Gg’s Dry Beef Hor Fun

My friend Graciana requested for this recipe. So here it is. A simple and very delicious all-in-one-meal stir-fry. I chose to use sirloin here but any preferred cut of meat suitable for stir-frying is fine. The kway teow (flat rice noodle) was purchased at NTUC. It’s pre-packaged and not in the fridge section. Has some cartoon character on it. I think it’s pretty good. Any other kway teow you like it fine too. If it is in the dry form, just make sure to boil and drain it before adding to the pan.  Add as many or little vegetables as you like. If you are adventurous and can be bothered, topping each plate of the piping hot hor fun with an egg yolk to stir through before eating is very yum as well.

Gg’s Dry Beef Hor Fun Recipe:
(serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 2 portions beef sirloin (trimmed and sliced into 2cm strips)
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (medium mince)
  • 1 packet pre-packaged kway teow (room temperature)
  • chye sim (as much as you like – leaves and stems separated, washed and spun dry)
  • bean sprouts (as much as you like, tails picked, washed and spun dry)

Beef Marinade

Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon dark soya sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soya sauce
  • salt and white pepper powder to taste

Directions

  1. Combine beef marinade ingredients except cornstarch. Mix well.
  2. Add beef to marinade. Mix well.
  3. Let beef marinate for 10 to 15 minutes. Add cornstarch and mix well.
  4. Let beef sit in fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.
  5. Combine seasoning ingredients in a bowl. Mix well.
  6. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high fire.
  7. When pan is smoking, add beef and quickly stir-fry till the beef is seared on the outside but not cooked through.
  8. Remove beef and set aside.
  9. In the same pan, heat remaining 3 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium fire.
  10. Once oil is hot but not smoking, add garlic and fry till fragrant and barely golden.
  11. Add kway teow and chye sim and stir well.
  12. Once kway teow and chye sim are well combined, add seasoning and return beef to the pan. Mix well.
  13. Add bean sprouts. Give a good final mix and serve.

Gg’s Mapo Tofu

Mapo Tofu ranks high on my list of comfort foods. I’ve loved since the day I had it. I don’t remember when that happened but I just remember loving it. It came as a very pleasant surprise that my DCM was a fan of it too! What luck! We order it when we eat out and I love cooking it at home. While there’s the packaged sauce which makes an already very easy-to-cook dish even easier, it just doesn’t cut it (I tried it in my younger days and was not impressed). Szechuan pepper powder is key. I’d always made it without until I found a bottle of the stuff in the supermarket, tried it and I’ve never gone back since.

If you are pairing Mapo Tofu with fried rice, cook the Mapo Tofu first and let it braise gently while you cook the fried rice.

Gg’s Mapo Tofu Recipe:
(serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 300 grams minced pork
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • few sprigs spring onions (chopped)
  • 1 block of Fortune brand Chinese Tofu (cut into 8 pieces)

  Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons Lee Kum Kee garlic black bean paste
  • 2 tablespoons Lee Kum Kee chilli bean sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soya sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Szechuan pepper powder
  • ½ teaspoon white sugar
  • ½ cup water

Directions

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a pan over medium fire.
  2. Combine seasoning ingredients in a bowl. Mix well.
  3. Once oil is smoking, add minced pork and stir vigorously to break up pork.
  4. Once pork loses its pink colour, add garlic and toss.
  5. Add seasoning and stir well.
  6. Turn fire down to small.
  7. Add tofu and mix.
  8. Braise uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes and sauce thickens.
  9. Add spring onions and serve.

Gg’s Bacon Fried Rice

Fried rice is something the Mumsy cooks when she is tired, has leftover cooked rice and wants to make a meal fast. You can add almost any ingredient to create a fried rice that is as simple or fancy as you like. Just make sure they complement each other. There aren’t any concrete rules to making fried rice. You add as much of anything as you like. I prefer more ingredients, less rice.

It is important to use rice that is drier when cooking fried rice so you do not end up with mushy fried rice. This also allows you to use a wider variety of seasonings.

Bacon fried rice is probably the simplest to make yet does not compromise on flavour. I mean, bacon anything is good right? No additional oil is added as the bacon renders off enough fat to fry the rice and vegetables. You may pour away the fat if you’re squeamish about bacon fat. I don’t. It’s what makes bacon fried rice so tasty. I used Maple bacon as that was what I had in the fridge but ordinary streaky bacon will do too. I buy the leanest streaky bacon I can find. If you prefer back bacon, you may use that. I am not a back bacon sort of girl. If you have prawns, you may add some to your bacon fried rice. Peel, de-vein and add them after the garlic, just before the cabbage.

My DCM and I really like cabbage and bean sprouts in fried rice. I didn’t add bean sprouts in bacon fried rice as I don’t think the flavour of bean sprouts suits this particular fried rice. Corn and asparagus would be great additions to bacon fried rice. It’s really up to your own personal preference.

Gg’s Bacon Fried Rice Recipe:
(serves 2)

Ingredients

  1. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  2. 3 eggs (beaten)
  3. 6 rashers Maple bacon (or more if you like)
  4. 2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  5. ½ head of small cabbage (roughly shredded)
  6. 2 servings cooked rice (fluffed with a fork)
  7. few sprigs spring onions (chopped)

Seasoning

  1. 2 tablespoons soya sauce
  2. Salt and white pepper powder (to taste)

Directions

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a pan over medium fire.
  2. Add eggs to pan.
  3. Let eggs set into an omelette.

  1. Use a fork to break up the omelette into small pieces.

  1. Leaving the fire on, dish egg and set aside.
  2. Add bacon to pan and mix around.

  1. Let bacon crisp and render some of its fat.
  1. Once bacon is crisp, add garlic and fry till fragrant.

  1. Add cabbage and rice. Mix well.

  1. Turn fire to high.
  2. Add cooked eggs.
  3. Season and fry till cabbage is cooked.
  4. Dish and garnish with spring onions.

Who Marinates Fish?

I do! And it is awesome!

I am not a fan of cooked salmon. I don’t mind it as sashimi. I can eat A LOT of  smoked salmon or Gravlax. But the moment it’s cooked, YUCK! I want to run away and hide. However my DCM really likes salmon in all its glory, so it stays on my grocery list. It’s also a good source of Omega 3 as well as other unique health benefits.

What’s a girl to do then? Marinate it! Salmon has such a strong flavour it can take almost anything you do to it. I came up with a chinky marinade based on the stuff I had in the kitchen, threw the salmon fillets in and let them soak up the chinkiness for 2 days.

Salmon + Hoisin = Love

To go with the chinky theme, I cooked some rice and fried up some chinky-style vegetables to go with my chinky salmon, cooked in an un-chinky manner. I grilled it in the oven! This is now my new favourite method of cooking fish fillets. No mess, no fuss, no flipping. Always perfect results. See recipe here.

My DCM said the salmon was good and cleaned his plate. And, for the first time I didn’t want to run and hide eating cooked salmon.

I leave you with this quote: “A man is but a mere piece of meat marinated by the juices of his successes” – Anthony Mojarro

Rice Rice Rice

Cutting stalks at noontime.  Perspiration drips to the earth.  Know you that your bowl of rice each grain from hardship comes? ” ~ Chang Chan-Pao

I am Chinese so I must be able to cook rice.

Growing up, the Mumsy always cooked rice. Now that I don’t live with the Parentals anymore, I have to cook rice when I want to eat it. You may think that it’s a really simple thing to do and it actually is but for someone who’s never done it, it can be rather daunting. Especially when the Mumsy always churned out perfectly cooked rice. I have become extremely fussy about rice.

Perfectly cooked rice is when each rice grain still holds its shape after being cooked all the way through. This means it’s not mushy and clumpy. Mushy, clumpy rice is disgusting. If that happens to your rice, add a lot more water to it and let it boil slowly on the stove, stirring constantly till you get porridge.

After consulting the Mumsy and doing a little research, I’ve come up with what I deem is the best way of cooking rice so it’s perfect everytime. So easy too! You do it in the microwave! We never had a rice cooker and I do not understand the concept of boiling rice on the stove. The Mumsy always cooked rice in the microwave.

Why bother with another space-wasting appliance in the kitchen? Everyone these days has a microwave right? I use a cheap little claypot I found at some random ghetto shop. It costs me $4. So any microwave safe container with a lid that allows some steam to escape will do.

Gg's cheap little claypot

The key to getting fluffy, grainy cooked rice is the water to rice ratio. 1.5:1. The Mumsy says 1:1 but then she cooks the rice with the lid off and adds water after 10 minutes of cooking if she feels the rice is too dry; then cooks it for another 5 minutes with the lid on. Some sites I read say 2:1 but that produced mushy rice. So, I tried 1.5:1 and I got perfect rice.

If you’re apprehensive cooking rice for the first time, I think it is better to start with lesser water. This means that if the rice turns out too dry, you can do what the Mumsy does and just add a bit more water before microwaving for another 5 minutes. I also like soaking my rice first to get rid of some of the starch.

Soaking the rice

Leftover rice, kept in the fridge up to a week in an airtight container is great for fried rice. This is what I do when I randomly want to cook fried rice but have no leftover rice sitting in the fridge. I cook rice the usual way (see recipe below) but for 15 instead of 12.5 minutes, chuck the cooled rice into the fridge, uncovered; for as long as possible before frying it.You want a dryer rice when cooking fried rice so it absorbs seasonings better and you do not end up with wet, mushy fried rice.

Should you think plain white rice is boring, substitute some water for a stock of your choice, add some butter, soy sauce or spices into the water or even raisins, cranberries, cooked ginkgo nuts, wolfberries, etc.

Soya sauce-flavoured rice cooked for fried rice

FYI, save the water from soaking and washing the rice to water your plants if you have any. A tip I learnt from the Mumsy and my grandma. The starch and trace amount of minerals (nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus) in the water are beneficial to plants.

Gg’s Perfect Steamed Rice Recipe:
(serves 2)

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Soak rice in tap water for 20 minutes.
  2. Drain and wash (use your hand to gently swish the rice around in the water). Repeat process until the water is clear.
  3. Drain as much water as possible during the final draining.
  4. Add reserved tap water. Make sure all the rice is covered by water.
  5. Cover with lid and microwave for 12.5 minutes.
  6. Leave rice in the microwave to sit and rest UNDISTURBED for another 5 to 10 minutes.