Thursday, November 29, 2012

Homemade Chinese Turkey Floss/ Turkey Rou Sung

If you have ever have a taste of the Chinese meat floss or any pastry item from a Chinese bakery using meat floss, then you will know how good this meat product is. For those who have not, the idea of a meat-based cotton candy type food can be off putting. In reality, think of pulled pork only dehydrated. Kinda like pulled pork jerky, if you will.

Now, you can usually buy this pre made at any decent Asian grocery store. Some better tasting ones will originate from manufacturers in Taiwan. However, if you are sick and tired of paying over $18 for a pound of pulled pork jerky like I do, and you are a fan of this, you should absolutely try making this at home.

Or in case, Thanksgiving was but a week ago and you found yourself left with over a pound of roasted turkey breast and no one in the family is willing to have another turkey sandwich or pot pie, you can try using the turkey breast for something that won't remind them of Thanksgiving dinner at all, hence, a great reason to make this.

I should warn you however, that this is no easy task. Takes about half an hour of non-stop stirring and spatula chopping action to get the turkey looks like cotton candy and get it to the desired crispiness. Fear not, because the reward is sweeter than you think.

Homemade Turkey Floss

1lb of cooked turkey breast (you can use cooked chicken breast, leftover roast pork, etc)
2 1/2 Tbsp of soy sauce
1 Tbsp of oil (use only if meat is dry, i.e. turkey breast, chicken breast, very lean pork)
5 Tbsp sugar or to taste
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder (optional)
1 tsp 5 spice powder
1 tsp chili powder (optional)


1) Slice leftover turkey, chicken or pork into thin strips. Place them inside a freezer bag.

2) This is the fun part. Using a meat mallet, pound the meat till it is completely flatten and then some. This step is important as it helps to loosen the meat, which will cut short the time you will require when stirring and cooking the meat later.

3) This step is completely optional. If you are anal about getting all pieces completely loosened up and cutting the cooking time to its shortest, use a rolling pin and run it over the bag for, say ten times, just to make sure that they are very close to falling apart.

4) To make your cooking and stirring time a lot shorter, shred the meat into even finer pieces with your fingers before placing them into the wok. This will take less than 5 minutes.

5) Turn the heat to medium. Start stirring the meat in the wok, pressing visible large strips into small bits. Remember, the goal is to get a cotton candy like texture. At this point, I hope you have all the seasoning ingredients mixed in a bowl. Continue to cook and stir the meat for the next 10 minutes before adding the seasoning. It burns easy after you have add the seasoning into the meat.

6) Add in the seasoning, stir, stir, and stir. It is important to toss the meat mixture around the wok and always scrape the bottom of the wok to ensure nothing sticks. Turn the heat down to medium low or low if you find the meat browning up too quick. After 30 minutes, your meat floss should look like the picture above. Now, if you don't want your meat floss to get crispy, you can pretty much stop at this point.

7) Another 5 minutes, and your pork floss will turn crispy. Let the mixture cool in the wok, off heat. You can eat as is, or store them in a jar for use later.

That is how it should look like. And yes, I stored mine in a jar because the next baking project I have in mine will require this meat floss as an important ingredient.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Steakhouse Sweet and Soft Dinner Roll

I don't know about you but each time I go out to a steakhouse, I so look forward to their complimentary dinner rolls and blue cheese chopped salad. Not that because I am cheap (maybe, a little) but those complimentary dinner rolls are to-die-for, literally, and I can make a meal out of the bread and salad in any given day. Forget the steak. For me, the best part of going to a steakhouse is the good rolls and salad. Period.

Now, if you are like me, who are somewhat extremely confident of your bread making prowess, you will want to replicate the dinner rolls at home to impress guests over, say a potluck party or dinner at home. Heck, Thanksgiving is approaching.

How many of those copy cat recipes I have tried so far which lauded the supposedly "kitchen secret" of those steakhouses' dinner rolls you may ask? Well, let's just say that I have tried enough of them which made me lost count and none of them made me feel comfortable enough to serve to a crowd. For one thing, they are not even close to the texture, taste and color of those steakhouses' dinner rolls I was vying for.

That is, until I went and search through the archive of King Arthur's Flour Website and found this keeper. My-oh-my what a great surprise! Those dinner rolls were really good. It took superhuman strength not to eat them all when it came fresh out of the oven. Then again, I guess you really cannot eat all 18 or 20 of them in one sitting.

The one thing which everyone who frequents King Arthur's Website by now will realize that since the company began selling their fancy add-ons baking condiments (note that I used the term loosely here), their new recipes all looked like a hard sell marketing collaterals.

Case in point, why do we need a clearjel to thicken pie filling, sauces, puddings, and etc? Grandma used cornstarch, and most recently, after reading through my newly inherited old recipe box from Grandma, arrowroot starch is the preferred thickener thickening agent minus the starchy, gummy texture. So, pray tell, why can't they state that in their recipe? Yeah, I understand, money sustain a business, and I don't blame them but for home bakers, most of us would like to use on hands ingredients at home, or easily accessible ingredients from our grocery store, without having to pay for shipping. Get the idea, now?

My new mission, I will still bake, as-is, but if I can come up with the perfect substitute for a cheaper ingredient which does not require for the home bakers, like myself, to procure via the Internet or pay a premium for, I will bring you the good news.

Back to the rolls, oh yeah, the rolls!

Steakhouse Sweet and Soft Dinner Rolls
(Adapted from King Arthur's Flour )
Makes 20 dinner rolls

1 1/3 cups (10 5/8 ounces) warm water
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) butter, softened
1/2 cup (6 ounces) honey
2 3/4 cups (12 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1 3/4 cups (7 3/4 ounces King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoon molasses or Indonesian brand sweet thick soy sauce (the original recipe calls for caramel coloring, which I couldn't find. If you have some on hand, use 1 Tbsp powdered, or 2tsp liquid)
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

yellow cornmeal

1) Combine flours, salt and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the dough hook, let the mixer run on low to combine the mix well.

2) Add in all liquid ingredients and butter, drizzling slowly till the mix combines.

3) Turn mixer on to dial number 3, and let it knead for 10 minutes. The dough should form a cohesive dough but still sticky to the touch. Turn dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise for 1 hour. Note: The dough won't double in size but will be puffy.

4) If you choose to knead this by hand, start with combining all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Form a well in the center and mix in all wet ingredients, except for butter. Mix with hands till a dough is formed. It will be very sticky. Knead in the butter.

5) This is when it gets really sticky, literally. Turn dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and knead the dough for at least 15 minutes. You will need to add more oil to your work surface as you go. Resist the temptation to add flour, else you will risk some really tough dinner rolls later.

6) Proceed to let the dough rise in a lightly oiled bowl, covered, for at least 1 hour.

7) We are almost there. Prepare a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with cornmeal. 

8)Divide the dough into 20 pieces and shape it into rounds. Sprinkle more cornmeal on top of the rolls. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise for another 2 hours. I know, this is unconventional but believe me, you won't regret this! I promise!
9) Preheat oven to 350F. Bake this rolls for 15 minutes or till top is golden brown. Rotate the pan halfway through baking time.

Note: Mine does not require more than 15 minutes. However, if you are making 2 trays of this in the oven at the same time, you will have to add more time to the total baking time. Say, another 2 - 3 minutes or so.

Grab a stick of softened butter and proceed to make your way to bread heaven! Advise, eat it while it is hot, warm is acceptable but seriously, it will never make it to the cool stage at my house.