11 April 2012
It has been incredibly surreal, these last 10 days. My dearest husband decided that he would plan our best vacation ever a.k.a. the honeymoon. South Africa is truly, as one of our friends put it, 'beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful...' Sitting at the balcony of the Birkenhead House, with a dreamily misty view of the waves crashing against the cliff, seagulls flying above, and the gentle warmth of the afternoon sun enrobing my calves, I (and I assume Ed too) simply could not ask for more.
But of course, South Africa has more than 'just' that to offer. We've travelled from Johannesburg to Pretoria, to Cape Town, Stellenbosch and now Hermanus. While it may sound tiring for what has only been ten days, I assure you it was not. During our stay in Stellenbosch alone, Ed and I have discovered salads that rank among our top five salads ever, a cup of hot chocolate with hazelnut that really deserves to be a dessert in itself, how awesome freshly (and well) shucked live oysters are, and our new favorite snack of dried beef/game called biltong. I fully intend to put together the top five (or ten) must eat/live places in South Africa just based on this short trip that I hope will not be our last. In the meantime, here's a little collage to whet your appetites.
06 December 2011
In the perfect world, I would be home all day trying out recipes from my latest cookbook (thank you Sherwin and Vivien, I adore it!) or my favourite food magazine, and dreaming up recipes to test out on Ed when he returns home in the evenings. In the perfect world, I'd be rolling out almond tart dough at 3pm, caramelising fresh figs at 4pm, filling the almond tart shell with some sweet vanilla custard, the lightly wrinkled figs and crunchy toasted hazelnets an hour later, and savouring a glass of delicious Frontignac by 6pm with a rack of lamb slow roasting in the oven. In the perfect world, all this would be done in a huge and rustic looking woody kitchen with hanging copper pots and the kitchen island of my dreams. In an even more perfect world, endless rolling hills of tulips would sway in the wind when I peek out from the french windows dotting the walls of the kitchen.
Alas, tis not to be.
Apart from the fact that rolling hills of tulips are a little far-fetched for this little red dot, I recognise that there are trade offs I have to make. If I want the kitchen of my dreams, I need to stay gainfully employed to afford it. Kitchen or time, kitchen or time? I choose kitchen anytime!
I may not be building the ultimate kitchen of my dreams, but I daresay it will be nearly there - complete with a dishwasher. Finally! Ed has been most sweet by indulging me in my longtime fantasy, by suggesting (on his own volition, I swear!) to turn our newly purchased 3 bedroom apartment into a 2 bedroom apartment to expand the already sizeable kitchen. Of course, this fantasy does not come cheap. The little fortune that our impending renovations will cost us means my perfect world will not exist, at least not for the next couple of years.
In the meantime, I make do with any spare time I can find to dabble in the kitchen. Every now and then, Ed and I would find ourselves at the nearest 24-hour supermarket at 10pm 'just walking around'. It is an odd habit, but one I love and look forward to. Sometimes, even though it is pushing our bedtime, we (read: I) would go so far as to attempt to cook a full dinner/supper of a protein and a salad. With Ed, there's hardly a bad time for a 'snack'. One particular night, with the help of my iPhone and this awesome free app, I put together a meal of seared lamb rack with roasted savoy cabbage.
By the time we brought the groceries home, cooked and sat down at the dining table, it was close to midnight. But my fatigue from the long day was overtaken by the inexplicable happiness I experienced during the entire preparation. I know, I'm quite an oddball. I delighted in my small victory as I sliced the lamb rack and found just the right shade of pink staring back at me. While I accidentally burnt parts of the savoy cabbage, the large portion I managed to salvage were incredibly tasty and almost meaty even. It had a deep, earthy flavour that would really have benefited from the raisins I thought I had but didn't and therefore omitted. The dish may not have been perfect what with burnt bits and all, and I may not have been in that perfect world with figs and hazelnuts, but looking at Ed polish his plate and bones down to the last crinkly cabbage leaf with such rigour, I knew life was perfect.
And now as I gaze upon the unfamiliar, shiny band around my ring finger, life feels surreal, and that much more perfect. Who knew that the grubby-looking tennis teammate from junior college, with those massive (and scary) forehand drives, would clean up so well and become the man waiting for me at the end of the church aisle, 10 years down the road? There, I've finally said it. I'm married!
Click here for recipe of Roasted Savoy Cabbage.
23 November 2011
44 Jalan Serulin 2
Taman Seri Kulai
For directions, click here.
31 October 2011
In preparation for an upcoming wedding (of mine that is) I decided to take leave from work for almost 1 month leading up to the wedding. To be clear however, my preparatory work involves mainly nursing those dark eye bags back where they came from, smoothening out the fine lines that have been creeping out of the corners of my eyes and, if heaven permits, banishing those scars left behind from zits that popped out as a form of protest against a combination of irregular/too little sleep and poor diet.
What better way to start off the break than a trip to Bali with some of my best buds, and of course my best friend and husband-to-be? Courtesy of recommendations from friends, we had pretty awesome meals at Metis (a french restaurant with mind-blowing foie gras), Made Warung (a restaurant whose Nasi Campur is delicious), Kolega (a local institution serving Nasi Padang and a beef soup that must not be missed), Ibu Oka (serving roast pig aka Babi Guling that runs out so fast we wished we set out for lunch earlier) and Naughty Nuri's (whose finger-lickin good ribs and insanely powerful Martini make for great games or conversations around the table).
I'm such a late bloomer and only realized the trove of good eats that is Bali. And even though many say it is slowly losing it's charm with greater commercialization of it's streets, increasingly jammed roads, and more polluted beaches, I don't think that's the last of Bali Ed and I will see.
Till then, perhaps I should try to recreate those crazy ribs from Naughty Nuri's! If anyone has a good roasted pork rib recipe, please share!
04 October 2011
Half an hour into watching Nigella Lawson whip up a batch of 12 giant cookies in her Kitchenaid, Ed looked at me with a pitiful expression and described how much he wanted to eat them. I suppose it was no coincidence that the look came right after Nigella Lawson revealed that half a kilogram of chocolate went into those 12 cookies.
Suddenly inspired and thinking of the big block of Valrhona Dark Chocolate I had stashed away in the refrigerator, I pulled my Kitchenaid out of the sad recesses of the kitchen and placed it in it's rightful throne - between the sink and stove.
And these cookies were good! I wouldn't advise eating more than 1 at a go, though Ed downed 4 easily.
Now I'm thinking brioche or cinnamon rolls or just plain old brownies!
02 October 2011
I generally shy away from cooking Southeast Asian food because they require so many different types of spices and so much effort, not to mention the fact that a very good rendition is probably available a hop and a skip away from wherever I am and can be purchased for a song.
However, ever since I tried making Tom Yam soup and Pho Bo, and realized how easy those were, I've learnt to question these assumptions and have been more open to cooking (or at least attempting to) Southeast Asian food. In some ways, you can say Ed's soft spot for food from around the region has been a key motivating factor as well.
That is not to say that I've been particularly successful at my attempts though. In my previous entry I mentioned how the Assam Laksa took a painful two and a half hours to complete. Mind you, there were three, sometimes four, persons working on the dish at any one time.
Today, I was inspired by Adam Liaw's cookbook with a recipe for Chicken Rice - possibly one of Ed's top five favorite dishes, ever. It sounded simple enough and the ingredient list was not too long nor diverse. All was well - forty minutes into the cooking and I was almost done. Minimal washing up seemed to be required (I cheated and used the rice cooker to fry the rice first) and the smell in the kitchen was promising.
And then I had to chop the chicken.
Even with a sharp cleaver and all the determination I could muster, I could not make clean, decisive chops at the chicken. Worse still, I wasn't prepared for all the juices to spill out of the chicken's cavity, onto the chopping board, countertop and down the kitchen cupboards before finally reaching the kitchen floor in all it's greasy goodness.
But after some (more) struggle and compromises (drumsticks and wings left whole), I managed to get the chicken onto a plate of sliced cucumbers. With newfound respect for those uncles (and the occasional aunty) who chop chicken in the shops, I tucked into the chicken rice with Ed. After all that effort, would I make it again? Maybe!
Adam Liaw's recipe worked quite well and on the whole it was tasty. I liked the fact that I had very little chopping to do, apart from the chicken. Mainly whole cloves of garlic or thick slices of unpeeled ginger were used. I made chicken rice before, using other recipes and Adam's unusual step of wrapping the cooked chicken in cling wrap after brushing it with sesame oil might have lent itself to the silky smooth skin. While I wasn't too sure about the chilli sauce recipe - I doubled the recipe and used a whopping 11 bird's eye chillies - they turned out well in the end. The bright tang of the lemon juice freshened up the dish, and for some reason the sauce was not as spicy as I thought it would turn out to be.
Can't wait to try his other recipes!
28 September 2011
Ever since I bought my robin blue Kitchenaid, I haven't lusted after any other kitchen appliance.
One would say I'm a pretty blessed woman. I have a cast iron cocotte for stews and braises, a Microplane for crazy fine shavings of parmesan without so much as lifting my pinkie, a Calphalon Chef's Pan for Sunday morning fry-ups or Sunday night paella (works just as well, from stove to oven) and an electric knife sharpener so I never have to struggle when slicing tomatoes for salads, among many other splurges for the kitchen. Don't get me wrong here, I don't regret any of these purchases, but I have to strike a balance between fattening my kitchen with yet another tool that will trim my cooking time and effort by another 5-10%, and simply simply saving up for a 'nest' (boy do I hate being an adult).
But even as I try to be more sensible in my daily expenditure, I find I cannot help but lust after the Ultra Pride (pictured above). After spending a phenomenal two and a half hours the previous weekend pounding away at turmeric, lemongrass, garlic and (my worst enemy) dried chillies to create Assam Laksa, I decided that all the effort was not worth it. While it was a somewhat successful attempt at the dish, even as I was chowing down the slippery rice noodle with the thick flavorful mackerel-based soup, I told myself that the next time I wanted to make Assam Laksa, I would abandon the idea as quickly as the idea came to mind.
That was until I chanced upon the Ultra Pride. Reading posts on egullet about how it mechanically pounds both wet and dry spices into a reluctant but smooth paste, I'm thinking this might be it. This might be just what the chef prescribed to demolish that wall between me and all other delectable Southeast Asian dishes. Beef rendang, Thai green curry, Mee Siam even, or Laksa Lemak! Perhaps it is time to take another plunge towards making my kitchen that bit more perfect and away from you-know-what. (!)
27 September 2011
I blogged about Orangette's wonderful read, and the accompanying recipes before. I haven't yet (cross fingers!) attempted a recipe of hers that doesn't work like a dream. Not only have they been a cinch to put together, they have always been packed with flavor. Her Radicchio Salad with Garlic and Black Pepper epitomises this beautifully.
Using a sharp mandolin (not sure why you would keep a blunt one anyway), thinly shred a small head of radicchio. Mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and olive oil each, to a minced clove of garlic and a dash of black pepper. Pick up a shred of radicchio, dip it into the dressing and eat it. Adjust dressing if necessary - I added just a tad more lemon juice and olive oil for a more luscious coating to each shred. Serve with parmesan shavings and tuck in!
13 February 2011
So when I discovered that I would have a sliver of a breather right after one of the larger milestones in the project, Ed and I promptly took leave and started plotting. We were still undecided about where we would go, right up to 1 month before we took leave but we (or rather Ed) knew we wanted to go to somewhere exciting like the Middle East. So we found a couple of other travel companions, DS and XM, and finally decided on Beirut (Lebanon), with the hope that we would be able to get a Syrian visa there to cross the border into Syria.
Well, we tried to get the visa on the 2nd day and promptly failed. What happened next unfolded very gradually and almost rather unexcitingly, though upon hindsight it seems quite the adventure. We chanced upon a travel agency and decided to pop in to explore our options. We looked at places nearby that didn't require a visa and deliberated over stretching our itinerary in Lebanon across another 4-5 days - possibly even going to the mountains for some skiing that Ed had suggested while we were in Singapore but which the rest of us had vetoed. But scanning through the Lonely Planet guidebook, the latter option of spending the entire 10-11 days in Lebanon didn't look promising - yes, this was quite the Asian mindset we had. So we decided we would go to Istanbul (Turkey)!
Looking back, I'm glad we did. Who knows how our Jordan trip would have turned out, but being in Istanbul was exactly how I had expected a trip to Middle East to be. It was full of stopovers for coffee, shisha (much to XM's and my chagrin) and absolutely colourful markets that were a tad touristy. I put my bargaining skills to much good use and got relatively good deals for 4 handbags (that Ed bought for his grandma, mum and 2 sisters, awww), travel totes, a large handmade ceramic salad bowl, a matching trivet, an adorable pomegranate inspired vase and a handmade rose quartz statement ring.
Naturally, when Ed and I spotted 'Istanbul Eats', we jumped at it. Well, almost. We spotted it in a souvenir shop within the Blue Mosque compound and thought it was surely overpriced in the shop. So we left it there and went hunting for it elsewhere only to realise it was much more expensive everywhere else. While beating ourselves up about it over coffee in a quirky cafe cum jewellery shop (where we bought the rose quartz ring for me), we spotted the book at a lower price to boot and grabbed it with much aplomb.
The next couple of days were full of great, great eats. The good thing about the book is that it doesn't only review mid-range to high end restaurants. In fact, most of the reviews are of affordable holes-in-the-wall that have great, tasty something. It could be anything from liver to doner kebaps, from sheeps' heads to kofte. With the book's blessings, we were almost constantly stuffed. Thank goodness for the fact that we chose to explore the city by foot most of the times, and for the occasional times we had to walk up and down the same street looking for the elusive holes in the wall.
But the most enjoyable meal we had was probably this place we chanced upon on the last night we spent in Istanbul. We were hunting down this place that served Uighur food, but found out when we arrived that they closed at 7pm (!!). Having been looking forward to trying Uighur food, I was seriously bummed out. I tried to make the best of the situation by looking for other recommended eateries in the neighbourhood. It was already about 8pm and my companions and I had travelled relatively far to this Uighur eatery, so everyone was pretty ravenous. But perhaps because this was going to be our last meal in Istanbul, we were all game to find the other recommended eateries.
We were well on our way to a place just 2 streets down when we stumbled upon a small bustling eatery called Direkler Akasi (Sehzadebasi Cad, No. 18 Eminonu) that had platters of marinating chicken, beef and lamb tempting us through the displays. There was a small queue of locals right outside, all armed with a shot of turkish coffee or tea, and the waiters were not calling at us to go inside. The last point, we found out the difficult way, was quite a reliable indicator that the place was worth eating in. Ed and I were walking ahead of our companions, and when we turned back to look at them, their eyes said it all and we promptly joined the queue.
What happened in the next hour or two was pure heaven. We left the guys to order a smorgasbord of meats and feasted like we hadn't eaten for days. The roast chicken was so incredibly tasty and juicy, that it trumped the incredibly tender salt-baked lamb we tried just the night before. Even Ed, whose one true love after me is lamb, agreed. We liked the roast chicken so much that we order another 3 platters of it after we finished the first round of meat. It is a place I will return to in a heartbeat, and I pray that it never moves away. (Or if it does, that I will find it.)
The food we tried with the blessings of Istanbul Eats was really good. But chancing upon Direkler Arasi and having such a mind-blowing experience, really taught me that I must always keep my options open and not always stick to the path well trodden.
For insanely good roast chicken that you really have to try:
Address: Sehzadebasi Cad, No. 18 Eminonu
For flavourful rice, homely chicken soup, chicken breast pudding and best of all, their chicken gizzards (picture above):
Address: Kucukpazar Cad. 68, Eminonu, Istanbul
For syrian food, especially their salt-baked lamb:
Akdeniz Hatay Sofrasi
Address: Ahmediye Cad. No: 44/A, Fatih
For crazy good kaymak - Turkish version of clotted cream:
Address: Koyici Meydani Sok., Besiktas
For a once in a lifetime experience with sheep's head - brain, eyes and all:
Sinasi Usta’s Kelle Tandir (roasted and served hot)
Senin Ciger ve Tavuk Pazarlama
Address: Sahne Sk. 18, Balikpazari, Beyoglu
Telephone: 212 245 4312
For an incredible grilled/fried fish meal:
Sultanahmet Fish House
Address: Prof Kazim Ismail Gurkan, Caddesi 14 Cagaloglu
Telephone: 212 527 4445
12PM - 11PM
Sorry for the bad photo, the lighting in the restaurant was incredibly dim.
07 February 2011
Before I left my last workplace, one of my colleagues, SS, gave me the book - A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table. SS also wrote me a very sweet note and explained that the book was 'a reminder of the ability of food blogs to move people.' How true. The book was written by Molly Wizenberg, the wonderful writer behind the food blog 'Orangette'. I've been reading her food blog, and have always been taken in by how grounded and accessible her food blog is.
So when I felt like I had lost some pizzazz in my steps, it was only apt that I picked up the book again. It was like the much needed breath of fresh air that I needed. Together with the sporadic episodes of Junior Masterchef that I managed to catch on cable tele, I felt life return to my fingertips. Among other things, I felt like making buttery scones, clotted cream, poached pears, hearty soups and roasting a rack of lamb.
I've tried 2 recipes from Molly's book so far, and both have worked great. The later one I tried - French Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon - was truly stellar. It is a humble looking cake that was perfectly moist, sweet and had just the right amount of tang. I've never felt so proud of any cake I've baked in the past and am grateful to both SS and Molly for having brought this amazing yogurt cake into my life. It got rave reviews from family and is practically gone.
To end this post, here's a photo, ala Orangette, of today's tea.
Update: I brought it to work and got many thumbs up too.
French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon
From 'A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table'
1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 cup well-stirred plain yogurt (not low fat/nonfat)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil (e.g. canola)
Syrup - 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice
Icing - 1 cup sifted powdered sugar and 3 tbsp lemon juice
(I found that I had to double the icing recipe to adequately coat my cake.)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter or cooking spray.
Line the bottom of the pan with a round baking paper, and grease it too.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add lemon zest and whisk again.
In a large bowl, combine yogurt, sugar and eggs, stirring to mix well.
Add flour mixture and stir to just combine.
Add oil and stir well until it comes together into a smooth, pale yellow batter.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 - 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Do not overbake.
In the meantime, combine the ingredients for the syrup and icing.
(You may choose to add only the syrup or only the icing, or to add both. I added both to great effect.)
When the cake is done, cool it in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan and invert it onto a wide, flat plate.
Remove and discard the baking paper.
Invert the cake back onto the wire rack so that it sits upright with the slightly domed side facing up.
Set the wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.
Spoon the syrup slowly atop the warm cake - do not worry if some of the syrup runs down the sides and onto the baking sheet.
Let the cake cool completely.
Spoon the smooth icing over the cooled cake and serve immediately (when the icing is soft and juicy) or after 1 hour (when the icing has set).
02 February 2011
I've got so much to blog about - a (not so) recent trip to Beirut and Istanbul where my companions and I ate particularly well and tried a dish we know we will never eat again, a Coq au Vin Blanc recipe I tried which was tres easy and delicious, and my favourite salad place just around the corner from where I live.
Instead, I thought I would blog about a trusty Tom Yam Goong recipe that has come in handy the past 3 years when helping my mum prepare the reunion dinner of Steamboat/Hot Pot. I used to think that there was nothing that could beat the convenience of pre-packaged Tom Yam Goong paste that only required a bit of hot water to turn into a fiery and satisfying red soup. When I received the cookbook 'Inside the Southeast Asian Kitchen' as a gift, and read how easy it was to make Tom Yam Goong from scratch, I was pleasantly surprised and strangely compelled to try it for myself. The most time consuming part is probably making a trip down your local supermarket to find the ingredients - the most elusive of which is probably the galangal. Once you've gotten your hands on the 8 main ingredients, you literally need only 10 minutes to peel/slice/crush before everything bubbles away in a pot. I've never looked back since.
16 September 2010
There was a time in my life when I couldn't get enough of salads. At one point, my favourite was the Soba Noodle Salad from Brewerkz that came with generous portions of teriyaki chicken and a refreshing, umami, soy-sauce based dressing. The servings were unusually large for salads in Singapore and were sometimes more than sufficient as a meal on it's own.
But having it twice a week and many weeks later, I quickly got tired of it and had nowhere else, but my own kitchen, to turn to for a pick-me-up on days my body just craved for the crunch and sweetness of fresh lettuce or baby spinach.
Thankfully, not too long after, Ed and I discovered that the Italian restaurant just a stone's throw away from my place served a rather awesome antipasti salad. But that's a story for another day.
I have always been on the lookout for salads generous and hearty enough as a meal. I even contemplated setting up 'The Big Salad Place' because I was convinced of this gap in the market.
Then came along The Salad Shop that was everything I dreamed of and then some!
Tucked away at the UOB building, The Salad Shop faces the Singapore River with the Asian Civilisations Museum just across. You get to choose if you'd like a rabbit portion of salad (when you are just feeling peckish), or a zebra portion or an elephant portion. I, of course, went straight for the largest.
I could choose what type of leaves I wanted as my 'base', and up to 9 types of ingredients to add. Finally, I had to pick one out of about 15 types of salad dressings they had on the order form. I simply deposited my order form at the counter and queue to pay. The salad was then sent to my table by one of the waiters wearing a bright colored t-shirt with an animal print.
Simple, fun, ingenious and absolutely tasty! All the (very fresh) leaves are pre-washed, dried and hand-tossed through the dressing before they are decorated with the other ingredients. The broccoli wasn't overcooked, I had large pieces of smoked salmon, and the lemon vinaigrette had just the right amount of tang. My colleagues and I were fortunate to have arrived just before 12pm. By 1230pm, the place was fully packed.
This place makes you say 'Dang! I wish I had thought of that/done that sooner.' I'm definitely returning to get my regular hit of salad. FINALLY!
02 August 2010
14 July 2010
25 May 2010
10 days in Sri Lanka, and heckofalot of curry later, I'm back in Singapore and missing the lazy mornings. Well, they were mostly lazy, except for those crazy mornings my travel companions wanted to climb Adam's Peak. (Of course, Ed and I barely started before we turned back. We blame the fried rice we had the night before.)
Sri Lanka was really great. It is an unusual holiday destination among many Singaporeans. Most of my friends I told thought I was going for work, and only few could fathom why Ed, my garang travel companions, C and F, and I were so hyped up about going. When we arrived, I had no doubt we made the right decision. Thankfully, the four of us seemed to share one common and unspoken understanding - that the holiday should be absolutely indulgent.
We slept well and ate very well. Finding food was generally not a problem, especially with a trusty lonely planet guidebook. Well, apart from that one 'budget' meal we had in a shady mafia-like setting. I'll let the photos do the talking.
16 March 2010
Pho Bo - Vietnamese Rice Noodles Soup with Beef
(Adapted from Epicurious)
2kg beef bones
1.5kg beef marrow
2 (3 inch) pieces of giner, cut in half lengthwise, lightly bruised with the flat side of a knife, and lightly charred (see note below)
2 yellow onions, peeled and charred (see note below)
1/4 fish sauce, and then some to taste
3 tablespoons sugar or equivalent of rock sugar
10 whole star anise, lightly toasted in a dry pan
6 whole cloves, lightly toasted in a dry pan
1 tablespoon sea salt, and then some to taste
500g dried 1/16 inch wide rice sticks, soaked, cooked and drained
200g sukiyaki beef i.e. beef sirloin, thinly sliced across the grain
1/3 cup chopped coriander
10 sprigs of holy basil/thai basil
6 chilli padi, cut into thin rings
3 limes, halved
In a large stockpot, bring 6 quarts water to a boil.
Place the bones and marrow in a second pot and add water to cover.
Bring to a boil and boil vigorously for 5 minutes. Using tongs, carefully transfer the bones and marrow to the first pot of boiling water. Discard the water in which the meat cooked. (This cleans the bones and reduces the impurities that can cloud the broth.)
When the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer.
Skim the surface often to remove any foam and fat.
Add the charred ginger and onions, fish sauce and sugar.
When the broth has been simmering for about 1 1/2 hours total, wrap the star anise and cloves in a tea bag/cheesecloth and add to the broth.
Let infuse until the broth is fragrant, about 30 minutes.
Remove and discard both the spice bag and onions.
Add the salt and continue to simmer, skimming as necessary, until you're ready to assemble the dish.
The broth needs to cook for at least 2 hours.
To serve, place the cooked noodles in preheated bowls. (If the noodles are not hot, reheat them in a microwave or dip them briefly in boiling water to prevent them from cooling down the soup.)
Place a few slices of the raw beef on the noodles.
Bring the broth to a rolling boil; ladle about 2 to 3 cups into each bowl.
The broth will cook the raw beef instantly.
Garnish with coriander.
Serve immediately, inviting guests to garnish the bowls with bean sprouts, basil, chilies and lime juice.
Note on charring ginger/onions:
To char ginger, hold the piece with tongs directly over an open flame or place it directly on a medium-hot electric burner.
While turning, char until the edges are slightly blackened and the ginger is fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Char the onions in the same way.
Peel and discard the blackened skins of the ginger and onions, then rinse and add to the broth.
13 February 2010
We all have our weaknesses. Not so recently, I added another weakness to my already ridiculously long list, which includes but is not limited to a soft spot for elegant tableware, a penchant for leather bags (sadly, at my pay scale I can only lust after them), and a perpetual craving for all forms of Japanese food, especially hotate.
This new weakness of mine is the yearning to have supper more often than not, once the hour hand of the clock hovers over '11'. I do not consume tiny dinners, no, that's not possible with Ed around. With a voracious appetite like his, we often order too much than we need. Yet sometimes I find myself craving for something else a couple of hours later.
And so does he.
So we have stashes of food that keep well and can be whipped up in a flash. We have progressed from packets of salt and vinegar crisps that need no cooking at all, to cold soba that's deliciously refreshing on warm, stuffy nights. Our latest is instant fish congee, with a lightly beaten egg stirred into it at the end and topped off with some sesame oil and chopped spring onion. Admittedly, this takes a little more time that many are willing to commit to for a quick late night fix. But good things truly come to those who wait.
Eaten in the comfort of a chilly room set at arctic temperatures (of course this means your room will smell of fish porridge for the rest of the night), it was blissful. It was one of those nights when we could only hear the clock and our stomachs grumbling. But not for long. This is one supper I'm willing to repeat over and over again even though it comes straight out of a packet.
I suppose that means I should add 2 new weaknesses to my list - eating supper (frequently) and eating pre-packed instant food. Eeks.
27 December 2009
I mentioned in my last post that this Christmas has been rather unusual. Ever since I got started on throwing dinner parties for friends (read: using friends as guinea pigs for new recipes), I have had a Christmas party every year for my close group of girlfriends - the ones with voracious appetites. Except this year.
Perhaps it is because this year we decided to run away to Phuket for a quick weekend trip instead. Perhaps it is because I got lazy. Whatever it is, I didn't throw any party. I did however, help out with the raclette party I mentioned in my last post.
You would have thought I'd have become more proficient over the years, having thrown a fair number of parties (brunches, teas, dinners). I thought so too myself! But alas, from the raclette party, it seems I have not.
The plan was to have the party at my friend's new home in the east. However, her home was so new it did not have a refrigerator. Some of the preparation therefore had to be done in the day at my place. My friend, G, came over in the morning and we settled on the Linzer sandwich cookie and pecan pie recipes we wanted to use before doing some grocery shopping.
Somehow, the massivity of the project did not occur to me (even as I was trying to cream 1.36kg of butter in my kitchenaid) until I had to sieve and mix 12 cups of flour with all the other dry ingredients. Yes, you read right. 12 full cups of flour. G and I had multiplied the recipe, thinking we could bake a couple more for our colleagues, and had to whip out our muscles and mix the ingredients together in the biggest pot I had. By 3pm, we had only managed to roll them into balls of dough to rest in the refrigerator.
At that point, we had to make a call. We had to do another round of grocery shopping for the actual raclette party and quickly chop and saute the accompaniments. And we were far away from where we had planned to be at 3pm. We decided to split up - I'd stay to finish up the cookies, he'd leave for the party venue and start the preparations on that end.
To cut the long story short, I only finished baking at 630pm; the dough was given too little time to firm up and became tricky to handle. I rushed to Holland Village to pick up the cheese and raclette grill before heading to the east for the party. Somehow, thankfully, we made it and the party was a success. I'm glad to report, so were the cookies.
Even though we had to substitute the hazelnuts with almonds, they turned out very well. Incredibly crumbly and just the right amount of sweetness, they were well received. I had half the dough i.e. 6 round discs of dough left and decided to bake a few more for my mum's guests this afternoon. Here's the recipe for those who might be planning belated Christmas parties and are thinking of edible gifts for guests to doggie bag home.
26 December 2009
Some of you have probably been there already, heck, there's even a Youtube video taken of in it. But I'm guessing most of you have never even heard of Lorong Kilat. I wouldn't have myself, if not for a dear friend and colleague who, like me, enjoys sharing her love for food with others and pointed me in that direction for some kickass deep fried chicken.
Who would have known that the Koreans would be the creators of such incredibly light, crunchy and delicious pieces of deep fried chicken? On our very first visit to Woori Nara, Ed and I ordered half a 'Volcano Yum Yum' chicken (ok, so their strength isn't in naming their dishes) and half a Soy Garlic chicken. We liked those very much, although we thought they might have overdid the sauce a little. Out of greed, we also ordered another serving of the 'Crispy and Mild' chicken and were henceforth sucked into the mystical world of Korean deep-fried chicken.
We have never looked back. Sure, we have tried other items on their menu which were generally decent, but getting our hands on some of their chicken is a must for every visit. It is also the place we think of whenever we have a deep fried chicken craving. I recommend wash it down with some refreshing rice drink (similar to our barley drink, except with rice - top picture) to complete your meal.
Woori-Nara Korean Restaurant
19 Lorong Kilat 01-02
09 December 2009
It doesn't have incredible 'tea eggs' with still-runny egg yolks and just-set egg whites.
It doesn't have a wide selection of premium teas. I never order their Iced Pear Tea everytime I go there because its poached pear isn't the most yummy poached fruit ever.
You shouldn't try this place, ever. Really, don't bother. It is already crowded enough as it is.
29 November 2009
25 November 2009
23 November 2009
My favourite addition to salads has got to be fried haloumi cheese. You get a beautifully crispy crust and totally awesome salty molten cheese that makes any boring old salad alive again. Best results come with sufficient oil - something I learnt not to stinge on from Thomas Keller's latest cookbook "Ad Hoc".
I haven't tried any of his recipes but the book has been an exciting read so far. Yes, I'm one of those freaks who actually reads cookbooks from cover to cover within a day. Meanwhile, the copy of Milton Friedman's 'Capitalism and Freedom' has been sitting on my desk for the longest time and I'm barely past chapter 2. I barter traded reading a book for my boss to watch a video I thought would change her life. It was a 3 part 20 min Youtube video and I now realise I got the shorter end of the stick.
Anyway, back to the book. I love the conversational tone in the book and all the little tips Thomas Keller added. I was worried the recipes would still be somewhat fussy but was significantly relieved when I read the part about not being silly about having to cut carrots into perfect batons. I hope to try one of the recipes soon - CH already has and gave awesome reviews. I'm also still working towards visiting Per Se and The French Laundry someday, soon.