I was at the wedding of one of my friends from primary school this weekend and boy, there was a lot of food. All up, I think there were 13 dishes if you counted the cake as a dish. Speaking of the cake, I was very happy, but not surprised, to see that it was “Asian” cake: light, fluffy sponge decorated beautifully with some sort of cream(?) and other cake stuff that I don’t understand. I think wedding cake has a pretty average reputation for it being more about the aesthetics than the taste i.e. too much fondant or icing of some sort, generally chocolate flavoured cake and generally pretty average tasting/dry/too heavy/too rich.
Out of the small handful of weddings that I’ve been to so far, this wedding cake comes out on top because it not only looked pretty but was actually entirely edible as well. Even after all that food, I still managed to eat a slice of cake, fit in two other desserts AND walk quite comfortably out of the restaurant at the end of the night. I was definitely at the gym the next morning though!
If I was to write a list of my favourite things to eat, curry would generally not make it into the Top 10, simply because there are plenty of other foods I would prefer to eat for various reasons. There’s always an exception though and mine would be this Malaysian curry that’s probably not nearly as authentic as the real thing but still tastes fantastic.
The specific brand of paste used here is “Tean’s Gourmet” authentic Malaysian vegetarian curry paste but honestly, most Malaysian curry pastes bought from any decent Asian supermarket will do, bearing in mind they do come in varying degrees of spiciness. Note also that we have never made curry according to “type” (massaman, panang, etc); we pretty much just buy the sauce and throw in any ingredients we want.
Because it’s something my mum is especially good at cooking, here are the ingredients she uses and her instructions on how she cooks this curry:
- A packet of a Malaysian curry paste of your choice – depending on how many people you’re cooking for, you generally don’t need to use the whole packet. About 100g is enough for about 4-5 people.
- A whole onion – chopped, diced, whatever, it doesn’t matter
- Coconut milk – depends on how creamy you want it
- Vegetable oil
- Any ingredients you want with the curry, so meat, potatoes, etc. In the one in this picture, there is a large potato cut into chunks, an egg plant also cut into chunks and some chicken wings
- Thin rice noodles, otherwise known as rice vermicelli
- Fish sauce, for seasoning
- Fresh lemon juice
- Fresh mint leaves
Using those ingredients, do something along the lines of:
- Place oil in the saucepan/pot that you’ll be cooking the curry in
- Fry the onions on a low-ish heat in the saucepan/pot until they’re soft
- Add the paste in with the onions and cook on a medium heat until it “starts to smell nice” (her words, not mine)
- Drop in all the other ingredients into the saucepan/pot i.e. chicken, egg plant, etc
- Add some salt to taste (Note that you generally add in fish oil when you go to eat this and that’s really salty so be careful here)
- Continue stirring the curry while slowly adding in a little bit of water until the sauce covers about half the ingredients in the saucepan/pot (You can replace the water with some sort of stock if you wanted more flavour/saltiness). Be careful not to put too much liquid in as you don’t want it really runny
- When all ingredients are cooked, add as much or as little coconut milk as you want. For 4 people, about 165ml (a small can) is enough
- Leave that on a low heat and cook the rice noodles until they’re semi-soft to soft but definitely not soggy. Drain the noodles through a colander
- Serve the curry on top of a bed of noodles, squeeze over the juice of a lemon wedge, splash on some fish sauce depending on how salty you want it and top it all off with fresh mint leaves. My mum also likes to add some sliced cucumber as well but this is more for texture than taste. Bean sprouts also work to get that crunchy texture.
Hopefully that all made some sort of sense! It’s really straightforward and as I said, it’s probably not what you would find in Malaysia but that doesn’t matter so much for me in this case, especially when my mouth waters profusely every single time I smell this wafting through the house.
If anyone can tell me what “bacteria” actually is here, that would solve a lot of confusion. From a menu in a random restaurant in Beijing.
Note that I’m almost completely illiterate in written Mandarin Chinese, although I am teaching myself how to write it at the moment!
One of the snapper I got last weekend has finally been put through the oven and consumed, dressed in dashes of soy sauce and sesame oil, sprinkled with garlic, ginger and green onion and topped with fresh slices of lemon.
I’m not a huge consumer of seafood and when I cooked my first snapper fillets last weekend, I didn’t really know when it was actually cooked. I’m not sure how the meat is meant to taste when it’s cooked right, when it’s undercooked and when it’s overcooked, but I think essentially, it’s done right when the flesh is opaque and flakes away when tested with a fork. Last time I kept them in the oven for about 15 minutes but this time, I checked them regularly from around the 10 minute mark to make sure I didn’t ruin the fish by overcooking it.
Believe it or not, I still have one more whole snapper to cook. Perhaps a stray away from Asian flavours is due?
Obviously I’m not yet up to the stage where I care about presentation as much as I do about cooking the food properly but here is the “After” result of my first go at making pork ribs in all of its sticky, messy glory. There are heaps of things I can work on for next time but the main thing this time was that a) they were cooked and edible and b) the flavour was good.
Without any sort of insight from anyone who knows what I could have done better, I’m guessing my main issue was that I had the temperature a bit high as the meat dried out quite a bit. I know there are techniques to getting that nice, juicy, fall-off-the-bone meat that I didn’t get to read properly about, so hopefully next time this will work a bit better upon more self-education.
The flavour, though, was pretty good. It had the sweet and salty taste from the hoisin sauce and honey, plus a tiny little bit of spiciness from the tabasco. I’m not sure that there needs to be the amount of garlic and ginger I put in there (3 cloves of garlic and about a teaspoon of grated ginger) but I guess this depends on how “Asian-style” I want to make it.
I’m not entirely pleased with this attempt since the effort it took me in prepping and the actual cooking didn’t really show in the end result but ribs are one of my favourite dishes and I’m pretty keen to learn how to cook the perfect rack of ribs myself.
Last night I went out for dinner with some of my friends and we went to a place in Elliott Stables called Besos Latinos, which serves a mixture of Mexican and South American cuisine. The four of us ended up getting an entree each and a “Mexican Platter” to share. This included:
- Cheese quesadilla (3 pieces each)
- Beef tacos (2 each)
- Jalapeños, salsa, guacamole and chipotle sauce
- Charro bean dip
- A heck of a lot of corn chips
The beef was very good (although not quite as good as Mexico‘s beef taco – not sure it’s still on the menu but it was the best beef taco I’ve ever had) and the jalapeños were fresh and crunchy with a delightful kick. It was also the first time I had tried chipotle and although not the worst thing I’ve ever tasted, I’m not sure I’m completely sold on the flavour. The corn chips were also very abundant but not very tasty.
To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Mexican food but if it’s got the tangy and salty flavours that I like and it’s not too heavy on the sour cream or guacamole, then it can really make a perfect meal. This was definitely one of the better Mexican meals I’ve had – although I would probably hold back a bit on the corn chips.