Sunday, May 25, 2008

Give Instant Noodle a Makeover

Most Asian grew up with instant noodles or ramen noodles. I have to admit, instant noodle is one of my comfort food. Simple and easy way to eat instant noodle is : boil the water, put the noodle and seasoning packet that comes with it in boiling water then add in an egg. Wah have your comfort food.

When I was small, Cintan and Maggi are my favorite brands. Flavor wise: curry, chicken and mushroom are the one I like the most. However, over the years I discovered Maggi mee that imported or distributed from India and Hong Kong tasted very different than the one from Malaysia or Singapore. The noodle texture is very soggy (I did not over cook the noodles) and starchy. My cousin who currently working at Libya also agreed that Maggi mee from Malaysia and Singapore are the best too!

Maggi Mee from India
(I only tried one kind and threw away the rest of them)

However, I don't really like egg in my instant noodle, I either like to eat my instant noodle plain or go to the extreme to give my instant noodle a makeover.

1 package of any flavor instant noodle
2 grilled imitation crab sticks (cut into chunks)
Fried Shallot

1) Follows the instructions on the packaging to cook the noodle.

2) Add in spinach and imitation crab leg when the noodle almost ready.

3) Garnish the noodle with fried shallot.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Simple and Easy method to make Tofu Hua (豆花)

I love tofu. I pretty much love everything made of Tofu. However, I don't really like Tofu in the soup, not sure why.

Back home Malaysia, fresh soymilk and Tofu Hua (豆花) can easily be found. Tofu Hua --豆花 or 豆腐花 is a type of Chinese dessert made with soymilk, the texture of the tofu hua is very soft and silken. Some people might call it as Tofu Pudding.

Yesterday, I was craving for Tofu Hua so much, here in US is not like I can walk down to the street to get a bowl of tofu hua. Therefore, I decided to make my own. I am sure the method that I use is not how people makeit in the old days. Hey, as long as the taste and texture close to the real tofu hua, I will be fine :)

I seriously not sure how to start at first. I kinda compare the texture of the tofu hua with the texture of the Panna Cotta (one of my fav. desserts), so I told myself, seem they both have a very similiar texture, I should use the panna cotta recipe and make my tofu hua.

This is how I made my tofu hua yesterday evening:

1 envelope of unflavored gelatin
3 cups of unsweeten soymilk
1/3 cup of sugar (or less) (skip or use less sugar if using sugar added soy milk)

1) Pour 1/3 of the soymilk in bowl and sprinkle in the gelatin.

2) In a sauce pan, put the remaining soymilk and sugar and place over medium heat.

3) Cook until sugar dissolve. Once the sugar is dissolved, turn off the heat.

4) Stir in the gelatin in the warm soymilk.

5) Pour the warm soymilk into a bowl. Let it cool at the room temperature, after that cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours.

Depends on which part of the Malaysia you from, I am from the southern part of Malaysia, we eat tofu hua with soymilk and ginger sugar syrup. Central or northern part of Malaysia, they served tofu hua with brown sugar syrup.

I have to say I love our southern way of eating tofu hua. Nice and delicious!!!

Leena's tips: 1 envelope = 7 gram or 2 teaspoon. This tofu hua is not a traditional type of tofu hua but taste wise very close. However, you can only eat this Tofu hua in cold not hot.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bak Chang 粽子

Bak Chang means Zong zi (粽子) in Chinese. Bak in Hokkien means meat and Chang I believe means rice dumpling.

Zong zi or ba chang is a kind of traditional Chinese food, made of glutinous rice and stuffed with different filling such as: pork, shiitake mushroom , wood ear, dried shrimps, preserved duck egg yolk, beans and etc then wrapped in bamboo leaves.

According to Wikipedia:
"Zongzi is traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival (端午节) which falls on the fifth day of the fifth moon of the Chinese calendar (approximately early- to mid-June), commemorating the death of Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet from the kingdom of Chu who lived during the Warring States period. Known for his patriotism, Qu Yuan tried unsuccessfully to warn his king and countrymen against the expansionism of their Qin neighbors. When the Qin Dynasty general Bai Qi took Yingdu, the Chu capital, in 278 BC, Qu Yuan's grief was so intense that he drowned himself in the Miluo river after penning the Lament for Ying. According to legend, rice dumplings were thrown into the river to prevent fish from eating the poet's body. Another version states that the dumplings were given to placate a dragon that lived in the river."

Here is how I made my bak chang (I used what I had in my pantry)

1) Soak the bambo leaves for a few hours. Or put in the boiling water for 1/2 hr until they are soft.

2) Soak over night glutinous rice or a few hours. By doing this will shorten the cooking time.

3) I only use pork, shiitake mushroom and wood ear as my filling.

4) Par-cooked the pork. I saute my pork with chopped garlic, white pepper, salt, soy sauce, oyster sauce and black soy sauce.

5) Saute the shiitake mushrooms and wood ear with chopped garlic, black soy sauce, salt and soy sauce.

6) Wash and drain the rice. Saute the rice with chopped garlic, chinese five spice powder, soy sauce, black soy sauce and salt.

7) You need some kind of skill to wrap the bak chang. I am so lazy to type out the steps, found this how to wrap bak chang from You Tube: (I wrapped my bak chang slightly different than the lady in the video. It doesn't which method, the end result will be the same..taste good)

8) After you done wrapping the bak chang, put the back chang in a deep pot and then fill the pot with water. Make sure the water is covering the bak chang.

9) Lucky me, work in commercial type of kitchen, I use the steamer instead, only took me about 1 hr to steam the bak chang. But if you are like anyone else, make this at home, boil the bak chang for arrpox 3 hrs. If you soak the rice overnight, it only take approx. 2 hrs.

So, are you up to the challenge?

Monday, February 25, 2008


Remember the old time? Moms and grandmas took half a day to cook kaya in the kitchen. That time no mixer yet, they had to use their hand as a mixer to beat the eggs and sugar until they turned pale yellow. Then another few hours sitting in front of the charcoal stove to slow cook the kaya. I remember my sisters and I took turn to help my mom to stir the kaya. Definately not the fun job in the world but it was well worthy.

The process of making kaya twenty something years ago sure was a long process. That's why I never try to make my own kaya. But the other day when I was sick, not sure what got into me, I decided to make kaya. Of course, today making kaya isn't that time consuming anymore. All you need is approx. two hours then you will have a pretty good homemade kaya.

Here is my version of kaya recipe:

Ingredients A

2 cups of eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanila extract (if you can't find pandan leaves)

Ingredients B

2 pandan leaves, washed and knotted (optional)
2 cups of coconut milk (not thick coconut milk)

1) Use electric mixer, beat ingredients A until they turn pale yellow.

2) Add in ingredients B.

3) If you have non stick pot, you can cook the kaya directly from the stove, if not please use double boiler method to cook your kaya.

4) Cook the kaya at a very very low heat. High heat will turn the kaya into scrambled egg kaya. Don't forget constantly stir your kaya in order to get the smooth texture.

5) It wil take approx. 30 to 45 min for the kaya to thicken up.

6) To get a nice brown color: Over medium heat, caramelized 1/4 cup sugar until they turn dark brown. Pour the caramelized sugar into your kaya and stir well. Turn off the heat.

Leena's tip: Try to use duck eggs to make kaya. You will be so suprise that it actually taste better than eggs.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

花开福贵--Broccoli with Stuffed Shiitake Mushroom

Last week, I promised this 芒果安娣 that I would give her some ideas on Chinese New Year dishes. Since it is -25C outside (who wants to go out on the cold weather like this right?), so I decided to cook this super easy dish that looks gourmet enough to serve during Chinese New Year dinner or lunch.

Ok, here is the recipe on how to make this 花开福贵:

Ingredients: (serve 8)
30 to 40 dried Shiitake mushrooms

For pork mixture:
1 lb ground pork
1/3 cup finely diced carrot
2 stalks green onions - finely sliced
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs soy sauce or to taste
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tbs corn starch

For center of the plate:
2 cups broccoli florets
1 carrot thinly sliced

For sauce:
Mushroom water
Some sesame oil
White pepper
Chicken base
Cornstarch/water mixture

1) Soak dried mushroom in warm water to softern them. Save the soaking water/mushroom water for sauce later.

2) Mix pork mixture's ingredients together.

3) Cut off the mushroom stems and squeeze the water out .

4) Stuffed the mushroom caps with the pork mixture.

5) Arrange them in a steamer or a plate raised above the boiling water in a large pot.

6) Steam stuffed mushroom for 10 to 15 minutes.

7) Cook the broccoli florets and carrot in salted boiling water for one minute.

8) Arrange broccoli and carrot at the ceter of the serving plate.

9) Arrange the stuffed mushroom around the broccoli and carrot.

10) To make the sauce, heat the mushroom water in a pot. Add in a few drops of sesame oil, some white pepper and some chicken base to taste.

11) When the mushroom water is boiling, thicken the sauce by adding the conrstarch/water mixture.

12) Pour the sauce over stuffed mushroom, broccoli and carrot.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Chicken Curry Lefse Roll

Yesterday evening I was lazy to cook, so I came up with this simple and easy to make chicken curry lefse roll.

Ingredients: (3 servings)
3 sheets 10"x 6" lefse
12 oz cooked chicken breast (diced) or 1 can (12 oz) chunk chicken
1 tsp curry powder
1/3 cup mayonese or spicy mayonese
1/3 cup finely diced celery
2 tbs finely diced onion
salt and pepper to taste

1) Combine chicken, curry powder, mayonese, celery, onion, salt and pepper together.

2) Spread curry chicken mixture over each lefse sheet to within 1/4 inch of edges.

3) Roll up each lefse, starting with the short side.

4) Using a knife cut each roll into 4 slices. Serve immediately.

Leena's tip: If the chicken mixture is too dry, add more mayonese.

Lefse is a traditional soft Norwegian flatbread made out of potato, milk or cream and flour, and cooked on a griddle -- Wikipedia


Friday, January 11, 2008

Chicken Stir-Fried with Vegetables

Not sure what to cook for dinner/lunch? Here is a simple and yet delicious chicken stir fried dish that you can try at home.

Ingredients: (serve 4)
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb chicken breast (or dark chicken meat) sliced thinly
2/3 cup of green and red pepper mix
1/2 cup sliced carrot
1 cup snow peas or sugar snap peas
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup of water
salt and white pepper to taste

1) Marinate chicken with soy sauce and corn starch for a few minutes.

2) Add cooking oil in a heated wok or large skillet.

3) When the oil is hot, add chopped garlic and carrot into the wok/skillet.

4) Let the carrot cook for 2 minutes, add in chicken. Stir-fry until the chicken is almost done then add in water and sugar snap peas. Cook for 1 minute.

5) Finally, add green and red pepper mixture, salt and white pepper to taste. Stir fry for 1 minute or until the chicken is done. Do not over cook the vegetables.

6) Transfer to a clean plate and serve with rice.

This recipe may be made with beef strips (steak), turkey or pork.