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Thai Inspiried Coconut Mushroom Soup with Crispy Turmeric Aubergine recipe

Thai Style Coconut Mushroom Soup with Crispy Turmeric Aubergine

Autumn is the best season to whip up some tummy-warming soups. I often cook pumpkin and squash soup as they are in season and bountiful around this time of the year. Such as my Miso Butternut Squash Soup (this and this one), or this coconut pumpkin lentil soup. These velvety soups somewhat soothing for the stomach and satisfying at the same time. All of these soups are super easy and take relatively little time to prepare and can be made in a large batch for freezing as well (it is handy for a busy weeknight when you are too tired to cook). They are some of my favourite soups to make.

Today recipe though does not include pumpkin nor squash, but I find it equally comforting in this season – a Thai style coconut soup that is creamy, umami and full of goodness. The coriander, lemongrass and ginger perfume the soup in a subtle yet uplifting way, a classic trio in Asian (especially Thai) kitchen, infused in coconut milk, gives the soup base a unique flavour with a wonderful floral tone. The main seasoning is fish sauce, it creates a umami bomb which compliments neatly to the sweetness of the creamy coconut milk. It can also be easily made vegan by replacing the fish sauce with dried Shiitake mushroom and Kombu. This soup is also extremely versatile, you can use any types of vegetable (here I have mushroom and okra), or even meat, fish and vegetarian protein such as tofu and tempeh; served with rice or noodles for a more substantial meal.

The most exciting element in this soup is the crispy turmeric aubergine. Not only does it give the whole dish a delicious touch, but also provides a brilliant contrast of texture to the soup. I do recommend you to fry the aubergine after the soup is cooked and served as a topping immediately once cooked, because the aubergine will lose its crunchiness after a while. But the soft version is still absolutely delicious in the soup (because the next day my husband took the left over soup to work, I added in some mung bean noodles for a more satisfying meal for him. And he reported back to me that it was still wonderfully delicious especially with the noodles). I can assure you, whichever way it ends up, the taste of this soup will not be compromised.

Note: Try to find fresh coriander that still has its root attached as the root provides the most intense flavour. When preparing it, pick the leave, set them aside in a small bowl, then cut the root off, leave it whole; then finely chop the stems. But of course, if you can only find those ones that without the roots, it won’t be the end of the world, and it shouldn’t stop you making this soup. Although it will have less intense coriander flavour, but the result will still be amazingly satisfying.

Thai Inspiried Coconut Mushroom Soup with Crispy Turmeric Aubergine recipe Thai Inspiried Coconut Mushroom Soup with Crispy Turmeric Aubergine recipe Thai Inspiried Coconut Mushroom Soup with Crispy Turmeric Aubergine recipe Thai Inspiried Coconut Mushroom Soup with Crispy Turmeric Aubergine recipe

Ingredients:

Serves 4-5 as a starter

For the turmeric aubergine:

  • 1 aubergine, halved lengthwise and then thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • Vegetable oil for frying (about 250ml)

For the soup:

  • 2x (400ml) can coconut milk
  • 400ml Dashi stock (or vegetable stock or water)
  • 1 (2cm) piece ginger, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 sticks lemongrass, trim the top and remove the first layer, cut into 2-3 pieces and bruise them with a rolling pin or your knife
  • 1 small bunch of fresh coriander with roots (see note for its preparation)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • a large handful of cherry tomatoes, 3-4 if they are the bigger ones, halved
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, brushed clean and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 large carrot, or 2 small, scrubbed and sliced (keep the top and end for the soup)
  • 2-3 okra, sliced crosswise
  • 3 tbsp. fish sauce
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of coconut sugar
  • 2 lime, halved then quartered (for serving)
  • vegetable oil

Put the aubergine in a colander and sprinkle them with salt and ground turmeric, mix well and make sure the aubergine is coated with spice and seasoning evenly. (if you use your bare hand, beware that turmeric will stain your fingers for a couple of days, I use reusable food grade glove.)

let the aubergine sit in the colander for at least 10 minutes while you prepare the soup.

In a medium sauce pan, heat a tbsp. of vegetable oil and sauté the ginger, lemongrass, coriander stems and roots, onions, top and end of the carrot with a pinch of salt for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Carefully pour in coconut milk and the dashi stock into the pan. Covered and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Then season with fish sauce (first add 2 tbsp. then add the 3rd if needed) and coconut sugar. Drain the soup with a colander and transfer the soup back into the pan.

Bring the soup back into simmer on medium heat, add sliced carrot and cherry tomato, cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add mushrooms and let the soup simmer for another 5-10 minutes while you are preparing the turmeric aubergine.

In a small sauce pan, heat about 2 cm deep oil (roughly about 250ml) until hot. You can check the temperature by carefully adding a small piece of aubergine, if it sizzles immediately, it means the oil in ready.

While you are waiting for the oil to heat up, squeeze out as much water as possible from the aubergine, then do your best to separate the pieces so that they are not stuck together. Fry them in the hot oil in batches. Once they turn golden brown, removed them from the oil with a kitchen tongs or slotted spoon onto a plate lined with kitchen paper. Set aside. Keep the oil for other use.

The soup should be ready by now, have a taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Remove from the heat. Squeeze in the juice of quarter of a lime and add in the okra and a small handful of coriander leaves. Stir and mix well.

Ladle the soup into warm bowls and topped with the turmeric aubergine and more coriander leaves if desire, serve with another squeeze of lime juice just before serving.

Thai Inspiried Coconut Mushroom Soup with Crispy Turmeric Aubergine recipe

Roasted Gochujang Cauliflowers Rice Bowl recipe

Roasted Gochujang Cauliflower Rice Bowl

Since I have been cooking regularly for my vegan friend, I am always on the search for new way of cooking vegetables. Cauliflower is one of them which is on our regular rotation. I love to cook them in curry, make cauliflower tempura with chickpea flour, baked them with sumac and za’atar for a middle eastern style salad, or chop them finely and add them into my favourite fried rice. Today, I fancy adding some heat to my usual baked cauliflowers, so I use my all time favourite spicy sauce – Gochujan miso sauce as a marinade. The result is out of this world (yes, if you love spicy umami food!)! Of course this delicious creation has to go on top of steamy hot rice, well, if you are not a fan of rice, any other grains such as quinoa, millet, or even polenta would go really well with it.

To make this rice bowl much healthier and more appealing, I chose a few other toppings to compliment the fiery hot cauliflower: avocado gives the dish a creamy texture, the quick pickled cucumber and carrot help cooling down the heat; small leafy green salad gives crunchiness and the pomegranate seeds give a sweet and tangy flavour, a squeeze of lime juice just before serving ties all the flavours together. All in all a bowl of goodness which is full of deliciousness and exciting textures to satisfy your taste buds and ‘mouth feel’, what more could one possibly want?

Note: make an extra portion of the spicy marinade for drizzling on top of the finishing bowl will give the whole dish a much deeper flavour. Highly recommended!

Roasted Gochujang Cauliflowers Rice Bowl recipeRoasted Gochujang Cauliflowers Rice Bowl recipe

Ingredients:

Serves 4

  • 500g cauliflowers, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 4 tbsp. pomegranate seeds
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach (or other salad of your choice)
  • Cress, for garnish
  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • Steamed rice for serving (or other grain of your choice)

For the cauliflowers marinade: (make one more portion for serving)

  • 2 tbsp. Gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 2 tsp. Miso paste (I use brown rice miso)
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 1 tsp. agave syrup
  • a squeeze of lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. water (plus more if needed)

For the quick pickled vegetables:

  • 1 small cucumber, deseeded and julienned
  • 1 medium carrot, julienned
  • 2 tbsp. brown rice vinegar (or usual rice vinegar, apple cider will work too)
  • 1 tsp. agave syrup
  • a few pinches of sea salt

Preheat oven at 200 degree celsius.

In a small bowl, combine all marinade ingredients and mixed well. It should make plenty of sauce, you might not need to use it all up for the roasting part. The remaining sauce can be use for serving.

Transfer cauliflowers on a roasting tray and make sure they are not too crowded. Pour the marinade on the cauliflowers and mix and coat them as much as possible with the marinade. A couple of spoonfuls of marinade at a time. Reserve the remaining sauce for serving.

Bake the cauliflowers in the preheat oven for about 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven, keep them warm and set aside.

While the cauliflowers are baking, make the pickle by first combine the vinegar and syrup in a bowl. Then add salt and vinegar mixture to the julienned vegetables. Mix well and set aside (turn the veggies a couple of times to make sure all has contact with the sauce).

To assemble the bowls: arrange cauliflowers, avocado, pickled veggies, baby spinach, pomegranate seeds and cress on top of the steamy hot rice. A squeeze of lime juice just before serving. Drizzle a spoonful of the spicy sauce to the bowl to get a little extra spicy kick!

Serve immediately!

Roasted Gochujang Cauliflowers Rice Bowl recipe

 

 

Ginger Spring Onion Ramen with Crispy Tofu recipe

Ramen with My Favorite Ginger Dressing and Crispy Tamari Tofu

This ginger and spring onion dressing is one of the best dressings you can possibly have on your dinning table, it also works great as a dip. It brightens up and goes super well with nearly everything: meat, vegetables, fish, in rice porridge, fried rice, noodles and the list goes on. I find the sauce tastes the best right after it is made but it also keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days (only if it will last that long!). But like most of the leftover food, expect it will lose its bright green colour and ‘fresh’ taste after a day or two. Therefore, I recommend to make the dressing fresh every time.

I find today’s recipe a bit Zen-like, it is almost like temple food, very simple yet delicious meal which is ideal for a busy weekday when all you want is something light and takes very little time to make. Of course you can add all sorts of pickles such as kimchi to ‘spice’ it up, or pickled radish to give it a little bit of tanginess. Or if not vegan, a soft boiled egg will also make a nice addition. But I prefer it as is to allow the ginger spring onion dressing to ‘shine’.

Ingredients:

(serves 2)

  • 300g firm Tofu (preferable organic and non GMO)
  • 2-3 tbsp. corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • vegetable oil (for frying)
  • 2 potions of dried ramen (I use brown rice ramen)

For the ginger dressing:

  • 1 thumb size ginger, peeled and grated, about 1 tbsp.
  • 1 bunch spring onion (about 4 sprigs), trimmed and finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp. neutral vegetable oil (not olive oil)
  • A pinch of salt

For the Tamari dressing: (for Tofu)

  • 40ml tamari or 50ml regular soy sauce
  • 50ml mirin
  • 1 3cm square kombu seaweed, wipe clean
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup (or honey)

Simmer mirin in a small sauce pan for about a minute and remove from heat, add tamari (or soy sauce) and kombu and maple syrup, mix well and set aside.

To make the ginger spring onion dressing: heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan until very hot. Very carefully add the grated ginger and chopped spring onion into the hot oil. Use a spatular to spread the vegetable evenly into the oil, remove from heat immediately (we only want to take the raw edge of the veggies instead of cooking them) and add the salt, mix again and set aside.

Drain tofu on a kitchen towel, slice and gently squeeze out as much excess water as possible. Cut the tofu into (bit size) cubes.

Place corn starch and garlic powder on a plate, mix well. Add tofu, make sure they are coated with the starch/garlic mixture evenly.

Warm a splash of vegetable oil in a frying pan (or wok) and add tofu, fry until all sides are crispy and golden brown (you might need to cook them in batches). Transfer them onto a plate lined with kitchen paper. When finish, remove the paper towel and drizzle a couple of tablespoons of the tamari dressing on the tofu,  keep warm and set aside while you cook the ramen.

Cook the ramen as per package instruction, drain and transfer ramen into two warm bowls. Add ginger spring onion dressing generously in the hot ramen, mix well and topped with crispy tofu and drizzle the remaining tamari dressing just before serving if desire.

Ginger Spring Onion Ramen with Crispy Tofu recipe

 

 

Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Spring Onions recipe

Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Spring Onions

My mother used to make this dish at least once a week when we were kids, as fresh fish and seafood are abundance in Macau’s market. Majority of the fishes and shellfish for sale in the market live in large tanks or buckets of water with plastic tubes pumping in oxygen for the day. Once you decided which one to buy, the fishmonger will scale and clean the fish for you right there and then.

With such fresh ingredient, it is best to cook it in the most simple way possible, to allow the freshest taste shines. In this case, steamed with ginger and spring onion – the most popular allium/herb/spice mix in Chinese cuisine. The fragrance of the ginger and spring onions infuses the slightly sweet flesh of the fish beautifully. There is a special step to take after the fish came out of the steamer – just before serving, pour hot oil onto the fish and fresh sliced spring onions, then drizzle sweet soy sauce all over. I learned this method from my mother and it will always be the way for me to finish off this dish. The sizzling oil not only takes the raw edge off the allium, which adds wonderful flavour to every mouthful; but also provides the steamed fish an extra ‘kick’ on the taste and a foundation for a good tasty sauce. Of course, it is up to you to take this additional step, it is also fine to just drizzle soy sauce on the cooked fish if time not allows. Although I highly recommend you not to skip it if possible.

Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Spring Onions recipe
Ingredients:

Serves 2 or 3 as part of a larger meal

  • 1 whole sea bass (about 600g)
  • 1 thumb side ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 4 sprigs of spring onion, cut into 7cm batons and then thinly slice lengthwise
  • A pinch of salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

For the sauce:

  • 2.5 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. tamari or regular soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. agave syrup

To serve:

  • Steamed Jasmine rice

To prepare the sweet soy sauce, combine tamari (or regular soy sauce) and agave syrup in a small jug and set aside.

Lay the fish (whole or cut in parts to fit like I did) in a steamer lined with baking paper. Scatter sliced ginger and half of the spring onion on top of the fish, sprinkle a pinch of sea salt and a couple of turns of black pepper. Finally, drizzle the vegetable oil.

Steam the fish for about 10 minutes (without opening the lid at all before then). Then remove from heat. Transfer the fish on a warm serving platter (you can keep the liquid that came out after steaming, but I didn’t), scatter the other half of sliced spring onion on top.

Warm 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a sauce pan or pan. When it’s hot, very carefully pour the oil over the fish and onions (be careful as it will sizzle!) and then drizzle the sweet soy sauce on top.

Served immediately with steamy jasmine rice.

Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Spring Onions recipe

Spicy King Oyster Mushroom and Green Bean Stir-Fry recipe

Spicy King Oyster Mushroom and Green Bean Stir-Fry

It’s been a good while since I last published a recipe here, sorry I have been absent lately but I am finally back on my writing track and I am looking forward to sharing with you more of my beloved recipes!

Today recipe is a simple one, with good time management, you can put this dish together from scratch in just under 15 minutes. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Like any other stir fry dishes, it is best to have all ingredients prepared beforehand so that once you start adding your first drop of oil in the hot pan, you will finish the entire dish in merely minutes. Another key point is to act fast and use the right equipment, I always recommend to use a wok for any stir-fry dishes, but a wide heavy bottomed frying pan will do a good job too. Be flexible with the ingredients, you can use any types of mushroom you like or available, such as fresh shiitake, oyster mushroom, chestnut mushroom or a combination of all. But I love the texture of king oyster, therefore, it is what I use in this recipe. Likewise with the green bean, broccoli or any other leafy green would work just as well.

The only thing I would ask you to follow through is the recipe for the sauce, a combination of dark miso (I used brown rice miso) , sambal oelek and rice vinegar is the key to this rich, umami, spicy and tangy sauce. Just before serving, drizzle a little bit of toasted sesame oil to enrich the whole dish. Served with steamy jasmine rice is a must, as the rice soaked up this delicious velvety sauce, makes every bite a delight to your taste buds.

Spicy King Oyster Mushroom and Green Bean Stir-Fry recipe

Ingredients:

(serves 2 generously, or 4 as part of a bigger meal)

  • 150g green bean, top trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
  • 160g king oyster mushroom, brush cleaned and sliced
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 small piece of ginger, peeled and julienned
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 125 ml dash stock (or water if vegetarian)
  • 1 sprig of spring onion, finely sliced (for garnish)
  • Sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. corn starch
  • 2 tsp. water
  • Steamed Jasmine rice for serving

For the sauce:

  • 1 heaped tsp. brown rice miso (or red miso)
  • 1 heaped tsp. sambal oelek
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp. Mirin
  • 1/2 tsp. black sugar (or brown sugar or honey)

If you are serving it with steamed Jasmine rice, you should cook your rice now.

In a sauce pan, bring to boil some salted water and add green bean, cook for 3 minutes, drain and set aide.

While the beans are poaching, combine all sauce ingredients into a small bowl and mix well, set aside.

Make the corn starch slurry by combining the starch with the water in a small bowl or saucer, set aside.

Warm a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok or heavy bottomed frying pan, add ginger and onions. Fry for about 3-4 minutes until onions start to soften. Next add mushroom along with a  drizzle of sesame oil. Stir-fry until mushroom turns slightly brown and crispy on the edges, add a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Fry for another minute.

Turn the heat down to medium high, add green beans to the wok followed by two tablespoons of the spicy sauce, stir-fry until all vegetables are coated with the sauce. Carefully add the dashi stock (or water) and let everything simmer for about 2 minutes. Have a taste, you can adjust the seasoning by adding more of the spicy sauce if needed (although I found it quite satisfactory with just the two tablespoons of sauce). When you are happy with the taste, add the starch slurry to the wok and keep stirring so the sauce won’t turn lumpy. Once the sauce thicken a bit, remove the wok from heat, drizzle a little sesame oil and add in the chopped spring onions.

You can either transfer the vegetables to a warm serving platter or just simply ladle the vegetables and sauce over bowls of steamy pillowy jasmine rice. Serve immediately.

Spicy King Oyster Mushroom and Green Bean Stir-Fry recipe

Chili Prawn Chow Mein (Stir-Fried Noodles) recipe

Chilli Prawn Chow Mein (Stir-Fried Noodles)

Chow Mein literally translates to ‘Fry Noodles’ and it is one of the most popular types of food in Southeast China, in fact, in most southeast Asian countries. Different country or even different region has its own style and flavour. Some use wheat noodles (most common) and some use rice noodle. Thick noodles, thin noodles, crispy or saucy, with meat or vegetarian, spicy or umami. It is amazingly versatile that one can make up one’s own version easily, and guarantee with big flavour. The key is to prepare all ingredients before the actual cooking, because once you start cooking, it will take merely minutes to finish.

The best equipment to use is steel wok or cast iron wok, because it keeps the heat well within so the food will be cooked evenly and deliciously in a short period of time. I don’t have neither but a non-stick wok works fine as well. Remember to keep the stove on high/medium high at all time, so you will need to pay attention while you are cooking to make sure nothing is burnt.

In this recipe, I suggest to cook some of the Pak Choi (in halves) separately, and serve them on the side, it is because a crunchy piece of Pak Choi is not only a delight to bite into, it also gives the whole dish a little more texture. But if you want to save time and don’t bother with the extra step, it is absolutely fine to slice all the Pak Choi in one go.

The Chinese sausage definitely adds in extra umami and texture to the dish, but omit it if you want to keep it meat free.

Chili Prawn Chow Mein (Stir-Fried Noodles) recipe Chili Prawn Chow Mein (Stir-Fried Noodles) recipe

Ingredients:

serves 2 generously with leftover (or for 3)

  • 220g noodles (I use gluten free spaghetti)(or any Chinese egg noodles for stir fry)
  • 250g black tiger prawn, preferable wild caught, peeled and deveined
  • 1 Chinese wind-dried sausage, chopped (crosswise) into small disks
  • 300g mini Pak Choi, separated – halved 3-4 heads and roughly slice the rest
  • 1 small carrot, julienned
  • 1-2 stalked spring onions, chopped
  • 1.5 Tbsp. fermented chilli bean sauce (Asian store)
  • 1 Tbsp. tamari (or regular soy sauce), plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp. dark soy sauce (optional)
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil (plus more)

Cook the noodles according to package instruction, drained and add a splash of sesame oil to prevent them from sticking, keep warm and set aside.

Combine the chilli bean sauce and tamari in a small bowl, mixed well.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a wok, or heavy-bottomed frying pan, add Pak Choi (the halved ones) in the hot pan, cut side down. Pan fry for a minute or 2 or until the vegetable charred and started to get translucent. Transfer the Pak Choi onto a plate and set aside.

Add another 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil in the same wok, add Chinese sausages and fry for a minute or so or until they are crispy and released most of their oil. Transfer the sausages to a bowl with a slotted spoon and leave the oil in the wok.

Place the wok back on the heat and add the carrot and the sliced Pak Choi and stir-fry them for 1 minute, add a small pinch of salt and transfer them to a separate plate and set aside.

No need to wash the wok, add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil into the wok, when hot, add the spring onion and let them sizzle for about 30 seconds. Add the prawns and fry until they are slightly opaque. Now add 3/4 of chilli bean/tamari blend, stir until all prawns are coated with the sauce. Add noodles next, use a tong or chopsticks and a spatula (I use the latter) constantly stir and toss the noodles so that they are also combined well with the sauce. Add the dark soy sauce if use, stir again. Return the carrot and Pak Choi mix to the wok and then the the rest of the chilli bean sauce blend. Again, constantly stir-fry until everything is sizzling and combine well. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Remove the wok from heat and divide the noodles into warm bowls and served with the pan-fried Pak Choi (the halved ones).

Chili Prawn Chow Mein (Stir-Fried Noodles) recipe

Sweet Potato Fries with Thai Mango Curry Dip recipe

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Thai Mango Curry Dip

Sorry for being absent for the last two weeks. I was busy working on a photoshoot for Ajinomoto Germany’s new marketing campaign. The photoshoot took place exactly a week ago but there were much preparation leading up to the actual shoot. A lot of hard work but it was so much fun at the same time. I can’t wait to tell you more and show you some pictures (I have been showing few on my Instagram account). Anyway, there are still follow-up work to do but I am delighted to be able to write up a simple yet absolutely delicious recipe with you this week.

This Thai mango curry dip was one of the recipes which I created for the latest Ajinomoto’s campaign. This sauce/dip is so versatile, you can use it for many different dishes: sweet potato fries (like this recipe here), grilled chicken or prawn skewers, spring rolls or gyoza which I have done for the photoshoot. It consists of only 5 ingredients, so easy to make, it is rich, spicy, umami. Try to find good quality coconut cream to make the dip as it will thicken nicely while cooling down. I have made this many times and it worked well every time. I have to say though, I have so far only made the dip in small potion (for 3-4 serving max), but I will work on a larger potion and will keep you posted. But the recipe below is perfect for 2 people.

Sweet Potato Fries with Thai Mango Curry Dip recipe Sweet Potato Fries with Thai Mango Curry Dip recipe Sweet Potato Fries with Thai Mango Curry Dip recipeSweet Potato Fries with Thai Mango Curry Dip recipe

Ingredients:

serves 2 as a side

For the sweet potato fries:

  • 1 (around 360g) medium sweet potato, scrub cleaned
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, removed the top, end and peel off the first layer, finely chopped (optional)
  • 5 tbsp. coconut cream (I just scoop out the coconut cream from a can of coconut milk)
  • 1 tbsp. Thai Masaman curry paste (or red curry paste)
  • Vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 200 degree celsius. Use a sharp knife, cut the sweet potato lengthwise in half. Cut crosswise in the middle of each half. Then slice and cut the potato into batons.

In a bowl, combine sweet potato, cornstarch, paprika, salt and pepper and mix well, make sure all potato batons are coated with the cornstarch and seasoning. Drizzle the oil on the potato and mix it well one more time. Transfer the sweet potato onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Make sure they are not touching each other.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then flip them once and bake for another 5 minutes.

While the potato is baking, make the curry dip. Warm a little oil in a skillet, add onion and sautéed in medium low heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in lemongrass, fry for a further 1 minute or until fragrant. Add coconut cream and curry paste, use a spatula to combine everything very well and make sure all curry paste has dissolved into the coconut cream. Let it simmer (on low) for about 5 minutes. Stir often. Add mango chutney and simmer for another 1 minute. Remove from heat and transfer the sauce on a small saucer. The dip will thicken slightly as it cools down.

Dip away and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Fries with Thai Mango Curry Dip recipe

Kimchi Miso Soup, Asparagus, Mushroom, Black Bean Noodle recipe

Kimchi Miso Soup with Asparagus, Mushroom and Black Bean Noodles

One of my absolute favourite noodle soups of all time, it has all the right tastes a bowl of noodle soup should have, it’s spicy, tangy and rich in umami. Apart from the taste, what I also like about this soup is you can literally use any vegetables you like (a great way to use up all the ends of vegetables in your fridge), or if you prefer it meaty, add cooked chicken or roasted beef etc.

I was recommended to this black bean noodle when I was searching for other gluten free noodle options. I really like its taste and it has a bit of a springy texture and it is almost impossible to over cook it, made with black soy bean, these noodles is also packed full of protein and fibre. But again, if gluten is not a problem for you, you can substitute it with any other types of noodle you prefer (you can even use spaghetti if that’s what you have) . As long as you make the soup base right, any ingredients you add in the soup will make a wonderful meal! It is also easy to be made vegan, just skip the dashi stock and use water or vegetable stock instead. And make sure the kimchi you use is also vegan.

Kimchi Miso Soup with Asparagus, Mushroom and Black Bean Noodle recipe Kimchi Miso Soup with Asparagus, Mushroom and Black Bean Noodle recipe Kimchi Miso Soup with Asparagus, Mushroom and Black Bean Noodle recipe

Ingredients:

Serves 2 generously

  • 200g mixed mushrooms (I use Shimeji and Enoki)
  • 200g Asparagus, snap off the woody ends and slice lengthwise
  • 100g Black bean noodles (or rice noodle or ramen)
  • 1 cup (250ml) kimchi and its juice (I use half and half here)
  • 750ml Dashi stock (or water or vegetable stock if vegan)
  • 1 tbsp. Miso paste
  • Tamari (or regular soy sauce) to taste
  • Toastes sesame oil

Cook noodle according to package instruction, drain, keep warm and set aside.

Bring dashi stock to boil, add kimchi (and juice) and miso paste, season with tamari if needed.

Add the asparagus into the simmering soup and cook for about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for further one minute. Remove from heat.

Transfer noodles to two warm ramen bowls (or larger soup bowls), ladle the soup and vegetables on the noodles and drizzle some sesame oil on top, serve immediately.

Kimchi Miso Soup with Asparagus, Mushroom and Black Bean Noodle recipe

Mung Bean Pancakes with Spring Vegetables recipe

Mung Bean Pancakes with Spring Vegetables

This spring vegetable pancake is inspired by one of my favourite Korean dishes – Bindaetteok, which is usually made with pork and kimchi. I used to eat Bindaetteok a lot when I lived in London, with my Korean friends in my favourite Korean restaurant on Tottenham Court Road. A bottle of Shoju (Korean version of Sake) and an endless supply of Bindartteok, together with a bowl of hot kimchi tofu stew, it was one of the most enjoyable times in my student life.

I forgot how much I love this type of pancake until I had it again on Chinese New Year evening, my family and I went to a Korean restaurant in the neighbourhood and they offered pancakes to us as a complimentary snack for our drinks. The girl who served us said that no Korean will be drinking without these pancakes on the side. We were of course happy to accept her offer and those pancakes were delicious.

I have been thinking of making these pancakes at home for a while, and finally, I have made it and I am thrilled to share the recipe with you. I made this recipe without kimchi and meat as I would prefer to taste the full flavour of the spring vegetables that I put in. When the vegetables are caramelised, the natural sweetness and smoky flavours go brilliantly well with the tamari dipping sauce. Don’t skip the lime juice, it gives a wonderful tangy taste to the pancakes.

Note: Don’t be too specific about the amount of vegetables, you can use any vegetables you like (or use up any bits of vegetable you have in the fridge) and any amounts of combination you like.  You can also add thinly cut meat into the mixture. I prefer the pancakes a bit chunky and packed with vegetables, but you can use less vegetables to make more doughy pancakes.

Mung Bean Pancakes with Spring Vegetables recipe Mung Bean Pancakes with Spring Vegetables recipe Mung Bean Pancakes with Spring Vegetables recipe Mung Bean Pancakes with Spring Vegetables recipe

Ingredients

Makes 5-6 pancakes

For the ‘batter’

  • 1 cup dried hulled mung beans
  • 1/4 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 120ml + 180ml water (separated)

For the dipping sauce:

  • 100ml tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • toasted sesame seeds

For the pancake

  • 200g green asparagus, finely sliced in an angle
  • 1 medium carrot. julienned
  • 3-4 stalks spring onion, finely sliced
  • 2 generous pinches of sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • vegetable oil
  • sesame oil

Wash and rinse dried mung beans a few times before covering them with clean water for at least 8 hours (or overnight).

Combine glutinous rice flour and 120ml water in a glass jar, cover and let it sit for at least 1 hours.

When ready to make the pancake, drain mung bean and rinse once with running water, drain again. Transfer them into a blender together with the glutinous rice flour water mixture and the extra 180ml water, blend on high until the mixture becomes smooth.

Combine vegetables, mung bean ‘batter’, salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl. Mix well and set aside.

Combine the dipping sauce ingredients into a bowl and mix well.

Warm a teaspoon of vegetable in a non-stick pan, ladle some vegetable/batter mixture into the pan and use a spatula to distribute into a pancake shape. Pan-fry on medium heat for 2 minutes on each side. After turned once (you will need two spatulas), press the pancake down to make sure it cooked evenly. Turn the pancake again after the 2 minutes and add 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil and fry the pancake for further one minute. Remove the pancake from the pan onto a plate lined with kitchen paper (to absorb the excess oil). Repeat until all the batter is cooked.

Cut pancakes into smaller pieces and sprinkle more toasted sesame seeds before serving. Served warm with the tamari lime dipping sauce.

Mung Bean Pancakes with Spring Vegetables recipe

 

 

Bacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew Recipe

Bacalhau Guisado – Portuguese Salt Cod Stew

For some reasons, this stew reminds me so much of home: Macau, my family and my childhood. From the moment the stew started bubbling on the stove, the distant but familiar aroma escaped from the pot, which I have known since I was a child; to every bite of this dish, the combination of the different tastes and textures were in fact something that I have been longing for – without knowing and unable to describe. But why am I telling you this? I know it probably might not be so relevant to you, but I am convinced that everyone has a dish/food that they once loved but somehow its existence has buried under their many other recent memories. For me, this salt cod stew is one of them, I love and enjoy every bite and every taste of this dish, it reminds me of the many trips our family made to our favourite Portuguese restaurant, where we enjoyed its food immensely. Because of this, Portuguese food became part of our family food culture, it was just as important as Chinese food in our family. But somehow I have forgotten many of these delectable Portuguese dishes since I moved away from home.

I made this stew twice in the last two weeks, not only because I needed to perfect the recipe for this blog post, but also I couldn’t shake off the feeling of traveling back to my childhood while eating this dish. Well, I think I have much need to plan a trip back home very soon as I reckon this is part of the syndrome of homesickness.

Notes:

Apart from planning 24 hours ahead to desalinate the bacalhau, and preparing the other ingredients for the stew, there is hardly any active cooking involved. If you aren’t sure about the level of saltiness of the bacalhau and whether it is ready to go into the stew after the requested timeline, just cut a small piece and cook it in boiling water for a couple of minutes, and have a taste. It should be slightly on the salty side but not overwhelming.

You can use fresh cod instead if you can’t find Bacalhau, although it won’t taste the same but it will still be delicious! One thing though, please reduce the cooking time to 45 minutes. (A friend has made this recipe with fresh cod and he liked it a lot and has recommended to his friends as well)

It sounds like there is much of olive oil going into the dish, but it helps bringing all the flavours of the ingredients together and trust me, the finish dish doesn’t taste oily at all!

I love serving this stew with steamed rice but it is commonly served with warm crusty bread.

Do not skip the fresh coriander, sprinkle it generously on your portion, it really brightens up the rich and wholesome flavour of the stew.

Bacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew RecipeBacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew RecipeBacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew Recipe Bacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew RecipeBacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew Recipe

Ingredients:

recipe adapted from ‘Taste of Macau’ cookbook by Annabel Jackson

Serves 4-6

  • 600g Bacalhao (salted cod)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced crosswise
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 400g Potato, peeled and sliced
  • 1 bell pepper (red, green or yellow), halved, ribs and seeds removed, sliced
  • 2 large ripped tomato, sliced crosswise
  • 80g black olives with stone (or pitted, preferable Spanish or Portuguese)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large bay leaf (or 2-3 small)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander (leaves and soft stems) roughly chopped

To prepare the bacalhau: the fish needs to be desalinated 24 hour before you want to make this stew, first rinse off the salt and submerge the fish in water, covered and leave it for 24 hours. Change water 3 to 4 times, or every few hours (it depends on the salted cod, some need less time about 12 hours). Drain the cod and pad dry with a tea towel or kitchen paper. Remove the skin and bone if there is any, tear with your hands or cut the cod into little bigger than bite size pieces (as fish will fall apart after cooking, so you don’t want to cut them too small). Set aside.

In a casserole, layer half of the onions, tomato, bell pepper, garlic, cod and olives, add the bay leaf then repeat the layering until all ingredients are in the casserole.

Add a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Pour in the water and drizzle all the olive oil evenly on the mixture.

Cover the casserole with a tight fitted lid, bring the content to boil and immediately turn the heat down to as low as possible, simmer gently for 1.5 hours. Keep the lid on at all time and just gently shake the casserole occasionally during cooking to make sure nothing stick to the bottom.

After 1.5 hours, remove the lid and stir once to combine the sauce with everything else together, check the seasoning. Add salt if needed (very unlikely you will need to).

Serve the stew with generous amount of sauce in a warm plate and sprinkle freshly chopped coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with slices of warm crusty bread to soak up all the lovely flavours.

Bacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew Recipe