February 4, 2022

Simply Asian

Simple flavours of home that warms the gut and heart

People often ask me if I miss home having been away for three years now.
My answer is always the same – not really, because familiar flavours of home helps to keep homesickness at bay. I love Asian food and there’s no lack of choices here in Newcastle. But nothing beat the tastes that I grew up with, so I try to adapt and replicate some dishes that I am fond of – especially the simple ones that are steamed or boiled and are time-sparing as well.


Fish steamed with shitake mushrooms – the taste of Mum’s cooking


  • Fish (whole or fillet)
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • Ginger (ground or fresh, julienne)
  • Dried shitake mushrooms (rinsed, soaked in warm water then sliced – keep the water)
  • Red chilli (sliced or julienned, optional)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Coriander leaves and/or spring onion green tops (optional for garnishing)

Quantities depend on the size of the fish and preference.


  1. Rub the salt onto both sides of the fish.
  2. Spread half the ginger, shitake mushrooms, red chilli on the dish and place the fish on these.
  3. Spread the remaining ginger, shitake mushrooms and red chilli on top of and around the fish. Add the water used for soaking mushrooms.
  4. Drizzle some vegetable oil over the fish.
  5. Place into steamer and steam until fish is cooked thoroughly.
  6. Garnish and serve.

Steamed chicken – the taste of simple indulgence


  • 2pc Chicken drumstick or 1 pc Maryland
  • 2 or 3 tbs hua tiao cooking wine
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 stalk of spring onion
  • Ginger (ground or fresh, sliced)
  • 1-2 teaspoon Gogi berries

Quantities depend on the size of the meat and preference.


  1. Marinate the chicken meat with hua tiao cooking wine for about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove ends of spring onion and any damaged parts. Cut into 2 inch lengths.  Use the side of knife blade, lightly press the spring onion bulb (the white parts) so as to release more flavour when cooking.
  3. Place the chicken meat, salt, spring onion (leave some green for garnishing if desired), and ginger on a dish.
  4. Place into steamer and steam until meat is cooked thoroughly.
  5. Garnish and serve.

Rice cooked with pandan leaves and chicken – the taste of hometown


  • Chicken meat (thigh cutlets, whole or diced drumsticks)
  • 4-5 pandan leaves
  • White rice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Garlic (ground or fresh, finely minced)
  • Ginger (ground or fresh, sliced)
  • Optional – dried shitake mushrooms (rinsed, soaked in warm water then sliced)

Quantities depend on preference.


  1. Wash the rice until water is almost clear. Place rice in pot with sufficient water to cook the rice.
  2. Add salt, garlic, ginger, chicken meat and mushrooms (optional) to the pot.
  3. Wash the pandan leaves. Tear along the length to allow more flavour and aroma to be released when cooking.  Tie the leaves together in a knot and place in pot.
  4. Cook until rice and meat is cooked thoroughly (I used a rice cooker).

It’s the eve of Chinese New Year today. Though I am away from home, I am comforted by the familiar aroma and taste of home set before me. Time to dig in!

Written by Christina Thio (Student Dietitian)
The University of Newcastle
31 Jan 2022

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