Friday, October 21, 2016

Chinese Hawthorn Apple and Chrysanthemum Tea 山楂苹果菊花茶

We have been overindulging in food for the past two weeks because we were hosting some foreign guests. I am trying hard to get rid of the salty, spicy, oily and sugary stuff in my body.

The unpredictable weather is also causing havoc to the health of my family members, one by one we are falling sick. We need a healthy and nourishing beverage to cleanse our digestive system.

I have accumulated two dozen apples in the fridge because we regularly have elderly visitors who always bring us gifts of fruits whenever they come to our house. It's a Chinese culture.

It becomes a headache for me when we cannot consume all the apples. I have to think of ways to use them. I would spend hours peeling and coring apples, then baked or cooked them into delicious dishes or beverages.

When I was in my twenties and newly wedded, I kept harassing (edited) ... oops, suggesting to my husband to emigrate to Australia and own an apple orchard. Fortunately he was level-headed and did not listen to me, or else I would be feeling miserable ... imagine peeling and coring apples for the rest of my life. LOL

The main ingredients for my detoxifying and nourishing tea are Chinese hawthorns (山楂) and apples.

Hawthorns when used appropriately is able to help dilate blood vessels, particularly in the heart, helping your blood flow more easily and lowering blood pressure. Chinese physicians primarily use hawthorn for treatment of heart disease. With the easing of the blood circulation problem, it helps to reduce the syndromes of having cold feet and hands.

Another benefit of eating hawthorn is that it would burn body fat. Ahhhh! This makes you sit up, right? haha....

Ingredients :

50g dried hawthorns (warning : hawthorns are sour)
20 apples
30 g dried chrysanthemum flowers
30 g wolfberries
rock sugar to taste
3 litres water (yields about 6 - 7 glasses)


1.   Peel and core the apples, cut into quarters or large chunks.

2.  Wash dried hawthorns and chrysanthemums. Soak hawthorns for about 20 minutes. Discard water.

3.   Put the hawthorns, apples and chrysanthemum flowers in a pot with about 3 litres of water. Bring them to a boil. By this time, the aroma of apples would fill the whole house. mmmm.........

4.   I removed some quarters of apples for a sweet dessert dish. Let the rest of the apples boil longer for a more tasty drink.

5.   Reduce the fire to medium, keep boiling for about 60 minutes till flavours are infused into the tea. Add rock sugar and wolfberries. Simmer for another 5 more minutes until rock sugar is dissolved.

A healthy and nourishing Chinese Hawthorn Apple Chrysanthemum Tea / Dessert

6.   Serve the tea with a slice of apple as a sweet dessert. Or simply serve the tea chilled. Enjoy!

The dried hawthorn is sour, so do not use too much. I have several variations using hawthorn tea as the base. Sometimes I add red dates, Chinese pear or honey for a more nutritious tea and with a variety of flavours.

过去的两个星期, 应酬太多, 暴饮暴食消化不良, 结果胀胃不舒服。油腻、高胆固醇、高脂肪的食物对健康极为不利, 我赶快煮一锅去解油腻、助消化的山楂苹果菊花茶, 改善消化系统和肝脏功能。


供参考 :


山楂含山楂酸等多种有机酸,味酸甘,并含解脂酶,入胃后,能增强酶的作用,促进肉食消化,有助于胆固醇, 所以对于吃肉或油腻物后感到饱胀的人,吃些山楂、山楂片、山楂水或山楂丸等,均可消食,为老年人的保键食品,山楂还可利胆汁,促进胃液分泌。


帮助排除脂肪, 还可以整肠助消化, 有治疗肠胃炎、消化不良、预防消化系统癌变的作用。苹果中含纤维素可刺激肠蠕动,加速排便,故又有通便作用。


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Discover Deepavali in Little India 屠妖节前逛小印度

Enjoyed breakfast at an Indian fast food restaurant in Little India with a couple of overseas Chinese friends. I brought them here specially to eat the huge Batura and long paper Thosai. It was their first time seeing and tasting these food. they were so excited and kept taking pictures. They ate the Indian bread using their fingers. LOL

We paid a visit to the Indian Heritage Centre so our guests could understand the culture, heritage and history of the Indian community in Singapore. We spent an hour going through the exhibits by ourselves. There were very few visitors in the morning, my guests were delighted to have the place to themselves and took lovely pictures without being photo bombed by strangers. haha....

There was a Deepavali Bazaar in front of the Indian Heritage Centre, we wandered through the aisles of stalls, milling with the shoppers looking for attractive buys and unique souvenirs to bring home. I couldn't help buying myself some Indian costume jewellery too.

As Little India is preparing for Deepavali, we noticed lots of colourful displays and beautiful decorations being put up along the streets and on almost every building.

At an open field, we saw some colourful displays and stopped to take some photos. An Indian guy came to befriend us and explained the significance of the displays. It was so nice of him sharing his culture with us.

As we were walking through the lanes to the train station, we saw this stall selling fruits and vegetables. We went to have a look and discovered some fruits which we didn't know existed. Sadly, the Indian stall holder could not speak English, we still do not know what are the names of those fruits. LOL

Another shop that made us stopped to have a look was this popular Indian sweets shop. Bought some Indian sweets to share with my young guests who enjoyed the sweet stuff. I tried to avoid sugary foods and gave them my share. haha...

My overseas guests were dazzled as they enjoyed the sights and sounds of Little India in the run-up to Deepavali. I enjoyed myself as well and hope to bring more friends here to soak up the festivities before Deepavali.  

早餐带中国来的朋友在小印度的印度快餐店吃异国料理,来两份特别的印度饼, 朋友们看得目瞪口呆, 齐声说: "不可思议的印度饼! 拍照! 拍照! 快拍照!" 哈哈 。。。

印度人吃早餐都是以手抓饭或是抓饼吃,他们也入境随俗喔。这印度饼不用沾酱直接吃, 口感吃起来很脆, 而且不油腻, 就算很薄, 也不会没味道, 香味还是有存在的。

吃过早餐后, 就去参观印度传统文化馆, 让外国朋友进一步了解新加坡印度族社群丰富多彩的文化遗产。博物馆早上没那么多参观者, 我们度过了一段轻松愉快的时光。

印度传统文化馆建在位于甘贝尔巷(Campbell Lane)与客来富街(Clive Street)交界处, 这里属于小印度的中央地带。参观了博物馆, 我们顺道在小印度逛逛。

朋友们很幸运地遇上屠妖节期间,小印度的大街小巷到处陈列着鲜明而艳丽的拱门与彩灯, 变成一个装饰华丽的世界。我们穿梭在巷弄中, 走走停停, 品尝有特色的印度甜点、美食。

我买了些甜点让朋友们品尝, 年轻人不嫌印度甜点甜, 还吃得津津有味。他们在新加坡度过了一个难忘的小印度之旅。

Monday, October 17, 2016

Traditional Hokkien Dishes at Quan Xin Yuan Restaurant 老字号福建菜馆 - 泉馨园

I met traditional Hokkien restaurant owner Mr Tho Cheng Kia of Quan Xing Yuan (泉馨园) in year 2014 when I bought two tickets to attend an event held at his restaurant. His sincerity, humility and generosity made a deep impression on me.

He not only served his signature dishes to 40 of us at a good price, he even gave extra 3 dishes to each of the 4 tables. The most unforgettable dish I had that night was a scrumptious Sweet Potato Rice Cake (蕃薯粉粿) fried with sambal chilli. The translucent cake was tedious to make and required 3 days' advance notice. It was not on the menu but he prepared it for us.

We truly enjoyed the food and our group was boisterous that night. Mr Tho was extremely happy. He ordered the kitchen to serve us his famous kong bak bao (braised pork with steamed buns) as a parting gift, ignoring the groaning from all of us because we were so stuffed from devouring the eleven delicious dishes he had already served.

The pork sandwiched bun was so delicious that I went back to the restaurant on a few occasions for takeaways. And Mr Tho remembered me, always finding time to chat with me while I waited for the food.

My husband and I returned to Quan Xing Yuan for a taste of authentic Hokkien dishes after a long period of time. We are grateful to Mr Fong WK of Tong Heng Confectionery who arranged the dinner and recommended the dishes. We were glad to meet Mr Tho Cheng Kia together with his successor and head chef Mr Alfred Ow again.

For our first course, we ordered the combination of Wu Xiang Fen Ti (Five-spice Trotter) and Crispy Prawn Rolls. The prawn rolls are coated in a crispy batter, the stuffing of prawn meat, minced pork and chestnuts were chewy and very delicious.

This handmade five-spice trotter is the restaurant's specialty and a rare Hokkien dish. Mr Tho describes it as a 'kungfu dish', as it requires a skilful technique to remove the meat and bones from the pig’s skin, at the same time ensuring minimal cuts to the skin as the prepared meat ingredients will be stuffed back to the hollowed cavity. It requires long, tedious hours of preparation and cooking.

The huge roll of trotter is steamed in a steamer for two hours and a char siew seasoning is applied to it after it is cooked. This appetiser is then kept in a chiller for 8 hours before it is sliced thinly and served together with a chilli sauce and a sweet sauce. It was my first time tasting this unique delicacy.

The second course was a must-eat dish of the restaurant - Hokkien style fried noodles. We have to eat it while it was steaming hot or else it would turn into a gooey lump of starch. Using broad yellow noodles (we could still find a trace of the distinctive alkaline taste) which is different from the noodles of the other dialect group, they use a dark soy sauce based gravy to braise it.

And buried beneath the noodles, prawns, slices of squid and vegetables was this tasty meat ball. I think there was only one and I got lucky. haha....

We were served by a shy Ah Fong who is in her seventies. One of the longest serving staff in the restaurant with almost 30 years of service. She knows the dishes at the back of her hand. She was attentive to our needs and our cups were always filled with hot tea and our plates changed when dirtied.

Throughout our stay at the restaurant, I observed she was always busy, taking orders, serving dishes, cleaning up, filling up condiment jars and bottles...etc. I chatted with her at every opportunity because she never stopped what she was doing to carry on the conversation.

She used to work split shifts but ever since she moved to a place quite far from her work place, she will come in later in the morning to help out at the kitchen. She would serve the lunch and dinner time crowds and whatever that is required of her. Nowadays, it is hard to find a staff who is loyal, committed and has initiative.

My much awaited braised pork with steam buns were finally served and I got to eat two pieces. I was feeling quite full by then as the noodles and buns are quite filling.

It was at this time that Mr Tho came to our table and we started asking about the history of Quan Xin Yuan. It was founded in the 1930s by his grandfather who emigrated here from his hometown of Quan Zhou in China. Mr Tho's father learnt to cook the dishes from grandpa Tho and then passed it to Mr Tho Cheng Kia who came to Singapore when he was 12 years old.

During the late 1970s, Mr Tho moved into outdoor catering and is now the biggest event caterer for some of the community centres in Singapore. I remember eating his food at many People's Association dinners. Many grassroots leaders and members of Parliament know him too.

Mr Tho describes his dishes as "food that fill the stomach". People in the olden days were very frugal, they seldom eat out. If they did, they would order starchy dishes that would keep their stomachs full.

For example, they would order a plate of Hokkien style fried noodles and the braised pork with steam buns. Both dishes contain large amounts of carbohydrates that will keep one full for a longer period of time. And ordering these two dishes were already a luxury in those days, normally they would just order a plate of fried noodles to share.  

Mr Tho is so friendly that we were chatting and laughing as if we were long time friends. Suddenly he asked his cook to fry a plate of his signature Sweet Potato Rice Cake although we politely declined his kind gesture. Mr Tho was not taking 'No' for an answer, so the dish was served. haha....

Quan Xin Yuan's in-house speciality dish, Sweet Potato Rice Cake is a VERY traditional Hokkien dish which is commonly found in Mr Tho's hometown. It is hardly seen in Singapore these days because of the tedious preparation steps and a long time involved in the process. The chef also must be skilful in order to prepare this tasty dish well.

The Sweet Potato Fried Rice Cakes stir fried with sambal chilli is a creation of Mr Tho Cheng Kia. Love the texture of the chewy rice cakes which was stir fried with freshly made roast pork, dried shrimps, garlic leek, sliced mushrooms and cabbage in a fragrant sambal chilli sauce.

It was a joyous and heartwarming evening with the 3rd and 4th generation of Quan Xin Yuan. Sincerely hope they will stay healthy and happy feeding us traditional Hokkien dishes for many more years.

Quan Xin Yuan 泉馨园 (清记) 海鲜菜馆
252 Jalan Besar S208925.
Nearest MRT station is Farrer Park.

寻找古早味的福建菜, 我们找上了已传承四代的老字号福建菜馆 - 泉馨园。

我们点了泉馨园的招牌菜, 有福建炒面、炒番薯粉糕、五香捆蹄、虾枣和扣肉和蒸包子。

新加坡泉馨园(清记) 海鲜菜馆

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