Month: January 2017

Prosperity toss (‘yee sang’ 捞生) for Chinese new year (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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One of my best friend’s late mother, whom I dearly called Auntie Wong, was an exceptional cook. A Chinese woman migrated from Malaysia, she could make beautiful meat-bone soups, aromatic curries and many different type of chili pastes.  During Chinese New Year, she made ‘yee sang’, an elaborate salad with sashimi salmon and a plum sauce. We made wishes as we mixed the salad with our chopsticks, shared a few giggles and enjoyed the delicious feast.

In Chinese, ‘yee’ means fish, a symbol of plenty. ‘Sang’ shares the same pronunciation of 升, means uplifting. With a name like that, no wonder ‘yee sang’ is one of the most popular dish for Chinese New Year around Singapore and Malaysia.

My father and sister were travelling in China and only arrived yesterday, which was the Chinese New Year’s Day. To welcome them home,, I made my own version of ‘yee sang’ with tuna, salmon, fennel, carrot, capsicum, cucumber and a strawberry salad dressing.

I didn’t make any wishes as I mixed the salad – I already have everything I could have wished for. Although life is busy and demanding, I have a lovely family, good friends, a home with a double garage full of cooking equipment. I am happy.

Prosperity Toss / yu sang / yee sang /lo sang (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follows:

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Easy hand rolls of alfalfa, carrot, capsicum, rocket and sesame seeds (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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As I mentioned, I recently connected with my high school classmates on WeChat. I pleasantly discovered how diverse my school mates had become. One of the ladies is now a devoted Buddhist. She posted many photos of pagodas, Buddha, and vegetarian food. ‘You like cooking’, she said, ‘do you cook vegan food?’. She recommended sprout alfalfa and sent me a full description of its benefits.

‘Sure, I will made a few dishes tomorrow’.

I loved alfalfa, so dedicate and beautiful to look at. While I attended university in early 90s, alfalfa was in nearly every sandwiches I bought from the canteen. The sandwiches were charged by weight. Alfalfa is so light that I could have a ham and alfalfa sandwich for about $1. Bargain.

Here is my first installment of the alfalfa menu – easy hand rolls of rice, alfalfa, carrot, capsicum, rocket leafs, BBQ sauce and sesame seeds.

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Chinese sweet dumplings ‘tang yuan'(汤圆) – raspberry pink, in a ginger, cinnamon and honey syrup (gluten free, vegan)

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‘Tang yuan’, or the glutinous rice balls in syrup, were sometimes offered as a complementary dessert at Chinese restaurants. My husband always puzzled, why people liked these dull looking, doughy, boringly sweet and tasteless stuff.

Good point. As much ‘tang yuan’ is well loved by the Chinese community for its symbolic meaning of family and its reunion, it is not an exciting dish, not until it became a fusion dish anyway.

My ‘tang yuan’ were colored by raspberry coulis; some were filled with red bean paste and some were just small and plain. The syrup was infused with a cinnamon stick, cardamom,  ginger and orange peel, with brown sugar for color and a dash of honey for extra flavor. I really hope my husband would like them; and then he said, ‘they were okkkk’. Grrrrrrr!

Chinese sweet dumplings 'tang yuan'(汤圆) - raspberry pink, in a ginger, cinnamon & honey syrup

Recipe is as follows:

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Chinese New Year steamed sweet cake ‘nian gao’ (年糕) with coconut milk and ginger (gluten free, vegan)

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My old aunt loved making ‘nian gao’. My cousins called them rubber cakes, with a chewy, sticky texture and a plain sugary taste. My aunt is too old to cook now. So I started to make them myself, a not-so-authentic version with coconut milk, maple syrup and cinnamon. That’s what multi-culture is about, right?

‘Gao’ has the same pronunciation as ‘high’. ‘Nian’ means ‘year’. So ‘nian gao’ is symbolic for ‘every year a greater success’.  This puts ‘nian gao’ on the must-have list for Chinese New Year.

If you like it looking fancy, dust the cake with a mixture of peanuts, sesame seeds, sugar and desiccated coconut.

Chinese New Year steamed sweet cake 'nian gao' with ginger, cadamon, cinnamon and coconut milk

Recipe is as follows. Read the rest of this entry »

Chinese New Year sweet dumplings filled with peanuts, sesame seeds and coconut 角仔

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I had never fussed about Chinese New Year during my 30 years in Australia. After all, the Chinese New Year’s day is an ordinary work day.

This year I am making a special effort, having recently visited Singapore and overwhelmed by their festival spirit. I was particularly impressed by the whole floor of festival groceries at the basement of Takashimaya department store – beautiful food in containers, in jars, packages and everywhere.

Singapore luna new year grocery at Takashimaya
Luna new year grocery at Takashimaya department store Singapore

I still remember my experience during these 10 joyful days while I was in China. It was in the midst of winter and the air was always cold. There were sparkles in our eyes with the excitement of fire crackers, flower stalls, new clothes, a few good meals and the red envelopes with some money in it.

The ‘gok-zai'(角仔) or the ‘YouJiao'(油角), translated as the fried little triangle pastry, diligently homemade and exchanged between families while paying the rare once-a-year visits, were delightful.  Families often re-gifted the ‘gok-zai’ they received. We often ended up with a bag of ‘gok-zai’ with different shapes, sizes and colors. My grandmother stored them in a brown urn under the stairs and we were allowed to have a few each day. During the early 1970s while food supplies were scarce, these little treats were very much appreciated by the little ones.

Here is my quick and easy ‘gok-zai’. Traditionally they were deep fried but I baked them for a healthier version.  Happy new year everyone, 新年快樂. Hope the newSw year will bring you and your family health, peace and happiness.

Recipe is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Kale with orange and sesame (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

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We had steaks for dinner tonight and made a kale dish as a side. It was very simple, blanched kale, diced orange,  orange zest, lemon juice, sesame oil and sesame seeds.

This recipe below is portion controlled to a FODMAP diet. Please feel free to use any additional ingredients you may like.

Kale with orange, sesame oil, sesame seeds. LowFODMAP, Vegan, Gluten-Free,

Recipe is as follows:

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Sweet and sour pork with tamarind,orange and pineapple (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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I blinked my eyes and we are already half way into summer.

The greatest things about summers are the lovely family holidays at the beaches and oversea adventures.  We love going to warm places, filled with smiles and aroma of tropical fruits.  We came back from our beach break last week and going to Malaysia next week. Oh, why do we have to wait so long?

So I picked up a beautiful pineapple from the local fruit shop. To me, pineapples are sunshine, good time and cocktails by the resort pool. I’d cook up a holiday with pork,

Sweet and sour pork with tamarind,orange and pineapple (low FODMAP, gluten free)

pineapple, orange, chili, tamarind and strawberry jam.



Recipe is as follows:

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