Saturday, July 28, 2007

Mrs Lee's Ayam Siow

another scrumptious recipe from the new Mrs Lee Cookbook!

Ayam Siow
(grilled chicken served in a thick tamarind sauce)

1 whole chicken or chicken parts (drumsticks, thighs and wings)
2 tbsp oil
½ cucumber, sliced

5 rounded tbsp tarmarind pulp
450ml water
10 shallots (i used 450g of red onions)
2 tbsp coriander powdr
120 g sugar
1 ½ tbsp dark soy sauce
1 ½ tbsp vinegar
2 ¼ tbsp salt
1 ½ tsp pepper

1. Prepare the tamarind marinade with the 450ml water. (Soak for 15 mins and then sieve. Alternatively, buy the ready to use, de-seeded type)
2. Peel and finely pound the shallots.
3. Toast the coriander powder in a toaster oven or by dry frying over a low flame.
4. In a large pot, mix all the ingredients together for the marinade into the tamarinde marinade.
5. Cut the chicken pieces and rinse. Place chicken in the marinade. Cover and refridgerate for 12 hours or overnight.

Place the entire pot of chicken on the stove. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the meat is tender (about 30 minute)
Remove and drain the chicken, returning the marinade to the pot.
Simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens
Grill the chicken til golden brown. (as you can see from the picture, the chicken was black instead of 'gold' cos i forgot about them in the grill! :P)
Serve the thicken sauce over the chicken. Garnish with sliced cucumbers

comments: this recipe was invented in the time before refrigeration and the herbs and spices were actually able to preserve the chicken quite a long time....up to a week it seems! Amazing, isn't it?? And needless to say, it is extremely flavourful!

ginko barley beancurd dessert

100g barley
100g beancurd sheets (the neatly folded variety; the scrunched-up looking ones are for savoury dishes)
125g gingko nuts (can be less...depends on personal perference)
4 pandan leaves, rinsed and tied into a knot
2.5L hot water
1 Egg

Soak beancurd sheets in cold water for about 5 minutes/ til soft.
Rinse barley and put into a slow cooker. Add hot water, pandan leaves and beancurd sheets.
Cook on high for 2 hours. (If using the stovetop, simmer for the same amount of time.)
Add ginko nuts and sugar.
Separate the egg yolk and egg white and slightly beat both. Add egg yolk first and allow the soup to become cloudy before adding the egg white. Swirl the soup in one direction so that you get 'egg flowers'/ strips of egg white.
Serve hot or chilled.

comments: The ginko nuts were abit bitter so i boiled them in a sugar syrup beforehand. I like my ginko barley thick and flavourful...the fragrance of the pandan needs to be pronounced and the soup should taste similar to soy milk...
I just realised today that when i cook, I'd usually replicate the best memory of that particular dish and try my best to make it taste like 'it should be' you do the same?? :) I believe it's called "the education of the palate" or something...hmm..

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pad Thai

Serves 4 as a main course

400g Thai rice noodles
1/2 cup tamarind paste
1/2 cup warm water

200g skinless, boneless chicken thigh fillets
200g fried tofu
12 tbsp roasted unsalted peanuts
6 tbsp fish sauce
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp lime juice
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp chopped garlic
16 large shrimps, shelled and deveined (50 oz)
4 eggs
2 cup bean sprouts
4 stems green onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp roasted chilies

Strips of red pepper
Fresh coriander leaves
Wedges of lime

1. Soak noodles in plenty of cold water for at least 1 hour.

2. Combine tamarind paste with a 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl and let soak for at least 15 minutes.

3. Slice the chicken into 1/4-inch strips. If you find it difficult to cut thinly through fresh meat, leave it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden slightly and then slice. Reserve.

4. Slice the fried tofu into 3/4-inch cubes. Reserve.

5. Blend or process peanuts into coarse meal. Reserve.

6. Return to your reserved tamarind paste in its water. Mash it and transfer the mud-like mixture to a strainer set into a bowl. Mash and push with a spoon, forcing liquid to strain into the bowl. Scrape off the juice that clings to the underside of the strainer. You will have about 10 tbsp of tamarind juice. Add to it the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Beat to thoroughly mix and reserve. Discard the solids left in the strainer.

7. Heat oil in a wok (or large frying pan) until it is just about to smoke. Add garlic and stir, letting it cook for about 30 seconds. Add chicken and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add tofu and shrimps and stir-fry for 1 more minute. Break eggs into wok and let them fry without breaking them up for 1-2 minutes.

8. While eggs cook, quickly drain the noodles and then add to wok, giving them a quick fold, stir-frying for 1 minute from the bottom up. Add reserved tamarind juice, etc. (from step #6) and continue stir-frying, mixing everything together for 1-2 minutes. Your noodles will have subsided to half their original volume and softened up to al dente.

9. Add about 2/3 of the reserved ground peanuts and stir. Add about 2/3 of the bean sprouts and all the green onion pieces. Stir-fry for 30 seconds and take off heat.

l0. Transfer noodles to a serving dish and sprinkle with roasted chilies. Top with the rest of the ground peanuts, the rest of the sprouts, some strips of red pepper and fresh coriander leaves. Stick a couple of lime wedges on the side and serve immediately.

slightly modified from:
Simply Thai Cooking
Wandee Young and Byron Ayanoglu
Robert Rose, Inc., 1996

Comments: Fantastic!! Though 1 cup of oil is quite shocking..(i used half cup...couldn't bring myself to do it...) but less oil means that you'll find the noodles sticking together...the copious amount of oil also elevates the overall temperature and seals in the flavours. Oh...n do get the tamarind pulp and fish sauce...relatively inexpensive and widely available at Asian grocers...i think these two ingredients make a whole world of difference!

Monday, July 23, 2007

nasi lemak with Mrs Lee's beef rendang

Beef Rendang
from ‘the new Mrs Lee Cookbook’

1 onion
600g beef shin
500g grated coconut water
1 rounded tbsp tamarind pulp
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Rempah (Malay term for spices pounded together)
4 slices galangal
4 slices ginger
4 cloves garlic
15 dried chillies or 2 tbsp pounded red chillies
1 stalk lemon grass
1 tbsp coriander pwd
½ tsp cumin powder

1. Soak the dried chillies in hot water
2. Slice the beef into big or small pieces, depending on your preference
3. Peel and slice the onion. Set aside.
4. Prepare the coconut milk using 570ml water.
5. Prepare the tamarind marinade using 120ml water. (Soak the tarmarind paste in the water for at least 15 minutes, and then use your fingers to rub the flesh from the seeds. Strain and scrap with a seive)
6. Prepare the rempah. Deseed then roughly chop the soaked dried chillies. Peel and roughly slice the galangal, ginger and garlic. Pound/ blend together the coriander powder and cumin, adding the peeled and bruised lemon grass (use white portion only) last.

1. Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to the boil then simmer uncovered until the sauce has reduced by half. Cover and simmer for 30 min until the meat is tender. (This step took more than 2 hours..)

While shopping for the ingredients, David asked me a memorable question: "Why do we have to buy lemongrass?? It grows everywhere in Malaysia ...and is common (and free) as sand!!!"

the recipe for the coconut nasi lemak was from Lily's blog. Came out beautifully! Instead of steaming, we used a rice cooker. Very simple!!

The anchovies and peanuts sambal was also in the same recipe....but it was more challenging though....and I MUST warn you that the smell of the anchovies is very strong! We used the microwave method....around 12 minutes in total....I thank God that the cooking wasn't done at my house.... but the bag which i brought along is still smelling of anchovies and sambal after nearly 4 days!!!! Yikes!

As for the didn't thicken as well as we would have liked but the taste was definitely authentic...
but's very labour intensive..and quite titrate accordingly....the Mrs Lee in question is SM Lee Kuan Yew's mom by the way...

Conclusion: Nonya dishes are best cooked in a well-ventilated (read: kampung) kitchen and in a tropical climate where all these herbs and spices are plentiful and growing in your own backyard! Will i cook these dishes again?? Not likely....only the nasi lemak was really fragrant..the rendang...hmmm..i m wondering whether a slow cooker can do the job better...cos we had to keep watching whether the sauce had reduced enough....Prima taste has a pre-mix version...i think that's good enough!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Chrysanthemum Jelly

handful of chrysanthemum flowers (10g)
1.2 l boiling water
10g agar agar powder
sugar to taste

Steep the flowers in the water for 3 minutes. Sieve and reserve. Pour the tea into a pot.
Add agar agar powder and sugar. Whisk/ stir constantly and bring to a boil. Make sure that the powder has dissolved.
Remove the petals from the flowers and add them to the mixture. (you don't need all..perhaps just a quarter of the can save the rest for use as eye-wash if you like..)
Pour into molds to set and chill before serving.

Comments: Finally!! Something which i invented!!!! Am mighty pleased with it too!! :P
Actually the recipe is very simple...and tastes like you are drinking chrysanthemum tea...i like the fact that there is no artifical colouring and there's fibre in the form of the flower petals and i sorta think that the idea of eating flowers is quite romantic...hahahah....
Chrysanthemum tea, according to Chinese folklore, is cooling and great for sore throats..and when we had 'red eyes', mom used to steep the flowers in a mug of hot water, chill it and and use it to wash our eyes...We never used 'eye-mo' and i reckon the chrysanthemum remedy really did work....and even if you didn't have red eyes, using these flowers were supposed to make your eyes more sparkly... :)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pears poached in red wine

Truth be told, i don't quite like styling food and taking pictures of them..i much prefer cooking (and eating!) but it's hard to have a convincing food blog when there are no enticing images...(i don't think the above image is very attractive..but give me some credit for trying, ok? :))

When Louisa and i were in Port Pirie...we bought a bottle of red wine on the first night... and had beef with red wine, lamb with red wine, coq au vin and poached pears in wine...and I must say that the pears turned out the best...cos red wine, as you know, is red..and tends to impart a purplish tint to meats...and personally, i find purple food very off-putting!!

Pears, on the other hand, become a deep rich burgundy and are quite pretty to look at.....and the best thing about this recipe is that it only needs 3 ingredients: Pears, red wine and sugar! How simple is that?!

And we learnt it through watching a video online!! Love the internet...not only can you find recipes and pictures, now you can watch step-by-step videos too!! Fantastic!!! :D

If you don't wanna sit through the video, the transcript is available further down the page. Instead of a cookie, we topped the pears with freshly toasted walnuts and vanilla yoghurt. We both loved it! It's such a simple and elegant dessert! And for the record, alcohol, along with its notorious calories, burns off during cooking... :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Big Pau

looks promising, no??

The filling is braised chicken with yam and a slice of hard boiled egg.

I get quite excited at the thought of making dim sum food...the first time we made chee chong fun, i was literally over the Singapore, dim sum (or yum cha) is not that expensive but it just didn't seem possible to me that anyone would try to make them at home...
being overseas, of course, is a great motivator to start learning things you didn't use to give a second thought about....

this recipe which i got from my 'Best Finger Foods' cookbook required 20 minutes of kneading...perhaps i kneaded it too much, i'm not sure...but it turned out too dry and chewy..maybe it's the way it's supposed to be...but i like my paus soft and fluffy....will try Lily's Tien Tsin Pau recipe next...wish me luck folks!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Artichoke au naturel

We saw an artichoke in Woolies for 99 cents.....i have no idea how to cook it but remember Umami showing a video of her baby eating figured that it can't be that challenging right...

Louisa's response was: "99 cents? Let's buy and try!! It's a vegetable!! Should be healthy!!"

Cos we were away from home and had no other condiments, we decided to eat it plain...and it was surprisely good!!!

method: Cut away the thorny tips of the leaves, wash throughly, wrap in clingwrap and microwave on high for 8 minutes.

What you see in the picture are the are supposed to put it into your mouth and using your front teeth, scrap the white edible portion. The leave is not supposed to be eaten. (Had i not researched on the internet, i most probably would have, despite the toughness!!!)

When you come to the middle of the artichoke, the leaves become more tender and those, we ate whole...the sweetest part was the heart..there's some fuzz which you have to scrap off too...
and usually you dip it in butter or mayo or some other creamy dip and can saute/braise the hearts..
I will most probably serve them with a garlic yoghurt dip as an appetiser next time...

The most interesting thing about artichokes is that they leave a lingering sweet plesant taste in your mouth and throat and everything else you eat after that tastes extra sweet!!!

Additional trivia: artichokes were delicacies and thought to have aphrodisiac properties during the 16th century and women were prohibited from eating them...more recently, they are also rumoured to be good for the liver, cleansing the skin and stuff like that...(additional research on Louisa's first bite, the artichoke was quite bland so she was convinced that they must have some medicinal qualities!!!)

Cafe Riva in Port Pirie

If you ever find yourself in Port Pirie, check out this little cafe on the Main Street...

Louisa and I went there on the recommendation of a trusted colleague...there were alot of other luscious looking desserts on offer...

Louisa had the citrus custard tart..

and I had a vanilla slice...

look at how intent Louisa is on finishing her dessert....

The cafe had a very relaxed feel, service was warm and friendly and prices were extremely reasonable.....really well-worth a visit!!! Thanks Jodie for the recommendation!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

eating escapades!!!

this is a long overdue post...

Qin and I decided a long time before the exams that we will go indulge ourselves once exams are over....and we had our eyes set on the Hyatt dessert buffet...and asked some other girls's $17 for weekdays lunch and slightly higher for dinnertime and weekends...was it worth it? I'd let the pictures do the talking...

chocolate gateau, apple strudel, carrot cake, cheese cake..

bread and butter pudding, apple strudel (repeat) and pecan pie

cream puff, tiramisu, brownie, raspberry jelly cake, mandarin tart and chocolate eclair

Creme brulee

after having our fill of dessert (perhaps for a whole month), we went for retail therapy at Rundle Mall and then to Central market for dinner..Actually I suggested going to Belgian Cafe at Rundle Street for mussels and told the girls that we should eat well since exams are over and they looked at me in shock and asked, "Didn't we just have Hyatt's dessert buffet for lunch?" stomach has a poor memory!!!
We went to Lucia's pizza and's been in Central Market for 50 years and is very well-known amongst the Italian community so we figured it has to be good...the pizza was fantastic but sadly we can't say the same for the pasta...we shared 1 pizza and 2 pasta between the 4 of us ......

and then decided that we still were somewhat peckish and strolled down to the other side of the market in search of 'Russian donuts' (deep fried breads with savoury fillings)..and we were really fortunate cos it was near closing time and they were on discount...

Louisa had the cheese and spinach, Qin and Soxi had the mushroom and i had beef and onion...the bread was soft and fluffy and all the fillings come very highly recommended!!!!!

Hmmm...It looks like alot of food, nah?? Don't worry, we don't do this very often...perhaps just twice a year!! hehe!!


What do you do when you have alot of bread left over?? The most common dishes which utilise stale breads are bread and butter puddings, fruit charlottes, crutons and breadcrumbs....the loaf I wanted to use up was the traditional country style type...with a chewy exterior and not that suitable for desserts i thought...and due to the sheer volume, i wanted to find a recipe which will use up the whole loaf easily....

and guess what i found???

Poor man's food from Protugal...BREADSTEW!!!!

It's very simple, really....pan fry onions in olive oil, add bread, enough water to make a mush and top with eggs. Finito!!!
It tastes very much like chinese rice congee if you let it simmer long enough!!!
Cos i had the audacity to invite friends over, i tot i had to make it more i rendered some bacon instead of using olive oil...and used fish stock and added mixed vegetables, campignons and spinach to make it more robust....
very comforting food and i guess, it would be great for small children?? Hardly requires any chewing... :) and people did like it by the way...

Monday, July 9, 2007


Got the recipe for this incredibly tasty tapenade from V's blog...

Quick and easy!! My favourite type of recipe!

Reckon it would be great as a pasta stir through as well...and a good gift for olive lovers...Michelle, I will bring you some when I come back to Singapore, ok??

update: I brought the dip back to three different parties and was inundated with requests for the recipe!!!

the following picture was taken at Shalini's place..

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Sweet Potato Casserole

recipe from

5 sweet potatoes, sliced
50g butter (omitted accidentally, opps!)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 (10.5 ounce) package miniature marshmallows

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and mash.
3. Place mashed sweet potatoes in large bowl, and use an electric mixer to blend with the margarine, brown sugar, vanilla essence and cinnamon. Spread evenly into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Top with miniature marshmallows.
4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until heated through, and marshmallows are puffed and golden brown.

comments: Did you know that sweet potatos can be cooked this way with marshmallows?? I honestly didn't!! Once again, this is a 'clearing pantry' recipe!! :P But it turned out pretty well...maybe! Before baking, it looked really pretty with the tri-coloured marshmellows, and everyone who saw it was quite eager to grab a piece! It didn't look that appetising after cutting up cos it was all mushy! But reviews were still on the positive side! And!!! We found out something surprising!! Mashed up sweet potato (i used the purple skinned ones) has an uncanningly similar texture and taste to lotus nut paste...the stuff which is inside mooncakes!! (and I didn't even have to add half a gallon of oil!) Plus, sweet potato is way cheaper and much easier to prepare than lotus nut paste! No soaking overnight and then cooking in a pressure cooker..and then frying in oil for almost an hour.....(see the last post about complicated chinese cooking!!)..
So perhaps this year, we might just have sweet potato mooncakes instead...!!
Oh! and coming back to this recipe, i think the brown sugar can be omitted altogether actually...the marshmellows were sweet enough... :)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Asian Carrot Cake aka Chai Tow Kueh!

If you mentioned 'carrot cake' to a Singaporean or Malaysian, chances are that we'd think immediately of the savoury version with lots of egg and oil instead of the sweet nutty version so loved by Americans.

After making it today, i wondered how it was first invented. It never fazes me how complicated/ time consuming Asian cooking is!! First, you've got to grate the carrot (raddish, but in Mandarin, it's called 'white carrot'), then you've got to fry it til tender, mix it into a rice flour water mixture, steam for an hour, cool for 1.5 hours and then leave it in the fridge for at least 8 hours! And that is only half the job...then you've still got to stir fry it in a copious amount of oil and egg for around 10 more minutes and in the process, infuse your home with oily fumes. (I really do feel sorry for my housemates sometimes!)

Ok! No more whinning! The result is relatively authentic i think...though I'd follow the recipe more closely the next time (if there is a next time! I only cooked chai tow kueh today cos I had half a daikon i had to finish before leaving for placement tomorrow!) and stir fry it for at least 8 minutes..I was impatient and remembering the hawkers back home, I thought that it can be cooked in a jiffy! (Most probably, the hawkers have already stir-fried the carrot cake once through, that's why they take a much shorter time! Thanks Peter for the tip!)
Most pieces came out a tad too chewy but on the whole, was still acceptable! Oh...and I think it is not advisable to cut back on the oil....otherwise, it won't be crispy or fragrant enough....Eat this only occasionally ok!!

Got the recipe from Epicurious.

PS: Actually I like the 'white' carrot cake much better...if you've got a good recipe for that, please share with me!! Thanks!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

the perfect shape of a potato chip!

Did you know that potato chips have a 'perfect' shape for maximum crispiness??!!
This article made me laugh out loud!! :) So...that means Pringles potato chips are all prefectly shaped...but cos they are made from dehydrated potato powder, they don't taste quite the same to me...what do you reckon?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Otah (Asian style fish pate!)

500g white fish
1/2 cup coconut cream
2 whole nutmegs
1 small piece balanchan
1 tbs chilli powder
1 inch piece of ginger, (around the size of a thumb), minced
1 inch piece of galangal (blue ginger), minced
1/2 cup of shallots
1 tbs rice flour
1 tbs oil
1 tbs sugar
1 egg

preheat oven to 200 C.
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor.
Grease a baking tray and spread otah mixture on it.
Bake for 20-30 minutes.
Serve as an appetiser or with coconut rice (nasi lemak).

comments: My mom first tried this recipe last year...and I remember my younger sister, coming home late at night and after tasting the otah, said to me, "Ting ah! Donno which restaurant Ma buy this otah's very very good leh!!"

When I told mom about my sister's comment the next morning, she positively glowed with pleasure. I think the recipe my mom used was from a 25 year old newspaper clipping. My version is not as mouth watering as my mom's...perhaps it's due to the substitution of onions for shallots...or maybe, food always tastes better when you don't have to prepare it yourself!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Lip lady's granola

Melissa from the Traveller's Lunchbox is one of my favourite food bloggers. Not only does she write thoughtfully, produces inspiring pictures but she will actually experiement for as long as SEVEN years to get a recipe right!!! I think that even if it took her a seven more, she will still gladly do it ... and the most beautiful part is her generousity in sharing the results of her toil!

And they do not disappoint!!!

I was really impressed with the's excellent with yoghurt and it's so addictive that i feel really guilty eating it!! ha....but oats are supposed to be good for you right?? All that insoluble fibre...!! *wink!*