Saturday, November 27, 2010

红薏米水 Red Barley Drink

Sometime ago, at Broga town, I encountered red coloured barley drink.  ( not exactly red, purplish to be more exact )

I believe it to be coloured with leaves of Rhoeo discolor ( 蚌花 ), a herb of the Commelinaceae family, native to tropical Americas.  It is also called Tradescantia spathacea.  More commonly known as “Moses-in-the-Cradle”

The leaves are about 30 – 40 cm long, green upper surface with purplish lower surface.  The white flowers with boat-shaped bract suggest their name “Moses-in-the-Cradle”..

In Mexico it is used in alternative medicine to treat cancer, but there are not concrete scientific reports that validate their antitumuiral property.  Some study however suggested the extract of Rhoeo discolor decrease the formation of liver preneoplastic foci in rats.

The Chinese somehow seems to think it has cooling property, thus incorporated it into barley drink.  It taste funny though.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

牛蒡汤 Gobo Soup

牛蒡, greater burdock ( gobō – Japanese ) is the root of Arctium lappa, a biennial shrub of Asterace family, native to the temperate region of the old world, from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, and from the British Isles through Russia, and the Middle East to China.

When gobō found its way to Japan from China in ±10th century, it was widely recognised as healthy food, due to its nutritional values. 

The root is crisp and has a sweet, mild and pungent flavour.

In Chinese cuisine, the root is usually cooked soup.

Umbut Sawit - Experimental Cooking

Palm heart, also called palmito, burglar’s thigh, palm cabbage, swamp cabbage, or umbut ( Malay ), is a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees ( notably the coconut ( Cocos nucifera ), oil palm ( Elaeis guineensis ),  Eutere edlis , Euterpe oleracea , Sabal spp ,  Bactris gasipaes , Deckenia nobilis ).  It is costly because harvesting kills the tree.  Heart of palm often eaten cooked, or fresh as salad.  It is sometimes called the ‘millionaire’s salad’.

There are domesticated palm species which are self-suckering and produce multiple stems.  The main domesticated species is Bactris gasipaes, known as the ‘peach palm’.

In Malaysia, I encountered 2 type of palms harvested for its umbut : coconut and oil palm.   Coconut has been the traditional choice.  However, oil palm is becoming a popular alternative since it was planted abundantly in plantations.  It grows easily in almost any soil conditions, making it a noxious weed at times.   Thus removing a weed oil palm, at the same time harvesting its umbut, is killing 2 birds with 1 stone, an exhausted yet fruitful task.

The simplest way to cook an oil palm heart is clear soup with dried anchovies and chilies, a straightforward way to enjoy its natural taste and texture.
On the other hand, Malaysia has some 3.38 millioin hectare of various stages of oil palm planted in 2000.  Their hearts can be harvested for comsumption, when these oil palm grow old and need to be replanted, instead of just destroy them.  So, we will have all-we-can-eat supply of oil palm heart !

Friday, November 19, 2010

Seaweed Soup 紫菜汤



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

马铃薯 沙拉

马铃薯3 粒,去皮、切丁、水煮。

加入洋葱 半粒、切细,红萝卜丝,干辣椒粹 ( chili flakes ),迷送香 ( rosemary ) 羅勒 ( basil ),百里香 ( thyme )胡椒粉 ( pepper powder ) 等。

搅入美乃滋 ( mayonnaise ) 至均匀。

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Barley Drink 薏米水

Job’s Tears 薏米 ( also known as 薏苡仁、苡仁、薏仁、白薏仁, coixseed ) are grains of Coix lacryma-jobi  ( 川谷薏苡) of the family Poaceae native to East Asia.     

Jobs Tears are misleadingly, sold as Chinese pearl barley in Asian markets, despite the fact that they are not the same genus as barley ( Hordeum vulgare )

There are 2 varieties grown : Coix lacryma-jobi var. lacryma with hard shelled pseudocarps which are very hard, pearly white, oval structures used as beads for making rosaries, necklaces, etc ; and Coix lacryma-jobi var ma-yuen which are used as cereal and for its medical properties in parts of Asia.

In Chinese culture, Jobs Tears is commonly cooked in sweetened water and consumed for its cooling property. 

Many like to cook it with a specialty bean curd, which is cooked till it disintegrated into whitish colloid, similar to soy milk.  I tried to cook this before, but the bean curd seems impossible to break apart. 

I like it simple : with sweetened winter melon, blended and served chilled with a slice of lemon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


雪糕 是许多人的最爱。有人偏爱Häagen-Dazs 等名牌货。所谓名牌,贵之。

其实,好吃与否,并不在乎山珍海味。心情好,Wall’s 也一样好吃!

不过,雪糕淋上 Bicerin di Gianduiotto Liqueur…淡淡的兰香味,滑滑的榛子巧克力,隐隐的咖啡味,可爱的牛奶味集各色色香香味味于一口口冰冰的雪糕,赞!

Bicerine (mean ‘small glass’ in Piedmontese) is a traditional hot drink native to Turin, Italy.  It is made of espresso, drinking chocolate and whole milk served layered in a small rounded glass.

Gianduiotto is a Piedmontese chocolate, also a specialty of Turin.   Gianduiotti are produced from paste of sugar, cocoa and hazelnut.

The combination of Bicerine and Gianduiotto, is Vincenzi Bicerin di Gianduiotto Liqueur.

Manggo Salad

Shred an unripe manggo, season with fish sauce, little bit of sugar and light soy sauce…
sprinkle some chilli flakes, crushed roasted peanut, sesame seed …
and voila ! A mouth-watering, appetising, delicious manggo salad .

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Green Bean Soup 绿豆汤

Mung beans, are commonly used in Chinese cuisine, especially in desserts and cookies.  They are called 绿豆, which literally means ‘green bean’.  It is actually seeds of Vigna radiata.

绿豆汤 is sweetened green bean soup savoured by the Chinese as a dessert, served hot or chilled.  It is believed to have ‘cooling’ property.

It is often cooked with pearl tapioca, flavored with pandan leaves.  The Malay tends to adds coconut milk into the broth to make it more creamy.

I myself like it to be more watery ( less bean, more water ), blended and served chilled, especially during hot days.

Monday, November 8, 2010


罗汉果 ( pronounced luo han guo in Mandarin, literary means ‘monk’s fruit’ ) is the dried fruit of Siraitia grosvenorii, an herbaceous perennial vine native to Sourthern China and Northern Thailand.   S. grovenorii also know as Momordica grosvenorii, or Thladiantha grosvenorii.

The other species of genus Siraitia are : S. siamensis, S. sikkimensis, S. silomaradjae, and S. taiwaniana.

The fruit is prized for its sweetness, often use for medicinal purpose and as a sweetener.   The sweet taste of 罗汉果 comes mainly from the mogrosides, a group of triterpene-glycosides.  Pure mogroside is about 300 times sweeter than sugar.

Dried 罗汉果 is widely available in Chinese shops or pharmacies.  It is the main ingredients of tongsui of ‘cooling effect', that is, as remedies for hot weather, fever, or other dysfunctions traditionally associated with heat.  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nasi Goreng Belacan 虾酱炒饭

Nasi Goreng Belacan
( shrimp paste fried rice )

must have ingredients :
1. rice ( duh ! )
2. belacan paste
3. dried prawn, pounded
4. fresh chili

garnish :
1. carrot, diced
2. onion, diced
3. sweet corn
4. green peas

optional ingredients :
1. fresh prawn, skinned
2. broccoli, bite size
3. yardlong bean, cut

Method :
Just stir it !

Monday, November 1, 2010

Papaya Soup - Experimental Cooking

I bought 2 unripe papayas last week, hoping they would ripen in a few days.  But they started to develop lesions before managed to ripe.   ( … better not buy unripe papaya anymore )

I had no choice but to cut it premature.  The semi-ripe papayas are somehow too bland for any tongue.

So… instead of torturing myself with tasteless papayas, I throw in into a pot with some minced chicken and some 2liters of H2O.  After simmer for a while, and a pinch of salt and MSG,  voilà !  Papaya soup for dinner !