Friday, July 29, 2011

Saucy Steamed Chicken with Bacon Strips

This dish is based on one of the recipes that my mum wrote down for me a few years ago, and I have been cooking this quite often since then. It's one of those things that goes down quickly and easily with a big bowl/plate of rice, especially doused in that delicious sweet and salty gravy. And I know the kids will be happy eating one of their staple chicken-broccoli dinners.

In this dish, the chicken is sliced and layered with strips of bacon, then steamed briefly until just cooked. A thick gravy is then poured over the dish which then coats everything with this luscious sauce that's really tasty with the broccoli too. The chicken is moist, tender and juicy, and has absorbed some of the goodness from the bacon (and you can use any bacon you like - I happened to have double-smoked bacon in the fridge!). This is an easy and delicious one-pot dish that is sure to be a hit with the family!

Saucy Steamed Chicken with Bacon Strips


500g chicken thigh fillets, cut into strips (you should get 16 strips altogether)
130g (about 2 pieces) of bacon, rind removed, cut into 16 strips
1 cup broccoli florets (or substitute with spinach), blanched in salted boiling water

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp water

1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
3/4 cup water

1/2 tbsp cornflour + 1 tbsp water


Combine chicken with marinade. Brush a little oil onto a round 9 inch dish. Arrange the chicken and bacon slices around the dish in alternate layers, leaving a space in the centre for the broccoli. Leave to marinade for 15 minutes, and in the meantime, prepare a wok/pot for steaming. Steam the chicken for 12-15 minutes until cooked.

To make the sauce, heat up 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil in a small pan. Add sauce ingredients, simmer, then stir in thickening solution and bring to a boil. Pour gravy over the chicken and garnish with broccoli. If using spinach, line them around the edge of the dish. Serve hot with steamed jasmine rice.

Tip: To maintain the bright green colour of the vegetables, blanch them in boiling water with some salt, sugar and oil. Then refresh them under cold running water.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cottony Soft Swiss Roll

Coffee Swiss Roll with Vanilla Buttercream

I made a coffee swiss roll yesterday using ovalette in the recipe. Ovalette is a sponge stabilizer that gives the cake a uniform and fine texture. This version uses 5 yolks and 3 egg whites, and I'm not sure if it's because I didn't beat the mixture long enough, but the cake was a little dense, although it was pretty soft and melts in your mouth once you bite into it. Maybe it's because it uses more egg yolks, causing it to be more eggy and dense. I don't know really. Hmm.... I'll just have to experiment with a different recipe next time.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Quick and Easy: Flatbread

Here's a simple recipe for unleavened bread that is a great accompaniment to curries. I made this to go with my leftover vegetable curry from last night.

Flatbread recipe
(Makes 3)


1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp melted butter/ghee
100ml milk (approx)
Ghee/butter for frying


In a large bowl, combine the ingredients above and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Add more flour or water if necessary to achieve the right consistency. The dough should be soft and pliable. Leave to rest for 10 minutes. Divide into 3 pieces. On a floured surface, roll or press out the dough into a flat thin round, holding it up and stretching it with your fingers as you go along. You can opt to sprinkle sesame seeds, cumin seeds, herbs, spices or anything you wish. Press it into the dough so as to stick.

Place a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp ghee/butter. Fry the bread one at a time, until bubbles appear on the surface. Brush the top with ghee, and flip over to brown the other side. Transfer to a plate and serve hot with your favourite curry!

Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns

Soft, warm, buttery and sugary buns

I have discovered the joy of baking bread, not to mention that it's easier to make compared to baking a cake. From kneading the dough to a smooth elastic finish, watching it grow into a beautiful soft mound of puffiness, to the final stage when the tops turn golden brown in the oven, it can be quite a therapeutic and gratifying experience.

I came across the recipe for these buns on the website for King Arthur Flour and immediately knew that I had to make them one day. I had some potato flour in the pantry which I had been meaning to use in baking bread. Apparently, adding potato starch to the dough helps to retain the moisture in the bread when it is baked. And indeed, these buns were soft and moist, with buttery and crunchy sugar-crusted tops. I sliced them in half and placed some butter in between, and Z polished off two whole buns. We all love our butter!

Please find the recipe below:

Brushed the tops with melted butter and sprinkled with granulated sugar.
The "bread ring" is brushed with honey and topped with sesame seeds and chopped almonds,
then brushed with melted butter too!

Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

3 1/2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons (7g) instant yeast
2 tablespoons potato flour or 1/4 cup instant potato flakes
3 tablespoons Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk (I used regular milk powder)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons soft butter
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk

2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tbsp sugar
Sesame seeds
Water for brushing


  1. Combine all of the dough ingredients in a large bowl, and mix and knead — using your hands, a stand mixer, or a bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, smooth dough.
  2. Place the dough in a lightly greased container — an 8-cup measure works well here — and allow the dough to rise for 60 to 90 minutes in a warm draught-free place, until it's just about doubled in bulk.
  3. Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.
  4. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces, by dividing in half, then in halves again, etc. Round each piece into a smooth ball.
  5. Lightly grease two 8" round cake pans. Space 8 buns in each pan. Can you use 9" round cake pans, or a 9" x 13" pan? Sure; the buns just won't nestle together as closely, so their sides will be a bit more baked.
  6. Cover the pans, and allow the buns to rise till they're crowded against one another and quite puffy, about 60 to 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 180°C.
  7. Uncover the buns, brush with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake them for 22 to 24 minutes, until they're golden brown on top and the edges of the center bun spring back lightly when you touch it.
  8. Remove the buns from the oven, brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. After a couple of minutes, turn them out of the pan onto a cooling rack.
  9. Serve warm with butter. Store leftovers well-wrapped, at room temperature. Warm up in the microwave for 10-20 seconds before serving.
Yield: 16 buns.

Soft, moist and chewy goodness

Bread ring with sweet pecan butter filling

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Indian-style Vegetable Curry

This is a light vegetable curry cooked with mustard seeds, tamarind and a touch of coconut milk. It's something my mum usually makes when I go back home to visit. I found this curry to be the perfect accompaniment for Roti Jala which I prepared for dinner today. But it's just as delicious with steamed rice or Indian breads. Here is the recipe:

Indian-style Vegetable Curry


500g chicken thighs or backbone (bone and skin on)
1-2 stalks curry leaves
3 cups water
1 1/2 tbsp dried tamarind pulp, soaked in 1/2 cup hot water and juice strained
2/3 cup coconut milk
Vegetable oil, for frying

Vegetables (cut into approx 1 inch cubes):
1 cup carrots
1 cup cauliflower
1 cup long beans
1 1/2 cup eggplant
2 potatoes
2 tomatoes

Blend finely:
2 medium onions
2 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger

Spice mix:
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground fennel
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp mustard seeds
2-3 tbsp chilli powder (or ground chilli paste)

2-3 tsp salt (to taste)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder


  1. Heat up vegetable oil in a large pot and fry onions, garlic, ginger and the spice mix until fragrant (about 4-5 minutes).  Add chicken and sear all over in the onion mixture. Add curry leaves and water. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Add the tamarind juice and bring to a boil again before adding seasoning to taste.
  2. Add carrots and potatoes, simmer for 8-10 minutes until almost cooked, then add the other vegetables. Bring to a boil and simmer until all vegetables are just cooked. Add coconut milk, bring to a brief gentle simmer, stirring occasionally (to avoid curdling). Check and adjust seasoning if necessary. Dish out into a bowl and serve with steamed rice, roti jala or your favourite Indian bread.

Roti Jala (Lacy Coconut Crepes)

Roti jala, accompanied by a delicious Indian-style vegetable curry

Roti jala is a light coconut crepe that is usually served with curry, and is commonly found in Malaysian night markets or road-side stalls. They are so soft and smooth that it goes down very quickly and easily with the curry. I had to stop myself after eating the third one, while G didn't realise he had eaten six of them until I asked him. The "holes" in the crepe makes a difference in the texture and overall experience of eating it (really!). So, I really recommend that you get a roti jala mould (which is probably only available in Malaysia) or, perhaps try to borrow one if possible. Otherwise, get creative!

I made an Indian-style vegetable curry to go with it and it was absolutely perfect, thanks to mum for the "recipe"!

Roti Jala Recipe


1 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
200ml coconut milk (I used Aroy-D canned coconut milk)
150ml water
Vegetable oil to grease

Roti jala mould
1 large bowl
Measuring cup/jug
Large non-stick frying pan


  1. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add beaten eggs and gradually whisk in the coconut milk, followed by the water. The mixture should look like a thin batter that flows through the roti jala mould in a continuous stream. Adjust the amount of water used depending on how thick or thin the coconut milk is. Use a sieve to strain the batter into a jug.
  2. Heat the pan on medium heat and use a paper towel to grease the pan with a little oil.
  3. Place the mould over the pan and fill it with the batter, and "draw" circular lacy designs in the pan. The crepe should be thin and lacy. When cooked (about 2 minutes) and the bottom is lightly browned, fold it into a quarter and transfer onto a plate. Grease the pan again and repeat with the remaining batter. Makes about 10 crepes. Serve with your favourite curry!
Note: As I used canned coconut milk, it does tend to be slightly thicker than fresh coconut milk. You may adjust the amount of coconut milk and water used to your preference as long as the right consistency is achieved. Test it first to make sure it flows through the mould in a continuous stream.

Roti jala mould

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mac and Cheese

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Quick and Easy: Stir-fried Choko with Glass Noodles

Chokoes or chayote (not related to the coyote or the Road Runner show) are akin to green apples, although they more bland tasting than tart. When cooked, the texture is similar to that of turnip and reminds me of eating popiah (spring roll) filling. Here is a simple way to prepare chokoes with glass noodles, with simple flavours but delicious eaten with rice or even on its own.

Stir-fried Choko with Glass Noodles


1 large choko (chayote), peeled, deseeded and julienned
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 chinese black mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water, stalks removed and caps thinly sliced
50g bean thread noodles, soaked in water until softened
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1/2 tsp light soy sauce

1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp sesame oil


Heat up 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a pan/wok and fry the garlic for 20 seconds. Toss in the mushrooms, then add the chokoes and stir fry for 8-10 minutes until they are almost tender. Add 2 tbsp water halfway through frying.

Add the chicken stock powder, soy sauce and salt, followed by the noodles. Add 2 tbsp water and fry for a minute until noodles are cooked. Push the mixture aside and pour in the beaten egg. Scramble lightly and fold the mixture through the egg until well combined. Add pepper and sesame oil. Dish out, garnish with fried shallots and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stir-fried Beef in Black Bean Sauce

This is a dish commonly seen on the menus of chinese take-away restaurants and at the food court. I never order it because it's just something that can be easily prepared at home. Anyway, I find that they throw in too much onions and shallots, which will usually be left behind on my plate at the end of the meal. The version I made here uses black vinegar which gives it a slight tang and sweetness, and the sesame oil added at the end brings the whole dish together.

Stir-fried Beef in Black Bean Sauce


400g beef sirloin steak, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch ginger, grated
2 stalks spring onion, cut into 2 inch lengths
1 small onion, cut into wedges
1 cup broccoli/capsicum/sugar snap peas/string beans etc

1 tbsp light soy sauce
Dash of pepper
1/2 tbsp cornflour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp water

Sauce (combine in a bowl):
1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp chinese black vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
1/2 cup water

3 tbsp black beans (from a jar)
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp water


Combine beef with marinade ingredients and leave for 1/2 hour. Pour 1 tbsp vegetable oil into a pan/wok on high heat and fry the beef until browned. Drain off excess oil, remove and put aside.

With the remaining oil in the pan (~1 tbsp), add the ginger, then onions and garlic. Fry for a minute, then add vegetables (broccoli and string beans should be blanched first) and fry until almost cooked. Add black beans, then combined sauce ingredients and simmer briefly. Stir in the cornflour mixture and bring to a boil. Add the beef to the pan and toss in the sauce on high heat. Add more water if the sauce dries up. Sprinkle with black pepper and sesame oil, and toss through the spring onions. Remove from heat and transfer onto a serving plate. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Note: You can substitute the beef with sliced pork belly. Cook the whole pork belly in boiling salted water and let it simmer for 2 hours until tender. Remove and cool before cutting into thin slices. Then fry using the recipe above.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Soft Blueberry Sticky Buns

These wonderfully soft, sticky and sweet blueberry rolls are from a recipe by Anna Olson. The recipe for the dough includes butter and cream cheese, which gives it a nice soft texture and a rich and creamy taste. I tweaked the recipe a little and added 1 1/2 tbsp potato flour, although I'm not sure if the results would be the same if I omitted it. In any case, it's delicious!

Blueberry Sticky Buns
by Anna Olson


  • 2 teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 4 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 egg room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature



  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries



  1. Using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, dissolve yeast in water and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add milk, egg and sugar and blend. Add flour, salt and nutmeg and mix for 1 minute to combine. Add butter and cream cheese and knead for 5 minutes on medium speed.
  3. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rest 1 hour in a draught-free place.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a rectangle 1/2- inch thick. Spread remaining filling over the dough, sprinkle with blueberries and roll up lengthwise. Slice dough into 12 equal portions and arrange them in muffin tin.
  6. Allow to rise for 1/2 hour. Bake 30 minutes, and turn out onto a plate while still warm. Let it cool down a little before serving.


Combine butter, sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon. Spoon a tablespoonful of filling into bottom of each cup of a greased 12-cup muffin tin. (I used a 20cm round cake pan).

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Crispy Crab Cakes

This is based on a recipe by Margaret Fulton. It uses crab (of course), milk-soaked breadcrumbs, parsley, worchestershire sauce, mayonnaise and baking powder (which apparently makes the crust more crunchy). This is my first time making and eating crab cakes, and it's delicious with lemon and tartare sauce. I used Phillips Crab Meat Claw which tasted pretty good, and so convenient compared to cooking and picking your own crab meat!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Almond and Pretzel Butterscotch Brittle

I was planning to make florentines and found this recipe by Pino Locantro which looked absolutely divine. As I was baking the first tray in the oven, I realised that I was meant to bake the florentines in egg rings (and not just use the rings to shape them). As I had only one egg ring, there was no way I could make florentines, unless perhaps I resorted to using muffin trays instead. The mixture had spread out on the baking tray and began to bubble and caramelize. I took them out just in time (except for some burnt bits around the edges) and waited for them (well, "it" would be more appropriate now that it was just one big piece of brittle) to cool. I must say these things are really addictive! Light, crisp and not at all hard like regular toffee brittle. It was sweet, salty, buttery and delicious. The recipe uses almond flakes and glace cherries, but I also added some chopped pretzels into the mixture, and they were good! I reckon these will be great served with vanilla ice-cream!

Almond and Pretzel Butterscotch Brittle

150g (5oz) butter (if using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt)150g (5oz) caster sugar
45g (11/2oz) honey
30ml (1⅛fl oz) fresh cream
110g (4oz) (1 cup) almond flakes
A handful of thin salted pretzels, broken into pieces
15g (1/2oz) (2 tbsp) plain flour
70g (2⅛oz) glace cherries, chopped


Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6. Line two baking trays with baking paper, enough to come up the sides.

Combine butter, sugar, honey and cream in a pot or saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and add almond flakes, flour and cherries, stirring continuously for 5 minutes on low heat. Stir in pretzels.

Remove from heat. Spoon half the mixture and spread a thin layer evenly on the baking paper. Leave 2-3 inches on the sides to allow room for the mixture to spread while baking. Bake in oven for approximately 6-8 minutes. The mixture will start to bubble and caramelize. When it turns a medium-brown colour and no longer pale golden, remove the tray from the oven. Leave to cool before breaking it up into pieces. Alternatively, you can cut it up into squares while it's still warm. Store in an airtight container.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Japanese Rice with Chicken (Tori Gohan)

This is a simple one pot meal that is quick and easy to prepare. It is made with Japanese short-grained rice (sushi rice) flavoured with chicken broth and sake, which gives it a hint of sweetness. I added diced chicken, mushrooms, frozen mixed vegetables and broccoli to the dish as the kids just love their rice-with-chicken-and-broccoli in almost any form.

Japanese Rice with Chicken (Tori Gohan)


2 rice cups (360ml) short-grained sushi rice
~2 1/2 cups chicken stock (or enough to come up to the '2' mark in the rice cooker)
200g chicken thigh/drumstick fillet, diced into cubes
2-3 dried mushrooms, soaked in hot water, stems discarded and caps sliced thinly
1 tbsp mirin
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sake
Pinch of salt
Diced vegetables of your choice
Chopped spring onions for garnish


Marinate chicken with mirin and 2 tbsp light soy sauce.

Wash the rice and rinse several times until water is clear. Drain and place in the rice cooker with chicken stock, marinated chicken, sake, 1 tbsp light soy sauce, mushrooms, diced vegetables and a pinch of salt. If using broccoli, add it into the pot 15 minutes before the rice is cooked. Do this quickly without letting too much steam escape from the pot. When cooked, mix well and serve with miso soup. Garnish with spring onions.

To prepare a simple miso soup: Add instant dashi to boiling water, add miso paste (to taste) using a sieve until dissolved. Simmer. Add salt to taste followed by diced cubes of silken tofu. Serve in bowls and garnish with seaweed and spring onions.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pear and Raspberry Cake

This is based on a recipe for Dutch Apple Cake by Rachel Allen, and I have made the apple version a number of times before. It's a light sponge-like cake embedded with a generous amount of sliced apples, and so delicious with whipped cream. The pear and raspberry version of it is just as good, its flavours accentuated with some freshly grated orange rind. The pear has a mildly sweet flavour that is complemented by the tartness of the raspberries. And of course, it goes really well with freshly whipped cream. This is definitely a family favourite that will please even the littlest ones!

Dutch Pear and Raspberry Cake
Adapted from Rachel Allen


  • 2 eggs
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar, plus 15g (1/2oz) extra sugar, for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 90g (3oz) butter
  • 75ml (2 ½ fl oz) milk
  • 125g (4 ½ oz) plain flour
  • Finely grated rind of one orange
  • 2 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 2 small pears
  • 100g frozen/fresh raspberries
  • 150ml thickened cream, softly whipped, to serve


Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF). Line the sides and base of the cake tin (20 x 20cm (8 x 8in) square cake tin) with parchment paper.

Using an electric whisk, whisk the eggs, 175g (6oz) caster sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl until the mixture is thick and mousse-like and the whisk leaves a figure of eight pattern (this will take about 5 minutes).

Melt the butter in a saucepan with the milk, then pour onto the eggs, whisking all the time. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold gently and carefully into the batter so that there are no lumps of flour. Don't overmix the batter. Fold in the orange rind. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface.

Peel and core the pears and cut into thin slices, then arrange them over the batter. They will sink to the bottom (this is meant to happen!). Scatter raspberries on top. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and quickly put in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 180ºC (350ºF), bake for a further 20–25 minutes or until well risen and golden brown.

Allow to cool in the tin, cut into squares and serve warm with softly whipped cream.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Easy Bak Chor Mee (Minced Pork Noodle)

Here is one of my favourite things to eat in Singapore. Egg noodles tossed in a spicy, salty and vinegary (tangy) sauce and topped with pork mince, braised mushrooms and crispy pork lard. Just the thought of it is making me salivate. In my opinion, the key ingredients that make this dish so tasty are Chinkiang black vinegar, pork lard and chilli paste (sambal). I couldn't find the flat mee poh noodles, so I used thin egg noodles instead (mee kia).

It's pretty simple to prepare. My version of it includes fish balls, sliced pork, minced pork, braised chinese black mushrooms, fried wontons (optional) and crispy pork lard. You can make the chilli sauce with dried chillies and garlic, and if you have more time, include shallots, belacan and dried shrimp and fry them into a rich sambal paste. I chose the short-cut way and used Sriracha chilli sauce mixed with a little Indonesian Sambal Bajak. It works pretty well!

Here is the recipe. Be sure to use only Chinkiang black vinegar, and don't forget the crispy bits of pork lard. It just isn't bak chor mee without them!

Bak Chor Mee Recipe


500g thin or flat fresh egg noodles
1 cup beansprouts (optional)
300g pork mince
300g pork belly (with a thick layer of fat on it)
1 small packet fish balls
5 black chinese mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup hot water
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped and fried in 2-3 tbsp oil until light brown and crisp

Pork marinade:
Light soy sauce, salt, pepper, sugar, garlic oil

Braised Mushroom seasoning:
2 tbsp light soy sauce, pinch of salt, sugar, pepper, 1/2 tsp dark soy for colour

Sauce for noodles (1 serving):
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp lard (oil)
1/2 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tbsp chilli sauce (or to taste)
1/2 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar (or to taste)
1/4 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp broth

Spring onions, chopped for garnish
Lettuce leaves (optional)
Sliced red chilli in light soy sauce, to serve (optional)


Prepare the pork belly by separating the lean meat from the fat. Keep the rind on. This is easier done if you freeze the meat for a few hours until firm so it's easier to slice. Dice the fat into small 1cm cubes and put aside. Slice lean pork thinly and mix with pork marinade. Leave for an hour.

Combine minced pork with marinade and 2 tbsp water. Leave for an hour.

Heat up 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil and fry the diced pork fat (lard). Lower the heat and fry slowly until lard is browned and crisp. Transfer to a small heatproof bowl and reserve the oil for the sauce.

Mushrooms: Squeeze out excess water from mushrooms and reserve soaking liquid. Slice thinly. Heat up a little of the garlic oil in a small pot and add mushrooms. Fry briefly, then add the reserved liquid and seasoning. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until cooked.

Assembling the dish:

Boil about 2 cups water in another pot. Cook the fishballs, minced pork and sliced pork, drain and transfer to a bowl. Use this broth for the noodle sauce (you can add some salt and pepper and ikan bilis stock powder to it if you wish).

Bring a big pot of water to a rolling boil and cook beansprouts and noodles for 30 seconds or until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold running tap water, then drop it in the boiling water again for 5 seconds to heat it up. Drain and toss in prepared sauce. Add a few lettuce leaves if used. Place the mushrooms, minced pork, sliced pork, fish balls, fried garlic and some crispy fried lard over the noodles. Add a dash of white pepper, garnish with spring onions and, if desired, serve with sliced red chillies.

Japanese Curry Soba Noodles

I love eating Japanese curry with either rice or noodles. I used S&B Japanese curry mix to make a chicken curry, and boiled some dashi stock with soy and mirin for the noodle broth. The broth and curry are combined with the noodles to make a delicious curry soba meal! Even better with tempura, fortunately I had leftover eggplant fritters (click for recipe) from the previous day. So I baked them in the oven to crisp them up again and tossed them over the noodles. So yummy!

Japanese Curry Soba Noodles
(Serves 3-4)


Dashi broth (combine and bring to a boil):
1 sachet (5g each) instant dashi stock granules (dashi-no-moto)
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
Salt to taste

2 tbsp vegetable oil
3.5oz packet S&B Japanese curry mix
2 onions, 1 chopped and 1 cut into wedges
600g chicken thigh fillets, cut into cubes
1/2 red apple, finely diced or grated (optional)
2 cups water (add more later if necessary)
1-2 carrots
1-2 potatoes
1 small capsicum (optional)
1 tbsp honey

Soba (buckwheat) noodles (or substitute with udon)
Chopped spring onions


Heat up oil in a large pan and fry onions and chicken. After chicken is browned, add diced apple and fry for a minute before adding water and carrots. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add honey, potatoes and capsicum and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. Break up the curry cubes and add to the pan. Stir until melted and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the bottom from burning. Add more water if desired to adjust the consistency of the curry.

Cook the soba noodles in rolling boiling water for 3 minutes or until cooked (follow packet instructions). Transfer into a bowl and ladle some dashi broth over it. Then ladle an equal amount of curry into the bowl. Garnish with spring onions and serve immediately. Even more delicious with tempura! Any leftover curry is always a welcome treat with steamed rice!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Eggplant Fritters with Chilli and Sweet Soy

I used to order food from an Indonesian caterer back when I was studying in uni/college. I vividly recall this dish of soggy battered eggplants doused in a black soy sauce with chillies and onions. It didn't look very appealing at all, and heating it up in the microwave didn't do much justice to the already well-soaked eggplants. However, after eating it almost every week for dinner, I grew to like it and started looking forward to it each time, along with sayur assam and other home-cooked Indonesian dishes.

So I attempted to replicate this dish based on memory, and it's a pretty simple dish. The difficult part, perhaps, is in the deep-frying, or should I say, washing up after the deep-frying. But it is still one of my favourite eggplant dishes, and I absolutely love eggplant, as long as they are cooked properly, and not spongey.

Here is the recipe for the fritters and the sauce. If you plan on eating it straight away, then pour the sauce over the fritters. Otherwise, you can serve the sauce separately for dipping. The fritters are also delicious eaten on their own, or dipped in chilli sauce.

Eggplant Fritters with Chilli and Sweet Soy


1 large eggplant (about 500g), cut into 1cm slices

1 cup self-raising flour
3 tbsp rice flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup water (approx)

2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, sliced
2 red chillies, sliced
1/3 cup ABC kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy)
1/3 cup water
Salt to taste


Arrange the slices of eggplant on a large tray lined with absorbent kitchen paper. Sprinkle salt over the eggplant and cover with more kitchen paper or cloth that will absorb the moisture from the eggplants. Leave for 30 minutes and wipe off excess salt and moisture.

Combine dry ingredients for the batter in a bowl. Slowly add water and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the oil. The batter should not be too watery that it can't coat the eggplant properly.

Heat up sufficient oil for deep-frying in a large wok/pan. Dry off excess moisture from the eggplant. Coat the eggplant in batter and lower it into the hot oil. Fry on medium heat until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper.

To prepare the sauce, heat up 1-2 tbsp oil in a pan and fry garlic and onions until the onions soften, then add chillies. Pour in the soy and water, bring to a boil and simmer briefly until sauce is slightly reduced. Season with a pinch of salt. Serve with eggplant fritters and steamed white rice.

Deep fried eggplant in crispy batter

Food Memory: Vanilla-Lime Ice-Cream Jelly

When I was little (somewhere between ages 5 and 10 I think), my dad used to bring me to the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant (now known as just KFC, arousing many conspiracy theories), which was one of two fast food restaurants in my hometown at the time. It was always a treat for me to go there. It was a pretty big outlet - twice the size of the local fried chicken outlet, McDota. I found the chicken was crispier and tasted better. The fries were also made from real potatoes, unlike the soggy sweet potato fries sold by its competitor. And of course, it had my favourite ICE-CREAM JELLY! It was flavoured jelly (or jello) set in a tall (everything seemed bigger back then) milkshake glass with a scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice-cream on top. I was intrigued by this fantastic combination that I loved so much and it has been one of my fondest food memories since then!

I happened to have some lime jelly in the fridge that I made a few days ago after Z kept bugging me to make some. We also bought some Nestle Connoisseur vanilla ice-cream yesterday after seeing it on sale at the supermarket. Perfect! I brought out the plastic milkshake glass that we got from the Easter Show a few years ago, scooped all the jelly into it and topped it with some rich and creamy vanilla ice-cream. I tossed in some strawberries and scattered Hundreds and Thousands over it to complete the "look".

When I first ate it, it instantly hit me that it tasted just like "Split" ice-cream! At least that's what I think it was called. It was ice-cream on a stick, with green lime-flavoured ice outside and a creamy vanilla centre. The perfect combination! I remember eating these things a long time ago, and getting my teeth frozen biting the ice to get through to the middle. Well, today the kids bought more packets of jelly mix from the supermarket, though not green this time. I have a feeling that tub of vanilla ice-cream in the freezer might not last very long...:)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Easy Buttermilk Pancakes

I had some leftover buttermilk that I had used to make fried chicken last week. So I thought it would be a great idea to make some buttermilk pancakes. I am usually skeptical about making pancakes as they usually turn out dense or cakey. But these are light, fluffy and delicious, and so easy to make. I had some black/blueberries in the freezer, so I cooked the berries in some freshly squeezed orange juice, added a little sugar and cooked it down to a nice syrup. Served that alongside some blueberry swirl yoghurt with the pancakes and the kids and I enjoyed it for brunch!

Buttermilk Pancakes


1 cup self-raising flour, sifted 
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg


Combine sugar, bicarbonate of soda and flour in a bowl. Whisk buttermilk and egg and stir into flour mixture. Brush a little butter on a heated pan and using a ladle, pour 2 tbsp of batter into the pan in one go (so you get a nice even colour on the bottom of the pancake). Fry about 2 minutes on medium heat until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip over and fry another 2 minutes or so until browned. Repeat with the rest of the batter. Serve with your favourite topping.

Blueberries, Milk and Oat Crumble Bar

I remember having a most delicious blueberry crumble at Lake Agnes Teahouse over at Lake Louise in Banff National Park many years ago. It was a generous portion with a sweet and luscious blueberry filling sandwiched in between crisp and light oatmeal crumble. It made the long hike up to the Big Beehive worth it.

Here is a recipe for Blueberry Crumble, although not exactly the same as the one I remembered, but still delicious. Smells like butterscotch! It's a recipe that is easy enough for the kids to help out with.

Blueberries, Milk and Oat Crumble Bar
Adapted from Celebreaty4recipes


3 cups fresh/frozen blueberries
1/2 cup  sugar
2 tbsp orange juice
Finely grated rind of one orange
1 tbsp tapioca starch (or substitute with cornflour)

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup plain flour
1/4 cup milk powder
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
120g butter, melted


Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 9 inch square pan with baking paper. Lay out the rolled oats on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 4-5 minutes.

Combine filling ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until the mixture reduces to a thick consistency.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients for the crumble. Then, add melted butter and mix with a spatula until well combined. Spoon one third of the crumble mixture into the baking pan and press firmly to form a crust. Bake in oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and spoon filling evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the top with remaining crumble mixture. Bake for 25 minutes or until brown and crisp. Cool before cutting into squares. Dust with icing sugar if desired.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Going Greek with Moussaka

This is my first attempt at making Moussaka, which is like lasagna but uses lamb mince, potatoes and eggplant. I couldn't resist trying it out after seeing it on Masterchef, and it's really good! I'm salivating just thinking about it now. Click here for the recipe. You can substitute the keflagraviera cheese with parmesan instead.