Thursday 25 February 2016

Crunchy Prawn Wonton Soup 虾云吞汤

Wonton is a smaller version of sui kow or dumplings, often with a thinner and and smaller skin. Just like its cousin, you can put almost any proteins to be wrapped in that silken skin. Prawn is a very popular ingredient for wonton. Unfortunately, we seldom find places selling good prawn wonton soup in Malaysia. I suspect fresh prawn is pretty costly, hence, making the business of selling prawn wonton soup unattractive.

Monday 22 February 2016

Recipe for Chinese Bbq Pork/Char Siu 叉燒

Ok, I have done it.

It seems like every Chinese blogger that I could put my finger to has a recipe for Chinese bbq pork or more fondly known as char siu. Together with siu yuk (crispy pork belly), these two are perhaps the two most blogged about dishes among the Chinese community. And it doesn't surprise me one bit as these two dishes are vastly popular, not only among the Chinese, but also in Western countries. This char siu, it is almost like an icon for Chinese cuisines. You could find its charred bit of succulent, juicy, tender, sweetish savoury portion hanging in the windows of practically every Chinese restaurants around the world.

Monday 15 February 2016

Chicken pot pie 杯式鸡肉派

Chicken pot pie has become my favourite ever since I had that fateful first bite some 20 odd years ago. At that time, I couldn't comprehend why was it called a pie when it was just a bowl of thicken chicken soup with a puff-up crust on top. I still couldn't.

Friday 12 February 2016

Red Velvet Molten Lava Cake 心太软

What should I make for my husband on Valentine's Day? You see, we are past that lovey-dovey stage. So expressive heart shapes with mushy wordings are totally out. I am sure there are many die-hard romantic souls out there but my family is more "Chinaman" inclined. So, I have decided on a Red Velvet Molten Lava cake. The message is subtle but is by no means less influential. The colour red represents the heart whilst the oozy centre represents one's overflowing love for each other. A perfect fit don't you think?

Wednesday 10 February 2016

How to make Crispy Pork Lard and Pork Oil 猪油渣

Now that the two important days of Lunar New Year are over, everything is beginning to get back to normal. I am also getting myself busy again after two full days of unproductive inactivity. As corny as it might sound, I am actually glad to be back to my normal hectic schedule. I know a lot of you are still in the holiday mood. Therefore, I am just going to post something simple.

Thursday 4 February 2016

Chinese New Year Dinner: Yam Basket/Fatt Putt 佛钵 (盘满钵满)

Today my family is in for a treat. Because I am doing this post for Chinese New Year dinner, my family gets to enjoy this crispy melt-in-the-mouth yam basket pre-Chinese New Year dinner. Like any other food served during Chinese New Year, it has an auspicious meaning. The yam basket/fatt putt is filled to the brim signify an overflowing of fortune (phoon woon put woon 盘满钵满 in Cantonese).

The yam basket derives its name from the Buddhist alms bowl (fatt putt). It is no wonder the yam basket bears resemblance to this said bowl. This dish is originally created as a vegetarian dish with ingredients such as carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers, bamboo shoots and cashew nuts. Nowadays you could practically fill anything that you fancy inside.

A good yam basket is crispy on the outside at the same time fluffy inside. It must showcase the beautiful fluffy strands that encased the ring. Not an easy feat since fire control is essential here. If you have a thermometer, the temperature should be around 150C. But like most home cooks, we cook by feel. Here's the pointer to see if the oil temperature is right: drop a piece of the yam into the oil. If it disintegrates, the the oil is not hot enough. If it does not spread at all, the oil is too hot. Another challenge is to fry the yam basket whole. While the Chinese restaurants uses bamboo mat to hold the yam ring when putting in, we home cooks have to be creative. I used aluminium foil with cut holes.

I normally create my own recipes but for this scrumptious yam basket, I phoned my faraway hubby. He makes the perfect yam basket. Of course, the recipe comes in large quantity and I have to painstakingly reduce it and omit the msg for home cooking. I was pretty satisfied with the results and proceeded to take photographs. Upon showing my hubby the pictures, he said that the heat was too high when frying resulting in lesser fluffy strands. So I fried another mini yam ring to show all of you it is supposed to look. Gong Xi Fa Chai!

Chinese New Year Dinner: Yam Basket/Fatt Putt 佛钵 (盘满钵满 )

Makes 2 medium yam basket


360 g yam, diced and steamed
180 g wheat starch (tang mein)
180 g chicken stock (original uses water)
90 g lard (pork oil) (click here to find out how to make your own lard)
90 g shortening
1/8 tsp five spice powder
1/4 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)

oil to fry
aluminium foil
stir-fry dish of your choice to be put inside the ring
meehoon (rice vermicelli)

Cooking Instruction

1. Steam yam for about 10 minutes until cooked. Meanwhile, boil chicken stock. Add chicken stock to wheat starch and stir with a fork until combined.

2. Mash steamed yam and add into wheat starch mixture while it is still hot. Combine well with fork. Be careful as the mixture is still hot.

3. Add in all the other ingredients and seasoning and work the mixture into a dough with your hands. The dough is ready when it doesn't stick to your hands. Make holes on the dough (apparently for it to cool faster) and put in the chiller for it to cool.

4. Remove dough and use the dough to make your desired ring on a piece of aluminium foil. Make some holes on the aluminium foil so that oil could circulate.

Not enough oil initially. I have to add until the whole ring is submerged
5. Heat oil. Test the oil with a piece of yam dough. If you see beautiful strands forming, the oil is ready. Gently put ring into the oil. The oil should totally immerse the ring. Deep-fry ring until golden and crispy. Increase heat when about to remove. Remove and drain.

6. Add meehoon into the hot oil. The meehoon should expand beautifully. Quickly remove from the hot oil and drain well.

7. Put meehoon on a plate and the fried yam basket on top. Then fill it up with your choice of stir-fry until the brim symbolising an overflowing of goods.

1. Oil control is very important when frying this yam basket. Use clean oil for nicer looking yam basket.
2. The oil must totally immerse the yam ring, hence, a lot of oil is necessary. Find your desired pot/wok that is not too wide to save on oil, but at the same time allows you to remove the yam basket easily when cooked.
3. The basket and fried meehoon absorb a lot of liquid. Do prepare more gravy for your stir-fry if it is intended to be put into the basket.   

Would you like a wonderful desert to go with this dish for your Chinese New Year dinner?

Molten Lava Black Sesame Tang yuan

Pumpkin Tang Yuan

Monday 1 February 2016

Chinese New Year Dinner: Five Spice Meat Roll/Ngoh Hiang/Lobak 五香滷肉

Often, this five spice meat roll would be called ngoh hiang (五香) or lobak (滷肉), the shortened Hokkien dialect for this dish. In the northern states of Malaysia, it is more popularly known as lobak whilst moving southwards, this immensely popular dish is known as ngoh hiang.

You could find this dish sold in many hawker stalls but traditionally, this dish is a staple during Chinese New Year dinner (reunion dinner) for the Hokkiens. Nowadays, it is also a staple for the non-Hokkiens' Chinese New Year dinner.
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