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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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 ūüėČ

Chilli Crabs


Chilli crabs, a must order dish in Singapore. I haven’t tried the¬†authentic Singaporean chilli crabs before but this version must be somewhere there (hopefully).¬†A super-easy chilli crabs recipe from my recipe guru Fariza. Sweet, sour, juicy with a hint of spice – definitely a crowd pleaser. The best thing is, all the ingredients are probably sitting in your pantry as we speak.

Terry is a BIG fan of crabs but I have always avoided crabs at the supermarket like a plague because I don’t know¬†what to do with them. I guess the clamps and shell and the size scared me! Terry must be craving for crabs really bad because one day, he bought 4 live crabs at the Avondale morning market while my back was turned buying onions! It was really cheap he said. Thank goodness for Fariza¬† ūüėČ

Even armed with Fariza’s¬†recipe, I still had another problem. I didn’t know how to prepare the crabs for cooking. I have frozen the poor crabs to death from the day before and determined¬†to just do it. I was surprised¬†at how easy it actually was! With the crab’s belly facing upward, I stuck the knife’s tip into it’s behind, held the top shell down with it¬†and pulled its body upward. Voila, the top shell separated revealing the juicy flesh. I halved each crab symmetrically and rinsed everything. Now let’s start cooking!

Ingredients:

  • Approximately¬†1 kg¬†of crabs (4 medium-sized)¬†– cleaned, top shell removed and halved
  • Half cup sweet chilli sauce (I used Thai sweet chilli sauce)
  • Half cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder (I used meat curry powder)
  • 1 teaspoon chilli paste or 1 fresh red chilli chopped fine (optional)
  • 2 medium onions – one sliced,¬†the other chopped fine
  • 1 inch bulb of ginger – sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic – chopped fine
  • 2-3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons water

Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan, stir fry garlic, onion, ginger and chilli paste (if using) on medium heat until soft. 
  2. Turn to low heat, cover with lid and let it fry on its own as you prepare sauce mix.
  3. In a bowl, mix sweet chilli sauce, ketchup, curry powder and add water until you get a thick soup consistency.
  4. Pour sauce mix into saucepan, stir and turn to high heat.
  5. As the sauce boils, add in the crabs, stir gently so that crabs are covered or smeared with sauce.
  6. Add in sliced onions (no need to stir in), turn to low heat, cover and simmer until crabs turn pink. If you find sauce is too thick, add some water.
  7. Serve hot with rice or fried mantou buns.

The verdict –¬†really yummy¬†chilli crabs, Terry approves! I love the chilli sauce with a hint of curry and the rich flavours¬†from the crab juices. Excellent with rice or bread.¬†Crabs can now¬†be on my menu thanks to Fariza ūüėČ

Try this easy chilli crabs recipe yourself!

P.S. This fits the plan perfectly too (evil grinnnnn….)

 

Butter Prawns


When eating out, this is one of the favourite dishes to order at¬†Malaysian Chinese¬†restaurants. Juicy prawns with flavoursome and spiced butter-egg “threads”. I have wanted to try this for a long time but never bothered to look up the proper recipe. Finally, last week, I decided to give it a shot. I looked up a few recipes online and came up with one that was simplest and suited the ingredients that I already have at home. A surprisingly short recipe for something that looks and sounds sophisticated.

Ingredients:

  • ~200g prawns, dried with paper towels
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 2 big tablespoons butter
  • 10-15 pieces of curry leaves
  • 1-2 bird’s eye chili (cili padi), sliced – optional
  • Salt and sugar to taste

Method:

  1. Mix egg yolks and milk in a bowl, set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a hot pan.
  3. Using medium heat, pour yolk and milk mixture onto pan slowly, stirring continuously like you do scramble eggs.
  4. Continue stirring until small firm grains form, continue stirring non stop with the back of your spoon or spatula.
  5. Add in curry leaves and chili, continue stirring and tossing (about 10 minutes).
  6. Add salt and sugar to taste, continue to stir-fry until golden brown (about 10 minutes).
  7. Add in the prawns, turn on high heat and toss everything together.
  8. Remove from heat and serve hot.

*Note: I used shelled medium prawns which were pre-cooked. However, I think raw prawns with shells intact would work better. If you are using these, deep fry them in hot oil until pink beforehand.

Butter prawns in restaurants are served with butter fine threads instead of grains like mine. Haven’t figured out how to do that, but this recipe works fine for me. I have also tried this with crumbed squid rings which were deep fried beforehand. It works just as well. Happy cooking!