Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pan-Fried Stuffed Lotus Roots

Eating lotus root is auspicious for Chinese as we believed that eating it during Chinese New Year will foster the grow of your new venture or business.  When I saw this dish on Chinese T.V. cooking show, I thought that it would be perfect for Chinese New Year.  And then I saw a similar dish at a Taiwanese cooking show, was it asking me to make it?  Haha...  Anyway, it looked delicious and I couldn't wait to try it myself.  Sharing here is my version.  I served it with a sauce so that the stuffed lotus root remain crispy.  A bit time consuming to make this but the result is well worth the effort.

Today is also 人日.  The 7th day of Chinese New Year and also everyone birthday.  祝大家人日快乐!! This day people normally celebrate it with longevity noodle, tang yuen (glutinous balls), yee sang (raw fish salad) and another great feast!

Crispy stuffed lotus root drizzled with scallion garlic soy sauce.  Click next for the step-by-step pictures guide.

I am also sharing this recipe with Aspiring Bakers #15: Auspicious Dishes for CNY hosted by Wen's Delight.  The deadline for submission has been extended to Feb 6th, the last day of CNY.  So go see the roundup on the 7th!  :-)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Frozen Tofu with Shiitake and Dried Lily Buds

Dried lily buds (金針菜) is also called golden needle vegetable but don't confuse it with dried golden needle mushroom (dried enoki mushroom) as they look almost similar.  Usually found in Asian supermarket where they sell dried woodear and mushroom.  Once open, I would keep it in a Ziploc bag and in the refrigerator.  When you want to use it, you need to soften it in the water first.  I often see dried lily buds in auspicious Chinese dishes because it symbolizes wealth for the Chinese when celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year.  Shiitake mushroom symbolizes longevity + opportunity and yellow color tofu symbolizes wealth and happiness (like dried beancurd stick and fried tofu puff).  Since frozen tofu is yellow in color and yellow means gold in Chinese, it should symbolizes wealth and happiness.  Whereas the fresh white tofu is not included as it is unlucky for new year as the color white means death and misfortune. You can braise your tofu in a sauce to change the color or pan-fried the tofu until golden before stir-frying to change your luck if you are superstitious like me.

This would make a great vegetarian Chinese New Year dish too!   The frozen tofu cubes and mushrooms soaked up all the flavor of the sauce and made this dish such a plus!  Imagine biting into the spongy and juicy cubed tofu and flavorful mushrooms!!

I am sharing this recipe with Aspiring Bakers #15: Auspicious Dishes for CNY hosted by Wen's Delight.  Go check out the roundup on Feb 1st.  I know I will!  :-)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Korean Mungbean Flatcake (Nokdu Buchimgae)

While flipping through a Korean cookbook, one pancake or flatcake dish stood up to me.  Because it used ground mung bean paste as a batter and it really intriguing me.  I never seen it in Malaysian cooking and it spiked my curiosity.  Furthermore, this recipe appeared again and again in several different cookbooks.  They are all different but one thing for sure is the ground mung bean paste.  Hence, I set to work with my own version with what I have at home and replaced the kimchi with spicy radish.   Instead of raw beef or pork, I used leftover fried chicken breast which I took off the skin and cut off the fried part.  Since everything were cooked, I just pan-fried until the flatcake became crispy and the middle no longer soft, you can press with your finger or spatula.

It can be called Jun or Buchimgae and you can make it all vegetarian by omitting the poultry or meat.  It will be as delicious!  Korean served this dish to welcome the new year too.  With this post, I want to wish all Korean a happy lunar new year!

Verdict:  I loved it!!  All seem to be married well together, the crispy bite on the outside and the soft and fluffy inside and the slightly nutty taste from the ground mung bean, what can I say but I will certainly make this again!  Since I seasoned the batter (oh well the Chinese in me, got to season everything!), it's good even without the sauce but tastes even better with the sauce. 

Crispy on the outside, soft and slightly nutty inside, so good!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Happy Lunar New Year and Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Wishing all my readers a prosperous, happy and healthy Chinese New Year!!  Be glad that you get to spend quality time with your family and relative.  Nothing beat reunion dinner and the continuous visiting in relatives' houses for more eats and ang pows (red packet).

The things that I was most looking forward to Chinese New Year when I was young were wearing new clothes and shoes and visiting both grandmas and relatives.  Eating the Chinese New Year sweets, cookies and all the auspicious food and not forgetting receiving the red packets as well wishes.  Playing with fire crackers were fun too and I especially loved the atmosphere back home, very festive.  Moving here, I still try to provide my girls with these CNY tradition, except they don't get to visit both their grandparents and relatives.  We have friends instead.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Red Dates and Dried Longan Konnyaku Jelly

The idea of making this came from Gina Choong.  She has a blog Taste of Time and a baking supply store in Singapore.  Go visit her and her store if you are in Singapore, she is pretty popular!  Do visit her blog for more information.  I have known her before I started this blog in her Kitchen Capers forum, so back in 2004?  Wow, we go way back and we haven't even met once.  I hope I will get to meet her at her store when I am in Singapore in the future.  I will make an effort to go see her and surprise her!  :)  Actually one of the members in her forum encouraged me to write a food blog and see where I am today?  Without her persistent, I won't even know what is blogging back then.  Thank you!

I saw a picture of this at Gina's FB (well different mold but basically the same thing) and thought it would make such a great Chinese New Year dessert!  I had never tried using Chinese tea in making konnyaku jelly before hence the kick was there (I love to challenge myself in new thing) and that was all the motivation I needed.  I chose this pineapple mold because pineapple "Ong lai" means prosperity in Chinese.  Jujube (red date) means wealth, prosperity and fertility (I don't need this, haha) and longan (龙眼, dragon eye) means many good son (well for the married couples who want a son).  For Chinese, we have an old tale that if you are pregnant and someone older in your family dream of a dragon, you are highly carrying a son.

With that said, I am sharing this dessert with Aspiring Bakers #15: Auspicious Dishes for CNY hosted by Wen's Delight.  Go check out the roundup on Feb 1st.  :-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

LCOM's Pizzelle (Chocolate Orange Pizzelle)

My only new cookie for this year, 2012.  By all means, this is not the usual pizzelle cookies, but just a cookie I created that uses a pizzelle press to make.  I was not as impressed with my previous recipe because I thought the rice flour taste was too strong.  Hence, in this recipe, I reduced the rice flour and replaced it with all-purpose flour, added cocoa powder and orange extract and made it into a Chocolate Orange flavored pizzelle.  I loved the pairing of chocolate and orange and this pizzelle remains crispy once baked.

Perhaps the color was not as appetizing (since I used specially dark cocoa powder) but I do love the taste of orange and cocoa powder.  I managed to get rid of the rice flour taste too.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Super Easy Steamed Nian Gao (tikoy)(简易年糕)

It is auspicious for Chinese to eat nian gao/sticky rice cake during Chinese New Year as 年糕 symbolizes "Nian Nian Gao Sheng" 年年高升 which is wishing you to have a higher position in your job and also to increase your prosperity year after year.  Sticky rice also means family unity and togetherness.  So, it is good luck to eat nian gao. 

After attempting a steamed nian gao last year that was kinda hard.  I wanted to create a recipe that is easier to do and softer.  I saw a video on YouTube and see how the traditional nian gao was made and it took 12 hours.  The long hours were needed to caramelized the white sugar to make the nian gao.  I don't want to spend 12 hours in my kitchen and keep adding water to my steamer.  So, this recipe was created.  I used the American brown sugar to cut out the first step in my previous recipe, as it dissolved easily in hot water.  All you need is a bowl and a whisk and a weight machine, then just mix all three ingredients in the same bowl and prepare to steam.  This recipe is especially shared by me to overseas moms who want to pass down the Chinese New Year tradition to your kids and want short-cut!

As you can see, I turned it over to cool on my wire rack.  You definitely learned from your mistake!  Next time I would turn it over and cool on a flat surface so that it would be smooth.  I also decorated the middle with a half red date (I have no intention of eating the red date so I didn't bother to cook it, if you wish to eat it, you will have to place the red date in when it was half cooked, about 30-40 minutes into the steaming).  As I didn't lined my bowl with banana leaves or parchment paper (I just sprayed it with oil), I was afraid that if I left it in the bowl to cool, it might harden and stick to the bowl.  So, I turned it out to cool when it was out of the steamer.   You can also choose to line your bowl with parchment paper at the bottom and just oil the sides of the bowl.

Verdict:   I am very happy with this as the nian gao was really soft on the first day.  My girls and I tried some on the 2nd day and it was still soft and sticky!  The above nian gao had been harden for three days at room temperature and as you can see, it was no longer soft and sticky (This is the time for pan-frying).  Or you can just heat it up in the microwave for 20-25 seconds (900 watts) or 15 seconds (1100 watts), and it would turn right back to soft and sticky!  It might not be as fragrant as the caramelized sugar version that was steamed for 12 hours but I am happy with this super easy version.  The fragrant of this came from the American brown sugar that you used.  I will stick to this recipe from now on, all of you are welcome to try this and feedback to me!  Go, go, go make!

With that said, I am sharing this easy nian gao with Aspiring Bakers #15: Auspicious Dishes for CNY hosted by Wen's Delight.  Go check out the roundup on Feb 1st.  :-)

Friday, January 13, 2012

LCOM's Hei Jian (虾煎) Shrimps Omelette

One of my childhood favorites is "oh jian" or Malaysian style oyster omelette.  It is one of the hawker delights and usually we would order this in addition to our dinner (usually fried or soupy noodle).  It has a gelatinous texture and kind of gooey with crispy edges.  Normally serve with sambal.  In Taiwan, they have their own version too which is called "oh ah jian" but theirs was ladle with a lot of sauce.  This starch mixture recipe of mine came from a Taiwanese cooking show.  I adapted their flour ratios and played with the water amount.  I failed the first attempt which created a hard starch and not gelatinous.

Okay, now you should have noticed mine is "hei jian" (shrimp) and not "oh jian" (oyster).  Well frankly I loved the eggs and the gelatinous texture but not necessarily the oyster, also I wanted the convenience of eating it whenever I feel like it and not rushing out to buy the oyster.  But of course you can substitute the shrimp with oyster or simply use both.  But this shrimps omelette pancake (虾煎) can definitely satisfied my cravings.

One think I need to note though.  It is not easy to fry an excellent omelette, it takes skill.  I still need to play with it some more as I don't have the feel yet.  Since I love the gelatinous texture, I might want to add more, but more doesn't means good as the outcome with eggs won't come out great.  It needs to have a balance and I haven't gotten it yet.  I got the starch mixture right but I haven't gotten the technique right yet, I still need lots of practices.  If you know how to fry a killer Malaysian style oyster omelet, please share your technique with me.  Thank you in advance!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Taro Chips

When I saw this recipe posted at Simple Recipes, I just had to try it.  I love taro and heart taro chips, so her easy instruction of making taro chips got me interested.  She has some step-by-step pictures at her blog (link provided below), so you can hop over to have a look.

This taro chip is crispy yet a bit hard.  It's like the other fruit and veggie chips that we bought.  I thought this would make an excellent Chinese New Year snack too.  It must be good as my hubby finished the whole thing and left me with an empty bottle!! 

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Barley Brown Rice (薏米糙米饭)

I guess I never satisfied with brown rice alone.  I have read that barley is good for us.  It is a very good source of fiber, selenium, niacin, phosphorus, magnesium, copper and manganese. The health benefits include aids regulatory, lower cholesterol, intestinal protection (the insoluble fibers feed friendly bacteria and this friendly bacteria prevent the disease causing bacteria to stay in the intestinal tract), prevent gallstones in women, lower risk of type 2 diabetes, and etc.

In Malaysia, we have barley drink.  In Korea, they have toasted barley tea (I wanted to try this, but always forgot to look for toasted barley while in the Asian/Korean market).  They have barley and beans rice in Korea too.  So, I tried to incorporate some barley into my brown rice so that I can eat it more often.  I experienced with 1/2 cup of barley with 1 1/2 cups of brown rice and it was delicious.  I think my family couldn't tell a difference if I didn't tell them.  Slowly, I want to add more barley into my brown rice and play with the ratio some more.

Make sure you buy hulled barley and not pearl barley as pearl barley is not considered whole grain as the outer hull and bran had been stripped during processing. But if you can't find hulled barley, pearl barley is still good.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Korean Seasoned Spinach (Shigumchi Namul)

My version of Korean seasoned spinach.  A common banchan served with Korean meal or in restaurants.  I wanted to keep the original color yet well seasoned, no soy sauce in this.  Next time I would prepare two bunches of spinach so that I would have some leftover for vegetarian bibimbap the next day.  One bunch doesn't make a lot and if you want some leftover, make more.

I feel healthy by eating Korean vegetarian banchan, either the pickled one or seasoned one.  Does anyone knows how long I can keep this seasoned spinach in the refrigerator? 

Monday, January 02, 2012

Stir-Fried Dried Anchovies (Meddruchi Bokkeum)

I tried this soy sauce version at one Korean BBQ buffet place that we went to and was impressed.   It was different from Myulchi Bokkeum and had some green chili on it.  I loved this soy sauce version too so I wanted to recreate it at home.  I added red bell pepper and onion in mine.  You can omit the red bell pepper but don't omit the onion as it went really well with this dish.  This dish can be spicy, it depends on the green chili that you use and how hot they are.  My green chili was not hot at all so it didn't turn out spicy but sweet and savory.  I duplicated it pretty well and close to the one that I had tried.  My hubby finished the whole bowl!!  Luckily I saved some away for bibimbap the next day.  This is part of a banchan or side dish of a typical Korean meal.  Enjoy!  And as you know I welcome feedback.  :)