The new year celebrations have come and gone. Many of us have returned to work and the Christmas break seemed so long ago. The gyms are packed full of people attempting to keep to their new year resolutions of losing weight, getting fit etc etc. January is probably the month where carb intake is the lowest due to enthusiastic weight watchers who stuffed one too many roasted spuds and christmas pudding. Don’t quote me, i’m making stuff up, because I am one of those who tries very, very hard to go the non-carb or low-carb way.
Safe to say, I haven’t been very successful. When I’m after a quick and easy one dish meal, I tend to turn to rice or noodles. Hey I can’t help it – I’m asian!
So I try to be as healthy as possible, loading the dish with more vegetables and protein. This cabbage and chicken pilaf is a quick and easy one-pan meal. If you’re really not in the mood for cleaning up either, you can eat directly from the pan too – no one’s judging!
A pilaf is a rice dish (usually, but not always of Indian influence) cooked with vegetables and broth. It’s versatile, so you can chuck in protein like chicken or other meats or seafood. A way to describe it is like an Indian paella? Just with different flavours and spices and much less labour intensive and time consuming.
Simple ingredients, cooked in 30 minutes or less! Great mid-week meal.
CABBAGE & CHICKEN PILAF
3 fillets of skinless and boneless chicken thighs, sliced
1/2 a head of white cabbage, coursely shredded
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup of frozen peas
1 1/2 cups of long grain white rice (you can use basmati rice too)
2 cups of unsalted chicken stock
2 tsp of curry powder
1 tsp of ground ginger
1 tsp of ground cumin
salt & pepper to taste
light soy sauce to taste (optional)
In a 30cm fry pan or cast iron braiser, heat a splash of vegetable oil. Brown chicken pieces until just lightly browned.
Add in ground ginger, cumin, curry powder, garlic and rice. Stir to mix ingredients well and ensure rice is well coated with spices. Add in cabbage, mix well and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add in chicken stock and frozen peas. Mix through and cover pan. Cook for about 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Season to taste. Sprinkle with crispy fried shallots before serving (optional).
There’s quite a bit of confusion when it comes to the identification of the root vegetable that is found in this dish. In Southeast Asia, we call this a yam cake which will probably mislead all my American friends to thinking it’s like thanksgiving-style sweet yams. Nah-uh. Firstly, yam as we know it in Southeast Asia is really taro. The yam that is used by my Northern Hemisphere friends for thanksgiving is known in Southeast Asia as sweet potato. Confused yet? In Australia, most people know what I’m referring to when I say yam, or taro. And sweet potato is simply, sweet potato.
For the sake of my own sanity (and probably yours too), I’ll refer to this dish as a taro cake. Commonly found in Southeast Asia as a savory snack – steamed, with loads of fried shrimp topping like the one featured here, or sliced up and pan-fried. The latter style is also common in dim sum / yum cha restaurants.
My personal preference is for the steamed version with a generous amount of the crisp topping consisting of fried shallots, dried shrimp, spring onions and red chilies (it’s the best part!!). The dense, savory cake is packed full of cubed taro and more dried shrimp. Best eaten warm with chili sauce and sweet caramel soy sauce (kecap manis).
My mouth is watering as I write this. Darn.
STEAMED TARO CAKE
Recipe from Rasa Malaysia
For the cake:
• 1½ bowls yam, diced into 1-2cm cubes
• 1 bowl rice flour
• 2 tablespoons wheat starch
• 2 bowls water
• ½ bowl dried shrimp
• 5 shallots, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon five spice powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon white pepper
For the topping:
• deep fried shallots (you can buy packs of ready fried ones in Asian groceries)
• spring onions, sliced finely
• red chillies, sliced finely
• dried shrimps, chopped finely and shallow fried till crisp
(I do not have quantities for the topping, prepare as much or as little as you want (I love it, so I have an abundance of it) – it’s a must-have for this dish. Yummy!
- Heat a pan over medium high heat, and fry the shallots and dried shrimp until they become aromatic. This should take about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the cubed yam to the pan, and fry with the shallots and dried shrimp mixture until cooked and brown. Best way to test – eat a piece of the taro to make sure it’s cooked through and no longer al dente.
- In a separate bowl, mix the rice flour, wheat starch, salt, pepper, five spice powder and water, and stir until it forms a smooth paste.
- Add the flour mixture into the pan slowly, stirring continuously until a thick paste forms.
- Pour the mixture into a heatproof bowl/plate and steam over high heat for 45 minutes, or until cooked.
- To serve, sprinkle generously with deep fried shallots, chopped spring onions, sliced chillies and chopped dried shrimp. Drizzle with chilli sauce and kecap manis.
Bean curd puffs, also known as tofu puffs or ‘tau pok’ to many southeast asians are one of my favourite variants of the humble bean curd. The healthier version of the bean curd or tofu is dense and has very high water content. The puff version is deep fried, hollow-ish and dry which is very much like a sponge and when cooked in sauce or soup, it soaks up all the wonderful flavours and is totally delicious. I love them in soups, in laksa, sliced and stir fried or in this case – stuffed!
Stuffed bean curd puffs is considered ‘street food’ and is quite commonly found in Singapore or Malaysia food centres. The puff is split in half, lightly toasted and then filled with healthy goodies like julienned cucumber, bean shoots and slices of boiled egg and served with a creamy satay (peanut) sauce. The freshness of the cucumber and bean shoots, the crisp outer tofu shell and the nutty yumminess of the satay sauce is simply a divine combination.
It’s so easy to prepare, very cost-effective and rather healthy as a meal in itself – unless you’re like me where I am over-generous with the satay sauce and I totally drench the little puffs. Oh yum. Many people enjoy this dish as a starter, but it’s surprisingly satisfying as a main. A great summer dish.
Stuffed Bean Curd Puffs
Recipe for 4 as a starter or 2 as main
1 packet tofu puffs (about 14 – 16 pieces)
100 g beans shoots, blanched
1/2 cucumber, julienned
2 large hard boiled eggs, sliced
2 tbsp roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Slice the tofu puffs almost all the way through, lightly toast or grill on both sides. Stuff the toasted puffs with equal amount of cucumber and bean shoots, then top with sliced egg and chopped peanuts. Serve immediately with a side of satay sauce.
I used ready made satay sauce this time, but if you fancy making some yourself, here’s a quick and easy recipe from a previous post.
I’m currently hooked on an Aussie reality TV show called My Kitchen Rules. Oh. My. Gosh. Real live drama and cooking competition combined makes great after-work entertainment. Watching this programme really shows how much post-editing TV stations do…it’s so obvious how they pick a couple to focus on each week and make them the ones to love or hate. You should see the real-time comments on Twitter about the contestants and the nicknames they are given. Hilarious! It’s double the fun – watching and tweeting that is! Yeah, I’m hooked – big time!
Anyway, this post has nothing to do with the show I’m just a little distracted. And I’m currently craving for frozen yogurt. Again, not the point of this post.
We’re talking about corn. Sweet, succulent corn – in a can. Don’t diss the canned stuff cos they are good! I always try to have a couple of cans stocked in the pantry because these little, golden morsels of goodness are very versatile and handy for when you’re out of fresh food because you haven’t made a trip to the markets. By you, I mean me. Slack much?
I’ve made these spiced corn fritters before and they are so easy and so good. It’s one of the few vegetarian dishes that I make which the hubs has no qualms about – he actually really enjoys it and doesn’t go “where’s the meat?”. It’s usually served as a snack or appetiser, but make enough of them and it’s a complete, yummy and (rather) healthy meal.
Spiced Sweet Corn Fritters with Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce
Adapted from Simply Recipes
Makes about 16 – 20 fritters
- 3/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons red chili pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups of corn kernels
- 4 spring onions, finely sliced (about half a cup)
- Canola, or peanut oil (a high smoke point oil) for frying
Make the dipping sauce by combining all of the sauce ingredients into a small saucepan. Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium high, let boil for 5-10 minutes or so, until the mixture becomes somewhat syrupy. Remove from heat and let cool. The sauce should continue to thicken as it cools. If it becomes too thick, you can add a little water to it to thin it out a bit.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, ground coriander, and ground cumin in a medium bowl. Add egg, lemon juice and water. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the corn and spring onions. Stir until just combined.
Heat a large frying pan on medium high heat. Add enough oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. When oil is hot (shimmering not smoking), spoon about 2 heaping tablespoons worth of fritter batter into the pan to form one fritter, patting it down with the back of the spoon as soon as it is in the pan. Work in batches. Leave about 1/2 inch between the fritters in the pan. Let cook about 2-3 minutes on each side, flipping the fritters when they are nicely browned on one side. When browned on the other side, remove the fritters to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
Serve hot with dipping sauce.
This summer in Melbourne is a true reminder of the song by Crowded House – Four seasons in one day. From blazing hot 38C days to chilly 15C. To make the best of it, I enjoy myself by cooking and eating cool summer salads to rich, warming soups all in the same season. Awesome isn’t it?
On one of those stinking hot days (i’m not very good in extreme heat – picture Oscar the grouch scenarios) I really didn’t feel like cooking or doing anything for that matter but I really wanted a light, healthy and delicious lunch. So despite the non-desire to cook, I left behind my personal indent on the couch and moved sloth-like to the kitchen to whip this dish up. And I was glad I did. I love dishes that require such minimal cooking but yield great results. There’s no sweating over a hot stove either – thanks to whoever invented electric kettles and microwave ovens!
PRAWN, FENNEL AND TOFU SALAD
20 medium prawns, shells removed (I used frozen ones)
150g fresh firm tofu (bean curd), cubed
1 small fennel, sliced finely
1 red chilli, seeds removed and sliced finely
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp crispy fried shallots (available from asian stores)
handful of fresh herbs (I used basil and parsley), leaves picked
100g glass noodles (bean thread vermicelli)
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2cm piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
Prepare dressing by whisking lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, sesame oil, vinegar and ginger until all the sugar has dissolved.
Cook prawns – you can boil them in a pot or cook them in a bowl of water in the microwave for 5 minutes (or until cooked through), drain and set aside to cool.
Place glass noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave aside for 10 minutes, then drain and cool by running through some cold water.
Assemble salad with all of the ingredients including cooked prawns and noodles except the fried shallots.
Toss salad with dressing, then top with fried shallots. Serve cool. Yum.
One of my favourite daikon radish dishes is this – Singapore style soon kueh (turnip dumplings). The original dumpling has a savoury filling made from what is known as a chinese turnip or jicama. However using the daikon was stemmed from the fact that I lived in the UK where turnips are mostly swedes which were not suitable and there were no jicamas in sight. The daikon is versatile and its texture is similar and makes for a good substitute.
I bought a ginormous daikon recently and was intending to cook it in a soup but a bout of peckishness and craving made me change my mind and I rolled up my sleeves for some kneading and moulding action.
I’ve made this dumpling before with a different recipe for the pastry and I wanted to try out a different recipe that is known as the ‘crystal’ version. This meant that the skin of the dumpling is translucent when cooked rather than the opague version that I made before.
I’m pretty sure this isn’t the best recipe, because I found the pastry to be a little too tough and chewy. A good crystal dumpling is nice and translucent with a soft skin that has a slight chew. Having said that, the dumplings were still yummy and the hubs and I shared a large plateful for dinner, with loads to spare for breakfast. It’s probably a strange idea for many of you that we have the same kind of food for dinner and breakfast. Probably like having cereal for dinner – which by the way is becoming quite norm for young people in Australia! (Source: some morning show in Australia, can’t remember which one)
The truth is that in Singapore, these dumplings are usually eaten more as a snack (morning or afternoon) and sometimes as breakfast. I don’t follow rules very well and decided I wanted them for dinner. The hubs just eats whatever I cook and so breakfast food for dinner it is! Yay!
In comparison to the two pastries (crystal and opague), the crystal version is a lot easier to work with as it starts off sticky but ends up clean and easy to mould. The other one was much softer and fiddlier (is there such a word?) but it was also softer and less chewy after it’s been cooked.
Might give a different crystal pastry recipe a try next time. For the opague version and filling recipe, go to my soon kueh post.
CRYSTAL DUMPLINGS (Pastry recipe)
Makes about 20-24
375 g Wheat Starch
180 g Tapioca flour
450 ml Boiling water
3 tbsp Vegetable oil
Oil for greasing
Put wheat starch and tapioca flour into a mixing bowl, pour in boiling water and mix quickly with ladle or big spoon. Cover and leave aside for 15 minutes.
Add in oil and knead into a pliable dough. Roll out in a cylinder about 1.5 inches in diameter. Cut with a sharp knife into 3/4 inch slices. Dab a little oil on both sides of the slice and roll out gently into thin round shapes. Cover the rest of the dough with a damp cloth while working to prevent them from drying out
Place 2 teaspoons of filling in the centre of each slice of dough and fold in half. Seal the edges by pressing together.
Steam dumplings for 15-20 minutes and brush with oil after removing from steamer. Serve with crisp fried shallots, sweet caramel soy sauce (kecap manis) and chilli sauce.
My last installment for the 365 Challenge. This time, it’s Stephane Reynauld’s recipe for Mozzarella Tart. This is a very easy recipe to follow – and it is similar to many tomato and mozzarella tarts. However Reynauld’s recipe called for rosemary and tarragon, which is unique as many other recipes use basil. I guess this is significantly more ‘french’ as basil, tomato and mozzarella is known to be an italian combination.
The recipe also says that medium grain semolina is used to scatter on the pastry before layering the tomatoes. This is so the semolina will absorb the juice of the tomatoes and thus prevent the pastry from becoming soggy. Unfortunately, I do not have semolina ready in my pantry and wasn’t about to buy a bag just to use two tablespoons of it. So I went onto trusty google to seek out a solution.
Many other recipes recommended baking the pastry for a bit first before adding the tomatoes. This works for me – so I pierced the pastry with a fork (to prevent it from rising too much), brushed it with egg wash, sprinkled some grated parmesan (I just can’t help myself!) and baked the pastry for about 5 minutes. This allowed the pastry to pre-cook for a bit. Once removed from the oven and cooled a little, I layered the tomatoes, cheese and herbs according to the recipe.
Instead of one large tart, I made baby versions of it, using two sheets of ready-rolled puff pastry and splitting into four squares. Very easy, very delicious. It kinda turned out to be posh herby versions of an open faced grilled cheese and tomato croissant. Yum.
Original recipe serves 6
150g mozzarella cheese
6 garlic cloves
2 tbsp medium-grain semolina
200g butter puff pastry
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked
fleur de sel
1 bunch tarragon, leaves picked
Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
Slice tomatoes into 5mm slices, do the same with mozzarella. Peel and slice garlic cloves. Roll out pastry and scatter semolina over.
Arrange tomatoes over pastry so they overlap, then add garlic, rosemary and mozzarella. Season, scatter tarragon and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake in oven for 30 minutes.
It’s strange how one’s taste preference changes and develops over the years. There just may be hope yet for my relationship with mint. I’m not holding my breath on that one though. However fennel is a whole different story. I never used to like fennel because I never liked liquorice and anything aniseedy. I have changed. I do not mind raspberry liquorice (okay maybe that doesn’t quite count, but the original black liquorice is a little too hard core for me at this stage), I definitely like using star anise in my cooking. Absinthe I will drink but only if it’s disguised with something else, preferably sweet. But fennel – me likey. And this is one of my favourite fennel dishes.
It’s one of those dishes that is so simple to prepare, doubts will start to loom…and you think it may turn out to be a disaster. Trust me, this one’s a winner.
The fennel’s naturally sweet flavour melds beautifully with the parmesan and you get these tender roasted fennel that is tastily encrusted with melted cheese. So yum. It certainly isn’t a pretty dish, but it’s pretty delish I’d say!
Here’s the full recipe. Enjoy!
ROASTED FENNEL WITH PARMESAN
Adapted from foodnetwork.com
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, cut horizontally into 1/3-inch thick slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Lightly oil the bottom of an oven safe dish. Arrange the fennel in the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then with the Parmesan. Drizzle with the oil. Bake until the fennel is fork-tender and the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes.
The team at Murdoch Books came up with this excellent idea to cook the entire list of recipes in ’Stephane Reynaud’s 365 Good Reasons to Sit Down to Eat’. I found out about this challenge in April when I packed up the last of my kitchen appliances into the multitude of boxes which were destined for a long, arduous journey back home to Melbourne. I took the risk and went ahead to join the challenge in good faith that I would have found a home and got my kitchen appliances back. That was in April. I’ve found a perfect apartment, but guess what? The boxes with my kitchen treasures have only just arrived last Friday and with the weekend unpacking, I’m so glad I picked a simple sounding recipe to start this challenge off!
Zucchini is a very versatile vegetable – or fruit if you want to go all technical on me. Its mild flavour is great both with full, robust dishes or simple, clean ones. A couple of my favourite zucchini dishes include Japanese style zucchini tempura and mediterranean grilled zucchini salad. Mmmmm….
I have never tried making a zucchini gratin. When I received the recipe, my first reaction was “Yippee!!” because it seemed ultra simple with a tiny list of ingredients. Then I realised there’s no bread crumbs, no cheese, , no cream, no egg, no butter – basically nothing to form a baked crust. I always thought a gratin requires a crusty, rich crust similar to those of a gratin dauphinois. Maybe I just expected a recipe from Stephane Reynaud to come packed full of fat and flavour.
I was dubious. I didn’t think this recipe was going to impress me. Rounds of zucchini and onions, lemon thyme, rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper. Really? That sounded too healthy. However I gave it a shot and you won’t believe how simple the preparation was and how much easier it was to cook it.
Vertically layer the vegetables tightly, drizzle olive oil, sprinkle the seasoning and herbs (I used dried herbs instead of fresh), chuck in the oven (150 deg c) for 15 minutes. That simple. No kidding.
I left it in the oven for five extra minutes as I wanted the top of the dish to caramelise more and have delicious brown bits. (Maybe I can’t let go of a gratin not having a crust!) The recipe indicated that the veggies should still be al dente.
I served the zucchini gratin with a simple pan-fried chicken maryland with fennel and coriander. The simple, clean flavours of the zucchini gratin complemented the dish and it was surprisingly delicious! The herbs enhanced the natural sweetness of the al dente vegetables. It makes for a fantastic side dish. So simple, so delicious and so, so easy to prepare. I’m sorry I ever doubted the recipe and I will definitely cook this again.
For more information about the 365 challenge and to read about other blogger’s attempts at the recipes, visit the Murdoch Books Blog here.
I never thought I could do so much with this vegetable which I once deemed too gooey for my liking. As a kid, I only had aubergines cooked one way. With minced pork and chilli, and usually braised till it’s all a little too unidentifiably mushy. Ever since independence took over and I moved to Australia moons ago, I discovered how versatile this spongey little thing can be.
Aubergines, eggplant, brinjal…call it what you want. It’s technically a fruit (much like the tomato) but I insist on calling it as a vegetable. You can grill it (mmm, grilled aubergines are delish – you can try it with this salad recipe), you can cook it in a curry, bake it with tomato sauce and cheese (anyone say melanzane parmagiana?) – so many different ways to say yum.
This particular recipe comes from my beloved Ottolenghi cookbook. Made it for dinner a few times and is lovely as a side with roast chicken or fish. The sweet baked, tender aubergine in a lightly garlicky saffron yogurt. Very Mediterranean, very fresh and delicious. Don’t diss it before you try it, you’d be surprised at how good this combination is. And don’t forget the pomegranate seeds, they give that added burst of sweetness to the dish. Love!
From Ottolenghi, The Cookbook:
3 medium aubergines, cut into slices or thick wedges
olive oil for brushing
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts (I ran out, so I replaced with chopped almonds)
a handful of pomegranate seeds
20 basil leaves
course sea salt and black pepper
For saffron yogurt:
a small pinch of saffron strands
3 tbsp hot water
180g Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
2.5 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1.For the sauce, infuse saffron in the hot water in a small bowl for 5 mins. Add yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and some salt. Whisk well to get smooth golden sauce. Taste and adjust the salt, if necessary, then chill. Sauce will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days.
2. Preheat oven to 220C/Gas Mark 7. Place aubergine wedges on a roasting tray, brush with plenty of olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-35 mins, until a light brown colour. Let them cool to room temperature before serving.
3. To serve, arrange aubergine on a large plate. Drizzle with saffron yogurt, sprinkle nuts and pomegranate seeds and lay the basil on top.
My hubby tells people that I have a ‘thing’ when it comes to ugly vegetables. I don’t. Really. I’m picky about bruised leaves/parts and I always make sure the less aesthetically pleasing bits do not end up on our plates. Nothing wrong with that right? The proof that I do not have a ‘thing’ against ugly vegetables is right here.
I mean, these things do not rate very highly on the pretty scale do they? They’re gnarly and pokey and looks very much like an ugly potato or a smooth skinned wannabe ginger. But believe it or not, they’re related to the sunflower! Poor fellas must have quite the complex with a gorgeous cousin in the family.
Despite its name, there’s no connection with Jerusalem, nor to the artichoke – although some say they’re a distant relative to the lettuce, which in turn is a relative to the artichoke. Who knows?
Much like the potato, these guys make a great roasted side dish, or baked in a gratin, or even raw as part of a salad. The jerusalem artichoke is sweet and has a similar after-taste of a water chestnut. I chanced upon a bunch of these recently – make sure they’re firm and not overly knobbly – and I roasted them with rosemary and sea salt.
Simple pleasures from an ugly tuber.
Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke with Rosemary
500g Jerusalem artichoke, ‘ugly’ bits removed, chopped into wedges (skin on or off, up to you)
good olive oil
2 stalks of rosemary, stalks removed and pines chopped up
generous pinch of sea salt
Toss the cleaned and chopped jerusalem artichoke in olive oil, rosemary, sea salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven (about 200C) until tender, about 15-20 minutes, tossing them halfway.
It’s really difficult to cut down on carbs. I should know, I struggle with it everyday! Planning for our weekly meals is always a challenge for I always try to have days without carbs. It’s easy to just have a stir-fry with rice, or a quick pasta dish, perhaps a tasty pie or a roast with baked potatoes. However it’s tricky when I have to make sure my hungry hubby is full and satisfied when I plan for non-carb meals.
This particular warm salad was quite the winner for me. No carbs were involved in this gig.
I found a good deal on lamb neck fillets at the store. Never cooked lamb neck fillets before but I found the fillets to be surprisingly tender and lean and they were not as expensive as lamb chops or loin.
On a sheet of parchment paper, I sprinkled thyme, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, salt and pepper (no particular amounts here, just use your discretion) and then rolled and coated each fillet with the spice combination. This method is also known as a dry rub which is generally like a marinade but without the liquids. Very easy and very effective especially when you’re grilling or pan-frying the meat.
Now, the salad. I find the best way to toss a salad is to do it with my fingers (Jamie Oliver styleee) in a large serving bowl like the one here. (Thanks Alsops for my beautiful serving bowl!) I drizzled a good amount of olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Just follow the rules of one part acid to two parts oil. Simple right?
Once the lamb is cooked, lay it aside to rest for a few minutes while you put the salad together. No rules here – add any crunchy, fresh salad leaves and veggies. I had a large pack of pre-washed crunchy salad leaves (straight off the supermarket shelf), a generous sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and sliced up some radishes and juicy tomatoes. Throw it all in the dressing and toss right before serving. Add the now ultra juicy, rested sliced lamb fillets and dinner is served!
I love simple meals and it’s carb-free and yummy. Yay me!
Okonomiyaki is a savoury Japanese pancake. A traditional Osaka style okonomiyaki is usually made with flour, grated yam, dashi, eggs and cabbage and the toppings usually include meat (usually pork / bacon) and or seafood such as octopus, squid or shrimps. The Osaka people have way better marketing skills as this is the version that is predominant throughout the world. The Hiroshima style okonomiyaki has the ingredients in layers instead of being mixed in the batter and they sometimes have noodles, cheese and a fried egg as topping options and I have personally never tried the Hiroshima version. Like I often say, marketing is very important. Go Osaka!
Now, this homemade easy-peasy version is made from basic, common day to day ingredients. The flavours will definitely be enhanced with actual bonito flakes, japanese mayonnaise and the proper okonomiyaki sauce. However, not everyone has access to these wonderful japanese goodies and so, we make do. And I’m happy to say that it’s still as tasty. If you’re keen to try out the traditional recipe, see this.
Makes about 6-8 small pancakes
- 1 cup – all purpose flour
- 1 cup – dashi stock (I used diluted chicken stock instead)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 – head of cabbage, shredded
- 6 – 8 strips of streaky bacon (1 strip per pancake)
- Makeshift okonomi sauce (1/4 cup bbq sauce mixed with 1 tsp worchestershire sauce)
- Regular mayonnaise
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and stock with a pinch of salt and whisk till you get a smooth batter.
2. Add in the shredded cabbage and beaten egg. Mix well.
3. In a hot greased skillet, place about 5 – 6 tablespoons of the cabbage mixture – keeping it as round as possible. (Just like you would a pancake) Lower the heat and keep an eye on the bottom to make sure it doesn’t burn.
4. In the meantime, slice one strip of bacon into 4 one inch pieces and place them on the topside of the cooking pancake. After about 2 – 3 mins or until the bottom is nicely golden, flip the pancake. The bacon should now be on the underside, busily browning away. Cook another 2 – 3 minutes or until bacon and the rest of the pancake is cooked, crisp and golden brown.
4. Remove from skillet, and top with mayonnaise and the bbq sauce mixture. Serve hot. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday. For people in the UK, it’s also called Pancake Day. Basically the traditions of Shrove Tuesday is the day preceding Ash Wednesday where the sombre season of Lent begins. Where the more religious-inclined take to a period of praying and fasting. Where foods such as sugar, fat and eggs were restricted. (Omg!) Which is why on Shrove Tuesday, you celebrate with a feast full of food made from sugar, fat and eggs. I guess in the old days, that means pancakes? Whatever it was, I’m happy it’s Pancake Day.
Which led me to post about a Japanese pancake. Hmm…I guess it’d do. Pancakes – savoury or sweet are just as good!
And in line with tradition, I will be having buttermilk pancakes for dinner tomorrow and I can’t wait!
My birthday month is coming to an end soon. Yes, birthday month. I’ve been blessed with so many wonderful, thoughtful gifts throughout the month, even though my birthday happened the first week of January. Thank you all! If any of the gifts are food-related, you know for sure it’d make an appearance on this blog.
My boss whom I adore and share a great deal of time sharing meals and talking about food gave me ‘Ottolenghi: The Cookbook’. She’s tried many of the recipes and raved about them and I can now do the same.
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting one of the Ottolenghi’s restaurants (the Islington branch) and the first thing you’ll experience are the bursts of colours and aromas from the bountiful displays of fresh pastries and Mediterranean style salads set amidst a background of clean-cut white washed walls, shelves and furnishings.
Ottolenghi’s philosophy on food is geared toward the Mediterranean flavours, crafted with fresh, clean, simple ingredients like lemon, pomegranate, garlic. This is evident in all the recipes in the cookbook.
This is the second recipe I’ve tried. The first was roasted aubergine with saffron yogurt which I totally loved and was eager to share on the blog, BUT the photos from that died along with my Sweden vacation photos when my camera’s SD card decided to give up and do a cleanse of it’s contents. Fret not though, the aubergines were so, so yummy I’ll be making it again pretty soon.
Now this – Grilled asparagus, courgettes and halloumi cheese, dressed generously with a basil dressing. What a delightful combination. The original recipe called for manouri cheese which I imagine would be extra lovely, but I couldn’t get my hands on any. I thought halloumi was a great sub though. I did find the dish a tad too oily for my liking (and I did not even use the full amount of olive oil stated in the recipe) Would recommend that less oil be used if you want to give it a try. I’m looking forward to devouring more of the wonderful creations from Ottolenghi’s recipes this new year. What a great start.
Chargrilled asparagus, courgettes and halloumi
Adapted from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook
150g cherry tomatoes, halved
10 asparagus spears
1 large courgettes
150g halloumi, sliced about 2cm thick
course sea salt and black pepper
50ml olive oil
1 garlic clove
25 basil leaves
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 170C/Gas Mark 3. Mix the tomatoes with some olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Spread them out on baking tray lined with baking parchment, skin side down. Roast in oven for about 30 minutes or until semi-dried. Remove from oven, leave to cool.
2. Trim asparagus, blanch in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain and set aside. Slice courgettes thinly lengthwise, toss both veggies in olive oil, salt and pepper. Heat griddle pan on high heat, grill the vegetables and get nice char marks on all sides. Remove, leave to cool.
3. Grill halloumi cheese on griddle pan for about a minute on each side.
4. Make the basil dressing but blitzing all the ingredients together. Any extra dressing can be kept in the fridge for other salads. (I used the while lot!)
5. Assemble the vegetables in layers, drizzle with as much basil oil as you like.
La Potee Auvergnate is a rustic and hearty traditional French soup. Mostly cooked with ham hock, sausages and vegetables, it seems more like a stew than a soup really. When it’s cold and blue outdoors, it’s great to be warming up with a bowl of this stuff.
This recipe is heavily (really heavily) adapted from Delia Smith’s soup collection. As usual, I do not have the time to be pre-soaking dried haricot beans or making stock from a smoked gammon joint. So in its place, I used canned cannellini beans, chicken stock and smoked pancetta. Works well and it only took me a third of the time.
One’s got to adapt when real life gets in the way of domestic goddessness!
When you feel like having a soup that is filling, full of different textures and comfortingly tasty, this is the one to cook. Chunky bits of sausage, smokey pancetta and the sweetness of the carrots, leeks and savoy cabbages = pot of yum.
This now has a place in my very own soup collection.
(SIMPLIFIED) LA POTEE AUVERGNATE
2 x 400g canned cannellini beans
4 – 6 pork sausages
1 clove garlic
2 medium leeks, sliced into rings
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp dried wild thyme
1 medium head of savoy cabbage, shredded
200g pancetta cubes
1.5 litres chicken stock (more if you prefer soupier soups)
sea salt & fresh ground pepper
chopped fresh parsley
1. Squeeze the sausage meat out of their skins and brown them in a heavy based pot with just a touch of oil, break them up into smaller ‘balls’ while browning. When nicely browned, remove from pot and set aside. Add in pancetta cubes and fry till nicely coloured and fragrant, add in garlic, thyme and prepared vegetables (except savoy cabbage)
2. Cook veggies for about 10 – 15 minutes until tender, then add in chicken stock and beans. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Let the soup come back to a boil, then add cabbage and sausages. Simmer the soup for a few more minutes until the cabbage is wilted.
Serve with sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.
Autumn is simply beautiful. All red, orange and yellow…The streets are golden, covered with leaves from the balding trees. Pity the days are so much shorter…and colder. Which makes me hungry and sleepy all the time. If only I could eat warming food and snuggle in my bed all day.
Guess not. So the next best thing on a cold autumn’s day which reflects the hues of nature -butternut squash soup. I know Thanksgiving is just a few days away and there’s been loads and loads of pumpkin recipes out there. Pumpkin’s available here in the UK, but they’re not in great abundance, nor as affordable as some of the other squashes.
I love butternut squash. It’s not only deliciously sweet and nutty, it’s also very versatile. I like them roasted, with pasta / risotto (coming soon in a later post), in salads, stews, cakes and as a soup.
I came across this recipe by Gary Rhodes – an English restaurateur and celebrity chef. It has got to be one of the easiest squash soups I’ve come across…and totally delish!
The added twist to Gary’s soup recipe is the addition of grounded ginger which I thought gave the soup an added level of fragrance and warmth. Orange juice was also added which was a nice touch – lifted the sweetness and gave it a fresh zing of flavour.
This one’s definitely a keeper.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
from gary rhodes’ recipe on the goodfoodchannel
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1onion, sliced
- 1 clovegarlic, crushed
- 675 g butternut squash, seeds removed and cubed
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 600 ml vegetable stock
- 100 ml orange juice
- salt and black pepper
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and fry until softened, but not coloured.
2. Tip in the butternut squash and add the ginger. Cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.
3. Add the stock and orange juice and simmer for about 30 minutes until the squash is tender.
4. Leave the soup to cool slightly, before puréeing with a hand blender until smooth. Season to taste, reheat if necessary and serve.
Spinach. Cheese. Pastry.You can’t really go wrong with that combination.Well, unless you don’t like spinach, or cheese…or pastry (what?? who doesn’t like pastry?)
There’s so many possible goodies you can stuff in a pastry dough, give it a funky name and you’ve got yourself some semblance of pie. Obviously I didn’t make this up. Spanakopita is for real. As in, it’s a real dish from Greece…I didn’t make it up although it does sound like I could have. Sounds kinda funny.
Although a very popular snack in Greece, hubby and I only gave it a chance on our last day *at the airport!* I know, we were too involved with our souvlakis to give too much attention to spinach pie. Lame excuse, but there were just too many things to eat, too little time.
So I thought I’d give it a shot and make some at home. In generous portions I might add. I used BAGS of spinach knowing that there will be significant shrinkage after cooking. The both of us ate our quota of spinach for the year in that one pie I think. And it was goooood…
SPANAKOPITA (Greek Spinach Pie)
2 tablespoons olive oi
l1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
About 800g spinach, rinsed and chopped (I used four 200g bags)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
6-8 sheets filo pastry
olive oil for brushing on pastry
Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Lightly oil a baking dish / pan.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic until soft and lightly browned. Stir in spinach and parsley, and continue to saute until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta, and feta. Stir in spinach mixture. Lay 1 sheet of filo pastry in prepared baking dish, and brush lightly with olive oil. Lay another sheet of filo pastry on top, brush with olive oil, and repeat process with one more sheet of filo.
Spread spinach and cheese mixture into pan and fold overhanging pastry over filling. Brush with oil, then layer remaining 3 sheets of pastry, brushing each with oil. Tuck overhanging bits into pan to seal filling.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Cut into squares and serve while hot.
Adobo is spanish for seasoning or marinade and is a common term in Latin American cooking. However when the Spanish invaded the Philippines in the late 16th century, they discovered an indigenous way of stewing with vinegar, and they called this cooking process adobo…and the name stuck. Now known as one of Philippines’ national dishes, the chicken or pork adobo is famous and very popular. My first taste of pork adobo was cooked by a filipino friend back in Australia…I remember my taste buds going ‘OOOOoooohhh’….the vinegary sauce was tinglingly delicious, so so so good with steamed white rice. I’ve never looked back since.
There are various methods of cooking adobo. I’ve tried the fry-then stew method, I’ve tried the stew-then fry/grill method…but this time I’ve gone for the marinade then stew method. So far, it’s my favourite because there’s no frying involved and it’s easy peasy – just the way I like it.
There’s an essential two to three hours of marinating. The chicken becomes seriously tasty from this process. All the vinegar, soy, pepper and bay leaves start working from this stage…
Because there’s no additional step of pan frying the chicken, the pot goes straight on the stove. Yay! No splattering of oil thank you very much.
In the background of the main photo, you’ll see the accompanying greens. It’s a standard thing isn’t it? Got to have our greens. Now, this one turned out to be a highlight for the hubby.
Dry fried green beans. I’ve come across this dish only in chinese restaurants, namely Sichuan cuisine. I always thought the wrinkly texture of the beans was from the restaurant’s blazing hot wok and tons of oil. However I’ve since found out that the very same dish is done by double frying the beans, which means it’s achievable in my non-blazing wok (electric cooking remember?) and with just a little oil.
Chilli, dried shrimp and garlic – the flavours were bold and the beans were as much a star of the meal as was the adobo.
EASY CHICKEN ADOBO
Recipe from food network
About 800g of chicken thighs and drumsticks
1/2 cup vinegar (white vinegar recommended, but I ran out, so I used chinese cooking vinegar)
1/2 cup light soy sauce
4 – 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and marinate chicken for 2-3 hours. Bring to boil, then lower heat. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer until sauce is reduced and thickened, and chicken is tender, about 20 more minutes.
DRY FRIED GREEN BEANS
Adapted from Appetite for China
3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1/2 pound green beans – rinsed, dried, and chopped to 2-inch lengths
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 piece ginger, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon dried shrimp,soaked and chopped
1 tablespoon chilli bean sauce
1 to 2 drops sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
Heat oil in a wok until just beginning to smoke. Add green beans and stir-fry, keeping the beans constantly moving, for about 5 minutes, or until the outsides begin to blister and the beans are wilted. Remove and set aside to drain on kitchen towels.
Remove all but 1 tablespoon of oil. Add garlic, ginger, preserved vegetable, dried shrimp, and chilli paste; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Return beans to the wok. Add sugar and stir until well-combined. Salt to taste. Dish out onto serving plate and serve while hot.
To cheer my sun-deprived self, I delved into making a batch of homemade tzatziki. If I can’t be sunbathing on the beach by the Aegean sea, I could at least enjoy the tastes of greece.
Step one. Make tzatziki.
Step two. Grill meat in my one bedroom apartment in London.
Step three. Open the windows, letting the chill in while fanning the smoke out.
Step four. Feel ridiculous for having done that.
Sigh…the thing I do for the love of food.
Anyway, the post on grilled meat will come later. For now it’s the ultra garlicky, creamy cucumber dip that I indulged in almost everyday in Greece.
Tzatziki is usually served on its own with a side of bread, or as a sauce for souvlakis or gyros. I also saw children in Greece enjoying Tzatziki with fries. Not a bad idea actually (noted for next time).
The basics of tzatziki is a really simple combination of cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice and garlic. Much easier than trying to spell the word tzatziki methinks!
Then strain the grated cucumber in a colander lined with some kitchen towels (or you can use a clean tea towel). Sprinkle and mix through a couple pinches of salt on the cucumber. This will draw out some water from the cucumber.
After about 20 minutes or so, pat / squeeze the cucumber dry before mixing it through about 250g of yogurt. Season with some olive oil, salt, lemon juice and a grated clove of garlic. At this point, most people add dill or mint…but I have a secret stash of tzatziki spices which I brought back with me. Not too sure what’s in it…but I’m sure there’s dill…and it tastes darn good.
Ingredients for HOMEMADE TZATZIKI
250g thick Greek yogurt / strained yogurt
A little salt
Dill (or tzatziki spice if you have it)
1 clove of garlic, grated
Follow the steps above, adjust seasoning to your taste…and enjoy!
Remember I mentioned those wild mushrooms which I carted all the way from a market in Paris? I do. With much fondness…Wild mushrooms are not easy to find in regular shops here in London and if found, they are usually very pricey. We do get the usual white close-capped, chestnuts and oyster mushrooms and I’m rather bored with them for now.
When I saw a stall selling these amazing wild mushrooms at the Bastille Market, I was absolutely keen. There were golden chanterelles, dark and mysterious horn-of-plenty and fat juicy ceps. I knew that all I wanted was to pan fry these babies simply and just enjoy the natural, earthy flavours. And that I did.
I waited in anticipation for my return to London before I went at them. And the wait was well worth it. I just wish I could have easy access to these wonderful mushroom right here…right now.
WILD MUSHROOMS WITH POACHED EGG
A large bunch of wild mushrooms, torn up
1 clove of garlic
1 pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
Juice of half a lemon
Sea Salt Flakes & Fresh Ground Black Pepper for seasoning
Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a hot pan, throw in the mushrooms. Leave for a few seconds without stirring then toss the mushrooms through the olive oil. Add garlic, salt, pepper and chilli flakes.
At the start, the mushrooms will produce some liquids. Cook till the mushroom liquid is reduced and the mushrooms are glossy from being coated in the juices. Squeeze the lemon juice just before serving.
POACHED EGGS – the delia smith way
I found a great method for poaching eggs without creating a stringy mess. Step by step photos are on the delia smith website. Tried and tested! The egg turned out all neat and pretty and the yolk is perfectly runny and creamy…great with mushrooms!
We were invited recently to a friend’s home for a wonderful home-cooked Polish / Bulgarian meal. There were loads of food including freshly cooked borscht (beetroot soup), melt-in-the-mouth grilled tenderloin, sauerkraut with smoked polish sausages, grilled peppers, cheeses, wine and vodka. Oh my, we were very full and happy that night.
While we were chatting about food (what else!) after the meal, conversations naturally veered towards Polish specialties and I mentioned that I wanted to try my hand at making pierogi – traditional Polish stuffed dumplings. My lovely hostess of the evening ran off to the kitchen and came out with a dumpling mold and she insisted I have it.
Now, I spent the entire week after that meal thinking about making pierogi. There are many different types of stuffing for pierogi – from sweet cheese and fruit versions to savoury meat and potato filled ones.
I chose to make sauerkraut pierogi as I love how the tart sauerkraut gives the dumplings that extra punch of flavour, and it complements the onion and bacon toppings. All sour, salty, buttery and very yum.
I prepared the sauerkraut overnight as advised by my friend as it matures and becomes more flavourful. Instead of making sauerkraut from scratch, I got hold of a 500g pack of the store bought stuff.
Sauerkraut with porcini
- 500g packaged sauerkraut (some of these needs to be rinsed out first before using as it can be super salty…check by tasting it first, I didn’t need to rinse mine out)
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 bay leaves
- A handful of dried porcini (reconstituted with ½ cup of hot, boiling water)
- Freshly ground pepper
- A knob of butter
Melt butter in a heated pot, add onions and fry till soft and translucent. Add in sauerkraut, porcini and some of the soaking liquid. Mix well.
Add bay leaves, stir through and leave the covered pot to simmer on low heat for about 30 – 40 minutes. Add freshly ground pepper, leave the sauerkraut to cool off in the pot.
- 2 cups plain flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling dough
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 medium eggs
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup water
1. Place flour on a clean working surface. Make a well in the flour.
2. Mix eggs, sour cream, salt and water together and pour in the prepared well of flour.
3. With a fork, slowly work the flour in with the egg mixture until it becomes all clumped up.
4. With floured hands, knead the dough till it’s springy. Leave the dough to rest covered with a damp cloth for at least 30 minutes.
5. Cut the dough up in quarters, flour surfaces and rolling pin well, and roll out the dough till it’s nice and thin (about 1mm) Cut the dough into rounds (with a round cutter or in my case, I used the rim of a cup).
6. Fill the dumplings with sauerkraut. To ensure the edges of the dumplings are properly sealed, dab a little water around one side of the edge before pressing them together.
To cook the dumplings, fry up half a chopped onion in some butter, and throw in 8 rashers of bacon (chopped). Cook till bacon is crispy.
Boil the dumplings in a large pot of salted water. When the dumplings float to the surface, they’re cooked. Drizzle with butter, onion and bacon mix. Voila!
Next to its famous cousin, phở (Vietnamese rice noodles soup), the rice paper roll is probably one of the other more well-known Vietnamese favourites. In general, the spring roll-like combination of rice paper, salad, noodles, shrimp or pork is rather bland which I take it to mean – uber healthy! There’s not a single drop of oil used in this recipe, and everything in it is either boiled or steamed.
All the yumminess lie in the dipping sauce – Nước chấm – which is generally a concoction of fish sauce, lime/lemon juice/vinegar, sugar and optional aromatics like garlic and chilli.
Rice paper comes in stiff round sheets which is softened in a shallow dish of hot/warm water and then placed on a clean tea towel for some rolling action. The filling ingredients are kept simple and fresh. In this shrimp roll, I used carrots, lettuce, cucumber, coriander, cooked shrimp and cooked rice noodles. When there’s too much filling, it gets tricky handling the now sticky rice paper and the strands of rice noodles or lettuce that insists on sticking out…The key is to not over-fill and leave enough space around the sides of the rice paper for folding and rolling.
It’s a great entrée to serve at dinner parties, or as canapés or snacks. The good thing is that the rolls stay fresh covered with a damp cloth for a few hours, so it’s a great dish that can be prepared ahead of time.
Ingredients for rice paper roll:
- rice paper
- julienned carrot
- coriander leaves
- shredded lettuce
- julienned cucumber
- cooked shrimps (split in half)
- handful of cooked rice noodles
Basic Nước chấm:
Makes ¾ cup
3-4 tablespoons lime/lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup water
2 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
1 or 2 birds eye chilli, finely minced
Combine all the ingredients together, taste and adjust accordingly. There should be a good balance of tartness and sweetness. Once you’re happy with the sauce, add garlic and chilli and let the sauce sit for at least 30 minutes.
Slow-cooked peppers are to die for.
When you slow cook a bunch of sliced up peppers and red onions, magic happens. This pasta peperonata has certainly made it to my favourite pasta list. The peppers softened first and joined later by the red onions, were almost syrupy sweet. A generous splash of balsamic vinegar cuts through the sweetness and gives the sauce a full, rounded flavour.
The penne that I used in place of the recommended rigatoni, were well coated in the delicious sauce. All cheesy, gooey and irresistibly good. So good both hubby and I overate…again.
adapted from ‘Jamie’s Dinners’
• 2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced
• 2 yellow peppers, deseeded and sliced
• extra virgin olive oil
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
• 2 handfuls of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped, stalks reserved
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
• 2 handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese
• 500g rigatoni, penne or spaghetti
Put all the peppers in a large frying pan over a medium heat with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place a lid on, and cook slowly for 15 minutes until softened. (This slow-cooking process is what creates the pepper magic, so be patient – go watch TV or something while you wait.)
Add the onion and cook for a further 20 minutes. Then add the garlic and parsley stalks and toss around, keeping everything moving in the pan.
Have a little taste, and season with a bit more salt and pepper. Add the vinegar – it will sizzle away, so give everything a good toss. Then add one handful of the grated Parmesan.
Stir the cooked pasta through this yummy concoction, drizzle with more olive oil and serve with more of the grated parmesan.
Heaven…on a carb-laden plate.
Kimchi Bokkeumbap – literally translates as Kimchi Fried Rice. This dish is easy to prepare and rather cost effective which explains why it’s a common favourite for Korean students on a budget. This recipe calls for over-ripe or well-fermented kimchi as the deep, spicy flavours is what gives the dish that rich, robust taste which fresh kimchi apparently does not produce. I wouldn’t know as my kimchi comes from a pack…and they’re always well-fermented.
Similar to the Chinese fried rice – leftover or overnight cooked rice is best for this dish. However, many claim that the Korean fried rice is healthier than the Chinese version. Only very little oil is used in cooking bokkeumbap as the kimchi liquids help to soften and lubricate the grains while frying. Apparently, kimchi is also low-calorie and has a high-level of anti-oxidants which aids in digestion and reduces cholesterol. I don’t know how true that is, but I love kimchi anyway so if it’s good for me, then double yay!
Other popular bokkeumbap include Gaeran Bokkeumba (egg fried rice), Dakgalbi Bokkeumbap (chicken) and Seawoo Bokkeumbap (shrimp) – all typically served with a sunny-side up fried egg on top. I love it when the runny yolk is mixed through with the spicy rice…drool.
(I do not have fixed quantities with this recipe, as it’s all about using leftovers and more importantly – using our God-given sense of taste…)
Leftover / overnight long grain rice
A bowl of kimchi, roughly chopped up
A couple cloves of garlic, finely diced
Some form of greens (I used frozen peas here)
Minced pork – marinated with some light and dark soy
Eggs (fried sunny side up – before cooking the rice – saves on washing another pan)
Fresh red chilli, finely sliced (optional – for those who like it SPICY)
Spring onion for garnishing
Heat up a little cooking oil in a wok, stir fry the minced pork, adding garlic and chilli halfway through. Cook the meat till it’s nicely coloured and cooked through. Add kimchi and some of the liquid, mix well and add frozen peas. Once the mixture bubbles up again, add the rice and stir fry till mixed through and all the grains are well coated with the kimchi and pork juices. Season with light soy if necessary (please taste first as some kimchi can be well seasoned already). Serve with a fried egg and spring onion garnish.