{Quick & Easy} Shallot Oil

Shallot oil is widely used in many chinese/asian cooking. My grandmother would always have a metal tin full of fried shallots and the fragrant shallot oil. We would have it with her mince meat noodles, wanton noodles, and everything really! Too delicious to resist adding it in the dishes! It adds an extra flavour and depth. It’s really simple to make too! Just that shallots are a little costly here. So use in moderation! hehe

Shallot Oil

1 1/2 cup of vegetable oil

200g shallots, sliced thinly

Steps :

1) In a small pot, heat 1 1/2 cup of vegetable oil on medium heat and add the shallots. Allow it to fry the shallots till they turn golden brown.

2) Strain the fried shallots, reserving the oil in a bowl. Allow the oil to cool down and transfer into a glass bottle. Place some fried shallots in the oil and keep in the fridge. (Should be able to keep for a couple of months)

3) Place the fried shallots in an air tight container. You should be able to keep the fried shallots for 2 weeks.

You could garnish many dishes with the fried shallots, and cooking with the shallot oil just makes the dish more flavourful! Trust me, this is something you should make and keep!

PS : I will be using this in my Prawn Noodle Soup dish that will be posted next! So stay tuned! (: 

Cheesy Butter Prawns : A Family Project

You must be wondering, how is this post a family project. Let me explain.

My whole family is quite hilarious. We set up a group chat on Whatsapp and named it “Super Group” (of course! haha) and have been chatting to each other ever since. The 6 of us are a funny bunch and we chat about everything and anything. We are close like that. (: But the main topic that we usually discuss is of course, FOOD! We are quite a foodie family, I must admit. We enjoy cooking and we definitely enjoy eating. haha

A recent topic has been this particular dish we had at Jumbo Seafood Restaurant when they had a branch at Serangoon Gardens Country Club a few years back. It’s a favourite among the kiddos in the family and we never fail to order them when we are dining there. And now it’s gone, and we have been craving for it since!

Have you ever tried to recreate a dish that you tried at a restaurant/cafe? This was a first for me. My mum did try once a few years back, but it didn’t turn out quite the same, though still yummy. This time, I read up on some recipes online and realise it was the type of cheese we used. We always thought that we have to use the fancy cheeses. Shredded tasty, mozzarella and was pretty close to getting the expensive gruyere  to give it the last shot. But thanks to Bee from Rasa Malaysia, I found out that what chinese restaurants use is actually the slice Kraft cheese! I couldn’t quite believe it. But if there’s someone I would trust, it’s definitely Bee! So I told my mum to try using the slice cheese and being the spontaneous people we are, she made it that very night the conversation took place! haha

I planned to cook it the next day, as Friday was seafood day. Mum gave me feedback the night she cooked it, and told me that using slice Kraft cheese was perfect! It worked out well and tasted very close to the once we had at Jumbo! I got really excited. Couldn’t wait to try it!

Cheesy Butter Prawns (Adapted from Rasa Malaysia)

500g prawns, leave shells on

30g salted butter

1/4 large onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

75ml thickened cream

50ml milk

4 slices Kraft cheese

3 heap tsp of corn starch, to coat the prawns before deep frying

vegetable oil, for deep frying the prawns

salt and ground white pepper to season

coriander, for garnish

Steps : 

1) Prepare the prawns, take the heads off and keep it for other use. Carefully slice the prawn into half, length wise, keeping the shell intact and devein. Put the corn starch and coat the prawns well. Deep fry the prawns in very hot oil until the prawns are crispy and the shells have turned orangey-red. Drain and set aside.

2) Heat up a non-stick pan and add the butter. Add the garlic and onion, frying till fragrant. Careful not to burn the garlic, as it will leave a bitter after taste. Pour the thickened cream and milk into the pan, bringing it to boil. Add the prawns and lay the cheese slices on top of the prawns. Cover the pan, leaving the heat on high, and let it simmer for a few minutes or until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens. If the sauce is too thick, just add a bit more milk, a tablespoon at a time.

3) Take the lid off and stir to combine the cheese well with the prawns. Season with salt and ground white pepper. Dish out and garnish with coriander.

Serve and eat immediately with steamed jasmine rice! ENJOY!

The good thing about leaving the shell on is that it retains more of the cheese sauce which is really delicious and it’s so crispy you can just devour the whole thing! (: Well the mr and I sure did! I foresee us cooking this dish very often from now. haha Think I got to lift more weights to burn those calories off! Luckily, I’ve got a husband who is a Personal Trainer! *phew*

I declare our first family project a success! (:

Yum Cha Addiction

I don’t think I can ever have enough yum cha. I could have it every single day. It’s something I have quite often with my family when I’m back for my break. Yes, we are a family of foodies! hehe

But because it’s a tad expensive here, we restrict it to once a few months. So I treasure these yum cha days even more! Fun fact : Back home, we actually call it dim sum! Never called it yum cha till I got here. hehe But I am always very happy and excited when the mr and I have planned a yum cha brunch!

We usually only go to one place for yum cha but recently got introduced to a new place by Daisy after seeing her instagram photos of the food there. I couldn’t be more excited to give it a try! Can you tell from the grin on my face? haha I think I was a bit too happy that day. and cold!

Wealth Garden

Add : 866 Doncaster Road, Doncaster East, Vic 3109

Tel : 0398407611

Thank goodness the Mr has the same favourite cuisines as I do, so we could both enjoy our food together. To me, there’s nothing worse than being forced to have something you don’t like! Besides, food tastes more delicious when you have it with the person you love! (: Don’t you agree? In fact, the mr loves almost everything at yum cha so we could order everything I liked! hehe I was doing the happy dance inside.

This is a family favourite : fried chinese dough fritter wrapped in cheong fan (rice noodle roll). These were amazing! The cheong fan was so smooth and thin together with the crispy dough fritters, it’s a perfect pairing! It comes with a sweet sauce that you can go with. What I liked about the ones they serve here is they have vegetables (kai lan) wrapped in the cheong fan as well! Makes me feel less guilty when having it. haha

this is one of my absolute favourite dish at yum cha – char siew sou (bbq pork pastry). The pastry was really flaky and the filling was thick and every bite was filled with bbq pork. DELICIOUS!

Fried prawn wantons. Jammed packed with fresh prawns, this is served with a saucer of mayo. Just after these 3 dishes, we couldn’t stop smiling and saying “this is SO GOOD!” haha. Just thinking back, I can remember our eyes lighting up with every bite of the food. NOMS.

Now, this was the king of all dishes. haha In fact, this was the dish that made me ask Daisy for the place she was at! Steamed white radish cake. You can’t really find this anywhere else. The first time I had it was at Kam Boat in Singapore. Usually, its cute into large rectangular pieces and panfried till it’s crispy. The first time I had the steamed version I was a little reluctant and questioned if it would be as nice as the panfried ones. I was proven wrong with my first spoonful! hehe Amazing stuff!

The glutinous rice was really yum as well! I am sure my mum would love this!

 of course, yum cha would not be complete if we don’t have the usuals. They were all really yummy, but they just don’t stand out after having the others. Don’t get me wrong, they were still really good. Especially the siew mai. It was really tasty and generously filled. Having just one would fill you right up!

The century egg porridge was sadly the least of my favourite that day. It was just a little too blend and nothing really special. But I guess once you’ve had porridge from Crystal Jade then it’s quite difficult to find anything better!

Chicken feet is definitely considered a delicacy cause not every one would like it. The hubs is a big fan and couldn’t resist ordering this although we were already quite stuffed! hah But it was a really generous portion and I could only have a maximum of 2. haha So the poor mr had to finish it on his own! Oppsy!

So it’s time for the desserts. Yum cha cannot be considered complete without ordering egg tarts!

Another food blogger, Liz, also saw that I was at Wealth Garden and highly recommended the po lo bun (pineapple bun)! So we had to give it a try! I was surprised that it was filled!

They were filled with a sweet pineapple paste and also had pineapple chunks in them! I was surprised because in Singapore, I usually get the unfilled ones and have a slice of salted butter with it. It’s what my mum and I would usually have when we are having tea at Crystal Jade! hehe

Okay, feel a bit home sick after a post about yum cha 😦

Thank you for driving me all the way here to try this place! (: I think it has become our favourite yum cha place!

PS : Thanks Daisy for the recommendation and Liz too! (:

PPS : Do call in advance to make reservations, as this place fills up really quickly from the time it opens for business! 

Stir Fried Okra (Lady’s Finger)

I never really liked okra when I was young. The only memory I had of okra of is using it during Arts and Craft lessona at school. Have you done those vegetable prints before when you were little? We use to do heaps! And using okra was very popular as it makes pretty flower prints!

(image credit to http://bkids.typepad.com)

So I never really knew how it tasted! Also, the slimy texture on the inside kinda puts me off as well. Always thought it was kinda gross. haha My brother still thinks it’s gross! But he was never a fan of slimy or soft textured food. The first time I had it was in the fish head curry my mum cooked and I loved it! But I didn’t know if I liked it cause of the curry gravy that made it yummy! So mum sitr fried it during dinner one night and I absolutely loved it!

This is my mum’s version of the stir fried okra! Mine looks a little different. haha Hers is still a little crunchier and is less gooey. I think my wok wasn’t hot enough! :O But nonetheless, it was still yummy and the taste was quite similar! So I was really happy with my first attempt of cooking it!

I guess there are many ways you can slice your okra. I prefer mine thin and cut at an angle. But even if you cut it round, it would look nice too! Just that when it’s slightly thicker, might take a longer time to soften. So do take note!

Also, I am really lucky that my dearest mum made me a huge bottle of her own sambal chilli. But if you don’t have sambal in your fridge, just slice up a large chilli thinly and it would work too!

So here’s the recipe for my version of the stir fried okra. I decided to put it in a recipe card for a change! What do you think?

Have this dish with a hot bowl of rice! *slurps* ENJOY! (:

Salted Vegetables Duck Soup (Giam Chai Ark)

I love soup! When I think of soup, one word comes to mind – comfort.

They are a definite must during the super cold and gloomy days. Soups are the one thing I think of when I feel physically drained and especially when I’m down with the flu. After 8 weeks of work, I think my body is begging me to take a break and to have a good rest. Thank goodness the holidays are here! (: Unfortunately, I caught a kid-bug from school and am down with the horrible flu. This fluctuating weather in Melbourne definitely is not helping. Super cold in the morning and cold at night.

Back home, every dinner included a bowl of soup. Even though it was never cold in Singapore, soup was a necessity to begin and/or  end the meal. The Mr is cantonese, so before starting his meal, he had to have a few sips of soup. As for me, I’m Hakka, and have our soup at the end of the meal. So as you can tell, soup is very important in our culture.

Grandma’s pig stomach soup! noms!

One of my favourite soups is pig stomach’s soup. My grandma would always cook a whole huge pot for me when I am back in Singapore. This and stewed pork knuckle. Just thinking about it makes me salivate! The other soup that makes the top of my list is salted vegetables duck soup! My mum would make this occasionally and I would happy slurp down 2 big bowls of it!

We had a craving for it and decided to buy a huge duck from Costco. So the Mr deboned the duck and cut the carcass into a few pieces. I reserved the duck breast for future use and used the rest of the duck. It was my first time cooking it, so I was a little uncertain about how it would turn out. But with chinese food, alot is about trail and error. So I did! haha Thank goodness, it turned out well and tasted quite close to the one mum makes! yippee!

Salted Vegetables Duck Soup (An Original Recipe by Food Made With Love)

1 duck, deboned and cut into pieces (I kept the duck breast)

2 tomatoes, quatered

5 cloves garlic, chopped

6 dried shitake mushroom, rinsed and soaked (reserve the water)

1 can button mushroom (or any other mushroom you want)

1 packet of salted mustard greens*, soak in water for 30 mins and cut into big pieces

2 tbs vegetable oil

2 tbs shaoxing wine

1 tbs light soy sauce

1 tsp ground white pepper

1.5L water

Steps :

1) Heat a big soup pot over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. Fry the garlic till fragrant. Careful not to burn the garlic or the soup will have a bitter taste.

2) Add the duck and fry till the skin is nice and brown, add the shaoxing wine and the water. Allow it to come to a boil. Skim the foam off the top to make sure the stock remains clear. Once the foam is skimmed off, add the tomatoes and the salted mustard greens. Cover the pot with the lid and simmer over low heat for 30mins.

3) Add the soaked shitake mushrooms and the water. Add the light soy sauce and pepper, adjust according to your preference. Add the canned button mushrooms and simmer the soup for another hour or more. Check every now and then to make sure the soup is not over-reduced.

4) Serve with steamed rice or quinoa and ENJOY! (:

Note :

* Salted green mustard can be bought at any asian supermarkets. Remember to soak it for at least 30mins as it might be a bit too salty. Do also note that there is a sour version of this. The packaging looks similar, so read it to make sure its the salted one!

** You can also add some pork bones or chicken bones to add more flavour to the soup! If you do, you can just use half a duck and keep the other half for something else (:

Childhood Memories

Ever had a dish from your childhood that you can remember vividly and you try to recreate it recently? I sure do!

I remember when I was young and I use to head to my 3rd aunt’s house to stay over the weekend. She would call me the day I am heading over to ask me what I would like to have for dinner. The conversation would go like this (direct translation from mandarin) :

Aunt : What would you like to have tonight? (你今晚想吃什么?)

Me : You anyhow cook, I anyhow eat! (你乱乱煮,我乱乱吃!)

That conversation still cracks me up! haha That’s how horrible my mandarin was (and is, sadly), since I was 2/3 years old! But my aunt knew what my favourite dish of hers was and she would whip it up for dinner when I’m over. So what is it? Fried prawn egg! It’s simple but so so delicious! Till now, when there are family potluck gatherings, she would make it for us!

Since we got back from Singapore, we have decided to abstain from meat on Fridays. It was difficult to prepare lunches for Fridays to be brought to work. You won’t want it to be too messy, and you would want something that could be easily eaten using a spoon. So immediately, this dish popped out in my head! So I have been doing trail and error to get the perfect recipe and I think my last attempt was the closest! The secret is to fry it like an omelet and make sure both sides are nice and brown before using your spatula to chop it into small bits of pieces.

So here’s the recipe! Hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!

Fried Prawn Egg (Adapted from My Aunt)

300g prawns, deshelled, deveined and cut into small pieces

2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

4 eggs

1 tbs olive oil

3 tsp fish sauce

3 tsp sesame oil

white pepper, to season

spring onion, chopped, to garnish (optional)

Steps :

1) In a small metal bowl, season the prawns with 1 tsp of fish sauce, 1 tsp of sesame oil and pepper. In another bowl, crack the eggs in and season the egg with 2 tsp of fish sauce, 2 tsp of sesame oil and pepper.

2) Heat a flat, non-stick frying pan on medium to high heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and fry till fragrant (careful not to burn them). Add the prawns and fry till they are brown and caramelised on the outside. Add the egg and spread it around the frying pan evenly.

3) Turn the heat down to medium and allow it to brown on one side then flip it to the other side, and allow that to brown too. This should take about 3-5 mins (on each side). You may check the progress by gently lifting up the sides with a spatula.

4) Once both sides are nice and brown and crispy, the fun (and distressing I might add) part begins. Use your spatula and randomly chop the omelet into small pieces. Allow it to fry for a further 3-4 mins then serve!

Serve this with rice or quinoa. Enjoy! (:

This is the mr’s portion haha in a “Light My Fire” lunchbox! Doing our bit for the environment! hehe

So dear readers, what is one childhood memory you can’t forget? Would love to hear it!

ps: so sorry about the quality of the photos. They were shot by my iphone4s. Been a bit lazy getting my camera. 🙂

Homemade BBQ Pork (Char Siew)

I’ve always been a fan of roast meats, especially roast duck and roast pork belly. If you follow me on instagram, I actually head to Golden Harvest Restaurant at Footscray for their roast duck and it’s the best roast duck I’ve had!

It’s usually a treat when we head there for dinner. A celebratory meal (:

Of course another favourite of mine is BBQ pork (char siew) and not just any char siew, specifically my mum’s. Ever since she made her version of BBQ pork, my brother and I have never liked any other versions that we had that is bought. Something that bothers my dad alot is the artificial red colouring of most of the store bought BBQ pork. And mum’s has no sign of that at all.

Tender and juicy pieces of BBQ pork that were cooked in an AMC pot! AMC pots are magic, really. And I’m a super lucky girl, cos whenever I am back for a holiday, mum would surely make her char siew for me. (:

So when I’m back here in Melbourne. Of course I miss mummy’s char siew and I decide to give it a shot, without the AMC pot. haha with my fingers ans toes crossed, I marinated the meat and baked it in the oven!

I have to say, it was close but it’s still lacking the same punch and kick as the one mummy makes. But for now this would have to do and we will just have to keep trying and altering the marinade until we get it spot on! But this definitely satisfied our cravings that night!

So here’s my take on BBQ pork, how do you usually make yours?

Homemade BBQ Pork (An original recipe of Food Made With Love)

400g pork fillet (or any tender cut)

2 tbs Lee Kum Kee Char Siew Sauce

1 tbs Hoisin Sauce

1 tbs oyster sauce

1 tsp dark soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, chopped garlic

1 tbs shao xing wine

1 tsp ground white pepper

1 tsp garlic salt

Steps :

1) Marinade the pork fillet with all the other ingredients listed above for at least 2 hours (even better overnight).

2) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. In a deep baking tray, place the marinated pork and pour 1/3 of the marinade on top of the pork. Cover the pork with baking paper to make sure the top doesnt burn (not yet anyways!). Bake for 20 mins and take it out to flip it to the other side.

3) Pour another 1/3 of the marinade on top and bake it for another 15 mins without covering this time.

4) Take it out and flip it for the last time, pouring the remaining marinade on top of the pork fillet and bake it for another 10 mins, or until tender.

5) For the last 5 mins, turn the grill on and allow the top of the pork fillet to char.

6) Allow the pork to rest for 10 mins before slicing it to thin pieces. Remember to scrape all the yummy sauce on the baking tray and serve it with the pork or on the side. ENJOY!

I prefer to have the sauce on my char siew. Have it with your choice of carbs. Of course mine is quinoa, how bout you?

Mummy’s Claypot Rice

When I first came to Melbourne about 8 years ago, I didn’t know how to cook at all. The only thing I actually knew how to cook was fried rice, and it was horrible. haha. So you can imagine, 1 month before I came here to study, how hectic it would be in the kitchen as mum tries to teach me some basics. So for the first year, I survived on a cyclical menu of decently flavoured fried rice, spaghetti and different simple stir fry. And of course, lots and lots of trail and error. haha

I have to say, all the experimenting spurred my interest in cooking and of course baking. Each time I head back during my long breaks, mum would teach me a few new dishes to cook. I keep the recipes in a notebook, just in case I forget them. (: It’s like a mother-daughter bonding session. Absolutely love it. I know i’ve said it before, but she is my inspiration in the kitchen.

One dish that I absolutely love is her version of claypot rice, with a twist! If you’re thinking, “I don’t have a claypot and I have to get one”. This recipe is for you! Cause it’s cooked in the rice cooker!

I know most people have claypot rice for the crispy and charred parts at the bottom of the claypot, I do have to warn you that this recipe doesn’t have the crispy bits, but it is definitely as yummy! So don’t dismiss this dish just cause it’s missing the crispy bits (although I know how important that is for an authentic claypot rice) but this is really a quick fix for a claypot rice craving!

Mummy’s Claypot Rice

Ingredients:

1 cup of rice

2 chinese sausages, sliced

2 chinese liver sausages, sliced (optional)

5 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced

250g chicken thigh, cut into chunks

10 pieces of chinese cabbage, cut into big pieces

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 tbs vegetable oil

2 tbs oyster sauce

1 tbs shaoxing chinese wine

1 tbs dark soy sauce

1 tsp light soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

50ml water

ground white pepper, to season

2 tbs thick dark soy (caramel thick sauce)

spring onions, chopped (to serve)

fried shallots (to serve)

Steps :

1) Rinse the rice and add water (according to the cooking instructions behind the packaging) and take out 2 tbs of water. Leave it aside.

2) Place the chinese sausage and liver sausage in a bowl and steam for 15 mins. Drain the oil and leave it aside.

3) In a heavy based frying pan, heat the vegetable oil and fry the garlic till fragrant, careful not to burn them. Add the mushrooms and fry till fragrant. At this time, start cooking the rice in the rice cooker.

4) Add the chicken pieces and brown them. Add the sauces, pepper and shaoxing wine and 50ml of water. Add the chinese cabbage and allow it to simmer for 20 mins and make sure the liquid is almost completely reduced. Add in the chinese sausage and liver sausage. The rice should be almost done, pour the mixture onto the rice and give it a good stir. When the rice cooker clicks, leave it in the “keep warm” mode for another 20-30 mins.

5) Just before serving, pour the thick dark soy over the rice, top with spring onion and fried shallots. ENJOY!

Even without the crispy bits, this is one solid claypot rice that reminds me of home (:

Braised Pork Belly with Yam

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know how home sick I always get. One way to make myself feel better is to cook. Not just cook anything, cook something that reminds me of home. So that’s what I did, I made something my mum makes best – Braised pork belly with yam. (: You usually eat this with a bun and some salad leaves. But it also goes super well with rice!

The recipe I found is a little time consuming, but all the work and effort put into the dish is definitely worth it. By the time it’s done steaming, the yam would be broken down and it would have absorbed all the flavours. The pork too will be melt in your mouth! Of course the happiest person when I said I was going to cook this was my baby. hehe He and pork belly are very good friends. hehe

so here’s the recipe that I’ve adapted from :

Ingredients :

· 1.2kg pork belly with skin
· 700g yam/taro
· 1 piece reddish cheese (also known as fermented beancurd)
· 1 tbsp reddish cheese juice
· 2 tbsp salted bean paste

Part (A) :

·4 garlic cloves, chopped
·50g shallots, chopped
·1 stalk (20g) coriander stalk, chopped

Gravy :

·1 tbsp light soy sauce
·1 tbsp dark soy sauce
·1 tsp five spices powder
·1 tbsp sugar
·1 tbsp Chinese rose wine (I used Shaoxing wine)
·1 tsp monosodium glutamate (I left this out)
·800ml water

Steps :

1. Blanch the pork belly with 3 bowls of boiling water in a deep pot for about 20 minutes, remove and pat-dry, then rub a little light soy sauce over the pork belly, prick holes over the skin with a fork, deep-fry into hot oil until golden brown, dish up, transfer the pork belly into boiling water again and cook for further 30 minutes, remove and keep aside.

2. When the pork belly is cool enough, cut into thick slices.

3. Peel the yam, cut into square slices, slightly deep-fry into hot oil for a while, dish up and leave them aside.

4. Heat up 3 tbsp oil, to sautethe chopped ingredients A, reddish cheese, salted bean paste and reddish cheese juice till fragrant, add in sauce mixture, and bring to the boil, place in pork belly slices and yam, simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, remove from heat.

5. Prepare a deep bowl, arrange yam and pork belly slices alternately (skin side down); pack pieces securely into bowl, press slightly, pour the remaining sauce over the meat and yam, steam over medium heat for approximately 45 minutes, until the meat are tender.

6. Drain gravy into a bowl and retain, invert pork and yam slices onto a platter, heat up retained gravy until boiling, and thicken with a little cornstarch solutions, pour the gravy over the pork slices, serve hot.

Bon Appetit! (:

Guest Post : Baby’s Crispy Skin Pork

if you guys have been reading my blog, you know my baby is an awesome cook. and one of his signature dishes that everyone loves is crispy skin pork. He recently saw how the chefs at Masterchef done it and decided to cook it for me and his family after he’s tried it on his own back in Melbourne! I’m so glad he did. It was super yummy!

a nice slab of pork with the skin sliced and salted and dried in the fridge uncovered (:

and baby fried the skin first before baking it. (:

the worse thing happened that night. the oven suddenly broke down, and the portable oven tripped the whole house after heating it for 10 mins. So we had to use the small toaster! hehe and guess what? My baby pulled it off! hehe

it was cooked perfectly. (:

we all preferred this way of cooking the pork instead of whacking it in the oven from the very start.

well done sweetie! (: it was really good! hehe

have it with home-made gravy : perfect .

Can’t wait to have more of my baby’s cooking when I get back! (:

i love you.