Archive for the Cooking Category

Butter Chicken

Posted in Asian Cooking, Cooking with tags on May 21, 2010 by thepseudoepicurean

Mm mmm…this is one of the reasons why I think my husband really rawks: after an evening of shopping around the city, I stepped into a house that was filled with the aroma of Indian spices.

He’d made the best butter chicken I’d ever tasted (and I am not a fan of butter chicken at all) and to top it off, he even went to great lengths to grill the chicken with tandoori spices before adding them into the sauce!

He served it with basmati rice, a cucumber and yoghurt raita and some leftover homemade flour tortillas which we toasted up to pass it off as “chappati”.

And to think I wanted to go out for dinner last night.

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Going Back To My Roots

Posted in Asian Cooking, Recipes with tags , on May 18, 2010 by thepseudoepicurean

I’m currently a little obsessed about Asian cooking at the moment, partly because I miss local Singaporean / Malaysian fare, and the other part is intent on fulfilling my “good Asian wife” duty and feed the husband well. More often than not, the husband ends up cooking for me these days because of extremely gruelling days in the office culminating in a can’t-be-arsed-to-cook mood by the time I get home. And so on days when I actually leave the office feeling partly alive, I try to make up for the times when my domestication was absent.

I’ve tried my hand at a number of dishes, namely:

1. Wat dan hor (stir-fried rice noodles with egg gravy)
2. Tomato prawns, inspired by my aunt who makes a kick-ass version. I couldn’t remember the exact ingredients she used so I just followed my instincts and voila! Tasted pretty good!
3. Tofu-wrapped chicken nuggets

Wat Dan Hor (stir-fried rice noodles with egg gravy), recipe adapted from Lily’s Wai Sek Hong.

Wat Dan Hor (stir-fried rice noodles with egg gravy)

Ingredients

Noodles:

  1. 300g fresh rice noodles, preferably thick-cut
  2. 3-4T oil
  3. 1T light soy sauce (or more to taste)
  4. 1T dark soy sauce (or more to taste)

Gravy:

  1. 2 chicken thigh fillets, sliced into finger-sized pieces
  2. 100g prawns, shelled and deveined
  3. 1 small calamari, cut into rings
  4. 1 bunch choy sum, cut into 3 inch sticks
  5. 500ml chicken stock
  6. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 2 T cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup water
  8. Dash of light soy sauce, to taste
  9. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  10. Dash of pepper, to taste
  11. Pickled green chilli (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a wok
  2. Add in noodles and both soy sauces and stir fry till slightly charred. Add more soy if you like. Set aside.
  3. Clean the wok.
  4. Heat more oil in the wok
  5. Fry the garlic till fragrant, then add the chicken and prawns and continue to toss until almost cooked.
  6. At this point, add in the calamari and stir fry for 30 seconds, then add the soy sauce and chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  7. Now add the choy sum and stir in half the corn starch mixture (note: you may not need all of the corn starch mixture) and bring to a boil again. If the mixture is not thick enough, add more of the corn starch mixture until the desired thickness is achieved.
  8. Turn off the heat and drizzle the lightly beaten eggs over the sauce. Let sit for a minute before stirring the egg mixture through the gravy.
  9. Dish up noodles into a wide-mouthed bowl and pour a generous amount of the gravy over the noodles.
  10. Serve with pickled green chilli for added effect!

Next up, the recipe for my 6th aunt’s tomato prawns. Mmm…

Wan Ton Mee

Posted in Asian Cooking with tags on January 14, 2010 by thepseudoepicurean

I love a good wan ton mee (dumpling with noodles). And a good wan ton mee is made up of 3 things:

  1. It’s got to be dry and complemented with a good sauce;
  2. The noodles must be springy with a firm bite to it. Soggy noodles with a strong taste of alkaline water are an instant put-off for me;
  3. The wan tons must be plump, filled with meat, and the skins have to be silky smooth

We’d bought a heap of prawns the other day as the husband was craving some, and decided to make prawn wan tons to save ourselves from (ironically) prawn overload (in stir-fried form)…y’know, variety is the spice of life type-of-thing.

Anyway, being the amateur prawn wan ton makers we are, we haphazardly mixed in chives, corn starch, a bit of egg with the chopped up prawns…with the usual soy sauce, white pepper and sesame oil. Frankly, they weren’t the best (I’m not sure if the corn starch was a good idea) but they sure were plump and juicy and still satisfying.

As for the noodles, the secret really is in making sure that the noodles are slightly under al dente before scooping them out and dunking them into a bath of cold water to wash off the starch. This is a very important step ensuring that you don’t end up with gluggy clumps! Dip them into another pot of hot boiling water (or even soup) to finish off the cooking, drain, toss it in with the sauce and garnish as you please.

Homemade wan ton mee

Recipe for the sauce, sufficient for 2 serves (this is merely a guesstimation of the proportions I used, so alter the measurements to suit your taste):

  • 3 Tbs oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbs kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbs dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Dash of white pepper

What’s In My Lunchbox?

Posted in Asian Cooking, Cooking with tags , , on September 17, 2009 by thepseudoepicurean

Before you think I’ve been wiped off the face of the earth (which I probably have anyway), I’M STILL HERE! I’m just finding that time really whizzes me by ever since I got married. We’ve been married two-and-a-half months now, and it certainly feels like we’ve been married a whole year already. Not that it’s a bad thing, but where does all that time in the world go to?

These days I don’t have any energy to sit in front of the computer when I get home. There’s dinner to cook, lunch to prepare for the next day, dishes to wash (and oh bless the dishwasher!!), laundry, and then before you know it, it’s time to wind down after a long day and get ready for bed, let alone BLOG!

The cycle repeats itself, and then the weekend is here. Weekends are greatly cherished. It’s the only time we get to wake up at a leisurely pace without either of us having to nudge the other to go wash up first while the lucky one snoozes a little longer.

I’m currently a little obsessed with curry. Especially the ones with eggplant inside. My mother-in-law makes the most amazing Malaysian and Indian curries even her Indian friends are impressed. I’ve also had the privilege of learning some tricks of the trade from my husband, so while I had some free time on my hands two nights ago, I cooked up an eggplant and sweet potato curry with some prawns and mussels and packed it for our lunch today (overnight curry tastes exceptional!).

The result – a vibrant-looking, colourful, extra healthy and tasty, delicious curry. All I used was olive oil, and no coconut milk. The secret to making your curry thick and sweet? Ground onions!

Eggplant & Sweet Potato Curry
No coconut was harmed in the making of this curry.

Lunchbox
All packed and ready to go in our lunchboxes!

The One About Apple Spirals

Posted in Cooking with tags , on August 18, 2009 by thepseudoepicurean

Apple Spirals

Once in a while I like to think about my cooking influences, and despite being an avid collector of cookbooks and food magazines (note I said collector, not do-er), the ones who’ve had major influences on my epicureal journey are few and far between. One of them is my mother.

My mother is a great cook; anyone who has met her would agree. Anyone who has been lucky enough to partake in one of her grand feasts (namely Chinese New Year and Christmas) would probably tell you it’s the best home feast they’ve ever had. For all the years that I’ve lived with my parents, I’ve been accustomed to homemade sharks fin soup, ngoh hiang, homemade fish cakes, mee siam, lovingly-brewed birds nest soup, poh piah parties and a whole host of out-of-this-world dishes. In short, everyone knows that my mother rules the kitchen in the household.

My father, on the other hand, has probably only attempted cooking us a French meal (or was it just a dessert?) ONCE in his entire life, and has never stepped into the kitchen since. Instant noodles is his specialty. I guess with my mother’s culinary prowess, there is absolutely no need for him to stick around – he’d much rather watch his golf/soccer/news. But when it comes to fruits and cutting them up at the dinner table, Dad is King and no one gets in the way.

Dinner every night always ends on a grand note with my father whipping out his fruit board and knife. Fruits of different varieties are brought out to the dining table and Dad would begin the arduous task of cutting up fruit and sometimes even peeling the skins off whatever fruit we have (e.g. my mother doesn’t like grape skins and my father would lovingly peel each and every grape for her – how’s that for being romantic?).

One of my fondest childhood memories is of him, of all things, peeling apples! Many a time after dinner we would watch in wide-mouthed wonder as Dad deftly swirls the peeler around the apple and off comes its skin in one single string! As kids, my siblings and I would cheer Dad on, though as we got older and cheekier we’d try to distract him instead so that the string of skin would break!

Anyway, the husband was making apple oat muffins tonight and I was helping him peel the apples. Without hesitation, I picked up the apple and peeler and carefully ran the blade through its skin until all I had was a long string of green apple skin. I looked at it and beamed at the husband with much pride and satisfaction, though it made me miss Dad and our dinner table fruit moments.

It’s funny how some people influence us in big and small ways, and how our little habits or idiosyncrasies begin with the most inane of events in our lives. Tonight I made two long apple skin spirals and I’m sure Dad would be really proud of me if he saw it (I think I shall email him a photo of my accomplishment). This one’s for you, Dad!

Apple Spirals 2

Fried Rice Paradise

Posted in Asian Cooking with tags , , , on August 13, 2009 by thepseudoepicurean

I have a confession to make: I love fried rice. If carbs and too much oil weren’t a health issue, I’d walk right up to any (proper) Chinese restaurant and order myself a ginormous plate of yong chow fried rice (also commonly known as “Special” Fried Rice. There’s something satisfying about eating those fluffy grains, a token sprinkling of mixed vegetables full of wok hei (which is Cantonese for “breath of the wok”), eggy goodness.

It is also a dish that seems to satisfy the husband immeasurably. Every now and then he’ll have hallucinations about fried rice, and he’ll throw in a puppy-eyed look and start pleading for me to cook him some. Ok this sounds shameless, but I secretly think that my version of fried rice can really kickass. Of course it’s a personal thing, since home-cooked fried rice is always a cauldron for unwanted leftovers or whatever secret favourites you wish to put in. I don’t think it’s necessary to put in any instructions or recipe but I thought I’d share my secret ingredients…because a good fried rice secret is always worth sharing!

  • XO sauce – just a tiny bit
  • Sambal belachan – this thing really kicks ass, but the amount is really up to you or your tolerance levels for spicy food
  • Fish sauce – between fish and soy sauce, I’d opt for the former. This makes ALL the difference in the flavour!
The Epicureal Fried Rice

The Epicureal Fried Rice

So there you have it, my secret fried rice ammunition that makes the husband happy (men are so incredibly easy to please!) and apparently makes him super-efficient at work!

Wacko Jacko Squid Ink Pasta

Posted in Cooking with tags , , , on August 10, 2009 by thepseudoepicurean

Necessity is the mother of invention, and tonight necessity manifested itself when we had a whole calamari but only half a packet of squidink pasta, which wouldn’t have been sufficient for either of us. So rather than suffer a miserly meal, we decided to toss in a portion of regular spaghetti into the pot and the result was a fairly odd-looking calamari pasta dish.

The result was nothing but delicious as we both lapped up all that was heaped on our plates. I suppose Wacko as Jacko may be, there was some evidence of wisdom in his famous words – “it don’t matter if you’re black or white” (or both)!

Mise en place - chopped tomatoes for the pasta

Mise en place - chopped tomatoes for the pasta

Pan-seared mushrooms

Pan-seared mushrooms

Squid ink pasta and spaghetti with calamari, tomatoes, garlic, parsley and white wine

Squid ink pasta and spaghetti with calamari, tomatoes, garlic and parsley and white wine

Oodles of noodles

Oodles of noodles

A satisfying meal

A satisfying meal

Our olive oil of the moment - the Dwarda Ridge Estate EVOO from W.A.

Our olive oil of the moment - the Dwarda Ridge Estate EVOO from W.A.