Dear friends and followers,
The decision to strike out and own my URL had been brewing for a while. Buoyed by your encouragement and support, I took the plunge the sought to own the domain name for Ginger and Chilli. Unfortunately someone else had the same idea for the spicy name and I had to come up with Plan B.
Step 1. Find a name that represents my style and recipes.
Step 2. Check if the URL is available. Buy URL.
Step 3. Begin migration to Ginger and Cilantro.
You have been my motivating force and source of encouragement. I am very excited about the new website, and I look forward to your continued support and feedback. Please visit and follow me at:
I had a halved salmon tail, unskinned, wrapped in my freezer. I remember having scrumptious fried salmon at home, seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper coated with a little bit of flour. Here I added turmeric. Having learnt about the health benefits of curcumin, the chemical in responsible for the yellow colouring in turmeric, I have been trying to incorporate the spice into my dishes in moderation. As with any frying method of cooking, the drier the fish is, the crispier the result. Use kitchen towels to squeeze as much water out as possible. Coat salmon cubes with a dry rub.
½ cup flour
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1. Shake off excess marinade from salmon cubes.
2. Heat 5 tbsp of oil till very hot.
3. Carefully place pieces of salmon into oil and lower heat to medium-high. Allow to cook till a thin crispy crust forms on one side. If using salmon with skin still on, start with the skin side down.
4. Turn pieces over and repeat on other side. You can also repeat on any other sides that are not crisped by then.
5. Remove onto a piece of kitchen towel to soak up excess oil and serve.
For gluten-free version, omit flour in the dry rub.
Tang hoon, also called vermicelli, glass noodles, 冬粉 (dong fen, meaning winter noodles), is a light version of bee hoon, typically made from some kind of starch. Most commonly found are ones made of mung bean starch, often referred to as ‘mung bean thread’. Compared to bee hoon, which is made of rice, tang hoon is finer and more delicate. Further, it looks glassy and transparent when cooked, hence the name ‘glass noodles. Tang hoon is tasteless on its own, making it a versatile addition to many dishes. It can be used to add textural interest to soup or gravy, as a side dish when stir-fried, or as in this recipe, as a meal by itself. Common ingredients for stir-fries include some combination of chicken, fried or dried shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, fish cake and bean sprouts. It is merely a matter of preference, variety and choice. I added a hefty dose of pepper in my version; go easy if you do not care for it as much.
2 packets tang hoon, soaked till soft and drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, diced
2 eggs, beaten
½ carrot, julienned
Handful of bak choy leaves
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 oyster sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
½ cup vegetable stock
1 tsp pepper
1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in wok. Add garlic and shallots. Stir-fry till golden.
2. Add carrots. Fry till nearly cooked through.
3. Add bak choy leaves. Fry till wilted,
4. Add tang hoon and sauce. Stir to combine well. Lower heat to medium.
5. When liquid is mostly absorbed, add eggs to side of wok and leave untouched till eggs are half-cooked. Break up egg and mix into tang hoon till eggs are cooked through.
6. Garnish with green onions. Serve with dollop of belachan.
Serves 2 (as a meal)
Serves 4 (as a sidedish)
Always accompanying Southeast Asian food, belachan is a mainstay in cuisine from south of China, to Thailand, to Malaysia, to Singapore, to Indonesia and to reaches far and in-between. Needless to say, as Straits-cooking is a fusion of Malay, Chinese and Dutch influences, it is an essential condiment to nonya or Peranakan food. At its heart is shrimp paste. Preparation from there on varies widely based on culture, cuisine and heritage. Some version of it can be easily found in any Asian food store around the world. However, every Southeast Asian family is likely to know someone who will insist that so-and-so in the family makes the best homemade belachan ever, and proclaim it with quiet pride. I am no different. I like mine spicy, made with chilli and sometimes a touch of lime for an added zing.
One of my favourite store-bought version is from Glory Foods:
For more information about Shrimp Paste, follow this link.
For more information about Straits Chinese or Peranakan, follow this link.
Plump, firm, bright purple in colour – ‘Eggplant’ as it is widely known here in America, commonly called ‘Aubergine’ in Europe, and liltingly called ‘Brinjal’ in my homeland in South-East Asia, is rather bitter when raw but easily absorbs flavours used in the cooking process. Its versatility is evidenced by its widespread use in varying cuisines around the world, using a range of preparation techniques. Here is one of my staple recipes using only a handful of ingredients that are easily found in my pantry. Asian eggplants which are elongated in shape are easily available here and is what I have used, cut into 2″ x ½” strips. If using oval-shaped ones, they can be cut into semi-circular pieces, ½” cubes or any shape that is easy to eat. Braising allows the eggplant to slowly soak up the sauces, giving it a complex, rich taste.
2 medium-sized eggplants, cut into 2″ x ½” strips
½ lb minced pork
5 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Cilantro, to garnish
4 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon black vinegar
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pepper
1. Prepare sauce and mix well. Set aside.
2. Heat a little oil in a wok. Add pork into hot oil, breaking up the pieces constantly to prevent clumping.
3. When pork is half-cooked, add a little more oil and reduce the heat.
4. Add garlic and eggplant. Cook till eggplant starts to wilt at the edges, about 2-3 minutes.
5. Add mushrooms and cook for 1 minute.
6. Add sauce and bring it to a boil, stirring to coat eggplant in the sauce. A little water (no more than ½ cup) may be added if sauce is insufficient.
7. Reduce heat to a medium simmer and cover till eggplant is fully cooked and sauce has mostly been absorbed.
8. Garnish with cilantro.
“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
Mark Twain was onto something then. Bay area weather is unlike anything one would expect. Merely 2 weeks ago, temperatures were in the high 70s, daring some souls to meekly bring out t-shirts and flip flops, tempting the fickle clouds. This past week had all running back to Uggs and recycled fleece, heaters kicking into gear. The thing about making soup over a stove is that it warms up the kitchen and living room quite nicely, at the same time filling the house with homely aromas. Sweet corn is coming into season here (10 for $5), and sweet corn is my middle name. This is a clear soup, naturally sweetened by rib bones, dried cuttlefish and sweet corn. Root vegetables offset the pork protein. Gogi berries are not usually added but they were in my pantry. They are the cause of the slightly reddish tinge in this otherwise colourless soup.
1 lb pork back ribs
2 carrots, coined
2 ears of fresh corn, broken into 3″ sections
1 lb winter melon, cubed
1 potato, cubed
(optional) 1 dried cuttlefish, for flavouring
(optional) Handful gogi berries
1. Blanch pork ribs. This will ensure the soup is clear and free of debris.
2. Bring a fresh pot of water boil. Place blanched ribs and cuttlefish into boiling water.
3. When pork is nearly cooked through, add carrots, potatoes and gogi berries for about 2 minutes.
4. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Add soy sauce to taste if desired.
5. Add winter melon and increase heat for 3 minutes till melon is just cooked through. This delicate root turns becomes bitter when overcooked.
A twist on the classic ‘Cashew Chicken’. This dish features celery as the main ingredient, making for a healthier option. Season the chicken well, according to your personal taste. A dash of paprika or turmeric adds a more exotic flavor. Chili powder offers a spicy kick. The small amount of protein will go a long way in enticing the palette. Picky eaters will forget they are eating vegetables.
1/2 lb chicken, cubed, and lightly seasoned with cornstarch and pepper
3 cups celery, diced
A handful of roasted cashews
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1. Fry garlic till just about to turn golden.
2. Toss chicken and quickly fry till half-cooked.
3. Add celery, starting with stems which take more time to cook than leaves, if any.
4. Season with soy sauce and oyster sauce. Lower heat and cook for 1 minute.