A quick meal

After reading Miss Ene’s recent post on Cooking up a storm, I was inspired to whip up one of the dishes – Three Cups Chicken (三杯鸡)- that she made for dinner one evening.

It turned out to be a pretty simple recipe which made for a very tasty meal for a weeknight dinner.

Three Cups Chicken (三杯鸡) [Recipe adapted from Noobcook]

Ingredients: (Serves 2)

  • 450g chicken thighs, cut to small pieces
  • 1.5 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp Chinese wine (Hua Tiao/Shao Hsing)
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled & slightly bruised
  • 2 stalks spring onions, cut to 5cm (2 inch) lengths
  • 40ml water
  • 0.5 tsp sugar
  • 6 slices ginger & a handful of fresh sweet basil leaves (I left these out as I didn’t have them on hand)

Method:

  1. Heat sesame oil in pot and add garlic cloves, ginger, the thick bottom white ends of the spring onions. Stir fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add chicken pieces and stir fry until the surface is no longer pink.
  3. Sizzle Chinese wine and add light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, water and sugar. Stir evenly, and cover the lid to simmer for about 6 minutes.
  4. Add the rest of the spring onions and continue simmering until the sauce is greatly reduced.
  5. When the dish is cooked, stir in some fresh basil leaves before serving.

I guess the next time I’m making this, I will be throwing in some dried chilli or fresh chilli padi (bird’s eye chilli) for a spicy kick in the taste-buds.

What are some of your favourite weeknight meals? I’ll love to hear what’s cooking in your kitchen. 🙂

Quick fix assam meal

I love my spices (alot)! One of my favourite dishes has got to be Assam Ikan Pedas (Spicy Tamarind Fish).  My family, especially my dad, loves this dish and when we have our family dinners at the Peranakan restaurant along Joo Chiat Road, we would order a huge fish and drench our rice with the spicy sauce.  Arh.. miss those days!

So armed with one precious bottle of Assam paste from Woh Hup, I tried to recreate the dish to evoke memories of home.   Obviously that didn’t work for we couldn’t get the right cut of fish and the sauce turned out to be too spicy for the Man’s taste-buds.  Half a bottle of the paste was left sitting in my refrigerator for the longest time and in a bid to clear out our sauces before we leave, I decided to make good the sauce again.

Once again, I ‘ran’ to my genius of a cook cousin for help.  After a couple of text exchanges, she helped me with this baked seafood platter with Assam sauce.

First, I boiled some water with some slices of ginger and 2 stalks of lemongrass, then I added the paste plus 2 teaspoons of sugar to reduce the spiciness of the sauce for the Man.  Once the marinade started to come to a boil, I turned the heat down and set the marinade to cool.  Then I arranged the baking dish with a cut of Salmon, some calamari, scallops and clams.  Poured the cooled marinade and set the dish into the oven for the seafood to be baked.

And what a simple but sumptuous dinner it turned out to be.. this time round, the level of spiciness was just right!  We tucked in straight away and guess what I did?  Yup, drenched my rice with the sauce, just the way I like it! 🙂

Simple tofu dish

Tofu – miss it loads!  Why?  Because it’s not readily available here.  You could only get it at the Asian/ Japanese supermarket and Manor.  Cost?  A lot more than what we’re used to paying back at home but arh well, shelf life of these packed tofu is also longer, so guess no complaints there.

We brought back some century eggs from Singapore.  Yeah, told you we brought back loads of stuff on our last trip home.  So to accompany our simple home-cooked fare, I whipped up this simple Tofu with Century Egg side dish.  Turns out we didn’t have black vinegar here so instead of running out to get a bottle, I substituted the recipe with Balsamic Vinegar instead.  Yes, you read right… Balsamic Vinegar!  Taste-wise, I could get away with this.  Hehe..

Tofu with Century Egg (recipe adapted from Taste Hongkong)

Ingredients:

  • 1 silken tofu (100-200g, vacuum pack preferred )
  • 1 century egg
  • Seasonings: 1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar, 1 tsp light soya sauce, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp sesame oil

Method:

  1. Drain off all water from the pack, if any, and mash up tofu. Arrange on a plate for serving.
  2. Shell, rinse, pat-dry and mash century egg. Mix it well with seasonings in a separate bowl .
  3. Cover prepared tofu and century egg mixture separately and chill them in fridge for 3 to 4 hours or until cold.
  4. To serve, place a layer of century egg mixture over the tofu.
  5. Note:  You could serve this dish with a handful of green onions and/or with Japanese bonito flakes.

This was really yummy so I would think you would enjoy this dish too! 🙂

Miso Yummy Pasta

Some days I really can run out of inspiration on what to cook for dinners.  The Man isn’t that fussy to cook for, just on some days, he needs his rice intake coupled with some home-cooked Chinese dishes.  Also, cooking for 2 isn’t as simple as it seems.  The portions that we get here are often too big for 2.  A friend once commented that a packet of vegetables that she buys can sometimes feed her and her hubby for at least 2-3 meals.

Last evening, I had one of my uninspired dinner days moment [Hmm.. you kinda don’t want me to cook on those days for I can come up with a really funny menu 😛 ].  I had marinated some chicken wings the night before and knew that there were some leftover French beans which I’d probably just par-boil.  We needed carbs and I thought whipping up a pasta should do the trick except that I wanted to challenge myself and try making a pasta using Asian flavours.

Started texting my cousin who’s kinda a genius of a cook and she started telling me how to put together a pasta sauce using Miso paste as a key ingredient. As I started chopping the ingredients and prepping for the pasta dish, I was actually excited on how it would turn out…

And, the verdict?  A MISO Yummy Pasta indeed!

Miso Yummy Pasta (Serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons of Miso paste
  • 1/2 red onion (thinly sliced and diced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 6-7 fresh portobello mushrooms (slice)
  • 4-5 tablespoons of sugar
  • 3-4 tables of Hua Tiao Wine (Chinese cooking wine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon of Sesame Oil
  • Pasta for 2 (cooked al dente)
  • Garnish: Parsley (optional)

Method:

  1. Add miso paste, sugar and Hua Tiao wine in a small bowl.  Stir paste.
  2. Put bowl over a pot of boiling water and stir paste till sugar melts.
  3. Remove from heat, add the sesame oil and set marinade aside to cool.
  4. Prepare and cook pasta for 2.  Set aside pasta and remember to retain 1/2 bowl of the pasta water to cook the sauce.
  5. In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Saute minced garlic and onions till translucent.
  6.  Add in mushrooms and stir-fry till it’s almost cooked.
  7. Start to add miso paste into the cooked ingredients.
  8. Slowly add the cooled pasta water to the pan and stir in miso paste until desired consistency.
  9. Add in pasta and ensure that you cover pasta with the sauce.
  10. Leave pasta in pan so that it can absorb the sauce before serving.
  11. Add parsley as garnish and serve warm.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Miso paste is generally salty, so the sugar and the Chinese cooking wine helps to balance and add a little sweetness in the sauce.  Feel free to add more sugar and adjust the miso sauce marinade to your taste.
  • If you do not have the Chinese cooking wine, you could substitute with Mirin.  If that’s the case, you do not need to add sugar.
  • If you eat chilli with just about everything, that you’d be pleased to know that you could also add in some sliced chilli into the miso marinade.
  • The marinade could also go very well with chicken and fish.  So you can prep a larger quantity of the marinade and keep the rest in the refrigerator to be used for another time.

Well, I hope you do get to try out this Japanese-inspired pasta dish and let me know what you think of it.  As for me, I’m going to be making this simple and rather versatile marinade again.  The next time round, it’s going to go on to some chicken wings I think or even aubergines.  Mmmmm…. This recipe is definitely for keeps.

A taste of home

You would think that it would be pretty easy to get hold of duck meat here in Geneva but on the contrary, it wasn’t.  According to friends, it would cost a lot more than normal poultry and they told us that we should head to France to get it.  The reason why I had wanted to get hold of duck meat was to make my favourite pot of Duck soup with salted vegetables.  That’s the soup that Mom would make and it always evokes memories of home for me.

So lo behold my happiness when I found out that duck was in season and best part on offer in Coop (a local supermarket chain in Switzerland).  Yes, I’ve been reduced to ‘auntie-dom’ living here and the little joys such as meat going on offer actually makes me happy.  Tsk tsk!

I had a packet of salted vegetable that had been sitting in my refrigerator for the past 5 months so I was pretty glad to be able to finally cook up a big pot of my favourite soup.  Mom emailed the recipe over but because I lacked some of the ingredients, I had to improvise and again make do what we have here.  Well, it didn’t turn out that bad.  Taste-wise was pretty close to what we could get back at home.  It warmed me up tremendously and memories of home flashed as we had the soup for dinner.  And you know what?  Leftovers taste even better the next day! 😉

Duck soup with Salted Vegetable

Ingredients:
  • Duck meat – 1/4 to 1/2 a duck  (Best to remove skin so that the soup will not be that oily)
  • Pork Ribs (200-300g)
  • Salted vegetables (1 packet, approximately 300g) ( To soak for about few hours so that it won’t be so salty, thereafter cut into thin strips)
  • Ginger – 10 slices
  • 1 Tomato – Halved
  • Garlic – 2 bulbs
  • *Asam Skin – About 2 to 3 pieces
  • *Sour plum – About 2 to 3 pieces
  • [*Note: Ingredients that I didn’t have on hand.]
Method:
  1. Cut the duck into small pieces and set aside.
  2. Parboil pork ribs and then boil separately ribs as soup stock in a separate pot.
  3. In a deep pot, pour some oil and stir-fry the ginger.  Add in duck slices and fry till fragrant.
  4. Pour in pork ribs soup stock, then add in salted vegetables, assam skins, sour plums, garlic and tomatoes.  Bring soup to boil.
  5. Thereafter, lower heat and let the soup continue to simmer for about 2 hours.  Add more water if needed.

Not just instant noodles

So we were having steamboat at B&E’s place one evening and over a random conversation with J, he suddenly stopped me in the tracks and asked if I was interested in a little cooking competition. The choice of dish was to create ‘mille-feuille’. Well, so far the best mille-feuille I ever was from Harbs in Tokyo.

I was stunned by this cooking challenge, one that I was most certainly not going to take up for I had no clue how to make mille-feuille. I knew it entailed a lot of work as well as patience to make the perfect layered cake. After much deliberation, we decided to settle on a cooking cum photo competition. The subject matter would simply be a packet of instant noodles – Dry Mee Goreng noodles. We each had a week to work on this and our friends would be the judges except that they wouldn’t know who submitted which photo. We had free reign to style the photo but the only garnish that we could use was fried spring onions.

A seemingly simple challenge but it wasn’t at all. First, cooking the instant noodles to perfection was difficult. If I was going to cook a packet of noodles for myself, I definitely had no problems judging whether the noodles were ready just by looking at the texture. But for this competition, I think I overcooked the noodles. And let’s not get started on the styling, I had no clue what to do other than to bring out the nice place-mats plus bottles of kechap manis and chilli sauce as decor pieces.

These are the 2 shots that I’ve short-listed of the lot. Couldn’t quite decide which one to submit but received a note from the Mrs who convinced J to call off the competition. Phew! I was secretly glad that it was called off for I wasn’t too pleased with what I took. Well, nevertheless I thought I just share the shots for you’ll never know when these photos just might come in handy again. ;p

Pss… Inspiration for the title of this post came from a little Imp. 😉

Black or White?

I was over the moon when we found us some white radish over at the Carrefour supermarket in France recently.  We bought a medium-sized one in the anticipation of making some Fried Radish Cake 菜头粿 (or Carrot Cake as it’s affectionately known to most Singaporeans).  Fried Radish Cake 菜头粿 is a hawker-styled street food that most Singaporeans have it either for breakfast/lunch/dinner or supper.   Yes, we Singaporeans can eat almost round-the-clock.

I hopped over to E’s place again and collaborated with her to make this White Radish Cake.  We followed this recipe over at Rasa Malaysia and step 1 of the steamed Radish Cake looked absolutely amazing.  I went home one happy gal and sent a text to the Man that dinner was going to be a local fare.  You see, we both love our local food and being in Geneva, we really don’t have the luxury of having much Singaporean cuisine, so making some of our local fare from scratch gives us much joy.

The Man got home on time and we got busy in the kitchen, chopping and prepping the ingredients for our dinner.  As we like both the black and white versions of the Fried Radish Cake and there were enough to go round, we decided to whip up 2 versions for dinner.

Both versions tasted superbly delicious and as we picked the pieces, we were once again reminded of home, reminiscing fondly of the stalls we preferred that serves up the best Fried Radish Cake.  So farewell, yummilicious 菜头粿, it won’t be long before we meet, for we will be back in Singers come November!  Hehe!