Familiar tastes

Green bean and barley soup

I’d never appreciated the combination of green bean and barley soup until a couple of years ago when I was served a bowl at my uncle’s funeral. As the norm for Chinese funerals, a caterer is hired and she would cook simple food items for mourners and guests. A Chinese dessert – tong sui is usually included. It can be anything from green or red bean soup to fu chuk yee mai (barley with beancurd skin); could be that something soupy, warm and sweet would take away the pain. Or that food is the solution to everything under the sky.

Now I love it and it’s the only tong sui I’d make. Ok well it’s the only tong sui I know how to make… for now. Some pearl barley, green beans, pandan leaves and rock sugar boiled and simmered in harmony. Simple comforts to help go through all uncertainties in life.

Recipe: Quick Chinese Lemon Chicken

I was shown a really quick, easy way to make this Chinese lemon chicken so I thought I’d share :D

Quick Chinese lemon chicken collage

The ‘secret’ ingredient of the lemon chicken sauce is one of those instant stuff, this from Lee Kum Kee. Not bad especially if you don’t have the time, knowledge nor ingredients to make the sauce from scratch.

There are instructions on the back of the packet on how to use it. But as with everything, you’ve to add some of your own kung-fu to make it a pow wow dish. Here’s how:

Ingredients: (serves 4 – 6)
- 2 chicken legs/ drumstick, deboned, approx 200g each
- soy sauce
- sesame oil
- oyster sauce
- white pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
- corn flour
- cooking oil
- 1 packet instant lemon chicken sauce

Quick Chinese lemon chicken - method 01

1) Clean and remove excess fat from chicken

2) Cut chicken into small bite size pieces

3) Add a DASH of soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce and white pepper to the chicken. I mean a very small dash, possibly half a teaspoon each. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

4) Add 2 tbsp egg to the chicken to coat. Mix well.

Quick Chinese lemon chicken - method 02

5) Heat up enough oil for pan or deep frying. The reason why it’s pan-fried here is to save on cooking oil. You’ll just have to flip the chicken to make sure they fry properly.

6) Dredge chicken with corn flour, make sure they are well-coated.

7) Put chicken to hot oil to fry. Turn occasionally until chicken is golden brown.

8 ) .. to look like this!

Quick Chinese lemon chicken - method 03

9) Open store-bought instant sauce. The photo here is for orange fish fillet, it should be for lemon chicken. Anyway this is just to show you what the box looks like.

10) Add 1 tbsp oil to clean frying pan. This is the same photo as above, it’s more than 1 tbsp but I’m too lazy to change it. Just use 1 tbsp ok.

11) Add a few tbsp of the sauce (or more, depending on how much sauce you want with your dish) to the oil, mix well. Let it sizzle for a bit, then add the cooked chicken to the pan. Stir to coat the chicken with the sauce.

12) Remove from pan and serve. Eat with a bowl of piping hot white rice, mmm…

Quick Chinese lemon chicken

Fanfriggintastic :)

Roasted Pumpkin Salad: easy, yummy & versatile!

I felt like eating pumpkin. Correction: I felt like eating a pumpkin dish that I’d made. So I googled for pumpkin-related recipes and found this roasted pumpkin salad with honey and balsamic dressing recipe. Looks simple enough and I have most of the ingredients. Just had to buy myself some pumpkin because it’s not something that one would happen to have in the fridge.

Something like the Japanese pumpkin slice below costs something like RM6.00. The organic version would have been RM11++. Why Japanese pumpkins? ‘Cos Jaya Grocer sells them, that’s why.

Roasted pumpkin salad with honey balsamic dressing - Japanese pumpkin

So you remove the seeds and skin, and cut it up to small pieces. Then add a splash of olive oil, some black pepper and salt to ze pumpkin. Use your god-given fingers and mix everything.

Roasted pumpkin salad with honey balsamic dressing - cut and seasoned

Line a baking tray with baking paper, arrange the pumpkin onto the tray. Pop into pre-heated oven at 200°C for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the rest of the stuff!

For dressing: Combine 1/2 tsp honey + 1/2 tbsp olive oil +1 tbsp balsamic vinegar into a bottle. Shake shake shake, take off the lid and pop it into the microwave for 10 secons or so. Take it out, shake shake shake again until everything’s well combined.

Roasted pumpkin salad with honey balsamic dressing - dressing ingredients

For nuts: heat a pan with small heat. Add pine nuts. Cook and stir for a couple minutes or until they’re golden. Be careful not to overcook, they burn easily. I had to throw away my first batch ‘cos my stove-top fire was too much :( Wasted my precious pine nuts :(

Roasted pumpkin salad with honey balsamic dressing - pine nuts

The original recipe calls for spinach. But I don’t know how to eat Western-style spinach. Plus they’re not cheap so I didn’t buy them. I had kidney beans in can, so I used that instead.

Roasted pumpkin salad with honey balsamic dressing - kidney beans

Actually you can substitute the pine nuts for almond or walnuts (but pine nuts tastes better, sorry), and the spinach for any other items that you have. Grilled zucchini, rocket leaves, feta cheese… everything tastes great with roasted pumpkins! :D My kidney beans was a good pairing as well. Go wild ;)

Once the roasted pumpkin has been removed from oven and cooled down a bit, mix all your ingredients together and add the dressing to your liking.

Roasted pumpkin salad with honey balsamic dressing - mix

Then serve with roast chicken! Or with whatever you’re eating, or just eat it on its own.

Roasted pumpkin salad with honey balsamic dressing - final

It’s delicious, I’m so happy with it! :) I’m going to try this again with other ingredients.

The Breaded and Baked Chicken ‘cos it’s healthier than fried

I breaded and baked chicken. It’s so mind-numbingly easy, you can do it too!

Ingredients:
- 1 cup dry breadcrumbs. Or Panko if you’re super fancy
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp herbs, whatever you like
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
(I buy 2 chicken breasts and cut to half)

1 – Preheat the oven to 190°C for 10 mins.

The Breaded and Baked Chicken - flattening the chicken The Breaded and Baked Chicken - breadcrumbs

2 – Pound and flatten the chicken breasts a little with a meat hammer. I got mine from IKEA, it’s the most useful thing ever as we also utilise it to break ice.

3 – Mix breadcrumbs with salt, black pepper, dried herbs and cayenne pepper.

The Breaded and Baked Chicken - breadcrumbs seasoning

4 – Mix olive oil with minced garlic.
5 – Lightly grease a baking pan/ baking paper placed on a baking pan.
6 – Dip the chicken breasts into the oil+garlic mix then into the breadcrumb mix.

The Breaded and Baked Chicken - preparing to bake

7 – Arrange the meat in the baking tray. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes.

The Breaded and Baked Chicken - out of the oven

8 – Serve however way you want, mmmmmmmmmmm.

The Breaded and Baked Chicken

I had mine with Neapolitan sauce on warm tortilla bread.

The Breaded and Baked Chicken - with tomato sauce and tortilla bread

Fanfriggintastic!

Foolproof Baked Zucchini and Mushrooms

I’ve been eating my zucchini this way for a while now. It’s unbelievably easy, takes almost no effort and tastes way awesome. Just thought I’d put it down on the blog for anyone who might find it helpful. Never know!

Fool Proof Baked Vegetables

Heat oven to 190°C for 10 mins. Meanwhile, slice zucchini and quarter mushrooms. Throw it all into a baking pan (or whatever you use for the oven). Drizzle good quality extra virgin olive oil onto the vege. Add salt and black pepper. Using your (clean) hands, mix the stuff around and make sure that it’s well coated. Dump it in the oven for 10 mins then it’s done.

Simple joys!

The Best Scrambled Eggs in the World!

It seems that I’m really into this whole ‘the best …’ series, eh? But I can’t help it when the best of everything hits me at once :)

Grill Sergeant Lance was teaching me how to make the best clam chowder in the world (that post will come later) and while it was cooking, he showed me how to make the best scrambled eggs in the world, Gordon Ramsay-style.

I took some photos of the process but I think it’s better if you just watch the video:

Some things to note:
- If you’re out of butter, margarine is an accepted but very poor substitute
- The poor man’s creme fraiche is processed cheese #sux2bp00r
- If you’re anal about calories, this recipe is not for you. Neither is this blog :P
- The pot has to have a thick base. Time to invest in a decent pot!
- The mixer/ stirrer has to be silicone not plastic for obvious reasons

Here be Grill Sergeant Lance stirring the s*** out of the eggs.

Best Scrambled Eggs in the world - stirring the pot

Here be Grill Sergeant Lance with proper (but expired, hence why we didn’t use it) creme fraiche and processed cheese Happy Cow.

Best Scrambled Eggs in the world -  Lance with cream and cheese

Here be our breakfast that day, yum!

Best Scrambled Eggs in the world - with chives

Here be the super big breakfast I made for me and Ryan the nephew when we had a wonderful Ryan’s Gr8 Weekend. I left the eggs in the pot a bit too long because I was tending to the other stuff so it wasn’t as runny. But still awesome!

Best Scrambled Eggs in the world - big breakfast

When are you going to make the best scrambled eggs in the world? :D

Baked Marmalade Chicken

Baked Marmalade Chicken Somehow my boss ended up with a jar of marmalade. It’s homemade, it’s good quality, it’s chunky and it has been sitting in the office fridge for about 3 months. As it expires end of this month, I decided to take it back and make something out of it. He didn’t even notice.

(But of course I told him lah… )

Googled for recipes using marmalade, found a BBC one that I’m not linking because I’m lazy to look it up again. Basically almost followed it to the tee. Made it twice (because the first time I followed it to the tee and it was blah), here’s my jottings for the 2nd time:

The Chicken:
- 4 chicken pieces

The Marinade:
- 2 tbsp marmalade (preferably chunky)
- 1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp salt
- a sprinkle of ground black pepper
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 50ml orange juice

Trim excess fat off the chicken. I used all thighs so there was a lot of excess fat. Will use a combination of thighs and breast meat next time. Mix the marinade well, then coat the chicken with it. Feel free to double the recipe if you’re making more chicken. Cover with cling wrap, put in fridge to marinade for at least 1 hour, at most 4 hours.

Baked Marmalade Chicken - 01 marinade
Ready to bake!

Heat the oven to: 180C for 15 mins. Dump the chicken and marinade into a baking tray lined with tin foil. Cover the top of the tray with tin foil. Bake for 50 mins.

Baked Marmalade Chicken - 02 in the oven

Take it out, bast it some. Here’s what it looks like after 50 mins.

Baked Marmalade Chicken - 03 after 50 mins

Remove the top tin foil and put it back in the oven for another 20 mins. Here’s the result, ta-dahhhh!

Baked Marmalade Chicken - 04 after 70 mins

Let it rest for 10 mins then serve with awesome roast potatoes and boiled greens. Or rice or salad or cous cous or whatever tickles your fancy! You just need something neutral to balance the sweetness of the dish.

Baked Marmalade Chicken - 05 serving

It’s sweet and tangy (make sure you don’t skimp on the ginger!) and quite yummy. Click here for a photo of the chicken when I pried it open. The flesh is juicy and succulent, the skin slightly caramelised and all very lovely. Smells wonderful too, you need to make some marmalade chicken now! :D