Saturday, November 05, 2011

Steamed Chicken with Ginger

I'll keep this short and sweet..Here is my take on a classic Chinese dish. It's healthy and delicious and best of all it's quick and requires little to no effort to prepare. And it looks pretty. All you need is a steamer, or a steam rack with a wok or pot that's large enough to fit the dish when covered.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Baked Curry Puffs

Curry Puffs, or "karipap" as they're called in Malaysia, are sort of like Indian samosas or Spanish empanadas but stuffed with a curried meat filling. They're usually fried, but I wanted to make a somewhat healthier and less greasier version by baking them (I really shouldn't be eating these at all since I'm trying to tone down but what the heck). Of course everything tastes better fried, but these baked curry puffs are so light, flaky and buttery that you'll never crave for the fried version.

You can use store-bought puff pastry if you don't feel like making them from scratch, but I find that I get a sense of pride and accomplishment from knowing that I made the food with my bare hands. After hours of sweat in the kitchen, I was finally able to produce a delicious pastry that has just the right amount of flaky goodness. The secret is to create a dough that consists of hundreds of thin layers separated by solid fat (butter, lard, shortening, etc.) and to prevent the fat between the layers from melting by keeping the dough chilled.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Basa Fish Fillets in Sweet and Sour Tamarind Sauce

I came home from work yesterday feeling lazy and tired after 1 hour and 15 minutes of commuting. I wanted something quick and easy. I looked in the fridge and found frozen basa fillets and a yellow bell pepper and so sweet and sour fish immediately came to mind. With just a couple more ingredients I was able to whip up this amazingly simple but delicious dish in about 30 minutes. The fillets were coated with corn starch and fried till they're crispy on the outside, but still soft and succulent on the inside, then covered in a simple sweet and sour sauce that I made using tamarind paste. So good...I'm definitely making this for dinner again on the weekend.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chinese-style Braised Pork Belly Sushi

Sushi? Yum...
Braised pork belly? Drool...
Put the two together? Hell yeah!
I'd like to think that this was an original idea of mine but I'm sure someone out there has already beaten me to it. Anyway, this is how I imagined what food would look like when you fuse Chinese with Japanese cuisine. The melt-in-your-mouth pork belly that's braised using a traditional soy-based Chinese recipe (dong po pork), combined with the simple elegance of the sushi roll creates an interesting meld of flavors and textures.

Sushi is one of those things that look deceivingly challenging to prepare but is actually really easy and quick. It's one of my favorite things to make at home when I want something light and healthy. I actually prefer to make it myself because I dont normally eat raw fish and I usually make the Korean version - kimbap - using kimchi, eggs, avocado and imitation crab meat as the filling (I don't really know what the difference is between Korean kimbap and Japanese sushi - I just prefer to call mine kimbap because kimchi is a distinctly Korean ingredient). All you need is a sushi mat, a few sheets of nori, sushi-grade rice, rice wine vinegar and your choice of filling and you're good to go. If you've never made sushi/kimbap before, here's a good instructional video from Maangchi:

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Spicy Skate Wrapped in Grilled Banana Leaves (Ikan Panggang)

Just take one bite of this fish and you will experience an explosion of exotic flavors and spices that will transport you to the tropical beaches of Malaysia. You can almost picture yourself sitting under the cool shade of a coconut tree as the ocean breeze gently blows grains of sand on your face...(ok, maybe a little over dramatic)

In Malaysia, this dish is usually prepared with skate, but you can also use any sort of fish that flakes easily like red snapper or tilapia. Skate is actually a cousin of the sting ray and may not be readily available in local supermarkets due to overfishing. It was my first time cooking with skate, and I was surprised at how well it goes with the spices and how soft and tasty it is. The fish is first smothered with sambal, a spicy Malaysian/Indonesian condiment which is a fragrant blend of almost a dozen ingredients including shallots, garlic, lemongrass, red chilies and belacan - a funky-smelling salty paste made of fermented shrimp that's commonly used as a cooking ingredient in Southeast Asia. The fish is then wrapped in banana leaves and placed on the barbecue until the leaves are charred. The grilled banana leaves impart an additional layer of flavor and perfumes the fish as it steams with the sambal inside the leaves.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pork Shoulder Braised in Soy Sauce and Jasmine Tea Leaves

Mmmm...pork. Nothing hits home and brings comfort like chunks of tender and succulent pork that just melts in your mouth. I was grocery shopping at Longo's last weekend and saw a fresh piece of pork shoulder blade (also known as pork butt for some reason even though it comes from the shoulder and not anywhere near the butt area) on sale. Being the pork fanatic and cheap shopper that I am, I wasted no time in purchasing this fatty, artery-clogging cut of meat and hurried home so I can start the lengthy cooking process.

    My first thought was to braise it in BBQ sauce and make pulled pork sandwiches, but then I thought, how can I "asianize" it and make it more interesting? So I decided to cook the pork in a classic Chinese soy sauce based braising liquid and then made some sweet and fluffy Chinese steamed buns (Mantou) to go with it. I filled the steamed buns with some of the fork-tender pork and chopped green onions and there you have it...a Chinese version of the pulled pork sandwich.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fried Rice Noodles (Kway Teow) in "Tomato" Sauce

I've been craving for this noodle dish that I loved as a child growing up in Malaysia. I also wanted to whip up something fast and easy when my mom, sister and nephews came over for dinner last Easter weekend. I've had a variant of this noodle dish in Thai restaurants but in this version from my homeland, a few dollops of ketchup are added to the gravy to give it a slightly sweet, tomatoey flavor. Hence the term "tomato sauce" - ketchup is known as "tomato sauce" in Malaysia. This is a quick and delicious meal, not to mention healthy - you get a good dose of carbs, protein and veggies all in one dish.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Beef Wrapped in Green Onion Pancakes

   If you are reading this, welcome to my first post! I will be sharing with you the recipe for these delicious Chinese-style beef wraps. Tender chunks of shredded beef stewed in soy sauce and five-spice are smothered in sweet Hoisin sauce and then rolled up inside savoury, crispy green onion pancakes - which are also delicious on their own.  The total prep time may be long but there isn't much actual work involved in making these wraps. Once the beef and pancakes are done, it's just a matter of preparing the simple sauce and then assembling the wraps. Not something you want to attempt if you are looking for a quick meal, but these wraps will definitely impress your guests at a dinner party.