Thursday, 30 October 2014

BBQ Pork Steamed Bun

BBQ pork buns almost seem like the quintessential item to have at yum cha.  It is an item that almost everyone recognize, both in looks and taste. They're a perfect little bun, filled with tasty BBQ pork and encased in fluffy soft dough. So there is no surprise when I say that my two boys are completely obsessed with them, and they are a must have item when we go out for yum cha at the local Chinese restaurant. Lucas can easily demolish two or three steamers of these bun without a blink of an eye.  

The only downside with having these buns in local restaurants (as is the peril with most items at a Chinese restaurant) is that you don't know what goes into them, especially with their liberal use of MSG to add flavour. Don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly a food nazi and preventing them from having treats here and there, but let's face it, if there are definitely alternatives to the their favourite foods that don't have any chemical nasties, then why wouldn't you try provide that option for them right?

Monday, 27 October 2014

Cinnamon Danish Scrolls

You know how I have a thing for all thing pastries? No, you haven't figured that out yet? Well, let me tell you how pastries and I are on first name basis. Not only are they delicious and flaky, but they are the perfect item to transport from one location to another (or during if you're anything like me...).  Back in the hey days, Dad and I would go for a meander to the local Countdown (supermarket) and pick up these danish scrolls, filled with sugary cinnamon and flaking apart with every bite.  

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Melon Sago Dessert

Oh my goodness. Today hit pretty close to the 30's today.  I don't know about you, but there's nothing better than having something cool and refreshing to quench your thirst on a scorching hot day. I got given a honeydew melon the other day and thought, hey wouldn't it be a great idea to make a melon sago dessert for afternoon tea for my two boys. Just the perfect way to cool off after a hard day at school! Or if you want an alternative to punch at your pool party, you could make this up to have to drink as you chill on your sunlounger soaking up the vitamin D!

Although this recipe uses honey dew, you can also substitute with rock melon if you wish. I have tried both and both are a winner in my boys books!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Nine layer Nyonya Kuih aka Kuih Lapis

Do you know how certain foods or smells evoke memories forgotten? Perhaps a day during your childhood or a long-ago holiday in some heady foreign land, remaining hazy in the sub-conscious mind, until you see or smell something which jolts that particular memory in to crystal clear clarity? Yes, this dessert is one such type food for me.  And no matter how young I was, and how old I am now, I still eat it the same way - one thin layer, one mouthful at a time, to savour every last delicious sliver.

Nyonya desserts or nyonya kuih are little cakes or pastries created by the Peranakans or Straits Chinese. Peranakan is a term which refers to the mixed-race descentdant, part Chinese, part ethnic Malay. Baba refers to the male descendants and Nyonyas the females.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Steamed Chicken Bao (Chicken Buns)

Chicken Bao.  Fluffy, white bun encasing juicy, tender chicken pieces... just the thought of it is enough to make me salivate.  I could easily eat more than my fair share of these buns if I didn't exercise any self control!

My favourite steamed chicken bao would have to be from Tai Tong in Penang, Malaysia. One bite into the soft bun and the juice would gush out, dribbling down my chin as I struggle to make sure I try not waste any of the tasty filling. Nothing like the authentic tasty Penang chicken bao to get the juices flowing (get it? lol)

Recently a friend asked if I could share the steamed chicken bao recipe as she wanted to make for her son. So here is the recipe I have concocted, my dear friend. I'm glad to share it with you and I hope your boy enjoy this recipe too!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Bangkuang Char - Yam Bean Lettuce Cups

I've been loving snack style food recently. Little two-bite morsels that are tasty from the first bite to the last.  Although, I'm not sure it's considered snack food if you eat like 7 or 8 of them? Hmm... anyway, this is where this bangkuang char comes into place - shredded delicious yam beans, wrapped lovingly in a fresh, crisp lettuce leaf.  I feel like this is the Malaysian equivalent to the San Choy Bao (lettuce cup).  When I was growing up, this dish was predominantly served during festive occasions such as Chinese New Year.  This would be eaten with rice, alongside other dishes such as curry chicken, braised pork belly (tau iu bak) and pork stomach soup (tu tor tn'g).  

Monday, 13 October 2014

Chai Kuih aka Steamed Vegetable Dumpling

Okay, let me start of by saying that these dumplings are the sort of dumplings I could inhale on a regular basis.  I am head over heels in love with these bite-sized morsels just bursting with delicious, garlicky juices.  As much as I could wax lyrical as to how ah-mazing these delicate little dumplings are, I urge you to give these a whirl at some point, and then come back to me and profess your love for them as I have from that very first bite!

Chai kuih translates to vegatable dumpling. These little dumplings are similar to the type you get when you go to your local Chinese restaurant for yumcha.  The difference between the standard dumplings you have at yum cha, and these wee beauties, is that the skin needs to be quite thin. There are two types of chai kuih - the original bangkuang or yam beans (sometimes referred to as sengkuang or jicama) and the ku chai (chives). 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

White Fungus Soup (Sweet)

Off the back of the Mung Bean soup earlier in the week, I made up a different dessert that has a cooling effect for the body.  The temperature has steadily been climbing in the last few days and everyone is feeling the effects as we adjust.

Apart from the cooling effects, this white fungus soup is good for the skin.  As the old adage goes, beauty starts from the inside out.  A lot of rich tai tai's would drink double boiled bird's nest for collagen. Well, guess what ladies, you don't need to spend all the dollars for bird's nest as the white fungus gives the same collagen fix.  For my vegetarian friends, the white fungus is a great replacement for expensive bird's nest.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Vegetarian San Choy Bou

Can I just point out we are technically only the second month into spring? Then why is it 32 degrees outside already??! I am positively melting in this heat and my kids had to have a soak in the tub to cool off today. I feel like this summer is going to be an absolute scorcher.

As the weather heats up to searing temperatures, this usually causes a downturn in the want to spend time in a hot kitchen.  Frankly, I think I could survive on ice blocks. I wonder if I could look at turning standard meal fare into ice block concotions... now there's an idea...

Friday, 3 October 2014

Roti Canai / Susu


Holy smokes, Batman. Have I ever told you about my love for roti? Oh my goodness, it is SO hard to find it as authentic as the ones back in Malaysia.. .SO hard - I should know, I spend forever finding the places that do genuine made-from-scratch roti NOT from the freezer aisle.  Why do I have an infinite love for these soft and buttery on the inside, crispy and flaky on the outside goodness? Because it's such a great vehicle for so many variety of toppings and accompaniments. AND THEY ALL TASTE GREAT!  If you've never tasted freshly rolled, tossed, folded and grilled roti, you don't know what you are missing. I'm just drooling at all my favourite combinations mmm.... 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Mung Bean Soup (Sweet)

The Chinese are very firm believers of certain ingredients providing beneficial or detrimental effects on the body.  It meant that when I had ulcers or nose bleeds, I was considered too 'heaty' and that I needed to avoid the foods that were causing them (deep fried items, durian boo hoo hoo) and to eat those that would counteract it.  Mung bean is one such ingredient which is seen as an ingredient with cooling properties and a great remedy for days where you might have overindulged on one too many fried chicken or just couldn't resist that one last durian.  

I made this soup more as a preventative measure more than a remedy, given the my sons had been playing outside and the day was getting warmer and warmer as it progressed. This is one dish that my eldest, Isaac, isn't too fond of though, so to try and make it a little more appealing to him, I added in coloured potato jelly.  Surprisingly, he took to it, and finished the whole bowl with requests for seconds! I'll note that down as a win thanks...

The jelly isn't a traditional aspect of the dish, although if you do have children or fussy adults, it might be worth a shot to add it.  It won't significantly alter the flavour of the dish, and you can get some of the nutritional benefits of the mung bean into them!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Tom Yum Fried Noodles

There are days where the last thing you want to do is spend significant time in the kitchen cooking.  As you can imagine, having two boys can be a handful, and when they aren't at school, you have to keep them occupied somehow! Today we went to the park with some of their school friends, taking along these chocolate chip cookies (which were a big hit I might add) with us.  With tired, hungry boys and all my energy spent at the park with them, I wanted to throw together some quick, easy but delicious which I know the boys will eat, no question asked.  

This is a vegetarian dish, meaning if you've come home for a day out, you don't need to worry about defrosting meat and so forth.  If you do want to add meat to this though, I don't see why you couldn't.

Tomato and Egg Scramble

Midweek meals. What a struggle!  It's always a fine line between creating something that is tasty but the boys will also eat.  Often it gets to the middle of the week and my brain can't comprehend the fact I should be making a nutritious meal.  My eyes draw longingly to the fridge with the pizza pamphlet tacked to it...

Good thing for me, there are several recipes I have up my sleeves for such days like these, where I don't have to think to hard but food miraculously appears with a mere two or three ingredients and gets eaten with no complaints.  This dish here contains ingredients that should be staples in your fridge.  If anything, they may end up being the ONLY items in your fridge come Friday (no, just me??). 

Research has suggested that tomatoes are good for men.  The lycopene in tomatoes has been suggested to reduce the rate of cancer in prostate as well as stomach and lungs. Regardless as to whether that is concrete or not, tomatoes are full of nutrients and this dish provides flavour to the eggs (which I might add, is protein rich, so great for growing children!)

This dish is widely serve in Mainland China. My Mum and Dad went to China couple of years back with a tour. When they came back, I had cooked this dish and Dad gave me very unimpressed look! He told me that he had to consume this dish every single day at every single meal they had in China! Whoops, my bad - sorry Dad!! 

Cheese Twist


Having to entertain two kids during school holiday is a full time job. They seem to know that by being on school holidays, I have the time to indulge them in their favourite foods (pancakes anyone?).  My youngest one is a real foodie, trying new food with gusto, and definitely letting you know if he definitely does enjoy it or not. 

We live on a quiet cul-de-sac and the kids on our street love coming round for a play during the school break. As you know, active kids make for hungry tummies.  No doubt all the bike riding, running around and rough-housing works up a healthy appetite.  This is where these cheese twists are the perfect snack to put together a group of ravenous kids.

These tasty, cheesy, savoury pastries will no doubt make you popular with whoever consumes them, and best of all they are so ridiculously easy and require very little forethought.

Penang Char Koay Teow

Penang Char Koay Teow - this is a recipe that embodies so many memories for me.  It has a very soft spot in my heart, not only being a signature dish from my home town, but also a reminder of my very dear late grandmother.  She would cook it for us, however (as with most special, longed-for meals) not as often as we would like.  We would pester her relentlessly before she would give in and put together this delicious plate of noodles.

Char Koay Teow (literal translation fried rice noodles) is something that can be found across any Malaysian restaurant on their menu. Like most things with cultural food though, whether the authenticity is there or not is debatable.  Penang has long been known as the "Food Capital of Malaysia" and is particularly well known for their "hawker foods", mostly featuring incredibly fresh ingredients and made to order.  Char Koay Teow is the very representation of hawker food - fresh rice noodles tossed with tender juicy prawns, crunchy bean sprouts, salty Chinese sausage, fragrant chives finished off with a kick of chilli.  If you visit Penang and don't take the opportunity taste this, you haven't been to Penang at all!

The best way to get that authentic taste in your home is to cook this dish in individual portions, not in one big batch.  Using a cast iron wok and a gas cook top will best replicate the complex, smokey flavour of the dish (often referred to as 'wok hei' or breath of the wok) which is usually the magic factor in all genuine hawker dishes.  

Traditionally, Char Koay Teow would also include succulent de-shelled cockles and crunchy pork lard or rind, however these ingredients are hard to find here so they have been omitted from this particular recipe.  If you are lucky enough to find these additions though, absolutely feel free to toss through the cockles and rind with the prawns.  They're certainly my favourite bits of the dish!  You can also exchange the chicken egg out for duck egg if you're feeling exceptionally indulgent.