Tuesday, February 28, 2006

When Ken met Kylie

Two popular TV chefs met in my kitchen last weekend. I was flipping through my cook books looking for inspiration and brainstorming for an appetiser/pre-dinner nibble for a friend’s dinner party last weekend when I came across Ken Hom’s Braised Fusion Mushroom with Herbs recipe. Having recalled that this dish is rather simple to put together and was well received, if I could use apply this recipe in a different manner. Thankful for cable TV and my borderline TV junkie behaviour, I decided to use Kylie Kwong’s mushroom tart hors d’oeuvre idea that I watched on TV a week or so ago. Ken and Kylie, two common household TV chef names, were then married in my kitchen to produce my Asian mushroom tarts.

Asian Mushroom Tarts
Serves 8

500 g shiitake
100 g oyster mushrooms
200 g enoki mushrooms
200g button mushrooms
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp coarsely chopped garlic
2 tsp salt
1 tsp five spice powder
4 Tbsp shao hsing wine
4 tsp light soy saue
2 tsp sugar
50ml double cream
3 chopped spring onions
Tart pastry cups

Slice the button mushrooms.

Heat oil in a wok. Add garlic and stir-fry for 15 seconds. Then add the salt and pepper and all the mushrooms with the mushroom liquid and stir-fry them for 2 minutes.

Add Shao Hsing, soy sauce and sugar and continue stir-frying for 5 minutes or until the mushroom liquid has been reabsorbed by the mushrooms or evaporated.

Give the mushrooms a few stirs, transfer to a plate.

Fill pastry cups with mushroom mixture, sprinkle with spring onions and serve at once.

Labels: ,

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cooking á la minute

Geylang Claypot Rice
659 Geylang Road, Lorong 33
Tel: 6744-4574
Opening hours: 5pm – 12am
(Closed on Monday)

(I apologise for the out of focus picture, it isn’t your eyes, it is my shaky hands and the lack of sidewalk light)

Packed to the brim with the tables lining the sidewalk and the back alley, this corner shop is the place for many claypot rice devotees. As I joined the many, I experienced that sitting on the sidewalk for dinner had its perils. The sidewalk pavement is rather narrow, so a rectangular table is much better than a circular one, but if you were like us, who sat around a circular table and at the tail end of a pavement where there was a slight slope, dinner becomes quite a balancing act between trying not to accidentally fall into the drain or onto the road, and keeping the table at equilibrium with the help of a tiny bottle cap to prevent plates to slide off the table. However, once we settled down and worked out the balance, it was all good, then all we needed was the food to arrive.

The average waiting time here is 30 minutes, non-negotiable. No compromised is made on the quality of food here, the rice is cooked from scratch once the order chit makes it to the kitchen, so, you will just have to be patient. The owner offered one other alternative the last time we walked in but didn’t have the time to wait, call them in advance and give them a heads up of what time you will arrive and they should be able to accommodate you.

Once the claypot arrived, the three of us quickly divided the work that had to be done. One person took charge of the scoop and started scooping the “toppings” off onto a side plate, my other dinner companion took charge of the oil and I took charge of the dark sauce. Together we worked together and very efficiently flavoured our rice, transferred the “toppings” back, and distributed the food. The defining feature of this claypot rice is the al-dente rice texture, with a slight resistance when you bite into it. The salted fish also flavours the rice and balances the sweetish lup-cheong that is scattered around the rice. Simply put, it is good rice.

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 16, 2006

My Funny Valentine

While other girls might be rather happy to receive a dozen roses and an ultra romantic expensive restaurant meal, I was pretty happy to be an invitee of a dinner where I received all I ever desired for a valentine’s dinner – sexy looking zucchini flowers, spicy chilli chocolate cakes and orgasmic foie gras terrine with truffles.

Image hosting by Photobucket

I guess in that sense I’m almost like every girl, I would like some flowers and chocolates for valentines.

Image hosting by Photobucket


Labels: ,

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Sturgeon Quest

Sha Tin Kitchen
511 Geylang Road (off Lorong 27A)
Tel: 6747-2483

We set out on a quest to eat the sturgeon fish. The simple reason is, if the sturgeon as one of the most valued fishes in the world for its caviar producing nature, surely the flesh of the fish could not be bitter or terrible tasting. A while back we read a review about this slightly off the beaten road kitchen that served up some good family food and the egg-licious producing sturgeon fish.

This slightly non-descript kitchen sit along the long Geylang Road competing for attention alongside all the other fantastic food nooks around this area. This place has its own followings packing a full house on the weekend; it would be wise to make a reservation before making the trip.

There is a sense of humour in the menu that I appreciated, with an almost irreverent dish name like crouching tiger, hidden dragon, (lobster meat cooked with egg white and served on a potato nest) I simply could not resist ordering. Unfortunately, the dish sounded more exciting that it was, the lobster egg white mixture tasted a starchy and I could not quite detect the lobster at all. For the sturgeon dish, we opted for sturgeon stir-fried with eggplant. Thankfully this did not disappoint; the sturgeon fillets were first deep fried to create a crisp texture and the flesh of the fish was firm and sweet. However, other than that, the other dishes were not too extraordinary. The sturgeon adventure was a success, but I do not think I’ll be making another trip down here.

* Read colin’s from Only Slightly Pretentious Food review of Sha Tin Kitchen here, he dishes out better advice on what’s good here.

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 06, 2006

Easy Japanese

This is fast becoming one of our favourite dinner meals. Being awfully simple to put together without breaking a sweat, it is a great recipe to file away for weekday dinners. What more, with the rice cooker, most of the hard work is done without you lifting a finger, the only real work you need to do is to measure out everything in the right quantities, or you could even “eyeball” it, dump it into the rice cooker, press the cook button and volia the meal is ready.

Steamed Salmon Rice with Mushrooms
Serves 4

6 dried shiitake mushrooms
500 ml hot water
2 cups uncooked Japanese rice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp sake
3 tsp rice vinegar
½ tsp salt
200 g skinless salmon fillets
4 tsp mirin
Nori, to garnish
Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish


1. Soak shiitake mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes, drain and gently squeeze to remove excess liquid. Remove shiitake stalks and slice thinly. Reserve soaking liquid.
2. Combine reserved mushroom liquid, Japanese rice, soy sauce, sake, rice vinegar and salt and add all the ingredients to a rice cooker.
3. Place, salmon and sliced shiitake on top of rice and let the rice cooker work its magic.
4. Once rice is cooked, use a fork to flake salmon and stir in mirin.
5. Scoop rice into serving bowls and garnish with nori and sesame seeds.

* Recipe source: Quick and Easy Japanese Recipes (Periplus Mini Cookbooks)

Labels: , , ,