Monday, March 23, 2015

客家板麺 Malaysian Hakka Pan Mee

Do you prefer Pan Mee or Mee-Hoon-Kuay?

Some says they are the same. Some argues that they are different, but that's due to the shape of the noodles. Pan Mee (
板麺pronounced as Ban Mian in mandarin) is a Hakka-Style noodle, originating from Malaysia. Some translate it as "flat flour noodle", while some, translate it as "board noodle".

Flour hand-kneaded into dough traditionally torn into smaller pieces of dough by hand, but such laborious work is conveniently replaced by machine that can produce variety of shapes. Pan Mee typically served in soup, together with dried anchovies, minced pork, mushrooms and leafy vegetables. In my hometown, 树仔菜 (aka pucuk manis / manicai 马尼菜) is used.

My grandmother used to cook this delicious noodles for us. Usually she will let us have our choices of Pan Mee or mee-hoon-kway, and she will prepare the dough accordingly. That's one of the sweetest childhood memory. All she need is pack of flour, some anchovies and vegetables. She can cook up a comforting bowl of soup dish for everyone in the house. My grandmother has 12 child. My mom is the youngest, the last amongst the 12th. I haven't even tell you the number of grandchild she have. You can imagine that now. My grandmother is a wonder woman!


Because this is a very simple noodle soup dish, the soup plays a very important role in the preparation of Pan Mee. I've seen variations in soup base preparations. But for my grandmother, she use only dried anchovies and soya bean for the soup. Yes. Only two ingredients, but it makes great and flavorful soup base. Sometimes, the simpler it is, the better it taste.

I'm very straightforward and I'm not afraid to tell you. I don't have my grandma's exact recipe. I only vaguely remember what are the main ingredients my grandma use. I found Alan's recipe is the closest to my grandma's simplicity. So, I just followed, but with minor modifications.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
(Source : Alan, with slight modification)

for Soup
  • 65g Dried Anchovies (aka Ikan Bilis 江鱼仔)
  • 180g Soya Beans (黄豆)
  • 10 cups of water
  • 1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
for Noodles
  • 250g Plain Flour or All-Purpose Flour 
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 5-7 tbsp water, adjust according to dough texture
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil 
  • flour for dusting
for Minced Meat Sauce
  • 300g Minced Pork (绞肉), preferably ground pork belly
  • 4 Chinese Mushrooms (香菇), soaked till soft, cut into strips
  • 2 Black Wood Ear Fungus (黑木耳), soaked till soft, cut into strips
  • 4 cloves Garlic, peeled, chopped finely
  • 5 Shallots, peeled, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 2 tbsp Dark Soya Sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp Oyster Sauce, adjust to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp Sugar, adjust to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp Corn Flour, to be mixed with mushroom soaking water
other ingredients
  • a bunch of 树仔菜 (aka pucuk manis) or Choy Sum 菜心 or any of your favorite green leafy vegetables that serves 4 sharing. 
  • 4 Eggs
  • Fried crispy anchovies 
  • Fried crispy shallots (optional)

Variation
  1. For the soup, there are some Pan Mee sellers likes to add pork bones into the soup to create extra sweetness. Some uses soya beans, some don't. But the general rule is... dried anchovies should be there.
  2. My grandma will only provide minced meat sauce and eggs when her budget allows. Eggs are usually cracked onto the soup and cook together with the noodles. It would be too costly for her to add eggs on every serving. 
  3. I personally prefers 树仔菜 (aka pucuk manis), but when first preference is not available, I shall go for my alternative Choy Sum 菜心.
  4. Fried crispy shallots is optional. But most Pan Mee stalls provide this topping. 

Method (for the soup)
  1. Give dried anchovies and soya beans a quick rinse.
  2. Soak soya bean in hot water for 20mins. Using both finger tips, rub away the skin from the soya beans. This is quite tedious. You can choose to skip this step if you are feeling lazy. 
  3. In a large soup pot, add 2 tbsp of cooking oil, add in anchovies, stir fry anchovies till fragrant. 
  4. Add in water and prepared soya beans, and bring to a boil. Lower flame to simmer with lid on for 20mins. Season with salt, turn off flame and leave to steep. 

Using both finger tips rub away the skin from the soya beans.


Stir fry anchovies till fragrant before adding in water. Fried anchovies will give you more flavorful soup.

Method (for the noodles)
  1. Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Form a 'well' in the middle and crack in the eggs.
  2. Add cooking oil and begin to combine everything together, adding water slowly by individual tablespoons until a non-sticky dough is obtained
  3. Dough needs to be kneaded repeatedly until smooth and uniform in color. 
  4. Cover dough with cloth and set aside to rest for 30 to 40 mins to relax the gluten. 
  5. After resting the dough long enough, go back to the dough by first dividing the dough into 4 portions. 
  6. Using pasta machine, process individual dough portions by repeatedly laminating and thinning the dough into elongated flat sheets before cutting into taligatelle-like strands. Dust some flour on the noodles to prevent noodles from sticking together. If pasta machine is not available, simply roll dough with rolling pin, on a flat surface dusted with flour, into elongated sheets before folded the dusted sheets slightly and cutting into strips. 
  7. If you are making mee-hoon-kuay, simply hand stretch the flat sheets dough into desired free-style shapes accordingly.

Method (for the meat sauce)
  1. In a saucepan, heat up 2 tbsp cooking oil. Add chopped garlic and shallots, stir-fry until shallots turned translucent and aromatic. 
  2. Add minced pork followed by all seasoning and stir-fry until meat is cooked and uniform in color. 
  3. Add in mushrooms strips, black wood ear fungus strips, and some mushroom soaking water. Stir well and cover with lid. Leave to simmer over medium low heat for 10mins. 
  4. Add some corn starch mixed with some mushrooms soaking water to thicken the sauce. 
  5. Dish up, covered, and set aside. 

Everything is prepared for the meat sauce.


Meat sauce is well cooked and in uniform color.

Method (to cook pan mee)
  1. Prepare two heavy saucepan. One side is 2 ladle cups of boiled water, another side is 2 ladle cups of soup base. Bring both to a boil
  2. Add a serving of noodles into the boiling water saucepan, cook noodles for a minute. Transfer half-cooked noodles into the soup base saucepan, and add a serving of vegetables. Adjust your cooking time accordingly.
  3. When noodles are cooked, crack an egg into the middle of the pot and leave it with lid on briefly for about 20 secs for the white to cook slightly.
  4. Ladle everything into a serving bowl, try not to break the yolk. Garnish generously with one portion of meat sauce, fried crispy anchovies, fried crispy shallots and serve!
You can, of course skip the part of using boiling water saucepan. You can just throw in your noodels and just cook it in the soup straightaway. However, the noodles will make your soup broth looked cloudy and thickened a little. I personally prefers to half-cook the noodles in boiling water first, as this step allows me to have nicer and clearer broth.

Pan Mee... Long, flat striped noodles.


While mee-hoon-kuay is free-style shaped flat dough by simply hand stretch the flat sheets dough in organic forms. There's no rocket science. Everyone can do this. To me. it should look homely and comforting. There's no rules here.


Look at my Pan Mee soup. The soup is quite clear and less cloudy compared to those selling outside. Although there's extra effort in cooking process, but this will make your noodles taste better in overall.


In Kuala Lumpur, Klang Valley, there's a popular version of Pan Mee that is prepared dry version. Everything is the same, just that they are without the soup, fiery dry chillies flakes are added, topped with some spring onions and stirred into noodles. That's another great way of enjoying Pan Mee.

Maybe next time I will try making dried version of Pan Mee.


I love this soup noodles. I think everyone should make this at home at least once. This just involves a few ingredients, and I guarantee you that this is a great bowl of comfort food, and something easy to prepare for weekend lunch for family.

So.... do you prefer pan mee? or mee-hoon-kuay?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Annielicious Food Blogspot is 3 now!!!

Dear Readers, 

Today marked the 3rd year anniversary ever since I started writing Annielicious Food Blogspot.


For those who know me, you will know how hard I'd been trying to find work / life balance all along. For those who doesn't know me, for your info, I have a full-time job, and blogging recipes will only happen over the weekend. The intention of writing this blog is for my personal record, my way of penning down some of my tried and tested recipes, hoping to share knowledge with my future children (if I'd ever have one). If I'd grow old one day, I would worry that I'd forgotten what I've added into the dish and I'm not able to do knowledge transfer to my child.

And so, I never thought my recipes could go any further. But, I started to feel the change in society. Modern women's doesn't walk into the kitchen as much as our parent's era do. Eating out is so convenient nowadays. But I'm a person who always believes in... as long as there's food on the dining table, your family members will come home for you. 

I asked myself how much I could do to change it? At least some little effort from me? How I could encourage fellow young women's in this modern society to cook and bring some joy to their family? I thought, maybe improve my way of writing my blog to ensure every details are recorded down? I don't know. But this might be one possible or better way to encourage readers to start cooking. But at the same time, things are getting tougher when my I set expectations on myself in writing recipes. I read more, I learn more, and I'm still learning. And you guys are the one who gave me the reason to do this. 

My writing is not detailed enough is something I worry always. I don't know why. But if you wonder what I did in order to come up with a recipe post? Read this :
  1. Finding the right weekend schedule to cook (I'm not a full-time blogger)
  2. The right time to go to the right place or market to get the fresh ingredients (Sometimes I need to run a few places just to gather all the specific ingredients I wanted), 
  3. The right amount of food to prepare for the total hungry tummies,
  4. The right cooking or baking heat and time (Especially first attempt on new dishes or bakes),
  5. Penning down every possible details in the kitchen to ensure nothing is forgotten later,
  6. Take photos of every preparation and cooking steps, while ensuring my food is not over-cooked (I have poor memory sometimes),
  7. Wishing for the best natural light to take better photos (If the sunlight is not good on that day, it kills the photo taking, and it's as good as killing me!), 
  8. Photo taking must be quick, so as to ensure hungry tummies doesn't eat cold dishes, 
  9. Time spent on photo editing and writing every details on the blog (It's quite time-consuming actually).
  10. Proof-reading before hitting the "Publish" button, so as to ensure no wrong information is written (although I admit that I didn't do proof-reading during busy times)
  11. Did I left out anything?
The road is never easy, but till now, I'm still learning.... 



I'm surprised that I'd actually able to persevere until now, and still, continue blogging recipes. But looking back, I don't think this blog is possible without these people :

My Husband, Max - He is the driver who drives me around to source for ingredients without even complain once until today. He is the supporter, the encouragement, the guinea pig, the audience, the judge, and my biggest fan! He would finish all the left-over food that I cooked. He spoilt me with lots of kitchen toys, wash all the dishes after I messed the kitchen (this is unconditional love!). He can even go all way out to buy good ingredients for me wherever he go. The time when he lugged 1kg of Prosciutto Di Parma from Germany. Ohh... I love this man more than my life!

My Mother, Mdm Chai - She gave me lots of classic recipes, cooking tips that doesn't teach on cookbooks and online. Her recipe always appear on my blog if you noticed. She taught me lots of lessons in life that can never be found in textbooks. She's my absolute inspiration and aspiration!

My Mother-In-Law, Mdm Leong - She always loves promoting my cooks and bakes to her friends. Although sometimes I couldn't understand why she'd want to give-away my failed bakes (yes, I do fail sometimes, I'm not afraid to tell you.), but I know she'd probably feels proud of her daughter-in-law who bake, cook, and write. 

Alan, Travelling Foodies - This guy is the best (male) cook that I've ever met in SG so far. Very detailed and precise person in cooking and baking. I've learnt alot from him. And not to mention, he'd probably the one who's there to listen to most of my nonsensicality and ranting through the entire 3 years of blogging. Developing a strong friendship is never easy and it takes alot of effort. Thank you for being with me through good and bad times, my friend. I love you man! 

Wendy, Wendyinkk Blogspot - This woman is amazing! She's my most respected recipe blogger ever! If I were to nominate someone to go for Master Chef competition, she would be the one. We have complicated relationship here. She is my school-mate, my senior in Secondary School Girl's Brigade. Her mom knows some of my family member during our young days. Back in 2012, we found each other on Facebook, we reunite, and she is the one who encourage me to start writing down my recipe on blogspot. She taught me alot along the way. She seems to know everything that I can't even find it online! She pushed me hard to learn even more! I love you Wendy!

All Readers - Thank you for loving my recipe. Knowing that my recipe may not be the best, but you guys choose to believe me and give it a try. Everytime when I receive feedback from you guys, telling me how much your family members enjoyed the food, it makes me smile, and all the tough times (being a recipe blogger) is all gone. With both palms pressed together, I thank every one of you. 

Coming forward, I wish I would have more time to come up with more recipes and many more years to come. It is about how much I could do to encourage women in the society to cook and bring joy to their family. Thank you everyone for loving me. 



Lots of Love, 
Annie Mok

Friday, February 13, 2015

Kueh Bangkit (Melt-In-Mouth Coconut Cookies)

Max asked for Kueh Bangkit this year. When I asked him to describe what kind of specific bangkit he wants, he says "You know? That sweet-powdery softness and warms your mouth with the fragrance of pandan and packed with coconut flavor?"

Ohh,,, he has a specific request!


Ever since I started learning baking, Kueh Bangkit was never on my to-bake list. Not until Max asked me to do so. Kueh Bangkit is one of his favorite Chinese New Year cookies. Obviously (refer to above on how he describe that)

In my childhood memory, my faint recall was that Kueh Bangkit is sweet, chalky, packed with coconut flavor, and melt-in-mouth. When I said melt, it really melts IMMEDIATELY in the mouth. The moment the cookies touches the tongue, it melts. Yes. That's the one! 


When I grew up, moved to Singapore for work, everything has turned commercialized. Unlike my home-town Kampar that sells home-made cookies during my childhood times. They do, still have some in Singapore, but really good ones? You've got to be lucky to find one. I started to dislike Kueh Bangkit ever since store-bought bangkits invaded the market. Bangkits displayed on the supermarket or neighbourhood bakeries didn't attract me at all. This is where I stopped having interest on Bangkit. 

I tell myself, if I want to make, I will make the one that makes me find back at least 70% of my faint childhood feel (probably). If not, I won't consider my bangkit a success. So, this post is to share with you my experience on my attempts on Kueh Bangkit.  


As usual, before I start experimenting something, I will make sure I do some reading. I flipped through some cookbooks, check out the online recipes. Comparing the liquid and dry ingredients ratio, I finally settled with fatboo's recipe that sounds really convincing. 

Some people tells me that Kueh Bangkit is easy to make. But mind you, they are easy to fail too. So, becareful on that. To ensure my first attempt a success, I followed the recipe obediently without tweaking it. This also means, I followed the particular ingredients (and the brand) mentioned on the recipe. Only on the 2nd and 3rd attempt, I then tweaked the recipe abit. So, please... be good. For best chances of success, just follow as I said. 


This recipe ask for Ayam Brand Premium Coconut Cream and Sago Flour. Max hunt these two ingredients up and down for me and it is not avail. We managed to found Sago Flour at Sheng Siong Clementi. For the coconut cream, he is so smart enough to call Ayam Brand Singapore to ask for it. Later, we learnt that Ayam Brand Premium Coconut Cream is named as Pure Coconut Cream in Singapore. So, same content, different name I guess. According to Ayam Brand staff, this particular Coconut Cream gives the most similar quality as the freshly squeezed coconut milk in the market. It contains nothing else except coconut cream (no stabilizer).  

DISCLAIMER : This is NOT a sponsored post. Because this Coconut Cream really brings out its good flavor. I feel that I should credit and recommend this coconut cream to you guys to ensure higher chances of success in attempt. And please remember, this recipe ask for coconut CREAM, not coconut milk. Becareful. 


Ingredients
(Source : Fatboo, with modification after my 3rd attempt)
  • 800g Sago Flour (2 packs of 400gm)
  • 10 to 12 Pandan Leaves (Screwpine Leaves)
  • 240gm Ayam Brand Pure Coconut Cream
  • 300gm Icing Sugar (Originally ask for 200gm) *See Note
  • 3 Egg yolks (medium sized eggs 50 - 55g)
  • Drops of Red coloring (optional)
Note : 
  1. I increased Icing sugar from 200g to 300g Icing Sugar on my 2nd and 3rd attempt, and I swear that it does taste better! The existence of Sugar enhances the coconut flavor.   
  2. This recipe makes approx. 330 Bangkits, depends on the cookies thickness. I've got 220 out of this recipe. So, I assume that my cookies is thicker than Fatboo's one. 
  3. The existence of red coloring is to add some festive feel to the overall look of the bangkit. It's absolutely optional.  

Flour Preparation

10 - 12 Pandan Leaves : Wash and wipe with paper towels till dry. Cut into desired lengths. 

800g Sago Flour : In a big wok, fry sago flour over low heat for 10 mins. Stirring all the time to ensure the flour is not burnt. The initial frying stage would be lumpy and hard to stir. 

Cut Pandan Leaves : Add it into the flour and continue to fry another 10mins till flour is light and the pandan leaves are dried and crinkled. The flour will become dry and flies up when stirred. This indicates that the flour is ready. 

Note : 
  1. You may not be able to finish the Sago Flour at the end of the baking process. But it's better to prepare more as some will be used for managing the dough, flouring the pastry board and so on. Read on, experience it, and you will know. 
  2. You can prepare the flour one day in advance (or upto 5 days in advance), as the flour needs to cool down completely before you can use them. 
  3. It is highly advisable to leave the fried sago flour overnight to ensure that it is completely cooled. Once it is cooled, sift and store the prepared flour in air-tight container.



Pastry Preparation

1) In one bowl, stir 240gm Coconut Cream and 200gm Icing Sugar with hand whisk till sugar dissolved and mixture turned semi-greyish thick sugary solution.

2) In another bowl, whisk 3 Egg Yolks and the remaining 100gm Icing Sugar under high speed till creamy white and sugar is dissolved.

3) Lower speed, add in (3) coconut sugar solution and whisk till well mixed.

4) With a wooden spatula, add in 560gm Fried Sago Flour, still till well mixed. *See Photo

5) Cover the dough with a piece of wet cloth to prevent pastry from drying out, let the dough rest awhile.


You only need to mix 560gm Fried Sago Flour into the wet mixture. The rest of the fried sago flour is for you to dust the working top, adding more flour to the sticky dough, dust the rolling pin, and everything else. The pastry is VERY STICKY. In my first attempt, I thought somewhere went wrong, I was worried through the entire experiment as it's not easy to handle.


Rolling and Cutting the Pastry

1) Line pastry board with a piece of clingwrap to prevent it from sticking.

2) Working with a cake scrapper, cut out 1/3 portion of the sticky pastry, sprinkle some fried sago flour over, knead in. You need to add in flour bit by bit till pastry is smooth, soft and pliable.

3) Flour worktop, place pastry on it, roll dough out to to your desired thickness. For all my 3 attempts, I conclude that 6mm thickness is ideal for my personal preference.

4) With cookie cutter, cut out the bangkit, place it on a lined baking tray.

5) Using a skewer or a toothpick, put a tiny dot of red color on the bangkit to give this cookies an overall festive feel.


Baking

Bake in pre-heated oven at 160 degree for 10mins. This initial 10mins is to allow the bangkit to set the design.
Then, reduce the temperature to 130 degree, and continue to bake for a further 10 to 15 mins or till Bangkit is very light beige in color. Keep an eye on it. Gauge it yourself. Your oven and my oven temperament might not be the same.

In the original recipe, it mentioned 160 degree for 10mins and 130 degree for 20mins. I tried, but I think 10mins + 10mins is sufficient. So, always feel it yourself. Because your bangkit thickness might be different from mine.


And this is how it looked when it is out of the oven, The hairline cracks on top of the cookies looked quite nice tho. And the little red dot makes the whole bangkit looked nice. I like!


It takes me 3 attempts to understand certain tricks. I learn new things in every baking experiment. For this bangkit, here's my sharing ...

My 1st attempt : Followed the original recipe obediently. Taste and smells good, but not sweet enough to my liking. Fragile cookies, definitely need alot of tender-loving-care. And it does melt-in-the-mouth very quickly as promised. I'm satisfied, and I consider this a success. Max says this gives him childhood feel. I don't know how true.

My 2nd attempt : I tried tweaking the recipe by using 80% sago flour and 20% tapioca flour, and increased sugar from 200g to 300g. The result, taste and smells better with the enhancement in sweetness. But cookies texture is not what I expected. The cookies is 'crunchy'! And yes, it does melt-in-the-mouth, but it melts VERY slowly... Duh! I don't know why, but I consider this is a failure because the cookies texture is not what I wanted. My MIL literally 'promote' it to her friends who came to our house. And I also don't know why this failed bangkit is a crowd pleaser. *face-palm*

My 3rd attempt : This is the recipe written as above. 100% sago flour, 300g sugar. Result was satisfactory. Cukup lemak, cukup wangi, cukup manis (literally means enough of coconuty, enough of sweetness, and nice fragrance in Malay). Although the cookies is still on the fragile side, they are better than the 1st attempt. But to be honest, you can't expect tough cookies to give you melt-in-the-mouth feel. Usually fragile cookies does. That's the logic I guess. I found the 'feel' on my 3rd attempt. And also, I'd say this is a success!


Kudos to this recipe. These cookies are good and well received. Definitely better than store-bought. I guarantee you this for sure. And yes, I repeat myself again, it does melt-in-the-mouth quicky! I have to say, I love this recipe, I really do.

But is this the perfect recipe? Maybe yes to me, but maybe no to others. I will continue to search for a perfect ones. If you do have one, please do share with me. Ok?


And a quick tips for you. When you arrange the cookies into the container, use chopsticks to do the work, With my clumsy fingers, I just couldn't control it well, I damaged a few cookies during the process. And I quickly use chopsticks to do the rest of the cookies arrangements.




I hope you like this recipe. And if you do, please go ahead and share this recipe with your friends and relatives.

In this New Year, may good luck and prosperity follow everyone of you. Happy New Year everyone!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Salmon Fish Bone Tofu Soup (三文鱼骨豆腐汤)

Milky and light brown fish soup, full of flavor and packed with nutritious goodness. This is what I cooked for my family for dinner tonight. Not only the fish head, there's alot of fish bones in it too! Especially my skinny Mother-In-Law needs alot of nutrients now. Like Calcium, Omega and other goodness. All in this pot of soup.

On a side note... This soup is NOT FISHY all. It depends on how you cook it.


This soup is indeed nutritious, delicious and versatile. You may replace with your favorite vegetables in this recipe. Besides, having a warm fish soup is so comforting especially during the cold season.

I spotted some really fresh Salmon fish head and bones at Chinatown wet market today. Fish monger packed them into a big pack and selling it to me at S$8.00. There's quite alot of meat in the heads and the bones actually. For those who often cook fish soup will know fish bones and head has lots of flavor.

And this is how I prepare this soup....

To prepare :

1. Gently, give the fish head and bones a quick wash. Drain them using kitchen towel. Yes, you will need quite alot of kitchen towels to do the work. But if you did it well, it would make pan-frying easier. Wet fish will makes your pan-frying fish experience turned disaster.


2. Heat up some oil in a wok, add in few slices of ginger, sprinkle some salt. Under medium fire, pan fry the fish head and bones until lightly browned. You don't have to put too much oil. Salmon itself is oily. It will release oil on its own.


3. Let the fish rest on the paper towel to drain up some excess oil.


S$8.00 for all above fish bones and head is definitely too much for today. I divided them into two portion. 1 portion eat fresh, another portion wrap well and freeze away for next week. This means I only paid S$4.00 fish bones and head for 1 recipe.

Ingredients
(Source : Annielicious Food)

  • Some Salmon fish head and fish bones, about S$4.00
  • 2 thumb sized ginger, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed 
  • 1 block of firm tofu
  • 6 stalks of dried mushrooms, soaked till soft
  • 1 stalk of leek
  • slices of daikon
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorn, crushed
  • 1 bird's eye chilli
  • a kettle of hot boiling water... This is important
  • thumb sized rock sugar... This is important
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp Shao Xing Wine (Chinese cooking wine)
  • dashes of pepper
  • Salt to taste
for garnishing
  • some Spring onions
  • some Coriander

As I mentioned earlier, you may replace with your preferred vegetables. If you don't like Salmon, you can use Threadfin bones too. Add in more ginger if your tolerance of fishy smell is low. But as I said right at the beginning, this fish soup is not fishy at all. But that's provided you follow my instructions.

But I have to confess that pan-frying the salmon fish bones do makes your kitchen  smells fishy. It's unavoidable. If you pan-frying fish at home before,  you will know what I mean. So, your kitchen do smells fishy after pan-frying the fish bones. But the soup won't taste fishy. Is that clear now?


Method :

  1. Boil a pot of water. We need hot BOILING water. Don't use room temperature water. 
  2. In a pot or a casserole, heat up a tsp oil, fry the ginger and garlic till fragrant. Add in pan-fried fish bones and head. Cover up with lid, let it fry for 5 to 7 minutes or until the fish bones and head is well heated up. Keep an eye on it, and don't burnt them.
  3. Add in the hot boiling water until the water covers the fish head and bones. This is important. You have to follow this if you wants milky looking fish soup.
  4. Add chinese mushrooms and black peppercorn. Turn fire to high heat and let it boil for 10mins. And then, add tofu, turn to medium low heat, and boil for another 10mins. 
  5. Remove any scums and oil floated on top of the soup during boiling process. Don't be lazy. Try to keep as little oil as you can in the soup.  
  6. Add shao xing wine, rock sugar, fish sauce, and salt. Give it a stir. Taste.
  7. Add in daikon slices and bird's eye chilli, cover lid, continue to boil for another 10mins. Taste the soup, add more salt if needed. Once it is okay, heat off, and leave it there. 
  8. Until you are ready for the meal, reheat the soup, garnish with spring onions and coriander.


Add in the hot boiling water into the the pan-fried bones gives milky looking fish soup base. If you use room temperature water, you might not be able to achieve what you want. I need to re-emphasize, it is HOT BOILING WATER. Don't give me lukewarm water or whatever nots.


Boil the fish head and bones under high heat at the first 10 minutes is also part of the trick that gives milky appearance soup result.


Ooohhh,.. Look at the milky and light brown color! Is this what you want to achieve? If yes, please DO NOT skip any steps that I mentioned earlier. My soup looked clean and very little oil.


Flavorful fish bones soup and some vegetables. Yes, this is simple, economical and absolutely delicious. You don't have to dry up your wallet to eat well.

I still remember how my mother-in-law complaint to me about the fishy smell on her salmon fish bones soup that she tried cooking months ago while I'm away from home. Today, she's actually savoring every last drop of broth in her bowl. I'm glad.


I hope you like it.

Comin' up... I will come up with some Chinese New Year dish. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 19, 2014

BEST Singapore Chilli Crab (辣椒螃蟹) - (AFF - Singapore #2)

When one mention Singapore, who doesn't know Chilli crab? This popular seafood dish had been around since 1956. Fresh crabs stir-fried in a semi-thick. sweet, tangy, savory, tomato and chilli based sauce which will electrify your palate and satisfy your tastebuds.

Arguably one of Singapore's greatest culinary inventions. If you are a fan of seafood, this is one dish that you must try while you're in Singapore.


Don't get cheated by it's red and spicy look. Despite its name, chilli crab is NOT a very spicy dish.

The spicy and tangy sauce is made deliciously fragrant with rempah (spices) and lime or calamansi juice, while corn starch and egg ribbons are added to give the chilli crab dish the fluffy texture at the end of the cooking process. For extra oomph, order some fried mantou to scoop up the thick gravy, which will leave you hankering for more.


I adapted this recipe from Chef Master Classes on his World's BEST Singapore Chilli Crab Recipe, which he mentioned that his recipe is based on a food trip to Punggol Point, Singapore. I don't know how BEST this recipe would be. But by reading the recipe list, I think I wanna use this recipe as a reference. Also, Violet Oon is the brand ambassador of Singapore Food. So, her recipe as a guide will never go wrong I guess.

Ingredients
(Source : Chef Master Classes & Violet Oon's recipe, as a guide, with modification)
  • 2 Mud Crabs or Meat Crabs (or Roe Crabs if you wish) - about 800g each
  • 1 portion Rempah (Refer to below for recipe)
  • 6 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
  • 3 tbsp Sugar
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Tau Cheo (fermented bean paste)
  • 1½ tsp Corn Flour / Tapioca Flour + 1½ tbsp Water
  • 5 tbsp Peanut Oil
  • 1 cup Water (or more)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • some chinese parsley (garnishing)
  • some chillies (garnishing)
  • some spring onions (garnishing)
Accompaniment 
  • Mantous (馒头)  from the supermarket frozen section, thawed. 
  • Enough oil for deep-frying the Mantous (Mixture of 1 : 1 ratio of Butter + Peanut Oil)  



For the rempah (Spices)
  • 6 Shallots
  • 6 Garlic
  • 5 Red Chillies
  • 2 to 3 Bird Eye Chillies, depends on individual
  • 2 Candle Nut
  • 1 thumb sized Galangal (or replaced by Ginger if you don't have Galangal)
  • ½ Green Lime, extract the juices (or use calamansi as alternative)
  • 2 tbsp Belacan Powder (toast your own belacan if you can't find belacan powder)
To prepare the rempah : Put everything in the chopper and blitz away until fine texture is achieved.


To prepare the crab, I'd posted How to clean crabs video last month. Or, below photos shows you roughly how it is cleaned and prepared. And preparing crabs is NOT as difficult as what you imagined. Be COURAGEOUS!!!


Get everything ready before start cooking is the rule. Always remember. Cooking chilli crab is not difficult. But preparing needs time.

Cooking Method 
  1. Heat oil in a wok until very hot. Fry rempah until fragrant. 
  2. Add tau cheo, sugar, salt and tomato ketchup. Stir well. 
  3. Add in crabs, stir well. Then, add water, stir, cover until crab shells turned bright red, indicating that the crab is cooked. 
  4. Beat 2 eggs in a bowl, pour into the sauce at the side, gently mix well. Simmer for another 10 seconds, 
  5. Heat off, dish up, garnish with coriander, spring onions and chillies. Serve with hot deep fried mantous.

This recipe is good. It's a little messy, but worth it for sure. And you can always vary the recipe to your taste. You want it sweeter? Spicier? It's up to you! :)

Max and I scarfed the whole plate of crabs down with all the mantous. It tastes so good with deep fried mantous and it is also good with a bowl of hot rice!


Yummmss!!! Definitely recommended!


Do share with me if you have any better recipe :)


I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest (Singapore) – September Month hosted by Grace Phua of Life can be Simple

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hainanese Chicken Rice (海南鸡饭) - (AFF - Singapore #1)

In conjunction with this month's Asian Food Fest, I cooked Hainanese Chicken Rice (海南鸡饭) for weekend lunch. This dish is very well known here in Singapore and it is considered one of the national dishes. You can find Hainanese Chicken Rice almost everywhere in Singapore!


Hainanese Chicken Rice is a dish adapted from early Chinese immigrants originally from the Hainan province in southern China. It is based on a well-known Hainanese dish called Wenchang Chicken (文昌雞), due to its adoption by the Hainanese overseas Chinese population in the Nanyang area. (Source : Wikipedia)


Bite-sized pieces of blanched white chicken, fragrant rice cooked in chicken broth, delicious ground chilli and spring onion ginger oil. And some likes going with dark soy sauce, some don't. These are common way of eating Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore.

This dish can be simple. But to make it good, you need some patience here. Everything starts from stepping into the market and select the freshest ingredients, picking the right Kampong Chicken (or Free Range Chicken), ensuring the rice is well cooked, and to prepare the condiments well.

My mom always says, Chicken Rice is a simple dish, but this probably can categorized as Kungfu dish (功夫菜). It means the dish is using simple ingredients, but to make it good, it needs alot of attention and every details must be well taken care of.

Chicken should be cooked very lightly, pink inside the bones, not too bloody, and with a gelatinous skin. I'm still learning :)


A lot of effort goes into the preparation of this flavorful dish, with effort of slowly blanching the chicken until it is fully cooked, before immediately soaking it in cold water. This stops the cooking process and ensures that the meat remains tender, and is also why the meat is usually served at room temperature. 

Ingredients 
(Source: My mother-Mdm Chai, her source is from a Hainanese Chicken Rice Stall's owner in SG)

The Chicken
  • 1 Kampong Chicken (or Free Range Chicken), estimated 1kg
  • 5 thick slice Old Ginger, about 35g
  • 2 cloves Garlic, bruised
  • 1 sprig Spring Onion, tied into a knot
  • 2300ml Water (or more)
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
Rendering Chicken Fats 
  • 150g Chicken Fats / Skins
  • 1 tbsp Peanut Oil / Cooking Oil
The Rice
  • 475g Jasmine Rice (95%)
  • 25g Glutinous Rice (5%) (Trade secret)
  • 500ml Chicken Stock
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 8 tbsp Rendered Chicken Fats (Or you can use shallot oil as alternative)
  • 4 strands of Pandan Leaf (Screwpine Leaf), tied into 2 knots
  • 1 stalk Lemon Grass, lightly bruised
  • 4 cloves Garlic, bruised
  • 2 thumb sized Old Ginger, sliced
  • 2 tsp Planta / Margarine (Optional. I didn't use and I don't recommend) (Trade secret)
The Chilli
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 3 Red Chilli
  • 2 Bird Eye Chilli / Cili Padi
  • 1 thumb sized Young Ginger
  • Juice from 3 to 4 Small Calamansi
  • ½ tsp Salt, or more to taste
  • ½ tsp Sugar, or more to taste
  • ¼ tsp MSG (Optional - I didn't use)
  • 1 to 2 tbsp Chicken stock to dilute it. But I'd prefer 2 tbsp Rendered Chicken Oil
  • 1 tsp DelMonte Ketchup (Optional) (Trade secret)
Spring Onion and Ginger Oil (Optional)
  • 100g Old Ginger
  • 25g Spring Onions (or more)
  • 2 tbsp Rendered Chicken Oil
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • ½ tsp Salt, or more to taste
  • ½ tsp Sugar, or more to taste
  • ¼ tsp Chicken Powder (Optional - I didn't use)
Dark Soy Sauce
  • 20g Rock Sugar
  • 30ml Water
  • 50ml Dark Soya Sauce
Dressing for the chicken
  • ½ thumb sized Rock Sugar (Trade secret)
  • 2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shao Xing Wine (绍兴酒), also known as Hua Tiao Wine
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
Garnishing
  • Coriander
  • Sping Onions
  • Cucumber, sliced
Alot of effort goes into the preparation of this flavorful dish yea.

Method - The Chicken
  1. Wash and trim any visible fat from the chicken. Cut away the chicken feet. Stuff old ginger, garlic, spring onions into the cavity of the chicken. 
  2. Bring water to a boil. Once water is boiled, hold the chicken head (refer to photo), soak the chicken body into the boiling water. With your hand still holding the chicken head, lift the chicken up, and soak it into the boiling water again. Do this for 4 times before you release the chicken head and let the chicken soak into the water completely. By doing this, water will go into the chicken cavity completely. This is to ensure that the whole chicken is well cooked.
  3. Keep an eye on the pot. Once you see the water is boiling again, turn to very low heat for 5 mins, and then heat off. Let the chicken sit inside the hot water untouched and covered for 30mins. If your chicken is big, you might need another 5 mins or so. For this part, you have to gauge it on your own. Prepare a tub of ice-cold water, preferably with ice cubes. 
  4. Once chicken is cooked, using chopsticks, gently remove the chicken from the water and place the chicken into a tub of tap water, let the tap water running for 10mins. And then, transfer the chicken to the tub of ice-cold water.
  5. Once chicken is completely cooled, drain. Apply 1 tbsp Sesame Oil on the chicken skin. Set aside.

Method - Rendering Chicken Fats
  1. Roughly chop the chicken fats and skin. 
  2. In a small sauce pan, heat up peanut oil, and add in the chicken fats and skin. Let it cook over very low heat for 30 mins (or upto 1 hour) until the liquid fat renders away. Pour off and keep the liquid fats for later use. You may discard the crispy chicken fats.

Method - The Rice
  1. Wash the rice well, and soak it for 1.5hrs, drained.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat up 8 tbsp rendered chicken fats. 
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass. Fry till fragrant and golden brown. Remove from the oil. 
  4. Add one knot of pandan leaf. Fry till fragrant. Remove from the oil. 
  5. Turn off the heat. Add in Planta (Optional), drained rice. Give it a good mix, until the rice are all well coated with the flavorful oil. 
  6. Transfer the rice into rice cooker. Add in 500ml reserved chicken stock and salt. Stir well. Throw in the 2nd Pandan leaf knot. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or by your preferred method of cooking rice. 
  7. Once rice is cooked. Remove pandan leaf knot. Loosen the rice with chopsticks and give it a mix. Cover the rice, and let it sit in the rice cooker for another 10mins before serving. The texture of rice is important and it takes quite a bit of experience to get it done properly. 
Method - The Chilli
  1. Combine all chillies, ginger, garlic, sugar, salt in a food processor and blitz away.
  2. Add in calamansi juice and 1 to 2 tbsp chicken stock to dilute it. But I prefer to use 2 tbsp hot Rendered Chicken Oil instead.
  3. Add in MSG and DelMonte Ketchup. Stir well. Set aside.
Method - Spring Onion and Ginger Oil
  1. Blitz ginger into paste in a food processor. 
  2. Heat the rendered chicken oil and sesame oil in a small frying pan. 
  3. When the oil is hot enough (at it's smoking point), add in ginger paste. Fry well for 2 to 3mins. 
  4. Add in spring onion, salt, sugar, chicken powder. Give it a quick stir. Heat off. Set aside and leave to infuse. 
Method - Dark Soy Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, boil rock sugar and water under low heat till completely melted and viscous. 
  2. Add in dark soy sauce, continue to cook till it thickens. Remove and leave it till completely cooled.
Method - Dressing for the chicken
  1. In a small saucepan, boil rock sugar, soy sauce and Shao Xing wine under low heat till completely melted and viscous. Heat off.
  2. Add in sesame oil. Stir well. Remove and set aside. 
To Serve
  1. Chop the chicken, Chinese-style. Arrange it on a plate. Pour the dressing over it. Scatter with a little coriander. 
  2. Serve with hot chicken rice, condiments, broth and garnishes.

Here's some notes that you need take into consideration. 
  1. Use a tall and slim pot to cook the water for blanching chicken. This is to ensure you use the minimum amount of water, just enough to submerge the chicken. Like that, you will have a better flavor chicken stock to cook the rice later. 
  2. Try to buy Kampong Chicken from Sheng Siong. They sell good and genuine black leg Kampong Chicken.
  3. If you think rendered chicken fats is unhealthy, you'd probably didn't know that you actually ate loads of them when you eat chicken rice at the hawker centre. Without them, you won't like your chicken rice. So, just do it. You can get chicken fats / skins from Sheng Siong super mart. Or simply ask the chicken seller at the wet-market. Sometimes they gave it away for free. 
  4. 95% Jasmine Rice + 5% Glutinous Rice is really a trade secret. Rice suppliers pre-mixed the rice ratio before they send to the chicken rice stall. 
  5. Planta / Margarine too, is another trade secret. It gives the chicken rice a nice color. However, I didn't use it because I'm cooking it for my family. I don't need them. And this also explains why the color of my chicken rice looked abit to the pale side. 
  6. It's not surprising that there's MSG in the chilli sauce. But I was amazed when my mom told me that DelMonte Ketchup is used for the chilli sauce. But well, this is for chicken rice stall to do business tho.
  7. Spring Onion and Ginger Oil is NOT AVAILABLE in every chicken rice stall in Singapore. Only bare minimum of them is still having this condiment. Some only serve ginger paste with oil. Cost is also one of the factor for them for not maintaining it. Hence, till now, there's an argument point that Spring Onion and Ginger Oil shouldn't exist in Hainanese Chicken Rice dish. Oh well. It's up to you :)
  8. Some says dark soya sauce plays an important part for Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice. I confess, and I admit. I forgot to prepare the dark soy sauce. Too busy and too focused on the chicken and the rice. Damn it!
  9. Rock sugar makes a difference to the dressing for the chicken. If you could, please stick to rock sugar.
  10. The rest is just a matter of blending the ingredients and then adding seasonings, oil and stock. Making these sauces from scratch gives full authenticity to the recipe.

Although Hainanese Chicken Rice stalls in Singapore is selling lip-smacking delicious chicken rice. I'd tried my very best to note down every single thing my mom told me. This recipe may not produce exactly the same result as store-bought chicken rice. This might be due to the recipe that I've written above might have tweaked to adjust to my own agaration (estimation). I see a room to evolve further in years to come.There are some ingredients (eg. Planta/Margarine or MSG or DelMonte Ketchup) is an optional. Since we are cooking for our family, just do it whenever you feels comfortable. If you feel that there's no need to add them, just go without them. I'd prefer original taste.


I personally quite happy with it for now. Maybe I should find a day to try some other well known chicken rice in Singapore (eg. Chatterbox?), or until I found another inspiration for further modifications to it.

Do share with me if you have any better recipe :)


I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest (Singapore) – September Month hosted by Grace Phua of Life can be Simple
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