Surely you’ve heard about the famous General Tso’s Chicken. I guess when a dish is named after someone, it must have been his favourite, right? But after much googling, apparently it’s not :) So, who is this General Tso and why named after him when it’s got nothing to do with him?
According to China Sichuan Food, General Tso dishes are created by a famous chef in Taiwan, Changgui Peng, who specialises in Hunan dishes. This well-loved American chinese dish was created accidentally one night when the Taiwan Premier visited Peng’s restaurant. Without many ingredients on hand, he quickly whip up a chicken dish stir-fried with ginger, chopped garlic, vinegar and soy sauce. The Premier loved it so much that he asked for the name of the dish. Peng quickly named the dish after General Tso.
So, after hearing so much of General Tso, I have attempted Domestic Superhero‘s vegetarian version by using tofu, which by the way, tastes awesome too! The crispy skin tofu and sauce goes really nicely with a bowl of hot steamed rice.
General Tso’s Tofu (adapted from Domestic Superhero)
1 block firm tofu
3 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
3 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 shakes chilli flakes (optional)
4 green onions, chopped
3 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
1. Firstly, we need to dry the tofu. Drain excess water from tofu by placing the tofu on 2 clean kitchen towels on a plate. Then place another 2 clean kitchen towels to cover the tofu. Sit a plate on top of the tofu for about 30 minutes. This help to drain excess liquid from the tofu.
2. While waiting for the tofu to drain, mix the sugar, hoisin sauce, ketchup, rice vinegar, soy sauce, water and chilli flakes together in a bowl. Set aside.
3. Heat a pan on medium heat. Pour about 1 inch of vegetable oil and let it heat up. Cut the tofu into 1″ squares. Dust each tofu squares with corn starch and then slowly place it into the hot oil and let it fry until brown all around and crispy outside. Repeat with the rest of the tofu. Make sure you don’t over crowd the pan. Remove and drain.
4. Heat the pan again and add sesame oil, onions and chopped ginger. Fry about 1 minute or until fragrant. Pour the sauce mixture into the pan and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to simmer and leave it for about 2-3 minutes. Return the fried tofu back in the pan and toss to evenly coat the tofu with sauce.
5. Serve with steamed rice.
Being a working mother is a demanding full time job. Wouldn’t the moms out there agree? Not only do we stress ourselves about work, we also stress ourselves thinking about dinner, lunch…amongst many other things.
So, if you don’t have the time to prepare dinner, this simple dish is a quick fix meal simply by braising the chicken. I love braising because it’s really just putting everything into a pot or a casserole dish and just let it cook in its juices and fragrant ingredients for 40-50 minutes…while I fret over my lil’ one to clean up her room ;) Efficiently saving a lot of time and to be able to multi task.
You can use chicken drumstick or wings in this recipe. I prefer the boney chicken parts where I can slurp and bite away tender fall-off-the-bone meats. If you’re serving more people, you can use the whole chicken. Best of all, the braising sauce can be eaten with rice.
Soy Sauce Chicken
20 chicken wings, separate drummettes and wings
1 cup soy sauce
3 cups water
5 cloves garlic, bruised
2 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
1 bunch scallion, chopped
2 tbsp sugar
2 inches ginger
1. Using a pot, heat the soy sauce, water and chicken over medium heat. Once the soy sauce comes to a boil, immediately reduce it to a simmer.
2. Add the other ingredients like garlic, cinnamon stick, star anise, scallion, sugar and ginger. Let it simmer on small fire for 40-50 minutes. The longer you simmer, the darker the skin will be and the more tender the meat is.
So many things happened lately. I’ve received a fair bit of bad news and some not so bad. It’s been overwhelming. Work has been crazy – really crazy. So, that explains the slow posting and my absence over the last week. Whatever happened, I’m crossing my fingers and stay positive.
Lately, I’m was drawn to “dark, moody” photography just like how the season here has changed from beautiful summer to moody fall (with withering sunshines). I was reading a lot of blog tutorials and admiring lots of beautiful moody photographs. It does look easy with explanation, but in reality, it’s not. So, I’m just going to practice until I get the perfect shot. My obsession over “dark, moody” photography, has got me to the point of moving things around the house to find “the light” too :) Luckily hubby hasn’t utter any displeasure yet *phew*
Anyways, ever had French Toast Rollups? I’ve not, but thanks to Teacher by Day, Chef by Night I had the opportunity to try it. Basically, it’s French Toast rolled with fruit or jam or nuts or cheese filling or whatever filling your family likes. Then it is fried before serving. Definitely a superb idea for kid’s breakfast. Care to try?
French Toast Rollups (adapted from Teacher by Day, Chef by Night)
6 slices white bread (or wholemeal if you prefer healthier version)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 block cream cheese
1 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tbsp strawberry jam
1 tbsp cinnamon powder and 2 tbsp sugar (for dusting)
1. Using a rolling pin, start to flatten every slices of bread. Roll the pin one time from bottom to the top. Then move the bread clockwise once and roll the pin again. Move the bread clockwise again and roll the pin on the bread one more time. Be careful not tear the sides.
2. To prepare the filling, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar and strawberry jam together and set aside.
3. Take about 2 tsp of filling and smear it across the bottom one-third of the flatten bread. Roll the bread tightly upwards. Repeat the same with the remaining breads and set aside.
4. In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg, milk and cinnamon powder until it’s mixed well.
5. Heat up a frying pan over medium heat with some butter. Once the butter starts to melt, dip the bread roll in the egg mixture. Ensure that the mixture is evenly coated around the bread. Place the bread on the pan with the seam facing down. Sear until all sides are browned, which takes about 2-3 minutes each side. Continue to add butter when the pan dries up.
6. Once the rolls are browned and crisp, bring them out of the pan and into the sugar and cinnamon powder mixture. Roll them around until they are completely covered in the mixture. Serve with fresh fruits for a balanced breakfast.
This is a very nice party bite dish – it’s easy to prepare and delicious with simple flavours. The best part was, your vegetarian friends will love you for it. The fresh lettuce used to roll these delicious fritters gives a very refreshing feeling before revealing that beautiful crunch. The lovely chilli jam can be made to suit your taste – if you prefer it to be really spicy, then add more chilli and likewise for non chilli lovers.
It is also a very good method to disguise any form of vegetables for lil’ ones and they will not disapprove of it.
Spicy Corn & Coriander Fritters with Chilli Jam (adapted from Benjamin Cooper’s Chin Chin the Book)
Makes 12 fritters
6 corn cobs with kernels removed
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sea salt
1 birds eye chilli or 2 red chillies
12 fresh lettuce leaves, for wrapping
3 fresh kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
1/2 bunch coriander leaves, finely chopped
1/2 bunch mint leaves, finely chopped
12 sprigs mint, for garnish
1 ginger knob (thumb size), finely chopped
1 ginger knob (thumb size), thinly sliced
2 cups self-raising flour
3 birds eye chilli
1 red onion
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only
1 knob ginger
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup vegetable oil
100g palm sugar, to taste
4 tbsp tamarind water, to taste (mix 4 tbsp tamarind pulp with 4 tbsp hot water and let it soak for at least 30 mins)
1 tbsp fish sauce, to taste (replace with soy sauce if you’re serving to vegetarian friends)
1. Prepare the chilli jam first by blending the chillies, onion, lemongrass, ginger and garlic to a fine paste. Heat oil in a wok until smoking. Then add the paste and fry until fragrant. Add palm sugar and let the chilli caramelise with medium heat. Add tamarind water and fish sauce (or soy sauce) gradually so you can achieve the taste you wanted. The chilli jam should give you a sticky sort of sweet/spicy taste. Set aside to cool.
2. Blend half the corn kernels with eggs and soy sauce. Pour the blended ingredients into a larger bowl and mix well into the remaining corn kernels, chilli, lime leaf, coriander, ginger, mint and season with sea salt.
3. Gradually mix the flour into the corn mixture and continue to stir with a spatula until a batter is formed. The correct batter consistency is when the batter holds its shape when you dip in a spoon (i.e. it shouldn’t run over the edges of the spoon).
4. Using a small ice cream scoop, make 12 small portions (or more if you have any left over). Then deep fry the fritters by batches for just 4-5 minutes or until golden on medium fire. If you prefer to shallow fry the fritters, just flatten the fritters a little more.
5. Drain the fritters. Serve with fresh lettuce, chilli jam, mint leaves and ginger slices by the side. To assemble, firstly place 1 fritter onto the fresh lettuce and then top with a ginger slice, some mint leaves and a dollop of chilli jam. Roll and pop them in your mouth to enjoy :)
This dish has exceeded my expectations – using young coconut juice (aka coconut water) to braise and flavour is unexpectedly delicious. I love coconut juice by nature for drinking but haven’t actually tried using it to cook. Coconut juice is known for their refreshing effect and drinking it during hot weather helps to cool down the body.
By simmering in the coconut juice, the pork absorbs the sweet and refreshing flavours of coconut juice as well as its toasted aroma. To get that real coconut flavour, I used freshly-packed real coconut which is available at green grocers. According to Luke Nguyen, author of The Food of Vietnam, this dish was coincidentally created by the Vietnamese locals after they got too excited and incidentally took over his cooking station while filming his show. LOL, I can just imagine how chaotic it was at that time :)
In this recipe, I have used pork bbq ribs which is a little difficult to cook but still as delicious. My lil’ one prefers the pork bbq ribs than the pork spare ribs. In Luke’s recipe, he used boneless pork spare ribs which was cut into bite sizes of 2cm x 3cm. However, this pork cut is a little fatty but juicier.
Pork Ribs braised in Young Coconut Juice (adapted from Luke Nguyen’s The Food of Vietnam)
300g pork ribs
2 shallots, diced
2 tbsp crushed garlic
1 onion, cut into wedges
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
300ml young coconut juice
coriander, to garnish
1. Combine shallot, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, salt, pepper and 1 tbsp of crushed garlic in a mixing bowl. Mix well until sugar is dissolved. Add pork ribs and rub the marinade well into the meat. Cover and leave to marinade for 30 minutes.
2. Fill a large wok with vegetable oil for deep frying. Heat the oil until 180 celsius or until a bread crumb sizzles when dropped into the oil.
3. Drain the pork from the marinade and deep fry the ribs in small batches, without over crowding the wok. Fry until the pork is brown all over. Remove and drain.
4. Pour the coconut juice and the pork ribs marinade into a pan and bring to boil. Add the pork ribs, reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
5. After simmering, increase the heat to medium high and cook for another 5 minutes or until the coconut juice has reduced to one-quarter of its original volume.
6. Add the onion, remaining crushed garlic and a pinch of black pepper into the sauce. Stir well to mix for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.
7. Transfer the ribs to a serving plate and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Best eaten with steamed jasmine rice.
Recently, I have been punishing myself with day dreams of Malaysian delicacies that I am missing so terribly – like the sinfully tasty black KL style Hokkien Mee. Each time I go back to Malaysia, I will drop by my favourite PJ Jalan 222 shop – Restaurant Ahwa for their tasty Hokkien Mee. As you also know, Malaysians eat more than 3 meals a day :) So, for supper, my neighbourhood shop, Nanking Restaurant, in USJ will be my cure for a late night craving of a good Hokkien Mee.
So what makes a good Hokkien Mee? Based on my many trials and experiment of this dish, the key ingredients are:
1) The black sauce – like it or not, it’s the sauce that can break or make the dish. In this recipe, the black sauce was created using Cheong Chan Thick Caramel Sauce. This sauce is black and sticky with high caramel (sugar) content and taste more savoury compare to dark soy sauce. Available at all Asian Grocers.
2) Crispy fried pork fat – better known as Chu Yau Char. I know I know, this is not a very healthy thing especially when we are talking about rendering those pork fat to cook in their own fatty juices until crispy and crunchy golden. But hell yes, it’s a darn good treat to oneself.
3) Sambal - back bone to most Malaysian dishes. Can be cooked with dishes or can accompany any dishes. In this case, sambal is a must and gives that added UUMPH with hokkien mee. To accompany this dish, I have made my own Sambal.
Another “secret” ingredient that some home cooks say is a must-have is dried sole fish powder but it’s not available in Melbourne :( – not even at the Asian Grocers. Definitely in my shopping list when I go back to Malaysia this year.
Malaysian Black Hokkien Mee (adapted from wendyinkk)
2 packs of fresh yellow hokkien noodles (approx 500g)
100g sliced pork belly
1 1/2 cup pork fat*
12 large banana prawns, deveined and remove shells
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
300g chinese cabbage, chop into pieces
100g choi sum, chop into pieces
Sambal, to serve
5 tbsp Cheong Chan thick caramel sauce (add more if you prefer darker)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 dash white pepper powder
2 cups water
1. Marinade pork slices with 2 pinches of salt and set aside.
2. Heat up a wok on medium fire. Put the pork fat in the wok and let it sizzle. After about 3 minutes, you will start to see the oil oozing out from the pork fat and let it render the fat. Turn the heat to low and continue to fry the pork fat until the pork fat pieces turned crispy, crunchy and golden. Drain and separate the lard from the fried pork fat. Set aside.
3. Place the noodles in a large bowl and pour hot water over it until the noodles are submerged. Stir the noodles and let it sit in the water for not more than 15 seconds. Drain and set aside.
4. Heat up wok with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and once the wok is smoking, pour the sliced pork belly into the wok and sear until it’s 80% cooked. Drain and set aside.
5. In the same wok, top up with another 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil. Wait until the wok is smoking and sear the prawns until it’s 80% cooked. Drain and set aside.
6. Pour the lard back into the wok and heat it up. Pour the minced garlic into the wok and fry until golden. The garlic will turn golden real quick. Swiftly pour the cabbage in and stir. Then throw in the choi sum stems to cook.
7. Put in noodles, pork and prawns, then pour in water. Stir and mix well. Add all the sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover with lid and let it cook for 10 minutes or until the noodles have soften and the gravy thickens. Taste and adjust seasoning.
8. Add in choi sum leaves and fried pork fat. Stir and cook for another 3 minutes. Dish up and serve together with delicious Malaysian Sambal.
*Note: Pork fat can be purchased from selected butchers. If that’s not available, look for a really fatty pork belly and remove the fat from the meat.
I'm Jo, a working mom currently living in Melbourne with hubby, lil' one and lil' pup. I'm passionate about food, photography and beautiful places. When food and travel meets photography, magic happens.
$$$$ Fine dining
$$ Moderate price
$ Cheap eats
+5 Culinary Legend
+4 Tickle my senses
+3 Seems fine, but not exciting
+2 Some good, some bad
+1 Don't bother