Monday, 18 August 2014

Food & Cooking: Locky's Mapo Tofu (Meaty/ Vegetarian)!!!

Mapo Tofu
Image from Locky's English Playground

When it comes to cooking, my favourite dish has got to be Mapo Tofu / Doufu. The hot and mellow tofu with slight saltiness and tingly spicy chili at the tip of your tongue is the most desirable sensation for an appetising dinner and the perfect rice partner!

It is quick to cook and requires very little cooking skill.

Image from Locky's English Playground

You'll need the followings:
Image from Locky's English Playground
  1. Some tofu
  2. Some mustard tuber
  3. Oyster sauce
  4. Dark soy sauce
  5. Shaoxing wine
  6. Sesame seed oil
  7. Chili bean sauce
  8. Sugar
The most important sauce
Image from Locky's English Playground
Step 1: Cut mustard tuber into small bits and place them in a bowl.

Image from Locky's English Playground
Step 2: Measure about 3 tablespoons of oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce, 2 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine and 1 tablespoon of chili bean sauce and add them to the bowl. The ratio is 3:1:2:1 for 1 box of tofu, 350ml, and I have no idea why tofu is measured in millilitre. If you like to have more spicy hotness, add more chili bean sauce.

Image from Locky's English Playground

Step 3: Cut tofu block into small cubes.  
Transverse then sagittal cuts
Image from Locky's English Playground
The rule to a tidy, stable tofu block cut is to realise how friction and intermolecular forces work. From my experience, the best way to cut a tofu block in order to maintain its intactness, is to first make a transverse (or horizontal) cut half way across the middle. The weight of the upper half block will provide enough friction with the lower half block so that it will not slide over each other (F= mg). After that, perform sagittal (vertical width) cuts,

Coronal cuts
Image from Locky's English Playground
and finally, coronal (vertical length) cuts. Does that mean I cannot change the order? No, but I recommend performing the transverse cut first because the intermolecular forces have much to do with the number of dissected cubes, otherwise you will have too many cubes and a much weakened intermolecular force to hold each one of the cubes together.

Nicely done!
Image from Locky's English Playground
Step 4: Fry minced beef or pork beef (if you are not a vegetarian)

frying minced pork
Image from Locky's English Playground
Step 5: Using large flame, add the bowl of tuber and sauce into the almost-cooked minced pork, add two bowl of water and stir.

Adding water to the mix
Image from Locky's English Playground
Step 6: When the mixture is heated up, add tofu cubes into it. WARNING!!! Don't STIR!!! Just PUSH, LIFT then repeat!!! Until colour starts to stick to the tofu, then switch to small flame.
Push, lift back, then push!
Image from Locky's English Playground
The purpose of this manoeuvre is to maintain the intactness of the cubes, as tofu is susceptible to breaking. They will break in the process anyway so you do not want to speed up the process intentionally.

Step 7: Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil to add fragrance and smoothness!

Why is sesame oil added last?
Image from Locky's English Playground
The reason sesame oil is added last is that we want the colours and taste of the sauce to enter the tofu cubes, if sesame oil is added too early, it will stick to the surfaces of the tofu and stop the sauce from permeating into the cubes.

Step 8: Prepare about half a bowl of water and stir at least 2 tablespoons of corn starch to produce a coagulant. Pour gentle with stirring until the viscosity changes and the sauce becomes thick.

Stir gently
Image from Locky's English Playground
Add a little green on top to make it look prettier if you prefer! But serving with rice is a must!


jiffy -- (n) [S] informal a very short time
transverse -- (adj) specialized horizontal, in a position or direction that is at an angle of 90° to something else
sagittal -- (adj) see Resource for more details
coronal -- (adj) see Resource for more details
friction -- (n)[U] the force which makes it difficult for one object to slide along the surface of another or to move through a liquid or gas, see Resource for more details
intermolecular force -- (n)[C] see Resource for more details
manoeuvre -- (n)[C] UK (US maneuver) a movement or set of movements needing skill and care
susceptible -- (adj) easily influenced or harmed by something
permeate -- (vb) [I usually + adv/prep, T] formal to spread through something and be present in every part of it
coagulant -- (n)[C] see Resource for more details
viscosity -- (n)[U] specialized describes a liquid that is thick and sticky and does not flow easily

Mapo Doufu @ Wikipedia

Transverse plane @ Wikipedia

Sagittal plane @ Wikipedia

Coronal plane @ Wikipedia

Friction @ Wikipedia

Intermolecular force @ Wikipedia

Coagulation (milk) @ Wikipedia

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Food & Dining: Log-On Cafe Big Breakfast @ Tai Koo

Log-On Cafe
Image from Locky's English Playground
Used to queue up for at least an hour for a meal at Simply Life. Thanks to the new Log-On Cafe we now have a new location for food.

Menu at the cashier
Image from Locky's English Playground
The seats are far from adequate, so grabbing seats before buying food is advisable. Mains on the menu are mostly Western, with several choices of Japanese desserts. Prices range from $40-ish and tops at $98, not exactly cheap as lunch, but having Western food as dinner, this is very acceptable!

Spaghetti with scallops in tomato sauce
Image from Locky's English Playground
Portion of the spaghetti is a little less but quality-wise you get more than you paid for.

From another angle
Image from Locky's English Playground
The scallops in the above spaghetti, for example, are really juicy and definitely non-bite-sized.

Salmon all-day breakfast
Image from Locky's English Playground
The all-day breakfast on the other hand is pretty huge even for an adult male. The café is generous on the meat -- salmon, ham and bacon, as well as on the scrambled eggs and toast.

From another angle
Image from Locky's English Playground
Taste-wise, with 3 layers of smoked salmon rolled around the scrambled eggs, can't go wrong, can it?

Image from Locky's English Playground
I like the ham and bacon for their rare tender juiciness. I say 'rare' because words like 'tender' and 'juicy' simply do not associate with sliced preserved meat in Hong Kong, or Macau, or Thailand. Maybe meat jerky is too deep in their blood.

I would love to add a spoon or two of baked beans but at the price you pay, I have yet to see a better deal than this.

I might want to try their desserts next time, when the time is right.

If you happen to be visiting Tai Koo this weekend, give it a go!

For more posts on Food and Dining, do click on those words! They are pretty closely related but you do get different articles.

jerky -- (n)[U] US meat that has been cut into long thin strips and dried in the sun
All kinds of meat jerky
Image from Petmd

Food @ Locky's English Playground

Dining @ Locky's English Playground

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Travelling & Dining: 2D1N Wynn-ing In Macau

Grand prix ready as seen in background
Image from Locky's English Playground
Last Monday, my wife had to travel to Macau for work and so I tagged along for a two-days-one-night "vacation". With baby at Mother-in-law's and laptop with me, I expect I was going to make real progress with my thesis.

Nice sunny day
Image from Locky's English Playground
An hour of ferry and we arrived at the pier. Commuting between hotels and pier is free thanks to the shuttle buses arranged by the casinos/hotels.

Great looking bridge
Image from Locky's English Playground
The ride was kind of funny because 5 minutes ago we hopped onto the shuttle,  5 minutes later we were still circling outside the pier.

Sands Macau
Image from Locky's English Playground
Whether the route has anything to do with the upcoming Grand prix is beyond my knowledge. But what I do know is, once we successfully left the pier, it only took another 5 to arrive at Wynn.

Wynn Macau
Image from Locky's English Playground
At 3:45pm, our room was still being made up, so I went to the gym for some rare workout while my wife went to work for an hour or so until the room was finally ready.

Soy sauce noodles with soup
Image from Locky's English Playground
After we had got our room, we went to grab some street food. At Chu Kee,  I ordered a not-so-impressive soy sauce noodles with soup while my wife ordered their signature fish-skin dumplings.

Fish-skin dumplings with noodles
Image from Locky's English Playground
I had no idea why I didn't follow her order.

Full house!
Image from Locky's English Playground
The lesson is, never order anything that isn't a signature dish.

Me and the bun
Image from Locky's English Playground
Feeling unsatisfied, we bought a famous Tai Lei Loi Kee Macau pork chop bun for $30 at a branch near the Ruins of St. Paul and devoured it in minutes. It was as gorgeous as that from the main branch I used to visit.

Fountain light show every 15 mins
Image from Locky's English Playground

Back at the hotel, I was all ready to go online until we found out that both LAN and Wi-Fi weren't free. How stingy! This has got to be the only hotel in Macau which still charges their customers for broadband. And for MOP160!! Insane! Maybe that's why its stock price has stalled for months. Ended up I couldn't go online at all for the entire day ( and night ).

View from room 1836
Image from Locky's English Playground
The next morning, I went to the gym again for about an hour and half before getting breakfast with my wife at the Café Esplanada at Wynn.

Tom Yum Goong
Image from Locky's English Playground
I ordered for an unorthodox Tom Yum Goong soup with spicy fried beef ho fan for breakfast, totally gastronomically challenging!

Image from Locky's English Playground
While my wife ordered a $200 all day breakfast with very limited choices of food.

All day breakfast for $200+, drink not included
Image from Locky's English Playground
Despite only offering eggs, baked potatoes and dried ham, it didn't stop them from taking 25 minutes in preparation. Incredible service!

The moral of this story is, if you have a choice, don't choose Wynn Macau unless you enjoy digital detox and don't mind paying for expensive food.

insane -- (adj) extremely unreasonable or stupid
stall -- (vb) [I] to stop making progress
unorthodox -- (adj) different from what is usual or expected in behaviour, ideas, methods, etc.
gastronomically -- (adv) relating to the preparation and consumption (= eating) of good food
digital detox -- (n)[U] Informal A period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world

Cooking: Locky's Home-made Pork Chop Bun @ Locky's English Playground

Travelling & Living: Macau One-Day Trip @ Locky's English Playground

Friday, 8 August 2014

Technology & Science: Sapphire iPhone 6 VS Unknown Samsung Note 4 & Mohs Scale feat. Oppo Find 7

Image from androidauthority
It's that time of the year when we all have to start thinking about changing new phones and new phone/data service providers, and that is because the two largest smartphones brands in the world Samsung and Apple are bringing on their latest and smartest inventions this coming September!

First, we have Apple announcing their iPhone 6 on the 9th September. Tonnes of hype for the Sapphire crystal display because it is almost unbreakable and unscratchable!!! A lot of non-Apple fan, including me, are feeling excited about this new phone!

Exactly, how come can the screen be so durable? Here's the science!!

Here's a Wikipedia table of the Mohs hardness of minerals:

Image from Wikipedia

4.7" or 5.5", which one will people flood to get? My guess is, the larger screen is going to be a bigger hit than the smaller one in Hong Kong, because Hongkongers are into TV-drama-binging, but elsewhere, the small ones might be preferred.

Its main competitor Samsung, after knowing the exact big day of Apple, wants to spoil the party by announcing 3rd September as their Samsung Unpacked in Germany, similar to last 2 years, it is roughly one week before Apple's iPhone announcement. The question is, can Samsung surprise us enough to buy their Note 4 before iPhone 6 comes out?

Korean actor and actress from the popular romantic dramedy You Who Came From The Stars
Image from Samsung Hong Kong
You may be able to name these world-class players, but bet you can't name the amount of money their received to do this series of ads for Samsung
Image from Samsung Hong Kong

Despite very buzzy advertising, the improvements on Samsung's phones are pretty weak these 2 years (though Apple iPhones were even weaker). But with the sapphire glass already confirmed, how else can Samsung rise above Apple? This will be the anticipating factor. Will there be even cooler technology than the flexible OLED we have already seen? Will Note 4 come with a camera better than Sony's, a Quad-HD display and rapid charging better than Oppo Find 7's?

Oppo Find 7
Image from Oppo

I doubt it, since both sapphire glass and the Oppo Find 7 is really hard to beat. Frankly speaking, Oppo Find 7 is my next phone on the wishlist.

Will these two highly anticipated smartphones live up to its hype? We shall see that very soon!

binge -- (vb)[U] informal an occasion when an activity is done in an extreme way, especially eating, drinking, or spending money:
buzzy -- (adj) making a buzz : filled with a buzz
hype -- (n) [U] informal a situation in which something is advertised and discussed in newspapers, on television, etc. a lot in order to attract everyone's interest:

TV & Technology: You Who Came From The Stars (aka YWCFTS) feat. LINE & Didier Dubot @ Locky's English Playground

Does A Sept. 9 iPhone 6 Announcement Match Up To Apple's Revenue Guidance? @ Forbes

iPhone 6 Sapphire Crystal Display! @ YouTube

Sapphire @ Wikipedia

Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness @  Wikipedia

4 or 4.7 or 5.5-inches — What's the perfect iPhone 6 size for you? [Poll] @ iMore

Samsung Unpacked scheduled for September 3rd, the Note 4 is almost here! @ Android Authority

Samsung to Unveil Galaxy Note 4 on September 3 @ TNW

Oppo Find 7

Oppo Find 7 First Look and Hands On! @ YouTube

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

TV: Watch Free Mythbusters Online!!!

Image from Discovery Channel

Hope we have enjoyed some TV programs from my TV: Watch Free American TV Online post last time. Unfortunately, that Cucirca site does not have Mythbusters, my other favourite program which teaches you not only science but also English, especially idioms.

Be not afraid, I have discovered another very cool website which allows me to watch the show for free, even on your Samsung Smart TV!!

Behold, Watch Series!!!

As always, since these are websites operating on advertisements, Google Chrome plus AdBlock are always recommended.

No Adblock
Image from Watch Series

Image from Watch Series

All you have to do is choose the episode you want to watch,

No AdBlock
Image from Watch Series

Image from Watch Series
as for me, I will want to click "Watch This Link!" with the highest percentage of connectivity. As of the example above, videoweed and nowvideo are preferred as the percentages are 92% and 95% respectively.

No AdBlock
Image from Watch Series
 With AdBlock, you will not be led to unwanted websites.

Image from Watch Series
 Click "Click Here to Play".

No AdBlock
Image from Watch Series
Image from Watch Series
And then the play button to get ready to enjoy the show!!

Practising listening while learning English idioms can be so entertaining!!!

TV: Watch Free American TV Online @ Locky's English Playground

TV & Vocabulary: Mythbusters & English Idioms @ Locky's English Playground

Technology: How To Watch Free Football Matches On Your Samsung Smart TV? @ Locky's English Playground

Watch MythBusters Serie Online @ Watch Series

Technology: Google Chrome with Google Dictionary, Ad Blockers & RSS  @ Locky's English Playground