Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Delicious Mango Salad... My Way

Once my class was given a question by our English teacher. In the midst of her teachings she asked us, to correct this - " There are man goes (man-goes) on the tree". It's her way to jolt us from our 'dreamland' or she must had noticed someone or some of us nearly dozed off...:-D Her class is not boring at all, really... but after good lunch and windy fan spinning above our heads, the time for siesta in us sets in... :-D

Mentioned the word m-a-n-g-o would make anyone swooned and salivating! Everyone will have their favourites... I love Black Gold, Chukanan, Waterlily to name a few. The mango fruit can be use in several ways; as desserts like well known Thailand's  Khao Neow Mamuang (Sticky Rice with Mango), use unripe in savoury salad or as pickle sold by road side vendors, dipped in sour plum powder in Southeast Asian countries. Trust me, it's so...soooo (drooling) deliciously fresh and when you dip the crunchy slices into the sour plum powder... mmmm.... then put into mouth ... crunch... mmm....mmm... IT's better than chomping chips & crackers minus the calories!

My Way Mango Salad
Serves 2-4

2 nos Half Ripe Mangoes 

1 cup Basil Leaves- firmly packed and roughly chopped (Any basil will do. In this recipe I used Thai Sweet basil from my pot.)

2-3 Fresh Red Chillies

4-8 Small Red Shallots-remove skin and slice thinly

1/4 cup of Thai Fish Sauce (Nam Pla) or more to your taste

2 nos Limes- juice only

Lime zests (optional)

Raw Cane Sugar to taste (you can use white sugar too)


1. Remove the skin of mangoes. Slice the mangoes about 0.50 cm thin slices along the fruit until your knife touches the seed. Do the same for the other side of the mango. (Reserve the seed to eat what's left later :-D). Roughly cut the mangoes into matchstick sizes. 

Note: Any type of half ripe mangoes can be use. Just beware that although Black Gold mangoes (Tong Dum in Thai) has dark green outer skin but inside is actually ripe with sweet orangy succulent flesh. Only way to tell if it's ripe is the yellow tinge at the stem part and to lightly touch/press the fruit to feel if is soft for ripeness.

2. In a bowl: Slice chillies in halves and remove the seeds from chillies if you don't want that hot. Thinly sliced the chillies. You can also roughly chop the chillies without removing the seeds but then you will end up eating seeds as well.

3. Add in the fish sauce, basil leaves, chilli and some sugar. Mix well and taste if you need to add in more sugar or fish sauce...

4. Pour in Lime juice little bit at first. Taste accordingly to your preference ( I used all 2 Limes plus the zest as well.) Add in more if you like more sourness. Add in the cut mangoes and stir well until well coated with the sauce.

Serve as side dish to rice, grill meat, seafood... even as toppings for steam fish to give it extra zing!

Note: You can prepare the sauce and the fruits in advance but don't mix them too early because mangoes will wilt and losing it's crunchiness. You will end up with soggy salad instead. 

You can also add in fried dried shrimp into this salad but I didn't use it because some people dislike dried shrimps and said it made the salad kinda oily & cloudy

Monday, May 26, 2008

Easy Almond Cake

I was reading a fellow foodie - Mag's Green Almonds and this had my mind rolling (and my stomach too)! I love almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias... occasionally peanuts but most of time I'm nuts about nuts, really! Vite! Vite! Vite! It's 3 hours before tea time, I had to be quick if not I won't be on time to enjoy my Jamaica Blue Mountain! I found that I still had 5 packs of ground almonds left from last week's baking, yeayyyyyy!

Here's the recipe... It's easy provided you already have the basic ingredients at hand. I hope you like it as well. It's nothing fancy, just simple cake... with lots of almonds!

Easy Almond Cake
Makes a 18 cm round cake

125 g Butter
110 g Castor Sugar
2-3 drops Almond Essence (you can add more if you like stronger taste)
3 no Eggs -lightly beaten ( I used Medium Size Eggs @ 60 g each-yes, I weigh them :-P )
120 g Ground Almonds
80 g Plain Flour-sifted

Some Almond Halves/Whole Almonds for decorations (Optional)

1. Preheat oven to 180 ºC. Brush a deep 18 cm round cake tin (you can use any round tin about that size) with melted butter or oil. Line base with parchment paper (Baking paper).
2. In a mixing bowl; Using  electric beaters, beat butter, sugar and almond essence until light and creamy.
3. Add 1/3 of eggs with 1/3 of ground almonds; repeat with remaining eggs & almonds.
4. Using a spatula, fold in sifted flour;stir until ingredients are combined and mixture is smooth.
5. Spoon mixture into prepared tin; smooth surface and decorate with almonds.
6. Bake for 45 minutes or until skewer comes out clean when inserted into centre of cake. Leave cake in tin for 10 minutes; turn onto a wire rack to cool.
7. To serve: Dust with castor sugar or icing sugar.

This cake can be keep for 3 days in airtight container or 2 months in freezer.

Enjoy it!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Simple Fresh Mushroom Soup

I'd been busy these few days, arranging some trips with my family for this June. Due to this, I'd been neglecting a bit my fridge... I discovered yesterday that I still have some mushrooms tucked nicely in brown bags! I had to think of solution not to waste this precious fungi collection. Further discovery, I still have 1 small carton of crème fraîche and packet of parsley unopened. It was raining really heavily since early morning and temperature dropped to 24ºC which is cosy for a tropical climate ( yeah, I'm back in my hometown for awhile... :-P ) I love to watch rain pours at the sea from my balcony and the only thing I could think of in such weather is 'soup'.... mushroom soup it shall be! Is a simple soup (not as elaborate as restaurants) and for me it's a hearty meal with fresh bread plus hot coffee in the morning... errrr... in this case I think I should said 'brunch' :-D 

I like making soup in large quantity so that I can freeze them for other days. If my elderly neighbour's around I pack the soup in several servings for her so she could have it whenever she wants. She lost one of her legs to diabetes last year and have difficulties to go to market without someone chauffeured her... :-( When my family have the time, we will take her out for dinner or lunch and to the fresh market. She's a very good cook and I learnt quite a lot from her as well.

Simple Fresh Mushroom Soup
(serves 2-4 portions)

A Selection of Mushrooms of your choice:

Cut off the hard portion of mushrooms and wipe off any grits on them. Slice mushrooms to small pieces. This is what leftovers I had but you can use any amount you fancy...

100 g Grey Oyster (Abalone) Mushrooms
50   g Bunapi Shimeiji Mushrooms
60   g Shiitake Mushrooms
100 g Enoki Mushrooms

1 large Red Onion - finely chopped
2 Tbl Italian Flat Parsley - finely chopped  for garnish
300 ml Chicken stock or more
Some Fresh Thyme-remove leaves from the stalk as required
1 Bay Leaf

Salt & Black Pepper to taste
Some Flour - for thickening the soup
Some Butter - In this recipe I used 30 g of butter
Crème Fraîche

Tools: A handheld blander


1. Combine 200 ml of chicken stock with 1 Tbl of flour until well mix. You can add more flour if you like thicker soup. Set aside. You will use the rest of the chicken stock according to the thickness you preferred later on.

2. Sauté onion in butter in a pot (or saucepan) until clear and slightly browned. Add thyme, bay leaf and sliced fresh mushroom mix. Covered & Simmered for 10 - 15 minutes or until mushrooms slightly wilted. Remove the bay leaf. Reserve 1-2 cups of the cooked mushrooms.

3. Stir the stock and flour mixture. Pour into pot, stirring until it thickened. Using a handheld blender (or any blender you own) - blend to the consistency you like. I like mine smoother in this recipe.

4. Stir in the fresh cream to your taste. Add in the extra stock until it reached your required thickness & creaminess. Simmer for 1 minute. Do not boil.

5. Dish into serving bowls and add some of the reserved cooked mushroom. Sprinkle some chopped parsley and a dash of fresh cream (if you like... :-D).

Note: If you don't like that creamy (or weight conscious), you can use fresh/low-fat milk instead of fresh cream but adjust the stock you add in as well.
You can add in about some dry white wine or dry sherry and croutons to give that extra ooomph! 

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Roasted Yogurt Chicken In Ghee

I love Indian food because of the cuisine's usage of herbs and spices that I grew up with. When you mentioned Indian food, first thing came into people's mind was images of red chillies floating in reddish coconut milk gravy, grounded spices, sweating red faces and tongue wagging with glasses of cold ice water (a bucket, maybe?) or lassis in one hand. I even have friends/relatives whom mentioned the word 'curry' would made them pale-faced and avoid any shops or restaurants that serve 'curry' like plague! They rather starved than tasting it...even if it's only Kurma based dishes! Is not like that at all... There are other dishes that's not going to make you swallowed that bucket of ice in front you at a gulp! 

The meaning of 'Curry' is derived from South Indian - Tamil word 'kari' which means sauce or relish for rice. It refers to wide range of spicy-sauced dishes as accompaniment to rice and bread. Another red alert word for newcomers in Curry World is 'Spicy'. It's a magic word that sends out for a fire brigade on stand-by... :-D It actually means seasoned with or containing spice that ranges from aromatic, sweet, sour, peppery, zesty to piquant or pungent like cardamom, cinnamon, tamarind, black pepper, asafoetida, chillies, tumeric, etc, etc,etc. That means you could have Rasam which is sourish to peppery taste next to Meen Curry Fish -  a Kerala dish with thick and quite spicy-hot gravy. See what I mean? Yet this couldn't bring the house down compared to Thai Red Curry or Thai Curried Beef... :-D 

I'm not sure of other foodies taste buds regarding spicy and hot cuisines but from my own experiences and friends, it's a hate-love situation. You would have a group with eyes lit up with 'Where? Where?' sign written on their foreheads and even could hear slurping sound somewhere by just mentioning the word 'curry' and another group, frowning their faces, ready to get a roll of toilet paper. Well, I do have friends who are a bit sensitive to curry but... it's ok if it's Tandoori. I don't know why... I do felt sorry for them that I kept 1 - 2 toilet paper rolls wrapped up nicely inside one of the back side compartment of my car. You know, on the safe side when the gang suddenly changed their minds in last minutes to go Indian or Thai food instead of Chinese fare... I do say that we're a bit... no, too spoilt of choices in food in Malaysia and I LOVE IT!!!

Anyway, I wanted to share this dish. It's a family favourite and I usually served it with Briyani Rice and vegetables.

Roasted Yogurt Chicken in Ghee

500 g chicken/breast meats, drumsticks or your choice (clean & cut into chunks)
150 ml Ghee
1 nos. Green Lime (extract the juice)
2 nos Red Onion/Bombay Onion (sliced thinly into rings)
2 cloves Garlic } blend/pound together 
3 cm  fresh Ginger  } until fine paste
250 ml ready-made Natural yogurt (plain & no sugar added)

2-3 medium size potatoes-cut into wedges
1 nos medium size carrot - cut into rounds/wedges
300 ml Water or as needed

3 nos Cloves
2 nos Cardamom
3-4 cm Cinnamon bark
1 nos Star Anise
1 Tsp Tumeric powder
1 Tsp Chilli paste

Chilli powder to taste
1 Large Ripe Tomato - cut into quarters
Onion cripies (fried crispy shallots)
Salt to taste

Oven-proof pot/deep casserole dish (like Pyrex/Corningware)

1. Pre-heat the oven @ 180 ºC.
2. In a casserole (that's big enough for the chicken) heat the ghee until is hot.  
3. Add in the chicken, lime juice, big onion, tumeric, chilli paste and a little salt. Stir and leave it for few minutes until it boils.
4. Add in the potatos wedges and carrots. Stir until well mix and let them cooked until soften a bit.
5. Pour in the yogurt and add in some water (adjust to your liking if you prefer to the dish to have more gravy or less because vegetables will give out juices as well.) Cook until meat is tender.
6. Add in the quarterd tomatoes, chillie powder and fried crispy shallots. Bake in the oven @ 180 º C for 10-15 minutes until brown.

Serve hot with rice or naan, bread, chapatis...

Note: If you like it more hot or spicy, just add extra chilli powder or fresh chillies.. :-D Sometimes, I used extra spoonfuls of Ghee I made myself by using unsalted butter. If you can't find unsalted butter, you can use salted butter to make Ghee but reduce the amount of salt required in the recipe. More Ghee means better aroma your dish is but watch out the cholesterol level...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Shiitake No Nimono (Shiitake Simmered in Soya Sauce)

Ok... I know I'm a bit mushroom crazy this week but I can't help to share those lovely fungi with foodie friends! When you got the chance to buy them at half-price and with extra added to the box, the temptation's to great to be missed... :-D

One of my favourite mushrooms is definitely Shiitake, either fresh or dried. It's a must-have ingredients in Asian cooking mainly in Chines
e and Japanese kitchens. You can cook them just like fresh ones and still maintained its shapes. Another good reason to have dried Shiitake at hand is to make stock with the liquid after soaking the dried mushrooms. I like to add some of it and the strained liquid as well in mushroom soup - just a bit will do to give that pungent mushroomy flavour.

A interesting remark from my Japanese friend is that they preferred dried shiitake better than fresh ones. In Japan it's very expensive compared to fresh Shiitake. Dried Shiitake has more concentrated and superior flavour. I totally agreed with them!

Have a try on dehydrated mushrooms snacks that comes in plain/natural flavour or with wasabi added. It's sooooo yummy!

Shiitake No Nimono

6-8 Large Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
375 ml Dashi II or Konbu Dashi II (recipes below)
2 Tbl Mirin
2 Tbl Sake
2 Tbl Japanese Soya Sauce
1 Tbl Dark Brown Sugar

1. Soak shiitake mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain well. Discard the stems.
2. Combine the dashi, mirin, sake, soya sauce and sugar in a small pan over high heat. Stir the mixture until sugar has dissolved. Bring to boil.
3. Add the shiitake. Bring it to boil again and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour or until the liquid almost evaporated.
4. Serve warm or at room temperature as side dish, part of multicourse, snack or over rice. You can use it in cawan mushi or with noodles - slice thinly or quartered.

Serves 4-6 portions.

Note: I usually reserved the liquid after soaking shiitake. You can use it for this dish to get that rich concentrated flavour which I did or add into your favourite mushroom soup recipes. Just remember to filter/sieve the liquid.


: Making of Dashi Stocks :

For Dashi II

10 cm (4 in) square of konbu
20 g (1 cup) katsuoboshi (bonito flakes)

1. Wipe konbu with a damp cloth but don't rub off the white powdery substance that will become obvious as it dries. Cut the konbu into strips.

2. Place konbu & 1.5 L (6 cups) cold water into a saucepan and slowly bring it to boil. Quickly add 60 ml (1/4 cup) cold water to stop the boiling process. Add the bonito flakes. Allow it to boil again and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Allow the bonito flakes to sink to the bottom of pan. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve. This stock is ready for stews and thick soups. 

Makes 1 L (about 4 cups)

For Konbu Dashi

15 cm (6 in) square piece of konbu

1. For Konbu Dashi I, cut konbu into strips and place them in a saucepan with 1.5 L cold water. Bring to boil, then remove the konbu.

2. For Konbu Dashi II, leave the konbu in the pan, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes longer.

Makes about 1.5 L (5 cups)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mushrooming Ideas...

Lately, there's been surplus of mushrooms at low prices at the local supermarkets (I know, I know, I should get them from fresh market ... rolling eyes ...) for less than 1 € /pkt of 160 g - 250 g of several choices! I was grinning away like Cheshire Cat at the vegetable section instead of fish corner... :-D I love mushrooms... they have not much flavours but it's easy to add them into your favourite cuisine either raw or cooked. Definitely, one of those versatile and healthy food available today.

Since I'm now back home in Southeast Asia, my daily meals are those hard to find Asian ingredients in Europe that are costly as well as not fresh in the Asian supermarkets. You're lucky if you can get a pack of 250 g Beansprouts that's juicy and not mushy on the shelve. Sometimes, the staff don't even bother to remove the watery and brownish packages off the rack. Once, I had to wait 2 weeks for a bunch of Screwpine Leaves/Pandan Leaves (Pandanus) from Paris! What did I got after much anticipated waits? 2 large bunch of of Pandan Leaves and the lost of my enthusiasm to cook Black Glutinous Rice! Added to the mood, the Pandan leaves has no fragrance at all... sigh... Anyway, that's for another blog :-D

Now, back to the shrooms... 

Here's the Brown Enoki and Bunapi Shimeiji from Korea (seems that Koreans are very enterprising producing quality mushrooms.)

Brown Enoki Mushrooms is a.k.a Golden Enoki Mushrooms with chewy texture and richer Enokiness taste compared to the common White Enoki Mushrooms. I like Tempura Enoki when you ordered Tempura meal in Japanese Restaurants. Small bunch Enoki is fanned out - like a fan and deep fried in tempura batter.

Bunapi Shimeiji a.k.a White Beech Mushrooms or as Hon Shimeiji mushrooms-the name typically refers to the Buna Shimeiji or Bunapi Shimeiji strain. The Hon Shimeiji mushrooms can be sautéed using high temperature or slow roasted on low temperature with a small amount of butter or cooking oil. I did Kinoko Batayaki - sautéed mushrooms in butter & sake few days ago... it's simply delicious and it's not mushy at all

It's easy to do Kinoko Batayaki... 

1. Get ready some Hon Shimeiji Mushrooms sake, butter & a frying pan.
2. Heat a frying fan in medium heat. When butter melts, add in the mushrooms. You can add more butter if you like. More butter used the richer the aroma (I thought it's better to eat more butter than margarine lately...)*
3. Add few dashes of sake.
4. Slowly cooked it until softened or to your liking.
5. Serve as side dish or top it on your rice with omelette.

* I didn't add any salt because the butter I used is Salted Butter.

Itadikimasu!!! Enjoy!!!


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