Latest Posts

Onigiri Burger

Mos burger is a Japanese fast food chain which offers Asian-style fast food. Instead of hamburger buns, several of their “hamburgers” are enclosed by rice pressed into a bun shape. When I was in Taiwan, I went a to baseball game; Mos burger was one of the stands in the stadium so I got to try them. I was disappointed in the taste of their fillings, but I was captivated by the idea of a rice bun for a hamburger, so I wanted to make my own version.

My “onigiri burger” or “rice burger” is loosely inspired by Mos burger; however the flavorings are quite different than what Mos burger offers and I chose to season my rice with furikake, which is a Japanese condiment that is often sprinkled on top of rice. These onigiri burgers are a messy but fun and satisfying dish.

The recipe below offers two variations: one made with a hamburger patty and one made with thinly sliced leftover roast pork. You could also experiment with other meats or fillings–Mos burger offers several options too (chicken, fish, pork, beef). The hamburger patty tastes somewhat similar in spirit to loco moco, the Hawaiian dish of white rice, topped with a hamburger, fried egg, and brown gravy but with furikake seasoning and no gravy. Roast pork slices taste similar to a breakfast sandwich because of the combination of salty pan-fried pork and eggs.

Despite how long the recipe looks, if you have left over hamburger patties or roast pork, this recipe is actually quick to assemble. You can make the furikake and toasted bonito flakes while the rice is cooking, and then all that’s left to do is to form the rice buns, fry some eggs, warm up the meat, and assemble everything.

Source: My own

Onigiri Burger (rice burger)

  • Servings: 2 (Makes 2 burgers)
  • Print

Onigiri Burger (rice burger):

  • 2 cooked burgers (each made from about 1/4 lbs) of meat or enough leftover pork shoulder roast for 2 sandwiches
  • kewpie mayonaise
  • 1.5 g bonito flakes (a few tablespoons)
  • 1 rice cooker measurement (3/4 cup) of raw Japanese short grained rice

Furikake (Ingredients that will be mixed with the rice):

  • 1/2 sheet of nori
  • 1 tsp aonori
  • 1 Tbsp toasted brown or white sesame seeds (See here for how to toast sesame seeds. Wait until they are cool before adding them to the mixture)
  • 1/2 tsp umami dust (recipe below)
  • 1/8 tsp shichimi tōgarashi
  • 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt

Equipment:

  • plastic wrap
  • (optional) rice cooker

Mix the Furikake:

Re-crisp nori by briefly passing it over a flame if the package has been open for a while and the nori is no longer crisp.

To cut nori into slivers (1/2 inch long or shorter): Using scissors, cut nori into long thin strips about 1/2-inch wide or thinner. Stack the strips and cut crosswise into thin strips.

Mix the nori and the rest of the furikake ingredients together in a container with a lid. Store tightly covered in order to keep the nori crisp.

Variation: Many premixed furikake mixtures are sold in Japanese grocery stores. If you don’t want to make your own, one of these could probably successfully be substituted for this mix. Choose one with compatible flavors and check labels to make sure that it doesn’t have any additives or preservatives that you don’t want. If the premixed furikake mixture that doesn’t have salt, add 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt to the rice in addition to the furikake.)

Variation: The onigiri burger would probably also taste fine with no furikake, though I haven’t tried this variation yet. If you choose to make this version, mix the cooked rice with 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt before forming the buns.

Toast bonito flakes:

The bonito flakes can be optionally toasted; toasting them helps to bring out their fragrance. Toast some bonito flakes on medium in a dry un-oiled pan, stirring constantly, until fragrant (it should only take a minute or two). Let cool and then store in a tightly covered container to keep crisp.

Rice Buns:

Cook the rice using your preferred rice cooking method (stovetop or rice cooker machine). Once the rice is done, use a rice paddle or large spoon to fluff the rice. You can leave it on the warmer setting if you are not ready to form the patties yet. (Don’t mix the furikake into the rice until just before forming the patties so that the furikake stays crisp.)

Cut four pieces of plastic wrap which are approximately 11 inch by 11 inches.

When you are ready to form the patties, use a silicone rice paddle or a large spoon which is slightly dampened with water to prevent sticking, mix the rice with the furikake. Use a 1-cup measure or preferably a scale to divide the rice into 4 equal portions.

If you can form the rice disks quickly (the rice should still be warm when you form it), then place each portion of rice on to a piece of plastic wrap. Otherwise place one portion of rice on a piece of plastic wrap and leave the remaining portions in your rice cooker (use the “keep warm” setting if it has it, otherwise just keep the lid on).

The rice buns are formed using the same techniques as onigiri. Two methods are described below. I recommend forming them with your hands — it is much easier than it sounds. The rice shouldn’t stick to your hands if they are damp and if you rinse off the excess starch in between forming disks. Use the plastic wrap method if you have trouble with the rice sticking.

To form each rice disk with your hands: Wet your hands with water, shake off the excess, and form the buns directly with your hands (the moisture will prevent the rice from sticking to your hands). Place each formed rice disk on top of a piece of plastic wrap. Rinse your hands to remove any excess starch sticking to them (no soap needed) and then form the next disk.

To form each rice disk using plastic wrap: If the rice is too hot to hold, you can wait a few seconds for it to cool down before forming it. The rice should be warm when you form it. To form, gently hold the rice in the plastic wrap, and squeeze the edges towards the middle to make them stick more firmly together. The rice will have formed a loose ball. Loosely enclose the rice in the plastic wrap and place on a counter or plate. Press flat into a disk. If necessary loosen the plastic wrap by lifting it up and re-draping over the rice. Alternate between gently pressing the edges into a circle shape, loosening the plastic wrap, and pressing flat until the rice is shaped as a thin circle, 1/2 inch thick or a little thicker (otherwise the final hamburger will get really thick). After forming the rice buns, open up the plastic wrap so that the heat won’t make moisture condense on the buns and set aside.

Repeat to form a total of 4 rice patties (2 tops and 2 bottoms).

The rice buns can be prepared several hours beforehand. To store, wrap the rice buns up in the plastic wrap. It’s preferable to wrap them after the rice has cooled so that moisture doesn’t condense on them, but not critical; if you’re in a hurry, it’s okay to wrap them when warm. The plastic wrap will help to prevent the rice from drying out. If you need to store them overnight, they should be refrigerated and wrapped in plastic wrap; they can be rewarmed by toasting (see below). They can also be frozen for longer storage–reheat using the toasting instructions below (no need to thaw first). Toast until they are hot throughout and lightly toasted on bottom; frozen rice buns will need to toast for slightly longer than unfrozen ones.

 

To toast the rice buns: Optionally, the rice patties can be toasted just before serving (Mos burger toasts their rice buns). Toasting the rice patties helps them hold together better and make them less sticky than cooked rice, and as a result the dish will be less messy (untoasted rice buns have a tendency to fall apart). You can choose whether to toast them lightly or until they are crispy. I prefer untoasted or lightly toasted rice buns, since the rice stays soft and moist and it melts into the other ingredients. If the rice buns are too crispy, I think it overwhelms the delicate nori and bonito flavors of the onigiri burger.

To toast: heat a well-seasoned cast iron pan on medium. If you are worried about sticking, then lightly brush either the bottom side of the rice buns or the pan with toasted sesame oil. It’s okay to use toasted (dark-colored) sesame oil for cooking on medium heat, but not high heat since it has low smoking point. Remove plastic wrap from rice patties and add the rice patties flat. Let sit undisturbed for at least 30 seconds; the rice patties may stick initially but as they cook they should detach from the pan. Cook, rotating occasionally to make sure that they cook evenly. I recommend cooking for a total of 3 minutes on one side only; the patties won’t brown in this amount of time and the rice won’t become very crispy–which is how I like it. However, you can also toast the rice buns until the bottoms become slightly browned if you want crispy rice (about 4 to 6 minutes, depending on temperature), and you can toast both sides of the bun if you prefer.

If using hamburger patties:

Cook or warm up hamburger patties. Preferably the hamburger patties should be thin; otherwise the entire rice burger will become very thick. Sprinkle a tiny bit of salt on top if you are using a hamburger patty.

If using leftover roasted pork shoulder:

Slice the roasted pork shoulder paper-thin or up to 1/8-inch thick (it’s okay if the slices are so thin that they only make it part of the way through the meat, though aim for some longer slices since this will hold together better). Thin slices are best, since you want them to break into pieces about as easily as the rice breaks apart.

Pan fry the slices (use a small amount of pork fat or oil to moisten the pan) it until the edges are golden and crispy. When assembling, sprinkle some surface salt on top of each layer; taste a small pieces and add more salt if needed. The salt should be noticeable; it should taste like nicely salty pork breakfast meat. Use a few slices (about 3 slices if they are 1/8 inch thick plus any small scraps) instead of the hamburger.

Pan Fry Eggs:

Pan fry two eggs, sunny side up, in lots of neutral-tasting oil which is heated to medium so that the sides bubble up and crisp. The edges may brown. If the oil splatters too much, turn down the heat slightly. Lightly salt the tops of the eggs when they are cooking. Set aside.

Assemble the Onigiri Burger:

  • Pick one rice patty for the bottom. Leave the plastic wrap underneath this rice patty–since the rice is sticky, the onigiri burger should be served so that the plastic wrap can be used to hold the onigiri burger.
  • Squeeze some kewpie mayonnaise over the bottom rice patty.
  • Top with warmed hamburger patty or thinly sliced pork shoulder roast.
  • Add fried sunny-side-up egg on top of the hamburger patty.
  • Sprinkle toasted bonito flakes on top of the egg. Sprinkle salt on top very lightly; this is just to give it some surface salt.
  • Remove the plastic wrap from the top patty. The bottom piece of wrap should be enough. Top the onigiri burger with rice patty.

Serve immediately, on top of a piece of plastic wrap so that the wrap can be used to hold the burger (otherwise it may be difficult to hold since the rice may stick to your fingers and fall apart).

Source: “Umami Dust”, recipe from Umami Burger via foodandwine.com

Umami Dust


Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons bonito flakes
  • 1/2 ounce crumbled dried kombu
  • 1/2 ounce dried shitake mushrooms

Use a spice grinder to grind all ingredients into a fine powder.

This makes much more powder than is needed for these onigiri burgers, but the umami dust keeps for many months in a tightly covered container. It can be sprinkled on many items, include regular American burgers, which is how umami burger uses it.

Taro Chips and Sweet Potato Chips

Taro chips uses the same technique as making potato chips and sweet potato chips, but there are a few additional details that should be pointed out.

Taro skin and the liquid it emits contains an irritant that makes some people itchy, so try not to touch it. If it bothers you, use a plastic bag or plastic gloves when handling it and wash your hands after handling raw taro. Taro must be eaten fully cooked; it is toxic when raw.

Taro skin should be peeled off before the taro is eaten; depending on the recipe the skin may be peeled when it is raw or after it is cooked. Discard the skin; taro skin is not eaten.

The Chinese variety of taro (also called “Bun Long”) is best for taro chips; other types of taro don’t work as well. Choose a mature taro (not “baby taro”) which is a few inches wide (example, second example). This type of taro has purple fibers when cut crosswise.

Source: Taro Chips (inspired by University of Hawaii’s recipe)

Taro Chips


Ingredients:

  • 1 Chinese taro (also called “Bun Long”). The amount of taro you need varies on how many chips you want to produce.
  • high-heat oil, such as peanut oil
  • kosher salt

Equipment:

  • Deep heavy bottomed pot for deep-frying

Use a knife to cut off the skin from the taro. Discard the skin.

Use a mandoline or the slicer blade of a food processor to slice the taro into large paper-thin slices. The slices should be transparent, but not so thin that they crumple into a ball that is difficult to unfold. (I like to use the 1-2/3 mm setting on my Breville food processor; food processor settings may differ by brand or model.) The raw slices have a tendency to stick together; it is fine if the slices stick together as long as they are easy to separate.

Line a wire rack with paper towels. Pour at least 3 inches of high-heat oil into a large deep-sided heavy bottomed pot. The pot should not be more than a third to half full. Taro chips can be fried at anywhere between 260 F to 320 F. 260 F will produce very light-colored chips with almost no browning. The edges (but not the interior of the chip) will brown at 320 F, which I is what I prefer since it then the chips are three colors (brown edges, white interior with purple dots).  Heat oil to you chosen temperature between 260 F to 320 F.

Fry taro slices for about 2 minutes: Place a small batch of taro slices in the oil. It is okay if the slices are initially stuck together as long as they separate when you gently stir them with chopsticks. As soon as you put the slices in, bubbles will form and steam will rise; this is the moisture inside of the chips evaporating. Use chopsticks to gently push the slices around to help separate them; they will become easier to separate as they start to become cooked. The taro slices will start out floppy but as they cook they will stiffen. The taro chips need to be separated before they become fully stiff, otherwise they will meld together. Fry the chips for about 2 minutes, turning occasionally, or until they are stiff and the vigorous bubbles around them have subsided (which indicates that their moisture has released and they are crisp and cooked through). The taro chips won’t brown all over like regular potato chips; if you are cooking them at 320 F the edges might slightly brown, but if you are cooking them at a lower temperature they will be pale colored when fully cooked.

Immediately remove the chips from the oil with a spider or slotted spoon. Drain well and place on a wire rack to cook. Salt while still hot so that the salt sticks to them.

Variation: Toss the chips with salt and a pinch of mild smoked sweet (“dulce”) Spanish paprika or shichimi togarashi while the chips are still hot so that the spices stick.

Source: “Fingerling or Sweet Potato Chips” from “Ad Hock at Home” by Thomas Keller

Sweet Potato Chips

Ingredients:

  • 1 lbs large sweet potato (peeled) or 1 lbs large fingerling potatoes (scrubbed)
  • high-heat oil, such as peanut oil
  • kosher salt

Equipment:

  • Deep heavy bottomed pot for deep-frying

Use a mandoline to slice the sweet potatoes or potatoes (Slicing on a slight diagonal gives a better angle for cutting the chips. Slice fingerling potatoes lengthwise for visually unusual, bigger chips). The slices should be paper-thin (i.e. as thin as possible but not so thin that the edges become uneven).

Pour at least 3 inches of high-heat oil into a large heavy bottomed pot. The pot should not be more than a third to half full. Heat oil to 325 F for sweet potatoes or 350 F for potatoes. Line a wire rack with paper towels.

Add a small handful of slices into the oil at a time. Use a spider or slotted spoon to separate the slices and turn occasionally. Fry slices for about 2-1/2 minutes or until golden brown;

Remove the chips from the oil with a spider or slotted spoon. Drain well and place on a wire rack to cook. Salt while still hot so that the salt sticks to them.

Variation: You can also flavor the chips. Many flavors are possible, for example a single drop of Tabasco on each sweet potato chip makes the chips have a nice spicy and vinegary flavor.

Salmon, Salmon Eggs, and Scallop Chirashi

Chirashi means “scattered sushi”. It is usually presented as sushi rice and other ingredients mixed together or as sushi rice topped with a decorative arrangement of ingredients. Displayed here is sliced raw salmon, raw scallops, salted salmon eggs, and shiso (full leaves and julienned).

To make ikura: Gently rinse salmon eggs (0.15 lbs) in cold water (be careful to not break the eggs). Mix with 1 tsp sake and 1 tsp usukuchi soy sauce with the drained salmon eggs (normally the soy sauce and sake would be heated until simmering to reduce the alcohol and then let to cool before mixing with the eggs, but since this is such a small quantity of sauce this small this isn’t necessary). The salmon eggs can be eaten right away but they will be better if you let them marinate for half a day. If you are luckily enough to find a sack of salmon eggs instead of pre-separated salted salmon eggs, you can prepare them like this.

To make this chirashi bowl, rinse sashimi-quality fish and sashimi-quality scallops briefly in cold water to help remove any bacteria sticking to the outside of the fish and pat dry. Slice the fish into thin slices, and cut scallops in half to make them thinner and more delicate. Place some sushi rice (recipe for sushi rice is available here) in a small serving bowl. Top with a decorative arrangement of fish and ikura. Serve with soy sauce in a small container to dip the fish in and a dab of wasabi. Optionally also serve with half-sheets of toasted nori.

Read here for food safety information about how to buy sushi fish. One easy way to know that the fish you buy is safe to eat raw is to buy it from Japanese markets, which usually have a special refrigerated section for fish that is meant to be eaten raw.

California Roll

From about December to April, it is Dungeness crab season in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. I usually eat my first boiled crab of the year simply cracked at the table and plain except for quick dip in apple cider vinegar or brown rice vinegar. It’s hard to resist–when it is in season the seafood section of supermarkets in this region feature large displays of freshly cooked crab on ice, ready to eat. It makes an effortless meal. Later in the season, I like to make dishes that feature crab. One of my favorites is California rolls since it is comfort food for me; they were the first type of sushi that I tried, and I ate them often when I was a teenager before I would try raw fish.

Source: “Classic California Roll”, “Master Recipe for Sushi Rice”, and “Sushi Vinegar Dressing” from “The Sushi Experience” by Hiroko Shimbo.

California Roll

  • Servings: Makes 4 rolls (8 pieces per roll)
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 Dungeness crab, freshly cooked, about 1.5 lbs uncleaned (about 0.8 lbs of cleaned meat) or substitute another type of freshly cooked crab
  • sushi rice made from 2 rice cup measures of raw rice (1.5 cups raw rice) = 4 cups of lightly packed cooked rice
  • 4 sheets of nori, preferably an extra crispy type (some packages have crispiness indicators)
  • 1 small cucumber, preferably seedless
  • (optional) Sriracha mayonnaise (recipe below)
  • 2 smallavocados or 1 large avocado
  • (optional) 1 lemon
  • One or more of the following for coating the rolls: toasted brown sesame seeds (preferably unhulled), toasted black sesame seeds, tobiko (flying fish roe), aonori (seaweed powder), ito-katsuo (julienned bonito fish flakes)

Cook sushi rice according to this recipe.

While the rice is cooking, clean and remove all meat from the cooked crab. Set the meat in a bowl in the refrigerator to keep cool. Save the shells to make stock (crab stock is made the same way as shrimp stock).

Cut the cucumber in half. Remove seeds, if any. If the cucumber is as long as the longest side of your nori sheet, then cut the cucumber into four long strips, that is about 1/4 inch wide and are as long as your nori. Otherwise cut enough cucumber strips to create 4 rows which are as wide as your nori (e.g. if the strips are about half as long as your nori, then cut 8 strips).

Half the avocado, remove the seed, and use a spoon to scoop it out of its skin. Optionally squeeze some lemon juice over to help keep it green. Cut into slices about 1/8 inch thick.

Wrap the sushi rolling mat in plastic. Since this is an inside-out roll the rice will be rolled on the outside of the mat; the plastic prevents the rice from sticking.

You can use 1/2 sheets, 3/4 sheets, or a full sheet. The rolls will be easier to close if you use a bigger sheet, but they will also be bigger. Place the nori shiny side down on the mat.

Coat all but the top 1/2 inch of the nori with sushi rice, and then cover the rice with one or more of the ingredients for coating the outside of the roll to make it not stick. Flip the nori over to make an inside-out roll. After you flip the nori over, make sure that the uncoated edge of nori underneath is located at the edge closest to you (so you will begin rolling from edge which has no rice on either side and end with the edge coated in rice). The bottom edge of the nori should be lined up with the edge of the mat (this makes it easier to begin wrapping).

Lay a single row of cucumber across the nori, about 1/4 of the way from the bottom. Lay crab next to the cucumber, and top with about 2 tsp of Sriracha mayonnaise. Lay a single row of avocado slices on top.

Roll the sushi using the mat as a guide. Slice into 8 pieces, with a slightly damp knife (clean the knife with a damp cloth after each cut to help prevent sticking).

I think these rolls are best when Sriracha mayonnaise is included in the roll. The sauce brings out the flavor of the crab, similar to how mayonnaise improves the taste of lobster in a lobster roll. Small amounts of Sriracha mayonnaise can be made by mixing equal amounts of Sriracha and Kewpie mayonnaise and optionally a few drops of toasted sesame oil (taste and add more Sriracha or mayonnaise as necessary).

Sriracha mayonnaise


Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha
  • (optional) a few drops of toasted sesame oil

Mix all ingredients. Taste and add more Sriracha or mayonnaise as necessary.

(Hawaiian) Okinawan Sweet Potato Pie with Haupia Topping

This pie has a vibrant purple layer made from Okinawan sweet potatoes which are naturally purple, a rich coconut milk layer that has the consistency of firm gelatin though it’s made from only sugar, cornstarch, water, and coconut milk, and a delicate shortbread pie crust. Since the Okinawan sweet potatoes taste similar to chestnuts or taro, it is reminiscent in flavor (but not texture) to a Chinese-style sponge cake filled with a chestnut purée. It can be made any time of the year; it would be fun to serve as an unusual Hawaiian-inspired alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato pie.

Okinawan sweet potatoes have tan or brown skin and a dark purple flesh that becomes even more vibrant when cooked. They have a dry dense texture, taste sweet, and their flavor is similar to chestnuts or taro. They are most likely to be found in Hawaiian or Japanese grocery stores. This pie must be made with Okinawan sweet potatoes; other types of yam or sweet potatoes cannot be substituted because their flavor and texture is very different.

Source: Modified from “Okinawan Sweet Potato Pie with Haupia Topping” reprinted in “Best of the Best from Hawaii Cookbook: Selected Recipes from Hawaii’s Favorite Cookbooks” edited by Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley. The recipe is originally from “Hawai’i’s Best Local Desserts”.

(Hawaiian) Okinawan Sweet Potato Pie with Haupia Topping


Ingredients

Press-In Shortbread Crust:

  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1-1/2 sticks cold butter (12 Tbsp, 3/4 cup)
  • (optional) 1/2 cups chopped toasted Macadamia nuts

Okinawan Sweet Potato Filling:

  • 1 stick room temperature butter (8 Tbsp, 1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 generous cups Okinawan sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Haupia Topping (Coconut Pudding):

  • 5-1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2/5 cup cornstarch (about 6-1/2 Tbsp)
  • 1-1/8 cup water (1 cup + 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 can (19 oz) coconut milk (preferably Mae Ploy brand since it is very creamy)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Press-In Shortbread Crust:

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter or lightly oil a pie pan or a rectangular-shaped or square-shaped baking pan if you would like to make bars. Combine the sugar and flour. Cut or use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour mixture until sandy. If the butter starts to melt or becomes too soft, place it in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes to cool and then continue.

Press the crust mixture lightly into the bottom baking pan as evenly as possible. If you are using a pie pan, then press the crust mixer lightly onto the sides of the pan and use a table knife to cut the top of the crust to an even length. If you are using a rectangular or square-shaped baking pan, there is no need to press the crust mixture onto the sides (The Okinawan sweet potato filling which touches the sides of the baking pan may turn brown after baking; if so you can trim off a thin slice of the brown edges before cutting the pie into squares or bars). Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes to firm it before baking. The unbaked crust can be made ahead of time and stored frozen.

Bake at 325 F for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the crust is pale but very lightly browned. Let cool.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Filling:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

You can cook the Okinawan sweet potatoes by baking, boiling, or steaming them. I suggest steaming them whole, since this best preserves their color and moisture.

To steam the Okinawan sweet potatoes whole: Fill the bottom of a large pot with a tight-fitting lid with a few inches of water (the water level should be below the shelf of your steaming rack or metal colander so that the Okinawan sweet potatoes don’t get wet). Heat on high until boiling. Reduce heat to medium. Place a metal steaming rack or metal colander in the pot. Place the Okinawan sweet potatoes on the rack, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and steam until they can easily be pierced with a fork (about 30 minutes). They should be steamed over gentle heat; reduce the heat if the top of the pot is clanking a lot due to releasing steam.

When the Okinawan sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and then mash them. I suggest using a potato ricer to get the finest consistency so that the pie has a smooth texture.

Beat the butter and sugar. Mix in the eggs. Gradually mix in 2 cups of mashed Okinawan sweet potatoes. Add the evaporated milk, vanilla, and salt. Slowly increase the mixing level to medium-high and whip the mixture as you would to make whipped potatoes (e.g. to level 8 out of 10) in order to incorporate air into the filling.

Pour the filling into the crust; stop when it fills the crust halfway. If you have extra filling, you can bake it in another pan to make a crust-less pie or you can make an additional crust to bake it in (the pie tastes best with the shortbread crust).

Cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil so that the edges won’t become overly browned. Bake at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean but has a few moist crumbs stuck to it or some moisture on it (this indicates that the filling is cooked through but is still moist). Cool.

Haupia Topping (Coconut Pudding):

Mix sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a medium pot. Stir in water and blend well. Add the coconut milk. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, but doesn’t boil. It will become very thick, similar to a frosting.

Cool slightly, and then pour the haupia over the pie filling, until it covers the pie and nearly fills the crust if you are using a pie pan (a small portion of the sides of the crust should peek out above the haupia). Use a spatula to smooth the top of the haupia topping.

If you have extra haupia then it can be spread over the extra baked Okinawan sweet potatoes filling if you made some or the extra haupia can be spread in a new pan and served as a separate dessert after it has solidified (cut into bars before serving).

Refrigerate; the haupia will become solid, similar in texture to Jello and other gelatin desserts.

Beijing

William got to go to Beijing for a work trip and I went along! Since it was November, it was very cold and it was also very dry (I needed lots of hand and face moisturizer). It would have been better to go in nicer weather, but the trip was still lots of fun.

We saw many of the main tourist sites–the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, and the Great Wall. But we loved the hutongs best–they are traditional residential alleys. They are lined with traditional courtyard residences, some of which people still live in, and some which have been converted into restaurants, businesses, and hotels.

The subways made getting around Beijing easy (and they were also very clean too!), though we also took some buses and some taxis (luckily William speaks Mandarin).

Hutongs

pic name pic name

Hutong Hotels (Courtyard 7, a hotel that we stayed at which is located in a renovated Hutong. It was really nice.)

Around Town

e8a28-dsc06358

Forbidden Palace

Summer Palace

798 Arts District

Lama Temple

Great Wall

pic name pic name

Food

pic name pic name
pic name pic name