Tag Archives: Chinese

A Simple Home Cooked Dinner

I felt like a simple home cooked dinner when I got home from work this evening. So I started preparing the ingredients. One thing led to another. I was going to make a Thai style chill basil chicken, but ended with 2 other dishes – a Chinese stir fried “Kailan” (Chinese broccoli) and a Chinese chive omelette.P1160214P1160217Enjoy the recipe below. It is simple to prepare and make and takes less than an hour from preparation to plating on the table. πŸ™‚
P1160215Thai Style Chili Basil Chicken
2 chicken thigh – slice to bite size
5 strings of snake bean – cut into 3 inches section
3 garlic cloves – finely chop
2 inch ginger – finely slice
2 bird eye chilies – finely slice
1 bunch of Thai basil – leaves only
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon palm sugar

1. Heat some vegetable oil in a hot wok
2. Toss in the chicken. Stir fry until almost cooked. Remove and set aside
3. In the same wok, add a bit more oil until warm
4. Toss in the garlic, then chilies and ginger. Stir fry until fragrant
5. Add the snake beans. Toss a few times then add the almost cooked chicken. Continue to stir fry for a few minutes before adding the sauces and sugar
6. Add the basil leaves and cashew nuts (I didn’t have any at the time)
7. Dish out and serve either in a bowl or plate
Chinese Chive OmeletteP1160221
3 chicken eggs
10 strips Chinese chives (garlic chives) – finely chop
1 bird eye chili – finely chop
4 shallots – finely slice
2 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1. Break the eggs into a bowl and mix all the ingredients together
2. Heat a frying pan with a bit of oil. When oil is nice and warm, pour in the egg mixture. Cooked one side for a few minutes, then turn over the other side and cooked for a few more minutes
3. Remove and plate on a round plateP1160219Chinese Stir Fry Kailan
1 bunch of Kailan – separate the stems from the leaves
4 cloves garlic – chop finely
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1. Heat some vegetable oil in a hot wok
2. Toss in the garlic. Fry until fragrant
3. Add the stem part of the kailan. Fry for a few minutes then add the leaves and sauces. Continue to stir fry until the vegetable are soft and tender, but not overcooked
4. Remove and garnish with dried shallots

“Makan time” πŸ™‚

OHM – Open House Melbourne Day 2

I thought I will be more prepared for my day 2 OHM after yesterday viewing of two of the newest office buildings in Melbourne – Aurecon Centre with its occupants moved in just a month ago, and the Lifestyle Working Collins Street which is very new and yet to be occupied by its tenants. Both of these new buildings are eco-friendly with stunning architectural design, and strategically located in front a Tram stop.

Before I left my apartment, I surfed the OHM 2013 website to see which buildings are opened in Day 2. I narrowed down to the following buildings;

The first 3 buildings are within the vicinity of each other on the eastern side of the CBD. The fourth buidling Southbank theatre is across the south side of the Yarra River and finally the last building Forte is across the Yarra River from where I live. The plan is to “Go East” first, then south across the Yarra River and then back across north side of the river and “Go West” of the CBD on the way home. Sounds like a good plan.

An early start to the morning will be good. But nothing stay to plan. By the time I finished ironing all our shirts for the week – yes, included my partner’s shirts – it was almost late morning. I quickly got changed, left the apartment and headed east on the city tram, and got off at the Collins Street / Spring Street intersection. Directly across Spring Street is the Old Treasury Building. I saw the familiar sky blue teardrop with a middle white dot symbol of OHM outside The Old Treasury Building and people were walking into the building. This building was outside the scope of my itinerary. The organised side of me was telling me to stick to my itinerary. But, the inquisitive side was telling me to seek and explore the history behind this old historical building built between 1858 and 1862.P1120618As I walked up the stairs to the entrance, I could hear someone beside me asking a OHM volunteer if the lower ground floor Gold Vaults is opened for viewing. Β He was excited when told that it was opened. He got me excited as well. I was glad that my impromptu visit to this building was not regretted.

The lower ground floor Gold Vaults has a very long and narrow corridor with its brick wall painted white. The gold bullion was once stored in here. There are several individual rooms hosting a multimedia exhibition, Built on Gold, which follows the journey of gold from the Victorian diggings, as it passed through the hands of gold buyers, escort troopers and occasional bushrangers.P1120628P1120635 P1120630The gold bullion encased on the ground covered with glass. I wonder if they are real gold.P1120636Next was the Parliament building – a short 2-3 minutes walk on the same side of the road. Directly across from the Parliament building is the heritage listed Hotel Windsor.P1120643

There was a long queue when I got to the Parliament building. It was an hour wait in the queue. The OHM included a 1-hour guided tour taking through the Queen’s Hall, Upper House, Lower House and the Library. It was my first experience visiting a parliament, sat in the Upper and Lower House chamber, listened to our guide explaining the running of each of the House, and the librarian explaining the function of the parliament’s library and collections. It was also fascinating listening to the history of the Queen Victoria in the Queen’s Hall.P1120656 P1120650P1120713 P1120701I was getting hungry by the time I finished at the Parliament Building. It was almost 2pm. I went searching for a place to eat. Something Asian. The Parliament building overlooks the east end of Bourke Street.P1120666I walked down Bourke Street. There is the Midtown Arcade with a few small Asian cafes – there is Sichuan, Japanese, Chinese and the most well known dumpling place raved by food bloggers and food critics called Shandong Mama. I have been there once but I still prefer my “Shanghai Street” dumplings on Little Bourke Street. The thing with foodies and bloggers and food critics is that if one of them started raving about a new place, the others have to follow. It is like a swamp of ants or bees attracted to some honey. Across from Shandong Mama in the small arcade is the Pancake Dessert House. Β I am not sure why it’s called a “pancake” or a “dessert”. The food is nothing like the name. I have looked at the shop a few times and the menu on the window. I have also noticed each time I walked past, it was always busy. I have decided to try it this time, and I was very hungry. The menu is a street style food ranging from stir fried noodles, soup noodles, fried rice to small dishes to accompany steamed rice. I chose the Beef Brisket Noodle Soup for $9.60. It was as expected delicious for a cold winter day. I will definitely go back again to try the stir fried noodle dishes.P1120725 P1120724 P1120723By the time I finished my bowl of noodle soup, I have enough of the OHM and decided to head home. I was exhausted by the time I finished at the Parliament Building and the long 1 hour wait standing in the cold winter weather. There is always next year for the other buildings.

Bored with Green Beans

Is green bean boring? I guess it can be, but it doesn’t have to be like any other vegetable. I find it bland and quite tasteless, but I like the texture and its crunchiness especially when it is fresh.

I had some left in the fridge. A few days old. I was bored and didn’t know what I want to cook. I was thinking maybe blanch the beans or stir fry with garlic. But, that will be boring. Typically I like to mix my vegetable with either meat or seafood for added flavour. It doesn’t have to be boring. But, I didn’t have any meat or seafood in the fridge. What can I do? Think, think, think. I have some garlic and onions sitting in a small tray for a couple of weeks now. I took one of the red onion. Cut in half but disappointed. It was not fresh. Out in the bin. I peeled 3 cloves of purple garlic. Still good.

But, garlic alone was not enough. Boring! Ah hah! I have some frozen fresh red chillies and kaffir lime leaves. I took 1 frozen red chilli and 3 frozen kaffir lime leaves, and chopped them finely.

I searched my fridge again. Found a jar of “belachan” or prawn paste that I have prepared and jared few months ago. I scooped one teaspoon from the jar and placed on a plate. Next, what about seasoning. Salt and sugar?? Maybe. Guess not. Again, I searched my fridge and found a bottle of salted soybean paste tucked at the back of the fridge. The dish flavour is coming together in my mind now. The soybean paste works well with belachan.

Now I have all my ingredients and ready to cook.

To cook, I had a non-stick saucepan. Added 2 tablespoons of cooking oil once the pan was heated. Tossed in the ingredients – garlic, chilli, kaffir lime leaves and belachan. Fried the ingredients until fragrant. I could smell the beautiful, aromatic flavour of the lime leaves and belachan and the stingy chillies wafting into my nose. Next, add the soybean paste, combined and continue to fry. Then the green beans. Tossed the beans a few times, and add a spoonful of starch mixture to give the dish a bit of gloss finishing and coating.

20121115-194159.jpg This dish is so simple, and only took 15 minutes to cook. So, green beans don’t have to be boring agian. πŸ™‚


Pork Mince and Tofu

My partner asked me to cook tonight. There was a kilo pork mince and a packet of fresh tofu in the fridge. The first thing that came to mind was a Sichuan style “mapo tofu“, which I had previously posted a recipe. That was what I was planning to made until I started preparing my ingredients in my tiny kitchen with limited bench space.

I used what I have got in the kitchen cabinet – dried red chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, sichuan peppercorn, garlic, ginger, shallot, spring onions, kaffir lime leaf and a small can of green peas. With the list of ingredients in my mind, I slowly imagine the combination of flavours that I like to taste in the dish. Finally I decided on two dishes, rather than one. And, to create a balance between those two dishes. A pork mince dish with a strong and spicy flavour matched with a mild flavoured steamed tofu dish.

Spicy Pork Mince

1. Toast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and sichuan peppercorn in a dry pan (a teaspoon each)
2. Grind the toasted spices and set aside
3. Crush 5 dried red chillies into flakes, and set aside
4. Chop 2 cloves garlic and a small piece ginger finely
5. Finely slice 1 small French shallot

1. Heat some cooking oil in a hot wok
2. Toss in pork mince. Stir fry until pork is almost cooked. Remove and set aside
3. Add a bit more oil in the hot wok. Toss in the chopped garlic and ginger. Stir fry for 2 minutes
4. Add shallots. Conitnue to stir fry for another 2 minutes
5. Toss in the precooked pork mince. Mix through with the other ingredients and contnue to stir fry for 3 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce and 2 teaspoons dark caramalised sauce. Continue to sitr fry another 5 minutes. Add cooked peas, salt and sugar to taste, and chopped spring onions. Garnish with dried shallots.

Steamed Tofu
1. Cut 1 fresh red chilli and set aside
2. Cut 2 spring onions into small sections and set aside
3. Slice thinly 2 French shallots
4. Slice thinly 1 fresh kaffir lime leaf

1. In a steamer, add sufficient water for steaming. Place fresh tofu on a flat stainless steel shallow tray. Then, lay on top of the steamer and cover the lid. Bring the water to boil, then lower the heat to steam slowly for 10 minutes
2. In a small pan, mix 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, 2 tablespoons Xiao Xing Cooking Wine, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce with the other ingredients of French shallots, spring onions, chilli and kaffir lime leaf. Heat the mixture of sauces and ingredients in low heat for 2 minutes
3. Pour the mixture over the tofu, then garnish with some dried shallots and a light sprinkle of ground white pepper

Serve both dishes with a bowl of steamed rice.

In Search of a Red Packet

I had a mission this morning. That is, to find a red packet, “Ang Pow” (in Hokkien) with a Chinese character symbolising a long life. It is for my mother’s birthday which is coming up soon. It is a Chinese tradition to wish an elder on his/her birthday with a red packet. “Red” to Chinese is symbolic for prosperity. The only place that I can find, if any, is in Chinatown.

So off on my mission this Saturday walking along the Yarra Rver promenade stretching from my city apartment at South Wharf to Crown to Southbank and crossing a pedestrian bridge to Flinders Street station down towards Elizabeth Street and Little Bourke Street. It was a nice and pleasant twenty minutes walk. Along the way, I was happily snapping some pictures.


20121103-214532.jpg The Sandridge Railway Bridge is a historic bridge built in 1888, crossing the Yarra River from Southbank to Flinder Street station.

20121103-220041.jpg The Eureka Tower, a landmark and tallest residential tower in Melbourne at 91 storeys, with an amazing 360 degree observation deck occupying the entire 88th floor!

20121103-220759.jpg Melbourne is a very green city, with thousands of plane trees spread throughout the city. They are beautiful trees but not good for someone like me who suffers from hay fever.

20121103-221555.jpg As we crossed the bridge and looking back towards Southbank, my partner pointed out to me that there is a giant golden bee. It is interesting that some time we don’t noticed all the things around us eventhough we walk passed the same place over and over again.
Before searching for the red packet, I proposed a light lunch at one of my favourite dumpling place in Little Bourke Street, “Shanghai Dumpling”. It is a small little street side cafe that opens at 11:30 am Monday to Saturday for lunch. It is a very popular place and being so small, it doesn’t take long for the queue to build up.

20121103-222721.jpg This time my partner and I were more sensible and not over do it by ordering too much. We went for our all time favourite – the Shanghai dumpling or Xiao Long Bow with chicken and prawn, and a bowl of pork dried noodles. Total bill $21.


20121103-223157.jpg We have come to Shanghai Dumpling a few times and the food is always good and delicious. This part of Little Bourke Street is also one of my favourite spot for browsing the few small interesting retail shops, away from the busy Chinatown.
Further east along the Little Bourke Street is Chinatownon, on the other side of Swanston Street. That was where we were heading after a hearty and warm dumpling + noodle combo lunch.

20121103-223859.jpg I was very pleased with myself that my little mission was a success! I managed to locate a Chinese gift shop that sells a range of red packets with different meanings and greetings. Like the western greeting cards, except in Chinese custom, we prefer to give money enclosed in a red packet to multiple the wealth, good health and longevity for the person receiving it.

Walking back, I came across a couple of street performers that I have not seen before.

20121103-225034.jpg A duo Korean girls outside the Flinder Street station, …


20121103-225519.jpg …and, an acrobatic man swallowing his sword while juggling 3 sticks of flames in his finale act.
My little mission of the day turned out to be a fun and enjoyable day walking the streets of Melbourne city.