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

IMG_0043

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.

IMG_6665

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.

IMG_6658

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)

IMG_6694

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.

IMG_6663


TOFUS SAIL IN PUMPKIN SEA (豆腐金瓜海)

IMG_6696

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.

 IMG_6655


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

IMG_6676

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.

IMG_6672


BLANCHED ASPARAGUS WITH CHICKEN FILLETS (芦笋鸡柳)

IMG_6651

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.

IMG_6653


CENTURY EGGS WITH PICKLED GINGER (皮蛋酸姜)

IMG_6685

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)

IMG_6681

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)

IMG_6683

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)

IMG_6708

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.

IMG_6710

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.

427389_2585942612116_677084321_n

Have a nice day and cheers.

IMG_6692

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 27-5-2013

IMG_3904

On 27 May 2013

White rice served with:

1. Steamed Egg with Fish Tofu 鱼豆腐蒸蛋
2. Blanch Tri-color Capsicum with Chicken Breast 三色柿子椒拌鸡柳
3. Fried Cabbage with glass noodles 包菜炒粉丝
4. Yam Pork Rib Soup 芋头排骨汤

Today, I continue to cook my vegetables without using any oil. This is the 4th meal I have blanched my vegetables. Apparently they can accept this way of preparation which is good for every body’s health. I will try as many types of vegetable as possible.

Today’s soup is rather special. Special in the sense that none of my circles of friends, including neighbors have ever eaten this soup before. My late father used to cook this soup once in a while and as far I can remembers, all my brothers like this soup and it is consider quite unusual if any one of us cook this soup. I am still trying hard to trace the origins. Obviously, the way of cooking and the ingredients appeared to be influenced by western cooking. Onion was used and starch or flour was added to make it slightly runny. It is totally different from the Chinese soup we used to have. It very much resemble the western style potato soup or creamy mushroom soup! If any readers have ever cooked this soup, please share with me and I am particularly keen to know more about it.

ANALYSIS OF DISHES COOKED UNTIL TODAY

It had been almost a month and  I am in the process of preparing a summary of dishes cooked to facilitate reader’s reference and comments if any. As I have stressed many times, the purpose of this series is for reader’s reference and share with readers how I rotate my meal plan. Purely putting up what I cooked today with further analysis will not serve much a purpose. As such, I am compiling the data and preliminary analysis disclosed the following figures. I welcome readers to comment on the dish cooked and share with me if they are any areas improvement that I need to work on…

FOR READERS WHO ARE INTERESTED TO HAVE A COPY OF EXCEL WORKSHEET ON THE MEALS COOKED, PLEASE JUST DROP ME AN E-MAIL AND I WILL MAIL YOU THE MEAL PLAN. THE WORKSHEET IS IN A TABULAR FORM AND YOU CAN SORT IT OR SEARCH BY VEGETABLE NAMES AND ETC.

Number of cooking days from 30-4-2013 to 27-5-2013 = 23 days

   
Breakdown of dishes cooked comprises  
Vegetables

25

Meat (chicken and pork)

14

Fish

6

Soup 

19

Noodles and rice (all except white rice)

7

Others

7

  78 dishes

Hope you enjoy the series and for me, it is really a challenge and I am especially happy that I can maintain until today. I will continue and you will start to see the dish begin to rotate.

You can refer HERE. Click on the date in the calendar and you will be able to go that day’s menu..

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 26-5-2013

IMG_3816

On 26-May-2013

White rice served with:

1. Lotus Root Pork Rib Soup* 莲藕排骨汤
2. Braised luffa/tower gourd with egg* 蛋汁炆丝瓜
3. Chicken fried with shredded ginger 姜丝鸡
4. Sweet and sour fish balls 酸甜鱼球

Well, from now onwards, my dish will start to repeat and  I consider it to be reasonable and logical. All what I have posted here is purely what I cooked based on my family’s preferences, market availability of raw material at reasonable price and the overall combinations of the dishes in a meal. Is it not what a household meal plan should be? Plain, routine, repetitive but nutritious…

I am in the process of providing a summary of all the dishes that I have cooked for reader’s reference. I am serious about this series and I have to stressed again that this will be a rather bored series but will be beneficial if you are interested to understand what others have cooked in designing your meal plan. Thanks for reading.

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 25-5-2013

IMG_3729

On 25-May 2013

Usually, for Saturday and Sunday, if we dine at home, it will be something simpler as both my wife and me are rather lazy to cook. So today, we have noodles, noodles, noodles. We have 3 types of noodles including the kolo mee directly “imported” from Kuching.

1. Fried Rice Vermicelli with Green Vegetables and Pork Slice (菜心肉片炒米粉)

This is the type of fried rice vermicelli that my late mother used to prepare for us. I have insisted my wife to cook in this manner with only 3-4 ingredients (rice vermicelli, pork belly slices, chye Shim and shrimps). Besides at home, I have never eaten fried vermicelli with these simple combinations be it the one cooked by my mother in law or in parties or outside hawker stores. Usually, most fried rice vermicelli will have mushrooms, red carrots, bean sprouts, fish cakes, eggs and etc. But I am very insistent  to use only these 4 ingredients and it should not be substituted. Changes in any of the ingredients will not give the same flavor.  Today, the dish was prepared by my wife for my kids,PLEASE TRY THIS COMMONER’S RICE VERMICELLI!

2. Fried Rice Vermicelli with Laksa Sarawak Paste (砂朥越辣沙酱炒米粉)

As my wife cooked quite a lot of fried rice vermicelli above, I have decided to fry the above rice vermicelli with my own home made Sarawak Laksa Paste. You can learn more about home made Sarawak Laksa Paste here. Firstly, I slightly fried my laksa paste, when it started to emit the aroma, eggs were added followed by peanut powder and condiments. Before I serve, I add in shredded cucumbers and the taste was fantastic. Just imagine you are eating Indian or Malay fried noodles. PLEASE TRY THIS NEWLY CREATED RICE VERMICELLI FRIED WITH SARAWAK LAKSA PASTE and you wouldn’t regret it.

 

3. Sarawak Kolo Mee (Dry Noodles) (砂朥越干捞面)

This is another famous delicacies from Sarawak and shall I said, have attained at least the same status as Sarawak Laksa in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. It is unique and available in Sarawak only. There are visitors saying that this dish resemble the 车仔面 that were sold in Singapore in the 1960’s. You can read more about Kolo mee HERE, Kolo bee hoon HERE, and Sarawak Laksa HERE. Today’s Kolo Mee was brought to me by my mother in law who is visiting us from Kuching. She bought at least 8 packets of the noodles. This is a must try item in Kuching and I have never heard of any visitors ever complained about this dish be it Asians or Caucasians. PLEASE TRY THIS SARAWAK DELICACY WHEN YOU VISIT KUCHING, SARAWAK, MALAYSIA and without trying it, your trip to Kuching will not be considered as complete.

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 24-5-2013

IMG_3645

On 24-May-2013

Fried Yellow Noodles with Bean Sprouts (豆芽炒面)

This is a rather unusual type of fried noodles that is extremely economical and nice. It is yellow noodles fried with garlics, bean sprouts and sweet, thick black soya sauce. It is neither the Penang Char Kway Tiao nor Kuala Lumpur Fried Hokkien Noodles. Its characteristics are simple, sweet and slightly wet. We used to have this type of noodle in Kuching when I was young and it was the cheapest noodles then when compared to Kolo Mee and Tomato Sauce Kway Tiao. However, it is hard to find in Kuching nowadays. Even if you can, unless you specially requested you just want bean sprouts and mee only, they will add in cockles (like Penang Char Kway Tiao) and eggs for you.

Today is holiday and I am rather lazy to dine out or cooking, so I just cook this traditional fried noodles. The kids like it because they have their favorite fried eggs and the noodles were sweet and soft. (Note: The ratio of bean sprouts and yellow me should be at least 1:1).

Cheers and have a nice holidays..

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 23-5-2013

IMG_3380

On 23-May-2013

White rice served with:

1. Sweet Corn Pork Rib Soup* 玉米排骨汤*
2. Mustard Leaf and Bitter Gourd Braised With Pork Rib 芥菜苦瓜焖排骨
3. Blanched Broccoli with Minced Pork 肉碎西兰花
4. Taukwa (dried tofu) Omelet 豆干煎蛋
  • Sweet Corn Pork Rib Soup is the first dish that I have cooked for the second time within a period of about one months. In future, any dish that have repeated will be denoted with an asterisk (*).
  • Dish 2 is the dish that we created our self. Don’t try this dish unless you like the bitter taste. My wife loves bitter dishes especially bitter gourd. Mustard leaf by itself is also very bitter, therefore, with two bitter vegetables within a dish, it will be a dish with an acquired taste. You may ask whether my kids like it or not. It very much depends on how bitter it is. If I blanched my bitter gourd and mustard leaf with salt before I cooked, it will not be that bitter and they will love you. However, like to day, I do not have the time to blanch it before hand, it is rather bitter. Usually, I will add a can of canned mushrooms and they will start to look for the mushrooms. They are brave enough to take the soup and actually, it is one of my way to let the kids try new dishes. Putting something that they like  and they will gradually get use to the taste over time.
  • This is the third continuous day that I blanched by vegetables and today is the broccoli and apparently they like it and I will continue to cook my vegetables this way which Is healthier. The first day, I blanched my baby kailan and served with oyster sauce. In the second day, it is blanching of white stem pak choy and served with fried ikan billis. Today, it is blanched broccoli served with blanched minced pork!
  • Any body tried Dish 4 before? It was a dish taught by my mother in law. Fried the dried bean curd and followed by putting some eggs on top of it. It is another dish that my kids will fight for.

I am contemplating  and in the process of exploring whether I should set up a system for readers to search the dish by vegetables. If successful, when readers have raw ingredients but no idea how to proceed with the cooking , they can look up for the database.

Happy Vesak Day and have a nice day.

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 21-5-2013

On 21 May 2013

IMG_3169

1. Fried Golden Banded Scad (Ikan Selat Kuning) 生煎竹荚鱼
2. Blanched White Stem Pak Choy with anchovies 小银鱼白菜
3. Pepper pork 胡椒猪柳
4. Chinese Water Spinach Soup 蕹菜汤

 

If you looked at my post yesterday, you will noted that I have blanched my Kailan and served with oyster sauce. The response was very encouraging and my kids are fighting for it. Today, I have decided to use the same method to blanch the white stem Pak Choy and sprinkled with fried anchovies and small prawns. If they like it, I can avoid frying and it will definitely more healthy for all of us. Update: They finished the dish!

Today fish is called Golden Banded Scad fish, the type of fish for “commoner” and usually found in nasi lemak. I miss this fish and I am now gradually let my kids try other types of fish that were sold outside. Usually, we would buy fish without bones like Kurau, salmon, white prom-fret and etc. These were needed because they are young and the fish was full of bones. Recently, I discovered that they still did not know how to eat fish that have bones. I think it is time to introduce more variety of fishes.

The last dish to note is the Chinese water spinach (kangkong) soup. Have you ever use kangkong to cook soup. It is a type of quick soup and you usually boiled it with ikan billis. Once the soup is ready, just throw in the Kangkong, add condiments and the soup is ready. Well no complain from my kids!! Cheers.

Happy reading.