Archive for the ‘Home Fares’ Category

Roselle Cordial

July 2, 2010


There were lots of roselle for sale at the Satok weekend market in Kuching, Sarawak. I haven’t seen these fruits in years, and certainly never thought I’d one day have to buy them. We used to have roselle bushes in our garden, and they grew everywhere in the neighbourhood.

The roselle belongs to the hibiscus family. If there is such a thing as trend in gardening, then there was a time when it was fashionable to plant roselle. They were real pretty too, with their vivid red berries.

The roselle plants grew well, yielding generous harvests….not that I ever tended to the garden then. I only remember that we love roselle because it was like the poor man’s substitute to Ribena (blackcurrant drink). It was sweet, and had a more tangy edge… but it had a pleasant berry-ish taste and it was real refreshing with lots of ice.

We must have made bottles and bottles of cordial from the roselle in our garden. I don’t remember when the roselle bushes disappeared from our garden and the neighbourhood, and I never gave it much thought.

I bought a basket of roselle at Satok because I had a sudden craving for the drink. Besides, a basket only costs RM1. And so I stuffed it in my suitcase, and brought it back to KL.

It’s easy to make roselle cordial. Just peel off the calyx (your fingers will be stained red) and discard the seedpod. Wash and rinse well, and then boil in water with loads of sugar. I had started out taking careful measurements, but lost track of how much sugar I used as I added the sugar twice more while making the cordial. The roselle is sour-ish, so you need a bit more sugar. It’s also nice to make the cordial thick.


My RM1 of roselle yielded a small bottle of cordial, and it’s as good as I remembered it to be – sweet with a pleasing sourish tinge – exactly the drink for hot afternoons.


And the kids like it too, and at least we know that there is no preservatives or artificial colouring in ths cordial ….. just copious amounts of sugar!


Dip for Fried Fish

May 9, 2010


I like plain fried fish – marinated with salt and turmeric, or with salt and white pepper. It has to be fried right, and that means it must be crispy on the outside and moist inside, not bone dry.

I could happily have a plate of hot rice with just fried fish, with condiments like kicap manis and sambal belacan. But I like it most with this dipping sauce – a sweet-sour-salty-spicy dip made with sliced shallots, kalamansi lime juice, sugar, thick soya sauce and bird’s eye chilli.


This is the combination I like, but there are many other versions.
Some people use tamarind juice for the sourness, and some add carambola or belimbing buluh. Some people add toasted belacan (prawn paste) too, and some don’t use soya sauce.

I also like this dip with sambal belacan (red chillies pounded with toasted belacan). The best place to sample these dips is at the stalls selling grilled fish. My favourite dip the one served at Pak Din’s stall at the Jalan Tanglin food court at the Lake Gardens.



Dipping Sauce

5 shallots, sliced thinly
Juice from 6-8 calamansi lime
4-5 bird’s eye chilli, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon thick soya sauce

Mix the shallots with the calamansi lime juice for at least ten minutes. Then, add the bird’s eye chilli, sugar and thick soya sauce. Mix well, and taste. Adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Bok Choy With Oyster Sauce

April 8, 2010

Some weeks feel longer than others, and I just want to do nothing on weekends. On those days, I just want to make something reassuringly easy that I know will turn out well.
This was how I first learnt to cook my green vegetables. It didn’t involve the theatrics of stir-frying, and was just perfect for our student day makeshift kitchen that consisted of a hotplate.
There really is no recipe. It’s essentially blanched green vegetables with crispy fried shallots and fried garlic, topped with a dollop of oyster sauce. The crispy fried shallots are really optional, fried garlic lends enough aroma to this dish.


Chop garlic and slice shallots (if using), and sautee in a little oil over medium heat. Stir from time to time to make sure they don’t burn.
Set aside when they start to brown.
Meanwhile, wash the vegetables and blanch quickly in boiling water. Toss.
Arrange the vegetables on a plate, and garnish with the fried garlic and shallot.
Add a tablespoon of oyster sauce, and toss everything together.

It’s also a healthy dish, and it’s nice to eat crisp green vegetables that are simply prepared. It’s also real quick to make. You can also make more of the garlic and shallot oil, and keep to use another time.

Home-style Hokkien Stir Fried Noodles

April 4, 2010

noodles2 copy

Most Chinese in Malaysia originate from Southern China. In Penang and Malacca, the Chinese are mainly from Fujian, and the dialect spoken is Hokkien. Although the Hokkiens is one of the most prominent groups, their cuisine is not so commonly found outside homes, as compared to Cantonese food.

One of the reasons is that Hokkien food is simple home fares. The one restaurant that specialises in Hokkien cuisine is Ang Hoay Lor in Penang. It’s an old restaurant, and their specialties include bak ki mi sua (vermicelli soup with the softest meat coated in starch flour), leek stirfried with tofu, oyster omelette and of course Hokkien char (stir fried Hokkien noodles).

Hokkien mee (noodles) means different things in different parts of Malaysia. In Penang, Hokkien Mee is prawn noodles but elsewhere in Malaysia it refers to big fat yellow noodles stir fried with thick soy sauce and garnished with pork lard bits (like croutons), prawns and pork liver. My current favourite is the one served up at Reunion restaurant in Bangsar Village, Kuala Lumpur.

Then, there is Hokkien Char, which is commonly found in Penang but not elsewhere. Hokkien Char is yellow noodles stirfried with prawns, liver, choy sam (sawi) with a little thickened gravy, and garnished with fried shallots.

Then, there is the home-style version of Hokkien noodles, such as the one served in Ang Hoay Lor restaurant and in homes. It’s just plain stir-fried noodles – yellow noodles stirfried with a little garlic and flavoured with light soy sauce, and garnished with meat, seafood and some greens.

Most everybody knows how to make these stir-fried noodles, and we mostly use whatever is available in the kitchen to make this – anything from pork to cuttlefish. It’s nice to add mushrooms and carrots too.

For me, this dish is elevated from plain to delicious with some sprinkling of fried shallots, and most importantly an accompaniment of sambal belacan (red chillies pounded with toasted belacan (shrimp paste)).

We cook these noodles mostly for breakfast, or when we need to cook something quick to feed lots of people. I hate to admit it, but this noodle dish is one of those home-style dishes that we often take for granted.

I tried ordering it at one of those stir-frying food stalls in KL one day, and realised that there isn’t even a proper name for it. I can’t call it Hokkien Mee or Fukien Chow because that refers to the fat noodles in black sauce, and my Cantonese is too elementary for me to describe what I want.

So, I guess the next best thing to do it to cook it myself.

noodle copy

Stir Fried Hokkien Noodles

(Serves 4)

1 cup of cooking oil
6-8 shallots, sliced thinly
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
10-15 prawns, remove shells
4-5 squids, cleaned and sliced
8-10 slices of either chicken, or pork
2-3 dried mushrooms, reconstituted in some water and cut coarsely
1/2 carrot, sliced
2-3 tablespoons light soya sauce
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/1/2 teaspoon of MSG, optional
2 cup water
500g yellow noodles
100g bean sprouts
2-3 stalks of choy sam, cut coarsely

Heat the cooking oil, and saute the sliced shallots over a medium fire till fragrant and crisp. Keep stirring, and watch that it does not burn.
Set aside.
(Fried shallots is optional, but it does enhance the taste of the noodles).

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil from frying the shallot. Saute the garlic till fragrant, and then add the prawns, squids, and meat. Saute over high heat, stirring till the prawns turn pink. Lower the heat to medium, and add the mushrooms and carrot.
Season with the light soy sauce, white pepper and MSG. Stir to mix together, and add water.
Let it simmer, and add the noodles, bean sprouts and choy sam.
Stir it all together, and taste. Season with more soya sauce or salt to suit your taste. Let the noodles simmer for a few minutes, and serve.
Garnish with the fried shallots.
Serve with sambal belacan, or cut red chillies in soya sauce.

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Claiming My Chinese Food Heritage

Living Dangerously – Stir-fried Roast Pork

March 18, 2010

I am a Penangite, but I only recently found out about Kedai Makanan Teik Seng (on Jalan Carnavon, next to the old Hup Loong provision shop). It’s a popular `chu char’ place where you can order rice and dishes. We’ve never eaten here simply because they serve dishes that we eat at home all the time. After all, eating out used to be an indulgence and we’d only order food that my mother couldn’t make.

At Teik Seng, they serve good ol’ fashioned simple fares like leek stir fried with tofu, steamed eggs, lala stir-fried with ginger and yellow bean paste, bittergourd with salted duck’s eggs. They also do a delicious sting ray asam curry, and double-boiled soup, and claypot dishes. We also spied butter prawns on another table.

Stir fried roast pork with soya sauce

But it seems that the star dish at Teik Seng is roast pork stir-fried with soya sauce. Eating Asia was raving about it, and they call it bacon candy. We ordered that too, and my colleagues (from Kuala Lumpur) Niki Cheong, Ian Yee and Sharmila Nair voted that the best dish on the table.

We actually ate at Teik Seng two days in a row, and tried the stir-fried roast pork with cili padi. It was good too, with the cili padi adding a subtle kick.

I was a little less fascinated…mostly because we have this dish at home quite often although I must admit that the version here is really good because they use a lot of oil. So, it’s almost like they shallow fry the roast pork in soya sauce.

One of the must-have prayer offerings on occassions such as death anniversaries are roast pork and chicken. And this is what many people do with leftover roast pork, especially during prayer days when there is too much food.

Stir fried roast pork with soya sauce

We love roast pork, but it’s quite impossible to finish eating it especially when there will usually be six to eight other dishes. So, my mother would stir-fry the roast pork with garlic, thick soya sauce and a dash of sugar. It becomes quite a different dish, as the roast pork would be coated with caramelised soya sauce, and stir-frying retains the crispiness of the crackling. I like it with plain hot porridge, and it’s also good for picking on (yeah, like a snack).

Then again, when it comes to roast pork, living dangerously is the way to go. After all, it’s the ultimate indulgent breakfast food – on Sunday mornings, I know of people (some of whom live in my house) who would order roast pork to munch on or to add on to their noodles.

Stir fried roast pork with soya sauce


1 tablespoon cooking oil
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
600g roast pork, sliced thinly
2 tablespoon thick soya sauce
salt and sugar, according to taste
(I like about 2 tablespoons of sugar because I like it a little sweet)

Heat cooking oil, and saute garlic.
Increase the heat, and throw in the roast pork. Add the thick soya sauce, and fry quickly so that the roast pork are coated evenly.
Then, add salt and sugar.
Stir quickly over high heat, less than a minute.

Note: Add more oil if you want the roast pork to be more caramelised.
It’s an aromatic dish, and experienced cooks can tell just from the smell if there is enough soya sauce or sugar.

Home-made Ice Lollies – Malaysian-style

March 7, 2010

CHINESE New Year is long over, so why is it still so crazy hot – as in still air;sticky, muggy, sweaty, suffocating heat; sweat running down the face; thirsty all the time; five cold showers in an afternoon HOT!

This heat feels like the blast of oven-heat you get when you step out of the airport after two weeks of holidays somewhere cold….

I’ve drank more soft drinks in the past month than I had in the past year, and I fill up the ice trays religiously. There is ice-cream, and juice and boxed drinks in the fridge, and Coca Cola. I have stopped by the roadside for sugar cane juice, and cendol. But I am still thirsty all the time.

Then, quite suddenly, I remembered ais krim Malaysia – home-made ice lolly in long narrow plastic bags (11 inches X 0.75 inches). I don’t know if people still make them these days; the plastic bags (labelled “for ais krim”) are still available in the shops selling plastic bags, so that must mean people are still making these ice lollies.

These ice lollies are easy to make; just fill up the plastic bags with juice, kopi o, milo, blackcurrant juice, whatever….and knot it, and throw into the freezer. In my time, kids make them all the time. It’s all about using lots of sugar, so you have to make the juice a little sweeter than you’d usually drink it. Otherwise, your ice lolly will be flat.

Then again, kids these days have slurpees from 7-11s (with all their glorious artificial flavouring and colouring). So, maybe that’s why they don’t have to their own ice lollies.

We didn’t have 7-11, but there was a makcik who sold ais krim Malaysia from her house. And all the schoolchildren in our neighbourhood would stop by at her kitchen window on the way to the bus stop to get their fix.

She made the best ais krim Malaysia; the kind that we didn’t make at home – bubur kacang hijau (green mung beans cooked in coconut milk and sugar), bubur kacang merah (red beans boiled with sugar) and sweetcorn (from the can). They were sweet and rich (lemak), and we love chewing on the beans and sweetcorns in between slurping on the icy sweetness.

But my favourite ais krim Malaysia is made with asamboi, salted sour plums. That’s partly because I was an asamboi addict – couldn’t study without sucking on asamboi with icy-cold water. In ice lolly, the saltiness and sourness of asamboi are the highlights, layered with the sweetness of the syrup – and the cold ice intensifies all these flavours.

When you first suck on an asamboi ice lolly, the sourness will hit you first. That intense sourness, combined with the icy-coldness, will shoot straight up to the head and give you a one-second high. Then, the sweetness and saltiness will take over. And finally, after you’ve sucked out all the flavours from the ice, and bit on the white ice, you’ll still have a sour plum to chew on.

I also make some adult happy ice lollies – my current favourite is made with rum and orange/pineapple juice. The ratio is 1:4 for rum:juice. It’s not potent, but you can pretend it is.

(Makes 20)


2 litres of water
2 cups of sugar, or to taste
100g of asamboi (I like red ones)

Bring water to a boil, and add the sugar and asamboi. Boil over low heat, or until the sugar has dissolved. Let it cool.
Fill the ice cream bag three quarter full, add a sour plum or two, and then knot the bag securely.

Love Leftovers – Kiam Cai Boi

February 17, 2010

Sure, the Chinese New Year meals are good – curry with gigantic prawns, roast pork, steamed chicken, soup with pig’s intestines, fish maw and abolone, mixed vegetables, lor bak (meat rolls),  jiu hu char (stir-fried yam bean with cuttlefish). But what I look forward to most is kiam cai boi – which literally translates to leftovers with salted vegetables. I don’t know if this is a uniquely Peranakan dish, but it’s how we turn leftovers into a new delicious dish.

This stew’s dominant notes are sourish but not tangy, with the slightest of spicy tinge. But kiam cai boi is only good when it’s not flat, but rich and robust with layers and layers of flavours.

At its best, kiam cai boi is more-ish, you want more and more of it because all your taste buds come alive. It’s deeply satisfying; it tastes great in the mouth, warms your belly and leaves you satiated.

Then maybe two weeks or three months later – in the midst of a mundane errand or while being stuck in traffic or after a dismal meal – a sudden craving for kiam cai boi will hit you. Your memory will only hint at how the stew tastes like; it’s all just blurred lines and dull edges.

And so you wait for an honest to goodness pot of kiam cai boi, and relive the intensity and pleasures of having its nuanced flavours chasing at your taste buds.

The next big day on the Lunar New Calendar is on the ninth day when the Hokkiens worship the God of Heavens (Ti Kong). At the stroke of midnight, families will put out a huge spread of offerings and pray for blessings and prosperity.

Most well-to-do families will offer a roast pig, which they will then distribute to families and friends. The roast pig and other leftovers from the prayer tables are bounty for the kiam cai boi pot.

You can also make this soup when you don’t have leftovers; using bones and meat. Some duck rice and economy rice stalls sell kiam cai boi, but their version is often thin and one dimensional. Somehow a ‘constructed’ kiam cai boi lacks the depth and nuances that bona fide leftovers give to the mixture.

Throw in lots of mustard leaves because they absorb the soup's flavours

There really isn’t much of a recipe for this dish, but there are some essential basic building blocks. The sourness comes from salted vegetables and dried tamarind slices (asam keping). Dried hot chilli is essential too for that spicy edge.

And I love lots and lots of mustard leaves – they absorb all the flavours in the soup. The vegetable stems become soft after all that stewing, so soft that you take a bite and all the soup’s flavours just burst forth.

The mustard leaves and tamarind make kiam cai boi a yin dish. In Chinese food philosophy, this means it has cooling properties; it’ll cool down the body but also bring dampness to the bones.

Mustard leaf is a yin vegetable. My grandmother used to cook mustard leaves with glass noodles and sweet potatoes for my mom when she has fever because it’ll bring down the body’s temperature. In those days, they don’t go to the doctors and have paracetamol and antibiotics shoved down their throats.

Because kiam cai boi is considered a very yin dish, those with rheumatism or arthritis or a bad back are discouraged from eating this. So are those with cold or flu or asthma.

To balance some of all that yin properties, add a knob of old ginger (which is a heaty or yang food) into the pot.

Some people put in a stalk or two of lemongrass for its aroma.

Some people also like nutmeg seeds in kiam cai boi. You can buy this from the Him Heang dragon biscuit shop on Jalan Burmah, Penang or at the Chowrasta market on Penang Road. We used to save the seeds when we buy fresh nutmegs to make cordial. But it’s all right even if you don’t use nutmeg seeds.

And of course, the most essential imgredient is the leftovers – don’t throw in your curry chicken, but roast pork , mixed vegetables, pork bones and ribs, chicken etc etc can join the party.

Let the soup simmer and simmer until everything is soft and squishy, and all the flavours come together

So, basically you throw everything into a big pot, and add enough water to cover all the ingredients and bring it all to a boil. Then, you lower the heat and let the mixture simmer gently. My mom says if the soup is not sour enough to your taste, do a short cut and add some tamarind juice. It gets better the longer you keep it – in our house, a huge ass pot only lasts a day and a half. Serve it with sambal belacan (of course) and hot rice.

I also love love love the aroma of this soup…it’s my ultimate comfort food after all. It’s what I request for every time I came home on my university breaks. And I still remember how wonderful the aroma of this soup simmering away is as I walk through the door early in the morning after an all-nighter on the night train from KL.

So, yeah, I love kiam cai boi.

Awesome Aubergine

February 10, 2010

I never thought that I’d actually like aubergine one day…just like I didn’t think I’d ever like capsicum or bittergourd or celery. Yup, I was the typical vegetable-hating child. But here I am, all grown-up and actually enjoying the taste of vegetables… and before I lose my teeth too.

Anyway, none of my housemates (aka my family) would touch aubergine – one, because he is a boy and the other because she is a child. So, when I cook aubergine, I eat it all on my own…which I don’t mind at all.

My favourite aubergine recipe is simple – one that my aunt cooks all the time (and of course, my uncle won’t touch it). She fries the aubergine slices and sets them aside. Then, she sautes chopped garlic, shallots and bird’s eye chilli, and add a dash of soy sauce. She mixes the aubergine and the sauteed ingredients, and it’s absolutely delicious.

She has been cooking aubergine like this for years, and a month ago she served up something similar but with some nice twists.
She used yellow bean paste (I’m into this ingredient now), and adds a drizzle of lime juice just before serving the aubergine.

I love how the aubergine absorbs the salty-heaty fragrant onion-garlic-chilli mixture… and a dash of sourness actually rounds it all up real nicely.

The best thing about my aunt’s new recipe is that she steams the aubergine now. That means the dish is healthier, and less oil gets splattered on the kitchen floor which means less mopping to do.
I don’t really care about the oil clogging my arteries; the drudgery of housework bothers me more.

It takes all of 20 minutes to cook this dish, and I am glad my aunt exchanges recipes with her neighbours when they chat in the playground (and that my imp’s stunts on the swing doesn’t distract her from doing so).


Aubergine With Yellow Bean Paste

1 medium aubergine, sliced
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2-3 shallots (or half an onion), chopped finely
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
2-3 bird’s eye chilli (or 1/2 red chilli), sliced
1 tablespoon of yellow bean paste
(or substitute with 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce)
1 calamansi lime, optional

Quarter the aubergine lengthwise, and cut into 4in/10cm slices. Steam for 8-10 minutes, or until softened. You can also use a microwave oven to steam the aubergines. Set aside.

In the meantime, heat the cooking oil over medium heat. Saute the chopped shallots, garlic and chilli until fragrant. Then, add the bean paste and saute until fragrant.

Add the fried mixture to the steamed aubergine, and drizzle with lime juice just before serving.

Loving The Humble Bean Paste

February 5, 2010

For the longest time, I had a jar of yellow bean paste at the back of my refrigerator. I forgot all about it because I hardly use it in my cooking. If I am not cooking curries, I am probably cooking Western dishes.

I threw out the jar, without even opening it, because it’s gone so long past its expiry date I dare not find out what was growing in there.

And just like that, I have a million and one … okay, maybe five…recipes using yellow bean paste that I needed to cook that week. So, I kinda rushed to the provision shop and bought a jar. Most cooks like a particular brand, and my aunt used to only buy her bean paste from a neighbour who makes them. But I have no preferences, and just bought one with the longest shelf life left.

Yellow bean paste is made from salted and fermented yellow soybeans. The beans are blended with salt, sweet glutinous rice wine and brown sugar, and fermented for about three months.

They are salty and a little sweet too…. the intensity of both flavours is what differentiates one brand from another.

There are many variations of yellow bean paste, especially in Taiwan where it’s an important ingredient in their cooking. The best dishes with bean paste that I had was at the Taiwanese restaurant New Formosa in SS2, Petaling Jaya (46, Jalan SS2/24, 47300 Petaling Jaya. Tel: 03-7875 1894, 03-7875 7478.) They dish out the best fish cooked in bean paste sauce laced with lethal bird’s eye chilli (as well as the most delicious butter unagi and my favourit-est caramelised yam).

It was after New Formosa that I had new found respect for the humble yellow bean paste sauce. I love the aroma imparted from sauteing yellow bean paste, and it usually goes really well with ginger and garlic.

But I love yellow bean paste most when its flavours are lifted by the fiery heat of bird’s eye chilli.

One of my favourite dishes with yellow bean paste is braised pork ribs.

I first had it a long time ago at my husband’s friend’s then girlfriend’s dinner party. I love the dish, but unfortunately didn’t hit it off with the cook. I think I tried to ask for the recipe, but she wasn’t forthcoming and I didn’t persist.

When I saw the recipe for Braised Spare Ribs In Brown Sauce in Deh-Ta Hsiung’s The Chinese Kitchen, I knew I had to try it. I just added bird’s eye chilli, instead of the red chilli stipulated in his recipe. If you can take the heat, use bird’s eye chilli.

My recipe is simpler than Deh-Ta Hsiung’s recipe, and much much more fiery.

ribs n taucu



(Serves 4)

2 tablespoon of cooking oil

2 inch young ginger, julienned

2 cloves of garlic chopped finely

2 tablespoons of yellow bean paste

4-5 bird’s eye chilli, according to how hot you want the dish

600g pork spare ribs

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon of sugar, or to taste

Heat cooking oil, and saute the garlic and ginger until fragrant.

Then, add the yellow bean paste and saute until fragrant.

Add bird’s eye chilli. (I slice it coarsely because I want to avoid burning my lips from biting into them).

Increase the heat, and add the spare ribs. Stir until they are evenly mixed with the rest of the ingredients.

Add the water, and bring to a boil. Then, lower the heat and let the ribs simmer slowly covered for between 20-30 minutes, or until the ribs are soft.

Stir occasionally, and season with sugar when it’s done.

Home Fares – Potatoes and Chicken

December 29, 2009

potatoes and chicken

I didn’t grow up with French fries, mashed potatoes, potato salad or baked potatoes. The only potatoes I knew were those in curry chicken laden with coconut milk, or fried potato wedges to go with pork chop, or with meatballs.

But my favourite potato dish was a simple one – thick slices of potato with pork. It was the most nondescript and comforting dish, and I probably took it for granted for years.

I didn’t even bother to learn how to make it until my aunt taught me how to cook it because my daughter loves it (and we know who is the BOSS).

We substitute the pork with chicken now, and it is an easy dish to make. Still, I made a mess of it the first time because I didn’t know how much soya sauce to put in, and threw in way too much. Even with all the gravy, you actually only need about 1 tablespoon of light soya sauce… I actually stood and watched my aunt make the dish before I got the seasoning right.

Anyway, this is a good dish to serve to children, and easy enough to make… and easier to eat.

potato and chicken


1 tablespoon of cooking oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 chicken thigh, deboned and cut into 4-5 pieces

4-5 potatoes, peeled and sliced thickly

1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, or to taste

2-3 shakes of ground white pepper

a pinch of sugar

1 cup of water

Heat cooking oil, and saute garlic.

Throw in the chicken over high heat, and stir for a minute or two.

Then, add potatoes and stir.

Add seasoning, and stir.

Add water, and bring to a slow boil.

Then, lower the heat to low and let it cook slowly covered.

It’ll take between 15-20  minutes for the potatoes to soften (but not crumble). By then, the gravy would have thickened.

If you like more gravy, add more water and adjust the seasoning.