It’s been a long time since I last posted pictures of our home-cooked meals. The last few months were unexpectedly busy, so I only cooked sporadically.
Cooking involves more than just the actual cooking process. To get groceries for a week’s meals, there are trips to the wet market and supermarket (separate visits, cos there’s only so much I can lug home by bus). Once I get home, meats and seafood are unpacked, divided into smaller portions, then put away in the freezer. Leafy vegetables have to be wrapped in plastic bags and newspaper so that they last longer.
And that’s just the start! For each weekday meal, I need to factor in at least one hour prep time, and another hour of cleaning (the dishes, pots, cooker + hood, sink). What seems like a simple meal is actually a very tedious process!
Though cooking a Chinese-style 2 dishes+1 soup dinner can be rather time-consuming, the result is very satisfying. It’s hardly sophisticated fare, but its wholesome and familiar taste is what constitutes comfort food.
At least once a week, I’ll boil a Cantonese 老火汤 (“old-fire” soup) using my mother-in-law’s Tanyu claypot. For the sweet corn, carrot, and pork rib soup above, I simmered the following ingredients for 2.5 hours:
- 500gms pork ribs, parboiled and rinsed
- 2 fat carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1 “pearl” sweet corn (much sweeter than the regular kind), cut into 6 sections
- 10 dried red dates
- 2 tablespoons of dried wolfberries
- a few pieces of 淮山 (dried mountain yam, or “huai shan”)
- about 3 litres of water
It’s a huge pot of soup, sufficient for 6 people as part of a meal. Even for Rick and I who are huge soup drinkers, it’s too much for one meal. But nothing goes to waste; we re-heat the soup the next day, and the flavors are even more intense. This way, I also save on the trouble of having to cook soup the following day!
Rendang is another dish that keeps well. Here, I cheated by using an excellent pre-mix paste by Mak Nyonya. So far, I’ve tried their rendang, chicken curry, and assam fish sauces, and they are all delicious! They taste homemade, and there’s no artificial seasonings or preservatives used.
Do you love garlic sprouts as much as I do? I came up with this dish on the spur of the moment, and surprisingly, it turned out great, very yummy with rice! Here’s a brief guide:
- Saute garlic sprouts with coarsely chopped garlic till al dente, and remove from wok.
- Stir-fry sliced marinated pork/chicken/beef till cooked.
- Add the sauteed garlic sprouts, then season with hoisin and soy sauce.
Besides steamed fish, we also enjoy a simple panfried mackerel (batang) steak. What I do is to dry the fish steak with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Before pan-frying, I coat the fish in some cornstarch so that it’ll be crispy and to seal in the juices. Also, the oil will be less likely to splatter.
The problem with frozen chicken is that it comes in minimum 1 kg packs, which is way too much for the two of us to finish in one meal. Luckily, braised chicken wings keep and reheat well. So I just have to cook one dish and spread it out over two days. Saves on prep time and gas! 😀
With our leftover braised wings, we had an easy one-dish meal for our weekend lunch! I boiled and drained some dried noodles, tossed them in the braising sauce, then topped the noodles with the chicken wings. Super yummy!