Friday, December 29, 2006

Reader of the Lost Art

This is neither the sequel nor spoof of Indiana Jones. I am just one reader of a lost art here...the nearly lost art of a great steak. This sight somewhat captured my attention, while on a recent vacation. I chanced upon this refrigerated cooler not inside the restaurant, but by the side of the restaurant entrance, along the main walkway of continuous human traffic.

The sign reads "This is real beef being dry aged on the bone, for 15 days following three weeks of wet aging. During this period, the sirloins undergo enzymatic changes that intensify flavor, deepen color and tenderize the meat by softening the connective tissue. We then broil our steaks on an open mesquite grill for a flavor only available at... Gallager's"

Though I did not dine at this steakhouse(told you I am just a reader/on-looker), I came to find out that dry aging is a time-honored technique at Gallagher's-Broadway's first steakhouse, and its reputation as a New York institution is based on the finest cuts of perfectly-aged beef. All beef is hung in a refrigerated cooler(like above), at a specific temperature and humidity. This natural aging method not only makes the steaks more tender, but concentrates flavor while it allows water to evaporate away. Do expect the cost of dry-aged beef to be 2 to 3 times the cost of regular beef, though. That was why I did not even take a baby step into the restaurant.

Oh, I was not in New York. This is VEGAS !!! Las Vegas!

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All the pleasure and the "P"s, no guilt

Heavy rains in Singapore, snowstorms in Denver, storms in California, earthquake in Taiwan...ooh, what's happening this winter month of December ?

Living almost half my life in Singapore, I did not know much about seasonal fruits. I took it for granted sometimes, as most fruits I enjoy can be found all year round in Singapore. I miss papayas! Uncommon in California, and even there is, they are very expensive. I should say "I miss papayas@99cents each, in Singapore".

While pears are more of a summer/fall fruit, persimmon and pomegranate are considered winter fruits.

You have to bite a Fuyu persimmon like an apple, that's suggested. So, I did.

Commercially, there are generally two types of persimmon fruit; astringent and non-astringent. Astringent persimmons(such as Korean and Hachiya variety) contain very high levels of soluble tannins and are unpalatable if eaten before ripening. The astringency of tannins can be removed by exposure to light over several days, or artificially with chemicals. These astringent persimmons can also be prepared for commercial purposes by drying. Non-astringent persimmons(such as the Fuyu and Hanagosho) are not actually free of tannins as the term suggests, but rather are far less astringent before ripening, and lose more of their tannic quality sooner. Non-astringent persimmons may be consumed when still very firm to very very soft.

And I've got pomegranate seeds in a small-pack like this, too. Try it in salads or top over vanilla ice-cream. Add colors and crunch!

You can eat the seeds with the red seed pulp surrounding it.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Linguine vongole, this time it's for real (well, at least part of it)

I was inspired by Rasa Malaysia for this dish. I've wanted to do linguine vongole for some time now. That time, I did not have clams. NOW, I DO! BUT, the remaining white wine sitting in my fridge is not giving me good signals. Though I would usually "save" unfinished wine with a vacuum pump wine saver then let it chill, this method might be good just for 1-2 weeks. BUT, I've forgotten when I left that unfinished bottle in the fridge, so I'm not sure if the wine is still good. Ok, I will label "opened on MM/DD/YY-date" on the bottle in future. BUT......
No more just have to discard the remaining wine NOW! Luckily, the wine was one of those 2 buck chucks from Trader Joes, if not it would have been so wasteful.

BUT, I do not have white wine to cook my linguine vongole !!! Here comes Shaoxing cooking wine to the rescue!

Linguine vongole (as side-dish, serves 2)
-4-6oz linguine (this is a side dish, thus this pasta quantity)
-1lb of manila clams (tips on cleaning clams in which I did step 1. and 2.)
-1 stalks of scallion/spring onions, cut into small pieces
-2tsp crush ginger
-2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
-1tbsp olive oil
-2 cups Shaoxing wine
-1tsp sesame oil
-dashes of black pepper
-pinches of red pepper chilli flakes

1.Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente
2.Meanwhile, heat up Corningware pot with 1tbsp olive oil on medium heat
3.Stir fry ginger and garlic till fragrant
4.Add in the clams, Shaoxing wine, then let it cook and simmer, covered, for 3-5mins
5.Add in scallions, sesame oil, black pepper, chilli flakes, cook and simmer, covered until all shells are opened. When the shells open, the clams are cooked!
6.Add in linguine to the clams and mix well

7. Serve...clams are in the limelight here. If you prefer as a main dish, more pasta can be used.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Infectious Tofu!

"Mad cow disease", "bird-flu" or "spinach E-coli" outbreak? People start freaking out when they see beef, poultry or spinach. Infectious, because the tofu "disease" has spread from Rasa Malaysia , to Simcooks , and me. Simcooks- since I'm not allowed to "eat your tofu", I gotta make and eat my own tofu. When I'm armed with tofu and minced pork, Mapo Tofu is what I'll usually make. For some time, I've wanted to do something different - and do away with using bottled chilli bean paste, just for once.

When I had my ingredients ready, I did not have red chilli in the list. But I reckon I could still make steamed tofu with my intended seasoning. Rasa Malaysia has used soft tofu for steaming, and Simcooks, has got firm tofu for frying, while I'm going to use firm tofu for steaming. Did you see, the infectious "disease" just mutated ! And it tasted as good! Soft or firm, steam or fry!

Steamed tofu with minced meat (serves 2-3)
-1 block firm tofu/beancurd
-1/2lb minced pork
-1tbsp chopped shallots
-1/2tsp dried anchovies, soaked in warm water, rinsed off, and chopped finely
-1/2tsp dried shrimps, soaked in warm water, rinsed off, and chopped finely
-1tbsp chopped scallions/spring onions
-1tbsp oil

1/2tsp dark soy sauce
1/2tsp sugar
dash of sesame oil and pepper

1.Steam the tofu at high heat for 10-15mins
2.While the tofu is steaming, heat up 1tbsp oil and saute the chopped shallots till fragrant. Add in dried anchovies and shrimps and fry till aromatic
3.Stir in minced pork, spring onions, seasoning, and mix well. (Do a taste test here. As I've added anchovies and shrimps for that crunchy texture, I did not have to use a lot of soy sauce since dried anchovies and dried shrimps are already salty. You can adjust the amt. of soy sauce based on your preference.)
4.Remove and place over steamed tofu

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MEATBALLS on STEROIDS ! - A prediction come true

Ok, I've done some reflections on my older posts and made some new predictions as well. While many predictions about nanotechnology and miniaturization have been made before, there's still much uncertainty on mass-commercialization and mass-acceptance of these technologies. I made a short-term prediction on UP-SIZING instead. Well, at least, when things get smaller(mini-, micro-, nano-), you need to look at them with BIGGER eyes. And THAT, is already one UP-SIZE! Forget the microscope, or focused-ion beam.

And while most predictions made this year, are for the coming 2007 or the next few years; my prediction made two days ago@*Star Wars* Episode 8-The Hidden Secret , came true today.
Do continue to predict what will be that secret ingredient (image posted in *Star Wars* Episode 8-The Hidden Secret). Leave comments of your predictions there, for the next battle of Iron Chef vs Copper Cook.

This is what happens when Meatballs goes on Steroids! Not those Star War Arctoids (though they are pronounced quite the same).

Yesss, yessss, yesssss, these are meatballs. Each meatball measures ~6-8cm in diameter on average. They are meatball, ok, not meat patties. So it's unusual to see them so big.

I'm eating 狮子头 - lions head!!! No, no...I'm not that lion-hearted even I've had my share of turtle soup. And I assure do not need to have a lion-heart to savour lion's head. You just have to have THAT BIG mouth of that diameter!! Bwahahahahah....

So named because of the shape of the cabbage, which together with the meatball resemble a lion's head (I guess meatball makes the head, and cabbage-the mane?). My version comes with rice vermicelli, makes a good one-dish meal.

Stewed lion's head (serves ~4)
-~1lb minced pork
-400g Napa cabbage, cut into 6cm lengths
-1tbsp dried shrimps, soaked in water to soften then rinsed off water
-8caps fresh shitake mushrooms,wiped with damp towels, stalks removed and caps sliced; or
dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked and diced
-crushed ginger(you can use fresh ginger if you have that)
-1 stalk scallions/spring onions, cut into small pieces
-oil for frying
-200g vermicelli(mifen,bee hoon), soaked to soften

-2tbsp dark soy sauce
-1/2tbsp corn flour or egg
-1tsp ginger juice
-1/2tsp sesame oil
-2 stalks scallions/spring onions, cut into small pieces
-salt and pepper, to taste

Sauce(option, mix together):
-1tbsp dark soy sauce
-chicken stock(option)

1.Mix pork with seasoning ingredients, make into meat balls (~6-8cm diameter for each)
2.Roll in additional corn flour and deep fry in oil till brown

3.Drain and set aside, while discard the oil leaving 2 tbsp
4.Heat oil and fry ginger, mushrooms, dried shrimps and cabbage
5.Add in stock or water, simmer for 10mins, then add in the meat balls

(I purposely tried to make it look like a lion's head, but in all directions I look, it does not look like one. Maybe I was wrong to conjure that head and mane image, or I'm just not destined to be a make-up artist)

5.Add in vermicelli and simmer further for 5-8 mins
6.Thicken with sauce ingredients (Optional. By this time, the soup should be very tasty. Add the sauce ingredients if you find too bland)
7.Garnish with spring onions and serve

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Chinese-style, Western-style or Freestyle

There are many ways to marinate and cook (grill or saute) pork chops. How I should do mine? Western-style pork chops marinade tend to include worcestershire sauce, molasses, pepper, salt and/or honey; and the pork chops are usually glazed with pineapple sauce, or topped with apple or cherry sauce. I'll try Western-style pork chops in future but for now, just feel like some Chinese-style pork chops. Those which sometimes can be ordered in Tze Char stalls...called many names but the one I remember is 排骨王. I gave a shot at this based on some imagination, so it can be called Freestyle pork chops. Oink oink goes swimming !

Chinese-style pork chop
-2 slices of pork loin chops (~ 1cm thick)
-2tbsp cooking oil (canola, peanut...)

-1tsp dark soy sauce
-1tsp honey
-pinch of salt, sprinkle over raw meat
-pinches of black pepper, sprinke over raw meat

Topping Sauce:
-30ml water
-1tsp corn flour
-1tbsp tomato ketchup

1.Before marinating the pork, tenderize it first by using a meat tenderizer, or using the back of the cleaver
2.Sprinkle salt and some pepper over the pork; then add dark soy sauce and honey to marinade pork. Leave it in fridge for 1/2 hour or more
3.Heat pan with about 1 tbsp of oil and grill the marinated pork on slow fire, about 4mins each side
4. When the pork are all cooked, set aside and use the remaining oil to cook the topping sauce
5. Mix topping sauce ingredients and pour into pan, then stir until boil
6. Top the sauce over pork chops

Oink oink goes splashing and did not drown!

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Kang kong's friend is your friend, and kang kong's enemy is also your friend

Without scrutinizing the stems to check if it's hollow, these will definitely pass off as water spinach (kang kong, or in Mandaring -空心菜, which means hollow-stems vegetables). Can't seem to find water spinach in the Asian supermarket that I frequent here. Then, I saw this - 番薯叶. These are tapioca leaves, aren't they? (though it was tagged in the supermarket as yam leaves). For once, I suddenly felt that knowing how to read Mandarin word characters (华文字) is useful. Tapioca leaves, the leafy greens that sits second after kang kong, to be suitably fried with sambal.

Sambal tapioca leaf (serves ~2-3)
~1lb tapioca leaves; wash thoroughly and peel off tough bark (I seriously advise peeling off the tough bark on the stems, or cut off the stems. I did not, and the stems were rather tough to bite and chew on after cooking)
-1tbsp sambal chilli belachan
-1tsp dried shrimps; soaked in warm water, rinsed off, then finely chopped
-some warm water

1.Heat pan with oil on medium heat
2.Add in sambal and dried shrimps, then fry quickly for 1-2mins. Add in some water if mixture is too dry.
3.If you have cut the stems from the leaves and want to eat the stems, add in the stems first to fry for 2-3mins
4.When stems start to soften, add in the leaves and fry for another 1-2mins
5.Goes well with rice, so serve immediately

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Shiokingly good Singapore Part 10- ROJAK mix of food ! ~End of Season 1~

This Singapore series just does not include EVERYTHING we have devoured in five days. All in all, it was an eclectic mix of food- from the home, hawkers, coffeeshops, bistro, cafe. Not only we've eaten rojak near the laksa stall in Katong , at the end of 5 days, I also felt "rojak" in my stomach.

tigerfish's "Shiokingly good Singapore" series ends here. To recap the series, here it is :
Part 1-Prawn mee
Part 2 Turtle soup
Part 3- Laksa
Part 4-Porridge and fried carrot cake
Part 5 - Hong Kong cafes
Part 6- Mee pok/kuay teow mee
Part 7 - Roti prata
Part 8- Szechuan in Vivo
Part 9 - Yet Con chicken rice
Part 10 - Rojak, and ~end~

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Shioking good Singapore Part 9- I have YET been CON here

Yes, it's Hainanese Chicken Rice, what else ? Yet Con@Purvis Street just got that old charm within. Not only that, the chicken rice is fantastic! You can also order other side-dishes but I'm not sure what's on their menu for side-dishes; as our usual routine order will be chicken rice (with the chicken AND, the rice), a small-plate of roasted pork belly("Siow Bah", 烧肉) , the usual greens, and depending on our food moderation gauge, we'll decide if we want some chicken liver and gizzard.

I've heard before that the true-blue authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice must be prepared using a breed of chicken from Hainan Island, named 文昌鸡 (Wen Chang chicken?). I'm not sure if Yet Con uses 文昌鸡 for their chicken rice, but their chicken rice is good! Of course, not forgetting the traditional condiments by the side- chicken rice chilli, sweet(black) sauce and minced/crushed ginger.

You can't taste it...and the chicken is tender and succulent

I do not have the patience like Simcooks, who gives the chicken a royal treatment. In almost half my lifetime now, I have not even gone to any single spa session, and oh my, this chicken is so lucky to get one before me!

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Shiokingly good Singapore Part 8-Szechuan in Vivo

I'm not teaching about biomedical sciences here, as in-vivo to those specialized scientists means experimentation done in or on the living tissue of a whole, living organism. I'm referring to Vivo City - Singapore's largest retail and lifestyle destination, and the Szechaun Hot and Sour Soup noodles in The Asian Kitchen. As if I've not done enough shopping in U.S.A, and have to head back into the usual Singapore shopping crowds. I'm just curious about how "big" is "big", as it's bigger than Suntec city mall, so it claims. But it can get nowhere bigger than the biggest shopping mall in the U.S.A as almost everything in the U.S.A is sized-UP. And it's true, every shopping mall is the same. Nothing special about Vivo City, except that it'll be somewhere for non-gamblers to head to when the Sentosa Casino Resort opens in a few years time.

I enjoyed the hot and sour soup very much, plus...

the noodles in it.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Next time when you see cereals, you should not just say "Got Milk?"

~If some of you are wondering, there're three parts more before my "Shiokingly good Singapore" series ends. I can't seem to finish posting all of them and it'll make one post too long. For some time in my blog, I've been multi-tasking, between the past-my S'pore visit(backdated posts), and the present-back in California(actions to-date)~

This must be one of those long forgotten dish to be cooked at home. The ingredients are quite readily available, and it's a quick and easy dish to prepare. BUT, the most shocking part (at least if I cooked this in the Bay Area) is, the curry leaves are sold at $14.99/lb !!! What?!?!? More expensive than salmon steak and prime rib ?!?! And then, I came to know that curry leaves are very hardy plants and can be easily grown. But why are they still so expensive ? Unless those I've bought are imported leaves. Am really puzzled till now. Curry leaves are so hardy that even insects and pests shun them, because the leaves have a distinct curry aroma that apparently acts like a natural insecticide. It must be true because I never found a single hole in any of the curry leaves.

I've even forgotten to say what I wanted to cook (still thinking of that $14.99/lb price tag, sorry). Using cereals, for a savoury dish in Cereal Prawns, also known as 麦片虾.

Cereal Prawns (serves 2-3)
-600g shell-on medium-size prawns; slit the back with veins removed, clean the prawns and pat-dry
-oil for deep-frying
-1tbsp butter
-1tsp red chilli pepper flakes
-2-3tbsp curry leaves
-1pack Cereal mix (can be substituted with 1/2 bowl Nestum cereals, 1tsp sugar, 1tsp non-diary creamer, pepper to taste)

1.Deep-fry prawns shell-on in deep pan with hot oil till golden brown. Dish and drain. Discard the oil
2.Melt butter in the same pan, saute chilli flakes and curry leaves till fragrant
3.Add in Nestum cereals, sugar, non-diary creamer and pepper and stir-fry till aromatic
4.Add in prawns and mix well

5.Dish up and serve

So, the next time you see cereals, you should say something like "Got prawns?"

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Shiokingly good Singapore Part 7-Disappointing Prata in Frankel Avenue

Must go Jalan Kayu for prata! Ok...I heard you. But we did not have much time to spare to go all the way to Jalan Kayu, and Frankel Avenue used to have good prata too. Yes, "used to". I'm not sure if the original stall owners have moved. However, the roti prata we had in Frankel Avenue was disappointing. The prata was tasteless and moist, rather than crispy. I prefer my prata to be on the crispy side so that after topping with the curry sauce, it'll not be just one mushy mush in my-bite and-chew. Of course, the curry sauce was "oomph" in it...and so little.

Check out the Malaysian version of Roti Canai @ Layang Layang, California

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Linguine vongole, NO clams, please

"I want to order a plate of Won Ton noodles, without the Won Ton"..."Give me a pizza, no toppings, no cheese please". Try ordering this way in anywhere, and I bet you'll get that nasty look that says "Are you trying to be funny or what?!"

Ok, I'm cooking linguine vongole this time, NO CLAMS! Scusilo, hello ? But I'm using exactly the same key ingredients (minus the clams) required of a vongole dish! Olive oil, garlic, white wine etc. A shrimps on hand is worth a clam I do not currently have. Alright, have some Linguine Gamberetto instead.

Linguine gamberetto (serves ~2-3, as a main dish)
-1/2lb linguine
-1/2lbs medium-sized uncooked shrimps
-1-2tbsp olive oil
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2cup white wine
-some broccoli florets, blanched and chopped to smaller bite-size pieces
-some mini sweet peppers, julienned to strips
-1tsp dried oregano
-red pepper flakes, to taste
-salt and pepper, to taste

1.Cook the pasta, about 7-9 mins, in salted boiling water until al dente
2.In a medium saucepan, heat the oil. Add the garlic and chile pepper and cook for ~ 1min
3.Add the oregano, shrimps and wine, and cook over medium heat until the shrimps are cooked (turn pinkish red)
4.Add in blanched broccoli and sweet peppers and stir-fry lightly for 1min
5.Drain the pasta, reserving a small cup of pasta water. Add the pasta to the shrimp mixture in the pan, and mix well, adding a little of the pasta water if the mixture seems dry.
6.Serve immediately

Alternatively, if you have already done up some grilled shrimps, you can skip step 2. and step 3., just add the wine to the grilled shrimps to deglaze, and continue from step 5.

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Shiokingly good Singapore Part 6-When there's a wait and queue, you know there's good food

During weekends, there is usually a 1/2 hour (sometimes even up to 45min) wait for this simple mee pok (flat noodles) dish @ East Coast Road. We've done another one - one of our favorites...132 Mee Poh Kueh Teow Mee. In Cantonese, the numbers "1 3 2" is pronounced as "Yat San Yi"...and translates to "一生易 " in Mandarin; and in English, simply means "One Whole Life Easy". Hmmm...Chinese are really sometimes superstitious, ya? No "1 6 4" on a car license plate number or house no.,please... taboo,taboo (give a "1 6 8" instead). Difference in just one number, but the former would suggest "being down-on-luck forever", while the latter would suggest "prosper all the way!". "4" is "sey"(Cantonese)-"死"(Mandarin)-"death(English); while "8" is "fatt"(Cantonese) - "发"(Mandarin)-"prosper"(English). So, if you see some addresses along any retail blocks in the Bay Area that are numbered "8 8", or "8 8 8", there's a 99.99% chance that it's opened/owned by a Chinese! Haha! Just wondering if the DMV in California allows car buyers to bid/buy car license plate numbers. Well, Singapore does allow that. Pay a fee to buy your favorite set of numbers for your precious car.

Back to mee pok. Like laksa, there is also a clone war for this one. But for 132 Mee Pok, the chilli/heat index is High! And unlike Teochew Bak Chor Mee that usually contains black vinegar ( my fake version here), 132 Mee Pok does not add black vinegar to its noodles dishes.

Am sweating...eating these noodles with chilli, in hot humid Singapore...

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Shiokingly good Singapore Part 5-茶餐厅, new kid on the block

One of the first 茶餐厅 to open in Singapore , and it's along East Coast Road. They must be doing quite well since they've opened another branch in Novena. Hong Kong 茶餐厅 or cafes are becoming popular in Singapore, only recently.

We've tried the stewed beef brisket noodles before and know it's good. So, we orderd that.

There are more than 250 items to order from the menu. So if you are one that loves variety in a menu, then this is it!

First time trying their HK fried carrot cake with XO sauce

Hmmm...I remember this shape! Looks almost exactly to what Simcooks has.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Crab DIY

Since it's already the crab (dungeness) season (mid-November to end-June in Northern California), we were procrastinating if we should head off to San Francisco to have some crabs again. We've had steamed dungeness crab in San Francisco before. Should we go back again? Juicy crabs...steaming hot...during this fall-winter month, the thought itself is already enough to make me hungry and drOooo...oool. For sure, that is not the cheapest place to have dungeness crabs. Then, where else is ? I don't know since I do not have that extra cash to spend, and to review "places to eat crabs" (unless someone pays me to do so...hahah). But, but, but...there is one good recommendation I want to make. Go and buy live dungeness crab from your known or familiar sources (Asian supermarkets, or any supermarkets that have live seafood counter or station), then have a crab DIY at home.

The night before our crab expedition, we were still squabbling..."to go or not to go", "to buy or not to buy", "to kill or not to kill", "to steam or to boil". So, here's the outcome. We bought the live creature from 99ranch market. There were two large water-filled tanks of live crabs, being sold at $3.69/lb. Since the staff helping us at the seafood station at that time only speaks Cantonese, oh...blame it on my poor Cantonese language command when I started using sign language - pointing to the crab and showing the number ONE, on my finger to tell them I want to buy a crab; then demonstrating that "chopping" action using my hand to indicate "please help me kill the crab". Though it was not my intention, the staff chopped it into pieces for me as well (thanks to my "chopping" sign-action). I survived, but the crab did not. Paid $8.27 for an approx. 2-pounder live(or rather "just dead") dungeness crab.

As it was still some hours away from lunch time, the crab was briefly "inspected" to make sure any remaining gunks were cleaned and washed off, placed on a plate, into a Ziploc, then into the refrigerator it went (do not keep a dead crab unattended for a couple of hours as it will start to lose its freshness and turn bad).

Time for lunch!
1.Get the crab out from the refrigerator and prepare the wok for steaming
2.Fill the wok with water for steaming, start boiling the water
3.When the water in the wok starts to boil, place the crab in steaming position into the wok

4.Steam, covered for 15-20 mins. Within this time, the crab turns from purple-brown to bright orange, and then, time to eat!

There are completely NO REGRETS! Steaming is still the best way to enjoy dungeness crab, IMHO. Very flavorful, since you don't lose much of the juices through the other boiling method. A dish, simply done yet so super-tasty, super-delicious, words can describe. And what's better, you could have this cooked dish for less than $10!

I'm now more confident to handle this unfamiliar creature. Till the next time a crab sees you, it'll be in different fashion.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Be flexible with satay

But I still want to eat my satay!!!...since I've bought ready-made satay sauce sometime earlier and need some satay in order to start using the sauce.

I know it's weird that I have the sauce first, then think of making satay. Most would have planned to make satay, then think about the sauce.

Chicken satay recipes tend to have different marinade ingredients compared to beef satay. If you feel "beefy" today, try Sim's beef satay recipe. But if you feel "chicky" (or cheeky), give this chicken satay recipe a shot.

Oh, this is what I call being flexible, when I do not have the privilege to own any electric grill or stove-top gridle, and have to use the usual frying pan(just make sure it's shallow and has a large wide surface) to grill my satay. Being flexible with satay, does not mean you flex the skewers while eating your satay. You can if you want to but I guarantee you, it would not make the satay any tastier. And "satay needs to have that "chargrilled" color!!!" Ok, I heard that. Means having that burnt color/texture on the satay that makes it taste somewhat good. On the pan, you can use your kitchen tongs (not THAT thongs...heh) to "exert some pressure" on the satay such that it sizzles twice as much, on contact with the hot pan.

Chicken satay (makes ~25 sticks)
- (~1lb) or 4 chicken thighs or chicken breasts (deboned), cut into strips 2cmx6cm

-2-3tsp curry power (mine contains coriander, cumin, turmeric...the key ingredients in chicken satay marinade)
-2tbsp canola oil
-1-2tsp brown sugar
-2tsp ground garlic
-1tsp ground ginger
-dashes of salt

1.Marinade chicken pieces 2 hrs before cooking the satay or leave marinated chicken in fridge overnight
2.Thread the chicken pieces onto bamboo skewers
3.Place chicken on shallow large base pan to grill. Grill each side for 4-5mins, then turn to other side and grill for another 3-4 mins
4.Serve with ready-made satay sauce

See... my satay did have that "chargrilled" look, using the tongs-method!

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Shiokingly good Singapore Part 4 - A Singapore culture

[kopi kau /gow, gaU/] is Hokkien, and kau (of liquids) means 厚 in Mandarin; or thick in English. Mainly a coffeeshop (kopi tiam) language, this simply means thick coffee, or freshly brewed black coffee with "not-so-much" evaporated milk. On the other hand, kopi-si is coffee with much more evaporated milk in-ratio, compared to coffee; and kopi-o is simply black coffee.

Start your morning with a kopi-o, -kau or -si (any way you like it) and flip-read the newspapers

The Americans and the English have options to go breakfast continental on cereals with milk, muffins and pastries, or to go for a hot breakfast of eggs, sausages and bacon; while most Singaporeans enjoy their cooked breakfast items ranging from nasi lemak, fried bee hoon, fishball noodles, wonton noodles, prawn noodles, fish or pork porridge, and many many more. What you can imagine having for lunch, Singaporeans have them for breakfast! Hey, that's what I call...culture.

Just last month in Singapore, we had pork porridge and fried carrot cake for breakfast in Jiu Shan Coffee Shop-junction of Telok Kurau and Changi Road (located across Telok Kurau Road's Kim San Leng Coffee Shop)

Yes, that's fried carrot cake(Chinese-style), not this type of carrot cake.

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They say Mee Rebus is a true marriage between Chinese and Malay kitchen - egg noodles with various garnishes (egg, shallots, fried bean curd, bean sprouts ) topped with a rich shrimp sauce of Malay mixed spices and Chinese bean paste. But I say Mee Rebus is a trio of Chinese, Malay and Italian kitchens.

Well, I've tried their curry and mee siam and Simcooks recommended that I try their mee rebus as well. I tell ya...the mee rebus is equally droolingly good, plus the instructions to cook it are so easy. Well, I've missed out re-visiting any mee rebus stall back in Singapore but it's ok...since this Bay Area version tasted real yumMEE!

I've used hard-boiled eggs, prawns, cilantro, shallots, and serrano peppers (substituting green chilli) as my garnishes. Yes, I know serrano peppers are mexican but (the usual) green chilli are usually sold in a pack of many, in Asian supermarkets over here, and I can't be biting on those remaining chillis I've not used. Can I buy 2 green chillis "on-the-loose" just for my mee rebus ? Anyway, the serrano peppers tasted EXACTLY like green chilli (maybe they are green chilli, just of different origin), and it's crisp-n-crunch! If your chilli threshold and heat index is not that high, remember to slit through the peppers lengthwise and remove the seeds under cold running water, coz' the serrano peppers are HOT even to the bare senses of the nose(hachew!) and eye (oh my, and I was only removing the seeds under running water).

Excuse me, why Italian ? Oops, I almost pass on that. Ok, coz' the egg noodles are substituted using spaghetti. And yes, yes, yes, it's another perfect match, if not better (as you can have that added al dente texture). Mee rebus means boiled noodles in English, so I have not violated any rules in using spaghetti, have I ? Haha, but I'm good at breaking rules in the kitchen.

Mee Rebus (serves 2)
Ingredients and garnishes:
-1/2lbs spaghetti
-12 deveined and deshelled medium-sized shrimps, cooked (boiled)
-3 hard boiled eggs
-few stalks of cilantro, julienned
-2 serrano peppers, sliced
-2tsps fried shallots
-Prima Taste Premix, Mee Rebus

1.Follow instructions on the Premix pack to cook the gravy (very easy!)
2.Cook spaghetti in boiling water for ~6-8mins (till al dente)
3.When gravy and spaghetti is cooked and ready, put some(not all) gravy in bowl/plate, add in spaghetti, and fried shallots; then mix to ensure every strand of spaghetti gets coated with the gravy(flavor!flavor!) and gets flavored with fried shallots(still, flavor!flavor!)
4.When done, top remaining warm gravy over noodles. Garnish with prawns, eggs, cilantro and green chilli

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Shiokingly good Singapore Part 3-Best in Katong

Another case of successful branding in Singapore food...Katong Laksa! The laksa that is famous in Singapore. The laksa (51 Katong Laksa, 49 Katong Laksa, 328 Katong Laksa...) that is as widely imitated as a Louis Vuitton bag. The laksa that is eaten with a spoon (chopsticks not provided).

And there're almost always nasi lemak, otah and rojak anchoring at laksa stalls in Katong.
Otah otah ! Otak otak!

It's de-boned fish (usually mackerel) marinated with coconut milk, freshly ground chilli, onions, lemon grass, blue ginger and turmeric; wrapped in banana leaf that brings its own flavour to the fish, and ability to retain moisture and taste. Do you know...otak means brain, in Malay and Indonesian, as the dish somewhat resembles the brain...soft and squishy

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Shiokingly good Singapore continues, Part 2-"Forbidden fruit"

A visit to Turtle House at Guillemard Road while in Singapore, was less of a much-awaited craving for us. It was more of devouring the "forbidden fruit"; as turtle soup, I assume, is food that definitely cannot be found in any Bay Area restaurants/cafes; and almost FOR SURE, would not be cooked in any home kitchens unless for any particular reason or during some special occasion(is there one?). Hmmm...maybe you can get a "taste" of turtle soup during "Fear Factor" on TV, just maybe. It just happened that we did not raise any tortoise or turtles as pets when we were young, or else eating them would be considered so sinful...

For those with a weak heart, just treat this as some herbal chicken herbal soup ?

Presenting...Turtle House @ 403 Guillemard Road, Singapore

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.
Coz' Humpty been taken to the stove
For Sambal Chilli Eggs makeover.

Sambal Chilli Eggs
-4 hard boiled eggs
~1-2tbsps nonya sambal chilli
-Canola oil, 1 turn of the pan
-2tbsps water

1.Heat oil in medium sauce pan at medium heat
2.Add in nonya sambal chilli to fry
3.Add in water to dilute the chilli mixture
4.Reduce heat, add in the eggs, make a few turns of the eggs with a ladle to allow the chilli to coat the eggs

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