Friday, October 26, 2007

Hash-Brown Turkey

First of all, let's take a moment to welcome the newest member of the family: Jake Toshiro Whitehead.

Mina just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, and while I was visiting her in Seattle, I came across a Rachel Ray magazine. Personally, I'm am not a fan of Rachael Ray. I can't stand when she says "EVOO" or "Yummo"! I don't think she's a great cook either. So, imagine my surprise when I saw the recipe for "Hash-Brown Turkey." It sounded really good! I tried it tonight and it turned out really delicious and easy-to-make.

One 16-ounce bag frozen hash browns, thawed
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 scallions, finely chopped
3 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 turkey cutlets (about 1 1/2 pounds total), pounded thin

1. In a wide, shallow bowl, toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon flour, then with the parmesan and scallions; season with salt. Place the eggs in another wide, shallow bowl and beat lightly. Place the remaining 1/2 cup flour in another shallow bowl and season with salt.
2. In a large, heavy nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Working with 1 piece at a time, coat the turkey cutlets with flour, shaking off the excess, then dip in the eggs and transfer to the potato mixture, pressing potato onto each side.
3. Cook the cutlets in the skillet with more oil as needed, turning once, until the potato coating is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to parchment paper or paper towels to drain.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Seafood Village

Last week, I made plans with an old friend to meet up for lunch. "I know a great seafood place in Montery Park," I said. "I know a great seafood place in Montery Park, too! It's called Seafood Village," she replied. Turns out, it's the same place I had in mind, except, I knew the restaurant as Bi Feng Tang. The lunch menu is super economical. You can get a whole fried fish for only $5.95. Unfortunately, my friend had to cancel, but I just could not get my head out of Seafood Village. So, I bribed my cousin with a bottle of wine to go with me.

Their specialty is garlic crab at $5.99 per pound.

They're also famous for their chicken. It's the closest thing to Hainanese chicken that I've tasted. Cold, succulent, juicy chicken.

This is our attempt to have some "greens" in our diet. Don't think it's very healthy though =)

My cousin was craving shrimp and eggs. I've never had this before but it's really tasty. The eggs are slightly undercooked, which is a nice contrast to the crisp prawns.


Claypot Rice without the Claypot

I can't remember the last time I had claypot rice. But what I do remember is the crispy rice bits at the bottom, the sweet chinese sausage, and aromatic dark soy sauce. Since I had all the ingredients, I decided to make claypot chicken rice myself. I found the "cheat" version from rasamalaysia. The only difference is that I didn't marinate my chicken in cornstarch (ran out)!

Overall, it's an easy, fast, satisfying dinner.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Mee Pok Test #1

I'm on the hunt for the most authentic mee pok sauce. This is experiment No. 1:

3 Tablespoons Pork Lard Oil
3 Tablespoons Roast Char Siew Sauce
1 Teaspoon Black Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Fish Sauce
2 Tablespoons light Soy Sauce

I went to Ranch 99 on Saturday and casually asked the butcher for pork fat. He gave me 5 pieces for 16 cents! So, I cut 1 slice to small bits and fry it until the oil is rendered and the bits are crispy.

Verdict: This sauce is more wanton mee than mee pok. It's on the sweeter side. I'm looking for something more spicy and tangy.

The search continues.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Victory at Last!

What's my favorite food in the entire world? Simple: Hainanese chicken rice. I ate it every day in secondary school, and miss it every day I'm away from Singapore. Chicken rice alone is enough motivation for me to hop on an 18-hour flight back home. And every time someone recommends a good chicken rice place in LA, I get my hopes up. But I'm always disappointed. The chicken is usually too hot (should be room temperature), over cooked (should be slightly undercooked), and oily.

I came across Chubby Hubby's chicken rice post a few months ago. I had no idea chicken rice is that complicated! Turns out, to achieve the juicy texture, you need to cook it slowly in hot water (with the stove turned off). I tried Chubby Hubby's recipe and it was a success! The chicken was cooked to perfection.

The rice is just chicken fat, minced ginger, minced garlic and the chicken stock from cooking the chicken.

And the soup is simply the stock seasoned with salt and some soy sauce (though I threw in some celery for body).

The chopping of the whole chicken proved to be difficult, but overall, it was AMAZING! I am so proud of myself.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Yong Tau Foo

Last Saturday, I made the infamous Hakka dish -- Yong Tau Foo for a dinner party. Our friends just remodeled their kitchen and invited us to use it which I happily agreed to. They have my dream kitchen -- plus they recently made a delicious meal for us a few weeks back. :) We like to get together and try out new dishes. Since they've never had Yong Tau Foo and I've been craving for it, I thought it would be a great dish for a party of 6.

Now, I learned how to make this dish from my Grandma who does not use any sort of measuring system. So seasoning is just based on what I remembered. I served the dish with a side of dry egg noodles w/ ground pork and baby bok choy. I just cooked the egg nooldes and bok choy in boiled water and seasoned with black bean sauce, sesame oil and soy sauce. And I did a quick stir-fry of the ground pork with minced garlic, salt and pepper.

Yong Tau Foo Ingredients
- 2 Chinese Eggplants (Sliced about 1.5 inch diagonally and cut out a shallow hole in the middle)
- 1 pack of Tau Pok (Puffy Fried Tofu)
- 1 pack of Firm Tofu (cut into rectangular pieces about 1.5 inch)
- 1 pack of Firm fried Tofu
- 1 pack of bean curd skin (soften the dried beancurd with warm water)
- Cornstarch water (a couple of tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with water)
- 6 Cups of water (or chicken stock)
- 1 cube of boulion

- 1 pound of fish paste
- 1 pound of ground pork
- 2 stalks of green onions
- 1 tbsp of fish sauce (or 1 tsp salt)
- Pepper

Cut a shallow hole in all the tofu pieces for the fillings. Mix the fillings well with the seasoning. Start stuffing the tofu and eggplant pieces with the filling and dab the cornstarch mixture on the meat. This will help keep the meat on the tofu pieces. Put about a spoonful of fillings onto the beancurd sheet and wrap it like you do with spring rolls. Once the fillings have been stuffed, heat up about 3 tbsp of oil in the wok. Brown each of the pieces, meat side down and set aside. For the beancurd sking pieces, you want to fry them to crispy brown.

In a different pot, add 6 cups of water, 1 cube of Fish Boulion (or you can use 6 cups of chicken stock). When it comes to boil, add the tofu and eggplant pieces into the pot. Simmer for another 10 - 15 minutes. Season the soup with salt or fish sauce and adjust to your taste. I like to keep the broth light since everything else is fried.

- Mina

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Yorker

There's a really interesting article in this week's New Yorker about Singaporean foodies. The author wrote that, "Culinary, [Singaporeans] are the most homesick people I have ever met." Touché.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Nasi Lemak

I had some leftover chicken wings and pandan leaves in the freezer, so I decided to make some nasi lemak. The last time I made nasi lemak was 3 years ago and I used so much coconut milk that the rice turned out very rich. This time, I just used half coconut milk and half water. And, of course, a pandan leave (tied in a knot).

The chicken was deep fried, and I also made some stir-fried green beans with sambal nonya sauce from Prima Taste. The only thing missing was a fried egg, which I ran out.

Overall, a simple solution to an empty fridge.


Black Alaskan Cod

I have never cooked cod before. Heck, I've never even bought cod coz I'm so scared of the price tag. My co-workers cleaned out the kitchen freezer last Friday and I could not believe my luck with this luxurious find: four thick pieces of delicious black cod. I decided to go simple because I love the flavor of cod and did not want to ruin it with too much tinkering. So, I turn to my favorite blogger, rasamalaysia, for her Nobu-inspired cod with miso. I'm constantly surprised at how simple Nobu's recipes are, yet the flavors are always so complex.

1/4 cup mirin
4 tablespoons white miso
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup sake

Rasamalaysia recommends marinating for 24 hours, but I only did it for 2 hours.

Pan sear the fish, skin-side down first. Then transfer it into a pre-heated oven (400 degrees F). Bake for 15 mins. I saved some of the marinade for the sauce.

It's so easy and delicious.



Friday, August 31, 2007

Diver Scallops

My new best friend at work is Roberta. She often shares her bounty of leftovers. Last night, she packed 6 plump, juicy diver scallops in ice for me. I made a simple seared scallops with spicy mayo (thanks rasamalaysia) and a side of angel hair pasta. It was delicious.


Fair Food

Every year, my friends and I make a pilgrimage to the Orange County Fair. The main attraction? The fried food of course--fried oreos, fried potatoes, fried avocados, fried tomatoes, fried coke (yes, coke!). Good thing we only go to the fair once a year.

Famous Australian Fried Potatoes

Fried Avocado and Tomatoes

Oh, and the best part? Winning $100 on scratchers!


Monday, July 30, 2007

Vietnamese Dinner

Much apology! It's been awhile since I've updated the blog. All I can say is that it's been a busy busy July. We've had visitors and weddings to attend. My mother-in-law, her sister and 2 nephews were in town for a week. It's been a lovely visit although my husband was a little stressed out. We had a wonderful home-cooked Vietnamese dinner with his uncle and his uncle's family who live actually not far from us.

I don't know the names of the dishes but there were grilled marinated pork meat and patty, served with rice noodles, fresh herbs and lettuce. There was also a jellyfish and prawn salad that was just so refreshing. While we were stuffed, I felt fairly good after dinner.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Chili Prawns

I have never been a big fan of Violet Oon, but I've been a recent convert. Trying out a new recipe is always a hit and miss (e.g. my failed attempt at otak). I remember seeing Violet Oon on Food Network years ago making Chili Prawns. I was skeptical at first, but decided to try it because I had all the ingredients she required (as opposed to other more complicated recipes). It actually turned out pretty darn good. I added some fishballs for more volume.

1 cup water
5 tablespoons tomato catsup
1 1/2 to 3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons corn flour
1 teaspoon pounded brown preserved soya beans or dark miso (optional)
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 pound large, whole prawns (unshelled)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
8 fresh red chiles, roughly chopped
1 egg
2 scallions, cut into finger lengths
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
1 small bunch cilantro, cut into 1-inch long pieces

Serving Suggestions: loaf of French bread

Make the Sauce: Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Make the Prawns: Cut down the backs of the prawns and remove the black intestinal vein. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok or shallow saucepan over high heat. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the chiles and stir-fry for another minute. Add the prawns and stir-fry until the shell turn slightly red, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sauce and stir-fry until the shells turn red.

Break the egg into the wok and, using a fork, streak the egg through the sauce (this is an important step, as the egg has to be in beautiful gold and white streaks). Simmer the sauce for a few seconds and remove from the heat. Stir in the scallions and lime juice.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Har (prawn) Mee

I was totally craving for Prawn Mee and remembered I have prawn shells that I've been saving in the freezer. So I made prawn and pork rib soup served with Beehoon.

~ Mina

Ingredients for the broth:
- 4 cups of water
- 1 quart bag of prawn shells (clean the prawn head)
- 4 Pork ribs
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp fish sauce

Other ingredients:
- Beehoon
- Cooked prawn
- You Choy or any other leafy vegetbales
- Fried onions

Heat water to boil. Add prawn shells and pork ribs. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 1 hour. Add salt and fish sauce for seasoning.

Blanch beehoon and vegetable. Put in the bowl and add prawns, pork ribs. Pour broth over the nooldes. Garnish with fried onions.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Thai Panang Curry

Last month my husband's company organized a cooking class at a local Thai restaurant they go to often. There about 20 of his co-workers and their wives eager to learn the secret to Thai cooking. We made Thai Panang Curry which turns out to be a lot easier than I expected. I've tried to make it at home twice since.

Here's my version with chicken breast, eggplants and carrots.

~ Mina

Panang Curry Ingredients:
1 Can of Coconut Milk
A couple of Kaifer Lime Leaves
Chicken tenders
2 Chinese Eggplants
2 Carrots
1 Can of Baby Corn
2 Tbsp of Red Curry Paste
2 Tbsp of Fish Sauce
2 Tbsp of Sugar
Basil leaves

- Cut the chicken, eggplants, carrots and baby corns into bite sized cubes
- Using medium heat, add in 1/2 can of head of the coconut milk and let it come to boil
- Add in 2-3 tbsp of curry paste and mix well
- Add chicken to the curry/coconut mixture and cook until the chicken is thoroughly cooked
- Add the carrots, eggplants and baby corn
- Add in the other 1/2 of the remainder of the coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water. Keep stirring
- Add 2 tbsp of fish sauce and sugar
- When the coconut milk thickens, add in the basil leaves and lime leaves
- Taste the curry. Add more fish sauce or sugar depending on your preference. If you want it spicier, just add chili pepper flakes.

I also made a side dish of vegetable with fried tofu.

A bunch of Tagu Choy
Fried Tofu
Minced garlic
1 tbsp of spicy Shrimp Paste

- Heat minced garlic and shrimp paste in the wok
- Add the Taguy Choy and fried tofu
- Cook until vegetable is done

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mushrooms Stroganoff

I was so thrilled when they gave away these beautiful mushrooms at work.

I did a quick search on, and found a simple Mushrooms Stroganoff dish. The creme fraiche and fresh parsley were freebies as well. Score! The only thing from my pantry was white wine and pasta.

1 tablespoon butter
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup nonfat sour cream
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 ounces linguine, freshly cooked

Melt butter in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high-heat. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Add onion and sauté 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender and most liquid in pot evaporates, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add flour and stir 1 minute. Add white wine and cook until mixture thickens, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Mix in sour cream, then nutmeg. Season mushroom mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Add linguine to pot; toss to blend well and serve.



Speaking with Hawaiian fusion chef Roy Yamaguchi actually made me crave Spam. Go figure! So, since my husband was away on business, I decided to make myself some Spam onigiri.

I bought these nifty onigiri maker for $1. It's awesome.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Fried Macaroni & Cheese

Rae has been on my case about not posting for awhile. My's been a busy busy month!
Anyway, I've been wanting to post about this Fried Macaroni & Cheese that we had last month at Cheesecake Factory. This was our appetizer and boy, were we surprised by the size! The fried macaroni & cheese was the size of a tennis ball. It was very tasty with a creamy tomato sauce.
I was only able to eat husband managed to eat 3!

~ Mina

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Prima Taste Restaurant - Vancouver

A few weeks ago we visited our friends in Vancouver, B.C. Before going I did a little research and was excited to find out that there is a Prima Taste Restaurant there. I told my friends we have to go try it out. They've never had Singaporean dishes before so we ordered the classic favorite, Hainanese Chicken Rice. One of our friends is vegetarian so we ordered a few vegetarian dishes. I was so hungry that I kept forgetting to take photos before eating...but I managed to take photos of a few dishes. Overall, I liked the flavors and was not disappointed. Our friends loved the dishes -- they thought the dishes were different from anything they've ever had. Like most folks in the NorthWest, they are more familiar with Thai food.

~ Mina

Belachan Eggplants

Hainanese Chicken Rice


Vancouver, Canada
Prima Taste Restaurant
570 Robson Street
Vancouver BC, V6B 2B7
Tel: 1 60 4 685 7881

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Lard, The Magic Ingredient

It seems for most Singaporean hawkers, lard is their not-so-secret weapon to whipping out mouth-watering char kuey teow, Hokkien mee, and bak chor mee. However, the way the lard is used is still a mystery to me. Did they use lard as cooking fat, in place of oil? Is it a combination? If so, what's the ratio? Or did they just use the pork's back fat, and fry it up like cracklings? Or is the answer: All of the above?

I decided to do a little investigating on the Web. I found several recipes that call exclusively for lard as the "cooking oil." And the fried pork fat bits are separate. Mystery solved. Now, I know lard has a terrible reputation, but new studies have shown that they're actually better for you than vegetable shortening and margarine. Of course, moderation is the key.

Bruce Aidells, Bay-area's sausage king, frowns upon the store-bought packaged bricks of lard, which are "highly processed and don't taste anything like real lard." Instead, he encourages you to make your own. Here's his lard recipe"

6 pounds pork back fat, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1.) Preheat the oven to 300F
2.) Put cubed fat in large pot or Dutch oven, making sure it's no more than half full
3.) Slip into oven and bake until the fat begins to melt.
4.) Stir the mixture every 45 minutes, until the bits of cracklings (fat) brown and float to the top. It could take as long as 4 hours.
5.) Strain lard and store in canning jars. Cool and refrigerate.

If you grind them, the cooking time can be reduced.
The lard could store up to 6 months.

It's tedious, but could be worth it.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Eh, What's Up Doc?

I don't know what possessed me to buy this large bunch of carrots from the Farmers' Market. Maybe I was seduced by the pretty green leaves. Honestly, I don't really like carrots.

So, I decided to get a little creative. I made carrot and scallion fritters with a recipe I got from Gourmet magazine. It was quite tasty. It does require some kind of sauce, though. Maybe a garlic mayo would work.

3/4 cup coarsely grated carrot
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallion
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs
vegetable oil for deep-frying

In a bowl combine well the carrot, the scallion, the egg, the bread crumbs, and salt and pepper to taste. In a large skillet heat 1 inch of the oil until it registers 375°F. on a deep-fat thermometer, in batches drop the carrot mixture into the oil by tablespoons, and fry the fritters for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until they are golden. Transfer the fritters to paper towels and let them drain. Serve the fritters as hors d' oeuvres or as a side dish.


Mee Pok

Fellow bloggers, I need help. I have all the right elements of a mee pok dish (pretty right?), but I'm not happy with the taste. All I used was sambal and fish sauce. Anyone know how to achieve the spicy/vinegary sauces you find at mee pok stalls?


Saturday, June 2, 2007

JJ Cafe

Ever since my friend told me that there's good chicken rice at JJ Cafe, I've been obsessing over it. I finally guilted my poor, tired husband into going with me on a Sunday night. I eagerly ordered the Hainanese chicken rice, he ordered a pork chop rice with black pepper sauce, and we shared a salt and pepper fried chicken. Most people told me JJ was not very good, maybe OK for a late night, post partying snack. I have to agree. The chicken rice was on the greasy side, and the chicken was too warm. The pork chop rice was good, though.

JJ Hong Kong Cafe
447 W Garvey Ave Ste 102
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 280-3833

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Prima Taste Mix--Laksa

I've previously tried Prima Taste's Hokkien Mee and Chili Crab, but I wasn't impressed. Last week, my dear aunt from Singapore bought me the Laksa mix (amongst other goodies) and I decided to give it a try. It was delicious! I especially liked the inclusion of laksa leaves and sambal.

I added some cockles (haam), fishballs (!), bean sprouts, and prawns. I was a taste from home.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hokkien Mee

Guess what I finally found yesterday? Do Do Fishballs! Instead of going to yet another Ranch 99 (I've already been to 3 different ones), my aunt suggested Hong Kong market in Montery Park. Good call! There was an entire frozen section dedicated to Do Do Fishballs. I bought two packs, and couldn't not wait to try it out. So, I decided to whip up hokkien mee from scratch, with the recipe from Sim Cooks. The last time I made hokkien mee, it was with the Prima Mix, which basically contains some shrimp stock. This time, I just made the shrimp stock myself with saved up shrimp head (per Rasa Malaysia's advice).

All in all, it wasn't bad. Perhaps the next time, I'll use more stock and less noodles.


Tuesday, May 8, 2007


We recently celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. We also have another reason to celebrate -- We are expecting our first child in Nov. which we are very excited about.

For this special night we went Crush in Seattle. It was featured in Rachel Ray's Tasty Travels and I've read lots of great reviews on City Search. Crush is owned by a couple, Jason & Nicole Wilson who converted a house into a cozy resturant. I love the ambience of the place and the staff were friendly. The food was fantastic!

For starters, we order Crispy Sauteed Sweetbreads & Pinot Sauce. yum!
For entrees, I ordered Seared Sea Scallops & Fuyu Persimmon with Sweet Onion Risotto. I forgot to tell the server to make sure the scallops to be well done since I can't have rare seafood right now -- but our server was thoughtful enough to come back to our table and ask. I LOVE this dish. I was worried that the scallops would be too rubbery if well done but it was perfectly done and the risotto was wonderfully creamy, tangy and sweet.
My husband had the Slow Braised Short Ribs & Yukon Potato Puree. It was savory and tender. The sauce was amazing!
Desserts - Parfait

Monday, May 7, 2007

Noodles with Pork & Preserved Mustard

I love preserved mustard...mostly because it doesn't go bad and it's great with soup or stir-fry. One of my favorite ways to prepare it is with ground pork. This is a quick and easy dish with some left over ground pork and egg noodles.

Ingredients - For 2 servings
2 bundles of egg noodles
Soy Sauce
Sesame Oil
1 clove of garlic
1/2 pound of pork
1 pack of preserved mustard greens with chili oil(you can buy the ones pre-sliced)
Salt & Pepper
Fish Sauce

Cook the egg noodles in boiling water. I like to dunk it in cold water after it's cooked to get rid of the starchy water and back into the hot water for a second.
In serving bowl, I mix some soy sauce and sesame oil with the egg noodle to season.

In a wok, heat up chopped garlic, then add ground pork. Once the pork browns, add chopped preserved mustard green. Season with salt, pepper and fish sauce. Adjust seasoning to your liking. I learned from my grandma so it's hard to figure out the exact measurements. Top the noodles with the ground pork & preserved mustard green mixture. I had some left over kai land which I cooked in boiled water and added to the noodles as well.

~ Mina