Singapore style Yong Tau Fu

Niong dou fu or yong tau fu is universally recognized as a traditional Hakka dish.  In Singapore yong tau fu food stalls are a favorite in food courts and hawkers market, where it is typically served buffet style.

At the stalls, stuffed tofu is displayed with serving size portions of vegetables, noodles and a variety of  stuffed peppers, bitter melon, egg plant, chilies and lady fingers.

To order, you fill up bowls with your selection,  order it cooked with broth or laksa  and specify whether you  want it ‘wet’ or ‘dry’.  ‘Wet’ means you prefer everything mixed in with the soup, ‘dry’ means you’d like your noodles dry with the soup served separately.  As the cook prepares your order, you prepare your tray with chop sticks, soup spoon and dipping sauces.  All food stalls are equipped with gallon containers of chili paste and vinegary chili sauce. Yong tau fu stalls come with  additional tubs filled with a spicy sweet, hoisin-like bean paste.

Although all yong tau fu is hand-made, not all stalls make them in house.  Many are mass produced and distributed by wholesalers across the island.  For truly good yong tau fu, you have to search for it. After my first couple tries, I  was not overly impressed with food court yong tau fu. Although nicely presented, they suffered from a uniformity of  taste and texture.  Besides, having grown up with an entirely different style of cooking stuffed to fu, I found the soup based version bland and unexciting.  Therefore it was with slight optimism that I ventured forth with my friend Lisa to Bai Nian Yong Tau Fu, identified as  one of Singapore’s best.

Bai Nian Yong Tau Fu

Located in Albert Centre’s food center Bai Nian Yong Tau Fu was an unassuming stall. Operated by a couple who made everything themselves, they offered a limited selection of dishes and no buffet of fixings. Your choice was limited to the type of noodles, bee hoon (rice vermicelli), yellow (egg) noodles, kway teow (flat wide rice noodles) or rice.

The menu board listed eight different dishes, the most prominent being Yuan Yuan Yong Tau Fu  and plain Yong Tau Fu with soup. The difference was not immediately obvious but careful inspection showed that Yuan Yuan contained more stuffed vegetables in addition to the stuffed tau fu pieces.   For variety we ordered both (dry), along with a satay version for variety.

SAMSUNG CSC
Yong Tau Fu Soup with dry noodles

It was delicious! Tender and chewy, the filling was light with the taste of fresh fish unmarred by doughy fillers.  The satay version was tasty too, but ultimately I had to agree with Lisa that the yong tau fu’s delicate flavor was overwhelmed by the heavy sauce.  I am now a convert to Singapore style yong tau fu and will be heading back to Albert’s Food Center for my next fix.

How is Singaporean yong tau fu different from the Hakka  niong dou fu I know?  To answer that we have to look at how it is made.

One of the best descriptions of Singaporean yong tau fu is described in The Food Canon’s three part article on Auntie Ruby’s Hakka Yong Tau Foo. The author, Terry Wong does a wonderful tribute to his late mother’s cooking and captures not only the recipe but the sense of camaraderie that goes with cooking yong tau fu.

Making yong tau fu is a long fiddly process.  It begins with scraping the flesh of fresh mackerel and blending it into a smooth paste with minced pork, salt fish and seasonings. The paste is then stuffed into a variety of vegetables and different types of bean curd. Most people are familiar with stuffing blocks of  tau fu cut into squares or triangles. The Food Canon adds another variation by using bean curd sheets (foo chook) and inverted tau fu puffs (fried tau fu poks).  Many hands make light of this type of work and I love his idea of having yong tau fu parties to prepare, eat and enjoy the dish.

So that’s how Singaporeans make authentic Hakka yong tau fu.   Except … is it authentic? After all, the Hakka were originally from land locked Meizhou and many recipes call for fillings made totally with pork.

Linda Anusasananan author of The Hakka Cookbook, says that one way to distinguish Hakka and Cantonese yong tau fu, is the presence of pork versus fish.  Cantonese style is made wholly with fish.  Hakka style is made with pork.

Remember though that the Hakkas were itinerant people constantly migrating, adapting and adopting local customs.  As they migrated away from inland Meizhou and closer to the coast, they surely adopted the Cantonese way of cooking and incorporated fresh seafood into their dishes.

My family line must have branched off before the descent into the coastal lands.  We did not use fish in our stuffed tau fu. Instead we used … but that’s another story 🙂

Stay tuned for the next installment of  the Hakka Heritage Food trail.

Singapore.  October 2016

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Anadama Bread

Anadama Bread
Anadama Bread

Without context this is an unusual bread name to remember.   It is a regional US specialty with a tender soft crumb and subtle molasses flavor.  The context behind the name?  It’s a story of course …

Once upon time, a long time ago when men were Men and Women worked in the Kitchen, John and Ana were a newly married couple in New England.   Ana was a lovely woman, beautiful and smart.  She was gifted in many things but had absolutely no talent in the kitchen. In today’s world she’d probably be a fast tracker in corporate HQ or an apprentice to a $10B (or not) bigoted CEO.  Anyways, Ana could cook only one thing, cornmeal mush. She cooked it every day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  After eating mush for 15 days straight, John decided he could do better. He threw together Ana’s cornmeal mush with some yeast and flour, kneaded it himself, all the while muttering “Ana, damn her!”

This is a good dough to make with a KitchenAid mixer.   It is fairly wet initially but with 4 minutes of mixing will pull together around the dough hook and away from the mixing bowl walls.   Use a rubber spatula to scrape dough on to a lightly floured surface.  The outside of the dough will be dryer than the inside, but after a couple minutes of kneading will have a smooth tackiness throughout.

I like to add raisins and/or walnuts, to add a bit of sweetness and texture to the bread. If using, add to the dough when rolling into the loaf’s form, just before the second rise.

Recipe derived from Better Homes and Gardens’ New Baking Book.

Anadama Bread

1 cup    cornmeal
2 cup    water
½ cup   molasses
1/3 cup butter
2           eggs
2 tsp     salt
4 ½ to 5 cups flour (all purpose is fine)
4 ½ tsp active dry yeast (2 packages)
¾ cup   raisins or walnuts (optional)

2 8x4x2 loaf pans, greased and floured

Mix cornmeal and water in large bowl.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir cornmeal and water and microwave again until you have a cornmeal mush.   Cube butter and mix in to cornmeal mixture until melted.  Add molasses and sugar.  Cool liquid mixture until it is just warm (115 to 120 F).

Stir eggs into the cornmeal mixture and add to flour & yeast.  Beat with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds and then on high speed for 3 minutes.

Turn dough on to lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic.  Place in lightly oiled bowl and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled.

After an hour, remove the dough and cut into 2.   Press out into rectangle and add raisins & walnuts, if using. Tightly roll into a loaf shape  and place into loaf pans to raise again for 1 hour, or until nearly doubled.

Bake in preheated 375 oven for 20 minutes.  Remove & cover with foil to prevent burning.   Bake for another 20 minutes.

Remove from oven. Rest for 5 minutes before removing from pans to cool on a wire rack.

Ham Choy is Kiam Chye is Hum Choy (咸菜)

In Singapore one of my favorite activities is wandering around local markets. I’ll have little conversations with the vendors, even though I’m constrained by language. I don’t speak three of the four official languages and some Singaporeans have difficulty understanding my accent.

It is a bit of a treasure hunt. There’s always the ordinary (stuff I know), the strange (stuff I don’t know) and the mysterious (stuff which I recognize but don’t know for sure).

On one trip I spied a large plastic lined bin filled with pickled leafy vegetables. It looked just like my mother’s ham choy. My mum used to make it at home and we’d always have a supply in the fridge, ready for our favorite week day supper dish, Pork & Ham Choy.

The stall vendor saw me looking at the bin.

“What is this called?” I asked in slow, carefully enunciated English.

“Ham choy,” she said in slow, carefully enunciated Hokkien.

Actually, what she said was ‘kiam chye’ which sounds like ‘ham choy’ in Hakka and ‘hum choy’ in Cantonese.

Ham Choy is made by salting the leafy stems of Chinese mustard greens (gai choy) and then pickling them in a sweet and sour brine. It is the Chinese equivalent to German sauerkraut. Highly unreliable historical sources say that the Great Wall was built by laborers rationed on rice and ham choy. Highly imaginative kids like my younger self, used to fantasize about patrolling the wall, guarding against invading Mongols and eating bowls of steaming rice topped with luscious chunks of Pork & Ham Choy.

Truth be told, those dishes probably didn’t taste like my home style favorite. Certainly, in Singapore kiam chye is used differently, in a variety of Hokkien and Teochew dishes. The most famous dishes being Kiam Chye Ark soup and Kiam Chai Boey. Kiam Chye Ark soup plays off the savory tang of kiam chye against the fatty richness of duck. Kiam Chai Boey is a stew made with roast meats, fresh and pickled mustard greens. It is the day-after dish made with leftovers from family reunion dinners at Chinese New Year.

Reaching back into my memory, I vaguely recall a Chinese Jamaican recipe using roast pork (siu yuk) mixed in with Pork and Ham Choy. I remember thinking that it was an awful waste of siu yuk‘s crispy crackling skin. Maybe though, it was a variation of Kiam Chai Boey. After all, the Hoklo, Hakka and Cantonese all emigrated from the Fujian and Guandong provinces; it seems inevitable that cooking styles and ingredients crossed ethnic lines.

The recipe for  kiam chye is relatively easy to find. Uncle Phil, a Singaporean in Australia gives wonderfully clear instructions in How to make Kiam Chye. He hangs the fresh vegetable in the sun to wilt and dry before curing them in a brine made of rice water and salt.

Initially, I was puzzled at the use of water left over from washing rice. It was strange and (wait for it …) unlike what my mother did. She used a mixture of vinegar and sugar to make ham choy.

On reflection though, it’s not so strange. Rice water left at room temperature will ferment into vinegar and fermentation is key to making this kind of cold pressed pickle. In all likelihood, this was the only option for workers on the Great Wall so many years ago. My mother’s way was just a  modern day convenience to speed up the process.

Pork & Ham Choy
Pork & Ham Choy

Follow this link for my mother’s recipe on making Ham Choy and a glimpse at making my home style Hakka favorite, Pork & Ham Choy.

 

Coconut Nut Bars

20160911_184040-2It’s back to school time and one of the things I remember is lunch bags.   Actually, I remember not having to prepare lunch bags. That was done by Hubby for Kid1 and Kid2.  Aside from inventive wraps and chopped veggie things, he prepared some delicious snack bars.

I recently discovered his secret – a dog-eared recipe book called “Brown Bag Success” by Sandra K. Nissenberg and Barbara N. Pearl.  I skipped past the pages on Healthy Lunches and Sandwich Staples and zoned in on “Snacks, Treats and Finishing Touches.”  There I found what I’d been looking for. The chewy, nutty, butterscotch flavored Coconut Nut Bars.

It was deceptively easy to make. I whipped up a batch in less than ten minutes, baked it for 20 and waited for it to cool.   Kid2 who is now twelve years older and two feet taller, hovered around the kitchen.  Unwisely, I left the bars unguarded.  When I returned to store them away, I found the supply woefully diminished.

Challenged, Kid2’s only response was “Huh? Humph…(swallow)..nuhme!”

Coconut Nut Bars

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (add 1 cup if you’re nut crazy like me)

Grease and flour a 8×8 pan
Preheat oven to 350

Measure flour and baking powder in a bowl
Melt butter in microwave.Stir in brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla.
Mix in to flour mixture. Add coconut and nuts. Batter will be stiff.
Spread into pan.  If it doesn’t look it has enough nuts, shove some more into the batter.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.
Cool for 15 before removing from pan. Use a long serrated knife to slice into bars.

Makes 12 bars

He says mei cai, she says mui choy

Mei Cai Pork
Mei Cai Pork

Do a search for ‘Hakka dishes’ and you will inevitably find Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard (Mei Cai Kou Rou/梅菜扣肉). Cited as an traditional dish, you’ll see images of caramelized slices of pork arranged over a bed of stewed vegetables.

There are many recipes for Mei Cai Kou Rou. It is long and complicated cooking, beginning with a slab of fresh bacon and a package of dried and salted mustard greens, mei cai. The pork is fried, sliced, braised and steamed for hours then turned over for final presentation. The unctuous looking meat is eaten with  simmered mustard bits, accompanied by lots of steamed white rice.

It looks delicious but unlike anything I’ve ever eaten before. The cooking technique is similar to something my mother used to make but the flavor components are different. I also had no idea what mei cai tasted like. This summer I had a chance to change that.

In an unlikely San Francisco neighborhood, on a deserted street close to the Pacific coast way, is the Hakka Restaurant. That’s its name by the way, not its description. In typical Chinese practicality, they dispensed with a fancy name and tag line – less letters, cheaper signage! Besides there aren’t that many restaurants specializing in Hakka food. This place does. On the walls and in the vinyl coated menu were pictures of all the traditional dishes – Mei Cai Pork, salt baked chicken and a less traditional but just as intriguing Fried Pumpkin with Salted Egg batter. Of course I ordered them all.

The pumpkin was unusual, I thought it tasty but my daughter described it as Cheeto flavored fries. The salt baked chicken had potential and the Mei Cai Pork was eye opening. Soft and rich, it was lightly flavored with star anise, five spices and soy sauce. The preserved mustard taste was mellow with the dusky fragrance of black tea. In the dish I recognized nuances of two of my mother’s favorites: Pork and Ham Choy and Pork & Yam. Similar but not quite the same.

Mei Cai, Mui Choy
Mei Cai – Mui Choy

I mentioned this dish to my friend Lilian (of www.hakkachinesefood.com ) who is Hakka born from Calcutta. She said the dish sounded like her mom’s except that she calls it mui choy not mei cai. She invited me to watch her cook and I happily agreed.

Lilian’s mom, Mrs Ling made a slightly different version of Mei Cai Kou Rou. It had the same flavor ingredients – preserved mustard, star anise, garlic, dark and light soy – but was lighter in fat by using lean pork ribs instead of fatty pork belly.  It was also simpler to prepare, using a simple braising method. She cooked it just like my mom’s Pork & Ham Choy.

Later that evening as I reheated Mrs Ling dish for dinner, I wondered how it would taste with the two types of preserved mustard – dried mei cai and pickled ham choy. I tried it and was delighted with the result. The herby mei cai was brightened by the sweet and sour piquancy of ham choy. The dish that had been yumm before was twice as yummy now.

Surprisingly (or maybe not so)  I subsequently found a recipe for Hakka Mei Cai Kou Rou  made with mei cai and ham choy but prepared like the restaurant version.  Singaporean blogger Joycezzz describes it in her Look-See-Eat blog spot.

It’s funny how the trail of flavors from San Francisco, Calcutta, Singapore and Toronto came together in this one dish. Each version unique but sharing common themes of taste, technique and adaptation. All elements traditional in nature but modified according to home, health and inspiration. All intrinsically and authentically Hakka.

Toronto, Canada. September 2016

 

Interested in cooking? Follow this link to Mrs Ling’s Mui Choy Pork recipe.

Bagels – Toronto Style

Homemade Bagels

When in Toronto there’s no reason to make bagels. There’s an excellent bakery close by and I can buy them fresh and hot from the oven.  Raisin, whole wheat and sesame are my favorites.

When I’m not in Toronto it’s not so easy.  In Singapore bagels are an imported luxury and only available in the freezer section of a specialty supermarket. Given my impending return to the island, I decided to try making it at home.

Montreal Bagels
Montreal Bagels

If you’re Canadian, there are two types of bagels – Toronto and Montreal style.  Toronto style is like New York bagels – big, fat and chewy. Montreal style is smaller, paler and thinner – rather like large sesame crusted pretzels.

Montreal bagels are OK but I always find them a bit flat tasting. They’re only good with massive amounts of cream cheese … which I suppose is the point.  I guessed that the difference was due to less salt. I was right! Montreal bagel recipes have no salt and more sugar.

For my home exercise I tried a couple different recipes. This version is my favorite.  It is adapted from the SophisticatedGourmet.com’s NY Bagel Recipe   It is different in that I’ve added more sugar and reduced to the oven temperature from 425 to 350.  The higher temperature resulted in a crispier crust which was almost baguette like. That’s fine but not what I wanted.

Pulling this together with my heavy duty KitchenAid stand mixer was a breeze. The dough hook and powerful engine made short work of kneading the dough.   Pulling this together by hand (as it will be in Singapore) is going to be more of a challenge.  But it will be worth it.

Toronto Style Bagels

The secret of a chewy bagel
The secret of a chewy bagel

2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
½ cup warm water
3 ½ cups flour (all purpose is fine)
2 tbs sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
¾ cup warm water

Proof yeast in ½ cup of warm water mixed with 1 tsp sugar.

Mix flour, sugar and salt.  Add ¾ cup water and yeast mixture. Blend and knead into a smooth dough

Cover in oiled bowl. Leave for 45 minutes to 1 hour to raise until double

Cut dough into 8 pieces. Mold into smooth balls before punching a hole and forming into bagel shape.  Note that the balls should be round and smooth otherwise the cooked bagels will not be well formed.

In a large skillet boil water with 1 tbs sugar. Cook bagels in boiling water for 2 minutes before turning over for another 2 minutes. Set aside to drain on a wire rack.

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Bake bagels on a well oiled baking sheet for about 20 minutes.

Makes 8 bagels

Hakka Heritage Food

My friend Linda Anusasananan recently blogged a video post of her making Hakka Stuffed Tofu (niong dou fu) with fellow author Lorraine “The Chinese Lady” Witte.   Her version of niong dou fu looks delicious.  It also looks quite different from what my mom used to make.

Notes on Jamaican and Suriname Chinese
Food notes on Jamaican and Suriname Chinese cooking

Which reminds me of a conversation I had a couple weeks ago with fellow Hakka foodie, Stuart Lee. This was right after the 2016 Hakka Conference in Toronto, during which I’d listened to some fascinating talks about the Hakka diaspora.

Hakkas are known as the ‘gypsy’ or ‘guest’ people of China.  They were originally from Northern China but in a series of migrations (between 317 and 1865)  they drifted south into the Guangdong and Fujian provinces.  After the defeat of the Taiping Rebellion (1851-1864) the Hakka people were persecuted for their part in the war.  This resulted in a wave of emigrations to the Americas, Africa, India and South East Asia. Which explains how my, Stuart’s and Linda’s ancestors ended up in such disparate places as Jamaica, Suriname and California.

Stuart and I talked about traditional Hakka foods and how they’ve evolved in different regions. The distance between Jamaica and Suriname is 2700 kilometers but they share a common Hakka heritage and migration path.  A hundred years ago, families leaving China would travel together before splitting up in the shipping ports of Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname.  It’s not surprising that traditional dishes from these countries are so similar.   What is interesting, is the level of adaptation and adoption in the different regions.

Stuffed bitter melon (niong fu gua) for instance, is a variation on  niong dou fu.  In my childhood home in Jamaica, this was strictly family fare, enjoyed by my Chinese parents, aunties and uncles.  It was always made with pork and steamed-braised in a savory, oyster flavored sauce.   In Suriname, the dish is enjoyed by both Chinese and non-Chinese. The home-style Chinese dish is the same, but locals have adopted it and created their own variations.  Pork is replaced with beef, oyster sauce with Maggi sauce and ketchup.  Flavors are kicked up with fresh tomatoes and spicy hot Madame Jeannette peppers.

In Singapore niong dou fu is known as yong tau fu and is a food court favorite.  Perhaps because so many more miles separate Singapore and Jamaica, their version is vastly different. Yong tau fu refers to not one dish but a variety of stuffed foods cooked in soup.  Deep fat fried or steamed, tofu is typically stuffed with ground pork, while vegetables like bitter melon, okra, aubergine and green peppers are stuffed with fish paste.  The flavor profile is  lighter and milder tasting, counter-balanced with dipping sauces of chili, soy and fermented bean curd.

One similarity between Singaporean and Jamaican stuffed tofu is its shape. Subtly different from the Surinamese and American versions, the Jamaican version is triangular. My mother would always cut the tofu cubes on the diagonal and stuff the filling into a pocket at the side.   In Suriname, Stuart’s mother kept the shape square with a shallow well of filling on top (similar to that shown by Linda in her video.)

All this talk about Hakka heritage and diaspora started me thinking about the evolution of ‘traditional’ foods in different parts of the world.  Not many (English)  books exist about Hakka Chinese cooking.  Linda’s The Hakka Cookbook is the only one I know of. The cuisine is not well known, probably because of the predominance of Cantonese style restaurants, but also I think,  because of its high variability by region.  The Hakka people have such a history of migrations, many ‘traditional’ dishes have morphed and changed according to location.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in Beijing, Taiwan, Singapore etc., when I’ve seen a ‘traditional Hakka dish’ which was not recognizable in taste or description to me.   I’ve always wondered if it’s my heritage or the dish’s, that’s not traditional. Does it even matter?  Maybe not, but it’s a good reason to initiate a little project that I have.

Over the next year, I intend to investigate different Hakka dishes from different countries.  I’ll look for the familiar and the not so familiar.  If I can, I’ll trace the similarities and in so doing, explore a Hakka heritage food trail.

Are you interested in reading? or even contributing to this heritage trail?  What are your favorite Hakka dishes from what region?  Let me know by leaving me a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you!

Toronto, Canada. August 2016

Montreal Brunch

20160806_112614The brunch menu said ‘brouillade d’oeuf, croissant, echalote verte grille and sirop d’erable.

“What’s brouillade?” I asked.

“Scrambled eggs,” hubby replied.

“With maple syrup?”

“Yes!” Emm, the resident Montreal-er said. “We put maple syrup on everything.  Pancakes, beans, meat pies. Eggs, no problem.”

Canada  produces 80% of the world’s pure maple syrup and is the leading supplier of maple syrup and maple products. Quebec produces over 90% of Canada’s supply, with the Federation of Québec Maple Syrup Producers controlling the supply and sale of the product.

In 2012 the news world was rocked by the theft of over 10,000 barrels of syrup from a warehouse near Montreal.   At the time, grade A syrup was trading at $1,800 a barrel (approximately 13 times the price of crude oil) and the loss was valued at nearly $20 million dollars. It focused attention on the cartel-like Federation and dubbed Quebec as the Saudi Arabia of maple syrup.

Referred to as the Great Canadian Maple Syrup heist, the theft was remarkable for the size and scale of its organization.  Moving that many barrels would have required one hundred tractor trailers trucking through the warehouse site, unchallenged and undetected.

Hmm … sounds like a good heist movie. I could imagine Donald Sutherland as the criminal mastermind and Keanu Reeves as the lead driver in a convoy speeding across the Trans Canada highway.

Meanwhile, my brunch plate had arrived.  It looked like  I’d found one of those missing barrels. It had been poured all over my eggs.

Les Québécois have famously sweet tooth(s). They love sugar – tire sur neige (maple syrup taffy on snow), sucre à la crème l’érable (maple fudge), tarte au sucre (sugar pie) and pouding chômeur (poor man’s pudding) which is  a kind of maple syrup cobbler with no pretensions of fruit.

20160806_112620Not being a Quebec native myself, I found the dish a bit too sweet.  I traded it for hubby’s sandwich.

His meal violated another axiom of heart healthy foods. Cholesterol rich with braised beef, melted cheese and sauerkraut, it was fried in butter and accompanied by frites cooked in duck fat.

Delicious, heart clogging Québécois fare.

Montreal, Canada. 2016

 

Easy Egg & Tomato stir-fry

Egg Tomato stirfryI first had this dish in a dingy restaurant in a back alley behind Beijing’s Pearl Market. It is a home-style dish and not one normally found in restaurants.  It was delish.   I’ve since had it in Taiwan and seen recipes widely available on the internet.

I have perfected my own version. It is less soupy and more flavorful.  At least that’s my opinion … and hubby’s too. Although truth be told, he has to say that; it’s in his own self-interest.

This recipe is super easy to adjust from one to ten servings.  Perfect for single cooks, bachelor sons and lazy Moms.

Egg & Tomato Stir-fry

4 eggs
2 tomatoes, medium size & firm
1/8 tsp soup powder dissolved in 2 tbs water
1 tsp fresh ginger, finely shredded
2 spring onions, 1 inch slices
1/2 tsp Sugar (to taste)
1 tbs Oyster sauce (to taste)

Dissolve soup powder with a bit of water. Mix in eggs

Cut tomatoes into large, one inch wedges. They should be large enough to maintain shape after cooking.

Heat wok with a bit of oil. When hot, add eggs and cook. You can scramble if you wish. I prefer to fold into a loose fluffy omelette. Remove from pan and set aside in a serving dish.

Reheat the wok with oil over high heat. Stir fry the ginger & green onions until fragrant. Add tomatoes, sugar and oyster sauce. Add a dash of water to prevent tomatoes from burning and begin cooking, but not so much water as to make it soupy. Cook until the tomatoes are slightly soft.

Pour tomato mixture on the eggs & serve.

Four eggs makes a simple dinner main for 2 with a vegetable side.
Portions can be adjusted plus or minus  2 eggs & 1 tomato per serving.

Bak Chang

The wonderful thing about Singapore is the availability of a diverse range of foods.  The country is very modern but traditional foods and customs from its  Chinese, Malay, Indian and Peranakan heritage abound.  No time is this more apparent than at festival time … and because there are four official religions, it is always festival time.

It is Duanwu now and Chinese rice dumplings are everywhere.  Sometimes made at home,  oftentimes made for sale by specialty shops, the dumplings are handmade, shared and eaten as snacks and ‘light’ meals.

I can’t do justice to describing the range of dumplings.  For that I  share  this excellent article in Soshiok.com’s Bak Chang 101

For my recent experience in making Bak Chang,  here’s  my re-blogged post.

The Sandy Chronicles

20160603_170146 Bak Chang rice dumplings

If we were having coffee … I’d invite you to have the last of my stash of bak chang. I have three types: Nonya, Hokkien and Kee.  My favorite is the Kee which is also called  crystal chang. It’s  delicious with gula melaka and heady with the scent of pandan and bamboo leaves.

What is bak chang?

Bak chang is the Hokkien word for sticky rice dumpling.   It is also called zongzi in Mandarin and joong in Cantonese.  In the US it’s sometimes called Chinese tamale but that’s just wrong – let’s not refer to it as that.  These pyramid shaped, leaf wrapped dumplings show up in Chinese shops and eating houses every year  around June.   It  is a celebration food for the Duanwu festival and Dragon Boat races.

Chinese legend goes that when the beloved scholar Qu Yuan committed suicide by throwing…

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