Monday, February 29, 2016

Never eat food you can't pronounce. Except quinoa. You must eat quinoa.

Quinoa. That's probably gotta be something close to quiche right? I mean, milk and eggs. How could that go wrong? Oh quiche was right but I could be wrong about quinoa. And I was. Quinoa is an ancient seed. A superfood that's one of the few plant based sources of complete protein. Little wonder why it would have been regarded as the Incas' gold, the mother grain.

I've had it in my pantry for the longest time but I wasn't sure how to introduce this to my family on the dinner table. Not as a side but as a substitute for that starchy rice that's a staple at every Chinese family dinner. Lofty ideas. Never attempted. Till tonight. That one special day every four years. 

Now where do I start? I read about bitter tastes, mushy turnouts. That would be a recipe for disaster. So I made sure I had backup. Made sure there was rice grains to be cooked, noodles on standby. With a deep breath, I took out my nearly forgotten white and red quinoa grains and got down to washing them. So apparently the white quinoa has the most neutral and easy to love flavour for first timers but I was keen on trying the red ones too, which have a more earthy flavour. Plus a colour pop would really appeal to one's stomach I figured? 

Quinoa has a natural coating, saponin that gives rise to a bitter taste if not washed properly. How much washing is enough? To be honest, I was none the wiser, and gave it two rounds of  vigorous washing in a fine mesh strainer. I took three quarters of the white quinoa and topped it off with another quarter of the red quinoa to make one cup. The standard ratio of quinoa to water/ stock is 1 : 2. Keep to that ratio and try it out with different stocks. I boiled up a pot of wintermelon, dried cuttlefish, pork bones and chicken breast broth and I used that as my stock. Since that was already pre-salted, I didn't add any additional seasonings. 

Boil it over high heat till the liquid is almost absorbed. That's about ten minutes worth of boiling. Then add in the carrot from the soup stock, raw cubed pumpkin and raw chopped broccoli because these cook quickly. Then turn off the flame and let it stand for five minutes. Don't peek! Then remove the lid, you should see the spirals separated from and curling around the quinoa. Use a fork and fluff up the quinoa gently. Serve warm. :)

The verdict? The jury decides... that this would not be a staple. But this would be a welcome side :) Simple. Versatile. Tasty. And a very worthwhile attempt into eating well. 
First try and definitely not the last!

From our kitchen to yours,
Brenda x

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

When Cinderella's pumpkin carriage meets... A rice cooker :)


2 wedges of pumpkin, cubed
1 carrot, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
8 chinese mushrooms, soaked and sliced
30g of dried shrimp, rinsed and soaked, reserve water
200g lean pork, sliced
(Marinate with 1 tbsp of sesame oil, 1 tsp of white pepper, 1/4 tsp of salt, 1 1/2 tbsp of oyster sauce, 1 tbsp of dark soy sauce, 1 tbsp of light soya sauce and a dash of Shaoxing wine)
6 large prawns, deveined and deshelled, reserve heads
1 sprig of parsley, chopped
1 chicken cube, dissolved in 100ml of water
2.5 cups rice, rinsed (I measured the amount of water needed for 2.5 cups of cooking and soaked the rice in it while prepping the rest of the ingredients) 
Chye sim, washed and chopped.
1 packet of Hokto Maitake mushrooms (or black fungus) for added crunch. *Optional.

In the rice cooker, turn the setting to cook and add 2 tbsp of oil. 
Stir fry garlic and dried shrimp till fragrant. 
Add in the shrimp heads, using the frying slice to press down on the heads and discard.
Throw in the mushrooms, the marinated lean pork and fry till almost cooked.
Add in the pumpkin and carrot to fry.
Pour in the rice, water and dissolved chicken stock cube, add in the chopped chye sim and mix till well combined.
Place the prawns on top and close the rice cooker. 
Wait for it to work its magic :)

From our kitchen to yours,
Brenda x

Friday, February 12, 2016

红(萝卜)运当(菜)头 | the approach of good luck!

  • Ingredients
  • 1 kg white radish, grated (reserve water)
  • 50g red carrots, grated (reserve water)
  • 150g rice flour
  • 50g corn starch
  • 1 Chinese sausages, removed from casing and diced
  • 8 pcs dried black mushroom, soaked and diced (reserve water)
  • 1 piece of dried cuttlefish, soaked and cut into bitesized strips
  • 30g dried shrimps, soaked (reserve water)
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced

  • Method: 

  • Marinate the black mushroom, cuttlefish and shrimps with 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp wine and a small pinch of sugar.

  • Combine the corn starch and rice flour with 21/2 rice bowls of water including reserve water from the radish, carrot, black mushroom, scallops and shrimp, soaking the mushrooms and cuttlefish. Stir and mix well to form a smooth batter.

  • With 3 tablespoons of oil, sauté shallots till fragrant with chopped sausages then add in shrimps, mushrooms and scallops. Toss in grated radish and carrots, add 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp oyster sauce, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp ground white pepper and 1 tbsp oil before stirring well. Toss it well to mix and keep frying till the liquid appears from the radish and carrot strips.

  • Turn to low heat, slowly stir in flour mixture into the turnips. Turn and mix well until it forms a sticky dough. 

  • Grease dish for steaming. Transfer the batter into the pan and over high heat for about 40 minutes.

 Leave to cool and cut into slices to be pan fried. Or steamed and garnished with parsley, spring onions and chopped

Recipe adapted from :

I substituted cuttlefish for scallops. It tasted good too but I'll probably stick with scallops in future :)
Have adjusted the sugar because I used red carrots for natural sweetness.
I'll probably try it with just white radish in future to try and recreate the ones served at dim sum restaurants! 

From our kitchen to yours,