Lan Jie style Steamed Tilapia with Panasonic Cubie Oven

If you come into my kitchen, you might assume that I’m a gadget geek. Well, it wouldn’t be too far from the truth as we had to clear out a good portion of our kitchen to welcome the newest member, and joining my long list of high tech kitchen appliances is the Panasonic Cubie Oven.

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After using the Panasonic Cubie Oven for a week, trying out its different functions: I can now share with you some of the pros and cons of this device. The first thing I did with this, of course, was to steam a fish. Before this, I shall mention that Kevin and I had a debate on whether it’s possible to do a whole fish seeing it’s much smaller than our oven. Turns out, it might be compact, it’s definitely spacious enough to cook a good sized fish!

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Fish on the side for comparison. Turned on the steam mode to check how it works and prompted geeked out haha. More on that later.

Since we had a Tilapia in our freezer waiting to be used, what better to share our current favourite recipe?

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This dish is inspired by the famous Lan Jie restaurant which has numerous branches across Klang Valley. This restaurant specialises on Steamed Tilapia. In fact, that’s all everyone eats when they are there. Its concept is that everyone gets a fish each. You can choose the level of heat and that’s about it. Yet it’s the burst of flavours due to the super umami toppings that makes the dish so enjoyable.

The recipe is simple, so it’s important that the quality of the fish is good. The recipe I found was shared by Kimberly (Hi Kim! BTW I’m still following your blog religiously. Closet fan here haha). Actually, I couldn’t tell for sure if it’s exactly like Lan Jie because I always go for super spicy so it kinda drowns out everything else. But this recipe is tasty enough.

Lan Jie inspired Steamed Tilapia

1 Tilapia (I used a Red one, Lan Jie uses Black)
1 thumb sized ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 chilli padi
2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Soy Bean Paste (Taucu)
1 splash of Shao Xing Wine
Spring Onion and Coriander to Garnish

1. Heat a pan with a neutral oil. Fry garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add soy bean paste, soy sauce and Shao Xing wine and stir around for 1 minute until the sauce is nice and combined. Add chilli and then turn off heat (beware of the cooking fume… it’s pungent!).

2. Prep the fish as usual, making a few shallow slices across the body. You might want to quickly blanch it if you are worried about the muddy taste. If the fish is super fresh, it should be ok though. Place the fish on steaming dish. Once the sauce is cooked, poured it over the fish.

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3. Set the Panasonic Cubie Oven to Steam Mode – Medium, and set the timer to 15minutes. Or select Steamed Fish from the Auto Cook Menu (which is number 1) and put in the weight and press start. Then just watch the cubie work its magic!

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The Cubie Oven has a water tank on the top right corner which takes up to 600ml of water (cold, tap water will do. Never mineral water). During the steam mode, it basically squirts out water to a small sink then heat it for the evaporation. Kinda cool watching it work and in fact, I was totally geeking out during the first few times.

So I’ve tried both the Auto cook mode and Manual input and both works like a charm. The fish came out perfectly cooked!

And of course, to steam this normally, either do it traditionally over a wok (or whatever steaming device you have) for 15 minutes on medium heat.

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5. To serve, simply garnish with spring onion and coriander… and extra chilli if you like. Serve with plenty of rice!

Steaming food is a breeze with the Cubie. The only downside is that you do have to do a proper wipe down after it completely cools down because the water tends to pool at the bottom, even though there’s a drip tray at the front and bottom part of the oven (which should also be clean every time after use). Basically, it’s important to be diligent with cleaning to prevent limestone build up.

For more information on Panasonic Cubie Oven, hop over to their website, or check out Panasonic’s facebook page.


Easy Steamed Tofu

This is a question I get asked a lot: “How do you manage your time with so many things on your plate?”. My typical answer would be “Well, I don’t think about it, I just go about finishing my tasks and doing what I have to do to make myself happy.” The second most common question is: “How do you even have time to cook?”. This is simple: I cook complicated dishes when I have more time (admittedly sometimes I have to clear the schedule for cooking especially now with Plateculture, not complaining though), and when I don’t or when I don’t feel like it, my dishes are simple and usually take less than 30 minutes. I’m also more relaxed after I spend sometime in the kitchen, which is always a good thing. I was already cooking almost everyday when I was working full-time as a doctor and part-time singer. When there’s a will, there’s a way.

Well, that brings us to the recipe I’d like to share today: The humble steamed tofu. Tofu is usually not high on anyone’s list of favourite food, which is a shame seeing it’s a great source of protein and has cholesterol reducing properties. It also contains soy isoflavones which has been shown to be extremely beneficial for women (more on that in my upcoming post). Besides the nutritional benefits, it’s also a great vehicle for transporting flavours. Here I’ve used very simple toppings and seasonings to transform the blank canvas.

Steamed Tofu with Minced Pork, Mushrooms and Salted Egg Yolk.
Steamed Tofu with Minced Pork, Mushrooms and Salted Egg Yolk.

Apart from the short amount of time needed for this, the best thing is that everything is steamed and there is no need to fire up any frying pan. Which means the kitchen will remain relatively clean. I’m sure that’s a bonus for everyone.

Steamed Tofu with Minced Pork, Mushrooms and Salted Egg Yolk (serve 2)
1 block Smooth Tofu (also called Silken Tofu)
50g Minced Pork, marinated with light soy sauce, salt and pepper
3 Shitake Mushrooms, rehydrated and diced into small pieces
1 Salted Egg, steamed or boiled.
2 stalks Spring Onion, thinly chopped
1 tablespoon Shao Xing Wine
1 tablespoon Light Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil

Optional: Dried Shrimp and Fried shallots but kinda defeats the purpose of no frying.

Remove tofu from packaging and drain excess liquid.

Mix the seasoning with the minced pork and stir into a sticky paste, mixed in the chopped mushrooms. Then place the meat mixture on top of the tofu, lightly press it flat (be careful not to break the tofu). Drizzle Shao Xing Wine, Soy sauce on top and steam on high for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam the salted egg with rice. When it’s ready, cut in half and remove the egg yolk (you can use the egg white for other dishes). Break egg yolk into small pieces and place on top of the tofu when it’s ready, finish with sprinkle of spring onions and drizzle of sesame oil.

Ready in less than 15 minutes!
Ready to eat in less than 20 minutes!

Pair this dish with another steamed vegetable dish (I steamed some choy sum with my rice too) and brown rice and you have yourself a very comforting and satisfying meal.

Want some?
Want some?

Granted, the salted egg yolk is probably not the healthiest thing on the plate but what it does is providing the much needed umaminess. To bring this dish to next level, you can even try adding century egg too (funky looking and slightly funky in taste but goes extremely well with tofu).

Do you like tofu? What is your favourite tofu dish?

I am submitting this to the Little Thumbs Up “Egg” event organized by Bake for Happy Kidsmy little favourite DIY and hosted by Baby Sumo of Eat Your Heart Out.

Chinese New Year’s Cake (年糕 Nian Gao)

An important announcement to make before anything else: I’m featured in a food magazine! The January issue of nourish! magazine is now available for sale. I’m waiting for my own copy, but if you see one on the stand, do get one. It’s more than just an ordinary food magazine, I can promise you that.

Pic from Chasingfooddreams
Pic from Chasingfooddreams

With Chinese (Lunar) New Year around the corner, I’d like to share a few CNY related recipes. I’m not huge on celebrating the occasion anyway because all my family members are scattered around the country (and out of the country), but I do like to join in the fun by cooking/baking. The first recipe would be the sticky goodness that is synonymous with Chinese New Year itself: Nian Gao.

Nian Gao (年糕) or Chinese New Year’s Cake is an auspicious food item made during the Chinese (Lunar) New Year period. It has been around for more than 3000 years. There are many regional variations, even Korean and Japanese have their own versions but essentially this is made with glutinous rice and sugar. It’s believed that eating Nian Gao can bring us good luck because ‘Nian Gao’ is a homonym for “higher year”, thus symbolises promotions, prosperity or simply for kids: growing taller. Now that I don’t need to grow any taller, prosperity and progression in my career is what I wish for.

I’ve always thought that making Nian Gao is difficult due to the caramelised sugar. But turns out all you need is a little patience and a pair of watchful eyes. I’ve consulted my mum for the family recipe, and referred to Sonia’s recipe on her blog. The version I made is probably closest to Cantonese or Hokkien version. It’s simple, a little time consuming, but guaranteed to taste better than what you’ll get from the stores.

Freshly steamed gooey Nian Gao
Freshly steamed gooey Nian Gao

Makes three ramekins. Feel free to increase the ratio to 500:500:500 (or more)

350g Glutinous Rice flour
350ml Water
350g Sugar (I used 250g brown sugar and 100g caster sugar)
2 tablespoons peanut oil (you can use lard too, but no thanks for me)
Banana leaves
3 Red Dates

Place glutinous rice flour, water, oil and 250g of sugar in a big bowl and stir to mix well.

In a small saucepan, add 100g caster sugar and cook until sugar is fully caramelised. You will need to watch it carefully once the sugar starts to melt and stir the sugar around to distribute the heat. Once ready, turn off the heat immediately and pour into the flour mixture. Stirring to combine and then pass through a sieve to remove any lumps.

Line the ramekins or steaming bowls with banana leaves. Pour the mixture to just below the brim. Steam on medium heat for 2 hours. Watch the water level and add more when needed. Place a red date on top of nian gao halfway through. You’ll know that it’s done when the surface is quite firm.

You can definitely enjoy it freshly steamed. The texture will be super gooey (I’ll admit that I stole a few spoonfuls).

Isn't that just so tempting?
Isn’t that just so tempting?

It won’t be easy to unmold for the first couple of days or so. But after storing in the fridge for more than 5 days, it starts to firm up more. I took one of them out today to have a look.

Beautiful! My Grandma will be proud.

The banana leaves peel off easily. And it’s suitable to be lightly pan fried with egg (you won’t be able to do this when it’s still fresh… it will just disintegrate into sticky sugar syrup). Pan frying with egg adds that extra savoury note and not to mention the crispy coating. I’ve been eating them this way since I was a child.

Glorious looking Nian Gao!
Glorious looking Nian Gao!

It’s really easy. You just cut a few slices off (either with kitchen string or knife), dip each slices in beaten egg, and pan fried both side until crispy. Remove from pan and drain on absorbent paper. Enjoy while hot!

Look at that deliciousness!
Look at that deliciousness!

Yes, it is indeed a little on the greasy side, but not less so than the deep fried version!

So, how’s your Chinese (Lunar) New Year preparation coming along?

I am submitting this post to Chinese New Year Delights 2013 hosted by Sonia aka Nasi Lemak Lover.

Celebrating This Blog’s 1st Birthday with Purple Carrot Cake

First of all… my blog has turned 1!! Yay *throws confetti* Over the year, I’ve written 120 posts including this one, which is more productive than I’ve expected. Needless to say, it has helped me widen my cooking/baking repertoire and opened doors that I didn’t even think of opening. In less than a week’s time, we’ll find out if this humble blog has gained enough votes to win the Bloggers’ Choice at the Time Out KL Food Awards. Upgraded from a mere spectator last year to a Nominee this year, it’s not a bad achievement. Wish me luck.

I have indeed promised another recipe that a lot of you were curious about. How many of you have seen Purple Carrots? I, for one was blissfully ignorant until my sister posted up her experimental recipe of Purple Carrot Cake. No, not the Sweet Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, but the Chinese Loh Bak Gou (萝卜糕), made with Rice flour and Radish.

My favourite colour. Forgot to take a pic of those carrots I had so had to google this image.

Upon further research, I found out that carrots were originally yellow, white, red and purple until the Dutch growers bred an orange variety in the 17th Century – it was said to honour William of Orange. What?! I say bring back the original colours (especially the purple)! Not only they are prettier (which is always important), they also contains higher amount of antioxidants that other purple fruits and vegetables have, such as blueberries and red grapes.

I have to give plenty of credits to my sister for bringing back a pack of these Purple Carrots for both my mother and I. So far I have not seen them locally, so if you come across any, do let me know. My mom did the same thing with the carrots but only gave me a little bit, hmmph! Of course, I had to make more. Are we the first bunch of people who made Purple Carrot Cake then? Probably.

Looks like blueberry cake!

The most important thing for making a good Radish/Carrot cake is the ratio of Rice flour:Water. It’s always 1:2. That way, you’ll get a firm enough texture which cuts and fries well. The reason I’ve chosen to cut the carrots this way was to minimize staining on my chopping board (or grater, for that matter). By the way, you can substitute this with a medium-sized Radish for the traditional Radish cake.

Purple Carrot Cake:
4 Small Purple Carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
50g Minced Pork
2 cloves Garlic, minced
15g Dried Shrimps, dehydrated, finely chopped
1 1/4 Cup of Rice Flour
2 1/2 Cup of Water
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix the Rice flour and water in a bowl and set aside until needed.

Heat some oil in a big skillet, and fry Garlic, Dried Shrimps, Minced Pork and Carrots together until Carrots are starting to soften. Season with salt and pepper.

Turn the heat off and pour the flour mixture directly into the pan. Add a little more salt and pepper. It should be mildly seasoned so you can have it plain. Stirring continuously until the mixture thickens. If there’s not enough heat to do so, you can restart the heat but keep it low to prevent clumping.

Prepare a cake pan (round or square), steaming equipment. Pour the mixture into the cake pan carefully, and tap the pan on the counter top a few times to knock out the air. Steam for 1 hour or until firm. Cool for an hour before unmolding.

Purrttty! I know I’m a little obsessed with purple.

At this point, you can either eat it plain, or pan fry a few slices like I did. It’s easy, just heat a little oil in a pan and fry both sides until golden. Personally this is my favourite way to enjoy it. The crispiness provides a nice mouth feel.

Pan Fried Purple Carrot Cake with Sambal.

You could also cut it into smaller pieces and make Teochew style Fried Radish Cake aka Chai Tau Kueh (菜头粿). Except well, we know it’s not a Radish cake. Although this dish is generally made with just plain radish cake, the addition of dried shrimps and minced pork won’t hurt either! Here’s a simple recipe from Rasa Malaysia.

Probably completely outrageous. But yummy in my book! Note that I also added Bean Sprouts in mine as per personal preference.

Last but not least, you could consider the East Meets West Poached Egg Dish which I blogged about yesterday. The possibilities are endless! Oh, in case you were wondering, they taste just like normal carrots!

So what do you think? Too weird for you, or would you be eager to try?

Thank you all for your support so far, and let’s look forward to a better and yummier year!

Teochew Style Steamed Halibut

Hello!! I’m back from Melbourne and it was a whirlwind trip! Rehearsals, catch ups, filming, studio recording and managed to sneak a few glasses of wine in between. Needless to say, I ate tons of food (which will be blogged about in due time). To those who complain about the miserable cold weather, you might be taking it for granted! I loved the cold, it was a nice break from the constantly scorching hot country.

Naturally, it was a drastic change of 20 degree Celsius upon returning to KL. And the last thing I want to do is eating the same rich food I’ve been indulging in for the past week. Granted, it’s partly because the guilt has kicked in from all that hand to mouth exercise. So I guess this few days I’ll probably be eating light…. well, apart from the Beef Rendang I’m planning to cook for Hari Raya. Hur Hur.

The Teochew style steamed fish today is probably one of the lightest meals I’ve cooked lately. It’s nevertheless a joy to eat. I call it Teochew style because it’s how mummy does it. The traditional recipe that my grandma uses includes salted plum, but we’ve always kept with salted vegetables (kiam chai 咸菜), shiitake mushrooms, ginger, chili, tomatoes and soy sauce.  It’s one of the easiest dish to put together. Taking no more than 15 minutes. If you need to serve a few more people, feel free to use a whole fish. I like using clean tasting white fish. Today I’ve chosen a Halibut fillet, just enough for one.

Teochew Style Steamed Halibut Fillet

1 Halibut fillet
4 slices of ginger, cut to thin strips
1 chilli padi, chopped
Half or 1 Tomato, cut into wedges
2 Shiitake Mushrooms, stems removed, sliced thinly
2-3 pieces of salted vegetables, sliced thinly
2 tbsp Shao Xing wine
2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce or a mixture of soy and fish sauce
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
3 tablespoon water
Juice of one calamansi lime
Coriander, to garnish

Line a few strips of ginger on a plate and place the fish fillet on top. Drizzle soy sauce, sesame oil and shao xing wine over the fish. And set aside until ready to cook.

Meanwhile prepare whatever steaming equipment you are going to use and wait for the water to boil.

Once the water is boiled, scatter the rest of the ingredients except for the lime, and steam on high heat for 10 minutes. If you are using a bigger piece of fish or whole fish, naturally you’ll need longer time. Just check that the fish is cooked before you switch off the heat. If you overcook it, the flesh would be tough.

Squeeze lime juice all over, and you are ready to serve! Oh and let’s pretend there’s coriander as garnish as I have probably left my brain somewhere in Melbourne and forgot to add it!

This is perfect with a plate of steamed green vegetables of your choice, and perhaps a light soup. A bowl of brown rice to soak up the umami broth. Yum. Most definitely comforting.

To all Muslim friends, Selamat Hari Raya! Have a lovely long weekend and eat up!