Tuesday, 23 June 2009


Japchae is Korean stir fried glass noodles with vegetables with or without meat. It is very similar to Chinese stir fried noodles. Korean glass noodles 'dang myun' are much thicker than Chinese glass noodles and greyish in colour. Chinese glass noodles are made with mung beans and Korean glass noodles are made with sweet potato starch. Here is the packet I used.

Japchae is delicious, healthy, colourful and not that difficult to make.

This recipe will feed 3 - 4 people


200g Korean glass noodles (dang myun)
180 - 200g beef , sirloin or rump steak (vegetarian leave beef out)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
1 - 2 carrot, cut into fine strips
1 red or green pepper, cut into fine strips
250g spinach
2 - 4 shitake mushrooms, soaked and cut into fine strips
few pieces of woodear mushroom, soaked and cut into fine strips
2 stalks spring onion, cut into very fine strips
2 eggs, beaten (vegan can leave egg out)
few tbsp soy sauce (preferably Korean or Japanese)
some sugar
few tbsp sesame oil
a little cooking oil
enough ground pepper to taste
about 1 - 2 tbsp of sesame seeds

  1. Prepare all the vegetables and set aside.
  2. Cut the beef into strips and marinate with some sesame oil, soy sauce and a little sugar.
  3. Dry roast the sesame seeds with a small pan till light golden. Set aside
  4. Blanch the spinach for about 1 minute, drain and rinse with cold water then squeeze lightly to release excess water. Lightly seasoned with sesame oil and a little salt or soy
  5. Heat a large pan of water till boiling, boil the glass noodles for few minutes till softened. Test one before taking out. Drain and cut noodles with scissors into shorter length then mix with some soy and sesame oil.
  6. Stir fry the carrot and pepper with a little oil or sesame oil, season with few grains of salt/few drops of soy
  7. Stir fry the mushroom and woodear with a little oil or sesame oil, seasoned with a little salt/soy and a pinch of sugar.
  8. Fry the onion with a little oil till translucent then add beef and garlic, stir fry till beef is medium rare or fully cooked.
  9. In a clean pan add a little oil till hot and fry the egg into omelette. Cooled and cut into fine strips.
  10. With a large non stick pan or wok, stir fry the noodles till hot add vegetables and beef then add spring onion. Seasoned with more soy or sesame oil if needed and ground pepper to taste. (I find chopsticks are very good with mixing). If you like the japchae serving warm to cold, just mix everything together in a large bowl without stir frying.
  11. Dish up and sprinkle egg omelette and sesame seeds on top. Enjoy.

**Suitable for vegetarians: leave out meat and egg. Can add more vegetables if you like.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Nasi Lemak + sambal ikan bilis (Coconut rice with anchovy sambal)

Nasi lemak is traditional Malay normally eaten for breakfast but many also eat this any other time of the day or night. Nasi lemak is usually sold by street vendors or in pasar (market) or tamu (open air market) all ready wrapped in banana leaf, paper or in polystyrene box. It is so popular some restaurants also sell this for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner.

The word nasi lemak means rich rice. The richness comes from using coconut milk to cook the rice. The rice is usually fragrant with pandan leaf. Really delicious but not for slimmers.

Nasi lemak is usually eaten with a sambal cooked with dried anchovies (ikan bilis). This dried and salted anchovies come from S E Asia are not the same as western anchovies. Sambal can use freshly ground rempah (mixed spice paste) or sambal tumis for convenience.

Other accompaniments to go with nasi lemak include deep fried peanuts, deep fried anchovies, hard boiled egg/fried egg, cucumber and sometime a small amount of dried curry beef/chicken/prawn/squid or fried chicken.

Since I got plenty of sambal tumis made not too long ago, I will use this save the work preparing and grinding fresh spices. If you don't have sambal tumis use few shallots, garlic, soaked dried chillies, fresh chilli, shrimp paste to make a spice paste then fry with oil before continue with the recipe below.

Here is the recipe for all the bits and pieces that make up this dish. Serve 3 - 4

A. Rice
2 cups of rice
250ml of coconut milk
200 - 250ml of water (depend on type of rice, jasmine rice or basmati need less water, American long grain needs more water)
1 tsp salt
3 pandan leaves
  • Rinse rice, drain and remove excess water.
  • Tie pandan leaves into a knot and put on the bottom of a deep casserole dish or rice cooker pot. Then add rice, water, coconut milk and salt. Stir to dissolve salt.
  • Steam or cook in a rice cooker till cooked. Remove panda leaves.
  • Rice is best served warm not piping hot

B. Sambal Ikan Bilis
100g of ikan bilis (dried anchovies), best use those already deboned.
1 medium onion.
about 300g sambal tumis
1 walnut size tamarind
about 2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 - 2 tbsp cooking oil
a little salt
  • Rinse ikan bilis. Slice onion. Soak tamarind with 1/3 cup of boiling water, loosen with fingers then strain the juice.
  • Cook onion with oil, add a pinch of salt and sugar, cook till onion is soften. Add ikan bilis, stir fry for couple of minutes. Then add sambal tumis tamarind juice, sugar and tomato paste. Stir and cook till the sambal thicken and oil started to split from the edge.

C. Spicy chicken

4 pieces chicken drumstick or 12 wing drumlets
2 - 3 tbsp of sambal tumis
2 tsp of curry powder
pinch of salt
  • Marinate chicken for few hours. Then either fry or grill till nice and brown.

D. Other accompaniments

  • Deep fried some raw peanuts with skin till light golden brown. Then sprinkle with some salt.
  • Alternatively can use ready to eat roasted peanuts.

Crispy ikan bilis
  • Deep fried some ikan bilis till golden brown and crispy.


  • Half a hard boiled egg per serving. Can also use fried egg one per person

  • Sliced or cubed, as much as you like

Assemble the dish

When everything is done. Arrange around a plate or on a banana leaf whichever way you like. If you like to make rice dome, spoon rice into a rice bowl, pack it down a bit with back of spoon then immediately invert and tip it out.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Bingka ubi kayu (Cassava cake)

Fresh cassava is one of those things I missed living in England. When I was staying in the far east years ago, we always had cassava growing at the back garden. It's so easy to grow and one plant usually yields around 10kg of starchy roots. We had them steamed and eaten dipped in sugar, curry, cassava crisps/chips and my favourite cassava cake.

There are various names for cassava. In Malay it is ubi kayu meaning wood potato. In Chinese also wood potato or 'muk shu'. Other names include singkong (Indonesian), stick yam, yuca or yucca, monioc etc.... There are white flesh and yellow flesh cassava.

Last week I saw fresh cassava at a Turkish grocery store, so happy I bought some hoping to make some cassava cake. This cassava as per picture above looked perfect on the outside but unfortunately after peeling nearly 1/2 had gone bad. So disappointed, don't think I will buy fresh cassava again. I ended up buying some frozen cassava from Tesco to top up for this recipe.

Bingka ubi kayu is a traditional Malay kuih, soft and chewy and rich in coconut. I like to make it golden by adding custard powder. I think there are similar Vietnamese and Filipino style cassava cakes. Vietnamese called theirs 'banh khoai mi Nuong'. Filipino cassava cake is 'cassava bibingka'.

This recipe makes around 2.5 litres mixture

baking tin or dish : (2.5 -2.8) litres x (5 - 6)cm tall baking tray or roasting tin. I used a oblong Pyrex dish about 27 x 19 x 5cm

1200g of cassava (fresh or frozen), frozen available in Tesco and Asda
3 large eggs
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
40 - 50g butter, melted
300g sugar
45g custard powder
30g tapioca flour

extra butter for greasing the tin/dish

  1. If using fresh cassava, peel and clean the cassava. If using frozen defrost before use. Make sure to remove the wooden stem at the centre of the starchy root. Then cut the cassava into small pieces.
  2. Use a food processor, blend half of the cassava with 1 egg and half tin of coconut milk to a smooth puree. Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Then process the other half cassava with another egg and the remaining coconut milk. Adding egg and coconut milk just help the machine to run smoother. You can just grate or blend the cassava on its own.
  3. Mix in the last egg, sugar, butter, custard powder and tapioca starch.
  4. Grease the tin/dish with butter. Pour in the mixture.
  5. Bake at 165 - 170deg C for about 1 hour or till cooked through.

Can be eaten when piping hot as pudding or cut into slices when cooled. When hot it is much softer. Any leftover can keep in the fridge for few days, just reheat in the microwave for about 1 minute to refresh.

Note: if you don't want to make a big slab of cake like above, reduce qty as required. Use any tin or dish you like (except loose bottom) including individual dish like ramekin and adjust cooking time. If using Tesco frozen cassava it's 750g a pack, use 1 pack for a smaller qty and 2/3 the rest of the ingredients and use a 20cm square x 5 cm tall tin.

If you have any leftover cake batter, try making some small pancakes, it's lovely.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Khao pad bai horapa (basil fried rice with prawn)

This Thai style fried rice is similar to my previous post for Nasi Goreng Pattaya. This basil fried rice is a lot easier and very delicious. As long as you got some cooled cooked rice it takes few minutes to prepare.

Recipe for 2:

2.5 - 3 cups of cooked rice, loosely packed (2.5 for light eater)
about 18 - 20 peeled raw king prawn, medium size, raw or precooked
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large egg, beaten
2 stalk spring onion, use the lighter colour part, sliced
handful of Thai sweet basil, shredded
1 large medium hot red chilli, chopped (more or less to your taste)
2 - 3 tsp fish sauce (to your taste)
2 - 3 tsp light soy sauce (to your taste)
pinch of sugar
1 - 2 tbsp cooking oil

  1. If using raw prawn, fry the prawn in some hot oil till turning pinkish white. Take them out.
  2. Then fry the garlic then add rice stir till hot, sprinkle on fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar to taste.
  3. Push the rice to one side then add the egg stir to scramble then stir with rice. Add in the prawn and stir.
  4. Add in the chilli and spring onion and finally add in the basil, heat off. Ready to eat.

Rice better use overnight.
Can sub prawns with left over roast chicken, pork or beef

Suitable for vegetarian.
For vegetarian version, use tofu cubes, fried or marinated or button mushrooms. For vegan leave out the egg

Friday, 12 June 2009

Braised duck with beancurd stick and shitake (腐竹香菇燜鴨)

Braised duck is one of my favourite dishes, there are so many different ways of braising including plum sauce duck . Here is to introduce a very common Cantonese style braised duck with beancurd stick (腐竹fu chook) and Shitake mushrooms.

I love beancurd sticks but there is no set standard with manufacturers, some beancurd sticks will soften very quickly after boiling or braising for a short while, other will remain chewy and rubbery even after cooking for a long time. For this recipe I preferred to fry the beancurd sticks first before braising, one is to avoid the chewy texture if it does not soften fairy quickly other main reason is deep frying the beancurd sticks give them a very nice nutty flavour, the texture is very nice too, a bit chewy but not unpleasant.

Here is the difference between deep/shallow fried and plain beancurd sticks.

Here is the recipe. This will feed 4 -5 with other dishes.


1 whole duck or large duck crown or few duck legs (about 1.3 - 1.5kg)
1 x 200g pack of dried bean curd sticks 腐竹
60 -70g Shitake or Chinese black mushrooms
1.5 - 2 tbsp red fermented beancurd (南乳 nam yue) - about 3 small squares or 1.25 large square depending on brand
1.5 tbsp of the red pickling juice from the red fermented beancurd
2 tbsp of chopped garlic (about 5 - 6 cloves)
3 shallots (about 1 inch wide)
1 chuck of ginger (about thumb size)
3 tsp five spice powder
1/4 tsp ground pepper
3 star anise
2 tsp of sugar
1.5 tbsp of dark soy sauce
1 tbsp of light soy sauce
1/4 cup of Shoashing or Chinese cooking wine
1 - 2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 heap tbsp of cornflour with 2 tbsp water
Cooking oil

  1. First cut the duck into large chunks (they will shrink a lot so don't cut too small) with a cleaver or meat scissors. Then marinate the duck with dark soy sauce and half of the five spice powder, leave aside for 30 min - 1 hour.
  2. Soak the mushrooms, clean and cut into thick slices. You can reserve the soaking water for braising.
  3. Break the beancurd sticks via the u bent. Then cut each stick into half again with scissors (scissors makes a cleaner cut then breaking with hand). Heat the wok with 1 cup of oil till quite hot, put in 2 - 3 pieces of the dried beancurd sticks, the sticks will blister immediately in contact with the hot oil, turning them around and fry till golden brown around 10 - 15 seconds. Take them out to drain. When finished frying the whole batch, soak the lot with boiling water till softened then washed and squeezed lightly several times with warm water to release excess oil. Then cut them into 3 (about 5 cm long)
  4. Chop the garlic and shallots. Cut ginger into slices.
  5. Get ready the red fermented bean curd. See all the prepared ingredients below.
  6. Remove the frying oil. Clean the wok.
  7. Heat the wok till hot, without any oil. Then lay the duck pieces skin side down and fry them till most of the fat is released and duck pieces turned brown, turn over and fry for another minute or two. Take them all out. Remove most of the duck fat except for around 2 tbsp. Scrape off any burnt sticky bits. (keep the marinate)
  8. Add in the ginger, garlic, shallots and star anise, stir fry till fragrant. Add in the red fermented bean curd with its juice, mash the beancurd with back of the wooden spoon or any cooking utensil. Stir frying for a minute of two, add in remaining five spice powder, the meat marinate, ground pepper, cooking wine, sugar and light soy. Stir then add in 2 cups of water or mushroom soaking water. Let the mixture come to the boil.
  9. Add in the duck pieces and mushrooms. Stir and let the liquid boil again. Then remove most of the scum floating on top. Heat down to low, cover and let it simmer for about 15 minutes then add in fried and soaked beancurd sticks. Continue simmering for about half hour or till the duck pieces are tender.
  10. Add in enough oyster sauce to taste. Heat up high and add in the slacken cornflour, stirring and reducing the sauce to the consistency you like.

Here is the result. Great with rice and some stir fried vegetables.

**With the same recipe, the duck can sub with pork belly, pork hock, pork trotter or spare ribs. Ask the butcher to cut the pork hock/trotter/spare ribs into smaller pieces for you. Meat with bones same weight around 1.3 - 1.5 kg, meat without bones around 900g - 1 kg. Use a bit of cooking oil to brown the meat if not fatty.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Shanghainese rice cake with fish fragrant sauce (魚香年糕)

Bought a packet of Shanghainese rice cake (年糕) the other day, an ingredient I don't normally buy.

Shanghainese rice cake is made with ground rice and water only. It is eaten like rice noodles, with soup or stir fried with meat and/or vegetables. This is eaten by Shanghainese especially on Chinese New Year and throughout the year too. This cake is available in most Chinese supermarket pre-cut like the picture above or in bigger chunks like this or dried like this which needs soaking and boiling, IMO too much work.

Korean also have very similar rice cake called Ddeokbbokki but they are usually thinner like finger size. These are cooked with a soupy stew or stir fried with Korean chilli paste Gochujang like this.

Based on this Korean idea I thought of cooking this rice cake with fish fragrant sauce, kind of Shanghainese/Sichuan fusion. It worked. It was tasty eaten with plenty of plain stir fried Chinese cabbage (nappa cabbage) without any salt or soy sauce added because the fish fragrant sauce was salty enough.

For the recipe, enough for 2 - 3 people


400 -500g Shanghainese rice cake (pre-cut or in rod shape cut them yourself into thin slices)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp of cooking oil
150g minced pork
about 2 tbsp of chilli bean sauce
a little dark soy sauce
dash of Shoashing or cooking wine
about 1 cup or a bit more non salted stock or water
dash of Chinkiang or black rice vinegar
a little sugar to taste
about 1/2 tsp ground Sichuan pepper
dash of sesame oil or 1 - 2 tsp of chilli oil (sesame oil for the fragrance, chilli oil to pump up the spiciness of the dish)
2 - 3 stalks spring onion, chopped

  1. If using pre-cut rice cake, wet the cake with water and split the pieces apart. There is usually cling film dividing the pieces to prevent sticking. If using the larger piece rice cake cut into thin slices.
  2. Heat cooking oil in wok, add garlic and stir fry till fragrant. Add pork and stir fry till pork turned grey, add chilli bean sauce and stir till fragrant. Add dash of dark soy (not too much chilli bean sauce can be salty).
  3. Add enough stock/water to cover the rice cake and let the rice cake stew for few minutes till softened. Add enough vinegar to taste. Add enough sugar to taste to balance the saltiness. The sauce will be absorbed by the rice cake and thicken at the same time. When the cake is softened enough it is ready, take a piece and try it before turning the heat off. If you think more cooking is required you may need more water/stock. I like the rice cake a bit al dente, with a bit of chewiness. Don't cook till the sauce is very thick, the rice cake will continue to absorb the sauce after cooking.
  4. Stir in sesame oil, ground Sichuan pepper and 3/4 of the spring onion. Dish up and sprinkle on the remaining spring onion.
  5. Eat with plenty of steamed or stir fried chinese green or Chinese leaves/cabbage, without any salt or soy sauce added.

Salted eggs

I love salted eggs. They are dirt cheap in the Far East but quite expensive over here in England cost around £2 - 3 for a box of six.

Those salted eggs imported from China (not seen in England) usually has a thick black ash coating to preserve and protect the egg. Over here in England salted eggs look just like a box of normal duck eggs in an egg box.

It is dead easy to make your own. Simple ingredients just sea salt (best use unrefined and no preservative), eggs (duck or chicken), a little rice wine or cooking wine and water.

For the preserving liquid, every 1 litre of water adds 200g of salt. Boil this and stir till all the salt has dissolved. Leave to cool completely. Add 2 - 3 tbsp of Chinese rice/shaoshing wine.

If the eggs are mucky, clean and wipe dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. Make sure the eggs are not dented or showing crack line.

Take a squeaky clean container or glass jar (I normally use a lock n lock box). Fill the box with eggs to the top, quite tightly together but not squashing the eggs till they break. Fill the box/jar with the salted liquid right up to the top. If the eggs float on top of the liquid, use something like a saucer plate or mesh to anchor the eggs down so they are all fully immersed into the liquid.

Cover and leave in a cool dark place for 4 weeks, then ready to eat. These preserved eggs will keep for few months immersed in the salted liquid.

The preserved yolk when matured will solidify into a golden - orangey ball while the white will look exactly like a normal raw egg white but salty. Colour of the yolk depends on the original yolk pigment. Normally salted eggs are made with duck eggs, chicken eggs are also suitable and cheaper but the yolk will be much smaller.

Salted eggs can be boiled and eaten with rice or rice congee.

Or use it raw and mix with omelette, steamed meat cake etc.....

Or use the egg yolks for making mooncakes or zhongzi

Ondeh ondeh

It has been years since I last had/made these soft chewy greenish balls bursting with a molten syrup filling.

Ondeh ondeh is a Malay kuih (cake) the dough's texture is similar to Chinese/Japanese mochi cake, the filling is a dark palm sugar (gula melaka) once boiled turned to a syrup. The coating is freshly grated coconut, dessicated just will not do it's too dry.

In Indonesia these same sweet balls have a different name called klepon.

These luscious cute yummy sweet balls are one of those snacks once you start you can't stop eating. Only good eaten on the day made, at room temperature only. Once you put in the fridge the soft pastry will turn hard so is the sugary syrup. If you really want to keep in fridge for the next day or two if any leftover, you will need to steam them till just softened. If you microwave these babies they will burst very quickly.

Here is the recipe how to make them. This recipe will make around 50 - 55 balls, size is about 1 inch wide.


A. Pastry
400 - 425g any white flesh sweet potato* (I used bushbok sweet potato,with red skin, from Tesco usually found at the Asian herbs/vegi section)
about 250g or a bit more glutinous rice flour
50g tapioca flour
10 - 12 pandan leaves + 150ml water
2 tbsp sugar

Note: * you can also use the normal orange flesh sweet potato but once you add the green pandan juice the dough colour will not look good. If you do use orange flesh sweet potato I suggest you omit the pandan juice just add water, the dough will not have the fragrance of pandan.

B. Filling
about 350 - 400g gula melaka (Malaysian palm/coconut sugar) or gula jawa (Indonesian palm sugar). Both of these sugars are dark brown and usually in cylindrical blocks. Best use gula melaka more flavourful. If you cannot find gula melaka or gula jawa, can use standard palm sugar/jaggery may not have the caramelised flavour of gula melaka.

plus a little water for mixing

Note: I have been thinking this morning if you don't like a sugary sweet syrup, maybe you can sub with a chilled and hardened chocolate ganache. Will not be authentic but tasty I am sure.

C. Coating
1 whole coconut, freshly grated (see this post how to process and grate coconut)

  1. Prepare and grate the coconut, keep in fridge till ready to use.
  2. Wash and cut the pandan leaf into small pieces then blend with 150ml water to a pulp. Then squeeze out as much water as you can then strain. Measure 150ml, set aside.
  3. Boil or steam the sweet potato with its skin on till cooked. Peel and mash while still hot to a very smooth puree. Mixed with the pandan juice and sugar to a wet puree.
  4. Add tapioca flour to the mix then add glutinous rice flour bit by bit till you get a non sticky stiff dough see slide show. Set aside.
  5. Grate the gula melaka/gula jawa, then sprinkle with a bit of water about 1 tbsp so the sugar is damp then squeeze and form into small pieces about 1 cm. Preformed sugar lumps is a lot easier to wrap then spooning loose sugar onto the dough.
  6. Divide the green dough into pieces.
  7. Roll the dough into a ball with palms, spread it out into a disc and wrap with piece of sugar. Once wrapped rolled between palms to form a smooth ball. Keep going till you have made all the balls.
  8. Boil a pan of water. Drop the balls into the boiling water. Gently stir and lift the balls several times during boiling. Keep watch for several minutes till the balls float onto the surface. Continue boiling for another minute.
  9. Take the balls out using a slotted spoon or small sieve. Shake off excess water.
  10. Drop the balls onto a pile of fresh grate coconut, coat and ready to eat right away.