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Stir Fried Chilly Eggplant (辣椒茄子)

I don’t know about you, but I love to eat eggplant only if it is cooked with chilly. When we were young, my mom often cooked eggplant. Only once in a while we had it with chilly, because dad doesn’t eat chilly at all. When she did cook, the eggplant plate would always be emptied in an instant. It was very tasty and delicious. I guess, any food cooked with chilly will always turn out delicious. The way she cooked it was to first fry the eggplant till it was soft then stir fried them with chilly. Nowadays as we are more health conscious, we try to avoid fatty things and usually cook with less oil. Softening the eggplant by steaming it is another way we adopt right away. Here is my eggplant dish!

What you need: bay leaves. One or two long eggplants, 2 tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 shallots and 2 slices of blue ginger/galangal. Cut them all in slices. Chilly paste as much as you like. I used my own home made chilly paste. Or you can just forgo the chilly all together.

This is how you prepare the dish: in the pre-heat wok, fry the garlic, onion and galangal and bay leaves till fragrance or slightly brown. Add the chilly paste and tomatoes. Stir fry them till the tomato becomes juice like. Add sugar and salt to your taste. Keep stir fry it for ten to fifteen minutes and it slightly dries up. Then add the pre-steamed eggplants in. Mix them well and stir fry for another few minutes more till it all blend well. Alternatively, if you do not like eggplant, you may use prawns or fish. Similarly, stir fried them with chilly and tomatoes the same way. But remember to fry prawns/fish first. I hope you like my chilly eggplant dish. Enjoy!

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Dinner For One (各人套餐)

This is how I indulge myself after day long chores: prepare quick fix dinner with a piece of that NYDC cheese cake and a cup of Chinese tea. Sorry to disappoint you that I rarely drink wine anymore. I do not like how it feels when the wine gets me dizzy with only a few sips of it. I just want to enjoy my meal, having that cake and tea with moments of quietness or music at home. Moment like this is all I prefer and couldn’t ask for more.

I would never get tired of cooking and eating my own chicken rice. It is very convenient and quick fix lunch/dinner that I usually prepare for my family when I have night class. I believe I had posted this before with the step by step instruction (Please refer it to Saturday post: chicken rice). When cooking the chicken topping, prepare it more than what you need. The leftover chicken can be used for your next meal topping as well. You can have chicken noodle tomorrow. Enjoy and Happy Saturday!

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Asparagus, Chicken and Egg Drops soup (蘆筍雞絲蛋花湯)

Have you ever tried asparagus and egg soup? Here is another delicious and easy recipe to cook soup! Since I could not find fresh asparagus in the market, I just used can asparagus spears instead.
1. Boil the chicken broth and the asparagus till it is soft (if use fresh).
2. Add slices of chicken (if you want, you may season the meat with a tea-spoon of soy sauce and tea-spoon of corn starch before adding to the soup. This will make the meat tender.) and one or two table-spoon of corn starch water (depend on how thick you want your soup) and season it to your taste.
3. Let it boil and keep stirring the soup as you pour the beaten egg/s into the soup. Choice of crab meat may be added instead of chicken but don’t forget to add a few drops of sesame oil. Serve the soup while hot. Happy Saturday!

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Narrow-Barred Mackerel In Oyster Sauce (炒鯖魚蠔油)

Don’t just fry or grill your fish for dinner. Try it some other way. We had mackerel in oyster sauce the other week and would like to share some easy and quick recipe. There are only a few ingredients to prepare. All you need are: few slices of narrow barred mackerel, ginger cut thin match stick long, chopped garlic, green onion cut finger long, one or two table-spoon corn starch (depending how thick the sauce you want) and two or three table-spoon oyster sauce to your taste.

Fry the mackerel till slightly brown and set aside. In the hot oily pan, stir fry the ginger and garlic till fragrance/brown and add the corn starch water and oyster sauce in the low heat. Keep stirring until the sauce becomes thick, add in the fish. Simmer it for about five minutes to let the fish has some flavour. You may add a tea-spoon of cooking wine but it is optional. At last add the green onion before you turn off the heat. The mackerel is cooked and ready to be served. Enjoy and Bon appetit!

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Steam Sweet Potato Cake (蒸番薯糕)

Honestly, I have never ever made any cakes before. Cake making to me is a lot of work; the ingredients have to be measured; the eggs have to be beaten, pans have to be coated and many other endless things to do. The easiest way is to buy it from stores. There is no cleaning and messiness and the cakes always taste good. Until one day, I realized that my favourite childhood steam sweet potato cake that was once in the stores disappeared. They do not sell it anymore. This sweet potato cake layer with coconut milk has been my most favorite cake among many other. So I searched for recipe in the internet and tried to make it. This is the result of it. It looked good and I must say it’s not very bad for a first timer either.

The steam cakes are made of 2 layers: the orange layer is sweet potatoes and the white layer is coconut milk.

Sweet potato layer we need:

300 grams sweet potatoes

60 grams of corn starch

50 grams of rice flour

120 grams sugar

250 ml coconut milk

½ tea-spoon salt

Coconut milk layer:

150 ml coconut milk

5 table-spoon warm water

3 table-spoon rice flour

1 table-spoon corn starch

½ tea-spoon salt

Mix each of all the ingredients above.

  • Use small tea cups and coat them with cooking oil.
  • Steam or boil the sweet potatoes. When it’s done, peeled and mashed them. Add the entire ingredient to the potato. Use the fine mesh strainer, filter it. This is in order to get that smooth cake.
  • Pour into the small tea cups filling only ¾ of it. Do not fill it to the brim; you won’t be able to add the white layer.
  • Steam them till cooked for about 10 minutes.
  • Then pour the white on top of it and steam again for another 15 minutes. When it’s done, take the cake out of the cups and serve.

The pancakes you see was from leftover. It tasted equally delicious.

Happy Saturday!

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*recipe source: Femina Magazine Indonesia

King Trumpet Mushrooms soup (蔬菜,蘑菇, 肉丸湯)

Whether you are accustomed to have soup with any of your meals or not, here is another easy and quick fix soup. This is a simple and easy to cook soup. Just boil everything and you have yourself warm nice soup for dinner tonight in less than half an hour. You need: king trumpet mushrooms/any mushroom will do – cut big slices (true to what I thought, this big meaty stem mushroom was very tasty for the soup, was the reason why I chose it), meat balls/chicken/any meat will do – cut slices, any green vegetables, 2 to 3 cups of broth. Add a bit of water to the stock and boil it In a pot. Once it boils, add the mushroom, meat and vegies. Do not forget to add seasoning to your taste. Serve it while it is hot. Enjoy and Happy Saturday!

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Duanwu Festival (端午節)

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Once a year Duanwu Festival will be here next Wednesday. The festival is also known as dumpling festival or Dragon Boat festival in some countries.  Duanwu is a traditional Chinese Festival which falls on the fifth day of  the fifth lunar month.  Many call it double fifth festival.  People celebrate Duanwu  by having dragon boat race, eating dumplings/zongzi/bakcang and drinking realgar wine.

As usual my mom would make rice dumplings for this day.  The preparation for dumpling making is quite a lot.  It took her two to three days just for it; from going to the market to buy the ingredients to the actual making of it. The bamboo leaves have to be trimmed, boiled to soften and wiped clean piece by piece.  The filling has to be cooked separately.  There are many different kind of fillings for rice dumplings and depends on your own preferences what you like to have.  It usually consists of meat, mushroom, egg, chestnut etc.  Since we are used to what mom has been making all these years so we have what she made.

The usual rice dumpling is made of glutinous rice, but we prefer our zongzi made from rice.  That is why you see half-cooked rice in the picture.  Once zongzi has been wrapped and tied, it is ready to be steamed or boiled for about half an hour or depending on how the rice is made prior to being added too, along with the fillings.  Side dishes may be added along with zongzi as well.  I like to have my zongzi with nice Chinese tea and some kimchi or pickles.  Enjoy.

Happy Duanwu!  端午節快樂!

Indonesian Salad/Gado Gado (印尼沙拉)

Gado gado is a mixed vegetable salad in peanut sauce . Many do not consider this as salad but as meal dish. Nowadays there are so many ready-made gado gado paste/block in the market. That is why people rarely grind their peanut with mortar anymore. Mix the paste with warm water and we have peanut sauce ready for it.

We need: water spinach, bean sprout, tofu, eggs, cucumber, potato, string beans, and peanut sauce. Blanching the vegetable in hot boiling water for a minute and two for string beans. No need to blanch the cucumber as we will eat it raw.

Peanut sauce: those who do not have ready-made peanut paste may use either peanut butter or roasted nuts. Add a table-spoon palm sugar (sugar) for a bit sweet taste in it and 2 tea-spoon of tamarind water (vinegar). It is easier to use a food processor to blend the roasted peanut than pounding using the mortar. Mix it with a bit of water to make that thick sauce. It should taste a bit sweet, salty and a hint of sour taste. For me personally, I like to have a taste of garlic too in it that was why I added garlic in my sauce.

Arrange all the vegies on the plate and pour the peanut sauce generously on top of it. Chilly paste may be added in the sauce for those who like it hot. Garnish it with fried shallots and crackers. Just mix everything before you eat. Bon appetit!

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Rice Cone (Nasi Tumpeng/大米錐)

Today’s article was contributed by my younger sister who recently got a job offer and moved to Jakarta, Indonesia. Amid her busy schedule, she found time to write and share some tidbits of her life there. I hope you like it.

Last Tuesday, April 16, 2013 was marked one month of our moving to new office. As usual with the new office, the team has planned for small celebration so they ordered a “nasi tumpeng” and a tray of cakes mixtures.

Nasi Tumpeng is a cone shape rice with assorted dishes which is served in traditional Indonesian-Javaness style for important celebration. The cone shaped representing mountain that was symbol of holy mountain refer back to ancient Indonesian tradition that revered mountains as the abode of ancestors and gods. The yellow rice was cooked with tumeric which represents heapful of gold, wealth, abundance and high moral.

The composition of the assorted dishes surrounding the rise can be meat, vegetables and some seafood. I am not sure if the one we had, was a traditional Javanese tumpeng which was supposed to be more complex where all the elements must balance one another according to the Javanese belief, the concept of the peace of mind, connection with the universe, and with an Almighty God. The feast was served in a rounded woven bamboo container that was covered with finely cut banana leaf, and decorated with simple cut of cucumbers. It consists of fried chicken, “sambal goreng udang” or prawn cooked in chili souce, vegetable dish, beef curry, “telur pindang” or boiled marble egg with chilli, “tempe pedas” or sweet and spicy fermented soy product, “perkedel kentang” or fried potato bun.

Our new office celebration followed a more traditional Indonesian style of celebration, that is a combination of gratitude, and request for blessing celebration. This type of celebration is started with short prayer to God/s then the cut of the tip of “tumpeng” to be given to the most important person.

The rice was a bit dried due to exposure of the air, so people started to dig the middle portion to eat, the dishes were spicy but delicious. It has been awhile since I had my “nasi tumpeng”, and was very delighted to again participate in this type of celebration. As technology advance in this modern society, there is still time and place to observe and enjoy traditions to remind us who we are.

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Happy Saturday!

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