Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tribute to Christchurch

22nd February 2011 – New Zealand Darkest Day

It was heart breaking to know another massive 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck again near Christchurch on 22nd February 2011 at 12.51pm. This time it was sad to note Christchurch was not as lucky as in the 4th September 2010 quake when it escaped miraculously without fatality. The death toll reported today was 75 and more than 200 missing and our PM John Key warned the number would continue to climb and that it was the darkest day of New Zealand L

It shattered my heart to watch devastating footages over TV, seeing injured people, smashed cars, damaged roads and collapsed buildings. I was especially taken back by the collapse of the 110 years old Christchurch Cathedral Church, the Christchurch iconic city landmark! I couldn’t believe, I was there 46 days ago happily traveling with my family on our Great Kiwi Road trip. We were there twice; first trip on 6th January and then again on 19th January.

During our first trip we went to Cathedral Square and the square was very busy and lively with tourists, a live band with great music. The weather was superb with clear blue sky and we were cheerfully posing in front of the Cathedral Church, the icon of Christchurch. I still remembered, for me to capture the peak of the whole Cathedral Church Tower; I had to lie flat on the floor. But now just too painful to see the whole spire as if been chopped down and the elegant interiors of the church now became piles of rubble. L

In fact, during our second stay, we did experience two aftershocks; one of which was quite major at 5.1 magnitudes. We were asleep but awakened with a sudden shaking of our bed at That was my first earthquake related experience. However, that incident happened in a split second and subsided so fast that it didn’t pose threats at all and we just continued to sleep. Later in the morning, we found out this was the 3,907th aftershock to hit the city since the devastating 7.1 tremor on September 4 2010 and also was one of the biggest aftershocks and the first over magnitude 5.

With this post, I just wish to pay tribute to all Christchurch earthquake victims.  My prayer and thoughts are with all the people of Christchurch.  

Sharing with you the collage I made in remembrance of the Christchurch Cathedral Church.

The history shots to remember 

Cathedral Church - before and after the earthquake

The elegant interios of Cathedral Church - 06/01/2011

 After 22nd February 2011 earthquake

Christchurch Cathedral was heavily damaged in the earthquake 22/02/2011. Photo: Twitter - @tesswoolcock

Extracted from online news


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Deep Fried Wontons 金元宝炸云吞

Chinese New Year Dishes – Part 6(年菜之六)
This was my last CNY dish prepared on Thursday 17th February "Chap Goh Meh". After our heavy "Chap Goh" lunch sharing, I was saved to prepare dinner as there was still pretty much left over food especially sweet and sour fish.

However, to add some lucky chime to our dinner I had fried some wontons. The shape of the deep fried golden color of the wontons resembled gold ingots (Yuan Bao元宝) widely circulated during the Ming Dynasty. It was a great auspicious symbol of wealth. Best of all, this snack was so simple and flexible to make. Other than the normal mince fillings you could opt for any ingredients which you could find in your fridge! J If you wish to eat healthier, you can make the wonton soup instead. Check out my previous post on this.


Deep Fried Wontons 金元宝炸云吞- Featured in Group Recipes 20/02/2011
Check out the step by step in folding wanton into Gold ingots shape.


1 packet of wonton wrappers (square ones)
½ small bowl of water (use to seal wanton skin)

Minced pork/chicken, prawns ( you can replace with veggie fillings)
Spring onions – finely chopped
Light soy sauce to taste
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. corn flour or potato starch (to soften the mince)
Sprinkle of pepper

Cucumber/tomato – slice into thin pieces and place around the plate
  1. In a bowl, combine minced pork with the marinade ingredients. Mix them well and set aside.
  2. Place a wonton wrapper on the palm of your hand. Place ½ tsp filling in a corner of the wrapper, fold up to make a small triangle.
  3. Fold the triangle to the middle.
  4. Turn wonton with triangle face down and moisten the left corner edge of the wrapper with water.
  5. Overlap the right end corners to left moist corner and pinch the ends firmly to seal it creating a nurse cap looks.(refer photo)
  6. Once completed, place them on a plate, cover with a dry towel and set aside.
  7. The wontons can be prepared in advance covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated, rest at room temperature before frying.
  8. Heat up oil in a wok over medium heat.
  9. Frying in batches, slowly slide the wontons into the hot oil and fry until golden brown.
  10. Remove and drain oil on paper towels, transfer to platter and garnish with cucumber slices.
  11. Serve hot as finger food with chili or mayonnaise sauce as desired.



适量生抽(酱油), 麻油(1/2茶匙),太白粉,胡椒粉少许


  1. 把一块四方的云吞皮放好,在角落放半茶匙肉馅。
  2. 对上把皮和肉包上行成小三角形,成三角形的面皮后再次折上
  3. 在左上角边皮粘上少许的水,然后将右端角重叠到左角压一压贴起来,造一个护士帽(参考附图)就形成了元宝状的云吞。
  4. 一旦完成,放在盘子里,盖上干毛巾,备用。
  5. 你也可预先准备后用塑料包装和冷藏,在油炸提前拿出稍室温。
  6. 把油烧热后,才把元宝状的云吞一个个的平放到油里(让它保持不变其原来的形状)炸至金黄色即可.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chap Goh Meh 元宵节

17th February was the 15th day of lunar new year and the last day of Chinese New Year (CNY) (元宵节) or "Chap Goh Meh" (Hokkien dialect) which was also known as "Lantern Festival" and Chinese Valentine's day in the Southeast Asia.

On this day, Chinese in Malaysia celebrate with match making events where groups of unmarried ladies throw tangerines into the sea or river with their contact numbers written on them while groups of bachelors wait to pick up these tangerines and the contact number to begin a romantic relationship. You may ask why throw tangerines? This is because tangerines in Hokkien dialect has the homophone of husband, so the hope of finding a husband. J

I celebrated this day by inviting my cooking members over to my house for pot-luck lunch sharing. Thanks to Ellen who shared her catches of snappers and Kahawai fish, we had a great seafood lunch sharing.

I used the snappers for Assam Fish curry cooked with eCosway Assam paste brought over by Jenny. The paste tasted pretty good not too hot, my cooking members from Mainland China and Hong Kong liked it very much.

Assam Snappers

Snappers, eggplants and tomatoes
As for the big Kahawai fish, Ellen handed it over to nearby Chinese restaurant to make sweet and sour Fish.

Ellen's takeaway - Sweet & sour fish

Chap Goh Lunch Sharing - 17/02/2011
Vera's Coconut buns - 椰丝包
Jenny Yip's fruit cake - Birthday cake for Florence and Jenny

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Yee Sang 鱼生

Chinese New Year Dishes – Part 5(年菜之五)

Last Wednesday 9th February was the 7th day of Chinese New Year (年初七)which literally regarded as Man's day "Yan Yak"(人日). Back in Malaysia many would celebrate the day with "Lo Yee Sang" (撈鱼生), a luck bringing Asian salad with various shredded colorful vegetables and assorted toppings with sweet plum sauce and strips of raw fish.

Many find the ritual of stirring with chopsticks and the tossing of the salads high up into the air, interesting. The height of the toss symbolizes the diner's growth in fortunes and career promotions while the fish in the dish symbolizes "abundance", as in Mandarin fish is pronounced as "Yu" with its homophone "surplus (余)" (年年有余 ).

"Lo Hei” (Cantonese 撈起)
Toss as high as possible, the higher the better

Shown below was the Yee Sang made by Pauline of my Auckland wives club during last year CNY pot luck gathering at Yenny's house.

Yee Sang 鱼生

Adding toppings and plum sauce, ready to toss!

Pauline (right) and host Yenny (left) @ 20/02/2010
You can tell how delicious the Yee Sang was!
The dish I brought over - Braised eggs and Mushroom,Braised Pork Hocks, (横财就手)
This salad dish may seem easy to make as it requires not much cooking except deep frying some of the topping ingredients. However, you might be put off by the preparation of cutting various veggies into fine long strips which might be a challenge for your knife skills. Alternatively if you can get hold of a special vegetable peeler with teeth like julienne slicer/mandolin for shredding vegetables, then it will be much quicker. For Yee Sang, it is important to grate veggies into long fine strips as the length symbolizes longevity. J

Unfortunately, this year we did not get to taste this mouth watering appetizer again as she was away for holiday. Below is the recipe forwarded by her to us where she adapted from a newspaper by author Thong Yoke Me.

1) As for fish, you can use fresh salmon, tuna sashimi or even abalone.
2) To avoid having the Yee sang being too soggy, you might need to squeeze about half the liquid from the carrots,
radish and celery, using a new men's size handkerchief will do the trick.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Crispy Dumplings (Kok Chai) 油角仔

Chinese New Year Dishes – Part 4(年菜之四)

Last Thursday (3rd February) was the first day of 2011 Chinese Lunar Year, the beginning of the Rabbit year. First day of Chinese New Year (年初一)to me is a very special day, because I was born on this day too! When I was small, my mum used to celebrate my lunar birthday together with family reunion dinner on this day. I always like to think that when the whole world is celebrating CNY, they are celebrating my birthday too! J

I was disappointed, but expected, to note Chinese New Year was not observed as public holiday here. It was a normal working for JS. After a long summer break, Ming Ray began his first school day of year-2 on this day too. With them away, we weren't able to have much family celebrations, but I still followed the Chinese culture, by giving Ming Ray a red packet "Ang Pao" before sending him to school. However, thanks to my ex-computing cooking group, I still had an enjoyable CNY lunch sharing cum a small birthday celebration on this day after all.

This time the lunch sharing was organized at Vera's house. Like the past lunch gatherings, other than each cooking member bringing a plate for lunch, the host would also give cooking demonstration on her specialty. To celebrate CNY, Vera had shown us the making of Kok Chai (油角仔) which was a "must have" snack during Chinese New Year in her home town in Hong Kong. This little crispy dumpling has peanut as fillings, it is also called peanuts puff. The deep fried golden colour and shape of the puff is similar to gold bullions and a symbol of wealth.

这是香港人过年必有的小吃,油角仔,因为包的是花生馅所以也叫花生角仔! 金黄金黄的油角,像铊铊黄金锭,很有新年好意头!

Crispy Dumplings (Kok Chai) 油角仔 - Featured in Group Recipes 11/02/2011

Commercial made mini Kok Chai - CNY gift set

Sharing the highlights of our lunch sharing and cooking demostration.

Credit to Vera on recipe sharing

600g high ratio flour/Cake flour
(Chlorinated or high ratio flour, also known as Hong King flour, is special cake flour that is able to hold large amounts of liquid. This gives the cake produced a very soft crumb and a light, moist, fine texture.  They are also sweeter, have greater volume and a longer shelf life than cakes made with standard flour - extracted from Bake Info

If cake flour not available, you can also try to turn all purpose flour into cake flour using following method. I extracted this from Joy the baker. )
120 gm. margarine or butter or lard
120g cold water
2 large eggs

300 gm. roasted peanuts – panfry skinned peanut, then remove the skins and chopped fine
80gm. roasted sesame
200 gm. caster sugar
20g shredded coconut
Oil for deep-frying(2 liters )

For pastry:
Using the food processor/bread maker, put margarine, flour and eggs and water into the machine until it becomes a dough. Rest for 30 minutes to allow dough fully absorb the oil, egg and water.

For filling:
Mix all the ingredients together.

To make the puffs pastry:
Use the pasta machine to roll pastry or hand roll using rolling pin into a thin sheet and use cookie cutter to cut into 1 3/4 - 2 inches rounds.

Put in 1/2 tsp of filling into the center of cut pastry and wrap up filling. Pinch edges neatly.

Heat up oil to 170 for deep-frying peanut puffs and fry till golden brown using medium heat. It takes about 8 minutes.Remove and leave them on cooling rack.

our Hong Kong born host - Vera
Let it completely cool before storing into containers.

Don't knead the dough too long will make dumplings skin not crispy but chewy. Rest dough for 30 minutes to allow dough fully absorb the oil, egg and water. This will make crispy dough skin when deep fry.

皮材料 :

餡材料 : (份量隨個人喜愛)

80g芝麻 (用慢火炒香待涼)

做法 :
  1. 用白鑊炒有衣花生, 去衣, 待涼後捣碎,(有衣花生不易炒燶) 將花生,芝麻及糖拌勻,備用。
  2. 將麵粉篩入大碗中,加入菜油(猪油),拌勻 逐少加入水 ,搓和成耳垂般软的面团,用濕布蓋住休息半小时。
  3. 在台上灑上麵粉,取出一小份粉糰,用麵棍壓薄,用杯子印成小圓模取起小圓模,包入適量餡料,對摺成半月形後再用力壓實.  用手指拉出邊位再屈摺入, 每摺入一次就再拉出一次直至尾部為止,收口鎖邊 (Crimping)。
  4. 烧热油后約170 ℃,转中温,炸到金黄香脆(約八分鐘)。放涼架或用廚房紙瀝乾油份待涼即成.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Salted Vegetables Duck Soup (Kiam Chai Ark) 咸菜鸭汤

Chinese New Year Dishes – Part 3(年菜之三)

This Nyonya dish is one of the must in traditional Teow Chew or Hokkien speaking families in the South East Asia during Chinese New Year celebration.

When Auntie Lan was staying with us, I requested her to teach me this grandma recipe. I bought quite a big duck (size 19) for the soup; we ended up using half of the duck only. I still have another half in my freezer that I'm planning to cook this coming Chap Goh Mei (15th day of Lunar New Year) 元宵。

Chinese believe salted mustard green is great in clearing away internal body heat. This soup with salty and sour taste is a great appetizer too. A bowl of the soup instantly opens up one's appetite especially in the hot summer weather.

Salted Vegetables Duck Soup (Kiam Chai Ark) 咸菜鸭汤


Friday, February 4, 2011

Dongpo Pork Belly 东坡肉

Chinese New Year Dishes – Part 2 (年菜之二)

Nowadays with so many restaurants operating nearly 365 days even during Chinese New Year eve, it has become a trend that more and more families opt to eating out instead of having homemade reunion dinners like the old days. Many prefer having reunion dinner at restaurants not only to enjoy the lavish dinners but most importantly to save time and hassle in preparing big meals especially for large families.

Having said that, I still prefer the homely and warm feeling of cooking at home for all the family members. Knowing reunion dinner fell on a Wednesday and with Ming Ray's repeated request to invite his Lego playmates to come over, I had initiated an early reunion dinner last Sunday and invited 3 other families to join us. The task to prepare dinner for more than 16 people was a bit too daunting I thought. At the end I asked the invited families to each bring a plate (Kiwi slang for pot –luck). On my own I had prepared 3 dishes for this dinner.

As The Chinese New Year's Eve dinner was commonly very sumptuous and traditionally included chicken, duck, pork, prawns and fish, I decided to try out something more difficult with pork. I dug out my recipe books and finally picked this, Dongpo Pork Belly 东坡肉, which I adapted from another of my favourite Malaysia's Chinese best-seller cookbook by Chef Alan Kok.

Dongpo Pork Belly 东坡肉 - Featured in Group Recipes 04/02/2011

The dish was regarded as China Hang Zhou (杭州) signature dish, named after their famous scholar Dong Po 东坡 in the Song Dynasty.

This dish was very time consuming to prepare, requiring 3 hours of slow cooking. Due to an unexpected visitor during the process of cooking, I only managed to steam for 2 hours. Otherwise I believed the pork would have been even tastier and would melt in the mouth!

杭州的名菜, 由北宋名诗人苏东坡所创制而得名. 传说他在杭任太守期间组织民工治理西湖,功成后,把杭州人民送给他的贺礼猪肉与绍酒命人烧成红烧肉慰劳挖湖民工,后人遂称东坡肉. 它的特点是肉呈乳红色,汁浓味醇,酥而不碎,肥而不腻,香气四溢,入口不油不腻。

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Homemade Chinese Preserved Pork (Lap Yuk) 自制腊肉

Chinese New Year Dishes – Part 1 (年菜之一, 腊味)

Another 4 more days, 3rd February 2011, we are going to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year (CNY). However, until now I hardly feel any CNY atmosphere around here. I suppose living in a western country where CNY is not a public holiday the festival celebration atmosphere is much diluted. Not like back home, 1 or 2 months before CNY, one can begin to feel the CNY mood with CNY songs being played non-stop on radio, TV stations airing CNY related advertisements, shopping malls and shops decorated with glittery vibrant Chinese displays to embrace this upcoming spring festival.

 To create the CNY mood, I decided to work on some CNY dishes. Months ago, a friend of mine from Guangzhou gave me some of her homemade preserved bacon and shared the recipe of making them. To the Chinese, these are preserved delicacies sometimes used as major CNY dishes to celebrate the spring festival. Other than preserved pork (bacon), the other two major preserved delicacies are preserved ducks (腊鸭) and preserved Chinese sausages (腊肠)commonly use in fried rice. These preserved delicacies also make good traditional gifts during the festive seasons, especially during CNY. It always bugs me that commercially made preserved pork may contain industrial grade coloring and nitrate I decided to make my own preserved pork since the method mentioned is not complicated at all.

Chinese Preserved  Pork (Lap Yuk 腊肉) - Featured in Group Recipes 1/2/2011
Stir fried dwarf beans with chinese preserved bacon

I used it to stir fry with my home grown dwarf beans and served in reunion dinner @ 30/01/2011

The original method involves piercing a hole in the pork belly strips and hang to dry in the sun. I didn't follow this step as this would have attracted flies! Yes, flies! Here in the summer, there are so many flies coming out of nowhere and they are especially easily attracted by seafood or food with strong flavor. I was surprised to see so many of them, as I thought in colder countries you tend to see less of them. The flies in Auckland seem to be much bigger than what we have in Malaysia! These flies are so irritating that we had to ask a Malaysian friend to bring over a mosquito zapper to kill them! Sometimes, when I fry fish, hubby would have to standby with zapper to zap them by my side! J

In addition to these preserved delicacies, Bak Kua (Pork Jerky) is also another great CNY gift among the Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore. You can check out this recipe which I covered before.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my Chinese readers a very
Happy and Prosperous Rabbit Year ahead!
Gong Xi Fa Cai!

在海外西方国家庆祝春节,节日气氛自然就淡,为了在佳节平添一份传统氛围和有着浓郁的节日气氛, 我自己动手制作一些腊肉刚好可在春节里食用,既可避免工业化学物质,吃得安心饱了口福,也添了过节的气氛。



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