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.

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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……..

 

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.ย  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” dishย  ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.

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!

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

Prawns in Tamarind Sauce (Assam Prawns)


My granny used to make this dish and I always licked the plate clean. Even sucked the tamarind sauce out of the prawn shells. Perfect with rice.

May be I had too much of it growing up, I don’t really dig assam prawns anymore. But it is still one of my favourite dishes to make for dinner because it needs almost zero preparation. Un-shelled prawns works best.

Ingredients:

  • ~10 large prawns, shells intact or 12 – 15 medium un-shelled prawns
  • ~ 3/4 cups tamarind paste
  • ~ 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

Method:

  1. In a bowl, mix tamarind paste, dark soy sauce and sugar.
  2. In a frying pan, heat cooking oil and pour in sauce mixture.
  3. Let it bubble gently until slightly darkened and reduced. Taste and add sugar or soy sauce to balance the acidity of the tamarind.
  4. Add in prawns, stirring until sauce becomes caramelised and reduced and prawns are fully cooked.
  5. Serve with hot rice.

The tamarind sauce is actually a clever way to camouflage the fishy smell of prawns that are no longer fresh. So next time, if you discover a batch of prawns in the back of the fridge/freezer which you totally forgot about, don’t throw them out, make assam prawns ๐Ÿ˜‰

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio


Spaghetti with garlic and olive oil. So basic but so flavourful. I have wanted to try making Spaghetti aglio e olio for sometime but never got to it. Until I stumbled upon jars of anchovies for sale in the supermarket. There are many versions of spaghetti aglio olio recipes available on the internet but I had my eyes set on Rachael Ray’s, which calls for Italian anchovies.

I like how simple it is, I can whip it up in 20 minutes with minimal preparation. The anchovies are very salty so you don’t even need salt. I made/ate this 4 times already this week, I am officially addicted!

I simplified Rachel’s recipe a wee bit, making do without dry vermouth and substituting dried pepper flakes with red chilli powder. I didn’t have parsley so I used a sprinkle of Italian herbs which contain parsley. Works just fine for me.

This recipe makes one serving.

Ingredients:

  • ~100g dried spaghetti
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 or 2 anchovy fillet
  • 4-5 large cloves garlic (I love garlic!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder or one fresh red chilli de-seeded
  • Parsley (I used a sprinkle of Italian herbs)

Method:

  1. Boil spaghetti in a pot of slightly salted water according to packet instructions until al dente.
  2. While spaghetti is cooking, pound the garlic and fresh chilli (if using) until a paste is formed.
  3. Heat EVOO in a frying pan on medium heat.
  4. Add in anchovies and stir/break it up until it melts into the oil. (Mine didn’t melt completely, but its okay!)
  5. Add in garlic paste and chilli powder (if using), stir and let it sizzle gently in the anchovy oil.
  6. Sprinkle parsley or Italian herbs, stir for another 2 minutes on medium heat. By now the spaghetti would have finished cooking.
  7. Add cooked spaghetti together with a little pasta cooking water into the pan and mix around until well coated.
  8. Serve hot.

I like to eat mine with plenty of fresh cucumber slices or lettuce leaves. I think it compliments the saltiness of the anchovies very well. Mmmmmmm……