I am a scientist who loves to cook because there are many similarities between working in a lab and cooking in a kitchen. I love to share my cooking experience with you and to inspire others to cook.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Something savory, something sour and something sweet

Just want to share with all of you what I ate/made recently. Life is full of adventures and you need to know how to enjoy it even when the adventures are less pleasant. Not really sure how my previous statement ties in with food but I guess eating is an adventure too. You just need to find the balance between the savory, the sour and the sweet. All I can say is that sour makes the sweet, sweeter. 

This is a simple "french-style" cauliflower soup. I cooked a pot of chicken stock before adding the cauliflower.  I pureed the cauliflower but I didn't add the cream since the soup is thick enough. I could have added some butter to elevate the flavor.

There are a few mulberry plants outside of my house and I have been collecting the fruits to make jam. Took me more than a month to collect just a cup. This is literally the fruits of my labor. I followed the same steps to make strawberry jam

If you ask me to choose ONE dessert to eat for the rest of my life, I will most likely choose a mille crepe. Layers upon layers of crepe and cream, soft and velvety. Check out my old post on making crepe.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Yam (Taro) Cake

This is a savory dish that is very unique and ethnic/regional-specific. I have sampled many yam cakes and they are usually very mushy and often lack the taro flavor. Therefore I decided to make my own taro cake with the help of a recipe found at Rasa Malaysia.

I followed the recipe and instructions at Rasa Malaysia almost to the T with slight modifications. The amount of yam, flour and water do not need to be exact as long as you maintain the ratio of yam:flour:water at 1:1:2  (Rasa Malaysia suggested 1.5:1:2)

Ingredients: (yields about 8 medium size cakes)

For the cake:
1 bowl of yam, cut into small cubes (half a yam yielded 1 bowl of yam)
1 bowl of rice flour (there is no substitution for this)
2 tablespoon of corn starch
2 bowls of water
dried shrimp (as much as you want. You got to enjoy the flavor of dried shrimp in order to enjoy this dish in its authentic form. However, there are ways to get around this if you are creative)
5 shallots
1 teaspoon of five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

For the toppings: (this is the part where you can choose whatever you want)
spring onions
red chillies
dried shrimps


1. Fry all the chopped shallots until it turns brown then add all the dried shrimps. Cook this for about 5 minutes. Set half aside (to be used as toppings) and leave the remaining half in the pan.

2. Add the yam and mix in thoroughly with the friend shrimp and shallots. Until the yam turns slightly brown. Add the five-spice powder.

3. (this is something you should do before you start cooking: Mix the rice flour, corn starch and water and set aside until you are ready to cook).

4. Add the flour and water mixture slowly into the pan. (As the rice flour hits the heat, it will begin to coagulate. Therefore make sure to stir the mixture constantly and scrap everything off the bottom of the pan as you stir to prevent the rice flour from burning)

5. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

6. Pour the mixture into a large bowl/heat-proof container. According to Rasa Malaysia, steam the taro cake for 45 minutes or until the yam is cooked. The timing is quite accurate.

7. Serve the yam cake and sprinkle with your choice of toppings such as the fried dried shrimps and shallots.


This yam cake tasted great. The flavor of the yam shines like a pure crystal without being adultered by the heaviness of the starch (which is very often the case for store bought yam cake). I also like the chunky texture of the yam cake which is also rarely found in store bought cake. The yam cake itself is slightly under seasoned (not intentionally) but it is compensated by the red and green chillies, dried shrimps and shallots. Serve it with sweet soy sauce, srirachai or BBQ sauce (okay, use BBQ at your own risk, but why not, if you are a super-lover of the BBQ sauce).

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Glutinous Rice Ball (Mandarin: Tang Yuan)

The 15th day of the Chinese Lunar calendar marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebration. On this day, family gather to make glutinous rice ball as a symbol of family unity (my own interpretation).

Instead of my usual format of giving you the recipe and instructions, I will skip all of that and jump straight into using pictures to tell you the stories. This dessert is so simple, the recipe can be easily searched and they are all the same.

This flower is called the Blue Pea Flower (scientific name: clitoria ternatea; yea, you may look at the flower again to make sure the name is right). It is a kind of flower that is used regionally as natural food coloring.

I love the deep blue color liquid extracted from the flower.

Pandan leave (screwpine leave) is another plant that is commonly used for food coloring as well as for flavoring.

"Naked", blue, or green glutinous balls.

Pearly white glutinous balls after they are cooked and ready to be served.

I like the way the light reflects on the glutinous balls.

Glutinous rice balls are usually served with a sugary syrup flavored with pandan leaves and, depending on your preference, ginger.