I first learned how to use Asian spices from my best friend’s late mother whom I dearly called Auntie Wong.
Growing up in Malaysia, Auntie Wong was an acrobat in a circus, and later became a self-trained dentist. ‘How do you install a denture for an old lady without a single tooth,’ she laughed,’ luckily I was young and good looking then, I asked male dentists for helps and was never refused’.
Auntie Wong migrated to Australia in early 1980s with her three daughters. She ran a small take away shop in Glebe, an inner Sydney suburb, selling Malaysian fast food. To supplement the limited income from the shop, in the evenings she made spring rolls for catering companies. My friend Mei, the youngest daughter, helped with the spring rolls while she was still in primary school.
Some years later, Auntie Wong saved up enough money and bought a studio apartment. Auntie and Mei lived there for many years, sharing a bed. In their tiny but always welcoming home, Auntie Wong cooked me many heart-warming meals. The smell of delicious food filled the small space, and what a wonderful place it was. My favorite dishes were the Singapore meat and bone soup, noodles with salmon XO sauce, and fried rice with Indian spices.
While enjoying meals, auntie told me many of her life stories. I was always inspired by her amazing abilities to adopt to changes, and her keen spirit for new adventures.
Here is my version of a spiced fried rice – simple, aromatic and satisfying, with fond memory of Auntie Wong’s kindness and love.Read the rest of this entry »
Years ago, my little boy loved a book called “The Tiger Who Came To Tea”. The story talked about a tiger who visited Sophie’s house and ate all their food. Sophia’s dad took Sophie and her mum out to a cafe, had a lovely supper with sausages, chips and ice cream.
‘How could sausages be lovely?’ my little boy asked.
So here is my version of sausages – a one pot meal with onion and capsicum, spiced with garam masala, turmeric and mustard oil.
Method is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »
After a weekend of non-stop eating and drinking, we were keen to have a very simple meal this lovely Monday evening – perhaps some warm rice with a few sprinkle of seasoning.
I cooked the rice in a rice cooker. I used 1 cup of white glutinous rice with 1 cup of medium grain rice. The cooked rice was gently soft but not too sticky. I then rolled some rice into balls, and coated the rice balls with furikake.
I bought my furikake from a local Asian store. I particularly like the one with wasabi flavor. The furikake was made in China which is fine with me as it was very delicious.
A simple meal and no recipe required.
A few weeks ago I set off to make a few carrot & vegetable dishes. Here is one of them…
It is made with sushi rice, saute pumpkin with cumin, saute carrot with turmeric, saute capsicum with garam masala and nori sheets. Sesame seeds were added for extra flavor. The ingredients are layered in a terrine pan, and wrapped with 2 nori sheets.
Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »
When I was a little girl, sticky rice was such a treat – we would only enjoy it on special occasions such as weddings or festival seasons. It is probably because it takes extra efforts to fry glutinous rice ?
Recipe is as follows:
Nasi kuning is an Indonesian rice dish cooked with coconut milk and turmeric. If you have a rice cooker, my ‘relaxed’ version of fried rice with ready made nasi kuning paste is easy and delicious.
Method is as follow:
I made this super easy turmeric fried rice for lunch. So simple, no recipe required.
To serve 2 persons – a quick stir fry of cooked rice (2cups), adding turmeric (2tsp), 2 pre-scrambled eggs, diced green beans (12 beans), julienne carrot (1/2 carrot), sliced lettuce (1 cup) and a little chopped chilies, seasoned with pinch of salt.
Tips – add the lettuce last to keep it crunchy.
I like Kimchi, I like gochujang, I like rice, and I like pork – roll them up in a ball with crispy panko crumbs,deep fried and you will get these irresistible rice balls.
Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »
Hometown (中山) style steamed rice cake with radish, bacon and dried shrimps; memories of grand uncle ‘Chi’
I am visiting my old grandaunt & granduncle today. I will cook them their favorite steamed glutinous rice cake.
As an orphan, my mother wished to join her sister in the U.S. since she was a young girl. After trying for many years without success, she married my father at the age of 28. My father has many relatives in Australia, one of them is the Uncle Chi’s family.
Uncle Chi is my granduncle. He is a cousin of my late grandfather from the ZhongShan (中山) prefecture in the GuangDong province. My granduncle’s family came to Australia during the gold rush era in early 1900s. The family opened a peanut shop in Newcastle with a roasting workshop at the back. The peanut shop had a table in the corner, with old Chinese ladies dropping by daily to enjoy a cup of Chinese tea and a few chats.
My granduncle went to high school and he was academically excellent. He took over the family business instead of pursuing university. This was considered the right thing to do by the family.
During 1940s, granduncle went back to ZhongShan for an arranged marriage. He married a pretty and educated maiden from a well-off family. My grandaunt came to Australia, without a maid on her side for the first time, learned to cook and raised 6 children.
When the peanut shop was sold to a large competitor, the family opened up a Chinese restaurant. They worked really hard. According to their children, they were in the restaurant ‘all the time’. Over this period, they sponsored many relatives to migrate to Australia for a better life. They moved to Sydney in early 1970s as the children studied in universities around Sydney.
My father connected with granduncle in early 1970s by mail. My grandfather was an educated man (rare those days) and a well-respected figure in our hometown. The two families got on very well in the past. Since I was a little girl, my parents told me that I must study hard, I must go overseas, and I must seek a better life than the one that I was in. The idea was that, once I could make a break through, my parents could tag along too.
Reasonably good at school work, I attended one of the most selective high schools in Guangzhou city. My father diligently wrote to my granduncle each year on my academic achievements and suggested that one day I’d have the ability to have a go at a new life in Australia. So when I graduated from high school in 1980s, my granduncle sponsored me to come to Australia. My granduncle found a school for me, paid for the exuberance school fee and bought an air ticket for me – my parents couldn’t even afford the airfare. I lived with them until I was on my own two feet. With their help, I was able to secure a university degree, became a qualified accountant and later on an investment professional. Thanks to their generosity, I have a wonderful life in a beautiful country. I am grateful for their support, kindness & care.
So today I am cooking them a dish from our hometown, ZhongShan, a steamed glutinous rice cake that they loved when I was living with them.
Recipe is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »