Saturday, October 31, 2009

Khao Klub Gapi ข้าวคลุกกะปิ Rice With Shrimp Paste

A few of my friends have been asking me to start posting Thai recipes and after cooking a lot of food that I didn't grew up with, I thought it might be time to present the aroy maak maak series of Thai food on this blog. This is one of those dishes that you have to grow up with or it might be a little too overwhelming for the first time. It's a stunning looking dish and one of the thai dishes that need to be tasted at least once in your lifetime. The tummies couldn't quite get it but I love it!! They got to taste it once and I felt completely nourished.
There are a fair bit of cutting but next to no cooking at all,.it's salty, sweet, sour, crunchy, spicy and very healthy. You may increase the amount of garlic and decrease the amount of shrimp paste if you are cooking for the first time.
P.S I cooked the rice on my bbq as the aromas of the shrimp paste could linger for days.

serves 4
for the garnish you'll need;
1 green mango, shredded
3 eggs, made into thin omelet, thinly sliced
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of dried shrimp, fried till crispy
lime wedges
10 long beans, thinly sliced
2 lebanese cucumbers, sliced
4 bird chilies, sliced

for the rice you'll need:
4 cups of cold rice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
a small piece of shrimp paste (wrapped in foil, toasted and crushed)

Everything is cut and sliced, now prepare the rice..

Fry garlic and shrimp paste with some oil...

Add rice and stir fry til  every grain of rice is coated with the garlic and shrimp paste mixture..

Arrange garnishes prettily around the moulded rice...

Completely destroy the prettiness and enjoy the fishiness !!!

Muu wan หมูหวาน Sweet Pork

Muu wan or sweet pork is a all time favourite of my late grandfather. There was always a bowl a of this sweet, salty and sticky pork on the dining table. There is something irresistable about the combination of fish sauce and palm sugar. Try to make a bigger batch as you'll find out how delicious this really is. I made this using memories and it tasted just like I remember :)

serves 4 as a side dish
you'll need;
500g of pork belly or pork neck, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped (optional)
2 tbs of sweet soy
3 tbs of fish sauce
5 tbs of palm sugar

Fry garlic with some oil follow by the pork slices...

Add soy, fish sauce and palm sugar and stir to mix well...

Fry til sticky and glossy...

Serve this as part of your thai meal and it's a must have if you are making khao klup gapi (shrimp paste  rice)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Beef Wrapped In Wild Betel Leaves, Bo Nuong La Lot

Something that I have always wanted to make but somehow always managed to talk myself out of it. After having cooked Vietnamese for the last few days, I thought it really must be time for me to try some thing new and yes I did!!! Not one but two new dishes for the first time and the result is just fabulous! I would have given myself a medal if my hands were not too greasy during the meal .
If you are like me, tired of yet another grilled dish that are deep fried, take matters into your own hands. They are actually really simple to make but the only problem is you'll never order this in a restaurant again!! The other dish I made to serve together with this dish is Vietnamese sizzling pancake.
Sadly the wild betel leaves (la lot in Vietnamese) are not as common as doggy drug dealers roaming this strip famous for it's asian grocers and Vietnamese restaurants that all have this dish on their menu . I managed to find some in one of the bigger shop for $3/bunch, not bad at all!!
P.S I also managed to test drive the Japanese stovetop grill that I got yesterday and it's just FABULOUS !!!

makes 20
you'll need;
500g of minced beef
1 onion and 3 cloves of garlic, chopped and saute
6 tbs roasted peanut, chopped
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
5 tbs minced lemongrass
4 tsp of sugar
4 tsp of fish sauce
10 bamboo skewers, soaked
lettuce and herbs
20 lalot leaves

Mix everything very well (except the herbs and lettuce of course)

Have the meat mixture, lalot leaves and bamboo skewers ready...

With the leaf gloss side down, place a small amount of meat paste on the leaf...

Roll it up tightly, set aside with the seam side down. Repeat with the rest....

Use 2 skewers to thread 4 rolls, repeat with the rest...

Grill the rolls till cooked, being careful not to burn them...(I moved them outside as it was becoming too smokey :p)

Served here with lettuce, mixed herbs and Vietnamese dipping sauce . Boy, that was good!!!

Vietnamese Sizzling Pancake, Bahn Xeo

I had this for the first time in Saigon many years ago, but only managed to find a place in Melbourne that makes a really good one recently. Often they are either too soggy or are soaking in oil, but when they are done correctly; they are light and crispy and you just want to have the whole thing by yourself.
I've had this recipe from a friend for a while now but have never even thought of making this at home, until I borrowed my friend M's heavy cast iron hot plate. It's the right size and it gets really hot and retains the heat very well (this resulting in a really crispy pancake). We had this with the beef wrapped in wild betel leaves and I have to say this is a really mean pancake coming from a first timer. So please give it a try, it takes minutes to prepare and the result is PURE JOY!!! The tummies were more than impressed of course :)
P.S I served this together with beef wrapped in wild betel leaves , check it out!

makes 2
for the batter you'll need;
rice flour
turmeric powder
coconut milk
spring onions, chopped

for the filling you'll need;
6 large tiger prawns, peeled and halved
100g of pork neck, thinly sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 cup of cooked mung bean
3 cups of bean sprouts

you'll also need;
lettuce and lots of fresh herbs

First put all the batter ingredients in a bowl and mix well...

Heat up a hot pan, fry half the onions, pork pieces and prawns til slightly brown...

Add batter, distribute evenly and thinly and fry for 2 minutes. Put in bean sprouts, cover the pan and cook for 2 more minutes...

Remove the cover and fry for another few minutes, be careful not to burn the pancake. When the pancake is crispy enough, fold it into half...

Not bad for a first timer :) woo hoo!!!

Serve it hot with lots of fresh herbs and lettuce and Vietnamese dipping sauce of course.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bun Noodles With Grilled Chicken And Lots Of Herbs

This has been our favourite dish in the hotter months for quite a few years now. We used to call up our local Vietnamese restaurant, place the order and pick them up afterwards whenever cooking was too much of a chaos in out heated up kitchen. As convenient as it might be, the result was always less than satisfactory (really how hard is it to get this right???). The grilled chicken was forever deep fried, the noodle was always too wet and you'll be lucky if you get more than one type of herb in it. Yet another fairly warm day in Melbourne and since I still have some herbs left over from out Vietnamese bbq, I thought this might be the perfect dish for dinner tonight. This is a no brainer, once you have got your dipping sauce right it's all about getting the freshest herbs you can lay your hands on. You may also change the toppings to bbq pork, stir fried beef, beef wrapped in wild betel leaves or sugarcane prawns.
P.S make sure you cook the noodle at least 30 minutes before dinner time as it needs to be completely dry before plated, otherwise the sauce won't stick to it.

serves 4
you'll need;
1/2 cup of Vietnamese mint, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of mint, roughly chopped
1/2 of purple perilla, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of coriander, roughly chopped
1 cup of shredded lettuce
1 cup of bean sprouts
1/4 of a cup of toasted peanut, roughly chopped
5 pieces of rice vermicelli, cooked, rinsed with cold water and drained
sliced chilies
3 chicken maryland, boned, skin on (marinated with dash of soy, dash of fish sauce, 1/2 tbs of 5spice powder, grated ginger, grated garlic and dash of cooking oil)

Mix herbs, shredded lettuce, cucumber slices and bean sprouts in a bowl and set aside.

Cook marinated chicken on the bbq for 10 minutes each side, skin side up first. (I used medium flame and closed the hood) Once cooked set aside and rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting.

Place some noodle in a bowl follow by the herbs and vegetable mixed....

Add sliced chicken(pork chop or beef wrapped in wild betel leaves) and top with some roasted peanuts and sliced chilies, pour the Vietnamese dipping sauce over...

Mix well and enjoy!! :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

KL Hokkien Noodles 福建炒麵

Whenever I am feeling down, I either eat nothing at all or choose to cook something that reminds me of my childhood and there was no exception tonight. Although not really something that we cooked at home but rather a dish that I must have every time I am in Kuala Lumpur. (the famed Kim Lian Kee of course!)

It might look like a rather boring and unremarkable noodle dish, but there is no looking back once you have tasted it. The star ingredients in this dish are of course the lard and the crispy bits from rendering the lard (click HERE on how to render pork fat). I used some pork belly instead which has enough fat - the crispy pork belly is even tastier!

Give this dish a miss if you are not comfortable with lard being used. Only 4 tbs of fat was used in my version and that's less than your average animal fat in a serve of bangers and mash!
Another very important ingredient is the dark caramel sauce that gives this dish the rich brown glossy look. Can you spot the liquid gold in the middle?

P.S I can't really get the thicker noodle traditionally used, but Hokkien noodle is quite a good substitute til I get a pasta machine! hint! hint!

serves 3
you'll need;
800g of hokkien noodle, blanched and drained
1/4 of cabbage, roughly chopped
200g of prawn meat
200g of pork fillet, thinly sliced and marinated with some salt and pepper
250g of pork belly, cut into small pieces and rendered
1.5 tbs of oyster sauce
3 tbs of light soy
5 tbs of dark caramel sauce
1 cups of chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

for the sambal belacan;
3 red chilies
3 to 5 bird chilies
1 tbs of toasted belacan* (shrimp paste)
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of sugar
juice of one lime
Blend everything in a blender and check for seasonings.
*to toast the shrimp paste - wrap shrimp paste in foil and place in a pre-heated oven for 10 minutes

Saute garlic then add in prawns and pork with a little lard in a hot wok.

Cook cabbage til wilted and add stock. Remove pork and prawns and set aside.

Add noodles and seasoning, mix well and simmer til noodle is tender.

Tip in the rest of the lard and some crispy pork, give it a really good stir. Simmer til sauce thicken, noodles will turn darker too. This is worth the extra 10 minutes in the gym :)

Serve immediately with extra crunchy cracklings and sambal belacan on the side...mmmmm

The double storey Restoran Kim Lian Kee (金蓮記) was once a humble little tin roofed noodle shop the famed noodle dish was an invention of the founder many years ago.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jajangmyeon 자장면 Korean Noodles With Black Bean Sauce

I invited my old friends P and D over for lunch on Saturday. I have been actively avoiding them since their return from Mexico during the height of the swine flu pandemic, so to dispel any suspicion I cooked something with pork of course and hugged them a little longer than I normally would. I think it worked!!!  It was a a nice afternoon in the sun, catching up and making fun of everything under the sun. Thanks guys!!
Jajangmyeon is a Korean version of  Ja jiang mein 炸醬麵, modified to it's current form by Chinese immigrants around a century ago in the city of Incheon. It tastes nothing like the ja jiang mein that I know but I don't really mind it, perhaps I just love any noodle dish that is covered in thick black sauce!!  If you are a big fan of black bean sauce, you will love this!
P.S I will post the original version of Ja jiang mein in a few days time :)

serves 6
you'll need;
2 carrot, peeled and diced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
500g of pork fillet, dice (marinated with soy, sesame oil, grated ginger and garlic and corn flour)
8tbs of chungjang 
1kg of fresh Shanghai noodle

Dice everything and start cooking..

Fry chungjang with 2tbs of oil til fragrant, takes 5 minutes. Leave it aside...

Fry pork til lightly brown and add the rest of the vegetable and continue to fry for 5 minutes...

Add pork and vegetable mixture into the prepared sauce earlier and fry for 5 to 10 minutes. Add water and simmer til vegetable is tender.

Meanwhile prepare noodle according to instructions on the packaging, divide noodle into warm bowls and pour sauce over. Garnish with sliced cucumber, omelet and spring onions.

Mix it and slurp it all up!!!

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3 hungry tummies

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melbourne, victoria, Australia