Archive for the ‘Rice’ 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!

Phew! It’s a looonng process, but I’m so glad I DID it … finally, with some help from my thermie 🙂

Eating white rice can be rather boring, so to make the staple more enticing, a bit of picasso and van gogh will bring the little white beads to life. 

Making Nasi Ulam is not rocket science, far from it, but there are several steps or parts to consider before the final piece of puzzle fell into place. 

With the lengthy list of fresh herbs and spices that go into making Nasi Ulam, it will not make you feel guilty even if you overindulged. 

I could eat the fresh and fragrant herbed rice on its own, but a baked chicken on the side certainly made my Sunday lunch more complete and a million percent more alluring and tantalizing.

Like so …


Choosing The Right Rice

I have done this herbed rice before using Jasmine rice. I found it was not quite the right type of rice to use. Why? The grains of Jasmine rice clinged and are somewhat stickier than for example the American long-grain rice or Basmati rice.

So I chose Basmati rice, which is easily available in our local stores. It was also easier to handle and toss the rice with the many fresh herbs and spices that went into the rice.

How to cook the rice in the Thermomix?

Weigh 300 g of basmati rice in the Simmering Basket. Remove it from the TM bowl and wash the rice to remove excess starch.

Place the SB with the rice back in the TM bowl. Add 1kg water. Cook/ steam the rice for 18 mins/ 100C/ sp 4/ MC


Leave the rice in the TM bowl for 10 minutes before taking it out to cool at room temperature.

Choosing Your Fresh Herbs 

I have been looking high and low for torch ginger (bunga kantan) but it’s nowhere to be found in our local Asian stores where I live. It’s a shame because bunga kantan is one of the main star herbs in Nasi Ulam. Well, it’s not the end of the world. There are many other fragrant herbs I could find to complement the making of my version of homemade Nasi Ulam

By the way, I used 7 different fresh herbs, of which 4 herbs were bought at the Asian store whilst the remaining 3 herbs can be found easily at the hyper market.


Spiced and Flavoured Ingredients


  • 1/2 cup dried shrimps (hay bee), soaked
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • Salted fish 
  • Shallots
  • Galangal
  • Lemongrass
  • Turmeric 
  • Freshly-milled white Sarawak pepper
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste

Herbed Ingredients 


  • Eryngium foetidum (Culantro)
  • Thai sweet basil leaves
  • Mint
  • Coriander (incl roots)
  • Flat leaf parsley
  • Kaffir lime leaves
  • Dill

Making Kerisik

Toast the dessicated coconut until golden brown. Transfer to TM bowl and grind for 10 sec/ sp 10. Scrape the sides of the inner bowl. Check the consistency. Grind for another 10 sec/ sp 10. Tip the Kerisik into a clean bowl and set aside.


Toasting the hay bee

Drain the water from the dried shrimps. Transfer the hay bee to the TM bowl. Blend for 5 sec/ sp 5.5.  Tip the roughly blended dried shrimps to a hot pan. Toast the dried shrimps until lightly brown and crusty. Transfer the toasted shrimps to a clean bowl. Set aside.


Dry-frying the salted fish 

I have bought an already fried salted fish from a local Asian store. All I did was to scrape the meat from the bones and head of the fish. I then dry-fry the fish and shred the meat. Set aside.


Chiffonaded Herbs

This was by far THE most time consuming part of ‘the making of’. 

Every single herb was chiffonaded evenly ( or almost 😉 ). I did not use my thermie for that because the herbs should end up in thin long strips and not chopped crazy or bruised too much. Patience is key here 😉


Assembling the Dish: Le Moment Suprême 

After all the chopping, slicing, toasting, shredding, blending, grinding etc, came the plain sailing and uncomplicated part: the assembling 🙂

From white boring rice, I transformed it to a golden colour with fresh turmeric. In went the spices one after another, completely coating the basmati rice. Then came the natural umami flavours in the form of dried shrimps, salted fish and kerisik. The greens were folded in last while going through the taste test before plating up.


By right the rice should be cooled down before the spicing and herbing, but there’s always a someone in the family who would freak out eating cold staples, so I microwaved his plate before serving 😬

Be warned! It’s a dry rice salad dish as there’s not a single drop of gravy or sauce in the fragrant herbed rice. With a stroke of genius, I made a palatable Tom Yum Goong to go with the rice. So no one’s choked at the dining table. Lol!


This is a great dish to bring at potluck. It’s hard work but with some help from my thermie, everything else was straightforward and plain sailing 😉


Have a blessed and smooth sailing week!
Cheers!

Last Summer my family made a trip to Kuching; a very much delayed trip of 7 years’ overdue. While I was in 7th heaven binging foods I grew up eating, my Belgian hubs and Belsian boys were craving for their Belgian fries. Erm… I guess I could totally understand their cravings, because that’s what happened to me this Summer!

We were in the South of France for 2 weeks, consuming local Provençal’s 3-course meals almost daily. And guess what? My palate was screaming for SPICES!!! 

When we headed home, I was longing for that one dish that’s packed with spices and fresh herbs. Because I had been “pampered” with served meals while in the Provence, it was hard getting back to cooking mode. By the way, I have not been using my thermomix for almost a month! Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!

Therefore, one weekend, I moved my thermie and placed it under the extractor hood. My mission? To appease my craving. Yup, I was craving for the Indonesian inspired dish, “soto ayam” because that’s one tantalising dish that’s packed with all the goodness of spices and fresh herbs. No ready-made or instant boemboes! Everything was fresh and cooked from scratch… in my thermie!

If you are wondering what “Soto” means, I was as blur as most of you, so I asked the right people, my Indonesian colleagues. They said it’s a soup dish. Yes, I knew it’s a soup dish, but what is soto? I did not get an answer right away but they went on to explain that usually chicken meat is submerged in water with specific spices and herbs to obtain the broth.

Okay, in my humble opinion, soto is not just a simple soup dish, it’s the method how the broth is made. My Indonesian colleagues agreed to my curious conclusion. 

And by the way, I used fresh turmeric to give the broth that vibrant yellow look, while poaching and simmering the chicken in the broth. It’s such a healthy dish, with lots of flavour and very, very aromatic.


Two years ago, I posted the soto ayam recipe done the conventional way, so in this post, I’m going the opposite direction. 

The Revival

Since our Summer hols in August, my thermomix had been left idle for about a month! When I started cooking the soto ayam, my thermie went bonkers. The sound of the blades spinning was not normal. It sounded rusty. I was hoping the squeaky sound would go away. It did not, until I started to boil the chicken. Guess what?!!! My thermie stopped cooking completely in the first 4 to 5 minutes. And I still had so many more minutes to go before the raw chicken meat was cooked!! Oh no!!!! Not now. So I did what I had to do, i.e. removed the plug and then re-plugged. At the same time, I had to re-start the menu. I felt like a surgeon reviving a comatose. Thank goodness, the ‘flatline’ re-acted and my thermie came back to life! It was a HUGE relief! Phew!!!

And here’s how I cooked my Soto Ayam, which I have personally translated as Fragrant Herbed Chicken Soup, because that’s what it actually is!

Ingredients A


  • 5g Sarawak white peppercorns 
  • 5g coriander seeds


Ingredients B


  • 70g garlic
  • 230g shallots
  • 50g galangal
  • 10g (1 stalk) lemongrass 
  • 25g turmeric 
  • 65g ginger
  • 20g candle nuts
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves



Ingredients C

  • 60g coconut oil

Ingredients D


  • 8 pcs (ca 1 kg) chicken drumsticks 
  • 800g water
  • 4 stalks lemon grass (bruised)
  • A palmful kaffir lime leaves (bruised)
  • Coarse sea salt to taste


Ingredients E


  • 8 – 9 medium-sized eggs placed in Varoma dish 


Ingredients F

  • 500g hot water

Garnishing 

  • Cucumber, julienned
  • Fried shallots (not in photo)
  • Spring onion 
  • Fresh coriander
  • Mint leaves 

Method


  1. Place A in TM bowl. Dry roast for 10 mins/ V/ sp 1. Mill the toasted spices when temp drops below 60C. Mill for 1 min/ sp 6->10/ MC
  2. Tip the ground spices onto a clean plate/ bowl. Set aside
  3. Meanwhile add B and blend for 15 sec/sp 10. Scrape the sides of the inner bowl and under the lid. Again, blend for 15 sec/ sp 10.  
  4. Add C and ground spices A and sauté for 15 mins/ V/ sp 1
  5. Add D. Cook for 15 mins/V/R/ spoon
  6. Place E on top of TM bowl and cook / boil further for 17 mins/ V/ R/ spoon (or until the eggs are boiled according to your liking or better still, use the TM5 recipe chip and boil the eggs separately. I like mine with firm white and runny yolk. Heaven!  )
  7. Remove Varoma dish and cool eggs under cold running water. Set aside.
  8. Remove cooked chicken. Set aside 
  9. Meanwhile add F and check the seasoning of the broth. Boil further for 5 mins/ 100 C/ R/ spoon
  10. Before drizzling the hot spiced broth, plate the sliced cooked chicken in a (deep) bowl and garnish with thinly stripped cucumber, coriander leaves, spring onions and mint leaves. Place a hard or medium or soft boiled egg on top and sprinkle with fried shallots/ onions.
  11. Pour the hot broth slowly over the chicken.
  12. Serve with steamed white basmati rice (which I also cooked in my thermie)

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words!


Sinfully yummy. One of the best comfort foods 🙂


Mmmmm….Simply gorgeous!

I served my soto ayam with steamed basmati rice.

My Verdict?

When my thermie stopped cooking in the first 5 minutes, I felt my whole world came crashing down around me! It was that bad. I was thinking that I had prepared everything for nothing. That’s just not me. I wanted to see, or better still, taste the end result. It appears that the thermie must not be left idle for a long time. It needs attention and wearing, therefore, TM owners, keep your thermie busy! 

Now, the verdict for the dish. Usually I would serve the soto ayam with vermicelli or noodles. This was the first time I had the fragrant herbed chicken broth with steamed rice. It was a complete meal which we all liked, but personally, I would serve the broth with rice noodles. As you can see, the egg was supposed to be hard-boiled, but it turned out soft, which we all liked, too 😀

With the summer temperatures behind us, this dish will be made quite frequently now. This dish is pure comfort food for cold weather. 

So I made this dish again with rice vermicelli, and making sure to boil the eggs separately as per the recipe chip. 

Et voilà!

Yummy !!!!


Stay warm! 


Cheers!


The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival is a statutory holiday in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet. It commemorates the life and death of the famous scholar and China’s first poet, Qu Yuan (Chiu Yuan). The festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth month (Double Fifth) on the Chinese lunar calendar. The Chinese calendar is lunisolar, hence, the date varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar. This year, the festival falls on 9th June, 2016. Although it is not a public holiday in most parts of the world, most Chinese around the world celebrate the festival by preparing the most iconic food of the festival, the sticky rice dumpling. There’s no wonder the Dragon Boat Festival is also known as Dumpling Festival (Note: there’s a sad legend behind this Festival at the end of this post)



Journey of Love

Making the sticky rice dumpling, or most popularly known as Bak Chang (meat dumpling) in the lingo I am familiar with, has always been at the back of my mind since time immemorial.  

And since time immemorial, I have been drooling looking at photos of one of the dreamiest dumplings on my planet of food list. 

I have been telling myself for years, “I must make these dumplings“… BUT… Zilch!  To be honest, it’s not difficult  to make Bak Chang, but the laborious cum tedious process was the stumbling block. IF only I had kitchen helpers …

When my Mum and big sis came to visit me two summers ago, I was thrilled. I told them that we could dedicate an entire day making  my sought-after glutinous rice dumplings.  No probs, promised Mum and sis 🙂

Labour of Love

There are many different varieties of Bak Chang ~ Teochew, Hokkien, Hakka, Taiwanese, Cantonese, Nyonya… gosh, I’m out of breath now … and the list goes on, still. Therefore, in my opinion, there is no one rigid way to making these dumplings. The filling for the dumpling varies, which can be customised to one’s preference. For instance, some people may like a bit of sweet in their savoury Bak Chang, using fatty pork belly instead of lean meat or some colour in their glutinous rice (from white to blue tip to black … Hmmm…sounds like the belt grading systems of Taekwondo or perhaps Tang Soo Do or Jiu Jitsu? Lol!). Well, I am not fastidious about all that. I don’t care! Just give me the Bak Chang, please.  

By the way, I was glad to observe Mum and big sis conjuring the magnificent Bak Chang live in my kitchen two summers ago *wink*

I showed them the ingredients for our Bak Chang. Both ladies nodded their heads, but Mum winced when she looked at the dried bamboo leaves. She was not use to using the flimsy-feel of the bamboo leaves. Mum used to wrap her Bak Chang with the sturdier and fragrant giant pandan leaves, which were in abundance in Sarawak and Kalimantan.  Big sis had no issues with using the bamboo leaves because she had made Bak Chang in KL and Batu Pahat. Phew

I captured the 2 sifus with the camera on my iPhone. While Mum chopped cloves after cloves of garlic and shallots, big sis did all the stir fries. Every single ingredient was treated individually and separately.

The dried bamboo leaves were soaked with several changes of water overnight. On the day of use, new water replaced the overnight water. Again, several changes of water took place until the water ran clear. Each leaf was dabbed dry with a towel. The cleaned bamboo leaves were then set aside until they were ready to be used.


The glutinous rice was washed and soaked for at least 2 hours. The shallots were fried first until crispy and were removed with a slotted spoon leaving the aromatic oil in the wok. Then my sis stir fried plenty of chopped garlic in the same oil  until fragrant and she added the pre-soaked glutinous rice. The rice was seasoned with salt, chicken granules, freshly-milled white (Sarawak) peppercorns, light soy sauce, mushroom oyster sauce, freshly-ground dry-roasted coriander seeds and 5-spice powder, all to taste. She then quickly mixed and stir-fried the glutinous rice and added half of the crispy shallots. Note, the rice must not be completely cooked.

In another pan, my sis added some cooking oil and fried some chopped garlic until fragrant. She then added the minced pork and diced pre-soaked shiitake and seasoned with light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, mushroom oyster sauce, a little drizzle of sesame oil, freshly-ground coriander seeds, 5-spice powder, freshly-milled white pepper, salt and a dash of sugar, to taste. Finally, she added the remaining crispy fried shallots.



The dried shrimps were pre-soaked before they were quickly stir-fried. The peanuts were boiled. Then there were store-bought vacuum-packed cooked chestnuts and, yes… chickpeas, too!  That’s the beauty of homemade rustic Bak Chang 😀

A Picture is worth a Thousand Words …

Thank you dearest Chefs for being the BEST kitchen helpers in the whole wide world. Love ya LOTS!


The journey of love continued with the boiling of the wrapped Bak Chang in a big pot of boiling water. A bit of salt was added to the water and a batch of Bak Chang was submerged in the boiled water. 

These Bak Chang were boiled for at least 3 hours and then hanged briefly to dry before consuming


The End of a Gruelling Journey: The Moment of Truth …
Tada!


Honestly speaking, it was beyond BombDiggity yummy inside AND out!


I wish to relive that journey of love on my own some day… Perhaps in my thermomix *wink*

Too bad, though, two years on, I’m still drooling at the photos of my Mum’s and sister’s glutinous rice meat dumplings!  *blush*

Pinch

Ouch!

Oh by the way, the Bak Chang froze brilliantly. You need to steam them for at least half an hour or more until they are warmed through. 

It made excellent wholesome breakfast or a quick lunch, high-tea or dinner. 

Mum and sis, thank you so much for taking my offer. You have succeeded in banishing my longstanding torments of craving for this thingie, here, in my very own kitchen! I’m sure you would have made the Bak Chang differently in your own kitchen, but with my simple and challenging bag of ingredients, we have managed to incorporate a bit of China in the tetrahedral-shaped glutinous rice savoury meat dumpling ~ Hakka (minced meat and boiled peanuts), Teochew (crispy fried shallots and 5-spice powder), Nyonya (ground coriander seeds), Hokkien (dark soy sauce and chestnuts). What more could I ask for 🙂

Making Bak Chang is by no means an easy chore. It entails a string of well-thought and structured process.

I salute to all of you out there in making this annual repertoire of one of the most arduous and relentless products seemingly easy looking.

A Sad Legend Has It … 

(Adapted and modified from Beijing International “A Sad Story Of Qu Yuan” and the Wikipedia)

Have you ever wondered the connection between eating the glutinous rice dumpling with the Dragon Boat Festival? Well, I was one of the people who actually wondered about it, so I delved a bit further and read about the legend of the Chinese poet, Qu Yuan (or Chiu Yuan).

Qu Yuan was the number one advisor of the kingdom of Chu, however people were jealous of his position which also affected the King’s trust in him. The King unheeded his advice which resulted in the King’s death. The new King continued to enjoy the luxury life full of scandals and corruption. He thought Qu Yuan was a nuisance and a hindrance in his kingdom, so he was exiled. During that period, Qu Yuan wrote many patriotic poems.

One day, Qu Yuan met a fisherman, who never cared about the country and was quite satisfied with his life. The poet thought that the people only cared about themselves and not the future of the country. For the poet, it was meaningless to live, so he killed himself by drowning in the Miluo river.  The fishermen tried to rescue him but the body was never found.

In order to keep fish and evil spirits away from his body, they beat drums and splashed the water with their paddles.  They also threw rice into the water both as a food offering to Qu Yuan‘s spirit and also to distract the fish away from his body. However, the legend continues, that late one night, the spirit of Qu Yuan appeared before his friends and told them that he died because he had taken himself under the river. Then, he asked his friends to wrap their rice into three-cornered silk packages to ward off the dragon.

These packages became a traditional food known as zongzi (Bak Chang or glutinous rice dumpling). The lumps of rice are now wrapped in leaves instead of silk. The act of racing to search for his body in boats gradually became the cultural tradition of dragon boat racing, held on the anniversary of his death every year on the fifth day of the fifth month (equivalent to Thursday, 9th June, 2016 in the Gregorian calendar)

Happy Duanwu Festival !

Happy Dragon Boat Festival to all celebrating!


Enjoy your Bak Chang 🙂

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! 


Christmas and the New Year celebrations have just passed us by. We have been pampered with a bit too much eating, from appetizers to starters to soups to main courses to desserts. Munching, chomping, slurping, burping… OMG!

I’m glad it’s over for now, albeit temporarily. My stomach needed a bit of rest after the eating marathon, so I decided to make something really clean and simple and yet very attractive and tasty. It’s everyone’s favourite – at least in my family – the delectable sushi, or rather, Makizushi or nori rolls.

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DIY Sushi Meal Kit

I have made sushi before when I was still in Kuching many moons ago. We made it from scratch, my sisters and I. Homemade sushi are definitely a notch higher than the store-bought ones or even the restaurants’ because we have control over what goes in the cylindrical gems. More often than not, the sushi rice served in restaurants are way too sweet, which I am not a fan of.

Both my sons are fans of Sushi of any type. I have made Inarizushi (sushi stuffed into fried tofu skin or aburaage). That became a hit with my guys.

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Once in a while during impromptu outings with my younger son, we would always end up in a Japanese resto ordering a sushi set lunch. My son, who is not a big eater could down these sushi in record time. But that also meant burning a hole in my pocket, hence the urge to home make the sushi rolls 😉

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Just before Christmas last year, I was at Stonemanor, a British store located at Everberg, Belgium.

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While filling my trolley with Christmas goodies, I was thrilled to see a Sushi Meal Kit on the Asian shelves, I grabbed 2 kits.

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Both kits included the following items –

• A Bamboo Rolling Mat (makisu)
• 4 Sushi Nori Sheets
• Sushi Rice (2 “Uncle Ben’s” type bags)
• Sushi Vinegar
• Japanese Soy Sauce
• Wasabi Paste
• Chopsticks (4 pairs in the red kit and 2 pairs in the yellow kit)
• Sushi Ginger or gari (not included in the yellow box)
• Sushi Recipe/ Instruction Leaflet

Per kit makes 4 large Makizushi, a main course for 2 or a starter for 4. Since there are 4 of us and I have planned to serve the sushi rolls as a main dish, hence I bought 2 kits. And by the way, I had actually planned to make those sushi rolls during the weekend of Valentine’s Day or Chinese New Year. Since CNY 2015 falls on 19th Feb, which is a Thursday, it will be difficult for me because it’s a workday. Honestly speaking , the 2 kits were too enticing for me to wait that long, I decided to ceremonially open both kits on the same day for our first weekend lunch anno 2015 🙂

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Instructions (per kit)

1. Put the 2 rice bags into a medium-sized saucepan and add enough water to cover the rice bags, soaking evenly.

2. Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat for 11 – 12 minutes with the lid on.

3. Turn off the heat and drain the water using a sieve; put the rice in the sieve back into the saucepan and leave to stand for 25 – 30 minutes with the lid on. Do not open the lid!

4. Remove the rice from the bags and transfer the hot rice into a large bowl. Fold Sushi Vinegar into the rice. Wait until the hot rice cools down to a warm temperature before rolling the Sushi.

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Fillings

While the rice is cooking, prepare the fillings. At this point, just let your imagination run wild with you. I have actually used leftover vegetables from my fridge (yellow, orange and green paprikas, cucumber, carrot, spring onions and chives). Then again, the list is endless. You may want to go vegetarian or vegan or add slices of chicken or Peking duck meat. The sky’s the limit! I made a vegetarian version, with mock crab sticks and omelette with chives as protein.

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To Roll …

1. Place a sheet of nori onto the makisu (bamboo rolling mat). Spread the cooked rice as evenly as possible over the nori making sure to keep a thin layer of rice and leave a 1 cm gap free from rice at top and bottom as you will need this to seal the roll.

2. Before placing the strips of vegetables, surimi/ omelette on the rice, brush some wasabi paste or mayonnaise on the rice, from one end to the other, horizontally. Do not put too much filling in otherwise it will be difficult to roll.

3. Begin rolling the nori carefully and evenly around the filling, using the mat to help shape the Makizushi, rolling away from you and pressing firmly. Pull the bamboo mat away from you, and make sure to keep rolling the nori around itself.

4. Once the roll is complete, press down firmly on the mat helping to compress the roll slightly so that it keeps its shape.

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To Cut …

1. Remove the rolled sushi from the rolling mat and place onto a dry chopping board.

2. Using a very sharp knife, cut the roll in half. Then cut the 2 halves into 4 even lengths, making 8 Makizushi. Wash the knife occasionally between cutting each Sushi roll to prevent the rice from sticking to it and to ensure a cleaner cut.

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I served my Makizushi on a tray with some gari (sushi ginger) and wasabi paste. As far as the presentation is concerned, there’s still room for improvement, however, since that was the first time I have attempted making the Makizushi on my own, I thought that was not too bad at all 😉

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Without a doubt it was a mouth-watering lunch and what was even better was it was wholesome, healthy and à volonté.

No wasabi paste? No worries.

Not many people will go gaga on this green-colured paste. Wasabi is Japanese horseradish and its stem is used as a condiment and has an extremely strong flavor. Its hotness is not akin to that of a chilli but more so of hot mustard. The heat from the wasabi paste produces vapours that stimulates the nasal passages more than the tongue. And sometimes it even goes up to the head. Ha ha..

I found a good substitute for the wasabi paste. It’s also green in colour. It’s a cousin of the Tabasco sauce, the Tangy Green Jalapeño hot and zesty sauce from Heinz. I always have this bottle in my fridge. It goes very well with pizzas, salads, soups… It’s just so zingy and funky! Love it!

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The Day After

There were 2 sushi rolls left after the day before’s à volonté lunch. I used those as starter for our Sunday lunch. There were no gari and wasabi paste left, hence I made a simple and quick pickled cucumber with dhill. It went so well with the sushi rolls. It was super refreshing and scrummy. Yums!

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I’m sharing this post to the following blog-hop Cooking Challenges, my first linkup in 2015 😀

The Great Britsh Store Cupboard: Cooking with Herbs Challenge – January 2015

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“My Treasured Recipes #5 – Chinese New Year Goodies (Jan/Feb 2015)” hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House

Tasty Tuesdays by HonestMum

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January 2015 Family Foodies hosted by Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash

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January 2015 Vegetable Palette hosted by A2K – A Seasonal Veg Table

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Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking

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Extra Veg with Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle at Utterly Scrummy

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Have a Healthy and Happy year!

Cheers