Saturday 31 January 2015

Beans Revisited - Chinese Mixed Beans Dessert 三豆塘水

Today is definitely not my day. I wanted to do my usual Almond Crisps for the blog. Unfortunately, the crisps got stuck to the supposedly non-stick baking paper. I have to discard the whole batch of it, plus the newly opened roll of baking paper. I am not even going to wonder what went wrong. I have no time for that.

I then drove to the nearby supermart to buy another baking roll. I rushed into the place, took my baking paper and paid the cashier. The cashier over-charged for the roll of baking paper and I have to wait for her to confirm the price before it was being deducted. Then I went back to the car only to have the car clamped! And got scolded for parking there in the process. Well, I am not going to complain as it is my fault for reckless parking. Paid my dues, which is RM50, to get it unlocked and moved on. It is just not my day! But perhaps a nice bowl of tong sui would help.

I have decided to upload an entirely different recipe instead. This mixed beans dessert is also in my former restaurant's menu. It comprises three types of beans namely red beans, green beans and black eye beans. It gives a balance of texture and variety to your normal dessert or tong sui. This dessert is loaded with fiber and nutrients.

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Chinese New Year Snack - Cod Fish Seaweed Bundle 香烤紫菜鳕鱼丝

In the background is a fortune cat/prosperity cat 招财猫, used as a a feng sui ornament to bring fortune and luck to the owner

I am so glad I am moving on to baking. No more standing in front of the stove. Let's just say "free sauna" is not my idea of enjoyment. I am introducing you something very easy today. Yet it tasted marvelous. It is crunchy when bitten onto and it is flavourful. This snack is a relatively new creation that started a few years back. I made some for selling last year and boy, what a hit it was!

This bake is really a no-brainer. Fold, roll, and bake. As easy as 1..2..3. The good thing about this snack is that you do not need any oil at all! Hooray! There are many ways of doing this. Some stick the seaweed and fish snack together, some bundle it at the end, and some bundle it in the middle like I did. I find it more pleasing to the eyes and easier to store. I enjoy making this snack as I could bundle it while watching tv. Then I just chuck it into the oven and mission accomplished!

Cod Fish Seaweed Bundle


1 packet Cod fish strip
1 packet of nori seaweed
cooked starch/egg for gluing

Cooking Instructions

1. Cut nori sheet into 2 x 5 cm strip.

2. Take five pieces of cod fish strip. Fold the top and bottom part towards the middle. Make sure the ends are secured in the middle.

3. Take a piece of cut nori and wrap the middle, securing the ends. Wrap it as loose as possible to allow hot air into the middle when baking. This would give you a nice even crunch. Apply a little glue/egg at the tip to seal the seaweed. Repeat until finish.

4. Preheat oven at 160C and bake for 10-13 mins once oven is preheated.

5. Cool before storing in air tight jar.

Friday 23 January 2015

Beans Revisited - Green Beans with Sweet Potatoes 绿豆番薯

All the frying during Chinese New Year can make one very "heaty" (a term often used by the Chinese to describe the excessive presence of "yang" element)! Normally, when I make Chinese New Year snacks, I would get a lot of ulcers due to the heat. Luckily, this time I am just in time to make myself some green beans "tong sui" (dessert). Green beans, according to the Chinese, are supposedly a very cooling medium (yin). In one's body, when there is excessive yang we have to balance it with yin in order to have perfect harmony and not get sick.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Chinese New Year Snack - Arrowhead Chips/Ngaku Chips炸芽菇饼

Whenever you see these little round things sold in the supermarket, you know Chinese New Year is around the corner. Yes, I am talking about arrowheads or more fondly known amongst the Chinese as ngaku 芽菇. I always wonder why is it only available around this time of the year. Does it take a year to grow? These chips are so delicious somebody should commercialise and mass produce it like Pringles or Lay's. I bet these chips would give the famous, or rather infamous, potato chips a run for their money.

Saturday 17 January 2015

Chinese New Year Snacks - Crispy Seaweed Popiah Skin with Toasted Sesame

This is another easy-peasy Chinese New Year snack that you could whip up in no time. All you need is three, well maybe four, ingredients. Come Chinese New Year, there are always so many things to do. If you think that you need to absolutely whip up something homemade, do give this a try.  This Chinese New Year snack is crispy, healthy (compared to others) and most important of all, not time consuming.

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Chinese New Year Snack - Crispy Fried Crabstick 酥脆炸蟹柳

It is this time of the year already. I am sure many of you feel like I do - part excited but part lamenting how fast time flies. At this time of the year, you would normally see vendors selling Chinese New Year snacks, often at an inflated price, starting to mushroom. Yet, you would see people making a beeline to buy. Yes, and that only happens during this time of the year. Most people would seem busy. Many would rush to complete their work. Oh, not to forget the fat bonuses! Unfortunately, the fat bonuses tend to get "thinner" nowadays. But let's not let that deflate us. It is "tong tong chiang" time after all (time to celebrate)!

Friday 9 January 2015

Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Greens (Mui Choy Kau Yoke) 梅菜扣肉


I have finally found my first guest contributor. He is no other than my hubby. He works as a Chinese chef and as all Chinese chefs, they are a bit secretive to reveal their traits. But he is supportive of me. Hence, this recipe. He has been doing this recipe for years and I have to say his mui choy kau yoke or pork belly with preserved mustard greens is well received amongst his customers. If you ask me, this dish is more home-cooked comfort food than restaurant food, just perfect for my humble blog. Whatever it is, I welcome his contribution.

The Hakkas like their dish basic and humble without much refinement. Therefore, it is no wonder that this dish looks totally unappealing with its dark and disarranged appearance. However, whoever who has tried this dish before would know that it is really a hidden gem. The hours of slow cooking added with the unique taste of mui choy (preserved mustard greens) combines well to give you an umami taste that makes you hunger for more! For some, it is an acquired taste but for me, it is love at first bite. Totally love the taste of the pork belly with preserved mustard greens!

This classic dish has so many steps, it is absolute madness. My advice would be to make a big batch and keep it frozen. Then you can savour the taste without having to go through all these steps over and over.

Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Greens (Mui Choy Kau Yoke)

Makes 18 slices of pork belly (approximately 4-5 people)


600 g pork belly
600 g salted mui choy (preserved mustard greens)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 1/2 tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp dark soya sauce
2 tbsp tapioca starch
6-7 slices old ginger
8 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbsp oil
oil for frying

Cooking Instruction

1. Wash and soak mui choy from all the dirt and salt. Soak in water overnight changing the water every few hours. Drain mui choy, squeeze dry and cut into 1 inch at the stem and about 2 inches for the leafs.

2. Blanch pork to remove odour and impurities. Prick the skin with a meat tenderiser (see pix). Dry meat with a kitchen towel. Rub some dark soya sauce on the skin to give the pork belly some colour.

3. Heat some oil in a wok/pan. Sear pork, skin side down. Be careful with the oil splatter when putting the pork in. I made a mistake of not drying the meat enough resulting in hot oil splattering on my hand. Once skin becomes cooked, remove from oil and soak it in water to rid excess oil. Drain pork and cut into slices of 1/2 inch thick. Set aside.

4. Fry mui choy in a wok with no oil until dry. Remove. Using the same wok, heat up 3 tbsp oil. Add ginger slices and garlic. Fry until fragrant. Add fried mui choy into wok again and continue to fry. Add pork and seasoning into wok. Then add water just enough to cover pork. Simmer for about 10-15 mins. Turn off heat. Add tapioca starch that has been mixed with one tsp water to thicken the sauce.

5. Arrange pork belly into a bowl, skin side down. Pack mui choy over the pork slices. Cover with aluminiun foil.

6. Steam bowl of pork for 3 to 4 hours in very slow fire. The longer it is steamed, the more flavourful and tender the meat is.

7. Remove aluminium foil. Put a plate on top of bowl and make a quick turn. There you have it. The "downside-up" pork belly (扣肉) !

If you have a stove pressure cooker, put bowl into pressure cooker with about 2 inches of water and cook in high pressure for 30-40 mins.

Update 6/4/2019: Instant Pot/electric pressure cooker is a popular tool now. Here's the adapted recipe. 

1. Follow step 1 to 3. 
2. Then add some oil in pressure cooker, and saute the garlic and ginger in bake mode until fragrant. Add in preserved mustard and continue to fry until the vege dries up. Remove.
3. Add all the pork belly into the pressure cooker. Add seasoning, starch and water just enough to cover the vegetables (not too much). Close lid and cook at KPT  (keep pressure time) 25 mins. Leave it for another 10 mins after timer beeps before manual release. Serve.

Monday 5 January 2015

Smooth Hainanese Kaya (Caramel Coconut Jam) 焦糖椰香咖椰

This is another variation to the famous coconut jam. It has a smooth creamy texture that is rich with coconut flavour and a hint of caramel. Unlike the pandan version, caramel coconut jam is brown in colour due to the caramelised sugar added. Its sweetened taste goes well with any bread or buns. Some other more innovative combinations include puffs, glutinous rice and even chinese cruellers.

Friday 2 January 2015

Buah Melaka (Onde onde gula melaka)

Let me just give you a brief introduction to this unique Malay dessert we call buah melaka. This bite-sized green glutinous rice ball is coated in grated coconut (yes, fresh grated coconut and not dessicated coconut please) with oozing gula melaka (palm sugar) syrup in the middle. Hence, the name buah melaka. It is normally served on its own as a snack, or as a dessert. What I absolutely love about buah melaka is the chewiness of the ball and the sudden burst of palm sugar syrup when you bite into it. Mixed with the slightly salted coat of grated coconut, you get all the flavours and textures in just one bite. Are you convinced yet? Read on...

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