Sunday, 29 November 2009

Homemade Popiah (Spring Roll)

The mention of spring roll, most can relate to being the most common signature starter dish from any overseas Chinese restaurants. The typical spring roll you get from restaurants here is deep fried. I prefer the healthier version where one could eat right away after the skin is freshly prepared, hot from the pan. My mum make the best fresh spring roll skin from scratch. She used to make and sell the spring roll skin during Chinese festivities. I used to help her to peel the skin off the hot iron cast pan, although it's not my favorite task. Yeah, it's a lot of hard work, but the effort is well worth it having try the spring roll she made. I still can't master her skill in whipping out the elastic batter and the guts to plaster the batter onto the hot cast iron pan with her hand. Here's a video showing how typical fresh spring roll skin is being made.
Well, I took a different approach to making the skin, first the batter is more runny and secondly I used silicone pastry brush to create the thin spring roll skin [ahem! don't wanna burnt my hand in the attempt to master my mum's skill] . But I'm not sure whether she'll be delighted to know my methodologies in creating this delightful fresh spring roll skin. :-)

Popiah skin (Spring Roll skin)
Ingredients (made about 20-22, 6 inches diameter sheets)
  • 150 gm bread flour
  • 400 ml water
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Seive the flour+baking powder into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add in the salt and water and mix well until no lumps. You should obtain quite a runny batter.
  3. Let it rest for 15-20minutes.
  4. Heat up a non stick pan on low heat. Dip a paper towel with some vegetable oil and lightly grease the pan. Once it's hot, remove th epan from the hob, brush the pan with the batter using a silicone pastry brush, make sure you make a really thin sheet. Plaster any holes, bring the pan back onto the hob and let it cook. You'll see the sheet will rise on the edges, using a fork or your fingers, peel of from the pan. Lay it on a plate. Repeat until you've consumed all the batter.
Popiah fillings (Spring roll fillings)
  • 2 cups of taugeh (bean sprouts)
  • 1/2 kg of Chinese turnip ( I can't find turnip here, so I subtitute with 300 gm cabbage)-shredded
  • 3 dry shitake mushrooms- soaked till soft and shredded
  • 1/2 bell pepper-diced
  • 2 carrots-shredded
  • 2 shallots-minced
  • 1 celery stalk - sliced thinly
  • 10 medium prawns-peeled, cleaned and deveined. Diced.
  • 1 Chinese lap cheong (sausage)-optional
  • 1 tbsp light soya sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 cup of roasted groundnut-coarsely grind
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp of sesame oil
  • 1 egg-make into omelette-shredded
  • spring onion for garnishing

  1. Heat a wok on high heat. Pour in the vegetable oil, add the sliced sausages and fry till a wee bit smoky aroma, add in the shallots and fry till lightly brown. Add the prawn and toss, once it's pink, add in the mushroom, diced pepper, celery, shredded cabbage and carrot. Stir fry for 3minutes till the vegetables it slightly cook.
  2. Add in the seasonings-oyster sauce, light soya sauce, white pepper, sesame oil and sugar. Mixed well. Off the heat, mixed in the bean sprouts and toss to mix.
  3. Dished out onto a plate.
  4. Lay a spring roll sheet onto a plate, scoop some fillings as dry as possible onto the wrapper. Top up with some shredded eggs, peanuts and spring onion. Wrapped up and served immediately.

    Tips: If you wanted to deep fry the spring roll, I recommended that you kept the skin overnight. Wrapped with 2 layers of skin the next day with the fillings and deep fry them. One sheet of skin is probably to thin to allow you fry as the ingredients might burst out during frying.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Fried Hor Fun (Wat Tan Hor)

I suddenly have a craving for stir fry rice noodle. So I went down to Asian supermarket after work to obtain some fresh hor fun. I thought to myself, if I'm back in Singapore/Malaysia, I won't bother to cook this dish at all, as most stir fry stall 厨 绰 sell this noodle and it's really yummy. I like the seafood gravy with egg being drizzled over the smoky flavor fried hor fun. My craving gets the better of me...........

Fried Hor Fun (Fried rice noodle)-Wat Tan Hor
Ingredients (3-4 persons)
  • 400 gm fresh hor fun (rice noodle)
  • 1 tbsp dark soya sauce (I use Cheong Chan thick dark caramel sauce)
  • 1 tbsp of light soya sauce
  • 3 cloves of garlic - minced
  • a handful of bean sprouts (optional)
  • few dash of fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 150 gm pork/chicken lean meat-sliced thinly and mix with 1/2 tsp of corn starch
  • 12 medium prawns - deveined with tail intact
  • 4 fish ball - sliced thinly
  • 1 stalk of choy sum - chinese green mustard- chopped to separate the green and the stalk
  • 2 cloves of garlic-minced
  • 1 tbsp of tapioca/corn/potato starch + 4 tbsp of water
  • 1 1/2-2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 egg-beaten
  • 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tbsp of shaoxing wine
  • 1/2 tbsp of light soya sauce
  • 1/4 tsp of sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
  1. Heat a non-stick wok on high heat. Pour in the oil and wait till it get slightly smoky. Add in the garlic and let it sweat till fragant.
  2. Add the hor fun in and stir fry quickly. Then add in the soya sauce, dark soya sauce, fish sauce and mix well. Add in the bean sprouts to mix and immediately dish out onto a plate.
  3. Using the same wok, add in 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil, once hot add in the gralic and fry till fragant. Add in the pork and fry for a minute. Then add in the prawn, fish ball and fry till slightly turning pink. Add in the stalk part of choy sum, soya sauce, shaoxing wine and oyster sauce and stir fry for another minute. Then pour in the chicken stock, sugar and the green part of the choy sum. Bring it to boil. Then immediately pour in the egg and stir. By now you should get the egg thread. Add in the tapioca starch to thicken the gravy.
  4. Off heat and drizzle the gravy onto the fried hor fun.
  5. Served hot with some pickled green chillis.
Anyone wants fried hor fun? :-)

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Sweet and Sour Pork with Wrapped Water Chestnut

One of the main signature dish of Chinese restaurant or takeaway has to be Sweet and Sour Pork. This dish meant to be very pleasing to the eyes, opens up one appetite and wanting to go back for second. A lot of the Chinese restaurants here serving this dish, I find it has too much of white vinegar taste to it or the sauce being too starchy. I decided to whip up a nice sweet and sour dish with a twist, don't be traumatized by a little effort for I know this recipes will be a keep for good authentic Chinese sweet and sour to please your guests.

Sweet and Sour Pork with Wrapped Water Chestnut
Ingredients ( for 2 persons)
  • 150 gm lean pork fillet/chicken fillet
  • 6 water chestnut-peeled and quartered
  • some toothpick
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp rice flour + 1/2 tsp soda bicarbonate
  • oil for deep frying
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp shaoxing wine
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 2 tsp of light soya sauce
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 green/red/orange/yellow pepper bell-diced
  • 1/2 big onion-diced
  • 1 slice of pineapple (optional)-diced
  • 1 big juicy tomato - diced
  • 1 tsp white vinegar + 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 3 tbsp of Thai sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tbsp of tomato sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp of water
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

  1. Sliced the pork thinly with a sharp knife to make 3x3 cm slice. You should be able to make about 20 slices.
  2. Tenderized the meat with a meat mallet. Then marinate them with the marinating ingredients for an hour.
  3. After marinating, take a slice of meat and a cube of water chestnut and wrapped into a small parcel. Secured with a toothpick. Repeat until done.

  4. Beat an egg in a bowl and seive rice flour+soda bicarbonate into another bowl. Then dip the meat into the egg and transfer to the rice flour to coat evenly.
  5. Heat up the wok with oil for deep frying. Once it's hot and ready, drop in the meat parcel and fry for 1.5 minutes on each side. You should see it's slight turning golden brown, removed the parcel from the hot oil. In order to create a crisp pork, we need to deep fry again for second time. Drop in the meat parcel and continue to stir. Removed and drained after it has browned-about 1minute or so.
  6. Removed the toothpick from the meat parcel.
  7. For the sauce, heat up a pan. Pour in the vegetable oil, once it's sizzling hot, add in the onion and pepper and stir fry for 2 minutes. Then add in all the other sauce ingredients and stir fry for a minute. Once sizzling, off the heat, add in the meat parcel and coat evenly. Dish up and served with hot rice.
The main difference you'll notice is the freshness of the ingredients, a bite onto the crispy meat with added crunchiness of the water chestnut is totally right :-) .
I really like this dish as it's colourful, so much of taste to it and make me salivating again.....
Give it a try.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Reap what you sow

During spring/summer, I had sown a few varieties of vegetable for our own consumption. Over here, a lot of people has started to dig in on their garden plot or allotment to grow their own vegetables. For me, I grew them in pots or grow bags. Frankly speaking, the harvest was bountiful over a long period of time right up to end of autumn. I had grown salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, celery, spinach, french bean, aubergines and even chillis. All is well except for the tiny fruit I had on aubergine plant. Well, I'm not disheartened, at least I had fresh supply from my garden. Of course I grew herbs as well like thyme, rosemary, chives, parsley and coriander.
Here I share with you some pictures of my plant and harvest from my kitchen garden.
Harvest of salad leaves, chillis, cherry tomatoes and celery

The last batch of my ripening cherry tomatoes

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Pampering Sunday Breakfast of Har Gow

Yes, awhile ago I did dim sum and forgotten to take pictures of the har gow that I made. So feeling rather motivated, firstly it's a beautiful Sunday morning with perfect blue sky and thought of pampering myself with these delicious little bite size indulgence for breakfast (Reminded myself repeatedly to take nice pictures of these little delicacies) .

Har Gow (Prawn Dumpling)
  • 125 g Wheat starch (Tung Mein Fen)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon lard/vegetable oil (I prefer lard as it make the skin easier to work with)


  • 1/2 egg white
  • 1 tsp of tapioca starch
  • 1 tbsp of soda bicarbonate
  • 300g medium sized prawn
  • Bunchful of chives-chopped finely (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp of shaoxing wine
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of chicken stock granules
  • 1 tsp of white pepper
Earlier preparation for prawn
  1. Get the freshest prawn possible, you'll not regret it. Clean and devein the prawn. Put them onto a big bowl, fill with cold water, add in ice cube to make the water really cold, then add in the soda bicarbonate onto the cold water. Massage the prawn for about 2-3 minutes. You should notice the prawn will turn slightly transparent. Drained. Then rinse the prawn in icy cold water again. Drained. Pat dry with paper towel.
  2. Diced the prawn (1 prawn chopped into 3 sections) . Add the egg white and tapioca starch and leave in the refrigerator overnight. This will ensure the prawn will be crunchy and bouncy.
  3. The next day, you can add in all the seasoning ingredient and let it marinade for 30minutes.
    How to make har gow skin
  1. Sift the wheat starch and tapioca starch into mixing bowl, add in the lard. Pour the boiling water and stir quickly with a spatula to form a dough.
  2. Remove on to a work surface and knead with your hand to form a soft and smooth dough. If it's to soft, add some wheat starch, if it's too dry, add some lard/oil.
  3. Roll into long strip and divide into 36portions. Use a roller to roll each portion thinly(as thin as possible). Then use a pastry cutter to cut it into circular shape. Using your thumb and index finger press thinly the edges, this will ensure easy pleating later on.
  4. Place the prawn filling+chives or just prawn filling onto the wrapper. Use the same techniques as wrapping goutie/gyoza (needs some patience and practice) :-)
  5. Cut a circular shape oil paper with holes to line the bamboo steamer. Brush the paper with some vegetable oil. You can use banana leave too.
  6. Place the wrapped prawn dumping onto the bamboo steamer. Steam over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. At this stage the skin whould turn transparent.
  7. Served hot with some chilli oil. Eat it while it's hot as the skin may turn hard if it's cold.
  8. What an enjoyment with piping hot Chinese tea.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Sitiawan Fuzhou Loo Mein

Oops! I forgot to post this recipes which I wanted to share for some time. This signature dish is very popular among the Fuzhou communities in Sitiawan. The secret to a good loo mein lies in the gravy. The gravy consist of cuttlefish, cabbage, wood ear fungus, golden needle, fried pork belly fats, bamboo shoot and egg . In Sitiawan, I can't actually find any noodle shops that serve this dish has similar and identical taste to each other. One of the best loo mein stall (Ah Choon Loo Mein) can be found in my hometown village of Pekan Gurney, please note this stall only open in the evening. When I was back there, I will have loo mein for breakfast, then some Fuzhou snacks for lunch and loo mein again for dinner. This noodle is definitely an acquired taste for some because of slight pungentness of fermented bamboo shoot and rather sweet taste to the gravy.
I try to cook this dish awhile ago and yes they taste nice, I would prefer to use fresh bamboo shoot but I can only find can bamboo shoot here. Nevertheless, the loo mein I love that I grew up with.... count in on nostalgic value

The fresh bamboo shoot that my mum dug up from our Pekan Gurney backyard

Sitiawan Fuzhou Loo Mein
  • one handful of dry wood ear fungus-soaked in water till soft
  • one handful of golden needle-soaked in water till soft
  • one can of bamboo shoot/ 250gm fresh bamboo shoot-julienned
  • 3 dry cuttlefish-soaked in water till soft and sliced into thin strip
  • 30 gm of pork belly (fats part)-diced
  • 100 gm cabbage - sliced thinly
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tbsp dark soya sauce
  • salt to taste/light soya sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar or to taste
  • 2 tbsp of tapioca starch diluted with 4 tbsp of water
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • one handful of dry anchovies-clean
  • 1/2 kgs pork bone (you can use chicken bone as well)
  • 1.5 - 2 litres of water
  • 3 cloves of garlic-minced
  • 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil

  • 8 bunches of fresh egg noodles (one bunch serve one)
  1. Heat a deep pot, pour in the oil and sweat the garlic. Add in the anchovies, fry for a minute or two. Then add in the bones and water. Let the stock boil on high heat, once boiled, turn over to low heat and simmer for an hour or so.
  2. Once stock is ready, sieve the stock and set aside.
  3. In another pot, heat the oil, then add in the pork belly fats and fry till crispy. Dished out and set aside. Then add wood ear fungus, golden needle and cuttlefish, fry till fragance. Pour in the stock and let it boil.
  4. Add in the salt, sugar, dark soya sauce and cabbage and let it boil for 10minutes for the cabbage to cook.
  5. Then pour the beaten egg slowly and keep stirring so that it's well mixed and create egg thread. Slowly add in the tapioca starch solution to thicken the gravy. Keep stirring. Once it's done, let it simmer on low heat.
  6. Now, it's time to cook the fresh egg noodle. Boil a pot of water, once boiling add the desired noodle and let it cook. Once cook, it will float onto the surface. Drained and served onto a bowl. Scoop the gravy onto the noodle and garnish wih some fried pork belly fat. Served hot and enjoy.

Ah Choon Loo Mein

Monday, 9 November 2009

Radish Soup

Weather is cold outside, feels like winter now. I already started to do some aerobics exercise to keep warm and importantly to stay fit and healthy [ I don't want to accumulate winter fats] .
I hope my zeal and enthusiasm would not fizzles out quickly [ hangat hangat tahi ayam ] :-) .
Of course after exercising, I always go for a nice hot bath to unwind. After the bath I felt like having a warm and hearty cosy is that?
I tend to cook Cantonese soup whenever possible. I could still vividly remember having a hot bowl of radish soup at my aunt Madeline's house many years ago. I noticed that she used dry squid to enhance the tastiness of the soup. That's yummy. Cantonese people take great pride in preparing their soup as it nourishes the body, a meal would not be complete without the soup.

Radish soup
  • 500 gm Chinese white radish (I use peppery radish-Western radish)
  • 300 gm of pork rib/chicken thigh
  • 2 medium dry squid
  • old ginger-thumb size-sliced thinly
  • 1tsp white pepper
  • dash of salt
  • 1 litre of water
  • corriander for garnishing
  1. Peel the radish, if you're using the Chinese radish cut into bite size chunks. For the western radish, just peel the skin [quote : hardwork to peel the skin of the small size radishes]
  2. Wash and remove the backbone of the dry squid. Let it soak for 10minutes to soften. Slice into thin strip.
  3. Put chicken thigh, squid, radish, ginger and water and bring to boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer on low heat for 2 hours.
  4. Then add dash of salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Served hot.

Dry squid

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Stir fry french bean with scallops

Having eaten out for 2 nites in a week, decided to put on my apron and do a quick meal [quote: I miss my own cooking...hahaha] .
Well, I need to clear my stock in the fridge before I need to replenish with new batch of fresh ingredients. There goes :
1. French bean
2. Fresh Scallop

Decided! Got to be stir fry.......

Stir fry french bean and fresh scallop
Ingredients (serve 2)
  • 150 gm french bean
  • 10 medium size fresh scallops
  • 4 cloves garlic-minced
  • 1 shallot - minced
  • 1 tsp shaoxing wine
  • 2 tsp of light soya sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil/veg oil
  • Toasted black sesame seed (optional)
  1. Remove the thread of the bean. Sliced diagonally the bean.
  2. Heat up a wok on high heat. Add in the olive oil and let it heat till hot (when it start to smoke). Add in the french bean to shallow fry in the oil. Keep tossing for about 2minutes or so.
  3. Then add in the garlic and shallot and fry till fragant.
  4. Add in the scallop and continue to stir fry for a minute.
  5. Add the shaoxing wine, soya sauce and sugar and fry for another minute till scallop just nicely cook. Don't overcook scallop.
  6. Served in a plate. Garnish with toasted black sesame seed. Served with rice.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Autumn colours

Just thought of updating a few pictures on autumn colours which I took over the weekend at RHS Wisley garden.
I just love maple trees with their superb autumn colours.

And it's about time to go "apple scrumping".