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.