Mrs. Chan

Archive for the ‘Labour of Love’ Category

spring with Mrs. Chan

In Labour of Love, Momsie's Garden, What's Blooming on January 24, 2012 at 10:25 pm

While affixing plastic peach blossoms onto her water jasmine plant, Momsie proudly advised me what’s blooming in her sporadic garden.

Then with her chin, she proudly pointed to me a ‘must see’, her prized wild ginger flowers.

I was expecting the magenta button ginger flowers we commonly find decorating in hotel lobbies and spas. But what I saw were two potted plants with very large majestic flaming tangerine petals with a pale, waxy honeycomb centre. They look unreal from a distance.

A few years ago, Agnes brought home a Chinese New Year’s hamper decorated with a few stalks of fresh exotic flowers. Momsie liked the flowers very much and decided to grow them and this is the result from that love-at-first-sight.

Googled but failed to find out it’s name.

Regrettably, I do not know the name of these brightly coloured flowers, but momsie calls them “Japanese Flowers”. There is a 3 feet by 6 feet patch of this flowers right behind our clothes line. They attract many bees, butterflies and dragonflies as they bloom in bursts of vanilla yellow, fuchsia and rosy red.

Lookie here, so pretty are these chillies! I laughed my head off when momsie told me that they were grown from the seeds she had saved from the last batch of dried chillies used for making her sambal.


Pineapple Tarts

In Labour of Love, Snack Food, Traditional Kuehs on January 21, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Mom likes to keep things simple, and improvises a lot.  She prefers to learn from her friends tips on this and that instead of referring to recipe books because they are “too complicated.”

And her favourite go-to person is Ang Cho.

Ang Cho is widely regarded as the grandmaster of kueh-making in our kampong, and has no peer in this department. At a distant second would be a man named Nam Hua, a baba who makes very high quality nyonya kueh as a home business.

Mom is very close to Ang Cho, a recent breast-cancer surviver who lives a stone’s throw away.

Ang Cho never use ready-made rice flour that comes in the bags. She mills her own, at home, using heavy granite mill, like we used to do too, when grandma was alive.

Although mom is not as meticulous as Ang Cho, there is a certain art to her seeming chinchai-ness.

And that very chinchai-ness gives her culinary a charm unreplicatable.

RECIPE for Pineapple Tarts

makes more than 100


  • 1 kg of flour
  • 500 grams of margarine (set aside some to line on trays)
  • 13 eggs
  1. Heat oven at 160 degree Celsius.
  2. Sieve flour into a large bowl for kneading.
  3. On the side, crack 8 eggs and beat them lightly but even.
  4. Slowly add the margarine and pour beaten eggs, use your fingers lightly to combine them.
  5. Lightly knead and form them into a few manageable portions.
  6. Set aside a small portion to be cut into tiny strips for decor.
  7. The balance 3 eggs to separate and beat the yolks for glazing.
  8. Use a large piece of polystyrene to roll out the dough.
  9. Use the tart cutter and form the tart base.
  10. Glaze egg yolk over the dough before placing the pineapple jam inserts.
  11. Decorate with trimmings for presentation as necessary.
  12. Glaze egg yolk over trimmings.
  13. Bake for 20 minutes.

RECIPE for Pineapple Jam 


  • 6 bowls of scraped pineapples
  • 3 bowls of sugar


  1. Skin pineapple and scrape out the flesh. Drain flesh on a sieve for 10 minutes to obtain ½ cup of juice.
  2. Place the scraped pineapple flesh in a non-stick pan and add granulated sugar and pineapple juice.
  3. Place pan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally for about ½ hour until pineapple jam is sticky.
  4. Set aside to cool.

of rituals & taboos

In Happy Chan Family, Labour of Love on September 11, 2011 at 10:00 pm

pic by stevie chan

These last 3 years, we have been happy camping at my mom’s and Agnes’s place. So when you “tumpang” you live life in moderation and full of courtesies. From now onwards, Stevie and I actually gonna experience living by ourselves.

I know, many people say that it’s easier to be playmates than house mates. It’s inevitable though, when you are married you got to try.

pic by Stevie Chan

I come from a family that practices a lot of Taoist rituals. Being the only girl in the family, I have been brought up, learning to assist my mom with everything that involves prayers, festivals and the altar.

All’s well. I am a very lazy Buddhist. I do not go far to pray as I have my altar in the heart. I see all religions as wanting to teach us to do good. To me, I adopt Buddhism merely as a philosophical guide to life. I am a strong believer of karma and reincarnations though.

Went to a Christian primary school, mixed with many Malay and Indian classmates throughout my elementary, secondary and university life. Heard enough of pantang-larangs throughout my life.

Our first encounter of “tolak-ansur” or “give and take” was on the house cleansing, a typical must do for most people before they officially habitat a new space. Be it an old house or newly built one. Most believe that there may be over-staying spirits that we must “invite out” before we can “move in”. Stevie’s fine with customary stuff as long as I don’t have to impose his participation. I am free to observe whatever I believe in.

Traditionally, mom would have insisted the “rice, salt and tea leaves” cleansing ritual. Equal parts of each, mixed together and being thrown to all corners of the house to rid bad chi. Knowing that it would be messy, mom suggested me to accord the vibrated coconuts practised by the disciples of Sahaja Yoga.

She checked the Chinese calendar, firstly, warned us against moving during the 7th Month or the Ghost Festival Month. It was a fair request. Secondly, we cannot simply choose any day to move on the auspicious 8th Month. I was advised to move on the 12th of September, the 13th day of the 8th Month of the Chinese calendar.

pic by Stevie Chan

A week before the official moving date, yours truly bought 6 healthy coconuts. Meaning not those old ones that are dry or sprouting with shoots. The important thing here is to find the 3 “eyes”, 2 in front and the 3rd eye at the back. Carefully shaved them till you have quite a smooth surface to ease the drawing of a swastika with kumkum powder. I did the swastika clockwise to signify evolution. Finally, to go over the 3 “eyes” with kumkum as well.

I have placed these coconuts at the 4 corners of the living hall, and one each for the 2 bedrooms in our apartment. Through this puja session, we believe that these coconuts will help absorb all negative energies and protect us from any bad omen.

Been checking anxiously every morning when I wake up. To date, exactly a week after, none of these coconuts cracked.

A good sign that the house is pretty clean.

Ribena Lemonade

In Labour of Love on July 5, 2011 at 6:55 am


Unusual but refreshing.

A lemonade pours on a hot, sizzling afternoon is most welcomed. The piquant taste of citrus wakes up any sleepy heads.

This Ribena Lemonade is Agnes’s usual serving, especially when we have plenty of children or non-alcoholic adults. Luke and I, fall soberly in this constituency.


When life gives you lemons, don’t fret. Make a lemonade.

To draw out the lemon juice easily, always keep them at room temperature. They yield a greater amount of tangy juice.

For this lemonade, a large lemon should be sufficient. Half the fruit to draw out the juice and the remaining half, we slice to add as decorative.


Ribena is a black currant syrup, commonly found in any household here in Malaysia. I guess, you tend to feel less guilty pouring in a grape cordial then white sugar into a lemonade. It’s psychological, no doubt. But it works. You tend to imagine that you are consuming less sugar. For those sugar and calories conscious freaks, you can moderate on the amount of Ribena used.

Pour in a cupful of ice cubes. Use larger ones as they tend to melt into pretty little ones when poured into glasses.


I made a quick dash to the garden and pick 2 sprigs of peppermint. They not only add colour to the jug of lemonade but gives a tantalising hint of mint. Generally, if you like your cocktail carbonated you can pour in a litre of soda. Margaux and I are not big fans of gassy stuff, so we just make our lemonade with water instead.


I call this the shy drink. None of the ingredients here overpower each other. They are a great team, working to bring out a state of cohesive taste. You get to taste the lemon and grape juice with a hint of mint, all in a gulp.

You can be adventurous though, put in a can of lychees with syrup in replacement of the Ribena and a whole new lemonade to enjoy.

nasi ayam ala briyani

In Chicken Dishes, Labour of Love on July 4, 2011 at 12:01 am


“But I’m starving,” said the wife while we’re stuck in a traffic jam on Kerinchi Link and the fuel indicator wouldn’t rise to the occasion.

“but what if the car stalls 200 meters from home?” said I.

There are 3 gas stations along the 2km stretch between here and the house, so why can’t we fuel up first?

“But I’m starving.” said the wife.

By the time we reached home it was indeed late and Margaux was starving as well.

Okay, 30 minutes, I told myself, you have 30 minutes to prepare a dinner for the 3 of us, you hear?

So, the usual “one-pot solution” came to mind and we have chicken, and we have rice, so naturally it’s gonna be chicken rice, right?

But chicken rice of what kind?

We all love the Hakka style chicken rice but that requires a copious amount of grated ginger and Margaux doesn’t like to have ginger in her mouth; but she could handle crushed ginger coz she could remove them from her plate.

And so I started crushing garlic and ginger, with their skin on, and browning them in the deep cast-iron pot, with some sea salt, on very low fire.

While the garlic and ginger were browning in the pot, I started washing the basmathi rice and an idea came to mind: bryani!

Margaux’s first encounter with bryani was at Auzani’s sister’s wedding banquet and she couldn’t stop eating it, and I have “tapao” bryani for her a couple of time since then.

But bryani is a time-consuming meal to make, and I have 30 minutes.

And so I started boiling the rice in a pot of salted water, and when the rice was half-cooked, I removed it from the stove and drained the water.

I then mixed the chicken with the now browned garlic and ginger, spread them to cover the bottom of the cast-iron pot, and then added the half-boiled rice to completely cover the chicken.

Fearing the rice might lack flavour, I added a huge chunk of butter at the top of the pile, and sprinkled some sea salt on it.

And then another idea came to mind: eggs!

And so that’s how the 3 eggs landed in the pot as well.



I knew it back then that it will take more than 30 minutes to cook that meal, and I was secretly hoping that they wouldn’t mind waiting if I keep them entertained. But I was no entertainer.


Margaux loved the meal, but wifey and I knew that we should’ve let it cook for another 10 minutes to be perfect.

But we were starving.



Mee Hoon Kueh – 麵粉粿

In Labour of Love, Snack Food on June 22, 2011 at 11:56 pm


In Hakka, it is called Mien Geow.

I know what “mien” is, but never the “geow” part. The only other “geow” I know actually means the dog.

It is hard to find a simpler meal than the humble Pan Mien, or “board noodle”: flour-and-water dough, ikan bilis stock, salt, and choysum. That’s it. Forget about the poached eggs and sambal.

In my family, this poor man’s noodle is a love affair.

When my grandma was around, we have a 30 kg cast-iron wok measuring 3 feet across the top, and it sat permanently on a wood fire stove; and it was in this wok that my grandma would cook pan min, in wholesale quantity.

When eaten freshly cooked, pan min is light and springy; and the fragrance of the ikan bilis stock sticks to your memory like a jealous girlfriend of your youth.

The leftover from lunch would then sit in the wok till dinner time when it takes on a hearty, stout, and full-bodied personality.

Pan Min is pure magic: one dish, with time, two personalities.


My mom cooks like my grandma did, in the sense that she doesn’t “prep” her stuff, or in professional kitchen parlance, mise en place.

She is not a chef; she doesn’t know the 68 ways to cut a carrot. Nor does she keep recipe cards.

It’s always a joy to watch her in the kitchen, this natural cook in my family.

But that’s a story for another time.

This afternoon we have a bunch of kids over for a swim-in, and with all the adults around, my mom needs to cook for about 10 people, in 30 minutes or less.


And guess what she cooked?


Mee Hoon Kueh Recipe


For Pasta Dough:-

  • 1 kg of plain flour
  • water
  • salt

For Cooking:-

  • prawn/chicken/meat, sliced and marinate quickly with soya sauce , tapioca flour and a dash of pepper
  • choy sum or any greens you can grab
  • mushrooms (optional)

For Stock:-

  • ikan bilis, washed and drained
  • some oil
  • salt
  • water
  • tung choy or preserved vegetables (optional)

For Garnishing:-

  • fried shallot
  • cilantro and spring onions
  • fried ikan bilis
  • chili padi with soya sauce



  1. Knead flour, salt and water (add water bit by bit) into a dough. Knead bit by bit till the entire dough is smooth and not sticking to your hands. Takes more than 10 mins of kneading. Rest the dough while you start preparing others.
  2. Prepare meat, either prawns, chicken or pork. Cut them into reasonable bite size and marinate.
  3. Wash and pick vegetables. Set aside for later use.
  4. In a big wok fry all ikan bilis, scoop out what is needed as garnishing. Leave desired quantity, pour in sufficient water and brew into stock. You can choose to sieve out the bland ikan bilis while I know many who don’t mind it in.
  5. Hand peel dough into small pieces of pastas and throw into stock.
  6. When completed, start putting in meat and vegetable last.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Let individuals decide on the garnishing they like.


A delightful meal for most kids.


Novia lazing around after a hearty meal.

Article contributed by Stevie Chan.

Kueh Koci

In Apprentice Chef, Labour of Love, Traditional Kuehs on June 17, 2011 at 9:00 am


A very delicious tray of Kueh Koci was catered in for Momsie’s grand birthday a few months back. Pure white glutinous rice dough wrapped in white grated coconut, not the usual pandan dough with palm sugar coconut fillings. I thought it delicious and pretty.

But, I was told by everyone at the dinner that the best kueh koci are the ones made by my Momsie. Since she was the birthday girl, the family did not want her to sweat and labour the entire day to prepare any dishes; all food served that night was catered.

I don’t get to eat this kueh very often these days. Even if I do get to buy them, I find that they do not taste as good as the ones that I had tried when I was a little kid. Their glutinous rice skin tend to be harder and the fillings too sweet.

Luck was on my side, Agnes was craving for some and Momsie quickly volunteered to make them last Saturday. It was served as dessert over a luncheon set for Stevie’s parents to meet my parents. Bad me, the last time our parents met was during our wedding dinner banquet, some 16 months back.


Both my beautiful mothers.


Agnes Chan enjoying Momsie’s Kueh Koci.

Recipe for Kueh Koci


Glutinous Rice Dough

Makes about 20 pillows of Kueh Koci

  • 500 gm glutinous rice flour
  • 2 tablespoon thick coconut milk
  •  salt
  • natural pandan juice for colouring
  • bunga telang juice for colouring


  • 225 white granulated sugar/palm sugar
  • 225 gm grated white coconut
  • salt
  • 125 gm water
  • banana leaves for wraps
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil


I laughed so loud when I found out the scientific name for bunga telang. Clitoria Ternatea, a named so inspired obviously by its shape . Anyway, the bunga telang plants are readily available in Momsie and Agnes sporadic gardens. They are organic food colouring and definitely handy in making Peranakan Kuehs. In Malacca, old folks plant them abundantly, collect and dry them to be sold at RM10 per 100 gram. Definitely not the crop to consider if you want to be ultra rich in a fast manner.


The great debate, simple white sugared grated coconut  or the popularly accepted palm sugared grated coconut?

I was playful. I tried both as an experiment so that I could decide objectively.

I am voting for the white grated coconut for taste, whilst I think palm sugared grated coconut makes a prettier and more inviting cake. However, I suggest that one can be creative by using pandan flavoured and coloured glutinous dough or the clitoria blue with pandan green glutinous dough to complement the white coconut fillings.

You get pretty food when you are prepared to labour.


Momsie preparing the torched banana leaves into decent sizes for wrapping.

Momsie is a great teacher. She encourages me to do it with her, giving tips and guidance each and every step of the way. Honestly, I struggled trying to fold them into tidy pillows. It looked easy but I surely need to practice this more often.


Banana Leaves:
  1. Torch the bottom of the banana leaves on top of a gas burner, glide it under a moderate heat.
  2. Wipe it clean on both sides and cut it into 30 cm by 30 cm pieces for wrapping.
  1. Place knotted screwpine leaves, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugars. Continue cooking until you get a thick syrup.
  2.  Add the white grated coconut and lower the heat.
Glutinous Rice Flour Dough:
  1. Pour glutinous rice flour, some water, thick coconut milk and salt and start kneading.
  2. Continue to pour water till you get dough to a right consistency.
  3. Thumb rule, too soft to roll into balls without oil. The texture will be too hard if you can without oil.
  4. Scoop out some dough to prepare the colour dough of desired quantities.
  5. Oil the banana leave.
  6. Place a scoop of plain dough, flatten it out but not too thin that fillings can leak out.
  7. Wrap the dough up as if you are wrapping a pao dough. Round the edges with your palms.
  8. Fold and wrap them into small tortoise pillows.
  9. Steam for 10 minutes.

Pandan Kaya

In Apprentice Chef, Labour of Love, Snack Food on June 8, 2011 at 11:40 pm


Unhappy with how the quality of the ready pressed coconut milk had affected the taste and texture of our previous batch of kaya, I decided to give it another try while Momsie is still in town.

Kaya is the best spread to have readily available in the house. It is a favourite of Coco, Margaux and yours truly. We have these tiny crackers Coco found in Malacca. Very often we will pack them back and dung them in a good kopi-o. These crackers are just right with a dip of Momsie’s rich pandan kaya for an afternoon tea snack.


2 days back, I bought a packet of sugar, 10 omega eggs and 2 freshly grated coconut on my way home and cooked a pot of thick and delicious kaya.

Moreover, there are a dozen of miniature alkaline rice dumplings sitting in the refrigerator. It would be good to eat them after you dip these cold dumplings generously into a rich, thick kaya.

Besides improving the coconut milk, I tried using omega eggs and was thrilled. The omega eggs had beautiful, golden egg yolks. Momsie and I were debating on the sugar, to keep it as equal amount to sugar or reduce them. While it is good to produce and eat sweet kaya, I think reducing 10% of it will not reduce the overall taste of a good kaya.

Cooking kaya takes at least an hour of constant stirring of the mixture over a hot bath. It makes sense to do a larger quantity as the time needed is the same, you save gas and time. 10 eggs gave us 4 small jars. I will consider doing a 30 eggs batch and get a worthy return of 12 small jars of kaya roughly for the same amount of effort and time.


Momsie’s Rich Pandan Kaya


  • 10 eggs – 11 actually since the eggs were not large and i added a cracked classic egg that has been sitting in the fridge
  • equivalent sugar to eggs – you can reduce it but not more than 20%, what’s kaya without sweetness
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar to make caramel to add colour – unnecessary with omega eggs
  • freshly squeezed milk from 2 old coconut – most messy task
  • a bunch of screw pine leaves knotted together
  • juice from 2 limes or a small lemon


  1. Always use free range chicken eggs or duck eggs. They are better in colour and aroma. We used normal standard chicken eggs because we needed to deplete stock. Crack 10 of those in a deep stainless steel bowl.
  2. Pour in the sugar and stir till sugar is fully melted. Momsie warned me not to beat but to stir in one direction.
  3. Pour in the coconut milk. Here we had used ready packed ones from the wet market. It did not help us to get a better consistency because there is too much water added into it. Therefore, it is better if we could just buy grated coconuts and squeeze them ourselves. Drop the bunch of screw pine leaves inside.
  4. Bath the stainless steel bowl over a wok of water over medium low heat. Stirring it clockwise.
  5. 20 minutes later, sieve the liquid. Momsie said this will take out unwanted white that coagulated too early.
  6. Pour in the lime or lemon juice and you will notice the kaya changes colour.
  7. Continue to bath the mixture for another 40 minutes.
  8. Leave to cool and transfer into jars.


Rice Dumplings 粽子

In family festivities, Hakka Dishes, Hakkamui Cooks, Labour of Love on June 5, 2011 at 11:46 pm


At Hakka Chan, we do not have to wait for Double 5 端午節, 5th Day of 5th Month according to Chinese Lunar Calendar or more popularly known as the Dragon Boat Festival to have Momsie’s delicious home made rice dumplings. Whenever we crave for it and she gets to hear it, we will find them on the dining table when we next return to Malacca.

Chinese Rice Dumplings have so many version and varieties. Many will argue to defend their favourites. I do not get personal about it because I am open to savour all kinds of composition. When I was younger, I used to be crazy over the Peranakan version. As I grow older, I found it too sweet for my liking. Mind you, there are communities that eat their savoury dumplings dipped into sugar. No kidding.


There are such thing as Hokkien, Teo Chew, Hakka or Cantonese Dumplings on the general. There would appear to be a certain rules on how they wrapped and common ingredients used. However, when you put 10 hakka families dumplings for comparisons, you will find variations unique to each family’s culture and history.

Our Hakka Chan rice dumpling recipe has evolved the last 50 years.

When Momsie married to dad, Grandma Chan was guardian to many of Hakka Chan’s recipes. She cooked her food very carefully and most times in favour of Grandpa Chan’s palate. Momsie told me she had never wrapped dumplings when she first stepped foot into the family. On her way work to the rubber plantations, she will gather as many bamboo leaves. She practised hundreds of times wrapping sand into those leaves as if they were dumplings.


Today, she is the new guardian of this Rice Dumpling recipe. She remembered when Grandpa Chan was alive, the two main ingredients for fillings were dried shrimps and pork belly. When he passed on, she has adapted the ingredients over the years based on the responses and feedback from her children. Coco dislikes the texture and smell of oyster, meanwhile Agnes finds that dried shrimps overpower the flavour and has a very sandy texture.

There are endless of combination of ingredients that one can introduced. Salted duck egg yolks, split mung beans, black eyed peas, sugared melon, dried shrimps, dried scallops etc.

At Hakka Chan, our dumplings are served in simplicity. Brought home a few for my parents to try. Dad said it was the simplest dumpling and the tastiest dumpling he ever had. Full of praise.


When choosing bamboo leaves, be mindful that there are size variations. Try to choose the larger ones for wrapping savoury dumplings and the smaller one for alkaline dumplings.

If you have time, soak those leaves overnight and there is no need to boil to soften them. Moreover, they retain a prettier green colour than the yellow hue of those boiled. However, in case of shortages, you may need to boil a few to supplement.


Shallots and garlic add flavour and aroma. Make sure that you do not over fry them as they can be bitter when overcooked.


Dried chestnuts adds flavour and sweetness to the dumpling. The powdery sweet nut somehow delights the palate in an interesting manner. Soak them overnight and with the tip of a sharp little knife, dig out the thin membrane stubbornly stuck on thin grooves. If you are short of time and do not have 4 to 6 hours to soak, boil them first to soften.

Choose mushrooms with thick succulent flesh. Soak for an hour and slice thinly.

FILLINGS of Random Chopped Meat – Chan Family Recipe


  • 1 kg pork – shoulder part, cut into cubes and randomly chopped
  • 15 pieces chinese dried mushroom (pre-soaked till soft and cut into cubes not more than 1 cm sides)
  • 8 shallots (sliced thinly)
  • 1 bulb garlic (sliced thinly)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons dark soya sauce
  • 5 spice powder
  • a tablespoon of oyster sauce (a great debate to drop this off)
  • Liberal dashes of white pepper powder
  • a dash of light soya sauce
  • a little cornstarch with water to thicken excess gravy
  • 3 tablespoon of oil for frying and cooking
  1. Marinate random chopped shoulder port with salt, 5 spice powder, 2 teaspoon of salt,
  2. Heat up 4 tablespoons of cooking oil in wok and fry the other half of garlic and shallots till aromatic. Drain and keep aside. Keep oil.
  3. Trim soaked mushrooms into small thin slices. Drain all excess oil. Add a tsp of sugar and a tablespoon of oyster sauce. Mix well.
  4. Pour 1 tablespoon of oil from frying shallots and garlic into a wok. Fry mushroom till fragrant.
  5. Add pork and fry meat over medium heat. Add salt, light and dark soya sauce. Liberal dashes of white pepper powder. Stir and fry till pork is cooked. Pour in cornstarch paste to thicken the fillings.
  6. Add fried shallots and fried garlic. Mix thoroughly.
  7. Keep remaining fried garlic and fried shallot oil to fry glutinous rice.
  8. Set aside and cool.


Glutinous Rice


  • 1 kg glutinous rice (washed, pre-soaked for 4 to 6 hours and drained)
  • 3 tablespoon oil balance from frying shallots and garlic
  • salt
  • light soya sauce
  • dark soya sauce
  1. Pour 3 tablespoons of remaining oil into wok.
  2. Pour in drained glutinous rice.
  3. Add salt,  light and dark soya sauce.
  4. Fry for 10 to 15 minutes and it cool before you start wrapping.
  5. Organise rice, meat filling and chestnuts for wrapping.
  6.  Boil Rice Dumplings for 3 hours completely submerged and covered. For best results, use a charcoal stove. For quick cooking, use a pressure cooker and boil for approximately 30 to 40 minutes on pressure.


Ah Na’s mother who is visiting her grandchildren in Kuala Lumpur during this school holidays dropped by Agnes’s place this afternoon. They came with their fusion Hakka and Hainanese rice dumpling made from mince meat. Momsie was delighted to have friends from Tanjong Minyak dropping by to share some gossip over coffee.


Wrapping rice dumpling can be a quite a messy task. It requires a certain skill that I obviously am lacking at the moment. Our visitors were uncomfortable seeing Agnes wrapping all alone. Before we knew it, Ah Na and her mom were all busy helping out to wrap our dumplings. A most welcome gesture and as a token, Momsie gave them half a dozen of our delicious Hakka Chan Rice Dumplings.


Rice Porridge

In Labour of Love, Pork Dishes, Snack Food on May 22, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Chinese rice porridge is such a versatile dish. You need very few ingredients to get it going. Primarily, you need a great stock, rice grains and whatever meat or seafood that you have parked in the refrigerator. If those aren’t available, you can dish out a plain porridge and eat them with side condiments like fried peanuts, anchovies, fermented tofu etc.

I have been unwell lately. All the medication and especially the antibiotics, leave me with a very flat taste bud. I welcome the idea to a soupy rice broth that would wash down this stubborn discomfort at the throat.

But then, Chinese porridge can be tricky in dishing out too.

Momsie and Stevie both cooked me pork porridge for my breakfast and dinner consecutively. Both used similar ingredients for the porridge but the outcome on the texture, flavour and consistency of porridge differ vastly. The amount of water and rice ratio, the length of time to cook and when ingredients are dropped into the broth can totally affect the porridge quality and presentation.

Therefore, you can find many variations of rice porridge such as teowchew or hokkien style that has more rice texture and more soupy broth; whereas the cantonese version, congee that is cooked with more water for a longer time until it forms a sticky texture.



This teowchew version is my favourite for breakfast or lunch. It is not so filling and yet you get great satisfaction of consuming a big bowl of soup. Doesn’t stuff you up, totally light and easy.


We eat very simple in this household. The Chan loves clarity. Notice that there aren’t any fried shallots, julienne ginger or sesame seed oil? Of course, it is definitely permissible, as it adds aroma and flavour.



  • rice
  • lean pork sliced (can be replaced with fish or chicken)
  • tian jin dried vegetables
  • stock
  • cilantro
  • salt
  • fermented tofu (optional as a side dish)
  1. Put rice and stock to boil.
  2. Place in tian jin fried vegetables the moment the rice is cooked.
  3. You can season a little salt and pepper to the sliced meat before putting into the rice broth.
  4. Boil till meat is cooked and add salt to taste.
  5. Pour into a serving boil garnished with cilantro.


Stevie chosen the best cut of belly pork for me. Good to have these layers of fat and meat.


Pork belly gives better texture to minced meat. The interlace of lard and meat keeps the paste moist when cooking.


Hubby only use the best ingredients.


You will notice that the main ingredients for both porridge and congee is the same. However, due to the treatment and cooking method, the outcome is different.
Stevie’s congee gives a warmer and fuller body. The minced meat gives the feeling that every spoonful is laced with bites. I would prefer this kind of texture for a colder evening and for dinner as they tend to give you a feeling of a more filling dish.
  • rice
  • meat minced ( can be replaced with chicken or fish)
  • tian jin dried vegetable
  • stock
  • cilantro
  • sea salt
  • olive oil
  • light soya sauce (optional)
  1. Rub olive oil and salt to rice, process believed to make a smoother congee paste. Leave for 10 minutes.
  2. Pour stock and add tian jin dried vegetable to the pot with rice.
  3. Put in minced meat.
  4. Boil for 20 to 30 minutes until you get a sticky congee whereby rice grain is quite broken down
  5. Pour into a serving boil garnished with cilantro.