Monday, December 19, 2016

Quick Rustic Stout Beer Bread

One of those things I love and miss most about Europe is quality artisan breads - those rustic, crusty, wholesome, hand-crafted breads whose individual imperfections sings perfection.

In Hong Kong, finding an affordable loaf of rustic bread is about as hard as finding an apartment. And, for most people, making their own breads by hand or owning a bread making machine is simply unrealistic. Nonetheless, I'd still rather eat cake than to give in to mass-produced, chemical-ridden, highly processed supermarket breads. So, that pretty much meant crusty artisan breads would always remain a novelty lest I start making them at home.

All of that is about to change with this foolproof recipe. For the longest time, I have been intimidated to bake my own breads so long as kneading and proofing is involved. So when I realized that I can make bread in an hour with just four simple ingredients and nothing more than a bowl, a pan, a spoon and an oven, I was ecstatic. No yeast proofing, no kneading, no getting hands in a gooey, gunky mess, no kidding. Even the most inexperienced baker could do this. Oh, did I mention you get to bake bread with your favorite beverage?

This bread is nicely moist and dense; crusty, craggy and golden on the outside and chewy on the inside - perfect for toast, sandwiches, sopping up chili, and sensational with hearty soups, chowders, moules-frites, and beef stew.

With beer being the key ingredient in this recipe, you've got to start with a great brew. The type of beer you choose will impart distinct characters on your bread. I chose stout for its robust, malty aroma and chocolatey color (and matched that with rich black sugar* to add depth). Or, you can go with a crisp lager for a paler yet complex-tasting bread; or an IPA if you're in for the hops. Experiment with different ingredients to complement your beer - say, using some oat flour and whole oats to match an oatmeal stout, or adding spices to round off a pumpkin-ale-based loaf.

Dunk this bread in Parsnip, Parsley, and Leek Soup and pair up with Cider Braised Pork Shoulder with Apples and Cranberries for the holiday season!

What you'll need...
3 cups self-raising flour
2 tablespoons black sugar*
1 can or bottle (355 ml) stout beer
2 tablespoon butter, melted
Cornmeal, to dust (optional)

*Note: Black sugar is a type of unrefined sugar commonly used in Japan and Taiwan, known for its rich, complex, malty taste and health benefits not found in other more refined sugars. Substitute with dark brown sugar if unavailable.  
(My first video!)


1. Preheat oven to 180C/375F. Grease a loaf pan or round cake mold and dust the bottom with cornmeal.

2.  In a large bowl, sift flour and sugar together.

3. Add beer, 1 tablespoon of melted butter, and mix lightly, using a wooden spoon, until most of the flour is incorporated and forms a sticky, lumpy mass. Do NOT overmix!

 4. Scrape and pour mixture into greased loaf pan. Brush the top with remaining butter and lightly dust top with flour for a rustic look.

5. Bake for 50 minutes, or until golden and crisp on top. remove from pan and cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Best served warm and crusty. Enjoy!


毋需麵包機、毋需發酵或手搓 - 零難度!
材料簡單,口感紮實帶有韌性,有著樸實的外表卻不平凡的內在,伴隨著淡淡的啤酒小麥香氣 - 全都只需要四種材料、一個小時多就搞掂!最適合忙碌人士和臨時請客不已。

自發麵粉  360 克
黑糖  25 克
黑啤酒  355 毫升
牛油  2 湯匙 (約 28 克)溶掉
粗粒玉米粉 (Cornmeal)  少量(可省略)

1. 預熱烤箱至 180C/375F。
2. 烤模先薄薄的塗上油,再在底部撒上少量粗粒玉米粉,有助防黏及增添香脆口感。
3. 麵粉和糖過篩。
4. 加入啤酒和一湯匙牛油,輕輕攪拌均勻。麵團黏黏的及不規則的狀態屬正常、避免過度攪拌。
5. 麵團倒入烤模裏。將剩餘的牛油塗在表面,再用篩薄薄的撒上一層麵粉。
6. 放入預熱好的烤箱, 焗 50 分鐘或至表面金黃香脆。出爐後馬上脫模,晾涼最少 15 分鐘後即成!

1. 除了黑啤之外,更可自由選擇其他種類的手工啤酒,因應不同啤酒的味道和個性隨意作不同的成份配搭, 例如加入麥片、肉桂、香草等調味。不妨實驗一下!
2. 每個焗爐都會有些微分別,所以要熟識自己焗爐的脾性,再作適當的時間溫度調教。
3. 如無黑糖,則可用紅糖 (brown sugar) 代替。
[Follow me on Instagram @alvinckl and @alvin.penthousekitchen and check out my Facebook Fan Page!]

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Traditional Korean Napa Cabbage Kimchi (Bae-Chu Kimchi)

Kimchi - the national dish of Korea and staple side dish on every Korean table - needs no formal introduction. Recognized long for its range of health benefits, this fiery, fermented vegetable side dish is rooted in tradition. Among the hundreds of kimchi varieties in Korea, the Napa cabbage variety, also known as pogi kimchi or tongbaechu kimchi, is the most iconic and common and is generally referred to by the catch-all name, kimchi.

Nowadays, one can easily skip the seemingly labor intensive process of making kimchi and purchase kimchi sold in jars or vacuum packs in supermarkets, but there is something irreplaceable in old-fashioned, authentic homemade kimchi.

Great kimchi starts with good, fresh Napa cabbage!
As with almost anything homemade, you get to tweak and customize.
And it's not just how spicy or mild you want your kimchi to be. Various salted seafood is used in kimchi to add a depth of flavor and to aid in the fermentation process. Whether it is salted shrimp, squid, or dried fish, the complex pungency of seafood is truly irreplaceable in kimchi. But if you are like me who is allergic to crustaceans, omit the shrimps and go with dried pollack and even anchovy paste for the unmistakable essence of the sea.

Eat it straight, as a banchan, or get creative: a batch of kimchi opens up infinite culinary possibilities

Making kimchi is like a mini science project.
Admit it, you were religiously watering and watching your beansprouts grow as an elementary school kid. Making kimchi from scratch is so much more fun than that. You get to get in and dirty, watch it ferment, and reap the benefits of all that effort in as short as a few days as it ripens!

You are participating in an age old tradition. 
Aside from adding a human touch to what you eat, making homemade kimchi allows you to experience hands-on the wisdom, knowledge, and tradition passed down from grandmother to mother, mother to daughter, generation after generation for centuries in Korea. As I made my own kimchi in my kitchen, I could almost hear the stories and laughter shared among women who gather for gimjang, where enormous quantities of kimchi is prepared communally to last through the harsh winter. Try it, you'll know what I mean.

A major bucket list item gets checked off.
Making kimchi, nevertheless, is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. It only gets better with practice!

Don't attempt to leave the gloves out!
After much research and trial, my recipe is based loosely on Korean American Chef Esther Choi's recipe which has been passed down from her grandmother. I have modified certain steps in preparation to make it simpler for home cooks. Apple or pear puree is added for a nice tinge of sweetness, whereas Korean dried pollack adds immense depth of flavor to the kimchi.
It's fall... kimchi making season! So get them gloves on and let's make some!
What you'll need...
1 head of Korean Napa cabbage, cut lengthwise, quartered
5 tablespoons rock salt
70g of Korean dried pollack (bugeochae), shredded
1 medium daikon radish (1lb), cut into 2-inch matchsticks
1 small carrot, cut into 2-inch matchsticks (optional)
1 bunch of scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 small apple or nashi pear, peeled and cored
2 inches fresh ginger
1 head of garlic
1 small onion
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup anchovy sauce (I used the filipino Bagoong Balayan)
1/4 cup lance fish sauce, or Thai fish sauce
3 tablespoons salted shrimp (saeujeot)*, chopped
2 tablespoons glutinous rice flour
1 cup Korean red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru), or more to taste
*Note: for a crustacean-free version, substitute salted shrimp with anchovy fillets or paste.

Prepping and salting the Napa Cabbage
To split a Napa cabbage in half, cut a slit in the base of the cabbage up to a third of the total length of the cabbage, gently pull the two halves apart. Repeat for each half to quarter the cabbage.

Add 1 1/2 cup of water inside a basin, dissolve 2 tablespoons of rock salt, wet the quartered Napa cabbage inside the basin and sprinkle salt between each layer of leaf. Let rest for at least two hours, turning them over every 30 minutes.

Rinse each quarter well under running water to remove the salt. Squeeze out excess water and let drain in a colander.

Making the rice gruel
In a small saucepan, add the rice flour and 2 cups of water over medium heat. Whisk constantly. Cook for 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Set aside to cool.

Making the seasoning paste
1. In a blender, blend together the apple, onion, garlic, and ginger with the mirin.
2. Soften the dried pollack with some lukewarm water. Drain.
3. In a big bowl, combine the rice gruel, apple mixture, daikon radish, carrot, scallion, dried fish, and the rest of the seasoning ingredients and massage everything well to become a paste.

Bringing everything together
Bring the drained cabbage quarters into the mixture and spread the paste onto every single leaf. Tightly pack the kimchi into jars or containers with fitted lids or cover tightly with plastic. 

Allow the kimchi to sit in room temperature for at least two days, or longer for a stronger flavor. The warmer and more humid the environment is, the faster the kimchi will ferment. Store in refrigerator once the kimchi begins to ferment and use as needed. Refrigerating slows down the fermentation process, which makes the kimchi more and more sour as time goes on.


韓國旺菜  1 棵
粗鹽  5 湯匙
韓國鱈魚乾  70 克
韓國大根蘿蔔  1 磅
甘筍  1  枝
大蔥  數棵

蘋果或梨  1 個
  2 吋
蒜瓣  6 個
洋蔥  1 小個
60 毫
鯷魚露  60 毫升
魚露  60 毫升
韓國蝦醬  3 湯匙*
粘米粉  2 湯匙
韓國辣椒粉  100 - 120 克

1. 於旺菜底部切一刀,用手把旺菜輕輕撕開兩半,再分為共四份。
2. 於大盤裏加入一碗半清水及 2 湯匙粗鹽,沾濕旺菜,再於每片葉之間灑上剩下的粗鹽,硬的部份多灑一點。
3. 完成後待其軟化出水,每半小時翻轉一次,共約 2 小時。
4. 徹底洗去鹽份,輕輕擠去多餘水份,晾乾備用。


1. 大根、甘筍切絲,大蔥切段。
2. 韓國鱈魚乾搣成絲,加入少量清水待其軟化。
3. 蘋果/梨去皮去芯切粒,加入薑、蒜、洋蔥和味打成蓉。
4. 於大盤子裏加入大根、甘筍、大蔥、蘋果/梨蒜蓉、鱈魚乾絲、蝦醬/鯷魚、鯷魚露、魚露、米漿和韓國辣椒粉,用手拌勻所有醃料再作調味(謹記帶手套啊!)
5. 加入旺菜,並於每片葉之間塗滿醃料至完全覆蓋。
6. 完成後把泡菜放在玻璃盒或陶瓷煲內,加蓋封好。
7. 放在室溫發酵 2 天後放入雪櫃,泡菜會繼續慢慢發酵。隨時享用!

- 泡的時間越長味道越酸,泡菜汁中培養出來的各種益生菌也更多。
- 較成熟的泡菜最適合煮食泡製出其他菜式。
- 調味很隨意,亦視乎材料原來的質素及味道。調味可加亦可減。

[Follow me on Instagram @alvinckl and check out my Facebook Fan Page!]
Chef Esther Choi:

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Zoodles with Shredded Chicken and Sesame Sauce

Zoodles! Besides being a fun word to say, zoodles (zucchini noodles) are an incredibly fresh, healthy, nutritious, gluten-free, and low carb alternative to pasta or noodles. Zucchini takes on flavors easily, thus making zoodles a remarkably versatile base for a wide range of dishes.

I picked up a bag of zucchini at the Heart of the City Farmers Market in San Francisco last weekend. Back at my penthouse kitchen, just as I was craning over these dark green summer gourds, sweat dripping down my forehead under the unrelenting summer heat, a sudden craving for 涼拌雞絲粉皮 hit me.

A gorgeous zucchini, also known as courgette
A familiar and massively popular appetizer in Northeastern Chinese cuisine, 涼拌雞絲粉皮 traditionally consists of translucent mung bean sheet noodles (粉皮), hand shredded chicken (雞絲), crisp cucumber julienne (青瓜) and a lip-smacking sesame dressing (麻醬) that always tickles my taste buds.

Now, who says zoodles only works as pasta? With zucchini in my hands, I decided to swap out the mung bean noodles and cukes and swap in zoodles for a twisted, "greened up" version of this classic Manchurian starter. No fancy spiralizer, no mandolin needed; just your good old fashioned vegetable peeler and a knife!

晶瑩通透 又滑又爽口!

When cut to the right width, those thin, slightly opaque ribbons of zucchini frankly does a marvelous job mimicking mung bean noodles. As for the main ingredient of the dressing, sesame paste is hardly the only choice either. Peanut butter is also commonly used in restaurants and will similarly knock the ball out of the park. Heck, I even made once with sunflower seed butter. Delish!

So here is a fun, light, and super easy twist on this popular Northeastern Chinese cold dish using zoodles. It is about time that you, too, jump on the zoodle bandwagon!

What you'll need...
Zoodles and Chicken:
2 zucchini
Choice of 4 chicken tenders, 1 chicken breast, or 1 chicken thigh

2 tablespoons sesame paste
3 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 inch of fresh ginger, grated (optional)
Dash of soy sauce

Choice of garnish:
Toasted sesame seeds or peanuts
Small bunch of cilantro
Cucumber matchsticks 

For the dressing...
Firstly thin out the sesame paste by stirring in warm water. Add all other ingredients and stir until the dressing reaches a smooth, heavy cream-like consistency. Make ahead to allow the flavors to mingle.

For the zoodles... 
1. Start by cutting off the ends of the zucchini. Using a vegetable peeler, peel zucchini into long ribbons. The more pressure you apply, the thicker your zucchini noodles will be. Peel all four "sides" of the zucchini until you reach the core with seeds (reserve the cores for other uses such as ratatouille, casseroles, or stir-fries - don't let it go to waste!).

2. Stack the strips on top of each other. Cut the strips to 1/2 inch strips or as desired.

3. Bring a pot of water to a boil, blanch zoodles very briefly - no more than 60 seconds! Immediately drain and dunk into an ice bath to cool and stop the cooking process. Once cooled, drain and set zoodles on paper towel or a clean kitchen towel to absorb excessive moisture.

For the chicken...
Steam or boil your choice of chicken. Once cooked and cooled, shred chicken into thin strips using your fingers.

Now, all that is left to do is to put everything together.
Layer the zoodles on your serving platter. Top with shredded chicken, sesame dressing, and your choice of garnish. Enjoy!!


由意大利翠玉瓜(zucchini, 簡稱意瓜)刨成絲
製成的低熱量「偽意粉」Zoodles 在外國已流行多時,
Zoodles 其實用法甚多,現時天氣轉冷,更可作為熱食沙律,
更可 fusion 做成「涼拌雞絲偽粉皮」!


意大利翠玉瓜  2 隻
雞肉  可選用雞柳、雞胸、或雞腿肉

1. 首先將意瓜兩端切除。
2. 用削皮刨,下點力於意瓜的四面刨出寬條狀,直至到達瓜中見籽的地方為止。
3. 把一條條的寬條叠好,用利刀切成一條條約半吋闊的「 偽粉皮」。
4. 煮沸熱水,把偽粉皮快速地灼一灼,撈起並立即浸冰水,以保其爽嫩。
5. 瀝乾後放一旁備用。
6. 隔水蒸熟雞肉。略涼後以手搣成雞絲。

芝麻醬  2 湯匙
溫開水  3 湯匙
鎮江醋  2 茶匙
砂糖  2 茶匙
麻油  1 茶匙
蒜末  1 大茶匙
薑蓉  約半吋薑
老抽  適量

1. 芝麻醬先用溫水稀釋,加入其他調味料拌勻再作調味。

芝麻 / 花生

1. 接下來最後一個步驟,先把意瓜偽粉皮置碟,在粉皮上放上適量手撕雞肉和自選配料,之後再淋上拌勻的麻醬即成。

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