Sunday, July 30, 2006


And now, the first recipe using the white meatballs! Yakitori is a Japanese kebab, a kind of informal snack that one goes to enjoy after a long day's work. You can also use other types of meat, although I'm quite partial to the chicken meatball version you see here. And yes, ideally a *real* yakitori should be skewered and cooked over hot coals, but we're on a budget, yes?

White meatballs
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp dark soy
4 tbsp light soy
6 tbsp mirin, or chinese rice wine

1. Create the sauce dip by mixing everything (except the meatballs) together and heat in a pan until sugar is melted. Pour into a bowl.

2. Using a little oil, brown desired amount of meatballs.

3. Once browned, dip each meatball into sauce dip and continue frying. Take care to keep the meatballs rolling because the sauce browns easily. Repeat the process as many times as you like.

Oh well, if you really want the atmosphere, you can skewer them and serve...


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White meatballs

Ok, before you think this post is something vulgar - it's meatballs made with white meat. As in chicken and pork. (Shame on you and you should go wash your brain with soap!) Now that we've got that out of the way...

This is what I'd like to call a Base recipe - it forms the base of other recipes that i'll whip up for my packed lunches throughout the week (more on that later). Of course, the meatballs are good enough to eat by themselves! I've based it a little on Swedish meatballs, and of course, the choice of spices here are purely optional. I just raided whatever I had in my spice rack at the time (tarragon and chilli powder) and you can opt to put in what you like.

White meatballs
500 gm minced chicken
250 gm minced pork
1 cup breadcrumbs
Spices - 1 tbsp black pepper, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tbsp tarragon

1. First, the breadcrumb mix. Put 1 cup of breadcrumbs into a bowl and pour just enough milk to soak the mix. At this point, add in your spices. The breadcrumbs serve as a binding agent to keep the shape together.

2. The basic proportion for chicken to pork to breadcrumbs is 2:1:1. If you'd lke to use only one type of meat (like say, for Muslim readers who cannot eat pork) then the proportion of meat to breadcrumbs is 3:1.

3. Form into meatballs and cook in boiling water. When fully cooked, the meatballs should turn white and float to the surface of the water. Because milk is an ingredient in the binding mix, you should cook all the meatballs and not leave them for later. Store in fridge or freezer until required.

Tune in later in the week to see what I have in mind for the meatballs!


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Saturday, July 29, 2006

salted fish and prawn fried rice

got leftover rice ? don't know what to do with it leh ? this recipe is for you .

following the aftermath of C.O.S.D.U's post-welcome mass home-cooked food fest , the leftover rice was donated to me and jon . after having aged it overnight , i set out to fry it ala chinese-y style .

what do you need ar?

i don't have a scale at home , but i measured the cooked rice and it amounted to 6 cups (250ml) .

150 grams of salted fish .
350 grams of prawns (peeled) .
4 stalks of spring onion (chopped) .
8 tablespoons oil .
2 tablespoons sesame oil .

5 eggs (beat) .

2 tablespoons chicken stock .
3 tablespoons soy sauce .
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon brown sugar .
2 tablespoons salt .
5 tablespoons white pepper .

how liao ?

heat the oil and fry the salted fish until nicely crispy golden . set the fried salted fish aside but leave the oil in the wok / pan hor (don't wanna lose all that flavour) . add the sesame oil now and cook the prawns in this oil mixture . after making sure the prawns are cooked , add the rice and stir the mix together briskly . whilst stirring , add in the chicken stock , soy sauce , sugar , salt and pepper . next , make a well in the centre of the rice / prawn mix and pour the beat eggs into it . envelope the egg well with rice for a minute . then stir everything again to let everything meet each other . add the spring onions and stir once more for a couple of minutes . switch off the fire and mix in the salted fish again . always make sure everything's properly mixed hor . garnish with some more chopped spring onion and a small red chilli .

here's what half of the amount i cooked looks like in a bowl :

this amount should last three to four normal serves (but only serves two hungry guys) .


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Veggie Dumplings

I like dumplings, the Chinese kind (guo tie), a la Shanghai dumplings when I was in Melbourne. Of course, they're oily as hell, but it's one of those party foods that a few friends could get together and share while having their meals on their own.

I was planning my packed lunches for the week when I thought about making Shanghai dumplings as part of my menu. I didn't feel like having any meat, so I made it a full vegetarian dish. Be warned though, this isn't the kind of dish that you can whip up in half and hour - you've gotta make the dough, then make the dumplings and cook them how you want it. If you want it as straight dumplings, just boil and enjoy. If you want the guo tie/potsticker style, then add a further step of pan frying after boiling. In both cases, enjoy with black vinegar and ginger.

Veggie Dumplings

The dough:
200 gm plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp oil
Warm water

The filling:
1 package frozen spinach
Equal amount of chives
1 tbsp light soy
1 tbsp chinese wine

1. Make the dough! Add small amounts of warm water to form a dough. It's as easy as that. And yes, that means you've got to get your hands dirty. We're aiming for a consistency that is not too hard to mould and too soft that it breaks apart easily. After a good amount of kneading, cover with a damp cloth and leave for a few hours in the fridge.

2. For the filling mixture, drain and squeeze dry the spinach and chop it coarsely. Add chopped chives and season with soy sauce and chinese wine.

3. The magic number to this dish's serving size is 16. So split the dough in two parts, and then split each part in two, and then split in two again. With each serve, roll out on a floured surface and make a flattened disc. Seal the edges and pinch the sides to secure it.

4. Cook the dumplings in boiling water until skin is translucent. If you want it potsticker style, pan fry the dumplings until skin is golden brown. Enjoy!


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Friday, July 28, 2006

mum's ginger soy beef and oyster sauce broccoli

i had been craving for mum's cooking lately and having indulged in too many luxuries during the holidays , my pockets are losing their depth liao . furthermore , my housemate and i have also decided to cut the cost of eating out . so i attempted to recreate two of mum's most basic dishes that will ultimately cost only a total of six dollars . split that into two and it's only three dollars a meal . good value leh?

what you need leh ? (for ginger soy beef...serves two hungry growing guys)
500 grams of beef (stir fry cuts are readily available in makets)...i used stroganoff hor.
2.5 inch piece of ginger , peeled and cut into thin strips .
marinade : depending on how much you require , keep the dark soy sauce to oyster sauce ratio one to one . i normally use five full tablespoons of each . add the ginger slices and also white pepper to taste (a little spicy taste will make it taste better hor) .
1 tablespoon of oil (any oil will do lar)

then how liao?
wash the beef to get rid of excess blood and massage your beef . that's just an option hor haha . then let the beef mixed with marinade sit for at least an hour .

after that , it's just as simple as heating the oil and cooking the beef in the wok for a few minutes till the beef is cook lor . so simple hor? if too salty add brown sugar lor . if too sweet , add soy sauce lor . if not nice , don't eat lor haha .

for the oyster sauce broccoli leh?
a bunch that is of a nice size ( i believe mine was about 300 g) , big fat stalk chopped away and the rest split into feasible mouth sizes .
sauce : a cup (250 ml) consisting of 3 tablespoons of oyster sauce , 1 tablespoon of cornflour and the rest is water . my bottle of oyster sauce was finishing...hence , the opportunity to just mix the stuff in the bottle...heh heh :

5 cloves of garlic , chopped . most people like to mince it well , but in this case , because of the time used to cook this , i recommend the garlic to be a little coarse hor .
1 tablespoon of oil .

how to cook leh?
wash the brocolli properly and after splitting it accordingly , leave it aside hor . heat the oil in a pan / wok , and then fry the garlic until fragrant . then ar , throw in the broccoli and cover for awhile to let it cook in it's own water and also seal the garlic flavour into them . i do this so that you don't get the raw broccoli taste later too hor . after a few minutes , the broccoli should be soft without the raw taste liao . then quickly stir fry the broccoli with the prepared sauce . everything should be done within a minute hor . don't leave it too long or the broccoli becomes too soft lor . oh ya...if got money , then add chopped chinese mushrooms too .

that's it . time your rice to be done at the same time and eat everything warm ( i assume everyone know how to cook rice hor ? ) .


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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Zen Ramen

This recipe's inspired by watching an episode of Japan Hour. It's really simple to do, really cheap to make, although it takes some time to prepare because it's best used with home-made stock. It's Zen because it's so simple - just stock and noodles, and what you use as toppings is really up to your preference.

Zen Ramen
Pork bone - Use one for a litre of water, or two for up to three litres of water. Get your butcher to split the bone open, too, so that all the flavour comes out.
Egg noodles - or use instant noodles if you don't want the hassle.
1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
Pork cutlet
Spring onions, chopped.

1. THE STOCK: Is the most important part to this recipe. None of that msg nonsense, if you want to do this right, you get a big pot of water, throw in the bones, a dash of salt and pepper, and simmer for at least two hours. This picture was taken at two and a half hours, but I only actually cooked the Zen Ramen at 4 hours. The liquid should turn murky white. Top up with water where necessary.

2. After that, it's real easy. Measure out the amount of soup you need and use it to cook your noodles. Meanwhile, add the soy sauce and sesame oil into your empty bowl. Pour everything - noodles and soup - into the bowl and let the flavours infuse.

3. Place your toppings. I fried a breadcrumbed piece of de-boned pork chop and then sliced it a la tonkatsu. Top it all off with a generous handful of chopped spring onions. The spring onions really make a difference.

4. The soup can be kept in the fridge for up to three days. After the first spell in the fridge, you can skimm the solidified fat from the surface of the stock.

5. Other toppings you can consider: egg (crack an egg while the soup is still boiling, turn off the heat and let it slowly cook); fried onions; sliced lettuce, seaweed.



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Saturday, July 22, 2006

still onna budget....

but no longer a student. Hi everyone, I'm Noel and I started this site the beginning of last year (Jan 2005) to blog about my cooking experiences while studying in Melbourne. The premise, of course, is that eating out is indeed very expensive, and that by spending some time in the markets you can pick out stuff that would be both tasty and nutritious that you could make at home, and most importantly - was a lot cheaper than what you could get from you average $8-a-meal outside.

Since then, I've graduated from school and I'm back in Singapore, working. And cooking with a totally new paradigm. To my amazement, it's actually cheaper to eat OUT rather than cook in back home! Needless to say, it's been plenty hard to try and come up with really cool recipes while trying to keep within a budget. These days, I usually rotate between eating out one week and cooking a packed lunch the next (usually using recipes that I find on this site. I eat what I post!). The flip side about eatng out is, a lot of food out there is really unhealthy, and so i'm trying to be a bit more health conscious when preparing my meals - making sure that there's at least a balance of carbs, meat and veges.

So, stay tuned. I hope to upload more recipes in time to come - particularly when i get inspiration to cook something that's not already featured here. If you've got a recipe and you want to share it, send us an email on studentsonnabudget [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

May's Happy Gula Melaka Agar-Agar

Oh yummy!

Yes, I'm back!

After a super tiring final semester I'm starting to do serious cooking once again! Yay!

So yes, I thought it'd be nice to start off again with a simple recipe.

I love gula melaka. I mean, which Malaysian/Singaporean doesn't? And amazingly, we can actually get good quality gula Melaka here in Melbourne at good Asian grocery stores.

Vat you need:

One block of Gula Melaka/palm sugar (tip: buy the gula melaka made in Indonesia)
A few pandan leaves
1-2 packets of agar-agar powder, Swallow brand. Try to get the original flavour.
200 ml of coconut milk

How now brown cow?

1. Follow instructions on the agar-agar packet. Use about 700-900 ml (depending on how erm, hard you want your agar-agar to be) of water to dissolve the agar-agar powder.

2. Once the powder dissolves, throw in the whole block to gula melaka. If you've used just 1 packet of agar-agar powder, only use half the block of gula melaka, less you want to die of a diabetic attack.

3. Under a very low fire, stand by your little pot and dissolve the sugar. This may take a while. Be patient and talk to your agar-agar.

4. While dissolving the gula melaka, take about 4-5 pandan leaves and knot it. Chuck it into the agar-agar mixture. This gives out wonderful aroma.

5. Once the gula melaka is dissolved and the mixture is at a boiling point, mix in 200 ml of coconut milk. Do not stop stirring.

6. Bring the mixture to boil.

7. At this point your home would smell of nothing but gula melaka. Heaven. Remove pandan leaves and pour out mixture into trays. Remove some of the coconut froth. Leave aside until cool.

8. Place agar-agar into fridge. Serve cold. Yum.


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