Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pork And Bitter Gourd

Last week I used a bitter gourd that was almost a foot long to cook this dish that Terri posted a while back. It was one of the first batch of fruits from a new plant, the lady who sold the veg told me and that was supposed to be good (does it make any difference? It sure did and I went back looking for more).
With this hugh bitter gourd, I used about 500g pork ribs. 2 heaped tablespoonful of sweet soybean paste and I didn't need to season with soy sauce or salt. I then added 2 big red chillies not so much for garnishing but for the taste which go so well with the bean paste.
I love everything about this dish, especially the cooking part, it is sooo easy. Even better is I can get it cooked earlier in the day and just warm it up to serve for dinner. It actually taste better that way too. Serve with rice and that, to me (lazy me) make a complete meal. Another one-pot meal! 

Love it so much that I cooked it again today when I managed to get another bitter gourd from this lady but this time I used some left over siew yoke (roast pork) instead of pork ribs. Much faster to cook (as the meat was ready-cooked) and so delicious too.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chrysanthemum Tea

We normally just brew these florals for a fast cooling drink in this searing hot weather of ours. When I went into a Kedai Ubat (Chinese medicine shop) to get a packet of these, the lady heard me coughing and recommended this concoction for me.

From left: chrysanthemum flowers, licorice roots, honeysuckle flowers

1/2 cup chrysanthemum flowers (ju hua)

6-7 slices Chinese licorice (gan cao)

1/2 cup honeysuckle flower (jin yin hua which means gold silver flower)

2 L water

Rinse herbs off any grit and dirt. Put them into a pot of boiling water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes and then turn off the heat. Let steep for 10 minutes or so in the hot water. Strain and serve with rock sugar.

I didn't add sugar to mine because I was told that would generate more phlegm. It was very soothing for the throat and very refreshing even without the addition of rock sugar.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pumpkin with Seaweed

With the grilled fish last night we also had this pumpkin dish which is a breeze to cook.
I used about 200g of pumpkin, left the skin on and just cut into one inch cubes.
I also used hijiki seaweed but as there is some controversial reports about this seaweed contain minute amount of inorganic arsenic, you can use a piece of kombu (kelp) or wakame just to get that taste of the sea.
Mix 2 T of soy sauce, 1 T mirin and 1 T of water into a heavy based pan. Heat the sauce and add the pumpkin.
Rinse and soak the seaweed before adding together with the pumpkin.
When boiling, lower heat and simmer until pumpkin soften.
Dish out and serve with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.

This was how we had a Japanese meal without having to break the bank account nor the back cooking it...grilled fish, pumpkin and rice with these seasoned nori pieces. Plus lots of toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on the rice, shoyu for dipping and miso soup.

Get some pumpkin, fish and rice together. Lay the nori over and press down on both ends of the nori with the chopstick.

Press down both ends of the nori with the chopstick and use the chopstick to encircle the food with the nori.

Lift up the bundle of yumz.

And now, ready to pop into the mouth.
Of course wearing yukata and kneeling down for dinner too could help with the Japanese feel...;D


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Simple Grilled Fish

Moodie foodie comments on saba shioyaki in the previous
post got me thinking about grilled fish. Bought some really fresh 'wong mui chee' (don't know the name of this fish in English but in Malaysia we called it Ikan Kembong). Usually I like this fish fried but thought I would try grilling it like saba fish.
As this fish is not oily like saba, after patting it really dry, I drizzled a generous amount of oil and rock salt on the fish.
I used my small toaster oven (just nice for cooking 3 small fish) as the full sized oven would be an over-kill and a waste of energy. Set the timer to max. 15 minutes and pray for the best as I have no control over the temperature.
Well, the fish turned out great with a dash of shoyu and lime juice. Sweet and surprisingly juicier than fried.

It is getting late (promise myself to sleep earlier after the bout of crippling flu)and I seem to have a lot of trouble uploading pictures to the post. Will show you in another post how and with what we ate the fish to give it a more Japanese feel.

Good night.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pan-Fried Mackerel with onion pickle

A very light and simple dish that goes so well with rice and best eaten with fingers.

Pan-fried fish:
Marinate 3-4 slices of fish (here I used tenggiri - mackerel) with salt, 1 tsp. of ginger juice and a dash of curry powder. Pan-fried on both sides until just done. Dish out on to a serving plate.
Red snapper fillet or small whole fish like Kembong can be done the same way too.

Onion pickle:
Peel and thinly slice 4-6 red onions (shallots). Rub them well with salt and leave to soak for 10-20 minutes. Squeeze out excess liquid from onions. Add 1 T lime juice (or vinegar or red wine vinegar), 2 T sugar and 1 T fish sauce to taste. Add as much or as little chopped chilies and cilantro as you like. Spicy or otherwise depends on whether bird's eye or big chillies are used.

Spread onion pickle on fish or serve separately and enjoy with rice.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

White Fungus Tong Sui

Having a serious bout of flu for the past two weeks. Started off with a minor sore throat which quickly followed by an on and off fever. Later develop spasm of gut-wrenching cough that last for a minute or so a session and leaves me with a husky vocal like Rod Steward :p. Latest verdict - the minor sore throat grew into energy-zapping bronchitis.

There were many tips as to what to eat and drink to soften the cough but I did this because these were the only ingredients I could find at home. Just too exhausted to have gone out shopping for pears or whatever these recipes call for.

Just wash and soak some white fungus, about 1 cup. They double in size after a few minutes in water. Get rid of any hard parts that doesn't soften up after 10 minutes or so of soaking. Drain.

Wash a handful of red dates. Get the stones out by flattening each date with the side of the cleaver.

Wash a tablespoon each of wolfberry (枸杞) and dried longan meat.

Boil 2 litre of water in a pot, add fungus and red dates. Simmer for about an hour. Add longan and wolfberry, cook for 2 minutes. Add rock sugar to taste. I add a small piece of gula melaka (palm sugar) to give it a richer aroma. Off heat.

Drink it warm or cold. Warm if you are in my condition but I really like it cold straight from the fridge on a hot afternoon. I don't think it did much to ease the cough but it did help lift my spirit.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pork Chops with Jin Dou sauce

This recipe is adapted from one of those Hawkers' Fair magazines that feature all the glorious food we get from the hawkers stalls.
I cooked this for the first time during last CNY when Mui, Pit and family came for dinner on the third day. I had some very meaty pork ribs chopped about 2-3 inches in length. But too bad, unable to show any pictures because I never did get to take any. The 2 kgs or so of ribs went so fast I know for sure they were good.
This time, I used pork chops.

500g pork chop, cut into 1cm slices and pound with the back of cleaver

Marinate pork with:
1 T oyster sauce
1 t sugar
1 t salt
1 t sesame oil
1 egg
2 T flour
1 T corn flour
3 T water

Leave for 3 hours or so.

Meanwhile prepare the sauce:
50 ml black vinegar
2 T worcestershire sauce
5 T tomato sauce
5 T plum sauce
3 T sugar
1 t 5-spice powder (optional)
100 ml water

Combine all sauce ingredients and bring to boil.
Then lower heat and cook until sauce thickens a little but not too much because it thickens further when cooled. Season and adjust salt, sugar and vinegar to taste.
Remove from heat.

Pan (or deep) fry pork chop pieces in batches until golden brown. Drain.
To serve, add enough sauce to coat the chops and more if your family is like mine that love to eat rice mix with gravy. Any leftover sauce can be kept for about a week in the fridge.

Suggested serving:
1. With white rice
2. With burger buns layer with lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber slices. Make fantastic pork chop burgers.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Special Olympics in KK

The 10th Special Olympic games of district level was held last Sunday in the Penampang sport stadium.

Special Olympics is an international voluntary organisation providing sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type and local sports for children and adults with intellectual disability.
The true meaning of Special Olympics is best summarised:
"In a world where poverty, war and oppression have dimmed peoples hopes, Special Olympics re-kindles that hope with their spiritual strengths, their excellence and achievements"- author unknown.

Below are a few of the many (150) images I managed (struggled) to captured. I realised I have a lot to learn about outdoor, action photography. It is a whole new ball game to still-life photography.

"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

Three girls for the 100m walk and the rest were volunteers.

Special Olympics relies on VOLUNTEERS for all activities. These three young lovely ladies braving the hot sun were here to help with the awards section.

Even when they do not win a medal they receive a certificate.

This cheeky little girl, a gold medalist, gave a supermodel pose when she sees my camera aiming at her.

Special Olympics is an organization created to help people with intellectual disabilities develop self-confidence, social skills and a sense of personal accomplishment through sports.

The Seri Mengasih athletics waiting for their turns on the track.

Children and adults with intellectual disabilities who take part in Special Olympics usually develop better physical fitness and motor skills, greater self-confidence and a more positive self-image.

They begin to grow mentally, socially and spiritually and, through these inspiring activities, exhibit boundless courage and enthusiasm. They enjoy the friendship and discover new abilities and talents.

These medalists will go on to compete in the State level games which will be held in Tawau June this year. Well done, girls!

Keshia was very lucky to be permitted to participate in the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games that was hosted in Ireland, held from 21 June-29 June 2003. Dublin served as the central stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies in which she was able to witness live preformances of the U2, the Corrs and many more. Until today it still remains THE event of her life and the envy of her brothers and sisters.
The Special Olympics World Games is held every four years. Usually the games are held in the USA and 2003 was the first time it was held outside the States. The 2007 Games were held in Shanghai, China, from 2-11 October 2007.
Athens, Greece, will host the next Special Olympics World Summer Games, 25 June - 4 July 2011
Our Dreams have Color” was the theme of a speech given by Joanna Despotopoulou, President of the 2011 World Games Organizing Committee.
Yes… our dreams have color but only when we really open our eyes and are overwhelmed with life, when we do not imprison them in a lonesome journey, when we do not bury them under a huge ego, when we share them with those who need them truly,” Despotopoulou said.

Related Post: Gila gila night

Monday, April 7, 2008

Simple Vermicilli

Another meatless dish to share with all those slim souls with inflated frames. I put in more veggies than vermicilli as we like the crunchiness they giveto the dish, almost like a salad. A very quick and simple dish to cook and eat. The cooking method is more gon lou (dry stir) then fried so less oil is used.

300g tang hoon (mung bean vermicelli)
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 jicama (sengkuang), peeled and julienned
2 T dried shrimps, cleaned, soaked and chopped coarsely
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups hot stock (or hot water + 1 chicken stock cube)
cilantro, chopped
2 chillies, julienned

To season:
salt, fish sauce or soy sauce

Soak tang hoon for 5 minutes (in hot water) or 20 minutes (in room temp. water) until soft. Drain.
Heat 2T oil in wok on high heat, add garlic and dried prawns.
Stir constantly until fragrant.
Add the carrots, jicama and the tang hoon, cook over high heat for 2 minutes. Give it a good mix but let veggie retain their crunchiness.
Add stock. The tang hoon will soak up the stock very quickly so the dish is not wet even with 2 cups of stock.
Season to taste and add chillies.

Off heat and add the cilantro. For Keshia and Leanne I have to dish out before adding the cilantro.

I like it served with a chopped chili padi/lime juice/soy dipping sauce or, for Keshia and Leanne, they like it with a mild sambal belacan.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Ching Ming Festival 清明節

A view from the Nirvana cemetery near Tuaran

Today is 'Ching ming' (Clear Bright Festival).
It is a day for the Chinese to remember and honour ancestors at grave sites. Ching Ming rituals involve cleaning and weeding of the grave site, and cleaning and touching up the writings of the headstone.
For some food, tea, wine, chopsticks, (joss) paper accessories, are placed in front of the headstone as an offering to the spirits of the deceased.
The burning of incense and imitation paper money are also very important for many as that is beleived to be for the deceased to use in the afterlife.
I remembered my aunties offering a feast with a whole chicken, a slice of steamed or roast pork with crunchy skin attached (shiu yoke), and many varieties of rice cakes, fruits and alcoholic drinks before my grandparents' tombs.
Three sets of chopsticks and three Chinese wine cups are always arranged closest to the headstone (until today, I still have no idea why three sets).
When everything is in place, the eldest of the household usually begins by bowing three times with three sticks of incense in hand in front of the headstone, then stick the incense into a small urn filled with sand.
This procedure is repeated with every member of family present.
Some families will then eat the food together there at the grave site, like having a picnic with their deceased relatives.
We never do that for the simple reason that the day get too warm to stay at the grave sites after completing all the rituals even when we start the preparation at the crack of dawn.
The Chinese Christians will offer flowers and candles.
All these rites are very important.
Most of the families would have preformed this ritual a week or so before the actual Ching Ming day which falls on either 4 or 5 of April each year.

A rather taboo subject but with the growing scarcity of land resources in many countries and with the perception that we human, inevitably must return to the earth, to Mother nature, many are considering less conventional ways regarding burials.

A cemetery in Taipei actually avocate decease's ashes to be placed in biodegradable containers and buried next to a tree in a special tree burial ground.

Another green option- ashes of the dead are cultivated into the ground to give sustenance to flowering plants, shrubs and small trees in the same cemetery.

Burial at sea is also becoming a popular choice.

Sunset at Tanjung Aru Beach

A good friend's husband passed away years ago. She opted for cremation and later scatter the ashes at sea. Come Ching Ming day, wherever she is, she'll take a ride out to sea or to the beach for the remembering and honouring ritual.

All these demonstrate how radically attitudes are changing concerning burials, but hopefully, the true essence of Ching Ming will remain and always be observed, ie a day to remember and honour one's ancestors and departed love ones.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Foodrepublic @ Singapore

There is this food court next to the monorail station to Sentosa in Vivo city.
Quite fascinated with its quaint interior decor which uses old doors, planks, wood and other materials from shop houses of yesteryear.

Was happily snapping away when after a dozen shots or so, a man came over and said to me 'Miss, no taking pictures please.' I looked at him puzzled and asked, 'Why?' He answered 'Trade secret'. What?! For these few planks of old wood and doors?
Ah well... since he asked so nicely...(he used 'Miss'!! Either he was missing something or I was ;p) I compliantly tucked away my camera. Nevertheless the 'miss' part of his request made my day and I happily went off looking for food to eat (instead of to shoot) :D

The dim sum in this stall is just ok.
K knows popiah is one of my all-time favourites. So wherever he sees them he will get some for me. These were, sorry to say, 'so sad'....Have to go to Penang for my popiah fix. Air Asia only RM19.99 or if luckier RM9.99!

I can never walk away from these whenever I sees them, don't know what it is called. These were only soft and fluffy when warm but dry and hard when cooled.
Found these in the stall next to the one selling the coconut snacks. Also don't know what it is called.

A pau with a much thinner layer of dough than the normal ones. Steamed and then pan fried until the skin is golden brown and a little crispy. Outside soft at the same time crispy and inside is a myriad of goodness like mushroom, tang hoon(mung bean vermicelli), dried prawns, sengkuang (jicama), spinach and a tiny bits of meat. Light and very good. Anybody knows what it is called?
Never very enthusiastic with foodcourt meals especially in Singapore but this Korean rice dish served in a hot stone bowl proved otherwise. Very authentic and very fiery spicy.