Kombucha, the fizzy fermented tea beverage, has been around for a long time but is now becoming more and more trendy. Groceries are now dedicating an entire cold beverage shelving just for these drinks. I did my own googling about the health benefits of this beverage and agree that there are not a lot of good evidence that it is good for you. Old articles in fact talk about cases of illnesses connected to kombucha consumption (consume in moderation, people!).
I personally got interested in it after my dear sister gave me a fermentation cook book, in which this was one of the recipes. It involves transforming an ordinary tea into a carbonated tangy drink through the action of a SCOBY (a biofilm of bacteria and yeast). It sounded like a science project so I was super excited to give it a try! We went to the grocery store to sample some kombucha and get some inspiration and bought the kit to make it. I was also motivated by the fact that the store bought ones had a low carb content. It really makes me wonder why restaurants don't offer this instead of just diet coke/pepsi as the low calorie option...
So far, I've tried different kinds of teas: decaf ginger, hoji-cha, pomegranate tea, strawberry tea, rooibos, chrysanthemum, twinings herbal variety. The only ones that tasted good was the fruit flavored ones, while the rest was weird. I would then infuse the "weird" ones with something else to improve the taste, like basil leaves, blackberries or strawberries overnight in the fridge after separating some from the scoby. I was admittedly scared about trying to make it bubbly because I've read a lot of bottle explosions incidents but finally, I tried it since its the only thing I feel like I haven't tried yet.
The fizz definitely makes this more enjoyable to drink. I just kept an eye on the swing-top bottle and off-gassed a day after adding fruit puree, and then two days and three to see how fast the gas was building up. It took about four days for significant bubbles to build up which could be seen in the bottle (left image). It was really satisfying to pour it into a glass and see that I've created a fizzy beverage!
It's been about six months since the original, rectangular scoby above. I've multiplied the original into three multi-layer scobies. I've read about some people's concerns about this as a "wild" ferment, meaning you don't know what bacterias or yeast are going into your beverage. You definitely have to keep an eye on your culture to make sure that nothing new or hairy is growing on it and that it smells the same. I haven't seen anything suspicious so far yet.
Would I recommend making your own kombucha at home? I think it's not for everybody. But I would definitely recommend that restaurants it on their menu!
Anyone looking for an alternative to panko bread crumbs for breading? I'm using ground pork rinds or chicharron in this recipe to make low carb fried chicken tenders. I thought of this back when my coworkers and I decided to do an 'abs contest'. Whoever can show ab muscles within 3 months wins. So I took it pretty seriously and went on a low carb diet along with p90 x and ab ripper x... Anyway, the best things that came out of it were experimental recipes like this one.
- 1 bag pork rinds (preferrably the kind that are just skin, no 'meat')
- 10 pcs chicken tenders
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup ground parmesan cheese
- ground black pepper
- frying oil, prefferably peanut oil
Grind the pork rinds, either with food processor or smashing it in the bag with a rolling pin. You want to retain some texture to it instead of pulverizing into powder.
Combine the egg and parmesan cheese. Coat the chicken with it and then coat with the pork rinds, pressing it to the chicken to make it stick.
Meanwhile, preheat the oil to 350 degrees F if you have a thermometer. When the oil is hot enough, deep fry away! It takes 5-7 mins to cook each pc., 2-3 pcs at a time to make sure the oil doesn't cool too much. I just watch the thermometer go back up in temp in order to gauge the done-ness of the chicken.
For dipping sauce, I like to use honey mustard (you can find sugar free maple syrup to substitute for the honey).
Ever since going to Dumpling Time, I was inspired to find out how to make baos (or siopao in the Philippines). Their steamed dumpling is the softest I've ever had. So I googled how to make super soft baos but did not find a straight forward answer. Maybe I'm the only one who's not satisfied with what I've made in the past? If anyone has seen a focused article about bao softness, please let me know! This is the other reason why I thought about posting about this. Most people are saying that the flour must be low protein, since gluten in the dough causes it to be elastic or something like that. In the end, I was able to make a recipe that I'm satisfied with.
First, I tried to find a low protein flour (or dumpling flour). I found this Vietnamese dumpling flour mix and modified the recipe. It's nice because it comes with yeast and already has baking powder in the mix. I found that most recipes used milk, oil and baking soda. So I added these to my recipe 😁
- 1 package of bao mix (400 g) (ignore the package instructions)
- 220 g of warm milk
- 30 grams vegetable oil
- 1 tsp baking soda
Take the yeast package out and mix it with the milk. After 5 mins, add it to the flour along with the rest of the ingredients. Put in a stand mixer fitted with a dough attachment and knead on low speed for 7 mins. The dough will feel very sticky at this point and not tough. Cover dough in plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 2 hrs somewhere warm. I placed it on top of our stove while I was slow cooking the pork filling.
- pork shoulder cubes 1 lb
- 1 tbsp veg oil
- Chinese five spice 1 tsp
- few slices of ginger
- 2 garlic cloves smashed
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
Brown the pork in veg oil, add the rest of the ingredients and put in a 325 degrees F oven and bake for 1.5 hrs. Shred the pork using forks. Remove and set aside any of the braising liquid to prevent the bao from becoming soggy from too much sauce. Let the filling cool down.
I prepare the steamer so that it's ready by the time I assembled the bao. After letting the dough rise, I floured it to keep it from sticking everywhere and divided it into 8 equal sized balls. I flattened the ball into a disk and filled them with the cooled pork filling, about 2 tbsp, and close it up into a ball. I put them on a square parchment paper to keep them from sticking to the steamer. Steam them for 20 mins. Serve with the reserved sauce.
I think the secret is having all the leavening agents in the recipe: yeast, baking soda and baking powder. Also, allowing the dough to rise for as long as it takes seem to also be important. I hope this article was helpful to someone out there. Peace out!