Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stir-fried Choko with Prawns

Stir- fried Choko with Prawns

Choko (chocho) or Chayote, when did I start to love this funny looking shape vegetable/fruit (I did ask myself when I first saw it many years ago)? It is to native of Central America. But it has become one type of popular vegetables in Vietnam and Cambodia. It provides a good natural sauce of fibre and vitamin C, especially where there is a lack of supplements.

Back to Melbourne, I need to wait for the season to cook. Yes, yes, there are a lot in the market now. Thus, ya! Time to cook choko! I love to use it for simple stir-fry, like normally used in Vietnamese and Cambodian cooking. I love its natural flavour that surprisingly matches well with other ingredients. Here a simple recipe called “stir-fried Choko with prawns”.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
120 g prawns, peeled and de-veined (if use large prawns, diced)
1 choko (400 g or 14 oz), peeled, deseeded, cut into strips

Soy mixture (mix in a bowl):

½ tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Dash ground white pepper

    Heat the oil in a fry-pan, add the garlic and prawns stir-fry for 1 minute or until the prawns are nearly cooked.

Add the choko and the soy mixture and stir well. Cover the fry-pan with a lid and cook for a minute. Add two tablespoons of water and have a quick stir, cover it again and keep cooking over medium heat for about 2 minutes or until the choko is softened (if you like it crunchy and tender you can cook for just a minute instead). Serve hot with rice.

Prep & cooking time: <15 minutes

Serve: 2-4

I grew a couple of choko plants a few years ago in my back yard and it was very easy. You may think about doing it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Char Kway Teow (Malaysian & Singaporean Food)

Char Kway Teow or stir-fried flat rice noodle is one of the most popular hawker dishes in Malaysia and Singapore. The noodles are stir-fried over high heat with, Chinese sausage, prawns, de-shelled cockles, dark caramel soy sauce, soy sauce, egg, bean sprouts, Chinese chives and lard. Traditionally, a perfect Char Kway Teow is cooked on a charcoal stove. However, nowadays you hardly see any charcoal stoves in use in hawker centres any more.

I was quite lucky to have a Charcoal Char Kway Teow with my friends on Siam Road in Penang during my visit. An old vendor who is well known throughout Penang Island for his signature charcoal Char Kway Teow for so many years continues to use charcoal stoves. I was surprised to hear that and went to his stall. After an hour long wait, we finally got our Char Kway Teow and, no doubt, it was amazing. It had that kind of strong smoky flavour. We were happy and our long wait was paid off.

At home, one of the most important ways to cook good Char Kway Teow is to stir-fry the noodles one plate at a time. This method ensures that all sides of the noodles are thoroughly heat up. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Easy Stir-fried Pasta

I used to live in a remote town where there was very limited Asian grocery around. Whenever I travelled to a city, I would buy many important Asian ingredients I need the most to fill up my pantry but they never met my cooking needs. So, I used whatever I could get my hand on as cooking is always flexible and can be creative. When I missed stir-fried yellow noodles but didn’t have, I used pasta (spaghetti- looks like yellow noodle). It was a humble stir-fry, even without Chinese greens or bean sprouts. The taste was just right and as good if not better.

Nowadays, I still use the same recipe but I do not purposefully boil pasta for stir fry - I often used left over pasta from my Bolognese. (Yes, I do love Italian food especially for my young children, they love the fresh and rich Bolognese sauce with cheese on top, yum…oh with extra chilli flakes too). So don’t waste it if you have leftover pasta.

The stir-fried pasta recipe is very simple. It just needs ingredients that are available in your pantry – oil, garlic, eggs, pasta, soy sauce, ground pepper and any greens in your fridge.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
250 g (9 oz) cooked pasta (spaghetti)
1 egg
Dash of ground black pepper
1¼ tablespoons soy sauce
¼ green capsicum or green leaves (spring onion, lettuce, choi sim), cut into pieces

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a fry-pan or wok until hot, add garlic and stir fry until light golden.

Toss in pasta, stir fry for 30 seconds. Push the pasta to a side, crack the egg into the other side. Slightly break the egg yolk and mix with egg white and cook for 30 seconds and cover it with pasta for few seconds.

Stir the egg and pasta well for another 30 seconds.

Add a dash of ground black pepper, soy sauce and capsicum and stir well until the pasta is heats and cooked through for about 1- 1½ minutes. 

Preparation time: 5 minutes (if using left over pasta)                                                 Cooking time: < 5 minutes
Serve 1

Happy Cooking!