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Archive for the ‘Asian Dishes’ Category

It has been awhile since I’ve updated this blog. I have to admit life has once again taken over to a point where I’ve lost the love for simple pleasures like cooking and baking. I did at one stage consider shutting down this blog but this blog has been my pride and my baby for 2 years and to shut it felt like a waste. Yet maintaining it seemed more and more like a chore than a joy. Torn….that’s how I feel!

Today I was talking to Li San and she was asking advice about Malaysian dishes. I told her to come here and get the recipes she wanted and she said to me “It’s such a waste you aren’t maintaining it! All those nice food!” I thought about it and felt that in so many ways she’s right. Food – the soul to many lives and the thing that brings people together. I’ve realised in my hastiness to seek the material wealth of this world, I’d forgotten what it was like to run hot water over fresh herbs, to smell curry simmering away on the stove and to fill the house with the fragrance of apple pie coming from the oven. Perhaps it is time to return again…perhaps it’s time to say I will learn to have days off and enjoy what has always been my passion and love…perhaps it’s time….

This dish here was a beautiful curry inspired by a recipe in Australian Gourmet Traveller. It was done a couple months ago on one of my cooking sprees, photos were posted on Flickr! but never made its way here till today. I hope you’ll enjoy it every bit we did :) .

Red Curry of Duck & Pineapple

(Adapted and modified from Australian Gourmet Traveller November 2008)

Ingredients:

  • 250ml coconut cream
  • 60ml vegetable oil
  • 200gm good quality red curry paste
  • 2 dried limes (in replacement of 4 kaffir lime leaves)
  • 60ml fish sauce
  • 2tbsp brown sugar
  • 500ml coconut milk
  • 1 Chinese roast duck, boned and cut into chunks
  • 3 long red chillies, halved lengthways, seeds removed
  • 1/2 a pineapple, chopped into chunks
  • Handful of Thai basil
  • Lime, to squeeze

Method:

  • Bring the coconut cream and vegetable oil to boil in a pan over high heat. Stir constantly to prevent from burning.
  • When the coconut cream ‘splits’ (the oil separates from the solids), add the curry paste.
  • Crush the dried limes in your hand and add to the pan, frying till aromas rise from the pan and it is sizzling fiercely. This will take approximately 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the fish sauce and cook for approximately 1 minute. Then add sugar and remaining coconut milk. Bring to the boil.
  • Add duck and chillies and simmer gently over low-medium heat. Then add in pineapple.
  • Stir in basil and squeeze with lime juice just before serving.

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As promised, this is the second part to my Sydney updates. The second lot of friends we had over for dinner were Kaye and Yina with with their respective partners. Kaye and I go way back. We’ve known each other since high school, after I “saved” her ex-boyfriend :) . We then went to college and uni together. Over the years we’ve drifted apart due to our lifestyles and distance. However, since relocating to Sydney, we’ve rediscovered this friendship all over again. 

 

Being a very asian crowd, I opted for a classic Malaysian/Singaporean favourite – Hainanese Chicken Rice. Although the dish is a “one pot – all done” sorta dish, it requires a bit of time and effort when preparing it. Trust me though, the meal is worth every ounce of effort put into it! :)

 


Soup:

Ingredients:

  • Chicken frame
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Celery

Method:

  • Bring a pot of water to boil. Add chicken frame and allow it to boil for a few minutes. This will allow all the crap to come out from the frame. 
  • Bring a kettle to boil. Throw the whole pot of water away and give it a good wash. Run chicken frame under cold water to stop the cooking.
  • Place all ingredients into the pot and bring it to the boil. Cover the lid and place on lowest heat. Allow soup to boil over low heat for a few hours. 

 

Hainanese Chicken:

Ingredients:

  • A whole chicken or chicken pieces (drumsticks, chicken wings, chicken breasts)
  • Spring onions, cut into half inch pieces
  • Garlic, crushed and peeled
  • Ginger, slices into think slices
  • Soy sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Salt, pepper and sugar
  • Shaoxing wine
  • Container of ice water
  • Cucumber, sliced thinly for serving

Method:

  • Place chicken in a large container and marinade with all the ingredients (except for the ice water and cucumber). Leave for a few hours. 
  • About 1-2 hours before dinner, cook the chicken. 
  • Place a bucket with ice water on the side. Bring soup to boil over medium-high heat. 
  • Blanch the chicken, 1-2 minute at a time, a couple of times, carefully lifting it in and out of the pot, try not to bruise the skin. 
  • Remove the chicken and dunk in cold water. This is so the flesh stays firm and the skin is sealed. 
  • Drain soup into another pot or ladle out as much of the stuff as possible. Bring it to a boil and leave it to boil for a couple of minutes. This is because you’ve previously blanched raw chicken in the soup so some of the impurities would have gotten in. Giving the soup a good boil will help minimize the risk of salmonella. 
  • Now, put all chicken pieces into the pot, cover the lid, turn off the heat and leave it for an hour. Make sure that chicken pieces are fully submerged in soup. 

Rice:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of rice, washed and drained well
  • 4.5 cups of chicken soup
  • Big knob of butter
  • Garlic, crushed and peeled
  • Ginger, sliced thinly
  • Salt, to taste

Method:

  • Heat a wok on high heat, add butter and melt. 
  • Add garlic and ginger. Fry till fragrant. 
  • Add rice and give it a good toss. Season with salt according to taste.
  • Place everything into a rice cooker and top with chicken soup. Cook. 
  • When rice is done, remove lid and allow it to evaporate a little. This will allow rice to be grainy and less soggy. 

Chilli Dip:

Ingredients:

  • Ginger, big knob (about 2-3cm) – sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Spring onion, just the white part – sliced
  • Red chillies – a mixture of chilli padi and red chillies
  • Salt and sugar, to taste
  • Little bit of chicken soup

Method:

  • Place all ingredients into a blender/food processor (or use a pestle and mortar). Give it a good whisk. 

Serving:

  • Arrange chicken pieces and cucumber slices attractively on a large plate. Sprinkle some spring onion on top.
  • Serve with rice and dipping sauce.

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Sizzling hot dishes to keep you warm         

Sizzling hot dishes to keep you warm

Pearlyn’s been really sick…but now she’s ready to enter into and embrace the warmth, vibrance and pleasures spring has to offer. Last week, I was sick as a dog. I had a serious case of tonsillitis and was suspected to have glandular fever. Thankfully, I responded to antibiotics or else you wouldn’t hear from me for a long, long time. I was not too happy that I had to cancel a catering engagement at the last minute, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed that more opportunities will come knocking on spring’s doors!

I know it’s spring and that a winter-like post is probably not very wise but this once again was one of the many pleasures I got to experiment this winter. For those not in Tassie, winter this year was a very cold affair for us, which suits me just fine as the snow and cold are probably one of my best friends!

You know how during those cold winter nights, all you want to do is sit in front of the fireplace, with the TV or stereo playing something light in the background, a glass of wine in hand, feet tucked into the soft, fluffy carpet, a doona or a rug over you and digging into a nice steaming hot bowl of soup or plate of stew. That’s the ideal picture…perfect even some might say. This winter, I pinched a couple of sizzling hot plates off ah koh and had the best 3 dinners of my entire winter! :) Oh well, mine wasn’t exactly the picture above – more like sitting in front of the heater, at a study desk in front of my computer and watching “Friends” as I ate off the hot plates – but what the heck, I was close enough to the above dream!

Personally, I think the hot plates were one of the greatest creations of men. Regardless of whether it’s a cold winter’s night or a hot summer’s evening, nothing served on a hot plate would come with any less amount of “oohs” and “aahs” from the people it’s serving. Who would have thought that a cast iron dish on a wooden board would create so much hype and anticipation? If you haven’t tried a meal on a sizzling hot plate, you need to. Somehow, even the most simple dishes taste absolutely stunning on them. 

I haven’t had yee mee for a long time. I don’t really know what these noodles are called in English, but they are these round coil of noodles which have been deep fried hence are really crispy. In Malaysia, it’s normally served on hot plates hence the famous “Tit Ban Yee Meen” (Hot Plate Yee Mee). Call me fussy, some may even say weird, but in my mind, yee mee is best served on a hot plate that’s why I’ve never cooked it in Tassie since I didn’t own a hot plate! But the instant I got my hands on Ah Koh’s hot plates, I knew this was the dish I was going to whip up.

Hot Plate Yee Mee (Tit Ban Yee Meen)

Ingredients:

  • Yee mee
  • Bok choy
  • Chinese shitake mushrooms
  • Prawns
  • Chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite size pieces
  • Baby corn, sliced lengthwise
  • Garlic
Seasoning:
  • Soy sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Chinese cooking wine
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Pepper
  • Sesame oil
  • Corn flour
Method:
  • Marinade chicken with the above seasoning for at least 2 hours or overnight. Soak mushrooms in warm water to allow it to soften. Drain and squeeze out the water.
  • Heat a wok on high. Add oil and fry minced garlic till fragrant. Add chicken and toss well. When chicken is about 80% cooked, add corn, mushroom and bok choy. Allow to simmer for a while. Add the prawns last. Mix corn flour with a little bit of cold water and add into mixture. 
  • In the meantime. place the hot plate on another stovetop, and allow to heat on medium. Drizzle with sesame oil. Put 2 pieces of yee mee on the plate and allow them to brown a little so it’s nice and crispy.
  • Season to taste and ladle the hot stirfry and grave onto hot plate. It will sizzle and gravy will thicken a little. 
  • Serve immediately.

Among some of the other dishes whipped up during my triple sizzling hot nights were hot plate tofu, cik kong (black vinegar) pork chops and spicy stir fry. Hhmm…Yum! Just thinking about them now makes my mouth water! The hot plate tofu is probably another of the famous hot plate dishes often served. I normally make something similar without the hot plate but this time round, frying the egg tofu using the hot plates was a lot more fun and definitely looked a lot tastier!

Hot Plate Tofu (Tit Ban Tau Foo)

Ingredients:

  • Chicken/Pork mince
  • Egg tofu, cut into half inches slices
  • Egg
  • Spring onion, chopped finely, split white from green parts
  • Garlic, minced finely
Seasoning:
  • As above
Method:
  • Season mince with the above seasoning. 
  • Heat a wok on high and fry garlic and bottom white part of spring onion till fragrant. Add mince and toss well together.
  • Add seasoning and cornflour mixture, allow to simmer.
  • In the meantime, heat hot plate on another stovetop. Drizzle with olive oil. Place tofu and allow it to brown on both sides. Remove and drain on kitchen towel. 
  • Crack an egg onto hot plate and make sure it coats the whole plate well. Once egg has set, place tofu on top then ladle mince and grave over it. Sprinkle remaining spring onions and serve immediately.

I’ve decided that the next 2 items I’m going to be investing in to make my all my winter nights to come sizzling hot and on fire are the hot plate and the claypot. After you’ve tried it, you’ll be converted like me. 

 

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I woke up one morning and felt like I just haven’t been cooking enough asian dishes, especially Malaysian dishes. Yes…yes…I know…it’s kinda weird that a person would wake up and that’s the first thought she has! But it was indeed what was on my mind. I started asking myself was I really as un-Malaysian as most of my friends say? Or do I just not like Malaysian food? Or is it because my culinary skills are really that limited? Hhmmm…tough call…in the end, I decided it was not because I don’t like M’sian food…I do actually REALLY like M’sian food..but it was because cooking Asian food can sometimes be really time consuming and my skills are just limited…oh well…

Anyway, this here is a classic Malaysian favourite. I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like kangkung belacan! Even people who absolutely hate veg love this dish! Kangkung, known as water spinach, is a leafy green vegetable frown throughout tropical and subtropical countries, most commonly in South East Asia. It’s generally stir fried but can also be used in soups and salads. Belacan or shrimp paste is an essential ingredient in many curries and asian dishes. It’s made from fermented ground shrimp that has been sun-dried and then cut into rectangular blocks. Westerners would find the smell a little repulsive but trust me it enhances the flavour of your food when used appropriately. 

My dish here was made using mum’s special belacan chilli that she brought over for me. So honestly, I’m not too sure what the recipe is. But I think my sambal belacan recipe used for my nasi lemak is pretty similar to mum’s so here goes. We can’t often find kangkung in Hobart except for in Chinese Empo if you are really lucky. I was lucky I found mine during one of my Saturday Salamanca market  rounds and they were so much cheaper and fresher than the chinese empo ones. The key to this veg is to not keep it for too long. Try to cook it within the first couple days of purchase if not it loses its freshness and the stems are no longer crunchy.

Ingredients:

  • Dried shrimps
  • Garlic
  • Kangkung
Sambal Belacan:
  • Shrimp paste
  • Dried chillies
  • Fresh chillies
  • Salt
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Lime juice
Method: 
  • Mix sambal belacan ingredients in a food processor or if you have a pestle and mortar that would be better. 
  • Soak dried shrimps in some hot water so it softens a little. Chop it up roughly.
  • Mince garlic and wash the kangkung and set aside.
  • Heat a wok on high heat and add some oil. 
  • Add garlic and sambal and stir-fry till fragrant. Toss in the kangkung and fry it well.
  • Dish up and serve hot with rice.

 

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Before Alan made this dish for me, I always thought there were only a couple of things I could make with savoy cabbage – stir fried with garlic and mince or boiled in soup. Once again, this was originally from Jamie Oliver :) (yes, yes, I know…we are starting to look like Jamie freaks!). Jamie’s original recipe had chillies and lime with it as he made it when his wife was pregnant and it was her favourite dish. When Alan first made this, I joked and said I might not like it since I wasn’t pregnant :) ! Since that first time, this has become one of our favourites and whenever I buy savoy cabbage and mince, I’d definitely make it. Even CY who hates vegies has nothing to complain about. 

Ingredients:

  • Savoy cabbage
  • Chicken and/or pork mince
  • Garlic
  • Soy sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Salt, sugar and pepper
  • Shaoxing wine
  • Corn flour
Method:
  • Season the mince with the above seasonings for at least 1 hour.
  • Peel the cabbage piece by piece and wash it. Bring a pot of water to boil and add the cabbage so it softens. 
  • Run the cabbage under cold water and drain it. Put a spoonful of mince at the end of the cabbage stem and wrap it up. Repeat with remaining cabbage and mince.
  • In the meantime, bring a wok filled with water to boil. Place stuffed cabbages onto a bamboo steamer and place in the wok to steam.
  • Remove steamer from wok when a fork inserted into cabbage comes up clean (approximately 20-25 minutes). 
  • Serve with a mixture of soy sauce and black vinegar or chilli sauce. 

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Once again, my apologies for being MIA for awhile. You know how people always say “Don’t wish too hard…you never know it might just happen to you..!” For many years, I’ve been complaining about how none of my friends from M’sia ever come tassie to visit me. Well, my wish came true! In just a short span of 2.5 weeks, I’ve had 2 of my close friends come visit me and I have had everything but free time for myself! 

This here is one of my all time favourites (and I believe it applies for a lot of people out there!). It’s commonly served at yum cha (dim sum) places and is great eaten on its own, dipped with some sauce (chilli especially) or stir fried. If you were to go to the asian countries, it’s more commonly called carrot cake because the literal translation of radish from chinese is white carrot. I made it once for a Taste of Asia event at church and told everyone it was carrot cake. The aussies gave me a funny look and were really apprehensive as this definitely wasn’t their kind of carrot cake! :) However, everyone who had it wanted more of it and the praises just kept coming in! 

Ingredients:
  • 550g shredded white radish
  • 125ml water
  • 25g dried shrimps, soaked, roasted and chopped finely
Mix together to make a watery batter:
  • 300g rice flour
  • 50g ‘tung mien’ or tapioca flour
  • 650ml water
Seasoning:
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Chicken stock granules
  • Pepper
  • Ground black pepper

Method:

  • Combine radish and water in a saucepan and simmer over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until radish is soft and the liquid has evaporated.
  • Add in dried shrimps, and watery rice batter. Mix in seasoning stir the mixture well. 
  • Cook mixture for two to three minutes over medium low heat, stirring all the time, until the mixture turns to a thick paste.
  • Pour the paste into a greased 20cm to 21cm square cake tin. Smoothen the surface with a spatula. Place it in the steamer and steam over high heat till set. 
  • Remove the cake and allow it to cool thoroughly before cutting into slices.
  • Shallow fry the radish cake slices and serve with chilli sauce.
I think watching Oliver Twist has had some sorta impact on me cos I can’t stop thinking of how I can modify a dish or what sorta new flavours or twists can be added to something etc etc. There is no such thing as “too much radish cake we can’t finish it” syndrome in this house whenever I make this. This time however, I set aside a small batch for one of my experimental dishes. I decided I was gonna do try a Thai inspired stir fried radish cake. Sounds cool, huh?! I’m not sure if this has been done by others before but who cares, I came up with the flavours myself. I basically conjured up an image of how I wanted the dish to be, and mentally listed common ingredients used in Thai dishes, and voila, my creation was born! :)

 

Ingredients:

 

  • Red chillies
  • Shallots
  • Spring onion
  • Lime zest and lime juice
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt and sugar
Method:
  • Slice radish cake into thin, 1.5 finger size slices and shallow pan fry them in oil. Drain and set aside.
  • Slice the red chillies and shallots into thin slices. Thinly slice the bottom, white part of the spring onion, as for the top, green part, cut them into bigger chunks. 
  • Mix the lime zest, lemon juice, salt and sugar together. 
  • Heat oil in a pan and fry the shallots till golden brown. Toss in the chillies and spring onions. When fragrant, toss in the radish cake and lemon juice mixture. Stir fry it well. 
  • Dish it up and squeeze lime juice over it just before serving.

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