Tuesday, 7 February 2023

What I Ate When I Was Home Alone During CNY

This Chinese New Year (CNY) I was home alone from the first to third day.  Since most food places would be closed, I made sure I stocked up my fridge with enough food for 3 days as I knew I'd be cooking and eating in as I don't even plan to leave the house, not even to go to the stores.  It was all about me enjoying some me time in front of the telly and eating the food I want to eat.

On Day 1 of CNY after Sunday Mass, we found our favourite chee cheong fun and yong tau foo shop open, so we had breakfast there before my family headed to Ipoh.  So, for lunch on the first day of CNY, I had leftovers from the Reunion Dinner the night before.  Leftovers in the in the form of an extra piece of fish (that I fried for the sambal fish which was not served), some balance ching long choy (dragon vegetables) and braised mushrooms.

I cooked assam fish with the balance piece of fried kau yue (mackerel) and the leftover assam paste that I used to cook assam prawns the night before.  I also stir-fried the balance ching long choy.  So, even though they were leftovers, they were still freshly cooked for the next day (only the 3 pcs of braised mushrooms were the "real" leftovers...hehe).

For dinner, I made a simple roast chicken (one deboned chicken leg) with roasted potatoes (one large potato) and capsicum (one pack of tri-coloured bell peppers)....always easy to make and satisfying to eat.  If you want your roast chicken skin to be crispy, make sure your chicken is thoroughly dry.  I like to air-dry my chicken overnight in the fridge before marinating.  Just before it goes into the oven, I let it come to room temperature and then rub some olive oil on it.

For the roasted potatoes, I usually steam or parboil them first (for about 10 minutes) to get it to soften (this way it'll need less time in the oven too).  Then toss it around in a colander to roughen up the edges.  Those roughed up edges = crispy bits in your potatoes.  And thanks to Jamie Oliver's recipe, your potatoes will always have crispy edges and soft, fluffy insides.

And if you happen to have the same microwave + convection oven like mine, I recently found out a neat trick that's pretty handy that I'd like to share with you.  To use the convection facilities, we have to take out the 3-pronged leg and the turntable it rests on that we use for microwave cooking.  If you find a tray that's not more than the diameter/length of the turntable, you can sit (and balance) the tray on the little knob/screw that the turntable sits on (instead of on a wire rack) and the tray will still rotate when we're on convection mode.  That way I don't have to toss my foodstuff around (as the oven is known to be hotter at some spots) to get a more even cooking/charring since the tray can rotate by itself which eliminates the need to check/move the food periodically.

On Day 2 of CNY, I made myself a western breakfast of crispy streaky bacon and scrambled eggs with cucumbers, honey Mandarins (why not!) and buttered toast (this bread, bought from a bakery on the eve of CNY, was very soft and fluffy).

I usually have my eggs sunny side up or in omelette form.  This was my first attempt at making scrambled eggs.  Yes, it's rather surprising isn't it to find out I've never attempted to make scrambled eggs.  Turns out it's quite easy to nail successfully.  I did google on how it was supposed to be done.  Some recipes will tell you to add milk while others say to add water.  I did neither and it still turned out great.  The key to getting it right is to cook it low and slow (aka slowly on low heat).

Start with a knob of butter on a non-stick pan.  Once melted, pour in two well beaten eggs that have been seasoned with salt.  Let it sit for a while untouched (about 30 seconds).  Then, just keep the eggs moving by scraping the pan with your spatula.  Do not stir vigorously if you want to keep your eggs in big ribbons.  When you see your eggs with some runny parts still, they're about done.  You can take it off the heat and pour them onto a plate.  The residual heat will cook them just right.  Sprinkle with chopped chives (I only had spring onions) and a twist of freshly cracked black pepper to serve.

The scrambled eggs turned out rather fluffy.  I enjoyed it with a cup of hot white coffee.  If you've not had eggs on toast with a side of honey Mandarin wedges, try it coz I found it very refreshing eaten together with mouthfuls of bread, eggs and bacon.  It was like having freshly squeezed orange juice on the!

Lunch was a simple fried egg and vegetable stir-fry of leeks with lap cheong (Chinese dried sausage).  This portion was made with one leek and one strip of lap cheong.

Nailed the oozy egg yolk...yessss!  Since discovering the combination of charred lap cheong with leeks, this is the third year in a row that I've bought (and cooked) this leek that I found in a small neighbourhood supermarket coz it's different from the usual leeks sold (this one has more white parts and the green parts are not stringy).

For dinner, it was a simple but decadent scallops and chicken porridge with lots of chopped coriander and topped with fried shallots (from a bottle).  The porridge was first cooked with choi yin kai (kampong chicken) bones for half an hour.  Then, dried scallops were added (for a further 20 minutes) before finishing off with finely diced chicken cubes (marinated with soy, white pepper and sesame oil) in the last 10 minutes of cooking.  Just before dishing up, toss in lots of chopped coriander in the last minute.

One hour may seem but like a long cook time but making porridge needs patience to get the consistency right.  Even though it's time consuming, it's still an easy all-in-one-pot cook where the ingredients just need to simmer (with periodic checks).  A hot porridge eaten in a cold air-conditioned setting in front of the telly is so comforting.

Day 3 
of CNY started with a late breakfast of a bakwa sandwich and a cup of coffee! ;)  Why not since I already have bakwa on my hands.

I've always loved a bakwa sandwich and would even order it through ShopeeFood.  Similarly, I made mine with a fried omelette and thinly sliced cucumbers.  Only thing that wasn't in the bakwa sandwich was chicken floss.

My family returned home on Day 3 of CNY, so I cooked dinner as well.  There were steamed chickenfried ikan bilis with onions (my son's favourite), minced pork omeletteleeks with lap cheong and ching chow bok choy...all no-sweat, simple-to-cook dishes.

I think I managed to sneak in some auspicious ingredients in this meal too...hehe.  There's chicken, pork, lap cheong, leeks, ikan bilis (does tiny fish count, lol) and bok choy (it seems this small, leafy green vegetable represents a few things...longevity and good fortune for the future, quite obvious from the word 'choy', isn't it?).

, I even had time to make an attempt at cooking a poon choy for one filled with chicken, prawns, lap cheong, mushrooms, abalone, scallops and vegetables.  After all, I had most of the ingredients already (+ some leftovers from the reunion dinner) that were just right for a poon choy.

It was just a matter of blanching prawns and vegetables, steaming chicken and lap cheong and assembling the ingredients into yet another one-pot dish.  I even had time to attempt a lame carving of a bunny-shaped carrot.  That's the beauty of cooking for one!

I also cooked two tubs of braised mushrooms with abalone, dried scallops and hoi see (dried oysters) to give-away.  This was made with the inclusion of hoi see (which sounds like good things in Cantonese) since my sister-in-law likes to eat hoi see (I, personally, wouldn't add that to my braised mushroom dish since I'm not a fan of it).

Well, I may be home alone.....and eating alone this CNY...but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy my meals, right?  Chilling out at home, eating what I want, when I want, with no-stress cooking is a real holiday in itself that's meant to be savoured! ;D  P/S: This is my last cook-in, eat-in CNY post, I promise (I'm sensing some yawns).....hee..hee! ^_~


  1. First time I see 1pax poon choi! Win liao!

    1. Oh, thank you...but I actually borrowed the "idea" from restaurants when I saw their one pax poon choi promotion two years ago...hehehe! ;)

  2. What? Yawns? No lah, I love this post! You certainly pampered yourself, didn't you? I love all your meals for one. They are all simple to cook and yet very tasty and satisfying. You even managed a welcome home dinner for your family. Nice!

    P.S. I dislike dried oysters as I find the taste too strong for me. And your "lame" bunny shaped carrot. I saw that in your previous post but forgot to comment about it and now I have another chance hee..hee...

    1. Thanks for loving the post. Oh, I don't mean "yawns" as in this post. I meant 4 cook-in, eat-in CNY posts in a row may be too boring for my readers to read....hah..hah. P/S: Yet another thing we both too like. I find the taste too strong also which can ruin the taste of the braised mushroom dish...but for people who are fans, they put them in dishes like braised mushrooms, porridge and even soups.

  3. Seem like you had really good time during you're alone at home, eat well and binge-watching!
    I always forgot the drying step when roasting chicken, so it always ended up very "wet". >_<

    1. Good food + the telly is the greatest combo, isn't it? Kekeke! Yeah, I sometimes skip the drying step too coz it takes too long to air-dry in the fridge. In such case, I try to dab dry the chicken with a paper towel instead.


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