Prawn & Mango Vermicelli Salad

Prawn & Mango Vermicelli Salad

UNSW Student Cookbook 2014: Photoshoot
Getting my dish styled and photographed for the cookbook

Hello Everyone! So about a month ago or so I entered a recipe into this year’s UNSW Student Cookbook 2014. The theme for this year was “Simple Recipes to Impress” or as it is aptly referred as “Simprecipes”. I originally submitted a recipe for fried chicken wings with a prawn and mango vermicelli salad, but since there was another chicken wing entry that already made the cookbook, I was asked to tweak my recipe and just submit the salad. Though it wasn’t quite what I submitted originally, I was still very happy that it was chosen – they loved it for the bright and fresh colours! I also realised though that mangoes are out of season in Australia right now so I doubt anyone will be trying out my recipe until the summer. Sucks. That’s why I love the tropics, all year round mangoes!

Today was the official launch of the cookbook and it was a great turnout! Good food, good drinks, good music. I helped with setting up in the morning, preparing the platters to go out, serving, and a little bit of packing up at the end. Oh and I also got to meet Kumar Pereira, Masterchef Australia’s Season 3 and Allstars contestant. Such a sweet and loving guy! Here’s my entry for the cookbook (I will also post the recipe down below if it’s a bit hard to read from the photo):

Prawn & Mango Vermicelli Salad



For the salad:

  • 200g rice vermicelli noodles
  • 500g cooked prawns, shelled and deveined
  • 2 ripe mangoes, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 bunch fresh mint leaves, loosely torn
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, sliced
  • 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts plus extra to serve, finely chopped
  • 1/4 head red cabbage, finely sliced

For the chilli-lime sauce:

  • 4 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped


  1. In a medium-szied bowl, soak the rice vermicelli noodles in lukewarm water until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix well (yields about 1/2 cup of sauce).
  3. Add the salad ingredients to a large bowl and mix through. Dress with the chilli-lime sauce and toss to combine. I’m a huge fan of all things spicy so don’t be afraid to add more chillies for those spicy-lovers out there!
  4. Garnish with extra peanuts and a few mint leaves. Serve.

This recipe is all about the intense variety of flavours, so invest in quality ingredients to really give it the best punch. It’s easy and super tasty! The bold flavours definitely won’t disappoint!


– Ally xx

My Kitchen Journey

My Kitchen Journey

Hello everyone! Apologies on a slow week of posting. I’ve been busy with a lot of uni work – meeting and chasing deadlines altogether as I run the final month of semester. Anyway, all that aside, last month today I started up this blog and uploaded my very first post! I’ve uploaded 18 posts, gained 45 followers and 418 views in 22 different countries! Thank you so much to those who like and comment on my posts, it really means a lot to me.

A few days ago I was looking through photos from my first year of moving to Australia for my university studies. I came across a folder titled “Epic Meal Time Sydney” and my goodness, I could not stop cringing. “Did I really eat like that?” “Oh my God!” were the words that kept replaying in my mind as I went through every picture. Every picture was cringe-worthy. And it was at that moment that I decided that I would write about my journey from a terrible cook to a ‘Kitchen Goddess’ (to quote a friend of mine who called me that, and also said that my husband, when existent, will be a very lucky man). I wouldn’t call myself a Kitchen Goddess to be honest, I’m no Masterchef or anything, but I do admit that I’ve come a long way from when I first started out 3 years ago. It actually surprises me how much I’ve improved in a short span, considering I also have uni to worry about, as well as having a social life.

So, today’s post will not be a recipe, but I would like to share with all of you my journey. I left the nest back in February 2011 to embark on another chapter in my life, university life, at the College of Fine Arts in NSW, Australia. I lived on my lonesome in a studio apartment about a 15-20 minute walk from the heart of the Sydney CBD.

Before moving out of home, rice was a big part of my diet. However, I lived off a no-rice diet only because I didn’t own a rice cooker to begin with, and I never bothered or even considered getting one. When I wanted to eat rice, I would actually buy pre-cooked packed rice from Coles and all I had to do was chuck it in the microwave for 90 seconds and, rice! I am actually ashamed of having done that – I could’ve just made rice in a pot, but I didn’t. Cringe. I knew a few dishes just by eating the dishes that my Mom made when I was growing up, so at least that was a small plus. But, I basically made food that was sufficient enough for me in a sense that I didn’t care much for how it tasted like or how good it looked on the plate, I just just made whatever I could to fill my tummy when I was hungry. I was even too lazy to make my own sauce to go with my pasta that I actually lived off buying those packed pastas with powdered sauces for a year. All I had to do was put it in a pot with water, simmer until pasta was cooked, garnish with bacon, and done. Penne with Alfredo Sauce was my favourite. Cringe. Towards the end of my first year I became even lazier and start getting takeout food, almost at least 3-4 times a week for dinner. Cringe. And of course, who could forget instant noodles on a weekly basis. Cringe. Plus, I didn’t even know how to make a perfect sunny-side up egg to go with my instant noodles. Cry.

My Kitchen Journey
1st Year Kitchen Adventures

It was at that moment that I knew that I needed to do something about this, and so when I went back home for that Summer, I asked my Mom to teach me how to cook. Yes, before actually leaving for university, my Mom never really taught me how to cook, but then again I guess I never made the effort to learn how to cook during my 9-month hiatus from when I graduated high school before heading off to university. So I guess in a sense it was my fault. Being the great Mother she is, she taught me how to cook the classics, the food that I grew up with, delicious home-cooked Filipino food. It was also at this point that I discovered my love for food that I even started compiling recipes together into a cookbook just for myself.

I’ve mentioned this secret cookbook project to a few of my family members and friends, and I even showed them little snippets of what will be inside the cookbook. They’ve encouraged me to publish the cookbook and all of them are excited and waiting for the launch of it! The cookbook is still in the making. To be honest, I’ve not actually looked at it since late 2012. I am still keen on getting it published, I just have to tweak the design and add more recipes, which I will only probably be able to get onto when I finish my final year by the end of this year. So faithful fans, a little more patience! The cookbook will definitely come out!

By my second year (2012), I stopped buying pre-cooked rice and those instant pasta with powdered sauce packets from Coles. I stopped getting cheap takeouts and making instant noodles. Well, okay, I still had instant noodles, but probably on a monthly or even 3-month basis. I can also make perfect sunny-side up eggs! Achievement unlocked. I was a much better cook than I was when I started out in a sense that I knew a lot more dishes and I wasn’t afraid of improvising in the kitchen just a little bit. It was here as well that I overcame my fear of recipes. I can’t exactly explain the reasoning behind this, but I was afraid of reading and following recipes. I don’t know, for some reason it made me feel incompetent and vulnerable – again, I don’t know why I felt this. Also, during this year I moved out from living alone in the city to living with a flatmate up across the Harbour Bridge in the Lower North Shore. My flatmate was a relatively good cook too, so it made me want to be a better cook as well because we had a roster and cooked for each other every other day. I didn’t want to be judged for making terrible food, neither did I think it would be fair to get a good meal from her, and served her sh*t on my part.

My Kitchen Journey
2nd Year Kitchen Adventures

Third year was pretty much the same, I was still living with my flatmate so the standard of cooking remained pretty much the same. I improved on being able to follow recipes and try new things. I also made an effort in the presentation of my food. It was also in this year where I started to integrate food, or the concept/idea of food into my design. This then eventually led to my interest in wanting to work for a cookbook publishing or food magazine company, and ultimately what and who I want to be when I graduate. When I first started my course, I had no idea what kind of designer I wanted to be, and I never knew that I could find myself through food. I have no one else to thank but my Mom once again. Thank you for teaching me how to cook. I thank you because this has led me down a path that I am passionate about. Thank you so much. Also, I am more confident about my food that I am now able to share with my friends, and I think they love me for that if I’m not mistaken!

My Kitchen Journey
3rd Year Kitchen Adventures

I am now in my fourth and final year of my studies. I moved out from the Lower North Shore area and now ‘kind of’ living alone in the Eastern Suburbs. I say kind of because I live in a town house with 20 other students so it still feels like I have housemates, some I am closer to than others. This blog will be a representation of how I’ve progressed as a part-time uni student and part-time amateur cook. I am already looking forward to all my upcoming design and kitchen adventures! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post, and I hope that this has inspired those who don’t know how to cook, are lazy to cook, or are already cooking but want to improve, that indeed it’s not an easy journey, but you will get there eventually 🙂

My Kitchen Journey
4th Year Kitchen Adventures, and continuing…

– Ally xx