Friday, February 04, 2011

CNY Cooking 101

Mum surprised us by offering to let us watch her cook for CNY, when in the past the kitchen was out of bounds :) Unfortunately it would be too crammed for three of us so my bro let me have the chance...

Realised a cook must really multitask - cut while watching a pot boil, stir a pot while stir frying another dish. I think I would be super lost in the kitchen without my mum! To make things complicated, we actually hung the clothes out to dry given the rare sun and we had to watch the weather and take in the laundry and stop all cooking every time it drizzled!

After the cooking, my mum and I cleaned up the kitchen. It was hard work to do a little of the cooking and the scrubbing so I really appreciated my mum's single-handed efforts in cooking up a storm and cleaning up year after year. I can really feel her love!

What we had for CNY, and short notes on the cooking:

Fried noodles with prawn, meat, leek, cabbage, mushroom, fried beancurd
As the fried beancurd and prawns would be used in another dish later, we panfried the beancurd and stirfried the prawns in advance and put aside for later use. Fried shallot was done after frying fish too.

Stir fry garlic and sliced mushrooms until fragrant, add prawns and beancurds, meat, leeks and cabbage. Add noodles and dark soy sauce and mix everything up. When food is almost cooked, add chicken stock and cover to simmer. Add fried shallots for garnish.

Fav dish of the family - leeks with prawn, meat and beancurd
Stir fry diced garlic and leeks until fragrant, then add meat, prawn and beancurd. Add chicken stock and cover to simmer.

Another family favourite - braised trotters and mushrooms and sea cucumber. Sea cucumber looks lighter as it was thrown in last.
Trotters were blanched first to get rid of the stink, then pan fried in the non-stick pan. Diced garlic (we don't use whole cloves for this dish in my family) and mushrooms were stir fried, then pig trotters transferred over to the wok. Add rock sugar and then dark soy sauce, and the water that mushrooms were soaked in (Mum's secret ingredient). Cover and bring to boil. Throw in sea cucumber last (as we had the experience of the seafood shrinking until it almost disappeared). Add salt to taste.

Dad's favourite - curry pork ribs and bamboo shoots
This used to be difficult to do in a wok because the curry paste burnt easily but the newly bought non-stick pan worked like magic so it was much easier for me to cook this.

Fry the Hai's brand curry paste until fragrant. Add pork ribs (blanched first) and bamboo shoots (which we blanched too) and stir fry in the paste until almost cooked. Add coconut milk, stir until the mixture becomes homogeneous. Bring to boil.

Fried fish
The most difficult thing to master well and the one that my mum didn't even allow me to touch because I would spoil the look of the fish. Basically, just throw it in oil, and get out of the way because the oil would splatter like mad. Which was unavoidable as I was also cooking the curry while fish was frying!

This took patience, as the fish skin would stick to the wok if the fish was turned over too early.

Dressed up fish!
Add fried shallot, dark soy sauce and chopped chilli to garnish!

Day 2 morning - chicken
Haha, no secret. Mum just blanched the chicken and covered it with boiling water and left it to cook over a small flame for almost half an hour.

Mee suah
Mee suah was cooked separately in chicken stock first, with constant stirrng to prevent the strands from sticking together. Chicken soup was made from the water from boiling the water. Abalone and hard boiled egg (dyed by Bro) added after cooking.

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