Pastabella - PRIMI (PASTA): CARBONARA

Pastabella

Hello Everyone and hello to an all new Review Sunday! I’ve visited Pastabella twice now; the first time was for Marissa’s birthday dinner at the beginning of this month, and the second time was two nights ago when I caught up with my friend Rowena from back home. Both times did not disappoint; the food was absolutely amazing and the dining experience was taken to the next level with great company.

Pastabella is an Italian restaurant that is all about fresh house-made pasta and wood fired pizza. Now it may not have the best looking ambience in comparison to the other cafés and restaurants on the same street, but it had a homely feel to it. The inside space was like sitting down in your own dining room, while the outside space felt like your backyard or patio area.

There is this man, a cheerful guy he is, who I believe may quite possibly be the owner of Pastabella, greeted us with a smile, a cheeky joke and a laugh, which I thought was quite pleasant because it set the mood for us. I absolutely hate it when you’re greeted with snotty and unpleasant waiters/waitresses, but no, none at Pastabella! You could easily joke around with this man as well and he even returned the favour. When he served us, he asked “who ordered the spachatella?” I raised my hand and he placed the dish in front of me. He then asked “and who ordered the gamberi?” I mean, I was with one other person at that time so it was obviously Rowena’s dish. Nonetheless I responded by saying “I think someone inside ordered this” while I tried to point through the glass windows at a table inside. He the responded by saying “oh okay” and took about two steps away from our table, then quickly turned around, laughed, placed the dish in front of Rowena, and said “she’s a cheeky one isn’t she?” Golden. There were many other funny encounters but I’ll end up writing a whole paragraph or two more about that!

Pastabella - PRIMI (PASTA): BOSCAIOLA
PRIMI (PASTA): BOSCAIOLA
House-made fettuccine pasta with mushroom, bacon, and shallots in a fresh creamy sauce ($18.00)

This dish was quite similar to their carbonara, minus the mushrooms of course and add the egg. I had a little taste of this from my friend’s plate and I quite enjoyed how the cream sauce was nice and relatively thin, but still very flavoursome.

Pastabella - PRIMI (PASTA): CARBONARA
PRIMI (PASTA): CARBONARA
Famous Italian dish of house-made spaghetti pasta with bacon, shallots, egg, and cream ($18.00)

Carbonara is like a classic favourite of mine, but I always try to stray away from ordering it for two reasons mainly. The first is because I can make my own carbonara and secondly, for me I find that carbonara anywhere is the same. When this came to our table though, I have never seen anything like it! When I say that, I am actually referring to it’s presentation. I’ve had my fair share of carbonara’s and never have I seen it being served with a raw egg yolk sitting on a bed of pasta. It tasted amazing! The sauce was rich and absolutely divine, but I probably would struggle to eat a whole plate of it just because the richness and creaminess gets to you at a certain point.

Pastabella - PRIMI (PASTA): CHILLI CON GAMBERI
PRIMI (PASTA): CHILLI CON GAMBERI
House-made fettuccine pasta with tiger prawns, rocket, garlic, and olive oil, cooked in a white wine sauce with a dash of chilli ($22.00)

I had a little taste of this off Rowena’s plate – the tiger prawns were cooked to perfection. Plump, juicy, and soft; nothing of that rubbery texture that I’ve had at a fair share of other places. This dish here was perfection. The pasta was cooked well and I remember Rowena saying that she gets skeptical when dishes say ‘chilli’ but they don’t live up to that level of spice that she expects. This dish did not disappoint her tough! To quote her, “they used legit chillies”. I felt though that those who cannot take the heat will complain about the ‘dash’ of chilli – did not feel like dash! But I’m not complaining; I love the spicy kick!

Pastabella - PASTABELLA SPECIALS: RISOTTO MARINARA
PASTABELLA SPECIALS: RISOTTO MARINARA
Traditionally cooked risotto with mixed seafood in our traditional napolitana sauce garnished with fresh parsley ($26.00)

This for me tasted really good; the seafood was cooked to perfection and flavours were on point. But like other marinara dishes that I’ve had, I feel like they all taste the same.

Pastabella - PASTABELLA SPECIALS: SPACHATELLA, PISTACHIO E PANA
PASTABELLA SPECIALS: SPACHATELLA, PISTACHIO E PANA
A traditional Sicilian style pasta cooked with fresh cream, sprinkled with roasted pistachio nuts, and topped with pecorino cheese ($25.00)

I was intrigued by this one because never have I ever had a pasta-pistachio combination before. I love pistachios, and I know they have a very distinct taste to them as well. This pasta tasted so great! The pistachios really enhanced the flavour of the dish and was finished off nicely with pecorino on top. It was something that I’ve never tasted before, and I couldn’t even compare it to any other dish in terms of flavour.

In my opinion, the pizzas that we ordered were nothing really special that would make me want to go all the way back here for more. Don’t get me wrong, the pizzas were good, but it’s more like there are other pizza places that are nearer to where I live that are just as good.

Pastabella - PIZZA: ITALIANA
PIZZA: ITALIANA
Napolitana & mozzarella cheese base with eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, artichokes, olives, and garlic ($23.00)

Pastabella - PIZZA: PASTABELLA
PIZZA: PASTABELLA
Signature Pastabella sauce, grilled chicken, mushrooms, and olives ($20.00)

Pastabella - DOLCI (DESSERTS): PIZZA ALLA BANANA
DOLCI (DESSERTS): PIZZA ALLA BANANA
Banana and custard pizza, drizzled with a delicious caramel sauce and lightly sprinkled with icing sugar ($14.00)

After a filling feast, we just had to have dessert, and we definitely made the right choice. Wood fired dessert pizza with a custard-base sauce, fresh bananas, and caramel sauce – what a combination! Though I love the taste of fresh bananas, I probably would’ve loved them to be fired in the pizza oven for a few minutes to caramelise. I bet that would be AMAZING.

Pastabella - DOLCI (DESSERTS): PASSIONE DI FRUTTI
DOLCI (DESSERTS): PASSIONE DI FRUTTI
Banana, passionfruit and custard pizza, sprinkled with icing sugar ($15.00)

I know, you’re probably thinking that this is exactly the same as above but with passionfruit instead of a caramel sauce. Well you are totally right! But this was supposed to be a dessert pizza with peaches and passionfruit instead of banana. To my dismay, they had run out of peaches that night, and they asked if banana was okay. Well, I couldn’t do anything about it, so I just agreed to it. Not disappointed on the taste though because it was just as good as the last time I had their pizza alla banana dessert!

I definitely recommend this place if you want to spend a quiet date night with friends or even your special someone. There’s just something about ambience that makes you feel right at home, and eating great traditional pasta and pizza with good company that makes Pastabella a great dining place.

So based on all that, I’d say that this place is a definite 9.5 for food (just a slight disappointment that they didn’t have peaches for the passione di frutti dessert pizza we ordered), ambience probably 8, and service an easy 10. Value? I’d probably give it an 8.5? The portions were decent for the price in my opinion!

Pastabella
89 Glebe Point Road,
Glebe, NSW
Australia, 2037

– Ally xx

Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice)

Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice)

Hello Everyone! I’m back tonight with a recipe for you guys. So I did a little bit of reading on what Nasi Lemak actually translates to – I knew “Nasi” (pronounced nah-see) meant rice, but I was not sure what “Lemak” (pronounced leh-mahk) meant. Lemak apparently, if directly translated means “fat” and therefore Nasi Lemak means “fat rice”, but in the cooking context, lemak means enriched, and in this case, rice enriched with coconut milk.

The truth is, no one really know where the dish originated from as coconut rice is common in many other South-east Asian cultures such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Apparently there is an old folklore story from a village just south of the country’s state, Kuala Lumpur, where a village girl accidentally spilled a cup of coconut milk in a pot of rice while she was helping her mother cook. Though her mother was enraged, she ended up liking the taste of the rice with coconut milk, and hence the birth of Nasi Lemak.

Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice)

Traditionally, the two elements that make up this dish are the rice of course, and the spicy sambal (a chilli-based sauce) that either has anchovies or prawns in it accompanying the rice. Sliced cucumbers, half a hard-boiled egg, and roasted peanuts are also essential condiments found in this dish. Nowadays, many variations of accompaniments are served with the dish, such as chicken, beef or prawn curry, and even fried chicken. It is then wrapped and packed in a banana tree leaf as this gives an added fragrance. Restaurants nowadays serve up a modernised version on a plate with all the trimmings.

Back home in Brunei, Nasi Lemak was practically on every menu in every restaurant. They were sold in almost every stall at the Gadong Pasar Malam (Night Market) and even on the side of the streets if I’m not mistaken. All ranging between $1.00 to $3.00, probably a little bit more in restaurant, but surely no more than $5.00. I remember I went to Mamak in Chinatown somewhere in the middle of last year to meet up with Sam’s friends (now my friends too) from the Netherlands. I had a sudden crave for Roti Kosong and Nasi Lemak, but it was so difficult to order it. I think I may have complained about this place before in terms of price comparisons to back home, and I am about to do it again. Their Nasi Lemak here was $9.00, and if you wanted a curry or fried chicken to go with it, it was another $3.00 extra, $4.00 if you wanted seafood. After that, never getting Nasi Lemak here ever again. Thus I decided to give homemade Nasi Lemak a go! Now, I may have steered away from ‘traditional’ by using pre-made sambal, but it tasted pretty good!

Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice) Ingredients

Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice) Ingredients

Here is where you can get quite creative yourself. As I’ve mentioned before, the rice and the sambal is essential. The other components are basically up to you. I paired my Nasi Lemak with Sambal Kangkung, which is basically water spinach stir fried in the chilli-based sauce with garlic and onions, and a piece of fried chicken. You can whip up your own curry with your choice of meat or vegetables to accompany this dish.

Ayam Goreng Ingredients

Kang Kong Belacan Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR | COOKING TIME 20-25 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the coconut rice

  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 pandan (screwpine) leaves, tie them into a knot as shown above
  • 1 small can (170ml) coconut milk

For the fried chicken

  • 4 pcs chicken thigh cutlets, skin-on, washed and cleaned
  • 1/2 vegetable oil, for shallow frying
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Dash of ground black pepper

For the sambal kangkung

  • 1 bunch kangkung, washed, leaves separated from the stems, and stems cut into short lengths
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp sambal belacan
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, halved
  • Handfull of small-sized ikan bilis (dried anchovies), fried
  • Handfull of peanuts, roasted
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Banana leaf

METHOD

  1. First things first, combine all the marinade ingredients for the fried chicken in a large bowl. Mix the chicken around until well coated in the batter. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and set aside to marinade for 1 hour.
  2. Coconut Rice: Just like making steamed rice, rinse your rice and drain. Add the coconut milk, a pinch of salt, and water. Add the pandan leaves into the rice and cook your rice. Once done, transfer to a serving dish lined with a banana leaf together with the other condiments.
  3. Fried Chicken: Preheat oven to 180C. Heat up oil in a large frying pan an working in batches, shallow dry the chicken until skin is crispy and golden (about 4-5 minutes per side). Remove from the heat and place on a baking tray lined with aluminium foil. Place the wings in the oven for a further 8-10 minutes to finish off in the oven.
  4. Sambal Kangkung: Heat oil in a medium frying pan over high heat. Add the garlic and 1 of the sliced bird’s eye chilli and sauté until golden brown. Add in the onions and sauté until soft. Bring the heat down to low and then add in the sambal belacan, cooking the belacan over high heat will cause it to spit all over the stovetop and we don’t want to have a messy cooking area. Cover if needed. Sauté the belacan until fragrant.
  5. Add the the kangkung leaves, stems and a little bit of water to dilute the belacan you think can’t handle the heat. Cover until the leaves start to wilt. Toss around the belacan to coat the leaves and stems evenly (kangkung literally takes only a minute to cook). Serve together with your coconut rice and fried chicken, and top with fresh red chillies.

Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice)

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

Pan-fried Whole Snapper with Chilli, Ginger, Shallot & Soy Sauce

Pan-fried Whole Snapper with Chilli, Ginger, Shallot & Soy Sauce

Hello Everyone! A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I bought 2 whole snapper for just 15 dollars. Well I thought that today I should cook up a delicious meal with the other – same ingredients to dress it up, but probably a little less healthy than the steamed snapper since it’s pan-fried, but obviously the flavour and texture changes when cooked differently.

As I was having it for lunch this afternoon, my housemate Marissa walked into the dining area and I asked her to try some. She loved it and said “did you take a picture of this?” knowing that I am one to definitely blog about it – I mean, of course I took a photo! She also asked me if I followed a recipe, and I said no, I just whipped this up with the ingredients I had in the fridge. It is actually a dish that my Mom makes very often, but with pompano fish – and dressed with just dark soy, calamansi (small round lime, green on the outside and with a centre pulp that is orange in colour), and a little bit of the fish oil that it was pan-fried in. Deliciously lip-smacking! Also often served with steamed rice and stir-fried kangkung in belacan. The simplicities are always the best.

Anyway, this is my take on my Mom’s pan-fried pompano – as the title says, pan-fried snapper with chilli, ginger, shallot & soy sauce. Marissa asked me if you can tackle this recipe with any type of fish such as barramundi, and I honestly think that it will go well with barramundi and any other types of fishes out there.

Pan-fried Whole Snapper with Chilli, Ginger, Shallot & Soy Sauce Ingredients

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 10-15 MINS SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 whole snapper, gutted, scaled, and cleaned
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, sliced
  • 1 stalk green onion, sliced, green and white parts separated
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp chilli oil
  • Lemon wedge
  • Ground salt and pepper

METHOD

  1. Season the snapper with ground salt and pepper. Heat sunflower oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Make sure that the pan is scorching hot before putting the fish in as this will prevent the skin from sticking to the pan. Fry the fish for 5-6 minutes per side. Remove the fish from the pan and place onto a serving dish. Drain the oil, leaving about a tablespoon behind.
  2. Add the ginger and sauté for about a minute before adding half of the chilli slices and the pale and white parts of the green onions. Cook for a further 2 minutes. Turn the heat off and add the soy sauce. Mix around for a bit and then pour over the fish. Add the chilli oil and drizzle with lemon juice. Garnish with the remaining green onions and chilli slices. Serve with steamed rice.

Pan-fried Whole Snapper with Chilli, Ginger, Shallot & Soy Sauce

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Steamed Whole Snapper

Steamed Whole Snapper

Hello Everyone! My fridge (or should I say, my part of the fridge since I share a house with about 20 other people) has been looking a bit lonely for the past week. Nothing makes me happier than going to Paddy’s Market, and coming home with bags of fresh meat, seafood, and vegetables – and a bonus development of arm muscles from carrying heavy shopping bags, but probably not good for my back in the long run. My part of the fridge is looking happier now with all that food!

Steamed Whole Snapper

I probably bought more than 5 kilos of meat ranging from beef, chicken, and yummy pork ribs. I also got 2 whole snappers for $15, one of which will be featured in today’s post, and the other probably later in the week, as well as some prawns and salmon portions. I know that this sounds like a LOT of food for a tiny girl like me, but all this will probably last me a month or so. Paddy’s is not difficult to get to from where I live, but it is quite a bit of a trek and time consuming to go to every week to shop especially when there are a few other supermarkets close by. The reason why I go to Paddy’s at least once a month is because of their meat, seafood, and vegetables – cheaper and definitely fresher and of better quality than your local Coles or Woolies. I once got sick from meat that I got from Coles… That’s all I’m going to say.

Anyway, onto the recipe – this is a dish that my mom would always make for dinner, using a different fish of course and a different method of cooking. She usually cooks it over a charcoaled barbecue and I don’t know, there’s just something about it being cooked that way that made it so much more tastier. I obviously wasn’t going to start a barbecue for just one fish, plus, I don’t actually have a barbecue in the house (well I do but it runs on gas and I kind of blew it up towards the end of last year – don’t ask). So I stuck to steaming the fish today, but if you do want to give this a try, I highly recommend my mom’s way of cooking. Lip-smacking goodness I tell you!

Steamed Whole Snapper Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 whole snapper, gutted, scaled, and cleaned
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, sliced
  • 1 stalk green onion, sliced, green and white parts separated
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp rock salt
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, sliced

METHOD

  1. Nestle the snapper on a large piece of foil and scatter the red and white parts of the onions, ginger, tomatoes, peppercorns, and salt. Drizzle the lemon juice, soy sauce and sesame oil over the fish.
  2. Loosely seal the foil to make a package, making sure that there is enough space at the top for the steam to circulate while the fish cooks.
  3. Steam for 20 minutes. If you don’t have a steamer, you can place the parcel on a heatproof plate, or a stainless steel wire steamer rack, over a pan of gently simmering water, cover with a lid and steam.
  4. Garnish with the remaining green onions and chilli slices. Serve with steamed rice.

Steamed Whole Snapper

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Stir-fried Pipis in XO Sauce

Stir-fried Pipis in XO Sauce

I remember the first time having this, not too long ago actually, about 1 and a half weeks ago, instant love. I was having dinner with Pam (ex-housemate, fellow foodie, and now long-distance twinnie) and her family who had just arrived that morning from Singapore. We were meant to have a homemade pizza night but we were all feeling a bit tired to cook. Still happy anyway because I got to meet Pam after 4 months since we last saw each other, and I got to meet her family. We had dinner in Chinatown (forgive me, I don’t actually remember the name of the restaurant), and amongst the many dishes we ordered, the stir-fried pipis in XO sauce caught my attention.

It was so yummy, well cooked, and had a good amount of spice to it. It was that good that I had to recreate it for myself, and I did – with larger pipis as well (the ones at the restaurant were baby-sized)! They were only $16.00/kg at the seafood market in Market City. The pipis were already cleaned and had no sand and grit in them. They were also alive which amused me quite a bit to be honest. I stood there over the bucket and started playing with them – tapping their shells, and picking them up and squeezing their shells shut, until the lady approached me and asked me if I wanted to buy them. I bought roughly about 800g for about $13.00 and I was able to get two meals out of it – with steamed jasmine rice and pan-fried eggplant. So delish!

XO sauce is a spicy seafood sauce commonly used in southern Chinese cooking. It’s made of roughly chopped dried seafoods, including scallops, dried fish and shrimp, and subsequently cooked with chilli peppers, onions, and garlic. XO sauce can be used as a condiment on the side of main dishes or used in cooking to enhance the flavour of fish, meats, vegetables, and otherwise bland foods such as tofu or noodles. The named is derived from fine XO (extra-old) cognac, which is a popular Western liquor in Hong Kong which denotes high quality, prestige, and luxury.

Check out the original recipe from Yahoo!7 Lifestyle.

Stir-fried Pipis in XO Sauce Ingredients

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 10-12 MINS SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 800g live pipis
  • 1/2 cup fish stock (or clam juice)
  • 1/4 cup XO sauce
  • 1/4 cup Chinese Shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 red birds-eye chillies, sliced
  • 2 stalks green onion, sliced
  • Juice of 1 lime

METHOD

  1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan (or preferably a wok if you have one) over high heat. Sauté the green onions and red chillies (reserve a few for garnishing later) for 2 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add the pipis and cook for a further 3 minutes or until most of the shells have opened.
  3. Add in the XO sauce, fish stock, Shaoxing wine, and oyster sauce. Simmer for about 3 minutes or until all shells have opened (cook for no more than 5-6 minutes, discard any unopened shells). Transfer to a serving plate.
  4. Top with reserved green onions and red chillies. Drizzle with lime juice and serve with steamed rice.

Stir-fried Pipis in XO Sauce

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Spicy Carrot, Chickpea & Almond Soup with Roasted Croutons

Spicy Carrot, Chickpea & Almond Soup with Roasted Croutons

Hello Everyone! Sorry for the lack of posts once again. I’ve been a bit busy with University, preparing for the last 2 weeks to go! It’s been hectic! Also, the weather hasn’t been very cheerful for the past couple of days. Winter is definitely kicking in! It’s cold, damp and miserable. On occasions there’d be rays of sunshine, but Sydney weather being deceptive and all, the sunshine never lasts long. So what better way to warm up that a nice bowl of spicy soup with crunchy croutons? Soup has never tasted so good.

Today I cooked from the UNSW Student Cookbook, a recipe by Serena Coady. This dish was served at the Cookbook Launch last week and I fell in love with it. It tasted so good that I really wanted to make a whole bowl for myself after a measly taste test without the croutons. Today was definitely the perfect time to whip it up. I tweaked the recipe just a bit in terms of using different bread, herbs and beans, and leaving the sour cream as is, but otherwise I pretty much followed the recipe.

To be honest, the title of this recipe doesn’t quite live up to it – the spicy part that was. I was a bit disappointed that my soup was not spicy at all, like I wouldn’t even say it was mildly spicy. So I may have added a bit too much of dried chilli flakes to give it that kick that I was after. Now that really grasped the word ‘spicy’! It may just be cultural thing, I know a lot of my Western friends who can’t take anything spicy at all, or even calling a dish that had a dash of paprika in it ‘really spicy’. I seriously have no comment for that.

Spicy Carrot, Chickpea & Almond Soup with Roasted Croutons Ingredients

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium brown onion, diced
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can (400g) chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup flaked almonds
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 3-4 slices of Pane di Casa bread from Bakers Delight
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Dollop of sour cream
  • Ground salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 250C.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot over medium to high heat and sauté onions until soft, about 2 minutes. Add in the carrots with the chillies, paprika and oregano and sauté until combined. Season with a touch of salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high and stir intermittently for 15 minutes until carrots are tender and browned. Add the vegetable stock and chickpeas and bring to a boil. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the almond flakes into the soup, saving some for garnish later.
  3. Meanwhile, spread the flaked almonds on a lined baking tray and place in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the flakes are golden brown. Remove and set aside.
  4. Rip the slices of bread into bite size pieces and toss with 1/4 cup of olive oil in a small bowl. Spread onto the same lined baking tray and roast in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.
  5. Pour the soup over into a blender (working in batches if I does not all fit) and blend on low speed for about a minute until well combined and smooth. Pour into a bowl and add a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with almonds, croutons, and paprika. Serve.

Spicy Carrot, Chickpea & Almond Soup with Roasted Croutons

A definite favourite winter warmer.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Pork Spare Ribs Sinigang

Pork Spare Ribs Sinigang

Hello everyone! So I realised that I haven’t actually posted any Filipino recipes since starting this blog. For those of you who don’t know, a big part of my diet consists of delicious homemade Filipino food cooked by my Mama while growing up. Her food was always the best. And today I want to share with you a nice sour soup that’ll definitely warm up your insides during a cold winter. Well, growing up in the tropics didn’t stop us from having a nice bowl of this soup! I’m actually quite proud to be Filipino because there is nothing that I love more than Filipino food.

Sinigang is characterised by its sour and savoury flavour that is traditionally tamarind based. There are other base variations where the soup obtains its sourness from such as guava, calamansi, bilimbi, or unripe mango. Seasoning powder or bouillon cubes based on tamarind is also used in place of natural fruits. This dish can be made with any type of meat ranging from fish, pork, beef, shrimp, or chicken, stewed with tamarinds, tomatoes, and onions as its base. The dish is then accompanied with various vegetables such as okra, gabi (baby taro), daikon (white radish), kangkung (water spinach), snake beans, and eggplant. Often, chillies or peppers would be added to the dish in order to enhance the taste while adding a little spice.

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 15 MINS SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg pork spare ribs
  • 2 small spanish red onions, quartered
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies
  • 1 large tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 medium sized daikon, peeled and sliced
  • 5 small baby taro, peeled
  • 1 bunch kangkung, washed, leaves separated from the stems, and stems cut into short lengths
  • 1 tbsp tamarind soup base
  • Ground salt
  • Fish sauce (optional)

METHOD

  1. Add the pork ribs into a large pot with water filled to about halfway. Boil the ribs on high heat for 30 minutes, then add the chillies, onions, tomatoes, and season with salt. Boil for another 30 minutes.
  2. Add the baby taro and let to simmer for 5 minutes before adding the daikon in. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove 2 of the baby taro and push them through a sieve. Return to the soup to thicken the base and make it richer (this is optional).
  3. Add the tamarind soup base, if you want your soup a little less sour, add in a teaspoon at a time to adjust to your liking (I love my sinigang soup really sour!). Add a few drops of fish sauce if the soup is tasting a bit bland.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the kangkung in. Serve immediately with rice.

Pork Spare Ribs Sinigang

Filipino is not a very famous cuisine as that of its Thai and Vietnamese neighbours. I only know of one Filipino restaurant here in Sydney, and only 1 grocer in Chatswood that sells all things Filipino. Otherwise there are only a small selection of Asian grocers that carry Filipino ingredients like mang tomas sauce, bagoong, tamarind soup base, etc. There’s more to Filipino food than the mind-boggling balut (duck embryo) as we are blessed with an abundance of seafood, tropical fruits and creative cooks. Also, with more than 7,000 islands and a colourful history, we have some delicious dishes of our own.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Prawns with Salted Duck Egg Sauce

Prawns with Salted Duck Egg Sauce

Hello everyone! Apologies for the lack of posts over the week. I assure you all that I am still eating well and I have not gone back to consuming instant noodles 🙂 The lack of posts is usually because I’ve already uploaded the recipe for it, or that what I’ve made is just a simple lunch/dinner that wasn’t photo-ready, and even also because I use natural lighting for all my photos, so when the sun is down, no photo = no post. And yes, my friends can vouch for the existence of many other photos that I have been accumulating over the past 3 years from when I first started to cook. The reason why I don’t want to use old photos is because some of them are out of focus, not presented well, or not the correct lighting, and basically…all over the place? I’m not too sure how to word the last one, but what I’m trying to say is that I’ve kind of adapted to the whole white background scene for my photographs, and I want to keep it consistently like that (unless of course for food that is not my own). I’m a little bit OCD so I like all my photographs to have the same style…for now.

Anyway, enough of the rant, about my apparent perfectionism, today I decided to make one of my favourite dishes, Prawn with Salted Duck Egg Sauce. If you read my previous post last week, I posted a recipe similar to this but with fried chicken instead. I also mentioned that I first tried this dish with prawns but have never actually made it for myself with prawns. So last week Saturday when I went to Paddy’s Market with Lina and Marissa, I bought myself some fresh tiger prawns to make this dish.

I must admit, I love prawns, but I barely cook with it only because I always have this tendency to overcook them. I always end up with dry and tough prawns which is a shame because, when cooked right, they’re just melt in your mouth delicious. I can never cook them to perfection as well because I’m always scared of them actually being undercooked. I am proud to say though that I was able to cook these prawns to melt-in-the-mouth perfection. I have never been happier. Plump, firm but tender, succulent, fresh prawns. Truly foodgasmic. Also a quick and simple dish that requires probably less than 10 minutes to cook. The only down side is that prawns are never cheap. Here at least that is…the ones I used here were almost $30 per kilo while I know I can get even fresher prawns back home for less than $10 per kilo.

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 20-25 MINS SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

  • 400g fresh tiger prawns, shelled and deveined (to save time, you can buy prawns that have already been shelled and deveined)
  • 2 salted duck egg yolks, steamed and smashed
  • 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves (dried leaves can be used as well if not available)
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 can (350ml) evaporated milk
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Ground salt and pepper

METHOD

  1.  Heat oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Sauté the garlic, curry leaves and half of bird’s eye chillies until fragrant. Stir in the egg yolks until they start to foam. Add the evaporated milk and bring to a boil until the sauce has slightly thickened. *This recipe calls for 350ml of evaporated milk, if you want a drier dish, then use less milk
  2. Season the prawns with salt and pepper and then add to the sauce mixture. Turn the heat down to medium and let the prawns simmer for 3-4 minutes. Once the prawns have turned pink, remove from the heat and garnish with remaining chillies. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

Prawns with Salted Duck Egg Sauce

BON APPÉTIT

-Ally xx

myTaste.com

Fried Chicken with Salted Duck Egg Sauce

Fried Chicken with Salted Duck Egg Sauce

Hello Everyone! Today for lunch I decided to pull out an old recipe that I have been making for a while now. I first came across a similar dish back in 2009/2010 maybe, at a restaurant back home, Mangrove Paradise Restaurant, where one of the waiters recommended the stir fried prawns with salted egg sauce. I am so glad that they made that recommendation because the dish was simply divine! I never tried to recreate this dish at home because, if you read my story on My Kitchen Journey, I was never really into cooking until 2 years ago really.

I was looking up recipes online one day figuring out what to make, and then I remembered this dish. I searched and searched online but could not find the one that I specifically had. I came across variations of the dish, but it wasn’t what I wanted to make. I then came across this recipe from yummylittlecooks which was close enough. I tweaked the recipe and method a bit, but I actually haven’t tested this recipe out with prawns, which I should definitely do next time, with some fresh curry leaves (I couldn’t find any this week so I resulted to used dried ones). They go so well with fried chicken though!

PREP TIME 1 HOUR | COOKING TIME 20-25 MINS SERVES 4-5

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup canola oil for shallow frying

For the marinade

  • 15 pcs chicken mid-wings, washed and cleaned
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • Dash of ground black pepper

For the sauce

  • 3 salted duck egg yolks, steamed and smashed
  • 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves (dried leaves can be used as well if not available)
  • 3-4 red bird’s eye chillies, chopped
  • 1 can (350ml) evaporated milk

METHOD

  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and mix the chicken around until well coated. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave to marinade for 1 hour. Do not refrigerate it to bring the meat down to room temperature before cooking.
  2. Preheat oven to 180C. Heat up oil in a large frying pan an working in batches, shallow dry the chicken until skin is crispy and golden (about 4-5 minutes per side). Remove from the heat and place on a baking tray lined with aluminium foil.
  3. Place the wings in the oven for a further 8-10 minutes to finish off in the oven. *In the past I have found that my wings were still a bit raw on the inside after frying, and frying them longer in the pan would either burn my wings or make it go dry, which is why I added this step in to finish cooking the wings without burning, and the wings remained crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside
  4. Meanwhile, drain some on the oil from the pan and sauté the egg yolks, curry leaves and half of bird’s eye chillies until fragrant. Add the evaporated milk and bring to a boil until the sauce has slightly thickened. *This recipe calls for 350ml of evaporated milk, if you want a drier dish, then use less milk
  5. Place the chicken wings on a shallow serving bowl and pour the sauce over the top. Garnish with the remaining chillies and curry leaves. Serve with steamed rice.

Fried Chicken with Salted Duck Egg Sauce

BON APPÉTIT

-Ally xx

myTaste.com