Thursday, March 31, 2016

[Cook] Dan Dan Noodles

The mention of Sichuan cooking often brings to mind the numbing peppercorns. I was never a big fan of the overly numbing sensation. Thankfully now that I am the one cooking, I am able to adjust the numbing properties accordingly. The result is a wonderful blend of aromatic Sichuan peppercorns and Chinese sauces to give a tasty, not overly numbing version of Sichuan Dan Dan noodles.
I have also taken liberties with the toppings and instead added my favourite Sichuan preserved mustard and pork slices. Really love this dish! Highly recommended!

There are 2 parts to this dish, first to make the Sichuan chilli oil, then secondly combining everything to make the Dan Dan noodles.


Recipe from :


Star anise1
Chilli Powder0.5 cup
Sichuan Peppercorn1.5 tsp
Five spice powder1.5 tsp
Ginger4 slices
Sesame seeds1 tbsp
*Corn oil1 cup
* Any vegetable oil will do


Crush Sichuan peppercorns into powder.
Combine everything in a small bowl.
Heat up oil and pour into bowl.
Let cool and leave for a day or two.



For Pork Slices
Pork Slices200g
Sichuan Preserved Vege70g
For Sauce
Sichuan Chili Oil1 tbsp
Soy sauce1 tbsp
Sesame Oil0.25 tbsp
Sugar0.5 tsp
Minced garlic1 tsp
Chicken stock0.25 cup


For Pork Slices
- Marinate pork slices with dash of soy sauce, sesame oil, corn flour and ginger.
- After about an hour, heat up 1 tbsp of oil in a wok and fry the Sichuan vege until fragrant. Put aside.
- Heat up another tbsp of oil on high heat and toss in marinated pork. Cook until done, and toss in Sichuan vege. Add a bit of water to get some sauce going. Season as needed. 

For Noodles
- Cook noodles according to packet instructions.
* I used Taiwan white egg noodles
- Mix ingredients in a bowl to make the sauce.
- When noodle is done, simple add sauce and mix well.
- Top with pork slices.

[Cook] Shakshouka

When I first encountered a Shakshouka recipe, it piqued my interest. What an interesting dish that I have never heard of. It looks yummy and simple enough. So from the green version I first encountered combined with this Eggs in Hell recipe, I came up with my version of Shakshouka. Though it is classically cooked entirely on the stove, I'm going for the baked version.

The end result was a delicious, spicy dish. The sauce was spicy and flavorful, with a strong cumin aroma. I think could use a little bit more tomato. The spinach and mushrooms served as the core of the dish with the jalapeno and cheese providing extra awesome flavors. Eggs were sad, it seems baking eggs creates some kind of plastic like layer on the top. The eggs look nice outside but inside they were already over cooked. I had expected it to be runny. Maybe if I had not gone the bake way, the eggs would have come out much better.


Garlic3 tsp
Tomato puree2 tbsp
Paprika1 tbsp
Cayenne0.5 tsp
Cumin1 tbsp
Parmesan0.5 cup
White Button Mushroom200g


In cast iron skillet, saute onion until soft. Add in garlic and fry till brown.
Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
Add jalapeno, mushrooms, cumin, paprika and cayenne powders and fry till fragrant. Constantly stir.
Add Tomato puree and a cup of hot water (stock if any)
Add in spinach. Reduce and season till the desired consistency and taste.
Remove skillet from stove, sprinkle Parmesan and crack in eggs.
Pop skillet into oven and bake till eggs reach desired doneness. 
* I did for about 10mins which is overcooked. Probably 6 or 7 mins would have been enough.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

[Books] Total Recall - The Life of Arnie

It's amazing what some people can achieve. He was the most muscular man in the world at the tender age of 23, when he won the Mr Olympia in 1970. For most people this would already be an accomplishment of a lifetime. What was most amazing was he did not just continue to accomplish more in his field of muscle and fitness, instead he took on entirely new challenges. He became a Hollywood superstar and insanely became the governor of California, The Governator. All this, while he was running a real estate business! 

His was an inspiring story, a very entertaining read. Of course his erm... personal affairs are distasteful to say the least. But the take away for me is how productive and how driven he was. What I have noticed is a lot of successful people wake up early. The Rock, a successful guy himself wakes up 4am to workout. Arnold himself wakes up early. Maybe this guy below has a point. Waking up early gives us more time with less distractions.

I probably wont be the next Governator any time soon, but what the heck, I'm gonna give waking up early a try. It's not gonna be easy for a pig like me, but hey, just like Arnold says, "Don't Be Afraid to Fail".

Monday, March 21, 2016

Penang Char Koay Teow I Hardly Know You

I can't remember when I first tasted Char Koay Teow. But I do remember those long drives back to Penang to visit my grandparents. It always comes with a visit to my favourite Lorong Selamat Char Koay Teow. That beautiful 'wok hei' (a wonderful smoky taste from high heat frying in a wok) from the charcoal, the balance of pork lard and flavorful sauce..mmm... just awesome. I have loved Char Koay Teow for a lonnnng time. It must be at least more than 15 years. And till this day this love has remained. Unfortunately my favourite Lorong Selamat Char Koay Teow seems to have changed. The taste is not as I remembered. it tastes oilier, the sauce not as memorable.

What is Char Koay Teow? 
Koay Teow itself is simply a flat rice noodle. A direct translation would simply be fried rice noodles. 

Then what is Penang Char Koay Teow? 

It differentiates from those in 'tai chows' (Chinese food places that serves restaurant dishes) that are often more wet and leaning to the sweeter side. And most importantly it differentiates from the god awful abomination of Char Koay Teow of those from the South, where a beautiful plate of Char Koay Teow is desecrated by the liberal addition of atrocious sweet sauce. 

source :
Fire needed for 'wok hei' :)

Penang Char Koay Teow had always meant to me a style of frying the Koay Teow with an amazing savory sauce and infusing it with heavenly 'wok hei'. Any home cook who says they can fry a good plate of Penang Char Koay Teow is either a liar or an idiot. Such 'wok hei' can only be imparted by a seriously powerful stove and is beyond the reach of any normal home kitchen. A standard plate of Penang Char Koay Teow is often accompanied by prawns, cockles, garlic, kuchai and bean sprouts. Often these flavors are then further improved with the addition of pork lard, 'lap cheong' (Chinese sausages) and charcoal fire. In my opinion pork lard not only brings an extra wonderful taste, it also allows the Koay Teow to be fried at higher temperatures as pork lard handles heat well. 'Lap cheong' adds a nice meaty sweetness. And of course charcoal adds a smoky aroma. It was to my surprise that some people actually also consider the color of the Koay Teow as an indication of Penang Char Koay Teow. According to them Penang Char Koay Teow should be a whiter shade. That was news to me ( because I'm not racist? :P ), I had no idea about this because I know the sauce is different for each stall and I do not see why it should not be called Penang Char Koay Teow simply because the sauce color is dark. I have also tasted very awesome pork-free Char Koay Teow, so I consider these criterias : color, pork lard, 'lap cheong' and charcoal fire, as enhancements but not defining attributes. I would happily refer to any with great 'wok hei' and amazing savory sauce as Penang Char Koay Teow.

What is the ultimate Penang Char Koay Teow? Where can I find it? I thought I found it in Lorong Selamat Penang, but it is no longer. In recent memory it has failed to live up to expectations. Where then is the ultimate Penang Char Koay Teow now? Ah Leng at Dato Keramat? Siam Road? Have I lost the ability to taste the ultimate Penang Char Koay Teow or have my tastes evolved to another level?

I do not know, but what I do know is I will not stop looking. If no one can make the Ultimate Penang Char Koay Teow then maybe, just maybe... I will?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

[Cook] Sour Ginger Soup

I love Szechuan veges and I love soup. So I decided to make a nice hot sour soup, and I tossed in some ginger so it gives a nice warming feeling when you drink the soup.
Tofu and mushrooms are optional, toss in any extra ingredient as you like.

Szechuan Vege2 bulbs
Chicken stock2 liters
White Peppercorn1 tbsp
Ginger3 knobs
Enoki Mushroom100g x2

- Crush peppercorns and ginger, throw into cheesecloth bag
- Soak Szechuan vege in water for about 30-45mins. Remove and cut into slices. Rinse thoroughly.
- Bring stock to boil then reduce to simmer, put in bag.
- Let simmer for about 15mins, throw in Szechuan vege
- Let simmer for about 20 mins, taste and season as needed.
- Throw in mushrooms and simmer for another 15 min.
- Throw in tofu and simmer for another 5 mins. DONE

Really loved this soup, a good balance of good chicken stock, ginger and sourness from the Szechuan vege.

Porcini : King of Mushrooms?

I have heard it mentioned so often by Jamie and Gennaro but I have not seen it around here. When a friend from Australia managed to get me some, boy was I excited.

And it did not disappoint! I took the dried porcinis, reconstituted it and used it to make mushroom risotto. I see why it is called the king! The mushroom flavor was intense. It was so strong I regret not using strong fresh herbs to balance it out.

This is an amazing ingredient and I would definitely love to use it again!