Friday, May 28, 2010

Spring rolls - Vietnamese Style

When I was in Ho Chi Minh city a couple of years back, I tried almost everything under the sun. From deep fried snake skin to stir fried crocodile, I found the underbelly of Vietnamese cuisine fascinating with a little touch of mystique. I mean, they had entire birds and snakes trapped in a bottles of whiskey which supposedly cured a variety of ailments from rheumatism to impotency.

While I bought a small bottle of cobra-whiskey as a keepsake, don't ask me whether it does the trick. It still sits on my souvenir shelf in case I suffer one of those ailments in the future.

Back to the Vietnamese cuisine however, spring rolls were definitely a favourite for me next to the ubiquitous pho noodles. In fact, i enjoyed spring rolls so much that i brought home four large packets of rice papers which I had initially thought would be unavailable back home. However, rice paper being one of Vietnam's chief contribution to the culinary world, i found it readily available at my supermarket though it was of a smaller size than the ones i saw in Vietnam.

Vietnamese spring rolls are simple to do although the wrapping part takes a little bit of skill which unfortunately I have little to no talent for. While i do not follow the exact ingredients required for a proper Vietnamese springrolls, i still found it pretty much authentic (as i remembered). When i made some for my friends at a home dinner, they pretty much gobbled everything down in record time.


1 pack of rice paper
20g glass noodles -soaked in hot water
300g grey prawns - shelled
basil leaves - shredded
local lettuce or butterhead lettuce
bird's eye chilli - diced

Boil prawns in salt and water
Wet rice paper individually.
Place a small portion of glass noodles, lettuce, basil and two prawns on moist rice paper and wrap
except chilli and fishsauce.
Make spicy fish sauce dip.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Thin Crust Pepperoni Pizza Sunday

After a great family picnic on Saturday and shopping for kitchenware with my mom on Sunday, I was determined to end my weekend with a blast. And so I decided to make a pizza from scratch. No frozen dough, no canned pizza sauce. It was already 7pm and I could see my mom looking rather doubtful that i could churn out a pizza for dinner in time. I remembered when I was young, my mom seemed to take an entire day to make a couple of pizzas.

So, with an evil and competitive gleam in my eye, I started working on making the pizza like a cheetah on steroids. In just one hour 30 minutes, I had strained, mixed, kneaded, diced, sauteed, tossed, baked and served two thin crust pan pizzas and a fat crust pizza. That even included the resting time for the dough which had surprisingly cooperated by doubling in size in just 45 minutes. Embarrassingly, i did forget a minor but crucial step in the process.. Greasing the pan. But it turned out fine though it needed a little 'persuasion' with a knife to get it off the pan.

As a surprise, I ran over with a pan pizza (the one without olives) over to my little cousin's place as a little treat since it was her birthday today. It's always pleasant to make kids smile and squeal in delight when you show up with a little something for them.

This weekend was pretty nice, having stayed at home most of the time and having to cook a huge variety of dishes for my mom's birthday on Saturday. I truly enjoy cooking. Maybe i did miss my calling to be a cook. No matter, as long as i get to preside over the stove with a spatula in hand, i'll always be happy :)


Pizza Dough -

follow bread recipe with 500 gm of flour but after letting the dough rest until doubled in size , knead and roll into a thin round shape and lay onto GREASED pan.

150g minced beef or meat of choice
1 can tomato puree
1 pack pepperoni slices
1 green pepper - diced
1 large onion - diced
2 cloves garlic - diced
1/2 cup olives
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
black pepper
mozzarella cheese
1 egg

Sautee minced meat, black pepper, dried oregano and salt in olive oil. Add in tomato puree followed shortly by green pepper, onion and garlic. Leave to cool.
Spread sauce and pepperoni over pizza. Brush exposed pizza crust with beaten egg.
Bake at 175 degrees Celcius for 15 -20 minutes or until the crust has turned a nice golden brown.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Big Fat Cheeseburger

It has always been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Watching the Asian Food Channel, I often see celebrities from Jamie Oliver to Anna Olsen promoting healthy breakfasts and gushing like over-enthusiastic property agents over how fantastically healthy and nutritious their muesli based breakfasts or wholemeal pancakes are. Well, screw all that. I’m a man and I need a massive dose of man-food early on in the morning. It’s meat for me in the morning. No sissy grains and cereals or diarrhea inducing milk products. Give me beef, chicken or mutton. Rabbits? Yeah, that’ll do too.

One of my favourite homemade breakfast is a cheeseburger. I’m not talking about those sissy little things that Mcdonalds serve. I’m talking about 200g of fat, juicy homemade beef patty doused in olives, mustard and jalapenos with a thick slice of melting mozzarella tucked between two lightly toasted buns.

Seriously people, don’t bother buying those rip off burger patties at the supermarkets. Those thin sawdust-tasting patties are pathetic. It’s much more worth it making your own patties. Make a stack of em, freeze em and you’ll have a ready supply of thick fat burgers at your disposal.



300g fresh minced beef

4 slices of toasted bread, crumbled

1 red onion – diced

2 cloves garlic - diced

1 egg

¼ cup olive oil


Black pepper

1 tbsp cornflour

50g butter

2 tbsp Worchester sauce (optional)

4 hamburger buns

Mozzarella cheese




Mix all the patty ingredients together in a big bowl and form a large ball.

Refrigerate for two hours

Separate the ingredients into 4 thick patties

You can either fry the patty in a hot pan or grill it in the oven.

It’s as simple as that. I don’t have to tell you how to put the patty into the bread, do I?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Brown Rice Virgin

Overtime til 9pm, came back and went for a short run til 10.30pm followed by a fruitless search throughout the entire apartment block for my tortoise which had disappeared. Probably crawled out the main door and got picked up by someone.. Sigh. Hope she's in a good place now.

Exhausted, I simply wanted to jump into bed and surrender to the angels waiting for me in my dreams. Yet with my growling stomach a decibel louder than my alarm clock, i forced myself to cook up something. Actually, i didn't know what the hell i was thinking when i took out the brown rice from the cupboard.

I had never eaten or cooked brown rice before. I didn't even know whether it tasted good or would simply end up a horrid brown-blackish thing i can't scrape out of my saucepan. I didn't really give a damn. Without knowing a single recipe for brown rice or even knowing how to cook it, i took the shot.

First I sauteed some chopped shallots and garlic in olive oil. Once caramelised, i tossed in a cup of brown rice and 3 cups of water. I replaced the lid and let it simmer right up to the point where it looked nice and moist. I tossed in a large dollop of salted butter and stirred it in. Once i dished up my portion on the plate, i grated a chunk of mozzarella cheese over it, threw in a quick salad, black pepper and preserved sliced olives. Done.

I found it to be quite a pleasant dinner although its probably more suited as a light lunch. The rice had a nice starchy and sticky texture that was easy to swallow. The olives added a nice salty touch while the black pepper added the kick i enjoy in any dish. At the very least, its healthy stuff. Especially after my lung busting, leg cramming run. Right now, all i need is sleep. At least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Good Nite people...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cooking Lesson for Dean

The past week has all been about work, work and work. Cooking wise, I've not been able to accomplish much as I was pretty much shagged out after work.

Saturday however heralded the end of schooling life for one of my best friends, Dean. I conned him into coming over, telling him to have dinner at my place before heading out for our regular guys night out. So he was pretty much surprised when I told him I hadn't done anything much. Instead, I was going to teach him how to cook and prepare the dish I had in mind.

Dean's Cookery Profile
- refused to take cooking classes in school because he thought it was unmanly.
- aglio olio is the pinnacle of his cooking capability (courtesy of his gf)
- ability to turn instant pizza into burnt carbonized cardboard

The menu for that day was Seared Kingfish with Greens and Beef Salsa with sides of nachos and freshly baked white bread. The kingfish was still fresh, having been caught and immediately frozen less than a week earlier by me. to make things easier, I had already prepared the bread dough as well as the salsa earlier on . Searing the kingfish and the greens was Dean's task.

At first, watching Dean peel off the skin of the shallots and slice the asparagus was like watching grass grow. Yeah, it was that slow. The first fish steak went in perfectly, though later I found it slightly undercooked with the flesh still slightly pink in the centre. Before the second steak could go in however, the shallots and butter being sauteed in the pan turned black and had to be thrown away and additional shallots had to be diced.

Fortunately, everything turned out fine (and edible) and I had to say we had quite a fun and interesting experience on that day. Teaching a friend to cook is fun and definitely a great bonding experience. As for the purpose of this blog, I realized that it's not about showing off the dishes I've done to the world but to share with the world how fun cooking actually can be.