Fish in Ginger Sauce

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb white fish fillet : sole, swai, cod, or tilapia
2 Tbsp cooking oil

AROMATICS:
2 inch knob fresh ginger peeled
3 cloves garlic peeled

SAUCE BASE:
250 ml chicken broth
1 Tbsp cornstarch + 2 Tbsp water

SEASONINGS:
1 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt or more to taste

Place the aromatics in a food processor and finely chop them (or you can manually chop them by hands).

Cut the fish fillet into large chunks, about 2-inch pieces. Don’t cut too small or the fish will break apart easily when you cook them.

Preheat a large wok or skillet. Add cooking oil. Add ginger and garlic mixture. Stir fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Pour in the chicken stock and seasonings and bring to a boil.

Add the fish fillet pieces in and let them cook until the fillet changes into opaque white color and cooked through. It shouldn’t take too long, about 2 minutes or less.

Carefully dish out the fish fillet from the stock into a serving platter.

Have a taste for the stock, add more salt if needed. Bring it to a boil and then give the cornstarch mixture a stir and pour in. Continue to stir until the stock is thickened.

Gently add the fish fillet pieces back. Gently stir to let the fillet pieces coated in the sauce. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle with chopped green onion. Serve immediately.

Pandan Coconut Huat Kueh (Fatt Koh)

WET INGREDIENTS:
150 gr sugar
1 large egg about 55 gr
100 gr coconut cream or 150 gr coconut milk for cocoa and vanilla flavor
100 gr cooking oil

DRY INGREDIENTS:
1/2 tsp salt
250 gr cake flour see notes
2 tsp baking powder

FOR PANDAN FLAVOR :
50 gr pandan juice

FOR COCOA FLAVOR:
1 tsp cocoa powder

FOR VANILLA FLAVOR (PINK COLOR):
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 drop Red food gel

MAKING THE CAKE BATTER:
Mix all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Bring a water in the steamer to a boil. Make sure there’s enough water in the steamer.

Line individual muffin cups with paper.

Crack egg into a mixing bowl of a mixer. Add sugar and use a whisk attachment to cream until the mixture is pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

For pandan flavor, add coconut cream and pandan juice. For other flavors, add coconut milk (not coconut cream). Continue to whisk another 2 minutes.

Gradually add in the flour mixture, alternating with the cooking oil. Continue to do so until you run out of flour and oil.

Add in cocoa powder or vanilla extract and red food gel at this point. Continue to mix until the batter is thick but spreadable

Scoop the thick batter to the cup with a spoon. You might need a rubber spatula to help you. Fill it up all the way to the top. When you do this, the cake will give you a big smile on top later.

Place the cups inside the steamer and steam over high heat. Make sure the heat is high. Steam for 15 minutes. Do not open the lid throughout the steaming process. After 15 minutes, you can open the lid immediately and remove the cake from the steamer. Let them cool down for 1 minute and then transfer out from the muffin tin and let them cool down on a cooling rack.

Khanom Krok (Thai Coconut Puddings)

BOTTOM LAYER

1 Cup Rice Flour
2 Cups Water
1/3 Cup Steamed (cooked) jasmine rice
1/2 Cup Grated, dried coconut (available in the baking section of most supermarkets)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt

TOPPING

1 Cup Coconut Cream
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Green Onion (scallion) chopped (optional)

Khanom krok has two layers–first the rice flour mix is cooked, followed by the sweet coconut milk topping. Too much heat will burn the bottom layer, so it might take a bit of practice to get the pan temperature just right, and a nice crispy bottom. Our recipe is very simple, and delicious!

METHOD (BOTTOM LAYER)

Mix 1 cup rice flour with 1 cup water in a bowl. Mix well, and let it sit for at least an hour (overnight is ok).

In a blender, mix 1/3 cup cooked jasmine rice with 1/2 cup grated coconut, add the salt, then and add 1 cup water. Blend together until finely mixed. Pour this into the bowl of rice flour and water that’s been sitting. Mix well by hand. Set aside.

METHOD (TOPPING)

Mix coconut cream, sugar and salt in a bowl until dissolved. If you decide to use green onion, add it now.

Heat the khanom krok pan over medium heat, and brush with vegetable oil when hot. You can also cook the khanom krok over a Tao.

Using a spoon, add the bottom layer mixture into each hole so it’s about 2/3 full. Wait a moment, then pour about 2 teaspoons of the topping mixture into each hole to fill it up. Cover the pan with a lid (any lid will do, just set it on top of the pan), and cook until the cups turn slightly brown and crisp around the edge (about 8-10 minutes, or a bit more). Remove each cake, and serve warm. Usually the cakes are served as two (one placed on top of the other as shown below). Enjoy!

Malaysian Golden Rice (Nasi Kunyit)

1 cup sticky rice
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1-inch fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced thinly (optional)
3 slices of lime
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
2 pandan leaves, washed and knotted together (optional)
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Banana leaves (cut smaller to line steamer or use cheesecloth as an alternative)

Wash and drain 1 cup of uncooked sticky rice until the water is clear, about 2 to 3 rinses. Then soak rice in enough water to cover together with ground turmeric, fresh turmeric, and lime slices for at least 4 hours up to overnight.

When ready to cook, mix coconut milk with salt and set aside.

Bring some water in a steam pot to a boil. Drain the rice, remove turmeric and lime slices, and transfer to a steam basket lined with banana leaves or cheesecloth. Spread the rice well and add pandan leaves, whole peppercorns, and drizzle with 1/2 the coconut milk. Cover and place on top of the pot, making sure that the bottom does not touch the water. Steam the rice over medium heat for about 30 minutes.

Gently flip the rice. Add the remaining coconut milk and steam for another 15 minutes. Sticky rice is cooked when it becomes soft and translucent. Turn off the heat and let the rice rest for about 5 minutes. Remove the pandan leaves and serve warm.

NOTES:
· Always store sticky rice in a closed container. If it dries out and becomes hard, heating it up on a pan with a little water works, but there’s a risk of the rice becoming mushy.

· For this recipe, I use and recommend Savoy Coconut Cream. The can lists only two ingredients: coconut extracts (70%) and water.

· To make this with regular rice, combine 1 cup of washed and drained uncooked rice together with all the ingredients (except banana leaves). Factor the coconut milk volume in the amount of liquid required to cook the rice. For example, if 2 cups of liquid is needed, then add only 1 cup of water as the coconut milk makes up another cup of the liquid. Cook as usual in a rice cooker or on the stovetop. You can read this post on how I cook rice.

Kaya

1 cup coconut milk
5 tablespoons palm sugar
4 tablespoons cane sugar
3 pandan (screwpine) leaves
4 large eggs

Set up a double boiler. Bring water to a boil and turn it down to medium-low heat. Melt sugar in coconut milk in the double boiler. Make sure the bottom of the top pot is not in contact with the water in the bottom pot. The water should be at a very gentle simmer.

Cut root end of pandan leaves and clean under running water. Bruise leaves slightly to help release its flavor, then tie them into a knot and add to mixture. When sugar has melted, which should happen very quickly, remove the pot of mixture from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Whisk eggs well, then strain into mixture and carefully stir until combined. Place the pot of mixture back in the double boiler on medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant silicone spatula, for about 60 to 70 minutes. Use the spatula to scrape the side and bottom of the pot to ensure even cooking. The mixture will gradually thicken, noticeably so after 40 to 45 minutes.

If at any time lumps start to appear, remove mixture from heat immediately and stir or whisk until smooth. This happens when the mixture is overheated, resulting in the eggs curdling, so reduce heat before continuing to cook. Alternate between stirring and whisking to reduce lumps. If necessary, blend mixture with an immersion blender (without pandan leaves).

Once the mixture reaches a spreadable custard-like consistency, remove from heat. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Remove pandan leaves. Cool completely before transferring to a jar and storing in refrigerator. Makes about 1 cup of kaya.

Rojak Buah

2 to 3 cups of the following fruits: cucumber, jicama, pineapple, underripe mango and papaya, tart apples like Granny Smith, peeled and seeded where necessary and cut into bite-sized pieces

Optional add-ins: A handful of baby spinach or bean sprouts and pieces of fried firm tofu

SAUCE
2 to 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
Juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoon coconut sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup toasted ground peanuts

In a large bowl, add hoisin sauce, lime juice, coconut sugar, chili powder, sesame seeds, and half of the ground peanuts. Mix well to combine into a sauce. Then add the fruits and toss to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle on the rest of the ground peanuts and serve.

Malaysian Tofu Salad with Peanut Sauce

PEANUT SAUCE
3 shallots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lemongrass, white part only, chopped
3 to 5 dried chillis, soaked in warm water for a few minutes, chopped
1/2-inch galangal, peeled and chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup peanuts, roasted and coarsely ground
1 tablespoon tamarind paste* or lime juice
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water, and more as needed
2 to 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

10 to 12 pieces fried tofu puffs*
2 cups carrots, shredded
2 cups cucumber, shredded
2 cups bean sprouts, blanched in hot water for a few minutes and drained
1/4 cup peanuts, roasted, for garnish

To make the sauce, start by making a spice paste. In a blender or food processor, add the shallots, garlic, lemongrass, dried chillis, galangal, ground coriander, ground cumin, and ground turmeric and blend until you get a smooth paste, scraping down the sides and adding a little water when necessary.

In a saucepan, heat up the oil over medium heat and stir-fry the spice paste for 3 to 5 minutes until fragrant. Add the ground peanuts, tamarind paste, dark soy sauce, coconut milk, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with sugar and salt to taste. Add more water if the sauce gets too thick. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.

To assemble the salad, in an individual serving plate, place 3 to 4 pieces of fried tofu puffs, 1/4 cup shredded carrots, 1/4 cup shredded cucumber, and 1/4 cup bean sprouts. (Use the amount suggested here as a guide and feel free to adjust as you please!) Top with the desired amount of peanut sauce and garnish with roasted whole peanuts to serve.

*NOTES:
· Prepare the store-bought deep-fried tofu puffs by briefly dipping them in hot water to remove excess oil and pat dry before toasting them in the oven until browned and crispy.
· Fried tofu can be substituted with extra firm or firm tofu cut into cubes either straight from the packet or lightly pan-fried or grilled.

Bo Kho (Vietnamese Braised Beef Stew)

FOR THE MARINADE:
2 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce, such as Red Boat
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

FOR THE BRAISE:
3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 large shallots or 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped tomato, fresh or canned
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (from a 2-inch piece)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass, tender center only
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon annatto powder (optional)
4 star anise pods
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick, or substitute cassia bark
1 or 2 Serrano or Thai chiles, stem on, split lengthwise
1 1/2 pounds medium carrots, peeled, cut into 2-inch chunks
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 cup cilantro sprigs, for garnish
1/2 cup mint leaves, for garnish
1/2 cup small basil leaves, preferably Thai, for garnish

Make the marinade: Stir together fish sauce, sugar, ginger, 5-spice powder and pepper.

Put beef in a large bowl, add marinade and massage into meat. Let marinate for at least 15 minutes, or longer if time permits (may be wrapped and refrigerated overnight if desired).

Put oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, fry the beef cubes in small batches, taking care not to crowd them, until nicely browned. When all beef is browned, return chunks to pot. Add shallots, stir to combine and continue cooking for 4 to 5 minutes, or until softened.

Add tomato, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, salt and annatto, if using, and stir well to coat, then add star anise, cinnamon and chile. Cover with 4 cups water and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, cover with lid ajar and cook for about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until fork-tender.

Add carrots to pot and cook 15 minutes more. Skim fat from surface of broth as necessary (or refrigerate overnight and remove congealed fat before reheating).

To serve, ladle into individual bowls. Garnish with scallions, cilantro, mint and basil.

Vietnamese Rice Noodles with Lemongrass Shrimp (or other protein)

FOR THE PICKLED VEGETABLES:
1 cup finely julienned carrot
1 cup finely julienned daikon
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rice vinegar

FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE:
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce, like Red Boat
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced or grated ginger
1 medium-hot red chile pepper, such as Fresno, finely chopped
1 red or green bird chile pepper, thinly sliced, or substitute half a thinly sliced serrano pepper

FOR THE SHRIMP AND NOODLES:
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, preferably wild, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass, pale tender center part only
1 pound rice noodles, preferably rice vermicelli
1 or 2 small lettuce heads, with the leaves separated, rinsed and patted dry
3 cups mixed herb sprigs, such as cilantro, mint, basil, watercress and tender celery leaves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 scallions, slivered
4 tablespoons crushed roasted peanuts
Handful of bean sprouts (optional)

Make the pickled vegetables: Put carrot and daikon in a small bowl and sprinkle with sugar and salt. Add rice vinegar, toss well and set aside.

Make the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, ginger and chiles. Stir in 1/2 cup cold water and let mixture sit for 15 minutes. (Leftover sauce will keep up to 3 days, refrigerated.)

Marinate the shrimp: Put shrimp in a shallow dish. Add fish sauce, brown sugar, garlic and lemongrass. Mix well to coat.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Turn off heat and add rice noodles. Soak noodles, stirring occasionally, until softened, usually about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Leave in colander at room temperature.

Prepare a platter of lettuce leaves and herb sprigs for the table. Keep cool, covered with a damp towel.

Put oil in a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add shrimp without crowding (work in batches if necessary). Cook for about 2 minutes per side, until lightly browned.

To serve, divide noodles among 4 large soup bowls, then top each with hot shrimp, pickled vegetables and a tablespoon or so of dipping sauce. Sprinkle with scallions and peanuts (and beans sprouts if using). Pass herb platter and remaining dipping sauce at the table, and encourage guests to customize bowls as desired.

Grilled or wok-seared pork, beef, or chicken are fine too.