Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mee Siam, spicy sweet tangy rice vermicelli

Spicy Sweet Tangy Rice Vermicelli - MEE SIAM!

Spicy Sweet Tangy Rice Vermicelli - MEE SIAM!

A rich tamarind (assam) gravy of delightful aroma, drenched over rice vermicelli fried in a sambal spice mix, further defined by the zest of a fresh lime squeeze. This is an all-appetizing delectable dish, originally from the Thais, then later became a marriage among the Nyonyas, Malays and Chinese. Where else can you find spicy, sweet, savory, tangy - all in one dish?

From these pictures, would you have thought I have done this from scratch - pounding the spices for chili paste, pre-frying the chili paste, preparing the vermicelli sambal and tamarind paste etc. ?? If only I did. Now, I could only say "Thank you" to Ready-to-Cook Meat kit from Prima Taste.

Other than their Mee Rebus meal kit which I swear by when I simultaneously get pricked by the "cravings" needle AND biten by the lazy bug , this Mee Siam Meal Kit is also one of my favorites. You are spoilt for ready-made pastes when it comes to curry chicken and even Thai green curries but when it comes to Mee Siam and Mee Rebus, there are not many decent products out there, and I promise Prima Taste stands to the taste test of authenticity.

In the kit, you get Mee Siam paste, chili paste for frying the rice vermicelli, sambal chili and even lime juice - all individually packed! Perfectly sealed and hygienically packaged. You just need to prepare your own rice vermicelli, eggs and shrimps/prawns.

Cooking the rice vermicelli: Soak the rice vermicelli in a pot of hot-warm water till soft. Then heat the rice vermicelli chili paste with some water in a frying pan, and add the soaked rice vermicelli into the rice vermicelli chili paste and mix well.

Cooking the Mee Siam gravy: Mixing the Mee Siam paste with water in a pot and bring to a boil, the lower heat to simmer.

You are all ready to serve. Portion the rice vermicelli into individual servings, top with hard-boiled eggs, and cooked shrimps/prawns, then pour the Mee Siam gravy into the rice vermicelli. You will get all the necessary details in the package instructions.

Mee Siam never look so good when it can be ready in 10 minutes.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Stuffed mushrooms

Tips on mushrooms: I used fresh shitake mushrooms for this recipe. Dried shitake mushrooms would not work so well since the dried version usually have a strong pungent smell (even after soaking). When shopping for fresh shitake mushrooms, I make sure there are minimal blemishes on the mushroom caps. If you buy them loose, one way to store them (if you are not using them on the same day) when you reach home is to put them in tall brown paper bags with a few small holes intentionally created on the paper bags. The mushrooms needs to breathe. Do not keep for too long (maximum a week for me) as the inherent moisture in the mushroom tend to evaporate and completely dry out the freshness in the mushrooms. That's why mushrooms grown in a mushroom farm need to be grown in the dark, and maintained at a cool temperature with suitable humidity.

Stuffed Mushrooms

- Fresh shitake mushrooms (Note: get medium or large size mushroom to allow room for stuffing), wipe clean with damp paper/kitchen towel. Remove stem, keep the caps
-1 lb or slightly less of minced pork
- 1tsp grated ginger
- 3 cloves garlic minced finely
- 1 stalks scallions/spring onions, chop into small bits
- 2tsp oyster sauce + 2-3tbsp water (pre-mixed)
- some sugar, salt and pepper to taste

Stuffing Seasoning:
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2tbsp corn flour or 1/4 of beaten egg
- 1tsp grated ginger + its juice
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp cooking wine
- 1-2 stalks scallions/spring onions, chop into small pieces
-salt and pepper, to taste
(Note: The seasoning used is almost similar to the one I used in Stewed Lions Head-狮子头)

1. Mix pork with seasoning ingredients, make into meat balls (~3cm diameter for each). You can also use a tablespoon (Note: best you have a Chinese porcelain soup spoon) to make the stuffing
2. Place/stuff the meat mixture onto the mushrooms caps, and coat the surface of the stuffing on mushroom with some cornflour (Note: this will keep the stuffing intact on the mushroom, and give a "protective" coating on the stuffing when frying. Also, the meat mixture will not "disintegrate" while frying)
3. Add oil to pan, and at medium heat - with the stuffing-meat mixture facing down, add the mushooms(remember - stuffing face down!) into the oil (Note: the stuffed mushroom should be just partially submerged in the hot oil. This is not pure deep-frying) and fry for ~2mins. *The meat is still not cooked
4. Set side the partially fried stuffed mushrooms

5. Discard frying oil, just keep one tbsp remaining for further cooking and simmering later
6. To the oil, add some garlic, green onion and ginger and fry till fragrant
7. Add oyster sauce + water to make the gravy/sauce. Add a little brown sugar, salt and white pepper, add in the stuffed mushrooms (Note: slowly and stuffing face down), and allow the stuffed mushrooms to simmer and cook. After ~5 mins, flip them to the other side. Make sure the mushrooms are submerged in the simmering gravy/broth
8. Allow the gravy/broth to reduce and after about 8-10 mins, the stuffed mushrooms should be cooked through
9. You can serve them with steamed rice; and especially when done this way (fry+slow simmering), you can even serve them as a warm appetizer or a light entree main course

Alternatively, you can absolutely steam these "precious" after steps (1)-(2), without going through the hassle of (3)-(8).

However, it's a different texture and taste you are going to get. Whichever way you choose, these savory stuffed mushrooms would be such a delight on the dining table when it's so flavorful and juicy.

A protein-packed and delicious entree main course! So juicy, succulent, and yummy...

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fried hokkien noodles Singapore-style - one of S'pore top ten favorite hawker food

Only perfect when served with sambal belacan chili and lime by its side

I made prawn noodles with the prawn stock . Armed with the perfect flavorful stock/broth, and a secret ingredient/garnish - fried shallots , I made Stir Fried Hokkien Noodles (Singapore Style). You can call it Braised Nyonya Noodles if you wish since I came across cookbooks that gives this name. I made this when I was in California. So, if you are residing in the United States, getting the desired ingredients should not be too much of a problem (Tip: look to Asian supermarkets for "headed" shelled prawns). But this dish - from the boiling of prawn stock to the preparation of ingredients, takes up more time and effort. Well...if you are too free... ...too much time... ...LOL!

Braised Nonya Noodles/Singapore-style Fried Hokkien Noodles
- 1lb prawns buy heads on, shells on to be removed and reserved for prawn stock. For making the stock - refer here, and below *(1)
- 4-6 cloves garlic minced
- 1tbsp fermented soya beans, mashed well
- about 4 servings of rice vermiceilli-beehoon, soaked in hot water to soften, drain and cut into - shorter lengths for easier frying
- 1/2 lb spaghetti , boiled and set aside (Note: I find that spaghetti is typically a good alternative to yellow noodles which sometimes maybe made/preserved with too much alkali water)
- 1 -2 cups chicken stock
- 2 eggs, light beaten
- 1/2 lb bean sprouts
- 4-6 leaves of napa cabbage, cut into finger-lengths
- 1 spring onion/scallions, cut into short lengths
- white pepper to taste

*1. When I made my prawn stock then, I fried the prawn heads and shells with some oil and 1 tsp of pancetta (tip!), to give it more flavor and robustness, before adding water to make up the stock. If you have made the stock on the same day, use it. If frozen previously, defrost for using.
2. Heat oil (1tbsp) in pan and fry the chopped garlic, pancetta and mashed soya beans till fragrant
3. Add in bean sprout, cabbage and stir fry for 1 min. Then add in eggs and stir fry another minute
4. Add in both types of noodles and 1/2 the reserved stock and let it simmer about 5mins
5. Add in prawns, salt and pepper and stir fry till heated through. Add more stock if needed
6. Add in spring onions and stir fry
7. Garnish with fried shallots , serve with sambal belacan chili + lime (Note: I'm almost tempted to cite this as an option but for me personally, these condiments/garnish pack it with much more oomph!)

Bon Appetit ! Another Singapore favorite!

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Braised Tofu Beancurd with Spinach and Mushrooms - Three Storey Tofu

Braised Tofu/Beancurd with Pureed Spinach and Bumashimeiji(Honshimeiji) Mushrooms

-1 block tofu (medium or silken),
-1cup chopped spinach, blanched
-1.5oz bumashimeiji(honshimeiji) mushrooms

-1/2cup water
-2tsp oyster sauce
-1tsp dark soya sauce
-1tsp brown sugar

1. Place chopped spinach on top of tofu blocks and steam of 5 minutes (Note: drain off some moisture in the tofu after steaming)
2. Cut spinach topped tofu cut into serving size (and gently fry in hot oil till golden brown. Drain well, set aside

3. With a little oil, add mushromms and fry.
4. Mix ingredient for sauce together and add to mushroom mixture, adjust amount of water (add more) if too salty (adjust to taste), then allow sauce to reduce
5. Add a little cornflur to thicken sauce, and pour over spinach tofu
6. Serve immediately

Even the sight of this pleases me....

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