Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010!

Hello everyone, I'm having Christmas blues right now. There's not much Christmas spirit in the air over here in Beijing. I'm missing my friends at my old workplace. Saddest thing is that it hasn't even started snowing here this year...

Mr Tofu and I will be heading down to IKEA later to buy some julmust, pepparkakor and chocolate almond cake to have our own little celebration at home tonight. ^ ^

Merry Christmas to all of you reading this!! ^ ^

This is a picture of my latest Christmas toy with the pandan plant that's struggling to survive the cold winter here ;)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ji Dan Gao 鸡蛋糕 (Steamed Cake)

You can make this with the simplest ingredients that you can find in every kitchen ~ eggs, sugar, milk, self-raising flour. It's kinda amazing that no additional fat is needed. Plus, it's steamed and not baked, very healthy cake indeed...  ^__^

Aunty Ann, I did it!! ^ ^ The cake is very soft and moist. Thank you for sending me the recipe. I miss your (and Agnes') cooking all the time...

Ji Dan Gao 鸡蛋糕 (Steamed Cake)
(makes a 15cm/6 inch round cake)

3 Eggs
120g Sugar
0.5tbsp Ovalette (optional)
50ml Milk
125g Self-raising flour, seived (or 125g Plain flour + 0.5tsp Double action baking powder)

* Beat eggs and sugar till pale yellow, light and fluffy.
* Mix milk into egg.
* Fold flour quickly into egg and milk batter.
* Steam on high heat for 15-20 minutes. 

# The criss-cross cut on top of the cake was made when the skewer for doneness came out clean and 2 minutes before I turned off the fire, so there wasn't much "smiling" effect to speak of.
# Use of ovalette - Ovalette is an emulsifier/stabiliser commonly used in cake-making. It helps to strengthen the air bubbles in beaten eggs so that they can hold up during other steps of cake-making, eg, mixing in the flour. Other names for ovalette: sponge gel, cake emulsifier.
# Double acting baking powder - "Double" means "two stages" here. Stage one, air released immediately when baking powder comes into contact with water. Stage two, more air released when baking powder is exposed to heat (steaming/baking). Only Stage one happens in regular baking powder, so you have to be quick in mixing the flour and putting the cake into the pre-heated oven/steamer. With double acting baking powder, the batter can wait another 20 minutes for the heat. "Double" doesn't mean that the cake will rise twice as much as regular baking powder. :)
# Cake flour or Hong Kong flour will give this cake a softer and finer texture, use them instead if you have some in your kitchen. 
# When to add milk - Although the original recipe called for milk to be added after mixing the flour, I added mine before. Not sure it'll make any difference to the end product. If you know why, pls leave me a message. ^^

Monday, November 8, 2010


Japchae (잡채), stir-fried noodles with vegetables, is one of the Korean dishes that most resembles Chinese cooking, especially my favourite Singaporean fried bee hoon.

The Korean restaurants in BJ has this dish translated as za cai (杂菜) on the menu and I always wonder if it's actually a noodle or a vegetable dish. Because, (1) nowhere in the name can you tell it's a noodle dish, and (2) the only 杂菜 or chap chye I've known all my life was this Nonya stir-fried vegetable dish.  Well, Prof Wiki's explanation also doesn't sound convincing:

The name, japchae, comprises the two hanja words; jap (hangul: 잡, hanja: , literally "mixed and stirred") and chae (hangul: 채, hanja: , literally "vegetables"). Therefore, japchae literally means "a mixture of vegetables."

My love for this dish comes from my love for tanghoon (冬粉) aka glass noodles. I heart dang hoon everywhere, with fishball soup, chap chye, claypot crab, steamboat, stir-fried thai style, etc, etc.

Surfing the net has also made me realise that almost every Asian country has her own cellophane noodle dish. In Korea, glass noodles are made of sweet potato starch and is called dangmyun (당면 or 唐麵). It has a more greyish shade because of the sweet potato starch content.

Korean dangmyun

Japchae (Korean stir-fried noodles)
(Serves 4)
Adapted from recipe by Korean food guru Maangchi. Besides posting the recipe of each dish, Maangchi also has a video of herself cooking on Youtube which is really useful for first timers like me.

250g Korean starch noodles "dangmyun"
150g Minced meat
1 bunch Spinach (washed and drained)
1 Carrot (cut into thin strips)
1 pkt White mushroom 金针菇 (seperated)
5 Dried shitake mushroom (soaked, drained & sliced thinly)
1 White onion (sliced thinly) 
3 cloves Garlic (chopped)
3 eggs (beaten, fried & sliced thinly)

Seasoning (the amounts can be changed according to your preference):
2-3tbsp Soya Sauce
1tbsp Sesame Oil
1-2tbsp Sugar
1-2tbsp Roasted sesame seeds

    Preparation (note that seasoning mentioned here is excluded in seasoning list above):
    * Blanch spinach. Dunk cooked spinach in cold water to retain fresh green colour. Drain spinach & squeeze out as much water as you can. Cut spinach into 2 inch length and mix it with 1/2 tbsp soya sauce and 1 tsp sesame oil (not included in Seasoning list above). Set this aside.
    * Fry carrot strips in 1/2tbsp oil till soft. Set aside.
    * Fry white mushroom in 1/2tbsp oil till soft. Set aside.
    * Fry onion slices in 1/2tbsp oil till soft and translucent. Set aside.
    * Fry chopped garlic in 1tbsp oil, add minced meat, sliced shitake mushroom and 1/2tsp pepper. Set aside when cooked. 

    * Boil dangmyun till soft (takes about 3 minutes).
    * Drain cooked dangmyun, but don't wash it with cold water.
    * Add sugar and liquid seasonings into dangmyun and mix quickly and thoroughly.
    * Mix in all cooked ingredients.
    * Sprinkle roasted sesame onto japchae before serving.

    You can also reduce the number of ingredients to make simple japchae ^__^
    Here's a sample of simple japchae served as a side dish in a restaurant:

    Friday, July 9, 2010

    Wanton Noodles

    I had been neglecting this blog eversince I moved to Beijing.

    A bit of time spent getting used to a foreign land, a bit on finding a house with a decent kitchen, another bit on finding familiar ingredients... adds up to three months in total. Wow, that was a looooong time!

    But, I'm still not used to cooking Northern Chinese cuisine. This wanton noodle is a good example. Ingredients all from NTUC and hand-carried here (ya lah, I know yall think I'm crazy, but it feels really great to be able to enjoy these comfort food here ok?).

    Wanton Noodles (云吞面, 云=cloud  吞=swallow
    (serves 2) This is the Malaysian style of wanton noodles with dark soya sauce. I prefer this to the tomato ketchup or chilli sauce (Fei Fei's) version as I don't like my noodles to have a sweetish-sourish taste to them.

    Ingredients (wanton):
    100g Minced meat (with some fats)
    10pcs Prawns (shelled, de-veined and smash-chopped)
    0.5no Egg white
    1tbsp Cornstarch
    2tsp Soya sauce
    0.5tsp Salt
    Dash of Pepper
    1pkt Wanton skin

    * Mix all ingredients (except wanton skin, of course) thoroughly and marinade for at least 2 hours.
    * Take half a teaspoon of the marinaded meat and put it onto one corner of the wanton skin.
    * Crumple the wanton skin such that all the meat is covered. Crumple just enough such that the meat doesn't fall out when you boil the wanton. Do not over-crumple the wanton skin cos you still want to enjoy the soft slurpy skin portion. And, remember, it's fun to be imperfect, the wanton would taste nicer if it's imperfect ;)
    * Boil 400ml of water in a pot, drop shaped wantons and remove once they float on top of the water. 

    Ingredients (noodles & vegetables):
    200-400g Chye sim (or any other chinese greens)
    100-150g Wanton noodles 

    * Blanch chye sim and set aside.
    * Heat up 2 pots of of clean water.
    * When water rapidly boils in pot, add wanton noodles and stir with chopsticks to prevent noodles from sticking.
    * As soon as the noodles are done, remove them as fast as you can and submerge them in cold (tap) water. I usually do this over a running tap. This helps to make them chewy and springy.
    * Drain noodles and put them into the other pot of hot clean water. Just make sure to barely heat them up and not to cook them again.
    * Assemble the noodles, vegetables, wantons and sauce (recipe below) onto a plate.
    * Mix noodles thoroughly with sauce and you may eat them with soup (I didn't take a photo of the soup). 

    Ingredients (sauce):
    1tbsp Dark soya sauce
    1tbsp Light soya sauce
    1tbsp Oyster sauce
    2tsps Shallot oil (or 1 tsp sesame oil)
    2tsps Chilli paste (optional or ask you like) 

    Ingredients (soup - optional):
    600ml Water
    2tbsps Large (>5cm) anchovies (soaked)
    2pcs Pork ribs
    1stalk Spring onion (chopped) 

    * Cook anchovies and pork ribs in water for 30 minutes to an hour.
    * Remove anchovies and pork ribs before serving.
    * Add cooked wantons and sprinkle chopped spring onions as a garnish. 

    The real thing, my weekly weeknd breakfast in SG. One is with char siew and fried wanton, and the other has all the wantons in soup. Guess which is mine? ^ ^

    Thursday, July 1, 2010

    Fried Carrot Cake

    Chai tow kuay ("fried carrot cake" in Teochew or Hokkien) ~ my all time favourite Singapore food. I remember my dad would occasionally ta-bao ("takeaway") this home for supper if he works late. My brother and I would hold our blunt toothpicks (the old-fashioned kind) and wait anxiously for mum to line the table with newspaper and open the ta-bao brown paper for us. The big pieces can be easily picked up by the toothpicks but I never liked them, what I liked were the salty, tasty small pieces of kuay and chai poh (salted radish), which can be quite challenging to pick up with those toothpicks (haha..). Sometimes I would mistaken the garlic as chai poh, but I still liked to try my luck and pick on those tiny pieces cos they had more flavour than the big ones. ^ ^

    It never occurred to me that I should ask my dad where he bought it from. But as an adult, I found my favourite chai tow kuay stall at North Bridge Road Hawker Centre. When I was working in town, Mr Tofu would send me to work every morning. We would drop by this hawker centre for breakfast whenever we had extra time to avoid the ERP. The carrot cake used to taste better, sometimes, the ah-em would leave the egg a little runny (not sure if it's intentional). But since the stall owners passed their skills to some not-so-young ah-bengs, it doesn't taste as good as before. Luckily, the ah bengs did not increase the price after they took over, so it still stays at a very low SGD1.50 per plate (you can't get this price anywhere else in Singapore!).

    Needless to say, one of the goodies that I 'imported' to Beijing is this packeted carrot cake (for stir-fry) from NTUC! ^ ^

    Chai Tow Kuay (Fried Carrot Cake头粿
    (serves 2)

    1pkt Ready-made carrot cake (cut into cubes)
    3cloves Garlic (chopped)
    1-2tbsp Chai poh (chopped)
    1-2tbsp Oil
    1tbsp Fish sauce (use regular soya sauce if you don't have this)
    1tsp Chilli paste (optional)
    3nos Egg (or 4 if you like)
    2stalks Spring onion (chopped)

    * Fry garlic and chai poh till fragrant
    * Add carrot cake and pan-fry till least two faces of it is lightly browned and crispy
    * Drizzle fish sauce and chilli paste and stir fry thoroughly
    * Spread browned carrot cake evenly apart in pan
    * Beat eggs lightly and pour mixture over carrot cake
    * Flip carrot cake when egg is almost set (never mind if it's not a perfect flip, it's fun to be imperfect)
    * Sprinkle chopped spring onions as a garnish (I ran out of it)

    North Bridge Road ah beng's chai tow kuay ~

    Now that my 'imported' chai tow kuay is used up, I can only go to Lau Pa Sak restaurant to satisfy my cravings (^ ^)b

    Costs abt RMB35-40 per plate.
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