Bakso (Indonesian Beef Meatballs)

A colleague recommended that I try an Indonesian food outlet in Melbourne's Emporium shopping centre. Apparently this outlet serves good whole fried fish with rice, and good Indonesian meatball noodle soup. Its reviews on the web were only ranging about 3-stars on average. But my curiosity was piqued, so we specifically sought out this outlet when we were in the CBD recently.

Hmmm, suffice to say I will not go back again. I agree with those who gave feedback on their service needing (a lot of) improvement, but disagree with those who said the prices were 'cheap'. What we had was definitely not what I would call value for money (at all). For the same costs, we could have had heaps better Asian food next door. 

But anyways, what I did like was the two pieces of bakso (Indonesian meatballs) in their bowl of noodle soup which, by the way, consisted of three mouthfuls of instant noodles in salted water with the two bakso, and about four pieces of Asian greens 😂. So when I got home, I looked up some recipes for that and found their ingredients and methods are not too dissimilar to Chinese bouncy beef meatballs and so decided they were worth giving a try using my KitchenAid Cook Processor. This is the recipe I decided to use for my meatballs. The result was tasty meatballs that had a dense chewy texture which I liked. The Chinese style meatballs usually have a more 'bouncy, crunchy' texture to them.

Bakso (Indonesian Meatballs)

250 grams minced beef (cold from the fridge)
2 tablespoons fried shallots (*see notes)
1 tablespoon fried garlic (*see notes)
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
50 grams tapioca flour/starch
40 grams ice cubes, roughly crushed
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a very gentle simmer over medium low heat on the stove.
  2. Insert MultiBlade into the KACP main bowl.
  3. Add minced beef, then add all other ingredients on top of meat. Press the Pulse button for 10 seconds to blend the ingredients. Scrape down the sides, and pulse for another 5 seconds until a stiff, smooth paste forms.
  4. Wear gloves on the hand you will use to form the meatballs as it can get a bit messy. Take a handful of the paste in your hand, and gently squeeze so that a ball of paste forms out between your thumb and forefinger. Then scoop the meatball off with a metal tablespoon, and drop it directly into the pot of barely simmering water. Repeat with remaining paste.
  5. When all meatballs are floating in the water, bring the water to a slow boil over medium heat. Boil meatballs for a minute until they are fully cooked.
  6. Meatballs are great served with noodles. Or they can be frozen. To reheat, simply boil in broth or stock or soup until they float, then serve.

  • Fried shallots are commercially available in lots of supermarkets, and of course, in Asian groceries. But it is very easy to make your own too if you prefer. Just slice a couple of large brown onions (peeled, of course) thinly. Then heat two cups of neutral flavoured oil (eg, sunflower oil, corn oil, rice bran oil) in a large wok over medium high heat and drop the sliced onions into it. Stir and fry onions until they are a light golden brown, and remove from oil immediately. Drain on paper towels and use as needed. Keep the onion fragrant oil to use in salads or noodles. (Please note that onions must be removed from oil as soon as they are light golden brown as they will continue to brown when cooling).
  • Fried garlic is also available commercially, but homemade fried garlic is done the same way as fried shallots, although you can use only about 2 tablespoons oil - and garlic oil is great in salads or noodles as well. For this particular recipe of 1 tablespoon fried garlic, you can use about 3 large cloves of peeled fresh garlic. You can choose to thinly slice the garlic or mince the garlic before sauteing in oil over medium heat (stirring constantly). Remove from oil as soon as garlic turns light golden brown as they also will continue to brown while cooling.

Hainanese Chicken Rice - using the ThermoVide Sous Vide

Hainanese Chicken
using the ThermoVide Sous Vide immersion home appliance

This is the first recipe I've tried using the ThermoVide Sous Vide. Usually, when I make Hainanese Chicken, I use whole Maryland chicken cuts as they don't dry up and get tough like chicken breast fillets can. But since I've heard that cooking meat via the sous vide method keeps the meat tender and juicy, I wanted to give chicken breast fillets a go. And I have to admit the result was really good.

See my review of the ThermoVide Sous Vide here.

Here is how I made my Hainanese Chicken Rice (sous vide style).

Chicken fillets in vacuum bag
3 chicken breast fillets, skin on
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon chicken powder OR salt
1 stalk of spring onion, chopped into roughly 4 cm lengths
  1. Rub fillets with sesame oil and chicken powder (or salt). Put into a vacuum sealer bag in a single layer and put the spring onions on top of fillets.
  2. Vacuum seal the bag.
  3. Use an adequate sized pot so chicken can be fully immersed in a water bath.
  4. Sous vide at the recommended temperature and duration - refer to the chart at the bottom of this page as a guide.
  5. When cooked, remove chicken from bag. Keep any juices that is in the bag and use it in the soy sauce when you are making it.
  6. Slice cooked chicken into 2cm thick slices. Pour soy sauce over chicken, and garnish with chopped spring onions and coriander. Serve with chicken flavoured rice, spring onion/ginger dipping sauce, and garlic chilli sauce.

Soy Sauce for Chicken
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons neutral flavoured oil (do not use olive oil as it is unsuitable for most Asian dishes)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)
  1. Heat oil and saute garlic till light golden brown.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and adjust taste with additional salt or sugar (sauce is traditionally slightly sweet).
  3. Serve poured over chicken.

Chicken Flavoured Rice
3 cloves garlic (finely minced)
2 cm peeled fresh ginger (finely minced)
The white part of 2 stalks of spring onion (finely sliced) (reserve green part for garnish)
3 tablespoons neutral flavoured oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 metric cups Jasmine/Long Grain/Basmati white rice (washed and drained)
Chicken stock (unsalted) / Water
1 pandan leaf (knotted)
  1. Heat oil over medium high heat and saute garlic, ginger and spring onions till fragrant.
  2. Add rice and salt, and saute for a minute.
  3. Add the pandan leaf and adequate chicken stock and water (use a 50:50 mix of chicken stock and water) in proportion to amount of rice used, and cook via absorption method. You can cook rice on the stove top (in which case, be sure to use a large enough pot size from the start) or transfer it into a rice cooker. You can find instructions here on how to cook rice using the absorption method, either using a rice cooker or on the stove top.
  4. Leave cooked rice (covered) to rest for about 10 minutes before fluffing and serving. (Tip: Wet a pair of chopsticks to fluff the rice - using chopsticks minimises breaking the rice grains, and wetting the chopsticks will also minimise rice grains sticking to them.)


Garlic Chilli Sauce
5 fresh large red chillies (deseeded)
4 cloves garlic (peeled)
1 small knob fresh ginger (approx 1 inch) (peeled and sliced)
4 to 5 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice (see **notes below for substitution)
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Finely blend all ingredients in a small blender. Taste, and if required, adjust with lemon juice/sugar/salt to your preference.
  2. **Notes:
    - For a delicious alternative, if you can get organic ripe calamansi limes, use 2 to 3 of them in place of lemon/lime juice. Wash calamansi limes, halve and deseed, then blend them skin and all together with the chillies/garlic/ginger.
    - At a pinch when no citrus fruit is on hand, I also use apple cider vinegar.

More pictures of Hainanese Chicken Rice (sous vide method).

ThermoVide Sous Vide review

ThermoVide Sous Vide

I would not eat chicken breast if I have a choice, whichever way it is cooked, as I find that cut can often be bland, dry and coarse.

So when I had a chance to use the ThermoVide Sous Vide appliance, I purposely chose to 'experiment' with chicken breast fillet to see if that cooking method will produce a more palatable result. The plan was to make Hainanese Chicken Rice with sous vide chicken breasts.

Now, I have never eaten anything sous vide, let alone know how to sous vide anything. So far the only sous vide'ing I've seen was on shows like Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules.

The appliance didn't come with a recipe book. So while I was researching online what temperature and duration to cook chicken, I got referred to a website that read like a complex science and mathematical research thesis! Holy moly!!

Anyways, skipping all the scientific mumbo jumbo, I found a table guide for cooking chicken breast buried somewhere in the middle of what would translate to about 50 printed A4 pages, and I've extracted that table here for easy reference. I guesstimated that my 3 pieces of chook boobies were roughly 25cm at the thickest parts, so I followed the recommended temperature of 65oC but set timer for 60 minutes as my meat was still very cold straight out of the fridge.

This is the temperature and timing table I referenced.

The operating instructions for the ThermoVide Sous Vide machine were ok to follow, even for a sous vide novice like me. Admittedly I fumbled a little initially trying to figure out which button controls what, but easy enough once I kept playing with it and getting to understand what all the beeps meant :).

Oh by the way, remember to put your pot on some sort of trivet or coaster to protect your benchtop as the pot does get quite hot. I had mine sitting on two layers of wooden beads thingo and a layer of heat resistant silicone coaster.

Now the results....
YUM!! Those were the best chicken boobies I’ve had - tender and juicy. Somewhere in Douglas Baldwin’s article said to remove the skin. No way! Hainanese Chicken is traditionally cooked with the skin, so I left skin on. I’m glad I did because the skin was as tender as the meat after the sous vide process. Hubby gave it the thumbs up. Very good, he said. We had it for dinner, and he took all the leftovers for his lunch the next day.


Did I like sous vide chicken?
** Yes.
Did I like sous vide as a method of cooking?
** Yes. However, it is worthwhile noting that cooking via sous vide is not something that can be done in a hurry, so advance planning is important if you need dinner to be ready on time. 😀
Was it easy to sous vide?
** Yes.
What are the pros of the ThermoVide Sous Vide machine?
** It is flexible and can fit most pots.
** It is pretty easy to use.
** It is also small and easy to store without taking up much space at all.
What are the cons?
** If your house is open plan like mine is, and is very quiet, the immersion sous vide appliance can be a bit on the noisy side whilst cooking. My solution was to put the whole pot in my laundry room and shut the door 😏, simple and problem solved!
The ThermoVide Sous Vide appliance was sent to me by Prestige Home Appliances to test and review. However, all recipes and opinions are my own.

Cucumber Stir Fry

I am not a fan of raw vegetables. Don't like raw tomatoes. Don't like raw cucumbers. Don't like raw celery. Fussy pot!! Too true lol. BUT, if cucumbers, tomatoes, and celery are cooked, I like them.

So, I stir fry cucumbers in a variety of ways, depending on what I have in the fridge or freezer.

Cucumber, stir fried with SPAM
Stir fried cucumbers would not be a dish one would find on a restaurant menu, though I think some enterprising chef/cook could probably create a section in their menu for "true home cooking" instead of the "customized to the Western palate" run of the mill Chinese/Asian dishes! Wonder if that will prove to be popular with customers.....

Here is my basic recipe, with options to use different types of protein. I strongly suggest NOT using olive oil as its strong flavour is not really suitable for Asian/Chinese cooking/dishes. My preferred oil is rice bran oil, but any neutral flavoured oil is good.

Cucumber Stir Fry

2 continental cucumbers, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
1 cup of sliced char siew (Chinese bbq pork)
1 handful glass noodles (also called mung bean threads)
4 cloves garlic - finely chopped
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
large pinch ground white pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons neutral flavoured oil
salt to taste
1 heaped teaspoon corn or tapioca starch/flour

  1. Soak glass noodles in a bowl of tap water until they are reasonably soft (approximately 10 minutes). Drain and using scissors, cut noodles into shorter, manageable length (approximately 10cm).
  2. Cut peeled cucumbers into quarters lengthwise. Remove and discard the seeds. Slice cucumber diagonally into 1/2 cm thickness.
  3. Cut peeled carrot into half, lengthwise, and slice into thin slices.
  4. Mix corn/tapioca starch with 4 tablespoons water to make a slurry (this mixture tends to separate after a while, so stir again just before using it at the end of the recipe).

  1. Heat oil in wok over medium high heat. 
  2. Add minced garlic and saute, constantly stirring, until they are just starting to turn very light brown. 
  3. Add sliced char siew and sliced carrot, and continue to saute for a minute.
  4. Increase heat to high and add cucumber slices, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and pepper. Stir fry for a minute.
  5. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of water if wok is too dry (cucumber releases quite a bit of liquid so try not to add too much water if you do not want lots of gravy). Let gravy come to boil for about 15 to 30 seconds to soften cucumbers a little. Taste and add salt if needed.
  6. Add softened glass noodles, and stir for a few seconds (glass noodles will absorb some of the sauce). 
  7. Lastly, drizzle just enough of the corn/tapioca slurry into wok, stirring constantly, to obtain a slightly thick sauce.
  8. Dish up and serve immediately with steamed rice.

You can replace the char siew with other proteins. Here are some suggestions :-
  • Julienned/sliced luncheon meat (SPAM)
  • Sliced leftover roast chicken meat.
  • For a vegetarian variation, use sliced fresh mushrooms and a teaspoon of chopped red chilli. **As mushrooms release a lot of liquid, there should be no need to add any water while cooking. You may need to use a bit more of the corn/tapioca slurry to thicken excess sauce.
Cucumber, stir fried with mushrooms (vegetarian version)
Cucumber, stir fried with char siew

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 - - 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.


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.

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.