6. Main ingredients

Mung bean vermicelli with pork, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf (gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

My kaffir lime shrub is doing very well in the garden this year despite the (relatively) cold & wet winter. So I decided to cook a dish with some kaffir lime leaves. I have some mung bean vermicelli in the pantry. I love mung bean vermicelli – it can be used in so many dishes – prawn hot pot, vegetarian stew, soup… wonderful texture and doesn’t soak up too much sauce. Karfir lime leaves add extra layer of flavor to this noodle dish.

Mung bean vermicelli with pork, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf  (gluten free)

 

Read the rest of this entry »

White cooked chicken with a tangy soy and vinegar sauce (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

When I got off the train from work this evening, I realized that we didn’t have any food in the fridge for dinner. I picked up some chicken thigh fillets and a bunch of shallot from a local grocery store, and walked home to make a quick meal.

When I got home, I first put on the kettle for some hot water; then put on some rice in the rice cooker. I placed the whole chicken fillets in a saucepan with a piece of ginger and a few pinch of salt, poured over the hot water to cover all the pieces, brought it to boil over the stove top, then put the lid on and turned the heat to very low. Off I went to get change out of my work clothes. When I was back in the kitchen, I chopped up some shallot and chili (note1). I heat up a frying pan with some oil, pan fry the shallot & chili with a little sugar & salt (1 minute) –  dinner’s nearly ready.

The chicken was just cooked (approx 15 minutes) – beautifully tender and juicy. I sliced the chicken and mixed the pieces with a dash of soy (use gluten free soy sauce for a gluten free option), a dash of sesame oil, a dash of rice wine vinegar, a dash of white wine. Add the pan fried shallot and chili, garnish with coriander, and dinner was served.

White cooked chicken with a tangy soy and vinegar sauce (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

Read the rest of this entry »

Green beans and eggs, with oyster sauce (low FODMAP)

Posted on Updated on

When I was a child, this was a popular dish at our house  – grandmother raised a coup of egg-laying chickens at the roof top terrace, and green beans from the market were always fresh and cheap. The soft eggs compliments the crunchiness of bean; the oyster sauce enhances the freshness of the beans & eggs. So simple, quick & tasty – goes really well with a small bowl of hot rice.

Green beans and eggs, with oyster sauce (low FODMAP)

 

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

Asian inspired seafood bisque (gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

I love bisque – I can’t think of another soup with so much flavors. My seafood bisque has added Asian flavors – lemongrass, chills, ginger, shallot & coriander. The flavor is intense & irresistible.

Asian inspired seafood bisque

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

Banana chilies stuffed with lamb, topped with an Asian sauce of oyster, soy and sesame oil (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

I saw some beautiful banana chilies in the local fruit shop & can’t help thinking of this dish –  a popular dish in Southern China with freshwater fish as stuffing. I like to use lamb & cabbage, it goes so well with chilies.

Banana chilies stuffed with lamb, topped with an Asian sauce of oyster, soy and sesame oil (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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

Chocolate meringue biscuits (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

These little biscuits are so good and moreish.

Just received confirmation from Monash that amount of cocoa powder used in this recipe (5g, or 2tsp) is low FODMAP, so I am sharing this recipe as a Low FODMAP. If you on a low FODMAP diet, please take care not to have too many in one go – Monash recommends sugar intake 1 serve = 16g. Enjoy.

Chocolate meringue biscuits (low FODMAP, gluten free)

 

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

Pork and bok choy dumplings with home made rice and tapioca wrappings (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

Our friend Bill has gut problems and is on a low FODMAP diet. He posted on facebook today, saying “I am sick of being sad; and sad for being sick”.  To lift his spirit, we invited Bill over for some food.

I made some steamed rice flour and tapioca dumplings with pork and bokchoy.

Pork and bok choy dumplings with home made rice and tapioca wrappings (fodmap friendly, gluten free)

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

Egg ‘pancake’ with Asian style meat balls, vegetables and fish sauce (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

I bought some minced pork from the local butcher early this afternoon with the intention to make some Low FODMAP dumplings. By the time I get around processing the mince with bok choy as filling, I was getting quite hungry and fancied something a bit more substantial.  So here is the afternoon snack / dinner – really nice with a Vietnamese fish sauce.

Egg 'pancake' with Asian style meat balls, vegetables and fish sauce (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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

Steamed tofu with pork floss (肉松), noodles, soy and vinegar

Posted on Updated on

This dish is simply refreshing & refreshingly simple – the silkiness of the tofu, the tangy soy & vinegar sauce enhanced by the sweetness of the pork floss, add soba noodles to make a full lunch out of it.

Steamed tofu with pork floss (肉松), noodles, soy & vinegar

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

Pork belly with Chinese dry mustard greens (Mei Cai Kou Rou 梅菜扣肉)

Posted on Updated on

Pork belly with Chinese dry mustard greens (Mei Cai Kou Rou 梅菜扣肉)

When I was a little girl, my grandmother often sent me to the market across the road to get groceries. At the market, there were urns of soy sauce, slabs of tofu, loads of vegetables, a fish stand and a pork stand.  When it was my turn at the butcher’s stand, with his huge chopping cleaver in his hand, he looked down to me and asked loudly: ‘soup or for stir fry’. I looked up and quietly said: “kou rou’. He would then cut me a small piece of pork belly and tight it with a bamboo string as I handed over coupons and money.

A Chinese butcher at the market
A Chinese butcher at the market

I still remember how the bundles of dry ‘Mei Cai’, or salted Chinese dry mustard greens, hanging from the bamboo racks at the markets. There were preserved greens as well, being fermented in large brown urns. In the good old days, ‘mei cai’ was popular in China – it was cheap and can be use with so many dishes. If one ran out of money, ‘mei cai’ and boiled rice was considered a far superior option than soy sauce and boiled rice.

Here is one of my grandmother’s favorite dish – ‘mei cai kou rou’, or pork belly with Chinese dry mustard greens.

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

Tofu skin rolls with chicken, bamboo shoots and Chinese mushrooms 鮮竹卷 (gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

This is a popular Cantonese dim sim dish found in most yum cha restaurants, often steamed and sometimes vegetarian. My version is first steamed then pan fried for extra flavor.

Tofu skin rolls with chicken, bamboo shoots and Chinese mushrooms 鮮竹卷 (gluten free)

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

Eggplant ‘lasagna’ with lamb, roasted capsicum and a homemade tomato sauce (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

Bored with low FODMAP & gluten free diet? Try this awesome ‘lasagne’ layered with sliced eggplant, roast capsicum, carrot, green bean and lamb cooked in home made tomato paste. Hope it will put some sparkles in your spirit.

Eggplant 'lasagna' with lamb, roasted capsicum and a homemade tomato sauce (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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

Pie tees with jicama, carrot, pork and dried shrimps

Posted on Updated on

A traditional Nonya (Malay-Chinese) food, these cute & crispy little cups got me wondering… hmm.. what goodies can I fill them up with?

In Singapore the pie tee cups are available in sealed plastic jars from supermarkets – but we don’t have such luxury in Australia. So I bought a brass pie tee mould online from the U.K. and made my own pastry. For the filling, I stirred fry some graded jicama & carrot, minced pork and oyster sauce. Then I topped the pastry cups with fried shrimps and shallot. It was really tasty.

Pie tees with jicama, carrot, pork and dried shrimps

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

Mapo tofu (麻婆豆腐), and my father’s story of two spoonful of oil

Posted on Updated on

Mapo tofu (麻婆豆腐), and my father's story of two spoonful of oil

The province of Sichuan in China is famous for its taste bud killing pepper corn & spicy food.  One of their most famous dishes is the ‘mapo tofu’, sometimes translated as the ‘pockmarked grandma’s bean curd’.

When my father was a young lad, he attended a university far away from home. Ever since then, he developed a strong desire for traveling. After graduation, he worked for a state-owned factory with a starting salary of 51 yuan a month. He did not have the money to travel other than travelling for work.

One year, he was fortunate enough to be sent to Sichuan for a research project. He asked my grandmother for an oil coupon.  Those days most essentials were scarce and required coupons. When he arrived, he took the coupon to a well-known local restaurant and ordered a big bowl of mapo tofu. ‘The tofu was so good,’ he said to me, still with great enthusiasm, ‘ it had two spoonfuls of oil in it.”

A young traveler, somewhere in the Nortern China
A young traveler, somewhere in the Northern China

I have had many mapo tofu dishes over the years – they all seemed to be overly oily. But I liked them just like that  – I soaked up the oil with boiled rice. I could feel  my father’s joy and excitement as a far-away-from-home young traveler.

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

Steamed blue eye cod 蒸鱼 and the market across the ‘Yayan Lane’ 雅言里 (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

How I love steamed fish!

Steamed blue eye cod with shallot & soy (low FODMAP & gluten free)

Growing up in Guangzhou in the early 1970s, we lived in a rundown 5-bedroom terrace house on a little lane way called the ‘Yayan Lane’ 雅言里  , translated as the ‘elegant words lane’. The house was bought by my grandfather in early 1950s for $1,200 yuan from a tea merchant. At the time there was a ‘movement’ to crack down tax evasion. Like some other small businesses, the tea merchant had to sell his house to pay his tax bill.  It was said that most houses on the market were going cheap over that period.

IMG_5013 #1
My grandfather at the old terrace house, Yayan lane, guangzhou

There were many family members lived at the terrace house at various intervals – my great grandmother, my grandparents, my family, 3 uncles & 1 aunt and their families. My grandma cooked dinners for all the families. Food & basic essentials such as rice, oil, meat, fish, coal & fabric were on rations, and we had books of colorful coupons.

There was a state-ran market across the road from our lane way. The market sold all sort of food – meat & vegetables, seafood, Chinese sausages & BBQ meat, tofu, preserves, oil & soy sauce. When very small fish were caught from large schools, sometime coupons were not required.  The neighbors always kept a look out for such rare occasions, and we would hear a shout across the lane way.  Grandmother and I would grab a bamboo basket as fast as we could, rushed over to join the crowd.  There were no such things as lining up – layers of people cramped in front of the concrete table where the fish piled up among large blocks of ice, pushing each other, yelling to attract attention. The fish was always fresh and undeniably small,  not longer than my little hand.  My grandmother steamed the fish with soy sauce for dinner. Our skinny house cats would fight over the bones & left-over sauce mixed with some rice – a rare treat for them.

Riding a bike at Yayan Lane, GuangZhou, China in 1970s
Riding a bike at the Yayan lane in 1970s

Today, we are so very lucky in Australia with all the wonderful seafood, spices & herbs. My favorite method of cooking fish is steaming. From time to time, when I enjoy a good steamed fish, I could still smell the sea at the crowded market place across the road from the Yayan Lane.

Here is my version of steamed fish – fresh & simple.  I used Blue Eye Cod on this occasion. You can use most sort of white flesh fish. My favorite fish for steaming is perch.

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

Rice paper roll with chicken, quinoa, pumpkin, carrot, capsicum and lettuce (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

A friend has recently moved to a low FODMAP diet. When we have dinner parties, I try to accommodate his diet with the simplest, freshest ingredients with low FODMAP. It is fun and challenging working with limited ingredients.

Here is a super easy recipe & well balanced – the pan fried capsicums & pumpkins add lots of sweetness to this dish, lettuce add  crunchiness, quinoa adds texture, chicken for protein.

Rice paper roll with chicken, quinoa, pumpkin, carrot, capsicum and lettuce (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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

Chinese traditional steamed pork ‘cake’ 蒸肉餅 (gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

My old aunt & my cousin are coming over for lunch today.  My aunt can’t cook much any more, so I am cooking them a traditional Chinese meal.  No other meat could be more traditional than pork. I remembered that my old aunt had a secret for all good Chinese pork dishes – ginger, shallot, soy & wine.

Chinese traditional steamed pork 'cake' 蒸肉餅 (gluten free)

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

White cut chicken with Vietnamese slaw, memories of the Chinese New Year’s Eve feast

Posted on Updated on

White cut chicken is so very close to my heart.

When I grew up in the early 70s in Southern China, we lived simply on limited resources. Earning a first prize in school meant a lot to me, as the prize was typically a pencil with a rubber at the end, a real luxury. I would jump for joy if I received a prize of a few new exercise books as they were frequently out of stock at the shops.

My father was a university graduate and a mechanical engineer.  The year that I was born, he was ‘redistributed’ to work at a factory 150km away from home. Those days, 150km means a 5 hours journey on a train. My father’s monthly salary was about $60 yuan (approx USD10 based on today’s exchange rate). He kept $30 yuan for himself and sent the rest to us. My mother was a factory hand whose monthly salary was $37 yuan (approx USD6 based on today’s exchange rate).  Once a year, our Singapore uncle sent us a little money. My mother would buy some fabric, sew a new piece of clothing for me on my grandmother’s old sewing machine. Our Singapore uncle was very kind to us –  he had a large family to support and he was not well off himself.

At the end of each Chinese Luna year, my father was entitled to a 10-day holiday to spend Chinese New Year with the family. As a special treat for the New Year’s Eve family dinner, my father always brought home a farm chicken which cost around $10 yuan. He had to save up for months to buy the chicken. My grandmother carefully slaughtered and poached the chicken, then served it at the Chinese New Year Eve dinner.  The chicken was shared among the whole family – grandmother, uncles, aunties and us.

White cut chicken with Vietnamese slaw   &  the Chinese New Year's Eve feast

There were only a few pieces for each of us. Grandmother was entitled to the chicken’s bottom, a delicacy. I was the first grandchild born in the house and was entitled to one of the wings – another delicacy. How delicious it was, our once a year white cut chicken feast.

Over the years in Australia I had many white cut chicken dishes – some were delicious, some were cooked without care. I started cooking my own version of the boneless white cut chicken, and my friends always enjoyed the dish.

This recipe is a modern fusion of Chinese & Vietnamese – gently poached juicy tender chicken breast fillet on a bed of fresh Vietnamese style slaw.

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

Bean sprout salad with spicy Korean radish (gluten free, Vegan)

Posted on Updated on

As a Cantonese grown up in southern China in the 70s, bean sprout dishes were a regular on the dinner table because it was very cheap.  My grandmother grew the bean sprouts herself in a large brown urn under the stairs. My childhood memory of bean sprouts was always a stir fry watery dish with very little flavor. It was not until I arrived in Australian and had the opportunity to taste Korean food, to learn that it could be spiced up and taste so wonderful !

Bean sprout salad with spicy Korean radish  (gluten free, Vegan)

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

Cucumber salad and memories of ‘wine house’ restaurants (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

Posted on Updated on

Compressed rectangle Cucumber salad

As a little child growing up in southern China in the early 70s, our family was considered very fortunate to have relatives and friends overseas. Every few years a small group of the oversea relatives would visit, bringing with them pre-loved clothes, food, small gifts and special foreign exchanged yuan to shout us a feast in a ‘wine house’ restaurant’ – no food coupons required! In my little eyes, the oversea visitors were beautiful people – they dressed well, smelt so nice and they were always very kind to me.

Out of the pre-loved clothes that were given to me by our visitors, the most memorable was my little red jumper with a plastic print of happy reindeers – all jolly and bright. The jumper was thin, so I wore the jumper on top of multiple layers of clothes.  I wore the jumper nearly every day during many winters as it was the only jumper I had. When it was too short for me and did not extend past my belly button, I passed it to my sister who was 4 years younger than me. My sister used it for many years after that.

With our visitors, the ‘wine house’ restaurant that we most visited was the KwangChow Restaurant (also called the GuangZhou Restaurant in mandarine), one of the most celebrated restaurants in the city. It was only 4 blocks away from our house.  Downstairs of the restaurant was the common dining room – plain and simple. The dining area upstairs was so grand that it looked like a palace!  How I enjoyed the aroma of food, tea and wine lingering through the tastefully decorated dining rooms – carved wooden partitions, classic rosewood furniture and traditional paintings on the walls. My favorite dishes were the little side dishes served at arrival – cucumber salad, roasted peanuts and salted vegetables. These little dishes made me so hungry and so looking forward to the special feast.

Our extended family being entertained by oversea relatives in a restaurant
Our extended family being entertained by oversea relatives in a restaurant in 1970s

Many years later in Australia I spoke with one of our visitors about his impression of China in the 70s – ‘awful,’ he said,’ except for that restaurant, the food was really nice.’

A match box I collected from GuangZhou Restaurant, one of the most famous restaurant in the city in 1980s
A match box I collected from the GuangZhou Restaurant, one of the most famous restaurant in the city in 1970s

I hope you enjoy my version of a cucumber salad with a little modern twist.

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

Rare beef salad with Vietnamese slaw

Posted on Updated on

A simple and delicious beef salad – juicy aged rump pan seared 2-3 minutes on each side, on a bed of tasty Asian salad with mint and coriander.

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

Chicken San Choy Bao

Posted on Updated on

When I was in university, I worked in a Chinese restaurant as a pantry girl. I cut hundreds of san choy bao leaves each evening before meal time. It was one of the most popular dishes.  I wondered if there was such a real dish in China called the San Choy Bao – I never heard of it before.

Anyway, I made some for the school fete, a big hit. And I was happy.

Chicken San Choy Bao

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

Lamb rendang (gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

I use lamb for this curry, as I love the tenderness of lamb.  I use the words ‘a few’ in this recipe, as this is a ‘modern’ rendang,  you can ‘play’ with the ingredients to suit you taste.

Lamb rendang (gluten free)

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

Soy bok choy, memories of my grandmother’s chicken coop (Low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

Posted on Updated on

Vegetables & melons are popular food in China – bok choy, choy sum & cabbage are some of the most common vegetables.

While I was a little child, we lived in a terrace house with my extended family including uncles & aunties. My grandmother was responsible for cooking dinners for the whole family. To supplement the food coupons, my grandmother raised a coop of chickens on the roof top terrace. Before I was old enough to go to school, every afternoon I went to the market with my grandmother to collect left over green vegetables. We brought the vegetables home, chopped them up on a huge wooden chopping board, and fed to the chickens. While she was chopping, grandmother told me stories, so many stories. One of the stories was about me – while I was still a crawling baby, I crawled up to the roof top terrace, helped myself to the egg storage urn, cracked every single egg and smeared the eggs on the stairs.

That was not the only time that I was naughty – I remember when I was little, bored and feeling mischievous, I put some rice behind the door to the roof top terrace. I peeked through the gaps, waited till the chickens started pecking on the grains, suddenly opened the door – chickens were flying everywhere!  The naughty little girl laughed and laughed.  My grandmother was always very kind to me and never punished me.

Some days we were lucky enough to collect some good vegetables, and grandma cooked them for dinner with a little oil, a dash of soy sauce and nothing else. Soy sauce was always cheap and no coupon needed.

Here is my version of a simple soy bok choy, with fond memory of my wonderful grandmother.

Soy bok choy (Low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

Easy method is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Chicken stir fry with lemongrass and chili (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

Thai food always brings back memory of a pink restaurant where I worked for a few years during my university days.

The restaurant was owned by a kind Vietnamese couple – An the husband and Ly the wife.   Ly looked after 3 young children and worked in the tiny kitchen every night. An was a full time engineer who managed the dinning room and delivered takeaway food.

When they spoke about their past, I could see Ly’s eyes sparkled, and warm smiles on An’s face. In the old days back home, Ly was known as the ‘Saigon rose’ for her exceptional beauty, and An was a young, well educated officer working for the American army.

I learned to cook some wonderful dishes from Ly. One of my favourite was a ‘xa ot’ dish, meaning lemongrass and chili.

Here is my version of a xa ot chicken.

Chicken stir fry with lemongrass and chili

Easy method is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »