Clear Noodle Soup / 清汤面

Warm noodle soup1

In case you wonder, I am a huge fan of noodles! 😀 I eat noodles every other day in my daily life. I guess it is a typical Asian/Chinese habit. Once I was into a low carb diet, you can imagine how hard it was for me. I felt shaky for not eating carbs, my body simply did not like it at all. Anyway, noodle is being a big part of Asian’s life. We never get bored of it, because you can make so many version of noodle: stir-fry, cold & warm salad, soup, wrapped in spring roll, deep-fried, ‘dry-mixed/干捞’, and even as a sweet dessert. I simply love it!

Chinese people eat noodles any time of the day, at least I supposed. For me it has mostly been my breakfast, even in Finland. When I was little, I lived in a village where there is a local noodle hawker stall by the street run by my grandma’s friend. And that was mostly what I ate during my childhood, just before my kindergarden bus came to pick me up. 😀 However, that egg noodle is different than this recipe. It is actually called dumpling noodle soup (云吞面), which I believe is cooked with pork bones broth and usually served with Char Siew and dumplings with minced-pork and prawn filling. But guess what, this vegetable broth that I made is so tasty and sweet that it goes so well with egg noodle! And it’s healthier and lighter too, without the unnecessary animal fat. Once you get the broth done, it takes minutes to get your noodle soup ready. Excellent!

Dried Chinese Shiitake

Raw materials

Vegetable broth ingredients:

I Celery stalk

2 Carrots

1 Onion

1 Spring Onion

3-5 Dried Chinese shiitake mushrooms, soaked in water

3-5 Champignon mushrooms (optional)

3 l water

Dash of salt and pepper

Methods:

1. Cut vegetables in chunks. Bring water to boil in a broth pot and add in all the vegetables.

2. When it comes to boil again, turn to medium heat and cook for 2 hours. Season with salt and pepper.

Note 1: You can play around with the ingredients, for example by adding ginger, pickled mustard, garlic, dried chill, cabbage, tomato, spring onion, leek, lemongrass, soybean, etc. These all bring extra flavour and fragrance to broth/ soup in general. But not too much of each, and please don’t put everything I just said! Otherwise the taste will be overpowering, or completely mess-up.

Note 2: You wanna add enough water when making a broth, and not to add water anymore once you get the cooking started. It will ruin it. 😉 Taste bland. 

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(Make 2 servings)

Warm noodle soup ingredients:

100 ml Vegetable broth

150g/ 2 portions Dried egg noodles

4 tbsp Soy sauce

Dash of white pepper

4 Champignon/ Shiitake mushrooms

6-8 Broccoli florets

1 cup Dried soy meat

Methods:

1. Pour broth in a sauce pan, add in noodles, dried soy meat and vegetables and bring to boil. Cook for another 3 minutes (or depends on how long your noodle needs to be cooked). Season with soy sauce and white pepper. Served with additional fried onions or chopped spring onion. Enjoy!

Note 1: Any meat or ingredient could go well with this broth, like pork, tofu, chicken, fish balls, anchovies or dumplings, as well as the vegetables. I like to add in ingredients that help me to balance my carbohydrates, protein and veggies intake. And you should too! 

Note 2: Cook the noodle separately if you know your noodle will release too much starch, which can change the flavour of the  soup.

Clear noodle soup

You wanna get a good broth for noodle soup because that seems to be the most essential thing in the final outcome, and it is worth to invest in a bottle of good quality soy sauce as well ( I recommend buying from ethnic stores). And I’m not saying that my broth recipe is perfect, but it is good enough for home cooking at least. And it is also money wise. 😉

In Finland, whenever you get sick, the doctor often asks you to drink tea and honey for healing. But in Malaysia, the doctor will ask you to eat porridge and this kind of clear noodle soup. And I think I might have converted my husband to a Chinese too, since what he asked for was noodle soup whenever he got sick. Ha ha ha! (evil face)

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ABC Soup / A popular Eurasian dish in every Malaysian home

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Want to try some Malaysian home cooking that is super easy? Here is one for you, and it happens to be very nutritious and always goes right! ABC soup is by far one of the most commonly known soups in Malaysian home kitchen, I would say that Tom Yam soup ( which influenced by Thailand) and Soup Tulang (Beef bones soup) come next, we shall talk more about them some other time.

And here comes the interesting part, why is it called ABC soup? I have always understood that the soup is packed with Vitamin A, B and C from the the main ingredients. It’s true, you get Vitamin A from carrot, Vitamin B  from potato, and Vitamin C from tomato and potato again. Some people argued in the Internet that it’s ABC because it is so easy to make like ABC. Well, anyway. The good thing about this soup is that it can be cooked with meat or just vegetables itself and it will taste as good. People sometimes add ingredients such as celery, soybean, pickled mustard (榨菜) or mushroom to give extra flavours. Help yourselves. 🙂

My mom always uses pork ribs or whole chicken to make this soup, and it gives such intense, natural sweet flavour that no salt is needed for the soup at all. It always tastes heavenly good. In here I am using soybeans to replace the meat to get my protein and flavours.

My new philosophy:

Okay, you may wonder why I have been posting vegetarian recipes. Yes I am eating more plants now. As mentioned before, I am a bit concerned with the meat industry, moral, ethic, environment, eco and health issues. You know what, it is actually a really big problem in this world! And no, I am not (yet) a vegetarian, more like a ‘flexitarian’ instead. Interesting huh? I read about this new term, if I understood right, it means someone who is becoming a vegetarian but not yet giving up on eating meat. In wikipedia, it says flexitarian is a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat.  Well I wouldn’t call myself a vegetarian really if I still eat meat, sometimes. So flexitarian it is! And why am I still ‘sometimes’ eating meat is that, it just tastes so good…..( SORRY! My mind is not strong enough yet) Well it is also a social issue. It just makes my life and everyone else’s life easier if I am not too strict about my diet. I am trying my best to find meat replacement and substitutes for great recipes. So watch me!

ABC2

(Make 4 servings)

Ingredients:

1-2 Carrots, cut into 3” sizes

2 Medium size onions, quartered

2 Potatoes, quartered

2 Corns, halved

4 Tomatoes, halved

100g Pickled mustard (optional)

1/2 cup Soybean (soaked overnight) / 1/2 kg Pork ribs, blanched with boiling water

3 l Water

1 tsp Black pepper, crushed

Salt to taste

Methods:

1. Bring water to boiled in a deep pot, add in all the vegetables and crushed black pepper(and pork ribs). Bring to boiled again and turn heat to medium. Cook for 3 hours.

2. Season with salt and ready to serve. Enjoy!

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This soup can be served already after 1 hour or 2; some people argued that it loses the nutrients if it cooks too long. I personally like a stronger taste, so to me at least 3 hours cooking is needed for that powerful, natural sweet taste to happen in the liquid.

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Those of you may also wonder why is this dish Eurasian (European and Asian mix). It is believed that potatoes, carrots and black pepper have been some of those items that were brought in to Malaysia by the Europeans during 15th century. The mixture of cultures directly reflects on the local way of cooking in every homes.  And here it is, steaming hot in my bowl. A perfect example of fusion cooking. 😉  Must try!
ABC1

Oh in addition, I always make this soup for my husband whenever he feels sick. Because liquid does him good and it is packed with nutrients. Plus it has such ‘luring’ taste, if you get what I mean. He loves it!

Chinese Vegetarian Steamed Bun/ 素食叉烧包

Baozi4

In Malaysia there is a wide range of foods selection for all meal types, some are even available 24 hours. You name it and we got it, and that is one of the things I’m proud of my homeland. Today I’m gonna introduce something that I used to eat as breakfast or snack for anytime of the day. It’s Char Siew Bao, or Barbecue pork bun in direct Chinese translation. Our Chinese ancestors have brought it to Malaysia long time ago from China. But the Malaysian people like them with more dough, whereas in China it is crucial to keep the dough thin, which they also call it Jiao Zi/饺子.

Since I am recently into the ‘eating less meat’ mode, thanks to all the TED Food Matters documentaries about meat industry and health issues, I’m twisting the recipe to a vegetarian version to satisfy my needs and desire for eating these buns.;-) FYI, this is the third time I made it because the first 2 times were complete failures. Wrong yeast, wrong technique, tasted good though, but looked ugly. It takes a lot of practice to get it right especially in the wrapping part.

You can use any type of vegetables for the filling, or with meat if you like as Char Siew/Barbecue pork is the original recipe. Sweet version of the steamed buns are also very popular in Malaysia, normally found in red bean (豆沙包) or lotus-seed paste (莲蓉包), and those can be easily made or found in ethnic stores too.

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Baozi2

(Make 16 medium/ 3” wide buns)

Ingredients for the dough:

2 cups All purpose flour + 1/2 cup for knitting

1 cup Warm water

4 tbsp Sugar

1 tbsp Sesame oil

1 tsp Instant yeast

1 tsp Baking powder

1/2 tsp Salt

Methods:

1. Melt instant yeast into warm water until it bubbled up.

2. Put flour, sugar and salt into a deep bottom bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour, gradually stir in the yeast water to form a dough. Slightly knit and cover with wet towel. Let it raise for 2 hours. (You can put it into the oven with a bowl of hot water beneath it to raise the temperature)

3. When the dough has doubled its size (that’s when it should be really soft in texture), knit the dough on a floured table and add in baking powder and sesame oil. Cover and let it raise for another 30 minutes.

4. Roll dough into a long cylinder shape and cut into half. Each halves can be rolled again and cut into 8 equal pieces, that makes a total of 16 pieces. Make them into balls by hands, and then flattened with wooden roller into round-flat sheets. ( You can also cut the dough into a total of 8 to make 8 big buns).

5. Place about 1 tbsp of the mushroom fillings (see below) into the middle of the sheet and fold it to closure. (There is a video I found teaches you how, click here.) Place each buns on cupcake papers or shaped baking sheets.

6. Let buns rest for 10 minutes and place them to steam with cold water. When the water starts boiling, let it boil for 10 minutes and then remove from heat. REMEMBER: Let the buns to be in the steamer untouched for at least 2-3 minutes before opening the lid. It will prevent the skin of the buns from wrinkling. Served immediately.
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Mushroom fillings:

7-8 Mushrooms, diced

1 Carrot, diced

2 Spring onion stalks, diced

2 Garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp Hoisin sauce

2 tbsp Soy sauce

2 tbsp Sesame oil

1 tbsp of Minced ginger

1 tbsp Shao Xing wine/ cooking wine

1 tbsp Sugar

1 tsp Five spice powder

1,5 tsp Corn starch/ potato flour

150 ml Water

Methods for Mushroom fillings:

1. Heat up oil in wok, fry garlic until slightly brown. Add in ginger and all the vegetables, cook until softened.

2. Season with Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, wine, sugar and five spice powder. Cook the vegetables through (10 min).

3. Mix corn starch with water and stir gradually into the wok to make gravy. Set aside and let it cool before wrapping.

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It helped me when I practiced the wrapping with a piece of kitchen paper! 😀  I didn’t waste any of my precious dough.

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My amateur bun making ❤

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Strawberry Curd Cake / A little piece of heaven from the strawberry farm

It was a very warm sunny day. In fact, it was the first day when my summer holiday started. I asked my husband to drive us to the strawberry farm, which is about 30 minutes away from our home.

He asked: ‘Why don’t we just buy it from the store?’. To him, it doesn’t make sense to use our gas to drive this far and spend our time for things like this.

I thought for a while, and then said:’ Well, next time when you go fishing, I will ask you the same question.’ I continued: ‘There is no sense in buying all those expensive lures when you can’t even get one fish!’

Ha ha ha, I got him. He was so sorry that he promised to bring me everywhere to pick this and that from now on. It’s about the process that makes it more fun, don’t you agree?

Strawberries have always been a precious thing to me, since it is so rare and expensive in Malaysia. Before I moved to Finland, I have only eaten no more than 5 times fresh strawberries in my life, and those were watery and tasteless. Therefore strawberry picking has become a little bit of heaven to me. 🙂 There are soooo many of them on the field like stars in the sky, those shiny red heads hiding under the green leaves. I would pick them up and put straight to my mouth and then the next one would go to my basket. (Everybody does that!) Hmm… it’s so sweet, fresh and juicy. Completely awesome!

S1

Inspired by my friend Laura’s unbeatable Mango Cake, I decided to use some of my 3 kilograms of freshly picked strawberries to make a cake for my summer celebration. This is quite light and healthy, therefore it is suitable for all ladies. It is not difficult, but you’ve got to be a little patient because there are some waitings in between.

Ingredients:

175g Domino cookies

50g Butter, left in room temperature

2 1/2 dl Vanilla sauce

4 dl Plain Curd

5 dl Strawberry puree

3/4 dl Sugar

1 tbsp Vanilla sugar

1/2 Lemon juice

7 Gelatin sheets, soaked in cold water

Methods:

1) Finely chop the cookies until crumbled and mix well with butter. Cut a piece of baking sheet for the bottom of a baking tray, and press the crumbled cookies to the bottom. Keep cool in refrigerator.

2) Whip vanilla sauce until foamed and then mix in curd, strawberries puree and sugars.

3) Heat up the lemon juice in microwave for a few seconds, put the gelatin sheets into the juice to melt completely. Pour the juice slowly into the curd mixture and keep stirring while pouring.

4) Spread the curd mixture into the baking tray and chill overnight before serving.

PS: I let the cake to set in refrigerator for about an hour before I decorated it with strawberries. So that the fruits stay nicely on top and would not drop into the curd mixture.

Strawberries Puree

I used about 10 dl of strawberry fruits to make 5 dl of strawberry puree. Store-bought is good also but it might be a little sweeter.

Whipped curd

Pecan nuts go well with strawberries!

Voilà!

A very refreshing and hearty cake, popular among all ages, just pick the fruits that you like and it will do! 😉

Vegetarian Curry Tofu with Eggplant / When I don’t feel like eating MEAT

Curry tofu with eggplant

You may not believe it, but once I was a vegetarian for two whole months! It is because I was traumatized after seeing a video where cute animals were being killed. This type of video tends to start nicely when small little piggy and chicks are walking happily in the farm, and then comes the bloody killing scene. OK enough! I had nightmares for such a long time. Anyhow it was very easy for me to be a vegetarian in Malaysian since there are so many vegetarian options available anytime anywhere. I often got ‘fake’ fish, chicken, lamb that have meat textures in my lunchbox, that I couldn’t even tell that they are vegetarian! My best friend Venus was my ‘Vegetarian Pal’ back then. We used to go pack our lunchbox from a vegetarian ‘economy rice 经济饭’ hawker stall in a food court nearby the beauty salon we worked at, every single day. Apparently you simply cannot eat the same food for two months straight, therefore we couldn’t help but eventually ate that delicious piece of Satay Chicken that was luring our soul…Oops. I remembered that night me and Venus bought foods from the night market that were for 7 people. We ate them all in 2 hours. It was an amazing breakthrough! 😉

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I have heard people struggling to make vegetarian food in general. Here me out, if you happen to have a vegetarian relative or friend coming over to your place like I do, this is the perfect dish for you to make. Quick and easy to make, yet tasty, gives good appetite and hard to go wrong with it. You can use these ingredients you find in normal grocery store, but the ones from ethnic store usually bring out a much better taste.

(Serve 3-4 people)

Ingredients:

1 pack tofu, cut into cubes

1/2 eggplant, cut into cubes

1 carrot, cut into 1cm pieces

1 red onion, sliced

1 can coconut milk (400ml)

5 kaffir lime leaves, shredded

2 tbsp red curry powder, mixed with 2 tbsp of water

1/2 lemon (optional)

1 tsp salt

dash of white pepper

Methods:

1) Heat up oil in wok, add onion and stir fry until fragrant. Add carrot and eggplant, cook these vegetables for a few minutes until soften.

2) Add tofu, kaffir lime leaves and curry paste. Add coconut milk and bring it to boil for 5 minutes. Keep stirring.

3) Season with salt and pepper. Squeeze lemon juice just before serving. Serve with Jasmin rice.

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PS: This is a milder version of what an Asian would prefer. Simply add more curry paste or chili powder for extra hotness.

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请慢用!

My husband likes it a lot! 🙂

Garlicky Pork Noodle Soup 猪肉粉 / My all time favorite

Pork noodle soup ready to serve

I remember when I used to live in Kuala Lumpur, there was this food court named ‘Big Prawns’ located about 1.5 kilometers away from our home. Despite all the delicacies you may find, like clay-pot chicken rice, Asam Laksa, economy rice buffet, grilled chicken wings, otak otak…, pork noodle soup is definitely my all time favorite. You have to be alert, got to remember to ask for the one with only pork meatballs, pork strips or minced meat. Otherwise you will find pork stomach, intestines, and sometimes blood sausages in your noodle soup when it is delivered! I am not a big fan of bizarre food, but of course it is up to one’s preference.

Later on when I moved back to Johor Bahru, Southern Malaysia where it is right next to Singapore, I’ve realized that they don’t sell pork noodle soup at all. According to Malaysian local newspaper GuangMing Daily, Pork noodle soup is actually one of the Kuala Lumpur iconic hot dishes. Therefore my friends, do try it out when you ever visit my home country. 🙂

Rice noodle

Summer Cabbage

This is my quick version of pork noodle soup whenever I have only 30 minutes to cook and I’m super hungry. I added pickled mustard for extra flavor which you can find in ethnic store.

Pickled Mustard

( Serve 1)

Ingredients:

50g Rice noodle

100g Pork strips

2 garlic cloves, minced

5dl Stock/ water

1 tbsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp white pepper

80g/ 1 portion summer cabbage, chopped

1 tbsp pickled mustard strips (optional)

Chopped spring onion (optional)

Fried onion (optional)

Methods:

1) Heat up oil in a deep wok/ sauce pan. Saute garlic in oil until brown. Add pork and pickled mustard strips, stir-fry until pork is brown and fragrant.

2) Add stock/ water and bring to boil. Add soy sauce, white pepper and summer cabbage. Let it cook for a few minutes until the cabbage is cooked.

3) Served in a bowl with chopped spring onion and fried onions. Enjoy!

PS: For more authentic version, use pork bone stock and served with pork meatballs and minced meat. 🙂

Garlic in the frying

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1 bowl of water for 1 portion

Almost ready

开动咯!:D