30 Mins Home Cooked Dinner Challenge

The abundance of good street food in Thailand has helped many Mothers buy in quick dinners at affordable costs.  Noodles, Rice, Congee and other local delights are available in every suburb and neighborhood. 10 Hour working days are more than enough to make any work and homebody cringe.  I accepted a challenge to create a quick dinner within 3o mins as a replacement for the usual street eats that we buy in.

I thawed my frozen pork chops in the fridge before i left for work, these i marinated in a bit of mirrin, salt and pepper the week before.  Please cook with thawed chops cooking from frozen makes it hard to ensure even cooking inside the pork chops.  Place them a 2-3 mins on each side to get a nice sear, add in 1/3 cup of water and close lid.

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High Heat for Nice Sear

I placed a pork chop on a toasted thick toast (Crispy on outside and pillowy soft inside) and place a in a warm oven to wait for other ingredients.  Good for allowing the juices to return to the pork chop.

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Thick English Toast

Tam leung or aka ivy gourd is a hand picked vegetable sold in local markets in Thailand and other neighboring SE Asia.  The taste and texture is similar to a mild spinach,a good training for kids who are vary of spinach.  For those who do not have XO sauce – a died scallop (conpoy), dried shrimp garlic and chilli sauce popular with Hongkong Cuisine just use the tomato puree, salt,pepper and garlic..  I had some in my fridge which i briefly stir fried with some tomato puree. Top on pork chop and return to warm oven.

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Tam Lueng Water Veggie aka Ivy Gourd

Top with a free range organic fried egg with runny insides and cheese if preferred.  I sprinkled  a mix of mozzarella and gouda when the it was resting in the oven which melted when i finished my fried egg.

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Comfort Food at it’s best!

There you have it a quick home cooked dinner which was quite enjoyed by everyone in the family.

Japanese & Italian Inspired Udon

Looking through the fridge there was an assortment of leftovers bits of this and bits of that.  Some udon, pumpkin, roasted eggplant and bacon.  Dinner time in 30 mins let’s create a semi healthy stir fry.

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30 Mins yummy dinner!

Started with the bacon, I tried to remove as much fat as possible and then added in the pumpkin which i cut into small pieces to mesh into a thick gooey sauce to coat the noodles.  A quick spin of Kampot pepper, salt and olive oil and the piping hot udon which i boiled for 5 mins was added in.  It still had some water in the noodles so i it helped make the sauce more light, quick chopsticks and wrist action to coat the noodles.  Last sprinkling of pepper, chilli flakes, and a quick snip of spring onions from my pot and ready to go.

I think quick meals are possible, incorporating vegetables into our diet is also quite important, I can’t claim to be miss healthy but I think baby steps!

The udon was firm and chewy, the pumpkin added a nice sweetness to the dish while the bacon helped with the savory and salty.  The eggplant was just another texture, spongy mushroom like.  The spring onion was the bit of green, i didn’t use any garlic or onions as i wanted each of the flavours in the pot to shine, garlic and onion usually dominates in simple dishes and i wanted only flavours of the 5 ingredients to really have their own part.  Everyone liked the colors and balance of flavours.  Leftovers done, let’s see next week!

 Happy Eating!

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Turned out better than expected!

Comfort Food at Chee Kei, Hongkong

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Tsimsha Sui is always one of my favorite spots in HK.  There’s lots of things to see and do, and of course Mong Kok.  There’s cheapo things among the more prestige labels, cheap eats mixed with the affordable and the luxury delicacies.  On our trip we went to Chee Kei which is quite well known franchise in HK with i think a few shops around Hong Kong and Kowloon side.

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Menu with English

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Hot strong tea is served while waiting for your mains to arrive.

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The funny thing is they are famous for crab congee and wontons but I always order plain congee and the pork leg.  Although we ordered the wonton this time.  In Hong Kong the norm here for veggies are boiled and served with a side of oyster sauce.  In Thailand, vegetables are always stir fried with some sort of sauce, the only naked veggies are salads.  And then Thais plop dressing on top.

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Enter a Kailan with oyster sauce.

The wontons came in a steaming piping hot claypot, it was shrimp wontons with pork broth or soup.  Not too salty and quite savory, a good porkiness.  The wonton wrapper was not over cooked like most shops so when they are sitting around for a long time.  This is a firm, chewy lovely consitency.  The Shrimp mixture was a good  mouthful with chunks of shrimp.  Good. It’s a nice professional homey feel to it.  I like mine witha spash of vinegar and chilli paste.

 

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Nice & Plump!
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Spicy, savory, yummy XO sauce.

For those in the know, XO sauce isn’t sauce with congnac, I’m not sure exactly where the real origins are but every seafood restaurant has their own recipe or like amazing traditonal housewives.  It’s made of according to recipie, the black ham, conpoy or the dried scallops, dried shrimps, oil, chillies and garlic.

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Hot, creamy and comforting!

Hong Kong Congee I think is the reigning King of all rice porridge dishes.  The rice is a silky, creamy thick delicate thick soup.  I can’t replicate the taste, i’m not sure why but it’s just not the same which is why every trip back to HK is a treat.  This time we ordered the fish which has raw slices of fish in our boiling congee, it’s cooked within seconds!

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5 spice poweder blend and turnip pork leg stew

Yummy and not at all oily. Usually the feet part isn’t fatty, if you go up the leg then it gets more fatty and less meaty kind of.  This is stwed until soft but has a firm texture, a soft delicate taste with the turnip.  I like the balance of flavours, sometimes the 5 spice blend is too harsh and it covers up everything else.  I think that is for people who like a dark sauce.

 

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Feast for 3!

For a normal lunch or dinner 200 HK bucks is quite steep, still affordable but a bit pricey since cha cha teng or side stalls are like 30 – 40 bucks a bowl but it’s nice to order from an english menu and eat in a nice surrounding.  So i recommend this for an affordable cheerful eats in HK.

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Luxury Crab at Wong Kun Sio Kung Macau!

It does help when you walk along the street and a friendly looking fellow beckons you into a simple looking side street cafe/restaurant with cheap and cheerful looking tables.  How much can it cost?

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Numerous celebs and articles!

You also feel good when you see the clean restaurant and the numerous clippings and celebs plastered on the wall and a sigh of relief when the menu is in english.  Now rewind, we were walking back from ST Pauls to our Royal hotel when we passed this place and decided to have dinner.

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Cheerful Menu Cover

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If i remember correctly they seem to make their own curry blend, their chilli sauce and their handmade egg noodles beaten or dried on bamboo mats like how people used to do it traditionally before.

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Listed in the Michelin Guide

When we got back, we found out the reason for the outrageous pricing is because apparently they were mentioned in the Michelin Guide book so that’s why their pricing went cray cray.

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Track Suit is the owner’s trademark!

The table setting was simple, but yet clean and has everything you need, plastic gloves, crab claw crusher?

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We ordered simple stir fried iceberg lettuce which must be cooked really quickly or else it’s too wilted and looses all crunchiness and will be just wilted lettuce leaves.  This was juicy, crunchy, delicious real skill!

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The pork bone soup was simple, with carrots.  It was porky, savoury with a hint of carrot sweetness.  I didn’t taste any other ingredients, maybe some peanuts but i feel that soup in HK, China & Macau seem to have this depth of flavor that i can’t copy in Bangkok.  No matter what type of bones i use.  I must find out!

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IMG_7864The fried sardines or mackerel was not at all greasy of floury.  It was light, crispy, crunchy, garlicky and if you chew on the chilli pepper it gives it a kick of spicy hot hot hot!

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Star of the show!

This type of curry crab is vastly different from what you get in thailand, their curry sauce is more coconutty, delicate sweetness.  Thailand has a more eggy scrambled egg texture feeling with more spicy oil and let’s say a more rough tasting palate.  This was delicate, creamy a more tender feeling curry crab.  It’s like a ballet vs rock.  Nice to have a balance of both in curry crab once in a while.

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It’s huge!

Note the size of the mud crab, it filled that gigantic bowl.  Now in the menu it just said market price, which is why we didn’t expect all our allowance to be gone into one single dish.  There was another table next to us with 8 people and they ordered one to share which is enough to go around.  We had to force our party of 3 to finish it once we found out the price.  really.  Look at the bill.  We didn’t try to congee or the egg noodles which is supposedly the star of this restaurant however as a splurge come.  Really do not miss this restaurant.  It’s clean, it has english menu, and the people are nice and friendly.  Just dont order this dish if you come less than 5 people or unless you’re rich.  Or you really want to.

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Address:

Wong Kun Sio Kung

G/F, 310A R. do Campo, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro
Ph: (853) 2837 2248

Complex Tastes of Northern Thailand

During our work in Northern Thai province of Chiang Rai last month, we had some time to sample the local delicacies.  Now for those not familiar with Chiang Rai, it is the northen most part of Thailand if I’m not mistaken bordering Laos and Burma commonly known as the Golden Triangle before a high influence on the trade of opium.  Now it’s a great tourist attraction for those who like nature since Chiang Rai is still quite quiet and peaceful.  With being so close to many other countries I think the food is largely influenced as well.  There is quite an Muslim population here which is why many spices not normally seen in Traditional Thai Cooking plays a huge role here.

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The usual laarb or minced por, chicken or beef yam or thai salad is usually, fish sauce, lime, int, roasted rice, shallots, spring onions, thai basil and chillies.  It’s spicy and fresh and sour.  However the Northern Larb is more heavy on the non traditional spices, i think cumin, saltier not sour version.  I feel it’s a more dry and meatier version.  I’m not sure of all the spices but it feels more indianish than thai.

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The Sai Oua or northern thai sausage is not different, the meats and pork fats are chunkier and loosely packed not minced sasages like we are used too.  I’m sure there is cumin or tumeric present in here, chunks of lemongrass, thai basil, chillies and other herbs.  It’s hot, meaty and very very flavorful.  You can taste all the spices, saltiness, porkiness of the entire mouthful.  It’s fantastic served with sticky rice and some side veggies. Not to be missed when travelling there!

Luxury Lunch at Biscotti – Anantara Hotel Bangkok

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Elegant yet homey!

Last month we were invited to dine at the Legendary Anatara Hotel which is located in the heart of Bangkok.  Before it was known as the Four Seasons where i fondly remember having tea with mouse shaped cakes when I was a little girl.  I think they set themselves quite high and the pricing was acceptable in terms of quality, service and taste.  If i remembered correctly it was 790, 890, and 990 baht set lunches.  If you chose the 790 baht you got free flow of the antipasti table which was quite generous with a nice selection of cold cuts, cheeses and other antipasti.

I simply chose the 2 meal course which was 890 baht which included the antipasti buffet and 1 main course from the menu.  If you chose the most expensive one it included a dessert which I expected to be a bit too much for a casual lunch.

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Lovely Olive Oil
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Delicious!

Warm yeasty bread went really well with the peppery olive oil, and one of my favorite dishes is roasted garlic.  The delicate scent of the rosemary came through the smokey and garlicy soft paste.  Really good.

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I’m not sure what this is called but it’s one of their featured  menu, it’s thin pizza bread slices with melty oozy cheese which has been griddles so the pizza dough is wonderfully crispy, hot, cheesy load of goodness.  It’s really really delightful!

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You cannot stop at a slice!

The cheese selection was ok, the presentation was nice with the Parmesan cubes served in the rind but i would have preferred  more cheeses like stilton, goats cheese etc.

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Some cold cuts, hams, salamis, coppa (dried beef) along with other tid bits served on the table.  I didn’t pay much attention as i was quite full with the delicious tortilla cheese extravaganza.

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Small selection but of good quality!
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Decent selection of caprese, roasted peppers and shrimps.

My lamb chop came perfectly medium rare and i ordered some extra black truffles.  It came with generous shaved slices and i loved the flavor, although i preferred the white alba truffles however it wasn’t in season yet.  The earthy aroma and taste went well with the strong lamb and the delicate demi glace sauce.

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I think Biscotti is great for a business lunch or a special party for mummies.  It’s affordable for a bit of luxury on an otherwise a normal day.  Non pretentious food cooked well, attentive service and great ambiance.  Come to lunch!

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Smoked Chicken Breasts and jumbo shrimp!

Biscotti Restaurant

Anantara Hotel

Rachadamri Rd, Bangkok

Homemade Egg Noodles & Fish Balls

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Very Humble Looking Store Front

Located near our new office on Pridi Road, Phrakanong is an old old shop selling clear broth noodles with either morning glory or mung bean spouts.  It doesn’t look appealing probably for caucasians but this shop has been making their own fish balls, wontons and egg noodles for many many years, kind of a fusion between chinese and thai tastes.  It costs about 50 baht for a bowl of noodles, not cheap but rather filling and delicious.

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Where they cook your noodle to order.

As you can see their cooking station, they have all the types of noodles on show in the glass showcase, from “sen lek” thinnish rice noodles, “sen mee” round super thin rice noodles, “sen yai” wide ride noodles and egg noodles or “bamee”.  You choose your noodles and your toppings which comes with a choice of fish balls, Ue Guay which is Fish Paste in a long tube with some spring onions and fried and then sliced, crispy wontons, fried taro sticks in a mound shape, spring rolls and little prawn wontons and shrimp balls.  I’m not a bean sprout fan so i always ask for other green vegetables instead.  In all those bowls of condiments that you see, there are salt, sugar, pepper, garlic oil, spring onions, preserved vegetables, msg (most likely) and the pinkish thing is called Yen Ta Fo which is a fermented bean paste which makes your soup pink and has a sweet beany tofuish taste.

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Shrimp balls, fried taro, spring rolls and shrimp wonton, a rarity nowadays.
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See the fish-balls?  Light chewy delicious no fishy smell!

Again it’s a rarity you can’t find these toppings anymore in Bangkok, I’m sure there are some left but i dont know where they are.  Fish balls are common but all these other toppings are special and must be tasted when you are in Bangkok!

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Egg Noodle Special with Broth on the Side YUM!

It’s easier to see the noodles without the soup or broth on top so we ordered it separately.  The fish balls was delicious, the spring rolls crispy and the moo daeng or red sauced roasted pork has a nice texture to it.  really Yummy, and all for 50 baht or less than 2 USD!

Pridi – Near Gas Station.  You can park at the gas station for 20 baht.

Warming Hot Pot in HongKong

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During our last quick trip to Hong Kong for a passport renewal, we had a quick dinner with relatives and being in Hong Kong it’s a must to have a family get together hotpot meal.  For those not in the know, Hot Pot is a  pot of bubbling stock, where you dip your raw meats and veggies into cook and then eat.  Before we only had plain vegetable broth or pork broth, nowadays there’s curry, satay, ox tail soup, herbs, traditional Ma La or the sezhuan peppercorns super spicy broth, you name it they have it.

This particular hot pot i think it’s either called the Little Fat Cow or smiling Cow i’m not so sure but it’s near the Wan Chai Fire Station on the 3rd floor.  My absolute favorite thing is the octopus meatballs, it comes in a large scoop with fish roe on top you spoon a bit of the mixture and when it starts to float it’s done.  It really is an acquired taste, it’s a chewy rubbery squidy meatball.  It’s not available in Thailand so it’s a treat every time we go back to HK.

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Doesn’t the pork belly look nice? It comes rolled up and looks like a mini flower peaking out of the bowl, and another of my favorites is the fried tofu sheets.  It’s fluffy, light and crispy.  A quick quick dip in the hot bubbling broth and you chew it quick before it gets soggy.

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Normal soft soybean tofu but still good.IMG_1586

I must say given their quite medium high pricing, the shrimp came beautifully cleaned and separated into heads and bodies.  Good for me cause i love shrimp heads.

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Fresh veggies and pork wontons, sometimes wonton comes in a yellow noodle wrap but these ones are more leaning to those gyoza type wrapping like the Japanese kind.

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The highlight of this meal was the splurge on a plate of Angus beef.  It was probably 200 HK dollars but it was melt in the mouth, a real beefy flavor and a great soft chew.  It was delicious!IMG_1579

We also ordered fried chicken joints, nice piping hot, crispy salty and garlicky.  Maybe the savoury taste came from the MSG. – -”

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And again as with all hotpots, we enjoy the meats and veggies and either we pour in rice or a type of noodles to soak up all the yummy broth.  This time we had this really delicious chewy udon.

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So if anyone who can read chinese please let me know what is the shops name.IMG_1594

1st Floor, 141-145 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai Heng Center

Khao Soi aka Chiang Rai Curry Noodles

Khao Soi is usually served with a side of lime for squeezing and vegetable relish, this rich coconut curry egg noodles is served with beef or chicken, bean sprouts and spring onions with  crispy fried egg noodles on top for that crunch.  It’s a savory meaty, creamy dish best served with lots of freshly squeezed limes and dried chillies.  It’s a rate Thai dish that combines all aspects of Thai ,Chinese and Islam heritage together.  No one knows exactly how the dish came about but it originated from Northern Thailand, supposedly from the border of Myanmar and Chiang Rai.  There are dominant Chinese and Islam heritage in this dish, I also heard from the locals it was a Burmese Chinese Muslim family who emigrated to Thailand and created a dish with all the local influences.  I’m sure this dish must be from Islamic creators since I’ve never seen this dish available in pork, only beef and chicken as well as usually they sellers are often Muslim.

It’s a must try if you venture into the the Northern part of Thailand,  (ranges from 40 – 60 baht depending on the amount of Chicken and Beef) and dont forget to add the spicy chilies and fresh limes and cool it down with a nice herbal lemongrass drink!

Aperativo Hour at Pasticceria Abrate

It’s a really nice Italian tradition to havae pre dinner snacks and drinks.  I think it’s the laid back attitude of people to relax after a tough day unwind before enjoying dinner.  I was walking aimlessly past Piazza Castello and on PO Street when i passed a few shops with people were sitting chilling with a drink and what appears to be like a sandwich tray in front of them. Some shops had more elaborate displays and some looked simpler so i plopped myself down and asked for an aperitivo.

The waiter very kind and friendly suggested a local vermouth which was delicious.  It was citrusy and had a nice aniseedy refreshing flavor, it wasn’t too heavy and it wasn’t sweet it was just right.  The mini bites was just the right mouthful with a variety of simple toppings, tomatoes, roasted veggies, hams, porchetta and roasted onion.  I think it was around 7 or 10 euros for the drink and mini bites.  It’s really good, the slow life in Italy.

Pasticceria Abrate

Via Po 10

Torino, Italy