Vegetarian Mock Duck Stir Fry

Vegetarian Mock Duck Stir Fry
I love gluten 'meat' that Chinese Buddhists use to cook their varied vegetarian dishes. I have never tried making gluten myself, but I understand it is quite labour intensive to make, and it takes a lot of high protein wheat flour to make just a little chunk of gluten meat, hence the price of it is usually rather expensive.

I first learnt about this canned Mock Duck product years ago from my university classmate who, surprisingly, is a Sikh girl from Singapore. I didn't even know that non-Chinese/Buddhist people used gluten 'meat' in their dishes. One day, I was at her apartment helping her prepare lunch and she showed me how her grandma made a quick and simple stir fry with a little can of vegetarian gluten 'meat' and an onion as main ingredients, then flavoured with a bit of chilli sauce and soy sauce. Since then, I have often cooked this dish, changing and adapting ingredients, to evolve it to what is now one of our favourite 'fall back' dishes when I don't have much time to cook, or not much fresh vegetables in the fridge to cook with. But just like baked beans, I always have a couple of cans of mock duck in my pantry, and onions/garlic in the drawer.

The brand for this gluten 'meat' is Wu Chung, produced in Taiwan. I have not seen other brands of similar vegetarian mock duck. A 280gm sized can usually costs anything between A$1.60 to A$2.90 depending on where you buy it from.

This brand also has a few other flavours of vegetarian gluten 'meats'. I have tried using their Mock Chicken 'meat' too to make this dish. They are interchangeable if you can't find the Mock Duck, but I still prefer to use their Mock Duck :).

I also sometimes replace the sambal oelek/chilli garlic/siracha sauce with curry and turmeric powders just for a little taste variation. Can't help it, it is the Malaysian in me lol. Both variations are yummy!

By the way, the only Sambal Oelek, Chilli Garlic, and Siracha sauces I use is the Huy Fong brand from the USA - http://www.huyfong.com/ - they are the best chilli/dipping sauces on the market. My suggestion is don't bother with any other brand!! They are widely available in major supermarkets, although they are usually quite a bit cheaper from Asian grocers.

Vegetarian Mock Duck Stir Fry

1 can 280gm mock duck (drained, sliced thinly)
1 large onion (peeled, sliced thinly)
2 cloves garlic (peeled, minced)
3 tablespoons neutral flavoured oil (do not use olive oil)
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon thick soy sauce (cooking caramel)
1 teaspoon garlic chilli or sambal oelek sauce **(see notes to vary this ingredient)
1/4 cup water

  1. Heat oil in wok or pan, and saute onions and garlic over medium high heat till onions start to slightly brown. 
  2. Add garlic chilli sauce**, saute another 30 seconds.
  3. Add sliced mock duck, light soy sauce, and thick soy sauce. Saute for a minute, then add water and let simmer a bit till sauce dries up and thickens. Dish up, garnish with chopped spring onions and coriander if desired. 
  4. Serve with steamed rice.


**Notes:

For another yummy taste variation, substitute the chilli sauce with following :-

  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder


Air Fryer Roast Chicken

It is not often that I would cook a whole chicken. I usually prefer using chicken pieces, so much more easier to control.

But whole chicken was on special this week in Coles at $2.90/kg and we had an unopened bottle of Costco wing and rib marinade sauce in the pantry, so hubby said why not do a roast chicken in the air fryer, and he can use any leftover to make sandwiches for lunch. Oh well, ok.



Here's what I did...
1 whole chicken (approximately 2.2kg)
1/2 cup Yoshida Spicy Wing & Rib Sauce
1-2 tablespoon oil
  1. Wash and butterfly the chicken by removing the back bone. Pat dry, and put chicken into a large freezer bag.
  2. Pour marinade sauce over chicken and massage to cover the whole chicken with sauce.
  3. Secure bag, place in a large bowl, and leave in fridge overnight.
  4. To cook, place chicken skin side up in air fryer basket (keep aside any excess marinade sauce). Drizzle some oil over chicken and cook at 160C in the air fryer (rough cooking time is about 20 minutes per kilogram of chicken).
  5. I flipped chicken after the first 20 minutes, drizzled some leftover marinade on it, and cooked for another 20 minutes
  6. Then flipped it back, drizzled remainder marinade on it, and continued to cook until it was done. Watch it though, cos the sugar content in this marinade sauce can cause it to brown quicker than you'd expect - cover with foil if it browns too much. Overall my chicken took nearly 55 minutes for me to be happy that it was fully cooked.
  7. I served this with a simple potato salad.

Home Cooking ~~ How Different Is It?

So have you ever wondered what we Malaysian Chinese actually serve up at home for meals? 
 
Do we really eat Sweet & Sour Pork, Lemon Chicken, Mongolian Beef, Satay or Honey Chicken like what 'Chinese' restaurants or those little 'Asian' foodcourt outlets sell? The answer is NO, we very seldom, if at all, cook those sort of dishes at home. In fact, traditional home-cooked dishes are almost nothing like what you'd find on the menus of 'Chinese' or 'Asian' restaurants in Australia. I have not seen any dish in all the restaurants I have been that is similar to what I cook at home - which sometimes may be a 'good' thing as I can order something that I won't cook at home!
Curry Noodles

In a restaurant kitchen environment, by virtue of how they have to cook dishes to order within a very short time, they need to prepare tubs of different 'sauces' beforehand so they can very quickly 'mix' sauces into whatever combination of meat and vegetables to make up dishes like Mongolian or Black Bean whatever. And in most busy restaurants, even the battered pieces of meat for, say, Sweet & Sour Pork, or Lemon Chicken are most probably pre-fried during prep time. A serving amount would then be re-fried quickly to crisp them up, and cooked in whatever sauce needed with whatever pre-cut vegetables that go with that dish, then served. It is just not possible for the kitchen to prep each and every sauce and dish individually from scratch within the limited time frame for an order to go out.

At home, we don't (or at least, I don't) use those bottled, sugar and salt laden 'simmer' sauces like sweet/sour sauce, or satay sauce where all you need is add meat/vegetables, simmer and serve.

Choy Sum and Chicken Stir Fry
However, commercially available pastes like fermented bean paste, black bean paste, miso, etc, and sauces like soy sauce, oyster sauce, etc, are widely used by virtue that they take can months of proper fermentation to produce, so they are not something a normal household can (or would) make from scratch. However, only small amounts of such pastes and sauces are used as a base flavour in a dish. Other flavour profiles are added with the use of aromatics such as garlic, onions, other seasonings, spices or herbs.

Below are pictures of some dishes that I cook and serve at home - some traditional, and some I adapted or invented. Most stir fries are cooked on the stove top using a wok as that is the best method for stir fries. However, I do adapt certain dishes to be cooked with the help of an air fryer and/or a thermo cooker if I believe the results will be just as good using these modern appliances.

I have shared home cooked dishes in previous posts, and plan to share more of them going forward. Some dishes may have familiar names like Mapo Tofu (but adapted using ingredients we like), some may have super weird names that I grew up knowing them as, and some I simply name them myself lol.

Braised Vegetarian Dish

Vegetarian Mock Duck Stir Fry

Crispy Skin Salmon with Spring Onion Sauce 

Braised Pork Ribs with Pumpkin and Potatoes

Steamed Eggs
Stuffed Bitter Melon

Apple and Mince Pork Stir Fry  

Noodle Soup

Rice Congee



Air Frying

Until about 2 years ago, I had no idea how air fryers would work or fit into my style of cooking. Then I happened to read an article someone wrote about air fryers and I started to research into them. For months I dilly-dallied on getting one, not because they were expensive, but more because I didn't want a white elephant gadget that won't get used. Then I found out that there are actually Facebook groups of air fryer enthusiasts, so I joined an Australia one and quickly got totally convinced to get one 😊. One important thing to note is that an air fryer is not about completely oil free cooking as it still needs a little oil applied to certain foods to achieve the colour of 'fried' food. But it sure is a whole lot better, healthier and cleaner way of cooking than deep frying in oil!

Rank Arena 4L Air Fryer
My first air fryer was the Rank Arena 4-litre unit (which is now obsolete). It looks like a mini jukebox, and actually works like a mini oven with a drop-down door and pull out separate basket and tray. It was a good introduction to air frying for me. After 1.5 years of this little unit working faithfully, I found out from various people in the air fryer Facebook community who owned the same unit that theirs were running at lower temperature than what the settings show. I tested mine then and unfortunately, found that mine also had the same issues. It was running nearly 30C lower than set temperatures. Hmmm, maybe that was why I only managed to get leather when trying to make roast pork with good crackling....
Kitchen Chef 5.5L Air Fryer

I then considered whether I wanted to get a replacement unit, and as luck would have it, there was a new larger unit that just came onto the market and the brand had good reviews from existing users. Better still, it was on special at about $100, so I bit the bullet and got the Kitchen Chef 5.5-litre unit.

So now I have 2 air fryers! Crazy! It was interesting comparing these units. The Kitchen Chef is so much more powerful than the Rank Arena, both in the fan power and the temperature.

The Kitchen Chef sits on my kitchen bench, and the Rank Arena is now stored in the laundry and only plugged in when I need to cook something very light that is likely to be sucked into the heating element of the Kitchen Chef with its more powerful fan. The good thing about the Rank Arena is that there is a grill that protects the heating element so nothing can fly into it. And with that very grill in place, it must be the reason why its fan is less powerful compared to other units - because the grill is blocking some of the air flow. But there is no excuse for its temperature settings being so inaccurate. Maybe it is time to dispose of it....

Here are just some of the things that I have cooked in both these air fryers, at least things that I actually remembered to take pictures of. As well as cooking, the one thing that an air fryer absolutely excels in is heating up stuff, especially deep fried stuff that's battered or crumbed, as the powerful fan actually 'removes' excess oil from the food as it heats/cooks the food. To heat quick snacks that usually needs an oven or deep-fryer, nothing can beat an air fryer. By the time an oven or a pot of oil take to heat up, the air fryer would have finished re-heating or cooking the snacks.



Pumpkin with Dried Shrimps Stir Fry

Stir fried butternut pumpkin
I cannot remember my mum ever cooking pumpkin. In fact, I cannot remember ever eating pumpkin in Malaysia.

The first time I ate pumpkin was in Australia at a friend's Christmas lunch where she served Kent pumpkin pieces roasted with skin on. It was so yum, even the skin! When my parents visited me in Australia many years ago, I decided to make that roasted Kent pumpkin the way my friend did for them to try. I could see they liked it, even though they wouldn't eat the roasted skin, lol.

I have since used pumpkin often in my cooking. I love pumpkin soup served with garlic bread. I have successfully adapted a savoury steamed cake to use pumpkin instead of taro.

And I created this pumpkin stir-fry using an ingredient that is familiar to me - dried shrimps **(see notes) - that pairs very well with the sweetness of pumpkin. Dried shrimps may be a bit funky to the Western palate, but if used well, it imparts an umami flavour to a dish and is really delish. I plan to make this dish with an ingredient substitution for dried shrimps soon, so stay tuned.

This dish can also be made 'vegetarian' by omitting the dried shrimps, or replacing them with TVP mince, and using a vegetarian oyster sauce.

The vibrant colour of this dish pops on the table, and is a delicious accompaniment for steamed rice.

Stir fried Kent pumpkin

Pumpkin with Dried Shrimps Stir Fry

Approx. 800 gm pumpkin, peeled and deseeded
1 tablespoon dried shrimp skins** (see notes)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
3 to 4 tablespoons neutral flavour oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 to 1 cup water
salt to taste

For garnish:
Chopped spring onions or toasted sesame seeds

  1. If using dried shrimp skins** - rinse and drain them.
    If using dried shrimps/prawns** - soak in some boiling water for 10 minutes, drain and chop/mince finely.
  2. Cut pumpkin into thick batons (like thickness of thick cut chips).
  3. Heat oil in wok over medium high heat.
  4. Add minced garlic, saute for about 20-30 seconds. Then add prepared dried shrimps and saute till it is fragrant and start to turn light golden brown.
  5. Add pumpkin, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, and about 1/2 cup water. Mix, cover wok and cook using medium heat.
  6. Give it a stir after a couple of minutes, adding a bit more water if needed. Taste and add some salt to taste if required. Cover again and continue to cook till pumpkin is just cooked thru but not mushy. Add a bit more water if pumpkin needs longer cooking time and water dries up.
  7. Garnish with chopped spring onions and/or roasted sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice.

**Notes:
There are 2 types of dried shrimps that I normally use.

Dried shrimps/prawns
These are dried prawns which can come in varying sizes, usually the smaller they are, the cheaper. They have to be soaked for about 10 minutes to soften before using and they usually need to be chopped or minced.
Dried shrimp skins
These are very small (and light) dried shrimps that are almost transparent and look like prawn shells (skins). They are a lot quicker and easier to use. Just rinse them, drain and use immediately. Very useful for quick stir fries. I also like to stir fry them with a little oil until they are crispy, then use as a quick garnish/sprinkle over steamed dishes, and even fried rice.

How to Cook Coconut Rice in the KitchenAid Cook Processor

COCONUT RICE is very yummy served with cooked sambal or a variety of curries. It is the rice that is used in Malaysia's national dish - Nasi Lemak.

Cooking coconut rice is as easy as cooking plain rice, with just the addition or substitution of a couple of ingredients.

I always cook rice in my faithful rice cooker which uses the absorption method. But it is easy enough to adapt this method using the KitchenAid Cook Processor (KACP). Please refer to my post here on how to cook rice in the KACP.

Here are instructions to cook coconut rice using 2 cups long or short grain white rice.


Ingredients
Long or short grain rice
Coconut milk
Water
Salt
Pandan leaf (optional if you can't find it, but highly recommended to include)
  1. Insert the stir assist blade into main bowl.
  2. Add washed rice.
  3. Liquid needed will roughly consist equal amounts of water and coconut milk. So add coconut milk to just cover the rice, then top up with sufficient water per the instructions here.
  4. Add 1 tsp salt, 1 pandan leaf (cut into approx 10cm lengths).
  5. Then start the cook WITHOUT any speed setting.
  6. When liquid is boiling, press the quick stir button a couple of times so that any coconut milk solids that has risen to the top is mixed back into the liquid. Then leave the rice to finish cooking.
  7. Fluff hot/cooked rice with a pair of chopsticks and remove pandan leaf before serving.
NOTES:
  • Did you know that using a 50:50 combination of long grain and short grain white rice produces great and delicious textured cooked rice? This is a secret some restaurants use.

How to Cook Rice in the KitchenAid Cook Processor

Being a member of a KitchenAid Cook Processor (KACP) group in Facebook, I saw many questions on whether it was possible to properly cook rice in their machines. A recipe KitchenAid originally published mostly didn't work as the rice ended up too wet and gluggy.

So I decided to help out and test how my KACP can cook rice using the absorption method as that is my preferred method to cook rice. The great thing about the KACP is that it works without any blade. So I thought I'd just treat the KACP like a rice cooker.

You are not going to like me very much when you see how I measure rice/water ratio but that is the way I have always done it and it has never failed me.

However, you must also know that certain types of rice need slightly different ratios. For example, as a general rule, jasmine/white rice cannot have too much water so the ratio I have in the graphic here will work. I only use Basmati rice at home and this type needs slightly more water than normal, same goes for brown rice.

And the most important thing in my book is that whatever type of rice you use, you MUST wash the rice, non-negotiable.

Here are instructions to cook 2 cups of raw long or short grain white rice.

  1. Wash and rinse 2 cups of long grain or short grain rice at least three times till water runs almost clear.
  2. Put washed rice and enough water (see rice/water ratio instructions above) into KACP main bowl (no blade) and measuring cup loosely in for some steam to escape.
  3. Set temperature at 85C, time at 20 minutes, and press Start.
  4. After the cook duration, DO NOT open the lid. Just leave it alone for a minimum of 10 minutes, then you can open lid and fluff the rice with a fork or a pair of chopsticks. The resting time allows rice to complete cooking and actually prevents rice from sticking to the pot, and applies even if one is cooking in a rice cooker.
  
NOTES:

  • Did you know that using a 50:50 combination of long grain and short grain white rice produces great and delicious textured cooked rice. This is a secret some restaurants use ;)
  • For a multi-layer cooking option, you can steam some vegetables while the rice cooks by using the internal steaming basket only as you must have the lid on to cook rice properly.
  • I do not recommend steaming meat as the temperature and duration of this may not be enough to properly cook meat.

Potato & Leek Soup, with Garlic Brioche

OMG, Melbourne has been absolutely freezing this week, and we are just into the beginning of winter. Come on summer, can't wait for you to return!!

We got two lovely bunches of leek on Sunday and since there is too much for just one dish, I decided to split them into two dishes - the green parts to make soup, and the white parts for a stir fry later this week. So my potato and leek soup is not the traditional pale colour but it is nonetheless very yummy, with a more intense leek flavour than normal which I actually like lol.

I had only made Western style soup once in my life and I swore I would not make such soup again cos my kitchen resembled a war zone when I finished. Pots, bowls, blender, etc etc. So messy, and so much washing lol. But now using my KitchenAid Cook Processor (KACP), soup is one of the easiest things to make in this machine. Everything done in the single pot.

I didn't really follow any recipe proportions, just went with whatever I had. So here's what I did.

Potato and Leek Soup

5 medium potatoes (peeled, washed, and cut into rough chunks)
Green part of 6 medium leeks (halved lengthwise, washed thoroughly and cut into rough chunks)
1 large brown onion (optional) (peeled and quartered)
1 to 2 tablespoons chicken or vegetable stock powder
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
3 tablespoons oil
3 cups water
1 cup milk
salt to taste

  1. Insert MultiBlade into KACP main bowl. Add onion and leeks. Pulse a couple of times to roughly chop. Scrape bowl.
  2. Add oil. Select Program Fry P1, measuring cup out, press Start.
  3. At the end of program, add chicken stock, ground pepper and water. Select Program Boil P1, measuring cup in, press Start.
  4. At the end of program, take out measuring cup and loosely place it slanting across the hole in the lid. Then very slowly over the space of approximately 30 seconds, increase the speed from 0 to 10 to puree the soup. I ran machine at speed 10 for about one minute.
  5. Then add milk, and if required, more water to get the soup consistency you desire. Adjust taste with salt if required.
  6. Replace measuring cup, set Temp at 110C (no speed) to bring soup back to boil. Serve hot with garlic brioche/bread.

Garlic Brioche

5 garlic cloves (peeled and minced)
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
large pinch of salt
1 loaf Brioche (I used Aldi's French Classic Brioche loaf)

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Mix all ingredients except brioche. Spread garlic butter onto brioche slices.
  3. Toast brioche in oven till lightly golden brown and serve with soup.
  4. I toasted brioche using my air fryer.



Olive Focaccia

Freshly baked Focaccia with Pumpkin Soup
I was browsing thru one of my favourite blogs - The Pioneer Woman - and happened on her yummy looking Olive Focaccia recipe and decided on the spur of the moment to make it using my KitchenAid Cook Processor (CP) as I had all the ingredients in the house. I also had a butternet pumpkin that I could turn into soup to go with this focaccia.

This is best eaten fresh out of the oven, beautifully crusty on the outside, and warm fluffy and slightly stretchy on the inside. We had one leftover which I froze when it was lukewarm. I thawed and reheated it loosely wrapped in foil in my air fryer two days later and it was nice and crusty but the inside was not as fluffy. I put it down to recipe not using any bread improver and that is not really a bad thing.

I did a little bit of tweaking to adapt recipe to be made in my CP. I did proof the dough outside the CP dough program as I needed CP to make my pumpkin soup. I just put a cup of boiling water into a glass bowl for a few minutes to warm it up, then wipe bowl dry, put a teaspoon of oil in bowl, put the dough in and turn it to coat with oil, cover with clingwrap and a clean dry teatowel on top of clingwrap, and left it in a warm toasty oven (switched off) to proof for about an hour.
Focaccia fresh out of the oven
Crusty, soft and fluffy


Chicken and Potato Curry ... Malaysian Style

Beautiful skinless chicken thigh fillets on the bone is on special offer this week at our local supermarket so hubby came back with two large packs for only $9 and asked for his favourite - chicken curry with potatoes.

We have all the ingredients needed in the garden and in the pantry. There is nothing like fresh chillies, lemon grass, curry leaves, onion, garlic, ginger plus all the required dry spices to produce a rich, fragrant, yummy curry.

Everything was prepped and cooked from scratch. There were 10 large pieces of thigh fillets which I cut into 3 more manageable sizes, 3 large potatoes cut into chunks, and my large wok was about full.

Note:
I added half a cup of fried shallots (commercially bought) to this batch for extra flavour.