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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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.

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 😉

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……

Soft Yoghurt Buns


Happy Easter!

What have you been doing over the Easter long weekend? I’ve been productive and made these amazingly soft and fragrant yoghurt buns.

The best tasting and smelling buns I have ever made, yes even better than my last success! The recipe is so simple, the buns turned out soft and fluffy and even without the water roux paste method. The secret? Proper bread flour! They even tasted like buns from the bakery shops! Bread flour over all-purpose flour people, big difference!

They looked a little amateur, that’s because I am one! Room for improvement. But they taste oh so good….!

I used strawberry flavoured low-fat yoghurt, because I love strawberries. You can use any other flavoured yoghurt or plain yoghurt, it works just the same!

Here is the recipe, originally from here. Measurements using regular tablespoon and teaspoon, not the measuring type! This will yield 9 fist-sized buns.

Ingredients:

  • 250 g bread flour (about 2 cups)
  • 3 g dry yeast (about 1.5 teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 100 g low-fat yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Half an egg, lightly beaten
  • Remaining half an egg as eggwash

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients and make a well in the center.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix yoghurt, melted butter, milk and half a beaten egg until well combined.
  3. Pour wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix using a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.
  4. On a lightly floured flat surface, knead for 6 – 8 mins.
  5. The dough is on the sticky side and may be difficult to handle, just sprinkle hands with flour as you go.
  6. Put the dough in the bowl, cover with cling wrap and let rise in a warm place for an hour. I usually rise my dough inside the oven (not switched on) with a baking tray filled with boiling water on the bottom tray.
  7. AFter an hour, punch the dough down and divide into 9 equal balls.
  8. Arrange in a greased baking pan 3 buns by 3 buns, half an inch apart each other.
  9. Cover and let rise until double in size, about another 30 minutes.
  10. Brush the bun tops with eggwash and bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes.

A Pleasant Surprise


Last Thursday the 7th, I noticed a little spike on my daily blog stats. Just a little….. Not as significant as being Freshly Pressed but noticeable enough for me to be curious.

What a pleasant surprise to find out that CNN linked to me!

Yep, ST's me!

Many weeks ago, they did a compilation fo the World’s 50 Most Delicious Food. There was quite a buzz in the comment section. Some furious that their national food was “overlooked” while others argued that some in the list should be disqualified!

I, on the other hand, enjoyed reading the list and appreciated the recommendations of good food (complete with yummy pictures!) without thinking too much of the rankings 😉

Anyhow, Chilli Crabs was number 35. And since I had just made chilli crabs myself, I thought I’d just leave a comment and a link to my recipe. Nothing happened after that and I soon forgot about the whole thing.

Then last Thursday, CNN did a follow-up post and highlighted my link! Yes, finally I can be famous!

Of course I was very happy! The visits from CNN has since died down fairly quickly but I am still very pleased.

That was something  🙂

P.S. I should’ve done the same thing and linked to my Hainanese Chicken Rice and Malaysian Chicken Satay recipes! Both made the list too……tsk!

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  😉

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 😉

Try this easy chilli crabs recipe yourself!

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