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my learning journey



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!

chkn rice1

chkn rice2

chkn rice3

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!




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!






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!





Duanwu Festival (端午節)












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!








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.



Happy Saturday!

Congee (粥)

It has been ages since the last time we had congee at home. Adding to that, The weather has been hot and humid for months, which under any circumstances, I believe no one would want to eat hot congee in this kind of weather. As I recall, the last time we ate congee at home was in the full blast of an air condition room. I have been hoping for a rain and let the temperature cool down a bit so that we could have congee. And here came my luck. Last Sunday it rained so hard that I decided we had congee for breakfast.

According to Wikipedia, Congee or con jee is a type of rice porridge or gruel popular in many Asian countries. When eaten as plain rice congee, it is most often served with side dishes. When additional ingredients, such as meat, fish, and flavorings, are added whilst preparing the congee, it is most often served as a meal on its own, especially when one is ill. Names for congee are as varied as the style of its reparation. Despite its many variations, it is always a thick porridge or soup of rice which has usually disintegrated after prolonged cooking in water.

It was such a nice and cool weather that morning for a congee time. And so I made a quick and simple chicken congee with fritters (bought from market) as topping. I didn’t want to spent too much time in the kitchen preparing congee with any side dishes at all. Instead I wanted to eat and enjoy my cool early sunday morning while listening to the rain drops outside, with a cup of Chinese tea and morning papers. Life couldn’t be better at that moment.

All that is needed for chicken congee are rice and chicken. Wash any amount of rice you need and cook in the pot with water or chicken broth as you prefer. A cup of rice is enough for 2 to 3 people and 2 liter water. What I did with the chicken was cut it either slices or strips. Seasoned it with soy sauce and corn starch. Wait until the congee is cooked, add the chicken. Stir and mix the chicken in the congee and all is done. Sprinkle it with chopped spring onion and fritters when served. There may be add on side dishes as you prefer to go with your congee too. I like my congee plain and add soy sauce and white pepper as I eat. Happy Saturday!

*Congee can be cooked using rice cooker, slow cooker or over the stove method. For those who want to know how to cook congee over the stove method, please google it.

好久沒有煮粥了. 上星期日便煮了簡單的雞絲粥. 我相信您們都會煮的. 我就不多說了.




Pancakes (這是像埃及或印度煎餅嗎?)

I don’t know why people in Indonesia call this an Egyptian or Indian pancake at all. My guess is because it is similar flatbread filled with ground meat found in those countries that got this popular name. This pancake is a common street food which can be found on streets of Jakarta. When I was studying in US, a friend taught me the fastest and easiest way to make this pancake. It suited well for many students there who did not know how to cook, did not have time and money and wanted to eat familiar food from home. And I have been making the pancake this way ever since. We do not have to make that dough, flip or roll it for that matter. Just get the burritos skins/wraps as the bread as easy as that.

We need ground meat, spring onions (lots of it and chopped), eggs (beaten), and wraps. The ground meat should be seasoned and cooked first. What I did was, stir fried the ground meat with garlic and seasoned it to taste with soy sauce, sugar and dark soy sauce.

Once the meat is cooked, we proceed to fry the pancake. Bit 2 eggs in a bowl, add chopped spring onion and meat (no need to add any seasoning because the meat is seasoned). Pre heat the frying pan with oil. Use bigger frying pan than the wrap to better flip the wraps later. Place a piece of wrap on the heated oil pan and pour the bitten eggs with everything in it on the wrap. Immediately put another piece of wrap on top of that eggs. Use the tip of your spatula to seal edges of the wraps. Once they are sealed and brown, flip it over and fry the other side of the wrap until both sides are brown. Similarly you may use egg roll skins, but they are not as full and crispy as the wrap. The last two pictures are the ones with egg roll skins. It was lumpy and tasted like meat omelette with a thin layer skin. Happy trying!












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