Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


It is the time of the year again when many of us would sit down and look back at the past 12 months. Personally I get all emotional around now especially since it has been an annual horribilis for me. I would normally write down my thoughts and keep it in my little black box but I am going to do it differently this year.
I received a call from Small M this afternoon, trying to convince me to join him at his family's Christmas lunch but sadly I had to decline (the 4th invitation from different friends) due to the injury on my right hand and bruises on my face. He was a little disappointed but said this to me before hanging up"I am so grateful to have you in my life!", it has to be the sweetest thing I have heard for a very long time!
I decided I should write down a list of what I'm most grateful for and here's the list;
  • For having a loving family despite them being thousands of miles away from me.
  • For living and sharing my life with the closest person in my life despite not knowing if that is going to end soon.
  • For having some of my closest friends that still love me to pieces despite me being half as fabulous as  before.
  • For showing compassion and kindness to someone I barely knew despite all the goodwill was being taken for granted.
  • For not ended up with a disfigured face despite having the large scar inside my mouth that will forever remind me of that ugly incident.
  • For being able to cook something from my childhood when I'm feeling homesick despite that often make me even more homesick.
  • For starting this blog despite getting very lukewarm reactions from most people I mentioned the idea to.
  • For meeting wonderful new friends and like minded people through this blog despite we might never meet in person.
  • For lucky enough to be able to speak a few languages despite not having too many opportunities to do so in Melbourne.
  • For being surrounded by beautiful art works and furniture that we bought throughout the years despite there might not be any new addition to that in the very near future.
  • For having relatively good health despite how badly I treated my poor body before.
  • For having so much beauty around me despite the recent not so beautiful events that happened.
  • And finally for understanding the meaning of GRATITUDE!

    Tuesday, December 22, 2009

    Lemongrass And Chili Chicken, Ga Xao Xa Ot

    Another Vietnamese restaurant favourite that I have never attempted at home before. Thanks to the recently aired Luke Nguyen's Vietnam on SBS television, I realised we can actually make it better and tastier than what we have been getting at our local Vietnamese place. Once I had decided on "Shaking Beef", which I posted yesterday, another simple to prepare vietnamese dish with some delicious sauce for the rice is needed, lemongrass chicken became the very obvious choice for me.
    I lightly browned the chicken pieces first as our not very powerful gas burner would not have given me the caramelised flavour so desired in the dish, so if you have a turbo burner skip this part :) Do use boned or skinned chicken, but I personally prefer meat on the bones.
    P.S the recipe is adapted from the above mentioned TV show.

    Serves 4 as part of a Vietnamese meal;
    you'll need;
    2 chicken marylands, cut into manageble pieces, marinated and seared
    1/2 onion, cut into chunks
    3 spring onions, cut into 2" length
    3 tbs of chopped lemongrass (I used my standby frozen type)
    1/2 cup coconut water or chicken stock
    extra chilies for garnish

    for the marinate;
    4 bird chilies, pounded
    1 tbs chopped garlic
    1 tbs chooped lemongrass
    1 tbs of light soy
    1/2 tbs of fish sauce
    1/2 tsp of corn flour
    salt and pepper

    Some of the ingredients for the dish.

    Brown the chicken in batches, keeping the marinate.

    In a hot wok, saute garlic, shallots and lemongrass til fragrant, return chicken pieces and marinate and fry for 5 minutes. Pour in the coconut water or stock, bring it to a boil, add spring onions, onions and cook for another minute.

    Serve warm with plenty of steamed rice of course.

    Monday, December 21, 2009

    Shaking Beef, Thit Bo Luc Lac

    Another day of complete mental block on what I should be cooking for dinner. It was a 40 degrees C day and shopping for food was the last thing on my mind. I found some beef in the freezer and thought I should really give my favourite Vietnamese restaurant dish a try. Going through my little black book, I found the recipe I wrote down a while back and the result was more than satisfactory! I'll certainly be making this again soon. For non beef eaters like my Hindu friends, pork is equally delicious with the same treatment!

    Serves 4 as part of a Vietnamese meal;
    you need;
    500 g of beef filet or rump, cubed
    3 cloves of garlic, chopped
    2 tsp light soy
    1 tsp dark soy
    2 tbs oyster sauce
    1 tsp fish sauce
    2 tbs sugar
    1.5 tsp black pepper, crushed
    Marinate beef with the rest of the ingredients for at least an hour

    In a hot pan with a little oil, sear the beef for 2 minutes, shake the pan and sear the other side, remove.

    Serve it on a bed of shredded carrot and lettuce lightly tossed with some rice vinegar. We had it with lemongrass chicken and plenty of steamed rice.

    Sunday, December 20, 2009

    Twice Cooked Pork Belly With Miso Sauce For Takeshi

    After a lovely Sunday lunch in the neighbourhood, I strolled down to the local supermarket with one of the tummies. I emptied the discounted pork belly on the selves without having the slightest clue what I was going to do with them. I have heard about a braised pork belly dish with miso that a few of my friends rave about every so often, I decided I was going to give it a try. My goal was to create a dish with whatever ingredients I had on hand and the result was better than I had hoped for. I did not follow any recipe as such but I think being a big fan of the iron chef has certainly pay off!
    P.S this is perfect for all my friends and readers in countries now affected by the snow storms, especially for Takeshi M.

    Serves 4 as a one meal dish with rice;
    you'll need;
    1 kg of pork belly, blanched and refreshed
    4 hard boiled eggs
    4 tbs of miso paste
    3 tbs of sugar
    2 tbs of Japanese soy
    1/2 cup of mirin
    1/2 cup of cooking sake
    salt and pepper to taste
    I large know of ginger, sliced
    2 cups of water

    you'll also need;
    cook Japanese rice
    sesame seeds
    pickled ginger
    pickle radish

    Blanch pork and clean up impurities.

    Place everything in a heavy bottom pot and simmer for 2 hours.

    Remove pork from the broth, get rid of excess oil from the broth and add in the hard boiled eggs.

    Bbq pork belly pieces til brown on both sides.

    Place some Japanese rice in a bowl; top with some sliced carrot and lettuce, halved eggs, pork belly and some thicken miso broth over. Add some pickled ginger and radish, not to forget the toasted sesame seeds.

    The pork is so tender it melts in your mouth, the bbq stage gives it a wonderful colour and smokey flavour too :

    Saturday, December 19, 2009

    Fried Fish With Flowering Chives 韮菜花炒魚片

    Flowering chives must be in season now. I keep seeing them everywhere and the price is very agreeable at the moment too. This is something that I grew up with, often spring onions are used when flowering chives are not available. A very simple dish that really relies on the quality of everything you are using including the oyster sauce, I personally prefer Lee Kum Kee classic.(a little pricier but worth every cent of it) This is definitely one of the less is more dish! So don't attempt to add more things to it.
    P.S I served this together with prawns in tomato sauce and braised soy and star anise pork a week ago.

    serves 4 as part of a Chinese meal;
    you'll need;
    500g of snapper fillet or any white firm flesh fish, sliced and marinated with dash of soy, dash of sesame oil, white pepper and Chinese wine for 5 minutes.Coated with corn flour just before frying.
    1 bunch of flowering chives, cut into 3" length
    1 knob of ginger, sliced thinly
    1 tbs of cooking oil
    3 tbs of oyster sauce
    dash of light soy
    dash of white pepper
    dash of sesame oil
    1/2 cup of water
    a little cornstarch solution

    Fry sliced fish briefly, this prevents the fish from breaking down during the stir frying process.

    Fry ginger with cooking oil and dash of sesame oil til fragrant, add in the flowering chives. Fry on high heat for 30 seconds.

    Return the fish to the wok, warm through, add the rest of the ingredients and thicken very slightly with cornstarch solution.

    Serves hot as for of a Chinese meal.

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    Prawns In Tomato Sauce 乾煎蝦碌

    This is my favourite dish and happened to be my late father's as well; as a child traveling with him on a day trip to Ipoh,  he would always stopped at a Chinese eating place on our way back to Cameron Highlands and ordered this dish for me. Back home we prefer the local fresh water prawns which have the sweetest and firmest flesh, not unlike those of the scampis. We don't normally have such large prawns due to the budget restrain but since our dear friend H was visiting, I thought we ought to make it a little special. (it was also a small celebration for the 100th post of this blog)
    Do leave the shells on as it looks and tastes better this way, just have a finger bowl ready for cleaning your fingers. I have been promised a lobster's tail and I can't wait to cook it the same way! :)
    P.S this is a rather dry dish, if you prefer a more saucy dish simple double the sauce ingredients and thicken it with a little corn starch solution.

    Serves 4 as part of a Chinese meal;
    you'll need;
    8 large prawns, veins removed, fried with a little oil til golden brown, set aside
    knob of ginger, chopped
    3 cloves of garlic, chopped
    2 bird chillies, chopped
    3 tbs of tomato ketchup
    2 tbs of sugar
    dash of light soy
    dash of Chinese black vinegar
    1/2 cup of water
    salt and white pepper to taste
    3 spring onions, cut into 2.5" length

    Have everything nearby while heating up the wok.

    Fry chopped garlic, ginger and chillies with a little oil for a minute. Add ketchup, seasonings and water.

    When the sauce turns a little syrupy, return the prawns and add the spring onions. Heat through.

    Serve as part of a Chinese meal. We had it with stir fried flowering chives and snapper and braised soy pork. Plenty of rice of course!

    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Citrus Chicken Ribs 柑橘雞排

    If there is one Chinese dish that needs an urgent makeover, it has to be lemon chicken! Unlike the lemon chicken we have at home which is basically fried chicken with a thin lemon glaze, restaurants all over the world are serving different versions of chicken in a thick batter covered with a thick gluggy yellow sauce. I decided to make a citrus sauce instead and the result was more than satisfactory.
    Ask for chicken spareribs next time you are at an Asian butcher; the meat is the most juicy and tender cut of the chicken, otherwise use wings or maryland.
    P.S there will be a makeover for black bean beef and sweet and sour pork too, so stay tuned!

    Serves 4 as part of a Chinese meal;
    you'll need;
    1 kg of chicken ribs or wings, cut into manageable pieces.
    oil for frying
    spring onion as garnish
    3 thin slices of each citrus

    for the chicken marinate;
    1 egg
    2 tbs of corn flour
    2 tbs of Chinese cooking wine
    2 tbs of light soy
    2 tbs of oyster sauce
    1 tbs of grated ginger
    dash of white pepper

    for the sauce;
    2 tbs of lime juice
    2 tbs of lemon juice (use 6 tbs of lemon juice for lemon chicken)
    2 tbs of orange juice
    4 to 6 tbs of sugar
    12 tbs of water or chicken stock
    2 tsp of corn flour

    Remove excess fat from the chicken ribs, see how the skin without the layer of fat is kept. Keep the fat as I'll be showing you how to render chicken fat

    Marinate chicken overnight or at least 2 hours.

    Add sweet potato flour and mix well just before frying.

    Fry chicken pieces til golden brown. drain well.

    Heat the sauce in a pan til syrupy and add in the chicken to coat.

    Serve as part of a Chinese meal or it is wonderful as a beer snack!

    Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    Braised Pork Knuckle With Chinese Black Vinegar 酸辣豬腳醋

    If there is one dish that can transport me back home, this has to be it!! This is my ultimate comfort food; the wonderful aroma that one could smell from miles away, the sweet, sour and hot sticky sauce and meltingly tender meat, not to forget the garlic gloves so sweet and tender after the long braising.
    There are many versions of pork knuckles braised with black vinegar and I'm always partial to one that I grew up with of course :). Very few ingredients are needed and very little work has to be done too, you basically put everything in a pot cover it and leave it for a few hours and you'll have the most beautiful dish for lunch or dinner.  All you need is a side dish of stir fry Asian greens and plenty of steamed rice to go with it.
    I am using mainly leg meat here as the other tummies are not big fans of pork skin; but I always add some knuckles in since I love the wonderful soft and gelatinous texture of the skin after the long cooking,  and it adds that sticky consistency to the sauce which every good stew should possess!
    P.S don't be alarmed by the amount of garlic used, they will turn into pockets of sweet garlic puree!!

    serves 6 as part of a Chinese meal;
    you'll need;
    1 kg pork knuckle meat  and 1 knuckle, cut into 4 pieces  (or use 4 knuckles cut into 4 pieces each)
    3 bulbs of garlic, separated
    12 dried chilies, soaked and seeded
    1/2 cup of Chinkiang black vinegar
    1/2 cup of light soy
    1/4 cup of Chinese dark caramel sauce
    3/4 cup of rock sugar
    3 tbs of cooking oil
    water or stock

    dark caramel sauce

    Blanch pork pieces

    In a heavy bottom pot, saute garlic and dried chilies til lightly brown.

    Add in pork pieces and fry for 5 minutes, seasoning can be added by this stage.

    Add enough water to cover the pork pieces and simmer for 3 hours.

    After 3 hours, the meat should be very tender, the sauce thick and sticky. Remove the layer of fat from the sauce if you wish.

    Serve it with plenty of steamed rice and just a simple Asian greens.

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    Gajar Matar, Spiced Carrot And Peas

    This is another vegetarian dish I cooked for our Indian meals last week. It is a very easy to prepare dish but so delicious even harden meat eater will be satisfied. Double the quantity as it has proven to be very popular in the tummies' household.
    P.S I served this with Kheema matar, puri, papadum and a cucumber and tomato raita.

    serves 4 as part of an Indian meal;
    you'll need;
    250g of cubed carrot
    250g of peas
    2 tsp of cumin seeds
    1/2 tsp of chili powder
    1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
    1 tbs of cumin powder
    1 tbs of coriander powder
    1/2 tbs of garam masala

    for the spice paste;
    1 small onion
    2 cloves of garlic
    small knob of ginger
    3 green chilies
    Blend everything for a course paste

    Fry cumin seeds til they pop follow by the spice paste, fry til brown and add carrot, continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add the dry spices and cook for a further minute.

    Chuck in the peas and 2 tbs of water and fry til most of the water evaporates, check for seasonings.

    Serve as part of an Indian meal.

    press me

    3 hungry tummies

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    melbourne, victoria, Australia