Sweet Tofu, Barley and Ginkgo Dessert Soup

Sweet Tofu, Barley and Ginkgo Dessert Soup (白果薏米甜汤)。

This dessert is a traditional Chinese dessert, popular in Asia especially in Hongkong, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia.  It makes an excellent dessert choice during Summer, as it has cooling properties. Personally, I love making this dessert during Chinese New Year and eat it on the first day of Chinese New Year in the morning as the first food to symbolize “sweet beginning” to a New year.  My family tradition.

sweet tofu and ginkgo dessert

Sweet Tofu, Barley and Ginkgo Dessert Soup (白果薏米甜汤)

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Dried pearl barley, about 1/2 cup (increase or decrease quantity to your preference of the thickness of soup)
3l of water
dried tofu skin (flat type), about 1 oz (increase or decrease quantity to your preference)
a handful of fresh ginkgo (remove the bitter core in the middle if any)
1 egg white, lightly beaten
handful of rock sugar


(1)  In a pot, combine the barley and water and bring it to a boil.  Simmer for 15 minutes or till the barley turns soft and translucent.  You can add more water if preferred.

(2)  Rinse the tofu skin and tear them into bite size.

(3)  Add the tofu skin, ginkgo and rock sugar.  Simmer for 10 more minutes, uncovered.

(4)  Slowly drizzle egg white into the pot, and stir gently.

(5)  Serve hot or cold.

Szechuan Mapo Tofu (四川麻婆豆腐)

Szechuan Mapo Tofu

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 cup minced pork (marinate with 1 tsp cornstarch, 1 tsp soy sauce and 1 tsp white pepper)
  • 1 block firm beancurd, cut into 2 inches cubes
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 stalks of green onion, minced (separate white and green part)
  • 1 tbsp minced red chillies
  • 1 tsp szechuan spice powder
  • 1 tbsp red hot chillies oil
  • 1 tbsp hot bean paste
  • 1 tsp szechuan peppercorn (stir fry 1 tsp peppercorn in oil, and remove.  Crushed into fine powder)
  • Sauce ingredients:  1 cup chicken stock, 2 tsp black vinegar, 1 tbsp rice wine, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp white pepper, 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Cornstarch mixture, mix 1/2 tbsp cornstarch with 2 tbsp water


  1. Marinate minced pork and set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in wok.  Add minced pork, and stir fry till browned.  Keep breaking the pork into small pieces with spatula.
  3. Push pork aside, and add minced garlic, ginger and white part of green onion.  Stir fry till fragrant.
  4. Combine the pork together, and stir fry for 1 minute.
  5. Add hot bean paste and szechuan spice powder.  Stir fry to combine.
  6. Add all sauce ingredients and bring it to a boil.
  7. Add tofu and red hot chillies oil.  Stir fry gently till it is boiling.
  8. Drizzle with cornstarch mixture, and stir till mixture thickened. 
  9. Sprinkle with crushed peppercorn and green part of green onion.
  10. Serve hot and enjoy!


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Singapore Curry Chicken

Singapore curry chicken

Singapore Curry Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 2hrs
  • Difficulty: medium
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  • 1 whole chicken, chopped into chunk pieces (or few packets of chicken meat) about 1.5 lb
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp meat curry powder
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 yellow onion, quartered
 Curry paste ingredients
  • 7 shallots, peeled
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 3 thick slices of fresh ginger
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 10 dried red chili, seeds removed and soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
  • 4 Thai chili (optional) Add for extra spicy
  • 4 candlenuts


    1. Marinate chicken pieces with 2 tsp salt and 1 tbsp sugar. Set aside for 30 minutes.
    2. Optional:  Fry potatoes till golden brown.  Drain and set aside.  I skipped this step for healthier version.
    3. Blend all curry paste ingredient till smooth.  Add vegetable oil for easy blending.
    4. Heat 1 tbsp oil in wok.  Add curry paste and cook under medium low fire for 20 minutes.  Keep stirring the paste with wooden spoon while cooking.
    5. Add 2 tbsp of coconut milk to avoid paste from getting burnt.
    6. Add lemon grass and curry powder, and cook for another 10 minutes.  The mixture should turn darker in color by now.
    7. Add chicken pieces and stir to coat evenly.  Increase heat to medium, and cook the chicken for 5 minutes.
    8. Add coconut milk, potatoes and onion.  Cook for 20 minutes under medium heat, and keep stirring!
    9. Season with 1 tsp soy sauce or fish sauce, 1/2 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp salt.  Adjust to own taste.
    10. Sprinkle with crispy shallots, and serve warm with rice or bread.


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Fish Balls (Homemade Fish paste)


Fish Balls

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 2hr
  • Difficulty: medium
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Recommended type of Fish

–  Milkfish (虱目魚)

– Swordfish (旗魚)
Avoid fish that are high in fat content and/or flaky meat texture. 
6 important tips in making fish paste:
(1)  Add starch that bind the fish meat.
(2)  Add the right type of starch flour, such as Tapioca flour. 
(3)  Add ground pork, not only to make smooth paste but also to bind the paste together.
(4)  Secret ingredient!  Crushed ice. 
(5)  Slap the fish paste dough in a metal bowl till the paste become springy. 
(6)  Use simmering water to cook the fish balls (not hard boiling water). 
  •  Minced fish meat (about 300 gm)
  • 30g minced pork
  • 50g sweet potato starch powder
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice (adjust accordingly)  *Do not add too much ice, as it will affect the taste and texture of fish paste*
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
  1. Put all ingredients in a food processor.  Blend until the mixture is smooth. 
  2. Form the fish balls by scooping the fish paste with mini ice cream scoop or by hand.  If using hand, scoop out some fish paste in one hand and squeezing it between your index finger and thumb.  With a spoon in the other hand, scoop the mixture into a ball then drop it into a bowl of salted water.  Leave the fish balls in the salted water for 1 hour.  Drain and discard the water.
  3. Boil water or stock in a saucepan, lower heat to a simmer, and add the fish balls.  Cook the fish balls till it floats. Store the cooked fish balls in an airtight container, and store them in fridge or freezer.



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Milk and Raisin Steamed buns (牛奶葡萄干馒头)

Milk and Raisin Steamed buns

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 2hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: medium
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  • 2 tbsp water
  • 5g Instant Yeast
  • 1 tsp plain flour
  • 50g sugar

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl and rest for 5 minutes.

  • 500g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 250g milk (room temperature)
  • 30g vegetable oil
  • 100g dried raisins


  1. Place flour and salt in a mixing bowl.  Make a well in the center.  Pour in the yeast mixture (except vegetable oil and raisins), and mix well with hand.  Slowly add in the milk by tablespoon (do not pour everything at once) and use your fingers to form a ragged, soft mass.  Add in the vegetable oil and knead into a dough.  Transfer to a work surface and knead for 5 minutes.
  2. Using your palm, knead for 8 minutes or till the dough is no longer sticky, smooth, soft and a bit elastic. When pressed with a finger, the dough should spring back with a faint indentation remaining.
  3. Smear a little oil in a clean bowl and put the dough in it.  Cover with kitchen towel or plastic wrap and put it in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes or nearly doubled.
  4. Use a knife, divide the dough into 4 equal parts.  With a rolling pin, lightly roll out each dough into thin oval.  Sprinkle some raisins on top, roll from the bottom to up and shape into oval shape.
  5. Place individual buns onto parchment paper, put into a steamer, spacing them about 2 inches apart.  Loosely cover the buns with kitchen towel, rest for 45 minutes or rise for another 50%.
  6. Meanwhile, fill the steamer with water and boil over high heat.  Lower the heat until you are ready to steam.
  7. Steam the buns for 15 minutes over high heat.  Remove and serve hot.  Uneaten buns can be wrap in a plastic wrap, and store in a freezer,  It can be kept up to one month.  For warm buns, thaw and resteam or cover the buns with damp paper towel and microwave high for 1 minute.

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Versatile Braised Pork Belly

Braised pork belly is fundamental to dishes, sliced and it is a topping for Japanese ramen noodle, sliced and it is sandwiched between Chinese bun for Taiwanese “Gua Bao” (Taiwanese Pork Belly Bun),  or just eat as it is!

I use high pressure cooker for braising, as I don’t have to watch it closely.  I throw everything in the pressure cooker, set a timer, and the tender pork belly is ready for me!

Here is the versatile recipe, that taste great and simple to execute.

Braised Pork Belly

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 2 hr
  • Difficulty: easy
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Prepare 1 lb of pork belly:  In a pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.  Add 1 inch of smashed ginger, 1/2 cup of Chinese cooking wine/Sake, and pork belly.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat; simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.

Remove pork belly and discard the liquid.

Braising Liquid:

2 cups water
1 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup sugar
2 pieces of Star anises
1 tsp whole white or black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 inch thick of fresh ginger, peeled and smashed

Combine all ingredients as above in a high pressure cooker pot.  Add the pork belly to the braising liquid and set the pressure cooker to high pressure for 45 minutes.  Braise till the pork belly is very tender but not falling apart.

Slice according to your preference, and serve with your favorite noodle or eat as it own.

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Chinese Egg Tarts – Cookie crust version

This recipe is different from my previous recipe of egg tart, in the aspect of the crust.  My daughter prefers this cookie-like crust.


Chinese Egg Tarts - Cookie Crust texture

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 2hr
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS (make 24 tarts)

24 tart shells, greased


  • 2 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of icing sugar
  • eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cup plain flour
  • 6 tbsp cake flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt


  1. Using hand beater, beat butter and sugar together till creamy.
  2. Add egg and vanilla, and beat till combined.
  3. Shift in the flour and salt mixture slowly, while beating the mixture.
  4. Knead lightly into a dough. 
  5. Place the dough in a bowl, and set aside in the refrigerator while preparing the custard.
Ingredients of custard:
  • 2 heaped tsps custard powder (bird’s eye brand)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp condensed milk
  • 455ml water
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Stir custard powder with 1 tbsp of water in a mixing bowl.  Add beaten egg and vanilla.  Beat till well combined. Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, stir together sugar, water, and condensed milk and heat over medium heat.  Turn off the heat once the sugar is dissolved and the liquid mixture is heated (not boiling).
  3. SLOWLY pour the hot liquid mixture into the beaten egg mixture while whisking the egg mixture.  Continue whisking till all hot liquid mixture is used up.
  4. Remove the crust mixture from refrigerator. Place dough on a floured counter surface.  Roll into 0.1 inch thick.  Use a round cutter to cut round shapes slightly smaller than tart shells. Press lightly on the bottom and the sides to get impression from fluted tins.  Prick the bottom of shells with sharp sticks.
  5. Place prepared tart shells on a baking tray.  Pour egg mixture into the prepared tart shells just before baking.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating baking tray after 15 minutes.   The custard should puff up a little and pastry should turn golden brown.  If not, bake for another 5 minutes
  7. Remove from oven to cool, and place egg tarts on muffin cups. Serve warm.

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Chinese Steamed Cake (鸡蛋糕)

Spongy texture

Spongy texture

Chinese Steamed Cake

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 2hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: medium
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  • 5 eggs, in room temperature
  • 1 cup icing sugar (adjust sweetness according to your preference)
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional) 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 + 1/2 cup cake flour, shifted twice (reduce quantity for softer texture)
  • 1 tbsp of baking powder or 6 tbsp 7-up soda
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (or melted butter)
  1. Using electric mixture at High speed, beat eggs till frothy (not stiff!) about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add icing sugar gradually, vanilla extract and cream of tartar and beat till the mixture become very thick (about 2 minutes). The mixture should looks pale white.  When lifting up the beater, the batter won’t drip immediately.  Meanwhile, heat up the steamer at high heat.
  3. Reduce to lowest speed (stir) and add cake flour and baking powder in 3 parts.
  4. Add oil and gently stir together.
  5. Pour batter into a greased and floured 8” round pan or bamboo steamer pan lined with baking paper, steam at high heat for about 30 minutes (make sure there is enough water in the steamer, avoid opening the lid to add water). Remove cake from pan and cool on wire rack immediately.

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