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Hakka Stir Fry Taro Dumpling “Suan Pan Zi” (客家炒算盤子)

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We love taro a lot and we were thinking to make the Pork Belly with Taro which Eric wanted to eat all these while. But it requires too much of work and then it was often put aside. While I was researching about the dish, I stumbled across this long forgotten Hakka recipe Stir Fry Taro Dumpling or Abacus Beads “Suan Pan Zi”(客家炒算盤子). I was so excited as I didn’t have this for years. So I have decided to give the recipe a try. Obviously Pork Belly with Taro was put aside again.

Since my father side is Hakka, that’s why I know of and have tried this dish. We often get to eat various traditional Hakka dishes whenever we go back to “Semenyih”, our old home town (老家) in Malaysia. My uncle is a great cook and he will always prepare a big meal, like 8-10 dishes sometimes double the dishes because we have so many relatives visiting.

In Chinese the dish is called 炒算盤子 “Chao Suan Pan Zi”, literally means Stir Fry Abacus Beads. The taro is steamed and prepared into dough form then shaped into round balls resembling the beads on the Chinese Abacus, an old calculating tool before calculator.

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Tofu with Ground Pork

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I craved for something light and not heaty after gobbling too much of barbequed and fried foods over the long weekend. Cooking something like congee, tofu and veggie would be pleasing. I made my mind up to prepare myself a tofu dish (after I saw Bel’s Steamed Tofu with Pork Ribs 豆腐蒸排骨).

Tofu has a plain structure with very little flavor on its own. So normally it is paired with other ingredients to make a dish. This time I just cooked the tofu with ground pork. Quick and easy! On the other hand, tofu is low in calories and only little fat. It also features high protein and calcium. These gave me another reason for cooking it. Add this humble dish to your recipe library now. Enjoy!

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Stuffed Minced Pork with Bitter Melon (蒸苦瓜釀肉)

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Eric forwarded me an email with even more bitter gourd or bitter melon recipes. We are really not big fans, however it’s summer time, the weather is getting really hot. We know bitter melon is definitely one of the vegetables that could help to cool down your internal body heat. In fact it is very beneficial to your liver and stomach digestion, as well as high level of vitamin C. My coworker even taught me to blend bitter melon juice with honey for a nice cooling drink which is pretty good. I was thinking to make the drink but Eric doesn’t like it, so instead I tried one of the recipe he requested, which is the Steamed Stuffed Minced Pork with Bitter Melon (蒸苦瓜釀肉).

This recipe is similar to one of the Chinese Hakka recipe of Stuffed Tofu and other vegetables (釀豆腐), except this recipe uses only minced pork and it is steamed to cook. Basically this is an easy recipe, just mix and marinate the minced pork, then stuff it into the melon pieces and steam. The bitter melon are crisp, bitter yet so refreshing with just the natural sweet broth from the minced pork itself, no other seasoning is added.  If you like, you can always make a dipping sauce with soy sauce or soy sauce paste, sugar and few drips of sesame oil, add some chili and minced garlic if desired.

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Taiwanese Minced Pork with Pickled Cucumber (瓜子肉燥)

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Minced Pork with Pickled Cucumber or 瓜子肉 is an authentic Taiwanese dish.  This is probably one of those dishes with an ordinary appearance but it is such a comfort food that is just simply delicious. The sauce of the dish gives it nice fragrant with a bit of sweetness and saltiness that comes from the minced pork and pickled cucumber.

With two simple main ingredients allows you to make a delicious pot for sharing. Make sure you mix in some juice to the minced pork and give it a constant beat for a more tender texture. For the pickled cucumber, you can get it from the Asian market, such as yin gua (蔭瓜) , hua gua (花瓜) or cui gua (脆瓜). I used the Da Mao Hei Gua (大茂黑瓜) because it has a nice strong fragrant. It is best for your to test different ones for your desired taste.

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Szechuan Spicy Eggplant with Minced Pork (魚香茄子)

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My boyfriend and I like eggplant, especially this Chinese recipe, Szechuan style Spicy Eggplant with Minced Pork (四川魚香茄子). If you know Szechuan, you will definitely know the place is very famous for hot and spicy food such as Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐), Spicy Pork Strip (魚香肉絲), and etc. Previously I was always wondering why the dish is called Yu Xiang Qie Zi (魚香茄子) in Chinese, literally means “fish-fragrant” eggplant. After getting to know more about Szechuan cuisine, Yu Xiang (魚香) is actually a Szechuan style of culinary tradition. It’s named so because the preparation of the sauce resembles the taste and flavor of the fresh fish, but it doesn’t use real fish in cooking.

The main ingredients for the Szechuan Yu Xiang (魚香) dishes are basically standard; dried red chillies, scallions, ginger, and garlic; not forgetting sugar, salt, hot bean sauce and soy sauce. The ingredients are well incorporated to bring out the essential flavor and tastiness of salty, sour, sweet, spicy, aroma, and freshness, that make it another mouthwatering dish to be served perfectly with steamed rice.

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