Stuffed Tofu Puffs


I don’t like tofu. In fact I don’t like anything made from soybean, I find its smell off-putting.

That means I don’t take soybean milk and soybean pudding (tau-foo-fah) as well. Yes, I am a weird Chinese.

But, I love fermented soybean products. Soy sauce and fermented beancurd are my friends. My scientific explanation is that once its fermented, that “tofu smell” is not there anymore so I am no longer put off!

So anyway, this is one dish that I make very often but do not touch at all! It is my version of yong-tau-foo or stuffed tofu puffs. I make this for Terry because he is not a weird Chinese like me!

If you don’t like tofu like me, substitute tofu for okra (ladies fingers), eggplant, capsicum and other vegetables that can be stuffed! It also works well with tofu sheets.

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet tofu puffs
  • 100 g lean pork mince
  • 100 g prawn flesh, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • Dried squid, about the size of a tablespoon or two, soaked and chopped fine
  • Ginger, about 1cm, peeled and chopped fine
  • A quarter of a large onion, chopped fine
  • 2 – 3 large dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and chopped fine
  • Seasonings: sesame oil, salt, pepper and fish sauce

Method:

  1. Apart from the tofu puffs, mix everything together until you get a well combined mince mixture.
  2. Season with soy sauce, salt, pepper and fish sauce.
  3. Sample half a teaspoon of mixture, microwave for 20 seconds to cook and taste. Re-season if necessary.
  4. Slice each tofu puff to make an opening.
  5. Stuff with half teaspoon of mince mixture each and press gently to “seal”. If you made too much mince mixture, don’t worry, freeze it in a container for later.
  6. On medium heat, pan fry stuffed tofu puffs, mince side down until browned.
  7. Brown each side of the stuffed tofu until crispy.
  8. Serve hot with rice or noodles.

Assam Laksa Fix


 

Like most Malaysians, I looooove Assam Laksa. Not to be confused with Curry Laksa, Assam Laksa has no cream and is not even a curry at all.

Assam Laksa consists of thick rice noodles in a spicy and sour fish broth, often served with slices of cucumber, onion and pineapple. Sometimes a dollop of Malaysian shrimp paste (hae ko or petis udang) is added too.

Recently I discovered an easy way for an Assam Laksa fix at home – instant laksa soup paste!

In a saucepan, I mix 800 ml of water with the whole packet of laksa paste, plus approximately 100 g of mackerel fish flesh. I used about half a can of mackerel in natural oil, de-boned and mashed. To make my assam laksa broth more flavourful, I also add in one tablespoon of the natural mackerel oil, a handful of vietnamese mint leaves (daun kesum) freshly plucked from my garden, a few dashes of vinegar and fish sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes and my assam laksa broth is done.

I like my assam laksa with lots of fish pieces, sliced cucumber, onion, pineapple (have to make do with canned ones), hard-boiled egg and a dollop of shrimp paste. Not as good as those from Penang but decent enough to ease my craving. MMmmmmm……..

 

Lucky Twix


I bought myself some chocolate bars the other day – $5 for any 5. I picked 1 x Snickers, 2 x Bounty and 2 x Twix.

I was about to dig into one of the Twix bars in the car (I always couldn’t wait until I get home) when I noticed they are running a campaign: instant Twix bar giveaways.

It says on the wrapper that 1 in 6 Twix bars instantly wins another free bar. Hmmm……could I be a lucky one? 1 in 6 is a pretty high chance.

Look inside to find out it says…….

Yayyyy…..I won myself a free Twix bar!

Always nice to win something, even if it’s just a chocolate bar :)

Pork Mince with Shiitake Mushrooms, Wood-Ear Fungus and Preserved Radish


I sort of made this recipe up myself.

I thought it will be nice to have juicy pork mince with chewy shiitake mushroom, the slight crunch of wood-ear fungus and preserved radish in a mouthful. And so that’s what I did!

It turned out to be very nice.  Versatile too. It can be served with rice or as a topping on noodles. It keeps very well in the fridge because it’s basically without a sauce. I usually prepare a large portion and store it in an airtight container in the fridge to be consumed over a few days. A very handy “stand-by” dish  ;)

Ingredients:

  • 150 – 200 g lean pork mince
  • 4 – 5 shiitake mushrooms, soaked until soft and sliced
  • A handful of wood-ear fungus, soaked and sliced finely
  • 2 – 3 pieces of preserved radish, rinsed and chopped finely
  • 3 – 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 fresh red chilli, de-seeded and chopped finely (I ran out of fresh chilli so I used half teaspoon of chilli powder)

Seasonings:

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark sweet soy sauce
  • A pinch of salt
  • A few dashes of fish sauce
  • A few shakes of white pepper powder

Clockwise from upper left: shiitake mushrooms, wood-ear fungus, garlic and preserved radish

Method:

  1. Marinade pork mince with the seasonings for at least an hour or overnight.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a frying pan.
  3. Stir fry garlic and pork mince until cooked, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add in chilli or chilli powder then radish, stir fry a minute.
  5. Add in mushroom and fungus, stir fry for a minute.
  6. Taste and season with additional soy sauce and dark soy sauce if necessary.
  7. Stir fry for another 5 minutes, season and taste as you go.
  8. Remove and serve hot.

Calendar Girls


My girlfriend, Serene and I bought 50% discount vouchers to the Calendar Girls, a newly opened gentleman’s club in Auckland.

Read: a strip club.

I have always been curious so finally I went  ;)

The stage has 2 poles and is set right in the centre of the room. Small tables with sofa seats against the walls were arranged around the stage. So everyone has full view of the girls ahem! Apart from the entry fees, there is also a bar where you can, at additional charge, buy drinks and purchase Calendar Girls tokens to tip the girls….totally optional.

Girls took turns on stage, one girl at a time for one song and walks around every table fishing for tips after each dance routine….topless of course! I would say all the girls were very attractive, young and graceful on stage. Most were slender while some were curvy.

Serene and I purchased a limited number of tokens (they’re not cheap!) and were busy deciding which few girls were hot enough to deserve a tip, while 2 asian guys at the next table were making pretty loud comments about the girls’ bodies but never given out a single tip to any girl! Tsk tsk…….!

The girls were all cheeky while fishing for tips and will give you a peck on the cheek or a hug after you slip them a tip into their thong. Then there was this girl who was in a sexy policewoman outfit and did a lively routine on stage.

Serene and I both thought she deserved a tip. And so we both slip her a tip each into her thong. I told her she is really hot. She was so delighted that she climbed onto Serene and gave her a dry hump and took off my glasses and gave me a motorboat!

Don’t know what a motorboat is? Click here.

Okay, to clarify things, there were no sounds involved and she was doing all the shaking! I was too stunned to move!

And that was my experience at a strip club. Not too bad eh? ;)

Pandan Chiffon Cake


Morning markets in Malaysia have abundance of these chiffon cakes to sell. I used to eat pandan chiffon cake for breakfast almost every morning when I was a kid. To the extend that I don’t fancy it anymore. Sure chiffon cakes are light, soft and fluffy but I begin to find it dry, bland and like eating a piece of sponge!

20 years down the line, I am craving for the cake I had for breakfast so often as a kid. The asian bakeries here sell chiffon cakes at ridiculous prices because it is “rare”!

So I consulted the 21st century oracle that is Google and found this recipe that is reasonably do-able and produces a soft, fluffy and fragrant pandan chiffon cake. And surprisingly moist too. Definitely better than those I ate as a kid.

You will need 1.5 cups of self-raising flour and 3 bowls/containers to organise the following ingredients:

Bowl A

  • 165 ml (1 small can) coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pandan essence
  • Half teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Green food colouring (until a light green colour is achieveed)

Bowl B (Mixing bowl)

  • 6 egg whites
  • Half cup sugar

Bowl C (Large mixing bowl)

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Method:

  1. Heat up the oven to 160 degrees Celcius.
  2. Start by preparing the ingredients of Bowl A in a container, stir to combine. Set aside.
  3. Seperate 6 eggs – yolks into a large mixing bowl (Bowl C) and whites in another large bowl suitable for mixing (Bowl B), and add sugar accordingly to each bowl.
  4. Bowl A: Using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form. Keep in the fridge.
  5. Bowl B: Beat the yolks and sugar until pale and triple in size.
  6. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in flour into yolk mixture gradually until well combined.
  7. Pour ingredients in Bowl A into Bowl B (yolk mixture) and stir to combine.
  8. Slowly and gradually, gently fold in the egg whites (Bowl A) into Bowl B until well combined. Careful not to deflate the mixture too much.
  9. Pour batter into a 12-in round cake tin and bake immediately at 160 degrees Celcius for 50 minutes on middle rack.
  10. Cool the cake upside down for at least an hour.

Yes, you read the last step right. It is very important to cool the chiffon cake upside down to ensure it stays light and fluffy after cooled instead of squished due to gravity. Therefore, it is essential to have a special chiffon cake pan that is somewhat like a ring cake pan.

The chiffon cake can rise very high in the oven and if you cool it upside down, it stays at this height after its cooled

I don’t have a chiffon cake pan and I have used a regular spring-form round cake pan. Sometimes my chiffon cake held together as I invert it to cool upside down, but a few times it fell from the pan flat! So I didn’t take the risk to invert it this time and my chiffon cake is a little squished at the bottom. It turned out quite decent nevertheless.

Not so high anymore!

Note to self: Buy chiffon cake pan!

Prawns Overdose


A few weeks ago, I bought a group deal voucher for a all-you-can-eat prawns offer for 2 people at the Auckland Fish Market. And along with the prawns you get free flow of salads, chips, garlic bread and dips too. $50 for a two hour seating period. Quite a steal if you ask me.

So Terry and I went. The verdict? Nice ambience, tasty chips and garlic bread, a generous salad spread and of course, prawns overdose! We did pretty well in two hours. I think we could have easily downed a kg of prawns each in addition to the salads, garlic bread and chips!

Fresh garlic bread, chips and dips

The salad bar - beans, pasta, potatoes, coleslaw and greens

Our first serving of freshly steamed prawns

It was a little chilly at the open-air setting but luckily the heater saved the day

Our second serving of prawns because we can!

Happy Grass Konnyaku Jelly


Define dessert. Something that is sweet, good and heavenly but usually does not fill you up for long despite containing calories as high as one complete balanced meal.

I have a very sweet tooth and also trying to control my daily calorie intake. Not a good combination.

Mango flavoured konnyaku jelly powder

Then there’s Happy Grass Konnyaku Jelly powder. It comes in so many fruit flavours – lychee, mango, strawberry, kiwi fruit, apple etc. One packet (250 grams) of jelly powder yields 1.5 kg of yummy fruit jelly. That’s one 9 X 9-inch square pan of crystal clear konnyaku jelly. Total calories: only 183!

Its vegetarian, fat free, gluten free, egg free, dairy free and halal…..and oh-so-yum! Guaranteed to please everyone. It has a very high fibre content too. What more can a dieter ask?

Dissolve the jelly powder in 1250 ml of water and bring to boil, then add in the provided Malic acid, pour into a square baking pan to cool and chuck the whole thing into the fridge to set completely. Or, you can pour it into pretty little moulds with pieces of fruit like the illustration on its packet. I think its tasty enough on its own. Plus, I am lazy and I don’t want to add in extra calories :)

I usually cut my jelly into squares and eat them straight from the pan over a few days. Or, I serve them in a nice glass bowl. Very presentable if you have guests over.

One 9 X 9 inch pan like mine easily yields 64 jelly squares. That’s less than 3 calories per square!

Definitely my kind of dessert/snack.

My Make-up Box


The last time I de-cluttered (again), I threw out almost 90% of my make-up products. All expired and barely used. What a waste.

I use make-up only when there is an occasion. Also, I am lazy to do it on a daily basis when I don’t really need to. Nevertheless, I felt necessary to own every eye shadow and lipstick and blusher shade – just in case. How silly. Everything expired before I even had a chance to apply it. I mean, how many special occasions are there in a year?

When I replenished my make-up collection I decided minimalism is the way to go. I like the nude and subtle look because I believe in applying make-up to enhance your features, not paint them. So, neutral earth colours it is.

This is a list of my entire make up collection and they do the job for me wonderfully:

  1. Elianto BB Cream, natural shade number 02.
  2. Maybelline Mineral power foundation powder.
  3. Cover Girl TruConceal concealer.
  4. Lo’real Infallible eyeliner in black. A thin line for a simple day look and smudged lines for a smokey evening look, with or without eyeshadow. Doubles up as an eyebrow pencil for me too – dabbing it along my brows and smudging it using the built-in smudger to blend into and shape my natural browline.
  5. Maybelline Expert Wear eyeshadow in Natural Smokes. Can be either applied lightly in the day or used to build colours for a smokey eye finish in the evening.
  6. Maybelline Falsies VolumExpress waterproof mascara. Because I have short and droopy eyelashes.
  7. Sally Hansen lip gloss, one in nude and one in peach/pink.
  8. Thin Lizzy 6 in 1 Professional Powder in Light as my blusher. When travelling, this is my blusher, eyeshadow and face sculptor/bronzer all in one. Love it.

When I bought my Thin Lizzy, it came as a set with a brown and black eye pencil and a clear lip gloss. Otherwise, I only have one of each essential makeup product. My makeup box is well equipped to create a few different looks for me. It is complete and minimalist. I am happy.

How many make-up products do you have and actually use?