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 :)

21 September 2009

Pesto Mayonnaise & BLT Sandwich

With the 2nd batch, I was able to make about 1 cup of the Garlic Mayonnaise (Aioli). Of which, the first few tablespoons I used on top of some toasted bread. The next half of that batch, I used by just dumping it on top of some hot roasted potatoes. Which by the way, was super yummy !

I still had quite a bit left afterwards (about 1/4 cup in fact) and I think I had just about reached my limit with the 'garlic breath' side effects.

So I turned it into a Pesto mayonnaise, and used it in my super BLT sandwich. Which is pretty much just BLT (bacon, lettuce & tomatoes) with anything else thats available in my fridge.

Pesto Mayonnaise

Mince together in a food processor (you can do this by hand if you like):

  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoon lightly toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • couple of grinds of black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup garlic mayonnaise (see this recipe)

If you are using normal mayo from the supermarket, then add in 1 garlic clove into the pesto mix.

BLT Sandwich

Makes 2 sandwiches:

  • 6 slices wholemeal bread (lightly buttered)
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 ripe tomatoes (sliced)
  • 4 leaves iceburg lettuce (washed & passed through a salad spinner)
  • Pesto Mayonnaise (see recipe above)
  • salt & pepper to taste

The following ingredients are optional - Its just something I decided to add in (in an attempt to clear out my fridge):

  • Mushrooms
  • capers
  • cheese

I started off with the 1st slice of bread, added in the cheese, and mushrooms (which I quickly cooked in the pan I had used for the bacon) and a slice of bacon. Drizzled on some pesto mayo. Topped that with another slice of bread (wanted to keep the BLT part a bit separate), and added the remaining bacon, drizzle on more pesto mayo then added the sliced tomatoes and lettuce. Sprinkled a few capers over the layer of lettuce and closed the sandwich off with the last slice of bread. Repeat to make the next sandwich.

Slice the sandwich in half and secure with some toothpicks.

I actually think this looks more like a club sandwich than a BLT now. :)

20 September 2009

Garlic Mayonnaise - Aioli

I first tried making this in my trusty magimix food processor - Petals. Yes.. she is named Petals. :)

But I couldn't get the egg yoke\garlic mixture to combine with the olive oil. I think I added too much oil too fast. After about 20 mins of blending, I gave up with Petals, and went back to my pestle mortar. I started added in the olive oil this time literally drop by drop in the beginning, and slowly increased it to about a teaspoon every time. The Aioli turned out beautifully this time.

Garlic Mayonnaise - Aioli
based on this recipe from David Lebovitz

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (maybe more required)
  • 1 large egg yolk (room temperature)
  • 1 cup (250ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon white wine vinegar (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  1. Crush the garlic cloves with the salt in a mortar until you have a smooth paste. Transfer to a large glass bowl.
  2. Add the egg yolk.
  3. Using a fork or whisk, add the oil to the egg and garlic mixture starting very slowly, drop by drop. Continue until all the oil has been incorporated.
  4. If it gets too thick you can dilute it slightly with a tablespoon of warm water - don't add more oil, it will just get thicker. Taste, and add more of the mashed up garlic, if desired.
  5. I added in some white wine vinegar and a bit of sugar after tasting the mayonnaise. I guess I'm a bit too used to the 'sour' types of mayonnaise available at the supermarkets. :)

P.S. Make sure you have some breath mints handy. :)

15 September 2009

Thai Cucumber Salad - Yum Tang Gwa

My lovely cousin is in town this week. While we were out at dinner last night, we were talking about the things she missed most while working abroad. A nice home-cooked meal was something that was mentioned. So I asked her what type of food did she feel like having and if she was free to come over to dinner tonight. She replied .. "Yes... Thai food please".

Darn.. She picked the one cuisine that we probably make the least at home.

Cantonese, Italian, Steak, Casseroles and Japanese type cuisine dishes would be what we usually stick with.

But, alas.. Thai it was. I opted for my Thai Chilli Mussels (just because it was a work day, and its simple enough to whip up in a flash), I did add more liquid and coconut cream so it also doubled as a soup. I made a pot of Green Curry Chicken (full recipe to come later) and a Thai Cucumber Salad as a side dish to help offset the fullness of the coconut milk in the other dishes.

This is based on a recipe I found on Chez Pim's site. I changed it slightly to just stir frying the shallots and sprinkling in some already fried shallots I had in my pantry instead. I also drained some of the water out of the cucumber by tossing some salt through it. And added some lime zest to give it a bit more zing. :)

Thai cucumber salad - Yum Tang Gwa
Original recipe from Chez Pim - Thai Cucumber Salad

  • 2 large cucumbers (peeled then sliced thinly)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup of mint (roughly ripped by hand)
  • 1/4 cup of basil leaves (roughly ripped by hand)
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves
  • 1 cup of shallots (thinly sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
  • sprinkle of dried fried shallots

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • Grated lime zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon of palm sugar
  • 2 red chillies (finely chopped) <-- You can add more if you like.


  1. Peel and cut the cucumbers into thin slices.
  2. Toss the cucumber in some salt, and let stand for 30 mins or so in a colander.
  3. Place a pan over low heat, add the coconut flakes and stir constantly until they are evenly brown. Set aside.
  4. Wipe the pan clean, add some oil into it and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the shallot slices and stir fry, stirring occasionally, until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. To make the dressing, first you nuke the palm sugar (in a bowl in the microwave) for 20-30 seconds just to melt it and make it easier to blend with the other ingredients. Then add the fish sauce, stir to blend. Add the lime juice, zest, then the rice vinegar. Taste it and see if you need more acidity, if so, add more rice vinegar to taste. Add the chopped chilli
  6. In a salad bowl, add the cucumber slices. Reserve a bit of the coconut, and the herbs for garnish. Dump the rest into the salad bowl. Pour in about 2/3 of the dressing, toss well.
  7. Taste it and see if you'd like a bit more dressing, then add more as needed. Sprinkle with the fried shallots, coconut, and herbs and serve.


  • Due to time constraints, I didn't bother with deseeding the cucumber before slicing it. In retrospect, the next time I make this again, I will probably take the time to deseed the cucumber.

14 September 2009

Choc Chip Banana Muffins

I'm stuck with some 'I-Think-I-Should-Throw-These-In-The-Bin' type bananas again. After throwing away the ones I don't even think I should attempt to peel, I was lucky enough to be left with enough bananas for my muffin recipe. I change my recipe a bit this time, and used 1 more egg, added some chocolate chips I had lying around and also added some rum extract to give it a bit more of a kick. :)

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
recipe originally adapted from allrecipes.com.au

  • 4 Large bananas (mashed)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup soften butter (about 100g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • 1/3 cup of Dark Choc Chips


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C.
  2. Sift and combine the flour with baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl blend butter with the sugar until it goes a light creamy colour, add in the eggs then mashed bananas and vanilla and rum.
  3. Fold the wet mixture into the dry flour bowl. Sprinkle in the chocolate chips. Be careful not to over stir.
  4. Spoon mixture into a buttered muffin tray, about 3/4 full, then place into the oven for about 15-20 mins.
  5. You should be able to prick a toothpick into the center of the muffin and it should come out clean.

Makes 6 large muffins. Enjoy :)

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