Tuesday, August 2, 2011

4 plus 1 weekend menu

I love Chinese-style cooking as it offers a great variety of dishes and cooking methods.  For tonight's menu, I used a combination of 焖,煲,煎,炒,煮,蒸 (braising or stewing, simmering, shallow frying, stir-frying, boiling and steaming) to prepare these dishes.  In particularly, I like to include one or two braised/stewed dishes, as you can always prepare them in advance.

My 4-plus-1 menu:

Chinese Cabbage Pork Knuckle Soup  (煲白菜猪手汤)
Braised Mushrooms & Sea Cucumber with Spinach (冬菇海参烩波菜)
Stir-Fry Garlic Sprouts with Prawns and Bean Curd (蒜苗豆干炒虾)
Pan-Fry Chicken Wings (香煎鸡翼)
Steamed Fish with Preserved Vegetables (梅菜蒸黄花鱼)

Steamed Fish with Preserved Vegetables (梅菜蒸黄花鱼)

I braised a big pot of preserved vegetables with some large pork bones (猪大骨) and a small portion of pork knuckle (猪手) in a slow-cooker for 5 to 6 hours.  I used large pork bones for the collagen around the joints.  It is less oily and costs much lesser, compare to using pork belly (五花肉).  I used about one rice bowl of cooked preserved vegetables (cool the vegetables first), mix in about 1 tbsp dark soy sauce + 2 tbsp cooked oil + 1/2 tsp sugar.  Pour the preserved vegetables over the fish (rub a pinch of salt on the fish first) and steamed for about 10 minutes over high heat.

To prepare the preserved vegetables:
1) Use a combination of salty and sweet preserved vegetables (咸梅菜,甜梅菜).  I used about 2 to 3 bunches of sweet and salty preserved vegetables, each.  Rinse the preserved vegetables thoroughly (there are lots of sand particles and salt trapped in the leaves) and soak them in water for an hour.  Change the water once or twice in between soaking.

2) Squeeze excess water from the preserved vegetables (they look like old rags now ... dun worry, after cooking, they'll taste good) and cut them into small pieces.

3) Get ready:  3 to 4 slices of ginger, 5 to 6 cloves of garlic, 1 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, blanch the pork bones & knuckles in hot water to remove blood and impurities.

4) Heat up the wok on medium heat.  Add the preserved vegetables (without any oil in the wok) and stir-fry for about 5 minutes to remove excess moisture.  This steps also makes the dish more tasty.  Dish up and set aside.

5) Heat up the wok again on high.  Add in some oil.  Add in the ginger slices.  Once you smell the ginger aroma, add in the pork bones/knuckles and stir-fry briefly.  Add the preserved vegetables and stir-fry to combine.  Add the garlic, star anise and cinnamon stick.  Pour in sufficient water to fully cover the content plus a little more water and bring it to boil.  Transfer the content to a pot (I used an electric slow-cooker), add a little rock sugar and let it simmer over low heat for about 3 hours (5 to 6 hours if using a slow-cooker on high heat), till the preserved vegetables become soft and flavourful.  In between, you can check the taste and add more rock sugar if necessary.  

Keep this dish overnight and serve it the next day, for a more rich and flavourful taste.

Braised Mushrooms & Sea Cucumber with Spinach (冬菇海参烩波菜)

This is one dish that my mum will always prepare during the Lunar New Year period.  Similar to the preserved vegetable dish, this dish requires long simmering hours and tastes better the next day.  And because such dishes require long cooking time and they keep well, we always cook more and save the rest for another day.  

You will need:
Around 300g Chinese mushrooms (soak in water till soft and squeeze out excess water)
1 to 2 sea cucumber (ready-to-cook type), cut into bite-sized
1 packet of Chinese spinach
Chicken bones from 1 chicken (keep the skin on) - blanched in hot water
3 to 4 large pork bones - blanched in hot water 
Some pig skin (猪皮) optional - blanched in hot water
For richer taste - add 3 to 4 dried oysters or a small piece of Chinese ham (金华火腿)
5 to 6 slices ginger
A dash of wine.

1) Heat up wok on medium heat and add a little oil.  Add the mushrooms and stir-fry till fragrance.  Set aside.

2) Heat up wok on high heat and add a little oil. Add in the ginger slices.  When you can smell the ginger aroma, add in the chicken bones and pork bones and stir-fry together.  Add a dash of wine.  Add in the mushrooms and stir-fry again.   Pour in the water (used to soak the mushrooms) to fully cover the content, plus a little more and bring it to boil.  Add a little salt.

3) Transfer content to a pot, add in the pig skin (if using), dried oysters or Chinese ham.  Let it simmer over low heat for at least 4 hours.  Alternatively, after step 2 above, transfer the mushrooms to a slow-cooker, set on high for 2 hours, then switch to auto-mode and let it cook overnight.  In-between, check the taste and add more salt, if necessary.

4) When the mushroom has cool, remove the chicken/pork bones and discard.  Keep the mushroom and the rich gravy.  

5) Blanch the spinach in hot water with a pinch of salt and a little oil.  Drain and serve on plate.

6) Heat up wok on high with a little oil.  Add 2 to 3 slices of ginger, follow with the sea cucumber.  Stir-fry briefly and add in the braised mushrooms and its gravy.  Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, or till sea cucumber are soft.  Serve the mushrooms and sea cucumber on the bed of spinach.  If gravy is too thin, you can thicken it with a little cornstarch solution.

Click here for more menu ideas.


  1. WOW, so many delicious dishes, this is only for one dinner?

  2. ha... yes. Weekend dinner is usually family gathering, so more dishes.

  3. Well you are not teh onlyoen.Every time I open your new post the water start running in my mouth.No difference here:)

  4. Wow!!You are amazing to cook so many delicious dishes for just one meal. Wow!! Theresa

  5. 哇,你的家,餐餐都让我流口水:)

  6. 鲸鱼:没有啦。。今晚我就吃青菜白粥,清清肠胃。还挺不错吃地。

    Dzoli: ha...

    Theresa: These are "weekend menu". Weekdays are usually simple meals.

  7. Wow,wow, these for weekends?So amazing!!

  8. Hi Fong, how long does it take to cook fresh sea cucumber?

    1. Hi Ruby, I used fresh sea cucumber too for this dish. What I meant is either you buy ready-soaked sea cucumber from wet market or if using dried sea cucumbers, they have already been soaked thoroughly and lightly boiled with ginger slices before using for the dish. Also, different types of sea cucumber varies in cooking time. Some turn soft quickly, but some need longer cooking time. You can check this with the hawkers at the wet market.

  9. Hi Fong, how long do you think I need to cook it if is fresh sea cucumber?


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