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Seafood Marinara Pasta Recipe and Happy New Year!!

Friday, December 30, 2011 | Labels: , , , | 10 Comments »

Wow, another 2 days more and we will be bidding farewell to 2011.  A new year is always a time of reflection and looking ahead and I'm sure all of you already have spectacular plans to usher in the new year.  For today, I am sharing one of my favourite pasta dishes, seafood marinara and it's really not that difficult to make the sauce from scratch instead of relying on store-bought sauces although those are perfectly fine too especially if time is of the essence.  I really wanted to add mussels to the dish today as well but unfortunately I could not find good ones where I usually shop at so I only used shrimp and squid.  I served the dish with some Lebanese bread brushed with some olive oil and sprinkled with salt and garlic powder as an easy accompaniment.


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The year 2011 has gone by unbelievably quick but well I guess we say that every year!  I bet that most of you must be rushing around with the new year coming so I shall also keep today's post short.  I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all again, a Happy 2012 and may the new year bring in good news, joy and cheer for you and your family!  Also, I wish to thank all of you for your kind support of Smoky Wok and for leaving me your wonderful comments, feedback and I'm really glad I got to 'know' you through our mutual love for cooking and looking at good food.

Seafood Marinara Spaghetti

Fragrant Soy-Caramelized Prawns 干煎大吓

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 | Labels: , , , , | 10 Comments »

Just a few more days and 2012 will be here! Time really flies, cliche but oh so true.  Soon the lunar new year will be here and so I've been thinking up more ways to serve up the popular prawns for the festive season, of course if you're just a fan of prawn/ shrimp dishes, you can whip this up anytime.  The Chinese almost always prepare a lavish feast for the yearly reunion dinner which takes place on the eve of the lunar new year - family members from far and near gather together to celebrate the coming new year with what else but great food and precious company.  Prawns are almost always a must as they symbolise laughter and happiness (the Chinese pronunciation for prawns sound like 'ha') so here's yet another prawn dish that I hope you'll like.


Chinese Soy-Caramelized Prawns

Today's prawns were first shallow-fried to a lovely golden hue, then cooked together with some garlic, ginger, chili peppers and soy sauce.  I added a splash of thick caramel sauce as well for that gorgeous glaze you can see on the prawns - so really this is quite straightforward and this is one of my go-to dishes for prawns especially when I have to cook more dishes than usual which is of course typical in most Chinese households during festive seasons.

Chinese Soy-Caramelized Prawns

This post is part of my Yuen Chun Recipes, an ongoing project on this blog.

Hong Kong Style Soy Sauce Chicken Recipe 港式酱油鸡腿

Monday, December 26, 2011 | Labels: , , , , | 16 Comments »

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas celebration and for those of you who don't celebrate Christmas, an enjoyable break over the long weekend.  I am sure that most of you know that Hong Kong is a culinary paradise and I do admit that I am a big fan of most Hong Kong and Cantonese cuisine in general.  Today's dish, the famous Hong Kong style soy sauce chicken can be found in most Hong Kong styled roasted meats restaurants or food stalls - those restaurants that usually have a glass section in the front showcasing various kinds of roasted meats like duck, goose and pork.  Soy sauce chicken is usually also part of the fare served and it's really quite easy to re-create at home, definitely much easier and less time-consuming than making a good roast duck at home.  As chicken breast meat is not particularly popular in my household, I decided to just make soy sauce chicken drumsticks, also this saves on me having to slice up the chicken into bite-sized pieces as it is quite a feat to slice up a cooked chicken cleanly and beautifully.


Hong Kong Style Soy Sauce Chicken 港式酱油鸡腿



For today's dish, it is quite important to use good quality soy sauce as you can probably guess, the soy sauce is the star of the dish.  Today was also the first time I cooked with Chinese rose wine or 玫瑰露 which makes for a much more fragrant soy dish than usual.  Chinese rose wine is actually translucent and is not pink by any means, it is very high in alcoholic content (about 40+%) and provides a deeper dimension of taste to this deceptively simple dishes like this one today.  Instead of regular sugar, I would also suggest for you to use rock sugar as the latter helps the chicken to stay more tender and moist.  I used a combination of light soy sauce 生抽 and dark soy sauce 老抽, added some ginger, scallions, star anise, garlic but do note that every household probably has their own little spin on this classic favourite.  After you've cooked the chicken in the soy sauce mixture, you can keep the sauce for making soy sauce eggs or soy sauce tofu - so this is definitely a dish worth making!

Hong Kong Style Soy Sauce Chicken Hong Kong Style Soy Sauce Chicken 港式酱油鸡腿

This is a recipe in my series of Yuen Chun Recipes, an ongoing project on this blog.



Chinese Steamed Cake (Revised) and Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011 | Labels: , , | 12 Comments »

Not your typical Christmas dish but here's my offering for today, an easy steamed cake Chinese style.  Since it's already Christmas, I bet you don't have much time to read much today so I will try to be sparse with words today :O.  Chinese steamed cake is extremely easy and always popular as it is a light, fluffy and sweet concoction that can be done up with minimal mess and effort.  Today's recipe is my attempt at revisiting my older recipe in which I added a tiny bit more baking powder and used less egg.  The result was a lighter and airier version although with lesser egg, it was a tad drier but I loved it all the same.  In addition, I used a smaller square pan for steaming since I wanted my cake to be tall - I just find tall cakes so much more appealing for some reason.


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If you prefer a moister version, do refer to myoriginal recipe instead.  Finally, here's wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season!

Chinese Steamed Cake 中式蛋糕

Golden Fried Salted Prawns and Happy Winter Solstice Festival!

Thursday, December 22, 2011 | Labels: , , | 4 Comments »

It is the winter solstice or 冬至 festival today which is a very important festival to the Chinese, some say it is more important than the lunar new year itself as the winter solstice festival represents new beginnings and signifies that another year has safely passed by for all. As with most Chinese festive occasions, it is a time for family reunions and most Chinese families will try to spend this day together feasting on good food and tang yuan or 汤园 is almost a must as the round glutinous balls represent reunion and of course round is always an auspicious shape to the Chinese signifying smoothness and positivity in general. So for today's festive occasion, one of the dishes we prepared was a simple fried prawns dish - prawns are always an auspicious dish as its' name in Chinese 虾 sounds the same as 'ha' or laughter.

Golden Fried Salted Prawns 金黄虾

For today's dish, the prawns were quickly butterflied, then rubbed with some salt and white pepper - left to marinate then shallow-fried till golden and crispy, straightforward and always a hit. Ingredients required for this dish are minimal and if you are able to get fresh prawns, your dish will definitely turn out delicious as is the case with most seafood dishes.  Although relatively easy to whip up, do note that the prawns should be fried on medium to low heat to ensure even cooking and your wok should not be overcrowded as this will result in prawns that are not crispy.  If you have to, do work in batches, the extra work and time required will be worth it.

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For my Chinese readers who are away from your families, I do hope you have a great time celebrating with your friends instead, I recall that while living abroad away from my family, festivals like that would make me quite homesick :O.  Finally I would like to share this meaningful line from a famous Chinese poem by the legendary poet from the Soong Dynasty, 蘇東坡 (Su Dongpo):

但願人長久,千里共嬋娟。。。

(May the longevity star shine upon us, we are all gazing at the beauty of the same moon despite being a thousand miles apart) - this is my attempt at translating this famous line and really, it sounds better in Chinese!

Chinese Celery and Pork Stir-fry 芹菜炒肉片

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 | Labels: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

A simple Chinese style stir-fry is a great way to have a balanced dish of protein and vegetables I always say. I have not been making 'elaborate' dishes lately and a good stir-fry served with some rice makes for a quick and satisfying meal for me anytime. 芹菜 (qin chai) or simply known as celery is as you can gather, a species of vegetables found mainly in Asia belonging to the celery family and although it has a much deeper green colour and is leafy, the taste and texture are quite reminiscent of the western celery. If you like celery, I am pretty sure you will like these popular stir-fry vegetables as well. These nutritious and toothsome vegetables are usually cooked with pork and perhaps a few slices of dried tofu but as I ran out of dried tofu today, I just stuck to the pork. Using a Chinese wok will also help bring this easy stir-fry to another level, the elusive wok breath really helps a lot.



Chinese Celery and Pork Stir-fry


I am sure that you must be busy rushing around with the holiday season upon us so I hope you'll find this easy stir-fry a good idea on one of those busy nights when you still feel like having something whipped up at home.  This is a very basic stir-fry recipe from my mom that will work with a ton of other vegetables as well.  If you don't like pork, you can also try substituting the pork with chicken or shrimp.

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Blueberry Pancakes for Breakfast...

Saturday, December 17, 2011 | Labels: , , | 5 Comments »

I am a huge fan of pancakes for breakfasts (and sometimes as snacks) and although it is relatively easy to whip up a batch, most of us probably don't bother to do so unless we have a chance for a more leisurely breakfast I should think.  Pancakes are so simple and yet there are so many versions and so many different opinions on what constitutes a 'perfect' pancake, it's just simply amazing.  Anyway, for myself - I prefer like both fluffy and slightly crispy pancakes so I might be a little indecisive when it comes to the 'perfect' pancake, as long as it tastes good I guess I'm in, hmm not much of a pancake connoisseur I guess.  Dry and stiff pancakes are of course no-nos regardless.  For today's breakfast offering, I added some fresh blueberries to the batter and seriously, fresh trumps frozen anytime.  The batter is quite basic and although I did not use soured milk this time, the pancakes still turned out quite fluffy albeit not as fluffy as my last pancake post which required souring the milk before adding into the batter.


Blueberry Pancakes for Breakfast...

The addition of the blueberries into the batter resulted in a slightly tart pancake that was just perfect served with the sweet maple syrup.  If you like, you can scatter a few more blueberries while the batter is cooking in the pan. Apart from blueberries, you can use other fruits like orange, lemon or raspberries just to name a few.  You will love how easy these delicious pancakes are to whip up and I am quite sure there will be no leftovers!

Blueberry Pancakes for Breakfast...

Grilled Pork Summer (Rice Paper) Rolls...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | Labels: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

I know it is probably really chilly where you are this time of the year but as you already know, we in Malaysia are still suffering from the sweltering heat, well interspersed with bouts of rain storms.  Anyhow, I thought summer rolls would be the perfect candidate for a refreshing snack at home.  I am pretty sure that you may have eaten rice paper rolls before and the lovely thing about this unique Vietnamese ingredient is that you can tailor-make the rolls with the filling of  your choice and make them as simple and 'bare' as possible like what I did today or add as many ingredients as you like.  For today, I merely grilled some pork chops marinated in some hoi sin sauce and corn syrup, added some crisp lettuce for a refreshing crunch and wrapped them up in the delicate and feather-light rice paper.  The result was an extremely easy to make, texture-filled and appetizing snack.

Grilled Pork Summer Rolls

I remember the first time I worked with rice paper which was quite a few years ago when I made fried paper rolls and I soaked the rice paper for too long and ended up discarding quite a few as the rice paper sheets will get too soft and start sticking onto itself which makes rolling it up with ingredients almost impossible.  The points to note with rice paper is that you should lightly pass it through water and then lay it on the plate or your work surface, leave it for a bit to soften then immediately start rolling as soon as it is pliable.  Very easy.  So, this is my attempt at making Chinese-Vietnamese fusion food in a way and by the way, this is a great way to use up any leftover roasted BBQ pork that you have lying around the house or substitute with chicken if you like.  The possibilities for the filling are endless and I can't wait to experiment more!

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This recipe is part of my series in Yuen Chun Recipes, an ongoing project on this site.

Malaysian Nyonya Style Curry 'Kari Kapitan' Pork Ribs Recipe

Sunday, December 11, 2011 | Labels: , , , , | 13 Comments »



Today's feature is a much-loved curry dish in our household and perhaps in a lot of Malaysian households as well.  This is one of the many famous signature dishes by the Straits Chinese (which I referred to here as Nyonya) who were the early settlers in Malaysia (then Malaya) from China who mostly lived in Malacca, Penang and Singapore - hence the name Straits Chinese.  Nyonya cuisine is a delectable and unique blend of Chinese, Malay, Indian and a bit of Thai cuisine - somehow everything blends together deliciously and seamlessly.  Kari kapitan has obvious Thai influences, looking at the use of kaffir lime leaves and tamarind juice - this dish has a fresh and fragrant dimension which does well at cutting into the richness of the dish.

Malaysian Nyonya Curry (Kari Kapitan) Spareribs

If you prefer your curries less rich, you can always skip or halve the use of coconut milk.  I can guarantee though that if you are a curry lover, you will probably love this variation.  This dish does require a little bit of time and effort as the spice paste does take some time to prepare although it is by no means difficult at all.  This extremely appetising dish is great with the usual rice or you can also serve this with rotis (Indian flatbreads) like naan, paratha and yes even with regular toast - utterly scrumptous.



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Crispy Skinned Salmon with Aglio Olio Spaghetti Recipe

Thursday, December 08, 2011 | Labels: , , , | 14 Comments »

There is nothing as easy, filling and delicious as pasta - I've been craving for some simple aglio olio spaghetti for a bit and finally decided to make it today.  I paired the pasta with some crispy skinned salmon fillets which was a great combination and of course this only applies if you also love salmon like me.  I simply rubbed the salmon with some sea salt and olive oil before frying the fish as the salmon fillets I bought were extremely fresh and really, with such good quality seafood/ fish, you don't have to add much for the dish to turn out delicious.  For the spaghetti, instead of using the traditional red chili flakes, I sliced up some bird's eye chili peppers instead as apart from liking the spicy fragrance they impart -they were handy.

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Spaghetti


Today's dish just a very simple and delicious plus pretty combination you can whip up in almost no time and can play around with as you fancy.  Just be sure to use the freshest seafood you can find and the only seasoning you'll need is probably salt, well in this case at least. 

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Spaghetti


Bak Kut Teh - Chinese Herbal Broth with Pork Ribs 肉骨茶

Tuesday, December 06, 2011 | Labels: , , , , | 10 Comments »

Bak kut teh or literally 'meat bone tea' is a very famous Chinese Malaysian dish and is a must-try for tourists and also a much-loved dish by the locals.  Bak kut teh is a Hokkien (Fujian) Chinese dish and is said to have been introduced by the Hokkien coolies from China to Malaysia (then Malaya) more than a century ago.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Chinese people's love of heavy meals for breakfasts, it may come as a surprise to you that bak kut teh is an extremely popular breakfast dish.  Bak kut teh is essentially pork ribs cooked in a rich, savoury and fragrant herbal broth - it can be as simple as just the ribs in the broth/ soup or made more balanced' with the addition of dried tofu, mushrooms and some vegetables of your choice.  The main dish with the ribs and soup are usually served with Chinese doughnuts (you tiao) and rice.


Bak Kut Teh - Chinese Herbal Broth with Pork Ribs 肉骨茶

For today, I am sharing a short-cut version of claypot bak kut teh as yes I cheated and cooked the dish with the help of a ready-made satchel of bak kut teh herbs.  Really, there is no shame in this as I just read that a lot of the stalls selling bak kut teh buy prepackaged herbs and then add their own touches resulting in the uniquely different flavours.  For today, I added some fried tofu packets, Chinese or nappa cabbage, shitake and enoki mushrooms.  If you like, you can add more wolfberries (goji berries) to deepen the herbal flavour or even add some black pepper for more heat.  I used the 'Claypot' brand of bak kut teh packets and these are available in a lot of places outside Malaysia, if not I think most brands should be fine but of course don't forget to add your own little finishing touches to make the dish uniquely yours.

Bak Kut Teh - Chinese Herbal Broth with Pork Ribs 肉骨茶

Chinese Ginger Duck Recipe - 姜麻鴨

Friday, December 02, 2011 | Labels: , , , | 5 Comments »

Chinese ginger duck is one of those homey dishes that I craved for when I was living away from home.  Today's recipe actually belongs to my late grandfather who was an avid farmer in his spare time.  He was a very outdoorsy person and used to catch fish with his bare hands and hike deep into the woods for days at a time.  Yours truly couldn't be more different!  Anyway, this recipe is so simple in line with his simplistic attitude to food and life in general - the duck is simply cooked with copious amounts of ginger and some soy sauces for seasoning, add a dash of Chinese Shaoxing wine for added fragrance and that's about it.  If you like ginger, I'm quite sure you will love this but if not, then this dish may not be your cup of tea to be honest.

Chinese Ginger Soy Duck


I have seen various versions of this dish with both old and young ginger, I actually prefer to use old ginger for this as I find the flavours deeper but if you prefer young ginger, do go ahead.  If in Malaysia, I would recommend to use 'Bentong ginger' which is a species of ginger that looks like old ginger but actually has a better taste dimension.  This is one of those Chinese dishes that actually taste better the day after as the flavours will develop more resulting in a deeper tasting dish.  I do hope you will give this a try and if you don't want to cook with a whole duck, you can always just use duck breast or duck thighs.

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