X for XO for #AtoZChallenge: easy XO fried rice recipe

XO stands for eXtra Old for cognac – a variety of brandy liquor – that has been stored for a minimum of 6 years (from 2016 onward, a minimum of 10 years).

Cognac, named after the town Cognac in France, must be twice distilled in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in Limousin or Tronçais oak barrels.

Since brandy has been used for:

♥ cake & pie toppings

♥ steak sauces

♥ soups such as onion soup

♥ Christmas pudding

♥ XO fish head bee hoon (thick noodle) in Singapore

May I recommend using XO cognac for simple home-cooked dishes like fried rice?

XO fried rice by ServicefromHeart
Since I was using leftover rice for baby Ren – which I purposely cooked softer, my fried rice was slightly soggy.

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 28 Mon, I lovingly present a recipe of XO fried rice by ServicefromHeart.

XO fried rice by ServicefromHeart
Colorful rice grains of mixed white, red, brown rice

Serving: 1

Preparation & cook time: < 15 minutes


♥ 1 bowl pre-cooked rice, dried & chilled

♥ 2 tbsp olive oil

♥ 1 tbsp sesame oil

♥ 2 cloves garlic, minced

♥ 1 slice ginger, minced

♥ 1 tsp anchovies powder

♥ 1 tsp dark soy sauce (kecap manis)

pepper, to taste

♥ 1 tbsp spring onions, chopped

♥ 2 tbsp XO cognac

♥ 1 egg

♥ 4 scallops (optional)

♥ 1 carrot, diced (optional)

♥ 1 stalk celery, sliced (optional)

♥ 1 tbsp peas (optional)


1. Heat oil using high heat to stir fry garlic and ginger until fragrant.

2. Sauté vegetables (carrots, celery, peas)

3. Add scallops. After a side is cooked, turn them over.

4. Add rice, pepper, anchovies powder, dark soy sauce. Stir to mix well.

5. Coat with sesame oil and XO for a shiny look. 6. Stir thoroughly.

7. Garnish with spring onions.


1. Use cold and dry cooked rice. You want to use firm rice grains because they are easier to separate while stir-frying them. This choice is important to prevent your fried rice turning out soggy or mushy. To remove moisture, you can either (A) air freshly-cooked rice and then refrigerate the rice for a minimum of two hours or (B) use leftover rice from the night before.

2. Use medium to long grain rice such as medium grain of jasmine rice. Choose the sturdy grains that don’t clump together when fried. Avoid short grain sushi rice or glutinous rice, which is softer and tends to stick together.

3. To acquire the smoky, slight burnt flavor, use high heat: a blazing hot pan / wok if possible. Add sufficient amount of oil to prevent your fried rice ingredients from sticking to the surface of pan. While the heat to stir fry our home-cooked version of fried rice may not be as hot as restaurants’ ones, we can pre-heat our pan with a lid before adding ingredients.

4. To ensure thorough mixing of flavors and aroma, cook 1 to 2 servings at a time.

5. To have a crunchy texture, include vegetables like celery or long beans as ingredients.

6. For a stronger taste, you can pre-infuse your oil with ginger and garlic overnight.

7. To prevent the fried rice from turning out mushy or soggy, I prefer to separately cook the egg into a sunny side up or an omelette that can be thinly stripped to garnish on top of the fried rice.

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,


N for noodle for #AtoZChallenge: quick-to-cook noodles for breakfast

Since Dear has to go to work in early mornings, our favorite noodles are those that are quick-to-cook, but not instant noodles – which were originally invented by Momofuku Ando (吴百福) of Nissin Foods in Japan.

quick-to-cook noodles for breakfast by ServicefromHeart

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 16 Wed, I lovingly introduce 3 favorite quick-to-cook noodles:
♥ misua
♥ kway teow  
♥ udon


Misua, also known as mee sua / 面线, is a variety of dried salted Chinese noodles that cooks in less than 2 minutes in boiling water.

A symbol of longevity in Chinese culture, misua – a thin wheat flour noodle, is a humble breakfast for a birthday celebration.

How is about a whole wheat misua for a quick yet filling breakfast?

quick-to-cook noodles misua for breakfast by ServicefromHeart


Kway teow /  粿条 is a flat rice noodle that is commonly used for stir-frying, affectionately known as char kway teow / stir-fried kway teow in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.

We also love to cook a soup using chilled kway teow for breakfast, it is ready in less than 2 minutes!

quick-to-cook noodles for breakfast by ServicefromHeart


Udon / うどん / 烏冬 is thick wheat flour noodle in Japanese cuisine, that is often served in kakejiru broth with tempura. 

I also love stir-fried udon in soy-based sauce, known as yaki-udon.

How is about a plate of no-fry udon with vegetable soup? Enjoy its recipe & the udon!

I buy chilled udon without any pre-packed seasoning, as a homemade seasoning of sesame oil, honey, vinegar, finely chopped fresh cilantro can be easily made.

Add some quick-to-cook vegetables such as celery or bok choy.

quick-to-cook noodles for breakfast by ServicefromHeart udon

Soup / juice / extract from steaming fish can be used as a seasoning for udon or some other types of noodles. Keep the soup in fridge for the next day / morning use. Without the need to warm the cold soup, add in hot boiled noodles and stir immediately.

quick-to-cook noodles for breakfast by ServicefromHeart udon

The water used to boil noodles can be used for hard-boiled egg to save gas / electricity for us.

1. Once noodles are cooked, immediately drain the boiling water into a bowl containing a fresh egg. The temperature of the boiling water matters, it has to be high.
2. Cover the bowl to let the egg sits for at least 10 minutes*.
3. Serve the half-boiled egg with a dash of soy sauce and a pinch of freshly ground pepper.

* I prefer my egg to be more cooked but not fully cooked.

Other recipes that I love:
♥ misua meat ball, known as almondigas / bola-bola in Philippines; bola means ball in Bahasa Indonesia. How is about trying a MSG-free version of misua meat ball @ Mga Luto Ni Lola (My Grandma’s Recipes) by GJ Coleco?
Singapore-style half-boiled egg by Jason Ng @ Feast To The World

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,

G for ginger for #AtoZChallenge: Ginger milk curd recipe by ServicefromHeart

Fragrant and hot, knobbly ginger has been popularly used as a medicine and a spice to enhance diverse cuisines – for example Chinese, Indian, Caribean.

As a spice, the pungent flavor of ginger removes fishy flavor in seafood. In the confinement of East Asian mothers, it seems that every meals go with old ginger, from stir-fry vegetables to meat dishes.

People have used ginger to alleviate stomach related discomforts, including motion sickness, morning sickness, colic, upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, appetite loss, menstrual pain, post-childbirth bloating during confinement.

American Cancer Society highlights that preliminary results in animals show some effect of ginger in slowing or preventing tumor growth, though the mechanisms remain elusive (PMID: 17175086).

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 08 Tue, I lovingly present a recipe of ginger milk curd by ServicefromHeart.

Ginger milk curd recipe by ServicefromHeart

Ginger milk curd (also known as ginger-juice milk curd / ginger milk pudding / 姜汁撞奶) is delicious and healthy desert for toddlers, new mothers and each of us who loves ginger.

This Chinese dessert originated in Shawan town of Panyu District, Guangzhou, China.

Ginger contains an enzyme (termed as protease zingipain) that coagulate the milk proteins to form curds.


Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes


♥ 100 ml water (), filtered (过滤)

♥ 1 knob old ginger (老姜)

♥ 3 egg white (蛋白)

♥ 300 ml fresh milk* (鲜奶)

♥ 1 tbsp honey (蜜糖)

* It is better not to use low-fat / skimmed milk so that ginger can curd the milk.


1. Boil water with old ginger chunks. Let it cool & remove ginger chunks.

2. Gently yet thoroughly mix milk, egg white & honey into the ginger water.

3. Steam over low heat until you can put a spoon on top of the curd without sinking.

Ginger milk curd recipe by ServicefromHeart

Other recipes that I love:
♥ no-egg no-steam ginger milk pudding recipe at (1) Travelling Foodies by Alan & J and (2) My Baking by Siu Kwan of Simonne Bakery
108 ideas of cooking / baking with ginger @ Chef and Sommelier
Ginger soybean curd by Joceline Lyn

For faster to prepare recipes, please check our #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,

F for finger millet for #AtoZChallenge: East Asian style Finger millet porridge by ServicefromHeart

Finger millet (also known as ragi / Muthari kurukku / Kezhvaragu / pampered corn / Nachni / Eleusine coracana / 䅟子), is a rich source of calcium, protein, fiber, vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin).

East Asian style Finger millet porridge by ServicefromHeart

This grain is very cooling on a hot day, especially for hot summer or dry spell (kemarau) such as an extreme one that we had in Singapore from February to mid March 2014. It is the driest one since 1869 for Singapore.

East Asian style Finger millet porridge by ServicefromHeart
withered bougainvillea during a dry spell in Singapore (2014)

Finger millet can grow with less water than rice and wheat does.

East Asian style Finger millet porridge by ServicefromHeart

Thank you for the finger millet that Candida gave me (and baby Ren)! She has given liquid of finger millet – mixed with milk – to her baby girl Divita since she turned 6 months old.

East Asian style Finger millet porridge by ServicefromHeart

The choice for finger millet over wheat is probably due to more easily digested proteins of the former.

Finger millet also contains the amino acid methionine (Met / M) – the only amino acid coded by the initiation codon AUG of mRNA for protein synthesis.

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 07 Mon, I lovingly present a recipe of East Asian style Finger millet porridge by ServicefromHeart.

East Asian style Finger millet porridge by ServicefromHeart


Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes


♥ 3 tbsp finger millet seeds (穇子)

♥ 1 tsp wolfberries (枸杞子), washed & soaked until fluffy

♥ 1 egg (鸡蛋)

♥ 1 tsp sesame oil (麻油)

♥ grounded white pepper (白胡椒粉) to taste

♥ 1 fresh parsley leaf (香菜叶)


1. Wash ragi by rubbing them in water for a minimum of 3 times.

2. Soak ragi overnight or at least 15 minutes.

3. Add finger millet to soup stock / boiled filtered water.

4. Stir finger millet continuously to ensure thorough cooking until the porridge thickens and bubbles stop to form on surface.

5. When finger millet is almost cooked, gently add egg & wolfberry. Stir.

6. Add white pepper. Mix well.

7. Garnish with parsley.

East Asian style Finger millet porridge by ServicefromHeart

Other recipes that I love:
♥ An advice to cook ragi properly to prevent constipation from Yummy Tummy
ragi drink for baby by Oishi
Ragi porridge recipe for baby
Sweet ragi malt
♥ Swathi combines ragi and oats

East Asian style Finger millet porridge by ServicefromHeart

Next time, I will use finger millet flour so to cook faster so that I can play more with Baby Ren, an idea for a future #5minutemeal recipe!

East Asian style Finger millet porridge by ServicefromHeart

With love,

E for egg for #AtoZChallenge: 5 easy ways of enjoying eggs

While living frugally in Malaysia, an egg for our breakfast was a treat for me. Now, most of us can easily buy and enjoy eggs. Sometimes, we enjoy eggs without paying much attention to the eggs: from crispy fried finger food to sweet desserts, cakes, cookies. What are your favorite ways of savoring eggs?

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 05 Sat, I lovingly share 5 simple & easy ways to enjoy an egg or more eggs:

1. sunny side up egg

2. steamed egg

3. soboro egg

4. cheesy egg

5. egg mask

♥ ♥ ♥

In this post, egg refers to chicken egg. Egg is an inexpensive source of complete protein as it contains all essential amino acids.

Essential amino acids are termed as essential because human bodies do not synthesize them.

A list of essential amino acids:

♥ phenylalanine (F)

♥ methionine (M)

♥ isoleucine (I)

♥ leucine (L)

♥ lysine (K)

♥ tryptophan (W)

♥ threonine (T)

♥ histidine (H)

♥ valine (V)

To remember, Fat MILK WiTH Vitamins as a mnemonic.

Besides essential amino acids, babies and children also need the following amino acids:

♥ cysteine (C)

♥ arginine (R)

♥ tyrosine (Y)

To remember, CRY as a mnemonic.

♥ ♥ ♥


Normally, I fry sunny side up egg with a tea spoon of olive oil. Use sesame oil for a more fragrant sunny side up egg.

5 easy ways of enjoying eggs by ServicefromHeart

Some cherry tomatoes and bok choy mixed with tiny amount of sesame oil as happy companions:

5 easy ways of enjoying eggs by ServicefromHeart

Serve with green apple yogurt salad:

5 easy ways of enjoying eggs by ServicefromHeart

♥ ♥ ♥


5 easy ways of enjoying eggs by ServicefromHeart

Recipe is here.

♥ ♥ ♥


To make egg soboro そぼろ, also known as iritamago,

mix 2 eggs, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp anchovies in a bowl.

Cook over a frying pan over medium heat.

Use 2 wooden spoons (or 2 pairs of wooden chopsticks) to keep stirring the egg mixture to allow them to form fine granules.

5 easy ways of enjoying eggs by ServicefromHeart : soboro egg

♥ ♥ ♥


Melt a slice of cheese while the egg is just scrambled & still hot:

5 easy ways of enjoying eggs by ServicefromHeart

♥ ♥ ♥


I am grateful for the gift of luxurious Kose white mask. Once I finish using it, I am going to use egg white as a DIY face mask to tighten & tone our skins, a happy (bi)weekly beauty routine.

5 easy ways of enjoying eggs by ServicefromHeart : egg mask

Egg white consists predominantly water (90%) and 10% proteins (albumins, mucoproteins, and globulins).

For a quick face mask, an egg white alone is sufficient.

If you have extra time, you can whisk egg white with any / some of the following ingredients:

♥ 1 tsp fresh lemon juice (masks the egg white odor & lightens skin)

♥ 1 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice (tones skin)

♥ 1 tsp honey (moisturizes skin with antiseptic & antibacterial properties)

♥ 1 tsp plain unsweetened yogurt (enlivens dull skin)

♥ 1 tbsp instant oatmeal, soaked in hot water (absorbs oil from oily skin)


1. Relax your face & apply the egg white mask for 10-15 minutes.

2. While on mask, minimize talking, smiling or laughing to prevent wrinkles.

3. When the mask has completely dried on your face, gently scrub it off using warm water.

The egg yolk can be used as an ingredient to make meatballs.

♥ ♥ ♥

Recipes that I also love:
different degrees of soft-boiled eggs by Marc Matsumoto @ No Recipes. Thank you Marc! You are an awesome private chef, recipe developer & restaurant consultant.
Chawanmushi / 茶碗蒸し / savory egg custard by ServicefromHeart
With love,

No-fry udon with vegetable soup recipe by ServicefromHeart

We love udon meals, especially on cold nights. Hot udon soup reminds me on Lunar New Year’s steamboat in simplified form. Although udon (うどん) — thick wheat floor noodle — originates from Japan, I used Made in Korea udon for this recipe, simply because the brand was on promotion at NTUC Fairprice today.

udon vegetables ServicefromHeart recipe

Udon has soft, slight chewy texture and slight salty taste. In term of diameter, udon is thicker than thick rice noodle (粗米粉) commonly used for laksa in Singapore. Udon is also similar to pici / pinci, which is fat spaghetti originating from Sienna, Tuscany, Italy.

We prefer to have our no-fry udon in dried form to soup-based one, with a bowl of hot soup rich in ingredients as a companion. This preference is because dried seasoned udon is more fragrant and less scalding than the soup-based one, especially for toddlers’ relatively sensitive tongues.

Udon soups are often served with delicious crispy tempura or fried tofu, but tonight I am preparing no fried meal. This recipe is a good choice when we or a family member suffers from sore throats, cough (please pray me to recover quickly from cough that has waken me up at nights), or flu.

Servings: 1 adult + 1 child
Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes*

* You can do faster because I took my own sweet time, and wash some utensils in between preparation.

♥ 1 packet fresh udon noodles (乌冬面)
♥ 1 cup lettuce (生菜)
♥ 1 cup baby spinach (菠菜)
♥ 1 cup green bok choy (小白菜)
♥ 1 tomato (番茄), quartered
♥ 1 egg (鸡蛋)
♥ 3 imitation crab meat sticks (kepiting imitasi), cut into inches long
♥ 1 tbsp anchovies (ikan teri)
♥ 1 tsp sesame oil (麻油)
♥ 1 tbsp honey (madu)
♥ 1 tbsp fresh cilantro / coriander (daun ketumbar), finely chopped
♥ 1 clove garlic (bawang putih), pressed

1. Boil water with anchovies to let flavor out.
2. Meanwhile, wash vegetables thoroughly.
3. Add tomatoes, crab sticks, and later vegetables to boiling water.
4. After vegetables are cooked, add egg to soup and quickly stir to obtain soft tofu-like texture for 1 minute.
5. Pour soup into bowls.
6. Boil water to cook udon for 2 minutes or until the noodles are separated.
7. Meanwhile, make seasoning by mixing sesame oil, honey, cilantro and garlic.
8. Drain cooked udon noodles and coat them with seasoning by gently tossing them.

♥ Use pre-made soup stock (if any) to replace water for soup.
♥ For variations, substitute anchovies with miso (fermented soy bean paste). Jaden Hair at Steamy Kitchen shared that to dissolve miso, whisk it in a separate bowl with parts of hot soup before adding the mixture back to saucepan. Directly adding undissolved miso to saucepan may cause the miso to turn gritty. However, Marc Matsumoto at No Recipes appears to disagree with this. For me, I simply try whatever methods that work.

Other recipes that I love:
♥ Namiko Chen’s kitsune udon with aburaage** at Just One Cookbook
♥ Bon Appétit Test Kitchen’s udon noodle soup with vegetables
♥ Katie’s veggie miso udon soup at Produce on Parade

** Aburaage (deep-fried tofu) sweetly reminds me on tau pok (fried tofu) of Singapore, a favorite food of baby Ren’s Dad.

For faster-to-prepare recipes, consider our #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,