I’m not sure about you guys, but I’ve had many a moments when I was trying out some dish at a restaurant or diner and immediately told myself, “Man, I’ve gotta cook for myself a pot of that!” This classic oxtail stew is basically one of the very many “recipe cracking” episodes I have of late. Thankfully, this is very simple and rustic food to begin with and thus, very forgiving. The ingredients are also fairly straightforward , all clearly “observable” against the rather clear soup base. The latter I thought, was interesting as most of the oxtail stews I’d had, some of which I’d featured on my blog here and here are more richly coloured. Everything is conveniently cooked in one pot, my trusty Le Creuset round casserole, most of the time in the oven. No fuss at all!
Those who know me well will know that I am an advocate of Peranakan home-cooking being approachable and simple, unlike what is typically heard and said about Straits Chinese cooking being laborious and tedious. While there are indeed dishes in the Baba Nyonya cuisine which are more painstaking to prepare, there is a repertoire of Peranakan dishes which require little time to cook and even less time to enjoy as they are so delicious, they are gobbled down in no time!
When I run out of ideas for what to prepare for a simple dinner, the ” tempra” sauce is my to-go-to style of Peranakan cooking which could be used with a wide variety of ingredients, all delicious and simple to prepare. No rempah to pound, no long hours of stewing, it usually manifest as “ikan tempra” or “ayam tempra” in our household but when I want something really fast and furiously done, “telor tempra” is most definitely the dish I would whip up as it requires just a bare few minutes from the chopping board to the dining table.
I’m always in for different ways to eat oxtail as it is one of my favorite cuts of meat. It is so flavourful and the intermingling of fat, tendon and meat makes it all the more interestingly texturally. Apart from the standard beef stews, I’d also used it as a substitute for beef briskets in more Chinese dishes and oxtail works well for them too. I know that Gulyás or Hungarian Beef Goulash typically uses stew cuts like chuck roast which are chunked to become much smaller actually. But definitely no harm in trying out with oxtail. I’m glad I did because it worked beautifully.
Bearing strong contrast to many countries within the Arabian Peninsula which are characterised by inhabitable desserts, Iran is surprisingly quite well known for their vegetable and fruit produce. The first impressions of Iranian produce for me has to be their emerald green pistachios and saffron but more recently we saw other fruits like oranges imported from there as well. The local climate is particularly conducive for fruit and vegetable cultivation it seems. As such, fruits and greens form a large part of an Iranian diet and this can be seen through the variety of salads enjoyed by them. Amongst what I’d read on Persian cuisine, Salad-e Shirazi must surely be the easiest to prepare.
Roti Babi is a Penang Peranakan dish which I have been quite curious about since I read the recipe in Debbie Teoh’s book. Bread slices coated generously with an egg batter reminds me much of traditional French toast, a childhood delight for my sister and I, only that in Roti Babi the bread is much thicker and stuffed with an “inti” (filling) made up of minced pork and onions. What is more intriguing is the “rempah” (spice paste) used in the filling, which consist of ketumbar (coriander seeds), buah pala (nutmeg) and cekur (lesser galangal aka “sand ginger”). I can already imagine how wonderfully perfumed the inti will be just from reading the recipe and yet at the same time, wonder how cekur actually tastes like as I’d not used it in cooking before!
海南炸猪排 Hainanese Deep Fried Pork Chops is another dish that sends me right back to my childhood. My mum prepared a version of this fairly frequently when I was young, because my sister and I, as children loved fried food! I remember vividly how I used to help my mother tumbuk i.e. pound cream crackers using our old mortar and pestle on the floor laid with a layer of old newspapers beside the kitchen sink as my mother washed and chopped ingredients for other dishes. The sweet and tangy flavours from this dish are most remarkable, and all the more memorable. Well, we are not of Hainanese descent, so truth be told, I’m not sure where and from whom my mother learnt this dish from. Was it from one of the zup chai png stalls in Chinatown? Or was it from the famous Hainanese curry rice stall that opened only during the wee hours of the morning near Kovan? Being the clever woman she was, this was definitely well within her means to have reverse-engineered it. But one thing remained certain till this very day, my mother’s Hainanese Deep Fried Pork Chops were simply delish!!!
Another rainy day, means another pasta day! It seems uncanny, but I enjoy making pasta when it is pouring outside and too lazy to go out. Simple recipes for simple lunches on a simple friday afternoon. 🙂
Linguini con Funghi Porcini e Bacon, something I whip up when I’m in the splurging mood. I love the woodsy aroma of porcini mushrooms, which is much more pungent than the usual brown or white buttons. I’d tried with the latter varieties as well as shiitake but the effect is just not quite the same. The flavours gel so well with bacon and butter, so rich in taste and aroma but definitely not so good for the calorie count! And hence the splurging mood!
We love Taiwan and had been there more than half a dozen times over the last couple of years. Fabulous food, good shopping and breathtaking scenery, the island country continually astounds us in with her ever-changing facades of beauty, fun and excitment. And that’s basically what keeps us going back. We are never bored there and feel strangely at home all the time. When we got to know that the renowned Japanese patissier Sadaharu Aoki 青木定治 had opened a dessert salon in Taipei, the level of excitement that amounted could barely be contained! This gives us yet another reason to make another trip, this time a pilgrimage, to pay homage to the great Paris based pastry master. It is no secret that I’m in awe of Aoki san’s creations. But travelling frequently to Paris or even Tokyo to try his works proved to be quite a feat. Aoki’s outlet in Taipei is probably our closest pitstop to pastry heaven.
I love pasta! Incredibly easy as a one-meal dish and but yet, immensely gratifying!