Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lettuce Wrap

~Old Post~

This is one dish that I must cook every Chinese New Year.  What I enjoyed when I was little visiting grandparents' houses and what was the favorite food that my mom cooked on reunion dinner that seem to be stuck in my memory is this dish.  My mom would roast a chicken or buy the roasted pork from the vendor and made her own chili to go with this lettuce wrap.  It was always so divine that I just had to cook it every year.  Of course the meat served in my house would be different as I often too lazy to roast a chicken and also too lazy to drive so far away to the Asian store to buy the roasted pork.  So, I made an easy stir-fried marinated chicken to go with mine.

A piece of romaine lettuce (you can use green leaf, red leaf or Boston lettuce too).  Spread the "mung kuang char" (stir-fried jicama) on top, top with chicken and a little of the chili, wrap and enjoy!

This is what I called yummilicious!!!

Now that I thought about it, I can even wrap some rice in and eat it together eh?  Did you eat this dish during CNY?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lotus Root Soup with Dried Mussels

Recently I asked my readers how they used their dried mussels to cook and this was one of the suggestions.  Except I used chicken drumsticks instead of pork ribs.  This is definitely delicious and the dried mussels brought another flavor into the soup.  This is Chinese dried mussels which you can find in the Asian market.

I would certainly make this soup again!  Thanks friend!  :-)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stir Fried Mixed Veggies with Lotus Root

If you have noticed like me, lotus root have been appearing on most Chinese New Year meals, either served at home or in a restaurant.  When I did a search, I found that Chinese believed if you eat lotus root during the Chinese New Year, all the new ventures that you are planning for this year will take root and grow.  My friend served lotus root soup on reunion dinner so I served up stir-fried lotus root with mixed vegetable.  It would be nice with some broccoli as well but I just used what I had at home at that moment.  The lotus root and water chestnut gave this dish the crunch.

The food symbolism of this dish are listed below:
Mixed Vegetable (什锦蔬菜) overall means Family Harmony.  Golden lily buds (金针) means wealth.  Water Chestnut (荸薺) means unity.  Shrimp (小虾) means happiness and good fortune.  Sweet corn (甜玉米) means increase growth.  Carrots ( 紅蘿蔔) red color means good luck.  Chinese Cabbage (白菜) means 100 types of prosperity luck.

Reference from Food Symbolism during Chinese New Year celebration.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dried Mussels Recipe

I was searching for dried mussels recipe but I couldn't find many online, so I resorting to experiment it myself.  I had it in a friend's restaurant before and she used it to boil soup, so for one I know it will be great in soup.  My friend's suggested to add it in the lotus root and pork ribs soup which sounded yummy to me.  Going to try it soon but probably with chicken drumsticks as I don't have pork ribs.  Another suggested to braise it with chicken and mushroom which sounded good to me as well which I intent to try it out.  A few suggested to cook it in porridge but I probably going to pass this as my girls don't like porridge.  One suggested to cook it in sambal for example instead of sambal ikan bilis, make it into sambal dried mussels, sounds good to me too.  But I cannot cook this dish, read below for the reason.

This dish is very auspicious as bean curd sticks means blessing the house, Chinese cabbage means 100 types of prosperity luck, carrots means good luck, glass noodle means long life, wood ear means longevity, Shitake mushroom means longevity and sizing opportunity, shrimps means happiness and good fortune.  Mandarin orange means gold and wealth.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Koi Fish Jelly

Today marks the last day of Chinese New Year and also Chinese Valentine's Day.  The 15 long days of Chinese celebration is finally over.  Right now I can concentrate on losing some extra weight gain.  LOL!

Sharing with you a Koi fish Almond Konnyaku jelly that I made recently.  To get this pattern, all you need to do is to take a little bit of the jelly water out and mix it with a drop of red coloring, stir to blend well.  Use a spoon to spoon a little of the red jelly inside the fish molds.  You can wait for it to harden before scooping the white jelly in to have a white fish with red strips, or if you couldn't wait like me, before the red jelly harden completely, I scoop the white jelly in and thus it became pink fish.  Got the idea?  I used black sesame seeds as eyes on the big koi fishes.  I later added the black sesame seeds on the little fishes too.  Definitely nicer with the black sesame seeds.

By the way, Happy Chinese Valentine's Day to all who celebrate this day.  Wish you find your other half soon if this is what you are wishing for. :-)  And have a great "Chap Goh Meh"!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fried Nian Gao and Sweet Potatoes with Spring Roll Wrapper

An interesting new way to serve nian gao that I noticed this year.  I was eager to try it and I did.  I saw a friend did a deep-fried nian gao with spring roll and she said it was delicious.  But I bought a sweet potato to go with my nian gao already and thus I wanted to incorporate the sweet potato into this spring roll.  Then, I saw another similar post while blog hopping.  That blogger used smashed steamed taro mixed with coconut flakes to wrap the nian gao and rolled it in the spring roll wrapper before deep-frying.  So, that was my "aha" moment.  I can steam and then smash my sweet potato before wrapping it with the nian gao and spring roll wrapper.  The idea was set and I got to work and the resulted product was really crispy and delicious.

I used the steamed nian gao that I did earlier.   The verdict of this nian gao is not what I was hoping for.  I wanted one that would melt when deep fried but this one was not.  It is not as fragrant too maybe it was because I didn't use the palm sugar but the Chinese bar sugar instead.  Therefore the color of this nian gao is not as dark brown.  Overall, it was an okay recipe, definitely not the best.  But I would try it again with palm sugar just to see whether it will have any difference (just want to experiment :-P).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kuih Bahlu 2 (Chinese Egg Sponge Cake, 鸡蛋糕)

I did a Pandan Kuih Bahlu before in year 2008 and never try it since.  Because I found the recipe a bit dry.  This year I had no plan on making kuih bahlu but while I was browsing and jumping blogs, I decided to check out Sinner's blog.  And then I saw her kuih bahlu recipe posted last year.  I quickly compared her ingredients with the one I made before and found that hers uses less sugar and flour and she also stated that hers produces soft kuih bahlu.  So, I got interested and prompted me to try out her recipe.  I was glad I tried because it is indeed soft and slightly chewy.  Edda and myself couldn't stop popping a few of this once it was cooled.  :-P  However, after I kept it in the container, it turned sticky and moist unlike the dry kuih bahlu we used to.  Almost like the mini egg sponge cake I did in 2007.  So, I don't think this can be kept long.  Guess I will have to play with the old recipe again, like adding oil.

Guess you have noticed the ugly looking kuih bahlu I have right?  I don't have the pretty kuih bahlu mould so I used the mini muffin pan to make this instead.  If you too don't own the mould and wanted to make this, check out my instruction on the next page.  The method is about the same but slightly different.  You can still enjoy the kuih bahlu without the mould.  I guess the next time I go back to M'sia, I need to buy myself two kuih bahlu moulds.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Custard Cookies

This cookie sure have a strange look.  Evy called it snake skin cookie.  LOL!  This was resulted from my experiment in the kitchen.  I was surprised that the cookie turned out like this too.  If you try this recipe of mine, let me know if yours turn out looking like this too, okay?  Because I am curious!  Look aside, this cookie is crisp and melt in the mouth with the fragrant of custard powder.  Actually tasted very good.  This is the last of my CNY cookies for this year.  了!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Homemade Yee Sang for Chinese New Year (魚生)

Yee Sang, Yusheng, 魚生 or Prosperity Toss is enjoyed throughout the 15 days of Chinese New Year.  It is a symbol of abundance, vigor and prosperity as the fish tossing in this salad means 余升 and 年年有余.  The waiter would add each ingredient and says an auspicious phrase related to that ingredient and then everyone would stand up and toss the yusheng together while saying auspicious wishes.  It is believed that the higher you toss, it would bring you higher growth in wealth and fortunes. This dish is mainly enjoyed by the Chinese in Singapore and Malaysia.  I talked to Chinese from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan before and they have no clue what is 魚生.  Whereas if you mention this dish with people from Malaysia or Singapore, everyone knows what it is.  This dish is a must have and very popular during Chinese New Year, in fact, it only served during or around Chinese New Year.  You can order it in a restaurant or "to go" the ready made packet to bring it home.

We living in the U.S. or overseas have no such luck as in order it in a restaurant or buy it at a store.  But fear not, we can enjoy Yee Sang (魚生) too.  Frankly it is not difficult to make at all.  The only tedious part is the slicing of the vegetable thinly.  I made this easy version so it would be easy for all of us.  :-P  Everything can be bought in the Asian store such as ground toasted peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, wonton wrapper (or better yet the ready to eat fried wonton crackers), pickled ginger, ready to eat jelly fish etc.  I used jelly fish because we don't eat raw fish in the house.  Of course you can use any raw fish you like or smoke salmon, etc, etc.  You can even add pomelo or other ingredients you can think of.

I actually have thinly sliced romaine lettuce underneath the cilantro, scallion, pickled ginger and seaweed.  My plate was too small thus I had to pile everything up a level.  My carrot was actually got covered underneath too.  If you have sharp eyes, you will notice that my crunchy doesn't really look like fried wonton.  Well, you were right, because I was out of it and thus I used the spring roll wrapper.  It was crispy but turned soft quickly when mixed together as it was very thin you see, so the wonton skin is recommended.  I tried to make the nam yee cracker from scratch but failed as it turned soft when cold.  Later I did toast them in the toaster oven to crisp it again for the yee sang when the spring roll crunchy turned soft.  And it worked!

This simple yee sang is delicious, try it yourself and feedback to me ya!

Today is also the 7th day of CNY, which is everyone birthday, so Happy Birthday to all of us! 人日快乐!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Reunion Dinner 2011 with Friends

I wanted to share the reunion dinner we had at our friend's restaurant this year.  These were the common dishes that she would prepared every time we were invited for dinner.  She would alternate between lobsters or crabs and each time it would be at least 8-10 dishes.  She said this was Cantonese Cuisine and I definitely got introduced to lots of new ingredients that I didn't know before (not this meal but throughout the years that I had known her).

Steamed Whole Tilapia Fish (very fresh) 

Braised Lamb, really soft. (but we didn't know how to appreciate)  They said it's good to eat lamb during winter.

Stir-fried Huge Prawns (simply divine!)

Click next page to read and see more....

Friday, February 04, 2011

Early Happy Valentine's Day!! 情人节快乐!!

I was told that the last day of Chinese New Year is also the Chinese Valentine's Day.  So what's better way  to incorporate the Chinese New Year cookies into the Valentine's Day cookies as well.  I made this pineapple tarts using the heart shape cookie cutter and voila ~ a sweet heart shape Valentine's cookie made with love from the heart! 

You can find my recipe here.  I am sure your loved one would love to receive a gift from the heart that made from scratch.  People always say to win a man's heart, you will have to win his tummy first.  These days I am not too sure about this, but perhaps that's still the case if he is looking for a wife that can cook.  :-P

I want to wish all the love birds out there a Very Happy and Sweet Valentine's Day!!  情人节快乐!!

I am also submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #4: Love In The Air (Feb 2011) hosted by Cuisine Paradise.

Click next page to see the cookie cutter that I used to make this!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Steamed Nian Gao (年糕)

This is again something new for me this year.  I always did the baked Nian Gao like all the previous years.  The baked nian gao is delicious too but this year I stumbled upon a Vietnamese steamed nian gao recipe from a blogger friend.  I tried a few of his recipes before and liked it, so it encouraged me to give this recipe a try.  Truthfully, what got me interested was the steaming time in his was only 20 minutes for a rice bowl size.  Hey, you know me, always seek out the easiest recipe to try.

I used my porcelain ramekin to steam my nian gao as I believed this shape resembled the one that I was familiar with the most.  Looks good right?  I won't be eating this until after the Chinese New Year as I wanted to use this to bring good luck to my house.  I heard that since this is sticky, it means family reunion and togetherness.  Also of the Chinese word 年糕, the last word sounded like high (高), so it's like each year is higher or better than the previous. (年年高升)

Since I am not eating this yet so I have no comment regarding the taste.  Probably will do a post later when I slice it and pan-fry it.

This is how it looks like when I took it out of the ramekin to cool on wire rack.

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year and Gong Xi Fa Cai everyone!!  May this new year brings you much joy, good health and abundance wealth.  祝您 兔年快乐, 健康良好,  万事如意,恭喜发财!!!

P/s:  I recommend my new and improved super easy steamed nian gao recipe that I created in 2012.  Check it out!  :)