Auspicious Day With Auspicious Porridge–Eight Treasure Porridge (八宝粥)

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INTRODUCTION

It is such an auspicious day that I am writing this post. I swear it is not pre-planned. Today is Mid Autumn Festival aka Moon Cake Festival, it is a festival that is celebrated by all Chinese worldwide. As request by one of the Google communities, I have written a brief write up on Mid Autumn Festivals HERE which you may want to have some casual reading.

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The cuisine that I am going to post today is a vegetarian dish called 8 treasure porridge (八宝粥). There are so many versions of this one pot dish in the internet but the recipe that I am going to share is from my kind neighbour. She liked to cook this porridge and after I tried it for the very first time, immediately I fell in love with it. Since then, I had liked to cook this dish in important festivals such as Chinese New Year Day where the whole family were supposed to be on vegetarian diet for one day.

I have cooked this yesterday not because of the festival, but because I craved for the porridge since I am still on my vegetarian diet. I gave two boxes of the porridge to my daughter’s schoolmates mother, she immediately asked for the recipe when she reached home. She commented that the taste of the porridge was totally different from what she had tasted in the vegetarian stalls.

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I did not know where my neighbour get the recipe but I found that there are certain ingredients that we used were not found in other 8 treasure porridges sold by the vegetarian stores. Both the ingredients were mock meat acceptable to all vegetarians and without these two ingredients, the taste will definitely be different.

As this was our dinner last night, I did not have much chances to take pictures and the poor lighting make the picture a bit disappointed. But trust me, this is a very different 8 treasure porridge and it is definitely good for casual dining or a presentable dish in important Buddhist religious occasions.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Though the name is 8 treasure porridge, however, we tend to have more than 8 ingredients and I do not think all my ingredients are in the picture.  I should have used 11-12 ingredients here. Most of the ingredients are nuts and a few ingredients and some mock meat.

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  • 1 cup of uncooked rice – not in picture (白米)

  • 1 cup of jujube (红枣)

  • 1 cup of peanuts (花生)- soaked

  • 1 cup of cashew nuts (腰豆)

  • 1 cup of lotus seeds (莲子)- soaked

  • 1 cup of gingko nuts  (白果)- soaked

  • 1 cup of red carrots (cut into cubes) (红萝卜)

  • 1 cup of dried mushrooms (soaked and cut into cubes) – not in picture (冬菇)

  • 1 cup of mock duck (must have) – (素鸭)

  • 1 small packet of “fat Choy” or “black moss” (发菜)

  • 1 packet of about 2 sheets of mock goose (素鹅)(must have)

  • 6-8 cups of plain water (if not adequate, you can add in water later)

IMG_6543 Mock Duck

IMG_6556 Mock Goose

Please do not ask me why they were called mock duck or mock goose, frankly, I do not know. While the shape is difference, the taste is nothing like duck of goose. Both are made of wheat gluten, oil, soya sauce, sugar, salt and packed with proteins. They do have their distinct flavour but I can’t describe exactly what is the flavour. They can generally found in Chinese grocery stores that sell vegetarian supplies. These two items are the two most important ingredients in this porridge and without it, the taste will be different.

 IMG_6561 “Fat Choy” or “ Black Moss”

This a type of moss now commercially cultivated in the Gobi dessert and Chinese Government do place a restriction in harvesting the moss. The meaning of having these mosses signifies prosperous since the syllables in Chinese name is the same of both “Fat Choy” and “Black Moss”. I hereby quote what Wikipedia had explained about this moss.

“Fat Choy (Nostoc flagelliforme), also known as faat Choy, fa cai, black moss, hair moss or hair weed is a terrestrial cyanobacterium (a type of photosyntheticbacteria) that is used as a vegetable in Chinese cuisine. When dried, the product has the appearance of black hair. For that reason, its name in Chinese means “hair vegetable.” When soaked, this vegetable has a very soft texture which is like very fine vermicelli.” (Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_choy)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing all other ingredients

  • Clean all ingredients (except mock duck and mock goose) and you may want to soak the peanuts and lotus seeds (if you buy the dry type). Cut into almost the same size as the peanuts and set aside for the later use.


Frying the mock goose

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  • In a frying pan, have some cooking oil under high heat, fry the mock goose until crispy. When cooled, cut into thumb size pieces and set aside for the later use. (Note: While it is good to have minimum oil in the cooking, however, without performing this step, the fragrance will not be there. However, you can try using “air fryer” but I am unsure whether the taste will be the same.)

  • Depending on your preference, you can use the same oil to stir fry the mock duck, gingko, lotus seeds, mushrooms, carrots etc. for a few minutes such that the mock goose and mushroom aromas blends with the other ingredients. Set aside for later use. This illustration bypassed this step to minimize the usage of cooking oil in the porridge and the taste will not be compromised much.

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  • Clean your rice and place in the rice cooker. Add in all other ingredients except “fat Choy”. Select porridge function for cooking the porridge.

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  • Just a few minutes before the porridge function was done, add in fat Choy and seasonings. Suggested seasonings are light soya sauce, salt, sugar or other flavour enhancers. Note that some of the ingredients already have some seasonings, please take some porridge out for tasting before you put the condiments.

Note that you can also use pressure cooker but remember to select the porridge function if it have. Alternatively, I have ever cooked the porridge over the stove and in this way it is easier for you to monitor the desire texture of your porridge though the cooking time may be longer. As long as all ingredients are soft, the porridge is considered as done.

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  • Best served hot with “you tiao” – a type of Chinese plain dough fritters or additional crispy “mock goose”. Both these are optional.

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CONCLUSION

As I have said earlier, I fell in love with this special porridge when I have my first bowl years back. I  am confident you will like it too. Bookmark this page for your future usage. You may want to cook it during Chinese New Year like me!

Hope you like the post today. Cheers

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If you are looking for more CHINESE NEW YEAR COOKIES,  you may want to visit this post summarizing all relevant Chinese New Year Cuisines.

Chinese New Year Cookies21


For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .

 

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Easy Peasy Barley Bean Curd Sheets Sweet Soup (腐竹薏米甜汤)

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INTRODUCTION

This will be a straight forward short post.

A light, sweet and smooth desserts that will made me hard to resist whenever this dessert was served. It is a flexible dessert and if you wish, you can add in additional ingredients such as gingko nuts or lotus seeds. However, I have opt to use peanuts as I have never like the taste of gingko nuts. The peanuts blends equally well in the soup and in fact, in my humble opinion is a much better combination. The use of pressure cooker had reduce the time of preparation considerably.


 

WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 1/2 cup of peanuts
  • 6 pandanus leaves tied in a bunch
  • 1 packet (rather standard size) of dried bean curd sheets specially for desserts purposes.
  • 1 cup of rock sugar or granulated sugar
  • 8 cups of water

 

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash the pandanus leaves and tie into a bundle. Set aside for later use.
  • Wash the peanuts and barley thoroughly and put in a pressure cooker and boiled for 25 minutes.
  • Release the pressure and put in the bean curd sheets, rock sugar and candied winter melons and boiled for another 10 minutes.
  • Release the pressure and preferably served hot or chilled.

Variations

Variations can include addition of gingko nuts, lotus seeds and jujubes.  Beaten eggs can also be added to thicken the sweet soup.

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CONCLUSION

  • This is a traditional Chinese desserts that I can never resists. It is easy to cook especially with the pressure cooker. It is a very light dessert, smooth, sweet and suitable for almost all occasion. Barley is researched to have the  capabilities of reducing lower cholesterol levels. Chinese believed that the sweet soup will be good and nutritional to the complexion and skin conditions. It is also believed that pregnant women who have taken this dessert regularly will give birth to a fair and chubby baby.
  • Try to make this simple desserts for your family. Remember that you can always tailor this to suit your taste buds and if you like Gingko nuts, go ahead as gingko nuts is beneficial to you brain and improved your memory.

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

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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.

Macao and the Nobly, Elegant Lotus

National/State Flower Series – East Asia 7 – Macau Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China – Nelumbo Nucifera

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“Nelumbo nucifera, known by a number of names including Indian lotus, sacred lotus, bean of India, or simply lotus, is one of two species of aquatic plant in the family Nelumbonaceae. ……… This plant is an aquatic perennial. Under favorable circumstances its seeds may remain viable for many years, with the oldest recorded lotus germination being from that of seeds 1,300 years old recovered from a dry lakebed in North Eastern China. (Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelumbo_nucifera)”

Nelumbo Nucifera is  the “state flower” for Macao Special Administrative Regions of People’s Republic of China. Beside Macao, India and Vietnam are also using this flower as national flower. But that should not be confused with Bangladesh’s national flower, water lily (睡莲)which belong to the family of Nymphaea.

Species Information

Scientific name:

Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn

Family: Nelumbonaceae
Common name(s): Lotus
Chinese name: 古莲,莲花,荷花, 芙蓉

Lotus is a perennial aquatic plants with a long history and apparently is a leader in the midsummer seasonal flowers. In the heat of summer waves, pools were full of green lotus leaves that waved slowly and its flowers were emitting a fragrance resembling fragrance from the bathing beauties. Hence, In Chinese,  lotus were also called “gentlemen flowers 花中君子” or “flowers of beautiful ladies 花中美人”

  Pic courtesy of www.micefinder.com

Macau and lotus

  • A dike north of Macau which connects to Zhua Hai and Lianfeng San was said to look like a lotus stem. Therefore, in ancient times, Macau was described as a lotus that floats in the open sea and at times being called a lotus island. Due to its unique shapes, Macao people believed that Macau was the reincarnation of a lotus flower and called Macau as the land of the treasure lotus (“莲花宝地“)。
  • Macao people loves lotus as they believed that lotus symbolizes good fortune, peace and holiness. Macau’s literature, myths, proverbs, dramas and couplets etc. often uses lotus as an avenue to express their feelings. Macao peoples daily lives, thoughts and feelings are closely associated with lotus and a bond have been established. People generally planted lotus as a hobby. There are many cultures that have elements of lotus such as lotus wordings in their door couplets.
  • Macau’s also has a lot of streets, villages and buildings that have the name associated with lotus, such as Lotus Hill(莲花山), Lin Fong Temple (莲峰庙), Lotus Stream Temple (莲溪庙), Lotus Bridge (莲花大桥), and so on.

Macao Lotus Bridge stamp(Pic Courtesy: http://gulfmannmaxicard.blogspot.sg

  • Lotus Bridge  is Macao’s third bridge with a  length of 1.3 km connecting the islands of Taipa Macau and Zhuhai Hengqin Bridge. The bridge greatly facilitated people entering to Macau International Airport and Ka Ho Container Port and Oil Terminal from mainland China. This had brought  prosperity and developments to Macao  as a whole.
  • Lotus is also the official flower emblem of Macao and appeared in Macao’s flags. It is also a common item in Macao’s stamps and currency.

                   

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  • The Lotus Square or Golden Lotus Square (Chinese: 金蓮花廣場; Portuguese: A Praça Flor de Lodão) is an open area of Macau Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. The area features the large bronze sculpture Lotus Flower In Full Bloom (Chinese: 盛世蓮花) and is somewhat akin to the Golden Bauhinia of neighboring Hong Kong.  (PLEASE REFER HONG KONG’S STATE FLOWER HERE). The lotus flower in full bloom symbolizes the everlasting prosperity of Macau. The sculpture was presented by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China in 1999 to mark the Macau sovereignty transfer from Portugal to the PRC. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_Square)

Finally, I have finished my national flowers for East Asia and a summary will be compiled for your reference soon. Hope you enjoy the post.

 

Thank for reading.