Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dry Chicken Curry Noodles 乾咖喱雞麵 - "Malaysian Monday 40"

I have mentioned how much I adore chicken curry and it was on our menu yet again. The leftover was turned into another one of my childhood favourites. You can easily replace the Hokkien noodles with your choice of noodles. Please check out my Malaysian chicken curry mee (mee = noodles) if you prefer something with a broth. For those who are not familiar with the caramel sauce that I use so often in many of my recipes, I have attached a photo and descriptions below and I hope that is useful to you.

recipe per serve
you'll need;
left over Malaysian chicken curry, reheated
half a packet of Hokkien noodles, loosen or dried egg noodles
a handful of bean sprouts
1 spring onion, chopped
chopped bird chillies to serve
fried shallots to serve

for the dressing;
1.5 tbs of shallot oilgarlic oil or chicken oil
1 .5 tbs of light soy
1.5 tbs of caramel sauce (pictured below)
1 tbs of oyster sauce
1 tsp of castor sugar
dash of white pepper

This is my preferred brand for caramel sauce - Cheong Chan brand thick caramel sauce (祥珍生晒油). Available at all good Asian grocers.

Prepare the dressing.

Cook noodles for a minute then add in the bean sprouts and drain immediately.

Mix noodles with the prepared dressing.

Pour the chicken curry over and garnish with spring onions, fried shallots and and cut chillies. 

My friend Sharon from Test With A Skewer is hosting the May event, please send all your entries to To find out more about the event please click here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ma Po Dou Fu 麻婆豆腐 Tofu WIth Spicy And Numbing Mince Sauce

I made this specially for my blogger friend Ija from Arah at our old place and for some reasons it was never posted. Since she is back blogging I thought I might just give her a little reward for her  comeback. One would have easily guessed why it has such a peculiar name by the direct translation of the dish (麻婆豆腐 literally translates as pock-marked lady or granny's tofu) so I am not going to bore you with the origin of the dish. A popular dish served at most Chinese restaurants even before the new wave of Sichuanese restaurants popped up everywhere in the recent years, the problem is they all served the dumped down versions for westerners and I am no fan of that! Thanks to Fuchia Dunlop's Sichuan Cookery I was able to produced a dish that completely cured my Sichuanese friend's homesickness, well ..... for a little while at least.
P.S I should be able to put up a Malaysian Monday post on Wednesday so remember to come back for that!

serves 4 as part of a Chinese meal
you'll need;
1 block (500 g) of firm tofu, cut into 2 cm cubes*
250 g of minced beef**
1 tbs of dark soy
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bird chillies, chopped
3 spring onions, cut at an angle (horseshoe shapes)
4 tbs of hot bean paste
1 tbs of black bean, rinsed
2 tbs os light soy
dash of Chinese cooking wine
250 ml of chicken stock
corn flour solution
1 tbs of Sichuan peppercorn, dry roasted and crushed
chili oil (optional)
* simmer tofu with salted water before adding into the minced sauce.
** brown mince before hand if your stove is not that powerful.

Marinate minced beef with dark soy for at least 20 minutes. Prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Crucial seasonings; hot bean paste, fermented black beans and sichuan peppercorns.

Saute chopped ingredients with 3 tbs of cooking oil til fragrant then add in the hot bean paste. When the oil has turn an attractive red, add in the fermented black beans.

Return the mince and continue to cook for 30 seconds, breaking up the mince as you go.

Add stock and seasonings and when it comes to a boil, add the tofu. Be careful not to breakup the tofu.

Finally thicken the sauce with some corn flour solution.

Sprinkle with the toasted sichuan pepper and serve immediately as part of a Sichuanese meal.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lebanese Chicken Soup (Shourabat Djaj)

It seems to me almost every culture has a chicken soup that is considered a tonic and there is no exception for the Lebanese. Though I am not too sure about the healing power of this soup but it certainly tastes great and I see it as a wonderful way to end our short tour to the Middle East and North Africa, especially after all the previous dishes which were laden with quite a lot of spices. This gentle soup is light and very easy on the palate so it is not difficult to understand why it is generally served when someone is feeling unwell.

recipe adapted from Abla's Lebanese Kitchen
serves 4
you'll need;
2 chicken breasts
2 l of chicken stock
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped parsley, including stems
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp of allspice
1/2 cup of crushed egg vermicelli
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the onion and tomatoes.

Prepare the parsley and egg vermicelli.

Place chicken, bay leaves and cinnamon stick in a pot and slowly bring it to a simmer. Put the lid on and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from the pot and allow to cool and discharge the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred and cut into bite size pieces and set aside.

Add onion, parsley and tomatoes into the stock and bring it to a simmer.

Add allspice, season with salt and pepper and return chicken to the pot and continue to cook for a further 20 minutes.

Finally add egg vermicelli and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve immediately with some extra chopped parsley and let the healing process begins.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Moroccan Lamb With Saffron Rice

It was a similar dish that triggered the little Middle Eastern revolution at the tummies'. The culprit came from a  reputable restaurant  and with a price tag of $32 we were expecting a lot more than a few pieces of lamb cubes on a bed of turmeric rice (not the saffron rice stated on the menu). Well dwelling on the past won't get us anyway but a little research and patience will guaranty many happy tummies and that was exactly we I did. I adapted a dish cooked by the "hairy bikers" during their Moroccan road tour (it was done in a tagine) and you will have to try to find out how tasty it is. Like all stews this one tastes a lot better the next day so make a big pot and embrace the cold Melbourne nights.
P.S The cost for this memorable meal enough to feed 6 to 8 was around $30.

serves 6 to 8
for the lamb you'll need;
1.5 kg of lamb dice
2 brown onions, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
5 cm knob of ginger, chopped
a few saffron threads, ground
2 tbs of cumin powder
2 tbs of coriander powder
1 tbs of turmeric powder
1 tbs of paprika
1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder
2 tbs of harissa
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup of chicken stock
1/2 cup of chopped coriander leaves
1 can of chickpeas, drained
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

for the saffron rice;
2 cups of basmati rice
2 tbs of olive oil
1/4 tsp of ground saffron threads
20 g of butter

Prepare the wet spices.

Put the drained chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Rub a handful of chickpeas at a time between your hands to loosen the skins. Run more water into the bowl and remove the skins that float to the top. Repeat until all skins are removed. Drain and set aside.

Heat a little oil in a pot and brown lamb in batches until golden. Drain and set aside.

Add a little more olive oil to the pot and saute the chopped aromatics. Add in the spices and harissa when the spices are soften and continue to cook for a minute or two on medium heat, be careful not to burn the spices. 

Return the lamb to the pot follow by the chopped tomatoes, stock and herbs and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, simmer with the lid on until lamb is very tender (1.5 - 2 hours).

Add chickpeas and cook for a further 10 minutes, check for seasonings and it is ready to be served.

To cook the saffron rice - Wash rice and drain well in a sieve. Heat the oil in a pan and add the well drained rice, stir to make sure every grain of rice is coated with the oil. Transfer rice to a rice cooker and add enough water (roughly 4 cups) to cover the rice, add saffron and a little salt and press cook. When the rice is done, add in the butter and mix it lightly with a fork.

Ladle some lamb over a bed of saffron rice or couscous  and serve with a tomato, cucumber and onion salad.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lebanese Bread Salad (Fattoush)

It has been a completely crazy week for me and I am glad I have this little world to escape to even though it is only for a temporary respite. As promised I am posting a dish that doesn't need much introduction to anyone who is familiar with Lebanese cuisine. Fattoush has everything that made up a great salad; the refreshing herbs, crunchy vegetables, a vibrant dressing and the added bonus of crispy shards of toasted Lebanese bread. Purslane was growing wild in our garden up till early autumn, to me this is a perfect way to rid the garden of any unwanted weeds. 
P.S Purslane (馬齒莧, pronounced ma chi xian) is also a popular vegetable in Sichuan cooking. It can be found during the hotter months in good Middle Eastern shops, or try foraging near Merri Creek.

recipe adapted from Abla's Lebanese Kitchen
serve 4 
you'll need;
1 round Lebanese bread
5 radish, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 lebanese cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
8 spring onions, chopped
3/4 cup of purslane or watercress
1 cup of picked flat leaf parsley
1 cup of picked mint leaves

for the dressing;
1/3 tsp of allspice
1 1/2 tsp of ground sumac
80 ml of lemon juice
80 ml of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the vegetables.

Prepare the purslane and herbs.

Bake the bread until golden brown and break into pieces. Prepare the dressing.

Combine all the ingredients in a salad bowl, pour the dressing over and toss to combine. I served this refreshing salad with  harissa chicken skewers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Harissa Chicken Skewers

After a lackluster Lebanese/North African meal at a restaurant, I decided to take a "culinary trip" through the troubled  regions  of Middle East and North Africa. This is such a simple dish to make at home especially if you already have some harissa in your fridge and the marinade will work equally well with beef, lamb or even seafood. I served the skewers with fattoush (Lebanese bread salad) and that will be posted in the coming days.
P.S I have managed to restore my nasi minyak post that went missing since last week, unfortunately all your lovely comments are gone.

makes 20 skewers
you'll need 1 kg of chicken thigh fillets, excess fat removed and cut into chunks
20 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least an hour
fattoush salad to serve

for the marinade;
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbs of homemade harissa or shop bought
2 tbs of olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the marinade - pound garlic with a little salt to a paste then add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Remove excess fat from the chicken fillets and cut into large chunks.

Marinate chicken overnight (or at least an hour) and skew with soaked bamboo skewers.

Grill or bbq until golden and slightly charred.

Serve immediately with a salad of your choice.

Nasi Minyak, Rice Cooked In Butter - "Malaysian Monday 39"

I made this fabulous side dish using my dear friend Makcik Manggis' (Jom Masak... Jom Makan-Makan ) recipeterima kasih makcik! I have had this numerous times at Malay weddings but making it at home was a first for me thanks to the very easy to follow recipe. I served it with the curry kambing (Malaysian goat curry) I posted a week ago and I think they are a match made in heaven. If you want something festive to go with your next Malaysian meal please remember to try this out!
P.S I have been away from the computer for a few days and just realized this post was removed so I am reposting this.

recipe from Jom Masak... Jom Makan-Makan
serves 4 to 6 as part of a Malaysian meal
you'll need;
2 cups of basmati rice, rinsed and drained
3 shallots, peeled
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 cm knob of ginger

a little cooking oil 
a small knob of butter
a little yellow colouring (optional)
2 star anise
6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 pandan leaf
1/3 cup of milk
2 1/2 cups of water
salt to taste
a little yellow colouring (optional)
a handful of roasted cashew nuts
a handful of sultanas

Pound shallots, garlic and ginger into a rough paste.

Saute star anise, cloves and cinnamon stick with a little cooking oil and butter for 30 seconds before adding the wet spices. Continue to cook for a minute....

Add in the well drained rice and stir well, making sure each grain of rice is coated with the fragrant mixture.

Transfer rice to a rice cooker then add pandan leave, milk, water and a little salt to taste. 

When rice is cooked you may gently stir in a little yellow colouring if using. 

Top with some roasted cashew nuts and sultanas and serve as a replacement for steamed rice.

My friend Sharon from Test With A Skewer is hosting the May event, please send all your entries to To find out more about the event please click here.

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