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Simple Fry Nian Gao / New Year Sticky Rice Cake (年糕)

February 21st, 2014 by WeryNice Editor - Register for printable Version

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Many Chinese buy some Nian Gao (年糕) during Chinese New Year Spring Festival.  It symbolises 步步高升, (things are improving in steps in the coming year).  Housewife who worship kitchen god may also belief that the kitchen god, being in kitchen the whole year, heard the housewife gossips and complains in the kitchen.  They will offer the nian gao to the god at the end of the year. The believe was that the kitchen god will return to heaven and report to the heavenly king what he has heard, but if his mouth is filled with sticky rice cake, he will not be able to talk.

Note that I refer to those round cakes made of glutinous rice flour steamed in a banana leaf lined mould.  I am not referring to the white rice flour sticks, which are referred as Shanghai nian gao (上海年糕).

Nian gao should be kept dry by airing and sunned. They could be kept for months without refrigeration when dry.   For frying, the cake should be aired until it hardens (it is very sticky and soft when it was made), usually takes more than a week.  This also made slicing it easier than being soft and sticky.

Ingredients

  1. 1 Nian gao年糕
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 4 tablespoon general purpose flour
  4. ¼ teaspoon salt
  5. Cooking oil

Method

  1. Remove the covering (usually banana leaf) of the nian gao, and rinse.
  2. Slice into squares of ¼ cm thick. (thin slice are easier to cook)
  3. In a bowl, crack in the eggs and beat.
  4. Add in the flour and salt and stir into a batter.  Add in 1 tablespoon cooking oil and continue to stir until the oil is mixed thoroughly into the batter.
  5. Heat up a frying pan and oil the surface.  Dip the nian gao slice by slice into the batter and then pan fry both sides until golden brown. The nian gao is ready when it is soft again.   Use low heat so that the batter will not be burnt before the nian gao soften.  It is also important to have thin slice, otherwise it takes a long time before it soften.  Those who know how to use a pair of chopstick, it is easier to use a pair of chopsticks to do the flipping.

For variations of this recipe, you can pre-steam thin slices of yam or sweet potato or both, and sandwich the nian gao and the yam and sweet potato together, then dip into batter and fry.

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Category: Desserts, Festive Goodies, Recipes, Vegetarian | Discuss (No Comments) »

Simple Vegetable (chye sim or bok choy) Soup (菜心/小白菜汤)

February 21st, 2014 by WeryNice Editor - Register for printable Version

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Ingredients

  1. 2-3 bunches of vegetables (chye sim or bok choy)
  2. 3 small red onion
  3. 1 tablespoon dried ikan billis (dried anchovy)
  4. 200g minced pork
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 1 litre water
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. 4 tablespoon cooking oil

Method

  1. Peel the onion and slice thinly.
  2. Soak the vegetables for 30 mins to 1 hour and wash cleanly of dirt and possibly pesticides (if not organic), cut into 5cm sections.
  3. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Heat up a nonstick frying pan, put 1 tablespoon oil in, and pour in the beaten egg and spread out to make a thin omelette.  When done, break or cut into small pieces  of about 3-5 cm size. Set aside.
  4. In a dry soup pot, or in a wok, heat up and add 3 tablespoon of oil.  Add in the sliced onion and ikan billis and fry till fragrant.  Add in minced pork and stir fry until it is cooked and breaks into small pieces.
  5. Add in 1 liter water, and allow to boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 20 mins.
  6. Add in vegetable and omelette. Allow to boil and add in salt to taste. Pepper optional.
  7. If keeping to be served later, do not cover the pot, otherwise the vegetables will be overcooked (turned yellow).
  8. Serve hot or warm.

This can also be used a soup based for rice noodles 面线 (mee sua), or 米粉 (bee hoon).  Boil the noodle separately in plain water, drain dry and serve in a bowl. Scoop the soup and ingredients over the noodles and serve.

Minced chicken can be used instead of minced pork.  Also, sliced meat can be used instead of minced.

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Category: Pork, Recipes, Soup, Vegetables, rice and noodles | Discuss (No Comments) »

How to sharpen knife

February 7th, 2014 by WeryNice Editor - Register for printable Version

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I am not an expert in knife sharpening, but here are some tips that I can share and that is what I do.

Whetstone

Use a whetstone, and they usually comes with 2 sides, a rough and smooth side.  The Japanese ones are pretty good, but a little more expensive.  The surface should be flat before sharpening.  (I have read that you could use another whetstone to rub over another to make the surface flat, but most of our kitchen likely to have only 1 piece of the whetstone)  Soak the stone in water for 15 mins before use.   Put a wet cloth beneath the stone to prevent slipping during sharpening.

Stoke

Each stoke should fully utilize the full surface of the stone to maintain the flatness of the stone by wearing it out evenly, and each stoke sharpen the entire knife blade.  Hence holding the knife handle on the right hand and sharpening the right side of the blade, I will start with the edge of the knife away from the handle  (ie the tip of the knife), place the blade on the stone nearest to me, with the cutting edge pointing inwards towards me, and with a smooth motion, push the knife away from me, sliding the knife so that it will end at the end of the stone with the other end of the blade (heel) on the stone, thereby making sure the full blade has contacted the stone once. Apply a slight and constant pressure by pressing the knife on the stone during the stroke. Keep the angle of the blade on the stone constant and this is very important. I do not pull the blade back on the stone to have a forward backward motion, instead I lift up the blade and start the stoke again from the beginning.  Some may recommend pulling back, but I felt that pulling the blade back is like a shaving blade shaving the stone surface, and if any tiny unevenness on the stone surface or any particles (my stone is not the top grade stone used by Japanese chef) may risk blunting or chipping the cutting edge. You can repeat the stoke on the same side for X times, but make sure the same X times is repeated on the other side. The number of times to repeat depends on the condition of the blade. Typically I will do 20 times each side, and then 20 times each side again, and then 10 each side, then 5 each side, then 4,3,2 and 1. (More repetition if the knife is very blunt to start with). Drip some water on the stone when it gets dry. When doing it for the other side of the blade, you will have to do the reverse stroke, ie pulling back action, if you are holding the handle and turning the knife over.  For cleaver, as the blade is big, I will hold the top of the blade instead, and when doing it for the other side, I will flip the knife around, ie the handle is pointing away from me, and I could continue to do the same outward stroke.  Doing it with the same direction and same stroke ensure same pressure and angle control on both side.

Angle

Next, the angle to use depends on the thickness of the blade.  Thicker blade can be sharpened with bigger angle, while smaller angle can be used for thinner blade.  You will need some personal judgment here, typically you will only need to have 1-2mm of the cutting edge of the blade to be in contact with the stone (ie when you look at the side of the blade, you will see 1-2 mm of beveled edge).  The knife should also already have a beveled edge when it is new, you should follow the same angle when sharpening it.  A typical cleaver can be sharpened at about 20 degrees, (taking 90 degrees as perpendicular, halving it and then halving it and reduce further slightly. I always sharpen my knife with 2 angles, first with an angle as described using the rough side of the stone, and then honing with a slightly larger angle +5 more degrees ie very slightly, on the smooth side of the stone.  At this honing stage, do not apply pressure, just do the stroke gently.

Cleaning

Finally cleaning the knife sharpened edge with a sponge or cloth by pinching the blade and slide. This should remove any metal or the stone particles on the blade.

Testing

Sharp knifes cuts through vegetables item effortlessly without much pressure.  Eg cucumbers or garlic, and you should be able to slice them thinly without slipping by a downward action.  They cuts through meat easily with a slicing motion without the meat wobbling around as you slice.

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Apple, Pear, Luohan fruit, Fig, Apricot Kernel Dessert (苹果,梨 , 罗汉果,无花果,南北杏)

January 28th, 2014 by WeryNice Editor - Register for printable Version

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apple pear dessert

This is an alternative to the earlier post on “Apple or Pear with Chinese Almond (南北杏) and Chuan Bei (川贝)Drink“.  However, Chuan Bei is not used here, but replace with luohan fruit and fig, hence suitable for whole family as a throat soothing dessert, and helpful to relief long lasting cough. Picture of dried figs and luohan is attached for reference.

Hope this comes timely with too much Lunar New Year goodies which are heaty.

Ingredients (serves 4-5)

  1. 2 apples
  2. 2 chinese pears
  3. 1 dried luohan fruit (罗汉果)
  4. 4-6 dried figs (无花果) depending on size
  5. 1 tablespoon north apricot kernel (北杏)
  6. 1 tablespoon south apricot kernel (南杏)
  7. 750ml water
  8. Rock sugar (as the “rock” size vary, approximate to about 3 tablespoon of sugar combined)

Method

  1. Peel apples and pears and cut into chucks (about 8 pieces per fruit).
  2. Wash figs and luohan.  Break open the luohan.
  3. Rinse the apricot kernel and rock sugar.
  4. Put all ingredient in a pot, add in water, sufficient to cover all content.
  5. Bring to boil and then lower fire to very small just sufficient to keep the water boiling. Simmer for 1 hour.
  6. Remove and discard the luohan.  All other ingredients can be served.
  7. Serve warm. The kernels can be chewed on, and take time to chew it to a fine paste to enjoy the fragrance of the almonds before swallowing.  It is also very good for the throat.

luo han guo

dry fig

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How to have a less cloudy soup when boiling stock from pork bones

August 22nd, 2013 by WeryNice Editor - Register for printable Version

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When boiling soup or making stock from bones, this step will help to have a clearer soup (less cloudy due to blood from the bones).  Put the pork bone or pork ribs in a bowl. Boil some water and pour over the pork bones.  Stir a little and leave it for 1 minute.  Blood clots will emerge from the bones. Pour away and rinse the pork.  Then you can use the bones for your soup.

 

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Category: Cooking Tips, Meat, Pork, Soup | Discuss (No Comments) »