Monday, August 28, 2006

National Dish If there was One!

Sunday i had this. absolutely gorgeous innit? chilli crab for lunch. Such a luxury. Did I say my mum is a genius cook as well? But yes. The flavour was perfect, not like the starchy versions you find at some seafood stalls. The only problem was that the crab shrivelled up in its shell after being cooked. So i wonder how to select crabs? short from buying those that require a mortgage, we usually buy the medium priced ones. sometimes i have luck. other times, like this past sunday, they turned out to be water crabs, i.e. full of water that melts into the cookpot. I'm pretty certain there's some kind of skill to this selection process, and i'm super determined to figure it out! I'm such a crab fan, the complicatedness of crabmeat extraction cannot deter me from the sweet delicious flesh. Even allergies don't stop me. Just pop an antihistamine and i'm good to go!

Somehow, i like food in large family size quantities. Just feels so much better:D More lOve!

It has truly been a good weekend foodwise. And my extended eating weekend (just had steak, potatoes, salad, corn, chicken. very embarassing so no pictures) is ending right now! Tuesday morning will be marked by a 7 am run. I just had a steak and all sorts of accompaniments. I cook so often here, and with this new neighbour who's happy to eat with me at all times, i forsee some problems. Thank goodness S is happy to exercise with me too. hence, the 7am run. Hopefully it materialises.

Today i heard what has to be the most flattering compliment ever. I met a friend of mine who last semester was living in the same block as me, on the same level. But she was on the other wing at the far end. We got talking about our living arrangements this year, and i told her i was back in the same place. and she was like "ahh! my friends always tell me your food is very nice!" i was kinda puzzled coz i didnt know we had mutual friends. So i ask her who, and she told me, all her neighbours who used to smell all my cooking. They all knew who was in the kitchen then. hahha.I'm so touched, that people actually are impressed by my cooking just from the smell. Guess i hide my mistakes very well. I wish i knew all these girls, then i could have cooked for them. no need just to smell the cooking. poor things. But whoever said my cooking smells good. Thank you so very much!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

recipe: Dry Curried Prawns

Alrighty, so some friends have asked for the recipe for the dry curry prawns. Yes. I've been shamelessly making everyone read my new blog. Well. Its my baby! why not?? proud mother syndrome here obviously.

For 1 kilo of prawns

2 tablespoon - finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoon - finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon - finely chopped garlic
1 big handful - washed curry leaves, removed from stem
2 tablespoon - meat curry powder
1/2 tablespoon - salt (If using saltwater prawns, you can actually omit the salt.
or use half this quantity.
1 tablespoon - sugar

heat big pan, kwali, or if in a pinch, a big pot.

add oil, you'll need a little more oil than you feel comfortable with, i believe in old school, you need oil to bring out the flavour and fragrance of the spices in the curry. So for one kilo of prawns, about 4 tablespoons of oil, more if you feel like it.

once its smoking a little, add ginger, shallots and garlic, and stir around.

when fragrant, add curry leaves, and fry a little, stirring around.

Then add prawns. remember to keep heat high, you don't want the heat levels to drop too dramatically, else the cooking of the prawns will be uneven, especially since most people, like me, would use the prawns from the fridge. Overcooking will totally kill this dish.

When prawns are half cooked, i.e. prawns are half grey and half pink, toss in curry powder, salt and sugar. Stir ard.

Please don't cover the pot when you're cooking this. Too much steam will accumulate in the pot. The prawns will lack that glistening bright look.

When its done, pour onto a nice dish and serve :D

Ok. This question will definitely come up, and people are going to wonder if they can use shelled prawns. Sure thing, just make sure the prawns are drained well of water before cooking, and reduce the oil by 1 tblsp. and use half the salt and sugar. without the shells the prawns will absorb too much flavour. The idea is not to overwhelm the sweet prawn flavour.

that plastic stuff in plastic they call cheese

And thats a picture of the Half Sandwich i had for breakfast.

So i don't understand whats the deal with the processed cheese that we've been eating out here forever and ever. As a kid, that was all the cheese i knew, and i would think its still the same for lots of children out there. I know its not as nutritious as its supposed to be and try to avoid it, but sometimes its really easier, and cheaper of course. Some would say leave it out, but what is a ham and cheese sandwich wwithout cheese? I'll deal with the plastic.

Cheese here, is expensive, and its a hard thing to experiment with on a student budget. I like brie and camembert well enough, and american sliced white, chewy mozzerella on a tomato pizza, and fresh buffalo mozzerella in a good caprese. But at 6 bucks for a small yummy ball, you can imagine how it has been missing from my shopping list for quite some time.

Also, cheese eating is rather subjective to the nose. At home at my parent's there's been a wedge of roquefort sitting in a corner double wrapped in clingfilm for 4 months.

The only one who would eat it is the dog.

But.. there's too much salt in the cheese, so we've been holding off. It smells. I tried to eat it, several times, but it still smells, and the smell lingers, though for lovers of roquefort that would be a good thing i expect. and that little thing was like.. 12bucks. no one wants to eat it, but no one wants to throw it away.

I think in everyone's culture there is a smelly food item or two, but whether or not one can eat it, depends on what you've been brought up with. I mean, we eat tonnes of smelly things, durians, prawn crackers, fish crackers, dried fish and all other manner of dried salted seafood, chinchalok, belachan, just too name a few. In cambodia, i really liked prahoc, which is fermented fish.. the chunky type. looks like vomit. But i loved it. not because it looked like vomit doh... wish i brought some home...

So my point is, while half is acquired taste, some smells just register as inedibles. To me, lavander panna cotta is just wrong. tastes like underwear. nothing gross or kinky mind you, just that i used to scent my underwear drawers with lavender. so you can imagine my puzzlement when i ate a mouthful of that lovely dessert. It was beautiful, but i just was unable to disassociate the two. I've yet to try lavander flavoured anything else, though maybe its time to give it another shot.

and i better get back to my breakfast. class begins in an hour. today we learn about...infectious diseases and antibiotics. no i am not a medicine major.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What better start than a party post?

After two years of obsessively reading all manner of food blogs,(erm, it is really obsessive, 12 hour food blog reading marathons with all mannner of papers due. an embarassing addiction when at my age i should be handing in submissions late because of excessive partying. "no sir. I'm sorry sir, It's late because i have been busy this past week looking at pictures of food people make, and blogs of how these foods have been made.") i have finally decided to start my own food blog. I figure it would be a good use of my camera to take pictures of the food i make and eat. Also, this semester has started off on a really broke foot, so i have been cooking everyday and eating in. It cheaper and better than canteen food. And in Singapore, that is really saying something.

We're talking SGD$2.90 for a plate of rice and meat and veg, which is all really good you would think. But i think of the quality of food i am feeding myself, and i wonder if it is really worth getting fat for? Well, not really get fat, but is it even worth eating? so for the same amount of money, granted, the way i shop in the wet market, maybe a little more money, i eat much much better.

Last night, i cooked a little food party for a good friend. not too many people 'cause his landlady is a fusspot, so five people and some gorgeous food. We were good kids though, no alcohol. All the sin was in the form of chocolate. Like earlier mentioned, i was dirt broke, so it had to be cheap too, so no shark's fin or abalone, and buying in or dining out was out of the question. A little thinking and a visit to the wet market over the weekend conjured a menu for this monday night dinner.

Birthday boy requested a pork dish so of course i complied, and cooked a pork stir fry i adapted from the traditional soy, ginger, sesame versions i ate since i was a child. At my local wet market, the fishmonger has been bringing in cheap freshwater live prawns... i think the phraseology makes little sense. I mean, farmed freshwater prawns that were live when the fishmonger bought them, so the freshness is guaranteed. And it was ridiculously cheap, $10 for a kilo. Haaha, happy days. So the prawns made dish two. The planned flavours were going to be pretty rich, so dish number three had to be more complementary, and we were still short of vegetables. I needed something easy and quick, so stir-fried cauliflower and carrots was perfect. Another friend made chicken adobo, so there was plenty to go round.

Dry Fried Curry Prawns

Stir Fried Pork (i know. i am a little unimaginative. I'll try to come up with a more sophisticated name in future)

Duh... cauliflower and carrots

how does it look?

The dish topped with eggs was the chicken adobo, also extremely delicious, brought by another friend. on top of the spread, we had rice of course, and believe it or not.. we finished EVERYTHING! I was surprised. It was one boy, four girls, one of whom declared as resolutely as she could bring herself to sound before she tucked in. "OH NO! i'm MODEL! I am on a DIET!" she really is a photographic fashion model(dead gorgeous 19yr old from Poland. Birthday boy's housemate). But she ate as much as all of us. She felt so bad but it was all sooo crazy. The housekeeper came to ask for the recipe for the prawn.. Irony coz it was fried in a dry curry, and the housekeeper was an Indian lady. Haaha. (I find this funny because i am a SINGAPOREAN chinese girl.Geddit?)

Dessert was the #2 chocolate gelato from The Traveler's Lunchbox.

I've made this amazing dessert so many times since i found it. It never fails to amaze the people i serve it too. And is even more amazing during the exam period. Can't be a better destresser, i'm always mixing up a two quart batch before examtime to last me throughout. No picture though. i was too lazy to spoon it out nice. Well, with my right hand in a splint, it can be a little complicated. We ate it from the box, with the very very good cake. Some hazelnutty, absurdly chocolaty thingy, with crunch centre. From a very nice cake shop at a discount from a very nice friend's friend. Students only eat well on charity as u will see.

Just to let everyone know though. I'm chronically unable to follow recipes. So if people actually begin to read this blog, and want the recipe, i will try to figure it out. (using the opportunity to make the dish again of course. great excuse for some excesses. heehhee) Just send me an email.

And thaT is the end of my historic first post. I promise more will follow.