Beef Stew

Stewing is slow cooking, so it’s not the sort of thing you would want to do if you don’t have much time. One of my favourite stews is beef stew. I remember during my JC days many years ago when we went for adventure training at Pulau Tekong. The most memorable thing about the camp? The senior ladies’ beef stew.

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The ingredients are quite complicated. Here, I would fry some onions first. I forgot the ginger, but you should have a few slices of that frying in the pot as well.

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I’ve added a lot of ingredients, but I’ll turn the stuff in pot around so you can see them. Celery and carrots here.

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We’ve also got potatoes and of course, our star of the dish, beef cubes. For seasoning, there’s black pepper, tomato puree and lots of bay leaves. You can either use salt or soya sauce to flavour the dish.

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This is what it looks like when the mixture begins to boil. We have a long way to go. The beef cubes will start to “bleed” and the mixture starts to thicken. I simmered it for 3-4 hours.

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Just scoop it up and enjoy. The beef would have the same texture as that in rendang. Goes very well with bread or rice. The kids will love it.

© Chan Joon Yee

Fried Petai With Ikan Bilis

Petai

Parkia speciosa ( bitter bean,stink bean) is a plant of the genus Parkia in the family Fabaceae. It bears long, flat edible beans with bright green seeds the size and shape of plump almonds which have a rather peculiar smell, characterised by some as being similar to natural gas.

I would say that appreciation of petai depends a lot on acquired taste. You smell it in your urine for a whole day. I suspect that these beans may benefit the urinary system, but there are more fantastic claims as you can see here. Suffice to say that I wouldn’t take it wholesale.

Anyway, here is how I cooked my petai. I had it at an Indonesian restaurant and this is my guess of how they did it. You won’t believe how simple it is.

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First, fry your ikan bilis in some oil. Once the ikan bilis is fragrant, sprinkle two teaspoons of sugar and pour in the petai beans. Now for the seasoning. A bit of water mixed with tamarind paste and chilli paste. Pour that in and mix well.

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I didn’t use too much chilli paste here, but if you don’t have children sharing this dish, do be generous with it. No salt required as the ikan bilis is already very flavourful. How was it? Well, it tasted almost as good as the one I had at the Indonesian restaurant. I’ll be able to do better next time.

Braised Fish

It has been a while since I’ve last shared my cooking with everybody here. You see, I’ve been busy working on another project. In this post, I’m sharing my latest achievement – briasied fish.

红烧 or braising is a unique way of cooking that combines “dry” and “moist” cooking. Some people said that braising is used to soften tough food which would otherwise be unpalatable. Well, you might as well call it stewing. A distinction needs to be made here. Unlike stewing which involves only involves moist cooking, braising always involves a preliminary frying process.

Here we have three pieces of fish frying on a pan. Most chefs recommend that we deep fry this, but I don’t have that much oil.

Here are the vegetables to go along. I’ve chosen red and yellow bell pepper, green onion, ginger, chilli padi and onions.

This is what the fish looks like after frying. I pushed it aside and dumped in the vegetables on the other end. After a bit of stirring, the ginger, green onion and bell pepper should give the dish a nice aroma.

In stage 2, we add the liquid – just water, dark soy sauce and sugar. We turn up the head and reduce the liquid until the fried fish soaks up all the flavours. That is how braising works.

And this is what it looks like on my dinner table. I’ve only added a couple of chillis here. The kids loved it.

© Chan Joon Yee