Saturday, June 30, 2007


1/3 cup cashews
1/3 cup almonds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 tbs coriander powder
2 tbs cumin powder
2 tbs black pepper
1 tsp flaked sea salt / chicken salt

1. In a dry pan over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until light golden brown. Remove from pan as soon as they are done. Cool.
2. Coarsly grind cashews and almonds in food processor til they are around the size of sesame seeds. Add the rest of the ingredients.
3. Serve with turkish bread and good quality extra-virgin olive oil. (Dip bread first in oil and then dukkah.)

comments: The first time I had dukkah was two years ago at McLaren Vale...initally i thought it was some sort of aboriginal food...cos that shop where i first tasted it carried quite a wide range of bush tucker..and only learnt much later that dukkah had middle-eastern roots. My first batch was birthed only cos i wanted to use up some sesame seeds. I gave most of it away to friends and they were greeted with much enthusiasm. (If bottled prettily, they make excellent gifts.) One lady reported eating the entire box I had given her in ONE sitting with bread and olive oil...she liked it that much. You can also add other spices like curry powder and lemon myrtle...the recipe i have provided above is quite basic..hazelnuts also work very well in lieu of the cashews and almonds. Other uses: coating for fish/ meats, sprinkling over rice and as seasoning in omelettes.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bean curd ala shark's fin!!

silken tofu 1 pack
crab meat, fresh or canned, 170 g
oil 2 tbsp
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger, finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken or fish stock (can replace with the liquid from the canned crab)
dash of pepper
dash of sesame oil
2 tbsp corn flour mixed with 4 tbsp cold water
chopped coriander leaves
chopped spring onion

drain and flake crab to remove any bony tissue. Reserve liquid if using.
heat the oil in a small pan and gently fry onions and ginger for a minute or so, stirring, until ginger starts to turn golden and onions are softened. Add stock and crab meat and heat through.
Season with pepper and add cornflour mixture.
Stir over medium heat until sauce boils and thickens. Add tofu, spoon sauce over and heat until just it is to come to a boil.
Taste and add salt if necessary. Add dash of sesame oil, top with coriander and spring onions.
Serve with rice.

slightly modified from Charmine Solomon's Chinese Cookbook

comments: this tastes like sharkfins!!! ha....just the sauce..cos of the starch and crab meat....!!
Very easy and yummy...oh and do not substitute the crab meat with crab sticks, flavours are too different.....i got my can from product apparently. :)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Teriyaki Salmon

4 alantic salmon bones
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp minced ginger
4 tbsp mirin
3 tbsp light soy sauce mixed with 1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp grated daikon/ raddish
1 tbsp thinly sliced spring onions

1. Add oil to heated pan. Wait for oil to heat up before adding ginger. Stir fry quickly til it's light brown.
2. Add salmon to pan. (temperature should be quite high and there'll be some lovely sizzling). Fry for abt 1-2 minutes and flip.
3. Drizzle mirin over the salmon. (more sizzling and smoke!)
4. Wait for mirin to reduce before adding the soy sauce-sugar mixture.
5. Cook for another 2-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
6. Serve with raddish and spring onions.

Yet another ingredient which i had to frantically find, or in this case, improvise a recipe for!!! I saw bags of salmon bones going for 5 bucks at central market and thought that they were greal deals...i remember having a very flavourful salmon head shabu shabu a few years ago and thought that i could use the bones to cook stock...however, internet research advised against using salmon bones for stock as salmon is a fatty fish and the stock will be too fishy.....then i posted a question on makansutra and received a couple of was to cook the stock with spring onions and mirin to lessen the fish smell...i tried that..and the stock turned out a little sour (perhaps it was the white wine i used???)...and then i thought that i could cook the salmon in a similar fashion as unagi...and i am elated to report: it works!!! Very very well!!!

By the way, i got the bag of salmon bones at the fish shop near Baker's delight... and there were around 14 fish's really a good deal, huh??
4 were baked in a salted-mirin and lemon dressing and 4 went into the stock with the flesh reserved for making salmon sweetcorn sushi..the next time, i will just make teriyaki with the lot!

And i also learnt something new today....daikon is the same thing as raddish...what my mom calls 'bai luo bo' (white carrots)..

OH! Please do be careful of the small bones...(speaking from painful experience, the best thing to do when a bone gets caught in your throat is to eat some rice or bread to try to bring the bone down. And go to ER if it's still there!!)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tagliatelle in Saffron and Mascarpone Sauce with Prawns

Ingredients for 6:

600g Tagliatelle
2 onions
1 Garlic clove
2 tb Olive oil
1 pinch Saffron strands
200ml dry white wine
500g Mascarpone cheese (can be substituted with cream cheese)
36 small/medium prawns, around 300g
Salt and pepper
1tbsp fish sauce (optional)
1 tbsp light soy sauce (optional)
1 tsp dried dill
1 handful torn fresh basil leaves to garnish

1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. (Pasta is done when it's still very firm to the firm. It will continue to soften after the water is drained.)

2. Finely chop the onions and garlic. In a large frying pan heat the oil, add the onions and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes.

3. Add the saffron, then half of the wine and finally add the Mascarpone cheese. Simmer gently for a few minutes, add the remaining wine, prawns and dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add fish sauce and light soy sauce if you like.

4. Drain pasta, add sauce and garnish with basil leaves.

recipe modified from here

This is a once in a while dish...and i m slightly embarassed to confess that i cannot resist bargains..i saw the mascapone cheese going for one-sixth of its regular price and grabbed two tubs...
and when i reached home, i realised..."shucks!! What am i going to do with 500 g of 35% fat cheese!!!!!????"
(do the's around 175g fat..!!!) First thought was tiramisu...but i really don't like sweet stuff and would feel so guilty eating it...and a brief, ok, not so brief, search on the internet yielded a few interesting sounding recipes...and i tried the one above...cos it had...saffron!!! Ever since tasting a very interesting prawn saffron avocado soup that Moa made, i have been quite intrigued with the's touted as the world's most expensive spice and for good retails for more than its worth in gold and thank God, that you only need a pinch for most recipes...but i think it really adds body and complexity to a dish...or perhaps it's just the psychogical effect of paying more and expecting more??? haha...
AND it has some health benefits to boot! (I'm really interested in 'protective foods'..the practical side of me likes to eat food which taste great and is also good for you..) According to wikipedia, it's apparently good for gastrointestinal ailments, wound healing (you bathe in saffron-infused water!), coughs, scabies, depression and is also anticarcinogenic! haha...sounds like a wonder drug!! But with all things, it can be toxic if used in excess..but i guess its hefty price tag is a good deterrant..

oh!! and here's a picture of Moa's soup....yummm....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

bitter gourd carrot red date soup

got the recipe from Ellena's cuisine paradise, a very down-to-earth food blog filled with Asian home-style recipes..
(modifications to recipe: Subsituted chicken bones for pork ribs cos not a pork fan...and after scalding the chicken bones, i rinsed it out and added all the ingredients plus 2 slices of huai shan to the slow cooker and left it on high for 4 hours.)

think bitter gourds r in season now....saw alot of them in chinatown recently... :)

the Chinese have a saying,"liang yao ku kuo", literally "good medicine bitter mouth" i guess it's with this (reverse) assumptiont that i eat them!! wahahaha!! But....if you do the salt treatment, it really does help to reduce the bitterness...cos i cooked another soup the other day without the salt treatment and boy, did that taste like medication....

in case you r wondering, this soup is not that bitter...slightly sweet even..thanks to the carrot and red dates...back to the topic of bittergourd being good for seems that there have been successful trials using insulin derived from bittergourd...but it only works if it's injected, not injested...but eating bitter gourd is still apparently beneficial for managing diabetes..wonder if there are any caucasians who have eaten and actually like bitter gourd? Hmm...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Spicy apricot chicken

750g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 5 cm pieces
5 tbs plain flour + 1/2 tsp salt, dash of pepper and cumin powder
2 tbs oil
2 tsp red curry paste
415 g can apricot halves in light syrup
1/2 cup chicken stock/ water
chopped basil/ coriander for garnish, optional

light coat chicken in the flour mixture.
Heat oil in a saucepan, add curry paste and stir fry over low heat for 1 minute. Add chicken and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until chicken is golden.

Add apricots with juice and stock to the pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.

Serve hot with couscous or steamed rice.

comments: I love recipes which have few ingredients and are quick to dish up!! Ha....First...a word about the red curry paste...i used 'Mae Ploy' brand...cos my second sister who used to run a Thai eatery swears by you can see from the picture, I used some chicken thigh with the bone in instead of fillets... so it took around 20 minutes, instead of 10 for the chicken to be cooked. Tastewise?? Spicy, sweet and slightly sourish! Very appetising....hmmm...and on hindsight, the apricots do taste somewhat similar to tarmarind, perhaps i can use apricots to subsitute for tarmarind paste in the future?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cream Cheese Blueberry Agar Agar

300 ml water
1.5 tbs sugar
1 tbsp agar agar powder
70 g blueberry filling (I used a blueberry fruit spread)
125g cream cheese, softened.

(Original recipe was 200ml water with 150ml thick coconut milk and 50g cream cheese)


1. Boil all the ingredients together until agar agar dissovles. Blend if necessary.
2. Pour into molds and leave to set in the fridge.
3. Serve chilled

Comments: This recipe is actually Aunty Yochana's. (Hmmm..but i can't find the recipe on her blog anymore..)
I made a few modifications to it...hers had three layers, chocolate, pandan and blueberry!! I didn't have any coconut i increased the quantity of cream cheese and water. It came out pretty nice and i was surprised at how easy it is to use agar agar's the vegetarian substitute for gelatin and smells so much better and has a slightly firmer texture..agar agar is made from seaweed and the name 'agar agar' means 'jelly' in Malay...
will try making almond jelly next time...which is essentially agar agar powder with sugar, milk and almond essence.. :)
Oh and this recipe is not very taste after boiling and decide if you wanna add more sugar...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Catalan Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Almonds

i followed the recipe from the traveler's lunchbox...and was blown away by the results!!

You've gotta try it!!! It's extremely flavourful and oh-so-satisfying...!! Mmmmmmmm...

A photo essay of what the world eats

This is so interesting!!
(Got it from Josh Harris' website..the book was published quite a while ago which explains the dated clothing in some of the pictures...)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Korean style Fried Rice cakes

500g dried rice cakes (purchased from Asian grocers, white, flattened cyclindrical shapes...less than $2 for a 500g pack)
3 leek, sliced thinly
6 leaves of cabbage, sliced thinly.
2 clove of garlic, minced
4 tbs of gochujang
2 tbs sugar
5 crabsticks/ fishcakes, sliced thinly
dash of sesame oil
1 tbs oil
1/2 cup water

soak dried rice cakes for at least 12 hours.
fry garlic in oil til fragrant. Add leeks and cabbage and cover the pan for ard 5 mins.
Add rice cakes, crabsticks, gochujang, sugar n water and fry for another 3 minutes.
Serve with a dash of sesame oil and pepper.

serves 4-5

Comments: For a non-spicy version, substitute the gochujang and sugar for 4 tbs of oyster sauce, 1 tbs of light soy sauce, half tsp of sugar and 1/4 tsp of white pepper. I love the chewy texture of these rice cakes...pity about the long soaking time...this is a meal which requires planning! :)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Steamed cabbage rice rolls with spicy korean dip

This recipe is from
Unfortunately...the dip is really EXTREMELY spicy...i rather like the idea of cabbage wrapped rice...but would recommend a different dip....or omitting it altogether and perhaps adding some savoury filling with the susage/ stewed meat....

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Stewed Rhubarb with apple and custard

tadah!! This is the fist time I have actually purchased rhubarb!! Never knew quite how to cook it...saw in central market this morning and thought that it was at a very good price...and only upon paying, realised that i had made a was $9.99/kg, instead of $1.99/kg....fortunately i had only grabbed a few stalks... :P

The following recipe recipe is from Mrs Dixon and her daughter cooked it...I merely watched and took notes...they are both very experienced and talented cooks!

300g rhubarb, cut into 2 inch bites (cut off the tail and the top)
1/4 cup sugar
slice of ginger, around 2mm
an apple, sliced into wedges
1/2 cup water

1. Add all ingredients to a pan and boil for around 10 minutes or until rhubarb has gone all soft and stringy. (yes, they do look very much like vermicilli..)
2. Serve hot or cold with custard and a dash of nutmeg powder.

makes 4 small portions or 3 regular ones...we paired it with aroound 500ml of custard.

For the custard, we used 'Foster Clark's' custard powder...the traditional way is to cook it over the stove, stirring it constantly...but apparently the microwave is a better option as heat is distributed more evenly and your chances of burning the custard are drastically reduced...:) If you choose the stove method, do let the custard come to a boil...otherwise the corn starch taste will linger and leave a very unpleasant aftertaste.

The taste of rhubarb, for the quite strange to say the leaves a very 'siab' (hokkien) sensation in the mouth..hmmm...."it makes your teeth feel rough?" That's how Mrs Dickson's daughter described it....(Just found the word i was looking for....Astringent!! :P But that doesn't sound very appetising at all, does it??)

The rhubarb was very good with custards and i heard, ice-creams and sponge cakes as well....
MMmmm...will experiment more with it when prices come down..!

Oh...and rhubarb is apparently very good for the stomach and high in vitamin C, potassium and can read more about it here and here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Lamb Korma and Indian salad

here is the recipe for the Indian salad..which i learnt from an Indian should be quite

4 firm tomatoes, diced
2 brown onions, cut into thin rings
1 bunch coriander, chopped finely
125 ml Greek yogurt
1 tsp cumin powder
0.5 tsp salt

method: mix everything together and leave in fridge for at least an hour for flavours to mingle.

comments: The lamb is cooked using a spice mix...fry onions, brown the meat and then simmer in the sauce til tender. In this case, it stayed tough despite 2 hours in the slow cooker..perhaps i should have cooked it longer..:P but the girls didn't complain and commented that the lamby taste is not very apparent...also added some chopped apples and dates for fibre..
the green stuff you see mashed minted peas (from a can!)...and the white stuff, plain rice substitute for papadums!! hehehe..!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

cheese and chive muffins

1 egg
¾ cup water
1 cup self-raising flour
½ tsp salt
125g grated cheddar
1 tbsp fresh chives
½ tsp pepper
coarse sea salt (optional)

mix all ingredients until just combined.
Spoon into well-greased muffin pans and sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake at 190 degrees F for 15 minutes.

comments: from my beloved penguin muffin bible. A very simple recipe!! No oil/ butter added...very crispy on the outside...and the taste is reminiscent of deep-fried fritters.. makes a great little party snack!! possible variations: corn kernels/ minced onions/ sun-dried tomatoes..

Saturday, June 2, 2007


Nemo's 'pork-squid fire meat' (in the pot)..that's a direct translation from Korean...marbled pork and squid with onions, scallions in a spicy bean paste sauce...and chinese styled baked chicken wings

the steamboat .. we had chicken, beef, fish paste, deep fried yam, 4 types of mushrooms, assorted vegetables and noodles..

towards the end...looks really green and healthy with so much vegetables yar??

Steam boat ingredients for 10- 12
$8-10 each

Meats/ protein
Chicken thigh fillet 600g
Beef fillet 600g
Fish (lean white fish) fillet 400g
Squid balls 1 pack
Eggs 1 dozen

Chinese tofu 1 box
Fried dried beancurd 1 pack
Straw mushrooms 1 can
Enoki mushrooms 1 can
Swiss brown mushrooms 300g
Chinese cabbage half
Wong bok 1 bunch
Tong cai 1 bunch
Spinach 1 bunch
White fungus 1 packet
Yam 500 g, cubed and deep fried
Beancurd sticks 1 pack
Sweet corn 4, cut into smaller pieces
tomato 4, cut into wedges

Hokkien noodles, tang hoon 500g
or mee hoon etc

Chicken bones 2-4
4 slices fresh ginger
2 scallions, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
Salt and pepper, to taste

method: blanch chicken bones twice and then add cold water. I used a 5 liter pot and threw in the rest of the ingredients and simmered for 8 hours.

Garlic and ginger paste (to divide equally btw the chicken n beef)
• 10 garlic cloves, crushed
• 1/2 cup roughly chopped ginger

Chicken marinade
• 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
• 1 tablespoon Shao Hsing wine
• 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
• dash of sesame oil
Beef marinade
• 2 tablespoons char siu sauce
• 1 tablespoon Shao Hsing wine
• 1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper (heated in pan until aromatic n crushed) and salt
• dash of sesame oil
Fish marinade
• 2 tablespoons finely sliced coriander stalks and roots
• 1 tablespoon peanut oil
• 2 teaspoons sea salt
• 1 teaspoon white sugar

Ideas for dipping sauces

Hosin sauce: Combine 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce, 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup, 1/4 teaspoon vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce.

Sweet thai chilli sauce: 2 tbs sweet thai chilli sauce, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tbs fish sauce, 2 tbs water, 1 tsp chopped coriander. Mix well.

The mariandes and hoisin dipping sauce were from here.

steamboats are great for cold nights and they're meant to be long noisy affairs, best enjoyed with friends who have huge appetites!! :P We used a electric steamboat but you can also use a slowcooker or ricecooker, just make sure the stock is boiling hot when you pour it in..
Ingredients are extremely versatile as can use almost anything you like...just keep in mind different colours and textures.. :) oh...and cook the meats first then that the stock becomes 'sweeter'..

Friday, June 1, 2007


Tasted really authentic...but i can't claim any credit at all!! It's a Prima Taste premix!! Really simple...add the premix to hot water, boil with some tau pok (deep fried dried bean curd) and serve over blanched noodles (we used a combination of yellow mee and rice noodles) and either fish/ cuttle fish balls, beansprouts and coriander...the meal can be prepared in less than 20 minutes..!!! (hmmm, usually for the stuff you've been seeing here...i take ard 1-1.5hrs..)

and for the lunch the following day, we had this..

cos our mothers told us not to eat any leftover foods** which had coconut milk.....not exactly sure why....the oils easily go rancid perhaps??

Anyways!! In the picture...notice that the rice is very red??'s not the regular jasmine/ long's red rice with equal amounts of pearl barley and sweet potato cubes...supposed to be really healthy and good for u...once again...according to my mother! ha...


**oh yeah....just a word of explanation..actually there are 4 of us who share cooking....from Mondays to person is in charge of just one day and cooks enough for dinner and the next day's lunch. So effectively, you cook once a week and then get 8 meals and of course, the enjoyable company of your friends during dinner...
Can't take credit for this clever arrangement..some seniors came up with's been working really well so far..cos we get to eat a variety of foods and cooking and i must say, it's very time and cost-efficient as well.