Friday, 26 February 2010

Preserved Sausage & Chicken Claypot Rice

Preparing "One Pot" dish is always the best and most convenient cooking method for working mum like me. Sometime when I am running out of ideas on what to cook or too lazy to do all the preparation/washing for cooking I will start thinking of my favourite one pot dish which is "Preserved Sausage & Chicken Claypot Rice".

This dish is preferred to be cooked in a claypot rather than rice-cooker or etc. Only with the claypot it will brings out the flavour and burning effect of the rice at the bottom of the pot which add on that special aroma to this dish.

Since now it is still within the Chinese New Year period (usually it last for 15 days), you can find all kinds of waxed meat/preserved sausages around some supermarket or those dried grocery stalls in the wet market. Out from the few range of "Preserved Sausage - 腊肠", I was attracted to this "XO Charcoal Sausage" which I wonder whether the sausage will have any "XO" liquor taste in it.

Ingredients: (serves 2 - 3)
1 1/2 Cup Uncooked Rice
3 Cup Water
3 Boneless Chicken Drumsticks with Thighs
1 Pair of Preserved Sausage
Some Shredded Ginger
A Few Section of Spring Onion

Marinade For Chicken:
1 Teaspoon of Light Soy Sauce
1 Teaspoon of Corn Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Cooking Wine
1/2 Teaspoon Dark Soy Sauce
Dash of Pepper

For Garnish:
Spring Onion, cut diagonal rings
Chilli, cut into rings

1. Rinse the uncooked rice a few times and soak it with 3 cups of water (usually the amount of water is twice the amount of uncooked rice) in the claypot for about an hour or so.
2. Washed, trim away the fats and skin of the chicken, cut into bite-size pieces and marinate it with the above marinade for at least 20 minutes.
3. Cut off a little slice from the top of the preserved sausage, peel off the outer layer of the skin (we always removed the outer layer of the plastic skin before eating), cut the sausage into 0.5cm thin slices and set aside.
4. Preheat a small saucepan and saute the shredded ginger and spring onion with 1 teaspoon of oil till fragrance, add in the marinated chicken pieces and fry for about 30 second on each side or till it turn slightly brown in colour.
5. Removed and set aside for later use.
6. Cook the rice over medium heat, when the water begins to boil, lower the heat and let it cooked till the water level is almost the same as the rice, arrange the sausage on top of the rice with the half cooked chicken in the center. (you have to work fast so that the water will not dry out before you finished add the ingredients)
7. Cover the lid of the claypot and simmer the rice and meat over very low heat for about 5 - 7 minutes till the meat is cooked through.
8. When done, garnish it with extra spring onion, cut chilli and drizzle of dark soy sauce and served hot.

~ The reason that I pan-fry the chicken pieces is to shorten the cooking time and at the same time enhance the flavour of the chicken.

For those who love one pot dish, I am sure this will be a quick and easy dish for you. And instead of having this all-time flavour at those stalls outside, why not try to grab some fresh ingredients and prepare this dish for you and your family instead. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Simmered Bitter Gourd & Chicken In Casserole

This "Simmer Bitter Gourd & Chicken In Casserole" is one of our favourite dish and I will be very excited whenever my mum told me that she is going to cook this for dinner. Every since my mum started to look after my boy while I was at work, she was very keen in experiment new dishes from the "Taiwan Cooking Series" which she will never missed an Episode from her Mio TV. So today, I am going to try cooking this dish with some guidelines and instructions from my mum......... :)

As you can see from the photos, you only required very basic ingredients which you can easily grab from the supermarket or some of them are even available in your fridge/pantry. The KEY ingredients for this dish are "Bitter gourd/Bitter Melon - 苦瓜" and "Fermented Black Beans - 豆豉" which both combined to bring out a cross between bitter and salty fragrance. For the meat portion, you can either used chicken wing/chicken pieces, pork ribs or even deep-fried fish slices. After all cooking is something that you can play around with the ingredients to come out with different varieties of dishes according to your liking. So for the above main ingredients and seasonings, you can whipped up at least 3 different dishes using pork, fish and chicken.

In order to have some extra flavour for the meat, it's always good to marinate it at least 20 - 30 minutes before cooking. For this simmered dish, I have pan-fried the chicken wings till slightly golden before adding them to simmer so as to pretend them from breaking up easily during simmering. The adding of chilli is to spice up and enhance the flavour of this dish, but if some of your family members cannot take spicy food, perhaps you can consider to leave chilli out or add less.

Ingredient: (serves 2 - 3)
6 Chicken Wings
1 Medium Bitter Gourd
1/2 Tablespoon Fermented Black Beans(豆豉)
1 Small Red Chilli, cut into rings
2 Slices Ginger
1 Clove Garlic, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Cooking Wine

80ml Water
1 Teaspoon Oyster Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Dark Soy Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Sesame Oil

1. Trim the chicken wings, rinse and wipe dry. Marinate the chicken wings with 1 teaspoon each of light soy sauce, oyster sauce, corn flour and some pepper and sesame oil. (leave it in the fridge for at least 20 - 30 minutes before cooking)
2. Rinse bitter gourd, cut into vertical halves, scrape off the white pith and cut into about 2" long vertical pieces. (Rub the bitter gourd pieces with 1 teaspoon of salt for about 30 seconds and rinse off as the salt will help to reduce the bitterness)
3. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in the wok, pan-fry the marinated chicken wings on both side till slightly golden, removed and set aside.
4. Next add in the chopped garlic, ginger, chilli(optional) and fermented black bean, give it a quick stir and saute them till fragrance, add in the bitter gourd pieces.
5. Keep on stirring the bitter gourd mixture for a few seconds then add in the chicken and seasoning when the mixture comes to boil, lower the heat and let it simmer(remember to cover the pot) for about 10 minutes or so till then chicken wings are cook through.
6. Removed and serve warm with rice.

I must admit, this is a very tempting dish especially it's "Sauce". I can have two bowls of rice just with this dish alone whenever my mum cooked it. And now mum is kind of jealous that I can also whipped out the same dish as her :p Posted by Picasa

Bitter Gourds are very low in calories but rich with precious nutrients such as an excellent source of vitamins, folic acid, zinc and also it has high dietary fiber. This fruit is rich in iron which contains twice the beta-carotene of broccoli and twice the calcium of spinach. If you don't like to eat the fruit perhaps you can considering boiling some "Bitter Gourd Pork Ribs Soup - 苦瓜排骨汤" for this hot weather.....

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Famous Crab King @ Marina South Pier

Time past really fast during festive season, last Sunday we just had our Reunion Dinner @ Si Chuan Dou Hua and today we are having another New Year lunch organised by Aunty Lily's family @ this "Famous Crab King Seafood Restaurant" which is located at "Marina South Pier - 滨海南码头".

"Famous Crab King - 强盛海鲜楼" has two branches in Singapore which is located in Toa Payoh Industrial Park and Marina South Pier. According to those who frequent these branches, they do have a solid reputation for providing fresh, quality food at reasonable prices. Marina South Pier branch is located on second storey of the pier and it's has an excellent view on the harbour despite you are dinning in the air-conditioning room or balcony view which you can enjoy the sea breeze/scenic while having your meal.

Upon arriving at the restaurant, we find that the dinning atmosphere was great with the harbour view clearly seen from the inside of the restaurant as well. Beside the that, they also have a few tanks of live seafood showcase at a corner near the kitchen area.

As usual, since it is still within the first 15 days of Chinese New Year, the custom of serving "Yusheng - 鱼生" as the starter of the meal still continued. The Yusheng here is quiet different from the usual one that we have, especially on their ingredients. From the name " Salmon Raw Fish Yu Sheng With Snow Pear - 水晶雪梨发财鱼生", you will be wondering how is the "Snow Pear - 雪梨" being incorporate into the Yusheng. To our surprised, they actually replace the white radish with shredded snow pear, and also some colourful "tadpole" eggs like sago which you don't really find in other Yusheng outside. So we give this dish about 8/10 for it's taste, colour and self-made crispy bites too...

While waiting for other dishes to be served, Rey and I went out to the balcony area where we can have a better view of the harbour. "Marina South Pier - 滨海南码头" is located in Marina South(used to be the place where people will gather around for steamboat, kite flying and etc during weekends) which is used as a terminal for tourists and day trippers who are boarding small boats and ferries heading for the Southern Islands. This pier was built to replace Clifford Pier since April 2006 to provide regular ferries to Kusu Island and Saint John's Island operate daily.

Em... This dish look sort of like "Pai Gu Wang - 排骨王" at first glance, but accordingly to my cousin, this is one of their famous signature dish known as " Pan Fried Pork Chop In Sweet & Sour Sauce - 翡翠香酥肉". The pork chop is very tender, juicy and fill with the aroma of the sauce. Most important, it does not taste/smell of those porky taste. This sure goes well with a bowl of steam rice.........

I love this " Braised Assorted Mushroom with Beancurd in Abalone Sauce - 鲍汁鲜菌豆腐". The outer layer of the doufu is crispy while the inner layer is soft and moist, accompany with the assorted mushroom and abalone sauce on top really enhance the flavour of the doufu. Other than these, this dish also served with some blanch "Spinach - 菠菜" on the side and the mushroom sauce goes really well with spinach.

Guess what, this is one of our all time favourite, "Deep Fried Prawns with Cereal - 麦片虾". Cousin was indeed very thoughtful that he actually give instruction to the chef to remove the shell of the prawns before stirring it through the cereal mixture. The cereal for this dish is nicely fried with that great aroma and the colour is still remains as light golden instead of over cooked/burnt. Overall, everyone of us give praise to this dish.

Em... this is the 4th Roast Chicken that I had for Chinese New Year dish. I still wondering why they must used roasted chicken instead of steam...........guess maybe is due to it's golden colour after deep-fried. I find this is rather a special dish that drizzle some combination of "Garlic, Spring Onion and White Onion" mixture on top of the roast chicken. But half of us still think that this combination should be placed on steam chicken instead of roast chicken so as to let the chicken absorb the fragrant and taste of the mixture.

Here comes the "Stars" of today's menu. We have two Crab dishes that is cooked in different method. First to come is their signature crab dish known as " Pumpkin Custard Crab - 金瓜奶黄蟹". I have read a few good review from magazine about this dish and today finally I got a chance to look and taste it. The pumpkin custard taste great with the deep-fried "Man Tou - 馒头", the sauce does not over powder by the pumpkin taste and they really combined well with the crab.

Next they served the "Fried Crab With Custard & Salted Yolk - 金沙奶油蟹" which is arranged in a very unique way that most of us have not seen before. They actually stacked up the pieces one by one on top of the crab shell to form a tall tower. This can be consider as one of the best Salted Egg Crab that I had tried before, the combination of the sauce is great, not too salty, not too sweet. Everything is just well combined and the crab pieces is nicely fried and overall we loved these two crab dishes. We do recommend you to give these a try if you do love crab too....

Lastly, cousin also ordered one of my brother's favourite dish which is this "Stewed Ee-Fu Noodle with Yellow Chives - 菲皇焖伊面". Accordingly to the dish, it supposed to be stewed with Yellow Chives, but when the dish is served we find there is a lot of assorted mushroom in it instead of yellow chives. I guess maybe they are out of stock for chives so they replaced it with mushroom instead....... The texture of the noodle is ok, but the taste of the sauce is not really good, still can have some room for improvement on this dish.

Finally, it's dessert time...... I have being waiting for dessert as usual. But I was kind of disappointed when they didn't served the "Chilled Mango Cream with Pomelo - 杨枝甘露" and replaced it with this "Red Bean Cream with Lotus Seeds - 莲子红豆沙". This red bean cream was kind of diluted rather than the creamy texture, and guess the serving waiter is either kind of new or he is simply not doing his job well as some of the bowl is only half filled and with too many lotus seeds while some bowls are empty with just the red bean soup instead. Posted by Picasa

Overall this place is still great for it's dish at a reasonable price if you wish to find some seaside view for dinning. Or if you are hanging around at "Marina Barrage - 滨海堤坝" area, perhaps you would also like to drop by for lunch/dinner which is less than 5 minutes drive from the Barrage. To get to Marina South Pier, you can either drive or travel by MRT to Marina Bay Station, and take bus service number 402 outside the station.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Hollywood Dinosaurs @ Jurong Bird Park

Wow.. I am sure upon looking at this photo you will be feeling just as shock and excited like us. Imagine if you are able to walk into the long lost world of ancient Dinosaurs to see and understand more details on their life-style isn't that be great and wonderful.......

Although this Hollywood Dinos Events started since last year mid December but unfortunately we are not aware of it until Mum got these complimentary tickets from one of my uncle during Chinese New Year. According to the ticket, the last day of this event will be on this coming Sunday, 21 February 2010 from 10am - 10pm.

Since there is a long holiday during Chinese New Year period, we decided to use these ticket on the 3rd Day of New Year. In order to go for New Year visit, we decided to set off at our destination early in the morning and hope to reach by 10.30am to as to avoid the noon crowd or hot weather. But....... these photos proofed that we were wrong, when we reached the traffic junction along "Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim" towards the "Jurong Bird Park" entrance. We were shock to see the Super long queue of cars along the road from the traffic junction all the way up to the car park entrance of the Bird Park. I think we waited for at least 30 - 40 minutes before entering the car park.........

Rey was very very excited even though we were stuck in the car during the waiting time. He was very eager to take a lot photo shots during on the Bird Park signboards, traffic jam, tress and etc. This was because, last week during his school "Field Trip" to Jurong Bird Park he was very upset as he didn't managed to take many photos due to camera battery die off(partly because I forgot to charge the battery for him and secondly he has being taking too many photos of his classmate in the bus during the journey).

But today he managed to take all these photos before the entrance of the Bird Park which he wanted to show me badly during his field trip. (p/s: this set of photo above is taken by him.... :p)

After spending some photo taking time at the entrance, finally we are in the world that is full of "Dinosaur's". At the entrance of we greeted by a "Therizinosaurus" which look pretty real and scary. Most of the kids in front of us was very excited and kept touching it's crawls and body but Rey on the other hand was kind of held back on the photo taking/touching.

In the 1st cave, there is this walking "Dinosaurs" that will dance with the background music and most of the kids/adult were enjoying it. This dancing dino will suddenly attack the audience in the first row without giving any warning sign and you can heard scream and laughter during the 10 minutes show.

Next we move on to the "Vine Lizard - Ampelosaurus" which is about 2 meter tall or above. According to the information given, this is found in France's Paleontogoist in 1989. Most of the little kids love this "soft looking" dino which seems to be more friendly for the kids.

Round the corner we were at the entrance of the 2nd cave, the 1st Huge Dino that greeted the visitor is this "Tyrannosaurus" which means tyrant lizard that appear during the late Cretaceous Period.

Passing through the second cave, it will lead you into the 3rd cave which is pretty dark and with sandy floor. There is also a rocking wooden bridge which you can walk over it and experience yourself in forest or so with dinosaurs chasing after you. In this cave, you can find "Suchomimus" which is a large spinosaurid-type dinosaur from the middle Cretaceous period. Rey was kind of turn off by the gaint flying lizard which is known as "Quetzalcoatlus" where their first fossils were found in Texas.

There are all kinds of Dinosaurs which is either display in door(in the dark caves with special effect) or outdoor which can look real from far. Despite which is your selection, I am sure this is a very good and interesting Educational Tour to bring your kids along during this coming weekend if you are interested before the ending of this event on Sunday, 21 February 2010.

There is also a time map at the resting tank after the 3rd caves where the kids can read and refresh their memories on those Dinosaurs that they have saw along the journey.

The whole visiting time takes about an hour to an hour and half depending on the kids and the photo session during the peak hours. All visitors are also encourage to take part of the lucky drawer where you need to answer 3 simple questions where you can find the answers along your dino hunting journey. At the end of the tour, you will find a little souvenir shop which is selling all kinds of Dinosaurs products, from soft toy, bags, caps and etc..... But the price is......errrrr....... to expensive.. imagine a medium size(about 2 feet or more) dino soft toy cost around S$120.00........

Overall, this is still a very worth going trip for kids to know more about Dinosaurs as well as seeing/touching them in real life. For more details about this event, click HERE. Posted by Picasa