What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 16-7-2013

IMG_0632 

On 16th July 2013,

Pasta with home made tomato sauce.

Today, I have cooked my pasta sauce from scratch (meaning from tomato). I learned this when I visited one of my French friends in Paris many years ago. I am in the process of compiling a post on this dish and will be shared with readers soon. In the post, you will see how Guaishushu transformed the  pasta sauce to the Asian liking using herbs widely used in this region. Did you notice both the Tabasco sauce and the Asian Chilli sauce? I have not parsley but I substitute with Chinese celery, do you think the taste will blend?

Being home cooked sauce, the color are always not that “appealing” but the taste is definitely worth you to make an effort to cook,

IMG_0630

Did you see the brownish color drinks? These drinks are herbal drinks for cooling the body. It is chrysanthemum (菊花)and prunella vulgaris (夏枯草)flowers tea. You can refer to this post for the picture for the fresh flowers. Is it not a funny combination that having a Western pasta food with Chinese herbal drinks?

Besides cooking this dish, I am baking an uniquely Sarawak (in Island of Borneo) buns called the Sarawak butter buns. The name Sarawak was added in order to avoid confusions with other butter buns commonly found in other parts of the world. Sarawak butter bun is unique because it has an aromatic buttery fillings. I will share the recipe in one to two days time.

IMG_0628

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

IMG_0631

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 1-7-2013

IMG_5980

On July 1 2013,

White rice served with:

1 Braised luffa/tower gourd with egg* 蛋汁炆丝瓜
2 Winter Melon Pork Rib Soup 冬瓜排骨汤
3 Taukwa fried with minced pork 豆干炒肉碎
4 Blanched pak choi with Oyster Sauce 耗油鸡胸奶白
5 Green Chilli fried with pork tongue 清椒炒猪舌

In Singapore, school re-opened for the second semester. Therefore, I will be backed to my routine cooking. 2 dishes to highlight:

1. Taukwa (dried bean curd) fried with minced pork – This is the second time I cooked this dish. The first time is about 2 months ago and you can see my post on minced pork belly with taukwa here. The taukwa was being meshed and stir fried with minced pork and eggs. It is very soft because of the meshed bean curd. A dish which is equally good for porridges.

2. We have an exotic dish today. Exotic in that I have never bought this part of pig myself. One of my relatives from China have brought over some braised pork tongues and gave it to us. In fact, I have complained to my wife that I do not know how to cook and I will not eat the meat. She is not very happy because that  means she have to finish the entire tongue. When  I cut the tongue into smaller pieces, the aroma starts to emit, a nice soya sauce fragrance. By the time I cut the whole tongue, i do not have such fear anymore since the shape is totally different now. I put a piece in my mouth and found that it is very tasty and my wife is surprise to see that i am eating the dish at the dinner.

Burnt, Hot, Spicy– I am running away!!!– Understanding Chilli Pepper and Making Of Chilli Sauce

IMG_5863

I am not running away, in fact, I like chilli peppers. The spicier the merrier.

I like to make my own chilli sauce, I will find the spiciest chilli I can for the making of my chilli sauce. I have to make my chilli sauce at least 3-4 times a year making and average out using about 1 kg of chilli each time. I usually prepare my chilli sauce in its base form. Thereafter, I used it for a dip or for cooking. When I do not have appetite to take my meals or when the meals is not tastier, yucky, one scope of my chilli sauce will help me to finish the entire meals.

IMG_2634

This post will have 3 sections.

  • Section 1 – types of chilli that you can get in Singapore and Malaysia, and its spiciness.
  • Section 2 – my simple way of making the chilli sauce 
  • Section 3 – what will happen if you have a chilli burn!

IMG_2635
 


SECTION 1 – CHOOSING THE CHILLI

It is rather common to hear that people (particularly man)  comparing how well they can take the spiciness of a food. They will use the ability to take spiciness of a food as a measurement of “manliness”. However, pardon me, with no adequate knowledge on the objective measurement of the spiciness of chilli that they are eating, such argument usually ended up with boosting oneself without letting go individual own stands.

Chilli’s or pepper’s spiciness, in fact can be measured by  Scoville Heat Unit (“SHU”) that in turn measured by the capsaicin in a given species of the chilli. Lets learn some fundamentals of chillies as extracted from www.artofmanliness.com.

“Peppers, often known for their heat, or spiciness, are ranked according to the Scoville Scale. The Scoville Scale, created by Wilbur Scoville in the early 20th century, measures the amount of capsaicin in a given species of pepper. Capsaicin is the chemical within peppers that makes them spicy. The Scoville Heat Units (or SHU) of a pepper represent the number of times the capsaicin within the pepper would have to be diluted before it would be undetectable. For example, you would have to dilute the capsaicin found in your average jalapeno 2500 times before it would seemingly have no spiciness at all, giving it a SHU rating of 2500”  Http://www.artofmanliness.com/

The picture below will show you various types of chilli and its spiciness.

 

Source : http://chilibloggen.se/category/chili.html

 

So, from the above picture, the common chilli that was commonly consumed in Malaysia and Singapore were summarized below:

Bell Pepper/Capsicum/Red Pepper SHU = 0
Cayenne Pepper/Red Chilli SHU = 60,000
Thai Chilli/Bird Eye Chilli /Chilli Padi SHU = 150,000
Habanero/Red Savina SHU = 350,000

The spiciest chilli is called the Trinidad Scorpion Moruga Blend,  endemic to the district of Moruga in Trinidad and Tobago, is currently the world’s hottest chilli pepper cultivated. According to the New Mexico State University, the Trinidad Scorpion Moruga Blend ranks as high as 2,009,231 SHU on the Scoville scale, making it the hottest chilli pepper in the world to date. Paul Bosland, a chilli pepper expert and director of the Institute, said that, “You take a bite. It doesn’t seem so bad, and then it builds and it builds and it builds. So it is quite nasty.

 

 

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinidad_Moruga_Scorpion 


 

SECTION 2 – MAKING THE CHILLI SAUCE

I usually prepare this chilli sauce in its base forms with minimal condiments or seasonings. Vinegar and some salt is used to preserve the chilli and prevent it from turning bad.

I have added different condiments with the base chilli sauce so that it can be used for dips for different dishes or for frying dishes. For example:

Chicken Rice Chilli Base chilli sauce + ginger + calamansi skin + garlic + seasonings
Popiah Chilli Nothing added
Sambal Belachan for frying Chinese water cress etc. Shrimp Paste (Belachan) or small prawns or anchovies + lemon grass + shallots
Dips for fish Kalamansi + sliced garlic + dark/light soya sauce
Fried rice Nothing added
Roast pork Base chilli sauce + sugar + garlic, ginger + fermented bean curd
Braised duck (Teochew) Chopped garlic + white vinegar


WHAT IS REQUIRED

IMG_5815

  •  Some chilli of your liking and tolerance : I have brought these 3 types of chilli from Kuching, Sarawak when I walked by the wet market in Kuching. I was extremely happy to find some Habanero chilli (SHU: 350,000 units) and I have bought all the stock that the stall owner had. These Habanero chilli are rather difficult to buy and it is more costly than the other types of chilli.  The other two types of chilli are Thai Chilli or Bird Eye Chilli (Chilli Padi in Malay Language) (SHU:150,000 units) and some rather common Cayenne pepper (SHU:60,000 units).
  • White Vinegar – adequate to cover the volume of blended chilli. White vinegar serves as a preservative in this recipe. As the blended chilli is not cooked, in order to avoid the chilli paste from turning bad, white vinegar is used.
  • Salt – to taste and its role is also act as a preservative agent.

 IMG_8366


PREPARATION STEPS

The steps are rather simple and basic. But one important point to note is that ALL INGREDIENTS, PREPARATION EQUIPMENT AND CONTAINERS MUST BE CLEAN. If possible, sterile your container with hot water but make sure that it is dry before you place the chilli sauce in it. This is to prevent the growing of bacteria in your uncooked chilli sauce.

IMG_5833

  • Wash all chilli and if possible, dry it under the sun. Otherwise, pat dry using a dry cloth. 
  • Place all dry chilli into a food processor and processed it until the smallest chunks possible.
  • Note: If your blender is able to cut the chilli until the size that you want, you can by pass the use of food processor. Food processor is used here because Habanero chilli is quite big and it take quite it a while to cut it small, therefore, I opt to use a food processor and transfer into the cut chilli into the blender.

IMG_5835

  • Transfer the chilli chunks into a clean blender. Add some salt and white vinegar. The amount of white vinegar shall be at least adequate to cover the chilli chunks.
  • Blend at high speed until fine.
  • Carefully scope out the chilli sauce and place in a clean sterilized container . Add more vinegar if desired. Wait for the chilli to cool until room temperature, close the lid and keep in the fridge. (Note: when you grind the chilli, the temperature will increase, therefore, in order to avoid any unwanted water vapour in your chilli sauce, it is best that you let them cool until room temperature before you store them.)

IMG_2665

If you do not want the chilli to be that spicy, you can tone down the spiciness by de-seeding the chilli. You will need to cut open the chilli and take away all the seeds before you proceed to the grinding. However, do be careful not to touch the chilli seeds as it can be rather difficult to get rid of the chilli heat. So, it is advisable to use a glove before you proceed with the cutting.

This chilli sauce can be stored for at least half a year. But you have to make sure that every time you scoop out the chilli sauce, a clean dry spoon is used. Otherwise, the dirty spoon will introduce bacteria to the container and it will spoilt the chilli sauce.

IMG_2657


Preparing Base chilli from dry chillies

IMG_8348

At times, you may not be able to get hold of lots of fresh chillies or when chillies are not in the season and become costly, I have used the dried chillies to prepare the sauce. The preparation is slightly different but the taste is not the same as fresh chilli sauce. But the colour of the chilli sauce will be more attractive. For this version, I usually cooked with the chilli sauce so that it can be kept longer.

PicMonkey Collage1

  • Soak the chilli until soft (about 30 minutes). Use a food processor to blend the chilli until as fine as you can. For food processor, it is impossible to blend the chilli seeds, therefore, you will need to transfer the blended chilli to a blender. Add water just adequate to cover the chilli.

IMG_8326

  • Blend the chilli until the seeds are well blended. In a pot with a few tablespoon of cooking oil, stir fry the chilli sauce under medium heat.

IMG_8332

  • Stir fry until oil starts to sip out of the chilli paste, it become dry and aroma of cooked chilli starts to permeates the house. Add sugar and salt to taste. Off heat, transfer to sterilized container for cooling. Cool completely at room temperature before store in fridge.

IMG_8352

Notes:

  • Variations of this chilli sauce are many. However, I like my chilli sauce to be as basic as possible. In the process of stir frying, you can add in the following ingredients to make it become chilli sauce for nasi lemak or etc. : shallots, garlics, lemon grass, shrimp paste (belachan), buah keras. All this should be blend well and stir fry together with the base chilli sauce. If you want it to be even spicier, you can add some chilli padi .

IMG_2637

  • Uses of this chilli sauce: Can be used for stir frying kangkong or even petai as follow, cooking curry, as a dip (put belachan and calamansi), diluted with vinegar to go with Kuih Chap or oyster omelette etc.. Curry cooked with this chilli sauce will be beautifully coloured.

IMG_2667

  •  For dipping purposes: Just have a tablespoon of vinegar or lime juice, add additional salt or light soya sauce, shallot oil and it will be good as a dip for fried fish and etc.

IMG_8362

I have used the base chilli to stir fry with some petai. Put some cooking oil, sauté onions, belachan and baby shrimps until fragrance, add petai and followed by 2-3 tablespoons of this homemade chilli sauce, add additional seasonings and the sambal petai is ready.

IMG_8364


SECTION 3 – TAKING CARE OF YOUR HANDS   

It may be unfair for me to share with you how to make chilli sauce without sharing with you how to take care of you hand.

In my previous attempt to make chilli sauce,  I have a very bad experience whereby my hand was “burn” for one whole night by the chilli residue while I was washing the blender and food processor. That day, as I was out of time, I have forgot to wear a glove or “plastic bag” when I washed the food processor. To make the matter worse, I use the same sponge to clean the other dishes for dinner. Almost immediately, my whole palm was feeling extremely hot and when I accidentally scratched my face, my face got the hot feeling too. I have used many methods but none was able to stop the heat immediately. It really make me panic as I never have such an encounter before. As I am extremely tired that night, I just cut a stem of aloe vera and applied to the “injured part”, and that make my hand felt slightly better. I fell asleep when I was waiting for the heat to subside and when I woke up, the hand is getting normal again.

So, be careful with your hands. In the internet, there are many ways of reducing the heat arising from touching the chilli (or more specifically, capsaicin) and I have selected 5 ways for your consideration. Some methods can be applied if you accidentally ate some extremely hot chilli and the heat remained in your mouth:

  • Wash your hand using cold milk  – Milk have a protein called casein which is a natural “enemy” to capsaicin. The colder the milk, the better it is. This however, can be a wastage as you will constantly need to wash with new milks when the effect is less. Therefore, quite a lot of milks will be required. However, if you accidentally eat something spicy, this is a good way to reduce the chilli burn in your mouth. My kids can testify this, haha!!
  • Wash your hand with hard liquor or any other types of alcohol. Capsaicin do not dissolve in water but dissolve in alcohol. Drink some alcohol may help with the burning sensation in your mouth.
  • Rub your hand with salt and slightly some water. The salt will scrap away the capsaicin that is in your hand. Alternatively, sugar can also be used. Finish off with a rinse of milk and soap.
  • Wash your hand with oil. Capsaicin also dissolve in vegetable oil beside alcohol and casein.
  • Wash your hand with vinegar (or some form of acidic solutions) and soaps.

IMG_8350


CONCLUSIONS

  • Bird eye chilli is not the spiciest chilli as what most Malaysian and Singaporean thought. The spiciest chilli now on Guinness World of Records is in Trinidad called Trinidad Scorpion Moruga Blend. It is about 13 times spicier than the Chilli padi and 33 times spicier than the normal cayenne chilli that we used for our normal cooking.
  • Making chilli sauce is not difficult. It is advisable to make chilli sauce in its very basic form. Add relevant seasonings and condiments for different type of dishes. This will save your time in preparing different chilli for different dish.
  • There is no one fixed way of getting rids of chilli burn in your skin or your mouth. The above 5 methods are common solvents (milk, vinegar, alcohol, sugar, oil)  for the active ingredients in chilli, capsaicin. Dealing with chilli have to be careful, wear gloves if possible. Washing of utensils used in the preparation of chilli sauce have to be extra careful. Capsaicin vapour will rush out when water was flush to the equipment. You may start to cough or your tears may flow when capsaicin reach your eyes and throats. Therefore, washing have be careful using slow water avoid touching the capsaicin.
  • To reduce the spiciness of the chilli, de-seeding will help.

Lastly, thanks for reading this interesting cooking ingredient commonly found in Malaysia and Singapore.

IMG_8360

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

IMG_8354

 

 


  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 8 June 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

IMG_8358


Bachelor’s Tomyam Noodles–Quick And Nice…

IMG_4987

INTRODUCTION

I am struggling whether I should post this simple noodle preparation. It is just that simple and up to your own creativities. I am thinking, will putting up this post insult my reader’s intelligence? Will it qualify as a professional blog post? Is this consider as an recipe? Well, after struggling for 10 minutes, I have decided to post this dish to gauge what is my reader’s reactions. Due to this impromptu decision, therefore, unlike other post, some pictures were not available.

This is a super fast dish that I cooked for myself today.  From cooking to eating to cleaning, it took me less than half an hour.  It is ideal for those who just want a simple, quick and nutritious meal.

 

WHY THIS DISH

I am alone by myself at home and I don’t feel like cooking for myself. Usually,  I would just eat the breakfast leftover items for lunch. But I have been eating breakfasts as lunches for the last 3 days and my body tells me that I need something that don’t taste like “breakfast”.

Cooking a dish for myself is never a problem, I just search my kitchen cabinet and my refrigerator and see what I have at home. As my kids were away on holiday and we will not be cooking these few days, therefore, my perishable stocks were very limited and this is what I found, a packet of Tom yam instant noodles.

IMG_4991 - Copy

As I have never fancy any instant noodles, this packet of instant noodles is not attractive to me at all especially if it is plain (meaning water plus instant noodles). But suddenly, it come across my mind and asked myself, why not cook myself some Tom Yam noodles. So I take out a pot and cooked my superfast Tom Yam noodles.


WHAT YOU NEED

IMG_4990

As far as I am concerned, there is nothing that you can’t put it. I usually cooked based on what I have especially the side vegetables. What I used this time:

  • One pieces or dry egg noodles – this is exactly the same as your instant noodles except it is slightly firmer;
  • Some cherry tomatoes – supposingly to be eaten as fruits but since I have some in the fridge, I just dump it in.
  • Some chicken breast meat (optional) cut into small chunks – I had this in the fridge for quite a while and since I will not be cooking for the these 2 weeks, I have to “get rid” of it. But frankly speaking, it taste better with some meaty flavor;
  • Few pieces of chili (optional) – These chili were specially flown from China given by one of my guest who stay in Guangxi China. It is supposingly very spicy but for me, it is slightly more spicy than the red chili but not as spicy as chili padi.
  • Tom Yam paste – It is good to keep some ready made tom yam paste at home for making quick soups, fried noodles and etc. My wife have bought this vegetarian tom yam paste which I don’t think there is much differences. The only difference in ingredients that I can think off is the shallots and garlics since Buddhist vegetarian were not allowed to consume any shallots and garlics.

STEPS OF PERPARTION

I have no picture to show as this post was rather impromptu and only decided half way when I was cooking. In fact, it is such a simple dish that there are only 2-3 steps and further elaboration will “insult” my reader’s intelligence. If you really can’t understand what I am trying to say, just imagine you are cooking some instant noodles in a pot.

  • Take out a pot and pour in some plain water. Put a few table spoon of tom yam paste (depending on taste) and bring to boil. Throw in other ingredients in these orders – meat, chili, tomato, egg noodles. 

  • As I am using chicken breast and cut into small chunks, it is rather quick to cook. The smaller your meat is, the easier it is to cook! You can use some sweet potato flour or corn flour to slightly cover your meat before you put them in the pot. The role of these flours is to keep the juice inside the meat and also make its texture smoother. For me, as I want it to be quick, I have not perform this step, I just put my meat in without adding any corn flour.
  • Boil for 1-2 minutes until your noodles have soften.
  • I prefer to rest it for a while until the noodles absorbed all the soup and this will make it tastier and softer.
  • Variations – There are many variations that you can have. You may want to add some eggs. or sausages. some cabbage, red carrots, celery, etc. and the lists are endless. These are all up to your imaginations and creativities.

FINAL OUTPUT

IMG_4988

In the picture, does it look appetizing to you?

To make it look better you can consider using mushrooms for black color, red chili for red color, baby corns for yellow color and carrot for orange color.

Compare to the 1st picture and the last picture, you can see that noodles is softer as it had absorbed the gravy.

Taste wise, if you want it more sour, you can squeeze some lime juice. For me that is just nice. It is essentially tom yam cooked with chicken stock and if you like tom yam, this is a suitable meal for you!


CONCLUSIONS

  • Not all foods need to be elaborately prepared before it is considered as tasty. Simple meal like this is ideal for those who are kitchen phobia or short of time to prepare a nutritious meal;
  • It is nutritious because the ingredients that were used are simple (like my post on Nasi Aruk here) but packed with proteins and vitamins. Tom yam paste itself is full of herbs and spices that is beneficial to the body.
  • It is healthier because no oil and further seasonings were used. IT IS DEFINITELY HEALTHIER THAN INSTANT NOODLE AS NO MSG WAS USED。When you ate plain instant noodles, most people will craved for stronger flavor as the taste is very monotonous and you need seasonings to make your palate “happy”. With slight additions of meat and vegetables, your attention will gear towards your meats and vegetables. The soups will have some meaty flavor and you don’t feel the need to add any more seasonings. Is it not healthier?
  • It is fast to prepare, full flexibility and you can substitute any ingredients with what you have at home.

Because it is so flexible, it essentially means there is no recipe. So, do you like this type of simple dish or you think reading my post is wasting your precious time?

I treasure your feedback and let me know how you feel about it.

Happy reading and cheers.


I have recently open a Facebook community page ‘AUTHENTIC SARAWAK FOOD AND HISTORY” and I hoped you can support the page by visiting the page. If you find the page benefits you in some way, please give it a “LIKE”.

The page is intended to become a center of collection of unique Sarawak Cuisines. For those who don’t know where is Sarawak, Sarawak is one of states belong to Malaysia and in the Island of Borneo. It is famous of its eco-tourism and multi racial society. Its unique cuisine are cuisines like Sarawak Laksa, Kolo mee and scarce vegetables such as jungle fern shoot, hairy eggplant etc. PLEASE COME  AND UNDERSTAND MORE ABOUT SARAWAK CUISINES HERE.

 

IMG_4708     IMG_3838   


IMG_4988

Thousand apologies.  I have to put this picture here due to technical error. Otherwise it will mess up my Tumblr. accounts posting and my Facebook posting.