SEVEN COUNTRIES IN ONE PLATE mango and prawn salad

seven countries

This is what happens when we do not have our own produce. Thai mangoes are in season and I love it with prawns. There are many recipes to pair up these two beautiful ingredients but I picked the easy way out due to my busy schedule at work.

Mangoes from Thailand

Prawns from Indonesia

Cherry Tomatoes from Cameron Highlands, West Malaysia

Avocado from Australia

Lemon from Turky

Olive Oil from Italy

Black Pepper Corns from Sarawak, East Malaysia, Borneo

Sea Salt from France

Dried herbs from Australia

photo (9)

Bring a pot of water to boil and squeeze in a wedge of lemon juice. Cook prawns with shell on. Transfer prawns into ice water. Remove shell and vein then slice into half. Cut mango, tomatoes and avocado into bite size.

In a small bowl, mix olive oil, pepper, salt, lemon juice and herbs. Pour over the above and mix well. 

BAMBOO SHOOT IN OLIVE OIL

bamboo shoots 1

It is always fun to visit the local market during Chinese New Year period. This is when I can see a lot of rare ingredients that could not be found at other time of the year.

Bamboo shoot used to be a poor man’s food which had become an expensive delicacy. The traditional way of cooking uses boiling salt water to soften it before frying. This time, I fry it raw to retain its crunchiness. I was lucky it turns out well.  

bamboo shoots 2 bamboo shoots 3

Bamboo shoot, remove the layers of outer skin (more than expected) and cut into bite size

Garlic

White wine

Olive oil

Sea salt

Crushed black pepper

Lemon juice

Fry garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Put in bamboo shoot follow by salt and pepper. Add in a glut of white wine and cook for 5 minutes. Squeeze a wedge of lemon juice over and serve immediately.

BAKED YOGURT CHICKEN

This is a recipe that was missing in action for quite a while but never been forgotten. Last weekend, I decided to take a break from Italian cooking and prepare this dish for a friend who came over for lunch.

Ingredients

Chicken pieces

Shallots

Garlic

Cumin

Young ginger

Plain yogurt

Paprika

Turmeric powder

Black pepper

Sea salt

Olive oil

Wash chicken, pad dry and put into a plastic bag. Blend all other ingredients and mix it thoroughly with yogurt. Marinate chicken with mixture. Tie up plastic bag and leave overnight in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 428F/220C. Bake chicken for 25 minutes and turn to grill for another 10 minutes.

This meal goes well with plain stem rice and perhaps a glass of ice lemongrass drink.

DEEPAVALI LUNCH

There are not many happy moments in my life and that makes them too precious to be forgotten. Hence I decided to start a new category “happy moments” to collect them from now on and share my joy.

Today is Deepavali and it happens to be my first post for this category.

One of the best decisions I have made over the past two years is to move from my old apartment to this new home surrounded by lovely neighbors and nice scenery. Since I shifted in, Deepavali has been a happy moment each year when my Indian neighbor Mr. Raju will bring over mouthwatering lunch to celebrate the occasion. 

Happy Deepavali!

PAN FRIED BRINJAL

I’ve never liked brinjals or eggplants when I was young. Only much later than I realized it’s the way it was cooked in the old oriental style that makes it mushy.  I am quite afraid of mushy food.

I learnt to enjoy it after I followed a chef on TV to fry it till caramelized and top it on pasta in crushed raw tomato sauce with basil, sea salt and lots of black pepper. That’s when I know that other than onions, brinjals and eggplants can be cooked till caramelized as well and it taste really good.

Grilling or pan fry works for me. This time, although it takes more effort, I pan fried it to avoid getting hard edges that results from grilling.

1 large brinjal cut into pieces about half a centimeter thick (egg plants are more expensive in Singapore)

Sea salt

Black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

Chopped cherry tomatoes

Lemon juice

Heat up enough olive oil in a non-stick pan over small-medium fire. Put in brinjals and add salt and pepper. Fry both sides till brown and caramelized. Remove from pan and cool it in the fridge for an hour. Squeeze a quarter lemon and serve with chopped cherry tomatoes.  

 

TOMATO SALAD WITH ONIONS, OLIVES AND AGED CHEDDAR

I like black olives in tomato salad or marinara sauce (Click here for my marinara sauce recipe). With the closure of Carrefour Singapore, I had a hard time trying to top up my olive bottle. I can only find green olives in other supermarkets. Black ones that are imported from Spain or Italy seem to be hiding themselves away. Green olives are good too but I just got that special love for black ones.

Cherry tomatoes

Pickled small crunchy onions

Black olives

Aged cheddar

Balsamic vinegar

Sea salt

Black pepper

Dry herbs

Extra virgin olive oil

Emulsify olive oil with vinegar, dry herbs, salt and pepper. Mix well with all other ingredients. If you happen to have fresh basil, throw some in. Basil is good friend with tomatoes.

COOK FEEL LOVE

Some of my friends comment that my recipes are not precise. I did not include measurements for the amount of ingredients or seasoning used. The fact is I don’t do that when I am cooking.

I prefer to cook with feel instead of going by the ‘rules’. For a same dish, the amount of seasoning depends on the different quantity of main ingredients for that day. There are times when I may not get to buy enough beef for meatballs so I used more pork or maybe some chicken. Pork is cleaner while chicken is sweet so I got to adjust the amount of salt or pepper accordingly. A pinch of sea salt taste different from rock salt and their taste varies when it came from different regions.

The touch of seasoning will differ again depending on who you are cooking for. Everyone’s taste bud varies. And if I am cooking for my mum, I may stew the meat a little longer so that she won’t have to chew that much. But the sauce may be gluier because of the longer cooking time so I will need to add extra stock or wine to get it right. I have definitely not make the grade many times before I can sum up my experience to finally create it accurately for most dishes.

I always believe seasonings and herbs are meant to enhance the natural taste of the main ingredient. Not to overpower it. Love all ingredients and they will combine beauifully like magic to love you back.

portobello mushroom recipe

aglio olio

garlic, finely sliced or chopped

your favorite pasta

white wine

olive oil

dry herbs or fresh basil

sea salt

black pepper

parmigiano cheese

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt and put in pasta to cook till al dente. At the same time, heat up olive oil in a pan, put in garlic to infuse the oil. Add salt, pepper and herbs. When the aroma fills the kitchen, pour in white wine follow by some pasta water. Drain pasta, put into pan and mix well. Top it up with portobello mushroom and grated parmigiano.  

CHICKEN FILLET WITH PESTO SAUCE

 

I’m so glad to have explored making fresh pesto sauce (Click here for the recipe). Once you have it in your fridge, you can create any dish you can come up with. This time, I blend it with pan fried chicken fillet.

Chicken fillet, cut into bite size

Pesto paste

Cherry tomatoes

Olive oil

Sea salt

Black pepper

Prepare pesto paste by adding extra virgin olive oil to create a smooth sauce.

Here’s a tip when using stainless steel pan for frying. After heating up pan with olive oil, sprinkle some salt before putting in chicken fillet. This will help to avoid meat sticking onto pan while frying. Fry fillet for three minutes on each side and add black pepper.

Off heat and stir in pesto sauce. Garnish with chopped cherry tomatoes and serve immediately. 

PESTO SAUCE

Finally after ten weeks, my sweet basil that I have planted from seed is ready for the first actual harvest and pruning. That adds another happy moment in my life. Immediately, I turned them into my long awaited pesto sauce.

Lots of fresh sweet basil

Pine nuts

2 cloves of garlic

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly crushed black pepper

Grated parmigiano-reggiano

Wake pine nuts by toasting in a pan over medium heat without oil. Other than parmigiano-reggiano,combine all ingredients in a blender and mix using high speed. Add enough olive oil at different intervals during blending to create a smooth paste. In a bowl, blend in parmigiano-reggiano into paste with a fork and it’s done!

Bring water in a pot to boil and add salt. Add in pasta and cook to al dente, drain well and mix in pesto sauce.

You can store the excess sauce in the fridge for other use. To my surprise, it tastes extremely good when I use it to make ham sandwich.

PASTA MARINARA

I know this is one of the most basic recipes but this particular dish is special to me. Finally, after seven weeks, I get to use my fresh basil that I have planted from seed and this is not even the first actual harvest yet. Due to the lack of planting space along my small corridor in Singapore, I took the pain to remove these sprouts from my overcrowded pot to make way for those lucky ones which were left to blossom on.

Sauce

Fresh basil

Half an onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic

1 can of Italian tomato

Black pepper

Salt

Olive oil

Heat up olive oil in a pot with onions and garlic. The fragrance from the onion and garlic will infuse into the oil when heated up together. Add salt to avoid onions from burning. Sautee till onion turns translucent. Add black pepper, tomatoes and basil. Simmer for 30mins.

Cook pasta to al dente and drain away water. Add in enough sauce and stir to cover pasta. Serve immediately with extra sauce and parmigiano cheese.