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.

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.

A Day For Spicy Meatballs


Earlier this week, I read about Kimberly’s Jizzgasmic Meatballs recipe which triggered my cravings for meatballs. I also thought that it was interesting that she used fresh chillies in her meatballs. I imagine it would give a lovely flavour kick to the meatballs and put a mental note to try it someday.

This morning I looked out the kitchen window to our backyard and there, an abundance of bright red chillies dangling from my flatmates’ chilli plants were screaming to be picked. (Hannah and Murray had mentioned that we should help them use up the chillies). I opened the fridge and was reminded I still have 3 slices of stale expired leftover bread in the freezer which will be good as breadcrumbs. I then looked into the kitchen cabinet and saw that the jar of pasta sauce I bought on special more than 3 weeks ago was yet to be opened. Then, there were packets of pasta – penne and spirals, which were given by a friend, still sitting in the shelf.

It was like I was given signs that I should make meatballs today!

Before I started, I recalled reading a lovely blog post Jane Ward had written in remembrance of her father and his special meatballs recipe. In her post, she mentioned her father’s meatballs were tender and flavourful. The secret was, he cooked the meatballs raw in the tomato sauce itself without frying it prior. Although initially shocked and worried that the meatballs might not be cooked through, she and her mother decided that his father’s meatballs were the best they ever tasted.

So, I decided to fry half of my meatballs prior to simmering in the sauce and the other half, I dropped them raw into the sauce to taste the difference myself. I used pork mince in this recipe because Kimberly used pork and also because I’ve never tried making pork meatballs before. Plus, Terry is more of a pork person than beef. However, I am very confident beef mince would work just the same.

Ingredients for meatballs:

  • 200g pork mince
  • 2 fresh red chillies, chopped finely
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • Breadcrumbs from 3 slices of bread (about half a cup)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs (from the bottle), or Basil or Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Ingredients for tomato sauce:

  • ~3 cups pasta sauce or 1 can tomato puree
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt to taste if required
  • Grated cheddar cheese or parmesan (optional)

Method:

  1. To make breadcrumbs, I microwaved  and cooled the slices of bread alternately in a microwave, 2 minutes at a time until they are completely dry and crispy. Then I break them into pieces and pounded them into breadcrumbs.
  2. Mix all the ingredients for meatballs in a big bowl.
  3. Shape the mince mixture into one-inch meatballs. Set aside.
  4. Heat a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of oil and fry the meatballs gently until browned and remove. If you are planning to drop them into the sauce raw, you may skip this step.
  5. Using the drippings in the pan, fry the chopped onions and garlic until fragrant. Top up with more oil if necessary.
  6. Pour in pasta sauce and stir in all seasonings. Add in about a cup of water and stir well.If you like it cheesy, you may add some grated cheese at this point. I added two tablespoons of leftover sun-dried tomato dip which has parmesan and ricotta cheese in it.
  7. When the sauce boils, carefully add in your meatballs, either raw or fried and stir a little to make sure meatballs are covered or smeared with sauce.
  8. Turn to low heat and simmer it covered for about 10 to 15 minutes or until raw meatballs are completely cooked.
  9. Serve hot on your favorite cooked pasta, garnished with grated cheese if you like.

I like the flavour that the fresh chillies are giving my meatballs and that slight heat. I find the meatballs dropped raw into the sauce to cook is indeed more tender but the taste is pretty similar to the ones fried. Next time, I won’t bother to fry the meatballs first, I’ll just drop them into the sauce to cook in one go. One less step, one less hassle 😉

This is a very versatile recipe for a classic comfort food dish. You can pretty much use any spices you want in the meatballs or sauce as long as it’s not too bizarre. I think I added a bit of everything I had in my kitchen in this recipe. Go crazy with it and happy trying!

Chinese Pork Stew


Chinese pork stew (low-jue-yoke) is one of my favourite dishes to make. Simply because everything is cooked in a single pot (yat-wok-suk!!), it lasts a few days and actually gets more flavourful day by day. Typical accompaniments for the pork are shiitake mushrooms and boiled eggs (low-dan). Ideally pork belly (fah-lam-yoke) should be used because of its decent fat to flesh ratio. Its alternate layers of meat and fat (mmmm…….) is very important to ensure your stewed pork won’t turn out stiff and dry! I am not a fan of shiitake mushrooms, but since Terry is not much of a pork person, I usually add in a fair amount of shiitake mushrooms to keep him happy.

Ingredients

  • ~300g pork belly meat, cut into bite sizes
  • ~8 pcs dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked til plump and soft, sliced
  • 3 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
  • Chinese 5-spice powder (ng-heung-fun)
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Cornflour (optional)

Method

  1. Marinate pork with one tablespoon of 5-spice powder and enough soy sauce to coat every piece. Set aside.
  2. To prepare gravy, mix the 3/4 cup of soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of five spice powder together in a bowl. Add about 1/2 cup water, stir. Set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a medium saucepan.
  4. Fry garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Pour in your gravy, bring to boil.
  6. Once boiling, add in pork, shiitake mushrooms and eggs. If needed, add more water until all ingredients are covered in gravy. If it looks too diluted, add some dark soy sauce and/or soy sauce carefully. Bring to boil.
  7. Once boiling, switch to low heat, cover and let simmer for about an hour or until pork is tender.
  8. Season with salt and sugar if needed.
  9. If you prefer to have your gravy slightly thick, stir in a teaspoon or two of cornflour (optional).
  10. Remove from heat and serve!

Like I mentioned, I find the dish more flavourful the next day. Its perfect on rice or even noodles (gon-lou). Please note this recipe is for a decent pot of pork stew enough for the two of us for like 2 days! Feel free to half it. Anyway, the most important thing is the gravy so as long as you have something blackish and enough to cover your stuff, it’ll work just fine, no matter the amount! I think this recipe can be directly applied for chicken feet and mushroom stew too (dong-goo-mun-gai-geok), simply by subsituting pork belly with fried chicken feet. Maybe you could give that a try too.