Category Archives: Chinese

homemade bak chang

Bak chang. This is on my to-make list for a long long time. This recipe is in my bookmark for three years! After much procrastinations, I finally made it!

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They were not really that difficult to make. Preparation was a breeze, the tough part was wrapping of the dumplings! And tying! I roped in our helper to help me with the wrapping. We watched the step-by-step wrapping process on youtube countless times and the lady in the video made it seems so easy. But it is not as easy as it looks! Not easy at all! If the steps are not done properly, the filling will burst out from the bamboo wrappers while being boiled. Well, we had our fair share of wrapping disaster.

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For beginners, I reckoned we did pretty well. There were many dumplings that didn’t make the cut in terms of looks and a few burst out of the wrappers, but taste wise, they were good (that’s according to C and our neighbour).

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Will I make them again? Probably not! Since they are easily available in Singapore, all year round. I’ll just buy them from the shop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbest eaten with sriracha and a cup of chinese tea

I followed this recipe from Bread et Butter to a T. You can find the recipe here if you want to challenge yourself in making bak chang. Good luck!

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{e cooks} char siew

When we came back from Hong Kong, the hubs said he miss the char siew in Hong Kong. The char siew that he is referring to is not from any restaurant but rather from a stall in the wet market. We walked pass this stall everyday en route to the MTR station. I guess the strips and strips of char siew hanging in the stall must have gotten the hubs attention as he went to buy us HKD 50 worth of char siew and siew yoke as a pre dinner snacks. The char siew and siew yoke were actually quite good. The hubs loves the char siew especially.

20140513-230723.jpgThe hubs has been going on and on about the char siew he had in Hong Kong ever since we got back and I remembered reading somewhere about using the happycall pan to make char siew. I wasted no time and he got himself a platter of char siew for dinner 🙂

If you have all the time in the world, you can pop them in the oven. If you crave for it badly and you can’t wait, or you have an active baby like me, happycall version is just as good 🙂

Char Siew

2 pieces of pork collar (approximately 300g each)
4 tbsp light soya sauce
2 tbsp dark soya sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp shaoxing wine
2 tbsp honey
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil

1. Marinate the pork collar for at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Remove from the fridge half and hour before cooking.
3. Heat up the happycall pan.
4. Once the pan is hot, place the marinated pork in the pan and lock the lid. Cook for 5 minutes.
5. Turn the meat, lock and cook for another 5 minutes.
6. Open the lid and baste the pork with the marinade.
7. Cook until the sauce becomes sticky and the pork is cook through.
8. Dish the pork out and let it rest before slicing.
9. Meanwhile, cook the leftover sauce from the marinade until thickens.
10. Slice the pork and serve with rice, noodle, pau or eat it just like that.

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{e cooks} claypot chicken rice

With an active baby in the house, dinner these days is a simple affair. Sandwiches, wraps, soup noodles or takeaways. If I do cook, it will be something simple. One pot meal is the best.

This is by far one of our favourite. The chicken and rice cooks at the same time in one pot from which you can eat straightaway (read: less dishes to wash). I’ve cooked chicken rice the traditional way before. Compare to that, this is SO easy and they taste almost the same!

The hubs who is not a fan of chicken rice couldn’t stop eating this. So if it’s good for the hubs, it’s good for everyone! 🙂

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Claypot Chicken Rice
* I did not follow any recipe. This is based on estimation.

4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
6-8 shallots, chopped (I used one small onion as I do not have shallots)
6-7 slices ginger, minced (only if you like bits of ginger in the rice)
2-3 pandan leaves, knotted (I do not have it at hand, so I omitted)
2 cups rice, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 – 1 3/4 chicken stock (depending how soft you want the rice to be)
pinch of salt
2-3 tbsp oil
1 knob butter

2 chicken thighs, chop into pieces or leave it whole (marinate with few pinches of salt, few pinches of sugar, dash of light soya sauce, dash of shaoxing wine and dash of sesame oil for 15-30 minutes)

1. Heat up oil and butter  in claypot. Add in garlic, shallots and ginger. Sautéed until fragrant.
2. Add in rinsed rice and mix well with the oil.
3. Pour in chicken stock and give it a few stir. Arrange pandan leaves (if have) and chicken pieces on top of the rice (do not overlap the chicken).
4. Bring it to a boil and cover. Turn to the lowest heat and let the rice cook until it has absorbed all the liquid.
5. Once chicken and rice are cooked, turn off the heat and let stand for 10-15 minutes covered. (To check doneness of chicken, use a chopstick and insert at the thickest part of the chicken. If the juice runs clear, the chicken is done)
6. Garnish and serve with sauce.

** If you do not have a claypot, you can use a rice cooker. After step 2, transfer all the ingredients into the rice cooker and cook as per normal.

Chili Sauce
5-6 red chilis
2 chili padi (more if you like spicy)
3-4 cloves garlic
1 piece 1 cm thick ginger
a handful coriander (optional)
juice of 1 lime/lemon (to taste)
1 tsp fish sauce (to taste)
pinch of salt and sugar (to taste)

Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend away.

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Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Sambal Stuffed Fish

On my last trip back to Penang, I was enticed by this deliciously lip-smacking sambal fish while having breakfast with my mum. They were arranged neatly at the Economy Rice stall waiting to be picked and regrettably I left without having any. Fast forward to few weeks later, the image of the sambal fish keeps flashes beyond me and I knew I had to do something about it. That was when I came across this recipe from Rasa Malaysia. Whenever it comes to cooking, I always look for simple recipes. But this recipe is totally the opposite. You have to make the rempah (spice) from scratch and that’s what I dread the most.

Oh well,  if you want something, you have to make it work right? Put on the apron, gathered all the ingredients and started blending the ingredients together. Making sambal is not as difficult as I initially thought, it’s quite an easy task. But there are two things you have to take note:- the pungent smell of the fried chillies will make you sneeze (which is good for nose-clearing ;)) and the whole kitchen including yourself will smell of belachan. It took me a few days to have the kitchen properly rid off the smell but until today there’s still some smell lingering on. Anyone has any ideas how to completely get rid of the smell?

I was quite happy with the sambal but not so with fish. I used Happycall to fry the fish and it turned out to be moist and a bit watery. It lacked the fried fish texture, just different from what I remembered. I’m not sure what went wrong. Could it be because of the pan (first time using Happycall) or could it be the sambal too watery? I brought this to my neighbour’s house for dinner and they loved it including the hubs. Me however was not satisfied.

So, I decided to make it again for the neighbour’s birthday bbq. This time round, I fried the sambal a little longer until it’s drier and we fried the stuffed fish using a pan on the bbq pit 🙂 Verdict? It’s bree-lee-ant!! So much better than the first attempt. Taste wise and texture wise is almost similar to those selling outside except that it’s a wee bit too spicy. The hubs kept saying that I am crazy to use so much chili. Hehe. I guess I have to omit the chili padi next time 🙂

I can’t wait to make this for my mum. She loves this! And her late mum aka my grandma makes one of the best sambal stuffed fish. Mum, I’ll make for you one day. But for now, just look at the photos and gian! 😛

Sambal Stuffed Fish 

2 hardtail mackerel (ikan cincaru)

Sambal

3 fresh red chilies
5 dried chilies
2 chili padi (for more oomph :))
10-12 shallots
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp belacan (I used belachan powder)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tablespoon tamarind pulp, soak in 1/4 cup water, extract juice and discard pulps
1/4 cup oil

1. Clean fish throughly. Using a sharp knife, cut a deep slit from the back of the fish along the bone. Repeat the same on the other side of the fish.
2. Blend the spice paste with a mini food processor.
3. Heat up wok with 3 tbsp oil, add in spice paste and stir-fry with low heat until aromatic. Add tamarind juice and continue to stir-fry until the spice paste is smooth and not overly runny. Season to taste with salt and sugar. Dish out and let cool.
3. Stuff the spice paste into the fish on both sides of the slit and also inside the fish stomach.
4. Heat up 1/4 cup oil in a wok, deep fry the fish until cooked. Serve immediately.

Stir Fried Yam Bean (Bang Kuang Char)

The smell and sight of this dish always brings me back to my grandma’s kitchen especially during Chinese New Year. Come every Chinese New Year, my grandma will turn into a super woman. She will single handedly whip up a sumptuous reunion dinner for the whole family. She was still cooking when she was in her 80’s! I really do appreciate what my grandma has done for the family. She was never a good cook, or should I say she has never cook before until she married my grandfather (she has a few servants serving her when she was a young girl). I remember my mum once telling me that my grandma’s cooking really cannot make it but that was in the past. Now she tops the list of best cook imo. She honed her skills from cooking show and referring to recipe books which are mainly in Chinese and she is English educated!! Grandma is getting old now (real old), she has since hung up her apron.

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Okay, back to the dish. I’m sure many of you are familiar with this dish which is commonly served during Chinese New Year. Yam bean or colloquially known as bang kuang/mang kuang amongst Chinese in Malaysia is a root vegetable that looks like turnip. Yam bean can also be eaten raw (smear with rojak sauce and sprinkle with crushed peanuts-Oh My!) with a crunchy texture and taste somewhat like water chestnut. For this dish, all the ingredients need to be in julienne. You can either julienne them by hand or use a mandoline (if you are feeling lazy). Grandma always julienne the ingredients by hand. She said the strips will have a firmer texture as compared to using a mandoline. She will julienne the yam bean one after another until wee hours in the morning. Trust me, I know how tiring it is to cut them into fine equal strips and I’m only cooking for two. What more for grandma when she has three generations to feed!!

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Stir Fried Yam Bean (Bang Kuang Char)

1 medium Yam bean, julienned
1 carrot, julienned
5-6 shitake mushroom, soaked and finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2tbsp cooking oil

Seasoning
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp soya sauce
1/2 tsp salt
200ml water

1. Heat up 2 tbsp oil in the wok and saute garlic until fragrant.
2. Add carrot and stir fry for a few minutes. Then follow by yam bean and mushroom. Fry for a few minutes.
3. Pour in the seasoning and mix until well combined. Cover with lid and simmer on medium heat. Stir occasionally until yam bean and carrot becomes soft and slightly dry. It takes approximately 30-40 minutes.
4. Adjust to taste.
5. Dish up and serve with lettuce and sambal belachan. Or you could use as filling for pie tee.

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Crispy Pork

Crispy pork, Siu Yuk (Cantonese) or Sio Bak (Hokkien) literally means burn the meat. In most Chinese household, Siu Yuk will be featured during special occasions eg Chinese New Year, Qing Ming (all soul’s day) as an offering for prayers. In my family, during Qing Ming, without fail, Siu Yuk will be offered to my late grandparents. I’m not sure what the significant is but it sure does feed the hungry family members – US! Haha! Once my late grandparents have “finish their meal”, the feast for us begins. We will have breakfast at the graveyard (think: picnic at an inappropriate setting) consuming whatever food that is offered to my late grandparents. Well, no prize for guessing what everyone is eyeing on! My aunt will always bring a knife along and yes, it is for the Siu Yuk. Talking about pre-empting here! Haha 😀

Anyway, few weeks ago, while at the market with the husband, I casually asked if he wants to have Siu Yuk for dinner and to my surprise, he said Yes! For the benefits of those who do not know the husband, he is a salad and sandwich guy! Boring eh! So, off we went to get a slab of pork belly from the butcher – 2kg for 20 over dollars. The husband thought it was expensive. I’m not sure what the market rate is but one thing is for sure, it definitely cost more than 20 bucks for a 2 kg Siu Yuk!

Homemade Siu Yuk may sound daunting but it’s not rocket science, it is a lot easier than you’d imagined. It’s all about getting the marinade right and the skin REAL dry. The first time I made this I got the steps mixed up. The skin was crispy when it’s fresh from the oven but it gets tough after a while. This time round, I made sure I followed the steps to the dot and I did an extra step. I read from somewhere that the trick to super crispy skin is to char the skin and then using a serrated knife to scrape off the charred bits. The result? Amazingly crispy skin, not even a tad of chewiness! I was happy with the end product and so did the salad and sandwich husband!! 🙂

If you are interested, here’s the recipe for the Non-Rocket Science Crispy Pork:-

Ingredients

2 kg pork belly, with rind on
2 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp Chinese rice wine vinegar

Marinade

2-2.5 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2-3 pieces red fermented bean curd
½ tbsp five spice powder
½ tbsp chopped garlic

1. Mix all the marinade in a bowl and set aside.
2. Clean the pork belly thoroughly, scrapes the skin with a knife to get rid of any impurities or hair. Pat dry all over with a kitchen towel.
3. Score the meat (horizontally & diagonally). Do not score the skin.
4. Rub the skin with sea salt all over. Pat dry.
5. Rub the marinade evenly onto the meat right into the incisions. (Do not rub the marinade onto the skin)
6. Marinate for about 30 minutes or longer.
7. Roast the marinated pork belly with skin side up in a preheated oven at 220C for 20 minutes.
(Using a roasting tin, I put some water in the tin and placed the pork belly on the rack. The water helps the meat to be tender and moist, while allowing the oil to drip for easy cleaning)
8. Remove from oven and prick all over the skin with a fork. (The more pricks the better. More blisters will appear on the skin)
9. Brush the skin with rice wine vinegar.
10. Return to the oven and roast with skin side up at 250C for another 20.
11. Change the oven mode to grill, and grill the pork belly with skin side up for a further 5-10 minutes.
12. Keep an eye on the pork belly, do not over charred it.
13. Remove and let the pork rest for 15-20 minutes. Using a serrated knife, scrape off the charred bits.
14. Using a large knife, chop (do not slice) the pork into bite sized.
15. Eat to your heart’s content!!!

Green Bean Soup

This is one of the easiest and fastest desserts to make if your sugar cravings hit. No prior preparations are needed, just boil a pot of water, throw in the green beans and let it boil away. This dessert has a cooling effect on the body which makes it a suitable treat for the unending hot weather in Singapore. A chilled bowl of green bean soup on a super hot day spells perfection! I am not exaggerating but I always feel good after a bowl of chilled dessert. I always add sago (tapioca pearls) into the soup as I simply love the texture and they add a nice touch to the green soup 🙂

Whilst waiting for the beans to cook, I did a quick search on the benefits of green beans and these are what I found..

  • Green beans are low in cholesterol and high in soluble dietary fibers.
  • Green beans contain protease inhibitors which slow the replication of certain cancer cells including those found in breast cancer.
  • They have low glycemic index (GI), which are diabetic friendly food.
  • They are high in protein.
Now, go on and make this healthy dessert for yourself and your loved ones. Here’s the recipe:-

Green Bean Soup

¾ rice bowl of green beans, rinsed and drained
2 pandan leaves, washed and tied into a knot
1.5 litres of water
Rock sugar, to taste
A handful of sago pearls, cooked separately

1. Bring a pot of water to boil, add in pandan leaves and green beans.
2. Boil on medium heat for 15-20 minutes until the beans open up. Top up with water if needed.
3. Add in rock sugar (to taste) and cooked sago pearls.
4. Serve warm or chill.

To cook sago pearls

Bring a small pot water to boil, add in sago and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, with lid on, let the sago stand for another 10 minutes to cook on its own until all the sago turns translucent. Pour the cooked sago onto a sieve and let it run under running water to remove excess starch. Set aside.