Sunday, January 31, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging - Wolfberries with NaiBai

Rachel from The Crispy Cook is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging. The rules for taking part can be found here.

Wolfberries also known as 枸杞 had been used in China for centuries. It is also known as the Chinese wolfberries or Chinese Boxthorn.  Wolfberries claimed medicinal properties includes liver protection, improving the eyesight and increase longevity. They are also known to strengthen weak legs.

Wolfberries had been used in teas, soups, tonic brews, stew, wine and also eaten like raisins. In Singapore, the dried wolfberries are most common and can be easily purchased at Chinese medicinal stores.  It is also relatively cheap.

The dish here uses dried wolfberries stir-fried with 乃白 (nai bai), a kind of seasonal vegetable commonly available in this region.  Cheap and nutritious, this dish can be found on the reunion dinners during the Chinese Lunar New Year.

You will need: (serves 2 to 4)

Handful of dried wolfberries
500g nai bai

Soak wolfberries in warm water for half hour. Drain and set aside.
Brown chopped garlic.
Add the vegetables and stir-fry.
Just before serving, add in  the wolfberries.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging - Yusheng (Raw Fish Salad)

This week's Weekend Herb Blogging#217 will be hosted by Anna of  Anna's Cool Finds. The rules for taking part can be found here.

One of my favourite root vegetable is the carrot! Carrots are an excellent source of anti-oxidants. I had been told since young that eating carrots promote good vision. (which subsequently led to me inducing that rabbits have great eyesight since they eat carrots) and as I grow older, this story was proven scientifically right! The high level of beta-carotene found in carrots helps protect against the development of senile cataracts.

Carrots are efficient in keeping water content and they tend to keep longer than other vegetables. The attached green tops should be cut off before storage to prevent the leaves from drawing water from the root which will cause the carrot to wilt. 

A not-commonly known property of the radish family is that the root contain a good level of vitamin C. As a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, radish has the cancer-protection traits of its cousins (brocolli, cabbage, brussel sprouts...) Cooking destroys radish root's vitamin C content and therefore it is best eaten raw.

As the Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year is approaching, I share with you my favourite festive dish. It is claimed that this dish is crafted by the early immigrants of Singapore and has since found its way around the Chinese community around the globe.

Yusheng (Raw Fish Salad) is a mixture of shredded vegetable roots with pickled condiments. It is believed that by tossing the yusheng, it will bring good fortune and prosperity to the family.

Yusheng (Raw Fish Salad)

1 shredded radish (large)
3 shredded carrots
1 shredded cucumber (to add the coolness and freshness to the dish)

(bought from store)
pickled melon strip
pickled brown melon strip
pickled cucumber
pickled leek strip
pickled yellow melon strip
white sour ginger strip
sweeten lime strip
red sweeten ginger strip

white pepper powder
cinnamon powder
plum sauce
crispy biscuit bits
powdered peanuts
toasted white sesame seeds

The pickled condiments are arranged around the shredded roots, forming a colourful presentation to the dish. The plum sauce is then poured over the shredded roots. White pepper and cinnamon powder is sprinkled over the vegetables and covered by the peanut powder and sesame seeds. The dish is completed by sprinkling of the biscuit bits.

(Raw fish sliced thinly - with lime squeezed over was not added as this variant is for vegetarians.)

Toss to good fortune and prosperity!!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging - Arrowroot Chips with Chinese Sausage

The first round of WHB for 2010 is here! This week's Weekend Herb Blogging#215 will be hosted by Haalo of Cook(almost)AnythingAtLeastOnce. The rules for taking part can be found here.

Mr Pancakes went marketing with his mum, straight after the gastronomical honeymoon trip with Mrs Pancakes. It is always fun to visit the wet markets, you'll never know what you see there.

While Mama was picking out the vegetables, Mr Pancakes saw this intriguing box of roots. Something he had never seen before. They look like water chestnuts, but white.

Upon inquiring the stall owners, this is the famed arrowroot! Mr Pancakes always thought it is a very western country thing. But heyho! One of the dialect groups of China (Teochews)! According to the stall owner, arrowroot chips are eaten during the Lunar New Year and is considered good luck and prosperous to the Teochews and that's why it is a festive dish!

Arrowroot got its name from its usage to treat poison arrow wounds and other poisonous insect bits like the scorpions. Arrowroot is easily digested and has a widely bland taste. It is sometimes used as a diet for those with a bad appetite as the arrowroot starch does not cause nauseousness. Although it is more easily digestible, it contains mainly starch and almost no protein and is not the most nutritious rhizomes available. Arrowroot powder is commonly used in puddings, jellies, cakes and hot sauces. 

As the Lunar New Year approaches, the arrowroot will be the staple for more people of this region as we seek into prosperity for the coming Tiger Year.

Arrowroot Chips with Chinese Sausage

You will need: (serves 2 to 4)

6 bulbs of arrowroots, skinned and sliced thickly
1 Chinese Sausage (lak cheong), sliced
Chopped garlic
Cooking oil (Grapeseed oil is great for it's neutral taste)

1. Lightly fry the arrowroot chips in hot oil till almost golden brown. Set aside.

2. Saute chopped garlic and add in sliced chinese sausage. Stir-fry on high heat.

3. Add the fried arrowroot chips. Turn to low heat and cover for 3-5mins. Allow the flavours of the sausage to be infused into the chips.

4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Serve warm and 'huat' (prosperous) to the New Year!
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