Noodles with Prawns and Leeks – A Chinese New Year special

It’s time for Chinese New Year, the biggest festival here in Singapore. I’m sure you are aware of the Chinese Zodiac. It is called Sheng Xiao and is based on a twelve year cycle, representing an animal sign each year. Last year was the ‘Year of the Dragon’ which represents authority, dignity, honor, success, luck and capacity. This year it’s the ‘Year of the Horse’ which is a sign and symbol of traveling, success, freedom, passion and leadership. I also read that since horse is a social animal and red is connected to love, horse is treated as a Romantic Star in Chinese Zodiac. So what does your zodiac say about this year? 🙂

Every year during Chinese New Year in Singapore, ‘Niu Che Shui (牛车水)’ popularly known as Chinatown, is decorated beautifully with lanterns and symbol of the Chinese Zodiac of that year and it is something you wouldn’t want to miss!! Although I had seen the decorations on news and websites, I knew I had to visit it myself like every year! So I went yesterday evening and got quite a few shots! It was very crowded and I loved it that way…isn’t that how it’s supposed to be during a festival? The whole place seemed so lively and full of joy 🙂

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Food was in abundance everywhere, every stall had lots to offer starting from Chicken Satay, Hokkien Mee (fried noodles), Steamed Buns (Xiao Long Bao), Satay Bee Hoon (a fusion dish between Chinese and Malay) and on and on…. the list is endless! I had the satay and was craving for more and more!! But I couldn’t have too much since dinner was already waiting for me at home 🙂

The Chinese New Year special recipe for today is Prawn noodles. I cooked the noodles with leeks, carrots and a few other common ingredients used in Chinese cooking. The sauce I prepared for this dish was kind of the usual brown sauce used in Chinese cooking , but I added some chili sauce to add in to the color and spice up the dish.  This was the first time I was cooking a dish with leeks; the soft buttery texture of the prawn and the mild onion flavor of the leeks absorbed in the sauce, turned out to be incredible! 🙂

Xin Nian Kuai Le , 新年快乐 (Happy New Year) to you and your family 🙂

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Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Cooking Time: Around 15 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Cooking oil – 2 tablespoons

Egg noodles – 4 blocks, soaked in water for 10 to 15 minutes

Prawns – 390 g, medium sized, cleaned, head removed and de-veined

Leeks – 5, leaves removed, stem chopped into 1 inch long size

Carrots – 2, sliced into thin round discs

Ginger – 1 teaspoon, grated

Garlic – 3 cloves, chopped

Prawn stock/vegetable stock – 1 cup

Chili oil – a few drops (optional)

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For the sauce:

Ginger – 1 teaspoon, grated

Dark Soy Sauce – 2 tablespoons

Rice Wine – 1 tablespoon

Cornstarch/cornflour – 1 tablespoon

Prawn stock/vegetable stock – 1/4 cup

Chili sauce – 2 tablespoons

Sesame oil – 2 teaspoons

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Mix all the above ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and set aside.

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Step 1: For preparing the noodles, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in an U-shaped vessel. Add the garlic and fry for 15 seconds. Add the stock, followed by the noodles (discard the water in which the noodles were soaked). Let it simmer for around 2 to 3 minutes until the noodles have absorbed most of the stock, but not all. Transfer to a serving dish. Set aside.

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Step 2: Heat the remaining oil in a wok. Add the grated ginger and cook for 10 seconds. Follow by adding the carrots and the leeks. Cook for around 2 to 3 minutes or so until the carrots and leeks are soft.

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Step 3: Add the sauce along with the prawns. Toss well for around a minute so that the prawns are well coated with the sauce and soaked with the seasonings. Turn off the stove and quickly pour the whole mixture over the noodles.

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Step 4: Pour a few drops of chili oil over the prawn and leek mixture as per your preference. Serve hot as a stand alone dish or with soup and other Chinese dishes.

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Kai Lan with Garlic and Sauces

Recently, few of my friends told me that I don’t have any vegetarian recipes on my blog. And it’s true 🙂 I haven’t posted any vegetarian recipes yet on my blog. I did suggest vegetarian alternatives for few of the recipes I’ve posted… not sure if that’s counted as vegetarian 😉

My first choice of vegetable was Kai Lan (Chinese broccoli) since it is easy to cook. It is widely used in Chinese and other South East Asian cuisines. I mixed some cauliflower with it and cooked it the usual way with garlic and sauces. Addition of cauliflower gave a nice combination of green and white color to the dish making it colorful and attractive.

I had fun cooking this one… hope you enjoy it too 🙂

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Preparation Time: 25 to 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 to 15 minutes

Ingredients:

Cooking Oil – 2 tablespoons

Kai Lan – 300 g, the leaves separated from the stems

Cauliflower – 320 g, cut into small pieces

Ginger – 1.5 teaspoon, grated

Garlic – 3 to 4 cloves, chopped finely

Cornstarch/Cornflour – 2 to 3 teaspoons mixed with 3 tablespoons of water

Salt – to taste (as required)

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For the sauce mixture:

Dark Soy Sauce – 1 tablespoon

Oyster Sauce (optional) – 1 tablespoon

Rice wine – 2 teaspoons

Sesame oil – 1 teaspoon

Cornstarch/Cornflour – 1 teaspoon

Sugar – 1 teaspoon

Water – 3 tablespoons

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Mix all the ingredients of the sauce mixture together in a bowl and keep aside.

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Step 1: Heat one tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add ginger and garlic and fry for around 30 seconds.

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Step 2: Add the cauliflower and Kai Lan stems and add rest of the oil. Cook for around 2 to 3 minutes.

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Step 3: Add the Kai Lan followed by the sauce mixture. Add the cornstarch/cornflour mixture and cook until the Kai Lan and the cauliflowers are soft but not mushy. Add salt as required.

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Step 4: Serve hot with rice or noodles.

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A few tips:

  • You can add vegetables like carrots and corn to the Kai Lan instead of cauliflower.
  • You can also add a teaspoon of chili sauce to the sauce mixture if you want to give it a spicy touch.

Chicken in Black Bean Sauce

In my last recipe I had mentioned that I’ve tried my hand in quite a bit of Chinese recipes lately. So after the Prawns with Sweet and Sour Chili sauce turned out well, I wanted to try another Chinese recipe. And the next one on my list was Chicken in Black Bean Sauce. I wouldn’t say I’ve tried this dish at restaurants quite often, but it’s a good try once in a while. This dish is not spicy and has a unique flavor.

Talking about black beans, it wasn’t a familiar ingredient to me a few years ago. Red kidney beans was the one I was more familiar with. It’s interesting to note that there are around 40,000 bean varieties in the world, but only a fraction are fit for human consumption. Wow…40,000! That’s quite a lot!

I used the Black Bean sauce (available at supermarkets) for this recipe but I also added some black beans into it in order to add some nice color contrast to the dish and also to make the recipe obvious. The dish has a light yellowish brown color with some green and black in it. The color of the dish is always something which attracts my attention and this one is definitely appealing!

Do you also think the color of the dish makes a difference in your thought bubbles for food? Would love to hear your comments on it  🙂

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Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

Chicken – 800 g, sliced into long pieces

Vegetable oil – 2 tablespoons

Black Bean – Around half cup

Green Onion – A few stems cut into 1 cm long piece (around half a small bowl)

Chicken Stock – 1 cube, mixed with 1/4th cup hot water. Alternatively, you can also use

Garlic – 4 to 5 cloves, chopped

Ginger – Around 1 tablespoon, grated

Black Bean Sauce –  3 to 4 tablespoons

Shallots – 5 to 5, diced into cubes

Cornstarch or Cornflour – 2 tablespoons, mixed with 1/4th cup of water

Pepper – Ground, 1 to 2 teaspoons

Sugar – 2 teaspoons

Salt – to taste

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Step 1: Add the grated ginger and sugar to the chicken and mix well. Keep aside.

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Step 2: Boil the black beans for few minutes until they are soft but not mushy.  Keep aside.

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Step 3: Heat oil in a U shaped pan or wok. Add the garlic and onion and fry for 1 to 2 minutes.

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Step 4: Mix the cornstarch/cornflour mixture and black bean sauce together and add them along with the black beans.

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Step 5: Add the chicken and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes and mix until you have the desired consistency. Add the chicken stock.

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Step 6: Add the green onion, toss well for around 30 seconds. Taste for salt. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve hot with rice or noodles.

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Shrimps with Sweet and Sour Chili Sauce

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Prawns/shrimps are one of my favorites! Back in my hometown, it’s quite expensive, so it was a delicacy back then for us. But in Singapore, it can be part of one’s everyday meal. It’s found in every wet market and super market. Recently I’ve been cooking Chinese quite a bit, in fact I posted the Chicken noodles recipe as well few weeks back. So the next one I wanted to try with shrimps.

I was quite satisfied after cooking this recipe…. the dish turned out to have a great color and can be cooked in minutes! I was so happy that the next day I tried another Chinese recipe ‘Chicken in black bean sauce’ (which I’ll post next)!

If you have guests coming home, I feel this is the perfect recipe (provided your guest(s) are not allergic to shrimps) as it just cannot go wrong and has a lovely color. Do try it and I’m sure your guests will love it! Let me know if you’ve added any special touch to the recipe, I would love to try them out too 🙂

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Serves: 2 to 3

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

Shrimps – 450 g, peeled and deveined

Cooking oil – 2 tablespoons

Garlic – 5 to 6 cloves, chopped

Green onion (Scallion) – 5 to 6 small, cut into 1 inch size

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For the sauce:

Bottled chilli sauce – 2 tablespoons

Bottled tomato sauce – 1 to 2 tablespoons

Bottled lemon chilli sauce – 1 tablespoon

Sugar – 1/2 to 1 teaspoon

Sesame Oil – 1 tablespoon

Cornflour or Cornstarch – 1 to 1.5 tablespoons mixed with around 1/2 cup of water

Salt – to taste

Mix all the above to make the sauce mixture.

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For the marinade:

Rice wine or Chinese cooking wine – 1.5 to 2 tablespoons

Sesame oil – 1 tablespoon

Minced ginger – 2 teaspoons

Sugar – 1 teaspoon

Step 1: Mix all the marinade ingredients together to make the marinade mixture. Mix with the shrimps and marinade mixture and keep aside for around 10-15 minutes.

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Step 3: Heat oil in a wok or U shaped pan. Add garlic and the shrimps and fry for 1 to maximum 3 minutes until the shrimps develop a slight pinkish orange color.

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Step 4: Add the sauce mixture and cook until you get the desired thickness. Add salt for taste (as required).

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Step 5: Add the green onion. Stir (maximum for a minute) and transfer to a plate immediately. Serve hot with rice or noodles.

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A few tips:

  • If you don’t like it too spicy, use less amount of the chili sauce and more of the tomato sauce.
  • Add some vinegar if you like, before transferring from the wok/pan to the serving dish, as per your taste.

Hot and Sour Soup…an all time favorite!

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Chinese food, especially of the Sichuan province is something I always relish! The simple reason being of the hot and spicy flavor which appeals to my palate. I visited China sometime back and co-incidentally I happened to visit the Sichuan province. The food was just amazing, starting from the soup, to the noodles, stir-fried recipes. Specially, when I’m traveling, I make it a point to visit the small local restaurants because that’s where you get the most authentic flavors.

Although the food was great, I did find a lot of difficulty trying to communicate with people there. I don’t know the language, but I had learnt some words and phrases from my colleague and was quite confident about it. However, when I spoke those to the people at the hotel, it seemed like Greek and Latin to them. It’s then I realized even though you know the words, the tone and pronunciation plays a big role when you speak. Every time I ordered, I had to call and point out the food which I wanted to have and do some actions to explain some customization required. I probably looked funny doing that, but I definitely didn’t mind as the effort made was worth it!

When I wanted to try Chinese food in my kitchen, hot and sour soup was the first thing which came to my mind. It’s an all time favorite… I used to have it always as a kid when visiting a Chinese restaurant. It’s a very simple recipe, using all the basic ingredients, except you’ll need some sauces…. it’s a Chinese recipe, so it’s the magic of sauces after all! You can refrigerate the sauces for other Chinese recipes of your choice… I’ll be coming up with a few more soon.

The soup is semi thick and could be a meal by itself. But I was in the mood yesterday. Hence, prepared some Chicken noodles as well.. which is the next recipe on my list.

So here it goes…enjoy!

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Serves: 4

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

Sesame Oil – 1 teaspoon

Chicken stock – 4 cups (you can use stock cubes as well)

Chicken – 200 gm, cut into thin pieces

Chinese mushrooms – 100 gm (1 small packet)

Green Onions (Scallions) – 3, chopped

Eggs – 2, beaten

Tomato – 1 big, diced

Peas – fresh or frozen, 1 small bowl

Ginger – 1/2 tablespoon, grated

Sugar – 1 teaspoon

Cornflour or Cornstarch – 2 tablespoons, dissolved in 1/4th cup of water

Soy sauce – 2 tablespoons

White Vinegar – 2 tablespoons

Pepper – 1/2 teaspoon, ground

Chilli Oil – 2 teaspoon, to serve (optional)

Salt – to taste

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Step 1: Place the stock cubes with 4 cups of water in a pot and bring to boil. Add salt, sugar, ginger, peas, tomato, mushrooms and chicken and boil for around 4-5 minutes.

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Step 2: Add the sesame oil, pepper, soy sauce. Mix well. Slowly add the beaten egg into the soup. Do not stir for a min. Add in the cornflour/cornstarch mixture slowly, stirring gently. Heat for 1 more minute and add the green onions.

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Step 3: Add a few more drops of vinegar, as desired and chilli oil. Serve hot.

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Tips to adapt:

  • If you don’t have sesame oil, you can use normal oil too.
  • If a more thicker version is desired, you can add more vegetables like tofu, beans etc.
  • Add some pickled chillies to the soup, if you like it very spicy.
  • For a vegetarian option of this dish, replace chicken stock with vegetable stock and chicken with tofu or other vegetables, as desired.