Sunday, May 12, 2013

Steamed Fish with Fermented Bean Paste (豆瓣酱蒸鱼)

Good quality taucheo 豆瓣酱 (aka Fermented Bean Paste) is very fragrant and umami. It could bring out the sweetness of the fish. Fresh tasting fish like Red Snapper or Threadfin works well with taucheo as they taste milder, and not as fishy as fishes like big head carp.

I love using Malaysian made taucheo. They are more fragrant, flavorful and not as salty as those imported from other place. Somehow, I'm quite particular. Am I too used to the taste? Or I had a cursed tongue? No. Probably I just love the taste. Haha..

I'm having problem here. I actually don't know what is the Chinese name of Red Snapper. Until I asked around, then I came to realized that the scientific name of Red Snapper is 红鲷, and fellow Hokkiens called Red Snapper as 红鸡. Now I learnt new words :)

I'm lucky. I've got myself two slice of nice and fresh Red Snapper fillet at the Supermart. So, I'm gonna steam it! FYI, incase you are buying at the wet market, market price for Red Snapper is about S$20 to S$22/kg. So, don't get cheated by fish monger! :)

  • 2 slices of Red Snapper Fish Fillet (mine is 380gm in total)
  • 1 tsp Salt, to rub on the fish
  • 1 tbsp Corn Flour / Tapioca Flour, to rub on the fish (optional)
  • 75g Fermented Bean Paste, a.k.a 豆瓣酱 / 豆酱 "Tao-Cheo"
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • Ginger, julienned
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Hot Shallot Oil 
  • Fried Shallot
  • Spring Onions
  • Coriander Leaves


  1. Clean fish, pat dry. Rub salt on the fish, and then pat some corn flour on it.
  2. Place some ginger on a steaming dish, place fish on top. 
  3. Apply fermented bean paste on top of the fish. Just like spreading peanut butter on your bread, generously. Sprinkle sugar on top.
  4. Bring water in the steamer to a boil and steam fish over high heat for 7 minutes. 
  5. While the fish is steaming half way, heat shallot oil and soy sauce in a pot and bring to a boil.
  6. Remove fish from the steamer, pour away excess steaming liquid.
  7. Drizzle hot shallot oil and soy sauce mixture over. Garnish and serve!

You must be wondering why I rub some corn flour on the fish before I steam it. Very simple. I'm steaming fish fillet here. The logic is to "lock" the juices from the fish meat. If you are steaming whole fish, you may skip this part.

These two slices of fillet is from big fish, and it has big bones. Difficult to cook, especially at the bone side. So, I steam it for 7 minutes. But please please please always bear in mind. When I mentioned the steaming time, I do expect the fish is in room temperature. If your fish is cold and right out of the fridge, please increase the steaming time.

Steamed fish must be eaten right after it's out of the wok. It won't taste nice if the steamed fish dish turned cold. Hence, whenever I blog about steamed fish, I fought my way through the rush hour try to make all the garnishing and photo taking as fast as I could. Because at another side, my family is waiting for me and the steamed fish to start the dinner.

This explained that my steamed fish has no strict rule on how this dish supposed to looks like, nor it looks neat. This is a home-cooked dish. The messier it is, the more home-cooked it looks like! Agree?

I hope you like it!

Do visit my other steamed fish recipes too :)

Prosperity Steamed Cod (富贵鳕鱼)

Canto Style Steamed Red Grouper (清蒸红石斑)

Hong Kong Style Steamed Cod Fish (港蒸鳕鱼)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Nutella Cake / Torta Alla Gianduja

This cake is fabulously easy and yummy! It's moist, light and DELICIOUS! you won't regret baking it. It's Nigella Lawson's Torta Alla Gianduja. Simply Nutella Cake.

Another reason for you to bake the cake, it's Mother's day soon. The hazelnuts on top somehow gives it a burnished, ceremonial and yet home-made look. I'm sure your mom will feels so proud of you if you baked this for her :)

Max is a huge fan of Nutella. Or I'd say, he's obsessed! He can eat almost everything with Nutella and even the Nutella alone! Urgh! Nutella Monster! Anyway, he's happy when I told him I wanted to bake Nutella cake. And when I complained that hazelnuts are expensive, he said he sponsor it. But he end up didn't even pay me. And neither did he mention that he wanna sponsor that big jar of Nutella. Sigh!

The ingredient is simple. This cake is not the ordinary cake. If you notice, this cake doesn't have flour, baking powder and sugar. Fret not. It will be okay. The cake will collapse. But this is what it should be.

I use shop-bought lightly roasted hazelnuts. Brought home, toast it on the pan. Grind half of it, and keep the remaining half for decoration. And also, if you have Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) at home, use it. If not, use rum. If you have none, don't scream. Just use water. I don't have Frangelico, and my bottle of Rum gone missing for no reason. So, used Bourbon instead. And I kinda like it :)

(Source : Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess book)

For the Cake
6 Large Eggs, separated
pinch of Salt
125g Soft Unsalted Butter
400g Nutella
1 tbsp Frangelico, Rum or Water (I used Bourbon)
100g Ground Hazelnut
100g Dark Chocolate, melted. (I used Valrhona)

For the Icing
100g Whole Toasted Hazelnuts
125ml Double Cream (I used Whipping Cream)
1 tbsp Frangelico, Rum or Water (I used Whisky)
125g Dark Chocolate

Don't worry about the cream part. The difference between double cream and whipping cream is in the concentration of fats. For this cake, I used whipping cream because I can't get double cream. I'm fine with it.


1. Toast 200g Hazelnut in a dry frying pan until the aroma wafts upwards and the nuts are golden-brown in parts. Keep shaking the pan so that they don't burn on one side and stay to pallid on others. Transfer to a plate and let it cool completely. If they go on the ganache while hot, it'll turn oily. So, be patient. Let it cool first. You may want to consider to make this a day ahead.

2. Grind 100g of the cooled Hazelnut. And I just can't tell you how much I love my Cuisinart mini food processor! It makes my cooking and baking so so so much easier! :)

3. Melt chocolate using double boiling method, to allow it to melt over gently under indirect heat. Once chocolate begins to melt, stir it gently with plastic spatula. When almost all of the chocolate is melted, lift up the bowl from the saucepan and set it on the counter. Stir continuously until it is shiny, smooth and completely melted. Set aside and leave it cool before use.

Okay, let's start baking!


For the Cake

  1. Prepare a 9 inch springform tin, greased and lined. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 degree.
  3. In a large clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff, but not dry. 
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and Nutella together, and then add the Frangelico (or whatever you are using), egg yolk and ground hazelnuts.
  5. Fold in the cooled melted chocolate, then lighten the mixture with large dollop of egg white, which you can beat in as roughly as you want, before gently folding the rest of then in a third at a time. Just like the way you make chiffon cake. 
  6. Pour into the prepared tin and bake it for 40 mins or until the cake's beginning to come away at the sides.
  7. Let the cake cool on a rack completely before you un-mould them carefully. This is a damp cake, you might find it abit difficult removing it from the tin.

My cake cracked badly, because I forgot to adjust my oven rack. I just dump the cake in and let it bake while I enjoy my favorite TV show at the living room. I'm a bad baker! Hahaha.

Well, as I said, the cake will collapse abit once it's cooled. But because mine cracked badly, so, it sank like a Titanic! But I'm not worried at all. I'm gonna ice it anyway.

For the Icing

  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the cream, liqueur (or whatever you are using) and chopped chocolate, and heat gently under low fire. 
  2. Once the chocolate's melted, take the pan off the heat, leave it cool down abit and whisk until it reaches the right consistency to ice the top of the cake. 
  3. Ice the top of the cake with the chocolate icing, and dot thickly with the whole toasted hazelnuts.
  4. Set the cake aside and let it rest (or in the chiller) for an hour. This will allow the icing set and sit nicely on top of the cake when you cut. Or incase you want to bring the cake to a party or something. It would avoid mess. But if you are only eating it at home and you'd want some sexy and runny icing effect (just like mine), you don't have to let the cake rest that long then.
Here's the tips. You could prepare, and bake the cake a day ahead. And then, ice the cake on the 2nd day. This delicious chocolate cake keeps very well. 

So, how good is this cake? Max swallowed ate 1/3 of the cake AFTER our dinner! OMG! Can you imagine that? He just had his dinner, and this cake supposed to be his dessert. But.... when he's allowed to freely cut his portion of cake, he greedily cut 1/3 of the cake! He doesn't feels guilty at all! And I witness him eating the cake happily and kept saying "oh~yumm" while he nom it.

All in all, this recipe is indeed a keeper. And it's gluten free!

Happy Mother's day to my mom, my mother-in-law and all the mothers out there! Happy Baking! :)