Thursday 26 February 2015

Creamy Butter Pork Chop 奶油豬扒

It is already the eighth day after Chinese New Year. Everything is moving back to its norm. Those nine to five-ers have started to work again. Vendors who normally take a long break during this time have fully reopened their shops. Most importantly, whatever groceries that I needed is now available again (except for that ripe bananas that I so wanted to make a banana cake).

Greetings to a new year! Today, I am going to introduce this Creamy Butter Pork Chop. Well, pork chop is just to finish off the leftover pork chop from our second day's barbecue. It is the sauce that is the star here. In fact, you can pair this sauce with chicken, prawns or any other meat. This sauce is quite often used in Chinese restaurants. I always marvel at how the Chinese embrace western ingredients (in this case thick creamy milk and butter) and make it their dish.

This dish is totally delish but also totally fattening! Well, somebody told me during Chinese New Year, calories don't count. You are on holiday! So perhaps...just perhaps... you might want to give this a last go before you slog it out.

Monday 23 February 2015

Candied Agar-Agar (Agar-agar Kering)

It is the time of the year again. The sun is blazing and it is scorching hot outside. But I'm not complaining. My laundry is able to dry in no time on such days. Hallelujah! Laundries aside, I wanted to make full use of this God-sent resource. I decided to make candied agar-agar or more fondly known as agar-agar kering.

Saturday 21 February 2015

Beans Revisited - Bubur Cha Cha with Large Sago 摩摩喳喳跟大西米

Some Chinese make this on the 15th of the Lunar New Year. This recipe is from my previous shop's menu. Hope you like it.

Bubur cha cha is a famous nyonya dessert in Malaysia. It is so famous that you can actually find it in places like Hong Kong (lewdly pronounced as mo mo ja ja which also means touching and holding), China and some Chinese restaurants in Australia and the States. The authentic bubur cha cha consists of an array of sweet potatoes with yam and black eye beans sweetened by fragrant fresh coconut milk sweet soup. If you are not wooed by its rich unique taste, you would definitely be captivated by its burst of colours such as orange, yellow, purple and sometimes red (from the coloured tapioca jelly bits) from the result of the use of various types of sweet potatoes and yam.

Bubur cha cha used to be one of the best sellers amongst the 15 odd type of desserts or sweet soup in my shop. It shows the popularity of this unique dessert. I suspect it is also due to the difficulty in preparing this dessert. An authentic bubur cha cha would have different types of colours and also the tapioca jelly bits that adds a chewy texture to the dessert. I admit my bubur cha cha lacks colour as I only use orange sweet potatoes (the Indonesian type as it tastes better than the yellow ones). I do not really fancy purple sweet potatoes either as it will taint the sweet soup with its natural purple pigment if left too long, making the water purplish.

Thursday 19 February 2015

Happy Chinese New Year

Image result for free chinese new year card

The Informal Chef would like to wish everybody Happy Chinese New Year!

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Chinese New Year Reunion - Braised Mushrooms with Mixed Vegetables and Beans Gluten 东菇豆荕

These few days has been hectic! I apologize for the lack of attention to this blog. Initially, I planned to slot in a few recipes for Chinese New Year reunion dinner. However, it seems that the time is not on my side. Luckily, I am able to slot in at least one recipe before this reunion dinner. I promise I will do better next year.

Reunion dinner is normally associated with gluttony, well at least in my vocabulary. This year alone my mom has plans for braised duck, big prawns, spare ribs and fried dumplings. But no mention of vegetables. The emphasis is on meat. I couldn't fault her as in the olden days, you can only get these kind of feast during Chinese New Year reunion dinner. Nowadays, people are more well to do and these kind of food is, how shall I put it,  almost mundane. Therefore,  I am concentrating on my veggies instead.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Melt In Mouth Pineapple Tart - Valentine Edition

Oh my, I have been so busy cooking for Chinese New Year I have no time to concentrate on this special day we call St. Valentine's Day. I have been scratching my head on what is an appropriate gift to celebrate this day on such a short notice. Fortunately, something just struck me (and it is not the cupid's arrow. I am too old for that). I have the perfect Valentine gift - a special edition Valentine's Day pineapple tart. I am packaging my pineapple tart into lovely heart shaped cookies to represent Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year. How's that for killing two birds with one stone?

There is really no secret recipe here. All you have to do is use the same recipe for the pineapple tart. It is the moulding and packaging that changed. This post will give you a step-by-step guide to making your very own heart shaped pineapple tart. Hope you enjoy the process. Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day Melt In Mouth Pineapple Tart

Makes 42 pineapple tarts (depending on the size of the mould)


1 portion pastry (click here for recipe)
350 g pineapple jam (click here for recipe)
1 heart shaped mould
egg yolk for egg wash


1. Get a reasonable sized heart-shaped mould that has a wall of about 1 cm. Fill the mould with dough. Weigh the dough to find out the quantity needed. Mine is about 20 grams, just the perfect size that I need. I allocated 9 grams of filling and 12 grams of pastry for each pineapple tart.

2. Roll the 12 grams of pastry into a ball. Flatten and put pineapple jam in the centre. Wrap dough around the pineapple jam. Make sure all the fillings are nicely wrapped up. Roll into a ball.

3. Gently fill the mould with dough. Press the dough a little to make sure all the sides are filled. Carefully remove the dough from mould.

4. Put moulded dough onto baking tray. Repeat until finish. Brush with eggwash.

5. Preheat oven at 170C. Bake for 20 mins turning the tray once or twice to get even browning.

6. Remove and cool completely before putting into boxes.

There are many ways you could decorate your heart-shaped pineapple tarts such as sparkles, imprints or even chocolate. I personally prefer my pineapple tarts original, hence, the plain eggwash.

Monday 9 February 2015

Chinese New Year Cookies - Delicious Melt In Mouth Pineapple Tart 凤梨酥

What is Chinese New Year without pineapple tarts. It is a must have. Maybe it is because of the meaning behind these tarts. Pineapple in hokkien is "ong lai". The same slang also depicts wealth arriving. Yes, we Chinese are a funny lot. We like to use simple things or actions to signify prosperity. Another example would be "fatt gou" which basically means a leavened cake. At the same time, it also means high in prosperity or something of that sort. But please don't laugh. We Chinese take this seriously. It is a lucrative industry just by selling meaning.

Sunday 8 February 2015

Pineapple Jam/Pineapple Tart Filling 凤梨果酱

The day that has finally arrived for me to make pineapple tart. I have been making it for the past two years. Last year, I sold quite a number of jars. The orders kept coming in and I had to keep redoing my jam. I was truly spent. I vowed this year I am not making any. It was meant to be fun baking in the spirit of Chinese New Year.

I just broke my vow today. Somehow, Chinese New Year without pineapple tart is lacking something. It is like the numero uno thing to have during Chinese New Year. What is Chinese New Year without "ong lai"? Well, I know I asked for trouble but homemade ones are way better than those pineapple "flavoured" tarts outside. Homemade jam is flavourful and less sweet (I prefer less sugar) without the artificial pineapple flavouring that is evident in some jams. Your whole house would smell of the fragrance of pineapple when you are cooking the jam. Call it natural perfume. It just smells so good!

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Chinese New Year Cookies - Almond Crisps/Almond Brittle 杏仁片脆饼

I always wonder why this is only sold during Chinese New Year. Surely the ingredients used here are available all year long. There is another type of almond crisp that uses florentine powder. Somehow I still prefer this simple recipe. It is more aromatic due to the egg whites used. Besides, florentine powder is not sellling cheap here. At RM22.50 per half kg pack, it sure makes simple egg white more than appealing!

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