Sunday, May 24, 2015

Yam rice with pork belly, chinese black mushrooms, dried scallops and dried shrimps :)

I'm glad to say that my first attempt at yam rice was a yammy-licious success! :)

  •  Half a purple yam, peeled and cubed *1 whole purple yam, 450g
  •  5 garlic cloves, chopped
  •  5 shallots, sliced
  •  1 dried scallop (conpoy) *8 large dried scallops
  •  100g dried shrimp *150g small dried shrimp
  •  4 dried mushrooms *8 dried mushrooms, sliced
  •  1 Chinese sausage, skin removed, sliced *not used
  •  300g pork belly, sliced *200g lean pork
  •  1 tsp salt
  •  2 tsp sugar *1.5 tsp sugar
  •  1 tsp dark soya sauce *2 tsp dark soya sauce
  •  1 tsp light soya sauce *0.5 tsp concentrated chicken broth
  •  5 rice cups of rice
  •  6 rice cups of water *1 extra cup of mushroom reserve water, 20ml of scallop reserve water
  •  5 tbsp of cooking oil *1 tbsp of sesame oil

  • 1. Wash the rice and set aside.
  • 2. Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water until soft. Rinse and slice.
  • 3. Rinse the dried scallop, then soak in a little hot water.
  • 4. Shred the scallop.
  • 5. Rinse the dried shrimp and soak in water.
  • 6. Heat two tablespoonfuls of oil and fry the yam until lightly browned. Set aside.
  • 7. Heat one tablespoonful of oil and 0.5 tbsp of sesame oil and fry the sliced pork belly till brown. Set aside. *Pour reserve oil into prewashed rice.
  • 8. Heat two tablespoonfuls of oil and 0.5 tbsp of sesame oil, fry the garlic and shallots until golden brown, then add the scallop, dried shrimp and mushrooms.
  • 9. Add in the washed rice, fried yam and pork.
  • 10. Add in one teaspoonful of salt and 1.5 teaspoonfuls of sugar. Add in one teaspoonful of light soya sauce, two teaspoonful of dark soya sauce, 0.5 tsp of concentrated chicken broth
  • 11. Remove the mixture from the wok and transfer into the rice cooker.
  • 12. Add six cups of water + 1 cup of mushroom reserve water and 20ml of scallop reserve water. Use the rice cooker to cook the rice until done.
  • 13. Serve with chopped coriander and dried shallots .(optional)

  • All my adaptations of the recipe have been indicated with an asterix * next to the ingredients list. We love our rice with a chockful of ingredients :) Dad loves sesame oil so he suggested the addition of sesame oil. I didn't want to just add it into the rice. So I've incorporated it into the frying of the ingredients. Just a little sesame oil does bring up the fragrance of the rice!

  • Cook happy. And eat well. From my kitchen to yours! <3 br="">

  • Sunday, May 17, 2015

    Nonya Chap Chye

    Tried and tested. 
    This was such a crowd pleaser that I've cooked it the very next week after my first attempt.

    What a happy myriad of colours!

    This week's edition was same same but different.
    Using some deep fried pork belly instead.
    And I added black moss (not in picture) this time :)

    •  8 large dried mushrooms
    •  1 litre of water, or more if necessary
    •  100g haebi or dried shrimp
    •  10g dried black fungus or cloud ear fungus
    •  100g black moss
    •  10g dried golden lily buds
    •  20g tung hoon or bean vermicelli
    •  20g tau kee or sweet beancurd skin
    •  5Tbs cooking oil, and more oil for deep-frying the tau kee
    •  200g pork belly, sliced into thin strips
    •  1Tbs garlic, finely chopped
    •  2 1/2Tbs tau cheo or fermented soyabean paste
    •  1kg cabbage, washed and cut roughly into pieces
    •  100g jicama, peeled and cut into strips about 4cm long and 1cm thick
    •  10g beancurd skin
    •  1Tbs concentrated chicken stock
    •  Salt to taste
    •  Oyster sauce to taste

  • 1. Wash the dried mushrooms and boil in a small pot with about 400ml of water for about five to 10 minutes, until they have softened. Drain but keep the liquid (mushroom water) for use later. Cut the mushrooms into strips. Set aside.
  • 2. Meanwhile, soak the dried shrimp, black fungus, black moss, golden lily buds and tung hoon in separate bowls of water for about 10 minutes. Drain each item and set aside. Tie the lily buds into knots and trim the ends. Set aside.
  • 3. Wipe the sheets of tau kee with a damp cloth, then cut them into 5cm squares. Deep-fry in hot oil until brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  • 4. Heat 5Tbs of oil in a large wok on medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the dried shrimp and fry until fragrant.
  • 5. Add the strips of pork belly and continue to fry until cooked.
  • 6. Add the garlic, then the tau cheo and fry for about one minute.
  • 7. Next, put in the cabbage and jicama and stir. Add about 200ml of water. Cover and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring intermittently.
  • 8. Add the mushroom water that you had set aside earlier, followed by the mushrooms, black fungus and golden lily buds. Stir. Add just enough water to submerge most of the ingredients.
  • 9. Bring the liquid to a boil. Add more water if necessary. The vegetables should be cooked and soft, but not mushy.
  • 10. When boiling, add the tau kee and black moss. Stir gently and simmer for about five minutes. Add the beancurd skin and tung hoon.
  • 11. Add the concentrated chicken stock, salt and oyster sauce to taste.
  • - See more at:



    I used some of the reserved water from soaking the dried prawns as well.
    Taking the healthier (less mess too!) option, I didn't deep fry the tau kee so I've added it in together in Step 8 to let it cook for longer.
    Since I was using fermented soybean instead, I mixed the oyster sauce, salt and chicken stock cubes together before adding it in to the simmering vegetables.
    If you're using chicken stock cubes instead, you'd need one to one and a half cubes.
    I added in two tablespoons of oyster sauce and a quarter teaspoon of salt.

    And if you're wondering if sio bak or regular pork belly is better for taste, I'd say it's really up to your own personal preference.
    But if you left it to me, I'd cook with pork belly and top it off with sio bak! :)

    Happy cooking!

    From my kitchen to yours,
    Brenda x

    Monday, March 30, 2015

    Pho better or pho worse

    The day started out simple.

    The search for the best pho at 46 Bat Dan according to a travel web post.

    And to our dismay, it was already closed for the day.

    So pho better or pho worse, we decided to settle for a chicken pho at the road junction that we had passed on our pho search.

    We took our seats on these tiny plastic chairs that threatened to break under our hefty bottoms. Or so it felt like. And no, we don't actually have hefty butts.

    The lower the chairs are to the ground, the better the food's gonna taste. Right?

    Eating like the locals do, we made our order for two bowls of chicken pho and looked upon the dishes of cut chilli and parsley exposed to all the elements and impartial to all diners. Coming from the city, it's gotta be a tough call not worrying about stomach upsets.

    But since we were here, ditch those thoughts and live and eat like the locals do. The food's gotta be good for people to squash themselves at junction of a busy road (as all roads are in Hanoi).

    When this arrived? The reason was clear for the crowds.

    Heaven in the form of a bowl of piping hot chicken pho :)

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

    Remembering Mr Lee Kuan Yew - Time Nor Tide

    Mr Lee Kuan Yew had been admitted to Singapore General Hospital on February 5th 2015 for severe pneumonia at the age of 91. For many, we understood the grim implications of such a news release. The Lunar New Year came two weeks after and in the course of the festivities, many had pushed this piece of news to the back of their minds till the next update came about from the Prime Minister's Office. And from then forth, with Mr Lee in critical condition and a deterioration of his health, Singaporeans waited with bated breath and hoped upon hope that there would be a miracle. Somehow. 
    That he would fight back, that he would live. 

    But on March 23rd 2015, this was not to be. And the man who was the hero of our times, had slipped away peacefully at 3.18am in the wee hours of the morning to be reunited with the love of his life. For the minutes that felt like hours, and days that felt like years, it was a long time in waiting, for his ashes to finally be mixed with his wife so that they could be united even in death. His attention to detail was not lost on the people around him and you would expect even more so for his wife, Mdm Kwa. His love story has made its rounds in the news from the time of Mrs Lee's departure but here, at his final parting, we again relive through the anecdotes of how indeed, a true measure of a man is in his capacity to love. 

    The Just In Time package for schools arrived yesterday and was to be disseminated by the next morning. The assembly this morning was a 15 minute video of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's life and legacy produced by Mediacorp. Even after the massive media suspension and overload from the past couple of days, many of us were reduced to tears. And how were we to teach for the next two periods? I steeled myself for a torrent of tears, if I cried, then so be it. But I bore in mind that what I had to say, had far more impact on the students than my tears. I made it through, but only barely so. I can now speak eloquently and wax lyrical about the man, his life and his legacy but yet, I'm reduced to tears, touched by what he has devoted his entire life to- the land I call home. 
    The place called Singapore. 

    For him to call this my people, my country, my home. Only he qualifies to speak as such. Some people have wrote on how they have found the term 'founding' floundering for Mr Lee Kuan Yew but for this generation of Singapore, the man we have met and seen what he has done for us as a nation, was Mr Lee Kuan Yew, not Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. And really, that was that. I'm heartened to see that at this time, many have poured out their hearts for their gratitude towards Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Growing up, I heard unhappiness and discontent in the coffeeshop talks of many a taxi driver and the older generation about Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the People's Action Party. And who are the ones who are sending their love and tributes willingly now? These very same people I do believe. In the course of Singapore's growth as a nation, they have seen and enjoyed the fruits of his labour. We put aside our differences, we stop fighting and we are united in our mourning of this great leader's passing.
    "Could I have lived my life differently?" Mr Lee once reflected.
    "Maybe yes, but probably not. At each stage I made what was then the best choice. Having taken that decision, I changed direction and there was no turning back."

    These Hard Truths that kept Singapore growing, I may not have agreed in all of the man's beliefs but for his decisions, to have born the weight of a country on his shoulders for all of his adult life, it is true and I salute that he has, at that time, made the best choice possible for us all. 

    And in closing, and I have changed the gender of the character in the words of Tim Rice as lyrics for Madonna's Lament in Evita.

     I could have any prize that I desired
    I could burn with the splendor of the brightest fire
    Or else or else I could choose time
    Remember I was very young then
    And a year was forever and a day
    So what use could fifty, sixty, seventy be?
    I saw the lights and I was on my way

    And how I lived! How they shone!
    But how soon the lights were gone!

    The choice was yours and no one else's
    You can cry for a body in despair
    Hang your head because he is no longer there
    To shine, or dazzle, or betray.
    How he lived, how he shined
    But how soon the lights were gone

    Eyes, hair, face, image
    All must be preserved
    Still life displayed forever
    No less than he deserved

    These words were so aptly written, for the man, who indeed, deserved no less. 
    Thank you.
    Thank you, Sir.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    Sunday, March 01, 2015

    My Little Tapas Bar

    It was a little intimidating at first.

    The usual sight merrymakers gathered in the al fresco dining areas, drink in hand and a delicate tapas in the other.

    It looked like a perfect night out with the mates.
    Except. I had my mum with me.

    But of course, that wasn't an issue at all. 

    The warm lights within My Little Tapas Bar and the rustic and simplistic interior decor of their indoor dining area was very welcoming. And it was the 5th day of the lunar new year. It felt like I was doing a chinese new year visitation to someone's house.

    And you know what? That. Was exactly the kind of experience they wanted to recreate for the diners. 'Mi casa es su casa - my house is also your house', Maria Sevillano says, as she shares about their concept for this homely diner. 

    And the warm welcome continues with their house sangria.
    I've an allergy to alcohol but the royal red brandy with the chopped fruits was intriguing enough for me to take a sip.
    Strong. But resplendent with fruity notes.

    Being the only Spanish restaurant with 5 legs of Jamon on offer, their next sampler plate gave us a taste of two of the five Jamons available.
    The darker red Jabugo jamon from the well known 10 Vetas, was a crowd favourite.
    It went perfectly well together with a cut of the Manchengo cheese and Jenga style baguette sticks.
    Pop an olive in to complete the experience.
    And rosemary baked almonds to cleanse your palate before the next round.

    The Croquetas de Jamon were deep fried morsels of addiction.
    Don't bother with half pieces.
    It really was just for the camera effect.
    I took a full one for myself after. :)
    These croquettes are made the traditional Spanish way, with no potatoes.
    No potatoes you say?
    Yes, that's what they said.
    Bechamel and Jamon stuffings, encrusted in a delicate shell. 
    On a bed of garlic aioli.
    Once you pop, you can't stop!

    The next dish was a yet another Spanish tradition- the flatbread.
    With the most amazing colors and flavours on every single piece.
    I feared a strong fishy taste associated with the anchovies but the sweet peppers, slightly bitter taste of the rocket and the sweet sour reduction of balsamic vinegar drizzled atop put my fears to rest, and sent my tastebuds into overdrive.

    We were also treated to their lamb rack.
    Yet another fear of its gamey taste that I cannot stomach.
    But Chef Director Edward Esmero gives his word that the gamey smell would be non-existent.
    And one would be hard pressed to doubt a man who speaks with great passion about his food and his kitchen.

    And indeed,
    the tender racks of lamb had just a tinge of that gamey smell and the juices of the meat created an explosion of sense in the mouth. The proportions of fat made it all the more tender and still retaining a certain bite.
    And while the potato chunks at the side looked like an overload on the calorie counter, these were amazingly worth the tipping of the scales.
    A crisp exterior with a moist fluffy interior.
    Do not put me on a no-carb diet.
    Move over truffle fries.
    I'd like a whole bucket of these.
    The chickpeas were also a nice complement this main course.

    And what's a dinner without dessert?

    Tarteleta de Chocolate.
    Chef Edward's entry for an International Culinary Competition while he was still an amateur in his home country of the Phillipines.
    With this dessert, he beat his better known competitors from hotels and culinary schools.
    Simply made.
    It was a dish close to his heart, and made with the purest form of sincerity and passion.

    This was a buttery tart, slightly bitter from the cocoa powder with a truffle chocolate interior which was described as chocolate ice cream but I'd think it'd be closer to a thick mousse made with 68% chocolate, topped with salted caramel almond bits.
    The scoop of strawberry ice cream was made with the Magimix, using milk and egg with fresh strawberries. Forget your creamy strawberry ice creams, this was a much less creamy ice cream with an icy texture that bore truth to its rudimentary homemade processes. This was a tasting portion and the most perfect way to end the night. The regular sized portions I'd expect to be entirely indulgent and better shared due to its richness. 

    So while I haven't yet been to Spain, this cosy experience has already created a wanderlust in me to explore the traditions and soak in their hospitable culture. 

    But of course, till then, when the craving hits for some authentic Spanish fare, I know where to be at! :)

    Thanks to Reka and Opensnap for this tasting invite jointly organised by Charles from FoodCult and also to the gracious hosts, Maria and Edward of The Little Tapas Bar.
    All opinions are of the author's own.

    Thursday, January 08, 2015

    Salted Vegetables, Tomatoes and Pork Rib Soup

    The days have been significantly cooler in the recent months with frequent showers. And there's really nothing like a comforting bowl of piping hot soup on the dinner table at night for a satisfying end to the day. Seeing as how it's just the first weeks of the new year, work does threaten to stop all semblance of normalacy. Thankfully, this recipe is one of the simplest to follow and the soup comes out addictively flavoursome every single time. So take a break from all those one-pot pastas and do a one-pot soup for dinner sometime! :)

    300 gm Pork Ribs
    4 Tomatoes, quartered
    3 leaves of Salted Mustard Greens, pre-soaked in water for 15 minutes and roughly chopped into chunks.
    1 Salted (Pickled) Plum
    2L of Water
    Pepper, to taste

    1.  Boil water in a small pot.  Blanch pork ribs for a couple of minute to remove impurities and wash with room temperature water before setting it aside.

    2.  In a larger pot, place chunks of presoaked salted mustard greens, salted pickled plum and blanched pork ribs into the water and bring it to a boil. Then turn the heat down to a minimum and let it simmer for at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until meat is tender. Add a generous dash of pepper and quartered tomatoes. Let soup come to a gradual boil before serving.

    *If you like your soup less salty, soak the salted mustard greens for a longer time in water.
    *For a richer tasting soup, use chicken stock instead of water
    *Add a pack of diced soft tofu for a protein boost!

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    Saeb บะหมี่ แสบ X2 (Noodle+Khamoo Restaurant)

    Eating like the locals  Singaporeans do.

    It was already 1.45pm by the time we got to Phetchaburi Soi 15 just before Glow Pratunam Hotel. These guys have moved from a couple of streets down and their legion of adoring fans have moved along with them. All of Singapore was here.

    This being my first time ever. And they had already sold out of the braised pork trotters by then.
    The choice was clear then.
    Wanton noodles or nothing, really.

    They moved like clockwork. These two men and their agile hands. One dealing with the art of blanching the noodles and the other spearing wantons and random pieces of char siew for every bowl of noodle.

    The wanton soup takes the shortest time to prepare since all these parcels were already wrapped and blanched, needing only a shallow cover of soup.

    The filling was too little to be enjoyed.
    The minced pork had an unmistakable sweetness to it that I didn't take very well to.

    I was watching the family on the next table enjoying their wanton noodles, wondering what it would taste like.

    It was only when I saw the man with glisteningly bright lips that I realised what was the thing that drew in all the crowds.


    It's all about the lard.
    Not the bass. 
    Pun totally intended.

    I couldn't resist.

    Unlike our local wanton noodles with a soy sauce, ketchup or chilli base,
    this version was just keeping it simple with the allure of pork lard.

    The noodles were springy and had no taste of alkaline which I appreciated.
    The servings were very manageable.
    So much so that many have ordered an extra helping or two just to make for one complete meal.

    For 50 baht, 
    this was affordable but I could hardly understand the draw that it held for the Singaporean crowd besides the fact that it has been featured on one too many blogs, including this post.

    Try it.
    And then, try something else next time.

    There's too much good food in Bangkok to be savoured elsewhere :)