Hello Everyone! I can’t believe that this is the last recipe for my Coconut series on the blog – time sure does fly by in the wink of an eye. I’ve enjoyed cooking up a coconut storm in the kitchen for the past month, though I’ve realised that all my recipes (expect for one) focused on using Coconut Milk instead of the actual fruit itself *whoops* Nevertheless, I still covered the brief for the month… Hopefully. I did say in my very first post of the year that I will be “cooking with fruits or their… Derivatives“.
For my last Coconut recipe of the month, I will be sharing with you the ultimate Filipino Comfort Food (well let’s face it, almost every Filipino dish is worthy of the ‘ultimate’ title), known as Bicol Express.
Now, I can get into the whole in-depth history of its origins and disputes, but I honestly have no mental power right now to paraphrase the information I’ve read up on. For those who are interested, here’s an article on Market Manila I stumbled upon while trying to figure out why this dish is named ‘Bicol Express’ – which by the way until now remains a mystery to me. Other than it being a catchy name, it’s name is also derived from an overnight passenger train service from Manila to the Bicol region; a region in the Philippines that is famous for their spicy cuisine.
Bicol Express is a dish made from pork, bagoong (salted shrimp fry), coconut milk, and lots and lots of chillies that is of course adjustable to your tolerance of spice. Bicol Express is traditionally cooked by stewing the ingredients altogether while crisping up the pork first is just another creative way of enjoying the dish. I prefer it this way just because I love a nice crisp skin when it comes to pork. Roasting it rather than deep-frying it also makes me feel a little less guilty *cheeky grin* but unfortunately, truth be told that this dish is not exactly waist-friendly. Succulent pork belly cubes and a creamy coconut sauce does come with a price to pay!
PREP TIME 10 MINS*| COOKING TIME 50 MINS| SERVES 4
*Allow of 24 hours of resting time in the fridge for the pork belly after boiled.
For the lechon kawali
1 kg pork belly
6 dried bay leaves
1 tsp ground salt
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
Extra salt, for roasting
For the Bicol Express sauce
2 cups coconut milk (fresh, canned, or frozen)
1/2 cup pork stock (from boiling the pork)
5 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
3 long green chillies, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
3 tbsp bagoong alamang (salted shrimp fry)
Ground black pepper, to taste
Lechon Kawali: Score the pork belly skin with a very sharp knife. Place the meat in a large pot with water, 1 tsp of the whole peppercorns and half of the bay leaves. Boil for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain, placing in a large bowl and let to cool to room temperature.
Tip: Do not throw out the remaining pork stock. Reserve the pork stock to make other dishes or to use as a soup base. Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Once the meat has cooled down, refrigerate uncovered for at least 24 hours for a better result. Refrigerating the meat will help to draw out any remaining moisture. Remove from the refrigerator and bring back to room temperature prior to roasting in the oven.
Preheat oven between 220-240C (425-475F or gas mark 7-9). Rub oil and plenty of salt into the scored skin, really getting it into the slits of the score marks. The fat under the skin will react to the salt and that is what makes the skin puff up and crisp up.
Roast in the oven for 20 minutes and then bring the temperature down to 160C (325F or gas mark 3) and roast for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 20 minutes. Then cut the pork into chunks and plate.
Bicol Express Sauce: While the pork is roasting in the oven, prepare the Bicol Express sauce by heating about a tablespoon of oil over medium-high in a medium-sized cooking pot. Sauté the minced garlic until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds, and then add in the onions. Cook until soft, a further minute or so.
Add the salted shrimp fry and cook for about 3-4 minutes before adding the coconut milk and pork stock. Lower the heat down and bring to a slow boil. It is important to bring it back to a boil slowly to avoid curdling the coconut milk. This happens when it is heated too quickly.
Season the sauce with ground black pepper and add in the sliced red and green chillies (reserve some for garnishing later). Continue to cook the sauce until it starts to thicken and reduce by half, about 10-15 minutes further on low heat.
Once the sauce is done, pour over the plated crispy pork belly chunks and garnish with the fresh chillies.
Serve with steamed jasmine rice and pair with some sautéed long beans in garlic (or any other favourite vegetable dish of yours) to balance out the richness of the Bicol Express. Enjoy!
Before I end tonight’s post, I just want to say that next week I will be back with a new fruit to hero with my upcoming recipes to share so stay tuned for that!
Hello Everyone! I find it hard to believe that it’s already the middle of the month – oh how time flies by so quickly! I don’t have a long-winded tangent to go on about tonight so this post will most likely be shorter than the previous two.
Paksiw sa Gata is a Filipino cooking procedure that involves two cooking styles – Paksiw (stewed in vinegar), and Ginataan (stewed in coconut milk/cream). This cooking procedure is a quick and easy way of preparing a fish dish; a staple amongst Filipino families.
You can use other cuts of salmon such as the heads, tails, and the flesh itself. Likewise, you can also use other types of fish such as Threadfin Bream (Bisúgo) and this unnamed White/Silver Fish that my mom used to get from the markets in Brunei for her paksiw (without the gata) dishes that we grew up on. The only reason why it’s unnamed is because I don’t actually know the name of it *cheeky grin*
Besides the protein, it is also an easy dish to incorporate greens into. Bitter melon (ampalaya) leaves are most common, but not restricted to. I absolutely detest bitter melon and its leaves, and so I opted to use malunggay leaves for this dish. Other common/favourite alternatives include spinach, water spinach (kangkong), and chilli leaves.
PREP TIME 10 MINS| COOKING TIME 20 MINS| SERVES 6
1 kg salmon belly, washed, scaled and, cut into large chunks
1 cup coconut milk (fresh, canned, or frozen)
1 cup water
1/2 cup spicy vinegar*
3 long green chillies
3 red bird’s eye chillies**
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small red onion, quartered
1 bunch malunggay leaves
Thumb-sized ginger, peeled and sliced
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
Salt, to taste
*Or you can always use normal white vinegar if you don’t sit well with spice
**Optional – only if you want your paksiw sa gata to have a spicy kick to it or not
Add the ginger, garlic, onions, chillies, black peppercorns, vinegar, and water into a medium-sized cooking pot. Heat over medium-high and bring to a brisk boil. Continue boiling for about 10 minutes to allow the vinegar to cook and for the aromatics to infuse into the liquid.
Turn the heat down to low, and slowly stir in the coconut milk in and season with a touch of salt. Bring to a slow boil. It is important to bring it back to a boil slowly to avoid curdling the coconut milk. This happens when it is heated too quickly.
Add in the salmon belly chunks and allow to cook for a further 5-7 minutes before adding the malunggay leaves in. Turn the heat off and cover for about 30-60 seconds to allow the malunngay leaves to wilt.
Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy with steamed jasmine rice. Paksiw and Ginataan dishes are always best eaten with rice!
This only just came into mind as I was finishing this post off. I thought back to popular (highly viewed) dish that I made a while back that also uses Salmon Belly (Pan-fried Salmon Bellies).
The next time I make this dish, I’m going to pan-fry my salmon bellies to get it nice and crisp. Then, cook the vinegar and coconut milk sauce separately and just pour it over the pan-fried bellies. There’s nothing I love more than a mouthful of crispy yet melt-in-the-mouth belly fat!
Hello Everyone! I hope everyone has had a good week, and yes I am aware it is only a Sunday night, but I want to be able to share with you guys all the delicious dishes that I’ve whipped up in for the month of May. I do plan out all my recipes so that I know whether to cook 4 or 5 dishes depending how many Wednesdays there are in a month. Because I missed a post last month which is why everything got pushed forward by a week. So I plan to wrap up Eggs Benny month by posting on an extra day so that you’ll get to see everything I prepared for you guys!
Tonight I’ll be tackling a classic combination of fried chicken and waffles with a hit of a Bruneian favourite twist to it. Over the recent year there has been a craze to add salted egg sauce to pretty much every dish possible – salted egg sauce carbonara, salted egg sauce fried chicken, salted egg sauce nasi lemak, salted egg sauce kolo mee, and the list goes on as imaginable! Oh, and let’s not forget those highly overrated and overpriced Salted Egg Potato Chips from Irvins! At the hype of its time, I caved into these overpriced potato chips because they were indeed, as marketed, dangerously addictive. Thank goodness I’ve fallen out of the craze of it all – or have I really? I’m sure when the craving kicks in, I’ll be in trouble *cheeky grin*
The recipe I’ll be sharing with you guys is not something new, in Brunei that is – I guess? Please do share in the comments below if you’ve seen this dish, or something similar, outside of Brunei. Basically, the waffles substitute the classic English muffin while a salted duck egg sauce is made instead of a traditional hollandaise sauce that makes an Eggs Benny. The sweetness of the Belgian waffles pair perfectly with a savoury spicy crispy fried chicken and salty egg sauce – definitely an explosion of taste and texture in your mouth, exciting your palette. Sweet. Spice. Salty. Boom!
PREP TIME 1 HOUR*| COOKING TIME 30 MINS| SERVES 3
*Includes the 1 hour marinating time for the chicken
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
6 belgian waffles**
3 large free range eggs
Micro-herbs, to garnish
**You can either make your own waffles or buy them in the store – I opted for the latter just because I don’t have a waffle maker to be able to make them myself.
Tom Yum Fried Chicken: Combine all the marinade ingredients in a medium-sided bowl and mix the chicken around until well coated. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave to marinate for at least an hour to let all the tom yum flavours infuse into the chicken.
Preheat oven to 180C. Heat up oil in a large frying pan and shallow fry the chicken until skin is crispy and golden (about 5-6 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.
Salted Duck Egg Sauce: While your chicken is on the go, sauté the egg yolks, curry leaves and half of bird’s eye chillies until fragrant. Reserve some of the fried curry leaves to garnish your dish later. Add the evaporated milk and bring to a boil until the sauce has thickened.
Poached Eggs: Bring small saucepan of water to the boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low-medium – the water should be just simmering. Add in the vinegar and stir. Crack one egg into a small bowl and quickly, but gently pour it into the water. Repeat with the other egg. A really soft poached egg should take around 2 minutes, but if you want it a bit more firm, it will take about 4 minutes. To check if they’re cooked right, carefully remove the egg from the pan with a slotted spoon and give the yolk a gentle push (you can tell just by your instincts if it is under or over – or perfect)!
Assembly: Top the waffles with the tom yum fried chicken followed by the poached egg. Drizzle a generous amount of salted duck egg sauce and garnish with the remaining chopped chillies, fried curry leaves, and micro-herbs. Serve and enjoy!
Hello Everyone! It’s week 2 of Pasta Month and let me tell you a little story (don’t I always? *cheeky grin*) before I move on to the recipe. The first time I had squid ink pasta was in an Italian Restaurant when I was studying in Sydney. If I’m not mistaken, the restaurant is called Pizza e Birra on Crown Street in the suburb of Surry Hills. I was having a fancy dinner night out with my flatmate at that time and squid ink pasta was on their specials menu. I was a bit hesitant at first because I obviously hadn’t tried it before and to be honest, I was a bit put off knowing that the colour of the pasta would be black (yes, at that time my palette wasn’t quite as sophisticated as it is right now). To my surprise, the squid ink pasta tasted like any normal pasta – it was just that the colour that was different to me. I’ve had my fair share of squid ink pastas, both in Australia, and here in Brunei. I decided to combine my favourite flavours from both experiences to put up this dish to share with you guys.
I’ve never made fresh squid ink pasta at home, and only because I have no idea where to source squid ink from besides from the ink sacs of fresh squids/cuttle fish. I did some reading online and found that you can actually buy bottled squid ink, but you definitely won’t find them in stores here in Brunei. Heck they don’t even have store bought squid ink pasta here! So how did I manage to source mine? Well, if you’re a regular follower/reader of my blog, you’ll know that I was in Singapore a couple of months back. I was shopping for groceries with my friends for a dinner party that night and I was flabbergasted by all the produce and products found in that grocery store. I was supposed to be focused on grabbing the ingredients I needed to cook my dish for that night, but instead I wandered off, going from aisle to aisle, looking at anything and everything. I found myself in the pasta aisle and that where I came across store bought squid ink pasta. You had no idea how excited and in shock I was when I saw it – because I had no idea that you could buy it on the shelves; and without any hesitation at all, I bought myself a pack to bring back here to Brunei. I know, I know – I’m crazy right? Haha. My next mission will be tomato squid ink pasta from scratch, and I’ll definitely share it on my blog whenever I get around to trying it out! For now, here’s one recipe you can do for your squid ink pasta:
PREP TIME 10 MINS| COOKING TIME 10-15 MINS| SERVES 5
1 pack (500g) squid ink pasta*
1 pack (250g) cherry tomato medley, halved
1 fish bouillon cube, dissolved in 2/3 cup of boiling water
250g baby clam meat
4 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
2 large squids, cleaned and cut into pieces
1 lemon, wedged
1/2 bulb garlic, minced
Parsley, roughly chopped
*Fresh homemade squid ink pasta or store bought is fine for this recipe
Lightly score the inner surface of the squid, or alternatively, cut into rings. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the squid ink spaghetti according to packet instructions or until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking away, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high. Sauté the minced garlic and chillies together until golden brown and fragrant.
Add the clam meat, juice of half a lemon, and a pinch of ground black pepper. Give it a good mix before adding the fish bouillon stock. Turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Add in the calamari when the pasta is almost done.
Once the pasta is done, drain and then transfer to the calamari and clam mixture. Turn the heat back up to medium-high and then give it a good mix. Top with the chopped parsley and then turn the heat off.
Hello Everyone! Today’s recipe is one of my favourite dishes that I simply cannot resist whenever I see it available on the menu of any restaurant that I go to. To be perfectly honest, it’s not about the prawns (or sometimes chicken) that makes me crave for this dish, but for the yummy egg floss that accompanies the protein. The egg floss is buttery, crispy, and a touch salty. I’m not quite sure as to how to explain it’s flavour besides what I have just said because when you think about it, it’s just fried in butter and oil, and topped over the protein that’s stir-fried in all the other flavours. Nonetheless, I love it.
I’ve not seen this dish in Asian restaurants around Sydney, and I don’t particularly know why since it’s quite popular in Chinese restaurants here. I guess that sort of explains my cravings for them whenever I’m back in Brunei. Since I have a confused and inexplicable love for this dish, I thought I’d give it a go and make it at home. I’ve never made this dish before, and to be honest, I can’t get the egg floss as thin and as crispy without browning them too much, as those in the restaurants, but I think I’ve pretty much nailed the dish in terms of its taste.
PREP TIME 10 MINS| COOKING TIME 15 MINS| SERVES 4
500g prawns, shelled and deveined
50g unsalted butter
3 egg yolks, beaten
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 sprigs curry leaves
2 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Ground salt and black pepper to taste
Heat the butter and oil in a medium-sized frying pan or wok over medium-high. Season the beaten egg yolks with a bit of salt.
Continuously swirl the oil quickly in one direction and then add the beaten egg yolks in slowly from a height. Continue swirling until the oil is foamy and the egg is crispy, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the heat and transfer the egg floss to a sieve to drain out any excess oils. Set aside.
Heat a bit more oil in the same frying pan and sauté the chillies, curry leaves, and garlic together until fragrant.
Add in the prawns and season with a bit of ground salt and black pepper. Toss and leave to cook, about 6-8 minutes.
Once the prawns are cooked through, transfer to a serving dish and top with the egg floss.
Hello Everyone! Today’s post will be a simple one – well at first before even tackling the recipe, I thought it’d be a complicated and labour-intensive process. Actually, it took a while to finely chop up the garlic, onions, galangal, and ginger as I did not have a food processor to do it all for me in a jiffy; nonetheless, it helped me improve on my chopping skills (probably not really).
Tom Yum is one of the first Thai dishes that I learned to love, and it was probably from this dish that I slowly started to love chillies and the kick of spice it gave to my palette. In fact, Chicken Tom Yum was the very first Thai dishes that I learnt to cook from my auntie, who is Thai; but at that time I still used pre-packed tom yum paste from the supermarkets. It wasn’t until recently that I decided that I wanted to learn how to make my own tom yum paste – and quite a success I might add! The flavours were obviously tastier and had more kick than store-bought paste, and very easy to make as well! The opportunities are endless with this paste; you can use it to make a tom yum broth to accompany various meats such as chicken, pork, prawns, fish, and mixed seafood’s including clams and squid, or you can use it as a seasoning to various dishes. The original recipe can be found at Pickyin.
PREP TIME 30 MINS| COOKING TIME 45 MINS| MAKES 40 TBSP (approx.)*
*What I normally do is place about a tablespoon of the paste in small plastic bags and place them into the freezer. Each time I make a dish that requires Tom Yum Paste, I defrost a bag (or two) depending on how many I need. This is how I keep my batch on Tom Yum Paste without the need for additives or preservatives to keep them on the shelf/fridge.
250g chili paste (from soaked, deseeded and blended dry chilies)**
20g shrimp paste (or more to taste)
1 cup tamarind pulp water
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 pieces kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
3 inches ginger, finely chopped
2 inches galangal, finely chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, white parts only, finely chopped
1 large red onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp ground coriander
**I couldn’t be bothered to deseed each and every dried chilli, so I ended up adding the seeds in. I’m not sure if you can buy already deseeded dried chillies in stores, but I could not find any myself. I mean, if you want the heat then by all means leave the seeds in – caution though, very hot!
Heat vegetable oil over high heat in a medium-sized frying pan, and then add in the onions, garlic, galangal, and ginger. Sauté until softened and slightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside, leaving the remaining oils in the pan.
In the same pan, add the chilli paste, kaffir lime leaves, lemonsgrass, coriander, shrimp paste, fish sauce, tamarind water, and brown sugar. Cook until the mixture slightly thickens before adding the other fried ingredients into the chilli mixture.
Continue frying until the paste is thick and the oil starts to separate from chilli and surfaces. Set aside to cool down before sealing them in jars/cans. The paste can keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for a few months.
TGIF! Hope everyone had a good week. Today’s dish is once again pulled from my 1000 Italian Recipes Cookbook, though I must say that the ingredients are hardly Italian at all – but nonetheless packed with flavour and again very little ingredients needed. Today’s post will be a short one as I don’t have a long back story for you to endure before getting to the recipe, but please do enjoy this lovely dish.
PREP TIME 10 MINS| COOKING TIME 18-20 MINS| SERVES 2
1 cup spirali pasta (or other shaped pasta)
250g tiger prawns, shelled and deveined
1 cup (200ml) coconut milk
1 stalk lemongrass, ends crushed and tips sliced
1 red bird’s eye chilli, sliced
Zest of 1 lime
Ground salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water according to the packet instructions. Drain and set aside reserving about 2-3 tbsp of the cooking water.
Meanwhile, heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan together with the crushed lemon grass, lime zest and half of the chilli slices. Leave to simmer over low-heat for about 10-15 minutes for the flavours to infuse into the milk.
Add the prawns and leave until they turn pink (about 3 minutes), then stir in the chives and season with salt and pepper.
Fish out the lemongrass stalks and toss through the pasta. Garnish with remaining chilli and lemongrass slices. Serve.
Hello Everyone! Here is another recipe from my ‘1000 Italian Recipes’ cookbook. I am actually surprised at the fact that most of the featured recipes in this cookbook require no more than 8 ingredients to create such a lip-smacking dish – which is a good thing because it means less preparation, easy, quick, and simple, and obviously less expenses. You know what they say, less is definitely more.
Orecchiette is basically a type of pasta shaped roughly like small ears, hence the name (orecchio, ear, OR orecchiette, little ears). They are slightly domed with their centres are thinner than their rims. This particular shape gives them an interestingly variable texture; soft in the middle and somewhat more chewy on the outside.
PREP TIME 5 MINS| COOKING TIME 10 MINS| SERVES 4
2 cups orecchiette pasta (or other shaped pasta)
2 chorizo sausages, sliced
1 leek, sliced thinly
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil
Fresh red chillies, optional
Shaved parmesan cheese
Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water according to the packet instructions. Drain and set aside reserving about 2-3 tbsp of the cooking water.
Meanwhile, heat the oil over high heat in a medium-sized pan and fry the chorizo sausages until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Sweat the garlic and onions without colouring. Then add the rosemary leaves and leeks. Reduce the heat and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes.
Return the chorizo sausages to the pan and add the reserved cooking water. Turn the heat off and toss together with the pasta. Season with a touch of pepper and fresh chillies if desired, and shaved parmesan cheese.