Friday, September 28, 2012

California : Discount Coupons!

The husband and I are always on the lookout for coupons and promo codes and such to save some money on our purchases. We don't go overly crazy and don't really do coupon clippings for groceries. However, with tons of family in town any savings that we can get is definitely helpful especially when you have a ton of places to visit! Entrance fees for theme parks and museums can add up quickly when you have a big party so every little savings we can get sure does help!

Since the husband was unable to score discount tickets from work (they ran out..=() , I decided to do some googling and stumbled upon this site: They seem to have some decent deals on some famous attractions in CA.

I hope you'll find something that you need. I've already printed some to use for our next outing! =). By the way, if you're a AAA member, don't forget to bring the card out and don't be shy to ask if they give you AAA member discount. Doesn't hurt to ask! =) The extra couple bucks that we save will mean a couple extra bucks for some nice cold treats in the hot afternoons!

PS: I'm not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this post. Just merely sharing some money saving tips and coupons whenever I see them! I heart deals! 

Simply June 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fried Belacan Chicken

I've always relied on instant belacan mix like the ones from Hup Loong and I've never made belacan chicken from scratch until recently. With a bottle of roasted belacan powder in my pantry, I was itching to fry up some belacan chicken. Oh my poor neighbors! Even though we live in a single family house, I think the whole neighborhood was probably overwhelmed by that yummy pungent fishy smell that Malaysians love.....and westerners probably loathe. The smell of belacan can be quite strong especially if you're not familiar with it and it probably didn't help my poor neighbors when I turn on the kitchen vent to circulate the air from the kitchen out into the open! No wonder my neighbors always have their windows and doors closed, and their AC turned on all the time... Hah!

Anyway, with the inlaws in town, I've been cringing on what to cook! It's hard when you need to cook for 2 more people.....and these few days with more family members visiting..... this means cooking for 6 adults in the house. Having to cook for a party seems so much easier! Cooking for the inlaws is giving me slight grief as I want to impress them and want to cook something that they will enjoy eating whole heartedly! There're so many stuff that I want to try to make but this means risking feeding my inlaws something that's not up to my expectation.... in a not so good way. They are not very picky... but I guess I just want the meal to be perfect.. or close to perfect!

Anyway, after a bit of googling around to get a rough idea on what to do... I told my MIL, I'll be cooking Belacan chicken for dinner...... tomorrow! Today.. I'm just going to prep and marinate. I want to marinate the chicken in some fragrant belacan powder overnight to ensure that the belacan goodness gets into every nook and cranny of the chicken! The result was pretty good! Chicken was light and slightly crisp and very very belacan-y (Yes, that's a word!) with very subtle hint of spiciness. The inlaws gave 2 thumbs up and the family devoured the whole plate of fried chicken rather quickly. Who doesn't like fried chicken????? Here's the recipe... and a little piece of advice..... if you live in an apartment and want to be in good terms with your neighbors.........don't cook this dish... or make sure everyone on the floor is out and away... and have the air freshener handy! =p

  • 4 Chicken Thighs (Deboned and Cut into 4 pieces)
  • 1 Tbsp Rice Wine
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Dark (Sweet) Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp Roasted Belacan Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper 
  • 1 Egg, Beaten
  • Oil (For Deep Frying)
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped Green Onion (Optional Garnish)
In a bowl, add all in the ingredients except the oil for deep frying and green onions. Let the chicken marinate overnight for flavor to infuse.

When ready for cooking, heat enough oil for deep frying over medium heat. Once oil is hot, place a few pieces of the marinated chicken into the oil to deep fry. Do not overcrowd the pan, and turn the chicken occasionally. Fry until chicken is golden brown and place on a paper towel to soak excess oil. Serve with you favorite stir fry vegetables and warm rice!


Simply June 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Samgyetang (Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup)

Ever since the husband tasted Samgyetang in Korea a couple years ago, he fell in love with this hot nutritious soup. According to the husband, Koreans will drink this soup in the summer to replace the nutrients lost.  He talks about it constantly and is always tempted to order it at Korean restaurants whenever he sees it on the menu. However, due to many other delicious Korean dishes on the menu.. he never really got a chance to order them. He decided to look up the recipe and hey why not make it at home. The recipe seems easy enough and we can get all the ingredients at the local Korean grocery stores. We've made this soup a couple times, and the last after we move to Thousand Oaks. As we happen to have a stash of fresh ginseng in the fridge from our recent Asian grocery store raid and with the inlaws in town... it was a perfect time to make this dish and for the inlaws to taste their son's favorite dish. All we needed to get was cornish hen from the grocery store which was just around the corner. This dish was "In-Law" approved! =)

For this batch of Samgyetang, we cooked in a small traditional Korean clay pot (in fact, I think my clay pots is a size too small.. =P) . If you do not have the claypot, a regular small pot will work just fine. We used Mangchi's recipe this time. On out previous attempts, we used some fresh chestnuts but didn't think that those make too much of a difference in the taste of the soup. Here's the recipe by Mangchi with just a bit of tweaking in the amount of certain ingredients used. Check out her site for an excellent video on the recipe.

*Serves 1-2

  • 1 Cornish Hen
  • 1/4 Cup Korean Sweet Rice
  • 6-8 Cloves of Garlic
  • 6 Jujubes / Dried (Chinese) Red Dates
  • 2 Small Ginseng Root
  • 1 Stalk Green Onion, Chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • Equal parts of salt and grounded white pepper (for dipping)
Soak the sweet rice in water for about 1 hour. Place 1-2 tbsp of kosher salt on the cornish hen and rub the outer skin for a couple seconds, then rinse the salt off with cold running water. Stuff the cornish hen, by placing half of the jujubes, garlic and ginseng first. Then all of the soaked sweet rice. Continue with the remaining ginseng, jujubes and garlic. You can use a toothpick to partially close the cavity so that the stuffing remain inside. 

Place the stuff chicken in a pot.  If you cannot fit all the jujube, garlic, ginseng in the chicken, you can place it in the pot later.  Pour just enough water into the pot to cover the cornish hen, cover the pot and let it boil for 20 minutes over high heat. When it starts boiling, skim off the white foam and fat that rises to the top. Pour in more water if needed to ensure that the cornish hen is slightly submerged in water. Boil for 40 minutes over medium heat. Once it's cooked properly, the cornish hen can be easily pulled apart with chopsticks. 

Serve with the salt and pepper dipping condiment.


June's Notes: If you don't like the traditional salt and pepper condiment for dipping, feel free to use some soy sauce. As the pot I used was a little too small for the cornish hen, I needed to flip the chicken every now and then to let it cook properly. This soup does not need additional seasoning; the garlic, and the sweetness from the jujube, chicken and rice flavors the broth perfectly. But if you like sodium in your broth, a little dash of salt would be ok.

Simply June 

Friday, September 7, 2012


Woots! The Sambal Okra / Lady Fingers that I submitted to tastespotting is accepted and is currently posted on their site! *Smiles*.  I wasn't entire confident about the picture (but I love the color) and wasn't sure if they were going to say yes to it.... until I saw it this morning! =) ..

Here are my other pictures that have been posted in the past:

And here are the others that have been rejected for various reasons....unfortunately, one of them is my favorite picture... I guess, my photography skill is not up to par. Time to practice more!

Simply June 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sambal Lady Fingers

The MIL and I were discussing what vegetable dish to make for dinner. After going through the vegetables I had in my fridge, we decided to cook okra / lady fingers. I usually cook my okra/lady fingers the only way I know it's fish curry.  MIL was thinking about a stir fry... However, we ended up making the sambal okra / lady fingers after seeing a mouthwatering picture of sambal lady fingers in one of my nonya cookbook. We used that picture and recipe as an inspiration to make this dish!

My MIL was kind enough to cook us a big batch of "Dried Shrimp Sambal" or more fondly known in Hokkien as "Sambal Hae Bee. We used that as part of the ingredients for this recipe; instead of using regular dried shrimp. So, if you happen to have some delicious homemade (or store-bought) "sambal hae bee", give this recipe a try!!!  Mixing all the ingredients needed for the sambal, I couldn't wait to dig in... The sambal tasted sooo good!!!! The amount of sugar and lime in the recipe is totally up to your personal preference. The hint of minced kaffir lime leaves and roasted belacan powder gives it a nice aroma. The spicy, sweet, sour and fragrant sambal reminded me of tom yam! I had plenty of rice that day... and happily cleaned the plate of leftover sambal. It's so addictive and appetizing, I could eat another plate of it! Here's the recipe..... I hope you like it as much as I do! Nom..Nom..Nom..!

  • 15-16 Lady Fingers / Okra, Top and Tip Trimmed
  • 2 Tsp Oil 
Sauce Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp Sambal Oelek
  • 2 Tsp Belacan Powder
  • 3 Tbsp Homemade Dried Shrimp Sambal 
  • Juice from 1 Lime
  • 3-4 Kaffir Lime Leaves, Finely Minced
  • 2-3 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 3-4 Tsp Sugar (Adjust accordingly)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Tsp Fried Shallots (Optional) 

In a wok, heat some water over medium high heat and place a rack in the wok. Arrange the okra/lady fingers in a single layer in a shallow bowl and drizzle with some oil. Once, the water in the wok starts to boil, place the bowl of okra / lady fingers and cover the wok. Let the okra / lady fingers steam for about 5-7 minutes until tender. The okra / lady finger will turn a darker shade of green.

While the okra / lady fingers are steaming, mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Adjust the sugar and lime accordingly to get your preferred level of sourness and sweetness. I like my "sambal" to be a little sour, so I use about 3-4 tsp of sugar to mix with the juice from the huge lime I used.

Once the okra / lady fingers are cooked, pour the sambal mixture onto the steamed okra / lady fingers. For optimum flavor, gently cut a small vertical slid in the middle of steamed okra, gently pry it open with a small teaspoon and stuff some of the sambal into the okra / lady fingers. Pour remaining extra samba over the okra / lady fingers and sprinkle with optional fried shallots. Serve with plenty of warm white rice!!Enjoy!

June's Notes: If you do not have "sambal hae bee" at home, I think you could probably use some toasted chopped dried shrimp. The flavors might not be as intense, but shouldn't be too bad. I'll have to try this version and let you know the results! =)
Looking at the picture of sambal lady fingers again, make me really hungry!!! Maybe I'll make another batch today.....Slurp! 

Simply June 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Kung Pao Chicken

Do you know that Kung Pao chicken has some black vinegar in the sauce? Maybe you already do... but I never knew.  I was craving for some kung pao chicken and decided to google for some recipes to refer to. After googling around, I noticed a common ingredient in the recipe that I never expected, Chinese Black Vinegar. As I happen to have a bottle of ChinKiang Black Vinegar handy, this dish was  just perfect to try out. Plus, I have a stash of sichuan peppercorn and I was dying to use it somewhere.

Using this recipe by Terri of A Daily Obsession and this recipe by Bee Yinn or Rasa Malaysia as references, I proudly cooked up a pretty yummy Kung Pao chicken for the husband and I! I made it a second time this week with a slight change, and preferred the version I made the first time. Here's the recipe I made the first time and enjoyed it very much. The use of yellow pepper in the recipe is totally optional........ again, I like the pop of color it gives the dish!

*Serves 3-4


  • 4 Pieces Boneless & Skinless Chicken Thighs, Cut into Bite Size Pieces
  • 6-8 Pieces Dried Chili, Cut into Half and Deseeded ( Keep some seeds for spicier chicken)
  • 3 Inch Ginger, Cut & Smashed
  • 2 -3 Cloves Garlic, Smashed
  • 1 Stalk Green Onion, Cut into 1 Inch
  • 2-3 Tsp Sichuan Peppercorns
  • 1/2 Yellow Pepper (Optional)
  • 2-3 Tbsp Roasted Peanuts
  • 1/2 Cup Oil

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 2 Tsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tsp Rice Wine
  • 1 Tsp Dark Sweet Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Corn Starch

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Chin Kiang Black Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Sweet Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 2 Tsp Sugar
  • 4 Tsp Corn Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 2 Tbsp Water

Mix the marinade ingredients with the chicken and set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Mix all the ingredients in the sauce and set aside.  Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat. Fry the marinated chicken until slightly golden brown and remove the chicken and set aside. Remove the oil from the pan and keep only about 2 tbsp of oil.

Stir fry dried chili, ginger and garlic until fragrant. Then stir in cooked chicken, options yellow pepper,  and sichuan peppercorn. Next pour in the sauce mixture and stir fry until the sauce thickens. Add green onions, roasted peanuts and transfer dish to a plate. Serve immediately with warm rice. Enjoy!

Simply June 
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