30 December 2009

Mussels, Pork & Leek in Parsley White Wine Cream Sauce

This is something I put together for brunch the day after Christmas. We had leftovers left right and center. The mussels were originally purchased for consumption as part of the Christmas dinner, but about 3/4 way through the cooking we decided to 'save it for later' because we already had too much food on the table. I used the off pieces from my pork belly confit mostly because it took me 26 hours to make the confit and I didn't want to throw any bits of it away. :)

This can be substituted with leftover pork roast, ham, turkey or even just slices of good ol' bacon.

Mussels with Pork and Leek in Parsley White Wine Cream Sauce
serves 4
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic (mashed then chopped roughly)
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1 leek (sliced thinly)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • left over pork belly confit (roughly chopped ...substitute with bacon)
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 150ml thicken cream
  • 1 kg live black mussels (scrubbed, debearded)
  • 1/2 cup of parsley leaves (roughly chopped)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges to serve
Heat olive oil in a deep saucepan then melt the butter in the oil. Add garlic, anchovy fillets and when everything starts to sizzle and melt, add the leek, bay leaf and the leftover pork belly confit (or bacon) to the saucepan. Saute until the leeks start to soften. Season with a couple of grinds of black pepper. Pour in the white wine and let it simmer for about 3 mins to boil off the alcohol and to reduce the liquid then add in the thickened cream.

Pour in the washed mussels. Turn the heat up high and keep stirring the contents in the pan around until the mussels start to open.

Once the mussels start to open, add in the chopped parsley (reserve about a tablespoon for garnish) and stir the contents around until the mussels are coated with the cream sauce. Serve immediately and garish with the remaining chopped parsley leaves and lemon wedges.

mussels in pork leek and white wine sauce
  • The anchovy fillets will provide the saltiness to the dish. Taste and season with a bit more salt if required.
  • Toast up some garlic bread to soak up the cream sauce. Or use the leftover cream sauce to toss in some hot pasta for a quick meal.

27 December 2009

Bolognese Sauce

I still have a week off before I have to go back to work. So I've been mostly occupying my time with slow cook foods - now that I do have the time to do it. This Bolognese recipe is something I eyed some time back on Spinach Tiger and always wanted to try it out but never had the time. I really wanted to try it out because it required each individual step to reach a certain stage before moving on. Like completely cooking off the wine and milk. That's two cups of milk by the way.. I really wondered how long that would take. :P

Bolognese Sauce
Recipe adapted from Spinach Tiger - Originally from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classical Cooking

Serves 6-8
  • 2 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 2 slices of chopped bacon
  • 1kg ground beef chuck (seasoned with salt and pepper before cooking)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes with juice, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 pounds pasta (tossed with 2 Tablespoons of butter when ready)
  • Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table
On medium heat, add oil, butter, onion, until translucent. Add celery, carrots, cook 2 minutes, stirring, not browning.

Add bacon then meat, break up with fork, and when no pink color is showing, add milk.

Turn down heat to simmer, stirring frequently until milk has evaporated. Add nutmeg.

Add wine, stirring thoroughly. Once wine has completely evaporated, add tomatoes, and simmer on very very low stirring every now and again. If sauce dries out, add 1/2 cup water a time.

Cook for a minimum of 3 hours. I think 4-6 hours is better.

Taste and season with salt, pepper.

Serve over pasta.

bol_traditional (Large)

I had this simmering on low heat for about 6 hours. The resulting bolognese was bursting with flavor and both rich and creamy at the same time. And because we only have 4 people in our household, the leftover bolognese was soooo much better the next day. I will definitely be making this recipe again. :)

  • The original recipe doesn't call for bacon, so you can omit this out if you want.

26 December 2009

Pork Belly Confit - Ad-Hoc at Home

My colleague AW at work passed me this recipe from his Ad-Hoc at home book. When I first read it ... I was like.. wtf ?!?! refrigerate in brine for 10hrs... slow cook in lard for 6 hours ... refrigerate in lard for 12 hours.. 1.5kg of lard !!!!!!!

So I went to my local supermarket and filled my shopping basket with 8x 250g blocks of lard (I brought more in case I needed it) and safely made my way back home with all my blocks of lard. And I picked up a 1kg piece of pork belly from my local butcher on the way back. The rest of the herb ingredients I got from my now flourishing herb garden.. :)

This was the way to consume fat. Every single bite would just melt in your mouth. The way the fat and the meat would just melt into each other. It was pure pork goodness.

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My house smelled of melting lard for the whole 2 days I spent making this. But upon tasting the first piece.. I didn't care anymore. It was well worth it. :)

Pork Belly Confit
recipe from Ad-Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

Phase 1 - Preparing the Brine:

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 3 large rosemary sprigs
  • 1/2 bunch thyme (about 10 sprigs)
  • 1/2 bunch (about 10 stems) flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup garlic cloves (crushed, skin left on)
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 cup kosher salt, preferably Diamond Crystal
  • 8 cups water

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely, then chill before using. The brine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

002 (Large)
Ingredients for the Brine

Phase 2 - Cooking the Pork:
  • Pork Brine (Cold)
  • 1kg slab pork belly with skin
  • About 6 cups lard
  • Canola Oil
  • Gray salt or coarse sea salt

Pour the brine into a container large enough to hold the pork belly and add the pork, Refrigerate for 10 hours (no longer, or the pork may become too salty)

Remove the pork belly (discard the brine) and rinse under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels, or let air-dry.

Preheat the oven to 90C.

Choose an ovenproof pot, such as a 12-quart Dutch oven, that is only slightly larger than the pork belly and has a lid; the pot should be just large enough that the pork will be surrounded by the lard. Put the belly in the pot and cover with the lard; the lard should cover the pork by 1/2 to 3/4 inch.

Heat the pot over low heat until the lard registers 88C. Cover, transfer to the oven and cook until the pork is meltingly tender; this will probably take 5.5 to 6 hours, but start checking after 4 hours. As the belly cooks, it will lose fat and shrink; it is best to transfer the meat and fat to a smaller pot, always keeping the belly covered by fat. Remove the pot from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

The belly can simply be refrigerated in its fat, but we prefer to press it to compress the internal layers of connective tissue and force out the excess fat, resulting in a better texture and appearance. To press it, transfer it to a deep baking dish. Pour enough fat into the dish to just cover the belly. Cover with plastic wrap, top with a smaller baking dish and weight it down with a brick or large can. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours; reserve the extra fat.

Once it's been pressed, the pork belly can be refrigerated, covered by fat (add some of the reserved fat if necessary), for up to 1 week.

To serve, remove the pot from the refrigerator and let sit in a warm spot to soften the fat for 2 to 3 hours. Your want to soften the fat enough so you can scrape it from the belly while keeping the belly as cold as possible so it will be easier to slice.

006 (Large)
Shot of Pork after scoring the skin

Remove the pork belly from the fat, and wipe off any cooking fat that clings to the meat. Remove the skin and score the fat on the belly in a crosshatch pattern. The belly can be cut into any shape. Slice it or cut it into squares, and let sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before sauteing. (The fat can be reused to confit pork belly several more times as long as it does not taste too salty. Pour it into a pot and heat gently to liquefy, then strain through a find-mesh conical strainer into storage container. Refrigerate for up to 2 months or freeze for up to 6 months.)

Preheat the oven to 175C

Heat some canola oil in a large oven proof frying pan over medium-high heat just until smoking. Put the pieces of belly fat-side-down in the skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the excess fat is rendered and the fat side is browned, about 18 minutes; pour off excess fat about halfway through the cooking.

When the pork is browned, transfer the pan to the oven to heat through, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with gray salt, and serve. We used some Murray river pink salt instead.

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Yummy yummy pork belly ~~!

25 December 2009

Ultimate Beef Burgers

Yay.. Its the 1st day of holidays..Wishing a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all !

We made these for lunch while waiting/preparing the other courses for our Christmas dinner.

burger_3 (Large)

Ultimate Beef Burgers
Serves 6

For the beef burgers:
  • 1 small onion (grated)
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 kg ground beef
  • 6 Cheese slices
  • Pickled Cucumber or Pickled Gherkin
  • Tomato sauce
  • Mustard
  • 6 hamburger bun

Mix together all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Wet hands in some cold water and divide the beef into 6 parts and shape into 6 round patties.

Place on top of some baking paper and place the patties in the fridge for at least 1 hr before cooking.

Place about a tablespoon of oil in a heated saucepan and then add the burgers to the pan. Cook for about 7 minutes on each side.

burger_2 (Large)

About 1 minute left into the cooking, place a slice of cheese on top of the beef patty. And let the cheese melt. Once the cheese starts to melt, remove from the pan then place on top of the burger bun.

Add pickled cucumber or gherkin, mustard and tomato sauce on top of the cheese.

burger_1 (Large)

09 December 2009

Steamed Sea Urchin Egg Custard

This creation is probably a by-product from watching too many episodes of Iron Chef (Japanese version). I picked up a packet of Uni - Sea Urchin at the Sydney Fish Market for $11.50. I used about 1/4 of the packet for the mix sashimi platter that we devoured during the day. And for the remainder, I turned it into a Steamed Sea Urchin Egg Custard, that I had vaguely remember seeing one of the Iron Chefs do. Straining the Uni through a fine sieve and then incorporating it into an steamed egg like custard. This recipe is based off my chinese steamed egg dessert. The only difference is that I added uni, omitted the sugar, used a dashi broth base, added mirin, light soy and used cream instead of milk.

I have had something similar in Japan before, but that was with a whole sea urchin that was steamed with some sort of cream custard. The result was something that was surprisingly light and delicate with the sweet taste of uni.

Steamed Sea Urchin Egg Custard
Serves 2

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup Dashi broth (1 tablespoon of dashi granules with 1/3 cup of hot water)
  • 1 tablespoon of full cream
  • 1/2 pack of sea urchin (strained through a sieve, reserve a couple for decoration).
  • 1/2 tablespoon of Mirin
  • teaspoon of light soy sauce
  1. In a bowl, beat the egg and combine with the dashi broth and cream. Add the Mirin then the teaspoon of light soy.
  2. Strain the sea urchin through a fine sieve placed on top of the bowl. Discard any stringy parts.
  3. Pass the egg and sea urchin mixture through the fine sieve again.
  4. Bring a wok with some water to boil to be used as a steamer. Place a plate on top of the steaming rack.
  5. Divide the egg and sea urchin mixture between two ramekins.
  6. Remove any foam that may have formed around the rims.
  7. Once the water starts to boil, move the wok to the smallest stove top and keep the heat on the lowest setting.
  8. Cover the ramekins with some glad wrap. Place on top of the plate and steam for about 25 minutes or until the egg custard wobbles when you move the ramekin.
  9. Uncover the glad wrap, and place a couple of the reserved whole sea urchin roe on top of the egg custard.
  10. Cover, turn the heat off and let the ramekins rest for about 3 mins.
  11. Serve immediately.

uni1 (Large)

05 December 2009

Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

I'm a sucker for Zucchini flowers.. If they are on the menu, I would order them. No questions asked. Making them however, is a totally different story. Its always been a bit of a mess. The batter goes everywhere. Ricotta stuffing drips out. Or the batter would either be too thick or too thin... blah ~!

I think though.. I may have finely got it right this time. The difference is draining the ricotta cheese beforehand. By doing this, the cheese has more form and makes it easier when transferring from the batter mix into the deep fryer. Also, coating the stuffed zucchini flowers in a thin layer of cornflour before dipping it into the batter mix, helped to keep the batter coating on. The batter mixture itself had to pass the chopstick test. By that I mean, dipping the ends of a chopstick into the mixture, and when you pull out the chopstick, there should be a coating of batter around the ends that doesn't all drip off.

Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

  • 6 zucchini flowers
  • 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese (drained)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • 5 fresh sweet basil leaves (finely chopped)
  • 1 Anchovy fillet (minced)
  • Couple of grinds of fresh Pepper
  • 1 small chilli (finely chopped) - Optional

For the Batter & Frying

  • Enough vegetable or canola oil for deep frying
  • Enough Cornflour for coating the stuffed flowers
  • 2/3 cup all-purposed flour
  • Teaspoon of Bi-Carbonate of Soda
  • 1/2 cup of icy cold water

For serving

  • Sprinkle of sea salt flakes
  • Lemon Wedges


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the drained ricotta, egg, garlic, basil, cheese, anchovy fillet and fresh pepper. Once the mixure is combined, using a sandwich bag, spoon the ricotta mixture into the bag and set this aside.
  2. Clean each flower by patting it with a damp cloth. Gently spread open the petals of each flower and carefully pinch out the filaments inside.
  3. Using a pair of sissors, snip off one of the corners of the sandwich bag so that it turns into a pipping bag.
  4. With one hand holding the flower and opening flower petal, and the other with the pipping bag, fill up the zucchini flower with the ricotta mixture. You should be able to use the ends of the petal and give it a slight twist to keep the ricotta mixture in place. Lay these down onto a flat tray or plate. Repeat until all the zucchini flowers have been stuffed with the ricotta mixture.
  5. Sprinkle a thin layer of corn flour over the zucchini flowers. Turn each flower and make sure they are evenly covered.
  6. Heat about 1 1/2 inches of oil in a deep saucepan over medium-high heat until its hot enough to start frying.
  7. Mix together the remaining ingredients for the batter mix. Add more water if the batter is too thick. Or more flour if it is too thin.
  8. Once the oil is ready, taking one flower at a time... dip the flower into the batter, turning to coat completely. Lift out and let the excess drip off. Gently slip the battered flowers into the hot oil and fry until golden brown on all sides. This should take about 4 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the blossoms to paper towels to drain off any excess oil.
  9. Season with some sea salt flakes and serve immediately with some wedges of lemon.
zucchini (Large)


  • You can test this with a piece a small piece of bread. Or simply dip in the ends of a chopstick, and if it starts to bubble around the chopstick, then the oil is ready. It should not be smoking hot. If it is, the food will burn too quickly, turn the heat off to cool the oil until its no longer smoking.

17 November 2009

Sushi 寿司 - Daring Cooks Challenge

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen . They chose sushi as the challenge.

There is only one Asian grocery store within a 5km radius of where I live at the moment. Actually the Asian grocery store is the only thing I have. No fishmonger, butcher or supermarkets. And me being car-less at the moment, meant all my ingredients had to come from the Asian grocery store.

I'm actually allergic to Eel, I get rashes everytime I have eel. So gave the dragonroll a miss.

These are the ingredients I used in my sushi:

  • Sweet Egg Omelet
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
  • Faux crab meat mixed with Japanese Mayo
  • Canned Tuna mixed with Japanese Mayo
  • Seaweed
  • Japanese Mayo

I have made sushi many times before, but learning to make it the 'proper way' was definitely a challenge and a lot of fun. Thanks to Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen for picking a great challenge!

The challenge is in four parts:-

Part 1: Making proper sushi rice – you will wash, rinse, drain, soak, cook, dress, and cool short grain rice until each grain is sticky enough to hold toppings or bind ingredients. Then you will use the cooked rice to form three types of sushi:
Part 2: Dragon sushi roll – an avocado covered inside-out rice roll with a tasty surprise filling
Part 3: Decorative sushi – a nori-coated rice roll which reveals a decorative pattern when cut
Part 4: Nigiri sushi – hand-shaped rice rolls with toppings

This challenge is all about learning how to make restaurant-grade sushi rice plus the techniques for making creative sushi !

PART 1 : SUSHI RICE (makes about 7 cups of cooked sushi rice)

Preparation time: 1¾ hours consisting of :-

Rinsing and draining rice: 35 minutes
Soaking rice: 30 minutes (includes 5 minutes making the vinegar dressing)
Cooking and steaming time: 25 minutes
Finishing the rice: 15 minutes


  • 2½ cups uncooked short grain rice
  • 2½ cups water
  • For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water
Optional Ingredients

  • 3 inch (75mm or 15 grams) square dashi konbu (or kombu) (dried kelp seaweed) wipe with a damp cloth to remove white powder & cut a few slits in the sides of the kelp to help release its flavours
  • 2½ teaspoons (12.5 mls) of sake (Japanese rice wine)

Sushi vinegar dressing

  • 5 Tablespoons (75 mls) rice vinegar
  • 5 Teaspoons (25 mls or 21 grams) sugar
  • 1¼ Teaspoons (6.25 mls or 4.5 grams) salt

Rinsing and draining the rice

  1. Swirl rice gently in a bowl of water, drain, repeat 3-4 times until water is nearly clear. Don't crush the rice in your hands or against the side of the bowl since dry rice is very brittle.
  2. Gently place rice into a strainer and drain well for 30 minutes.
Soaking the rice

  1. Gently place the rice into a heavy medium pot with a tight fitting lid (if you have a loose fitting lid use a piece of aluminium foil to make the seal tight).
  2. Add 2½ cups of water and the dashi konbu
  3. Set the rice aside to soak for 30 minutes, during this time prepare the sushi rice dressing.
Preparing the Rice Vinegar Dressing

  1. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Heat on low setting.
  3. Stir until the mixture goes clear and the sugar and salt have dissolved.
  4. Set aside at room temperature until the rice is cooked.

Cooking the rice

  1. After 30 minutes of soaking add sake (if using) to the rice.
  2. Bring rinsed and soaked rice to the boil.
  3. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Do not remove the lid during this process. Turn off heat.
  4. Let stand with the lid on, 10-15 minutes. Do not peek inside the pot or remove the lid. During this time the rice is steaming which completes the cooking process.
Finishing the rice

  • Turning out the rice
  1. Moisten lightly a flat thin wooden spatula or spoon and a large shallow flat-bottomed non-metallic (plastic, glass or wood) bowl. Do not use metallic objects since the vinegar will react with it and produce sour and bitter sushi rice.
  2. Remove the dashi konbu (kelp) from the cooked rice.
  3. Use the spatula to loosen gently the rice and invert the rice pot over the bowl, gently causing the cooked rice to fall into the bowl in one central heap. Do this gently so as not to cause the rice grains to become damaged.
  • Dressing the rice with vinegar
  1. Slowly pour the cooled sushi vinegar over the spatula onto the hot rice.
  2. Using the spatula gently spread the rice into a thin, even layer using a 45° cutting action to break up any lumps and to separate the rice. Don't stir or mash rice.
  3. After the rice is spread out, start turning it over gently, in small portions, using a cutting action, allowing steam to escape, for about a minute.
  • Fanning & Tossing the rice
  1. Continue turning over the rice, but now start fanning (using a piece of stiff cardboard) the rice vigorously as you do so. Don't flip the rice into the air but continue to gently slice, lift and turn the rice occasionally, for 10 minutes. Cooling the rice using a fan gives good flavour, texture and a high-gloss sheen to the rice. The vinegar dressing will be absorbed by the hot rice. Using a small electric fan on the lowest speed setting is highly recommended.
  2. Stop fanning when there's no more visible steam, and all the vinegar dressing has been adsorbed and the rice is shiny. Your sushi rice is ready to be used.
  • Keeping the rice moist
  1. Cover with a damp, lint free cloth to prevent the rice from drying out while preparing your sushi meal. Do not store sushi rice in the refrigerator leave on the counter covered at room temperature. Sushi rice is best used when it is at room temperature.

* Tip: To make sushi rice: for each cup of rice use 1 cup of water, 2 Tbs rice vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp sake. For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water when cooking the sushi rice since the weight of rice can vary. Weight of 2½ cups of uncooked rice is about 525 grams or 18½ ounces.

PART 2 : Dragon Rolls (also called Caterpillar Rolls)

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice
Cooking time: about 5 minutes (grilling the eel)

Yield: 2 inside-out (uramaki) sushi rolls


  • 1 sheet 7”x8” (17.5cmx20cm) of toasted nori (dried seaweed sheets), cut into halves
  • 1/2 Japanese cucumber
  • 2 cups of prepared sushi rice
  • Glazed Barbecued Eel (ungai) (about 3½ ounces or 100 grams)
  • 1 Avocado
  • Vinegared Water – ½ cup of water combined with a dash of rice vinegar
  • Various small amounts of sauces to use as the flames of the dragon (or legs of a caterpillar)

  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams or 1 oz) Fish Roe (Fish eggs)


  1. Cut cucumber into strips ¼ inch (6mm) x 7” (175mm) long, then salt, rinse & dry the strips.
  2. Grill (broil) the eel for about 2-5 minutes until bubbling. Cut into two lengthwise strips.
  3. Halve, pit and peel the avocado. Cut the avocado halves into thin even 1/8 inch (3 mm) slices. Fan out the cut avocado into a 7 inch (175 mm) overlapping pattern.
  4. Cover bamboo mat with plastic wrap. Place a sheet of nori shiny side down, lengthwise, on the edge the mat.
  5. Moisten lightly your hands in the bowl of vinegared water.
  6. Place one cup of rice on the nori and gently rake your fingertips across grains to spread rice evenly. Do not mash or squash the rice onto the nori, the rice should appear loosely packed and be evenly distributed over the entire sheet, you should be able to see the nori sheet in a few places.
  7. Flip the rice-covered nori over (so the bare nori is now on top) and place on the edge of the mat closest to you.
  8. Arrange one of the eel strips across the length of the nori, not quite centred on it but a little closer to you. Place half the cucumber sticks next to the eel.
  9. Lift the edge of the mat closest to you with both hands, keeping your fingertips over the fillings, and roll the mat and its contents until the edge of the mat touches straight down on the nori, enclosing the fillings completely. Lift up the edge of the mat you're holding, and continue rolling the inside-out roll away from you until it's sealed. Tug at the mat to tighten the seal. If the rice doesn't quite close the roll add more rice in the gap and re-roll using the mat to completely cover the inside-out roll. Place the roll on a damp, clean smooth surface.
  10. Spread about 1 tablespoon of the optional fish roe along the entire top of the rice-covered roll. Using the plastic covered mat gently press the fish roe so it adheres to the rice.
  11. Slide a knife under one fan of avocado and transfer it onto the top of an inside-out roll. Gently spread out the avocado layer to cover the entire roll. Lay the plastic wrapped mat over the avocado-covered roll. Squeeze very gently to shape the roll.
  12. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the roll. Slice the roll into 6-8 equal, bite-sized pieces, wiping your knife with a damp towel before each slice. Discard the plastic wrap. Repeat the above to make one more roll.
  13. Arrange the cut pieces on a serving plate with the sauces so the finished dish appears as a dragon breathing fire and flames (or a caterpillar with many legs).

* Tip: The most common mistake is having too much filling the golden rule is less is more when it comes to making sushi it is easier to roll an under-filled roll than an over-filled roll.

* Tip: Dampen your knife with a moist lint-free towel before every cut – this prevents the sushi rice from sticking to your knife.

* Tip: Excellent videos on making Dragon Rolls

PART 3 : Spiral Sushi Roll

california rolls (Large)

This is easiest 'decorative' sushi roll.

Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice

Yield: One Roll, cut into 8 pieces


  • 2½ cups prepared sushi rice
  • 2 sheets of toasted nori, each sized 7”x8” (17.5cmx20cm)
  • Six assorted fillings, each filling should be the size of a pencil (see note below)


  1. Join 2 sheets of nori by moistening the adjacent edges and overlapping them about ½ inch (12mm)
  2. Place this double sheet shiny side down on a rolling mat, part of the nori will extend beyond the mat.
  3. Using moist fingers place 2½ cups of rice on the nori and gently rake your fingertips across grains to spread rice evenly, leaving ¼ inch (6mm) nori showing on the both ends of the sheet. Do not mash or squash the rice onto the nori, the rice should appear loosely packed and be evenly distributed over the entire sheet, you should be able to see the nori sheet in a few places.
  4. Using your fingers form six grooves (in the same direction that you will be rolling the mat) at even intervals across the bed of rice. Make the first groove about 2 inches (50 mm) from the edge of the nori sheet. Form the grooves by pushing the rice away, do not mash or squash the rice, leave a loose one grain layer of rice in the bottom of the grooves. Level the areas between the grooves where you have pushed the rice.
  5. Place your fillings in the grooves. Fill the grooves a little higher than the surrounding rice bed.
  6. Then roll the sushi up from the edge closest to you, this will form a spiral pattern of nori, rice and fillings inside the roll.
  7. Slice into 8 pieces with a very sharp wet knife, wiping the blade with a damp cloth after each cut.
  8. Place the pieces on a platter and garnish.

Make each groove about a finger-width wide they will hold about 1-2 tablespoons of filling. Use fillings that compliment each other and are highly coloured. Use parboiled vegetables cut into strips, seafood, left over eel, smoked fish or chicken, whole cooked beans, edible flowers etc....

PART 4 : Nigiri Sushi

egg_seaweed_sushi (Large)

Nigiri sushi is the type of sushi most often made in sushi bars. In Japanese, nigiri means “squeeze”.

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice

Yield: 14-16 pieces of sushi


  • 2 cups prepared sushi rice
  • 8 pairs of assorted toppings, 200 gms/7 ozs total of fish, meat or vegetables (see note below)
  • 1 tablespoon Wasabi (paste, reconstituted powder) or any other paste to adhere topping to rice


  • Garnishes such as Ginger (pickled), chilli strips, vegetables flowers etc
  • Thin strips of nori or vegetables (for tying topping on)


  1. When handling sushi rice, make certain your hands are very clean. To keep the rice from sticking to our hands moisten your hands with vinegared water.
  2. Form nigiri sushi by scooping up a small amount (about 2 tablespoons) of rice with your forefinger and second finger of your right hand and placing it in your cupped left palm.
  3. Use the fingers and thumb of your right hand to form it into a long, narrow mound (about 2 inches x 1 inch wide or 50mm x 25mm) in your cupped palm.
  4. Press enough to make the rice hold firmly together. Place the nigiri on a damp cutting board flat side down. Don't let sushi touch or they'll stick to each other. At this point, you can cover the sushi with plastic wrap, and they'll keep at room temperature (not the refrigerator) for several hours.
  5. Smear a thin line of wasabi on top of the rice and place the topping piece on it. You may need to press the topping down lightly with your fingers and adjust the shape of the rice accordingly to form an attractive piece of nigiri sushi. If your topping is very loose like fish roe you can place a strip of nori (higher than the rice) around the nigiri and form 'battleship' sushi. The cavity that the nori forms holds the topping so it does not fall off.
  6. Garnish as desired and use strips of nori (or vegetable) to tie the topping to the nigiri if needed.
  7. It is customary to make nigiri sushi in pairs, so make two of each variety.

* Tips: A great video on making nigiri sushi
A great web page on slicing fish for nigiri

13 November 2009

Azuki Red Bean Ice Cream

Ok.. I have to admit. I've fallen into a bit of a Japanese flavor ice cream phase. I'm trying so hard to not just go and make a green tea ice cream. I've been saving that can of macha (green tea powder) for last, making everything else I can think of before I go and open that can. For now, I've ticked off Black Sesame and Azuki (red bean)... I'm thinking one more before I go for the green tea. I'm not too keen on Wasabi ice cream. Lychee ice cream maybe ? Toro ice cream is another common flavor - but I'm not sure where to get Toro in Australia. I wonder what sweet potato ice cream would taste like ? :)


Azuki Red Bean Ice Cream

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 100g sweetened red bean paste
  • 300ml heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons Vodka

  1. Heat the milk in a heavy saucepan with the sugar and salt. Turn off the heat once the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Beat the egg yokes together. Add a bit of the warmed milk into the egg yoke mixture.
  3. While stirring the contents of the saucepan, slowly pour the milk egg mixture into saucepan. Put the saucepan back on a very low heat and stir constantly until it starts to thicken. You want to turn this mixture into a custard
  4. Take the mixture off the heat and whisk in the red bean paste really well. You can strain the whole mixture at this point to remove the lumps. But I prefer to keep the red beans in the ice cream for more texture.
  5. Let it cool for a few minutes and then stir in the cream. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  6. Churn the ice cream according to your ice cream maker's instructions.


08 November 2009

Baked Tomato Pork Chop Rice

This first time I tried this was at a "Cha Chaan Teng", which in english can roughly translate to "Hong Kong Cafe" or "Chinese Tea Restaurant". Its basically a small cafe \ restaurant which serves westernised-chinese crossed with street-hawker type cuisine. Therefore, in one of these places, you will be able to order claypot chicken rice \ congee \ instant noodles \ french toast all washed down with a cup of iced Yin-Yong - A combination of Coffee and Milk Tea.

Yin Yong...And don't mock it till you try it. Its addictive stuff I tell you. Its also in one of these cafe restaurants that you can also find the Baked Tomato Pork Chop Rice.

The baked tomato pork chop rice is basically a layer of egg fried rice, topped with some deep fried crumbed pieces of marinated pork chop, then smothered with tomato based sauce, topped with some cheese and then baked in the oven.

Baked Tomato Pork Chop Rice
Based on recipe at galaxylink - Serves 4

For the Fried Rice

  • 4 bowls of rice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oil
For the Pork Chop

  • 8 slices of pork chop
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chinese 5 spice mixture
  • 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon chinese wine
  • 1 garlic (mashed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornflour

Crumbling the Pork Chops

  • 1/2 cup flour (seasoned with some salt & pepper)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • oil for deep frying
For the Tomato Sauce:
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 clove garlic (chopped finely)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion (finely diced)
  • 1 cup of clear chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (made into a paste with some water)

For the Topping:

  • Shredded Chedder cheese
  1. Beat the pork chop the back of a chopper to loosen up the meat.
  2. Marinade the pork chops in with oil, salt, sugar, pepper, 5 spice, wine and garlic for half an hour.
  3. Dredge the pork chops a piece at a time, first in flour, then in the beaten egg and finally in the bread crumbs. Set aside in the fridge until ready for deep frying.
  4. Preheat oven to 200C.
  5. Heat oil in wok till hot. Add the eggs and scramble the eggs until its just cooked, remove and set aside. Add cooked rice and stir fry over high heat. Add salt and soy sauce, then add the scrambled eggs back in and mix in with the rice. Put the fried rice on a large oven proof dish and set aside.
  6. In a saucepan saute the garlic and the onions in oil until it turns transparent.
  7. Add in the chicken broth, then the canned tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a boil
  8. Add tomato ketchup, salt, pepper and worcestershire sauce.
  9. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. While the sauce is reducing, heat the oil for deep frying.
  10. Deep fry the pork chops in medium high heat till slightly golden brown and set aside on some paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
  11. Place the fried pork chop on top of the rice in a single layer. Thicken the tomato sauce with the cornstarch mixture. Pour the sauce evenly over the pork chop and sprinkle a handful of cheese over the top.
  12. Bake in the over for 5 minutes or till the sauce is slightly brown on top.
  13. Serve immedately - preferably with a cup of iced Yin Yong :)

pork chop rice

Tips on Crumbing:
  • Before you start crumbing, arrange the ingredients in a production line, in the order you'll be using them. ie. A large plate of flour seasoned with salt and pepper -> lightly beaten eggs into a bowl -> breadcrumbs on a separate large plate.
  • Try to keep one hand as the 'dry hand' handling the flour and breadcrumb plates and the other 'wet hand' for handling the marinated pork chops and the egg dredging part. This avoids your fingers to be crumbed as well :)
  • Once the pork chop pieces have been crumbed, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to rest before frying. This will help the crumb coating stick to the meat during cooking.

03 November 2009

Coq Au Vin - Cooked Under Pressure

Coq Au Vin is something I usually end up making for dinner over the weekend. The guys in my household are absolutely infatuated with chicken in red wine with onions, mushrooms and bacon. However, with the recent addition of my pressure cooker, I tried making this dish on a work day, and it was finished within 30 mins. Woot !

When I cook this dish in my dutch oven, I usually end up using a whole bottle of red wine. With the pressure cooker, because all the juices are trapped in, you actually need to reduce the amount of liquid, otherwise you will end up with a very watery sauce. Also with using the pressure cooker, I found it easier to just skip the braised onions part that Julia Child's recipe calls for. After all, I am using the pressure cooker to help me save time. :)

Coq Au Vin - Cooked Under Pressure
Based on Julia Child's Book ~ Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Feeds 4 to 6 people

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 250g of Speck (cut into 1.5cm width slices) - can substitute with bacon
  • 3 pieces of maryland chicken (Drumstick and thigh separated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 1 onion (halved then cut into quarters)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3/4 cup of beef stock
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 bay leaf


  1. In the pressure cooker, sauté the speck\bacon slowly in hot butter until it is very lightly browned.
  2. Dry and season the chicken thoroughly with the salt and pepper. Brown the chicken in the pressure cooker, which would now have the bacon fat rendered out already.
  3. Pour in the cognac. Either ignite the cognac with a lighted match and shake the cooker back and forth for several seconds until the flames subside, or just let the cognac cook off.
  4. Add in the onions.
  5. Pour the red wine into the cooker. Add in the beef stock. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Lock on the pressure cooker lid and bring the cooker to pressure on high setting (15 psi), then continue to cook for 15 mins.
  6. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the mushrooms in a separate pan (recipe follows).
  7. Sauteed Mushrooms:

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • handful of Button Mushrooms (halved or quartered if large)
    • 50g butter
    • 1 stalk green onion (finely sliced.. this is optional)
    • salt & pepper

  8. After 15 mins, turn the heat off and release the pressure from the cooker using the automatic release method. Remove the lid from the pressure cooker and taste the sauce and correct the seasoning if required.
  9. Keep the cooker over a low heat and prepare the finish for the dish (recipe follows)

    Finish (buerre manie):

    • 3 tablespoons flour
    • 2 tablespoons softened butter
    • Sprigs of fresh parsley (optional)

  10. Remove the chicken and arrange it in a casserole dish. Discard the bay leaves. The chicken should be tender enough to be able to fall off the bone easily.
  11. Blend the butter and flour together into a smooth paste. Mix the paste into the sauce in the pressure cooker with a wire whip. Bring to the simmer, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
  12. Place the sauteed mushrooms around the chicken and ladle the sauce and onions over the chicken and the mushrooms.
  13. If you like, decorate with spring for parsley. (this part is optional).

coq au vin - pressure cooked

Serve with some mash potatoes, rice or some bread to soak up the yummy sauce. :)

27 October 2009

Atsuyaki Tamago - Sweet Egg Omelet

I've always watched in awe from the sushi bar when the chefs make Atsuyaki Tamago - the sweet egg omelet used in maki sushi rolls and nigiri sushi pieces. So learning how to make this egg omelet (and eating it) was a lot of fun. :)

I research a bit online for a recipe that was easy to follow. One of the recipes I found, calls for 3 tablespoons of sugar, which between 6 eggs seems a bit too much. So I reduced it down to 2 tablespoons. For my tastes, the resulting omelet was definitely sweet enough with 2 tablespoons. Sieving the egg mixture is a step that shouldn't be skipped. It removes the parts of the egg whites that couldn't be broken down making the egg omelet a lot more smoother.

I don't have a proper Tamago pan, but I managed to do this fine with a normal frying pan.

Atsuyaki Tamago - Sweet Egg Omelet
Recipe adapted from kikkoman.com and Grab York Fork

  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of dashi powder dissolved into 1/2 cup of hot water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon mirin
  • 1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • pinch of salt
  • oil for the pan
  1. Beat the eggs until they are glossy and smooth without creating too much froth. Strain the eggs through a fine sieve.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the egg and mix well, taking care not to beat any air into the mixture and strain through the sieve again.
  3. Heat a lightly oiled pan and pour in about 1/4 of the mixture. Take care that the heat is moderate so the egg doesn't brown.
  4. When the egg is half set, roll 1/3 of the mixture forward over itself, and flip and roll again until you have a flattened egg omelet. Use a spatula to lift the egg slightly and chopsticks to help roll it over.
  5. Push the roll to the back of the pan and grease lightly again, making sure that oil gets under the egg.
  6. Pour in another quarter of the mixture and continue to roll the egg roll forward.
  7. Repeat until there is no more egg mixture left.
  8. If required, use the sushi mat to press the egg omelet into shape. Cool in the fridge until you are ready to slice and serve on rice or used in sushi

egg_omelet (Large)

26 October 2009

Black Sesame Ice Cream

I had some leftover Black Sesame Soup from the Chinese dessert I made the day before. I was thinking about Black Sesame Ice cream, but I wanted to try making an egg-less ice cream instead. ie. An ice cream that wasn't custard base. So that it wouldn't overpower the taste of black sesame.

This recipe I stumbled across from David Lebovitz's website is a gelato type of ice cream. The recipe does not call for any egg yokes, instead you use cornflour and milk to create the base.

The resulting ice cream was more delicate and really brought out the nutty flavors of the Black Sesame.

Black Sesame Gelato
Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz's Pistachio Gelato

Makes about 3 cups (3/4 liter)
  • 2 cups whole full cream milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 200ml black sesame soup paste (see recipe for black sesame soup dessert)
  • few drops of lemon juice
  1. Make a slurry by mixing the 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornflour, mixing until the starch is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
  2. Heat the rest of the milk in a medium-sized saucepan with the sugar.
  3. When it almost starts to boil, stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook at gentle simmer for 3 minutes, stirring and whisking constantly. Make sure there are no lumps left over from the cornflour
  4. Remove from heat, scrape into a bowl, and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.
  5. Once chilled, blend in the black sesame paste and just a few drops of lemon juice until smooth.
  6. Freeze the gelato in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Churn Snowy Churn.. !! :p

  • Optional Extra: Try serving with a teaspoon of Japanese sweet red bean paste on the top of the icecream. With the icecream resting on a layer of cornflakes below.

25 October 2009

Creamy Mushroom Risotto Balls

Risotto balls or Arancini balls make great starters or finger food type snacks. Once you have the base risotto made up, the process to make them into risotto balls is really quick and easy. All you really need is some flour, beaten up eggs and breadcrumbs. As a little extra, I prefer to add a small cube of cheese into the risotto ball. The deep frying process melts the cheese and crisps the breadcrumb layer. So that each little ball is crispy on the outside with its own molten cheesy center. Now how can anyone resist that ??! :P

Creamy Mushroom Risotto Balls
Adapted from Fratelli Fresh's recipe on Arancini Balls in Vogue Magazine

For the Risotto:
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion (chopped finely)
  • 1 leek (white and light green part only, finely sliced)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 - 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 250g mushrooms (sliced)
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 250ml white wine
  • 4 pieces of dried porcini mushroom
  • 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sage
  • 2 tablespoons chives (finely sliced)
  • 100g Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Bring the broth with the dried porcini mushrooms to a simmer
  2. Heat a large pot over a medium-high flame. Add in the olive oil and butter.
  3. As the butter melts, saute the onion and leek for 1 minute until it softens but doesn't brown.
  4. Add in the bay leaf, sliced mushrooms and chopped garlic and cook for another minute
  5. Season with freshly ground black pepper and salt
  6. Add the rice and saute for another minute, until it turns translucent.
  7. Pour in the wine and cook until the alcohol has evapourated and the rice as absorbed all the liquid.
  8. Begin to add the broth. One ladle at a time. Add the next ladle only when the previous liquid has been aborbed. Stir occasionally.
  9. Finely slice up the soaked porcini mushrooms (that was in the broth) and add these into the risotto rice
  10. Stop adding the broth when the rice has cooked to the equivalent of al dente for pasta.
  11. Add in the fresh herbs - in this case some parsley, sage & chives.
  12. Stir in the grated Parmesan Cheese then the butter.
  13. Cover the pot and let rest for about 3 minutes. This is the part that helps the risotto turn really creamy. Remove the lid, taste and add salt or more seasoning if required.
  14. Spread the rice out into a tray and allow the rice to cool to room temperature
For the Risotto Balls:
  • Risotto (cold) - See recipe above
  • Plain flour for dusting
  • Beaten eggs (one or two, depending on amount of risotto)
  • Meltable cheese - anything from mozzarella to cheddar (sliced into 1cm cubes)
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying
  1. With dampened hands, take a spoonful of risotto and flatten it out a bit in your hand
  2. Place the cheese cube in the middle then shape cold risotto into 4cm or so balls.
  3. Roll balls in flour. Shake off any excess flour.
  4. Roll balls in the beaten eggs
  5. Transfer and roll balls in breadcrumbs. Shake off any excess.
  6. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep saucepan until its hot enough for frying
  7. Deep fry the balls until golden brown.
  8. Remove the balls and let rest on a plate covered with paper towels
  9. Season with some flaky sea salt and serve immediately with a sauce of your choice.


  • To turn these up a notch, you can drizzle in a couple of drops of truffle oil into the risotto once its finished cooking.
  • You can refrigerate the risotto balls and repeat the 'egg - breadcrumbs' stage again to yield a slightly thicker crunchier coating.
  • The dried porcini mushrooms are optional, but a little bit of these babies do go along way in terms of taste
  • For the fresh herbs, I used Parsley, Sage and Chives. You can substitute with whatever you have available.
  • You can make this recipe up to a day ahead, and leave the pre-formed risotto balls in the refrigerator for up to a day. Just remember to cover them up well so the rice doesn't dry out too much.
  • The mushrooms can be substituted to any other flavoring ingredient like parma ham, seafood, pumpkin and other vegetables.

23 October 2009

Pho Ga - Daring Cook's Challenge

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge is from Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

There is a short version and a long version. Since I had only just touched down from my work trip to Melbourne, I opted for the shorter version. One of the rules of the challenge was that the longer version recipe was not to be reproduced on other sites. If you would like to try out the longer version, you can access the link to the recipe here - Pho Ga (long version)

The only grocery store that is within walking distance also did not have any limes, so I had to substitute with a lemon instead. I did also manage to pick up some mint leaves at the grocery store. I can't really imagine having Pho without mint leaves, so although the recipe doesn't call for them, I added them into my list of accompliments. I also used some fresh packaged rice noodles instead of buying the dried version.

Here is the recipe for the shorter version.
Pho Ga - Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Servings: Makes 4 servings


For the Chicken Pho Broth:
  • 2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
  • 1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
  • ½ onion
  • 1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
  • 1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
  • 1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce
  • 1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)


  • 2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
  • Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
  • ½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
  • ½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • Sriracha chili sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice
To make the Chicken Pho Broth:

  1. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
  2. In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
    Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
  3. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
  4. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
  5. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
  6. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
  7. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

18 October 2009

Black Sesame Dessert Soup

This has always been one of my favorite chinese desserts. Well.. then there is the sweetened steam custard, mango pudding and steamed coconut pudding. All my other favorites. :)

It does take a bit of time to prepare this dessert, but the steps are actually really easy.

The nutty aroma from the black sesame seeds is intoxicatingly addictive.. :)

Black sesame is readily available from Asian grocery stores. If you aren't able to get roasted seeds, then you can toast the seeds over a hot saucepan before soaking and grinding the seeds.

This maybe the only ediable recipe that has been passed to me from my mum. Although she admits she originally got it from one of her friends. The rice is used to thicken the black sesame concentrate. You do need to spend a fair bit of time in front of a blender and pressing the mixture through a fine sieve. This process does need to be repeated about 3 times. The left over husk can be discarded, but some of my friends who have tried the end product, prefer to add a teaspoon of the husk into the soup. Apparently this gives the soup a bit more 'texture'.

Black Sesame Dessert Soup
Recipe via word of mouth from my mum's friend... :)

Serves 4


  • 300g Roasted Black Sesame Seeds
  • 1/4 cup white rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 large pieces Rock Sugar - adjust to taste


  • fine-mesh sieve
  • blender
  • deep saucepan
  • large bowl


  1. Wash the white rice until the water runs clear.
  2. In a bowl, soak the rice with the black sesame seeds in about 2 cups of water. Then let sit for at least 2 hours
  3. Ladle about 2 spoonfuls of the soaked mixture into a blender and pulse until the black sesame seeds break open.
  4. With the fine-mesh sieve placed over the saucepan, pour the contents of the blender into the sieve. Using a soup spoon, push and strain the mixture through the sieve. Strain until the mixture starts to dry up.
  5. Set the strained mixture aside in another bowl.
  6. Spoon the strained mixture back into the blender add in about 1/2 cup of water and blend.
  7. Pour the contents of the blender into the sieve and continue to strain until the mixture dries up.
  8. Repeat this process until the soaked sesame bowl is empty, and all the black sesame seed husks are strained dry.
  9. Reserve the black sesame seed husks and set aside.
  10. Heat up the saucepan with the liquid black sesame, add in the rock sugar and slowly bring the contents to a simmer.
  11. The sesame soup should start to thicken as it simmers.
  12. Taste the soup and add more rock sugar if required.
  13. Add back in about 2 tablespoons of the reserved black sesame seed husk for a bit of texture and let simmer for about 5 minutes before serving.


  • You can serve this dessert soup with some Glutinous rice balls. Just cook the rice balls separately as per the instructions on the packet, then add into the dessert soup just before serving.
  • Glutinous rice balls are available in the freezer compartment of most Asian Grocery stores.
  • Toasted sesame seeds from Japan seem to taste better.

14 October 2009

Grilled Lemongrass Pork - Rice Paper Rolls

This is a recipe I found online for making Vietnamese-Style Grilled Lemongrass Pork.

We used this lemongrass pork as the main ingredient for making Vietnamese rice paper rolls. Along with some nuoc cham dipping sauce, these were perfect on a warm summer night.

For the rice paper rolls (you can use a combination of any of the items listed):

  • Mint leaves
  • Coriander
  • Basil
  • Rice noodles (soaked for 2 mins in warm water, then pan fried)
  • Cucumber (finely sliced)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Lettuce
  • Rice paper spring roll sheets

Vietnamese-Style Grilled Lemongrass Pork
recipe adapted from Viet World Kitchen

For the Lemongrass Pork:

  • 400g pork neck (sliced into 1/2" thick pieces)

  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (trimmed and finely chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 bird's eye chilli (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon seasame oil

Pork in Marinade

  1. Slice the pork neck into pieces about 1/2" thick. Set aside.
  2. Put the sugar, garlic, shallot and lemongrass into food processor and blend into a fine texture.
  3. Pour out the mixture into a bowl. Add in the finely chopped up chilli, white pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce, and oils and mixed to combine well.
  4. Add the pork, and turn to coat well.
  5. Cover and set aside at room temperature to marinate for 1 hour. Or refrigerate up to 24 hours, letting the meat sit out at room temperature for 45 minutes to remove some of the chill before grilling.
  6. Preheat a grill pan to medium-high. Grill each piece for a couple of minutes, until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and serve with the other rice paper roll ingredients.

Making a rice paper roll

The end product... Yummy!


  • You can substitute about 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder for the lemongrass instead.

  • When using the rice paper sheets, dip them in a bowl of cold water for about 2 seconds, then lay flat on a clean plate. The rice paper will become soft as it absorbs the water.

13 October 2009

Vietnamese Basic Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

This sauce is used to add flavor to foods wrapped in lettuce or herbs, grilled meat with noodles or rice. I almost always drench my food in it when I have Vietnamese food. It does seem to heighten the overall eating experience. With this batch I made, I used this as a dipping sauce for my rice paper rolls.

Vietnamese Basic Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)
recipe adapted from Viet World Kitchen

Makes ¾ cup

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
Optional additions:
  • 1 small garlic clove (finely chopped)
  • 1 bird's eye chilli (thinly sliced)
  • Zest of the lime used
  1. Combine the lime juice, sugar and water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Taste and adjust the flavors to balance out the sweet and sour.
  2. Add the fish sauce and any of the optional ingredients. Taste again and adjust the flavors to your liking, balancing out the sour, sweet, salty and spicy. Aim for something a little stronger than what you'd normally like.
  • This sauce may be prepared early in the day and left to sit at room temperature.
  • Use half lime juice and half Japanese rice vinegar for a less assertive sauce - Some more delicately flavored dishes may require this instead.

12 October 2009

Buffalo Wings

These are a different version of Buffalo Wings to the ones you can get from a pub in the States. I tried to make these a bit more 'healthier', so therefore these are oven baked and not fried. I also marinate them in some lemon juice and freshly grounded cumin before baking them. After baking the wings, I throw them into the saucepan with the prepared sauce and then put the sauce-coated wings under the grill for about 3 mins. Just enough for the sauce to start bubbling on the wings.
You can serve these with some blue cheese sauce or have them just as is. The perfect snack during poker game nights. :)
Buffalo Wings
Marinate, mix together and let stand for about 1-2 hrs:
  • 1 kg Chicken Wings (separated, tips removed)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoon of cumin (grounded)
  • 3 garlic cloves (roughly chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grounded black pepper
Bake wings on a wire rack (with a baking tray below to catch the juices & oil dripping), at 180C for about 10 minutes.
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
  • 6 tablespoons hot sauce (I used Frank's)
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grounded black pepper
Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add in the remaining ingredients for the hot sauce and let heat up to a slow simmer.

Add in the baked chicken wings and toss together so that the sauce coats the wings.

Arrange wings in a baking dish and put back into the oven on the grill setting. Let the wings grill for about 3 minutes on high or until you can see the sauce on the wings start to bubble up.

Serve immediately.

11 October 2009

Warm Soft Chocolate Cake

I spent 15 hrs straight at work yesterday...yes..a Saturday. When I finally managed to pull myself out of bed today, I was in much need of some cooking therapy. The only thing on my mind was something sweet. Chocolate.
I could only think about dessert. Well.. since I've already skipped lunch, dinner and breakfast .. Somehow starting my day with dessert didn't seem too extreme. :)

I browsed the web for a simple and quick chocolate dessert and I stumbled across this recipe. It looks very similar to the molten chocolate babycakes that usually make.

Molten Chocolate Magic
Recipe adapted from Suzanne Lenzer


  • 100g unsalted butter, plus more to butter the molds
  • 100g bittersweet chocolate (I used 70% cocoa)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons plain flour


  1. Butter 4 ramekins. Then place them into the fridge until they are ready to be used.
  2. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, heat the butter and chocolate together until the chocolate is almost completely melted.
  3. While that's heating, beat the eggs, egg yolks in the mixing bowl, gradually adding sugar, until the mixture is thick and pale yellow and forms a ribbon
  4. Mix together the melted chocolate, butter and vanilla extract. The chocolate mixture should be warm to touch. Pour in the egg mixture, then quickly beat in the flour until just combined.
  5. Preheat the oven to 220C. Bake the molds on a tray for 6 to 7 minutes; the center will still be quite soft, but the sides will be set.

You can invert each mold onto a plate and let sit for about 10 seconds. Unmold by lifting up one corner of the mold, the cake will fall out onto the plate. I skipped this step and just left the cakes in the ramekins. Serve immediately with some vanilla ice cream.

08 October 2009

Claypot Chicken Rice

I've always loved the tasty claypot rice from the street stalls in Hong Kong. Actually been craving for it. So I've been trying to replicate it at home in the past couple of months... to some limited success. :P

The rice is supposed to form a fragrant brown crispy layer around the bottom of the claypot

However, the many times I've tried cooking it, I always seemed to burn that layer. The taste and flavour of the chicken was the same, but I'm not really fond of eating burnt rice.

So as a work around, I let the rice cook on the stove top for about 15 mins, while that was cooking, pre-heat the oven to about 180C then place the marinated chicken over the semi-cooked rice, then finish the dish in the oven instead of keeping it over the stove top.

Here is the recipe...

Claypot Chicken Rice
  • 2 ½ cups rice (washed and drained)
  • 2 Chinese sausage (sliced diagonally)
  • 1 ½ cm thick piece salted fish
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • water from the soaked mushrooms


  • 3 chicken pieces (Thigh pieces or Drumstick - cut into 3cm wide pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 thumbsized piece of ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon corn flour
  • 5 Chinese mushrooms (soaked, stalk removed, cut into half - water reserved)


  1. Mix chicken, mushrooms with marinade and let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Put rice and the reserved water from the soaked mushrooms into a claypot, add in salted fish, cover and let simmer over a lower fire till the rice is semi-cooked. (This should take about 15 minutes)
  3. Pre-heat oven to 180C
  4. Pour the marinated chicken, mushrooms and chinese sausages over the rice
  5. Cover the claypot and put into the oven
  6. Leave for about 15-20 mins until the chicken is cooked.
  7. Serve by drizzling the dark soy sauce over the chicken.

If you like the extra bit of semi-burnt rice, then put the claypot back on top of the stove and keep it on low heat for about 3 mins.

28 September 2009

Eggplant Curry (Brinjal Curry)

I've been trying to replicate this dish for a while. This was something I had while I was working in Singapore from the '3 veg & rice' food court store. It's like a curry, only it was more intense and rich in flavor but wasn't overly hot in the chilli spice compartment. I didn't have much luck trying to find a base recipe online though. Most the returns from Google on eggplant curry didn't seem to use the ingredients I remember tasting. I tried using 'Aubergine' instead, but didn't have much luck either. I found this recipe by chance, when another site mentioned the Malay word for eggplants - Brinjals ... and I used that in my search instead :)

Eggplant Curry (Brinjal Curry)
Adapted from Rich Brinjal Or Long Bean Curry

In a food processor or pestle mortar combine the following ingredients:
  • 5 shallots
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons dried shrimp (rehydrated in water, finely chopped - water reserved)
  • 1 thumbsized piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 thumbsized pieces fresh young turmeric
Discard stalks of brinjals. Slice into two, lengthwise. Then crosswise into 5cm slices. Soak in cold water for about 1 hr. Drain the eggplants, then stir fry them in a heated wok with some oil
  • 300g Eggplants (Sliced & soaked in water)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
Remove the eggplants and set a side.

Add in a bit more oil to the wok and pour in the turmeric mixture from the food processor

Add in the following and stir fry to combine together:
  • 3 fresh red chillies (chopped finely)
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
Pour back in the cooked eggplant and mix in with the fried turmeric mixture. Add in the following:
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
Bring to slow boil until vegetables are soft and cooked. Sprinkle some fried shallots over the top of the curry before serving. This part is purely optional. Serve with some steamed rice.

26 September 2009

Steamed Jumbo Oysters with Black Bean Sauce

Its actually hard to tell how big these oysters were from the photos. I picked these up from my local Asian fishmonger store. They couldn't exactly tell me where these were from (probably because they couldn't understand my broken mandarin), but on the sign it said they were called 'Jumbo Oysters'.

These are probably about triple the size of the usual Sydney rock oysters I pick up from the Pyrmont fish market.

They were only $8 per half dozen, so I thought.. if I screwed them up, then it was only just an $8 lesson anyway. Its not like I'm playing around with a lobster or something like that. :)

With the oysters this big, the shell made a perfect sized container for the glass noodles, shallots and black bean sauce.

Steamed Jumbo Oysters with Black Bean Sauce

  • 1/2 Dozen of Jumbo Oysters
  • 1 packet Glass Noodles (soaked in cold water for about 8-10 mins then drain)
  • 1 stalk chinese green onion (thinly sliced diagonally)
  • 12 coriander leaves (handpicked)
Arrange the drained glass noodles on top of the oysters then add the sliced up green onions and the coriander leaves.

Mix together in a bowl, using a spoon to mince up the black beans:
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh fermented black beans (rinsed through water)
  • 1 small red chilli (finely sliced)
  • 1 teaspoon of white sugar
Add about 1/2 tablespoon of the black bean sauce mixture over the oysters. And bring some water to boil in a wok, place the oysters on top of a steamer stand in the wok and let steam for about 3-4 minutes.

Place about 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a saucepan on high heat. After a couple of minutes, pour a couple of drops of the hot oil over each oyster. This will quickly cook the green onions and black beans.

  • I buy the individually packed glass noodles. If you aren't able to get the individually packed ones, then just break off about a handful of noodles.
  • Fermented black beans can be found at Asian supermarkets. One packet will last forever in your fridge if you place it an airtight container after 1st open. You do need to rinse through the black beans with some water prior to using it. This takes away some of the saltiness and also removes any sand or grit that maybe present.

23 September 2009

Stuffed Capsicum & Black Bean Sauce

I remember posting up a similar dish, but using eggplants instead of capsicum. I'm usually not a capsicum fan, but we had quite a bit left over in the fridge after our recent thai curry escapade. The boys seemed to enjoy it a lot more than the eggplant version though. They managed to finish all the steam rice I had cooked for the night (I usually have enough leftover to be able to make fried rice the next day !!) with just this dish alone.

To key is to be able to get your hands on some fresh fish paste. I've tried using frozen ones from the Asian groceries and it never really taste the same. Most Asian fishmongers will have fish paste. Or you can use a food processor and make your own with some inexpensive white fish. If you are making your own, after processing it through the food processor, you need to grab the paste in one hand and throw it down into a large bowl so it makes a 'spat' sound for a couple of minutes. This process, which my daddy taught me (and he is a chef), makes it turn in a fish paste that he calls 'sticky' and it holds together better. And also according to him.. I quote: 'Has a nicer texture when eating it'.

I have only made my own fish paste once (before I discovered it was readily available at my local Asian fishmonger at $5 a packet), after that I've never really bothered to make my own. It was just a bit too much work. >.<

Stuffed Capsicum with Black Bean Sauce
Original recipe passed to me from my grandma

  • 2x Capsicums (seeds removed, sliced into 1/4 lengthwise, then halved again crosswise into chunks)
  • Small bowl of Cornflour (to be used during the 'stuffing' process)
  • ~300g White Fish paste (from chinese grocery shops)
  • 2 tablespoon of dried shrimp (soaked in water, finely chopped - water reserved)
  • 3 tablespoons of coriander (roughly chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt & a pinch of ground white pepper


  • Dash of vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (smashed and finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of fermented black beans (fresh or use black bean paste from chinese grocery shops)
  • 1 fresh red chilli (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of white sugar


  1. To prepare the capsicum, remove the seeds and slice into quarters lengthwise, then crosswise into half. You should have 8 pieces from each capsicum.
  2. Mix together the fish paste with dried shrimps and coriander. Season with salt and white pepper.
  3. Rub some cornflour on the insides of the eggplant piece and place about 1 tablespoon of the mixed fish paste into the eggplant. (The cornflour helps hold the fish paste in place).
  4. Shallow fry the stuffed capsicum pieces in some hot oil.
  5. Remove the pieces as the capsicum pieces start to blacken a bit and set aside.
  6. In a medium hot wok, add the oil then stir in the garlic. Add in the stuffed capsicum pieces and pour in the mixture of black bean, chilli, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Keep on stirring the contents around so it wont burn too easily.
  7. Add a couple of tablespoons of the reserved shrimp water in and continue stir frying the stuff capsicum pieces around. Each piece should have a coating of the black bean sauce.

Serve with some steamed white rice. Enjoy :)

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