Lea’s Favourite Lala

Lala, I have missed you. Pipis (as they appear to be named here in Melbourne) are pretty similar. I do love my clammie types.

I was so excited that I didn’t take process shots. Oops. The process is pretty simple though.

Food like this needs no further introduction, though pretty pictures would probably endear it to more people. Without further delay, I present one of my favourite foods:

Oh lala I have missed you

Ginger & Spring Onion Lala (or Pipis)

Adapted from Rasa Malaysia’s ginger & spring onion crab.

600g lala / pipis
Thumb size knob of ginger
8 stalks spring onion
1 red chilli

1.5 tablesp oyster sauce
1/2 tablesp sesame oil
1/2 tablesp fish sauce
1/2 teasp sugar
1/2 teasp white pepper
1/4 cup water
1/2 teasp corn flour

  1. Clean your lala / pipis, if they aren’t already clean.
  2. Slice ginger into sticks. Chop the red chilli too. Finally, chop spring onion into 1-2 inch lengths, separating the white hard bits and the green bits.
  3. In a little oil, fry the ginger, chilli, and white parts of the spring onion until fragrant.
  4. Throw in everything else – sauce components, cornflour, green bits of the spring onion, and lala / pipis.
  5. Cover for 5-8 minutes with the heat on medium-high, until all the lala / pipis have opened.
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Baked Real Whole Fish

Oh woe is me, for the want of barbecued fish but lack of a barbecue.

Photo 25-02-2013 18 47 45 Photo 25-02-2013 18 57 26

Sympathy not forthcoming, I resolved to remedy this disaster.

I ended up making baked fish with a Thai inspired sauce (what is it with me and Asian adaptations at the moment?? Note to self, please don’t let your angmoh side start getting in control of things here. If you start adapting classics like claypot chicken rice, part of you will die inside.)

Photo 25-02-2013 19 23 54

Anyway, not that it makes any of this it more acceptable, but I did note that this style of cooking = moist soft fish while retaining a nice slight char on the sauce flavours at the end.

Photo 25-02-2013 19 56 30

Thai Style Baked Fish

Method from Thaifood.About.com, edited to suit the flavour I wanted. 

Medium red snapper

10 cloves garlic
2 sticks lemongrass – white part only
1 small red chilli
1 green chilli
4 tablesp soya sauce
1 tablesp oyster sauce
2 tablesp fish sauce
3 teasp brown sugar
Zest of 1/4 of a large lime
Juice of 1 a large lime
A large bunch of coriander

Tin foil
An oven-safe dish large enough to hold your fish – to prevent drips

  1. Clean and scale your fish, if this hasn’t already been done.
  2. In a good food processor, dump in all the sauce ingredients except for the lime juice and the coriander.
    1. Add 80% of the coriander, reserving the rest for garnish
    2. Add half the lime juice
  3. Blend everything. Taste, and adjust lime juice and sugar as necessary.
  4. When you’re happy, roll out enough tin foil to encase the fish and drop the fish in the middle of it. Pack a couple of tablespoons of paste into the fish cavity. Slash the sides of the fish vertically a couple of times, and pack some paste into there too. Make sure paste coats both sides of the entire fish. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of sauce / paste for later.
  5. Loosely wrap the fish in the tin foil, and place in the oven safe dish. This prevents drippage and makes your life easier later on.
  6. Bake at 190 degrees C for around 20 minutes, adjust if your fish is bigger. Mine was a medium sized fish.
  7. Check if the fish is done (i.e., flesh inside the cuts on the side of the body is no longer translucent). If so, open the top of the tinfoil, pour in the rest of the sauce. Turn the oven to max / grill setting, and grill the exposed fish for around 5 minutes, or until the top reaches your desired level of charred-ness.

Sweet like a Restaurant

You know how vegetables are always so much sweeter in Chinese restaurants? Sweet and crisp.

Crispiness aside, the sweetness aspect is a trick. Apparently they use ginger to sweeten the vegetable. Don’t ask me how that works, but it does.

Supposedly it’s because the ginger soaks up the “toxins” and other baddies, so the vege loses its bitterness. And you aren’t allowed to eat the ginger afterwards. You should discard it. It’s very bad for you. Tsk tsk.

Well, this all sounds very (NOT) scientific to me. But it does work, so what can I say. If you know why this works I’d love to hear about it.

Not bitter or squishy at all

In the mean time I’m going to continue enjoying the easiest vege ever.

Sweet and Crispy Chinese Vegetables – choose your sauce!

Source: one of my aunties told me

A bunch of leafy vegetables
4 slices of ginger – no need to peel it, just wash it well
3-5 cloves garlic, crushed
A splash of sauce of your choice – fish, soya, oyster, anything really
A dash of white pepper, if you like

  1. Get some water in a pot. Drop in 2 slices of ginger and bring everything up to a boil.
  2. Blanch your vege, and then cool it in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking.
  3. Fry the remaining 2 slices of ginger in a little oil. Add the garlic and keep going until it gets fragrant, but not too brown.
  4. Add the vege and  sauce of your choice, and give it a couple of quick stirs. Remove from heat immediately. Add the pepper if you want to.

Boring words like Braised

Braised. Braised. Braaiiisseedd.

I don’t think it’s a very appetising word and would probably never order anything braised in a restaurant. But I wanted to play cooking with claypot again.

   

It makes you feel like you’re doing legitimate cooking when you could be making the same dish in a normal pan. What fun!

It’s about pretending to be cool in the kitchen, when actually you’re nothing more than a greedy food enthusiast who pretends to cook well (but doesn’t actually), and doesn’t like to tell people you cook because they might actually get you to cook something for them and then they would realise that you actually aren’t very good at cooking. They might berate you after that for having a food blog. Phew. Perhaps I won’t turn Publicise on after all.

Warm, dark, and handsome

Before you think I’ve cracked slightly, let’s move quickly on to the recipe.

Braised Tofu with Mushrooms (In a Claypot)

Recipe again adapted from Rasa Malaysia. This is pretty much my go-to website for Chinese-y type recipes. The original recipe is a porky version but mine is vegetarian. Except for the fishcakes I added afterwards, because certain males in my family won’t eat tofu and believe it causes them to grow breasts (it’s a myth everyone!!!)

1 packet of tofu, cut into cubes and drained
1 packet of fishcakes, sliced – totally optional, I added this later
5 Chinese dried mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablesp sweet soya sauce – it’s better to use kicap manis, but I used Chinese dark thick soya sauce because I didn’t have any. If you do this, up the sugar to 1/4 teasp
1/2 tablesp oyster sauce
1 teasp soya sauce
1/8 teasp sugar
1/4 cup water

2 tablesp water + 1 teasp corn starch – to thicken rather than anything else
A single chopped spring onion – I used more..I don’t like wasting half a packet
White pepper to taste

  1. Precook the tofu and fishcakes (if using). You can either deepfry, or stick it in the toaster oven (lightly oiled). If you toast it, flip it after it turns golden brown. Drain off the oil on paper towels.
  2. Heat the claypot (slowly) and dump in garlic and a little oil. Fry the garlic until it’s golden brown.
  3. Chuck in the mushrooms, tofu, and fishcakes (if using).
  4. Pour in all the sauces and the 1/4 cup of water.
  5. Cover the pot, and leave everything to braaiiisseee for 15 minutes over low heat.
  6. Stir in the corn starch mixture.
  7. Throw on the spring onions.
  8. Eat your warm, comforting meal from the claypot with rice.

The Easy Vegetables

Well this isn’t really the easiest vegetables, the easiest vegetables are when you just use the garlic oil and don’t add the oyster sauce mix. They also taste nice. The oyster sauce part only adds a whole extra 10 seconds though. So really, it depends what you feel like having.

Nice and fresh and crunchySee how the garlic is a bit golden?

A tip – you can use any vegetables, but they have to be green, and they have to be fresh. Else it’ll taste odd. Blanching vegetables is an art I haven’t mastered, so I’m not going to pretend to tell you how long to cook them for. I usually bite one to check. By then the rest of the pot has usually overcooked. I need to work on my timing.

Kailan with oyster sauce and garlic

This is one of my standby weeknight dishes. Often eaten with a spicy omelette (that’s an egg beaten with the Thai chilli paste below. If you feel like being fancy, chop some onions into it).

Thai Chilli Paste - the only

Easy Green Vegetables with Garlic and Oyster Sauce

If you want tips and the original recipe, you can find them at RasaMalaysia.com. I lazied it up a bit – all the sauces are done in the microwave, and you only need to boil a pan of water to cook the vege.

A bunch of green vegetables
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 – 2 tablesp oil – for the garlic oil
1 tablesp oyster sauce
1 tablesp water
1/4 tablesp oil – for the oyster sauce
1/2 teasp sugar
Salt
White pepper – optional

  1. Blanch the vegetables in boiling water. I suggest you look at RasaMalaysia.com’s tips on this not mine. She mentions you should add a little oil to the water to prevent the vege from going limp. Don’t overcook them, or they’ll be soggy.
  2. Remove the excess water from the vege with paper kitchen towels. Put them on a plate, nicely.
  3. Crush and chop the garlic. Put it in a ramekin or a mug with the olive oil. Add a pinch of salt.
  4. Stick the garlic mixture in the microwave on high for between 15 to 30 seconds, depending on how high the power is on your microwave. I start with 15 seconds, then go up in intervals of 5 to 10, depending on how brown the garlic is. The oil keep sizzling after you take it out the microwave, so wait until it stops sizzling before you decide to put it back in for another few seconds. You need the garlic to be nice and golden, but not burnt (black/brown). I actually have a special mug I use for this, because it makes your mugs smell a bit garlicky if you do it a lot. Watch out for hot oil!
  5. Mix the oyster sauce, water, oil, and sugar in another mug. Put this in the microwave for about 10 seconds, then taste. If it tastes done then stop, else put it back for another 5 seconds. Use a high sided mug for this, because it can spit. If you’ve had it before then you know what “done” tastes like. If not, then just go straight for 15 seconds.
  6. Pour the oyster sauce and garlic oil mixtures over the vege. Sprinkle on a little white pepper, if you like. See, done. And you didn’t even need your pan today.