Saturday, 19 September 2009

Cucumber kimchi

I was given a bag of homegrown cucumbers. They were not the tender and juicy ones like those from the supermarket. They were similar to this , a bit tough for salad and taken far too much space in the fridge.

Had thought of making Malay acar (achar) but I still have few jars made a while ago. I wanted something quick and easy. Thought of making stuffed kimchi (oisobagi kimchi) but these cucumbers some had overgrown, far too thick with grown seeds and the skin was a bit tough. Not going to waste this bag of cucumbers, I peeled half the skin off (zebra stripes), quartered lengthwise, trimmed off the soft core and cut into chunks. There was about 2.3kg after peeling,trimming and cutting.

I did not salt the cucumber. (For standard juicy English hothouse cucumber it is essential to salt to release some of the juice, rinse after salting.)

For the kimchi mix:
1/2 cup fish sauce (I used Thai, Korean is more authentic if you can find some)
4 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp Korean coarse chilli powder
2 solo garlic or 4 -5 cloves common garlic, thinly sliced
about 40g of ginger, grated
3 stalks spring onion, cut into 2 - 3 cm long
1 rounded tbsp korean salted shrimps (optional), available from Korean grocer
1 tbsp sesame oil

Then I just mixed the cucumber pieces with the pickling ingredients, leave at room temperature overnight then packed into containers before putting in the fridge. Best eaten after 2 days. Will keep for weeks.

This kimchi may not be authentic but it's so simple and quite tasty cold with rice, congee or mixed with fresh lettuce and grated carrot as salad. I am quite addicted to it I even munch on its own like snack.

Not a bad job for few tubs of pickle which took less than 15minutes to prep and free (almost, other than the pickling ingredients)

Friday, 18 September 2009

Pumpkin rice 南瓜飯

Bought a large pumpkin from the market, I already had pumpkin congee few days ago. This evening I had pumpkin rice which was rather nice. There is still half the pumpkin sitting in the fridge will have to think of something else soon.

For this pumpkin rice, I followed similar method for Cantonese 'yau mei fun' 有味飯 meaning flavoured rice. Here is how to make this.

Recipe enough for 3 - 4 people

300g American long grain or Basmati rice (Jasmine/Thai fragrant rice is too soft for this recipe)

about 275g skinned and boned chicken breast or thigh (can also use lean pork), cut into small pieces
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp cornflour
pinch of ground pepper
dash of sesame oil
about 1/2 tsp sugar

350g peeled and seeded pumpkin or butternut squash, cut into approx 1.5cm cubes
3 Chinese sausage (lap cheong), sliced
2 tbsp dried shrimp, rinsed
1 - 2 shallot about 25g, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
some cooking oil

600ml chicken stock or water
light soy to taste
a little ground pepper
dash of sesame oil

Some chopped spring onion and chillies for garnish

  1. First rinse the rice then drain with sieve, shake to remove excess water. Leave rice to sit for about 20 minutes by which time all the surface moisture will be absorbed.
  2. Mix chicken with the marinade and leave for about 15min.
  3. Heat about 1 tbsp of oil. Fry half the shallot and garlic, stir for a bit then add in Chinese sausage and dried shrimps, stir for a while then add in the pumpkin pieces, stir fry for about 2 minutes. Push pumpkin mixture to one side, add a little bit more oil and stir fry the chicken till turning colour. Mix everything together stir then take everything out to one side.
  4. Now take a clean large saute pan with a lid. Heat about 1 tbsp of oil and fry the remaining shallot and garlic till fragrant, then add in the rice and stir fry for about 2 - 3 minutes till fragrant. {Add stock or water, pinch of pepper and some light soy. Lid on and heat till liquid boiling and add pumpkin mixture onto the rice without stirring.} Remove the pan from the heat and put a heat diffuser on the cooking ring then put the pan back on with the lowest heat, lid on and {simmer/cook for about 15 -20 minutes, give it a stir (if the rice is a bit dry add a bit more water) then lid back on and continue simmer for another 15 - 20 minutes till rice is cooked through.}
  5. Add a bit more light soy to taste and dash of sesame oil. Mix the rice thoroughly. Dish up and sprinkle with spring onion and chilli. Can leave chilli out if you don't like spicy.

If you have a rice cooker you can add the fried rice into the rice cooker and continue with {}in step 4, follow by step 5.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Dry roasted cashew nuts

Ever wonder how to dry roast cashews with a wok and tastes exactly like what you get in a tin or packet ready roasted from the store? The secret ingredient is salt. Yes salt and lots of it too. I learnt this from my mum many years ago and now passing this recipe to anyone who is interested. This method of dry roasting is far better than any oven roasting or deep frying. Before mum knew how to use salt, preparing cashew involved blanching the nuts first, drying then deep frying and the result IMO wasn't that brilliant for all that work.

Why salt? Salt is a very good heat transfer medium and evenly roasting the nuts to perfection while slightly salting them too. I promised the nuts roasted this way will not be too salty. The most important thing to remember is not to wash or dampen them before dry roasting or they will be encrusted with salt leading you cursing at me for inedible nuts.

Now what salt and how much is needed? The salt has to be free flowing cheap cooking salt, not fancy salt, rock salt or unrefined sea salt. For around 500g of raw cashews you need about 700 - 750g of salt.

Now how to do it. It's simple really all you need is tip the salt into a wok or large saute pan (must be spotlessly clean and no grease), heat and stir at medium heat for about 2 minutes then turn the heat down to medium low then tip in the nuts. Keep stirring and the salt will become very hot. The nuts will be perfectly browned (medium brown) in about 15 - 18 minutes. Then tip the lot into a colander with bowl underneath like picture below. Shake or stir with a large spoon, every single loose grain of salt will be removed.

*This salt can be re-used again and again till it becomes too dirty or smell rancid (from the residue nut bits) if kept for too long.

That's it, job done. Leave the nuts to cool then time to enjoy munching and maybe with a beer or two. Mmm.... yum. Guess what am I munching now.......

** If you fancy flavoured nuts you can add chopped rosemary or some five spice powder to the salt. The salt may not be that great for reuse, but hey salt is dirt cheap anyway.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Chinese spätzle soup ‘gedatang’ 疙瘩湯

Gedatang 疙瘩湯 is a Northern Chinese (like Beijingnese) speciality. Many eaten this for breakfast or comfort noodle type soup.

疙瘩 ‘ge da’ has various meanings in Chinese like a knot on a rope or some skin problems like warts, lumps or pimples. I have no idea why this soup has such ugly name, maybe due the the tiny nobbly shape of the dumplings.

Gedatang is like a mini dumpling/pasta soup, I guess similar to German Spatzles. The soup base can be anything you fancy; vegetarian, meat and veg and seafood etc…

Most common gedatang is with egg and tomato. In Chinese this is called 西紅柿雞蛋疙瘩湯 ‘xi hong shi ji tan ge da tang’. It’s kind of like tomato and egg drop soup but more substantial, similar to rice soup.

Here is recipe.

西紅柿雞蛋疙瘩湯 Tomato and egg gedatang

For 2 large bowl of soup, this is what you need.

about 250g ripe tomato, skinned if you preferred then cut into bitesize.
2 eggs, beaten
some cooking oil
650ml stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 heap tbsp each of chopped spring onion and coriander(cilantro)
few drops of sesame oil
ground pepper to taste
salt or light soy to taste

For the 'geda' dumplings/ spatzels
100g plain flour
few tbsp water


First make the geda dumplings. Put flour in a mixing bowl, using a spoon drizzle water bit by bit into the flour while stirring with a pair of chopstick. Keep mixing and stirring till the flour turns into tiny bits of dough, loosen and not clumped together and there is no dried flour left. If the dough does clump together, don't panic, sprinkle on a bit more flour and snip the dough up into tiny pieces with scissors. The mixture will end up like this picture below, these geda dumplings are around or smaller than pea size.

Close up look of these geda dumplings

Heat around 1 tbsp of oil till very hot then pour in the beaten egg and keep scrambling till the egg is set and slightly brown. Take the scrambled egg out and add more oil and stir fry the tomato till a bit mushy. Add stock and seasonings to taste, then add in the eggs. When the liquid is rapidly boiling, add in the tiny bits of dumplings. Let this cook at high heat for about 60 - 90 sec and turn the heat off. Do not cook the dumplings for too long or they will swell too much and making the soup too gloppy. Add in the spring onion, coriander and sesame oil. Ready to serve.