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)- 6-8-2013

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It is another day and time to submit my report.  On 6th August 2013, white rice served with:

1 Steamed Tofu With Eggs 豆腐蒸蛋
2 Blanched Chinese Lettuce With Fermented Bean Curd Sauce 白腐乳生菜胆
3 Sweet corn pork rib soup 玉米排骨汤
4 Salted vegetable duck soup 咸菜鸭

You may be wandering why there are 2 soups. The reasons is easy. I am testing my new pressure cooker. I am using the new pressure cooker to cook my salted vegetable duck soup.


SWEET CORN SOUP

 

Very simple soup and some soup that’s well like by the kids. When I was young, my mum never use sweet corn to made soup. This soup was introduced to me by my mother in law when my kids were born. Now, i also started to like this soup. I have forgotten to put carrots and mushrooms so it is a rather pure sweet corn soup boiled with goof berry and sweet dates.

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BLANCHED CHINESE LETTUCE WITH FERMENTED BEAN CURD SAUCE

This is a vegetarian dish. However, if you are a vegetarian by religion, please omit the shallot oil. The simple recipe is to blanch the Chinese lettuce with boiling water (with drips of oil to preserve the colour) for about 1 minute. For the sauce, get ready 2 cubes of Chinese fermented bean curd (either white or red color), mash it, add a tablespoon of water, drips of sesame oil or shallot oils, 1 teaspoon of sugar (no more salt as fermented bean curd is very salty). Mixed well and pour on top of the blanched vegetables. Sugar is to negate the saltiness of the fermented bean curd.
Variation: Miso paste can also be considered.
Time of preparation – 15 minutes or less

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STEAMED TOFU WITH EGGS

You can refer the recipe in the links in Guaishushu’s Facebook Page as above. A kid friendly dish, soft and smooth with full flexibility.

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SALTED VEGETABLE DUCK SOUP

As explained above, a dish that I cooked using my new pressure cooker. It only take me about 1 hour to cook until the desired texture and taste. That is totally not possible if we cooked using the traditional way. A separate post will be issue to give a detail description on the method of preparation.

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Hope you like the post today. Happy reading and have a nice day ahead.

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 5-8-2013

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1 Shrimp paste chicken 虾酱鸡
2 Lotus root pork rib soup 莲藕排骨汤
3 Blanched kailan with pork slices 芥兰猪柳
4 Fresh Coriander Fried with Fish Cake and Bean Curd 鱼饼豆腐炒芫茜
5 Spicy Seaweed Stripes 香辣海带丝

Fresh Coriander Fried with Fish Cake and Bean Curd (鱼饼豆腐炒芫茜)

This is a small household dish that you can hardly find in restaurants or even recipe books. Generally, Fish cakes and Taukwa (beancurd of a lesser moisture content) were cut into small pieces. Have some oil in your wok, stir fried some chopped garlic or/and shallots until golden brown or until the aroma starts to emit. Add the cut taukwa or fish cakes and fried until well mixed. Since both taukwa and fish cakes are cooked, there is no need to stir fried very long. The objectives of stir frying is just to let the taste blends. Add in fresh coriander leaves (alternative: Chinese celery 芹菜), add seasonings of your choice and scoop out to serve. Seasoning I have chosen this time is sugar, salt and dark soya sauce. Because there are fish cakes and I hate the fishy smell, I have added some white pepper. This is a dish that should be well liked by both children and adults and I usually cooked this to go with porridges or white rice.

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Shrimp paste chicken (虾酱鸡)

This is an extremely popular Chinese dish in Singapore.  In any stall located in the coffee stops that sells dishes to order (煮炒),you will bound to find this dish in the menu. Most families include mine will order this dish when we eat out!  The recipe of this dish is adapted from  http://www.noobcook.com/prawn-paste-chicken. It is rather unusual to have a Chinese dish that were made with Belachan or shrimp paste and become so popular. So far, I have never taste such dish before even in Malaysia.

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Spicy Seaweed (香辣海带丝)

This is a dish that were my relatives brought from Kuching Sarawak. I have ever explicitly said that I do  not like seaweed dishes and I can’t stand the  smell. My relatives who come here and visit me here brought some vegetarian spicy seaweed and what surprises me is that there  were no such “funny sea smell” which I can hardly described. This is the first time I have a seaweed dishes that do not have such strange smell and I finished half of the plate. My relatives claimed that this is another species of seaweed and do not have such smell and I am in doubt whether or not this is true…

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Blanched Kailan With Pork Slices (芥兰猪柳)

A simple dish just blanced the Kailan, add seasonings and set aside. Prior to this, pork slices were marinated with light soya sauce, sesame oil, pepper and some corn flour. Blanched the pork slices and placed it on top of the vegetable, sprinkled with sesame seed. I have mentioned that I am trying to blanch my vegetable dish instead of stir fried the vegetables. So far, I have blanched most types of vegetables and apparently no complaints from the family members.

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Hope you have a nice day and cheers.

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 25-7-2013

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On 25-7-2013, white rice served with:

Miso Pork Belly 味增五花
Tofu, Meatballs and Glass Noodles Soup 豆腐鱼丸冬粉汤
Ginger and Chinese Fermented Bean Braised Fish 姜丝豆酱焖鱼
Blanched Choy Shym with Prawns 虾球菜心

Oh! It is time for me to submit my daily report card! Haha! Tired as I have a lot of “projects” today.

As for the dish, all are rather common dish except the miso pork belly which is a new dish “invented” by me.


Miso Pork Belly

The inspiration of this dish is from a famous Chinese dish fermented bean curd fried meat(南乳炸肉). While the fermented bean curd (腐乳)belong to Chinese and Miso is the fermented bean sauce of the Japanese. Therefore, I have decided to “invent” this dish purely using Japanese condiments. Unlike the Chinese fermented bean curd meat dish, the miso paste is much tastier and therefore this dish did not use additional condiments except some sugar to enhance the flavor. Miso is quite salty and the sugar will helps to negate its saltiness to a more balance taste. This newly created dish is a dish that utilizes Japanese ingredients but prepared using the Chinese cooking method! Therefore, shall I called it a fusion dish?

Frankly speaking, a rather unhealthy dish and I do not think I will cook it that often. I will in my next attempt try to use chicken cubes or fish slices or even prawns. I strongly believed the taste will definitely blend.

If you want to know how to prepare, you can follow this link to Guaishushu’s page’s for pictorial illustration.

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Pineapple Tarts

Besides that, today, I have made a batch of closed version of pineapple tarts. The intention is actually for the celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, a Muslim festival. I always think that as a Malaysian or a Singaporean PR, I shall play my part to contribute something for this celebration.

I am not entirely satisfied with this batch because the skin have a slight crack. However, I know that the reason is because I am too “greedy”. I have used too little dough for my filling causing my tarts to crack when the pineapple jams expand. That is not a great deal and I am still likely to share the recipe with readers soon. Again, the method of preparation is totally different from what you may find in the internet as I have discovered this method unintentionally during my Chinese New Year preparation.

 

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Steamed Sugar Cake (Pak Tong Koh) or 白糖糕

I have a recipe book in the balcony where i sit and when my boy looked inside the book, he found the type of Chinese steamed cake that he liked. He immediately asked me to prepare. I have hold up this “assignment” for more than a month and as I was clearing my kitchen shelves, I found some rice flours that have been with me for quite a while. I thought why not I just prepare for him so that he will not pester me any more. I cooked the rice flour, let it fermented for 8 hours and after cooking the dinner, I steamed it and this is what i get!

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I have yet to cut it as  I want to leave it overnight and completely cooled. It looks ok and who know what is inside like. Hope everything is okay.


Okay, that is what I cooked today. For those readers who are new, I have to reiterate that this series was created with the intention for people to “peep” into my kitchen and see how I rotate my dish, create my dish and it is best that readers take this as a casual reading. Pick up something that you don’t know and share with me things that I may have done wrong. Again, long recipes will be posted in this blog and short recipes will be posted in the Guaishushu’s Facebook Page.


Hope you like the post today. Have a nice day and cheers.

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What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 18-7-2013

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On 18 July 2013, porridge serves with a vegetable dish and a meat dish. The vegetable dish is baby pak choi with oyster sauce (耗油小白菜)and braised meat (chicken and pork belly) (卤肉)。

I seldom cooked porridge for dinner. Tonight, I suddenly have the urge to have porridges since my wife and my kids also like to have porridges. I have braised some meat and a vegetable dish to go with it and of course, some left over dishes from last night.

Today, when I searched my fridge, I found that I have a box of bosc pears (博斯克梨) and some cut dragon fruits (龙珠果) which is already in my fridge for quite a while. The pears are very ripe and I thought I might just make some desserts for the family and here comes my Chinese Style Poach Pear and Dragon Fruits Desserts with Rock Sugar (博斯克梨龙珠果炖冰糖)。You may want to know how to make the dessert by following the links to Guaishushu’s Facebook Page.

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

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What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 11-7-2013

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On 11-7-2013, White rice served with:

1 Cabbage Pork Rib Soup 包菜排骨汤
2 Braised Bitter Gourd with Roast Meat 苦瓜焖烧肉 
3 Braised pork slice with pickled lettuce 香菜心炆肉片
4 Foochow Preserved Mustard Bee Hoon 福州糟菜米粉汤

As I am making some pastry this afternoon, I am rather busy and again simple meal. I cooked the cabbage soup in the afternoon and tonight I just add a simple dish, pork slices cooked with canned pickled lettuce. Just bring some water to boil, add pork slice, canned pickles, garlic slice and the cooked for 15 minutes and the dish is ready. I know it is my kids favourite dish, therefore no further dish required.

The braised bitter gourd with roast meat is cooked by my wife’s god mother. My wife loves bitter gourd and she will always cooked this for us as an additional dish. It is fun to note that now both my kids are “brave” enough to bitter gourd at their age. As I have bought a bitter gourd without knowing that there another bitter gourd dish today, therefore, expect to see another bitter gourd soup in the table..

I know not many Chinese family cooked cabbage soup including my mother in law, but I love to cook this. Most elders do not like to cook cabbage soup because at times, the vegetable will have some “funny” taste. However, in my humble opinion, to avoid that “funny” taste,  at the time when you put the cabbage, the water must be boiling under high heat.

Today, there is no pictorial illustration for the dish at the dish are rather simple. However, you can still visit Guaishushu’s Facebook Page for other dishes.

LETTING THE KIDS EXPLORING NEW DISHES

I would like to share with readers how I get my child accustomed to what I cooked and explore new dishes.

For any new dishes that are not “kids unfriendly” meaning too sour, too spicy etc, they have to taste at least taste 1-2 tablespoons and tell me why they don’t like it. They are not supposed to throw away the food in their month as long as the food do not have bones and etc. If what they said make sense, I will not cook that particular dish or cook a smaller quantity. At times, I will still cook the dish that they initially don’t like but add in some new ingredients that they like so that everybody is happy. For example, if I cooked bitter gourd, I will usually add in some canned mushrooms. I will tell them the “ratio” of bitter gourd to canned mushrooms is say 1:3 meaning eating 1 pieces of bitter gourd will entitled them 3 pieces of mushrooms. It really helps and sorry for being mean to my kids…Haha

They are rather polite at their age. They have “forced” themselves to eat the bitter gourd knowing that this is their mother’s favourite vegetables. Deep in my heart, I appreciate their thoughtfulness and hope that this will continue when they are independent in the future.

HOPE YOU LIKE THE POST TODAY AND HAVE A NICE DAY.

 

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