Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu

Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu

Hello Everyone and Happy Hump Day! How is it that we’re already halfway into the first month of the year? I know I’ve said this in probably 80% of my posts from last year, and I will most definitely say it again… Time sure does fly by so quickly!

Tofu, or also known as bean curd, is made by curdling fresh soy milk, pressing it into a solid block, and then cooling it – the same traditional way in which dairy cheese is made. It is a good source of plant-based protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also a valuable plant source of iron, calcium, and minerals such as manganese and phosphorus. In addition to this, it also contains magnesium, copper, zinc, and vitamin B1.

Sadly, tofu sometimes get a bad reputation from omnivores, and it’s probably because they are eating tofu that wasn’t cooked or seasoned well in the first place! Tofu is a popular staple ingredient in Thai and Chinese cuisines where it can be cooked in different ways to change its texture from smooth and soft, to crisp and crunchy.

Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu

Given its neutral taste and range of consistency, tofu has an amazing ability to work with almost all types of flavours and foods. Extra firm tofu is best for baking, grilling, and stir-fries. On the other hand, soft tofu is suitable for sauces, desserts, shakes, and salad dressings. The possibilities are endless and of course, it’s all down to you and your creativity to see where your adventures and experiments take you with tofu!

Tonight I’ll be sharing a super delicious vegetarian dish that’s super simple and quick to put together. You can also easily make this dish vegan by substituting the wild honey for white granulated sugar or maple syrup in the irresistible sweet and sour sauce that will coat the crispy tofu. The trick to getting it nice and crispy? Get rid of the excess moisture and fry it up real nice! No one likes soggy tofu! As always, do head on over to Hot For Food by Lauren Toyota for the original recipe where I drew my inspiration from.

Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu Ingredients



For the sweet and sour sauce

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup wild honey*
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp cornstarch, mixed with 2 tsp water
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes/ground, or fresh chilli
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the tofu batter

  • 1 block of medium-firm tofu
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cold soda water
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • Thinly sliced green onions, to garnish
  • Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

* Substitute wild honey for white granulated sugar or maple syrup for a vegan option.


  1. Preparing the Tofu: If using tofu from a package, drain and cut into bite-sized cubes. Allow the cubes to sit on a clean tea towel or paper towel to get rid of any excess water. Set aside and in the meantime, prepare the sauce.
  2. Sweet & Sour Sauce: Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Set aside. Whisk all the sauce ingredients together (except for the garlic, ginger, and chilli), in a small mixing bowl as set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-low. Add the minced garlic, grated ginger, and chilli. Sauté for about 30 seconds, until golden and fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic and ginger.
  4. Add the sauce mixture to the saucepan and whisk together until just bubbling. Once bubbling, whisk in the cornstarch and water mixture to the sauce. Continue to whisk frequently for 10 to 12 minutes until the sauce has thickened and reduced. Once done, remove from the heat and set aside while preparing the crispy tofu.
  5. Crispy Tofu: In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the 3 cups of vegetable oil to about 180C to 185C (or 355F to 365F).
  6. Prepare the batter by whisking the flour, cornstarch, sea salt, garlic powder, sesame seeds, and black pepper in a large mixing bowl. Do not add the cold soda water until your frying oil is ready. When you’re ready to fry, stir in the cold soda water to the flour mixture and mix well. If the mixture is too thin, add a little bit more flour and combine. The batter should have a smooth and slightly thick consistency – like pancake batter. You want it to stick and coat the cubes of tofu.
  7. Place the tofu cubes in the batter and toss to coat evenly. Delicately drop each cube one at a time into the frying oil. Fry in batches of 5 to 6 pieces (more or less depending on the size of your pot), just be careful to not overcrowd the pot. Fry for 2 to 2.5 minutes, until golden. If some stick together, your can gently separate them in the frying oil using a slotted fryer spoon. Once done, let them sit on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Continue this process with the remaining tofu cubes.
  8. Serve: Heat up the sauce again if needed before serving. In 2 to 3 batches, you can evenly coat the crispy tofu with the sauce by tossing them together in a large bowl. Plate up, drizzle with a touch of sesame oil, and garnish with spring onion.
  9. Serve and enjoy immediately over steamed rice or any vegetables of your choice!

Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu

If you’d rather bake the tofu instead of frying for a healthier alternative, toss the cubes in about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a large bowl. Lay them out evenly on a large parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven (425F, 220C or gas mark 7), for 30 to 40 minutes, until crispy and golden brown. Finish by coating in warm sweet and sour sauce right before serving.

Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu


– Ally xx

Spicy Chipotle Vegetarian Mafalde Soup

Spicy Chipotle Vegetarian Mafalde Soup

Hello Everyone! Unfortunately it’s snap back to reality, (oh there goes gravity) for all (some?) of us. I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas and New Year break, and y’all are ready to tackle what 2020 has in store for you! I’m going to keep the introduction short only because I saved a little something for last in this post for tonight. It has become a tradition that I do every beginning of year on the blog, for you guys to get the chance to know more about me on a personal level. So if you want to go ahead and read it, continue scrolling after you’ve had a read through the recipe of course!

Since towards the end of 2019, I have been slowly cutting down on my meat intake, specifically beef and pork (with very rare cheat/naughty days). I still ate chicken and seafood though and this year I am going to attempt to, if not completely cut out then, at least reduce my intake of chicken. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully go vegetarian, ever, but I think I can survive a couple of days a week of being completely vegetarian.

Spicy Chipotle Vegetarian Mafalde Soup

The original recipe by Rachael Ray over on Rachael Ray Mag, that inspired me to make and share this dish with you tonight is far from being vegetarian. I painfully ditched the ground beef and Italian sausages from the recipe and instead loaded the dish up with hearty and flavourful vegetables such as portobello or swiss brown mushrooms, eggplant, celery, and carrots. Just as delicious as Italian sausages *cries internally*! Of course, don’t forget to substitute the chicken stock out for veggie stock instead. However, if you’re a meat lover, then by all means go ahead and follow Rachael Ray’s recipe.

(Apologies, the intro ended up being much longer than I had anticipated when I said that I’d keep it short *cheeky grin*)

Spicy Chipotle Vegetarian Mafalde Soup Ingredients


* Serves 4 as a main, 8 as a side dish or starter.


For the soup

  • 250g Mafalde pasta**
  • 250g portobello or swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • 1 can (400g) whole tomatoes
  • 2 cups passata or tomato purée
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, sliced or minced
  • 2-3 dried bay leaves
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1 large Lebanese eggplant, diced
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the cheese mixture

  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, or crème fraîche
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

To garnish & serve with

  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Garlic bread, on the side

** Mafaldine, also known as Reginette or simply Mafalda or Mafalde, is a type of ribbon-shaped pasta. It is flat and wide, usually about 1cm in width, with wavy edges on both sides. It is prepared similarly to other ribbon-based pasta such as linguine and fettuccine. If not available in your local grocers, then by all means you can use lasagna sheets as stated in the original recipe, or any other shaped pasta.


  1. Pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until a few minutes shy of the package directions. In my case, package states 13 minutes, so I cooked them for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and then set aside.
  2. Cheese Mixture: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the mascarpone, parm, and cream together. Season with a touch of salt and then set aside.
  3. Soup: In a soup pot or heavy duty Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high. Sauté the minced garlic until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the sliced onions and cook until soft, a further 30 to 45 seconds. Add the chopped celery stalks and carrots, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and eggplant in together with the dried thyme, dried bay leaves, and chipotle peppers. Cook for a further minute.
  4. Pour the canned tomatoes, passata, and vegetable stock over the sautéd vegetables, and give it a good stir. Reduce the heat down to medium-low. Cover and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the flavours to meld. Check and stir occasionally. After about 15 minutes, add the cooked Mafalde pasta to the pot and cook until al dente, about 3 minutes.
  5. Serve: Once done transfer to individual soup bowls. Top each serving with a fat dollop of the cheese mixture and garnish with basil leaves.
  6. Serve with hot, steamy, and crusty garlic bread on the side. I used leftover wholemeal bread slices that was sitting in our pantry and made a garlic-malunggay butter spread for it. Enjoy!

Spicy Chipotle Vegetarian Mafalde Soup

Spicy Chipotle Vegetarian Mafalde Soup


Now as promised at the beginning of this post:

Most people make resolutions and either keep them or forget about them after the first month. I personally have never made any resolutions ever only because, knowing myself, I’d never stick to them. It was only until recently (two years ago to be exact), that I started living by an intention in mind on how I would go about to tackle the year ahead. Last year, it was to:

Go with the flow. Force nothing. Let it happen.
Trusting that whichever way it goes, it’s for the best.

Sometimes I scare myself for how true my intention played out for the year. I entered 2019 with challenges I hadn’t overcome from the previous year, and in time, with this intention I had set, I overcame those challenges. It may not have turned out the way I had originally planned, but I believe that it was for the best.

You see, when I left my job in Brunei, it was because I had a job waiting for me in Australia. Unfortunately I fell short when it came to acquiring a visa to go and work there. With that, I gave up my opportunity to go to Australia. I decided to just go with the flow and see where I’d go next; maybe Australia wasn’t meant for me. Just yet.

I decided to find work here in the Philippines. It wasn’t easy. I was unemployed for 7-8 months and running on the little savings that I had to support not only myself, but my Mom and my sister. It was hard because we were basically starting from scratch having just moved away for good from Brunei. I was starting to fall into a bad place, mentally. I questioned myself and my abilities. I questioned why I couldn’t land a job. Every interview I went to had such promising things to say, not only about my skills and abilities, but my personality as well. But I always fell short in the end. There was always the better candidate. But by God’s grace, I finally landed a job after more than a hundred applications. Finally someone who believed in my capabilities rather than being threatened by them.

I was finally back on my feet. But nothing, nothing. Nothing could have prepared me for the ultimate challenge that was unexpectedly thrown at me. The heavens gained a warm and kind-hearted angel. That angel is Mother. I’m not going to get into much detail on this topic, but all I can say is that it wasn’t until this that I realised why I ended up not going to Australia for work and landed a job here instead. It was so that I could spend the remaining time my Mom had left in this world with her, by her side, up to her last breath.

Towards the end of 2019 (actually just about 2 weeks ago), I was scrolling through Facebook one day and came across this post that my cousin shared:


It really resonated with me. God did make me strong for the challenges I faced this 2019. Even though losing a loved one, especially a mother, comes with so much pain, He has already blessed me with a very unexpected gift before 2019 ended. So I believe and trust that He will push through with His plans for me, to make me happy for 2020.

And now I also truly believe that ending up here in the Philippines instead of going to Australia, was the for the best.

My goal for 2020 is to be happy, no matter what.

– Ally xx

Tilapia with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce

Tilapia with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce

Hello Everyone and a very Happy New Year to all! I’m pleased to let everyone know that Amcarmen’s Kitchen is officially back from its hiatus to bring you some exciting recipes and dishes for 2020! As you know, or I guess, as my loyal/long-time followers know, every year I set a new theme for the blog.

Last year was all about cooking with fruits, be it a savoury or sweet dish; and then every month I’d feature a different fruit. What I absolutely enjoyed about last year’s theme was discovering unique ways of cooking with fruit in savoury dishes. My favourite dish from last year would have to be the very latest post I shared: Mangosteen Vermicelli Salad with Steamed Prawns & Snow Peas. I just love the tang and sweetness the mangosteen fruit brought to the dish!

Tilapia with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce

For now, I won’t reveal the overall theme for this year to you guys just yet, only because I want to see how many of you out there can guess it. I’m honestly not too sure if it will be that obvious, so I’ll give it a few months or so before I actually let you guys in, on the theme.

Tonight’s recipe is something that you can whip up in 30 minutes (or less really), which means that it’s great for a hearty and warm weeknight dinner at home if time isn’t on your side. It can be served over steamed rice or pasta – the choice is yours! But before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original where I adapted my take on this recipe by Rachael Ray over on Rachael Ray Mag.

Tilapia with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce Ingredients



  • 6 tilapia fillets (about 150g per fillet)
  • 1 can (400g) diced tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, minced
  • 1 large brown onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper (capsicum), thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp baby capers in brine, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tbsp sliced black olives in brine, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice (about half a lemon’s worth)
  • Parsley or spring onion, to garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Season the fish with salt, pepper, turmeric powder, and lemon juice. Set aside.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high. Sauté the minced garlic until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Be careful to not burn the garlic. Then add in the sliced onions, chillies, and bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the canned tomatoes and its juices, together with the capers, olives, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper according to taste. Reduce the heat down to medium-low. Cover and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the flavours to meld. Check and stir occasionally.
  4. After about 15 minutes, nestle the seasoned fish fillets into the red pepper sauce. Cover and cook until the fish flakes easily, about 5 minutes. Once done, turn the heat off and serve immediately with rice or pasta.
  5. Garnish with fresh parsley or sliced spring onions. Enjoy!

Tilapia with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce

Tilapia with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce


– Ally xx

Mangosteen Vermicelli Salad with Steamed Prawns & Snow Peas

Mangosteen Vermicelli Salad with Steamed Prawns & Snow Peas

Hello Everyone and happy 1st of the month of December! If you’ve been following my IG page, you would’ve seen that I posted a story update on where Amcarmen’s Kitchen is at, at the moment. I informed my friends and followers that I’d be taking a hiatus and that I wasn’t sure when I’d be returning. If you want to know the real reason why I’ve been away for a while now, and will continue to be away until next year, you can read about it at the end of this post. I didn’t want to start the post off with a downer, so I saved it for last.

Now, tonight’s post does not mean that I am back from my hiatus. I just wanted to get this recipe up since I had this prepared way before my personal life spun out of control, and I didn’t want this recipe to end up in my archive of recipes that will never get posted because it doesn’t fit in with the current theme.

Mangosteen Vermicelli Salad with Steamed Prawns & Snow Peas

Before we dive into the recipe, please check out the original recipes from where I drew my inspiration from – Eat Well with Bite and Where To Eat in Phuket.

I love the sweet and tangy flavour that the mangosteen fruit adds; the chillies that bring a nice kick to it, and the mint for hint of freshness to the dish as a whole. From the original recipe, I ditched the pork since I’m slowly cutting out my meat (not including seafood) intake from my diet, and instead substituted it with juicy jumbo tiger prawns that were just as good!



For the salad

  • 500g large tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 100g thin rice vermicelli noodles
  • 50g snow peas
  • 4 fresh mangosteen fruit, rind removed and discarded
  • 2 sprigs fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Handful of roasted peanuts, lightly crushed
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to season

For the dressing

  • 1-2 red bird’s eye chilli, finely sliced
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Juice of 1 large lime or lemon


  1. Dressing: Prepare the dressing by adding all of the ingredients into a small bowl. Mix well until combined. Set aside.
  2. Rice Noodles: Let the noodles soak in hot water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and then add to a large mixing bowl. Add a teaspoon of sesame oil just so that the noodles do not dry out and stick to each other.
  3. Snow Peas: Bring a small pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add the snow peas into the boiling water and blanch for about 60 seconds. Remove from the heat and transfer to an ice bath. Once cool, drain and pat dry. Add to the mixing bowl together with the rice noodles.
  4. Prawns: Season the prawns with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Arrange in a steamer basket and steam for about 5 minutes. Once done remove and set aside to cool down slightly before cutting them into smaller pieces. Add to the mixing bowl.

Mangosteen Vermicelli Salad with Steamed Prawns & Snow Peas Ingredients

Mangosteen Vermicelli Salad with Steamed Prawns & Snow Peas Ingredients

  1. Salad: Add the rest of the salad ingredients into the mixing bowl, together with the dressing and toss to combine. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste and adjust to your liking.
  2. Divide equally into 4-5 individual serving plates and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Mangosteen Vermicelli Salad with Steamed Prawns & Snow Peas

So as promised, here’s why Amcarmen’s Kitchen is still on a hiatus.

The week that I had this recipe scheduled to go up on my blog, which was back in mid-September for Mangosteen Month, I had about 4 to 5 hours of sleep over a span of 3 days. My Mom was admitted into the hospital and we had spent 2 nights in the emergency room waiting for a room in the intensive care unit to open up. Unfortunately my Mom passed away a week later. Though I may not show it, I am still in a constant battle between grieving and moving on. I believe that the hardest part of healing after you’ve lost someone, especially your mother, is to recover the you that went away with them. It was hard celebrating my birthday a couple of weeks ago; I couldn’t help but to shed a few tears being reminded that she was no longer here with me. And it’s only going to get harder with the Christmas season coming up.

With that being said, I am using my time off from Amcarmen’s Kitchen to plan ahead for 2020! I already have a theme set in stone and have drawn up a few recipes to match the theme! All I have to do now is to execute a bunch of them so that I’ll have the recipes ready for you by the New Year! ‘Till then, stayed tuned!


– Ally xx

Mangosteen, Lemon, and Basil Cocktail

Mangosteen, Lemon, and Basil Cocktail

Hello Everyone! Before we jump into a new fruit theme for the month, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of my Auguesters for sharing, not only their deliciously enticing recipes, but for also sharing their story and passion for food. Thank you to the new faces, and of course to the recurring guests over the years since I started the series. I hope that I can call everyone together again next year! If you would like to know more about the series, and possible hop on the bandwagon for next year, check out the ‘Auguest’ tab above and feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions, or if you are interested in being a part of the series for next year. Yes, I will take bookings as early as now *cheeky grin*.

Moving forward, the theme, or shall I say, fruit for September is none other than the Queen of Fruits herself – Mangosteen. Mangosteen is a tropical fruit that is in season from May to September; widely grown in the eastern, central, and southern parts of Thailand. Mangosteen is known as the ‘Queen of Fruits’ because of its unique crown and deliciously sweet taste.

Mangosteen Fruit

The fruit has a thick reddish-purple-brown rind with a green petal-like crown. The juicy white pulp is made of segments of varying sizes – usually 4 to 8 pod-like fruits. The number of hard brown petals at the bottom of the fruit indicates the number of segments. Among the pulp segments, only one or two are big and have almond-like seeds in them.

Here are some pointers on how to select the best of the best mangosteens:


When the fruit starts to ripen, the rind turns reddish-purple. At this stage, the mangosteen has a sweet and sour flavour to it, and it can be stored longer than ripe ones which have a dark purple rind to it and is sweet.


Choose fruits that still have fresh, green stems. Dry stems indicate that the fruits are old.

Skin Appearance and Feel

Good mangosteens have firm yet flexible rinds. You want to avoid those with cracks and bruises since it is likely that they have fallen from the trees, and are generally bad. Bruising also causes the skin to harden.

Additionally, mangosteens that have a smooth and shiny skin usually means that they have been sprayed with chemicals. On the other hand, fruits that have brown stains are often organic and sweet.

Hardened yellow drops on the skin is dried-up sap. If it’s just on the skin, it has no negative effect on the fruit, however, once it enters into the fruit, it often spoils the pulp and thus making it inedible. Unfortunately, it is difficult to know before opening the fruit.


Choose fruits that are heavy for light fruits often mean that they are old and its pulp may be dry. If you are able to, it’s a good idea to sample the fruit first before buying it. Fruits from the same batch are more likely to be of the same quality. However, it is quite common in some markets that different grade fruits are mixed. Therefore it’s worth the extra effort to check out several fruit stalls and buy from the best ones.

Mangosteen Fruit

How to cut open a Mangosteen Fruit

Take a mangosteen fruit and insert a knife about half an inch into the rind (outer thick skin). Slide the knife around the fruit so that it does not touch the inner white fleshy pulp part, and without cutting the fruit in half. Another method would be to firmly press down on the fruit until the rind tears open. Twist and tear until it opens apart. Once open, scoop out the fleshy white fruit and discard the rind.

The recipe that I will be tackling tonight, is a simple yet refreshingly exotic cocktail drink to quench that weekend thrist. Or hey, maybe even a midweek-midday stress reliever? Your choice. I won’t judge. I’m probably the latter. Feel free to substitute the booze for any other alcoholic beverages such as vodka, or completely leave it out for a mocktail drink instead.

Mangosteen, Lemon, and Basil Cocktail Ingredients


* Recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, etc. to serve 2, 3, or larger groups.


  • 4 fresh mangosteen fruit
  • 2 shots tequila**
  • 330ml soda water
  • 1 sprig basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  • Basil leaves, to garnish
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon slice, to garnish

* 1 shot = 2 tbsp


  1. Add the fleshy white fruit (pitted)*** of the mangosteen into a blender and blend well until it becomes a smooth fruit paste.
  2. In a pitcher, add the soda water, lemon juice, and sugar together. Stir well. After the sugar dissolves, add in the mangosteen fruit paste and shots of tequila. Stir.

Note: Add half of the lemon juice first. Taste then add/adjust if needed. If you add all the lemon juice in one go, it may become very tangy and you may have a hard time in adjusting the flavours. Diluting the juice isn’t a good idea.

  1. Transfer the juice to a salt-rimmed glass, and garnish with a lemon slice and basil sprig. Add ice cubes if you wish.
  2. Serve and enjoy!

Mangosteen, Lemon, and Basil Cocktail

*** While other choose not to eat the seeds of a mangosteen fruit, they are actually are soft and edible. In some cases though, the seeds may be hard and bitter so you might want to discard them if so. Only the larger pulps of fruit contain seeds.


– Ally xx

Auguest 2019: Jialing Mew

Baked Brie with Rosemary, Honeyed Pear & Walnuts

Happy Auguest everyone! I’m Jialing and this is my 5th year as the grand finale for Amcarmen’s Kitchen’s Auguest series. I’ve learnt a lot in these past five years, but clearly not how to stop procrastinating.

Baked Brie with Rosemary, Honeyed Pear & Walnuts

I am at a friend’s wedding, typing away on my phone as quickly as I can while waiting for dinner to come out, moments before it is meant to go live (despite Allison having sent me daily reminders – sorry mate). If you, like me, frequently find yourself with many commitments, and little time, boy do I have a recipe for you! Having learnt from my previous Auguest blogs, this recipe uses just a few ingredients and equipment, and comes together in 15 minutes!

As a bonus, it is vegetarian friendly, and can be easily adapted to be gluten friendly, by swapping out the bread. But it’s not for vegans. Sorry. Please direct yourself to Auguest 2016 for my Poached Pears with Chocolate Chia Mousse if that’s what you’re after.

Baked Brie with Rosemary, Honeyed Pear & Walnuts Ingredients


*Or one (1) very hungry Jialing.


  • 200g Brie cheese
  • 3 pears
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 tbsp honey

To serve

  • Strawberries
  • Crusty bread


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4) and line a tray with baking paper – this will help keep the honey from sticking to the surface when it caramelises!
  2. Cut pears into quarters, and lay onto the baking tray, leaving space for the brie cheese in centre.
  3. Place the unwrapped brie cheese in the centre of the tray and lay whole sprigs of rosemary on top.

Tip: Laying them on top rather than poking them into the cheese infuses the flavour without creating holes that the melting cheese will spill out of as it bakes!

  1. Pile walnuts gently on top of the rosemary sprigs, and drizzle the brie cheese and pears generously with honey.
  2. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the brie cheese is soft and the honey just starts to bubble. As the honey cools it will caramelise the walnuts.
  3. Gently lift the brie cheese using spatula and place onto a cheese board. Arrange pears (careful, they’ll be hot too) and fresh strawberries around the brie cheese and serve immediately with fresh crusty bread. Enjoy!

Baked Brie with Rosemary, Honeyed Pear & Walnuts

Baked Brie with Rosemary, Honeyed Pear & Walnuts

And here we have a rather curious Winston.

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | Jialing Mew


– Jialing Mew

Auguest 2019: Marissa Mai

Seared Lemon Butter Scallops With Avocado Sauce

Hello beloved foodies! My name is Marissa and I run the Sydney Foodie Blog, also known as Maiyummyy. Today it’s such a pleasure for me to be invited to guest blog on Amcarmen’s Kitchen once again for the second time since Ally started her Auguest series in 2015.

For those who follow me over on Maiyummy on Instagram, you’ll know that my strong expertise is in Vietnamese cuisine. So good news! Today I will be sharing with you a new fusion recipe inspired by one of my favourite fruit, Avocado. This dish is called Seared Lemon Butter Scallops With Avocado Sauce, which is inspired by Rachael of Rachael Ray Every Day.

Da Nang, Vietnam

I grew up in Da Nang, one of the most popular coastal cities in Vietnam. It is a coastline city that stretches 30km long, famous for beautiful beaches, resorts, great climate, and a great source of fresh vegetables and seafood for the locals. The reason behind choosing this dish is because I always have a strong passion for seafood and fresh ingredients. We always cook seafood during family gatherings or during Vietnamese celebrations served with beer.

Scallops are considered quite rare to cook in Da Nang because it can be very pricey (like abalone) to catch, so we don’t get the chance to cook them often. The idea of this dish originated from this city, and it is simple, quick, and easy to cook; it is quite delicate and rich in texture.

Seared Lemon Butter Scallops With Avocado Sauce Ingredients



For the scallops

  • 3 sea scallops
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter (I used 25% less fat Devondale Butter)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest from half a lemon

For the avocado-mayo sauce

  • 1/2 medium-sized avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 2 tsp free-range egg Traditional Creamy Mayonnaise (I used Praise brand)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Zest from half a lemon


  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies
  • 2 stalks green shallots, chopped


  1. Preparing the Sea Scallops: Wash the sea scallops clean under cold water, and thoroughly dry them with a paper towel.
  2. Season the sea scallops with a pinch of salt, ground black pepper, and lemon zest Let it sit and marinate for about 15 minutes before cooking.
  3. Avocado-Mayo Sauce: While waiting for the scallops to marinate, prepare the avocado sauce. Using a fork, smash the peeled and pitted avocado in a small bowl.
  4. Add the lemon zest and mayonnaise. Mix well and then season with a touch of salt and sugar to taste. Set aside.
  5. Cooking the Scallops: Melt the unsalted butter in a 12-inch pan (don’t use a non-stick pan), over medium-high heat.
  6. Carefully add the scallops to the sizzling hot pan, making sure that they do not touch each other. Immediately add the minced garlic to the pan.

Note: Do not add the minced garlic before putting the scallops in. This is to prevent the garlic from burning first.

  1. Sear the scallops for about 2 minutes on one side without disruption, until golden crust forms. Wait until the garlic turns golden brown, then remove them from the pan so that it does not burn.
  2. Using a tong, carefully flip the scallops and cook the other side for another minute. The center of the scallops should be slightly translucent. Overcooking will result in chewy and unpleasant texture.
  3. Plate up and Serve: Divide the avocado-mayo sauce into 3 white porcelain soup spoons arranged on a plate. Top with the seared scallops, chillies, and shallots.
  4. Serve immediately as a delicate entrée and enjoy!

Seared Lemon Butter Scallops With Avocado Sauce

Seared Lemon Butter Scallops With Avocado Sauce

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | Marissa Mai


– Marissa Mai

Auguest 2019: Brendon D'Souza

Potato Gnocchi with Red & Yellow Peppers

Hi Foodies, it’s Brendon D’Souza from @brendonthesmilingchef here.

It’s an honour to take part in Auguest once again this year at AMCarmen’s Kitchen. Allison and I met in Sydney a few years ago through Instagram, and then in-person at a food blogging event I hosted. Since then we’ve had countless foodie adventures together.

I started a food blog called Brendon The Smiling Chef around 2012, following the success of a recipe column of the same name. I wrote, styled, and photographed the recipes of my favourite dishes and reviewed some of my favourite restaurants and cafes. The blog continued to run until around 2016. I then focused on photography and a few other passions, worked for tech startups like Deliveroo and Tix and eventually landed a role at a global workspace provider. Earlier this year I launched my photography business Sydney Food Photography. I’ve been lucky to collaborate with some amazing brands like Samsung, OzHarvest and more.

Potato Gnocchi with Red & Yellow Peppers

When I received the theme for this year, I knew I wanted to take a playful twist on the definition of fruit. Potatoes are called pomme de terre in French which could literally translate to ‘apple of the earth’ and peppers (or capsicums as we call them in Australia), are also technically a fruit of the nightshade family (Solanaceae).

Gnocchi are delightful potato dumplings made with a few simple ingredients. They are one of my favourite comfort food this winter and pair very well with a tangy roasted pepper sauce.

Potato Gnocchi with Red & Yellow Peppers



For the gnocchi

  • 500g potatoes, skin on
  • 200g plain flour + extra
  • 1 free-range egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the peppers

  • 1 large red pepper, sliced
  • 1 large yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil + extra

To serve

  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Handful chopped parsley
  • Grated Grana Padano or other hard Italian cheese, to serve

Potato Gnocchi with Red & Yellow Peppers


  1. Preparing the Potatoes: Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until cooked through. A knife should glide through the potato when it’s cooked. Remove from the heat and drain. Cover the potatoes with cold water and set aside to cool.
  2. Roasted Peppers: Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan forced. Toss the peppers with a little olive oil and garlic slices. Spread in a single layer in a roasting pan and roast for 20-25 minutes until the peppers have softened and start to caramelise around the edges. You may need to stir the peppers in the pan while roasting. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Potato Gnocchi: Once the potatoes have cooled, peel and then mash. Add the 200g of flour, egg yolk, salt and pepper and mix with a wooden spoon to form a pliable dough. If the mixture looks a little sticky, add more flour until it forms a ball. It will look and feel like play dough.
  4. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Sprinkle a chopping board with some extra flour. Divide the dough into quarters and roll to form a 1.5cm thick sausage. Cut the sausage into 1cm thick slices with a sharp knife dipped in some cold water. This helps to prevent the dough from sticking. I like to make my gnocchi a little rough and leave them as discs.
  5. Cook the gnocchi in small batches for 2-3 minutes. They will float to the surface when they have cooked through. Remove to large heatproof bowl and toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
  6. Add the roasted peppers, cherry tomatoes, and parsley to the gnocchi and toss to combine. Drizzle with olive oil and grated Grana Padano to serve and enjoy!

Potato Gnocchi with Red & Yellow Peppers

Optional extra: I love the taste and texture of pan-fried gnocchi. To do so, heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add 1 tsp butter and a drizzle of olive oil. When hot, add the gnocchi in batches and sauté until golden brown.

Potato Gnocchi with Red & Yellow Peppers

Check out my foodie adventures on Instagram at @brendonthesmilingchef

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | Brendon D’Souza


– Brendon D’Souza

Auguest 2019: Shazrinah Shazali

Dark Chocolate Açaí Tahini Tart with Mixed Fruit Mountain

Indulgences can be sinful and healthy. A mixture of sweet, bitter and salty goodness combined into what may seem to be regular dark chocolate tart, is sure to give your guests a delicious and tantalising surprise.



For the crust

  • 2 packets of Oreos
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter OR 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt

For the filling

  • 340g dark chocolate (70%)
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream OR coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen açaí berries*, blended
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (optional)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter OR 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt

* If using frozen açaí berries, thaw first before blending.

Dark Chocolate Açaí Tahini Tart with Mixed Fruit Mountain

Tip: Switch out the butter for coconut oil and whipped cream for coconut cream to easily make this tart vegan and dairy-free friendly. Use vegan-friendly maple syrup or other substitute sweeteners, and of course a vegan biscuit/cookie base. Also, while most dark chocolate brands are vegan-friendly, it’s best to check for those that do/do not contain any whey or dairy in them.


  1. Crust: Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Blend the Oreos, unsalted butter, Himalayan salt, and tahini together in a food processor.
  3. Transfer the blended mixture to a 10” tart tray and bake for 10 minutes. Once done, set aside to cool before filling the tart.
  4. Filling: Heat dark chocolate, unsalted butter, whipped cream, and maple syrup in a saucepan at a low to medium flame until melted and well combined.
  5. Once melted, mix in the vanilla essence, blended açaí berries, and salt.
  6. Take off the heat and then pour into the crust.
  7. Even out filling and chill in the fridge overnight to set.
  8. Finishing: Top with fruits of your choice to add freshness and volume to your tart. In this case, I used a medley of mangoes, kiwis, blueberries, and cherries. Serve and enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Açaí Tahini Tart with Mixed Fruit Mountain

PS: Ally here! Before we end tonights post, please read this article on the Goddess behind Fuel’d, who is none other than Shaza!

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | Shazrinah Shazali


– Shazrinah Shazali

Pineapple Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

I am Justine Michael (JM) De Guzman. A 26-year old Information System Developer and a very passionate home cook from the humble town of Limay, from the province of Bataan. I worked at a Government agency as a System Developer, had a break due to burnout, and that’s when I started focusing on my kitchen (which will soon be a little less, because I’m about to get back on my career track).

How did I get into cooking and food? Well I don’t exactly know when, but all I can remember was ever since I was a little boy, I used to lurk around with my mom, aunties, and Lola in the kitchen. While other kids of my age play outside, I on the other hand was busy buzzing around my mom’s kitchen staff. I used to ask a lot of questions about how our food was done. I would always insist on chopping and slicing the ingredients for our lunch. And I would be the first to ‘tikim’ (taste) my Lola’s dish. Yeah, since childhood, I was into food and cooking. I’m always present when and wherever there’s food.

Though I never really had the opportunity to pursue my passion in cooking until I graduated college, my parents wouldn’t allow me to enroll into culinary or any related program because it’s ‘mahal’ (expensive). We were financially unstable during those times. My mom had cancer, and thank God she’s a very lucky and blessed survivor up to this moment. Going back to the story, it was actually my dentist who became my stepping stone on getting into the real world of cooking. Long story short, she has a sister, who happened to be a celebrity chef who resides in Manila, who is also a lecturer at a premier culinary institution in the country. She endorsed me to her for a scholarship grant given by the said school. So I got in, studied, and trained for months. Voilà!

After my culinary training, an opportunity came, not in the cooking industry though, so I still haven’t really experienced cooking for a living. That’s when I started my career in my field of profession (information system). I worked at the office, but my passion, or should I say obsession for cooking never faded. I’ve been known by my colleagues as the guy who cooks and the guy who has baon (packed food) 🙂 Food became my motivation for work. I always wonder what to cook for dinner when I get home, and for my baon for tomorrow’s lunch.

I began exploring different cuisines, by researching through the web, books (I started collecting books about food), food channels, etc. Aside from food and cooking, my other fascinations include history (Asian history), linguistics, society, and culture. I started to appreciate our food, Filipino food – Southeast Asian food, and those are great factors that shaped up my style and way in cooking. I developed my standards, philosophy, and list of ‘musts’ in my cooking. I rarely cook foods these days that are Western in my point of view. I’m so patriotic. Ingredients should always be fresh and sourced by me. LOL. Ingredients that can be made from scratch must never be substituted with industrially manufactured ones (I hate sinigang mix!). You’ll never see stuff like tomato sauce, sinigang mix, and stew mix, etc. in my pantry.

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

If I remember it right, I started following Amcarmen’s Kitchen’s IG posts since last year. I really love her content and I frequently visited her blog as well. It was on the first day of May this year when I received a message from her asking about my interest in being part of her Auguest series.

The dish I’m sharing is of my own creation That said, this isn’t a traditional and commonly home cooked dish in most Filipino households. I’ll just call it Pineapple and Coconut Braised Pork Ribs. Before diving into the recipe, let me share some insights about this dish. As I’ve mentioned before, I have these so called “standards, philosophy, and musts” in my cooking. As much as I can, I don’t use industrially manufactured ingredients, so this dish uses fresh pineapple (but you guys can use the canned one, it’s just me. LOL.).

My philosophy in cooking:

You shouldn’t cook or eat food just to survive or satisfy your hunger. For me food must be respected, consumed, and celebrated every time, along with the stories it underlies with. That’s why it’s important for me to know the background and the story behind one dish. Like why this is cooked this way, why these ingredients are used, etc.

Fun fact, I have this odd habit, just before we eat at home, I first gather the attention of everyone. I weirdly and literally discuss the dish we have on the table, the name, and the ingredients, how I cooked it, what’s its origin (if it’s a traditional dish), my reasons and inspiration of coming up with the dish if I just made it out of creativity and imagination, the taste profile, etc. Just like you do it in a culinary school. Only after that will then they’re allowed to eat. LOL. It’s weird right?! But it’s true. No kidding aside.

Again, this is not a traditional Filipino food per se, but I still call it Filipino food. When we say Filipino cuisine, we’re basically dealing with food that’s been shaped by various factors. Culture, beliefs, traditions, religion, local and indigenous ingredients, influences locally, and internationally. Pinoy foods’ characteristics show strong Southeast Asian/Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and Indigenous influences. I always use them in reference whenever I’m developing a dish, just so that I could come up with a more meaningful one. Like, when I think of an ingredient(s) to be used for my dish, I always make sure, it has to be significant to one’s culture or tradition. I wouldn’t use jalapeño or habanero pepper for my Bicol express, simply because it’s not native nor a traditional Filipino ingredient. You get my point, right? LOL 🙂 I always make sure that each ingredient used is there for a reason; it’s not just there because I want it to be there.

So, Pineapple and Coconut Braised Pork Ribs. As the name implies it’s pork braised in a sauce base with pineapple and coconut cream. Why pork ribs? Well, we Filipinos love our pork. Right? Who doesn’t love pork ribs! Pineapple is my hero ingredient. This is a very common ingredient used in Filipino cooking, and I’ve seen lots of traditional dishes that use it as the base or just a “sahog” (topping). My mom would add juice from a pineapple in her caldereta and hamonado dishes, and fresh chunks in her curry. Then we have coconut. What represents Southeast Asian/Pinoy food more than coconut? I’m a huge fan of gata, and I often cook dishes with gata as its base. It is a shared ingredient among ASEANs. The aromatics I used were shallots, garlic, and ginger – the Filipino mirepoix 2.0 as I call it, as 1.0 being the forever trinity of tomatoes, shallots, and garlic. I added spices into it, which is not a very common practice among Filipino cooking, aside from our ultimate spice known as “black pepper” to give it the curry-like flavour profile – black peppercorn, chillies, coriander, star anise, bay leaves, and cinnamon. For the seasoning, I used a balance of both fish sauce and soy sauce. In addition, since this is a sweet-tangy-savoury dish, I added “panutsa” or unrefined block sugar (but seriously brown sugar’s fine).

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs Ingredients



  • 1 & 1/2 kg pork spare ribs, cut into individual ribs
  • 1 whole large fresh pineapple, divided
  • 200ml (approx. 3/4 cup) juice from half of the pineapple
  • 4 & 1/2 cups coconut cream
  • 6 red bird’s eye chili, finely minced
  • 6 shallots, finely minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or alternatively, 1 tbsp cinnamon powder)
  • 1/2 bulb garlic, finely minced
  • 6 tbsp panutsa or brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp ginger, finely minced
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
  • Fish sauce, to season
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Soy sauce, to season


  1. In a large wok (kawa) over high heat, sear the ribs until browned and develops a crust on all sides. Set aside.
  2. Turn the heat down to low and add a portion of the coconut cream (about 1/4 cup) into the wok. Simmer until the coconut oil separates from its curd.
  3. In the now separated coconut oil, sauté the finely minced aromatics (shallots, garlic, and ginger) altogether. Sauté until aromatics are translucent.
  4. Turn the heat up to high. Return the seared pork ribs back to the wok and then pour in the pineapple juice, remaining coconut cream, all the spices, soy sauce, and fish sauce.
  5. Cover, bring to a medium boil, and then immediately turn the heat down to low.
  6. Meanwhile, in a medium heated pan, sear the cubed pineapples until browned and caramelized.
  7. For the last 15 minutes of simmering, add in the seared pineapple. Simmer the dish uncovered, just until the pineapple has absorbed the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with steamed white rice. A little bowl of patis (fish sauce) with crushed chilies is a good accompaniment to this. Enjoy!

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

You can technically call this dish “ginataan”, and you might also find resemblance with hamonado because of its “fruitful” ingredient – pineapple and a hint of “curry-ness” from the added dry spices.

I hope you’ll like this recipe.

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | JM de Guzman


– JM de Guzman