Sui Gaw (水餃)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Dried sole is a crucial ingredient in sui gaw. It's grilled or roasted till dry and crisp, then pounded so that it's not too small (you wouldn't be able to taste it) nor too big (would be gritty). Added to the filling, dried sole gives sui gaw a unique toasty flavour. And if the stock is simmered with a few chunks of the dried fish, that's even better.

Buah Paya Masak Titek (Peppery Papaya Soup)

Thursday, 6 October 2011

If I had a dollar for every bad recipe I come across . . . .

Who is it this time?

It's Sylvia Tan, whom I absolutely loathe because she's such a killjoy. She goes on and on about cutting out the fat from this, that and every other recipe. Biggest turn off ever, she is!

I used to have zero respect for Sylvia Tan, but that was before I saw her on TV. Believe it or not, she made skinless, low-fat (of course!) kong pao Chicken with sambal belachan! Did she think the people in Sichuan eat belachan? Or did she think it's OK to totally disregard the recipe's authenticity? After that awful, bastardized kong pao Chicken, my respect for her fell from a big fat zero into negative territory.

Kiam Chye Ark

Thursday, 25 August 2011

When I was looking at recipes for Itek Teem, I was surprised at the number of ingredients used for the Nyonya soup. Various Peranakan adaptations of Kiam Chye Ark had pig's trotters, assam skin, brandy, nutmeg, and even sea cucumber. These were on top of the kiam chye (pickled mustard greens), ark (duck), pickled plums, and tomatoes found in every recipe, Nyonya or Chinese. It all seemed a bit over-the-top to me, adding so much stuff.

Udang Masak Nanas

Saturday, 2 July 2011

It's another Mrs Wee Kim Wee recipe today: udang masak nanas. This is the fourth recipe I've tried from Cooking for the President. It's a classic Nyonya soup made with, as its name says, udang and nanas – or prawns and pineapple for those who don't speak Malay. It's great for whetting the appetite 'cause it's slightly tangy and a wee bit spicy. And prawns are, for me, always a treat.

Udang masak nanas is an easy soup whether you masak as in cook for real, or masak-masak as in play at cooking. Just gather all the ingredients in a pot and simmer away – kid stuff!

My mother made a dish very similar to Udang Masak Nanas but, instead of prawns, she used a small fish called kekek (ponyfish). The president's wife sometimes used the wonderfully tasty fish too. That's not surprising since the basic recipe is quite common and adaptable. You know what's surprising? Mrs Wee made omelettes with pig brains on Sundays as a treat, just like my mother! Her daughter, like me, had to clean the brains with toothpicks. And the two cooks' recipes were practically the same, not that one could vary a Chinese style omelette much.

Herbal Mutton Soup

Thursday, 7 April 2011

My mother cooked just about everyday, and not once did she cook mutton, lamb or goat anything – not once. Hence, my knowledge of cooking anything that goes 'Meh-eh-heh!' or 'Baa-aaa!' is pretty paltry. I learn on the job which is, if you ask me, a fun way of learning.

I cooked some lamb chops once. Said chops were marinated with pineapple juice, fresh rosemary and salt, then pan-fried till medium-rare. The chops were delicious but I had a small problem. You know how lamb chops have bones that are curved? I couldn't brown the curved part which had no contact with the pan. Lamb chops served in restaurants are completely seared though, as far as I can remember. How do they do it? Grilling or roasting wouldn't work because the meat would be overcooked by the time the bit which curves inward is brown. The only way I can think of is with a blow torch! Or maybe frying with lots of oil, like almost deep-frying?

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.

Pear Sweet Soup (银耳雪梨糖水) – Cantonese Health Food

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Cantonese sweet soups or 糖水 are usually served as a dessert, but they're not like desserts in any other culture. Everyone regards desserts as an evil temptation that they should avoid as much as possible, except the Cantonese. To them, desserts aren't indulgent or sinful but a necessary health tonic for the body. That's right, desserts are a health food! Isn't that an awesome idea?! Forget the nasty stuff like wheatgrass and flax seeds. Heath food Cantonese style is what you want!

Pork Maw Soup

Sunday, 26 September 2010



There're two schools of thought when it comes to cleaning the pig's stomach. You could use an acidic cleaning agent, such as lemon, lime, vinegar or even coke. This is the quicker and easier method, and one that my mother always sniffed at because the acid is usually too strong. It removes not only the yucky smell but also the good, making the maw rather tasteless. She always used the physical method which is somewhat like a . . . sort of facial, with exfoliation and a peel-off mask!

Silkie Chicken Super Soup – Black is Beautiful

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

After totally discrediting my mother's stir fried liver in a previous post, I thought I should salvage her reputation by featuring something else from her repertoire. Something that has curative powers instead of making someone sick or dead.

The immediate dish that came to mind was a soup made with black chicken, aka Silkie chicken or 乌鸡. My mother, like millions of other Chinese mothers, made it with ginseng when it was exam time, or dang gui (当归) when it was 'that time of the month' for girls.

Before I post a recipe, I usually read up about the dish and ingredients used. So, I googled 'black chicken' . . . and . . . wow, it looks like there's some scientific basis for Silkie's curative powers. It might not be just an old wives' tale that black is better than white after all. In fact, good old Silkie is a superfood like blueberries and pomegranates!

My mother didn't know what superfood was. To her, black chicken was just '补'. Long before the word 'superfood' became popular, the Chinese knew that some foods were better than others or 补. These foods with superpowers have been used, for thousands of years, to improve energy levels . . . and whatever else that need improving. You know, important things like virility, fertility, intelligence, hair colour, hair quantity, complexion, wound healing, hormonal balance, stamina, eyesight and ultimately, life expectancy! Whoa, life expectancy? Surely that's stretching it a bit too far? Well, maybe not, if you read the research on carnosine, the antioxidant found in abundance in black chicken.

Carnosine is a protein found in animal products such as chicken, pork, beef, milk and eggs. It's a powerful antioxidant which prolongs cell life span by slowing down the damage that cellular proteins suffer over time. As a result of this effect, which has been demonstrated in rats and cultured cells, health supplement peddlers claim that carnosine is good for anything from cataracts to Alzheimer's disease, autism, diabetes, wrinkles, building muscles, etc. Heheh, they would, wouldn't they?

Some doctors are using carnosine for cataract patients. As for treating other ailments, the research isn't conclusive yet. However, we do know that black chicken has twice as much carnosine as regular chicken. Animal brains are also packed with carnosine. Does double-boiled pork brain soup with ginseng – which my mother also made me drink! – really help get good exam grades because it's loaded with carnosine? Maybe the Chinese are right about brains being a superfood?

I have more faith in Silkie's curative powers now that I know it has lots of antioxidants. Hah! I'm sure my mother would be most happy to hear that. I have one last question though: is black chicken white or red meat?

Check these out:
Photobucket Photobucket
Drunken Chicken
and Soft-Boiled
Eggs
Pork and Garlic
Chives Dumplings
Roasted Peppers
and Mushrooms
Stir Fried Crocodile

Tang Yuan (湯圓)

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

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Christmas has become the second biggest festival in Singapore, next to Chinese New Year. It's very commercialized but the loss of spirituality doesn't bother me. I just join in the festive fun and food orgy. Party spirit in place of religious spirit, sort of. It's end of the year, work slows down, kids are on school holidays, and everyone's in a partying mood. Any excuse to take a break and relax is good!

Bombay Duck Soup

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

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These Bombay ducks look pretty ferocious, eh? Good thing they aren't moving anymore, or they might snap off my fingers! I think they could be the star of some B grade horror movie. Can you see them wriggling around, snake-like, wreaking havoc on unsuspecting teenagers skinny dipping in a lake? Would have to make them much bigger though, since these cute little critters are only about eight inches long. But boy, they sure don't need extra teeth!