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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Unique Taste Soy Beancurd (Tofu) Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking

Home-cooked Unique Taste Soy Beancurd (Tofu)
Unique Taste Soy Beancurd (Tofu)

Sometimes I wonder what make me tick and satiate with life, I did not know then. But now apart from my family, I feel intrigued by anything scrumptious on the plate that aroused my taste buds, bringing forth a delirious gastronomic delights.  Today, the enticement of the picturesque recipe in the Amy Beh cookbook made me surrender, then dashed right into the kitchen and came out with this dish.

The recipe did guide me through to transform a plain, bland and squishy soy beancurd (tofu) into something special. Interiorly, tofu retains its natural flavors with a mild garlicky, oniony, gingery and spicy tastes which marry well as a result of an half-hour-steaming. Exteriorly, the criss-cross-cut tofu is coated with a layer of sweet glaze,  a thick viscous yet luscious sauce which obtains its flavors predominantly from rock sugar, rice vinegar and Shaoxing wine, to name a few. A confused melange huh? I thought that's why the dish is labeled as unique taste. Well, I must admit that I aren't big into this sugary syrup, but at least am happy to know that tofu can be prepared in this fashion.

If you have a sweet tooth, you might fancy this recipe. Below how-to recipe will help you to embark on. Enjoy!

Ingredients :
1 big piece soft beancurd (aka soft tofu or silken tofu) 水豆腐, 嫩豆腐或滑豆腐
3 cm knob galangal, lightly smashed
5 cm cinnamon stick
2 star anise
5 cloves
1 whole big bulb of garlic, with skin on
3 stalks spring onions, lightly smashed
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp oil
500ml water

Seasoning :
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
40g rock sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp concentrated chicken stock
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine 绍兴酒 (optional)

Thickening :
1 tbsp corn flour
1 tbsp water

Garnishing :
A sprinkling of chopped spring onions
Some coriander leaves

Method :

1. Heat oil and sesame oil in a wok. Add galangal, cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, garlic and spring onions. Fry until fragrant, pour in water and add seasoning. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to mere simmer for 30 minutes.

2. Gently place beancurd in a big steaming bowl. Pour in the cooked sauce and steam the beancurd for 25-30 minutes.

3. After steaming, gently remove the beancurd into a serving platter. Make a criss-cross cut on the beancurd.

4. Bring the sauce mixture to a boil and add thickening. Pour the sauce over the beancurd and serve with a sprinkling of chopped spring onions and coriander leaves.


Unique Taste Soy Beancurd (Tofu)
Unique Taste Soy Beancurd (Tofu)

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Stir-fried Kam Heong Chinese Long Beans Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking

Stir-fried Kam Heong Chinese Long Beans
Stir-fried Kam Heong Chinese Long Beans

Those who regularly patronize seafood eateries must be very familiar with 'kam heong lala (fragrant clams)' or 'kam heong crabs' which always available in the seafood restaurant menu, be it in the form of dine-in or takeaway.  Pronounced as 'kam heong' in Cantonese, the phrase literally translated as fragrant, flavorful or 甘香 in Mandarin.  'Kam heong' sauce is exceedingly versatile, as you can prepare it in bulk, store properly in the fridge and pair them with any seafood, chicken, pork or vegetables whenever you're hard pressed for time, without compromising on the flavors yet not labor-extensive.

The soul ingredient for kam heong dishes lies heavily in curry leaves which elevate the whole dish into another dimension. Basically all you need is to pour in copious amount of curry leaves in order to pep up your strong tastebuds. If you are big into biting chilli-hot, be lavish of bird's eye chillies addition. My tastebuds tolerance towards chilli-hot (heat scale) is comparatively low to that of my hubby, any addition beyond 5 bird's eye chillies is sure to ruffle my features. Thus, I add in my ceiling amount of bird's eye chillies into this dish.

I incorporated vegetables into 'kam heong' sauce today instead of pairing it with usual seafood ingredients.  Chinese long beans (aka yardlong beans, long-podded cowpeas, asparagus beans or snake beans) retain a nice crisp-tender bite despite being lacquered with lumpy 'kam heong' sauce. When bulked up with the briny taste of dried shrimps, a burst of onion and chilli powder flavors, this savory piquant dish is sublime.

When you opt for this stir-fried 'kam heong' Chinese long beans, be sure to attune your five senses to enjoy every taste. So are you ready? Let's get down to cook!

Ingredients :
250g long beans, cut into 5cm lengths
1 onion, quartered
4 tbsp dried shrimps, soaked and ground coarsely
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced shallots
2 sprigs of curry leaves, stem discarded, use leaves only
5 bird's eye chillies, chopped
Sufficient oil for deep-frying

Seasoning  (Sauce mixture) :
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp Hoisin sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 dark soy sauce
4 tbsp of water

Method  :

1.  In a skillet, deep-fry long beans in hot oil for 20-30 seconds. Dish up and drain on a wire mesh ladle to drain off excess oil.

2. Leave about 2-3 tbsp oil in the skillet and saute chopped dried prawns, minced garlic and shallots until fragrant. Add in curry leaves and bird's eye chillies. Stir to mix well and until aromatic.

3. Return the Chinese long beans to the skillet and pour in the sauce mixture (seasoning). Stir to mix well all the ingredients. Dish out in a serving plate and serve hot with steamed rice.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Healthy Crunchy Oatmeal Grilled Chicken Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking

Healthy Crunchy Oatmeal Grilled Chicken
Healthy Crunchy Oatmeal Grilled Chicken

Does it sounds guilt-free and healthy to have chicken grilled with oatmeal? If you have had glanced through the prefix of the this recipe title, you probably already knew my answer. Yes, healthy, you read it right!

Prized for its water-soluble fiber content, it's claimed that daily consumption of a bowl of oatmeal each morning is the perfect way to start your day off as it helps to lower blood cholesterol and will definitely keep the doctor away in the long run. So as chicken, it is low in fat, protein-rich, exceedingly versatile and it is just as beneficial for weight watchers.

If you possess tastebuds accustomed to stronger and more robust flavors, you can infuse a nice piquancy to the dish by dusting the chicken fillet with chilli powder before grilling. The chicken flavor relies heavily on the flavorful chicken marinade which is reminiscent of hot and spicy version of Kentucky Fried Chicken, but nearly greaseless and more healthier. As contrast to the tenderness of the grilled chicken which is wrapped in crispy brown cloaks, this crackly-crunchy oatmeals coating provides the chomping pleasures in our mouths.

You can have the chicken grilled or baked, either way is better than deep-fried. For the recipe, here you go! This recipe is adapted from The Food Site.

Ingredients :

150g chicken breast meat, cut into strips
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp sea salt
7 tbsp instant oats (I used Quaker oats)
1 egg white
2-3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Methods :

1. Season the chicken strips with garlic powder, chilli powder and a pinch of sea salt. Let it stands for 30 minutes.

2. While the chicken is marinating, put the oats in a bowl and egg white in a second bowl, beat until homogenous.

3. When the chicken is ready to cook, first dip the chicken pieces in the egg white, then coat the chicken in the bed of oats, one at a time. Repeat this for all chicken slices. Place the coated chicken pieces on a tray lined with aluminium foil.

4. Before grilling, drizzle 2 – 3 tbsp of olive oil over the chicken pieces. Grill in the oven for about 8 minutes. Then flip over to the other side and bake for another 8 minutes. Verify the chicken doneness by poking with a toothpick or fork, the juices will run clear and oatmeals turn to crispy brown when it's done.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chicken with Lemongrass and Asparagus Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking

Home-cooked Chicken with Lemongrass and AsparagusI have a few calorie-laden staple dishes for the past few days and to alleviate this gnawing guilt, there's some internal urges from myself to adopt a healthier diet since after. I try to ration and minimize the intake of greasy fat and unhealthy seasonings and opt for low-fat and high-fibre ingredients in my next prepared meals. Hence, below oriental Chinese dish - chicken with lemongrass and asparagus seems gratified my need. A good source of dietary fiber, asparagus is an alkaline food which is rich in protein but low in calories and carbohydrates. It is an excellent source of potassium, folic acid, vitamins A, C and K, traces of vitamin B complex, niacin, phosphorus and very low sodium. Highly dense in healthful nutrients that help various ailments, asparagus is used as a tonic to relieve arthritis and rheumatism, cleanses the tissues and muscles of waste, provides regular bowel movement, provides diuretic effect, prevents the progression of cataracts and other eye problems, treats diabetes and heart disease, prevents the dreaded cancer, prevents or dissolves kidney stones and even treats toothache as believed in folk medicine.

This is a Thai-influenced dish, with a generous concoction of lemongrass, ginger, onion, garlic and basil leaves. The addition of vine-ripened tomatoes moistens the dish and lends a taste of the Mediterranen. Cooked quickly to a crisp-tender texture, the crunch of the asparagus contrasted with the chewy texture of the cooked chicken and is tinged with the mild pungency of black pepper, and more dominated by the refreshing lemony essence of lemongrass.

To prepare chicken with lemongrass and asparagus, you'll need below ingredients :

1 tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
2 tsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
1 onion, sliced
600g chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tomatoes, chopped
350g asparagus spears, halved length- and widthways

Chicken marinade :
A pinch of salt
A dash of freshly ground black pepper

Seasoning :
1 tbsp shoyu or tamari sauce (types of Japanese soy sauce, darker in appearance and richer in flavour )
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
A handful of Thai basil leaves, to garnish

Ingredients for Home-cooked Chicken with Lemongrass and Asparagus
Ingredients for Chicken with Lemongrass and Asparagus

Method :

1. Marinate the chicken cubes with a pinch of salt and a dash of freshly ground black pepper for about 30 minutes.

2. Heat up olive oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat until the oil is swirling hot. Toss in minced garlic, lemongrass, ginger and onion. Stir-fry for about 4 minutes.

3. Add in chicken and stir-fry for about 4-6 minutes until the chicken is browned and cooked through.

4. Add in the chopped tomatoes, asparagus, shoyu sauce and freshly ground black pepper. Stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes. Garnish with Thai basil leaves.

Cooking Tips :

Q : Should asparagus be peeled?
A : Peeling asparagus is recommended for the asparagus with thicker stalks to get rid of woody and fibrous strings. Chop off the bottom inch of the stalk and peel downward from the spears. This process however, can be omitted with the properly selected, thin and fresh asparagus. 
(Refer to About.com for more Asparagus Cooking Tips)

Home-cooked Chicken with Lemongrass and Asparagus
Chicken with Lemongrass and Asparagus

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tangy Thai Tom Yam (Tom Yum) Fish Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking

Home-cooked Tangy Thai Tom Yam (Tom Yum) Fish
Home-cooked Tangy Thai Tom Yam (Tom Yum) Fish

Being born and bred in northern part of Malaysia, a state called Kedah where it borders Thai, I have the propensity to take hot and sour food to tantalize my taste buds. Sometimes I wonder if it's due to geographical factor that Kedah abounds with hot and sour fare that one can easily hunts down even in the narrow residential alley or this spicy-sour craving is inherent in my nature. Putting these uncertainties aside, one thing for sure, any Thai-or-Nyonya-inspired, -influenced or -originated food that encapsulates subtle and refined combination of herbs and spices to bring out its hot-sour-pungent flavor is captivating me, making me head over heels with the dish, leaving me feeling on cloud nine and wanting for more! Whilst Laksa still top my list, a piping hot bowl of tom yam soup comes to a close second.

My hot-and-sour craving struck me badly today, so instead of my initial intention of pan-frying black pomfret, I reconstituted tom yam (aka tom yum or dom yam) paste into a broth to make tom yam soup to goes with black pomfret, called tom yam pla (tom yum soup with fish). Due to the fact that tom yam paste always comes in handy in my fridge and I just brought over some fresh herbs, chillies and some home-grown greens from my hometown, I whipped this up within 40 minutes with bare minimum ingredient-searching time. It's basically a clear, spicy, sour soup which is the assemblage of fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, galangal, shallots, onions, lime juice, fish sauce, sliced red chilli peppers and a handful of bird's eye chillies to lend an extra spicy kick. Don't forget the final touch which is rather important for me, top the tom yam soup with generous sprinkling of fresh chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves. Coriander is a palate-teaser for me and it goes well with any dish.

If you're looking for tom yam recipe to cure your (or your the other half) hot and sour food craving, then look no more because this simple recipe has your answer. There may be some truth to the old adage that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Become a discerning wife or girlfriend with below easy how-to recipe, you may have more than his heart. *giggle*

Ingredients :

500g-600g black pomfret (黑鲳鱼), cut across into 2 or 3 portions
2 small brinjals (aka eggplants or aubergines) (茄子), cut into wedges (or 1 long Chinese brinjal)
2 stalks lemongrass (香茅), trim off the very end of the root and smash with the side of a knife
10 bird's eyes chillies, discard stems, keep whole
3 kaffir lime leaves (疯柑叶)
5 slices galangal (南姜)
(Tips: If galangal is not available, then substitute with double amount of ginger. Galangal is whiter in color than ginger but it's much more potent than regular ginger)
3 stalks coriander roots (use the root portion only) (aka cilantro) 芫茜
2 shallots (小葱), peeled and keep whole
1/2 onion, sliced
1 tomato, cut into wedges
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (酸柑汁)
3 tbsp tom yam paste (commercially available in Asian groceries, usually packed in bottle or package)
1 liter chicken stock or water
2 tbsp oil

Ingredients for Home-cooked Tangy Thai Tom Yam (Tom Yum) Fish
Ingredients for Tangy Thai Tom Yam Fish

Seasoning :
1 tbsp concentrated chicken stock
2-3 tbsp fish sauce (or to taste)
1 1/2 tsp sugar (or to taste)

Method :

1. Heat up oil in a wok, saute onion, lemongrass, galangal, shallots and tom yam paste for about 2-3 minutes until it exudes aromatic flavors.

2. Pour in fresh chicken stock (or water) and bring to a boil. Add coriander roots, tomato, bird's eye chillies, sliced red chilli peppers, sliced brinjals and kaffir lime leaves. Simmer under medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes.

3. Stir in lime juice and fish sauce. Put in the black pomfret fish slices and bring to a boil again. Adjust seasoning to taste. Once dished up, sprinkle with coriander leaves on top of the soup. Serve hot with white steamed rice.

Home-cooked Tangy Thai Tom Yam (Tom Yum) Fish
Home-cooked Tangy Thai Tom Yam (Tom Yum) Fish

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Monday, October 26, 2009

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Deep-fried Fish Fillets in Breadcrumbs with Basil and Lemon Mayonnaise Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking

Deep-fried Fish Fillets in Breadcrumbs with Basil and Lemon MayonnaiseWith dory fillet and basil leaves in fridge, I scoured the world wide web combining these ingredients and eventually this online recipe in delicious magazine caught my eyes. It was well enough for a Friday night dinner, but did little to help me turn last week's languishing basil leaves into something better. 

In contrast to crispy brown breadcrumbs coating outside, the fork-tendered dory fillets were juicy and succulent inside. This entree is not the unusual dish that I'd like to rave and rant about, but the mayonnaise-based dipping sauce which flavors is perked up by lemon zest, fresh basil leaves and lemon juice. The chopped basil leaves interspersed within infuse a hint of pungent flavor which complement well with the intense citrus flavor of the lemon zest.

Step through below recipe to learn how to make deep-fried fish fillets in breadcrumbs with basil and lemon mayonnaise.

Ingredients :

800g dory fillet, sliced into bite-sized pieces (alternatively you can use skinned plaice, lemon sole, flounder, megrim, witch sole or dab fillets)
50g plain flour
2 large eggs, beaten
100g breadcrumbs
30g finely grated Parmesan
1 tsp fresh red chilli pepper (cayenne pepper), chopped
Lemon wedges
Sunflower oil, for deep-frying

For the dipping sauce :
6 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest (the rich outermost part of the rind of a lemon)
25 fresh basil leaves, finely shredded

Method  :

1. Start off with grating lemon zest (the outermost part of the rind) using a grater. Before zesting, scrub the lemon with a sponge and warm water. Rinse it well and dry it with a paper towel. To zest with fine-toothed grater, just rub the lemon in one direction against the little blades and turn the lemon as you go so that you remove only the yellow part. Carefully zest the lemon leaving the pith (a white, fibrous membrane directly below the zest) on the lemon. This is due to the white pith will give a bitter undertaste.

Mix the dipping sauce ingredients together and season to taste. Cover and chill.

How to grate lemon zest and make dipping sauce
How to grate lemon zest and make dipping sauce using a grater

2. To prepare dory fillets' coating,
(i) In a plate, put the flour and set aside.
(ii) In a second shallow plate, pour in the beaten eggs.
(iii) In a third large mixing plate, mix the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, chopped red chilli pepper (cayenne pepper) and a pinch of salt, stir well.

Coat each dory fillet on both sides, one at a time, first in the flour, then the beaten eggs and finally the breadcrumbs (as below sequence, from left to right).

Coat each dory fillet on both sides, one at a time, first in the flour, then the beaten eggs and finally the breadcrumbs

Dory fillets coated in the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs
Dory fillets coated in the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs

3. Half-fill a large, deep skillet with sunflower oil and heat up to 190C (To test it, add a cube of bread to the oil. At the right temperature, it will brown in 30 seconds).

4. Deep-fry two pieces of coated dory fillet at a time for two minutes until they turn crispy and golden. Drain on plenty of kitchen paper towels to discard excess oil.

5. Serve hot with the prepared mayonnaise-based dipping sauce and white steamed rice.

Deep-fried Fish Fillets in Breadcrumbs with Basil and Lemon Mayonnaise
Deep-fried Fish Fillets in Breadcrumbs with Basil and Lemon Mayonnaise

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Honey Chicken in Red Gravy (Ayam Masak Merah) Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking

Tomato and Honey Chicken (Ayam Masak Merah)
Honey Chicken in Red Gravy (Ayam Masak Merah)

Locally known as Ayam Masak Merah and literally translated as "Chicken Cooked in Red Gravy", it's a common dish featured on the menu when you dine-out at Malay eateries in Malaysia. Although the chicken is drenched in a full-bodied, red-hued sweetish sauce, Ayam Masak Merah turns out to be a relative healthy option compared to those local curry with rich coconut gravy. At least, you will feel guilt free without having coconut milk in the dish.

Substituting the rich and calorie-laden coconut milk, honey and tomatoes infuse the savory sweet to the dish. The mélange of  of different textures - spices, finely-pounded mixture of garlic, ginger, onion, tomatoes and honey as well as distinct nuances integrate so well until it ends up in a thick, honeyed, red gloppy sauce, hence the name "red gravy" (masak merah). With long hours of marinating, the chicken is inherent with turmeric and briny flavors and deep-fried until crispy golden brown, drained up and then returned to the skillet again to mingle with thick soggy sauce. It was then brought to simmer until all the flavors marry well.

If you are looking for a balanced mix of full-bodied, briny and sweet accents dish to serve your Malay guests, then this recipe is for you. Enjoy!

Ingredients :

1 whole chicken, cut into big chunks
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
4 cloves
5 cardamon pods
2 tbsp chilli paste
2 tbsp meat curry powder
4 fresh tomatoes, quartered
1 canned tomato soup or tomato puree (small can is sufficient)
3 tbsp honey
2 sprigs of curry leaves
Salt to taste
Oil for deep-frying

Spices for Tomato and Honey Chicken (Ayam Masak Merah)
Spices for Honey Chicken in Red Gravy (Ayam Masak Merah)

For chicken marinade :
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp salt

For pounded ingredients :
4 cloves of garlic, skin removed
1 inch ginger, skin peeled
1 big onion, skin peeled

Pound garlic, ginger, onion using pestle and mortar
Pound garlic, ginger, onion using pestle and mortar

Methods :

Pounded garlic,ginger,onion mixture as chicken marinade 1. Marinate the chicken with turmeric powder and salt, wrap with cling film and let it stands for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight in the fridge.

2. When the chicken are ready to be cooked, heat up the skillet with some oil, deep-fry the marinated chicken until it turns golden brown on both sides, dished up and drained with paper kitchen towel.

3. Remove excess oil in the skillet and leave about 4 tbsp of oil for sautéing the pounded ingredients and spices. Add in pounded ingredients (garlic, ginger, onion mixture) and followed by spices (cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves and cardamon pods). Stir well until all onion caramelized and browned.

5. Add 2 tbsp of meat curry powder, stir well and wait until a layer of oil emerges on the surface. At this point, add in chilli paste and freshly quartered tomatoes. Mix well. When the tomatoes are slightly tender, add in tomato soup (or tomato puree). Cook for another 5 minutes.

6. Add in curry leaves and honey. Season with salt (to taste). Reduce to low flame to simmer for another 5 minutes until all the ingredients are well integrated with the tomatoes. Serve hot with steamed fluffy rice.

Pound garlic, ginger, onion using pestle and mortar, then marinade and deep-fry chicken
Pound garlic, ginger, onion using pestle and mortar, then marinade and deep-fry the chicken

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chicken Vindaloo Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking


Chicken Vindaloo

Moved beyond a series of soup recipes, now we are heading towards East Indian trail. So my dearest reader, are you ready to eye-feast with me this fiery hot, sweet and sour style curry?

I am putting this chicken Vindaloo at the centre of stage today with some tweaks to the original online recipe to suit my family's taste buds. With more touch of chilli powder and a bit of local sensation thrown in with lemongrass addition, the dish is sure to ruffle your features. You can adjust the amount of piquancy of your chicken Vindaloo according to your family's spiciness tolerance. Reduce chilli powder to achieve mild spicy curry if you don't like the fiery hot dish 'biting' you.

Contrast in textures and tastes, this Goan-originated, Vindaloo-styled chicken is a rich amalgam of evocative aromas and subtle blends of herbs and spices. The chicken tastes sublime with its inherent richness tempered by an aromatic marinade of herbs and spices such as cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, cardamon pods and cloves, garlic, ginger, black peppercorns and bird's eye chillies leading to a complex flavors that titillates our taste buds.

So has my choice of exerting effort on this slightly labor-extensive dish been rewarding? Definitely! If there's one thing that I can learn from cooking chicken Vindaloo is that preparing Indian dishes is not that intimidating.

Have you been sold on the zesty aromas, textures and tastes of chicken Vindaloo? If so, please help yourself to churn out this Indian-influenced dish with this Vindaloo recipe. Even if you aren't big into chicken, you can substitute with mutton or beef.

Ingredients :
3 skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into cubes or bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
7 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
1 red chilli pepper, de-seeded and chopped
2 tsp of turmeric powder
3 tsp of chilli powder (or to taste)
1 tbsp of tomato puree
1 fresh tomato, chopped
120ml water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh coriander leaves, chopped and set aside, to be sprinkled on top for garnishing purpose later
(Optional) 2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, cut and retain the lower 1/3 of portion, rest discard. Using a knife, smash the the lower 1/3 portion of lemongrass to expose partial of the flesh

Fresh ingredients : big onions, red chilli pepper, garlic, tomato, coriander leaves
Fresh ingredients : big onions, red chilli pepper, garlic, tomato, coriander leaves

Ingredients for spice paste mixture for chicken marinade :

1 tsp cumin seeds
5 cardamon pods
5 cloves
1 pcs cinnamon stick
6 black peppercorns
3 bird's eye chilli, chopped with seeds in
2.5cm (1 inch) of fresh root ginger, chopped
4 garlic cloves, skin peeled, chopped
3 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp of white wine vinegar

Spices : cinnamon stick, cardamon pods, cloves, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, bird's eye chilli, ginger, garlic
Spices : cinnamon stick, cardamon pods, cloves, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, bird's eye chilli, ginger, garlic

Method :

1. First, prepare spice paste for chicken marinade.

(i) Using a pestle and mortar, pound the cumin seeds, cardamon pods, cloves, cinnamon stick and black peppercorns. At the end, the only bits left are cardamon pod's shells which are rather hard to be thoroughly smashed even after painstaking bashings. Manually remove these cardamon pod shells.

Ingredients for spice paste mixture
Ingredients for spice paste mixture

Spices : before pounded using pestle and mortar
Spices : before pounded using pestle and mortar

Spices : after pounded using pestle and mortar
Spices : after pounded using pestle and mortar

(ii) Now add in the remaining ingredients (bird's eye chillies, ginger and garlic cloves) into the spice powder and pound together to form a fine paste. Take out the paste mixture to a bowl and add in 3 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 2 tbsp of white wine vinegar. Stir well.

Note : Alternative of method (ii), you can use food processor or blender to make the paste mixture. Blend the spice powder (already pounded using pestle and mortar as in (i)) with the other paste ingredients (bird's eye chillies, ginger and garlic cloves) in a food processor with lemon juice and white wine vinegar until you obtain a fine paste. It's wise to automate this process instead of using pestle and mortar as I did.

Add in ginger, garlic cloves, bird's eye chillies into pounded spices and pound together
Add in ginger, garlic cloves, bird's eye chillies into pounded spices and pound together

The resulted pounded spice paste mixture
The resulted pounded spice paste mixture

2.  Add the chicken to the bowl containing paste misture and toss well to coat the chicken pieces. Cover the bowl with cling film and let it stands in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight to ensure the chicken cubes absorb well all the spice marinade.

Marinate chicken cubes with spice paste mixture
Marinate chicken cubes with spice paste mixture

3. When you are ready to cook, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet and saute the garlic for roughly one minute. Add the chopped onions and the de-seeded red chilli pepper, stir well and wait until the onions are throroughly browned. Add the rest of the dried ground spices : 2 tsp turmeric powder, 3 tsp chilli powder, 1 tbsp tomato puree, 3 chopped bird's eye chillies, 1 tsp salt (or to taste) and some freshly ground black peppers. All heaped spoons except the turmeric powder, which should be just cover a flat teaspoon. Stir well for roughly one minute before adding the chopped tomatoes and 2 stalks of smashed lemongrass. Stir fry the mixture for about 5 minutes gently.

5. Add in the marinated chicken and continue to stir fry until the chicken is thoroughly coated in the mixture and cooked. It takes around 10 minutes.

6. Now pour in 120ml of water and bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat, cover with lid and simmer for 25 minutes until the sauce thickened. Check on and off if additional water is required to prevent scorching. 5 minutes before heat off, check the taste of the curry and add additional salt if necessary. Sprinkle a generous topping of coriander leaves for garnishing and serve hot with rice.

Chicken Vindaloo
Chicken Vindaloo

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Old Cucumber Soup Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking

Old Cucumber Soup 老黄瓜汤
Old Cucumber Soup 老黄瓜汤

Soup does soothe the soul, doesn't it? And it does explained why soup has became an indispensable mainstay of our family. If you're a regular of this home-cooked blog, you probably have already sniffed it out.  :-) It realized me this morning that I have been posting consecutively seven soup recipes in the last few days and it's time to switch to other staple recipes for the next blog entry.

Before digress further, I am going to feature this ubiquitous old cucumber soup as soup of the day. Distinctly different from cucumber, old cucumber (老黄瓜) is an aged or matured cucumber with golden-hued skin. With cylindrical, elongated body and tapered ends, old cucumber has a very thick and rough dried-out skin with a fleshy interior and a pocket of seeds and air.

Old Cucumber 老黄瓜
Old cucumber (老黄瓜) is an aged cucumber with golden-hued skin

Old cucumber soup is best served at blistering hot days to tone down body heat, attributable to its cooling properties. Therein the phrase "cool as a cucumber" and it is not without merit. Extremely high in dietary fibre, Calcium and Iron, it does not only have Vitamins A, B6 and C, it also has a diuretic effect. Women who are pregnant or menstruating should take caution when consuming this. Old cucumber is to be boiled into soup with its skin intact to prevent the flesh from turning mushy after long hours of simmering and to avoid disintegration. You can either have the pocket of seeds removed or remained. I used to leave the interior seeds unscrapped but it turned out to be sour and bitter, which kept hubby and I being occupied for sometimes to iron out what was going wrong on the soup before it eventually dawned on us that the culprit was the seeds.

Add this old cucumber soup to your cooking menus in dry, scorching days to stay cool as a cucumber. This is an easy-to-prepare Chinese-styled clear, nourishing soup that many Malaysian families familiar with.

Ingredients :
1 medium-sized old cucumber (老黄瓜)
300g of meaty pork ribs (排骨), rinsed
1 piece of dried cuttlefish (鱿鱼干), rinsed (optional)
4 dried scallops (干贝), soaked in warm water and shredded finely (optional)
8 red dates (Chinese red jujube 红枣), rinsed, cut into half and de-seeded (optional)
A pinch of salt to taste
1500ml water

Method :

1. Soak, scrub and wash the whole old cucumber in salted water for 10 minutes. Slice old cucumber into half (lengthwise), then cut across each half into big chunks. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds as depicted in photos below.

Slice old cucumber into half (lengthwise), then cut across into big chunks
Slice old cucumber into half (lengthwise), then cut across each half into big chunks

Scoop out the seeds with a spoon
Scoop out the seeds with a spoon

2. Blanch or parboil pork ribs in a pot of boiling water. Remove scum visibly floating on the water surface. This is to discard fat and to produce a clear soup. Then the blanched pork ribs drained up and set aside, with the pot of water discarded.

3. Bring a 1500ml-water-filled stockpot to a boil over high heat. When it boils furiously, add in blanched pork ribs, chucks of old cucumbers, dried cuttlefish (optional), pre-soaked and shredded scallops (optional) and de-seeded red dates (optional). Toss well with a ladle.  
(Alternatively, you can use crockpot (slow cooker) or double-boiler)

4. Cover the lid and reduce to low heat, simmer for 1 - 2 hours. Skim off any scum floating on the soup surface on and off using a fine steel sieve.

5. Add salt to taste 5 minutes before heat off. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Add in all the ingredients (old cucumber and blanched pork ribs) into a stockpot filled with rolling boil water
Add in all the ingredients into a stockpot filled with rolling boil water

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Great Burdock Soup with Corn and Chinese Herbs | Easy Asian Cooking


Great Burdock Soup with Corn and Chinese Herbs (药材玉蜀黍牛蒡汤)
Great Burdock Soup with Corn and Chinese Herbs (药材玉蜀黍牛蒡汤)

This soup is a variation of Great Burdock Soup with White Radish, Carrot and Shitake Mushroom (牛蒡汤), with meat. I have consumed half of the 2-meter-long great burdock and decided to transform the remaining half (1 meter) into soup as well, but this time I paired with corn and Chinese herbs. Both are Chinese-styled clear soups with a distinct of sweetness, but between the two I veer on this. Maybe the flavors of great burdock, spare ribs, corn and Chinese herbs complement and working off one another seamlessly, making this soup is a winner.

This recipe was built from scratch, I just whacked all ingredients I have in hands in a stockpot. The broth tastes mostly of long-cooked pork ribs with enough Chinese herbs and great burdock to flavor, but not overwhelm.

If you have moments of brain drains in which you run out of ideas what to cook next while having Chinese herbs abound at your kitchen cabinet, you may want to try this out. The great burdock soup recipe goes like this.

Ingredients :

300g pork ribs, cut into bite-size pieces
1-meter-long great burdock (牛蒡), brush off any muds on its skin while rinsing under cold running water, cut 2-inch lengthwise, and then into half 
1 corn, cut across into approximately 2-inch thickness
3 pcs of dang gui (Pharmaceutical name : Angelica sinensis) 当归
5 pcs of dang shen (Pharmaceutical name : Codonopsitis Pilosulae) 党参
12 red dates (Chinese dates or red jujube) 红枣, halved and de-seeded
6 pcs of bei qi (Pharmaceutical name : Astragalus propinquus) 北芪
2 tbsp of qi zi (Chinese wolfberries or goji berries) 枸杞子
1500ml water

Great Burdock Soup with Corn and Chinese Herbs Ingredients
Ingredients : Great Burdock, Corn and Chinese Herbs

Method :

1. Rinse pork ribs, great burdock, corn and all Chinese herbs thoroughly and drain, set aside.

2. Parboil or scald the pork ribs into boiling water and skim off any floating scum. Blanched pork ribs is then removed and set aside. Water discarded.

3. In a clean stockpot or deep claypot, pour in 1500ml water and let it boils. When the water is rolling boil, put the blanced pork ribs, corn, great burdock and all the Chinese herbs into the pot. Turn to low heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Alternatively, slow cooker (crockpot) or double-boiler can be used.

4. Add a pinch of salt to taste 5 minutes before serving the burdock soup.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Great Burdock Soup with White Radish, Carrot and Shitake Mushroom | Easy Asian Cooking

Great Burdock Home-cooked Soup
Great Burdock Soup 牛蒡汤

I have never made great burdock (牛蒡) soup before in my life. Great burdock sounds unfamiliar to me, the only impression is, I vaguely remember mom did mention that burdock possesses a myriad of health benefits before. Nonetheless, I decided to brave the unknown and hence have bought a two-meter-long burdock root home while patronizing wet market days ago. With mom's brief narration through the phone, I embarked on my burdock soup adventure, pairing it with white radish, carrot and shitake mushroom, a bowl of meatless soup that can be loosely construed as dinner. Oh ya, I shouldn't label it as an adventure, as the soup is pretty foolproof and you can't go wrong anyway. *wink*

Great burdock (botanical name: Arctium lappa) showers upon us heaps of medicinal properties as I peruse the search engine in the web. To name a few, as a blood purification agent, internal body cleanser, chronic skin disorders remedy (such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and skin ulcers), cold, sore throat and tonsillitis remedy, contains antioxidant properties for treating cancer, protects the liver from harmful toxins, treats ringworm and urinary tract infections, treat inflammation, cure diabetic, prevents water retention and etcera. With all these natural cure-all properties, great burdock is popular among health-conscious and those interested in maintaining ideal weight.

Tastes sweet and palatable, great burdock soup cleanses the palate in between eating dishes and viands of different flavors. Taste wise, the soup have nothing special to rave about, but who would have thought that this nondescript humble burdock root could boast such an astounding number of health benefits and healing properties?

If you wish to have great burdock soup to warm up your tummy and works wonders in your body, then below burdock soup recipe is for you.

Ingredients :

Great Burdock Soup Ingredients : White Radish, Great Burdock, Carrot, Shitake Mushroom
Great Burdock Soup Ingredients : (from top) White Radish, Great Burdock, Carrot, Shitake Mushroom

1 white radish, skin peeled off, cut into large chunks
1-meter-long great burdock (牛蒡), brush off any muds on its skin while rinsing under cold running water, cut into 2-inch thick slices
1 carrot, skin peeled off, cut into large chunks
4 shitake mushroom, soaked in warm water, halved
1200ml water
Salt to taste

Methods :

1. In a stockpot, pour in 1200ml of water and add in all the ingredients when it reaches a rolling boil. Cover the lid, reduce to low heat and simmer for 1 hour.

2. Add salt to taste 5 minutes before turning off the flame.


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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Abalone with Chicken Soup | Easy Asian Cooking

Abalone with chicken home-cooked soup
Abalone with Chicken Soup 鲍鱼炖鸡汤

Groomy October started and continues with quirky rain, hence the meal that lurking in my mind seems to be something capable of exuding a nourishing smell to my soul. Naturally it revolves a bowl of warming soup, soup and again soup. As an advocate of herbal soup, it's not hard to find redolent of herbs keep wafting from my little kitchen. And it's the right time for abalone with chicken soup makes its appearance in my dining table.

Packed with some serious nutritional punch, abalone with chicken soup ("Uncle Sun" brand) comes in as commercially available all-in-one package comprises of Astragalia 黑芪, Rhizoma, Radix Codonopsis 党参, Diosoreae 淮山, Polygonathum 玉竹, Radix Glycymhizae 甘草, two pieces of dried abalone 鲍鱼干and a small bag encapsulating special grinded herbs, abalone powder 鲍鱼粉, Luo Pian 响螺片and seasoning. Copious amount of Polygonathum 玉竹 imparts a mesmerizing sweetness whilst Radix Glycymhizae 甘草 infuses an enticing licorice taste to the soup which make it an epicurean repast on its own. Savoring this comforting soup, I can feel the lingering heat which left me a feeling that carries me a long time until night, sated and fulfilled.

Preparing this healthy soup doesn't require you to exert much effort neither does it need an advance course in cooking to prepare. It's really easy to a noob cook like me. A slight difference to other pre-packed soup which is simmered together with pork ribs, I don't parboil or blanch the chicken but I skim off scum from the soup surface at the beginning and every now and then. In my opinion, chicken emanates less fatty scum and "bone marrow" flavor as compared to pork ribs, thus I don't want to lose any flavor in the parboil liquid.

Ingredients :

1 package of abalone with chicken soup pre-mixes (I use "Uncle Sun" brand herbs and spices mix 鲍鱼炖鸡汤料, photo as below)
1 whole chicken, cut into 4 pieces and rinse
3000ml water

Abalone with chicken soup pre-mixes with herbs and spices
Pre-mix package of abalone with chicken soup with its herbs and spices

Method :

1. In a stockpot or claypot, fill in 3000ml water and wait until it reaches rolling boil. Add in the chicken. When the scum floats to the surface, skim away the froth.  (Alternatively slow-cooker (or crockpot) or double-boiler can be used)

2. Add in a whole pack of abalone with chicken soup herbal and spices pre-mixes. Cover the lid and turn to low flame and simmer for 2-2.5 hours until the chicken becomes tender.

3. Season with salt to taste. Serve hot with steamed rice.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bak Kut Teh ("Pork Bone Tea" Soup) Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking

Bak Kut Teh (Pork Bone Tea Soup) 肉骨茶
Pronounced as Bak Kut Teh in Hokkien dialect, the phrase literally translates as "Pork Bone Tea" (肉骨茶). This nourishing meat soup which is simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices was brought over to South East Asia from Fujian, China and has successfully paved its ways into many Malaysian and Singaporen kitchens. Today, the process of preparing Bak Kut Teh has been simplified with the easily available and commercially pre-packed package which incorporates all the grinded herbs and spices into a small bag. Touting as a tonic herbal soup to boost health, this small bag of Bak Kut Teh is the epitome of health and wholesomeness. If you take a whirl through Malaysian cities, you will soon discover that you can actually go on gastronomical adventures on such eye-stretching cheap hawker's food like Bak Kut Teh at a small prize of, as low as RM20 per claypot.

Packed with a bounty of herbs and a wallop of heat, Bak Kut Teh exudes its natural flavors from herbs and spices as well as earthy flavors from pork bones. An aromatic blast hits when the lid is lifted, sending our salivary glands into overdrive. The meat is almost falling off the bones and it doesn't take much coaxing for my daughter to chew. This is one of the soup that we indulge in from time to time as it's easy to prepare and good to the last drop. Chinese crullers (dough fritters or 油条) provides a good vessel to soak up all the Bak Kut Teh goodness whilst soy-based bird's eye chillies and minced garlic dipping sauce provides blow-your-head-off sensation!

This is the simple how-to recipe for Bak Kut Teh (Pork Bone Tea Soup). 肉骨茶汤食谱

Yew Chian Haw pre-packed Bak Kut Teh herbs and spices
Yew Chian Haw pre-packed Bak Kut Teh herbs and spices

Ingredients :

1 package of Bak Kut Teh herbal pre-mixes (I use "Yew Chian Haw" brand pre-packed herbs and spices 游建好肉骨茶汤料, photo as above)
400g of pork ribs, chopped into large chucks and rinsed
2 garlic bulbs
5 dried Shitake mushrooms, soaked and cut into halves
100g of enoki mushroom, stems discarded and soak
A handful of tofu puffs
2000ml water

Seasoning:
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce
Dash of white pepper powder, to taste
Salt to taste

Dipping sauce or condiment :
5 bird’s eyes chillies, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
4 pips of garlic, minced
dark soy sauce (optional)

Method :

1. Soak dried shitake mushrooms in a bowl of water until it's pliable. After being reconstituted, slice each piece into half.

2. In a stockpot filled with water, parboil or blanch the spare ribs until scum floats to the surface. Discard the froth, remove and rinse spareribs under cold running water and drain.

3. In a clay pot, pour in 2000ml of water and wait until it reaches rolling boil. Add in the blanched spare ribs, garlic bulb, Bak Kut Teh herbal pre-mixes, black dates and shitake mushrooms. Cover the lid and turn to low flame and simmer for 1-2 hours until the pork ribs become tender and all the herbal essence have been incorporated well into the soup. Skim off scum from the surface every now and then.

4. Add in enoki mushroom and tofu puffs at the last 10 minutes of simmering. Season with 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce, adequate salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with steamed rice and Chinese crullers (dough fritters or 油条).  It's at its best taken together with dipping sauce comprises of chopped bird's eye chilli, minced garlic in a full-bodied condiment of light soy sauce (sometimes with some dark soy sauce added in).

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Watercress and Red Dates Soup | Easy Asian Cooking


Watercress and Red Dates Soup 西洋菜红枣排骨汤

Watercress and red dates soup (西洋菜红枣排骨汤) is the usual and most-frequent soup that graces our dining table. It's perfectly suitable for novice cook who's always in the awe of the simplicity like me. I usually add dried cuttlefish or dried scallop for added taste but it's rather optional. Similar to other herbal soups, watercress and red dates soup can be simmered in stockpot (over stove top), in crockpot (slow-cooker) or in double-boiler. Just the water amount to be filled in for the latter two is lesser, as cooking technique of crockpot and double-boiler ensures there is no loss of liquid or moisture, and you'll get approximately the same amount of water as the initial water you have poured in. This is contrary to stove-top stockpot simmering which requires you to keep a watching eyes from time to time to prevent the soup from totally boiled off or evaporated.

Containing a superfluity of nutrients, watercress is chocked full of health benefits and is a cancer defence. Mom always claims that watercress is a powerful purifier and cleanser of the body especially the bloodstream. To those health-conscious, you may be interested in finding out more on medicinal uses and health benefits of watercress here. Despite the abundance of health benefits, watercress however should be eaten in moderation, some herbal writers warn that over-consumed may cause cystitis (膀胱炎) or other bladder (膀胱) problems due to its strong diuretic (利尿剂) properties. Some verbally claims that watercress should be avoided for postpartum woman. I can't verify this but I'd rather err on the side of caution.

Here's the simple how-to recipe for watercress and red dates soup (西洋菜红枣排骨汤).

Ingredients :
600g watercress
6 red dates
300g spare ribs, cut into pieces
1 carrot, cut into big chuck
1 potato, cut into 4 pieces
1 piece dried cuttlefish (optional, for added taste)
1200ml water
salt to taste

Method :

1. Rinse watercress, then pluck the tender shoots with its leaves intact, discard the main longish stems.

2. Blanch or scald spare ribs in a boiling water for a short while. Skim away scum from water surface. Remove blanched spare ribs and discard water. This is to reduce the scum and oiliness in the soup.

3. In a clean stockpot or claypot, pour in 1200ml water and when it reaches rolling boil, put in all the ingredients into the pot. Turn to low heat and simmer for 1-2 hours.

4. Char the dried cuttlefish over the fire (I usually use my stove top) and shred the charred cuttlefish into thin long threads using hands (You can pound it using pestle and mortar to ease shredding process). Add the shredded cuttlefish into stockpot with other ingredients to impart a unique "cuttlefish" flavor to the soup. (Alternatively, you can add some pre-soaked dried scallop substituting dried cuttlefish. If you do that, just soak the dried scallop into water and shred it into thin threads, without charring).

5. Add salt to taste 5 minutes prior to turning off the flame.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Sharkfin's Melon Soup Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking


Shark’s Fin Melon Soup 鱼翅瓜汤

Honestly, I’ve never even heard of sharkfin's melon (鱼翅瓜) for the past 31 years in my life. Hence I was taken aback by the name of "sharfin's melon" when the affable vegetable-seller in Sunday wet market told me so. Touted and assured by the stall owner as an ingredient for soup with same simmering method as winter melon, I was intrigued to haul one back for I know it'll be something new on my culinary repertoire.

Using the same cooking technique as my other ordinary soups, the soup went over well. Upon lifting my ladle to adjust the taste after long hours of simmering, it suddenly dawned on me why the name spell so. The cooked flesh of the sharkfin's melon bears a strong resemblance with shark's fin as when it's cooked, the melon becomes pliable and crumbles into transparent threads. Also reminiscent of translucent glass noodles (a.k.a cellophane noodles or Chinese vermicelli 冬粉), the flavor of sharfin's melon as mild as its appearance suggests, which basically picks up the flavors from surrounding ingredients it's cooked with. Thus, I added some red dates, Chinese goji berries (枸杞子) and carrots to impart certain level of sweetness to the soup, in addition to the earthy flavors of the pork ribs. Besides imbuing sweetness to the soup, red dates and Chinese goji berries also have the propensity to boast such an astounding number of health benefits. You can find health benefits for TCM in my previous post on Chinese Herbal Black Chicken Soup.


Sharkfin's Melon (a.k.a spaghetti squash) with green-speckled skin

The name for the melon varies in regions, if you haven't figure out what it's about, sharkfin's melon is also known as spaghetti squash (or its binomial name Cucurbita ficifolia) in some countries. Wikipedia will allay your myth and scepticism about sharkfin's melon here.

If you have abundance of Chinese herbs (red dates and Chinese goji berries) in hand like I do and tired of going over and over again with the stereotype home-cooked soup, you may want to add sharkfin's melon soup into your realm of soup one day (if you haven't do so).

鱼翅瓜汤食谱

Ingredients :

1/8 of shark’s fin melon, cut into large chucks
300g pork ribs, cut into chucks, rinsed
8 red dates, halved and seeds removed
2 tbsp wolfberries, rinsed
1 carrot, skin peeled and cut into large chucks
1000ml water

Method :

1. Parboil or blanch the pork ribs in rolling boil water in a pot. Drain and set aside.

2. Discard the rind of shark’s fin melon, cut the melon to large chunks and scoop out the seeds using a spoon.
(Tips : If you find the process of prying the seed troublesome and time-consuming, you can try to boil the sharkfin's melon in a pot of water until it starts to soften and partially pull apart, then cool it down with ice water before using a spoon to scoop out the seeds.)

3. In a stockpot, pour in 1000ml water and bring to the boil. Place the blanched pork ribs, sharkfin's melon chunks and the rest of the ingredients (except goji berries) into the pot.

4. Reduce to low flame, put on the cover and let it simmers for about 45 minutes or longer if possible. Add goji berries 10 minutes prior to turn off the flame. Add salt to taste at the last 5 minutes of simmering.
(Tips : Alternatively slow cooker or double-boiler can be used but with longer time needed.)

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chinese Herbal Black Chicken Soup Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking

Chinese Herbal Black Chicken Soup (药材乌鸡清补汤)

My devotion for Chinese herbal soup will not simply end with papaya soup with American ginseng and black chicken and double-boiled ginseng roots and chicken soup, instead it marks a beginning of yet another soup chapter. I have been away for a while back to my hometown and obliged with copious amount of Chinese herbs by my mother. Being a discerning mom, she never fails to remind us to replenish our bodies with soul-soothing and nourishing Chinese herbal soup every now and then. Now only you know that my tiredless advocacy for Chinese tonic soup is actually attributable to my mom's inheritance. I have to admit, I’ve been jumping on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) bandwagon with much enthusiasm. For those young generation preferring in green and safe medicine for treatment of chronic conditions, tendency to use herbs in home cooking is becoming more and more prominent. Chinese herbs as a curative food can be complemented by western medicine which is best known solution for acute conditions. This herbal black chicken soup is also widely consumed during confinement at Chinese homes for healing purposes and well-being boosting.

My mom always raves about the goodness of black chicken to me. Sweet in taste, neutral in nature (not being warming or cooling), black chicken tonifies and nourishes the Yin of kidney and liver and bring down fevers that are associated with Yin deficiency (养阴退热、补益肝肾). When I did my rare Sunday morning wet market browsing with my mom few days ago, she unhesitatingly grabbed me a whole black chicken to bring back to Penang. With this, I have no excuse of not boiling herbal chicken soup due to not able to snap up one in Penang Lip Sin wet market.

This tonic soup is comforting, nourishing and to top it all, nothing beats the warmth and affection embraced by a great mother!

For this Chinese herbal black chicken soup (药材乌鸡清补汤), you'll need :

Ingredients :
1 whole black chicken 乌鸡

Chinese Herbs (quantity as illustrated in photos below) :

Chinese Herbs Ingredients for Chinese Herbal Black Chicken Soup

Chinese herbs with their medicinal uses as listed below. Images start from upper left, clockwise :

qi zi (Chinese wolfberries or goji berries) 枸杞子
Channels (meridians) entered : liver, lung, kidney
Effects : Nourishes and tonifies the liver and kidney, helps eyesight, improves blurred vision, alleviates sore back, strengthens the leg and stomach,  improves circulation, boosts immune function, promotes longevity.
功效 : 养肝,补肾,滋阴,明目,益气等。

yu zhu (Pharmaceutical name : Polygonatum odoratum) 玉竹
Channels (meridians) entered : lung, stomach
Effects : Nourishes Yin, promotes the production of body fluids and relieves dryness syndrome.
功效 : 养阴,润燥,除烦,止渴。治热病阴伤,咳嗽烦渴,虚劳发热,消谷易饥,小便频数。

bei qi (Pharmaceutical name : Astragalus propinquus) 北芪
Channels (meridians) entered : lung, spleen
Effects :  Treatment of Qi deficiency, spleen deficiency and Yang deficiency, weakness and fatigue, numbness of limb, morbidity after stroke, sweating, treatment of diabetes, promotes pus discharge and tissue regeneration, promotes diuresis to reduce edema. 
功效 : 补益肺气,用於气虚,脾虚,阳虚,体弱疲倦,肢体麻木,中风后遗症,自汗,糖尿病。排脓,生肌。利尿消肿。

dang gui (Pharmaceutical name : Angelica sinensis) 当归
Channels (meridians) entered :  heart, liver, spleen
Effects : Tonic for blood and for regulating the menses, lubricates bowels to correct constipation, reduces swelling, expels pus, relieves pain.
功效 : 补血活血,调经止痛,润肠通便,是中药妇科良药。

red dates (Chinese dates or red jujube) 红枣
Channels (meridians) entered : stomach, spleen
Effects : Treats weakness, shortness of breath, lassitude, lack of appetite, loose stools due to spleen deficient
功效 :  强筋壮骨,补血行气,滋颐润颜。

dang shen (Pharmaceutical name : Codonopsitis Pilosulae) 党参
Channels (meridians) entered : lung, spleen
Effects : Corrects blood deficiency, invigorates Qi (lack of appetite, fatigue, thirst, diarrhea, vomiting, polapse of uterus, stomach, rectum due to spleen deficient), improves digestive system.
功效 : 补中益气,养血补肺。

huai shan (Pharmaceutical name : Dioscoreae Oppositae) 淮山
Channels (meridians) entered : spleen, lung, kidney
Effects : Invigorates Qi, nourishes Yin, controls spermatorrhea and reduces urination.
功效 :  补脾养胃,生津益肺,补肾涩精。

1000ml water

Seasoning :
Salt to taste

Chinese Herbs Inventory for Gladys Kock Home Cooking

Chinese Herbs Ingredients for Chinese Herbal Black Chicken Soup

Method :

1. Cut whole black chicken into 4 big chunks, trim any excess skin and fat. Rinse black chicken and all Chinese herbs thoroughly and drain, set aside.

2. Parboil or scald the black chicken into boiling water and skim away any excess or visible fats. Black chicken is then removed and set aside.

3. In a clean stockpot or deep claypot, pour in 1000ml water and let it boils. When the water is rolling boil, put the black chicken and all the Chinese herbs into the pot. Turn to low heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Alternatively, slow cooker (crockpot) or double-boiler can be used.

Simmer Chinese Herbal Black Chicken Soup in a Claypot

4. Add a pinch of salt to taste 5 minutes before serving the herbal soup.

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