Stir-fried Handmade Noodles with Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince

Stir-fried Handmade Noodles with Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince

Hello Everyone! I can’t believe that it’s already October – how did the months in quarantine fly by so fast? I felt like March was just last week! I hope everyone is staying safe at home, and only going out when necessary, for work or essentials. I still haven’t reported back to the office since our country declared enhanced community quarantine, and I hope that I won’t have to go back until this pandemic is under control.

That aside, I will continue sharing blue-inspired dishes for the month of October, and what better way than to kick things off with this recipe for Stir-fried Handmade Noodle with Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince. I initially drew my inspiration for this recipe by Blue Willow, a thematic bar and bistro located in Singapore that derives its inspiration from one of our favourite science-fiction movies of 2009 – Avatar.. Now, I haven’t been there myself, but when I was doing research earlier on this year to look for blue-inspired dishes, I came across Blue Willow’s Eywa Natural Blue Carbonara, where pasta dough is naturally coloured using butterfly pea flowers.

Chinese Handmade Noodles

My initial idea was to recreate this exactly as it is, a blue carbonara. As the months went by and drew closer to tackling this dish, paired with hours of research for new recipes (not necessarily just for this dish in particular), my idea shifted to making Chinese-style handmade noodles instead of pasta. To be honest, this was actually a recipe that I had initially planned for the third week of September, to serve with the Chinese Blue Tea Eggs (茶叶蛋) that I had also made earlier last month. However, I wasn’t happy with how the dish was put together, in terms of how I dressed the noodles. I didn’t want to share something that I wasn’t happy with, visually and taste wise, so it wasn’t until I did more research and tackled this dish once again towards the end of September – and finally something that I am happy to share with you guys!

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original recipe for Handmade Noodles over on The Woks of Life by Sarah, one of a family of four cooks. Also, check out the original recipe for Tofu and Mushroom Mince over on Scruff And Steph by Scruff.

The making of the noodles really tired me out for they were kneaded, rolled, and cut from scratch, and all by hand. If you have a mixer with a dough hook attachment, it’ll be a piece of cake! If not, you need a bit (lot) of elbow grease, and you’ll be making noodles the same way cooks have been making them in China for centuries.

PREP TIME 1 HOUR | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

Chinese Handmade Noodles Ingredients

For the handmade noodles

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp loose dried butterfly pea flowers
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Stir-fried Handmade Noodles with Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince Ingredients

For the spicy tofu & mushroom mince

  • 250g firm tofu, mashed
  • 1/2 cup dried sliced shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated finely minced
  • 1/2 cup dried wood ear mushroom, rehydrated and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, minced
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, julienned
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sweet soy sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the stir-fried noodles

  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • Spring onion stalks, white part only

To serve with

  • Chinese greens of choice
  • Spring onions, for garnishing

METHOD

  1. Handmade Noodles: Combine the dried butterfly pea flowers in a small saucepan together with the water and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat off and leave to steep for about 10-15 minutes. Discard the flowers and set aside to cool down completely.
  2. Add the all purpose flour to a large plate (or even directly onto your clean kitchen countertop). Create a well in the middle and bit by bit, pour the blue water into the flour, mixing with a pair of chopsticks, spatula, or even just your hand as you go. Once all the water is added, the dough should be in shaggy threads with little/no dry flour in the bowl.
  3. Begin pressing the dough together. Avoid the temptation to add additional water, as this will affect the texture of your noodles. If you find the dough is too dry and there’s still dry flour that’s hard to incorporate into the dough, drizzle just enough water until there’s no dry flour left. Knead the dough for about 15 minutes.
  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for about 30 minutes. During this time, it will continue to absorb moisture, and become more pliable and elastic.
  5. Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince: While the dough is resting, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium. Add in the ginger together with the red bird’s eye chillies and sauté until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Immediately add in the garlic, continuing to sauté until fragrant and slightly golden in colour before adding the onions. Cook until the onions have softened and begin to go translucent, a further 45 seconds.
  6. Add the mashed tofu, shiitake and wood ear mushrooms. Continue to stir and cook for 5 minutes and then add in the light and sweet soy sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and stir the tofu-mushroom mixture around for a further 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Set aside and cook your noodles.

Chinese Handmade Noodles

  1. Stir-fry Noodles: After the dough has rested, knead it a few more times to get any air bubbles out of it, about 2-3 minutes. Form into a ball and cut it in half.
  2. On a floured surface, roll one half of the dough into a thin sheet, about 2mm thick. Flour the surface of the sheet thoroughly, flip over, and thoroughly flour the other side. Once floured, fold the dough so you have 4 layers. Slice the noodles with a sharp knife to your desired thickness. As you’re cutting the noodles, gently separate them out with your hands and toss them in flour so they don’t stick.
  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness. Keep an eye on the noodles as they cook and taste them to determine when they’re cooked. There is a lot of variation depending on how thinly they were rolled and cut, so test in real time to determine when they’re done. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  4. Add sesame oil in a separate frying pan over high heat until smoking. Add the spring onion stalks together with the boiled noodles and fry for about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Transfer to individual serving dishes and top with the Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince. Garnish with spring onions and serve with Chinese Greens of your choice. Enjoy!

Stir-fried Handmade Noodles with Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince

You can also follow the recipe for Chinese Handmade Noodles and basically make anything and everything with them! These deliciously chewy, springy noodles can be served in soup or mixed with whatever tasty sauces and toppings you can dream up for a delicious meal. Here are just some key tips for success:

  • Use bread flour (high gluten flour): The way to get a good chew in your noodles is to develop the gluten in the dough. Using flour with high gluten content makes a big difference. That being said though, all purpose flour works fine too.
  • Don’t add too much water: The dough will look rather dry and lumpy at first, but do resist the temptation to add additional water. Too much water will make the noodles gummy rather than springy. You just have to have faith and give the flour enough time to absorb moisture through kneading.
  • Use lots of flour when rolling and cutting: The action of cutting the noodles with a knife will press the layers of dough together. To prevent them from sticking, be sure to thoroughly flour both sides of the dough before folding and cutting. This is another reason to avoid using too much water in the dough – to prevent it from sticking.
  • Be mindful of thickness: The noodles will expand when cooked, so whatever thickness you see when cutting the raw dough, the cooked noodles will be significantly thicker. Keep this in mind when rolling and cutting. You may want to roll the dough out thinner and cut the noodles thinner than you initially think.

Storage Tips:

  • Cooked Noodles: If you plan on reheating, you can slightly undercook the noodles (to al dente) to create a better texture once reheated. Store the noodles in an airtight container or a ziplock bag in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Frozen Dough: Let the frozen dough thaw in the fridge overnight. Transfer the refrigerated dough to room temperature and let it rest for 2 hours. The dough will become super soft and can be gently shaped, rested for another 10 minutes or so, and rolled. Follow the method stated above to cook.

Stir-fried Handmade Noodles with Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Congee with Minced Pork & Century Egg

Congee with Minced Pork & Century Egg

Hello Everyone! So continuing on with the idea of porridge from Tuesday’s post, I decided to whip up a classic congee dish. The origins of congee are unknown, but several historical accounts have shown that this dish was served during times of famine as a way to stretch the rice supply in order to feed more people. Despite that, congee is one of the traditional Chinese foods that has a history dating back to thousands of years in China. It is now a largely popular dish in many Asian countries and though it has many variations, its base is usually a thick porridge of rice that has been cooked in water or stock for a prolonged time. When it is eaten as a plain rice congee, you often eat it with other side dishes, but when additional ingredients such as meat and other flavourings are added, it can be a meal on its own. Depending on your cultural background, congee is eaten as a substitute for rice, but is known to be primarily eaten for breakfast or late supper. It is also considered suitable for young children or for those who are ill as it is a mild and easily digestible dish.

Now before I go on to the recipe, I thought I’d talk a little bit about what a century egg is. For those of you who don’t know, century egg (also know as a preserved egg), is a Chinese delicacy traditionally made by preserving duck, chicken, or quail eggs, in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks, or even months. Through this process, the yolk turns dark green to grey in colour, acquiring a creamy consistency and a strong flavour. On the other hand, the egg white becomes jelly-like and translucent, dark brown in colour, and salty in flavour. I know what you’re thinking, sounds disgusting right? I’ll be honest with you, it took me a while to be able to get over its looks and smell. I still don’t love it, but it’s definitely good with congee! To prepare these eggs for the congee, you simply just have to wash off the mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls that cover the egg. I recommend washing it outside as to not clog your sink with all the residue. Tap the eggs on a countertop until covered in cracks, and then peel the shell off.

Preserved Century Egg

As mentioned before, there are many variations in which you can have your congee; plain or dressed up with your favourite ingredients – it’s all up to you really! At breakfast/brunch buffets (that’s when I usually indulge in some yummy congee), you’re given a selection of toppings to accompany your plain congee. I usually go for the whole works which included century egg, fried cha kueh (deep fried dough), crispy fried shallots, spring onion, and some sesame oil.

Congee with Minced Pork & Century Egg Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 45-60 MINS | SERVES 6-8

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g lean minced pork
  • 2.5L homemade or store-bought chicken broth
  • 2 cups rice, uncooked*
  • 2-3 century eggs
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 shallots, sliced thinly into rings
  • 1 cha kueh**, sliced thinly
  • 1 small bunch spring onions, chopped
  • 1 thumb-szied ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Fish sauce, to taste
  • Ground salt and black pepper, to taste

*You can also start with cooked rice, adding chicken broth and adjusting the amount of liquid to achieve the desired consistency. Make sure that when the rice has swelled, mash it a bit to help it break down.

**Cha Kueh (You Cha Kueh) is a Chinese deep-fried dough that is chewy yet crispy; a delicious snack that is normally paired with coffee or tea in the mornings or afternoons. There is a certain level of skill and expertise needed to knead the dough to the right consistency, as well as deep-frying techniques, to make the perfect cha kueh. So, if you want, you can make your own cha kueh, or if it’s readily available in stores nearby, then you can just buy it already cooked. I guess croutons can also substitute if both are not an option for you, or you can leave this element out completely. I like to include it in my congee for an added texture of crunch.

METHOD

  1. Bring a large pot of the washed, uncooked  rice and chicken broth to a simmer over medium heat. Once it starts simmering, reduce the heat down to low. Stir occasionally to avoid the rice sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning. Simmer until the rice has softened, broken down, and the mixture is creamy with the consistency of a porridge, about 45 to 60 minutes. If you need to, add more chicken broth to adjust the consistency as it cooks.
  2. While the rice is cooking, you can move on to preparing the minced pork and shallots. In a medium-sized frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high and add the sliced shallots in. Cook, stirring continuously, until the shallots are golden and crispy; it should take about 5 minutes altogether. If you need to, adjust the heat so that they do not burn. Once done, transfer the shallots to a heatproof bowl.
  3. In the same pan with the oil, add in the slices of cha kueh and fry until golden and crispy, about a minute per side. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up the excess oils.
  4. In the same pan again with about a tablespoon of the oil, fry up the ginger slices until fragrant, then add in the garlic and sauté until golden and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes altogether. Add in the minced pork and season with a bit of salt and black pepper. Give it a good mix, breaking up the pork into small pieces as it cooks, and then leave it until cooked through and browned, about 8-10 minutes.
  5. When the porridge is ready, stir in the pork and season to taste with some fish sauce. Divide the porridge equally into individual-sized bowls and top with the century egg, fried cha kueh, crispy fried shallots, and spring onion. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Butter Prawns with Egg Floss

Butter Prawns with Egg Floss

Hello Everyone! Today’s recipe is one of my favourite dishes that I simply cannot resist whenever I see it available on the menu of any restaurant that I go to. To be perfectly honest, it’s not about the prawns (or sometimes chicken) that makes me crave for this dish, but for the yummy egg floss that accompanies the protein. The egg floss is buttery, crispy, and a touch salty. I’m not quite sure as to how to explain it’s flavour besides what I have just said because when you think about it, it’s just fried in butter and oil, and topped over the protein that’s stir-fried in all the other flavours. Nonetheless, I love it.

Butter Prawns with Egg Floss Ingredients

I’ve not seen this dish in Asian restaurants around Sydney, and I don’t particularly know why since it’s quite popular in Chinese restaurants here. I guess that sort of explains my cravings for them whenever I’m back in Brunei. Since I have a confused and inexplicable love for this dish, I thought I’d give it a go and make it at home. I’ve never made this dish before, and to be honest, I can’t get the egg floss as thin and as crispy without browning them too much, as those in the restaurants, but I think I’ve pretty much nailed the dish in terms of its taste.

Butter Prawns with Egg Floss Ingredients

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

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g prawns, shelled and deveined
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 sprigs curry leaves
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Ground salt and black pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Heat the butter and oil in a medium-sized frying pan or wok over medium-high. Season the beaten egg yolks with a bit of salt.
  2. Continuously swirl the oil quickly in one direction and then add the beaten egg yolks in slowly from a height. Continue swirling until the oil is foamy and the egg is crispy, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the heat and transfer the egg floss to a sieve to drain out any excess oils. Set aside.
  3. Heat a bit more oil in the same frying pan and sauté the chillies, curry leaves, and garlic together until fragrant.
  4. Add in the prawns and season with a bit of ground salt and black pepper. Toss and leave to cook, about 6-8 minutes.
  5. Once the prawns are cooked through, transfer to a serving dish and top with the egg floss.
  6. Serve immediately with steamed rice and enjoy!

Butter Prawns with Egg Floss

Butter Prawns with Egg Floss

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Devon Café (Devon by Night) - ENTRÉE: King Salmon Sashimi, Avocado, Jelly, Ikura, Chives

Devon Café (Devon by Night)

Hello Everyone! And a very Happy New Year to all! I trust everyone enjoyed celebrating in one way or another. I spent the whole day sitting out in the sun with friends as we waited for midnight to strike. Watching the fireworks display by the Harbour Bridge was an amazing experience, and also such a tiring day of waiting really.

Anyway, hopefully I can keep this going as long as I have visited enough places and have the time to write up my dining experience. I feel like it’s been a while since I did a review – well that’s because it has been a while indeed! So, starting this New Years, I will be uploading a review every Sunday on top of 2 recipes a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

So I’ve been to Devon Café a total of 3 times now this year; twice for brunch and once for their dinner service. The both times that I went for brunch I ordered the same dish, and so did the one other person I went with, so I thought doing a review just on the one dish from their brunch menu was a bit meh. I had the Eggs Blini by the way which you can probably already tell because I had it twice (within two weeks) was so good and also apparently was the most Instagrammed dish from their menu at the time.

Anyway, the last time I visited Devon Café was actually in August of this year. Yes, that means that the food that you see in this review may not even be on their menu anymore as I am aware that menus here in Australia tend to change depending on the season. Therefore, the food that you see here are from their winter menu, and I have not been back to know whether their menu is different for the now summer season.

Devon Café (Devon by Night) - ENTRÉE: Prawn and Scallop Wontons
ENTRÉE: Prawn and Scallop Wontons
Scallop and Prawn Ceviche, Crispy Wontons, Green Mango, Peanuts, Nahm Jim ($18.00)

When the waiter first came to our table with these, I actually thought he got our order mixed up. In my head I was like “these aren’t wontons are they?” I was actually hesitant to have him place the dish on our table and I think he could tell that I was confused. I asked “are these the wontons?” He assured me that they were, AND then I saw him carrying the other plate that had the wonton wrappers. Yes I know, not quite how I’ve known wontons to be served, but nonetheless these tasted amazing! I really loved the freshness of the prawn and scallop ceviche paired with the kick of spice from the nahm jim sauce. Not to mention the crispy wontons that added that extra crunch to the dish!

Devon Café (Devon by Night) - ENTRÉE: King Salmon Sashimi, Avocado, Jelly, Ikura, Chives
ENTRÉE: King Salmon Sashimi, Avocado, Jelly, Ikura, Chives ($15.00)

Enticingly fresh salmon. What more can I say? This dish was spot on for me!

Devon Café (Devon by Night) - MAIN: Chinese Egg Custard, Shiitake, Fungus, Yellow Needle Flower, Chinese Fried Bread and Perigord Black Truffle
MAIN: Chinese Egg Custard, Shiitake, Fungus, Yellow Needle Flower, Chinese Fried Bread and Perigord Black Truffle ($29.00)

This dish gave me some mixed feelings – well, now that I think of it, the flavour didn’t quite sit well with me even though I think my other friends enjoyed it. I found the mushroom taste to be a bit too overpowering for me, which was probably the main reason why I didn’t not enjoy this dish. Also, the Chinese Fried Bread was not at all crispy, at least not as crispy as the ones I’d get back home. Their bread also didn’t look that fresh.

Devon Café (Devon by Night) - MAIN: Aunty Yulia's Short Ribs
MAIN: Aunty Yulia’s Short Ribs
Slow Cooked in Indonesian Sweet Soy with Spicy Tomato and Basil Relish ($28.00)

This was probably the highlight of all dishes. The short ribs were cooked to perfection; falling off the bone tender and packed with that delicious kecap manis flavour. The relish was a nice refreshing touch to the palette and that him tot spice really gave it that kick it needed. I highly recommend this dish if it’s still on their menu!

Devon Café (Devon by Night) - DESSERT: Matcha Fondant (Green Tea Molten Lava Cake)
DESSERT: Matcha Fondant (Green Tea Molten Lava Cake)
with Vanilla-bean Ice Cream, Honey Dew Balls and Pistachio Crumb ($13.00)

This dessert I believe is actually one of the main reasons why I wanted to go to Devon by Night. I saw it all over Instagram and I said to myself that I NEEDED to go here just to be able to get my hands on this dessert. The last time I had a green tea molten lava cake was 2 or 3 years ago at Tokkuri. That I loved, but I think now THIS I love more! The perfect consistency and paired with other flavours and textures that really enhanced the dish. The lava was thick and rich – just absolute yum! A definite must try!

Devon Café (Devon by Night) - DESSERT: Fried Ice Cream Bao with Dark Chocolate Sauce
DESSERT: Fried Ice Cream Bao with Dark Chocolate Sauce ($7.00)

This was the day that I broke my fried ice cream virginity as well – and I am glad that I lost it to Devon’s Fried Ice Cream Bao! Such a clever and innovative way of fusion cooking; serving fried ice cream in a bao. The only let down with this was that they served it with a dark chocolate sauce – don’t get me wrong, the sauce was perfection, but I was expecting a kaya (coconut jam) sauce instead, as from what I’ve seen all over Instagram. I seriously believe that it would’ve tasted a hundred times better! I’m probably being biased here since I’m not a huge fan of chocolate, but KAYA?! My fellow kaya-loving friends/followers will be able to imagine magic happening in their mouth just thinking about this flavour combination.

Devon Café is quite a popular breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner spot to both the locals and the tourists. So if and when you get the chance to Sydney, or are currently residing in Sydney, this should be in your places to eat in Sydney list. A MUST! They’ve recently opened a new branch in Waterloo on Danks St. which I was able to visit with two other friends for a nice brunch just this week actually. Unless their menu has changed at the original Devon Café, their menu is quite different so I will be doing a review on them too! Soon I hope!

Devon Café
76 Devonshire Street
Surry Hills, New South Wales
Australia, 2043

– Ally xx