Mr. Crackles

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! Just a little heads up, next week Sunday will the the last Sunday that I will be doing reviews. I’ve come to a point where I’ve pretty much covered all of the places I’ve been to when I was in Sydney and haven’t been to restaurants, cafés, and/or eateries around Brunei – well I have, but I haven’t been in a I-need-to-take-a-picture-of-this-so-I-can-review-it-for-later kind of mood lately. Don’t fret! I will still be posting on Sundays, they just won’t be reviews. Instead, I will be sharing with you some of my design works since I believe that the last time I posted anything design related on my blog was about a year ago; so you’ve got that to look forward to!

Back on topic, today I will be reviewing one of the best places, in my opinion, to get a fairly priced roll of tender, succulent, crispy-skinned pork crackling. Excuse me for a second while I wipe the drool that just dribbled down my chin as I typed that. Only kidding, but seriously, if you’re ain’t watching your calories, this is where you need to be at every opportunity you get! I’ve passed this place so many times before as it’s within probably a 10-minute walk away from campus, but I’ve never really gone inside and tried their rolls until August of last year I think (and I had been living in Sydney since 2011)! My high school friend (and still friends now) Andrew was visiting from Brunei/UK and I decided to take him here for lunch before his flight back to Melbourne, and then Brunei, eventually to the UK. Of course Jialing was with us too; no food adventure would be complete with my partner in crime.

The second time I came here was the Christmas of 2014 I believe, and that was when I saw my friend Marissa post a photo of their special Christmas roll; apple sauce and cranberry relish paired with crispy pork?! Hells yes! Of course I went back with Jialing; she indulged in her Sticky BBQ Pork again. I think I may have gone back a couple times more before I introduced this place to my family when they were over for my graduation in June. Everyone, and of course myself included, loved this place, and how I wish that a Mr. Crackles existed on one of the side streets of Brunei. I’d be their number 1 customer hands down!

ROLLS

Mr. Crackles: Crackles Christmas Roll
ROLL OF THE MONTH (DECEMBER 2014)
Crackles Christmas Roll: Crispy pork, apple sauce, cranberry relish, and herb crumb ($13.50)

As mentioned above, I could not resist saying no to this little gem. I think what got me was the apple sauce and cranberry relish; first, you can’t go wrong with crispy pork crackling being paired with some apple sauce. Secondly, the cranberry relish to really pull the idea of Christmas together in this man-sized roll. The pork was, as always, cooked perfectly; tender, juicy meat with a satisfying crispy crackling for that crunch we all look for in a great roast pork. Everything else complimented the roll nicely.

Mr. Crackles: Braised Beef Cheek
ROLL OF THE MONTH (MAY 2015)
Braised beef cheek, parmesan mash, and gremolata crumble in a soft bun ($13.50)

I mean, I know the presentation of this roll is less enticing and extravagant than that of the other rolls, but trust me when I say that this is one pretty amazing combination of tender braised beef cheeks and parmesan mash in a soft bun. I had actually forgotten that there was mash in this bun when I came around to eating it. This was only because the mash isn’t actually visible when you first look at the bun; it was hidden below the braised beef cheeks. When I took a bite and realised that there was in fact parmesan mash in it, it was a nice surprise indeed. If this special ever comes around again, be sure not to miss out on it!

Mr. Crackles: Sticky BBQ Pork
STICKY BBQ PORK
Smokey bbq, ranch, salad, and onion rings in a soft bun ($13.50)

I must say that amongst the other rolls, this was by far the best looking one out of the bunch. I mean, I still love and prefer a nice crispy pork on my roll, but this was just something else. Onion rings in your bun? Don’t mind if I do! Smokey, sticky, check! A bit messy to eat if you’re biting into it instead of being posh and using cutlery, but who cares really.

Mr. Crackles: Crackles Classic
CRACKLES CLASSIC
Crisp skinned slow roast 5 spiced pork belly served with Vietnamese salad in a roll ($13.00)

You’ve heard me talk about the crispy pork before in the Crackles Christmas Roll, so it’s basically that, tender, juicy meat with a satisfying crispy crackling, with a nice touch of fresh Vietnamese salad to compliment the meat.

Mr. Crackles: Manwich
MANWICH
Twice the meat and half the salad on any of our famous rolls ($17.00)

Its like their Crackles Classic Roll only twice as much meat on it for a man-sized bite, but who says women can’t have it too?

SIDES

Mr. Crackles: Crispy Pork Nacho Fries
CRISPY PORK NACHO FRIES ($12.00)

This would’ve been flawless for me if it weren’t for the tomato sauce(?) in the nachos. I can’t quite put my finger on what it tasted like to me, but all I know was that it was a bit strong and acidic for my liking. I had to pick out the fries that were least covered in the sauce as I did not want it to go to such a shameful waste. In the end, I ended up leaving about a third of the fries behind, but still eating all of the yummy crispy pork of course!

Mr. Crackles: Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip
BUFFALO WINGS ($9.00) + blue cheese dip ($1.00)

The chicken packed just the right amount of heat in them and let’s be real here, you can’t possibly go wrong with buffalo wings AND blue cheese dip! These were delicious indeed.

Mr. Crackles: Cup of Crackling
CUP OF CRACKLING ($5.00)

When I first saw these cups of magical cracklings, I knew I needed to devour one. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with them as they weren’t quite what I had imagined them to be. They were a bit too salty for my liking, hard, and dry. I prefer the crackling on top of those pieces of meat on their rolls than this crackling.

Mr. Crackles is like a Western take on a classic Vietnamese pork roll. Overall, if you want your daily fix of crispy pork crackling, be it in a roll, salad, or topped with your nacho fries, then Mr. Crackles is the place for you. I’d say that their rolls are reasonable priced for the size you get, therefore I’d give value for money an 8/10. For those who haven’t been to Mr. Crackles on Oxford Street just somewhat opposite Taylor Square, you’ll notice that they have very limited seating – 8 seats to be exact. Every time I go there though, I still manage to snag a seat and that’s only because everyone that goes there gets their rolls to go. I guess I can’t really judge the ambience of the place seeing as it’s more of a place where you’d grab your food and eat elsewhere, but if you do end up sitting down at the place to have your food, it’s quite loud from all the traffic noise on Oxford Street. It can also get a wee bit crowded if you go during peak hour, which is usually lunch and dinner I’m guessing. I saw crowded because you’ve got a lot of people lining up and waiting around for their order. If I were to give the place a rating, I’d say 7/10 as it’s alright as a takeaway place, but I’d give it a 4/10 for a sit down place. Besides that, I’m pretty sure you all know that I’m definitely going to give the food a sure 10 for the rolls. The sides had some minor issues with me, but nothing too big that would make me take it out on the rest of the menu. You can’t fault a perfectly great roast pork like that from Mr. Crackles! If you can, than you are not my friend.

Mr. Crackles
155 Oxford Street
Darlinghurst, New South Wales
Australia, 2010

– Ally xx

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT

In Asia Restaurant & Bar

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! I think I will keep the introduction short today just because you’re about to dive into a 2200 word review below and I’m already tired of typing and spinning words out of my brain at this hour of the night. Seriously though, if university essays were this easy to write in less than 4 hours, I’d never hate writing essays (most probably)…

About three months or so, I actually don’t remember, I attended a talk organised by General Assembly on the Business of Food Blogging. It was there that I met Brendon D’Souza from brendonthesmilingchef, and he was indeed a happy smiling chap. Last week he invited me and a few other bloggers for an Instagram Meet Up at In Asia Restaurant and Bar in North Strathfield. He told an interesting story about how he came to know about this restaurant; basically he and his family were driving along looking for a place to hold his graduation dinner. They came across In Asia and I think he pretty much fell in love with the food here and even said that the Popular Popcorn Parfait dessert sold it for him. He met the owner of the restaurant and talked about organising a food blogger’s event to basically build up a social media presence of the restaurant. I’m really glad that Brendon organised this event because it was definitely a great experience for not just me, but for everyone else who was a part of the night. I met a lot of other food bloggers, and shared a few laughs over the night as we all started getting a bit tipsy from the drinks.

Let’s get straight into their menu and what I thought of their awesome dishes:

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: SUGAR FLOSS MARTINI
COCKTAILS: SUGAR FLOSS MARTINI
Vodka, fresh strawberries and limes, with candy floss ($16.00)

I remember seeing one of the blogger’s ordering this drink across the other table. Rachael and Angela, who were seated in front of me, bolted over to take a picture of this very photogenic drink that looked like a fluffy unicorn. I wasn’t bothered to get up, only because I was sitting on the inside of the booth(?), not sure what kind of seating it was, but it meant that I had to ask people to get up for me, slide over, and then get out. When the girls returned, we decided to all order a cocktail each and share so that we could get a taste of what In Asia had to offer. I really liked this drink, mainly for the fairy floss and vodka combination, but you can’t really go wrong with strawberry and lime.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: TOBLERONECOCKTAILS: TOBLERONE
Baileys, Frangelico, Kahlua, cream, chocolate syrup, and Toblerone shavings ($16.00)

This was something that I’ve not actually seen before elsewhere, but then again, I’ve only been to how many bars in my life? Yeah, not a lot. Anyway, this was by far my favourite cocktail of the night; alcohol and chocolate? Don’t mind if I do! I’m not a heavy drinker myself, but I’d definitely have 2 or 3 more glasses of this. For me, I couldn’t really taste the alcohol, but that’s okay because it tasted more like a chocolate drink to me, and I like that!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: FINE LYCHEE DAIQUIRI
COCKTAILS: FINE LYCHEE DAIQUIRI
Bacardi, Soho Lychee Liqueur, fresh lychees, and lime ($16.00)

I am currently obsessing over lychees so this drink was also a favourite of mine that night. Loved the sweetness of the lychee paired with a tangy lime. I very much enjoyed this drink and would definitely come back for more of this… And the two above as well *cheeky grin*

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: PAN-SEARED CANADIAN SCOLLOPS
ENTRÉE: PAN-SEARED CANADIAN SCOLLOPS
with chilli purée and lime sauce, fresh pear ($15.00)

I love love love love LOVE scollops. Have I told you how much I really love scollops? Well, as you can tell for my love of scollops, it is without a doubt that this was my favourite entrée of the night. The scollops were cooked perfectly and surprised me with that great kick of heat. I say surprised because I wasn’t expecting it to be that big of a kick to my mouth. I found it quite spicy to my liking at first, but loved it as I had more of it. The pear was a nice touch of freshness to the dish as well.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: BARBECUED CALAMARI
ENTRÉE: BARBECUED CALAMARI
with pickled papaya, fennel, cashew nuts, and crispy pork crackling ($15.00)

I honestly cannot remember what my tastebuds were going through when I had this dish. I mean, it was not a bad dish, but I feel like I didn’t have an overwhelming reaction towards the dish like I did with the other entrée dishes. The calamari was cooked well, and the salad was dressed nicely too. I like how they’ve added the crispy pork crackling in the dish for that added crispy element, but they were all gone before I could get any onto my plate (yes, most of the bloggers who I shared the dish with picked most of the crackling out)!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: BETAL LEAF OF POACHED PRAWNENTRÉE: BETAL LEAF OF POACHED PRAWN
with roast coconut, crushed peanuts, ginger, chilli, lime, and caramel sauce: 2 pieces ($12.00)

As soon as this dish hit the tables, I was flabbergasted by its presentation. Loved the shot glasses. Moreover, I was impressed with the flavour combinations in such a little piece of betal leaf wrap. You’ve got the roast coconut, crushed peanuts, together with the ginger and caramel sauce I presume, that is topped with the tender, melt in the mouth poached prawn topped with roe and a tangy hit with a thinly sliced piece of lime, all wrapped in a peppery betal leaf that gave a nice fresh crunch to everything. It was a bit of a guessing game on how many bites you should take with this; it feels a bit big for one bite, but not big enough for two if you get what I mean. I tried two bites, but then you’re left with just the coconut and peanuts at the bottom without the prawn for your second bite. So I just went for it in one bite for my second serve. I find it quite expensive though because that means that one betal leaf wrap if $6.00; it’s quite a spectacular dish, but I don’t know if I’d pay that much for it.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: SEA SALT AND BLACK PEPPER CALAMARI
ENTRÉE: SEA SALT AND BLACK PEPPER CALAMARI
with wasabi mayo and sweet chilli sauce

I had a look back at their main menu and didn’t see this dish so I can’t say how much it’d cost you to order this. There’s nothing much I can comment on this only just because it’s salt and pepper calamari; I mean you can practically get it anywhere you go. Nothing special, but I did like the tender calamari, however not a big fan of wasabi myself.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - SALAD: TEA SMOKED DUCK BREAST
SALAD: TEA SMOKED DUCK BREAST
with roasted rice, chilli, lemongrass, Vietnamese mint, and tamarind dressing ($22.00)

I felt like it’s quite similar to a Thai dish known as Nam Tok in terms of flavour, but anyway this was a very innovative dish and the flavours were a nice accompaniment to the duck. I actually wouldn’t have been able to tell that the duck was tea-smoked, but nonetheless, the duck was delicious and I wanted more!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - STIR FRY: WAGYU BEEF
STIR FRY: WAGYU BEEF
with asparagus, shallots, and onion with hoisin sauce ($28.00)

Again, this was nothing special for me because I know how to make a mean beef stir-fry myself. I mean, it’s a good, simple, and humble dish, but nothing really as innovative as what I’ve already covered from this point on their menu.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CRISPY SKIN SALMON
MAIN: CRISPY SKIN SALMON
with IN ASIA’s spiced Kumara mash, cashew nuts, sweet potato chips ($27.00)

I wasn’t a fan of this dish for several reasons: firstly, I thought that it was a curry-based dish because of the ‘sauce’ and then I was surprised when I re-read the menu again at it was actually kumara mash. In my opinion, it was a bit thin for a mash. I like my mash creamy no doubt, but this felt like it took creamy to a whole other level. Secondly, though the salmon lived up to its crispy skin, it was however overcooked to my liking; it was a bit dry on the inside for me. The only thing I liked on this dish was probably the sweet potato chips. Sorry!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CRISPY SKIN ROASTED DUCK
MAIN: CRISPY SKIN ROASTED DUCK
with tamarind sauce, pumpkin mash, and navel orange

This I liked better than the salmon dish, and I loved the pairing of the duck with the navel oranges. Though the skin wasn’t as crispy as I thought it would be, it was still a very good dish, and that’s also mainly because I love duck no matter how it’s cooked (just not overcooked of course). You may have noticed as well that there is no price – same what I mentioned above for another dish, I couldn’t find it on their actual menu so sorry to say I can’t make out how much this dish would cost if you want to order this dish.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: KOREAN STYLE BARBECUED WAGYU BEEF
MAIN: KOREAN STYLE BARBECUED WAGYU BEEF
with grilled pear, black sesame, pickled radish, and ginger ($28.00)

This dish wasn’t actually on the pre-planned menu that the restaurant had for us. One of the girls, as she called herself, “that annoying person who just doesn’t like seafood”, ordered this off the menu as the owner of In Asia suggested that she did as he felt bad for having pretty much a seafood-heavy planned menu for the night. I am actually glad that she got to order off their menu and shared a little bit of her food with everyone else because this was a really REALLY lovely dish. The wagyu beef was cooked perfectly and was very tender. The grilled pear, I mean, where do I even begin with this pear? It was so good and paired so well with the beef. It was a match made it heaven.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CARAMELISED TWICE COOKED PORK BELLY
MAIN: CARAMELISED TWICE COOKED PORK BELLY
with crispy panko egg and sweet tamarind sauce ($23.00)

This was another dish that was ordered off the menu, and yet another great dish that made me happy that she doesn’t like seafood. This was actually my favourite main dish of the night. The pork belly was crispy and sweet, and that panko egg was just lovely. I honestly wanted more of this dish, but since we were only sharing, it made me sad that I could not have more that night. I would definitely recommend this dish if you’re ever thinking of dining here. It is a must! I would definitely go again if it weren’t so far from where I live!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MONKEY SNICKER
DESSERT: MONKEY SNICKER
with banana pudding, passionfruit curd, pandan foam, pandan granita, shredded coconut, and coconut ice cream ($12.00)

Finally on to dessert! This was probably not one of the best desserts of the night just because I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other dessert that you’ll see below, both in terms of presentation and flavour. This didn’t really wow me that much I’m sorry to say!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MRS B'S FIRST KISS
DESSERT: MRS B’S FIRST KISS
with organic banana lightly battered in shredded coconut and fried, palm sugar caramel, tapioca sauce, and rice puffs, served with passionfruit sorbet ($14.00)

I apologise in advance because I cannot comment on the flavour of this dish, and I will tell you why. So when the desserts arrived at the table, everyone went nuts for this dessert, as well as the one below because of their spectacular presentation. It was almost too beautiful to eat! So I got my pictures, and then I had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. I thought, okay I’ll go to the bathroom quickly since the other bloggers were still busy taking pictures of the desserts. Came back about 2 or 3 minutes later and this dish was completely demolished. Lesson of the night? Hold it in, no matter how urgent it is. It’s not worth it especially if dessert is concerned and you’re sharing one dish with about 12 other bloggers. I was so sad!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT
DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT
with IN ASIA’s crushed corn flakes, caramel popcorn, grilled sweet corn, and caramel jersey cream ($14.00)

Okay, at least there was a good quarter or so of this dessert left when I came back from nature’s calling. Thank goodness because this dessert was the absolute bomb. I loved the flavours and different textures that you got in each mouthful of the dessert, and I didn’t think that grilled corn would be such a great compliment to the overall dish. The presentation was on point as well. Well done In Asia for this dessert!

There were some ups and some downs with the dishes that we had over the night, but I can safely say that the positives overpowered the negatives greatly. There was really only one dish that was a let down for me, and the others that had minor issues based on just my personal opinion and palette is nothing major to say that it was a bad dish. I’d rate the food of the night a solid 9.5 out of 10; the food really blew me away and clearly the definition of modern (kind of, sort of fine dining) Asian cuisine. For me, it’s sort of somewhere in the middle like it’s not casual but not extreme fine dining either. Not only did the flavours and textures impress me, the presentation of some of the dishes, mainly the entrées and desserts, really blew me away. The service was great as well, though I wasn’t sure why it took quite possibly close to 30 to 45 minutes for the light menu (which were the tea smoked duck salad and the barbecued calamari salad) to come out to the table after entrées – I wasn’t complaining though because I had a pretty hefty entrée to begin with. I’d give the service an 8 or possibly 9 out of 10 anyway. Now, value for money – the dishes here are pretty pricey to be honest but I guess you can say that you actually do pay for what you’re getting. If you’ve got the money to spend, definitely spend it here, otherwise it’s not really a place you can just rock up to if you don’t have the money or for a casual dine.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar
181 Concord Road
North Strathfield, New South Wales
Australia, 2137

– Ally xx

Bulalo (Beef Bone Marrow Soup)

Bulalo (Beef Bone Marrow Soup)

Hello Everyone! So today’s dish is also a classic and most favourite Filipino main dish that can be found on, if not all, most menus across the Philippines. Bulalo, as stated in the title above, is a beef bone marrow soup that is light in colour and as the name states, uses beef shanks and marrow bones paired with various vegetables such as bok choy, corn cobs, green beans, etc. Because of the popularity of this dish, many restaurants and eateries across the Philippines specialise in Bulalo. Some of the most famous “Bulalohan” can be found in Tagaytay City (Cavite) and Santo Tomas (Batangas).

It is not a very hard dish to prepare – simple ingredients and simple cooking is all it really takes. In fact, all your really need for this dish is time and patience. The key to preparing this dish though is to choose the appropriate meat, shanks to be specific, and to make it as tender as possible. To achieve this is to simmering the beef for longer periods of time; it also releases all of its flavour. For me, the best tasting bulalo I’ve had to date was at Nina’s Itikan in Santa Clara, Bulacan. Even though they specialise in itik (duck), their bulalo was very rich in flavour. Even my dish that I am going to share with you today cannot match to its flavour!

Bulalo (Beef Bone Marrow Soup) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 2 HOURS 10 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1kg beef shank
  • 2L water
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 corn on a cob, cut into 4 equal parts
  • 1 large potato, cut into chunks
  • 1 long red chilli
  • 1 medium sized onion, quartered
  • 1 small bunch bok choy
  • 1 small bunch green beans, trimmed
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, halved and bruised
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns

METHOD

  1. Pour water into a large cooking pot together with the salt, peppercorns, and lemongrass. Bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, add the beef shanks in and simmer for about 1 and a half hours; if you are using a pressure cooker then 30 minutes should do the trick.
  2. Then add in the chilli, garlic, and onions, and simmer for a further 30 minutes until the meat is tender. Add in the corn, green beans, and potatoes, and simmer for another 10 minutes, then followed by the bok choy. If broth needs a bit more salt, then add in a few teaspoons of fish sauce to season to taste.
  3. Serve hot with steamed rice and enjoy! A great dish to share during cold, rainy day/night to warm up your insides!

Bulalo (Beef Bone Marrow Soup)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Oxtail Kare-Kare

Oxtail Kare-Kare

Hello Everyone! So I was just browsing through all the posts I’ve uploaded since I got into a regular uploading schedule and I realised that I actually haven’t posted a savoury dish in a while. I’ve been posting about cakes, cookies, and muffins these past few months! The last savoury dish that I blogged about was back in October with The Ultimate Brekkie (for those who have not seen it, click on it and prepare to drool, seriously).

Today’s recipe is a little different, or may be different to some of my readers/viewers. It is one of my most favourite dishes of all time, and only because my mom used to make it on a regular-enough basis to always have this orgasmic sensation with every bite. It may not suit the taste buds for many I feel, but seriously, every person I’ve made this for, well okay 3 people, loved it so much that they’ve even gone and tried to make it for themselves!

There are a few things to cover in this recipe that many may not know about, so I’ll start of with what even is Kare-Kare. Pronounced kah-reh kah-reh, it is a traditional Philippine stew flavoured with ground roasted peanuts or peanut butter, onions, and garlic; creamy, rich, and thick. Traditionally, a palayok (clay cooking pot) is used to cook this dish and it is also used as the serving pot. Typical meats that make the base for this stew include oxtail (sometimes this is the only meat used), pork hocks, calves feet, pig feet, beef stew meat; and occasionally offal, or tripe, rarely goat or chicken. Besides the meat, vegetables are also cooked with the stew and these include a range of (but are not limited to): eggplant, Chinese cabbage (or other leafy greens), long beans, okra (lady fingers), daikon, etc. – usually equaling or exceeding the amount of meat in the dish. The overall dish is then coloured (and flavoured) with annatto seeds, which is extracted by add the seeds in oil or water. Since I didn’t have some in handy, I just left them out – I feel like it didn’t have a significant effect to the overall flavour of the dish.

This dish is often served and eaten with shrimp paste known in a Philippines as bagoong (pronounced ba-go-ong). Sometimes it is spiced with chilli, or sautéed with garlic, onions, tomatoes, and sprinkled with calamansi (small round lime) juice. Bagoong paste varies in appearance, flavour, and spiciness depending on the type. Pink and salty bagoong is marketed as “fresh”, and is essentially the shrimp-salt mixture left to marinate for a few days. I sautéed a whole jar of shrimp paste and only used about a generous tablespoon of it on the side for this dish. The rest I put back into the jar and into the freezer until for later use. There are many other dishes that you can make with the sautéed shrimp paste and it may pop up in my blog a few more times!

I cooked up this dish for our supposed International (Asian) Feast Night that we had been planning for a while. I say “supposed” because instead of having food from 5 different Asian Cuisines, we ended up only having 3 and it turned out to also be Lydia’s farewell dinner. Basically Lydia cooked a dish from China, Vidhya from India, and me from the Philippines. Jialing (who did not show up by the way because she had a staff dinner) was supposed to make a dish from Malaysia, and Marissa, who already went on holiday, was supposed to make a Vietnamese dish. I was seriously so tired that night, I mean first of all, I had just come back from my Outback trip and only felt the tiredness after returning back. Secondly, I worked from 9am-5pm that day, and when I got home, I straightaway went into the kitchen to cook. I was SO tired that I actually seriously fell asleep at the table after dinner, during dessert. Talk about an induced food coma!

So for this night, which by the way happened about 3 days after I got back from the Red Centre, I decided to make my famous Oxtail Kare-kare. I also made a chicken version for Vidhya because the only meat she eats is chicken (and fish). I’ve never actually tried the dish with chicken before; it turned out okay but in my honest opinion, it wasn’t as flavourful as the Oxtail. I have made this dish in the past as well where I used pork hock/leg, pork shoulder, beef shank or gravy beef, and my mom made it a few times with beef tripe – all these cuts of meat work perfectly well with the dish. Some butchers sell oxtail either whole or cut. If your local butcher happens to seek them whole, just kindly ask them to cut it into rounds for you, that’s what I did. I remember as a little kid that I would always love the bigger cuts because they had more meat in them… Until someone ruined it for me saying that “the bigger the cut, the closer it is to its bum!”

Oxtail Kare-Kare Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 45 MINS | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

For the stew

  • 1kg oxtail, cut into rounds
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 5 dried bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed then minced
  • 1 large onion, halved and then sliced
  • 1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter (a very generous tablespoon)
  • 1 tsp rock salt
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Ground salt and pepper
  • Buk Choy, separated
  • Eggplant, sliced diagonally
  • Long beans, cut into 1-inch long strings
  • Okra (lady fingers), whole and then sliced later once cooked

For the sautéed shrimp paste

  • 345g bagoong alamang (shrimp paste)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed then minced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large onion, halved and then sliced
  • 1 tbsp sugar

METHOD

  1.  Add the oxtail, bay leaves, rock salt and whole peppercorns to a large pot with about a litre of water, or enough to submerge the meat. Boil for about 1 to 1 and a half hours until tender. If you are using a pressure cooker (which I don’t have), 30-35 minutes should do the trick! Once the meat is tender, remove from the heat and set aside. Do not throw away the stock.
  2. While your meat is tenderising, move onto sautéing the shrimp paste. Heat oil in a medium-sized frying pan and sauté garlic and onions until fragrant. Add the tomatoes in and sauté until they have softened. Add the shrimp paste in and give it a good mix. Add in the sugar and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside. You may need to heat it up again before serving.
  3. Heat oil over medium-high heat in another pot and sauté the garlic and onions until fragrant. Add the the oxtails, season with ground salt and pepper, and give it a good stir. Add the peanut butter to two cups of the stock and stir until the peanut butter has softened. Add the peanut butter mix to the oxtail and bring the heat to low. Let it simmer for about 8-10 minutes. If you want your stew to be less creamy and thick, add more stock to your liking.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and cook your vegetables for no longer than 5 minutes. Drain and transfer the cooked vegetables to your oxtail stew just before serving. Serve hot with sautéed shrimp paste and enjoy!

Oxtail Kare-Kare

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Stir-fried Gravy Beef with Chilli, Ginger & Shallot

Stir-fried Gravy Beef with Chilli, Ginger & Shallot

Hello Everyone! I actually wasn’t planning on photographing and posting today’s dish as I kind of made it up on the go. I usually plan ahead the dishes that I want to make for the week to ensure that I have all the ingredients that I need for the upcoming week – saves me time of having to go back and forth the grocery shops if I forget one or two ingredients. I actually don’t have much in the fridge right now (in terms of accompanying ingredients for my meat).

Last night I took my beef shanks out of the freezer to defrost in the fridge overnight but still not knowing what I was going to make until later on the next day. I still had the pantry essentials, such as chillies, ginger, onions, and shallots – so I decided to whip up a beef stir-fry! I also had all of the ingredients to marinade the beef in so that was good! I kind of eyeballed the measurements though so forgive me if this recipe is too bland or salty; I’m just going to go off by remembering how much of each ingredient I added to the marinade, feel free to adjust though!

Stir-fried Gravy Beef with Chilli, Ginger & Shallot Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR | COOKING TIME 10-15 MINS SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

For the marinade:

  • 300g beef shank, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp shaoxing rice wine
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 stalks spring onion, cut into 1-inch long strips
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 3 tbsp Sunflower oil

METHOD

  1. Add all the ingredients for the marinade in a medium-sized bowl and mix together until combined. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and let the beef marinate for at least an hour before cooking.
  2. Heat the sunflower oil in a medium-sized frying pan over high heat. Add the green onions and ginger. Sauté for about 2 minutes. Then add in half of the chilli slices and onions, and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the beef shank slices and toss to combine. Cook for a further 5 minutes, adding a little bit of water to loosen the sauce a bit. Cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until cooked through.
  3. Garnish with the remaining chillies and serve with steamed rice and asian greens.

Stir-fried Gravy Beef with Chilli, Ginger & Shallot

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com