Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Salted vegetables with duck and vermicelli soup, 咸菜鸭汤加冬粉 (aka Giam Cai Ar )

Cooking soup has become an almost daily affair for me ever since my kids were very young. Yes it has been THAT long. Having a picky eater child really puts a parent to the test on trying out different recipes or just ways of getting nutritious meals into that small body. And some how boiling a pot of wholesome soup usually does the trick. This child of mine would have plain rice and soup for her dinner no problem, even if it means every night. You would think by now I have tried out thousand of  soup recipes! Haha unfortunately, we all know that once we are comfortable with just a handful of good ones, we are just contented. 

I do try to look for new soup recipes even till this day. Because my readers will know my 两菜一汤 menu every night on my IG account, 不可以少了那碗汤!But because I personally feel that some of those soup is so common, it is really not worth mentioning it here on the blog haha!  But today, this particular soup I am writing is somewhat like an old treasure I found after many years. A recipe which I grew up eating and yet haven't had the time to replicate it. After reading up several recipes and watching countless youtube videos, I have concluded my very own recipe for this Salted vegetables with duck and vermicelli soup, 咸菜鸭汤加冬粉.

This is such an old school recipe, I am sure many of you must have drink this before. Personally I love that distinct tanginess of the soup which the cured vegetables gives it. It should be a starter dish if you ask me, sure to whet anyone's appetite! The saltiness from the cured vegetables also cuts into the greasiness of the duck fat, so drinking a big bowl will not make you feel too "Ger-lat".

I added fresh tomato slices and vermicelli to make it a heartier soup. The family had this and they love it. Perhaps its due to the fact that I added less salted vegetables, so it is not overly sour and sweetness from the duck meat can permeate through better.

Ingredients for Salted vegetables with duck and vermicelli soup, 咸菜鸭汤加冬粉
1/4 duck, preferably the drumstick part, chopped into smaller pieces
200 g salted vegetables aka Giam Cai, sliced into smaller pieces and some of its soaking liquid if desired.
4-5 slices ginger
1 fresh tomato, sliced (missing from the photo above)
1 bundle of dried vermicelli, pre-soaked in water
1 spring onion
800 ml water, more if you like it more soupy

1.5 tsp sugar
pinch of salt (ONLY if you think it is not salty enough)


  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Then carefully place the chopped duck pieces in and par boil for a minute. 

  • Drain and fill with a fresh pot of water, add in the ginger slices and bring to a boil again.
  • After 10 minutes, you can spoon out any fat or impurities that surface on the soup. 
  • Now add in the slices salted vegetables. You can choose to rinse away the salty water that is packed in the vegetables or you can reserve some to be added in to the soup. I added about 2 tbsp worth.
  • Continue to boil the mixture for another 5-6 minutes till the duck meat is tender and the salted vegetables are soft.
  • Finally add in the tomato slices and the vermicelli noodles.

  • Let the mixture simmer for another 3-4 minutes, add your seasoning and remove from fire. And it is ready to be served!

A pot of wholesome goodness! Okay, maybe not that wholesome but it is definitely worth my calories. The next time I make this soup again would be to add another duck drumstick to add more flavour. And you notice I didn't even add much seasoning except for that sugar, to counter balance the sourness (in case my family can't take the tanginess haha).

Do give this recipe a try and let me know how you like this version. Have fun!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Thai Milk Tea Butter Cake

Frankly speaking, when this idea popped in my mind, I was rather sleepy from the early rise. It occured to me that we just ran out of cake for the kids' recess this week. Jie Jie got the last piece of Espresso chocolate chip cupcake this morning. Was gonna settle for pandan chiffon when I saw that tin of Thai Milk Tea in the cupboard while I was grabbing my tea bag for my morning cup. The next thing I know, I was jotting down notes on the ingredients and steps for baking a Thai Milk Tea cake.
Nowadays I am leaning towards to lighter cake texture, much like chiffon or just very slightly denser. Hence egg separation method is the main technique to go to. But besides that, proportion of ingredients and incorporating everything together and cooking it at the right temperature is also key. 

To enhance the milk tea flavour, it is important to steep the tea bags in the hot milk for a longer duration, perhaps 3-4 hours up till it is cooled. It is one of those food which the flavours enriches over some time, like wine aging haha. :D With that said, the cake will taste better the following day. 

Let's get on with the recipe shall we? 

Thai milk tea butter cake
Egg yolk batter

455 ml whole milk
80 ml condensed milk
3 Thai tea teabagsy
350 g cake flour (unsifted)
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
200 g semi-salted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs yolks, room temperature
100 g caster sugar

Egg White batter
80 g caster sugar 
4 large egg whites, room temperature

  1. Preheat oven to 155C with water bath. Prepare a 8" by 8" square cake pan, greased and lined with parchment and greased again. 
  2. In a small sauce pot, heat milk over medium heat till you see bubbles forming around the edges. Add the Thai teabags, remove from heat, stir awhile and cover, and let sit 10 minutes. 
  3. Add in condensed milk and stir well to combine. Place the whole pot in ice water bath to cool down the mixture.
  4. Strain out the tea and discard the teabags, squeezing out all the liquid. 
  5. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  6. Using a mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter, egg yolks and 100 g of the caster sugar till light and fluffy (4-6 minutes). Scrape down the side of the bowl as needed.
  7. Folded in the flour and Thai milk tea alternate, starting and ending with flour.
  8. Meanwhile beat the egg whites with the rest of the 100 g till stiff peaks & shiny. Then fold the meringue gently in 3 separate portions into the egg yolk batter. 
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 50-55 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Use a skewer to check if it is done. It should come out clean.
  10. Once baked, remove from oven and let the cake cool on wire rack before slicing. 
Using waterbacth kept the cake moist and slow baking the cake at 155C for a longer duration also helped the cake rise properly and minimal shrinkage when removed from the oven.

The texture was amazing! I rarely have 2 slices of cake at one go...this was one of them. (Not exactly small slices too!) The butter cake is soft and fluffy, and yet holds it's shape. Evident flavour of the milk tea with that creamy after taste, perfect sweetness for me.So much love for this cake. But that aside, this whole technique can be reused using different flavour, like Earl Grey or even Peanut Butter...yum!
Highly recommended! Do give this cake a try and tag me on my IG when you post. :) 

Happy Baking!