Monday, July 29, 2013

Saving Water

Singapore is a tiny island with few natural resources.  Where does our water come from?

  1. Malaysia - Singapore has been importing its water from Malaysia under two bilateral agreements.  However, one agreement has already expired in August 2011, and the other is due to expire in 2061.
  2. Local Catchment - Rainwater is collected in reservoirs, ponds, drains, canals and rivers
  3. NEWater - Water reclaimed from treated used water
  4. Desalination - Desalinating sea water
Given the importance of water as well as the possibility of lack of water in the future, shouldn't we try to save water as much as we can?  While preparing meals, I realised that quite a bit of water is used to wash rice and vegetables.  Instead of dumping all this water down the sink, I now collect it in a pail for watering my plants.  One - water is not wasted, and two - there's some good stuff in the water that the plants will love.  Win-win!

Water saved from washing rice and vegetables

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sweet Sour Pork

According to Asian culture, a new mother has to stay indoors and adhere to a strict diet for 1 month after her child is born.  During this period, also called 'confinement', one of my favourite dishes was pig's trotters stewed in black vinegar.  This is cooked with lots of vinegar and ginger.  After confinement, I was left with half a bottle of black vinegar... something I seldom use in my cooking. Not wanting to waste it, I tried cooking sweet sour pork!  This is a really tasty dish that goes very well with rice.  Enjoy!

Sweet Sour Pork
lean pork, sliced
red onion, cut into wedges
red pepper, cut into small pieces
corn flour

tomato sauce
chili sauce (optional)
black vinegar
light soya sauce
dark soya sauce
black pepper

  1. While heating up oil in wok, toss pork slices in cornflour to coat lightly.  Fry coated pork slices in oil until slightly browned and remove from wok.
  2. Using the remaining oil in the wok, fry red onion until fragrant.  Add in red pepper and the fried pork into the wok and stir fry.
  3. Prepare the sauce by mixing all the seasoning ingredients and add to the wok.  Stir fry until pork is coated with sauce.  Serve with rice while hot!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Homemade Kaya

For those unfamiliar with "kaya", it is a spread made from eggs, sugar and coconut milk, also known as coconut egg jam.  In Singapore, this is often spread on bread or toast together with butter.  Kaya in the bottled form is easily available in supermarkets and, depending on the brand, ranges from green to brown in colour.

When I was younger, my Mum would make homemade kaya once in a while.  According to her, my grandmother's recipe was: 1 bunch of pandan leaves, 1 bowl of eggs, 1 bowl of sugar, and 1 bowl of fresh coconut milk.  These simple ingredients will then be mixed together in the upper tier of a double boiler.  The ONE skill you need to make perfect homemade kaya -- PATIENCE.  While the kaya cooks in the double boiler, you have to keep stirring it so that it doesn't curdle and you get the perfect texture.

I wanted to make my own kaya, but I didn't have the time to make it the traditional way.  In steps my best internet friend -- Google... I decided to make kaya using my bread machine!  I made a watered-down version:

Bread Machine Kaya
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup raw sugar
1 cup eggs (approximately 4 medium sized eggs)
  1. Mix coconut milk and sugar in bread machine pan.  Add eggs to the pan through a sift.
  2. Start the "Jam" function on the bread machine.
  3. At the end of the "Jam" cycle, the mixture will appear lumpy.  Pour the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into glass jars and keep refrigerated.
This is my lazy version where I used packet coconut milk instead of fresh and also skipped the pandan leaves.

Bread Machine Kaya (Coconut Egg Jam)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Stir-fried Noodles

Claypot Noodles
I like cooking with this kind of noodles.  Being dried, they can be kept for a longer period of time, and there is no need for pre-boiling before using them for fried noodles.  Stir-fried noodles can be as simple or as complicated as you want them to be.  This time, I added more ingredients:

vegetable oil
red onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
sweet peas, a handful
dried mushrooms, soaked and sliced
chicken breast, sliced and seasoned with soya sauce and pepper
soya sauce
corn flour and water mixture

1) Warm up wok and add a little vegetable oil
2) Add garlic and onions when oil is warm.  Fry until fragrant.
3) Add mushrooms and chicken.  Season with some soya sauce and pepper.
4) Add water and bring to a boil, then add 1 piece (for 1 person) of the dried claypot noodles.
5) When noodles have softened, lower the fire and add in sweet peas
6) Add corn flour and water mixture while stirring to thicken the gravy.  Enjoy while hot!

Stir-fried Noodles