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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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supreme pork chop, originally uploaded by pearlyn83.When I was a kid, my parents used to bring me to Esquire Kitchen for dinner. I loved their pork chop noodles there. This recipe, once again, is from my Hawkers’ Fair Simplified book. Sweet and sour in taste, it was perfect with rice.Ingredients:

  • Pork fillets
  • Oyster sauce
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Sesame oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp custard powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200 ml water
  • Corn flour

Sauce:

  • Tomato sauce
  • Chilli sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Curry powder
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Soy sauce
  • Water

Method:

  • Use the blunt edged side of the cleaver and pound the pork chops till tender and approximately 5-10 mm thick. Add in all the marinade except for the corn flour and season for a few hours or overnight.
  • Take the pork fillets out from the fridge and mix well with corn flour.
  • Heat oil for deep frying. Deep fry till golden brown. Dish and drain on paper towel.
  • Mix sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Bring to slight simmer in a wok. Add in pork fillets and mix well. Dish up and serve.

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BBQ Pork or more commonly known as cha siu is a favourite with most people. Cha siu is so versatile and can be eaten with rice, noodles and bread! There are many different versions one can get – there are the sweet ones in the bao (steamed buns), the savourish ones eg those in wantan mee or wrapped in cheong fun (rice sheets), the ones serve with rice drenched in sweet sauce and served with chilli sauce etc etc. In Aus, I’ve seen it served just as it is – sliced thinly and served with a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil; the Japanese have theirs boiled; so you see, it’s a really versatile dish.

I first started to make my own cha siu a couple of years ago. The process used to be long and tedious and the cleaning up after that was horrendous. Since then, I’ve modified my recipe over and over again till I finally reach what it is today. Mine are not the savoury ones you get with wantan mee. It’s the sweetish ones use for baos and for cha siu rice. Just modify the sweetness according to your liking. A lot of the commercially sold ones have been dyed red to make it more attractive. But I don’t dye mine, I like it grilled with the sauce sticking to it. Yum!

Ingredients:

  • Pork belly
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar, lots of it
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chinese cooking wine (shaoxing jiu)

Method:

  • Mix seasoning together in a bowl. Adjust the taste according to your liking.
  • Wash and drain pork belly. Place in a big container or mixing bowl. Pour sauce over it and season overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 200. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil. Place meat on tray. Bake in oven.
  • Occasionally, bask the meat with the sauce. After approximately 20 minutes, turn meat over and bask with more sauce. Bake for a for a further 20-30 minutes.
  • Preheat a grill. Pierce meat with a fork and if the meat is cook, remove from the oven. Allow it to stand for 10 minutes. Then slice meat thinly.
  • Coat the meat with leftover sauce. Place under the griller and grill till sauce thickens and sticks to the meat. Turn meat over and repeat the same step.

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dumplings, originally uploaded by pearlyn83.

On a cold winter’s night, these dumplings are really good. They are normally served hot, either steamed or boiled. In addition, they could be frozen up till 4 weeks, making it a ready-made meal whenever you want something quick. It looks small and some people might not feel it would be filling enough, but trust me 10-15 peices should be enough to feed an average size person.  

Ingredients:

  • Dumpling skin (jiao zhi pi)
  • Mince pork
  • Mince chicken
  • Spring onions
  • Garlic
  • Prawns, optional
  • Water chestnut
  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar, pepper, salt
  • Oyster sauce
  • Sesame oil 
  • Chinese cooking wine (shaoxing jiu)
  • Dipping sauce: Dark vinegar, soy sauce and pepper – mixed together

Method:

  • Mix 1/2 and 1/2 mice pork and mince chicken together in a big bowl. Minced prawns and garlic. Chopped spring onions and water chestnuts. Mix all together with pork and chicken mixture. Add seasoning and set aside for at least an hour. If dumpling skins are still a bit frozen, bring a pot of water to boil and just place the packet of skin above the steam for a while. When skin is pliable, remove from heat.
  • Place a teaspoonful in each skin and pleat along the sides.
  • Depending on your preference, you can either steam or boil the dumplings in water.
  • Steam: Bring a wok of water to boil, place bamboo steamer on wok. Arrange dumplings on steamer and steam for 15-20 minutes.
  • Boil: Bring a pot of water to boil. You can use chicken stock etc if you want to serve it with soup. Add dumplings, a few at a time and bring to boil. When dumplings float to the surface, allow it to boil for a further 1-2 minutes, then remove. Serve hot with dipping sauce.

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loh shu fun aka tear drop noodles, originally uploaded by pearlyn83.

Loh Shu Fun (direct translation would be rat tail’s noodle) is my favourite noodle. Back home in KL, I would often request to have my noodles swapped with Loh Shu Fun. It’s been about 4 years since I’ve had it. The closest thing to it was the laksa noodles from the Chinese Emporium. One day, I was talking to the lady boss at the chi empo and she asked what I was gonna do with the laksa noodles I bought. I said to make laksa and if there are leftovers then to fry. I told her I miss loh shu fun so this was the best substitute. She told me that the shop actually sells it but not regularly. Since then, everytime I go to chi empo, I’d check if they had any in stock but each time I leave disappointed. A couple of weeks ago, I promised to cook Asam Laksa for a couple of friends so I went down to Moonah to get the noodles. I opened the refrigerator and just grabbed a pack of noodles without thinking. As we were queueing, I picked up the noodles and realised I had taken the wrong one – I actually took loh shu fun instead! I was so excited, I had to buy it even though it cost me $4.20! Finally, I can cook proper Fried Loh Shu Fun! mmmm….

Ingredients:

  • Loh Shu Fun
  • Mince pork/chicken
  • Garlic, minced
  • Bean sprouts
  • Dark and light soy sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sugar
  • Kicap manis
  • Oyster sauce
  • Sesame oil

Method:

  • Season mince with soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, salt, pepper and sesame oil.
  • Boil a kettle of water and soak noodles for about 5 minutes. Drain well.
  • Heat wok with oil. Fry garlic till frgrant.
  • Add meat and fry till nearly cook. Add noodles. Fry and add seasoning according to taste.
  • Lastly, toss in the bean sprouts and fry briefly. Serve hot.

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It was Dumplings Festival a couple of weeks ago. Coming from a Christian family, we don’t normally follow the Lunar Calendar, hence I was not aware of it until I woke up one morning to an sms from a friend. Last year, Ryan taught me the method of wrapping dumplings but I’ve sorta given it all back to him. It took me a while to figure it out again so my first few dumplings were really ugly! Mine’s the poor student dumpling cause I can’t afford to put lotsa ingredients in it. I believe people normally use pork but I substituted mine with chicken as my housemates are not big fans of pork. You’ll also noticed I used rafia strings. That was because my first pack of bamboo leaves didn’t have the bamboo strings and I didn’t know where to get them. But my second pack had bamboo strings included in it hence the next batch were wrapped with those strings.

Ingredients:

  • Glutinous rice
  • Bamboo leaves
  • Chicken thighs
  • Dried chestnuts
  • Chinese mushrooms

Seasoning:

  • Dark soy
  • Light soy
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Pepper
  • Chinese cooking wine
  • Corn flour
  • Oyster sauce

Method:

  • Soak leaves in hot water overnight. Some people say boil it over low heat overnight.
  • Soak rice in water overnight.Drain well before frying it.
  • Season chicken with soy sauce, salt, sugar, pepper, oyster sauce, wine and corn flour and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Soak mushrooms till soften. Squeeze out the water and cut to slices.
  • Soak chestnuts in warm water for about half an hour.
  • Heat wok with oil. Pour rice and fry. Add dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, salt, pepper and oyster sauce. Make sure the rice is dark and salty enough.
  • Take 2 pieces of leaves and lightly wipe off the water. Place the leaves on top of each other overlapping in the middle and fold it into a cone.
  • Put a bit of rice followed by chicken, mushrooms and chestnut. Top with more rice.
  • Fold leave downwards to cover it and tuck corners in accordingly to wrap dumpling. Secure with bamboo strings.
  • Repeat procedure with rest of the dumplings. Tie them together in a bunch.
  • Bring a big pot of water to boil. Add dumplings. Make sure all the dumplings are submerged fully in the water. Boil for approximately an hour. Drain and then hang to dry in a cool place.

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Fried Noodles, originally uploaded by pearlyn83.

This is the easiest way to fry noodles ever! Seriously, it requires no more than 10 minutes and is cheap to prepare.

Ingredients:

  • Egg noodles
  • Diced bacon
  • Spring onions, chopped (the roots only)
  • Garlic, minced
  • Dried shitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced thinly
  • Egg
  • Sesame oil
  • Oyster sauce
  • Salt

Method:

  • Bring a kettle of water to boil. Place noodles in large bowl and soak with the water. Do not boil noodles in water as it’ll become too soggy and won’t taste good.
  • Allow noodles to soak for about 2 minutes, then use a fork to untangle it. Further soak for another couple of minutes.
  • Once noodles have untangled and looks soft, drain and run it under cold water then toss with sesame oil.
  • Place a few mushrooms in a microwave tupperware, add hot water and microwave for about 2 minutes. Drain and slice.
  • In the meantime, heat the wok and oil. Add garlic and spring onion, fry till fragrant. Add bacon and mushroom. Lastly add the egg(s).
  • Add noodles and seasoning. Adjust taste accordingly. Garnish with spring onions before serving.

Note:

  • Add any ingredients you want. If you are not into bacon, mince chicken or pork is equally good. I added chicken thighs as there were leftovers from my chinese rice dumplings. If you are using other meat besides bacon, pre-season it with salt, pepper, soy and oyster sauce.

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