Xiao long bao

Do you ever think about how your food is made when you eat out? Sometimes I do, but sometimes I just eat (devour) and enjoy what is being served. Dumplings are one of those items I just eat. I have had different dumplings since I was little and never really given them more thought, even when I make the ones I know. It becomes a routine. This changed a little while ago, when I watched a TV program about a place in Taiwan that was famous for their Xiao long bao, broth filled dumplings. I have eaten them before, but never thought about the complexity of their making untill it was explained on TV.

These broth and meat filled dumplings, these are time-consuming to make, there are no easy shortcuts if you want good results. Yes, you can use store-bought wonton or gyoza wrappers, but it will not be the same. But if you would like to give it a go, here is a recipe, just make sure you put aside a couple of days for this. What I mean is that this is not something you can make in the spur of the moment, there are some waiting time. The first day you have to mix the dough for the wrappers and make the jelly broth or aspic for the filling. It is this jelly that will turn back into a lovely broth when the dumplings are steamed. Soup that bursts out of the dumplings as you bite into them.

This recipe makes about 60 dumplings.

Aspic, jelly soup

Did I mention that there are no shortcuts, sorry I did cheat a bit. I used  gelatine, to make the aspic rather than cooking bone and pork rind to make jelly. Okay, I did cheat  a lot.

2 liters of water
1/2 pound pork belly or fatty cut of pork
1 inch piece of peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
2 stalks spring onions, coarsely chopped
2 large garlic cloves smashed with side of your knife
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
6 sheets unflavored gelatin, (you can use agar agar, but I do not know how much to use, besides the agar agar acts a bit different)
salt and pepper to taste.


400 grams all-purpose flour
3/4 cups boiling hot water
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon cooking oil


400 grams ground pork
200 grams shrimp shelled, deveined and minced finely
3 stalks green onion finely chopped
1 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon  salt
1/4 teaspoon  pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

FOR THE ASPIC (soup gelatin)
  1. In a medium-sized pot, place all of the ingredients except the gelatin/agar agar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes uncovered. You can remove the impurity at this point or wait and strain when it is finished. I usually wait until the end.  I strain the broth by using a fine meshed strainer with two layers of clean cloth like a folded tea towel.

  2. Pour the broth into a clean pot and let it simmer until it is reduced to about half a liter.

  3. Turn heat off and stir in the pr-soaked sheets of gelatin or agar agar(follow the instruction on the packet). Whisk until it is dissolved. Pour broth into a dish. Refrigerate until set, about 3-4 hours.

  4. When the gelatin is set, use a fork to criss-cross the gelatin to break into very small, 1/4″ pieces. Alternatively, you can carefully cut into small cubes.

  1. In a large bowl, combine and mix all of the ingredients, including the aspic. Stir to incorporate it evenly throughout the filling. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  1. Put about 90% of the flour in a large bowl. Pour about a third of the hot water in the flour. Use a wooden spoon and stir vigorously. Add more and  more of the hot water while stirring. Keep stirring vigorously until the dough begins to form. Then add the cold water and oil. Keep stirring vigorously. Stop when you can’t stir anymore.

  2. Dust counter with the remainder of the flour. Place dough on the floured  surface, and use your hands to knead the dough for 8 -10 minutes, until it becomes soft,,smooth and bounces back slowly when poked with your finger, it should feel like fresh play doh

  3. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Take one piece (cover the remaining 3 pieces with plastic wrap) and roll it into a long sausage, about 1″ diameter. Cut dough into 15 pieces. Work one piece of dough at a time, keep the remaining covered with plastic wrap.

  5. Roll a piece of the dough between your palms to get a nice, round, smooth ball. Using a rolling-pin, roll it out flat to about 4″ round circle.

    You may need more flour as you are rolling the dough, keep the counter dusted and a small pile of flour nearby for easy access.

  6. Fill with 1 tablespoon of filling, pinch and pleat all the way around. and give the top a twist. Repeat with the rest until you have made all the dumplings. Make sure that you cover any dough that you aren’t currently using and cover the dumplings with a towel to prevent drying.

    MiniMes production of dumplings, for a 10-year-old I think she did a good job..
  1. Place the dumplings on pieces of lettuce leaves in a bamboo steamer, leaving 1 1/2″ space between each dumpling. Steam for about 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your dough. Serve them hot in the bamboo steamer.

For dipping sauce scroll down.

MiniMe even colored some with food coloring
2-3 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup black vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Fresh finely chopped chili to your liking
  1. Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl with the ginger. Serve it with Xiao Long Bao dumplings

Filipino food the next new trend?

What do you know about Filipino food, I believe it is the forgotten little sibling of the South East Asian cuisine. The reputation it has now, you might say that it is more of a distant cousin. Many have tried it, but they just know it is Filipino.

Pancit canton, click on the picture for the recipe

The palate of Filipino cuisine is entirely its own, relying on acids and sweetness perhaps more than any other cuisine. It in this cuisine that flavors don’t blend together so much as sit atop one another, lifting each up into an addictive symphony of tangy, salty, sweet and sometimes bitter. The dishes range from very simple food to complex meals.  Dishes like fried salted dried fish or crispy anchovies, crispy golden slices of spam sandwiched between white bread with fried egg to lechón, kaldereta, kare kare, puchero,  pinakbet sinigang, and many more. Our cuisine is as diverse as there are ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines, and are closely related to the Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine. You might say it is the original fusion. The Filipino cooking style has evolved from their pre colonial dishes to a mixed of flavours from Spain, India, China, Japan, America and the Pacific Islands.

Analiza Gonzales, Kare kare, Fiipino, Ox tail, Peanut, Beef and peanut stew
Kare-kare, beef and peanut stew. Click on the picture for the recipe

Renown chefs like  Andrew Zimmerman and the late Anthony Bourdain has booth predicted that Filipino cuisine is going to be the next new trend.  Actually they said it to be the next American food trend. No matter, when it is popular there, the rest of the world is soon to follow.

Bourdain believes Filipino food is “underrated,” “ascendant” and a “work in progress.” He said that western palates are ready for it: “I think certain Filipino dishes are more likely to take root and take hold more quickly than others,” he told CNN.

He pointed out that Filipinos “were able to assimilate and Americanize very easily and very quickly.”

“I think Filipinos embraced America and were embraced by America in a way that other cultures might not have been,” said Bourdain. “I think Filipinos in America maybe underrated their own food. They used to be mocked for balut.

Kaldereta, Spanish inspired dish. Click on the picture for the recipe

I did not grow up in America, but in Norway, and I think Bourdain is right, we assimilate and learn the new culture quickly. I have not seen or heard of a Filipino town yet, but we do group together at party’s and other happy events. I think he also is right about underrating our own food, and until lately I have, but it is not because of the balut.  And yes, some of the dishes will easily take root than others. Kare kare is one of them in my mind.

Our food is so similar to the rest of Asia, but yet different. One might say that the different cuisines have been Filipinized the way the different cuisines from around the world has been adjusted to the palates of the people of the country it has been introduced to. I have eaten gyros in California, Norway, Germany, Greece, Hong kong and South Korea, there have been slight differences but the one that was far from the others was the one in South Korea. And no, I have not tried gyros in the Philippines.

Chicken bbq, marinade made with banana ketchup, Click on the picture for the recipe

Bourdain believes Filipino food is “underrated,” “ascendant” and a “work in progress.” He said that western palates are ready for it: “I think certain Filipino dishes are more likely to take root and take hold more quickly than others,” he told CNN.

He particularly likes sisig, which is made from the snout, jowl, ear and tongue of a pig, which he believes will lead the charge in Filipino cuisine’s rising international recognition.

“I think sisig is perfectly positioned to win the hearts and minds of the world as a whole,” he said, adding that he thinks the dish is “casual, accessible, exactly what you need after a few beers.

“I think it’s the most likely to convince people abroad who have had no exposure to Filipino food to maybe look further and investigate further beyond sisig. I think that’s the one that’s gonna hook them.”

I personally belive that Filipino cuisine has already won the hearts of many, as I wrote earlier, they just do not know it is Filipino.

Lecon Cebuano, Lecho, Pork, Filipino, filipinsk
Lechon Cebuano, click on the picture for the recipe

Filipino cuisine is pork heavy, but a natural abundance of seafood and tropical fruit has given rise to dishes that are light without being bland. We often use pineapple in our marinades and mango is often eaten as a side dish with bagoong, an umami-rich fermented krill condiment native to the Philippines. Or tilapia sinigang, a delicate soup for which whitefish is poached in sour tamarind broth alongside fresh greens like water spinach and bok choy.

Sinigang, Filipino, Filipinsk, Tamarind. Salmon
Sinigang, tamarind based soup. Click on the picture to get the recipe

Do you know of any Filipino dishes or have you tried any?

I have a few favorites, Sinigang is one of them wich is similar to Malayan Singgang Serai. Sinigang is also one of my childrens favorites. In Norwgian we used to call it(I still do) “got a suppe” When my oldest son was about two he could not say “Det var en god suppe”. He was trying to tell me that the soup was yummy. The sinigang in the picture above has been norwgianized, I have used salmon.

As in many Asian countries, Filipino food is also free of dairy or gluten, making it suitable for a many diets and health regimens. The reliance on vinegar as a condiment renders Western sauces full of sodium and fat redundant. This in itself should be seen as a welcome addition to any table.


Mung bean strew. Click on the picture for the recipe

Filipino meals are traditionally eaten family style, allowing the cuisine to slide seamlessly into the trend of sharing plates and communal dining. At a fiesta in the Philippines you would often see meals decked on banana leaves covering the whole table, and we eat with a fork and spoon or with our hands.

Tosilog, tocino, sinagag(garlic fried rice) and Itlog(egg). Clik on the picture to get to the recipe.

Writing this I can not say that Norway have many Filipino restaurants to boost of. I have been to one in Oslo, but sad to say it will just be that one visit. I might be just picky or maybe it was their quality of cooking and menu, too many other Asian dishes. Having said this there are a lot of successful Filipino chefs and restauranteurs in Norway. Chefs and restaurants that get great revues, but none cook or serve Filipino food, only at home.

Filipino mussel soup. Click on the picture for the recipe

Last Filipino independence day celebration in Oslo there was one stand serving really nice barbequed beef, but unfortunately open to the public this one day or through catering. The people behind this stand have started up a bakery that makes Filipino buns and breads, Bread’n butter So far it is made to order, but this coming fall they will open a shop in Oslo. I will get back to this later.

Champorado, rice porridge with chocolate, came about after trade with Mexico. Click on the picture for the recipe.

Looking at the different pictures I have posted, many of you might say “I have tried that”. Did you know they were Filipino? As I have written earlier they are similar to Asian cuisine, but yet different.

I hope I have caught your curiosity and would like to try more Filipino food. If you click HERE you will find the rest of my Filipino recipes

Palitaw, sticky rice treat with coconut and sugar, click on the picture for the recipe



Ardbeg Grooves

Say hello to Ardbeg Grooves. The most GROOVY that has happened since 1969 comes from the small village of Ardbeg on the Scottish island of Islay. This year’s limited edition is a celebration of the hippie era of the 60’s.

An homage to the 60’s and the hippies they say, hmmm. I try to imagine a Scottish hippie as I take a sip, but in my head I keep hearing Austin Powers saying “groovy baby”, while getting a mental picture of his crooked smile. The character is neither Scottish or hippie, but he does represent the psychedelic 60’s. I shake my head to get rid of this image, he is to funky and playful. Swirling the whiskey in my glass close to my face I smell leather and pine with a hint of smoke and ocean spray another image pops up in my mind, Jamie Fraser from the TV series Outlander, Laird James MacKenzie Fraser, Imagine him with flowers in his hair…, colorful pants and unbuttoned leather vest…. Yeah, that would be groovy baby.

The combination of malted barley, pure water from its own water source, and a huge dedication and passion has resulted in an exciting and intense whiskey.

For this 2018 limited edition, Ardbeg has experimented with an unusual type of oak barrels. Unlike most other whiskeys stored in old bourbon casks, Ardbeg Grooves has been stored in double-burned oak casks with which wine has been added. The result is a more smokey, intense and a groovy experience.

This Ardbeg has an intense aroma of smoked cinnamon and paprika, leather, pine, with a hint of bonfire and ocean spray. There are also small hints of lavender, white pepper and fresh flowers mixed with coriander and mint.

When you taste it you get a heavy mouthfeel with salted toffee, vanilla popcorn, salted fruits with a touch of smoked meat and seaweed, and also smoked apples and pears..

Very OsloPhoto: Haakon Hoseth@

At the press release I went to they served a few drinks with Ardbeg and this was one of my favorites.

Peated Whiskey Sour

4 cl Ardbeg An Oa
4 cl lemon
2 cl sugar
2 dasher angostura
1.5 cl egg white

Reverse dry shakes, double traces and server in a cool coupette glass.

Cool a coupette glass.
Pour all the ingredients in a shaker.
Shake the ingredients with ice.
Remove the ice, and shake again.
Double trains over the cooled coupette glass.