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

  • 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.


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.

  • 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.


Timun Sui - a tasty and refreshing Chinese Malaysian dish of cucumber

Today, I will be sharing a tasty and refreshing Chinese Malaysian or Nyonya cucumber dish that will boost the appetite  with its sourish and slightly sweetish taste.  It is called 'Timun Sui' : 'Timun' is a Malay word for cucumber and 'Sui' is a Hokkien Chinese word for sour. However, as far as I remember, my family and others in Penang have always referred to cucumber as 'timun' too.

The traditional recipe calls for a mix of chicken gizzard, heart and liver and sometimes with additional pork but I will only be using pork in my recipe here. Well, I don't know the actual reason for using giblets as the origin but I guess part of it may be connected to this dish being mostly cooked in a celebratory or ceremonial meal. Many chickens would be slaughtered then and as most Chinese people are basically intuitively versatile in not wasting food and making almost anything edible into something delicious, the excess giblets from the chickens would have been put to good use.

I often cook this dish since I do not observe ceremonial or religious practices and also because I enjoy eating it. As for those who are into a slimming diet, one or half a small bowl of brown or whole grain rice with this dish and some salad will surely contribute beneficially with all the much needed wholesome nutrients. Vinegar is the essential ingredient for the authentic Asian taste but if you are allergic to it, try substituting with lemon juice instead.

Timun Sui
A - 100g pork fillet 
      1 tsp light soya sauce
      1 tsp cornflour
  • Thinly slice pork against the grain and marinate with sauce and cornflour. Set aside while preparing Ingredients B.

B - 340g cucumber
      1 fresh red chilli
      1 tbsp vinegar
      1 tsp brown sugar
      1/2 tsp salt
  • Skin cucumber on alternate sides and remove seeds. Quarter lengthwise and make a light incision on each piece.
  • Remove seeds from chilli and slice thinly.
  • Mix vinegar, sugar, salt, chilli and cucumber together and leave to marinate for about 20 minutes while preparing Ingredients C.

C - 30g carrot
      40g onion (small onion)
      4 pips garlic
      1 tbsp peanut oil
      1/4 cup hot water
      1/2 tsp cornflour
  • Skin and thinly slice carrot.
  • Slice onion into 8 wedges, remove root ends and separate into pieces.
  • Mince garlic.
  • Remove cucumber and chilli from vinegar marinade into another plate. Stir cornflour into vinegar marinade.

How to cook
  1. Saute minced garlic in heated oil until aromatic and lightly browned.
  2. Add sliced onion, carrot, meat and quickly stir fry over high heat until meat is 3/4 cooked.
  3. Add cucumber and chilli and fry for a minute.
  4. Pour in hot water, vinegar and cornflour mixture and cook for another minute or until sauce thickens.
  5. Dish out and serve with rice.
** Beef or chicken fillets can be used but taste will differ slightly.



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