Chinese Cucumber Appetizer (凉拌小黄瓜, 蒜香拍小黄瓜)

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INTRODUCTION

Not all blogged recipes need to be complicated.. Some recipes are very simple but new house chefs may not know how to prepare it and I am targeting  at this group of readers who are new to the kitchen..

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To me, this is a very familiar dish in the Chinese restaurant but I can’t recall whether it is overseas of Singaporean restaurants. It is an appetizer that most diners will like.  Preparation are very simple though restaurant charged you a premium for this small plate of appetizer..

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What you need is just some firm and fresh cucumber and there are many variations to the recipe. You can add peanut powder if you want, some even added chilli soya beans but what I am sharing is the very basic version of this dish using very simple ingredients .

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WHAT IS REQUIRED.

Servings: 3-4 adult servings

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  • 2-3 medium size Japanese cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of dark or white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 chilli , deseeded
  • 3 cloves of garlic

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Cut the chilli into small pieces. Chopped the garlic until as fine as possible and garlic paste is preferred if available. Set aside.

  • Wash the cucumber, cut 1-2 inches length. Cut open and take away all the centre soft pulp full of seeds. Use a big knife to bang on the cucumber until the cucumber break into smaller pieces. Transfer the cucumber to a plastic bag, add the chilli, garlic paste, sugar, salt and vinegar. Shake vigorously for 1 minutes  until well combined and transfer to the serving plate. Drizzle with sesame oil before serving and best served chilled and immediately after preparation.

Note:

  • This recipe used a bit of salt to maintain the crunchiness. Another alternative way is put more salt, rest for 30 seconds, immediately wash with cold water and proceed to the steps above.

  • For best absorption of flavour since we are not really marinate it for the sake of crunchiness,  garlic paste is advised instead of minced garlic.


CONCLUSION

This dish will be classified under simple house cooked dishes series and cooking restaurant dishes at home series .. The preparation looks simple but in my humble opinion, the taste is great. The cucumber are crunchy, a bit sour, sweet and spicy and most important of all, it will improve the diner’s appetite.

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

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For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 13 March 2015)  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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Chinese “Osmanthus” Eggs (桂花蛋)

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INTRODUCTION

Egg is one of the most common cooking ingredients but it is rather difficult to master it perfectly. It seems easy but without some pointers, it may be difficult to use the imagination to cook to what it looks likes in the restaurant dinner table..

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One of them is the Chinese style of scrambled egg called Osmanthus fried eggs. Don’t be misled by the term osmanthus.. No osmanthus flower were used in the preparation.. It was called as such because it resembles the tiny yellowish osmanthus. flower The scrambled egg is in tiny  yellow bits of the size slightly bigger than small bees. The authentic osmanthus fried eggs shall be the size of osmanthus flower, however, in restaurant, the size can be much bigger. Looking at the picture above, do the eggs look like smaller yellow flowers?

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One of the most common dishes for this type of fried eggs is in the Chinese cold dish or hot dish where it was stir fried together with shark fin and the name of the dish is 桂花翅 or literally translated “osmanthus shark fin”. It can be rather costly and is a presentable dish during Chinese new year dinner..Another less costly alternative is the use of crab meat and for household version, usually just glass noodles was used to substitute the real shark fin..

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My main purpose of this recipe is not to teach you how to cook shark fin but is to share with all how to make this style of Chinese scramble egg.  I have learned the technique when one of my Facebook friends Ms. Maggie Chan share her technique with member of Facebook Group and friends. I saw her video and immediately capture my attention.

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Soon after I saw her video, I headed over the kitchen and try it out. It worked beautifully and I shall say that it is one of the most beautiful Gui Hua eggs I have ever prepared. It does not stick together, it is moist and the round shape is very natural as compared to if you cut it using a knife.. Ms. Chan jokingly say that I am a “捣蛋鬼” or “trouble maker” because I have successful “捣蛋” or “scramble the eggs” .She joked over the action of preparing the eggs. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Maggie Chan for teaching me how to do this scrambled egg.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 3-4 adult servings

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Scrambled eggs

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of corn starch mix with 3 teaspoons of water
  • 3 tablespoons of cooking oil
  • Seasonings to taste

Others

  • 50 grams of glass noodles or shark fin
  • 50 grams of minced meat
  • 3-4 mushrooms, soaked and sliced thinly
  • 2 sprigs of spring onion or coriander
  • Some crab meat (optional)

Seasonings

  • Pinches of salt
  • Dashes of white paper
  • Sugar to taste

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Crack the eggs,  add 1 tablespoon of oil, the corn starch solution, and pinches of salt. Whisk until well combined.

  • Heat up a pot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, add the egg and do not stir it for about 1 minute。Once the sights slightly set, use a chopstick to scramble the eggs as fast as possible. Remember to scramble the part near the side. Cook for another 1 minute or until the eggs are slightly set. Off the heat and continue to scramble for another 1/2 minute. Set aside for later use.

Note:

  • The scrambling action has to be as fast as possible before the egg is set. Once the egg is set, you will have difficulty to break the eggs. The eggs shall not be over cooked. Over cooked eggs are hard and making the dish very dry.

  • Use a pot rather a frying pan to do the action. the pot of have tall walls that will facilitate the scrambling. Vigorous scrambling in a frying pan will send your eggs all over the place..

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  • Soak the glass noodles until soft. Cut the noodles 1-2 times and drained.

  • In a pot, put some cooking oil, add the minced meat and mushrooms, sauté until fragrant. If you wish, you can sauté with some minced garlic as well. Add the glass noodles and scramble eggs. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes until well mixed. Add seasonings  (salt, pepper, sugar to taste) of your choice before dishing up for serving.

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CONCLUSION

This recipe is  to be classified under simple house hold dishes series. Remember that this dish is famous to be stir fried with shark fin. What I am sharing is not the shark fin dish but how you can get tiny bits of scrambled eggs in a pot.  As for the shark fin dish, you can use the same concept and add in more ingredients like crab meat, carrot etc. to enhance the colour combination.  It will then ideal for your Chinese reunion dishes. Should i prepare such a dish, I will share with all..

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

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food bloggers[4]

Food paradize[8]

pinterest[4]

  • If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 2600 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD.

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Kangkong Belachan or Sambal Kangkong (马来风光)

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INTRODUCTION

If this set of pictures looks different from the one served in the restaurants and Chi Char (煮炒档)stores, there are two main reasons.. One is because of the preparation of the Kangkong or convolvulus for stir frying and another reason is much  less oils were used for the stir frying of this homemade dish.. Therefore, the dish look more watery than the store version which is very glossy and attractive.. However, I personally preferred to have some sauce to go with my rice..

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If it tastes very different, there are another two reasons.. One is the different seasoning being used. We don’t generally used MSG nowadays but different seasonings do provide different taste..I am especially sensitive to this “potent” childhood seasonings which I have restricted my usage due to the current health trends.

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Secondly is the heat used to stir frying these household dish.. The extremely high heat used in the preparation of dishes in restaurant do create a different in taste be it noodle dishes or other stir fry household dishes.

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Therefore, I hope readers do not tend to compare what is sold in the stores and what you have cooked at home.. Yes, this is a common dish that many household will cook but it taste different.. I humbly believed that no recipe in the net will provide you with the same taste and shall claim to be authentic . I have nothing to shout about this recipe, this is how my late mum used to cook and tastiness will depends your accumulated experiences  of stir frying as years went by.

As per Wikipedia:

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“Ipomoea aquatica is a semiaquatic, tropical plant grown as a vegetable for its tender shoots and leaves. It is found throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, although it is not known where it originated. This plant is known in English as water spinach,river spinach,water morning glory, water convolvulus, or by the more ambiguous names Chinese spinach, Chinese Watercress,Chinese convolvulus, swamp cabbage or kangkong in Southeast Asia.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipomoea_aquatica)

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As I have mentioned before, my set of pictures may look different because it is our family way of cleaning and cutting the stems as in the picture above. Since young, I learned from my mum the need to cut open the stems when stir frying kangkong. The rationale of cutting open the stems are to identify if there is any insects or worms hiding inside the hollow stems.. It may be laborious and that is one of the reasons that I did not like to prepare kangkong dishes. Having said that, is it not better be safe than sorry? Another reason is to maximize the recovery rate of the Kangkong. I knew some families threw away the stems but life is tough then…

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 3-4 adults

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  • 300 grams (about 1 packet) of kangkong or Chinese water spinach, clean and cut into small chunks
  • 2 large chillies
  • 3-4 cloves of garlics
  • 3-4 shallots
  • 1 tablespoon of shrimp paste or belachan
  • 2 tablespoons of dried shrimps (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Pound the chilli, shallots and garlics until the texture that you want . I personally prefer coarser texture. Add the belachan, continue to pound until well combined. (You can add some lemon grass if you like).

  • In a pan, sauté the pounded ingredients (rempah) with 2 tablespoons of cooking oil until fragrant. Add the cleaned kangkong, give a quick stir for 2-3 minutes until well mixed. If it is too dry, you can consider adding 1/8 cup of water. Add some prefer seasonings such as chicken stock powder or mushroom concentrate or sugar. Served immediately after being prepared as a side dish in a typical Chinese meal with white rice.

Note:

  • The quantities stated here are for reference and feel free to adjust to suit your taste buds. If you like chilli padi, feel free to substitute. Some families like to add in lots of dry shrimps but I did not add as none in my families appreciate the dried shrimps.

  • Both belachan and dried shrimps can be rather salty. Therefore, in this dish, do not add any salty condiments such as salt or soya sauce. If you want to add, you have to taste the dish first before adding such condiments.

  • If you are segregating the leaves and stem like me, you should stir fry the stems one minute earlier than the leaves..  Over cooked the leaves will make the dish less appealing, brownish and soft.

  • The basic recipe is here for new house chefs for reference.. Whether it is nice or not will depend on your experience of stir frying. But do not be deterred to give it a try.. Everyone will start from somewhere.. As usual, this dish cooked by my late mother and my mother in law will still taste much better than my own version even though we used the same ingredients。

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CONCLUSION

This is another dish catered for new house chefs who are looking for a recipe..  This type of household dishes will never have an authentic or detail recipes.. It shall be tailored to suit your family taste buds. I have still decided to share after seeing so many people ordering this dishes when we eat out..

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

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Flower Crab Tofu Soup (花蟹豆腐汤)

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INTRODUCTION

I am writing this post now in Johor Baru and I am having a short vacation in Malaysia.. While there are some free time, I searched for some simple recipe to share with all..

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I seldom cooked crabs at home since kids are still young and they still do not how to appreciate these type of shell crustaceans.. Since they are near 10 years old, I have decided it is time to introduce is this type of economy and softer shell crabs.. I bought 2 crabs at a very reasonable price of about S$10.00.

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As to how should these crabs be cooked, as I still cannot cook something that is very spicy like chilli crabs..the first thing that came into my mind is to “boil” into soup.. As the crabs are very fresh, they were not fishy and it was a very sweet soup… In order to further enhance the soup sweetness, I have added some fish stock that I prepared from fish head and fish bones.. However if you do not have any fish stock, you can always add chicken stocks or other seasonings that you are used to..

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As per Wikipedia:

“Portunus pelagicus, also known as the flower crab, blue crab, blue swimmer crab, blue manna crab or sand crab, and alimasag in Tagalog, is a large crab found in the intertidal estuaries of the Indian and Pacific Oceans (Asian coasts) and the Middle-Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The name “flower crab” is used in east Asian countries while the latter names are used in Australia. The crabs are widely distributed in eastern Africa, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Australia, Persian Gulf and New Zealand. The males are bright blue in colour with white spots and with characteristically long chelipeds, while the females have a duller green/brown, with a more rounded carapace. The carapace can be up to 20 centimetres (7.9 in) wide.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portunus_pelagicus)

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For readers who understand Mandarin:

“兰花蟹含有丰富的蛋白质、微量元素等,对身体有很好的滋补作用。蟹,自古就有“四味”之说。“大腿肉”,肉质丝短纤细,味同干贝;“小腿肉”,丝长细嫩,美如银鱼;“蟹身肉”,洁白晶莹,胜似白鱼。花蟹含有大量人体必需的蛋白质、脂肪、磷脂、维生素等营养素,营养丰富。功效性味:咸、寒、有小毒。养筋益气、理胃消食、散诸热、通经络、解结散血,对于淤血黄疸、腰腿酸痛和风湿性关节炎等有一定的食疗效果。(Source: http://baike.baidu.com/view/296575.htm)”

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 4-5 adult servings

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  • 2 flower crabs
  • 1 box of tofu
  • 5 cm of ginger, sliced into big pieces
  • 2 sprigs of coriander leaves, cut into big chunks
  • 2 sprigs of spring onion, cut into big chunks
  • 3 tablespoons of Chinese cooking wines
  • 1 litre of fish stock or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
  • Dashes of white pepper
  • Pinches of salt

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Pluck the shell of the crab, take away the gills, rinse the shell and set aside.  Cut into big pieces (usually into half or 4 pieces). Crack the legs using some thing hard like a pastel. Set aside.

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  • In a pot, put 2 tablespoons of cooking oil, sauté the ginger and spring onion chunks until fragrant. Add the crab, stir fry for 1-2 minutes until well combined. Add the fish or chicken stock, bring to boil. Add the tofu, Chinese cooking wine, dashes of white pepper and pinches of salt. Let it simmer for about 5-6 minutes. Garnish with coriander before serving..Best served hot immediately after the preparation.

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Notes:

  • To take out tofu nicely from the box, invert the box, cut 4 small holes at the 4 corners of the box, your tofu can be easily taken out from the box…

  • Overcooked crab will make the meat tough and shrink..

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CONCLUSION

This belong to the Simple Household Dishes Series that aims to help new house chefs who may not know how to cook this type crabs.. Do give it a try and let me know if this suit your family’s taste buds.

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

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