Turmeric flavoured Hairy Guord with Glass Noodles

Photo copyrighted to Anne Anantom

This is another dish with the glass noodles / mung bean vermicelli (tang hoon).
A Cantonese-style recipe for hairy gourd stir-fried with onion and ginger. It is a mild tasting vegetable, so I’d added organic turmeric powder to enhance the flavor.

Hairy gourd is also known as “fuzzy melon” or “marrow green” (locally called as mo qua). The name is probably derived from the fine “hairs” on the skin surface, giving it a “fuzzy” appearance. You will see this dish (or variations of it) very often at our local economical rice stall.

Simple and wholesome dish.

(a) 1 medium size hairy guord. Using a vegetable peeler, peel and discard the outer skin. Slice into strips
(b) Finely julienne 1 thumbsize of ginger.
(c) Cut 1 medium size red onion.
(d) 2 mg glass noodles. Soak in hot water until softens, then discard water.

1) Heat oil in wok. Sweat the onions and then add in the ginger. Stir fry briskly until fragrant.
2) Add the sliced strips, salt to taste and mix well all the ingredients.
3) Add water or vegetable stock (if any), cover with lid and simmer for about 3 minutes, or until the hairy guord is cooked to your desired tenderness.
4) Next season with turmeric powder, and stir fry briefly.
5) Add in the softened glass noodles, give a brisk stir and add another 1/4 cup of broth or water (as the glass noodles will soak up the moisture/gravy) and simmer for another 2 minutes.
6) Turn of the heat, and you are ready to plate.

This recipe is also very versatile and adaptable. You can stir-fry the guard with dried shrimps for added flavor; sometimes you can add minced pork.



Yu Choy Sum with Wakame Seaweed and Glass Noodle

Photo copyrighted to Anne Anantom

Yu Choy Sum is a popular vegetable in a wide variety of Asian (especially Chinese) dishes. Locally called as sawi hijau, this vegetable has an earthly flavor and can be prepared as a soup dish or stir-fried.

I paired this greens with wakame seaweed and glass noodles (mung bean vermicelli or in Chinese, it is called as tang hoon). I love glass noodles because of its unique texture which is slightly chewy. It is bland tasting on its own, but soaks up any delicious sauce it is cooked in.

Wakame is generally sold dried and, when rehydrated, is incredibly absorbent; it expands quite bit, so you might not have to use a lot.
This deep green seaweed has mild flavor and soft texture and enhances the earthly yu choy.

(a) 2-3 stalks of yu choy sum, cut into an inch size.
(b) 1 tbsp of wakame seaweed, soak in a bowl of hot water until fully expanded. Cut into smaller bites if desired.
(c) 5 grams of glass noodles, soak in a bowl of hot water for about 10 minutes, until the noodles are softened. Drain and set aside.
(d) 1 thumb size fresh ginger, sliced.
(e) 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and roughly cut.

1) Heat oil in wok. Add the ginger and garlic with a pinch of salt. Stir fry until fragrant and lightly browned. Adding some salt at this stage and with the heat, brings out the flavors. Remove and set aside.
2) In the same wok, now add in the yu choy. Add 1/2 cup to hydrate and allow the vegetables to soften and cooked through.
3) Once the vegetables have wilted, add the seaweed, the glass noodles and the sauteed ginger-garlic and give a quick stir-fry to mix everything. You may want to add another 1/4 cup of water for some gravy as the glass noodles will soak up the sauce.
4) Serve immediately.

It is definitely a heartwarming dish.

Pan Fried Pork Tenderloin and Snow Pea Stir Fry

Snow Pea Bacon
Photo copyrighted to Anne Anantom

You can do this with pork loin or tenderloin. Slice each tenderloin into pieces according to your preferred size. Give them a generous coating of salt and pepper, and sprinkle few drops of Worcestershire sauce.

Before cooking or eating snow peas, there are two things to do: rinse them in water, then grab or cut the tip of each snow pea and pull out the tough string that runs along its side. You will want to discard the end pieces and remove the fibrous strand from the snow pea. Many get confused between sugar snap pea and snow pea – this edible-pod pea has flat pods and thin pod walls. Cut into 1/2 an inch. I love snow peas, I love the flavor, the bright green color and the crunch they add to stir fry.

(1) Heat the stone marble pan, add oil and toss in the marinated pork slices. Spread out the pieces and let the meat cook for about 20 seconds before stirring. Continue to cook about 5 minutes or until the pork slices have some charred browned texture. Remove and set aside.
(2) Using the same pan, add 1 tbsp of cooking oil and mix in the chopped garlic, onions and 1 red bird-eye chili.  Add a pinch of salt which helps encourage the onions to soften. Continue to cook until the ingredients are gently browned.
(3) Add in the snow peas and stir for about a minute so that the vegetables are seasoned with the flavors.  You do not need to overcook the the snow peas.  Quick cooking will also retain their vibrant color and vitamins.
(4) Turn off the flame and add in the cooked pork pieces. Stir to combine and serve in a dishing plate.

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Home-style Malabar Spinach

Photo copyrighted to Anne Anantom

I remember during my younger days when my late Mom cooks this vegetable, she refers it as iron vegetable (as it is rich in iron) and ever since then the word ‘iron vegetable’ has been planted in me. In Chinese, this vegetable is called Chan Choy. The purple stem was the norm – there are two varieties – green and reddish-purple stem. Only the leaves are eaten and instead of throwing away the thick center stem, I will stuck these stems into a potted soil to grow. This vegetable will grow into vines and the tough leaves are more tolerant to heat than most spinach varieties.

1) Wash the Malabar spinach leaves thoroughly. Tear the large pieces into smaller ones.
2) Chopped 1 medium size red onion.
3) Coarsely peel 2-3 pieces of Kaffir lime leaves.
4) Finely minced 1 de-seeded green bird-eye chili.
5) 1 tbsp of roasted belacan (sauteed shrimp paste).

Let’s get cooking.
(a) Heat up pan with a drizzle of oil and add the onions and saute until lightly golden brown.
(b) Toss in the bird-eye chili, Kaffir lime leaves and roasted belacan and mix well until aromatic.
(c) Lastly, add the malabar spinach and let all the flavors combine together. Add some salt if necessary.
(d) Cover the pan and cook until the malabar spinach is slightly wilted.
(e) Add 1/4 cup of fresh milk as it lends some creaminess. Cook for another minute on low heat (as you do not want the dairy milk to curdle) and plate the dish.

Grinning with Greens

Photo copyrighted to Anne Anantom

French Green Beans, Capsicum and Celery, is a delightful combination and this dish ‘literally bursts with flavor’.

I’m a big fan of vegetables that are easy to prepare, plenty versatile and taste good too.

1) Cut off and discard the stems from the French Green Beans, then cut into an inch length.
2) Remove the grit from the root end of the Celery stalk. Pull the peeler over the length of the celery, stripping away the fine layer of skin along with the strings. Once the celery is stringless, julienne the stalk to an inch.
3) Discard the seeds from the green Capsicum and julienne into an inch as well.

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. Add the crushed garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Toss in the veggies, season with salt and mix the vegetables. Occasionally you might need to add some water to moisten the vegetables. Turn down heat to medium low and cook for 3-4 minutes for tender crisp, 5-6 minutes if you want them softer. Cook until all liquid has evaporated.

The tart and tangy celery, the mild peppery green capsicum and earthly sweet French green beans with the garlicky flavor, this dish will stimulate all your taste receptors to varying degrees.

Pan-seared Narrow-barred Spanish Mackerel (Ikan Tenggiri Batang)

Photo copyrighted to Anne Anantom

There are many ways to prepare fish to make it more interesting to eat. Fresh fish shouldn’t taste “fishy” or even smell “fishy”. To address this underlying cause is to mask the fish with spices or coat with flavorful seasonings or use a healthy dose of curry powder.

Today’s recipe does not need much preparation.

Season both sides of the fish steaks with store bought finely crushed black pepper and salt, and pat some corn flour on all sides, kept aside. The fish cooks nicely without drying out and ends up with a thin but crisp and flavorful coating.

Meanwhile, chiffonade a handful of ginger slices and pan-roast in heated oil until golden brown, set aside for garnishing.

Using the same pan – heat on medium high, then add a small amount of oil to lightly coat the surface. Now gently place the marinated fish. Do not move it until a crust has formed, then use a spatula to flip the fish over and continue cooking until done and browned. Actual cooking time will depend on how thick the steak is. The fish should no longer be translucent and should flake easily with a fork. If it needs additional time, lower the heat to medium and continue cooking until done.

Garnish with the roasted ginger stripes.


Beetroot Masala

Photo copyrighted to Anne Anantom

My first experience eating this vegetable was at the time my aunt added beet root into a mixed vegetable dish…and the incredible color transformed the entire dish into purplish pink! Beet root has this deep, earthy flavour and a whole lot of crunch. Took me a few times to gently introduce this vegetable to my family, knowing that beet roots are rich in antioxidants and packed with nutrients, I try to make this dish more favourable and palatable.

Today, I had added some Indian twist to this recipe.

1) Rinse and wash, then discard the skin.
2) Julienne the beet root and into a hot boiling pot, allow the sliced beet root to soften. Set aside. This way, the beets cooked easily and faster with the other ingredients.
3) In a work, heat oil. Add cumin, mustard seeds, fenugreek/halba, fennel seeds and allow to splutter.
4) Then add in 1 tsp of minced ginger-garlic paste, 1 green bird’s eye chili (deseed), 1 medium sized red onion (chopped) and saute until lightly brown.
5) Toss in the cooked beets and saute for 4-5 minutes in medium heat. Add seasoning or salt to taste.
6) Served with plain cooked rice with sambar.

Claypot Pumpkin and Pork Bones Curry

Photo copyrighted to Anne Anantom

Curried pumpkin paired with pork shoulder bones, what a wonderful ‘match made in heaven’.
Easy to cook with simple ingredients.

1) Pork bones cut up into sizeble pieces.
2) Peel and deseed the 1/4 pumpkin and cut into large cubes; set aside.
3) Spices – 1 dried bay leaf, 5 cardamon pods, 1 medium size star anise, a few slices of cinnamon stick.
4) 4 tbsp of (store bought) curry powder.
5) 2 tbsp of ginger and garlic paste.
6) 1 medium size red onions, cut thinly.

Time to cook.
1) In a separate pot, bring to boil water; add a pinch of salt. Cook the pork bones cut for about 10 minutes to remove scum. Discard cooking water and rinse the pork bones again.
2) Heat oil in claypot. Add in the spices, simmer and then add in the cut onions. Saute until lightly brown and then add in the ginger garlic paste.
3) In a separate bowl, add some warm water and salt into the curry powder to make it into a paste and then pour into the claypot. Mixed well with all the other ingredients. Occasionally add some water to deglaze. Saute this until about 3 minutes.
4) Now add in the pork bones. Stir into the mixture.
5) Add 1 1/2 cup of boiled water, stir and close the lid to cook for about 8 minutes.
6) Now add 1 cup of fresh milk and allow the meat to simmer on low heat until the meat is cooked through.
7) 8 minutes before serving (pumpkin softens easily), toss in the pumpkin cubes and cooked into the gravy. (If you wish for the gravy to be less thick, you can add water during the simmering process).
8) Turn off flame and serve with cooked turmeric rice.

Peanut and Minced Pork Rice Porridge

Photo copyrighted to Anne Anantom

I remember my younger days when I was feeling under the weather with lost of appetite, my late Mom would cook up a tasteful rice porridge with minced meat as it is nutritious and easy to digest.

Nowadays, I will cook rice porridge (or congee) as a meal for variance. For me, it is a comforting dish and can be enjoyed in many ways. Today’s recipe, for the extra substance and nutrients, I had added smashed and thinly sliced ginger, peanuts (soaked overnight and boiled down separately to soften) and marinated minced pork. For the toppings, I have fresh cut ginger slices, quartered century egg, pan-roasted chopped red onions and garlic, and fried pork lard.

There are no rules about what you can add to your congee dish. Typically, people add meat, fish, vegetables, and herbs.

And also each person will have their own methods for cooking congee, each of which results in a slightly different texture. If at any time you feel your congee is too thick, you can add a little boiling water to the mixture.

You can use a rice cooker or a regular pot or claypot to make the porridge.

Now, let’s get cooking.
1) Gather all your ingredients – boiled and softened peanuts, marinated minced pork with Chinese 5 Spices and white pepper and salt, fresh sliced ginger. Rinsed rice.
2) In a large pot, heat 1 tsp of oil and saute the sliced ginger until fragrant.
3) Add in the minced pork and cooked down the meat.
4) Add chicken/vegetable stock or filtered water, rice and peanuts, bring to boil. When the rice is boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low. Place the lid on the pot, tilting it to allow some of the steam to escape.
5) Cook on medium-low to low heat, stirring occasionally,​ until the rice has the thick, creamy texture of porridge. This can take about 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Make sure there’s enough water so the rice doesn’t burn the bottom of the pot. If necessary, you can stir the pot or add “hot” water.
6) While the congee is cooking, on a different burner, place your pan on medium heat. Add oil and pan-fry the chopped red onions and garlic until golden brown. Using the same pan, crisp the pork lard.
7) Turn off the heat. The rice should be soft and thickened to your liking. If you want to add something, like a beaten egg or diced salted egg, this is the time to add. You can also opt to drizzle some sesame oil.
8) Serve into the individual bowls and garnish with the toppings (of your choice).

Photo copyrighted to Anne Anantom

Oven Grill Grouper Fish Steak with Lemon Grass

Photo copyrighted to micasakitchen

The grouper fish (locally called kerapu) has a mild but very unique flavor, somewhat of a cross between bass and halibut. Because the fish meat is mild, best steamed (to savor the sweetness), but firm enough to cook on a grill pan.

Very simple fish meal to prepare, all you need is just the marinate and seasoning, and then pop into your oven at 250 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes on grill mode.

In a oven glass-proof safe plate, place the fish steak. Evenly season with salt, freshly ground coriander seeds, freshly ground chili and turmeric powder. Bruise the bulb of 1-2 lemongrass and julienne them (use only the lighter bottom half of the stalk) to release the amazing freshness and flavor. Align the lemongrass slices vertically and place the fish meat on top. Add a few strips of the lemongrass at the top of the fish. Pour adequate cooking oil covering the fish and pop into the oven. 20 minutes into the cooking, the mixed spices start to give off a fragrant aroma.

The outer skin is crisp, while on the inside the fish meat is cooked through and is flaky and firm with an off-white color. It is important not to overcook the fish, which dries it out.

Admittedly, for a first attempt to grill, this dish turn out pleasingly. Definitely a refreshing break from the usual steaming method.