Tom Yum Paste

coverThe taste of Tom Yum is based on sour and spicy flavors. Tom Yum paste is meant to be the flavoring for Tom Yum soup, but it is also simply delicious as a marinade. It works wonders with all types of pork, chicken and seafood as well as pork. Just slather on this flavor-popping paste, then either bake, pan-fry, or grill for a dish that sings with authentic Thai taste! The paste is easy to make—just whip it up in your mini food chopper or food processor. It’s healthier than store-bought Thai pastes or marinades and tastes ten times better.

Makes about 1 cup

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Tamarind Juice
  • 15 to 20 dried red chili depending on your tolerance level of spiciness, softened in warm water
  • 3 to 5 fresh red bird chili
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, white parts only香茅, roughly cut
  • 5 small shallots or 2-3 big ones, peeled小红葱头
  • 1 big thumb of galangal
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves or 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or 2 tablespoons fish sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried shrimp, soaked in the water to soften
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup waterIMG_6343

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients into a food processor, blender or chopper. Add 1/3 to ½ cup of water to help the machine running. Blender till the mixture becomes paste. The paste does not have to be very smooth. Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate until ready to use.

 Tips for Using Tom Yum Paste

  • This paste is excellent over fish fillets or steaks, shrimp and other shellfish, or chicken or pork pieces before grilling. With fish and seafood, there is no need to marinate (the lime juice will actually begin to cook the fish and seafood)—just slather the paste over and cook right away.
  • If cooking for two, use only half the paste as a marinade and save the rest to make a delicious side sauce. Place half the paste in a small saucepan. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons coconut milk or coconut cream. Stir as you bring the sauce to a light simmer (avoid boiling, or you will lose the fresh flavor of this sauce). Drizzle over your entree, or serve on the side. Equally delicious over rice or new potatoes.
  • To use this paste for soup, bring a pot of good-quality chicken stock to a boil. Add spice paste a few tablespoons at a time, taste-testing as you go, until you’re happy with the flavor and spice level. Add more fish sauce instead of salt as needed. Add shrimp or tofu, plus desired vegetables. Coconut milk can be added for a creamier soup.

 

 

 

Chicken with Bell Peppers意式炖鸡

coverThis colourful one-pot dinner dish is warm and very comforting. And you may have all the ingredients on hand already.

Serves 4

  • 1.2 kg (about 2.5lb) chicken or 900gram chicken thigh, cut into serving pieces
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 120ml or (1/4 cup) white wine
  • 2 large bells, red, yellow or green, sliced into small strips
  • 2 big tomatoes or equivalent cherry tomatoes, fresh or canned, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon, dried parsley or use 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped

 Method

  1. Clean the chicken under running water. Pat dry with kitchen towel. Cut the chicken/chicken thigh into serving pieces. Season the chicken with salt ground black pepper.
  2. Heat half of the oil in a large heavy pan or casserole. Add the onions and cook over low heat until soft. Transfer to a side dish.
  3. Add the remaining oil to the pan and increase the heat to medium. Add the chicken and cook for 6-8 minutes to brown both sides. Return the onions to the pan, then add chopped garlic.
  4. Pour in the wine and cook until it has reduced by half. Add the pepper strips and stir well to coat. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Stir in chopped tomatoes. IMG_6270
  5. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for about 25-30 minutes. Stirring occasionally until the peppers have softened and chicken is cooked. Season with salt to taste.
  6. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

 

Mixed Green Salad with Apples, Goat Cheese and Walnuts

coverIt’s beautiful, healthy, easy to make, and a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Serves 3-4,

  • 200g              store-bought pre-washed mixed greens
  • 1 Gala or Fuji apple or any red, mild and sweet apples, core removed, unpeeled, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons                Walnuts, crumbled, toasted (optional)
  • 10g               goat cheese   crumbled

For the dressing

  • 1/2 tablespoon   white wine vinegar白葡萄酒醋
  • 1/2 tablespoon      balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon      lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon      honey
  • 1 teaspoon        dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon      olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoningIMG_5818

Method

  1. Thinly sliced unpeeled apple. Toss with the mixed greens, walnuts and goat cheese in a large salad bowl.
  2. To make the dressing, use a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients.
  3. Pour the dressing in the salad bowl and mix well right before serving.

Tips

  1. You can always pre-make the salad dressing and leave it in the fridge for up to 1 week.

 

 

Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies巧克力豆饼干qiǎo kè lì dòu bǐng gàn

IMG_6265After failure of various attempts, I came across this recipe. It was finally successful! The recipe is originated from one of my daughter’s favourite Geronimo Stilton series books. My reflection? Do choose and believe in the best children literature. They stimulate your children and occasionally you would find recipes that work!

Make  about 12 cookies

  • ½ cup (1 stick)  or 115g salted butter, softened
  • 1 ¼ cups  all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon        salt
  • ½ teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup             granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup             brown sugar
  • 1 large egg (60g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon  vanilla extract

 Method

  1. Leave the butter in the room temperature until softened.
  2. Combine together dry ingredients of all-purpose flour, salt and baking soda.
  3. Place the softened salted butter in a deep mixing bowl. Turn your electric beater into the slowest mode and beat the butter. Gradually add the granulated and brown sugar and keep beating. Then add the egg and vanilla extract. Keeping beating and mixing. The mixture will become fluffy and light. The whole process takes about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Mix in dry ingredients of all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt and the chocolate chips, fold with a spatula until dough forms.
  5. Make a log out of the dough and wrap it in parchment paper. Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180℃/360F°. Cut the log into 12 slices, roll each piece in a small ping pong ball, then use palm to press down to a cookie shape. Place 12 cookie pieces on a baking tray. Leave little space between the cookies. Bake them for about 15 minutes or until brown around the edges.IMG_6254
  7. Cool for about 20 minutes on a cooling rack for before enjoying.

 

Spring Pancakes or Peking Duck Pancakes春饼chūn bǐng

cover1Have a bite of Spring! Let’s celebrate the beginning of the spring with these warm, soft and chewy pancakes, or Chunbings春饼 in Chinese. They look like a healthy take on burritos, with bits of carrot and cucumber poking out the end, and they’re flanked with a sign that urges you to “bite into spring” (咬春yǎo chūn). Spring pancakes traditionally serve on Lichun (立春), an occasion that falls on any day between 3rd to 5th of February, and marks the beginning of spring. It’s believed that once you “bite into spring,” you won’t feel tired for the rest of the season!

In keeping with their healthy, low-fuss character, chunbings are easy to make: simply mix flour, hot water, roll out the dough, and steam for 15 minutes. And you’re done! The pancakes are pliable and chewy, providing a toothsome contrast to the crunch of fresh, seasonal vegetables. Like other bings, chunbings can also be julienned and stir-fried to makechaobing (炒饼, fried pancake). Peking Duck pancakes are just a bit smaller version of the Chunbings. The wrapped and filled pancakes can also be fried and become spring rolls春卷.

 Makes 15 pancakes and fillings

  1. Pancakes
  • 170g   all-purpose flour 中筋面粉
  • 95g   hot water (70C°)
  • 5 tablespoons cooking oil

2. Filling – Fried pork

  • 250g  pork loin or any lean part of the meat, julienne, thinly sliced into strings瘦猪肉切丝
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch淀粉
  • 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce生抽
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons cooking oil
  • ½ tablespoon ginger, minced姜末
  • 1 spring onion minced葱花
  • 2 tablespoons sweet bean paste甜面酱
  • 1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce老抽
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar, optional. Sugar helps balance the salty taste in case the sodium level in your store-bought sweet bean paste is too high.
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch + 1 tablespoon water to make water starch to help thicken the meat sauce水淀粉

3. Filling – eggs and veggies

  • ½ tablespoon,+ 1/2 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten + 1/3 teaspoon, salt
  • 100g, green bean sprout绿豆芽 + 100g chive韭菜 +1/3 teaspoon salt
  • ½ carrot 半根胡罗卜, thinly sliced
  • ½ cucumber半根黄瓜, thinly sliced

Dipping sauce

  • Sichuan chili oil 红油, optionalIMG_6108

Method

  1. Place 170g all purpose-flour in a mixing bowl, gradually add 95g hot water and mix by using chopsticks until you see small flour bits搅成棉絮状. Then use your hand to mix the dough well. Knead the dough for about 5-6 minutes till smooth. Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes. You can take a break or start slicing and preparation work for the fillings.
  2. Let’s make the pancakes now. If you have made homemade Chinese dumplings wrappers 饺子皮before, this would be easier for you as the techniques are pretty much the same. Roll the dough into a long ‘snake’ and divide it into 15 equal pieces. Simply use your hand to pick up each piece and pound in into the floured surface to make a small disc. Then use a rolling pin to smooth out each disc until it’s about 10cm in diameter – this would be a bit bigger than your dumplings wrappers.
  3. Brush a thin layer of cooking oil on both sides of each piece then stack them together. Remember you will want to the dough piece is entirely coated with oil. Do not miss a tiny part of it. Otherwise, your pancakes will be stuck together later. Use your palm to gently press down the dough stack to make sure they stick together nicely. Then place your rolling pin in the middle of the dough stack and gently smooth out the dough towards outside to make it bigger till about 18cm in diameter. Remember to work on the dough stack with even strength so your pancake will be consistent in thickness.
  4. Place the dough stack in a cheese cloth or parchment paper lined steam basket. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cover the basket and cook over high heat for 15 minutes. Once it is done. Turn off the heat or keep it to very low heat so the pancakes stay warm.
  5. In the meantime, let’s make the fillings. This is quite straightforward. Marinate pork slices with cooking wine, salt, soy sauce and corn starch. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Add cooking oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Cook minced ginger and spring onions for 1-2 minutes, then pork slices. Fry the pork till it is pale, or almost cooked. Add 2 tablespoons of sweet bean paste, fry for a minute. Season the pork with dark soy sauce and caster sugar. Add water starch (by mixing starch and water in a small bowl). Stir fry for another 1 minute. Then move the pork in a serving bowl.
  6. Get another small clean frying pan over high heat, place ½ tablespoon of cooking oil. When the pan is really hot, pour into the beaten eggs. Tilt your frying pan or move around your frying pan to help the egg liquid evenly spread in the frying pan. Turn to small heat. Cook for a few minutes. Then flip it and cook the other side till done. Your egg sheets 蛋皮are ready. You can move them out and cut them into small strings when ready to serve.  Add another ½ tablespoon of cooking oil in the same frying pan and stir fry chives and green bean sprout till done. Set aside.
  7. Now it is time to enjoy your spring pancake! Simply peel off one pancake (be a little gentle) from the pancake stack in the steam basket then wrap it your options of fillings. Remember that you always serve pancakes hot or at least very warm.

 

Banana Bread香蕉蛋糕xiāng jiāo dàn gāo

coverOverall, this is a SUPER easy recipe for classic banana bread. The batter takes about 10 minutes to throw together, the bread stays moist for days, and nothing beats the smell of fresh banana bread in the oven!

Makes 1 loaf,

  • ½ stick or 60g salted or unsalted butter, melted in the microwave and cool it off
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 large-size or 4 medium-size overripe bananas熟透的香蕉
  • 2 cups        all-purpose or plain flour中筋面粉
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda小苏打
  • 3/4 cup    brown sugar. Adjust the volume of sugar to your taste). You can use caster sugar but the smoky flavor of the brown sugar balances well with the fragrance of the banana.

IMG_6213

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F or 175℃. Melt the butter in the microwave. Cool it off.
  2. Lightly grease the loaf pan with a brush and a bit of melted butter.IMG_6214
  3. Whisk the flour, baking soda and brown sugar together in a large bowl.
  4. Combine melted butter and beaten eggs. Add into peeled banana. Mash the banana.
  5. Combine above dry ingredients (Step 3) and wet ingredients (Step 4). Fold well. Make sure no dry flour seen in the batter.Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Once done, let the loaf pan sit a 1-2 minutes before moving to the oven.
  6. Place the loaf pan into the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 60-65 minutes. You can insert a toothpick into the center of the bread. The bread is done if the toothpick comes out clean. Remove the loaf pan from oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. Then enjoy.IMG_6228

Tofu Sheets (Soy Skin) With Chili Pepper井冈山豆皮jǐng gāng shān dòu pí

cover (2)The dish can be quickly put together by using the ingredients possibly already existed in your pantry. And you will hardly have the chance to fail! The thin sheets of soy skin (tofu sheets) absorb the smokiness of the bacon and sweet and savouries of the cooking wine and soy sauce, making it a perfect comfort meal to go with a bowl of rice. The tofu sheets, pliable yet soft, contrasts beautifully with the crunchiness of the peppers and garlic sprout.

 Serve 2-4

  • 100g     2-3 Big sheets Tofu sheets (soy skin), cut into pieces in a dimension of 12cm. 豆腐皮剪成方块状 (make sure you get the plain one not the salty one. The plain one needs to be stored in the fridge or freezer.)
  • 1 tablespoon  cooking oil
  • 3 strips      bacon, cut into bite size
  • 3 cloves, garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 big  green chili pepper, cut into bite size
  • 2 small  red chili pepper, cut into bite size
  • 1/2 tablespoon   light soy sauce生抽
  • ½ tablespoon     dark soy sauce老抽
  • 1.5 tablespoon    good quality Chinese cooking wine (click here for homemade Chinese cooking wine)
  • 1 garlic sprout, you can substitute it with spring onion or simply skip it if you do not have it in your kitchen, separate white and green parts青蒜苗, cut into bite size
  • Salt to tasteIMG_6180

Method

  1. Place the cut tofu sheets in a colander. Wash under the running water. Or quickly wash them in the bowl. The sheets will turn soft immediately. Drain.
  2. Place cooking oil in a clay pot (or any frying pan) over medium heat. Add into sliced bacon and cook till fragrant and bacon starts shrink. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add green and red chili pepper and fry for 2 minutes. Add white part of the garlic sprout and fry for another 1 minute.
  3. Add soy sheets in the pot. Mix light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine in a small bowl and pour into the pot. Mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes till the sauce is almost absorbed by the soy sheets.
  4. Serve hot with a bowl of rice.