Friday, June 24, 2011

Expeditions

We've had a wave of guests coming through Singapore at the moment. It's a good excuse to revisit the sights, discover little alleys, gorge on the wonderful local food, and shop! I love shopping with my guests. And although I don't buy anything, just the experience of trying those killer heels, testing different scents, carrying a designer bag on my arm, makes for a really enjoyable day. After a successful expedition, we ended the day with a dinner of Curry Prawns (adapted from a Hong Kong magazine clipping called Lisa's World), accompanied by Crab Cakes (adapted from Bon Appetit).





Curry Prawns with Pineapple


500g medium prawns
1 cup pineapple chunks
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 red onion, minced
1 cup coconut cream
1/2 cup pineapple juice
(from the canned pineapple)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar



Shell and devein prawns (keep the tail end). Wipe dry. Stir in a little salt, cornstarch and pepper. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes, then deep fry in hot oil, remove and drain on paper towels.

Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pan. Saute onions and curry powder for about 2 minutes. Pour in pineapple juice, salt and sugar, and stir until well blended.

Add the prawns, coconut cream and cook until sauce has thickened. Add in pineapple chunks, bring to a brief boil, and serve.






Crab Cakes

4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
1 can (6 ounces) fresh crabmeat
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili sauce (asian)
2 cups crushed Ritz crackers
1 egg

Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Canola oil for frying



Melt butter in a frying pan and saute onion and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes, on medium heat. Add bell pepper and saute for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in crabmeat, lemon juice, cilantro, Worcestershire and chili sauces. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a large bowl and mix in egg and crackers until well blended. Shape into little cakes and lay on a baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Place bread crumbs on a shallow dish. Take the crab cakes and gently press each one onto the bread crumbs, on both sides.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and fry cakes until golden brown.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Nice on Rice

Once in a while, my neighborhood Japanese supermarket hosts a rice festival, and I treat the family to a sack of glorious Japanese-grown rice. Because the short grains are slightly sticky but still retaining a little bite and bounce, it's great for absorbing saucy dishes. I made Gyudon, or Japanese Beef on Rice as a topping, and Saucy Eggplant as a side dish. The Gyudon recipe is adapted from a favorite cookbook called Harumi's Japanese Cooking, and the Eggplant dish is from an old Chinese cookbook that I pinched from my Mom's collection. Now this is my idea of comfort food!





Gyudon
(Beef on Rice)

2 medium onions, thinly sliced
6 fresh shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
500g sukiyaki beef (or thinly sliced beef)
3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup mirin
4 tablespoons white sugar
cooked white rice


Pour the wine and water into a saucepan and boil over medium heat. Once it has boiled, lower the heat and add your beef one slice at a time and simmer for about a minute. Skim the surface of the broth for any residue.

Add soy sauce, mirin and sugar. Prepare a piece of aluminum foil in the diameter of the saucepan and let it sit directly on top of the beef mixture. This "drop lid" technique concentrates the flavor of your broth. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Remove the lid, add the onions and mushrooms, and continue to simmer until soft.

Scoop the freshly cooked rice into your bowl. Spoon the beef, onions and broth onto the rice bowl. Garnish with sesame seeds and spring onions. Serve with japanese pickles, if available.






Saucy Eggplant


500 g eggplant
1 cup oil for frying
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chinese black vinegar or
Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup water


Peel the eggplant. Cut off both ends and cut the remaining section into 3-inch lengths. Halve lengthwise.

Heat pan and add oil. Deep fry the eggplant pieces in batches for about 2 minutes. Remove and drain. Leave about 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan.

Stir fry garlic until fragrant, then add the eggplant, soy sauce, sugar, salt, vinegar and water. Cook over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes, or until the liquid is nearly evaporated. Garnish with spring onions. Serve immediately.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bananas

I usually make a banana bread out of leftover ripe bananas, but I wanted to try something different this time. I found an interesting recipe on epicurious.com originally called Banana Coffee Cake Diamond, which combined bananas with chocolate and coffee. The cake was very moist, and the flavor combination was intriguing. The teenagers loved it. Serve with some whipped cream or your favorite frosting.



Chocolate Banana Coffee Cake


1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 ver ripe bananas, mashed well
3/4 cup sour cream
125g butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon espresso or strong coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 175 deg C.

I used a silicone baking mold, but if you are using a regular bundt pan, grease and flour it beforehand.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix bananas and sour cream.

In another bowl, beat butter, white and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, then coffee and vanilla.

Alternately beat in flour and banana mixture in batches, until well combined.

Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven for about 45-50 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for about 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.

Dust with confectioner's sugar, and serve with whipped cream or frosting.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Homemade

I have not had many successes in baking, I can probably count the few triumphs on my one hand. I've always loved that wonderful, homey smell of fresh bread baking in the oven, but I never thought I would enjoy that in my own kitchen...until a dear friend (thanks P) showed me how homemade bread can be as simple as apple crumble (the ONE thing I can bake!). This is her recipe. The dough should be prepared the night before baking.




Multi-grain Buns
(makes about 12-15 buns)

500 ml lukewarm water
1 sachet of dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
1/4 cup lukewarm water
400 g all-purpose flour
200 g whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 handfuls rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)
2 handfuls flax seeds
1 handful pumpkin seeds
(feel free to add raisins, chopped dried fruit if desired)



Pour the sachet of yeast into 1/4 cup lukewarm water, add the sugar and mix well until dissolved. Set aside while you prepare the dough. If active, the yeast will rise.

In a large mixing bowl, add the all-purpose and whole wheat flours, salt, oats, and seeds, and mix well. Pour in 500 ml water and the risen yeast mixture, and mix well in the bowl. The dough should resemble wet porridge (if too dry, add a bit more water to get the right consistency). Leave in the mixing bowl and cover tightly. Leave overnight in the fridge.

The next morning, preheat your oven to 275 deg C.

Use a large soup spoon to scoop out the dough, and form into buns with floured hands. Lay them side by side on a baking tray lined with a silpat mat or baking paper.

Bake for 5 minutes to brown, then lower the heat to 220 deg C, and bake for another 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.



Let cool before separating into individual buns. Store in an airtight container.




Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Long Break

I sat, staring at my screen for the longest time, and usually the words would flow from my thoughts to my fingers, tapping away at the keyboard. But I just stared. All of a sudden I was unsure of what I should say, or if I wanted to say anything, whether it was important at all. Day after day, I kept drawing a blank, until I finally just turned off completely, and took a break. Although the cooking still continued, I had a bad case of writer's block.

It's been a month or so. I started to miss my blogging world - the photos, the recipes, the comments, my friends, and yes, even the writing. Sorry to have disappeared for a bit, but I'm back. Here's a very hearty recipe for Slow-Roasted Pork Belly, adapted from the traditional Danish technique and a more modern Jamie Oliver.



Slow-Roasted Pork Belly


1.5kg pork belly with skin on
sea salt
2 apples, cored and sliced
5 shallots, sliced
2 sprigs of rosemary


Preheat the oven to 220 deg C. In the meantime, with a small sharp knife, score the skin, through the fat, but be careful not to cut into the meat (or ask your butcher to do this for you). Place pork belly skin side down into a roasting tray and pour enough water just to cover the layer of skin and fat. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the baking tray from the oven, and reduce the heat to 180 deg C. Pour out the water from the baking tray and set aside. This can be used for making gravy if desired. Turn over the pork belly so it is skin side up. Rub salt onto the skin and into the grooves.


Add the apples, shallots, and rosemary underneath the pork, making a flavorful nest.


Roast for another 2 hours. At this point, the skin would have started to puff up into a crackling. If not, turn up the oven to broil, carefully watching the pork as the skin starts to puff up, making sure it does not burn.

Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for about 10-15 minutes before slicing.
Serve with pickled red cabbage and a good strong mustard. You can also make a brown gravy from the drippings, and serve with potatoes.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Decadent Food@Kulinarya

Thanks to Lala of Kulinarya Cooking Club, who came up with another challenging theme of Decadent Food. My dish for April is Calamansi Lime Pie, made creamy by the surprise ingredient, condensed milk. The sweet, tart and creamy combination makes you crave for another slice. The recipe is adapted from Jeanne Kelley's wonderful cookbook, Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes.




Calamansi Lime Pie with Blueberry Compote

1 prepared 9-inch pie crust

1 (14-ounce can) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup freshly squeezed calamansi limes
(or regular limes)
1 teaspoon lime zest, finely grated
2 eggs

16 ounces fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar


Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.

Mix together the condensed milk, lime juice, and zest until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and pour into the condensed milk mixture, mixing thoroughly. Pour into the prepared pie crust and bake until filling is set, about 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool completely. Chill in the refrigerator while making the compote.

Place blueberries and sugar in a saucepan and let simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes. The mixture will thicken and reduce. Set aside to cool. Spoon over the pie slices and serve with whipped cream or creme fraiche, if desired.


Kulinarya Cooking Club was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colourful cuisine.

Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.

If you’re interested in joining our Kulinarya Cooking Club, please feel free to drop by our foodblogs and leave a comment. We would love to hear from you!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Time Flies

Do you find yourself driving the usual route - to the kids' school, to work, to the supermarket - only to realize that you're already there? But wasn't it just a few minutes ago that you got on the highway, cranked up the radio and started the journey?

And just like that, I realized too that I've now been blogging for a year! What started off as a challenge after taking a writer's workshop, and inspired by a retreat in Bali, my blog now has 72 entries. I've met many like-minded, food-crazy friends and even felt an instant kinship with some of you over our posts. I've travelled around the world vicariously through your blogs, savoring the aromas and tastes that your recipes brought to my kitchen.

So thank you, bloggers, for sharing your world with me, as I've enjoyed sharing mine with you. And thank you, readers, for stopping by to visit. See you again soon.



Saturday, April 2, 2011

Saved

I had a panic attack yesterday.

It was late in the afternoon, and as I was walking to my car in the basement parking lot, I picked up my iPhone, did the habitual click and swipe, and then again and again, but my fully-charged phone remained black, and silent. How could it be? Like a crazed woman, I raced home, plugged it into its lifeline - not a peep. It was gone. Kaput. I googled "dead iPhone", called the Apple store, followed the tips, but still no luck. Hysterical thoughts started rushing through my head like scrolling headline banners - What if My Class Schedule Was Changed? Is Teenage Son Stuck Somewhere? The Physiotherapist Can't Make it Tomorrow and Can't Reach Me! (And to think just a couple of years ago, I threatened to throw my husband's Blackberry overboard while on our cruise holiday, accusing him of being too obsessed! Oops...)

Then Teenage Son arrives home, listens to hysterical blabber from Panicked Mom, grabs the phone, and a few simultaneous clicks later, hands it back revived and alive, walks into his room, and shuts the door. Order is restored!

I even had time to make dinner of Prawn Cakes with fresh shitake mushrooms and wasabi vinaigrette, adapted from an old clipping I saved from Gourmet Magazine's October 2002 edition.




Prawn Cakes with Wasabi Vinaigrette


500g medium prawns, shelled and deveined, finely chopped
150g skinless cod or any white fish fillet, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced carrots
1/4 cup minced onions
1/2 cup minced fresh shitake mushrooms, caps only
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
Oil for frying

for Wasabi Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon prepared wasabi paste
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar


Saute carrots, onion and mushroom in a bit of oil until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix together minced prawn and fish, carrots, onion and mushroom mixture, egg, salt, soy sauce and sugar. With your hands, knead the mixture until well combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.

In the meantime, make the wasabi vinaigrette by whisking the wasabi paste, mayonnaise, mirin, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar until well blended.

Take the chilled prawn mixture and shape into 1/2 inch cakes. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat and fry cakes until lightly golden, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain well over paper towels.

Serve over mixed greens. Drizzle wasabi vinaigrette over the prawn cakes. Top with sesame seeds and pea sprouts.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Overdrive

Nurses and Caregivers, I have one word for you - RESPECT! Teenager no. 3 came home from the hospital last weekend, and I have tagged on an addendum to my multi-hyphenated job description of Mom. I am now Mom-Nurse to my son, who is lying in bed, cranky, in pain, and temporarily immobile. His needs have gone on overdrive. I've only been a couple of days on the job, but I am exhausted! I am either going to make myself a cocktail, or something good to eat. So I made noodles.

This recipe is adapted from The Taste of Thailand by Vatcharin Bhumichitr, substituting red curry paste with sambal.




Curry Noodles with Sambal


200g fresh Asian egg noodles
2 tablespoons oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons sambal paste
(or 1 teaspoon red curry paste)
1/2 cup coconut cream
125g minced pork
250ml chicken or pork stock
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice


Blanch the fresh noodles in boiling water for a few seconds, separating the strands. Drain and set aside.




In a wok over high heat, add the oil and fry the garlic until just golden. Add curry paste, stir well, then coconut cream. Lower the heat and simmer for a minute. Add the minced pork and saute until it turns opaque. Add the stock, curry powder, turmeric, fish sauce, sugar and lemon juice. Stir well. Increase the heat to high and continue stirring for about half a minute.





Add the noodles and mix until the sauce is well incorporated.

Garnish with julienned cucumbers and carrots. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or ground peanuts. Serve with additional sambal on the side.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Vegetables@Kulinarya

This month's Kulinarya Cooking Club challenge is Vegetables, Philippine Style. Thanks to Erika for a refreshing theme!

Ask a fellow Filipino what their favorite home cooked dish is, and most often you'll hear them craving for adobo, kare-kare, longganisa, or lechon kawali. We're a carnivorous bunch!

According to Encyclopedia of the Nations, the country's main agricultural crops are rice, corn, coconut, sugarcane, bananas, pineapple, coffee, mangoes, tobacco, and abaca (a banana-like plant). Secondary crops include peanut, cassava, camote (a type of rootcrop), garlic, onion, cabbage, eggplant, calamansi (a variety of lime), rubber, and cotton.

My featured dish is a grilled eggplant salad, which is a perfect accompaniment to all that meat we're craving! The tanginess of the dressing comes from calamansi, or Philippine limes. Adjust the sourness according to your taste, and if calamansi is not available, limes or lemons can be used. A drizzle of coconut cream rounds out the flavors. Add some crushed peanuts, chopped cilantro and more chili to the dressing for a Thai twist.




Grilled Eggplant Salad

1 Asian eggplant (long)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 shallots, minced
1/2 tomato, diced
1 chili, minced
2 tablespoons fresh calamansi juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons coconut cream


Grill the eggplant until skin is blackened. Let cool for a minute, then peel off the charred skin.


Dice eggplant and place in a serving dish. Top this with the diced tomatoes, shallots and minced garlic (which can be pan-fried in a bit of oil until lightly brown for a milder flavor).


For the dressing, combine the calamansi juice, fish sauce, sugar and minced chili. Mix well until the sugar is dissolved.


Pour dressing over the salad and drizzle the coconut cream over to finish.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fish Tales

There was a point in my childhood where I wanted to marry a fisherman. During my summer holidays, we would visit my grandparents who lived by the river. My Dad would take me on a little canoe with an old fisherman called Mang Tino, and we'd row out to the bay in the cool, dark and quiet dawn. The soft ripples of waves, the gentle splash of the oars as they cut through the still water was hypnotic. No conversation. This was Dad's downtime. We stopped a bit by the river bank, where our fisherman scooped up tiny shrimp for bait. We fished for a couple of hours, until the hot morning sun came bearing down on us. That meant it was time to head for shore, where twigs and branches were collected to make a fire to cook our breakfast. Our catch of the day, tiny silver fish, were put into a clay pot, with some onions, garlic, ginger and salt. The sweetness of the fresh fish over hot steamed rice was the best breakfast a little girl could share with her Dad, sitting under a shady tree, by the riverbank. This was serenity.

Here's a recipe for Grilled Fish (adapted from Terry and Christopher Tan's Shiok cookbook), using fillets you can easily find in your neighborhood supermarket. In Singapore, the ideal fish used is Stingray, on the bone, and of course, the fresher the better. It is served with a sweet-salty-spicy sambal and slices of calamansi, our local limes. The sambal recipe yields about a cup. I plan to make more dishes using this condiment, so watch out for it in my future posts.




Grilled Fish with Chili Sambal

500g sole or any white, firm fish fillet
2 tablespoons kecap manis (thick dark soy sauce)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
fresh calamansi or limes, halved

for Chili Sambal:
6 cloves garlic, peeled
4 candlenuts
(closest substitute would be cashew nuts)
2 large onions, chopped
8 dried chilies, soaked for about 30 minutes to soften
2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
3/4 cup water
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon shrimp paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar


Preheat oven to grill (you may also use your barbecue grill).

Pat dry the fish fillets with a paper towel and place in an oven-proof dish. Mix together kecap manis, pepper, salt and sugar. Brush liberally over fish.

Place in the oven and grill for about 3-4 minutes (4-5 minutes for thicker fillets). The fish is cooked through when the meat can be flaked with a fork. Serve with cut limes and chili sambal.

To make the sambal, finely grind garlic, candlenuts, onions and chilies in a food processor to make a moist aromatic paste. Add the tamarind paste into the water and knead until a pulp is produced. Strain into another bowl.



Heat the wok and add the oil. Reduce heat to low and add the aromatic paste. Stir constantly for about 10 minutes to ensure that the raw ingredients are thoroughly cooked.



Add the tomato paste, salt, sugar and stir well. Add the strained tamarind liquid a little at a time, stirring well, and continue until all liquid has been added and absorbed, and the sambal has turned a deep, rich red.



Serve with grilled fish, or as a condiment to your favorite meat, noodle or rice dishes.

The cooled sambal can be kept in a clean, airtight container for a few weeks in the refrigerator.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Memories

I've been in a daze lately. A few weeks ago, I faced the sad reality of a dear friend's passing away from cancer. The memories came pouring in. From the first time we met in Copenhagen, she took me under her wing, and showed me how to live like a Dane, but without forgetting our Philippine roots. Her traditional Christmas dinners of roast duck, roast pork, caramelized potatoes and red cabbage were always followed by adobo, lechon kawali and rice. When we bought our very first home, she came by, sewing machine in hand, and we spent all day eagerly sewing up curtains to decorate the rooms. She watched my boys grow up, and as my family became more nomadic through the years, she opened her home to us as we came to visit every summer or winter holiday. She enjoyed life. And now I wonder why she couldn't enjoy it for a bit longer.

I'm grateful to have spent the holidays with her, where she served a delicious appetizer, Pate de Foie Gras with Green Grapes. Here's how it was done: Take some green grapes, cut in half lengthwise, and toss with sugar to coat the fruit. While the grapes are macerating, slice the pate into 1 inch thick pieces, and pan fry them carefully in butter. Remove the browned pate, and toss in the grapes. Saute briefly and add white wine, reduce until the sauce becomes slightly syrupy. Lay the foie gras on toasted brioche over some arugula, then drizzle the green grape sauce over. Delicious.



Good memories, L.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Old Friends

There's nothing like old friends. Each time I travel back home, I get together with these girls I've known since grade school, and it always feels like I've never left. Although we hardly keep in touch, the bond we formed through all those years growing up together has remained intact, and we pick up quickly where we left off.

When I was back home for a mini-break, I caught up with a dear old friend for lunch. After hours of catching up, she served these mini banana spring rolls with a dipping sauce of dulce de leche, the sweet taste of nostalgia.



To make dulce de leche, simply remove the paper label from a can of condensed milk, place in a pot full of water (making sure the can is covered to the brim), cover and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove the lid, and scoop out the thick, caramelized milk.





Use as a dessert dip or serve with your favorite sweet bun.



Saturday, February 26, 2011

Leftovers

Weekends are for cleaning out the fridge, and trying to find ways of transforming leftovers into a new dish, a nice treat for my nocturnal Teenagers, whose first stop is the kitchen after a night out with friends.

I had a few slices of sauteed pork and a tub of kimchi, and I thought - Kimchi Fried Rice! I have always eaten kimchi as a side dish, but never as an ingredient in a cooked dish, so this was intriguing. Contrary to what I expected, the fried rice wasn't spicy at all! It was delicious, wiped out in the wee morning hours by my hungry vultures.

The recipe is from About.com, check out the original here.




Kimchi Fried Rice


1 cup kimchi, drained and chopped
1 small onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup leftover meat, chopped
3-4 cups cooked rice
salt to taste
fried eggs for topping


Add some vegetable oil into a hot wok and saute onions and kimchi until transparent. Add the leftover meat, then garlic, soy sauce and butter. Cook for a minute, then pour in the cooked rice. Mix very well, breaking up any lumps of rice. Season with salt to taste. In a separate pan, cook about 3 fried eggs and place on top of the fried rice before serving.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Two for One

A couple of weeks ago, I made Hainanese Chicken Rice, a favorite Singaporean dish where chicken is boiled in a rich stock, with flavorful accompaniments of chili and ginger sauces, and served with with fragrant sauteed and steamed rice.

This Cantonese favorite, Soy-braised Chicken, uses five spice powder as its dominant flavor. A blend of star anise, cinnamon, fennel, cloves and szechuan peppercorn combines the unique flavors of Chinese cuisine - sweet, salty, sour, pungent and bitter.

The next day I marinated and braised some pork spareribs in the leftover sauce, and they were just as delicious!





Soy-braised Five Spice Chicken

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sugar
1 whole chicken (about 1.5kg)
6 cups water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
5 tablespoons kecap manis or thick, dark soya sauce
large knob (about 3 inches) ginger, bruised
3/4 teaspoon five spice powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil


In a wok over medium heat, add the vegetable oil and sugar. As soon as the sugar begins to caramelize into a golden brown syrup, immediately add the chicken and roll around the caramel to thoroughly coat all sides. Turn chicken over a few times for an even golden coating.

Add the water, soy sauces, ginger, five spice powder and salt. Bring stock to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes. Turn chicken over gently, making sure not to bruise the skin, then continue simmering for another 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let chicken rest in the stock, covered, for another 10 minutes.

Lift chicken from the stock onto a chopping board. Chop into small pieces (debone the chicken if desired). Arrange on a serving plate with some sauteed chinese vegetables.

In the meantime, reduce the remaining stock over high heat until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add sesame oil. Drizzle over the chicken and serve some extra sauce on the side.



Sunday, February 13, 2011

Many Thanks


Thank you to Karen and Nigella for including me on her list of Stylish Blogger Awardees! I always look forward to reading her posts with wonderful anecdotes and recipes.

There are four rules to accepting this award: thank and link the blogger who nominated you; share seven things about yourself; award fifteen new bloggers and tell them you have done it. So here goes:


  • I used to be afraid of dogs; I now have two.






    • My grandmother taught me how to cook at the age of 10 during my summer holiday - I was mad at her for weeks
    • I am a cookbook fiend - take me to a bookstore and I will procrastinate about the bestsellers but will always leave with a cookbook






    • My most loyal and favorite cookbook, though, is my old, stained spiral notebook
    • I can spend hours in a kitchen gadget store (a shoe store tops my list too)
    • Baking makes me nervous, but I'm trying
    • I am happy to be living in one of the world's food capitals

    I stepped into the blogging world with the intention of simply having a journal of the dishes I cooked for family and friends, and the memories that came along with it. But I have met many like-minded friends through this avenue, and would like to share the Stylish Blogger Award with them:


    Until my next post, happy reading!

    Banana Turrones@Kulinarya

    Thank you to fellow KCC member Pia for this month's challenge of Filipino Aphrodisiac Food. Now didn't we all think of the same thing when we read Pia's email? Yes, balut, a boiled, fertilized duck egg is the ultimate in Filipino aphrodisiac food, sold by street vendors all over the country. Not my favorite food, to be honest.

    After a bit of researching, I was pleased to find that bananas, widely grown in the Philippines, are in Gayot's list of top ten romantic foods. The banana "is a complete meal, loaded with potassium, magnesium and B vitamins. Central Americans drink the sap of the red banana as an aphrodisiac, while Hindus regard it as a symbol of fertility. A banana left on a doorstep indicates that a marriage is about to take place. Bananas made an early appearance in the Garden of Eden; according to Islamic myth, Adam and Eve covered themselves not with fig but banana leaves."

    So what better way to sweeten a Valentine's Day meal than with these Banana Turrones? I sliced some bananas (plantains are ideal, but regular bananas will do), placed them on a spring roll wrapper, sprinkled brown sugar over the filling, and rolled these into tight batons. Deep fry them briefly in vegetable oil until golden brown and drain well on paper towels. In the meantime, make a dipping sauce by mixing 1 cup coconut cream with 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence. Simmer on low heat, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Serve Turrones with the Coconut Cream dip, or cinnamon sugar on the side.


    By the way, the lovely serving dishes were made by some very creative students at Impressions Art Studio in Singapore, who offer batik, ceramic and canvas painting in a bright and cheerful room on the second floor of an historic shophouse. Thank you Anna and Raquel for loaning these dishes for my post today!


    Kulinarya Cooking Club was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colourful cuisine. Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino Food as we do.

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Where's the Beef?

    Here are two great Asian beef dishes - one requires patience, the other speed.

    After a disappointing first try at making Beef Rendang a couple of weeks ago, this recipe is a winner, adapted from RasaMalaysia's Easy Asian Recipes. Rendang is a Malaysian/Indonesian stew, made with fragrant spices and coconut milk, simmered slowly until the sauce is reduced to a luxurious gravy. Don't make this if you're in a hurry - it will take at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours to tenderize the beef and thicken the gravy - but it is guaranteed to be well worth your patience!




    Beef Rendang


    700g beef rib cap, or boneless beef short ribs, cubed
    (use a cut of meat with some marbling, a lean cut will become too dry and tough)
    3 tablespoons cooking oil
    1 teaspoon five-spice powder
    1 lemon grass, halved and pounded once
    1 cup coconut milk
    1 cup water
    2 teaspoons tamarind pulp
    (soak tamarind paste in water, mash and remove seeds, then strain)
    (if not available, you could substitute this with lime juice)
    6 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
    6 tablespoons dessicated coconut, dry-fried until lightly toasted
    1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
    1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt, to taste

    for the spice paste:
    5 shallots, chopped
    1 inch piece galangal, peeled and chopped
    3 lemongrass stalks (white part only), chopped
    5 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
    10 dried red chilies (soak in warm water and seeded), chopped


    Blend spice paste ingredients until very fine.

    In a casserole or other heavy bottomed pot, fry the spice paste and 5-spice powder in oil until fragrant. Add the beef and lemongrass, and mix well with the sauteed spice paste. Pour in the coconut milk, tamarind pulp, and water. Stir well for about 5 minutes. Add the kaffir lime leaves, toasted coconut, salt and sugar. Mix well and let simmer on low, covered tightly, for about 1 hour.

    Remove lid and let it cover the pot only halfway. Continue simmering on low for another 45 minutes to an hour, stirring the beef occasionally. Turn off the heat once the meat is tender and the gravy is almost reduced (this will continue to thicken as the dish begins to cool down). Adjust your salt and sugar to taste.

    Serve with steamed rice. Save some for leftovers the next day - the flavors intensify overnight!


    The second recipe is for Stir-Fried Beef with Kailan (Chinese Broccoli), adapted from Christopher Tan's cookbook Shiok! As with all stir-fries, once your prep work is done, cooking is done swiftly.




    Stir-Fried Beef with Kailan


    250g beef sirloin, sliced thinly
    300g kailan (chinese brocolli)
    2 teaspoons cornstarch
    1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
    3 tablespoons shaoxing wine
    vegetable oil for frying
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon ginger, minced
    2 tablespoons oyster sauce
    1 tablespoon sesame oil
    freshly ground black pepper
    4 tablespoons water


    Wash and dry kailan, then cut into 2 inch lengths. Blanch vegetables in boiling water for maximum 2 minutes, then drain and dry well.

    Mix cornstarch, soy sauce and 1 1/2 tablespoons shaoxing wine. Pour marinade onto beef and mix well.

    Pour oil in a wok and heat until just smoking. Fry garlic and ginger, and immediately add beef, stir-frying quickly so the pieces separate and cook evenly.

    Add the remaining wine, oyster sauce, sesame oil, pepper and water, mix well. As soon as the sauce thickens, add the blanched kailan and toss well with the beef. Serve immediately with steamed white rice.


    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Mad Dash

    The 4-day Chinese New Year weekend is the only time when shops close in this otherwise consumer-friendly paradise. Our neighborhood grocer calls and reminds us to send him our list for the long weekend, just to make sure we don't panic when food runs out. I feel like a hoarder! I make a last minute dash to our fishmonger, and grab a can of crabmeat, which I use for one of our favorite pasta dishes, based on one of the many wonderful recipes I learned at an Italian cooking class many, many years ago. There were no hand-outs given before class, so we would furiously take notes as the teacher whizzed through her repertoire. My well-stained notebook is a cherished archive of favorites, filled with scribbled recipes such as this....




    Capellini with Crab and Roasted Red Peppers

    1 can (450g) crabmeat
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 bunch Italian parsley, minced
    1 small red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and diced
    olive oil
    1/2 cup white wine
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    freshly ground pepper or dash of chili flakes

    for tomato sauce:
    2 cans Italian chopped tomatoes
    1/2 onion, diced
    2-3 large basil leaves, chopped
    olive oil
    salt, pepper and sugar to taste



    Make the tomato sauce by sauteing the onions in olive oil until translucent. Add in the chopped tomatoes, basil leaves, salt, pepper and sugar, and a splash of red wine (if available), and simmer for about 30 minutes.

    In another pan, saute the garlic and parsley in olive oil until fragrant. Add the crabmeat and roasted red peppers. Season with salt and pepper (or chili flakes). Pour in the white wine and simmer until just reduced. Add the freshly made tomato sauce and mix well.

    Prepare pasta according to package instructions (make enough for 3-4 people).

    Pour drained pasta into the sauce and mix thoroughly. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil just before serving. Serve with lemon wedges if desired.