Prawns with Red Fermented Beancurd

Friday, 30 October 2009

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Most people use the words prawn and shrimp interchangeably, or think shrimps are small prawns and prawns are big shrimps. To add to the confusion, some countries use one or the other terminology almost exclusively. In the UK, Australia and Singapore, for instance, prawn is far more common but Americans prefer shrimp.

Tamarind Pork

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

PhotobucketI love Chinese food, and I love Malay food. So it's no wonder that Nyonya dishes that combine the best of these two great cuisines are my perennial favourites.

Babi assam – meaning tamarind pork – is a prime example of how the Straits Chinese or Peranakans combine Chinese and Malay flavours.

Fermented soya beans from China are melded with common Malay ingredients – tamarind, shrimp paste and chillies – in a slow, long simmer.

Steamed Pork Ribs with Fermented Black Beans

Thursday, 15 October 2009

One of my favourite dishes is steamed pork ribs with fermented black beans, a standard item at dim sum restaurants. But I don't like ordering it when I'm on a Sunday dim sum pig-out, because I like to eat it with rice. All that savory, fragrant and umami goodness from the ribs just begs to drench a bowl of steaming white rice! But I can't have rice during a dim sum pig-out because it would take away tummy space for the other goodies, right?

*sigh . . .*

Roasted Eggplant with Sweet Miso – Nobu's Recipe

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

PhotobucketSo, I was saying yesterday I had two more enormous eggplants in t1he fridge. Well, there's none left now. I've cooked both with the leftover miso paste which I had used to make Miso Cod. I was going to leave one but I was afraid it might get cold and lonely in the fridge . . . haha. I was wondering if I made too much but after I tasted a piece of the slightly charred eggplant, the thought flew out the window. It was mmm mmm mmm mmm MM! The miso enriched with mirin, sake and sugar was awesome with the smoky, lightly burnt eggplant! It was much more distinct than in the Miso Cod dish since eggplants have a more neutral taste compared to cod. I was planning on keeping some for tomorrow – baked eggplants are delicious cold – but before I knew it, I was wiping the last drop of miso from the plate with the last bit of eggplant! As I savoured the final morsel of sweet and soft eggplant, I suddenly remembered Mum used to make steamed eggplants dressed with Chinese fermented soya beans. I must say this Nobu version is much better. I think the mirin, sake and sugar orchestrate a rounder and more mellow flavour compared to Chinese fermented soya beans performing solo. I'm definitely getting more eggplants for a Japanese encore.

Check these out:
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Bitter Melon
Soup with Chicken
Stir Fried Eggplant
with Chicken
Sichuan Spicy
Kung Pao Prawns
Chai Poh (Preserved
Turnip) Omelette

Prawns with Salted Egg Yolks

Friday, 25 September 2009

PhotobucketSome dishes are so easy, it doesn't make sense to order them when eating out. Might as well save the money for something that's really complicated or has some secret recipe which can't be replicated at home, right?

Prawns with salted egg yolks is one such easy peasy dish. It doesn't take a genius to guess what the ingredients are. Nor does it require a great chef or domestic god(dess) to pull the ingredients together into a great tasting dish. Any home cook with minimal kitchen skills can do the job adequately.

Date and Walnut Soft Candy

Thursday, 24 September 2009

PhotobucketI used to cart loads of date and walnut soft candy back to Singapore whenever I went to Hong Kong. So did a lot of other people. Everyone loved the soft and chewy candy wrapped in colourful cellophane.

By and by, shops in Singapore started selling date and walnut soft candy, so everyone could have as much as they wanted, whenever they wanted.

Being so easily obtainable made them less desirable, I think, and they sort of went out of fashion.

No-Steam Chinese Turnip/Radish Cake – Lor Bak Ko

Saturday, 19 September 2009

PhotobucketI got hold of Jacky Yu's cookbooks a few days ago, and have been poring over his recipes as bedtime reading. Who's Jacky Yu (余健志)? He's chef extraordinaire from Hong Kong and founder of Xi Yan Private Dining Restaurant. Famed for his originality in contemporary Chinese cuisine, Jacky Yu combines ingredients and techniques across different regions in China, South-East Asia and Japan. His signature dish is Chicken in Hot and Spicy Sauce (口水鸡), a traditional Sichuan cold chicken dish which he has made famous by adding century eggs. You know where he gets his creativity from? His mother! That's right, his mother is also quite inventive, so it's all in the genes. According to the son, Mum's Turnip Pancake (妈妈萝卜餅) was invented by his mother. Of all the recipes in his three cookbooks, this is the only one he attributes to Mrs Yu. That's gotta mean it's good, right? I must say it sounds quite original. The recipe's like Lor Bak Ko (萝卜糕) but it doesn't involve steaming, and has glutinous rice flour added. Usually, Lor Bak Ko is made with only rice flour, without any glutinous rice flour. And it's steamed, then pan-fried when it's cold. I reread Mrs Yu's recipe in both Chinese and English (the cookbooks are bilingual) to make sure there wasn't a mistake. Nope, it says 'Scoop turnip batter onto pan. Fry until both sides are browned.' It goes on to explain that the amount of glutinous rice flour should be 1.5 times plain rice flour. Like mother, like son; both of them break rules.

I woke up this morning and decided to try Jacky Yu's Mum's Turnip Pancake. That's what happens when I spend a couple of hours reading cookbooks before going to bed. Also makes me hungry late at night, but that's another story. So, does the recipe work? Is it good? Yes, it works. Yes, it's very, very good, and different. It's like a cross: 80% Cantonese Lor Bak Ko and 20% Nian Gao (年糕). Inside, it's soft, smooth and just a wee bit sticky and chewy. Outside, it's way, way more crispy than normal steam-and-fry Lor Bak Ko. Eaten piping hot, it goes C-R-U-N-C-H when I bite into it. For me, that's the killer part. I've never had steam-and-fry Lor Bak Ko that's so crispy. From now on, it's bye-bye traditional Lor Bak Ko and hello Mum's Turnip Pancake. Next Chinese New Year, I'm having Mum's Turnip Pancake and renaming it Lor Bak Nian Gao. Saves me the trouble of having both Lor Bak Ko and Nian Gao, which are traditionally eaten during the Chinese Spring Festival.

18 February 2010 update – here's a photo of the nian gao I bought for the Chinese New Year:



Check these out:
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Spareribs with
Fermented Black
Bans
Char Siu Pau
(Roast Pork Buns)
Yam Kueh
Kong! Bak! Pau!