An International Pie That Will Suit Everybody’s Taste Buds–Japanese Curry Flavoured Potato Pie

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INTRODUCTION 

As a Malaysian, I loved curry but I can’t cook curry that is spicy because I have to consider the palate of my kids. Beside curry, I loved curry puffs but I do not really like the filo type of pastry or pastry that requires deep frying… and… I like the type of pastry that is usually used to make apple pies or chicken pies.  Therefore, I have decided to make “curry pie” using Japanese curry cubes. 

When I first travelled  overseas donkey years back, I always craved for Malay or Nonya curries. However, most restaurants overseas did not sell these curries. The more popular curries was the Japanese curries. Initially, I never like Japanese curries because it was sweet and not spicy hot.

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I did not “touch” these curries for many years until very recently because of my kids. My kids liked curries but they can’t take the spiciness. When we cooked curry, they will fight for the potatoes. When they know there was a curry dish, before their meals, they would take a cup of cold water with them. During the meal, they would dip the curried potatoes in the cold water and ate them. At times, they would run around the dining table because the washed curried potatoes were still too spicy hot for them.

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Two three month’s ago, my kind neighbour gave us some Japanese curries that she cooked and I am very happy to see that my kids were eating happily and requesting for more. Since then, it was quite common for us to cook Japanese curries at home and personally, I have get used to the taste and fell in love with it. Bear with me, the next post will also be another Japanese curry post and I am sure you will like it.

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This recipe incorporated both the Western and Asian cuisines ingredients. It is a normal pie crust and you have full flexibility to shape the pie crust topping to your desired pattern. It is cooked with Japanese curry cubes which was not spicy such that it will be more acceptable to Western readers. To make it creamier like Western pie, I have added fresh cream and some parmesan cheeses. The potatoes and curry should be well liked by the Asian readers as it is very common that potatoes are used curry cuisines.

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WHAT IS REQURIED

For Potatoes Fillings (Make 8 tarts)

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  • 3-4 potatoes (boiled and cut into cubes)

  • 100 grams of cauliflowers

  • 60 grams of Japanese curry cubes (about 3 curry cubes depending on brand)

  • 1/4 cups of parmesan cheese (optional)

  • 1/2 cups of double cream or whipping creams (optional)

  • Pinches of salt and sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups of water

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For Pie Pastry

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  • 50 grams egg yolks (lightly beaten)

  • 250 grams plain flour (sifted)

  • 20 grams of icing sugar (optional)

  • 125 grams of chilled butter cut into cubes

  • 50 grams of icy cold water

  • 1 egg yolk for egg washing

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STEPS OF PREPARTION

Preparation of Potato Filling

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  • In a pot, put the water and curry cubes and bring to boil under high heat. Once boiled, turn to medium heat. Add cauliflowers and let it boil for 1-2 minutes. Add in potatoes cubes and boil for 2-3 minutes. Add in cream, salt, sugar and parmesan cheese. Boil for another one minute before off the heat. Let it cool and set aside for later use.

  • It is wise that you take some cooked curried potatoes and taste whether the fillings suits your taste buds. It have to be slightly high handed with your seasonings because this pie crust is not very sweet.

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Preparation of Pie Pastry and Baking The Pastry

  • Preheat your to 180 degree Celsius.

  • Beat together one egg yolk, few drops of cooking oil and 2 tablespoon of water. Stir well and sift into a container. Set aside for later egg washing.

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  • In a big mixing bowl, put butter cubes and sifted plain flour together. Use the finger tips to rub the butter cubes and flours together until it become crumby. Add in sifted icing sugars and continue to rub until well mix. Add lightly beaten eggs and water, mix slowly until it become a dough.

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  • Have a clinging wrap on the table, place the dough on top of the clinging wrap. Put another clinging wrap on top of the dough. Use a rolling pin to roll it into a flat sheet with about 0.5 cm thickness. Transfer the dough to the pie tin and use your hand to press the dough against the sides and make it as even as possible.

  • Roll the remaining pie pastry into a flat piece, cut to small strips and set aside for later use.

  • Fill the pie tins with the curried potatoes. Place the dough strips on top of the curried potatoes in your desired pattern. (Initially, as I am unsure whether I have adequate dough to made a net pattern, therefore I have started the pie with this pattern. Subsequently, since I have some dough left, I have put additional strips to make it into a net pattern.)

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  • Use a brush to brush pie crust evenly and baked in the oven for 15 minutes .

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  • Take the pie out and perform the second egg washing. Wash thoroughly and bake for another 5 minutes.  Note that this step is optional but I like to do this for all my pastries. Should the pie have signs of burnt, lower the temperature by about 20 degrees and continue baking.

  • Transfer to the wire rack for cooling. Let it cool completely before take the pies out from the pie tins. 

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CONCLUSION

If you like curry puff, you will like this. The pies were prepared after taking into consideration the needs of both Asian and Westerner’s taste buds. Of course, if you like to make the curried potatoes using the local curry paste, it is definitely acceptable. If you like it spicy hot, add in some chilli paste… But I preferred the sweet Japanese curried potatoes with a mild taste of cheeses and creams.

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Hope you like the post today and cheers.

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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Traditional Batik Cake or Hedgehog Cake

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Updated post on 10-10-2014

Have not prepare this cake for one year. A sudden craving made me wanted to prepare this rich and sinful cake to curb the sugar cravings. However, I have added 3 eggs to the recipe and using the boiling method.

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The simplified method are:

  • Melt the butter, add in condensed milk, beaten eggs and milo, cooked under medium heat until it starts to thicken. Transfer the mixture to the baking tin lined with Marie biscuits. Cover the base layer of Marie biscuits with the mixture. Put another layer of Marie biscuit on top and follow by another year of mixture. 

The shape is better and it wouldn’t melt in the hot weather. Of course, it will not be that creamy like the chilled version since it had been cooked. Happy trying.

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INTRODUCTION

Don’t bombard me this controversial version of batik cake or “hedgehog” cake. It is simplified by Guaishushu as he had omitted the cooking steps.

Guaishushu like traditional cakes for its simple to follow ratio. Due to lack of precise measuring equipment in the early days, most household cakes recipes are simple such as pound cakes.

Today, Guaishushu is not promoting the one number baking ratio. Instead, he is making a cake that truly reflects the lifestyles of the people living in Malaysia in the early 70’s to 80’s. This cake is a simple cake that Guaishushu’s have made a long long time ago, may be 30 years back. Then, there was no oven in the house and his family just have a very simple fridge.

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This was one of the easiest cake that he can make because it required no oven, no mixer and just need a fork and a spoon. In addition, the ingredients were household common breakfast items such as Milo beverage drink and Marie biscuits. There was no internet then and most recipes were by words of mouth. He can’t recall which relative gave him the recipe, what he could remember very clearly was the nice pattern in the cake.

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In Malaysia, the cake was called BATIK CAKE. Batik is a cloth that is traditionally made using a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. It is a beautiful cloth and usually wore by Malay in the Malay Peninsular.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batik)

Guaishushu had long wanted to make the cake but he did not have the recipe. He had in fact bought the Marie biscuits but did not have the time to search for a recipe. Coincidentally, one of the members in a Google Plus communities disclosed that her week end adventure was preparing a batik cake, Guaishushu immediately felt extremely happy and asked her for the recipe. The member was very kind to share her recipe and uploaded a picture. Guaishushu showed his wife the picture and his wife concurred that she have missed the cake too as she had not eaten this for ages.. With her recipe, Guaishushu started his preparation and within one hour, everything was done and send to the fridge for chilling.

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This recipe is a bit different from the original recipe in that Guaishushu do not cook the mixture. No cooking is actually required because all the ingredients are cooked ingredients. He opted just to mix and chilled to simplify the preparation. Of course, without cooking, the texture will be much softer and it can be treated as a type of chocolate sauce.

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The cooked version will have  a better shape but the texture is slightly chewy . Non cooked version will have a totally different texture, soft and smooth and rich in chocolate flavour.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 1 can of condensed milk (385 grams)
  • 385 grams of milo (breakfast beverage drink)
  • 385 grams of melted butter
  • 1 packet of Marie biscuits (about 250 grams) – a bit more or less is okay.
  • 3 eggs (optional) – If eggs are added, you will have to use the cooked version.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

There are two methods of preparation. Either you melt the butter, milo, eggs  and condensed milk in a sauce pan and cooked under low heat until it thickens. In this case, you cake will be chewy and more shapely (Please refer to the update post for procedures)  For better presentation, it is advised that you follow this method such that it had a nicely cut cake. But for taste wise, it is advise that you follow the second method below.

The second method is as in this illustration where no cooking is required, therefore, you final products will become very creamy, soft as if you are having some rich chocolate sauce with biscuits.

Chilled Version

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  • In a big mixing bowl, place melted butter and condensed milk together, use hand or machine whisk until texture is consistent.

  • Add in milo powder and mix until it is well mix.

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  • Arrange your Marie biscuits in the tin and pour some chocolate sauce over the biscuits. Add another layer and repeat the same procedures until all biscuits and batter are used up.

  • Freeze it in the freezer for 1 hour or until temporary set. Cut into the desired size and served immediately out from the fridge. The sauce will gradually melt in the room temperature and therefore you shouldn’t put in the serving plate too early especially in hot weather like Malaysia and Singapore.

  • Best serve cold as a form of dessert.

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Cooked Version

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  • Melt the butter, add in condensed milk, beaten eggs and milo, cooked under medium heat until it starts to thicken. Transfer the mixture to the baking tin lined with Marie biscuits. Cover the base layer of Marie biscuits with the mixture. Put another layer of Marie biscuit on top and follow by another year of mixture. 

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CONCLUSIONS

This is a twist of the traditional Batik Cake. I have purposely not to cook the batter since all ingredients are cooked ingredients. The texture and the level of enjoyment is totally different. While the traditional method of cooking the batter will provide you with better shaping but to me, its texture is compromised. I would prefer something soft, silky, rich and creamy full of chocolaty flavour to go with this simple plain biscuit. Whether or not this can still called a batik cake is irrelevant to me. The texture and taste will definitely a better alternative for me.

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The cake is made with simple ingredients, no complicating beating using expensive equipment, why not making one today and try. You can add nuts if you want to, can add some Nescafé if you prefer, change to some other types of biscuits if this suit your taste buds.  Remember, boiling method can give you a better shape but the texture is slightly harder. Chilling method is very creamy but a bit messy. If you asked me which do I prefer? For small gathering at home, chilling method. As gift or buffet style, boiling method…. Last but not least, I forgot to say that this taste like Asian Kit Kat.. Ha-ha.

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Cheers and have a nice day.

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  • 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.  

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Agar Agar is not the same as Agak Agak… Agar Agar is Red Algae !!

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INTRODUCTION

Agar Agar is a Malay word for red algae, apparently it has been accepted as an English word. It is hard for a lay man like me to explain agar agar, so  as usual, I will quote Wikipedia’s explanation of agar agar for reader’s understanding.

Per Wikipedia:

“The word “agar” comes from agar-agar, the Malay name for red algae (Gigartina, Gracilaria) from which the jelly is produced. It is also known as kanten, China grass, Japanese isinglass, Ceylon moss or Jaffna moss. 

Agar-agar is a natural vegetable gelatin counterpart. White and semi-translucent, it is sold in packages as washed and dried strips or in powdered form. It can be used to make jellies, puddings, and custards. For making jelly, it is boiled in water until the solids dissolve. Sweetener, flavouring, colouring, fruit or vegetables are then added and the liquid is poured into moulds to be served as desserts and vegetable aspics, or incorporated with other desserts, such as a jelly layer in a cake. “ (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agar)

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Agar agar is one type of traditional dessert commonly found in Singapore and Malaysia. It is easy to prepare and is a common item being served during Chinese New Year and other festivals. To make it requires no complicated kitchen utensils, just need to boil and mould. Traditionally, households used dried agar agar as shown in this illustration as the raw ingredient. However, in recent years, most households have started to use agar agar powder instead of dried agar agar.

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Traditionally, due to the lack of weighing scales, sophisticated kitchen utensils and written recipes, housewives usually prepare agar agar based on words of mouth using common kitchen items such as cups as the unit of measurement.

I was told that previously, the recipe is 1 cup of soaked agar agar will requires 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. I liked this type of simple ratio recipe, however, when I tried out, it just turned out to be extremely sweet and tough.

Well, that type of recipe may not be acceptable nowadays since we have so many resources available. In olden days, the challenge to make a good agar agar is to get hold of the correct ratio of water to agar agar. The end product shall be slightly chewy and not to soft like the current jelly. In order to achieve such texture, housewives some times dried their agar agar under the sun. They believed that the less water content in the agar agar, the better it is. In fact, some house hold cut it into one bite size, dried it under the sun until it is very chewy, store in a container and eat it as a snacks or sweets!

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In recent years. preparation of agar agar is not entirely based on texture since all ingredients can be measure rather accurately. It is rather easy but the challenge had shifted to the colour combination and moulding. If you have the relevant mould, you can create your own design based on your creativities. One of the most trendy agar agar moulding will be agar agar moon cake where the agar agar were mould into a moon cake shape. Inside the agar agar moon cake, there is a yellow colour balls resembling the egg yolk.

Again that is deal with planning, making and moulding. It can be rather stressful if there are no prior planning on the colour selection and mould selection. Of course, it can be as simple as just a single colour one flat piece of agar agar. The taste will definitely be the same but of course it is less impressive to your guest.

This illustration will only provide you with the simplest layered agar agar procedures. You can chose your own colour and shape of your mould. I have use some heart shape mould and the colour is purely selected for this illustration only. At home, we will not go until this extent and usually have one to two colours plus 2-3 layers of agar agars.

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NATURAL COLOUR SELECTION

There are a lot of natural colour available and you can totally throw away the artificial colouring, if you wish. Suggested colours are:

  • White and milky – condense milk, coconut milk, fresh milk
  • Chocolate – instant coffee paste, chocolate  paste or powder
  • Red colour – red colour dragon fruits paste
  • Yellow – mango paste
  • Green – pandanus paste
  • Violet or blue – pea flowers
  • Purple –black currant drink
  • Red – strawberry paste
  • Dots in the agar agar –  dragon fruits

Besides the above colours, many varieties of cut fruits can also be included. For example, yam cubes with coconut milk is a good combination. Coffee with milk is another welcoming combination to make into agar agar. Canned Longan or lychee with black currant flavoured agar agar is also a presentable dessert. All this is very much depend on reader’s creativities to prepare one that is acceptable to the guest or family members.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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I have intentionally left out the quantities as it is best that you follow the instruction on the the package of agar agar that you bought. Be it dried agar agar strips as shown above or agar agar powders, they will have detail instructions on the quantity of water required. It is best that you follow these instruction as every brands of agar agar will requires different liquid to reach the desired textures.

  • 1 package of agar agar strip (about 38g)
  • Some water (refer package)

  • Some sugar (refer package)

  • Some permitted food colouring of your choice or the type of natural colouring ingredients as mentioned above.

  • Some moulds of your preference

  • Few leaves of Pandanus leaves – bundled (optional)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash the dried agar agar by soaking in clean water for 1-2 minutes.

  • In a pot, put in the water as stated in the package and add dried agar agar. Use medium heat to bring the water to boil. Continue stirring until all the agar agar are dissolved.

  • Add in the required sugar into the agar agar solution and stirred until dissolve. Turn the heat to the minimal. You just need the heat to prevent the agar agar from solidifying while you do the layering. Alternatively, you can put your agar agar in a big basin of hot water.

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  • Take out some container of your choice, add in your preferred colouring and  pour into the mould.

  • Once done, put it in the freezer or chiller or under the fan and once it is set on the top, you can pour the second layer. How long will it take will depends on your room temperature, the concentration of your agar agar and the types of you container. For my today’s illustration, it is rather fast because the container is very small and my agar agar is quite concentrated.

  • Repeat the same for different layers until all the agar agar were used up.

  • Put in the fridge for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove from the mould, cut into your desired size and shape and put in your preferred serving plate.
  • Best served cold as a dessert.

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CONCLUSIONS

This is extremely simple. It is best that you based on what is stated in the package label to prepare the agar agar. Different brands will have different instructions.

Though this illustration is using traditional dried agar agar, you can use agar agar powder instead. The price for both dried agar agar and agar agar powder is rather economical and in my humble opinion, it is still a good choice of snacks or desserts. Variations are many and you have full flexibility to choose your desired flavour, colour and moulding. You guest will surely be impressed by your creativities.

Try this traditional Asian dessert and I am sure you wouldn’t regret preparing it. Hope you like the post today. Have a nice day and cheers.

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Tempeh Revisited – Sweet And Spicy Tempeh And Oven Baked Honey Tempeh

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INTRODUCTION

I never cooked tempeh before. I have tempeh in some Malay restaurants but I did not like it. However, after joining various Facebook Food Groups, I noted that tempeh is becoming popular in Singapore and I have decided to relook at this special fermented soya beans products. Like bean curd, taukwa, miso paste and etc, tempeh also uses soya beans as its ingredients, however, it’s nutritional benefits is much higher than the the above mentioned products due to differences in production methods.


TEMPEH DEFINED..

As per Wikipedia:

“Tempeh (/ˈtɛmpeɪ/; Javanese: témpé, IPA: [tempe]), is a traditional soy product that is originally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty. Tempeh is unique among major traditional soy foods in that it is the only one that did not originate from the Sinosphere cuisine.

It originated in today’s Indonesia, and is especially popular on the island of Java, where it is a staple source of protein. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but it is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities.[1] Tempeh’s fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins. It has a firm texture and an earthy flavor which becomes more pronounced as it ages. Because of its nutritional value, tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine, where it is used as a meat analogue.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempeh)

pic source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tempeh_tempe.jpg


WHY THIS DISH

As I was doing my weekly marketing in one of the supermarkets in Singapore, there was a sale of fresh tempehs. 5 packets of fresh tempeh of 6 inches x 2 inches cost only SGD 2. I think that is a bargain and I want to take this opportunity to explore more about tempeh.

I knew I will not like tempeh if I just deep fried it and pan fried with belachan (shrimp paste) sauces, That is what I usually saw in the Malay food stalls. I knew if I am going to like it, the sizes have to be bite size with rich flavour to cover its original special flavour.

I decided to use half of the tempeh I bought by following the recipes published in Loft 48’s Sweet, Spicy Crunchy Tempeh. I told the blogger that sweet and spicy is something that I can’t resist. However, instead of crunchy, I prefer mine to be chewy, Therefore I have chose to oven bake instead of using deep fried. 

For the other half, I have make it into honey “roasted” tempeh where it become a sweet and chewy tempeh!

Note that these 2 recipes are VEGETARIAN friendly, therefore, you can adjust to include other spices or herbs such as shallots, onions, garlics and etc..


RECIPE 1 – SWEET AND SPICY TEMPEH



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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 250 g of fresh tempeh
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons of chilli sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoons of dark soya sauce

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Cut the tempeh into cubes.
  • Place it in a baking tray and put in a cold oven.
  • Set the oven temperature to 180 degree Celsius and bake for 15 minutes. For ever 5 minutes, open the oven door and stir it to ensure consistent baking.
  • After the 15 minutes, take it out and set aside.

Note that your tempeh will shrink quite significantly due to water loss. Every oven temperature will slightly differs. The error tolerance level is quite high for this recipe. Therefore, if you find the oven is too hot (sides to start to get burnt) or too cold (no changes in appearance), you can adjust your temperature accordingly by plus or minus 15 degree Celsius.

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  • In a pot, put the water, chili sauce, dark soya sauce and sugar and bring to boil under high  heat.
  • Let it boil until the mixture become sticky and glossy or caramelized.
  • Add in the baked tempeh and stir it until the all the tempeh were coated with the sweet and spicy sauce.

I have opted to use my own home made chilli sauce and you can understand more about chilli and chilli sauce HERE, When you read my post on chilli, you will know how spicy is my tempeh!

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  • Add additional red cut chilli if desired. Sprinkle some finely chopped coriander leaves as garnish.
  • Dish is best served with white rice

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RECIPE 2 – OVEN BAKED HONEY TEMPEH



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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 250 g of fresh tempeh cut into thin slices
  • 3 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon of water
  • 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Cut the tempeh into thin slices.
  • Line the tempeh in a baking tray and put in a cold oven.
  • Set the oven temperature to 180 degree Celsius and bake for 10 minutes. For ever 5 minutes, open the oven door and stir it to ensure consistent baking.
  • After the 1o minutes, take it out and set aside.

NOTE

If you want it to be crispy, you will have to bake for additional 10 minutes.

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  • Put the honey, water and olive oil in a pot and bring to boil.
  • Let it boil for 2 minutes and add in the baked tempeh slices
  • Stir well until it is well mixed and the tempeh slices have absorbed all the sugar syrup.

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  • In a big plate, put the sugar and salt and stir until it is well mixed.
  • Add the honey coated tempeh slices, stir and ensure all the tempeh were coated with sugar and salt mixture.
  • Take out the tempeh, shake of the sugar and transfer to  another plate.
  • Good to be served as party snack.

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CONCLUSIONS

  • Tempeh is full of nutritional values. It is the only soya bean related dish that do not originated from Greater China Region but from the Island of Java. It is fermented soya bean and consumption of tempeh will provide more nutrition (especially vitamin B12) than other soya beans products.
  • Tempeh is also called vegetarian burger patties. These two ways of preparation have masked the special soy flavour of tempeh yet provide some chewy texture of tempeh. Be it snack or side dish, it will definitely be welcome by your guest.
  • With these two ways of cooking, I have changed my perception of tempeh. My kids aged 7 and 9 who tried the oven baked honey tempeh have give his thumb up ! Personally, I prefer the sweet and spicy tempeh which is rather addictive and can’t go without  a class of icy cold water!

Hope you enjoy my post and feel free to LIKE me at this blog’s sister page Guaishushu Facebook Page. Have a nice day!

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Special – What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 22-7-2013–Korma Chicken (科尔马鸡肉)

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UPDATED POST ON 16-2-2015 – Update with another set of images since i cooked the dish today.

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On 22 July, 2013, white rice served with:

  1. Korma Vegetable and Chicken       (蔬菜及鸡肉科尔马)
  2. Blanched Ladies Finger                 (青烫羊角豆)
  3. Chinese Cabbage (Napa) Soup       ( 大白菜汤)

To day, I have decided to cook Korma Chicken and Vegetable to expose my kids to curry dishes. As per my daughter’s request, no additional dishes were needed since she said she liked the dish and they have the Chinese Cabbage (Napa) soup which I cooked for lunch.

I agreed with her and just blanched some ladies finger to go with the Korma dish. If you want detailed pictorial instructions on cooking the Chinese Cabbage (Napa) Soup, you can follow the link above to Guaishushu’s Facebook Page.

 


KORMA CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES

 

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INTRODUCTION

I first tasted Korma chicken during my university days in Kuala Lumpur. It was in a Malay store  and when I take the first bite, I immediately fell in love with it as it is not spicy hot and the chicken is full of coriander fragrances. It had always in my mind because unlike other chicken curry dishes, the curry is beige in colour (depending on the spice mix) as opposed to the reddish yellow colour.

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Korma is actually a dish from South or Central Asia such as India and Pakistan. It is essentially cooked with a variety of spice powders of which the two most important spices are coriander  powder and cumin powder. It differ from the normal curry spice mix in that the ratio of turmeric powder is very small whereas for curry, the major portion of the spice mix is turmeric thus causes the dish to be yellowish in colour. In Malaysia, the Korma was cooked and thickened with coconut milk as compared to India and Pakistan where yoghurt were used. Nuts and peas  (such as cashew nuts and almonds) usually added to further thicken the gravy and enhance the taste.

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WHY THIS DISH

Recently, I found that my kids start to like curry dishes. However, before they eat the curry dishes, they will get ready a cup of cold water, take the curry chicken, dip into the cold water and start eating it. They still cannot take spicy hot food that were cooked with chilli. In view of this, I am thinking of letting them to try some Malay and Indian dishes that were not spicy hot. The first thing that comes to my mind is Korma chicken (ayam kurma in Malay). Therefore, last Saturday, when I frequented one  of the Indian Muslim spice stalls in Geylang Serai Singapore, I asked the same lady who gave me the Sarawak Laksa spice mix to pack me one Korma spice mix. You can read my previous “spice encounter” HERE.

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Another reason that I cooked this dish is for purposes of contributing to a food community in Google Plus whereby members were encouraged to contribute halal dishes during the month of Ramadan.

I love to eat Korma chicken. However, today, I have used more vegetables than meat in my Korma.  As my kids don’t really like to eat meat, hence I have used about 5 vegetables to make the dish. Should it be called a vegetable or chicken Korma is entirely up to you since it have almost equal portion of meats and vegetables in the dish. Smile

As this Korma dish uses small chicken chunks from drumsticks and vegetables, it is rather easy to cook, as such braising is consider not really necessary as compared to the traditional braising of lamb or big chicken pieces.

 


KORMA DISHES DEFINED

As per Wikipedia,

Korma, kormaa, qorma, khorma, or kurma is a dish originating in South Asia or Central Asia which can be made with yogurt, cream, nut and seed pastes or coconut milk. It is a type of curry.

It is a characteristic Indian dish which can be traced back to the 16th century and to the Mughal incursions into present-day Northern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Classically, a korma is defined as a dish where meat or vegetables are braised with water, stock, and yogurt or creamy azid (the name is in fact derived from the Hindi and Urdu words for “braise”). The technique covers many different styles of korma (azid).

The flavour of a korma is based on a mixture of spices, including ground coriander and cumin, combined with yogurt kept below curdling temperature and incorporated slowly and carefully with the meat juices. Traditionally, this would have been carried out in a pot set over a very low fire, with charcoal on the lid to provide all-round heat. A korma can be mildly spiced or fiery and may use lamb, chicken, beef or game; some kormas combine meat and vegetables such as spinach and turnip. The term Shahi (English: Royal), used for some kormas indicates its status as a prestige dish, rather than an everyday meal, and its association with the court.

 


WHAT IS REQUIRED?

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  • 1.5 cups of tomatoes cut into big pieces;
  • 1.5 cups of onions cut into big pieces;
  • 1.5 cups of potatoes cut into big pieces;
  • 1.5 cups of carrots cut into big pieces;
  • 1.5 cups of celery cut into big pieces;
  • 750 grams of chicken tights cut into big pieces;

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  • 200 gram of Korma mix (readily available in most Indian provision shops or spices stalls). However, If you can’t get hold of the ready mix Korma spice, the two most spices are coriander powder and cumin powder in the ration of about 4:2. All other spices shall include cardamom, anise powder, fennel powders, turmeric all of which shall need a 1-2 teaspoon only).
  • 1 cup of yoghurt (optional but I have used it as I like the korma to be rich in flavour but slightly sour).
  • 2 cups of fresh coconut milk .
  • 1/2 cups of cooking oil or ghee or butters.

 


STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a big mixing bowl, put the Korma spice powder and gradually add in water until it form a paste.
  • Have about 2-3 big tablespoons Korma spice mix and marinate for at least 15-30 minutes. As the chicken is quite small, therefore 15-30 minutes is deemed sufficient.

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  • In a big pot, put some cooking oils and fried the Korma spice mix until the fragrance starts to permeates the space.
  • Add 3 big cups of water, stir until the spices are well mixed.
  • Bring to boil until high heat. Note that as this is quite concentrated, you have to constantly stir it until it boils. This is to avoid the spice getting burnt in the bottom of the pot. Once boiled, turn the heat to medium or slow heat.

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  • Add in the potatoes, celery, carrots and onions and boiled for about 10 minutes;
  • Add in chicken chunks and boiled for about 20 minutes;
  • Add in tomato and boiled for another 5 minutes;
  • Add in yoghurt and coconut milk, seasonings (salt and sugar). Once boil, off the heat and let it sit in the pot for at least 5-10 minutes to let the ingredients further absorbed the gravy.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander leaves or mint and served with hot rice. Drizzle more yoghurt or coconut milk on top of the dish if necessary.

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CONCLUSIONS

  • Korma dish is a common dish among the Indian households in South and Central Asian. it is equally popular in Malaysia and Singapore especially among the Malay and Indian races. It is a form of curry dishes of which the main spices are coriander powder and cumin. It differs from curry in that the proportion of turmeric is very small and it can be cooked without chilli those making it rather “kids friendly”. The gravy were usually thickened with yoghurt or coconut milks and at times nuts such as cashew nuts and almonds were added.
  • The dish that were illustrated today uses lots of vegetables including celery which is not a common vegetable included in the curry dishes. However, celery is definitely a good choice as it could withstand rather long hours of cooking though the strong celery flavour were masked by the strong Korma aroma. As I have use drumstick meat, it is rather easy to cook and the texture is soft as compared to the breast meat.

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Hope you LIKE the post today and cheers.


 

 

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CCC – Cheesy Cassava Cake–A Modified Version of The Traditional Nonya Kuih Bengka Ubi

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INTRODUCTION

Tapioca or cassava is a staple root widely consumed in regions like Africa, Asia, Oceania and etc. It is easily propagated and commonly found in South East Asian countries. Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia are the top three exporter of tapioca in the world.

Tapioca or cassava cake is a very common household cake of any races (be in Chinese, Malay, Indian or other races) in Singapore and Malaysia. However, in the Peranakan cooking, Kueh Bengka Ubi is one the most famous items in its cuisines.

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There are generally two methods of making cassava cake, by steaming or baking. Chinese preferred to have its cassava cake steamed, as soft as possible and served with shredded coconut (at times this is needed as the cake are so soft and smooth that it is shapeless). On the other hand, the Nonya preferred to bake the cake using charcoal stoves or ovens. Usually, the baked cassava cake have a slightly burnt crusty top and the body is yellowish in colour and texture is rather “elastic”. It is very aromatic with a mixture of fragrances from pandanus leaves, coconut milks and eggs.

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CHEESEY CASSAVA CAKE

This recipe is my own without making reference to any recipes in the internet. As usual, I have prepared based on what I think is workable, memories on the cake that I have tasted before and one or two attempts a few months back.

This cake is different in its texture and its taste. Besides the normal fragrance of the traditional cassava cake, the  cake have a rich and cheesy fragrance. In addition, as you can infer from the pictures above, the texture is moist but not soggy or sticky. In fact, you can cut it into any shape that you want.

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The incorporation of cream cheese had made the cassava cake smoother and creamier. It helps to heighten the flavour of the eggs, coconut milk, butter and the cassava original flavour.

I have used small sago balls to enhance the texture. Grated cassava, under high heat can turn very sticky and subsequently become very chewy. The additions of sago balls somehow will help to sooth the texture making it even smoother.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 100 g of sago balls – soaked in water (Volume of water should be about 2 times of the sago ball and note that the balls will expand)
  • 150 g of butter
  • 200 g of cream cheese
  • 250 g of granulated sugar

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  • 4 eggs
  • 200 ml of thick coconut milks
  • 1 kg of finely grated tapioca or cassava. You can buy in the market and grate it yourself. If you want to grate it yourself, you will have to use the food processor to chop it as finely as possible, and then you can proceed to use  a blender (instead of an cake mixer) to perform the following steps. You will need to put in your chopped cassavas, eggs, coconut milks and blend it to as smooth as possible).
  • Red and green (pandanus) colouring (optional) – I have resorted to the use of red and green colouring this illustration as I find that the traditional cake are rather dull in colour and I want my cake to look more colourful and appetizing.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 degree Celsius.
  • Get ready a 8 inch x 8 inch baking tin. Slightly grease the tin with either butter or cooking oil. Dust some wheat flour if necessary.
  • In the mixing bowl, beat your butter, cream cheese and sugar using medium speed until evenly mixed. Note that the purpose of this step is not to let you have a fluffy cake like other cake recipes. The beating here is mainly a mixing step, a step to ensure that the butter and cream cheese are evenly mixed.

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  • Once well mixed, add in your eggs one at a time and followed by the coconut milk. You should only use low speed for this simple mixing purpose. Scrap out the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl to ensure that there are not cheeses sticking to the bowl.
  • At this stage, you will notice that the mixture become more and more watery which is normal and hence SPEED SHOULD BE LOW as long as mixing can be performed.

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  • Add in the grated cassava and soaked sago balls. “Beat” at the lowest speed possible. You will see that after 1-2 minutes of slow mixing, the liquid start to disappear as it was further absorbed by the sago balls.
  • Separate into approximately 4 equal portions. One portion with red colouring, one portion with green colouring and the other two portions maintain the original colour.

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  • Pour the uncoloured portion of the batter to the tin, followed by green and red portion. It is entirely up to readers as to what design you want your cake to cook like. For me , I have opted to have some simple big stripes design. As the batter is not very watery, it is rather easy for you to design your pattern.
  • Baked using 190 degree Celsius for about 30-45 minutes or until set. Until set means when you push the baking tin, the centre of the cake does not “vibrate”. Another test is that you insert a skewer in the centre of the cake, the skewer come out clean. However, as this is a cassava cake, cassava when hot can be slightly slimy and as long as you taste it is not raw, the cake is consider as cooked.
  • Leave the cake in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Cutting of cake is  best done 3-4 hours after baking to ensure that centre of the cake is completely cool. As long as when you cut the cake, there are some cake stick to the knife, your cake is considered as not cool completely.

  • Serving suggestions – you can serve with shredded coconut with white sugar and hot tea or coffee.
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CONCLUSIONS

  • This is a modified recipe by incorporating cream cheese and sago balls to the traditional cassava cake. The main aim is to smoothen the cake texture and make the cake creamier along with the fragrance of eggs, coconut milk and cassava.
  • Resulting from the modification, this will be totally different from the traditional cassava cake that you may have tried. It is soft, slightly springy and with cheesy coconut fragrance.  The shredded sugar coconut with heighten the palate and reach another higher dimensions.
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  • It is easy to cut into your desired sizes and looks presentable in tea party as a snack items.
  • If you think that you are a professional Nonya cake baker, you should try and tell me what is your opinion. If you are new to pastry making, this is one item that will not ruin your confidence.

Hope you LIKE it and have a nice day. Cheers

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Are you kidding? You don’t need oil to fry rice?– The authentic Sarawak Cuisine–Aruk Fried Rice

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“Nasik Aruk (originated from Sarawak). Nasik Aruk is a traditional Sarawakian Malay fried rice. Unlike Nasi Goreng, Nasi Aruk does not use any oil to fry the rice. The ingredients are garlic, onion and anchovies, fried to perfection with very little oil and then the cook will put the rice in. The rice must be fried for longer time (compared to frying rice for Nasi Goreng) for the smokey/slightly-burnt taste to absorb into the rice. It is a common to see Nasik Aruk in the food menu list at Malay and Mamak coffee shops and stalls.” (Source: http://wikitravel.org/en/Sarawak)


BACKGROUND INFORMATION

While I was discussing about the Sarawak Authentic Gift and Cuisines yesterday at the Kuching Food Critics Groups, I have found this interesting cuisine which was recommended by Wikitravel.org on Sarawak cuisine.

This dish has caught my attention because no oil was used in the preparation. I remembered ever eaten this type of fried rice before but only yesterday, I know it is by the name of Nasi Aruk. I have try to search for the meaning of Aruk but to my disappointment, I can’t find any thing to explain the origin. It could have been originated from Indonesia.

This simple fried rice is sort of commoner’s fried rice as none of the ingredients are expensive and costly. It is a special way of frying rice by the Malay families usually using left over rice from previous day.

While it is considered as a commoner fried rice, it unique way of cooking have rendered it to be one of the authentic Sarawak cuisines and  served at high class hotel and restaurants.

A quick review of the ingredients and method of cooking will surely tell you that it is a healthy alternatives. It has minimum condiments, no oil, high minerals and vitamins and therefore top choice for a healthy diet.

 

WHY THIS DISH

My kids are back to their hometown and only left with my wife and myself in the house. As I just want something simple but spicy, I  have decided to prepare some Aruk fried rice for both of us.

 



WHAT IS REQUIRED

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The ingredients of the fried rice is very basic. Note that no quantity will be given here as it is really at your discretion and the only two ingredients which I think cannot be substituted in order to qualify it to be Aruk Fried Rice are the anchovies and of course the rice. The ingredients are:

  • Some left over white rice (today I have cooked the rice specially for this which is not necessary at all. Left over white rice is easier to fry especially if you keep it in the fridge).
  • Eggs (optional) – I think previously eggs were not added but now with the affluence of the society, eggs seems to be more and more “misused” in our cuisines;
  • Red chili cut into small pieces – When my kid were not in, it is our party time and I have added lots of small red chili (in Malay called chili padi) which is extremely spicy. However, it can be substituted with some big red chili or no chili at all;
  • Sugar or other seasonings or condiments to taste
  • Some big onions and shallots – diced into small cubes.
  • Some anchovies and dried baby shrimps – Traditionally, only anchovies (ikan billis) were used but since I have a lot of these baby shrimps, I have decided to throw some in.
  • Some belachan (shrimp paste) – I have some belachan powder with me so use the powder instead of belachan chunks.

STEPS OF PREPARATION

 

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  • In a big non stick frying pan, put the chopped red cut chili, onions and shallots. Fried for a while until the aroma starts to emit;
  • Washed the anchovies and baby shrimps quickly with water and put them in the pan and continue frying until they are crispy.
  • Make a whole in the center, crack your eggs and let the eggs dried up. Break the eggs using the frying utensils into small chunks.
  • Add in the white rice and continue frying until well mixed.

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  • Add in belachan powder and  condiments like light soya sauce or sugar or dark soya sauce or salt to taste. Stir until well mixed.
  • Let it sit in the pan for a while to let the moisture dries up and get slightly burnt (if you want some Smokey or burnt flavor but you have to closely monitor this). Scope up the rice to serve when hot.
  • In the third picture, I have purposely left some rice in the frying pan to show readers that the pan is very clean and nothing stick to it.

 

Frying the eggs without oil

Since I did use any oil for the frying the rice, I have decided not to use any oil to fry the egg either.

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  • Heat up the frying pan and crack an egg. Add in some water to the side and cover your frying pan for 1-2 minutes or until the water dries up.
  • Scope up the egg and serve.
  • If you are using medium heat to heat the pan, you can continue heating it after you add the water until all the water evaporated. If you are using high heat, you have to act faster and off the heat immediately to avoid your egg being burnt.
  • The water added should not be too much, just a bit and add it as far from the egg as possible. It is ok if the water touch the egg.
  • In the first picture, you can see that right side of egg have more bubbles and right side of eggs have less. This is because I have added the water too early and the water mixed with the egg whites which have yet to solidify. On the right sides,  I have added  the water only when the egg white start to harden. So you should have to ensure that the whites are harden before you add the water and it should be added gently.
  • The steam will cooked the upper most layer of the yolk and therefore the egg yolk would flow out.

THE OUTPUT

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  • This is the fried rice with the fried egg (egg is optional).
  • The taste is slight burnt, spicy and full of onion and anchovies fragrance. It was fabulous.
  • Look at top part of the rice. It is some sort of dried squid delicacies that was left over from the Chinese New Year. I have “re-bake it” make it crispy and add it to the rice.
  • At time, this fried rice is serve with sliced cucumbers or other garnishing ingredients like Chinese celery or spring onion.
  • As no oil is involved and using the dry frying method, the fried rice will be slightly dry and you have to eat it slowly and best with some drinks.


CONCLUSIONS

This village style of traditional fried rice bring back a lot of memories for those grew up with. With the increase of household disposal income, less and less people are willing to prepare this as its ingredients are too basic. However, it is definitely a choice of healthy food because of the following reasons:

  • No fats were used in the frying the rice (and in my case frying of eggs also);
  • Anchovies are full of vitamins and minerals specifically calcium and iron which is good for bones development;
  • Chili, onions and shallots are herbs that are beneficial to our body;
  • The fact that it is dry and cannot be eaten faster is not necessary a disadvantage and it can be construed as an advantage. Your body needs time to receive the signal for food that downed to your throat. “Dry” means you need to chew slowly and you will eat less as compared when it is watery and moist. As a result, you will feel full faster and that will aid in one’s weights management program.
  • Basic ingredients means that the fried rice is good for those who is cost conscious and time of preparation are very short.

Not all meals need to be elaborated. At times, simple meal is desired and is it not SIMPLE IS ELEGANT?

Thanks for reading the post!