Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kueh Dadar

I've eaten this for years without knowing the name for this. Well, now I do. It's called Kueh Dadar. It's a coconut dessert that resembles a spring roll. The skin of the roll is made from a coconut cream based batter... and the filling is made from grated coconut with gula melaka (palm sugar)

Here's the recipe from A, my Peranakan cooking "si-fu":

For the skin
250ml coconut cream
250ml water
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
220 sieved plain flour
1tbsp tapioca flour
Some food colouring
For the filling
250g grated gula melaka
500g grated coconut
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp tapioca flour mixed with 2 tbsp water

For the skin
1. Mix everything together, except for the food colouring
2. Strain into a bowl so that the batter is smooth
3. Add food coluring and let stand for 30 mins
4. Grease a frying pan
5. Pour enough batter to cover the pan thinly and remove the pancake when the sides curl slightly
For the filling
1. Boil the sugar, gula melaka with 3 tbsp water and pandan leaves until everything turns syrupy
2. Add the coconut and stir until almost dry
3. Mix in the tapioca flour mixture and cook for about 5 mins
To put everything together1. Fill each pancake with 2 tbsp of coconut filling.
2. Enclose the 2 sides and roll as you would a spring roll

A also taught us to serve the kueh dadar with a delectable coconut cream sauce which is made up of coconut cream, water, a bit of plain flour, rice flour, sugar and salt and cooked with pandan leaves until the mixture boils. I've never eaten this dessert with a sauce before but I must say the sauce add a nice finishing touch to the dessert.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Weekday Dinner

It's been about 6 months since I've started work full-time again, and it is turning out to be a bit of a challenge to cook dinner at home at a weekday.

Usually, I'd try to cook one weekday night a week and it'd usually be a one dish meal - roasted chicken with vegetables, fish soup with tofu and vegetables or noodles.

The Mother-in-law is here for 2 weeks and what that means is we'd be having lots of homecooked meals.. and most importantly, lots of yummy soup!

My version of a fuss-free dinner - roasted chicken with 
sausages and pumpkin. Brocolli and other greens are added 
towards the end of the roasting process for a more complete meal

Stewed Pork and Chicken, Peranakan Style

Babi Pong Teh is something I almost never order in a restaurant. I don't really fancy pork. But the sauce looks really good and I'm pretty sure the dish will work very well with chicken as well.

Fortunately, when A taught us this dish, she also added some chicken, so I was able to try this dish. If I were to make it at home, I'd definitely be making Ayam Pong Teh (stewed chicken), instead of Babi Pong Teh (stewed pork).

1 kg chicken
(or 500g pork trotters and 500g pork shoulder)
500ml water
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp taucheo, or soy bean paste
Rempah (see recipe below)

Recipe for Rempah
120g shallots, finely chopped or grounded
4 pcs garlic, finely chopped or grounded
Mix the above well with 1 tbsp of toasted coriander seeds

1. Marinate the meat with dark and light soy sauce and sugar
2. Heat a wok and fry the rempah until fragrant
3. Add tau cheo and fry for another 2 minutes
4. Add meat and 250ml of water. Stir for about 10minutes
5. Add 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise and 4 cloves, if desired (this step is optional)
6. Pour in remaining water and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the meat is tender

Potatoes and bamboo shoots can also be added into the dish to make it a more complete meal. This dish is traditionally served with fresh green chilli.. but if you don't like it (like me), you can omit the chilli.

Taucheo is fermented yellow soy beans and it is salty, but very flavorful with a smokey and somewhat yeasty taste. It can be found in a bottled form at most Chinese groceries stores.

The rempah for this dish doesn't look like the rempah 
I'm used to - all red because of chillis and tumeric. 
This rempah is made up of shallots, garlic and coriander seeds


Simmering away..

The final product

This dish goes very well with brown rice or a crusty bread

Prawns in Pineapple Gravy

The colourful ingredients that go into this dish

This is another seriously overdue post - I have not been updating my blog as often as I liked to recently.

I went to A's place again in September and this time, she taught us 3 Peranakan recipes - Prawns/ Fish in Pineapple Gravy (Udang/ Ikan Masak Nenas), Stewed Pork (Babi Pong Teh) and Coconut Spring Roll (Kueh Dadar).

My favourite is definitely the Prawns/ Fish in Pineapple Gravy since I don't really eat pork.. It is a very nice soup-like dish, with a strong fruity flavour. It is also relatively easy to make, so this is something I would definitely want to try at home

1 medium size fish, cut into large pieces
8 - 12 large prawns
Half a pineapple, cut into large pieces
Half a ginger flower (or sometimes also called "rojak" flower, sliced into thin pieces)
Some laksa leaves and tumeric leaves
Assam juice (1 golf ball size tamarind pulp mixed with 500ml of water and then drained)
Rempah (See recipe below)

Recipe for Rempah (spiced paste, a must in most peranakan dishes)
3 fresh red chilli
1 tsp belachan
1 pc tumeric (kunyit)
1 pc galangal (lengkuas)
100g shallots
2-4 cloves garlic
2 pcs lemongrass (bruised with the back of a knife)
4 pcs assam skin
To make the rempah, just blend everything together until smooth

1. Put rempah and lemongrass into a pot
2. Add assam juice
3. Bring to boil
4. Add fresh pineapple slices and assam skin
5. Add prawns or fish and season to salt and sugar
6. Add the ginger flower
7. Garnish with laksa leaves and tumeric leaves

The secret ingredient in this dish is the ginger flower! And of course you have to use really sweet and juicy pineapples.

Personally, I would use only very large prawns for this dish and cook them only for a very short while, so that they are still soft and springy.

Prepare everything separately

Then bring the dish together in 1 big pot

Be sure to have the rempah, lemongrass, pineapple 
and assam boil away for a bit before adding the seafood

This is how it looks like after everything is done
I like the pineapples and the soup more than the seafood!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Admirable Woman

I have never been the least bit interested in politics.

Sure, Singapore is a nice and safe place to live in. Our leaders are competent and things work around here. Don't expect me to think though that we have leaders who love the country and would do anything for it. I just think everyone does what they do to achieve what they desire - whether it is money, power or self-actualization.

And so, I have little interest to ponder over and comment about the lives of our leaders.

But with the passing of Mrs Lee, one cannot help but read about her life because every other article on the Straits Times iPhone App during those few days was about her and her life.

A comment by her beloved husband really touched me.

"Without her, I would be a different man, with a different life."

This must be the ultimate compliment one can get from one's life-long companion. (Although you could read that sentence in a bad way.. which of course was not what he meant)

I felt quite touched reading that. It reminded me of another admirable woman I've read about:

"A wife of noble character who can find
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
there he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."

-- Proverbs 31

The above is, of course from the Bible and the woman that is being referred to is often called The Proverbs 31 woman.

How amazing and wonderful it is to be that someone who "brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life."

This will be the image of Mrs Lee that I'd carry with me from henceforth - an admirable woman and wife, who brought with her everything good into her husband's life.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant

I never knew that there is a Teochew restaurant at Boon Keng. Liang Kee is located at a corner of Boon Keng, on the ground floor of a HDB block.. and is very well hidden from the main road.

Overall, I find the food alright. My family thinks that for the location that Liang Kee is at and the quality of the food.. the pricing is a bit on the high side. I don't really mind the location that much.. but I couldn't find a dish that was exceptionally good and would make me want to come back to for.

Some dishes we had were pretty good.. like the braised duck and stir-fried kau choy with prawns. The oyster omelette was too oily and not good at all.. The prawn rolls and yam paste (dessert) were average.

If I had a craving for Teochew food and do not wish to travel to town, this is probably the place I would go to.

The food came suspiciously fast and service is really prompt. So it is a good choice for a quick dinner. However, in my opinion, it would also be better to visit during non-peak hours - the noise level at peak dinner hours was a little unbearable. 

Steamed peanuts, my favourite

Deep fried prawn rolls

Braised duck with tau kwa

Fried oyster omelette - extremely oily

Fried kau choy with prawns - a surprisingly delicious dish

Yam paste - Average, we call agree that they make it better at Boon Tong Kee

Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant
Add: Blk 34 Whampoa West #01-27
Tel: +65 6297 7789

Ten Things I Love to Do

This post is seriously overdue. I've been so busy at work that I haven't had much energy to do very much apart from working.. A lot of posts I've started ended up accumulating in my to-finish list.. because I haven't found the time to finish posting.

Malar was the one who invited me to play this game on my blog - what I'm supposed to do is to list out 10 things I like and then invite 10 other bloggers to do the same. She is a lady I got to know through blogging though I've never met her - she has a beautiful garden, by the way, as you can see from her blog..

Now, I read a lot of blogs that Malar also reads.. so unfortunately, I don't think I can name 10 other bloggers that she hasn't already named.. so I've just tagged Evan, Hap(py), Sinfonia, and Sky.. and the rest of you who may not blog.. pls do list out 10 things you like to do in the comments below..

Here is my list:
1. I love to cook - I may not be a good cook but I usually like whatever I cooked. Cooking is therapeutic to me and nothing beats cooking up a big storm and watching people I like eat everything up. I especially like baking and roasting.

2. I love to eat. My favourite cuisine is Japanese. But I also like Italian food.. Chinese food.. Korean food.. American food.. junk food... well you get the idea. My favourite food in the world is eggs.

3. I love to eat desserts. And let me emphasize, this is not a repeat of the above. Desserts are a special category of food that deserves to be specially mentioned. I especially like eating cakes.. and anything with chocolate is good.

4. I love to travel. There are lots of places I haven't been to that I want to go.. If you have seen the "Eat, Pray, Love" movie.. one of the things Julia Robert did - which was staying in Italy for 4 months.. is something I would love to do. I would love to live for a few months in Tuscany and learn cooking from all the Italian mums!

5. I love to garden. There is something very relaxing about getting all hot, tired, dirty over a few plants. It is also exciting to watch them grow up, flower and even better, fruit! One day, I'd have a huge and flourishing garden.. or better yet, a mini-farm!

6. I love to watch TV. The range of shows I watch is very wide - from CNN to Japanese and Korean dramas to Taiwanese food shows. I'm quite an expert when it comes to Travel and Living Channel (now called TLC) programs!

7. I love shopping - online or offline. I am trying to shop less currently, so I shall not go into this too much.

8. I love to repeat doing things I like. Yep, you heard me right. I love to repeat doing things I like - whether it is re-watching a favourite TV series, or re-reading a good book, re-making a dish I really like.. or re-visit a restaurant I really like. I like repeating over and over again until I get enough of it and then move on to my next favourite thing..

9. I love to look at the sky. If I am a painter, the sky is something I would love to "specialise" in - just because it looks different everyday so I will never run out of ideas and things to paint! The sky also reminds me how big God is.. and how creative he is.

10. This is very strange.. but I think I love to work. It's not the work.. but the interacting with people I really like. Someone told me when I started work that if you treat people with your heart, you'd find that working is not about just networking, but also about making friends. Many people don't believe in friends at work, of course.. but some of my favourite peoples in the world are people I've worked with.

A collage on some of the things I like

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunset Hibiscus

I got the seeds for this Sunset Hibiscus (Abelmoschus Manihot) earlier this year from a lady from the GCS forum. It took me a while to grow them because my garden was undergoing some changes.

I germinated these seeds and then promptly forgot what they were. Well, finally the flower bloomed and I realised what they were - edible sunset hibiscus. The leaves and flowers of this hibiscus can be eaten either raw in salads or cooked. Such a useful and elegant looking plant!

See here for more useful information about this plant.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Homemade Onde Onde

We had a special dinner at my parent's place tonight to celebrate my brother's birthday.

I decided to make some onde onde for dessert. I have learnt how to make onde onde in August from A, and it was time to put what I've learnt into practice.

It wasn't too difficult to get the ingredients for the onde onde (or sometimes spelt as ondeh ondeh).

But I did buy the wrong kind of freshly grated coconut. I did not tell the seller to remove the skin of the coconut - so the grated coconuts came with all the bits of brown coconut skin.. which is no good for anything but squeezing coconut milk. So I had to go to the market again to get the correct ones, which should look like this. The freshly grated coconut should look like this:

For some reason, the "skin" of the onde onde was very soft.. and some of the gula melaka leaked out as I boiled them.. so my mum said she ate a couple with no gula melaka inside! Otherwise though, I thought they tasted great. I'd have to try wrapping more gula melaka inside next time so that the coconut sugar syrup will "burst" out when one bites into the onde onde.

The onde onde before boiling

After boiling, roll the onde onde in freshly 
grated coconut and dessert is ready

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Durable Orchids

Another plant I bought against my own instincts - In my mind, orchids are very hard to grow and very easy to kill.

But this plant was so beautiful - there are so many flowers and buds on the plant when I saw it.. I was very much tempted to buy it.

So buy it I did. And after almost 3 weeks.. there are still lots of flowers on the plant. Wow.. I didn't know that the flowers are so... durable. I mean.. up to now, most of the flowers in my garden are those here-today-gone-tomorrow type. So it's really nice to see the flowers on the plant day in and day out.

Being a newbie to orchid growing, I find this article from GCS really helpful. Basically - enough sunlight and minimal watering.

Anyone wants to share any good links or tips for growing orchids in a tropical climate?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Very Skinny Pizza

I've always wanted to try this restaurant - Skinny Pizza at Suntec. When they opened a branch at Raffles City, I knew it was the next place to go for lunch with G, when she comes over during lunch time to eat with me.

I like pizzas with thin crust, so I often make thin crust pizzas myself. But the pizzas at Skinny Pizza are reaaaallly very skinny - the crust is paper thin, like a very thin cracker.

The food there is delicious. We had the Squid Ink pizza, which came with a thin, wafer-thin black crust with prawns, calamari, onions and arugula leaves. The squid ink sauce is really nice - it tasted like squid ink with mayonnaise. The pizza is not small but because of the crust, it is not that filling... and certainly not that sufficient for two.

We had the pizza together with an Ahi Taki salad, which waas a really nice salad with some grilled maguro (tuna) chunks with raisins, pistachios, avocado, tomatoes and arugula leaves.

Overall, I had a really good meal at Skinny Pizza and I think it might just be one of my new favourite restaurants.

The price is a bit on a high side.. but all the ingredients used are really quite fresh and good.

Skinny Pizza
Raffles City Shopping Centre, basement 1