RI Buddies 11pax Homecooked 11-course Chinese Dinner on 5May2014

wanted to try out some chinese dishes, so got my usual RI gang to be guinea pigs once again for an 11-course dinner for 11pax on 5.5.2014. 🙂

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500g paradiso cake from swissbake at 5th avenue

got a paradiso cake too from swissbake at 5th avenue to celebrate 1 of our friend’s birthday. 🙂

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#1 蒜泥白肉

i always find chinese cooking to be much more challenging than western (re my “worthwhile to do?” philosophy). i do a good steak, Nobu miso cod, teriyaki cod, and good pasta & paella, risotto etc, and sometimes comparable to a good restaurant even, sans the artisan garnishes, sides & plating etc. 🙂

many good chinese dishes are equally hard to do but not associated with fine dining (e.g. serving up a very good whole steamed fish does not usually evoke fine dining but serving a steamed cod fillet chinese or fusion style is somehow fine dining? or i guess there is a reason in that fine dining is about the entire experience & not just the food). much of it though i suspect is market forces & cultural programming about what fine dining is.

#1 蒜泥白肉. this a new dish for me. tried once with belly pork, and this evening with lean pork. i realised that the key was getting the right sauce recipe. the sauce this evening was excellent as everyone commented, mildly sweet, spicy, tasty sauce (we all used it for the 白斩鸡 which meant the 白斩鸡 was not tasty enough..lol). 🙂 need to improve on the dish & plating though. may try loin or neck, not sure, or go back to belly pork. 🙂

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#2 drunken chicken 醉鸡

#2 drunken chicken 醉鸡. this was done the same way as 白斩鸡 but 1 day ahead for the shao xing wine marinade (绍兴酒) to infuse. the new recipe i used produced a more tender juicy chicken with nice yellow colour. for this i cut chicken in 1/2, placed in boiling water (with spring onions, red onion, garlic, salt & some tumeric) & turned down to just more than a simmer for 10 minutes, left in the hot water for 15mins to 20mins, then transfer to a ice water bath. then marinade in 1 cup 绍兴酒 1/2cup chicken stock, 1 tablespoon sugar. 🙂

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#3 sous vide char siew (1 of 2 best dishes)

#3 sous vide char siew. this was 1 of 2 best dishes for the evening, i think everyone’s favourites. (the other was poor man’s buddha-jump-over-the-wall). 🙂 again the char siew marinade was key. i had the char siew marinated in a ziploc bag for 3days, then cooked in a marinade bath in oven at 90degC for 5hrs.

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#3 sous vide char siew (1 of 2 best dishes)

hmmm…ok i am still ogling this now. it had such wonderful flavours & melt-in-the-mouth texture. 🙂

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#4 白斩鸡

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#4 白斩鸡

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#4 白斩鸡

#4 白斩鸡. same method as drunken chicken, but i brined the chicken in water with salt & sugar first for 2 days. water molecules would infuse the chicken by diffusion & sugar & salt molecules by reverse osmosis, so the chicken would be moist (as in above photos) & tender & also tasty. 1 friend commented the texture was very good, better than the drunken chicken. however in managing so many dishes i forgot to add a touch of fish sauce to bring out the taste further. i did this the next day on some leftovers for a portion i kept for my daughter & it was excellent. 🙂

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#5 盐水鸭

#5 盐水鸭. this dish was my very first attempt & it turned out superbly well, a wonderfully flavoured dish, which everyone commented. 🙂 again the marinade was the key. i googled a recipe & marinated the duck for 24hrs. was initially supposed to do a tea smoked duck using the 5hr liquid bath sous vide method (like the char siew) but it worked better with breast & i always had leftover duck legs so decided to experiment the new 盐水鸭 dish with leftover duck legs. 🙂

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#6 poor man’s buddha-jump-over-the-wall (bjotw)

#6 poor man’s buddha-jump-over-the-wall (bjotw). this was my best attempt so far, excellent, very flavourful & intense, as all my friends commented. 🙂 just pig trotters, mushrooms, belly pork, and limpets masquerading as abalones..lol. 🙂 the soup was running low for 11 bowls but i did not want to add chicken stock which would dilute the intense flavours.

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#7 HK steamed garoupa

#7 HK steamed garoupa. this had been like a reliable, “always good”, “staple” dish & the garnishing & sauce were still good but unfortunately the fish was somehow not the best. i had gotten it from chinatown 2 days before & they had always been good & but let down on this occasion. sigh. 😦

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#8 romaine lettuce with fermented bean curd 腐乳油麦菜

#8 romaine lettuce with fermented bean curd 腐乳油麦菜. this was what was served in almost all zi char restaurants & a really excellent one i had was at kok sen at kiong siak street. 🙂 this evening my version was quite ok with some wok hae, not too salty & still with the nice taste of the fermented bean curd.

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#9 my version of pineapple prawns

pineapple prawns

the real thing – shin yeh’s pineapple prawns

#9 pineapple prawns. was trying to rehash shin yeh’s dish…lol. both prawns & pineapples tasted ok i guessed. plating was million miles behind…haha. 🙂 satisfaction as a dish i guess was quite behind my dry wok prawns, but good to have variation and not same dish everytime.

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#10 miso lamb chops

#10 miso lamb chops.  this my very first attempt. i do a good pistachio crusted rack of lamb but no other variations, so decided to do a 3day miso marinade on a cheap frozen lamb cut & coincide the 5hr sous vide bath in 90degC oven with the char siew (to save electricity). 90degC is also the optimum temperature (fastest) for conversion of collagen the tough connective tissues to gelatine with excellent texture & flavours. 🙂

the result was a very tasty flavourful lamb. the miso was not enough to cover or remove the very strong gamey taste (or we say “hiang” or “bah woo” in teochew=not a good thing) but it was tasty nonetheless though many who did not take lamb for that reason would likely not like this. 🙂

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#11 HK steamed chicken, mushrooms, chinese sausage rice

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#11 HK steamed chicken, mushrooms, chinese sausage rice

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#11 HK steamed chicken, mushrooms, chinese sausage rice

#11 HK steamed chicken, mushrooms, chinese sausage rice. this was a very easy dish to make. the key again was the marinade for the chicken & the drizzling sauce, & i took my wife’s feedback & bought some xo chinese sausages (cost 2x the red wine sausages but nothing c/w – like 25% the cost of – spanish chorizo..lol..). chicken was marinated 1 day before, and once rice cooker starts to steam just add in sausage, chicken & mushrooms. and voila! the chicken was extremely tender & tasty & the sausage super nice…could see how 1 friend was walloping them…haha. 🙂

can improve further. anyway a very fun evening with very good friends & very shiok ie satisfying for me. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

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Great Value 20pax Dinner @ Shin Yeh on 22Jan2014

咸水鸡 - similar to drunken chicken

咸水鸡 – similar to drunken chicken

organiser of RI friends’ dinner this month wanted to do it at a taiwanese porridge place & chose shin yeh,a tunglok restaurant. this dinner get-together was the most successful by far – we had initially 22pax, 2 could not attend last minute, still we had 20pax on 2 tables on 22.1.2014.

i had the amex palate discounts – 20% for 5-20pax. the restaurant called & i spoke with the manager who initially said we could not get discounts as we were 22pax. i gently told her it didn’t make sense – the worse case would be that we had our 20% discount for 20pax & no discounts for 2pax – & perhaps we should take our business elsewhere. the manager was sensible enough to say she would split the bill for us but that this was an exception. whatever! its a competitive world out there & business was not that great that evening. in any case as we finally settled as 20pax, no rules were broken!

i went earlier with the organiser to order ala carte from the menu (there was no discount for set menus & as always when festivity is near – CNY – set menus were very ex & often offer poor value).

we usually avoid appetiser & tea as they added heftily to the bill. in this case though tea was S$12 for the table (seemed like same S$12 for another number of diners on a table) so it was just S$1.20pax & very reasonable. we could have done without the S$5 appetisers which were just bah kua but anyway we reduced to 2 a table so just S$10 for 10pax. ok lah… 🙂

sweet & sour soon hock

sweet & sour soon hock S$32×2

pineapple prawns S$24

pineapple prawns

we picked 10 dishes.

#1 咸水鸡 – a cold dish similar to drunken chicken, was good. meat was sweet & good shaoxing wine flavour.

#2 we decided to take the staff’s recommendation & ordered 2 sweet & sour soon hock for each table. it was cheap compared with live fish, and the preparation made it quite tasty dish.

$3 another staff recommendation was the prawn with pineapple. this was good too. the prawn preparation was like a wasabi or salted egg prawn, lightly deep-fried. the pineapple added zest to the dish. 🙂 the staff suggested that this dish was more unique than taking live prawns.

三杯中卷 - 3 cup squid

三杯中卷 - 3 cup squid S$20

roast chicken S$36

roast chicken S$36

oyster egg

oyster egg S$16

pig trotters with squid & prawns

元蹄 pig trotters with squid & prawns S$28

#4 the 三杯中卷 (squid) was good too. 三杯 (3-cup) is a common preparation in taiwan & hakka dishes = 1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup cooking wine, 1 cup sesame oil. & since we already had a cold chicken dish & another whole roast chicken, we picked squid instead.

#5 the whole roast chicken with five-spice salt dip was tasty enough with crispy skin. it was kind of small though.

#6 the oyster egg was ok average dish.

#7 the 元蹄 pork trotter with prawns & squid was good – great taste & texture, uncommon to have prawns & squid in the preparation but an welcome addition.

braised tofu with minced pork

braised tofu with minced pork S$28

some mushrooms dish

some mushrooms dish S$24

mustard green with dried scallops

mustard green with dried scallops

complimentary mochi

complimentary mochi

we ordered 1 tofu & 2 vegetable dishes.

#8 the braised tofu with minced pork was good.

#9 the mushroom dish was quite unique though the price was to me unattractive, S$24 for medium portion c/w S$32 for the roast chicken.

#10 mustard green with dried scallop was small but always tasty dish with the dried scallops (瑶柱)

the restaurant provided a free mua chee (mochi) dessert. we were quite full already so did not add any dessert orders.

food was competent, quite good really. the bill after 20% discounts came to S$594nett for 20pax or S$30pax, so it was really great value. the service staff were great – responsive, polite & helpful. shin yeh though can be quite expensive (e.g. the soup of the day was S$10pax so it really depends on the food & portions you order). we were able to order fish, prawns, chicken & pork trotters that were substantial & not costly, so we had a great meal, enjoyable evening get-together at very reasonable cost. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Comfort Food to Return to @ Crystal Jade Lamian Xiaolongbao at Taka on 2Sep2013

saliva chicken (口水鸡)

saliva chicken (口水鸡)

we had our G8 dinner at crystal jade lamian xiaolongbao @ takashimaya on 2.9.2013. 🙂

the food was mostly excellent overall for the price, though 1 of our friends could not take fatty food and was just having plain chicken soup lamian & another could not take some of the mala dishes.

salt water duck (咸水鸭)

salt water duck (咸水鸭)

4 coloured xialongbao

4 coloured xialongbao

抄手 - spicy dumplings

抄手 – spicy dumplings

for starters we had 2 cold dishes, saliva chicken (口水鸡) & salt water duck (咸水鸭). both were very good! 🙂 the saliva chicken was mala (麻辣) with peppercorn (花椒), & very flavourful with a kick but you must like mala to enjoy! the duck was good & tasty but still not the standard of shin yeh, tunglok’s taiwanese restaurant at liang court.

the xiaolongbao at crystal jade is very good, and they were having 50% discount for the 4-coloured xialongbao – vege (green), mala (orange), truffle (black). usual (plain) – so 4 for S$3.10 instead S$6.20. we ordered 4trays x4 for 8pax. the spicy dumpling here was also very good, c/w the spicy dumplings we had at royal china. 🙂

stir-fried beef

stir-fried beef

sichuan song fish head (剁椒鱼头)

sichuan song fish head (剁椒鱼头)

for mains, we had a stir-fried beef (the usual bicarbonate tenderised version) with 2 mushrooms & black fungus – this dish not so “lak ku” (in demand). the 剁椒鱼头 (sichuan version using song fish head) fared much better. it was very good but i still prefer the HK style or chilli black bean sauce style, like those at 香港街 stalls or food centres.

plain chicken soup la mian 清汤拉面

plain chicken soup la mian 清汤拉面

beef brisket + tendon lamian

beef brisket + tendon lamian

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for carbo we ordered 2 seafood fried rice. this my new love affair. rice was very “tiok tiok” (means al dente not mushy each long grain separate & not sticking together) very fragrant & with lots of seafood ingredients. we ordered 2 portions (2xS$14.50) for 8pax.

we also had 1 plain chicken soup la mian 清汤拉面 for 1 friend who could not take fatty food, and 1 beef brisket + tendon lamian to share. it was very good but 1 friend like me preferred the HK ngaolammeen (牛腩面) – why cannot find in Singapore leh?

aloe vera with wolfberries

aloe vera with wolfberries

sesame dumplings in ginger tea 姜茶汤圆

sesame dumplings in ginger tea 姜茶汤圆

all 3 desserts we ordered were good. the osmanthus aloe vera with wolfberries was very refreshing. so was the almond taohuay with black jelly (forgot to take photo) & the sesame dumplings in ginger tea 姜茶汤圆 were just great! 🙂

dinner was S$194 for 8pax, just over S$24pax. we had a jolly good time & good food, a bit heavy on the carbo side though. haha! 🙂

c.h.e.f andy