congee recipe- comfort food

[Recipe & Story] Congee: Ultimate comfort food

This is comfort food to me 🙂 It’s perfect for breakfast, dinner, lunch, snack, whenever.. My dad would say it’s for sick people but let’s ignore that comment because it’s not good energy for my soul 😛 hahaha I just love congee, especially when it’s made well. When it’s cooked well, it’s silky and smooth, the consistency is runny yet thick-ish. Just the way it’s made in Hong Kong! (They have the best beef porridge/congee ever!)

Congee is often cooked plain and served with a wide variety of side dishes such as roasted peanuts, fried anchovies aka ikan bilis, garlic oil, pumpkin stir fry (my grandma, mama’s favourite), vegetable stir fry, soy sauce pork mince, julienned ginger, ginger pan fried fish…


HK style

My cousins also love this dish ALOT. When my grandma, mama asks us what we want for lunch. We scream “Porridge!!!” We would compliment her for her cooking and she would think we are crazy because congee/porridge is basically rice and water cooked for hours haha but, believe it or not, there’s a skill to it and I’m gonna share those tips with you…


How a typical porridge meal would look: Stir fry pumpkin, soy sauce ginger fish, garlic oil

Plain porridge

Makes for 4-5 people


  • 1.5-2 cups rice (not brown rice)
  • 6 cups water + extra
  • 3 tsps sesame oil


  1. Season the rice with sesame oil and a bit of salt. Allow the rice to rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the water into the pot of rice. Cook on a high heat until it is boiling.
  3. Lower the heat and allow the rice and water mixture to simmer until the rice breaks down. Stir every 10 minutes.
  4. Add more water if the mixture gets too thick. It should be runny but to the point where the congee will slip off the spoon immediately.
  5. Serve hot with the condiments on the side. Enjoy!

Tip 1: Freeze the rice for at least 45 minutes (preferably for a few hours) before cooking. This helps to “break down” the rice later on. Guaranteed much silkier congee!! I don’t know why, it just does. My grandma taught me that trick and it works everytime.

Tip 2: Be patient!! It goes a long way for this dish. Cook it on medium-low heat the whole time and allow the rice to break down when it wants to. Higher heat really does not cook the congee any faster. It will more likely burn the dish more than anything else.


Besides congee being a comfort food, it holds a special memory too.

Dec-Jan 2013, I went back to Malaysia for an internship and during that period my grandpa, kong kong’s health was deteriorating very quickly. His hands and feet were inflammed, he was lacking the energy to even bother to walk for more than 20 metres because it was simply just too much effort and too tiring. He was never really a big eater but he lost even more appetite during that time of his life. He would eat 3 bites of a form of protein max because it was simply tiring.. It was heartbreaking. I was trying to figure out a way for him to obtain lots of nutrients without actually eating it and of course, congee! It’s familiar, it’s soup-y, it’s nutritious, it’s comforting…

This time, there was not going be any condiments. Just a lot of bones in the broth for the congee. I quickly called my aunt, Aunty Jean to buy bones of 2 chickens for me. I made another phone call to another aunt, Da Gu Gu to finalise the method of cooking this chicken congee again (she actually inspired me to cook this dish for kong kong). I was on a mission! I wish my sister had been able to be there to be part of this mission but she was back in Australia for education reasons. But it’s the thought that counts 🙂

Chicken broth porridge


  • 1.5-2 cups rice (not brown rice)
  • 6 cups water + extra
  • 3 tsps sesame oil
  • Bones of 2 free range or organic chicken
  • 6 cups water + extra
  • Himalayan pink salt


  1. Clean the bones under running water.
  2. Boil the bones in a pot of water for 2 hours, on low heat. Until it becomes a flavourful broth.
  3. Season with salt.
  4. Strain out the bones and remove any impurities from the broth.
  5. Add the rice into the clear broth.
  6. Continue cooking on low heat until the rice breaks down into silky congee.
  7. Enjoy!


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My kong kong & I. I will always miss you. Love always, Your granddaughters 葉 凯 伦 and 葉 凯 旋 🙂 My grandpa gave me the thumbs up for my chicken congee. Made from scratch, no pre made stock – really clean dish that meets his dietary requirements. He enjoyed it so much he asked for seconds! it’s such a privilege to cook for him heart emoticon

pineapple tarts recipe chinese new year

[Recipe] Chinese New Year Pineapple Tarts

chinese new year pineapple tarts recipeI titled this blog as “Chinese New Year Pineapple Tarts” but really, there’s never a wrong time for pineapple tarts 😀 Traditionally, these tarts are made and eaten during festive seasons such as Chinese New Year. You may choose to put 1-2 star anise to give it that asian touch. I guess that’s what makes it Malaysian!

This pastry recipe is not quite the shortest short crust pastry but you are also left feeling less guilty 😉 The combination with the sweet, sticky pineapple jam with the smooth, buttery pastry is just heavenly. It really is one of those “Once you pop, you don’t stop” cases 😛 (I know you laughed!)

Get the family together and bake together! Get some flour on each other.. Get your hands dirty together in the kitchen.. Have fun! Because life is too short not to laugh till your stomach hurts everyday ❤


Before you bake…

I want you to make yourself a cup of tea or pour yourself a glass of wine, take a few deep breaths and enjoy this process. While I was baking, I was chatting with my cousin back in Malaysia and getting updates about her life in college. We got talking about stress, health and she then asked me a simple question. A question I really wanted to reply “EVERYDAY!” but I didn’t. I do live a very good life which I am eternally grateful for but it reminded me that I need to laugh more, smile more, LOVEE MORE and think way less!!! Love = Peace = Happiness

She asked me, “When was the last time you smile from your heart and laughed your ass off?”

We get so caught up in our everyday obligations and stresses so much that we cook and eat for the sake of it, not because we love to. I’m no angel, I do that too but with practice and daily positive affirmations, we can live a healthy and peaceful life 🙂 So, put on some music, get moving, dance, laugh, love life!

Recipe for pineapple jam, here

Recipe for pastry


  • 450g butter (grass fed if possible)
  • 100-150g sugar/coconut sugar/50-70g xylitol
  • 1 egg (for pastry)
  • 1 egg (for brushing)
  • 630g plain flour
  • 80g milk powder (optional, otherwise replace with flour)
  • a pinch of salt


  1. Preheat oven at 180C
  2. Cream butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy
  3. Add egg and beat well
  4. Fold in the sugar, salt, milk powder and plain flour to form a smooth pastry dough
  5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to approximately 0.7cm thick. Cut into shapes with a biscuit cutter
  7. Brush the tarts/pastry with egg wash. On a lined baking tray, pre-bake the tarts/pastry for 10 minutes
  8. Remove the tarts/pastry from the oven. Top the tarts/pastry with some pineapple jam
  9. Bake the tarts/pastry for another 10 minutes or until cooked and golden brown
  10. Cool the tarts on a wire rack
  11. Enjoy!!


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garlic oil - how to use it

My Kitchen Staple : Garlic oil & how to use it?

Here is Chinese cooking lesson 101 from my family – you must always have garlic oil at hand. I remember my grandma, popo would have both garlic oil AND onion oil! Imagine how much time and effort she put in to make them and feed her 7 kids and many grandchildren haha 🙂

The container of garlic oil you see below, it’s hardly ever empty. If it does go empty, it’s only for a couple of days.. Garlic oil amazing for an extra punch of flavour and shortcut to delicious stir fry. Really, this is life changing. Especially, for the time-starved and flavour-hungry!

Recipe for garlic oil:


  • 2 bulbs garlic, chopped
  • Olive oil


  1. On a low heat, cook the garlic in the olive oil until golden brown

Tip 1: Do not wait to remove only when it has turned golden brown because it will continue cooking in the residual heat later. Allow extra 1 minute of cooking in the residual heat.


Here are some of the dishes that you can put up using our kitchen staple, garlic oil:

Tofu and garlic oil


  1. Steam the tofu for 7 to 10 minutes, depending on the size and type of tofu.
  2. Season with soy sauce, chopped spring onions and 1-2 tbsps of garlic oil.

Omit Step 1 if you want to serve your tofu cold, it’s still delicious but my dad would beg to differ. Hmm..

Bean sprouts stir fry


  1. Slightly “steam” the beansprouts in a wok with a bit of water or stir fry in a wok with a bit of olive oil (Mainly to soften the beansprouts).
  2. Then add the chives for 1 minute.
  3. Season with soy sauce, white or black pepper and garlic oil.

Toppings for bone broths


Simply top a clear bone broth with garlic oil. Believe it or not, we made this soup using leftover turkey one christmas and with the addition of 1 tbsp of garlic oil, the whole dish became so asian. It was scrumptious, flavourful and soo satisfying!!

Dry noodles (konjac)


  1. Wash the konjac noodles in warm water or cook wheat or egg noodles until aldente
  2. Simply seasoned with Himalayan salt, cracked pepper, black caramel sauce, non GMO soy sauce, oyster sauce and garlic oil.

Tip 1: The black caramel sauce gives sweetness and oyster sauce gives salty-ness to dish. Add gradually until you find the right balance of salty and sweet flavours.

Tip 2: 1-2 tbsps of garlic oil for 1 person should suffice. If you’re adding blanched vegetables to the dish, 2 tbsps of garlic oil will be necessary!

Benefits of konjac:
– water soluble fiber
– no fat, sugar, starch
– zero net carbs
– zero calories
– wheat & gluten free
– excellent diabetic supporting effects such as increasing insulin and lower blood sugar levels
– alkaline food
– regulate gastrointestinal tract
– reduce IBS

Enjoy! Thank me later after you’ve tried 😉


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yosemite upper falls

Yosemite hiking & camping trip

24th-25th April 2015

After 5 back-to-back weekends of travelling, we began our last roadtrip together to Yosemite at 3am on 23rd April 2015. I know.. 3am but Yosemite is about 6 hours from LA so we wanted to get the most of the few days we were going there. As usual, I baked some goodies for the roadtrip. This time was my oh-so-famous-aussie-biscuits aka Anzac Biscuits.


Yosemite National Park was definitely a big tick off my American bucket list. It was highly recommended by many people and oh boy did it live up to my expectations. It was beautiful.. Absolutely stunning! It was literally picture perfect!


We decided to go to the nearest hike up to Yosemite Falls.. I am soo glad I had no idea where I was going because I didn’t know we were going all the way up.Step by step, I tried keeping up with the pace of the others. It was a 5.6km windy and rocky path one way to the Upper falls. It wasn’t steep but it felt long with an incline the whole way up. Exhausting but so worth it!

The roaring falls…


Once we got to the top, we finally rested and had our sandwiches we packed before. Simple ham and cheese sandwich never tasted so good 🙂

From the Upper Yosemite Falls, you can see the entire Yosemite valley and parts of Half Dome!

Some fun facts about Yosemite Falls:

  1. Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in Yosemite National Park
  2. The drop from upper falls to the base of lower falls is 2,425 feet (735 m)

After dinner, we made a campfire using pieces of wood and acorns that were collected beforehand. It was such a relaxing night – peacefully resting in silence, roasting marshmallows away and keeping warm and toasty by the fire 🙂 Marshmallows are just a must for camping.


The initial plan was actually to stay 3 days 2 nights; allowing us to do a small and big hike but…. guess what?! I got woken up at 6am by this monstrous attack by “something” which I thought was a broken branch that had fallen on the tent or worst, a bear had attacked the tent.I was half asleep, trying to open my eyes to see what it was and half hoping I could just pretend it never happened so I can go back to sleep. But, it turned out to be a big ball of hard ice from snow!!!

This was how my tent looked like. I went to bed in a dry but cold environment. I woke up to cold and icy environment. Really felt like a dream!

This was how my tent looked like. I went to bed in a dry but cold environment. I woke up to cold and icy environment. Really felt like a dream!

11167950_10152883748338990_3130709419129684788_nWinter came to California in summer… This definitely ‘completed’ my trip! I’ve never seen so much snow before.. It felt like Christmas had come early 🙂

We packed up (very quickly) and went back to LA. It was a good enough experience!


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malaysian dessert or snack: kuih bingka ubi. Paleo and easy to bake

[Recipe] Kuih Bingka Ubi (Cassava)

Kuih-muih (plural for kuih) is the Malay word for bite-size snacks and usually of Malay-Peranakan origin. It comes in many varieties (sweet, savoury, plain, colourful, steamed, fried, baked) and are eaten at all times of the day… Well, actually that’s not quite true. Most shops stop selling after about 10-11am to maintain the freshness of the coconut.

Kuih Bingka Ubi is a baked cassava dessert that has a great depth of flavour from the rich santan (coconut milk) and gula melaka (palm sugar). It is soft, chewy and perfectly sweetened. Almost like a baked custard but waaayy better 😀

The best part is it is gluten free, dairy free, paleo, vegetarian, wheat free and completely flavour-full!! 😉 A great dish to bring for a pot-luck!


  • 1 packet frozen grated tapioca or cassava (450g), thawed
  • 1 cup sugar (1/3 brown sugar or gula melaka, 2/3 caster sugar or 1 cup coconut sugar), to taste
  • 1 tin coconut cream (400ml)
  • 1 egg
  • a pinch of himalayan pink salt


  1. Preheat oven at 180C or 360F.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together until a smooth batter is formed.
  3. Bake in oven at 180°C for one to one and a half hours.
  4. Allow the kuih to cool, cut and enjoy.

How to cut:

  1. Cut vertically one way.
  2. Cut diagonally the other way.
  3. A diamond shape will be formed. This is how kuih-muih are most typical cut and served.


Malaysian desserts has had many years of negative rep because of the high coconut milk and sugar content. That isn’t always true if it’s home-made. Let me break this down for you:

  • Coconut cream – yes it’s saturated fat but it is a medium chained fatty acid so the fat doesn’t go to your heart. Don’t overdo it though! If you don’t have access to fresh coconut milk like me, I like to use Ayam Brand because it is 100% natural, no preservatives, no added water, no added guar gam or thickeners. 
  • Cassava – natural source of carbohydrate
  • Sugar – use palm/coconut sugar instead of white sugar. I wouldn’t go with xylitol here, you need the flavour of the palm sugar.
  • Eggs – high source of protein
  • Salt – use the right salt and it contains plenty of minerals important for everyday bodily functions

As my grandma always says, eat in moderation 🙂


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apam balik recipe: malaysian peanut pancake

A trip down memory lane: Apam balik

Apam balik is Malaysian peanut pancake filled with crushed peanuts, sprinkles of sugar and sometimes, creamed corn. It goes by various names such as Jing Loong Pau, Ban Jian Kuih and Martabak Manis. It’s one my absolutely favourite Malaysian street food and it is to-die-for. It comes in 2 ways – 1) thin, crispy and buttery and 2) thick, fluffy and chewy.

You know how there are some foods that you might have seen your dad eating when you were a kid and you get so tempted to try it and automatically love it too? This is my “dad loves it, I’ll love it too” food 😀 When I was younger, I also grew to like the taste of celery because my grandma, mama, loved it. Hm… that didn’t last very long though. Ooops!


Anywaaay.. Everytime I go back to Malaysia, I always make a trip back to this apam balik stall that I have been going since I was 6. My cousins all live in the area of Bandar Sungai Long and we like to go to the night market (pasar malam) that is on every Tuesday night. After so many years, this stall never changed. Exactly 2 pans, 1 can of peanuts, 1 can of sugar and exactly same roles split between the husband and wife. And exactly spot on every time 😉 The stall owner and I always have a good laugh about how I never fail to go back to her stall at least once. Our conversation is always the same and here is how it goes (in Mandarin):

Me: I’m back!

Owner: You’re the one who moved to Australia and back again for holidays?

Me: Yes, that’s me. I’m back for my favourite snacks I can never get over. I love it.

Owner: You’ve been coming here since you were a small little girl. Hope to see you again.

I’m serious.. That has always been the extent of our conversation and will probably remain this way hahaha




healthy chocolate nut truffles recipe

Choc “truffles” – antioxidant bomb

Hmm.. Tastes like real deal except without all the sugar! I first made them with the intentions of making healthy protein bliss balls to keep me sane and euphorically happy during my exam period (It was also during all the hype about these special bliss balls, so I couldn’t help myself from trying to reinvent my own one). Great way to de-stress or procrastinate, whatever rocks your boat, I like to think of it as de-stress!

Anyway, I read the ingredient list of many different protein balls and they just contained too many unnecessary things that could simply be replaced with better, more nutritious foods. And, they did not taste good. Not at all. At least not to me! So, I decided to pull out ingredients to work some magic. Later, I realised I didn’t have any protein powder left but I was still very determined to make my own bliss balls 🙂


From left: Raw cacao powder, roasted almonds, roasted cashews, desiccated coconut, flax seed, coconut oil and coconut flour (not featured)

If you’re like one of my really good friends who wanted to throw out her raw cacao powder because she didn’t know what to do with it, don’t throw it! Totally sinful!

Raw cacao powder (yes, it’s different from cocoa powder) is superbly abundant in antioxidants, a natural antidepressant and so freaking healthy. Some of the benefits of raw cacao powder are:

  • Contain natural chemicals called flavonoids – a type of antioxidant compound – it is especially high because cacao in its raw state is unheated so the nutrients are “alive”
  • Help remove free radicals
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Prevent plaque formation, improving circulation and lowering your risk of heart disease
  • Highest whole food source of magnesium

A perfect bite-sized chocolate treat for dessert 


Ingredients (base)

  • 1 cup roasted almonds/hazelnuts
  • 1 cup roasted cashews
  • 3-5 tbsps coconut oil/cacao butter
  • 1 heaped tsp matcha powder
  • 2-2.5 tbsps raw cacao powder
  • 3 tbsps pure maple syrup/rice malt syrup/raw honey (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • Coconut flour or flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao nibs

Ingredients (optional coating)

  • Handful raw cacao nibs
  • 100g 70% dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Himalayan pink salt

Method for base

  1. Blend nuts, raw cacao powder, matcha powder, desiccated coconut, pure maple syrup together until smooth (You could leave a handful of nuts chopped up for a bit of crunch).
  2. Gradually add more oil to make the mixture smoother .
  3. Add flaxseed meal or coconut flour to thicken the mixture (I use coconut flour most of the time).
  4. Mix in the 1/4 cup raw cacao nibs.
  5. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Preferably more so that it will be cold enough to roll into balls later.
  6. Roll the mixture into balls, approximately the size of half a golf ball. Allow the balls to rest on a tray in the fridge.

*** If you would like to omit the chocolate coating, finish the bliss balls off by rolling the balls in desiccated coconut and a bit of himalayan pink salt ***


Method for chocolate coating

  1. Using the water bath method, melt the chocolate and cream. Allow it to cool slightly.
  2. Using your hands or spoon, coat the balls in the chocolate mixture. Sprinkle raw cacao nibs and himalayan pink salt on the top. Refrigerate the chocolate coated balls again.


Tip 1: Use this as a base and add chopped dried mangos, dried apricots, seeds, mint, vanilla essence, protein powder, acai powder, spirulina, finely grated carrots (for carrot cake)…

Tip 2: Add more cream if the mixture is too thick. You want to aim for a slightly runny consistency so that it will coat the bliss balls later.

Wow, writing this at 2am is not a good idea, what am I gonna do with my cravings?! Sleep time…


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