Showing posts with label Traditional Dish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Traditional Dish. Show all posts

Monday, 21 December 2015

Happy Winter Solstice 冬至节快乐 and Tang Yuan 汤圆 (Chinese Glutinous Rice Balls) in Sweet Fragrant Osmanthus Lemongrass Pandan Sweet Soup

First of all, HAPPY WINTER SOLSTICE/Dongzhi Festival (冬至节快乐) to all Chinese who are celebrating this meaningful festival.  This  year, Dongzhi Festival falls on 22nd December. Traditionally, Winter Solstice is also a time for the family to get together.  During this festival, making and eating tang yuan 汤圆 (glutinous rice balls) symbolize reunion and its sweet syrup symbolizes prosperity.  In China, Dongzhi was originally celebrated as an end-of-harvest festival.  
According to Wikipedia, Dōngzhì Festival or Winter Solstice Festival (Chinese: 冬 至; pinyin: Dōngzhì; literally: "the extreme of Winter") is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians during the Dongzhi solar term (winter solstice) on or around December 22 (according to East Asia time). In 2015, the festival falls on Tuesday, December 22.

The origins of this festival can be traced back to the yin and yang philosophy of balance and harmony in the cosmos. After this celebration, there will be days with longer daylight hours and therefore an increase in positive energy flowing in. The philosophical significance of this is symbolized by the I Ching hexagram fù (復, "Returning").

Traditionally, the Dongzhi Festival is also a time for the family to get together. One activity that occurs during these get-togethers (especially in the southern parts of China and in Chinese communities overseas) is the making and eating of tangyuan (湯圓) or balls of glutinous rice, which symbolize reunion. Tangyuan are made of glutinous rice flour and sometimes brightly coloured. Each family member receives at least one large tangyuan in addition to several small ones. The flour balls may be plain or stuffed. They are cooked in a sweet soup or savory broth with both the ball and the soup/broth served in one bowl. It is also often served with a mildly alcoholic unfiltered rice wine containing whole grains of glutinous rice (and often also Sweet Osmanthus flowers), called jiuniang.

In northern China, people typically eat dumplings on Dongzhi. It is said to have originated from Zhang Zhongjing in the Han Dynasty. On one cold winter day, he saw the poor suffering from chilblains on their ears. Feeling sympathetic, he ordered his apprentices to make dumplings with lamb and other ingredients, and distribute them among the poor to keep them warm, to keep their ears from getting chilblains. Since the dumplings were shaped like ears, Zhang named the dish "qùhán jiāoěr tāng" (祛寒嬌耳湯) or dumpling soup that expels the cold. From that time on, it has been a tradition to eat dumplings on the day of Dongzhi.

Old traditions also require people with the same surname or from the same clan to gather at their ancestral temples to worship on this day. There is always a grand reunion dinner following the sacrificial ceremony.

The festive food is also a reminder that celebrators are now a year older and should behave better in the coming year. Even today, many Chinese around the world, especially the elderly, still insist that one is "a year older" right after the Dongzhi celebration instead of waiting for the lunar new year.

To Taiwanese people, the festival in winter also plays a very important role. It is also a tradition for Taiwanese to eat tangyuan on this day. They also use the festive food as an offering dish to worship the ancestors.

In an interesting twist, in accordance with ancient Taiwanese history, many people take some of the tangyuan that have been used as offerings and stick them on the back of the door or on windows and tables and chairs. These "empowered" tangyuan supposedly serve as protective talismans to keep evil spirits from coming close to children.

In addition to following some of the customs practiced in China, the people of Taiwan have their own unique custom of offering nine-layer cakes as a ceremonial sacrifice to worship their ancestors. These cakes are made using glutinous rice flour in the shape of a chicken, duck, tortoise, pig, cow, or sheep, and then steamed in different layers of a pot. These animals all signify auspiciousness in Chinese tradition.

Another interesting custom in Taiwan is that many people take invigorating tonic foods during this particular winter festival. To the Taiwanese, winter is a time when most physical activities should be limited and you should eat well to nourish your body. This practice follows the habits shown by many animals which follow the law of nature and hibernate throughout winter months to rejuvenate and to preserve life. In order to fight cold temperatures, it is necessary to eat more fatty and meaty foods during winter when your body can better absorb the rich and nutritional foods at this time due to a slower metabolic rate.

Since Dongzhi is the "Extreme of Winter", Taiwanese regard it as the best time of the year to take tonic foods. Some of the most widely popular winter tonic foods enjoyed by Taiwanese to fight cold and strengthen the body's resistance are mutton hot pot and ginger duck hot pot. Other foods like chicken, pork, and abalone are also common materials used in making tonic foods with nurturing herbs such as ginseng, deer horn, and the fungus cordyceps.

This year, I decided to make a different syrup.  Instead of the usual pandan and ginger syrup, I added lemongrass and osmanthus 桂花 as well.  Well, it tasted much much better and is also healthier, right?  As for the tang yuan, besides sweet potato, I also have green tea powder for the green color instead of the usual pandan colour too!  Hehehe...
Ingredients :
Sweet Potatoes Tang Yuan :
- 100g glutinous rice flour
- 150g orange sweet potato (steamed and mashed)
- 1tbsp cornstach

- 1/4 cup warm water

Method :
1) Mix the above ingredients and knead until a smooth dough is formed.

2) Divide the dough into several pieces and roll into small balls. I have various sizes!

3) Cook the glutinous rice balls in a pot of boiling water. Stir gently to prevent the rice balls to stick at the bottom. Please take note that when the rice balls float to surface, it is cooked.

4) Transfer the cooked tang yuan to a pot of cold water and drain.

5) Serve tang yuan in a bowl with your favorite syrup or sweet soup.

Step by step pictures of cooking the tang yuan

Sweet Soup/Syrup : to taste (no exact measurement)
- 2.5litre water
- 10 pandan leaves
- 10 lemongrass/serai (slit and crushed)
- 2 big thumbsized ginger (crushed)
- 2 bar of brown cane sugar
- some dried osmanthus

Method :
1) Put everything in a large pot and boil. I slow boiled for around half an hour as I love the fragrant of the ginger and lemongrass in the syrup. Mine is more towards like sweet soup dessert (tongsui) instead of syrup. You can adjust according to your preference.

Making tang yuan is very easy as you can 'mix and match' the ingredients to your liking
As for the sweet soup or syrup, you too can 'mix and match'' whatever that fancies you
Isn't it simply easy yet mouth-watering??
Happy Winter Solstice 冬至节快乐 to all my dear readers 

Sorry to inform that for the time being, I have disabled comment box as I won't be able to return visit to my fellow bloggers who are kind enough to drop me a line or two. The comment box will be enabled when I am not so tied up with my work schedule. However, you may contact me by leaving your message or comment at SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL AND HEALTHY LIVING FACEBOOK. My sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused. Thanks for visiting my blog and have a nice day :)

Friday, 23 October 2015

Simple Braised Tofu with Minced Meat and what better way to serve it with plain rice congee during this hazy conditions than eating out

First of all, my sincere apologies for MIA for quite a while.  Well, finally I am able to squeeze some time for my readers and followers who have been actively visiting my cyber home even though there isn't any new updates from me.  Of course from the live traffic feed I am able to see new and existing viewers still keep coming in.  I am touched!!!!  My sincere gratitude for all your generous support.
Well, with the current hazy conditions which hit Singapore and Malaysia, most of us have not been feeling well and even our appetite are affected too.  In fact most of the time, I have been cooking savory or plain rice congee for lunch or dinner for my family.  In case you are interested, you may click at this link for more congee recipes rice congee/porridge.
As I was scratching my head what to cook the other day, I realised that I had a medium sized of pork belly in my freezer and 5 pieces of hard tofu.  Aha... why not cook a simple dish to go with plain rice congee?  So, here's this simple yet appetizing recipe.

Ingredients :
- 1 strip of pork belly (blanched and cut into small pieces or minced)
- 5 pcs hard tofu (cut into eight, slightly fried until golden brown)
- 1/2 tbsp fermented soy bean paste/tau cheong
- 1 bulb of garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 Bombay onion (finely chopped)
- water (enough for braising)

Seasonings : (to taste)
- a dash of salt
- a dash of pepper
- a dash of mixed spice
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp oyster sauce
- 3 tbsp caramel sauce (reduce the amount if you don't like your dish to be in dark colour)
- 1 tsp sugar

Method :
1) Heat some oil in a wok and pan fry the tofu until slightly brown.

2) Set the tofu aside.

3) With the remaining oil, add pork belly and stir fry for a while.

4) Then add garlic, onion, and fermented soy bean paste and continue stir fry until aromatic.

5) Add in fried tofu and seasoning. Stir and mix well.

6) Finally add enough water and cover.

7) Let it boil over high heat for about 5 minutes. Then, lower the heat and let it simmer until the gravy is thickened.

8) It takes about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the fire and pot/wok used. Add water if you want more gravy.

9) Dish up and serve with plain porridge or steamed rice.

Another similar dish you might be interested.
Have a great weekend ahead and cheers!

Sorry to inform that for the time being, I have disabled comment box as I won't be able to return visit to my fellow bloggers who are kind enough to drop me a line or two. The comment box will be enabled when I am not so tied up with my work schedule. However, you may contact me by leaving your message or comment at SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL AND HEALTHY LIVING FACEBOOK. My sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused. Thanks for visiting my blog and have a nice day :)

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Easy Peasy Homemade Crispy Roast Pork Belly 脆皮烧肉 using Happy Call Pan

Roast pork belly or 烧肉 (sau rou) is in fact not that difficult to prepare.  Almost everyone can achieve it if you can get the right technique.  You can either use oven, non-stick pan or any of your preferred pan.  As for me, I used Happy Call Pan. To me, searing roast pork using Happy Call pan is a breeze.... no splattering of oil and cleaning the pan is also hassle free!
I adapted this simple homemade 脆皮烧肉 from Agnes Chang's Cookbook 'Let's Eat'.  However, instead of using oven for roasting, I used my treasured Happy Call Pan.  No regrets and I strongly recommend you to use HPC if you have one at home.  

Crispy Roast Pork Belly 脆皮烧肉
Marinade adapted from Let's Eat pg 24 (my modification in red)
- 1.3kg (600gm) pork belly with skin (whole block)
- 1 tsp cooking oil
Marinade (mixed)
- 3pcs (1/2 pc) fermented bean curd (nam yee) - mashed
- 1 tsp (2 tsp) five spice powder
- 2 tbsp chopped garlic (1 tsp garlic powder)
- 2 tbsp chopped shallots (I omitted)
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp (1 tbsp) vinegar (for rubbing the skin)
- 3 tbsp (1 tsp) salt for rubbing the skin
Method :
1)  Wipe skin with kitchen towel to remove any water.  Then, using a sharp pin holder or knife, poke the skin all over as shown above.
2)  Rub vinegar all over the skin and followed by salt.
3)  Then, rub marinade all over the meat.  
4)  Leave the marinated meat in a covered container overnight in the refrigerator.
5)  Remove marinated meat from the refrigerator.  Sprinkle and rub some five spice powder onto the meat.  I prefer extra five spice powder for that extra ommph flavor!
5)  Heat 1 tsp cooking oil in your HPC.  Place marinated pork belly on the HPC with the skin side up.  Close the lid and cook over medium heat until cooked.  Do the same to the skin and all four sides of the meat.
6)  Remove  from HPC and leave it aside to cool completely.
 7)  Using a sharp knife, chop it into your preferred serving size.
The meat is tender and juicy
 and the skin is crispy and crunchy
Give this a try and you will be surprised that your homemade roast pork belly is in fact better than those store bought ones.
Happy Trying and hope you have an enjoyable week :)

I am linking this post with Cook-Your-Books #19 @ kitchen flavours

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Monday, 22 September 2014

Ginger Chicken Wine

Ginger Chicken Wine is usually labelled as confinement food for ladies during confinement period due to its efficiency in expelling wind and helps to strengthen the body.  There are a few versions of ginger chicken wine and for those who have yet to try the other version, do click at the links below for the recipe :

As I have been under the weather for few weeks due to bloated stomach and wind in my body, I decided to cook Ginger Chicken Wine.  Moreover, it's our family comfort food too.  This Ginger Chicken Wine is very easy to prepare and delectable too!  And yes, felt so much better after taking this but in addition, I too, boiled Ginger Lemongrass Tea.  It helps a lot too!

Ginger  Chicken Wine 
(adapted from Boon's Secret Recipe 2 with some minor modifications in red)

Ingredients :
- half free ranged chicken (chopped into bite pieces and marinated for one hour)
- 1 bowl of old Bentong ginger (sliced)
- 2 whole bulbs of garlic (peeled and leave as whole)
- 300ml water (or more if you prefer extra gravy)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil

Marinade :
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1/2 tbsp cornflour

Seasoning A :
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce

Seasoning B :
- 4 tbsp of Chinese cooking Wine (I used Hua Tiao Chiew)
- 4 tbsp of Ginger Wine (I used Eu Yang Sang)

Method  :
1)  Heat wok with one tablespoon of sesame oil.  Saute ginger and garlic till aromatic.
2)  Stir in marinated chicken and stir fry till chicken meat has turned whitish.
3)  Add water and seasoning (A).  Bring to boil and turn to low heat.  Simmer for 25 minutes or until the chicken meat is tender and cooked.
4)  Add in seasoning (B). Stir and mix well.  
5)  Dish up and serve with hot steamed rice.
 Serve with hot steamed rice
Hope you all have a wonderful and healthy week ahead :)

I'm linking this post with Cook-Your-Books #16 @ kitchen flavours
                                      I am linking this to The Weekend Social - Recipe, DIY and Craft Link Party Wk 39

To receive new updates, do LIKE SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL AND HEALTHY LIVING on FACEBOOK. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving me comments. I really appreciate all your visits and comments! Have a nice day :)