Mrs. Chan

Archive for the ‘Snack Food’ Category

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.

Homemade Pandan Kaya

In Labour of Love, Snack Food on May 19, 2011 at 11:24 pm


After our successful stint with homemade bread, we want more. We needn’t look very far for excuses in wanting to attempt on homemade kaya.

One, Momsie is around. Two, we bought a tray of eggs and it would be good to consume them. Thirdly, there is a packet freshly blended and sieved coconut milk sitting in the fridge.

I know, we sounded crazy. Nowadays with so many kopitiams sprouting around town, you can have your favourite “roti bakar” or toasted bread with generous spread of kaya on cold butter. No reason to go through laborious process of making a homemade kaya at all, right?

Wrong, wrong wrong.

Homemade is always, BEST!


10 eggs

equivalent sugar to eggs

2 tablespoons of sugar to make caramel to add colour (optional)

freshly squeezed milk from 2 old coconut

a bunch of screw pine leaves knotted together


  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. Continue to bath the mixture for another 40 minutes.
  7. Leave to cool and transfer into jars.


I have a confession, no, I have 2 things to confess here.

One, I am nuts and utterly a kaya fan. Tricky though, I love my kaya thick and eggy. I love my toast with slightly higher a ratio in kaya over butter.

Two, I tried making kaya twice and I flopped miserably.

Now that I had this simple practical exercise with Momsie, I will proudly show you my experiment in the near future.

Keria Gula Melaka

In Snack Food, Traditional Kuehs on May 2, 2011 at 8:18 pm
My parents lodged us at relatives in Melaka during my mid term and long term school holidays. Firstly to ease their very tight cash flow, secondly, so mom could rest and not tend to her 3 do-re-me kids.
We loved it. From the cheap matinee movies, swimming in the public pool, long walks from Jalan Pengkalan Lama to Jalan Munshi Abdullah, from Jalan Hang Tuah to Bungaraya or the Esplanade. Melaka was so small indeed.
One of my favourite snack was the Kueh Keria from Pangsapuri 9 Tingkat, located next to the tiny Savoy Cinema. My late maternal grandma called it, Kueh Gelang. My memory of this kueh, chunky, creamy sweet potatoes on the inside; flaky crystalised sugar on the outside. She will reward me with this treat whenever I was there with her during my holidays. I miss my grandma and I miss this kueh gelang from Savoy.
Although Momsie’s attempt on these keria or potato donuts wasn’t as perfect, I had loved to share the experience and key area where the pitfalls you should avoid.
I was pretty excited when Momsie was boiling some leftover sweet potatoes. This was exactly what should not take place. Always steam your potatoes as they tend to be having just enough moisture inside to form a soft dough. Boiling it was bad, and not sieving it at all was disastrous. Boiling made the sweet potato absorb unnecessary water which requires more flour to make it mouldable.
That eventually led Momsie into using more flour than it was supposed to be; potato ratio should dominate here.
Just pick up a small ball of dough. As you form a rounded shape, slowly use your finger to dig in a hole in the middle. Quite easy.
Momsie declared that she made a tray years back and there were too much potatoes inside, making the dough lipid and soggy. At this point, we conscientiously knew our little donuts will come out harder that it should be. The corrective measure was to add in a little bit more mashed sweet potatoes, we had none left.
Fry them “bangles” till golden in colour, dish out and drain oil.
There was a great debate as to whether we should do this donuts with white sugar or palm sugar. Dad was in favour of palm sugar and I seconded him without any hesitation. My thought was, real high quality palm sugar is fragrant and should be a better choice. We cooked the syrup and were too hasty. The syrup was not condensed to a right consistency and in Momsie’s term, “tak cukup kering”. Therefore, our keria gula melaka does not possess a distinct layer of crystalised palm sugar. They looked “wet” and glossy.
Please use and adapt this recipe  from ALESIA.
300grams of sweet potatoes (about two medium sized)
1/2 cup of all purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon *optional 
a pinch of salt enough
oil for frying
For sugar coating
1 tube of gula melaka or 1/3 cups of white sugar
3 tablespoons of water
How To
1. Peel, wash and cut the sweet potatoes into cubes. Steam and once cooked, mash them.
2. Sift flour and baking powder together and combine all the ingredients. Knead to form a smooth dough.
3. You can either roll the dough out to 1 inch and use a doughnut cutter or you can shape a ping pong size dough into a ball, flatten it and make a hole in the middle using your finger like a ring
4. Heat oil in a wok, deep fry the doughnuts over medium flame till golden brown. Dish out and drain.
To prepare the sugar coating 

1.Place the sugar or gula melaka and water in a small heavy-based saucepan and heat gently until sugar melts. Careful not to caramelize the white sugar, you only need a thick sugar syrup not caramel syrup.
2. Add in the fried kuih keria, coat well. Cool them on plates.

For those who are looking for a quick fix and resides in Melaka, I just bumped into an article on Keria Antarabangsa in Jalan Tengkera. Would appreciate if readers can share with us on places around KL/PJ that sell awesome sweet potato donuts.

Potted Kai Lan (kale) – Chinese Broccoli Rabe

In Labour of Love, Momsie's Garden, Snack Food on May 2, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Stevie and I are  interested to cultivate some greens for our balcony. Obviously, we had eyed a few plants from Momsie’s garden that we could either sweetly get her to ready few seedlings. Otherwise, I would just sweetly coaxed her to part with a few of the amazingly seasoned ones in her garden.

I am thinking of a pot of these Kai Lan or Chinese Broccoli Rabe.

There are so many types of Kai Lan’s in the market; especially now that they are importing in by the hundreds of containers daily from China. You can find baby kailans, big stems kale, and many variety more. I used to love this vegetables back in the olden days; they were crisp and odourless. They didn’t taste like chemical or pesticide stubbornly clinging onto the waxy plant.

Momsie’s Kai Lan tastes heavenly.

Momsie says it’s magical, they keep growing as you peel them off to cook. Endless supply.

Pretty foliage.

Good thing, Stevie loves the mustard leaves and I am crazy on the crunchy sweet stems. We never have to fight.

Fried Rice with Kai-Lan

It’s the morning after the grand celebration of Stevie’s eldest brother, Keng Choon’s 50th birthday party. Although we were promised a hearty breakfast treat from his missus; no one seemed to be up yet.

Momsie knew we all needed to be ahead of the mad rush home to KL. She was already busy in the kitchen planning to cook us a simple fried rice. Nothing tastes like Momsie’s simple fried rice. She will use whatever ingredients that are available in the kitchen.

She was, as usual shy and apologetic. She didn’t expect me to be up that early and especially to be interested to blog about the 2 simple snacks; a fried rice and keria gula melaka ; she was about to prepare for her children. Anyway, I told her to be easy and let me just be a happy trigger by the side.

This morning, we ran out of long beans and spring onions. Of course, Momsie without any hesitation used a few leafy Kai Lan from her garden. Although fried rice seems to be such an easy platter to dish out, I can tell you it is never easy to fry a tasty simple fried rice. I have my fair share of stress doing this dish for Stevie. Most times I know I can never match Momsie’s and I can really know why.

I hope you have a chance to sample Momsie’s Fried Rice; perhaps the next round you are here she will be using some ladies’ fingers instead.

Washed, cleaned and cut.

Lightly beaten eggs, minced garlic, diced wax sausages.

Savoury, salty and tasty anchovies add special flavour.


  1. cold steamed rice;
  2. kai-lan, washed and chopped (1 cm in length);
  3. ikan bilis/anchovies
  4. chinese wax sausage, diced
  5. eggs, beaten
  6. dark and light soya sauce
  7. fish sauce
  8. mince garlic
  9. pinch of salt
  10. cooking oil.

Fried Rice with Kai-Lan Cooking Method:

  1. Stir in some salt into the beaten eggs;
  2. Fry ikan bilis/anchovies till golden and crispy, drain well and set aside;
  3. Blanch the Kai-lan in boiling salted water for 1 minute, then rinse it under cold water, drain well and set aside;
  4. Heat 1tbsp oil up in a wok, stir fry the shiitake until fragrant, scoop out and set aside;
  5. Heat  oil up in a big wok, fry the beaten eggs until set;
  6. Add the sausage, garlic and fry till fragrant;
  7. Add rice, cook it under high heat until it is heated through and separated;
  8. Then add the kai-lan, stir them very well with the rice;
  9. Optional, you can add colour to plain white fried rice with a little thick dark soya sauce;
  10. Season with salt, fish sauce, and light soya sauce, and then serve.

HAPPY FAMILY: Agnes & Margaux Chan

In Hakkamui Cooks, Happy Chan Family, Snack Food on April 9, 2011 at 3:39 pm

I thought it would be nice if I start introducing you the Chan family members. Let’s start with this beautiful mother-daughter couple, Agnes Chan and Margaux Chan Chaillou.

Pretty, successful and enterprising. She is now all dressed up on a Saturday morning, all ready to defend a team of residents of a condominium in Ampang. Although a busy lady, Agnes makes sure she spends enough time with her little kiddo; especially on weekends like this.

Strong taste buds, highly critical on food, Agnes prefers home-cook food because rarely she finds those served outside palatable. Despite a late bloomer as far as venturing into the kitchen department, she can cook up a surprise or two. Summarily, a very daring, adaptable and intuitive cook.

Margaux Chan Chaillou is an artist. That is how she loves to be recognised. Kid you not, this kid can produce very beautiful sketches and drawings. Margaux actually started selling some of her creations as far back as when she was a tiny tot at 4.

This morning, while Agnes is cooking her favourite French Toast, she is busy preparing an illustration project on Benjamin Franklin. Whenever she is inspired, her creative adrenaline is gushing; nothing can distract her.



1                  egg

1 tbsp           condensed milk

3 slices      wholemeal bread

3 tsp           raw honey


oil butter


1. Break egg in a wide bowl. Beat the egg a little.

2. Add condensed milk and lightly stir to dissolve them.

3. Pour in a little milk to the right consistency.

4. Immerse bread slice by slice.

5. Heat a frying pan and put in a little oil.

6. Fry both side to golden colour.

7. Scope a little raw honey and trickle as much or as little, or none.

She is so absorbed into Franklin’s world.

Pleasantly taking a little pause from school work. Time for this little girl to grab these golden toasts.

Her little masterpiece for the morning.

sunday brunch

In Apprentice Chef, family festivities, Snack Food on March 20, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Gatherings are a common thing in this family.

Of the 6 siblings; 4 often meet because of their proximity. 2 in Kuala Lumpur and 2 in Sungai Long. Coco, Agnes and Stevie frequently get together for dinners during the weekdays; Chris mostly on Sundays, either in Malacca, perhaps visit each others’ places, a picnics or outings somewhere nearby.

While writing this, the same gang and a few personal friends are over at Hakkamui or Agnes’s place for a BBQ.

My head says, go grab your camera or lots of beautiful moments won’t be captured. The conscience reminds me that my blog on last week’s brunch is going stale.

agnes getting a bite

It is difficult, not to fall in love with her new house. We openly declare it, our weekend holiday retreat. It would spare us the long hours driving out of the city, paying unnecessary money for crabby food just to enjoy a holiday away from home.

Mind you, Agnes home is no ordinary home.

Tucked in an obscure corner, in one of the busiest part of the city, this home is a home away from home.

Once inside, you are transported into another world. The outside, doesn’t matter any more. High ceiling and open interior, old terrazzo, antiques bring you back to the 70s.

chris and mitch gelber

This Sunday brunch, everyone was excited. You see, Agnes wants to overcome her fear of the oven and decided to roast us a chicken. There was already a big village chicken sitting frozen too comfortably in the freezer. Our numbers made it viable to roast and consume. Since the chicken would take a good hour to roast, a simple family snack, Tauhu & Fishball was set aside by the pool. An afternoon by the pool, wading or swimming, can make many hungry Chans.

skinny dip

favorite snack food

Tauhu and Fishball Recipe


Tauhu,/Taukua         4 pieces, cut to bite size, square or triangular

Fishballs                   60 small pieces

Cucumber                  1 or 2

For DIP:-

Choose all your faourite ingredients, buy the fried tauhu that is bitey yet soft to the palate. A walk round the wet market on a busy Sunday can be fun. I love going round to my favourite butcher, he gives me his best cut. Do not be shy to ask around, many aunties and uncles would be eager to offer to give you tips on the best tauhu and fishball stalls in your area.

A small bowl of soya sauce with a tablespoon of black vinegar. Cut chilies are optional. If you are not into soya sauce, a great chili sauce can be used.

hakkamui or agnes chan

The Dai Ka Che of the Chan Clan. Agnes is very hospitable when having guests but totally very private in person. Born 2nd in the family and eldest girl, she always take charge when it comes to the Chan family matters.

Occasionally blogs under her pen name Hakkamui, Agnes is a daughter, sister, mother, aunty and lawyer.

Although younger than I, being Stevie’s wife, a junior …. I am so happy to have her as my Che Che。

the gelbers - coco, sol and mitch

the gelbers are chans too

happy sol

margaux & angie sunning their buns

swimming ala kampong style

chris giving angie - both his hands

stevie and his mac

While everyone is having fun, my poor hubby has got a deadline to meet.

The hour has passed, the aroma of spices are already teasing our noses and I wonder if the roast is ready?

the roast

Hee Pan 喜板

In Hakka Dishes, Snack Food, Traditional Kuehs on March 6, 2011 at 3:53 am

Hee Pan or Xi Ban, 喜板, is a childhood snack I loved, growing up in the then famous hakka village in Salak South. Back in the 60s, my mom used to treat us Hee Pan, and they used to taste so good.

Today, all 3 generations, my daughter, mom and I are crazy over Hee Pan. Any morning market outings, be sure we will pack few home for each other.

There is this warm, 溫暖 feeling and it has all to do with the texture, with every bite. It brings a special bond or attachment, yet it doesn’t stick and suffocate. You got it, right? That special feeling.

Hee Pan is generally a must item for Hakka weddings, birthdays and traditional ceremonies. Momsie makes them, especially in pink for such occasions. In less formal setting, she would use just about whatever flour in stock, whatever colour or flavour that fancy her that instance.

Marrying into the chan family, lets me enjoy many hakka cuisines. Some popularly available outside, more interesting are the many dishes,  chan-ised or adapted by momsie.

This Hee Pan snack is no exception.

Momsie is not making the regular pink ones. We are making Sweet Potato Hee Pan and she is sharing with us her secret recipe. If you noticed from the regular food blogs and their recipes, it calls for 2 doughs. The long wait for fermentation, some specify 6 hours or ovenight. This process that takes longer is absolutely unnecessary.

Momsie can do it all in 2 hours.

There are recipes that uses just wheat flour or a combination of wheat flour and glutinous rice flour.

Momsie’s secret ingredient ……. a little rice flour



200 grams               steamed sweet potatoes

500 grams               glutinous flour

700 grams               wheat flour

200 grams               rice flour * (secret recipe)

200 grams               sugar

650 ml                      lukewarm water

2 tbs                          cooking oil (for dough)

t tablespoon              yeast (add with warm water)

2 tbs                          cooking oil (to mould)


Brightly coloured orange potatoes are favoured, for the adventurous the purple ones are fun too. Momsie is easy. You can choose to steamed them peeled tuber or a faster way is to quickly boil them with some water. If you boiled, recycle the water for kneading dough. Use a small fork to mash the sweet potatoes up, set it aside.

Choose a big kneading pot, ideally with a large enough base and stable. Sieve in all flour ingredients, oil, sugar and slowly pour in the warm water while mixing them together. Gently fold in the yeast mixture and continue kneading. Momsie placed a floor mat at the bottom of the pot to ease my struggle. She truly wanted me to make my hands dirty with this Hee Pan, my maiden dish under her tutelage.


Knead for 20 minutes. Do not worry if they are soft and a little gooey. Dust some flour on your fingers, clean up all the little clumps stuck there. Wrap the pot with a big piece of cloth or close the top. We need to set it aside in a warm corner for an hour, the warmth will help the dough to rise.

While waiting, momsie and I made a visit to her garden to gather some banana leaves. For momsie, the banana leaf is a must. They add aroma when steamed. I understand you can buy them banana leaves from wet markets and supermarkets. If they are unavailable, your option would be parchment paper.

After an hour, the dough has risen. Momsie lend her hand, she says good, strong kneading gives rise to greater texture and bite.

Put the 2 tablespoon of oil into a small bowl, ready and handy to mould the sticky dough into small balls. Put enough water on the steamer wok to boil. Apply enough oil on your fingers and palms, slowly pull out enough dough to form a small ball and gently drop them onto the banana sheets.

Do not worry if there is randomness in size. Practice makes perfect, momsie consoled me. Put the first 20, arrange nicely on a steamer tray. By the time you finished transferring the balls into the sheets, the steamer wok is ready and the first tray has raised and form into beautiful bun shapes. They are ready to be steamed.

Steaming tips. Make sure water is boiling. Each tray takes 15 minutes, do not uncover and close the steamer lid in midst of steaming. Condensation on lid can drip down and spoil your tray of golden treasure. With every tray you steam, make sure to dry the steamer lid of the condensed water trapped.

Despair not if few turned out dimpled and ugly. Momsie said it is a common phenomenon she herself find difficult to explain. Maybe too much oil when mould them balls, our fingers were a little wet or water dripped down from the steamer lid. Baffles me. Another tip that momsie share is, remove all steamed buns to cool down on some old newspapers. They helped remove moisture trapped on the banana leaves, making safe storing possible.

A larger square banana sheet is used to allow for dough to rise and spread. Use a pair of good kitchen scissors to trim the excess leaves around the random shape of these steamed buns.

Hubby get to be my hero, willing to taste my first Swee Potato Hee Pan. Bravo. Eat them fresh. Every bite is so, so nice.

nian gao sandwich

In Snack Food on March 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Ever craved for a Nian Gao sandwich and you just don’t know where to buy them? Even if they sell, you just do not want to drive 40 minutes to somewhere just to satiate that craving.

Making the sandwich is not difficult but you cannot buy Nian Gao anytime of the year. You don’t wake up one morning and decide to buy Nian Gao and make this dish.

However, it is post Chinese New Year festivities and there are plenty of Nian Gao left around. Momsie cuts them into 1 cm thick squares and stores them into tumblers for future easy use. Keep them in freezer and we can make and eat Nian Gao sandwich all year round.

Momsie is easy. We cook with whatever is available in the kitchen. Momsie told me not to be judgemental on the yam we are using. They are not the purple ones, popularly available. Ours looked pale and a little yellowish. A little tip here, if you liked your yam powdery and melts in your mouth, try keeping it in the open for a week before you cook them. Storing for awhile, helps dehydrate excess moisture trapped in the tuber.

Nian Gao can be fried more easily if sandwiched with a layer of taro (yam) and sweet potato. It is an easy dish, the choice is yours in selecting whether taro, sweet potato,  just with the plain simple batter or a combination to suit each individual’s taste bud in the family.

This easy batter is truly easy to make. You can go easy without the egg, or put as much as 2 eggs if you are in an indulgent mood. Trick is to add a little corn flour so that you get a crispier bite. Put all ingredient together with a pinch of salt, add some water and stir until you get a batter which is semi-thick. To check whether it is of the right consistency, when you lift up your whisk or fork the batter should not drip but flows down thickly (as shown in photo).

Heat up oil and fry on medium heat till batter turns golden brown. Remove and place on kitchen napkin to absorb excess oil before serving.


12 slices of nian gao (not more than 1cm thick

24 slices of yam (same thickness and dimension as nian gao slices)

Oil for deep frying


1 egg (optional)

200 gm wheat flour

2 teaspoon cornflour

pinch of salt