Yu Xiang Qie Zi (Spicy Sichuan Eggplant Stir-fry)

Yu Xiang Qie Zi (Spicy Sichuan Eggplant Stir-fry)

Hello Everyone! Back in May of last year, a foodie friend of mine and I started hosting open food collaborations on Instagram under the Foodies United PH group that we co-admin. Most of the food that I featured for the collaborations didn’t end up here on my blog; the reason being was that it didn’t fit with the theme. This is also part of the reason why I decided not to go with a theme for my blog for this year.

International Hot & Spicy Food Day Collaboration by Foodies United PH

This post was supposed to go up on Sunday, but I was having issues with WordPress at that time. Anyway, on Sunday 16 January 2022, we hosted a collaboration for International Hot & Spicy Food Day. I love spicy food, and I would say that my spice tolerance is above average. When I was brainstorming a dish for this collaboration, I had a faint memory of an eggplant dish that I had way back when I was still studying in Australia. I remember it being a spicy dish that I absolutely loved, but unfortunately could not remember what the dish was. So after some research, I think the closest to my vivid memory of the dish is Yu Xiang Qie Zi, or in English, Sichuan Eggplant, which is the dish that I am featuring to celebrate International Hot & Spicy Food Day.

Before we begin, here’s a fun fact: Yu Xiang literally translates to ‘fish-fragrant’ while Qie Zi means ‘eggplant’. Despite the literal translation, this dish does not actually have any fish in it. The term is actually a style of cooking for a particular Sichuan fish dish. Since this eggplant dish uses the same aromatics, sauce, and style of cooking, it was named Yu Xiang, preceding the Qie Zi.

Yu Xiang Qie Zi (Spicy Sichuan Eggplant Stir-fry)

Yu Xiang Qie Zi is essentially a Sichuan chilli garlic eggplant stir-fry, and can be cooked with or with minced pork. The addition of minced pork is to add more flavour to the dish, but you can completely leave this out to make this a vegetarian/vegan friendly dish. I wanted to add mince though for texture to contrast the eggplants. So I decided to try out Veega’s Meat-free Giniling (in English, mince) in place for the minced pork. I’ve been seeing this product all over social media for the past year and have been wanting to try it out, but to my surprise though, their meat-free giniling actually contains egg whites. I’m not sure if their other products also include egg (or derivatives) in them.

I checked to see if they are marketing their brand as vegan, which thankfully they aren’t, but did state they are a vegetarian line, which they should actually properly label as ovo-vegetarian (a person who does not eat meat or dairy products but does eat eggs and egg-derived ingredients) in my opinion. I did also see that they’ve started a vegan line with no egg or dairy in them – so this is something I look forward to trying as well!

Yu Xiang Qie Zi is a quick and easy dish that you can be put together with minimal effort in under 30 minutes, which makes it perfect for a weeknight lunch or dinner.

Yu Xiang Qie Zi (Spicy Sichuan Eggplant Stir-fry) Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 5-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 long eggplants, halved and then cut into long strips
  • 1 tsp salt, for soaking
  • Cornstarch, for cooking
  • Oil, for frying
  • 200g Veega meat-free giniling (mince)
  • 1 tbsp doubanjiang (chilli bean paste)
  • 3 red chillies, minced
  • 2 dried red chillies, chopped
  • 3 tsp grated ginger
  • Spring onion (white part), chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced

For the sauce

  • 1/3 cup water (or veggie stock)
  • 4 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp black vinegar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground
  • 1/2 tsp salt

To garnish

  • Red chillies, chopped
  • Spring onion (green part), chopped

METHOD

  1. Sauce: Add all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.
  2. Eggplant: Soak the eggplant slices in salted water for about 15 minutes. Once done, drain and pat dry.
  3. Evenly coat the individual eggplant slices in cornstarch and shallow fry in a preheated pan over high heat, until browned. Remove and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up any excess grease. Work in batches if needed. Set aside.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium and remove some of the oil, leaving behind about a tablespoon’s worth.
  5. Sichuan Eggplant: In the same pan, sauté the garlic, chillies, ginger, and white part of the spring onion until golden and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add the meat-free mince and continue to cook, stirring for about 2 to 3 minutes, before adding the chilli bean paste and cooking for a further 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Add the sauce mixture to the pan and cook until thickened. Turn the heat off.
  8. Immediately stir in the eggplant and then plate up. Garnish with the green part of the spring onion and extra chilli slices (optional). Serve with freshly steamed rice and enjoy!

Yu Xiang Qie Zi (Spicy Sichuan Eggplant Stir-fry)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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Mantou Sliders with Hoisin-glazed Fish & Soy-marinated Quail Eggs

Mantou Sliders with Hoisin-glazed Fish & Soy-marinated Quail Eggs

Hello Everyone! I’m back with another recipe that I created last year for the King Chef Challenge 2021 that I was invited to participate in by a foodie friend of mine who I met on Instagram. For the challenge, I decided to use King Chef’s mantou buns, Lee Kum Kee’s premium soy sauce and hoisin sauce, as well as Tabasco sauce from the kit provided to make these Mantou Sliders.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term sliders, it is essentially a mini version of a hamburger, but sometimes used to describe any small sandwich made with a slider roll. Sliders can be served as hors d’oeuvres, snacks, or even as a main.

The recipe has three main components to it: first you have the fried mantou buns. This gives them a golden and crispy exterior with a soft and pillow-y interior – the best way to enjoy a mantou bun in my opinion! Next you have a simple hoisin-glazed fish that is pan-grilled, with a sweet and slightly tangy flavour to it. Lastly, we have the soy-marinated quail eggs to add a salty-spicy flavour, and creamy texture to the overall slider. The other minor components include carrots and red onions pickled in a simple solution, a mix of tabasco sauce and mayonnaise, and some shredded green scallions for some freshness.

Mantou Sliders with Hoisin-glazed Fish & Soy-marinated Quail Eggs

Now you may be thinking, why did I need 12 quail eggs for just 3 sliders? Well, I didn’t just want to make 3 quail eggs so I decided to make them in a batch. You can have the rest of the eggs with ramen, plain rice, or make more sliders! For the purpose of the challenge, and to get as many recipes as I can with the provided products, I had to use the mantou buns sparsely. I can’t remember how many buns there were in the pack I was given, but I did use them for 4 out of the 6 recipes I created for the challenge, and of course, had to keep some on reserve incase I mucked up a recipe, which actually did happen, so thank goodness for my advanced thinking!

Before I move on to the recipe, I just want to add that though boiling quail eggs may seem like a walk in the park, it’s so much more technical than it appears. To get the perfect soft boiled quail egg, you need to get the timing right for its size. According to Pants Down Aprons On, you need exactly 2 minutes and 20 seconds for quail eggs that weigh 12 grams each. The cooking time for soft boiled quail eggs will differ depending on the size. In addition, make sure that all the eggs go into the pot of boiling water at the same time. Check out the write up for a detailed know-how on making the perfect soft boiled quail egg.

PREP TIME 15 MINS* | COOKING TIME 10 MINS | SERVES 3

INGREDIENTS

Soy-marinated Quail Eggs Ingredients

For the quail eggs

  • 12 quail eggs
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup Lee Kum Kee’s premium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1-2 red chillies, chopped
  • Scallions, chopped
  • Sesame seeds, toasted

Mantou Sliders with Hoisin-glazed Fish & Soy-marinated Quail Eggs Ingredients

  • 3 pcs King Chef’s mantou buns, fried
  • Oil for frying

For the fish

  • Tilapia fillets
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Sesame oil

To garnish

  • Pickled carrots
  • Pickled onions
  • Scallions (green part), shredded
  • Mayonnaise and Tabasco sauce mixture

METHOD

*Prepare your soy-marinated quail eggs in advance (4 to 6 hours before, or overnight).

  1. Soy-marinated Quail Eggs: In a small sauce pot, heat the water, Lee Kum Kee’s premium soy sauce, and rice vinegar until simmering. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool down.
  2. Meanwhile, bring another small pot of water to a boil. Carefully place the quail eggs onto a slotted spoon and gently lower them into the boiling water. Cook for exactly 2 minutes and 20 seconds. Once done, remove and place into a prepared ice bath before peeling.
  3. Combine the soy sauce mixture and the peeled quail eggs in a small bowl. Mix the chopped chillies, scallion, and toasted sesame seeds, into the marinade.
  4. Place a paper towel on top to submerge the quail eggs into the marinade. Set aside in the fridge for at least 4 to 6 hours or ideally overnight for maximum flavour absorption.
  5. Hoisin-glazed Fish: Combine Lee Kum Kee’s hoisin sauce, lemon juice, salt, and white pepper powder in a small bowl. Coat the tilapia fillets in the hoisin mixture and set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
  6. Heat a grill pan over medium high and grill the tilapia fillets for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  7. Assemble: Cut into the fried mantou buns vertically, about 3/4 of the way though. Smear some of the mayonnaise and Tabasco sauce mixture into the bun, and fill with the grilled fish and pickled vegetables.
  8. Top with some shredded scallions and top with half a soy-marinated quail egg. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Mantou Sliders with Hoisin-glazed Fish & Soy-marinated Quail Eggs

These sliders are completely customisable to your liking. You can marinate and cook your fish the way you like it, use other kinds of seafood or meat, or leave it out altogether if you want something vegetarian. You can also use fresh vegetables instead of pickled ones – whatever floats your boat!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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Mantou Bruschetta

Mantou Bruschetta

Hello Everyone! Wishing all my family, friends, followers, and passersby a Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year’s break to refresh, rejuvenate, and reflect asides from celebrating. I hope 2022 will be a better year for all of us.

For those who have been following my blog for a while now, you’ll all know that I always set a theme for the year. This year will be a little bit different. I won’t be setting a specific theme only because I have a backlog of recipes that I created last year but did not have a chance to post it on my blog. Rather than have it sit in my archives, I decided that I’ll spend the first few months of the year getting them up on the blog.

To kick off the new year, I will be sharing my recipes that I whipped up for the King Chef 2021 Challenge last year, starting with this non-traditional bruschetta recipe using mantou buns. We could create anything and everything as long as it featured any ingredient/product from Lee Kum Kee and King Chef, from the challenge kits provided.

Mantou Bruschetta

Like with many of my ideas, this Mantou Bruschetta came into mind while I was in the shower. For those who aren’t familiar with bruschetta, it is an Italian starter dish that consists of grilled bread that has been rubbed with garlic, and then topped with olive oil and salt. There are many variations for toppings, but the most popular and most known one outside of Italy is a mixture of basil, fresh tomato, garlic, onion, and mozzarella.

Traditionally, the best choice of bread for bruschetta is an Italian or French loaf – preferably a loaf of bread that has a thick crust and firm consistency. In fact, the dish was developed as a way of salvaging bread that was going stale. Though mantou buns don’t have either of those characteristics, I thought that I could use them as an option for this recipe. Now, As you can see in my photos, I may have pan-toasted them a little bit too much as they turned out to be darker in colour than I wanted them to be. It all worked out in the end in terms of flavour though; the browning gave the mantou bun slices an extra nutty flavour that complimented the sweetness of them.

Now that I got the King Chef product sorted out, I thought hard about what Lee Kum Kim product to incorporate from the challenge kit provided – between premium soy sauce or hoisin sauce. Since soy sauce is salty in taste, I decided to add this to the tomato topping for my bruschetta. So here’s my Chinese-Italian fusion of Mantou Bruschetta; it’s light and fresh, yet tangy and intense at the same time from the balsamic vinegar glaze. It is also sweet and nutty, making it the perfect antipasto to serve at your next dinner party!

Mantou Bruschetta Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR | COOKING TIME 5 MINS | SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

For the mantou bruschetta

  • 4-5 pcs King Chef’s mantou buns, cut into 1-inch thick slices
  • Olive oil
  • Salted butter (or margarine)

For the tomato topping

  • 4 small-sized tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • Handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Lee Kum Kee’s premium soy sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar glaze, to garnish

METHOD

  1. Tomato Topping: Add all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and mix until well combined. Set aside to chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
  2. Mantou Bruschetta: Melt butter with a little bit of olive oil in a small non-stick pan over medium heat. Toast each side of the slice until browned to your liking. Once done, remove from the pan. Work in batches if needed.
  3. Plate up by topping each toasted mantou slice with about a tablespoon of the tomato mixture. Drizzle with some balsamic vinegar glaze, and top each with a small basil leaf. Serve and enjoy immediately.

Mantou Bruschetta

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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Pad Krapow (Thai Basil Tofu)

Pad Krapow (Thai Basil Tofu)

Hello everyone! This will be the last recipe that I will be sharing for the year on our Flavours of Southeast Asia journey. I’ve had to cut our journey short as the holiday season syndrome took over; basically all I wanted to do was just relax and take twice as long to get the things I needed done, actually done – for example this post! I had it up and ready to go two weeks ago but I hadn’t gotten around to editing the video for this to upload on my TikTok account, not until just this afternoon *cheeky grin*. So yes, our Flavours of Southeast Asia journey for 2021 will be ending here in Thailand tonight. Maybe next year I’ll cover some Vietnamese dishes to make up for this.

Tonight’s recipe is actually something I’ve been wanting to share on the blog for a while after coming across a vegetarian/vegan-friendly version of it on Instagram several times. Pad Krapow is a dish that I have tried many times before, but with chicken or pork (this was way back when I used to eat meat), so when I came across a version of it using tofu to make it meat-free, I knew I had to try this out.

There are three main types of basil used in Thai cooking: Thai sweet basil (ใบโหระพา bai horapa), or just referred to as Thai basil, lemon basil (ใบแมงลัก bai maenglak), and holy basil (ใบกะเพรา bai kra prao). Unfortunately it can be challenging to find holy basil outside of Thailand. You can still make this recipe using other basil variants, just be weary that it won’t have the same vibrant peppery flavour that holy basil has to give this dish its authentic Thai flavour profile.

Pad Krapow (Thai Basil Tofu)

Pad Krapow is usually served with steamed rice, but if you want to make it a little fancier without the extra carbs, serve it in a lettuce leaf and top each with a fried quail egg instead. I’ve also seen versions of pad krapow as a spaghetti dish so feel free to get creative when serving this dish up!

Now, I can’t exactly make it 100% vegan because pad krapow isn’t what it is without a fried egg where the edges of the egg white are crispy and browned to give it an added nutty flavour, but the yolk is still runny and creamy. So here’s an ovo-vegetarian Pad Krapow for you!

Pad Krapow (Thai Basil Tofu) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 15 MINS | SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 dried red chilli, chopped
  • 1 stalk scallion (white part only), chopped
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sweet soy sauce

For the tofu

  • 500g firm tofu, mashed
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, chopped
  • 1 stalk scallion (white part only), chopped
  • 100g cremini mushrooms, diced
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch Thai basil leaves

To serve with

  • Crispy Thai basil leaves
  • Fried quail eggs
  • Lettuce leaves

METHOD

  1. Sauce: Add all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and mix well to combine. Set aside.
  2. Pad Krapow: Add a tablespoon of the oil into a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook the mashed tofu until dry. Remove from the pan.
  3. Add the remaining oil and the sauté the red onion, chilli, and scallion until fragrant, about 30 seconds, before adding the cremini mushrooms and cooking for a further 30 to 45 seconds.
  4. Add the mashed tofu back into the pan and mix to combine.
  5. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and add the sauce mixture to the tofu. Mix until well combined into the tofu, and cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the Thai basil leaves and mix it into the tofu, then remove from the heat.
  7. Add about a tablespoon or more to a piece of lettuce, then top with a fried quail egg and some crispy-fried Thai basil leaves.
  8. Plate up, serve immediately, and enjoy!

Pad Krapow (Thai Basil Tofu)

Pad Krapow (Thai Basil Tofu)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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Goong Ma Kham kab Yum Takrai (Crispy Tamarind Prawns with Spicy Lemongrass Salad)

Goong Ma Kham kab Yum Takrai (Crispy Tamarind Prawns with Spicy Lemongrass Salad)

Hello Everyone! We’re packing our bags and venturing to Thailand on our Flavours of Southeast Asia journey! I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this in one of my previous posts before when I last shared a Thai recipe; I have and aunt who is Thai and I remember when we all used to live back in Brunei, she would teach me how to make Thai dishes such as Som Tam, Tom Yum, Yum Woon Sen, and many more. I’ve also visited Thailand a couple of times and have been to many Thai restaurants in Brunei and Australia.

The dish that I will be making today isn’t actually something I have tried for myself before. I came across it in a Thai cookbook that I purchased when I was still living in Brunei. It was during a work event, where within it we had something called the ‘Thailand Grand Fair’. If I remember clearly, they hosted a Som Tam making competition and had a guest chef come over as a judge and to promote his very first cookbook.

The name of his cookbook was very familiar to me, and then I realised that it was also the name of a Thai restaurant that I used to go to when I was still studying in Australia. Such a small world when I found out that he is actually the owner of it! I had the chance to talk to him a couple of times and I mentioned that I had been to his restaurant a couple of times – I even brought my mom and my sisters to eat there when they visited for my graduation. He was very humble and thankful when I told him that the food was great.

Goong Ma Kham kab Yum Takrai (Crispy Tamarind Prawns with Spicy Lemongrass Salad)

I was browsing through his cookbook one day for inspiration beyond the Thai recipes that I knew how to cook, which are also published on my blog by the way. A recipe for Spicy Lemongrass Salad (Yum Takrai) stood out to me, so did another recipe for Prawns with Tamarind Sauce (Goong Ma Kham), and thus we have a marriage of Crispy Tamarind Prawns with Lemongrass Salad that’s loosely adapted from Sujet Saenkham’s cookbook titled Spice I Am.

According to Chef Sujet, you want to take the time in slicing the lemongrass as thinly as you can otherwise it won’t be all that pleasant to eat. The fragrant and citrusy flavour of the lemongrass pairs very well with the prawns, or with any other seafood as a matter of fact. The tamarind sauce provides a nice balance of sweet, salty, and sour that is absorbed into the flesh of the crispy prawns when topped with it. Put all three together and you’ve got a match made in heaven of flavours and textures! In Chef Sujet’s cookbook, he mentioned that you can also use fish such as red snapper to pair with the lemongrass salad and/or tamarind sauce. I loved this recipe so much with the prawns so I’m definitely going to try this again with fish!

Goong Ma Kham kab Yum Takrai (Crispy Tamarind Prawns with Spicy Lemongrass Salad) Ingredients

PREP TIME 25 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS | SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

For the tamarind sauce

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 dried red chilli, chopped
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup water

For the crispy prawns

  • 6 extra-large tiger prawn, peeled and deveined with tails intact
  • 4 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 4 tbsp rice flour
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

For the spicy lemongrass salad

  • 3-4 lemongrass stalks (white part only), finely sliced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, chopped
  • 1 bunch Thai basil leaves
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Juice of 1 lime or lemon

METHOD

  1. Tamarind Sauce: Heat the coconut oil in a small pan. Fry dried chillies, red chillies, and garlic together for about 15 to 20 seconds and then add in the onions. Continue to cook for another 15 to 20 seconds.
  2. Add the tamarind paste, followed by the fish sauce, salt, and coconut sugar. Mix and bring to a simmer.
  3. Once simmering, add the water and then bring it back up to a simmer. Remove from the heat and then set aside.
  4. Crispy Prawns: Combine the flours and season in a medium-sized bowl and mix to combine.
    Coat each prawn with the flour mixture and shallow fry for 3 minutes per side, over high heat.
    Once done, remove from the pan and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up the excess grease.
  5. Lemongrass Salad: Combine all the ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and toss to combine.
  6. Transfer the salad to a serving dish and top with the crispy prawns.
  7. If needed, you can reheat the tamarind sauce before spooning it over the prawns. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Goong Ma Kham kab Yum Takrai (Crispy Tamarind Prawns with Spicy Lemongrass Salad)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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Chai Tow Kway (Fried Carrot Cake)

Chai Tow Kway (Fried Carrot Cake)

Hello Everyone! I can’t believe that the year went by so quickly – it’s already the third day of the last month of the year! Before we dive into tonight’s post, I would just like to mention that 5 out of my 6 recipe entries for the month-long King Chef 2021 Challenge over on TikTok that I participated in, made it on the Top 20 list of weekly winners! This was also one of the reasons why I hadn’t been posting on my blog as I was focused and occupied in developing creative and unique recipes for the challenge. I think next year (month), I’ll share those recipes on the blog. In the meantime, you can head on over to my TikTok and watch my video entries for those dishes!

Moving forward, tonight, I will be sharing one last dish from Singapore before we fly off to our second last destination on our Flavours of Southeast Asia journey. The dish is known as Chai Tow Kway, or in English, Fried Carrot Cake. Yes, I can see the looks of confusion for those who don’t actually know this dish – because I had the same confusion when I first heard of it. I imagined an actual carrot cake being fried. Au contraire, despite its name, this Singaporean street food favourite doesn’t contain any carrot at all. It is actually made of white radish (daikon), which is first steamed, and then fried, giving it a crisp exterior while still soft and chewy in the center. The reason why it is called carrot cake is because the word for daikon, can also refer to a carrot because of a loose English from Hokkien translation.

Chai Tow Kway (Fried Carrot Cake)

To make this dish, white radish is grated and then steamed with rice flour and water. It is then cubed and tossed in a wok with eggs, preserved radish, and other seasonings. I opted to add thick sweet/dark soy sauce but you can leave this out. It is a much-loved local comfort food, not only in Singapore, but also in Malaysia, and can be consumed at various times of the day; it goes from being a breakfast dish, to a side dish, to a late-night supper dish.

PREP TIME 25 MINS* | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR | SERVES 2-3

*Allow for additional time to cool the steamed radish and to cool the steamed radish cake in the fridge overnight.

INGREDIENTS

Steamed Radish Cake Ingredients

For the radish cake

  • 600g white radish (daikon), shredded or grated
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 & 1/3 rice flour
  • 1/3 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 cup water

Chai Tow Kway (Fried Carrot Cake)

For the chai tow kway

  • Radish cake, fried
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 red chillies, minced
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 stalk scallion (light green and white part only), finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp salted (preserved) radish
  • 1 tsp sambal paste
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce (optional)
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • Blanched bean sprouts
  • Scallion (green part), shredded

METHOD

  1. Steamed Radish Cake: Combine the shredded radish with 3 tablespoons of water in a medium-sized stainless steel (or heat proof) bowl. Steam until the radish turns translucent, about 25 to 30 minutes on low heat. Once done, remove from the steamer and set aside to cool down.
  2. Add the flours, salt and, and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and mix thoroughly to combine, to get rid of any lumps.
  3. Add the cooled radish to the flour mixture and mix well to combine.
  4. Pour the radish flour mixture into a 8-in square cake tin and steam for 30 to 35 minutes over medium-high heat. Once done, remove from the steamer and set aside to completely cool down for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. This will allow the cake to firmly set.
  5. Once the cake is firm, remove from the cake tin and cut into smaller chunks.

Steamed Radish Cake

Steamed Radish Cake

  1. Chai Tow Kway: Add cooking oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Fry the radish cake (in batches if needed), until the edges are brown and crispy-looking. Remove from the pan and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.
  2. In the same pan, sauté the garlic and chillies until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onion and scallion, cooking until soft, before adding the salted radish. Cook for a further 45 to 60 seconds.
  3. Add the sambal paste, followed by the fish sauce, white pepper powder, and dark soy sauce (optional), mixing well to even coat the radish cake.
  4. Push the ingredients to one side of the pan. If your pan is feeling a little bit dry, and a bit more oil and add the eggs in. Stir to scramble and cook, about 30 seconds and then stir fry together with the other ingredients.
  5. With the heat off, add the blanched bean sprouts and shredded scallion. Toss to combine and the plate up.
  6. Top with extra bean sprouts, scallions, and red chillies. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Chai Tow Kway (Fried Carrot Cake)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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Singapore Fish Head Curry

Singapore Fish Head Curry

Hello Everyone! It’s been a while since my last post here on the blog; I’ve been super busy with work since I moved to a new department in the beginning of October, and doing some freelance work on top of that. I’ve also been focusing on creating sponsored content for Instagram and participating in a TikTok Challenge this past month. Now that things have slowed down just a little bit, I finally found the time to sit down and write this post/recipe (just hours before this is going live), to share with everyone!

We still have three more countries to venture through on our Flavours of Southeast Asia before the year ends, so the coming weeks will just be quick stopovers – and first, we’re taking a stroll through the many hawker centers in Singapore for their famous Fish Head Curry!

Singapore Fish Head Curry

The dish is actually of South Indian origins, but has been popularised in countries such as Malaysia and Singapore where it was introduced by the Indian migrants when they moved to the region. Thus, this dish is more commonly found at many Indian eateries across Malaysia and Singapore, served typically as a main to steamed rice.

Of course, there’s no problem in using the whole fish, which is what I did, as opposed to just using the head. The main reason why the fish head is much sought after when making a curry is because the meat found at the jaws, below the gills, and at the back of the neck is the sweetest and most delicate. It is also where it absorbs the flavours of the curry best. The important thing is to use fresh fish, whether sea bream, sea bass, snapper, tilapia, or any other white-fleshed fish, and to not overcook it.

I’ve had this dish many times before during my travels to Singapore and have made it a couple of times before when I was still living in Brunei. This is the first time I am making it again at home after a couple of years. The curry is thick, creamy, aromatic, tangy, and spicy; best served with vegetables such as okra and eggplant to soak up all the gravy goodness.

Note that there are some ingredients that I could not source locally for this dish, eg. brown mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, fresh galangal, and fish curry paste. The seeds I just left out, and used crushed galangal from a jar, and red curry paste instead.

Singapore Fish Head Curry Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 kg red snapper fish, sliced
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 15 pcs dried curry leaves
  • 3 pcs dried long red chillies
  • 3 tbsp red curry powder (or fish curry powder)
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 200 ml coconut milk (or more if you want it creamier)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water (or fish stock)
  • 1 large tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 bunch (5 pcs) okra, halved
  • 2 eggplants, halves lengthwise and then cut into 3 horizontally
  • Shredded scallion, to garnish

For the curry paste

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 3 pcs red bird’s eye chillies (more if you want it spicier, or vice versa)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (white part only), chopped
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1-inch sized ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1-inch sized turmeric, peeled and chopped
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp crushed galangal paste
  • 1/4 cup water

METHOD

  1. Curry Paste: Pound all the ingredients together for the curry paste, except the water, using a mortar and pestle, until a smooth paste is formed. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes of elbow grease. Mix the water with the paste and then set aside until ready to use. Alternatively, you can place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz them into a smooth paste.
  2. Fish Head Curry: Heat 2 tablespoons of cook oil in a heavy-based pan over high heat. Fry the eggplant slices until browned and tender. Once done, set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat down to medium, and in the same pan toast the cumin seeds, curry leaves, and dried chillies. Cook until fragrant and be careful to not burn them.
  4. Add the curry paste and curry powder, cooking and stirring continuously for about 4 to 5 minutes or until the paste darkens in colour and the oils start to separate.
  5. Add the tamarind paste, coconut sugar, coconut milk, and season with salt. Stir and bring the mixture to a simmer before adding the water and tomato wedges. Bring to a boil.
  6. Once boiling, add the fish head (and fish slices) to the curry mixture. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 – 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. In the last minute or so, add the okra to the curry and cook until tender.
  7. Transfer the fish head curry to a serving dish, top with the fried eggplant, and garnish with some shredded scallions. Serve immediately with steamed rice and enjoy!

Singapore Fish Head Curry

Singapore Fish Head Curry

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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Tohu Thoke (Chickpea Tofu Salad)

Tohu Thoke (Chickpea Tofu Salad)

Hello Everyone! This will be the last Burmese recipe that I will be sharing on our Flavours of Southeast Asia journey throughMyanmar for the month of September. Next week we’ll be heading off to one of the remaining three Southeast Asian countries I have yet to cover for the year.

The recipe that I will be sharing tonight is a build on of the recipe for Tohu (Burmese Chickpea Tofu) that I shared last week. We’ll be turning the tohu into a delicious salad known as Tohu Thoke, or in English, Chickpea Tofu Salad. Ever since coming across this recipe, I’ve already made this salad three times this month – yes it’s THAT addicting! Not only does it taste oh-so good, it’s also very easy to put together which makes it ideal for a quick weeknight dinner, provided that you’ve made the chickpea tofu in batches and ahead of time. This salad is also perfect for vegetarians, vegans, and Meatless Mondays.

Tohu Thoke (Chickpea Tofu Salad)

Tohu Thoke is bright, tangy, refreshing, and meant to be eaten cold, therefore perfect for those hot summer days. By mixing both fresh and fried tohu together, you get creamy, silky-smooth, and crispy textures altogether. If you don’t fancy frying, then feel free to skip it. It’s nevertheless delicious with or without the fried aspect or not. Also, the triangle shape for the fried tofu pieces isn’t necessary; cut them into whatever shape you want; same goes for the fresh ones too.

The great thing about this salad is that it gives you the chance to get creative with it. As long as you keep the sour flavours of the tamarind dressing and balance with a hint of sweetness and heat (which is essential to Burmese cuisine), you can bulk up the salad with other vegetables or leafy greens to make it more substantial and a full meal on its own.

Tohu Thoke (Chickpea Tofu Salad) Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the tamarind dressing

  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 stalk scallion (white part), thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 4 tsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper powder

For the tohu thoke

  • 1 recipe for Tohu (Burmese Chickpea Tofu), fresh and fried pieces
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 red chilli, finely minced
  • Handful of bean sprouts, blanched
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil

To garnish

  • Crispy shallots or garlic
  • Roasted peanuts, crushed
  • Scallions (green part), thinly sliced

METHOD

  1. Dressing: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Mix and adjust the dressing to your taste. Set aside. Extra dressing can keep for up to 1 month in the refrigerator.
  2. Tohu Thoke: Add all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add the tamarind dressing, about a quarter cup for this recipe, and gently toss everything together.
  3. Transfer to a serving plate and top with the garnishes. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Tohu Thoke (Chickpea Tofu Salad)

Tohu Thoke (Chickpea Tofu Salad)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Tohu (Burmese Chickpea Tofu)

Tohu (Burmese Chickpea Tofu)

Hello Everyone! This is probably one of the best food discoveries that I have come across from the many years of researching for Amcarmen’s Kitchen and experimenting in the kitchen.

Tohu, or in English, Burmese Tofu, is made using chickpea (besan) flour, mixed with water, a little salt, and if you want, turmeric powder, mainly to give it a more vibrant yellow colour. The mixture is then heated and stirred constantly, until it reaches a thick and creamy consistency. It is then transferred into a tray and allowed to set.

The end result is matte yellow in colour, jelly-like but firm in consistency, therefore it does not crumble when cut or sliced. It is basically the best of both worlds between silken tofu and egg tofu – you get the silkiness of the silken tofu and firmness from the egg tofu in this Burmese tofu. The best part? It is dairy, egg, and soy-free; perfect for vegetarians, vegan, and/or anyone with soy allergies!

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Additionally, chickpea flour is high in protein, fiber, and micronutrients, while being low in carbohydrates and calories. Half a cup of chickpea flour contains an impressive 11 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and nutrients like folate, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Chickpea flour is also heart-healthy, making this Burmese tofu oh-so healthy!

In Myanmar, the tofu can be eaten fresh in a salad, deep fried to make tofu fritters, or sliced very thinly and dried to make crackers for deep frying. It is also used in curries as well for added protein if meat or poultry is unaffordable (especially amongst the poorer population).

I still have some besan flour on hand after making this recipe, so I can definitely say that I will be making more of these delicious Burmese tofu and experimenting them in certain dishes outside of Burmese cuisine!

Tohu (Burmese Chickpea Tofu)

PREP TIME 1 HOUR | COOKING TIME 8 MINS | SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup chickpea flour (also known as garbanzo bean flour or besan flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric (optional)
  • 3 cups water, divided
  • Oil

METHOD

  1. Lightly grease an 8-in x 8-in baking dish with a bit of neutral flavoured oil.
  2. Add the chickpea flour in a medium-sized mixing bowl together with the salt and, if using, the ground turmeric as well. Whisk to combine.
  3. Add 1 and a half cups of water to the flour and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add the remaining 1 and a half cups of water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
  5. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-high and slowly pour the chickpea flour mixture into the boiling water while continuing to whisk.
  6. Whisk over the heat until the mixture becomes really thick and glossy. This should take about 8 minutes in total.
  7. Once done, immediately pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish and leave it to cool down at room temperature for at least an hour. The longer you let it sit, the more water will drain out of the tofu and therefore firmer in texture.
  8. Cut into your desired shapes and sizes, depending on how you will use it. Enjoy it as it is, deep fried, or use it as a source of protein for other dishes.

Tohu (Burmese Chickpea Tofu)

Stay tuned next week to see what Burmese dish I will make with this Burmese Tofu!

Note: You can store the tofu in an airtight container and in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Tohu (Burmese Chickpea Tofu)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Htamin Gyaw (Burmese-style Fried Rice)

Htamin Gyaw (Burmese-style Fried Rice)

Hello Everyone! It’s time to pack up our bags and head onto our next destination on our Flavours of Southeast Asia – to Myanmar! Myanmar (Burmese) cuisine is known for the simplicity of its recipes. Essentially, the building blocks to most dishes use shallots, turmeric, and peanut oil. Other ingredients to give a dish more complexity include ginger, garlic, tomatoes, lime, chillies, dried shrimp, and fish sauce.

Out of all the Southeast Asian cuisines, I would have to say that, alongside Cambodia and East Timor, Myanmar too is a cuisine that I am most unfamiliar with. Nevertheless, I’m up for the challenge to share with you some dishes that I have come across during my research.

Htamin Gyaw (Burmese-style Fried Rice)

Htamin Gyaw (Burmese-style Fried Rice)

Htamin Gyaw (don’t ask me how to pronounce it *cheeky grin*), or in English, Fried Rice with Boiled Peas is the traditional Burmese recipe for fried rice. Like with every cuisine, adaptations of this fried rice can be found in different households. A popular plain version consists of rice, boiled peas, onions, garlic, and dark soy sauce. The dish is a common breakfast meal in Myanmar, but it can also be served for lunch and/or dinner. The rice can optionally be topped with a fried egg and served with any leftovers you may have lying around from a meal the night before.

The version that I will be making to share with everyone tonight consists of fried red onions in place of shallots, peas, chillies, and turmeric. I also served it with a side of blanched bok choy, sunny side up egg, and drizzled some sriracha sauce on top. If you want to keep this meal vegetarian or vegan-friendly, then feel free to omit the egg.

Htamin Gyaw (Burmese-style Fried Rice) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 5-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups day old cooked rice
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 stalk spring onion (white and light green parts only), finely sliced
  • 1 long green chilli, sliced
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
  • Fried red onions
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Blanched bok choy
  • Fresh red and green chillies
  • Sunny side up egg
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Lemon or lime wedges

METHOD

  1. Add the sesame oil into a large pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until cooked through, about 3 minutes before adding the sliced spring onion and chillies. Cook for a further 30 seconds and then add in the turmeric powder.
  2. Add the cooked rice and mix well, breaking up any remaining clumps of rice. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste and cook for a further 5 minutes making sure to coat every single grain of rice in the turmeric evenly.
  3. Add the green peas along with the fried red onions and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust as you go.
  4. Once done, transfer the rice to individual serving bowls and serve with blanched bok choy, a sunny side up egg, and a lemon or lime wedge on the side. Top with extra chillies and fried red onion if you wish, and a drizzle of sriracha sauce. Enjoy!
  5. In Myanmar, this dish would also often be served with a condiment known as ngapi kyaw, which is fried fish paste with shredded fish flakes. Of course, if you want to keep the dish vegetarian/vegan-friendly, you can leave this out. Fresh cucumber strips mixed with chopped onions, green chillies, and vinegar can also be served with this fried rice.

Htamin Gyaw (Burmese-style Fried Rice)

Htamin Gyaw (Burmese-style Fried Rice)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com