Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Korean ice cold soy milk noodles - Kongguksu

Kongguksu is an interesting bowl of noodle soup. It is icy cold great for the warm weather. It has an unsual cold soy milk broth with added nuts for more flavour. The broth is mild, nutty, delicious and healthy. If you like strong flavoured noodle soup this recipe is not for you.

This soy milk broth is not the normal soy milk. Soaked soy beans are boiled then blended with water to a creamy thick milk, seasoned and strained without further cooking.

The recipe is quite easy, essential tool is a liquidiser.

Ingredients (for 2 servings)

Part A - Soy milk broth

80 - 90g soy beans
4 - 5 tbsp dry roasted peanuts (no added flavouring)
2 tbsp dry roasted sesame seeds
about 1 tsp salt (to your taste)
pinch of ground pepper
ice cubes

  • Soak beans overnight or 8 - 10 hrs. Rinse and boil with water. After the water is boiling rapidly, turn the heat down and simmer for about 12 - 15 minutes.
  • Rinse the boiled beans with cold water. Rub beans to remove skins. Add enough water the skins will float on top, remove skins with water. Repeat with more water till all the skins are removed.
  • Put beans, peanuts and sesame seeds in liquidiser. Add about 750ml cold water, some salt. ground pepper and few ice cubes. Blend for about 1 minute.
  • Strain milk with fine sieve.

Part 2 - soy milk noodle soup (for 2)

about 700 - 750ml soy milk broth
about 150 - 180g fine wheat noodle ( I used Korean dried noodles)
some shredded cucumber
some shredded carrot
2 boiled eggs (shelled)
some ice cubes

  • Boil noodles per instruction. Rinse with cold water and drain.
  • Put noodles in bowl.
  • Pour in enough soy milk.
  • Add cucumber, carrot, boiled eggs and ice cubes.

My boiled eggs were a little underdone with running centre. Not a pretty picture but tasty .

Suitable for vegetarian, just leave out boiled egg.

Nice eaten with some kimchi or other vegetable pickles.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Hakka steamed dumpliings 客家茶粿

Chinese name: Hakka chai guo 客家茶粿 or Hakka chai bao 客家菜包

In Brunei we called these dumplings chai kuih. I remembered in our family we used to have them for breakfast nearly every weekend, we buy them from the kuih lady in the market. Eventually we learnt how to make them and have them as and when we feel like making some. I have never seen these dumplings in UK restaurants, the only way I can have them is make my own.

The dumplings pastry has a soft chewy texture. Nice eaten hot, freshly steamed or reheated in the steamer. Reheating in the microwave is ok but sometime the pastry can be a bit dry.

My pastry recipe use rices flour and tapioca flour. I have seen some Taiwanese recipes use rice flour and glutinous flour.

Here is the recipe if you like to give it a try.


A. Dough (makes about 50 dumplings, a big plateful)

Part 1
250g oriental rice flour
150g tapioca flour
700ml(g) water
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cooking oil

Part 2
about 100g rice flour
some cooking oil


  1. Mix all ingredients in Part 1 together till no lumps. Pour this into a pan, heat at medium heat and stir continuously till the mixture become a very thick paste. Cover and leave to cool. This will take over 1 hour till the paste is cool enough to handle.
  2. Sprinkle the working area with some rice flour from Part 2. Scrape the paste onto the dusted flour. Sprinkle more flour on top of paste. Knead and fold in rest of the the rice flour. This is very messy job will stick to all your hands and fingers. Knead till the dough is smooth without lumps and all flour is incorporated. Scrap the sticky dough off your hands with a spatula. Clean hands.
  3. Put some cooking oil in a small bowl. Now brush/dip the spatula with oil and scrape the dough to a rounded lump. Grease both hands with oil then lightly knead the dough and form into a smooth round lump.
  4. Divide the dough into few pieces. Roll each into a sausage about 2.5cm thick. Then cut with a oil greased spatula or knife into small pieces, each about 22 - 25g each.
  5. Roll each piece with oil greased hands then put aside.

Make this filling while the dough paste is cooling.

about 600g peeled mooli (daikon) or jicama (mungkuang)
about 200g pickle mustard (hum choi)
about 250 minced (ground) pork
about 50g dried shrimps
about 10 cloves garlic
2 tsp sugar
2 - 3 tbsp light soy
salt to taste
ground pepper to taste
about 2 - 3 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp cornflour mix with a little water
4 - 5 stalks of spring onion (scallion), chopped

* I much preferred jicama but this vegetable is not something I can get locally. So I used mooli.

  • Shred mooli or jicama with a cheese grater. Sqeeze out excess water to about 450 - 480g.
  • Cut/shred pickle mustard into very fine strips. Have a taste if pickle is salty soak with water for few minutes then squeeze out excess water.
  • Soak dried shrimps for about 10 - 15minutes then chop.
  • Chop garlic.
  • In a wok, add few tbsp oil. Heat and add 1/4 of the garlic. Fry till till fragrant add dried shrimps and pork. Mash the pork till no large lumps. Stir fry till the meat has turned brown and any liquid is drying. Add in some light soy, sugar and pepper to taste.
  • Add shredded mooli (or jicama) and pickled mustard. Stir fry till vegetables are softened and heated through. Have a taste see if you need more light soy or salt to taste. Finally drizzle in slackened cornflour. Stir till thickened then add remaining chopped garlic and spring onion. Remove onto a plate, spread it out and leave to cool.

Now time to wrap dumplings

Put about 1/2 cup of rice flour in a container or bowl. This is for dusting to prevent dough sticking.

Take a piece of parchment paper. Cut it to fit the steamer tray. Then punch many holes with a sharp skewer to let steam flow and prevent condensation logging in between dumplings during steaming.

  • Take a piece dough. Lightly coat with dry rice flour. Coat fingers with some flour too to prevent dough sticking to hand and fingers..
  • Then roll it out quite thin about 1.5mm thick.
  • Take the dough onto one hand. Put some filling on one side of dough.
  • Fold the dough into half moon shape. Pinch and seal the edge
  • Then place the dumpling with the seal edge facing up in the middle like in picture.
  • Place dumplings on paper lined steamer tray. Continue wrapping the dumplings till the tray is full. Can also place any extra dumplings on a greased tray to steam for later. Cover dumplings with tea towels to prevent drying.
  • Heat steamer till water is boiling. Steam dumplings for about 4 -5 minutes on high heat till dumplings are cooked and pastry looks semi translucent.
  • Brush cooked dumplings with a little oil to prevent drying and sticking to other dumplings when piling up on a plate.

Plateful of dumplings

Eat them while hot or reheat, on their own or with some light soy, chilli sauce or chilli oil.

Great for breakfast, brunch or snack anytime of the day and night.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Nyonya kuih lapis - nine layers cake 九層糕

This colourful steamed cake is a Chinese Nyonya fusion, soft and slightly chewy. I love this since I was a kid. I like to peel the layers one by one and eat it that way.

This cake is more like a pudding than a western cake. It is normally called nine layers cake due to the number of layers. It is not essential to have nine layers but that has been a tradition passed down from generation to generation, mother to daughters recipe. Nine is an auspicious word to signify long lasting and long life. There are so many different ways to make this cake, different colours, different flavours and different flour mixture to give various degree of softness and chewiness. Rice flour is the base of this cake mix, tapioca and wheat starch are added to give a more bouncy and chewier texture, some recipes use mung bean starch.

I like to add coconut to give nice rich flavour. With the colours, I am not keen to add artificial colours. I sometime use two colours sometime three. I love the flavour of pandan it goes well with coconut so green has always been the obvious choice, using juice extracted from pandan leaves not artificial flavoured paste. Red is a nice colour too the one ingredient I like to use and to give colour is grenadine syrup, rose syrup is ok too. Strawberry or other acidic juice does not really go well with coconut, better use something with a nice fragrance but low acid.

This cake is quite easy to make if you can manage to find a big enough steamer (or pan) and a bit of time standing by the stove. My steamer is not big enough to fit the glass dish I like to use, so I used a large pan with a high doom lid, filling the pan with about 2 - 3cm high with water and sit the glass dish on top for steaming. Can use any dish or cake tin you like as long as it does not have a loose bottom or the mixture will leak. If you don't have a large steamer can make small individual portions using small pudding cups or even heat resistant disposal plastic cups. It's fun to see the layers building up.

Here is how I make this cake.


Part 1
200g rice flour
100g tapioca starch
100g wheat starch (tang mien, or har gau flour), if not available use cornstarch (cornflour)
1 x 400ml (or 450ml) tin of coconut milk
about 400ml water

Part 2

a. White layer
80g sugar
150ml water

b. Green layer
80g sugar
150ml pandan juice* (see below how to extract this juice)

c. Red layer
30 - 40g sugar
150ml grenadine syrup (or rose syrup)

* to extract pandan juice, take 50 - 60g of fresh pandan leaves, rinse and cut into small pieces, then put in a mini blender with 150ml water. Blend to a pulp, squeeze out juice with hands then strain with fine sieve. Need 150ml juice.

1 glass dish or cake tin that will hold about 1600 ml of water and with about 4.5 - 5.5 cm high

a few drops of cooking oil to grease the dish or tin


  • Warm coconut milk if solidified. Mix with all flours. Put this mixture on a scale then slowly add enough water to make up to 1200g in total. Mix till no lumps.
  • Stir the mixture just before dividing into 3 equal portions, each weighing 400g into 3 easy to pour containers or mixing cups.
  • To make white part just add sugar and water. Stir to dissolve sugar. This portion will weight about 600g. This is to be divided into 3 portions. See next step.
  • To make green part add sugar and pandan juice. Stir to dissolve sugar. This portion will weigh. This is to be divided into 3 portions. See next step.
  • To make red/pink layer, add sugar and syrup. Stir to dissolve sugar. Less sugar because syrup is already sweet. This portion will weigh about 600g. This is to be divided into 3 portions. See next step.
  • Take 3 smaller cups. Take each of the colour mixture, weigh and fill cup with about 200g mixture. If the glass dish or cake tin does not have a equal size from bottom to top (straight edge), divide the mixture according to size of dish or tin.
  • Grease the glass dish or tin lightly with oil.
  • Heat water in steamer, when boiling. Add container. Heat till container is hot. Wipe off any condensation inside container with clean tea towel.
  • Pour in first portion from small cup. Any colour you wish.
  • Steam for about 4 - 5 minutes or till the layer is set, check centre always the latest to set.
  • Then pour in second colour from small cup, steam and pour in the next colour.
  • Once the small cup is empty, fill up again with next portion.
  • Continue building up the layers.
  • After the last layer, continue steaming for another 12 - 15 minutes to ensure the whole cake is cooked through.
Things to avoid and do:
  1. at each stage of the process, flour will settle to the bottom of the cup/container. Before dividing the mixture into cups/containers or pouring mixture to steam, make sure to stir the mixture first.
  2. sometime a little colour mixing can happen during pouring and steaming. Just make sure the last layer is cooked and set before pouring on next layer.
  3. avoid too much water condensation dropping on the layer, if so wipe or absorb with paper towel.
  4. if steaming water is drying out, make sure to top up.
  5. make sure the glass dish or cake tin is level so the layer is evenly spread.

After the cake is cooked. Take it out, loosely cover (or condensation will build up on top of cake) with foil or tea towel without touching the cake and leave to cool completely before cutting or eating. Any left over must put in fridge. Will keep for few days.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Chongqing hot & sour noodles 重慶酸辣粉

重慶酸辣粉 Chongqing suan la fen

Chongqing hot and sour noodle soup is one of the world favourite Chinese noodles, popular not only in Chongqing but also in Sichuan. I love it, it's spicy, salty, sour, garlicy and the noodles are soft and slippery. A bowl of red hot slurping goodness. This noodle soup can be a fast food, can prepare in minutes if all the components/ingredients are prepared in advance.

A. Soup base (stock)
Make soup base with pork bones or chicken bones. Boil bones with few slices of ginger and one/two stalks of spring onion. Do not add salt. Have the soup base heated to boiling before serving.

B. Spicy minced pork with Sichuan pickle

200g minced (ground) pork
3 - 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
about 1/4 cup (chopped) Sichuan pickled vegetable, ya chai or preserved vegetables zha chai, I couldn't find ya chai so used zha chai
2 tbsp Chilli bean sauce (Pixian douban jiang)
1 tbsp light soy
2 - 3 tsp sugar
2 - 3 tbsp cooking oil

  • Heat oil add garlic. Stir fry till fragrant. Add chilli bean sauce, stir till oil is turning red.
  • Add pork stir fry till pork is brown and any liquid is drying up.
  • Add pickled vegetable. Stir
  • Add soy and sugar to taste.

C. Chilli oil

Can use bought or homemade chilli oil. Chilli oil is very easy to make at home and taste far better than bought. This is a recipe posted previously. And here is another simple way to make some.

4 tbsp chilli powder* (coarse or fine powder)
2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
2 tbsp black rice vinegar
1/2 cup cooking oil

*level of spiciness depends of type of chilli powder used. Redder the powder redder the oil made.

  • Rinse Sichuan peppercorns and drain. (wetting the peppercorns help to release the flavour easier and delay burning in hot oil).
  • Mix chilli powder with vinegar in a medium size soup bowl.
  • Heat oil till warm. Add peppercorns. The oil will gradually get hot and sizzle due to the moisture in peppercorns. Fry peppercorns till oil is fragrant and peppercorns are turning brown.
  • Pour oil through a metal sieve directly into chilli paste. The oil will boil rapidly hitting the chilli paste with lots of bubbles. Stir and leave to cool.

D. Spicy sauce

Mix together 3 tbsp chilli oil with chilli solid, 1 tbsp roasted sesame oil, 3 tbsp Chinkiang black rice vinegar, 1 - 2 tbsp light soy, 1 tsp salt or Chicken bullion powder, 1/2 tsp ground Sichuan pepper, 1/2 tsp ground pepper, 2 - 3 tsp sugar.

E. Deep fried soy beans or dry roasted peanuts

Deep fried crunchy soy beans
Soak some soy beans overnight. Drain. Rub dry with clean tea towel. Deep fried at medium heat till golden brown. Remove and leave to cool.

Dry roasted peanuts
Dry roast peanuts with skin using a dry pan or wok. Stir continuously for about 8 - 10 minutes till peanut is medium golden brown. Remove and spread out to cool. Put peanuts in a colander, rub peanuts with hand and/or against the colander to remove skin, the skin will fall out of the colander. Best do this in the sink or outdoor to prevent mess.
You can also use bought roasted peanuts.

*Crunchy soy beans are the traditional condiments used. I am not too keen with them so I used peanuts.

F. Noodles

Use sweet potato noodles/vermicelli where possible. If you can't find sweet potato noodles use thick mung bean noodles or rice noodles. Here is one I used.

Soak the noodles for about 30 minutes or till softened. Cook with rapidly boiling water briefly till soft. Cook noodles just before serving.

Other ingredients:

Few leaves of green vegetables like choi sum or pak choi per bowl of noodles, blanched
some chopped ginger
some chopped garlic
some chopped spring onion (scallion)
some chopped coriander (cilantro)

To assemble the noodle soup:
  1. Put noodles in bowl.
  2. Add vegetables, ginger, garlic, spring onion and coriander
  3. Add peanuts or crunchy soy beans
  4. Add minced pork with pickle
  5. Pour in enough boiling soup base
  6. Add few tbsp of spicy sauce, much as you like. Taste before adding too much, or it can be too salty and spicy.

Here is another version Hot & Sour noodles Hunan style.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Cha Traop Dot - Cambodian aubergine with pork and prawn

This is yet another lovely aubergine (eggplant) recipe. This is a Cambodian recipe. I don't know much about Cambodian cooking. I got this recipe from a friend.

I like the way the aubergine is first chargrilled whole then shredded, the aubergine is sweet and has lovely smoky flavour. I don't have a charcoal grill. I chargrilled the aubergine with direct flame.

Here is what I did.

Chargrill the aubergine on direct flame. Low flame. I do have a perforated griller pan.

** Can also roast the aubergine in the oven if not chargrilled.

Prick skin of aubergine. Skin of aubergine will turn brown when heated. Turning aubergine every few minutes

Skin will turn wrinkly

When aubergine turning soft and collapses somewhat, about 15 minutes. Test with skewer if it can piece through easily it's done. Don't cook till aubergine is mushy soft.

Cover with foil and leave to cool.

Peel the skin and shred the aubergine into pieces.

The aubergine is now ready for the stir fry.


about 500g (with stalk) fresh aubergine, 1 very large aubergine or 2 medium aubergines, chargrilled. peeled and shredded.

about 125g minced pork (ground pork)

about 125g peeled raw prawns (shrimps), cut into small pieces

2 - 4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 - 2 red chillies, chopped

about 2 - 3 stalks spring onion (scallion), chopped

a little coriander (cilantro), chopped

about 1.5 - 2 tbsp fish sauce

few drops of dark soy

2 - 3 tsp sugar

few tbsp crushed roasted peanuts

about 4 - 5 tbsp cooking oil


  • Heat oil, stir fry garlic. Add minced pork and fry till brown and any liquid from pork is drying. Add dash of fish sauce. Stir.
  • Add prawns. Stir fry till prawns changed colour.
  • Add some of spring onion and chilli. Stir
  • Add aubergine. Stir fry till aubergine is heated through.
  • Season with enough fish sauce, dash of dark soy (for colour) and little sugar to taste.
  • Ready to plate up. Sprinkle on remaining spring onion, chilli and coriander. And finally some crushed peanuts.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

A plateful of Malay goodness

My dinner last night,
- sambal tumis telur, cut into halves
- nasi minyak serai (lemongrass oily rice) with crispy shallot
- keropok (prawn crackers)
- cucumber slices

Here is the recipe for the rice. I use 50:50 basmati and red rice. This red rice is Thai, bought from oriental supermarket.

Nasi Minyak Serai (Lemongrass Oily Rice)

Ingredients: (enough for 4), cup size 250ml

1 cup basmati rice
1 cup red rice or brown basmati rice or just plain basmati rice
5 - 6 lemongrass (serai)
1 thumb size chunk ginger
3 walnut size shallots
1.5 tsp cumin seeds (jintan putih)
2 star anise
2 tbsp ghee* or cooking oil
1.5 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar

* ghee gives a nicer flavour to the rice
Red rice or brown rice is more fibrous better pre-soaked before cooking or else can be a bit tough and longer to cook

  • Soak red rice or brown basmati for 1 - 2 hours. Drain. If using all plain basmati no need to soak.
  • Rinse plain basmati. Drain
  • Trim the lemongrass, remove the woodier leaves leaving a tender centre.
  • Take all the woodier part of lemongrass and 2 star anise, boil with 3.5 cups of water. When water is boiling. Turn heat off, let infuse for about 20 - 30 minutes. Remove lemongrass , leave star anise to be added to rice later.
  • Slice the tender part of lemongrass as thin as possible.
  • Finely chop shallots and ginger.
  • Heat ghee or oil in a medium size pan or pot enough to hold 6 - 7cups, fry the cumin seeds till they pop a bit.
  • Add shallot and fry till fragrant.
  • Add ginger and tender lemongrass. Stir a little while.
  • Add both rice and stir to coat with fragrant oil.
  • Add 3 cups of the spice infused water. Also add in the star anise too.
  • Season with enough salt and sugar.
  • Cover and let the liquid come to a boil. Do not let the water boiled over. Turn heat down and gently simmer till all moisture is absorbed and rice is cooked. Leave to rest for 10 minutes, loosen before serving.

Can add some roasted cashew nuts, toasted almonds or raisins to rice.

Sambal Tumis Telur (sambal eggs)

Born and breed in Brunei Malay food and cooking play an important part in my foodie life. Authentic Malay food is not easy to find in the Western world. I am so glad I have learnt enough to cook myself some decent Malay food before hopping on a plane over here to England many years ago.

Clearing the cupboard yesterday I found a jar of sambal tumis I made a while ago. Sambal tumis is very versatile can transform a plateful of vegetables, eggs, tofu, tempeh etc... into something spicy and savoury instantly. I made this sambal in large batch whenever needed and stored them in clean sealed jam jars and no refrigeration, will last me for months and months.

With this jar of sambal tumis I made some sambal tumis telur (sambal eggs). It's 'cepat, senang dan sedap' fast, easy and delicious like the Malay saying. Here is the bowlful of red and delicious eggs.


6 - 7 shelled hard boiled eggs
1 medium-large onion
2 medium tomatoes, cut into quarters
5 tbsp sambal tumis**
1 tbsp tomato paste
salt (if required)
a little sugar

about 1/2 - 1 cup oil for frying eggs*

*You don't have to fry the eggs if you don't want to. Fried egg tastes better and will coat the sauce much better.

  • Wipe the eggs with paper towel to remove excess surface water. Water will make oil spit. Heat oil till hot fry eggs at medium high heat, turning and browning evenly. Egg surface will blister a bit and light golden brown. Don't fry too long or the egg white will become tough. if you don't want to fry the eggs leave this step out.
  • Tip the sambal into a clean wok or pan. There is enough oil in the sambal no need to add extra oil to cook onion. Add tomato paste and onion and fry at medium heat till onion is softened. Don't let sambal burn, if heat too hot turn heat down or add a touch of water.
  • Add eggs and stir to coat with sauce evenly and warming the eggs. Add some water if sauce is too thick.
  • Add tomato pieces cook till slightly softened.
  • Taste to see if you need some sugar and a touch of salt to season.
Serve sambal tumis telur with rice, soft bread or flat bread.

**If you don't have a jar of sambal tumis you can make the spice paste with:

about 5 dried large chillies, de-seeded and soaked then cut into small pieces
3 walnut size shallots, cut into small pieces
1 large clove of garlic
1 tsp shrimp paste
l - 2 tbsp of tamarind juice extracted from a very small lump of wet tamrind and few tbsp hot water

Blend or pound the above to a fine paste. Cook with 2 - 3 tbsp of cooking oil till oil turning red and paste is fragrant, then add some salt to taste.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Sesame, spring onion and chicken flavoured crackers 芝麻蔥香雞汁餅

This morning I suddenly have a craving for some Pop Pan spring onion crackers, I was too lazy to go down to the shop. I thought of making something similar. I had a tub of chicken stock jelly with fat collected from roasting a chicken. Thought it might be a good idea to use that to flavour these crackers. No sure how this concoction would turn up I just mixed the dough, rolled it out and baked it. To my pleasant surprise the crackers are rather nice. So here is to share with you the recipe. I am still munching some as I write this.


200g self raising flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1-1/4 tsp chicken stock powder (if chicken stock jelly is salted use less chicken powder)
2 tsp sugar
pinch of ground pepper
40g chicken fat (chilled)
30g butter
about 1/2 cup loosely packed and finely chopped spring onion (scallion)
about 2 tbsp chicken stock jelly
about 3 tbsp sesame seeds
more flour for dusting and rolling
a little water

  • Dry roast the sesame seeds with a dry frying pan till light golden brown. Leave aside to cool.
  • Mix plain flour, baking powder, chicken stock powder and ground pepper together.
  • Rub chicken fat and butter into the dry ingredients evenly.
  • Mix in chopped spring onion. Leave for a little while to let the dry ingredient to absorb the moisture from the spring onion.
  • Then add chicken stock jelly a little at a time into the mixture till crumbs bind together forming a dough. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Dust working areas with flour. Roll the dough to a square or rectangle to about 4 cm thick.
  • Brush the dough surface very very lightly with water. Must not be too wet.
  • Then sprinkle the surface generously with sesame seeds. Press the seeds down with fingers avoiding sesame seeds sticking back on fingers.
  • Then roll and press dough with rolling pin so sesame seeds are ingrained into the dough and dough becomes quite thin about 2 - 2.5mm thick.
  • Cut into any shape and size you like. I cut it into 3 x 7cm strips.
  • Carefully lift up pastry and place on baking sheet (pan).
  • Bake at preheated oven (200 deg C fan oven) for about 12 minutes or till golden brown and crisp.
  • Cool and store in container or stuff your face with them :-)

Friday, 13 August 2010

Xinjiang chicken stew 新疆大盤雞

Xinjiang da pun ji 新疆大盤雞, translated as Xinjiang big plate/bowlful of chicken.

Xinjiang is the North West part of China, Muslims majority. I found this chicken stew recipe a while ago, very similar to Sichuan spicy flavour which I like a lot. What special is no water is needed just plenty of beer to stew the chicken. I just got to try this recipe.

Here is a big wokful of this stew, colourful and spicy, nicely flavoured too.

This stew is eaten with flat noodles not rice. I like it.

Recipe for the stew:


1 - 1.25kg of chicken with bone, cut/chop into chunks Chinese style with a cleaver or cut with pair of scissors. I used half a large chicken. You can also use drumsticks or chicken legs.

about 400g potatoes, cut into chunks

big handful of mild large green chillies (similar to this), I could not find this so I sub with 1 small green pepper and one small orange pepper, cut into chunks

3 - 4 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped

thumb size chunk of ginger, sliced

2 star anise

1.5 tsp cumin seeds

l medium-large onion cut into bitesize

2 - 4 tbsp chilli bean sauce ( I used Pixian douban 郫县豆瓣 better flavour), more chilli bean added hotter and redder the stew sauce, also can be salty too, adjust to your taste

1.5 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns

some dried chillies, remove stalks and seeds, cut into small chunks then rinse. I used 6 large dried chillies medium hot, can use small dried chillies usually much hotter

about 4 - 5 tbsp cooking oil

some light soy to taste

about 1 tbsp sugar, more or less to taste

about 500ml light flavoured beer, any type

about 1 heap tbsp cornflour mix with a little water for thickening

few stalks of spring onion (scallion), cut into 2 - 3 cm long

  • Put oil in wok, fry the Sichuan peppercorns for a little while till fragrant. (You can remove Sichuan peppercorns if you hate biting into them, crush some with pestle and mortar and add to the stew later) Now add cumin, star anise and dried chillies. Stir till you get a pungent scent and before chilli burnt.
  • Add garlic, ginger and onion, stir for a little while.
  • Add chilli bean sauce, stir till oil turning red.
  • Add chicken and stir fry for about 5 minutes.
  • Add potato, stir.
  • Add beer. Cover and let the liquid come to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 20 - 30 minutes till chicken and potatoes are tender.
  • Season with enough light soy and sugar. Taste before adding light soy, chilli bean sauce can be salty.
  • Add green chilli or sweet pepper. Continue simmer for another couple of minutes.
  • Thicken with slackened cornflour. Not too thick.
  • Finally add spring onion. Ready to eat

For the noodles: (can sub with tagliatelle )

I used pasta machine to make the noodles

about 300g white bread flour
1 large egg + water to make up to 125ml
1 tsp salt

Mix above together to form a dough. If dough is very dry add a bit more water. Dough should be firm. Leave to rest for about 20 minutes, knead till smooth.

Cut dough into 3 pieces. Dust with plenty of dry flour then roll out thin with pasta machine.

Then hand cut with knife into thick flat noodles.

Boil and serve with chicken stew.

*The flavour of the stew sauce was bitter (due to the beer) at first but did mellow down to a nice rich flavour with all the other ingredients.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Fermented beancurd flavoured chicken nuggets with basil 腐乳鹽酥雞

Fu Ru Yen Shu Ji 腐乳鹽酥雞.

This recipe is a delight from Taiwan, though not super healthy it's finger licking good. I have made this several times. Chicken has lovely flavour, the coating will stay crunchy for quite long time and the fried basil chips so crunchy they melt in the mouth. The recipe is easy as long as you have some fermented beancurd and some fresh basil.

Here is the recipe if you like to try.


Chicken and marinade:
500g chicken breast or chicken leg meat, with skin if you like more flavour
20g ferment beancurd or fu ru 腐乳 (about 1" sq piece or two tinny pieces or 1 tbsp), red, white or chilli flavoured
1 tbsp of the pickling juice from the fermented beancurd 腐乳汁
1 tbsp sugar
1.5 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 - 1/2tsp ground pepper (much as you like)
1 large clove garlic, minced or grated

1 egg yolk

Dry crispy coating
about 1 cup of tapioca starch, potato starch, sweet potato starch or cornstarch. Best if you can find some granular sweet potato starch. I will show you how to make granular starch at home if you can't find it. Granular starch gives a better crunch.
1 tsp five spice

handful of basil 九層塔 without stalks, Thai sweet or normal sweet basil

3 - 4 cups oil for deep frying

For the spicy salt:
1/2 tsp five spice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coarse ground black pepper

  • Cut chicken into bitesize chunks. Mash the fermented beancurd. Mix with the rest of the marinade ingredients. Leave aside for 1 hour or in the fridge for few hours.
  • Add egg yolk to chicken.
  • Rinse the basil leaves and shake off as much water as you can. Pat dry with dry clean towel.
  • Mix spice salt ingredients together.
  • Mix any starch you have with five spice powder. Then coat chicken chunks, piece by piece.
  • Heat oil in wok till hot enough but not smoking. Fry coated chicken in two batches till light golden and crunchy. Remove and drain on metal sieve or a large spider skimmer.
  • Use a small fine metal sieve, remove any loose bits of starch in the frying oil.
  • Fry chicken pieces second time this will make them more crunchy for longer. Heat oil till very hot, drop in all the chicken pieces together. Fry at high heat till coating is crunchy then drop in basil leaves. The leaves will sizzle rapidly. fry till leaves are crunchy. Remove chicken and basil. Drain and put on several layers of paper towel to absorb excess oil.
  • Put chicken pieces in serving dish or basket, sprinkle with spice salt.
Great as a snack with chips (fries), starter or with beer.

To make granular starch coating
Take one cup of any starch you have at home. Tapioca and sweet potato starch is crunchier. Drizzle with water while stirring with a fork, need about 2 - 3 tbsp water. The starch will become granular but still look dry. Use the fork and break up any large lumps till the texture become fine granules. Spread this on a baking tray and leave to dry naturally for 4 - 5 hours or overnight till touch dry or fully dried. You can make more store in jar for future use. If for storing dry the granules for at least 1 day to make sure it is thoroughly dried.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Boiled chewy sweet potato chunks 地瓜圓

Has anyone tried something like this in Taiwan or Taiwanese restaurant? This is a bowl of chewy sweet potato chunks called 'dee kwa yuan 地瓜圓' or 'fun shu yuan 番薯圓', a popular Taiwanese dessert. These chunks are similar to Cantonese glutinous rice balls 'tang yuan 湯圓' but much chewier. The first time I made this dessert following a recipe I found on the internet, it was far too chewy for my taste. That recipe and many I found later use too much sweet potato starch to blend with the mashed sweet potato to form a dough, the result I find too chewy unless you like that texture. I prefer a much softer chew. After experiment a few times I blended glutinous rice flour with sweet potato starch/tapioca starch to make them softer to eat and easier to digest. To make this just mix mashed sweet potato with the right type of flours in right proportions it's easy peasy to make.

Here is my recipe:

Ingredient: makes 2 cups, enough for 2 - 3 servings.

about 250g peeled sweet potato (2 small or 1 medium large sweet potato), you can use any colour of sweet potato, if you can get deep purple ones, that will be quite interesting.

about 80g glutinous rice flour
about 75g sweet potato starch/tapioca starch

about 3 - 4 tbsp sugar

  • Cut the peeled potato into large chunks. Steam till soft. Leave to cool down for a while. Remove any liquid. Mash as fine as you can. Stir in the sugar. Add in 80 glutinous rice and 75g sweet patato/tapioca starch, stir or mix till dry flour has absorbed and evenly combined. Check the texture of the dough, if too dry add a touch of water if too wet and sticky add some more glutinous rice flour or sweet patato/tapioca starch. Less dry flour/starch added the better, the dough should be soft but not sticky to your hand. Knead till smooth.
* Some sweet potato can be dry (floury) and some quite watery when cooked. So use your eyes and hands to feel the texture of the dough. Add more dry flour/starch if needed. More glutinous rice flour the texture will be give a softer chew, more tapioca starch the texture is firmer and chewier. If the sweet potato is watery you may need up to 200g total glutinous rice flour with tapioca starch.
  • Boil a pan of water. When the water is almost boiling, ready to shape the dough.
  • Roll the dough into a 1 - 2cm thick sausage. Cut into small pieces and drop them straight into the rapidly boiling water. Do not cut the dough and leave it aside, they will stick together or stick to the cutting board very quickly.
  • After boiling for about 2 minutes, use a spatula/spoon left up the pieces if they stick to the bottom of the pan. Continue boiling at medium high heat till all the pieces float to the top, boil for a further 3 - 4 minutes if the pieces are quite large (about 3cm wide) and 2 - 3 minutes for smaller pieces. Then they are ready.
  • Take them out and put them in cold water to keep them separate. If you like to serve them warm or hot, dip them in boiling water again before serving.

There are many ways to eat this soft chewy chunks, hot or cold. These chunks are softer when hot but will get firmer or chewier if chilled.

1. With plain or ginger flavoured syrup
See picture above I have it with a jaggery goor palm sugar and ginger syrup . Make a syrup with either common brown sugar, Chinese brown sugar sticks, Thai palm sugar, gula Melaka or Indian brown palm sugar (jaggery goor). I like jaggery goor it has a lovely flavour. For the ginger take a chunk and bash it with the back of a large cleaver or anything heavy to bruise it. Put enough water, sugar of your choice and ginger chunks. Boil for few minutes. Sweet potato chunks are best serve hot with ginger syrup.

2. Coat with thick syrup and roasted peanut powder
Another way to eat these chewy chunks is to dip the pieces in thick syrup then coat with roasted and finely ground peanuts (peanut powder).

3. Mix and match

This is similar to Malaysian/S'porean dessert called Ais kacang with bits of everything like sweetened boiled beans, nuts, fruits, jelly, tapioca pearls etc., top with syrup, shaved ice/crushed ice, evaporated milk, cream or coconut milk or even a scoop of ice-cream. Anything you fancy.

Here is one I made earlier with boiled raw peanuts and black grass jelly more Taiwanese style.

Boil some skinless raw peanuts with water (peanut to water ratio 1 : 4) for about 1.5 hours or till soften, boil like you would with other dried beans. If you add a pinch of bicarb the boiling time will be much shorter. Or if using a pressure cooker, use less water, it will only take about 30minutes. When cooked add sugar to taste. Leave the boiled peanut to cool. You can sub peanuts with red beans, aduki beans or kidney beans (unsalted)

Take a tin of black grass jelly, 'liang fen 涼粉' or '仙草凍 Sien chow dong', chill then cut some into chunks

I made the chewy sweet potato chunks smaller this time about 1cm thick.

To make up the dessert, put some black grass cubes in a bowl, add in some sweet potato chunks and spoon on some boiled peanuts. This can be serve warm or icy cold with some shaved/crushed ice. If you like a creamy taste, you can drizzle on some evaporated milk, light cream, coconut milk or even a scoop of icecream. If you like it sweeter add some syrup, runny honey or even maple syrup.

Here a picture I found with added cooked red beans (aduki beans), grass jelly, sweet potato and taro (yum) chewy chunks

And another picture with evaporated milk

If you have some oriental yam (taro), you can make the similar chewy chunks to go with sweet potato. Taro is drier than sweet potato you will need a lot less dry flour/starch. Something like this and this.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Stuffed pancakes with garlic chives 韭菜盒子

A simple dough and some tasty garlic chives filling make really good stuffed pancakes or pasties. This is a classic Chinese snack called jiu chai hur zi 韭菜盒子. In Chinese it means garlic chive box, box being the pastry. This snack is one I like to make for weekend brunch, simple and filling.

What is garlic chive or jiu chai 韭菜? It's a vegetable similar to spring onion (scallion) but the green 'leaf' part is flat not hollow like spring onion. Here is a picture if you have never seen it before. This herb/vegetable has strong smell (especially when cut) between a garlic and spring onion. I have tried growing them in the garden but they never grow as tall as those bought. The young flower shoots are edible sweeter and more tender. Most Chinese grocery stores will stock garlic chives. Koreans love it a lot too. One tip for anyone buying and storing this vegetable, if the leafy part looks bruised and damp don't buy, it will rot very quickly, or if you have forgotten it in the fridge and it is rotting away, it will stink of high heaven. Another thing many of you may not know, if you have flies around your house, these little buggers will hover around your kitchen once you start cutting garlic chives. The strong smell will attract lots of them from nowhere.

Here is the recipe how to make this tasty pastry snack.

Ingredients: (will make 16 large crescents or round filled pancakes, or 32 pcs half size crescents)


500g plain flour (all purpose)+ a little extra if required + some for dusting and rolling
1 tsp salt
250ml boiling water
1 tbsp cooking oil
about 50 - 60ml cold water


about 250g minced pork (ground pork), or chicken or turkey
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2 - 3 tsp light soy
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder (optional)
pinch of ground pepper

3 large or 4 small eggs, beaten

1 small bundle (about 40 - 50g) of glass noodles or mung bean thread

250 - 300g garlic chives, if you cannot find garlic chives you can sub with spring onion

some cooking oil for filling and frying the stuffed pancakes

* many traditional recipes also add dried baby shrimps called sia pee or shrimp skin 蝦皮. Similar to dried shrimps but made from dried newly born shrimps with shell and head on. Like this. I could not find this at the grocery store, so I just leave it out.

  • Put the plain flour in a large mixing bowl. Measure one cup (250ml) of boiling water stir in the salt and oil. Then pour this hot liquid all over the flour while stirring with a pair of chopstick or spoon. The dough will become lumpy with some dry flour left. Then gradually pour some cold water little at a time while stirring to evenly mix the dry flour into the dough. When you see little or no more dry flour left, stop adding more cold water. No need to knead, cover and leave the dough to cool down for about 15 minutes. Then knead till smooth, if the dough is sticky add some more dry flour to bind. Leave the dough to rest for another 5 - 10 minutes.
  • To make the filling. Soak the glass noodles till softened, drain off water and chop. Add some oil to wok/pan heat till smoking, pour in the beaten egg. Stir, scramble and chop the egg till dry and separated. Remove and leave aside. Add a bit more oil, fry the garlic then add minced pork, stir till cooked through. Seasoned with light soy, salt, chicken stock powder and pinch of pepper. Leave egg and pork to cool. Rinse the garlic chives, shake off any excess water then chopped into 0.5cm wide bits. When the pork and egg are cooled mix in the garlic chives and glass noodles.
  • Divide the dough into 2 equal halves. Roll into a 1" sausage shape. Cut into 8 equal pieces. Repeat the division with the other half of the dough. Total 16 pcs. You can also cut each small piece into halves for smaller or round stuffed pancakes or pasties. You can make big stuffed pancakes about the size of your palm or small dainty ones.
  • Coat the dough pieces generously with dry flour. Set aside and cover to prevent drying out.
  • Dust the working area with flour. Take a piece of dough, flatten it then roll into a thin round disc about 11 - 12 cm diameter. Put some filling on one side and fold the empty side over to make a crescent. You can lightly dampen the edge with water if required. Using fingers press the edges together. You can use a fork to press the edge to seal. To crimp the edge , gentle lift up the filled pancakes onto your palm. pinch the edge to seal then crimp.
  • You can also make them into round shapes. Take two pieces of same size dough roll them into two equal round discs. Put filling on one. Put the other piece on top. Press to seal the edge. Then either seal with a fork or lift it up and crimp the edge.
  • Fry the pancakes using a griddle pan or a large fying pan. You can fry without any oil or brush the pan with oil or add few tbsp of oil to pan or I like to brush the pancakes with oil first not the pan, less oily smoke during frying. To brush the stuffed pancakes with oil, put one on you hand brush one side lightly with oil lower this onto the hot pan with oily side down. Prick the top (with cocktail stick) a few tiny holes to let out any trapped air. Brush the top with a little oil. When the bottom is golden brown, flip over and fry the other side.
  • Continue frying the other pieces. Can either cover the cooked ones with clean tea towel or keep in a cool warm to keep warm.
** If you don't mind the greasiness use more oil to fry, the pastry will be more crunchy.

Eaten as a snack on its own or dip with some chilli oil or chill sauce. Nice when hot or warm . If you have any left over can keep in the fridge, lightly dampen with water and reheat in a dry frying pan or reheat in the microwave.

Here is another similar stuffed pancake recipe.