Sunday, October 30, 2011

How to Make Won Ton Noodle Soup (鮮蝦雲吞湯麵)—with Step by Step Pictorial


I’m so glad that the temperature is finally getting cooler.  Not only winter clothes can “hide” my body fat a little better, but I can also enjoy my favorite bowl of hot noodle soup without shedding a sweat.  Smile with tongue out  My favorite bowl of noodle soup is the home made Won Ton Noodle Soup (鮮蝦雲吞湯麵).  It’s easier to make than you think.  Another good news is, you can make the Won Ton ahead of time in a large batch because they freeze really well.  You can pull out a few won tons straight from the freezer and get cooking without (and shouldn’t) defrosting them ahead of time.  Let’s get started shall we?  There are just a few main ingredients in this Won Ton Noodle Soup.

Main Ingredients--2

First, you’ll need some shrimps, I like to use 31-40 count (which means there are 31 to 40 shrimps in a pound), the texture of this size of shrimp is more bouncy than smaller size ones.  I usually cut them into smaller pieces so they are easier to wrap.  Up next is some ground pork for flavor and as a binding agent.  Also, there are some ready to eat bamboo shoots in chili oil that are already julienned.  Up next,won ton wraps; I’ve tried a few different brands and they are pretty much the same in flavor and quality.  Just make sure to get the thin one for Won Ton and not the thick kind for Chinese dumplings.   I love to serve the won ton noodle soup with Bak Choy, you can use your preferred vegetables.  Last but not least, the chopped green onions.  They are not only for garnish on top, but also add a nice mild oniony flavor to the soup.

Of course, you’ll need noodles for this noodle soup.  The egg noodles shown on the picture below is the authentic fresh egg noodles used in traditional Won Ton Noodle Soup.  They are available in most Asian supermarket in the refrigerator session. Make sure you get this skinny kind, not the wide and flat ones that looks like linguini.  Although the package shown four sessions of noodle, this whole package can easily serves six.  Well, of course, that depends on your appetite as well.


Up next are the marinade ingredients, there are sesame seed oil, Shao Hsing cooking wine, fish sauce, soy sauce, ground white pepper, 1 egg, some corn starch, sugar and kosher salt.  The marinating is simple, just mix everything together with the shrimps, ground pork and bamboo shoots and you’re ready to wrap them up.

Marinade Ingredients 2

Before you start, prepare a lightly floured sheet pan so the wrapped won tons has a place to land.  Also, you’ll need a small bowl of tap water so you can seal the wrappers.  Here goes the step by step instructions as shown in the picture below:

1) Pick up a piece of won won wrap, spoon a heaping teaspoonful of won ton filling onto the center of a piece of won ton wrap.  Make sure you get a little bit of everything, a few pieces of shrimps, some ground pork and bamboo shoots are in the mix.  Dip your finger into the prepared bowl of water and wet all the edges of the won ton wrap. 

2) Fold a corner of the wrap to the opposite side to form a triangle. 

3) Gently press the sides of the wrap to seal the edges. 

4) Pick up the bottom two corners of the filled won ton

5) Wet the tips and press them together. 

6) Place the wrapped won tons onto prepared sheet pan.  Continue to fill won ton wraps until all fillings are used up.

Step by Step

Easy right?  It’s really fun wrapping these little jewels up.  Almost as much fun as eating them, almost.  I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to help out in the wrapping process. Although they already can’t wait to get their hands on them now.


I love spicy food so I usually serve the Won Ton Noodle Soup with some chili oil or chili sauce. The picture below shows one of my favorite chili oil to use.  The English name on the bottle says “hot and spicy sauce”!  hahaha…so helpful, huh?  Anyway, you don’t really need the name as the logo is so distinctive!  Don’t judge, this is a really flavorful chili oil with a nice crunch.  The manufacturer must have toasted the chilies really well before they’re bottled. 


Notice how clear the soup/stock is?  That’s because I cook the won tons and noodles in a separate pot than the stock.  The water used to cook the noodles and won tons would be too starchy and sticky to consume.  So, I never cook the noodle in the stocks directly.  That is an important step to a wonderful bowl of won ton noodle soup.


Since these noodles are fresh egg noodles, they cook up really fast compared to dried noodles.  They are el dente in about 2 to 3 minutes cooking time.  Just like pasta, do not over cook the noodle.  However, the texture of these egg noodles are quite different than Italian pasta.  They are a lot more “bouncy” than pasta, which is a lovely compliment with the won tons.


Yes, I love chili oil in every bite.  Smile with tongue out  Here’s how the won ton looks like when it’s cooked.  The won ton wrap becomes slightly translucent, silky and smooth, so thin that it’s almost invisible.


And below shows the inside of the won ton….the shrimp is naturally sweet, bouncy and flavorful.  There’s a slight crisp from the bamboo shoots.  With a hint of sesame oil and chili oil, every bit is heavenly.  It’s such a heart and stomach warming dish!  With the weather getting colder each day, I know I’ll be enjoying this Won Ton Noodle Soup a lot more often as well.  I hope you’ll try the recipe and let me know how it goes. 


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Onion Chutney with Red Wine


Have you ever made chutney at home?  Chut what?  Smile  Chutney is a condiment used in South Asian cuisines that usually contains a spice and vegetable mix.  Vinegar or citrus juice are usually used as preservatives.  The texture of chutney could range from coarse to fine; it can also be wet or dry.  If you haven’t make chutney before, you might want to read on and check this recipe out.


There are quite a few ingredients in this recipe and the good news is, you might already have everything in your pantry.  It takes a while to cook down the onions but the process is super straight forward.  Believe it or not, the most you need to do are just some chopping and stirring, that's about it.  The stove top and time will work the "magic" for you.  Oh, and tasting at the end, and perhaps do some "ooo-ing" and "arr-ing" when you're surprised by how tasty these simple ingredients can turned out.  Really, nothing too complicated and the end result is unbelievably irresistible.  Just keep in mind, your patience will be rewarded.  
Onion Chutney Combine

I got some beautiful chilies from my In-Law’s garden and they were perfect for this recipe.  The heat from the chilies balanced perfectly with the sweetness of the onions.  You can also substitute the chillies with a Jalapeno if you like.  I love the flavor that are combined from the bay leaves and fresh thyme.  They were earthy and fresh; a great compliment to each other.  The dry red wine added the depth of flavor to the chutney.  The combination is really magical and tasty.

Guess what?  I’m adding this wonderful recipe to my Christmas homemade gift-giving list.  Winking smile  Since this recipe only yields about 3 cups, which fits into 2 or 3 jars depending on the size of the jars.  You might want to double or even triple this recipe up when you are canning them for gift-giving.  I can't believe Christmas is only two months from now, time really flies.


How did I enjoy the chutney?  Here’s what I did….I spread my favorite creamy cheese on a piece of cracker, and pile high with these Onion Chutney with Red Wine on top.  It’s the perfect two-bite appetizer.  You can use goat cheese, herbed cheese or anything you preferred.  I can imagine this chutney would be a lovely addition on top of some creamy soup as well.  Before I go blend up the soup, I need to hurry up and submit this recipe to Kitchen PLAY.   

The National Onion Association is also sponsoring a wonderful giveaway at Kitchen PLAY. Simply recreate any one recipe from this month’s Progressive Party, post about the experience on your blog and provide a link to your post on Kitchen PLAY to enter. All qualifying bloggers in each course will be entered to win $100 (6 prizes total).  The deadline is October 31, 2011. Please review the complete contest rules before entering. Good luck!  Thank you Jamie, from My Baking Addition, for the inspiration for this recipe.

Hope you will try this recipe out and let me know what you think.  Smile


Friday, October 21, 2011

Matcha (Japanese Green Tea) Tiramisu—Happy Anniversary


Last October, my husband and I celebrated our 6th wedding Anniversary at Maison Riz, a French and Japanese-fusion restaurant.  With our busy schedule this year, we went somewhere nearby instead.  Don’t you see a trend here? Yes, we both love Japanese food.  Smile  On the Maison Riz's post, if you scrolled all the way down to the dessert plate, you’ll see the little green cake in the middle.  That was an amazing piece of Green Tea Tiramisu.  Yes, this recipe is a replicate of that dessert.  It’s so wonderful that I just have to recreate it again.  Why did I waited for almost a year to make this dessert?  I'll explain to you later on in this post.

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Tiramisu in Italian means “pick me up”.  Traditionally, this famous dessert is made of ladyfingers dipped in a mixture of espresso and liquor, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks, cream and mascarpone cheese and cocoa powder.  The texture is so soft and fluffy, hence, it’s called “pick me up”.  I’m sure many of you have tried this dessert at a restaurant or even made some at home.  If you’re a Matcha (Japanese Green Tea) lover, you’ve got to try this recipe out.  Even if you’re not a big time fan for Green Tea, this is still an amazing dessert.


So, why did I waited for almost a year to make this Matcha Tiramisu?  Actually, I have wanted to make them for a long while.  Unfortunately, I had a hard time tracking down the ladyfingers in the neighborhood markets.  I tried homemade ladyfingers and my Tiramisu turned out to be a mess!  Smile with tongue out  Luckily, one of my good friends knew I was on the quest to hunt down the ladyfingers and she came to the rescue and got me a huge package!  I’ve made a few batches of the traditional Tiramisu and a couple of batches of these Matcha version and they all turned out amazing!  Thank you for the fingers, my dear friend! Open-mouthed smile


A message for my hubby: The past seven years has been nothing but amazing memories.  After having our first condo, changing of career, having two gorgeous kids, moving to another house, and starting an MBA together (yes, together because I feel like I’m taking the courses with you, Honey), I realized I love you more and more every day.  Thank you, my caring and loving husband for this amazing journey together.  I look forward to celebrate many more anniversaries, to accomplish many more milestones, and to grow old (if we’re not already old) with you together.  Smile


Monday, October 17, 2011

Ohshima—Restaurant Review

[Warning: If you're not comfortable seeing live or whole seafood ingredients: including heads and tails, you might want to click away now.  Otherwise, keep on reading for some good eats.]

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I used to live just 15 minutes away from a Japanese community in Los Angeles and pretty much surrounded by authentic Japanese restaurants.  After moving to the Orange county, I haven’t really had Japanese food until my visit to Ohshima.  Ohshima offers a wide variety of Japanese cuisine, both cooked and raw, a full menu from appetizers to desserts.  But if you plan to dine at this place, “Omakase” at the sushi bar is highly recommended.

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Omakase (お任せ) is a Japanese phrase that means "I'll leave it to you". The expression is used at sushi restaurants to leave the selection to the chef.  The chef will generally present a series of plates, beginning with the lightest fare and proceeding to heaviest, richest dishes.

As noted on the menu, the nigiri sushi of the Omakase already came seasoned.  You don’t need to dip them in the soy sauce, really!  You can truly taste the natural sweetness of the fish/seafood and all of them were awesome and super fresh.  My husband and I both ordered the 12 pieces Omakase…and we ended up having more than 12!  Smile with tongue out 

We’ve been to Ohshima in two separate occasions.  On our first visit, we enjoyed the Omakase at the sushi bar.   The second time we sat at the table and ordered from their regular a la carte menu and both were excellent.  First, I’ll post the pictures of the Omakase.

Please excuse the quality of these photos.  As they were taken from a cell phone, not my regular camera.

First, we started with a small plate of complimentary pickled veggies. 

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A glass of cold sake for each of us.

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The chefs working behind the sushi bar, busy preparing our food!  They were very friendly and attentive.

The 3 Sushi Bar Chef

We started off with Diver’s Scallop.  Super fresh and sweet.  The tangy Yuzu is a perfect match for it.

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Up next was Sea Bass. Refreshing and sweet.

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Spanish Mackerel.  You can really taste the ocean from this Mackerel.

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Toro (fatty tuna) charred with blow torch.  Any food involved a blow torch is just delicious.   Charring really added a nice smoky flavor to the fish.  I love the contrast of texture from the charred and raw flash.

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Baby Yellowtail. Another "melt in your mouth" goodness.

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Cherry Salmon.  Not your usual Salmon.  It's flown in from Japan.

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Amberjack.  Sweet, fresh and great texture.  The flash is a bit firmer from the rest.

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Sweet Shrimp Inari.  Yes, it was still swimming a minute before it was served.  The flash was still “moving” when it was on our plate.  The Chef was behind the counter holding the tail of the shrimp so we could take a picture.

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Sweet Shrimp Inari.  It's about the freshest as it can get.

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Deep Fried Sweet Shrimp heads. So crispy and light.  I love it because it’s not greasy at all and you can eat the whole thing including the tentacle.

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Bonito Nigiri.  Great flavor.

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Albacore with Secret Garlic Sauce and Chips.  So pungent, rich and flavorful.  The crispy garlic chips on top made a nice contrast in the texture and add another level of garlic-ey deliciousness.

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Black Cod charred by a blow torch.

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Uni (Sea Urchin) was super fresh and melt in your mouth.

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Blue Crab Handroll, a nice way to conclude the savory part of our dinner.

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Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Smoothie.  The chocolate cake was moist and delicious.  Perfect pairing with these Vanilla Smoothie.

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All the seafood were made with quality ingredients and super fresh.  However, it’s a bit on the pricey side.  But you really paid for what you get.  Our bill for two including sake and dessert came a bit under $160 total, including tax. 

Up next, our second visit with a la carte items.

We started off with Home Made Marinated Uni.  Fresh, sweet, rich and delicious.  The seaweed salad on the bottom made a nice contrast on the texture.  The fresh wasabi on top compliment the Uni nicely.

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Seaweed Salad.  A very refreshing salad.  I love the crunchy and bouncy texture from different type of seaweeds in this salad.  The amount of dressing was just perfect.

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Baked Scallop Crabmeat Wrapped in Salmon.  It’s wonderful and unique.  The Crabmeat and scallop “stuffing” is chopped and wrapped with a piece of salmon fillet and baked to perfection. You can really taste the crabmeat and scallops inside.

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Miso Duck and Forbidden Rice.  The duck was beautifully done.  The blackberry sauce was divine and compliment the duck nicely.  The duck was succulent and juicy. The Forbidden Black Rice has a great texture similar to brown rice and a mild nutty flavor, the perfect bed for the duck.

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Last but not least, the Amberjack Collar.  I had yellowtail collar many times before so I opted to try the Amberjack Collar this time.  This fatty fish collar was perfectly done.  The collar was boiled to perfection with a minimal of seasoning.  It’s served with grated daikon, along with some light soy sauce and a wedge of lemon.  The portion was generous.  Basically, it was half of the fish head along with the collar instead of just the collar.

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We also ordered Udon noodle soup and a Toro cut roll (nothing special on these two).   The total bill was low $70s after tax.  We didn’t order sake nor desserts this time because the kids were rushing us to go home after they were done.

Conclusion: Ohshima is an authentic Japanese restaurant that serves fresh and quality seafood and many unique a la carte dishes.  The dining area is rather small though.  There are only about 12 sushi bar seats and less than 10 tables all together.  You might want to make a reservation before you go or be there early to avoid the line.  Also, there’s no high chair nor booster seat available at the restaurant.  Despite these drawbacks, My husband and I DO plan to go back there again in the future. There were quite a few more other items on the menu we would love to try on our next visit.    

1956 N Tustin St
Orange, CA 
(714) 998-0098