Monday, 28 March 2011

Greetings from China!

Hello everyone! Just an update to let you know that I am travelling through China right now. My dad is actually posting this on my behalf from Malaysia because Blogger is blocked in China at the moment... who knew? I'm having a wonderful time here - I've had some very delicious meals and fun experiences so far, and doubtlessly there will be more to come. I look forward to sharing them with all of you in greater detail upon my return in mid-April - take care,all!
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Sunday, 20 March 2011

stir-fried snow pea sprouts with tofu

a box of snow pea sprouts (dou miao in mandarin), also known as snow pea shoots.

As a child, I wasn't very keen on snow pea sprouts. I just found them a bit... blah. Surprisingly, though, I've grown rather fond of them in recent years, and for the past several weeks I've actually found myself reminiscing about my mum's stir-fried snow pea sprouts. Funny that!

So a few days ago, I bought snow pea sprouts for the very first time in my life, and attempted to make something similar to what I used to get at home. While my tofu didn't turn out quite as delightfully golden and crispy as my mum's (will have to remember to enquire about that the next time we have a chat), I am happy with the results. The flavours were simple, familiar... gratifying. And, unlike my younger self, I had no problem devouring it all in one go.

stir-fried snow pea sprouts with pan-fried tofu for one

100g snow pea sprouts (snip them in half if the stems are long)
100g firm tofu, sliced into thin squares or rectangles
1 clove garlic, minced
oil, for frying
pinch of salt
light soy sauce and sesame oil, to taste

- In a frying pan, heat up a little oil and fry the tofu on both sides till golden brown. You may omit the oil if using a non-stick pan. I did mine for 2 - 3 minutes on one side, then 1 - 2 minutes on the other side. Place tofu in a bowl and sprinkle through a pinch of salt.
- Heat up a little more oil in the frying pan and briefly fry garlic until golden, then add the snow pea sprouts and stir-fry until they are just tender. This should only take several seconds.
- Drizzle snow pea sprouts with light soy sauce and sesame oil and toss lightly. Chuck in the tofu, serve with rice, and enjoy!

How do you like snow pea sprouts? Do you change your mind about certain foods as you grow older?

stir-fried snow pea sprouts with pan-fried tofu

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Friday, 18 March 2011

yeah maan, south yarra

yeah maan is situated on 340 punt road, south yarra.

I'd never tried Jamaican food before. So when I got my hands on a discount voucher for Yeah Maan Rastarant, I was pretty darn excited. I had no idea what to expect, and sometimes, this is exactly what I like - as long as there are pleasant surprises along the way!

And there were. When Simon decided upon the warm soca chicken salad, I thought we could've done better with one of the more unusual-sounding options. However, it turned out to be a great choice - the herbs, spices, and tomatoes worked in lovely tangy harmony with the chicken in the salad.

warm soca chicken salad

The other entree we had, aloo pies, was a suitably exotic one - doughy, starchy pieces drizzled with a sweet and just slightly sour tamarind sauce. This was quite unlike anything we've had - and we liked it.

aloo pies

Soon afterwards, our mains arrived.

I got the Jamaican jerk chicken. Now, from what I've read and heard elsewhere, I was under the impression that this famous Jamaican dish is a hot one, but while it was beautifully spiced, there wasn't really any heat. As a chilli-lover, I couldn't help but be just a bit disappointed. Still, setting that aside, it tasted good, and the chicken was super tender and juicy. I also enjoyed the mildly sweet cassava chips that were served on the side - they had a good bite to them.

jamaican jerk chicken

Simon got the special fried fish, which was really delicious. Again, this was very nicely cooked - the fish was just right, and I totally loved the sweet and sour sauce. It made me want to try making something similar at home!

the "yeah maan special fry fish"

Dessert time! Actually, whilst service had been prompt and efficient up to this point, desserts took quite a long time to arrive. Still, they finally did.

Simon got the diplomatic sticky date pudding. Now why was this pudding diplomatic, I had no idea. Anyway, Simon said it was alright, but did not share it with me. What a meanie.

diplomatic sticky date pudding

I had the upside down pineapple cake. Upside down and down-to-earth, this may not be anything fancy but it was sweet, dense and moist - a satisfying end to my first Jamaican experience!

down side up pineapple cake

Yeah Maan on Urbanspoon

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Sunday, 13 March 2011

no-cook spicy chilled vegan avocado soup

You know that scene in Bridget Jones' Diary? You know, the one that sent a gazillion women around the world swooning?

"But the thing is, um, what I'm trying to say, very inarticulately, is, that um, in fact, perhaps despite appearances, I like you. Very much."

"Ah, apart from the smoking, and the drinking, the vulgar mother... and the verbal diarrhea."

"No, I like you very much. Just as you are."

(cue Van Morrison crooning Someone Like You in the background)


avocado

Okay, I have a confession to make. I don't like avocado, just as it is.

Sure, I enjoy some avocado in my salsa, and I was really rather fond of them in these banana avocado pancakes. But a little manipulation is always in order when I prepare an avocado dish: to make it work for me, its uniquely odd taste has to be offset by other elements in the dish and be almost imperceptible.

Which brings us to this delectably refreshing no-cook chilled spicy avocado soup. What do I like about this soup? Well, I like that no cooking is required. I like how it can be made so quickly and easily with just a trusty knife, blender and refrigerator. I like how it is not just lightly chilled - but unreservedly icy cold. I like how it tastes so clean and light, thanks to the raw vegan ingredients. I like that it has the creaminess of avocado and the feistiness of lime, chilli, garlic and mint. I like that it is so easy to wash up afterwards.

In fact, I think I like it, very much. Just as it is.

no-cook spicy chilled avocado soup - the thick, creamy version.

no-cook chilled spicy vegan avocado soup appetizer (serves 4)

chopped flesh of 1 small avocado
juice of 1/2 lime (approx. 1 tablespoon)
1 - 2 small hot chillies, chopped (include the seeds if you like it spicy - I do!)
1 small clove garlic, minced
4 mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
water and ice cubes

- Combine avocado, lime juice, chillies, garlic, mint leaves and salt in a bowl. Gently mash and mix with a fork, cover and set aside in the fridge for at least half an hour to let the flavours marry.
- When serving time beckons, blend all ingredients till smooth, adding water and ice cubes gradually to achieve your ideal dilution and consistency. I made both a thick and a thin version and surprisingly preferred the latter. Do a taste test as you go along!

- Serve this icy-cold spicy avocado soup immediately with with the option of salt and black pepper on the side, plus a wedge of lime.

(Tip: you can adapt this recipe to make a great avocado dip as well - instead of following the steps above, blend all ingredients together without the ice cubes and just a splash of water, then chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.)

for a super cool, light and refreshing soup, use more water and ice. tada!

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Sunday, 6 March 2011

a rustic carrot onion omelette

an easy carrot and onion omelette.

I know, I know. This is but a mere vegetable omelette. And so simple, you probably don't even need the recipe. Still, this homely dish, with its effortlessly natural mix of sweet and savoury, never fails to put a smile on my face. My mum tends to serve this carrot onion omelette with rice or congee for lunch or dinner, but you can easily adopt it as a breakfast omelette as well. Back home in Malaysia, I always reach for my share of this omelette eagerly when mum puts it on the family dining table, so today I'm sharing it with you.

carrot onion omelette

1 small carrot
1 small onion
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
oil, for frying
soy sauce and pepper, to taste

- Julienne carrot and onion, or just slice them into similarly sized strips.
- Lightly whisk the eggs and salt in a bowl with a fork.
- Continue along the following steps, either using all the mixture to make one big omelette, or dividing into batches to make 2 - 4 smaller omelettes.
- In a frying pan, sauté carrot and onion in a little oil for 3 - 5 minutes over medium heat.
- Spread the carrot and onion pieces evenly across the pan.
- Pour the egg mixture over the carrots and onions, swirl to coat the pan more evenly.
- Fry for 2 or 3 minutes until set, then flip over and continue to cook for 1 minute.
- Serve carrot onion omelette with soy sauce and pepper on the table, so that everyone can help themselves and season to their liking!

carrots and onions lend a sweet, savoury deliciousness to this omelette.

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Wednesday, 2 March 2011

maggie beer's farm shop, barossa valley

the entrance to maggie beer's farm shop. yes, that's my reflection in the glass.

As some of you may know, I went to Adelaide, South Australia in January for a holiday with my family, and we all had a pretty good time. If I were to pick a major highlight of the trip, though, I'd say the visit to Maggie Beer's Farm Shop in Barossa Valley stands out as my favourite. Here, then, is the long overdue post.

why, fancy seeing you here!

One of the charming things about Maggie's farm shop is the very high likelihood that you will be greeted by the sight of wandering peacocks soon after you stroll in.

mr.peacock struts his stuff.

Then there's the delightful scenario of getting to sample almost everything that is for sale in the shop. Sauces, biscuits, pates, jams, wines, verjuice... need I go on?

we spent a significant amount of time sampling goodies.

Before long, it was time for brunch, and the picnic fare was beckoning. I believe the one we went for was called the seasonal cheese picnic basket. We also threw in two little tubs of ice cream for good measure.

a lovely picnic basket.

Now this is the kind of stuff that makes you feel connected to the simple pleasures in life.

cheese, quince paste and dried muscatels (I think) to go with bread.

This seasonal fruit tart served with Jersey fresh cream was luxuriously down-to-earth... a joy to eat.

fruit tart + cream = bliss.

I couldn't leave without purchasing some delicious food souvenirs. Holidays may not last forever, but I know when I'm back home, those verjuice and rosemary biscuits and that sweet golden tokay will take me away from the daily routine for just a little while... before they're all gone.

verjuice and rosemary biscuits and classic tokay from maggie beer's farm shop.

Maggie Beer's Farm Shop on Urbanspoon

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