Monday, December 27, 2010

Spinach is not Bayam

Bayam ( in Malay language ) is of the genus Amaranthus, of the family Amaranthaceae.  There are about 60 species of Amaranthus, valued as leaf vegetables, cereals, and ornamentals, and several considered as weeds.  A. dubius is widely consumed as greens in S.E.Asia. 

The word 'Amaranth' comes from the Greek μάραντος (amarantos), "unfading" or "never-fading (flower)".

Amaranthus dubius synonym Amaranthus mangostanusAmaranth greens, also called Chinese spinach 苋菜  ( pinyin: xiàncài ) is an annual flowering plants, grows up to 120cm in height.  It has both green ( Bayam hijau ) and red ( Bayam merah ) varieties, as well as some with mixed colours.  Green variety of A. dubius is practically undistinguishable from A. viridis.

Amaranth greens are a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin C, riboflavin, folate, calcium iron, magnesium, phosphosur, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese.   However their moderatelly high content of oxalic acid can inhibit the absorption of calcium and zinc, and thus people with kidney disorder, gout, or rheumatoid arthritis should be more cautious consuming bayam.

Reheating cooked bayam is discouraged, particularly for consumption by small children, as the nitrates in the leaves can be converted to nitrites, similarly to spinach.

Spinach ( Spinacia oleracea ) is an edible flowering plant from the family Amaranthaceae too.  It is native to central and southwestern Asia.  Spinach is an annual plant, capable to grow up to 30cm in height.

The English word spinach' dates to 1530 and is from espinache (Fr. épinard), from O.Prov. espinarc, which perhaps is via Catalan espinac, from Andalusian Arabic asbinakh , from Arabic es-sabaanikh (السبانخ), from Persian aspanakh, meaning roughly "green hand".

Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia. Arab traders carried spinach into India, and then the plant was introduced into ancient China, where it was known as "Persian vegetable" (波斯菜, 菠菜).   It is loosely named bayam in Malay, which leads to confusion to distinguish a spinach and a bayam.

Spinach is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese,  folate, betaine, iron, vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium omega-3 fatty acids etc.

The cartoon character Popeye the Sailor is potrayed as having a strong affinity for spinach, becoming physically stronger after consuming it.   This portrayal was based on faulty calculation of the iron content by a German scientist E. von Wolf who misplaced a decimal point in an 1870 measurement of the spinach’s iron content, leading to an iron value 10 times higher than its should have been.  This faulty measurement was not notice until the 1930s.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

汤圆 Tangyuan

汤圆 tangyuan is a delicacy made of glutinous rice flour, served during 冬至winter solstice.  Tangyuans are rounds, plain or stuffed, often brightly coloured, and are served in sweet or savory soup.

Tangyuans can be stuffed with crunched peanut-sugar, sesame paste, gula melakaor anything sweet.  The soup can be as simple as sweetened-ginger to pandan-flavoured, or a complicated savory soup...  I normally had my tongyuans in sweet soup, never in my life having them in savory soup.  I also like it coated with crunched sweetened peanut.

Making tangyuan is very simple : mix glutinous flour with water to make a dough, not too damp and not too dry.  Too damp it will ‘melt’, too dry it will ‘crack’...
Then, shape it into spheres of about 7cm Æ  ( bite size )... The tangyuans shouldn’t be too big, as it will be difficult to chew and swallow.  This process is undoubtedly the highlight of tangyuan-making.  Friends and family members gather together ( reunion ), making tangyuans of variable sizes and colours...
Finally, put the tangyuans into boiling water.  The tangyuans will float when cooked...
Scoop them out, and buon appetito!

a mess !

another disaster...

wa lau ye !

shape up !

fun process...
indeed food for fun !

ta da !!!

Mike is testing...
Ani is doubtful...

Monday, December 20, 2010

清炒西洋芹 Stir-fried Celery

3 stalk of Celery ( Apium graveolens val dulce), peel the stalk longitudinally, then sliced
1/2 carot, sliced.

saute some garlic, add chicken meat, or squid, or anything of your liking.
( may add some cauliflower / broccoli / etc )

add the carot and celery,
some water too
stir fry till cooked.

add some oyster source.
lastly add salt to taste.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

黑木耳焖鸡 Braised Chicken with Judas Ear

To prepare :

50 g dried Judas Ear 黑木耳 ( Auricularia auricula-judae ), soaked for about 30 minutes, sliced…
2 chicken thigh, cut, marinated with soy source for about 30 minutes…
Ginger, sliced…
Garlic, minced…
Sesame seed oil

First, saute the ginger with sesame seed oil …  add in the garlic as well…   then add in the chicken and stir fry till half-cooked…  transfer everything into a pot to simmer, don’t forget the Judas ear…  simmer for about 30 minutes till the Judas ear is cooked…  add some salt and pepper to taste…..  voila !

( background is stir fried cekur manis prepared by Cat )

Thursday, December 16, 2010

泡参鸡汤 American Ginseng Soup

American Ginseng Soup 泡参鸡汤

泡参片( American ginseng - Panax quinquefolius )
枸杞子(wolfberry - Lycium barbarum )
鸡肉 ( chicken )
干贝( scallops )

put all ingredients into a pressure cooker with 2 bowl of water, cook for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ongrizinal Green Cooking

People of the present days are more concern of the food they consumed, particulary food safety, green food, health food etc.   Due to these believes, people are more willing to spend more on expensive green food, fancy & costly cooking apparatus, miraculous water filters  

However, the essence of food preparation should be environmental friendly! 

Food are the produce of earth.  A good care of the earth naturally promises a long term supply of food.  In another word : sustainable living.

Water Saving

We were taught to wash our food thoroughly.  But how many times are enough ?  Nobody really knows.  Well, to be safe, use as much water as we can, use whatever detergent in the market, soak-rinse-soak again…

It is really amazing how much water we use to wash our rice, soak our greens, or wash our fruits.  Yet we often complaint shortage of water supply, and we see in awed how some part of  the world die of thirst.

Some people don’t seems to be able to estimate the amount of water needed for boiling eggs, blanching greens, etc.  Boiling few eggs or a zucchini doesn’t require a whole pot of water, not only it’s a waste of water, it’s wasting cooking gas/electricity too.

We tend to forget that water are limited resources too, despite its easily-available by turning on the tap, or the insignificant of the cost of water.   So, just like any other daily activity, a sustainable cooking should optimise water usage in washing, cooking, dish cleaning etc

Sometimes cooking for a person or two doesn’t need a table full of dishes / full course meal.  A one-pot-dish or a all-in-one dish is more than enough.  Less cooking time, less washing, less headache, less weight gain.

Energy Saving

Traditional cooking sometimes consumes a lot of water, energy and time.   Doesn’t mean that we should abondoned the traditional cooking, but to explore other options of energy-saving cooking.

Energy-saving appliances such as pressure cooker, microwave oven, thermal cooker, etc should be given a fair chance in our kitchen. 

Electric thermos jar,  slow cooker and other appliances which require long hour of unattended cooking may be an convenience option for some, but they obviously consume more electricity than other appliances.

When using a kettle, only boil as much water as you need.  It will save electricity and boil water more quickly.  Duh !

Time Saving

Time is not only money, it is life too.  Thus wasting time not only wasting money, it wastes life as well.

Simmering, stewing etc are time consuming ways of cooking.  With proper appliances, cooking time can be reduced significantly.  New, innovative methods not only cut short cooking time, they also deliver the same end result.


Besides saving water, energy and time, we need to consider ways of reducing kitchen wastes, i.e. miminizing non-edible portion &/@ wastage of food etc.

When buying groceries and foodstuff, try to buy in bulks.  Avoid the individually packed foodstuff in plastic.  We may pay a little bit extra for the convenience, but what would be price the future generation pay?

花生鸡脚汤 Peanut with Chicken Feet Soup

refer lotus root peanut soup or the simpler version of peanut soup

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Stir-fried Instant Noodle 炒快熟面

prepare :
plain instant noodles, cooked
eggs, stir-fried
pork/chicken meat, minced
garlic, minced
onion, sliced
chili, sliced

Pre-cook the instant noodles.   Stir-fry the eggs as well.
Then, saute the garlic, onion and chilies with minced pork/chicken meat.  Once the meat is almost cook, add in the cooked instant noodles, stir-fry with soy sauce, fish sauce, pepper powder, salt. 
Finally, add in the eggs.

雪梨茶 Snow Pear Herbal Tea




Thursday, December 9, 2010

角瓜炒蛋 Stir-fried Angled Luffa with Egg

First, saute minced garlic and shredded ginger.  Put in a irregularly-cut luffa丝瓜 ( Luffa acutangula ).  Stir fry till the luffa is cooked.  Add in an egg.

Add rice wine, & pepper to taste.

Stir-fried Cucumber 炒青瓜

Longitudinally, cut a skinned cucumber into halves.  Slice it at about 45°, for about 2mm thick.  This is importang as uniform thickness ensures consistent cooking time.

Saute minced garlic, chili, sliced shallot, and  anchovies.

Put in all the sliced cucumber, stir fry a bit.  Pour in some water. Simmer till the cucumber become somehow translucent and soft.

Add in salt to taste.

Roti Benggali @ Penang

This is a Penang's traditional bread call Roti Bengali. The roti is baked as a "patta" of eight mini-loaves - two rows of four mini-loaves with a dark-brown crispy crust.

It is normally sold by these Indian gentlemen on bikes or bicycles. They will go around the little villages and towns with their signature 'ding, ding, ding' bell.

A small loaf costs about RM0.90. ( A loaf can be cut into 4 slice, so it’s RM0.45/slice )  The roti man will slice it and spread with margarine and seri kaya. Otherwise, this tastes great dipped in curries.

螺炒酱油 Horn Shell in Soy Source

This is 吸螺Cerithidea obtusa ) ( in Malay it’s called Siput Sedut ), a type of sea nail found in the shores of tropic SEA, eventually find its way to local markets.

To bring this filthy shells to dinning table seems impossible & disgusting, but after some effort, it’s an unforgetable grastronomic experience !

First, wash away the mud.  Then soak the shells in salty solution for about 5 minutes, they will come out of their shells and excrete the remaining ‘pooh pooh’.  Then, use a pincher plier to cut off their tails ( about 1/5 of the total length ).

Stir fry with sliced ginger and soy source for about 2 minutes.  Add little bit of sugar for to have a little bit of sweet taste. 

The flesh is beyond normal human’s visual perception of displeasing appearance.   Its unpalatably ugly.  So, my sole advice is : don’t look.  A glimpse and your stomach may turns into stone.

Close your eyes, if you had to.  Suck the shell to get to the flesh.  Its chewy, sweet, and nice ( I guess )( never my favourite dish ).