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Aglio e Olio is one of my favourite Italian pasta dishes.

Aglio e Olio means Garlic and Oil in

Italian, and one of the simplest pasta dishes to make.This is one dish which I dont mind drenched
in (good-quality olive) oil. Authentic Aglio e Olio only have a few key ingredients just garlic, olive
oil and pasta, so this is something you can whip up with minimum ingredients. While I do enjoy
indulging in tomato-based or cream-based pasta now and then, the law of diminishing returns
often sets in whenever I eat creamy pastas, where I find my enjoyment diminishing halfway
through. But for the light-and-fresh-tasting Aglio e Olio, I find that I can easily finish my plate and
still left hungry for just a bit more.
This is the first dish I made ever since I have my own kitchen. My earlier versions were
nightmarish because I frequently get burnt garlic. I also made lots of mistakes (like adding the
pasta while the garlic oil is still bubbling away on the pan) due to lack of research. After practising
this dish for the past four years, I think I may have got slightly better at making it. Here are some
tips to share.
Tips for making perfectly delicious Aglio e Olio
1) Pasta should be cooked in salted water which is almost as salty as sea water. The cooked pasta
will taste salted and this will reduce or eliminate the need to salt the dish later.
2) Do not add oil when cooking the pasta as doing so will prevent the pasta from absorbing the
salt or the overall flavour of the dish.
3) Al dente is an Italian terms referring to perfectly cooked pasta which is firm (but not hard), and
with a slight bite. Tip from my Italian friend Isa on how to tell if pasta is al dente usually the
best way is to taste it, but heres another method for inexperienced people: if you take a
spaghetti string thats cooking and cut it, you should see a white dot in the middle thats still hard.
This means the pasta is not cooked yet. As soon as the white dot disappears (but the middle part
is still a bit hard), then the pasta is al dente and you can drain it!
4) Reserve some water from cooking the pasta and add a few tablespoons of it to the final dish.
The pasta water not only helps to bind the ingredients, the starch in the pasta water will give the
dish a smoother finish.
5) Because you are working with minimum ingredients, the quality of the ingredients will make a
huge difference. Go for good quality olive oil and fresh parsley, where possible. Always use fresh
garlic instead of pre-chopped bottled garlic.
6) Tip for making perfect golden brown, not burnt garlic: the oil temperature must be just right
when you add the garlic, meaning the garlic should sizzle gently in the heated oil when added to
the pan (if the oil splatters violently or no reaction when garlic is added, it means the oil is either
over-heated or not heated enough).
7) Another tip for making perfect golden brown garlic: monitor the colour of the garlic as they cook
in the oil. Turn off the stove once the garlic turns light golden brown. The garlic will continue
cooking in the hot oil until it turns a lovely golden brown. If you only turn off the stove when they
reached the golden brown hue, they will continue cooking in the hot oil and become burnt. Should
the garlic not reach the desired golden brown, simply heat up the oil for another 5-10 seconds,
turn off the stove and let the garlic continue browning on its own.
8) This finishing touch may not follow the authentic Italian recipe and is entirely optional, but
adding a few small cubes of butter at the end will help give the pasta dish additional flavour and a
smooth, velvety finish.
9) Authentic Aglio e Olio is plain. However, it is now popular to add other ingredients like seafood,
mushrooms or meat to the basic Aglio e Olio to make a more complete meal.

(serves 2)
- 2 servings of pasta (about 180g spaghetti)
- 1 1/2 tbsp good quality olive oil
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced or chopped (not too finely)
- 2 chilli padi, sliced or 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (adjust or omit to your preference)
- 30g Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 20g butter, cubed
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1. Fill a pot with water (enough to submerge pasta) and about 1 tbsp sea salt. Bring the water to a
boil and then cook pasta according to the timing indicated on the packet, until al dente. Drain and
set aside the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water.
2. Heat olive oil in a sauce pan, add garlic and chilli padi/chilli flakes (if using). Saute the garlic
until it turns light golden brown.
3. Turn off the stove. The garlic will continue cooking in the hot oil on its own for a few more
seconds in the hot oil, until they turn a lovely golden brown.
4. Add cooked pasta, 1-2 tbsp reserve pasta water, chopped parsley and cubed butter to the garlic
& oil mixture. Stir to coat all the ingredients evenly. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked black
pepper. Aglio o Olio
1 pound dry spaghetti
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/2 cup olive oil (note: I prefer a regular olive oil for this recipe, as opposed to a
strongly flavored extra virgin olive oil)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (highly recommend Parmigiano-Reggiano)
*It's not traditional, but for extra richness add 1 tablespoon of butter when you
toss with the cheese.

1 piece fish fillet (mackerel or other white fish)
1 tsp shallot, minced
2 to 3 slices ginger, shredded
1 stalk spring onion, diced or shredded
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1/2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
cornflour/corn starch, for coating fish fillet
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
6 tbsp water
sesame oil,to taste
pepper,to taste
1 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp water

Rinse fish and wipe dry with kitchen papers. Season with salt, pepper and wine. Let sit for 10 minutes. Lightly coat
with cornflour. Set aside.
Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan. Pan fry the fish over medium-high heat until both sides are golden brown and
cooked through. Remove from the pan, cover to keep warm.
Add some more oil in the pan. Saute shallot, ginger and white spring onion dices. Pour in the sauce. Bring it to boil.
Add thickening and cook to preferred consistency. Pour the sauce over the fish. Garnish with spring onion. Serve

Green Bean with Sesame Dressing
I love sesame dressing for meats or vegetables. The aroma, texture and colour of sesame seeds enrich the whole dish and
bring it up to another level. When it comes to using sesame seeds, I often toast them before use, or I can say, I let the sesame
seeds dry pan-fry over medium-low heat (thats stir-frying without any oil on a frying pan). The heat would bring up the
fragrance of the seeds and make it much easier to mash. For making the sesame dressing, I used a kind of naturally brewed
Japanese soy sauce, that brings in rich soy flavour, yet not too salty. This dish can be served as a side or salad


300 gm green beans
35 gm toasted sesame seeds
2 Tbsp sugar
100 ml Yamasa soy sauce (or any kind of Japanese you like)
2 tsp mirin
salt, to taste


1. Rinse green beans and drain well. Trim both ends. Blanch in salted boiling water for 3 minutes. The beans should be
cooked and still crunchy. Drain and immediately rinse in cold water. Pat dry.
2. To make the sesame dressing: Place the sesame seeds into a mortar (or use a food processor to process briefly,
and make sure not to overprocess.) Grind the seeds until almost a paste, then add the sugar, mirin, and soy sauce.
Mix well. Season with salt if needed.
3. Put green beans in a large bowl. Mix the sesame dressing with the green beans. Arrange in a serving bowl or a
serving plate. Sprinkle more toasted sesame seeds if desired.

I used Yamasa soy sauce, that is naturally brewed and not too salty.
It's better to toast sesame seeds before grinding. I often dry fry them in a pan. When you smell the
aroma, its done. Beware not to burn them.

Braised Vegetables with Red Fermented Beancurd ()

During Chinese New Year, wed have plenty of delicious snacks, desserts and great meals, including lots of meat, like chicken,
pork, duck and fish - you name it, you have it. On the first day of Chinese New Year, my mother used to follow the Chinese
tradition and prepare a vegetarian dish. Its cooked in a large amount and kept in a large pot. Whenever a lunch or dinner is set
on our table during Chinese New Year, this vegetarian dish would be served as a side dish as well.

It seems to be a long, old tradition of having a meatless dish eaten on the first day of every lunar year. Some religious beliefs
might be the cause behind. I have no idea of how this tradition came into place. Every kid who is brought up in a Chinese family
gets used to eat this vegetarian dish on that day. I eat this dish simply because I like the taste though. You can use any
vegetables you like, and all the vegetables are cooked with red fermented beancurd, a creamy cheese-like delicacy which its
seldom eaten on its own, often used as a marinade in Chinese cooking.


1. Soak shiitake mushrooms, cloud ears, wood ears, beancurd sticks and cellophane noodles in water until softened.
2. Save the soaking water for mushrooms. Trim the mushrooms and cut into two halves if they are too big. Mix with
marinade and steam in a wok for 20 minutes over high heat. Set aside.
3. Trim cloud ears and wood ears, remove the hard stems. Cut tofu puffs into two halves. Blanch cloud ears, wood ears
and tofu puffs in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain well. Rinse Chinese cabbage and cut into sections about 4cm in
4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or claypot over medium-low heat. Saute ginger until aromatic. Add red fermented
beancurd paste and stir constantly, until fragrant. Toss in Chinese cabbage, increase heat to high. Add carrot,
mushrooms, cloud ears, wood ears, beancurd sticks and 1 cup of water (include the mushroom soaking water).
Cover and cook until all ingredients turn soft, stir occasionally. Check the water and replenish, if necessary, with
boiling water.
5. Add cellophane noodles, stir and cook until softened. Pour in thickening and cook to your preferred consistency.
Serve hot.

Stir-fried Green Beans with Minced Pork
Fried String Beans () that uses a unique way of preparing green beans. Its quite simple, just deep fry
the beans to bring out their natural sweetness before using them to stir fry with any other ingredients you like.
Believe or not, you wont taste this heavenly sweetness of green beans, if you blanch them in boiling water. Its
worth trying.

350 gm green beans
100 ground pork
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp XO sauce (or to taste), available at Asian grocery stores
a handful of snow cabbage (salted vegetable) , available at Asian grocery stores

2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cornflour
1 Tbsp water
a pinch of white pepper
1/3 tsp salt
A pinch of sugar
1. Soak snow cabbage in water for 20 minutes. Rinse and drain well. Chop into small pieces. Wash green beans
thoroughly and remove ends. Pat dry with kitchen towel. Marinate ground pork for 15 minutes.
2. Heat oil in wok or frying pan over medium heat. The oil should just cover the green beans. Test the oil with a little
piece of green bean. If bubbles arise, the oil is ready. Deep fry the green beans in hot oil until tender. Place on
kitchen papers to absorb excess oil.
3. Drain hot oil into a container and retain about 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in wok. Add marinated pork and stir fry until
cooked through. Set aside.
4. Heat oil to saut and quickly stir fry snow cabbage until aromatic. Toss in minced pork and green beans. Sprinkle
with salt, sugar (and cooking wine if desired) to taste. Lastly, add XO sauce. Dish up.
1. Make sure that no water should be with any green beans before adding into the hot oil to deep fry.
2. The used oil could be recycled for stir-frying with meat or seasoning for steamed fish.
3. Adding some water and cornflour to minced pork would make the texture of meat taste smoother after stir-frying.
Oven-Grilled Chicken Wings
5 chicken wings (medium size, cleaned and pat dry)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper powder
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
3 tablespoons of ginger juice
1 teaspoon light soya sauce
1 teaspoon cornflour
Place chicken wings in a bowl and mix well with marinating ingredients. Cover and allow to
marinade in the fridge for at least 5 hours or overnight.
Heat oven to 150 degrees celcius.
Drizzle baking pan with olive oil before placing chicken wings on the pan. Sprinkle some black
pepper powder over the chicken wings (optional).
Bake the chicken wings for 30 minutes or till cooked. To check whether the chicken wings are
thoroughly cooked, take a sharp knife / chopstick and pierce through the most fleshy part of the
wings till it reaches the bone. If clear juice runs out, it is cooked. If not, cook further.
Once chicken wings are cooked, remove juice from pan. Change oven setting to top grille at 200
degrees celcius and grille chicken wings till desired brownness.
Serve hot.
If desired, the juice which has been removed from the pan can be reduced in a cooking pan with a
little cornflour.


Tofu cup
Mushrooms cup
Chopped Red onions 1
Garlic paste 1tsp
Iceberg lettuce leaves 4
Brown sugar 2tsp
Green chili 2
Water chestnuts 1cup
Chinese cellophane noodles

(Special sauce)
Sugar 2tsp
Soy sauce 1tsp
Rice Vinegar 2tsp
Ketchup 2tsp
Lemon juice 1tsp
Sesame oil 1tsp
Chili sauce 2tsp
Water - 2tsp


To make the special sauce dissolves the sugar in the water in a small bowl. Add remaining ingredients
and mix well and refrigerate until ready to serve the lettuce wraps.For stir-fry sauce mix the soy sauce,
brown sugar, and vinegar together in a small bowl and keep aside.Fry the noodles as directed and keep

Heat 2 tspn of oil and fry the tofu on both sides until crispy and golden color.Remove from pan and
place on a paper towel. Cut the mushrooms and water chestnut as small peas. When tofu and is cool cut
it as the size of mushrooms and water chestnuts are.
Now heat the oil in the same pan and add tofu,garlic,onions,water chestnuts,green chili and mushrooms.
Cook it well.Now add the stir fry sauce and saut the mixture for a couple minutes.Allow it to cook well.
Then break the fried cellophane noodles into small pieces and spread evenly over a lettuce
cups.Arrange the mixture over the noodles and top with special sauce.Enjoy with your family..

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My late mum used to make a Chinese vegetarian dish (Loh Hon Jai) on the first day of Chinese New Year. I
have not eaten this dish for a long time until my next door neighbour, Richard and Jeanie shared it with me.
The dish brought back so much sweet memories and Im really grateful to Richard and Jeanie for sharing the
recipe with me.

Fresh oyster mushrooms
Dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted or fresh shiitake mushrooms
Cloud ear mushrooms, reconstituted
Cabbages, blanched
Fried gluten (mien gen), blanched to remove excess oil
Can fried gluten, remove top later of oil but reserve the liquid
Fried tofu puff, the rectangular type
Fried bean curd stick, blanched until soft
Bean curd skin, lightly fried
Vemicelli (tung fen), cooked in boiling water for 2 minutes and rinse off in cold water
Shanghai bean curd, red (lam yue), mushed up to dissolve in some water and strain if necessary
Corn starch solution
few cloves of garlic, chopped
You may any mushrooms in season or can mushroom like straw mushroom, button mushroom, inoki
mushroom, etc. The Shanghai red bean curd can be substituted with oyster sauce.

The night before, reconstitute the dried mushrooms like cloud ear, dried shiitake mushrooms and lily bud (if
using). Keep the water for reconstituting the shiitake mushroom for use in the cooking later.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the cabbage
until soften. Use the same pot of water to cook the
vermicelli. Lastly, blanch the fried gluten, fried tofu
puff and fried bean curd stick to remove excess oil.
On medium heat, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a
large wok and fry the chopped garlic until fragrant but
not burn. Remove the garlic for returning to the dish
Stir fry all the mushrooms, with the hardy ones in first
for a few minutes. Season with white pepper.
Then add in the blanched fried gluten, tofu puff, bean
curd skin, garlic and the can fried gluten together with
the liquid in the can. Also add the shiitake mushrooms
soaking water and continue to stir fry. Season with
more white pepper. The dish can be frozen at this
Next, the cabbage and the cloud ear mushrooms go in.
Stir fry for another few minutes to combine well.
Season the dish with the Shanghai red bean curd
mixtures or oyster sauce. Add more water if needed so
that there is enough liquid in the dish.
Thicken the sauce with some corn starch solutions.
Lastly, toss in the cooked vermicelli and mix well. Add
salt to taste.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

3 1/2 pound chicken, cut in 8 pieces
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp ground dried herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage)
2 cups buttermilk
*marinate 6 hrs in the fridge
for the seasoned flour:
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

2 1/2 quarts peanut oil for frying
Fry at 350F for about 20 25 mins in total