Tuesday, March 22, 2011

3-plus-1 menu: Light & Healthy Weekend Dinner

It's weekend dinner gathering again!  I planned this dinner around a light and healthy menu, i.e. I used more boiling and steaming method, rather than deep-frying or shallow-frying.  And because most of the dishes were either boiled or steamed, it means lesser time spent in the kitchen (sweating away) and more time to chit-chat with your family!  

I will be sharing this dinner menu over the blog event ""2 Dishes, 1 Soup (两菜一汤 )", hosted by Ellena of Cuisine Paradise.  The above dinner menu is enough for 8 persons.  For the purpose of this event, I will select 2 dishes + soup with a $20 budget:

1) Dumpling Soup: pork ($2) + caixin ($1.50) + stock ($1) + others ($2.50) = $7.00
2) Steamed chicken: chicken ($4.50) + mushroom/cloud ears/dates ($1.50) = $6.00
3) Stir-fry broccoli with prawns: broccoli ($1.00) + prawns ($4) + bell pepper ($1) = $6.00
[Total: S$19.00]

[^_^ The broccoli was on special offer on the day of purchase.  Normally, it would costs around $1.80]

You can click on this summary for more ideas on 3 plus 1 menu.

Dumpling Soup with caixin (菜心水饺汤)

To prepare fillings for dumplings:
(makes around 24 dumplings)

150g to 200g of ready-minced pork
3 medium-sized prawns (peeled, deveined, lightly minced)
2 water-chestnut (chopped into small pieces)
3 Chinese mushroom (soaked, squeezed out water, cut into small pieces)
1 tbsp finely-chopped bamboo shoots
1 tsp grated ginger
Dumpling or wonton skins

1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
Dash of pepper
1 tsp 扁鱼粉 (flat fish powder??)
1.5 tsp corn flour


1) Mince the meat again with a chopper (mincing it again gives bouncy fillings).
2) Place minced meat and prawn in mixing bowl, add seasonings, except for corn flour.  Mix well, scoop up the meat mixture with your hand and flip the mixture back to the mixing bowl.  Repeat this 3x [Scooping and flipping the meat gives bouncy meatballs].
3) Stir in the water-chestnut, mushroom, bamboo shoots and grated ginger.
4) Add corn flour, mix to combine.
5) Cover with cling wrap and chill in fridge for at least 2 hours before using to wrap dumpling.
6) Wrap meat fillings in dumpling skins or wonton skins, just before cooking them.  

[^_^ get your auntie, uncle and kids to help to wrap the dumplings - this is an excellent family bonding activity!]

Ingredients for making soup:

600ml chicken bone stock* (or ikan bilis stock)
600ml - 800ml water
Wrapped dumplings (from above)
1 packet of baby caixin

[* I used chicken bones, pork joints/bones (猪大骨) and ikan bilis to prepare a big pot of stock.  Freeze extra stock in small portions for later use.]

1) Combine chicken stock and water together and bring to boil.  Add caixin.
2) At the same time, bring another pot of water to boil - this is for cooking the dumplings.   When water boils, cook dumplings for about 5 minutes or till cooked.
3) Scoop out the dumplings and transfer to the chicken and vegetable soup.
4) Garnish with some chopped spring onion, fried shallots and a dash of pepper.

Steamed Chicken with Mushroom and Cloud Ears (冬菇云耳蒸鸡)

2 chicken legs (thigh+drum), 2 wings
4 Chinese mushrooms (soaked, squeezed out water, cut into halves) - keep liquid for soaking mushroom
1 handful of cloud ears (soaked & rinsed water 3x, remove core)
4 red dates (soaked briefly to soften, cut into thin slices)
2 slices of ginger
1 tbsp grated ginger + 2 tbsp cooking wine
2 stalk of spring onion, cut into 1" length
1 stalk of celery, chopped

Marinate for chicken:
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp mirin
Dash of pepper
1.5 tsp corn flour

1) Cut the chicken parts into bite-sized pieces.  Marinate the chicken, cover with cling wrap and chill in fridge for at least 3 hours.
2) Heat 1 tbsp oil in wok or pot, add ginger slices.  Stir fry the mushrooms till fragrant, add cloud ears and stir fry.  Add red dates, a pinch of salt and liquid for soaking mushroom (enough to cover all ingredients).  Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.  Set aside to cool completely.
3) Combine the marinated chicken with mushroom/ cloud ears from (2) and arrange on plate. 
4) Prepare the steamer or wok with water for steaming.  Squeeze the ginger+cooking wine over chicken and steam it over high heat for about 12 minutes.

[^_^ I used kampong chicken for this dish as the meat is more tender.  You can also add dried lily bulbs (金针菇).  Pre-cooking the mushrooms/cloud ear gives this dish a richer and deeper flavour, plus the mushrooms and cloud ears will be more tender.]

Stir-Fried Broccoli with Prawns (虾球西兰花)

1 medium-sized broccoli, around 350g (trim into small florets)
1 small bell pepper (cut into bite-sized pieces)
250g medium-sized prawns, about 8 pieces (shelled, deveined, slit the back of prawns)
2 slices of ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Seasoning sauce - mix together:
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock + 3 to 4 tbsp water 
1 tsp corn flour

1) Blanch broccoli florets in boiling water (add 1 tsp oil and a pinch of salt) to partially cook the broccoli.  This takes about 3 minutes.  
2) Briefly marinate the prawns with a pinch of salt, 1 tbsp cooking wine and dash of pepper (while blanching the broccoli).
3) Heat about 2 tbsp oil in wok on high heat.  Add prawns and stir fry for about a minute.  Set aside.
4) With remaining oil in wok (high heat), add ginger slices, bell pepper and stir.  Add chopped garlic, stir and add blanched broccoli.  Quickly stir to combine and add prawns.
5) Add the seasoning sauce and stir well to combine with the ingredients.


  1. Thanks Wendy, I just dropped by to your blog around noon time... your dishes/bakes are so colourful and creative.


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