Wednesday, December 30, 2009

sumptuous dinner 301209

got off work a little late, and when he reached the supermarket, wife had already gotten most of the stuff like lettuce, tomatoes, bread, etc. they continued picking up somemore items like half a fresh chicken before checking out.

this was the second day he didn't have to do anything. she put enough water in the wok to cover the chicken and left it to boil. once hot, she added a cube of chicken essence.

while waiting, she made a special garnish - a combination of shredded parsley, chopped garlic, sichuan pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil. the last ingredient to be added was the soup from boiling the chicken.

boiled chicken in special garnish - chopped up the chicken when it became cool and drizzled the special garnish all over it. very tender and juicy, the meat fell apart easily just by using chopsticks. the savoury sauce complemented the chicken really well, reminded him of those used with hainanese chicken rice.

lettuce in oyster sauce - she made use of some chicken soup and oyster sauce to stir-fry the lettuce. the only qualm he had was that the leaves were too bulky. he felt that they should have been chopped into more manageable slices.

egg soup with tomatoes - poured the remaining soup from boiling the chicken into a pot and boiled it together with some tomatoes until tender. she then added eggs but forgot to stir the soup. hence it didn't become the "egg flower" soup, but the egg soup instead. good to balance out the savoury dishes.

simple meals everyday, but they bring a sense of contentment. beautiful, isn't it?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

capsicum chicken and kangkong in oyster sauce

had a long day at work. she was waiting for him to be back before she started preparing freshly cooked dinner.

she soaked the kangkong and capsicum for a bit before slicing and chopping them. had the usual garlic and ginger combination too. as for meat, she cut small pieces out of a chunk of chicken breast. not telling him how she wanted to cook today, she ordered him to sit and wait while she started the wokking.

first dish, stir-fried chicken with capsicum strips. the thin and long slices of capsicum made eating them a whole new experience. as for the chicken, she blanched the marinated pieces to prepare them for the stir-fry. he thought this would take away the flavour and make the meat tough, but he was wrong again. tender and juicy, totally different from the kind of chicken breast he had ever made. nice color too, except that he bought yellow capsicum after mistaking it for red.

next dish, kangkong in oyster sauce. she boiled the vegetables, with no seasoning whatsoever. weird way of cooking, he thought. she sniggered and started frying the garlic till fragrant before adding the vegetables. drizzled some oyster sauce and stirred until even before serving. another novel way of eating for him, he had only known sambal kangkong. just look at the oh-so-slick vegetables......

total cost, $4.10. nice.

Monday, December 28, 2009

$5 dinner of beef, brinjal and dace

bought groceries after work, again. got a can of fried dace in black beans, 2 brinjals, a bag of kangkong, and a piece of beef. decided that kangkong was for the next day, and started working on dinner.

she cut large chunks of the brinjal and placed them in a porcelain plate. the only brinjal he ever ate was with chilli paste, until she told him to open the can of dace, and started shredding and spreading the bits of dace onto the brinjal. not wanting to get his hands oily, he took a teaspoon and scooped the salted black beans onto the brinjal, and then drizzled it with the remaining oil in the can. set it to steam for 15 minutes.

steamed brinjal with fried dace in salted black beans. the can of dace is very salty on its own, but with the unseasoned brinjal, everything seemed to blend well. a refreshing way of eating the brinjal he loved so well.

the next thing he knew, he was being ordered to cut ginger, dice garlic and slice the beef. she did the marination of the beef with rice wine, kushiyaki sauce, and some rice flour. why rice flour? she said it was to lock the mixture to the beef, then hurried him to heat the wok and pour in sesame oil. fried the garlic and ginger on high until fragrant, then threw in the beef. added in blobs of oyster sauce when most of the beef looked cooked and stir-fried some more till satisfactory.

stir-fried beef in oyster sauce. he was a little upset that she objected to pan-frying with just the kushiyaki sauce, but this ended up tasting great. wife sometimes really works wonders, more frequent in recent. the potential in her seems to be awakening...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

busy sunday afternoon

sop, got up at noon, washed up and started preparing food.

first, they made dough for mochi. corn starch, glutinous rice flour with freshly boiled water. stirred until the mixture became gooey, before putting it into the steamer.

steamed diced yam with some sugar till tender, before letting him mash up the whole bowl of it.

by now, the mochi dough was already cooked. she started to mould mochi while filling them with the yam paste. meanwhile, he heated some glutinous rice flour in the wok till brown as per her instructions. turned off the flame and left the stuff in the wok for her and prepared to make the dough for xiao long bao.

yam-filled mochi after coating with the cooked glutinous rice flour. you can probably barely see it, but some of them have been molded in the shape of a heart.

he proceeded to mix all-purpose flour with the hot water, and added flour until the dough was no longer sticky to the touch. he squeezed it, punched it, smashed it, pulled it, kneaded it, threw it into the air, all just to condition it for the next stage. next, he rolled the dough into an elongated shape and cut out seemingly equal pieces. sprinkled flour on the surface before flattening each piece into not-as-round-as-he-would-like shapes. by this time, the usual marinated mince pork was ready to be used. she complained about the tall and skinny peacock-long-baos that he made, and insisted that they were supposed to be short and fat. did it her way anyway, was getting hungry. made little folds on the skirt of the wrap, and this was when he commented that xiao long bao if white in color, should have been made with rice flour instead of wheat flour. unknown which is right or wrong at this moment. to be revisited.

here they are, big long baos.

couldn't find any vinegar, so she used soy sauce, garlic and green onions as dip. nice, but maybe he rolled the skin a little too thick. hahahaha.

being short of a staple, they agreed that he would cook congee again. today he used 2 cups of rice, 12 cups of water, 2 cubes of chicken essence and made small balls of meat from the mince pork, such that the people would get more chances to eat them. unfortunately, the mom again happened to scoop away half of the meatballs. well...let's just enjoy the picture.

had to wash up a real mess of dishes, giving him a backache. but no, no time for any rest yet, there still was leftover mashed yam in the refrigerator! after confirming that she would give up that bowl of yam, he heated the wok with 3 tablespoons of oil and scooped in the clump of yam mash. once fragrant, 50 grams of sugar and 50cc of water were added in an attempt to remake what you eat at chinese banquets. turned up the heat and stirred vigorously until it became gooey and smooth. the recipe he referred to online said to steam it for another 30 minutes. however, he decided to skip it since he was already feeling tired and a taste test seemed ok.

asked for volunteers and there were only 3, wife, littlest brother and himself. the comments were that it was too sweet, and wife requested for a cold one. he made them all eat it up the way it was anyhow. picture of the completed yam mash "orh nee".

oil and flour all over the body, time for a shower and perhaps an early night.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

dessert on 26 december 09

bought quite a bit of flour these days and he was not too happy to have them standing there collecting dust.

suggested that they try making xiao long bao again, but she counter-suggested mochi. with the idea of competition in mind, he said he would make dango instead.

she had already gotten her recipe, so he quickly googled for a basic dango recipe and embarked on his project.

got 50grams of rice flour, 100cc of water, around 10grams of sugar and mixed them into a dough with a slightly crumbly texture. had difficulty in rolling them round, they would crumble too easily. and was afraid if he added more water, it would become runny.

a preview of the smooth balls of cadet dango before going for the boil

something probably went wrong somewhere, the dango core was still powdery instead of becoming chewy even after boiling for almost 30 minutes. the outside was ok though, chewy and sweet.

but eitherway, she still poured some strawberry jam over the dango. it only amplified the sweetness of the outside, but the core was still not that palatable.

wife used a mixture of glutinous rice flour, corn starch and 100cc of water to make hers. she used the steaming method to cook the runny dough for 20 minutes before working further on it. she also cooked some glutinous rice over medium flame, this was to be used as the powder coating.

twenty minutes up, she allowed the cooked dough to cool before dividing them into some pieces. next was to flatten them, put some nutella and roll them up into a ball. each of these were then coated with the cooked glutinous rice flour before leaving to set in the fridge.

a view of the mochi's insides. yummy nutella, but maybe the skin was too thick... opposite situation from the dango

cheesy fried chicken, stir-fried bittergourd and congee

woke up at noon after a tiring day at the beach the day before. had some braised duck with plain porridge before proceeding to affirm the online recipes to start working on dinner.

she was doing some window-shopping online, so he went ahead to mix some all purpose flour with one egg, chopped green onions and salt in a bowl.

when she finally came into the kitchen, she sliced the chicken breast open to make one large piece of meat. dusted some pepper, salt, rice wine, wrapped cheese within, threw the batter on and put it into the refrigerator for 20 minutes. she then ordered him to thinly slice the bitter gourd, since it seemed he liked to chop things up. sliced it all up like a sushi master (maybe not), smashed and peeled some garlic, chopped some chilli padi and ginger.

next, he proceeded to shallow-fry the now-ready-chicken in the wok. around 6 (maybe more) sinful tablespoons of oil on medium heat before golden-browning each side. once done, he placed the chicken onto a plate with paper kitchen towels to absorb the excess oil.

cheesy fried chicken - cut it up with kitchen scissors after it had cooled a little. looks a wee bit like roti john, huh? chicken tasted tender even though it hadn't been bashed up, amazing.

he washed up the wok for the next dish, and by this time, she had finished marinating the minced pork with salt, soy sauce and rice wine. heated 6 teaspoons of oil and started frying the ginger, garlic and chilli till he choked. that was the signal to cook the minced pork. the bittergourd was added only when most of the meat had turned opaque. kept on medium heat and continued with frequent stirs until the bittergourd became tender.

stir-fried bittergourd with minced pork - a little too salty, she had soaked the bittergourd with too much salt and misinformed him to add salt when stir-frying! probably would have tasted fine with plain porridge...alas....

he decided he wanted to cook congee with his newly acquired chicken essence cubes. got a cup of rice, 6 cups of water, 2 cubes of chicken essence and put them to cook in the electric cooker. next was to marinate the remaining mince pork with salt, soy sauce and rice white (nothing new here). wife said to add a teaspoon of flour so that the meat would stick together better for him to make meatballs. mixed well and used a teaspoon to shape some meat before putting them to cook in the congee. had to add another 2 cups of water since it was already drying up, making the ratio of rice to water 1:8.

minced pork congee in chicken soup base. littlest brother commented that the congee looked yellow, but he attributed it to the soup stock. while writing this post, it dawned upon him that he had forgotten to wash the rice. oops. luckily google yielded little negative comments.

hainanese chicken rice for dinner 25 Dec 09

went out for a day at the beach with his polytechnic classmates. had a good day out in the sun with some games, well-planned by the host. this, however, got them very very hungry.

took almost an hour's bus to AMK Hub and went to the foodcourt for chicken rice, mainly because of the air-conditioning. as usual, ordered half a chicken with 2 plates of rice, amounting to a total of $14. that's 20cents cheaper than their usual choice at S-11, and that stall seems to be tasting weird in recent.

this stall is one of the first few stalls on your left when you enter the foodcourt. $14 is more expensive than most coffee shops, but the air-conditioning, the quality and taste of the chicken, the deboning skill and the presentation make up for it. thick slices of tender and succulent chicken, with salty sauce sprinkled over it to enhance the taste. what more can a hungry couple ask for? he downed his with lots of chicken rice chilli, while she had hers with just some dark soy sauce.

homecooked dinner 24 December 09

returned home after half a day at work and took a nap. got up late evening and started preparing dinner....

sweet vinegar pork - another version of the wife's sweet and sour variety. didn't taste too good... marinate was made last minute, to the extent that some ingredients had to be thrown in after the pork had been cooked well in the wok.

french beans with dried shrimp - wife wanted to put the shrimps in last, he felt that the shrimps should have been fried first for fragrance. nobody knows who's right yet. this time round she put very little oil and it caused the beans to get burnt, most of them suffered black patches. those with more severe injuried were picked out and thrown away, probably carcinogenic.

made some watercress soup. this time he put a huge dried red date and some wolfberries into the soup, and it tasted the whole lot sweeter. boiled the watercress with some sliced of pork loin marinated with salt. a second difference in opinion formed, wife said that the watercress shouldn't be boiled for too long, but he felt that since it was a soup, you should cook longer to bring out the flavour. again, nobody knows who's right. so he just turned off the flame anyway, to save some gas and prevent arguments. no picture of this, since it had already spoilt their moods.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

dinner at breeks ngee ann city

wife was upset today, so he rushed down to orchard after the company function to have dinner with her. though they bought vegetables yesterday, she said she wasn't in the mood to cook.

browsed aimlessly through the many shops, until she decided she wanted to eat some steak. hadn't had red meat in a while, so he allowed her to have it for dinner.

settled for breeks at ngee ann city.

ribeye steak $22.90++
asked for it to be done medium well and to be paired with mushroom sauce. see that piece of fat in the middle? ate a bit of it together with the meat, but left much of it untouched for health's sake. wife finished up the mushroom sauce with around a third of the steak left, but he didn't want to request for more sauce since you know how sinful that would be. the potato was eaten last, but was still steaming with vapor when they halved it.

smoked salmon $8.90++
he wanted to try some smoked salmon before buying any package from the supermarkets. tasted alright, but they prefer thicker chunks for now. garlic bread was crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. this dish also came with some lettuce hidden under the salmon.

been years since he last had a meal at breeks. good experience this night. total damage : $37.45

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

breakfast and dinner for 22 Dec 09

surprisingly, wife woke up much earlier than him today to prepare breakfast for him. made instant noodles with pork loin strips. she said there was a hidden treasure within it, and named it "nei you qian kun". he immediately guessed that it was an egg. which was the case anyway.

in the evening, he took a shuttle bus to plaza singapura to meet wife. turned out it was crowded due to some celebrities event going on. so they headed to pomo with the intent to try out either juju or tao's. she was disagreeable with the price, and wanted to eat at ishimura instead.

too hungry to argue further, they took a quick browse and he decided on some dishes, which were all suited to her taste. he's not picky anyway.

unagi bento $8.90
came with a bowl of cold but smooth chawanmushi, 2 chunks of toufu in sauce, cold mixed vegetables of corn and lady's fingers, some pickles and of course, unagi. quite good to eat, or was it because of his hunger?

beef patty omurice $5.50
beef in black pepper sauce seemed like premium beef to him (dreaming, perhaps), omelette had a puffy and moist texture, when he was expecting it to be dry. thumbs up for this dish.

scallop vegetable pancake $4.90
ordered this instead of the japanese pizza since they've already tried it the other time. 6 scallops on the top and wife scoffed at the decision to pay that amount of money for a vegetable patty of cabbage and corn. he found it okay though.

raspberry and mango milkshake $1.50 each
raspberry for her, mango for him. had sago in the drink, helped balance out the savoury tastes.

the next table by now was already gawking at their food. probably in disbelief that 2 people could be so greedy as to eat so much. the people couldn't even finish one set of their own food. little did they know they were to witness more gorging action...

mekajiki $4.90
fell in love with this after trying it with colleagues. gave in to his insatiable lust for food and bought a platter of swordfish. however, this didn't feel as smooth and the meat was rubbery, unlike the one he had the other day. wife agreed.

next, they went on a long shopping stroll in daiso before heading back to ntuc for groceries. by that time, he was already seeing stars........

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

sweet and sour pork loin, dinner 21 December 09

she prepared sugar yam again in the afternoon and left it in the fridge to take form. used 4 big scoops of sugar.....

also, she had already chopped up the vegetables to wait for him to cook. she forgot to peel the asparagus though, so some of them were too tough to eat. again, he seared some smashed garlic in the oil till fragrant before throwing in the vegetables, salt and butter. she found the end product too bland, even when he had threw in a large chunk of butter and half a teaspoon of salt. he's trying to eat healthily.

she had requested that he buy some pork loin after work, and he found frozen meat chunks of loin. the chilled section offered only loin ribs. she took out 3 slabs of meat and cut strips out of them to marinate in ginger, flour, egg, salt and spring onions. also made her concoction of her favourite sweet and sour sauce, vinegar, sugar, water, kushiyaki, soy sauce.

helped her fry the meat while she washed up the dirty dishes to make space. set on kitchen towel to remove excess oil. when he proceeded to fry the white sesame over medium heat, many of the seeds started jumping all around the place, forcing him to turn down the flame.

and the finished product here, after rolling it in the sweet and sour sauce and white sesame. thick sinful syrup, and the meat tasted a tad too salty. seems like they are becoming opposite, one advocating healthy eating, while the other dishing out salt and sugar at will. luckily, it went well with the bland tofu porridge.

not one to waste food (again, they are dissimilar), he pan-fried the leftover batter. had wanted to deep-fry it but the wok was too heavily coated with sugar and he found it too troublesome to wash it up (was also getting very hungry). the batter didn't expand, and it turned out to be something like a salty roti prata. fortunately, it didn't taste bad.

end of report for 21 december 09.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

homecooked dinner 19 Dec 09

bought chicken gizzard, red and yellow peppers, broccoli, sweetcorn, asparagus, carrots.

took a nap before waking up to prepare dinner.

she washed the gizzards, boiled them for a bit before removing slicing them. chopped up the other stuff that she needed, red and yellow peppers, ginger and garlic.

for his always-chapalang-dish, he chopped up broccoli, carrot, asparagus, garlic, yellow onion, and sweetcorn. the more interesting aspect was remove the kernels from the corn. googled for "kernels off the cob" and found this method of using a knife to remove around 2 rows at a time by cutting through the kernels. however, he only sliced 4 times to get all the kernels off, and achieved a rectangular corn cob. sadly, that got thrown away instinctively, and he didn't want to get it out of the rubbish bin for photographs.

stir-fried chicken gizzards - the stuff were boiled once before stirfrying with the garlic, ginger and peppers. no bad smell, and tasted superb. got him wondering why he objected to buying the gizzards earlier on.

super mixed vegetables - browned garlic and onions before throwing the rest of the vegetables in. melted some butter and sprinkled some salt to taste. mixed them evenly before serving.

wife commented that the onions probably spoilt the sweetness of the corn and butter. however, the broccoli tasted good, maybe because it had absorbed more of the butter with its head of "hair".

Saturday, December 19, 2009

breakfast at element restaurant

took a shower before going for breakfast. most of the doors still had their newspaper bags hung on their doors, quite evident that they had yet to leave their doors.

the restaurant was still quite empty when they reached. got seated and immediately prepared for the onslaught, the champagne being the most probable culprit for their hunger.

1st round, scramble egg, ham, sausages, banana cake, bacon and some apricot pastry.

2nd round, more sausages, ham, hash browns, samosa and chicken bun.

he requested for a egg roti prata from the chef, looked super yummy while it was being made. took a bowl of curry way before the prata was ready, and the chef took a second look at the hungry man in front of him.

wife finally finished her stuff and requested for some "plain porridge". this time round, the kitchen staff had added quite a bit of fish slices into the pot. lucky! topped with some pickle cai xim and fried onions, good to go.

the waiters and waitresses then started taking away their cutlery one by one. made them wonder if they had eaten too much and it was a sign for them to go away...

dinner at silk road amara

they had their anniversary dinner silk road, amara

the first hiccup to the buildup of this day was getting charged taxes when he was told that it was a nett amount he would be paying for. however, this was resolved with an email with the management, who agreed to refund the difference.

the next hiccup, was not checking the menu for the set dinner. ended up with a 5-course dinner that wasn't filling.

first up, tea cups were set in front of us, and hot water was then poured in to make the tea.

a peak of the contents before water was poured in. not too sure what this tea is called. can see wolfberries, green raisins? walnut, rock sugar... what else?

the first dish - sichuan spicy and sour soup. luckily it wasn't that spicy, so wife could still take it. quite nice.

the waitress then came over to inform that the "beijing crispy duck" would take another 1 hour before it could be served since the kitchen would only start roasting at a certain time. no choice, but to much on the seemingly innocent pickles. nice savoury taste, but soon, their mouths would end up tingling.

mala pickles, of some sort.

the second dish, beijing-style bean sauce noodles. this is a lot smaller than it looks, just slightly bigger than a bowl of soba. tasty, but definitely not filling. too hungry, so he also slurped up the soup.

third dish - xiao long bao. looking at this made him shudder. she had made some xiao long bao yesterday night, and it had been a disaster. luckily, it didn't taste that way on this night.

fourth dish - sichuan pancake. had to wait for a long time without anything to munch on, because nothing was ready. this pancake was supposed to be the dessert, but it still came before the beijing crispy duck. hungry people just ate without much complaints. had them hot and crispy, and the sweet filling of red bean paste was comforting.

finally, beijing crispy duck made its appearance. gobbled it up without much ado, and still felt hungry.

it felt that he was the odd one out in the restaurant, the staff and guests that day were mostly foreigners, and it seemed for a moment that he was out of the country. the wife laughed.