Saturday, 26 June 2010

Dou fu fa (beancurd jelly) - traditional recipe 豆腐花

Dou fu fa (or just 'dou fa') = doh fu hua (or just 'doh hua') = tofu fa = doh now = beancurd jelly = soy milk curd

In Chinese this dessert is called 豆腐花 or 豆花, read as 'dou fu fa' in Cantonese and 'doh fu hua' in Mandarin, translated as tofu flower. There is another name for this dessert called 豆腦 'doh now' in Mandarin, translated as 'soy brain' because it is as soft as brain and look/texture similar to brain.

This soy milk curd is similar to the one used to press solid tofu.

This recipe posted today is the traditional method using gypsum or plaster of paris or calcium sulphate to set the soy milk. There is one minor difference between this recipe and the one for pressing tofu, i.e. tofu fa also has cornflour (cornstarch) to help set the curd and making it less likely to bleed with water.

The extraction of soy milk and boiling the milk is exactly the same as making soy milk.

I love dou fu fa, it so soft and silky. Similar to a set yogurt without any sour taste. Love it anyday anytime. There are many ways to eat this soft curd sweet or savoury. Will give you some examples later.

Here is the recipe how to make this traditional Chinese dessert. On the picture above, the yellowish bits are the ginger boiled in syrup.

For the soy milk
225g (8 oz) dried soy beans
1800 - 1900ml (1.8 - 1.9 litre) water

See this thread how to extract the milk and boil the milk.

You may be able to use shop bought unsweetened soy milk, not sure with concentration though and also bought soy milk may contain preservatives which may affect the setting. You can try if you like but I won't guarantee the result. Boil the milk.

Turning the soy milk to curd prepare this:
1.5 tsp level spoon (4.5g) of gypsum powder* 石膏粉
2.5 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1/3 cup water (room temp. water)

* do get the gypsum from Chinese grocery store, do not use the plaster of paris from the DIY store. Try to measure the gypsum accurately, too much can make the curd texture coarse, to little the curd will not set adequately.

Mix water with gypsum and cornflour.

Once the milk is boiling with lots of bubbles, then gently simmer for another 5 minutes. Turn the heat off. Use a small clean sieve and dip into the milk, moving it about to remove any solids in the liquid and bubbles floating on the surface. Remove sieve and have a slotted spoon ready. Just before ready to pour the gypsum mixture into the milk, stir it vigorously again this is because gypsum can settle onto the bottom of the cup very quickly. Stir the hot milk with the slotted spoon while pouring the gypsum mixture from a height of about few inches from the liquid surface. When all in, give the milk a very quick stir again for about 1 - 2 seconds. Cover with the lid and leave it to rest without disturbing. The milk should set in about few minutes. Leave it for about 15 minutes before serving. Will stay hot for about 1 hour. Using a ladle and scoop large lumps of this curd onto serving bowls. Small lumps can lead to curd bleeding with water.

Can serve hot, warm or cold. The longer you keep this curd the more solid and rougher the texture will become, i.e. more water separated from the curd.

Here is a pot of dou fu fa.

There are many many ways to serve with this dou fu fa:

  • Most common is with a gingery syrup. Boil 1-1/4 cup of sugar with 1/3 cup water and about 40 -50 g very thinly sliced peeled ginger. When the syrup is rapidly boiling, continue boiling for another 2 - 3 minutes, heat off and leave to cool. Spoon on as much syrup as you like.
  • Another S E Asian flavoured syrup is boiling the same syrup as above, replacing ginger with few pandan leaves.
  • Add some fresh soy milk to curd then add syrup (ginger or pandan)
  • Boil some soaked aduki beans till very soft with water, sweetened. Spoon cooked beans on the dou fu fa.
  • Boil some skinned raw peanuts with water till softened then sweetened with sugar. Spoon this cooked peanuts on the dou fu fa.
  • Sprinkle on Chinese red sugar on the dou fu fa.
  • Spoon on some osmanthus flower syrup 桂花醬 on the dou fu fa.
  • Make some sweetened black sesame thick soup 芝麻糊. Dry roast black sesame seeds, blend till very fine, add water or milk and cornflour/ground rice. Cook till thickened then sweetened with sugar. Then spoon on some this black sesame soup onto the dou fu fa.

  • Sprinkle on soy sauce and some fried garlic and shallot in oil and ground pepper.
  • Spicy Sichuan style called red oil doh hua 紅油豆花. Sprinkle on some Sichuan spicy dressing; made with chilli oil, Sichuan pepper oil, ground Sichuan pepper, soy sauce, black vinegar, pinch of sugar, roasted sesame seeds and spring onion.

Soy milk 豆漿

It's dreadfully warm over here today. In this warm weather soy milk is a very good beverage. Soy beans are a ying or cool food. Drinking soy milk especially cold can sooth the throat and body in this warm heat.

Chinese drink soya milk hot, warm and cold, sweetened, with salt or plain. Chinese soy milk is usually slightly thinner than some of the local western supermarket brands soy milk in a cartoon. Years ago I used to like soy milk sweetened now I make and drink it without sugar. I never put soy milk in tea or coffee find it odd tasting, don't mind having it with cereal or make chocolate milk.

I seldom buy ready made soy milk. DIY soy milk is quite easy. There are soy milk machines you can buy now that extracts and boils the milk for you, all you have to do is add soaked beans and water then comes ready to drink soy milk. These machines are not cheap though. I still use the same old method my mum taught me with a liquidiser and a strainer.

Liquidiser better buys one with large jar size and decent power because the more powerful the machine the finer and quicker it pulverises the beans and giving more/thicker milk. I bought this Philips liquidiser last year, it's was at half price and I find it very good and powerful.

Best strainer is a muslin/thin cotton bag. I made my own with muslin I bought from the market, just sewn a piece of muslin together to form a bag. Usual size I normally made is about 30cm X 24cm. Below is a picture of this bag. Muslin bag can strain the milk without any pulp at all. If you use a sieve, it is difficult and fiddly to extract maximum milk and there will always be bits of pulp grits in the milk making it tastes gritty. If there is any pulp in the milk, it is likely to stick to the bottom of the pot too during boiling.

Here is the recipe how I make soy milk at home.

225g (8 oz) dried soy beans
water 1.8 - 2.25 litres (less water more concentrated milk, I normally use about 2 litres)

liquidiser, one muslin bag, 1 large sieve/colander, 1 large cup/ladle for scooping or pouring, 1 very large jug or plastic container to hold water and another similar size container or pot to hold the pulverised bean slurry, one 2.5 - 3 litres stock pot, 1 or 2 cloth pegs

  1. Rub and clean the beans with water. Rinse then soak with plenty of water for 8 - 10 hours (overnight) till plump. Rinse again, drain on a sieve/colander and set aside
  2. Measure the water and set aside.
  3. Rinse the muslin bag and wring dry.
  4. Fill the liquidiser to about 1/4 full with beans then top up with water to about 2/3 full. Never fill more than 3/4 full or the milk will spill. Turn the machine on to maximum and let it pulverises the beans for about 1 full minute till the beans turned to a thick milky slurry with very fine pulpy grits.
  5. Pour the slurry into a large pot or container. Repeat step 4 till all the beans are pulverised. Any left over water add to the bean slurry. Stir.
  6. Put the stock pot in the sink. Muslin bag in the pot. Peg the edge of the muslin bag onto the side of the stock pot, with one hand stretching it wide open, then pour/ladle the liquidised soy slurry into the bag to about 2/3 full. Hold the bag tight and remove peg. Twist the top end and squeeze the bag to release the milk and wring till the pulp is as dry as possible. Remove pulp (throw it away or add to cooking if you wish). Continue straining the bean slurry with the bag to extract all the milk.
  7. Clean the bag thoroughly inside out. Strain the milk again through the muslin bag to remove any last trace of gritty bean pulp.
  8. Pour milk into a clean stock pot (best use aluminium, take less time to boil). There may be a lot a bubbles on top, don't worry about them. Boil at medium heat, cover with lid for the 1st 10 -1 2 minutes, then stir with a slotted spoon and scrape the bottom of pot. Continue boiling, with or without the lid, do not leave the kitchen. Stir and scrape the pot bottom every few minutes till milk beginning to boil. Watch the pot of milk like a hawk, if not you may end up with milk boiling all over, making such as mess minus 1/2 pot of milk left! After it starts to boil with lots of bubbles, turn heat down to minimum and continue boiling and stirring for another 5 minutes. Then milk is ready, heat off, lid on and let it cool. You can use a fine small sieve to remove any solids in the milk, just dip the sieve into the pot of milk and move it around to remove any solids.
  9. Pour into bottles or container and store in fridge, use within 4 - 5 days.

Stirring and scraping the pot bottom during boiling is very important. This is because:
  • Without stirring and scrapping, milk sold will start to build up and stick to the bottom of the pot. Milk solid is a pain to clean. Also if your do not scrape any build up on the pot bottom this will get thicker and likely to burn which will give a nasty burn taste to the milk.
  • Stirring the milk is important to ensure milk skin does not form on the surface. Milk skin is stringy and not very pleasant.
  • Stirring also helps to break down the bubbles collected during milk extraction and boiling.

For more details in pictures how to extract milk see slideshow on this thread how to make tofu, same principle.

  1. Serve milk hot, warm or cold to your liking.
  2. Plain, sweetened with sugar or for a savoury taste add a touch of salt (salty soy milk is usually for hot milk)
  3. To add flavouring to the soy milk, can add some ginger juice or boil the milk with 4 - 5 pandan leaves tight to a knot.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Best summer healing food mung beans - Mung bean sweet soup with kelp 海帶綠豆沙

Chinese believe heat in the body can cause all sorts of health problems. This heat is caused by very warm weather and/or eating too much heaty food like fried food, durian etc. This heat in the body called 熱氣 read as 're chi' translated as 'heat gas', can cause heat rash, sore throat, mouth ulcers, heat headaches etc.... To cure/relieve this heat in Chinese referred as '清熱解毒 chin re jae duk' translated as 'relieve heat clear poison', there are many Chinese herbs and food that can use as a cure or prevention.

Mung beans are one of the best food to cure/prevent heat in the body, eaten as beansprouts or use the dried beans in cooking. Mung beans are 'ying' or 'cool' food. These tiny green beans are probably the cheapest and best medicine for summer/warm weather heat problems or if someone has eaten too much fried food or bad hangover.

Whenever the weather getting very warm and uncomfortable, my mum always made us eat a lot of beansprouts and use the dried beans to boil soup, savoury or sweet.

A popular sweet dessert soup most Chinese recognised is 綠豆沙 'read dou sa' sweetened mung bean soup.

There are various recipes, easiest is boil mung beans with plenty of water till very soft and sweeten with sugar, eaten hot, warm or cold.

One recipe I like very much is mung bean soup with kelp and common rue 臭草海帶綠豆沙. Chinese use common rue as a eaten herb which has a distinctive flavour, because it smells so strong we called it smelly grass 臭草. I bought some seeds to grow rue last year but they never come out. If anyone has a live plant to share in UK, please let me know love to grow some for this soup I so longed for.

Without rue, I have to find alternative. This recipe I am sharing with you today is just sweet soup with mung beans, kelp (kombu) and flavoured with some dried tangerine peel to give a different but nice citrusy flavour.

The kelp or kombu used is either Chinese, Japanese or Korean. The texture is similar to woodear 木耳. Some kelp or kombu can be green some brown to black. Use any you can find or have in the cupboard. Green kelp is softer or more gelatinous.

Mung beans and kelp sweet dessert soup 海帶綠豆沙


1 cup mung beans
1/3 cup glutinous rice (to thicken the soup and makes it smooth)
about 10 - 12g dried kelp or kombu (kelp is good combo with mung beans, helps to reduce blood pressure)
about 2 pcs (1 inch square) dried tangerine peel (gives a nice flavour)
few lumps of rock sugar to taste if not normal sugar (rock sugar is better)

  1. Beans can be soaked or not soaked. Glutinous rice just rinsed. Kombu soaked till soften then shredded with scissors/knife to very fine shreds. Tangerine peel soaked till soften then shredded very fine. Put everything in stock pot add about 10 - 11 cups of water and boil. When water is boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 1.5 to 2 hours till everything is very soft and tender. Stir the soup, every 20 - 30 minutes (scrape the pot bottom) during cooking to prevent sticking.
  2. Add few lumps of rock sugar to taste, add 1- 2 lumps at a time till dissolves, taste and add more if required.
  3. Serve hot, warm or cold as a dessert soup. Great eaten with Chinese crueller/Chinese fried bread sticks (you tiao 油條), not just a counterbalanced combo but also good flavour combination, good combo for breakfast too.


I always have some of this soup hot. Any left over leave in the fridge and eaten cold in the next few days.

If you don't like sweet soup you can flavoured with some salt, or boil the soup with chicken or pork bones for a more savoury flavour.

If you like to speed up the cooking time, can add 1 tsp bicarb with the water.

Sago pearls can replace glutinous rice, soaked and add in at the last 10 - 15 minute, cook till pearls all turned translucent.

If you have fresh common rue and like its flavour, add a small handful leaves and stems together. Add in about last 30 minutes, remove after cooking.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Prawn omelette 蝦仁煎蛋

Prawn omelette is always a favourite with everyone in the family. Simple, easy and delicious. Can make this about 10 minutes from prep to dining table if you have peeled prawns all ready for you fresh or frozen. I normally buy smaller peeled raw prawns for this, unless peeled king prawns are on offer. Not bad with frozen cooked prawns too if you don't have raw prawns.

Using different herbs will give you totally different flavour, all delicious.


200 - 250g peeled prawns (shrimps), fresh or frozen or can use frozen peeled cooked prawns
4 eggs beaten
1 small/medium onion
small handful of chopped spring onion (scallion), coriander or Thai sweet basil
pinch of salt
a little light soy
pinch of ground pepper
some cooking oil

  1. If using frozen prawn, soak in warm/colds water till soften. Squeeze the prawns to remove any excess water. If the prawns are large cut into smaller pieces. Season prawns with a little light soy and ground pepper
  2. Cut onion into thin slices. Chopped spring onion.
  3. Fry onion with a little oil till soften. Add prawn and stir fry briefly till prawn turned pink. Remove and add to beaten eggs. If using peeled cooked prawns, leave out the stir frying. Add direct to beaten eggs, once defrosted.
  4. Add spring onion or other herbs to the mixture. Add some salt and/light soy sauce and some ground pepper to taste. Stir.
  5. Using a clean frying pan or wok, add a little oil. Heat till almost smoking. Add in one ladle full at a time, spread it out and fry till golden underneath, flip over the whole piece, or flip half to form a half moon shape. Fry both sides till golden and egg mixture is not runny inside.

Simple steamed aubergine 蒸茄子

Whenever aubergine is on offer I just got to buy a few. I got a large aubergine (eggplant) to use up, but I just can't be bothered to fry or braise like I normally do, the weather is so warm to stand in front of the cooker. Opting for the easy way, I steam it and cover it with a simple sauce. Nice and simple, the aubergine is soft and slippery. One extra I added which adds lots of flavour is fried garlic and shallot in oil, left over from making the peanut and pork zhongzi, the garlic and shallot bits were crunchy and really tasty.

Here is the recipe:


1 large aubergine
2 tsp oil

2 - 2.5 tbsp regular oyster sauce or vegetarian oyster sauce
2 - 3 tsp favourite chilli sauce
0.5 tsp cornflour (cornstarch) mixed with 1/3 cup water
a little chopped spring onion for garnish
about 1 tbsp crispy fried garlic and shallot in oil

  1. Cut the aubergine into 5 - 6cm long and 2 - 3 cm thick. Rub some oil onto the aubergine.
  2. Pile the aubergine onto a plate or steamer and steamed till soft and tender.
  3. Remove as much juice as you can see. Using a fork or spoon lightly mash the aubergine so it can absorb the sauce better.
  4. Mix oyster sauce, chilli sauce and slackened cornflour. Heat this sauce till thickened. Pour sauce over the cooked aubergine. Drizzle with crunchy garlic and shallot in oil. Then sprinkle on some chopped spring onion.

To make the crunchy garlic and shallot in oil. Chopped 2 - 3 large cloves of garlic and 1 -2 shallots. Heat few tbsp of oil in a pan till hot, add garlic and shallot, fry at medium low heat till golden and not burnt. If the garlic and shallot is getting a bit too brown too quickly, heat off and add in some cold oil. This crunchy bit fragrant oil can keep for about a week still fresh and crunchy.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Five spice, peanut and pork zhongzi 五香花生豬肉粽

I nearly missed the correct date for Duan Wu Jet 端午節. I knew it's the 16th but my silly head keep thinking it's Thursday instead of Wednesday today.

I made another batch of zhongzi last night, this time is savoury with ground roasted peanuts and pork only, flavoured heavily with five spice. I think this is Hakka style zhongzi, we used to buy these at the market all year round when I was still living in the Far East.

Here is the recipe, I have included a far more detailed slideshow if anyone like to know how I wrap these dumplings. See also previous posts for lye zhongzi and the another for a meaty savoury one I posted last year.

Five spice, peanut and pork zhongzi 五香花生豬肉粽

Makes about 14 - 15 large zhongzi, or more if smaller so make sure soak more leaves then you think you need

1 kg glutinous or sticky rice
2 - 3 tbsp fried garlic and shallot oil*
2 tbsp light soy
1 tsp salt

450g raw peanuts with skin, or shop bought ready roasted peanuts
1 tbsp five spice
1 tsp salt

800g pork belly
2 tbsp five spice
1.5 tbsp salt

about 36 dried bamboo leaves
some cotton string


1 or 2 days before making the dumplings, prepare the pork. Cut pork into chunks and marinate with salt and five five. Leave in the fridge till ready to use.

Night before or at least 5 hours before wrapping. Rinse and soak the rice. Drain with a sieve, shake off as much excess water as you can. Set aside. Chop some garlic (about 2 cloves) and 1 shallot, fry with few tbsp oil on medium heat till golden but not burnt. Take about 2 - 3 tbsp of this fragrant oil, 2 tbsp light soy and 1 tsp salt, mix this thoroughly with the rice. Set aside till ready to use.

Night before or few hours before wrapping, soak the leaves in water till softened. Then blanched in boiling water for 8 - 10 minutes. Take them out and rinse with cold tap water. Then soak with fresh water till ready to use.

Roast the peanuts using a dry wok, at low heat, stirring most of time till golden brown. when cooled, remove husk or skin, by rubbing the peanuts inside a colander, shake off or blow away the skin (best do this in the garden to avoid mess). When done, chopped or ground the peanuts in a food processor. If you can't be bothered with roasting you own peanuts, you can use ready to eat shop bought roasted peanuts. When the peanuts are chopped or ground, mix with some five spice and salt.

Prepare the string for tying the dumplings. Each string is around 90 -100 cm long, tie in a bundle or 8 - 10 and tie the lot to a door handle or wall hook for easy tying.

Detailed Slideshow how to wrap zhongzi.

This is my method. There are other various ways to do it.

Once all the dumplings are wrapped. Take one very large pot or 2 smauller pots, fill up to 3/4 full with water. Let water boil rapidly. Then put in the dumplings. Totally immersed them in water. Boil at high heat for about 10 minutes, then lower heat to low and boil for several hours. If each dumpling is less then 150g boil for 2 hours, for large dumplings 200g or over boil for 3 hours.

Finally one small note about the bamboo leaves. Best use leaves which are around 30cm or longer and wider the better, then 2 leaves are enough for one dumpling. If the leaves are short and thin, you may need to stack 3 leaves together like this. The minimum length of the stack together leaves is best at least 35 to 40 cm long, and the stack together width is around 10 - 12 cm wide, if not you may find it difficult to wrap and dumpling may leak, especially for bigger dumplings.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Lye zhongzi 鹼水粽

It's time for zhongzi again. Duan Wu Jet 端午節 or more commonly known as Dragon Boat Festival is this Wednesday 16th June.

Various pronunciations or writings for these rice dumplings.
子 = 糭子 (zhongzi, zongzi, joong, chang in Hokkien)

Zhongzi is a must for this festival. There are many different recipes for these sticky rice dumplings, more popular are meaty savoury types there are also sweet ones too usually with sweet bean paste filling.

Zhongzi are similar to Lo Mai Gai (dumpling wrapped with lotus leaves). Lo mai gai use partially cooked rice wrapped then steamed. Zhongzi are usually wrapped with bamboo leaves and the dumplings are boiled from raw state for several hours. Common zhongzi shape is triangular, there are also square/rectangular.

I have posted a recipe for typical Cantonese style meat zhongzi last year with clear slideshow how to wrap.

Yesterday I made some lye or alkaline zhongzi 鹼水粽 (read as 'gun sui joong'). They are not the common favourite. The rice is treated with lye to give the yellow to orangey yellow colour with a distinctive acquired taste. Not many people love it, but I do, so is everyone in my family especially my mum. Lye zhongzi can be filled with a sweet bean paste (either lotus seeds paste or red bean paste) or it can be plain with no filling at all. Most people like to eat this dip with sugar or with some syrup drizzle over it.

If you know how to wrap zhongzi making these lye dumplings is easy with only few ingredients.

Lye (gun sui) 鹼水 or 枧水 is concentrated alkaline liquid available from most Chinese grocers.

Here is the recipe:

Lye zhongzi 鹼水粽

Makes about 12 zhongzi


650g glutinous or sticky rice
2 tbsp lye
1.5 tbsp cooking oil
about 400g red bean paste (dousa), homemade or bought

24 + few extra (in case torn or damaged) dried bamboo leaves
some cotton string for tying the dumplings

  1. Rinse the rice then soak with plenty of water for at least 5 hours up to 10 hours or overnight.
  2. Soak the leaves for few hours or overnight till bendable, then blanch in boiling water for about 8 - 10 minutes till softened. Remove leave and soak with fresh tap water.
  3. Drain the rice using a sieve, shake off as much excess water as you can.
  4. Mix rice with lye and oil. Leave aside.
  5. Divide the bean paste into 12 - 13 pcs, around 30 - 35g each
  6. Prepare the string around 85 - 90cm long each and tie into a bundle, tie to somewhere on a cupboard door handle or a wall hook for easy tying the dumplings. See slideshow on previous post.
  7. To wrap the dumplings, see the slideshow of this post and previous slideshow too. Take 2 leaves, wipe off excess water with clean towel, trim off the hard stalk, stack them on top of each other with smooth side facing up, twist to form a cone. Fill with some rice about 2 tbsp then put the bean paste on top and cover with more rice. Smooth the rice level on top. Fold the leaves to form a parcel. Then tie with string. Repeat till all the dumplings are wrapped. Each finished dumpling weighs around 130g.
  8. Take a pot large enough to put all the dumplings in, fill up to 3/4 full with water without the dumplings. Let the water come to rapid boil. Put the dumplings in, the water should cover the dumplings. Boil at high heat for 10 mins then lower heat to low and boil/simmer for around 4 hours, check every hour to ensure there is enough water . Take the dumplings out after boiling and leave to cool. Best eat warm or at room temperature, on its own or dip with sugar or drizzle with some syrup. Maple syrup is nice with this.
  9. Any left over can keep in the fridge up to a week for freeze up to 6 - 8 mths adequately wrapped. Once in the fridge or freezer, the rice will turn hard. Need reheating then cool for a while before eating. Reheat by boiling or steaming. If frozen, leave to thaw first before reheating.

  • These lye dumplings are best wrap/tie a bit tighter (pack the rice a bit closer) than the normal meat type. If the rice is very loose before cooking, the rice will be soft and not be very nice to eat. Lye dumplings are nicer firm and a bit chewy.
  • Do not make these lye dumplings too big.
  • Though smaller than most meat zhongzi, the cooking time is much longer because long boiling gives the rice a deeper yellow colour.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Lemon chicken 檸檬雞

I love all things sweet and sour and lemon chicken ranks very high on my favourite list. It is such a simple recipe but so very tasty. Beats KFC anytime.

If you don't already know a good recipe, this is how I make it. The recipe I like is chicken coated with cornflour (cornstarch) then shallow fried/deep fried. The chicken coating is very crispy and sauce is tangy and flavoursome. I prefer to use boneless chicken breasts for lemon chicken, find the meat quicker to cook, tender and juicy.

Lemon chicken 檸檬雞


Chicken and marinade
500g chicken breast (2 very large breasts or 3 - 4 smaller breasts, boneless, with or without skin. I like with skin, it's more flavourful)
1 egg white, beaten
1 tsp salt
2 tsp light soy sauce
pinch of ground pepper
2 tbsp cornflour

about 1/3 cup cornflour for coating

about 1 cup of cooking oil for frying

60 - 70 ml lemon juice
1 tsp fine zest of lemon
1 tsp cornflour
2 tsp custard powder (custard powder gives a lovely yellow colour to the sauce, if you don't like can use cornflour)
2 - 3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp light soy sauce
about 180 - 200ml chicken stock (homemade or use stock cube/bullion)

1 tsp cooking oil

slices of lemon for garnish (optional)

  1. Mix chicken with marinade. Cornflour is added to the marinade to ensure chicken will coat with enough egg white before coating with dry cornflour. Egg white and cornflour make a very crispy coating. Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Heat the oil in the wok (about 1 inch deep of oil)
  3. Spread about 1/3 cup cornflour on a large plate, coat the chicken with generous layer of cornflour.
  4. When oil is hot fry the chicken pieces at medium high heat, till nice golden brown, hard and crispy both sides. Remove and drain on a rack, can leave in a warm oven up to 30 minutes if you like to serve a little longer. Remove oil and clean wok.
  5. Mix the sauce ingredients together. Cook using small saucepan or wok till thicken, taste if need more lemon juice, sugar or soy, if sauce is too thick can add a bit more water, then stir in 1 tsp of oil. Oil will help the sauce shiny.
  6. Cut the chicken into pieces place on a plate, garnish with lemon slices if prefer, then pour on sauce just before serving.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Homestyle stir fried rice vermicelli (chow mee hoon) 家常炒米粉

Rice vermicelli 米粉 (mee fun, mee hoon or fine rice noodles) can be a pain to stir fry. If anyone finds rice vermicelli always clump together, broken into bits and sticking to the pan/wok, you may find this post useful.

To make delicious stir fried rice vermicelli, there are a few rules to follow.
  • the noodles must be soaked with cold or lightly warm water, never use boiling water.
  • noodles must not be over soaked.
  • unless you pan or wok is guaranteed non stick with whatever you throw into it, one must not stir fry the noodles together with the vegetables or meat or you will find the noodles stick very quickly to the pan or wok.
Here is picture to show the noodles are nicely separated and not broken at all using this method.

Below is the recipe how I normally do it if you like to give it a try. You can use various different vegetables and meat/prawns you have at hand. I always add egg to fried noodles.

Other vegetables can be used are woodears, shitake mushroom, pak choi, Chinese cabbage, onion, leeks, Sichuan preserved vegetable (zha chai), jicama (mungkuang), fresh green beans. All vegetables to be shredded quite fine.

For a vegetarian version, can sub meat and egg with fried or super firm tofu or seitan

Stir fried rice vermicelli


This qty makes a big plateful, enough for 3 - 4 people generously.

250g dried rice vermicelli or mee hoon (I like the superfine type, you and use any type you like)

2 large eggs, beaten

3 - 4 cloves garlic chopped
about a third cup minced (ground) pork, beef, chicken or roughly chopped prawns
about a third to half cup sliced/shredded Chinese sausage (lap cheong), ham any type or bacon, for non pork eater can use Chinese fried fish cake or leftover roast beef, chicken or lamb or peeled cooked prawns
1 medium carrot shredded (I used the mandoline)
about 4 leaf of cabbage, finely shredded (about 1.5 cup)
about 1.5 cup beansprouts
about 3 - 4 stalks of spring onion (scallion), chopped
few tbsp light soy sauce, to taste
1 tsp of chicken stock granules/bullion (optional)
some ground pepper.

cooking oil

  1. Soak the dried noodles with cold or lightly warm tap water till soften. Drain with colander and shake the noodles to release as much water as you can. Leave aside for 10 minutes before stir frying.
  2. Prepare the other ingredients.
  3. When wok is hot add about 1 - 1.5 tbsp oil, spread oil around the wok. When almost smoking hot, add in the egg spread it evenly to form a thin omelette. Brown on one side, flip over and break the omelette into small bitesize. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add about 1.5 tbsp of oil in wok, when wok is really hot add half the chopped garlic follow by the noodles. Stir and toss with chopsticks, to loosen and stir fry till noodles are hot. Drizzle on some light soy while stirring to evenly mix soy with noodles. Stir till noodles are cooked through and hot. Remove and set aside.
  5. Add more oil in wok (about 1.5 tbsp) and the remaining garlic. Stir then add meat/prawn and lap cheong or bacon (if using cooked meat, fish cake or prawns, add in a little later till raw meat is cooked. Stir till meat is cooked and fragrant. Add dash of light soy.
  6. Add cabbage and carrot, stir till vegetables are soften. Add more soy and chicken stock granules to taste. Can add a little water to create steam to cook the vegetables. When vegetables are soften add beansprouts. Stir briefly.
  7. Add in omelette, stir briefly.
  8. Turn off heat. Add in spring onion and noodles. Add ground pepper. Tease and toss the noodles, so the noodles are loosen and mix evenly with the vegetables, meat and egg. When done, if noodles are somewhat cooled down, turn the heat on, tossing the noodles while stirring. Heat till noodles are hot or when starting to stick to the pan/wok turn heat off. Ready to eat.

Can eat on its own or drizzle with your favourite chilli sauce.

If you like you can add some chopped fresh chilli to the stir fry.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Di San Xian 地三鮮 (stir fried potato, aubergine and green pepper)

Di San Xian (or more accurately read as 'dee sun sen') is a delicious vegetarian dish from Dongbei (north east China). The name Di San Xian 地三鮮 is translated as 'earth three fresh'.

Potato is hardly ever added to any Chinese stir fries, but this recipe really works and truly yummylicious. Once you have tried it, you want again and again. The secret of this recipe is all the vegetables must be shallow or deep fried in oil, if not you won't get the same flavour or sweetness from the vegetables.

The recipe is quite easy. Other than the vegetables, the flavouring is really simple.

Di san xian 地三鮮


1 large Dutch aubergine (eggplant) or 2 - 3 oriental aubergines
2 - 3 medium potatoes
1 large green pepper (bell pepper)

1.5 - 2 cups of oil for frying

2 large clove garlic
3 - 4 stalks of spring onion (scallion), use only the white part
2 tbsp light soy
2 tsp dark soy
1 - 1.5 tbsp sugar (or to your taste)
1/2 cup of homemade stock (vegetarian or chicken), if not can use just water
1/2 tsp stock granules/bullion (vegetarian or chicken),optional
1 heap tsp of cornflour (cornstarch) mix with 2 tbsp water

  1. Cut potatoes into bitesize chunks. I like to cut my into irregular thin wedges.
  2. Cut aubergine into chunks, 2 - 2.5 times the size of potatoes. It will shrink after cooking. Cut just before cooking to prevent browning or straight after frying the potatoes. Do not rinse or salt the aubergine.
  3. Cut green pepper into chunks.
  4. Chop garlic and spring onion.
  5. Heat oil in work till hot then put in potatoes and fry till light golden brown and cooked through, similar to chips (fries). Remove and drain on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
  6. Fry the aubergine in the same oil at high heat. The aubergine will absorb a lot of the oil at first. When the pieces become golden brown, most of the absorbed oil is released. Fry till golden and soft. Remove and drain on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
  7. Fry the green pepper briefly for about 1 - 2 minutes on high heat. Remove and drain on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
  8. Remove all the oil except 1 tbsp, add in the garlic and spring onion, fry at medium heat till light golden.
  9. Add in stock or water, follow by both soy sauces, stock granules and enough sugar to taste. I like mine fairly sweet.
  10. When the liquid is boiling, add in all the vegetables. Stir briefly then thicken with slackened cornflour. High heat and reduce the sauce to almost dry and vegetables are evenly coated with the sauce. Ready to serve.

** This dish is normally without any spice. If you like spicy you can add some chilli flakes when stir frying the garlic.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Jingdu ribs (Cantonese sweet & sour ribs) 京都骨

I have recently discovered Asda pork ribs are fantastic and great value. The ribs are in big chunks and full of meat. The pack I bought last week was labelled as 800g but the actual weight was around 900g.

Take a look and drool at my favourite Cantonese Jingdu ribs 京都骨 . It's sticky, sweet, sour and finger licking good.

Jingdu ribs are available in most Cantonese style restaurants. Most are quite red in colour due to added artificial colour.

My recipe is as close to the restaurant minus the red colour. One secret ingredient I do use is bicarb to tenderise the meat. Without this the meat will be quite tough (due to the short cooking time) and not the texture like in restaurants.

Jingdu ribs 京都骨


800 - 900g ribs
1.25 (1 1/4) tsp bicarb
1.5 tsp salt

1 tbsp light soy
2 tsp dark soy
1 tbsp sugar
1.5 tsp five spice
0.5 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp cooking wine

2 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 small piece of ginger, grated
1/3 cup tomato ketchup
3 tbsp Chinkiang black rice vinegar
2 tbsp cooking wine
2 - 3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp chicken stock granules (bullion)
2 - 3 tsp light soy

1.5 - 2 cups of cooking oil

garnish (optional)

  1. Mix the salt and bicarb together, rub this onto the ribs. Leave for about 2 - 3 hours. Rinse the ribs and pat dry with kitchen paper.
  2. Mix with soy, five spice, sugar, wine and pepper. Leave for about 2 hours or up to 8 hours (overnight).
  3. Heat oil in wok till fairly hot. Put in the ribs and fry at medium heat for about 12 - 15 minutes, (depending on size of ribs), turning every few minutes till brown all over. Remove and set aside. Remove oil too and clean the wok.
  4. Put in about 1 tbsp oil and fry the garlic and ginger. Then add in the remaining sauce ingredients and about 1.25 (1 1/4) cup water . When the sauce is boiling. Add in ribs, stir, cover and let simmer for 15 - 20 minutes till ribs are tender. Remove lid, stir the ribs to coat the sauce and reduce the sauce to almost dry. Then add in 1 more tbsp oil (this makes the ribs shiny), stir and ready to serve. Garnish if you like.
* if you like spicy you can add some chilli sauce to the sauce.