Green Tea Smoked Salmon with Sticky Chilli Dressing

This is something I have made over and over again. I first saw it in Donna Hay Magazine and love it for its simplicity and has ever since modified and adapted it to my liking. This is really about the technique rather than the recipe, allow 2:2:1 ratio for the tea leaves:rice:brown sugar. Wrapping it with pancetta is optional but would help prevent the salmon from overcooking and keep it moist.

The salmon could be replaced with ocean trouts and the pancetta could be substituted with bacon too without negatively affecting the taste of the final dish. Use good quality green tea leaves and that would make a whole lot of difference. The sticky chilli dressing speaks for itself and elevated the whole dish to another level!

Green Tea Smoked Salmon with Sticky Chilli Dressing

For the green tea smoked salmon:

6 x approximately 120g salmon fillets, skin-on
6 slices pancetta
6 tbsp green tea leaves
6 tbsp raw rice
3 tbsp brown sugar

Wrap each salmon fillet with a pancetta slice. Toss together the green tea leaves, raw rice and brown sugar. In a wok with a heavy-fitting lid, place a piece of foil in it and scatter over the tea mixture. Place a lightly greased wire rack into the wok,making sure it is not touching the tea mixture. Place the wok over high heat and when the mixture begins to smoke, place the salmon on the greased rack and cover with the lid. Smoke it for 12minutes or until done to your liking.

For the sticky chilli dressing:

1 cup white vinegar
5 tbsp sugar
3 long red chilli, deseeded, thinly sliced into long strips

Place white vinegar and sugar in a smallish saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar over medium-high heat. Add in the chilli strips and continue simmering until reduced for about 5-8 minutes until it is significantly thickened. Set aside and keep warm.

To serve and garnish:

Blanched green beans, enough to feed 2 people
Spring onion curls (sliced into strips and soaked in icy water for a minute for it to curl up)

Place the blanched green beans evenly on each serving plates. Top with the smoked salmon, spring onion curls and drizzle over the sticky chilli dressing.

Serves 6

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French Lamb Cutlets....Versatile and quick

Bought a whole rack of lamb and slice them up to get 8 slices of beautifully marbled French Lamb Cutlets. Could not help but cook it a couple of different ways. This post is really nothing more than sharing ideas rather than recipes...

The previous ones was demonstrated in the orange parsley butter post. You could simply pan fry the cutlets a couple of minutes on each side, depending on how done you like them to be, and resting for half the time of cooking, loosely covered in foil. Dollop the butter and serve.

You could also pan fry them in a mixture of EVOO and seasoned butter and serve it as it is.

I sometimes omit the butter and coat the cutlets with a spiced dry rub. In this case, I have used Creole Seasoning Rub because I like how it is strong and flavour the lamb well.

I let it marinade for a while before pan frying it to perfection. You could do a whole rack of lamb cutlets in the pan, browning on all sides and finishing it off in the oven to your preferred doneness but with lamb cutlets all chopped and sliced up, I did not find that necessary. Just always make sure your meat is at room temperature when it goes into the pan.

When pan fried to your preferred doneness, you could serve it as it is with a dash of parsley. It would look good wrapped in bits of foil if you are serving this as a finger food for a small party so everyone could hold on to the lamb lollipop and eat it easily.

Again, here I have served it with cous cous. Whatever juice that is released from resting the meat goes into the cous cous for a richer and more flavourful side.

And yes, it was very good when simply done...I was having Shingles when I did all these stuffs and I ate them all...The picture below probably could tell you how good they were....

Finally, I also did a Parmesan-Pistachio Crusted Lamb Cutlets. One slice of stale sourdough, a handful of freshly grated Parmesan, a handful of raw pistachio nuts, salt and pepper and they all go into a food processor and pulsed to fine crumbs. Coat the lamb cutlets with Dijon Mustard and press them into the Parmesan-Pistachio mixture. Chill them for a while to adhere it a bit and shallow fry it until done or just bake it into the oven or roast it until it is all golden brown and crispy.

Could not get any easier and they were so so yummy... Lamb cutlets are versatile because they are quick and easy to cook but also benefit from long cooking hours....I really love them in my 'Sup Kambing' (Goat's soup) or just simply cooked like that...

Again, you all must try, at least one of the way that I have cooked it here. You will soon realise how versatile they are.

It is Spring now and the Wisterias are blooming again, forming a canopy over the balcony. The problem is it only will flower and last for 2 weeks out of the 52 weeks in a year and the rest of the time, you really just see twigs and branches or just all green leaves....Beautiful things just never last sometimes...

More cooking with Spring ingredients coming....

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Orange Parsley Butter....Many ways with meat

Overwhipped some cream while trying to get stiff peaks to frost a chiffon cake...A minute or two later...the sound of buttermilk sloshing within chunks of butter could be heard from the food processor...Was also trying to experiment whipping cream with a processor blade. It turns out it was very hard to estimate the stages....stiff peak to you ending with butter is a fine line....

It was a good mistake because I unintentionally made butter. Nothing more luscious like homemade butter. When I was in Paris, the food they serve, steak and chips, nothing fancy but what really makes all the difference was the seasoned butter dolloped over the steak, meltingly sexy and beautiful.

I have used orange parsley combination. They are amazing dolloped on steak or even brushed on Hasselback Potatoes too. Simply whip 2 cups of cream until it separates and starts to slosh away in its own buttermilk. You will end up with a cup or so of butter. Separate them from the buttermilk, drink them as they are or use them in pancakes, muffins or make buttermilk ice cream. Just do not throw them away because they are way better than those stuffs you get from the sueprmarket. Place the butter in a sieve and wash it under running tap water until clean. Water in Australia are generally clean. If you feel uncomfortable, simply place the butter back into the food processor and blitz them with clean cold water until the water runs clear and are no longer cloudy. This way, your butter would last longer in the fridge...

Gently pat it dry and throw in the zest of one orange and half a bunch of finely chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste and you are done. They are dead easy to make and you could pipe them into rosette and place them in a small dipping dish, a couple of rosettes of butter per person or just place them on a sheet of cling wrap and form it back into a log shape and twist both ends, so they look like little sausages. Firm them up in the refrigerator, remove from the plastic wrap and slice into round discs...Or be all lazy like me, just dollop them away....

I have demonstrated a couple of ways to utilize the seasoned butter. This is just really what I do with it... Lightly salt and pepper some French Lamb Cutlets and pan fry them, 3 minutes on each side, resting them for 3 minutes, loosely covered in foil. Dollop the seasoned butter over them and serve immediately with your favourite side of either a potato dish or a garden salad.

I then realise burnt butter could be very amazing too...I melt them in the pan and use the seasoned butter and a dash of EVOO to pan-fry the lamb cutlets. The EVOO would prevent the butter from burning too quickly before the lamb cutlets are done. Pan fry the cutlets until the butter is at the cusp of burning and remove it from the pan. This also crisp up the parsley bits nicely and some warm Turkish bread would be yummy to soak up the butter....

I also ended up liking the seasoned butter with paprika and chilli. You could do a Fish en Papillote, which really means fish in a paper/foil bag. Simply lay out a baking paper on a piece of foil and crack some pepper on it, a dash of salt and some hot paprika and chili powder over it. Dollop the seasoned butter around, lay the fish on top and smear it with more butter. I seriously am a dairy freak, you do not need to be so generous with the butter like me....Wrap the foil bag up and tuck in them ends to seal the parcel completely and bake it until it is done, mine took 15mins in a hot oven.

Just be careful when you open up the parcel to serve as the steam escaping from it could be very very hot. It looks beautiful served in the bag, partially opened for individual guests. It could easily be prepared ahead of time too...

I have served mine with a minted peas and cous cous as side, sprinkled with a dash of Sumac. I do a lot of cous cous nowadays since I am really just cooking for myself and cooking rice would be too much a bother.

That is about it really....I believe cooking could be very easy and fun and it really is nothing more than going back to basic and make your own butter, season it with herbs and citrus zest (lemon thyme butter is truly amazing too....or you could also do a spiced butter with paprika,cumin and cardamom powder too!) and serve it with basically any meat you like...

Hopefully this will encourage more people to cook. I did not pick up cooking until I was forced to three years ago and have never looked back ever since then...More frequent updates to come...I promise it will be simple.

Good night....

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Food From Our Hearts: Tau Yew Bak

Babe in the City-KL organized a virtual Merdeka Open House for several years already....For this year, celebrating 53 years of independence of Malaysia, I have cooked something in conjunction with the theme, Food From Our Hearts.....

This is one dish I grew up with, very easily pulled together, and we eat it for several days, and the flavour and taste just gets better each passing day. Sometimes, we add more pork belly and dried beancurd sticks into it, other times we add more mushrooms and more hard-boiled eggs for the kids, or even leftover meats such as chicken or duck. Dried beancurds or tofu puffs would be great addition too to absorb the resulting gravy. No fix rule here, it just gets better.

We like it spicy but you can certainly omit the dried chillies if you cannot take the heat. The base of the sauce is made of spices such as cloves, star anise and just minced garlic, lots and lots of them. The pork is marinaded in a mixture of soya sauces, both light and dark, sugar for the caramelization and also a dash of oyster sauce to bind flavours together. The title itself, Tau Yew Bak is in Hokkien. Tau Yew means soya sauce whereas Bak means meat, you really can use any meat though we always use pork belly, skin on....the long braising hours result in a melt-in-the-mouth layer of fat....Some would find it disgusting but I absolutely love it and can eat a lot a lot of rice with just this dish alone.... The picture below is cloves or what we known as Bunga Cengkih in Malay.

I hope you all will like what I grew up eating and try it for yourself. It is so easy your friends and family would have thought you slaved over the kitchen forever to make this, unbelievably easy! The picture below are all the spices used. The beautiful looking spice at the most front is called star anise or known as Bunga Lawang in Malay.

We cook a lot of's what I've done and they taste really really similar to my grandma's one, if not better!

Tau Yew Bak
(makes crazily a lot and enough to feed an army!)

4kg pork belly, sliced into long strips but left whole
3/4 cup light soya sauce
1/2 cup dark soya sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 cup cornflour

Pat the pork belly dry and mix all the marinade sauces together and dissolve the sugar as much as possible. Pour over the pork belly and massage and marinade it, best overnight. Reserve the marinade sauce and pan fry all the porb belly strips with 1/2 cup oil oil, in batches until it is evenly browned on both sides and starts to caramelize. Do not overcrowd the pan. Dish it all up and let it rest.

1/2 cup oil
20 cloves
15 star anises
15-20 dried chillies
2 whole garlic bulbs, separated into individual cloves, peeled and finely minced

In the same pan, with the remaining oil, heat up the oil and add in the cloves, star anises, dried chillies and minced garlic and stir fry the spices until aromatic. When you can smell the garlic and it is almost brown, add in all the reserved marinade sauces, the pork belly strips and all the meat juices from it and cook it for 10 minutes or so, flipping and coating as you go.

Approximately 1.5litres of water or more to cover everything
15 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and left whole

Add enough water to just cover everything. Throw in the hard-boiled eggs and when everything comes to boil, turn the heat to the lowest setting, and put on the lid, braise the mixture for an hour or two hours, adding more water as you go along. The eggs should be well submerged and take on a beautiful dark brown colour. Before serving, remove the pork belly, strip by strip and cut them into bite size pieces and throw them back into the pot. Repeat until finish. When the pork belly pieces are all well coated in gravy and that the gravy thicken a bit, dish it up, as much as you want and serve it with plain steamed white rice.

Just wanna wish everyone Happy Merdeka and despite it not being a public holiday here in Australia and that life goes on as normal, I would happily raise my hand and shout out Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! because I am a Malaysian, and forever will be.

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Thai Pineapple Fried Rice

Made pineapple fried rice again for lunch. The garnishes are there for a reason, to make the dish look better and to make the whole thing taste better. Remember how I said Aaron used to work in a Thai Restaurant? This dish was on the menu and they always serve it with chicken floss. The only thing missing here is coriander which I have subsequently substituted with alfalfa sprouts because I wanna make our lunch more wholesome by sneaking in more veggies. The sprinkling you see in the picture, right smack at the centre, that's my homemade serunding ayam or chicken floss. They are not flossy at all. I've pulsed them in a food processor before proceeding because I was lazy to shred chicken. Apart from the funny look, it taste all parts like a good old chicken floss. The minted green peas also add a nice flavour to this simple dish.

I adapted this recipe from Ellie of Almost Bourdain and because I have been making this so frequent this is almost a regular in our menu. Also because we always have leftover rice and because I am no where near Zurin who has no problem making fried rice with fresh rice and because we both agreed on pineapple and curry being good friends.

It's best to cook this in small portion to get the lup-lup delight from the rice grain else they'll stick and clump together. I use half the recipe and always cook it for just one meal, enough to serve us two.

Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
(modified from Ellie)
(serves 2)

1 cup rice, cooked in rice cooker and left overnight, fluff and separate grain upon frying
1 piece chicken thigh fillet, cubed
4 medium sized prawns, peeled with tail intact
1/2 cup fresh chopped pineapple (I used canned pineapple but fresh would be great)
1/4 cup frozen minted green peas
1 French Shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-2 tbsp EVOO

Mix together:
1/2 tbsp heaped meat curry powder
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
A pinch of turmeric powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Alfalfa Sprouts or Coriander
Chicken Floss
Chopped fresh chilli for the extra kick

Heat the oil in a large frying pan until smoky and toss in the chopped shallot stir fry until lightly brown. Add in the minced garlic and toss until almost brown. Add chicken, continue to stir fry until it changes colour. Add prawns and stir fry for another minute. Add the rice and pineapple cubes and break up lumps from rice as you go. Pour in the combined seasoning sauce and coat and toss well to flavour rice. Do a taste test and toss in the frozen peas. Heat it thoroughly and dish up. Garnish and serve immediately.

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Chinese-Style Creamy Butter Fish

I call this dish Chinese-Style because the whole 'Nai You' rave was generated and created by Chinese. This is adapted and modified from Food-4-tots. Instead of prawns, I use fish and I shallow fry the fish first until it is golden brown on both sides. Can't use prawns because of Aaron. Seriously, I've given up trying to make him eat prawns. The only Crustaceans he'll eat are just lobsters/crayfish and Moreton Bay Bugs. He might take Crabs occasionally. Expensive tastebud eh?

For this dish, I have doubled the curry leaves because I love it and fried half of them. They give the dish a better presentation and really does taste better. Have you not tried eating fried curry leaves before? They are crispy and very delicious! I also serve the fish over a bed of lettuce which is optional but is good to mop the remaining sauce off the plate.

Chinese-Style Creamy Butter Fish
(serves 2)

For the fish:
2 large fish fillets, cut into large slices, washed and pat dry
Salt and black pepper
Rice flour
Curry powder
Enough oil to shallow fry

Mix the seasoning together and dredge the fish slices into the flour mixture. Shallow fry it on both sides until golden brown and almost cooked through. Drain on wire rack with newspaper lined underneath and set aside.

For the sauce:
3 tbsp butter
6 tbsp curry leaves, fry half and set aside
2 tsp meat curry powder
2 bird's eye chillies, finely chopped
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
Lettuce (optional)

Heat up your pan and melt butter until it is almost brown and nutty. Add in the fresh curry leaves, chopped chillies and curry powder. Stir fry until fragrant. Add in the evaporated milk, sugar and salt to taste. Bring to boil and then simmer until the sauce starts to get thicker. Add in fried fish slices and toss to coat quickly. Dish up and serve. over a bed of shredded lettuce. Garnish with more chopped chillies for the extra kick and the fried curry leaves.

Serve immediately.

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Oyako Donburi (Chicken and Egg on Rice)

We had Japanese for lunch today. This is so simple to cook. I once have a not-so-close Japanese friend told me Japanese cooking is all about its simplicity and using best fresh ingredients possible. This is so true. Oyako in Japan means 'Parent & Child' and Donburi means 'Rice Bowl Dish'. This dish usually consist of chicken and egg as the main ingredients because of its poetic reflection to 'Parent & Child' (Source: Wikipedia).

In fact this whole recipe is based on Wikipedia. I didn't really know what goes into an Oyako Donburi apart from chicken and egg. To be very honest, I don't cook Japanese often but I do love eating them. I quote Wikepedia as below:

The donburi simmering sauce varies according to season ingredient, region, and taste. A typical sauce might consist of dashi flavored with shoyu and mirin. Proportions vary, but usually there is three to four times as much dashi as shoyu and mirin. For oyakodon, Tsuji (1980) recommends dashi flavored with light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and sugar.

To make oyakodon, cut chicken and other ingredients into bite-sized pieces. Heat 1/4 cup simmering sauce in a small frying pan. Add chicken (and sliced yellow onion, if desired) and simmer until chicken is cooked. Then add green onions and other ingredients. When all ingredients are cooked, slowly pour 1–2 lightly beaten eggs evenly over the whole dish. When eggs are nearly cooked (edges set), slide the topping from the pan onto hot cooked rice served in an oversized bowl. The hot rice will finish cooking the eggs.

I felt Mirin is very sweet and the soy sauce is not very salty unlike typical Chinese Soy Sauce. So I came up with the proportion below. And then I saw on 3hungrytummies's blog where he kept the egg yolk raw and add it in last. I like how it look and I really love creamy warm yolk so I kept the yolk and only dribble in egg whites. Here is my version of Oyakodon:

(serves 2)

Enough rice to serve 2 people, scoop into a large bowl and kept warm
2 chicken thigh fillets, cubed into large pieces
2 eggs, separated
1-2 spring onions, finely chopped and remove half for garnishing
2 small brown onion (Mine were as large as my extra large egg ), sliced into half rings

Mix together: This is your simmering sauce

1/2 cup dashi stock (I bought ready made stuffs)
1.5 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp light Kikkoman soy sauce (or Shoyu)
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce

Heat some oil in a pan and brown the chicken pieces. Set aside. Repeat with the onion slices and dish it up and set aside. You can omit this but I like to see my chicken and onions sauteed in all the dishes I eat, personal preference.

Heat half the simmering sauce in a small egg pan. Scatter over half of the sauteed onions and chicken cubes in a single layer and simmer until chicken is thoroughly cooked through. Add in half the chopped spring onions and let it cook for a minute or so. Beat the egg whites lightly and slowly dribble it over the pan evenly. Cover with a lid and simmer until egg is partially set. When eggs are nearly cooked (edges set), slide the topping from the pan onto hot cooked rice served in an oversized bowl. Make an indentation in the centre and slide in one egg yolk into the centre. The hot rice will finish cooking the eggs. Garnish with reserved chopped spring onions and serve immediately.

Repeat again to get another portion. It's quick, doesn't take long at all. If you have 2 egg pans, that would be great. We cook our own portion and eat at the same time. The creamy yolk is to die for!!!!

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