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

  • 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.


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

  • 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.


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

  • 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.


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