Thursday, December 23, 2010

How to prepare dried sea cucumber

Hubby bought dried sea cucumber from Dalian China. A delicacy and supposing very expensive in Singapore as this is the spiky one. Costs around $10 each, but after proper treatment, i can see why its worth the money...

His Dalian colleagues recommended this brand and they went to carrefour Dalian to buy. Buy it anywhere else, beware of fakes! They have instructions on how to prepare the cucumbers and even recipes too!

Its amazing how much it can 'grow'...

Dried form

After soaking in water (in the fridge) for 3-4 days. Water needs to be changed daily.


Before cooking, cut open the tummy side of the sea cucmber, remove the intestines and the sandy dirt near the 'mouth'. Fairly simple. When in doubt, simply remove any suspicious looking stuff inside.

The cooking process is pretty tedious.
Place in pot with water covering the sea cucumber for at least 10 cm.
Cook for 40 mins, off heat and simmer for 30 mins.
Cook for 30 mins, off heat and simmer for 25 mins.
Press sea cucumber to ensure its soften throughout.
Cook and simmer again if u can feel hardness. The time can be adjusted accordingly.
its 70% done now.

Place in ice water, put into the fridge for 2-3 days. Change water daily.
This is the end product. Ready to be stored in the freezer if not consuming immediately.

Isnt it amazing?! This is almost ready to eat.

i cooked it 2 ways so far. First is in a soup. Double boil 2 sea cucumber with about 5 dried scallops, 2 dried oyster, 2 dried mushroom. Cook for 30-45 mins. The soup is starchy and rich but the sea cucumber is pretty much dissolved and we cant taste the crunch.

Second time, i had some soya sauce gravy from braised duck. So i added water to the gravy, again add  dried scallops, dried oyster and dried mushroom. Braise the sauce for 20-30 mins until the dried stuff are soft and all flavours released. Add sea cucumber and cook for another 5-10 mins. The sea cucumber will remain chewy to the bite and be infused with the savory sauce. Yum!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Soup bombs

My soup 'bombs'.

Isn't this is how we create water bombs during school days?

This is my way of stocking up soup / stock in my freezer. Packing in bags makes them easier to store, saves space and most importantly, it thaws easily too (dunk the bag in a bowl of water or remove from bag and place the giant 'ice' cube into a pot, place it over fire).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Multiple V soup

Didnt they say we need to eat vegetables that are of different colours cos they will give us different vitamins?

Well, this is one of those rare days that i have a stock of vegetables in my fridge.
Potatos, capsicum, tomato, celery and watercress.

Added a slice of fish for protein.
The potato provides the carbo i need, so no need for rice or noodle.
This soup is a meal in itself. Perfect for my dieting plans.

I can only have this kind of meals when i am home alone.

The soup looks oily, think its from the chicken stock i used. 
Using water will be the healthier choice but flavour is more important!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Beef Stew again...

Following my first attempt at beef stew, this is my 2nd attempt.

This time round, there is a special request from my MIL as she does not know what to do with the beef in her fridge. Instead of just giving her the receipe, i decided to cook it for her to try first.

So the plan is to cook for Saturday dinner but i saw the beef chunks on sale when shopping during lunch time. So i decided to stock up the beef! super good price, 1 kg in all for about SGD10. Lucky me!

Next is to buy red wine. All the wine at home are expensive so i went scouting for a $13+ wine for cooking but ended up buying a $15 one... -_-''

Next is to buy vegetables, celery, tomato, potatoes, carrot and onion.

For seasoning, i used ginger, garlic, freshly grounded pepper, dried rosemary and bouquet garni (bought in London Tesco, didn't see them in Singapore supermarket so far)

Below is a shot taken directly from the pot. Looks a goody mess but i tell you, its a mess made in heaven. i am not boasting! its the best stew i have eaten so far, nicer then those i tasted in restaurants and cafes...

I have half a bottle of red wine left... will be cooking this again very soon!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Hubby and i watch a korean drama called 'Pasta' and salivated in front of the tv for many days...

so we decided to cook vongole and insisted on buying Tagliatelle to cook it (found it in Jasons marketplace eventually)!

Not forgetting opening a bottle of white wine as well.... a lot of effort, time and $$ gone into the dish... its also one of the rare instances of him wanting to cook together with me...

and the result? YUMMY!!! The Tagliatelle soaked up the sweet juices of the clam very well so i ended up with a plate of dry but tasty dish. Not a single drop is wasted!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Carrot soup

The carrot soup cooked by my MIL has 3 different carrots, the normal orange colour carrot, white radish and green radish. When i first attempted it, i used 3 carrots and ended up with a huge pot of soup that the 2 of us cant finish. So now, i will simply cook carrot with white radish. Green radish is not commonly available in the supermarket so it has been a long time since i used it.

This time round, i added a couple of tomato cos i happen to have some in the fridge and i want a hint of sourness for 'kai wei' feel... white radish has a pretty strong smell that is not so pleasant and the tomato can help to cover it up...

In my soup, i added a couple of dried figs (anti cancer properties in TCM), north and south apricot seed ('nan xing, bei xing'), red dates and dried oysters. As usual, my soup is always made of chicken bones (i dont spend money on pork ribs!). Come to think about it. Long time since i made soup, i have collected 3-4 chicken carcasses in my freezer already!

Couple of hours on low heat will yield a pot of sweet tasting wholesome soup.

Do not keep leftovers in the fridge. It will only keep 1 day and will taste different after a day. I realised that freezing is a better way of keeping soup, especially for soups made with vegetables. Freeze in clean plastic bags, tie with rubber band and defroze the giantic ice cube in a pot over the stove. Can keep up to 2 wks with no change in taste.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Strawberry pastry cake

Dont know why its call a pastry cake and i dont know what is a pastry cake. The cake is dense, not oily (as there is little butter used) and has a great taste! tastes 10x better if its heated up in the mircowave (covered for 30 seconds on high).
I know the cake will look prettier without cinnammon but i am willing to sacrifice the looks for great taste and the aroma which fills the house when the cake is baking!
The cake will look better if i sprinkle some icing sugar on top but its too late at night and i cant be bothered! (went to watch 'Inception'. Fantastic movie!)
The jammy but in the cake is the strawberry bits from the strawberry yogurt i used in the receipe (instead of sour cream). Extra yummy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

The tastiest muffcake ever

The good news is, this is the softest and tastiest cupcake/muffin (my girlfriend calls it muffcake) ever. The bad news is, this is because I made a mistake and didnt follow the receipe right. I double up all the ingredient but only added 1 portion of the flour. Should i claim credit for this success? can i call myself the accidental chef? wahahha.

I only have 1 muffin tray so i made some in cupcake cups and some in muffin cups.

Simply delicious. This receipe is a keeper. Opps, what i mean is, my accidentally self-created receipe is a keeper.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Coffee baileys cheesecake

My first cheesecake. NYDC cheesecake is the choice for hubby's birthday cake for 2 - 3 yrs. Wanted to make one for him this birthday so this is a test run. Problem now is, the cheesecake is so BIG, i have 1/4 stored in the freezer. Don't know when this 1/4 cheesecake is will 'go away'. Before it does, it makes no sense to make another one yah?

Anyway, it is a success. Thanks to the many hints and tips from those who tried the receipe.
Receipe is from here.

Angle Gourd

Angle Gourd ('Jiao3 Gua1') is so common in the supermarket. And cheap. Problem is, its always sold in a pair (and yet only cost SGD$1 plus). The skin looks very thick but its very easy to scrap off using a vegetable peeler. It has such a natural sweetness that i will be surprised by its taste each time i cook it. 

I used one to stir fry with dried scrimps, dong fen, black fungus and prawns.
The angle gourd is sliced around 1 cm thick and 4-5 cm long.
My second dish using angle gourd - stir fry with minced meat and egg.
Angle gourd is sliced in thicker chunks.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chicken porridge with water chestnut

In wiki, water chestnut is called Eleocharis dulcis. How many people in the world will know this?!!!

I have a love hate relationship with water chestnut.

I have some water chestnut leftover from making dumplings. This is the reason why i will buy water chestnut 99% of the time. Preparing water chestnut is a hassle! u will have to scrub the mud off the skin, wash until the water runs clean, cut off the skin before u can use the inner flesh. Of cos, if u are throwing the skin, u need not wash them to cleanly. Having said that, u will still have to rinse them thoroughly. I am not being fussy here but if there is mud on the skin, when u slice it, the white flesh will be contaminated cos the knife comes into contact with the mud. Hate it.

If you have the time to clean the skin, boil the skin in a huge pot of water with barley for a couple of hours, add sugar and u will have a big pot of barley water chestnut drink!

I will usually have leftover water chestnuts as a snack/fruit. When i saw them in the fridge one afternoon, i decided to chop them up coarsely and add them to my porridge to add a 'crunch' to the mushy porridge. Reason why i love water chestnut is that it retains its sweetness, juiciness and crunch even after cooking. Love it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Stir fry chicken with pineapple

My mum used to cook this but she has not cooked it in the last few yrs.

Despite so, I always remember this dish as i think its super appetizing and i love the natural sweet and sourness of the pineapple. I can finish a bowl of rice with the gravy alone.

This is my first attempt - the resultant taste is not the same as my mum.

The fragrance and taste of the pineapple is not strong enough though i am very sure i have simmered it thoroughly. Probably due to the pineapply not being flavourful. A little disappointed.

It's still a delicious dish - i say so myself!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Braised fish with roast pork and clam

This is definately not a 'lazy cooking' dish.
i am kinda forced to cook it this style as i am worried that the fish is not fresh.

i went to the supermarket to buy fish for steaming and chanced upon a promotion for the day. Can't remember how much but i remembered the fish costs $2+ only. After i got the staff to clean and scaled one fish and realised how cheap it is, i cant help being greedy and got him to give me another one!

The first fish i steamed it immediately, the 2nd one i think i must have kept it for about 2-3 weeks in the freezer. I had leftover roast pork in the freezer and is immediately reminded of this dish that is cooked by my mum. The fried fish and roast pork has a way of infusing the unique aroma of fried food into the gravy and its heavenly. To make the gravy even sweeter, i cooked the clams in a separate pot, removed the clam flesh from the shells and used the soup from cooking clam in the gravy. Yummy!

Fish cooking in clam stock
Thicken gravy with starch flour and water mixture
Nai bai is fried separately with salt and chinese wine. Laid on super big plate and presented it as a single dish.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Baised chicken

There is basically no hard and fast rule about cooking chicken. Whatever i have in the fridge goes into the pan together with the chicken.

Typically when i buy whole chicken, i will remove the breast, thighs and drumsticks from the chicken. i will then pack them into 5 packs - 2 packs of half breasts, 2 packs of 1 thigh and 1 drums, 1 pack of chicken carcass.

Needless to say, the carcass is for chicken stock making. The smaller pack of chicken is to save me time defrosting when i have to cook them last minute, i dun have patience when it comes to thawing frozen meat.

When i have the time, i will even debone the thigh and drums, cut the breasts and marinate the chicken with pepper and soya sauce before putting them into bags for freezing. This saves me even more time when i use the chicken to cook porridge, stir fry etc.

Now, back to my braised chicken, the reason why i have half chicken with bones attached is because its from my mum. She visited me after my operation and bought me chicken which is already halved and frozen.

So well, i chopped the chicken into pieces, found chillis in my fridge (again i dont buy chilli, this is from my mother in law). Some left over cherry tomatoes from xmas gathering salad also goes in!

What do you need?
- Half a chicken cut into small pieces
- 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 5-10 shallots, quartered
- 1 baby carrot
- 1 chilli - deseeded and cut into big pieces
- 1 thumb size piece of ginger
- oyster sauce
- pinch of sugar
- sesame seed oil and pepper

How to do it?
Heat work and fry ginger, chilli and shallots until fragrant.

Then add chicken and carrot. Fry chicken until brown before adding water. Season with oyster sauce, sugar, pepper. Turn heat to low and simmer for 30 mins until a thick sauce is formed and meat falls off the bone easily.

Drizzle with sesame seed oil and serve with rice.
The sweetness of the carrot and chicken juices, with a hint of sourness from the tomato and heat from the ginger and chilli, its heavenly.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Asparagus fried rice

YES - Myth confirmed - Asparagus makes your pee smells funny! At least, it is observed for hubby and myself. Guess what? According to wikipedia, we are the 22% of the population who had the genes to smell it! Dunno to be proud or what... Eww...  :P

Extracted from wikipedia "There is debate about whether all (or only some) people produce the smell, and whether all (or only some) people identify the smell. It was originally thought this was because some of the population digested asparagus differently than others, so that some people excreted odorous urine after eating asparagus, and others did not. However, in the 1980s three studies from France,[24] China and Israel published results showing that producing odorous urine from asparagus was a universal human characteristic. The Israeli study found that from their 307 subjects all of those who could smell 'asparagus urine' could detect it in the urine of anyone who had eaten asparagus, even if the person who produced it could not detect it himself.[25] Thus, it is now believed that most people produce the odorous compounds after eating asparagus, but only about 22% of the population have the autosomal genes required to smell them."

Wanted to buy asparagus to wrap in bacon the last time round but couldnt find it in NTUC.

Wanted a crunchy vege to make fried rice and hubby bought baby asparagus though i asked him to buy either long beans or french beans. -_-""

Oh well, i have to admit asparagus goes quite well with the rest of the ingredients in the fried rice. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

CNY 2010 Bakes - Pineapple tarts

My first CNY bakes for 2010... Jam is made by MIL. She wants me to bake my own so that she can cut down on her own baking. Gladly do so. Its fun and theraputic to wrap the pineapple jams with the pastry dough...

I started with the open faced ones but its taking me too long to make - the dough sticks to the mould if i press too hard. If i press lightly, the imprints are not deep enough.

Wrapped / round ones are more straightforward. As long as the jam is fully covered by the dough, no peek-a-boos, its done!

U can see how many open faced ones i made in the end. HAHA

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A meal to remember

This is a meal to remember - 30 Dec 2009 - Madhatter's party...

We have the madhatter's themed party
Its nana's birthday!
We have 100% local attendance (all spouses and Baby T joined us! overseas frens excluded)
The food is enjoyable...
The cake is fantastic!
There is prezzies for everyone!

I love my friends!!

- Roast pork belly done in two marinates, served with honey mustard sauce
- Bacon wrapped carrot and kailan stem
- Angel's hair in chicken pesto
- Portobello mushroom baked with garlic and cheese
- Kailan stem and carrot, cooked in cheese
- Salad served with Italian herb dressing
- Soft white bread, served with unsalted butter (freshly baked from the breadmaker)
- Lychee martini cake (from Pine Gardens)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Garlic in olive oil (again)

This is my 3rd post on garlic in olive oil.
See 1st and 2nd post.

This time round, instead of chopped garlic, i sliced the garlic instead.

There is approximately 4 bulbs of garlic in this bottle, i sliced them in front of the TV in the living room.
:P This bottle will last me at least 2 mths.

However, according to Wikipedia 'Garlic is often kept in oil to produce flavoured oil; however the practice requires measures to be taken to prevent the garlic from spoiling. Untreated garlic kept in oil can support the growth of deadly Clostridium Botulinum. Refriguration will not assure the safety of garlic kept in oil.'


Safety measure i took include:
- having enough oil to cover the garlic
- always keep garlic refrigerated
- always use a clean and dry spoon when taking out the garlic from the bottle for use
- check the garlic for bad smell, moulds or turn of colour before using

Mee sua soup

After the xmas and new year feasting, its time to detox.

Cooked a simple and light lunch, using leftovers in the fridge.

What do you need?
- Sliced pork (marinated)
- Kai lan stem (5cm long)
- 1 stalk of chye sim
- 1 baby carrot
- 4 cherry tomato
- 2 mee sua (dried)
- 2 cups of chicken stock

How to do it?
Heat pot with water, water level at approximately 1.5 inches. Bring to boil, add mee sua, cook for approx 2 mins or until water reboils for 1 min.

Drain mee sua and put into bowls.

Heat pot again with chicken stock. Add sliced of pork and bring to boil. Add all vegetables, bring to boil.
Pour soup, meat and vegetables into bowls with mee sua, serve.

Season with some soya sauce, pepper and sesame seed oil to taste.
Sprinkle with fried shallots. Serve.