Friday, September 30, 2011

Vegetarian Galangal Chilli Sauce

This is my Grandma's special fried vegetarian chilli sauce that goes well with plain white rice.  It is spicy, taste a bit sweet and sourish.  I do not have her exact recipe but I tried making it.  Taste is slightly different as I add wild torch ginger flower to make it more aromatic. You can omit it, still has it's unique taste.
Ingredients for the chilli sauce
Blended ingredients and lime juice 
100 gm [6] red chillies - washed and cut small pieces
3 small chillies [cili padi] -washed and cut
1 knob galangal - scrape off the skin and diced
1 wild torch ginger [bunga kantan] - chopped [optional]
1 sprig coriander leaves
8 limau kasturi juice
3 tbsp fine tau cheong
1 tsp salt 
3-4 tbsp sugar to taste
100 ml oil
  1. Blend chillies, galangal, torch ginger and coriander leaves till fine.
  2. Heat oil in wok and saute grounded ingredients till fragrant , aromatic then add in tau cheong.  Continue to fry till fragrant and oil separates.  Add sugar and salt to taste.
  3. Lastly add in lime juice and simmer till chilli paste is thick but not dry and oil is clear chilli oil.  Cool and store in glass jar.  Serve with noodles or plain rice.

Fried Teochew Beancurd With Chinese Celery [Kin Chye]

Soya products [tofu, taukwa, tofu puff, beancurd sheets etc] are probably the most essential ingredients when preparing vegetarian dishes.  A soya product like tofu can be a main ingredient to a dish.  For this dish, I used Teochew taukwa [semi soft beancurd] with chinese celery [kin chye in hokkien dialect]. 
3 pieces Teochew beancurd - cut into 4 cubes
2 stalks of kin chye - cut 1" lengths
enough oil for frying
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
a dash of pepper
a dash of sesame oil
a dash of cooking wine
  1. Fry tofu pieces in hot oil till golden brown.  Dish out and set aside.
  2. Remove all the oil.  Using the same wok, add in chinese celery.  Stir fry and add in seasoning with a little water.  Bring it to a boil and return the fried taukwa.  Stir to mix sauce and taukwa.
  3. Dish out on plate to serve with rice.

Braised Taufu Pok and Peanuts

A simple vegetarian dish with few ingredients but goes well with porridge or even plain rice.
Basic ingredients for this dish

200 gm taufu pok [tofu puffs] - soaked, squeeze off excess water and halved
3 big dried mushrooms - soaked and cut cubes
1 small can braised peanuts - rinsed with boiled water
1 tbsp oil
1 star anise
Seasoning Sauce
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp cooking wine
1 tsp dark soy sauce for colour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp sesame oil

When cold the puffs will release some gravy
  1. Heat oil in wok on medium heat, saute mushrooms till aromatic.  Add in soy sauce, sugar, cooking wine and water.  Bring it to a boil and add tofu puffs.  Stir to mix.  Cover to braise for 5 - 10 minutes.
  2. Then add in braised peanuts and pepper.  Stir and cover.  Continue to braise till gravy is almost dry and puffs are soft.  Add in sesame oil before dishing out to serve with rice or porridge.

Stir Fried Five Coloured Vegetables

A healthy, colourful and nutritious vegetarian dish.
100 gm carrot - cut into desired shapes
150 gm cabbage - cleaned and break into bite size pieces
150 gm broccoli - cut into florets
6 pieces black fungus - soaked and break into smaller pieces
50 gm dried golden lilies [kim chiam] - knot tied in the middle, cut off the ends and soak for 1 minute
50 gm tofu puffs [taufu pok] - halved
some fatt choy - soaked and squeezed out excess water
a few slices of ginger
2 tbsp oil

Seasoning Sauce [Mix together]
1-2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp mushroom stock granules or vegetarian msg
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
a dash of pepper

100 ml water
Combine 1 tsp cornflour with 1 tbsp water for thickening
  1. Heat oil in wok to saute ginger, dried golden lilies [kim chiam] till aromatic. Add in black fungus, cabbage and carrot.  Continue to fry till cabbage is soft, meanwhile add in seasoning sauce.  Add in water and bring to a boil.
  2. Add in tofu puffs.  Stir to mix well and add in broccoli and fatt choy.  Cover to cook all ingredients.
  3. Thicken gravy slightly.  Dish out to serve with rice.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Braised Dual Mui Choy With Mushrooms

Another vegetarian dish that can be prepared ahead and warm up just before serving with rice or porridge.

Two types of mui choy and mee keen
200 gm salted mui choy - rinsed, soaked and chopped
200 gm sweet mui choy - rinsed, soaked and chopped
100 gm fresh gluten balls [mee kin ] - cut shreds
50 gm dried mushrooms - soaked and cut strips [I used dried enoki mushrooms]
1 small can braised peanuts
5 tbsp oil + 1 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar to taste
1 tsp pepper
2-3 cups water
  1. Heat oil in a wok and saute mushrooms till fragrant.  Then add in gluten strips.  Fry for a minute and add in both types of mui choy.  Stir fry for 5-10 minutes over medium heat.  Add in seasoning.
  2. Continue to fry till fragrant and add in enough water to cover ingredients.  Bring it to a boil and reduce heat to simmer vegetables until soft and gravy is reduced. Add in braised peanuts.  Stir to mix all ingredients. Serve with plain rice or porridge.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Brown Bean Soup

    These red beans are not the usual type like the Tien Chin red beans.  The colour is slightly brownish but after boiling and when cooked, it changes to a very nice orangy red.  The skin of the beans do not separate from the flesh even when the beans are soft.  A very tasty red bean soup that can be served with stir fry noodles.  Be careful when adding sugar because the beans have a natural sweetness.
    300 gm brown beans [see picture]
    3-4 pieces screwpine leaves [pandan leaves]
    1.5 litres water
    100 gm sugar or less
    1. Pick the rotten beans and discard them.  Wash the beans under running water several times.
    2. Put all ingredients except sugar in a big sauce pot.  Bring it to a boil for about 10 minutes.  Then lower heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or till beans are soft.
    3. Add sugar to taste.  Off fire and serve hot or warm.

    Stir Fried Rice Vermicelli [Economy Fried Bee Hoon ]

    I believe this is the simplest stir fry beehoon [no frills] which can be found usually in the wet market areas all year round and most of the temporary vegetarian food stalls.  But the appearance should look slightly different because most of the stalls will add very little greens. This noodle usually enjoy brisk business on the 1st and 15th day of the lunar month because many of the Taoists and  Buddhists will go vegetarian on these 2 days of the month.
    Usually, I would prefer to add more beansprouts and mustard leaves when frying the noodles.
    [serves 2-3]
    150 gm beehoon - soak in water for 5 - 10 minutes
    100 gm beansprouts - tailed
    2 stalks chai sim [mustard leaves]
    2 tbsp oil
    3 tbsp light soy sauce
    1 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
    1 tsp dark soy sauce
    1/2 tsp sugar
    1/4 tsp vegetarian msg
    150 ml water 
    Dried sweet beancurd sticks 

    Fried in oil till golden brown 
    1. Heat oil in wok, add in carrot and chai sim.  Fry and add in water.  When water boils, lower fire, put in the beehoon and all the seasoning.  Stir to mix well and add in beansprout.  Turn heat to medium high, stir and cover wok for 2 minutes.
    2. Remove cover and use chopsticks and ladle to loosen noodles, fry till beehoon is moist and water is almost dry.  
    3. Dish out on plate to serve with fried sweet beancurd strips and chilli sauce.  Enjoy with a bowl of red bean soup Brown Bean Soup.

    Stir Fried Instant Flat Noodles

    Two types of chillies for fried noodles
    I bought a packet of instant flat noodles with pumpkin as one of the ingredients.  Since it is vegetarian, I used it to cook a simple stir fry noodles with beansprouts and chai sim [mustard leaves] and serve it with the chilli sauce and pickled green chillies which I have prepared earlier.  Simple but definitely taste good too.
    Blanched flat noodles, beansprouts and chai sim
    Basic seasoning ingredients for vegetarian dish 
    [serves 2]
    2-3 bundles of instant flat noodles
    2 stalks chai sim - clean and cut 
    a handful of beansprouts - washed
    2 tbsp oil and 1 tsp sesame oil
    Seasoning Sauce [mix together]
    2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
    2 tbsp light soy sauce
    1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce - for colour
    1/4 tsp pepper
    1/2 tsp vegetarian msg
    150 ml hot water 
    1. Blanched noodles in boiling water till al dente.  Drain dry and mix in some oil to prevent noodles from sticking.  Set aside.
    2. Heat oil in wok.  Add in vegetables and beansprouts to fry for a second then add in blanched noodles.  Use a wok ladle and a pair of chopsticks to combine ingredients well.  Add in seasoning, stir fry to mix well.  Then add in water.  Stir and cover to cook noodles for a minute or until the water has almost dried up.
    3. Stir and dish on to serve with  prepared chilli sauce or pickled green chillies.
    • Fried noodles also goes well with a bowl of red bean soup.

    Simple Chilli Sauce for Stir Fry Noodles

    This is a simple chilli sauce suitable for vegetarian stir fry noodles [beehoon, kuay teow, yellow noodles etc].
    50 gm chilli paste
    100 ml water
    1 tbsp vinegar
    1 tbsp sugar
    1/2 tsp salt
    • Bring all ingredients to a quick boil.  Cool and store in glass container.

    Pickled Green Chillies

    Pickled Green Chillies
    This is a simple but good version of pickled green chillies worth to make.  Suitable to serve with vegetarian stir fry noodles [rice vermicelli, rice noodles, yellow or instant noodles etc].
    Ingredients - Mix together 
    120 ml boiling water
    60 ml white rice vinegar
    2 tsp sugar
    1/2 tsp salt
    100 gm [6-8] green chillies - sliced [can add some chilli padi]
    Sliced Green Chillies
    Green chillies blanched in boiling water
    • Mix together the water, vinegar, sugar and salt.
    • Wash and slice green chillies and blanched in hot boiling  water for a minute.  Drain dry and add to the vinegar solution.
    • Cool and store in glass container.  Stand for 24 hours prior to serving.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Vegetarian Pickled Vegetables [Acar Awak]

    Vegetarian Pickled Vegetables [Acar]
    This is a vegetarian Acar [pickled vegetables] without garlic or onions.  For the Nine Emperor Gods Festival [Kew Ong Yeah] whereby devotees observe a strict vegetarian diet for a duration of 9-10 days, certain vegetables cannot be consumed or use to cook the vegetarian dishes eventhough they are in the vegetables category.  Some of these exceptional vegetables which I know are onions, spring onions, garlic, leeks and kailan. 
    However, even without onions added, this dish tastes as good.
    Cut vegetables before blanching
    Ingredients for the Chilli Paste [combine together]
    200 gm chilli paste
    100 gm grounded lemongrass
    50 gm grounded galangal
    50 gm tumeric paste [tumeric powder mix with water]
    30 gm grounded candlenuts [buah keras]
    Other Ingredients
    2 kg cucumber - cut 1 inch length thin strips - season with some salt, set aside
    1/2 kg cabbage - break into bite size pieces
    1/2 kg carrots - cut 1 inch length thin strips
    1/2 kg long beans - cut 1 inch length pieces

    200 gm grounded peanuts
    3-4 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
    200 gm sugar
    2 tsp salt
    150 ml oil
    1.5 ml water and 200 ml white vinegar - for blanching vegetables

    Frying sesame seeds till golden brown
    Blanching vegetables in boiling water and vinegar
    Blanched vegetables and chilli paste
    1. Season cut cucumber with some salt and set aside for15-20 minutes. Place seasoned cucumber in a muslin bag and squeeze out the water.  Do this in several batches.  Drier cucumber will make it crunchy when cooked.
    2. Bring 1.5 litres water to boil in a wok then add in 200 ml vinegar.  Blanched each of the cut vegetables for about a minute and remove using  a serrated ladle into a basin. [Usually, I will blanch the cucumber first, followed by carrot/long beans and cabbage].  Do not overcook the vegetables.  Discard the water after all the vegetables are blanched.
    3. Heat up oil in the wok to saute the chilli paste till aromatic and oil separates.  Add in half portion of sugar and salt.  Fry to combine then add in all the blanched vegetables.  Stir to combine the chilli paste and vegetables. Then add in the cut chillies, balance sugar and salt.  Taste to adjust seasoning [need not be too sweet, sour or salty as it tastes better after 1-2 days].
    4. Bring it to a boil, lower heat then add grounded peanuts and sesame seeds [keep a little as garnish].  Mix well and off fire.  Leave to cool before storing in containers.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds when serving.  Keep well for 2 weeks or more in refrigerator.  Bring out and leave it to  room temperature before serving with white rice.
    Acar before adding grounded peanuts
    Achar ready for storing 

    • If cooking less, just adjust the quantity of the ingredients proportionately.  
    • Acar tastes better after several hours or even after several days.

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Nine Emperor Gods Festival [Kew Ong Yeah Temples and Foodstalls]

    The community temple around the vicinity of my home
    Nine Emperor Gods Festival [aka 'Kew Ong Yeah' Festival in Hokkien dialect] is observed mostly by Taoists.  This festival falls on the 1st day of the 9th lunar calendar month till the 9th day for a total of  nine days.  During this period of time, the devotees will observe a strict vegetarian diet.  However, not all will follow the full nine days vegetarian diet.  Some will go vegetarian for the last day, last 3 days, last 6 days while some will follow for 10 days.  It all depends on each individual. 
    It's celebrated for the spirits of the Nine Gods to descend upon the earth by possessing spirit mediums and putting them in a trance.  Throughout the festival, many rituals such as skewering and fire walking ceremonies are carried out.    On the last day, the Gods are sent off through a procession leading from the temple to the sea on an 'Emperor Boat' accompanied by many other colourful floats and devotees.
    In Penang, this festival is celebrated on a grand scale.  For myself, I have been following the 9 days vegetarian diet since I was in primary school.  My grandmother used to encourage us to go vegetarian with her and that is how I got into this practice.  
    Since this festival is celebrated on a grand scale by many 'Kew Ong Yeah' temples all over Penang, it is very convenient to buy ready cooked vegetarian food from the vegetarian food outlets or temporary food stalls along the roads nearby the temples.  However, my family prefers home cooked vegetarian dishes which to us are not difficult to prepare.  Moreover, it is also more economical if the whole family is on vegetarian diet.  My family have a separate set of kitchen utensils and crockery to use when preparing the dishes.  Some of the utensils/crockery items are many decades old because we only use it once a year.  Any utensils which have been in contact with meat, fish or anything that has a 'life' cannot be used.  Why, I do not know.  Maybe, the simple reason is just 'religious belief'.
    Several of the temporary vegetarian food stalls along the road 

    Vegetarian food outlet in the vicinity of the temple

    There are numerous vegetarian recipes in my collection but most of the time, I cannot prepare all of them because there are too many for just the 9 days.   Usually, I will select the most preferred and add in some new recipes.  For this year, I will most probably be preparing the following dishes for my family and some friends who are on vegetarian diet.
    Here is a list of dishes which I will probably prepare for this year's festival.  I will avoid using the processed food [such as vegetarian chicken, squids, prawns, kidney, ham, sea cucumber and mutton] as ingredients for preparing these dishes.  I may add other recipes depending on the availability of the ingredients.

    1. Vegetarian Acar [Pickled Vegetables] - can prepare ahead
    2. Vegetarian Goose [Siew Ngoh] - can prepare ahead [my nephew's favorite dish]
    3. Braised Dual Mui Choy with Mushroom
    4. Stir Fry Instant Flat Noodles
    5. Pickled Green Vegetables
    6. Simple Chilli Sauce for Noodles
    7. Stir Fry Mixed Coloured Vegetables
    8. Family Style Loh Han Chai
    9. Fried Tofu with Tau Cheong
    10. Vegetarian Style Popiah Chai [Stir Fry Turnip]
    11. Family Style Mixed Vegetable Curry
    12. Vegetarian Stir Fry Rice Vermicelli [Economy Fried Beehoon]
    13. Red Beans Soup
    14. Vegetarian Potato Curry with Tofu Puffs
    15. Sweet and Sour Vegetarian Tau Pau
    16. Eight Treasure Soup
    17. Sesame Oil Ginger Vegetarian Egg
    Here are some pictures taken at the oldest Nine Emperor Gods Temple in Penang [Hong Kong Street Tao Boo Keong] which is over 100 years old.