Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Recipe of the Day: Curry Chicken

"Want some curry?" I asked. The human Curry said "Yes!"

At times, my palate yearns for something but I don't cook it immediately or I cannot get it straightaway. Normally a dish like curry is a tastebud's need during cold winter days, when the spiciness of the gravy just warms the stomach and every bite of the meat or vegetables cooked in it makes the mouth happy. So this dish has been long coming and a cool spring day makes my appetite for it even more obvious.


In Malaysia, ready mixed curry spices are everywhere but over here, I learnt to concoct my own from the many spices that I got from the Indian store. Sometimes I wonder why do we need so many types from cumin, coriander, garam masala to turmeric powder when all of them seem to be similar in appearance and taste. Sometimes, the requirements of these many spices can deter a determined cook like me and yet my longing for the taste of curry overules all my doubts.


I used 10 to 12 pieces of dried red chillis to get the dish firing hot because that seems to be the preference now since I started consuming Korean Kimchi and Curry, needless to say... he is synonymous with everything spicy, hence his nickname.



Ingredients:

1/2 of a medium sized chicken, cut to chunky pieces
1 large yellow onion
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 thumbsize ginger knob, minced
12 dried red chillis
2 cups of water
250ml coconut milk
2 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
salt
cooking oil





Method:


1)Marinate the chicken pieces with the mixture of the cumin, coriander & turmeric powder. Add in some salt and 2 tbsp cooking oil and coat evenly. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
2)Heat cooking oil on high heat and stir fry the garlic, ginger and red chillis for 2 minutes. Add in the onion, lower the heat and continue to stir fry for 5 minutes.
3)Turn the heat up and add in chicken and coat evenly. Cover with lid and let sit for 2 minutes and turn down the heat and let simmer for 7 to 10 minutes. Add in the water and let simmer further for 15 to 20 minutes, till meat is tender.
4) Stir in coconut milk and let sit for another 3 minutes. Turn off heat. Serve with rice.



Serves: 3 persons

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

April Bento Days (4)

Spring days can be lazy days for me too. Last night's rain lingered on till this afternoon, sometimes a trickle of drizzle and at times a downpour that never seems to end. And Missy E is on school vacation, the more unmotivated I am, knowing that I haven't plan anything for her this whole week! Being the perfect mum is just so hard.

Nevertheless, I never shy away from colors in everything I like and made a simple Bento box for Curry, light and easy. The canned tuna and salmon are my lifesavers when there is nothing better to cook or short in time to prep early in the morning. Mix with some mayo, salt and pepper with a squirt of lemon juice, I get a tasty salmon spread. Although I am not a big fan of Mexican food, the tortilla wrap comes very handy and I use it during summer days to contain and wrap around sandwiches fillings when the burger and hot dog buns are the only sought after bread!

Curry always preferred the Japanese pickled Radish ('Takuan') to the gherkin pickle. I agree with his choice as the radish one is more crunchy and is not slathered all over with the strong scent of vinegar. Spread over in a bed of shredded lettuce with tomatoes on the side, I think I have brought enough spring mood into this lunch box. Now if only the raining will stop and let me have a peek of the sun. Looks like my chances are as gloomy as the sky.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Justified Separation?

My heart goes out to the mothers whose children were taken away from them from the recent raid on the polygamist sect ranch in Texas. Although those women live within a group of 'sisterhood' who may offer a shoulder to cry on in these type of situations, nothing can ever calm the mental anguish of each of them for seeing their children being chaperoned away in buses to unknown locations and fostering houses.

Although I am educated and know all my rights as a woman, I cannot help but try to understand the restraints placed on these women who were born and raised within the sect. The authorities are extremely harsh on them when all their lives, they only have their children to claim as their own while sharing their husbands with multiple others. And to have their flesh and blood taken away for the one reason that an anonymous phonecall was made by one abused individual and without any concrete proof of abusive behavior on their parts just doesn't make sense.

This type of polygamist sect has existed long enough and I do not condone to any inactions by the authorities in the name of freedom of religion and belief. However, the enforcement of any laws should be done in a more planned and appropriate way, especially when children are involved and multiple families are affected. The authorities' reason for this raid is that there is a fear and possibility that the children, specifically girls are abused and forced into marriages to older men. Almost 400 children are taken and so far, no charges are made against any of the men of the sect while the mothers scrambled from court hearings to housing compounds, just for the chance to reunite with their children again. Have we forgotten that these mothers are also victims themselves, ostracized by some because of their obligatory way of life which has been primarily determined and set by men? They may already have no dreams nor future being born within the sect and taking their children away just makes their miserable lives more unbearable.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cheese Mousse Chocolate Raspberry Cake

I am very timid when using chocolate and cheese in baking. Possibly because of the mess of melted chocolate and the certain temperature that needs to be observed when melting it and the extra baking method of waterbath for cheesecake makes me weary about the whole process. However, these 2 are the favorite flavors of most people and I made this cake for Dine, an old friend of mine who simply love both. Inspirations come from everywhere and I believe mine should come from the people I know and the best way to sell a cake is to make one that they like!


Chocolate is something that I eat from the bar and anything fancier than that, I will have it as a second option after everything else. Not that I don't like it but I feel overwhelmed after eating a brownie, chocolate cake or choco mousse as if it takes up my entire palate and the guilty conscious kicks in there and then!


Nevertheless, cheese is my thing and I can never resist any type, including my kids' slices of cheese that goes with their sandwiches. So a cheesecake was something that I would want to make for my Bake Galore and when Dine said she wanted something chocolatey and cheesy, this cake resulted.


Raspberry is synonymous with chocolate and I had to include a handful of this berries in the layers that make up the cake and also a spoonful of raspberry jelly on top to make the first bite sweeter. The cheese mousse was light and the chocolate cake was decadent. Combined together they make the perfect marriage of light and heavy, subtle and substantial at the same time. The presence of the fruit is teasing to the eyes and tastebuds, with a little amount of juice squirting out in every bite, hence making the taste one to savor long after the whole cake is gone.



Raspberry has a very nice dark red and appears to be more appropriate in this cake than the strawberry, which is more playful and young in color and adorn a summer yellow cake perfectly. One look and you already know that this is a serious and yet pretty cake, to be eaten properly from a plate with a fork and napkin and accompanied by a cup of coffee, it is like enjoying a cool and wet spring day in a warm cozy cafe.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Beautiful Flowers & Plants

Cherry Blossom

Buddleia & White hyacinth

VelvetLeaf & Sweet Violet

Red Flowering Shrub



Forsythia

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Old friends New Friends

It was a hot day today and we had Missy E's friend over for a playdate. While they play dress up and chit chat in their girlie ways, the mommies too had their time of talk and laugh despite their little boys fussing around. Having friends over is always a look forward thing for me and although our playgroup is not a big one, it is still the best time when we mommies don't moan over the long hours of the day and get a bit of real conversation going on. And also have some goodies to go with our cup of tea!
Being an expatriate means starting all over again in terms of looking for friendship and new interests. For the past 7 years that I have lived in the States, good friends are hard to come by and not being a very social butterfly myself, finding one that shares similar ideas and reminds me of my old friends means finding a pot of gold. As we giggled over my wedding pictures and shared our stories of in laws, it felt so good to be able to open up and talk like old times and yet with a new friend.

Thanks to Facebook, I have recently reconnected with old friends from childhood, elementary to high schools and from my previous university. All of us have changed so much and it really takes us time to realise that all fond memories never fade and we can keep reminiscing old times and talking about present lives simultaneously. Sometimes old friends can reveal something that we never realise ourselves and remind us on how our lives and paths may have developed and differed from our initial plans in school. Some are married, some with marriage issues, some are still single, some have many kids and yet some are still trying, and yet all of us are linked to each other with some sort of good memories and hoping to share more through the mighty power of the internet regardless on whichever corner of the earth we ended up.
Looking at Missy E and Prince D forming up their own friendships with their little friends is a happy sight. Their energy, dreams and innocence all revealed before my eyes brings a hope of good beginnings and nurturing. I strongly believe a good foundation in friendship can shape part of a child's character and to start it at the right path is a parent's responsibility. I am thankful that my old friends still remember me and able to continue to share news of each other. And to my new friends who are equally fun to hang around with, I look forward to share and learn their life experiences too!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Recipe of the Day: Deep Fried Tofu with egg Sauce

Tofu is a very versatile ingredient. It comes in different texture and mostly in the cube shape, nicely contained in water. The Japanese has a round cylinder one, which has egg in it and appear to be richer in taste and yellow in color.


Besides rice and noodle, a tofu dish whether stuffed with meat or simply steamed with soy sauce drizzled on it is a usual presence on the dinner table of the Chinese household. The fact that it is a good source of protein makes it a preferable choice to meat in view that it has a lower calorie count and a healthier choice for children and old folks. And of course myself too!!!


Perhaps this dish does not fall under the Label Quickie as the silken tofu had to be coated in cornstarch and deep fried prior to the adding of the sauce but still, it is very easy. For the love of food, I have conquered my fear of deep frying and used a small saucepan for easier control of the oil temperature and even browning of each piece of the tofu.



For those who are ultimate health conscious, the egg can be omitted in the sauce. I just had to add it to make it more nutritious for Missy E who loves her food in sauces and gravy and also Prince D who is pretty picky with his food these days.

Ingredients:
2 cubes of soft textured tofu (sliced into 1/2 parts horizontally and divided into 4 quarters, making 8 pieces each)
1/2 carrot (cut into sticks of 2 inches)
2 to 3 scallion, with white part minced and green part sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small knob of ginger, minced
1 egg
2 tsp Sesame oil
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp chinese cooking wine
2 tbsp water
2 tsp of cornstarch
4 tbps cornstarch for coat and deep fry




Method:

1)Heat enough oil in pan for deep frying. Coat tofu pieces in cornstarch lightly and drop into oil when ready (test with a little cornstarch, if sizzles, it is ready). Deep fry in batches for 2 to 3 minutes and turning for even browning. Drain on paper towel.

2)At the same time, on another pan, heat oil and stir fry the garlic, white part of scallion and ginger for 2 minutes.

3)Prepare sauce by mixing the sesame oil, cooking wine, salt & pepper and cornstarch and 2 tbsp water. Pour into the garlic mixture and turn down the heat and let simmer for 3 minutes.

4)Add in the carrot and half of the scallion and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.

5)Beat egg in bowl and slowly drizzle into the pan and swirl around with spatula to form ribbons. Season with more salt if required.

6)Spoon and drizzle sauce onto the tofu. Garnish with remaining half of scallion. Serve immediately as the tofu crust may turn soft.

Serves: 3 persons

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Banana & Coconut Custard Pandan Tart

Today's pastry really represents the taste of my hometown, Malaysia. I grew up with the Pandanus leaves, plentiful and simply worthless at times but over here, I only have access to its paste, bottled in a small container which may look poisonously green to some! It is the aroma that it lets out that faints my senses and evoke the longing of everything sweet back in Malaysia where almost all its desserts have the sweet smell of this beautiful green leaf. Add to it toasted coconut and banana, I feel like I am eating Rum on plate with fork.



As mashed banana and toasted coconut were added into the making of the custard, it was impossible to get a smooth surface as with all other custard laden tarts. However, the appearance of the custard goes well with the green Pandan flavored tart cases and slices of banana, giving it a sense of tropical feeling, where coconut trees ruffles within the green landscape accentuated with the short banana trees growing wild all over.

The making of the Pate Sucre pastry was not as simple as I thought and lack of attention to the steps taken in rolling and letting it rest and sit can easily produce a dough that is difficult to roll out from the beginning and resulting in a soggy tart case. As with all baking, one really needs to make it from scratch to understand the temperature and texture of this pastry and little can be understood from reading the recipe and instructions. Luckily this one turned out alright!

This creation is dedicated to my cousin in Malaysia who wanted to see something banana in my bake Galore this week. Only mild tea goes with this pastry as coffee will surely overtake the sweet smell of the pandan and there will be no fun if every smell and taste of this tart is overtaken by others.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Revenge of the Average Sizes!

Anorexia will never be an issue in this household as we love food too much to give up on it for fame and beauty. I am thankful that everytime food is served on the dinner table at home or outside, both Missy E and Prince D never fail to remark "Hmmmmm" before digging in.

The recent news of France's government trying to pass a bill in their Parliament to curtail the fashion world from emphasizing the use of skinny models, parading in their skeletal bones with barely an extra inch of flesh to hold an extra piece of cloth is a welcome to many, especially myself who has never seen the days of sizes below 10 in my own closet! How can anyone see bones like that as beautiful?

Call me insensitive for I do believe that anorexia is a self-inflicted harm by the sufferer who is just besotted with the idea of wanting to feel accepted in a wrongly represented society. There are human beings who have to eat dirt to survive and yet these people rejects food in the name of beauty. And when the situation gets worse, they claim it that this is a disease and as if it grew in them like they have no control of. Even a baby can already associate hunger and the need for milk or food, how can a person blame that this situation started on its own without any fault of their own?

Everyone needs to eat and wants to eat, and with multitudes of kinds of food, everyone can surely find their favorite ones. Moderation intake and exercise is the key to a good healthy looking body and not wispy flesh with protruding bones in designer clothings. I admire people who has a slim physique but I don't despise mine at all. Human beings eat to live and for foodies like me, we Live to eat too. Whatever sizes we are in, we should appreciate ourselves and not live by other people's standards.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Recipe of the Day: Sweet Black Soy Pork with Sesame

I was yearning for something sweet to go with my daily rice. Call my palate a flip flopper, it sure asks for something different everyday and I wonder if this reflects my personality too! Maybe. Mood swings is my trademark and I really believe in horoscope predictions and the fact that I was born under the sign Cancer makes me a crabby housewife at certain days and a feisty claw snapper at other days.

My recent infatuation with sesame seeds is apparent everywhere in this blog. I love both white and black and they really bring out the character of the dish that they accent on and makes everything tastier, especially when it is toasted and its nutty smell just adds more enjoyment to every bite.

For this dish, I used the sweet soy sauce ('kecap Manis') and honey to make the gravy. The sweet soy sauce is good as everything that I have used it for has produced a good color which is appetizing to the eyes. It gives a thicker consistency and a coating that feels slippery in the mouth and yet it smacks on the lips like a thick lip gloss.

This dish is best served hot from the pot with a bowl of rice. As I used pork butt meat which has a bit of fat , the meat is tender and chewy. I prefer red onions to the white and yellow ones as I find them more pungent in smell and retains their crunchiness better in this braise and simmer dish.



Ingredients:
1.25 lbs of pork butt (seasoned with salt, pepper, cooking wine, sesame oil & 2 tsp cornstarch)
1/2 red Onion
3 slices of ginger, minced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 scallion leaves, white part minced
2 tbsp Sweet Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Honey
1 tbsp light soy sauce
5 tbsp water
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp of toasted white sesame seeds



Method:
1)Heat oil in pan/pot. Stir fry the ginger, garlic and white part of scallion for about 2 mins on medium heat.
2)Add in half of the red onion and continue to stir fry for another minute. Turn to high heat and add 1 tsp of cooking oil.
3)Add in the pork and coat evenly and continue to stir fry and reduce the heat back to medium and let sit for 5 minutes with lid on pot.
4)Combine the sweet and salty soy sauce together with the honey in a bowl and add in the 5 tbsp water to mix. Add into the meat together with the remaining red onion and let simmer for another 3 minutes. Add in the 1/2 cup of water and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
5)Dish up and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and garnish with diagonal cut of scallions.

Serves: 2 to 3 persons

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April Bento Days (3)

Some ingredients are just naturally beautiful. I used lotus Root ('renkon') for today's Bento and they don't need to be prepped anymore to look enticing. The holes that covers the surface of each slice makes me think on how nature takes its course to create something like that when all the donuts designers in the world can think of only 1 hole in a donut! Nature sure works wonders!

On itself, the lotus root has not much taste except for the fact that it is crunchy and fibrous when bit into. I normally use it in soup, simmered with pork meat and dried cuttlefish as the Chinese emphasizes on the consumption of soup for better circulation of the digestive system and the lotus root itself is said to provide Vitamins and enhances one's stamina.

I used minced pork as filling in between 2 slices of this root, similar to sandwiches. Pan fried and steamed to softer texture, the filling will be kept moist till lunch time. As the kimchi has not been a Bento condiment for long, I spooned in some to kick up the palate a little with the subtle taste of the cooked root and meat.

I like Kylie Kwong's way of presentation and adopted her way of cutting the scallions. A scatter here and there makes the dish looks so homemade and yet appetizing enough to the eyes. Infact of all the studio kitchens in the cooking shows, I like her kitchen the best, especially her big wooden chopping board. Indeed, I am lacking space and in serious need to reorganize things again if I can be that fascinated by a humongous chopping board!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

English Rose with Thorns

The divorce saga between Paul McCartney and Heather Mills was the dominant headline of most of the UK tabloids since the news broke. The Beatlemania never died with John Lennon, infact the remaining 3 members had made their respective and individual marks in the music world thereafter and Paul McCartney seems to enjoy more media attention, from his empathetic support for his first wife, Linda who suffered and died of breast cancer to his Knighthood appointment by the Queen of England. His marriage to Heather Mills was nothing less of a fairy tale and the media frenzy then was no less than the divorce this time .

First I expected the divorce was to be discreet, as with all British who mainly hold stoic faces and will only speak when spoken to and are the types that do not reveal and rather not wash their dirty linens in public. I remember riding my daily underground train from my flat to law school and vice versa, I hardly hear any noise of talking nor chatting amongst my fellow passengers as they rather hold up their Jeffrey Archer or Jane Austen paperbacks and Times newspaper to their faces and let the world wander away.

When the media started to publish all the accusations of domestic and substance abuse between the couple, I thought it will be another episode of frenzy media speculations with claimed secret and close sources of news while the spouses letting their lawyers deal with all the hullabaloo of the tabloid circus. The fact that Heather Mills took on a ferocious defence for herself whether on TV or in the court really proved that not all blondes are dumb!

In my view, the media has been biased towards her ex husband partly due to the fact that he is more of an icon to the British people, but also a proven dedicated husband to his first wife till her last breath and it was simply inconceivable to them that he would abuse Heather Mills.

I dare to differ from the British on this as I support Heather Mills. What drives a headstrong woman like her to the brink of losing her cool and fighting tears on shrieking voice on national TV in defending herself so ferociously? There must be some form of truth in her side of the story. For an amputee who championed for her charity to help others like herself, she must have some substance of compassion and dignity to support her claim. Her decision to represent herself before the courts of law in the divorce process clearly shown her determination to clear her name of a gold digger fashionista and only she herself could have explain the truth of the collapse of her marriage. Fortunately, there was no more details revealed as a settlement was eventually agreed upon and the media must be devastated for lack of the opportunity to further report on the matter. I had only 1 sentence for Heather Mills... 'you go Girl'.

Her recent appearance as one of the judges at the Miss America Pageant had the media in America talking again in terms of her eyeball rolling to the booing from the audience when she was introduced by the host of the show. Was it really that big deal on how she reacted? If Simon Cowell had survived American Idol for so long despite his hostilities and eye popping remarks towards the contestants, I don't see why Heather Mills cannot get her chance to prove her good qualities too in this part of the world. Again, this English rose ought not to be taken lightly and while she is no demure Princess Diana, she fights for herself without the help of the media. I truly admire her.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Strawberry & Green Tea Mousse Cake


Mousse on Mousse! Cakes of this type is very rare to come by in the suburb areas and buttercream is still the preferred choice for every occasions. The lightness of its texture gives an airy and smooth bite. Every time I have a piece of any mousse cake, I can comfort myself that eggs are at least more healthier than butter and the calories will not weigh in that much as long as I don't over indulge.

Cake shops in Asia, specifically in Japan and Hong Kong have multiple choices and colors of mousse cakes. The abundance of tropical fruits like mangoes and papaya and specialty ingredients from sesame seeds to green tea powder creates doors of opportunity for various designs on the beautiful layers of mousse and sponge cake. These cakes are dainty cakes, going through different processes of creation and layering from the base of sponge cake or even cookie crumbs together with the whipping and molding the mousse onto the cake itself can take so much time and I understand why these cakes can be pricey.

For this cake, I made a pistachio green tea Genoise base. Genoise is a form of sponge cake but it is more sturdy than the normal sponge cake but not as heavy as a butter cake, just right to hold onto more than 3 layers of mousse. And it doesn't smell as eggy as the usual sponge base suggested in cake books and one thing good about it, butter is not present.

The strawberry mousse was easy to work with but the green tea mousse required a bit of planning on the making process... using the bain marie/waterbath method and finally incorporating the whipped cream and sesame seeds into it was like practising my gentle side of folding. The need to mold it immediately onto the sponge cake itself swayed my confidence a bit as it was like pouring foam onto the solid base. This was my 1st attempt and I had no idea on whether it was the right way. The sesame seeds kind of disappeared to somewhere as they don't appear much when the cake was cut!

In the end, I ended up with 5 layers, not all conforming to the same size. I made this cake in memory of my dad as his birthday is today. And also for my grandma who will turn 83 next Tuesday, although I am sure she already enjoyed the one made by my cousin in Malaysia during their potluck dinner tonight of which I am only left with a YouTube video of the occasion. Families are like layers in the mousse cake, everyone supports everyone and when they can come together, they create the prettiest picture!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rambling About Nothing

How do I deal with a blank mind? I worry over it. Really, I mean it!

I have always been average in my studies and wished for all the pinpointed questions in exams to get me through. I was so glad to be working in the real world as I believe education is only a foundation but real experience and hands on exposures are the things that enrich a person's mind and life. Occasionally, nightmares of a blank mind when I am faced with exam questions in the exam rooms jerks me up from my deep sleep. My heart will be racing and pumping so fast as if I had been jabbed straight to the veins.

Most of the days I am pretty occupied with the kids activities and my daily chores of an ordinary housewife. But once in a blue moon, I see nothing and want nothing to do with me.... I just cannot do anything and I don't know where I am going..... does this ever happened to anyone? My biggest fear in life is when my brain run out of ideas on writing, cooking, topics and plans for the kids. Is this a sign of early Alzheimer or just a short phase indicating to me to give my brain a break? I don't remember on when did my life get so occupied to the sense that I feel that a non-thinking brain is a senile brain totally!

I am not a fastidious nor meticulous person in every sense but when I decide to do something, conquering its process gives me ultimate satisfaction. The outcome might not necessarily be the one as I thought and yet, I relish the fact that I did my best. And when there is not even an idea to start with, I get all shaky and agitated on my non-ability to think of something. Truly, these are real thoughts of my mind today.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

April Bento Days (2)

Today's Bento was a rush effort. Once in a while my body seems to shut down and last night was the time when I hit the bed at 9pm! Another minute awake will definitely have killed me. And sleep I did... all the way to almost 7.30am. Couldn't get too creative and I threw in a hard boiled egg with shell intact. Is my Bento making days coming to an end?


Luncheon meat or SPAM as it is known here is always delicious. The only thing that really dread me is the opening of its can! The little miserable key that attached to the can never works in my favor and to open it requires dainty twists of the wrist and utmost patience. Perhaps I was guilty for making Curry wait till today to have his Bento when I pledged to make it every Monday and I persevered until I heard the last click when the key met its end around the rectangular can. What a relief!


I made SPAM Musubi and half way into it, I thought to myself.... why do I always have to make things so hard???? Of all the shapes I chose triangle, and I had to shape and cut the SPAM into triangle too. Wrapping the seaweed strips around it was not an easy task. If I had been a copycat, a perfectly rectangle piece of meat would have been easily wrapped around a rectangle block of rice. And that was why I had to send off the egg freshly out from the pot and straight into the container. At the same time, I was still thinking on how spoiled Curry was from last week's Bento complaint that I don't separate his fruits from his main dish, hence making him digging out all of it before being able to heat the rest. This egg will teach him a lesson, so I thought. Peel it himself and I was making a bet on whether he comes home with the egg shell left inside the same compartment for me to clean up or make me love him an extra day for disposing it at his office. Perhaps he was smarter than I thought or he sensed my nagging coming his way if I see the egg shells in there. The container was already in the dishwasher when I came down! Well done.

It was a long day today with too much going on and too little time. And now I believe everything happens for a reason, my 10 hours rest and sleep last night has been properly proportioned out to fuel my energy tank today. Another day gone and I do wish that another 10 hours of continuous rest and sleep night will come my way, only if without the next long day that comes with it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Recipe of the Day: Tamarind & Chive Salmon

Growing up in a Southeast Asia country means having a sweet, sour and spicy palate. Whether in a condiment, appetizer, main dish or sometimes dessert, these tastes can be present as a combination or individually. I personally prefer the sour taste to the sweet and recently started to enjoy spiciness of the dried red chillis.

The plastic jar of Concentrated tamarind has been by the fridge door since Easter when I used just a few teaspoons in the Mutton Rendang (Dried coconut Mutton Curry). If I was the only one, I would have finish it by the 2nd day I bought it. Of course, there are other food critics in this household of mine whose palates and appetites must be supplied with variations everyday or else I will lose my Kitchen Goddess title to Curry's sushi chef and Missy E's Mr. Domino Pizza!!!

The spring weather brought us a surprise as there were chives growing! First I thought it was weed grass and didn't give it another look. Then Curry utilised his annual green thumb to sow and clean the dirt patch and he asked me for my culinary opinion. The appearance looked like scallion but with more thinner stalks and leaves, I thought it was chive. A further report from my hubby gardener confirmed there was a mini blueish flower sprouting too on some of the stalks. As my herbs have always been the usual scallion/green onion leaves and cilantro, I searched for answers as not to poison my family for I was excited to use it over the stovetop! According to the data in Wikipedia, it was chive and I have no idea on how it grew on our patch. Possibly the evil squirrel and chipmunk that feeds on Curry's early seedlings of everything that he plants since we moved here had stolen some from the neighbors and decided to repay us for all they have taken! And Wikipedia further stated that Chives is a deterent to pests in the garden.... no wonder they grow without any trouble from Curry's garden nemesis.

There are not many variations in cooking fish, and so I made up this recipe 5 years ago when I was hitting my 30s and decided to consume more fish, especially salmon which contains enough Omega 3 to last me another decade before I have to change my diet again. It is a very simple simmered dish but the taste is so good, especially when it is piping hot and the sour gravy just keeps me wanting more and I can eat this dish all day long from breakfast to supper!!! The chives was not overpowering and added a tinge of green to the appetizing orange salmon and brownish gravy. As Missy E has not encountered her first hot spicy taste yet, I omitted the fresh red chillis which can be added by those yearning something similar to Thai dishes.




Ingredients:

2 large fillet of salmon or firm flesh fish (each sliced to 3 to 4 smaller parts)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 small shallots, minced
4 slices of ginger
3 leaves of chives, chopped to small bits, including the white part
4 to 5 tbsp of concentrated tamarind paste
3 cups of water
1 tbsp cornstarch with 5 tbsp water added
salt



Method:
1)Heat oil in pot and fry the minced garlic, shallots, ginger and chives for 3 minutes.
2)Add in the tamarind paste and mix for 2 minutes.
3)Add in the salmon, piece by piece and coat the mixed paste evenly on each piece and let sit for 2 minutes with high heat.
4)Add in water and lower the heat to medium and close pot lid to let it simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. Add in the cornstarch mixture and stir. Add in salt to taste.
5)Serve hot and garnish with chives. Best served with rice.

Serves: 3 to 4 persons

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