Buddha’s Delight aka Luohan Zhai (罗汉全斋 或 罗汉菜)

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INTRODUCTION

Luohan Zhai (罗汉斋) is a very representative dish or iconic of Mahayana Buddhism..The stew of 18 vegetarian cooking ingredients and the 18 ingredients represent the 18 arhat, the disciples of Buddha. In Wikipedia, it was written that:

“The Eighteen Arhats (Chinese: 十八羅漢/十八阿羅漢; pinyin: Shíbā Luóhàn/Shíbā āLuóhàn; Wade-Giles:Lóhàn) are depicted in Mahayana Buddhism as the original followers of the Buddha who have followed the Eightfold Path and attained the Four Stages of Enlightenment. They have reached the state of Nirvana and are free of worldly cravings. They are charged to protect the Buddhist faith and to await on earth for the coming of Maitreya, a prophesied enlightened Buddha to arrive on earth many millennia after Gautama Buddha’s death and nirvana. In China, the eighteen arhats are also a popular subject in Buddhist art, such as the famous Chinese group of glazed pottery luohans from Yixian of about 1000.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighteen_Arhats)

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There is another name for this dish in Western world, the Buddha’s delight. It was written that:

“Buddha’s delight, often transliterated as Luóhàn zhāi, lo han jai, or lo hon jai, is a vegetarian dish well known in Chinese and Buddhist cuisine. It is sometimes also called Luóhàn cài (simplified Chinese: 罗汉菜; traditional Chinese: 羅漢菜). The dish is traditionally enjoyed by Buddhist monks who are vegetarians, but it has also grown in popularity throughout the world as a common dish available as a vegetarian option in Chinese restaurants. The dish consists of various vegetables and other vegetarian ingredients (sometimes with the addition of seafood or eggs), which are cooked in soy sauce-based liquid with other seasonings until tender. The specific ingredients used vary greatly both inside and outside Asia. In the name luóhàn zhāi, luóhàn – short for Ā luóhàn (simplified Chinese: 阿罗汉; traditional Chinese: 阿羅漢; pinyin: Ā LuóHàn) – is the Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit arhat, meaning an enlightened, ascetic individual or the Buddha himself. Zhāi (simplified Chinese: 斋; traditional Chinese: 齋; pinyin: zhāi) means “vegetarian food” or “vegetarian diet.The dish is usually made with at least 10 ingredients, although more elaborate versions may comprise 18 or even 35 ingredients.[1] If 18 ingredients are used, the dish is called Luóhàn quánzhāi (simplified: 罗汉全斋; traditional: 羅漢全齋)”

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Towards the end of my vegetarian diet last month. I have decided to prepare this dish as a respect to my vegetarian diet. This is an important dish and I have put a lot of emphasis on the dish. it took me a few hours to get ready 18 ingredients .. and finding the 18 ingredients is really a headache and I have to substitute a fair bit of the ingredients..

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As per Chinese Baike, it was written:that out of the 18 ingredients, 3 must be mushrooms, 3 must be fungus and it usually pair with other soya bean products.

“罗汉斋是取十八罗汉吉祥之意,以十八种素菜精制而成,这道菜里的食材虽不名贵,但是要凑齐三菇三耳等等,却是颇费心思的;正宗的做法里烹饪步骤也相当繁复,所以也有说这道菜是佛门最奢华的一道素斋。”(Source: http://www.baike.com/wiki/%E7%BD%97%E6%B1%89%E6%96%8B)

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This dish is not a dish that is usually cooked for daily consumption  unless during special occasions due to its large varieties and quantities of ingredients being used. It is ideal if there is a vegetarian reception or family gathering. The final dishes is of quite a bit portion and it took us two days to finish all that I have cooked.

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In this recipe, I will not be providing the quantities and I will list out the ingredients I used for reference. If you are serious to cook this dish, you will understand how the dish work after you read the recipes.. 

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: About 6-8 adults servings

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  • A handful of white fungus (云耳)- soaked
  • A handful of black fungus (黑木耳) – soaked
  • A few monkey head mushrooms or Hericium (猴头菇) – soaked
  • A few winter mushrooms (香菇)- soaked
  • A handful of dried lilies (金针) – soaked
  • A small pack of white jade mushrooms (白玉菇) – cleaned
  • A small carrot (胡萝卜) – cut into small pieces
  • A handful of water chestnuts (荸荠) – skinned and cut into halves
  • Some broccoli (西兰花)- cleaned and cut into big pieces
  • Some asparagus (芦笋) – Skin and cut into big pieces
  • Some pumpkin (金瓜) – cut into big pieces
  • Some bamboo shoots (芦笋) – cut into bite size chunks
  • A handful of lotus seeds (莲子) – soaked
  • A handful of cashew nuts (腰豆)
  • Some bean curd skin – (豆腐皮)
  • Some firm deep fried bean curd – taukwa (炸豆干) – cut into big pieces
  • Some deep fried bean curd sticks  (豆腐支) – Soaked and cut into big chunks
  • few sprigs of coriander (芫茜)

Others

  • Few tablespoons of cooking oil
  • Some ginger slices
  • Pinches of salt
  • Few tablespoons of vegetarian oyster sauce
  • Dashes of white pepper
  • Drops of sesame oil
  • Some starch solution (1 tablespoon of corn starch mixed with 3 tablespoons of water)

Note: To make it a luxury version, monkey head mushroom is a must as it is one of the most expensive vegetarian ingredients

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a pot, put some oil and salt, bring to boil. Blanch the broccoli, asparagus, pumpkin  and carrots for 4-5 minutes until soft . Drain and set side.

  • In a clay pot or wok, add a few tablespoons of oil, sauté the ginger slices and winter mushrooms until fragrant. Add the ingredients in the following order; black fungus, monkey head mushrooms, cloud fungus, bamboo shoots and red carrots. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes, add the white mushrooms, dried water lilies, water chestnuts , lotus seeds, firm bean curd and deep fried bean curd sticks. Stir fried for another 2-3 minutes until the flavour incorporated.

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  • Add adequate water that cover 3/4 the height of the ingredients. Add salt and vegetarian oyster sauce to taste. Stir until well combined. Bring to boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes until the ingredients are soft. Add the bean crud skin and blanch vegetables. Let it simmer for another 2-3 minutes.  Before off the heat, add the starch solution. Simmer until starch thickens which took about 1-2 minutes. Off the heat and let it rest in the clay pot for another 15 – 30 minutes for the flavour to develop  For serving, add the coriander, dust with some white pepper and drizzle with sesame oil. Best served hot in a clay pot.

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CONCLUSION

Don’t be disheartened by the large varieties of ingredients to be used. Just remember to qualify for the  name “Buddha’s delight”, there must be at least 10 ingredients unless you are preparing the full version like this recipe that uses 18 ingredients.. The taste of the dish is very delicious .   I have done my part of preparing this dish during my vegetarian diet 2015 and I am finally able to share this famous iconic Buddhism cuisines for those who are interested. With regard the over all timing of cooking and overall seasoning, readers will have to exercise discrete judgement and it will very much depends on your pot and type of ingredients used.  Feel free to change the ingredients but you must have 3 mushrooms and 3 fungi.. (note I can only found 2 fungi, ha-ha)

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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)

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

 IMG_6561 “Fat Choy” or “ Black Moss”

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

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

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing all other ingredients

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


Frying the mock goose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CONCLUSION

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

Hope you like the post today. Cheers

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

Chinese New Year Cookies21


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

 

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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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Vegetarian Pizza Is Just As Tasty ! Simple And Basic Vegetarian Pizza Preparation

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INTRODUCTION

I loved pizza. Pizza is one of the most common food that I ordered when I have meals in Western Restaurants. I love pizza for its dough and cheese. It is a comfort food that I can easily eat an 6 inches diameter pizza. However. I have never really ever prepare pizza since I start my baking 15 years ago. I am thinking that since I have made bread, cakes, muffins cupcakes etc., why don’t I make my own pizza?

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In my Facebook group : Food Bloggers and Foodies United, one of the bloggers Ms Ainy Wajahat from Pakistan have posted some pizza recipes and I promised here that I will bake some pizza. Therefore, I have based on her recipes to make the dough. For the toppings, since I am still on the vegetarian diet, I have used mostly vegetables found in my fridge.

Initially, I intended to make my own pasta sauce. Somehow, as I am too tired that afternoon, I rushed to a provision store nearby and bought a can of ready made pasta sauce. You can read the making of Pasta Sauce from fresh tomatoes HERE.

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Instead of preparing it  in the traditional round shape pizza, I have opted to make a rectangular shape pizza which is easier for me to bake and cut for later serving. I made the dough in the morning and intended to have the pizza for lunch, somehow, the family members decided to go out for lunch, therefore, I froze my dough in the fridge and only made the pizza during dinner time.

Making pizza is really simple and at times, I just wonder why shall I pay so much for pizzas that were sold in the eating outlets.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Dough – Recipe adapted from Ainy Cooks

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  • 500 grams plain flour

  • 30 grams butter (at room temperature) or olive oil or ghee or normal cooking oil

  • 300 ml of water

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 tablespoon of instant yeast

Toppings

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  • Some Enoki mushrooms (cut into half)

  • Some fresh mutton mushrooms (shredded)

  • Some fresh sweet corns

  • Some green capsicums (shredded)

  • Some sausages (for my kids portion)

  • 1 tin of pasta sauce about –about 500 grams

  • Abundant of mozzarella cheeses or cheddar cheeses or goat cheese or other cheeses of your choice. 

The ingredients here are for reference only. You can add a whole range of your preferred vegetable such as tomatoes, pineapples, preserved olives, celeries and etc..

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a big mixing bowl, place all materials except butter/ghee/cooking oil/olive oil and use a dough hook to mix until well mix. Add in butter and continue to beat until the dough is smooth. Let it proof for at least 1 hour or until the dough size double. Use a cling wrap or a wet towel to cover the top.

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  • Lightly grease a baking tin and pre-heat your oven to 200 degree Celsius.

  • Punch your dough in the centre to let the air escape. Lightly knead and use a roller pin to roll into  a flat piece resembling the shape of the baking tin. It will be about 0.5-1 cm thick for the dough to cover all the tin area. Make it as even as possible.

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  • Use a fork to lightly make some holes on top of the dough. As this is a big piece of pizza, this is to let the air to have some holes to escape.

  • Spread some pasta sauce on top of the dough

  • Fill the top with your choice of vegetables  and meats, if desired. sprinkle some Italian herbs mix such as basil, oregano etc..

  • Sprinkle sparingly with mozzarella cheese or other cheeses with your choice.

I have make half of the pizza as vegetarian and another half into ham and sausage pizzas for my kids.

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  • Bake your pizza in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the bases are cooked and cheeses have melt.

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  • Cur into your desired size and shape and best serve hot with your choice of additional sauces such as Tabasco sauces, mayonnaise or just plain.

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CONCLUSION

This was one of my very first basic vegetarian pizza that I have made  with great success. The post was very short because it deals with basic pizza preparation. More variations will come and Guaishushu will tailor the taste to the very Asian taste such as curry and etc.. However, that shall have to wait after Guaishushu finishes his vegetarian diet.

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

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You Stingy Old Man, You Ruined My Mexican Coffee Buns–Polo Buns and Mexican Coffee Buns

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INTRODUCTION

Please scroll down for the updated posts

Guaishushu is seriously regretting for his “creativities” and “stinginess”. He made a batch of Polo buns and Mexican Coffee Buns. However, as the final proofing of his bun is less than his desired diameter, he was left with some coffee pastry dough. Instead of throwing it away, half way when he baked the buns, he just took out the buns and pumped in the left over coffee pastry dough thinking it will melt and become a coffee buns with double dose of crusty coffee toppings… And the end, he found that instead of making it more beautiful, he made a bunch of ugly buns… Well, he still decided to share the recipe here as readers can just follow the recipe and get some good quality buns…… Don’t be misled by Guaishushu’s pictures.

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POLO BUNS AND MEXICAN COFFEE BUNS

Polo bun or pineapple bun is a type of soft, sweet bun commonly found in Asia. The word “Polo” in Mandarin literally translated to pineapple. In another word, it is supposed to be a soft bun that have skin that resembles the skin of pineapples. Usually what is being sold in the market is with fillings such as barbecue pork. However, as I am on a vegetarian diet, I have opted to make it into a plain bun for breakfast. The buns were wrapped with a soft cookie liked dough on top of the buns, when it proved for the second time, the plain dough will start to make the soft cookie liked dough to break and those resembling the skin of a pineapple. Some have used a knife to cut into a pattern of a pineapple skin.

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Mexican coffee buns is popularized by Rotiboy in Malaysia and it is a type of sweet bun with coffee flavoured crusty toppings. Usually, inside the buns, there is  a slice of butter which will melt when the buns are baked. Therefore the buns is full of buttery flavour.

THIS IS DEFINTELY A WORKABLE RECIPE AND IF YOU LOOK AT MY WORK IN PROGRESS PICTURES, YOU WILL SEE THE IT IS OKAY UNTIL THE VERY LAST MOMENT WHEN GUAISHUSHU IS GREEDY TO ADD ADDITIONAL COFFEE TOPPINGS.

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This post is a rather long post and have the following sections

Section A: Preparing the Buns

Section B: Preparing the Polo Buns Crusty Toppings

Section C: Preparing the Mexico Buns Crusty Toppings

Section D: Preparing Polo Buns for Baking

Section E: Preparing the Mexico Buns for Baking


SECTION A: PREPARING OF BUNS

What is required

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  • 500 g bread flour

  • 100 g castor sugar

  • Yeast one packet (about 11 grams)

  • 30 grams of butter (at room temperature)

  • Pinches of salt

  • 50 grams eggs (about 1 egg)

  • 240 grams of water


STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Mix all ingredients except softened butter and beat at slow speed for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the softened butter and continue kneading at medium high-speed for about 20-30 minutes or when the dough did not stick to the wall of your mixing bowl and do not break when you pull the dough.
  • In the flat surface dusted with normal or bread flour, take out the dough from the mixing bowl and slightly knead it using hand for 1-2 minutes and shape it into a ball.
  • lightly oil you mixing bowl and place the ball in the bowl. Cover with damp cloth or cling wrap (to prevent moisture loss).

  • Leave it to proof until almost double in size. This should be about 30-45 minutes depending on the day’s temperature.

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SECTION B: PREPARING THE POLO BUNS CRUSTY TOPPINGS

What is required

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  • 75 grams butter, melted

  • 110 grams of bread flour self raising flour, sifted

  • 50 grams of icing sugar, sifted

  • 25  40 grams of eggs, lightly beaten

  • 30 grams of milk powder
  • One egg yolk for egg washing
  • Some sugar for sprinkling


Steps of preparation

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  • Melt the butter in an microwave oven for 1 minute.

  • Add in beaten eggs, sifted icing sugar, milk powder and sifted bread flours self raising flour. Mixed well until it form a soft dough.

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  • Divide the dough into 8 equal portions.

  • Shape in round shape and set aside for later use.


Section C: Preparing the Mexico Buns Crusty Toppings

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What is required

  • 100 grams of butter, melted

  • 100 grams of flour, sifted

  • 80 grams of icing sugar, sifted

  • 50 grams of eggs, lightly beaten

  • 2 tablespoons of unsweetened instant coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water.

  • 8 pieces of 1 cm x 3cm x 0.2 cm cold cut butter (sizes is just for reference and you can just cut the butter in a small piece) – for usage in Section E. Store the butter in the fridge.


Steps of preparation

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  • Melt the butter in an microwave oven for 1 minute.

  • Add in beaten eggs, sifted icing sugar, instant coffee paste and sifted bread flours. Mixed well until it form a soft sticky dough and set aside.

Note that in the above illustration pictures, I only add in the instant coffee paste at a later stage.


SECTION D: PREPARING POLO BUNS FOR BAKING

* For newer detail instruction of preparing it from frozen dough, please scroll towards the end for the updated post

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  • Take the dough out, punch into the dough to let any trapped air escaped. Knead for one minute and divide into 2 portions. Set aside one portion for Mexico Coffee Buns in Section E.

  • Divide the dough equally into 8 portions and shape it into a round ball.

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  • Use a roller to flatten the “cookie liked dough” as prepared in Section B.

  • Use a brush to lightly brush some water on the plain dough so that it is easier for the cookie dough to cling on the plain dough.

  • Wrap around the plain dough and let it prove until double in size.

  • As the dough proves, you will see the cookies dough started to break. If you find you cookies dough have the tendency to drop from plain dough, spray or brush with additional water to let them stick together.

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  • When double in size, baked in the oven at 190 degree Celsius for about 15 minutes.

* For newer detail instruction of preparing it from frozen dough, please scroll towards the end for the updated post

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SECTION E: PREPARING MEXICO COFFEE BUNS FOR BAKING

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  • Lightly knead the other half of the dough as mentioned in Section D.

  • Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and shape into a sound ball.

  • Use a roller to roll the ball into a flat dough, place a piece of cold butter on top of the dough. Use the dough to wrap a butter and make it into a round ball.

  • Put it in the baking tray and proved until double in size.

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  • Put the coffee soft dough into a piping bag. Cut a small hole in the bottom.

  • Pipe the coffee soft dough on top of the proved buns in the pattern as in the above images.

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  • After finished piping, bake in the oven for 190 degree Celsius for about 15 minutes.

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CONCLUSIONS

In this post, I have shared two types of common sweet buns. If you have some baking basics, it is definitely not a difficult bun to prepare. The crispy toppings of both buns are rather similar except the proportion of each ingredient is different. These toppings can actually be prepared in advance to shorten the preparation time. Remember that you can always wrapped barbecue pork in the Polo buns and you can refer Guaishushu’s Facebook Page post P1 – Roast Meat Bun (烧肉餐包).

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Sincerely, honestly, faithfully hope you like the post today and don’t get discourage by the ugly pictures today. Guaishushu’s promise to be less stingy (at least for photo taking purposes, ha-ha) in my coming illustrations..

Have a nice day and cheers….

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UPDATED ON 2 AUGUST 2014


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I have prepared some Mexican Buns on today and I have decided to take some picture and update the post.

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As the above dough recipes uses tangzhong is rather time consuming, I have decided to use another faster dough as in my Blueberry Sweet Bread. It is definitely a faster and easier straight dough method that yields a fluffier bread.. As for the toppings, it is the same as the recipe above.

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UPDATED POST ON 12 SEPTEMBER 2014

With the frozen dough that I have in the fridge, I have decided to prepare some polo buns for the breakfast.

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There are some changes to the recipe as indicated in “red” as above as I found that this recipe for the topping is better. In addition, I have used another way of preparing the buns.

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  • Pre-heat the oven to 190 degree Celsius.

  • Weigh the  topping and divide into 10 equal balls. Take one topping, shape it like a ball, place a dough ball on top of the crust ball, wrap the topping around the dough ball. Use a knife to cut some lines on on top of the toppings.

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  • Let the dough proof until double in size, egg wash with the egg yolk followed by sprinkling some sugar on top of the crust. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes or when the breads turn golden brown.

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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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Come, Lets Have A “Soaked” Rice Vermicelli Dish–Vegetarian Fried Tom Yam Bee Hoon (素炒东炎炒米粉)

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Being a Chinese, I have been eating fried noodles since I was young. It is usually a one pot noodle dish and a comfort food. There are many types of noodles that can be fried.  It can yellow noodles like spaghettis or rice stripes like kuay teow or rice vermicelli aka bee hoon. Therefore, for me, there is really nothing much to blog about this type of noodles preparation. In essence, I have no recipe since this dish has full flexibility in terms of both ingredients and cooking spices or herbs used.

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This picture shows the various type of noodles that we used for frying in a typical Chinese household kitchen cabinet and the “main actor” today is rice vermicelli or bee hoon which is the white stringy noodles on the top right hand corner.

However,  I have decided to have a short post on fried bee hoon after reading some posts in Facebook and queries on how to fry noodles and especially rice vermicelli. I thought it might be a good idea to share with international readers on how I fried my bee hoon.

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I used to have “arguments” with my mother in law with regards to the ways we fried bee hoon or rice vermicelli and I witnessed the changes in my cooking method over the years. When I was young, I have never like to eat fried bee hoon. One of the reasons was that it was very dry and I always got choked if I ate it in a rush. The way my late mum cooked was also the same as what my mother in law was cooking now.


FRIED VS “SOAKED” RICE VERMICELLI

Traditionally, rice vermicelli was blanched in hot water or soaked in cold water (or some even do not soak in the water). The cook will then stir fried the garlics until fragrant, add in rice vermicelli, put part of condiments, scoop out and set aside. They will then stir fried the meat and vegetable ingredients with garlics and shallots again, until almost cooked, add in the partly fried bee hoon earlier, “bits” of water, stir until well mixed, add in condiments and the dish preparation is considered as done.  The result of this type of fried bee hoon is rather aromatic but the rice vermicelli is very dry and most of the condiments have no time to “penetrate” the rice vermicelli due to the lack of liquids. The rice vermicelli can be rather tasteless.

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Since I started cooking on my own, fried rice vermicelli is always not in my menu though I missed what my mum have cooked. For me, fried bee hoon is always dried and tasteless.

When my kids reach aged 3, I have to introduce them more varieties of noodle dishes. Initially, it was always soupy type of noodles preparation. Then I chanced upon  a Taiwanese Food Program that demonstrate  the cooking of the famous Taiwan Pumpkin Rice Vermicelli (南瓜米粉)using the Xinzhu rice vermicelli (新竹米粉), after that 1 hour program, I have changed my method of cooking rice vermicelli and the rice vermicelli that was cooked will usually be moist and tasty.

The aim of this post is not really to provide a recipe but more to share my method of cooking rice vermicelli. As I am on a vegetarian diet, in this illustration, I have used vegetarian Tom Yam paste to prepare “Vegetarian Tom Yam Fried Bee Hoon”. Of course meat was not included and as I said earlier, the noodle dish is with full flexibility and you can add in any ingredients suitable to your family taste buds.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

All ingredients here are substitutable. I am frying vegetarian rice vermicelli and you can definitely add in prawns, meat stripes (like chicken fillets, pork bellies slices and etc.) if you wish.

Quantities are intentionally omitted as I have raid my fridge to come out with these ingredients. Use some less fresh vegetables if you want to. For me, the ingredients of fried bee hoon is based on what you have in fridge and what suits your family’s taste buds.  As the taste of the  ready made pastes can vary considerably, therefore, you will have to “test” your fried rice vermicelli after you have fried it and readjust the taste, if necessary. Therefore all ingredients and quantities here are for references only.

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  • Some black fungus, soaked and cut in stripes

  • Some dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked and cut in stripes

  • Some dried bean curd cut in stripes

  • Some dried tofu puff cut in small cubes

  • Some bean sprouts or cabbage cut in stripes

  • Some green chillies cut in small pieces (optional)

  • Some ginger slices (note that you can always add in slices of shallots and garlics)

  • Some red carrots, julienned into thin stripes.

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  • Some enoki mushrooms

  • Some rice vermicelli (soaked in cold water) and I have use half a standard package of dried rice vermicelli.

  • Few tablespoons of vegetarian Tom Yam paste. (You can always substitute to normal Tom Yam paste)

Note:

You can don’t soak your rice vermicelli if you prefer. If you don’t soak, in subsequent steps, your broth will need to have more. For me, we prefer to soak the rice vermicelli because it will wash away dirt that we can’t see. In addition, it will soften the rice vermicelli.


STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing the Egg Stripes For Garnishes

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  • Lightly beat 2-3 eggs.

  • In a big non stick frying pan, pour the beaten eggs to the non stick frying pan to prepare a thin omelette.

  • As long as there are no runny yolks, it is considered as cooked.

  • Cut the egg omelette into thin stripes.

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  • In a big frying pan, have 1-2 tablespoon of cooking oil. Stir fry your garlics and/or shallots and/or gingers until fragrant. If you have dried mushroom, you can fried at the same time.

  • Add in your ingredients . The order of adding ingredients are as follows: Meat followed by vegetables that are difficult to cook followed by leafy vegetables. Any vegetables that can withstand long periods of cooking shall be added first. Vegetables that cannot withstand long periods of cooking such as bean sprouts shall be added just before you off the heat.

  • Add in  1-2 tablespoons of vegetarian Tom Yam paste, adequate water to cover your ingredients (adequate water means: about 1 cm above all your ingredients). Stir well and bring to boil under high heat for 1-2 minutes.

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  • Add in the Enoki mushrooms (or beansprouts), rice vermicelli, stir well and let it simmer under medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Off the heat.

  • Add in your choice of condiments such as light soya sauce, flavour enhancers like mushrooms concentrate, salt, pepper and etc..  Note: Taste before you add because different brands will have different concentration and some can be extremely sour or salty.

  • If you find that your rice vermicelli is a bit dry, add in some more water. Remember that the rice vermicelli will continue absorbing the water after you off the heat. So let it rest at least 5-10 minutes before your serving.

  • You may want to use a kitchen scissor to roughly cut the rice vermicelli as some rice vermicelli are rather long. However the step is optional.

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  • Preferably serve hot garnished with egg stripes, chopped Chinese celeries, coriander leaves or any other garnishes you deemed suitable. Seaweed stripes and meat floss are two great alternatives.


CONCLUSION

Is it not this is a simple one pot noodle dish and a comfort food? Don’t worry to add in water in this stir fried rice process. The water had the role to blend the ingredients and sauces into a Tom Yam soup. This will help the rice vermicelli to absorb the Tom Yam broth. Whether you want to call it a fried rice vermicelli or a “soaked” rice vermicelli is irrelevant to me. Do you concur with me? What is important is that it is delicious and can wake up the palates of my guests or family members.

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

 

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