Monday, 29 September 2008

Kuih Sarang Semut (Honeycomb Cake)



This is a Malay caramel cake very popular in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. Commonly called honeycomb cake. In Malay it is called Kuih Sarang Semut translated as ant's nest cake. The cake is full of tunnels or holes and is quite chewy.

This cake is quite simple to make once you got the syrup sorted. The ingredients and baking method are quite different to a typical western cake. Burnt sugar syrup and condensed milk are the typical ingredients.



For the recipe: (make a 9" cake)

250g sugar
250 ml of water

100g butter
250g plain flour
160 - 180g condensed milk
6 large eggs (beaten)
1-1/2 tsp bicarb. or baking soda

Method:

  1. Tin size: 9" or 23- 24 cm round tin. If you use a spring form or loose bottom tin, line the whole tin with paper, see slide show. Don't just line the bottom the mixture will leak. If you use a cake tin without a loose bottom you can line just the bottom with paper.
  2. In a small saucepan, add in sugar and heat at medium heat till the sugar begin to melt. Stir once or twice with one single chopstick (don't use wooden spoon, too much area for the sugar to cool and crystallise), once the melted sugar has turned golden yellow, turn the heat to right low and continue heating till the sugar turns golden brown like dark tea, see slide show. Heat off and let it cool for 30 seconds. Then add one tbsp of water at a time, stand back the hot sugar will spit. Continue adding water one tbsp at a time till it stops sizzle, then pour in the rest of water. Turn heat on for about 1 minute, stir and scrape the side to release any unmelted sugar. Heat off and add the butter stir till melted.
  3. In a large mixing bowl add in the plain flour, pour in about 1/2 the liquid and mix with a electric beater till smooth, continue adding the liquid till all mix in. Let the mixture stand for about 10 - 15 minutes.
  4. Add in the egg, condensed milk and sieve in the bicarb, mix till all combined.
  5. Pour the mixture into the tin. Leave it to stand in the cold oven for about 30 - 40 minutes.
  6. Turn the oven to 150 deg C and bake the cake from cold for 1 hour or till it is cooked by sticking a cocktail stick in the centre and it comes out clean.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Fish fragrant pork


Fish fragrant style cooking is probably my favourite at the moment. I am addicted to chilli bean sauce :).. Dead easy recipe and delicious.

For the recipe (enough for 3)

Ingredients:

300g lean pork
150g bamboo shoot
handful of soaked woodear or tree fungus or black fungus 木耳(about 3 - 4 whole dried pieces or small handful of ready chopped dried)
2 - 3 cloves garlic
1 - 2 tbsp chopped ginger
2 tbsp chilli bean sauce
2 -3 tsp Chinkiang black vinegar
1 - 2 tbsp cooking wine (Shoashing) or dry sherry
a little sugar to taste
dash of soy (optional)
1 tsp of cornflour mix with 2 - 3 tbsp of water
handful of chopped spring onion
few tbsp of cooking oil
1 -2 tsp chilli oil (optional)
pinch of ground Sichuan pepper


Methods:
  1. Cut pork, woodear and bamboo shoot into long thin strips
  2. In a wok heat some oil till smoking hot, add in the garlic, ginger and pork. Stir fry for about 1 minute.
  3. Add chilli bean paste, woodear and bamboo shoots, stir fry till fragrant.
  4. Add in some cooking wine. Taste if salty if not add dash of soy.
  5. Add in vinegar and sugar to taste.
  6. Stir till bubbling hot, add in cornflour to thicken.
  7. Add a pinch of ground Sichuan pepper, a little chilli oil and the spring onion.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Itek Sio (Nyonya braised duck)


Got some duck legs need using, the only thing I can think of was some kind of braised recipe. Don't really want plum sauce duck again I had it not too long ago. Then I thought of Itek Sio which is rather nice. Itek Sio is Nyonya style braised duck, the main ingredients are ground coriander and tamarind.

For the recipe (serve 4)

2-1/2 to 3 tbsp whole coriander seeds
1/2 to 1 tsp of black peppercorns
4 - 5 duck legs
1 tbsp of dark soy sauce
1 tbsp of light soy sauce

2 -3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 - 5 shallots, chopped
1 piece of cinnamon or cassia bark (about 3" long)
about 5 -6 whole cloves (about 1/2 tsp)
about 1 golf ball size wet tamarind with seeds (or few tbsp of ready to use tamarind paste/juice), to your taste
More light or dark soy or salt to your taste
1 small chunk of palm sugar or normal sugar (to your taste)
chilli (optional), fresh or dried chilli flakes
cornflour with some water to thicken (optional)


Method:
  1. Dry roast the coriander and peppercorns in a pan till golden and fragrant, about 4 - 5 minutes. Then ground to powder using a mini blender or pestle and mortar.
  2. Mix the duck with both the light and dark soy and ground spices, leave to marinate for few hours or overnight.
  3. In a very hot large pan or wok, no need to add oil and fry the duck pieces skin side down first and fry till all sides are browned. Leave the remaining marinate for use later. Do use a non stick pan/wok. There will be plenty of fat oozing out of the duck skin.
  4. Remove most of the fat and add garlic, shallot, cinnamon and cloves. Stir and then coat the paste on the duck. Keep stirring and then add remaining duck marinate, stir for a while then add about 1 cup of water, bring to a boil then lower heat cover and simmer.
  5. At the meantime, add enough (about 1/2 - 3/4 cup) hot water to the wet tamarind and sqeeze to release the pulp then strain. Then add to the duck. If using ready to use tamarind paste/juice, add straight into the pan/wok, 1 tbsp at a time and taste before adding more because the strength from brand to brand is quite different.
  6. Add enough sugar to your taste. Then add some soy sauce to taste (light or dark doesn't really matter, to the colour or taste you like), if you don't like more soy sauce you can add enough salt to taste.
  7. If you like spicy, add in some chilli.
  8. Braise the duck for about 35 - 40 minutes or till tender. If there is plenty of sauce in the pan/wok, take the duck pieces out and reduce the sauce, skim any fat floating on top if you like. Add some cornflour if you like to thicken the sauce.
**Other than duck legs, you can use whole duck or duck crown. I find duck legs much easier to handle.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Savoury stuffed pancakes


I bought similar stuffed pancakes for breakfast in Hong Kong and China hawker stall. They are simple to make great for breakfast or brunch. I think this is popular in Northern China rather than a Cantonese recipe. You can use any filling you like meat and veg, potato and vegetables (vegetarian) or even cheese and onion english style, great to use up any leftovers. You can make them ahead and warm in the oven, great for fingerfood party or packed lunch.

Recipe - make about 1 dozen*

For the dough:
300g plain flour
1 tbsp oil
200ml boiling water
pinch of salt
more flour for dusting or kneading

For the filling:
some cooking oil
2 -3 cloves of garlic, chopped
about 1-1/2 cup roughly chopped pak choi (Shanghainese), choy sum, other vegetables like spinach or cabbage, carrot or cooked potato (you can use any mixture of vegetables you like)
150 of pork of chicken (cooked or raw, cut into small pieces) or small prawns
handful of bamboo shoot, roughly chopped
about 8 - 9 strips of chinese pickled radish or choi bo (see picture on left)
2 eggs beaten
dash of light soy (to your taste)
pinch of ground pepper
dash of sesame oil
2 - 3 stalks of spring onion, chopped
about 2 - 3 tbsp of chopped coriander/ cilantro


Methods:
  1. In a mixing bowl add the flour and mix in the oil. Pour boiling water in a cup add salt to dissolve. Pour all the water into the bowl. Mix the dough with chopsticks or spoon. It is quite lumpy at this stage. Cover and leave aside for about 30min.
  2. For the beaten egg, add a little oil heat till smoking hot and fry egg as omelette, brown on both sides then chopped into small pieces.
  3. Add some oil in pan/wok stir fry the garlic, add meat and cook till lightly brown, then add vegetables and chopped up omelette, stir fry for about 1 minute or till vegetables are tender but still crunchy. Seasoned with light soy (don't add too much the pickled radish can be salty), pinch of pepper and dash of sesame oil. Heat off, add spring onion and coriander. Leave to cool.
  4. Dust flour on working area and knead the dough till smooth, add in more dry flour if needed till the dough is not sticky. Roll into a long sausage and cut into 12 equal pieces, each piece about 40g. Put aside
  5. Dust with flour and roll each piece of dough into a thin pancake about 15cm diameter. Keep turning or rotate the dough when rolling making it easier to roll it out to a perfect round shape.
  6. Fill half of the rolled out dough with few tbsp of filling, dampen half the edge with some water. Fold the unfilled side over to form a crescent shape. Press gently to seal then trim off any uneven edge with a small knife. The pancake is ready of frying.
  7. To fry the pancake, brush the frying pan with oil then fry till golden brown on both sides.

* You can make dainty little ones if you like. use less dough and less filling each

** If you like the pancake to be more crispy add more oil when frying.

***Suitable for vegetarian: use any vegetables mix you like, IMO the pickled radish is essential as it gives a salty and savoury taste.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Chengdu Chicken



Chinese: 成都子雞 (Chen du ze jee)

Bought a new brand of chilli bean sauce (or chilli oil bean paste as translated from Chinese), made in Sichuan. Very cheap and quite oily. The smell and flavour is much better than any brands I had used. I will from now on look out for this brand. A picture of this can be seen at the background in the picture below.

Been wanting to make Chengdu chicken for ages finally got round to it. It's wow, pungent with several layers of spiciness which really hits the spot if you like spicy food. It's a bit oily because I use meat with skin on but the oil is really tasty and gives the dish a bright red colour. The mandarin peel gives a different dimension of flavour which was unusual and quite lovely.

Recipe: (serve about 3)

Ingredients: see picture below
















500g chicken (I use 2 chicken leg meat with skin on, if you like it leaner/less oily remove the skin, leg meat is tastier then breast), cut into bite size
2 - 3 tbsp of cooking oil
2 tbsp of chilli bean paste
1 small chunk of ginger (chopped)
1 small piece of chinese dried mandarin/tangerine peel (soaked and shredded fine)
1 tbsp of sichuan peppercorn (whole)
1/2 - 2 tsp of crushed chilli flakes (to your taste)
2 - 3 tsp of chinese black rice vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar)
1 - 2 tbsp cooking rice wine (shoashing)
about 2 tsp of sugar (or to your taste)
some water for sauce
1 heap tsp of cornflour mix with some water
1/2 tsp of ground Sichuan pepper
2 stalks of spring onion (chopped)

Method:
  1. Heat oil in wok or large frying pan add the whole Sichuan peppercorns and brown them for few minutes to infuse the oil. Then remove and discard.
  2. Add chilli flakes and chicken stir till chicken is slightly brown.
  3. Add ginger, mandarin peel and chilli bean sauce. Stir fry for about 2 minutes, add wine and vinegar. Add enough sugar to taste.
  4. Add a splash of water (more or less to your taste, if you like the chicken dry add less). Then add slackened cornflour to thicken.
  5. Sprinkle with ground sichuan pepper then add spring onion.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Sunday breakfast - Congee


Chinese: 雞絲粥 (gai see juk)

I love Chinese breakfast, there is always so much to choose from other than dim sum. One of my favourite for an early breakfast is a bowl of hot rice porridge or congee. As I have some chicken stock from last night chicken rice and some leftover cooked chicken, congee is perfect for the job while pottering about on a Sunday morning listening to the radio and doing a little housework at the same time.

For this congee I like it quite watery so I used half cup of rice and 5 cups of chicken stock. Let it boil then simmer for about 1 hour. (use a large pot where possible, as the rice soup will boil over easy).

Once the congee is ready, seasoned with a little salt. While it is still boiling hot, ladle into a large soup bowl. Quickly sprinkle on some shredded cooked chicken, a whole egg (or just the york). The egg or yolk will cook once stir into the piping hot congee. Then garnish with finely shredded ginger, spring onion, deep fried crispy shallots, few drops of sesame oil, sprinkling of ground pepper and some light soy. Here you go, simple and delicious breakfast.

** If you like the egg a bit more cooked, ping in the microwave for 1 minute before adding the garnish.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

'Hainanese' Chicken Rice



I have never been to Hainan or tasted the real Hainanese chicken rice. My version of Hainanese chicken rice is kind of fusion with Malaysian style and a touch of Cantonese. Can't really called it authentic Hainanese chicken rice maybe just Yummy Chicken Rice.

The fragrant rice has really filled the whole house this evening, I can still smell it after few hours.

There are several things need to be done right to get the right flavour the texture.
  • The chicken must be velvety soft and succulent.
  • The rice must be very fragrant.
  • Condiments are essential, I always go for a chilli ginger sauce and a Cantonese spring onion and ginger paste.
  • There is always a clear bowl of soup to go with the rice

For the recipe, (enough for 4 - 5)

A. The poached chicken and stock

1 whole chicken, about 1.5 - 1.7kg
1 chunk of ginger, sliced
water
some chicken bones
  1. Clean the chicken. Find a stock pot that will fit the whole chicken in.
  2. Fill the pot with water to about 3/4 full, bring this to a rolling boil. Add in the ginger.
  3. Gently put the chicken it, ensure the whole chicken is immersed in the boiling water, if too much water take some out, if not enough add more.
  4. Gently simmer (without a lid on) for about 10 - 12 minutes, don't let it boil. Turn the heat off, put the lid on and leave the chicken to poach in the hot water. After about 40 minutes, the water would have cooled down a bit, turn the heat back on, very gently simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes (without the lid on) to bring the water temp. up again, then heat off. Lid on and continue poaching without heat for another 20 - 25 minutes.
  5. The chicken should be cooked through now. Some Chinese like the chicken very pink so they will poach the chicken a lot shorter about 40 - 45 minutes all together.
  6. Take the chicken out and run under cold water to cool it down right away.
  7. Drain and leave aside to prepare the other parts of the dish.
  8. Reserve the poaching liquid, if you have some chicken bones add them in now and boil the stock for 30 - 40 minutes. Use stock for rice and soup.

B. The rice

2 cups jasmine rice (500 ml)
3 cups chicken stock (made as above)
1 tsp of grated ginger
1 tsp Knorr chicken powder (optional)
2 pieces pandanus (pandan) leaves (tied to a knot)
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt

Rinse rice and drain.
Add stock and other ingredients, tuck the padanus leaves under the rice.
You can cook the rice using a rice cooker.
If you cook the rice using a saucepan, bring the rice to a boil, lower heat and let the rice absorbs all the liquid. Turn the heat to the lowest heat possible. Let it simmer for another 10 - 12 minutes. Heat off and let it stand for 15 minutes. The rice should be cooked then.


C. The chilli sauce

40 - 50g red chilli (I use Tesco large red chilli, 1 pack)
1 large chunk of ginger, about 30 - 40g
1 large clove of garlic
4 - 5 tbsp lime juice
4 - 5 tbsp water
2 tsp of light soy
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp sugar

Blend all the ingredients together in a mini blender till smooth.


D. Spring onion paste

4 stalks of spring onion
1 large chunk of ginger, about 40 g
1 tsp of Knorr chicken stock powder (essential IMO to give the right taste, but if you don't like it leave it out)
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of each of ground sichuan pepper and white/black pepper
5 - 6 tbsp of cooking oil

Method:
  1. Hand chopped the spring onion till very fine.
  2. Grate the ginger
  3. Mix all the ingredients together and warm in a small saucepan for 1 - 2 minutes

E. Soup
  1. Heat the stock made earlier. Season with salt/soy and pepper. If you like it tastier add a pinch of chicken stock powder.
  2. Chopped some Tienjin salted pickled vegetable.
  3. Chopped some spring onion.
  4. Add pickled vegetable and spring onion into the boiling soup. Heat off. Ready to serve.



** Blanch or steamed some pak choi and slice some cucumber

To assemble the dish
Fill a rice bowl with rice. Invert onto a serving plate
Cut the chicken into pieces, put some on the serving plate
Add some pak choi and cucumber
Condiment dish for the chilli sauce and spring onion paste
Lastly a bowl of hot soup.


*** the red stuff you can see on the photo on the chicken is just some of the chilli sauce.

If any chilli sauce or spring onion paste left, it'll keep in the fridge for a week. If not can freeze.

Friday, 12 September 2008

The Chinese 100

I found this list from Lizzie which looked interesting and created by appetideforchina. Thanks guys!. I had a bit a fun going through the list and found I had most of the listed foods (except a few I don’t think should be listed as Chinese). I got several recipes already posted on the blog. Think my score is 90.

  1. Almond milk - authentic Chinese almond milk, just bought a can last week
  2. Ants Climbing a Tree (poetic, not literal, name) – recipe on my blog
  3. Asian pear – got some in my fridge right now
  4. Baby bok choy – some in my fridge too
  5. Baijiu – got some at home
  6. Beef brisketthat is not a dish, it a cut of meat
  7. Beggar's Chicken – had some a long time ago, got the recipe will make it sometime
  8. Bingtang hulu – syrup coated water chestnuts on a skewer? heard of but not had. Don’t think I like it
  9. Bitter melon – had it many many times
  10. Bubble tea – had plenty of that in HK. Got the bubble pearls at home. Try it with red bean, posted on my blog
  11. Buddha's Delight – make it quite often here is a picture
  12. Cantonese roast duck – one of my favourite
  13. Century egg, or thousand-year egg – had numerous in the far east, not in UK too expensive
  14. Cha siu (Cantonese roast pork) – bought and homemade, recipe posted on the blog
  15. Char kway teow – make this regularly, see picture
  16. Chicken feet – had it in dim sum restaurant, I also make various chicken feet dishes myself
  17. Chinese sausage – had lots in the far east, don’t like those sold in UK
  18. Chow mein – my regular noodle stir fry
  19. Chrysanthemum tea – have this quite regular
  20. Claypot rice – love it especially spare ribs with salted fish claypot rice.
  21. Congee – make this quite regular when the weather is getting cold
  22. Conpoy (dried scallops) – love it, but don’t have any at the moment, need to stock up when I go to the far east
  23. Crab Rangoon – that’s not authentic Chinese, it’s American fusion
  24. Dan Dan noodlesrecipe on my blog
  25. Dragonfruit – don’t like the white flesh, red flesh is lovely
  26. Dragon's Beard candy – tried it but don’t fancy it too much
  27. Dried cuttlefish – love it with steamed chicken or congee
  28. Drunken chicken – love it, might make some soon
  29. Dry-fried green beans - authentic Sichuan recipe is lovely
  30. Egg drop soup – yes something like sweet corn soup
  31. Egg rolls – love all spring rolls of all sorts
  32. Egg tart, Cantonese or Macanese – love both
  33. Fresh bamboo shoots – nice especially fresh not brined or pickled
  34. Fortune cookies – had them and don’t like. A waste IMO, nobody eats them other than getting a silly strip of paper from it
  35. Fried milk – made it long time ago
  36. Fried rice – had this all the time
  37. Gai lan (Chinese broccoli) – love it but quite expensive in UK
  38. General Tso's Chicken – have the recipe, but not cook it yet
  39. Gobi Manchurianthat is not really Chinese, it’s manchurian
  40. Goji berries (Chinese wolfberries) – love it and got lots at home
  41. Grass jelly – love it with chendol (green noodles) and coconut milk, Malaysian dessert
  42. Hainan chicken rice – love it
  43. Hand-pulled noodles – love it
  44. Har gau (steamed shrimp dumplings in translucent wrappers) – made it not too long ago, see my blog
  45. Haw flakes – love it when I was a kid
  46. Hibiscus tea – guess you are talking about Jamaican flower, if it is I won’t classify this as Chinese, had it once or twice, ok
  47. Hong Kong-style Milk Tea – si mut naai cha? Yes love it
  48. Hot and sour soup posted on my blog
  49. Hot Coca-Cola with Ginger – nice when having a cold
  50. Hot Pot – which type? But I love it all
  51. Iron Goddess tea (Tieguanyin) – one of my favourite Chinese tea
  52. Jellyfish – love it
  53. Kosher Chinese food what has Chinese food got to do with kosher?
  54. Kung Pao Chicken – love it
  55. Lamb skewers (yangrou chua'r) – not had the real thing in China, but normal lamb skewer yes.
  56. Lion's Head meatballs – love it
  57. Lomo Saltado ?? That’s not chinese
  58. Longan fruit – love it
  59. Lychee – love it too
  60. Macaroni in soup with Spam – nice for a quick breakfast
  61. Malatang – love it especially malatang steamboat
  62. Mantou, especially if fried and dipped in sweetened condensed milk
  63. Mapo Tofurecipe on my blog
  64. Mock meat – Chinese seitan is lovely braised with a nice sauce
  65. Mooncake (bonus points for the snow-skin variety) – going to make some this weekend
  66. Nor mai gai (chicken and sticky rice in lotus leaf) – love this too
  67. Pan-fried jiaozi – love it
  68. Peking duck – my top list of favourite dish
  69. Pineapple bun - recipe on my blog
  70. Prawn crackers – nice if made with real prawn not msg
  71. Pu'er tea – used to drink it everyday
  72. Rambutan – love it
  73. Red bean in dessert form – several posted on my blog
  74. Red bayberry yangmei, chinese strawberry, had some in HK and China, very nice
  75. Red cooked pork – recipe on my blog
  76. Roast pigeon – very nice especially those in HK
  77. Rose tea
  78. Roujiamo – had similar
  79. Scallion pancake – it’s been a while since I last made this
  80. Shaved ice dessert – love it especially Malaysian style shave ice with all the bits and evaporated milk pour on top, made a red bean shave it dessert on my blog
  81. Sesame chicken - nice
  82. Sichuan pepper in any dish – kung po chicken, mala chicken, Sichuan boiled beef etc…..
  83. Sichuan preserved vegetable (zhacai) – nice
  84. Silken tofu – love it, made some tofu myself, see blog
  85. Soy milk, freshly made – I like homemade
  86. Steamed egg custard – love it sweet or savoury
  87. Stinky tofu – come close to having it, still the smell puts me off it
  88. Sugar cane juice – nice if freshly pressed
  89. Sweet and sour pork, chicken, or shrimp love it
  90. Taro love it
  91. Tea eggs not had any for years
  92. Tea-smoked duck - nice
  93. Turnip cake (law bok gau) – it’s been a while since I last made some of this
  94. Twice-cooked pork - lovely
  95. Water chestnut cake (mati gau) – nice if fried
  96. Wonton noodle soupsee my blog
  97. Wood ear - love it, use it in various recipes on my blog
  98. Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) – yum!!!!
  99. Yuanyang (half coffee, half tea, Hong Kong style) – quite like it
  100. Yunnan goat cheese probably the only one I don't know which is chinese

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Aubergine with minced pork salad


Not an authentic recipe, kind of Asian fusion that I throw together. Easy recipe. Tangy and spicy rather nice and very pretty.


For the recipe: (enough for 3 - 4)

2 large aubergines or eggplants


Stir fry meat:

About 2 tbsp of cooking oil

About 180 - 200g minced pork

3 - 4 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 tsp of fish sauce

pinch of ground pepper


dressing:

1 – 2 large red chillies chopped

1 - 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced

About 1 ½ - 2 tbsp of fish sauce, to your taste

1 – 2 tbsp of palm sugar or white sugar, to your taste

2 - 3 tbsp of warm water

Juice of 1 lime (about 2 - 3 tbsp)

about 1 tsp of zest from the lime

Large handful of Thai sweet basil and coriander, chopped

extra chilli for garnish


Some lettuce leaves like little gem or cos/ Romaine lettuce


Method:

  1. Roast/bake the aubergines at around 180deg C for about 45 minutes or till really tender and soft. Leave to cool a little then break them up into small pieces with 2 forks.
  2. In a wok or large pan, heat the oil then throw in the garlic, fry till fragrant. Add pork, stir fry till brown and loosen the meat up into bits. Add lime leaves and seasoned with fish sauce and pepper. Turn heat off and leave meat to cool a little
  3. To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients together.
  4. To assemble the dish, in a bowl mix the roasted aubergine, cooked pork mince and ¾ of the dressing and ¾ of the chopped sweet basil and coriander together. In a large serving plate, line it with some lettuce leaves. Then pile on the aubergine and pork mixture. Sprinkle on the remaining dressing on top, the remaining basil and coriander and maybe some more chilli.

* If you like a bit of crunch you can sprinkle on some roasted and chopped peanuts.

** if you don't have sweet thai basil you can use normal basil

***For vegetarian version you can substitute the pork with chopped tempeh, seitan or fried firm tofu





Sunday, 7 September 2008

Spinach with fermented bean curd sauce



A very very simple recipe. One of my favourite way to stir fry vegetable. Must use white fermented curd; with chilli and/or sesame oil or just plain. Don't buy any that looks green or gray, they are disgustingly smelly. Red bean curd is different and I only use it for braising meat. The picture above shows two different brands of white fermented bean curds with chilli and sesame oil. Also included a tiny picture of few cubes of white bean curd below.

The fermented bean curd sauce is creamy and the spinach is tender and smooth. The spinach will wilt and cook down to very little. Other than spinach I also cooked water spinach or Kangkong the same way.

For the recipe (enough for 3 - 4 with other dishes)

Ingredients:

500g spinach
3 tbsp of cooking oil
2 - 3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 large chilli, sliced
about 4 little squares (roughly 2 tbsp) of white fermented/salted bean curd (腐乳 read as fu yee in cantonese)
1 tsp of sugar
light soy sauce (optional)
1 heap tsp of cornflour mix with 2 tbsp of water

Method:
  1. Heat oil in wok, add garlic and chilli, stir fry till fragrant.
  2. Add fermented bean curds, smashed to a paste with the stirrer.
  3. Add spinach, in several batches, push wilted leaves aside and stir in unwilted ones till all wilted. Add some sugar to taste. If not salty enough add a little soy to taste.
  4. Add slackened cornflour, thickened and ready to eat.

Pork and pepper in black bean sauce

Black bean sauce is always very tasty. This recipe is very simple and common. I've done it like in the restaurant, the meat is marinated in baking soda and velveted in hot oil before stir fry to ensure the meat is very tender. Colourful and tasty simple dish.

For the recipe (enough for 3 - 4)

Ingredients:

400g pork tenderloin or pork chop, sliced
1/2 tsp of bicarb
2 tbsp of oyster sauce
1 tbsp of cornflour

1 cup of cooking oil

2 - 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small chunk of ginger, chopped
2-1/2 tbsp of fermented black beans, rinsed and chopped (use dried beans not sauce in a jar, very cheap in chinese supermarket )
3 sweet pepper (yellow, green and red), cut into chunks
1 tsp of dark soy sauce
3 - 4 tbsp cooking wine
1 tsp of sugar
3 - 4 stalks of spring onion, cut into 2 cm length

Method:

  1. Mix the pork with bicarb, oyster sauce, leave to marinate for 30 - 40 minutes. Stir in the cornflour.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok till very hot, turn the heat to maximum, throw in the meat, it will sizzle like mad, stir and loosen the meat to cook in the hot oil. Take the meat out after 1 minute. Drain using a large sieve.
  3. Remove all the oil but leave about 1 tbsp, add in the chopped garlic and chilli, stir then add the black beans, stir till fragrant.
  4. Add in the meat and the sweet pepper, turn the heat to maximum, stir then add in some cooking wine, black soy sauce and a little sugar to balance the saltiness. Stir till pepper is tender but still have a bit of crunch.
  5. Add in the spring onion stir and ready to eat.


*There isn't much sauce to the dish, if you like quite a bit of sauce, add in some water and a little cornflour to thicken, before you add in the spring onion

** Velveting this way the meat is very tender. You can reuse the remaining oil. If you don't like the idea of cooking the meat in hot oil, you can stir fried raw with the garlic, chilli and black bean till nearly cooked before adding the pepper.

*** You can also substitute pork with chicken or beef. If using chicken omit bicarb and add about 1 tbsp beaten egg white.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Ants climbing the tree


Chinese: 螞蟻上樹 (ma yee sung su)


This is a typical Sichuan dish, a cheap comfort food. The bits of minced pork resemble the ants climbing up the pile of noodles like the tree branches/twigs and maybe the spring onion bits look like the leaves? Funny Chinese imagination ;) and not very foodlike! Last thing I want to eat is a plateful of ants and tree branches. Anyway aside from the name, this dish is yummy and worth a try.

Glass noodles are essential for this dish not to be confused with rice vermicelli. Some people called them cellophane noodles or mung bean threads on some packaging. Glass noodles are made with mung bean flour. This is the best brand of glass noodles I know called 龍口粉絲 (Longkou fun se) , easier to use the little packets than a big pack. One tip: glass noodles are very tough to cut with knife before soaking, use a pair of kitchen scissors.

This dish is not eaten as a noodle dish on its own, normally with rice and other dishes.

Ingredients:

about 100g dried glass noodles/cellophane noodles/mung bean threads (about 2 small packets), a bit more or less noodles does not matter much
2 - 3 tbsp cooking oil
2 - 3 cloves garlic, chopped
about 1 tbsp of chopped ginger
about 2 tbsp chilli bean sauce/paste
about 120 - 150 g mince pork
1/2 - 1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 - 2 tsp sugar (optional)
1 stick of celery cut into very fine strips (about 1/4 cup)
1 chilli, sliced or chopped (optional)
1 - 2 tsp of chilli oil (optional)
3/4 cup chicken or pork stock or water
about 2 stalks of spring onions, sliced

More chopped spring onion or chilli for garnish if wish

Methods:
  1. Soak glass noodles in warm water till softened about 15 minutes, then drain.
  2. Heat oil in wok, add ginger and garlic, stir for about 15 seconds add chilli bean sauce stir till fragrant.
  3. Add minced pork, loosen the meat with then back of stirring spatula while in the pan, cook till brown.
  4. Add soy sauce and sugar to taste. Add chilli if using.
  5. Then add celery, stir for about 30 seconds.
  6. Add glass noodles and stock/water stir fry till piping hot for few minutes and the noodles have absorbed all the liquid.
  7. Sprinkle with a little chilli oil if wish.
  8. Dish up and garnish with more spring onions or chilli.

Note:
Can sub pork with chopped raw prawn.
For a vegetarian version, sub pork with a handful chopped shitake mushrooms.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Braised duck with plum sauce



Chinese: 酸梅鴨 (sheen moi up)

Other than Peking Duck this is probably my second favourite duck recipe. Quite an easy and non messy recipe. It is really yummy, highly recommended. This recipe works better with duck on the bone instead of boned duck breast.

Ingredients:

1 duck crown with bone or 1 whole duck or 4 pieces of duck legs
1 heap tbsp of salt
1 tbsp of dark soy
1 heap tsp of five spice powder

2 - 3 tbsp of cooking oil
2 - 3 cloves of garlic (sliced)
1 chunk of ginger about walnut size (sliced thin)
3 star anise
1 chilli, sliced
1 small piece (about 2" long) cassia bark or cinnamon stick
2 pieces of chinese dried mandarin peel 陳皮(about 2 x 50p size), rinsed
3 heap tbsp of plum sauce (from a jar either Lee Kum Kee or Amoy)
1 to 1-1/2 tbsp of light soy sauce (to your taste)
2 - 3 tbsp of chinese cooking wine
3/4 - 1 cup of water

Method:
  1. Rub salt on duck and leave for 1 - 2 hours. Then rinse off salt.
  2. Rub soy sauce and five spice all over duck, leave for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Roast the duck on a rack at 210deg C for about 20 - 30 minutes* (depending if duck pieces or whole duck is being used). Turn once during roasting. Take the duck out when golden brown, not ready to eat yet it's not cooked.
  4. In a wok or saute pan, heat the cooking oil and all the spices. Stir fry about 1 - 2 minutes till fragrant.
  5. Add cooking wine, light soy sauce, plum sauce and water. Heat the liquid till boiling.
  6. Add duck to sauce, cover and simmer gently for about 35 -40 minutes for duck pieces, and about 1 hr to 1 hr15 min for duck crown or whole duck. Turn the duck once or twice during braising. Take the duck out to cool when done.
  7. Reduce the sauce to about 1 cup or thick enough to your liking. I don't find cornflour is necessary to thicken but if you want to you can use a little cornflour.
  8. Remove the bits of spices if you want. I never bother.
  9. Cut the duck into pieces. Pour the sauce over.
*Traditional method is to deep fry the duck till the skin is golden brown. My oven method is less messy and no deep frying for anyone who hates it.
** Line the roasting tin with foil and add in about 1 cup of water. Any fat from the duck will not spit all over the oven making a mess. Also the foil lining saves scrubbing the pan. Easy peasy

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Fake Shark Fin Soup


Chinese: 碗仔翅 (Woon Zai Chi)

Anyone who had lived or visited Hong Kong, you will probably know what this is. This is little bowl of fake shark fin soup you can buy from many street hawkers and in some streetfood restaurants all over Hong Kong. The recipe is almost the same as the real McCoy and maybe more msg to pump up the flavour. It’s a cheapie bowl of hot soup so no expensive golden threads of shark fin but cheap and cheerful glass noodles as the substitute. It’s quite a yummy soup with bits of noodles like instant chicken soup with noodles, It's a cross between sweet corn soup and hot & sour soup, without the chilli heat and black vinegar is optional.

For a homemade soup I don’t add msg but real chicken or pork stock.

Recipe enough for 2 – 3

Ingredients:


80 - 90g pork or chicken (cut into matchstick size, you can also use mince or shredded cooked meat)

2 – 3 pieces of woodear 木耳, soaked and shredded very fine (about a small handful when soaked and cut)

2 – 3 pieces of shitake mushroom (about 50p size, soaked and shredded very fine), same amout as woodear

about 20 - 25g of glass or cellophane noodles (soaked and cut into short length)

1 beaten egg

About 800ml of chicken or pork stock or water

1 tsp of chicken stock powder/cube like Knorr (optional, if using water add another ½ tsp)

enough light soy sauce to taste (around 1 tbsp)

few drops of dark soy (for colour)

About 1 – 2 tbsp of black vinegar to taste (optional if you like the soup a bit tangy)

2 – 3 tbsp of cornflour mix with few tbsp of water

Pinch of pepper

1 tbsp of brandy or Chinese cooking wine (optional), I prefer the flavour of brandy more than cooking wine

About 1 – 2 tsp of sesame oil

about 2 stalks of spring onion, chopped

Method:

  1. Heat the stock or water till boiling, add pork or chicken, woodear and mushroom. Boil for few minutes till boiling.
  2. Add seasonings – stock powder or cube, light and dark soy.
  3. Add noodles and thicken the soup to a consistency you like. Boil for about 1 minute or till noodles are softened.
  4. Wait till the soup is boiling hot, drizzle in the beaten egg and stir at the same time to form egg ribbons.
  5. Add pinch of ground pepper, black vinegar and brandy to taste then add some sesame oil and some chopped spring onion (leave some to sprinkle on top of serving bowls).