20 February 2009

Pasta Bolognese

I remember when my grandma would make me Spaghetti and put it into one of those chinese thermos flasks for me to take to school for lunch. I tend to be rather popular during lunch time on those particular days at school. My grandma's recipe was actually more like chinese spaghetti. She used soy sauce to marinate the beef, added chinese rice wine, garlic, onions, fresh tomatoes and some chinese green shallots. There was no use of cheese, bacon, red wine, basil or any other typical Italian herbs. But it was delicate and deliciously yummy in its own way... My highschool friends certainly thought so.

This recipe here is not my grandma's recipe. I've actually tried to mimic my grandma's recipe before, but it was never quite the same. My own recipe, which I have adapted from many other recipes, is distinctively more Italian than Chinese. But the reason why Spaghetti Bolognese is one of my favorite comfort foods is because of the one my grandma first made for me.

I've broken this recipe down into separate stages. With the ingredients shown in the right order. Hopefully it is easier to understand this way.

Pasta Bolognese

Phase 1:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion (sliced & chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (smashed & chopped)
  • 4 slices bacon rashers (chopped)
  • 1 carrot (grated)
  • 1 celery stick (diced finely)
  • 1 kg lean mined beef
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat oil in a big pot (I use a dutch oven pot)
  2. Saute onion, garlic, bacon, celery and carrots until soft (3-5 mins)
  3. Add beef, season with salt and pepper and cook until browned.

Phase 2:

  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 1 Cup of red wine
  • 150 ml milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1. Add Bay Leaves, Red wine and bring to boil , then reduce heat to medium. Simmer until most wine has evapourated.
  2. Add milk and Nutmeg
  3. Cook until milk has been absorbed.

Phase 3:

  • 2 Cans of Whole tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • drizzle of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • salt and pepper
  • a good handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve
  1. Add tomatoes, sugar, herbs, Worcestershire sauce and mix in the tomato paste. Bring the heat up so the sauce starts to boil.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer gently for ~ 45 mins.
  3. Season to taste with Salt & Pepper (if required)
  4. 5 mins before serving, add in the torn basil leaves.
  5. Serve with your favorite cooked pasta and cover with cheese
This is one dish I tend to make a whole pot of, then separate into 'twosome' meal sized containers to freeze for later. After the immediate meal, I'm usually able to get about 3 more full containers from the leftovers in the pot.

Quickie Meal ~ 15 mins to reheat the sauce while cooking the pasta

And the leftovers always tends to taste better. :)

17 February 2009

Stuffed Eggplant with Black Bean Sauce

Stuffed Eggplant is usually one of three pieces that make up a dish commonly found at Yum Cha. The other two is traditionally stuffed pepper and stuffed tofu. The dish is called 'The three treasures' (or something close to that). I'm not a huge fan of the stuff tofu or pepper, so when I'm cooking at home, I usually just make a dish with only the stuffed eggplant pieces.

sliced eggplant pieces soaking in water

Stuffed Eggplant with Black Bean Sauce
Original recipe passed to me from my grandma

  • 6-8 Asian Eggplants (sliced diagonaly in 4cm pieces, with an incision sliced 3/4 way through, soaked in cold water for 1 hr)
  • Small bowl of Cornflour (to be used during the 'stuffing' process)
  • ~300g White Fish paste (from chinese grocery shops)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried shrimp (soaked in water, finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons of corriander (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt & a pinch of ground white pepper


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove (smashed and finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of fermented black beans (fresh or use black bean paste from chinese grocery shops)
  • 1 fresh red chilli (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 1 cm piece of yellow block sugar (smashed)
  1. To prepare the eggplant, on an angle, slice into 4cm pieces. Then make another incision in between the 4cm piece for the filling.
  2. Mix together the fish paste with dried shrimps and corriander. Season with salt and white pepper.
  3. Drain the eggplant pieces after they have been soaking in the cold water for 1hr.
  4. Rub some cornflour on the insides of the eggplant piece and place about 1 tablespoon of the mixed fish paste into the eggplant. (The cornflour helps hold the fish paste in place).
  5. Shallow fry the eggplant pieces in some hot oil.
  6. Remove the pieces as they start to turn a golden colour and set aside.
  7. In a medium hot wok, add the oil then stir in the garlic, black bean, chilli, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Keep on stirring the contents around so it wont burn too easily.
  8. Add in the eggplant pieces. And carefully stir fry the content around the wok, until each piece has a coating of the black bean sauce.

Serve with some plain steam rice.


  • Soaking the eggplant in cold water beforehand helps to stop the eggplant pieces turning brown (discolouring).
  • Sliced eggplant pieces diagonally to get more surface area
  • If using fresh black beans then rinse the beans well through some water, then mince them together using the back of a spoon in a small bowl.
  • The cornflour is used to hold the fish paste together after the eggplant has been cooked. Just rub a bit of the cornflour on both sides of the incision made in the middle of the eggplant piece.
  • If you don't have yellow block sugar, then just substitute with white sugar - about 1 teaspoon.

03 February 2009

Chicken Mushroom & Dried Scallop Rice

This is another one of my grandma's dishes, which I have adapted into one of my a so-called 'one pot' meals.

Its pretty much just throwing everything together to be cooked in the rice pot. So instead of plain old steam rice served with separate dishes. The dish is incorporated into the steam rice. The result is a bit like chinese fried rice, except the method calls for steaming with some fresh rice. Therefore, it is also a lot less oily than fried rice. Also Chinese fried rice is best made with leftover rice that has been sitting in the fridge overnight.

Chicken Mushroom & Dried Scallop Rice
Adapted from a Recipe originating from my grandma
  • 3 cups of white rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 dried scallops (soaked overnight - water reserved)
  • 8 dried shiitake mushrooms (soaked overnight - chopped - water reserved)
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • thumbsized piece ginger (smashed)
  • 300g chicken mince
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chinese rice wine


  1. Wash the rice until the water runs clear.
  2. Using a fork, break up the dried scallops. Add scallops and the reserved water into the rice. If needed, fill the rice cooker with water to the required amount to cook 3 cups of rice.
  3. Add in the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir the rice around, so that there is an even spread of scallops around the rice. Start the rice cooker. When the rice is nearly ready...
  4. Heat the oil in a pan and add in the ginger. Once you start to smell the ginger, add in chopped mushrooms and the chicken mince.
  5. Add in the seasonings - salt, soy sauce, sugar, wine and oyster sauce.
  6. Pour in about 3 tablespoons of the reserved mushroom water. Enough so that the chicken doesn't dry out too much as it cooks.
  7. Stirfry the contents around until the chicken mince has just cooked. Discard the ginger piece.
  8. Open the rice cooker and pour in the contents of the pan and mix everything into the rice.
  9. Close the lid of the rice cooker and let the contents sit for at least 30 mins on the 'keep warm' setting.


  • 3 cups of rice is enough for 3 very hungry people or about 5 'normal eating' people
  • Taste the rice. If its a bit too bland, drizzle a bit of light soy sauce over the rice and mix well before serving.
  • The ginger is optional, and is used to fragrant the oil and the other ingredients during the stir frying process.

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