Penang Char Kway Teow/ 素食炒粿条/ Fried flat rice noodle

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Char Kway Teow is said to be a dish symbolizes the Chinese people who came to Malaysia in the very beginning from the South of China. It is a street dish tossed with high heat and it generates high turnovers, like the hard-working Chinese people. It is true that these Chinese people are everywhere around the world. You see, every corners I’ve been, there are always Chinese restaurants somewhere, no matter if they are selling sweet & sour , thai food or sushi. They are all very hard-working business people. They go everywhere around the globe to look for opportunities.

As I said a thousand times before, I love noodles. Char Kway Teow is rice noodles coated with soy sauce, garlic and most importantly, packed with a strong, burned ‘wok’ flavor. Just like a perfect plate of fried rice, you got to have the ‘wok’ taste in it then you can call it right. You know, those that you might have gotten from the best restaurant in town. To get the ‘wok’ taste, it’s all about the ‘woking’. You’ve got to have your wok steaming hot and stir it real fast. With my home stove, the ‘wok’ flavor I managed to get was from the slightly bit of burning, and yet it is not the same like the one from the street back home. Unless you have a really big fire and a steady wok pan, you must let it burn a little in order to get there.

Char Kway Teow is a popular dish favored by all ages, always. Back home, you can get one steaming hot portion of Char Kway Teow with 50cent, maximum 1 Euro. The street hawker always ask: ‘With or without chili?  With or without eggs? With or without clams?’ Anyway it is just as good, so easy! If you have a super good, well heated stove at home, even only the dark soy sauce will do it perfect. It is not difficult to make, and it still tasted so good on the next day from the microwave. 🙂 What an efficient dish!

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Note: For a more authentic version, add some shrimps in and if you have, try clams. In Malaysia, some even like to have the clams raw in the noodles, so they are tossed in just before serving. But I don’t recommend doing so unless you have a really good stomach and really fresh clams. If I were you, I would make more portions, because it has never been enough! 😀IMG_3008

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(Make 4 servings)

Ingredients:

250g Dried flat rice noodle, soaked until soft

4 Garlic cloves, minced

50g Bean Sprouts

50g Chinese Cabbage, sliced

1 Firm Tofu, fried and cubed

Spring Onion, chopped

3 Eggs (optional)

4 tbsp Soy sauce

2 tbsp Chili paste (optional)

2 tbsp Dark soy sauce

Pinch of Salt

Dash of white Pepper

Fried Onion

Methods:

1) Heat up wok pan until it’s steaming hot, fry garlic with oil until golden brown. Add in chili paste. (Be careful!)

2) Add in the noodles, soy sauce and dark soy sauce. Stir with high heat until the noodle is well coated and dried.

3) Toss in all the vegetables and tofu. Mix well. Make a well in the middle and break in the eggs. Wait until the eggs are half-way cooked and then stir well with the noodles.

4) Season with salt and pepper. Dish up and enjoy with fried onion.

 

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IMG_3086I have to take this picture because it was the third plates he took of that dish! My husband usually dislike carbohydrates, but this time, he couldn’t resist! 😉

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Self-made Marzipan Babies / Organizing a baby shower/ It’s a BOY!

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Yesterday my friend Laura and I organized a baby shower to my sister, Evon who is 9 months pregnant. It was our first time to organize an event like this.  I’m glad that the party went perfectly well without having the possible fuss of sudden baby delivery. Who knows?! I also felt touched to see Evon smiled and laughed so happily, which you could tell from her face all day long. I am glad that many of our friends showed up.  As you know foreigners like us, we don’t really have many friends nor family around, since this is not the place we grew up after all. The stereo type Finnish people are quite introvert and independent that I find it difficult to win their hearts. Therefore every effort they put and time they sacrifice to us, it means so much to us. We are very thankful and will always keep it to our hearts.

Not only that our friends came, they brought drinks, decoration, and gifts like diapers, pacifiers, baby wipes, baby clothes and etc. It was so fun to see those small little things that none of us are familiar with! We also played games like guessing the tummy width and baby names. Despite the reality, my husband and I have been calling the baby ‘Kasimir’ which is a Nordic or Russian name that sounds like Cashmere. 😀 He he he… Evon and her husband have always hated it but since they never tell the baby’s name, Kasimir sounds just fine to us. For food, Laura and I made a table full of Spanish pinchos and omelets as well as Mexican tortilla chips with guacamole.  Laura also made her signature Mango cake, which I have previously modified to a Strawberry version, click here for recipe. To fit the theme, I decided to make baby decoration for the cake. It was my first time ever to make a decor like this. Luckily I have experience playing with clay as a kid, and those baby images found from Google did make me believed that I can make it too. Why not? No tools or what so ever, it’s okay! I used my imagination. 😉

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Big thanks to Ksenia and Laura for sending me the pictures! 🙂

(Make 3 babies)

Ingredients:

80g White color Marzipan

1tsp Cocoa Powder

1tsp Vodka/Gin (More for diluting)

Methods:

1. Knead marzipan until it is soften and workable. Divide in 3 parts to make 3 babies.

2. To make a baby, take 1/3 of divided marzipan and roll into a ball to make a baby head. Use your thumbs to press on the ‘face’ to resemble eye sockets. (See image below)

3. Take 1/4 from the rest of the marzipan and roll into a long strip for making legs and arms. Arms should be thinner and smaller, and legs should be thicker and bigger.

4. Make the rest of the marzipan into the shape of an egg to resemble the body part. Make the lower part of the body rounder and bigger to resemble the tummy. Use fork to make chest lines.

5. Use any left-over or steal a small piece somewhere to make a tiny nose and ears. Use knife and fork to make shapes of the fingers and toes. (Repeat step 1-5 to make another 2 babies)

6. Mix cocoa powder with vodka/gin. Use a toothpick to dip the color and draw eyes and mouth carefully.  Dilute the color by adding more vodka/gin and brush it on the body to make it looks more real.

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Be creative of baby posing! 🙂IMG_2894

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My Malaysian friends said that they looked really scary and would cause them nightmares, while my Finnish friends loved them and said: ‘How cute! How cute!’ You see, cultural differences. But hey, it will work for Halloween too! Be prepared! 😉1383184_10151896756977840_2083112697_n

Szechuan Style Potato Shreds / Potato fetish & my Chinese friends 酸辣土豆丝

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I love potatoes. We Asians eat potatoes in all kinds of ways. I reckon the Peruvians do it the same way too, at least my Peruvian classmate told me so. Unlike most Europeans who eat potatoes as side dish or starter, at home we treat potatoes as a source of vegetables. Hence we eat it with rice. My Finnish friends were surprised and wondering, who on earth eat carbohydrates with carbohydrates? Well we and the Peruvians! If you happen to know some other interesting ways of eating potatoes, do let me know. 😉

Back home my mom used to make potatoes with fat pork belly with a lot of leek, it was one of my favorite dish. But for some reasons, I don’t quite like pork belly anymore. As some of you might have read about my ‘flexitarian’ diet, it does reduce my craving for meat. Good for me! I will try to make my mom’s recipe in vegetarian version and share it with you guys, if it turns out fine.

This dish, Szechuan style potato shreds was introduced by my friends Hong and her husband Xing, who came to study in Finland initially. Finland is a perfect place to study by the way; top quality education, high standard and most importantly free of charge for most foreign students. Despite the long cold winter, the only negative thing is that it is rather difficult for foreigners to get a job to work for a living, especially when you don’t speak Finnish language. When I first came to Finland, I didn’t know any Finnish. Therefore I had to accept a job in an Asian restaurant with extremely low pay, and that’s where I met my ex-colleague, Hong. Hong and I were very hard-working people. We were not that closed then, but I have always known that we had something in common, that we shared the same ‘helpless’ feeling. We were unhappy, to work for overtime, illegal pay and harsh employer. But we needed to work for every cent we could to afford our living in Finland besides studying full-time. None of us dare to report to the government since we were so afraid to lose the only jobs we had.

Thank god we learned Finnish eventually and found our way out from the trap. Not only that I graduated and still continue for further studies, I am now having a full-time job with decent salary and standardized treatments, even better than what the laws says. I have a great singing career with my band, have the opportunities to travel around places, things are going so well. Hong went on to open her own restaurant, this year she even managed to open another unit in downtown Helsinki. You see, things always turn out just fine; at least I’d love to think so. Don’t worry, be happy!

Hong loves Szechuan style potato shreds. I had no idea that there was another way of eating potatoes that I haven’t discovered, until I was invited to Hong and Xing’s home to eat. I have been in their home a few times; every single time we had on our dining table, potato shreds! I became loving it. It’s sour, spicy, salty and crunchy, simply irresistible! My unusual European husband loves this dish too. I’m so glad that he is never picky when it comes to food. I just love the whole out of him!

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Ingredients:

3 Medium size potatoes, julienned

1-2 Dried Chilies, soaked in hot water

1 Celery stalk (optional), chopped

1 tbsp Dark/ white vinegar

1 tbsp Soy sauce

1 tsp salt

Dash of white pepper

Methods:

1) Soak julienned potatoes in cold water to remove starch, wash and drain dry.

2) Heat oil in pan and fry chilies, celery with high heat until fragrance. Add potato shreds and stir- fry until the color turns transparent.

3) Add vinegar, soy sauce, salt and white pepper, stir well to allow potatoes to absorb the flavors. Add more vinegar if desired. Serve when the potatoes are still crunchy.

Note: It is important to wash away the starch to allow potatoes to cook faster in short time. It is also crucial to not over cook the potatoes. 😉

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I love the scent of celery, sometimes. But feel free to omit it or replace for spring onion if you like. 🙂IMG_0719

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Clear Noodle Soup / 清汤面

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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.

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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)

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!

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(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!
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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!

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! 🙂