Monday, October 5, 2009

Under New Management...?

More often than it should, things like this happen: you head to a "reputable" restaurant, with moderate expectations, only to be disappointed by some (if you're lucky), most, or all aspects of the experience. Then you're faced with a dilemma: do I warn others about the potential dangers, or let them discover and decide for themselves?

For my twitter followers (there aren't that many, to be honest) you probably would've seen my tweets about my disappointment at a certain Chinese restaurant in Sydney CBD. I'll recount (in detail) what happened tonight, and decide for yourself whether my comments were fair or not.

We --a party of 5-- arrived at the restaurant shortly after 6pm, and were promptly seated at a table set up for 4, though numerous, if not all the tables set up for 6 were available. Once seated, we were given one set of 2 menus for the table, leaving 3 of us with basically nothing to do but inspect the cutlery and plates. All of them had water stains. All of them had some sort of food remains on them. One had fatty sauce stuck on half of the underside of the plate. The same for the bowls. A prompt and polite request for fresh (and clean) plates and other pieces of crockery was made, only to be met by an icy and somewhat annoyed response. Nonetheless, new plates (and plates only!) were delivered; however, on closer inspection they showed pretty much the same problems as the first batch, though on a smaller scale. Fearing retribution, we clean the plates ourselves, with tissues and hot tea.

Orders were taken (the response to each dish ordered was "sure, you can have that"), and the complimentary soup delivered. The waiter discovered that we had no spoons, went to fetch them, dropped them off and went away. Three other waiters and a manager passed us by, none of them noticing that the soup had not been served. We give up and do it ourselves.

Then the food. Roast Pipa duck was delivered with the stir-fried spinach (vegetable dishes are usually served last), as well as the rice. The duck had not been flattened and dried enough, and the spinach much too salty. And, yes, the rice was self-service. The third dish, a beef and mushroom stirfry on a hot plate, comes shortly after, a seemingly smaller portion to the one served to the neighbouring table. The meat had been so tenderised with bicarb, its appearance was the part that resembled beef. The fourth, braised sea cucumber with prawn roe in a hot pot, came when we had almost finished all the other dishes. The sea cucumber pieces were a bright orange instead of a mellow brown; the taste was, however, acceptable.

It took a good 15 minutes after clearing all the food on the table for the wait staff to realise we were done, and another 5 before they did anything about it. While for our neighbouring table dessert consisted of sweet soup, biscuits and a moderate-sized fruit platter for their party of 4, we were only presented with a small offering of sliced fruit (5 pieces each of orange, rockmelon and watermelon). Seeing that our chances of getting anything more than that were next to none, we call for the bill, met again by a sour and spiteful cashier who looked on with distain as the credit card was replaced by cash. No thanks, no smiles, only looks of spite and disgust as we walked out of the restaurant.

Sure, it wasn't a expensive meal, the bill coming to less than $30 per person. But for the restaurant's former reputation, location, and target market, paying $30 per head is, in my opinion, too much. Apart from the delivery of food, all other requests were met with disgruntledness and distain. It was as though we were not guests at their restaurant, but unwelcomed gatecrashers who were squandering their food. Not to mention the hygiene--or lack thereof. Beneath its seemingly shiny exterior is a restaurant which is crumbling, from its bathrooms to its management. Considering last time they tried to charge me tea and rice even though I showed up at the restaurant after the bill had been called, I'm more convinced than ever to avoid that place like the plague from now on.

So, dear reader, having heard my tale, would you prefer to be warned, or to discover the disaster for yourself?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

quick meals

There is always a batch of wontons in my freezer. Always.

While most of my friends stock up on Mee Goreng or Nissin noodles when they're on special, chances are I'd be sitting at my desk endlessly wrapping wontons, freezing them one tray at a time.


I don't know.

Growing up in a family that ate predominantly Shanghainese food even though we lived in Hong Kong, the difference between Chinese cuisine styles have occasionally stumped my 2-and-a-half year old self. Like why are the wonton wrappers we use white instead of yellow? Why do we not put prawn mince in the filling? And why do we have veges in the filling? And why are wonton wrappers square while dumpling (jiao zi) wrappers are round?

Why? Why? Why?

...and that's how my nickname, yygall, came into existence.

And also signified how much interest I had in food since a young age.

I remember on one occasion insisting on stir-frying my own fried rice, while mum held me in her arms. And on another cool spring day watching mum wrap wontons at amazing speed. I tried to learn, but honestly can't remember how mine turned out. It probably wasn't until age 7 or so that I could finally do it and the resulting wontons (at least, cooked ones) were indistinguishable from Mum's. To this day our uncooked wontons still look different: most of the time hers would have 2 or 3 dimples, while mine would have 1 or 2. But I've gotten much better at making the filling: one taste, and the difference is there.

Celery, carrot, waterchestnut, shiitake mushroom and pork wontons

Wonton fillings are various, and occasionally unexpected. In Shanghai, a lot of "fast food" stores would have a small collection of fillings, from the 三鮮(San Xian, with pork, dried freshwater prawn or kai yang and preserved vegetable; another popular combination is freshwater fish, prawn and pork mince) to various 菜肉 (vegetable and meat) combinations, depending on what's in season. Most vegetables can be used in the filling, though traditionally leafy greens that aren't bitter, are fresh and fragrant are preferred.

One of my favourites is 薺菜肉餛飩. Shepard's purse is quite popular in Shanghai-style home cooking, for its fragrance and texture. Only the youngest of shoots are used, though; and it's almost never served to pregnant or breastfeeding women, or those with heart disorders (Chinese medicine principles). Another favourite is water celery and pork: water celery is like a smaller, condensed version of normal supermarket variety celery, with most stalks not longer than 30cm and as thick as a pencil. It's refreshing, light, crunchy and oh-so-fragrant; something I can eat every day and not get sick of. Ever.

But, having not yet found water celery yet, this combination of water chestnuts and celery is almost as good. It's crunchy, refreshing, colourful, and fragrant; the combination of flavours and aromas from the pork and shiitake is almost perfect. And the does little in terms of taste and texture, but adds that extra little something visually: after all, we eat with the eyes as well as with our sense of taste and smell.

Why have instant noodles, when you can have this instead?

Celery and Pork Wontons
Makes 80
2 packets of Double Merino Shanghai Wonton wrappers
500g pork mince
1 egg
1/4 celery, finely chopped
10-12 water chestnuts*, smashed then chopped
1/3 carrot, finely diced
4 medium-sized dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked overnight, finely diced

1 Tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine
2 tspn salt
large pinch of finely ground white pepper
2 tspn sugar
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp sesame oil

*Frozen water chestnuts are available in the freezer section of some, if not most Asian groceries. They're white, round, almost pebble like in appearance. To thaw, just pop a few in a freezer bag, tie it up, then submerge in a bowl of cold water - this prevents them from being overly waterlogged. Pare off any of the skin that may be on (it's dark brown and woody and inedible), smash with the back of a knife (preferably a cleaver of sorts), then roughly chop.

In a large mixing bowl, place the pork mince, cooking wine, salt, pepper, sugar, and mix through. Beat in the egg and water, mix vigorously until the mince is reminiscent of a sticky dough. Add the sesame oil and mix through til well dispersed. Add the chopped vegetables and mix thoroughly.
For more even distribution of filling, divide the mix into 16 lots (halve the mix 4 times), each lot should have enough filling for 5 wontons.
To wrap, the easiest way is to fold diagonally, then press the 2 corners on the hypotenuse (longest side) together in the middle.
To cook, place the wontons in a large pot of boiling water (no more than 20 at a time), stirring gently but constantly during the first few minutes on medium to high heat. Once it returns to the boil, add 1/2 cup of cold tap water for every 10 wontons. Once it comes to boil again, turn off the heat and serve immediately.
The traditional base for wontons is pork bone soup, but it chicken soup, or even watered down soy sauce with a smidgeon of sesame oil can be used. No dipping sauce required.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Chronic Ramen.
Two simple words that, somehow, managed to nag me endlessly for weeks, ever since I came across the first blog post on Gamushara (or, phonetically, Gumshara). The thought of thick, tonkotsu (pork bone) stock, chashu and ramen haunted my mind ever since.
To me, anything with yellow noodles is a reminder of Dad. My father is a big noodle lover. A gourmet in his own right. Most of my earliest memories involve food, all thanks to him. On one occasion during my grandfather's visit to HK, he drove his Mercedes to this Dai Pai Dong (HK street vendor) for beef noodles after dinner one night. Just him, and his father-in-law. It was so good, my grandfather talked about it to no end, claiming that the beef noodles he had in HK was "the best in the universe". Nothing else compared, according to Grandad. And it irked me to no end that Dad never once thought of taking me there fo a bowl of beef noodles. It was a grudge I held until last year. And man were they good.
Noodles, to be more precise, ramen, formed one of the two reasons for him visiting Japan (the other being onsen, but that's somewhat a different story). Last year it happened twice: once in January, and the second time in December. Both times I was assigned the task of planning the itiniery (he had bought airfares+accommodation, not tour group, because "my daughter speaks Japanese"), and his only request was for ramen. So instead of going to Tsukiji for sushi and sashimi, we loitered around Shibuya and Shinjuku looking for obscure noodle stands. It irked my mum and aunt so much they decided to take matters into their own hands and went to a kaiten sushi for our last meal in Tokyo, leaving Dad and I to enjoy steaming bowls of ramen with only a plastic sheet between our backs and the hurling winter winds outside.
But the best ramen we've had so far was in Osaka, at a place called Kiou Ramen (亀王らーめん). The 黑肉一本面 had a big piece of Kuroniku, their special boneless pork rib chunk which rested on a steaming bowl of noodles, with the usual sides in a white, thick tonkotsu stock. It was so good we were there for two nights in a row. Had the kid from the other family we were travelling with not gotten ill from indigestion (he ate 2 bowls of ramen the previous night), we probably would've made it three.
So, when Gamushara began appearing on blog posts everywhere (well, almost), I wanted to check it out for myself. See what the fuss was about. And if it lived up to the amazing ramen I've had over the years.
Condiments (self-serve, from left to right): roasted sesame seeds, pickled garlic, pickled ginger.
It was Sunday, and way past lunchtime, so the food court was relatively empty. I spotted the stall at once upon entering the food court: all I could see was the back of a man slaving over a pot of stock, who, upon seeing me with eyes at the back of his head or something, turned around and greeted me with a smile. Orders were promptly taken, and about 5 minutes later the bell was rung.
"If the soup is too thick, just bring it back and I'll thin it down for you."

Tonkotsu Ramen ($8.50) with half-cooked egg ($1.50)
I look down on the tray, and can't help but smile. The stock would be the least of my problems: it was just what I wanted. Thick, collagen-rich, it slid over my tongue and lingered on my tastebuds like velvet. It was almost as good as what I had tasted in Japan, or anywhere, for that matter. The chashu was much leaner than a lot of the chashu elsewhere-it had more meat and less fat, which was the way I liked it. And this was before I tasted the noodles.
Oh, the noodles.
The thick tonkotsu stock clung to each strand, like a child refusing to let go of their parents on the first day of school. It carried the richness and flavour of the stock perfectly; and I was done with half the bowl before realising that the condiments remained untouched on the side. Hastily they were added, and what resulted was a nuttier, richer, with the hint and bite of ginger and garlic which merely elevated the experience. Stares came from the neighbouring table, wondering why this silly little girl sitting on her own with three humungous bags was grinning like an idiot while eating her bowl of noodles. more.
Somehow, I managed to finish the entire bowl. It was only then that I started to feel guilty, remembering all the tales of unfinished ramen and realising my expanding appetite...and gluttony. That I had a special occasion dress to fit into at the end of the week. That I was supposed to be on a "diet" of sorts. That thick, collagen-filled bowls of ramen was definitely NOT diet food.
But the heck with diets. Dad would approve, though he may want a thinner soup. Which means it was worth every single mouthful. And every cent of the $10 I paid.
Gamushara (Gumshara) Ramen
25-29 Dixon Street,
Closed Mondays
Food Court is open 10am-10pm, 7 days.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's not often I don't cook a meal. Be it frozen wontons, reheating curry, or even if it's just some sort of really quick and filling soup thing, something would be done in the kitchen before a meal.
Not today.
It was 6:30. I was hungry. There's nothing in the fridge, coz I haven't had time to buy groceries. I wanted something spicy. And meaty. And realised there was a restaurant downstairs that did takeaway.
It's a "new" Chinese restaurant that opened at the beginning of the year, specialising in Szechuan food. And there was a 10% discount for takeaway.
Pretty good deal? Read on.
I ordered a Szechuan spicy chicken. It's basically chicken with a Szechuan pepper and chilli vinaigrette. Very spicy. Salad like cold. I forgot about that last fact when I ordered, but that's ok, coz as long as it's good, I'll be happy.
Obviously, it wasn't.
There wasn't much wrong with the sauce. It was just...lackluster. But the big disappointment was the chicken.
The pieces--all pieces--were on the bone. There's nothing wrong with chicken served on the bone, as long as there's some good meat in each piece.
In my case, it was just bone. OK, maybe it did have some meat. But the meat was less than a third of the piece. Yup, 2/3 bone. Every piece. Fail #1.
But I paid good money - VERY good money (say, half a week of grocery money) for it. Waste not, right? You'd want to eat as much as you can so you get your money's worth, right?
Try eating a piece of chicken on the bone with the bone disintegrating in your mouth. Yeah, I'm not kidding: the bone crumbled. A small poke made the bone crack and break into at least 6 pieces. To the extent it was almost impossible to separate the meat from the bone. Fail #2.
Then there's the skin. It was supposed to be slightly gelatinous. It wasn't. I felt--and saw--the remnants of feathers still stuck on. Actually, there was a full feather still attached. Fail #3.
And to top things off, this cold dish was more than cold: a piece of chicken was actually still frozen. Fail #4.
4 fails. Bin time. A twinge of pain stung my heart as I disposed of the box and its contents, but there was no way I'd finish that. Not tonight, not ever. And I sure won't be getting anything from there again.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Small luxuries

Conpoy fried rice

Fried rice has got to be one of the easiest comfort food made with nothing more than leftovers and whatever happens to be in the pantry and fridge. Usually that'd be stuff like ham, carrots, peas, and pineapple... not quite what I wanted. Luckily, mother left me a small (but sufficient!) supply of conpoy, or dried scallops, proving once again: mothers really do know best.

The price of conpoy has soared significantly over the past few years. Not that it was ever cheap, of course; but it's not the kind of thing you'll need heaps of in any dish, anyway.

Fried rice is usually the last pre-dessert course in a multi-course Cantonese banquet, and conpoy fried rice is probably towards the high-end of middle-of-the-field. But the problem with restaurant versions of this dish is that they skimp on the conpoy. Massively. Which is definitely not the case when it's homemade.


The massive conpoy chunks made for a great ol' load of umami goodness in the fried rice. Delicious was an understatement. The grains of rice popped, having soaked up the umami-filled conpoy soaking water, coated by a thin layer of egg white and accompanied by the chewy chunks of conpoy. A handful of finely chopped spring onion and a smidgeon of minced ginger rounded off the dish satisfactorily.

Rice-ripened persimmon

Dessert was a simple affair: a "water" ripe persimmon, served chilled. The first time I ate a full persimmon was 2 years ago, during a stay at an onsen-ryokan in Hakone. I'll never forget the taste: it was soft, sweet, and juicy, intermingled with jelly-like bits. It was mindblowing. And unbelievable.
And to this day, it is the only time I will eat persimmon. When they're overripe, bursting with watery goodness, and chilled beforehand.
It's quite hard to get this sort of persimmon on the market anywhere. In Hong Kong, the markets will occasionally have a few, wrapped up carefully in layers of fruit netting and styrofoam trays and glad wrap, to prevent any mishaps that could result in a burst--and thus non-merchantable--fruit. Here, though, I've only seen them available for sale as cheap, almost-past-use-by-date at discount prices. If that's not available, there's always the option of burying them in rice, until they resemble water balloons. Literally.

Conpoy Fried Rice (Serves 1)
1 dried scallop, soaked and steamed for 5 minutes
1 stalk of green onion, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons oil
2 egg whites, beaten
splash of shaoxing wine
salt, to taste
1/2 cup rice (preferably from the night before)

To prepare the compoy: in a small bowl, cover the dried scallop with boiling water and allow to soak until it has rehydrated and turns an opaque off-white. Steam the compoy for 5 minutes, or nuke in the microwave for 5 minutes, covered, with the water. Separate into strands, and remove any sinewy bits.

Heat the oil in a wok. Lightly fry off the ginger and green onion to release the fragrance. Add the rice, compoy, and a small amount of the soaking liquid. Toss until the liquid has evaporated, and the rice grains are no longer in clumps.
Beat the egg white lightly with a splash of shaoxing wine and a pinch of salt. Add the whites to the wok, tossing quickly to ensure the rice grains are covered by a thin coating of egg white. Season to taste. Serve immediately.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

school dinnahz~

kimchi fried rice, cucumber and tomato salad with miso dressing, miso soup with tomato.
...well, not quite.

I'm back to living in a concrete box fitted only with one microwave, a gas stove with 2 burners (hardly enough) and very limited benchspace. Did I mention that the kitchen sink is literally just a single metallic depression with no plug for the drain? Yeah, it sucks.

But that's not quite enough to stop me from cooking altogether. There are always ways to work around these obstacles, like better meal planning and mise-en-scene (so no Julie from Masterchef-esque messes!). It does take a bit of adjustment, after 3 weeks of cooking in a kitchen with 5 burners, massive bench space and almost every kitchen utensil and ingredient I want at my fingertips.
It's not so bad. At least there's the freedom to cook (almost) anything I want, as long as it doesn't involve an oven. Or two large saucepans/pans/woks going at the same time.
I had leftover wonton fillings left from last night (which involved making 80 wontons, which are now frozen for those days I just can't be bothered to cook a proper meal) which had to be used in tonight's dinner or else it'd go bad. And letting food go bad is just not something I can allow. Making fried rice is just one way of using it up: other methods include steaming, making meatballs, or stir-fried with thin vermicelli noodles.
Kimchi fried rice
Serves 2
1 garlic clove, minced
A handful of kimchi, chopped roughly
2-3 tbsp leftover wonton filling
1 cup rice
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
salt, to taste
dash of apple cider vinegar (optional)
sesame oil (not!optional)
sugar, to taste (optional)
Heat vegetable oil in a wok or frypan, then fry off garlic until the aromas are released. Add the leftover filling and saute until just cooked, then add the kimchi and saute. Add rice, and continue to stir-fry until all ingredients are well incorporated. Season with salt, vinegar, sesame oil and sugar to taste. Serve piping hot to hungry souls.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

zumbo time!

The name Adriano Zumbo meant nothing to me until early this year, when my venture into the realm of food blogging brought page after page of photos and reviews of his "divinely" dessert creations. Talks of cakes, chocolate and macarons made me drool like a fool during my lonely himono onna* net surfing hours, and the Zumbo name refused to go away.

*himono onna: from the J-Drama Hotaru no Hikari, the term refers to young women who prefer to laze around at home, surfing the net, watching TV and reading manga than to go out with friends during their free time.

Cake Box, Adriano Zumbo

Nestled between a bottleshop and a chemist, the actual Zumbo patisserie is a narrow and long space, with just enough room for a shop assistant (or two), the cakes and a handful of customers at any one time: three is, at Zumbo's, definitely a crowd.

While pastries, croissants and bread feature, the cakes definitely steal the spotlight. Each one is an edible piece of artwork, seemingly careless yet deliberate in its execution, a simple, yet provocative both visually and in terms of taste. No sloppiness, no nonsense.

Sacher's sister Blanca

Like the blondie to the brownie, Blanca is the white chocolate and pear reinterpretation of the classic Viennese Sachertorte. The top layer of white chocolate ganache is creamy and vanilla-y, and unbelievably smooth. The sacher cake provides a lovely background for the white chocolate and pear notes, but to me the dark chocolate ganache is a stroke of genius. Where the other flavours are lovely and light, this packs a punch, providing the perfect contrast.

Upside down Cloud

I've been wanting to try out the Upside down Cloud ever since seeing the collection. A rework of the Zumbo classic, it is essentially a baked meringue pavlova with lemon curd, topped with devine sable dust. The lemon curd is what a lemon curd should be: smooth, rich, and very, very lemony. The meringue crust is crisp and melts in your mouth, the centre soft and slightly chewy. The sable dust rounds off the entire experience, with its buttery scent and grainy texture.

Miss Marple, deconstructed.

This is a dessert from the cafe menu. Maple and mascarpone filled crepes in orange butter, with strawberries and frozen orange jellies. While the crepes didn't have the "wow" factor I expected (it was too gooey and rich), the frozen orange jellies were surprisingly good. It was like eating shaved orange ice which slowly turned into a jelly as it melted in your mouth, before exploding and washing your tastebuds with freshly squeezed real orange juice.

While Zumbo is a little expensive (the cakes were around $7 each, and Miss Marple almost $14), they are worth their price. The quality of ingredients and the genius of the creations are unparalleled, each like a refreshing Murakami novel- the familiar is made unfamiliar through imagination, style, and execution. It is best shared with someone close to your heart: each cake is an experience that can, in itself, carry a full conversation, as well as being quite filling.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


There's something comforting about a bowl of pho.

Thin slices of raw beef floating on top of rice noodles, topped with shallots and thin slices of onion in a rich beef stock... so simple, yet so utterly delicious.

That's when the fun begins.
Cooked or raw bean sprouts? Basil? Chili? Lemon? Each person has their own preferences, and the bowl of pho becomes more than just beef rice noodles. It becomes a reflection of the person who is eating it.
The purist would slurp it all down as is; the indecisive adding this and that every now and then. Then there are those who know exactly what they want, and others who like to experiment... and so emerges the endless possibilities of how pho tastes.
But, the core of it all remains constant, always the same: rice noodles, slices of beef, onion and shallots, in a full-bodied beef broth.
So, how do you like your pho?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gyoza! Gyoza! Read all about it!

It started a couple of days ago. I was depressed for various reasons, and when I'm depressed, I get food cravings. The cravings were so massive I had dreams about it for two nights straight. (And another one involving a rather cute doctor and a large black grizzly being injured then left on the side of the road, but that's a story for another time/blog.) This time it wasn't chocolate or peanut butter, but dumplings. The pan-steam-fried potstickers or gyoza bursting with pork juice and loaded with veges.

But life being life, there was no time to go out and gather up ingredients. As for the pre-made frozen type... there's no way I'd buy that out of my own volition, when dumpling and wonton making is like a culinary reflex.

Then yesterday, I got a question about gyozas. A recipe for gyoza fillings, actually. I was stumped, for a moment.

While I can name the ingredients in a filling, I couldn't do the same for the actual quantities. It's always been just meat (minced from the store or hand minced), then a slurp of cooking wine, sprinkle of salt, sugar, and pepper, an egg (or two, if it's a big batch), water, and sesame oil. It was the same for the vegetables: my mother never told me exactly how much was needed, it was always this much meat=that much vegetables chopped up. There was no recipe. And it turned out perfect every time.

Gyoza with Pork and Cabbage Filling
Makes about 40
200g pork mince
1/6 small cabbage, finely shredded
40 dumpling/gyoza skins, approx 8-9cm in diameter
1 egg
1 tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
large pinch of pepper
4-5 tablespoons chicken stock/water
2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoon cooking oil

1. In a large bowl (preferably deep rather than overly wide), mix the pork mince, cooking wine, sugar, salt and pepper well.
2. Make a small well in the middle of the mince, and place the egg in the well. Beat slightly before mixing it into the pork mince, until well incorporated. Continue stirring the mince in one direction, until the mix feels slightly "elastic" and offers slight resistance when pushed with a wooden spoon/chopsticks.
3. Add stock or water to the mince, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until the liquid has been completely incorporated into the mince before adding the next. Once all the stock or water has been added, mix in the sesame oil. It should look similar to the second picture above.
4. Add the shredded cabbage. The cabbage should not be too long (no more than 5cm in length), and very finely shredded (no more than 2mm wide). Mix through the mince well, until evenly distributed.
5. To wrap the dumplings (this is by no means definitive; merely what I believe works the best.)

Place the wrapper in your hand, so that the small well between your fingers and palms is covered by the centre of the wrapper. Put a heaped teaspoon of filling slightly off the middle, towards the bottom.

Fold the bottom over to the top, place your thumb and second finger to secure only the middle of the arc by a fingertip.

With your other hand, make a small fold about a quarter of the way on the arc of the semicircle. 

Follow the natural fold to "pleat" by pushing the skin down.

And it should end up like this:

Then repeat on the other side. The dumplings should sit on its own quite well.

6. For potstickers, heat some cooking oil in a pan until almost smoking hot. Place the dumplings in the pan as it sits naturally. Allow it to pan-fry until the bottoms are crispy and golden, then add 1/2 to 1 cup of water (depending on the size of the pan and number of dumplings) over the dumplings and cover. Cook over medium to high heat until all the water has evaporated, and bottoms are well crisped. Serve immediately with vinegar and chili oil dipping sauce, if preferred.

By all means, these babies can be steamed or boiled.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Never-ending Tim Tams

No Tim Tams... =(

Yes! Tim Tams! =D

That's right, the Tim Tam Genie came and did his thing... and now I have a never-ending supply of Classic Dark Tim Tams. XD

... so I wish.

Don't get me wrong; I love my Valhrona and Callebaut and Godiva and Leonidas, I can't afford to have that everyday. But Tim Tams (at least the Dark Choc one) is rather edible and quite moreish at times, which is why it's my choc and sugar fix of choice. Though, nothing will beat the chocolate cremeaux in that Adriano Zumbo's Millefeuille. Now that was amazing. *drools*
I wonder what Zumbo's version of the Tim Tam would be like. I'm imagining a rectangular chocolate macaron with some crazy fantastic filling, then dipped in Valhrona dark chocolate, maybe?

Monday, June 15, 2009

lazy meals

Being a student isn't always fun. Being a student whose mind is not on books, but on what the next meal is, can be even less fun. But at least it can be yum.

It's that time of the semester again, and exams are upon most of us. Well, those of us unfortunate enough to have to worry about them. Hours of studying, gazing out the window, getting up for a drink (or two) then realising that there's no way you can stuff all three thousand pages of ...stuff... in your head in 24 hours. Then you realise you're hungry but can't be bothered to cook much and lo, behold, the kitchen is empty but for leftovers from God knows when, bacon, eggs, and rice. There's also passata, Worcestershire sauce, all sorts of soy sauce...but no BBQ sauce.

Oh. Right. That was--or should I say, is-- me. Haha.

But bacon. Eggs. Rice. And sauces.

Bacon and egg donburi.

Donburi, traditionally, is some sort of meat and other ingredients simmered together and served over rice. Gyudon, oyadon and katsudon are classic examples. Other times it can be just rice with toppings, with sauce or other condiments: think tendon, tekkadon, negitorodon, etc. So bacon and eggs over rice in a bowl with spicy tomato sauce can probably be classified as a donburi?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Just the way it is

For as long as I remember, I've always lived for the next tasty mouthful.
It can be something as luxurious as slow-braised abalone, or as simple as a properly made wonton in pork bone soup. Good food soothes my spirit, just as good books soothe my soul.
One of my earliest memories is playing in the kitchen, at the ripe old age of 2, with the pots and pans while my mother was making a meal of sorts. Not that I didn't have a kitchen playset of my own--I did--but why play with pretend ones when the real ones were available and within easy reach?
This is where I'll post my food-related adventures, in the kitchen, and out of it. And whatever happens, I'll write about it--just the way it is.