Chinese Chilli Chicken aka Lazijiding (辣子鸡丁)

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INTRODUCTION

This is an unique recipe.. This recipe is not suitable for your family if your family cannot take spicy food. It is also not suitable if you are having dinner in a rush…However,  I called this dish a “family bonding” dish.. a dish that you need to spend time together to have the meal and it should not be a fast dinner..

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This is a famous recipe in China and not my invention. This is also different from the infamous  gongbao chicken 宫保鸡丁 where there are nuts in it.  It is a Szechuan cuisine where most of its cuisines are famous for the spiciness.. In Szechuan, it is especially important to eat spicy food to “drive away” moisture in the body since Szechuan is located in a basin whereby the weather is very misty.

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The uniqueness of the dish is that the chilli used is almost the same quantity as the meat and the diced meat were buried in the dried chilli.. The meat are tasty and the diner will have to pick out the meats from pool of dried chillies. Diners usually take their sweet time to dine in the restaurant and is ideal for those who are entertaining clients or friends where they eat this as snack together will Chinese wine and bear.

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I first tried this dish about 20 years ago when I visited Chongqing in China.. I can remember this dish well because of the above mentioned unique characteristics.. I remembered my lips were almost swollen after finishing the entire bowl… Ha-ha . However, the taste really linger in my mouth and whenever I saw this dish being served in the restaurant, I will have the urge to order the dish.  Since my kids were only holiday 2 weeks ago, I have decided to prepare this dish for our dinner.

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“Chicken with chillies (辣子鸡, pinyin: Là Zǐ Jī; literally “Spicy chicken”) is a well-known Sichuan-style Chinese dish. It consists of marinated, deep-fried pieces of chicken that are then stir-fried with garlic, ginger, and chilli peppers. The chicken and chillies are served together and diners use chopsticks to pick out the pieces of chicken, leaving the chillies in the bowl. Chicken with chillies originated near Geleshan Park in Chongqing” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_with_chilies)

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 4-6 adults

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  • 400 grams of chicken drumsticks , deboned and diced into about 2 cm cubes
  • 30 grams of dried chilli, cut into about 2 cm in length
  • 2 stalks of Chinese leeks, cut into small pieces
  • 2 sprigs of Spring onion, cut into big chunks
  • 3 cm of ginger, sliced into thick pieces
  • 1 teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorn (hua jiao)
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds (optional)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlics (sliced)

Chicken marinating

  • 1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 tablespoon of dark soya sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of white pepper

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Marinate the chicken using the above chicken marinating ingredients (Chinese cooking wine, dark soya sauce, white pepper, sugar) for at least one hour. Drain the chicken into a bowl. Keep all the marinating ingredients for later use. Otherwise, you will have to re-prepare the sauce ingredients again using the same recipe.

  • Heat up about 2 cups of hot oil in a wok, when the oil is about 70% hot, stir fry the chicken for about 4-5 minutes or until the chicken exterior turn whitish. The timing will very much depends on the size of your chicken cubes. Do not overcook the chicken as the chicken will continue to cook in the next step. Drain the chicken.

Note:

  • Because this is chicken drumstick meat, I did not marinate with egg white or corn flour. If you are using chicken breast, you may need to put some egg whites and corn flour together with the marinating. That will prevent the meat from over cooked and become too hard.

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  • Use the same oil to stir fry the chilli until crispy. In this step, reduce the heat to low. The most it will take is only 1-2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  • Pour away the excess oil and leave about 1-2 tablespoons of oil in the wok. Add the Sichuan peppercorns, ginger, garlic, Chinese leek and spring onion. Sauté until fragrant, add the chilli and the chicken cubes and give it a quick stir. Add in the marinating juices earlier and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until the juice dries up. Dish up and sprinkle with tossed sesame seeds before serving. Best served as a side dish in a standard Chinese meal.

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CONCLUSION

Don’t be frightened by the spiciness. Of course, for home cooked, house chefs can control the amount of chilli used. If you want to have a fast meal and less spicy, do not cut the chilli like what I did, use the whole chilli and you will have less chilli and more meat..It is also easier for you to pick the chilli away.  For me, I enjoy this meal with my wife when my kids were not at home.. It took me about 45 minutes to finish our dinner, chatting and picking the meat from the pool of chillies.. Do give it a try for this famous Chinese cuisines..

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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Bitter Gourd Braised Meat (苦瓜酿肉)

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INTRODUCTION

This is a simple household recipe and I believed most households will have their unique recipes. My wife likes this very much and my niece always offered to prepare for me when she is in Singapore…

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I grew up eating this.. Nothing to shout about and it is not a tedious assignment. If not because of the illustration, I will not prepare it this way.. When I was young, we prepared this and cook it as soup , just this a pot of water, boiled into some simple yet delicious soup.

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However, for picture taking purposes, it will definitely not looking good. The bitter gourd will look very mushy and colour will be unattractive. Since vegetable mixed rice store always have this dish and usually served with fermented black beans (豆豉), i have therefore decided to prepare the same way also.

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There are too much variations in this recipe and please tailor to suit your family taste buds. The same method of preparation can also be used for another vegetable: luffa. As for the meat, you can add salted fish, or even water chestnuts to give some crunch bite. If you like crunchier bitter gourd, you can braise or steam shorter. If you like it mushy, you will need a much longer time. The only challenge is not to let the meat slipped out of the bitter gourd. 

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 1 medium to big size bitter gourd
  • 500 grams of minced meat
  • 1 tablespoon of corn starch
  • 2 cm long of ginger
  • 5 shitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon of winter vegetable (optional)
  • Dashes of white pepper
  • PInches of salt
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of light soya sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped spring onion

Braising Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon fermented black bean (豆豉)
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • Dashes of white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic

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STEPS OF PREPARARATION

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  • Pound the ginger to extract the juice. Add it to the minced meat. Add all the other ingredients into the minced meat. Stir until well mixed. Let it marinate for about 1 hour. You can also consider to add salted fish and water chestnuts. But you will have to adjust the seasoning accordingly.

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  • Cut the bitter gourd into your desired height (Suggest about 3-4 cm height).. Either use the finger or a knife to scratch out the centre. If you do not like bitterness, try to get rid the white membrane as much as possible. The bitterness actually comes from this white membrane. Blanch in a pot of hot water with pinches of salt for about 5 minutes. The main purpose of this step can be omitted if you like bitterness. Put some meat into the cavity and make sure that the meat covered the holes by at least 1/2 cm. This is to prevent the meat slipped out the bitter gourd.  Steam the bitter gourd in a steamer for about 10-15 minutes or until the shape is firmed before proceed to the next step.

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  • In another pot, put 1 tablespoon of oil, sauté the minced garlic until fragrant. Add 1 cup of water followed by the fermented black beans and oyster sauce. Put in the bitter gourd. Add adequate water just enough to cover the bitter gourd. Bring to boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the bitter gourd reach the desired texture. Adjust the sauce with additional seasonings, salt and etc. if required. For more flavourful bitter gourd, let it rest in the pot for at least 2-3 hours before serving. Best serve as a dish in a typical Chinese set meal.

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CONCLUSION

This post belong to simple household dishes aimed to assist new house chefs who do not have a chance to learn this traditional dish at home. Variations are many, The concept have been shared and please feel free to add or minus the ingredients to suit your family taste buds. Remember, if you do not like it to be bitter, clear away the white membrane as much as possible and blanch longer in hot water. In the event your have minced meat left, you can just deep fried it and add together to the bitter gourd and braise together.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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Salted Fish/Mei Cai Steamed Meat (咸鱼/梅菜蒸肉饼)

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INTRODUCTION

This is a rather classical type of Cantonese household dishes though it was also sold in classy restaurant.. Most Chinese granny will know how to prepare this dish that goes well with porridge or white rice. In this recipe, I had used both  mei cai and salted fish. However, you can choose either one or both.

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I do not have a picture of mei cai that I used to show you. But it can be either be salty or sweet type of mei cai and both of which, you can easily get it in wet market. Whatever type being used, you will need to soak the mei cai for at least 1/2 hours, get rid of the excess salt or sugar used for the preservation and add back seasoning. The main purpose of this preserved vegetable is to provide some unique flavour to the dish.

 

Source of picture: http://baike.baidu.com/view/1275980.htm

As per Wikipedia:

“Meigan cai (mei-kan tsai; simplified Chinese: 梅干菜; traditional Chinese: 霉乾菜; pinyin: méigān cài; Wade–Giles: mei2-kan1 ts’ai4; literally: “molded dried vegetable”; or mei cai (mei tsai; simplified Chinese: 梅菜; traditional Chinese: 霉菜; pinyin: méi cài; Wade–Giles:mei2 ts’ai4) is a type of dry pickled Chinese mustard of the Hakka people from Huizhou, Guangdong province, China. Meigan cai is also used in the cuisine of Shaoxing (绍兴), Zhejiang province, China. The pickle consists of a whole head of various varieties of Chinese mustards and cabbages (芥菜、油菜、白菜) that has undergone an elaborate process consisting of drying, steaming, and salting. The vegetables are harvested, trimmed before the Qingming Festival, and sun-dried until limp. It is then salted or brined, kneaded until the juices are exuded, and left to ferment in large clay urns for 15 to 20 days. The vegetable is then repeatedly steamed and dried until reddish brown in colour and highly fragrant. This pickled vegetable is used to flavor stewed dishes, in particular Meigan cai cooked with meat (梅菜扣肉/梅干菜烧肉)) or for Meigancaibaozi (梅菜菜包). Meigan cai was formerly a tribute item to the imperial palace in the Qing Dynasty.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meigan_cai)

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Another important ingredient of this recipe is salted fish and you can easily get it from the market. Salted fish can either be the softer, easily breakable moister type or the hard and dry type of salted fish. The first type (mei xiang) is preferred but the hard and dry type (shi rou) can also be steamed before it is used.

“Cantonese Salted Fish (simplified Chinese: 广东咸鱼; traditional Chinese: 廣東鹹魚; piyin: Guǎngdōngxiányú; also known as “Salted-fish, Chinese style”) is a traditional Chinesefood originated from the Guangdong province. It is a fish preserved or cured with salt, and a staple diet in Southern China. It historically earned the nickname of the “poor man’s food”, as its extreme saltiness way is useful in adding variety to the simpler rice-based dinners. More recently it has become a popular cuisine in its own right. Cantonese salted fishes can be divided into two styles: méi xiāng (梅香) and shí ròu(實肉). For méi xiāng (梅香) salted fish, fishes with thicker bodies like jiaoyu (鮫魚)、mayau (馬友)are preferred. It takes 7–8 days for méi xiāng (梅香) salted fish to ferment, then season with salt and dry in the sun. And they are usually chopped tiny and used as a topping.Furthermore, shí ròu(實肉) salted fish do not need fermentation, they are prepared by seasoning followed by direct drying by the sun. Fishes with thinner bodies such as Ilisha elongata (鰽白) are usually used to prepare shí ròu(實肉) salted fish. Unlike méi xiāng (梅香) salted fish, they can be served directly by frying or steaming. “ (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantonese_salted_fish)

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Preparation of this dish is very easy at home. However, to be as soft as what the restaurant is selling will very much depends on the type of meat you used and starches are needed to smoothen the meat. Pardon me to say, soothing sand smooth steamed minced meat in the eating outlets are  actually prepared from higher fat content pork belly minced meat. In order to further smoothen the texture, corn starch is used and additional oil may be needed.

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For this illustration, I have torn down significantly the mei cai and salted fish used because of my kids. However, it was properly adjusted in the ingredients list. You can used either mei cai or salted fish for the recipes. If you want to use both of these, your quantity of each of these two will have to be reduced by at least half.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Servings: 3-4 adult servings

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  • 300 grams of minced meat (pork belly preferred)
  • 30 grams of salted fish  (50 grams if mei cai is not used)
  • 50 grams of mei cai , soaked (100 grams if salted fish is not used)
  • 2 tablespoons of corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 tablespoon of minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of light soya sauce
  • Pinches of salt (remember salted fish will flavour the dish)
  • Dashes of white pepper

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Lightly grease a plate suitable for steaming and get ready a pot of water suitable for steaming at least 15 minutes.

  • Put all the ingredients into a food processor. Blend until well mixed and as sticky as possible.  Transfer the minced meat into the greased plate. Press until firm and level it. Steamed under high heat for about 7-10 minutes or when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

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Note

  • If you do not have a food processor, you can use hand to manually mixed the ingredients.

  • Water chestnuts can be used to improve the texture of the minced meat.

  • Timing of steaming will depends on how thick is your minced meat. For 7-10 minutes, it is about 2-3 cm thick.

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CONCLUSION

There is no such a need to have both mei cai and salted fish. You can just used either one. Remember that if you want smooth and soothing steamed minced pork, pork belly will have to be used.  Do give it a try and let me know if this suits your taste buds.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have an nice day.

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Cantonese Soya Sauce Chicken (粤式豉油鸡, 酱油鸡)

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INTRODUCTION

Soya sauce chicken is a rather classic Cantonese meat dish.. The chicken was braised in some watery soya sauce such that it is brownish in colour  and the texture of the meat is the same as poached chicken which is juicy and flavourful.

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It was commonly sold as soya sauce chicken rice or soya sauce wanton noodles  in the the stores.

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I do love this soya sauce chicken because it is slightly on the sweeter side. I have prepared this many times and I can recall I learned how to prepare this soya sauce chicken from a television show donkey years back.

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Recently, when I was in the Smith Street Chinatown Hawker Centre, Singapore, I bought a soya sauce chicken at about S$12.00 and that reminded me that I have not prepared this for many years. However, I still prefer my homemade version which is not as salty as what I bought..

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Well this is a simple recipe and chances of succeed are great. The chicken in this illustration is actually a griller, a very small chicken of less than one kilogram. I am slightly disappointed as the colour is not as dark as what I wanted it to be.. Well, if readers wanted a darker colour, you can use more soya sauce in the recipe provided.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 5-6 Adult Servings

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  • 1 medium size chicken
  • 1-1.5 cups of dark soya sauce or caramelized dark soya sauce
  • 1-1.5 cups of Chinese cooking wine preferably Rose cooking wine (玫瑰露酒)
  • 2-3 medium size of rock sugar
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • 4 cm of ginger cut into big slices
  • Few sprig of spring onion
  • 1-2 Anise seeds – optional
  • 1-2 cloves – optional
  • 1 small cinnamon stick – optional
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • Adequate water to at least half cover the chicken.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Heat up a pot with 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Add cloves, anise seeds, cinnamon stick, garlic and ginger. Sauté until fragrant.. Transfer all the spices and herbs in a soup bag, put the spring onion in the soup bag too. Add in adequate water to cover at least 1/4 of the chicken. Add the dark soya sauce/caramelized soya sauce, rock sugar and cooking wine. Bring to boil.

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  • Once it boils, submerge the chicken when the breast facing down. Adjust the water until it reaches at least 1/2 of the chicken. If you wish, you can adjust the colour of the solution by adding more soya sauce. Turn the heat to medium to low, let it simmer for at least 15 minutes. Turn the chicken around, add one tablespoon of sesame oil and let it simmer for another 15 minutes. Once done, turn back the chicken with breast facing down for another 5-10 minutes. Test the doneness of the chicken by poking at the part with the thickest meat (suggested: drumstick) and ensure no blood water secreted. If done, transfer out and let it cool completely before cutting.

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The above picture is from another illustration using a chicken of about 2 kg.

Note:

  • Selection of pot – Pot must be big enough to house a whole chicken. It should not be overly big also as you will need a lot of solution to braise the chicken.

  • Soup bag is optional. The main purpose is to ensure that the cooked herbs do not disintegrate and dirty the braised solution. It facilitates the removal of these herbs later.

  • The quantity of water and soya sauce very much depends on the size of your pot and chicken. You will need to exercise discretion to add a bit more or less of suggested water and soya sauce.

  • Timing of braising also depend on size of your chicken. The timing is for the small chicken with about 1kg.

  • If you want to preserve the skin, once out from the pot, you can dip the chicken to some icy cold water to prevent the skin from breaking.

  • If you have a lot of sauce left, you can keep it for your next braising. You will need to add additional seasoning and water to cover new chicken.

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CONCLUSION

This is a simple recipe and do give it a try. Remember this recipe is very flexible and depend on size of your chicken. Remember to watch out for the timing and amount of soya sauce used. Practically, all type of soya sauce is acceptable but less is needed if caramelized dark soya sauce were used.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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Chinese Style Steamed Minced Meat With Eggs (肉饼蒸蛋)

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INTRODUCTION

This is an extension on the steamed egg post.. Nothing much to write except to share a recipe on my home style of steamed minced meat.

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If you are interested in reading the Chinese style steamed egg, you can refer to: Chinese Steamed Eggs (水蒸蛋)

When one steams minced meat, since minced meats are not cooked and have air trapped inside, therefore, the outcome of the steamed eggs  is rather unpredictable.

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At time, uneven surfaces are noted because trapped oxygen escaped thus causing the holes on top of the egg surface.

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So to ensure a smooth top steamed egg, I usually steamed the minced meat for about 5 minutes and continue to add the beaten eggs, those my steamed minced meat is smooth looking.

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This post is sharing a concept rather than a recipe. Variations are many and it depends on what you like in the minced meat. For this illustration, since I have century egg and salted egg with me, I have prepared tri-colour steamed eggs to go with some sweet potatoes porridge..

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 3-4 adult servings

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Meat Portion

  • 300 grams of minced meat
  • 1 salted egg
  • 1 century egg
  • 1 teaspoon of winter vegetables
  • few sprig of spring onion or Chinese celery
  • Dashes of white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • Sugar to taste
  • Pinches of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of corn flour

Egg portion

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of cooked lukewarm water

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Chopped the minced meat with winter vegetable, Chinese celery, dashes of white pepper, sesame oil, corn starch, pinches of salt and sugar until your desired fineness.  Shelled the salted eggs and century egg. Cut into big chunks and stir into the minced meat. Transfer the minced meat to a lightly greased steaming plate. Steam the minced meat under high heat for about 5 minutes.

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  • Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the lukewarm cooked water. Sift and set aside. After about 5 minutes, sift the beaten eggs on top of the steamed meat and continue to steam under medium heat for about 5-10 minutes or until the egg is set. Cover the plate with a clingy wrap to prevent water condensation dropping into the meat.

Note.

  • Timing of steaming is very much depending on the thickness of your meat and how wide is your steaming plate. The wider and the thinner is your minced meat, the faster will be the steaming period.

  • As my egg is too full for the plate, In this illustration, I did not put a clingy wrap on top during steaming. In addition, I have steamed at high heat. It seems that this aggressive measure is possible for this recipe. However, it is advisable that you steam the minced meat with a cover and under medium heat.

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CONCLUSION

Remember, every household’s steamed meat has its own concoction of sauces and spices. This is a guideline and suit my family’s taste buds. You can always adjust the recipe to suit your family’s taste buds.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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Teriyaki Chicken (照り焼きチキン,日式照烧鸡肉)

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INTRODUCTION

I have said many times that when I frequented Japanese restaurants, I have less choices to order because I only eat cooked food… Besides Katsudon, karaage, the next most common dish is teriyaki chicken..Teriyaki chicken is extremely easy to prepare especially with the ready made teriyaki marinate that can be commonly found in Singapore and Malaysia supermarket.

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I loves anything that goes with teriyaki sauce.. It is slightly sweet and the glossiness of the cooked meat make the dish so delish looking.. Not only I liked this, my kids also loved this much which is expected since its flavour combinations is very much like Chinese cuisines..

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In fact, teriyaki sauce ingredients are Japanese rice wine (mirin), Japanese light soya sauce and some brown sugar. All these were common cooking ingredients in Chinese recipes..

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“Teriyaki (kanji: き; hiragana: てりやき) is a cooking technique used in Japanese cuisine in which foods are broiled or grilled with a glaze of soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.[It also refers to a type of sauce put on meat in America which uses neither soy sauce, mirin, nor sugar.The word teriyaki derives from the noun teri (照り?), which refers to a shine or luster given by the sugar content in the tare (タレ?), and yaki (焼き?), which refers to the cooking method of grilling or broiling. Traditionally the meat is dipped in or brushed with sauce several times during cooking. The tare (タレ?) is traditionally made by mixing and heating soy sauce, sake, or mirin; and sugar or honey. The sauce is boiled and reduced to the desired thickness, then used to marinate meat which is then grilled or broiled. Sometimes ginger is added and the final dish may be garnished with spring onions.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teriyaki)

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In this recipe, what I am sharing is the recipe without the use of ready made teriyaki sauce. It is a very simple marinating and for cooking, instead of grilling in the oven, I have opted to use the pan fry method..Though some of the ingredients listed are Japanese cooking ingredients such as sake and mirin and Japanese light soya sauce, you can always use Chinese cooking wine or light soya sauce and the taste will not be very far off.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Recipe adapted from: Chicken Teriyaki Recipe (Pan-fried) – No Recipes

Servings : About 4-5 adult servings

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  • 500 grams of deboned chicken
  • 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of Japanese light soya sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of Mirin or Japanese rice wine.
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of minced ginger (optional)

Sauce

  • Marinate from the above meat
  • 2 tablespoons of Japanese light soya sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of maltose or honey
  • 1 tablespoon of Mirin or Sake

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Clean and marinate the chicken with light brown sugar, Japanese soya sauce and Japanese rice wine (mirin) in a plastic bag. Let it marinate for at least 1 hour. If you want, you can add some minced ginger and garlic to the marinate to enhance the flavour.

  • In a frying pan, put 1-2 tablespoons of oil, pan fry the marinated chicken under medium heat for at least 5-10 minutes on each side or until the chicken is cooked. The timing will very much depends on the thickness of the chicken meat. To test the readiness, use a tooth pick to poke the thickest part of the meat, if it is cooked, the meat will be very easy to be pierced through and there will be no blood water coming out. Dish up the meat and set aside.

  • In a bowl, stir maltose or honey, Japanese light soya sauce, mirin and the chicken marinate left from marinating the chicken (as captured in the plastic bag)  until well combined. Add to the frying pan. Bring to boil until the sauce thickens or  until the consistency that you are looking for. The consistency shall be thick and glossy. In this process, you will witness colour changes  from light to dark and the boiling bubbles will gradually turn from small bubbles to big bubbles.

  • Cut the chicken and drizzle with the sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.

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CONCLUSION

This is a very simple recipe that you can easily prepare at home.. If you do not have all the specialized Japanese cooking ingredients, you can use Chinese cooking wine, and soya sauce. The taste will not be extremely far off. Of course, to make it authentic, Japanese cooking ingredients are still preferred.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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Radish Stewed Duck (白萝卜焖鸭)

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INTRODUCTION

I am unsure this dish belongs to which dialect group but my wife’s auntie who is a Hakka used to cook this. She loved this duck and radish combo..

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I never have a chance to taste this until we get married at her aunties house. Surprisingly it is quite a nice combo. Radishes are used possibly because radishes can withstand long cooking hours.

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Accordingly to traditional Chinese medicine, both duck and radishes have cooling purposes to the body. In addition, both aids in digestion too.  In mainland China, it is a rather popular soup or stewed dishes that was served during the autumn..

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What I am sharing is what my wife loves to eat and resembles the one that her aunties used to cook. It is a stewed version rather than the soup version that are more common in the internet.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: About 4-6 adult servings

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  • Half a duck of about 1 kg (cut into big chunk)
  • One radish of at least 300 grams (cut into big pieces (about 1 inches cube)
  • About 4 cm long ginger (cut in big pieces)
  • 10 cloves of garlics (wash but with skin membrane on)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons of dark soya sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of light soya sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • Pinches of salt

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Blanch the duck in some hot boiling water for about 5 minutes or until the exterior has firmed up. Transfer the blanched duck to a pressure cooker. Add in all the ingredients and adequate water just to cover the duck. (Note that the duck and carrot when cooked will emit some  juices too). Pressure cook under “meat function” until the meat is soft. If the meat is not soft and tender enough, you can pressure cooked for another 1/2 cycle. Let it rest in the pressure cooker for at least 1/2 hour for the meat to be more flavourful.

  • Best served hot as a standard side dish in a typical Chinese meal.

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Notes

  • If you want it to be more fragrant, in a frying pan, add in 2-3 tablespoons of oil, sauté the ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick and star anises until aromatic. Add the blanch duck and stir fry until the fragrance are well incorporated in the duck. Transfer the duck to the  pressure cooker, add adequate water and seasonings, pressure cook until the meat is soft and tender. The advantage of this approach is that it is more aromatic but it will be more greasy.

  • If you do not have pressure cooker which is the fastest, alternatives are over the stove, slow cooker or even rice cooker soup function. You will have to monitor your cooking time and the end result shall be soft and tender duck meat.

  • If you do not like duck, you can use the same method to stew these radishes with beef or pork ribs. Chicken can be considered also though the timing will be much faster.

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CONCLUSION

This is a rather presentable dish and can be served if you have a house guest. If you have never try this dish before, you will be surprised how well duck cooked with radishes. Of course if you do not like duck, you can always used other meats.. Do give it a try and let me know if it suits your taste buds.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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Sweet And Sour Pork Strips (糖醋里脊)

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INTRODUCTION

First of all, i have to apologize that I have used the wrong title for all the images. It should be “sweet and sour loin strips” rather than “sweet and sour tenderloin strips”.However, you can either use loin or tenderloin stripes for this recipe though tenderloin give you a slightly softer texture than loin meat.

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I have the habit to stuff my freezer and chiller full for the Chinese New Year.. It is also some Chinese beliefs that having all these foods in the fridge will mean you have food to eat whole year round. So usually, I will have items from meat, to  seafood to cakes to vegetables to fruits and etc..

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While I was buying the meat for the fridge, I have accidentally bought a piece of pork loin.. Very frankly, I have never bought this type of meat before . In fact, I am very new to cooking this type of rather tough meat… I have no choice but to goggle for a recipe and I found a recipe that I liked, that is sweet and sour loin strips..

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I knew this is a rather famous dish and I read through several recipes and come out with the following recipe.. As expected, kids loved this as it is sweet and sour and the meat is not as tough as what I thought…

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For those who know Mandarin, as per Chinese encyclopaedia , Bai Ke, it was written that : 糖醋里脊是经典汉族名菜之一。在浙江菜、鲁菜、川菜、粤菜和淮菜里都有此菜,以鲁菜的糖醋里脊最负盛名。糖醋里脊以猪里脊肉为主材,配以面粉,淀粉,醋等作料,酸甜可口,让人食欲大开。

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: Adult servings of 3-4

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Marinating ingredients

  • 250 grams of pork loin or sirloin strips (里脊肉条)
  • 2 cm ginger – pounded and juice extracted (姜汁)
  • 4 tablespoons of corn starch (生粉)
  • 1 egg white (蛋清)
  • 1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine (料酒)
  • Dashes of white pepper (胡椒粉)
  • Pinches of salt (盐巴)

Sweet and sour sauce

  • 8 tablespoons of plain water (清水)
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato sauce (番茄酱)
  • 4 tablespoons of white vinegar or black vinegar (白醋或黑醋)
  • 4 tablespoons of white sugar (白糖)
  • 1 tablespoons of corn starch (生粉)
  • 2 tablespoon of cooking oil (食用油)
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic (蒜蓉)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Cut the pork loin or tenderloin into about 1 cm x 1 cm x 4 cm long or your preferred sizes. Sizes shall not be overly small as when it is too small, the loin will become tough when it is over cooked.  Marinate the pork loin with all the ingredients listed as “marinating ingredients” for at least 15 minutes.

  • In a pot with adequate oil, when the oil is about 60% hot (150 degree Celsius) put the pork strips in the hot oil and deep fry for 2-3 minutes. Darin and set aside. When the oil reached about 70% hot (175 degree Celsius), deep fried again the pot stripes again for another 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside.  It  is ok if the internal is not cooked as the remaining heat will continue to heat the meat after it was drained. Overcooked meat will become hard and chewy. (note: if this twice deep frying is too difficult for you, you can start the deep frying at about 80% hot and continue to deep fried until the external is lightly golden brown. The main purpose of deep frying twice is to make the batter crispier but it need practises. You can also substitute 1 tablespoon of corn starch with rice flour and it will help the batter crispier)

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  • Meanwhile, put the tomato sauce, vinegar, sugar, water and starch in a bowl, stir until sugar dissolved.  In a frying pan, put 2 tablespoons of hot oil, sauté the minced garlic until fragrant. Pour the  starch solution onto the pan and stir fry until it almost thicken. Off the heat and add the pork strips. Stir until well mixed.. Dish up, sprinkle with white sesame seeds and best served hot as a dish in a standard Chinese meal.

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CONCLUSION

I believed most kids will like this dish.. If you do not like this pork, you can always used chicken, or even fish stripes. I have also ever seen the hawker centre used French fries to substitute for the meat.  The same recipe can also be used for pork ribs or pork cubes. Just remember that the ratio of the classic sweet and sour sauce are : water 2: sugar 1: tomato sauce 1: vinegar 1.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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(updated as at 26 November 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts. Also follow me at INSTAGRAM or TSU, a new social network for some more personal sharing other than recipes.

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Zhao An (Chawan) Smoked Chicken (诏安熏鸡)

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INTRODUCTION

i may or may not have shared with readers about my dialect group.. I belong to a Chinese dialect group called Chawan or Zhao An (诏安)。 Zhao An is a town situated in the Province of Fujian border and next to Chaozhou (潮州) and Santou (汕头)that situated at the border of Guandong Province, People’s republic of China. Dialect and culture wise, I honestly believed that has resemblances of half Hokkien and half Teochew…Most of the dishes that we had are very much influenced by the Chaozhou cuisines. However, there is one rather authentic and unique dish that Zhao An has is the sugar cane  smoked chicken.

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Most Sarawakian Zhao An will know of this dish.. It was always featured in the annual Kuching Festivals… As to why only Zhao An dialect group prepared this dish and not other dialects group is still a mystery to me.. I am rather puzzled that why our close associates like Teochew and Hakka did not have such a dish..

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I need not to search for any recipe for this special smoked chicken. I grew up with them. During my childhood days and in major festivals such as Chinese New Year Eve, Ching Ming or Ghost Festivals, my families will slaughter 5-6 chickens, 2-3 ducks and lots of pork belly for praying.. As most families did not have any refrigerator in the 1970s, after praying, one of the ways of preserving large quantities of meat is to smoke these meats. After praying and dinner, those  poached chicken that were not consumed during the day were marinated with sugar, dark soya sauce and white pepper. It was then smoked until the desired colour and flavour .. After smoking, these smoked meat were left in an airy place and can kept for 3-4 days without the need of re-heating..

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Smoked chicken is not uncommon in China. In fact, most provinces do have their ways of smoking the chicken  but the uniqueness of Zhao An smoked chicken is that it is sweet and juicy and the smoking time is rather short as compared to other recipes. Sugar cane (if available) or otherwise white sugar were used to generate the smokes for the smoking process. These was different from other recipes that uses tea leaves or rice grains. Hence the smoked chicken is glossy, slightly sweet on the skin and a rather faint smoky flavour. Of course you can smoke longer to get the strong smoky aroma if you prefer that.

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Traditionally, sugar cane was used in the smoking but in most cases it was not used especially when it was not readily available. Instead, white sugar was used instead. I can’t claim that this recipe is authentic but it is my family recipe that we have been using all these years.. It is in fact a very straight forward and easy recipe but yields great taste..

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I have been hesitating of preparing these smoke chickens in my Singapore home as traditionally, a wok have to be set aside purely for the purpose of smoking the chicken. I am not willing to invest in having a wok purely for this purpose but most of my brothers’ families in Kuching do have such wok. Today, I have decided to simplify the method and see if it works.. Yes, it worked and it did not dirty much of my utensils. Of course, i have smoke the chicken with full precaution with the hope that it will not dirty my wok or pot and rendered it became unusable for other purposes…

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • One small to medium size chicken, cleaned.
  • 1-2 tablespoons of dark soya sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons of castor sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of white pepper

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Get ready a pot of water and bring to boil.  When the water is boiling , submerge the whole chicken into the water with its back facing up.  The reason letting the chicken having its back facing up is because chicken breast takes longer time to cook  and positioning chicken this way will ensure that breast are fully cooked. Lower heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.(for medium sized chicken). Timing will depend on size of the chicken, the smaller the chicken, the shorter will be the timing.

  • Once the chicken is ready, transfer out and let it cool at room temperature. Meanwhile, mix all marinating agents (dark soya sauce, half of the sugar and white pepper) and set aside. Once the chicken is cooled, brush the marinating agent over the entire chicken and let it marinate for at least half an hour. If you are short of time, you can directly brush the marinating agent over the hot chicken.

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  • In a big pot or wok adequate to put the entire chicken, put a piece of aluminium foil or some aluminium plate in the centre, add the remaining half of the sugar. On the heat (high heat) until the sugar starts to melt and caramelize. Once the sugar starts to caramelize and smoke starts to come out, reduce the heat to low.  Put something on top of the aluminium plate to hold the chicken and place the marinated chicken on top. Close the lid and let it smokes for about 20-30 minutes (at 15 minutes junction, you can check if the smell is too strong for your liking).

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  • Once the chicken is done, off the heat and let it rest in the pot or wok for another 15 minutes to continue the smoking process. Open the lid and transfer out for cooling. Throw away aluminium plate that were full of burnt sugar.

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NOTE:

  • Smoking at such a short period is to provide flavour to the chicken. If you need it for real preservation purposes, you will need to smoke for at least 1-2 hour. The longer the smoking time, the more smoky flavour it will have but the chicken will also become less juicy. Over smoked chicken can also turn bitter . Low heat shall be used throughout. As long as the sugar is burnt and smoke generated, it is adequate. After smoking, the skin of the chicken shall be dry and glossy. If it is still wet, the smoking process need to be continued.

  • Make sure that the sugar crystals do not drop on any part of the wok or pot besides in the aluminium plate. Otherwise, you will have a hard time of cleaning the wok or pot. Should it happens, you may need to boil the pot with hot water and soak overnight before you can clean the burnt sugar.

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CONCLUSION

I have prepared this dish as a respect to my dialect (Zhao An) and my late mum. I missed this dish very much though my sister in law did prepare for me to enjoy while I was having holiday in Kuching. Even when my mum is around, such dish will not be prepared unless there are festivals.. I hope with this recipe, more readers of other dialect can try our delicacies. Trust me, this smoked chicken, unlike other recipe, have a rather subtle smoky taste.. It is sweet and juicy due to the ingredients and method of preparation. I believed most readers will be able to accept this humble dish of ours.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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Homemade Fish Balls (传统自制鱼丸)

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INTRODUCTION

When I was young, it is not common to have fish balls sold in the counter.. If you want to eat fish balls, families will have to prepare their own fish balls. Well, then recipe is very simple, just debone to get the meat, chop, slam and shape.. Nothing to shout about and most families will know how to make such fish balls.

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As time went by, stores started to sell fish balls. For those wet market version that sells fresh fish balls, they are preparing it on the spot by dropping the fish paste into a pot of hot water manually and it is consider as done when the fish balls floated up. The texture is not much different from the one prepared at home. But supermarket sold another type of fish balls that are very bouncy and springy and I am prejudiced to term it as “ping pong fish balls” ..

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I have never liked these supermarket fish balls since it was introduced to the market .. It is overly springy, some are rather fishy and some are very salty.. However, I do miss the homemade fish balls that are slightly firmer, not as springy as the “ping pong” fish balls. If you can’t imagine the texture, it resembles sotong balls or prawn balls or even meat balls commonly sold in the supermarket.. If one can accept squid or prawn balls, I am sure he or she can accept the texture of these homemade fish balls..

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Fish balls recipes are very simple but one of the challenges of making the fish balls is to make a bouncy fish ball. Some said to slam the fish balls for a long time, some said adding baking soda, lye water (alkaline water) while others have resorted the use of tapioca starch or sweet potatoes starch; some frozen the fish meat while some uses egg white to smoothen the fish balls.  Whatever method used, what I can assure is that homemade fish balls will never have the same texture as the factory produce fish balls. If readers are looking for the texture of commercial sold fish balls, this recipe may not be suitable for you.

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I am pleased with this batch of fish balls. It is firm and springy. It;s sweetness is derived purely from the fish itself. Not much starches were added and hence a fish ball is equivalent to a mouthful of fish meat..As for the shaping, my hand is no machine and hence size is not regular and shape is not actually round. I am sure readers will know what I mean after trying out the recipe as we are dealing with some sticky paste of fish meat.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: Prepared about 40 fish balls depends on sizes

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  • 1 kilogram of deboned and de-skinned fish meat
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon of white pepper
  • 50 grams of corn starch or tapioca flour or sweet potatoes starch
  • 250 grams of icy cold water
  • 2-4 egg whites (optional and not included in this illustrations)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • If you do not have a food processor, use the back of a knife and chop the fish meat until as fine as possible. You can also put the fish meat in a food processor, blend until as fine as possible. The fish meat will gradually become stickier and stickier. Add in half of the ice cold water gradually,  the corn starch, white pepper, salt and egg white (optional), beat until well combined into a sticky paste. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

  • Use a pair of chopstick and stir in an unilateral direction for at least 15 minutes. In this process, gradually add in the other half of the water. As you stir, you will see the fish paste become smoother and smoother and become glossier. Alternatively, shape the fish paste in a big ball, slam the fish paste onto a bowl or chopping board for at least 50 times. This will also force the air out in the fish paste and making it a springier fish ball. You can opt to perform either one or just chose a combination of both. The bottom line is the fish paste become smooth and shinny. In this illustration, I have used the chopstick method for about 15 minutes and I just slammed a few times to force the air out before proceeding to the next step.

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  • To cook the fish ball, have a pot of hot boiling water. Wet your hand with some water, have some fish paste in your hand, squeeze out and use a tablespoon to scope out the portion being squeeze out. Drop it into the hot boiling water, once the fish balls float up, it is considered as cooked.

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Note:

  • Choosing the fish – Most elders will know that Ikan Parang (西刀鱼 or wolf herring) is ideal as it is tasty and produce a more bouncy fish balls. However, there are a lot of small bones and pounding or blending will need to be much longer. Other common types of fish are Ikan Tenggiri Batang and Ikan Tenggiri Papan (马交 or Spanish Mackerel). These fish are less fishy, less fine bones, no scales with lots of fleshes). In fact any fish can also be used but it will produce different fish balls of different texture and fishiness.

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CONCLUSION

Every recipe will tell you almost the same type of ingredients for fish balls. It is just fish, water, some seasonings and some starches (which are optional).. What is important for bouncy fish balls is the slamming or constant stirring of the fish paste. However, the springiness can never be compared to the commercially sold fish balls. As far as I am concerned, I can always forgo such sponginess as I knew exactly what are the ingredients used to make the fish balls.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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