Portuguese Egg Tarts (葡式蛋挞)

Monday, 13 May 2013

 photo MOV_0892_00012portugueseeggtartsYour egg tarts look more like curry puffs! That's what one reader says about Rasa Malaysia's Portuguese egg tarts.

Indeed, her tarts don't have any of the signature black burn marks. To me, what's supposed to be the custard looks more like an omelette . . . or maybe quiche filling.

Do you know what's wrong with Rasa Malaysia's recipe?

Hong Kong Egg Tarts (港式蛋挞)

Monday, 15 October 2012

The best tool for flattening pastry dough isn't a rolling pin but a plate. Just place a round blob of dough between two plastic sheets, then press it evenly with a flat-bottomed plate. Peel off the top sheet of plastic, then flip the dough into a tart mould.

10-Minute Kaya (II)

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

To enjoy a kaya toast brekky at home:

1. Make kaya in 10 minutes using the recipe here, up to one week ahead. On no account make kaya the traditional way which involves a double-boiler and stirring for hours on end. If you have a lot of free time, I suggest you bathe your dog, read a book, or take a nap.

2. The night before the kaya toast breakfast, remove eggs from the fridge to let them come to room temperature.

Kuih Seri Muka/Kueh Salat (I)

Friday, 17 February 2012


The custard layer of my kueh salat (aka kuih seri muka) is a pale avocado green. That's because it's made with (a lot of) pandan leaves. Do you know how the bibiks of yesteryears get a brighter green, naturally? They used dark green leaves called daun pandan serani/suji, which look like pandan leaves but are smaller and darker.

10-Minute Kaya (I)

Sunday, 9 October 2011

If you google "kaya hours of stirring", you'll find people (like here and here) who really do stand beside their pots of kaya, stirring away for hours on end. I greatly admire their patience, dedication and tenacity but sadly these are virtues I don't possess. So I make kaya the quick way, in 10 minutes.

Dry-Fried Bitter Gourd

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

There're two types of bitter gourd in my neck of the woods: big and small. I think some health freaks enthusiasts buy the small ones to make juice? Ewww . . . . They look really bitter – the gourds, not the fr . . . sorry, health enthusiasts.

Bitter gourds that are really bitter have hard, narrow ridges and are darker green. The less bitter ones are relatively softer, less green, more yellow, and have wide ridges. The bitter gourds I cook are the big ones that, over the years, have become less bitter. I used to sweat them before cooking but that's not necessary now.

Brain Food – For the Brave

Monday, 22 November 2010

Pig brains used to be a popular food for Chinese. The practice has died out more or less, but I thought it would be nice to have a record of how traditional Double-Boiled Pig Brain Soup is made. And also Pig Brain Omelette, which is the photo on the left. Doesn't look too bad, does it? The other photos, however, are a bit gruesome, to be honest. So, if you're squeamish, you should not read this post. Did you get that? Repeat:

GO AWAY IF YOU'RE SQUEAMISH!

This post is for those who are brave, or those who have a bit of Hannibal in them. If you think you're one of them, please continue reading. Or come back later if you just ate.

Poached Spinach with Salted and Century Eggs

Saturday, 2 October 2010

There're a couple of vegetables I refer to as Chinese spinach, and yin choi (苋菜) is one of them. I think the proper name is Amaranth or, more specifically, Amaranthus dubius. But please don't take my word for it 'cause I'm not very good with plant names. I just eat them . . . the plants, not the names. Oh yes, eating is my forte!

I love yin choi because the texture is smooth when I cook it with minimal oil, unlike other dark green veggies which can be gritty. It goes very well with dried anchovies, and yin choi in dried anchovy stock – with maybe some fishballs or pork meatballs – makes a quick, delicious soup. Or it can be stir fried with dried anchovies that have been fried till crispy. That's also quite nice.

When I'm tired of pairing yin choi with dried anchovies, I use a mix of century and salted eggs. And the veggies are poached, a nice change from soups and stir fries. I love the dish 'cause it's fresh tasting and there's hardly any oil. I first had it in Chinese restaurants and after ordering it several times, I decided to hack the recipe. I thought it should be an easy dish to make at home, and I was right. It's just poaching a few leaves. How difficult can that be? Sometimes, I use yin choi; other times, I use kow kei (枸杞, aka boxthorn and matrimony vine) like the restaurant version. Nothing to it at all.

Have I stopped ordering poached spinach in restaurants after poaching the recipe? Nope, 'cause I really like the dish. Besides, we should always eat lots of veggies whether we're eating in or out, right?

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Xi Yan's Kou Shui Ji (口水鸡) – Drool Worthy Recipe

Monday, 9 November 2009

PhotobucketI'm not sure what Kou Shui Ji (口水鸡) should be in English. This is a Jacky Yu (of Xi Yan Private Dining) recipe, which he has named Chicken in Hot and Spicy Sauce. But I think that's a bit too generic. Sounds like Kung Pao Chicken, which is completely different. '口水' actually means 'saliva' and '鸡' means 'chicken'. Hence, '口水鸡' is sometimes translated into 'Saliva Chicken'. Ho . . . hum, I don't like that either. The translation is a bit too literal and direct for me. I'm leaning towards Sichuan Drooling Good Chicken, meaning it's way better than 'finger lickin' good" fried chicken. What do you think? Kou Shui Ji is indeed drool worthy, especially with the addition of century eggs, which are not found in the original Sichuan version. It's Jacky Yu's personal touch and once again, it's a brilliant adaptation. The spicy and fragrant sauce brings out the creaminess of the century eggs, which adds a different textural dimension to the dish. And provides a nice contrast to the crunchy Sichuan peppercorns and peanuts. But if you're not into century eggs, by all means leave them out. With or without the scary looking black eggs, the poached chicken is really yummy with the sauce and condiments. I like this dish so much I have a bottle of the sauce mixed and ready to be used with just a few shakes. I drizzle it on not just chicken but also pork, prawns, squids and instant noodles. This is my Homemade Sichuan Miracle Sauce. It's good for everything!

Other Jacky Yu (Xi Yan) recipes:
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Prawns with Red
Fermented Beancurd
Crispy Pork Ribs with
Dried Tangerine Peel
Tomatoes in Sesame
Wasabi Sauce
No-Steam Radish Cake
(Lor Bak Ko)

Prawns with Salted Egg Yolks

Friday, 25 September 2009

PhotobucketSome dishes are so easy, it doesn't make sense to order them when eating out. Might as well save the money for something that's really complicated or has some secret recipe which can't be replicated at home, right?

Prawns with salted egg yolks is one such easy peasy dish. It doesn't take a genius to guess what the ingredients are. Nor does it require a great chef or domestic god(dess) to pull the ingredients together into a great tasting dish. Any home cook with minimal kitchen skills can do the job adequately.

French Toast

Sunday, 30 August 2009

PhotobucketThere used to be a Hilton Hotel in Hong Kong, where Cheung Kong Centre now stands. It was a pretty nondescript hotel in Central and most people probably never thought of it once it was gone. Neither would I except that was where I had the best French toast ever.

The French toast  was really special because it was crispy. I've had good French Toast elsewhere but the crispy part was always missing.

After the Hilton Hotel was torn down, I had no idea where their chefs went, so that was the end of crispy Hilton Hotel French Toast. And the beginning of homemade French Toast.

When I first made French Toast, it was bland, it shrank after it was fried, and it just wasn't crispy.

Over the years, I've tweaked the recipe many times. I started with just eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla extract and bread. Now, cream cheese is a key ingredient. It keeps the texture creamy and "custardy", and stops the bread from shriveling after it's cooked – provided the bread isn't oversoaked. It also adds depth to the flavor, which is enhanced with a splash of dark rum. Most importantly, it's crispy with a sprinkling of sugar caramelized under the grill. And it's not oily because it's not fried.

I now have the perfect French Toast for a weekend breakfast or even dessert. Yay!

FRENCH TOAST
(Recipe for 2 persons)

4 slices stale sandwich bread, thick-cut (I use Gardenia brand's Junior White)
regular-cut sandwich bread would turn soggy and not make good French toast
2 eggs
40 ml milk
20 g cream cheese
1 tbsp fine sugar
1 tbsp dark rum
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp butter at room temperature
1 tbsp fine sugar (for sprinkling)

Depending on the type of bread used, the amount of egg mixture and soaking time required may vary. Please adjust as necessary. For dense bread, a few slits in the middle and a regular rather than thick-cut would help speed things along. The bread should be thoroughly saturated with the eggy liquid without turning soggy. If necessary, cut the bread in the middle and check.

If possible, make egg mixture the night before so that flavors have time to mingle and develop. Stale bread is essential; fresh bread turns soggy and shrinks after it's grilled. Let some butter come to room temperature before starting to cook.

When you're ready to make toast, preheat grill to 230°C, and line grill tray with parchment paper.

Put cream cheese and sugar in a bowl and beat till smooth. Add dark rum, vanilla extract and milk in stages, beating till smooth after each addition. Add eggs one at a time and – you guessed it – beat till smooth.

Remove bread crust. Do it by hand if you have time; jagged edges turn really crispy. Cut each slice into four pieces. Soak bread thoroughly in egg mixture, turning over half-way so that both sides are evenly saturated. Do not let bread get soggy.

Place bread on grill tray. Dot each piece with butter – just a bit, not too much. (You could put butter on a knife, then push small blobs onto bread with a tapered chopstick. Or, if you're making a lot of toast, make a small piping cone with parchment paper, then use it to pipe the butter. Third option: Keep butter chilled and hard, then shave with a vegetable peeler directly onto bread.) Sprinkle bread with sugar, right up to the edges.

Grill with the door closed till bread is golden brown or even slightly burnt, then repeat butter-sugar-grill procedure for the other side.

Enjoy French Toast piping hot with its best buddy, maple syrup. Or drizzle with melted butter and honey and serve it as dessert. How about a light coat of icing sugar, some fresh fruits and cream or ice cream? I'm sure that'll win you lots of 'Ooh!' and 'Aah!'

Chai Poh Omelette (菜脯卵)

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

PhotobucketMy mother didn't make chai poh omelette (菜脯卵) very often, because chai poh wasn't a regular item in her pantry. So, I can't say I have a fabulous recipe which was passed on from my mother, and which I will pass on to my daughter. This is a recipe I came up with for friends who think that chai poh omelette is de rigueur when they come to my place for Teochew porridge.

My recipe combines the elements that I like in a French omelette – fluffy, creamy and not too oily – and a Chinese omelette – fragrant and aromatic because it's fried till golden brown, unlike its anemic French counterpart.