Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Black Garlic Siew Mai

Surprise! Here's a new post on Feast with Bron. Has to be said we've been eating well and variously in the intervening time but the actual writing about it has not happened of late. With the new year on its way that is set to change - probably! I have come close to posting - particularly for a recipe with spiced lamb balls and chickpeas, and another of lentils with minced pork and chopped kale. I especially liked autumn vegetables braised in stock and herbs and daube with tagliatelle - a trick I learned from eating more than occasionally at our fabulous local, The Canton Arms. And yet, somehow, though I thought about the elements and took some lovely pictures, the posts didn't come. Apologies.

What tipped me over into finally starting again was being sent some black garlic to try. It's amazing looking stuff - garlic cloves black as pitch, as though remade with molasses. They are gorgeous things, fragrant and sticky and chewy and vaguely shiny. I do love shiny. Best of all there is a delicate garlic undertow when sink your teeth in. It is made using regular garlic that is gently heated over a few weeks till the heads are a rich sweet black. There's none of the harshness of raw garlic in taste or perfume - when I showed the man what I was using he tried a clove. Tentative at first he soon declared they would be a great addition to a plate of nibbles with drinks - and he's absolutely right. Match them with some marinated olives, a little cheese and a few oatcakes and you have fabulous with Christmas drinks ready on a plate.

I googled to find things to cook - found an interesting Singapore site with lots of interesting ideas. I really fancied steamed wantons, so made a version of the siew mai and served them up atop jasmine rice and greens stir fried with garlic, chilli and oyster sauce. Total delight.

Black Garlic Siew Mai

Though you can make your own wanton skins they are readily available in Chinese grocers, sometimes fresh but always frozen. They don't take long to defrost. The pork comes from the Ginger Pig and you can buy black garlic at some supermarkets and good deliscatessans.

4 dried shitake mushrooms
3 cloves black garlic, thinly sliced
150gm minced pork
1 small egg, lightly beaten
1 tbspn cornflour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
25ml vegetable oil
25ml water
20 wanton skins

Soak the mushrooms in boiling water, stalk side down, for 15 minutes or until they are softened. If they are quite old they may need a second covering in boiling water before they are good to use. When properly softened, cut away and discard the stems and finely chop the caps.

Mix the mushrooms with the black garlic, pork, egg and cornflour and stir in one direction only until sticky. Add the salt, sugar, oil and water and mix well.

Dollop a teaspoon of mixture into the centre of each wanton wrapper and gently fold up the sides around it. Trim off any excess skin.

Put the siew mai into a bamboo steamer over boiling water or into a perforated tray for a steam oven. Steam for 8-10 minutes till cooked through.

Don't know why you are instructed to stir only one way - I did it, and included it here, just in case it has some mysterious effect!

It produced a fabulous tray of siew mai with lovely textures and flavours. It worked a treat as dinner but would be just as good as hot nibbles dipped in a little Japanese soy with cocktails.

New treats for Christmas!

Hope you have a good one, full of joy, happiness and lots of great food.