Monday, June 30, 2008

Chicken Claypot Rice

Chicken claypot rice. This is a healthy (but not any less delicious) version where less oil is used and the rice is not first fried.

Chicken claypot rice (CCR) is not something easily available in KK. I can only think of two places that serve CCR, and one of them technically should be disqualified because they use a stainless steel pot instead. The other one is a half-shop at 'old' Foh San, next to the egg tarts shop. I went there for the first time 2 weeks ago and was impressed with their CCR, which was cooked by a lad of about 15/16. I was also impressed that the whole family was helping out--little bro taking the orders and little sis bringing the food, mom in the back cooking noodles and older bro in the front whipping up delicious CCR. It is rare to find Malaysian-Chinese working in restaurants anymore. Now that the Govt has pledged to seek out and expel the illegal workers in this country, maybe we'll see more locals in restaurants. I don't know why it is not our culture to have our kids working part-time jobs. The irony is when they go overseas to study, they willingly work there even if it's sweeping the floors. I hate it when some (illegal) waitress carries my bowl of soup noodles with half her thumb washing in it. You know how 'good' our Fomema people are in doing health screening. In fact, do you know that after a certain number of years in the country, the foreign workers do not need to be health-screened? Let's hope the Govt can do what they say they'll do. Anyway, let's have a happy post this morning.

I admit I have never cooked CCR before. I have of course cooked the electric rice cooker version but never thought of attempting using claypots until Nee posted on it. And you know folks, it's a cooking epiphany: once you've faced your fears of cooking a certain dish, the fear is gone. CCR turned out to be nearly as easy as cooking instant noodles! Not only that, there's hardly any frying and there's minimal washing too because you cook and eat from the pot. I'm thinking claypot everything now. Btw, my beautiful claypots were hand-carried from Guangzhou last year, which is dumb when I read that Nee bought hers locally for about RM4/US$1.25 each.

So I watched the young boy cook CCR and learnt a few tricks. One is to apportion the chicken & mushrooms topping so that the pot cover is opened only briefly when you add the topping because the cooking liquid will evaporate quickly. Soak your rice and the whole dish will cook in 20 min only! I upped the little fella and added fried shallots oil to the rice for extra aroma and you can add fried garlic too if you like.


Claypot Chicken Rice (4 big servings)

The Topping:
1/2 chicken (1 kg), chopped into small pieces
8 dried chinese mushrooms, soaked & stems removed
2 chinese sausages , sliced
1 T fresh ginger strips
1 tsp mui hiong salted fish

1. Mix all the above (except sausage slices, or even the salted fish if you don't want it mixed in) together with 1/3 t salt, 2 T light soy sauce, 3 T dark soy sauce, 1/2 T sesame oil, 1/4 t white pepper, 2 T shaoxing wine, 1 T oyster sauce and 3 T water.
2. Fry the sausage slices or if you are a health-freak, toast it in the oven like I did.
3. Divide the chicken, mushroom and sausages into 4 equal portions, including the marinade sauce (or play favoritism like me and give Son no 1 more chicken and Son no 2 more sausages).

Other ingredients:
3 1/2 cups fragrant rice
5 shallots, sliced
chicken stock or water

1. Wash the rice and soak it in water for 1 hour. Put 2 T veg oil in a pot (you can even do this in the claypot, dividing the shallots equally) and fry the shallots until slightly browned.


2. Place the claypot on top of the stove at high heat. Pour away the water from the rice and divide the soaked rice among 4 claypots, stir in the onions and oil (omit the oil if you are health-conscious) and pour chicken stock or water to cover the rice upto 3/4 cm above the level of the rice. When the water boils, let it do so for 2 min, then lower the heat to as low as it can get and add the topping with the marinade sauce and quickly cover the lid. If you like your CCR dark, add another splash of dark soy sauce over the topping in the pot. Let the rice cook for 20 minutes. Do not open the lid until it's time. If you smell burnt rice too early on, the fire's too high. I found that the rice gets cooked in 15 min but you need the extra time to get the funjiao, which is the bonus at the bottom of the pot.

Funjiao, the crunchy fragrant burnt rice at the bottom of the pot, is essential to a good pot of CCR.

Hip Hip Hooray To Our Politicians!

At this moment, the ding-dong among Malaysia's top politicians is Entertainment of The Year, better than Zimbabwe's election joke. Someone accuses another person of something, then the accused will come up with more mud to sling back at the accuser. Read: Ian Chin and Mat the Mad. BN and PKR.

Yesterday, another sodomy accusation against Anwar. Now when we get together for dinner parties we don't have to talk about the US elections or the fuel prices. We have a hell-raising fun time arguing about who done it, why he done it, how much he done it for, oooh, so fun! One question I have about the whole Altantuya thing though is why hasn't our deputy prime minister (DPM) taken legal action against the statutory report made by Raja Petra last week that his (DPM's) wife was involved? Or is it what our Prime Minister said about the latest accusation about Anwar, "It's always the case that those who are accused will deny it." Woo-hoo, Malaysians, aren't our politicians having fun and we can all watch it, forgetting about our rising costs of living and shrinking ringgit!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Royal China's Latest Offer

One of the good things about tough economic times is that there's fierce competition for your shrunken dollar. This is probably why Royal China at D-Junction, Penampang, is offering a crazy all-you-can-eat dinner menu for RM19.90/US$6 before 10% tax per person. This all-you-can-eat offer is not the regular ready-cooked buffet spread. You are to choose 8 items from the 100-item menu, freshly cooked to your order, and as long as you can finish the food on the plate, you can keep ordering from the menu. Any leftovers will be charged RM/US$3 per 100gm but of course you know unless you leave half a duck uneaten, they will not offend you by carrying out that threat. Between the 6 of us last Wed, we had about 23 items from the menu!

Hot & sour soup and seaweed fishball soup--5/10. We also had sharks' fins soup (5.5/10) and Hub said the fish maw soup (not in pic) was the best (I didn't try it). Btw, restaurants hardly use real sharks' fins anymore, so the flavor is not there. So don't think it's a steal getting buffet sharks' fins.

Roasted pork belly 8.5/10, pork hock & jellyfish 7/10.

Honey chicken wings 6/10 and roasted duck 8/10.

Mussels fritters 7/10 and crispy salad prawns 7.5/10. Prawns were crunchy but small.

royal china
Black beans clams 4/10 and rice wine clams 6/10 (we had 2 orders because both Ming and I love clams), mainly because the wine was good but you could tell that the clams were frozen because they were tough and bland.

The best dishes of the night, soy sauce prawns (medium-big, fresh, el dente and delicious) 8.5/10 and Thai-style steamed tilapia 8/10.

Beancurd with brinjals 7/10 and ostrich with ginger and spring onions 5/10. Sometimes I think restaurants use beef, tenderized until they are totally flavorless, and pass them off as ostrich...

Kailan in two ways 8/10 and romaine with fermented beancurd sauce 7/10. I like my veg and these were pretty good.

Sichuan-style noodles 7/10 (order noodles and rice last because you don't want to stuff yourself too early on) and deep-fried lotus root 4/10.

I really, really don't know. I'm not a buffet person and Royal China knows that most buffet-shunners are picky eaters who want their food specially cooked for them. They have come up with this brilliant idea of an a la carte buffet at a price you can't complain. However, I think it's human (or only me) to tire of anything that's too abundant or easily available (yes, relationships included, boys and girls). Somehow I think I'd enjoy the food more if there wasn't so much choice. I just don't think this is how I want to eat.I was too into ordering (or maximizing the offer, the greed and glutton in me) the next round of 8 dishes (we ordered 3 rounds) and I must apologize to my guests Mei and her kids for getting too caught up with the orders and taking of the photos.

I can safely speak for all of us that we won't be eating there again, like that, anytime soon or not so soon. But I must tell you that if you want to pig out (I was so full I couldn't sleep that night!) for that silly price (with tea and tax, the bill was RM172/US$54 for 6! It works out to RM28.70 per person, up from the RM19.90, but still, for buffets, it's pretty cheap), you'd better go soon (book first, the place was packed, including the car park) before Royal China realises they are doing charity buffets.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Poppy seeds bagel sandwich with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, cuke and rocket.

I added the rocket (arugula) which came all the way from Adelaide, thanks again to Yolanda.

I just love the little delis and sandwich shops in New York that serve all kinds of breads with an unlimited choice of spreads and fillings. Bagels, like pretzels, are so New York to me. Here in KK, you can't find these chewy doughnut-lookalike bread anywhere, not even at Hyatt's bakery or Starbucks. Why did I suddenly make a batch of bagels today?

Because Vero's back! She is back! Vero's back! (*sing to Eminem's Without Me*) Now I can go back to baking without getting upset and flustered over the washing up. Nothing makes you appreciate a person until she/he is not there for you. From the clothes to the floors to the drinking water, we depend on dear Vero. Her two months of holidays made me realise how terribly useless we have become, like we have no hands as my mom put it. And when Hub came up to tell me this morning "Vero's back," I can tell you it was like (as my mom put it again) "The skies have cleared." It's good to know the feeling's mutual because Vero reported to me about the low wages and widespread unemployment in Indonesia.

Another reason I made bagels is W came back from Canada with a pack of smoked salmon for me. Because of the long travel hours, she brought me hot-smoked salmon which tasted more like canned trout, and it was packed in a sweetish liquid which spoilt the taste of the sandwich. I hereby declare I prefer cold-smoked salmon so anybody who intends to bring smoked salmon for me, remember that.

I've made bagels a number of times, and each time I wasn't fully satisfied with the results because although they tasted pretty okay, most of my bagels would be wrinkled and compressed at some spots. I read Hungry Hamster's and BakingBites' (teaches you how to shape the bagels step by step) bagel posts, and their perfect bagels upset me. How come their bagels look so puffed and smooth? I know the only thing I didn't follow according to my recipe is the final proofing time. I usually proofed the bagels twice as long, thinking that the airier they get, the better. This time however, I obediently followed the instructions and sure enough--none of my bagels shrunk or wrinkled. It is like I have finally cracked a secret code.


5 cups of bread flour
2 t dry yeast (make sure it's active)
2 T fine sugar
1 t salt
1 1/2 cups water

sesame and poppy seeds for topping
1 egg, beaten
2 T sugar

1. Put the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and water into your mixer bowl and knead at low speed, 10 to 15 min. until dough is smooth and springs back when you press it with a finger.

2. Cover the bowl with a wet tea towel and let it rise for an hour in a warm place like the oven.

3. Take dough out, punch it down, then divide into half and half and half again to get 8 equal pieces of dough. These will make pretty large bagels so if you like them small, divide dough into 10 or 12.

4. Roll each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface until it is a smooth ball. Let it rise for 30 min.

5. Take a ball of dough and press your thumb and forefinger through the middle to make a hole, then jiggle the dough with your fingers until the ball of dough becomes like a doughnut (but with more height) with a hole of about 3"/7 cm in diameter. Place the bagel on a well-floured surface and let it rise 30 min. While waiting for the bagels to rise, boil a large pot of water (I prefer using my big wok because it has a shallow but larger surface area) and switch oven on to 200 C. Add 2 T sugar to the boiling water. Prepare two oven trays lined with greaseproof paper (I didn't have grease-proof paper so I used al foil, dusted with flour).

Oh no, I thought, not again! But when they baked in the oven, these wrinkled rings puffed up again. Take a look at BakingBites' bagels--how did they stay so smooth in the water??

6. Carefully drop the risen bagels, 2 or 3 at a time, into the boiling water, cook 2 min. on each side at medium boil, then scoop them out using a slotted spoon, drain on a clean tea towel and place them on the greaseproof paper-lined tray, spaced slightly apart.

7. Brush the top of the bagels with the beaten egg, sprinkle your choice of seeds on top and bake for 25 min, or 20 for smaller bagels.


Note: I've seen a recipe that includes 1 T veg oil, and I wonder if that'll improve the bagels? Next try.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Soy Sauce Pork Cubes

Soy sauce pork cubes: look at that shiny semi-transparent fat!

I like to throw all caution away sometimes, with my food that is. So for dinner tonight Wey could hardly believe his nose and then his eyes when I cooked soy sauce belly pork. I truly believe that sometimes you have to eat some fat to maintain that glow and bounce on your cheeks especially if you aren't 35 anymore and if you are going to do so, might as well make it devilishly sinful.

Instead of the highly flavored (wine, star anise, ginger, spring onions) 'red-cooked' pork which, as I've told you again and again, my Shanghainese MIL is best at, I was hankering for a simple soy sauce pork simmered in its own juice and fat, no water added. And what goes better with it than plain white rice although unfortunately I forgot to tell Ming and he cooked the usual semi-polished rice, which Wey dislikes. But still, we had a simple plate of home-grown kangkong, grilled mackeral/saba and a light jieu cai soup with the pork and it was belly-rubbing satisfying. Only thing is, I keep feeling this stretch on my tummy and thighs. But my face feels oily and icky, which must mean the oil's gone there too, which, at my age, is most welcome. Ah, never mind, back to rabbit food and lean meat tomorrow.

This recipe as I've said doesn't call for addition of water because the generous amount of wine is enough to cook the meat. Without much water, the pork will be shiny and not as 'stewy' looking and the moistness will come from the fat it's cooked in. Keep the pork skin on, because it will give a nice bite. Don't cook the pork until it is all soft and falling apart because it tastes best with a slight chew to it.

The secret to a good dish of soy sauce pork is to simmer the pork in its own juice. If you add too much water, the pork is boiled and tastes so but if you let the pork cook in very little water, the pork will have a taste between fried and simmered, which, when you get it right, tastes like food from heaven.

A cube of soy sauce belly pork goes a long way with a bowl of rice.
1 kg belly pork, skin on (same cut for bacon)
1 T Shaoxin wine or rice wine*
3 shallots (small red onions), smashed or sliced coarsely
5 T dark soy sauce**
2 T light soy sauce**
1/2 T rock sugar (about size of your thumb)
1/4 cup spring onions, in 3 cm lengths
*Use rice wine instead of Shaoxin wine if you want a stronger soy sauce flavor
**Use Lee Kum Kee's Selected soy sauces.

1. Wash and cut the belly pork into 'cubes' of about 1 1/2 "/3 cm thick. You can blanch the pork with hot boiling water if like to remove hairs and dirt. This step also prevents the sauce from becoming cloudy.

2. Heat up a heavy pot or a glass casserole dish like Corning's. Add 1 T oil, fry the shallots for 30 seconds and add in the pork. Sear pork over high heat until white all over. If you are cooking more than 1 kg, it is good to cook this in two batches so that the high heat is maintained and the meat gets seared without letting out liquid.

3. When meat is all white (and ideally, browned here and there), add the soy sauces, the wine, the rock sugar and 1/4 cup stock or water. Cover. Reduce heat so that it gives a medium-low simmer. Water will come out of the pork as it cooks. Stir once in a while.

4. After 45  minutes, test the pork. If you like it softer, cook another 15 to 30 minutes. Otherwise, uncover and add extra rice wine if like. Stir well to mix and increase heat to high to reduce the sauce until it's very thick. This may take another 10 minutes or more if there's lots of liquid.

5. Stir in the spring onions and serve hot with plain  boiled rice. Add a plate of stir-fried veggies.

If using pressure cooker, cook 15 minutes from the time the cooker hisses. After that, let the pressure dissipate fully and remove the lid. If there's too much liquid or the liquid is watery, turn the heat on high and cook without covering until the sauce is thick.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Kohinoor North Indian Restaurant

Last year, Shan came across my blog and featured it in an article she wrote for a local daily. I think she found Louis on my blog and also did a feature on him. The three of us then got together for a meal and it was so natural and enjoyable, despite us never having met before.

Last night, we got together again (after one year) and this time, we were joined by Louis' pretty wife, Jasmine. Again, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It's amazing how comfortable it felt with the three of them. We were able to zip from one topic to another, talking about mutual friends to our travels to our latest antics. I was happy to learn that Louis is from U of Toronto (I'm from U of Manitoba) and we both miss Canada! We were priviledged to listen to Louis talk about his work. He was excited about a wedding he shot last Friday for a beautiful couple from Perth, who flew in 60 guests for their wedding at Tanjung Aru Beach Resort, alongwith many beautiful trinklets and wedding favors unavailable here. I am so waiting to see the photos which Louis promised will be up soon. If any of you are getting married this year, go to Louis's website and you'll be awed by his photos, plus the beauty of Sabah as your wedding venue. However, with Louis being a much-awarded and acclaimed photographer, you may have to defer your wedding to suit his schedule, which is nearly full!

I arrived a little early and joined Shan for a drink at The Loft in The Waterfront, a short stretch of restaurants along the sea in town. Shan is full of enthusiasm about the Borneo Marathon this October, dropping names of the celebrities who will be running, including a world-class runner who just confirmed his participation, but I've forgotten his name! Shan is the person to sidle up to if you want to get some autographs of the celebrities at the Marathon. That list includes Kenny Sia, and I think we Sabah bloggers should pin him down and get some tips from him on blogging.

When Louis and Jasmine arrived, we walked a couple of doors away to Kohinoor, a restaurant that serves north Indian food. I had wanted to eat there because I love their butter chicken, but besides that and naan, I was at a lost to order, and so were Louis and Jasmine so we left it to Shan to order for us.

Of course I was nervous taking photos when Louis was right in front of me. I avoid using the flash most of the time but when Louis said it was ok, who was I to defer. In front of sifu (master), I obey.
Kohinoor is a casual and comfortable restaurant that bustles everynight, proof of their popularity.

Tandoori chicken RM26.90/US$8.40. Never my favorite anywhere because they always come neon-orange and dry, so I was pleasantly surprised with these nicely-spiced, tender and just-moist chicken. I will definitely order this again next time I go. Btw, you can choose to have your dishes either mild, medium or hot. We played safe and chose medium.

Spinach paneer RM18.90/US$5.90. This is spinach with paneer, a young cheese that has the texture (and flavor I think, being very mild) of mozzarella. Shan has given me the how-to on making paneer and I am excited about it. I may have found a substitute for mozzarella!

Butter chicken RM23.90/US$7.50. Of all the butter chicken I've tried in KK's Indian restaurants, Kohinoor's rank the best for me and my family. However, I must say I found last night's butter chicken slightly more sugar-sweet than usual. And I wish they would give chunkier (the pic above is highly zoomed, the size of the chicken pieces were about the size of walnuts) and more chicken because what we had was more butter chicken sauce. For that price.

Dhall, a lentil dish, RM13.90/US$4.40. This was good but next time, I'd go for a spicier version. I told Shan that I've noticed that Indian food is not big on veggies but she told me it's the contrary. You could eat vegan all the time in India. Looking at these pictures, I think what I should've asked was, are all Indian veggie dishes pulverized into baby food??

Naan, that loveliest of Indian bread, about RM4/US$1.25 each. We had a basket of naan each, and I had garlic naan (yumz!) and a wholemeal puri.

At the right hand corner is a bowl of cuke raita, a perfect refreshing dish for in-between mouthfuls of curry.

Including our drinks, the 'damage' as Shan put it, was RM132.30/US$41.30 after a 15% discount. I thought it was pretty decent. When I got home, Hub had just driven in with Wey holding two doggiebags of grilled lambchops, and I wolfed down a whole piece before Wey could stop me (I am trying to loose a little weight, so am hungry all the time...). The chop was very good, thick and tender and well-marinaded (a little too sweet and salty actually), and it was from Archie De Corner which happens to be round my corner. That'll be my next food review for sure.

Shan, Jasmine and Louis, it was wonderful meeting up and like I said, when I get myself together, you guys will be invited home for dinner!

Friday, June 20, 2008

No On-Off Button

Meet Sprite, Elaine's 6-weeks old baby. Sprite's a half terrier and half shihtzu

"A toy with no on-off button," said Elaine's hubby.

"A toy that poos and pees," said Elaine embarassingly when she brought Sprite to my house and he peed, a foot away from my Afgan rug.

"A toy that gets tummy rubs and eats better than me or my Dad," said Justin, Elaine's son.

A toy that would make a good rice wine dish, I thought...haha, just kidding.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dim Sum At WK Restaurant


Yes, groan, another dim sum post! I have to blog this, so you guys can hurry there and keep the place running. Not many people know that WK Restaurant near Dowish Restaurant (now what kind of a name is that?? Do I say "Dow-ish" or "Do-wish", or just "Dowsh"?), Bundusan/Swamp Road in Penampang has new chefs, rumored to be from a Brunei restaurant and from Promenade Hotel, and all-new menus for dim sum, lunch and dinner. I've only been there for dim sum, twice, but I'm told dinner's very good too.

Early last year, we had a flurry of new restaurants when Warisan Square opened. There were also a couple of good dim sum places I blogged about, HK City Restaurant and Royal Palace Restaurant. HK City Rest. has since kaput and Royal Palace seems to be following suit too, which is sad because their dim sum when they first opened was so good people lined up for months to eat it. On a recent visit, Royal Palace wasn't even opened for dim sum breakfast until 11 am. Such is the state of affairs in KK when it comes to restaurants. I sure hope with 1 Borneo up, Warisan Square will have a wakeup call. The place is crammed and cheapened with side stalls left, right and center and recently they've put up a glass cage in front of Times Bookstore, right on the road. I can't understand how they got the approval (if they got one at all) to erect a clear glass section right on the road. There's always bound to be some clumsy, reckless (men) drivers who can't tell especially at night that that's glass walls sticking out. My dog ran into our glass slding door, so did my brother and they weren't strangers to my house.

Whenever someone tells me they like the dim sum at Foo Ping, I put them into a Foo Ping dim sum lovers box. I've only been there once and it was enough. Nearly all their dim sum were deep-fried and most of their items such as siu mai seemed factory-made (I know somebody who gets them from the same supplier in Kolombong) and the golden test, the ha gow, failed miserably. The ha gow skin was mushy, the prawns were powdery and minced and mushy, and that made me sulk all the way home (at my age, you shouldn't eat anything not worth eating).

Forget about hotel dim sum. Dim sum without pork is like curry without spices. So, as far as I know, WK Rest. has the best dim sum in town. For now. Although the dimsum is not served in a steaming trolley, which I prefer for that nostalgic traditional feel, your orders will arrive piping hot and freshly made. Another thing I love is that they serve mustard sauce which is a must for ha gow. Funny thing, mustard sauce with dim sum must be a Sabah thing because I don't find it anywhere else, not even Hong Kong. Oh, another nice thing is the dim sum size--not too big or small.

Medium-thick cheong fun (rice flour rolls), the way it should be, with prawns. The cha siu cheong fun was too thin.

Sui gow/dumplings in superior soup with (fake) sharks' fins. Despite all the hype, it didn't taste so special.

Siu mai. Good size, not too big or small.

Ha gow, my favorite. The prawns were crunchy and skin soft yet slightly chewy.

Prawns in tofu skin.

Steamed beef tripe. Soft yet chewy.

Tuaran mee, RM12 for a small portion that was more like medium.

Hum sui gok (salty water corners??) are deep-fried glutinous rice puffs with a meat filling. Light crisp outside, soft sticky inside, very tasty.

Steamed chicken feet with black beans. Fun to eat.

Oh I love this for the texture of the wrapper, which is supposedly bamboo pith although in Sichuan I read that it is a type of fungus.

Ah, steamed pork ribs with black beans. This always reminds me of my father, and his special treat for me whenever we go for dim sum. Because I was a skinny child, he'd always order "pai guet" (bones) for bony me, and me only, and my 4 other siblings could only look on...

All that, plus a few more baskets of dim sum, for RM73.10 for 4 people.

Frozen Tofu

Frozen tofu with pak choy (look, Eric, I caught the steam but it's not wispy)

I have this stupid fridge that sometimes freezes all my veggies and sometimes sweats all over my leftovers. Last week it decided to freeze everything, including the tofu that I had cut up for cooking mapo tofu. This is what frozen tofu looks like:


My Shanghainese MIL intentionally freezes her tofu. She calls it bing doefu/dong doefu, or frozen tofu and this is one way she cooks it, with dried shrimps and pak choy. I know most readers dislike veggie recipes and this is a humble dish that I never thought I'd blog about. But really, this is an authentic Shanghainese home-style dish so just in case you accidentally froze your tofu, you may like to know that you don't have to throw it out.

Pak Choy With Frozen Tofu
1/2 kg pak choy, cut into small pieces
2 T dried shrimps, washed
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2-3 pieces tofu*
1/2 t salt
1 pinch chicken stock powder
1/4 cup water (may not be required)
3 T oil

* Wash the tofu well, soak it in clean water for 10 minutes, then pour away the water. Put the tofu into a plastic bag or leave it in a bowl (cover it) and put into your icebox and let it freeze until solid. This will take a couple of hours so I usually leave it overnight. Take it out of the fridge an hour or two before you want to cook it, leaving it at room temp to thaw. Cut into longish pieces about 2 x 5 cm and lightly squeeze out half the water.

1. Heat oil in wok/frying pan, add the dried shrimps and garlic and fry in high heat until shrimps are brown. Add the pak choy, stir, then add the tofu, the salt and chicken stock powder. Cover and cook under medium heat to sweat the veg and tofu.

2. After 1 minute, increase the heat to high and stir-fry the veg n tofu. There should be some liquid now from the tofu and veg. If not, add about 1/4 cup. Stir-fry until the veg is quite soft. Season to taste.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Chinese Rice Wine Recipes II

Rice wine chicken with wheat flour thread noodles (mi suah)

Okay, here's two more ways to cook yellow rice wine. The most famous rice wine dish is of course, huang jiu ji or yellow wine chicken. Eaten by (Chinese) nursing mothers as a nutritious and fortifying soup for 30 days after childbirth, this soupy dish is easy to cook but the results depend on, obviously, how good the wine and the chicken are. Some yellow rice wine have a tarty taste, meaning the fermentation wasn't very complete or successful. Some wines are sweet but are too mild in flavor. I'm told that different batches of wine made by the same person differ in quality depending on many factors such as the type and amount of yeast used and type and water content of the glutinous rice. The superstitious older ladies will tell you that to avoid spoilage of their wine, ladies at a certain time of the month should not come near to their jars of fermenting wine. That sounds like one of my ex-colleague who explained that the reason he lost a tennis match was because he wore the wrong socks.

I prefer my rice wine chicken just the way it is named: just yellow rice wine and chicken (and ginger), nothing else. And no wimpy watered-down soup for me, I must have it nearly 100% wine or there's no point in eating it. I want not only taste, smell, but also the effect. Come to my house after we eat rice wine chicken and you'll find us very nice and enjoyable to be with.

Yellow Rice Wine Chicken
1 x 2kg chicken*
200g fresh ginger (400g or more if cooking for nursing moms)
1.5 litres (6 cups) yellow rice wine**
1 1/2 cups water
2 T sesame oil

*For best results, use home-reared chicken.
**This is about 2 full Carlsberg bottles and may seem a lot but most people go for the soup, so it's never enough.

1. Trim the chicken of any fat and thick skin. Chop into small pieces.

2. Heat up a pot, add the sesame oil and add the ginger. Fry in high heat until ginger is lightly browned, about 1 min.

3. Add the chicken and fry another 2 min, turning the pieces to fry evenly. Add 1 1/2 cups water and 2 cups wine, cover and let simmer 30 minutes or longer if using matured home-reared chicken, about 20 to 30 min if using ordinary chicken (not recommended). It really depends on how soft you like your chicken. You can stir it once in a while.

4. Add salt to your taste (I'd only put in 3/4 t) and add all the rest of the wine. Let soup boil 5 min, covered, and turn heat off to let the chicken steep in the wine. When ready to eat, heat soup up again.

For rice wine wheat flour thread noodles, the best thread noodles are from Sibu, Sarawak. Those Sibu noodles are homemade, fresh and extremely fine yet give a beautiful, smooth (not sticky) el dente bite. The commercial thread noodles are too thick and salty and have a stale flavor.

Can you see how fresh this chicken was? They look like the nearly-live frogs' legs in Precious Pea's latest post. This was made with my mom's neighbor's chicken. Home-reared and freshly slaughtered chicken cooked with the best yellow rice wine is delicious beyond words. The chicken in the bowl of mi suah below was 'corn-fed' chicken from a supplier but tasted nothing like mom's neighbor's. Getting a chicken from the old lady was like asking for her gold tooth so I guess I have to seriously consider rearing my own chickens.

Chicken, fried boiled egg, chinese mushroom, ginger and wheat thread noodles in yellow rice wine chicken soup.

Yellow Rice Wine Thread Noodles

1. Just cook as per yellow rice wine chicken soup but reduce the ginger and wine by half and make the volume of liquid up with chicken stock and add dried chinese mushrooms (soak to soften) alongwith the chicken. Adjust the taste with salt. Hard boil some eggs, shell and fry them in oil until golden all over.

2. Boil about 2-3 litres of water (if you use too little water, you'd have to dip the noodles into another tub of water to wash the starch off so make sure you use at least 2 litres and cook the noodles by individual portions), add a handful of wheat flour thread noodles (remember the noodles will soak up the soup and expand quite a bit so make sure the portion isn't too big) and use a pair of chopsticks to stir well so that the threads do not stick together. Let the noodles cook for about 30 to 40 seconds, scoop up, draining well, and put into a bowl. Place a fried egg on top, pour boiling hot rice wine chicken soup over and ENJOY!
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