Saturday, August 04, 2007

Instant "Mama" Tom Yam Noodles.

gosh, thousand apologies for the lack of updates here. to say the least, school has been kicking my ass so badly that i haven't had much time to spend in the kitchen. what little 'culinary experience' remains limited to vicarious examples from watching Top Chef. at best, it's me jazzing up a bowl of instant noodles...

but hey, you know what? if there's anything i need to share with people, it's that the best brand of instant tom yam noodles is this Thai brand called "MaMa", which is available at most asian grocers.

Tom Yam Packaging.

i remember my mother bringing them home from her trip to Bangkok more than a decade ago. back then, the noodles was a hard find, and we had to assuage our fix by driving out to singapore's Golden Mile Complex--what we called the Little Thailand of singapore--where she would make me lug two cartons of the noodles.

the dried noodles in the pack is amazingly fragrant, thanks to what i suspect to be a par-cook process, likely a quick-fry. so straight out of the pack, the noodles already taste great without the need of any heat-involved cooking. the tom yam seasoning includes a sachet containing chilli oil, and that i guess is its winning formula. not to forget the fact that its tom yam stock powder is nice and spicy.

all right, that's all the attention i'm allowing the noodles. i really don't want to encourage people to centre their dietary needs on instant noodles :) shall attempt to share some recipes soon. meanwhile, continue enjoying your food people!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Top Chef & Cook Books.

sorry about the lack of updates, i swung from doing absolute jackshit during the june holidays to being piled with work when school came back this month. there were a couple of recipes i worked on in the last month that i thought i might blog about, but decided otherwise as they were honestly a tad subpar.

Women's Weekly's Cook.Marie Claire's Kitchen.

i decided then that i would get my hands on two cookbooks for ideas. truth be told, i've never been a fan of cookbooks because i'm b-a-d at following instructions. but like cook shows, we can learn so much--about technique, ingredients, flavours and plating--without actually following recipes. for me it's esentially about being inspired, seeing as how i often end up cooking something completely different from what i'm reading/ watching.

but a good point about testing or following recipes is summed up well by Laurence Fishburne's character, chef Edward Robinson, in the movie Bobby (2006). describing the importance of taking ownership of his food, Robinson says:
See, the first few times I tried to make this dessert, couldn't get it right. Too much sugar one time, not enough sugar the next time; couldn't find the balance. I realised I was forcing it; I'm trying to make it taste like my mama's and her mama's, but mine didn't have any poetry, didn't have any light. And then I realised, I was trying to force it to taste like my mother's, to taste like her mother's. See, it had to be Edward's creation. It had to come from me.

anyway, to say the least, my cooking has been lived vicariously through the latest season of BravoTV's "Top Chef". for the uninitiated, this reality-tv programme features professional chefs competing for the title of, well, 'Top Chef' (entailed by prize money and other goodies). similar to its sister programme "Project Runway", the contestants have to cook to save themselves from being eliminated each episode. the first challenge--the "quick fire"--sees the chefs fighting to win elimination immunity, but the real fun comes in the elimination challenge. the loveliest thing about the show is that it almost always has a renown chef coming in as a guest judge for the challenges. the first from this season being Anthony Bourdain. next week, we're apparently going to see a very yummy Rocco DiSpirito guest judging.

can't wait!

(for aussie readers: although the show's not on free-to-air television--i'm not even sure if cable has it, it is readily downloadable.)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Shao Xing/ Rice Wine Chicken.

Shao Xing Chicken.

i like how sometimes i psyche myself up bad to cook a particular dish, but see it take a completely different course half-way through the cooking process? yeah, i'm weird like that. anyway, i was going to prepare the usual honey-glazed chicken schtick, but when i got all the ingredients together, i decided to try something completely new instead.

Shao Xing (more often referred to as Chinese Rice/ Cooking Wine) Chicken is a dish i used to indulge in whenever i had the opportunity to visit Cantonese restaurants in singapore. i've never really gotten down to its true recipe--mostly because my family doesn't cook it, but from what i can tell, it's a lot about drowning your chicken in rice wine. drowning dead birds in alcohol, can't be that hard!

so this is NOT the authentic recipe, but it's nice enough to enjoy with my bowl of rice.

2 pieces, chicken drumstick & thigh (i.e. 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs)
2 inch, ginger (finely sliced/ diced)
2-3 cloves, garlic (bruised and minced)
3 sprigs, spring onion (finely sliced)
1.5 cup, chinese rice/ cooking wine (dark variety)
1 tbsp, salt
1 tbsp, ground white pepper
1 tbsp, light soy sauce (which i find optional, but only because i'm weird)
1 tbsp, sesame oil


Step 1: Marinating the Chicken.
combine all the ingredients into a bowl, and just massage the marinade into the chicken for about 5-10 minutes, before sealing the bowl up with some wrap, and leaving that to marinate for at least 3 hours (i like overnight because the marinade really gets into the meat).

Step 2: Double-Boil.
when ready, just transfer that bowl onto a steaming rack in a nice big pot. fill that with water until the water reaches about the centre of the bowl. put the lid on, switch your medium-flame on and let everything boil for at least half an hour; stop depending on how cooked you like your chicken. a full hour more or less guarantees well-cooked meat.

Shao Xing Chicken: Double Boiling.

Removing & Adding Oil.
the fat from the chicken probably melted to give you a layer of oil on top of the gravy. if you're not a fat of that, which makes no difference to the taste for the dish, then slowly remove that layer of oil. after that, add the sesame oil in.

Shao Xing Chicken: Cooked.

i know; the irony!

Final Serve.
simple dish, but pretty delightful results i thought. served well with some rice as a main, side or entree!

Shao Xing Chicken: Final Serve.