Friday, April 22, 2011

Drunken Herbal Prawn Soup


500gms large prawns (freshest you can find - if you can get live ones esp. tiger prawns, it's the best)
3cm length ginger ) cut into fine strips
2 tbsp goji berries
2 dried mushroom ) soaked till soft and sliced thinly
2 pieces wood ear ) soaked till soft and cut into fine strips
2 slices dong quai (angelica sinensis) - reduce or omit if you do not want a herbal soup
1 clove garlic (smashed)
2 - 3 cups water depending on the volume of soup you wish to have
1/2 cups rice wine
1-2 tsp light soya sauce
a dash of white pepper powder


1. Boil water in a pot (use claypot, if you have). Toss in ginger, goji berries, garlic, mushroom, wood ear and dong quai. Let simmer till the aroma of dong quai is released.

2. Pour in rice wine and bring to boil and stir in the prawns. Cook prawns until they turn pink and turn off heat. Do not overcook the prawns.

3. Season with soya sauce and white pepper.

The drunken prawn soup I have made here looks dark as my homemade yellow rice wine has aged. If you use a "young" batch of homemade rice wine or commercially produced ones, you will get a much paler colour.

Enjoy this tummy-warming soup piping hot on a cold, rainy day :)

I just had mine - like the whole pot of this and forgot to eat my steamed rice and side dish of kimchi!! SO GOOD!

It doesn't look soupy here as I needed to have the prawns take centrestage for the photoshoot.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Herbed Mushroom and Feta Tart

This tart came up because I had leftover pastry, feta, cheddar and egg mixture from making spinach & feta quiche for a bake sale :) Had this tart in mind already when I was out at the bake sale and bought some white button mushrooms.

So, the measurement of ingredients is approximate but I feel cooking should be fun and flexible to a certain extent. As some of you know, I improvise as I go along ~ as long as taste is good, it does not matter if you cut some corners. Simplicity is an art.

Seriously, if you have ready made pastry in your freezer and your favourite cheese (not the processed slices though), it's easy to make a quick lunch in the form of a tart.

Herbed Mushroom and Feta Tart
(11in x 7in tart pan or baking dish)


2 pcs ready made short crust pastry (25cmx25cm)
300gms white button mushroom (sliced thinly)
1 shallot (finely chopped)
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1/2 cup milk or cream
2 small eggs or 1 large egg
80 gms feta (I usually use Lemnos but we now have Apetina in Tetrapak of 200gm also)
50 gms grated sharp cheddar
1 - 1.5 tsp Italian herbs (fresh is better but dry works too)
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

1. Heat oven to 200 deg C. Roll out pastry and line a greased baking tin or tart pan with the dough. Prick dough with fork at 2 cm intervals. Bake for about 10-15 mins (light golden colour). Remove from oven and allow to cool. Reduce oven temp to 175 deg C.

2. Heat olive oil in a pan. Fry shallot and garlic till aromatic but not browned. Toss in sliced mushrooms and saute till liquid evaporates. Let cool.

3. Sprinkle half of the grated cheddar evenly on top of the baked pastry.

4. Distribute sauteed sliced mushroom on top of the cheddar and season evenly with black pepper and Italian herbs.

5. Crumble feta (big or small crumbs, up to you) evenly on top of mushrooms. Whisk egg and cream/milk with black pepper and salt (if you find that you like the tart a bit more salty despite the feta). Pour egg mixture onto the mushroom/feta layers.

6. Top with remaining grated cheddar and bake for 35 mins or until brown.

Enjoy it warm with a fresh salad.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Twice-Cooked Chicken Thigh

On days I feel "lazy" to wait around the oven to check the correct doneness of chicken (totally cooked cos the sight of chicken blood makes our stomachs turn - yet still soft and juicy as opposed to all dried out), I CHEAT!

The recent sweltering weather is the main reason why I don't really want to mess around the oven too much.

Ingredients 4 chicken thighs - washed, dried with paper towels and massaged with a tsp of salt each
1 garlic bulb -washed
1 inch old ginger - smashed
1 large onion - peeled and quartered
4 tbsp cooking oil- less if you use non-stick pot
2 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
2 tsp white pepper
4 potatoes the size of a fist - peeled and cut into 1/2 cm thick slices
About 2 cups water

1. Heat oil in a pot enough to just accommodate the 4 thighs flat.
2. Once oil is hot, place chicken in, skin side up.
3. Throw in the garlic bulb, ginger and onion.
4. Turn chicken so that now the skin is downwards - turn it back in a minute or 2 - do it gently and try not to break the skin.
5. Throw in potatoes and try to fill the empty spaces between chicken pieces.
6. Pour in soya sauces and white pepper followed by water enough to cover chicken/potatoes about 3/4 way. Bring to boil on high heat. Reduce heat once water has come to a boil.
7. Simmer for about 45 mins - 1 hour over low heat.
8. 5 mins to 45mins or 1 hour, heat oven to 200 deg C using BROIL function.
9. Gently remove the thighs with slotted spoon to minimize taking in liquid and place on baking tray.
10. Place tray on uppermost rack in the oven and broil for 5-10 mins until skin is dark - I like it a bit charred. You still get well-cooked but soft juicy chicken thighs. 11. Serve with the potatoes.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Soya Sauce Braised Chicken Wings

In my post on Braised Soya Sauce Chicken , I mentioned that the extra braising liquid can be kept to braise parts of the chicken. Here is a picture of the wings which I had braised in the leftover liquid yesterday.

Today, I cooked some angel hair pasta to go with Tau Yew Bak. Surprisingly, the East meets West combo went really well. I have also added chilli flakes to the tau yew bak for an extra kick. We had the pasta with Greek salad and rounded off the meal with red velvet and marble cakes.

This is likely the last post on cooking with soya sauce. I have to cook some Western stuffs before my husband suffers from yellow fever.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Minute Steak with Cranberry Red Wine Sauce

2 minute steaks (about 160gms each)
2 cloves garlic - minced

black pepper
2 shallots - sliced
2 tbsp dried cranberries
2 tbsp frozen and thawed cranberries
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine
1 tbsp butter

1. Season steaks with garlic, black pepper & salt. Sear the steaks on both sides till brown. Transfer to plate and keep warm covered with tin foil.
2. Turn off heat on the stove. Throw in shallots, both cranberries and red wine onto the pan which was used to cook the steaks. Turn on to the lowest heat and stir around the pan till shallots are browned.
3. Pour in stock and wine. Increase heat and bring to a boil, scrape the sides of pan and boil until liquid is reduced by about half.
4. Reduce heat, stir in mustard and continue to simmer until liquid is further reduced to the consistency preferred - I like mine thick.
5. Remove from heat and stir in butter.
6. Pour into a sauce jug and serve with the steaks. By now, you should have roasted new potatoes in the oven and some buttered haricot verts ready. Lovely with soft dinner rolls.

Grilled Black Pepper Lamb Shoulder with Leeks/Mango and Vegetables Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette

Grilled Black Pepper Lamb with Leeks
2 lamb shoulder steaks
1 stalk leek (prefer Australian - remove the fibrous part, cut into 4 cm lengths and then cut half, lengthwise)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tsp butter
black pepper
sea salt
1. Season the lamb generously with freshly ground black pepper and garlic for 1/2 hour. Season with salt just before grilling.
2. Grill on pan till desired doneness both sides (many websites will guide you on how to grill lamb).
3. Remove onto plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
4. Add butter to pan with all the juice and bits from the lamb and add cut leek onto the pan as well. Add about 4 tbsp water and cook till leeks are soft (More water can be added, if need to). Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
5. Dish out and serve with the grilled lamb.

Mango and Vegetable Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette
1 just-ripe sweet mango - too ripe and it gets mushy (cubed)
1 Japanese cucumber - kyuri (remove seeds and cut into cubes)
1 red onion the size of a golf ball - love those Aussie ones (sliced into half rings and separated)
1 bell pepper (cubed)
a handful of cherry tomatoes (halve about 6 of them and leave the rest whole)

1 clove garlic (chopped finely)
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
a touch of Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar (omit if mango is very sweet)
a pinch of salt
black pepper

a. Put mango, cucumber, onion, bell pepper and tomatoes into salad bowl. Chill well.
b. Mix garlic, olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and sugar well.
c. Pour onto the mango-veg and toss just before serving.
d. Top with freshly ground black pepper.

Recipe is flexible, vary the quantity of mango and veg to your liking.


Monday, March 07, 2011

Braised Soya Sauce Chicken and Mushroom

I have been craving soya sauce dishes these few days... what better way to satiate the craving than cooking them myself?

Ingredients :
1 whole chicken of about 1.2 kg approx. (halved if plan to chop into pieces or quartered if would like to serve as-is after cooking)
4 tbsp thick soya sauce (I use Elephant Brand)
4 tbsp light soya sauce (I use TST Brand/ or Pearl River Bridge)
2 inches old ginger (smashed)
2-4 tsp white pepper
8 dried Chinese mushroom (soaked in hot water for about 1/2 hour, washed and remove stem)
sesame oil
2 bulbs garlic (smashed lightly)
2 cups water approx. (or just enough to cover the chicken in the pot - so, really depends on your pot size)
1 head of broccoli the size of a fist (cut into florets) or 1 cucumber

Method :
1. Heat up about 2 tbsp sesame oil in a pot huge enough to just accomodate the chicken pieces laid flat.
2. Throw in garlic bulbs and ginger, stir till fragrant.
3. Place chicken pieces with skin side up in the pot.
4. Pour in the 2 types of soya sauce into the pot along with white pepper. Add in water to just cover the chicken pieces (amount of water really depends on the size of the pot - don't use too big a pot). Bring to boil, add in the mushroom and thereafter maintain medium heat for 15 minutes.
5. Reduce heat to lowest and braise for 45 minutes more moving the chicken pieces lightly every now and then with a spatula.
6. Turn off heat and leave the chicken in the covered pot for 2 more hours or so.
7. Remove and serve as you like (chopped or as-is) with the mushroom. The meat will be falling off its bones.
8. Meanwhile, bring braising liquid to boil and reduced to gravy thickened with some potato or corn flour (about 2 tsp) diluted with very little water. Or, you may keep the liquid in the fridge to braise next batch of chicken wings etc.

To blanch broccoli, bring water to boil in a saucepan, add a tsp of salt and 1 tbsp olive oil. Blanch sliced stem first by about 1/2 minute earlier followed by the florets for 1/2 minute. Rinse immediately under running water to stop the cooking process. Delicious dunked in the gravy.

Great with hot fluffy white rice and bird's eye chilli dip (ground or pounded bird's eye chilli/minced garlic/light soya sauce/lime juice).

Friday, March 04, 2011

Tau Yew Bak / Tau Eu Bak (Braised Soya Sauce Pork)

Below is "recipe" with 100% pork belly.

In fact, I use "gut feel" when I cook and this dish is great as one does not have to be precise with the ingredients. Add more salt or soya sauce if want it to be saltier, use a wee bit rock sugar if want a sweetish taste, add more or less dark soya sauce depending on the shade you want.... :)

Ingredients :

600gms pork belly (with skin on) - I bought the ones which they have already cut into about 3 inches in length.
2 tbsp thick soya sauce (I use Cheong Chan Elephant brand cooking caramel - the best cos I am so used to the flavor growing up)
1-2 tbsp light soya sauce (I use TST brand)
1 whole bulb garlic (lightly smashed)
1/2-1 tsp white pepper, personal preference
1 cup water approx.

Method :

1. Heat a pot (if w/o lean meat, I prefer to use non-stick). Otherwise, use a wee bit of sesame oil just to coat the pot to prevent meat sticking
to the sides. Medium heat : Throw in the pork belly and garlic. Stir around until all sides of meat are not pink.

2. Add in both soya sauces and white pepper. Quick stir. Add water. Bring to boil. Continue to cook for about 1/2 hour on medium heat. At this time, I use kitchen scissors to cut to the size I want.

3. Reduce heat to the lowest and continue for another 1/2 hour.
At anytime if water has evaporated too fast, add more water bit by bit. Don't worry if you have added too much, leave it longer on the stove and it will soon evaporate. The longer the meat is braised, the softer and more delicious it gets. That is why it is even better eaten the next day.

Taste, if not salty or peppery enough, you can add a wee bit of salt and more white pepper.

10 mins before serving, add hardboiled eggs, if you like.

The lazy way is to boil water and then add everything in, cook 30 minutes on medium heat, cut the pork, lower heat and braise 30 minutes more.

Serve hot with lots of white rice and sambal belacan (but my personal fav is with cut bird's eye chili).

Options :
1. Use part lean meat + pork belly, pork ribs + pork belly (but use about 2 tbsp sesame oil if mixed with lean meat or pork ribs)
2. Can add eggs, hard tofu or fu chuk 10 minutes before ready.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Simple but Deliciously Tender Roast Chicken

Ingredients :
1 whole chicken about 1.5kg - cleaned and gutted (pat dry)
1 whole lemon (poked throughout)

Spice rub :
1 tbspful salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp paprika
4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

Heat oven to 180 deg C.

Mix spice rub ingredients together well. Rub all over chicken and remember to season the cavity as well. This can be done a few hours ahead.

Place lemon in cavity and place in roasting pan. Roast for about 1-1.5 hours. Serve chicken after at least 15mins of "resting". It really is simple (except that fat on chicken skin may spatter and the oven has to be cleaned after).


Sweet Nectarine and Rocket Salad

Ingredients :
1 nectarine (remove stone and sliced as thin as possible)
a handful of rocket leaves
a handful of mixed salad leaves
8 cherry tomatoes (sliced thinly)
1 small red onion (peeled and quartered)
Dressing (mied in a screwtop jar) :
1 clove garlic (chopped finely)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sugar or Maple syrup
a pinch of salt
dash of freshly ground black pepper
Pour dressing onto salad and serve cold.