Warm Chocolate Molten Cake

One of my favorite dessert.  

Imagine filling your mouth and lips all over with warm melting chocolate fudge, while enjoying the crispy outer layer.  Blissful!

Make 4 portions


100g  Dark chocolate
100g  Unsalted Butter (with extra to grease the trays)
2 eggs
60g    White sugar
20g    All purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon Vanilla extract (optional) 
Cocoa powder

Icing Sugar

1)  Preheat oven 180C/356F.
2)  Butter four round metal baking pans or ramekins. (around 120ml each)  Line with a small piece of baking sheet at the bottom.  And sprinkle with cocoa powder.
3)  Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl, set over a pan of hot water.  Stir until smooth and set aside to cool down.

4)  Mix sugar and eggs one by one.  Beat until creamy and fluffy.  Add vanilla extract and fold in sieved flour with a spatula.
5)  Mix chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.  Mix well.
6)  Divide the mixture among each pans or ramekins equally.
7)  Bake for 7-9 minutes.
8)  Pour upside down, top with icing sugar and serve hot.

1)  You may put the mixture in the fridge and bake before serving.
2)  Every oven may have different properties, hence exact time of baking may varied.  As long as the surfaces are firm, while poking with a toothpaste or needle, the middles should be creamy and squidgy.   It will become normal chocolate cake (without the molten texture) if over done.
3)  The baking sheet will help the cake come out of the mold.  Run a knife around the edge will help too.
4)  Serve onto individual plates.  Whipped cream, mint leaves and/ or strawberry may be added as garnish.


    Penne with Zucchnin and Garlic

    It's a really quick recipe for the hungry vegetarians.  The secret to Italian cooking is good extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan cheese.  It makes all the difference!

    For 2 servings


    400g Penne pasta
    2 medium zucchini
    2 garlic cloves, chopped
    1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
    6-8 pieces Fresh Basil, chopped
    1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
    Olive Oil

    1)  Boil water and cook penne for about 10 minutes, or until soften. We prefer it stays chewy.
    2)  Cut the top and bottom part of the zucchini.  Wash, peel and sliced.  Set aside.
    3)  While cooking the penne, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet pan. Fry chopped garlic until slightly brown but not burnt.
    4)  Add the zucchini, salt, pepper.  Saute for 10 minutes until zucchini is tender but not too soft.
    5)  Add the drained penne to the zucchini.  Mixed well.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese.  Mix in basil last and leave some as garnish.
    6)  Drizzle with additional olive oil when serve.

    Chinese Crispy Roasted Pork Belly

    I miss this Cantonese roasted pork belly so much while traveling.  It's not very complicated to make, only not for our Muslim friends and it takes one night ahead for preparation.

    About 1kg        Pork belly
    1 tablespoon   Shaohsing Rice Cooking Wine
    Salt, pepper
    Coarse Sea Salt
    1 tablespoon    Five Spices Powder
    1 teaspoon       Sugar
    2 tablespoon    Vinegar
    Serve with mustard

    1)  Wash the whole piece of pork belly, clean up the hair, if any.  Pat dry. 
    2)  Rub cooking wine, salt, pepper, sugar, then five spices powder on the meat part of the pork belly and on the side. (not on the skin part)
    3)  Flip over with skin part on top.  Put on a plate and keep in the fridge for 12 hours, without cover.  Let skin dry up.

    After 12 hours
    4)  Preheat oven.  200C/395F
    5)  Prick tiny holes all over skin of the pork belly with metal needles.  Do not go as deep as the fat layer.

    6)  Place pork skin side on top.  Wrap the pork belly with tin foil and make a tray shape on all four sides to avoid fat spilling out.
    7)   Brush vinegar on top of pork skin.  Then rub and press a layer of coarse sea salt all over the skin, covering the surface.

    8)  Bake for 45-50 minutes
    9)  Take away the whole layer of coarse sea salt.
    10) Open up the tin foil.  Place the pork belly over a wire rack and put back into the oven to broil for 10-15 minutes until the skin becomes cracking and puffy.
    11) Cut into small pieces when cool down a little.
    12) Serve with mustard.

    Extra Notes:
    1)  The more tiny holes you prick on the pork skin, the crispier it becomes.  But beware not to prick too deep till the fat part, otherwise, it would not become crispy.
    2)  Five spices powder is actually a mix of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, sichuan pepper, fennel seeds and sometimes including anise seed, ginger root, nutmeg, turmeric, amomum villosum pods, white cardamom pods, licorice, black pepper, mandarin orange peel.
    3)  Remember to turn on the ventilator. or your kitchen/ your friend's kitchen will be filled with crispy pork aroma!

    Chinese Vegetarian Fried Rice

    A real typical Cantonese dish and it's a good way to get rid of leftover rice.

    For 2-3 servings

    Steamed Rice (2 bowls)
    2 Eggs
    1 Onion
    1 tablespoon of ginger (optional)
    Mixed Vegetables, chopped (Lettuces, carrot, peas or any other vegetables)
    a pinch of Salt
    1 tablespoon of Vegetable Oil
    Soy sauce (optional)

    1) Prepare the steamed rice (refer to 'Chinese style white rice')
    2) Cut lettuces in thin slices, carrot and onion in small cubes (size of peas), prepare the peas and wash, set aside.
    3) Add oil to heated pan, turn to medium heat, stir-fry the onion until tender.
    4) Add ginger, all vegetables and salt to the onion, keep stir-frying.
    5) Add rice and keep stir-frying to keep every pieces of rice separate as far as possible
    6) Add beaten egg and mix well
    7) Add some soy sauce and stir-fry well.
    8) Serve while it's hot!

    Extra Tips:
    1) It's better to use rice that kept for overnight, so it's more dry for stir-frying and gives a better texture.
    2) The fried rice could be mixed with anything, like shrimp, beef slice, chicken slice etc. Add after the onion and vegetables.
    3) When adding meat, marinate with a pinch of salt, soy sauce, oil, corn flour 30 minutes ahead (if ingredients not available, only salt and oil is possible)

    Chinese Steamed White Rice

    You could actually find rice in most part of the world.

    In South America, local cook rice with a lot of water and need a sieve to discard those hot water at the end, which seems really complicated and wasting all the nutrients. In Turkey, for example, to become a decent bride-to-be, a girl need to learn their particular way of rice-making, with oil, spices and salt.

    Many Chinese nowadays only learn making rice with a rice cooker.  It's simple enough, but how about without one?

    For Cantonese, we only make rice with water and the water portion should be just right.  My dad taught me the simple way to make rice in my childhood, where he believed cooking rice with a claypot taste best.

    A very simple Chinese way of making steamed rice that you could do in any kitchen!


    1) Put rice in a pot, wash a few time to discard the dirts and sand, until the water turns clear.

    2) Add drinking water. Use your finger to measure the water level, for instance, 1 inch from base of pot to surface of rice, then another inch from top of rice to top of water surface.  Meaning, about 1 portion of rice: 2 portion of water

    3) Turn to high heat to get the water boiling with the pot covered.  When boiling, switch to low heat.

    4) When the water are all gone, leaving the rice surface still humid and bubbling with water, it's time to turn off the heat but keep the pot covered.

    5) Keep the pot covered with the remaining heat for about ten minutes.  The remaining water will be absorbed by the rice to make it well done.

    6) Ready to serve.

    Extra tips:
    1) Of course, claypot is believed to be the best for steamed rice, but any kind of pot is fine.
    2) The rice washing water should not be discarded, it is good for cleaning vegetables and washing face to take away grease in a natural way and gives you softer skin.
    3) Half cup of rice makes approximately one bowl of rice.
    4) Rice from different countries have different texture and taste.  Some people prefer Japanese pearl rice, being more chewy, with better outlook and color; some prefer Thai jasmine rice with more fragrance; others look for more fiber in black or brown rice.  We just loved the local Vietnam rice with exquisite fragrance.
    5) If you are preparing black or brown rice, you should soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before following the above process.  And you could mix white rice with the colored ones.
    6) If you are in a hurry, you could start making the rice with hot water.
    7) In case you find the rice too dry, after water already boiled away, you could still add some hot water to make it even softer.
    8) Depends on the softness of the rice you prefer, you may adjust the amount of water.

    Chinese Steamed Egg

    This is a very homey and healthy Cantonese dish.  With real simple ingredients but a few tricks, it's an absolutely low budget, healthy dish that goes well with steamed rice.  The texture is softer than tofu if you are successful.

    All you need is a stove, a medium sized flat bowl, a pot with cover that is slightly bigger than the bowl, eggs, water, salt, soy sauce, with a sieve and saran wrap to be ideal.

    Serve two to three.

    3 eggs
    Water (about 6 egg shells)
    Vegetable Oil
    Soy sauce
    Spring onion or parsley as garnish (optional)

    1) Beat the egg in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and a few drops of oil to the mixture.

    2) Keep the shell and add double portion of water, i.e., 1 egg: 2 egg shells of water.

    3) Clear the bubble over the egg mixture with a sieve or a spoon.

    4) Pour the egg mixture into a flat bowl and cover with Saran wrap.

    5) Put water in the pot and when it's boiling, put in the flat bowl to steam the egg mixture in medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

    6) When done, unfold the Saran wrap.  Add garnish, parsley or chopped spring onion and add some soy sauce to serve.

    *Extra Tips:
    1) For better result, beat the egg first before adding water.

    2) We found eggs from different country have different density.  You might need to add 0.5 or 1 extra portion of water if the mixture seems too thick.

    3) Boiled cold water works better than tap water in this recipe.  That is, use water that had been boiled but cool down for use, instead of tap water.  The texture will be less ideal if you add in tap water.

    4) Use saran wrap to cover the bowl of egg mixture before steaming.   If saran wrap is not available, cover the bowl with another plate to avoid steam and water dripping into the mixture, to ensure its smoothness.  Also make sure the pot is well covered, with enough hot water to avoid drying up, yet not too much to avoid overflowing into the egg mixture. 

    5) With the same recipe, but by adding sugar and or milk (without salt, oil and soy sauce), this will become a Chinese dessert.


    Spicy Eggplant

    That's one of our friend's favorite dish.  A tribute to Darius of Romania.

    The basic ingredients include red pepper, egg plant and soy sauce. The original recipe include minced pork, but if you don't eat pork or a total vegetarian, you could omit the pork and it tastes as good.

    Egg plant 500g
    Minced pork 180g
    Ginger (minced) 1/2 tablespoon
    Shallot 1 piece (skinned and minced)
    Garlic 1 clove (skinned and minced)
    Dried Chili 1 tablespoon

    Seasoning for Marinating Pork: (never mind this if you are vegetarian!)
    Soysauce 1 1/2 teaspoon
    Sugar 1/2 teaspoon
    Corn Starch 1/2 teaspoon
    Vegetable Oil 2 teaspoon
    Water 2 teaspoon
    Pepper to taste
    Soy sauce 2 teaspoon
    Salt 1/2 teaspoon
    Sugar 1/2 teaspoon
    Water 2 teaspoon
    Vegetable Oil and Pepper

    1) Wash the eggplant.  Cut the top and bottom stem part.  Shred to thick slices.  Soak in salt for 10mins and squeeze out the liquid.
    2) Marinate the minced meat with seasonings.  For at least 15 minutes.
    3) Put 2 tablespoon oil vegetable oil in pot, fry half of the minced garlic, shallot and ginger.
    4) Add eggplant. Slowly add water to soften the eggplant.  Add half tablespoon of dried chili.

    5) Put oil, the other half of minced garlic, shallot and ginger to fry, then add minced pork and dried chili.

    6) When the eggplant soften, add in cooked minced pork and all seasoning.  Mix well and cook with medium heat for 15 minutes.
    7) Serve hot.