Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Simple Hershey's Bread Loaf (Breadmaker) 自制可可面包

I have been baking my own breads and making my own jams ever since I got my breadmaker in November 2014. I cut down drastically on retail breads. I cannot be happier with the decision as I get to create some breads that are unique and unavailable from bakeries. 

It can be quite boring to be baking white breads and wholemeal breads all the time. I like to experiment with different flavours and ingredients. This simple Hershey's Bread Loaf 自制可可面包 is one such end product out of my trials. I will share many more in future.

Simple as it is, rest assure that this is one loaf that feels good, smells good and tastes good....

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Ingredients (enough for a 750 gm bread loaf) to be added in strict sequence :

  • 260 ml water
  • 1.5 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar (You would have realised that I really cut down on salt & sugar in my recipe. Add more to your taste if you prefer.)
  • 400 gm white bread flour
  • 4 tbsp Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp instant yeast

(tsp = teaspoon; tbsp = tablespoon)    

Tip 1 : Ingredients must be added in right sequence. Otherwise, the bread may not rise tall and well textured.

Tip 2 : Store yeast in freezer for longer life and effectiveness.

Tip 3 : When adding ingredients, do not let yeast get in direct contact with salt and water. Salt is a yeast inhibitor. It would retard or stop yeast activity.


Do not jump queue. Ingredients must be added in proper sequence in order to get a tall and well textured loaf. Add 260 ml water to bread pan first.
Follow by 1.5 tbsp cooking oil. 
Add 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tsp sugar.
Fold in 400 gm bread flour.
Add 4 tbsp Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder.
Lastly, 2 tsp instant yeast.
Lock bread pan back to breadmaker and close lid.
Set breadmaker to 'White Bread' baking mode. Select the right weightage (750 gm) and preferred colour tone (light, mid or dark) and press 'Start'. In this instance, it takes 4 hr 10 mins to deliver. Use 'Rapid' or 'Super Rapid' mode if rushing for time.
The knead blade would start working. After about 5 minutes, you would see a nicely kneaded dough. In the first few minutes, if you see the dough being too watery, add a little bread flour. If you see the dough being too dry, add a little water (tsp by tsp) slowly until satisfied. Leave the dough alone after that. Do not flip open the lid too often to peep as that would disrupt the fermentation. Leave it alone till the bread is baked. 
Remove bread loaf from breadmaker when time's due. Do not cut the bread at this stage. Cool it down first.
Beautiful loaf that is soft inside and crusty outside. Well textured with no lumps of unbaked flour inside. Smells very chocolatey....
Use bread knife to cut the loaf. Other types of knives would not work as good.
The slice goes best with chocolate's sheer indulgence.

We like this Hershey's Bread Loaf 自制可可面包 so much that we gobbled 4 slices of it right after a heavy dinner.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Beef with Bitter Gourd & Black Beans 豆豉苦瓜炒牛肉

Stir Fry Beef with Bitter Gourd in Black Bean Sauce 豆豉苦瓜炒牛肉 - Love it or hate it? 

People usually shun away from this dish because of their resistance to bitter gourds. I can only say you do not know what you miss! Somehow, the combination of beef, bitter gourds and fermented black beans seem like a match made in heaven. They are just able to bring out the best of one another! 

Bitter gourds are no longer so bitter and scary with Stir Fry Beef with Bitter Gourd & Black Beans 豆豉苦瓜炒牛肉. Rather, this dish could become an acquired taste that you grow to love....

Ingredients (enough for 3 to 4 pax with steamed rice) :

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  • 200 gm sliced beef/flank steak (cut against grains)
  • 1/2 bitter gourd (sliced)
  • 1 big yellow onion (sliced)
  • 5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 3 slices of ginger (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp corn/potato starch 
  • 2 tbsp water (for starch mixture)
  • Cooking oil

Meat Marinate :

  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/4 tsp white grounded pepper
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce 
  • 1 tbsp shoaxing rice wine
  • 1 tbsp corn/potato starch flour


  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp fermented black beans
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp grounded black pepper
  • 50 ml water

(tsp = teaspoon; tbsp = tablespoon)

Tip 1 Do note that raw beef turns foul very quickly when thawed. It is not advisable to marinate raw beef for long in room temperature.

Tip 2Replace beef with pork slices if you do not cook or/and consume beef.


Slit bitter gourd into half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and white inner flesh. This would remove much bitterness from the bitter gourd.
Cut bitter gourd into slices at a 45-degree angle. It would allow thickness and texture conducive for stir frying.
Boil a pot of water and add 1 tsp salt. Fold in bitter gourd slices and blanch for 1 minute when water boils. 
Immediately transfer bitter gourd slices to a bowl of ice cold water after blanch. Soak for a minute, drain and set aside.
Combine all marinating ingredients into a bowl and toss evenly with raw beef.
Leave to marinate for 15 minutes. 
Meanwhile, combine all sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir well. Set aside.
Heat cooking oil in skillet/wok. Add aromatic ingredients in sequence : ginger first then follow by garlic.
Fold in marinated beef slices and quick toss till 80% cooked.
Transfer beef onto a plate or bowl and set aside.
Combine 1 tsp corn/potato starch flour and 2 tbsp water into a bowl and stir well.
Heat cooking oil to skillet/wok again.
Toss in bitter gourd slices that were set aside earlier and lightly sauté.
Add yellow onions slices and give it a quick toss.
Turn to high heat. Add fermented black beans. Toss all ingredients for 1 minute. 
Fold in starch and give all ingredients a quick toss again.
Let ingredients simmer for 30 seconds.
Toss in beef slices that were set aside earlier and stir fry all ingredients till fully cooked and evenly coated with sauce. The sauce would be cooked down and thickened at this stage.
Add 1/2 tsp sesame oil before transferring to serving plate.

Need I say more? The aroma in the house tells it all! Stir Fry Beef with Bitter Gourd & Black Beans 豆豉苦瓜炒牛肉 - definitely another family classic.

Pork Rib King! 排骨王

What are the 2 most popular pork dishes we order from restaurants or eateries in Singapore? We cannot go wrong with Pork Rib King 排骨王 and Stir Fry Sweet and Sour Pork 咕噜肉!

I had this misconception that it would be freaking difficult to cook these dishes in the past. Indeed, they are not as simple as normal stir fry dishes. There is an additional step - deep frying the pork in both instances. As much as I hate seeing my kitchen all greasy after one cooking session, I just love Pork Rib King 排骨王 too much to not attempt it myself.

It took me a while to realise that Pork Rib King 排骨王 is not really pork ribs, but pork chop meat. I do not mind it at all as I get to enjoy more tasty bites out of the juicy meat. The juicy meat coated with perfectly caramelised sauce is just worth all the cleaning thereafter....

Ingredients (enough for 4 pax with steamed rice) :
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  • 500 gm pork shoulder butt 五花肉 (cut to small pork chops slices)
  • 4-5 cloves of pressed garlic (aromatics)
  • chopped coriander/cilantro (optional)(as aromatics and garnishing)

Meat Marinate :
  • 1/2 tsp five spice powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce 
  • 1 tsp sesame oil 
  • 1 tbsp shoaxing rice wine
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 4 tbsp corn/potato starch flour

  • 5 tbsp tomato sauce/ketchup 
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey (optional)(helps to neutralize sour taste)
  • 1 tbsp kecap manis/sweet sauce (optional)(helps to neutralise sour taste)
  • 1 tbsp chilli sauce
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil

(tsp = teaspoon; tbsp = tablespoon)

Tip 1 :Do not deep fry meat straight from the refrigerator. Let it rest in room temperature for 30 minutes before cook so that the meat would not be overcooked outside. We want tender meat both inside and outside.

Tip 2 : Choose a brighter colour tomato sauce/ketchup if you prefer your ribs to be brighter in colour. My ribs look dark as the brand I use has a very dark tone. 


Blend in all sauce ingredients and stir well. Set aside. 
Combine all marinating ingredients into bowl with raw meat and mix well.
Leave in refrigerator to marinate for 2 to 3 hours. Let meat rest in room temperature for 30 minutes before deep fry.
When time's due, deep fry marinated meat either in a deep fryer or skillet/wok.
Deep fry till meat turn brown.
Remove meat from deep fryer/skillet/wok and set aside. Lightly pat with paper towels to remove excess oil.
Heat cooking oil in a clean skillet/wok and lightly sauté pressed garlic till light golden brown.
Fold in mixed sauce that was set aside earlier. Simmer for 2 minutes at medium heat.
Toss in pork chop slices. Turn to high heat and toss meat till they are evenly coated with sauce.
Sauce should be cooked down after a short while. Turn off heat and add chopped coriander (optional) and give it a quick final toss.
Transfer to serving plate and serve hot with steamed rice. 

My Pork Rib King 排骨王 may look a little darker but the taste and feel receive thumbs up from my husband. And he is usually unbiased....