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Monday, February 23, 2015

Week 8, 2015

Feb 16 (Mon)
I baked a rye bread from the Five Minute Artisan Bread book.

and made Oxtail Stew with Tomato and Bacon to dip it with.

Excuse the horrible photo but trust me it's a very nice and substantial dish. I use a pressure cooker to speed things up, but even with that you should cook it for about 50 minutes to one hour so the oxtails can soften to the point where the meat falls off the bones.

Swiss Chard w/ Pancetta, Corn & Cannelini Beans

I used back bacon instead of pancetta for this, and fresh corn. I think all the veggies balance out the bacon, don't you think?
Feb 17 (Tue)
Another tried and true recipe. The OJ makes the dish. I usually skip the radicchio, because very few supermarkets sell it. Which means, this can be a pantry meal, if you keep some frozen fish and grow your own rosemary ;o)

Apple Beet Salad with Creamy Dill Dressing

Never use canned beetroot if you can help it. Fresh ones are so much better, and the peels can be fed to horses. Nothing goes to waste!

Feb 18 (Wed)

Chinese New Year eve is traditionally a time for families to gather and have reunion dinners, but our family never really placed a lot of significance on CNY so most of the time we tend to travel during this time. This year, however, we didn't plan any trips, and since both sets of parents are in Singapore, we had a small reunion dinner. J requested his favourite dishes from Chinese restaurants in the US that you just can't find anywhere else.

Hot and Sour Soup

I've been using this recipe for a long time and the only thing I change is that I use half water half chicken stock. I can honestly say it tastes better than most of the hot and sour soup served in restaurants.
General Tsao's Chicken
I've been making this since our Tokyo days, and you can read my blog post from those days here. I realized that the original recipe that I followed was deleted from for some reason, so I replaced the link with a similar version. Again, I would recommend dipping the chicken pieces in corn starch after coating in eggs instead of mixing the corn starch into the marinade, so you get a crispier exterior.

My mom's family is from Beijing, where it's a tradition to eat dumplings on New Year's eve. So I made pan-fried dumplings. The fillings is made with a recipe in Harumi's Japanese Cooking, and the wrapper is made from scratch. I will write a separate blog post on this with videos to show you how it's done. But here's the final result:
We eat this dipped in Chinese dark vinegar.

I stir fried baby kalian with duck liver sausage and regular Chinese sausages again. The recipe is in this earlier blog post.

Finally, my mom made an eight-treasured rice for dessert. It's a steamed glutinous rice dish with red bean past filling. There are supposed to be eight ingredients, usually a variety of dried fruits and nuts, that have auspicious meanings, but the key is to make it look pretty.

You can buy these ready made sometimes but I like her version because it's not too sweet, and she even made her own red bean filling. Here's a detailed recipe I found online. I haven't tried it, but the instructions are pretty good, so you can get an idea of what it is. I'll post my simplified recipe if I make it again.

Feb 19 (Thur)

Chinese New Year day! I went to walk Istria first thing in the morning and brought along Cherry Garcia. She just turned seven!

I worked up an appetite after walking and grooming Istria, and feeling nostalgic, I wanted to make some traditional home cooking styled dishes and the first thing that came to mind was scallion oil noodle (葱油面). The Crystal Jade La Mian restaurant in Singapore has a pretty good version, so I set out to replicate it.

Another dish I really miss having is scallion braised pork chop (葱烤大排). In Shanghai, scallion is used generously in a lot of braising dishes. Another one of my favorite is braised river carp. It's impossible to find fresh water fish in Singapore, so I'm settling for pork chops. I scored some kurobuta bone-in chops from Isetan and did recipe searches online. I combined a few recipes to come up with one I thought was the best. 

In Shanghai plain noodles are sometimes served with a topping, so I'm using the pork chops as topping for my scallion oil noodles. The recipe below is for both dishes, since the scallions need to be fried in oil for both dishes. Don't skimp on the scallions. They look like a mountain before cooking, but will shrink a lot. What's more, they soak up all the pork flavors so you would be wishing you had used more scallions, trust me!


6 pork chops, bone-in, but not too thick, about 1cm is the best
at least 250g spring onions, cut into half or leave as is
1/2 - 1 cup cooking oil

5 slices of ginger
2 tsp Chinese cooking wine
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp dark soy sauce

3 star anise
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
corn starch

For noodles:
1 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1/4 c small dried shrimp, chopped
2 Tbsp Maggie Seasoning sauce (optional)
250g thin white Chinese noodles

- Wash pork chops and dry with paper towel
- Use the back of a kitchen cleaver to hit the pork chops all over, until tender
- Place pork chops in a bowl and sprinkle with cooking wine and salt. Add ginger and soy sauce. Marinate for at least 3 hours   
- Soak shrimp in some warm water and cooking wine.
- Remove pork chops and dip in a dish filled with corn starch to coat both sides
-  Heat some oil in a wok until very hot but not smoking. Add all the spring onions and deep fry in oil, remove before turning yellow. Fry pork chops one or two at a time, until surface turns white.
- Pour out most of oil and reserve (this is for the noodle), leave just a little in the wok.
- Stir fry shrimp a little bit, until fragrant. Remove and set aside.
- Heat up a little more oil, add ginger from the marinade and stir fry until fragrant
- Add star anise, pork chops, most of the spring onion and light soy sauce. Pour some water into the wok until pork chops are almost completely submerged.
- Cover and cook on high for ten minutes.
- Add sugar to taste, may need more (Shanghainese dishes always have a sweet undertone)
- Add dark soy sauce for colour, but don’t make it too dark.
- Reduce the sauce on high heat uncovered, but leave some to pour over rice or noodle

- Cook the noodles according to instruction. Rinse in cold water
- Place noodle into bowls and toss with scallion flavoured oil, season with salt and Maggie        seasoning. Top with some browned scallions and shrimp.
- Place a pork chop on top of noodles and serve.
Feb 20 (Fri)

In anticipation of all the eating ahead, I rode Istria at a clinic with horse trainer extraordinaire A. Due to Istria's girth gall, I had to ride bareback, which I think earned me two more pineapple tarts.

Our friends J&M invited us to their house in the afternoon and her helper made a really wonderful Mee Soto dish from scratch!

It was absolutely delicious. I've shamelessly asked J to invite us back for some more =oP
They hired some lion dancers to bless the house with good fortune. I've never seen lions so up close before. At one point the lions were spitting out little toys for all the kids to grab, so it was great fun for everyone.

At night we went to T & A's house for more eating. They adopted one of the dogs from SOSD after I fostered him for a little and basically brought him to their house so the kids could fall in love with him. Since my dogs knew their dog, they went along too.

A even found the drink that matches my manicure!

We had another round of Lo-hei

And ate ourselves silly again with barbecued Korean beefs and burgers, scallops in butter sauce, and the sweetest corns.

Feb 21 (Sat)

My riding buddy G is taking part in a dressage competition at another club for the first time, involving transporting her horse across the island. I went to support her by helping her plait the horse and bringing lunch.

It was such a scorching hot day. I was so glad I wasn't the one who had to warm up under the hot sun.

Since she will need lots of energy I made some high protein food: mashed avocado with yuzu salt, and my favourite Egg Salad

My tarragon had died a few weeks ago so I used baby fennel fronds instead. Everyone liked it and G won 1st place in her class. I would like to think the food gave her the energy and stamina she needed to win ;o)

There was another Lo-hei with my fellow SOSD volunteers in the evening. The eating never ends...

Feb 22 (Sun)

Another clinic with A

Some serious eating at H & A's house for dinner. H co-owns and runs one of Singapore's best small plates restaurant Lolla and he likes to think of his friends as having the capacity to eat double portions whenever we are at his place. This was no exception.
H made a huge pot of eight treasured rice (similar to claypot rice, not to be confused with the sweet version my mom made), sautéed Carabineros prawns, water chestnut and kailan, pork soup and A made ngoh hiang with H's mom's recipe. The ngoh hiang was pan fried instead of deep fried, which made me feel less guilty to down five pieces.
This was my first plate. I lost count after the second bowl of rice. Carabineros prawns have very sweet and firm flesh, but the best part is all the juice that comes out of the head when you rip it off. I made sure the rice caught all the juice so there was no wastage.
Ten more days of Chinese New Year, but I think I need to slow down with the eating, or Istria will be protesting against a heavier load on her back =o(