Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chinese style celery salad

Celery salad

Whenever I eat meaty dish like dumplings, wan tans or bao zi (steamed bun), I usually feel guilty and try to compensate with a vegetable side dish such as boiled vegetables or a simple cold dish. Here is an example of my favourite cold dish - Chinese style celery salad. It's tangy, spicy, with just a little hint of acid. The best part is, it doesn't even need any cooking and can be done in 5 minutes. Talk about fast food here.

Chinese style celery salad
for one portion
2 stalks celery, washed and cut into crescent moon size
1 tbs black vinegar
1 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs chili oil (I use Lao Gan Ma 老干妈 brand) put less if you don't like your food spicy
a pinch of chicken stock powder
a pinch of sesame seed

  • In a bowl mix in black vinegar, soy sauce, chilli oil and chicken stock powder
  • pour this sauce over celery and mix well
  • add some sesame seeds on top of the celery and serve

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Frozen dumpling from Wu Ji China Restaurant

Nothing beats home made dumplings, not only in term of freshness and quality but also in the variation of the fillings. For example, you can make the fillings with pork and lots of veggies such as: napa cabbage, chives (my personal favourite), scallion and celery, or beef with onion, lamb with cabbage, seafood with egg and even vegetarian variety of tofu with shitake mushroom. So you can just choose your favourite ingredients and mixed them all together, like I did with my mixture of pork shrimps chives and egg dumpling

However the process of making home made dumplings is quite time consuming. You have to mix, cut the ingredients, kneading and rolling the dough. Then you have to taste the fillings and finally, you have fill each dumplings with the fillings. Don't get discouraged though! Making dumpling is actually a really fun activity, that is if there's at least two or more people are involved in the process. But whenever I crave for dumplings, I am either alone or don't have enough time to make it =(. So clever lazy me, (tee hee) found a restaurant that sells dumpling a while ago. I then proceed to buy some frozen dumpling, store them in my fridge and boil them whenever I have the urge to eat.

dumpling's filling : pork with napa cabbage

Pork with string bean

They sell 40 (frozen or cooked) pork with napa cabbage or pork with string bean dumplings for €8. However, if your religious belief prevents you from eating pork (or you're just the adventurous types) they also sell seafood dumplings and beef with green chilies dumplings.

At home I usually boil or steam-fry them. I also make a dip of black vinegar and chili oil. I usually add a vegetable side like celery salad to balance the meal.

Chinarestaurant Wu Ji
Wattstraße 12
13629 Berlin-Siemenstadt
U Rohrdamm

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

little 10 minutes cakes

Have you ever heard of the 5 minutes microwave-baked cake? No? Shame. It's nothing less than a miracle! You simply need to mix all the ingredients together in a cup and microwave it for 3 minutes at the highest power. It is edible, I can even say tasty. However it is a little bit dense and gummy for my taste. So I make some improvisations and bake them in an oven. They are great and taste similar to cakes I usually make in a bigger batch. So now I just spare myself a great deal of washing and make this tiny cakes whenever I have the munchies.

little chocolate cake
2 Tbs flour
1 Tbs sugar
2 tsp cocoa
1/2 beaten egg
2 Tbs milk
1 Tbs melted butter (just melt them in a microwave)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and transfer them into a mold. or just spare yourself the bowl step and mix them directly in the mold (my mold is tiny, so I don't have any other choices). I also sold a third mold and make a marble cake out of them.

Bake it for 8 - 10 minutes at 180°C

little avocado cake

2 Tbs flour
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 ripe avocado, mashed well
1/2 beaten egg
2 Tbs milk
1 Tbs melted butter (just melt them in a microwave)

see the cooking direction above

Check out the original 5 minutes cake!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Beef noodle soup at Dodeli China Restaurant

beef noodle soup

The true translation of this dish is actually "hand kneaded beef noodle soup" (shou gan niu rou mian), which means that the noodle is freshly kneaded to get that desirable chewy texture. It's unlike the dried, store bought noodle that another overrated Taiwanese noodle shop in Kantstraße (which shall remain nameless) sells. Anyway, the noodle in Dodeli CR definitely live up to its name. You can tell that it's hand-kneaded since it has the al dente texture that can't be imitated by machine-made dried noodle.

Even though there are a lot of restaurants that sell noodle soup in Berlin, I want to blog Dodeli Restaurant because I feel that it's really underrated, and that not a lot of people (besides maybe the Chinese) know about this restaurant. Dodeli sells one of the best beef noodle soup. First, obviously because of the handmade noodle, and second because of their soups. The soups are beefy, savory, and a little bit spicy. Each bowl of beef noodle soup also comes with a generous portion of tender, succulent beef cubes, and best of all, it only comes with a mere price of €6.90. The coriander leaves garnish enhanced the f even more. If you're more adventurous and craves for more acidity, I recommend to add a few drops of black vinegar.

Dodeli China Restaurant
Kantstr. 120
10625 Berlin

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spaghetti alla Caprese

Spaghetti alla Caprese

This dish is also known as Spaghetti Italia since its ingredients includes all the colors of the Italian flag: red, green and white. So don't omit any ingredients or else the dish won't live up to its name anymore.

Spaghetti alla Caprese
1/2 package spaghetti
1 pack cherry tomatoes, cut into half
20 fresh basil leaves, slice into stripes, leave some for garnish
1/2 bulb garlic, minced finely
1 ball fresh mozarella chese, cut into cubes
olive oil
fresh grounded black pepper
  • Cook spaghetti with salt until al-dente, drain and put aside
  • Heat genereous amount of olive oil in pan and sautee minced garlic
  • Put in cooked spaghetti into the garlic infused oil
  • Rapidly stirred in cherry tomatoes, basil and mozarella
  • Put salt and black pepper to taste and once the tomatoes and basil wilted, transfer them onto a serving plate
  • Garnish them with fresh tomatoes and fresh basil
  • If necessary, drizzle olive oil and grind black pepper on the spaghetti

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Samgyeopsal at Arirang Korean Restaurant

When I was a little girl, my mother never allowed me to eat the milky slippery fat of pork belly. She would carefully crave pieces of meat for me and my siblings and leave the fat and skin inside the pot. I never know what happened to those fats. My guess is that our maid would throw them away. This is the reason why I avoid pork fat like pest. I believed that pork fat was too greasy to eat and that they would make my chubby cheeks chubbier!

Until one day the truth was revealed to me in the form of samgyeopsal. Nobody ever told me, that meat with streaks of fat tasted way better than lean meat and that it doesn't taste greasy at all. I summoned all the courage to bite on my very first piece of samgyeopsal. I even took a small burned piece! As I chewed and chewed and chewed, the taste of pork that I knew so well came out and the fat intensified it even more! A burnt taste of grilled meat came right away, together with the spicy gochujang taste. Then I grew bolder, I took a bigger piece and mated it with some kimchi and folded them into a salad leaf. It tasted even better! I'm ruined!

Nowadays, I crave for Samgyeopsal and look out for it in every Korean restaurants that I know. However, korean BBQ is quite pricey (€ 20 - € 30) for a poor student like me, even if it's for once in a few months. Until I stumbled across this cheap Korean restaurant where they serve grilled pork belly with rice, five different banchans and salads for two persons for only € 14. Okay, the interior and exterior of the restaurant are shabby and they desperately need some good spring cleaning. But I can ignore such minorities in favour of those thinly sliced grilled pork.

berlin arirang samgyeopsal

On that day they serve kimchi, cucumber kimchi, bean sprout with garlic, caramelised potatoes and jalapenos with anchovies as banchans (side dishes)

grilled samgyeopsal Arirang Berlin

Samgyeopsal Arirang Berlin

wrap the pork with some rice and a slice of kimchi in a piece of lettuce, then shove them whole in your mouth!

No wonder my mom keeps complaining that I look chubbier everytime she saw me. We know now why. I guess, my mom was right, I should have avoided pork fats. Now it's too late, there is no turning back.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Stir fried beef with green chilies

Why do all Chinese people cook so well? All my chinese friends in Germany are great cooks! They always told me that back in China, they never cook or even help out in the kitchen. Either they were lying or there's just something in their gene. Do they really have some special chromosomes to enable them to taste and cook built inside their DNA? If so, I want one please!

One of my friends from China, HY, is one of them. He is a very talented cook, even more than the average Chinese. His great great great uncle was a cook in the Royal Palace, or so he told me. He keeps telling me that Chinese food in Berlin is inedible. He is so talented that he can easily cook the dishes that he ate in restaurants by only tasting them once. Of course I didn't believe him and I asked for proof, and boy did he proof me wrong. He invited me more than once to his home and cooked at least 4 dishes each time. Everytime he cooks, I would watch him closely and take notes of everything he does around the kitchen. I must say, the way he handles his wok and fire, and the way he prepares his food is so above par that I sadly can't imitate. So, I'm always grateful for his invitations since I always leave full and happy after his meals that I can't do nothing but rub my ever expanding tummy gleefully.

I have the honour of watching him cook last week. Here is his version of stir fried beef with green peppers. Sorry about the measurements, but like most great chefs, he never measured anything. Once I asked him about the measurements, he laughed so hard and said something like "a cook needs to feel the ingredients flowing out of his hands".

stir fried beef with green chilies

Stir fried beef with green peppers

Beef fillet
some green peppers,
a lot of cooking oil
Shao Xing wine
Oyster sauce
dark mushroom soy sauce
light soy sauce
meat tenderizer
a bit sugar
sesame oil
black sesame seeds

  • Sliced beef fillet into thin strips and marinade them in soy sauce, oyster sauce, starch, meat tenderizer, sugar and sesame oil. Put them into the fridge for about 30 min -1 hour
  • Heat up a wok and pour in around 1 cup cooking oil. Once the oil is hot enough (you'll see smoke rising up) put in the marinated beef strips into the cooking oil. Stir them untill the beef browned. Transfer the beef into another plate and pour away the excess oil.
  • Leave around 2 Tbs of oil in the wok and once it heats up, put the green peppers into the wok. Stir fry for 5 seconds, you want the green chilies to be crunchy, not soggy
  • Transfer the cooked beef into the wok with the fried peppers and lightly salt them
  • Garnish with black sesame seeds

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Beef bone soup with radish

It's been such a cold winter here in Berlin. The temperature even hit -20°C at the beginning of January. Now it's mid-February and there's still no sign of spring. Maybe Hades wants to keep Persephone a bit longer this year since the slippery snow from Christmas is still out there causing trouble and accidents for all Berliners. I think the way to fight this freezing weather is through my dinner of piping hot soup. They are simple, tasty, healthy (you can never go wrong with veggies right?) and meaty (I'm a true omnivore).

I prepared the beef bone broth the night before since I don't want to come home from the lab, hungry as a dog, and still need to wait 2 hours to brew my soup. My sis said that it's too much work for a soup, but I say it's a price to pay for a delicious, edible meal. It's no different than those women who wake up at 5 in the morning to doll themselves up before going to work, right?

Anyhow, this recipe is as simple as abc

Beef bone soup with radish
  • Put beef bones in boiling water, once the water boils again pour away the foamy dark soup, (they come from the leftover dried blood in the bones). This step is necessary to obtain a clear broth.
  • Boil the cooked beef in fresh water with garlic and ginger for 2 hours or until the meat are tender, no salt is necessary in this step, as salt hardens the meat
  • Peel and slice the radish into half moon size and, put them into the broth
  • Now salt the soup and add a pinch (a pinch! not a tea spoon) MSG to taste
  • The soup is ready! Serve once the radish is translucent. Garnish with sliced scallions

BoboQ Bubble tea in Berlin

Updated (24.06.10) : I went to BoboQ again today and they have some new flavour. They also have my most favourite flavour (TARO) *squell with delight*. More squelling as I slurp the drink. It was exactly as it should be, milky and fragrant with taro! Happy happy, will visit them more often. By the way they are so popular, the store is filled with Asian. I even overheard, that a girl from Düsseldorf came to Berlin for the purpose of drinking bubble tea. And in a day she visited them twice.
Unfortunately they increased the price. It's now €2,90 for M size and €3,20 for L size. And the taro one is even more expensive than the normal one. It's €3,20 for M size (0,5 L).

At last, Bubble tea invades Berlin!!

Bubble tea became such a craze ever since it premiered back in Taiwan during the 90's. This milk tea with tapioca pearl was a staple drink in every major asian cities. Even worse, I've been to one shopping mall where there were around 10 Bubble tea carts that sell different types of teas with all the different toppings and flavours. Like every other fads, the bubble tea craze cooled off in the middle of the last decade.

BoboQ is a brand from Taiwan and they just held their grand opening yesterday. Just for you, yes you! my dear reader! I sacrifice myself to taste those artificial flavoured tea mixed with creamer. Just Kidding! I was euphoric when I heard the news. At last I'll be able to drink bubble tea anytime I want, and not have to wait for when I go back to Asia.

So yesterday my friend and I excitedly went to U Wittenbergplatz after work to have a drink. The store was fully packed when I arrived. It was filled with Asians! I guess we all really missed bubble tea. There was no empty place to sit in the shop and everyone looked busy. The servers behind the counter basically ignored us. In their defense, there really were too many orders. More that they can take! We patiently waited and I took the opportunity to get some pictures of their cakes and desserts. I wondered why they don't offer something savory. It will complement the sweet bubble tea perfectly!

So what's the verdict? I ordered a large cold QQ milk green tea with extra lychee jelly as topping for €3.10. The black tapioca pearl was included in the drink, so it's unnecessary to add them to your order. In all honesty, It didn't taste as good as I would have like. It was just tea, mixed with creamer with some chewy carbs in the bottom of the glass. Beggars can't be chooser however, and I'm happy at least for a decent bite of tapioca pearls. At least, if I feel a little bit homesick, I don't need to wait until my next trip back home and all I need to do is take a 15 min rides to get me a nice cold cup of bubble tea.

Boboq pearl milk tea Berlin

As it was the very first day they opened, the "lao ban niang" herself came to our table and asked about or opinion. I told her my true opinion and she was kinda offended! She defended her tea and said that we ordered the wrong flavour, and then proceed to give us a sample of theoriginal QQ milk tea. It did taste better! Although I don't know if it was because it was free or it was indeed better. I'm not so sure myself, better come to Berlin and judge it yourself!

Boboq pearl milk tea Berlin

BoboQ bubble tea

Marburgerstr. 17


For you bubble tea lovers in Germany who do not live in Berlin, envy us!!! and visit us quickly

Cocolo Ramen

I fell in love right away in this tiny authentic Japanese "Imbiss". It feels as though it sprang out of mangas that I read occasionally. Let's start with the decoration. The owner created a portable cart to cook the ramen based on the ramen carts in Japan. Since the restaurant is fairly tiny, they needed a compact and mobile base of operation and the cart are perfect for it. After business hour the shop owner folds the cart and push it home. Talk about convenient here! Moreover they decorated the wall with Japanese flour sacks as wallpaper, which give it a very east-asian flair to the shop.

They have a very short menu. They serve Ramen: Tonkatsu, Shio, Shoyu, TanTan, Miso. And their appetizers are: Gyoza, Edamame, Kimchi and two different things that I forgot to take note of. One more thing, don't forget to order Calpico (fermented milk beverage similar to Yakult) to drink

Tonkatsu Cocolo Ramen

The Tonkatsu Ramen is delightful. The milky broth was full of porky taste and I love their bouncy noodle (QQ as a Taiwanese will describe it). Cocolo serve their ramen with crispy sea weed (that wilts as they absorbs all the porky soup), hard boiled eggs, and some shredded pickled ginger. I actually prefer my hard boiled eggs a bit on the raw side (I love me some running yolk), but I guess they are going to get trouble from the "Gesundheitministerium" if they serve it raw (because of salmonella and all). On the table, they also serve shimici togarashi (7 flavour chili powder), shoju, sesame oil and sesame seeds with their own special grinders (similar to those black pepper grinder tubes). When we grind our own sesame seeds directly onto the broth, the soup bursts with the aroma of sesame seed.

Their Tan Tan Mian, which originates from sichuanese dish "dan dan mian", was not spicy enough for my taste. I prefer the original dan dan mian from Tian Fu Restaurant in Uhlandstraße, but that's for another post

cocolo ramen

Cocolo Ramen
Gipsstraße 3
10119 Berlin

a warm thanks to Steph L for introducing this Ramen shop

Dim Sum at Aroma

Dim Sum (it literally means "a little bit of heart") is one of my favourite meals. For some reason, I always associate Dim Sum with HongKong. I think it's because that I've always had dim sum with my family in Cantonese style restaurants. And my memories of HongKong consisted of loud Tea Houses and middle aged ladies who pushes Dim Sum-filled carts. So Chinese Mainlands people, don't get mad at me when I say Cantonese make the BEST Dim Sum. Not only because of their quality but also because of their variety.

Eating Dim Sum in Berlin can be quite a challenge. Most restaurants in Berlin sell pre-packaged industrially made frozen dim sum. All they need to do is "reheat and serve" the dim sum in bamboo baskets. I guess that's enough if they just want to fool the Germans, but not me! I want authentic dim sum! Something that's freshly made, or at least that's made in the restaurant itself and NOT somewhere deep in mainland China that had to be flown thousands of kilometers to my table.

Thankfully, Aroma China Restaurant come to my rescue. They are located at Kantstr. 35, Charlottenburg. They specialize in Cantonese cuisine. And they mean it when they say Cantonese. They're purely Cantonese not only in term of food but also in their service. If you're looking for hospitality and friendly, pretty waitresses, then maybe this is not your ideal restaurant. Most Waiters (yes, they are all man), just briskly ask your order, nod quietly, and throw heaps of food in front of your face.

The only reason why I still patron their restaurant is because of their food. Or to be specific for their Har Gao (shrimp dumpling). My study mates and I used to encourage each other to study harder with Aroma's Har Gaos. We reward ourselves with visits to Aroma for late night dinners, after hours of studying in the library. Aroma's Har Gao is made with springy fresh shrimps with finely shredded bamboo shoots. These goodies are then wrapped in chewy translucent skins.

Har Gao Aroma

Shrimp Dumpling

Naturally, there is more than just Har Gao in their menus, but here are some of my favorites:

aroma's chicken feet

Phoenix Crawls

"Phoenix crawls" which, in reality, are only chicken feet. I know that it's a food that put frowns on some people. But they are loved by those who enjoy chewy and crunchy textures, both at the same time. Believe it or not, they are really good! They burst with flavour and spices. Some people enjoy their chicken feet more on the sweet side, but I prefer them salty and a bit spicy.

pork rib with black bean sauce

Pork ribs with black bean sauce

Roast pork belly

Roast Pork Belly "shao rou"
Look at those crispy skin! That's the difficult part of making this dish. Ideally, the pork's outer skin should be crispy and crunchy, but the meat should be juicy and full of flavour. Aroma do it just right. Hubby was ecstatic when he ate the dish. He's not allowed these indulgences often obviously Imagine the cholesterol we are ingesting and what this will do to our waist line!
Rice noodle rolls with shrimp Aroma

Rice Noodle Rolls with shrimp filling

Some other dim sum which I also recommend are the rice noodle rolls with either shrimp or pork, lotus wrapped sticky rice and pan fried radish cake.

Aroma China Restaurant
Kantstr. 35
10625 Berlin

They operate until 3:00 am as some of their customers are other waiters who work at other germanized chinese restaurant.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pork Shrimp Chives Dumpling

Chinese new year or Chun Jie (lit. Spring Festival) marks the beginning of spring. At this time of the year most Chinese family cooks special meals that use expensive ingredients such as shark fins, sea cucumbers and abalones. Furthermore, there are a number of fruits that are served especially for Chinese New Year. These fruits usually have hidden meanings within their names. For example tangerines symbolize happiness and good deeds, pineapple imply prosperous year ahead, apples means peacefulness and many many more.

The root of my family is from Fujian province in southern china, so the cuisine for Chinese new year are also heavily influenced by the province delicatessen. Dishes such as fish maw soup, Luo Han Zai (Buddha's delight), pork with bamboos and shark fin soup are only some which comes to my mind now. However as this year I'm stuck here in Berlin, I need to say good bye to all those intricate dishes.

Luckily a good friend of mine, ZL, who come from Northern China (Dong Bei), which are famous for their dough dishes, invites me to the "reunion dinner". We decide to cook a typical northern specialty, dumplings (Jiao Zi). These Dumplings which resemble old Chinese money called sycee symbolize again prosperity. There's even a custom to hide one piece of coin inside of the dumpling and the person who pick out the one, will be lucky for the rest of the year. The fillings for the tiny pocket is a mixture of ground pork, shrimp, scrambled egg and chive. These little pieces of heaven are so good, that I gobble down more that I can count. Unfortunately, I do not pick out the lucky dumpling as ZL refuses to put coin into it. She says, it's unhygienic!

army of dumpling queuing to be boiled

here are the cooked jiao zi, waiting to be dunk into black vinegar and chili oil

Recipe for the filling:
500 gr ground pork
1 stalk Chinese chives, minced
3 eggs, scrambled without salt
300 gr shrimp, minced finely
3 Tbs sesame oil
a pinch of MSG
salt and pepper to taste

mixed all ingredients in a deep bowl and scoop the meat filling with a tablespoon into the dumpling skin. Fold them tightly to prevent leakage while boiling.

And yes we cheated. We bought the dumpling skins from an asian store in Kantstraße 101 called Oriental. One package costs around 2 euro and those paper thin wrapper are enough to wrap all these meat fillings. Btw, if there's some meat fillings leftovers, just mixed in some starch and make meat balls out of them.

Do we need another food blog?

The answer is NO! with so many food blogs and so many food porn pictures out there, I will say, it's enough. Nowadays we can just google a name of a dish and in a blink of eye come hundred thousand mouth watering picture. My bro will say: "buy a very expensive SLR-Camera and a very good lense, if possible, twice the price of the camera and that's all you need. oh yeah don't forget a lot of editing in adobe Photoshop " I hope nobody is offended, as I myself ain't even a photographer, I'll just refrain myself from agreeing or disagreeing.

So what am I doing here, adding another food blog to the overcrowded virtual food community? my answer is simple, it's my LOVE for food. I just love good food, I love cooking, eating, experimenting, dreaming (yes, I dream of food! envy?), imagining my next meal, planning my weekend grocery shopping and cooking it. Let just simplify it ... it's an Obsession.

Day by day this passion never cease but increase as I read more books and try on different meals. The more Information I obtain, the crave in me grow as much. As the chinese proverb says, "there's always another higher mountain" (一山更比一山高) so is the journey of learning about meals and food. So to prove my deep love here is my humble blog to record my insatiable cravings.