Monday, August 29, 2011

Pear Preserves

I sampled a pear preserves at my friend's house and really liked it.  Since Bartlett pear is in season now, I would love to make it myself.  I did a search on the web and found some recipes at  It gave me a general idea of how it was made.  What I liked best about this preserves is no pectin required.  For my recipe, I used less sugar (as I found the American version was too sweet), added some ground cinnamon and made it in my bread maker.  Direction for stove top is provided as well for those who don't own a bread maker.

Both my girls loved it.  We spread it on crackers and toasted bagels.  Yummy!  I even used it to make cake.  The recipe for Pear Preserves Cake will be coming up soon!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Merdeka Open House 2011: Makan Through Malaysia: Klang Bak Kut Teh

Bak Kut Teh or 肉骨茶 or "meat bone tea" is a mixture of complex Chinese herbs, garlic and spices pair with pork ribs and simmer for hours.  Tenderloins, pork intestines, mushrooms, fried tofu puffs are sometimes added.  A handful of lettuce would be added into the soup just before serving.  It is believed that Hokkien preferred saltier food and thus more soy sauce was added and created the darker soup base.  Another variety is Teochew which has the lighter soup base and more white pepper is added (Singaporean seem to prefer this).  As for Cantonese, they loved a stronger flavored soup by adding more medicinal herbs into their bak kut teh.   The well known condiments for bak kut teh are red chili, chopped garlic in light or dark soy sauce.  Chinese fried dough stick or yu tiao can be ordered as side.  Hot water and tea would be offered along side to wash down the oily broth soup.

The history of Bak Kut Teh as quoted in wikipedia, "Bak kut teh was introduced to Malaya in the 19th century by Chinese coolies and workers of Hokkien origin. The dish is reported to supplement the meager diet of port coolies and as a tonic to boost their health. The Teochews came later and the main visual difference between the Hokkien and Teochew version of bak kut teh is that the Hokkiens use dark soy sauce and thus the soup base is characteristically darker in colour.

Klang Bak Kut Teh or 巴生肉骨茶 is a popular Malaysian breakfast.  I remembered my dad would drive us all the way to Klang for its Bak Kut Teh every Sunday morning.  The place that we frequented many years ago situated behind a Chinese temple (I later learned that it was a Hokkien Association Building) in an enclosed open area.  It was run by a husband and wife team.  I am not sure whether it is still there or not after almost two decades (can anyone confirm?).  The business was good back then and it served the Hokkien version of Bak Kut Teh (one with dark soy sauce).   My dad would bring his own tea leaves.  And it was our ritual to watch my dad carefully used the hot boiling water provided to clean the tea pot and each tea cups before pouring us our tea.  My dad would order the fried Yu Tiao (Chinese fried dough sticks) for us to dip into the soup and we would be really disappointed if they ran out of yu tiao as it was our favorite.  Another thing we liked about this place was they served with dark sweet soy sauce along with soy sauce for the chili and chopped garlic as condiment.  We fell in love with the sweet soy sauce condiment and even now I want my bak kut teh with sweet soy sauce.  Here, I served up my Klang Bak Kut Teh as I remembered it, with fried yu tiao, chili, chopped garlic in sweet soy sauce.  Alas!  I forgot to prepare a cup of green tea to go with it!

I am gladly submitting this post to Babe in the City ,who hosts the yearly Merdeka Open House on August 31st.  Feel free to click through the below link for more information.  All Malaysians, local or abroad are eligible to participate.  If not, go there on the 31st for the full roundup feast! 

merdeka logo

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stir-Fried Okra/ Lady's Fingers

Okra or Lady's Fingers as Malaysian called it is often found in stir-frying, in curry, in young tau foo or simply steam it whole.  But in the US, it is often found in gumbo or dip in batter and deep-fried.  When the seed pods are cooked, it produces "goo" or slime.  To prevent sliminess, you can keep the pod intact.  I actually enjoyed the slime and loved this veggie.  Do you like okra too?

I am sharing an easy way for stir-frying okra.  Ingredients are easily available in the Asian supermarket.  This method is without using the shrimp paste in oil and thus different from my previous method.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Easy Nai Pak

Sharing with you my easy vegetable dish that I cooked at home.  It was so common that I believed a lot of you might have made it at your own kitchen.  This was how I made mine.  First you wash your vegetable, then you boil a pot of water, add in a dash of salt and a little cooking oil.  When boiling, add in batches of the veggie and parboil for a minute.  Dish out and place on a plate and finish the rest of the veggie.  After you are finished, pour some oyster sauce on top and garnish it with fried shallots to serve.  Mix well before eating.  Super duper easy right?  You can find this veggie at most of the Asian supermarkets.  I loved the dark green color so I often buy this veggie.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stir-Fried Garlic Chive Flowers with Frozen Tofu (韮菜炒凍豆腐)

I saw a frozen tofu post at Food 4 Tots and was so intriguing that I just had to try it out.  Frozen tofu was new to me and after I tried it, I really liked it.  Frozen tofu is also known as Thousand Layer Tofu (千葉豆腐) and is pretty common in Taiwan.  Simply drain the tofu, wrap in cling wrap and into a ziplock bag and freeze. Just thaw overnight in the refrigerator and squeeze out the excess water before using.  The resulted texture was spongy and porous as ice crystals develop within the tofu when freeze.  Thus resulting in the formation of large cavities that seem to be layered.  The spongy thaw frozen tofu can absorb the sauce or marinade really well, therefore the end result was more flavorful than the normal tofu.  I was sold at first try and hope you will try it too.  The nutritional value of tofu is not lost if you freeze it.  What a great way to store the tofu that near or just pass the expiry date. ;-)

This is a picture of my thawed and water squeezed out tofu, preparing for cutting.  Really looked like a sponge huh?

I served up my frozen tofu with garlic chive flowers or kucai hua as we Malaysian called it.   You can easily spot garlic chive flowers at the Asian supermarket.  It has a distinct flavor and most kids don't like it.  So, one woman was surprised when she saw that my girls ate this.  Well, they were trained to eat Asian food when born, so to me it's good for them.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Singapore Chili Crabs

Just sharing a picture of my Singapore Chili Crabs.  I added the "tang hoon" or glass vermicelli to soak up the sauce (too lazy to prepare mantou).  However I added it too early and thus it was all broken out.  I won't be sharing this recipe as it was not perfected.  I had better Singapore Chili Crabs at my Singapore friend's house.  One of the reasons of the broken glass vermicelli was I did a taste test and found it lacking and thus I had to add a few other things and therefore more stirring.

However, my two girls enjoyed this crabs a lot.  I guess they didn't know the real taste or what it supposed to taste like so they couldn't compare and thought this was good.  It was a good lesson for them to learn how to eat crab on their own.  Edda was good at using a toothpick to pick up the crab meat from the claws and this mommy happily enjoying her crabs too.

Looking forward to teaching them how to peel the shrimp shells too, that should be easier than crab.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Farmers' Market Picked

We went to a Farmers' Market at Old Colorado City recently and I enjoyed the experience.  I picked up these round summer squash which was called "Geode", it was light green and tasted like zucchini.  The round shape makes it suitable to sandwich with your burger.  I also picked up some sweet yellow onions and yellow carrots.  The easiest and tasty way to enjoy these vegetable is by grilling them or roasting it in the oven.  I took out some chicken tenders and seasoned it with some extra virgin olive oil, salt, rosemary, peppers, and sage.  I also added some yellow and red bell peppers.  Thus far, I have only seen "Geode" selling in the farmers' market here.  From my experience, don't pick the big one as it will have bigger seeds.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Custard Raisin Buns

The inspiration from creating this custard buns came from chatting with a Chinese chef whose friend owns a baking store up in Denver.  He told me his friend used custard powder in making his bread and said I should try it.  I have used custard powder in cookies and Malaysian kuih (dessert) before but never in bread/buns so I was up to the challenge.  I added raisins for the extra sweetness so that this bun could be enjoyed as it without extra jam or preserves.

The custard powder gave it a light yellow hue and smelled fragrant.  This bun turned out soft and fluffy with extra sweetness from the raisins.  Oh, if you are wondering why my middle bun look like that, I actually wanted to try something new but failed.  I cut the four sides of the bun with a scissor when proofed just for experiment and realized that I should cut it before it was proofed.  Since cutting the bun sort of deflated the bun slightly.  Well learned a lesson here.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Sambal Fried Tofu/ Sambal Fried Beancurd

This dish paired well with rice or coconut rice (nasi lemak), the spiciness from this dish would get you going and asked for extra rice.  Cut the extra firm tofu into pieces, pat dry and pan-fried in oil until golden brown.  Then, prepare your favorite sambal sauce and add in the fried tofu.  Sorry, I won't be sharing with you my  sambal sauce recipe.  But I am sure you already have your favorite sambal recipe that you cooked for your family that could be used in this dish.  I also tried it with pan-fried hard boiled eggs which was equally delicious.

I used a spoon to scoop off the chili and onion from the tofu before passing it to my girls.  I gave them 3 pieces each which they finished it all with glasses of water.  Not bad I would say because this sambal was really spicy, even I was sweating from eating this.  I think they have discovered that spicy food are delicious thus they have developed the tolerance for it.