Monday, 23 September 2013

Soba Noodle Salad with Salmon - Video

It's a wonderful Japanese tradition of eating cold noodles on hot summer's days... But before I proceed any further, I am so sorry if you're reading this on a cold, gloomy day... It is most certainly hot where I am.  If there's any consolation, I do not enjoy the sun... I much prefer a grey day.

I understand the notion of eating cold noodles may not be appealing to everyone, but I absolutely love it.  In fact, one of my guilt-less guilty pleasure is leftover spaghetti straight from the fridge with few dashes of Tabasco.  I need help, don't I... It's so delicious though... Anyone else a fan of cold spaghetti? Surely I can't be the only one... No?

Anyway... this soba noodle salad is one of my favourite quick meals.  The noodles takes minutes to cook (less time than regular pasta) and making the dressing takes seconds.  Soba noodles are made with buckwheat and they are normally darker in colour.  The one I used here was made with buckwheat and green tea.  I was expecting a more vivid green for a nice colour contrast against the salmon, but it turned out very pale... oh well.

To be honest, I am more than happy to eat the soba noodles just by itself and perhaps a bowlful of edamame beans and nice cold beer or sake (whatever is available)... but there are days when I want a bit more protein, and salmon goes really well with the noodle salad.  I simply pan-fry the salmon with salt, pepper and olive oil.  Though actually, thinking about it now, next time I'll have the soba noodles with sashimi, be it salmon or tuna.  But if you're not into raw fish or seafood in general, a simple grilled chicken will be lovely too.

And this is another video post which is always fun to make... In real life, this recipe takes less than ten minutes to make, but it took us a whole day to film it...  And again, the longest part to film was the title sequence... which, sadly and annoyingly, did not make the cut at the editing.  It just didn't look as good as what we had in mind... and we only want the best for yous all :)  I also want to say thank you to my partners in crime, Oflavia and Vincent for their talents and support. 

I hope you enjoy watching the video as much as we enjoy making it for you.  Don't forget to subscribe to the channel for more videos and hit the 'thumbs-up' button for me please :) Have a delicious day! x

Monday, 16 September 2013

Twice-Fried Korean Chicken Wings

When I was in Singapore, my friends took me to this Korean restaurant where they are known for their chicken wings.  And no wonder why people would line up for the wings... They were absolutely delicious... the skin was delicate and crunchy and it was coated with this sweet, spicy and sticky chilli glaze.  I love it and I just have to make my home-version and I think it's pretty close :)

I apply the same principle of twice cooked chips to the chickens to ensure maximum crispiness... The chickens are lightly coated in seasoned flour then deep-fried in a lower temperature oil for several minutes, and then cooled and fried again at higher temperature.  I know it sounds a bit like a faff, but it really isn't I promise; and you'll thank me later as you bite into the crackly, crispy chicken skin.

Making the sauce takes hardly any skills... just mix them all together.  But if I may suggest, start with the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and stir.  This way, it's easier for the sugar granules to dissolve into the sauce... and then proceed with the rest of the ingredients. I honestly don't know if smoked paprika is widely used in Korean cooking, but I want bacon-y smokiness in the sauce and that's why I use it.  But obviously it's optional; or perhaps add a bit (or a lot) of cayenne pepper if you want to make it extra spicy.  

Most of the ingredients should be available in supermarkets these days, but you will need to make a trip to your local Asian grocery store to get the Korean chilli paste, called gochujang which often comes in a red plastic container.

When you make the sauce, you'll probably think that it's a scant amount to coat all the chicken wings... but have some faith, it will!  I hope that you'll give this a go because it's seriously finger-licking good.

P.S. If you're not in a rush, I would highly suggest you marinade the chicken in a mixture of finely grated garlic, finely grated ginger, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and white pepper... leave it in the fridge overnight or at least for a couple of hours.  Take it out of the fridge half an hour to an hour before frying so that they go back to room temperature. 

Twice-Fried Korean Chicken Wings
Recipe by Me

1 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 kg chicken wings, tips discarded (save for stock), wings separated at the joint

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon caster sugar
2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (sweet or hot one), optional
1 heaped tablespoon Gochujang paste

Heat a deep, heavy-bottomed sauce pan half full of vegetable oil over a low heat.  Heat this to about 150 C if you have a candy thermometer.

Make the sauce in a big bowl by combining all the ingredients and mixing well. Give it a taste and adjust to your liking.

In a bowl, combine the flour, cornflour, salt and white pepper.  Coat the chicken wings thoroughly with the flour, shaking off most of the excess.

Fry them in batches for about 8 minutes, remove and fry the next batch.  You'll notice the wings will look pale now, but it's nothing to worry about.  They'll be golden soon.

Once all the wings had their first fry, turn up the heat and let the oil reach 180 C, and fry the wings again this time only for approximately 3 to 4 minutes, or until they are golden and cooked all the way through.

Remove the wings and drain on a platter topped with kitchen paper.  Now place the wings in the bowl with the sauce and tossing well until the wings are evenly coated all over... and apply to face.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Yogurt Pot Cake

I always feel that a house is not a home unless there's a cake in it... I know I keep telling you all (and trying to convince myself) that I don't have a sweet tooth, but we all know it's a big fat lie... I mean if I had to choose to eat between a savoury or a sweet dish, I'd most likely pick the savoury one.  But in an ideal world, I'd have both.

Currently at home we have not one but three cakes which makes me feel very safe when I need my sweet fix or something to nibble with my morning coffee or cup of tea in the afternoon. It was mom's birthday yesterday, so obviously there's a birthday cake (three layers vanilla sponge cake with strawberry jam and buttercream), a banana bread and this yogurt pot cake...  

This is a Nigella recipe; and the first time I bake this cake, I copied the recipe by watching and pausing the video (I haven't bought the book at the time)... and in the video, there was no mention of the (plain) flour quantity, in fact no mention of it... just the cornflour.  I thought that's odd... a cake with just cornflour? wouldn't it make the cake chewy and sticky? But I tried it anyway... and the result was as expected.  The cake was glutinous and just not the right texture... I mean it's still pleasant (the fact that we still demolished the whole cake) but I knew something's missing. 

When I got the book, I immediately look for the recipe for this cake and there I found the use of plain flour along with cornflour!  So, perhaps it's an editing mistake on the video, skipping one whole step to the recipe. Now, the recipe is called yogurt pot cake because most of the ingredients are measured in a yogurt pot... but I find this tricky because the size of yogurt pot I use is different to the one that Nigella uses.  Plus, I am more comfortable with the metric system. So here I give you the complete list of ingredients in metric.  But if you want to test the pot system, it's 1 pot yogurt, 2 pots sugar, 1 pot oil, 1 pot cornflour and 2 pots plain flour.   

I have my own method and I make my own addition though, but it's just my preference.  I add the zest of one lemon instead of 1/2 lemon, because I really want to taste the lemon.  I know, I know the cake is not called lemon yogurt cake, but if there's lemon in it, I wanna make sure it's there... not just in the background. Also instead of using vanilla extract, I use the seeds from one vanilla pod or use vanilla paste.  I quite like the look of little dots of vanilla seeds throughout the yellow cake in each slice. If you want you can use cake flour in place of the flours specified.  Because essentially cake flour is already a mixture of plain and cornflour. 

Thank you to the yogurt, this cake has a light, soft crumb and I especially love it when it's still a bit warm... and I think you will enjoy it as much as I do.

Yogurt Pot Cake
Recipe by Nigella Lawson

3 eggs, separated
250 gr caster sugar
150 gr plain yogurt
150 ml vegetable oil
175 gr plain flour
75 gr cornflour
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tsp icing sugar, to serve

1 x 22 cm savarin or ring mould (or 22 or 23 cm springform cake tin)

Now, start by preheating the oven to 180 C and grease your ring mould or cake tin with a little vegetable oil.

Whisk the egg whites until you have firm peaks, then set it aside.  In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until airy and light before adding the yogurt. I use freestanding mixer if you're wondering. 

Then add in the vegetable oil... I add it a little at a time because I don't want to deflate the mixture.  Turn the mixer on low and add the flours.

Then scrape the sides with a spatula, making sure all the flour is incorporated into the batter.  Mix in the lemon zest and vanilla.  Now gently fold in the egg whites.  

Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 30 - 35 minutes.  You'll notice that the sides of the cake will begin coming away at the edges and a cake tester will come out clean when it's done.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool to a wire rack for ten minutes or so before turning it out. 

When it's cooled, transfer the cake to a platter and dust the top with icing sugar... and you know the what to do next.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Not Quite Nigella's Mother's Singapore Chilli Prawns

I was in Singapore this past week and I had so much fun... and to be honest  it was a much needed break from everything that's been going on... but let's not get into that now.  I went there to see some friends which I haven't seen for months and even years, so it was really nice to hang out and catch up with everyone's life. It's funny how I haven't met some of my friends for a long time, but when we finally reunited, it felt like we never parted.

We went to this Korean place eating many delicious chicken wings... and after we're full, then we moved on to another Korean place and spent hours talking and drinking sweet rice wine.  I never had sweet rice wine before so this was a new experience and boy, it was good.  The wine is sweet but citrus-y at the same time and they don't even taste like alcohol which sometimes is not a good thing...

If you've been to Singapore before, you know that it is a shopping paradise... walking through Orchard Road, you'll see everything from designer brands to popular high street stores. Or if you're feeling cultural, there are plenty of historical sites and neighbourhoods to visit, temples and beautiful gardens.  But I wasn't here for that... Apart from seeing friends, I was in Singapore for the food!

One thing you must know about Singaporeans, they are obsessed with food and they take their food seriously! I am almost embarrassed (but I'm not really) by the amounts of food I consumed... but it's all for research (of course...) and I am so inspired.  There are so many dishes that I want to try replicate at home, so watch this space! :)

And great thing is, you don't have to go to upscale fancy restaurants to enjoy the best food... In fact, on my last night, my best friend Daniel took me to this dim sum place at a back alley of some street and it was cheap and cheerful and delicious.  Though sadly, we ordered way too much food for the two of us and couldn't finish them all... but that's also probably because the dim sum feast was our second dinner of the evening.

During my trip (in between meals) I went to a book shop and straight to the cookery section (what else...)... and as I was wandering around I saw the book I've been hunting for weeks! Not Quite Nigella by Lorraine Elliott, the woman behind THE Not Quite Nigella blog. I was told that the book is only available in Australia at the moment, so I was just so excited to have found it in Singapore.

I have been a fan (read: stalker) of Not Quite Nigella for sometime now.  Her daily food and travel posts are witty, insightful and mouth-watering. The Not Quite Nigella book, subtitled 'my path to happiness through baking & blogging', tells her journey from ditching her day job as a highly paid media strategist to following her passion for French pastries and becoming a full-time food blogger.  It's written with her brilliant sense of humour and she shares some of her favourite recipes too...

And one of them is Lorraine's mother's Singapore chilli prawns.  When I saw this recipe, I thought it's just the perfect homage to my recent trip.  I cooked this for Sunday lunch earlier and it's utterly, utterly delicious. It takes no time to cook, so you wanna make sure you prepare all the ingredients before you start cooking because as I said it cooks so quickly.  

Serve this with plenty of rice to mop all the gorgeous spicy, gingery, garlicky sauce. Yum.

Well, enjoy the rest of your Sunday everyone! *back to reading now...

Singapore Chilli Prawns
Find the list of ingredients and instructions, here.