30 September 2008

SAMBAL PROMFRET


Appetising dish to eat with rice. Main dish for dinner - deep fried promfret cooked in sambal. Add more shallots if you want the sambal to have natural sweetness.

29 September 2008

PRATA

The well-known Casuarina prata shop in Upper Thomson has open a new branch at Killiney Road, next to Killiney kopi-tiam. The air-conditioned eatery can accommodate a capacity of up to a maximum of 50 customers. The deco is exactly the same as the main shop in Casuarina, albeit smaller space, with a large see-through kitchen at the back of the shop.

Crispy and fluffy plain prata accompanied with curries (fish and chicken).


Crispy egg prata, big enough to last you through next meal .


Plaster prata, with delicious egg yolk oozing out.


Aromatic fried mutton bee-hoon goreng but taste-wise a 'plain Jane'.

Overall meal costs $19 plus (2 plain prata, 3 egg prata, 1 plaster prata, 1 bee-hoon goreng, 2 hot tea-terik, 1 ice-tea, 2 milo)

28 September 2008

POTATO SALAD


This is a very simple salad to make. Boil skinned potatoes till soft and mesh. Mix in mayonnaise, mustard, onion (chopped into fine pieces), salt and basil. Refrigerate till serve.

27 September 2008

KOREAN DINNER

Crystal Jade Korean Restaurant operated by Crystal Jade Restaurant Group is situated on 4th Level of Takashimaya, near to Art Friends. No reservation is allowed and we waited 40 mins for a seat.


Dishes of kim chee and cold water were served once seated.


Lettuces with chillies and garlics for wrapping grilled meat or cold trotter dipped in miso sauce.


Chicken ginseng soup stuffed with glutinous rice, ginseng and red dates was served in piping hot stone bowl. The soup was sweet and heavy with ginseng flavor.


A plate of cold pig trotters to eat with lettuce and miso sauce. The texture of the trotters was "q" and crunchy. Not much fat and was gelatinous.


Bimbimbup served in hot stone bowl. A layer of crust was formed at the bottom of bowl and was consumed by soaking in ginseng soup.


A salad of mixed vegetables.

Service was efficient.

25 September 2008

HERBAL CLAYPOT


This is a traditional herbal claypot specifically made to brew tonic. It is regarded as the safest pot to cook herbal concoction for their chemical inertness and stability. Claypots or ceramic utencils are most suitable to brew tonic as herbs may react with metal pots.

24 September 2008

BRAISED ASSORTED VEGETABLES


Also known as Luo Han Zhai, this has become a festive dish for our family during Chinese New Year. During this period I cook a big pot to entertain guests and everyone loves it.  The addition of tau-cheo (brown bean paste) and nam yue (red fermented bean-curd) enhances the flavour of the dish.

The common ingredients are :
Cabbage
Dried Mushroom
Lily Buds (Tie knot and do not add too much as it is a bit sour)
Gingko Nuts
Black Moss (fatt choy)
Leek
Sweet Bean Curd (Tian Zhu)
Fried Tofu Skin
Fried Gluten
Dried Shrimps
Carrots
Black Fungus
Canned Sweet Corn
Glass Noodles (Soak longer in water and add in last so that it would not absorb too much gravy) and
Ginger Slices

20 September 2008

SAMBAL BRINJAL

Eggplant, also known as brinjal, cooked with chilly and belachan is my favourite dish. When cooked it develops a rich and complex flavor. Salting and then rinsing the sliced eggplant soften and remove the bitterness. The eggplant is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking oil and sauces.

Ingredients : 2-3 eggplants, 5-6 fresh chillies, 4 garlics, half rice bowl of dried shrimps (soaked and retain water), 1 small piece of belachan, 1 tbspn of brown bean sauce.

Pound chillies and garlics till fine, without any chilly seeds or skins be seen. Squeeze dried shrimps and mix in chilly mixture and pound till fine. Last pound in belachan. Heat oil and fry chilly mixture till fragrant, add in bean sauce and fry for 1 min. Increase heat and add in eggplant slices to fry. Mix thoroughtly and pour in shrimps water and add sugar. Cover wok till eggplant is soft. Serve with white rice.

19 September 2008

FOX NUT & SHI HU SOUP

Keeping ourselves young is everyone's dream but growing old is a fact that everyone has to face. The component of some Chinese medicines retard the process of aging and with appropriate combination and right cooking method, these herbs alone help to keep one young and healthy. My mum always believe that prevention is better than cure and she had fed us good soup and tonic since young.

The fox nut & shi hu soup helps to slow down ageing process, improve health, cleanse blood, nourish ying, improve vision (especially when you are always on the computer), strengthen the spleen and improve the appetite.

Ingredients : yu zhu, qi zhi, dioscorea (wai san), fox nuts, sweet dates, dried citrus peel and shi hu

Shi Hu is a kind of evergreen herb and its stem is used as medicine. It clears heat, nourishes yin, invigorates the stomach, promotes the secretion of body fluids, relaxes the bowels and retards the process of ageing when used for a long time. Shi Hu mainly treats thirst, vomitting due to febrile diseases and pain in the gastric cavity.


Fox nuts are the fruit of a certain kind of waterweed which grows in lakes or swamps. They contain protein, fat, resin, carbohydrates, cellulose, minerals and vitamins B1, B2 and C. They nourish the body and are highly nutritious.


Fox nuts firm the kidneys and invigorate the spleen, whet the appetite and eliminate sputum. They treat incontinence of urine, nocturnal emission, pain of the loins and knees.


If too much water or cold drinks are consumed, people may have cold sweats and diarrhoea when sleeping. Cooked into congee or soup, fox nuts are good for this symptom.



Dried tangerine peel regulate the flow of qi, to invigorate the spleen function, to eliminate dame and to resolve phlegm. The nature and flavor of the peel are acrid, bitter and warm.

16 September 2008

CLAYPOT RICE

During my younger days my mother used to cook rice in claypot over charcoal and we were given the task to fan and look after the fire so that the rice will not get burnt. When the rice was nearly cooked she stirred in the salted fish and slices of dried Chinese sausages. The aroma coupled with the rice, salted fish and sausages was indescribably fragrant. After the rice was eaten up the leftover crust was soaked in soup to be consumed.  Nothing goes to waste. The crust tasted smoky and sweet and was considered the best food.

As claypot is being replaced by rice cooker and lives become more affluence nowadays nobody bothers to spend time to slow cook rice over charcoal.  Charcoal cooking is considered dirty and pollute the air.  Pots cooked over charcoal are dirty and hard to clean.

The popular claypot rice stall, Lian Hup Boon Kee is situated in People's Park Complex which had just overhauled and reopened in July. The place is more spacious and airy and the claypot stall now occupies two stall place.

It is best to place your order by phone before you go so as to avoid waiting. Be prepare to wait for seats as it is very crowded.


One part of the stall where cooking takes place. Each pot of rice is individually prepared and cooked by 2 ladies. The ordering is taken care of by this pretty maiden.


The soups are prepared and cooked at the second stall, where the stainless steel steamers are. The dirty claypots are cleaned and washed separately from the cooking site.



$15 potion for 5-6 persons. Ingredients include chicken, pork and liver sausages, mushroom and green vegetables. No salted fish as DH is afraid of bones.



Two bowls of soup - old cucumber and watercress soup with spareribs.


A BBQ stall next door doing brisk business.


Grilled sambal stingray for $7 per piece. Delicious and smoky.


Fresh lime juice with juices of at least 20 pieces small limes, to end the meal.

13 September 2008

MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL

During the month of September Chinatown is beautifully lighted up in celebration of Moon Cake Festival, which falls on Sunday this year, 14th September 2008.

Eu Tong Sen Street


Glittering Lights; Beautiful Deco


Peony Decorations


Lanterns Deco


Mooncakes; Lantern Stalls


Shopping; Sightseeing


Main Attraction


Fruit Seller


Legend Brand


Tai Chung Kok is still the best place to buy traditional mooncakes in terms of quality. Shop is crowded and business is always brisk. Not much increase in price this year.

12 September 2008

TONIC

When my children are having exam I will feed them tonic to counteract fatigue and stress. American ginseng double-boiled with pig brain and other Chinese herbs is the common concoction brewed.

There are many grades of ginseng. The best type comes from Chang Pai Shan region of China. It is the most expensive grade and only consumed by the rich and famous.  The Chinese ginseng is considered to be a super tonic effective for invigorating the body's energy, strengthening the heart, nourishing the brain and relieves general body weaknesses. It is best double-boiled with hot water and consumed.


The American ginseng is grown mainly in the temperate belts of the USA and Canada. It is especially effective for treating fatigue, excessive smoking, drinking irritability and restlessness. My mum used to boil this tonic for my father who was a heavy smoker.

Korean ginseng is rated second best to Chinese ginseng. It is good for stimulating blood circulation, for post-natal nourishment, improving eyesight and nourishing the brain, which is suitable for my DH. During my pregnancy and confinement I was fed this tonic often and my babies are all healthy and strong. The ginseng should be stored in a cool dry place in a glass bottle with raw rice for preservation. This can be kept for a very long time.

I was a very weak and sickly child when young and remembered my mum used to feed me Korean ginseng. It was why she fed me the tonic when I was pregnant so that my babies will be strong and healthy. She would put 2 small pieces of ginseng in a sauce plate and scooped a few teaspoons of boiled rice water over them, and then placed the plate on the rice in the steamer and steamed till the rice was cooked. I was fed the tonic and the ginseng was used again for second round. Only adult or elderly should consume Korean ginseng as they are not suitable for healthy children.


To double boil put the ginseng in an earthenware pot with a cover. Add water till three-quarter in the pot to the ginseng and place the earthenware pot in a stand inside a large casserole with boiling water, cover and boil over slow fire for three to four hours.
The roots are cooked twice to extract all the essence.

Never cook ginseng in metal container as the roots lose their potency. It is wise to store it in non-metal containers and to cook it in earthenware or ceramic pots.

09 September 2008

MEAL TIME


Cooking is a great way to de-stress after a hard day's work. I usually reach home at 6pm and start cooking. Dinner time is normally around 7.30 to 8pm depending on the number of dishes. A normal meal would consists of a soup (very important), main dish (meat or fish), a vegetable dish and a salad.

The rule is that everyone in the family must eat together which my DH had cultivated in my children when they were young. It is bonding time during mealtime and the children take turn to discuss and talk about their daily school life and activities. When one is unable to come home for dinner he/she has to give advance notice.
Before I go to work in the morning I will take out whatever I intend to cook for dinner from the freezer and put in the lower shelves of the fridge to thaw. I will prepare the soup in the "magic pot" the night before bed and let it simmers till dinner time the next day.

I go marketing once a week, usually at NTUC or Seng Siong supermarkets, as the produces are pre-packed and prices are cheaper than wet markets. The average cost of marketing per week is $100 maximum (including toiletries and dry sundries).

06 September 2008

BAK-KUT TEH

DH wanted to eat pork ribs for lunch and as we were at Thomson vicinity to run some errands, suggested to go to the popular bak-ku-teh store located at Blk 22 at Sin Ming Ville, corner shop of an HDB block. The place was always crowded but finding a seat was no problem as the stall owners will try their best to accommodate customers.

We ordered 3 bowls of pork-rib soup to share amongst five of us. The soup was on the spicy side and the pork-ribs came in large chunks.


A bowl of braised pig trotter. We had to use our hand to eat as it is difficult to handle with chopsticks. The  cartilage were very crunchy and the skin and meat were tender and fall off the bone.


A bowl of pig liver soup with tang-ou (kind of vegetables which many people dislike as they find that it tastes like bed-bug), but was my family favourites. The livers were not fully cooked and we have to submerge them in the hot soup for ten minutes before eating.


Stewed mui-choi on a salty side but was ok when eaten with rice.

05 September 2008

BLUEBERRY CAKE

It is definitely a good buy when there is cheap fresh blueberries for sale, 1 box @ 4.4oz per pack for $3.60 at NTUC supermarket.  I immediately grabbed two boxes not even thinking what I am going to do with them.

As there is a can of blueberries in syrup in the pantry, I decided to bake a cake.  I divided the cake batter into two portions and baked in the oven at 180-degree.

Wash the fresh berries and set aside. Mix the blueberries in syrup with half of the fresh berries and cook till bubbling.  Add in fine sugar and arrow root flour to thicken.  Leave to cool and refrigerate for later use.  When cakes are ready, slice them into half horizontally and leave to cool down.  In the meantime whip the cream till thick and fluffy.  Do not over-mix as the cream will turn liquid.


Spread cream over cakes and top with berries.  Stack the cakes on top of each other to make four layers.  Decorate cakes with cream and blueberries.


The cake was soft and fluffy but a bit dry.  It is advisable to add in 3 tbsp of butter instead oil.


Enjoy the cake with a cup of coffee or tea.