Monday, August 29, 2016



Steamed soft tofu with century eggs and bonito flakes in teriyaki sauce 

Day in day out, trying to cook a decent dinner before rushing off for my yoga in the evening can be rather taxing sometimes.  Nowadays the girls told me that they want less carbo. Now this again can really stretch my creativity (hahaha a bit show off here)  just on what to cook, but I do try my best.   These are some of the dishes which I am rather proud to show off.   Nothing expensive or gourmet and definitely not fine-dining but these meals have my approval stamp because they were cooked with love and are so colourful!.

Stir fry french beans and okra with pumpkin.
I love how the pumpkin got mushy and became almost a sauce coating the beans with its sweetness.  First saute some dried prawns till fragrant, add garlic and then the pumpkin.  Add just enough water to cover the pumpkin and let it cooked for around 5-minutes (depending how you want the pumpkin..soft or crunchy). Add the beans and okra and stir fry till cooked through.  Season to taste.

Bought the packet of bonito flakes from the Tsukiji fish market and it tasted wonderful with the tofu.  
To prepare sauce (adapted from recipe JustOneCookbook):-
2 tbsp soy sauce + 2 tbsp water + 1 tbsp mirin (rice vinegar) + 1 tbsp brown sugar + 1 tbsp sake. Bring to boil in small pot till sugar melted and slightly thicken.  Meanwhile I steamed both the tofu and century eggs over high heat for just 3 minutes. Pour away the water from the dish and pour over the teriyaki sauce.  Top with bonito flakes.   

Stir Fry kangkong with tomatoes. 

I always have tomatoes in the fridge and they are so versatile that you can add it to any dishes or just soup. 
Saute minced garlic and diced chillies till fragrant.  Add diced tomatoes and brown sugar to taste. Cook till soften and then add kangkong. Simple yet delicious.

Wanton soup 
This does take a bit of time to wrap the wanton skin with meat/prawn filling but as Sarah said, the best wanton, nothing like the usual wanton selling outside.   To simplify and to save time, minced pork  and diced prawns were marinated overnight with sesame oil, salt and pepper to taste with an beaten egg and a dash of Chinese cooking wine. 

Stewed Pork belly with Salted fish bones.

I had bought some salted fish bones from my Lumut trip last month as I intended to cook this dish for the festival dinner.   We normally don't eat a lot of salted fish, so once in a while indulge in this super blood-clotting dish is ok with me.
My Chan Clan recipe really does not have any exact measurements, always season to taste is my motto as everyone has differing taste buds.
I used 2 strips of pork belly (cubed or diced) . No joke I had to get to the market by 7.00 am. if I am to buy good pork belly from Ah Chuen in my area.   His stall will be very crowded by 7.30 am. and by 8.30 most of the good cuts will be gone.  He know which cut is good for what purpose, you only need to tell him what you intend to cook and he will give it to you.
The rest of  ingredients:-
3 packs (10 pieces each) of tofu pok (beancurd pockets)(blanched with boiling water to remove some of the oil);
a handful of dry chilies (more if you desire spicy) also soaked with hot water and remove seeds;
a large piece of old ginger (sliced); minced garlic
seasoning: rock sugar, dark soya sauce (for the colour), sesame oil, chinese cooking wine.
Soak the salted fish for at least 30 minutes before cooking.    
Marinate the pork belly with seasoning except the rock sugar.  Heat wok and pan-fry meat till lightly brown (no need to add too much oil as the meat will render out some oil) dish up and set aside.
Heat wok and saute ginger,  minced garlic and chillies till fragrant, add the salted fish bones.
Add the meat and combine.  Add rock sugar and water to cover and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and let simmer till meat is tender.  Add the tofu pok and season to taste.
This dish was cooked for the Hungry Ghost Festival.

Some of the baking for August:

Walnut Butter Cake again but adding bananas this time... .

Instead of mashed bananas, I  decided to layer sliced bananas in the middle of the cake and 

again on top before baking... 

Red Beans Buns, using the homecooked red beans paste - recipe from Justonecookbook.  

Lastly Baked Marbled Cheesecake. all time family favourite. 

Thank you to my sister May for the Harris grounded coffee beans.  What a wonderful pairing - coffee with a piece of my Chocolate and Orange Cake.  Recipe from The Good Food Magazine.   
1. Cream 250 gm butter with 190 gm icing sugar till fluffy. 
2. Add 5 eggs, one at a time till well combined
3. Fold in 200 gm of mixed candied orange and lemon peel.
4. Fold in 200 gm flour + 50 gm cocoa powder + 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/4 tsp baking soda. 
5. I added around 3 tbsp of buttermilk + 1 shot of rum. 
6. Bake at 180C for around 30 minutes. 

And of course, there are some bad these Mini Apple Pie using store brought puff pastry. 
These puff pastry not only did not rise but are soggy and oily!   Reminded me of a Mushroom pie which I bought from a "reputable brand"  pop-up shop...  they put it in microwave to heat it up but it became so soggy and oily, impossible to eat at all! 

replicating the dish taken during my day trip....
Stir Fry Yellow tofu with chives
1. pan fry (without oil)  cubes of yellow tofu till fragrant, dish up and set aside. 
2. add oil to wok, add minced pork (marinated with soy sauce, sesame oil and cornflour) till lightly brown
3. add minced garlic and beanpaste (taucheong) till fragrant.
4. add the yellow tofu and toss to combine
5. Season to taste. 

another colourful dinner. 

Happy Merdeka holidays folks!

Sunday, August 28, 2016



The cypress wood torii gate @ Meiji Shrine.

BIG Japanese breakfast for another long walking day...... 

Our first stop to the Fish market... not to witness the auction for which you would have to wake up at least at 3am in the morning to queue up.... 

Tsukiji Honganji Temple... temple with  a difference..
Firstly, the exterior of the temple is an Indian-inspired design, the columns and wide stairs of temple of Greek and Roman architectural styles, inside is a pipe organ from Germany with free lunch recital playing Buddhist music during the weekday, yet it is a Buddhist temple in Japan.  

This is the Namiyoke Inari Jinja Shrine at the entrance to the market.   This Shinto shrine was built in 1659 to protect works from the rough seas during the reclamation project that created the Tsukiji area. 

you know its getting near when you can see fishes around

and also these turret truck whizzing by and narrowly missing you.  We really have to be alert of them as they go so fast about their carrying these boxes of fresh fish produce. 

passed rows and rows of  long queue 

going in where no fish dare to tread, its a dead end for them..

Sea urchins... 

giant octopus

such big cockles.....

Trading time almost over and the workers were resting their feet and some eating their lunch.

So many food to choose but so many long queues everywhere....

so we were lucky that when we entered inside this shop there were a few vacant seats available almost immediately... 

Sushi as fresh as you can order washed down with a glass of cold Asahi beer..

varieties of fresh seafood ...

Next - the Meiji Shrine.. 

The Shrine is like  a vast forest with  more than 120,000 evergreen tress donated from all over Japan. 
Walking under this canopy is so serene and quiet (inspite of all the visitors) 

This cypress wood torii gate is the largest in Japan standing 12 meters (40 feet) tall and is about 1,500 years old.  The guide told us that when you pass through, we are symbolically entering a sacred place and leaving behind the everyday and you can see the Japanese bowing before they enter. 


These 2 trees are connected together by a sacred rope and couples come here to offer prayer so that they will have a harmonious relationship. The box in front is for putting your prayer slips inside.  
the second torii gate inside the Minami-shin Mon to the inner sanctuary of the Meiji Shrine.

A traditional wedding procession in the courtyard. The bride wears a white kimono while the groom wears a black robe and  they followed the Shinto priest under  a big red umbrella while the rest of family and friends walk behind. 

This must be the  interesting and most photographed spot in Meiji Shrine...

This huge collection of sake barrels are called "kazaridaru" .  Sake has been traditionally connected between the gods and the people in Japan.  They are offered every year to the deities in Meiji Shrine and are donated by sake brewers around Japan.  Of course,  the sake has already been used for the ceremonies and festivals.

Not only sake, barrels of wine too  from overseas brewers.

another wedding procession...

as we were leaving, we saw this man sweeping the grounds... very big swipes across!

This group of students are very helpful indeed as they  practises their spoken English to answer our queries! What was May asking?  She wants to go to see Hachiko..... 

Yoyogi Park  is near the Meiji Shrine in Shibuya.  We did not entered the park.  It was formerly a military drill ground in 1909 and became the US army barracks during the WW2.  It became popular after it was the Olympic village in 1964. 
Harajuku station... look at the crowds...This is Japan's well-known center for youth culture and fashion styles especially the Gothic and Lolita styles.!

You know  you are in Harajuku when you see all these aimie posters 

the focal point is Takeshita Dori (street) and side streets lined with trendy shops and boutiques and fast food outlets.  Get some "kawaii" fashion, Lolita style; cutesy curios and souvenirs; the latest and stylish designs for your home; or be a kid again as you wonder into Kiddy Land where you can find the cartoon characters or to the 3 storey Daiso shops for cheap buys at Y100 and much more......

But lets eat before shopping...

yes,  the fast food chain -Yoshinoya

Gyu-don- sliced beef on rice bowl .. fast food but delicious..

my brother-in-law favourite... beef nabe (hot pot)

After lunch, it was time to do some shopping around the Harajuku area. 
Then we moved on to Shibuya....

where May had a date with her favourite dog... Hachiko outside the  Shibuya station. What a loyal dog, for 9 years he waited for the Professor's return at the station (not knowing that he had passed away) ......we love you Hachiko!  Hachiko's remains were preserved and are on display at the National Museum of Nature and Science (more about this place later). 

 Of course, while we were here, its time ..

1, 2, 3, here we go as the traffic light turn green...

It was fun to watch .... the guide helped me to take this photo.

the Hachiko meeting point..

the designated smoking area around the Hachiko station. 

during the 60's or 70's it will be entering the lion's den...the infamous red-light district - Shinkuju area, reminded us of the movie by Jackie Chan.
Shinjuku is a major commercial and administrative center in Tokyo and have the busiest railway station. Actually we wanted to go to see the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building which is located on the west side, but its the end of the day and we were too tired to walk more. 

No need to guess, what's for dinner.