Thai-style Baby Eggplant Salad泰式茄子沙拉tài shì qié zǐ shā lā

cover.JPGWhen thinly-skinned Asia eggplants are difficult to come by, I turn to their American cousin to make this simple yet irresistible salad. It makes a fine appetizer, or a perfect little side salad when you’re serving Asia food. Sometimes, at lunch, I’ll just eat the eggplant over rice.

Serves 2-4,

1 ½ pound           (650g)              Baby Eggplants or long, thin Asian eggplants

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons                    fish sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoons                brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons                    Lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 big or 2 small   shallots, thinly sliced
  • A few Thai Bird Chili, finely sliced
  • A few cilantro or mint leaves for garnishIMG_5977.jpg

 Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F (or 200°C)
  2. Cut the eggplant into half, prick the eggplants all over with a fork and place them in a baking tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes till the flesh becomes soft and the skin is charred.IMG_5978.jpg
  3. In the meantime, let’s prepare the dressing. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except cilantro.
  4. Carefully peel the skin from the eggplant (this can be fussy, and you want to get the skin off.) Pull the eggplant into strips and lay them in a shallow bowl.IMG_5981.jpg
  5. Pour the dressing over the eggplant and marinate in the fridge for a few hours. When ready to serve, garnish with a few leaves of chopped cilantro or mint.

Barbecued Bone-in Beef Short Ribs 韩式烤牛仔骨hán shì kǎo niú zǎi gǔ

IMG_5920An easy, different and quick way to enjoy the bone-in beef short ribs. Different from the time-consuming braising method, the flavourful Asian recipe requires little effort in both cooking and after-cooking cleaning. The key to the dish, is to marinade the beef ribs long enough to help tenderize the meat and allow the flavour to infuse. The fat is largely rendered while the flavour and moisture of the meat is retained.

Serves 3-4

  • 3 to 4  pounds (1.5 to 1.8 kilograms)  bone-in beef short ribs
  • 1 teaspoon     sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon       freshly ground black pepper

Marinade

  • ½                      medium-size yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon      ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2                       garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon    light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon    dark soy sauce (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon    sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon   Japanese sake or high-quality Chinese cooking wine
  • 1                       large Asia pear, core and chopped into cubes (optional)

Dipping sauce (optional)

  • 2                      Spring onions, minced
  • 1 tablespoon    Korean chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon    rice vinegarIMG_5900

Method

  1. Pat dry the ribs with kitchen towel. Generously season the short ribs with salt and ground black peppercorn and let is stand for about 10-15 minutes. Place the beef ribs in a large bowl.IMG_5902
  2. Place the ingredients of the Marinade into a separate bowl. Mix well. Pour them into the large short ribs bowl. Make sure each piece of short ribs is coated with marinade ingredients/sauce. Leave the ribs rest for at least 2 hours to allow flavours to permeate and tenderize the meat.IMG_5903.jpg
  3. When ready to cook, remove the marinade ingredients from the ribs. Broil the ribs in the oven (use double aluminium foil lined baking tray) or grill them in a barbeque grill. Cook two sides of the beef ribs respective 6 and 5 minutes for medium rare, or 8 and 6 minutes if you prefer medium/well done.

 

Spicy Cucumber Salad韩式辣黄瓜hán shì là huáng guā

coverAn easy cucumber salad or an appetizer that’s a little spicy, slightly sweet and tangy. It’ll be an excellent complement to any of your barbeque dishes. You’ll need to lightly salt the cucumber slices first and let them stand for a while to draw out water. This process gives the cucumbers an extra crunch.

Serves 3-4

  • 4-5 Aka Kirby Cucumbers (about 400g)    remove both ends and thinly sliced (use any Persian, English, Chinese or Japanese cucumbers. These varieties are less seedy, very crispy and tasty.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon     table salt食盐
  • 150g                   Kimchi韩国辣白菜, minced, for better taste, try homemade kimchi
  • ½ tablespoon     garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon      spring onions, minced葱花
  • 1 teaspoon          rice vinegar 米醋
  • 1 teaspoon           sesame oil 香油
  • 1 teaspoon            caster sugar白糖
  • 1 teaspoon         white sesame seeds, toasted ideallyIMG_5862

Method

  1. Thinly slice the cucumber (1/8 to 1/4-inch thick). Place slices in a salad bowl. Toss gently with salt and set aside for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, toast the white sesame seeds over medium heat for about 10 minutes. 

  2. Drain excess liquid from the salad bowl. Avoid squeezing them because they will bruise. Mix well with all of the remaining ingredients. It is ready to serve.IMG_5866.jpg
  3. Or you can place the salad bowl in the fridge and let the salad sit for about 30 mins.

 

Beef Rendang印尼仁当牛肉yìn ní rén dāng niú ròu

cover7.JPGThe spicy, rich and creamy Indonesia beef stew is known for an insane amount of flavour because of its generous use of a myriad of spices and herbs cooking for a few hours until meat fork-tender.

The flavours of Beef Rendang unfolds in layers. First there’s the zingy flavours of lemongrass and ginger, then comes the savoury beef along with a torrent of chili, finally, as you continue to chew you start tasting the creamy coconut milk towards the back of your tongue.

Rendang always tastes better the second day.

Serve 4

Ingredients:

  • 700g boneless beef, short ribs or beef shank, cut into large cubes
  • 3 tablespoons  cooking oil
  • 1 cinnamon stick, about 2-inch length
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 star anise
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 lemongrass, cut into 4-inch length and pounded
  • 1 cup  thick coconut milk
  • 1 cup  water
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind pulp, soaked in some warm water for the juice and discard the seeds
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves
  • 4 tablespoons kerisik, toasted coconut
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or palm sugar to taste
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt to taste

Spice Paste:

  • 5 shallots
  • 1 inch  galangal
  • 3 lemongrass, white part only
  • 5 cloves  garlic
  • 1 inch  ginger
  • 10-12 dried chilies, soaked in warm water and seededIMG_5133.jpg

 Method

  1. Chop the spice paste ingredients and then blend it in a food processor until fine. Add 1 cup of water to make the blending easier.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed stew pot, add the spice paste, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and cardamom and stir-fry until aromatic. Add the beef and the pounded lemongrass and stir for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, tamarind juice, water, and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until the meat is well coated. Add the kaffir lime leaves, kerisik (toasted coconut), sugar or palm sugar, stirring to blend well with the meat.
  3. Lower the heat to low, cover the lid, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is really tender and the gravy has dried up. Add more salt and sugar to taste. Serve immediately with steamed rice and save some for overnight.

Recipe Notes

To prepare the kerisik or toasted coconut, just add the grated coconut to a dry wok and stir continuously until they turn golden brown.

 

Hainanese Chicken Rice海南鸡饭hǎi nán jī fàn

cover3Nothing is more Singaporean than the chicken rice, the country’s unofficial national dish. Ask any foodie expats, adults or children, which dish they love the most from their time in Singapore. This poached chicken and seasoned rice is clearly the winner in their hearts.  The dish looks deceptively simple, but there are many components to a good plate of Chicken Rice, the fragrant rice, succulent meat and flavourful dipping sauces over it.

For the chicken

  • 1 whole chicken (about 1.3kg), preferably free-range chicken
  • 1 small thumb of ginger, smashed
  • 5 to 6 sprigs, spring onions
  • 1500ml chicken stock adjust accordingly
  • 4 blades of pandan leaves 斑兰叶
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2+1 teaspoons  salt
  • 1 cucumber peeled, halved and sliced diagonallyIMG_5102.jpg

 For the rice

  • 3 cups uncooked washed rice, Thai Jasmine rice preferred
  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 shallots, minced
  • 2 and half, chicken stock
  • 4-6 blades of pandan leaves, tied into knots
  • 1 small thumb of ginger, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon garlic and shallot oil (fry 3 cloves and 2 shallots in the cooking oil over low heat until fragrant.)
  • 1 teaspoon, salt to taste

Dipping sauce 1

  • 2 tablespoons  light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons  chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon  sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon   garlic and shallot oil, (fry 3 cloves and 2 shallots in the cooking oil over low heat until fragrant.)

Mix all the ingredients together.

 Dipping sauce 2 – the ginger sauce

  • 50 g peeled ginger for best results, use young ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of shallots and garlic oil
  • 1 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons  chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sugarto taste
  • 1/8 tsp saltto taste

 Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blender the mixture into a smooth paste.

Method

For the chicken

  1. Wash chicken, drain well, stuff ginger and spring onions into the chicken’s cavity. Using 2 teaspoons of salt as scrub, rub the salt all over the chicken for smooth looking skin.
  2. In a not too large stock pot which fits the chicken perfectly, boil the chicken stock (enough to cover the whole chicken) together with pandan leaves, carrot and 1 teaspoon of salt. Submerge the whole chicken, breast side down in the boiling water for 35-45 minutes depending on the size of the chicken. Lower the heat to gentle simmer immediately.
  3. When chicken is cooked, remove chicken and plunge it into prepared iced water at once for 10 minutes. Keep the chicken stock for later use.
  4. Drain the chicken, discard ginger and scallion from the cavity and set it aside to cool before chopping it neatly into desired serving size.

For the rice

  1. Heat oil in wok, fry minced shallots and garlic till fragrant and golden in colour. Add rice and stir well. Transfer the rice mixture to rice cooker.
  2. Once transferred, add chicken stock, pandan leaves, ginger, garlic and shallot oil and salt into rice mixture. Cook according to rice cooker’s manual instruction.

 

Chicken Satay沙嗲鸡肉串shā diǎ jī ròu chuàn

cover3Chicken Satay should be a staple in the kitchen with its juicy, marinated skewered chicken layered with flavor all dunked in creamy, intoxicating peanut satay sauce.  The marinade is the most important part of the recipe. The best satays are marinated with lots of spices and ingredients. Traditionally, home cooks pound all the ingredients above with a mortar and pestle until it becomes a fine paste. Mix the meat (either beef, chicken or mutton) with the marinade overnight; this will ensure that every piece of the meat is bursting with robust flavors.

Serve 6

Ingredients

  • 900g  boneless and skinless chicken thigh and leg meat
  • bamboo skewers, soaked in cold water for 2 hours
  • 1 cucumber, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small onion, quartered

Chicken Marinade

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, white parts only香茅
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 6 shallots, peeled小红葱头
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder or 3g fresh turmeric root姜黄
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed香菜籽
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Satay Peanut Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, unsalted
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce, Kecap Manis
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar, palm sugar preferred
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp, soaked in 1/4 cup water for 15 minutes, squeeze the tamarind pulp for juice and discard the pulp罗望子

(Spice Paste)

  • 6-8 dried red chilies, seeded and soaked in warm water
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 shallots
  • 2 lemon grass, white parts only
  • 3g  ginger (galangal preferred)

Method for Chicken Satays (Chicken Skewers)

  1. Cut the chicken meat into small cubes. Set aside.
  2. Blend all the he Marinade ingredients in a food processor. Add a little water if needed.
  3. Combine the chicken and the Marinade together, stir to mix well. Marinate the chicken for 6 hours in the fridge, or best overnight. When ready, thread 3-4 pieces of the chicken meat onto the bamboo skewers.
  4. Grill the chicken satay skewers for 2-3 minutes on each side until the meat is fully cooked and the surface is nicely charred, on both sides. Baste and brush with some oil while grilling. Serve hot with the fresh cucumber pieces and onions.

Method for Satay Peanut Dipping Sauce

  1. Crush the peanuts coarsely with mortar and pestle or mini food processor and set aside. You can toast the peanuts ahead of time to enhance peanut flavor.IMG_5027.jpg
  1. Chop the spice paste ingredients and blend in a mini food processor until fine. Heat oil and fry the spice paste until aromatic and smell spicy. Add the peanuts, tamarind juice, water, sugar, sweet soy sauce and stir thoroughly. Simmer in low heat while continue stirring for about 3 minutes until the peanut sauce turns smooth. Serve at room temperature with the satay.

 Cook Chicken Satay

  1. To grill, grease an indoor or outdoor grill and heat to high heat. Once hot, add chicken, reduce heat to medium and cover.Grill chicken approximately 4 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through (internal temp of 165 degrees F).
  2. You can certainly bake satay in the oven, or pan-fried on a skillet. They will still taste delicious. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.Evenly divide chicken between baking sheets. Make sure there is room in between the chicken so your chicken bakes and doesn’t steam. Bake 15-20 minutes OR until chicken is cooked (internal temp of 165 degrees F).

Tips

  • You can use a combination of chicken breasts, chicken thighs and legs. Just remove the skin and cut each piece of the chicken meat into uniform pieces.
  • For the best results, marinate the chicken overnight
  • Soak the bamboo skewers in water for at least two hours. This will prevent the bamboo skewers from burning.

 

 

 

Singapore Laksa新加坡叻沙xīn jiā pō jiā lè shā

cover1The flavors of this popular Southeast Asian street food are bold and simply addictive. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of this delicious spicy noodle soup because it has many different varieties across the region. In Singapore, the “Katong” version or Nyonya Laksa, is believed to have been created after the interaction between the Peranakans with the local Singaporeans.

I have adapted the recipe by reducing the amount of the coconut milk. The end result is a creamier version of laksa without the dominant flavor of coconut milk but the flavor is still iconic and authentic.

Serve 4 to 6

  • 800g                               fresh thick rice noodles usually used for laksa, or use 500g dried thick rice noodles粗米粉

Laksa broth

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • shrimp heads and shells from 300 g of shrimp新鲜整虾
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup coconut milk椰奶

Seasonings:

  • 3 tablespoons  fish sauce鱼露
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar白糖
  • 1 teaspoon             salt (more to taste)

Laksa paste

  • 8-10                shallots, peeled小红葱头
  • 30g                  dried shrimp soaked in warm water for 15 minutes小虾干
  • 12 pieces       candlenuts石栗
  • 6 large dried red chili, soaked in warm water until soft
  • 8g                    ginger生姜
  • 15g                  turmeric root or use 5 tablespoons of turmeric powder姜黄
  • 8g                  galangal or use 3 tablespoons of galangal powder高良姜
  • 1 large lemon grass stalk cut off about 1-inch from the bottom and break into pieces香茅
  • 1 handful       laksa leaves (Vietnamese Coriander)水蓼, for substitute, use mint or equal parts mint and cilantro
  • 1/3 cup          cooking oil

Toppings:

  • 300 g  shrimp keep the shells and head for stock
  • 10 -15  fried Tofu Puffs cut into half 豆腐泡
  • 2 cups          beansprouts豆芽

Garnish:

  • laksa leaves

 Method

Preparing laksa paste

  1. Place all ingredients in food processor. Pulse a few times and then grind into smooth paste. You may need to scrap the bowl few times to make sure everything is ground finely. Add a bit more oil if you needed to get it goingIMG_4983

Preparing laksa broth

  1. Preheat a large heavy-bottom pot. Add cooking oil. Carefully add the shells and heads from the shrimp and stir fry until they turn orange in color. Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to let it gently simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Strain the stock and discard the shells.

Ready to start serve Laksa – blanch the bean sprouts and shrimp

  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Blanch the bean sprouts for about 10 seconds, drain and then run through cold water quickly.
  2. Bring another fresh pot of water to a boil. Cook the shrimp until they turn pink and then refresh with cold water. Set aside.

Putting laksa paste and laksa broth together to make the Laksa Sauce

  1. Preheat a large heavy-bottom pot. Add laksa paste (there’s already oil in there). Stir fry until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Keep stirring to prevent the paste catching at the bottom of the pot. Pour in the Laksa broth (shrimp stock). Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to let it gently simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in the coconut milk. From this point on, you don’t want to let it come to a hard boil or the coconut milk with turn frothy. Add Tofu puffs and let it gently simmer for 10 minutes to let them soak up the gravy. Season the broth with sugar, salt and fish sauce.

Cooking the noodles:

  1. Bring a bit pot of water to a boil. It takes about 15 minutes to boil the noodles if you use dried rice noodles. If you are able to get packaged fresh thick rice noodles, just quickly blanch them in the boiling water.

 Serving

  1. Portion the rice noodles in a large bowl.  Arrange cooked shrimp and bean sprouts on the noodles. Generously ladle the hot laksa sauce over and sprinkle in more laksa leaves
  2. Serve immediately

Tips

You can make laksa sauce and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.