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Posted by crizlai On February - 26 - 2010

I did mention earlier in my Chinese New Year reunion dinner post that my family has a special dipping sauce for our steamboat instead of the usual hoisin sauce, chopped garlic with bird’s eyes chilies in soy sauce or bottled chili sauce that most family would have as condiments. Let me share with you this simple and appetizing SWEET & CRUNCHY DIPPING SAUCE recipe for almost any meat or seafood dishes.

250gms red sweet sauce (紅甜醬/tim zheong)
1 thumb size young ginger (slice thinly and cut into strips)
100gms chicken fat/skin/lard (cut into 2” strips)

1. Heat up 4 tablespoon of oil in a wok in high fire.
2. Lower the fire to medium and put the chicken fat. Slowly sauté the fat until crispy brown. Scoop up and place on a kitchen towel to seep the excess oil. When cool, cut into smaller chunks.
3. Heat up the remaining oil and sauté the ginger strips until golden brown.
4. Put in the sweet sauce and sauté for about 3 minutes under low fire.
5. Put in the chunks of fat and stir evenly.
6. Scoop and serve.

Note: You can scoop up some of the oil if there is too much. It’s advisable to prepare this sauce 2-3 hours before serving as the oil would harden (due to the fat/lard) and turn white under cold environment. If this happen, just microwave the sauce in high mode for 30 seconds. Best consume within 2-3 days without needing to refrigerate.

(Serves: 10 and above)



Posted by crizlai On February - 22 - 2010

Instead of the usual stock for hot pot (steamboat) during this Chinese New Year reunion dinner, I had decided to opt for herbal stock. The ginseng enriched stock was a refreshing experience for my family. Are you aware that ginseng could help in stimulating the physical and mental activity of a tired or weak body? On top of that, it’s ideal for defending the body system from the effects of prolonged physical strain as well as a stimulant for the endocrine glands which would include the sex glands. Did I just say that? Haha! Anyway, it’s good for the general health of everyone.

The amazing part of brewing this stock would be that it’s concentrated. You could easily store in small containers and deep freeze it for your future cooking. The stock would be almost gelatin like with no preservative or seasoning. All you need to do is to add half a container of water to a container of stock and put in some pepper and salt to taste. It’s just as simple as that. Let me show you how you could create this HERBAL STOCK for your favorite hot pot. It’s mild anyway for the consumption of all ages.


2kg pork bones (big bones/tua kut)
3 whole chicken bones
50gms ginseng roots (人參鬚/Panax schinseng roots)
20 sweetened dates
10 liter water

Dried Chinese wolfberry (枸杞/kay chee/gouci/goji berry)

1. Bring to boil 12 liters of water in a 20L pot.
2. Wash all the bones clean with salt and slowly put all of them into the big pot of boiling water. Add in the ginseng roots and dates. Lower the fire, close the pot partly with a lid and let it simmer for about 6-8 hours. Filter out all the bones and you would get about 6-7 liters of stock left.
3. Scoop the required amount of stock for your hot pot into a new pot. Add in half that amount of hot water (2:1). Add in some dried Chinese wolfberry (about less than 1 tablespoon will do as too much will make the soup turn sour). Bring to boil and sprinkle some pepper and salt to taste. NOTE: Try to be lighter in salt usage as some of the hot pot ingredients such as the meatballs and fish balls have salt in them. Thus the longer the hot pot boils, the saltier it will get. Anyway, I will be sharing the dipping sauce recipe next to allow you to adjust to your taste bud.

Recommended Vegetables for Hot Pot:
Crown daisy chrysanthemum leaves (tang oh/茼蒿) and other vegetables such as Chinese Cabbage (菜心/choy sum), cabbage, spring onions (tied up), young corn, mushrooms, etc. Please take note that the usage of too much Enoki mushrooms might cause the soup base to be sour.

Recommended Add-in for Hot Pot:
All types of meat and fish balls which would be available at your location, either fresh or frozen, chicken fillet slices and seafood of any kind such as crab, clam, mussel, squid, cuttlefish, prawn or fish.

Simple Alternative Soup with the stock:
– Chicken fillet slices, white fungus and ginkgo nuts.
– Chicken fillet slices, lotus seed and lily bulb (百合/bai he/ pak hup).
– Chicken with chopped water chestnut balls, cabbage and rice vermicelli.
– Pork dumpling (sui kow/水餃), Chinese cabbage (菜心/choy sum) and wonton noodles.

(Serves: 10 and above)



Posted by crizlai On January - 31 - 2010

With the Chinese New Year just barely two weeks away from now, you might wonder what the heck I was doing coming out with a recipe for a local noodle dish when I can easily get it from any of the hawker stalls outside at barely $1 (RM3). Well, I have a surprise fusion recipe in store during this coming reunion dinner cooking in which I would require the stock from this dish. LOL! Anyway, coming out with the home cooked, non-MSG stock has been quite an achievement as it involved months of collections – prawn shells. It may sound crazy for many but these prawn shells would be the main secret behind the thick, tasty and aromatic flavors of the PENANG HOKKIEN PRAWN MEE (檳城福建蝦麵) recipe which I would be sharing with you today. For those who would like to have a simpler recipe, this recipe would not suit you as it involved lots of processes and it can be real time consuming. After all, great tasting food would not be easy to prepare right? 😛


Chili Paste:
10 tbsp chili boh (about 35 deseeded, soaked dried chilies – blended in 3-4 tbsp water)
15 shallots (blended)
6 cloves garlic (blended)

2kg pork bones (big bones/tua kut)
2-3kg prawn shells (blended)
2pc rock sugar (ping pong ball size)

500gms pork
1kg prawns
6 eggs (hard boiled)
300gms bean sprouts (remove roots if possible)
Some fried shallots
5-6 stalks of morning glory (kangkung – optional)
300gms pork ribs/trotters (optional)
150gms pork fat (cubed & fried until crunchy – optional)

1kg yellow noodles (chow mien)
1pkt rice vermicelli (bee hoon)
1pkt instant noodles (optional)
Rock sugar
Soy sauce


1. Wash all the bones clean with salt and slowly put all of them into a big pot of boiling water (about 20 cups). Lower the fire, close the pot with a lid and let it simmer for about 2 hours. Filter out all the bones and you would get about 15 cups of stock.
2. Heat up about 7-8 tablespoon of oil in a wok and sauté the blended garlic and shallots (do leave 1 tbsp of the blended shallots for the cooking of stock) for about 5 minutes under low fire. Add in the chili boh and sauté until fragrant. Add in a pinch of salt. It would take about 15 minutes. Scoop and put aside the chili paste while leaving about half a tablespoon in the wok.
3. Heat up the wok again with additional 1 tablespoon of oil and put in all the prawns. Stir fry until all the prawns are curled up beautifully. Scoop and leave aside. You may slice these prawns into halves or leave it as it is. I left a few of the prawns with the tails intact just for photography presentation purposes.
4. Using the same wok again, heat up 4 tablespoon of oil. Put in the blended prawn shells (drain the shells as dry as possible while keeping the remaining juice for the stock). Saute the shells until you get that thick aromatic prawn smell. By then, the shells would be in bright crystal orange color. Pour in the remaining juice from earlier plus another 3-4 cups of water. Let it simmer under low fire for about 2 hours.
5. While waiting for the prawn stock to be ready, heat up 2 tablespoon of oil in a soup pot and sauté the reserved 1 tablespoon of blended shallots for about a minute. Put in about half to one tablespoon of the cooked chili paste (depends on your spicy level). Mixed well and add in the bone stock. Bring to boil and add in the pork pieces/pork ribs/trotters. Lower the fire to simmer further.
6. By then, your prawn stock would be almost ready. Slowly and carefully sieve the prawn stock (leaving out all the shells) into the pork stock pot. Bring to boil while adding in 2-3 tablespoon of soy sauce, rock sugar, a sprinkle or two of pepper and salt to taste. Remove the foam on the surface while retaining some of the floating oil. The oil would keep the soup at a high boiling point.
7. Lower the fire and check if the pork ribs/trotters and cooked meat are tender. Scoop up in separate bowls. Sliced the meat thinly. Leave all aside for garnishing later.
8. Cut the hard boiled eggs into halves, quarters or rings to your liking.
9. Heat up a wok of water and blanch the bean sprouts and morning glory (1.5” length) separately. Make sure you drain the excess water well. Set both aside.
10. Soak the rice vermicelli (bee hoon) for about half an hour (or according to the directions on the pack). Blanch to soften it. Drain well. Do the same for the yellow noodles (if possible get the higher quality ones which would be thinner and would not have the “lye water” after taste). Instant noodles too can be an option.
11. To serve, place some bean sprouts and morning glory at the base of a deep and roomy bowl. Add in your preferred noodles then top with some prawns, sliced meat, pork ribs and egg. Pour some boiling soup over the noodles and garnish with some fried shallots and chili paste for that extra spiciness. Some may even want to garnish the noodles with some crunchy pork lard but I opted that out for health reasons.

Secret Notes:
1. The secret for a good tasting bowl of Hokkien Mee stock lies in the species of prawns used in the cooking. There are hundreds of species in the world and the most suitable one would be the Green Shell Prawns (Cheh Kak Hae, almost similar to the Australian Fenneropenaeus indicus species but with a slightly darker grey-green body) found commonly in the water of this region. Tiger prawns (Marsupenaeus japonicus, Penaeus esculentus or P. semisulcatus depending on your region) should not be used as these species have an overpowering shellfish taste which would not be suitable for the stock.
2. Some people may use a small piece of shrimp paste (belacan to pep up the taste of the stock). I did not use it due to the product being not easily obtainable internationally. Moreover, the raw ingredients used for my home cooked version of the stock were already sufficient enough.
3. For the sweetness and color of the stock, most people would use palm sugar (gula Melaka). For my case, I prefer the usage of rock sugar for a more natural and milder sweetness. After all, the soy sauce would have the required faded brown color for the stock
4. Another secret to thicken the stock would be by using some finely pounded bread rusk, a sort of unsweetened dry bread normally used with meat to bind them well. I did not use this method as my stock was already almost gelatin-like with the large amount of bones used.
5. Chicken bones may be use to substitute the pork bones but it would not give you the thick and meaty flavor required for the stock.
6. Roasted pork pieces, fish cakes, fish balls, pork intestine (粉腸), pork skin and baby kailan (Chinese broccoli or kale) may be added if you need a richer bowl of Hokkien Mee.

(Serves: 10 and above)



Posted by crizlai On May - 20 - 2009

Malaysia is a country with an abundant variety of tropical fruits such as durians, rambutans, mangoes, guavas, papayas, pineapples, coconuts, pomelos and many more. At any time of the year, you can get many different spread of fruits on your dining table without much hassle. Other than having the fruits as desserts or as a source of fiber for better bowel system, what would you do with them especially when you have some delicious mangoes from the plantation in Alor Setar and some juicy sweet pomelos from Tambun, Ipoh, Perak, both major exporter of their respective fruit in Malaysia? Most people would just take them as they are but for me, I’m a bit more adventurous. I made them into SPICY POMELO MANGO SALAD.


If you are in an Asia Pacific region, getting the fresh ingredients would be quite easy. In the case of foreign countries, the best alternative would be from Chinatown or any of the Chinese grocery stores. Let us now look at the required ingredients and how easy it is to prepare this delicious salad. I have attached an animated view of the ingredients below to let you have a look on how they are cut.


1/2 pomelo (about 6-7 segments – use flesh only and slightly peel apart)
1 big unripe mango (about 300gm – cut into strips)
5 shallots (slice thinly)
5 kaffir lime leaves (slice thinly)
100gms water chestnut (dice)
50gms dried shrimps (soak, dice and slightly pound)
10 bird’s eye chili pepper (cut thinly)
25gms peanuts (roasted and crushed)
10gms sesame seeds (toasted)
2 stalks coriander (pluck the leaves)

4 Tbsp lime juice
4 Tbsp plum sauce
2-3 Tbsp fish sauce
3-4 Tbsp fine sugar

Leave a bit of the roasted and crushed peanuts, toasted sesame and coriander leaves as garnishes.

50gms cuttlefish strips (oil fry and drain well – to replace dried shrimps)
1 inch lemon grass stalk (chopped finely)
1 red chillies (dice finely for the extra color)
1 tsp ginger flower bud (chopped)
1 clove garlic (chopped)

1. Mix the dressing thoroughly and adjust according to your taste as some may like the salad to be a bit salty (fish sauce) or sweet (sugar). Please note that some brands of plum sauce are already sweetened.
2. Mix the first 7 ingredients in a salad bowl, occasionally adding in a spoonful of the dressing to taste. Lastly, add in the last 3 ingredients. Please do not over stir the ingredients as it might cause the dish to be watery.
3. Garnish with the reserved items mention above.
4. Best serve while the fruits and vegetables are chilled prior to mixing.
5. Serve immediately to maintain the crunchiness of the ingredients.

(Serves: 6-8)

Note: It is not necessary to add in all the optional items but you can do so if you prefer a more spicy concoction. The bird’s eye chili (cili padi) can be replaced by any other chili pepper you would prefer as not many people can stand the hotness from this small sized fella. You can use mangoes that are slightly ripe (as I did) if you are not in for so much of sourness.


Spicy Pomelo Mango Salad on FoodistaSpicy Pomelo Mango Salad


Posted by crizlai On February - 15 - 2009

It was another birthday gathering in my family recently and this time it was my brother’s which fell a day before Valentine’s Day. Instead of cooking in, I introduced them to Chin Bee Tea Café which I had fallen in love with their food. Sifu Malai Chong sure knew how to cook up something different. Other than the delicious food that everyone loved a lot, he made us a Birthday Ee Foo Noodles which had so much of ingredients such fried fish fillet, prawns, Chinese cabbage, mushroom and egg slices on it. You be surprised on how many bowls my niece had consumed into her little tummy. LOL!


Well, a birthday without a cake would not be a birthday at all. Somehow my brother decided against the idea of having a cake as all of us had consumed too many cakes and cookies during the recent Chinese New Year celebration. I personally find that a Chinese meal should end with a dessert which I find the café could not provide me with. In the end, I had decided to create a healthy dessert which would suit all ages to surprise them. I came up with my healthy recipe for CHRYSANTHEMUM GINSENG WOLFBERRY JELLY WITH RAW HONEY.

I had used quality chrysanthemum flowers as these are believed to fight against flu related viruses. I had also used ginseng roots to alleviate fatigue, headache, amnesia and weakness and dried Chinese wolfberries to enhance the general health of the body system. The above mentioned two ingredients would be brewed for hours and sweetened with rock sugar and made into jelly. This bitter sweet dessert would then be served with some diluted raw honey. It would be better if you could get hold of one of my most trusted brands of jelly powder, imported from Thailand as this brand had never failed me in giving the jelly a firmer texture.


Won’t it be great if you could come out with this great recipe to serve your guests? Let me share with you the recipe here.


80gms first grade dried chrysanthemum (乾菊花)
15gms ginseng roots (洋参鬚)
15gms Chinese wolfberry (枸杞 – 5gms to reserve for garnishing)
250gms rock sugar (冰糖)
4.5 liters water (水)

6 Tbsp raw honey (diluted with 6 tbsp of the brewed potion)
5gms of the Chinese wolfberry above (soak and drain)

Flowers and herbs for decoration.

1. Wash the chrysanthemum, ginseng root and Chinese wolfberry clean from dirt.
2. Bring the water to boil in a large pot.
3. When boil, put in the chrysanthemum and ginseng root and let it brew in medium fire for 30-40 minutes.
4. Sieve the concentrated brewed potion. You would get about 3.5L left. (You can retain and boil the brewed ingredients by adding in more water for more cooling beverage as it would be a waste to throw them away. Sieve and add in sugar to taste)
5. Pour 2.5L of the brew into another pot and slowly stir in the jelly powder.
6. Heat up the brew in medium fire and add in the rock sugar. Stir until the rock sugar dissolves.
7. Add in the Chinese wolfberry (10gms only. Balance for garnishing) and let it brew in low fire for another 10-15minutes.
8. Scoop the potion into selected jelly moulds and let it cool. Chill immediately when hardened.
9. Serve the jelly chilled with some diluted raw honey and soaked wolfberry.

Note: Since there is no preservative in this brew, you can keep it fresh if well refrigerated for 3-4 days.

(Serves: 8-10)


Wolfberry on FoodistaWolfberry


Posted by Criz Lai On February - 4 - 2009

In a Chinese family, serving “Lam Mee” or Birthday Noodles at a birthday celebration is important as the long noodles are meant to represent longevity in a person’s life. When I thought a simple noodle dinner with the family members to further celebrate my Dad’s birthday was fine, I had received news that there would be two more guests joining us. I got panicked. With all lethargy from helping out and cooking during the festive season, I had decided to just order some “Lam Mee” from a nearby stall, although not my favorite one. By the time I had received the call, it was already too late as the stall was closed. Help! What should I do now?

The dinner was expected to be around 6.30pm that day and it was almost 3.00pm here. When I thought the best alternative was to go around town to search for good food to compliment with the noodles, the results was none as all my favorite places were still closed for the celebration. My mind went berserk seeking for solutions. Should I cook up something? What have I left in the refrigerator that I can cook up in less than 3 hours? Luckily, I’m a person who would always keep my fridge well stocked or else it would be dooms day.

I rushed to the nearest shopping mall and grabbed whatever ingredients I needed for the rest of the meal. The noodle dish would need to be pepped up with flavors as the taste was not as I wanted. Even the soup needed some fine tuning. Moreover, the ingredients and garnishing were not that impressive to be served to my guests. I had to cut the meat slices smaller and halves all the large prawns that came with the order and marinate them again with some pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil and fry them with chopped garlic. On top of that, I had some pounded dried flounder to garnish the noodles as this pounded ingredient would give the noodle a unique fragrance. I then gave the noodles a final touch by garnishing with some scrambled eggs, chopped spring onions and coriander. Viola! The “LAM MEE” had a total makeover!


One dish settled. The next was another headache as the clock was clicking real fast and I did not even know what would impress my guests. I needed to think of a dish that would require minimal cooking time. I grabbed some apples, pears, hami melon slices and cherry tomatoes that I had in the fridge and cut them into cubes. I then diluted some mayonnaise and mixed with some fine sugar, pepper, pasta herbs, milk powder and a dash of sesame oil. I folded in the fruit cubes. Since I had just bought some chicken fillets a day ago, I sliced them thinly and marinated the slices with some sesame oil, soy sauce, some grounded black pepper and ginger juice. I then coated them with some multi purpose frying flour and deep fried them to golden brown. These pieces were then garnished on the fruit salad with an additional sprinkle of mixed herbs. Here’s the masterpiece – Crunchy Chicken with Fruit Salad.


Two dishes on the table sounded odd as three would be a great number for a Chinese family. Three means “San” which has a similar intonation and meaning of “alive”. Now what else could I cook to make up the number? I remembered having some roasted chicken in the fridge. Half a large bird would be enough for everyone but serving that plain would be quite embarrassing, especially in the eyes of my guests. Well, I had the bird chopped up into bite sizes. I then sautéed some chopped garlic in some oil, throw in some ginger slices and stir fry them until fragrant. I added in some soy sauce, a pinch of fine sugar, some pepper, some dark say sauce, some oyster sauce, some sesame oil and mixed them well in the wok. I then pour in some stock and let the chicken simmer for awhile. To thicken the gravy, I had used some corn starch. When the gravy thickened, I poured in some Chinese wine (Shao Xing) to add that special taste into the dish. I called this dish Braised Roasted Chicken in Wine.


It was 6.30pm right on the dot when I heard someone came into the house. Phew! I had everything handled well except that I did not have time left to prepare desserts. To my surprise, both guests brought in an ice cream cake each. I was saved!


I just hope that I won’t have to face such limited time again to come up with an impromptu dinner. It could really be stressful mentally and physically.


Posted by Criz Lai On February - 2 - 2009

I’m sure most of you would be complaining about indigestion or bodily heat after all the nonstop feasting during the recent Chinese New Year celebration as I know quite many who were still down with acute throat related problem. There’s actually a beverage that you should take note of, if you were to be wildly feasting away anytime throughout the year. I did hint about the beverage I served to my guests every year which consisted of chrysanthemums, honeysuckles and licorice roots brewed with certain amount of water and sweetened with some sugar/honey but I guessed no one took it seriously. Well, here’s the living proof… I’m still free from all the throat related sickness. Haha!


Anyway, another related feasting problem, especially for those image conscious people, would be the amount of fatty food they had consumed during this festive season. There’s also a remedy to that but you have to be aware that you have to regulate the amount taken per week as the fruits by the name of Chinese hawthorn berries, Crataegus pinnatifida (Shan Zha – 山楂) are believed to be regularly used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) for digestion of meat and fatty food, strengthening heart function, lowering blood lipids, and dilating blood vessels to promote blood circulation and anti skin tumor activities. They do come in tablet forms too.


KY did mention that he found a coffee shop in Penang selling this beverage. In fact, I had taken this beverage at another place – Claypot Restaurant at Hillside, Tanjung Bungah, Penang. Unfortunately, we could not get hold of fresh hawthorn berries in Malaysia. The best alternative would be the dried Chinese hawthorn slices. China is one of the largest producers of dried hawthorn berry slices, thus you can see the country producing candies out from the fruits. One main candy that you would see very common in Malaysia would be the hawthorn flakes (Shan Cha Bing -山楂片) which would come in many shapes (round, square and rectangular). Some adventurous bakery would even use these soaked flakes in their baking such as in the making of the Indonesian Layer Cake. Without more crapping, let me just share with you the simple recipe for the HEALTHY HAWTHORN JUICE.


150gms dried Chinese hawthorn slices (wash clean)
3 medium size Granny Smith green apples (cut into 4 pieces each)
250gms rock sugar
4 liters water

4-5 pieces dried orange peel (one orange makes 8 pieces)
Raw Honey
Grounded Ginger
Grounded Cinnamon

1. Bring 4L of water to boil.
2. Put in the washed Chinese hawthorn and green apple slices. Lower heat to medium and boil for 15 minutes.
3. Set the fire to low and add in the dried orange peel (I had added this in for the extra tangy flavor) and rock sugar. Let it brew for another 45 minutes. Stir a few times in the process while mashing the green apples.
4. Sieve the juice and leave to cool. You would get about 3L left.
5. Serve chilled, iced or hot.
6. You can stir in some honey if you like it sweeter or sprinkle some grounded ginger or cinnamon to suit your taste as the juice could still be a bit sour.
Note: Since there is no preservative in this brew, you can keep it fresh if well refrigerated for 3-4 days.

(Serves: 8-10)




Posted by Criz Lai On January - 22 - 2009

So what’s your plan for desserts during this coming Chinese New Year reunion dinner? Well, I’m not planning to have more of those normal cans of longan, lychee or maybe a combination of both with some leong fun grass jelly/cincau) this year. All the preservatives in there could be rather unhealthy. Instead, I would be cooking up something fresh this festive season. Would you like to try out a simple and delicious fruity delight instead? Let me share with you the recipe for my BUTTER SAUTEED ASIAN PEARS (嫩煎黄油白梨).


3 Asian Pears (3” diameter)
1 tablespoon fine sugar
1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger (ginger candy)
1 teaspoon grated lemon skin
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon yellow raisins
1/2-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (depending on your preference)
2 teaspoons sesame seeds (toasted)
2 tablespoon walnut (slightly crushed)
Pinch of salt

Margarine with pinch of salt (to replace butter)

1. Peel and core the pears. Cut a pear into 4 quarters. From each quarter, cut the piece into another 4 slices. You would get a total of 16 thin slices. Remember to soak the pears and cut slices in a bowl of water mixed with one teaspoon of salt to avoid them turning brown when exposed to the air.
2. Heat the butter in a wok and pour in the pear slices. Saute for about 5 minutes on medium fire.
3. Add in the lemon juice, chopped ginger candy, grated lemon skin, sugar, ground cinnamon and sauté until the pear slices are translucent and tender. That would take about 10-15 minutes. You can add in more sugar if you like the dessert to be sweeter and also a pinch of salt if you are using margarine instead.
4. Fold in the yellow raisins, 3/4 of the walnuts and 3/4 of the toasted sesame seeds. Cook for another 5 minutes.
5. Scoop onto a dessert plate and garnish with the remaining walnuts and toasted sesame seeds.
6. You can serve it hot or room temperature cold.

(Serves: 4-5)



Posted by Criz Lai On January - 19 - 2009

The Chinese New Year is just a week away from now and most of the Chinese families would be busy with spring cleanings and preparation for their reunion dinners on Chinese New Year eve. Some families would prepare steamboat dinners while others would cook some traditional dishes for the celebration. As for my family, we would gather for a steamboat dinner. On top of that, I would also help out in preparing some dishes for the following days. One of my favorite self concocted dishes which I had cooked for the last few years would be my so-called Eight Precious Jewels of Asia.

In short, it’s BRAISED OYSTERS AND SCALLOPS which had eight wonderful combination of seafood, meat and nuts. There’s a secret to this dish. I had used Chabot’s Napoleon Armagnac 1998 brandy to pep up the taste. It even got a thumb-up from the experienced 64 years old chef, Malai Chong. Here’s the recipe but please take note that cooking this dish required lots of patience and time as each items would be cooked separately before combining all. Moreover, all the items are not cheap. A small bowl selling in some restaurants (not so much similar to the way I had cooked) would cost around $13-$33 (RM40-RM100) and they would use only 3-4 of the ingredients I had used below.


300g pork belly meat (slice thinly)
100g dried oyster
50g-100g dried baby scallops
100g baby Japanese mushrooms
100g dried Chinese chestnuts
150g peeled/tin ginkgo nuts
25g hair moss (Fat Choy)
1 tin braised peanuts (170g net weight, 110g drained weight)
100g young ginger (scrape off skin, maintain 6 thin slices, grate the rest for juice)
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
Soy Sauce
Dark Soy Sauce
Oyster Sauce
Sesame Oil

METHODS & MARINATES (leave minimum 1 hour):

– Cover the dried oyster with some hot water until soften. If the dried oysters you had bought were too hard. You can always pressure cook them (covered with water) for 15 minutes. Retain the juice for cooking.
– Drain well and marinate with 2 tbsp each of ginger juice, sesame oil, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp brandy/whiskey and a dash of pepper.

– Cover the dried scallops with some hot water until soften. If the dried scallops you had bought were too hard. You can always pressure cook them (covered with water) for 15 minutes or steam for 25 minutes. Retain the juice for cooking.
– Drain well and marinate with 1 tbsp each of ginger juice, soy sauce and 1 tsp sesame oil.

– Cover the dried mushrooms with some hot water until soften.
– Drain well by pressing softly but firmly. Retain the juice for cooking.
– Cut off all the legs.
– Marinate with the balance of the grated ginger (juice plus fiber), 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil and 1/2 tsp fine sugar.

Chinese Chestnuts:
– Soak the dried Chinese chestnuts with some hot water.
– Drain well and use a toothpick to get rid of any remaining red skin still attached to the nuts.
– Heat up a pot of water and boil the nuts for 20-30 minutes until the nuts are soft. Do pick up one to test out the softness as some brands of nuts or too dried ones would take a longer time to cook.

Ginkgo Nuts:
– The easiest way would be by getting a tin of cooked ginkgo nuts or a pack of frozen precooked ones but it would not taste as great as those fresh ones.
– If you happen to get hold of fresh ones, there would be more work involved. You would need to knock the shell and peel of the orange brown skin.
– After all the hard work, you have to cook them in a pot of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Drain well.
Important Note: Please check with your supplier if the nuts are young nuts. Older ones would have well developed embryos/growth within and these would make the nuts bitter. Slit slightly on the head and get rid of the embryos before boiling them.

Hair Moss:
– Soak the hair moss with some hot water.
– Semi drain the hair moss while leaving some water inside (about 2 tbsp).
– Marinate with 1 tbsp each of ginger juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and 2 tsp of brandy/whiskey.

– Rub the pork with some salt and wash off.
– Cut into 1.5” strips and slice thinly.
– Drain well and marinate with 2 tbsp each of sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce and a dash of pepper. Mix thoroughly.

Chicken breast meat (in place of pork)

1. You can combine all the retained juices in a bowl. Make sure you sieve the juice prior to using.
2. Heat up 2 tspn oil in a wok and sauté the marinated oysters to golden brown. Scoop and leave aside.
3. Heat up 1 tspn oil and sauté the marinated scallops to slightly brown. Scoop and leave aside.
4. Heat up 2 tspn oil and sauté 1 tsp chopped garlic until brown. Pour in the marinated mushrooms and sauté them until slightly brown and dry. Scoop and leave aside.
5. Heat up 3 tspn oil and sauté 1 tbsp chopped garlic until brown. Pour in the marinated pork, 1 tsp of dark soy sauce, 6 slices of ginger and stir fry them until cooked.
6. Add in 2.5 cups of the retained juice and simmer under high fire for 5 minutes. You can add in some hot water if not enough.
7. Lower the fire to medium and add in the Chinese chestnuts and the whole can of the braised peanuts. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
8. Add in the oysters, scallops and mushroom. Stir evenly and let it simmer until the water is halved.
9. Add in the ginkgo nuts and stir thoroughly for about 5-10 minutes.
10. Scoop up the cooked items into a bowl while retaining as much gravy as you can in the wok.
11. Pour in 1.5-2 cups of hot water and bring the gravy to boil.
12. Pour in the hair moss and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
13. Pour in the cooked items in the bowl and stir evenly. Lower fire and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. You can add some hot water if the gravy become over dry as some hair moss would absorb more water.
14. Best served with white rice.
Note: You can keep any remains in the freezer for weeks. When you need the dish, you could always defrost it and add some hot water to bring it to boil. Make sure that you let it boil until your preferred choice of dryness. Good Luck!

(Serves: 8-10)



Posted by Criz Lai On December - 30 - 2008

During the 3rd (Floggers) Food Bloggers’ Gathering in Penang recently, I had created a simple yet appetizing dish which most of the attendees that night loved it. None had ever thought that the unique sweetness of the jackfruits could blend in so well with fried pork slices. Well, since I had quite a number of requests for the recipe, I’m posting up the recipe for my STIR FRY PORK STRIPS WITH JACKFRUITS.


10 Slices Pork Fillet (about 500gms)
1 big onion (slice into semi rings)
8 cherry tomatoes (halves)
4 jackfruits (cut into strips)
8 tbsp all purpose frying flour
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil

SAUCES: (mix well in a small bowl)
4 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp corn flour
1/2 tsp sesame oil
4 tspn water
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Shao Xing wine (1/2 tsp brandy/whisky)

Chicken breast meat (in place of pork)
Coriander (garnish)
Spring Onions (garnish)
Green capsicum (slices)

1. Hammer the pork fillets lightly until soft.
2. Place all the meat into a mixing tray and add in one tablespoon soy sauce, half teaspoon sesame oil, one teaspoon turmeric powder, pinch of salt & sugar, 8 tablespoon frying flour. Add in some water to make it somewhat batter like. DO NOT MAKE IT TOO DILUTE! Leave aside to marinate for 30-40 minutes.
3. Heat up some oil and fry all the marinated pork fillets until golden brown. Leave on kitchen towel to cool and to drain all the excess oil. Cut into long strips.
4. Leave about 2 tablespoon of the remaining oil in the wok on medium fire. Add in the onions and stir about half a minute.
5. Add in the sauces stated above and simmer for another minute or so.
6. Add in the cherry tomatoes and jackfruit strips and stir for about a minute.
7. Put the fire on low and add in the pork strips. Stir for another two minutes.
8. Dish out to serve.
9. You can lace the plate with some lettuce and garnish with some coriander/spring onions.

(Serves: 4-6)




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Howdy from the Isle of delicious Asian food and the UNESCO Heritage City of Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia. Just call me Criz Lai and I am here to share with you on what’s the best food you can get in town as well as from many other parts of Malaysia.

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