What I cooked for Winter Solstice dinner celebration 2013

My family decided to celebrate Winter Solstice earlier this year because of its proximity to Christmas. I was in charge of cooking, while hubs was in charge of cleaning the house.

I made a 9-course dinner.


For appetiser, I made a cold dish called Chicken Crystal Jelly, which is an aspic. I added blanched prawns and baby corns to make it look more pretty. To make this was very simple, simmer 3 chicken thighs in seasoned boiling water for about 30 minutes, like making chicken soup. Skim the gunk off the surface of the soup while it’s simmering, this will help make the stock clearer. After 30 minutes, remove cooked chicken thighs from soup, let cool and debone. As for the stock, strain it (I used those paper made specially for straining oil, bought from Daiso) to achieve an even clearer appearance. While the soup is still hot, mix in gelatine or agar-agar according to instructions.

Arrange chicken meat, prawns and baby corn in the jelly mold, then pour in the stock and chill in the fridge overnight or at least 5 hours. To unmold the jelly, place the mold in hot water for a few minutes, put a plate over the mold, then turn it upside down…the jelly should pop out effortlessly.

# – 1. Chicken Crystal Jelly.


Second dish was steamed prawns with egg white and wine. The easiest of the lot. Arrange prawns on a plate, plate ginger slices and spring onions on top. Mix 2 tablespoons of ShiaoXing rice wine and 1 tablespoon of soya sauce then pour it over the prawns. Steam on high heat for 4 minutes and just before you turn off the fire, pour in 3 egg whites all over. Voila, done.

# – 2. Steamed prawns with wine and egg white.


Easy stir-fry vegetable medley. Dump everything into oiled wok and flip em around till everything’s cooked.

# – 3. Sauteed vegetables.


Poached chicken. Stick chicken into boiling water for 30-40 minutes, take it out and them brush skin with sesame oil (3 tablespoon) and salt mixture (1 teaspoon). Let cool for a couple of hours then chop it up and serve. I also used the stock from boiling chicken as a base to my soup.

# – 4. Pak Cham Kai in cantonese.


Dry bak kut teh. The BEST of the lot. Basically make stock with store-bought bakkutteh soup spice. Boil a head of garlic, pork belly, spare ribs and porn neck in the soup for 30-40 minutes. After that fry 10 pieces of dried chillies, soaked dried squid and chopped up bird’s eye chillies in oil till fragrant, make sure in a wok or a wide saucepan. Remove the meats and garlic from soup and add to the frying. Add a dash of dark soya sauce and a dash of oyster sauce. Then, ladle the BKT soup in and simmer for 30 minutes or until the soup thickens to a consistency of your liking. Chopped up ladies fingers and throw it in a minute before you turn off the flame. I think I will start making this pretty regularly…

# – 5. Dry BKT.


Suan pan zhi or hakkan yam abacus. The last time I made this dish was back in 2008, when our kitchen was basically a little corner in the apartment with the floor as the work area. This year, making this dish was a lot easier as I am better equipped. The hand mixer was very useful, so I didn’t have to stick my hand into hot yam to knead it hehe. This time I added sliced tofu and slices of chillies too.

# – 6. Hakkan Yam Abacus.


Easy pan-fried threadfin steaks, just finished with a dash of soya sauce.

# – 7. Pan-fried kurau/threadfin fish steaks.


Soup base was stock from cooking the poached chicken. Added handful of boxthorn berries, handful of red dates, handful of peanuts, a few pieces of pork neck and chopped arrowhead tubers. Boiled for an hour, yummy yumyum.

# – 8. Arrowhead and peanut soup.


Of course, glutinous rice balls is a must for Winter Solstice dinner. These are homemade with gula melaka and peanut butter fillings. Click here to learn how to make tong yuen my way. Broth was made by boiling gula melaka, few slices of ginger and a handful of red dates.

# – 9. Tong Yuens.


Of course I made too much food. What’s new? Luckily my youngest brother and mom were willing to take the leftovers.

Crazy easy tomato prawns recipe.

You know I’ve never cooked prawns in my life till today? Prawns seemed like a hard subject to tackle (by now you’ve probably realised that I have a lot of unfounded fears about MANY things) but with enough persuasion (read: pleading from the BF), I decided to try my hands at cooking it.

So I bought about 20 or so prawns from Tesco, which were surprisingly cheap…less than RM8 and looked for the easiest recipe I could find. Found it in one of my bargain bin favourites, “Chinese Gourmet Cooking”.

I tweeked the recipe a bit though, because I didn’t have broccoli or tomato puree. But the result was still tasty nevertheless :)

# – Tomato prawns.

Best of all though, it took me only 15 minutes to cook this, including removing the prawns whiskers.

The ingredients:

  • 15-20 medium sized prawns, remove whiskers
  • 1 green pepper/capsicum, cut into squares
  • 4 slices of ginger
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil

  • The sauce, mix ingredients together:

  • 100 ml of tomato juice
  • 50ml of vinegar
  • 50ml of light soya sauce
  • # – First, heat up oil in a pan and fry the ginger slices and shallots till fragrant.

    # – Add the cut capsicum. Fry for about a minute.

    # – Then throw in the prawns and cook for about a minute (when the prawns have almost turned all orange)

    # – Pour in the mixture of tomato juice, vinegar and soya sauce. Cook for another minute till prawns are cooked through. Don’t cook far too long, you don’t want the prawns to turn rubbery!

    # – Delicious tomato prawns, DONE!

    Like I said, it’s ridiculously easy to cook this and it’s so delicious! As only tomato juice was used, the sauce did not overpower the prawns, allowing the natural taste to come through. It’s finger licking good!

    Steamed tilapia fish Lan Je Style at your own home.

    One of my favourite restaurants to go to is Lan Je for its beautifully steamed tilapias. There’s only one style of steaming but you can ask for mild, normal or spicy. Of course, I always go for spicy.

    You can read about Lan Je here, here and here.

    Although a new Lan Je branch has recently opened practically at my doorstep, in spirit of home cooking, I tried to replicate the dish that I love so much.

    # – Steamed tilapia fish Lan Je style.

    I was very pleased because, while it’s didn’t have the unmistakable taste of Lan Je, it was pretty damn close :)

    For the fish preparation:

    • 2 tilapias about 200-300 grams each, cleaned and scaled
    • 2 cm of ginger, sliced
    • Enough water to cover fish in a pan/pot

    For the sauce:

    • Some of water
    • 8-10cm of ginger, finely diced
    • 2 bulbs of garlic, finely diced
    • 6 bird’s eye chillies, finely sliced (less if you can’t take that hot)
    • 2 tablespoons of fermented soyabean paste (taucu)
    • A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
    • A teaspoon of dark caramel sauce
    • A few dashes of light soya sauce

    # – First, blanch the fish in boiling water with sliced ginger for about 1 minute. As you can see, I was too lazy to boil a big pot of water so I just boiled some water in a pan and flipped the fish to cook briefly on both sides :P Rock it out your way. Do not over-cook the fish, by the way. Remove the fish from water, pat to dry inside and outside then set aside.

    This step is to remove the nasty smell of fish as well as bitterness that might affect the taste of the sauce when you steam a raw fish straightaway.

    # – To make the sauce, fry up the minced ginger, garlic and bird’s eye chillies with a bit of oil till fragrant.

    # – Add the fermented bean paste or taucu and mix till combined.

    # – Next, add in some water. The fact was, I put in too much water. I would really reduce the amount of liquid in my next attempt. Depending on how deep the plates that you’re steaming your fish in, estimate the amount of water as you do not want the fish to be drowning, just resting in a shallow pool of sauce. Also, fish produces liquid as it steams, a lot of liquid. If you think you need more liquid, you can add later. Finally, I’d say…about 2 tablespoons of water will do for now ;)

    Do note that in the following pictures you will notice that the sauce looked pretty liquid, but as I warned against putting in too much water, just imagine the sauce is quite dry instead :P

    # – Add a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce.

    # – Followed by dark caramel sauce for colour.

    # – And a dash of light soya sauce.

    # – Now place the fish in its own plate and pour the sauce all over each of them. Do not worry if there’s no liquid at the bottom of your plates as depicted in the pictures, I put in too much water remember?

    # – Steam for 15-20 minutes.

    # – When done, garnish with spring onions and freshly cut chillies if you liked.

    # – Steamed tilapia fish Lan Je Style, DONE. See how the fish are half submerged in sauce? Don’t get me wrong, the sauce tasted superb (GREAT with rice) but like I said, I’d prefer them lying on a shallow pool of sauce instead of swimming in it hahaha.

    # – Flaky flesh, yums.

    You can adjust the level of spiciness accordingly by controlling the amount of bird’s eye chillies that go into the making of the sauce. This recipe is quite spicy, but I can take quite hot so if you’re not sure, reduce the number of chillies to 3 or errmm…1.

    So there, my first attempt in replicating a Lan Je style steamed fish. Can’t wait for my next try and hopefully it’ll be perfect then!