Monday, June 28, 2010

Mango and Potato

Don't get it wrong: I'm not mixing mangoes with potatoes. They're two separate dishes actually; just that I'm bemused by the rhythm of these two ingredients which I happened to be preparing for dinner and supper. Dinner is mango duck salad; it's the signature dish of yours truly (well, kind of).
Ingredients are pretty simple: two big mangoes (I prefer the ones from India as they're juicy and sweet), fresh pack of salad vegetables (I bought it from NTUC), pine nuts (I lightly toast them before mixing), Japanese riken non-oil aojiso lemon and herb taste salad dressing (for healthier choice), and of course, de-boned roast duck.

After mixing and tossing, this is the result (does it look appetizing or what?)...
For supper, I made sweet potato soup using just one big yellow sweet potato, a few stalk of pandan leaves, and a special brown rock sugar that has ginger slices inside (a friend from Taiwan gave these to me during one of my overseas business trip).
Hubby's very pleased with both as he has an affinity for sweet things, but I'll make sure he eats only the healthy sweet stuff, and moderate his intake of candies to a minimum, if I can help it.
And I think he's quite happy with that arrangement too...

Friday, June 25, 2010

DangSheng and DangGui

Erm... the ingredients mentioned in the title may seem foreign to some of you if you're not asian, but not to worry. These are well-known TCM herbs that are sometimes used in making soup or to add some health benefits to an already tasty dish. I prepared pork bone soup with chestnut and fresh wild yam for Wednesday's dinner and added dangsheng to it. This ingredient is considered a poor man's ginseng, and while not as potent, it does help replenish qi, lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system and cure appetite loss.

Of course, hubby hardly have poor appetite; sometimes he even grab the biscuit tin after his meal for some snack bites, which kinda irritates me because it gives me the impression that he's not satisfied with the meal I prepared. "It's just that my mouth is itching for something to munch," he'll reason with me. That's my boy!
Tonight, I blanched his favourite broccoli with dried scallop pieces, and quietly added slices of danggui to enhance the flavour (and forgot to add some wolfberries). "Strange, how come the broccoli tastes weird today?" he asked. After telling him what was added to give variety to the taste, I asked what he thought about it. "Um... I can still accept the taste, but I still prefer the original broccoli taste, you know?" he said with a 'give-me-back-my-broccoli-taste' look in his eyes. Ah, well...

Anyway, there was an additional steamed grouper fish (garoupa in Portugese) with fermented black bean paste, so that should somehow appeased him a little, I hope. If you want the recipe, click here.
So was he happy with the dinner meal? If you wanna know, let's say he headed for the biscuit tin on top of the fridge just after finishing his food...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Of Tuna and Tofu

Bought a nice yellow capsicum yesterday at the NTUC to prepare this tasty and nuitritious breakfast this morning. First, I halved the capsicum and carved out its seeds and inner linings; next, I filled up the halves with Ayam brand tuna, seasoned it with a little black pepper, then overlaid the top with a slice of cheese, and baked it for about 10 minutes. There you have it, something juicy and crunchy to start your day off:

For dinner, I decided to use tofu as the main ingredient, accompanied by white Japanese shimeiji mushrooms and minced pork meat, and garnished with cut spring onions and red chilli to make it more appealing and appetizing:

I asked hubby, "You like this dish? How'd it taste: delicious, or supremely yummy?" "OK. Not supremely yummy," he replied, and paused to observe my slightly disappointed reaction, then quickly added with a chuckle, "but delicious, very delicious!"
Note: I learnt from my mum that minced pork meat is a very versatile ingredient, mainly because the lean meat is sweet and juicy. When steamed, it yields its flavour into whatever sauce it's in, adding a slight brown tone to the gravy. In the past, not many stalls have meat grinders so mum would buy a whole piece of lean meat, washed it clean and then chopped it relentlessly on a chopping board until it's well shredded.
There're a lot of things you can do with minced meat, but I'll not elaborate it here. Just follow my blog and you'll get to see more anyhow ways it can be cooked...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Blanched or Stewed?

That's the choice to make while preparing today's meal. For lunch, I've decided to make it simple: blanched spinach (hubby would imitate Popeye's laughter whenever I serve this dish) flavoured with a little sesame oil and soy sauce, boiled rice vermicelli, and pork knuckle bones leftover from the soup stock I made a day earlier.
Hubby's been eyeing the pork knuckles ever since we bought it yesterday, and when this dish was finally served up, you could see the glee in his face as he digged in, foraging every nook and cranny for the last bit of soft bones (cartilage and connecting tissues) and the highly prized bone marrow.
For dinner, I decided to stew chicken legs with mushrooms and chestnuts, flavouring with ginger and anistar, in my pressure cooker. Prior to that, I slightly deep fried the chicken legs to give it more flavour and texture. It took only half an hour with the help of the pressure cooker and the chicken legs were already soft to the bone.
Served with brown rice, and that would be just perfect, right hubby? Well, he's too busy eating to answer that anyway...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Back and Cooking Again

Just came back from church retreat last evening, and was it a good getaway! With all the wonderful programmes and sumptuous food every meal, I'd bet my hubby's longing for some simple yet nuitritious home-cooked meal from yours truly.
So this morning, after having our breakfast at the West Coast hawker centre, we walked over to the wet market to do some marketing. Since our fridge is quite empty, we bought assortments of vegetables and meat to fill it up for the next week.
After washing and hanging out the laundry, hubby continued to work on the drawer for the kitchen cabinet, while I busied myself with lunch. Having eaten so much for every meal for the past couple of days, I decided to prepare brown rice porridge with four ingredients: silver fish, fresh huaishan (wild yam), minced meat and Shandong peanuts. Using the pressure cooker, the time to cook is reduced by almost half.

Here's some health tips regarding the use of peanuts in your meal: 1. Peanuts combined with lean pork meat improves the color of your skin and reduces fatigue; 2. With silver fish, it improves calcium absorption and bone growth.
But it's not the kind of peanuts you can eat straight out of the wraps that I'm talking about; those are cooked and either sweetened or salted. You have to get those raw ones, get them soaked and washed, and then cooked together with the other ingredients to reap the benefits I just mentioned.

Side note:
Not long after I was married, I cooked a similar dish except that I used dried chunks of huaishan. I brought some over for my mother-in-law to try. She didn't comment a thing, which I took it to be positive until a couple of days later, while visiting us, she casually remarked that using unbleached huaishan when cooking would be a better choice, and cutting it into smaller pieces would make the porridge tastier. Immediately I got her point!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Taking a Break

This whole week hubby and I will be away in Malaysia for a five day church retreat, so I will not be blogging during our absence. Rest assure, my readers, I'll continue blogging when I'm back from our holiday, so stay tuned... Thanks!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Funky about Fungus

Hubby prefers that I take a break from cooking on weekends, but sometimes I'll still like to prepare a simple nuitritious home-cooked meal. Like today's lunch - white fungus soup with chicken drumstick, black poplar dried mushrooms (cha shu gu), dried chinese yam slices, wolfberries and red dates.

Several ingredients in this soup are known in traditional chinese medicine for building up the kidneys, lungs, liver and spleen. There's a recipe with slight variation that you can find here. White fungus is also an excellent source of collagen, which helps to reduce wrinkles on my pretty face. Hehe...

I asked him what he thought about this dish. As usual, he's fully engrossed in eating and without looking up, remarked, "I'll give it an 8 out of 10... slurp! slurp!"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Steamed Cod Fish

One of hubby's favourite fish is cod, and he likes it steamed or lightly pan-fried, but since we just had deep fried fillet two evenings ago, I thought it good to have some alternative. Either way, cod is rich in omega-3, which is evident by the amount of fats it secretes when cooked.

By itself, cod meat is quite succulent and juicy to the bite. Still, I like to lightly flavour it with fermented black bean sauce and shredded ginger, add a little color with red capsicum (though I'd prefer the chilli's vibrant red but I ran out of that), then garnish with spring onion.

Hubby loves it, but at $11 a piece, it's advisable to practice a bit of restrain in order to prevent burning a hole in his wallet. Besides being his PC (personal cook), I'm also his PA after all...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Starchy or Buttery?

I had planned to prepare a western meal for dinner, so during lunch I hopped over to the Cold Storage supermart in Takashimaya (which is near my office) to look for some ingredients. I came across a half-cut Hokkaido pumpkin and decided a soup starter would be nice.

First, I fried a yellow onion and a clove of garlic with some butter in the pressure cooker. Next, I put in the diced pumpkin and spare carrot slices, sprinkled some flour and stir fry for three minutes. To give it more flavour, I threw in half a Knorr chicken cube, a bay leaf, and added water, then let the mixture simmer inside the pressure cooker for about five minutes. After the mixture cooled down, I blended it and put the refined mixture back into the pressure cooker, added some fresh milk (in place of the usual cream which I run out) and brought it to a quick boil again, and the soup was ready to serve.

Hubby like the smooth texture of the pumpkin soup, but he thought the parsley tasted a bit raw and over-powering. "That's because it's Italian, not Chinese. I like to try different things, you know?" I told him with a grin.

For the main dish, I prepared LJS's fish batter to deep fry the fillets. Hubby was puzzled at the white heap of mashed potato-like thingie. "What is that?" he asked. "Try it!" I replied teasingly. The moment he took the first mouthful, a smile spread across his face. "Mashed cauliflower!" It's one of his favourite veggie. "Yup, lightly buttered so it doesn't taste too bland," I added. Want the recipe? Click here.

It took some work and perspiration to cook this meal, but seeing my hubby's satisfied look on his face, I felt it's worth all the trouble. Not starchy, and certainly not too buttery either...

LJS - Long John Silver (sounds familiar). If you wanna know the recipe, just Google it. There're plenty of blogs and cooking sites that teaches you how to.

Monday, June 7, 2010

One Night in Beijing

Well, sort of. Tonight I prepared two simple dishes for dinner: stir fried beijing cabbage with dried anchovies (or ikan bilis as the more familiar name to the locals) and some red chilly slices, and scrabbled eggs with black fungus (one of my favourite ingredients).

Without adding salt or sugar, this dish tasted pretty light yet sweet due to the inherent sweetness of the cabbage itself. For the health conscious, this is a simple time-saving dish too.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Yong Tou Who?

The name's Foo, Yong Tou Foo (or sometimes spelt Fu). I know, this joke's kinda lame, unless you happen to understand the confusion that arises from the multitude of variations from the different dialect groups, even cross culturally, and how the name is even spelt or spoken.

Anyway, if I remember correctly, this soup dish belongs to Hakka origin, though the Teochews and Hokkiens are just as eager to create their own versions, whether dry or soupy. I'm a soup person so naturally I prefer the later.

A healthy and simple dish to prepare too because the ingredients are readily available in most supermart and wet market stalls, unless of course you want to prepare them yourself. To me, the most important part is the soup stock or broth (you can find the recipe here) which I'll usually prepare and refrigerate beforehand, but not kept for longer than two weeks. The rest of the ingredients you can get better deals at wet markets, which can be as cheap as a dollar for eight pieces. And if you like, you can add noodles or vermicelli into the soup, or just eat plainly with rice.

Inset picture: Half tomato, lady's finger and sliced bitter gourd with fish paste fillings, bean curd puff (or tau pok), prawn ball (pink), minced pork roll with chestnut bits, and dried pig skin (collagen rich, hehe...) 

Go ahead, try it! I'm sure you'll love it just as we do.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fast Food - The Healthy Way

What would you cook if you have little time to spare, especially after a hard day's work and you are too tired to think or prepare the ingredients? Here's one dish I tried last evening, when I had to stay back in the office to finish some last minute assignment and ended up coming home almost an hour late.

With only about 45 minutes left before hubby hit the doorbell, I quickly washed the white rice in the cooker pot, rinsed some mushrooms and carrots, cut and diced them, then threw in the whole lot together, adding in dashi (a ready-made Japanese soup stock) and a little sake, and turned on the rice cooker.

Thirty minutes later, when I was done bathing and changing, hubby came home - a little earlier than expected. "Dinner should be ready in another 15 minutes. Please change and wash up, darling," I said. Sure enough, the rice cooker let out a pleasant melody to notify that dinner's cooked just as he's about done.

Though it's a simple vegetarian meal, hubby happily gobbled up almost three servings. Hmm... either it's tasty or he must've been really hungry!


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