Archive for February, 2008

Braised pork belly with garlic and chinese shitake mushroom in dark soy sauce with eggs

Posted in Chinese cuisine, Hokkien food on February 23, 2008 by yongtzetan

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This is my favourite Hokkien food, also called "Hong Bak" or "Loh Bak".
Unlike delicate Cantonese food and refined Teochew food, it is just
good old Hokkien peasant food to go with lots of rice. It will taste even
better after 1 or 2 days.

Hokkien people in Malaysia are originally from the Fujian province on the southeastern shore of China. There are more information about Hokkien food in Malaysia, Malaysian Chinese and Malaysia Chinese food on the web.

Serves 6-8 with rice

  • 1 kg pork (shoulder or belly), cut in 4cm x 4cm cubes
  • 6-8 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 whole big garlic (about 12-14 cloves), cloves separated with skin on
  • 4 dried Chinese shitake mushrooms
  • dark soy sauce
  • soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon of five-spice powder
  • salt
  • peanut oil

1. Soak the shitake mushrooms in boiling-hot water for about 30 minutes or until they become soft. Cut the mushrooms into quarters and set aside.

2. In a big frying-pan/wok, heat up about 3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat, add the garlic cloves cook for about 20 seconds. Turn up the heat to high, add the pork and half teaspoon of salt, quickly stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.

3. Add about 4-5 tablespoons of dark soy sauce and 3-4 tablespoons of soy sauce and keep stir-frying for another 1-2 minutes. Check seasoning. You should be able to taste the dark soy sauce and it should be slightly saltier than normal. You can adjust the amount of dark soy sauce and soy sauce according to your liking.

4. Add the shitake mushrooms and the hard-boiled eggs. Pour in enough water to cover everything. Add the five-spice powder as well. Check seasoning: it is okay if it doesn’t taste salty enough but it shouldn’t be bland. Bring it to boil and turn the heat down to low. Gently simmer for at least 1 hour to 1.5 hours. The liquid should reduce to about two-thirds or half of the original amount. Serves with rice.

If you can’t finish it, keep it in the fridge and re-heat the next day or even a few days it should taste even better. Keep the leftover sauce in the freezer, you can use it when you cook this "loh bah" next time it will improve the taste.

Fried mackerel with ginger, garlic, leek, and black bean sauce

Posted in Chinese cuisine on February 19, 2008 by yongtzetan

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This is a common way to cook fish in Malaysia. Everybody does it slightly differently and I like my mum’s the most. But it’s roughly like this: First you fry the fish (a cutlet, or whole fish if it is small). And you make a sauce that has ginger, garlic, yellow bean, fresh chilli, and a touch of soy sauce and a little bit of sugar and this sauce is then poured over the fish. It’s nothing special but that’s what I used to eat when I was a kid and to this day I can still remember the flavour.

I’ve always missed the flavour of this home-cooked dish and decided that I would try cooking today. I didn’t have yellow bean at home so I replaced it with black bean and I added some sliced leek. Black bean is much saltier and strong than the yellow bean so if you using black bean you probably only need half of the amount of the yellow bean.

Serves 1:

  • 2 small Mackerel, head cut off (you can also use big cutlets of fish)
  • oil for pan-frying or deep-frying
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil for the sauce
  • 20g ginger, sliced or chopped
  • 20g garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow bean paste
  • 1 fresh red chilli, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon corn flour, dissolved in
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon sliced leek, white part only

1. Pan-fry or deep fry the fish over a medium heat to a light golden brown. Drain on paper towels then place on a serving plate. Set aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in a wok to fry the ginger, garlic, chilli, and, if using, leek for about 20-30 seconds. Add the bean paste and cook until fragrant.

3. Add the light soy sauce, sugar and water. Bring the sauce to boil before adding the corn flour mixture for thickening. Pour the sauce over the fried fish. Optional: garnish with more sliced chilli (We love chilli).

Chicken sautéed with leek, garlic, dried chillies, and tomatoes

Posted in Chicken dishes on February 18, 2008 by yongtzetan

This is such a simple dish but you’ve got to try it to believe how good it actually tastes. This is the first time I tried sautéing leek and I’m glad that I did because its intense flavour gave the sautéed chicken a new level of excitement. As usual as in the case of simple dish with very few ingredients, you should use the very fresh and best ingredients you can find, i.e. free range meat and organic vegetables.

Serve 1:

  • 2 chicken thighs, make 1 or 2 incisions near the bone so the meat near the bone will cook quicker
  • 1 young leek, only the white part, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 dried chilli, sliced
  • half tomato
  • 4 tablespoons white wine
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter for sautéing
  • salt and black pepper

1. Heat up a sauté pan over high heat until it’s very hot. Melt the butter and wait until the bubbles subside. Place the thighs, skin side down onto the pan. Do not stir or move the chicken, let the skin brown nicely, about 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper.

2. Turn the chicken to brown another side for 2-3 minutes. Always control the heat so that the oil is very hot but not burning.

3. Once both sides of the chicken are nicely brown, turn down the heat to medium low. Turn the chicken again. Add the leek, garlic, dried chillies, spread them evenly around the chicken and cook for 30 seconds. After that, add the white wine and turn up the heat to high to evaporate the wine quickly.

4. Add the half tomato. Turn down the heat to medium low again. Turn the chicken. Add 3 tablespoons of water. Cover the pan and cook for 4 minutes. Check seasoning and turn the chicken again and cook for another 4 minutes with the pan covered. Check the doneness of the chicken, if ready, serve immediately, with rice. If not, cook for another 2 minutes before you check again. Bon appetit!

Food from 3-day Bangkok trip

Posted in Food and Drink, Travel on February 14, 2008 by yongtzetan

Wandering around in
the food market in Bangkok is an experience that you won’t forget.
Hoping to eat the most authentic Thai food that Thai people eat daily,
I mostly ate at street food stalls.

They are absolutely
tasty, and cheap. Most street stalls don’t have refrigeration, so they
have to re-stock everyday – meaning you are eating possibly the
freshest vegetables and meat.

One of my favourite is their crispy skin pork – similar to the Chinese – but the skin is much more crispier and with less five-spice taste. I also enjoyed those charcoal-toasted bread and satay-alike meat skewers. The use of charcoal for grilling is still very common there – that gives the food the taste and smell that you can’t get from electric or gas grill.

Another observation: noodle dishes like pad thai or other stir-fry noodles are generally not strongly seasoned. Instead, you can add and adjust the final taste yourself by adding sugar, dry chilli flakes, fish sauce and some sour sauce with some pickled chillies in it.