Tuesday, January 29, 2008


It is kumquat season and is raining kumquats here. I love it, am totally obsessed. Kumquat is native to China and it is a very much appreciate fruit, especially during the Chinese New Year as it symbolizes "prosperity". Small kumquat plants are sold on the markets and are used as decoration during the New Year celebration.

The fresh kumquat it self is delicious, but it can do magic when used in cooking. In this recipe I mixed candied kumquat with amaranth (another obsession of mine) and white chocolate. So simple but so fantastic! First you need to candied kumquats, which is very simple but takes time as the kumquats need to dry for about 2 days after they have been cooked. I did not use lots of sugar as the white chocolate is quite sweet.

Candied kumquats
10 kumquats
2 dl water
0,5 dl sugar

Wash and then slice kumquat. Discard the seeds. Heat the water and sugar, add sliced kumquat and simmer 20 - 30 minutes. Spread kumquat over baking paper and let it air-dry for a day or two.

Candied kumquat and amaranth

Melt some white chocolate (be careful as white chocolate does not like it too hot), add candied kumquat and popped amaranth. Shape it nicely, decorate with some more candied kumquat and let cool.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fresh water chestnut

This is how fresh water chestnut looks like. Before coming to China I have never seen or eaten fresh water chestnut, only canned one. But here in China you can find the fresh one everywhere, as it is a Chinese/ South East Asian vegetable.
The skin is very thin and soft and it is easily peeled off. The white inside has a bit different crunchiness then the canned water chestnut has. The fresh ones reminds a lot of eating green apple. And the colour is also more milk-white, it looks wonderful in dishes.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Red-bean paste

Being introduced to sweet red beans you can find the recipe for the wonderful red-bean paste here . I used white granulated sugar but a bit less of it and it worked fine.

On the picture you can see what the beans look like. They are very tiny and obviously there is a Chinese (hong-dou) and Japanese (adzuki) version but I think they are the same beans as Japanese use them in sweets as well. The paste it self is wonderful, it does have a hint of beans but is not like it reminds of chili con carne. Here I used it in crepes but I can see so much more potential here!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The chocolate of China

Red-bean is Chinese chocolate. Not because red-bean tastes anything like cacao-bean, as we already know, but because red-bean is used the same way chocolate is used in the western countries. Yes red-beans are eaten sweet..and it tastes delicious! My first encounter with sweet red-bean was in the moon cakes and I knew immediately that I needed to find out more about it. And where do u start if not at bakeries :-).

Here below you can see some typical red-bean sweets that I found in different bakeries here in Shanghai. The most commonly red-beans are made into a sweet paste. They are boiled, mashed and mixed with sugar and some oil. But sometimes they are just boiled, mixed with sugar syrup and used in different pastries, soups, cakes, as you can see below.


Steamed bun with red-bean paste. This is the most common bun with red-bean paste and is sold all over Shanghai, from bakeries to small street vendors. I will write more just about steamed bread later on.

Red-bean paste is stuffed inside a bread slice and fried. Ends are dipped in white and black sesame.

 Sweet buns filled with red-bean paste and sprinkled with black sesame.

Red-bean paste is thinly spread between dough layers.

I thought this bun was with red-bean, it had a character for bean in its name, so you cannot blame me, but I guess the rest of the characters said "big black bean" :-). I have never before seen that big black beans, they were delicious too but are not that common.

Green-tea mousse with whole red-bean on top. The combination green-tea and red-beans is very common as well. Later on I will write more about it.

Yes, there is red-bean to drink...

... and to eat as sweet soup together with some kind of jelly.