Recipe: mapo tofu

Proper fresh tofu is hard to come across in Germany, so I get really excited whenever I see Unicurd silken tofu available in the Asian shop. I decided to cook mapo tofu for lunch today since I managed to get my hands on a box of silken tofu in my recent Asian order.

I already had the sauces (oyster sauce, chilli oil and chilli bean paste) in my pantry. Continue reading

Penny savers recipe: soy sauce braised meat

I was watching a lot of Youtube when I first arrived here last year, especially 康熙来了, a Taiwanese variety talkshow that was been keeping me company during the lonely cold days here in Bremen. In one particular episode, the guests were introducing foods from their university days, and one guest introduced 卤鸡腿饭, or rice with braised chicken thigh. That sounded and looked absolutely scrumptious so I thought it might be a good dinner idea. I tried to find the simplest recipe and I think I found it. I adapted it a little since there were some ingredients that were not easily available in my area.

The recipe is very versatile – you can use any cuts of meat (chicken, pork, or even go vegetarian: tofu and eggs are nice too), and the leftover braising sauce can be kept in the freezer for future braising sessions. In fact, I think that’s the best part of the dish… you keep leftover gravy from previous sessions and add it to the next one, intensifying the flavors further.


Apologies for the less than stellar/appetizing photo. I had tried to remove the chicken thigh as a whole piece, but it was so meltingly soft that the meat just slided off the bone as I lifted it up. Hee hee, not that I’m complaining about it!

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Recipe: cheat-meal nikujaga

Japanese nikujaga

I can’t believe I have not blogged this recipe – I tried it last year and it went onto the fast track to my favorites. Nikujaga is easily one of the quickest and simplest things to make, and it’s super yummy as well. I often add a vegetable dish on the side too because I feel that I don’t add enough vegetables in nikujaga. Now I do recognize that this recipe is not authentic Japanese nikujaga but I’m not claiming it to be either. If you’re pressed for time, or if you have a clueless husband in the kitchen, throw this recipe at them and I’m sure a delicious meal will be on the table in no time.

Serves 2

  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cubed or shredded (I like mine shredded)
  • 1/2 onion, finely sliced
  • 250g mince meat
  • 1 tbsp ginger, thinly sliced or grated
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • pepper (to taste)
  • olive oil/vegetable oil

Heat up a pan with olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and ginger until fragrant. Add in the meat and sauté until the meat is browned. Add the potatoes and sauté for a couple more minutes.

Add the seasonings, plus a cup of water to cover the potatoes. Bring up to a boil, then cover and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. Adjust the seasoning at the end with a bit more soy sauce if needed.

Penny savers recipe: ABC soup


I was just wondering when I started to write this post: why is ABC soup called ABC soup? It’s a common soup that we drink in Singapore, but I don’t think anyone really knows why the name. Is it because it’s so easy to make, like ABC? Or that the ingredients contain vitamin A, B and C? Or what? If you know the answer, please let me know!!

Anyway, I’m trying to make a soup for dinner every day if I can, since it’s easy and I don’t wish to stuff our bodies with rich, creamy (and fattening) foods. The journey to lose the fats when summer comes by will be arduous.

My favourite kind of Chinese soups would be either old cucumber soup and lotus root soup, but I don’t have any of those ingredients readily available here, so a simple ABC soup will have to do.

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Penny savers recipe: pantry minestrone soup

This recipe is great for those days where I’m feeling lazy. I usually keep stock of some canned staples in my pantry: canned tomatoes and canned white beans will have a permanent spot (besides canned tuna, of course). Couple those with root vegetables that I will always have in my fridge, and I get a quick and healthy meal with minimal fuss.

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Serves 3 as main

  • one can of white beans (800g)
  • one can of crushed tomatoes (400g)
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • vegetable stock (about 400ml)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • pinch of dried basil & oregano
  • cubed chicken – optional
  • cooked pasta

Take one cup of beans and a small amount of water and puree. Combine the beans/water puree and the remaining stock and vegetables and bring to a boil. Continue to simmer until celery and carrot are cooked, about 10-15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in dried herbs before serving.

I feel that blending the beans gives the soup more body and makes you feel fuller for longer (as opposed to a watery soup). If you wish, you can also add cooked chicken for protein and cooked pasta for carbs.

I added half an avocado into my soup because I had a ripe avocado that was begging to be eaten, so why not? The green pops against the red and orange soup… gorgeous. The soup is really forgiving so you can jazz it up, or dress it down, whichever way you want.

Penny savers recipe: baked egg muffins

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To be honest, these are not the kind of breakfast muffins that you are probably thinking of. These muffins are more cake-like instead of bready. But wait, don’t go yet. Do give this recipe a chance, and you may end up liking it more than you expected.

As I do not have a set of measuring cups in Germany, most of my recipes now will have metric measurements. As and when it is possible, I will also include the US measurements.

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Penny savers recipe: carrot ginger soup

One of my favourite cooking blogs or sites would be Skinnytaste. I like the site because it often features recipes that are tasty and healthy, and also easy to make. But the problem with such Western sites is that they often use ingredients which are not common in my pantry. For example, this carrot ginger soup recipe that I got from Skinnytaste,  it contains sour cream. So I often use such recipes as inspiration, but modify it according to what I have on hand.

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This recipe makes a lot, sufficient for 2 lunches – perfect for those dreary cold days.

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Penny savers recipe: pork & potato in soy sauce

Another of my comfort foods, I remember my grandmother cooking this dish regularly when I was younger. But somehow, I have not tried making it myself. With a big bag of potatoes sitting in the pantry (note to self: don’t be ambitious and buy a 4kg sack of potatoes in future), I set out to recreate this childhood taste. However, I was shocked to learn that my husband has never eaten it before. I have always thought it was a common household dish in Singapore… well, apparently not! Thankfully, his non-fussy taste buds accepted my humble dish.

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Penny savers recipe: fried bee hoon

Rice vermicelli (or bee hoon) is a comfort food for me. It’s something that Singaporeans can eat for almost any meal. There’s the economic bee hoon for breakfasts, sin chow bee hoon for lunch, dinner and supper. One of my recent favorites would be the white bee hoon from Sembawang (bee hoon stewed in rich chicken stock).

Fried bee hoon is quick and easy, and affordable. The few times that I tried cooking it at home turned out to be pretty disastrous though, mainly because the bee hoon stuck to the wok for dear life. Determined not to let that happen to my new wok from Ikea, I Googled and got some tips.

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Penny savers recipe: baked katsu

Tonight’s dinner menu is baked katsu and Japanese curry. No Japanese curry recipe to share as I’m using the Golden Curry premix. I got the idea for baked katsu because I didn’t want to deep fry and make the entire house oily and smelling of food for 3 days. Surprisingly, I got the thumbs up from the husband.

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