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Thursday, 20 March 2014

When Taps Run Dry, Keep Calm and Cook Simple Meals

Of late we have been going on quite a number of one pot meals due to water rationing.   We have been seeing very little rain for months but it has been raining this past two days, hopefully it will continue this way and dams will get filled again.  For now, we are getting tap water on a 2 day rotational basis.  So, the lesser pots/bowls to wash the better :)

Donburi (Japanese all in one meal of a meat/vegetables dish served over rice in a bowl) inspired meals are always welcomed in my home.  Perhaps it's entwined in our culture,  the satisfaction of a even one simple dish over hot rice is just hard to describe.  The sight of each grain of rice getting coated with some heavenly looking gravy and with steam still coming out of is already a sight worth admiring for me :) 

Mapo Tofu is a dish which originated from the Szechuan province in China.   There are many interesting stories about this dish but essentially they centre around an old grandmother("Po") with pockmarked("Mazi") face, who created this dish. As in its name, Mapo Tofu is a tofu dish cooked with minced meat and chilli bean sauce.    The authentic version of this dish is fiery and some to the effect of tongue numbing with the amount of Szechuan peppercorns used in it.   The burst of flavors for this dish is quite amazing.

However, this is a Chuka (Japanese style Chinese dish) version that i am sharing here, it is not as spicy and with a tinge of sweetness coming from the use of Mirin.  Have hot steaming rice ready and just spoon the dish over when it is ready.  Throw in some steamed/blanched greens and you will have a complete meal to go in 15 minutes.

As much as we love our rice, i try not to serve rice everyday of the week.   If  pockmarked grandmother tofu earlier on was funny for you, i bet you will laugh at this one too, translated Claypot Loh Shu Fun means Claypot Rat Noodles! Worry not though, there are no rats in them!!!   It is just that the noodles look a little like a rat's wriggly tail :)

This is another fast to go dish, all you need is to have some minced meat and vegetables, the seasonings used are pretty common if you make Chinese cuisines frequently.  For some extra kick we love adding some sambal belacan (spicy prawn paste) into it.

It is not necessary to use a claypot for this but  it does seem to taste better. Heat is confined within the small little pot thus locking in all the wonderful flavors.

Recipe-Mapo Tofu
Source: Spotted on Her Frozen Wings with recipe from Just One Cookbook

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 160 gms ground pork
  • 1 package silken tofu
  • 2 stalks spring onions, sliced
  • 2.5 tbsp chilli bean paste (1.5 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (omitted)
Thickening solution
  • 1tsp corn flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. In a large pan or skillet, heat up oil on medium high heat, saute garlic and ginger till fragrant.
  2. Add the meat and break up with a wooden spoon.
  3. When the meat is cooked, add the sauce mixture. Stir to combine and add the tofu. Cook until tofu is heated through. 
  4. Mix gently and try not to mash the tofu too much or dish will become unsightly. 
  5. Pour in the cornstarch solution for sauce to thicken.
  6. Stir in the green onions just before taking it off the heat.
  7. Spoon onto hot rice or serve separately as a side dish.

Recipe - Claypot Loh Shu Fun

Ingredients (Portion for 1 pax)
  • 100-150g loh shu fun
  • 100g minced meat (pork/chicken)
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp corn flour
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 3 meatballs
  • 2 shitake mushrooms, soaked in some water to soften then drain and slice
  • 2 baby corns, sliced
  • A handful of choy sum/bok choy
  • 2 stalks spring onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cooking caramel
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chicken stock granules
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sambal belacan (optional)
  1. Marinade minced meat with soy sauce, corn flour and a dash of pepper. Set aside.
  2. Wash and drain loh shu fun.  Blanch with some hot water to remove oil then drain it.
  3. Heat up 1 tbsp of oil in the claypot.  
  4. Add in garlic and shallot.  Fry until fragrant.
  5. Add in minced meat and break up the meat with a wooden spoon.
  6. Add in mushroom slices.
  7. Add in loh shu fun and seasonings.  Stir to mix well.
  8. Add in meatballs and baby corns.
  9. Add in water and let it come to a boil.  
  10. Taste and add seasonings if required.
  11. Add in choy sum and mix well.
  12. Crack an egg on top.  At this point, some will turn off the heat, cover the pot and allow the egg to slow cook on its own.  It looks prettier this way, stir the egg in just before eating.  But to be on the safe side, i prefer to mix mine in and continue with the heat for another minute or so.
  13. Garnish with spring onions before serving.


Both these two dishes are my favourites and what is more favourite is because it is one pot meal; less work, less washing.... everything in one pot "kaw dim". My place here been heavy pouring everyday for four days now.

Simple dish but delicious ^_^

Yumm! One dish but so good! Long time didn't have this noodles already, got to go find some for dinner later:D

I love one pot meals and I agree that the gravy soaking the rice is the best part. Though it rains, the volume is still not enough and I am afraid this water rationing will go on longer that scheduled. It is worse when there is no water on Saturday and Sunday when I am itching to bake or cook!

I've been cooking very simple meals too. The first few days of water ration, I even used all disposable plates and bowls but they were very unstable, I was so scared they'd spill and I ended up having to clean up more! haha. Would love to try your Mapo Tofu, looked super yummy :)

Se ve muy delicioso una buena receta con verduras y carne en olla el sabor es irresistible ,abrazos

I love one pot meals. This might look simple, but I know it's delicious and full of flavours.

water rationing really change our routine huh, I also try to cook simple dish. These two dishes sound really delicious.

@Mel: Yes, one pot kaw dim, easy peasy :))

@Shirley: Thank you for visiting and the compliments :)

@Jeannie:As long as yummy, one dish is enough sometimes :)

@Phong Hong: I guess we have to bear with it for now and keep praying for more rain...

@Esther: Using disposables is a great idea too, lesser washing :) This chuka version of mapo tofu is yummy and child friendly since it's not fiery spicy.

@Rosita: Thank you for compliments. Maybe you would like to give it a try someday :)

@Angie: Thank you for compliments :)

@Sonia: Oh yes, this water rationing is definitely effecting our daily lives. But on hindsight it is giving us a valuable lesson on water conservation too :)

I know what u mean.. It's been so disruptive without water. I m glad it's going to be over soon. Your mapo tofu looks so appetizing..:)

yeah i read that the water rationing exercise is still going on until further notice...must be so sien..i think this mapo tofu is just as good as the earlier mapo pai kuat! thx again for linking..your claypot lo shu fu is making me hungry ..:)

I've seen this Japanese version from Lena's and I think I'll like it much better than the Chinese version :D Still on a water ration ?! Hope it'll get better soon !

Hi, sorry to read about your water rationing. But your tofu and lou shi fun look so inviting.
Nothing beat the home cook meal.

Have a nice week ahead,regards.

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