Steamed Pork Ribs in Spicy Taucu / Red Spinach with Carrots and White Bait

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My favourite vegetables are the dark green, leafy kind with thin stems. This means that whenever we go to the supermarket to vegetable-shop, I inadvertently choose spinach half the time. I picked up a bunch of Singapore-grown (support local businesses!) red spinach one evening for dinner, and stir-fried it with thinly-sliced carrots and a couple of tablespoons of white bait that my mom gave me.

The meat dish for the evening was steamed pork ribs. I wanted to make bak kut teh with the ribs, but C requested for something else because he already had bak kut teh at lunch the day before. We decided to try steaming it with something salty, and I added the red chilli for extra kick. It turned out really good!

Steamed Pork Ribs in Spicy Taucu
Serves 2-3

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10 pieces pork ribs
2 tbsp taucu (fermented yellow bean)
1 red chilli, sliced, to taste
1/2 tsp salt

Prepare your steaming vessel. I use a pot, fill it with two inches of water, place a metal rack inside, and finally the plate with the pork ribs will go on top of the rack.
Using a heat-safe plate, arrange the pork ribs evenly.
Sprinkle the salt over the ribs.
Distribute the taucu evenly over the dish.
Arrange the sliced chilli over the dish. You can use less chilli if you prefer. I used 3/4 of a large red chilli.
Once the water in your steaming vessel is boiling, carefully place the plate inside and cover the pot with a lid. Steam for 20 mins or until pork is cooked through. Serve hot.

Note: You can leave out the chilli at first, and only add it to the dish in the last 10 minutes of steaming. The sauce will have more sweetness from the pork ribs and less chilli taste.

Red Spinach with Carrots and White Bait
Serves 2-3

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200-250g red spinach
1 small carrot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp white bait, washed and drained dry (I soaked mine for 10 mins and it became very bland. I wouldn’t soak it the next time)
1 tbsp cooking oil (I used canola)
1 tsp salt
40ml water

Wash the spinach well and cut the stems into 4cm lengths. The leaves can be left whole.
In a wok, heat the oil. Add the sliced carrots and stir fry for 1 minute.
Add the white bait and stir fry until some turn lightly golden brown.
Add the minced garlic and stir fry for another 30 seconds.
Add the spinach and the salt. Stir fry until the spinach is slightly wilted.
Add the water and cover the wok. Let the spinach cook for 1 minute.
Remove the lid, give the spinach a final stir through and serve.

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French Baguette

I’ve been on a bread-making kick recently.

After failing at my first milk loaf that sparked off the creation of this blog, I successfully made a second loaf (it really is very soft!), and modified the recipe to make a raisin milk loaf (edible, very nice when toasted, but not as soft — gotta work on that). I also attempted a French bread recipe, which, again, looked promising, but was a disappointment after I sliced into it.

Out of these four loaves, two went into bellies, and two went straight to the bin… I’d hardly say that a success rate of 50 per cent is anything to be proud of. But then again, who’s stopping me from improving that number?

C’s away for a couple of days so here I go again – the fifth loaf of my renewed bread-making adventure, my second attempt at French bread.

This recipe from My Singapore Kitchen caught my eye. I followed it as is, minus the optional wheat bran. But I found that I had to add a bit more water (despite not using the wheat bran), because my dough was so dry it was just getting pushed around the mixer bowl and not adhering to the dough hook at all.

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French Baguette (slightly adapted from My Singapore Kitchen)
Makes 2 loaves

300g all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp instant yeast
220ml water
10g salted butter

Mix all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer except butter.
Knead to form dough.
Add butter and knead to form smooth and elastic dough.
Let it rise for 45 minutes.
Divide the dough into two.
Flatten the dough and make them into stick shapes around 30 cm long, by rolling them up from the long end, swiss-roll style. Make sure to pinch all the seams tightly closed.
Leave them to proof for 30 minutes.
Brush or sprinkle them with water and slash the top with a sharp knife 3 or 4 times.
Bake at 220C for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

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Verdict?

It turned out pretty well! I doubt that my method is in anyway authentic, but it did taste good. I used the muffin tin trick from The Kitchn to get my oven all steamed up before baking, and also spritzed water over the loaves before sliding them into the oven.

I was too excited and couldn’t wait for the bread to cool fully before slicing, so I broke one end off after about half an hour. That end went into my mouth right after I took a picture. The crust was crisp and the inside soft and slightly chewy. It was so good warm!

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One of the loaves is now wrapped tight and sitting in the freezer, waiting for the weekend when I can share it with C. Half of the other loaf got slathered with salted butter and is headed to my belly.

Easy Curry Chicken

Curry chicken has almost become a go-to staple for large group gatherings in Singapore. It is essentially a one-pot dish, and can be served directly in the pot, making for very little wash up. There are plenty of “extras” that you can to this dish, depending on preferences. The staples are chicken and potatoes. I added taupok. My mother-in-law likes to add taupok and fishballs (C’s favourite). Others add vegetables like lady’s fingers and tomatoes to make it a one-pot complete meal for dinner.

I made this because C and I hosted a mid-autumn festival + mini-housewarming gathering for a bunch of his close secondary school mates and a few of their partners. It really is heartwarming to see how the group has grown from a group of six 13-year-old boys to 29-year-old men, and how their gatherings are slowly growing in size too, with partners joining in (including me). I’ve been crashing their gatherings since about seven years ago – they’re always fun, funny, and sometimes I get a little secretly jealous that his friends are more fun than my friends… haha!

Back to the curry chicken – this is my second time adapting NoobCook’s recipe for 10 pax, and I have to say that it really is easy! I have adapted it to make it even simpler because… why not? It is still really tasty and pretty fool proof.

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The original recipe can be found here, and my adapted recipe is as follows.

Easy Curry Chicken
Serves 10

2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 packets A1 instant curry chicken sauce
1000ml water
3 stalks lemongrass, remove tough outer leaves and woody portions, gently crush to release flavour
1kg mid-joint chicken wings, defrost if frozen
5 large Indonesian potatoes, peeled and cut into large bite-sized pieces
400ml coconut cream
10 pieces taupok, each cut into half

In a large pot, heat the oil and fry the onion until lightly browned. Add curry sauce and stir fry until fragrant.
Add water, lemongrass, and chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Add potatoes and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are soft.
Reduce heat, stir in the coconut cream and warm the curry. Season with chilli powder and salt to taste if necessary (I didn’t add any. It was spicy and salty enough for me!)
Serve with warm rice and/or sliced baguette.

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I had some leftovers and C’s friends suggested using their mothers’ method of storing the curry overnight. Boil the curry on the stove, cover with lid, and leave it at room temperature until ready to eat the next day. Once the curry is boiled, don’t stir or disturb it in any way.

We used that method, and had the leftovers for lunch the next day. It tasted just as good and… nothing untoward happened to our bellies. We were doubtful since all our instincts were screaming to put it in the fridge but YES, this method works!