What I Cooked Today Series (Special Post)- 2013 Mid Autumn Festival

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INTRODUCTION

I have not forgotten about this series –  “What I Cooked Today Series”! I have discontinued for a while because I am a vegetarian and the dishes were usually cooked by my mother in law who is visiting me. Therefore, I can’t claim the credit of the dishes cooked if I posted it.

Well this series will be starting soon in one two weeks time after end of my vegetarian diet. This year, I have calculated wrongly about the starting date of my diet, therefore, I am having slightly more than 2 months of vegetarian diet and it was pointed out by my neighbour when I keep on rejecting her meat dishes. She asked curiously why the diet is so long this year, she said it cannot be ! I asked my wife to recalculate again and yes, we are wrong as both of us are not that concern about anniversary dates.

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Yesterday is the Mid Autumn Festival, one of the very big festivals for the Chinese worldwide. Even People’s Republic of China’s government have declared this day as a holiday in recent years. Usually, in big festivals, family gathering and get together is very important.

I only confirmed to invite my nephew’s family for dinner yesterday morning and I told them that I would only cooked what I have at home. As they are my very close relatives, I need not really concerned about what I should cooked as he have been staying with me for the past few years. I did not have the time to plan for the meal as I have to take care of the kids and I have to rush out my report for Eight Treasure Porridge.

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I only started cooking at 4.00 pm in the afternoon. I looked at the fridge, I have some tofu, one pumpkin, one luffa, some chicken fillets, some asparaguses, minced meats, chicken thighs, drumsticks and fish fillets.

What influenced my dish menu last night was what I perceived what my family members like to have. I know anything soft and silky will be welcomed by them, so tofu and pumpkins would be good choices.

While the family always have bitter gourd with minced meat, but luffa with minced meat is something new to them. In addition, my kids loved luffa so luffa with minced meat was in the menu.

Preparing these two dishes had resulted some mesh pumpkins, minced meat and tofu left, therefore, I have decided to turn these 3 ingredients into  a dish.


PORK STUFFED LUFFA (丝瓜酿肉碎)

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This is a dish adapted from pork stuffed bitter gourd (苦瓜酿肉碎). The luffa was first de-skinned, and cut into 2 cm chunks. Make a hole in the centre and set aside. Minced pork were marinated for about 10 minutes with sesame oil, corn flour, light soya sauce, flavour enhancers, sugar, pepper, chopped coriander leaves and chopped winter vegetables. Stuff the minced pork into the hole of the luffa chunks, placed it in a serving plate nicely and put a goof berry on top of minced meat for garnishing. Before steaming, put some water in the plate of the meat stuffed luffa. (A bit of water is important as it will speed up the process of cooking the luffa. The luffa will be “water bathed” causing it easier to get cooked). Steamed for about 20 minutes or until your luffa is soft.  More juices will be secreted out and these gravy was very tasty as it was essentially a meat and vegetable broth.  You can put some corn starch to thicken this juices if desirable.

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TOFUS SAIL IN PUMPKIN SEA (豆腐金瓜海)

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I have to admit that I do not know how to name this dish. Since it looks like a seas of mashed pumpkins, I  named this as “tofu sail pumpkin seas”. Firstly, I cut opened a pumpkin, de-seeded and steamed the pumpkin until the pumpkin was soft. I then scratched out the pumpkin flesh, put some sesame oils, salt, mushroom concentrate, mixed well and let the mashed pumpkin to cool.

Two packets of tofu’s were cut into 8 pieces and arrange in a serving plate. I used a teaspoon to make a hole on the tofu, put some mashed pumpkins to cover the hole. Use the remaining pumpkin to put beside the tofu and steamed for about 10 minutes. Surprisingly, the tofu and pumpkins really blends well.

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MINCED PORK FRIED WITH MASHED PUMPKINS AND TOFUS (山寨蟹粉豆腐)

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From the above two dishes, I have some mashed pumpkin left , some tofu left (from making a hole in the tofu cubes), some minced meat left (as I have prepared one package of minced meat for the luffa dish, therefore, I still have about half of the minced meat left). With these 3 ingredients, I have decided to mash the tofu and fried these 3 ingredients together.

I first stir fried some spring onion (white part) in a frying pan of hot oil until aromatic, followed by the minced meat and once the meat was 50% cooked, add the mesh pumpkin and mesh tofu. Stir fried for another 2-3 minutes, add white pepper, sugar, light soya sauce and salt and it become a rather presentable dish..like the famous Shanghai dish, “Tofu With Hairy Crab Roe”. Therefore I have named this dish in Mandarin the “Fake Tofu With Hairy Crab Roe”.

The dish was very tasty and smooth, it is well liked by the kids because of the aromatic spring onions.  I have placed the cooked dish in the empty shell of the pumpkin for serving.

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BLANCHED ASPARAGUS WITH CHICKEN FILLETS (芦笋鸡柳)

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This is really an easy dish.

Asparagus were de-skinned (depends on whether it is too mature or not) and cut into same length. Chicken fillet were first cut into the desired sizes, marinated with sesame oil, pepper and light soya sauce for about 10 minutes,

Have a pot of boiling hot water, drizzle a few drops of cooking oil and pinches of salt. Get ready a serving plate and put some oyster sauce on the plate.  Blanched the asparagus in the hot boiling water for 3 minutes and dip in icy cold cooked water.

Place these asparagus neatly in the serving plate on top of the oyster sauce. Coated the chicken fillet with some corn flours and blanched the chicken fillets in the hot boiling water for about 5 minutes. Scoop out and placed on top of the blanched asparagus. Sprinkled some fried shallots on top of the chicken and the dish was done.

This was definitely an easy and healthier dish as it involved no frying like the traditional method. Though I did not taste the asparagus but I can tell you that it was sweet as all the juices were being sealed inside the asparagus via blanching method of cooking.

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CENTURY EGGS WITH PICKLED GINGER (皮蛋酸姜)

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This dish was usually treated an appetizer in Chinese full course dinners and did not really need any preparation. As I have quite a lot of pickled ginger left from my demonstration in Guaishushu’s Page, therefore, I have decided to prepare this dish as an appetizer. You may want to learn about how to prepare the pickled gingers HERE.


POMELO (柚子/文旦)

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When I was young, we did not celebrate Moon Cake Festivals with pomelo.

However, in recent years, it seemed that it is very common that pomelo became one of the festival fruit  during the  Moon Cake Festivals. I checked the internet, pomelo have the syllables as “have kids” (有子)in Mandarin, therefore, having pomelo means that it will bring you luck in conceiving a kid. Well, definitely not for me.

It is my usual way to de-skin my pomelo like what is in the picture to make it easier for my kids to eat. Therefore, all my kids loves to eat pomelo as they do not need to peel the internal white membranes separating the lobes in the fruit. They have been pampered, Unlike me, I never like to eat pomelo when I was young because of the difficulty to peel of the internal white membranes.


GREEN DATES (甜枣)

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This is nothing to do with this festival. I just spotted in the supermarket a few days ago and I really love these green dates. I always called it mini apples. In my humble opinion, it taste like apples and is a one bite size. I am able to finish one box within a day. I don’t know but I do believe it is a very healthy snack, much healthy than any carbohydrates and sugar loaded snacks. Yesterday, it was served together with pomelo after dinner.


MOONCAKES (月饼)

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I have a few boxes of moon cakes and I have decided to  serve a durian moon cake that my nephew gave me from the international “Three” Seasons Hotel.  However, I am rather disappointed with the moon cakes. Put in bluntly, it is just pure durian flesh wrapped in snow skin. When you eat the moon cakes, it is very soft and just like when one is eating fresh durian (though it don’t taste that fresh any more after so many days).

It was definitely not cheap and my nephew told me even after discount, one small moon cake cost SGD 12. I honestly believed that should I received the moon cake earlier, I will be able to replicate the moon cake  .. and how much is one durian is this season? May be 3 durians for SGD 10?  Well the one below is equally disappointing as they have incorporate orange flavour in the lotus seeds fillings.

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Lastly, I hoped that you like my cooking adventures today and unlike previous festivals, I have cooked something very simple. In other festivals, majority were meat dishes and I managed to locate an old picture in my Facebook to share with you. This was taken by one of my nieces in 2012 to celebrate Chap Goh Me (元宵)during Chinese New Year.

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Have a nice day and cheers.

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What I “Ate” Today (家常便饭系列)…. 17 August 2013- Special

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You may be surprised about this title! In fact, the title is not correct either. What I am going to post is not “what I cooked today” or “what I ate today”. It was a gathering at one of my relative’s house and she had cooked some Chinese dishes that are not common among Fujian or Guangdong Province.

My relative is from Jiangxi Province and therefore the food that she cooked were rather different! As you all know, Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese are descendants of immigrants mainly from the South Eastern Coastal Fujian and Guangdong Province.


JIANGXI CUISINES

Per Wikipedia:

Jiangxi (Chinese: 江西; pinyin: Jiāngxī; Wade–Giles: Chiang-hsi; Postal map spelling: Kiangsi, Gan: Kongsi) is a province in the People’s Republic of China, located in the southeast of the country. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south and east, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to the northwest. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiangxi)

As compared to Nanyang Chinese (Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese), in a household meal, they are more dishes but with a smaller portion. For us, we will usually serve 3 dishes and 1 soup, for them the dishes can be as many as 6-12 dishes. Today, the host is kind enough to cook us 7 dishes (excluding desserts and sweet soups). Jiangxi dishes were rather spicy (chilli hot) and as my kids were having meals with us, for some dishes, they have to prepare both the spicy and non spicy version.

Note than I am currently on a vegetarian  diet and since I did not told them in advance, I have taken my meals before joining them.  Therefore, I did not join them for meals.


SPICY AND SOUR SHREDDED POTATOES (酸辣土豆丝)

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Yes, this is my favourite. Potatoes were julienned into thin strips. There were then soaked in cold water until all the starch were gone. This will make the potatoes “crunchy” and water have to be changed regularly. Look at the thin strips, these were all manually done. They were then stir fried with spring onions, black vinegars and chilli. This is something that I have yet to share the cooking illustrations with readers but I can assure you it is something simple yet the taste is superb. Kids are fighting for this.


BRAISED BEEF (酱牛肉)

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I do not know if there is any translation of this dish. It is basically beef braised in dark soya sauce (and herbs and spices). It was then air dried. If it was kiln dried, it will become smoked beef. This is a form of meat preservation that can be commonly found in many parts of China. My relatives have prepared these meat in China and brought it over.

I still remembered  when I was stationed in Changchun, China about 10 years ago, one of the past time is to buy some braised chicken drumsticks and ate it in the hotel. It is delicious and thinking about it make me drooling. Depending on the regions, the preservations can be sugar based or salt based.


TOMATOES FRIED WITH EGGS (番茄炒蛋)

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A common household dish in China. Besides stir frying, another way of cooking this combination is making it into a soup.

Tomato is not a common vegetable in my  traditional house cooking. Tomatoes are considered vegetables imported from other countries (though this may not be true any more). This is evidenced in its Chinese name literately translated as Western Persimmon (西红柿)or Foreign brinjal (番茄)。In Hokkien dialects, it was called Caucasian Brinjal (angmokio)!  Therefore, my mom seldom cooked tomatoes in the house.

As my girl is a tomato fanatic, this will definitely her top choice. However, as my boy is tomato phobia, this is definitely a good dish to make my boy eating tomato.  Though he is a tomato phobia but he is an egg fanatic. I usually requested that if he wanted to eat 2 tablespoons of eggs, he will need to finish 1 tablespoon of tomatoes. Haha


STEAMED CHINESE SAUSAGE WITH CHINESE BLACK FERMENTED BEANS (腊肠蒸豆豉)

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The Chinese sausages were prepared by my relatives in China and brought it over. You can hardly find any fats in the Chinese sausages. Before I am on my vegetarian diet, I have tried the sausages before and it is delicious.

The Chinese sausages were cut into slices, steamed with Chinese black fermented beans and chopped garlics. May be after my vegetarian diets end, I shall cook this. Good thing about having this post is that it can remind me of what I should cooked when I run out of ideas.


PIGTAILS PORK BELLIES SOUP (猪尾猪肚汤)

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I never have this combination before, pork bellies plus pigtails. The reason is because both meats have different cooking times. You know pork bellies are rather difficult to cook until soft. So, it is not easy to cook this soup. Even if you used pressure cooker, both items will have to be cooked separately. There is no vegetables or white peppers. It is pure meat broth!

If you ask me whether it is yummy or not, of course, I can’t tell you directly because I did not taste it. However, from my years of cooking experience, I can tell you that it is a good soup because the soup had turn milky meaning all the gelatine from the meat have been dissolved in the soup/broth.

Don’t believe me, freeze it and you will see that it become jellish and you can use a knife to cut it into small pieces. Teochew dialect group also have a dish that after braising certain meat for a long time, they cut the meat into very small pieces, freeze the broth and become a jelly. The jelly was then cut into small pieces and served as cold dish (猪头粽)


STIR FRIED CHINESE WATER CRESS (清炒西洋菜)

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I remembered when I told my mother in law and wife to stir fry water cress previously, they are against it as they always used water cress to cook soup. It is generally true that most Chinese dialect groups like to boil soup with this vegetable. However, when I travelled to China, I always have stir fried water cress in restaurants. Usually, this vegetable were stir fried using garlic without any other ingredients.

Try and tell me whether it is nice or not! Remember that you have to stir fry the vegetables using high heat, otherwise, it may be bitter.


STEAMED KUDZU FLOUR COATED PORK WITH PUMPKIN (南瓜米粉肉)

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When I asked for the name of the dish, I was told  “namguamifenrou”. However, I can’t find any rice vermicelli or Beehoon. Later she explained the 米粉 is not rice vermicelli, it means “rice flour”. Though the name is called rice flour, the coating of the meat can be any types of flour. It can be corn flour, sweet potato flour, potato flour and etc.…But today the flour that she used is kudzu flour (葛根粉). Again this is brought from Jiangxi and she disclosed that this was made from wild kudzu roots.

Kudzu has many health benefits and among them are relief symptoms of postmenopausal women, reducing alcohol intake, alleviating cluster headaches, managed metabolic syndromes etc. etc. etc. In Singapore, we do have a type of Chinese instant flu medicine called Kudzu soup (葛根汤) that you consumed when you have a fever and it is believed that it will help to reduce your body temperature. You may want to know more about kudzu from here.

Coming back to the dish. Meat were seasoned and coated with kudzu flour. The meat was then placed on top of the pumpkins and steamed under high heat until the pumpkins were soft. The purpose of the flour is to retain the meat juiciness in the process of steaming. Any meat juices that escaped will dripped into the pumpkins those flavoured the pumpkins.

Lastly, I want to convey my sincere thanks to my relatives who cooked us a sumptuous meal and we really appreciate that.

Hope you like the post today and I find this post is meaningful to share with readers about other different types of Chinese cuisines.

Have a nice day and cheers.

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 11-8-2013

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On 7 August 2013, white rice served with :

1.      Braised Bitter Gourd With Chinese Mustard                                                 苦瓜焖苦瓜

2.     Salted Turnip Omelette                                                                                    菜脯蛋饼

3.     Vegetarian Winter Melon Soup                                                                       素冬瓜汤

First of all, I have to be frank that I will be a vegetarian (by religion) for a period of about 1.5 months and being the only member in the family, I am pretty easy going with my meals. Since my relatives are in my house, they can cook what they like and I usually give them the free hand so that I can concentrate on my other food posts.

However, when I have things to share, I will post here and there summarizing what I have made the last few days. As mentioned before, short recipes will be captured in Guaishushu’s Facebook Page, therefore, I will let you know the dishes published and if you are interested, you can go there for some pictorial illustration. Liking the Page (not the individual posts) will ensure that you will be briefed of all future recipes when Guaishushu issue a pictorial illustration.



Salted Turnip Omelette (菜脯蛋饼)

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This is a very common Chinese household dish especially for the Hokkien and the Teochew dialects. It is basically preserved turnips (either sweet or salty) fried with eggs. When I was young, we used to have this dish with white porridge as its very tasty. Previously, this dish was considered as a commoner’s dish because eggs and preserved turnip or radish are two of the cheapest cooking ingredients. It is tasty and a slice of  egg omelette with a bowl of white rice or porridge can be a meal for the poorer families. However, time have changed, this traditional dish has become so well known that it started to appear in the restaurant menu especially Minan/Hokkien/Taiwan restaurant and Teochew porridge restaurant. Preparation is simple and you may want refer here for detail pictorial illustration.



Braised Bitter Gourd with Chinese Mustard (苦菜焖苦瓜)  

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This is a vegetable dish “invented” by myself many years ago. Initially, it was just bitter gourd and subsequently, as per my wife’s request, Chinese mustard was added. Both Chinese mustard and bitter gourd were very bitter and if you are a bitter taste lover, you will like it definitely. At times, I have added a can of canned button mushrooms and my kids will eat together with us. This is one way of letting them getting used to the taste of bitter gourd and Chinese mustard.

Both these vegetables were beneficial to the body as per Traditional Chinese Medicine, these are “cooling” vegetables that will help to release the “heat” on your body. For those who are not familiar with TCM, body that have too much “heat “ will have lots of symptoms that can range from loss of voice, acnes in your face, sore throat etc. and you have to have food that are “cooling” in nature to balance your Yin and Yang.

My mother in law is very particular about vegetable combination in a meal and she will casually remarked “we have some “heat” prone vegetable today and today we shall have some cooling vegetables.. So under her, her vegetable choices will take into consideration this factor plus “colour” of the vegetable (green vs. white vs. colourful), leafy vs beans….. Most of time, I “failed” her test under her supervision but I am learning from her gradually as this takes time!


Vegetarian Winter Melon Soup (素冬瓜汤)

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Nothing much to say about this dish as it is just another version of winter melon soup without pork ribs. As there is no meat broth, I have use more sweet dates and add in some vegetarian bean curd sheets. My boy did not complain about no meat and my girls, who is soup fanatic, will definitely say nice especially winter melon is one of her favourites.



Banana Cake (香蕉蛋糕)

Beside the savoury dishes, my baking adventures continue. I have made a banana cake using two ripe bananas. Taste is fabulous and texture is superb (soft and moist). Uniqueness about this cake is that it is prepared using a food processor rather than the normal mixer. No creaming of butter, just mixed and blend, a batter will come out that give a delicious butter cake. Cake preparation timing is less than 20 minutes. This is a comfort food that is suitable for those who want a simple way of cake making.

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In between these few days, I have prepared many cakes and savory dishes and among them were:

Oven baked honey tempeh and Sweet and Spicy Tempeh



Vegetable Fritters or Bakwan Sayuran

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Grapefruit Chiffon Cake with Grapefruit Citrus Glaze

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Bubur Cha Cha (Sweet Soup) 

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers

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Salted Vegetable Duck Soup (咸菜鸭)– A Quick and Easy Way to Prepare This Traditional Soup Dish

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INTRODUCTION

This is a soup dish that I have always craved for it。 It is rather extraordinary as not many Fujian Chinese soup dish are as sour as this dish。 However, it is a well liked dish that most Chinese households would have their own recipe for this soup and every household will claim that theirs is the best. Though it is commonly thought of a Hokkien/Teochew/Peranakan (dialects) cuisines. however, to be more precise, it  is a Fujian province soup and even in People’s Republic of China, they have recipe for this soup.

When I was young, the soup were only prepared when they were big festivals or religious prayers. The main reasons were that ducks were relatively expensive and will only be served at big festivals. In addition, during religious festivals, lots of food were cooked and it is unlikely to finish all the foods in one day, this soup which is sour was less prone of turning bad if keep for a day or two as most households do not have refrigerators in the 1960’s. Thirdly, duck is very difficult to cook, traditional way will need braising of duck until the meat are soft and tender and the flavour of the salted vegetable starts to penetrate into the duck meat. Therefore, it is cooked only occasionally.

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Traditionally, the duck meat were braised for hours before it can be served. It is also a common belief that the soup be left overnight to become even tastier. However, with the introduction of new cooking equipment, the cooking time have cut short considerably. I have used one hour to cook this dish and get the same taste that my mum would have prepared for at least half a day. For this illustration, I have used pressure cooker that cut short the time considerably. However, previously, I have also use rice cooker (soup function) to cook the soup and slow cooker to boil overnight. However, the best equipment is still the usage of pressure cooker followed by rice cooker and finally slow cooker.

The most basic ingredients of this soup are ducks, salted vegetables, Chinese preserved sour plums and gingers. Ginger is a must because it will counter effect the cooling effect brought by the consumption of salted vegetables.  Chinese generally discouraged consumption of preserved vegetables as it will introduce “wind” to the body. All other ingredients are side ingredients which in my humble opinion are optional.

To make it even more sour, cooks are using tomatoes (which appeared to be an essential ingredient now), asam kulit (tamarind slices), vinegar, lemon and marinated lemon. Other more common ingredients are dried mushrooms, garlics and red carrots. There are also recipes in the internet that have  chilli, brandy as their ingredients!!!!!

For me, a good bowl of soup should be sweet (from the meat broth) and sour (not extremely sour) with a blend aroma of ginger and salted vegetables. Meat must be tender and soft.



WHAT IS REQUIRED ….

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  • 500 g of salty preserved Chinese Mustard
  • 1 kg of duck meat  (about half a whole duck  and de-skinned if preferred).

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  • 50 g of red carrots cut in small pieces
  • 10 small dried mushrooms soaked in water
  • 3 big whole garlics
  • 100 g of gingers (peel off the skin)
  • 100 g of tomatoes cut into big pieces
  • 2 slices of ginger
  • 3 sour plums that can easily get from Chinese provision shops.
  • 6-8 cups of water (estimation)

Note:

Only the salted vegetables, duck, gingers and sour plum are the main ingredients. All other ingredients are side ingredients which are optional and a matter of personal preferences. Volume listed here are also for reference only as it is rather hard for you to get an exact 1 kg duck.. so full flexibility here.

It is advisable that you soak the preserved vegetable first before you cook the soup. I would rather soaked the salted vegetable for a longer time to reduce the saltiness and if the final soup is not salty enough, I will add salt to the dish. I usually soak the vegetable for at least half an hour.



STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Layer your ingredients (except tomatoes)  between salted vegetables and meat and other ingredients . Why it is not a must but I have the habits of layering the ingredients to ensure the meat were well seasoned by the ingredients)
  • Add 6-8 cups of water or about 1.5 times the height of your ingredients. Note: if you are using pressure cooker, you can use this amount of water. However, if you are using rice cooker or stove to boil the soup, you may need at least 10 cups of water until the meat get tender and soft. It is ok to start with this volume of water and if the volume of water is not enough, you can add water along the way.
  • For pressure cooker, select “meat function” and it will took approximately 25-30 minutes. After cooking, let it rest in the pot for at least 15-30 minutes as it will continue to cook. BE CAREFUL WHEN HANDLING PRESSURE COOKER.  For rice cooker, select “soup function” and if after the first cooking, the meat is still or tender, you can select another round of soup function and stop when the meat have your required tenderness.  I usually cooked this before I went to bed and the next day, every thing is perfect.
  • When done, add in the fresh tomato and close the lid and rest for another 10 minutes before serving.

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  • Preferably served hot with rice .

 


CONCLUSION

  • This is a rather short post on one of the traditional Chinese soup dishes – Salted Vegetable Duck Soup. The reasons for the exact combinations of these two main ingredients are unknown. Possibly duck needs time to braise and salted vegetable can withstand long hour of braising. Ginger is a must, in my humble opinion to get rid of the meat raw smell and also have to role of preventing gas formation when consuming preserved vegetables. Sour plum is the traditional ingredient to make this soup sour though the present method have resort to the use of tomatoes, lemons, tamarind slices and etc. All other ingredients are optional and quantity can varies according to your own preferences.
  • Traditionally, the soup was cooked over charcoal stoves where you need at least 2 to 3 hours or longer to get the desire meat texture and soup flavour. However, with the pressure cooker as in this illustration, the cooking time have cut down considerably and it is easier to control the quality of the soup. Rice cooker soup function is another alternatives than can be considered.
  • While the soup is tasty and nice, excess consumption is not  recommended as this soup is consider as cooling according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. In addition, those with stomach acidity will also need to watch out the volume of consumption.

Hope you like it. It is not as difficult as what it is thought. It is a bowl of soup that I could never resists and you should be proud to modify the recipe to suit your families taste buds. Happy trying. Cheers.

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What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 24-7-2013

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On 24-July 2013, white rice served with:

“Three cup” chicken  三杯鸡
Bok Choi chicken soup

贸白菜鸡汤

Hokkien Style Fried Prawn Mee 福建炒虾面

For tonight’s dinner, there is nothing to shout about. When I am preparing dinner, my nice neighbour gave me a big bowl of Hokkien Style Fried Prawn Mee. As this can be a dish by itself, I have decided to stop preparing any more dish since both adults will be eating the prawn mee and the children had their favourite Bok Choi soup and some sweet chicken called “three cup” chicken.

Three Cup Chicken (三杯鸡)

The main ingredients of three cup chicken is Thai basil (九层塔)。Most people misunderstood that “3 cup” chicken is cooked with 1 cup of wine, 1 cup of soya sauce and I cup of  sesame oil. However, if we follow that assumptions strictly, it will be extremely oily with very high salt content. Therefore, to master the making of 3 cups chicken, the measurement of oil and soya sauce should be reduced accordingly. As a general rule of thumb, soya sauce volume should be half the volume of wine but twice the sugar volume. In another words, assuming that the sugar unit is 1cup, then soya sauce volume with be 2 cups and wine will be 4 cups. Note that no water is used in the cooking and medium heat is used to braise the chicken until the liquids dries up. Thai basil is added 2 minutes before you off the heat.

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Wild Hibiscus Tea (洛神花茶)

Besides the above dishes, I have boiled some Roselle/Rosella/Wild Hibiscus Tea (洛神花茶)。I usually boiled a very big pot which is very concentrated and dilute it when I want to drink. I like the drink as it is extremely thirst quenching and inhibit carbohydrates intake.

If you are interested to know how to make the drinks, its benefits and etc., you can refer to the post –

“Game To Try Some “Wild Hibiscus” Tea………….?(洛神花茶)

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I have also used some to make into some ice sticks which I usually have one after my dinner.

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When you boiled the drinks, don’t throw away the rosella flowers. The boiled flowers can be eaten as snacks but for me, I have used it to make “banana rosella” smoothies. (you can refer to the above link and see how the boiled flowers look like)

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Lastly, for lunch , I have cooked roast duck Bee Hoon from the duck bones of the roast duck that we had yesterday. I used the duck bones to make the broth, add some Bee Hoon, mushrooms, shredded duck meat, some dry bean curd sheets and egg omelettes stripes. The good thing about this dish is that there is not need to add seasoning and the broth is very sweet already. That used up all my duck bones and now left  2 drumsticks. Is it not funny that we have eaten all “bones” without eating the meat? I told readers before, both my wife and my kids do not like meat and yesterday is one of the blue moon days that I bought the whole duck. Therefore, I have to think of a way to “dispose off” the entire duck.. Haha..

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Hope you like the post today. Good night.

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 9-7-2013

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On 9-July 2013, white rice served with:

1
Steamed tofu with egg 豆腐蒸蛋
2 Blanched Broccoli with Prawns 芥兰花虾球
3 Bok Choi with meat ball soup  贸白菜肉丸汤
4 Popcorn chicken 炸鸡球

As I am rather busy today, it take me about 45 minutes to prepare all these dishes. The dishes are rather simple and the soup is a quick soup. Quick soup means soup that you don’t boil the water and put in the vegetables or ingredients when the water boiled. This is different from those soups that you need to boil for 1-2 hours to get meat broth. I usually made this simple soup when I runs of time.

The pop corn chicken is purchased from Kentucky Fried Chicken. My kids seldom have fast food and if I want to add a dish or two, I will consider have this as one of the meat dish.

Steamed tofu with egg is simple and welcomed by my kids. They like the soft texture of tofu and eggs. There are so many variations and today, I have decided to dust with seaweed meat floss.

For blanched broccoli with prawns, please refer to the links above or you can refer to GUAISHUSHU’s Page in Facebook

Hope you LIKE it and have a nice day.

 

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Prawn noodles? Hokkien noodles?… No, it is Singapore Hokkien Fried Prawn Noodles (新加玻福建炒虾面)

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INTRODUCTION

The title of this dish will have to be very exact! It should be called “Singapore Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodles” or “Singapore Hokkien Hay Noodles”.

Singapore has to be included because it is uniquely Singapore and you can’t find elsewhere, not even in Malaysia.

The word “Fried” have to be used because it had to differentiate the Penang prawn noodles which is a soup based noodles as explained below.

Hokkien” have to be included because “prawn mee” alone can mean the soup version of prawn mee famous in Penang whereby you used the prawn broth and to make the soup and usually served with watercress (kangkong), pork ribs and blanched prawns.

   Pic courtesy of : http://kaka-penang-prawn-mee.blogspot.sg/p/prawn-mee.html

Omitting the prawns and Singapore will become Hokkien Mee, and it can refer to another type of noodle dish that was commonly eaten in Kuala Lumpur usually fried with black sauce, cabbages, prawns and pork.

  Pic courtesy of:  http://ieatishootipost.sg/2011/07/restoran-ahwa-kl-hokkien-mee-in.html

Today’s post is about Singapore Hokkien Fried Prawn Noodles which shall look like this:

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Readers who wanted to have a more detailed distinction of various prawn noodles can refer to the explanation here.


PRAWN NOODLES DEFINED

Wikipedia defines:

Hokkien mee refers to fried noodles cooked in Hokkien (Fujian) style. Hokkien mee is served in many Southeast Asian countries (mostly Malaysia and Singapore) and was brought there by immigrants from the Fujian province in south easternChina. In Singapore, Hokkien mee refers to a variant of the Penang version of Hokkien hay mee. The dish uses the same egg noodles and rice noodles used in Hokkien hay mee, but is stir fried in lard and served dry. The main ingredients are shrimps and small pieces of sliced pork. It is usually served with lime and sambalchilli.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hokkien_mee)

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WHAT IS NEEDED?

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  • Half kilogram of prawns – Wash clean, pluck the head and set aside. Keep the heads for making prawn stock. You can consider collecting raw prawn heads from cooking other dishes and keep it until a sizeable amount and start to make the prawn broth. (If desired, sotong or squids can be added in addition to prawns)
  • 400 grams of pork belly cut into thin slices (optional, can be substituted with chicken slices)
  • 5-10 large fish balls or fish cakes cut into slices
  • 4 eggs – beaten and set aside

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  • 300 g of bean sprouts – wash and set aside
  • 300 g of Chinese chives – cut into 1 inch length and set asides
  • 3 small onions cut into small slices and some chopped spring onion (optional). You can consider adding in chopped garlics as well.

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  • Some yellow noodles (300g) and some rice vermicelli (about 150 g)
  • Some calamansi for garnishing
  • Some sambal belachan to use as condiments

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing the prawn stock……

The success of this dish is very much depending on the prawn broth. The prawn broth should be thick, no fishy and tasty. Generally, you may wish to keep all the prawn heads from the meals that you have prepared previously. The more prawn head you have the better will your broth be.

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  • In a pot, place some water with 2 spring onions and some ginger slices. The purpose of adding these is to get rid of the fishy smell associated with the prawns.
  • Bring the water to boil under high heat, add prawn heads and shells and boiled until the prawn heads are cooked. This is rather fast and needs may be less than 5 minutes.

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  • Sieve and transfer all prawn shells to a food processor.
  • Blend the prawn shells until fine or small chunks. Place it back into the earlier prawn stocks
  • Boil for about 30 minutes under medium heat.
  • Sieve and the prawn stock are ready for next use.

Cooking the noodles….

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  • In a hot frying pan, put some cooking oil. Throw in the chopped shallots, spring onion and fried until golden brown. It is my practice that I add salt and white pepper at this juncture. Essentially, salt will increase the temperature for frying and pepper that were fried will emit a better aroma;
  • Place the ingredients in this order. Pork belly, fish balls, chives. Fried for about 3 minutes until all the ingredients are well mixed. It is ok if the meat is not cooked as it will continue to cook in later processes.
  • Note: Traditionally, lard is used for cooking this dish, however, due to health reasons, vegetable cooking oil were used instead of lard. Of course, there will be a compromise in taste but the taste difference wouldn’t be that obvious.

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  • Sieve the prawn stock into the pan and let it boiled for 1-2 minutes.
  • Throw in the yellow noodles and rice vermicelli and let it cook for another 3 minutes.

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  • Add bean sprout and beaten eggs to the pan. The beaten eggs will serve as a thickener to the noodles gravy and add an additional fragrance.
  • Add additional seasonings if necessary (fish sauce, mushrooms concentrate, white pepper etc.… ) and mixed well.
  • Boiled for another 2 minutes and let it rest in the frying pan for another 10 minutes before serving. This will let the prawn stock have adequate time to penetrate the noodles and rice vermicelli. Note that the noodles and rice vermicelli will expand. Should you find that there is too dry, just add in some hot water and stir to make it slightly watery.

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  • Sprinkle with deep fried onion  and chopped spring onion or Chinese celery.
  • Usually served in a plate with lime and Sambal Belachan.

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CONCLUSION

  • Singapore Hokkien Prawn Noodles are unique in Singapore and should not be confused with Penang Prawn Noodles and Kuala Lumpur Hokkien Noodles.
  • Using the prawn heads to make prawn stock is a good way of maximizing the recovery of the prawns. Save the prawn heads from other dishes, make the prawn stocks and used it to cook the noodles. This will be very tasty and not much seasonings were needed. Chicken bones can be  added to make it a much tastier broth. Traditionally, lard is used for the dish but this is not encouraging because it may cause coronary complications. 
  • The noodles cooked should be soft and moist with a fragrance of meat (pork or chicken) and prawns. The lime makes the dish slightly sour and adding chili will bring the taste to another higher level of enjoyment!

Lastly, hope you LIKE this sharing and do try to make the dish and let me know whether it suit your taste buds.

Have a nice day. Cheers.

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