Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Suan chai with sliced pork

Using my suan chai from my 2nd attempt, I decides to cook it for lunch at MIL's place.

Usually we have porridge and this will be a good dish to go with it.
Furthermore, i have been telling her about my suan chai making... have to let her try it!

She told me previously that for preserve vegetables, there is always a funny smell and the only way to get rid of it is to pan fry it.

So I followed her instructions this time.

What do you need?
- Half a piece of lean pork (about 150g, sliced thinly)
- suan chai (diced - made from 2 packets of china chye xin)
- Garlic in oil
- Seasoning for the pork (Soya sauce, pepper, chinese wine, sesame seed oil)
- Corn flour
- Black vinegar
- Sugar
- Soya sauce

How to do it?
Marinate the sliced pork with seasoning. Set aside.

Heat pan without oil. When pan is red hot, add the suan chai and pan fry it. Simply toss the turn and fry and fry until the suan chai is totally dry and no water vapour is emitted.
Takes at least 5 mins.

Remove suan chai from pan and set aside.

Add 1 tbsp of corn flour into pork. Mix well.
Heat pan and add garlic in oil. When garlic is browned, added the pork.

Stir fry until pork slices are golden browned.

Add suan chai and continue frying. Add 1 tbsp of soya sauce, 2 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tbsp of black vinegar and 1/2 cup of water.

Simmer on low to medium heat until water is reduced to 1/10 cup or totally dry (up to you).


Monday, May 18, 2009

Baby butterhead salad

After yoga one day, suddenly has craving for salad.

I have a small tub of honey mustard dressing from my Quizinos salad (they gave me 2 tubs, i only ate 1) and japanese sesame seed dressing at home.

Pop down to Cold Storage at Valley point and bought myself a box of baby butterhead (2 'head' in 1 box)

What do you need?
- 1 'head' of baby butterhead
- 1 handful of dried cranberries
- 1 handful of cheese crackers
- 1 tbsp of honey mustard salad dressing
- 1/2 tbsp of honey
- 1/2 tbsp of japanese sesame seed salad dressing

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dumpling soup

I had some leftover minced meat from making another dish for mother's day celebration.

So decided to make them into dumpling soup for dinner. All i need is to pop down to NTUC and get myself a packet of dumpling skin, 1 packet of fresh medium sized prawns and a packed of xiao bai chye.

What do you need?
- 1/2 packet of xiao bai chye
- 1 packet of dumpling skin (cost $0.80, 13 pieces)

For fillings
- 1/2 - 3/4 packet of minced meat (1 pkt cost around $2.50 - $3)
- 13 prawns (shelled and gutted, keep shells and head for making soup)
- 3 water chestnut (peel, diced)
- 1/2 handful of dried scrimps (soaked and diced)
- 2 dried mushroom (soaked and diced)
- seasoning (1/2 tbsp of oyster sauce, 1 tbsp of soya sauce, 1 tbsp of sesame seed oil, 2 tbsp of chinese wine, pepper)
- 1 tbsp of starch flour

How to make the prawn soup
Heat pot with oil (abt 1 tbsp), fry prawn head and shells until it turns red.

Continue to stir fry for at least 3-5mins untils its dry and fragrant. Add 1/2 tbsp of soya sauce into pot and let it sizzle.
Add 5 cups of water.

Reduce heat to low, simmer prawn soup for 30 mins. Reduced soup to around 3 cups (1.5 cup per bowl)

How to prepare the fillings
In a bowl, place minced meat and add starch powder and water.
Mix and toss minced meat until it has a starchy and sticky texture.

In another bowl, add water chestnut, dried scrimps, dried mushroom and seasonings. Combine well and add to minced meat. Mix well.

For full details of the techniques, see makings of filling for Rou Bao

How to make dumplings
Divide minced meat into 13 portions (as i only have 13 dumpling skins).
Wrap minced meat and 1 prawn in each dumpling skin.
Seal the sides of the dumpling skin with water or egg white.

Bring water to boil in another pot, add 1/2 tbsp of cooking oil and a pinch of salt into the water.
When water is boiling, add dumplings and cook dumplings until the dumplings are cooked.
How do you know when the dumplings are cooked?
The dumplings will float to the water surface.

Fish dumplings into bowl directly.
Fish prawn head and shells from the prawn soup.
Add xiao bai chai. Cook xiao bai chye for 2 mins.
Scoop xiao bai chye and prawn soup into the bowl containing the dumplings.

You can replace dried mushroom with dried black fungus.
Soak dried balck fungus and cut into strips

Pan fried minced meat

Went to MIL place for lunch on saturday... has this minced pork dish served with teochew porridge.

Apparently, this is hubby and his brother's favourite. I didnt know that...
Its so easy, I replicate it the next weekend at home.

The result?

Taste just like mummy's. I am a genius... haha

What do you need?
- half a packet of minced meat (from NTUC, 1 pkt cost ard $2.50 - $3)
- 3 shallots (sliced thinly)
- 1 handful of dried scrimps (soaked, diced)
- soya sauce, chinese wine, pepper, sesame seed oil
How to do it?
In a bowl, combine dried scrimps with sliced shallots, add 2 tbs of soya sauce, pepper, 1 tbs of sesame seed oil, 2 tbs of chinese wine. Mix well.
Pour mixture into minced meat. Mix well.
Marinate in the fridge for 20-30 mins.
Heat pan, place 1 tbs of minced garlic in oil, fry until garlic turns golden brown.
Add minced meat and fry until all the pinkish pork turns white. When stir frying, breakdown lumps of minced meat into small pieces.
While stir frying, you will see juices oozing out from the pork. At this time, add another tbs of soya sauce and stir fry until all juices are reduced.
When the pan is dry, add 2 tbs spoon of chinese wine and stir fry quickly.
Add a final dash of sesame seed oil and pepper.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rou bao (Meat bun)

I learn 2 techniques about making pork patties from this lesson and i can now apply it when i make meat balls and other dishes involving minced meat....

You will read about the techniques in the process of preparing the meat below.

What do you need for the meat filling?

- Pork 500g, cubed finely (or use minced pork)
- Water chestnut, 6 pieces, cubed
- Mushroom, soaked and diced finely
- Spring onion 1 stalk
- Potato starch 2 tbsp
- Salt 1 tsp
- Sugar 3 tsp
- Oyster sauce 2 tsp
- Pepper
- Sesame seed oil 1/2 tbsp
- Cooking oil 1 tbsp

How to prepare the meat filling

In a large bowl, combine pork, salt, 2 tsp of water and starch powder. Mix well.

First technique

Continue mixing and tossing the meat into the bowl for 5 - 10 mins until the minced pork has a starchy and sticky texture. Pork (similar to prawns) has a natural ability to generate a starchy texture after kneading. If you cannot achieve the texture, add more water and starch powder. (Mixture 1)

Once you can lift the entire ball of pork in a ball using your hand and it doesnt disintegrate, the pork is ready for use. The end product is meatballs that has more bite and the meat holds it shape after you bite into it.

Second Technique

In a separate bowl, combine mushroom and water chestnut. Add sugar, pepper, osyter sauce and mix well. (Mixture 2)

We all tend to add the above ingredients and seasoning to the pork and mix together. BUT according to the instructor, if you mix them separately before adding to the pork, the pork just taste different.

Shared with hubby this technique and he thought of a scientic explanation. Water chestnut and mushroom will release water and at the same time, absorb the marination better. If you add the to pork directly, the pork will soak everything up. Makes sense, dont know...

Combine mixture 1 and 2, mix well.

Add sesame seed oil, cooking oil and spring onions, mix well.

Spoon the conbined mixture into 22 balls of meat and place them onto the tray. Keep them in the freezer and freeze it for 10 mins as frozen meat balls are easier to wrap into the dough later.

What do you need for the bun skin (dough)?

- 300g plain flour
- 50g sugar
- 5g baking powder
- 5g yeast
- 5g white oil
- 1 egg white
- 120g water (approximate)

How to make the dough?

Place flour into a bowl, make a hole on the centre of the flour.
Add sugar, baking powder, yeast, white oil and egg white into the hole, mix it with a bit of the surrounding flour until mixed.

Adding water very slowly, bring in the flour from the sides of the whole and incorporate the flour into the dough. Adding water slowly each time to incorporate more flour.

When all the flour are added to the dough (the bowl will be clean), remove from bowl into a clean table top and continue kneading.

If the dough is dry during kneading, cut the dough through the centre, flatten it, wet hands and rub hands over the flatten dough. Fold in the dough from the sides and continue kneading.

You will need 5 - 10 mins for the sugar in the dough to dissolve and the action of the yeast to kick in. The completed dough should have a smooth surface and springy to the touch.

Once the dough is ready, roll out into a long 'rope' and pinch it out into cubes of 20g each. the dough can make 22 balls of 20g dough.

Flatten dough using the palm of your hand. Using a rolling pin, roll out the sides until you have a flatten circular shaped dough. The centre of the dough should be thicker to be able to hold the meat.

Please frozen meat balls onto the dough and pinch the sides of the dough to wrap meat inside the dough, seal tightly.

Place completed bun onto a piece of paper and let it rest for 20 mins before steaming.

Steam on high for 10 mins and you will have freshly steamed bun from the steamer

View cross section of the bun here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Red bean agar agar

What do you need?
- 1 packet of agar agar strips (37.5gm net weight, see packaging)
- Fine sugar 600g
- Coconut milk 500g
- Red bean, uncooked 150g (cooked 250 - 300g)
- Corn flour 200g

How to do it?

Cook red bean beforehand:
Soak red bean overnight or at least 1 hour
Bring pot of water to boil before adding the red beans (according to instructor, if you add red bean in water and bring it to boil together, the red bean takes much longer time to cook)
Cook red bean until soft. The beans should be whole and not broken. Takes 45min - 1 hour.
Drain red bean from red bean soup, keep both beans and soup separately.

Making red bean cake
Soak agar agar strips in water for 1 hour.
Drain water and cut agar agar strips into 2 inch lengths

In a separate bowl, add 600g water into cornflour (Corn flour mixture)

Add more water into red bean soup until total weight is 1600g.
Bring to boil with agar agar strips until agar agar dissolve totally into the soup.

Add coconut milk and sugar. Bring to boil.
Turn off the heat.

Add in corn flour mixture. (Check on corn flour mixture, if the flour has already sinked to the bottom of the bowl, stir it up before adding)

Keep stirring/whisking until well mixed. Turn heat back on and continue to stir until the mixture thickens and boils again.

Add red bean and mix well, careful not the break the beans.

Pour into small cup moulds or tray immediately.
When cool, put in fridge until it hardens totally.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sour vegetables (suan chai) - 2nd attempt

My 2nd attempt at making suan chai....
See first attempt here

Today is day 4 of my suan chai in the making. Tomorrow it will be ready!

This time, the results looks better.
- the sour smell is stronger
- the vege looks dark greenish (instead of yellowish)
- the water didnt turn mouldy

What did I do right this time?
A couple of things i do differently, thats for sure.

First: I let it bath in the afternoon sun

According to my ah ma, sun bathing it is a good-to-have, not must-have
My uncle commented to say its the water in the vege that will cause mould.

So on a lazy friday afternoon, I decided to wash them and let it dry....
and guess what? today is day 4 and the water didnt turn mouldy!
(see the pic of first attempt)
But this is not a fair experiment lah... there are a couple other things i do differently.
Second: I use my WMF pot instead of the glass casserole.
Maybe using a pot is more air tight? Maybe using a pot doesnt allow light to go in and will 'preserve' it better?
Third: I use more water to soak the vege to start with.
There is enough water to submerge the vege from day 1.
In my first attempt, I use one cup of water. The water barely cover half the vege even if I press it down with a plate.
Its only until day 3 there is enough water released from the vege to submerge the vege entirely.
Maybe by then its too little, too late?
Fourth: I double the amount of salt and sugar
This is because i use more water and have a adjust the salt and sugar accordingly what...
So can someone tell me what's the success factor?!!!!

Dim Sum class #2

In lesson 2, we learn to make red bean agar agar and rou bao (meat bun)

Red bean agar agar is similar to the chestnut cake, you may think. But there is a reason for the instructor to teach us both. The chestnut cake requires steaming whereas the red bean agar agar does not require steaming and will harden upon cooking.

Teaching us both will give us options as well as compare the 'kueh' like textures.

You may notice the red bean agar agar in the picture above is different from the picture here.
The picture above is the versio of the red bean agar agar cut out from the tray whereas the other is into small cup moulds.
In the above picture, its clear that the red beans are whole and its nice to chew on...

Fried Mee Tai Mak (Bee Thye Mak) - Improved version

Following my previous attempt(s) to make Fried Mee Tai Mak, after today, i can finally say 'I have mastered it'

My improved version is incorporated the theory imparted by my dim sum instructor when she is cooking the glutinous rice.
She said need fresh shallots and fry in oil for the oil to be infused with sweetness of the fresh shallots, and dried mushroom needs to be fried until fragrant (same thing for dried scrimps)

So this time, instead of frying the Mee Tai Mak using garlic and then sprinkle with fried shallots at the end, i cut out fresh shallots and cook it from scratch.


What do you need?
- 1 packet of Mee Tai Mak
- 1/2 packet of minced pork (marinate with wine, soya sauce, pepper, sesame oil)
- 1/2 chicken breast (sliced thinly, marinate with wine, soya sauce, pepper, sesame oil)
- 1 handful of dried scrimps, diced (washed and soak in hot water, keep water for use later)
- 3 dried mushroom (washed and soak in hot water, remove stem, sliced thinly)
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 5 shallots (skinned and sliced)
- 2 stalks of coriander (remove roots, stalks into 1-2 cm lengths, leaves into 2-3 cm)

How do you do it?
- Heat oil in pan, slowly fry the shallots until golden brown

Remove shallots from pan and set aside for use.

Using the oil from frying the shallots, fry the dried scrimps and mushrooms until fragrant. Takes approximately 2 mins.

Push mushroom and dried scrimps to the side of the pan.

Add minced pork and break minced pork into small pieces.

When the pork is 80% cooked, mix with mushroom and dried scrimps, push to side of the pan.

Add 1 teaspoon of corn flour to chicken, mix well and add chicken into pan.

When chicken is 80% cooked, mix all ingredients together and add Mee Tai Mak

Add water from soaking dried scrimps (approximately half cup) and 1 teaspoon of dark soya sauce (for colour) and 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce. Mix well and let it simmer for 2 mins, stirring constantly.

Mee Tai Mak turns transparent when cooked (compare the 2 pics above and below)

Add beaten eggs, mixing it stiring quickly if you dont want big pieces of egg and just want the egg to coat the mee tai mak
I like small pieces of visible egg so after pouring in beaten eggs, i resist stiring for 20 sec before i stir fry. This allow the eggs at the side of the pan to harden and cook.
Add coriander stalks and most of the leaves to stir fry until soft.

Leave the mee tai mak to brown slightly in the pan for 1-2 mins
Add a generous dash of chinese wine and some sesame seed oil and quickly stir for 1 last time before serving.

To serve, disk mee tai mak into plate, garnish with remaining coriander leaves.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fried black pomfret

Went to Bukit Merah NTUC and is always tempted by the display of fresh fish at the wet market section.

Can sense how deprived i am??

Bought a black pomfret and the only known way to cook it is to fry it.

What do you need?
- 1 black pomfret (mine cost $2.50)
- salt and pepper
- peanut oil

How to do it?
Get the supermarket staff to gut and scale the pomfret for you.

Check the stomach and make sure its cleanly gutted.
If not, use a scissors and cut off whatever reddish 'leftovers' inside.

Rub inside and outside of the fish with salt and rinse off immediately.

Using a sharp knife, slice the flesh of the fish horizontally on both sides.
This will cook the fish faster as well as marinate it better.

To marinate, sprinkle salt and pepper on fish and rub it into the flesh.
Allow it to marinate in the fridge for 20 mins.

Before cooking, coat the fish thinly with corn flour.

Heat oil in pan to medium heat and slow fry fish.

The fish will take approximately 15 mins, flipping it from side to side every 3 - 4 mins.

Serve immediately to enjoy the crispy fish skin!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dim Sum class #1

Photos incomplete as my camera run out of battery...
remaining photos need to get from my fren.
not in the mood to blog so upload photos first.
Will come back and edit this another day!