Taste of Shanghai & Meet Fresh, Eastwood

Last night Mr Girl Meets Sugar and I were in the mood for some authentic dirty Asian food – we weren’t really sure of which type of Asian food but it didn’t really matter because we knew we were guaranteed to find something good in Eastwood. Eastwood’s one of those places you go to if you ever want to feel like you’re in the middle of Asia but can’t be bothered fighting the crowds in Chinatown. I love it for its cheap eats and huge variety of asian grocery stores.

While walking around trying to decide on where to eat we spotted Taste of Shanghai. It had a decent line outside the front entrance so we figured we’d try it out to see what all the fuss was about.

For our entree we decided on the Shanghai Style Mini Steamed Pork Buns. These plump little parcels were incredible. Each dumpling is filled with seasoned pork mince and a small amount of hot soupy liquid.  It’s tricky biting into them without having jets of soup spray across the table.

Shanghai Style Mini Steamed Pork Buns (8 pieces) - $8.80

Whenever it’s available on the menu the hot and sour soup is always a must. I have no idea what all the random bits floating around in the liquid are but I love this soup! Taste of Shanghai’s version didn’t disappoint – it had just the perfect amount of tang.

Shanghai Style Hot & Sour Soup - $7.80

For our main we couldn’t go past the Braised Pork. Tender chunks of meat layered between ribbons of fat, all soaked in a sweet soy sauce – hello heart attack! Felt kinda guilty eating so much fatty meat but it was worth it.

Braised Pork with Eggs in House Special Soy Sauce - $22.80

Of course dessert was a must so we went across the road to the newly established Meet Fresh. We ordered the Mango Surpreme Crushed ice with extra taro balls. All I can say is YUM! I’ll let this picture do all the talking:

Supreme Mango Crushed Ice - $8

Taste of Shanghai, Eastwood – in a snapshot
200 Rowe Street, Eastwood 2122

  • Food: 7/10 – tasty without being overly oily; extensive menu list
  • Service: 6/10 – the ticketing system for the waiting line was a little disorganised; food arrived quickly
  • Value: 7/10 – a little pricey for Eastwood standards but generous serving sizes
  • Overall: 7/10 – would return, but mostly likely only for special occasions with a large group of people

Chinese White Radish Cake (Lor Bak Goh / Luo Bo Gao)

There was a period in time where I’d wake up every Saturday morning craving yum cha. Spinach dumplings, pork dumplings, beef rice noodles, pork buns, taro puffs, radish cakes, mango pancakes, that thing with the tofu skin wrapped around it.. you name it. Lucky for me Mr Girl Meets Sugar and I share pretty similar tastes in food so it was never a hard task to convince him to trek it down with me to the closest yum cha restaurant where we’d stuff ourselves silly with dim sum.

The annoying thing about yum cha is you have to go in with a big group to really enjoy the variety of dishes on offer. Each dish usually has 3-4 servings so it makes it impossible for people who want to dine on their lonesome to have the same enjoyable experience. Do people even go to yum cha alone? It occurred to me that there could come a day where I’d be in the mood to go on a dumpling rampage but not be able to get my fix because there’d be no one to go with.. so why not just make these dishes myself?

While researching I stumbled across a dumpling recipe goldmine, that is Andrea Nguyen’s asiandumplingtips.com. My first tried and tested recipe of her’s was for Chinese White Radish Cake and it did not disappoint. The outside of the dumpling is seared to a crisp which contrasts amazingly with the smooth and fluffy textured innards. Slap on some hot chilli sauce and you’re winning. I was so impressed with the end result that I went out and bought her book “Asian Dumplings“. The best thing about this recipe is that it makes a batch big enough to have leftovers ready to be fried off at a later date. These can be stored in the fridge for about a week, or frozen for a couple of months. Sometimes I’m lazy and don’t even bother frying; I just defrost and heat them up and they taste just as good.

Chinese White Radish Cake

2 cups white rice flour, preferably from China or Thailand
1/4 cup wheat starch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
10 to 12 small or medium dried shrimp, soaked in hot water to cover for 30 minutes (I replaced this with a handful of shitake mushrooms soaked for an hour – I’m not the biggest fan of shrimp)
1/2 kilo daikon radish
2/3 cup Chinese pork sausage (lup cheong), chopped very finely
3 shallots, chopped finely

Cooking and Serving
Neutral oil to coat the cake pans and the skillet
Oyster sauce or hot sauce

2-inch-high steamer rack
Two 9-inch round cake pans
Pot large enough to hold both the rack and the cake pan when covered

Make the Batter: Combine the rice flour, wheat starch, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and set aside.  Drain and finely chop the shrimp.

Peel the daikon and grate it through the small holes of your grater onto a kitchen towel.  Bring together the ends of the cloth and twist to squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can into the bowl.  Measure out the collected juices and add enough water to the juice to make 3½ cups.

Pour the daikon liquid into a medium pot.  Add the grated daikon and bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Mix in the sausage, scallions, and chopped shrimp, cover, and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Slowly add the rice flour mixture and whisk continuously until free of most large lumps.  The batter will be thick and sticky and a little lumpy.

Steam the Dumplings:  Place the steamer rack in the pot, add 1½ inches of water to the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Brush both cake pans with a little oil and divide the batter between the 2 pans.  Dip a spoon into cool water and use the back of the spoon to smooth out the surface of the batter.

Carefully place one of the filled pans on the steamer rack, cover, and steam for 40 minutes.  The other filled pan should be covered and left sitting at room temperature while the first one cooks, or it can be cooked simultaneously in another pot.

Remove the pot from the heat.  Carefully lift the pan out of the pot, place it on a folded kitchen towel, and allow the radish cake to cool to room temperature.  Cook the other filled cake pan.

Unmold the radish cake and gently turn it onto a cutting board.  Cut each dumpling into 8 equal slices.

When ready to serve, coat a large skillet with oil and heat over medium heat.  Carefully place the slices of radish cake in the pan and cook until their bottoms are crispy and golden brown, about 4 minutes.  Turn them over to brown the other sides.  Serve with a side of oyster sauce or hot sauce.


Mango Sago Dessert

Hooray for Summer and hooray for mango season! What better way to celebrate than with a refreshing concoction of mango purée, evaporated milk and chewy balls of sago pearl goodness. This typically Asian dessert is served at most yum cha restaurants. The rubberiness of the sago lends this dessert a really unique texture and it’s one of those things that you either love or you hate. I personally love the stuff. I would add these little balls to everything I ate if I could.

Mango Sago Dessert

2 sweet mangos
1/2 cup of sago pearls
120ml evaporated milk
sugar syrup to taste (optional) – dissolve desired amount of sugar with small amount of boiling water 

Bring about 4 cups of water to boil in a saucepan. Add in sago pearls and bring to the boil. Leave it to boil for about 5 minutes and stir frequently so the balls don’t end up sticking to each other. Once you see that the balls are transparent with a small white dot in the centre turn off the heat. Leave covered for 20 minutes.

Drain the sago from the hot water in a strainer, rinse under cold running water until it cools down and water runs clear. Set aside.

Peel and cut mango into cubes. Set aside a handful of cubes for garnish.

Using a blender or electric mixer, blend the mango to a thick smooth texture. Combine it with the evaporated milk.

If it’s not sweet enough add sugar syrup to desired sweetness.

In a bowl mix the blended mango, cubed mango and sago pearls. Stir well until well combined.

Chill in fridge prior to serving.


Minced Pork & Century Egg Congee

Happy new year’s eve to anyone everyone who’s reading! :)

Today I managed to fit in some last minute Christmas shopping.. and yes I know I’m about a week late but I realised I hadn’t bought any gifts yet for my family and I’m seeing them on Monday oops. Anyway, along the way I managed to pick this up for myself from a little stationery store called Typo:

It’s a recipe stand that I scooped up for 5 bucks (reduced from $20 – yay). How cute is it! Anyone who’s seen my soy sauce/cake batter/tomato paste etc splattered recipe folder will know that I’m in terrible need of one of these.

Of course I just had to use it straight away so I trawled the net to find a recipe for something that I’ve wanted to try to cook for a while now – congee! Pronounced con-jee for those of you who aren’t familiar with Chinese cuisine, and it’s essentially a rice soup/gruel type dish that you can flavour with anything really. The creaminess of the rice, velvetyness of the century egg, and warm clouds of steam that emit into your mouth with each delicious spoonful make this the ultimate comfort food.

Minced Pork & Century Egg Congee 

100g minced pork marinated in soya sauce
1/2 cup rice (long-grained) – I know some people use those really small cups to scoop rice but these measurements are for a normal 250ml cup size
1 1/2 litres of water (to initially boil rice)
1 chicken stock cube (or more if you like it salty)
2 slices of ginger
1 century egg
sesame oil, white pepper, soya sauce, fried shallots, chopped spring onions, fried dough fritters (optional but recommended for topping)

Add rice, water and ginger to a pot and bring to a boil.

When rice has softened (around 15 minutes), lower to a simmer and stir to ensure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

After simmering for around 30 minutes top up with another cup of water.

Add chicken stock cube/s to desired taste (be careful not to add too much as the century egg will add some saltiness into the mix later).

Add in minced pork and stir to break up the meat.

Simmer for 30 minutes more and add water to the desired consistency.

Remove ginger slice, mix in century egg sliced into small wedges or cubes.

Top with soya sauce, sesame oil, pepper, spring onions and/or fried shallots.

Note: keep an eye on the water level as the congee is simmering – you don’t want the water to evaporate too much as the rice will burn. Also, stir frequently to prevent pot stickage.