Mango Rice Noddles

This is officially my longest weekend ever. No class from last Friday through next Thursday because of 中秋节 (Mid Autumn Festival)! We only officially get Monday evening and Tuesday off, but I already have no classes Friday, Monday in the daytime, and Wednesday. Basically I never go to school.

Friday I went on a four hour hike on Lantau Island to a small fishing village called Tai O. It was such a long hike, but totally worth it. It was a paved sidewalk almost the whole way, which was very strange to see on the side of a mountain in the middle of nowhere, but it made it a lot easier. Tai O is amazing – all the houses are up on stilts for when the water comes in, and the marketplaces have all sorts of crazy things. It’s mostly dried fish, but all kinds of fish – I saw dried shrimp, squid, seahorses, even blowfish. I even saw what looked like a dried shark! Just on display at the storefront though, not for sale.

Walking around, we saw someone making those bubble waffle things! It was really neat how they do it – you pour the batter into the mold, which is sort of like a waffle iron except handheld. Then you hold it over hot coals until it cooks! This one was way better than when I got it a little while ago in Mong Kok; that one had been sitting out for awhile (aka not blog-worthy), but this one was nice and fresh. It tastes just like a waffle, but the shape just makes it way more fun. It’s like bubble wrap!

Then Saturday I went to Macau, which was awesome. Macau used to be Portuguese territory, so the mix of culture there is so unique. All of the streets have Portuguese names, and you can definitely see the Portuguese influence in the architecture, but everyone is Chinese! Plus, it’s sort of like the Las Vegas of China – tons of hotel casinos. Ones you’ve heard of too, like the Venetian and the MGM Grand.

We walked around a bit getting some street food… EGG TARTS!! They’re hot, with a really buttery crust and eggy filling. They sell them all over at little shops along the street for ridiculously cheap. Also, if you walk around the marketplace people will try to get you to eat samples of whatever they’re selling, like these awfully dry cookies and amazing beef jerky thing. You could basically eat a whole meal there for free! I also got a delicious matcha milk tea with red beans (my favorite) instead of my usual boba. For some reason, none of my friends like red bean… they’re crazy. But anyway. We went to the Ruínas de São Paulo, one of the most famous landmarks in Macau, and that’s basically it. I’d definitely like to go back and explore a little more and see what else Macau has to offer; I feel like there is so much more to see there!

After all that adventuring, I was feeling pretty tired today and just stayed local. We went to a place in Hung Hom called Dumpling King for dinner, and had noodles and 饺子, or pot stickers. It seems like dumplings are the only time I can get vegetables! I had some that were all veggie and some with spinach and pork, plus freshly made soy milk. They were pretty greasy, but very fresh – you could tell they had just made them.

Then we went to a place right next door for dessert, and of course I got sago – mango with fresh mango chunks and grass jelly.  It was sooooo good. Seriously, sago is my new favorite food. Someone else ordered peanut 汤圆 (tangyuan), which is sort of like mochi filled with peanut butter and served in a sweet broth. And then, one of my friends ordered…. mango rice noodles. Or, “noddles,” as the menu said. I don’t know what the waitress thought she ordered, but it definitely wasn’t mango rice noodles. It was a big bowl of grass jelly in this ridiculously strong sesame soup with a little bit of mango on top.

I didn’t think it was that bad, just too strong. I was the only one who didn’t make a gross face when I tasted it. Next time, I think we’re all going to order by just pointing to the pictures.

Fresh Fruit Tart

This Fourth of July was the big unveiling of my boyfriend’s brand new backyard. It’s beautiful – a huge pool and jacuzzi, a seating area by the barbecue, a fire pit, and a gorgeous view. It looks like something out of HGTV. Anyway, I offered to make a dessert, and, always adventurous, I decided to take on a tart.

This tart was all drama. Well, not the tart, but the custard filling. The first recipe I tried was miserable – super chunky, and after I pushed it through a mesh sieve it was fine but there was hardly any of it! The second recipe was great, no chunks and more than enough. It was delicious but a little soupy, and the tart fell apart a bit when it was cut. Oh well, it tasted great. It also melted a little (I blame the heat) but it was fine after an hour in the freezer.

Another thing – I actually doubled the recipe for the crust because my pan is pretty huge compared to a normal tart pan. I made four mini tarts with the leftover dough.

Ingredients:

For the crust (original here):
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 C unsalted butter
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten

For the custard (original here):
 2 C milk
1/4 + 1/3 C granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1/4 C cornstarch
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:
~1/3 C strawberry jelly – optional
~1/3 C Lemon curd (I used Trader Joe’s) – optional
2-3 C fresh fruit (I used strawberries and blueberries for Independence Day)

Special Tools:
Tart pan with a removable bottom

I didn’t manage to get a picture of the ingredients on this one, sorry guys.

Instructions:

For the crust:
1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
2. Cut the butter into small cubes and mix in.

3. Slowly pour in the beaten egg while mixing, and continue to mix until a dough forms.

4. Roll out dough to desired thickness and press into tart pan. Chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400F while dough chills.

5. Cover crust with foil and weigh down with pie weights, dry beans, uncooked rice, or raw nuts. (I used little glass marbles, but I’d like to try nuts – afterward they’ll be deliciously roasted!) Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, remove foil/weights, and bake for another 5 minutes.

For the custard (This is best done with a partner since there are multiple things happening at once, which is why I took so few pictures):
1. In a saucepan, boil milk and 1/4 C sugar over medium heat.
2. Meanwhile, sift together cornstarch and remaining sugar.
3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks. Mix in the cornstarch mixture. Continue stirring until the milk boils.

4. Once the milk boils, remove from heat. Slowly pour the liquid into the egg mixture, whisking constantly (this will prevent the egg from cooking).
5. Return the entire mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once boiling, remove from heat and continue to stir as the custard thickens.
6. Add the vanilla and butter.
7. If there are any little chunks of cooked egg in your custard, push it through a cheesecloth or mesh sieve.
8. Put the custard into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, putting the wrap directly onto the custard. This will prevent a film from forming on top. Put it into the fridge to chill for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

For the assembly (do this the same day you’ll be eating!):
1.
 If using, get out your jelly and lemon curd. Mine were both room temperature, but it might have been better if the lemon curd had been refrigerated.

2. Remove the crust from the pan.
3.
 Melt the jelly and a little bit of water in the microwave at 10 second intervals until liquid. Let cool for a few minutes, and, using a brush, coat the inside of the crust with the glaze. This will add a little bit of extra flavor and help prevent the crust from soaking up the custard and becoming soggy.

4. Chop your fruit as desired. I cut my strawberries into thin slices, but you could also just cut them in half.

5. Fill the crust almost completely with custard.

6. If using, spread a thin layer of lemon curd on top of the custard. Try not to let them mix, but it will be covered up with fruit and taste the same either way.

7. Arrange your fruit on top of the custard/curd, trying to cover up as much filling as possible. Brush a thin layer of the melted jelly on top to make it shiny.
8. Keep refrigerated until it’s time to eat! If it melts a little (like mine did, whoops) pop it in the freezer for an hour or so.