Monday, May 9, 2011

3-plus-1 menu: Pre-Mother's Day Celebration

Tonight's menu (serves 8):

Dried Vegetables Honey Dates Pork Ribs Soup (菜干蜜枣猪骨汤) - S$7.00
Clay Pot Prawns with Vermicelli (鲜虾粉丝煲) - S$7.00
Radish Pork Ribs Stew (猪软骨焖萝卜) - S$11.00
Stir-Fry Asparagus with Scallops (芦笋红椒炒带子) - S$9.00

Estimated cost: S$34.00

Dried Vegetables Honey Dates Pork Ribs Soup (菜干蜜枣猪骨汤)

This is an excellent soup for our recent crazy hot weather.  Dried vegetables helps to nourish and clear heatiness from our lungs.  It is tasteless on its own, i.e. there's no sugar or salt used to preserve it.  To prepare, soak the dried vegetable in water to soften the leaves and to rinse off any sand particles that are trapped inside.  

* You can also add one to two pieces of dried duck kidney (腊鸭肾) for this soup.  
* For a one-dish meal, try dried vegetables salted pork bone porridge.  Good for relieving body heatiness and aches. 

Dried vegetables (菜干)

A small bundle of dried vegetables (Note: the dried vegetables will expand after soaking & cooking)
400g pork ribs/bone (around S$5)
2 honey dates
5 to 6 red dates
1 tbsp almond kernels (南北杏)

1) Blanch the pork ribs/pork in hot water to remove any impurities.  Set aside.
2) Soak the dried vegetables in water to soften it.  Drain away the water and wash it again to ensure there are no sand particles trapped in the leaves.
3) Bring a pot of water to boil (about 1.6 litre).  Put in all the ingredients and simmer over low heat for 2 hours.  Season with salt to taste.

Clay Pot Prawns with Vermicelli (鲜虾粉丝煲)

A simple, yet elegant dish to serve.  Where possible, use fresh sea prawns as they are sweeter and crunchier in texture.

8 to 10 medium-sized prawns
2 small bundles vermicelli
1 cup chicken stock + 1 cup water
Oyster sauce (adjust to taste)
3 to 4 shallots (sliced)
2 slices ginger
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/2 chilli (chopped)
1 stalk of spring onion (chopped)
Dash of pepper

1) Briefly soak the vermicelli till soft to handle.  Drain and set aside.
2) Prawns - trim away the legs (leave the shells on), make a cut at the back and devein. Marinate the prawns with a pinch of salt and a tbsp cooking wine (briefly, just before step 5).
3) Fry the shallots with some oil till golden brown.  Remove the fried shallots and set aside.
4) Heat a clay pot and add 1/2 tbsp shallot oil.  Fry the ginger slices, chopped garlic, add in the chicken stock/water, a little oyster sauce and bring to boil.
5) Add the vermicelli and sprinkle half the fried shallots over (check water level - should fully cover the vermicelli plus a little more).  Arrange the prawns on top.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes till prawns are cooked.
6) Garnish with remaining fried shallots, chopped chilli and spring onion.  Add a dash of pepper.

Radish Pork Ribs Stew (猪软骨焖萝卜) 

I love the radish in this dish - soft and full of flavour!  Always allow the stew to rest for at least an hour before serving.  This allows all the flavours to come together.

700g pork soft bones
1 medium radish (peel and cut into bite-sized)
8 slices ginger
4 to 5 shallots, cut into thick slices
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1.5 tsp bean paste sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 to 2 tbsp soy sauce (adjust to taste)
1.5 tsp sugar (or a small piece of rock sugar)
Dash of cooking wine
2 stalks of spring onion (cut into 2" lengthwise)

1) Heat some oil in wok on high heat.  Fry the shallots and ginger slices till fragrant.
2) Add the pork and stir fry.  Push the pork aside (lower heat), add some oil and add in the garlic.  Add the bean paste and stir-fry with the garlic till aromatic.  Turn heat up again and continue to stir fry with the pork.  Add a dash of cooking wine from the side of the wok.  
3) Add sufficient water to cover the pork.  Bring to boil, then transfer content to casserole.
4) Add oyster sauce, sugar, soy sauce (to taste) and let it simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes.
5) Add radish and simmer for another 45 minutes.  Let the stew rest for an hour to two before serving.
6) To serve:  Heat up the stew.  Meanwhile, heat some oil in another pan or pot till moderately hot, add in the spring onion and turn off heat.  Drizzle the spring onion over the stew.

Stir-Fry Asparagus with Scallops (芦笋红椒炒带子)

Asparagus is in the season again!  This quick and easy stir-fry dish is popular during festive period or special occasion.  

5 thick stalks of asparagus
1/4 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized
5 to 6 large scallops, sliced into two horizontally
3 water chestnut, peeled and cut into thin slices
3 slices ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
A dash of cooking wine
A dash of fish sauce (or a little oyster sauce) -  to taste
A little chicken stock
A little cornstarch solution
Dash of pepper

1) Prepare the asparagus: Discard the lower ends (the tough and fibrous part), peel away the outer skin from middle of stalk to lower ends.  Slice diagonally.  When ready to cook, blanch the asparagus in some hot water (add a pinch of salt and a tsp oil in the water).  Remove, drain and set aside.  
2) Marinate the scallops with a pinch of salt and a tsp corn flour.  After blanching the asparagus, use the hot water to blanch the scallops for a brief 30 seconds.  Remove, drain and set aside.
3) Heat some oil in wok on high heat.  Add in the ginger, follow with garlic and stir fry briefly.  Add the blanched asparagus and stir fry quickly.  Add in the scallops, bell pepper and water chestnut and stir well to combine the ingredients (important to drain the liquid from the asparagus and scallops after blanching).
4) Add a dash of cooking wine and fish sauce from the side of wok.  Add in the chicken stock, stir well and wait for content to start bubbling before thicken the gravy with a little cornstarch solution.
5) Add a dash of pepper and serve immediately.

For more 3-plus-1 or 2-plus-1 menus, check out the summary here. 

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