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.

Advertisements

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……..

 

The “R” Word


I grew up in a place where your skin colour is a factor.

I grew up in a place where people also excelled based on their merits, in spite of their skin colour. You just have to work much harder.

Confused? If you are a Malaysian, you should understand what I am talking about.

Don’t get me wrong, Malaysians are generally very civilised and courteous people. You don’t encounter people throwing insults around in public just because of your skin colour. We live in harmony.

Your skin colour is only a factor “on paper”. It is justified because it is in the constitution and it is legal. We learnt about it in history during school and so, we live with it. It can get a little frustrating at times, but most of the time we tolerate. Those who could tolerate no more rarely fight back. Mostly they choose to become indifferent and simply leave.

Many weeks ago, I met someone who is pleasant. But as soon as I learnt where he is from, “someone who is pleasant” became “someone who may appear to be pleasant”. Because of his colour, my guards went up and I decided not to give him a benefit of a doubt with regards to his character and ethics. I gently closed my doors on him and decided not to “take any risks”.

The worst part of it all was he saw right through me and told me I am a racist.

I can justify my actions all I want – statistics, observations, instincts, stereotypes. That it was only self-defense. I can even say that I grew up in an environment that taught me to remember that race is always a factor.

At the end of the day, I did judge him because of the colour of his skin.

I realise I can be a racist at heart and I feel very ashamed.

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….)

 

What Would You Like On Your Eggs?


Sometime ago, I read this e-mail forwarded by a friend about a “mishap” which occurred live on a local Malaysian Radio show. The show was hosted by one of my favourites – Yasmin Yusuff, who was also crowned Miss Malaysia/Universe back in 1973.

I have always loved listening to her voice and wit on radio. This story is so good that it got stuck in my head until today, and possibly forever. Not too sure how true it is though. However, it never failed to make friends laugh when I tell it to them. So today, I am telling it to you 🙂

Yasmin was hosting her show as usual one morning and she posted a trivia live, prompting listeners to call her in with the answer. The first caller to answer correctly will win a prize. Her question that morning was:

“What is the common name for Sodium Chloride?”

In case you didn’t know the answer, it is simply Salt. About a minute later, this lady got through and attempted to answer the question.

Not knowing the answer, she asked Yasmin for a clue. Yasmin kindly responded, “This is something that you put on your husband’s eggs every morning.”.

Almost immediately after she heard the clue, the lady shouted excitedly on live radio, “TALCUM POWDER!!”

Yasmin went off air for commercial break for at least 10 minutes after that. Perhaps she should have said “This is something you put on your husband’s BREAKFAST eggs every morning!”

Have You Heard Of Yunalis Zarai?


Yunalis Zarai is a Malaysian singer-songwriter. I have seen her name appear in the Malaysian blogosphere many times before but never paid much attention. I thought she was just another teen pop sensation in the Malaysian music industry.

However, a few days ago, I read that she had gotten a contract with Fader Label from New York USA and has been actively performing around the US to promote her debut album Decorate. Decorate features songs in English and a few tracks in Malay language (Bahasa Malaysia), written entirely by herself. Her talent caught my attention, and if she could make it this far, I thought maybe she isn’t just another teen pop sensation.

More googling revealed that she has been an independent artiste, writing her own songs in her own unique style since she was 14. In 2006, 19-year old Yunalis Zarai, or better known by her stage name Yuna, gained popularity with her homemade music videos on her MySpace account, featuring herself singing her own songs with only her guitar. She has since graduated with a Law Degree, and started performing actively in acoustic gigs around Malaysia, singing in both English and Malay. She also went on to record an album which won her several music awards in Malaysia.

I decided to check her out to see what the buzz was all about this tall, slender and young singer with a conservative yet modern Muslimah (female Muslim) image. In fact, I was most impressed that Yuna did not compromise her Hijab (headscarf) wearing image to look more “commercial” as a singer and performer. I guess when you are as talented as Yuna is, all you really need is your voice and your music.

When I heard Yuna’s voice on You Tube, I was immediately reminded of the sounds of Norah Jones and Diana Krall. Perhaps a little of Colbie Callat too. She has such a distinctive smoky and sultry voice which is really captivating. Her style is jazzy (definitely not pop!) and her songs are very pleasant to listen to. Her lyrics tells stories. Yuna is no doubt a very talented artiste, a fresh flavour to add into the very much saturated music industry – both in Malaysia and the world. I hope she goes far 🙂

Here’s a very recent clip of Yuna performing her song Decorate live at Chicago’s IMAN Community Cafe. You can listen to more of her at YouTube, just search Yunalis Zarai. Enjoy her unique sound….!

P.S. She blogs too!

Malaysian Chicken Satay With Peanut Sauce


Our little project one weekend was to make Malaysian chicken satay with peanut sauce (which is also good for Pasembur, see end of post) – delicious spicy-sweet yumminess of grilled chicken meat on skewers served with a rich peanut sauce. There are many versions of Malay chicken satay recipe on the internet, this particular one was obtained from my friend Fariza who has tried, tested and proven that this recipe produces the most authentic Malay satay flavour!

The recipe is actually a simple one, but it calls for a variety of spices that I had to hunt around for. But once you managed to gather these, following it is easy-peasy. There are basically two main parts in executing this recipe; you have the chicken satay marinade, and the peanut sauce. Both of them uses similar spices but in different portions.These spices are galanghal, coriander seeds, cumin, lemongrass, turmeric and ginger. And oh also don’t forget bamboo sticks as skewers. Now, let’s get started!

Chicken Satay

1. Blend the following until a paste is formed:

  • 1 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon white pepper
  • 1 and a half tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1-inch bulb of galanghal
  • 1-inch bulb of ginger
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 3 cloves garlic

2. Season the paste by stirring in the following:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

3. Cut up 500 grams of chicken flesh into bite size pieces, marinade at least 2 hours with all the above.

4. Once marinated, stick about 4-5 pieces of chicken bites onto a skewer. Repeat until everything is skewered.

5. Grill chicken satay skewers in an oven preheated at 180 degree Celcius for about 30 minutes or until cooked, basting once in between with the leftover marinade.

Peanut Sauce

6. Blend the following until a paste is formed:

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • Half-inch bulb of galanghal
  • Half-inch bulb of ginger
  • 10 pieces dried red chilli or 1 tablespoon of chilli paste
  • 1/2 tablespoon of dried shrimp
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3-4 medium onions
  • 1 stalk lemongrass

7. Mix the following ingredients in a separate bowl:

  • 150 grams of raw peanuts (shelled and skinned), pounded coarsely
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons of tamarind paste diluted with 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

8. Sautee the blended paste (step 6) in about half a cup of hot oil in a medium saucepan, stirring frequently until fragrant about 15 minutes.

9. Pour in ingredients of step 7 into the saucepan and simmer in low heat, covered for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and/or sugar if necessary.

10. Serve chicken satay with fresh cucumber and onion cubes, with hot peanut sauce as dip.

The result – very authentic Malaysian chicken satay! This recipe works well for beef and lamb too.

If there is leftover peanut sauce, don’t throw it out, we made our own version of Pasembur, a Malaysian-Indian salad out of it. We used blanched and cut Chinese Spinach (Ong Choy), boiled potato cubes, shredded carrots, beansprouts, boiled eggs (quartered) and fried wanton pastry broken into bite sizes then poured the peanut sauce over as dressing. For a more hearty meal, mix in a serving of spaghetti noodles, cooked slightly a little over al-dente. Finger-lickin’ good!

Oooh, writing this post makes me crave for some authentic Malaysian chicken satay and peanut sauce!

Happy trying!