Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Curried Pumpkin Fritters in Spicy Mayo

If pumpkin isn't your cup of tea, this might just change your mind! It is so super delicious that I could have finished the whole plate all by myself. Sweet little pumpkin batons covered in a crunchy curry-flavoured batter, then tossed in a spicy mayonnaise sauce. I actually made this two days in a row, and I should probably wait a while before making it again. Ahem...not exactly friendly to the waistline. 

The difference between the first picture above and the one below is that with the first one, I poured the mayonnaise over the pumpkin, then tossed it in the wok. That way, the fritters are coated in the creamy sauce. With the one below, I fried the mayonnaise before tossing in the pumpkin, which was what the recipe requested, and of course, the mayonnaise turned to oil. These fritters also taste fantastic on its own (without the sauce) and make a great snack.

Here is the recipe:

Curried Pumpkin Fritters in Spicy Mayonnaise
Adapted from Kuali.com

450g pumpkin (clean weight), cut into thick slices
5 bird's eye chillies, chopped
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 tbsp butter
4 tbsp mayonnaise
1/8 tsp chilli powder
Batter ingredients:
1 tbsp meat curry powder
Dash of ground black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup self-raising flour
1 tbsp rice flour
1 tbsp cornflour
100ml water
½ tsp oil
  1. Combine batter ingredients in a mixing bowl and leave aside for 5-6 minutes.
  2. Dip pumpkin pieces in the batter and deep-fry in hot oil until golden brown. Remove from oil and set aside.
  3. Melt butter in a wok and fry curry leaves and bird's eye chillies until fragrant. Toss in the pumpkin and add mayonnaise and chilli powder. Toss well to coat the pumpkin pieces evenly. Dish out and serve immediately. Sprinkle with some dried chilli flakes if desired for extra spiciness!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Deep-fried Vegemite Pork

My friend, Joanna, was contemplating making a Vegemite Pork dish and wondered if it would work as well as Vegemite Chicken. I have tried making Vegemite Chicken before, but never attempted using pork. I guessed it would be like sweet and sour pork, but with a rich and salty base instead. Fortunately, I had a slab of pork belly in the freezer. So I started looking for recipes and found one on Kuali.com, which uses Marmite instead. I haven't eaten Marmite in a long time (not since my babyhood days when I used to have it with congee), but I think it's sweeter and milder compared to Vegemite, which tends to have a slightly more bitter aftertaste. So I added some sugar to the sauce as it packs quite a heavy punch (and probably because I decided to be generous, or too generous, with the Vegemite).

I tweaked the recipe a little and tossed the meat in egg white and wheat starch flour before deep-frying. I have always wondered how the chinese restaurants manage to get their deep-fried pieces of pork so light and crunchy. I may be one step closer to achieving this (but if anyone knows the secret, please share!). I decided to whisk the egg whites until light and frothy, and then tossed the meat in wheat starch flour. That way, when it's deep-fried, the flour-covered froth will form crispy little "globules" that puff up in the hot oil as it cooks. I experimented with different types of flour, and found that tapioca flour and rice flour produce more or less the same results as wheat starch flour (which is the flour used in making har gow or crystal prawn dumplings).

Ominous-looking and totally intense!

As Vegemite has a pretty intense flavour, it's best to adjust the amount used in the sauce according to individual taste. I prefer to use a fatty cut of meat like pork belly so that it keeps the meat moist and juicy, but you may also substitute with pork ribs. And if you are not a fan of yeast extracts, the deep-fried pork is wonderfully delicious on its own! Here is the recipe below:

Deep-Fried Vegemite Pork
Adapted from Amy Beh


600g belly pork, rind removed, sliced 1cm thick, 2cm x 4cm, and tenderised with a meat mallet
2 egg whites
1/2 cup wheat starch flour (or substitute with tapioca flour/rice flour)

2 tbsp light soy sauce
½ tsp thick soy sauce
½ tsp Chinese five spice powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp tapioca flour

1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp thick soy sauce (for colour)
1 tbsp Vegemite
1 tbsp maltose
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp sugar (optional - add to taste)
Dash of pepper
2/3 cup water

1/2 tbsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp water

  1. Combine pork with marinade for 3-4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Heat up oil in a wok for deep-frying. Using a fork, beat egg whites until frothy and almost doubled in volume. Dip a few slices of pork in the egg, and then toss in the wheat starch flour until coated evenly. Shake off excess flour and deep-fry the pork until golden brown and cooked. Drain on absorbent paper.
  3. Heat a little oil in a wok and add sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmering boil, then add cornflour mixture and simmer until it reduces to a thick syrupy consistency. Taste and check for seasoning. Add the pork and stir to coat evenly in the sauce for 1-2 minutes. Dish out onto a plate and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Not Another Japanese Cheesecake!

You will find many recipes for Japanese cheesecake on the internet, and most of them come from the same source, although I'm not sure where the original source is. I got mine from Diana's Desserts, which appears at the top of the list when I google it. I decided to add a touch of vanilla extract to it as well. It's a light baked cheesecake, something like a cheese chiffon, and I could easily eat a few slices at one go (I know, such a pig!). Even Z, who usually doesn't eat cakes, gobbled up a huge slice (which I was planning to share with him) within minutes.

Here is the recipe:

Japanese Cheesecake
Adapted from Diana's Desserts


140g/5 oz. fine granulated sugar
6 egg whites
6 egg yolks
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
50g/2 oz. butter
250g/9 oz. cream cheese
100 ml/3 fluid oz. fresh milk
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
60g/2 oz. cake flour /superfine flour
20g/1 oz. cornflour (cornstarch)
1/4 tsp. salt


1. Melt cream cheese, butter and milk over a double boiler. Cool the mixture. Fold in the flour, the cornflour, egg yolks, lemon juice, vanilla and salt, and mix well.
2. Whisk egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add in the sugar and whisk until soft peaks form.
3. Add the cheese mixture to the egg white mixture and mix well. Pour into a 8-inch round cake pan (Lightly grease and line the bottom and sides of the pan with greaseproof baking paper or parchment paper). If using a springform pan, be sure to cover the outside of the pan with layers of aluminium foil to prevent water from seeping in. A soggy cheesecake is not pleasant to eat!
4. Bake cheesecake in a hot water bath for 1 hours 10 minutes or until set and golden brown at 160 degrees C (325 degrees F). Don't worry if cracks appear on top of the cake. If they start to appear, cover the top with a piece of baking paper. The cracks will close up once the cake cools down.

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Quick, easy and delicious. A great winter warmer, and freezes well too, so that you can have your soup ready at the touch of a microwave button.

Adapted from BBC Good Food.

Pumpkin Soup Recipe


2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic (optional)
1kg pumpkins, peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
700ml vegetable stock or chicken stock
Pinch of cumin or curry powder (optional)
142ml double cream
Slices of buttered crusty bread for dipping
Toasted pinenuts for garnishing


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, then gently cook the onions (and garlic, if used) for 5 mins, until soft but not coloured. Add the pumpkin to the pan, then carry on cooking for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften and turn golden.
  2. Pour the stock into the pan, then season with salt and pepper. Add cumin/curry powder if used. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins until the pumpkin is very soft. Pour the cream into the pan, bring back to the boil, then purée with a hand blender. The soup can now be frozen for up to 2 months.
  3. Serve hot with toasted sliced bread and pinenuts. Add a dollop of sour cream or drizzle with more olive oil, if you want.

Easy Lamb and Mushroom Biryani

Whenever I visit my aunt, I always look forward to her delicious Nasi Biryani and Beef Rendang, and secretly hoping that I could "dapao" or pack some home for dinner. The secret lies in using basmati rice, a variety of long-grained rice that is fragrant and keeps its grains separated when cooked. It's so good I could eat it on its own. I have always wanted to cook with basmati rice, but never got the inspiration to do so. Also, browsing through various Biryani recipes, the list of ingredients seem so long and foreign sounding that I decided to just forget about it and get takeaway from the Indian restaurant.

It was not until last week when I was watching Better Homes and Gardens where they cooked a pilaf that I decided to attempt cooking with basmati rice. So I bought my rice and made a simple chicken and mushroom pilaf, just yesterday. It was pretty easy, and so tonight I decided to attempt a biryani. Nothing too complicated, but just a few basic spices and ingredients like cumin, cardamom, garam masala, yoghurt, cloves and cinnamon, and ghee of course, for the undeniable aroma of biryani. Fortunately, I had all of these in my pantry/fridge. I added mushrooms to balance out the "meatiness" of the dish. I used large flat mushrooms and cut them into chunks as they tend to shrink considerably after cooking. G was impressed at how well the dish turned out and joked that I could probably "open shop and sell"!

Here is the recipe:

Easy Lamb and Mushroom Biryani (serves 3-4)


400g lamb forequarter chops, diced into cubes
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
3 green cardamoms, crushed lightly
1 bay leaf (or a sprig of curry leaves)
1 cup water
Ghee (or substitute with butter)
Salt and pepper

1 cup basmati rice
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 flat mushrooms, cut into chunks (optional)
Peas and raisins
1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric mixed with 1 tbsp water (optional)
Toasted pine nuts, cashews or almonds (optional)
Chopped coriander / mint (optional)

Marinade (blend into a paste):
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp chilli powder (or to taste)
1/4 cup yoghurt


  1. Combine lamb with marinade for 2-4 hours.
  2. Wash the rice thoroughly to get rid of the starch, and soak in water for 20-30 minutes. Drain well.
  3. Heat up 2 tbsp ghee in a pan and fry the onions, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Then add the lamb and brown all over. Add 1 cup water and the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Simmer for 40 minutes or until tender. Season with salt and black pepper.
  4. Heat up 1-2 tbsp ghee in a large pan, and add cumin seeds, and then the rice. Fry for about 3-5 minutes, then push the rice aside and sauté the mushrooms briefly. Add the lamb together with the sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer (while stirring occasionally) for about 3-5 minutes until craters (or little holes) appear on the surface of the rice and the liquid is starting to dry up. Season with more salt if necessary.
  5. Scatter peas and raisins over the rice. Drizzle lemon juice and turmeric mixture all over the rice (if used). Cover with a tight-fitting lid and set the heat to very low. Cook for 25 minutes, then turn off heat and let it sit for about 10 minutes, covered. Fluff up the rice with a fork and garnish with fresh mint, coriander, toasted pine nuts or almonds. Enjoy with some raita (combine yoghurt with chopped mint and diced cucumber).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spiced Pilaf with Chicken and Mushroom

Cumin-flavoured basmati rice cooked with onions, chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes, peas and raisins, garnished with toasted almonds and pinenuts

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chinese Beef Steak with Peas and Caramelized Onions

I don't cook beef very often at home (unless it's steak or meatball pasta). When I do, it's usually black pepper beef, broccoli beef or some other stir-fry concoction that comes to me as I go along. I forgot all about chinese beef steak which I used to make once in a long while, and which I simply love, especially the thick and rich gravy that is sweet, tangy and salty, and caramelized onions are so yum! I cooked the beef to medium-well with a slightly pink centre so that it's not overcooked, and yet not too underdone that the kids can't eat it.

Here is the recipe. It's one that's easy to prepare and uses basic everyday pantry ingredients, so you can make it anytime.

Chinese Beef Steak with Peas and Caramelized Onions


400g beef tenderloin/sirloin, sliced about 1cm thick, cut into 6-8 pieces and tenderised with a meat mallet
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda mixed with 3/4 cup water
2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
2 cloves garlic
1 large onion, sliced into rings
Handful of green peas
Sugar and salt

1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Dash of pepper
1/2 tsp maggi seasoning (optional)
1 small egg, beaten
1 1/2 tbsp cornflour

1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp worchestershire sauce
1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
1 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup water


  1. Soak the meat in the bicarb solution for 30 minutes, then drain well and discard the water.
  2. Combine meat with marinade for 1-2 hours.
  3. Heat up a little oil in a large pan or wok and fry the onions until softened. Add 1/2 tbsp sugar and pinch of salt and continue frying until browned around the edges. Add peas and fry briefly. Dish out into a bowl.
  4. Heat up 2 tbsp oil and fry the garlic cloves until browned. Remove the garlic and using the same oil, fry the beef in batches, browning them for about 1-2 minutes on both sides until they are medium-rare. Dish out onto a plate and leave aside.
  5. In the same pan, deglaze with Shaoxing wine, then add sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Add the beef, coating them evenly and let it simmer until sauce reduces and thickens to a shiny glaze. Transfer onto a plate and top with the onion and pea mixture from Step 3. Serve hot with steamed jasmine rice.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Char Siu Fried Rice with Lettuce

Here's another one of my favourite ways to cook fried rice with leftovers in the fridge. I used last night's leftover char siu (chinese roast pork), chopped spring onions and some finely shredded lettuce tossed in towards the end of frying, and then garnished it with more lettuce for that fresh and juicy crunch.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Japanese Tofu with Pork Mince and Omelette

It would have been better if I had a hot plate to serve this dish in, especially now that winter is almost here, food tends to get cold pretty quickly. Come to think about it, I should have at least heated up the plate I planned to serve it in, so that at least it helps the food to retain some heat. Then I would have more reason to call this "Hot Plate Tofu". Next time perhaps.

I love tofu of all sorts (except for the stinky ones), and egg (or Japanese) tofu is one of my favourites. Silky smooth and custard-like, it has more flavour compared to regular white beancurd. I still don't understand why some people find eating tofu revolting, unless it's been disguised as a Vegan [Tofu] Cheesecake, which in my opinion sounds more bizarre than plain tofu itself.

Anyway, I cooked this dish for last night's dinner and it was simple and quick to prepare, with just 2 core ingredients, tofu and minced pork (I had initially wanted to use prawns instead, but they didn't have small prawns at the market).

How to prepare Japanese Tofu with Pork Mince and Omelette

1) Marinate 200g minced pork with soy, pepper, sugar, sesame oil and cornflour along with 1 tbsp water.

2) Cut tofu (2 tubes) into 1.5cm slices and deep-fry till golden in colour. You can dust them in tapioca starch/cornflour before frying if you like. Drain on absorbent paper.

3) In a wok, fry some garlic, add some sliced shitake/chinese black mushrooms and the pork until cooked. You can also add some carrots, peas, sweet corn kernels etc. Add 1 tbsp oyster sauce, a little light soy, some dark soy (for colour), shaoxing wine, dash of chicken stock powder, sugar and pepper with 1/2 cup water and bring to boil. Thicken with a little cornstarch/tapioca starch solution, making sure there is sufficient gravy. Add a few drops of sesame oil. Dish out into a bowl.

4) Lightly beat 2 eggs with 1 tbsp water, season with soy and pepper. Fry in a wok/pan on high heat to make a large round omelette. When the egg is almost set, add the tofu and minced pork over the centre of the egg, let it cook for a minute (so that you get nice crisp edges and bottom for the omelette), then carefully slide the omelette, tofu and all onto a plate. Of course, if you have a hot plate, then just pour the beaten eggs onto the plate and let it sizzle before topping with the tofu and pork. Garnish with spring onions and sliced red chillies if desired. Serve hot with steamed jasmine rice.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thai Sweet Chilli Chicken Schnitzel Burger

Burger-Monster!!!...Om nom nom nom....

I have been craving for a burger ever since my friend, Simran, posted a most scrumptious looking photo of her mouth-watering Mini lamb burgers on A Little Yumminess. Well, lamb burgers will have to wait (although probably not for long) as my thoughts started to wander back to the time I used to enjoy these chicken schnitzel burgers with Thai Sweet Chilli at Fishbonez, a fish-and-chip shop in the Central Coast. It was the first time I ever tried one, and together with the side of crunchy seasoned potato chips, it was one of the best chicken burgers I had, albeit simple. We did try making them at home a few years ago, but using frozen schnitzels, it didn't taste as good as these "from-scratch" ones I prepared last night.

Making a good schnitzel isn't that difficult. Just use fresh breadcrumbs (from stale day-old bread, preferably a crusty loaf and not sandwich bread) with plenty of herbs and seasoning and you've got all the flavour you need there. I reverted to the schnitzel recipe I used in my Parmesan & Herb Crusted Chicken Schnitzel but modified it slightly by omitting the parmesan. I figured the cheese might overpower the sweet chilli, and is probably not the ideal combination of flavours either. The burger turned out really delicious, sandwiched between toasted hamburger buns, drizzled with sweet chilli and mayonnaise, topped with shredded lettuce and slices of vine-ripened truss tomatoes. For the side, I fried up some hashbrowns and served them with hot ABC chilli sauce, just like how I used to enjoy them for breakfast at McDonald's in Singapore!

Try this out! It's as healthy as a burger can be, using lean chicken breast fillets, coated in fresh breadcrumbs and pan-fried, not deep-fried! They were also a winner with the kids and make a great (and healthier) alternative to chicken nuggets.

Thai Sweet Chilli Chicken Schnitzel Burger Recipe


1 chicken breast fillet (about 600g), escalloped (this gives you 4-5 pieces)
5-6 pieces of stale bread, torn to pieces
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tbsp milk
Plain flour for coating
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for frying

Hamburger buns, halved and buttered each side and lightly toasted in a pan
Tomatoes, sliced
Lettuce, shredded
Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce (I used Sandhurst brand)

  1. Using a meat mallet, flatten the chicken into thin escallopes, from which you will get 4-5 pieces. Cut them in half if they are too big for the burger.
  2. In a food processor, combine stale bread with some parsley, rosemary and thyme, and season with a good amount of salt and pepper. Using the pulse button, process into breadcrumbs. Pour out onto a plate.
  3. Heat up about 2-3 tbsp oil in a frying pan (or enough to cover base of the pan). Dip the chicken escallope into the flour (shake off excess), then into the egg mixture, and into the breadcrumbs and coat both sides. Then dip it in egg again and back into the breadcrumbs for a double coating (optional). Throw breadcrumbs over the top and all over the chicken and press the crumbs in firmly to ensure a thick and even coating.
  4. Slowly lower the chicken into the pan and repeat the same crumbing process with the other pieces of chicken. Fry chicken on medium heat for about 4 minutes on each side till golden brown and crisp. Add more oil if necessary. Transfer to a plate when done.
  5. Assemble the burger: Top the bottom halves of the toasted hamburger buns with one or two pieces of the schnitzels, then drizzle over a generous amount of sweet chilli sauce. Top with the sliced tomatoes and shredded lettuce, squeeze some mayonnaise over, and then cover with the hamburger bun tops. Serve with chips/hashbrowns and salad.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fried Rice with Salted Fish and Beansprouts

This dish reminds me of the time when I was in Singapore and used to get take-away salted fish fried rice from the local coffee shop. I always peeked inside the box to make sure that they packed some pickled green chillies to go along with it. That's just the one thing missing from last night's dinner! But still, I love the saltiness and "floury" texture of the salted fish that melts in your mouth with each mouthful of rice. And the juicy beansprouts add a lovely crunch and freshness to the whole dish. To make it more substantial, I also tossed in some diced chicken thigh fillets, along with garlic, chopped spring onions, peas, and of course, shredded omelette. As the fish is already salty, not much seasoning is required, but just a little light soy sauce and a dash of pepper to bring out the flavours. Hmm....I really should start making some pickled green chillies soon!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

White Chocolate and Berry Ricotta Cheesecake

Light cheesecake with ricotta, cream cheese, sour cream, white chocolate and mixed berries

The recipe for this cheesecake has been in my recipe binder for months. Ever since I sampled a tiny piece of raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake at the David Jones Food Hall last year, I fell in love with it and wanted to make the same (or something similar). It was light, creamy and smooth, not at all like the dense New York cheesecakes (which I also love, in small quantities).

The recipe I used here is from Home Beautiful and it's a relatively light, creamy and fluffy cheesecake with the addition of sour cream and ricotta. However, I would have preferred to use purely raspberries instead of mixed with blueberries, for more tartness. I also reduced the quantity of vanilla extract called for in the recipe (originally one tablespoon, which sounds like a little too much).

Here is the recipe for this delicious cake, adapted from Home Beautiful:

White Chocolate and Berry Cheesecake


100g plain sweet biscuits
60g butter, melted

200g cream cheese
200g ricotta cheese
1/2 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g sour cream
100g white chocolate, finely chopped
300g mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
extra sour cream and fresh raspberries, to serve


1 Preheat oven to 160°C. Lightly brush a 20cm x 6cm springform pan with a little melted butter and line the base with baking paper.

2 To make base, process biscuits in a food processor until crushed. Add melted butter and process to combine. Spoon biscuit base into springform pan and press down base firmly using a small glass. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

3 To make filling, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add ricotta cheese and sugar, and beat until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat to combine. Add vanilla and sour cream, and beat to combine.

4 Using a large metal spoon, fold through chocolate and half of the berries. Spoon filling into prepared base and sprinkle with remaining berries. Place springform pan onto a baking tray and bake for 1 hour, or until cheesecake trembles when sides are tapped. Turn oven off and leave door ajar to cool for 1 1/2 hours. Remove cheesecake from oven and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate overnight. Serve with extra sour cream and fresh raspberries.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chickpea-battered Spinach

I was sooooooooooo happy to find the recipe for Palak Patta Chaat on Inside Cuisine which was posted about two weeks ago. We got some Indian takeaway last weekend from our favourite Indian restaurant, Abhi's Indian where they serve absolutely delicious refined Indian cuisine. We had the Lamb Biryani, which was divine, and our favourite Palak Patta Chaat, which is described in the menu as "Spinach leaves in a crispy lentil batter, topped with yoghurt, date & tamarind and chilli & mint sauces". How can anyone not order that? I was a little disappointed though, that the prices on the menu keep going up. However, this crispy spinach entree was worth it, as I doubt I will attempt making it at home unless I was cooking for a party, perhaps.

Making the deep-fried spinach itself is pretty easy. I already had a ready supply of besan / chickpea flour in the larder, and rice flour too (a pantry essential). I planned on using them for my rojak dish as I did not have any dough fritters ("youtiao"). These super crispy little things also make a great snack, and might be just the thing to get kids to eat spinach!  Z and H happily helped out by patting the leaves dry between some paper towels, and then using a whisk to mix the batter in a bowl.

Here is the recipe for the battered spinach, adapted from Inside Cuisine:


150g besan (chickpea flour)
50g (1/3 cup) rice flour
1-2 tsp chilli powder (to taste)
2 tsp salt
300-350ml water
Peanut or canola oil, for deep-frying
1 bunch spinach, leaves picked, washed and patted dry (you will need about 20 leaves)


Combine flours, chilli powder and salt in a bowl, make a well in the centre, then gradually add water and whisk until smooth. Cover and stand until required.
Heat oil in a deep-fryer or wok to 180C. Dip spinach leaves, one at a time, into batter, shaking off excess, then deep-fry, in batches, until crisp and golden. Drain on absorbent paper. Serve immediately. They taste really good with just a squeeze of lemon juice!

Note: Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container. As chickpea batter doesn't stay crisp for long, just lay them out on a baking tray or foil and pop them into the oven under a hot grill for a minute or so, turning to ensure both sides are crisp. Be careful not to burn.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Curried Omurice (Rice in Omelette)

Last Saturday, I made Oyako Don for dinner, which is my favourite 4 ingredient quick-fix meal when there's only chicken in the fridge. As I had cooked a little extra sushi (short-grain) rice, I decided to use it to make fried rice for the kids the next day. I went with the "Japanese-theme" and made Omurice, which is rice wrapped in omelette. I had never made this for the kids before (after all, it's just an inside-out fried rice), so I was sure they would be happy to see something different on the dinner table (especially drizzled with ketchup and barbecue sauce!).

If you're using cold sushi rice from the fridge, warm it up a little in the microwave first before frying it. Heat up just enough oil to coat the wok and pour in 2 lightly beaten eggs. Swirl it around the wok to form a thin layer and once cooked, carefully transfer it to a plate.

Fry some garlic and add in some bacon/luncheon meat/chicken etc, followed by any peas/corn/vegetables and add in the rice, breaking up the grains in the wok. Add some chopped spring onions and season with a little salt and pepper. You can add some soy sauce for flavour. I decided to add a dash of curry powder instead which is also a tasty option and gives it a little colour. Then just ladle the rice onto one half of the omelette and fold over the other half. Drizzle over decoratively with ketchup, chilli, barbecue or any of your favourite sauce. Garnish with parsley.

Rojak with Chickpea-Battered Spinach

Rojak with cucumbers, grilled tofu puffs, sweet pineapple pieces and crispy battered spinach leaves
tossed in a sweet prawn paste dressing with ground peanuts

I was thinking of what to do with the bottle of prawn paste ("hae kor") that was left over after using it for chee cheong fun last week, and rojak came to mind. Rojak is a Malaysian fruit salad that is a combination of local fruits, vegetables and a special prawn paste mixture that is black and sticky, but utterly delicious. It's a textural dish with lots of crunch, bite and juiciness. I love my rojak with chinese dough fritters ("youtiao") and water convolvulus ("kangkung"), but I didn't have any. So I made some deep-fried chickpea-battered spinach leaves and used that as a substitute. Yummo!

I came across CKC Sambal Rojak at the Asian grocery shop and decided to give it a try, and it actually tasted really good! I used up the whole bottle to make two servings of rojak (for dinner and lunch the next day). Here's what I did:



(Roughly cut to bite-sized pieces):
1 cucumber
Some fresh pineapple (my fav!)
Jicama (I omitted this)
4-5 pieces of tofu puffs (I used the triangular shaped ones and popped them under a grill in the oven until crisp)
2 pieces  of chickpea-battered spinach

CKC Sambal Rojak
Some finely ground peanuts


To make one serving, take 2 tbsp of CKC Sambal Rojak and mix with 1 tbsp of ground peanuts. You can add a few drops (like 1/2 tsp) of hot water if you wish so that it "mixes" better. Then toss in the cucumbers, pineapple, jicama and tofu puffs and mix it around until evenly coated. Toss in the spinach and lightly mix. Transfer to a clean serving plate and sprinkle all over with ground peanuts. And it's ready to eat!

Deep-fried spinach leaves in chickpea batter



Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sichuan Red Chilli Chicken

I had a thought about the diced chicken with red chillies dish which we ate at Red Chilli Sichuan last year, and decided to replicate it at home. It's basically tiny cubes of diced chicken, deep fried and coated with Sichuan pepper, and tossed in a mountain of dried red chillies. Tongue-numbing, fragrant and delicious. This is quick and easy to prepare, and is best served together with some soup to moisten the palate.

Sichuan Red Chilli Chicken Recipe


400g chicken breast fillets, diced into 1/2 inch cubes (to absorb maximum flavour)
1/4 cup potato flour

Salt, pepper, light soy sauce

1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1/4 cup chopped spring onions
1 cup (or more if you wish) dried red chillies, cut in half (do not discard the seeds)
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp chinese cooking wine
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and finely ground
1/4 tsp sugar (optional)


  1. Combine chicken with marinade and leave for an hour or so. Coat chicken pieces evenly in potato flour and deep fry till cooked (about 1-2 minutes). Drain and put aside.
  2. Heat up 1 tbsp peanut oil in a wok. Fry garlic and ginger for a minute till fragrant, then add chillies (with seeds), oyster sauce and wine. Fry for 1-2 minutes, then add chicken, spring onions, salt and Sichuan pepper (sugar optional). Toss for a minute until evenly coated and transfer to a plate. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Home-made Chee Cheong Fun

Steamed rice rolls with hoisin, peanut butter, prawn paste (hae kor) and Sriracha chilli sauce, garnished with
crispy shallots, dried shrimp and toasted sesame seeds

Well, I just couldn't get enough of chee cheong fun last night, so I decided to make my own rice rolls today. I also made the sauce a little thicker and added some peanut butter to the hoisin mixture.  And these steamed rice rolls taste even better than the store-bought ones I used yesterday. Soft, fresh and free of preservatives. Absolute yum and totally addictive!

Here is the recipe for the rice rolls, adapted from Amy Beh:

Chee Cheong Fun Recipe


580ml water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil

110g rice flour
15g corn flour
1 1/2 tbsp tang meen fun or wheat starch flour


Put combined flour into a mixing bowl. Add water gradually to mix into a smooth batter. Mix in salt and oil then leave aside for one hour.

Lightly grease a square pan/tin that will fit in your wok. Spoon a thin layer of the mixture into the pan and steam over rapid boiling water for 5 minutes until cooked. While still hot, use a scraper to lift and roll the sheets up immediately. Repeat with remaining batter.


To make the sauce, refer to the previous post on Penang-style Chee Cheong Fun.

Freshly made rice rolls

One nicely packed for my sister to take-away

Penang-style Chee Cheong Fun

What's the next best thing to eating instant noodles for a quick lunch at home? I have to say, it's Chee Cheong Fun ("CCF"). I just made two rolls for lunch yesterday, and saved the other two for G's dinner. It was super easy to make, and not having eaten this in a long time, it tasted pretty good. Of course, I just bought the ready-made rice rolls as they were far more convenient than making your own (which I have never attempted before). Update: I subsequently made steamed rice rolls from scratch! Click here for recipe.

This style of CCF uses hae kor (prawn paste used in chinese rojak) and a sweet sauce, which goes really well together along with the fried shallots and dried shrimp over the rice rolls. The texture of the rolls is pretty decent, although it's nothing compared to the ones you get in Ipoh. But still, it satisfied my craving and I will definitely be making this again soon.

Penang-style Chee Cheong Fun Recipe

3 fresh rice rolls, steamed for a few minutes

Sriracha chilli sauce (about 1/2 tbsp or to taste)
1 tbsp hae kor (prawn paste - CKC brand) mixed with 1 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp LKK hoisin sauce + 1 tsp creamy peanut butter (optional) mixed with 1-2 tbsp hot water

1 tbsp fried shallots in oil
1 tbsp dried shrimp, ground finely and fried in oil till crisp
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds


Arrange steamed rice rolls on a plate (cut them into bite-sized pieces), drizzle the chilli, hae kor and sweet sauces over the rolls, then garnish with fried shallots (and oil), dried shrimp and sesame seeds. And it's ready to serve! :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Imperial Pork Chops

After many attempts to make Imperial Pork ("Pai Gu Wang"), I finally came close to getting the sauce right. Over the weekend, we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant where we ordered Peking-style pork chops, and I loved the sweet sour taste of it that seemed to be a combination of black vinegar and plum sauce. So I decided to try replicating the dish for tonight's dinner, and I'm not sure whether Peking pork chops are synonymous with "Pai Gu Wang", but after having a taste of the dish I cooked, it reminded me instantly of the latter. Even G was impressed that it indeed tasted like the real thing (or almost).

Before I forget the recipe, here it is:

Imperial Pork


3 pork chops (approx 600g), flattened and tenderised with a meat mallet
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, mixed with 1 tbsp water

Salt and pepper
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tbsp five spice powder
1 egg
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp plain flour

5 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tbsp plum sauce
1 tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar (or to taste)
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp Lingham's chilli sauce
1 1/2 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
Tiny pinch of salt
Dash of pepper
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp water


  1. Cut the pork chops into 1-inch wide strips, and flatten them out with the mallet. Combine with the bicarbonate of soda solution, leave for 20 minutes and discard excess liquid. Combine pork with the marinade ingredients and leave for 4 hours.
  2. Deep fry the pork until golden brown and cooked, then drain on absorbent paper and put aside.
  3. Heat up 1/2 tbsp peanut oil in the wok, then add sauce ingredients, bring to a boil before adding the cornflour mixture. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  4. Once sauce is slightly thickened, add the pork chops and toss them in the sauce for 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a dish and serve with steamed jasmine rice.