Thursday, May 31, 2007

Exam Season

Sorry for the lack of posts!

It's my exam week, will be right back once its over on Monday.
On another note, the weather is finally starting to get sensible by next week, which is a good thing :)
Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

In the name of Cod

This is one of my favorite type of fish, simply because it's so versatile, with white flesh that flakes easily. You can steam, grill, pan fry and even deep fry it (for fish and chips) as is common in the UK. Back home in Malaysia, this fish is relatively expensive given that it's not local. So it's best to eat it at the region where it's freshest :)

In the UK, Atlantic cod is one of the most common kind of fish to be found in fish and chips, along with haddock and plaice. This time, I got 2 pieces of cod since I'm starting to miss the home style cooking a bit, hence the first was to steam it Cantonese style, with spring onions and LOADS of shredded ginger, with a table spoon of soy sauce and sesame oil ...

Perhaps slightly over steamed (should be done in 5 minutes) but still amazing nevertheless, especially with cravings satisfied :) Do remember to add a bit of sesame oil as it prevents the fish from sticking at the bottom of the metal plate.

Next up is another home favorite of mine, it's originally deep fried cod with caramelized onions and garlic topping. Since I can't be bothered to deep fry it and finished my corn flour stock, I decided to steam it again, but in a separate pan, heat up some oil and fry the onions and chopped garlic till super fragrant and brown. After adding a dash of light and dark soy sauce, simply just put it on top of the fish as a beautiful accompaniment. Best with deep fried fishes (or at least pan fry!), don't forget to brush your teeth afterwards though, the garlic breath should kill anything from miles away! :P

By the way, exams start tomorrow, fingers crossed, and hence the title of the post ... LOL Freedom in a week's time, and hope I survive through that with all the work -_-

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Chicken a la TGIF

Final installment of the Chicken series!

Let's try a new variant this time, on my (relatively) new grill pan. This is even faster but requires the chicken to be marinaded at least 3 hours before hand, better overnight. The marinade I put was rather spontaneous, with what I have really, so here goes.

Thinking of having something western a la TGIF, let's call this recipe that then, hehe. My attempt at the Jack Daniel sauce, LOL

Chicken a la TGIF


2-3 tbsp of brown sauce
2 tbsp of Hoi Sin (chinese plum sauce, slightly sweet but salty)
1 tbsp of Mirin (sweet Japanese wine, any sweet wine would do)
1 tbsp of olive oil


1 Chicken breast, sliced sideways to increase surface area ('butterfly')
Mixed vegetables (fresh or frozen, portions as desired)


1. First, mix all the marinade in a bowl, and pour over the chicken and coat well, refrigerate (at least 3 hours )
2. Get the grill pan hot, and you can oil it a bit before hand to prevent the chicken sticking to it
3. Put the chicken breast on the grill and spread evenly, reserve excess marinade
4. Meanwhile, prepare/cook/boil/microwave the frozen/fresh vegetables
5. Turn the chicken breast over after about 3 minutes on one side to prevent sticking/burning, should cook in about 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat
6. Meanwhile, add 1-2 tbsp to the reserved marinade, and microwave it to high heat till boiling
7. Pour the marinade on top of the chicken and serve with vege as side

Voila, there you go!

3 chicken breast, 4 different ways ... I've tried to vary it across cuisine and methods, using common ingredients in various ways. This is quite fun and perhaps might be of use to those who needs some ideas :)

I liked especially the charred looking lines the grill pan gave, but perhaps it might have been overdone :)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Chicken round 3! --- Chicken Curry

Craving for the spicy kick and outcome was this :) Chicken curry with onions, long beans, mushroom and carrots, simmered till soft and thick, best served with a half bitten toast! :D

Friday, May 18, 2007

Celebrity Chef in Cambridge

Nation's flamboyant celebrity chef is in town ...

Check it out!


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chicken Porridge

Having bought a pack of 3-4 chicken breast meat, I foresee that it'll be a series of "Chicken dishes in 101 ways" LOL :P Well, probably in 3-4 ways in this case...

Hence, following up from the previous Wagamama inspired dish, Ginger Chicken Noodle (Udon), this is the 2nd recipe using chicken breast that I'd last night ... Cantonese style porridge with shredded chicken. It's really simple to make really, especially if you have a slow cooker (rice cooker will do too).

In a rice pot, put 1 cup of rice (depending on how many you are cooking for, this is for 1-2 person) with 7-8 cups of water. Add Chinese mushrooms, ginger slices (optional) and anything else you want really. But to stick to the authentic version, you can add a big chunk of unsliced chicken meat (breast meat is used here) to cook. It takes about an hour or you can boil it until you reach your desired consistency. You can add some chicken stock cubes as well for taste.

Make sure it doesn't burn though! Yes, porridge can actually get burnt and still looks normal (i.e white with a sticky consistency). You know you've made a blunder when you start smelling a burnt smell from your porridge. So remember to keep an eye on it and slow down the fire once it's boiling! For those who are using pressure cookers, I think it should not be a problem. For me, I have a smart rice cooker with a porridge function, hence it takes about an hour where it automatically keeps warm after that.

After it's all done, take the piece of meat out and flake/shred it with a fork. Scoop some porridge in a bowl, top it up with some chopped spring onions, shredded chicken and ginger slices with sesame oil, if desired. Simple and comforting on a rainy evening... I've also added loads of deep fried shallots for the extra 'oomph' :)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Inspired by ...


Having been there twice since their branch opened in Cambridge, I think it's value for money especially IF you've the voucher. I'm never a fan of chained restaurants or establishments, but I think it's just that in Cambridge the restaurant scene could do with a bit more competition, and this was a welcomed addition :) A good challenge to the existing Asian noodle bar/Japanese restaurant here as well ...

Anyways, this is my version of their signature dish Ginger chicken Udon. Mine uses normal rather than pickled ginger, and 'mee suah' (fine wheat noodles with a smooth texture, used mainly in soup) instead of udon. Hence, in a way, it's really a Chinese version, rather than Japanese themed. Nevertheless, it was thumbs up! :D

All you need is ginger, chicken (I used breast meat here), spring onion and some shallots. I had some remaining shallots in oil which I lightly saute till crisp, then adding the chicken first, spring onions later to stir fry. Lastly, the boiled noodles were added, with a dash of light soy sauce and it's all done! Lightning 15 minutes from preparation till the end (washing up inclusive). I'm beginning to feel like I'm on Ready, Steady, Cook!

Hope everyone's happy revising and not in denial like me. It's exactly 2 weeks away and I've NEVER felt so clueless before my exam... doesn't look good, does it?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Selwyn's Economist Dinner

It's probably one of my favourite events of the year, to be able to dress up and hang out with a bunch of (geeky, I hear you say?) economist of my college in a nice formal, with plenty of catching up to do. The highlight would probably be the annual photo taking session, with and without props, so every year you've to do a bit of a head cracking to think of cool props and poses for the informal photos (yes, even with the supervisors!). So, it's the only chance to be silly, which is fun, as we all probably forgot what it's like with the mad terms passing us by ...

Dinner, was as usual, posh, with the freedom to influence choice over menu in advance (hehe), we manage to get the best starter in Selwyn formals - deep fried camembert on a bed of salad. Fried till perfection, not oily/greasy, crispy on the outside, creamy in the inside ... MmmMmm

Main course was duck breast with a smooth and thick brown gravy, simple and nice, despite not being a big fan of duck meat. This was accompanied by julienned carrots, steamed broccoli and good ol' roasted potatoes. Good combination of colors eh?

Dessert was up next with chocolate profiteroles ... Sadly it's not one of my favorite desserts by Selwyn (what ever happened to the cheesecakes!?). It was soft and chewy, nothing exciting, but nevertheless this didn't matter as the company was great, conversations were geeky (think economist jokes o_O) and wine and of course Port was free flowing all night long ... Found out that Selwyn Port is actually from Portugal too! No wonder it's top quality stuff, and managed to build up a good rapport with Selwyn's ever-so-strict head waiter Mr Antonio, with a few of the Portuguese greetings that I still remembered from the previous Porto trip. He is the one who famously shooed people out in the formal with his "GET OUT, GET OUTs" after a rowdy formal night of birthday song singing and table banging.

And of course, this was my prop for the day, 2 different sort of soft toy flowers. And no, I'm not gonna show you my photo in that. Just a little hint, I made it into a hairband/head band, so the rest is up to your imagination :P

Friday, May 04, 2007

Loh Mai Kai/Bah Zhang?!

Man, the weather has been gloomy all these week with a bit of a spring rain session, better hope it'll be back to good ol' sunny Cam soon!

Meanwhile, this is what I did a month ago (delayed due to a long post), to celebrate the completion of my dissertation. Suits well with my dim sum craving too :) I had a bag of glutinous rice, mushroom, dried prawns, and lap cheong (chinese sausages), which easily equals Loh Mai Kai (Glutinous Chicken Rice)! This is not difficult to make, it's just lengthy with more steps, so don't be afraid to try it out! Note that I've done it impromptu and the ingredients and recipe may be unconventional, but it still tastes authentic :)

Ok, so here's what you need (tentatively) :

5 chicken drumsticks, deboned and meat sliced into bite size, reserve bones
3 cups of glutinous rice, washed & drained
2 tbsp oil
some chinese mushrooms, soaked & sliced
1-2 chinese sausages, thinly sliced
2 1/2 tbsp fried shallots
A handful of dried prawns, soaked, reserve the 'dried prawns water'

Seasonings A
1/4 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp ginger juice
1/4 sesame oil
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 corn flour
A dash of white pepper

Seasonings B
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp five spice powder

Step-by-Step (Oh Baby! LOL Anyone recall New Kids on the Block? :P)

1. Season chicken slices with Seasonings A for 1 hour
2. Make chicken soup stock by adding the bones into a pot of water with the reserved 'dried prawns water, put to boil or slow cook for 1 hour
3.Heat the wok, and dry fry (i.e. without oil) the chinese sausages till fragant and crispy, set aside
4. Heat (sesame) oil in a wok, and fry the shallots till crispy
5. Add the chicken and Chinese mushrooms, stir fry for a minute or two
6. Add in the glutinous rice and Seasoning B, mix and continue stir frying
7. Finally, use a ladle and scoop some of the homemade chicken stock into the wok, allow rice mixture to boil till cook. Do adjust the amount of liquid carefully that is required for cooking the rice and not add a lot of water in one go!
8. Remember to add the Chinese sausages before you serve!

Here are some illustrative pictures for guidance:

Homemade chicken stock

Dry-frying the chinese sausages (lap cheong)

Soaked and sliced dried mushrooms and dried prawns

Stirfrying the dried prawns in the beginning

Stirfrying the well marinated chi
Adding in the rice to the mixture and mixing them well ...

Add the delicious chicken stock and put to boil ...

A HUGE batch of cooked loh mai kai !

Unfortunately, I added too much water hence the porridge-like consistency :S But nevertheless, the authentic taste is there. In effect, some of my friends said it tastes like Bah Zhang (chinese dumplings), which is probably true, given that the ingredients I've listed is actually more towards the making of the dumplings, LOL. I guess I just improvised what my mom makes at home and didn't know that Loh Mai Kai doesn't come with Chinese sausages!

Note that due to the lack of steaming tools, I did not resort to the original way of steaming the glutinous rice for this dish. Be careful about water estimation, as you've seen how my experience went! I'll definitely make it again, and this time, it'll hopefully be more authentic :D