Monday, June 30, 2008

Thai Style Bak Choy

A new way to eat Bok Choy- with coconut milk, chili and lime!!

very interesting combination right???

6 spring onions
2 bundles of bak choy
2 tbsp oil
3 fresh chilies, cut into thin strips
4 garlic cloves
1 tbs crushed peanuts, toasted

for the dressing:
1 - 2 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs lime juice
3 tbs coconut milk (original recipe called for 1 cup but we found it u might want to play around...)

1. To make the dressing, blend together the fish sauce and lime juice and then stir in the coconut milk

2. Cut the spring onions diagonally into slices

3. Call the bak choy into very thin shreds

4. heat th eoil in a wok and stir fry the chili for 2-3 minutes until crisp. Tranfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.

5. Stir fry the garlic for 30-60 seconds until golden brown and transfer to the plate with the chilies.

6. Stir fry the white parts of the spring onion for about 2-3 minutes and then add the green parts and stir fry for a further 1 minutes. Add to the plate with the chilies and garlic.

7. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the bok choy, stir twice and then drain immediately.

8. Place the warmed bok choy in a large bow, add the coconut dressing and stir well. Spoon into a large serving bowl and sprinkle with the crushed peanuts and the stir-fried chili mixture. Serve either warm or cold.

recipe from 'The vegetable encyclopedia and cookbook' by Christine Ingram

comments: Such an unique dish!!!!! Will definitely try it again..we sort of muddled up the steps this time and didn't get the chili and garlic to crisp very well... all the different flavours seem to jostle for attention all at once but hey, it works!

Spring Onion Surprise!

Did you know...
that if u bought spring onions with roots, u can actually leave them in a glass of water and they will continue growing for 3 weeks or so???

what do i mean??

Both Sara Jean and Aira thought that i was just putting them in the glass for either
a) decoration
b) preservation

no, no...I snipe off the tops and then in a couple of days, they will grow back...the only thing which u have to do is to change the water daily otherwise it stinks up pretty quickly...

Isn't this such a great thrifty tip??? It will save $2 every month???! heeh...but seriously, it's great to have self-rejuvenating fresh greens, isn't it??

Sara Jean says that she loves me alot cos of all the cooking/household tips i impart....can you tell that our friendship is very deep??

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Soba Dipping Sauce!!

One of the biggest perks of studying overseas is having friends from all over the world...and being able to learn things from them. Over here, one of my best teachers is Aira!! She is such an amazing cook!!!

I asked her to teach me how to make a soba dipping sauce and here is a recipe which she came up with, off the top of her head! And it is almost identical to what you get in Japanese restaurants... (actually i think it's the same but saying that would raise your expectations too high eh?? :))

Soba dipping sauce: (makes enough for 2)
sake 2 tbs
sugar 1.5 tbs
Dashi 6 tbs
light soy 3 tbs

mix together til sugar dissolves.

and she also showed me the Japanese way of folding the soba so that it doesn't clump together so much and is easier to eat..

step 1: grab hold of some soba between your thumb and forefinger

step 2: twirl it around the little finger

step 3: clench your fist gently round the noodles

step 4: slide noodles onto plate (it should look sorta like a figure 8)

Soba is usually served with tempura and also some japanese spices, ginger and wasabi on the side...we toasted some seaweed (the same kind u use for sushi rolls), black and white sesame seeds and had some chopped spring onions..

red bean soup with tangerine peel

1/2 cup red beans
enough water to cover up to 2 inches above red beans
3 pandan leaves
1 piece dried tangerine peel (can be omitted)
sugar to taste (only add when the soup is done)

put all ingredients (except sugar) into a slow cooker. turn it on high and leave it alone for 6 hours.
if using the stove top, put all ingredients (except sugar) in a pot, bring to boil and leave to simmer, stirring occasionally for around 1 hr, adding water when necessary. (Strange thing about boiling these beans, if u add too much water, the beans will remain hard no matter how long you boil them for...better to add as you go..)
If you prefer a more 'pastey' version, just take out the pandan leaves and tangerine peels and process the beans with a hand blender.

This is one of the most elementary chinese 'tong sui'...i really love the fact that asian desserts are so healthy...good source of protein and fibre and low in fat content....
my sis and i used to love eating this frozen when we were kids..yeah....i guess u could blend it and then freeze it in popsicle sticks in summer...
note about tangerine peel..add it in when the water is still cold otherwise it imparts a bitter taste to the soup..

Puff Pastry Seafood Pizza

super easy recipe- great for days when u don't feel like cooking...i based the following recipe on a vegetarian pizza from here.

Puff Pastry Seafood Pizza

1 sheet puff pastry
4 tbs tomato paste
pinch of sugar
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp chili powder (can be omitted)
2 handfuls mixed seafood (around 200g?)
2 handfuls pizza cheese (i used a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella)
spring onions/ parsley for garnishing

note: toppings can be easily changed...zucchini and bacon, asparagus and egg, ham and pineapple...u get the idea..

Thaw pastry sheet at room temperature 40 min. Preheat oven to 180°C.
Cut into 4 squares and prick center of each square thoroughly with fork. Bake 10 min.
Add sugar, basil and chili powder to tomato sauce and mix well. Spread onto puff pastry.
Top with seafood mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5 minute or until cheese is melted.
Top with chopped spring onions and serve immediately.

Honey Linseed bread

have been sick at home for the past few days and ran out of breakfast i tot, why not make some bread...use up some ingredients and reduce the stuff to move...(in 4 days..woohoo..!!)

had some linseeds/flaxseeds so decided that will be the basis of the of the easiest recipes i found on the net was this one...which produced a subtly sweet and very delectable bread...i really like it... it's great just on its own...yum!

Honey Linseed Bread

7 g dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1-1/4 cups warm water
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup linseed
1/3 cup pepitas
1/3 cup sesame seeds
3 cups plain flour

In large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 2 tablespoons of warm water. Set this aside until bubbly, about five minutes.
Mix in honey, oil, salt and the remaining 1-1/4 cups warm water. Add seeds and 2 cups of bread flour. Mix well.
Stir in enough of remaining flour to make soft dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead for ten minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Shape into a loaf and place in a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Bake in 180 C oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped.
Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.
Recipe makes one loaf or 12 to 16 slices.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

my favourite birthday present of all time..

is this baby!!

A long lost high school friend got it for when i was back in Singapore...(facebook is awesome!!)

but i haven't used it as much as i should but still...i think it's great...!!

you cook food in the inner pot on the stove and allow it to simmer for maybe 10-20 mins depending on the dish and then pop it back into the thermos and leave it alone for a few hours and viola, your food is done..!! Fantastic for bringing soups and congees to sick friends....and for potlucks and stuff..

what i've used it so far.. barley water, rice, green bean soup...(rice takes just around 20 mins, don't worry..)

think i will make more chinese type soups with it when i move next week...cos the size is just nice for one or two...currently i still use my regular slow cooker which gives me a good reason to invite friends's so much more cost efficient to cook for more...

And why i liked this present so much... it was also the way my friend gave it to me, she knew i was goin to buy it and then spontaneously said, "hey, let me get this as a birthday present for you alright?"

(Of course, I did the asian thing and tried to decline weakly...but i think my beaming smile gave it all away..!)

I am lucky, I know!!

Thanks XM- I think of your kindness and generousity each time i see it!

things i wished i knew when i first arrived in Adelaide.

where do i start?

Hmm...perhaps the ones which i think r the most important???
the following list might be slightly more geared towards Asian students...

- get a slow cooker; they r awesome...congee, chinese soups, desserts, stews, chocolate fondue- very safe and easy to use

- stock up pantry with basic sauces and ingredients - oyster sauce, cooking wine, light soy, pepper, rice, canned food like tuna, salmon, frozen veggies so that you can whip up a simple meal in a jiffy

- cheese, butter, flour, chocolate are way cheaper here...if u like to bake cakes or muffins or would like to try, now is the time!! Provided u have an oven of course..all of aunty yochana's recipes come highly recommended...

- Buy your basics in supermarkets and fresh fruit and veggies at central market and farmers' markets. You'll usually be able to snatch up quite a few bargains in central market on Saturdays around 12- 2pm if you don't mind crowds. Many items go for a dollar a bag/ kg...oh and you'll be surprised at the range of asian foods you can find in central market too...i think i can find more ingredients there than in convenient!! I'll miss central market soo much!!!

- If you have a microwave, get a microwavable rice container. I find them heaps better than rice cookers as they don't stick as much and are pretty fuss free. Plus the microwave does many other things as well. BUT if you don't have a microwave, do get a rice cooker...Big W sells them for around 20 bucks nowadays..!!

- food blogs are great resources for recipes...personally, I love love love Lily Ng's Wai Sek Hong...every recipe there is u get kudos everytime and it really helps to boost your 'cooking confidence' ...not to mention, they re-create the 'taste of home' might take a little while to find a food blog you like though..through trial and error..

-following recipe faithfully the first time, making substitutions only if necessary (allergies/ religious reasons..)...i had a friend make a cheesecake and out of 8 ingredients, she substituted 6 and then asked me why it didn't turn out well...hmm..

Yeah...that's about it....and don't get too discouraged if you don't succeed the first few times, i think it took me maybe 1 year to be truly comfortable in the kitchen? :)

More suggestions welcome....!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Money Bags!

don't they look like little fat coin pouches? This picture was taken just before they went into the oven..

I remember my uncles' zi char stalls used to sell something like these...but they were usually deep fried...

So i m really delighted to learn from My Kitchen Snippets' that spring roll pastry can be baked in the oven to the same crispy effect!! (Think of all the calories and hassle u r saving yourself!!)

The filling is a mixture of mashed potato, tuna, peas and black fungus. Basically it can be anything you want...

the main thing is the skin..(which can stay in the freezer for an amazingly long time...i think the ones i used today are at least 9 months old...!!! Just leave it out to thaw under a wet towel for around 20 mins)

here's a pic of the packaging..

Spring Roll pastry with tuna and potato

1 packet spring roll pastry (around 50 pcs)
4 medium size potato
1 onion, minced
1 sheet seaweed (optional- it was something i wanted to use up)
1/2 cup peas
handful dried black fungus, soaked in hot water for 10 mins and then minced
425g can tuna

2 tbs tomato sauce
1 tsp wasabi
2 tbs mayonnaise
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbs fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce

Saute onions til soft and brown. (if u dun mind the 'spiciness' of raw onions, u can skip this step)
Steam / boil potatoes til soft. Mash and set aside.
Drain tuna and add to potatoes. Add peas, black fungus, onions and seasoning. Adjust to taste.
Put 1 tbsp of filling onto the middle of the pastry and twist. Apply some water if necessary.
Bake in preheated 180 degrees oven for 10-15 mins until light golden.

They make great party snacks and appetisers...especially for Chinese New Year....cos of their prosperous appearance!!!
Good to serve with some sort of a dip too...i made one with tomato sauce, mayonnaise, wasabi, sugar and coriander..Even just sweet chili sauce will be fine! Fillings are really flexible too...chicken with yam, pork with chestnuts, seafood and corn, asparagus riccota...whatever tickles your fancy really! But cook the meat based fillings first...cos the short baking time might not do the job properly... Have fun experimenting!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

lip numbing chili!!

what do u do when u run out of ingredients? Improvise of course- and sometimes you come up with unexpectedly nice food...

like this chili!!!

made KL black Hokkien noodles and Lily said to serve it with sambal belacan...couldn't locate any belachan in the house and decided to chop up some dried chili and fresh tiny bird's eye and soaked dried shamp and galangal...toasted the mixture in a pan for around 10 minutes til fragrant and added minced coriander, lemon juice, sugar and salt.

this chili can best be described as very 'shiok'- singaporean slang for 'excitingly delicious'??


3 dried chillies, soaked in water
5 bird's eyes (can be more if u can take the heat!)
2 tbs dried shrimp, rinsed and drained
galangal, a small piece around the size and thickness of a small coin, minced
2 sprigs of coriander, minced
lemon juice, 1/4 cup
water 2 tbs
salt 1/2 tsp
sugar 1 tsp

quantities of seasoning can be further adjusted to taste...

best served with stir fried dishes and also great with prawn crackers!!

Abalone for five bucks?!!!

yes...i couldn't believe my eyes too....

Australian green lip abalone for $5.49 a piece!!!!!!!

i'm sure they won't taste that fantastic (they can't cos they r too cheap...i m just trying to console myself!)..
compared to $200/kg for the ones which i got for my mom last year...these are an absolute steal..

and where can u find them in Adelaide???

at this new supermarket on Grote street...

Time Supermarket - open 7 days til reasonably late...

the shelves are not that well stocked yet cos the supermarket is quite new but i noticed that prices are slightly lower than the other asian shops...and the seafood are especially worth a look at...many types of fish and seafood for around four to fifteen bucks, frozen but still!!

A kg of scallops for ten bucks anybody??

Saturday, June 21, 2008

No talking please...we r Singaporeans...

i always think that i am being somewhat rude or ignorant when i don't contribute more to meal conversations with non-singaporean friends...

but then this article tells me that i m being true to my roots...

"Do not be surprised if conversation grinds to a halt once the meal has been served. Singaporeans are passionate about their food, and many will prefer to enjoy their meal in silence punctuated by food-related comments."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

a change of scenery and a brand new kitchen..

Next month, i'm moving to a granny flat near the beach...

when i first wanted to go see the flat, a friend told me that she had seen the same property last year and she warned me that it was sort of dark but the landlady was very nice and I should see it just so i can have a realistic idea of what's on the market. I went, I saw and i liked the place (i thought my expectations must be way lower than my friend's) and told the landlords that i wanted it on the spot. They are a really kind and easy-going couple and agreed to hold the flat for me until my current contract expires..and even offered to help me move my stuff cos they have a van..

Last night, i went to pay the bond and sign the contract for the unit and had a look around again and was informed that the kitchen was newly renovated after the last tenant moved out...!!! No wonder i liked it so much!

The place is FULLY furnished and the microwave is brand new...there's a bar fridge with a very small freezer compartment (enough for sorbets and ice-creams, so i m content). BUT there is no oven and the stove is a portable electric burner type thingy..

but i will think i will be very happy there...the shops and tram is just nearby and i have a crockpot and maybe will get a portable most types of cooking will be fine...maybe just won't be baking as many cakes and muffins..

and the best part is that the dining table sits four comfortably and six, very cosily..
(Being able to have friends over is very important..cos i love cooking for gives me immense satisfaction!!!)

Oh and there is one final drawback...there is no internet or rather, there is the option to connect but i don't think i will...and thus, might have to stop food apologies in advance..infrequent postings for the rest of the year..

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Salmon and cucumber bites

possibly one of the easiest and easily tastiest appetizers i have ever tried...which is why i m posting it despite not having any pictures!!!

4 cucumbers

1 can pink salmon, drained and mashed
250g cream cheese
2 tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp paprika
dash of fish sauce
3 sprigs of coriander, minced
salt and pepper to taste

capsicum, diced, for garnishing

allow cream cheese to soften at room temperature.
Mix in everything else except for cucumber and capsicum.
slice cucumbers into rounds and top with a heaped teaspoon of salmon mixture. Garnish with bits of capsicum.

**recipe modified from 'Finger food, best ever small food recipes' by Bay books

Monday, June 2, 2008

Happiness is...

a spacious, fully equipped kitchen with a well stocked pantry and free rein to cook or bake whatever i want!!

This is the last week of my placement in Hobart and i really should have blogged more but the placement was pretty full on and weekends were filled with various fun activities and before i knew's nearly the end!!!

For the first 5.5 weeks, i stayed at a place with a smallish kitchen...and last week, i moved to a colleague's house...she's a dietitian...and a mom and wife...and i really love staying makes such a world of difference when the people staying in a house are loving, happy and warm....

the thing which i love most about my colleague's place???

The kitchen!!! It's got everything!!! Gas stove (so much easier than electric ones!), huge fridge, big oven, food processor, breadmaker and herbs and spices and condiments for cooking all sorts of cuisines!! (Even tamarind pulp!!! I m cooking pad thai tomorrow!!!)

Cooked coq au vin two nights ago, a pumpkin slice (similar to zucchini slice) last night and baked a beet greens (leaves of beet root) CAKE just now..waiting for it to cool... Blogger is not letting me upload any u just have to imagine a brown cake with specks of green and red... heehee...