Monday, May 31, 2010

My Garden To My Kitchen - Oyster Sauce Prawn With Spring Onion & Thyme

Ever since I moved back to Kuala Lumpur and into my own place half a year ago after calling Singapore home for the last 10 'freaking-where-did-they-go' years, I've been cultivating a new hobby - gardening! After I got help to get my messy backyard cleared (no more snakes slithering around anymore so far!! yes, scary!), I've been trying to plant anything and everything that could grow and flourish under the hot tropical sun plus withstanding the beatings of frequent and unpredictable heavy downpours! Gardening is pretty new to me and I'm not even sure if I have green fingers. Furthermore, the soil in my backyard is clay-like so I was really doubtful anything could grow well. But I guess if weeds and grass could grow, then the soil should be fertile enough to feed at least a couple of variety of edible plants and veggies. Well, as the old adage goes, you'll never know if you don't try! It also helps that I've been exchanging planting tips with my sisters (who are avid gardeners) and turning to the web for more information for a novice like me. Gardening has got me so excited that I've been buying seeds of all kinds, germinating and sprouting them, transplanting them and watching them grow. It's really going through a string of trials and errors, like rowing through uncharted waters but most of all, it's been fun so far...except for my failed cabbage seeds. Nothing seems to sprout at all from my cabbage seeds :(.

Anyway, on to more happy plants...I now have 2 corn, 1 longan, 1 Indian jujube (which I initially got conned and led to believe that it was an apple tree!), 2 pumpkin which I'm so excited about, a bunch of pak choy and bayam (local Asian spinach), and some herbs like rosemary, thyme and basil. Now, let me start small by sharing pictures of my humble spring onions and thyme.

Spring onions are the EASIEST and FASTEST to grow and pretty much suitable in most types of soil! Just bury a couple of onions about 3/4 deep into the soil, water twice a day (do not over water) and you'll get fresh spring onions for cooking in about 3 weeks' time. Growing your own spring onion is fail-proof and it'll make a great confidence booster in kick-starting your desire to plant other edible greens. Planting in pots works just as well.

This thyme plant was originally in a pot when my sister bought it for me. I transplanted it to the ground about 2 months after that and I completely didn't expect it to survive as the stems were starting to dry out. Much to my gladness, it did survive and is still growing new young stems and leaves. Thyme is a hardy herb plant and not much care is needed. It doesn't crave for attention but propagating it could be quite a challenge. Stem cutting is a way of propagation. I just love the smell of this wonderful herb.

Last but not least, here's a simple recipe with spring onion and thyme from my backyard garden.

Oyster Sauce Prawn with Spring Onion and Thyme


10 -12 large prawns (with shell intact)
2 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 inch ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp cooking wine (optional)
1/4 tsp black/thick soy sauce
2 tbsp water
1 tsp sugar
1 green chili, sliced
1 tomato, quartered
A handful bunch of spring onions, cut into 1.5 inch strips
2 sprigs thyme leave, roughly chopped

Heat the oil and saute the garlic, onion and ginger for 5 minutes. Add in the sliced chili and tomatoes. Stir fry for about 3-4 minutes, then add in the prawns, then the oyster sauce, cooking wine, black soy sauce, water and sugar. Taste a little of the sauce. Add more oyster sauce if not salty enough and a bit more sugar if not sweet enough. It should be salty sweet but not too sweet (depending on personal preference too). Stir fry until prawns are just cooked. Then throw in the spring onion and thyme. Stir under high heat for another 1.5 minute and dish up. Serve hot with rice.


  1. Ha! I'm the first one here. Must read this post before I'm off to bed.
    I also wanted to plant spring onion in my garden. Is it the small onions (shallots)? and I thought is not easy to grow thyme, lucky you ;)
    Lastly your prawn dish looks so delicious.
    Goodnite ;)

  2. Hi Anncoo..haha, yes you're so quick to drop a comment ;). Always a pleasure to hear from you. I used big onions to get big spring onions. Shallots will yield very thin and shorter spring onions. Yes, thyme ois not easy to grow but once you can get it to grow, it doesn't need much care. Don't even need to fertilize it too. Ok, sweet dreams!

  3. Wow, your garden is so amazing, i do envy you! I love gardening so much, but living in a small apartment with the balcons limits my types and size of plants :( Normally, i have some herbs, one lemon tree and one small apple tree! ;( Moreover, the weather in Italy is not adaptable for Asian vegge which i deadly crave for ;((

  4. I was wondering how your garden was going after you 4 legged visitor was helping you move the plants around! :D

    I have pretty good luck with thyme, oregano, and marjoram. They must like hot summer weather. Of course my rosemary is a bush and its been around forever. Can pretty much ignore it.

  5. Jealous .... your spring onion look very pretty. I didn't plant any this seasons. Maybe next year. Prawn looking delicious ...

  6. that case perhaps I shd try to grow thyme too...Ive seen the plant sounds encouraging that its hardy n i love the fragrance. teh prawns look very good..nothing like fresh herbs to cook with :) u have a lovely garden !

  7. Oh, how I wish I have a garden of my own, then I would plant all the herbs that I can use for the kitchen... I am glad you got so many things growing in your garden. (say, were you the one who had to chase a dog away from your backyard?)

  8. I don't have much garden space in my house so I have to plant everything in a pot. Thyme do grow very well and they love lots of sun. I too like to stick onions bulb the sprout into the soil and they grow very well. Each time I need some spring onions I just snip off the top and they will continue to grow :)

  9. I bought 1 pot of mint leaves and 1 pot of Parsley from my recent trip to Cameron Highlands. Not sure how long it can survive.

  10. wow that thyme plant is hugggeee !!! I don't think I have green fingers... my rosemary and mint just kinda died / dried up..

  11. Awwwww Petite Nyonya, I think I need to plant the spring onion since you said it's easy. Question, any soil and any type of onion would do? How often do you need to water it? Yeah,screw me...I seriously suck at gardening but having a little herb & edible flowers garden would be my dream and I'll make Aaron do it!

  12. Envy! I sooo want a herb garden too! Thyme is also one of my all time fave herb. :P Can imagine those prawns are real aromatic and tasty!

  13. I think I must learn to plant some herbs and spring onions here. They look so fresh. Love the prawn favourite...mmm

  14. I'm not good with gardening. I've only bought potted herbs and they all tend to die after a week!

  15. cookingpractice, it's wonderful that you have some herbs, lemon and apple tree. maybe you can try planting Asian veggies in pots during summer.

    Lyndsey, my 4 legged visitor still hangs around sometimes but he has stopped chewing my plants ;). I would love to plant more herbs like basil and marjoram.

    Elra, I bet your garden is lush and wonderful too with all the fruit trees.

    Zurin, I love your post on the rosemary bread! Yeah just buy the potted thyme and transplant to a bigger pot or in the ground.

    Shirley, yes I'm the pone who had to chase a stray dog away as he was chewing on my plant! He doen'st do it anymore now ;)

    Gertrude, planting in pots are just as interesting. Although I have garden space, I still plant some in pots.

    Little Inbox, I tried planting mint but they failed to survive. I shall try again.

    Swee San, I'm a first time gardener and not everything I planted grow well. Don't give up keep trying if you do want to plant your own herbs.

    Quinn, you can use large onions to yield bigger spring onions. Any soild type like black or red clay-like soil is okay. No need to fertilise too. Do try, you'll feel happy when they start to grow.

    Bee, you can have potted her garden too!

    Mary, yes go ahead and try, it's fun too apart from having fresh herbs whenever you need them.

    pigpigscorner, try transplanting them into bigger pots with more soil. maybe they will survive with more room to grow.

  16. FINALLY, a blog post from you!! Been waiting like ... forever! =P

    You definitely have green finger ... When I move out and have a place of my own, I may start planting useful plants because I get to use them in the end in my food ... if they ever grow and strive lah ... Hahaha! You make planting scallions sound easy, eh? How I wish I have some scallions planted, too, so that I can pluck some whenever I need to use them in my cooking and baking.

    We're planning on another gathering ... think will switch to end of June ... as we've been thinking of having one this weekend. End of June sounds better for you?

    Take care till then ...

  17. What a beautiful dish. THe prawns look so pretty and vibrant!
    *kisses* HH

  18. welcome to the world of gardening! You certainly have had a good start - don't worry, some things don't want to grow for us, however hard we try!!! Recipe looks yummy.

  19. Hey, Happy Gardening! I stopped gardening after moving into the shoplot. I used to plant lots of Taiwanese beans(purple colour type), bottle beans and bittergourd. Guess, these are the few easy ones to plant here. And they grow fast too! I think you need to mix in some(at least) a few packets of black soil which you can easily get them from any gardening nursery. Try to move the soil a little higher. The best is to place in some bricks around the soil you need. I enjoy seeing them grow and it's fun by the time you started picking up the fruits. Hope you're having a wonderful time!
    Cheers, Kristy

  20. Btw, I still have lots of orchids infront & behind my home!

  21. this look really healthy with own planted herbs, great job!

  22. Beautiful and delicious prawns, how wonderful to use your own fresh herbs in the dish!

  23. I wish one day I can have a garden too!! It's fun to plan your own herbs and vegs..

  24. How lucky to be able to go from your garden to your kitchen! Better than organic!

  25. Your spring onions look really good. I have a smaller garden but keep 3 tomatoplants, garlic, many harbs, radishes, salad leves, yellow paprikas,etc.

    This dish looks so tasty & well flavoured!!

    It screams: EAT ME PLEASE!

  26. I don't have a garden...well, that's not the excuse..the point is that I am hopeless in gardening. So I give it up.
    The dish looks flavourful and delicious with fresh herbs and oyster sauce.

  27. Gosh,
    With so many people trying to plant herbs, maybe I should plant some too.
    I used to think that besides basil, nothing else will grow here.
    I am wrong, so wrong!!!!!

  28. Hi, first time here. The prawn dish looks flavourful with fresh herbs and oyster sauce. I plant pandan leaves, curry leaves, mint, spring onions, kaffir leaves and kunyit leaves all in pots in my garden. They do come in very handy!

  29. I have similar gardening challenges. We have extreme summer heat, and when we rarely get rain, it's a lot at once. Good luck with your garden! Your prawn dish sounds great with thyme.

  30. Hi, I am new to gardening too... and really bad at it. My mint, kesum and cili padi plants have died on me...either i over-water them or neglect them when I am outstation. It's hard work gardening, but so nice to have pandan and curry leaves without making trips to the market

  31. Adding thyme makes it so less-Chinese as a stir-fry but I bet the aroma is special and this is superbly delicious.

    Envy you and your garden :)

  32. Love the idea of getting fresh herbs from the garden...your prawn dish looks yummie!

  33. first time here... wow shrimp with spring onion and thyme sounds so delicious ..tnx 4 sharing

  34. Very flavorful and delicious looking prawns:)

  35. I think it's fun to have a garden. I hope one day to have one to grow my own herbs and vegs.. and fruits, maybe ;)

  36. I share the same passion like you except I dun have a garden like yours. I plant all my herbs in pots only. You are lucky your thymes are growing wild. Mine dried off :(

    I will be planting spring onions later tis week inspired by you :)

  37. welcome to garderning!! I also learn garderning 2 years ago..actually gardening is a fascinating and interesting hobby but alot of work..Luckily mine is only for summer..after that can goyang kaki! hahaha! apple tree grown in tropical climate? hmmm..impossible!!anyway like your prawn dish! anything cook wt prawn is my favorite!

  38. hi, i'm new here,Just wonder how is your rosemary growing, i have bought a pot of rosemary and transfer to the soil when it start to get pot bound.However, it seems like it's drying up now, not too sure why, is it due to our Malaysia weather being too hot?


  39. hi Sem, my rosemary plant is surviving well so far. it actually needs sun so our weather is alright. if there are dried leaves, just pluck them off. also cut a few stems once in a while to encourage more growth of the plant. do not overwater. good luck!

  40. When I bought my house through costa rica homes for sale
    I expected to have a big stove in the kitchen with a huge space, now I am really happy because I can cook every kind of recipe in my huge stove. I really love it.