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! Maligayang Pasko! Joyeux Noël! ¡Feliz Navidad! Vrolijk Kerstfeest! And a very Merry Christmas to my family, friends and followers from all around the world! It’s weird knowing that Christmas Day is coming to an end, and that the New Year is just around the corner! The year definitely went by real quick! Anyway, tonight will by my last post for the year (maybe) and it is also the very last post for my Festive Filipino Foods series for the blog. Day 12 of 12 is finally here and I have definitely saved the best for last!
If you weren’t able to guess from the hints I dropped in yesterday’s post, tonight’s dish is a Valencian rice dish with ancient roots that originated in its modern form in the mid-19th century near Albufera lagoon on the east coast of Spain adjacent to the city of Valencia. The dish is highly regarded as Spain’s National Dish with various types ranging from Vegetarian/Vegan Paella (Paella de Verduras), Seafood Paella (Paella de Marisco), Mixed Paella (Paella Mixta), and many, many more variants! From the name of this blog, you’ll already know what type of Paella I’ll be covering tonight, but now that I look back and think about my dish, it can actually be a Paella Mixta because what I will be sharing with you tonight is a free-style combination of land animals (well mainly processed pork in the form of a chorizo sausage), seafood, and vegetables.
According to tradition in Valencia, Paella is cooked over an open fire, fueled by orange and pine branches along with pine cones. This produces an aromatic smoke which infuses the Paella. It is cooked in a special wide-flat pan called a Paellera, and dinner guests traditionally eat directly out of the pan as well. Since paellera’s aren’t commonly found, or if you don’t have one handy, the recipe method below will show you how you can still make paella in a normal cooking pot. The last time I made Paella was back in 2012 if I’m not mistaken. I cooked it up together with my then housemate Vanessa and shared it with a friend of mine and her mother one cold wintery evening. We cooked it in a large frying pan and even served it up in that pan!
PREP TIME 20 MINS| COOKING TIME 30-40 MINS| SERVES 8-10
2 cups plain medium-grain rice, washed and drained
1 cup glutinous rice, washed and drained
1 cup frozen green peas
300g fresh or frozen mussels
200g fresh prawns, peeled and deveined, peels and heads reserved
150g fresh or frozen baby clam meat
100g squid, cleaned and cut into rings
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 dried bay leaves
1 brown onion, diced
1 chorizo sausage, sliced diagonally
1 large tomato, diced
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 yellow capsicum, sliced
1 tbsp smoked paprika
Ground salt and black pepper, to taste
Pinch of Saffron threads
Whole black peppercorns
Start by making the broth to flavour your paella by adding the prawn heads and peels to a medium-sized pot and cover with about a litre and a half of water. Season with a bit of salt, bay leaves, and whole black peppercorns. Bring to a boil over high heat and then turn it down to a slow simmer. Make sure to press down on the heads and peels as it simmers away to extract as much flavour as you can. Leave it to simmer for about 30 minutes. Once done, turn the heat off and set aside.
Heat about 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium-high, and panfry the chorizo slices until browned, about a minute per side. Remove and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.
In the same pot, sauté the garlic until fragrant and golden brown. Add in the onions and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes altogether. Follow with the diced tomatoes and cook until soft, a further 3-4 minutes.
Add in the rice, paprika, saffron threads, and season with and bit of ground salt and black pepper. Give it a good mix before adding about 3 cups of the prawn stock. Cover and leave it to cook without stirring – at this point, you may want to turn your heat down to medium to avoid the rice sticking to the bottom of the pan. Leave it alone for about 15 minutes or once the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.
Turn the heat down to low, and add the seafood (if you are going to serve it up in the pot you cooked it in, then I suggest that you arrange your seafood in a presentable way, if not, then you can just chuck them in and arrange it later when you transfer your paella to a serving dish). Cover and leave it to cook/bake for a further 15 minutes, or until the seafood is cooked through. Add the vegetables and chorizo slices and cook for a further 5 minutes, after which you can turn the heat off and leave it in the pot for a further 5-10 minutes before serving.
Serve immediately with a fresh squeeze of lemon, and enjoy amongst family and friends!
– Ally xx
ps: I may or may not actually post up two more festive recipes, depending if I have time to write them up from tomorrow onwards before the New Year kicks in.
Hello Everyone! So I made these clams a while ago when I was still in Sydney; I was shopping around the Sydney Fish Markets one day with some friends and came across these lovely clams. I remember the lady who was assisting me as I was choosing the clams; I wanted to pick out the pretty looking ones, the ones that had nice brown and white patterns on their shells as opposed to the ones that we all white (which were the ones the lady was putting in the bag for me). When she wasn’t looking, I’d replace the ones she put in my bag for the ones I picked – I know, I’m insane. Anyway, so without the lady noticing what I did, I got about a dozen of the ones that I picked.
I think I was too excited to get home and start cooking with these clams that I completely forgot to shop for the extra ingredients to accompany the clams. Well, to be honest, I didn’t even have a dish in mind when I bought them; also, I was too lazy to go out again to buy more ingredients so I scavenged the fridge and pantry to see what I had to turn these clams into a delectable dish for dinner that night. I had an unopened bottle of white wine that I was definitely going to use for the clams, and then I kind of just envisioned garlic butter clams when I saw the butter in the fridge, and onions and garlic in the pantry. I even had a small bunch of afro parsley to decorate with and add some green to the dish. In the end, I had everything that I needed which made me even happier.
I’m about to go off on a slight tangent here so if you do not wish to read this non-related part, you can skip ahead 🙂 Anyway, I was just about to say Wow, I actually wrote quite a bit today considering I’m not well today (you can read more about it below after the recipe). My brain is a little bit all over the place now as it’s difficult for me to concentrate on writing when I’m feeling sick. But yes, I guess the whole point of this paragraph is me realising that I’ve written a fair amount even though I keep writing and stopping every 5 minutes.
PREP TIME 5 MINS| COOKING TIME 6-8 MINS| SERVES 2
1 dozen flame clams, washed and cleaned
1/4 cup white wine
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium-sized brown onion, diced
3 heaped tbsp unsalted butter
Bunch of afro parsley
Pinch of sea salt
Heat a medium-sized frying pan (preferably with a lid) over medium-high. Melt the butter and then sauté the garlic in the butter until fragrant. Add in the onions and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
Once cooked, add in the white wine with a pinch of sea salt and leave to cook for about 2-3 minutes, allowing the alcohol to evaporate a bit from the sauce.
Add in your clams and cover your frying pan with the lid to allow the flame clams to steam-cook for about 3-4 minutes.
Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with a bit of afro parsley. Serve immediately and enjoy!
– Ally xx
PS: I actually had this written out at the beginning of the blog post, but I thought it was a bit dismal to begin with so if you’ve made it all the way to the end of the post, here’s a little story for you. I’m feeling a little bit under the weather today; I could sense a sore throat coming down on me last night before I went to bed and then woke up this morning not feeling too well. Let’s just say that have a terrible and painful cough that has somehow disabled me from speaking. I took what was supposed to be a 10-15 minute turned 1 hour nap and woke up slightly feverish. I only knew it was going to get worse from here and I know that because what I have now is just the starting point of a full blown sickness that is to last for another couple of days, probably all the way to the weekend *sad face* Hope everyone is having a better start to the week than I am and see you’ll again with another post on Thursday!
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.
PREP TIME 5 MINS| COOKING TIME 10-12 MINS| SERVES 4
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
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.
Add the pipis and cook for a further 3 minutes or until most of the shells have opened.
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.
Top with reserved green onions and red chillies. Drizzle with lime juice and serve with steamed rice.
Spaghetti alle Vongole (basically ‘spaghetti with clams’ in Italian) is one of my all time favourite seafood pasta, alongside with probably almost ALL seafood pastas out there to be honest. I cooked this up over the weekend but hadn’t found the time to upload it then, so here it is now. It is a dish that is highly popular throughout the central regions of Italy, including Rome, as well as further south in Campania. Italians prepare the dish in two ways:
in bianco: with oil, garlic, parsley, and sometimes a splash of white wine; or
in rosso: like the former but with tomatoes and fresh basil, the addition of tomatoes being more frequent in the south.
Cheese and cream are sometimes added to the dish in most Italian-American recipes. However, these ingredients are quite alien to the spirit of Italian cooking. In the true spirit of Italian cooking, cheese is never added to this dish, accentuating the simple flavours of the clams and of good quality olive oil.
PREP TIME 5 MINS| COOKING TIME 10 MINS| SERVES 2-3
*I would usually go for clam juice, but I couldn’t find any at the supermarkets.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the garlic and chillies in the olive oil until fragrant and the garlic is golden brown, about a minute. Then add the clams, fish stock, and wine. Cover and simmer over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally until all the clams open. Add in the cherry tomatoes and remove from the heat.
While the clams are simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until al dente (read packet instructions, 4-5minutes for angel hair pasta). Drain the pasta and transfer to the saucepan and toss well with the clam sauce and parsley. Serve immediately.