Archive for the ‘Hakka’ Category

1st November this year fell on a Tuesday. I could have made a bridge for a longer “weekend”, but could not due to my workload at work 😦

I was glad to break off work for that one day that week for a yearly family reunion, hosted by one of my SIL’s. While driving to my SIL’s, we stopped at a friend’s house. I received a text message from F that she was giving away some of her ‘harvests’ in her garden. 

Guess what? I hand-picked the chillies in her garden. They were so, very, very fresh! She wanted only the red ones, so I helped myself to the green chillies. I didn’t mind the ‘raw version’ at all, because I knew if I left the chillies wrapped in absorbent paper in the lower drawer of the fridge, the chillies would ripen. 

And I was right!

10 days later, some of the birds’ eye chillies had turned to a lovely bright orange-crimson colour. And I knew exactly where some of the chillies would end up into 😉

Thai Chef vs Me

There was one Wednesday that I took a day off and brought my 2 sons out for lunch (Note, both boys had half-day school / Univ on a Wednesday). We went to a Thai resto near our place. 

For starter, I ordered Tom Yum Goong (TYG) for us. It was a good TYG, but I missed that Oomph in their soup. It was a wee bit too lame. 

Saturday came, and TYG was in the pipeline for our lunch menu.

So here it was, my version vs the Thai Chef’s. 


And not only that, I made my TYG in my thermomix! 


To be honest, I could eat my TYG all day without anything else that day, because it had been a while since I last made the soup! I looked back at a post I wrote; it was in March this year when I had friends over. You can read it all … Here 🙂

Because I love bold-tasting soups, I thought of a way to totally infuse the aromatics in the soup first before proceeding further. Be warned! It’s a highly seasoned soup that hits the palate and warms the heart without burning, if you know what I meant 😉

(Note: This is my own recipe using my preferred method – tried and tested – after a few trials and errors).  

Please be aware that some measurements are not given as only you will know how much or how little you want to put in the dish. Remember, “Ut quod ali cibus est aliis fuat acre venenum” or what is food for one man may be bitter poison to others. 

Ingredients A

  • 2 cm piece galangal
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 lemongrass
  • 2 coriander roots

Ingredient B

  • 5 g cooking oil / coconut oil

Ingredient C

  • 1,500 g water

Ingredients D

  • Lemongrass, bruised and halved
  • Shallots, halved 
  • Galangal, sliced
  • Bird’s eye chillies, lightly bruised
  • Kaffir lime leaves, lightly bruised with the fingers

Ingredients E

  • Fish sauce, to taste
  • Homemade chilli paste, eyeball for colour, taste and flavour
  • Salt, to taste 

Ingredients F

  • Prawns, shelled 
  • Mushrooms, sliced 

Ingredient G

  • Lime juice, to taste
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved or whole

Ingredient H

  • Fresh coriander 

Steps –

  • Place A in the TM bowl. Grind 5 sec/ sp 10  * 2

  • Add B. Sauté for 3 mins/100C/ sp 2 
  • Place D in SB and add C. Cook for 15 mins/ 120C/ sp1


  • Remove the SB and tip the aromatics in a bowl. Set aside for garnish later.

  • Transfer F in the SB. Cook for 4 mins/120C/ sp 1 or until the prawns are cooked. 

  • Remove the SB and set aside the cooked prawns, mushrooms, etc
  • Add E. Cook further for 5 mins/ 120C/ sp 2


  • Add G. Stir for 1 min/ R/ spoon
  • Assemble a serving bowl with prawns, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, some slices of galangal, bird’s eye chillies, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Garnish with H.
  • Done!


Happy 1st Anniversary!

I made the TYG to go with my Nasi Ulam and baked spiced chicken. Our Saturday lunch was the bomb, by the way, with full-blown explosion of flavours. Yup, my kind of food 🙂


There’s no better way to celebrate my first year anniversary of owning the thermomix than sharing with you some of the dishes I have conjured the past 12 months using my most used kitchen gadget today!

And as they say, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words‘ …


IMPORTANT NOTICE : Please be aware that I’m neither a Consultant/ Advisor nor an employee of Thermomix.  I am NOT paid anything from any parties. I just happened to own a thermomix and love doing what I’m doing and will continue doing so. 

Happy Mid-Week ya’ll!

Cheers!

You know I could be a Hakka in a past life for the simple reason that I kinda drawn to Hakka‘s cuisine. Although my paternal grandmother was of Hakka origin, I have never tasted her cooking. Infact, I have never seen her in the kitchen at all. Erm… could it be that lost yearning that’s dwelling in me screaming to get out?

Hakka and not Haka

It has nothing to do with the traditional ancestral war cry, dance, or challenge from the Māori people or All Blacks rugby union team of New Zealand. Hakka, by the way, is one of the major groups of varieties of Chinese people who migrated from North to Central to Southern China. There’s no wonder Hakka is literally translated to mean “guest families” or “guest people”, due to their “normadic” origin. Interestingly enough, the Hakkas can be found in almost every nook and cranny of the globe. Try searching for Hakka dishes on YouTube and you will end up watching several channels of Hakka Noodles prepared by chefs from India, Suriname and several parts of Latin America, Africa and North America! 

Hakka people are said to be very thrifty and hard-working. One of my Mum’s sisters is married to a Hakka. I remembered seeing my Aunt giving my Mum bags full of bamboo shoots at several intervals until she became suspicious of her sister’s “gift”. My Aunt said, “blame it on my MIL!”. My Aunt’s MIL was the ‘culprit’ who singlehandedly harvested the bamboo shoots from her garden and she was in her 70’s then! A very humble, hardworking and generous Hakka woman, as I remembered her. I noticed my Aunt has embraced the Hakka-ish lifestyle from years of marrying into a Hakka family. She speaks Hakka fluently. She cooks Hakka dishes and we’re always looking forward to my Aunt’s festive invitation. The dishes she prepares are pragmatic, simple and above all, superbly generous and yummy. We’re often stuffed to the brim from her cooking. Thanks, Aunty 🙂

These are the few of my favourite…

Among the few of my favourite Hakka dishes are chai kueh (vegetable dumpling), the unique Lui Cha Fon (Hakka Pounded Tea Rice), the succulent rice wine chicken, the noteworthy suan pan ji (yam abacus beads) dish, the simple and tasty Hakka salted steamed or baked chicken and the most resourceful-and-waste-nothing dish called Ngiong Tew Foo or popularly called today in the Cantonese equivalent, Yong Tau Foo.


The story was told that Hakkas who migrated from Central China, tried to improvise making meat dumplings. Instead of using wheat flour pastry which was scarce in Southern China, the Hakkas invented meat dumplings using tofu! Today, Yong Tau Foo (stuffed tofu) can be ordered easily in most Chinese restaurants throughout the world.


Yong Tau Foo is eaten in numerous ways, either dry drizzled with black bean or fermented bean sauce or served as a soup dish, deep fried, shallow fried, steamed or braised. The tofu is stuffed with either ground meat mixture or fish paste. Variations include using various vegetables and proteins with the more common ones being aubergines, shiitake, okra, chillies and bitter gourd stuffed with the same meat or fish paste. 

Umamily Colourful 

My version of YTF is based on simplicity and reliving the flavours of a simple Hakka kitchen.  No expensive fish or prawn pastes, but minced meat ( I used the readily available ground veal) with some salted fish to enhance that umami flavour. For the broth, I used soy beans, anchovies, white peppercorns, ginger and garlic.

For the vegetables, I went for the colours. PURPLE aubergines, GREEN courgettes, BLACK shiitakes, RED sweet pointed peppers and WHITE tofu. Seriously, the choice is endless!

I was inspired to make this dish after watching Shiokoholics’ video on YouTube. The recipe she posted was adapted from Mr Rontree Chan, winner of SG50 Hong Kah North Masterchef Cooking Competition. 

Note: I wanted a soupy YTF and I wanted the broth to taste as authentically Hakka as possible. I’m glad Rontree Chan’s recipe summed up perfectly.

And by the way, I used Thermomix (TM5) to brew (slow-cook) the broth. If you don’t own a Thermomix, by all means use the slow cooker or a pressure cooker or a soup (crock) pot or a multi cooker. You will definitely get the same result; only the timing or duration of cooking may differ. 


Ingredients A

  • 10 g garlic
  • 30 g shallots

Ingredient B

  • 10 g cooking oil

Ingredients C

  

  • 75 g soy beans, rinsed
  • 20 g whole white peppercorns 
  • 30 g fresh ginger slices 
  • 40 g garlic cloves, skin on, bruised
  • 30 g anchovies 
  • Inner flesh of 1 courgette 

Ingredient D

  • 1,500 g water

Ingredient E

  • 250 g water

Ingredients F

  • 750 g minced veal
  • 1 small fried salted fish, deboned 
  • 1 Tbsp cornflour 
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • Dash of white pepper, to taste
  • Sesame oil, to taste
  • Light soy sauce, to taste
  • Mushroom oyster sauce, to taste
  • Scooped tofu from G

Ingredients G

  

  • 250 g block organic tofu, cut in 3 equal rectangular pieces. Scoop part of the tofu to create a cavity. Transfer scooped tofu to F
  • 2 red sweet pointed peppers, cut in rings, seeds removed 
  • 1 aubergine, cut on the bias
  • 4 shiitakes, soaked in hot water until plump. Remove stems
  • 1 courgette, cut in equal parts/ rings. Scoop the flesh in the centre and transfer to C

Ingredients H

  • 1 Tbsp mushroom oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3/4 Tbsp sesame oil
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste

How to prepare 

   

 

  1. Place A in TM bowl. Blend 5 sec/ sp 5.  Scrape the sides of the inner bowl.
  2. Add B. Sauté for 5 mins/ 120 C/ sp 2
  3. Place C in the simmering basket and attach it in the TM bowl. Add D. Slow cook for 45 mins/ 120 C/ sp 2
  4. Pour E in TM bowl. Stir C. Cook further for 10 mins/ 120 C/ sp 2 
  5. Meanwhile, combine F in a clean bowl
  6. Discard C and rinse the simmering basket 
  7. Stuff F in the cavities of G
  8. Pan-fry stuffed veg and tofu until golden brown
  9. Prior to serving, place stuffed G in the simmering basket. Add H and cook for 10 mins/ 120 C/ sp 2
  10. Done!

  

Et voilà!

My one-dish meal. Super scrumptious!

Honestly, I could have this everyday…


I’m linking this post to #CookBlogShare : May 3-9 hosted by Snap Happy Bakes

With the colourful array of vegetables in this dish, I’m also linking this post to Tea Time Treats Linky Party for May 2016, hosted by The Hedgecombers and Lavender and Lovage

Another beautiful woman once said, “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child“. ~ Sophia Loren ~

Thank you for thinking twice a zillion times for me. Happy Mother’s Day, Mum and to all mothers everywhere.

Blessed Sunday!

Cheers!

Kuching has transformed quite tremendously since our previous trip in 2008! The newest shopping mall then was The Spring at Kenyalang Park. Now there were several malls burgeoning the city ~ Plaza Merdeka, CityOne Megamall, Hills Shopping Mall, Boulevard Shopping Mall, Green Heights Mall, etc. All those were new to me when I was back in Kuching last month! With Kuching slowly becoming a concrete jungle, my geography of the city has gone a bit haywire.

We were really fortunate to have a reliable and faithful chaufeuress in the person of my younger sister. Thanks, sis for showing us around and the fact that you took leave from Day 1 of our stay in Kuching, made our trip remarkably easy and comfortable.

Save the Best for Last?

Our ETD was in the evening of 27th Aug. I told my Mum and sisters that ~ as far as possible ~ we wanted to stay away from ‘heavy’ meals at least one day before our departure to avoid embarrassing moments while flying. It wasn’t easy for the boys to shun good foods everyday, so they ended up having a rather heavy porky dinner at Oinks! the night before. My older son was techinally knocked out (TKO) after the heavy, slap up oinky dinner. He slept through the entire morning the next day (our last day in Kuching!!). So did my younger son. LOL!

At around noon on the day of our ETD, my younger sis drove us ~ hubby and I ~ excluding the boys around a residential area. I had absolutely no clue where my sister was bringing us to. We thought she wanted to stop by at her colleague’s house, and yes, she did stop, only to find a parking spot in front of a rather hustle & bustle looking private open car porch smack in the centre of a residential area at Pisang Road West!

  
 

It was a double~storey corner unit terrace house, with red lanterns and fake fire crackers dangling as decorations in the open car porch. Wasn’t Chinese New Year celebrated in February? I was curious. My sis didn’t say a word..

The spiked gates were wide open, beckoning us to walk into the open car porch. Then I noticed the familiar sight. I almost screamed with elation! My sister had saved the best for last! She brought us to lunch one of my favourite local dishes ~ Hakka pounded tea rich or more popularly known as Lui Cha (Fon).

Lui = Pounded or crushed

Cha = Tea

Fon = Rice

  
 

The owner and chef are a husband-and-wife team. I would not have believed the long-haired, biker/rocker-look Mr Lee was the chef! He certainly cooked up a jolly tasty Lui Cha Fon!

   
  

By the way, it was the first time my hubby tasted Lui Cha. His first impression was “Yuck! Green soup with rice and toppings! What the heck am I eating?!” And boy, was he in for a surprise! He had to eat his own words because he actually finished everything! He said the lunch was a discovery for him. He didn’t like the first spoonful but the taste slowly became more and more favourable. It was definitely an acquired taste.

   
  

And we licked our bowls completely clean! Yummy!

Verdict: We ordered the regular bowl at RM5 which I regretted at hindsight! I should have ordered the BIG bowl at RM6! It was a light vegetarian dish. Mr Lee and his wife served the Lui Cha with brown rice garnished with 6 “treasures” (cangkuk manis, long beans, chai por, tau hu, Chinese cabbage and roasted peanuts) which was one treasure shy of my Homemade Lui Cha Fon from scratch 😜

Homemade Lui Cha Fon from scratch by yours truly! 🙂

 

7 “treasures” accompanying my homemade Lui Cha Fon

 
 

Honestly speaking, the fact that my Ang Moh  (Caucasian) husband was able to finish the entire bowl showed that the Lee’s Lui Cha Fon was not done the authentic and classical or traditional way which would be a lot more bitter and bland. The Lee’s pounded tea rice was lightly enhanced which complemented the tasty minty tea soup. That’s the twist and they played their cards well (commercially).  They have converted many Lui Cha haters to lovers with their tasty Lui Cha Fon.

And please don’t forget to try their coconut jelly for RM 2 a pot. It was cool and refreshing. Perfect while waiting for your hot tea rice to be served or superb as dessert. Forget about coming after 1.30pm. The Lee’s are opened for business from 10 am to 2pm only from Mon to Sat.

FYI, I will definitely go back there for the BIG bowl. I have warned my sis 😜
 

Cheers!

Lui Cha Fon,  Lei Cha Fan… whatever, but I’ll stick to my guns. It’s Lui Cha Fon for me as it was the word I first heard eons ago! It’s how the Kuching Ho Poh Hakka people called this dish …

Total Recall 

You see we used to live next door to a Ho Poh Hakka family. The patriarch and matriarch, Mr and Mrs C had 14 children!

When Mrs C was carrying her 14th child, her eldest daughter was pregnant with her first-born son ~ in exactly the same year! A big family meant more mouths to feed…

I remembered Mrs C used to cook huge amounts of foods, simple but nutritious and on very tight budget.

Even with their frugal meals, the friendly matriarch would sometimes share a portion of her cooking with us. Although my Mum used to decline her offers, Mrs C always insisted.  One of the most standout dishes was the odd and murky looking green soup with rice served with 7 components of fresh and preserved vegetables and roasted peanuts.  She told my Mum that that was a Traditional Hakka dish. Luckily, my Mum loved trying new things and that was the best opportunity for her to try out a very typical Hakka dish. 

One afternoon after school, Mum gave me a bowl of rice garnished with the “7 treasures” with another bowl of green soup at the side.  Honestly speaking, the green soup looked revolting and tasted like muddy and bitter water.  The rice with the 7-treasures were alright.  The thing was, I had to pour the green soup in the bowl of rice and eat it like a soupy rice with vegetables. 

My first spoonful was like … Yucks! Well I was only 14 then and that was my honest feedback.  Sorry, Mrs C ..

It was not the first time Mrs C shared that dish with us. After several tries, my teen-aged palate grew to like the soupy green tea rice.

I’m glad my Mum learnt the technique of making Lui Cha  from the ever-smiling Mrs C. She did make a few times tweaking the dish with more flavours by including fried anchovies.

And believe you me, I have been craving for Lui Cha Fon – literally translated as pounded or crushed tea rice – ever since 😄

  
D.I.Y Thunder Tea Rice

Yup, it’s sometimes called “thunder tea” rice, although I’m not particularly sure why. Could it be the sounds of the grinding of the tea, herbs, nuts and seeds from the special ceramic mortar? The pestle, by the way, is made from the wood of the guava tree.  I don’t have these special Lui Cha pestle and mortar, hence, improvisation is key.

I resorted to using my electric hand mixer, instead, however, the biggest challenge was to find the right vegetables, which are usually chai sim, long beans, mani chai, 4-angled beans, kai lan and chai por. 

My version as follows inspired by Mrs C and my Mum’s addition of the extra umami flavour.

Note my ingredients were purely guesstimated, for 4 portions.

Pounded ingredients (Note I ground these ingredients with my electric hand mixer to form a thick paste or pesto-like consistency)

  

  • Loose-leaf Tung Ting Oolong tea
  • Roasted peanuts
  • White sesame seeds
  • Pine nuts 
  • Flax seeds
  • Roughly chopped mint
  • Roughly chopped basil
  • Roughly torn coriander
  • 1 clove garlic (not pictured)
  • Fried anchovies (in lieu of salt)

  

Cooked Rice

My choice of 7-treasure ingredients (Note each component was stir-fried / roasted separately)

  

  • French beans
  • Pek chai
  • Tofu
  • Spinach
  • Chai Por
  • Fried anchovies
  • Roasted peanuts 

Assembling Lui Cha Fon


 

  1. Take 2 Tbsp of the pounded tea paste in a bowl. Pour boiling water. This is your tea soup base.
  2. In another bowl, scoop a portion of cooked rice. Garnish with the 7  cooked veg – fresh and preserved and the roasted peanuts and fried anchovies 
  3. Ready to eat! Note how you want to eat is up to you, ie, by eating the rice and soup separately OR pouring the tea soup into the rice. I ate how I was first being introduced to this dish ~ the latter, of course *big smile*

   

   
Mang-mang sit! An ho sit oh! 😄

Verdict:

It was hard work washing, peeling, cutting, chopping and cooking the vegetables separately.  I understand now why this dish was originally served during the Chinese Lunar New Year by the Hakka clan when all the ladies would assemble together in the kitchen helping with the tedious kitchen preps. Unfortunately, I was alone in my kitchen, hence, I made the 4 portions for myself ~ Day 1’s lunch and dinner and Day 2’s lunch and dinner. LOL! I started my prep work at 11am and the final dish was ready by 1.30pm (including taking photographs… Ha ha…).  Note I purposely made this dish for myself because I foresaw my 3 carnivores would complain if I were to serve the dish as their main course. I was extremely pleased with the result, seeing that it was the first time I had a go in making the infamous Lui Cha Fon from scratch ~ finally! Yay! I was doubly contented with the taste. It was so closed to the best Lui Cha Fons I had in Kuching. The slightly bitter, herbal and minty taste of the green tea soup was spot on for me. No salt, please as the salty anchovies made a world of difference in the tea soup. The umami flavour was a double oomph! The chai por (preserved dried radish) and extra garnishing of the fried anchovies made great natural enhancers. It’s an absolutely LOVELY dish. I wish I could eat it everyday but the only stumbling block were the tedious preps 😦

I have used loose-leaf Oolong Tea in this recipe. For this, I’m linking this post at Little Thumbs Up (July 2015 theme: TEA) organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY, and hosted by Cheryl of Baking Taitai.
 
Have a Great Week!

Cheers!