Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Nasi Goreng Udang (Prawn Fried Rice)

 A must-try for spice-fiends, this mouth scorching rice never fails to satisfy my hunger for hot food. As usual, the amount of spice depends on the quantity and quality of chillies used for this dish and can be altered to suit your own taste. Beginners should approach with caution!

Fried rice requires firm rice to avoid it turning into mush when fried. The best option is to use cold, leftover white rice. If you are cooking it fresh, best to give it time to cool before using it to make fried rice.

3 cups of cooked rice
2-3 tablespoon of dried chilli paste, the hotter the chilli, the less you will need
1 ½  teaspoon belacan
½ onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup of frozen peas
½ cup frozen sweet corn
½ cup diced carrot
200-250 g prawns, shelled and de-veined
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
Soy sauce or salt to season
1 large egg

Sauté the chilli paste in about 2 tablespoon of oil until it becomes lumpy and darker in colour. Next, the onion, belacan, garlic and  prawns are added in and cooked for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the sauces and the vegetables into this frying ingredients, allow it to cook for another  few minutes before stirring in the rice. Turn the heat to medium-high, stir quickly to cover the rice evenly with the sauces and season with salt or soy sauce to taste.

Make a well in the middle of the wok, add a splash of oil and break the egg into it. Wait for a moment to let the egg cook, then stir the rice into it. When the rice is dry (egg is cooked), it is ready to be eaten. Serves 2-3 persons.

Sunday, 14 October 2012


Sometimes called the Japanese pizza, the okonomiyaki is essentially a cabbage-filled omelette cooked on the hotplate. In Japanese okonomiyaki-ya (restaurants that serve okonomiyaki, yakisoba etc.), it is cooked in front of the customers, but all you need to try it at home is a good non-stick frying pan measuring about 22 cm (with a lid).

120 g white cabbage, remove the hard parts and shred the rest finely
3 eggs
120 g flour
120-150 ml water
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder
150-200 g meat of your choice (boneless chicken/prawns/squid)
Bacon (optional)
Oil for frying

Mix the flour, baking powder and water to form a lump-less batter. Stir in the eggs, shredded cabbage, meat and seasoning. Leave for 5-10 minutes.

Heat the frying pan and 1 desert spoon of oil over low-medium heat. If using bacon, fry the strips of bacon lightly on both sides and take it off the heat. Pour in half the mixture, spread it into a circle and flatten to half an inch. Place the bacon strips on the top side of the batter. Cover the pan, flip it over every five minutes or so. It takes about 20 minutes to cook each - the finer the cabbage, the quicker it cooks.

Okonomiyaki is normally garnished with a generous lashing of okonomiyaki sauce*, Japanese mayonnaise*, powdered seaweed (aonori) and bonito flakes before serving, but I didn’t have the last two items and substituted it with shredded sheets of seaweed.

* These items are available in most oriental supermarkets.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Mee Hoon Goreng (Fried Vermicelli)

Rice vermicelli (commonly referred to as mee hoon in Malaysia) is one of the tastiest noodles that you can stir-fry, most probably because the fine noodles offers plenty of surface area for the sauces to cover.

There are many types of rice vermicelli sold in the shops; make sure you get a firm variety that is more suited to frying than the ultra fine variation that is used in soups. The whiter the noodles, the higher quality it tends to be and it’s best to soak the noodles in cold water for an hour or two before cooking them al dente by soaking them in boiling water. Over cooking will result in broken, mushy mee hoon.

Mee hoon goreng has many variations in Malaysia and it eaten for almost any meal of the day! I admit my favourite one is the one my mum makes- it’s spicy and delicious. I’ll try and do it justice in this recipe. For a vegetarian version of these noodles, substitute belacan with an equal amount of mushroom sauce or vegetarian stir fry sauce and the anchovies and fishballs can be replaced with more vegetables like mangetout, carrots and cabbage.

 200 g mee hoon/rice vermicelli, soaked in cold water, then hot until it cooks al dente and drained
½ onion, sliced
5 fishballs, halved
50 g anchovies
1 block of tofu (100-200 g)
2 cups of beansprouts
1 egg, beaten and seasoned with salt
2 stalks spring onions, chopped

Spice paste
½ onion
4-5 cloves garlic
10 dried chillies, soaked until soft (1 hour or more)
1 teaspoon belacan/shrimp paste
50 ml water

1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
1-2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

Shallow fry the tofu and fishballs over medium heat. Remove from heat and slice the tofu into cubes. Keep them aside for later.

Blend the spice paste ingredients until smooth. Fry it in 2 tablespoon of oil over medium heat until the colour is darker and the paste turns lumpy.

Add the slices of onion, anchovies and vegetables, if any. Cook for about three minutes before adding the sauces and the noodles. Turn the heat to medium-high/high, pour in the fried tofu and fishballs. Toss everything together until all the noodles are evenly coated with the sauces; the best way to do this is using both spatula and oversized chopsticks (meant for cooking)/tongs.

Make a well in the middle of the noodles, pour in a drop of oil and the beaten eggs. Wait for a moment before stirring the noodles into the egg. The beans sprouts are strewn into the noodles just a couple of minutes before it is removed off the heat. Taste and add some salt if needed and garnish with spring onions. This recipe should serve 2-3 persons.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Claypot noodles

This is a noodle recipe I knocked up using a claypot to stew the soup base in. The soup is a rich, thick broth with plenty of vegetables and meat. You don’t have to use a claypot to cook this, however, the subtle flavours which earthenware cooking lends to the food cooked in it are not found in metal pots and pans. Nevertheless, it should still taste good and it makes a great warming dinner on a wet, cold evening!

½ onion, sliced
2 minced garlic cloves
¼ Chinese cabbage, chopped into big chunks
1 carrot, sliced
5 young corn, cut into chunks
300 g boneless chicken meat, cubed
2 ½  cups of chicken stock (1 stock cube diluted in boiling water)
Corn starch (1 teaspoon corn flour mixed into 1 tablespoon water)
1 spring onion, cut into small chunks
1 egg
2 servings of dried egg noodles (approximately 50 g/serving). I used thick, flat ones, but you can use any noodle shapes desired.
White pepper

1 tablespoon thick, dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce

Minced garlic
Sliced green chillies or pickled chillies
Soy sauce

Sauté the onion and garlic in two desert spoons of oil in a heated claypot. Add the chicken to the frying ingredients, followed by the vegetables after five minutes. Pour the chicken stock and sauces in shortly afterwards, place the lid on and allow it to simmer on low heat for about ten minutes. Season the soup with white pepper, and additional salt if needed.

Place the bundles of dried noodles at the bottom of the pot, piling the vegetables and meat on top of the noodles. Allow it to cook with the lid on (for as long as instructed on it's packaging- the noodles I cooked required three minutes). When the noodles are cooked add spring onions to the soup. Pour the corn starch in and stir quickly to thicken the remaining soup. Break an egg over the top, put the lid back on and turn the heat off. The egg will be semi-cooked in the residual heat of the soup while you are preparing the condiments.

Stir the egg into the soup and serve up with condiments. This recipe serves two.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Tamarind rice

Tamarind rice may have originated as a temple offering in India, although it has been enjoyed outside religious grounds for centuries. Tamarind rice is a very easy way of jazzing up regular white rice, especially if it is served without an accompanying curry or gravy, such as a tapas dish or part of a salad.

This tamarind rice recipe is faithful to how my mum makes it at home.

1 cup of rice
1 ½ cup water
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
½  teaspoon spice mix (thalippu)
½ teaspoon fenugreek
1 stalk curry leaves
½ onion, diced
2 dried chillies, cut into chunks

Wash and cook the rice with 1 ½ cup of water and some salt. This should be enough water for the given rice, so let it evaporate away when the rice is cooked. 

Sauté the spice mix, fenugreek, curry leaves, dried chillies and onion in a dessert spoon of oil. Dissolve the tamarind paste into ½ cup of water and sieve out the seeds and other solid bits. 

Then pour the tamarind water into the frying pan along with the turmeric powder and rice. Mix well and let the excess water evaporate off before serving.

Tip: You can add peanuts and cooked lentils in the rice to give it some texture.