Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lai Lai Yong Hi Soy-Bean Milk, Shanghai

This is a Taiwanese store in Shanghai that serves soybean dishes and other small eats.
We found this outlet near the Bund and the food was surprisingly good as the place didn't look too promising at first. We went in because our feet were hurting and it was drizzling. The place was half-filled with mostly locals (you can tell by the noise level).

These xiao long baos were very good, better than those we had at one high-end shop at Nanjing Lu.
Traditional Shanghai soybean milk served with seaweed, sliced you tiao (a long deep-fried bun flavored with salt and garlic) and many other stuff (can't remember) but I do remember that it was very tasty. It was creamy without being oily. I thoroughly enjoyed slurping it down and dipping the extra long buns into the soup soaking up every last drop.
Another dish I must have if I have another chance to go to Shanghai.  

This is soybean curd served Shanghai-style, savory of course with seaweed, a sprinkling of dried shrimps in a soy sauce base. It was good too but I like the soy milk more.

Pumpkin buns and dumplings, both yummy.

Monday, February 23, 2009


These days there are usually only three of us for dinner. Knowing me, I like short cuts and have everything in one dish - save on dish washing too! I don't remember where I came across this recipe so sorry I can't give credit. I like it because it is really simple to cook and  with minimal everyday ingredients that can be found in most household, it is a breeze. As for taste, according to Leanne, she doesn't like it... but loves it! She likes to tease me with a long pause at the... :0 Naughty girl.
Any veggies like celery, bell peppers, peas can be added too. A good fridge cleaning recipe.

3 chicken thighs, deboned
corn starch seasoned with salt and pepper to coat chicken
2 T oil
1 big onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 tomato, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
2 T brown sugar
4 T apple cider vinegar
1 T Worcestershire-sauce
black pepper, freshly ground

Cut chicken into two. 
Pat dry and coat them in the corn starch. 
Heat oil in pan, fry the chicken until it is golden and cook through. 

Remove to a plate.
Fry onion in the same pan on fairly high heat until fragrant and slightly caramelized, add garlic, carrot and tomato. 
Combine sugar, apple cider vinegar and Worcestershire-sauce in a bowl and adjust the sweet and sour balance to taste, add 2-3 tablespoon of water if like thinner gravy. 
Add to the veggies and cook for a few minutes until sauce thickens a little. 
Return the chicken to the pan and mix well. Season with some black pepper and salt if you like. Dish out and garnish with cilantro (which I didn't have) and serve with rice.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dolar Hot Pot Shop, Shanghai

I love steamboat especially so when the weather is cold. It is so comforting sitting around a hot stove surrounded by family and food. 
This is one of  Dolar chain stores that serves steamboat which in Shanghai, is called hotpot. The difference between this hotpot restaurant to the rest is that here each patron has the choice of his/her soup base which is served individually in a small pot with it's own small stove. Cool. Put in whatever your heart's desire and create a soup that is uniquely you. 

Seafood soup which actually has two baby hairy crabs about the size of a spoon. My choice, obviously.

A sour soup with preserved veggie, hum choi, Leanne's choice, obviously.

Heather had the mushroom soup which looked very yummy too, San San and hubby had mushroom and seafood too. 
This was also one of the very few places in China that I was told I could not take pictures but I managed a few stolen shots when the waitress was out of sight. Please excuse the
rather shoddy images as I had to snap quickly from where I sat. It was a pity as I only managed pictures at our own table and wasn't brave enough to venture to the sauce station where the culinary happenings were. The sauce station is where you, as a chef for the night, go to concoct a designer's, one-of-a-kind dipping sauce from an immense (sooo many, tooo many) variety of condiments. I was like a child in a candy store...didn't know where to start at first but once got started, couldn't stop...:p. My first sauce turned disastrous as I got too greedy and piled on everything. The good thing was, you could start all over again until you get the prefect sauce to complement your hot pot.  

Too impatient, added too many ingredients at one go and the slice of beef landed in a cold soup :O

One pot each, a tableful of food and a night of total indulgence.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Yong Tofu

I grew up with traditional Hakka food and to me yong tofu is just that -  stuffed beancurd with mince meat (most times of pork but fish is more popular now for health reasons I suppose). I only learnt to eat all the different types of stuffed veggies when we were stationed in KL years ago. 

Mui Fong has taken on the task of marketing for me these days. She reckons home-grown veggies without pesticides and chemicals are easier to find in Tamparuli. These are some of the very fresh veggies she brought over, a few of each. 

So, to make a feast out of them, I sliced, slit and stuffed them...

The yong tofu without the tofu
I like to cook this dish as a one-pot-meal and the veggies go down easier for the young ones.
I was lazy so I bought two packets of minced pork from the Lido market, minced some fish flesh (about 300g) and mixed it into the pork. 
Stuff the veggies. 
Deep fry the stuffed eggplants, bitter gourd and chillies to brown, not to cook them but just to make them more attractive to the young ones. Drain and keep aside.
Fry some chopped shallots and garlic with a tablespoon of oil until fragrant. Set some aside for garnishing (which I forgot).
Add  a tablespoon of oyster sauce into the same wok.
Before the mixture burns add in 2 - 3 cups of stock (use the remaining fish bones to make stock or just boil some ikan billis or bonito flakes in water for 10 minutes, strain and use the stock). 
When boiling, place bitter gourd in first as they will take the longest to cook (omit this if some members of family don't eat this veggie), then chillies, egg plant and then lastly the lady fingers.
Cook until the stuffing turns color and the veggies slightly soft.
Thicken the gravy with 1t cornflour + 1T water. For a soupy dish, omit the thickening, just add more stock, season to taste.
Eat with a chilli/lime/garlic/soy dipping sauce.
My favorite from this selection has to be the stuffed red chilli (do deseed them before stuffing).

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Pudong, viewed from the Bund side on a misty rainy morning
Shanghai is a city with many facades. My first impression of the city was of confusion, dusty, noisy and basically for someone like me who originate from a 'kampong' - village with only one main street, very perplexing. Even after ten days there, I was still disorientated but beginning to feel a certain charm in the city. Below are some of the places we managed to see.

Our near-midnight rendezvous in one of the many cafes dotted all over the city. Excellent desserts and tea.
Exclusive clubs, high-end boutiques, western cafes and small family-run alley stores, all exist side by side.

The area where we stayed, Luwan, belongs to a part of the old french concession. 
Between Fuxing Lu and Huaihai Lu, it has the most unique blend of old and new, the poor, rich and very rich, preservation and demolition, all working hand in hand. 

An old tea shop
The avenues in this part of Shanghai (as in many other parts of Shanghai) are all tree-lined with a deciduous tree called Plane specially imported by the French in the olden days. 

A park near Heather's place lined with Plane trees from France
The trees create a very unique feel to the city. 

The high-end shoppers
The most famous area has to be at the Nanjing Lu where many international brands like Zara, H&M, MNG parked their stores. 

But we preferred these small shops where we can find this...

And this...

Not to take home but just food for my camera :p.

The rod-iron gate that one sees at almost every alley. Within are either offices or private residences.

The one place in Shanghai that I like very much is here at Tian Zi Fang. This is where an old district is being transformed into a quaint niche while still retaining many of its old original charm. 

Many small stores where one can sit and have a drink or browse through some antiques.

Kind of touristy but in a very pleasant manner. 

Love this table.

There were crowds but yet there are many nooks where you can walk and browse and have a cup of tea or coffee in total isolation.

Many chill-out places for everyone... locals, expatriates and tourists alike.

Came across this amazing and amusing portrait of two old ladies (piecing ears??) displayed outside a cafe in the alley. Want to learn to take portraits that tell stories like this.

A garment for the young. Very unique in that it is also a baby carrier and there is a big opening behind to facilitate the young to eh.. discharge without having to disrobe. I wanted to turn the displayed item around to take a picture but the sales girl was watching and unless I buy that thingy she was not too happy with me and my camera. 

Hand-sawn baby foot covers.

Laundry day...


business as usual...just don't look up when having a cuppa in one of these lovely cafes.

Another French influence...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Arrowroot Chips

Ben dropped by the house and quickly zoomed in on these. Before he popped them into his mouth I warned him that these might not be what he expect. I knew he had mistaken them for potato chips. These are arrowroot chips. Meant to post this before CNY but forgotten in the midst of all the festive activities, last minute shopping and cooking. 

Arrowroots, clad
These only come by once a year during CNY. So even when I swear that i won't touch veggies from China, I couldn't resist these. I love them braised with chinese sausage and chicken. The children like them fried as chips (don't think they know what these chips are made of when they pop them into their mouth).

Arrowroots, unclad

Use a slicer and slice arrowroots directly into hot oil. Rewind---see the previous foto--- have a good reason to leave the tips intact when peeling. I needed something to grab on to when slicing. Do not overcrowd when frying as they will stick together, so just do one arrowroot at one time unless your wok is big and fill with tons of oil. Be ready to lift up the chips fast as they cook and brown very quickly.
These were the first few batches and as usual, forgotten that they will continue cooking after lifted from oil. Overly brown and they get too bitter (they are a little bitter to begin with).  If you like, sprinkle on fine salt but sparingly. When cooled, store in airtight container. Make excellent gift for CNY as they resemble gold coins (I know, I know this is a little too late for this CNY but there is always next year, right?). 
I want to wish everyone a very happy and 'full filling' Chap Goh Mei.