Life at Warp Speed

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Five Variations for the Humble Steamed Egg Custard September 30, 2013

Filed under: Asian (other than Chinese),Chinese,Recipes — lifeatwarpspeed @ 3:17 pm
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Today’s FB post by a friend (and the subsequent comments) inspired me to share my tested and true collection of savory steamed egg custard recipes. This is the epitome of comfort food that many of us recall from the kitchen table in many Asian households. It is a simple, protein-rich, budget-conscious dish that satisfies and feeds the family and the soul. I am sure that one or more of these recipes will remind you of something your mother, auntie or grandmother used to serve to you. I used to make egg custards for my mom during her fight with cancer since this was a good source of protein, but easy to eat and digest. None of these are hard to make, just remember to steam it over gently simmering water. A hard boil will render your steamed egg hard rather than silky smooth.

Note: If you do not own a steam rack, they are very inexpensive at your local Asian grocery. Or you can remove the top and bottom of a can of tuna or use two pairs of wooden chopsticks laid out in a square for your wok or stir fry pan.


 Steamed Egg Custard 

4 eggs — lightly beaten

1 green onion — thinly sliced

1  teaspoon  sesame oil

1/4  teaspoon  salt

1/8  teaspoon  white pepper

1 1/2  cups chicken broth

1/2 cup  ham — diced, cooked crabmeat, shrimp (can be omitted)

Combine eggs, green onion, sesame oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Stir in broth until evenly blended, then stir in the ham, crab meat or shrimp.

Place a steam rack in a wok and add water to just below the level of the rack. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat so the water simmers gently. Pour egg mixture into a glass pie plate or pour into 4 individual custard cups. Set cups on rack and cover. Steam until knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Steamed Egg Custard with Oyster Sauce

2 tablespoons  dried shrimp — soaked and drained (can be omitted)

4  large  eggs

1 tablespoon  light soy sauce — or oyster sauce

1  tablespoon  vegetable oil

1 to 2 tablespoons cilantro or green onions — minced for garnish

Bring 3/4 cup of water to boil and allow to cool. In a small bowl, soak dried shrimp in 3 T of cold water for 30 minutes, or until softened. Drain, reserving soaking liquid. Roughly chop the shrimp. (I often omit this because it can be difficult to find dried shrimp not sourced from China. However, there is something about the taste and flavor that can’t be replicated with substitutions.)

Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Stir in cooled water and soaking liquid. Transfer egg mixture to a 9-inch shallow bowl, add the dried shrimp, and stir to combine.

Bring water to a boil over high heat in a cover steamer larger enough to fit the dish. Carefully place the dish into steamer, cover, and lower heat to medium, and steam 10 to 13 minutes, or just until custard is set. Check the water level and replenish with boiling water. Carefully remove dish from steamer.

Pour soy sauce over the custard. In a small skillet, heat oil until hot but not smoking over high heat. Carefully pour hot oil over custard. The oil will make a cracking sound as it hits the sauce. Garnish with cilantro and green onions, and serve immediately.

Steamed Eggs with Clams

4   eggs

1   can  chopped clams

1 1/2  cups  water — boiled and cooled

1/4   teaspoon  salt

1 1/2    teaspoons  oyster sauce

1 green onion — thinly sliced

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs well with a fork. Drain clams, reserving the clam liquid in measuring cup. Add enough of the cooled water to the clam liquid to make 1 3/4 cups. Add eggs with the clams and salt and stir until blended. Pour into heatproof dish.

Set a rack in a pot and add water to a depth of 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Set the dish on the rack. Lower the heat to a simmer and steam for 25 minutes. The eggs are done when they don’t jiggle in the middle when the dish is taped or an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Pour the oyster sauce over the eggs and spread evenly over the surface with the bottom of a spoon. If desired , sprinkle with chopped green onion.

Chawan-Mushi (Japanese Egg Custard)

1  cup  dashi — warm (preferably not the msg-laden granules as that will make this dish too salty)

1  egg

1  teaspoon  soy sauce

2  medium  shrimp — shelled and deveined

2  small  shiitake mushrooms

2  slices  kamoboko

Mic dashi, egg, and soy sauce in a small bowl and divide equally between two containers. Drop the shrimip, shiitake, and kamaboko into the cups. Cover the mouth of each cup with plastic wrap before steaming. Put cups in a wide-mouth pot. Add enough water to pot to reach halfway up the cups. Cover and bring water to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and steam for 15 minutes. Don’t let water bubble too vigorously.

Steamed Savory Egg Custard with Tofu

4    eggs

4    tablespoons  chicken broth

1    tablespoon  soy sauce

salt and white pepper — to taste

1/4  pound  tofu — silken soft, cut in small cubes

2   teaspoons  sesame oil

1   green onion — minced

In a small bowl, combine eggs, broth, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Stir until egg yolks are completely broken and well blended. Lightly grease a shallow 8-inch bowl with a few drops of sesame oil. Gently pour in egg mixture, add tofu cubes and sprinkle with green onion. Place in wok with enough water to reach the bottom of the bowl. Bring water to a gentle simmer and steam custard for about 20 minutes or until just set, being sure to keep the heat very low so that the custard will stay smooth. Remove from heat and drizzle with remaining sesame oil and serve warm.


Chinese Stoke Writing App – Free limited time! March 13, 2012

Filed under: Apps,Chinese,Kids — lifeatwarpspeed @ 1:40 pm
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App Store – Chinese1.

M and I have been playing with i Learn to Write’s Chinese Stroke Writing app designed for the iPhone and iPad this week. It is a pretty good app designed for English speaking children learning to write Chinese. The app covers the 20 basic strokes and 20 common radicals which is more than enough to get your child started in learning the correct stroke forms.

I am particularly fond of the pictorial examples that are used to demonstrate each stroke and the proper direction. For example, the right falling stoke for 捺 (na4) is pictured as a playground slide as a memory tool. This makes this app very child friendly and visually appealing. Out of all the Chinese stroke apps that I have tried with M, this one has captured his interest and engaged him the longest. This is far more fun and engaging way to introduce writing than tedious practice on character practice paper especially for young children who struggle with fine motor skills.

The app interface is a bit on the sensitive side, so your child will have to be somewhat precise when tracing the stroke which is rather important in Chinese writing anyways. If you don’t follow the stroke correctly, the pencil will not move to the next stroke in sequence until you redo the stroke. There is no need to wonder where to start since the pencil always marks where the proper place to start the stroke. There are audio as well as pin yin with tone markings so that your child can learn how to pronounce the character.

Currently, this app is available for free download for a limited time. It is normally $0.99 which is well worth the price. There is also a free lite version available to try out in case you miss out on the free download.

Highly recommended for children age 3  and up.



5-4-3-2-1 Chinese Spareribs February 24, 2012

Filed under: Chinese — lifeatwarpspeed @ 10:08 pm
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People often think Chinese cooking just takes too much prep work and cutting. This is a pretty simple, tasty recipe to make. There are plenty of variations out there of this quick Taiwanese recipe.

Here is my version:

5-4-3-2-1 Chinese Spareribs

Makes: 4 to 6 servings


  • 2 lbs pork ribs (cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch chunks)*
  • 5 T water
  • 4 T soy sauce (can sub light soy or use less to taste)
  • 3 T of rice wine
  • 2 T of sugar (or brown sugar or use Chinese rock sugar)
  • 1 T vinegar (or rice vinegar or black vinegar)
  • 1 T of vegetable oil.

Note: you can switch sugar and vinegar measurements if you like a more tart, tangy flavor.

In a large wide-mouthed heavy-bottomed pot or wok, heat oil. When hot, add spareribs and cook until browned. Add the water, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar and vinegar. Stir and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary to prevent the ribs from drying out. The ribs are ready when the meat is tender and glossed with a sticky, reddish-brown glaze. Serve with freshly steamed rice and some Chinese greens.


*Asian markets will cut spareribs across the bone into strips. If you are unable to get ribs cut like this, you can substitute country style ribs.


Braised Oxtails with Star Anise and Chinese Greens February 17, 2012

Filed under: Chinese — lifeatwarpspeed @ 11:36 am
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It has been a little chilly here lately in SD, so I pulled out this old favorite that I found years ago in Bon Appetit. This is really a warm, comforting meal on a cold evening. It is a variation of Chinese beef stew which you ca n find many different incarnations of depending on which region of China you are talking about. This is probably most similar to Cantonese style ones.

I often alter this recipe by using beef shanks, stew meat, tendons, tripe or any combination of beef cuts that you think you would like. P’s favorite is always stew meat and tendons. You can alter the cooking time depending on the cuts you decide to use. I will also usually add in thick chunks of daikon and carrots during the last hour of cooking to up the nutritional value of the meal.

The flavor does really improve overnight and even more after a couple of days, so this recipe works better if you make it ahead on the weekend and eat it during the week. Also, if you happen to have a cast iron pot, I recommend using it over a regular pot. I also will serve this with cooked thick Chinese noodles as a soup noodle dish by adding a bit more chicken stock to the bowls and skipping the reduction step.


Braised Oxtails with Star Anise and Chinese Greens


  • 12 (2- to 2 1/2-inch-thick) oxtail pieces (about 4 1/2 pounds), fat trimmed
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth (or water)
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 8 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 8 whole star anise
  • 6 (1/4-inch-thick) rounds fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese brown bean sauce (not ground)
  • 12 to 18 yu choy, baby choy sum, or baby bok choy
  • Chopped green onions


Arrange oxtails in single layer in heavy large pot. Add next 8 ingredients, then enough water to cover oxtails by 1/2 inch; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer until very tender, adding more water by 1/2 cupfuls as needed to keep oxtails covered, about 3 hours. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled at least 1 day and up to 3 days.

Spoon off and discard fat from sauce. Rewarm oxtails over low heat. Transfer oxtails to large plate. Boil sauce just until reduced enough to coat spoon thinly (do not reduce too much or sauce may become salty). Discard ginger slices and star anise.

Meanwhile, cook yu choy in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain well.

Divide yu choy among shallow bowls. Top with oxtails and sauce and sprinkle with green onions.





Pork and Summer Squash Potstickers August 24, 2011

Filed under: Chinese,Cookbooks,Parenting — lifeatwarpspeed @ 11:30 am
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I saw my cousin’s comment on the Beef and Tomato Potstickers recipe ( about being reminded about her mom’s marathon potstickers sessions. Now as an adult, I have very fond memories of sitting in my aunt’s kitchen with my cousins pressed into service to mass produce handmade skins for folding all sorts of dumplings. As a kid, I have to confess I would have been much happier reading instead. Isn’t that the irony about childhood experiences? Sometimes those things we resented so much as children become precious, valued, and even yearned for again with the passage of time.

It does make me think about the things I do with M which quite often are not fun at all for him. Someday, I hope that my parenting choices will be appreciated decades from now when he is able to see the long view. There are so many things that my parents and our wider family clan have taught me for which I have greater appreciation. I use “clan” in the fullest sense of the word since I am related to well over 250 people just in the Bay Area. It can be mind-boggling to contemplate the full impact of that.

Before I go too far off on this bunny trail, I will say that I will probably post more on those topics when I have time to do it justice. Let’s get back to the whole point of this which is sharing with you, my tweaking of another recipe from Stuart Chang Berman’s Potsticker Chronicles (  His recipe calls for lamb, so I substituted ground pork. I really think the world is divided into lamb and non-lamb people; either you love it or you hate it. Obviously, I am in the latter camp.

This is a really great way to use up all that squash that seems to grow like weeds in my backyard. Homegrown squash is so good compared to supermarket squash. There is almost a sweet flavor profile to the squash, and this tastes fantastic in this recipe. It works better to use younger, more tender squash than overgrown gigantic squash the size of your arm.


Pork and Summer Squash Potstickers


1 pound summer squash, finely minced
1 pound ground pork
1 bunch green onions, finely minced
5 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce, or mushroom soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
48 store bought or handmade potsticker skins
1 egg white, lightly beaten (optional)


1.    Place squash in the center of a cloth. Gather the edges of the cloth to form a ball. Twist the gathered fabric and the ball in opposite directions to squeeze as much water out of the squash as possible.
2.    Place the squeezed squash in a mixing bowl. Add the pork, green onions, garlic, soy sauces, rice wine, sesame oil, and black pepper to the squash and mix well with a pair of chopsticks.
3.    To wrap dumplings, you can either use lukewarm water or egg white to moisten one side of each skin. Place about 1 tsp of filling in the center of each skin. Fold and crimp into crescent-like shapes. (Here is a youtube video on how to fold potstickers. Place on a floured tray. Potstickers may be cooked immediately or frozen on the tray. Once frozen, transfer the dumplings to a freezer bags for storage.
4.    You can either boil (Northern style) or pan fry (Canto style) the dumplings to your preference. I find that pan frying works best when you freeze the pot stickers first.

Note: The potstickers turn out better if you use the fattier ground pork available at the Asian markets.


Beef and Tomato Potstickers August 21, 2011

Filed under: Chinese,Cookbooks — lifeatwarpspeed @ 8:00 am
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Nothing says summer to me like super sweet and juicy tomatoes growing outside my kitchen window. I love home grown tomatoes whose flavor can’t be matched by the supermarket. So, what do you do with all those tomatoes? During the peak of tomato season, I like to make one of P’s favorites: Beef and Tomato Potstickers from the Pot Sticker Chronicles. My rule of thumb with cookbooks is generally this. The better ones never seem have a lot of expensive glossy pictures. You won’t find any color photos in The Pot Sticker Chronicles, just stuffed to the brim with lots of recipes.

If you know me in IRL, you know that I hate buying frozen store-bought dumplings with a passion. Don’t even get me started on what I think about those Ling Ling ones that you find at Costco and the supermarket. I think it speaks for itself that no Asian market stocks Ling Ling in their freezer section.

Homemade potstickers are always better. When I make potstickers, it is usually major endeavor, I make hundreds at one time to freeze for later use. This is especially helpful when I have unexpected guests over and I need to make something quick. Whether I make 4 dozen or 24 dozen, the time sink is mostly in the wrapping. I usually make up the fillings during the day and allow them to chill in the fridge until I put M to bed a night. Then I set up my wrapping assembly line and turn on my Tivo and get caught up on my favorite shows while I get to work. It helps to wrap my remote in plastic wrap to keep things sanitary.

The filling is easily multiplied, and it doesn’t require that much effort to make 2 or 3 different fillings. Most people stick making with the pork and cabbage types. If you have ever traveled in China, you learn that there are all sorts of different fillings for dumplings. Today, I want to share this beef and tomato one that has a bit of a spicy kick.


You should not use a low fat ground beef for this otherwise the filling will not be juicy and as flavorful.

As always whenever you work with ground beef, do not over work the meat as it will make the texture of the beef too tough.

You can choose to seed and peel your tomatoes if you like, but it is not necessary.

Leftover wrappers can be frozen. I wrap them up  in plastic wrap, then again with aluminum foil. Then I put the whole thing in a freezer bag. Thaw in the fridge the next time you make potstickers.


Beef and Tomato Potstickers from Pot Sticker Chronicles by Stuart Chang Berman (

Serves 4 to 6 (approx. 48 potstickers)


1 pound ground chuck
3 medium tomatoes, finely minced and drained well
1 bunch green onions, finely minced
6 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 whole egg
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce, or mushroom soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine
5 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon serrano peppers, finely minced
48 potsticker wrappers, store bought or handmade
1 egg white, lightly beaten, optional


1.    Combine all ingredients except the wrappers and egg white  in a mixing bowl and mix well with a pair of chopsticks. Transfer filling to a colander and allow to drain.
2.    To wrap dumplings, you can either use lukewarm water or egg white to moisten one side of each skin. Place about 1 tsp of filling in the center of each skin. Fold and crimp into crescent-like shapes. (Here is a youtube video on how to fold potstickers. Place on a floured tray. Potstickers may be cooked immediately or frozen on the tray. Once frozen, transfer the dumplings to a freezer bags for storage.
3.    You can either boil (Northern style) or pan fry (Canto style) the dumplings to your preference. I find that pan frying works best when you freeze the pot stickers first.

* If you want to reduce the heat, scrape out the the ribs and seeds of the pepper first. That’s where most of the heat is in a hot pepper.


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