Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Chicken Soup with White Fungus and Cashew Nuts


The weather for the past one week was humid and hot. I was just graving for a bowl of nutritious, comforting and 'cooling' soup for dinner. This soup is especially good to expel heat in your body and phlegm in your lungs. I enjoy eating plain rice with certain types of soup though not all and this is one of them that I like. My husband and I enjoyed the soup and we had it for our supper. The kids did not know how to consume the white fungus but they had 2 big bowls yesterday. I was hurried to take the picture and forgot to skim off the fat. Nonetheless, I skimmed it off before serving. The cashew nuts are very soft and pleasant to eat while the lotus seeds may leave behind a after-taste bitterness due to the stem in the centre of the seed. The bitterness is mild and it didn't bother us much. It didn't affect the taste of the soup though.

Chicken Soup with White Fungus and Cashew Nuts

Ingredients

1 bird of chicken (About 650g)
2 handful of white fungus
1/2 cup of raw cashew nuts
1/2 cup of dried lotus seeds
2 slices of ginger
About 10 cups of water

Salt n pepper to taste

Method

1. Soak white fungus for at least 1 hour in water (room temperature). Remove the hard part and break them into small pieces.

2. Soak the raw cashew nuts and dried lotus seeds for half hour and changing water a few times in between.

3. Put all the ingredient in a big pot except salt and pepper and bring it to a hard boil.

4. Skim off scum on the surface.

5. Slow down the fire and let it simmer for 2 hours

6. Skim off more scum and fat. Add salt to taste and pepper if you wish.


Notes:

1. Remove the skin of chicken to reduce fat if you wish.

2. Soaking fungus in hot water will cause it to turn soggy and slimy instead of chewy.

3. Buy white fungus that is not totally white but yellowish in colour as the white ones are due to bleaching.

4. The amount of water used must at least able to cover the whole chicken as a guide.

5. If you wish to have more texture for the white fungus, you may add them in after 1 hour of simmering and continue to boil it in slow fire for another 1 hour.

6. If you are familiar with some basic ingredients of Chinese herbs, you should know that this soup is quite versatile and good for lungs. You may add some of the herbs like red dates,  wolfgang berries, 'Yu Zhu' (Solomon's Seal Rhizome), honey dates, dried longans and even apples or pears. To boost up the effect for phlegm remedy, you can add 'Chuan Bei' (Fritillaria Bulb) too in minimum dosage. I just want to keep this soup as clear and simple as it is.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Chinese Fried Noodle

My boy is a noodle lover. He loves almost all types of noodles except vermicelli aka 'bee hoon'. My girl is more adventurous with food but still she practically prefers noodles more than rice. Thier favourite version of noodle is flat wheat noodle with oats tossed with homemade seasonings which combine a few sauces like light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and fried onions with a little of its oil which is the most important ingredient for non-soup based noodle.

This simple seasonings mixture was created by my mum and it is the easiest and quickest way to flavour the noodle without frying. We usually have this version of noodle with sliced fish or fish ball soup with spinach, fried egg or/and fried pork chop cutlet.

Though my children loves instant noodles, I hardly cook them. Instead I would prefer to buy dried noodles made of wheat or rice flour. Dried noodles that have no colouring, preservatives or with the least/no chemicals added in will top my choice of purchase. In this post, I would like to share with you also some of the Chinese dried noodles that I keep in my pantry.

This is 'Lanzhou Noodles' that I used to cook for this noodle recipe. This noodle is flat and broad and it looks something like linguine. In terms of texture it turns soggy quite easily and so long there is heat and gravy, it will keep absorbing the gravy. It is very soft and easily breakable once cooked. So for this brand I would suggest to watch your cooking time carefully.

This is a thick version of mee sua. I have cooked it in both wet and dry version and it is salted a little. It is soft but it doesn't turn soggy too easily and quickly. It tastes good for both dry or wet version. It is more versatile than the Lanzhou noodle.


This is the flat wheat noodle with oats that I bought in Yong Peng, Johor Bahru. It is made of wheat flour, oats, water and salt. To me, it is the best choice of all Chinese dried noodles as it requires the least touch up. I have never tried frying this noodle as it is so good to have it just plainly tossed with simple flavourful and tasty seasonings. It is high in protein and fibre and the texture is excellent. It is chewy and a little tender and it doesn't absorb much of the gravy once cooked so it will not turn soggy easily even if you soak it in hot gravy or soup. However you need to blanch the noodle slightly longer in hot boiling water to fully cook it. In Singapore, I could only find the version comes without oats.



This is Taiwanese dry noodle. It is broader than the flat wheat noodle with oats and it has slightly fluted edges which are thinner than the center part. It is chewier and the absorption of gravy is quite low. 

For this recipe, I have used more vegetables and minimise the use of meat and seafood.

Ingredients

3/4 packet of Lanzhou Noodle
1 pot of water
1 cup Snow Peas
1 medium sized Carrot
1 cup Pork Fillet, sliced
1 bulb of Garlic
1 tbsp Oil
6 birds of chilli padi

Seasoning
3 cups of Boiling Water
1 tsp Chicken Bouillon Granules
2 tbsp Oyster Sauce
2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
2 - 3 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 tsp sugar
Dash of sesame oil
Dash of pepper

Method

1. Remove the strings of the snow peas, cut them into half. Peel off the skin of the carrot and shred it. Set all aside.

2. Mix all the seasonings and set aside.

3. Heat up a pot of water in high temperature and let it come to a rolling boil. Blanch the noodle in high temperature first then medium until it is about 70% cook. Drain the noodle soak it in cool running pipe water and set aside.

4. Add 1 tbsp of oil and fry garlic until fragrant and a little brown. Add in the vegetables and stir fry for about 1 minute. Then add in the sliced pork fillet and stir fry about 30 seconds.

5. Add the seasonings mixture and let it boil. Add noodle. Cook for about 2 minutes or less and switch off the fire.


6. Cut the chilli paddy and mix it with 1 tbsp light soy sauce in a saucer. Serve the noodle immediately together with the sauce.

Notes

1. The noodle turns soggy pretty fast so make sure you use hot boiling water to combine the seasonings. Other wise if you use just warm water to mix together all the seasonings, you may add only the seasoning mixture first in step 5 and let it come to a boil before adding in the noodle.

2. Add any crunchy vegetables that you prefer like capsicum, baby corn, celery and french beans. You may add slice dried mushroom to enhance the flavour.

3. If you do not serve this immediately, once cook remove the noodle from the gravy and gently stir the noodle to let out the hot steam. When you are ready to serve reheat the gravy and add a bit of water if need be and pour into the noodle and mix. I find that this help prevent the noodle from turning very soggy and dry.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Winter Melon Soup


A simple, easy and quick to prepare soup that is nutritious and cooling in this tropical country. I cooked this soup and had it together with the 'Rice Cooker' Chicken Rice. The traditional version of the rice is supposedly cooked in claypot using charcoal and it usually will cause our body to be 'heaty' after consuming it. Winter melon soup is the best accompanying soup to go along with it in my opinion. Though my version of supposedly Claypot Chicken Rice is cooked using rice cooker and therefore has no issue of 'heatiness' to the body, I would love to have my 'Rice Cooker' Chicken Rice' with this soup due to the hot weather here.

Ingredients

800g winter melon, skin removed and chopped in chunks
1 carrot cut into cubes
1/2 cup dried anchovies
1 pc of chicken thigh
About 8 cups of water

1/2 cup cubed minced pork/chicken, marinate with little light soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper and cornflour
2 slices of ham, cut square
3-5 slices of ginger
1 Chinese spoon of Wolfgang berries

Method
 
1. Wash and drain the anchovies. Add anchovies, chicken thigh and water in the pot and cook in slow fire for about half and hour.

2. Drain the stock to remove the anchovies and chicken thigh.

3. Heat up the stock and add winter melon and ginger. Let it come to a boil for about 10 and add in the carrot, ham and minced meat. Continue to let it cook for another 5 minutes. 

4. Add in salt and Wolfgang berries. Switch off fire.

Note:
1. You may use more chicken thighs to brew the stock and omit anchovies or for the easiest way out if you have really no time, just use chicken bouillon granules.

'Rice Cooker' Chicken Rice


Time is precious. My schedule as a Stay-At-Home-Mum (SAHM) is always packed with errands, chores as well as all activities to educate and nurture my kids.  If I don't plan ahead well what I want to achieve for a day, I realised that I could hardly able to find time for prayer and left with no time to myself to do something that I like or just to rest. What I had planned for dinner was a simple and easy to prepare one dish meal with quick boil Winter Melon Soup. The only unhealthy ingredient in this meal is the Chinese sausage which is high in sodium. As this is an occasional dish I cook, I am not too bothered by it. I am using the mixture of brown, red unpolished and fragrant rice to boost up the fiber content of this meal.

Ingredients
300g chicken thighs, chopped in big chunks
1.5 cups of rice
2 cups of water (use the residue water used to soak the mushroom and add clear water to make up to 2 cups)
4 - 5 small onions, sliced
1 stick Chinese sausage, skin removed
3 mushrooms, soaked and water retained

Chicken seasoning
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp mushroom or oyster sauce
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp ginger juice
4 cloves of chopped garlic
Dash of sesame oil
Dash of pepper

Chinese Parsley for garnishing

Method

1. Marinate the chicken with the seasonings and set aside for about an hour.

2. Wash and soak the mushroom until soften and retain the water to cook rice. Once soften remove stem, slice and set aside.

3. Fry the shallots and set aside.

4. Remove skin of the sausage and slice.

5. Wash rice and cook.  After ten minutes add in the mushroom, chicken, sausage and garlic. Open the rice cooker ten minutes later and stir.

6. Garnish with fried onions and parsley.

Note:

1. You may add  salt if you wish but I prefer it less salty.

2. You may add one or two thin sliced of salted fish. You may just add it in together with the chicken, Some people prefer to fry it and add in once the rice and chicken are cooked.

3. You can add some chopped chicken liver to this dish. Add this together with the chicken.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Homemade Meat and Lentils Burger


Rice and noodles are the two typical staple products that I would make sure I stock them up most of the times like all other Asian households. Meals served in my household are mainly based on these two staples cooked or served in various ways. I want a change!! Yesterday I decided to make burgers for the kids and myself for lunch and we had it to our satisfactions. The fact that my boy, who is picky about food, finished almost the whole burger, it showed that it was yummy. So did my daughter.

I am not a health freak in terms of food but I do try to pay attention to the food I prepare for my family. This recipe was adapted from a book called 'Feed Your Child Right' that I bought many years back. The fact that it is a well-balanced recipe packed with lots of vitamins, minerals, fiber, proteins and other benefits made me feel good serving it. What's more..? It is light and delicious.

The only drawback I could say was that the patties didn't manage to bind together very well due to the smooth texture of the mashed potato and the grainy lentils. This could be easily fix with a little more cornstarch added to the mixture to bind everything together. The other change I made to the recipe was the seasoning. I made the change based on my inclination as of what I have in the pantry and what I thought would work to bring out the fragrance of the lentils without overpowering the rest of the ingredients.


Ingredients
(make 5 large patties)

200g ground lean pork
1/2 cup orange lentils cooked and cooled
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium potato, boiled, mashed and cooled
1 medium egg
Dash of cumin
Dash of steak seasoning
Dash of garlic salt
Dash of pepper
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp cornflour dissolved in a little water

Butterhead Lettuce
Sliced Cheese

Method

1. Mixed all ingredients together except the butterhead lettuce and cheese.

2. Shape it to approximately 5-6 round patties

3. Dust it with flour and shallow fry both sides for about 2 - 3 minutes.

Note:
1. You may make a lot of patties in advance and freeze them in the freezer. To do so, cover each individual patties with plastic or cling wrap.

2. You may use chicken, mutton or lean beef.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Macaroni Chicken Soup

 
If you were to google in the web on macaroni chicken soup, you probably would find ton of interesting recipes from Western to Asian styles. The images are captivating and each one looked so delicious and has its uniqueness just for this simple dish. I took a closer look at most of the images and visited some of the sites that I thought the recipes would be closed to what I was searching for. Unfortunately, I could not find one that pleased me. What am I looking for??

I think I need to share with you a little more on how this dish was served in my family when I was young that I didn't like back then and how I fell in love with it now. This dish was only prepared whenever someone fell ill in my family. So you could probably imagine how plain this dish was going to be prepared; served with simple non-oily stock like anchovies broth, pak choi and perhaps ham or sliced pork. I remembered I would never enjoy eating it no matter how tasty it was but I am still thankful for my mum's effort very much!

When I looked through the macaroni soup recipes that I could find in the websites especially those cooked in Asian styles, many called for chicken broth as the soup base and a variety of vegetables like pak choi, carrots and/or peas and some use ham, fish balls and/or sausages, shredded chicken for the meats. Some even added Chinese Angelica Root (Dang Gui). Frankly it doesn't taste bad but not an excellent one still I would say. Somehow or rather all the recipes that I stumbled on didn't hit me at all. This wasn't only because of how this dish brought back 'unpleasant' childhood memories but mainly because I tasted an absolutely delicious bowl of simple clear chicken broth macaroni in the Church I attended every Sunday later on in Singapore.

This Macaroni Chicken Soup was flavourful with tasty clear chicken broth, fragrant with a little hint of ginger, Chinese parsley, and fried onions. Simply served it with some chopped red chillies, light soy sauce and toasted bread crumbs. Omit all the 'intimidating' ingredients like vegetables or meats for health reasons or whatsoever just for this time as to preserve the original flavour of the chicken essence and I bet that you will not regret of doing so :).

You could probably cook chicken rice for lunch and use the broth to prepare a light dinner meal just for this dish like what I did. I will share with you the recipe for chicken rice in my upcoming post...

Ingredients:
1 bird of chicken (About 800g)
Salt to wash chicken
3-5 thick slices of old ginger
Water just enough to cover the chicken

1 packet of macaroni
Water to boil the macaroni
Salt

Chinese parsley (Coarsely chopped)
Red chillies (Seed removed and julienned)
Store-bought fried onions
Bread crumb (Cut white bread into small cubes and toast in the toaster or oven until crunchy)
Chicken bouillon granules
Salt to taste
Dash of pepper and light soy sauce when serve
 
Method

1. Boil water, throw in some salt and cook the macaroni until al-dente and set aside.

2. Rub the cavity and the outer part of the chicken with salt. Rinse and wash.

3. Prepare a pot of cold water. Put the cleaned chicken in the cold water and switch on the fire at very low temperature. Make sure that the water is hot but not boiling throughout. Let the chicken sit in the hot water for about an hour to an hour and a half and cook it using indirect heat.

4. Remove chicken and rinse with cold water and set aside.

5. Chop the chicken neck off debone the breast. Pound the bones in a pestle to optimise the chicken flavour while keeping the thighs for your chicken rice. If you are not cooking chicken rice together with this dish, you may debone the whole chicken and pound all the chicken bones and throw the crushed bones back to the pot of soup. Shred the chicken meat to your liking and set aside.

6. Chop off the roots of the Chinese parsley and throw them into the pot while keeping the leaves for garnishing. Brew the soup for another half an hour or so.

7. Add salt and chicken bouillon granules to taste.

8. Remove fat from the soup.

9. Put some cooked macaroni in a bowl. Using a sieve, scoop some soup into the bowl to warm up the macaroni then drain away the soup back to the main pot.

10. Using a sieve again scoop some soup to the bowl of macaroni. Serve with shredded chicken, fried onions, chopped parsley, julienned red chillies and bread crumbs (optional) with dash of pepper and light soy sauce.

 
(Despicable Me 2 was in the theatre last month and it was my kids' favourite show. I thought this picture was too cute not to be posted and shared...
I thought Minions only love bananas?! heee) 
 

Note :

1. Just to share with you a silly experience I had when I was toasting small cubes bread. Stay near to your toaster and watch it closely as it got toasted and BURNT too fast without you knowing. My kitchen almost caught fire few years back because of this.


 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Soy Sauce Chicken with Liquorice Roots






This is a modified recipe from the original recipe that I posted last month on Soy Sauce Chicken. I wanted a chicken dish with vegetables that doesn't require long time of preparation and cooking. I also wanted to have a grilled chicken meat without using the toaster or oven. If you are residing in Singapore, Happy Call Pan is a no stranger term of cookware to you. I was cooking this dish with this magical pan.

I threw in lots of carrot to this dish which added the natural sweetness to it. It is tasty and best to have it together with a bowl of white rice. The flavour and taste is completely different from the Soy Sauce Chicken I posted a while ago.

Soy Sauce Chicken with Liquorice Roots

Ingredients
3 drumsticks with thighs
salt to wash chicken

10 shallots, skin peeled
10 cloves of garlic, skin peeled
1 cup of water
4 - 6 medium-sized carrots, cut into thick slices
2 pieces of 3 inches long Liquorice Roots
1 piece 0.5 cm thick ginger
6 cubes small rock sugar

To Marinate the Meat:
2 tablespoon of mushroom sauce
2 tablespoon of light soy sauce
1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
generous amount of salt
1 tablespoon of oil

Method

1. Wash chicken with salt and remove all fat.

2. Marinate the chicken with the seasonings and set aside at least for 15 minutes

3. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a Happy Call Pan using medium fire. Fry shallots, garlics and ginger until light brown and fragrant.

4. Push onions etc to the side of the pan and place chicken flat touching the pan. Keep the balance of the sauce for later use. Fry it for about 1 minutes both side or until colour changed and the chicken slightly grilled on both surfaces.

5.  Add in balance of the seasoning sauce, water, liquorice roots, carrots. Let it come to a boil then close the pan and lock it for 15 minutes.

6. Open the pan, stir the ingredients and flip the chicken. Close and lock for another 15 minutes. If it is too dry add a bit of water.

7. Throw in the rock sugar, close and lock the pan for another 5 minutes. Stir well, let it rest for at least 10 minutes and serve hot.

Notes :

1. If you are cooking this as a confinement food, do add generous amount of small onions, ginger slices and liquorice roots into the dish.
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