Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Mid Autumn Festival

It is the 15th day of the 8th month according to the Lunar calendar and millions will be celebrating the mid autumn festival, better known as the lantern or moon cake festival in the west today.

We at the tummies' are going to have a nice dinner at home; hopefully there will be clear sky so we can finish off the meal with some moon cakes under the bright full moon.

If you commute along Nicholson Street (Fitzroy end) you might have seen this giant goldfish lantern hanging in front of a nondescript terrace house. This creative household has been putting up colourful and quirky displays during Christmas, Chinese New Year, Valentine's day, Easter and mid autumn festival for the past 2 years. We would like to thank them for lightening up the mood and brightening up the rather dull corner in our neighbourhood all year round!  Well done guys! Perhaps a Diwali display next?

We would like to wish everyone a safe and happy mid autumn festival! 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Meatball And Spiced Tomato Relish Sub

If you are indeed having a grand final party today (or one for rugby union on Sunday) and are planning to make some cheese filled meatballs as suggested, I hope you are making a very large batch. They will be very popular and the chances are you might want to nibble on them once everyone has left the party. The other likely scenario is you waking up with a massive hangover and searching for food in a ..... mmmmm very messy kitchen!

In either case an easy and satisfying meal such as this delicious meatball sub is essential to give you the will to live through the day and the energy to clean up the mess left behind by your mates.

It can of course be enjoyed in a pristine environment without a hangover.... better still on a picnic rug in the nearest park if the weather permits!

P.S more recipes using the meatballs and spiced tomato relish are coming up so please stay tuned.

recipe from the tummies' kitchen
recipe per serve
you'll need;
1 mini baguette*
3 mozzarella filled meatballs, reheated in the microwave
a small handful of salad leaves
2 heaped tbs of spiced tomato relish
grated parmesan cheese
*I usually get mine freshly baked from my local Vietnamese bakery.

Make a cut lengthwise leaving the baguette attached, place some mix leaves into the cavity, follow by meatballs, spiced tomato relish and grate some parmesan cheese over. The whole exercise will only take less than 5 minutes.

This is equally delicious eaten sober, half drunk or with a nasty hangover!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mozzarella Filled Meatballs

As promised, a quick post on what I did with the leftover seasoned mince from my spiced meatballs, chickpeas and vegetables soup..... It also gives me an excellent opportunity to further promote my spiced tomato relish.

This is a not only a fun item to serve at your next cocktail party (or your kid's birthday party?), it is also a quick way to whip up something delicious when your friend turns up with some cold beers on a sunny afternoon. 

I happened to have some mozzarella in my fridge (not quite the artisan type I'm afraid or there simply won't be any leftover in the first place) and thought it might be a good idea to make a stuffing out of it. A good idea it was and I had to make a second (larger) batch soon after, which was duly enjoyed in the warm spring sun with my beer bearing friend K.

I just remember both the footy and rugby union grand finals are to be staged this weekend. The traditional Aussie BBQ is out according the weather forecast, so why not have an indoor party with plenty of delicious finger food instead? Apart from these meatballs which are going to be a big hit with your friends, here are a few more suggestions if you are going to have a party;

recipe from the tummies' kitchen
makes about 15
oven preheated at 220 C (conventional)
you'll need;
~1.5 cups seasoned mince
mozzarella cheese or tasty cheese, cut into 1 cm cubes
a little oil for frying

Pick up a small amount of seasoned mince and form meatball the size slightly larger than a chestnut, wrap the mince around a cube of cheese.

Brown meatballs with a little oil until golden all over, transfer pan to the hot oven and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve the delicious cheese filled meatballs with some spiced tomato relish on the side.

The spiced tomato relish goes beautifully with the cheese filled meatballs...

Try not to tell your friends about the filling and allow them to discover the pleasant surprise themselves.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sweet Potato In Pandan And Ginger Flavoured Syrup 蕃薯糖水 - "Malaysian Monday 90"

This popular dessert of southern Chinese origin belongs to the 糖水 tong sui (literelly means sugar water in Cantonese, tang shui in Mandarin) or sweet soup family. Like all other sweet soups, it has taken on a local identity with the added pandan leaves (coconut milk is sometimes added to some) here in Malaysia. It adds the beautiful grassy perfume to the already aromatic tong sui  making it one of the most popular sweet snacks around.

Further north, Chinese immigrants also introduced sweet soups to Thailand. Like their Malaysian cousins, they have also added local ingredients to them over the years. This is known as man thate tom nam tan sai khing (sweet potatoes simmered in syrup with ginger) in Thai. With waning popularity among the younger generation, It is getting more difficult to come across tom nam tan vendors in the kingdom except in towns and cities with large Chinese population. When you do find one you are likely to find other popular offerings such as khao niu daeng tom nam tan (red sticky rice cooked in syrup) or luk dueay tom nam tan (job's tears cooked in syrup) among a dozen other sweet soups on offer. On the other hand the future is much brighter in Malaysia, trendy sweet soup joints are popping up all over the country thanks to the renewed enthusiasm on "foods with flavour of the past" (known as 古早味, gu cao wei in Mandarin).

My aunt who experienced the brutal Japanese occupation in Malaya rarely eats sweet potatoes when the occupation ended. She and her family survived mainly on sweet potato porridge, sweet potato vines and wild greens as food was scarce and difficult to come by. When sugar was available on the very rare occasions, a small pot of this sweet soup was sometimes prepared to cheer up the little ones in the family. Till these days she continues to remind us of the brutal living conditions of those dark years whenever she prepares this particular dish for us.

P.S It has been a rather lean month for MMM entries, remember to join us for our monthly roundup on all things Malaysian. I will put up the roundup on Monday, 1st Oct, so please send in your entries before that.

serves 4 as a sweet snack
you'll need;
2 medium size sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
5 cm piece of ginger, sliced or bashed
2 pandan leaves, knotted
2 l of water
1/2 cup of  rock sugar or brown sugar

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into manageable pieces.

Slice or bash the ginger with a blunt object.

Place all ingredients in a pot and simmer until the sweet potato is tender. Check for sweetness, add more sugar if you prefer a sweeter dish.

Serve hot as a afternoon snack. It is equally delicious served chilled on hot summer days.

The infamous Japanese issued ten dollars note (1942-45) popularly known as the banana money due to the banana plant motif on the front of the note. According to my aunt one would need a whole sack of this just to buy a kati (11/3 lb or 604.7g) of sugar. My late grandfather like many others kept boxes of this valueless notes after the occupation hoping one day they can be exchanged to the local currency but to no avail.... now they serve a reminder of the dark days many experienced during the brutal occupation.

I am the host for the September event so please send all your entries to me at To find out more about the event and on how to enter please click HERE.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Spiced Tomato Relish From The Tummies' Kitchen

I picked up The god of small things by Arundhati Roy 14 years after I first read it. Like the first time, I was transported back to Kerela of the 60's after reading just the first few pages. It is a complicated and moving tale that can get quite heavy at times; one do need to have a break from the book, to regroup, to digest and to contemplate from time to time before continuing. During one of those breaks, I walked out of the dark and stuffy Ipe family's Paradise Pickles and Preserves factory and stepped right back into my bright, airy kitchen to start another batch of my very own spiced tomato relish.

There are always jars of condiments (preserves, chutneys, relishes) in our fridge as I am a firm believer that a good condiment can turn a dull meal into an good one and a good meal into an excellent one. However, good shop bought condiments can be quite pricey but fortunately I am pretty good at making them and more importantly I do really enjoy making them.

I think everyone should have a jar of this very delicious and extremely versatile relish in the pantry. We are using it with everything and in every possible way at the rate of one jar per week. I will show you different ways to enjoy this addictive relish in the coming days, meanwhile make a large batch today so you can share it with your love ones too.

If you also like to have a condiment of some sort with your meal, you might want to check out these versatile relish/sauce of mine;
P.S more relishes and chutneys on the way so please stay tuned!

recipe from the tummies' kitchen
makes ~500 ml
you'll need;
100 ml of olive oil
1 brown onion, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
3 slices of ginger or 2 tsp of ginger powder
3 to 4 bird chilies, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 star anise
a small piece of cassia or cinnamon bark
4 cloves
450 ml diced or crushed tomatoes
1 sprig of rosemary
1 stalk of basil
2 heaped tbs of brown sugar
4 heaped tbs of vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion, garlic, chilies, bay leaves and dried spices with olive oil over medium heat until onion is soften. Don't be alarm by the amount of oil used, the attractive red tint oil will serve as a protector for the precious relish.

Add canned tomatoes, herbs, sugar and vinegar, salt and pepper and mix well.

Simmer uncovered on very low heat for 20 to 25 minutes or until the sauce is thickish. Check for seasonings, it should be savoury, sour, sweet and extremely aromatic.

Remove solids and allow to cool completely before bottle in sterilized jars.  It can be refrigerated for up to 2 months.

It goes perfectly with some delicious stuffed meatballs, recipe coming up.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Spiced Meatballs, Chickpeas And Vegetables Soup

Dinner was meant to meatball salad again but I settled on something a little more hearty after the weather took a nasty turn. However the meatballs remained on the menu but they ended up swimming in a delicious tomato based soup rather than frolicking among tomatoes and salad leaves.

I added some cavolo nero towards the end of the cooking; to freshen up and to add colour to the dish, if you are unable to obtain cavolo nero, spinach, chard or dandelion greens are all good substitutes.

I made a rather large batch of seasoned mince as usual, way too much for what was required for this recipe. Halve the quantity of mince if you only want to be able to make enough meatballs for this recipe, otherwise I will share with you a few quirky dishes that I came up with using my leftover seasoned mince in the coming days.  At the meantime you can use the leftover mince for the following recipes found in this blog;

recipe from the tummies' kitchen
serves 4 to 6 as a one dish meal
you'll need;
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
4 celery ribs, sliced
2 cups of crushed tomatoes
2.5 l of stock
1 can of chickpeas, drained
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of cavolo nero
salt and pepper to taste
chopped parsley to serve

for the meatballs;
1 kg of beef mince or mince of your choice
1 egg, lightly beated
3/4 cup of breadcrumbs, soaked with 1/2 cup of milk 
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks of parsley, chopped
1/2 tbs of coriander powder
1/2 tbs of allspice powder
1 tbs of cumin powder
1 tbs of smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
a little oil for frying

Prepare the vegetables and set aside. Feel free to add other seasonal vegetables of your choice

Place all ingredients for meatballs/kofta in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and chill until needed.

Shape seasoned mince into meatballs the size of a 20 cent coin, you'll need about 30 meatballs. Brown meatballs with a little oil until golden all over and set aside, they don't need to be cooked through.

In a large pot, saute garlic, onion, carrot and celery for 2 to 3 minutes or until the onion is soften. Add the can of crushed tomato and continue to cook on medium heat for a further 5 minutes.

Add stock, chickpeas, bay leaves and allow the content to come to a simmer, season with salt and pepper.

Add meatballs to the pot, cover and simmer on low heat until the vegetables are tender and meatballs are soft and tender. Add cavolo nero and cook until wilted, check for seasonings.

Hearty but not too heavy... perfect for a mild spring night!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Yum Muu Yang Polamai ยำหมูย่างผลไม้ Grilled Pork And Stone Fruit Salad

I have no idea why such a delicious dish was not posted closer to the date when it was first prepared... a question best leave to the X-File team.

I know we won't be getting any stone fruit here in Australia for a few more months but then I do have my readers over the northern hemisphere who are enjoying the abundance of stone fruits at the moment. Other seasonal fruits can be used of course; pineapple, kiwi fruit and rock melon is another combination that will work very well and if you are in the tropics, why not take advantage of the huge array of tropical fruits you have over there?

You may use the classic marinade (garlic, coriander root, white peppercorns and salt) with other meats of your choice. Seafood such as tuna, salmon and trout are also fantastic substitutes. Feel free to experiment with the ingredients available to you, remember sanuk (fun) is a crucial ingredient of a successful Thai salad.

Serve this refreshing salad as part of a Thai meal - with one of the two Thai curries (massaman curry with beef or panang chicken) I posted recently perhaps? If you are a fan of using fruits in savoury dishes, you might also want to check out my spicy prawns salad with stone fruits and corn.

recipe from the tummies' kitchen
oven preheated at 200 C (conventional)
serves 4 to 6 as part of a Thai meal
you'll need;
2 pieces of pork fillets ( ~400g)
2 tsp of salt
2 cloves of garlic
2 coriander roots
2 tsp of white peppercorns
2 nectarines, stones removed and sliced
2 white peaches, stones removed and sliced
2 peaches, stones removed and sliced
1 small cucumber, sliced
2 spring onions, diagonally sliced
1/2 red onion or 3 shallots, sliced
a handful of mix lettuce leaves
4 soft boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
1/3 cup of cashew nuts, toasted

for the dressing;
2 coriander roots, chopped 
5 to 8 bird chilies, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
3  tbs of castor sugar
3 tbs of fish sauce
6 tbs of lime juice
pinch of salt

Pound garlic, coriander roots and white peppercorns with salt to a course paste, marinate pork with the paste for at least an hour.

Roast cashew in the oven for 15 minutes, allow to cool. For the dressing - place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well, it should taste hot, salty, sour, and sweet.

Prepare the rest of the ingredients and place in a large salad bowl.

Pan fry pork fillets with a little oil for 30 seconds on each side, transfer the pan to the hot oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Allow to rest before slicing.

Add pork slices to the salad bowl, pour 1/2 of the dressing over and mix well. Top with egg wedges and sprinkle the cashew over. Leftover dressing can be kept refrigerated for a week.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chicken Chop With Black Pepper Sauce On Rice 黑椒雞扒飯 - "Malaysian Monday 89"

We Malaysians are known for our addiction for hot and spicy foods. However we don't rely solely on chillies for our daily fix, peppercorns also play an important role to satisfy our obsession with all things spicy. Being the 5th largest producer of peppercorns, we are spoilt when it comes to top quality peppercorns and that includes the most prized variety from the state of Sarawak.

There are many versions of black pepper sauce throughout Asia but call me bias because I will always be partial to this version that I grew up with. This particular sauce is both savoury and sweet with just the right kick from the black peppercorns. Feel free to increase the amount of black pepper if a hotter sauce is desired.

P.S If you are a fan of black peppercorns, do check out my black pepper and butter prawns or Thai basil and black pepper prawns.

recipe from the tummies' kitchen
serves 2 as a one dish meal
you'll need;
2 boneless chicken thighs, flatten lightly with a kitchen mallet
1/2 tbs of light soy
1 tsp of sesame oil
1 tsp of white pepper
corn flour and rice flour for coating
oil for frying
steamed rice to serve
fried eggs to serve

for the sauce;
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cm piece of ginger, chopped
2 bird chilies, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
2 tbs of black peppercorns, crushed
3 tbs of oyster sauce
2 tbs of light soy
1 tbs of sugar
3/4 cup of stock
a handful of snow peas, topped and tailed
corn flour solution for thickening

Marinate chicken with soy, sesame oil and white pepper for 15 to 20 minutes.

Prepare the ingredients for the sauce.

Coat the chicken with flours and drench off excess before frying in hot oil until golden and crispy. Drain well and allow to rest before slicing.

Heat a wok up until smoking then saute garlic, ginger, chili and shallot with a little oil for 15 to 20 seconds. Add seasonings and stock and bring it to a simmer, check for seasonings and adjust to suit your taste.

Add snow peas and cook briefly before thickening the sauce with a little corn flour solution.

Place sliced chicken over a bed of hot steamed rice and pour the sauce over.

I am the host for the September event so please send all your entries to me at To find out more about the event and on how to enter please click HERE.

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melbourne, victoria, Australia