Saturday, July 14, 2012

Thai chicken tom yum noodle soup

Not your usual tom yum noodle soup, but the ultimate comfort food for a cold winter's night. 

The marinade for the chicken was mostly an experiment and the quantities can be varied. I was also out of coconut milk but found some shredded coconut in my pantry - it worked surprisingly well!

  • 200g chicken thigh, sliced
  • 2 baby (or 1 medium) capsicums, sliced
  • 10 small button mushrooms, quartered
  • 200g dried egg noodles
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar, grated
  • 2 tbsp coriander, chopped
  • 1 tbsp basil, chopped
  • 2 stalks spring onion, chopped
  • 1 chilli, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 tbsp tom yum paste
  • 1/2 cup cream (ideally, use coconut cream or coconut milk)
  • chicken stock
  • vegetable oil
  • salt

  • Combine sugar, coriander, basil, spring onion, garlic, chilli, ginger, shredded coconut, 2 tablespoons of oil, fish sauce and lime juice. Blitz until a rough paste forms. Pour mixture over chicken and massage paste into chicken pieces. Leave to marinate for at least 10 minutes.
  • Cook egg noodles according to packet instructions. Drain and portion into large bowls.
  • Heat oil in a wok and fry chicken until browned and aromatic. Add a little water to help the chicken cook through. When chicken is cooked, add capsicum and toss through chicken. Remove chicken  and capsicum from wok with tongs and divide among bowls. Leave any excess sauce in the wok.
  • Fry up mushrooms in the leftover sauce and tom yum paste. Add stock to deglaze the pan and bring to boil. Add cream to thicken soup and add salt to taste.
  • Ladle soup over chicken and noodles. Garnish with crushed peanuts.

Thai chicken tom yum noodle soup

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancake)

In keeping with the Japanese theme of last night, I found a way to use up the rest of the cabbage that was in my fridge - Japanese pancakes!

I used to get these from the Japanese fast food chains in shopping centre food courts as a kid. Puffy pancakes loaded with crunchy and soft vegetables, soft floury dough and topped with tonkatsu and kewpie mayonnaise.

Here's a simple version that doesn't require any of those fancy Japanese ingredients.

  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 small carrots, grated
  • 3 stalks spring onion, chopped
  • 1/8 cabbage, shredded
  • salt and sesame oil to taste

  • Sift flour into a mixing bowl, add eggs, and some of the water. Whisk, gradually adding water until a slightly thick batter forms. Drizzle sesame oil and pinch of salt. Mix well.
  • Fold in carrots, spring onion and cabbage until all vegetables are coated in batter. Leave to sit for 10 minutes.

  • Lightly grease a non-stick frying pan, ladle scoops of batter into the pan for form small pancakes (you can make a large one if you want, but it will be harder to flip).

  • Fry until pancakes are lightly golden brown.
  • Serve with sauce of your choice.


Japanese steak with enoki mushrooms, candied sweet potato, butter 'sake' cabbage

The next course involved three Japanese inspired dishes served with rice.

Japanese Steak with Enoki Mushrooms

This dish was the result of inspiration taken from a strange combination of Jamie Oliver and Nobu. The cooking method for the steak was adopted from a one of Jamie's 30 minute meal episodes, whilst the actual dish was a bit of an attempt to replicate Nobu's toban yaki beef dish.

  • 400g Porterhouse steak
  • 100g enoki mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/2 cup rice wine (use sake if you have it)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Japanese steak
  • Cover the steaks in oil (use a more neutral oil) and leave to sit.
  • In a bowl (large enough to place the steaks in), combine soy sauce, mirin, rice wine, sugar, ginger and garlic until sugar dissolves.
  • Heat a griddle pan. Once hot enough, cook steaks to preference. For this dish, medium-rare works well.
  • As soon as steaks are ready, take them off the heat and place them immediately into the bowl with the sauce. Turn the steaks in the sauce to coat them, then cover bowl with foil and leave steaks to rest.
  • Blanche the enoki mushrooms in boiling water for a few minutes, then drain.
  • Once the steaks have rested, pull them out of the sauce mixture and slice.
  • Pour sauce into the griddle pan and let the residual heat from earlier cook the garlic and ginger.
  • Place sliced steak and mushrooms on a serving plate, spoon over sauce.

Japanese steak with enoki mushrooms

To balance out the meat, I made two sides to go with the meal. 

Candied Sweet Potato

The first was a traditional Japanese candied sweet potato.

  • 400g sweet potato, chopped thumb-sized pieces
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • oil
  • salt

  • Heat oil in a wok, fry sweet potato pieces until they start to brown a little. Add 1/2 cup water and a pinch of salt.
  • Cover with lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the liquid has completely dried up. 
  • Remove sweet potato from wok. 
  • Combine sugar, soy sauce and 1 tsp of water and add to the wok. Once the syrup begins to bubble, pour in remaining 1/2 cup of water. Bring syrup to boil.
  • Add sweet potato back into the wok. Toss to coat in the sugar syrup. Remove from heat.

candied sweet potato

Buttered 'Sake' Cabbage

And a not-so-Japanese side, buttered 'sake' cabbage. The dish was a bit of an invention designed to round out the meal. The steak had strong bold flavours, and the sweet potato had a toffee like sweetness, so I needed something smooth and subtle. The dish is a bit of a take on asari sake, a traditional Japanese dish of clams in sake and butter.

  • Handful of cabbage, leaves separated
  • 25g butter
  • 1/2 cup rice wine (use sake if you have it)
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • salt

  • In a wok, heat oil then add butter. As butter melts, toss in cabbage and fry until cabbage begins to soften. 
  • Add rice wine and simmer until the liquid stops bubbling and the rice wine has mostly evaporated.

buttered 'sake' cabbage


I cooked for a few friends last night and thought I'd have a go at a Japanese theme.

After much Googling, I settled on chawanmushi, a steamed egg custard, for a starter. I've only had the Japanese style once (at Tao's in Bulleen) but had never made it myself. It turned out pretty well, albeit a little overcooked. Next time I'll keep it on a lower heat.

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp mirin
  • 1 tsp rice wine
  • 3 small shitaki mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp dried daikon, finely chopped

  • Beat eggs, then add stock.
  • In a separate bowl, combine salt, sugar, soy sauce, mirin and rice wine until salt and sugar dissolve. Stir into the egg mixture.
  • Place shitaki and daikon in the bottom of each ramekin, ladle egg mixture over. Fill up to 2 thirds up the ramekin (it will rise as it steams).
  • Steam for approximately 10 minutes on a medium heat, until egg is set.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pork chops with baked apples and cabbage

I came across a clip of Gordon Ramsey cooking amazing looking pork chops, and couldn't help but go out and buy some chops to mess around with.


  • 2 pork chops
  • 1/8 cabbage, sliced
  • 1 granny smith apple, cored and cut into wedges
  • 1 stock cube / stock paste or 1 cup stock
  • olive oil
  • garlic, crushed
  • thyme
  • chilli powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Buttered cabbage

  • Boil water with stock cube/paste (or if using stock, use less water).
  • Cook cabbage until softened. Drain and place in a bowl. Cooking liquid can be reserved for making soup later if desired.
  • Drop a small knob of salted butter into the cabbage, toss until butter is melted.

Pork chops

  • Score rind on pork chops (through to fat but do not cut meat). 
  • Generously grease a non-stick baking tray with olive oil. Season the bottom of the tray with salt, pepper, thyme and chilli powder.
  • Dip rind of pork into the seasoned oil mixture, then place chops flat on tray and top with crushed garlic.
  • Drizzle olive oil over the exposed side of the pork, follow with seasonings.
  • Bake at 250 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • Once pork is half cooked, remove from oven, coat apple wedges into pan juices then place underneath pork chops. This will elevate the rind and allow it to dry and become crispy. Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes.
  • To serve, spoon some of the buttered cabbage onto a plate. Top with a pork chop and peeled apple wedges.

The result? Crispy crackling, tender pork, sweet gooey baked apples and warm buttery cabbage. Perfect comfort food.

Cabbage Lasagne

What to do with leftover cabbage?

I had some leftover cabbage from a pork dish I made the other day, and ran a quick search on the net for recipes using cabbage. In amongst the countless entries for cabbage soup, I came across a recipe for cabbage lasagne and thought I'd experiment.

  • 1/4 cabbage, sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, grated
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 250g mince beef
  • 125g tomato paste
  • 1 cup flour
  • 50g butter
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 cup tasty cheese, grated
  • olive oil
  • chilli powder
  • salt and pepper

Bolognese sauce
  • Heat pan with a little olive oil. Saute onions until they soften and become translucent.
  • Add garlic and mince, breaking up the meat and combining with the onion.
  • Once meat juices start forming in the pan, add the diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Mix well.
  • Add half a cup of water (or more if necessary), season with salt, pepper and chilli powder. Reduce sauce until it thickens. Remove from heat.

Bechamel sauce
  • Melt butter in pan over low heat. Rain in flour, stirring constantly until flour is fully incorporated into butter. Continue stirring to cook the flour, breaking up the lumps with a wooden spoon.
  • Gradually pour in milk, stirring to combine the milk and flour mixture until  it reaches a light and creamy consistency.
  • Add some tasty cheese and a pinch of salt. Remove from heat.

  • Boil cabbage until softened, drain and cool.
  • Coat bottom of baking tray olive oil, then cover base with grated potato. Season with a little salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella and tasty cheese over potatoes.
  • Layer half the cabbage, followed by half the bolognese sauce then half the bechamel sauce. Sprinkle more cheese, then repeat with cabbage and two sauces.
  • Cover contents with remaining cheese. Bake at 200 degrees for around 15 minutes or until cheese melts and starts to turn golden brown.

cabbage lasagne
Makes 4-6 servings.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Crispy skin salmon with mango salsa and rice

My first 'gourmet' homecooked meal of the year...

After an amazing meal at Hunky Dory in South Melbourne about a week ago, I decided I would try and replicate their Caribbean grilled fish, which was served with a mango, onion and coriander salsa and brown rice.

The mango salsa can be kept in a jar in the fridge for later use.

  • 425g mango slices, drained, reserve juice (you can use fresh mango if you wish)
  • 410g pineapple pieces, drained, reserve juice
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • handful of coriander
  • 1 tsp sugar

  • Heat pan with a little oil and add onion.
  • Saute onions on medium heat, gradually add some of the reserved mango and pineapple liquid. Add sugar if required.
  • Allow liquid to boil and reduce. Continue adding liquid and reducing until onions soften and mixture starts to form a jam-like consistency. Transfer onion mixture to boil and refrigerate until cool.
  • Chop mango slices, pineapple and coriander to a food processor. Transfer to bowl.
  • Remove onions from fridge, add to mango mixture, combine well.

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1.5 cup water (amount of water will vary with the type of rice used)
  • 1/2 tsp chicken stock paste, or quarter stock cube (or replace 1 cup water with 1 cup stock)
  • 4 stalks of coriander root, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or minced

  • Dissolve chicken stock paste into water. Add coriander and garlic to liquid and mix with rice.
  • Cook rice in rice cooker (or whichever method you prefer).

  • 280g salmon fillets
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil

  • Coat salmon in olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt (particularly over the skin).
  • Heat pan, add salmon skin side down. Leave for a few mins until salmon is half cooked.
  • Flip salmon, cook until almost cooked through, remove from heat (the residual heat will continue to cook the fish).
To assemble, place rice on plate, top with fish and spoon over some salsa.

crispy skin salmon, mango salsa, rice

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Braised Pork Belly, Wombok, Cucumber Salad

First quiet weekend in a while, so I thought I would try braising some pork belly (actually, this was the cheaper substitute of pork spare ribs, but essentially the same texture) to chill in the fridge as a sandwich filler for the week.

Come dinner time, I couldn't help myself and turned some of the braised pork belly into a nice refreshing salad. And now I finally understand what 'pulled meat' is. I've split up the recipes for the braise and the salad. For the salad, you can substitute the pork with other meats including BBQ chicken.

braised pork belly, wombok, cucumber salad

Braised Pork Belly
  • Pork spare ribs (or cut pork belly into ~2cm x 8cm pieces)
  • 2 carrots, chopped into rough chunks
  • 2 stalks spring onion
  • 3 sprigs coriander
  • ~5 Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tbsp soybean paste
  • Spices: Chinese five spice, cinnamon, cumin, chilli
  • Honey to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Remove any bones from the pork spare ribs and use these to form the base of the masterstock. If using pork belly, just add beef or chicken stock instead.
  • Put bones in a pot half filled with boiling water. Add the spices, spring onion, coriander and Sichuan peppercorns. Simmer for half an hour (or longer if time allows).
  • Pour in soy sauce, rice wine and soybean paste. Bring to boil, then add in pork pieces and carrots. Drizzle some honey over the pork pieces. 
  • Cover and simmer for at least an hour. The longer you cook it, the more tender the pork will be. Taste the sauce at intervals, and add more soy sauce or water as needed.


  • 1 leaf wombok, shredded
  • 1/2 cucumber, julienned
  • Honey
  • Lemon juice

  • Drain two pieces of pork. Slice into 1cm pieces. The meatier part will start to pull as you cut it.
  • Layer plate with wombok and cucumber. Add carrots from the braising liquid. Top with sliced pork.
  • Drizzle with some of the braising liquid, then a little honey and lemon juice to finish.

Fresh Strawberries, Shredded Coconut, Butternut Snap Crumble

This is one of the easiest desserts I've ever come up with, and takes next to no time!

fresh strawberries, shredded coconut, butternut snap crumble

  • 4 butternut snap cookies
  • 1/2 punnet fresh strawberries
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp milk (optional)
  • Ice-cream or yoghurt (I didn't have any in the fridge, but it definitely needed it)

  • To make the base, place cookies into a snap lock bag and break them into crumbs (you can use a rolling pin or a pestle).
  • Pour crumbs into bottom of bowl. Mix in half the shredded coconut. Drizzle with a little milk and heat in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to soften the cookie crumbs to form a base.
  • Chop strawberries, scatter over base, sprinkle over the remaining coconut. Refrigerate until base is set.
  • Serve with ice-cream. If you want, you can also reserve some of the cookie crumbs to sprinkle over the top at the end.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Spaghetti Carbonara

My friends signed me up for a year's subscription to the Masterchef magazine for my birthday and the first one arrived this week. All that food porn has reignited my experimental cooking habits... If you haven't noticed, it is rare for me to be able to follow a recipe without making my own changes.

Inspired by a recipe from the magazine, along with an episode of Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals and some hints from a friend, I ended up with this.

  • Two slices of short cut bacon, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup of frozen vegetables (I used peas, corn and carrots - substitute with whatever you want)
  • 1 egg
  • 100g spaghetti
  • Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste

  • Boil water in a saucepan (it's faster to use the kettle). Salt the water and add spaghetti. (Check the cooking directions on your pasta - the longer it takes, the earlier you should start boiling the pasta. For 3 minute pasta, leave this step until the end.)
  • Add bacon to a hot frypan, saute until fat is rendered and bacon starts to crisp up. Add garlic and saute until fragrant.
  • Add frozen vegetables and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are soft and vegetables are heated through. Turn off heat.
  • Crack egg into the bacon mixture, break yolk and gently fold the egg into the mixture until a smooth sauce begins to form. Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese in and continue to fold.
  • Using tongs, remove some of the cooked pasta from boiling water and place into the sauce. Toss pasta through sauce. Continue to add pasta to sauce, spooning in some of the pasta water to slowly build up the creaminess of the sauce.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper to serve.

spaghetti carbonara

The beauty of this dish is that you get the creamy texture of most carbonara sauces, but without the heaviness of the cream found in most restaurants. Which means you can eat more of it without feeling like you have overeaten!

Drunken Butter Scallops

A Japanese dish that always seems to stand out for me is 'asari sake' (Kobe Restaurant, Doncaster) or 'asari butter' (Izakaya Chuji, Melbourne) - pipis (cockles) in a sake and butter broth. The smooth nuttiness of the butter and the strong almost acidic flavours of the sake blend together to create a whole new depth of flavour.

So with a handful of scallops leftover from my quiche last weekend, and memories of the two dishes in mind, I decided to attempt the dish with what ingredients I had in my kitchen. It worked surprisingly well, although I don't think I'll be repeating it again with scallops. Pipis are definitely the way to go!

  • 100g fresh scallops (I left the roe attached, but you can remove it if you want)
  • 50g butter
  • 50ml Chinese rice wine
  • 50 - 100ml water (add more if turning this into a soup)
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Lightly season scallops with salt and pepper.
  • In a heated pan, melt in half the butter.
  • Sear scallops in the hot melted butter.
  • When scallops are par-cooked, pour in rice wine. Gently swirl pan to mix the butter and rice wine together.
  • As liquid starts to evaporate, add in remaining butter, then pour in water.
  • Season with black pepper.

drunken butter scallops

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Scallop & Oyster Quiche

What does one do with a handful of leftover smoked oysters? Taking some inspiration from the yum cha take on baked oysters, I decided to improvise and turn them into a something like a seafood quiche.

scallop & oyster quiche

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1 cup of smoked oysters (can substitute with fresh oysters, but cook quickly before using)
  • 1 cup of scallops, halved
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup tasty cheese, grated
  • 4 medium mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 slice short cut bacon, diced

  • Line a baking dish with baking paper, then fit pastry into dish. Using a fork, prick the base of the pastry.
  • In a hot pan, brown bacon. Remove bacon from pan, leaving bacon fat in pan.
  • Quickly sear scallops, remove from pan. If using fresh oysters, cook them at the same time.
  • Add mushrooms to pan, saute until they begin to soften. Remove from pan.
  • In a bowl, whisk milk, eggs and flour until combined. Add cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Layer mushrooms, seafood and bacon in baking dish. Pour over egg mixture.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 25 minutes or until egg mixture is set.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shredded Chicken Rice Noodle Soup

A quick meal that takes only 30 minutes to make.

  • 1 chicken thigh fillet
  • 1 cup dried rice noodles (can substitute with fresh noodles)
  • 2-3 dried red dates
  • 3-4 Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup goji berries
  • 2-3 leaves of wombok, sliced
  • 1 stalk fresh coriander, roots chopped, leaves torn

  • In a saucepan, place dried rice noodles, chicken, dried dates, goji berries, coriander root, top with boiling water and simmer until noodles soften and chicken is cooked.
  • Drain noodles and chicken, reserving stock soup. Shred chicken.
  • Add wombok to soup, simmer until cooked. 
  • Add noodles to a bowl, top with shredded chicken, pour over soup and finish with coriander leaves.
shredded chicken rice noodle soup

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Smoked Salmon, Spinach and Potato Salad

  • 2 slices smoked salmon, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 2 medium mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • mayonnaise
  • chives
  • salt & pepper to taste

  • Place diced potato into a saucepan and cover with water, simmer on medium heat until potatoes are cooked through but still firm.
  • Drain potatoes, return potatoes to pan, add garlic, butter and mushrooms. Saute until potatoes start to brown and mushrooms are cooked.
  • Arrange spinach leaves on a plate, Spoon contents of pan over spinach, top with smoked salmon
  • Add mayonnaise, chives, salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chicken and Prawn Tom Yum Noodle Soup

  • 1 packet Fantastic Hokkien noodles
  • 250g chicken thigh fillets (~2 pieces)
  • 8 small prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 6 medium mushrooms, quartered
  • 200g bamboo shoots
  • 2 tbsps Valcom tom yum paste
  • 5 tbsps cream or coconut cream

  • Soak noodles in boiling water until noodles soften and separate.
  • Cook chicken in salted boiling water. Drain (reserve liquid), cool and shred.
  • Pour 3 cups of the reserved cooking liquid into saucepan. Add tom yum paste and stir to dissolve. Add mushrooms, bamboo shoots and prawns. Add more of the reserved liquid if required. Simmer until prawns are cooked through. Add cream and simmer for a further minute or two.
  • Divide noodles amongst bowls, top with shredded chicken then ladle soup over noodles.