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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How About An Eggless, Butter Less, Milk Less Chocolate Almond Cup Cakes?

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UPDATED POST ON 5-11-2014

I will include in this post another recipe that I have developed this morning, it is gluten free, dairy free, egg less and fatless. It is a rather healthy moist and aromatic snack.  I hope this post will benefit those who are on a certain diet.

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It is the same recipe for both cookies and cupcakes. For cookies just make it in smaller size and bake slightly longer.. It can be crispy or chewy. It will not be as crispy as those using flour.

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Taste wise is satisfactory. You can imagine taking some almond meal, add some cocoa powder, water and sugar.. It is definitely acceptable to most. Please scroll down for the second recipe.

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INTRODUCTION

Seriously, when I looked at the recipe, I was curious how it would turn out to be. When I prepared the batter and baking, I am even more doubtful about its outcome.. I did not have any picture to compare and I did not know whether what I have prepared and baked was correct or not. Not until I took the first bite this morning that I am confident to issue this post…

This is an eggless, butter less and milk less cup cake that I have adapted from a 2003 recipe. I have printed out this recipe as early as year 2005 when I just started to have interest in doing some baking. Then, I have been cracking my head to look for recipes that were suitable for niche markets like health conscious people or people that are less fortunate like diabetes . While flipping my recipe file yesterday, I saw this piece of printed paper and I thought I might wanted to give it a try.

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While I am writing this post, I try searching this recipe in All Recipes Cake Recipes website, I am rather happy that the recipe is still there but with no picture, that proves that it is a very old recipe. The recipe was submitted by Ms. Kathy Thurston and some body named Ms. Bernadette Beaupre had gave some explanation of this cake:

“This cake comes in handy when all you have left in the cupboard is the tin soups just before shopping day. It really was a treat served warm when we came in from the cold. And it was c-o-l-l-l-d-d-d, North of 53′. Sprinkle brown sugar or dust confectioner’s sugar over the top.” — Bernadette Beaupre (Source: All Recipes Cake Recipes website,)

Since it is an eggless, butter less and milk less, what should be the structure liked. If you looked at the recipe in detail in later part of the post, you will note that there are some shortening and water. Butter less can be substituted with cooking oil or vegetable shortening (as in this recipe) and milk less can be substituted with any liquids (be it eggs or water). Therefore, the crucial element that determine the outcome of the cup cake will be eggs.

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Eggs have the role of supporting the structure of the cup cake or in general any baked products. They are binder which help to hold the ingredients together. In addition, it contributed to the liquid component in a cake recipe. Therefore, it is expected that without eggs, the cake will be dense and the rising of the cake will depend entirely with the leavening agents such as baking powder and baking soda. 

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I am worry about whether the dense cake will be dry and difficult to swallow. The conclusion is not, as the recipe have minimal vegetable shortenings and some liquids which is adequate to make the cake moist.

In this recipe, I have increased the amount of water, addition of cocoa powder and some almonds chunks. The final baked products were well beyond my expectations and I concurred it was some form of good snacks. As I was experimenting with this recipe, I have reduced the volumes and managed to make 4 small cup cakes. As with any other cakes, serving with additional sauces and whipped cream will heighten the palate to another level.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Recipes adapted from: Eggless, Butter less and Milk less Recipe by Kathy Thurston (make 8 cup cakes)

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  • 2 cups plain four

  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 1 cup almond chunks

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius and get ready some cup cake moulds.

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  • In a sauce pan under medium heat, bring  the vegetable shortenings, water and sugar to boil and continue boiling for about 2 minutes.

  • Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda together into the liquid.

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  • Use a spatula to stir the batter until it is well mixed.

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  • Stir in the almond chunks and ensure it is well mixed.

  • Scoop into the paper cups for cup cakes and baked in the oven for about 20 minutes or when the skewer inserted come out clean.

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CONCLUSION

This is a rather unusual cake. So who should prepare this? In fact this cake is very suitable for people who are vegetarian in accordance with Buddhist principles.

In my circle of friends, I have a few friends who are vegetarians. However, though all are  vegetarians, there are certain ingredients that fell into “grey area” and subject to arguments.

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One of the ingredients is eggs. Some of my vegetarian friends do not eat eggs as they believed there may be an embryo attached to the eggs. However, other Buddhist vegetarians believed that current eggs are commercially “produced”, therefore , it is impossible to have any embryos in the eggs.  Even if you hatch the eggs, no chicks will be born,

Another two special ingredients are two diary products, milks and butters. Some vegetarian will not touch any food “produced” by an animals, therefore milks and butters were excluded in their diets. Whereas some choose to believe that as there is no need to kill a cow to get milks and butters, therefore, these can be included in the vegetarian diets.

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These belies have an impact in pastry terms. Every year, when I baked my pineapple tarts for my relatives and friends, I will have to bake two types, the normal with milk, eggs and butter and another version, which is rather hard to prepare that is eggless, milk less and butter less! Of course the onus will lie on me to find relevant substitute for the ingredients.

Hope you like this rather strange post today. But, I have to admit that looking at the picture, you may not be convinced until you take a bite of it. Have a nice day and cheers.

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RECIPE 2 – GLUTEN FREE, DAIRY FREE, EGG LESS AND FATLESS CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE AND COOKIES

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

  • 1 cup of almond meal or almond flour
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

  • Pre-heat the oven to 160 degree Celsius
  • Mix all the ingredients above until well combined
  • Transfer to cup cakes cup .
  • Baked in the pre-heated oven at 160 degree Celsius for about 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean

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  • For cookies, add about 1/8 teaspoon of baking powder to the batter, bake at 160 degree Celsius for about 20 minutes. Let it sit in the tray for 5 minutes before transfer to the rack for cooling. If you want it to be crispier, can extend baking time by another 5-10 minutes.

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 15 October 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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Eating “Rat’s Shit”? You AreTotally Gross! –Vegetarian Fried “Beethyemak” Rice Noodles

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INTRODUCTION

Beethyemak (“米大目”) is the name stated in the package of rice noodles that I bought from the supermarket. It is also called “Loh Su Fun” (“老鼠粉”) in Cantonese literally translated as  “Rats flour” …In my Chawan dialects group, it was called “ngiao chu sia” (”老鼠屎“) literally translated as “Rat’s shit”. My mother in law who is a Teochew, called it “ngiao chi ni” (“老鼠奶“) literally translated as “Rat’s milk”..

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If you ask me what is the English translation? I will just translated it into a type of rice noodles taken in different form of the shape of disgusting “worms”. Apparently, it was shaped liked a “rat” .. Does it? I don’t know! I looked for some write up for this noodle dish and I managed to get a Chinese description in http://www.baike.com , the Chinese equivalent of Wikipedia. What is written is:

“米苔目是闽南语,又叫米筛目,漳州龙海特色小吃,是用米和番薯粉做成的。制作米苔目的工序颇为复杂:先要将米浸泡磨成米浆,然后放进布袋加压脱水成“饭脆”,将“饭脆”加入番薯粉,揉搓成饭团,再把饭团做成细条状,放到锅里煮熟捞起后用冷水冲洗,使之滑嫩。米苔目加入糖水、刨冰,可以做成冰凉可口的甜品,咸吃则可以用乌醋拌食或放入柴鱼熬煮成汤,再加入爆香的作料;像河粉一般热炒的米苔目很有嚼劲。 米苔目现在是闽南地区以及台湾著名的美食。” (Source: http://baike.baidu.com/view/68002.htm)

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I have used Google Translation to translate and this is what I got:

“Mitai Mu is the Taiwanese language, called m mesh , Zhangzhou Longhai snacks, with rice and sweet potato flour made. Making process is quite complex Mitai Mu: Soak the rice milled rice milk first and then put into a pressure dewatering bag “rice crispy”, the “rice crispy” adding sweet potato powder , rub into balls , then made ​​into balls thin strips, into the pot boiled picked up after the rinse with cold water to make it smooth and delicate. Mi Taimu added sugar , ice, can be made ​​into delicious cold desserts , salty food, you can use the black vinegar mixed with food or put dried fish boiled into soup, then add the spices until fragrant; like rice noodles stir-fried rice general moss mesh very chewy. Mitai Mu is now southern region as well as Taiwan ‘s famous cuisine.”

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Well, if readers can understand, it is best. However, if you can’t, I think that is unfair to you and I will try my best to translate for you.

“ Beethyemak is the name in Mingnan (Fujian or Hokkien) and the “thye” can also be translated or treated as “sift” in Hokkien. It is a famous snack in Longhai County, Zhangzhou (People’s Republic of China) and it is made of rice and sweet potatoes flour. The manufacturing process is rather complicated. Firstly, the rice grain have to be soaked and ground into rice batter, These are then put in a bag made from cloth. A heavy object is then placed on top of the rice batter to exert pressure and squeeze out the water making it to become a drier batter. Sweet potatoes flour are then added and mixed well. It is then made into long stripes by pouring the batter into the hot water. When cooked , the noodles are immediately dip in cold water such that the texture will be smooth and springy. To serve as a dessert, syrups and crushed ices were added to beethyemak . For savoury dishes, beethyemak can be stir mixed with black vinegar。 It can also be cooked with Bonito broth, and garnished with aromatic deep fried garlics or shallots. It can also be stir fried like Horfun (Kway Tiao) and both noodles have almost similar textures. Beethyemak is now a famous cuisine in the Mingnan (Fujian) area and Taiwan.”

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I have been eating this noodle dish since I was young. Because of the name “Rat’s shit”, psychologically, I do not really like it. In addition, when I was young in Kuching, Sarawak, the Beethyemak is mostly made from pure rice flour. The texture is rather coarse and tasteless. It is not until when I came to Singapore that I started to like Beethyemak. The Beethyemak in Singapore is more springy and if properly cooked, it taste better than rice vermicelli or Kway Tiao (another flat type of rice noodles). 

This noodle is not easy to prepare as compare to rice vermicelli or Kway Tiao. You can either cook it in soupy version or stir fry it.

For stir frying, if you want to maintain the shape, the oil for frying will have to be quite a lot. Otherwise it will stick to your frying pan making it hard to fry. The purpose of this post is to illustrate how to stir fry this noodle dish, the ingredients can be anything from prawns to meat to the vegetables of your choice.

Again, as I am still on my vegetarian diet, this dish will be a vegetarian version. But remember, you can always add meats, prawns, fish cakes etc. of your choice. In addition, you can always used the same method to fry rice vermicelli and Kway Tiao or Horfun.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

There will be no quantity stated here and you have full flexibility to change the ingredients. This illustration is the vegetarian version and please add in any other ingredients that you like.

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  • Some cabbage cut in slices

  • Some black fungus – soaked and cut into small slices

  • Some tofu puff – cut into small square cubes

  • 1 package of Beethyemak rice noodles (about 500 grams – servings of 4-5 adults)

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  • Some eggs, lightly beaten

  • Some celery – cut into small cubes

  • Some mock meat – cut into strips

  • Some dried mushrooms – soaked and cut into strips

  • Some shredded gingers and/or shallots and/or garlics

  • Condiments of your choices – light soya sauce, dark soya sauce, flavour enhancer like mushroom concentrate, white pepper, salt)


STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Put one to two tablespoons of cooking oil in the frying pan. Add in shredded gingers and mushrooms (non vegetarian version can put in shredded shallots and garlics) and stir fried under high heat until the fragrance starts to spread.

  • Add in cabbage, stir fry for one minute and follow by celery, mock meat, tofu puffs, black fungus, stir fry until well mixed. Add in half a cup of water (estimate) and let it cooked for one – two minutes.

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The above garnishes of spring onion for picture taking purposes, Religion vegetarian cannot have spring onion in the dish.

Note

  • The purpose of adding the water is to soften and cook the vegetables. Remember, unlike stir frying rice vermicelli, the water has to be minimal as the noodles are rather wet and will not be able to absorb any more water.

  • If your are frying with meat, meat will be the first item to be stir fried followed by hard vegetables (carrots, cabbage, celery etc.), leafy vegetables and tomatoes in this order.

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  • Add in the noodles and stir fry until well mixed. Add in dark soya sauce, light soya sauce, pepper, salt and flavour enhancer. Stir fry until well mixed. Add in beaten eggs and fry until all the noodles were coated with the eggs.

Note:

  • In this illustration, I have purposely used this method of adding the eggs to the noodles. The purpose is to let the eggs coating the noodles. If you do not like the moist soft egg coated noodles, you can prepare the omelette and cut it into strips. You can refer to Vegetarian Tom Yam Bee Hoon for making of omelette strips. The difference is this way of frying noodles will result in moister noodles.

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  • Add in tomatoes and and stir fry for another minutes before scoop out to the plate for serving. Best serve hot with your preferences of garnishes such as coriander leaves, freshly cut chilli or Chinese celery leaves.


CONCLUSION

This noodle dish looks easy to prepare but in fact, it need some practise. The challenges is to ensure the noodles are well coated with eggs and not stick to each other or soggy. To get this texture, the following points have to be taken into considerations:

  • The heat has to be high heat throughout the stir frying. Therefore action have to be fast. If you can’t handle, this, you have to use at least medium heat. High heat is required to ensure that all the fragrances of gingers/shallots/garlics mix well with the noodles and any moisture or water contents dries up quickly. With this, there is less chance for the noodles to get soggy.

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  • There is always a trade off between the look of your final cooked noodles and the amount of cooking oil used. You have to chose whether you want to have a healthier dish (using less oil) but an uglier dish (may be a bit out of shape as some of the noodles may stick to your frying pan). If you want to have an impressive non stick noodles, you will have to use quite a lot of oil to achieve that effect.

  • Unlike fried rice vermicelli and Kway Tiao, the water used for simmering the vegetables or side ingredients cannot be too much, otherwise, your noodles will be soggy and stick to the frying pan. If you have accidentally added too much water, you would rather let the water dry up first (meaning cook a bit longer) rather than having some soggy noodles.

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  • If you do not like moist egg coated noodles, you can use egg omelette strips.

  • All side ingredients in this illustrations are optional and substitutable. Please use what you like to fry the noodles. I have raid my fridge to come out with this and is a vegetarian version. Otherwise, I would have added pork belly meat, prawns and even some dry shrimps. So, use whatever that your family likes to cook the noodle dish.

  • Though all ingredients appeared to be optional, however, the selections will usually based on the colour of the side ingredients and a good combination of colour will make the dish looks appetizing. I usually used tomatoes or carrots for orange, chillies for red colour, choy shym or leafy vegetable for green, dried mushrooms or black fungus for black,  and corns or eggs for yellow colour. This minute detail of colour combination will make this simple dish becoming a presentable dish.

  • Remember that this method of cooking is equally applicable to fried yellow noodles, rice vermicelli, Kway Tiao, Pad Thai and etc..

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

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Soft Chewy or Crispy,You Choose Yourself! – Baby Cereal Oatmeal Cranberry Biscuits (麦片饼干)

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UPDATED POST ON 2-10-2014

A biscuit that I like very much but went unnoticed because I did not like the initial pictures taken.. Since I have some cereal at home, I decided to prepare this for my relatives as a hand gift. Nothing change except that I substitute the oats portion with instant cereal since I do not have it at home. In addition, instead of cranberry, I have used raisin instead. It is crispy outside and chewy in the middle. You can make it totally crispy if you make it a smaller size and extend the baking time at a lower temperature. A rather addictive cookie and I really love the cereal flavouring.

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INTRODUCTION

One number baking ratio now extends it to biscuit and of course it had to be slightly amended. In this recipe, one portion of milk was being substituted by a portion of flour to make it a cookie liked structure.  This biscuits can be a soft chewy type of biscuit that is crispy on the outside but slightly soft in the middle. It can also be a crispy type of biscuits it you prefer it to be crunchy.

This is not the first time I prepared these biscuits. I prepared these biscuits a few months back. I loved it for its chewy texture and the baby cereal fragrance.

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WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN INSTANT OATS “MEET” QUAKER OATS

I like to blend my instant Quaker Oats with the Nestum Baby Cereals and make it into a breakfast cereal drink. I usually put 50% of instant oats and 50% of baby cereals and use a food processor to blend these two items. The breakfast cereal drinks will have instant oats “stickiness” but with baby cereals fragrance. I usually sweetened it by some condensed milk and if it was too “sticky”, I will add in some fresh milk. Bananas and nuts were added when I craved for it. May be I shall have another post on this wonderful breakfast drinks and you wouldn’t be disappointed with this cereal drink..

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 100 grams of butter

  • 100 grams of plain flour

  • 50 grams of instant oat

  • 50 grams of instant baby cereals

  • 100 grams of sugar

  • 100 grams of eggs

  • 50 grams of cranberry (optional and substitutable with raisins or other dry fruits)

  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder

  • 0.5 teaspoon of baking soda

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing the instant oat baby cereal mixture

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  • Blend 50 grams of instant oats and instant baby cereal each using a food processor until your desired textures.


Preparation

  • Get ready 2 baking trays lined with parchment paper or baking paper.

  • Pre-heat oven to 180 degree Celsius.

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Preparation the batter and baking

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  • Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and followed by the mixture of oats/baby cereals. Stir and mix well.

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  • Add in the sifted flour, baking powder and baking soda, mix until just combined. Stir in cranberries or raisins and mix well.

  • Place one teaspoon/tablespoon full of soft dough (depending on the size you want) on the parchment or baking paper.  Give adequate space for the dough to expand when cooked.

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  • Bake in the oven at 180 degree Celsius for 15-20 minutes or until the colour starts to turn golden brown on the edges but still soft in the centre.

  • Cooled completely in a rack before store in an air tight container.

  • Best served with hot tea and coffee and as a snack.

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VARIATIONS

  • If you preferred the crunchy version, after the 20 minutes baking at 180 degree Celsius, reduce your temperature to 150 degree Celsius and continue baking for another 10 minutes. Note that the cookies will not be hardened until you take it out from the oven. Let it cool and see if that is your desired texture. In the event you prefer to be even crispier, put back to the oven and baked for another 5 minutes. The longer you baked, the more moisture will be lost making it to be crispier. However, do watch out for the colour of cookies. If it is too brown, you can turn off the top heat and use the bottom heat to continue the baking.


CONCLUSION

From preparing the biscuits until I finished this posting, it took me about 2 hours. Therefore, readers should comprehend how easy this biscuit was. If you like baby cereal like I do, you will like it. If you like soft chewy type of biscuits where the edges are crispy and soft in the inside, you will like it. Take a step to make this, tailor to your family taste buds, it definitely wouldn’t disappoint yourself and your family members.

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Join me to have some of these cookies as breakfast and of course, not forgetting a cup of hot Earl Grey tea.

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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 28 July 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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Nostalgic Soup Than Can’t Erase From My Mind–Chinese Style Potatoes Soup

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Updated Post on 9-10-2014

I have prepared the soup again today and have some new picture taking. However, today when I prepared the soup, as I am running out of time, I have decided to by pass the sautéing of the starch and onion. I put everything in the wok, boil until the meat is soft and add the starches. Of course, it was not as fragrant as what my father have prepared but it saves some times.. Kids start to like this starchy soup. Personally, I prefer the yam or taro version but shelve the idea as kids still dislike the taro.

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INTRODUCTION

I seldom have soup recipe in this blog except salted vegetable duck soup, a well known traditional Chinese soup for Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese.  Of course I have many other soup preparation illustrations such as bitter gourd and pineapple pork rib soup, double mushroom chicken soup, sweet corn pork rib soup and many more at Guaishushu’s Facebook Page under the index start with “S”.

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Today, I will share this special soup which is a comfort food with nostalgic and sentimental feelings for me.  I am still in doubt its origins and totally unsure if other families are cooking this soup, not at least my circles of friends. It is hope that via this post, some readers will be able to tell me the origin of this soup!

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This is a “strange” soup cooked by my late father. Not even my late mother cook this soup as she said it is a bit laborious to cook this soup.

In fact, the ingredients and cooking method have influences of both oriental and western method of cooking. Talking about this soup, I am sure my brothers and sister in laws can recall about the soup. It can either be cooked with taro or  potatoes. What we usually cooked is with yam or taro and I knew my sister in laws still cook the taro version of this soup as at today.

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The potato version of soup what is always in my mind. When I told my mother in law that I wanted to cook this soup, she looked at me unbelievably and she thought that I am cooking ABC soup, a soup that were cooked using carrot, potatoes and onions. I told her no, it is a pure potatoes soup!

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 250 g of potatoes cut into big chunks

  • 250 g of onion cut into a quarter

  • 250 g of pork ribs

  • 6 cups of water

Thickening starch

  • 50 g of sweet potatoes flour

  • 400 g of water

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a big soup pot that can accommodate at least 10 cups of water, put some water adequate to cover the pork ribs.

  • Blanch the pork ribs until the outer layers is slight cooked. Throw away the water.

  • Wash the pork ribs under running water to get rid of any blood clots and add in the cut potatoes. Add in 6 cups of water and bring to boil under high heat. Once boiled, turn to medium heat and continue boiling until the potatoes and meats are soft. This will take 15-20 minutes. You can just let it boil until your next step is ready. Change to low heat if necessary.

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  • In another sauce pan, add in 1 tablespoon of oil, add in the cut onions and fried until the fragrance of onion start to spread.

  • Put in the sweet potatoes starch and cook under low heat, Stir fry until the flour turned into a lump and become colourless. Note that the main reason of cooking this way is to give the flour some flavour of onions. If you add directly to the soup, you will find the flour in the soup is flavourless. Well that is how my late father cooked and I do agree to it.

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  • Transfer your cooked starch to the soup and continue boiling until the meat and potatoes of your desired textures.

  • Add seasonings of your choice (flavour enhancer such as mushroom concentrate, pepper, salt, light soya sauce etc.).

  • Bring to boil and once boiled, off the heat and garnish with herbs of your choice. Preferably served hot with rice.

WHY THIS SOUP IS UNIQUE?

The soup has the oriental elements because it is cooked with normal cooking oils used by Chinese home cooking (instead of butter or olive oils) and pork ribs and flavour using the Chinese condiments. In addition, the thickening is using Chinese cooking ingredients sweet potatoes starch. It is definitely more watery and less creamy than Western soup! The final soup still maintain the shape of the potatoes, pork ribs and even onions. It complements the dryness of the white rice.

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On the other hand, it is unusual for Chinese to use potatoes to cook soup. Besides ABC soup, most Chinese households do not use potatoes to cook soup. Besides this unusual ingredient, Chinese soups usually do not use thickening agents in soup with the exception of some special soups such as shark fin soups and sweet and sour soups. The soups, in traditional sense should be watery and clear (or whitish colour due to the meat essence in the both). Thickening agents are used in many Chinese dishes including braised dishes, noodle dishes , vegetables dishes, egg dishes, bean curd dishes but not in soup dishes.

For purposes of further illustrating this soup may have Western influences, I have took out portion of the soup and added plain flour (wheat flour as you used for making cakes) and some creams.

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This is what the end product looked like and in fact, my kids do not mind this soup after adding of cream and wheat flour. My boy says that the soup is very creamy like cream of mushroom soup that he used to have in Western restaurant.

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CONCLUSION

Having a post on this particular soup brings me  lots of fond memories and sentimental feelings, making me wanted to know more about my late father. We did not really communicate much due to very traditional Chinese family upbringings whereby we were not encouraged to ask about what the adults are doing. Communication was always unidirectional. However, if he was still available, I would know how to tackle the issue and “fished” out his thoughts!

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It is a soup that none of friends knew. It is neither Western or Oriental style of soup. It is a mixture of both. Where my late father learned the cooking of this soup was really a mystery (in my humble opinion). He hailed from China and could not read or spoke ABC not to mention exposure to Western cuisines. The only remote reason that I could think of was due the influence of British colonization of Sarawak until late 1940’s  and at that time, he was a teen.

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Hopefully by having this post, some of my readers from any  parts of the world can share with me, if you have ever tasted exactly soup cooked in this manner and what do you think is the origin of the soup. It is also hope that my readers will try out this soup and let me know if it suits your taste buds. Thanks 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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What? Baked Your Rice? Yes, Try Carbonara Cheesy Bacon Baked Rice

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INTRODUCTION

The main staple food for Asians are rice. We have porridges, fried rice, plain white rice, steamed rice, braised rice ….. But we seldom have baked rice.

Bake is usually associated with oven which is rather uncommon to Asians until the last 5 decades (pardon me if I am wrong)….Baking rice is still something not really common especially in Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese household cooking. One could easily have baked rice especially in Portuguese restaurants particularly in Malacca, Malaysia and Macau SAR in Peoples Republic of China.

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Is baked rice nice? If you are a generation who get use to Western cuisines, I presumed you will concur with me that it is another good way of appreciating cooked rice! Children who are exposed to Western numerous fast food chains such as Kentucky, McDonalds, Pizza Huts etc. will definitely like this simple comfort food that is packed with milks and cheeses.

Creamy, cheesy and soft are the words to describe the textures of this baked rice.

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Of course there are many different types of baked rice, as an Asian, I will definitely prepare using ingredients that are well liked by the kids here.

This post is  about CARBONARA CHEESY BACON BAKED RICE. It is prepared using Carbonara sauce with lots of bacons, kernel corns, canned button mushrooms and etc.… In addition, sensing not many households may have a conventional oven, this recipe called for a mini oven that is movable .. Of course you can used an oven if you wish to!


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 500 grams of cooked rice (overnight rice is acceptable)
  • 50 grams of bacon – small pieces
  • 100 grams of onion– chopped
  • 100 grams of canned button mushrooms – slices
  • 100 grams of canned creamy sweet corns
  • 30 grams of Japanese “crab meat” (optional)
  • 200 ml of cream + fresh milk (preferred 50% cream : 50% fresh milk)
  • 150 grams of mozzarella cheeses
  • 2 teaspoons of dried/fresh herbs (basil, dill, oregano etc.) (Optional)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil/butter

Note:

This is a good way to get rid of your overnight rice. Of course you can cook with fresh rice for the dish.

This is a dish with full flexibility, except rice, cream+milk and cheeses, almost other ingredients can be substituted.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

  • Get ready an 8”x8” inches baking tin or any casserole that are able to withstand high heat.

  • Put the rice in a big mixing bowl and set aside for later use.

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  • In a sauce pan, put in the olive oil and bacon and stir fry until the bacon were fully fried and the aroma of bacon starts to emit.

  • Add in the chopped onion, stir fried until the onion is soft.

  • Add in 1 cup of water, add in chopped mushrooms, creamy sweet corns and bring to boil under medium heat.

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  • Once boiled, add in the cream and herbs and off the heat. Stir and mixed well.

  • Pour on top of the rice and use spoon to mix well.

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  • Transfer the well mixed rice to the baking tin. Add in more milk if possible.
  • Place in more creamy sweet corns or other side ingredients such as crab sticks if desired.

  • Sprinkled sparingly with mozzarella cheeses and more herbs.

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  • Bake the rice in the mini oven for about 30 minutes or until all the cheeses have become soft and melted. It should be noted all ingredients are cooked ingredients. Therefore, baking the rice is only to ensure that all the cheeses have melted and  speed up the process of sauces absorbed by the rice.

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VARIATIONS

Of course, if you want to cut short the preparation process, you can used the ready made carbonara sauces or cream of mushroom soup or cream of chicken soup. The end results will be equally tasty.

You can also substituted with fresh corns, baby corns, even Asian fish cake if your kids like it and anything that will wake up your families palates!

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CONCLUSION

An easy to make comfort food good when you runs out of time to cook a decent meal. It’s full flexibility make it easy to tailor your family taste buds. Try this way to get rid of your overnight rice.

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

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I am submitting this to Welcome To All My Bloggy Friends and Recipe of the Week.

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What I “Ate” Today (家常便饭系列)…. 17 August 2013- Special

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You may be surprised about this title! In fact, the title is not correct either. What I am going to post is not “what I cooked today” or “what I ate today”. It was a gathering at one of my relative’s house and she had cooked some Chinese dishes that are not common among Fujian or Guangdong Province.

My relative is from Jiangxi Province and therefore the food that she cooked were rather different! As you all know, Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese are descendants of immigrants mainly from the South Eastern Coastal Fujian and Guangdong Province.


JIANGXI CUISINES

Per Wikipedia:

Jiangxi (Chinese: 江西; pinyin: Jiāngxī; Wade–Giles: Chiang-hsi; Postal map spelling: Kiangsi, Gan: Kongsi) is a province in the People’s Republic of China, located in the southeast of the country. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south and east, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to the northwest. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiangxi)

As compared to Nanyang Chinese (Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese), in a household meal, they are more dishes but with a smaller portion. For us, we will usually serve 3 dishes and 1 soup, for them the dishes can be as many as 6-12 dishes. Today, the host is kind enough to cook us 7 dishes (excluding desserts and sweet soups). Jiangxi dishes were rather spicy (chilli hot) and as my kids were having meals with us, for some dishes, they have to prepare both the spicy and non spicy version.

Note than I am currently on a vegetarian  diet and since I did not told them in advance, I have taken my meals before joining them.  Therefore, I did not join them for meals.


SPICY AND SOUR SHREDDED POTATOES (酸辣土豆丝)

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Yes, this is my favourite. Potatoes were julienned into thin strips. There were then soaked in cold water until all the starch were gone. This will make the potatoes “crunchy” and water have to be changed regularly. Look at the thin strips, these were all manually done. They were then stir fried with spring onions, black vinegars and chilli. This is something that I have yet to share the cooking illustrations with readers but I can assure you it is something simple yet the taste is superb. Kids are fighting for this.


BRAISED BEEF (酱牛肉)

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I do not know if there is any translation of this dish. It is basically beef braised in dark soya sauce (and herbs and spices). It was then air dried. If it was kiln dried, it will become smoked beef. This is a form of meat preservation that can be commonly found in many parts of China. My relatives have prepared these meat in China and brought it over.

I still remembered  when I was stationed in Changchun, China about 10 years ago, one of the past time is to buy some braised chicken drumsticks and ate it in the hotel. It is delicious and thinking about it make me drooling. Depending on the regions, the preservations can be sugar based or salt based.


TOMATOES FRIED WITH EGGS (番茄炒蛋)

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A common household dish in China. Besides stir frying, another way of cooking this combination is making it into a soup.

Tomato is not a common vegetable in my  traditional house cooking. Tomatoes are considered vegetables imported from other countries (though this may not be true any more). This is evidenced in its Chinese name literately translated as Western Persimmon (西红柿)or Foreign brinjal (番茄)。In Hokkien dialects, it was called Caucasian Brinjal (angmokio)!  Therefore, my mom seldom cooked tomatoes in the house.

As my girl is a tomato fanatic, this will definitely her top choice. However, as my boy is tomato phobia, this is definitely a good dish to make my boy eating tomato.  Though he is a tomato phobia but he is an egg fanatic. I usually requested that if he wanted to eat 2 tablespoons of eggs, he will need to finish 1 tablespoon of tomatoes. Haha


STEAMED CHINESE SAUSAGE WITH CHINESE BLACK FERMENTED BEANS (腊肠蒸豆豉)

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The Chinese sausages were prepared by my relatives in China and brought it over. You can hardly find any fats in the Chinese sausages. Before I am on my vegetarian diet, I have tried the sausages before and it is delicious.

The Chinese sausages were cut into slices, steamed with Chinese black fermented beans and chopped garlics. May be after my vegetarian diets end, I shall cook this. Good thing about having this post is that it can remind me of what I should cooked when I run out of ideas.


PIGTAILS PORK BELLIES SOUP (猪尾猪肚汤)

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I never have this combination before, pork bellies plus pigtails. The reason is because both meats have different cooking times. You know pork bellies are rather difficult to cook until soft. So, it is not easy to cook this soup. Even if you used pressure cooker, both items will have to be cooked separately. There is no vegetables or white peppers. It is pure meat broth!

If you ask me whether it is yummy or not, of course, I can’t tell you directly because I did not taste it. However, from my years of cooking experience, I can tell you that it is a good soup because the soup had turn milky meaning all the gelatine from the meat have been dissolved in the soup/broth.

Don’t believe me, freeze it and you will see that it become jellish and you can use a knife to cut it into small pieces. Teochew dialect group also have a dish that after braising certain meat for a long time, they cut the meat into very small pieces, freeze the broth and become a jelly. The jelly was then cut into small pieces and served as cold dish (猪头粽)


STIR FRIED CHINESE WATER CRESS (清炒西洋菜)

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I remembered when I told my mother in law and wife to stir fry water cress previously, they are against it as they always used water cress to cook soup. It is generally true that most Chinese dialect groups like to boil soup with this vegetable. However, when I travelled to China, I always have stir fried water cress in restaurants. Usually, this vegetable were stir fried using garlic without any other ingredients.

Try and tell me whether it is nice or not! Remember that you have to stir fry the vegetables using high heat, otherwise, it may be bitter.


STEAMED KUDZU FLOUR COATED PORK WITH PUMPKIN (南瓜米粉肉)

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When I asked for the name of the dish, I was told  “namguamifenrou”. However, I can’t find any rice vermicelli or Beehoon. Later she explained the 米粉 is not rice vermicelli, it means “rice flour”. Though the name is called rice flour, the coating of the meat can be any types of flour. It can be corn flour, sweet potato flour, potato flour and etc.…But today the flour that she used is kudzu flour (葛根粉). Again this is brought from Jiangxi and she disclosed that this was made from wild kudzu roots.

Kudzu has many health benefits and among them are relief symptoms of postmenopausal women, reducing alcohol intake, alleviating cluster headaches, managed metabolic syndromes etc. etc. etc. In Singapore, we do have a type of Chinese instant flu medicine called Kudzu soup (葛根汤) that you consumed when you have a fever and it is believed that it will help to reduce your body temperature. You may want to know more about kudzu from here.

Coming back to the dish. Meat were seasoned and coated with kudzu flour. The meat was then placed on top of the pumpkins and steamed under high heat until the pumpkins were soft. The purpose of the flour is to retain the meat juiciness in the process of steaming. Any meat juices that escaped will dripped into the pumpkins those flavoured the pumpkins.

Lastly, I want to convey my sincere thanks to my relatives who cooked us a sumptuous meal and we really appreciate that.

Hope you like the post today and I find this post is meaningful to share with readers about other different types of Chinese cuisines.

Have a nice day and cheers.