Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Nasi Goreng Pattaya

Nasi Goreng Pattaya is a Malaysian street food, name after Pattaya in Thailand but has nothing to do with Thai, a similar story like Singapore fried rice vermicelli. This is a Thai flavoured fried rice with an omelette blanket. Serve with tomato ketchup or chilli sauce over the omelette and cucumber on the side.

For the recipe: (enough for 2)


some cooking oil

1 fat clove of garlic, chopped

1 lemongrass very finely sliced (use only the softer core)

½ onion chopped

handful of diced carrot

2 - 3 tsp of Thai yellow or red curry paste, homemade or bought (more if you like it spicy)

about 2 cups of plain cold rice, loosen and preferably overnight (use basmati or American long grain, jasmine is too soft for fried rice)

enough soy sauce and fish sauce to taste

handful of frozen peas

handful of cooked cooked chicken

handful of cooked prawn

about 4 Kaffir lime leaves, shredded very fine

some chopped chillies (optional if you like it spicy)

1 very large egg or 2 small eggs, beaten for the omelette (per person)

Pinch of salt

Tomato ketchup/ chilli sauce to serve

Cucumber for garnish


  • Add oil in pan, fry the garlic and onion, then add the lemongrass and carrot, fry till carrot is slightly softened. Add curry paste and rice, stir till mixed and fragrant. Then add enough fish sauce and soy sauce to taste. Then add peas, chicken, prawn, lime leaves and chillies, stir till very hot. Take the rice out. Fill rice in a bowl (like a cereal bowl), pack it down a bit. Tip this rice with the bowl on, onto a serving plate. Leave the bowl on to keep the rice warm.

  • Then make the omelette, thin as you can and must be big enough to completely cover the rice, careful not to break it.
  • Take the bowl off the rice you will get a bowl shape rice, slide the omelette careful over the rice, tuck the excess under the rice. Drizzle with tomato ketchup/ chilli sauce and few cucumber slices on the side. Ready to eat.
  • For the photo I have cut the middle of the omelette to show the rice inside, normally this is just a rustic street food, no pretty deco.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Sweet & Sour Tofu

It’s going to be tofu, tofu and tofu this week with the pile I have made. I had sweet and sour last night. It was colourful and totally vegetarian, very nice. Here is the result and what I did.

Cut 2 big pieces of tofu into big bite chunks then lightly coat with seasoned plain flour and shallow fried till light golden and crispy all sides. Take out and drain on kitchen paper, keep warm in oven while making the sauce (don't keep in the oven for too long, or it will be soggy and chewy).

Then made the sauce which consists of:

1 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped

½ onion, cut into square pieces

2 - 3 tsp of oil

large handful of red and green pepper in chunks

large handful of fresh pineapple chunks

4 – 5 pieces of glace (or stem) ginger, cut into slices

5 – 6 tbsp of tomato ketchup

1 tbsp of lemon juice

some sugar to taste

about 2 tbsp of vegetarian oyster sauce

dash of light soy

about 3/4 cup of hot water

1 tbsp of cornflour mix with a little water

1 tsp of chopped chilli or chilli sauce

Fry the garlic and onion with some cooking oil, stir till fragrant. Add the pepper chunks, stir till slightly soften then add the remaining ingredients and cook till the sauce is lightly thickened (don’t make the sauce too thick). Heat off, quickly stir in the fried tofu pieces and serve immediately.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Beef fried buns

I am in dim sum mood lately. Today lunch was some fried beef buns. Easy to make, soft and crunchy at the same time while they are still hot, very tasty. Cooking method is very similar to war tip dumplings. I have made enough for work lunch in the next couple of days.

Chinese: 牛肉煎包
Slide show, click here


For the bread dough
150g strong white flour
150g plain flour
about 160 - 170 ml water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp yeast (quick or instant)
1 tbsp cooking oil
For the meat filling
300g lean minced beef
about 3 spring onions (about ½ cup chopped)
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1 heap tsp cornflour
pinch of ground pepper
2 tsp sesame oil
1 ½ tbsp brandy or Chinese cooking wine

  1. Mix the bread dough till you get a soft dough. Knead for 2 -3 minutes in a bread machine of by hand. Leave aside to rise till double in size (about 1 hour).
  2. While the dough is rising, mix the meat filling and set aside.
  3. When the dough has risen, tip it onto a flour dusted working area. Give it a quick knead, leave for 2 – 3 minutes to rest. Then roll it out to a rod shape about 3 cm thick and cut equally to about 15 pieces +/- 1. For 15 pieces, each will weigh around 33 – 34g per piece. Roll each piece into a ball with hand dusted with flour, cover dough balls with cloth.
  4. With hand dusted with flour, stretch each ball like in the slide show till you get a disc around 6 -7 cm wide, fill it will a lump of meat. Then gather the edge together, pinch and seal it. Flatten the bun with fingers. Coat the sealed end side with plenty of flour, then place the floured side onto a tray (if not enough flour, the buns will stick and difficult to take out later).
  5. Leave to rise for about 20 – 30 minutes.
  6. Take a large frying pan brush with about 1 tsp of oil, heat till medium hot, pick up the buns carefully with a spatula and place them on the frying pan. Fry at medium heat for a minute or two or till the underside is golden brown. Flip the buns over, drizzle on 2 – 3 tbsp of water around the buns. The water will sizzle, cover the pan and let it steam and fry for about 3 - 4 minutes, checking about 3 minutes to make sure the underside is not too brown. Once all the water has gone and the underside is golden, flip them over again, cover and cook for another 30 second – 1 minute.
  7. Ready to eat while hot on its own or dipped with sweet chilli sauce, soy, or a ginger black vinegar sauce.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

How to make tofu

I have not been making tofu for years. A very dear friend just made me a wooden mould and I have to give it a go. Took me few hours but it was worth it, not 100% perfect, still have to practise to refine the texture and look but I am happy for now. I now have a large box of tofu waiting for me to cook something. Tomorrow will be tofu cooking day.

Making tofu may sound complicated but if you have all the necessary tools and ingredients it is really quite simple as long as you follow the recipe.

I am making Chinese tofu with calcium sulphate or more commonly known as gypsum or plaster of paris. Please do not buy this ingredient from the DIY shop or plaster used for broken arm, you need to get a food grade one from most of the larger Chinese supermarkets. If you can’t find in Chinese supermarket you can buy online from here

Japanese tofu is made with magnesium chloride or Nigari which is an extract from sea water. Nigari is not as widely available as calcium sulphate in England. I have only seen some on Ebay or 5 kg pack from an online shop. Not used Nigari before so I don’t really know what quantity is required.

You can also make tofu with lemon juice but this will give a distinctive sour taste.

See this slideshow for the know how.

For the ingredients you only need soya beans, calcium sulphate and plenty of water.


750 g of soya beans + water for soaking

5 - 5.25 litres of water for juice extraction

5 tsp or about 15g of calcium sulphate + 250 ml of warm water

To ground and extract the juice you need a liquidiser and a bag made with muslin about 30 cm x 22- 25cm, do make the bag with double layers to ensure it is strong and lasting.

For the press, you need:

- a wooden or metal mould, preferably square or rectangular with a lid or in the case of a square cake tin a loose bottom which you can use the loose plate on top. If you don’t want to buy a mould you can use a normal large round spring form cake tin (spring loosen), use the loose bottom on the top same as the tofu mould lid. The size of the mould I am using is 21 x 21 x 8 cm (inside measurement)

- Next is square piece of muslin, measure about 3 times the width of the mould or tin.

- Then you need some heavy object to press the curd, I use few clean bricks wrapped in foil to keep them clean and tidy.

- A rack and a mesh like a pizza screen to help the liquid run into the sink during pressing.

Other tools required are:

- one large stock pot enough to hold all the liquid. For this recipe I use a 5 litres pot.

- One large plastic container or another stock pot to holding the liquid/bean mixture during juice extraction.

- Couple of ladles, a jam thermometer, couple of clothe pegs, a water jug and a measuring jug, a fine sieve


  1. Soak the beans for 6 – 8 hours. Clean and drain.
  2. put the beans in batches into a liquidiser with water (fill the liquidiser with 1/3 full beans then fill up to ¾ full with water). Blend for about 1 minute till you get a white frothy quite smooth slush. Put this into a large container, continue blending till you have used up all the beans. Any water left from the measured 5 litres of water pour into the bean slush and mix.
  3. Put a stock pot in the sink and the large bowl of pulverised bean slush on top of the draining board. Take the muslin bag, peg it to the side of the bowl so you have enough room to pour the slush into the bag. Half filled and twist the top of the bag and squeeze till all the juice is released. You will get about 5 litres full of milk with plenty of froth on top. Remove the pulp from the bag, clean it really well without any grains left. Clean the empty container too. Do a second filtering to ensure there is no grains of bean pulp in the milk which will affects the texture of the tofu and any grains of beans will stick to the bottom of the pot during boiling and cause the pan to stick and burn. When you do the second filtering, fill as much as you like, when nearly full give the bag a gentle squeeze and you will filter the milk in less than 2 minute. Clean the bag and empty pot. You will find quite a lot of froth on the milk, don’t worry they will disappear once heated.
  4. You will get a pile of semi wet bean pulp after extraction. I normally chuck the bean pulp but if you like you can cook it and make bean burgers, vegetarian mince or feed that to the bird etc…
  5. Boil the milk at medium heat till about 95 deg C or when you see small boiling bubbles coming up, turn the heat to low and continue heating and stirring for another 10 minutes. While you are boiling the milk, do not leave the kitchen, if the milk boil over it will make a bloody mess and you will end up with only ½ pot of milk. You need to stir right from the beginning during boiling about every minute to ensure the milk does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Cover the milk and let it rest for 10 – 15 minutes, while you check the temperature not going down to less than 90 deg C. Do make sure you cover the milk or you will get skin on top. Get a fine sieve and dip into the milk to fish out any impurities and also any bubble on the top of the milk. Any impurities will affect the smoothness of the tofu.
  6. Continues checking the temperature of the milk, once it has got to about 85 – 88 deg C. Time for action. Stir the calcium sulphate with the warm water vigorously second before you pour into the milk. Have a ladle in the milk, pour the coagulant in from a height, stir the milk at the same time very vigorously with the ladle for 2 – 3 seconds only. Then cover and leave it alone. The milk will completely its cudling in about 10 minutes. Leave to cool for about 30 - 40 minutes.
  7. Wash the mould, put it on a rack with or withour a metal mesh on top of the sink drainer. Wet the muslin liner, carefully line it inside the mould to fill all corner. Scoop the curd into the mould and fill it right to the top. Cover with muslin. Put the top on, then add the weight which is 2 – 3 pieces of brick.
  8. Let the curd press and drain till the volume has reduced to half, this will take about 30 minutes – 2 hours depending on the pressing weight. Volume reduced about half will give a silken texture, remove the mould cover and the muslin, test it with your finger when you touch the tofu it should be quite firm but not very hard in the centre, if it is wobbly its too soft, and you need to press for a bit longer. If you like a very firm tofu leave it to press for longer. The above picture showed the result which I was quite please having not practised for years. The recipe makes 9 square pieces, measure 7 x 7 x about 4 cm.
  9. This tofu should be kept in the fridge, fill the container with water. Change the water everyday if you can remember and this will help to keep it for longer. Will keep for about 1 week to 10 days maximum. If the tofu feels slimy or smells sour it is off.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Singapore Fried Rice Vermicelli

Singapore fried rice vermicelli or (xing zhou chow mai) is available in nearly all Chinese restaurants and takeaways all over the world. The funny thing is this dish is not traditional Singaporean. It was a creation by some Hong Kong chef. Thin rice vermicelli is normally the noodles used as the name ‘mai’ means rice Vermicelli, but I have seen so many variations including wheat noodles and flat rice noodles. Other common ingredients include some curry powder, char siu and some small prawns. This is my version closest to what I can remember from a restaurant.

Chinese: 星洲炒米


about 200 g dried rice vermicelli or 'mai fun' (this is the one I always use for this dish , this brand of noodles is less likely to stick the pan or clump together)
1 - 1½ tbsp of curry powder (homemade mix or bought)
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
About 1 ½ tbsp of light soy sauce
About 1 tbsp of oyster sauce
About 2 - 3 stalks of spring onion, sliced diagonally into 2 - 3 cm long
1 large red chilli, sliced
2 small/medium eggs, beaten
100 g of char siu, shredded
100 g of small raw/ cooked prawns
about ¼ of each green and red pepper, sliced
handful of bean sprouts
cooking oil
  1. Soak the noodles in warm water till softened then drain really well. (don’t soaked in boiling water or they are likely to stick your pan or clump together)
  2. In a frying pan or wok, put in about 1 tsp of oil and fry the egg into omelette, cut into small pieces. Put aside.
  3. Add a bit more oil in the pan/wok, put in the half the onion and garlic, stir fry till lightly brown add in the prawns (if raw stir till change to pink/ white), char siu and pepper slices. Remove from pan and leave aside.
  4. Add about 1 ½ tbsp of oil in the pan/wok (best use a clean wok if the wok is not 100% non stick, if not noodles may stick to wok) add in the rest of the onion, garlic and chilli, stir then add the curry powder, stir again till fragrant then add noodles, keep stirring and tossing (best tossing with a pair of chopsticks), at the same time sprinkle on enough soy and oyster sauce to taste. If the noodles look very dry sprinkle on some water. Stir fry till fragrant, add the meat and vegetable mixture, egg and bean sprouts and spring onion, stir till hot and ready to eat.

**If you like a vegetarian version, leave out the meat, prawn, oyster sauce or egg. Use puffy tofu, firm marinated tofu or fried fresh tofu or fried seitan or fried tempeh. Add more vegetables if you like like carrot or mangetouts.
Try adding a tsp of curry paste will give a more flavour than just curry powder. Maybe use a little veggie stock powder.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Cinnamon and Pecan Buns

Love the smell of hot cinnamon buns. I got some pecans that need using and thought of adding some for additional crunch. Tried it and it was lovely. Here is the recipe.

Bread dough:

450g of white strong flour

1 egg

1/2 tsp of lemon oil (optional)

around 220 – 235 ml of milk (lukewarm)

75 g of softened butter

5 tbsp of sugar

2 tsp of quick yeast

1 tsp of salt

For the cinnamon sugar and pecan

5 tbsp sugar

1 ½ tbsp of ground cinnamon

150 g pecan, roughly chopped

For the glaze:

1 - 2 tbsp runny honey or golden syrup mix with few drops of warm water


1. Beat the egg in a measuring cup, add enough milk to make up to 280 - 290 ml of liquid.

2. Put all the bread dough ingredients in a bread machine and mix for about 10 minutes.

3. Leave to rise for about 40 – 45 minutes.

4. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface, give it a quick knead. Roll it out to a 30 x 25 cm rectangular block, keep the edge straight as possible. Sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar and pecan. Roll the dough up into a log, wet the edge with a dampened fingers. Press and stretch it out a bit. Cut into 14 – 15 pieces. Gentle pick up each piece and put on a non- stick/ greased/ parchment line baking tray. You need one large baking tray like mine or 2 normal size trays.

5. Leave to rise for about 1 hour till double in size.

6. Bake at 180 deg C for about 15 – 18 minutes till golden brown

7. Brush with honey or syrup to keep them shinny and sticky.

My weekly loaf

Baking every Sunday morning has become a regular routine for me in the last few years, unless I was away from home. I just loved playing with flour in pastry, bread, cakes, dumplings, noodles etc…. The smell of bread and cakes in the morning is wonderful.

For the basic I normally bake a white loaf and any other kind of bread and cakes that I fancied at the time. This week as usual a large white loaf, with the following basic recipe:

Basic white loaf

450g of white strong flour

280 ml of lukewarm water

1 tsp of quick yeast

1 tsp of salt

2 tbsp of olive oil

a small lump of butter for greasing tin (though I use non stick pan, I find greasing the tin gives a lovely flavour to the crust)

tin size = 2 lb tin


1. Mix the dough in a bread machine for 10 minutes. You can mix by hand if you want to.

2. Leave to prove for 40 minutes. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured working board. Give it a quick knead again. Rest for 5 minutes. Stretch it out into an oblong shape, fold forward and backward into 3 folds like an envelop. Shape and put into a greased 2 lb tin.

3. Leave it to rise in a warm area (quicker) or just on the worktop (longer), with a clean tea towel over it. The dough will rise to 2 – 2 ½ its original size in about 40 – 75 minutes. If the temperature is cooler this will take a bit longer.

4. Preheat oven to 220 deg C (fan oven). Put the bread in and bake at 220 deg C for 5 – 6 minutes, then turn the heat down to 190 deg C and continue baking for another 25 minutes. Take the bread out of the tin and keep the bread in the oven for another 12 – 15 minutes at 160 deg C, till the crust is hard. Leave to cool on a rack.

Breaded Prawn

Prawn toasts are so tasty but really bad for the waistline. I don’t make them as often as I like. Don’t use fancy bread, cheap white bread is fine. You can either use medium or thick slices.

The prawn paste I use has very little egg white and some spring onion for flavour.

200g of raw prawn, minced

50 g of pork fat meat, chopped very fine (optional if you don’t like it. Pork fat keeps the prawn paste moist)

2 stalks of spring onion, finely chopped

1 tsp of light soy

Small pinch of salt

Pinch of ground pepper

1 heap tbsp of cornflour

1 tbsp of egg white

1 tsp of sesame oil

Mix everything together and leave in the fridge for couple of hours before using.

I made 3 different breaded prawn.

1. Normal prawn toast with a twist. I add one whole medium prawn on top of the mince (the prawn is peeled but leaving the tail and make a slit on the back so it will lie flat on the mince). Cut the crust off the bread. Spread a thick layer of prawn paste about 0.5 - 0.6 cm thick (I like lots of prawn not just a mean smidgin like in some Chinese buffets). Cut the bread into triangles. Then put the whole prawn on top and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Deep fried till golden brown.

2. Second are prawn balls using the same paste, coated with diced bread. Deep fried.

3. Third is a prawn roll. Take a piece of bread, cut the crust off. Then roll with a rolling pin till flat. Pile on some prawn paste, spread it out but leave a bit of space at the end brush with beaten egg, then lay a few coriander leaves on the paste and a piece of lap cheong (Chinese sausage) cut into half. Trim off the edge to fit the size of the bread. Roll it up like a sushi. Press firm to seal. Deep fried for about 4 minutes. With a sharp knife trim off both ends and cut the log into 3 – 4 pieces.

Kerabu Mee Hoon (Nyonya Rice Vermicelli Salad)

This is a popular Nyonya rice noodles salad, very pungent sharp and tasty. You will like it if you like shrimp paste. It is quite strong. Use less sambal belachan if you like. If you like to add chopped mint or coriander in the noodles that's up to you but not traditional.

Here is the recipe: (enough for 3 people)


150 g dried rice vermicelli

12 – 15 raw king prawns

150 g of bean sprouts

2 shallots or ½ small red onion

1 pink torch ginger flower or bunga kantan ** which looks like this. (This is a traditional ingredient, but I have never seen this in England, so I sub it with 2 tbsp of grated galangal)

Small handful of dried shrimps (about 5 – 6 tbsp)

4 tbsp of kerisik or roasted ground coconut (see method)


1 ½ - 2 tbsp of sambal belachan (see recipe at end of page)

4 – 5 tbsp of lime juice (traditional recipe use local small green limes called limau kasturi or calamansi)

2 tbsp of light soy sauce

1 – 2 tbsp of sugar

2 - 3 tbsp of water


1 chilli sliced

Few sprigs of mint/coriander

3 – 4 tbsp of toasted and ground peanuts

Few slices of cucumber


  1. Soak rice vermicelli in boiling water till softened. Drain and run under tap water. Drain and toss the noodles again till no excess water running out.
  2. Soak the dried shrimps for 10 minutes. Then ground in a mini blender or pound with a pestle and mortar till fine. Roast this in a dried pan for 2 minutes till dried then add in the kerisik. Stir for another minute or two. Heat off and leave aside.
  3. Place bean sprouts in a bowl, cover with boiling water and let it stand for about a minute then drain.
  4. Cook king prawns, pan fried in an oiled pan.
  5. If you are lucky enough to get some ginger flower, cut into paper thin slices.
  6. Thinly slice the shallots or red onion
  7. Mix the ingredients for the sauce together.
  8. To assemble the noodles salad, in a large bowl, add in the ground dried shrimp and kerisik mixture, shallots or red onions and grated galangal (or ginger flower). Mix then add in bean sprouts and rice vermicelli. Toss then pour on the sauce and mix well.
  9. Pile this on a plate. Put the cooked prawns on, sprinkle with ground toasted peanuts. Then garnish with few sprigs of mint/coriander and chilli. Put the cucumber slices on the side.

Coconut Surprise

I had only bought fresh coconut once in England years ago and it was a waste of time, the coconut was off and it ended up in the bin. Had been thinking about fresh coconut again lately and how many recipes I can use it for. On Saturday, I saw some tiny coconuts in Morrisons, took the courage and bought one. Took it home and crack it, was really surprised to see it was really fresh and the coconut was pure white. Within half an hour I had a white pile of freshly grated coconut. Was really pleased and will be buying more coconuts from now on.

Here is the result.

To select and process a coconut:

  1. Select a coconut that does not look moldy on the 3 eyes (top of the coconut). Give it a sniff if it smells sour, put it back. Make sure the coconut is quite heavy and shake it to ensure there is still water inside.
  2. To crack a coconut, hold the coconut in one palm and the other hand using the back of a chinese cleaver tap hard on the middle of the coconut till the shell cracked. Do this over the sink to allow the water to spill out. Continue tapping along the crack till the whole coconut is broken into half. Crack the coconut halves into few pieces. Use a hammer if you want to but I just tap it with the back of a cleaver.
  3. Using a blunt knife dig out the white flesh. Big chunk if you can.
  4. Use a sharp small knife peel off the brown skin on the underside of the flesh.
  5. Grate the coconut with a Microplane, medium or fine.


I made kerisik (Malay toasted coconut) with the grated coconut. Kerisik is a common cooking ingredient in malay dishes like Beef Rendang and Nyonya cooking such as Kerabu Mee Hoon (Nyonya rice vermicelli salad).

To make kerisik, first roast the coconut in a dry pan on medium low heat and stirring all the time for about 20 – 25 minutes till golden brown. (if the coconut is very hot and turning brown too quickly, turn the heat down to minimum). Here is the result.

While it is still warm, blitz the coconut using a food processor or mini blender till very fine like this.

** If you don’t get fresh coconut you can use desiccated coconut.

Har Gau (prawn dumplings)

Har Gau is probably the most common dim sum beside siu mai all over the world. The translucent pastry and yummy prawn filling are so inviting and absolutely lovely to eat. Not too difficult to make all you need is the right flours, both available from any chinese supermarkets. See first picture on the following link.

Chinese: 蝦餃

Method of wrapping click here to view slide show


80g wheat starch (粉 or read in Cantonese as 'dung mein fun')

20g tapioca starch or oriental potato starch

¼ tsp salt

140 ml boiling water

2 tsp lard (melted) or cooking oil

a little cooking oil for greasing


200g raw prawns, roughly chopped

50g pork fat meat, cut into very fine dices (optional)

50g chopped bamboo shoot or water chestnut, chopped (optional)

1 stalk of spring onion, finely chopped (about 4 - 5 tbsp)

1 tsp of light soy

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

½ tsp sesame oil

This makes 16 - 18 pieces


  1. Mix all the ingredients for the filling, leave in the fridge for 1 – 2 hours.
  2. Mix the two flours and salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well and pour in the boiling water, mix. Then mix in the lard or oil. The pastry should be quite lumpy, don’t worry. Leave it to cool a little.
  3. Rub a thin film of oil on the working board. Scrape the pastry onto the greased area. Rub hand with a little oil too. Knead the dough till smooth.
  4. Roll into a rod shape about 2 cm thick, mark equally and cut into 16 – 18 pieces. Each piece around 13 – 14g. Put pieces into a bowl cover with cloth.
  5. If there is any dough sticking on the working area, scrape that off.
  6. Grease a small area of the working area with a very thin film of oil.
  7. Take a piece of dough roll into a ball between your palms. Then press into a disc and roll it out on the greased area. See picture for the wrapping technique.
  8. Cover the completed dumplings till you are ready to steam. Can leave in fridge for few hours if you are not ready to eat.
  9. Steam at high heat for 4 minutes. Eat while hot on its own or with soy sauce or chilli oil.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Baked char siu bun with pineapple topping.

I have not made Chinese buns for a while now. Since I have some char siu sitting in the fridge I thought of making some char siu buns. I love the sweet crunchy topping on some of the buns in the chinese bakery called 'bo lo bau' or bun with a pineapple shape topping, though many have no added pineapple at all just the shape of the topping scored in diamond like this . I found this recipe with actual pineapple added and with my own adjustments, here it is.

Chinese: 叉燒菠蘿包

Slide Show: Click here

This recipe make 20 buns (size about 8cm wide)


  1. For the bread dough
    250g strong white flour

200g plain flour

250ml semi skimmed milk (lukewarm)

1 ½ tsp of quick yeast

75 g of melted butter

½ tsp of salt

50g of sugar

  1. For the topping

180g of plain flour

100g of sugar (80g if you like it not too sweet)

30g dried milk powder

1 tsp of bicarb

60g of softened butter

50g of softened lard

1 yolk from a small egg

3 tbsp of very finely chopped pineapple (or crushed pineapple)

1 beaten egg yolk (not for the dough, for brushing the top)

  1. For the filling

250 - 300g char siu

2 - 3 tsp of Lee Kum Kee char siu sauce

1 tsp of dark soy sauce

1 heap tsp of water

5 tbsp of water

1 tsp of cornflour

Pinch of pepper


  1. Mix the bread dry ingredients together. Add milk and melted butter. Mix then knead for about 5 - 8 minutes. Leave to rise for 45 – 1 hour.
  2. Finely diced the char siu. Add to a small pan with the rest of the ingredients. Heat till thicken. Leave aside to cool.
  3. To make the topping, add flour, milk powder, sugar, bicarb together, stir then add butter and lard. Mix to a breadcrumb texture. Gently stir in the egg yolk and minced/crushed pineapple. Spead some flour on the working area, pat the dough together with some dusting of flour. Cut into two equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long sausage. Cut into 10 pieces and roll each into a ball (if too sticky coat hand with flour). Repeat with the other piece, till you get 20 pieces of dough balls. See picture. Cover with cloth.
  4. Clean the working area.
  5. Once the bread dough has risen to twice its original size. Dust the working area with flour. Tip the dough on to the working area. Give it a quick knead. Divide into two equal piece, then stretch it out and cut into 10 pieces (about 45g each). Coat palms with a little flour, press and roll each piece into a ball. Repeat the same with the other piece dough, till you get 20 equal pieces of dough balls. Cover with cloth.
  6. Tease and stretch each dough out (like in picture) and fill with about 1 tbsp of filling. Grap the end together and form a ball. Put sealed side down on non stick (or patchment paper lined) tray, with enough space for the bun to rise. Repeat till you have finished making 20 buns. Cover and leave to rise for about 30 - 45 minutes till the buns have risen.
  7. On a clean working area, dust hand with flour, take a piece of topping ball and press or pinch with fingers till it forms a disc about 6cm diameter. Put this disc on a bun like a blanket. Continue doing this till you have covered the 20 buns with a topping.
  8. Brush each topping with beaten egg yolk.
  9. Baked at 210 - 220 deg C (fan oven) for 9 – 10 minutes till golden brown.

The buns were a success. It was really tasty too. I was so greedy I stuffed my face silly with 4 within 2 hours, washing down with a nice cup of tea. Definitely will make again.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Char Siu (Chinese roast pork)

When in China Town walking past the restaurants with strings of red glistening pork, it is quite hard to resist. Char Siu is so yummy, sweet and savoury. Commercial char siu always use red colouring. For homemade recipe I always avoid colouring and msg.

This is my version of char siu recipe, I prefer to use char siu sauce with other ingredients as the marinate. I do use hoi sin when I run out of char siu sauce but it is quite salty and make the char siu quite dark.

Chinese: 蜜汁叉燒

About 1 kg of pork tenderloin or shoulder pork
5 tbsp of LKK char siu sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
few drops of dark soy (for colour)
2 tbsp of Shoashing or chinese cooking wine
2 tsp of grated ginger
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tsp of 5 spice powder
2 - 3 tsp of chilli sauce
dash of sesame oil
1 - 2 tsp of honey (for brushing after cooking)

If using pork shoulder, trim off rind and cut into long strip
Mix everything together (except honey) and leave to marinate in the fridge for 24 - 36 hours*
Take the meat out for about 1 - 2 hours to warm.
Put the meat on a rack.
Roast at 210deg C or grill at 190 -180 deg C (about 30 - 40 minutes or till brown all over) turn over at half time.
Mix honey with a little of the fat and juice from the roasting tray and brush all over the meat.

*Once the meat has been marinating over 24 hours, the meat will be juicy and pinkish like it has been cured with cured salt.

This was the result.

Which was then tranformed into char siu rice with cucumber and sauce on the roasting tray drizzled over the rice.

If you like a gloopy sauce like that in the restaurant, here is a recipe you can try

Juice and fat from the roasting pan, diluted with some hot water, strained and add all in
(you can measure by tsp or tbsp)
1 part light soy sauce
1 part dark soy sauce
1 part oyster sauce
2 parts honey
1 part sugar
pinch of five spice
few drops of sesame oil
enough water to dilute
cornflour to thicken

Put everything in a saucepan and heat till hot and thickened.

Next day I had char siu fried rice for lunch. Other than char siu, there are overnight rice, garlic, carrot, pea, egg, spring onion flavoured with light soy sauce, ground pepper and dash of sesame oil.

Hot and Sour Soup

I always order hot and sour soup in restaurant eventhough I know it is so easy to make. Last time I had it in China Town the soup was loaded with chilli it was so hot it was nearly inedible. This soup is one of those comfort food that hit all the right spots, hot, sour, savoury and slip down really well.

It is common to find blood jelly and pork rind in this soup. If you have this soup in the restaurant and saw some brown tofu like lumps, that's boiled blood. Luxury version contains soaked sea cucumber, fish maw or dried scallop shreds. The version has no blood jelly, sea cucumber, pork rind, fish maw or dried scallop.

Chinese : 酸辣湯

This recipe is enough for 3 - 4 large bowls.

few pieces of woodears
few dried shitake mushrooms
1 square chinese tofu, about 150 – 200g (cut into dices)
3 – 4 tbsp bamboo shoots (cut into thin strips)
or schechuan preserved vegetable
榨菜 (Zha cai)
100 -150 g pork or chicken (minced or cut into matchstick strips) *
100 -150 g roughly chopped raw prawn, if not defrosted frozen cocktail prawns will do
2 pint of chicken or pork stock, homemade or stock cube*
2 small or 1 large eggs, beaten
2 tbsp soy sauce (less if stock is seasoned or if using zha cai)
dash of dark soy sauce (for colouring)
1 tsp sugar
pinch of ground pepper (roasted ground Szechuan peppercorns or white pepper)
2 – 4 tbsp black rice vinegar (much as you like, other vinegar just don’t have the authentic flavour)
2 – 5 tsp of chilli oil (much as you like) or you can use 2 – 3 tsp fresh minced red chilli
dash of sesame oil
2 - 3 tbsp cornflour mixed with dash of water (thickness of soup depends of individual taste)
Extra chopped chillies if preferred
1 - 2 stalks of finely chopped spring onion.


Soak woodears and shitake with warm water till softened, cleaned and cut into matchstick strips. You need around 3/4 - 1 cup in total

Add some of the stock to the mince pork/chicken to loosen it.

Heat remaining stock till boiling, add mince, woodears and zha cai (if using), heat for few minutes till boiling. Add tofu. Add seasonings, i.e. enough vinegar, chilli oil, sugar, soy sauce, dark soy and ground pepper. Taste and add more seasonings if required. Add bamboo shoots and prawns and boil for a minute, stir in beaten egg forming thin ribbons. Add enough slackened cornflour to thicken. Stir in few drops of sesame oil.

Pour into soup bowls. Sprinkle with few more drops of chilli oil or sesame oil, more ground pepper, chopped chillies and spring onions.

*For a vegetarian version, use vegetarian stock and replace meat with button mushrooms. Leave the egg if you are vegan.

Monday, 7 July 2008

A taste of Nyonya

I love Nyonya food, always colourful and full of flavours. I was going to make some stuffed squids with minced prawns at the weekend, as it turned out my packet of squids wasn’t as good as I thought once defrosted, the size varied and they were far too thin. Got the squids and prawn defrosted so I decided to make Sambal Udang (prawn sambal) with added squids, kind of seafood sambal. It was very tasty and I had it with Nyonya salad which was spicy and tangy.

Sambal Udang dengan Sotong (Prawn sambal with squid)

300g frozen peeled prawns (I use Tesco)

250g squids*, cleaned and cut into bite size

1 medium onion, sliced

2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges

½ cup of coconut milk (from a tin)

5 – 6 tbsp of tamarind juice (ready to use or reconstituted from 1 walnut size semi dried tamarind with seeds)

1 sprig of curry leaves (about 10 – 15 leaves), optional

1 – 2 tbsp of sugar (optional)

Salt to taste (optional)

4 – 6 tbsp of cooking oil

Rempah (spice paste):

3 – 4 walnut size shallots

2 cloves of garlic

1 small chunk (about thumb size) piece of galangal

2 lemongrass (remove tough outer layers, trim off top and bottom leaving the softer core, then slice paper thin)

2 fresh red chilli (medium hot), deseeded

4 – 6 dried chillies (large medium hot), deseeded dried chillies and soaked in warm water till softened

2 tsp of shrimp paste (roasted in dry pan or use as it is)

3 – 4 candlenuts (optional)



Chilli (optional)


  1. Put all the ingredients for rempah in a mini blender and blitz till the paste is smooth. If too dry add a little water to blend.
  2. Heat oil in wok or pan till hot, add in curry leaves till sizzle, then add rempah and stir for 5 – 10 minutes till the oil separates.
  3. Add coconut milk and tamarind juice. Taste add salt and sugar if wish.
  4. Add slice onion and stir till onion is softened, add tomato wedges, stir till hot.
  5. Turn the heat right up and add prawns and squids, stir fry for about 2 minutes or till the prawns and squids have turned colour. Don’t overcooked.
  6. For the garnish I use cucumber slices and a large chilli cut and dipped in cold water till it opens up into a flower.
* For a more traditional recipe, use all prawns

This salad though very simple it is bursting with flavour, hot and tangy.

Nyonya Salad

½ cup of fresh pineapple, diced

½ cup of cucumber, diced

2 – 3 tsp of sambal belachan

1 tbsp of limejuice


Very very simple just mix everything together.

For the sambal belachan, this is a typical no cook recipe.

Sambal Belachan

100g of shrimp paste or belachan (preferably Malaysian belachan in a block)

About 15 dried chillies (large medium hot), deseeded and soaked in warm water

3 – 4 fresh red chillies, deseeded

Few tbsp of water


1. If using block belachan, slice the belachan into 4 -5 mm thick and roast on a dry pan. Beware very strong smell, open all windows and close doors where applicable. Roast till brown. If using Thai belachan, this will be in lumps scooped out from the tub.

2. Put all the ingredients in a mini blender and blitz till very smooth, add some water if too dry. The sambal should look very thick, will keep in the fridge for weeks. Sambal belachan is very versatile and use in lots of Malaysian/ Nyonya cooking, or use as condiment with a sqeeze of lime.

Purple Seaweed and Tofu Soup

Ever heard of Chinese purple seaweed? It’s called 紫菜 ‘zi chai’ in mandarin or ‘jee choi’ in Cantonese, translated as ‘purple vegetable’. This seaweed is very similar to Wales laverbread or the seaweed for Japanese sushi wrapper. You can get this from any Chinese supermarkets like from here

This seaweed is sold dried in round discs and the colour is jet black with a purplish sheen (how it gets its name), once cooked it becomes reddish brown. It swells up a lot when soaked so a little goes a long way. This seaweed is not cooked to a mush like Welsh laver bread. Normally takes about 10 min boiling so it still has a slight crunch. I normally use it for soup like this recipe below.

Chinese: 紫菜豆腐

3 cups Pork or chicken stock (homemade or stock cube)

150 – 180g minced pork*

1/3 piece seaweed or Zi Cai

1 piece (7cm sq) chinese tofu**

1 - 2 tbsp cooking wine or brandy

soy sauce and/or salt

ground pepper

some sesame oil or chilli oil

1 stalk of spring onion, chopped

  1. Add dash of soy and pinch of pepper to minced pork, mix and leave aside.
  2. Soak the seaweed for 10 minutes till softened. Pour into a sieve and drain off excess water.
  3. Heat the stock till boiling
  4. Use a teaspoon and shape pork into tiny meatballs and drop straight into the boiling stock. Boil for few minutes.
  5. Add seaweed and tofu cut into bite size. Boil for another few minutes till piping hot.
  6. Seasoned with enough soy or salt, ground pepper and wine/brandy.
  7. Pour into soup bowl sprinkle with chopped spring onion and few drops of chilli oil or sesame oil


* For vegetarian version, use vegetable stock and replace pork with a handful button mushrooms.
**If you don’t have tofu, you can swirl in one beaten egg at end of the cooking while the liquid is boiling hot to form egg ribbons.