Snake Tongue Tea? Gosh.. I Am Going Away……白花蛇舌草罗汉果茶

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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that the body is in its best condition when the Yin and Yang is balanced. I am no expert in this field but being  a Chinese, I was “brainwashed” about the need to cleanse /balance your body with some foods and drinks such that your body is in the top notch condition.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_Chinese_medicine

One of cheapest way of “self medication” or “self balancing” about your body’s Yin and Yang is preparing some herbal drinks at home. There are many many herbs that sometimes i seriously doubt that the grass/weeds that I stepped under my feet are edible and are types of herbs.

In fact, today, one of the herb that I wanted to share with all is a common grass that can be found in many countries. But don’t simply pluck from the streets and cook it unless you are 100% sure of that is exact the plant. Eating plants that have toxins can be disastrous to your body!


WHY THIS DRINK?

Last week, I am eating a lot of baked pastry, according to TCM, it brought heat to your body. I am having a bit of sore throat and today when I am doing the marketing,  I saw these plants. It is in a store selling all sort of herbs in a wet market. Beside selling this herb, they also sell other types of “body cooling” herbs such as purple cane, rhoeo tricolour and other general cooking herbs such as Thai basil, mint leaves and etc..

I WAS TOLD THAT IT IS A COMMON ITEM AND IF YOU CAN GET THIS HERB IN ITS RAW/FRESH FORM, YOU CAN TRY THE DRIED VERSION IN THE TRADITIONAL CHINESE VERSION MEDICAL SHOP.

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This herb is called Hedyotis Diffusa (白花蛇舌草)scientifically and literally translated from Chinese language as White Flower Snake Tongue Grass! Don’t asked me why this name, Ha-ha.

As Hedyotis Diffusa sound so alien to most readers, shall we have a simpler name Snake Tongue Grass? So, from this point onwards, Hedyotis Diffusa and snake tongue grass shall be used interchangeably.

As per Wikipedia on Heydotis Diffusa, it was written that

Hedyotis diffusa (Chinese: 白花蛇舌草; pinyin: báihuā shéshécǎo; literally “white flower snake-tongue grass”, sometimes abbreviated to 蛇舌草 shéshécǎo) is a kind of herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is sometimes combined with Siraitia grosvenorii (simplified Chinese: 罗汉果; traditional Chinese: 羅漢果; pinyin: luóhànguǒ) to make hot drinks like Lohoguo of Guongsei (simplified Chinese: 罗汉果蛇舌草精; traditional Chinese: 羅漢果蛇舌草精; pinyin: luóhànguǒ shéshécǎo jīng) or Luohanguo Pearl and Sheshecao Beverage.

Therefore, in this illustration, I have combined with Siritia Grosvenorii (罗汉果), hereinafter refer to as Lohanguo), another common traditional Chinese medicine ingredient.  It is a natural sweetener and is used to treat diabetes in TCM. This combination is nothing raw, you can see it in Chinese Provision shops that sell in instant form.

Source: http://www.fjzzyy.cn/product.asp


BENEFITS OF SNAKE TOUNGE GRASS (HEDYOTIS DIFFUSA)

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Snake tongue grass is believed to have inflammation properties and ability to prevent tumour growth. In addition, it is used to clear heat, counteract toxins, remove damp, treatment of boils and abscesses, snake bite, sore throat etc..

If you goggled heydyotis diffusa, you will note that there are lots of research relating to studies on its role on cancer prevention. The articles below list out the major health benefits of snake tongue grass which includes mostly inhibit cancerous growth of many types of cancer- Chinese herbs in Western View – Baihuasheshecao – health benefits and side effects.

 Sourcehttp://www.baike.com/wiki/白花蛇舌草

In another study to study the anticancer properties of Oldenlandia Diffusa published by US National Library of Medicines in 2004, it was concluded that:

“Oldenlandia diffusa extract effectively inhibited the growth of all the eight cancer cell lines and induced significant increase of apoptosis. The extract exhibited minimum toxic effect on normal pancreatic cells. Furthermore, there was a significant inhibition of lung metastases in the animal model with no noticeable adverse effects. The herb extract could be a potential anticancer agent.”(Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15273074)

As with other herbals, it is advisable that PREGRNANT WOMEN SHALL REFRAINED FROM DRINKING THE TEA UNLESS WITH ADVISE FROM MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS.


As with my other drink series, since this is a Chinese herbs, for the benefits of my readers who are Chinese speaking, I have specifically include this excerpt. Note that the Chinese and English versions are not the same as they are from the different source.

  • 痈肿疮毒,咽喉肿痛,毒蛇咬伤。本品苦寒,有较强的清热解毒作用,用治热毒所致诸证,内服外用均可。如单用鲜品捣烂外敷,治疗痈肿疮毒,也可以本品与金银花、连翘、野菊花等药同用;用治肠痈腹痛,常与红藤、败酱草、牡丹皮等药同用;若治咽喉肿痛,多与黄芩、玄参、板蓝根等药同用;若用治毒蛇咬伤,可单用鲜品捣烂绞汁内服或水煎服,渣敷伤口,疗效较好,亦可与半枝莲、紫花地丁、蚤休等药配伍应用。近年利用本品清热解毒消肿之功,已广泛用于各种癌证的治疗
  • 热淋涩痛。本品甘寒,有清热利湿通淋之效,单用本品治疗膀胱湿热,小便淋沥涩痛,亦常与白茅根、车前草、石韦等同用。” (Source:中医e百网页)


BENEFITS OF ARHAT FRUIT OR LUOHANGUO (SIRITIA GROSVENORII)

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Luohanguo is also called arhat fruit or monk fruits. The plant is cultivated for its fruit, whose extract is nearly 300 times sweeter than sugar and has been used in China as a natural low-calorie sweetener for cooling drinks, and in traditional Chinese medicine to treat diabetes and obesity. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siraitia_grosvenorii). It is very common and you can easily purchased it in any Chinese herbal shops at a very reasonable price.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • One bunch of fresh snake tongue grass of about 500 g. Usually it comes with root and cost about SGD1.20 for it (this price is for estimating the quantity of your fresh snake tongue grass)

  • 6 dried lohanguo

  • 400 gram of rock sugar (can be adjusted according to individual preference)

  • 4 litres of water.

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Soak your snake tongue grass in clean water for 15 minutes

  • Clean thoroughly the grass and watch out for the root portion which may have some soils stuck to the plants.

  • Use clean water to rinse the cleaned snake tongue grass.

The soaking of the snake tongue grass is requested by my mother in law which i think it make sense. Be it commercially cultivated or “plucking” from the wild, we will never know if there are any pesticides, therefore like other vegetables, it is a precautionary steps to wash away the pesticides (if any) by soaking in the water.

You may need quite a lot of water to clean the natural herbs. It is my usual habit to recycle  these water for watering my plants! These are just muddy water and throwing away is a waste. If you do have a lot of plants at home, I would encourage to use this to water your plant or flush your toilet, if you want. You know, I am just a stingy old man! Ha-ha

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  • Break open the lohanguo and look out for any mould in the shell!

 

NOTE

Note that it is not necessary for you to break your lohanguo like the picture above. I do have the habit to break it and see what is inside. There are a few experiences that I saw mold settling insides the seeds. If it is dry with small patches, i will just wash with cold water. Otherwise, I will throw away. The usual ways of cooking this is just use some hard object to break but not open the lohanguo, throw it in the herbs that you are cooking.

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  • Put 4 litres of water in a big pot. Add in snake tongue grass and lohanguo and bring to boil under high heat!

  • Once boiled, turned to medium heat and boiled for another 15-20 minutes.

  • Add in rock sugar and let it boiled for another 5 minutes.

NOTE:

The preparation of this drink is rather flexible, be it the use of main ingredients (snake tongue grass and lohanguo) or side ingredients (rock sugar) and water, You can always adjust to suit your family’s taste buds. Personally, I will start with less water and some rock sugar. If i find it too sweet or concentrated, i will just dilute with water.

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  • Strain the herbal teas and store in a glass bottle (preferred if you have). Though it is not advisable to keep this overnight according to TCM, however, if needed, store in fridge in a clean (preferred if sterilized with hot water) bottle.


VARIATIONS

  • As the drink can be slightly bland, you can add in a small quantity of dry longan to add flavour to it. I have added this to make my kids drinking this tea.


CONCLUSION

I am eating a piece of my zebra patterned pound cake with a glass of this tea as a snack this morning. Chinese believed that all oven baked pastries are “heaty” to your body. There is a constant need to have some drinks to “cool” your body. Too much “heat” in your body will cause acne, sore throat, boils, abscesses and etc.. (In Western terms : inflammation). This is pleasant drink and is a choice among many body cooling drinks that are cooked by Chinese households. You may also interested in my other drink series here:

Have a nice day and don’t forget to cleanse your body! Hope you like the post and cheers.

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Devilled Egg- Simplicity Rules…

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INTRODUCTION

I loved eggs. Be it poached, fried, boiled, braised I liked it. My kids loved eggs, be it poached, fried or boiled, they loved it any forms. My whole family loved eggs, we fight for eggs, fried rice will definitely come with eggs. eggs cooked in any form will be appreciated. If I am not baking, on the average, we will need about 40 eggs for a month. If I am baking. we will need about 20 eggs per week.

We cooked eggs in omelette form, like salted turnip omelette, braised tofu and eggs, minced taukwa omelette, steamed tofu and eggs and etc. We use eggs in almost all the noodles dishes like Singapore fried prawn noodles, Sarawak Laksa and etc. We used eggs to cook our vegetable dishes such as braised luffa with eggs, and etc. We also used them for soup dishes such as shark fin melon soup and etc. Therefore, you can see that we used eggs almost daily in the foods I cooked.  However, I never cooked any egg dishes from Western cuisines besides the normal hard boiled eggs or scrambled eggs.

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While I am searching of some eggs recipe, I came across this term devilled eggs! It caught my attention! What is this cuisine? I goggled and managed to get some definition from Wikipedia.

Devilled eggs (US) or devilled eggs or ‘eggs mimosa’ are hard-boiled eggs, shelled, cut in half and filled with the hard-boiled egg’s yolk mixed with other ingredients such as mayonnaise and mustard,but many other variants exist internationally. Devilled eggs are usually served cold. They are served as a side dish, appetizer or a main course, and are a common holiday or party food. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deviled_egg)

There are many many recipes in the internet and most of which I can’t followed as it utilizes ingredients that I do not have. Therefore, I have decided to prepare my own devilled eggs based on the ingredients that I have.

This is a simple recipe and easily tailored to meet your families taste buds. If you love eggs, you will not be able to reject this simple dish!



WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 6 eggs
  • 1 big tomatoes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of Italian dried herbs

  • 2 tablespoon of mayonnaise


STEP OF PREPARATION

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  • Hard boiled the eggs and shelled the eggs.

  • Cut off 1/3 top part of the eggs and take out the egg yolks.

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  • Chopped the tomatoes and top part of the egg whites (1/3 portion). Add in the herbs, few drops of olive oil or cooking oil, pinches of salt and mixed well;

  • Scope one table spoon into  your choice of egg holder.

Note, depending on how you want to present your dish, this step is optional if you preferred not to use an egg holder.

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  • Mash the egg yolks with a big spoon and add 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise. Mash until as finely as possible.

  • Add in herbs and mixed well. Spooned the egg yolk into the egg whites portion. Sprinkled with more Italian herbs if desired.

  • Can be served as a party snack

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Notes

You can cut the eggs into half and make 12. However, because my eggs are rather small, therefore I have decided to cut out 1/2 and retained the remaining two third. Otherwise, if you cut into half, you can cut it symmetrically and cut of the bottom to let it “sit” stably in the plate.

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CONCLUSION

It is rather easy to make this dish and have full flexibility of tailoring to meet your family’s taste buds. It is definitely a good choice of party foods due to its simplicity of preparation but elegant presentation!

Hope you like this short post! Have a nice day!

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I am submitting this post to Little Thumbs Up “Eggs” event organized by organized by Bake for Happy Kidsmy little favourite DIY and hosted by (Baby Sumo of Eat Your Heart Out). You can link your egg recipes here.

Link up your recipe of the week

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 30-7-2013

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You may be surprised that today I am having some western meals. In fact, I have never cooked western meals before. This should be one of the very first full course meals that I have prepared. Well, today is my son’s birthday and I just want to expose him something different. In addition, my girl is crazy about baked potatoes and I thought why not I “try” to cook them something what they like…… 


MENUS

Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup (with fresh sweet corn kernel and button mushroom slices

 

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Entree

Tomato salsa (served with kiwi fruit cubes and sprinkle with mozzarella cheeses and Italian herbs)

 

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Main Dish

Grilled halibut with lemon cream sauce; and

Asian style grilled chicken breast with Japanese sweet barbecue sauce

Side dishes: Baked potato and sweet corns, buttered broccoli and asparagus and cocktail sausages

 

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Dessert

Durian Cheese Cake

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I am really not good in preparing western meals and I have well underestimated the time of preparation. We only can had dinner by 7:30 pm and I am really exhausted by then.

The kids loved the food especially the grilled halibut. For this dish, I have seasoned it with Italian herbs (oregano and basil), salt and bit of butter. I topped with some mozzarella cheese and grilled it for about 15 minutes.  I used the “juices” secreted out from the fish to make into cream sauce and it is exceptionally sweet without any seasonings and condiments.

As for the Asian style grilled chicken, apparently they don’t really able to appreciate it because I have used chicken breast instead of chicken thigh meat. They are complaining a bit hard and fibrous. I may have over grilled the chicken breast.

The girls are complaining that the serving is too huge for them. However, she managed to finish the baked potato. A really simple side dish and personally I loved it. I have to say I never knew that baked potatoes tasted so good as I usually order fries rather than baked potato or meshed potatoes. This was requested by my girl specifically she wanted baked potato.

The cream of mushroom soup was good. Initially, I was thinking of using the ready made cream of mushroom soup. Since I have some canned mushrooms and some cream at home, I have decided to make my own cream of mushroom soup. I butter fried the chopped onions and garlics, add chicken stocks, fresh kernel corns and mushrooms and let it boiled until the onion were very soft. Thereafter, creams were added to thicken the soup. That was a hit also.

As for the dessert – durian cheese cake. I have prepared it about 2 days ago and it is really a very rich and creamy cake. It is very nice but both me and my wife have eaten in guilt. Usually, for 1 piece, 4 of us shared and for my kids, they don’t really have sweet tooth and after one two bites, they just stopped. Frankly speaking, for an 8 “ cake , after 2 days, I still have 4 pieces left (after 2 pieces given to my neighbours). I am in the process of compiling the post and will share with readers very soon.

Lastly, hope you like the post to day. A lighter note before I end, while I am writing this, I heard my boy told her auntie  (my wife’s sister} that one of his birthday wishes is  that “there will be endless supplies of sausages and eggs”, his favourite foods … Such a simple wish… Haha.

Have a nice day and cheers.


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Hey, This is not Italian Meat Rolls, It Is Chinese Meat Rolls Called Ngoh Hiang

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INTRODUCTION

This post is sharing the Chinese version of meat rolls or Ngoh Hiang. It is different from the meat roll in Western cuisines such as the Italian meat rolls. Usually, minced meat (usually pork) and prawns were used and wrapped in a dry bean curd sheet.

Meat roll is an extremely popular dish for Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese households. The number of recipes available are the same with the numbers of Chinese grandmothers meaning every household have their unique recipe and all claims that theirs is the best. Depending on the dialect groups, meat rolls can be also be called ngoh hiang (five spices or 五香) or lok bak (卤肉)or hay g’ng (虾卷)

This recipe of mine, again is based on my recollection of what my late mother have prepared and the various meat rolls that I have tasted throughout the years.  I have purposely prepared this  meat roll for the noodle dish Lor Mee, a common Hokkien dish in Penang.

Usually, we prepared more meat rolls than required and stored in the refrigerators. When we wanted to serve the meat rolls, we will re-heat it.  Chinese meat rolls traditionally are commonly prepared for religious ceremonies or important house gatherings. The process  of preparation can be slightly laborious and usually ladies in the house were called to help with the preparation.

 


MEAT ROLLS OR NGOH HIANG DEFINED

As per Wikipedia: 

Ngo hiang (Chinese: 五香; pinyin: wǔxiāng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ngó͘-hiong), also known as heh gerng (Chinese: 虾卷; pinyin: xiājuàn; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: hê-kǹg) or lor bak (Chinese: 五香滷肉; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ngó͘-hiong-ló͘-bah) is a unique Hokkien and Teochew dish served in many of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore’s hawker centres and in Cebú in the Philippines, in addition to its place of origin in eastern China. In parts of Malaysia the dish is known as loh bak or lor bak.

It is essentially a composition of various meats and vegetables and other ingredients, such as a sausage-esque roll consisting of minced pork and prawn (or fish) seasoned with five-spice powder (Hokkien: 五香粉, ngó͘-hiong-hún) after which it is named, rolled inside a beancurd skin and deep-fried, lup cheong, cucumber, century egg, ginger, deep-fried egg, deep-fried beancurd, fishball and many others. It is usually served with chili sauce and a house-special sweet sauce. Many stalls in Singaporean food courts and hawker centres sell fried bee hoon with ngo hiang; this combination is common for breakfast and lunch. In Indonesia, people enjoy ngo hiang with sambal sauce. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ngo_hiang)

 


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 1 kg of minced meat – In this illustration, I have used minced pork. However, minced chicken breast can also be used.
  • 250 g of prawns cut into small chunks – you can also mince the prawns. I have opted to use chunked prawns instead of minced prawns as  I would like to have some prawns being seen in my meat rolls.
  • 200 g of fish paste (optional). I have used this to enhance the seafood fragrance and improve the binding properties of all materials inside the meat rolls.
  • 4-5 spring onions chopped into small pieces
  • 1 big onion chopped into small pieces
  • 10 water chestnuts peeled and cut into small pieces. The purpose of water chestnuts is to let the meat rolls have some feel of crunchiness when eaten.

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  • half cup of corn flour – purpose is to enhance the springiness of the meat roll;
  • 1 cup of wheat flour – purpose is to enhance the stickiness of the ingredients. Without wheat flour, the meat rolls can be rather loose.
  • 1 egg – purpose to increase the stickiness and fragrance of the meat rolls.
  • 1 tablespoon of salt 
  • 3 tablespoons of light soya sauce to taste
  • 2 teaspoons of five spices powder (optional). Though the name is called Ngoh Hiang (five spices), my family seldom put these spices as our family members do not really like the aroma. However, most of the meat rolls that I have tasted do put these spices.
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oils
  • 5 teaspoons of white pepper
  • 5 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 12 sheets of bean curd sheets of 6 inches x 6 inches big

 


STEPS OF PREPARATION

Mixing the ingredients…….

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  • In a big mixing bowl, place all ingredients together. Use a big spoon to stir until all ingredients are well mixed. As some of the ingredients can be very fine (such as five spice powders, white peppers and etc.), you can also add the ingredients in stages if you find that it is difficult to mix well by putting all the ingredients all at once.
  • The final picture is the well mixed minced meats and it is considered as well mixed when the colour is even and consistent. The minced meat can be rather sticky due to the addition of egg and wheat flour.

 


Rolling the minced meats…

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  • In a flat surface, place a dried bean curd sheet. Use a wet hand to lightly pat the bean curd sheets. The purpose is to make it more flexible as too dry the bean curd sheets can be easily broken.
  • Placed about 150 grams of minced meats on top of the dry bean curd sheets.
  • Make a small roll, fold in the sides, used some of the minced meats or water to apply to the sides and corners of the bean curd sheets. Roll the minced meat until the end of the bean curd sheets. With the minced meat or water at the sides, it will help to  bind the bean curd sheets together.
  • If you runs out of bean curd sheets, you can shape the remaining into a ball and deep frying it. Please refer to the section below “When you runs of bean curd sheets”.

 


Steaming the meat rolls….


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  • In a steamer, place some water and bring to boil.
  • Transfer the meat rolls to the steamer and steamed for 15 minutes. Use a skewer/toothpick to penetrate one of the rolls and ensure that the skewer/toothpick  comes out clean.

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Deep frying the meat rolls……..

This step will involve frying the meat rolls. However, if you do not want the meat roll to be deep fried, you can also served it after steaming by cutting into small slices. Traditional ways of preparation will require the meat rolls to be deep fried such that the bean curd sheets will become crispy and golden brown.

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  • In a deep pot, have some oil until smoking hot. As a test of whether the oil is adequately hot for frying, place a wooden chopstick into the hot oil. If bubbles start to come out, it means that oil is ready for frying.
  • Place the meat rolls into the hot oil and deep fried until golden brown. Note that as the whole roll is already cooked, therefore the purpose of this step is just to ensure that bean curd sheets are crispy and the color is golden brown, therefore, the timing of the deep frying is rather fast usually less than  5 minutes.
  • Take out the meat rolls and place it in a plate with an oil absorbing paper on the plate.
  • Cut into small pieces when serving. Condiments can include sweet chilli sauce or plum sauce.

 


 

 

 

 

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What would happens if you runs out of bean curd sheets….

It is rather difficult to estimate the exact quantity of bean curd sheets that you need. At times, you may run of bean curd sheets as not all rolls are of the same sizes. In that case, you can shape the minced meats into small balls and roll it in the biscuit crumbs before deep frying (steps as above).

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  • Have some biscuits and grind it as fine as possible. Add some corn flour to the biscuit crumbs.
  • Shaped the minced meats into small balls and roll the balls in the biscuit crumbs.
  • Placed in the hot oil until the skin of the balls turns golden brown. Take out and place in an oil absorbing paper.

 


CONCLUSIONS

Meat rolls are a common household dish among Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese.  There are many recipes and each family will claim their is the best. Making meat rolls can be laborious but the moment you put it in your mouth, the taste is worth every efforts preparing it. Meat rolls are usually prepared for religious ceremonies and is served in restaurants as one of the cold dish. It is also used for noodle dishes such as lor mee. A detail post on the preparation of lor mee will be released soon. Preparation of lor mee will require  the use of these meat rolls  and meat balls as the ingredients.

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Hope you LIKE the post to day. Have a nice day and cheers.

 

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Let’s See How An Asian Make The Tomato Pasta Sauce From Scratch ….

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INTRODUCTION

This is the homemade pasta sauce from scratch. I learned this many years ago from one of my French friends staying in Paris, France. When I visited her, she is preparing the pasta sauce and I can vividly remember certain steps in the preparation but sad to say, I can’t really recall the happy time we had during the dinner.

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This post will consist of two parts:

Part 1  –  the making of homemade pasta sauce and

Part 2 – the making of baked pasta with pineapple

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PART I – MAKING OF HOMEMADE PASTA SAUCE


WHAT IS NEEDED

This recipe is adequate to make tomato pasta sauce for at least 6 persons and have about 600 grams left for baked pasta.

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  • 1 kg of tomatoes 
  • 2 big size capsicums (preferably red in colour but green colour is acceptable) – optional 
  • 3 big stalks of celery – optional and in this illustration, I did not include this 
  • 3 large onions 
  • 6 chicken franks – optional
  • 500 g of fresh button mushroom (can be substituted with canned mushrooms) – optional 
  • 500 g of minced meat (beef or chicken or pork). In this illustration, pork was used.

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  • 20 cloves of garlic 
  • 30 grams of butter (can be substituted with olive oils)
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian dried herbs 
  • 100 grams of mozzarella cheese 
  • 10 tablespoons of tomato ketchups (optional, for “colouring” purposes) 
  • 1 pack (about 300g) of pasta of your choice. 
  • Seasoning (Salt, black pepper, sugar)

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PREPARING THE RAW INGREDIENTS……..

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  • Clean the tomato and all other raw ingredients.
  • In a big pot, bring some water to boil. Place the tomato into the hot water and let it boil for a few minutes or until the skin slightly peeled it off. Note that as long as the skin start to break, you can transfer to the cold water as mentioned below.
  • Get ready a pot of icy cold water. Place the tomato in the icy cold water.
  • Peel off the skin by hand which is rather easy.

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  • Cut opened the de-skinned tomato. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
  • Use your hand to squeeze off the seeds and/or juices into a clean container.
  • You can either throw away these juices or keep it as tomato juices. It is okay to drink the seeds as it is very fine and slippery.
  • Set aside the tomato flesh for future uses.

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  • Traditional way of making pasta sauces do not really utilize food processors. However, I have opted to use food processors to cut short the braising time.Traditionally, all items were julienned or cut into small chunks for the cooking.
  • Use the food processors to cut the garlic and onion in small chunks (need not to be overly fine since you are going to braise them), set aside.
  • Use the same blender to blend the red and green capsicum or celery (if any). For celery, you will need to de-skin the celery first before you put into the blender. The red and green capsicum and celery will help to add volumes and flavour to your pasta sauce. If only tomato is used, it may be too sour.

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  • Cut the chicken franks into small chunks. This is optional and rather “Asian” taste. I have put this because my kids love to eat chicken franks.
  • Cut your button mushrooms into thin slices. Canned mushrooms works equally well.
  • Minced meat of your choice. Traditionally, beefs were used. As I do not eat beef, I have substituted with minced pork or at times minced chicken. I have bought the ready made minced meat from the supermarket.
  • Grated mozzarella cheese. I have opted to buy the grated mozzarella cheese but it is not necessary at all. If you have un-grated cheese, you can just cut a slice (without grating) and put it in the sauce later. It will melt subsequently.

THE COOKING BEGINS…..

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  • In a big pot, put the butter and let it melt.
  • Add in the chopped garlics, stir fried until it turns slightly brown or the aroma start to emit.
  • Add in the chopped onion and stir fry for 2 minutes.
  • Add in the chopped green and red capsicums and stir fry for another 2 minutes.

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  • Add in the chopped tomato and bring them to boil under high heat.
  • Once boiled, turn to medium heat and let the mixture simmer for at least half an hour.
  • Add in seasoning and herbs and let them boil for another 5 minutes. Seasonings can include pinches of sugar, black pepper and salt. As for the Italian herbs, I have bought the over-the-counter dried herbs which consist of basil, oregano, garlic, thyme, red bell peppers and parsley.
  • If you just want pure pasta sauce without any meat. You can stop here and you can keep it in sterilized containers and keep for at least a month in the fridge. The steps that follows are meat sauces for the spaghettis or other pastas.

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  • Add in your minced meat and cooked for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add sliced mushrooms and chicken franks.
  • As this is home made pasta sauce, the colour will very much depends on the types of tomato that you bought. In Singapore and Malaysia, it is rather hard for you to find Roman tomato, we can just use whatever tomatoes we have. However, the colour may not be that appealing, you can add in bottled tomato sauce to make the colour darker. In addition, it will help to enhance the flavour of the pasta sauce.

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  • Continue to boil for at least 10 minutes, add mozzarella cheese and once boiled, off the heat and your home made pasta sauce is ready.

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COOKING THE PASTA…..

This is rather standard and you should read the instructions of the packaging for the pasta that comes with it.

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  • In a pot with about 2 litres of water, add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (olive oil) and pinches of salt. Bring to boil under high heat.
  • Add the pasta and continue to boil for 8-10 minutes or till desired texture.
  • Drain away hot water and pour some cold water on top of the pasta for one minute.
  • Drain, add in pasta sauce and garnished with parsley or any other desired herbs  and it is ready to serve.

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CONCLUSION

  • Home made pasta give you the a full flexibility of adapting the ingredients and herbs to your family taste buds and health objectives. Most ingredients are substitutable and trial and error or mix and match appeared to be the best approach to design your own favourite pasta sauce. I have also opted to use food processor in the preparation process and that have cut short the preparation tremendously.
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For my readers from Western countries, since baked pasta and pasta sauce are more popular in your countries, tell me if you think the pasta is yummy and if the baked pasta will suit your taste buds.

Hope you LIKE the post and have a nice day. Cheers.

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What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 16-7-2013

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On 16th July 2013,

Pasta with home made tomato sauce.

Today, I have cooked my pasta sauce from scratch (meaning from tomato). I learned this when I visited one of my French friends in Paris many years ago. I am in the process of compiling a post on this dish and will be shared with readers soon. In the post, you will see how Guaishushu transformed the  pasta sauce to the Asian liking using herbs widely used in this region. Did you notice both the Tabasco sauce and the Asian Chilli sauce? I have not parsley but I substitute with Chinese celery, do you think the taste will blend?

Being home cooked sauce, the color are always not that “appealing” but the taste is definitely worth you to make an effort to cook,

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Did you see the brownish color drinks? These drinks are herbal drinks for cooling the body. It is chrysanthemum (菊花)and prunella vulgaris (夏枯草)flowers tea. You can refer to this post for the picture for the fresh flowers. Is it not a funny combination that having a Western pasta food with Chinese herbal drinks?

Besides cooking this dish, I am baking an uniquely Sarawak (in Island of Borneo) buns called the Sarawak butter buns. The name Sarawak was added in order to avoid confusions with other butter buns commonly found in other parts of the world. Sarawak butter bun is unique because it has an aromatic buttery fillings. I will share the recipe in one to two days time.

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

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Blanching Vegetables in Chinese Cooking – 利用汆烫准备可口的中式的”菜”肴

 

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INTRODUCTION

Traditional Chinese cooking don’t usually use the blanching method for cooking its vegetables. Usually, they stir fried with oil in a hot wok or frying pan. 

My mum will usually take out a frying pan, put in some oil, stir fry the garlic or shallots until golden brown, throw in the vegetables, add seasonings, stir fried for another 1-2 minutes and scope in the plate for serving. That is rather traditional and applicable to almost all types of vegetables. The disadvantages of using oil for stir flying vegetables are that the vegetable’s will lose its color and some vitamins will lose in this process.

In most restaurants, realizing that the color of the vegetables will turn less appealing and that the texture will be compromised, the chef will usually blanched the vegetable before stir frying the vegetables. This will  cut short the stir frying time so as to preserve its greenish appearance and some of the vitamins.

In this post, I will share with you the various combinations that you can prepare your vegetable dish using the water blanching method without stir frying but the dishes are equally tasty. 


WHY THIS POST

My son, aged 7 have a slightly high body mass index and was requested by the school authority to participate in the weight reduction program. Knowing that the school is concerning about his weight issue, I have decided to alter my methods of cooking and one of which is by blanching the vegetables instead of stir frying the vegetables. The first meal (blanched kailan with oyster sauce)  was well received by my family members and the whole plate of vegetables were being snatched by my son, daughter and wife within 5 minutes of putting in the table. Seeing such a good response from the family members, I have decided to explore more vegetables and with as many types of dressing as possible..In the next 9 meals that I prepared, I have created different dressings with different vegetables and to my delight, they don’t really notice the difference and my son have requested for more vegetables..


 

BLANCHING METHOD DEFINED..

According to http://chinesefood.about.com,

“Blanching is a process whereby the food is briefly plunged in boiling water for a moment. Sometimes it is then immediately transferred to ice water to stop the cooking process. This technique is commonly used with Chinese vegetables prior to stir-frying. The goal is to bring out the color and flavor of the vegetable without overcooking.source: (http://chinesefood.about.com/od/glossary/g/blanch.htm)”


BLANCHING OF CHRYSANTHEMUM GREEN ILLUSTRATED

In this post, I will share with readers one vegetable dish that I have prepared for my dinner today – Chrysanthemum green with Chinese black vinegar dressing (春菊拌浙醋)。Measurements were intentionally omitted as it is just vegetables plus seasonings all of which can be adjusted to individual tastes.

Chrysanthemum green is a type of vegetables that are quite common in Korean, Japanese , Taiwanese and Cantonese Cuisines. It can be eaten raw but the stems can be slightly tough. It can be stir fried, blanched or cooked in soup or appeared as a garnish in some Chinese dishes like Taiwanese oyster pancake.

 

WHAT YOU NEED

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  • Some chrysanthemum greens (you can chopped the stems into smaller pieces)
  • Some cherry tomatoes
  • Some sesame seeds, fried onion for garnishing
  • Some light soya sauce, black vinegar or lime juice, sesame oils (onion oil), salt, sugar

 

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash the vegetables and set aside. As this preparation only deal with blanching, you may wish to soak the vegetables in the water for a longer while to clear all unseen particles and chemicals..
  • Take out a container or salad bowl and put in your condiments. In the above picture, I have included some shredded chili, fried onions, Chinese black vinegar, salt, pepper and sesame oil.
  • In a frying pan, put in some water. Add in pinches of salt (as you can see the white patch next to the red color patch) and a few drops of onion oil (cooking oil also can be used). This feel drop of oils are very important to preserve the color of your blanched vegetables and to keep the juices in the vegetables.
  • When the water is boiling, throw in the chrysanthemum green and let it boiled for about 3 minutes.


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  • Add in the cherry tomatoes and blanched for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Sieve the blanched vegetables and transfer to the salad bowl or the mixing container. Note that I have by passed the step of blanching the vegetable in some ice water as the dish will be served immediately after it is prepared. However, if you prefer, you can dip the blanched vegetable in ice water of about 1 minutes to preserve its crunchiness (not necessary depending on type of vegetables) and color.
  • Stir until well mix and transfer to another plate. Sprinkle with sesame seed and best served hot with rice.

The dish is simple and as chrysanthemum greens are a bit tough, you can blanch it longer and cut into smaller pieces. This dish is full of vitamins and the Chinese black vinegar dressing is just like the French dressing in French cuisines. Of course there are oriental elements such as sesame oil and black vinegar that make it taste like Chinese cuisines. Should I have lime (kalamansi with me), I will use it instead of black vinegar. It is fully flexible be it type of dressings, toppings and vegetables.


VARIATIONS

For the sake of oil less cooking, there are many Chinese vegetable dishes which can use the blanching method instead of traditional stir frying method.

Blanching method of Chinese vegetable dishes like the Western cuisine’s salad preparation is a matter of finding the right combination of vegetables and dressings. Chinese are less prone to eating the vegetables freshly picked (raw), therefore in order to promote healthier eating habitat with minimal amount of fats possible, an intermediary step is to blanch the vegetables .

The following table shows different types of Chinese vegetables that I have ever cooked using the blanching method and different dressings used. Both the list of vegetables and dressings are endless and are open to all types of combinations depending on the chef’s creativities.

Vegetables Meat  (protein)
Kailan
Minced pork
Pak Choy Meat slices/strips
Choy Sim Chicken breast
Broccoli Prawns
White Stem Pak Choy Shredded chickens
Chrysanthemum Greens Pork /chicken floss
Capsicum Baby Shrimps
Celery

Anchovies
Tomatoes Egg omelet strips
etc., etc., etc.  (endless) etc., etc., etc.  (endless)
   
Something to bite Seasonings
Sesame seeds Black Vinegar
crunched nuts Lime/kalamansi juice
Japanese rice seasoning sprinkle Mayonnaise+Tomato sauce (‘000 island)
Macadamia Salt
Chopped chili Sugar
Chopped fresh garlic MSG (if you preferred)
Fried garlics or shallots Onion Oil
Pine seeds Pepper
Dry mushrooms stripes Belachan (shrimp paste)
Shredded century eggs Oyster sauce
etc., etc., etc.  (endless) etc., etc., etc.  (endless)

SAMPLE DISHES

The pictures below are some of the dishes that I have prepared for my family as detailed in “what I have cooked today series”. The preparation are basically the same, blanching and mixed. You can also see more in the linked – PINTEREST BOARD-VEGETABLE DISHES HERE

Blanched mix vegetables with prawns (杂菜虾球)

 

Blanched Baby Kailan with Oyster Sauce (

耗油小芥兰)

Blanched White Stem Pak Choy with anchovies (

小银鱼白菜)

Blanched Broccoli with Minced Pork (

肉碎西兰花)

 

 

 

 

 

Blanch Tri-color Capsicum with Chicken Breast (

三色柿子椒拌鸡柳)

Blanched baby Pak Choy with minced pork (

肉碎拌小奶白)

Pak Choi with Oyster Sauce (

耗油上海青)

Blanched Chye Sim with meat floss (菜心拌肉松)


CONCLUSIONS

In traditional Chinese cooking, blanching of vegetables is generally not common. The exposure of Western Cuisines have made me come out with this fusion which I believed will be acceptable by both Asians and non-Asians. Without stir frying, the vegetables can be equally tasty.

While this resembles salad in western cuisines’ term but it have elements of oriental cooking due to the type of condiments used. It will definitely healthier because fats intake will be limited and more vitamins will be retain in the vegetable resulting from shorter cooking time. It will also eliminate the fear of eating raw vegetables which is supposed to be even more nutritious.

My favorite dressing is a type of dip for my fried fish (light soya sauce + chili + lime juice + shredded garlics + bit of sugar). For me , it blends equally well when I used it for my blanched vegetables. I like to prepare this if I want to lose weight and of course this is an acquired taste. You can invent your own dressing and you will be surprised that how well received blanched vegetables are if the dressings are right!

Why don’t you try my favorite dressing and let me know what you think?