Tuesday, October 31, 2006
This was created together with the chili crab on Father's Day. It was a totally coincidental creation as the lobsters were selling really cheap at the market, about RM 50 (about USD 13.50) a kilogram, so I bought two of them (A bigger one and a smaller one, total cost about RM 75 (USD 20.30)). Again, a first-time attempt. The results were so-so, but okay for a first attempt. The taste is a combo of asian (curry leaves, ginger) and west (parmesan cheese, parsley), which can taste a bit weird for some people. My personal opinion is that it needs to be improved further haha...
Word of caution: Shelling the lobster is a bit tricky and you need a lot of strength to do it. What I did was I used a big Chinese chopper and hit it with a mortar's pestle to break the shell into two. Make sure you do this on a solid and hard surface so that you don't break it!
2 tbsp of butter
2 stalks of curry leaves
Chopped ginger and garlic
Chopped Italian parsley (added to parmesan cheese)
Shaved parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ tsp of brown sugar
1. Heat up oven (around 180C) .
2. Boil lobster and cut lobster into two (vertically), get the flesh out from the shell and slice into 1 inch cube.
3. Melt butter in pan, fry lobster meat together with curry leaves, ginger and garlic.
4. Add salt, pepper and sugar to the lobster.
5. Scoop lobster meat into the shell and top with parmesan cheese + parsley mixture and grill for 30 minutes.
After thought: This dish and the chili crab is a good example of "cooking heals love and relationship." These two dishes were specially created for Father's Day, all of us happily gathered at the dining table when the dishes were ready. My dad finished every single piece on the plates!
Monday, October 30, 2006
Okay, I have to admit this is not an original creation. The original recipe was from somewhere on the web, can't recall where it was from, but I altered the recipe a little bit here and there to make it simpler to cook for me. First time cooking chili crab, it was created on Father's Day this year (2006), together with grilled lobster (recipe follows later, time for bed now! It's 11 pm and drove 3.5 hours in the rain from my home town today) and some stir-fry watercress shoots. Picture not very good as it was taken using my Sony Ericsson k750i, my Canon EOS 350D has not arrived then.
Perhaps when I see fresh crabs in the market next time I will recreate (or improve on) the recipe. I used blue swimmer crabs but I guess it will taste better with fresh mud crabs.
First time cooking chili crab was not too bad, tasted quite yummy actually. If you like more gravy, you can add in slightly more water into (B).
3 fresh red chilies, deseeded
5 dry chilies, deseeded and soaked for about 30 minutes
5 cloves of garlic
2 cm cube of belacan (prawn paste)
Juice of 3 kalamansi (kasturi) lime
1/2 cup of tomato ketchup
1/2 tsp of sugar (or to taste)
1/2 tsp of salt (or to taste)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup of water
Crabs & etc.
3 fresh crabs, clean and cut
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 tbsp of groundnut oil (or any cooking oil, except olive oil - taste a bit too strong)
1. Blend all ingredients in (A) using a blender or food processor, leave aside. Mix (B) in a separate bowl.
2. Put groundnut oil into hot wok, when oil is hot, add garlic and fry till fragrant.
3. Add the blended sauce mixture (A), fry for about 1 minute then add crabs and fry for about 2 - 3 minutes, then add (B).
4. Close wok with cover and turn the flame down to cook for about 5 minutes or until crab meat turns from translucent to white.
5. Serve hot with white rice.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
This dish was created for the same meal together with the Table Water crackers appetizer, as the main dish. It's actually quite a weird combo, Western appetizer but Chinese main course. Anyway, the main reason for making this and the appetizer was to shoot them, eating is just the reward after that! ;)
Ingredients (serves 2 persons):
Two chicken thigh, chopped into small pieces (Ask the chicken vendor to skin the thigh and chop it up into small size for you, save you lots of trouble. You can also use chicken breast if you prefer. For chicken breast, it will taste better if you slice it thinly.)
1 stalk of leek (organic preferably, tastes sweeter)
1 piece of young ginger (older ginger tends to be more overpowering)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
2 tbsp of peanut oil
1 tsp of sesame oil
1/2 cup of organic basmati rice + 1 cup of water for cooking rice (adjust the water level accordingly, if you want it softer or harder)
Spring onions and coriander leaves for garnishing
For marinate (A):
1 tbsp of light soya sauce
pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
For gravy (B):
1 tbsp of light soya sauce
1 tsp of dark soya sauce
1/2 tsp of corn flour
1/2 cup of water
Sea salt, ground black pepper to taste. (If you like it slightly sweet, you can put in about 1/4 tsp of raw cane sugar. In my case, I used organic raw cane sugar)
1. Marinate chicken thigh with (A). Leave aside for about 30 mins. Cook rice.
2. Clean (leek has hidden dirt between the base of the leaves) and cut leek in slanting direction, about 1 cm thick.
3. Slice ginger thinly.
4. Thinly shred spring onion (lengthwise of about 3 cm) for garnishing later. If you want the spring onion to have a "curling" effects, soak the shredded spring onion in water for about 20-30 minutes.
5. Heat up wok/pan, add peanut oil and sesame oil. When oil is hot, add chopped garlic and sliced ginger until you smell a savoury aroma.
6. Add the marinated chicken into the wok, fry and close the wok with lid (chicken gets cooked faster this way) for about 3 minutes, then add leek, leave in the wok closed for another 2 minutes or so. Remember to turn down the flame to small or it will get burnt really fast!
7. Mix all ingredients in (B) evenly in a small bowl and pour into the wok. Fry for another 2 minutes and dish out.
8. Serve on hot organic basmati rice in a Japanese wide bowl and garnish with shredded spring onion and coriander leaves (see picture) and bon appétit!
Note: You can basically use any type of rice but I find organic basmati rice tastes the best. Also tastes good with Japanese sushi rice. It's best to mix the rice with the gravy before eating so that the flavour of the gravy absorbs well into the rice.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Front: Carrot and cucumber dressed with yogurt and mayoinaise with green olives on table water crackers
Back: Smoked salmon, avocado, organic cherry tomato and creme fraiche on table water crackers
Woke up on Thursday (October 26, 2006) and I had this inclination of making some finger food appetizers using Table Water crackers. Kept seeing round mini-sized finger food around and thought I just have to satisfy my desires or else I won't be able to sleep over it.
So I sms-ed a friend if she wanted to come over to join me for dinner. (See, this is what I call "cooking heals loneliness" :-)). I was alone at home, no one to have dinner with, but dying to photograph some of these mini appetizers. So what the heck.
Ingredient hunting was a pain. Went to Village Grocer in Bangsar Village initially. Headed straight to the chiller to check for Creme Fraiche. Expiry date mid November 2006. Okay, definitely wouldn't be able to finish up by then. Decided to buy it at Cold Storage in Bangsar Shopping Complex, probably have later expiry date.
Next, no smoked salmon!!!!!!!!! That was horrifying! The whole intention to make it was with smoked salmon on creme fraiche! So I bought other things and headed straight to Cold Storage.
"Sorry ma'am, we ran out of stock for smoked salmon."
What????? What is wrong with all the supermarkets today? Thank goodness there was still one last resort, Mr. Ho's Fine Foods. Got it there. Phew!
Here's goes the recipe:
Smoked salmon, avocado, organic cherry tomato and Crème fraîche on table water crackers
Table Water Crackers
Crème fraîche (A slightly tangy, slightly nutty, thickened cream, originally from France. You can find them near the butter or cheese section in the supermarket)
3 pitted green olives
1/2 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
Cherry tomatoes, cut into 4 pieces lengthwise (oval shape, and organic ones taste a lot better)
Dill leaves for garnishing
1. Spread about 1 tsp of Crème fraîche on Table Water Cracker.
2. Add smoked salmon (about the size of table water cracker, you can fold a bigger piece if you prefer more).
3. Arrange sliced avocado on the smoked salmon and top with cherry tomato, green olive rings; and garnish with dill.
4. Serve immediately before crackers get soggy.
Carrot and cucumber dressed with yogurt and mayoinaise with green olives on table water crackers
1/2 stick carrot (cut lengthwise)
1/2 cucumber (cut lengthwise)
Plain unsweetened yogurt (2 tablespoons)
Mayoinnaise (1 tablespoon)
3 Pitted green olives, cut into rings
Finely chopped Italian parsley (1 sprig)
Italian parsley for garnishing
1. Using skin peeler, peel carrot and deseeded cucumber into 6 long thin strips each.
2. Steam the carrot strips for 5 minutes, set aside to cool.
3. Dice the remaining carrot and cucumber into about 3 mm squares.
4. Mix yogurt and mayoinnaise into diced carrot and cucumber, leave in refrigerator to cool for 15 mins.
5. Arrange carrot and cucumber strips in circle on Table Water crackers. Fill the center with the mixture from (4.) and garnish with green olive rings and italian parsley.
6. Serve immediately before crackers get soggy.
Now some of you may say, you don't need a blog to document the recipes, you just need some discipline to type them into your computer. Yes, you are right again. But, that alone is not strong enough to motivate me to do something about it.
So why then blog? Simple. Hopefully someone will read my posts and when they do, at least I know I am being watched, so I put in more caution and care into what I write and prepare. Simple as that, I need people to whip and push me to put things into action.
So what's next? Recipes, recipes and more recipes. Self-created recipes. Or inspired by other sources. Photos, photos, and more photos about what I created (and occasionally by others). Also not-so-often ramblings about my thoughts surrounding food and life around me.
Please forgive my grammatical and spelling errors if you come across any. Focus on the food and recipes instead! ;)
So watch me, as I slowly build up my little world of culinary arts...
Smoked salmon, avocado, organic cherry tomato and creme fraiche on table water crackers + Smoked salmon, avocado, organic cherry tomato and creme fraiche on table water crackers. Watercolour effects using Photoshop.
There're thousands of cooking blogs out there, so why mine? Just like the name of my blog, cooking is healing for me. If there's shopping therapy for most women, then on top of that, there's also cooking therapy for me.
Everyone knows that food has healing properties. If you eat the right food, you get to prevent diseases/ailments. But this blog doesn't just talk about eating right, it's about the action of cooking itself.
For me, cooking heals stress, cooking heals pain, cooking heals emotions and loneliness, cooking even heals relationships and love. And most importantly, cooking is a huge part of my life and soul.
Coming from a horticultural background during my undergraduate days, I have had intense interest in plants since I was a young kid. Ironically though, I do not have green fingers. Plants don't thrive when I try to grow them. But, I guess I am still of use, since I can make "dead" plants edible and look enticing to be eaten.
As far as I could remember, I started my adventure in cooking when I was 6 or 7. While other girls in my neighbourhood played chef using cookery toy sets, my toys were the smallest wok you could find, and burning small pieces of wood chips under the wok between two stacks of bricks, and oil, salt, and pieces of vegetables stolen from my mom's refrigerator. I would hide in the backyard and quietly finish my cooking while my parents were out or busy attending to something else.
However, my REAL cooking experience started when my father insisted I should take up home science (more like home economics to be precise) instead of the Commerce option when I entered secondary school. As much as I wanted to do Commerce for the sake of better "prospect", I am glad that I had to follow his order. Since then, I have not been separated from cooking and the art and love of food.
I wasn't a popular student in home science cooking classes as I always insisted to do something different as compared to my partner (two of us shared a cooking workstation). Every year, we had this thing called "Canteen Day" in school where the students would take over the canteen ladies job as we would prepare food to sell and collect money for contributing to the school. I remembered making sardine rolls and some other stuff every year. And when other kids did not get a chance to celebrate their birthday in a big way (I lived in a semi-rural town) , or had their parents organized their birthday parties for them; I had always organized and cooked the food for my birthday parties every year from 10 years old until I left my hometown 8 years later.
When I was studying in the university, my love for cooking and food never faded. Besides studying plants, I had deep interest in making food taste and look good. And thanks to health concerns, I've experimented with all sorts of diet, from "normal" to low-carb to vegetarian to vegan to raw vegan (yes, no animal protein or dairy, and all the rest were eaten raw). Well, let's not go into the boring details of my health problems.
I like to create art with food, making them look, feel and taste good. Cooking for me is a true combination of science and art. Knowing what you eat and what benefits/disadvantages your ingredients bring to you is not less important than making the food you cook look appetizing and taste good.
Stir-fry chicken with ginger and leek on organic basmati rice
With my current busy work schedule and hectic lifestyle (I'm a English-Malay-Chinese translator/interpreter and run a translation/interpreting agency), the art side of cooking naturally dominates over the science, as I no longer practise my horticultural knowledge except for knowing veggie/fruit names, choosing the right or ripe types and storing them properly. Well good enough I suppose. At least my knowledge is not dumped into waste. Oh, not forgetting I use it for my translation and interpreting work as well.
Regardless of how busy I was and am with work, I always find time to cook. The busier I am, the more I miss my cooking time. Hundreds of people have asked me, since I like cooking so much, why don't I have a career that has to do with cooking.
Well, I've always had the fear of losing my passion if I make cooking my full-time job. The analogy is like having a lover outside a proper marriage. You get married finally, enjoying the thrill of a new life together with someone. You have a good husband that brings back the bacon, pays the bills, takes care of your children's expenses, and satisfies your emotional and physical ;) needs occassionally.
But you need more than that. When marriage becomes a big part of your life, it becomes routine somehow. There're always kids to attend to, house chores to be done, and etc. etc. A married life no longer has its passion like it first began. This is the time you look for other excitement, something fun outside marriage ;) Same happens to cooking for me. I will rather keep it as a "lover" outside marriage than the other way round, so that I will always miss and look forward to that little excitement ;). Not that I am endorsing extramarital fun (Hey, I'm a loyal and faithful person!), just something I use to keep you reading my post hehe...
In this blog, I'm sharing my culinary journey and my recipes created wholeheartedly with passion and soul. As much as I can, I try to create recipes from scratch or come up with something after being inspired by a great chef, a special person, a delicious dish, a spectacular restaurant, a wonderful travel journey, or an inspiring cookbook/cooking show. As much as I've enjoyed creating the recipes, I hope you will be inspired and have fun with them, to come up with something of your own. And when you do, listen and see with your heart, and you will feel and understand the healing magic of cooking :)