Chinese New Year Toss Salad aka Yusheng

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Sorry for this long overdue post on a Chinese New Year delicacy. Time flies…the year of the snake blitzed past us with an infant and the year of the horse came galloping in so fast that all I only had time to prepare one Chinese New Year dish and no time for bigger gatherings since it was a really busy time for us.

Yusheng as it sounds in Chinese means raw fish which sounds the same as other Chinese words that mean abundance and progression.

This used to be a delicacy when I was a kid. The dish had to be ordered in advance when people placed reservations in a Chinese restaurant as it takes time for the restaurants to prepare this dish.

As a kid, most Yusheng uses raw Ikan Parang (A Malay word for a fish that is shaped like a special Malay sword), known in English as White Wolf Herring and in Chinese as Xi Tau Yu/ 西刀鱼. It should not to be confused with the western Sword Fish. The raw fish that is fillet from an Ikan Parang takes a lot of effort and good slicing skills as this fish has a lot of long needle like bones and a skilled chef is able to fillet the fish into small and very thin sashimi without the bones.

As Singapore advanced over the years and there were more imports of Atlantic fish like salmon, more people started using salmon for this dish that is very popular during Chinese New Year in Singapore and Malaysia or other neighboring countries.

I am not quite sure about the originality of this dish except hearing older folks say that it might have originated from Malaysia.

Salmon sashimi became a popular alternative to Ikan Parang as it is already a well liked Japanese food in Singapore and many parts of the world.

I used a variety of ingredients including salmon sashimi, diakon, carrots, cucumbers, wakame (to add Jade green colors to the dish), red ginger, crushed peanuts, black and white sesame seeds, Asian-store bought wonton skin snacks that were made in Hawaii and pomelo. For the dressing, I used XO Cognac (which my dad said would kill germs and his favorite brandy), sesame seed oil, a small amount of Lee Kum Kee plum sauce, a pinch of ground white pepper and Japanese rice vinegar. I had forgotten to add a dash of cinnamon powder which I learned from fellow Singaporean friends.

Last but not least and the most important part as the title suggests is tossing this salad high up with family and friends shouting out various prosperity Chinese proverbs. This year since we were too busy to have bigger gatherings and my husband was taking a video of me and my daughter tossing the salad while I taught her to say a few proverbs that meant prosperity while she tossed gently or rather helped me mix them up so we didn’t have a messy table or lost too much of the salad. Typically people toss this salad high to emphasize the well meaning proverbs for the new year.

It was our only dish for Chinese New Year since it was a big salad for ourselves and a couple of our guests weren’t able to make it, so I didn’t want to make anything else. The salad by itself was already a delicious and healthy meal that we couldn’t get enough of.

Live, long and Prosper and have a great year of the horse!

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Maple Syrup Bone-In Ham

Finally had a free afternoon to cook something again. Baking a bone in ham is easy peasy compare to preparing a stir-fry. It just takes time.

I gave the ham a quick rinse under cold running water, lined the Pyrex with non-stick foil, made criss-cross cuts on the ham and stuck cloves into where the cuts cross.

It is a 8.25 pounds ham, so I bake it in my convection oven at 325 degrees fahrenheit before converting to convection settings.

The bone in ham was on its side for about one and a half hours, then I turned the ham completely skin side up and baked it for about 20 minutes before dousing the skin with about one and a half tablespoons of good maple syrup and continued baking until it was up to temperature (which should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit) checking the temperature on the ham every twenty minutes or so.

The ham will go great sliced up with some plain white Jasmine rice, chopped up to make fried rice, with some home made apple sauce and au gratin or however you like. The sliced ham also freezes well and the ham bone can be use to make split pea and ham soup.

Bon appetite and have a great weekend everyone!

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Singapore Fanfare: Fish and Shrimp Otah, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Baked Asparagus and Spicy Dried Shrimp Flavored Green Bean with Tempeh

I cooked a bunch of dishes today for the rest of the week. The first dish is a Singapore Malay Food call Otah. I made it the way my mom made hers, mincing up fish with shrimp and mixing the paste with coconut milk and egg. I flavored the dish with Thai fish sauce and garnished the casserole with two panda leaves for extra fragrance and flavor. The dish is baked covered with foil at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes then I removed the foil and broiled the dish for a few minutes until the egg mixture on the top part kind of caramelized in a few spots.
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I also made Hainanese Chicken which I had been craving for but couldn’t find any good ones in town. I boiled a lot of water and dunked the chicken into a big pot of boiling water and brought the chicken to a boil for 15 minutes, then I let it simmer with very little bubbling for 10 minutes. After that I turned off the stove and let the chicken continue cooking in the pot for 45 minutes. Next, I poured out the broth to be used for making the chicken rice and poured ice water into the chicken until it was submerged. I cut up the chicken after it had completely cooled down.
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Love this asparagus dish which I seasoned with plenty of lemon juice, a dash of garlic salt, garlic powder, onion powder and olive oil! Love the zing that the sour lemon juice gave me! 20140420-011047.jpg
This is a stir fry of green bean with tempeh flavored by shallots, garlic, Thai Chilli peppers, ginger and dried shrimp flakes.
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Our Good Friday dinner tonight. Happy Easter! 20140420-021730.jpg

Tofu and ground pork

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This is my mom's version of tofu and ground pork. The firm organic tofu is fried separately and the ground pork is fried with shallots.

The dish is seasoned with a splash of Kikkoman light soy sauce and a little white pepper which is optional. Sometimes I add leek to this dish.

Mom's not cooking tonight and Chicken Alfredo pizza is just awesome for a no cooking night for me.

Salmon Soup with Pickled Szechuan Vegetables, Silken Tofu and Asian Tomatoes

We had a long salmon carcass with the head, tail, collar and spine from my last birthday party where I cooked the fillet of this whole wild salmon.

I was craving for this soup and had a hard time debating between using sour mustard or pickled Szechuan vegetables. I settled for the latter as it gives a nice, mild, spicy zing to the soup.

The secret to my fish soup is using the pork broth that was used to make twice cooked pork by boiling the pork for my Singapore Noodles in the last post.

I can never give up silken tofu, my favorite kind of tofu for soups and Mapo tofu.

The tomatoes are from the Asian market. Not sure what kind they are but they are more orangey in color. I like them in fish soup as they are more sour than regular tomatoes.

Enjoy this homestyle fish soup that I grew up eating as a kid in Singapore and I am missing my mom’s version with a big fish tail instead of salmon.

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The Real Singapore Noodles Homestyle Version

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This is my version of Singapore Noodles also called Char Bee Hoon which is modeled loosely after my mom’s version which has shitake mushrooms.

The brown soy bean jerkies are tricky to fry. It’s the first time that I didn’t burn them. They turned dark and crispy after they are removed from the frying pan while they continue to get cooked on their own by the oil on them. I have learned not to fry them till they are too dark. A medium brown as long as the surface of each piece has bubbled up is ideal. Fry on low heat to prevent splattering.

They said pictures are worth a thousand words. I will let the pictures speak for the types of ingredients I used.

I like egg in my rice noodles but I usually don’t add any as the leftovers don’t keep well.

Let’s eat!

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