vendredi, septembre 29, 2006

Assam Stingray, Ginger Pork Liver and Bean Sprouts and Other Goodies

Mom came to visit me for a few weeks last month. As she's not fond of European food in general, I endeavoured to cook her Singaporean dishes wherever possible.

One of them was an Assam Stingray with Green Beans (Assam Kuah Pedas being a Tamarind and Ginger Flower-based sauce. Ladies' Fingers would have been better than green beans, but I couldn't get any then). I didn't make the gravy myself as I was really busy just back from our holiday in Tuscany and was fortunate to have a pack of Brahim's on hand. As it was, we went on a day trip to Strasbourg and were able to get hold of some fresh stingrays, so voilà the dish.

Another dish that I made was what I like to call the "ABC Chicken Wings" - in memory of the honey and black soya sauce wings that I used to buy from a food stall in Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre named ABC on an almost daily basis when I was a teenager. Out of a desperate desire to taste the dish again, I managed to cook the chicken wings out of pure memory of its taste and they tasted just like those that I used to buy nearly 2 decades ago!

What I did was to marinate the wings for a few hours in honey, dark soy sauce, sugar, oyster sauce, sesame oil, salt, pepper, ground paprika and a touch of sherry. Then I heated up some sesame oil in a non-stick frying pan and browned a generous amount of sliced ginger and crushed garlic. When everything was fragrant, I added in the marinated chicken wings (without their sauce) and grilled them in the fragrant oil. In the bowl that used to contain the wings, I added some water to the remaining marinade and stirred in 2 Tsps of corn starch. When the wings were nicely grilled, I stirred in the mixture to make a sauce and the chicken wings turned out moist and tender. They go quite well served on a bed of crispy Iceberg lettuce.

With the Agar-agar Tupperware mould that I've inherited from mom, I also made a traditional Almond Jelly with Longans. Could have used ground almonds, sugar and agar agar strips to make the jelly, but I took the easy way out and just used a packet of Asian Home Gourmet mix to do it.

Hubby and the kids are not at all into pork liver which I adore so mom's visit was a good occasion to prepare a dish with it. I therefore made Pork Liver with Ginger, Spring Onions and Bean Sprouts - a délice. The recipe is similar to my Chicken with Ginger and Spring Onion stir-fry.

The following are a few other simple dishes that mom likes, but I don't suppose that they will be popular with the rest of the world so I won't bother to post the recipes.

Pork with Iceberg Lettuce and Mushrooms

Sambal Prawns

Fishball, Meatball, Tofu and Chinese Cabbage Stir-fry

Preserved Sichuan Vegetable Soup with Fishballs, Meatballs and Chinese Mushrooms

Oven-baked Codfish with Vegetables

Codfish is about the best fish that we can find here in Stuttgart. As such, I try to cook it at least once a week. And with my super porcelain casserole meant for oven-cooking, making a delicious and nutritious Oven-baked Codfish with Vegetables is but a simple gesture.

I basically just pour a generous amount of olive oil in my casserole and place my codfish filets in it. Next, I would throw in vegetables (all sliced up, their thickness etc depending on how long each type of veggie would take to cook) like red onions, celery, zucchini, carrots, potatoes, red peppers, cocktail tomatoes, different types of mushrooms, some crushed garlic, herbs like thyme, fennel seeds, dill, parsley...Salt and pepper to taste, half a cup of white wine and then cover the casserole with its lid and put it in a hot oven (200ºC) and bake for 40-60 minutes. As simple as that! Bon appétit.

PS : This was how my casserole looked like before I covered it and put it in the oven.

jeudi, septembre 28, 2006

Spaghetti alle Vongole

I must have eaten this everyday when I was in Tuscany. Simple but tasty dish. Found some vongole at Markthalle in Stuttgart yesterday and just had to make the dish. Turned out really great.

400g of Vongole (Venus Clams)
2 huge cloves of fresh Garlic
8 Cocktail Tomatoes (cut into half)
Chilli (optional)
Olive Oil
White Wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
Lemon juice
Freshly grated Parmesan
Spaghetti for 2

Heat up a generous amount of olive oil in a frying pan. Brown the finely-sliced garlic. Add in the cocktail tomatoes and the chilli. Stir a little and then add in the washed and drained fresh vongole. Pour in some of the wine and then cover the pan. When the clams are all opened up (do not overcook), remove the cover, add salt and pepper to taste, add in the chopped parsley, squeeze in the lemon juice, serve hot over a bed of spaghetti and do not forget the parmesan cheese (but not too much or it'll kill the subtle taste of the vongole).

vendredi, septembre 22, 2006

Seafood Paella

Seafood Paella

I have picked up Spanish cooking while living in Andalusia. The food is simple but good, though after a while it got a little boring and we were happy to move on. I guess that once you're exposed to French and Singaporean cuisines, you can no longer accept less. Anyway, most of the Spanish dishes are easy to make and leave enough room for further improvement which suits me just fine.

Last night, I made the famous Spanish dish from Valencia - Seafood Paella. Spending my day bringing the kids to school (3 different ones) and back, cooking 3 meals, going through the eldest's schoolwork etc means not wanting to spend hours making a meal like I used to. I try to make just one dish and it has to be simple but good and balanced.

Paella :

300g italian arborio rice or valenciana paella rice
6 chicken drumsticks marinated with ground turmeric, paprika, salt, pepper
4 chorizo, chipolata or merguez sausages
8 big tiger prawns
2 calamari/squid sliced
a few mussles, clams and/or scampi
lots of olive oil
1l of chicken or seafood stock with some Jerez/Sherry added
1 bay leaf
1 big (red) onion sliced finely
5 cloves garlic ditto
1 red pepper roughly sliced
8 cocktail plum tomatoes halved
1 cup of sweet peas
a few safran threads
fresh parsley

I have a paellera (the pan with 2 handles for making paella) but it's not non-stick, has no cover and has not the right fire to go with (I'm on electric). So I opted for a big non-stick frying pan that looks like a paellera instead.

The most important thing for me in making paella is to give flavour to the rice. So this means pouring a generous amount of olive oil in the pan and basically cooking the prawns, squid, chicken, shellfish (except the clams and mussles) and sausages in it and then removing them and setting them aside after that. Do not overcook, of course.

Cook the clams/mussles separately in a pot with a bit of olive oil, garlic and Jerez. When the clams have opened up, remove them from the pot and side aside. Strain the juice and add it to the stock. Put in the strands of Safran.

Next, add more olive oil if necessary to the fragrant oil in the pan and brown the onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes. Spread them out evenly over the pan, add in the peas and the rice (usually we do not stir the rice during the cooking when making a paella so spread it out evenly from the start and make sure the grains are nicely coated in the oil). Followed by the stock and the bay leaf. Then place the chicken, prawns, squid, shellfish, sausages etc on top of the rice as tastefully as you can manage. Cover tightly with aluminium foil and cook till the stock is fully absorbed by the rice (about 15-20 minutes).

Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon juice.

vendredi, septembre 15, 2006

Beef Horfun (Flat Rice Noodles with Beef)

I am going to start blogging anew by posting a few dishes made before I left for Tuscany. One of them was Beef Horfun, a simple but tasty dish. Hubby prefers the version just with tiger prawns and beaten egg but that will have to be for another time.

The beef horfun comes in different versions e.g. dry-fry or with sauce (simple or bean) and the one I made was with bean sauce. I would have preferred the thicker flat rice noodles but couldn't find them here in Stuttgart so had to make do with the slimmer ones. I should also have been a little more hard-working and fry the rice noodles once over with dark soya sauce before using them for the dish but well, I was lazy.

Otherwise it wasn't complicated to make. First marinate for at least an hour 300g of beef slices (which I should have sliced thinner) with 2 Tbsps of Preserved Black and Brown Soy Beans, 1 Tbsp each of Oyster Sauce, Light Soya Sauce and Dark Soya Sauce. 2 Tbsps of Sherry, 1 Tsp of sugar, a touch of Sesame Oil, 1 Tsp of Corn Starch, salt and pepper.

Next, prepare 350ml of chicken or beef stock, a small cup of water with 2 Tsps of Corn Starch and 1 Tsp of Light Soy Sauce stirred in, another bowl with 2 beaten eggs (optional).

In a frying pan, brown 3 cloves of diced garlic, 2 sliced shallots, a small piece of ginger and a stalk of celery (peeled and sliced) in some vegetable oil. Add in half a red pepper (sliced). Depending on how you like your beef (we like it rare), add the meat with its marinade into the pan bearing in mind the amount of time you want it to stay in the pan. Stir fry and mix well with the garlic etc. Then add in the (preferably once-cooked with dark soya sauce) flat rice noodles, the chicken stock and the corn starch mixture. Stir well. If you wish to add the beaten egg, do so when the sauce starts to thicken. Serve hot with sliced red chilli and fresh coriander leaves.
PS : You could also remove the beef from the pan before adding in the rice noodles and then putting everything together just before serving to avoid over-cooking the beef.

Wisdom Teeth

I've put off having my 4 badly turned-out wisdom teeth removed for as long as I could. Because I believed that they were there for a purpose i.e. replacing bad molars (mine are all patched up with grey filling - metal smile) and any tooth is better than none, nobody in their right mind should have theirs removed if they're not decayed.
But it is difficult meeting every dentist in the eye, for every different one I've been to in the different countries I've lived in believed that these 4 teeth were causing my other teeth to decay. So when my mom came over to stay for a few weeks recently and could help with the kids, I decided to go ahead and have all four removed at the same time. Too smart for my own good.
Boy was it painful. One of them was extracted normally and the other 3 drilled out. The surgeon sewed the holes up with one end of the thread through my inner cheeks and it was horrible. I had a bloated face for 3 days and a gnawing ache for 2 weeks. It gets especially bad in the late afternoon. Even as I am writing this, the mouth is still aching and I spend ALL my time tongueing the 4 holes, it's really tiring. And I do not dare to brush my molars (fearing pain to the holes), so if this continues it wouldn't be good for the remaining old big teeth.
Cooking and eating is therefore not a very exciting entreprise for the moment. And school starts next week for my kids. So when things are a little more settled, I'll be back to blog. There's my 3 weeks in Tuscany to blog about and all the dishes I've been making aching teeth or not. And tomorrow we'll be dining in the only Michelin 2-star restaurant in Stuttgart. Lots of backblog...
À bientôt. Hasta Luego.