Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spiced Beef Shin 卤牛展/牛腱 - (Featured in Group Recipes)

"Staying in Kiwi land, how can you not eat more beef or lamb where we are one of the biggest meats producers! " This statement was made by one of my computing classmate when she shared her lunch box with me. After testing her juicy spiced beef, I came home and happen to notice one of the cook books I borrowed from local library has this recipe which I can try on.

Frankly, the reason I seldom cook beef is because I'm not good at cooking beef, my food critic always X me out when I served beef. This was my first time cooking beef shin/shank; thankfully the dish turnout to be pretty good and I got a tick this time J

Spiced Beef Shin 卤牛展/牛腱 - Featured in Group Recipes dated 3 November 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Asparagus Thai Style with Squids 泰式芦笋炒花枝

Sawadika, let's do Thai tonight!
Eat and cook with the season, that what I learn when doing my vegetables shopping in NZ. I was taught always choose vegetables that are at their seasonal best and that are the freshest. Asparagus is in season now, so that's what going to be regular on our dinner table for the coming weeks J

Instead of normal Chinese stir-frying with oyster sauce, I switch to Thai style using Nam Pla (fish sauce) for a change. Other than Chinese cuisine, Thai Cuisine is my favourite I can never have enough of them!

Stir- Fry Asparagus with Squids 芦笋炒花枝

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pork Belly with Dong Cai 冬菜扣肉

Once a while, I will attempt to prepare some tedious and time consuming dish and this is one of them. Hubby has been asking for it for some time, so being the main Chef in the house, when you get the order you need to serve it right?

DongCai 冬菜 in Chinese literally means winter vegetable, this is Chinese traditional pickles, made of preserved dried cabbage or mustard greens. There are two famous types in China, one is Sichuan preserved vegetable another is Tianjin preserved vegetable. This preserved veggie commonly use in soup or stir-fry with meat. For this recipe, I'm using Tianjin five spices preserved vegetable

I understand with current trend of healthy eating this recipe might be a big X to some especially to weight watchers but on contrary this dish is one of our family favorite. The man in my family, his motto of eating is whatever delicious and meaty J

I adapted this recipe from one of my favourite Malaysia's Chinese best-seller cookbook by Chef Alan Kok Ho Ho Jiak! Hawkers' Fair .

Pork Belly with Dong Cai 冬菜扣肉
Pork belly that melt in your mouth

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cockles, cockles more cockles 蚶/蛤蜊

Cockles again?

26th October Monday
The story with cockles continues, I was still left with a bag of cockles and they had been brine in buckets over night. They were still kicking alive when hubby checked on them in the morning. How to get rid of them?
Some for lunch.

Cockles Har Mee
 and some for dinner
(Featured in Group Recipes website)

Stir-fry Cockles with Chili, tomatoes and Curry sauce
After 2 days of cockles, I suppose I'm done with them for a while. :-P


Har Mee Instant Noodles with Cockles
Handful Cockles
4 packets of Instant Noodles
Coriander for garnishing

Place cockles in saucepan and bring water to boil until the shells of the cockles open.
Take out the cooked cockles and set aside.
Prepare noodles per packet instructions and added in cooked cockles.
Garnish with coriander and serve.

1kg Cockles
2tbsp chili sauce
2 tbsp tomatoes sauce
1tsp mild curry powder
1tbsp chopped garlic
Slices of ginger
1tbsp cooking wine/white wine
200ml water
Coriander for garnishing

Heat up wok with oil, sauté ginger and garlic until fragrant
Add in cockles, chili sauce, tomatoes sauce, curry powder and water stir fry a while and covered to bring to boil.
Once Cockles shell open indicates cockles cooked and ready to dish up.
Garnish with coriander


BBQ Cockles 烧烤蚶/蛤蜊

BBQ Seafood Part 2 – Cockles

 25th October Sunday
After the episode one with mussels, the following day, we had another round of sun, sea and beach with climax on cockle-picking! However, this time we ventured a bit further by driving 45 minutes north from Auckland to Okoromai Bay at Shakespear Regional Park.

We did plan for cockle-picking as part of itinerary of the day but we were also prepared to be empty handed and just spend our day picnic at the beach. But to our surprise we ended up with stomach and bucket full of cockles. I have never seen so many live cockles in my life before not to mention to be able to harvest so many of them. J

But to get to them, we had to wait for low tide that was when the highlight began! When the sea waters subside, we had to trudge in icky mud all the way and it was quite a distance out from the beach. The further we went the larger the cockles would be. But, everyone is only allowed to pick up to maximum 50 cockles and we had 4 families with headcounts of 16 persons, so do your calculation and guess how many we picked for that day J

At first, we planned to bring the cockles back to brine for a day to allow the cockles to spit out the sand before we can consume them. But, when I saw others just wash them using tap water and barbecue on the spot. I was curious and checked out with one of the picnickers and they even offered me to taste the BBQ cockle and it was so fresh and no sandy taste at all.

So, when we saw one of the parks wood-burning BBQ was vacant, we quickly occupied it. We were lucky that there was still fire in, which saved us a great hassle to start a fire again. We continued our barbeque by adding dried tree twigs and branches collected from the ground. Later only we realized we had violated the rules that we were not allowed to use any dried branches and twigs in the park for the BBQ:-P

Nevertheless, I must say these were the best cockles I ever tasted, they were so fresh with its own salty flavor, of course it would be even better if we had brought lemons and squeeze on them, yum, yum, yum! Thank god neither of us have suffered any shellfish poisoning which we were so worried about after consuming that many of cockles.

So, here to share our BBQ highlight.

Cockle picking
BBQ cockles

Wood burning BBQ Cockles
Cooked Cockles

Delicious fresh cockles

Even though we had tried hard to consume as many cockles as we could on the spot, we still had a bag full to bring back. So, what to do with all these cockles?

Monday, October 25, 2010

BBQ Hot plate Mussels with Onions and Garlic 烧烤洋葱蒜末青口

BBQ Seafood Part 1 –Mussels

I'm feeling so worn out today after having two consecutives BBQ outings over a weekend. I was really thankful we were blessed with superb sunny spells for us to enjoy sun, sea and beach outings. It has been long overdue since we had miserable wet winter for months. This winter was exceptionally wet we suffered really bad winter flu. In fact I still have not fully recovered from coughing. I'm really looking forward for the warm weather to come.

Last Friday, hubby told me the weather forecast for the weekend was going to be sunny for the entire Labour day long weekend implying we should plan some outings. Well, in Kiwi culture nobody stays home when the sun is out J.

24th October Saturday morning, Hubby came to me and suggested an impromptu afternoon tea at nearby park Little Shoal Bay, 10 minutes away from our house. After making a few phone calls we had another two families to join us. When I asked what to prepare? Hubby said "I misses mussels and mussels are on sales at $1.99 per kg, so why not BBQ mussels for afternoon tea?"

Frankly, only in NZ, we can enjoy mussels the way like this, back home in Malaysia these will be delicacy and only be available in fancy buffet meals.

So, we had grilled mussels on BBQ hotplate for adult

Mussels with Onions and Garlic     
onions sausages for kids J


2kg Mussels
2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1 sliced Onions
2 Lemons for juice
1 roll of aluminium foil
Chopped Chili (optional)
White Wine/Cooking wine

  1. Scrub and de-beard mussels.
    (I spent more than 30 minutes to scrub and wash 2 kg of mussels)
  2. Heat BBQ hot plate. (The park provides a free button pressed BBQ hotplate J)
  3. Make a few rectangles aluminium foil and place 8-10 mussels on each.
  4. Spread chopped garlic, slices of onions, chili and drizzle some white wine or cooking wine and wrapped the foil.
  5. Place the foils on the hot BBQ plate for 5-8 minutes or until the foils puff up.
  6. Open the foils to check if mussels are open, squeeze in lemon and serve.  

2粒柠檬 (挤汁)


热烧烧烤炉。 (公园提供了一个免费的按钮烧烤炉具)
用铝箔做成包裹,每个放进8-10 粒青口。

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkin Porridge with Shaved Manuka Leg Hams 南瓜火腿粥

Wanna a bowl of golden porridge?

It has been over a week since Ming Ray suffered from mouth ulcers and couldn't really eat solid food. Poor boy has been on semi fluid, having just oat, yogurt and milk shakes for days. Seeing him getting better, I decided to make some changes for his lunch. Maybe a simple rice porridge, but how to make this plain rice porridge to be more nutritious yet appealing to stimulate his appetites?

Let me have a look in my fridge, what I have in there?
A quartered of pumpkin (hey, this add sweet flavour and create attractive color)
A packet of Manuka Leg hams (emm...this soft and salty ham seem nice to go with rice porridge).
Yes, why not use these Western and Chinese combination in my rice porridge.

So this was what we had for our lunch J
Ray finished his bowl of porridge in no time and best part was this little veggie hater didn't even notice that he had just had a bowl of nutritious veggie porridge J

 For mummy, another salted egg topping J

Halloween is just around the corner, your might have jack-o-lantern pumpkin carving project on its way, what to do with the pulp? Pie, cakes again? Why not try this non-traditional way to get rid of your pumpkin pulp J

Follow-up on my last write up on  Mince Carrot Peanuts Porridge, this is another healthy with rich vitamin A porridge that worth to tryout.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stir-fry Bean Sprouts with Prawn cutlets 豆芽炒虾球

This is a simple and quick recipe which can be ready in minutes. However, this inexpensive yet vitamin rich  dish is commonly served in Chinese Asian home may look easy to make but might not be easy to master. Good stir-fry bean sprouts are when bean sprouts just nicely cooked with crunchy texture and no raw taste. This dish if overcooked it becomes soggy and not appealing at all. So, the key which also is the foundation to Chinese stir-fry is to heat up wok/skillets on really high heat with hot oil and quickly toss in bean sprouts for few minutes and dish up.

I always like to use gas cooking as it gives the real flame for the fire flavor which vital to create "wok hei" (in Cantonese). But, I cannot have that over here as the rented house we currently stay only has electric coils stove and it takes ages to heat up. L I missed those "sizzling" sound I used to hear when I stir-fry using my gas stove back home in Malaysia.

Stir-fry Bean Sprouts with Prawn cutlets 豆芽炒虾球

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Steamed Stingray with Soya Sauce 清蒸魔鬼鱼 (蒲鱼)

Wanna catch a devil tonite?

Recently, I was pleased to find stingray at one of my regular Asian fishmonger shop but the name stated as Skate Wings. Stingray to us also known as devil fish 魔鬼鱼 in Chinese, I suppose the name originated from Devil Ray. My dad never eats this fish as he said this is an evil creature,  with its strange looks and unique feature of flying and not swimming in the ocean J

But to us, this devil is really tasty to eat if you know the right way to cook it. Stingray is best cook in curry or sour and spicy sauce (Assam Pedas). However, since I have six years old to consider, I have to forgo my spicy taste buds and opt for a change. So, mummy needs to think of something non spicy let see…….

Mummy is cooking stingray
Ray is waiting to eat stingray
After dinner let's watch blu Ray

Steamed Stingray with soya sauce 清蒸魔鬼鱼 (蒲鱼)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fish Fillets with Ginger and Onion 姜葱鱼片 (Featured in Group Recipes)

Wanna something fishy tonite?

Back in Malaysia we seldom cook fish fillets at home, this is because fish fillets are not easy to get in wet market and not many variety to choose. Most of the fish we buy we need to clean ourself, even if the fishmongers clean the fish for you they seldom fillet for you. So, we often order fish fillets when we eat out at restaurants and this is one of the popular recipe that commonly serves in local Chinese Restaurants.

I adapted this recipe again from one of my cooking bibles Hawkers' Fair Simplified. But, this time I twisted this recipe by replacing spring onion with onion instead. I was running out of spring onion and only realised at the very last minutes when I about to prepare this dish for dinner. Hubby suggested to substitute with big onion instead as both are from onion family. True enough the taste came out not much different at all. J

I used Lemon fish fillets for this recipe, try not to use fillets with soft and flaky texture which easily breaks when you stir-fry them. The first time when I bought Lemon Fish, I was not aware that these are actually Shark meat, what a nice name they have given them. J

Lemon Fish Fillets with Ginger and Onion

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I like the Chinese name given for this dish 老少平安 , the name literally in English means "Elderly and young peace". I was introduced to this dish when I mentioned to one of my computing classmate Penny from Guangzhou what to do with the surplus egg whites that I have in fridge after making Portuguese egg tarts. She further explained the reason of naming "Elderly and young peace" is because the soft and smooth texture of the dish with main ingredients of tofu, fish paste and egg whites is perfect for young and elderly without worrying about missing teeth and choking problem with fish bones, therefore everyone is safe to eat. :-)

Frankly, this traditional home-style Cantonese cuisine and also regards as "lazy people food" recipe is similarly to steam eggs with variation of adding tofu and fish paste. Of course, there are other variations some even mixed with shrimp and mushrooms. My version, I didn't have any fish paste so I replaced with pork mince and added my homemade salted eggs as topping.

Steamed Tofu with Salted eggs
Homemade Salted Eggs
Salted egg yolks vs normal egg yolk

Thursday, October 14, 2010

STIR FRY VERMICELLI PASTA 炒意大利面线 (Featured in Group Recipes)

The only type of pasta that our family likes to eat is Vermicelli or Angel hair which is thin variety of Italian pasta. We like the texture of this pasta which is quite similar to Chinese egg noodles but firmer and not easy to break and best of all it won't get mushy even if not consume right away. Another health reason I like this pasta is that it does not have alkaline water (sodium carbonate) which commonly use in Asian noodles especially yellow noodles. This pasta is great for stir fry and bring as party/picnic meals as it won't get mushy after long hour of storage.

Last Sunday, we had a free farm day outing and we had arrangement with another family to have picnic lunch at the park. I made this for lunch, but at last minutes my friends (family of 5) changed their plan and did not join us for picnic lunch. We were left with a big pot of vermicelli; thankfully the pasta did not turn bad or get mushy else it would have been such a waste. So, hubby and I ended up having this leftover for dinner and lunch for the following day. I was amazed after such long hours and so many times of reheating, the pasta still tasty and not mushy at all.


Vermicelli, Egg strips, bean sprouts, fish balls, crab sticks, coriander

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Soya Sauce Mushroom Chicken With Braised Eggs 香菇豉油鸡

Tired of eating fried chicken but still want chicken ? Try this......
This is one of my regular dishes serve on dinner table; it is also my boy favorite especially the braised eggs (卤蛋) in it. When he sees this dish on dinner table, he can finish his dinner within no time. J

This dish is not only great to go with rice, the leftover especially the sauce is great to go with dry noodles (干捞面) for next day lunch. As I always say cooking is kind of an art, be adventurous to add in color to your dish, explore to use ingredients as you like to your taste.

For this recipe, other than sticking to the marinade sauce and chicken, you can have your own variation for the rest of the ingredients by adding veggie too. My version change very much depend on what in my fridge for that day J

Yesterday when I cooked them, I only have button mushroom, well look like time to do more marketing to stock up ……..
Soya Sauce Mushroom Chicken With Braised Eggs  香菇豉油鸡

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mince Carrot Peanuts Porridge萝卜丝肉碎花生粥

Cooking porridge the easy way with rice cooker

I tend not to make much cooking during weekend. My weekend lunch menu mostly noodles. Lately, my boy seems to pick up his old baby eating habits longing for porridge. Ever since then my Saturday lunch menu began to swap to porridge and it has remained the same ever since winter season until now.

There are 2 major types of Chinese porridge or congee, one is Teochew "Muay" 稀饭and another type is Cantonese "Chok" 粥. Teochew style is quicker to cook and the texture is firmer more like rice in soup where the rice grains still pretty intact. Whereas Cantonese congee takes hours to cook until rice grains turn mushy. Our preference is Cantonese porridge but not so watery rather starchier, more like baby porridge very creamy.

Instead of using stove which taking hours to cook, I use to cook my porridge using rice cooker which is faster and hassle free. It is very convenient, where you just need to throw in all ingredients into the rice cooker and let it cooks by itself. Off cause it will be even better if you have pressure cooker, where you get to enjoy your "chok" in less than half an hour. I didn't bring mine over here so rice cooker is good enough to help me.

However, for peanuts porridge, I did take extra effort to boil the peanuts first before I transfer the peanut soup to rice cooker; this is because we prefer to eat softer peanuts in our porridge. This is also another nourishing herbal food that can help in clearing lungs and relief cough, not only that porridge is great as slimming diet too. Find out also how to recycle the water use for rinsing rice into natural facial cleanser and organic fertilizer. J

Mince Carrot Peanuts Porridge萝卜丝肉碎花生粥

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Wanna a bowl of nourishing sweet soup ?

This winter, the nasty winter bugs had my two guys down one after another; JS suffered the most which later we suspected that it might be swine flu. I was pretty proud of myself for not catching the bugs back then and credited that to my regular jogging even under cold weather. But, too bad just when I thought the winter was over, JS had his second round of cough back last week and this time I was not spare. :-(

Other than taking medicines, I believe in food treatment. Hence, this week I made Chinese herbal soups more often and one of them is this White Fungus with Nashi Pear Dessert Soup. Chinese believed white fungus which also known as Snow Fungus is great in nourishing the lungs, healing dry cough and cooling our body system. This soup is great to serve hot during winter and chilled during summer. This dessert is very simple and easy to prepare.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Prawn Noodle 虾面

Cooking instant noodles in a healthier way?

Last weekend, we went for our family skiing trip to Whakapapa Ski Field. On our way there, we stopped over a night at Taupo and I had my first ever fishing experience. We went for prawn fishing at Huka Prawn Park just distance away from famous Huka Falls at Taupo. After an hour of fishing, I finally caught my first and also the only catch, hubby also managed to fish his at very last minutes when the prawn farm rang the bell for closing time! Too bad my boy was not so lucky and he was very disappointed as he didn't manage to catch any. These 2 prawns were the most expensive prawns we ever had as we paid $40 for family pass to fish (we were late when we arrived at the park and the park was about to close for another one and half at 4pm.)
The prawn farm packed our catch in a small plastic bag with some ice in it.
My very first catch @ 03/010/10

So, what to do with these 2 prawns? We checked in at Taupo Holiday park and got ourselves a nice self contained unit with full kitchen facilities but with limited food ingredients on hand, the only way I can think off ……….

Yes, instant noodle is always come handy for short trip. I always pack them in my food basket when we travel around New Zealand. Frankly, traveling in NZ eating out especially looking for Chinese food is not so convenient, especially if you stop over at small towns. Indeed, there are takeaway shops, but you won't want to eat Fish and chips for all the meals right? So, we use to check in self contained motel and cook our own meals. I guess this is also the traveling culture here, as Kiwi loves DIY.

But many will feel instant noodle is health risk; I must admit I love to eat instant noodles. So, to keep my guilt of having this food, I cook my instant noodles in non instant way to make it healthier J
Check it out how to cook instant noodle in a healthier way.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sausage Rolls 香肠卷

Bread Story Part 2 – Sausage Rolls
Once you get a hand on making of basic bread dough right, you can create different types of bread from it. As mentioned in my bread story part 1, you can make sausage rolls from the sweet buns dough I featured in previous post.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Sweet Loaf 甜面包

Bread Story Part 1 – Sweet Loaf
My bread making journey was not so smooth, I experienced 4 failed attempts before I finally made my first loaf.

I started off my bread making with no knead bread which I got the idea from YouTube. From the video clip, it seemed so easy by merely mixing dough and let it rest overnight and throw into oven to bake. But the truth was not that simple after all. I ended up with ugly looking bread.

Later, I decided to tryout bread recipes from one of my cook books - Baking made easy by Agnes Chang. Even with clear instructions, it still took me 3 tryouts before I finally landed with bread looking loaf.
After so many failures, I concluded that there are 3 main factors one must take note to ensure a successful bread making:
First and foremost, dough needs warm temperature to proof; best conducive temperature is around 25--30 degree Celsius. I made by first loaf in winter times and the temperature at that time was below 20 degree; hence my dough was not proof enough to rise to double even I had set aside over 18 hours! L

So, rule number one in bread making is to proof your dough at warm place, place over warm stove, oven or even boiler room. However, if you stay in tropical zone, you shouldn't have this issue at all! J

Secondly, dough needs to be well kneaded till smooth texture where dough can stretch into thin sheet without tearing. My second attempts failed with reason that I did not knead the dough enough to gluten. I do not have bread dough mixer so I hand knead all my bread. If hand kneading, dough needs to be knead for at least 15 minutes. Use finger testing on dough. Press finger on dough, if depression bounce back into shape, the dough is ready to set aside to proof.
Frankly, I must admit, to have 100% hand knead bread, you need strong arms. If any of you wish to tone up your arm muscles, this is a very effective way. Best part is, you pay no fees to join fitness club and after this workout you get rewarded with a nice homemade loaf! :-P

Lastly, watch out for the second proofing time, do not over proof the dough; it will collapse during baking if over proofed.

After reading this article, I bet your bread making stories will be much smoother than mine because I have shared the main tips with you and below is fool proof recipe that I had tried on. Happy trying!

First successful loaf

Sweet Loaf


500g bread flour or high protein flour
2 tsp instant yeast (I used Edmond Sure Bake yeast)
100g castor sugar
1tsp salt
270ml water
50g soften butter

  1. Place all ingredients bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt into a mixing bowl and mixed well.
  2. Slowly pour in water.
  3. Use slow speed to knead the dough till gluten is formed (can pull into very thin sheet without tearing). If hand kneading, knead at least 15 minutes until the dough is smooth.
  4. Add in butter and knead till well combined.
  5. Remove dough from mixing bowl, shape into a smooth ball and put into a greased bowl.
  6. Cover with wet cloth.
  7. Leave aside to prove till double in bulk. (Place in warm place to speed up the proving process)
  8. To test the dough ready or not - press dough with finger, the depression should stay. Refer here
  9. Punch down and knead again till smooth.
  10. Leave aside to rest for 15 minutes.
  11. Shape the dough into bun or loaf shape place in greased loaf pan or baking tray and let it double in bulk for the second time.
  12. Bake at 200 degree Celsius for 15-20 minutes till golden brown.
  13. Remove and brush with melted butter.

This dough can use to make Sausage Roll,Red bean/Custard Bun and Garlic Butter Bun

100克细砂糖, 1茶匙盐, 270ml水

将所有材料面粉,酵母,糖和盐放入碗中搅拌均匀, 慢慢地倒入水。


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