Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Cooking Journal 22 - Herbal Chicken Slow Cook Soup

Oh my God! My "part-time lover" (laptop) really give me lots of problem lately, kind of frustrating coz I have difficulty browsing internet and my lover just “hang” himself whenever he likes it.  

Oh no! I gonna need some Chicken herbals soup to strengthen and tonify my brain and body. To me, its kind of painful and irritable when comes to tackle computer problem. My hubby had helped me to reformat the entire system but problems still occur inevitably.

Talking about Chinese Chicken herbals soup, it is one of the best soups that will help those with weak body constitution to strengthen and tonify their body system. Of course it must be used with right proportion of herbs and ingredients. Otherwise, overdosing or under dosing of the herbs will not benefit your health and the former will cause harm to you. It is also crucial on the type of pots that you use to brew the soup. Claypots or ceramic pots are best for brewing soups. Stainless steel pot can be used but not on metal or aluminium pots. Some herbs might react with the metal pot therefore; reduce the effectiveness of the herbs and your effort will be wasted.

My Ingredients:

The dry ingredients that I used can be easily obtained from any Chinese Medical hall and some common one like red dates, dry mushroom, wolfberries can be easily purchased at any supermarket.  Here are some basic introductions of the ingredients/herbs that are used for my Chicken Soup:

Chicken meats are rich in proteins, fats, Vitamin A, B, C and D. However, it is important to remove any excess skin before cooking to reduce the fats and cholesterol contents will give you a clear and less oily soup base. It is preferably to use kampong chicken as it is less fatty and using whole chicken will also retain its rich flavour and moisture at tip top quality.

Dry Scallops (乾瑤柱):  contains vitamin B12, Magnesium, Selenium, Protein, Fat, Calories. It is often use to add flavour and sweetness to the soup and is good for improving your immunity.   

Dry Chinese Mushrooms (Shiitake): High in protein, low in fat, Vitamin B2, help to treat cold, flu, stimulate immune system, fight against infection and suppress cancer cells spreading. It is also good for adding flavour to your soup. 

Dry Huai Shan (淮山) also known as Chinese Wild Yam or Shan Yao (山药):  Has neutral property. It helps to nourish the spleen and stomach and strengthen the kidneys and lung. It has the ability to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, promote fluid secretion and clear urine protein, stops diarrhea, cure cough and reduce phlegm and thirst and can be used to strengthen those with weak body constitution.

Dry Yu Zhu (玉竹): With cooling effect that helps to tonify yin, boost internal fluids level, balance heatiness, contains Vitamin A which is good for skin as it helps to moisten skin dryness, ability to nourish your dry lung and strengthen your stomach, relieve dry cough, dry throat and thirst. But people who have loose stools, spleen deficiency, stomach deficiency, phlegm stagnation is not suitable and is best to consult your physician before consume.

American Ginseng (西洋参) : It tastes bitter and has cooling effect that is capable to promote production of body fluids, reduce heat in the body, moisten the lung and boost the body’s collagen levels. It also can reduce dry and thirsty mouth and throat, boost energy (reduce fatigue) and boost immune system, relieve menopause symptom for woman, regulates blood sugar level and effective for treating diabetes, calm the brain, boost the heart. It helps to harmonize your entire body system and maintain healthy function of spleen, stomach, heart, brain and nervous system. Avoid taking carrot, radish and tea if you are taking American Ginseng. This will reduce the effectiveness of the herb.

Chinese Almonds (杏仁) : They are two types often known as Southern (南杏) and Northern (北杏) Chinese almonds.  The former is larger in size and sweeter whereas the latter is more aromatic and bitter.  Northern is more beneficial than southern and is often used in soup to smooth inflammation in lungs, treat cough, calm wheezing, moisten intestines and unblocks bowels. It is effective for clearing the airways in lung and smooth breathing.  

Red dates (红枣) : It is rich in Vitamin A, B2, C and E, minerals such as phosphorus, calcium and iron. It helps to reinforce the blood-building function of heart, strengthen body immune system and is often use as a sweetener in the soup.

Wolfberries (枸杞子) : It contains essential amino acids, vitamin C and B2, iron, potassium, zinc, selenium, phosphorous, calcium and germanium and also with small amount of vitamin E, dietary fiber and proteins. Is good for curing giddiness, cough, thirst and reduce heat in the body. It can tonify your kidney and liver, nourish your lung and improve vision. With the sweet taste, it is often use as a sweetener in the soup.


  1. 1 Kampong Chicken (whole)
  2. 4 pieces Medium Dry Scallop
  3. 3 pieces Dry Mushroom
  4. 4 slices Dry Huai Shan
  5. 20g Dry Yu Zhu
  6. 2 slices Ginger
  7. 2 tablespoon American Ginseng
  8. 1 tablespoon Wolfberries
  9. 6 pieces Red Dates
  10. 1.6 litres of water

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hong Guo (红锅) @ Nex Mall

I was hungry and desperately looking for a place to settle my dinner at Nex mall. Most of the eatery in Nex mall seem crowded and worst, some with queue. We happened to pass by this Chinese restaurant in oriental style with red and white decorations. It appeared to be less crowded and a female waitress approached us politely to see if we want to dine in Hong Guo (红锅). So, we decided to try out.

I have not heard of this restaurant and no idea what their specialty was. Then I saw the white wall and menu written with a story of "Cross bridge vermicelli" (过桥米线 ).  The legend of this noodle was originated from Yunnan.

This "Cross bridge vermicelli" comes with an old history about a devoted wife preparing daily meal for her husband, a scholar who always forget his meal when he study hard. One day she accidentally discovered that the top layer of oil from the chicken soup could prolong the soup warmness. She soon adopted this method and improvises a combo-style meal with other ingredients such as vermicelli, vegetables and meat added into the soup. It then becomes very popular in Yunnan and others began to name the dish as “Cross bridge vermicelli” because of her devotion crossing the bridge daily to deliver this heart warming dish for her husband.  

I decided to order their specialty – Zhuang Yuan Mi Xian (状元过桥米线) and share with my kids. The dish is served in a tray contains 15 different kinds of ingredients dished in a sauce plate and with a bowl of hot soup and vermicelli served seperately. The waitress will provide assistant to pour in the ingredients starting from egg and raw and lastly, vermicelli. You can also DIY yourself if you do not requires any assistant. To my surprise, the soup was good and appetizing. 

There's something I need to highlight. You must add pepper in the soup, it really makes a great difference in taste. I choose to opt out pepper in the soup at my 2nd time dining because my kids complaint about the spicy taste when we 1st tried out in the restaurant. Well, the taste of the soup turned out to be alittle bland which is not as tasty as I have had before.

Cross Bridge Vermicelli

Vermicelli waiting to swim in the soup!
Ingredients all queue up for a good shower with the soup....yee pee!

All ingredients dive into the great soupy ocean waiting for me to enjoy... the soup was indeed tasty.

As for my hubby, he choose to try the spicy beef noodles which is quite satisfying. We also order two side dishes which are “Sichuan Saliver chicken” (口水鸡) and the crispy silver fish (盐银针鱼) . The Sichuan Saliver Chicken is a cold dish. The chicken is tender and coated with sichuan style chilli paste and bean sauce. The latter is the deep fried silver fish wrapped up with a layer of golden flour coating. It is also a spicy dish but I requested them not to sprinkler chilli power on it (For the sake of my kids). Both side dishes are indeed delicious and my kids enjoy the silver fish very much!

If you are a 1st timer tasting the Cross Bridge Vermicelli, you might find it quite cute and interesting in term of the food presentation. The food that Hong Guo's served is delicious and not too expensive, say about $8.00+ for noodles and $6.00-$7.00+ for one side dish. In overall, the sevice is good, fast and the staff is responsive and polite. It is worth giving a try! 

Yummy Beef Nooldes

Non Spicy Crispy Silver Fish

Address: 23 Serangoon Central #B1-75 S(556083)
Operating Hours: 11am - 9.30pm

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Cooking Journal 21 - Chinese Style Stir Fry Asparagus With Fresh Squid

Thinking of what kind of well-balanced nutritional veggies to prepare for your kids? Try cooking asparagus which is really a wise choice for all ages and great benefits to weight watchers as asparagus is low in sodium, calories and no cholesterol or fat.

Asparagus is well loaded with fiber, folate, vitamin A, B6, C, K, thiamin and minerals such as phosphorous, selenium, potassium, iron, copper, calcium, manganese and magnesium. This herbaceous plant is also well rich in glutathione that act as a body detoxifyier, super antioxident and immune systems booster.

In all,  the antioxidents present in asparagus helps protect our body from growth of cancerous cells. The vitamins and minerals contents will help to regulate blood sugar level, lower blood pressure, prevent kidney stones and urinary tract infections, enhance growth of immune cells and red blood cells, strengthen capillary walls, neutralize free radicals, reduce aging process and helps to maintain healthy skins and bones.

It is a leading Folic Acid's supplier among any others vegetables (provide 60% of the recommended daily allowance). As Folic acid is well known for helping your body to produce and maintain new blood cells, preventing cause of cancer and helps our brain to fight against cognitive decline. It is specially important for pregant woman in preventing of neural tube defects.

Buy, Selection and Storage:
Asparagus can be thick or thin and comes in three colours: white, green and purple. Usually green is commonly found in local supermarkets or wet markets. For stir fry purpose, I prefer to choose thick asparagus. Choose those that is straight, firm, uniformly sized spears with closed tips and not dried up. It is best to use it within two or three days of purchase. Otherwise you can wrap it up in paper towels or newspaper and stored in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

If you have wash and cut into pieces and decided not to cook instantly, just pat try and store them in a air-tight container and use within 2  or 3 days for best quality. Storing in the air tight container can still maintain it freshness.

Cut off the tough end of the stem and discard. Wash thoroughly, then use a vegetable peeler to deskin the asparagus stem all the way through the lower part. Do not deskin the top part with "leaves". Cut stalks diagonally of about 2 inches length.   

  1. 3 to 4 stalks Asparagus - See above for preparation
  2. 1 piece Squid - Wash, remove membrane, vein, eyes and cut into rectangle slices with diagonal pattern on surface. (refer my cooking journal 4 - method no. 1 if you want to find out how to process the squid) 
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 3 cloves garlic - skin peel and sliced
  5. 3 slices of ginger
  6. 1 teaspoon sesame oil - for marinate of squid
  7. 1 teaspoon fish sauce - for marinate of squid
  8. 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  9. 1 teaspoon of corn flour - for marinate of squid and sauce thickening
  10. pinch of pepper, salt and sugar - to taste 
  11. 2 tablespoon water