Advertisement 300 X 250

Girls' Best Friend

Bright and sparkly. Gemstones came to my mind when I was removing this Dragon Fruit and Orange jelly from the mould. Like a combination of gemstones...rubies, amber and diamonds, all in one!

Dragon's Eyes

The literal translation for the name of a small brown, juicy exotic fruit from the lands of Asia, known as Longan in Chinese, packed into these muffins

Nostalgia

A taste from the humble beginnings, the Long Bean Rice brings back beautiful memories of the yesteryears

Light and Fluffy

Lemon, Yogurt and Cranberries~a nice blend of flavours in a light and fluffy chiffon cake

Bread Stories

Asian style buns ~ Popular as breakfast food or snack, sweet/savoury fillings wrapped in soft, cottony bread

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A Turkish Affair


The one food that left a very lasting impression of our holidays in Turkey was rice pilaf.    My son was still very young back then and every time he hit the buffet table, the first thing he would look out for would be rice pilaf, those plain classic ones with orzo.   That alone made him a happy boy for the entire trip.  His love for it was hardly surprising, firstly being Asians we eat a lot of rice and pilaf being rice cooked in seasoned broth brought it a level higher. 

So i decided on a pilaf to lend my support to the Asian Food Fest blogging event which is featuring West Asian food this month.   I chose to make the eggplant pilaf (Patlıcanlı Iç Pilav),  a dish said to have originated from Ottoman palace kitchens.  A hearty and healthy vegan dish that can be eaten on its own.  The soft and creamy eggplants paired very well with the aromatic rice (if you love eggplants that is).   The addition of some Turkish dried apricots (my own twigging since i had some on hand) gave a hint of sweetness to the dish and an added Turkish identity to the dish, if i may say :)

Although the dish can be eaten on its own though, i made a Turkish style grilled chicken dish to accompany it.  A tangy marinade made from a combination of yogurt, lemon juice and spices was used to season the chicken.


So, it was a Turkish affair for my family that night.  I will remember their reactions for sometime now, they were taken by surprise :)  But i would be honest to say i was the only who enjoyed it the most, my boys don't like aubergines/eggplants/brinjal or whatever name you call them and in whatever way you make them, unfortunately!   Actually it was quite funny when they started picking them out from the rice.  But for those who love aubergine, i am pretty sure you will like this dish, so as they say in Turkish,  Afiyet olsun!  



I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest : West Asia hosted by Shannon of Just As Delish

Signing off for the year with wishes for a very Happy New Year to all my friends out there and 
some memories from my holidays in Turkey for viewing pleasure.  It's a beautiful country, enjoy!

The Blue Mosque

The Ephesus

Cotton Castle 


Fairy Chimneys' Mountains


Recipe - Eggplant Pilaf
Source: Food Thought For who adapted from Ghillie Basan 

Ingredients
  • 1large aubergine/eggplant (3 medium size ones)
  • 1 cup of rice. Long grain is better (2 cups)
  • 1 small onion. Sliced (2 small onions)
  • 2 cloves of garlic. Slivered (4 cloves)
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar (1 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp of whole cumin (1 tsp cumin powder)
  • 1/2 tsp of whole coriander (1 tsp coriander powder)
  • 2 small tomatoes,  diced (1 large tomato, seeds removed)
  • 2 tsp of tomato paste or puree ( 1 1/2 tbsp tomato puree)
  • 2 cups of water. Lukewarm or at least room temperature. You can use stock as well (Water, as per noted on rice cooker)
  • 6-8 tbsf olive oil. Not extra virgin 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley for garnish, optional 
  • 10 pieces of dried apricot, diced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
Steps
  1. Soak aubergine/eggplant in salted water for at least an hour but no more than three. Drain, squeeze the pieces and dry with paper towels.  Heat  5 tbsf olive oil ( do not sear the oil as the smoke point for olive oil is low) and  gently add the aubergine pieces. After adding in the aubergine, reduce heat, add a tsp or so of olive oil from the top, mix and cover as they fry gently. Check often.    Drain on paper towel and set aside.
  2. Wash and soak rice (if you have the time), skipped. Soften onion and garlic in olive oil. Stir in the sugar, cumin, coriander cooking for a couple of mins. Add the tomato puree and tomatoes. Cook for 3-4 mins. Add the rice. Coat everything. 
  3. Add the water or stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer. About 20 min. Keep an eye.
  4. When rice is done, mix in the aubergine, apricot and raisins. Leave aside for around 15 minutes for aubergine and fruits to soften slightly.
  5. Garnish with parsley and cubed tomatoes. Serve warm. 
Note: 
  1. My variations are in blue.
  2. The original recipe recommended toasting the spices (cumin/coriander) then ground for best results if used in whole.
  3. I used a rice cooker for step 3.  Simply transfer everything into a rice cooker after step 2 and add in water as per manufacturer's recommendation.

Recipe - Turkish Style Grilled Chicken

Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons cumin seeds (1 tbsp cumin powder)
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped 
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, finely minced (4 cloves garlic)
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika (1/2 tbsp chilli powder)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (1/3 lemon)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (1/2 cup yogurt)
  • 12 boneless chicken thighs, about 2 to 2-1/2 pounds, or 4 half broilers (8 drumettes) 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedges for serving
Steps
  1. Toast the cumin seeds in a small saute pan over medium heat until the seeds are fragrant and start to pop in the pan. Remove from the heat and grind in a spice grinder. 
  2. Place the cumin, onion, garlic, paprika, and lemon juice in a food processor or blender and pulse to liquify. Add the yogurt and pulse just until blended. 
  3. Put the chicken thighs in a shallow non-aluminum baking dish or bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken and toss well to coat. Let stand at room temperature at least 2 hours or cover and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade (discard marinade). 
  5. Place the chicken on a broiler rack and broil until browned on top, about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400°F(205°C) and bake until the chicken is juicy and just cooked through, about 15 minutes longer. (Thigh meat will appear dark pink, even when cooked through.) 
  6. Serve immediately.
Note:
  1. My variations in blue.
  2. Skipped step 1 since i substituted with cumin powder.
  3. The chicken pieces didn't turn out pinkish in color, probably because i replaced paprika with chili powder and the amount added was not much to suit my son's acceptance level.

Friday, 20 December 2013

In the Mood for Christmas

Season greetings!  Christmas is just around the corner and the year will be drawing its close already! 

Its been awhile since my last post...i have been hibernating :)  But i am awake now, in time to wish all my friends out there a blessed Christmas and a beautiful new year ahead!  And I am glad that the mood for some festive treats is kicking in!



Panettone is a traditional italian christmas bake.  Some say it's the Italian version of a fruit cake since it has in it lots of raisins, dried fruits and candied citrus peel but being yeasted its very much lighter with a soft and fluffy texture.

A classic panettone is tall, cylindrical  and domed shaped. And the dough needs to be proof over a long period of time.

What i have here is a pseudo or simplified version of a Panettone. Not dome shaped for sure, i braided it for the christmas wreath look (i couldn't miss this opportunity to make something that look like a wreath bread) and i didn't follow a classic recipe.

It's tasted good nevertheless, well at least good enough for the family.  The overnight sponge dough method although not as long as proofing the entire dough for 12-15 hours still produced bread that was soft and fluffy.





Recipe
Adapted from recipe for Macadamia Fruity Bread in Magic Bread by Alex Goh

Ingredients
Part A
  • 120g bread flour
  • 85g boiling water
Part B
  • 280g bread flour
  • 60g sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 15g milk powder
  • 6g instant yeast
  • Zest from 1 orange (3 tbsp candied kumquat)
Part C
  • 100g cold water
  • 3 egg yolks (1 large egg)
Part D
  • 80g butter
Part E
  • 30g raisins
  • 30g golden raisins (dried apricots)
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grand manier (2 tbsp orange juice)
Step
  1. Premix Part E and set aside for at least 1 hour. (Left it for 4 hours) 
  2. Add boiling water from A into flour, mix until well-blended to form dough.  Cover and set aside to cool.  Keep it in refrigerator for at least 12 hours. (Left it for 6 hours only yet bread turned out well)
  3. Mix B until well blended.  Add in C and knead to form rough dough.  Add in A and knead until well blended.
  4. Add in D and knead to form elastic dough.  Add in E and mix until well-blended. 
  5. Cover the dough with cling film and let it proof until double its original size.  
  6. Punch down dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Form dough into a ball and place it in a cake pan.  Let it proof until double its original size.
  8. Bake at 180C for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Note:
  1. For Step 3 and 4, I used my breadmaker to mix the dough by placing all wet ingredients followed by dry ones and adding in E after the dough has been formed.
  2. I used a 20cm chiffon pan and took out 200g of dough to proof it in 4 cupcake liners  which was meant as a gift for a friend.  The bread would have looked tall enough (i.e. more pannetone like) if the entire dough went into the pan instead.
  3. Instead of forming into a ball (i wanted the top to be christmas wreath like instead of a dome) , i divided the dough into 2 parts then cut 3 stripes out of each part and braided them.  I laid one part on top of one another into the pan.

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to all my friends out there!

I am submitting this to the "Baby Sumo's Christmas Recipes Collection 2013" event which is hosted by Baby Sumo of Eat Your Heart Out.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Cake for Self



It's my birthday today...Happy Birthday to me :)  This is the first time i am baking my own birthday cake.   I thought I deserve some self loving :))  We all do, don't we?   So, might as well bake something that i will like and share the love!  

Being a citrus lover, I picked this kumquat orange cheesecake.  I never forgot how lovely it looked ever since i saw quite a few of my blogger friends baking it some time back.  Coincidentally, i saw kumquats at the store over the weekend and was also reminded of a kumquat bake that was made by Mel recently.  She simply loves kumquat, and it triggered my curiosity to try it out.

This is also my first bake with kumquat.  I love how it turned out, looks and taste wise.   Cake was creamy, the orange flavor was unmissable and the candied kumquat literally top it all!   And did i forget to say there wasn't much shrinkage and there were no cracks!  

Hopefully i will find some kumquats during the Lunar New Year to make this cake again.  Kumquats are auspicious for the chinese and this cake will definitely be something that will be very much welcomed. 


Recipe
Source : First spotted on Cherry on a Cake then Table for Two or More with original recipe from Vera of Baking Obsession

For the candied kumquats 
Source : Table for Two or More
Ingredients
  • 250g kumquats (slice thinly about 3mm and remove seeds)
  • 125g sugar
  • 125ml water
Steps
  1. Put kumquat slices in a heavy saucepan.
  2. Add in sugar and water.
  3. Stir then simmer on medium heat until kumquat slices turn translucent.  If it's too dry add a little water, there should be some syrup left.
  4. Store extras in a jar.

The Crust 
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup vanilla wafer cookie crumbs (I used savoiardi lady fingers leftover from a previous tiramisu bake and finely ground in a food processor)
  • 1 tbsp packed golden brown sugar
  • 30g butter (cut into small pieces)
Steps
  1. Set the oven at 170C. Line a 6 inch spring form pan (i used a removable base pan) with parchment paper. 
  2. Combine all the above ingredients for crust. Mix well with fingers and pat and press into pan and up the sides about an inch. 
  3. Bake for about 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown and set. 
I wrapped the bottom half of the pan with heavy duty aluminium foil to prevent leakage since it was a removable base pan. 

The Cheesecake
Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice 
  • 1/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 T finely grated orange peel (from 1 orange)
  • 250g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1T all purpose flour
  • A pinch of salt4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg (60g) plus 1 small egg (40g)
Steps
  1. Combine half the amount of the sugar and orange peel in the saucepan. Rub with your fingers until the sugar is moist and aromatic.
  2. Add orange juice and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes until the syrup  is slightly thicken.  Cool completely.
  3. With an electric mixer beat cream cheese, remaining amount of sugar until creamy and smooth. Add in flour, salt and eggs one at a time. Combine well. Finally add cooled orange syrup/juice. Stir well to combine.
  4. Pour the cheesecake batter over  the crumb bottom. 
  5. Bake until softly set about 45 minutes. 
  6. When baked leave the cake in the oven for an hour to cool down and to prevent cracking the top. 
  7. Chill overnight and loosen the edges with a knife the next day and unmould (I manage to remove the cake from the pan after 2 hours without any chilling)
  8. Arrange the candied kumquats in circular rows on the top. 
Note:

  1. The recipe below is only 1/4 of the origin recipe and it is also with some slight variations from me.
  2. The original recipe recommended the water bath baking method.  I didn't use a waterbath but i place boiling water in 4 small tart moulds in the four corners of the oven and place cake on a tray above the moulds.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Quirky Oats Treats


I am not particularly an oats lover but i will eat it on a regular basis for my heart's sake.  Unfortunately it's not the case for my boys. I have to resort to sneaking it into their diets. Hence, I am always delighted to discover recipes with oats where i least expected it. Along the way, i have learned to sneak in some oats here and there too, especially in places where they would least suspect its presence :)

Cucur Udang (Prawn fritters) is one savoury snack that is well loved locally.    We eat them on its own with some chilli sauce or it is added as a condiment into a salad (known as rojak locally) drenched with peanut sauce. Sinfully delicious food!  So, to lessen the 'sins', i added oats into the batter :)  In case you are wondering if my boys detected oats in them, the answer is No :)  It tasted as delicious and as crispy if not better!  Mission Accomplished!


Recipe-Cucur Udang
Ingredients

Part A
  • 20 medium size prawns, shelled, cut into smaller pieces
  • 1 onion
  • 100g bean sprouts
  • 50g  Chinese chives
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
Part B
  • 1 cup plain flour, remove 2 tsbp and replace with rice flour
  • 1/2 cup instant oats
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chicken stock granules
Part C
  • Water
Steps
  1. Put all ingredients from Part A in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add in ingredients from Part B
  3. Mix well and ensure ingredients coated with flour. 
  4. Pour in water a little at a time, stop when mixture becomes a thick batter. 
  5. Heat enough oil for frying in a wok/frying pan.  Place a ladle in the oil to heat it up.  Remove the ladle and allow excess oil to drip off.
  6. Spoon enough batter to fill the ladle.  Gently lower batter into oil.  After 2 or 3 minutes, a crust will form at the bottom of the ladle, gently push the batter out of the ladle with the tip of a small knife.  Continue frying until it turns golden brown.
  7. Drain fritters on paper towels.
  8. Serve hot with some chilli sauce.  

Note: 
Typically you will see a prawn on top of the fritters but i prefer to cut them into smaller pieces and mix them into the batter.  If you would like to have a whole prawn on top, at Step 6, press a prawn on top of the fritters before lowering it into the oil.   Here, i only did this for 3 fritters for the sake of taking pictures.    It's your choice :)

One more quirky oats treat...


This was originally a decent loaf of bread that i turned quirky by adding a triangular piece of Toblerone chocolate.   I came across the original recipe at Victoria's of Victoria Bakes, do hop over to her place for some awfully cute bakes.  We like the loaf made according to the original recipe.  One day while picking up some butter to make the loaf, the bar of Toblerone call out to me...why not i thought..since my son had quite a few bars lying around in the fridge. And like they say the rest is history! 

I have made this Toblerone loaf a couple of times already. The result was quite good, apart from making it a little chocolaty, its makes the loaf softer and creamier too.  My son was thrilled to know that the bread had Toblerone in it.  This time around, i lessen some flour and added some oats.  Of course the oats bit was kept a secret from the boy!  


It was good enough eaten with a slice of cheddar cheese :)

Note: 
  1. My variations in blue.
  2. Skip to Step 3 if using breadmaker.
  3. This recipe is a perfect fit for a 450g loaf pan/Pullman tin, just wait until it proofs up to fill the entire tin.
Recipe
Source: Victoria Bakes

Ingredients
  • 250g bread flour (220g bread flour, 30g instant oats) 
  • 38g sugar (30g if Toblerone is added)
  • 25g piece of Toblerone chocolate (I used Crunchy Almond)
  • 2g salt
  • 4g yeast 
  • 135g buttermilk (1 tbsp lemon juice top then top up to 135ml milk and left aside for 5 minutes)
  • 30g butter
  • 30g egg (lightly beaten) (I used 1 small free range egg)
Steps
  1. Mix all dry ingredients and add milk and egg. Knead till you get soft  and pliable dough.
  2. Add in softened butter and knead till dough is soft, elastic but not sticky.
  3. Place all ingredients in the bread pan of the breadmaker (according to the recommended sequence stated in the instruction manual of the breadmaker).  Select Dough function.  
  4. Proof till dough until twice the original size. 
  5. Punch dough down, and divide into 3 equal portions (if using 450g loaf pan) (I used it whole)
  6. Rest dough for 10mins. Roll into a rectangular shape with one side not longer than length of pan/tin that will be used for baking.  Roll up dough like a swiss roll from the shorter side.
  7. Turn dough 90 degrees.  Roll it into a rectangular shape again as in step 6.  Roll up dough like a swiss roll again.  Seal seams and place in pan.
  8. Repeat the process for the other 2 dough if dough was divided into 3 portions.
  9. Proof dough till it is 80-90% filling up the pan
  10. Bake bread on lower rack of oven at 180 degrees C for 40mins
This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up organised by and Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen from My little favourite DIY, hosted by Vivian of Vivian Pang's Kitchen.

Photobucket

Friday, 8 November 2013

Let's Cook Thai - Southern Style Pork Ribs

Some of you might have noticed that I love pork ribs and most of the time i will choose to braise them, easy peasy.   I am lazy like that, easy preparation methods are always my way to go. Braising (if done well) results in very tender and succulent ribs, i love how the ribs end up with a taste that commingles with the braising liquid. Besides, it also provides a nice stew that goes very well with rice, our staple.   

With Asian Food Fest (AFF) blogging event, i have been curious if people from the featured country like pork ribs and how they make (preferably braise) them.  I have been looking out for their recipes and have been successful thus far.  I have done the Japanese style for last month's AFF here and moving on to Thailand for this month.  Hopefully my interest won't die out and will continue along with the AFF journey.  Looking forward to a collection of Asian Pork Ribs recipes!

The name of this dish is Gar Doog Mu Hung Le (Southern Thai Pork Ribs) which like in its name a typical Southern Thailand pork ribs dish.   Not much of a background on the dish?  That's about all i manage to find, my apologies if it is not enough to satisfy :)

So, how did this taste?  In one word, delicious! Very flavorful, just a hint of spiciness (which probably  would have been a lot more if not because i had to tone it down to suit my son), very fragrant from the herbs and a lot of sweetness from the onions.   We loved it although i didn't follow the recipe to a T.  I guess we have to play by ear (a little not too much lest the original flavors disappear with the playing) when trying out recipes from a different culture, some tuning maybe in need to make it to more acceptable for our taste buds.

Like i said earlier on, easy peasy, a 5 steps recipe!

Recipe
Reference: Appon's Thai Food

Ingredients 1 
  • 60 gms Big Dried Red Chillies (1 tbsp prepared dried chili paste)
  • 60 gms Small Red Onion
  • 60 gms Garlic
  • 60 gms Lemon Grass
  • 60 gms Coriander Root (Roots from 2 plants)
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
Ingredients 2 
  • 600-800 gms Pork Ribs
  • 2 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
  • 400 ml Water
  • 4 Tablespoons Oil (omitted)
  • 4 Tablespoons Sugar (2 tbsp)
Steps
  1. Chop all the ingredients from the first list, pound together to form a paste. (I used a blender)
  2. Mix into the second lot of ingredients and leave for 30 minutes. (100ml water of water and left it for 1 hour) 
  3. Put pork into a medium size pot.  Add in remaining water and stir to mix well. Water should be just enough to cover ribs.
  4. Bring the pork and sauce to boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 1-2 hours. Add a little water if it dries out. (Ribs were tender within 1 hour)
  5. For best results, leave it overnight and recook it the following day. (Was good enough for us after 3 hours or so)
Note: 
  1. The recipe above is doubled of the original recipe for my easy reference.  I normally make around 600-650g of pork ribs for 1 meal.
  2. My variations are noted in blue.  
  3. The biggest variation would be the amount of chili which i had to reduce to suit my son's accepted level of spiciness.  If  you have readily prepared chili paste on hand, it would be easier to control the spiciness by starting of with a smaller amount and increasing it to preference at a later stage.


I leave you with some sights around the iconic floating markets of Thailand.  This particular one here is in Bangkok at the Taling Chan District and on the Khlong Chak Phra canal.  One that is much smaller, popular with the locals (i.e. less touristy), personally it is one that is good enough for me to sample a flavor of the floating market.

Scenes along the canal taken during a long tail boat ride

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest (Thailand) - November Month hosted by Lena of Frozen Wings

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Let's Cook Thai - Steamed Snapper with Lime Sauce


Konbu, miso, sake and mirin are making ways for chili, lemongrass, lime and fish sauce in my kitchen this month.   After Japan, Thailand, the land of a thousand smiles is the featured country of the month for Asian Food Fest (AFF) blogging event. Love this event, it's inspiring home cooks to expand their repertoires, turning their humble kitchens into one with an international feel.  Pretty sure, it's not only interesting for the one cooking, family members must be enjoying it too!

It's a tantalizing play of flavours whenever Thai food comes to mind.  A clever combination of sweet, sour, salty and spicy tastes all into one dish.

This dish Plah Kah Pung Neung Manow (Steamed Snapper with Lime Sauce) is no. 23 on CNN Travel's list of 40 Thai Food We Can't Do Without.  Take this list with a pinch of salt but no doubt it's a very popular steamed fish dish in Thailand and it's normally served over a portable furnace of smoking embers in a fish shaped metal serving platter.  If you love that uniquely Thai flavor and steamed fish, i think you will like this.  

On a fish shaped platter no doubt but without smoking embers below it :))

'

A simple dish to make with just a few ingredients. Practically no fuss.  So, if you are bored of steamed fish in soy sauce why not give this a try.

Recipe
Reference: Temple of Thai and Amporn's Thai Kitchen

Ingredients
  • 1 - 1 1/2 lb very fresh whole fish (for example red snapper, trout, perch or bass), cleaned and gutted (red snapper)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (bottom portion only, smashed)
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
  • 1 inch ginger, sliced
  • 8 - 12 cloves (200 grams) garlic, chopped (10 cloves)
  • 10 - 12 Thai chili peppers (prik kee noo), sliced (2 only)
  • 2 - 3 red chili peppers (fresno), sliced (omitted)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro root or 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped cilantro stems (root, stems and leaves from 2 plants)
  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce 
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp white sugar (1 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (or 1/2 cube Knorr Chicken Bouillon mixed with 1/4 cup water) (Water)
  • Banana leaf (optional) or aluminium foil (Aluminium Foil)

Preparation
  1. Cut 3 - 5 diagonal slashes across the fish, about 1 1/2 inches apart on both sides, using a very sharp knife.
  2. Line dish with banana leaf or foil.
  3. Divide lemongrass, ginger and kaffir lime leaves into 2 portions.  Used 1 portion to line steaming dish and stuff the other portion into cavity of the fish.  Place fish on steaming dish.
  4. Bring water to boil over high heat in the bottom of the steamer. Reduce the heat to medium before removing the lid from the steamer, lifting the lid away from you and allowing the steam to dissipate before placing the plated fish onto the top rack of the steamer. Cover and steam for 10 - 12 minutes. If you plan to use the heated platter, undercook the fish somewhat but if you are serving it directly on a plate, then steam until cooked through.
  5. While the fish is steaming, in a bowl mix chopped garlic, chili peppers, cilantro, chicken broth, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Taste to adjust seasoning - the taste should be a balance of spicy, salty and sour. Set aside.
  6. When the fish is cooked to the desired degree, remove the steamer from the heat and transfer the hot fish to a thai style fish shaped serving platter or any serving plate. The fish-shaped platter can be heated with either hot charcoals or more conveniently with a Sterno that can be placed in the lower chamber of the platter.
Bangkok from my eyes to yours...

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest (Thailand) - November Month hosted by Lena of Frozen Wings

Thursday, 31 October 2013

A Hot and Sweet Affair


This has got to be my closest ever gap between 2 posts, I did one yesterday and its another today! No, i have not turned for the better, it's just that when one is late, one rushes!  And it's Asian Food Fest featuring Japan which ends on Nov 1st that i am rushing for.  I thought it would be good to include this since we enjoyed it so much, after all it was the event that motivated it.  In fact i tried out quite a few Japanese dishes this month but didn't manage to post all of them :)

This is not my first time making Japanese curry or Karei as they say in Japanese but before this it was always stored bought instant roux. This prepared from scratch version is so much better, really delicious.  Never again will i buy instant roux!  It just takes a little extra effort.  We had it over 2 meals and it tasted even better on the second day.  My son polished everything clean, that practically says all about how good it is :)

Essentially the recipe came from Nami of Just One Cookbook though I did compare hers with the one from Marc of No Recipes. They are both pretty similar except Marc added tomato sauce and tonkatsu (or Worcestershire) to the roux instead of the dish of which i adapted.  So, thank to Nami and Marc for the recipe! As we more accustomed to spicier curries, i doubled the amount of curry powder and garam masala into the roux.  I would still categorized it as mild in terms of spiciness but that's how Japanese curry is, mildly spiced yet still smells heavenly with a nice hint of sweetness from caramelized onions and apples.  This curry is a sure hit with kids! 

Oh, and allow me to gush a little, i concocted my own garam masala instead of rushing out to buy some!  It's on occasions like these that one goes an extra mile to find out the ingredients in ready mixed seasonings and realized that the ingredients are readily available in the kitchen!   

Japanese Curry is always served with rice hence the name Karei Raisu for this all in one meal.

Recipe
Reference: Nami of Just One Cookbook and Marc of No Recipes 

Ingredients
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (or beef, pork, seafood, tofu, or vegetables) (I used the wings and thighs from 1 medium size free range chicken with bones and skin)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 1-2 potatoes
  • 1/2 Tbsp. ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 QT (4 cups/1000ml) chicken broth (or water if you use store bought curry roux) (I used water)
  • 1 apple (I used Fuji apple)(I used Honey Apple)
  • 1 Tbsp. honey (omitted)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • Homemade Japanese curry roux or 1 box (7 oz, 200g) store bought Japanese curry roux (see recipe below for homemade roux, I used about 3/4 of portion of the prepared roux)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce (omitted)
  • 1 tbsp ketchup (added into roux instead)
Steps
  1. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towel. Discard the extra fat and cut it into bite size pieces. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Peel and cut the carrot in rolling wedges (Rangiri) and cut the onions in wedges. 
  3. Cut the potatoes into 1.5 inch pieces and soak in water for 15 minutes to remove excess starch (I cut them into quarters, then eighths)
  4. Grate the ginger and crush the garlic.
  5. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onions until they become translucent.
  6. Add the ginger and garlic.
  7. Add the chicken and cook until the chicken changes color.
  8. Add the carrot and mix.
  9. Add the chicken broth (or water).
  10. Bring the stock to boil and skim the scrum and fat from the surface of the stock.
  11. Peel the apple and coarsely grate the apples.
  12. Add the honey and salt and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. (I omitted honey, reckon the apple gave enough sweetness)
  13. Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender, and turn off the heat. Meanwhile you can make homemade curry roux.
  14. If you are using homemade curry roux, add a ladleful or two of cooking liquid from the stock and mix into the curry paste. Add more cooking liquid if necessary and mix well until it’s smooth.
  15. Add the roux paste back into the stock in the large pot and stir to combine.
  16. Add soy sauce and ketchup (omitted). Simmer uncovered on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the curry becomes thick.
  17. Serve the curry with Japanese rice.  (I added blanched baby kailan as a side dish)

Recipe-Curry Roux

Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter (40g)
  • 4 Tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder (2 tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp. garam masala (2 tbsp)
  • 1/4 tsp.+ cayenne pepper (1/2 tsp chilli powder)
  • 1 tbsp tomato sauce (from Norecipes.com)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (from Norecipes.com)
Steps
  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat.
  2. When the butter is completely melted, add the flour.
  3. Stir to combine the butter and flour. Soon the butter and flour will fuse and swell.  Do not stop stirring because the roux will easily burn.
  4. After 20-30 minutes, the roux will turn to light brown color. Add the curry powder, garam masala, cayenne pepper and sauce.
  5. Cook and stir for 30 seconds and remove from the heat.

Garam Masala
Source: Allrecipes.com

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 11/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 11/2 tsp ground cardamom (omitted)
  • 11/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (1 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg (1 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp ground cloves  (1 tsp All Spice)
Mix everything together and store in an airtight container.

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest # 1 Oct 2013 : Japan hosted by Alan from Travelling-Foodies 


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Japanese Style Braised Pork Ribs


Most of the Japanese dishes that I have come across make use of the pork belly, a cut that i must agree makes the most delicious dishes.  But it is also one that i rarely buy mainly for health reasons, i have this weird notion of those glorious fats transferring from porky's belly to mine when i eat them!  So, I normally go for the ribs instead.

This braised spare ribs recipe is from a book named The Japanese Kitchen by Hiroko Shimbo.  This dish is known as Supearibu no Nikomi in Japanese.  Supearibu does sound like spare ribs doesn't it? Well, it is!  And Nikomi means stew.

I would describe the taste as something similar to Chinese style barbecued ribs with a tinge of spiciness and less sticky. We had it with rice for dinner but it would do well as a finger food served with some cold beer too.


Recipe
Source: The Japanese Kitchen by Hiroko Shimbo

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork spareribs (400g)
  • 3 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce) (1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon toban jiang (chili-bean sauce)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey (1 tbsp)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (1 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup sake (rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (1 tbsp sugar)
  • 3 tablespoons komezu (rice vinegar) (1 tbsp)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
Steps
  1. Cut the meat into individual ribs.
  2. In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the shoyu, the Worcestershire sauce, the chili-bean sauce, and the honey. Marinate the spareribs in this mixture for 30 minutes. I left if for 1 hour.
  3. Remove the spareribs from the marinade, and discard it.
  4. Heat a medium skillet, and add the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the spareribs. Cook them over medium heat until all sides are brown. Remove the spareribs from the skillet, and set them aside.
  5. Into a medium pot, put the spareribs, sake, sugar, and 1/2 cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil, and cook it over low heat, covered, for 20 minutes.
  6. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons shoyu and the komezu to the pot, and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes, basting the spareribs several times with the cooking liquid. (I let it cook until the sauce was just enough to coat the ribs)
Note: My variations in blue.

And like they say in Japanese, Itadakimasu!

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest # 1 Oct 2013 : Japan hosted by Alan from Travelling-Foodies 

and this post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up organised by Doreen from My little Favourite DIY and Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, hosted by Mich of Piece of Cake at this post
Photobucket

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Noodles for a Rainy Day-Japanese



I am a total novice when it comes to making Japanese cuisine though we love eating them a lot.   And good Japanese food don't come cheap, it's an arm and a leg to me.  Glad that Asian Food Fest Blogging Event picked Japan as one of the featured countries.  I have learned quite a bit from the sharing by fellow bloggers, at the very least, i have learned how to make dashi stock which is an important base for many Japanese dishes :)

I tried my hands at making this simple but satisfying hot pot meal.  Nabeyaki Udon, a one pot meal commonly served in an earthen or cast iron pot  with Udon noodles and a variety of toppings like seafood, chicken and vegetables in hot dashi broth is a popular wintertime. meal.  One can actually choose to add your own favorite toppings.

I made this on a rainy afternoon and it was indeed a heartwarming and comforting meal in the cool weather.  Totally delicious and very glad to have given this a try!



Recipe
Reference: La Fuji Mama (my variations in blue)

Ingredients
  • 6 ounces fresh spinach leaves (obmitted)
  • 6 cups dashi (basic Japanese sea stock-see below for recipe)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal (medium size)
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and cut into 1-inch slices on the diagonal
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (2 free range chicken thighs)
  • 21 ounces fresh udon noodles (3 packs single serving Udon)
  • 5 large eggs (Did only one for son)
  • 5 prawns
  • 1 squid
  • 5 pieces scallop
  • 1 piece tofu, quartered
  • 5 baby corns
  • 6 fresh shitake mushrooms
  • 1 packet 100g bunapi mushroom
Steps
  1. Mix the dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and salt together in a medium size heavy base pot, then stir in the garlic and ginger. Add the sliced carrots and leeks (half the amount), then bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chicken and simmer until just cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add baby corns.
  4. While the soup is simmering, wash and cook udon as per package instructions.  I boiled mine for 2 minutes then rinse with cold water to wash off excess starch.  Drain and set aside.
  5. Add prawns, squid, scallops, tofu and mushrooms.  Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add udon noodles.  Add in remaining leek.
  7. Gently crack egg, one at a time, into the soup. Cover the pot with a lid, and let simmer for 3 minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit to allow the eggs to finish cooking.
  8. Serve while hot.

    Recipe-Dashi (First Sea Stock)
    Reference: La Fuji Mama

    Ingredients
    • 4 cups water (i topped it to 6 cups water since this is the amount needed in the nabeyaki udon recipe)
    • 16-20 square inches kombu
    • 1/2 cup loosely packed bonito flakes
    Steps
    1. Place water and kombu in pot and let kombu soak for 15 minutes.  Place pot over medium heat. 
    2. Right before water starts to boil, remove pot from heat and scatter bonito flakes over the surface of the water.
    3. After 3-4 minutes (bonito flakes will have sunk to the bottom of the pot by this point), strain the stock through a strainer lined with a tightly woven cotton cloth or coffee filter.
    Note: 
      1. You can make Second Sea Stock by boiling 4 cups of water with the kombu and bonito flakes from the first sea stock for another 10 minutes.  Strain and store the stock.
      2. Stock can be stored in a tightly covered container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
      I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest #1 Oct 2013: Japan hosted by Alan from Travelling-foodies 

      Sunday, 13 October 2013

      Learning the Basics-Making Egg Tofu

      Little Thumb Up blogging event continues this month with Soya Beans as the featured ingredient.  I don't make anything with soya beans (to be exact, it's don't know how to) but i do make dishes with soy based products and tofu will be on top of the list in my home.  I thought i would take this opportunity to take a step back and learn how to make some tofu.  Having said that, this is not entirely tofu from scratch since i stopped at making my own soy milk, it' a lot easier to just buy a freshly made 500ml pack for RM1.50 from the wet market :)

      When i told the soy milk seller that i didn't want any sugar syrup in my pack of soy milk he was curious since it was not my norm, a little syrup was my usual way to go.  Sheepishly i told him i wanted to try making tofu because i was afraid that he would laugh at me since tofu is so easily available and cheap. To my surprise he didn't but shared a recipe with me instead.  

      And I have learned that making tofu is pretty simple indeed (this version at least).  The tofu tasted good, definitely better than commercial ones for its freshness, as smooth as commercial ones and it smelt less eggy. 

      The easiest way and best way to eat this is to drizzle some soy sauce and sesame oil with  some garnishing like fried shallot crisps, spring onions the moment it's out from the steamer.  I don't have a photo for this, no time for photos, it's best eaten hot moreover it was dark already, i know my photos wouldn't turn out good anyway.

      And i used the rest to make Salt and Pepper Tofu the next day.   For this dish, it will be easier to handle the tofu after it's left to harden a little in the fridge.  This dish makes a nice appetizer.   


      I have since made this tofu a second time and used some of it in this Ayam Paprik, a Thai influenced Malay dish.  The inspiration came after I was reminded of this dish when I saw it on Rasa Malaysia. This is a very appetizing all in one dish that goes very well with rice.  A spicy stir fried chicken dish with unique flavors coming from shrimp chilli paste and herbs like lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves which infuses the dish with a zesty fragrance.  Here's my take on this dish with homemade egg tofu :)


      Recipe-Egg Tofu
      Ingredients
      • 250ml unsweeten fresh soy milk
      • 3 large eggs
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      Steps
      1. Break eggs into a bowl and use a whisk to mix them up.
      2. Add soy milk and salt.  Mix well and strain.
      3. Prepare a steaming container. I used a Pyrex dish.  I have read recommendations to line the container (especially if you are using aluminium or stainless steel ones) with cling wrap or baking paper to make it easier to remove the tofu when it's ready.  I left this out and didn't face too much of a problem during removal.  The tofu didn't stick to the dish and what i did was to cut it out in small blocks.
      4. Heat up steamer to a rolling boil then lower heat to steam tofu mixture for about 10-12 minutes.  Tofu is ready when the mixture has coagulated.

      Recipe-Salt and Pepper Tofu
      Ingredients
      • Egg tofu from half the amount of tofu prepared in the egg tofu recipe above
      • 3 tbsp corn flour
      • 1 tsp salt
      • 1/2 tsp five spice powder
      • A twist of freshly ground black pepper
      • 1 tsp chilli flakes
      Steps
      1. Cut tofu into 1x 1/2 inch rectangulars.
      2. Season corn flour with salt, black pepper, five spice powder and chilli flakes.
      3. Coat tofu with mixture.
      4. Heat a frying pan with enough oil to cover tofu.
      5. When oil is hot, fry tofu until golden.
      6. Remove and drain on paper towel.
      7. Serve tofu plain or with some chilli sauce.

      Recipe-Ayam Paprik with Egg Tofu
      Reference: Fried Chillies

      Ingredients
      • Egg tofu from half the amount of tofu prepared in the egg tofu recipe above
      • 1 chicken breast, sliced into small pieces
      • 3 baby corns, sliced or leave whole if preferred
      • 1/2 medium size carrot, sliced
      • A handful of baby french beans, cut into 2 inch long pieces 
      • 1/4 of a small cabbage, cut into smaller pieces
      • 3 cloves garlic, minced
      • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
      • 3 tbsp shrimp chilli paste
      • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
      • 1 tsp sweet soy sauce
      • 1 lemongrass, bruised
      • 4 kaffir lime leaves, bruised
      • 1/4 cup water
      • 1 tsp sugar
      • 1 tsp salt
      • 1 tsp pepper
      Steps
      1. Cut tofu in roughly 1 inch cubes.  Toss into some corn flour.
      2. Heat a frying pan with enough oil to cover tofu cubes.
      3. When oil is hot, fry tofu cubes until golden.
      4. Remove and drain on paper towel.
      5. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok.  When oil is hot, stir fry chicken until almost cook.
      6. With the same wok, add in garlic, shallots, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves.  Fry until fragrant.
      7. Add in shrimp paste and oyster sauce. Mix well.
      8. Add in vegetables, stir fry for 2-3 minutes, then add in chicken.
      9. Add in water from the side of wok.
      10. Mix in tofu cubes.
      11. Season with salt, pepper and sugar.
      12. Stir fry until vegetables are cook.
      13. Dish up and serve with warm rice.

      This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up organised by Doreen from My little favourite DIY and Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, hosted by Mich of Piece of Cake at this post.

      Photobucket

      Tuesday, 8 October 2013

      When Mum Felt Guilty...


      My son love Pizzas, i think most kids do, don't they?  It has been awhile since we last had homemade ones and i blame Mr. D for that.  He was always late when delivering our pizzas.  We ended up having Free Pizza vouchers one after another.  Sometimes, i wonder if it is just a gimmick.  Boy was i glad when he arrived early one day, no more excuse for son to ask for Mr. D's pizzas :)

      And since we have not had pizzas for awhile (so long that i can't remember which recipe i used for the crust), i thought i would surprise him with one to make him happy and to motivate him as he was having his year end exams.  When he got home, he was so happy when he knew it was pizza that was baking in the oven.   "Is it done yet, is it done yet, is it done yet....?", that was what all that i heard for awhile.

      When i gave him  this, he looked at me and i read this on his face "ok, this doesn't look like the one i have in mind  but i will eat it since mum made them".  I love this boy for how he would willingly try out anything that i make and how he's not too fussy about food.  But i had a feeling it was not going to be easy this time and true enough, this is what i got from him after awhile "mum, can i remove the toppings, i don't like the avocados and the mangoes, they taste weird with the pizza...."  But i tested my luck and pushed on "No, they are good for you and it's not good to waste food" and guess what he finished it although i knew he wasn't too happy about it  (Wicked smile on mum's face!)

      On the other hand, I quite like it though, i thought it complemented the taste of the cajun chicken pretty well. Spicy chicken with a creamy, sweet and tangy topping. And i love the bread too, i made it herby by doubling the amount of Italian herbs in it, you will notice it if you look closely.  One man's meat is another poison, i guess.  I also got a 'Ewww' from someone just by telling her about it, she didn't taste it though.  

      Meat or poison, you decide...


      After the victory (of successfully 'forcing' my son to finish cajun pizza as it is) sank in,  it hit a soft spot. I wondered if i had been mean for dashing his hopes when the whole intention of making pizza was to make him happy but instead of making his favorite flavor i used it as an opportunity to try something new which i knew he would not be receptive to.

      So, the guilty mum made it up to him the day after by making what he claimed to be a 'real' pizza this time!  Glad to put him  back on cloud nine with his favorite Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Pizza!



      Recipe

      For Pizza Base
      Adapted from:  Baking Diary (Jeannie) who adapted from Her Frozen Wings (Lena) 

      Ingredients
      • 110gm plain flour (I reduced it to 100 to get a thinner crust for Hawaiian Pizza)
      • 1 tsp yeast
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 1 tsp italian herbs (Original recipe used 1/2 tsp)
      • 1tbsp of olive oil 
      • 5 tbsp water  (adjust accordingly to hydrate the dough to produce a soft dough)
      Steps
      1. Mix all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Make a well for adding in water and oil mixture.
      2. Mix oil with water then add it into the dry mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir to form a moist but unsticky dough and transfer to a floured surface.  Once dough is roughly formed, pour onto the counter table and knead until a smooth dough is formed. Leave it covered for 40 minutes to proof.  The dough should be soft and easily stretchable after proofing.
      3. Flatten the dough with a rolling pin into a pizza pan (i used a 8 inch).  

      Cajun Chicken Pizza
      Adapted from : taste.com.au

      Ingredients
        • 1 chicken thighs (skinned, deboned and cubed)
        • 2 tbsp cajun seasoning
        • 1 medium size mango (skinned and cubed)
        • 1 avocado (skinned and cubed)
        • 1 tbsp olive oil
        • 1 tbsp lemon juice
        • 150g coarsely grated mozzarella
        • Romaine lettuce (or baby rocket leaves) to serve
        Steps
        1. Combine chicken with cajun seasoning.  Set aside for 30 minutes.
        2. Heat oil in a shallow frying pan. 
        3. Add in chicken, stirring occasionally until chicken is cook and lightly brown (it will further cook in the oven).
        4. Sprinkle prepared pizza base with half the amount of mozarella followed by chicken and finish off with the remaining mozarella.
        5. Baked at 200C for 20 minutes.
        6. While pizza is baking, combine mango and avocado with lemon juice.
        7. When pizza is ready, top it with mango salsa and vegetables before serving.

        Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Pizza

        Ingredients
        • 1 chicken thigh (skinned, deboned and cubed)
        • 2 tbsp of teriyaki sauce
        • 1 tsp brown sugar
        • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
        • 1 tsp vinaigrette 
        • 2 chicken sausages (thinly sliced)
        • 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce (I used Prego's spaghetti sauce Traditional flavour)
        • 1 small can of pineapple cubes (I used Ayam brand 280g)
        • 150g coarsely grated mozzarella
        Steps
        1. I made a simple bbq sauce by combining teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce and vinaigrette.  You can use store bought ones or use your own recipe.
        2. Season chicken with a dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Mix in bbq sauce and leave it to marinade for 15 minutes.
        3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a shallow frying pan.  
        4. Add in chicken, stirring occasionally until chicken is cook and lightly brown (it will further cook in the oven).
        5. Spread tomato sauce on prepared pizza base.  
        6. Sprinkle half the amount of mozarella followed by chicken, sausages and pineapple cubes.  Finish off  by topping the pizza with the remaining mozarella.
        7. Baked at 200C for 20 minutes.

        Share

        Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More