Archive for the Asian 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.

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!

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!

The Pseudo Epicurean on Austerity Drive

Posted in Asian Cooking, Cooking, Recipes with tags , , on February 26, 2009 by thepseudoepicurean

The Jman and I are on austerity drive! Given the dismal economic situation, we’ve decided to tighten the belt and start eating home a lot more. This is good news for me because I have lots more reason to be in the kitchen, which I am totally enjoying. As you may have noticed the increased activity on this blog, I have been cooking a lot more, not just dinners but lunches as well (I generally avoid eating the same thing for lunch and dinner so I usually cook another different meal for lunch).

Chicken & Corn Cakes

I had some chicken breast sitting in the freezer and was wondering what to do with it. Stir-fry? Curry? Pasta? Salad? I was kind of bored of the usual renditions of chicken dishes and so I decided I’d try something more adventurous this time. I’d made chicken cakes before with some leftover minced chicken before, so I thought I’d make some with the chicken breast. Besides, I could store the uncooked patties in the freezer and save any leftovers for another meal.

The chicken cakes were easy as. It barely took me 30 minutes from start to finish to make them and they were so incredibly delicious (I couldn’t resist frying one up for myself – all in the name of “taste-testing” – before these gems went into the freezer). They are also very, very healthy, you wouldn’t believe it.

Putting it all together

Putting it all together

The final product - golden cakes full of chickeny goodness!

The final product - golden cakes full of chickeny goodness!

Ingredients (makes approximately 8 mini cakes)

  • 1 large chicken breast – diced and put into a processor to mince
  • 1 stalk spring onion – sliced thinly (or chunky if you prefer)
  • 10 French beans – diced
  • 3 teaspoons of frozen or tinned corn (not the creamed type)
  • 1 large pinch of Maldon salt flakes
  • A good dose of dried chilli flakes (depending on how spicy you like your food)
  • A swig of Thai fish sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Chopped coriander (I didn’t have this so I omitted it but I think this would really give the chicken cakes an edge)

Method

  1. Mix everything together with a fork.
  2. Shape into mini discs and fry for about 3-4 minutes on each side until golden.
  3. You could also shape them into little balls and put them in soup (chicken or vegetable broth – they make for fabulous warmers!)
  4. Serve with Linghams sweet chilli sauce

No oil was used in making the cakes, and since I used a non-stick pan with only a spritz of oil spray, there was very, very, very little oil in these babies making them INCREDIBLY low-cal.

Beef Curry

The other thing I made last night was beef curry. There was a packet of organic beef stir-fry on offer at Safeway last night going at half price, and anyone who knows me would also know that I am a sucker for organic meats. So into my shopping basket it went and beef curry was in order!

Beef curry

Beef curry

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 300g beef, cut into strips
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (not necessary but it makes your curry wonderfully fragrant)
  • 2 tablespoons curry paste (I used Patak’s vindaloo – the Jman’s mom, a fantastic cook whom I look up to, swears by Vindaloo. So if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me!)
  • 1/2 red capsicum, julienned
  • 1/2 small aubergine, julienned
  • 1 ripe tomato, cut into wedges
  • Coriander to garnish (again I didn’t have coriander so I left it out but it was still very tasty!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water

Method

  1. (This step is not necessary but I did it anyway because I like my aubergines extra soft and extra mushy) – Grill the aubergines in a pan until browned. Set aside on a plate until ready for use in the curry
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Saute the onions until fragrant. Add the curry leaves and continue to stir-fry for another minute.
  3. Add in the curry paste, then fry for another minute or until the paste has dried up a little, then add in the capsicums and the beef, and after a while, the aubergines.
  4. Keep tossing the ingredients about in the pan so that they cook evenly.
  5. Add in the water and tomatoes after a minute and allow the curry to simmer for another minute or so.
  6. Voila! Beef curry!

Preparing for Saturday Night Fever

Posted in Asian Cooking, Dinner Parties, Recipes with tags , , , on August 6, 2008 by thepseudoepicurean

Ikan bilis and peanuts

The Singapore National Day is coming up this weekend, and to celebrate the occasion, I’ve invited a few of  my kawan kawan (meaning “friend” in Bahasa Melayu) from Singapore’s neighbouring countries. Menu for the night includes:

  1. Nasi Lemak;
  2. Chicken curry and
  3. Satay with ketupat

Preparing all these individually isn’t very difficult, but when cooking for a party of 10, a little bit of preparation ahead of time will go a long, long way.

I got the ball rolling tonight by frying up the anchovies (or more affectionately known as ikan bilis) and peanuts. This will be served as an accompaniment to the nasi lemak, either putting it as a side dish or sprinkled generously over the rice before it is served.

Preparing the ikan bilis is literally as simple as one plus one, as all that is required is a dry-fry equal amounts of both the ikan bilis and raw peanuts (volume wise, not weight) until they turn a lovely golden brown. You could add a little oil at the start if you wish, but it isn’t necessary. I like it dry and crisp. When it’s done (and it will take a while) and while still hot, sprinkle some sugar over it. It is advisable to use caster sugar as it melts more easily and will have more chance of gluing itself onto the peanuts instead of settling at the bottom of the pan.

Tomorrow night, I will prepare the sambal and start to marinate the meat for the satay. On Friday night, I will skewer the satays and cook the chicken curry, which is best left to sit overnight to let the flavours permeate through the meat. Come Saturday, all I’ll have to do is to set the satays on the barbeque, fry the omelette,  cook the ketupat and steam the coconut rice !

I love how this planning is going. I feel much, much more on top of things and I can let my hair down on Saturday before my guests arrive! Fab.