I have not posted any weekend 3 plus 1 menu for quite some time. Most of the time, I'm too busy with cooking, so did not bother to take any pictures. Here is my simple 3 plus 1 dinner, which leaves me ample time to snap some pictures before dinner:
Winter melon and corn soup (冬瓜蜀米汤)
Stir-fry celery with mushroom and minced pork (西芹炒鲜菇）
Steamed chicken with Chinese mushrooms and sausage (冬菇腊肠蒸鸡）
Pan-fried brinjal with kicap manis (香煎茄子）
1) Winter melon soup
Winter melon on its own is very bland, so you need to borrow some "flavour enhancer". I don't mean you go and grab a packet of MSG. The usual chicken/pork/bones give the soup flavour, but somehow you don't get the aroma or depth. So in addition to the usual pork/chicken/bones, I will add a few pieces of dried oyster or a small piece of Chinese ham (金华火腿) and 1 to 2 Chinese mushrooms. They do wonders for the soup. Since I'm using Chinese mushrooms for my steamed chicken dish, I just cut and throw the mushroom stems into the soup.
2) Stir-fry celery
This is everyday food, i.e. healthy, easy and affordable (read: cheap!). If you want to make it more appealing on special occasions, use large prawns (西芹虾球) or fresh scallops instead of minced pork. Instead of using MSG, borrow a ladle of "instant, MSG-free stock" from your winter melon soup! It tastes so good that I did not even need to use any oyster sauce as seasoning. Maybe just a tiny pinch of salt or to taste.
3) Steamed chicken
Marinate the chicken at least 3 to 4 hours before cooking. Stir-fry the Chinese mushrooms and simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before adding to the marinated chicken and steam over high heat. Pre-cooking the mushrooms is an extra step, but it gives the dish a better aroma and flavour. And don't forget to squeeze some grated ginger wine over the chicken before steaming. Click here for details to prepare this dish.
4) Pan-fried brinjal
This is a wonderful idea from Sonia. If you like a healthier version, you can always steam the brinjal instead of pan-frying it. Or if you like it spicy, here another way I prepare this dish (click).
Click here for more menu ideas.