Friday, January 23, 2009

Gong Xi Fa Cai

I would like to wish everyone "Happy Chinese New Year". May the Year of the Ox brings prosperity, good health, peace and happiness to everyone. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Nothing improves food so simply and dramatically as a leaf or two of fresh herbs. They offer every sort of flavour from grassy to peppery, aromatic to pungent.

Basil has a rich, peppery flavour and powerful aroma. Basil is particularly good with tomatoes and is frequently used in Italian dishes and other Mediterranean-style and Vietnamese recipes especially with vegetables.

Bay Leaf
Unlike most herbs, aromatic bay leaves are equally good fresh and dried. Bay forms part of the classic bouquet garni*, which is added to fish or meat stocks, soups and casseroles.

These bright-green stems have a fresh, oniony flavour and are delicious sprinkled on potato salad, baked potatoes and on vichyssoise soup. They provide a slightly hot contrast for bland creamy dishes.

A powerful flavoured herb that looks like flat-leaf parsley. Coriander has special affinity with chillies, garlic, ginger and spring onions and often adds its heat to exotic food such as Thai dishes, stir-fries and salsas.

The delicate flavour of dill means it goes splendidly with fish, shellfish boiled potatoes and cream cheese. It is also good in sauces and dips make with mustard or sour cream, and it is traditionally used when curing salmon.

This has a very pronounced flavour and should be used sparingly. It is best kept for roast or baked lamb, chicken and potato dishes.

There are tow types of parsley, curly and fat. Chinese curly parsley for dishes such as salmon fish cakes and parsley sauce, and for deep-frying to serve as a garnish with goujons of sole. Use the flat variety for Middle Eastern dishes, soups, salads and as a finish garnish.

Thyme is easy to grow and can be dried or frozen without any loss of flavour. It is best with meat or poultry casseroles and with tomatoes, cheese and mustard.

*Bouquet garni consists of three sprigs of parsley, two of thyme and a bay leaf, often tied up with a celery stalk or a section of leek and added to casseroles and stocks.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mango and Prawn Salad


1 cup snow peas
1 large ripe mango
16 large cooked prawns, peeled, deveined and halved lengthwise
4 spring onions, thinly sliced diagonally
2 cups mesclun (salad greens)

For the dressing:

1 slice garlic, crushed
1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp palm or light brown sugar
1 tsp chopped coriander root
¼ cup fresh coriander leaves
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp peanut oil
¼ cup lime juice


To make the dressing, put all the ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together.

Trim the snow peas and steam for 5 minutes, or until tender-crisp. Refresh in a bowl of chilled water, then drain and pat dry.

Peel and slice the mango. Arrange the prawns and mango on four individual plates, Sprinkle the snow peas and spring onion and mesclun evenly on top.

Spoon the dressing over the salads and serve immediately.


For a sweeter dressing, substitute orange juice for the lime juice and add peeled fresh orange segments to the salad.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How to Make a Perfect Omelette

Break two eggs into a bowl, add salt and black pepper to taste and beat lightly with a fork until the egg just passes through the prongs.

Place the pan over a brisk heat and add a little oil or some clarified butter. When the oil or butter is very hot, quickly pour in the beaten eggs.

Shake the pan to and fro and stir the eggs with the back of the fork until they start to thicken. Then tilt the pan, lifting the cooked egg at the side and allowing the uncooked egg to flow underneath. When the eggs have cooked enough so that only the centre is still moist (for about 1 - 2 minutes), draw the pan off the heat.

To transfer the omelette to the plate, fold a third of the egg from the side of the pan, sliding the omelette towards the edge of the pan. Fold the open third back towards the centre, forming a cigar shape. Press the ends together so that all the juice remains in the omelette and does not leaked when it is turned onto the plate.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chicken and Crab Meat Soup


1 pc Chicken breast
7 cups Cold Water
200 g Crab meat
1 can Aspaaragus spears
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Soy sauce
4 tbsp Cornflour dissolved in 3 tbsp water
4 Egss - lightly beaten


Place chicken breast in boiling water. Cook for 20 mins. Remove breast and shred. Keep aside.

Strain the chicken stock. Combine chicken meat, crab meat and asparagus spears into pot. Season with salt, soy sauce and bring to boil.

Thicken with dissolved cornflour. Bring to boil and pour int beaten eggs slowly into soup. Stir well and serve hot.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Duck Breast Salad


4 duck breast fillets
3 tbs dark soy sauce
Juice of 1 orange
5 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
125 g watercress sprigs
145g (1 cup) dry roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
2 oranges peeled and cut into segments


Juice of 1 orange
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs honey
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper


Heat the grill to hot. Remove the skin and thick layer of fat from the duck fillets. Slice each breast into about 6 pieces. Place in a shallow gratin dish.

Mix together the soy sauce, orange juice and ginger and pour over the duck, turning the slices on the grill rack and grill for 5-7 minutes, turning once or twice, until cooked to your liking. Baste with the soy sauce mixture during cooking. Remove the cooked duck slices from under the grill.

Arrange the duck slices, watercress and orange segments in a serving dish. Put the dressing ingredients in a clean screw-top jar and shake to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the duck slices, watercress and orange segments and toss in the roasted hazelnuts.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Know Your Chinese Sauces

Bean sauce

or “tau pan cheong” is made from black or yellow soya beans that have been fermented with flour and salt. Black bean sauce is the saltier of the two and much darker.

Hoisin sauce

is made from soya bean puree, sugar, flour, maltose, salt and spices. This sauce is used to marinate Chinese roast or barbecued pork. It has a sweet flavour rather than the more pungent taste of Western barbecue sauce.

Chilli paste

is prepared from chillies, soya bean extract, salt, sugar and flour.

Sesame oil

is the pure thick extract of roasted sesame seeds and used as a seasoning or condiment rather than as a cooking oil. It is typically added to soups and stir-fried dishes at the last minute to give a nutty fragrance.

Lemon sauce

includes lemon extract, corn syrup, sugar, rice vinegar, spices and cornflour and is very good for use in chicken and seafood dishes.

Oyster sauce

is thick, aromatic and salty. Made from oyster-extract and soy sauce, it is used both as a complete seasoning and a stir-fry ingredient.

Plum sauce

is made from Chinese plums, corn syrup, sugar, rice vinegar, ginger, chillies, spices and cornflour. It is useful for sweet and sour dishes and as a table sauce for barbecued meat or poultry and cold appetizers.

Soy sauce

is a salting agent made from fermented soya beans and comes in a number of varieties, including light, dark, very dark and thick and salt-reduced. Light soy sauce are used to season almost every Chinese dish. Dark soy sauce are caramelised and sweeter in flavour, so are used more as dips and colouring for soups and stews.

Bean curd sauce

is a thick sauce made from fermented bean curd and salt that is used in rich Chinese stews. It comes in two varieties, white or red. There is no difference in flavour between the two, but the red bean curd sauce will make some dishes look much richer.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Tofu Cutlets


300 g soft fresh white tofu, cubed
1 large boiled potato, chopped
4 green beans, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely grated carrot
1 spring onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
Cornflour, for dressing
Oil for deep-frying


Put the tofu in a mixing bowl and mash it finely with a fork. Mop off any liquid with paper towels.

Mix in all the other ingredients except the cornflour and frying oil. Mix well to a soft consistency, adding a tablespoon or two of water if the mixture is dry and crumbly.

Divide the mixture into four equal portions and press them to make lightly rounded, burger-liked patties. Dust the cutlets with cornflour. You can cook them immediately, but they will firm up a little if you chill them for 30 minutes beforehand.

Heat some oil in a deep fryer or wok and fry the cutlets until they are golden brown and crip. Drain on paper towels. Serve with sliced tomatoes and a chilli sauce dip.