Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hakka Rice Cooker Salt Baked Chicken 客家盐焗鸡

Asian Style Christmas Bird?

Few months ago my eldest brother sent me an email introducing the Salted Chicken which was a trademark of Hakka Cuisine. This dish reminded him of the salted steamed rice wine chicken (客家盐酒鸡) our mum used to cook for the Chinese New Year eve dinner when we were kids. Ever since our mum suffered from Alzheimer's and was admitted to a nursery care, we no longer had the chance to taste this dish. We missed that unique home brewed sweet rice wine flavored chicken. The sticky rice wine (自酿米酒) was home brewed by our mum. Her rice wine was popular among our relatives and friends for use in home cooking, especially well sought after in the Chinese after birth confinement diet。But it is sad I no longer have the chance to learn from my mother L

Seeing me getting interested in cooking and started off this food blog, my brother suggested me to learn up our Hakka cuisine and shared in this blog too. I reckoned this was a good idea and started to surf for related Hakka recipes, and then I came across this creative and modern way of making Hakka salted chicken.

The traditional Hakka cooking method used parchment paper to wrap up a whole chicken, then buried it in a wok full of fried coarse salt and simmered till it was cooked; very arduous. This one however requires only a rice cooker to do the magic. This lazy people way of salt baking may not show the true flavor of Hakka Salted Chicken but it is surely a simple and healthy way to cook a chicken without compromising much on the taste.

Because I had a small rice cooker, I could only cook size 9, chicken. Instead of the whole chicken you can also opt for parts such as drumsticks or wings. I had attempted using chicken, wings and drumsticks. They all tasted flavorsome and not greasy. I served this chicken with Hainanese chicken rice. Of course no chicken rice is complete without the special chicken rice chilies, isn't it? J

Hakka Salt Baked Chicken 客家盐焗鸡 - Featured in Group Recipes 30/12/2010
This year, we celebrated our Christmas at Hahei Camp site with limited utensil and a very basic kitchen; I had used this recipe to make our very own Asian style Christmas birds for our Christmas dinner. J

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tang Yuan (Sweet Glutinous dumplings) 汤圆

Yesterday 22nd December was what we Chinese call 冬 至which is translated in Englih as Winter Solstice. On this day in Northern hemisphere is the shortest day and longest night but we over in the Southern hemisphere experience the longest day and the shortest night of the year instead. Chinese believe after today the day will get longer and longer and this generates"Yang qi" a.ka. Positive forces so it should be celebrated. Hence, to some Chinese especially those in the mainland China, celebration for this day is even more important than the Chinese New Year (冬至大过年). If you are keen to find out more on the history, I will leave it to the experts to do the explanation, here's the link.

Frankly I didn't understand the reason of celebration until I wrote this post. What in my memory since I was a small kid was on this day my mum would make Tang Yuan (glutinous dumplings) and asked us to eat. She said once we ate the Tang Yuan then we would get older by a year. I couldn't believe I did buy her saying when I was small and ate as many as I could so I could grow up faster. But I doubt I would want to eat any now if the saying is true! J

Tang Yuan (Sweet Glutinous dumplings)  汤圆
There are mainly two types of Tang Yuan one with filling and another without, which was the one I used to eat since I was small. Tang Yuan is not difficult to make at all, in fact it is the easiest Chinese dessert to make. Still, we got it wrong for the first time when I made this with hubby.

The first year when we were married, we did not go back to home town to celebrate with our parents. Hence, he suggested making Tang Yuan on our own as he is a Tang Yuan fan. At that time I had little knowledge about cooking. I wasn't sure what flour to use for the Tang Yuan and suggested to ask mother-in-law for advice, but JS said he knew how to make it. I still could recall we spent whole night kneading the dough, added coloring to the dough and kneaded into many nice colorful round balls, but when we boiled them, the rice balls could not float even after being boiled for a long time (cooked Tang Yuan would float). In the end we realized we had produced a whole pot of bouncy rice balls instead of sticky chewy Tang Yuan, but why?

Then we decided to give my mother-in-law a call to find out why. Only then we realized we had used the wrong flour to make Tang Yuan! We had used rice flour instead of glutinous flour! This is the biggest joke that I always tease him all the time. How bouncy the rice balls we had you might ask? If you run out of ping pong balls then you can try to make this as replacement J

Well, this time with Auntie Ah Lan around, we won't end up with bouncy rice balls, in fact we get to enjoy the real authentic Malaysian style Tang Yuan, nice round glutinous dumplings in sweet rock sugar soup. This recipe that I'm sharing is without filling, which is very basic and can be prepared anytime of the year not necessarily on winter solstice.

Actually to the Chinese, Tang Yuan with its round shape symbolizes reunion which is why it is also one of the main desserts served during Chinese New Year when all family members get together in a family reunion. Besides, it is also served on wedding day. The groom and bride customarily must feed each other Tang Yuan and they are not allowed to chew the dumplings, instead they are asked to shallow whole so the rice balls would remain intact to symbolize togetherness.

 For firmer and chewy texture of Tang Yuan, best knead the Tang Yuan in advance and left overnight to rest.

Making Tang Yuan is also a great bonding time, the kids especially love the idea of kneading the rice dough because kneading the glutinous rice dough is similar to play-doh, and you can see how Ming Ray enjoyed his Tang Yuan play-doh with his auntie.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kuih Sago( Steamed Tapioca Pearls Cakes) 椰丝西米糕 - Featured in Group Recipes

Wanna a slice of gluten free sweet and chewy Nyonya kuih?

This is another blissfully easy and delicious Nyonya kuih recipe, Kuih Sago. Sago, also known as Tapioca Pearls, is made of tapioca. Tapioca Pearls is one of the common South East Asian dessert ingredients, widely used in Malay, Nyonya and Thai desserts.

This recipe was verbally taught by a Malaysian cashier whom I met at my regular Asian grocery store. It happened that one day she showed me the kuih which she made for her colleague as birthday treat and asked me what the proper name was for the kuih in Malaysia which she couldn't recall. I was of no help to her as I had no idea what the name for that kuih was. But since she said the main ingredient was sago, I guessed it must be Kuih Sago. She mentioned that the kuih was super easy to make, just "mix and steam", so it prompted me to give it a trial.

I made this last Saturday and brought over as dessert to our regular Penang families dinner gathering. I used green Pandan flavor sago. Alternatively you can use white sago added with some coloring.

These snowballs like of luscious gluten free kuih , can be a unique Christmas dessert recipe too.
Kuih Sago 椰丝西米糕 - Featured in Group Recipes 21/12/2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Yum Hoi Mang-Pu (Thai Mussel Salad) 泰式青口沙拉 - Featured in Group Recipes

Spice up with this healthy fresh flavor with a snap of fingers!

"Yum" is a type of salad in Thai cuisine. Speaking of Yum, I would never forget this super hot and spicy Thai signature appetizer, which I had in Phucket, Thailand some years ago. To Malaysian standard, I'm considered highly tolerant with spicy food. However, the explosive taste of the yum talay (Seafood salad) we got from the street vendor had incredibly blew my head off; it was so spicy it made my eyes water, my nose run and my head sweat! Well, I guess this is the true Thai way of serving Yum, to feature the bold Thai flavors J

Only 3 main steps to prepare this no fuss starter, merely toss in all cooked seafood, seasoned with salty fish sauce, zested up with sour lime juice and topped with fresh herbs of coriander, mints, shallots, sliced onions, tomatoes and last but not least the main gem that spices up the whole dish, the bird eyes chilies. With all these ingredients mixed well , just dish and serves! :-)

There are many variations of Yum Talay, you can make any combination of seafood that you have on hands like poached squids, shrimps, scallops and other shellfish.

Yum Hoi Mang-Pu (Thai Mussel Salad) 泰式青口沙拉 - featured 17/12/2010
Even though Yum was generally served as starter but we made it into a sumptuous main dish for our dinner. For this recipe, I used mussels and squids.  As for the herbs, fresh from my garden to table J
Fresh coriander and mints from my garden

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Stir Fry Water Spinach (Pak Bung Fai Daeng) 酱炒蕹菜 - Featured in Group Recipes

Flying Water spinach?

Water spinach a.k.a. Morning Glory is known as Kangkung in Malay. This vegetable is easily available in South East Asia (SEA) and is considered one of the cheapest vegetables as it thrives naturally with little care. I was surprised to find this vegetable here in Auckland. Recently, the price for this vegetable dropped drastically; I suppose the warm weather of summer is the main factor for the abundance supply of this veggie.

There are a few renowned street foods in SEA which feature this vegetable. Malay Cuisine has a dish called Sambal Belacan Kangkung (Chili Shrimp paste stir fried water spinach). As for Thai the signature dish for water spinach is Pak Bung Fai Daeng (Stir-Fried Red Fire Water Spinach), which is Thai's most popular way of stir frying the water spinach. I reckon the dish must be so ordinary and simple that inspires some of the Thai street vendors to come out with more entertaining idea in stir frying the dish in an acrobatic way by literally "flying" it in the process of serving the dish. You can check out this Flying Morning Glory in YouTube.

Well, with the electric coil stove in my kitchen, I couldn't fire up my wok in red flame and the kitchen was too small for me to demonstrate the flying dish, yet it still tasted delectable nevertheless. J

Stir Fry Water Spinach (Pak Bung Fai Daeng) 酱炒蕹菜 - Featured for Dec 15th

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bak Chang (Savoury Rice Dumpling) 咸肉粽子 - Featured in Group Recipes

I know now is not the right time to introduce glutinous rice dumpling, as Dumpling festival
(端午節) which traditionally is celebrated in June (fifth day of the fifth month on the Chinese lunar calendar) was long overdue. However, since we migrated to NZ we didn't have a chance to eat nice Malaysian made Bak Chang (in Hokkien) a.k.a. zhong Zhi粽子.

Even though we could get sticky rice dumplings here in Asian shops but they were mostly Mainland China flavoured, the taste was very much different from the Malaysian style savoury rice dumplings. Thanks to my Taiwanese classmate Lily and Linda, I got to taste Taiwanese flavour bak chang too. Nevertheless, we still missed Penang Nyonya bak chang, especially those made by Ray's auntie. Hubby loves her bak chang very much, he can wallop 4 sticky rice dumplings in one go!

With Chef Ah Lan around, of course Bak Chang was one of the long overdue order placed with herJ. Even though this was not rice dumplings time, we still managed to get the right ingredients to make them. I suppose this sticky rice dumpling has been blended in our daily meal and no longer served as seasonal meal.

Bak Chang (Savoury Rice Dumpling) 咸肉粽子- Featured for Dec 10th
To many, the making of Bak Chang is rated at difficult level, especially on the wrapping and tying parts. The wrapping method involves making 2 sheets of bamboo leaves into a cone shape, stuffing in the fillings and wrapped into pyramid shape and finally secured with hemp. It is really not as easy as it sounds. If any one of the steps isn't done properly, then the bak chang will slip open while being boiled. I had attempted to wrap 5 dumplings and had one fell out. L But as a beginner with passing rate of 80%, I reckoned it was not a bad start after all, wasn't it? I believe practice makes perfect, I hope gradually I will master it.

Below is the video clip showing the making process and the right technique of wrapping bak chang.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kuih Talam (Coconut Tray Cake) 娘惹香草糕 - Featured in Group Recipes

Microwave Kuih Talam?

This is another classic Nyonya dessert. Kuih is a common local Malaysian word for all Nyonya and Malay desserts. This popular kuih not only is one of Malaysian all-time breakfast favorite but also serves as great party snacks. This steamed coconut flavor rich dessert comes with top white layer made from coconut milk and rice flour and the bottom green layer is made from rice and mung bean flour with natural green coloring extract from pandan leaves a.k.a screw pine leaves.

The instruction in the original recipe suggested cooking time of 1 hour, requiring slow simmering or double boiling in the kuih thickening process before steaming. I reckoned this traditional way of thickening process was quite time consuming. It struck my mind whether I could adopt the same microwave method that I applied in coconut egg jam, Kaya making to speed up the process.

I gave it a try with the microwave method on my first tray. My first attempt was not as impressive as I was trying to find out the right time required to microwave-cook the batter to the right concentration before placing it into steaming tray for steaming. I over heated the green layer resulting in the green layer batter was over thickened and lumpy.

However, since I had another half tin of coconut cream to experiment further, I proceeded with my second attempt. This time I knew that I shouldn't heat the green batter for more than 4 minutes in total and each session no more than 1 minute. It should be stirred constantly after every time it is taken out from the microwave. As for the white coconut cream batter, it only took about 2 minutes to thicken. I repeat the heating process more often with last minute at 30 seconds interval. The result, as can be seen from the photo, is a nicer smoother batter for both the green and white layers. J

I didn't expect my little picky boy appreciate this classic kuih so much.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Too Thor Th'ng (Pig Maw Soup) 猪肚汤 - Featured in Group Recipes

Nyonya Cuisine – Part 4

I hope the title won't put you off straight away. I know not many people dare to consume animal offal. I shy away from most of the organ parts such as liver, intestines too. But for pig maw (pig stomach) it can be really nutritious especially for Chinese women after giving birth. During month long of confinement period, pig stomach soup a.k.a. "Too Thor Th'ng" in Hokkien is one of their main dishes to consume. As the Chinese believes eating different parts of animal will benefit the corresponding parts of our body (以形朴形). Hence, eating pig's stomach is supposed to 'replenish' the stomach of women who have just given birth. This pig maw soup is another Penang Nyonya delicacy. This soup is also one of the signature soups served during Chinese New Year.

Initially, I thought only Chinese eats pig stomach. In fact Chinese eats nearly every part of a pig! But after some Google searches, I was surprised to find out that pig maw (a.k.a. Hog maw) is also served in Western cuisine especially in Italian, Scottish and Pennsylvanian Dutch. Other than pig maw, the next most important ingredient of this soup is cracked peppercorns of white peppers; hence some call this soup peppered pig stomach soup. With the pepper in the soup it brings out the heat thus perfect to warm up your body to counter the cold weather. The Northern Hemisphere is currently in the winter months so it can be a great timing for the "Northern Hemisphereans" to try this out.

Too Thor Th'ng (Pig Maw Soup) 猪肚汤 Featured in Group Recipes 7/12/2010
 The making of the soup is easy but the preparation is a tricky one especially in the cleaning of pig maw. If you are not familiar with cleaning pig stomach, you will end up with a smelly soup. So, how to clean the stomach?

Below is my highly experienced cook- Chef Ah Lan demonstrating the correct way to wash the pig maw. I must warn you first, it may look gross to some of you. Don't watch it immediately after your meal J

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Baked Hoisin Sauce Chicken Wings 海鲜酱烤鸡翅 - Featured in Group Recipes

Finger licking good?

This is yet another simple recipe kids are sure to love. This recipe also demonstrates a healthy way to prepare kids' favorite chicken meals by oven baking rather than deep frying which can be quite oily. I used chicken wings because they were on special; however you can use drumsticks with this same recipe.

The wings are truly inviting with their caramel skin appearance, aren't they?

Baked Hoisin Sauce Chicken Wings 海鲜酱烤鸡翅 - Featured in Group Recipes 4/12/2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Penang Loh Bak (Sausage Pork Roll) 槟城五香卤肉

Nyonya Cuisine – Part 3

Loh bak (Sausage Pork Roll) is another famous Penang Nyonya food. It is also one of the Penang well known hawker delights easily available at many Penang street stalls or night markets sold as finger food. Usually they are sold in a combo platter of loh bak which includes, prawn fritters, fried bean curd (taukua) , five spice hard boiled eggs, century eggs, and slices of cucumber.

Recalling my school days, I used to eat Loh Bak as supper after late night shopping with friends at night markets. We used to order a combo plate and sit down to share this little snack before heading home. To many Penang families, it can also be served as an entree in a multi-course meal especially during festive celebrations or sometimes even wedding dinners.

I'd been thinking of making this for quite a while now; I had even bought the bean curd sheets but just had not got the right time to make it. With Auntie Lan , our Nyonya expert around, how could we not ask her to make this Nyonya dish while she's still with us? J So, again let me feature my guest chef showing off her Nyonya cooking skills.
However, we were unable to come out with the same loh bak taste as back home. This was because I couldn't find one of the main ingredients that's called Sengkuang in Malay or "bangkuang" in Hokkien which was a kind of sweet root vegetable. When I wrote this post, I tried to Google for English name; it gave me a Spanish word Jicama and Yam bean. I was surprised to read that some refers to it as turnip. I guess for our next trial we can either use water chestnuts or opt to use turnip as replacement.

My auntie said you can also make this into vegetarian version by replacing the meat with Yam. Vegetarian Loh Bak (斋卤肉)which has another name "Huang Jiang" in Teochew is one of the many vegetarian dishes prepared by her during the 1st day of Chinese New year. This day is also regarded as vegetarian day and following the Chinese customs we are to start off with vegetarian meals.

Penang Loh Bak  槟城五香卤肉

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Budget & Healthy Eating Christmas High Tea

Surprise Christmas High Tea

Last Friday was our monthly Healthy Eating on a Budget seminar; it was the last cooking class for year 2010. We were looking forward to learn new Christmas recipes but surprised by our lovely cooking instructor Cushla with a table of fabulous Christmas feast. Not only that, she even made each and every one of us a gorgeous hand knitted Christmas sock with flavorful aromatic mix in it.

I had been attending this cooking class for over a year since last November. I'm truly grateful to North Shore Women Center who organizes such meaningful classes, not only I get to know various ways of budget and healthy cooking and knowledge of Western Cuisine, I get to know a charming group of Kiwi ladies.

I was happy to learn that the cooking class acquired new funding and was going to resume in February 2011. On behalf of all the ladies I want to express our gratitude to Harbour Health who sponsors this program. Last by not least, I would like to thank our gorgeous instructor Cushla Marsh for her time and patience in sharing her skillful cooking with us.

Below are some of the highlights we had last Friday, the quality of photos was not so impressive because this was a surprise party I was not prepared with a proper camera.

Read on for the Christmas recipes by Cushla and hope these will help to add some new ideas to your Christmas meals.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Taucheo(Soya Bean paste) Ling Fish 豆酱鲮鱼 - Featured in Group Recipes

Teochew Cuisine – Part 2

This is another Teochew dish our auntie used to cook for us back home in Malaysia. When I saw Ling fish steak which was also Ray's favourite fish were on special, I wouldn't miss the chance to grab them.

Furthermore, this fish was not available in Malaysia so it would be great experience for our Auntie. I'd asked auntie to cook her specialty Taucheo (bean paste) fish which we missed so much.

If you'd like to have some extra kick of hot and spicy fish, you can use Sichuan chili bean paste instead or add some chilies into the sauce.

Taucheo(Soya Bean paste) Ling Fish 豆酱鲮鱼 - Featured in Group Recipes 1/12/2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bubur Cha Cha 摩摩喳喳 - Featured in Group Recipes

What for afternoon tea? A bowl of famous Nyonya Dessert – Bubur Cha Cha
With our master chef around, we are not only getting to eat real "home" flavoured dinner, in weekend we get to enjoy authentic Malaysian desserts and snacks. The first on the list requested by hubby was Bubur Cha Cha.

This is one of the renowned Penang Nyonya desserts. Bubur is Malay word for porridge or congee, as for Cha Cha , no one seems to know how this name originated. However, my aunt shared this with us. She said this dessert is one of the main desserts serve on 15th day and last day of Chinese New Year especially by Hokkiens. In Penang Hokkien dialects, bubur cha cha is pronounced bubur che che – and "che che" means abundance or plentiful. So, it's considered auspicious to serve bubur cha cha to family and friends on that day.

This dessert is a sweet concoction with various types of sweet potatoes (the Kiwis call it Kumara), yam or taro, sago (Tapioca peals) and coconut milk (santan). Do try to use different types of sweet potatoes, to make the dessert more colourful. For healthy version you can change the coconut milk into evaporated milk instead, however you will miss the creamy coconut flavor. This dessert can be served warm or cold.

We steamed all sweet potatoes and taro until tender then added with boiled coconut milk. This way the kumara and taro would not be too mushy. Hubby loves the taste of sago, which is chewy and stretchy in its texture, so we were asked to put more sago. One of the common cooking habits of the older generation is that they tend to cook more, so we ended up with a huge pot. Well, this seemed to be good news to my friends who stayed around my neighbourhood J

Bubur Cha Cha  摩摩喳喳 - Featured in Group Recipies 28/11/2010

No question needed to be asked on how good the dessert was, as both of my young and old food critics asked for second bowl, this showed how good the dessert was! I must say the kumara in NZ tasted much sweeter and aromatic than that in Malaysia. It also has a smoother texture.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tuna Fritters 金枪鱼煎饼 - Featured in Group Recipes

Scottish Country Dancing
Last week, my Taiwanese computing classmates Linda and Lily invited a few of us to attend their Taiwan Women society monthly activities. Since our computing course was coming to an end and many of us had submitted our last assignment to the tutor, we decided it was a good idea to take a break. Hence, on Wednesday I accepted the invitation and attended their Scottish Country Dancing function. 

Scottish Country Dancing is one of the oldest folk dances in the world. This dance form is done in sets, normally of 3, 4 or 5 couples, that arrange themselves either in two lines (men facing ladies) or in a square. Since this was a Women society, some of us had to act as men and I was given a collar to dance as a man. I found the dancing steps were not difficult to learn. During the course of the dance, the dancers completed a set of formations enough times to bring them back to their opening positions. 
We all had an awesome time learning this joyful folk dance. After all the legs exercise, came the turn of mouth exercise insteadJ. We had a fabulous lunch sharing with every member who brought their delectable home cooked meals.

I had made this Tuna Fritters which could be served either cold or hot and great for parties or picnic.  I adapted this recipe from the Taste Magazine.

Tuna Fritters 金枪鱼煎饼 - Featured in Group Recipes 27/11/2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Asam Pedas Stingray 亚叁浦鱼 - Featured in Group Recipes

Nyonya Cuisine

Following my last post, the second dish served last Saturday night by our guest chef was the famous Nyonya Asam Pedas (Sour and Spicy) fish. We used Stingray (Skate Wings), which was a common fish for curry because of its not so flaky texture and the ability to withstand long simmer.  In addition, it has no tiny sharp bones which makes it very easy to eat. If you are not used to cook this fish, you can opt for pomfret or mackerel or any fish steak that does not flake easily.
That night other than the Lo Ark , this sour spicy dish was another big hit that teased our appetites to second and even third servings of rice J
Asam Pedas Stingray 亚叁浦鱼 - Featured in Group Recipes 25/11/2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Teochew Loh Ack (Braised Duck) 潮州卤鸭 - Featured in Group Recipes

Teochew Cuisine
With Ray’s auntie, our ex-home chef, staying with us for the next 2 months, I am taking this opportunity to hand over my kitchen duty to her since we miss her cooking so much.  With her running my kitchen and being my guest chef, I bet I’d get to learn more home cooking and have more recipes to share in this blog especially hubby’s family Teochew cuisine and authentic Nyonya dishes which she specializes in. I’m so pleased to step down from my position and pass my chef cap to her. :-P
With a master chef brought in all the way from Penang, I proudly invited my Penang group of friends in Auckland who were craving for Penang food to come over for a real Penang home cooked meals.  It was such a divine feast; the dishes served were so homely and authentic which we all missed so much.  Shared below are the main course and side dish we had for the night.  If you think they look tempting, wait till you have tasted them J
Teochew Braised Duck 潮州卤鸭 - Featured in Group Recieps 24/11/2010

I want that drumstick!
Braised eggs and bean curds
As some of us may have noticed, most experienced cooks don’t usually measure the cooking ingredients with a scale, spoon or other measuring gadgets.  Though it may not appear that they are measuring but they actually are. They measure by a combination of their eyes and experience. When I asked her how much to use she had difficulty to spell out as precisely.  In order to transcribe this recipe, I had to ask her to measure every single ingredient she added.  However, most of the time I was not fast enough to measure them before she added the ingredients in L
Hence, I can only try my best to estimate the quantity of seasoning.  However she said the amount used is based on taste which is really the essence of measuring. I hope my effort in recording this recipe does not contribute to another item in your kitchen trash bin.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tom Yum Baked Snapper冬荫酱焗鲷鱼 – Featured in Group Recipes

"What do I do with the snapper for dinner tonight? "

Taking out the last snapper given by Ellen, I puzzled over it, trying to figure out what other good way to cook it since we just had steamed snapper on Friday. As the fish was still pretty fresh, it kind of a waste to deep frying. Moreover, I was put off by the idea of the cleaning up part after deep frying, what a hassle! L

So, what did I do with the fish? Keep the wok, do away the steamer, let just chuck it into oven and what cuisine for tonight? Let's do Thai J

Tom Yum Baked Snapper冬荫酱焗鲷鱼 (Featured in Group Recipes 21/11/2010)
The appetizingly sourish and savory taste of Tom Yum is always great to go with seafood. It would be even better if I added in some tomatoes, ladies fingers (okra) :-P

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wholemeal Toast Bread 全麦土司 (湯種法) - Featured in Group Recipes

Wanna another slice?

Following my great success in making white toast bread using Tangzhong (water roux starter) method, it motivated me to try on Wholemeal Bread J

Wholemeal Toast Bread 全麦土司 (湯種法) - Featured in Group Recieps on 19/11/2010

I was so pleased to see another successful batch of flavorsome, soft and spongy wholemeal bread coming out from my oven. Ray has been waiting anxiously to try out the bread since he saw me kneading the bread dough last night.

I was flattered when Ray's Nanny commented that the bread tasted so much nicer and softer than the one I bought from the shop J


Friday, November 19, 2010

Steamed Snapper with Ginger and Spring Onions姜葱蒸鲷鱼- Featured in Group Recipes

Garden to table – Spring Onions
Weather getting warmer by the day, meaning fishing season has started. In other words, more keen anglers' are heading out to fish. Fringe benefit of knowing keen anglers means more chances to enjoy free and fresh supplies of seafood.

Thanks to my dear friend Ellen, we got to enjoy fresh snapper for dinner tonight. The fish tasted so fresh and delicious even though I only used simple ingredients like soy sauce, ginger and fresh spring onion from my garden J

In my opinion, the best way of cooking fresh fish is just simply steaming it. This simple and healthy fish recipe takes less than 15 minutes to cook.

Steamed Snapper with Ginger and Spring Onions姜葱蒸鲷鱼

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cottony Toast Bread 波特吐司 (湯種法) - Featured in Group Recipes

Tang Zhong (Water Roux) Bread Making Part 2 – The success

As our old Chinese proverb quotes "failure is the mother of success". I was not held back by the last 3 tumbles I experienced with Tangzhong bread making. I moved on to try out Yvonne Chen's Tangzhong White Toast bread recipe and this time I finally got it right! I felt so contented the moment I sliced open the center of the loaf and revealed cottony, fluffy and spongy texture J

Fluffy and spongy  Cottony Toast Bread 波特吐司 (湯種法)

Cottony Toast Bread (Featured in Group Recipes 17/11/2010)

Compare to the direct bread making method, the dough using water roux method is much stickier. No wonder many suggested using dough mixer to do the mixing and kneading for Tanzhong bread. But, if you like the idea of 100% handmade then you must prepare to stick your hands into gloppy and gooey mess dough. I tried to use wooden spatula to mix the dough as much as possible until the dough was too sticky to move then only I used hands. In my opinion, the final kneading was the most tiring part; I spent 15 minutes to totally blend in the butter to form glossy, smooth and stretchy dough. Overall, it took me about 40 to 45 minutes of hand mixing and kneading time before the dough was ready for it first proof.

This recipe I shared was based on my hand kneading experience; for original recipe using machine kneads you can refer to Christine Recipes of her Tanzhong Hokkaido Milky loaf.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Failed Breads

Tang Zhong (Water Roux starter) Bread Making Part 1 – The Failures

After a few successful batches of basic bread recipes, I decided is time to experiment more challenging ways of bread making. This time, I was focusing on how to improve the quality of bread texture especially to maintain the softness of the bread to last for days.

Since I had exhausted learning from my basic bakery book, I seek online help. After Google, I came across on Christine's Recipes introducing Tang Zhong 汤种 (Water Roux starter) way of bread making. Following that, it led me to these two Taiwan bestselling homemade bread making recipe books; first Meng Zhaoqing (孟老師的100道麵包.) and Bread Doctor, by Yvonne Chen (陳郁芬65C 湯種麵包).

I started off with Meng Zhaoqing's Tangzhong Coco toast bread. The coco bread did come out soft and fluffy but too bad it contained holes. The reasons of bread with holes might due to the air wasn't pressed out when I shaped the loaf or the dough rose to long before I baked it.
Coco Loaf with holes
Soft and fluffy texture but with holes
My next try was butter crumble toast which I failed miserably. The bread turned out to be flat (over proof) with stone hard crust (over baked). I had left the dough sitting too long in a heated oven during my second rising process.

When I did my touch testing on second rise, the dough flatten once I poked my finger in, this clearly indicated the dough has been over risen. I should have punch down and let it proof again but nevertheless I continued baking. Another reason also the Tanzhong I used was too thick and not runny enough.

Flat Butter crumble Toast Bread

The crust was over baked and too hard to eat

Tangzhong (Water Roux starter) - Too Thick

My 3rd Tangzhong challenge was famous Hokkaido Milky Toast Bread recipe by Yvonne Chen. But again it didn't turn out fluffy and cottony as it should be but instead very dense. I guessed this time I did not knead the dough well enough before proofing L

Hokkaido Milky Toast Bread
I do not mind to share my failures, because in my opinion the great way of learning is to learn from mistakes. By highlighting these mistakes, I hope others will not be caught as what I had been thru, am I right?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stir Fry French Beans with Prawn Cutlets四季豆酱炒虾仁 (Featured in Group Recipes)

Welcoming dinner – Part 2

Stir fry French Beans with prawn cutlets, this was the second side dish that I had prepared as our family guest requested more vegetable dishes. For this recipe, I used Thai bean paste to stir fry French beans. Other than oyster sauce, bean paste is another great choice of stir fry sauce. This again is another fast, simple stir fry dish that can be ready under 30 minutes.

Stir Fry French Beans with Prawn Cutlets四季豆酱炒虾仁
Too bad, my dwarf beans still not in time to be harvested else it would be a good opportunity for me to show off my green fingers other than my cooking skills J
Dwarf beans seedling

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stir-fry Scallops with Gai Lan 芥兰炒扇贝 (Featured in Group Recipes)

Welcoming dinner – Part 1

Since we moved to NZ, we have tasted NZ cockles, mussels and the shellfish next in line that I'm going to introduce are fresh scallops. Back home, I used to cook dried scallops in soups, porridge but seldom fresh scallops. I was told in NZ, fresh scallops were easily available and they were not expensive when on special. For a while, I have been eyeing to have my hands on them.

At last, this week they are on special, 2 dozen of fresh scallops for $12 (normal price at $9/dozen). Other than Abalone, this delectable mollusk too has long been regarded as an exclusive delicacy in Asia. This special offer was just in time for me to prepare a sumptuous welcoming dinner for our guest of honor from Malaysia, Hubby's closest cousin sister, who happened to play the role as 2 generations super nanny taking care of both hubby's first 12 years and Ray's first 5 years from birth.

She was also our Master Chef back home. We all loved her cooking very much. But, now was my turn to play host, so I had to think of something local, delicious to showcase Auckland and what came into my mind was seafood especially Shellfish. After picking her up from the airport Tuesday afternoon, I went straight to grab 2 boxes of fresh scallops for my dinner preparation.

I used Gai Lan (Chinese broccoli 芥兰) to complement the scallops; the sweetness of fresh scallops was just pleasant to neutralize the slight bitterness of Gai Lan. Other than my signature dish, Crispy Roasted Pork Belly, this was what I served on the dinner table that night.

Stir fry Scallops with Gai Lan  芥兰炒扇贝 - Featured in Group Recipes 11/11/2010
Welcoming Dinner @ 9/11/2010


Monday, November 8, 2010

Tom Yum Mussels 冬荫青口 - (Featured in Group Recipes)

Mussels again?
Mussels on sale again @ $1.99/kg! By reading this, you can tell what will be in my dinner menu right? J

Mussels are plentiful in NZ that's why they are cheap not only that, they are fresh, I love to play around with different ways of cooking them. We had tried BBQ Mussels, so what other options that I can do with them? I was thinking of something fast and easy less than 30 min and something spicy since my boy does not eat them, let see …….

When I was going thru my kitchen and saw a small piece of Galangal (Kha in Thai, Lengkuas in Malay) and a bunch of mint leaves lying on the kitchen top, an idea flashed in. My landlord is going to redo our backyard landscaping by Friday and my herbs garden will need to be relocated and these galangal plants and mints were the two plants that I had dug out this morning.

Now can you guess what the menu with all these ingredients is? J

Tom Yum Mussels 冬荫青口- Featured in Group Recipes 09/11/2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Bread 香蕉燕麦巧克力面包 (Featured in Group Recipes )

The day before hubby told me that he couldn't finish the banana on time (It was on sales last week and I had bought more than his usual daily consumption) and there were still two very ripe bananas that needed to be disposed ASAP. Seeing that, it struck my mind to use up these ripe bananas to bake banana bread for our computing class lunch sharing on Wednesday.    

Frankly this was my 3rd attempts of banana bread making. I tried using 2 different recipes but having the same failure reason where the bread were a bit over burnt outside but center still mushy. After, getting great baking suggestions from my Foodbuzz foodies, I decided to give it another try. Thank god, this time the bread turned out very flavorful and not mushy else it would be very embarrassing for me to be empty handed to the lunch sharing function.

This is a very simple recipe. In fact, I have combined 2 recipes into one. I adapted the main recipe from my sister-in-law who email me from Vancouver. The original recipe used Walnut which my boy does not like it. So, I replaced with two other ingredients Oat and Chocolate chips which I extracted from another recipe recommended in Taste magazine. 

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Bread 香蕉燕麦巧克力面包(mouseover to see close-up)
Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Bread 香蕉燕麦巧克力面包 - Featured in Group Recipes 6/11/2010

Lunch Sharing at TWOA Computing Class @ 03/11/2010


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