Category Archives: Dinner

{e cooks} pad thai

It started with me posting a photo of tom yum soup followed by yum voon sen on instagram. I was thinking what to cook next and someone commented “pad thai”. I love all things Thai but pad thai is my least favourite Thai food. But someone in the family loves it. So, challenge accepted.

IMG_6445.JPG

Normally when I cook, I’ll look for the easiest dishes to cook which involves minimal preparation and cleaning up. But now, I’m slowly moving on to slightly complicated dishes. I’m ready to expand my culinary skill 😉

 As usual, I turned to my most trusted site on the www for the recipe. After going through the recipe, I set out to buy the ingredients. I have most of the items at home except the chilli powder and the ground peanuts. I thought of leaving both the items out but I reckon they are the two most crucial accompaniments for pad thai. Now, why can’t they sell the ground peanuts and chilli powder in a smaller quantity? I have one big packet of each sitting in the kitchen! Any suggestions how to use ’em up?

To make this dish, it’s important to have your mis en place done. Get everything ready and you are ready to roll 🙂

IMG_6444.JPG

Pad Thai (serves 2-3 pax)
Recipe adapted from here

1 tbsp cooking oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 chicken breast meat, cut into strips
8-10 shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 tbsp salted Chinese radish (chye po)
1 tbsp dried shrimp
1 pc dried bean curd, cut into cubes

2 dried rice noodles (soak in hot water until soft)
1 tbsp water
Pad Thai Sauce (see below)
1 egg

2-3 Chinese chives (cut into 2 cm strips) – optional
2 handfuls of bean sprouts

Accompaniments
2 tbsp ground peanuts
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp sugar – optional

Pad Thai Sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp tamarind juice
1 tbsp oyster sauce (optional)

1. Soak the dried rice noodles in hot water for about 20 minutes until soft. Meanwhile, prepare the Pad Thai sauce by mixing the ingredients together. Set aside.
2. In a wok over medium heat, fry garlic and shallots until fragrant. Add the chicken, shrimp, salted Chinese radish, dried shrimp and dried bean curd. Stir fry until chicken and prawns are cooked.
3. Add the noodles and the water and cook until the noodles are soft.
4. Add in the Pad Thai sauce and mix well. Cook until most of the sauce has evaporated.
5. Push the noodles to one side and add an egg. Scramble the egg. Once it’s slightly cooked, add bean sprouts and Chinese chives. Mix well until cooked.
6. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with accompaniments and serve.

Aroi mak mak!

{E cooks} Claypot Chicken Rice

With an active baby in the house, dinner these days is a simple affair. Sandwiches, wraps, soup noodles or takeaways. If I do cook, it will be something simple. One pot meal is the best.

This is by far one of our favourite. The chicken and rice cooks at the same time in one pot from which you can eat straightaway (read: less dishes to wash). I’ve cooked chicken rice the traditional way before. Compare to that, this is SO easy and they taste almost the same!

The hubs who is not a fan of chicken rice couldn’t stop eating this. So if it’s good for the hubs, it’s good for everyone! 🙂

IMG_4016

Claypot Chicken Rice
* I did not follow any recipe. This is based on estimation.

4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
6-8 shallots, chopped (I used one small onion as I do not have shallots)
6-7 slices ginger, minced (only if you like bits of ginger in the rice)
2-3 pandan leaves, knotted (I do not have it at hand, so I omitted)
2 cups rice, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 – 1 3/4 chicken stock (depending how soft you want the rice to be)
pinch of salt
2-3 tbsp oil
1 knob butter

2 chicken thighs, chop into pieces or leave it whole (marinate with few pinches of salt, few pinches of sugar, dash of light soya sauce, dash of shaoxing wine and dash of sesame oil for 15-30 minutes)

1. Heat up oil and butter  in claypot. Add in garlic, shallots and ginger. Sautéed until fragrant.
2. Add in rinsed rice and mix well with the oil.
3. Pour in chicken stock and give it a few stir. Arrange pandan leaves (if have) and chicken pieces on top of the rice (do not overlap the chicken).
4. Bring it to a boil and cover. Turn to the lowest heat and let the rice cook until it has absorbed all the liquid.
5. Once chicken and rice are cooked, turn off the heat and let stand for 10-15 minutes covered. (To check doneness of chicken, use a chopstick and insert at the thickest part of the chicken. If the juice runs clear, the chicken is done)
6. Garnish and serve with sauce.

** If you do not have a claypot, you can use a rice cooker. After step 2, transfer all the ingredients into the rice cooker and cook as per normal.

Chili Sauce
5-6 red chilis
2 chili padi (more if you like spicy)
3-4 cloves garlic
1 piece 1 cm thick ginger
a handful coriander (optional)
juice of 1 lime/lemon (to taste)
1 tsp fish sauce (to taste)
pinch of salt and sugar (to taste)

Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend away.

IMG_4021

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Thai Pomelo Prawns Salad

As I was wandering in the supermarket this afternoon, packets of plump pomelo lining up in the chiller caught my attention. Immediately, I thought of pomelo prawn salad and that would be the starter for tonight’s dinner. Never mind that we are having french for mains. A bit of fusion will not hurt. Right? 🙂

This salad is SUPERB, it has a medley of flavours and textures that work so so well together. I can have this every single day and will not feel guilty at all! Just like any other Thai salad, it has to be consumed immediately after it’s tossed to ensure its freshness. Well, this definitely can be done. No one can resist this tangy citrus salad, can you? It is relatively easy to whip up this impressive salad. Once all the ingredients are prepared, it is just merely tossing them all together.

Pomelo Prawns Salad

12 medium prawns, shelled and cooked
5 pomelo wedges
4 shallots, finely sliced
1-2 bird’s eye chili, finely sliced
2 stalks lemongrass (tender white part), finely sliced
Handful coriander, chopped

Seasoning
3 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar

Garnish
Handful roasted peanuts, chopped
Deep fried shallots

1. Cook prawns in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Make sure do not overcook the prawns. Drain and set aside.
2. Combine the seasoning in a bowl and set aside.
3. In a big bowl, toss all the ingredients and seasoning together. Give the salad a good mix.
4. Chilled for a few minutes and serve immediately.
The recipe is based on my own estimations. Please feel free to alter it 🙂

Coq au Vin

Me: What do you want for dinner?
Hubs: French
Me: French? We just came back from Paris few days ago!
Hubs: Not enough

Yup! We didn’t have enough French food in Paris. The only proper French fare that we had was on our last night and it was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. Okay, more on that later. The rest of the meals were mainly grab and go. Time was something that we do not have in Paris. Our stay was so short, we were constantly on the go.

Okay, back to dinner. I ain’t no Julia Child. The only french food I know and confident in making is Coq au vin. I’ve made this a couple of times before and the hubs loved it, so do I. Anything with alcohol, I we are SOLD 😉

Do not let the fancy french name put you off. Coq au vin means rooster cooked in wine but most of the recipes used chicken. This is exactly what this dish is all about. It is so simple to put together, with just a teeny bit of preparations and teeny bit of time. 

After stewing for close to an hour, the chicken was so tender and literally fell off the bone. They were incredible, nuff said! I served this with fresh from the oven Delifrance baguette which is definitely handy to clean our plates 😉 

Coq au Vin
(serves 4-6)

Knob of butter
1 medium size chicken, jointed
2 tbsp plain flour, for coating, seasoned with salt and pepper
125g back bacon, cut into strips
1 clove of garlic, crushed
5-6 shallots, peeled
250g button mushroom (or chestnut mushroom)
300ml red wine
225ml chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp tomato paste
6 fresh thyme sprigs

1. Melt butter with oil in a casserole. Brown the flour coated chicken in batches. Remove and set aside.
2. Fry the bacon in the casserole until beginning to crisp, then add garlic and shallots. Cook for a few minutes.
3. Add remaining ingredients (mushroom, chicken, stock, tomato paste, wine, thyme, bay leaves) and bring to a boil. Stir, then reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered for 45mins-1 hour until chicken is cooked through and tender.
4. Season and serve with choice of pasta, mashed or crusty bread.

Dinner For One: Kimchi Prawns Pasta

Yes, dinner for one again. The husband was held up at work and couldn’t make it in time for dinner. I was asked to go ahead with dinner as he wasn’t sure what time he could go off. So there I was contemplating what to have for dinner. Since dinner is my only decent repast of the day (lunch for me is usually coffee and sometimes bread), I try to eat something proper. Hence instant noodles, bread and biscuits are out. Searching the fridge for food was especially challenging when you have nothing in the fridge except cans of beer and a tub of kimchi. And I do have some prawns in the freezer. Why not make use of them?

Kimchi, checked. Prawns, checked. Pasta, checked. So I was off to an experiment in the kitchen. I have not eaten kimchi pasta before and I do not know how it will taste like. But I guess the combinations of flavors will be immense – salty, sour and spicy. And yes, it was! This dish opens up my appetite and gets my taste bud going. I am happy with my dinner experiment, but the only downside, I should’ve cooked more!

20120427-134226.jpg

If you love kimchi, you will definitely like this pasta. Kimchi goes with everything, don’t you think so? Next up, kimchi fried rice. But for now, here’s the recipe.

Kimchi Prawns Pasta
(serves 1)

Pasta of your choice, I used spaghetti, cooked al dente
5-6 prawns, shelled
2-3 tbsp Kimchi, cut into small pieces
half a small onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp gochugaru, korean red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp gochujang, red pepper paste
1 tsp mirin
2 tsp sesame oil
salt or light soya sauce, to taste
1 stalk spring onion, garnish

1. Heat up sesame oil in a wok. Add in red pepper flakes and fry for a few seconds until it becomes a paste.
Add in onion and garlic. Sauteed until onions are soft.
2. Add in kimchi, prawns, red pepper paste and mirin. Stir fry. Add a some water if it gets too dry.
3. When the prawns are almost cooked, add in pasta and toss to make sure all are well combined.
4. Give it a taste. Add salt or light soya sauce if needed.
5. Turn off the heat and serve. Drizzle with sesame oil.
Garnish with chopped spring onions (optional).

* This is the recipe I crafted myself. These are basically the ingredients I used, you can twitch it according to your own preference. One important note, be generous with kimchi. This is after all, kimchi pasta 🙂
Happy Cooking!

Crispy Pork

Crispy pork, Siu Yuk (Cantonese) or Sio Bak (Hokkien) literally means burn the meat. In most Chinese household, Siu Yuk will be featured during special occasions eg Chinese New Year, Qing Ming (all soul’s day) as an offering for prayers. In my family, during Qing Ming, without fail, Siu Yuk will be offered to my late grandparents. I’m not sure what the significant is but it sure does feed the hungry family members – US! Haha! Once my late grandparents have “finish their meal”, the feast for us begins. We will have breakfast at the graveyard (think: picnic at an inappropriate setting) consuming whatever food that is offered to my late grandparents. Well, no prize for guessing what everyone is eyeing on! My aunt will always bring a knife along and yes, it is for the Siu Yuk. Talking about pre-empting here! Haha 😀

Anyway, few weeks ago, while at the market with the husband, I casually asked if he wants to have Siu Yuk for dinner and to my surprise, he said Yes! For the benefits of those who do not know the husband, he is a salad and sandwich guy! Boring eh! So, off we went to get a slab of pork belly from the butcher – 2kg for 20 over dollars. The husband thought it was expensive. I’m not sure what the market rate is but one thing is for sure, it definitely cost more than 20 bucks for a 2 kg Siu Yuk!

Homemade Siu Yuk may sound daunting but it’s not rocket science, it is a lot easier than you’d imagined. It’s all about getting the marinade right and the skin REAL dry. The first time I made this I got the steps mixed up. The skin was crispy when it’s fresh from the oven but it gets tough after a while. This time round, I made sure I followed the steps to the dot and I did an extra step. I read from somewhere that the trick to super crispy skin is to char the skin and then using a serrated knife to scrape off the charred bits. The result? Amazingly crispy skin, not even a tad of chewiness! I was happy with the end product and so did the salad and sandwich husband!! 🙂

If you are interested, here’s the recipe for the Non-Rocket Science Crispy Pork:-

Ingredients

2 kg pork belly, with rind on
2 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp Chinese rice wine vinegar

Marinade

2-2.5 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2-3 pieces red fermented bean curd
½ tbsp five spice powder
½ tbsp chopped garlic

1. Mix all the marinade in a bowl and set aside.
2. Clean the pork belly thoroughly, scrapes the skin with a knife to get rid of any impurities or hair. Pat dry all over with a kitchen towel.
3. Score the meat (horizontally & diagonally). Do not score the skin.
4. Rub the skin with sea salt all over. Pat dry.
5. Rub the marinade evenly onto the meat right into the incisions. (Do not rub the marinade onto the skin)
6. Marinate for about 30 minutes or longer.
7. Roast the marinated pork belly with skin side up in a preheated oven at 220C for 20 minutes.
(Using a roasting tin, I put some water in the tin and placed the pork belly on the rack. The water helps the meat to be tender and moist, while allowing the oil to drip for easy cleaning)
8. Remove from oven and prick all over the skin with a fork. (The more pricks the better. More blisters will appear on the skin)
9. Brush the skin with rice wine vinegar.
10. Return to the oven and roast with skin side up at 250C for another 20.
11. Change the oven mode to grill, and grill the pork belly with skin side up for a further 5-10 minutes.
12. Keep an eye on the pork belly, do not over charred it.
13. Remove and let the pork rest for 15-20 minutes. Using a serrated knife, scrape off the charred bits.
14. Using a large knife, chop (do not slice) the pork into bite sized.
15. Eat to your heart’s content!!!

MaPo Tofu (麻婆豆腐)

I hate tofu when I was a kid. I was never a tofu a person although my mum kept telling me that they are good for the skin. You know when you are young, you don’t really care so much about your appearance? Bad complexion? Nah, it’s ok!

But as you grow older, bad complexion does matter!! That’s the time when I started to appreciate tofu and realised that it’s not that bad after all. Do you know that tofu has a great nutritional value and it has many health benefits?

  • It contains vegetable protein, calcium and unsaturated fat
  • It can lower the risk of heart diseases by lowering the level of bad cholesterol
  • It can lower the risk of osteoporosis
  • It can lower the risks of prostate cancer and breast cancer
  • It will decrease menopausal symptoms which include mood swings and hot flashes.

One of my much-loved tofu dishes will be MaPo Tofu – silken tofu and minced meat cooked in spicy chilli bean sauce. Authentic MaPo tofu calls for Szechuan peppercorn to be added to achieve the numbing spiciness but I omitted that as both C and I hate the numbing sensation. This dish is so easy to cook that I can make it in less than 10 mins, okay maybe 15 mins, from preparations to having the dish on the table. With a bowl of rice, I am all good for dinner!

MaPo Tofu

1 package silken tofu (14oz), cubed
170g minced pork
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red chilli, deseeded & sliced (optional)
[Seasoning]

1 tbsp chilli bean sauce (dou ban jiang 辣豆瓣酱)
1 tbsp Lao Gan Ma (Szechuan chili sauce)
1 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp sesame oil
125ml water

1 tbsp cornflour + 2 tbsp water
2 tbsp spring onions, chopped (garnish)

1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil and sesame oil on medium heat and fry garlic and red chili until fragrant. Add minced pork and fry until it’s half done.
2. Add spicy bean sauce and fry for a minute. Add in water and seasoning. Stir to combine.
3. Add in tofu and mix gently.
4. Lower the heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes.
5. Add cornflour mixture and give it a quick stir until mixture has thickened.
6. Dish out and sprinkle with spring onions.
7. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

p/s: I did not follow any recipes and this is purely based on estimation. Feel free to adjust the taste according to your own preference.