Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Simple Prawn Noodles

Last night, I suddenly had the urge to make prawn noodles for my family. I didn't want to check one of my cookbooks for the recipe instead I decided to just 'wing it'. To me, it's always fun to just try cooking without having to keep referring to a recipe book. It keeps my creative juices flowing and more often than not, I'm pleasantly surprised by the results. You only need the knowledge of how each ingredient taste and whether they can complement each other.

This simple prawn noodles is simple (duh) and mild tasting compared to the MSG and spice loaded prawn noodles at the hawker centre . Preparation and cooking time took less than 20 mins and when served with sliced chilli padi in fish sauce, its absolutely great during this rainy weather.

In my dish, I replaced fresh prawns with frozen shelled prawns. It's not because they don't taste better, just that I'm too lazy today to peel the fresh ones. Don't judge me...I have my lazy days too, ok...


1 pack Yellow Hokkien Noodles
300g Prawns
8 to 12 fishballs
1 small red onion - diced
2 shallots - diced
1 spring onion - diced
1 clove garlic - sliced
3 tbsp veg oil
800ml of water
white pepper


fish sauce
bird's eye chilli (chilli padi)
fried fish cakes

Saute red onion, shallots and garlic in oil in a stock pot until fragrant.
Add in prawns and spring onions.
When prawns are orange in color, add in fishballs.
Pour in water and season with salt and pepper to taste.
To prepare the noodles, simply scald in boiling water.
Serve with the garnishes

Simple isn't it? It actually takes less time to cook it up than to head down to my local hawker centre to buy it. Provided of course you have all the ingredients at home.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sambal Fried Chicken

A little Intro

Accepting criticism of my cooking is always difficult. The one person who has always been critiquing my dishes with lots of enthusiasm and without mercy is my mom.

Like how she knocked on my door at 9am on a Sunday morning to complain that the crust on my raisin bread I made the night before is too hard. Or how inedible my Thai inspired basil chicken dish was.

And now to the good part. My mom raved about the sambal chicken being one of the best she had ever eaten. And that is a very meaningful compliment as my sambal dishes used to be criticised as being improperly cooked or being too dry.

Sambal Fried Chicken

Malays love spiciness in any dish. Trust me, I know. Virtually most Malays I know have a ready stash of red hot chillies in the fridge to add that additional kick to a dish. Sambal fried chicken is indeed a spicy dish. While the list of ingredients for the sambal is a little long, you will definitely feel that its worth the effort when that first piece of chicken enters your mouth. Sure, it's oily and packed with calories that you really don't need but the important thing is: It's Good!


8 pcs chicken wings

1 small red onion - diced*
2 shallots - diced*
2 cloves garlic - sliced*
1 cm slice of ginger - finely sliced*
1 cm cube shrimp paste (belachan)*
2 tbsp assam paste - mixed in 1/4 cup of water*
1 candlenut - crushed*

1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup tomato puree
1 cup chilli paste
1 cup of oil
1 stalk lemongrass
fresh coriander for garnishing

Rub the chicken wing with salt and deep fry them in hot oil for about 2 mins. The chicken will not be thoroughly cooked but its ok. Remove from oil and set aside.

Heat half cup of oil in a pan.
Fry onion, shallot, garlic and ginger until fragrant.
Then mix in the shrimp paste, assam paste, candlenut and lemongrass.
Stir fry for 1 minute before adding in the other half cup of oil, tomato puree and chilli paste.
Cover and lower the heat to low-med and let simmer for approximately 15mins or until chilli turns a darker red.
Add in the chicken wings and remove the cover, allowing it to simmer for another 5 mins.
Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with white rice.
Serves 4

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Genius behind El Bulli: Chef Ferran Adria

To the uninformed, the name Ferran Adria would be meaningless. But to chefs around the world, Ferran Adria is a name synonymous with genius. Ferran Adria is to cooking as Picasso is to art or Gaudi is to architecture. Maybe cooking is too crude a word to use for his culinary innovations. He is an inventor with the ability to bewilder even his fellow peers with his culinary creations.

In fact, his restaurant 'El Bulli' opens only for 6 months in a year where they receive up to two million reservations of which only 8000 people would be lucky enough to get a table. He has three Michelin stars to his name, the maximum any chef could be awarded.

I was fortunate enough to secure one of the 150 seats at the World Gourmet Summit to attend a talk by Chef Ferran Adria about the future of his restaurant. Initially, I felt a little out of place in the theater where almost everyone seemed at least a decade older than me and were mostly food industry leaders and chefs.

Once Chef Adria started talking however, I was totally absorbed into another world. His video clips of the technical preparation of different dishes into wondrous spectacles of the senses were breathtaking. How he turned ordinary dark chocolate into a stunningly detailed tree made half the audience in the theater gasp in amazement. The simplicity in how he made a coconut dessert in the shape of an ostrich egg astounded me.

In fiction, you have Willy Wonka. In real life you have Ferran Adria. I still hold out some hope that one day, I will be able to go to El Bulli and taste his creations. With less than 1% chance of securing a table, I believe soon will be a good time to start placing my reservations.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

French Bread

I remember when I was in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, I saw baguettes being sold almost everywhere. I learnt then that baguettes are a legacy of the French colonials of the past. well, the French bread i made didn't look much like the long golden brown baguettes you see at the shops but its just as good in its taste.

I'm now thinking of doing up some French onion soup tomorrow to accompany the bread. Would be absolutely delicious. Time for a market excursion tomorrow...

Roast Herb Chicken

Anthony Bourdain said in his iconic book 'Kitchen Confidential' that Chefs regard people who order chicken as being undecided about what to eat. Well, i beg to differ. Roast chicken is definitely one of my favourite dishes. The best I've tasted is at Barcelos, a dedicated chicken fast food restaurant at Vivocity.

Today, I did a simple roast chicken meal complete with potato and olive salad. The results was a flavorful roast chicken with crispy skin on its outside and tender white flesh on the inside. The recipe is almost too simple for it to be resulting in such a delicious meal. Couple the dish with fresh home made bread to soak up the sinfully oily chicken fats and I guarantee you a coronary in 5 years.


1 chicken - halved.
50g butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg yolk
2 cloves garlic

Potato Salad Ingredients
5 potatoes - skinned and diced into bite sized pieces*
1/2 cup marinated olives
mixed herbs
2 stalks celery- sliced
50g butter
3 tbsp olive oil

Rub the chicken with garlic. Then coat with oil, salt, butter and dill
Leave it marinate for 2 hours.

Heat oven to 175 degrees Celcius
Mix all potato salad ingredients except celery in a bowl and wrap inside aluminium foil.
Place in oven until potatoes are thoroughly cooked (you can test by piercing with a fork). Add in the celery and cook for a further 5 mins.
Brush the chicken over with the egg yolk and place in oven for 30 mins or until golden brown.
Don't waste the chicken fats on the tray, pour it into the salad for the extra ZING!
Serves 4.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Seafood fried rice

I opened the freezer today and apart from some ice cubes, I had only a couple of squid left. Last weekend had been terribly hectic for me so I didn't find any time to go to the market to stock up. Racking my brain on how to use the squid, I figured that the best way to stretch the two squids into a family sized meal was to make seafood fried rice.

Usually, i don't like to eat fried rice. However, I make an exception for my own cooking and the superb belachan fried rice at Chinatown cooked by a former army barber turned hawker transvestite. Oh yes, you read that right....

The seafood fried rice turned out to be excellent with the rice infused with the squid. If you have prawns, toss it in as i believe it would taste even better.


4 cups of cooked rice
2 squid, sliced into rings
1/2 red onion - diced
2 shallots - diced
2 garlic cloves - diced
1 cm cube prawn paste (belachan)
1 cube Knorrs Chicken Stock - mashed in water
2 tbsp chilli paste
1/2 cup oil
2 bird's eye chilli
coriander leaf

Heat oil in wok. Add in onion, shallots and garlic.
Once fragrant, add in the chicken stock cube, chilli paste, prawn paste and salt.
Stir fry over medium heat for 5 mins.
Add in the sliced squid and cook until the squid has turned an opaque white.
Before the rice goes in, you might want to taste test first to check the saltiness level.
Finally toss in the rice and stir fry for another 5 to10 mins under high heat.
Garnish with sliced chilli and coriander leaf and there you have it.. Excellent Seafood Fried Rice!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My virgin Bread attempt

There are two heavenly food smell that I especially enjoy. One is the shameless 'Free Smells' marketing gimmick by Famous Amos where I would often end up buying a heck load of cookies. The other is the smell of fresh bread baking at the bakery.

Last night saw me attempting to bake my very own herb bread which ended up pretty fantastic. I couldn't be bothered to actually follow the recipe from the book as it seemed too much work so I improvised. Starting at 1am in the morning and the bread came out of the oven at 4.30am, smelling like a slice of heaven itself. In a split second, I was scarfing down a piping hot slice like a hungry Somali refugee.

The bread was slightly on the dense side with an agreeable crunchy crust. With a fat slice of cheddar and a thick slice of steak sandwiched in between a couple of slices of this bread, eating at Subway is never going to be the same again.


1 packet of dry yeast (11g)
500g of bread flour
300ml warm water
salt (fine)
mixed herbs

Mix the warm water with the yeast. Make sure the water is not too hot or it will kill the yeast.
Sieve the flour and salt together into a big bowl. Add in the yeast mixture, pepper and herbs and mix with a wooden spoon until it becomes a sticky dough ball.
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave for 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celcius
After letting the dough rise, mix in a little flour into the mixture and start to knead the dough for 10 mins. All the time, keep adding in flour until the mixture becomes non-sticky.
Place it into a clean bowl and cover for another 10 minutes.
Finally place dough onto greased pan and place in oven for 30 mins.


You can add olives and sun-dried tomatoes to the bread to make it even better tasting.
For a glistening golden crust, brush the bread with beaten egg yolk before baking.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Diabetic's Nightmare

So I had a cooking disaster today. No, my kitchen didn't catch on fire and I still have all my ten fingers.

Instead I made the most diabolically sweet dessert that would send diabetics screaming and running for their insulin shots. Using some leftover sweet potato and bananas, I blended both of them together and added..(drum roll)... Gerber's Banana and Strawberry puree baby food! Please don't ask why... It's those moments of warped inspirations.

I then poured the puree into 3 inch moulds and tossed them into the oven for 20mins.

When it caramelized, i placed the 'cake' into a bowl and poured in my bubor cha cha sauce. Then, a big fat dollop of ice cream right on top with some chopped almonds.. I'm not very good at counting calories or sugar intake but one taste of that and i had an image flash in my mind of myself twenty years down the road in a wheelchair without a foot.

I'm having salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner tomorrow. Oh, at least I get to name this dish. I'm calling it Dean's Dessert' or in short, the 'Double D.' Oh, how I love double entrendes... XD

Bubor Cha Cha

Everytime I hear the name bubor cha cha being mentioned, I think of the person who invented that name. What the heck was that person thinking pairing such a delicious dessert with such a clownish name? It must be a woman who named this dish. No guy worth his pride will ever name his creation ‘cha cha’. Fine, call me a chauvinist for that statement...

Anyway, this is my take on the popular bubor cha cha with focus on presentation. If you look at the original dish, its literally chunks of sweet potato and yam in coconut sauce. It's not very appealing to look at. So this is my attempt in transforming traditional 'kampung' fare into an appetizing gourmet delight.


-2 Bananas
-2 Sweet Potatoes
-200ml thick coconut milk
-500ml water
-2 stalks of Pandanus leaves
-80g palm sugar (Gula Melaka) – hammered into small pieces
-1 cube dark chocolate
-sprinkling of chopped almonds

Skin sweet potatoes and slice into circular shapes.
Steam the sweet potatoes until soft.
Slice bananas and place into steamer along with the sweet potatoes. Steam for another 5 minutes before removing from heat.
In the meantime, heat the coconut milk and water in a saucepan over medium heat.
Add in the Pandanus leaves first and let simmer for 2 minutes before adding in the palm sugar.
Let simmer while stirring until boiling point and leave to cool. Do not overcook the coconut milk.
Arrange the sweet potatoes and bananas as shown in the picture. Pour in the sauce.
Grate the dark chocolate on top and sprinkle the almonds.
For greater nirvana, nothing beats a dollop of vanilla ice cream right smack on top.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Coconut Rice with Seafood Sambal (Nasi Lemak)

I was supposed to be posting this at ard 8pm but I was so full after dessert and the rain outside so cooling and calming that I slept right after dinner. Woke up just in time for Asian Food Channel's Iron Chef program where today a Thai Royal Chef battled with the Japanese Iron Chef.

Earlier, I was supposed to eat out but its always awkward eating out alone. So I decided to go home and cook up a favourite local dish, Nasi Lemak or Coconut rice. Almost everyone in Singapore is unanimous on where the best nasi lemak is. Changi Village of course. Which is also famous for its transvestite population. Umm...Moving on...

Nasi Lemak usually has fried chicken wings accompanying the dish but I planned for the sambal to be so loaded with seafood that I didn't feel it necessary to fry up chicken wings (Apart from the fact I forgot to thaw them).

There are two parts to this recipe. First up is the rice.

Coconut rice Ingredients:
- 2 cups white rice
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 stalk pandanus leaf (if not available, use 3 drops pandan extract)

Wash the rice once. Pour in the coconut milk, water, salt and pandanus leaf.
Place in rice cooker and let simmer til cooked.

Seafood Sambal Ingredients:
- 1 cup chilli paste
- 2 shallots - diced
- 1 red onion - diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1cm knob of prawn paste (belachan) - made into a wet paste with 3 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp assam paste - made into wet paste with 3 tbsp water
- 2 large squids - cut into rings.
- 300g prawns - shelled
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Heat the oil in a wok on high heat.
Fry shallots, garlic and onion until fragrant.
Add in the prawn paste and assam paste. It will sizzle but its ok.
Once there is a pungent smell from the prawn paste, pour in the chilli paste. Add in salt and sugar.
Cover, reduce the heat and leave to simmer. It is important for the chilli paste to be thoroughly cooked.
Generally it take 15 mins on medium heat.
Once the chilli has turned a darker red, add in the seafood.
Leave to simmer for another 10 mins before removing from heat.

As you can see in the photo I served it with a side of cucumber slices and sliced boiled egg. The sambal has already been modified from the original and much more complex Malay recipe. I know the recipe is still a little complicated and takes around 45 mins but its well worth the effort.

Good luck if you ever try this recipe.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Quickee Chicken Salad

First of all, let me make it clear that I'm not really into the healthy diet mambo-jambo that the Health Promotion Board is pushing. But after exploring the bottomless abyss that my fridge is, I found some interesting ingredients sufficient to make a chicken salad for lunch. I also found fit to use the breadcrumbs I had left from my dessert the day before.


- 4 slices chicken breasts
- dash of dry dill
- black pepper
- salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 50g butter
- whole meal bread crumbs
- 1 butterhead lettuce
- 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
- handful of raisins

Marinate the chicken breasts in oil, dill, pepper and salt. (for best results, leave it for half an hour)
Coat it in whole meal bread crumbs.
Toss in a tbsp of olive oil in the pan with the butter over medium heat.
Once the butter has melted, slide in the chicken breasts. Cook until lightly browned.
The pan now has residual chicken flavours that will go wasted.Instead, toss in a few tbsp of water and the raisins over low heat.
The raisins will absorb the chicken stock and moisten. (Amazingly, I learned this concept from Roald Dahl's 'The Champion of the World'.)
Slice the chicken breasts and prepare the salad as shown in the picture.
This salad goes well with balsamic dressing which I happen to have in my fridge.

I guess its a very healthy dish if not for the chunk of butter i tossed in to make the chicken breasts taste even better. The dish took me less than 15 minutes to do so if you're in a rush, you should try out this dish. Whatever it is, having such a healthy meal for lunch gives me the green light to pig out for dinner at the hawker centre.

Apple Sauce Ice Cream

I love apple pie. I simply can't get enough of the dish that has warm apple filling oozing out of a shortcrust pastry and topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Grate a little bit of dark chocolate over the ice cream and it's absolutely heavenly.

While I suddenly had the craving for apple pie today, I didn't have the patience to be rolling out shortcrust pastry at a moment's notice. Instead, i thought up an apple pie substitute and tested it out. While its technically not apple sauce, I like that name for this recipe.

What i did was to layer toasted bread crumbs, apple filling and ice cream in a glass and voila... A simple yet spectacular dessert. I am so making this again.

For the apple filling, you need:
-4 green apples, skinned, cored and diced.
-2 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp cinnamon powder
-5 tablespoon sugar
-half cup sultanas or raisins
-a knob of butter (ard 50g)

For the base, you need:
-2 slices of bread, toasted to a crisp, then crushed to little crumbs

- Vanilla ice cream
- A cube of dark chocolate

Just melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and pour in the diced green apples, cinnamon, sugar and sultanas. Pour in a little water to prevent the apple to becoming too dry and let it simmer until the apple turns soft. Leave to cool for half an hour.

Pour in the bread crumbs into a glass followed by the apple sauce.Then throw in a scoop of vanilla ice cream and top it off by grating some dark chocolate over the ice cream.

Try it out! For some variations, you can replace apples and cinnamon with strawberries instead.

What this blog is about.

One of the greatest literary figures in the 20th century once wrote, 'One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.'

Indulging in food is one of the greatest pleasures in my life. I have had the fortunate luck and opportunity to travel to many places around the world sampling the different cuisines each country had to offer. From having piping hot takoyaki on a street in Kyoto to paella marisco in a little marketplace in Barcelona, I enjoyed many of the experiences and gradually learned some of the recipes to dish out from my very own kitchen.

I profess i am no chef. Far from it. My interest in cooking started when i was in secondary school. I was the only male student in my class to take cooking courses. I was pretty good at it though I did not score too well during the final cooking exam as my oven happened to break down halfway through baking my strudel (and i didn't realize it til two minutes before the end) .

Even now, i still screw up in the kitchen and my culinary experiments often do go awry. But I take it as a learning experience and fortunately, my greatest asset in those moments of failure is my brother whose tastebuds seem to be unable to distinguish between charcoal and actual food.

Being Asian, I will try do up some Asian specialties as i go along. What is certain is that I will try to share as much of my food experiences as possible whether through recipes I try or a restaurant I visit. Thanks for reading and I hope you have fun looking through my blog.

Note: I'd like to credit the creation of this blog to my friend, Chi Anh, who inspired me through her own blog at