salt into the rind and season the meat all over. Put in the oven and cook for two hours or until the meat is very tender.

Turn the heat up to 250C and cook the meat for another 10 minutes until the crackling is nice and crispy.

Spicy mayo

100 ml Hellman’s mayo

2-3 tsp Gochujang (Korean chilli paste)

a pinch of salt

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. 

Pickled cucumber

1/2 cucumber

1 tsp salt

75 ml caster sugar

acetic acid solution, also called sweet vinegar (1 part acetic acid  + 6-7 parts water)

1 tbsp water

Thinly slice the cucumber. This is easily done with a cheese slicer or potato peeler. Put the cucumber in a jar or bowl and pour in the salt and sugar, next add the acetic acid solution and water. Stir and make sure the salt and sugar dissolves. 

Bao buns with pork belly, spicy mayo and peanuts

bao buns, as above

pork belly, as above – cut into slices

spicy mayo, as above

pickled cucumber, as above

salted peanuts, finely chopped

coriander, finely chopped

Open the buns and spread some mayo onto the bottom half. Place two slices of pork belly on top, add a dollop of mayo and pickled cucumber. Scatter with chopped peanuts and coriander. 

Bao buns with bulgogi chicken, spicy mayo and spring onions

bao buns, as above

bulgogi chicken

spicy mayo, as above

spring onions, thinly sliced

coriander, finely chopped

Open the buns and spread some mayo onto the bottom half. Place two -three pieces of chicken on top, add a dollop of mayo and scatter with spring onions and coriander. 

 

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Recipe: lamb ribs with nigella seeds

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I tend to bookmark recipes to try all the time, but sometimes it takes me quite a while to actually try them out. This one, is definitely one of those as I first made a mental note while watching the series Simply Nigella, and then literally bookmarking the page in the cookbook, then leaving it for a year or so. But this recipe is worth the wait. It’s incredibly easy to “make” (the oven takes care of it really) and it’s really yummy and packed full of flavour.

If you’re not a fan of lamb meat this may not be for you as the meat flavour is really strong because of the cut and the fat that melts over the meat in the oven. But if you, like me – like lamb – they’re heavenly!

 

Lamb ribs with nigella and cumin seeds, serves 6-10

Adapted from Nigella’s recipe.

4 teaspoons nigella seeds

4 teaspoons cumin seeds

4 teaspoons regular olive oil

4 tablespoons soy sauce

4 cloves garlic (peeled and finely grated, or minced)

24 lamb ribs (cut from 3 lamb breasts, bones in)

Preheat the oven to 150ºC. Line a large roasting tin with foil and sit a rack on top.

Get out a dish and add the nigella and cumin seeds, pour in the oil and soy and add the garlic. Stir to combine.

Dip the ribs, one by one, in this mixture, so that they are lightly coated on both sides; you may think this scant amount won’t be enough for all the ribs, but it is. 

Arrange them on the rack above the lined baking tin and cook in the oven for 1½–2 hours (they can differ in size), or until the fat on the ribs is crisp and the meat tender. Serve. 

 

 

Recipe: Beef Rydberg (a Swedish classic)

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Typically when I buy fillet of beef to make a steak sandwich or a pizza with steak and bearnaise sauce, I get some steak leftover. A first world problem I know, but this is the best way I know to use up those bits of steak. (Please note that only fillet of steak will do here as you want small tender uniform pieces.)

Beef Rydberg is a real classic Swedish restaurant dish served with fried onions and potatoes, a dijon crème and plenty of grated horseradish. It’s both hearty and sophisticated somehow and very comforting during the colder months.

Beef Rydberg, serves 2

ca 300 g fillet of beef, cut into (not too small) cubes

1 yellow onion or banana shallot, finely chopped 

400 g firm potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes

butter for frying (and a little oil) 

salt and black pepper

Dijon crème:

100 ml thick creme fraiche

2-3 tsp dijon mustard (to taste)

1 tsp runny honey

salt, white pepper

To serve:

fresh grated horseradish 

chopped parsley

Mix the dijon crème and keep it cold. Bring water to the boil in a saucepan, add salt and the potato cubes and boil for about 5 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, fry the onions until soft in plenty of butter on a low-medium heat, without browning. Remove the onions and fry the drained potatoes in butter. Add salt, pepper and a little sugar abd fry until golden on the outside and soft inside (pierce with a knife to check). 

Pour the sauce into a little bowl or an empty egg shell, chop the parsley and keep the the onions and potatoes warm in separate pans while you fry the steak on high heat in butter and oil for approx 2 minutes (you don’t want the meat well done and it cooks quickly when it’s cut up like this). Rest the meat for a few minutes, then plate up. Scatter with parsley and serve with plenty of grated horseradish. 

Kale soup with pork quenelles

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This, dear fellow foodies, is old-fashioned Swedish peasant food. In a good way. Perfect for this cold time of year this soup is warming and nourishing and so are the pork quenelles, which are basically meatballs cooked in stock instead of pan-fried.

Please note that the quenelles takes longer to make than the soup, so do start with these. If you think the quenelles are strange or you don’t eat meat, garnish your soup with medium-boiled eggs instead. Cut them in half and put them in the soup – it’s also delicious and another common way to eat the soup.

Kale soup, serves 4

Adapted from Hannu Sarenström’s recipe in the book Vinterkalas.

ca 375 g chopped fresh kale

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp plain flour

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

100 ml cream

salt, black pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, stir in the flour and add the stock little by little while stirring. Add the kale and let simmer for 10 minutes. Mix with a stick  blender and add the cream. Bring to the boil and season to taste. 

Pork quenelles, serves 4-6

500 g pork mince

1 egg

100 ml breadcrumbs

1-2 tbsp water

salt, white pepper

1 onion, finely chopped

1,5 litre chicken stock (from a cube is fine)

Break the egg into a bowl and stir in breadcrumbs. Add salt (more than you think) and white pepper. Let the mixture swell for a few minutes. If the mixture is thick add 1-2 tbsp water to loosen it. Stir in the chopped onions and the mince. Mix well and roll the mince into 2 cm thick balls. Rinse your hands in between rolling to make it easier. 

Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan and let it simmer. Add the quenelles and let them simmer for approx 15 minutes (check with a knife that they’re cooked through, i.e. not pink in the middle). Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the soup bowls. Fill up with kale soup and serve. 

New Years Eve 2015

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New Year’s Eve. A bit like Marmite – some people hate it, some people like it. I’m definitely in the latter category. I like all the cosiness Christmas brings, but I’m not a fan of the stodgy food that we traditionally eat in Scandinavia, so New Year’s is for me the perfect opportunity to cook and eat food I really like. Food worthy to end the year.

The last few years I’ve spent the evening with my closest friends and we have worked out the perfect New Year’s Eve menu, for us at least.

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We start off with champagne, Swedish Kalix (bleak) roe, butter-fried bread, creme fraiche and chopped red onion., with champagne. It’s the most simple thing – yet incredibly delicious (and very Scandi!).

Next we have lobster, usually with melted garlic butter, and this year I opted for caramelised garlic butter – another simple and delicious dish!

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For mains we usually have fillet of beef, with potatoes and greens. This year the beef fillet was served with mini Pommes Anna (made in a muffin tin), mange tout and a mushroom sauce with Dijon mustard.

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For pudding we had individual chocolate pavlovas with chocolate crème and creme fraiche (whipped cream would be better but I forgot it), decorated with daim and Noblesse chocolate thins. A jug of chocolate sauce was put on the table so everyone could help themselves.

Lobster with caramelized garlic butter, serve 4

2 lobsters, cooked 

1 whole garlic

100 g salted butter, at room temperature

a bunch of parsley 

1 slice of lemon, cut into 4

4 slices of baguette

The day before (or at least a few hours ahead of) serving: Wrap the garlic in tin foil and bake for 40 mins in 180C oven (until soft). Leave to cool.

Mix the butter with as much caramelized garlic you like. It’s sweeter and not as strong as fresh garlic, so I thought 5 cloves was a good amount. Chop the parsley and mix in. Add pepper too. Roll into a roll and cover with cling. Place in the fridge to set. 

To serve: Cut the lobsters in half lengthways, remove the gooey bits in the head and the bowel string. Rinse the shell with the meat still inside. Crack the claws and get the meat out. Place in the shells and place the shells in an ovenproof dish. Cut the butter into thick slices and distribute on the lobster halves. Place in 180C oven for approx 10 mins until the lobsters are hot and the butter has melted. Serve immediately with a piece of lemon and a slice of baguette. 

Mini Pommes Anna with thyme, serve 4

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recipe.

850 g potato of a firm variety (Maris Piper works well)

100 g butter

a bunch of fresh thyme 

salt, black pepper

Preheat oven to 180°C . Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Brush 8-10 wholes in the muffin tin all over with butter. Line bottoms with parchment-paper rounds. Arrange 1-2 small thyme sprigs in center of each round. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon butter into bottom of each cup.

 

Add chopped thyme and garlic to remaining butter in saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

 

Using food processor, moulinex or mandoline, slice potatoes crosswise into very thin rounds , placing them in a large bowl as you work. Pour herb butter over and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat well.

 

Divide potato slices among muffin cups, layering overlapping slices to create a circular pattern. Lightly press center of each to make compact. Drizzle any remaining butter and seasoning from bowl over.

 

Cover muffin pan tightly with foil and place in the oven. Bake until potatoes can be pierced easily with the tip of a knife and are golden brown, about 35 minutes.
Remove foil; invert a rimmed baking sheet over pan. Turn, lightly tapping on counter, releasing potatoes onto sheet. Rearrange any slices that may have fallen out. Discard parchment.
Individual chocolate pavlovas, served 4

Translated from and Adapted after Roy Fares’ recipe.

Chocolate crème:

50 g dark chocolate

30 g (3) egg yolks

37,5 g caster sugar

15 g maizena corn starch

1/2 tsp vanilla

175 ml milk

10 g butter

Pavlovas:

37,5 g dark chocolate

70 g (2) egg whites

110 g caster sugar

4 g maizena corn starch

1/2 tsp white wine vinegar 

Chocolate sauce:

50 ml caster sugar

50 ml cocoa

50 ml cream

15 g butter

To decorate:

300 ml lightly whipped cream

1/2 packet daim balls (or a chocolate bar, chopped)

12 Noblesse chocolate thins or similar 

4 sparklers

Chocolate cream: Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl. Mix egg yolks, sugar, corn starch and vanilla in another bowl. Bring the milk to the boil in a saucepan and mix it into the egg yolk mixture (little by little as to not scramble the eggs). Pour the egg yolk milk mixture into the saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened. Cook for another 2 minutes, on low heat, to get rid of the corn starch flavour. Pour the custard over the chocolate, add the butter and mix until the chocolate has melted. Cover with cling and place in fridge until cold. 

Pavlovas: Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl, melt either over boiling water or in the microwave. Pre-heat oven to 150C. 

Beat the egg whites until foamy and add the sugar bit by it while beating until stiff and glossy. Add the corn flour and vinegar and mix carefully with a spatula. Drizzle with the melted chocolate and create a marbled effect by folding the mixture 2-3 times with a spatula. Divide the meringue mixture into four small rounds on a lined baking tray. 

Bake in the middle of the oven for 60 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven while cooling. Let the meringue discs cool completely. 

Chocolate sauce: Mix sugar, cocoa and cream in a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Let the mixture simmer for 3-5 minutes. Leave to cool completely. 

Assembling: Place a meringue disc on each plate. Fill up with the crème and top with whipped cream. Decorate with daim, noblesse and sparklers. Heat up the sauce and serve it in a jug on the side.  

 

 

 

Slow cooked lamb shank with herb polenta

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This autumn is the strangest I’ve ever experienced, weather-wise. Apart from the dip in temperature at the beginning of this week it’s been very warm for November. Not that I’m complaining (I hate the cold!), it just feels strange not having to wear gloves when Christmas is just around the corner!

The warmth outside hasn’t really put me in the mood for warming soups and hearty stews, in fact this recipe of slow cooked lamb shank is the most autumnal dish I have accomplished the last few months.

The recipe for herb polenta is courtesy of my Swedish food blogger colleague Annika and works with all sorts of tender meats.

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Slow cooked lamb shank, serves 2

1 lamb shank

a knob of butter

1 onion, unpeeled, cut into wedges

1 carrot, cut into chunks

2 bay leaves

salt, pepper

1/2 bottle red wine

Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Melt a knob of butter in an oven-proof casserole dish with a lid. Brown the meat on all sides and season. Remove from the pan and add the onion and carrot pieces. Fry for a few minutes then remove from the heat. Put the lamb shank back into the casserole dish and add the wine and bay leaves. Put the lid on and place in the oven for 2 1/1 hours; you want the meat to be very tender and fall off the bone. Check on the meat every half an hour. Add more liquid if needed and turn the shank once in a while. To serve, take the meat off the bone and serve in chunks with polenta and vegetables.

Creamy herb polenta, serves 3

Translated from and adapted after Annika’s recipe (which I have halved)

700 ml vegetable stock

50 g butter

300 ml polenta

a handful finely chopped mixed herbs (rosemary, oregano, sage etc)

150 ml finely grated parmesan 

Bring the stock to simmer (not boil) in a large saucepan. Add the polenta while whisking. Add butter. Whisk until the polenta starts to boil. Whisk regularly while the polenta cooks for another 15-20 minutes. Add the herbs but save some for decoration. Add more stock if needed. The polenta needs to be thinner than you think as the parmesan will thicken it. Add the parmesan when the polenta is cooked. Season to taste and maybe add another knob of butter. Serve immediately.

Fake Shack sauce

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I cooked (and ate!) a lot of nice food when I was back home in Sweden in August. But my family and I have a tendency to get a bit overboard sometimes. So one day we decided to not make an elaborate three course meal. Instead we had these yummy homemade burgers with a homemade version of the Shake Shack sauce. So good!

I first saw the Fake Shack sauce recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s wonderful blog and knew I just had to make it. And it hit the spot just as I thought it would. My parents liked it too and from now on this is definitely my go-to burger sauce.

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Fake Shack sauce, serves 4

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.

60 ml mayonnaise (homemade or Hellman’s)

1 1/2 tsp juice from a pickle jar

1 1/2 tsp ketchup

1 tsp yellow mustard 

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

Mix the ingredients, taste and adjust the flavour until you’re happy with the balance. Serve with burgers.