had a homecooked dinner for 22pax RI friends on 6.2.2015. 🙂
these group of friends were mostly of the committee that organised the recent RI reunion dinner on 22.12.2014 attended by 118 old schoolmates & 10 teachers. well done people!^^
i prepared 12 dishes including 2 desserts. & a friend brought shepherd’s pie & another brought cookies.
shepherd’s pie was very good. my daughter had some from the little leftover the next day & she thought the potatoes were moist & soft & the beef flavour was good.
maybe i should try making this too. shepherd’s pie is a great party food.
#1 my helper’s thai prawn tanhoon is usually a very appetising dish, spicy, tangy, tasty. this evening though it seemed to be a bit dry. about 1/4 was leftover (where usually it is finished). a friend (who comes for dinner regularly) later told me that some parts the taste was not quite the usual he had. not sure why, maybe the quantity was too much for the wok & the tanhoon was not mixed consistently.
#2 i did a Nobu miso cod. it can be pre cooked & served cold, and the miso firmed up the flaky texture of cod so it is easier to cut into small serving pieces.^^
#3 i did my usual poached chicken 白斩鸡. this is easy to prepare dish. on this day though, i was dreaming & removed the chicken after 10mins boiling (w/o poaching it for another 20mins) & placed in ice water. though i recovered by poaching it again for longer 25mins, the temperature change caused the parts near the bones to be red/pink when i deboned it later. so i had to poach the cut pieces another time. sian! haha!
i asked several friends afterwards & they all thought the chicken was alright (& well finished), i guess it was quite ok but the moist, glistening look (like the duck had in photos below) was gone & the meat would be less tasty.
#4 盐水鸭 spicy poached duck was a replacement dish (i went 3 times to get salmon belly for miso salmon but they were unavailable). this nanjing 盐水鸭 is a 风味鸭, a bit more exotic flavours with sichuan peppercorn chillies.
it is 1 of my favourites as it has less strong flavours c/w teochew braised duck 卤鸭 & is often served as a starter in taiwanese restaurants & in shanghai, nanjing etc, the 江南region.
#5 蒜泥白肉 spicy garlic pork had been a crowd favourite in my dinners (when i served chinese food). it was easy to make as i adapted the pot roast method (cold crockpot on low slow gentle braising). so i just needed to place the belly pork in a cold crockpot with water (added salt & sugar for brining) on low for 5hrs to temperature 79degC.^^
the only thing left to do was just to prepare the spicy sichuan sauce to drizzle over the pork & japanese cucumbers.
#6 my helper makes a very good spicy pork ribs, so that is a staple in my chinese dinners. one friend repeatedly proclaimed how much he liked the dish.^^
#7 my dry wok prawns combined pan-grilled bbq flavours with a baked-in-shell moist texture + the nice flavours of chilli padi & fish sauce infused under high wok temperature. always a popular dish.
#8 my helper’s sambal seabass, another bedrock of my chinese dinners, was almost cleaned up before my “professional photographers” had time to train their cameras.^^
#9 the spicy seafood fried rice was modelled after crystal jade lamian xialongbao’s. unable to match that, but it was pretty good with bismati long grain rice & nice sichuan peppercorn chilli flavours.
#10 my helper’s poached romaine lettuce with shitake is also a regular in my chinese dinners (usually she uses hk kailan but this time it was romaine lettuce just as good).^^
#11 everyone fell in love with the tofu cheese cake. maybe the trick was just to cut an ultra thin slice, so everyone thought it was so good & clamouring to have more. a friend had 3 helpings.^^
#12 one friend had a photo with him holding up the emptied tiramisu dish & biting the serving spoon (like nadal biting his grand slam champions trophy). i think tiramisu was just as well received but tofu cheesecake was a bit less common so everyone was intrigued by it.^^
a friend brought very nice cookies – almond, shortbread & mamor.
now i am thinking of trying almond & shortbread. mamor looked too exquisite & too high effort-to-results ratio for lazy & utilitarian me. told her if i want it, i will just invite her. haha!
another friend brought 6 bottles of wine & another the whole ice box with water & softdrinks.
there was also grapes. another friend packed a fruit basket for me so we were eating custard apples, mangosteens, chiku, guava, mango etc for the next several days.
& a friend brought some seaweed & almond biscuits.^^
it was really a fun, enjoyable & most satisfying get-together.
i have been applying the pot roast method using a crockpot (slow cooker) to produce very tender & moist & more gentle slow-braised meats. 🙂
i tried it very successfully on 蒜泥白肉, spicy garlic pork, and i used it once also to make a good braised belly pork, pig ears & ter tau bak (猪头肉).
for this 10pax lunch for my friends on 17.9.2014, i added braised pork trotters & also kampong chicken.
the gentle braising started with a cold crockpot on low & took about 4-5hrs to produce the very tender & still firm texture (“kar kar”) which i prefer over the more overcooked soft texture. i was able to reproduce the same tasty braising sauce. see the detail steps in the recipe here.
i used the braising sauce for the tau kua & lor nerng (braised egg) to infuse the flavours. i cheated for the tau pok & added water to dilute the braise as tau pok absorbs too much & i won’t have any sauce left for the “kueh chap”. 🙂
i braised the ter kar (pork trotters) separately by the same method, and took out some braising sauce to do the big intestines separately.
the big intestines from sheng shiong were already cleaned but i could not take the risk so i washed them thoroughly then rubbed with flour and salt & turned inside out. of course all the meats were scalded with boiling water to remove the scums before braising.
getting feedback from the friends –
- they all felt the dishes (belly pork, ear, pig head meat & trotter) were all quite ok comparable with good hawkers, both taste & texture.
- one mentioned that the intestines were good w/o the odour (even though it was still a strong tasting dish) and good texture.
- another didn’t think the intestine was as good as these were the thicker-walled tua terng tau (大肠头) whereas usually the ones outside were the thinner walled type. it’s just that on this day sheng shiong did not have the thinner walled type. 😦
- & of course they all noted as i did that i added the braising sauce to the trotters & big intestines but forgot to add to the 2 large plates of belly pork/ear/pig head meat & tua kua/tau pok/lor nerng. that would have enhanced the flavours. the braising sauce were used up after diluting for the “kueh chap” which i used hor fun to substitute as i could not get the flat sheet kueh chap. one thought the kueh chap sauce was a bit sweet though it was ok for me.
- one friend missed the “crunchy” birth intestines (生肠) i made last time. this time round sheng shiong did not have 生肠 so bought large intestines instead. not quite the same i guess. 🙂
- & i thought my pig trotters was almost the standard of 幸福潮州小食 pig trotter at whampoa, and much better than the han jia bakuteh pig trotters at east coast lagoon food village.
i was confident of my poached kampong chicken, which was tender, moist & sweet.
a friend brought 1kg of shi0 bak (roast belly pork). it was really good. just look at the crackling skin + the really nice meat layers colour. texture & taste was excellent. this motivated me to want to try again to do this difficult roast pork dish. 🙂
my helper did a garlic broccoli everyone liked it!
i experimented on a slow braised beef briskets & ribs with daikon (radish) & carrots but it was not good & we did not take photos. i will give it another try again, having thought about how i can do it differently & hopefully better. 🙂
tiramisu was a crowd favourite. one friend had 3 helpings and all enjoyed this light & very flavourful tiramisu recipe.
蒜泥白肉, a spicy garlic pork, is a common sichuan dish which i like but don’t take often.
it was 1 of the dishes i explored when planning a “fine” chinese menu for 11pax RI friends on 5.5.2014. 🙂
i also tried drunken chicken. it was ok but several friends though my chicken rice chicken白斩鸡(a much easier preparation) was better. i tried ter kar tan (teochew pig trotter jelly) but so far not very successful. the other which i have not yet try out is 镇江肴肉, a cured pig trotter terrine.
i already produced a very tender belly pork by brining in sugar & salt & then using the crockpot method – place the belly pork in a crockpot & add enough brine to cover completely, turn on crockpot to low & cook for about 4hrs (OR use a meat thermometer set at 76degC & off the crockpot when alarm sounds).
i felt that the key to a good 蒜泥白肉 is a good sauce. so i googled & picked what i thought would be a good sauce recipe for 蒜泥白肉.
i added 1/3 cup light soy sauce (80ml), 2 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 cm sliced ginger, 1 cinnamon bark, 1 clove, 2 anise seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin to 1/2 cup stock (chicken or from the pork) to a pan on low fire. i then added 4 cloves chopped garlic, 2 chopped shallots & 2 tablespoon sichuan spicy chilli oil. i heat it for until fragrant (5mins or more). i checked the taste. it should be very mildly sweet, just slight spicy & quite fragrant/flavourful. sliced the belly pork thinly, lay out on a dish with sliced zucchini, & drizzle the sauce over the pork. serve. 🙂
- 400g belly pork
- small zucchini (sliced)
- 1/3 cup light soy sauce (80ml)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 cm sliced ginger
- 1 cinnamon bark
- 1 clove
- 2 anise seeds
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 cup stock (chicken stock or from the pork)
- 4 cloves chopped garlic
- 2 chopped shallots
- 2 tbsp sichuan spicy chilli oil
- scald the belly pork in boiling water to remove scum. place in 600ml water (or enough to cover the pork fully) with 2 heap tbsp sugar & 1 heap tbsp salt & brine for 48hrs. placed the belly pork in a crockpot (cold) & add enough brine to cover completely, turn on crockpot to low for cook for about 4hrs (or use a meat thermometer set at 76degC & off the crockpot when alarm sounds).
- add 1/3 cup light soy sauce (80ml), 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 cm sliced ginger, 1 cinnamon bark, 1 clove, 2 anise seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin to 1/2 cup stock (chicken or from the pork) to pan on low fire. add 4 cloves chopped garlic, 2 chopped shallots & 2 tbsp sichuan spicy chilli oil. heat until fragrant (5mins or more). check the taste. it should be very mildly sweet, just slight spicy & quite fragrant/flavourful.
- slice the belly pork thinly, lay out on a dish with sliced zucchini, & drizzle the sauce over the pork. serve.
time passes us by. my brother’s & sister’s birthday fall on 14June. since i had started cooking for 2 years hence, and had hosted many homecooked dinners, i wanted to do a homecooked chinese dinner for my brother & sister. 🙂
the chinese dishes i planned were simple stuff like chicken & duck & belly pork. there’s also fish & 2 vege as they both like vege. i added a lamb as my sister like lamb. my niece & her husband are buddhist & vegetarian, so i cooked a pesto pasta for them. also i had the tofu cheese cake. 🙂
#1 chicken rice chicken 白斩鸡 was a favourite when i did my 27pax homecooked buffet for my RI friends recently on 28.5.2014. it was brined in sugar & salt water for 48hrs, then 10minutes simmering & 20 minutes poached in hot water, and placed in ice water bath to taut the skin & stop cooking. this time though i only tried a small slice of breast meat, but it did not seem as sweet, juicy & tasty as it usually were. 😦
#2 the 盐水鸭 (dry salt spice brined duck) though was very good this time. it was flavourful yet not too intense, and the meat was tender as the boil-poach preparation (similar to 白斩鸡 but 15mins+30minutes for duck) produced a more gently cooked meat. i applied a dry brine of salt, sugar, cinnamon bark, anise seeds, clove, bay leaves, and sichuan chilli pepper for 48hrs. 🙂
when cutting & tasting the breast which was thicker than the thigh, i felt the breast meat was less flavourful. so perhaps i will reserve thigh meat for this preparation & breast meat for the sous vide duck a l’orange. 🙂
#3 “sous vide” char siew was a bit too fat but melt-in-the-mouth tender after 5hrs at 90degC in the oven & quick pan-grilled with butter. it was marinated for 3 days & well infused & tasty, but after many attempts i felt the marinade recipe i used was still not the best tasting & not comparable with my miso belly pork, which marinade requires a much simpler preparation. 🙂
#4 my brother loved the 蒜泥白肉 ( spicy garlic pork). this was also a crowd favourite during my recent 27pax homecooked buffet dinner for RI friends. 🙂
actually i over added the sichuan chilli so the sauce was overly spicy. i had to drizzle less sauce than i usually did. the sauce was made from light soy sauce, sugar, chopped garlic, chopped onions, sliced ginger, cinnamon bark, anise seed, dash of cumin & sichuan chilli. the belly pork was done using the crockpot method – in cold water on low for about 4hrs. this another inventive method of slow cooking as it starts from room temperature & very slowly gets to boiling & remain simmering not hard boiling thus retaining the moisture. pork & skin were very tender. 🙂
#5 my sister like lamb so i did a miso preparation for a cheap lamb shoulder chop. the lamb was marinated for 3 days in miso to infuse the flavours. it was then placed in the marinade bath in the oven at 90degC for 5hrs. this meat has lots of connective tissues & so very tough & not easy to make tender. 90degC happens to be the optimum temperature to convert collagen (the tough connective tissues) to tasty excellent texture gelatine. this time though i forgot to remove from oven & it dried out a bit c/w a quite perfect preparation for a 11pax sit-down dinner i had for RI friends recently on 5.5.2014.
as my niece & her husband are vegetarians, i prepared a separate vegetarian dish, a pesto spaghetti with grilled eggplant, zucchini & mushrooms for them. this was a very tasty dish that i experimented/recreated after very good meals during my recent travels to lake como, cinque terre & milan. 🙂
the pesto was made with pine nuts (i used almonds as substitute as pine nuts are very ex), spinach, basil, cheese & olive oil & a dash of salt, and blended. the pesto & grilled eggplant, zucchini & mushrooms were added to the pasta & tossed, with a teaspoon of sugar, some white wine & sea salt to taste. 🙂
#6 fried large prawns with leek was quite poor this time. the leek was “sek” somehow very tough. usually i cooked it just right so it was still brightly green but soft & tasty. this time i had to cook it very long till blackish to get it to soften. i did not try the prawns but my wife & daughter both thought the prawns were poor. i knew the prawns were large & very fresh when i cut the heads & shelled. & the butter pan-grilled method always produce a very tasty, slightly bbq flavour prawns. but because i had to heat up the dish 3 times, even though i took out the prawns & put back each time, the steam got into the prawns & the meat became “hu hu” i.e. mushy.
#7 the shorthand 佛跳墙 (buddha jump over the wall) was a dish i modelled after the very nice soup jh’s father (a chef) made. i used pig trotters, thick mushrooms, belly pork, dried scallops & also 2 cans of cheap limpets (S$10/can). 🙂
#8 auntie bes made a teochew steamed pomfret (did not take photo). this time though the pomfret was not very fresh & had a “chow chor” (fishy) taste. 😦
#9 腐乳油麦菜 (fermented bean curd romaine lettuce) is a common zi char dish e.g. kok sen. this time 腐乳 & chilli were just right & my wife liked it. 🙂
#10 香汁蒸蘑菇鸡饭 (HK styled steamed chicken, mushrooms, chinese sausage rice) is the common steamed rice dish in hk’s dim sum restaurants, usually they used chicken feet and/or pork ribs, drizzled with tasty black sauce. the sauce is very important. it is easily made – just 1 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tsp dark sauce, 1 tbsp sugar & 6 tbsp water or to taste. it looked dark but was not salty & quite perfect taste – mildly sweet & nice soy flavour. 🙂
#11 just as in my 27pax recent gathering, the tofu cheese cake was again a crowd favourite. it is the easiest of dessert, a no bake very light cheese cake. the simplest of recipes = 200g cream cheese, 200g silken tofu, 200ml yogurt, 100ml whipped cream, 4 tbsp brown sugar (60g), 2 tbsp lime juice (30ml), & dissolved 3 tsp gelatine powder (15g) in 50ml hot water, then blend & pour over the biscuit base (made with 7 digestive biscuits (105g) & 60g melted butter). 🙂