Special Compilation of Sarawakian Cuisines

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INTRODUCTION

Since I started my blog about a year ago, I have blogged quite a number of Sarawak cuisines and I will add as and when I have blogged about new Sarawak cuisines. Some of these cuisines are uniquely Sarawak cuisines. Take a look and see what are these cuisines and remember, if you travel to Sarawak, do try these cuisines locally. For those who are interested to read more about Sarawak,

“Sarawak  is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Known as Bumi Kenyalang (“Land of the Hornbills“), Sarawak is situated on the northwest of the island, bordering the Malaysian state of Sabah to the northeast, Indonesia to the south, and surrounding Brunei. It is the largest Malaysian state. The administrative capital is Kuching, which has a population of 700,000.Major cities and towns include Miri (pop. 350,000),Sibu (pop. 257,000) and Bintulu (pop. 200,000)”. As of the last census (2010), the state population was 2,420,009.“  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarawak)

As per Sarawak Tourism’s “top 10 iconic food” in 2012 are:

  • Sarawak Laksa (included in this post)
  • Kolo Mee (included in this post)
  • Ayam Pansuh – Chicken cooked in bamboo tube
  • Midin Belacan – Jungle fern fried with shrimp paste
  • Ikan Terubok Masin – A hard to get river estuary fish
  • Umai – Shashimi alike but Sarawak version with different seasonings and condiments
  • Kompia – A traditional Foochow bread that is bagel look alike
  • Terong Dayak Soup – A special breed of yellow brinjal commonly found in Sarawak
  • Dabai – A black colour fruit that local Chinese called is olive and can be preserved to be used as side dish for porridges or rice
  • Kampua Noodle – A type of Foochow noodle which was rather similar to kolo mee as mentioned above but mostly served in plate with slightly different type of noodles and condiments.

Being in Singapore, I have difficulty to blog a lot of the cuisines from my home town due to the lack of raw material. However, the effort continues. If you are keen to learn more about Sarawak Cuisines, you can visit my humble page of Authentic Sarawak Food and History. However, I have to apologize the page had not been updated for quite a while due to time constraints. I also wanted to take this opportunity to invite interested Sarawakian readers who had a passion in Sarawak Cuisines to take over this Facebook Page.

Please click on the pictures or blue colour links to go to the respective recipes.


Noodles Dishes

Sarawak Laksa – Cooking Illustration – A unique laksa that Most Sarawakian will be proud of. You can refer to here where I have written some concise history for ICNN travel report. In this post, I have written a very detail method of preparation for this special laksa dish.

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Sarawak Laksa – Recipe – Most of the Sarawak household have cooked the laksa by using the ready pre-mix laksa paste. Being in Singapore, I have decided to try preparing my own. Overseas readers, if you are keen to prepare your own Sarawak laksa paste, you can read this post and start your own adventures.

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Sarawak Laksa – History . Why Most Sarawakian are very proud of this special laksa dish, but there is a lack of literature write up on the history and evolution of this laksa dish and why is it unique to Sarawak. If you want to go a bit further to understand the history of commercially sold Sarawak Laksa paste, you can read this short history of Sarawak Laksa paste.

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Sarawak Kolo Noodles or Dry Noodles – Sarawak Kolo noodles is rather special type of dry noodles (干捞面)that most if not all Sarawakian will be proud of. A light colour dry noodles and comfortably sits after Sarawak Laksa in the food ranking. As far as my circle of friends are concerned, none have ever rejected this noodles and Sarawakian can have this for breakfast until supper.

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Kolo Beehoon – What if you can’t the special noodles? My wife used to prepare this simplified version of kolo beehoon for our breakfast. Of course the ingredients will depends on what we have in the fridge..

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Tomato Yimin Noodles (茄汁伊面) – This noodle is rather special as it is cooked with tomato ketchup. The original noodles are deep fried noodles. In this illustration, I have used the commercially sold yimin instead. I have always called Sarawak style spaghettis and see if you concur with me.

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Meat Dishes

Motherworts Chicken (益母草姜酒鸡) This is a traditional confinement dish for ladies who just gave birth. Motherwort have been used by midwives for centuries in Europe to assist in delivery, How this special herb become a confinement dish in Sarawak remained unclear, possibly because of the influenced of British during previous colonisation of Sarawak.. Though it is a confinement dish, but it is well liked by all age groups and sexes.

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Pastry, Cakes and Snacks

Chinese Style Citrus Zested Pancake (风吹饼,风筝饼, 烘吹饼) – A rather unique type of snack in Sarawak and lots of Sarawakian Chinese love this snack. As constrasted to this illustration, it is usually round and without sesame seeds . For some Sarwakian Chinese dialect group, this is also another type of moon cake they are having.

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Sarawak Midnight Cake a cake which is full of breakfast beverages ingredients, a rich dense and dark coloured cake usually served during festivals such as Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Gawai Dayak etc. It is so dark that I have decided to call it a midnight cake and taste is awesome and rich.

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Horlicks Lapis (好力克千层蛋糕)– Sarawak is famous for it layered cake after introduction from Indonesian in late 1980’s. The lapis or layered cake are many with its special design and flavouring. This is one of the classic household lapis.

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Coffee Peppermint Lapis (咖啡薄荷千层蛋糕)– Another type of lapis for your consideration though the more common type is the chocolate peppermint lapis. This is the healthier version of lapis.

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Sarawak Style Butter Buns – The uniqueness of Sarawak style butter buns is its buttery fillings. Its filling is made from mixing the butter with some flour. Sarawakian craved for this and there are no close substitute of these buns found elsewhere. Any mystery as to why this bun is common in Sarawak but not elsewhere.

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Popiah  – Sarawak Style – Though it may be a generalization, Sarawak style popiah is generally came with dry type of fillings. Unlike West Malaysia or Singapore version, jicama were not simmer until soft. With these drier filling, popiah can be found in stalls selling kuih and other snacks. One can just pick up one and have it on its way to office.

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For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 21 March 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .  

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If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 1800 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD. You can also join the Food Bloggers and Foodies United Group Facebook Group to see more recipes.

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Home Made Sauces, Pickles and Preserved Items .

Sauces 

INTRODUCTION

This is a compilation of common sauces, preserved vegetables, pickles and etc. targeted at house chefs.   It is definitely not a bad choice to prepare home made sauces though outsourcing some items can be cheaper at times. One good thing is that you are aware of what is included in the read made sauces.  One of the sauces that I like is homemade pasta sauces and you may want to have a look.

For recipes, click on the picture or title and go to the relevant link. If the link goes to Facebook Pages, click on individual picture, all the recipes and instructions were stated in the relevant picture.


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Hope you like the post today. Cheers.


For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 10th February 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .  

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If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 1500 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD. You can also join the Food Bloggers and Foodies United Group Facebook Group to see more recipes.


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Common Chinese Dishes For New House Chefs

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INTRODUCTION

This is a compilation of common Chinese household vegetable dishes targeted as new house chefs. Including in one post is the technique of vegetable blanching and the common sides ingredients to go with the vegetable dishes.  The list is endless and it will constantly be updated.

For recipes, click on the picture or title and go to the relevant link. If the link goes to Facebook Pages, click on individual picture, all the recipes and instructions were stated in the relevant picture.


BLANCHING VEGETABLE AS A HEALTHIER ALTERNATIVE

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VEGETABLE DISHES

Braised luffa with egg 蛋汁炆丝瓜

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Foochow Preserved Mustard Fried With Minced Meat (福州糟菜炒肉碎)

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Fried Winged Beans With Minced Meat (肉碎四棱豆)

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Blanched Kailan With Prawn (芥兰虾球)

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Blanch Romaine lettuce with miso sauce (味真酱罗明旦)

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Manchurian Wild Rice Fried With Chicken Strips (鸡丝炒茭白笋)

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Hairy Gourd Fried With Minced Meat and Glass Noodles (毛瓜肉碎炒冬粉)

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Braised Bitter Gourd With Chinese Mustard (苦瓜焖芥菜) 

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Salted Vegetable Fried With Pork Strips (咸菜炒肉丝)  

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Spicy and Sour Shredded Potatoes (酸辣土豆丝)

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Blanched Tri-Colour Capsicum With Prawns With Chicken Breast (虾仁鸡柳拌三色甜椒)

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Chrysanthemum Green With Chinese Black Vinegar (春菊拌浙醋)

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Seven Vegetable Auspicious Day For Chinese New Year (七色菜-人日)

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers.


For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 10th February 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .  

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If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 1500 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD. You can also join the Food Bloggers and Foodies United Group Facebook Group to see more recipes.


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Curried “Buttered” Meat Slices With Salted Eggs..

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INTRODUCTION

I have this meat dish as a side dish for yesterday’s dinner. It is a rather regional dish, cooking using the traditional Chinese cooking ingredient, salted eggs and the common Malaysian cooking ingredient, curry leaves (Murraya koenigii). In addition, to enhance the fragrance I have used clarified butter, ghee in the cooking. The dish is a nice curry butter flavoured meat slices which is a rather sinful indulgence in savoury dish.

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International readers, you are always on my mind, every times when I issued a post, I will think of alternatives for you to try cooking the dish considering the fact that you may not have the localized ingredients there. The taste of course will not be compromised much.

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It is very common that this special combination of salted egg, butter and curry leaves is used for the cooking of seafood especially cooking of prawns. It is a relatively new dish and I can’t recall I have ever eaten when I was young. I understand that it started as a restaurant dish and is now commonly prepared by Singapore and Malaysian house chefs.

For this post, I think the following ingredients worth special explanations.

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Curry tree is a common plant in Singapore and Malaysia. It’s leaves had a pungent smell and used in a wide varieties of cuisines especially in the cooking of curry dishes and seafood dishes that have a strong fishy smell. The smell will become more obvious after the leaves were deep fried.

“The curry tree (Murraya koenigii) is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae, which is native to India and Sri Lanka. Its leaves are used in many dishes in India and neighbouring countries. Often used in curries, the leaves generally called by the name “curry leaves”, though they are also translated as “sweet neem leaves” in most Indian languages (as opposed to ordinary neem leaves which are bitter)”. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curry_tree)

Ghee is a type of clarified butter that have a higher fat content and is commonly used in the India Sub Continent’s cuisines both in bakery or normal cooking purposes. When used in the preparation of Indian Short Bread cookies (Nan Khatai), it really creates a melt in the mouth feeling whereby the cookies is crispy and crumbly in texture. You may want to read more about Ghee and my post Nan Khatai HERE.

Salted duck egg is a very common Chinese household cooking ingredient. It is used in pastry such as moon cakes as well as a variety of Chinese cuisines. It is salty and can also be eaten on its own with porridges. It had a special fragrance when cooked.

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“A salted duck egg is a Chinese preserved food product made by soaking duck eggs in brine, or packing each egg in damp, salted charcoal. In Asian supermarkets, these eggs are sometimes sold covered in a thick layer of salted charcoal paste. The eggs may also be sold with the salted paste removed, wrapped in plastic, and vacuum packed. From the salt curing process, the salted duck eggs have a briny aroma, a very liquid egg white and a firm-textured, round yolk that is bright orange-red in colour.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salted_duck_egg)

IMG_8934 This dish with some super quick one pot rice dish


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 500 grams of sliced pork (alternative: chicken drumstick meats, prawns)

  • 1 salted egg (optional or use chicken egg)

  • 2 tablespoons of corn flour

  • Some curry leaves (about 30-40 leaves) (Substitute: bay leaves)

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  • 1 tablespoon of ghee (alternatives: Butter or normal cooking oil)

  • 1 tablespoon of chopped garlics

  • Adequate cooking oil for oil blanching of sliced pork

  • Pinches of sugar

  • Pinches of salt (only if salted eggs are not used)

  • Pinches of white pepper powder

  • Additional corn starch for thickening (optional)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Clean your meat slices. Add egg white (from the salted duck eggs whites or chicken eggs whites), corn flour, half of the curry leaves and marinate for about 1 hour in the fridge.

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  • Have some cooking oil, bring to high heat and oil blanching the meat slices for 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside for next step. Depending on the thickness of the meat, you may have to blanch for a slightly shorter or longer time (plus or minus 1 minute). It is ok if the meat inside is not fully cooked as the next step will continue cooking the meat.

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  • Meshed the salted duck egg and get ready the other half of curry leaves and the chopped garlics.

  • In a shallow frying pan, add the ghee and stir fry the chopped garlics until fragrant. Add in curry leaves and meshed salted duck eggs, stir fry until the aroma of curry leaves start to emit and the salted eggs have start to turn slight brownish,

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  • Add in the blanched meat slices, white pepper, pinches of sugar and stir fry for about 2 minutes until well mixed. (Do not add any more salt as salted egg is rather salty)

  • Add 1 tablespoon of corn starch with 2-3 tablespoons of water to make a corn starch solution and pour gradually into the frying pan. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes until well mixed. If it is too sticky or you prefer to have more sauces, add some more hot water. The thickening of the sauce is OPTIONAL.

  • Best served hot as a side dish in a Chinese meals.

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CONCLUSION

The dish is full of flexibility in terms of its ingredients. You can cook in the same manner for prawns, fish fillets or chicken strips. If you do not want oil blanching, you can just stir fry it by passing the step but cooking time have to be slightly longer. Salted egg is optional and you can either using a chicken egg or totally not using eggs. In this case, you have to add pinches of salt or bit of light soya sauce. No curry leaves, feel free to use bay leaves.  The colour of the dishes will very much depend on the salted egg that is used. It can be a beautiful orange colour dish.

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Personally, I would think that the dish is tasty and presentable. Hope that you can try preparing the dish for your family members or guests.  Hope you like the post today. 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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“Clay Pot (“?”) Chicken Rice?– Cooking “Clay Pot” Chicken Rice Using Rice Cooker

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UPDATED POST ON 8-1-2015  – New image upload

 

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INTRODUCTION

I have to say that this is not the authentic clay pot chicken rice recipe. It is prepared using conventional rice cooker and I have amended the method of cooking. However, I can assure  readers that the taste will not be compromised much.

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I did not use clay pot to prepare this one pot rice dish for a few reasons. One is that I do not have a clay pot and secondly I do not have the patience and time to monitor cooking rice using clay pots. Thirdly, I believed that even if you use the clay pot but using gas stove to cook, the taste will not be very much different from if you cooked using the rice cooker. In order to have a distinct flavour as what were sold in the eating outlets, conventional stove using charcoal have to be used. Therefore I have opted to use the rice cooker to speed up the preparation.

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CLAYPOT CHICKEN RICE DEFINED

As with other post, it is good to let Wikipedia to explain to the reader this unique dish:

“Clay pot chicken rice (Chinese: 砂煲鸡饭, 瓦煲鸡饭 or 煲仔鸡饭) is usually a dinner dish in the southern regions of China, Malaysia and Singapore. It is typically served with Chinese sausage and vegetables. More often than not, the rice is cooked in the clay pot first and cooked ingredients like diced chicken and Chinese sausage are added in later. Traditionally, the cooking is done over a charcoal stove, giving the dish a distinctive flavour. Some places serve it with dark soya sauce and also dried salted fish. Salted fish enhances the taste of the clay pot chicken rice, depending on the diner’s preference. Due to the time-consuming method of preparation and slow-cooking in a clay pot, customers might have to wait a period of time (typically 15-30 minutes) before the dish is served”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claypot_chicken_rice)

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WHY THIS DISH

I first try this dish when I studied in Kuala Lumpur during the late 1980’s. What I can always remembered was the long timing I have to wait for any order of clay pot chicken rice. Being a student then, I did not have the patience to wait and ended up usually eating economy rice specially catered for the students.

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When I get married, my wife is a firm supporter of clay pot chicken rice. Whenever there is a chance or when she saw there is a store that sells clay pot chicken rice, she would ordered the dish. However, there are not many clay pot chicken rice stalls in Singapore as compared to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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While I was thinking of what to cook yesterday, my kids were saying that they wanted to eat chicken rice to “break my vegetarian diet fast”! I told them that may be I should let them try another type of chicken rice, but is the darker version of clay pot chicken rice.

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WHAT IS NEEDED

Serves 4-6

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  • 3 –4 cups of uncooked rice (washed and set aside) – not in picture

  • 500 grams of chicken drumstick meat or breast (cut into small pieces)

  • 4 dried Chinese mushrooms (soaked and cut into thin strips)

  • 3 shallots (cut into small pieces)

  • 3 Chinese sausages (sliced into small pieces)

  • Some spring onions – White portion – cut into small pieces and leave the green portion of later use

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  • 3 tablespoons of dark soya sauce Star

  • 3 tablespoons of light soya sauce Star

  • 3 tablespoons of oyster sauce Star

  • 3 tablespoons of sesame oilStar

  • 1 tablespoon of white pepperStar

  • 1 tablespoon of corn flour (not in the picture)

  • 30 grams of ginger

  • 50 grams of salted fish (threadfin or ikan kurau preferred) – (optional)

  • I piece of chicken stock cube

  • Pinches of salt

  • Pinches of sugar (optional)

  • Some smoked pork belly (optional)

Note that smoked pork belly, chicken stock and salted fish are optional.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Marinating Chicken Meat

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  • Cut the chicken meat in thin slices. Chopped or shredded the ginger until very fine pieces. Put the chicken meat in a bowl and marinate with ginger, corn flour and HALF of seasonings marked Star. Marinate for at least 1-2 hours. The longer you marinate, the tastier the chicken meat will be.


 

Deep Frying the Salted Fish (Optional)

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  • Tear the salted fish into small strips. Use medium heat to deep fry it until the salted fish become golden brown and crispy. Drain and put in a piece of oil absorbent paper. Set aside for later use.

Note that this step is optional. In this illustration, I have prepared a lot of salted fish for my other dishes. This salted fish was especially good to go with white porridges and fried rice.

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Shallow Frying the Chinese Sausage and Smoked Pork Belly

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  • In a frying pan, put a few tablespoons of cooking oils and stir fry the Chinese sausage for a few minutes under MEDIUM heat. Note that this step is also optional. As for me, I would think that this step will enhance the flavour of the Chinese sausages.

  • Using high heat, use the same oil to stir fry the mushroom slices and chopped shallots plus spring onions until fragrant.

  • At the meantime, wash your rice and dilute the chicken stock cube with some water and set aside.

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  • When the shallots and mushrooms are fragrant, add in the washed rice. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the REMAINING HALF of the seasonings marked Star to the rice. Stir fry of 2-3 minutes until the rice are evenly coated with with the seasonings such as the oyster sauce and dark soya sauce.

  • Add in chicken stock and 3-4 cups of water OR as per the rice cooking illustration in the rice packaging. As the rice had been soaked already, therefore, you may want to reduce the water slightly such that the rice will not be soggy. If you prefer, you can taste a bit of the uncooked rice and assess if there is a need to adjust the taste by adding additional condiments.

  • Cook in the conventional rice cooker using the normal rice cooking function or if you are rushing for time, cook using the “Quick Cook” function.

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  • Open your rice cooker at about 2/3 of the rice cooking cycle, or check if there are bubbles in the rice and water has started to reduce.

  • When the rice is about 2/3 cooked, put in 1 tablespoon of deep fried salted fish (optional), green portion of the spring onion, chicken strips and Chinese sausages on top of the half cooked rice. Continue cooking until the rice cooker indicates that the rice is cooked. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Note that every rice cooker is different. You have to occasionally open the rice cooker to check the progress of the cooking. For example, if your rice cooker’s rice cooking function is 30 minutes per cycle, you can check the rice cooker at say 20 minutes after you started the cooking. When the rice cooker function is off, the steam will continue to cook the chicken meat and therefore, served only 10-15 minutes later.

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  • Best serve hot and garnish with additional spring onions or coriander leaves. If you preferred, you can put some deep fried salted fish or shallots on top of your rice. It goes well with freshly cut chilli dip in dark soya sauce.

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CONCLUSION

This simpler way of cooking have cut short the cooking time by at least one hour as compared to the traditional cooking method using charcoal stove and clay pot with minimal compromise to the taste.  In addition, it is easier to control the texture of the rice .

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I have pre-seasoned the rice before it is cooked and unlike traditional method, some dark soya sauce was poured on top of the white rice resulting in uneven distribution of spices and soya sauces in the cooked rice. Depending on your taste buds, salted fish or even Chinese sausages are optional. The must haves in this rice dish are the chicken, ginger, sesame oil, oyster sauce and dark soya sauce. With these minimal ingredients, you can produce an equally satisfactory “clay pot” chicken rice.

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

 

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

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INTRODUCTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


PORK STUFFED LUFFA (丝瓜酿肉碎)

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

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TOFUS SAIL IN PUMPKIN SEA (豆腐金瓜海)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BLANCHED ASPARAGUS WITH CHICKEN FILLETS (芦笋鸡柳)

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This is really an easy dish.

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

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

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

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

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CENTURY EGGS WITH PICKLED GINGER (皮蛋酸姜)

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


POMELO (柚子/文旦)

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

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

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


GREEN DATES (甜枣)

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


MOONCAKES (月饼)

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

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

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

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Have a nice day and cheers.

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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.

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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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