Monday, June 29, 2009

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

This is the one dish I order whenever I patronise a Taiwanese restaurant. Of course the dishes are made slightly differently in one restaurant compared to another. I was tempted to try making it myself when I came across this recipe in A Daily Obsession; or I should say, when I came across the delectable picture of the dish there. I followed her advice and made the soup the day before. The next day, the soup was absolutely heavenly and the beef had absorbed the spices in the soup. The soup is very "beefy" so this dish is strictly for beef lovers. Add in homemade noodles (which is really better than any noodles you can possibly buy outside) and voila! a tasty dish to satisfy your strongest beef craving.

This recipe is adapted. The beef serves about 3 people but the soup will probably feed 4-5 people. You can increase the beef accordingly.

1/2 kg stewing beef or beef ribs, or mixture of
1 piece ginger (10g), peeled & smashed lightly
1 bunch spring onions, tied
1/4 bulb garlic, peeled
1 piece dried tangerine/mandarin peel, 2 X 2 cm
1/2 star anise
1 stick cinnamon, about 3 cm long
3/4-1 tbsp sugar (to your liking)
3 tbsp dark soy sauce (or more to intensify color)
3 tbsp light soy sauce
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp white rice vinegar (optional)
1 litre beef or chicken stock
Homemade noodles (cut into udon size)
A bunch of bok choy

cilantro or Chinese celery leaves

1) Cook the soup the day before serving. Cut stewing beef into small pieces, 3 x 4 cm or bigger if like. Beef ribs about 5 X 5 cm. If using ribs, blanch them briefly in boiling water, throw water away.
2) Put everything into a heavy-based pot and add a litre of water and a litre of beef or chicken stock. Boil and simmer for 2-3 hours. Leave it till the next day. Season to taste.
3) Boil a large pot of water and cook noodles, two portions at a time so that you can control the texture of the noodles. Meanwhile, heat up the beef soup.
4) Boil soup and vegetables together. Once the vegetables have cooked to your liking, add cooked noodles and cook for a short while. Quickly pour into serving bowls.
5) Top with some cilantro or chopped Chinese celery leaves. Serve immediately.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Claypot Chicken Rice

Claypot Chicken Rice is one of those dishes which has a recipe that sounds simple enough but if you're inexperienced, proves deceiving. That was what I found out, to my chagrin. First of all, do use Jasmine rice as written. I used calrose rice to little success (please refer to the pictures provided). Second, rice WILL stick to the bottom of your claypot and burn so keep a watchful eye and stir as often as you can. However, even with those little obstacles, the flavour was very good and I will definitely try this recipe again.

This recipe serves 3-4 people.

1 cup Jasmine rice,washed and drained
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3 chicken drumsticks,wash and cut into pieces
3-4 pieces shitake mushroom,soaked and cut in half
1 Chinese sausage,soaked ,sliced thin and fried
1 piece thick salted fish,fried
1/2 inch fresh ginger,bruised and sliced

1 tbsp sweet soy sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (shiong hua wine)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground black pepper,plus some for sprinkle

a handful cut scallion/green onion
Soya sauce with bird's eye chilli


1) Combine cut chicken, mushroom with seasoning and ginger in a medium bowl, marinade for 1 hour or overnight .
2) Wash rice until water clear, drain and add in chicken stock in the claypot, cover and bring to boil at low heat. Cook about 10 minutes or until holes are formed on top. Then stir rice from time to time to avoid sticking or sitting on the bottom.
3) Then spread marinated chicken and mushrooms, Chinese sausage on top, cover and cook with low heat until rice is dry and and chicken pieces are cooked, about 15 minutes. Use a wooden spatula to whip chicken and rice together . Then over again and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove claypot from heat.
4) Sprinkle fried salted fish on top, cover and leave to stand for 10 minutes or until rice is dry and fluffy.
5) Sprinkle some cut scallion and ground black pepper on top. Serve immediately.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Banana Oat Muffins

The best muffin I had was while I was studying in Australia. It was huge and dry, wasn't sweet at all, and so dense it took me quite a long time to finish it. It had some weirdly enticing name which gave no indication as to what the ingredients were. Nevertheless, I bought it at every chance I had and thoroughly savoured it.

I haven't made a muffin to rival that one (yet). However, this recipe is rather good and allows for further tweaks should you feel up to it. Bananas should be very ripe for the flavour to come through. Makes 12 regular-sized muffins.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed bananas or about 3-4 medium-sized bananas
  1. Whisk flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt together.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper bake cups, and divide the batter among them.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 18 to 20 minutes.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Steamed Spare Ribs with Garlic and Coriander

I started out experimenting with baking because I like that bakers have to follow the instructions given almost precisely lest the baked goods turn out inedible. Cooking is a different story. Much leeway is provided in the execution of the recipes. As I am neither that experienced nor have a knack for mixing up different ingredients by instinct, I tend to follow cooking recipes line by line as well. Simple recipes are great treasures as the dishes are quick to prepare and, with enough herbs and spices, delicious.

Here's a simple recipe I adapted from Piggy's Cooking Journal. Serves 3.

200g spare ribs
3/4 tbsp chopped coriander
3/4 tbsp garlic
1/2 tbsp chopped chilli
3/4 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tbsp fried shallot oil
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tbsp corn flour
1/4 tbsp Shao Xing wine

1) Blanch spare ribs in boiling water for 30 seconds and drain well. Cut spare ribs into pieces and season with a bit of salt.
2) Mix chopped coriander, garlic and chilli with seasoning until well combined.
3) Put spare ribs onto heatproof plate, steam over high heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add coriander and garlic mixture. Continue to steam for 5 minutes until cooked.
4) Remove from heat and serve.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Teochew-style Steamed Fish

I think the best way to cook fresh fish is by steaming. The fish retains its flavour and you're not overly burdened by cooking oil after eating it. Here's a simple recipe for hot and sour steamed fish, adapted from Kuali.

50g salted mustard greens, soaked and shredded
3cm piece ginger, finely shredded
1 pickled sour plum
1 tomato, cut into thin slices
2 black Chinese mushrooms, shredded
Mix with:
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp sugar
1 stalk spring onions cut into 4cm lengths
1 sprig coriander leaves
1 red chilli cut into strips

1 tbsp shallot or garlic oil
1 tsp sesame oil

1) Make two cuts on each side of the fish. Rub lightly with salt and pepper.
2) Put fish on a metal or heatproof dish and scatter salted mustard green, mushroom and ginger slices on and
around the fish. Break up the sour plum and distribute it over the fish and arrange tomato slices around fish.
3) Steam fish over rapidly boiling water for 10 to 12 minutes or until the eyes of the fish pop out. (This is an indication that the fish is cooked.) Pour combined oil over the fish immediately, add garnishing and serve.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fish and Chips

Yes that's right. I was over-enthusiastic with my deep frying. It is one method of cooking which I seldom use and it was fascinating just watching batter deep frying. I followed a recipe in a website I won't be linking here. The batter was okay but had a baking soda taste and didn't stay crispy for long. In future, I will try out other recipes and if they turn out better, I'll post the recipes.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Cockles are of the clam family. They have a unique flavour. They're sort of rubbery in texture and quite salty if they're not washed properly. In Penang, one normally finds cockles fried with char koay teow or cooked together with curry mee. I once had cockles at one of those late night Kuala Lumpur mamak stalls served up with plenty of chilli sauce. However I'm a purist at heart and seldom like dishes which are overwhelmed with condiments.

In my family, cockles are washed well to get rid of the mud and blanched awhile in hot boiling water and drained. They are then eaten on their own. One of the things about cockleshells are that they're tough enough to ruin your fingernails when you pry them open!

Cockles should be cooked right after they're bought from the wet market. If they're cooked when no longer fresh and eaten unawares, I can say from experience that they taste very nasty.

Spicy Miso Ramen with Homemade Noodles

I'm a fan of noodle soups, especially spicy ones. When I came across this recipe in Rasa Malaysia, I couldn't resist trying it out. I did not have the Japanese ingredients for the longest time. Recently, Gurney Plaza had a Japanese food exhibition and I managed to get most of the ingredients on my list.

This miso ramen was terrific. Although it was quite light, it had plenty of flavour from the miso with subtle spiciness from the chilli oil. I tweaked my previous homemade noodles recipe and this time the noodles had the perfect texture and springiness for a soup dish.

The recipe is adapted according to my taste. Serves 3.


Homemade noodles (recipe below)
4 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons white miso paste
2 teaspoons chilli oil
1/2 teaspoon hondashi
2 hard-boiled eggs
3/4 can corn kernels (15 oz can)
1 stalk scallion (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds (pound with mortar and pestle until fine)
Some seasoned seaweed (cut into thin strips)


1) Bring the water to boil and then add in the miso paste, hondashi, eggs, and finely ground sesame seeds. Bring the soup base to boil and reduce to 4 cups. Add in the chili oil to taste.

2) Blanch the noodles in a pot of boiling water until they are cooked. Drain, and set aside.

3) In a serving bowl, add the noodles and then topped with the hard-boiled egg (sliced into half), corn kernels and chopped scallion. Pour the miso soup into the bowl and add the seaweeds.

Serve immediately.

Homemade Noodles


1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoon water

1) Put all ingredients into a bowl. Mix until the dough comes together and knead for 10-15 minutes. Rest for 30 minutes.
2) Roll out dough thinly. Noodles will expand when cooked. Douse with lots of flour.
3) Fold or roll the dough into a log and cut into thin strips.
4) Pull out strips slightly and let them rest and dry out for about 2 hours.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Guacamole with Baked Flour Tortilla Chips

What to do with leftover avocados? That was quite tough to decide. I finally decided on guacamole. Adapting recipes I found on the web, I added the ingredients to taste as I went along so there is no proper recipe.

Basically, I used 1 avocado, 1/2 small chopped red onion, 1/4 clove minced garlic, 1 chopped tomato, 1/2 lime, mayonnaise, a splash of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Just mixed them all in a bowl and chill for half hour for the flavours to come together.

For the chips, firstly I made the tortillas from my trusty recipe. Then I adapted a recipe from Kat Can Cook. The chips were great. I made plain tortilla chips and seasoned ones just for comparison and the seasoned ones won the day. Use the recipe as a base and increase and decrease the ingredients as you go along to suit your taste.


3-4 whole-wheat tortillas
1 tablespoon olive oil
Spice blend (see below) or chili powder


1) Preheat oven to 190C.
2) Use a pastry brush to lightly brush both sides of each of the tortillas with olive oil. Place them in a stack as you go. Cut the stack into wedges (a bread knife works best for this, cut gently). Arrange wedges in a single layer on cookie sheets. Sprinkle each wedge with a dash or two of the spice blend.
3) Bake for 8-12 minutes, switching the pans half way through baking time.


1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (or table salt)

Combine all ingredients in a small jar, an empty spice jar would be ideal. Shake to combine.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Creamy Carrot with Curry Soup

Creamy soups are one of my comfort food although we rarely have a cold day here. Curry is also a weakness of mine and when I came across this recipe in AllRecipes, it sounded too good to pass up, and boy was I glad I tried out the recipe. The soup was delicious; a strong carrot flavour with subtle spice aftertaste. Gorgeous!

This recipe yields 4 servings (adapted)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 pound peeled carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 large onion, cut into large dice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/2 pinch sugar
  • 1-1/2 large garlic cloves, thickly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • a dash of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth, homemade or from a carton or can
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep saute pan until shimmering.
  2. Add carrots, then onion; saute, stirring very little at first, then more frequently, until vegetables start to turn golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add butter, sugar and garlic; continue cooking until all vegetables are a rich spotty caramel color, about 10 minutes longer.
  4. Add curry powder, cinnamon, cumin and nutmeg; continue to saute until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute longer.
  5. Add broth; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. Using a blender, puree until very smooth, 30 seconds to 1 minute. (Vent it either by removing the lid's pop-out center or by lifting one edge of the lid. Drape the blender canister with a kitchen towel. To 'clean' the canister, pour in a little whole milk, blend briefly, then add to the soup.)
  7. Return to pan (or a soup pot); add enough whole milk so the mixture is souplike, yet thick enough to float garnish. Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed. Heat through, ladle into bowls, and serve.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Aglio e Olio

I like pasta dishes and this one is one of the simplest to make. It consists of just pasta, olive oil, garlic and hot pepper flakes. There are a lot of recipes on the web which has additional ingredients such as shrimps. However I came across Emeril Lagasse's which is just what I wanted. Very simple, basic aglio e olio.

This recipe yields 4-6 servings.

- 1 pound dried pasta (spaghetti, linguine, or your favorite pasta)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1) Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente.
2) Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic is lightly browned. Remove from heat.
3) Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, and place in a bowl for tossing and serving. Add olive oil mixture and toss. Add the reserved cooking liquid if mixture seems dry.

Serve immediately.


Durians... What other fruit tastes better than durians when they are at the height of their season. It has such a love-hate relationship with people. People either love it or they hate it. Luckily my family loves durians. My dad got this durian called No.15. Its fruit was fleshy and creamy and has that sweet-bitter taste I love in durians.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Avocado Dessert

Avocado was one of the fruits I first tasted in Australia. Granted, it was in a smoothie but its flavour came out enough for me to be able to tell how an avocado tastes like without bells and whistles. However, avocado is almost all fat (albeit, good fat). A friend of mine liked avocado so much, she ate herself to the verge of obesity. Luckily she got help in time and brought her weight back down.

That said, this particular recipe is just lovely and well worth the extra fat. Just exercise it off. It's sweet and creamy, with lots of avocado flavour bursting out.

This recipe serves about 3 people.

½ fresh avocado
¼ small can condensed milk
2 cups crushed ice
½ cup water or milk

Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Garlic Butter Buns

I've made a few types of bread at this point but I was focusing on harder types of bread like french bread. When I saw this recipe, I decided to try making it as it would be different. It was great! Very soft with a slighty harder crust and terrific flavour in the garlic butter. The recipe as adapted by me is as follows:

The Dough
500 g bread flour
1 1/2 t dry active yeast
45 g castor sugar
1 t salt
1 medium‐sized egg
50 g cold butter
260 ml cold water

1. Put all the ingredients into your mixer bowl and knead for about 20 minutes. Put dough in a covered bowl for 1 hour until doubled up.
2. Punch dough down, lift out of the bowl and put it on a lightly floured counter. Cut into 50 g pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball, then into a cone, then flatten the cone‐shaped dough into a longish triangle and roll up from the wider end.
3. Place each rolled piece of dough onto a greased and/or well‐floured tray. Cover and leave to proof for 1 hour or until more than doubled.
4. Brush the top of the buns with beaten egg yolk, snip down the middle with a sharp pair of scissors, spoon some garlic butter onto the slitted area and place in a preheated oven at 200 C, for 20 minutes.

Garlic Butter
100 g salted butter
1 bulb garlic, chopped very finely
1 T fresh or 1 t dried parsley

Whisk it all together with a small hand whisk.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Spring Lamb Shepherd's Pie

Another comfort food! My dad bought some lamb the other day and what's better than a hearty shepherd's pie. I came across Jamie Oliver's recipe and it was terrific. Great flavour and even though I missed out a step (dredging the lamb in flour), the pie still turned out great in my own opinion.

Serves: 4-6

1kg boneless shoulder of lamb
2 x 15ml spoons flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 glugs of olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
50g pancetta, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary
400g can plum tomatoes, chopped
250ml lamb or vegetable stock
1kg Desirée potatoes
200ml milk
2 knobs of butter
A small handful of fresh rosemary

1) Preheat the oven to 190°C, 375°F, gas mark 5.
2) Trim any large bits of fat off the lamb, then cut the meat into chunks and put through small batches into the food processor until minced roughly. Place the mince in a bowl, and then add the flour and seasoning and toss until evenly coated.
3) Heat a large pan, and when it’s nice and hot, add the olive oil and lamb mince, and fry until browned all over. Add the onion, celery, carrot, pancetta and garlic to the pan, and throw in the sprig of rosemary and tomatoes. Pour in the stock and stir well so the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
4) Leave in the same pan or transfer to an ovenproof dish, cover and bake in the oven for an hour.
5) Meanwhile, peel the spuds, boil them in salted water until cooked through, then drain well. Heat the milk gently, then pour over the potatoes. Add a knob of butter and mash well until smooth and creamy.
6) Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan. When it starts to bubble, throw in the handful of rosemary and fry until crisp. Drain and add the rosemary to the mashed potatoes with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
7) Take the lamb out of the oven, spoon over the mash, then turn up the temperature to 200°C, 400°F, gas mark 6 and bake for about 20 minutes, or until bubbling and crispy and brown on top.