Monday, April 4, 2011

2-plus-1 menu: Family Favorites

Watercress Pork Ribs Soup, Braised Fish Head, Steamed Egg w/ Chinese Yam & Mushrooms 

Dinner Menu:
(serves 6)
Watercress Pork Ribs Soup (西洋菜排骨汤) - $7.20
Braised Fish Head (红烧鱼头) - $8.50
Steamed Egg w/ Chinese Yam & Mushrooms (淮山蒸蛋烩双菇) - $3.50

Total: $19.20

Tips:  Use the stalks of the watercress to brew luo han guo herbal tea (罗汉果) .

Watercress Pork Ribs Soup (西洋菜排骨汤)

Watercress pork ribs soup is a soup that I grew up with.  When I was a kid, the watercress sold in the wet markets came with long HAIRY stalks.  And removing the roots from the stalks was one of my chores.     Sometimes, my mum would use the stalks to brew luo han guo herbal tea - 罗汉果西洋菜蜜枣水, which is one of my favorite herbal tea drink.  Not only is the herbal tea tasty, but when we brew herbal tea with watercress stalks, there's no need to remove the roots (YEAH)!  Nowadays, watercress comes in small clean bundles without the hairy roots portion.  While it is common to have luo han guo herbal tea with almond kernels, it is hard to find watercress and honey dates with luo han guo herbal tea (perhaps due to the lack of hairy stalks??).  The last time I had watercress luo han guo tea was at Noble House Restaurant and that was several years ago (about $3.50++ for a cup then).  It is really a tasty herbal drink.  Try it and you will know what I mean.

2 bundles of watercress (I used mainly the leafy portion, reserving most of the stalks for herbal tea)
350g pork ribs
Small piece of dried octopus (八爪鱼)
1 tbsp Chinese almond kernels (南北杏)
2 honey dates (蜜枣)
6 to 7 red dates (红枣)
2 slices ginger

Approximate cost:
Watercress ($1.20) + Pork ribs ($4.00) + others (2.00) = $7.20

1) Wash and drain the watercress.  Remove any yellow leaves.
2) Blanch the pork ribs in hot water.  Remove and set aside.
3) Bring a pot of water to boil (about 2.5 litres).  Add in all the ingredients, except for watercress (if you are using both the leaves and stalks of the watercress, add in the stalks now).  Simmer over low heat for an hour and a half.
4) Add in the watercress and let it continue to simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes.
5) Season with salt to taste.

Braised Fish Head (红烧鱼头) 

This is one of the favorite dishes of my in-law family.  You can vary the ingredients to cater to your family's preference, for instance, my MIL would cook this dish with winter melon (instead of Chinese cabbage), my mum does not add sweet bean curd sticks (while this is my hubby's fav ingredient in this dish).  

Ingredients: Half a fish head, 3 slices ginger, 1 leek (sliced), 3 Chinese dried mushrooms (soaked and halved), few pieces roast pork,  a few Chinese cabbage leaves, 1/2 carrot (sliced), 3 baby corns (halved), 3 pcs bean curd puffs (cut), 3 sweet bean curd sticks (soften and cut), spring onion & chili (for garnish).

Dash of cooking wine
1 tbsp oyster sauce
Soy sauce (to taste)
A pinch of salt
Dash of pepper

Approximate cost:
Fish head ($5.00) + Roast pork ($1.00) + vegetables & others ($2.50) = $8.50

1) Marinate the fish head with a tbsp of soy sauce and a dash of pepper for 30 minutes.
2) Add about 1/2 a beaten egg to the fish head and dust it lightly with corn flour.
3) Heat about 1 cup of oil in wok on high heat.  Fry the fish head (skin side down first) on both sides till golden brown.  Remove and set aside.
4) Pour out excess oil, leaving about 1 tbsp oil in wok.  Add in the ginger slices, followed with leeks.
5) Add the mushroom and stir fry briefly till fragrant.  Push ingredients to the side of wok.
6) Add the roast pork and stir fry briefly.
7) Add the Chinese cabbage, carrot and baby corns.  Add a pinch of salt and stir fry to combine the ingredients.  Add a dash of cooking wine from the side of the wok.
8) Add sufficient water to cover the ingredients.  Add in the bean curd puffs and 1 tbsp oyster sauce.  Cover and bring to boil.  Let it cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
9) Transfer all ingredients in wok to a casserole or claypot.  Place the fish head on top and add the bean curd sticks around the fish head.  Cover and bring the casserole/claypot to boil (add soy sauce, if necessary).  Let it simmer on low heat for another 5 to 10 minutes.  
10) Add a dash of pepper and garnish with spring onion and chili.

Steamed Egg w/ Chinese Yam & Mushrooms (淮山蒸蛋烩双菇)

2.5 eggs, beaten (another 1/2 egg used for fish head above ^_^)
3 tbsp grated Chinese yam (淮山)
1 cup of stock
2 thin slices of ginger
Half a packet of Enoki mushroom
Half a packet of brown breech mushroom
Handful of wolfberries (枸杞)
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Cornstarch solution (3/4 tsp corn flour + 1 tbsp water)

Approximate cost:
Eggs ($0.60) + Mushrooms ($1.20) + stock ($0.50) + Chinese yam, wolfberries ($1.20) = $3.50

1) Mix beaten eggs with grated Chinese yam.  Stir in 1/2 cup of stock + water (total: 250ml, each egg needs approx 100ml).  If stock is salty, no need to add salt; else add about 1/2 tsp salt.
2) Steam the egg over hot boiling water in a steamer/wok.  High heat for about 3 minutes, then lower to medium-low heat for another 8 to 10 minutes, till set.
3) While the egg is steaming, pour a little oil in a small pot.  Add the ginger slices, followed by brown breech mushroom.  Stir fry briefly on high heat (stir-frying adds fragrance and helps to remove the raw smell in the breech mushroom).  
4) Pour in 1/2 cup of stock + 1/2 cup water.  Add the Enoki mushrooms and oyster sauce.
5) When mushroom mixture starts to boil, add the wolfberries and thicken with cornstarch solution.
6) Add sesame oil.  Remove from heat and pour over the steamed egg (step 2).

Home-cooked meal for less than $20.  Your love in preparing the meal - PRICELESS

I will be sharing this 2 + 1 menu to "$20 Budget Meal" event for this month of April.

For more of my 3-plus-1 or 2-plus-1 menus, check out the page here. 


  1. These are comfort food! You cook so well! All the dishes look so good!

  2. Thanks, Wen. Learn most of the dishes from my mum and MIL.

  3. Waifong your Braised Fish Head (红烧鱼头) makes me droollllll :)


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