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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Week 4, 2015

Jan 19 (Mon)

Mondays are the only non-riding days, so I had lunch with my riding buddies at an Italian restaurant in Duxton Hill.  The food was very very good. Calamaris were crispy but not oily, the semolina bread was warm and fragrant. The brurrata could've been creamier, but my penne with eggplant sauce was excellent. I especially liked the fried eggplant skin threads on top. Also pictured is the shrimp pesto pasta ordered by one of my friends. I was so stuffed I had no space for dessert, which is a very rare thing for me =o(

Since lunch was so heavy and satisfying, dinner was a light Ginger Scented Chicken Soup
I always think of this as THE chicken soup for the soul. The first time I made it, I kept on inhaling the heavenly gingery fragrance that filled the house as the chicken was being cooked. The resulting broth is light but very sophisticated in flavors. You can either drink it as a soup, or add noodles to it to make it a meal. I served it with stir fried green vegetables I bought from the farmer's market on Sunday.

Jan 20 (Tue)

Beer Braised Beef Brisket
I can't believe it when I saw the date of my blog post when I first wrote about this dish. 2007, when we first moved to Singapore! So much has happened since then, but I'm still making this dish, with a few modifications. I've acquired a local voltage slow cooker, so I usually cook it in that now (high for 5 hrs). I've also found frozen beef tendon at a butcher called Mmmm! so I throw in two packets of those, but the tendons need to be cooked in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes before being added to the stew, otherwise it'll take ages to get them tender. Eggs are added in the last 1.5 hours of cooking, and carrots the last hour. I still make beef noodles with the leftover on the next day for lunch.

Tofu Century Egg Salad

Since the beef has a strong flavor, I paired it with a tofu salad. This is another favorite Shanghainese dish and it is super easy to make.

1 pkt (300g) Japanese silken tofu
1-2 century egg (I use Yung Kee's because they always have a soft center)
3-4 tbsp minced Zha Cai
Light soy sauce

Assemble as shown in photo, and drizzle with soy sauce and sesame oil (optional) right before serving. Use the best soy sauce you can find, and don't pour on too much, start with 1 tsp per block of tofu 

Jan 21 (Wed)
Cilantro Lime Fish Taco

Had beef noodle for lunch, so dinner is light. This is really easy to make, and I usually don't bother making my own salsa and use store bought ones. Make sure the fish is nicely charred and you have yourself a light and healthy dinner.

Jan 22 (Thur)
Spicy Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Miso Dressing

I had a big lunch with another group of riding friends at my old neighborhood Chinese restaurant whose stir-fried kailan with two sausages I often re-create. I discovered they have another dish where they throw in copious amount of duck liver sausage and traditional Chinese sausage - chicken claypot rice. Needless to say, I ate way too much again. So dinner is this light salad. I ate it with home made bread, which I shall write a post about some other time.

Jan 23 (Fri)
Steamed Pork Ribs with Black Bean Sauce

The link above is a video of a Taiwanese TV show where the chef demonstrates how to make this dish. They spoke Taiwanese, but luckily there's subtitle. I've written it down with my estimate of how much each ingredient he used. The toughest challenge for this dish is actually finding the right meat. It's called 肋排 in Chiniese, which translates into ribs, but you only want the parts that have soft cartilage bones. I had to settle for frozen, which affected the texture. I also ran out of light soy sauce and had to use dark, which explains why the meat turned out so dark. Taste-wise it was pretty good, and it is really easy to prepare. 

250g pork ribs
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp. Black fermented beans (豆豉)
Corn starch
Light soy sauce
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tsp finely chopped red chili
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp Chinese wine
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp corn starch
½ tsp Chicken granule
Sesame oil
1 green onion, chopped

1.      Soak ribs in cold water for 5-10 minutes, rinse

2.      Add about ½ beaten egg, 2 tsp corn starch, 1 tbsp lig soy sauce to the pork and mix. Pour into a shallow dish.

3.      Wash black beans with water for a few seconds, drain.

4.      Combine ginger, chili, garlic, wine, oyster sauce, soy sauce, chicken granule and corn starch. Add to the black beans and pour on top of the ribs

5.      Sprinkle with green onion, drizzle with some sesame oil

6.      Steam for 15-20 minutes, until done

Sesame Crusted Tofu with Nuoc Cham

This dish takes a little prep work: weighing down the tofu to squeeze out the water. You also have to buy the right kind of tofu. I found a tofu labeled as for 揚げ出し豆腐 (agendashi tofu) the Japanese batter fried tofu, which is essentially what this is. The sauce makes a ton, so I only make 1/4 and there's still a lot of leftover. It's completely vegetarian, and looks very impressive, good for if you have vegetarian friends coming for dinner. 

Jan 24 (Sat)

My in-laws live in Shanghai but come to stay with us every winter for three to four months. Sometimes they read about certain foods in Singapore so when they're here they want to try. This time they are curious about Roti Prata. When we first moved here, J used to play pick-up basketball every Sunday and across the street is a 24-hr prata joint called... Mr. Prata. He used to buy take-out after his game and we'd have it for Sunday breakfast. He quit the basketball game years ago and I never had a prata since then.

Today I stepped into Mr. Prata for the first time. The prata guy is very efficient and makes it look all so easy. You can see, however, how much oil is used in the prata. I'm so glad we stopped eating this. But once every couple of years is ok.

To counter all that oil, I ate bircher muesli. I realize there are many ways to make this and you can add all kinds of stuff to it, but here's a basic recipe. I usually add some fresh fruits on top or some nuts inside.

The first time I had bircher muesli was at the Four Seasons Hotel in Mumbai. It was love at first bite. Their version also had almonds and raisins in it, and just the right balance of acidity and sweetness. I asked for the recipe and they promised to email it to me, but they never did =o( So till this day I'm still searching for that "perfect" recipe.

We went to a friend's house for BBQ and I took the opportunity to make a crepe Suzette millecrepe cake. The crepes took 2 hours to make =o( I think I need another crepe pan...

I was too greedy and made too much filling. Not wanting to waste it, I piled the fillings on, but when there's too much filling between the layers they tend to slide against each other. When I left the cake to chill in the fridge an avalanche effect happened. Luckily I was able to shove everything back in place, but the sides look a little messy. Boy I'm out of practice =o( 

Jan 25 (Sun)

I had a great riding clinic with a visiting trainer this morning. For the first time ever I felt I was communicating with Istria with my mind. I never knew this, but horses actually mirror the riders action. I mean I sort of knew this, in the way that when you're nervous, your horse gets nervous, but I didn't realize they actually do EXACTLY what you do. Anyway, without boring anyone to death, suffice it to say the "high" I got from the clinic was incredible.

Then I came home to scrambled eggs with smoked salmon made by J. I pulled some of the Limpa bread I made last week out of the freezer and had a very satisfying post-ride brunch.

J has been going to his Chef in Training classes for three weeks now, and yesterday he learned duck confit, coq au vin, grilled steak and mashed potato. Eager to practice, he offered to cook steak tonight, along with the duck confit that he brought home.

We had gotten the steaks from a wagyu appreciation class at Palate Sensations two weeks ago and kept them frozen. Last night I took them out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge, and one hour before cooking I took them out of the fridge so they can come to room temp. To speed this up I placed them (vacuum sealed) on the black surface of the induction cooker and placed a heavy metal flat bottomed pot on each of the steak (Le Creuset works well for this). Because metal and black coloured surfaces conduct heat faster, by doing this I'm essentially "drawing" out the coldness in the steak faster, allowing them to equalize in temperature with the environment in a much shorter time.

On the left is Miyazaki and on the right Darling Down. When you have good beef all you need is a generous amount of salt and pepper, and a little bit of olive oil so the beef can shine on its own. I like to serve steak on a bed of salad to cut the greasiness a little bit, especially with wagyu steak.

J also fried up the duck confit that he brought home, and he's planning to make it again soon. Can't wait =oP

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