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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Nak Ji bo Kum

"AhnYoOng-ha-sa-yoO"~ yes...my spoken Korean has been improving *proud grin*I took a brief break from cramming my lecture notes for a small dinner party last night. I put 3 willing+eager UNSW students to the true "Malaysian test" -- "How spicy do you like it?" Us Malaysian youngsters have a relationship with spicy food; from the usual spicy red chilies, curries, sambals and our favorite killer-hot birdseye chilies; but Koreans;......they take spicy to a whole different level.You can tell it's heaps of 'fun' when the tissue box is pulled out and the sound of giggles, sniffles and slurps fill the table. Suffering with joy...I would say. *laughs* I don't mean to torture my guests...but COme-On~ just look how much they're enjoying themselves! *grin* I didn't want to be the party-pooper holding back on the chilli powder. *wink*. Qimyi + the 2 housemates of very Indian roots (Pinky+ Amrit) were 'A-o-kay'. Pretty lil Amanda, "Viking" and I had a slight struggle with the sniffles...but I would do it all again just for another scoop of that fiery-hot broth. *MmmmMmm*...
I remember the question "What are we having?" being continuously repeated through the evening. I was consistently replying; "Nak ji Bo Kum" but I guess it was hard for everyone to register/comprehend what those four strange sounding syllables were. I finally gave up with a lazy answer I made up in English: "Spicy octopus-thing". I honestly didn't have a clue what Nak ji bo kum meant myself... well..not until I checked it out online this morning *grin*

Nakji Bokum is a very spicy octopus dish enjoyed by many Koreans. Octopus tentacles are cut into bite-sized pieces then pan stir-fried with spicy kochujang paste along with chili powder, sesame oil, red or green chili peppers, green onions, carrots and onions. Different variation of this dish do exist as the octopus can be substituted with squid for less chewy texture and taste. Non-Koreans may find this dish too spicy even diluted with rice that accompanies this dish. (www.trifood.com)


Here's the recipe for those interested in having a go at this devilishly hot dish. Having it with a bunch of friends is so much more enjoyable...reminds me of noisy Chinese hot-pot nights. I do however feel a need to add a tiny warning to those who share bunks/roommates ... digestion of excessive spicy food often creates an unwanted amount of gas during the night *blush* :P
1lb octopus defrosted
1/2 lb frozen tiger prawns
2 onions chopped into thin rings
1 carrot sliced into thin strips (Use a grater for beautiful carrot curls)
1 large pack Golden enoki mushrooms
1 bowl sugar snap peas
1 pack korean rice cake (sticks)
3 stalks mint leaves plucked
2 stalks coriander leaves roughly chopped
1 slab asian fish-cake diced into fairly thin pieces
1-2 tbsp sesame oil for stir-frying

Sauce: 3 tbsp Go chu jang (Korean chilli-paste), 2 large cloves garlic diced fine, 2 heaped tbsps honey, 4 tsp fine chilli powder(less if you like), 2 tbsp sesame powder, salt to taste(about 2 tsp).

Mix all ingredients and combine with washed octopus. Leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
The cooking process is fairly simple. Heat the oil in a electric multi-cooker on medium heat, add onions, fish cake and vegetables. Saute till fragrant and fairly softened. Dump in the octopus mixture and give it a good stir. Pop the lid onto the cooker and leave to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add the prawns in and cook till the seafood is fairly cooked. The sauce should have increased by 1/2. The octopus releases moisture when cooked. When the prawns are pink, add in the rice cake sticks and the green herbs. stir well and replace the lid for another 1-2 minutes. Serve with lots of white steamed Japanese rice/Korean sweet rice or "somen" noodles if you like.I gently blanched and cooked the noodles in boiling anchovies+ garlic stock earlier that evening; ran the strands through cold water and made small noodle servings to go with the spicy octopus broth. I personally prefer having it with noodles...but the boys seemed to like the rice with it too. This dish eaten with Rice is refered to in Korean as "Nak Ji Bo Kum Bop"
Thanks everyone for coming over for dinner...it was a lots of fun, for me at least; I bet it was too for those who've already finished their exams~ *grrr*...I still have that last paper in the morning tomorrow; and it's off to Melbourne for me~~ CANt WAit!! *excitedly skips around the room*

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mee Goreng for anyone who loves noodles!

This is my recipe for an Asian classic - Mee Goreng. It doesn't take too long to cook. A change from the normal instant noodle yeah?

BTW, good luck for anyone who is having exam at the moment! :P


MEE GORENG

Recipe adapted from “Savoring Southeast Asia

Ingredients

300g Hokkien Noodle or Chinese Egg Noodle
3 tbsp og vegetable oil, or as required
1/2 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, chopped
60g bonless, skinless chicken breast or thigh, cut into 6mm pieces
2 eggs
125g large shrimps, peeled and deveined
1 cuo (90g) shredded cabbage
3 pieces of deep-fried tofu, each about 4cm square. Cut into 6mm thick. (Available from Asian shops)
1 tablespoon sambal ulek
2 tablespoons tomato sauce (ketchup)
1 tablespoon sweet soya sauce (kecap manis), or to taste
1 tablespoon lightt soya sauce , or to taste
1 potato, boiled or microwaved, peeled, cooled, and cut into 12-mm cubes
125 g bean sprouts (I omited this)
1 firm tomatoes, cut into 12-mm cubes
2 spring onions, cut into 2.5cm length
1 cumcumber, peeled and thinly sliced
fried shallot (available readily fried at Asian shops)
2 lemons, cut into wedges

Directions

1. Prepare noodle according to package directions, keep warm.
2. Place wok over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add oil, salt and garlic. Stir-fry for about 1 min, or until fragrant.
3. Add the chicken to the wok, stir-fry until the chicken pieces are firm. about 2 mins.
4. Crack the eggs into the wok. Use the head of the spatula to gently break up the yolk. Do NOT beat! Let the egg fry until set, about 1 min. Then, add the shrimp, stir-fry until the shrimp turned orange-pink, about 2 mins.
5. Raise the heat to high, add cabbage, fried tofu, noodles. Toss gently to mix. Add sambal olek, ketchup & the two soy sauces. Mix to coat evenly. Add tomatoes, potatoes, bean sprouts & spring onions. Stir-fry to mix. Adjust seasoning with sweet and light soy sauce. Transfer the noodle to a platter.
6. Garnish with the cumcuber, fried shallots and lemon wedges. Serve immediately.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Brownies!

If you’re a brownies-fan, here’s one recipe you absolutely got to try! Chef Roland's ( White House executive pastry chef) recipe is a killer that can kill two birds with one stone- simple preparation and delicious taste. It’s not difficult to make and require few basic ingredients.

Comment:Well wrapped brownies in plastic wrap, unglazed and uncut will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. Perfect for studies who need a quick chocolate fix! ;p I made 2 styles- one in a mini loaf pan for a friend's birthday and another batch in muffin cups, glazed with chocolate frosting.

Ingredients:
10 Tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt
5 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup pecan pieces

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking tray and line the bottom with parchment paper
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, 2-3 mins. Add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla, salt and cocoa powder and mix well. Beat in the flour until well combined. Stir in the nuts
3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 10 mins.

* For fudgy brownies, remove the pan from the oven and tap it on the counter to make the rising brownies collapse. Return the pan to the oven and bake until firm to touch)
* For cakier brownies, bake 18-20 mins without interruption.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Fettuccini with Spicy Seafood Sauce


I collected this recipe a long time ago, and couldn’t remember the source. You can use this with spaghetti or linguini as well.

Ingredients (s.6)

  1. A generous amount of olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped
  3. 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  4. 2 small red chillies
  5. 600 gram of marinara mix
  6. Two tins of 440g canned tomatoes
  7. ½ cup (125 ml) of water or white wine
  8. ½ cup torn fresh basil
  9. 2/3-1 tablespoon of sugar (depending on the sweetness of your tomatoes)
  10. Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  11. 400 gram of your favorite pasta
  12. A generous amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve
Direction

1. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan, then gently fry onion, garlic and chilli for around 8 mins or till the onion is soft.
2. Add in the tomatoes and the wine (or stock). Simmer, partly cover for around 10 mins.
3. Cook the pasta per direction. Fresh pasta only takes around 4 mins to cook. Drain. Toss with olive oil to prevent sticking.
4. Add seafood to the pan, simmer until just cook. Then, add basil leaves, sugar and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Toss the sauce with the cooked pasta. Arrange into serving dish.
6. Sprinkle with a generous amount of freshly grated parmessan cheese. Serve hot.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hush Puppies

Monthly food magazines often spark creative ideas in my kitchen. They bring to my attention what's fresh, in season, matching herbs/ingredients and educates this little amateur cook about storage, food handling tips and a wide range of various food cultures. This month, the GoodTaste magazine introduced Creole cuisine. I was thrilled!! "Creole" was a new term for me..but as I flipped through the pages I recognized it's native dishes such as the Jambalaya, Cos Chef salad and crab cakes! I've had them before...just never knew where they came from!
A strange learning habit I have is to "Google-it" whenever I craved more information...
I google everything..... i mean...EVERYTHING! LOL
Wikipedia is probably one of my favourites too.
Here are snippets of what they had to say about Creole culture, background, cuisine and its origins.

The term Creole and its cognates in other languages — such as crioulo, criollo, créole, kriolu, criol, kreyol, kriulo, kriol, krio, etc. — have been applied to people in different countries and epochs, with rather different meanings. Those terms are almost always used in the general area of present or former European colonies in other continents, and originally referred to locally-born people with European ancestry. However, this original meaning has often changed over the last five centuries, and in many cases the term has come to designate some distinct local ethnic group — often, but not always, of mixed European and native ancestry.

In Spanish-speaking Latin America, the word criollo (cognate and closest equivalent of Engl
ish Creole) generally refers to people of unmixed European (typically Spanish) descent born in the New World. According to the Spanish caste system, people with European and indigenous origin who possessed 1/8th or less of Amerindian ancestry, were also considered criollos (unlike people with mainly European and some black African ancestry, who were deemed to be mulatto or mixed-raced regardless of their percentage of white ancestry). In any case, the expression Spanish American criollo is only applicable to people born in the New World. Throughout the colonial period, a caste system was effectively in force, where the local-born criollos ranked strictly lower than governing peninsulares ("born in the Iberian Peninsula"), despite both being of European ancestry. By the 19th century, this discrimination eventually led the criollo to rebel against the Spanish rule. With the support of the even lower classes — castizos, mestizos, cholos, mulattos, amerindians, zambos, and ultimately blacks — they engaged Spain in the Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821) and the South American Wars of Independence (1810–1826), which ended with the break-up of former Spanish Empire in America into a number of independent republics.

The word Creole may refer to

  • a person of Spanish (or French or Portuguese) ancestry but born in one of the Spanish (or French) colonies, as opposed to a Spaniard (or Frenchman or Portuguese) born in Spain (or France or Portugal)any of the Creole peoples,
  • a number of distinct ethnic groups in various countriesa creole language
  • casual reference to mean "pertaining to New Orleans" or aspects of its culture
What I love about Creole cuisine is its fusion of tantalizing flavours from French, Spanish and African influences. It reminds me of food-from-home (Malaysia) where it's a jumbled combination of Malay, Chinese and Indian flavours. The cultures, food preparation techniques and eating etiquettes are so different, but yet the different flavours have been carefully and creatively harmonized to create a separate cuisine type of its own. According to the magazine, Creole food originated from New Orleans. A huge pat on the back for the creative geniuses whove finally came up with something made from Polenta that I LOVE! ....seriously...like WOW... Those who have been following my torturous attempts of learning to enjoy polenta through the many months will probably understand. TRY THIS RECIPE! ....I'm not kidding.....I was blown away.... *wink*
HUSH PUPPIES
2/3 cup fine grain polenta
1/3 cup plain flour
1 tbs cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 green shallots finely chopped
1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
1 egg
1/3 cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil to deep fry.
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add egg, milk and beat lightly with a balloon whisk to combine. Heat oil in a deep saucepan on medium heat. Dash in 2-3 grains of salt to check for a fizzle when the oil is hot enough. Reduce your stove flames a little and carefully drop spoonfuls of batter into the oil 3-4 at a time (Don't overcrowd your pan). Flip them gently in the oil till theyre golden and crisp. Should take less than 5 minutes each turn. Soak excess oil on a paper towel. Serve piping hot!

....and if you're eating with Malaysian students...drench the pile in maggi chilli sauce *MMmMmmmmm* HAha! ... this household is hopelessly Malaysian to the core. *blush*

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"Pizza Pie"

Alright, alright! The so-called pizza pie is actually called Neapolitan Torte with Cured Meat and Mozzarella. The Italian name is Torta Salata – meaning saled torte. I think the name is too long and troublesome to remember so the simplified name was born :).

I am not quite sure that the recipe here is authentic. It is from Tobie Puttok – head chef of Fiften Melbourne. If you are in Australia, I am sure you have heard of the TV show Jamie’s Kitchen. Basically, after the success of his Fifteen Restaurant in London, Amsterdam and Cornwall, Jamie headed to Melbourne to train 15 unemployed and troubled young people to become professional chefs. Of course Jamie has his own life in England so the Melbourne franchise is run by his Australian mate, Tobie. The restaurant, located in Collin Street, opened in late October this year. With the popularity of the show on Channel 10 network, it has been booked out till January! Apparently the reservation for March 2007 is now open…!

I want to try this restaurant out but the wait is just too long!!! So, seeing some recipes published by Tobie for an article in The Australian Gourmet Traveller, I decided to try one out! These recipes are said to be the “taste of what to expect”! Certainly a novice like me cannot cook up to a restaurant standards but I am still keen on what FIFTEEN has to offer…

Thus came the so-called pizza pie! I admit I had fun making and eating it. The torte was nice and lovely. Perhaps the reason is I love cheese, and the main ingredient is fresh mozzarella :). Of course looking at the pic, you can say that I have a lot to improve on working with dough. My torte looks like a valley surrounded by a range of mountain! Plus since I used a 23-cm springform cake pan instead of the recommended 20-cm pan, it looked kinda short compared with the picture in the magazine! This is one of the reasons why I call it pizza pie (^_^)!

I guess I should save up some money to go to FIFTEEN when I can get the reservation done!

Neapolitan Torte with Cured Meat and Mozzarella (or Pizza Pie :P)

The recipe is taken from The Australian Gourmet Traveller October 2006. Note that you can use ready-made frozen puff pastry to speed it up!

Ingredients

Fillings:

6-8 large vine-ripened tomatoes (around 1 kg), peeled and seeds removed

300 gram buffalo mozzarella, coarsely torn

¾ cup basil leaves, coarsely torn

200 gram cured meat – choose from salami, prosciutto and bresaola

40 gm finely grated parmesan cheese

1 egg, lightly beaten

The dough:

7 gm dry active yeast

Pinch of white sugar

500 gm plain flour

4 eggs

150 gm butter, softened

Method:

  1. For dough: combine yeast, sugar and 1/3 cup of warm water in a bowl and stir until smooth. Stand for 5 mins or until foamy. Sieve flour into a mixing bowl, add a pinch of salt and make a well in the middle. Add the yeast mixture, eggs and butter to flour and use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients. Turn the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 mins or until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press to expel air. Remove a third of the dough and set aside. Roll larger piece out to 5-mm thick and use to line base and side of a greased and floured 20cm springform pan, leaving excess to over hang.
  3. Coarsely crush the tomatoes and blot on absorbent paper. Layer mozzarella, cured meat, tomatoes and basil leaves in pan. Seasoning each layer with freshly ground black pepper. Finish the layer with mozzarella and top up the final layer with parmesan.
  4. Roll remaining dough out on a lightly floured surface to a 23cm circle. Brush edges with egg wash, then place over pan, pressing to seal, trimming excess with sharp knife. Cover and stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until risen. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200C.
  5. Brush top of the torte with remaining egg wash and bake for 20-30 mins or until golden. Serve immediately.
This is my first contribution to Student on a Budget! :) Nice to be here! Hm, I'm not quite sure that the pizza pie is a cheap dish. You have to buy fresh mozzarella & fresh parmessan, which can be quite dear... But it truly worths it! :) I bought my cheese from the deli section in Victoria Market.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Zucchini Slice



I finally got this recipe right!

Ingredients

Olive Oil
2 Zucchinis
150g Mozarella Cheese
1 Onion
300g Streaky Bacon
3 Eggs
2 Large Tomatoes
1 cup (150g) Self Raising Flour

What to do

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2. Get hold a large and fairly deep baking dish. Brush the sides and base with olive oil.

3. Grate the zucchini and mozarella. Place in a large bowl.

4. Chop the onion and bacon as finely as possible. Place both in the bowl with the zucchini and mozarella.

5. Add the flour to the bowl.

6. Whisk the eggs then add to the bowl. Add the eggs to the mixture then season with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt because the bacon already makes it quite salty.

7. Mix everything together. It's a bit of a pain at this point in time because of the flour but don't give up. If you get a bit pissy (i.e. me), use your hands. It always works. Your mixture should look like this:


8. Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish.

9. Chop up the tomatoes then lay the sliced tomatoes on top of the mixture. Drizzle some olive oil over the top.

10. Place the mixture in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is evenly brown.

Top Tips:

Never, NEVER compromise on the bacon. Streaky bacon (bacon with streaks of fat) is the way to go because it will make your zucchini slice really tasty. But if you're still waist-conscious, just put in 150g of streaky bacon.

Enjoy and don't share with your friends if you love it too much.





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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Mochi

Mochi....squishy, adorable tiny lumps of sweet gooey goodness!My first encounter with mochi was at a Japanese supermarket in Malaysia where candy and all sorts of snacks were sold. Being young and curious about all things "cute" I purchased a tray of 6 pretty pink mochi. I couldn't read the Japanese labels and didn't have a clue what they were filled with or even if they were sweet or savory. I didn't really care;...they were soft, round and cute; I was sold! *laughs*
I dusted the tasteless excess flour off the surface and took a satisfying bite right thru the center. Red bean paste!!! It's been my favorite mochi filling since.

Mochi is the Japanese variant of Chinese rice cake, which, like its Chinese origin, is made of glutinous rice, pounded into paste and molded into shape; however, unlike the Chinese variety, it is molded right after it is pounded, whereas the Chinese variety is baked once again after to solidify the mixture as well as sanitize it. Traditionally in Japan, it is made in a ceremony called mochitsuki. It may also be made in an automatic mochi machine, similar to a breadmaker. In fact, mochi can be made using a breadmaker if the rice is soaked and steamed separately and the machine can be started in a kneading mode. In Korea, a nearly identical food is called chapssaltteok . chapssal meaning "sticky rice," and is also spelled tteok, duk, dduk, duek, or d'uk. (wikipedia)
I had my first attempt at homemade mochi today....it doesn't take more than 10 minutes to make...but forming 6 perfect little round mounds could possibly take more than 30 painful minutes. Fellow Malaysian chefs who find "onde-onde" difficult to make...I suggest you get your mochi from the asian grocer. Haha. It's STICKY...and difficult...I personally feel im alright with handling all sorts of dough, cookie doughs, soft pastes, dumpling making, pastry dough kneading and the like, but making mochi is a different category all together. I wasn't exaggerating with the word sticky in bold....even with fingers, work surface, spoons and palms dusted with tapioca flour, I had difficulties keeping everything neat, pretty and ROUND! Out of frustration, I whipped out my mini muffin pan, dusted it with flour and pushed hot filled mochi's into tiny holes *proud grin* I love how resourceful I am *wink*
1 cup glutinous rice flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup castor sugar
food colouring (if you like)
Pre/home made red bean paste cooked in syrup(store in refrigerator to make it easier to roll)
Beat all ingredients in a bowl with a balloon whisk till free of lumps. The mixture should be runny and pale. Pour mixture into a silicone loaf mold and cover with clingfilm. Cook in Microwave on high for 3 1/2 minutes. Remove and tear off cling wrap. Leave to cool for 1-2 minutes before handling. Dust hands GENEROUSLY with potato flour/tapioca flour before handling hot mochi. Make round balls of ready made red bean paste and set aside to make wrapping and filling more convenient.
Dust rolled and filled mochi's with a light dusting of flour before storing. I placed mine onto pretty paper doilys and made tiny parcels of mochi with some ribbon.Tip: use a clean and dry paint brush to dust off excess flour from surface to neaten.

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