Braised Chicken with Celery - simply tasty in Chinese style.

Celery has numerous important nutrients that are beneficial to overall health. It may help in the following amongst many others:- protects and lessens the risk of heart diseases; reduces inflammation in the body - arthritis, osteoporosis, asthma; supports digestion and eases flatulence; fiber for healthy digestive tract and aids in easing menstrual discomfort.

A word of caution for those on medication. Since celery cannot be interacted with certain drugs, consult a doctor if on drugs especially depressants and those that are for thyroid function. Besides that, avoid consuming it if easily susceptible to developing food allergy as celery especially the root can be a common cause of food allergy.

Having said that, the pros are more than the cons and thus this important vegetable is not to be excluded for those who do not have problematic food issues. Do eat moderate servings regularly a few times in a week. And of course, my recipe for today is including celery as one of my ingredients in braised chicken using the Chinese style of cooking; tasty and full of healthy goodness!

Braised Chicken with Celery
500g chicken legs
1/8 tsp ground black peppercorns
1 tsp light soya sauce
  • Chop chicken into moderate pieces and mix together with pepper and sauce. Set aside to marinate while preparing the ingredients as below.
200g celery
150g carrot
1 small onion
4 pips garlic
20g ginger
2 dried chillies or more
100 ml water
1 tbsp water
1 tsp oyster sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice wine 
  • Julienne celery into 1/2 cm widths.
  • Cut carrot lengthwise into halves and julienne into 1 cm widths.
  • Slice onion lengthwise into 1/2 cm wedges.
  • Lightly crush garlic and discard skin. Trim the heads.
  • Scrape skin from ginger and julienne thinly.
  • Snip chillies into 1 cm pieces. 
  • Mix together 1 tbsp water, oyster sauce, salt and cornflour.
How to cook
  1. Coat heated wok/pan with cooking oil and sear chicken, garlic and ginger over high heat for 2 minutes or until nicely browned.
  2. Add 100 ml water, carrot, chillies and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover and braise for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked.
  3. Remove cover, turn heat to high and add celery and onion. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Mix in cornflour mixture and cook another 1 minute.
  5. Stir in sesame oil and rice wine for 1/2 minute and turn off heat. Dish out and serve with rice (serves 2 to 3 pax).
** Double the water and seasonings for more gravy if preferred.




Here's wishing everyone abundant blessings in the year 2018. Happy New Year!

~Kim~







Glass Noodles with Mixed Vegetables / 'Chap Chye Tanghoon' - a popular traditional Chinese dish.

My last post was on glass noodles and I will continue with another recipe today using it but with a difference; noodles taking a back seat with mixed vegetables especially cabbage in the forefront. Reason being, this dish is usually eaten with rice.  But of course, cooking is always versatile and if a one meal noodle dish is preferred, increase the noodles and decrease the vegetables by all means. Adjust the sauce though since the decrease in vegetables also decreases the sweetness.

Glass Noodles with Mixed Vegetables or 'Chap Chye Tanghoon'  in the Chinese Hokkien dialect is a Chinese traditional dish. The ingredients which are commonly used are cabbage, glass noodles, dried beancurd (any type), dried shitake mushrooms, dried black fungus and dried lily buds. Some Chinese clans add on other ingredients besides these. It can be made as either vegetarian or non-vegetarian with meat. Some strictly cook the vegetarian version to observe religious beliefs and also as one of the many dishes to celebrate Chinese New Year reunion dinner. However, there are many who cook both versions on ordinary days.

I will be sharing the vegetarian version with you here and which I grew up eating. It was not because of any religious belief but as a normal fare (a little oyster sauce added) since our table would already be laden with meat side dishes each meal time. Whenever I saw roast pork, fried or braised soya sauce chicken, I knew mother would include vegetarian glass noodles and her ever popular pounded 'sambal belachan' (chilli shrimp paste dip). Yummy!


Glass Noodles with Cabbage (Vegetarian) / 'Chap Chye Tanghoon'
20g dried Shitake mushrooms
5g dried black fungus
50g dried beancurd sticks
5g dried lily buds
50g glass noodles (starch of green beans and potatoes)
  • Wash and soak mushrooms and fungus in a pot for 2 hours or until softened. Bring to a boil and then turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Squeeze excess water from mushrooms. Slice mushrooms and fungus. Reserve 250ml of the boiled stock.
  • Rinse beancurd and soak in water for 2 hours. Discard water and cut into 4 cm lengths.
  • Rinse and soak lily buds in water for 15 minutes. Discard water and tie each into a knot.
  • Soak noodles in water for 15 minutes and drain.
200g cabbage
30g carrot
50g onion
20g garlic
2 tbsp peanut oil
  • Slice cabbage and carrots into small pieces.
  • Slice onion lengthwise into 1cm wedges.
  • Mince the garlic.
Sauce
250ml reserved boiled stock.
1 tsp soya sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp salt
  • Mix all together.
How to cook
  1. Saute garlic in heated oil until lightly browned.
  2. Add mushrooms, fungus, beancurd, lily buds and stir fry for 2 minutes.
  3. Mix in cabbage, carrot and onion. Turn heat to high and stir fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour in sauce and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium high and simmer for 3 minutes.
  5. Add noodles and turn heat to high. Cook for 2 minutes, lightly tossing to mix everything.
  6. Turn off heat, transfer to a serving platter. Serves 3 to 4 pax with other side dishes.

** Mushrooms, fungus and beancurd can be soaked to soften one day ahead. Remove from water, and store in airtight container in the refrigerator. On the day of cooking, leave in room temperature while preparing the rest of the ingredients.






~Kim~

Glass Noodles with Enoki Mushrooms - springy and 'chew-licious'.


Today, I will be sharing a recipe on glass noodles which is one of my all-time favourite noodles. I don't cook it often now though since there are so many other types of noodles to choose from whenever I want to cook an easy, quick and all-in-one meal of noodles. I feel kind of spoilt for choice whenever I see so many varieties of dry and wet noodles of different lengths, shapes, sizes and colours that are easily available. And with new types appearing on the shelves too! However, I have a habit of checking the ingredients list of unfamiliar brands before any purchase and when in doubt, I tend to fall back on those that are reputably safe and have always been using.

Glass noodles or 'tanghoon' in Chinese Hokkien which is my dialect is also known as glass vermicelli or cellophane noodles. Probably it is because they turn clear and translucent when cooked. My personal name for them is 'chew-licious'! They are flavourless in their dried forms but become springy and delicious after cooking with other ingredients. Although they are not made from rice or wheat, they are also classified as a type of noodles made from the starch of green beans, mung beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tapioca or yam. They are sometimes referred to as bean threads for those made from beans and potato threads for those made from potatoes.

I am using glass noodles that are made from a mix of green beans and potatoes in this recipe. Enoki mushrooms with their firm and crunchy bite and yet tender texture complement them very well. Why not make your festive spread this season a fusion one by including this delicious dish?


Glass Noodles with Enoki Mushrooms

Ingredients
150g glass noodles
water
  • Soak noodles in water for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
200g pork tenderloin or chicken
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
  • Slice pork into desired size.  Mix all together and set aside.
1 large leek
100 g carrot
100g or more Enoki / Straw Mushrooms
4 pips garlic
2 shallots
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp cooking oil
  • Slice off the root ends of the leek and wash off the dirt especially in between the layers of the leaves.  Cut the white bulbous part lengthwise into halves and julienne and the leaves too.
  • Julienne the carrot.
  • Trim away the base of mushrooms and brush off any remaining dirt. Separate into individual strands.
  • Mince the garlic and shallots together finely.
Sauce
250ml water
2 tsp light soya sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp salt
  • Mix all together.

How to cook
  1. Saute minced garlic and shallots in heated 1 tbsp oil over medium low heat until aromatic and lightly browned.
  2. Add pork, turn heat to high and stir fry until nearly cooked.
  3. Mix in carrot and leek and fry for 1 minute.
  4. Stir in mushrooms, 1/8 tsp salt and cook for another minute or until a little moist. Turn off the heat and scoop out into a plate. Set aside.
  5. Pour sauce into the wok and bring to a boil. Add in noodles and simmer over high heat for 2 minutes, turning gently  twice. Turn off the heat and stir in cooked vegetables. Mix together and then dish out into a serving platter.  Serves 3 to 4 pax.
** If cooking for big groups or buffet spread, cut the noodles into shorter lengths for easy mixing and serving.



~Kim~





Aubergine and Onion Omelette



It is always handy to keep a supply of eggs for those days when we want to eat protein but find the refrigerator empty of fish and meat. Oops ... forgot about not having stocked up! Or just  want to whip up an easy and stress-free meal. Omelette or Omelet is a good choice!  Just a bit of simple creativity in action with a combination of leftover vegetables and we are able to come up with the required protein and nutrients.

I will be sharing my recipe for Aubergine and Onion Omelette today and which will be my final post on Aubergine / Brinjal / Eggplant recipes for this month. Antioxidants are found in the skin especially that of the black and dark purple varieties and for this important nutrient, I will include the skin in my omelette.  The aubergine is diced into small and thin slices so that the skin is not felt when eaten.


Aubergine and Onion Omelette
200g aubergine
1/4 tsp salt
50g onion (small)
1 sprig green/spring onion
3 large or 4 small eggs
1/4 tsp salt or less
pinch of white pepper
light olive oil

Preparation 
  • Dice aubergine into small and thin slices. Mix well with 1/4 tsp salt and set aside for 10 minutes and then lightly squeeze out excess water.
  • Roughly chop onion.
  • Thinly slice green/spring onion.
  • Lightly beat eggs with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper and stir in chopped onion.

How to cook
  1. Heat enough oil and fry aubergine until cooked and soft.  Scoop out.
  2. Lightly oil and heat pan, pour in a portion of egg mixture, spread some fried aubergine and green onions evenly over.
  3. Cook on both sides until nicely browned and fold.  Repeat the same with the other batches (makes 3 or 4).



~Kim~



Chicken and Mixed Vegetable Curry - mildly spicy and simply delightful to eat with bread and Indian flatbreads.


Today's post is a recipe for Chicken and Mixed Vegetable Curry. This is a continuation of brinjal recipes that I have been sharing in my last two posts. Brinjal is also referred to as aubergine or eggplant and as I have mentioned before it has numerous possible health benefits when taken regularly in moderation.

The brinjal in this recipe is cooked together with green chillies, tomatoes and potatoes until slightly mushy to form a thick spicy base for the chicken. Cooked this way and it is great to wrap the meat and vegetables with bread, chapati and naan.  Chapati is Indian unleavened flatbread and naan is Indian leavened flatbread.

The level of spicy hotness is mild but for those who are unable to even stomach that, do reduce or omit the chilli powder.  As for those who love to sweat it out on a higher level or 'Oomph' as Malaysians describe this experience, increase a bit more of the chilli powder. Prepare a glass of cold water though. On second thoughts, warm water? I have tried both when I felt 'fire' in my mouth. Personally I find cold water only gives temporary relief whereas warm water is more effective. Or kill two birds with one stone by having some ice cream or chocolate to indulge and enjoy as dessert even as the cool creaminess eases the spicy hotness.

Chicken and Vegetable Curry

Mixed Spices
1 tbsp ground coriander 
1 tsp ground cumin 
1 tsp ground fennel 
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp ground black peppercorns
  • Mix all together.
Other Ingredients
500g boneless chicken breast
200g brinjal
1/2 tsp salt
200g tomatoes
100g green chillies
150g potato
100g onion
4 pips garlic
20g fresh ginger
5g cinnamon stick
4 cloves
2 star anise
200ml water
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp salt or less
  • Dice chicken into small pieces or cubes.
  • Slice brinjal into small pieces. Mix well with 1/2 tsp salt and set aside.  Gently squeeze out excess water just before cooking.
  • Slice tomatoes and green chillies into small pieces and puree with 200ml water.
  • Peel potato and slice into small pieces or cubes.
  • Coarsely chop onion.
  • Smash garlic to remove skins, trim the heads and mince finely.
  • Scrape off ginger skin and mince finely.

How to cook
  1. Add cinnamon, cloves and star anise in heated oil, give them a stir and then add garlic, ginger and onion. Stir fry until aromatic and lightly browned.
  2. Stir in chicken and mixed spices. Fry over medium high heat until meat changes colour and a little oil breaks through.
  3. Pour in pureed tomatoes and green chillies and bring to a boil. Add brinjal and potato and bring to a boil again.  Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked and brinjal pieces are slightly mushy.
  4. Add 1 tsp salt or according to taste.
  5. Remove from heat and dish out to serve with bread, chapati or naan.
** If inconvenient to DIY the mixed spices, an alternative is to get commercially prepared all in one pack for meat curry.




~Kim~





Stuffed Aubergine / Brinjal - with a tasty anchovy and leek sauce or enjoyed on its own with a chilli dip.

My last post was on a recipe for " 'Keo' Masak Belanda"; an aubergine/brinjal dish. I will continue to share on aubergine recipes for this month. Aubergine is an item that should be included in our list of 'To Eat' because as with most fruits and vegetables, it has many possible health benefits.  One of them is lowered risk of heart disease and another is good fiber that is essential for gastrointestinal health. Do eat it regularly but in small portions each time though since there is also the con of overeating as with everything.

Today's menu is on Stuffed Aubergine/Brinjal. If you were to visit my country of Malaysia and step into any food court or open restaurant, you will surely find at least one stall if not a few selling vegetables and bean curds stuffed with fish or meat fillings, fried or non fried. They are sometimes eaten on its own dipped in chilli sauce or served in clear or curried soups with noodles. This is how popular this Chinese cuisine is with most of the Malaysian community. There are also a few Malay stalls and restaurants selling them too but the filling is made only with fish or chicken without pork.

I got a bit bored with the usual soups one day and decided to make something different and thus, the anchovy and leek sauce with the pork filling made simple but tasty.  This filling can be used to stuff other types of vegetables like brussels sprouts, capsicum, green chillies and okra besides aubergine. Shitake mushrooms are also good.


Stuffed Aubergine / Brinjal

Filling
150g ground or minced pork
3 pips garlic (finely minced)
1 tbsp finely chopped green onions/spring onions
a big pinch of freshly ground white pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cornflour
  • Mix all together thoroughly with a fork and set aside.
Other Ingredients
250g dark purple Aubergine / Brinjal
2 cups water
1 tsp salt 
20g small whole dried anchovies
2 pips garlic (minced)
1 stalk leek (roughly chopped)
1 cup water
1 tbsp or more chopped green onions
Oil for shallow frying

How to make

  • Give the anchovies a brief rinse and leave on paper towels to absorb moisture.
  • Mix 2 cups water with 1 tsp salt. Slice aubergine diagonally and thickly.  Make 10 pieces. Make an incision in the middle of each piece. Soak in the salted water to prevent discolouration.
  • Stuff pork filling deep into each incised piece and smooth over the top with the back of a spoon. Dip the spoon in the salted water as you work.
  • Heat enough oil to shallow fry the stuffed pieces until golden brown. 
  • Discard most of the oil leaving behind a little and remove any burnt bits. Saute anchovies until lightly browned. Add garlic and leeks and saute over high heat for another minute. Scoop out, cool slightly and puree in a tall blender with 1 cup water.
  • Bring the pureed mixture to a boil.  Add fried aubergine and simmer for a few minutes or until cooked. Season with salt (optional).
  • Add chopped green onions and serve hot.  

** Ensure that the pork fillings are fully cooked if they are to be eaten on its own without cooking in the leek sauce.




~Kim~


" 'Keo' Masak Belanda" - a simple but tasty and unique dish of aubergine and prawns.


The literal translation for the name goes like this: 'Keo or Kio' (Hokkien Chinese language) = Aubergine / Brinjal / Eggplant; 'Masak' (Malay) = cook; 'Belanda' (Malay) = Dutch.  Probably you may be confused with this mix and wonder about the origin of this dish.  I am not able to help much either but as far as I know, this used to be one of the dishes that my late mother often cooked and enjoyed.  I have been trying to find out from the people outside of my family if any has eaten or knowledge of it but so far have been unsuccessful. So, is it Eurasian, Nyonya, Penang food or my mother's creation?  I don't know yet.  Even my family does not know.

I had watched my mother cooking this dish many times but did not take note of the exact ratio of each ingredient used. When I wanted to cook it later on, I had to recollect and experiment to put it all together. When my aunt tasted the final experimentation, she gave me the thumbs up and I was greatly delighted and encouraged because she was a great fan of my mother's cooking and her approval meant a great deal to me. My aunt is only eight years older and we grew up together under my mother's care after her mother (my mother's stepmother) passed away.  I was unable to understand her position then and treated her like a friend and sibling. When sibling rivalry occurred, there would be fights. However, now that we are adults, I have returned her to her rightful place as an aunt with due respect but the 'friend' part of it is still maintained.

Although the amount of shrimp paste is small but is actually what makes this dish.  In fact, it cannot be substituted with anything else. For those who are averse to shrimp paste, you may want to use fish sauce instead but the taste will definitely be different. I am using the long dark purplish variety of aubergine which is also referred to as brinjal and eggplant.  It is called 'Terung' in the Malay language.


"'Keo' Masak Belanda"
350g aubergine / brinjal / eggplant
150g medium prawns
6 pips garlic
1 shallot
1 fresh red chilli
1 fresh green chilli
10g shrimp paste
250g thin coconut milk
Cooking oil
1/4 tsp salt

Preparation
  • Shell and devein prawns.
  • Mince garlic and shallot.
  • Slice chillies diagonally and thinly.
  • Cut aubergine into 5 cm (2 inches) lengths and then each piece into thick slices.

How to cook
  1. Fry aubergine in heated shallow oil over medium high heat until nicely browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  2. Scoop out some of the oil leaving behind just enough to saute the minced garlic, shallot and sliced chillies for a minute.
  3. Add shrimp paste, saute until aromatic and stir in prawns.  When prawns are nearly cooked, scoop out into a plate and set aside.
  4. Pour in coconut milk, add sautéed aubergine and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to low and simmer until softened but firm.
  5. Return sautéed prawn mixture to the wok, mix well to cook over high heat for another minute. Season with salt.
  6. Serve with rice.



~Kim~


Cheesy Spinach Soup - an energising and nutritious soup for all ages.


Finding difficulty in persuading your growing child to eat spinach? Not surprising for there are many children who will try to escape eating vegetables if given a choice. However, most anxious and devoted moms will go to great lengths to ensure their children eat vegetables especially when they are packed with fiber, essential minerals and vitamins like spinach.

"I'm Popeye the Sailor Man. I'm Popeye the Sailor Man. I'm strong to the finish cos I eat me Spinach. I'm Popeye the Sailor Man." Singing this jingle may delight the child and work to get a few mouthfuls in but poor mom will wish for the child to finish the whole bowl.  I hope this soup will contribute to that wish.  I have created this recipe with pureed spinach and the cheese is portioned not to make it overpowering. It is easy and tasty enough for children to begin to develop a liking for this precious vegetable. It is also great for adults who have difficulty chewing, swallowing and digesting and for those who want something light and nutritious after workouts. In a nutshell, this soup is great for all ages.


Cheesy Spinach Soup
200g spinach (roots and dried leaves discarded)
100g tomato
2 pips garlic
1 shallot
2 thin slices ginger
1 sprig flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp ground brown rice
50g mozarella cheese
2 cups water
1 tbsp light olive oil
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt or less

Preparation
  • Finely mince garlic, shallot and ginger.
  • Slice tomato into wedges.
  • Roughly chop spinach and parsley stems.  Finely mince parsley leaves.
  • Blend tomato, chopped spinach and parsley stems with some water into a puree.
How to cook
  1. Saute minced garlic, shallot and ginger in light olive oil over medium low heat for one minute.
  2. Add ground rice and stir for about two minutes.
  3. Pour in pureed spinach mixture and remaining water.  Bring to a boil, turn heat to low and simmer uncovered for eight  minutes.  Stir at intervals to prevent lumps from forming and to keep soup smooth.
  4. Stir in cheese, extra virgin olive oil, minced parsley leaves and salt for one minute.
  5. Serve hot.
** Ground rice can be substituted with unbleached flour or potato.

Add chopped or ground nuts for nut lovers.




~Kim~







Lamb Curry - lamb stewed in aromatic spices for a succulent and tender texture with a flavourful, rich and unforgettable taste.


There was an Indian family from my neighborhood in my little hometown back in Penang and I especially liked to visit them often during school breaks.  It was the aroma of spices from their house that invited me.  Amma prepared everything from scratch to make curries and manually too; roasting spices to grinding them and chillies on an old fashioned grinding stone.  She would also grate her own coconut and use a muslin cloth to squeeze out pure unadulterated coconut milk.  I was very much fascinated with her old fashioned coconut grater and I would offer to help whenever I saw her breaking coconuts.  It was fun as I felt like I was horse riding as I sat on the wooden seat holding the coconut over the grater but of course I did successfully grate everything properly!  

I guess some of that exposure has stuck with me and I roast and grind my own spices now too but have it easier though with my electric grinder.  I measure and seal them in packs of appropriate portions to freeze.  However, I do buy commercially prepared ones during emergencies and as for grated coconut and its milk, they are both easily available for purchase. I have put together and experimented with different types of curries and today will be sharing one of them with you and that is Lamb Curry.

Lamb Curry
Ingredients A
800g lamb shoulder (excess fat trimmed)
10g cinnamon stick
6 cloves
4 star anise
2 sprigs curry leaves
2 tbsp oil
150 ml thick coconut milk
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
  • Chop lamb into reasonably big cubes / chunks.
Ingredients B
100g shallots
4 pips garlic
20g ginger
  • Peel skins and finely chop together in a food processor.
Ingredients C
3 tbsp ground coriander seeds
1 tbsp ground cumin (jintan putih)
1 tbsp fennel seeds (jintan manis)
1 tsp ground black peppercorns
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp chilli powder
  • Mix all together
Ingredients D
250g ripe tomatoes
1 cup water
  • Slice tomatoes into wedges and puree with the water.
How to cook
  1. Saute cinnamon, star anise, cloves and curry leaves in heated oil over medium low heat for 1/2 minute or until aromatic.
  2. Add (B) and stir fry over medium high heat until lightly browned and aromatic.
  3. Stir in lamb and fry for 2 minutes.  Mix in (C) and stir fry for 3 minutes or until aromatic and a little oil breaks through.
  4. Add (D) and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour.  Stir to prevent sticking to the bottom towards the last 10 minutes.
  5. Uncover, add coconut milk and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add lime juice, cover, turn heat to low and continue to simmer for 15 minutes or until meat is tender.  Stir at intervals.
  6. Add salt and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  7. Serve with bread or rice.
** Mutton can be used but simmer for extra 10 minutes or more before adding coconut milk.  The meat is tougher since it comes from adult sheep.





~Kim~









How to use FM's Pickled Salmon to make easy and simple meals - different ways of eating Food Mystique's nutritious Pickled Salmon.


I shared on how to make Pickled Salmon in my last post and today I will be giving tips on how to whip up quick meals using it.  Make a supply on a free day, store it well in the refrigerator and use it as and when you are in need.  Let's start off by making omelette wraps.

Ingredients
FM's Pickled Salmon
4 eggs
1 sprig cilantro / coriander
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
Cooking oil

Directions
  • Lightly beat eggs, chopped cilantro, salt and pepper.
  • Pour 1/4 of beaten eggs in lightly oiled and heated pan.  Gently flip over when cooked and spread enough salmon in the middle from one end to the other. Fold as in the image and sear to a nice colour on each side and especially to seal the folded edges.
  • Do the same with the rest.  Makes four wraps.


Another tip is a simple pasta or rice noodles meal.  Whenever I prepare pasta, I boil extra to just before al dente, cool and divide into portions in sealed food plastic bags to freeze.  When needed, I remove them from their bags and pop them in the microwave oven in covered microwavable containers to defrost.  Use any type of pasta as preferred.

Ingredients
Boiled Pasta or rice noodles
FM's Pickled Salmon
Broccoli
Flat Leaf Parsley
Salt (optional)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions
  • Slice broccoli into small florets and mince the parsley.
  • Mix enough salmon, broccoli and parsley together and microwave to cook. Remove from microwave oven and mix together with pasta or rice noodles and olive oil. Season with salt if necessary.


How about cheesy salmon pasta? 

Ingredients
Boiled pasta for two persons
100g FM's Pickled Salmon
200g tomatoes
1/2 cup water
Bay Leaves
50g mozarella cheese
Salt (optional)
1 tbsp grapeseed oil

Directions
  • Slice tomatoes and blend with salmon and water.
  • Bring to a boil in a saucepan, add bay leaves and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add cheese, give it a stir and mix in grapeseed oil.  
  • Mix pasta with sauce and serve with minced parsley.
** When making pasta dish, test for taste and add salt only if necessary because salt has been added when boiling pasta and the Pickled Salmon is already seasoned. 



Ingredients
FM's Pickled Salmon
Fresh Orange Juice

Direction
  • Blend together adequate amount of each to make a thick consistency as a dip for fruits and garden salad.




~Kim~



















Pickled Salmon - packed with nutrients; as a filling for barquettes, crepes, sandwiches, tortillas, omelette or as a base for noodles in a jiffy on that busy day.



Make a supply of this Pickled Salmon, keep in the refrigerator and have it to fall on for those busy days when too tired to cook but do not want to eat out.  Secondly, this is perfect for parties as a filling for barquettes, crepes, dainty sandwiches and tortillas.  Make it a few days earlier and just fill them on the day itself.  A plus for stress free preparation.  Lastly but not the least, it is packed with nutrients.  Just the other day, I was in a situation when I just wanted something simple and yet nutritious and I was glad when I thought about my supply of Pickled Salmon in the refrigerator!

I used to make my own bread but not now.  Thankfully, there is a trusted bakery nearby to cater to my needs.  However, that day I was at another place and saw a bakery and decided to see what they had.   To my delight, their wheat bran boule was just out of their oven, looked and smelled inviting too and I said 'Yes'! Came home later and made the sandwich as below.  Nothing dainty but satisfying enough with a choice of biting into it as an open or closed sandwich.


Pickled Salmon
Ingredients A
1 kg salmon fillet 
2 tsp salt
  • Put water to boil in a steamer.  When boiling, place salmon in it and steam over high heat for 8 minutes or until cooked.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Flake with a fork and check further to thoroughly remove any stray bones.
  • Mix 1 tsp salt with the flaked salmon, sprinkle the other 1 tsp salt over, cover and set aside while preparing the other ingredients.
Ingredients B
20g fresh young ginger
30g fresh young turmeric
4 pips garlic
100g onion
4 fresh green chillies
200g jicama or Chinese golden pear
  • Wash ginger and turmeric, scrap away skin and mince finely.
  • Peel garlic and onion and mince finely.
  • Remove seeds from green chilli and chop finely (use a food glove to handle).
  • Wash jicama or pear, peel the skin and dice finely.
  • Mix all together.
** Or use a food processor.  Stain from turmeric is easily removed with dish washing liquid.

Ingredients for Sauce
2 tbsp ground brown rice
3/4 cup fish liquid from steaming
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp light soya sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp or more chilli powder or paste
  • Bring the fish liquid to a boil (add water to make up the required 3/4 cup if necessary) in a pan over medium low heat and stir in ground flour.  Simmer for 1/2 minute, remove pan from stove, leave to cool and then mix everything together.

Final Procedure
  1. Mix A and B together with a fork.
  2. Pour sauce over and mix thoroughly.
  3. Use accordingly or transfer to a sterilised glassware, well covered and store on top shelf of the refrigerator.



In my next post I will show you how to use Pickled Salmon as a base for noodles and omelette wraps.




~ Kim ~




Stewed Chicken and Chinese Chestnut with Noodles - a delicious, satisfying comfort food with smooth and thick sauce coating the chewy noodles and meaty, sweet texture of chicken and chestnut.


I had some time to kill before my next agenda the other morning and so decided to go to a nearby hypermarket.  To my delight, I saw a cart of Chinese Chestnuts freshly laid out. They were clean and plump and I was reminded of the time when I was living in Kuala Lumpur. I would sometimes visit Petaling Street but first and foremost, I would gear myself in a pair of pants/slacks with a loose blouse and waist pouch underneath. Why? Firstly, I always believe in taking safety precautions in busy, popular and crowded places.  Secondly, I wanted to leave my hands free to pick, choose and carry goodies. (Go with a partner, both ways).  And mind you, there were a lot of street carts with unique wearables and delicious foods laid out the length of Petaling Street.  One of those was Roast Chinese Chestnut.  I still remember and miss the waft of the sweet aroma of these roasted Chinese chestnuts even before reaching the stall.  

Did you guess if I bought the chestnuts from the hypermarket?  Of course, I did but only as much as I needed.  I scored and roasted them in a wok over the stove for about 20 minutes.  Some were eaten just like that and the rest used to cook with chicken and just as delicious. 


Stewed Chicken and Chinese Chestnut with Noodles
Ingredients A
1 kg chicken drumstick / leg (skin and fats removed)
1 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp thick soya sauce
1/2 tsp white peppercorns
  • Chop each chicken drumstick into two pieces.  Crush peppercorns finely.  Mix all together, cover and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for an hour or more. Leave in room temperature for 15 minutes before cooking.
Ingredients  B
20 Chinese Chestnuts
10 cloves 
6 star anise
8 pips garlic
2 shallots
10g ginger
2 cups hot water
1 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp thick soya sauce
1 tbsp ground rice
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp sesame oil

  • Score chestnuts on rounded side by using a chestnut knife.  Or lay the flat sides over a thick paper towel on a working board.  Place and hold cleaver on the top middle part of the nuts.  Tap hard to make a shallow cut into the inner skin.  Do not hold the nuts when cutting to prevent accidents.  The paper towel and positioning of cleaver will hold the nuts in place.  Wash and boil for 10 minutes or roast in oven or in a wok/pan.  Use a small knife to lift and remove the outer and inner skins.  Pare off thinly any stubborn skin.
  • Mince the shallots. Leave the garlic whole with the skin on (stewed flesh of garlic tastes good). 
  • Slice ginger into four.


How to cook
  1. Saute cloves, star anise, garlic, minced shallots and ginger in heated oil over medium low heat until lightly browned and aromatic.
  2. Add chicken and stir fry over high heat for 1 minute or until meat changes colour.  Stir in hot water, light and thick soya sauces, chestnuts and bring to boil. When boiling, turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Uncover, stir in ground rice and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.
  4. Uncover, add salt, turn heat to high and cook for 1 minute or until sauce is smooth and thickened.
  5. Turn off heat and stir in sesame oil.  
  6. Serve with flat Chinese noodles or rice. Or use Linguine pasta which tastes the same. Boil according to package instructions before mixing with the stew. Garnish with green/spring onions (optional).
** Substitute ground rice with cornflour if preferred.  Mix 1 tbsp water with 4 tsp cornflour and stir in towards the end, cooking on high heat for a minute until sauce is smooth and thickened.

** If inconvenient to peel fresh chestnuts, use dried ones.  Pour boiling water over and leave to soak overnight.  Boil for an hour until softened and cook accordingly.  Do not discard the water.  Use it and add more if needed to make up the required amount.  


The image below is a batch which I made with less sauce on another day.  I didn't want any noodle or rice then.  Use only half of the water, soya sauces, ground rice or cornflour and salt.

Tuck in and enjoy ...




~Kim~





Cumin Chicken with Mixed Vegetables - fragrant, full of beneficial and nutritional goodness .


There are two methods to making this healthy and tasty dish.  I don't mind raw bell peppers but given a choice, I prefer them cooked.  If you are also in the same category as me, then follow the recipe as below.  However, if you prefer eating raw, there is another method to this dish.  Follow the steps in cooking the meat but dish out when cooked and pour into raw vegetables to mix together with extra virgin olive oil.  There, that's your Chicken and raw Salad.


Cumin Chicken with Mixed Vegetables
200g chicken fillet
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
50g green bell pepper
50g red bell pepper
50g yellow bell pepper
100g broccoli
100g jicama
4 pips garlic
1 medium onion
1/2 tsp salt or according to taste
1 tbsp light olive oil
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preparation
  • Slice chicken fillet across the grain into thin strips and mix together with cumin and pepper. Set aside.
  • Mince the garlic and slice onion thinly.
  • Slice bell peppers, broccoli and jicama into thin strips.
How to cook
  1. Saute garlic and onion in heated light olive oil until fragrant and lightly browned over medium high heat.
  2. Add marinated chicken, sprinkle salt over and saute until meat changes colour and is aromatic.
  3. Mix in vegetables and stir fry until cooked but still crunchy.
  4. Turn off heat, mix in extra virgin olive oil and dish out to serve with bread, baked sweet potato/pumpkin or as a side dish to rice.  Can even be eaten on its own if on a slimming diet.



~Kim~

Bitter Gourd Chicken in Bean Paste Sauce - a tasty Chinese dish from Penang that is not as bitter as it sounds and makes one ask for more.


For those who are put off by the name 'bitter' given to this gourd or may have eaten it before and found it true to its name, let me assure you that this recipe will surely change your mind. The bitter taste is so slight that you will not really notice it and the overall tastiness of the dish makes one ask for more. I will be showing you how the Hokkiens in Penang cook this; simple and yet tasty.  I grew up eating this because this is one of the common dishes on our dinner table.  


Bitter Gourd Chicken in Bean Paste Sauce
200g chicken breast (skinless and boneless)
200g bitter gourd (bitter melon)
4 pips garlic
30g fresh ginger
1 fresh red chilli (optional)
1 tsp light soya sauce
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp fermented soy bean paste ( taucheo)
1 tbsp sesame oil
3/4 cup hot water or a bit more

Preparation
  • Slice chicken across the grain into small diagonal pieces (1/2 cm width). Marinate with soya sauce and cornflour.
  • Quarter the bitter gourd, remove the seeds and slice diagonally into 1/2 cm width.  Mix thoroughly with salt, set aside for 15 minutes and then rinse with water.  Gently squeeze excess water.
  • Slice chilli diagonally and shake or scrape off seeds.
  • Mince garlic and ginger.
How to cook
  1. Saute minced garlic and ginger over medium low heat until nearly brown.  Add bean paste and saute until fragrant.
  2. Add chicken and chilli, fry over medium high heat until meat changes colour. Pour in 3/4 cup hot water and bring to a boil.
  3. Stir in bitter gourd and cook for about 2 minutes or until cooked but still firm. Taste and add a bit more hot water if needed.  Chicken should be tender and not overcooked.
  4. Serve with rice.
** Choose bitter gourd that is big, plump and light green in colour.  This recipe serves 2 persons and only about half of the gourd is used.  If unable to get half, cook extra and keep leftovers in the refrigerator for the next day.  It will still taste good.




~Kim~



Stuffed Fish with Chilli - a special Malaysian style of eating fish that is fragrant and spicy.


Fishes are lovely to look at especially the colourful ones; nutritious and tasty too. Recently, I decided to visit a park which I had often frequented before but have not done so for the past year. I was initially pleased to see that it was quite well maintained with many people already exercising, line dancing and jogging.  And I had thought that there would only be a few early birds like me!  I had a pleasant time until I went over to the lake and was greatly disappointed to see the water murky with only a few fishes swimming forlornly and pitifully around!  It used to be a beautiful lake with myriad of colourful fishes joggling and jostling each other for bits of bread from visitors. It was a wonderful sight then!

I went to the market after that to scout out the fishes and that trip made up for the disappointment at the lake because the fishes that morning looked fresh and inviting, especially the Torpedo Scad or Hardtail Scad shiny in their armour of hard scutes. I bought a few varieties and decided to cook Stuffed Fish with Chilli with the Torpedo Scad and which I am sharing the recipe today. It is not the best of fishes but when cooked this way, it tastes good. There is another type of stuffing made from coconut but I will share that on another day.


There are two ways to prepare this type of fish.  One way is to peel off the hard scutes or skin exposing the flesh which will have a crispy texture after frying. Peeling can be quite difficult and tricky at first. There are some fishmongers who will provide this extra service sometimes. Another easier way is to fry without peeling which then makes it easy to remove but the flesh will be tender instead of crispy. You can see the difference between the peeled and unpeeled forms below. Although Torpedo Scud is commonly used in this recipe, other types of whole fleshy fish can also be used. 


Stuffed Fish with Chilli
1 kg Torpedo Scad (Ikan Cencaru) - 4 big or 5 medium sized
1 1/2 tsp salt
Oil to shallow fry fish
340g fresh red chillies
400g shallots
2 stalks lemongrass
10g shrimp paste
1/2 tsp salt or according to taste
4 tbsp oil

Method
  • Roughly slice shallots and chillies. Discard dried outer layers of lemongrass and thinly slice about 8 to 10cm of white bulbous part. Blend together in blender or food processor until a fine paste. 
  • Heat 4 tbsp oil or enough to stir fry blended chilli paste with shrimp paste over medium low heat until fragrant and oil breaks through. Season with salt.
  • Scoop onto a plate and leave to cool.
  • Remove gills and entrails of fishes by pulling them out of the stomach, trim and wash. Do not slit the stomachs. To peel the scute, make a shallow incision on the top front and sides and use a folded kitchen paper to hold and peel it off.  Slit each side starting from the back along the skeletal bones towards the stomach cavity. Rub salt all over including the stomach cavities and slits. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  • Stuff cooled chilli paste deep into the slits and stomach cavities to avoid slipping out and burning during frying.
  • Heat enough oil to shallow fry the stuffed fishes. Fry each side for about 2 minutes over high heat until nicely browned and cooked.




Squeeze lemon or lime juice over the chilli stuffing and serve as a side dish to rice with fruit and vegetables.









Or just enjoy it as a snack by wrapping in greens.









~Kim~



Sweet and Sour Fish - this dish is not only pleasing to the eyes but also to the sense of taste.

Sweet and Sour Fish is a common and popular dish amongst the Chinese. There are a few ways to cooking it and here, I will be sharing with you my method.  I like a lot of vegetables in it and sometimes I cook extra to keep in the refrigerator and can be eaten cold the next day or a few days later.  All I have to do is to grill or shallow fry a seasoned fish or prawns to go with them.  

Black Pomfret is more commonly and often used and which I will be using here. Sometimes, I cook with salmon steaks too. I usually keep a supply of them in the freezer just in case I need an easy and quick fix that will suffice as a simple dinner but with good nutrients. Just the other day was an example.  I had not done marketing for that week and did not have the usual vegetables to dress up this dish. Therefore, I had to make do with whatever I had remaining in the refrigerator and adjusted the seasoning and marinade. I grilled the salmon instead of frying and  since I did not want any rice for that day, I made them with less sauce. Thankfully, the dish turned out great although unlike the typical style. 


Sweet and Sour Fish
1 Black Pomfret (600g)
150g cucumber
200g tomatoes
20g carrot
50g green bell pepper
1 small fresh red chilli
80g half ripened pineapple (without skin and eyes)
80g onion
2 pips garlic
2 slices ginger
80ml water
1 1/2 tsp cornflour
Peanut oil or other

Marinade Ingredients
1/2 tbsp vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp chilli sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Preparation
  • Peel cucumber skin on alternate sides, quarter lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Slice into narrow diagonals and then each diagonal piece into half.
  • Mix the Marinade Ingredients together and pour over the cucumber.  Set aside.
  • Scale, trim, gut and clean the fish well. Make two incisions on each side and season with salt.
  • Slice tomatoes into small wedges.
  • Slice pineapple, carrot, bell pepper, chilli and onion into similar sizes as the cucumber.
  • Mince garlic and ginger.

How to cook
  1. Heat enough oil to shallow fry the fish until cooked and nicely browned. Do not overcook. Remove to a serving dish.
  2. Discard some of the oil leaving behind about 1 tbsp of oil to saute the minced garlic and ginger.
  3. When lightly browned, add bell pepper and chilli and saute until aromatic. Scoop out into a plate and set aside.
  4. Add water, tomatoes, pineapple, carrot and bring to a boil.  Then cover and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes or until slightly softened.
  5. Mix cornflour into the cucumber marinade and add in together with the sautéed pepper mixture and onion. Stir over high heat until cucumber is cooked but still crunchy. Sauce should be slightly thickened.
  6. Scoop out over fried fish and serve with rice.
**   Fish be coated with flour first before frying although I prefer not to do that.  Fish fillets can be used instead. If more sauce is preferred increase the amount of water and adjust the Marinade Ingredients and cornflour.






~Kim~

Spicy Chinese Long Beans with Shrimps - an easy and simple but tasty recipe of beans that are quickly stir fried with shrimps as a crunchy and spicy side dish to rice.


Whenever I have eaten too much of meat and rich foods, I will just go for simple dishes the next day and Spicy Chinese Long Beans (Yardlong Bean) with Shrimps is one of them. The feel of lethargy ceases to remain when it meets with the light, crunchy and spicy taste of this dish.

This reminds me of my school days. Have you ever made fun of classmates during your school days by giving them nicknames and those of vegetables? I have and there was a season when together with my group, we nicknamed our classmates as Long Bean, Pumpkin and Rotten Chilli, etc. Sounds unkind but surprisingly were taken in stride as a joke and received our fair share of nicknames in return. Thankfully, we managed to outgrow that childish season shortly after.


Spicy Chinese Long Beans with Shrimps

150g Chinese Long Beans (Yardlong Bean)
300g shrimps
2 pips garlic
2 shallots
80g or 1 medium onion
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp peanut oil
1/4 tsp salt or according to taste.


Preparation
  • Remove the heads and shells of shrimps. There is no need to devein as they are small sized.
  • Slice beans into 1 inch lengths.
  • Mince the garlic and shallots.
  • Slice onion into 12 wedges, remove root ends and separate into pieces.

How to cook
  1. Saute minced garlic and shallots in heated oil until aromatic and lightly browned.
  2. Add beans, shrimps, chilli powder and stir a few times to mix over high heat.
  3. Add water, give it a stir and then mix in onions, fish sauce and salt.
  4. Quickly stir fry until cooked; beans should be cooked but crunchy and shrimps not overcooked. Dish out onto a plate and serve with rice.

** Shrimp heads can frozen together with other batches to make seafood stock when enough has been collected.




~Kim~

Introduction to Herbs, Spices and Ingredients to spice up your foods and cause your taste buds to encounter a tantalising and unforgettable experience.

Herbs, Spices and Ingredients Whenever I go to the market, the galore of foodstuffs never fail to make me amazed by God's provi...