Dragon & Lychee Pork

Dragon & Lychee Pork

Hello Everyone! It’s insane just thinking about how we’re already three-quarters of the way through the middle of the year! Have you achieved some of the things on your New Year’s Resolution that you set out at the beginning of the year? I personally don’t make resolutions, only because I never end up ticking off the things I set out to do, or I stop doing them after the first month. Exercise more? Sure. Goes on a morning run for a week, then decides sleeping in is way better than going for a run!

Instead of making resolutions, I set a motto to live by for the year. I entered the year with a few challenges that I brought in with me from 2018, and I said that with these, and the challenges ahead for 2019, that whatever happens, happens. I’ll tackle every challenge and obstacle with a go with the flow mindset. With that being said, before I leap into that mindset, I still have to be proactive in finding solutions to the challenges I face; it’s more of applying this motto to whatever the result may be, positive or negative. I can safely say that this mindset has helped me in overcoming a bulk of my challenges that I brought in from 2018; thankfully positive in its own way. It may not have turned out as I had originally planned in the timeframe I gave myself – but in the end, I got there with Plan B.

Dragon & Lychee Pork

Alas, tangent aside, before we move on to the recipe for tonight, please go and check out the original recipe by Chun Rong over on XLBCR: Singapore Food & Travel Guide Blog. I guess you could say that my dish is nowhere as near as Chun Rong’s dish – in terms of look, but I can assure you that taste-wise, it definitely hit the mark. This Dragon & Lychee Pork dish is similar to the infamous and very much loved Classic Sweet and Sour Pork.

The dish itself was to die for – succulent and crispy pork paired with a sticky sweet sauce? Yes please. However, there was one thing about the dish that played tricks with my mind – and I guess this is something that only Filipinos will understand. The dish – because of its colours – reminded me of binagoongan, and because of this, with every mouthful that I took, I expected a pop of salty flavours to dance in my mouth. So in my head, I thought that this was just a very badly seasoned binagoongan dish. I had to keep telling myself that it’s not meant to be salty!

Dragon & Lychee Pork Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 45 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

For the pork marinade

  • 500g pork belly (liempo), cut into thick chunks
  • 1 large free-range egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

For the sauce

  • 3/4 cup dragon fruit and lychee jam*
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar

To garnish

  • Chopped scallions
  • Sesame seeds

To serve with

  • Garlic fried rice
  • Blanched okra

*For the dragon fruit and lychee jam (Recipe adapted from Linda’s Cravings)

  • 1 medium-sized dragon fruit (about 600g in weight), cut into chunks
  • 1 can (255g) lychees in syrup, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Lemon rind

Dragon & Lychee Pork

METHOD

  1. Dragon Fruit & Lychee Jam: Add the dragon fruit, lemon rind, lemon juice, and sugar in a medium-sized sauce pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. While boiling, press down on the lemon rind to extract its natural pectin. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes or when the mixture has thickened. Add the lychees in at the last 20 minutes or so. When done, remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Dragon Fruit & Lychee Sauce: Mix 3/4 cup of the dragon fruit and lychee jam together with the water, sugar, and white vinegar. Set aside.

Tip: If you have any leftover jam left, transfer to a sterilised glass jar and seal. Great on wholemeal toast with ricotta cheese for a delectable breakfast. Just be sure to consume the jam within 2 weeks.

  1. Fried Pork: In a large mixing bowl, marinate the pork chunks in soy sauce, sesame oil, and egg. Set aside in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to half an hour. Add in the cornstarch to mix, just before frying. You may opt to deep or shallow fry the pork – I personally don’t like deep frying so I opted for the latter. Of course cooking times will vary.
  2. If shallow frying, add about 3 tablespoons of cooking oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Lay the pork chunks into the frying pan and fry until golden brown and crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. You may or may not have to work in batches for this. Once done, remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Dragon and Lychee Pork: In the same frying pan, discard any excess oil. Over medium low heat, add the dragon fruit and lychee sauce. Taste and adjust first according to your liking. Add the fried pork, lightly tossing and coating the sauce over and then you’re done!
  4. Transfer to a serving plate, or serve in the casing of a hollowed out dragon fruit half. Garnish with chopped scallions, sesame seeds, and diced dragon fruit.
  5. Serve with garlicky fried rice and blanched okra for a full meal. Enjoy!

Dragon & Lychee Pork

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

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Pancit Palabok (Filipino Style Noodles with Prawn Gravy)

Pancit Palabok (Filipino Style Noodles with Prawn Gravy)

Hello Everyone! I might keep this section of the blog short (and I say might because I know that even though I’ve said that, my post will always end up being fairly long by the time I finish writing), because I am feeling a bit overworked and tired today – actually I’ve been feeling exhausted since the beginning of the week and it may be due to a mentally challenging Escape Room challenge that I did with a few friends on Monday evening. Small tangent – we all shared the spotlight on dumb blonde moments!

Tanget aside, tonight’s recipe is a dish that I, of course as all dishes I write about, love but isn’t cooked often at home. The only reason I can think of is maybe because it requires a lot of ingredients and preparation I guess. It’s not so much about how long it takes to make the sauce because in the past, my mom would just use a ready-made powdered version of the sauce that you can easily find on the shelves in the Filipino/Asian food section of your local grocers. For tonight’s post though, I will be making the sauce from scratch just because I want to 🙂 This is also the first time that I have tried making the sauce from scratch and it was a huge success! It’s actually quite easy to make, it just requires a lot of time and patience; but I know for sure that I will not be buying ready-made sauce packets ever again! Unless of course, time is not on my side. I mean, if you’re going to use fresh prawns to top your noodles off in the end, then you might as well take an extra step in salvaging the heads and peels to make a delicious sauce, right?

Pancit Palabok (Filipino Style Noodles with Prawn Gravy)

Anyway, before we jump on to the recipe, I followed Trissalicious’ recipe for making the Palabok sauce from scratch so don’t forget to check her blog out too for her take on this delicious dish!

Pancit Palabok (Filipino Style Noodles with Prawn Gravy) Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR | SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS

For the prawn stock

  • 500g fresh prawns, heads and peels reserved
  • 1.5L water
  • Ground salt
  • Whole black peppercorns

For the sauce

  • 100g thin sliced pork belly, cut into chunks
  • 3-4 cups prawn stock (see recipe below)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 small red onions, diced
  • 1 pc firm tofu, finely diced
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 2-3 tbsp fish sauce, adjust quantity to taste
  • 1 tsp achuete powder
  • Ground salt and black pepper, to taste

Noodles and Toppings

  • 500 grams pancit luglug (cornstarch noodles)*
  • Firm tofu, deep fried and cut into chunks
  • Hard boiled egg, sliced
  • Pork crackling (chicharon), crushed
  • Prawns, poached
  • Smoked fish (tinapa), flaked
  • Squid, cut into rings and poached
  • Spring onion

*You may also use bihon (thin rice vermicelli noodles) for this dish

METHOD

  1. Make the prawn stock: Add 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 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. While the stock is simmering away, you can get a head start in preparing your toppings for the dish. I recommend that you leave the poaching of the prawns and squid for last, when you sauce is almost ready.
  2. Make the sauce: Heat a large frying pan over medium-high and add in the chunks of pork belly. Cook until browned. The oils released from the pork belly should be enough to sauté the garlic and cook the onions, but if needed, add a little bit more oil if there isn’t enough. Then add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant and golden brown, about a minute, then followed by the diced onions. Cook until soft, about 2 minutes in total.
  3. Add in the firm tofu and give it a good mix. Then, add in achuete powder and plain flour, followed by the prawn stock. Make sure to add the stock in a bit at a time as if making a roux and make sure to mix well after each addition. The sauce should be quite thick, resembling the consistency of a béchamel – you may add more water if you want your sauce thinner, or likewise, add more flour if the sauce is feeling a bit thin to your liking. Add the fish sauce and season with some salt and black pepper to taste. Bring the heat down to low and let it slowly simmer away for about half an hour (10-15 minutes if you are impatient); but the longer you leave it on the stove, the tastier the sauce becomes!
  4. Cook the noodles: While your sauce is simmering away, cook the noodles according to the packer instructions, about 15 minutes for the pack of noodles that I got. Once done, drain and divide the noodles equally into individual plates. Also, don’t forget to poach your prawns and squid by this point!
  5. Assemble: Top the noodles with a generous amount of sauce and add your favourite toppings! Serve immediately with a squeeze of calamansi (or lemon) juice and enjoy!

Pancit Palabok (Filipino Style Noodles with Prawn Gravy)

Pancit Palabok (Filipino Style Noodles with Prawn Gravy)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Pancit Bihon Guisado (Filipino Style Stir-Fried Rice Noodles)

Pancit Bihon Guisado (Filipino Style Stir-Fried Rice Noodles)

Hello Everyone! It a whole new month and you already know what that means! A new month on Amcarmen’s Kitchen means a new theme, and for the month of November, I will be sharing with you guys some of my favourite noodle dishes of all time! But before I begin, I’d just like to apologise for my later than usual post – I’ve been super busy for the past three weeks with things I cannot say yet for security reasons, but yes, super busy that I am always mentally drained and find it difficult to just sit down and concentrate on writing for my blog. I’ll probably be able to tell you guys everything somewhere in February next year, but if you really want to know, you can ask me privately. If I don’t tell you, then you’re probably one of the reasons why I can’t talk about why I’ve been busy on any form of social media 😉

Anyway, noodles were first introduced into the Philippines by the Chinese, and since then, noodles have been adopted into local cuisine with endless variations, those popular being pancit bihon guisado, pancit palabok, pancit canton, pancit habhab, etc. The term pancit is actually derived from the Hokkien piān-ê-si̍t (pian i sit) which literally means convenient food. Tonight, I will be kicking it off with a noodle that has been served on our tables countless times over my childhood years up until now – Pancit Bihon Guisado!

Pancit Bihon Guisado (Filipino Style Stir-Fried Rice Noodles)

When one says pancit, it is usually associated with bihon, which is a recipe that uses very thin rice noodles, fried with soy sauce, some citrus, possibly with some fish sauce as well, and some variation of sliced meat and chopped vegetables. The composition of bihon varies quite a lot because it depends on your personal recipe. I can say that the recipe that I will be sharing with you today did even start out like this when my mom first made it for the family – the ingredients have definitely changed over the years! So don’t be afraid to improvise or get creative with the ingredients; s’long as you’ve got the base of the noodles covered with this recipe. You can even take all the meat out and replace the chicken stock with veggie stock for an all vegetarian pancit bihon guisado!

Pancit Bihon Guisado (Filipino Style Stir-Fried Rice Noodles) Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 30-45 MINS | SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS

  • 450g bihon noodles
  • 100g fish balls, halved
  • 100g thin fish cake, sliced diagonally
  • 3 pcs dried bay leaves
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 pcs thin sliced pork belly, cut into 1cm chunks
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 chicken crown, breasts removed and sliced, bone reserved
  • 1 small brown onion, diced
  • 1/2 a head of cabbage, sliced
  • 4-5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • Ground black pepper and salt, to taste
  • Spring onions, sliced
  • Whole black peppercorns

METHOD

  1. Add the reserved chicken bone, dried bay leaves, about a teaspoon or two of whole black peppercorns, and salt to a medium-sized pot filled with about 1.5L of hot/boiling water. Turn the heat up to high and leave to boil for about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile heat a large frying pan over medium-high and add in the chunks of pork belly. Cook until browned. The oils released from the pork belly should be enough to sauté the garlic and cook the onions, but if needed, add a little bit more oil if there isn’t enough. Then add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant and golden brown, about a minute, then followed by the diced onions. Cook until soft, about 2 minutes in total.
  3. Add in the sliced chicken breasts, fish balls, and sliced fish cakes. Season with a bit of salt and ground black pepper and give it a good mix. Cook for about 5 minutes. Then add in the carrots and celery. Mix well and leave to cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Lastly, add in the cabbage and spring onions, and cook until just slightly wilted. Once done, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same frying pan, add the chicken stock to the pan together with the soy sauce, fish sauce, and oyster sauce. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the bihon noodles in and cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Make sure that while cooking, you mix and untangle them periodically. Altogether this should take about 10 minutes. Halfway through, add in half of the cooked meat and vegetables to the noodles and mix well.
  5. Serve immediately topped with the extra meat and vegetables, and with calamansi, or alternatively a lemon wedge. Enjoy!

Pancit Bihon Guisado (Filipino Style Stir-Fried Rice Noodles)

Pancit Bihon Guisado (Filipino Style Stir-Fried Rice Noodles)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Auguest 2015: Josephine Geronimo

Munggo Guisado (Sautéed Mung Bean Soup)

Hello Everyone and welcome to the final week of Auguest! If you’ve read all the way to the end of my post yesterday, you’ll know that I’ve said that week 4 of Auguest would commence today seeing as I had a special post that went up live yesterday. Today’s guest won’t be communicating with you through the write up only because she’s not that confident with her English writing skills; so instead I will be the one taking you through her story of this dish. But first, who’s my guest for this week? Of course it is none other than the woman who cooked for me throughout my years of growing up and the woman who taught me how cook. Without her, my passion for cooking would’ve probably never existed, and neither would this blog. Today’s guest blogger is none other than my Mother, Josephine, known to many as Mama G!

This dish is a delicacy from one of the Ilocanos provinces, my Mom’s hometown in the Northern part of the Philippines, Pangasinan, but her family grew in Quezon City. Once a year the whole family would travel the province to visit their farm and bring back some of their produce, one of them included one 50kg sack of munggo (mung beans). Munggo Guisado is a common lunch and dinner dish found on their table as it is a healthy and nutritious dish. Her father (my grandfather) would always remind his children that munggo contains the same amount of proteins that can be found in beef, chicken, pork, and other meats. Her father was a little bit on the stingy side, so their Munggo Guisado contain no meat at all, just pure mung beans and other vegetables such as ampalaya (bitter gourd) leaves or malunggay leaves. Her father even planted a malunngay tree so that they could pick their own leaves instead of having to go to the markets to buy it. The dish would then be flavoured with bagoong isda (anchovy sauce). It was a dish that they had for both lunch and dinner, everyday.

Munggo Guisado (Sautéed Mung Bean Soup)

This dish was introduced to my Mom since she started to eat solid foods, and has been a part of her daily meal until she came to Brunei. She stopped eating it because she wasn’t in a cooking mood since she moved out of the Philippines to work in Brunei. She started cooking it again when she had a family of her own. My Mom did the same thing by introducing this dish to me when I started to eat solid foods. To her surprise, I hated this dish and she didn’t know why. Even my two younger sisters hated it. She tried everything to make it more appetising for us by adding meat and/or prawns, but still she could not get us to eat it. So, she had no choice but to stop cooking it.

But now, after 20 years, she was able to introduce it back to us again (mainly because for this Auguest post as it has a story to tell of her roots), and apparently we love it! I kept asking my Mom why I didn’t like it in the first place, and she kept answering, “I don’t know with you!” Now Munggo Guisado has found it’s way back into our table as a regular, weekly, meal. The dish is best served with steamed rice and fried fish, as they would say “magkakambal sila” – twins, or meaning a well paired dish.

Munggo Guisado (Sautéed Mung Bean Soup) Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup mung beans
  • 1 cup malunggay (or ampalaya) leaves
  • 250g pork belly, sliced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 tbsp salted ziganid fish (bagoong padas, or anchovies)
  • Ground black pepper

METHOD

  1. Soak the beans in water for about an hour or two, this will help soften the beans and lessen the time required to boil and tenderise the beans when it comes to cooking them.
  2. Add the beans to a medium-sized pot together with about 1L of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let the beans simmer for about half an hour until soft (or about 50 minutes if you didn’t pre-soak them).
  3. In a medium-sized deep fry pan, add the sliced pork belly and fry until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Move them to one side of the frying pan and add the garlic. You shouldn’t need to add any oil and the natural oils from the pork fat should be enough to sauté the garlic. Once the garlic is golden brown in colour and is fragrant, add in the onions and cook until soft. At this point, you can mix them together with the pork. Add in the tomatoes, season with a bit of ground black pepper, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour the cooked mung beans, together with the water that it was simmered in into the pork and tomato mixture. Give it a good mix and if it’s looking a bit dry, add more water to make it more into a soup. Bring to light simmer.
  5. Add the tablespoon of anchovies to a small bowl with about a few heaped tablespoons of the munggo soup. Press on the anchovies to get the flavours out and strain the sauce/paste back into the soup. Discard the anchovies.
  6. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so and then add in the malunggay leaves. Turn the heat off and give it a good mix, until the malunggay leaves have wilted into the soup.
  7. Serve with a nice bowl of steamed rice and fried fish. Enjoy!

Munggo Guisado (Sautéed Mung Bean Soup)

Munggo Guisado (Sautéed Mung Bean Soup)

Of course this dish can be an all vegetarian dish just as how my Mom ate it when she was growing up; just remove the pork belly!

While my Mom was telling me the story of this dish, she teared up a little as it brought back many childhood memories. I hope that one day I’ll have kids of my own and share with them the many favourite dishes I grew up with and the stories that come with them 🙂

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Belly Bao - BAONANA SPLIT

Belly Bao

Hello Everyone! Finally I’m back with an all new Review Sunday (on a Monday – sorry about that) on the blog! I had a pretty hectic day yesterday and didn’t get around to finishing this post. I spent yesterday morning hanging out with my sister, the afternoon with a fellow food-loving friend, Miao, over some cold drinks and cake, then went to indulge in the not-as-amazing-as-I-thought-it’d-be fireworks display for Singapore’s 50th National Day (might I add also, being sardined between sweaty, wet, and smelly people; it was so gross). Then ended the night meeting Alex, talking about anything and everything while we strolled around the area and eventually made our way to have some food.

So onwards with the review – I’ve only ever been to this place once, but have heard many things about it before it even started shaking up the Sydney scene permanently. I think, that is if I am not mistaken, Belly Bao first started dishing out these buns at various market stalls across Sydney about a year ago. I managed to visit a stall at the Paddington Markets on a Sunday afternoon before the found permanent residency at the GoodGod Small Club in the Sydney CBD.

Belly Bao

So the first and not quite last, but won’t be back in a while kind of thing, time I visited the club was with my friend Marissa on a Thursday, maybe Friday night after she had finished her work. We got to the place at around 6:30pm and the place was already packed. The line to order food was not too long, but a good 20-30minute wait, so while Marissa was lining up to order food, I went around the club quite possibly 7-8 times to look for a seat, and occasionally approach people that looked like they were about to be done, asking if I could have their seats when they were done. Thank goodness I was able to snag a seat for a two just as Marissa was about to be next in line to order the food. So yes, if you do plan on visiting on a Friday or Saturday night, be prepared to hunt down seats for a while and battle the noise a bit (well it is a club after all).

BELLY BAOS

Belly Bao - SLOW BRAISED PORK BELLY
SLOW BRAISED PORK BELLY: Pickled mustard greens, coriander, crushed peanuts, and kewpie mayo ($6.50)

The braised pork belly was well cooked – tender, juicy, and packed with flavour. However, I was not a fan of the pickled mustard greens and the coriander. I was able to look past these because it was actual a delicious bao overall. Perhaps a little bit more kewpie mayo or a spoonful of the stock that the belly was braised it would have been nice as it did feel a bit dry with the steamed bun.

Belly Bao - CRACKLING ROAST PORK BELLY
CRACKLING ROAST PORK BELLY: Crackling, pickled radish, coriander, and kewpie mayo ($6.50)

Though I did not have this bao when I was at the club, I did have this when I visited their Paddington Market stall before they opened permanently at GoodGod. Like the first bao, this was also as delicious as the first – tender, juicy pork belly with a nice crispy crackling skin.

Belly Bao - SOFT SHELL CRAB
SOFT SHELL CRAB: Watercress, chilli aïoli, and lemon vinaigrette ($7.50)

Now, I love a good soft shell crab, however I was kind of disappointed with this bao just because the soft shell crab wasn’t as crispy as it could be. It had a bit of a crunch, which I’m guessing came from the shell of the crab anyway, and it was a bit chewy more than crispy. Although I really wanted to love it, it was a sad let down. If it had been the crispy soft shell crab aI hoped it’d be, it would’ve been a great bao especially paired with the chilli aïoli and lemon vinaigrette!

SIDES & SNACKS

Belly Bao - Belly Bao spicy half chicken
SIDES & SNACKS: Belly Bao spicy half chicken ($15.00)

Beside the baos, we also got a couple of sides and we didn’t need to think twice about getting some fried chicken; I mean, who doesn’t like fried chicken? Or better yet, spicy fried chicken? Absolutely delicious, crispy skin on the outside, and tender, juicy meat on in the inside. It wasn’t really that spicy to be honest, but it’s alright for someone who can’t take spicy I guess. Or if you don’t do spicy at all you can just opt to have the non-spicy chicken 🙂

Belly Bao - Sweet potato fries drizzled with chilli aïoli
SIDES & SNACKS: Sweet potato fries drizzled with chilli aïoli ($7.00)

You can honestly never go wrong with sweet potato fries, NEVER. This was a pretty hefty order though and I don’t think we even finished them because we were too full in the end to down them all. The fries weren’t very crispy to be honest which was a shame, but were still nevertheless oh so good. For some reason though, I found their chilli aïoli super spicy – even more spicy than the spicy chicken so not sure what happened there!

DESSERT BAOS

Belly Bao - BAONANA SPLIT
BAONANA SPLIT: Golden fried bao with vanilla ice cream, fresh banana slices, salted peanuts, drizzled with Nutella ($6.50)

Before I begin, I just want to say that I wished they did more desserts for their menu because their golden fried baos are heaven on earth. Maybe they could consider changing up the dessert menu once in a while like how other places change up their dessert flavours once every two weeks. That may just very well attract me towards the place even more! Anyway, I can’t really fault this dessert because I love banana and Nutella, and everything else paired with it. If I had to nitpick this dessert, I just wished that the Nutella was a bit more like a sauce 🙂

Belly Bao - STRAWBELLY BAO
STRAWBELLY BAO: Golden fried bao with vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberry slices, drizzled with condensed milk ($6.50)

From the two desserts, this was the once I actually ordered while Marissa had the first. I’m glad this was the one I ended up because I loved the strawberries and condensed milk drizzle over the whole dessert. It was delicious indeed!

NON-ALCOHOLIC QUENCHERS

Belly Bao - CHERRY MELON POP & GG ICE TEA(LEFT) CHERRY MELON POP: Freshly juiced watermelon & green apple popped sweet with Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters ($9.00)

(RIGHT) GG ICE TEA: Our classic house-brewed ice tea with fresh mint ($9.00)

Overall, I wouldn’t say that the food is really outstanding, but it’s a pretty good interpretation of traditional Taiwanese street food, “not how grandma remembers it”, or as one has questioned, is bao the new taco? They’re definitely a little more than just average, but would probably not score it more than a 7 out of 10; I just didn’t feel any fireworks as I had a bite of my slow braised pork belly bao. The dessert bao though I feel were on an entirely different level to the savoury baos, and so if I were to score the savoury and sweet separately, I’d give the dessert a higher ranking. Other than that, I suppose that the baos are a good value for money. One of these babies, plus a side or two, with dessert filled me up real good, each bao only setting you back about $6.50 on average. I believe that Belly Bao could have chosen a better place to locate their residency – something more in line with the history of how they started out would have been a much more enjoyable scene I believe. I was imagining a quirky café on the corner of a suburban street that isn’t too far away from the city, like perhaps Bronte or Coogee, with some outdoor seating. I was a bit disappointed to hear that they’ve teamed up with a club scene which feels like the complete opposite of what their food is about I guess; then again this is just my opinion. I’d give the ambience a 4 out of 10, possibly 5 if I am being generous – but yeah, dark, noisy, super packed, not quite the way I want to enjoy these delicious baos.

Belly Bao
53-55 Liverpool Street
Sydney, New South Wales
Australia, 2000

– Ally xx

Cuckoo Callay - YA BACON ME CRAZY

Cuckoo Callay

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! Now, I’ve been back to the places twice already, once earlier on this year in February for my last brunch with friends in Sydney before I left to go back to Brunei. The other time I went here was with my family towards the end of May this year to try out their new menu, and to obviously take them to a favourite café of mine (yes I really liked this café from the very first visit I made with my friends). Anyway, the dishes that you are about to see below are a bit muddled in a sense that you will see dishes from their Bacon Festival which launched in the second week of February. The festival lasted for about 6 months I think, and is now no longer on their menu, but don’t fret! They have a whole new menu out and I will also be looking at a few of those dishes in today’s review.

Cuckoo Callay

Firstly, the Bacon Festival; sadly over, but the deliciousness will forever remain! Though I’ve been following the café on Instagram for a while back then, I never really found the chance to pay a visit. When they launched their bacon festival, I made it my mission to go at least once before leaving or else I’d miss out on the festival forever! It was such a great sunny fall day spent with very close uni friends. It was my second last day in Sydney at the time and therefore my last brunch as well before I went back to Brunei. I mean, clearly seeing that I’m back in Sydney, it wasn’t actually my very last time – I just said that at the time because I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to the June graduation sessions, and if I didn’t that meant that I’d be away from Sydney for 9 months until November 2015. I’m glad that I was able to graduate in June, so really I wasn’t gone for too long, but I do only have 2 weeks left in Sydney before I leave for good *sad face*

We decided to all order a dish each, and share amongst the 5 of us so that we’d be able to get a taste of everything bacon! Also to note down, all their bacon goods are free range and sourced from Australian pig farmers by Black Forest Smokehouse.

Cuckoo Callay - BACON DAWG
BACON DAWG: Maple glazed bacon sausage with gruyere cheese sauce, tomato and quince relish, crackling, and dill mustard pickles ($16.00)

My least favourite from the dishes that we ordered and only because I don’t like mustard or pickles, so dill mustard pickles? No! Otherwise if I can recall, my friends quite enjoyed this dish, but it wasn’t their top pick amongst the other dishes. I did love the sausage as it was juicy and succulent, as well as the crackling though, well what I could get of it I suppose since we were all probably going for it!

Cuckoo Callay - BACON ALL THE RULES
BACON ALL THE RULES: Black Forest Smokehouse maple bacon, bourbon bacon, bacon steak, bacon sausage, and bacon-crumbed poached eggs served on sourdough ($24.00)

This dish, though nothing special for me personally seeing as I could whip up something like this at home myself, was a good dish. It was jam packed with meat, eggs, and toast; a classic hefty breakfast. I know this is probably something you probably wouldn’t comment on, but the eggs we’re cooked perfectly with an oozy, runny yolk. I’m commenting on the eggs because you would not believe the many places I’ve been to that say poached eggs and the yolk was a disappointment – basically overcooked. Cuckoo Callay did not disappoint!

Cuckoo Callay - DON'T GO BACON MY HEART
DON’T GO BACON MY HEART: Beer candied bacon and popcorn chicken burger served with beer and tomato chutney, mustard aioli, and ‘slaw on brioche ($19.00)

I don’t really remember if I liked this dish or not – then again I guess not being able to remember a dish means that it didn’t have an impact on me. I don’t think it was bad, but it didn’t impress either. As long as there was bacon, but not just any bacon, beer candied bacon!

Cuckoo Callay - BACON, GET IN MA BELLY
BACON, GET IN MA BELLY: Pork Belly with sticky sweet chilli and fennel seed sauce with bacon, caper, coriander, and lime salad ($20.00)

This was my second favourite dish from the festival. The pork belly was chunky and crispy which was well accompanied by the sticky sweet chilli sauce/glaze it had. The squeeze of lime over the pork belly was a nice hint of freshness along with the capers and coriander. I don’t really like the taste of coriander so I just picked the capers out and ate those 😛

Cuckoo Callay - YA BACON ME CRAZY
YA BACON ME CRAZY: Buttermilk waffles with house-made bacon, caramel and cinnamon ice cream, Black Forest Smokehouse maple bacon, maple syrup, and chocolate coated bourbon bacon ($20.00)

MY FAVOURITE DISH OF THE BACON FESTIVAL! I love bacon, I love waffles, I love caramel, I love cinnamon, I love ice cream, and I love caramel cinnamon ice cream. Altogether? Heaven. Need I say more? Well, I guess the only things I can say negatively about this dish was that the waffle was a bit soft for my liking. I’m all about the crispy waffle! Otherwise, a superb dish.

Cuckoo Callay - BLOODY BACON CUCKOOTAIL
BLOODY BACON CUCKOOTAIL ($14.00)

I have no words for this, well I do but it’s going to be very biased. For starters, I’ve never had a Bloody Mary before so I was definitely taking a chance on this drink. But bacon makes everything better right? I’m afraid to say not in this case. One of my friends even made the comment saying that, “it tastes like cold pasta sauce” and after that comment, I could not get the image of drinking pasta sauce out of my head. I told you it’d be biased, but for Bloody Mary drinkers, this would probably be heaven for you guys.


So as mentioned above, I was able to revisit Cuckoo Callay a second time with my family when they came to visit. The bacon festival was sadly over (I think the weekend before they arrived actually), but they had a whole new menu out for everyone to enjoy! Before I get into the food, I need to tell you a story about what happened at the café; it’s nothing bad, in fact it was hilarious and I will never forget this story. Anyway, when our dishes came to our table, I of course, whipped out my camera and started taking photos of the dishes. Moments later, I’d say about less than 5 minutes later, our waiter (a charming and cheerful lad I might add), returned to our table and said quite loudly and playfully, “Why haven’t you guys started eating?! Is there something wrong with the food?!” followed by a small giggle. I replied, “I’m taking pictures!” to which he then responded, again playfully with a hint of sympathy, “Oh okay, so everyone has to wait I see”. My Mom then said, “She has a food blog” to which he then gave that raised-head ahhhh expression, and then walked away. It was quite hilarious! I’ve taken so many pictures of food before at cafés/restaurant, but never have I ever been why I’m not eating my food. Well honey, if you just wait for me to be done with my pictures, I’ll gladly eat the food!

Anyway, below are just a few of the dishes you can find at Cuckoo Callay:

Cuckoo Callay - GEORGE'S GORGEOUS COUSIN
GEORGE’S GORGEOUS COUSIN (vegetarian and gluten-free): Marinated avocado and thyme infused confit heirloom tomatoes on sourdough, goats curd, house made basil pesto, lemon herb gremolata, and a 63degree egg ($17.00)

My sister Angela had this dish and I of course had a little bite of it so that I could at least write about the taste of the dish. What I really loved about this dish was the marinated avocados; I mean avocados alone are already just good nought for me with a crack of sea salt and black pepper, but these were simply divine. I can’t quite make out what they marinated the avocados in, but they tasted a bit tangy? Anyway, they tasted so good that I think I might’ve had a bit too much of the avocados than I was offered to have!

Cuckoo Callay - PURPLE RAIN
PURPLE RAIN (gluten-free): Beetroot cured salmon, organic quinoa, chargrilled broccolini, sugar snap peas, avocado, kale, chilli, feta, toasted almonds, and 63degree egg ($21.00)

This was the dish that I had and though the avocados weren’t marinated, I still believe that I made the right choice in ordering this for myself. The dish was packed with lots of flavours and textures, and the runny yolk from that 63degree egg just tied the whole salad together. The cured salmon was something new for me in a sense that I’ve never had beetroot cured salmon before and though it was nice, nothing can compare to Devon Café’s cured salmon for me!

Cuckoo Callay - WE FOUND MARY'S LAMB
WE FOUND MARY’S LAMB: 16 hour slow cooked Moroccan spiced lamb, Israeli couscous, chermoula marinated eggplant, minted yogurt, and pistachio ($22.00)

My youngest sister Alyssa ordered this dish, well more like I ordered the dish for her since she had no clue on what to order. The lamb was very tender and really had that Moroccan flavour packed in it. I really liked the Israeli couscous for the way it looked only because I don’t think I’ve ever seen couscous so big and so round! Besides those two elements, everything else on the dish tied nicely together.

Cuckoo Callay - EGGS ON TOAST
EGGS ON TOAST: soft scrambled ($9.00) with extra marinated avocados (+$4.00)

My mom, though she enjoys food a lot, isn’t much of a big eater and so I ordered a simple eggs on toast with marinated avocados for her. You can choose how you want your eggs, whether soft scrambled, 63degree, or fried, and what extras you would like to go with it from crispy bacon, beetroot cured salmon, duck sausage, to grilled haloumi, marinated avocados, etc. Take your pick really to whatever suits your tastebuds. Anyway, of course before ordering this dish, I had no idea how good the avocados were, so after tasting them from my sister’s dish, I was quite happy with the decision to get extra avocados for my mom’s dish only because it meant that I could have more avocados *insert evil laugh* Anyway, what else can I say? The scrambled eggs were light a fluffy, the way it should be and toast is toast.

One thing that I noticed with Cuckoo Callay’s menu (both for the bacon festival and their new menu), is that they are very creative with naming their dishes; even my Mom found it very amusing! Overall, both dining experiences were delightful, and both the company and the quality of service was on point. If I recall, we had to wait a while for our dishes during the bacon festival, and that was only because the café was jam-packed with a lot of customers. We even had to wait 45 minutes in line to be seated, but altogether worth the wait I must say. The festival did not disappoint! Value for money? Like I mean it’s definitely worth your money in comparison to other places that I’ve been too. My Mother on the other hand, of course having just arrived from Brunei where you can probably get a similar dish for half the price, found it quite expensive. However, before she and my sisters left to go back to Brunei, she did comment on how yes eating out is definitely more expensive in Australia, but you get double the portion than you do back home. I’d give value for money an 8/10. The food probably a 8/10 as well; some minor issues due to personal taste, but nothing bad or mediocre about the food to give it a lower rating.

Cuckoo Callay
Newtown Railway Station
Shop 324B Erskineville Road
Newtown, New South Wales
Australia, 2042

– Ally xx

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT

In Asia Restaurant & Bar

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! I think I will keep the introduction short today just because you’re about to dive into a 2200 word review below and I’m already tired of typing and spinning words out of my brain at this hour of the night. Seriously though, if university essays were this easy to write in less than 4 hours, I’d never hate writing essays (most probably)…

About three months or so, I actually don’t remember, I attended a talk organised by General Assembly on the Business of Food Blogging. It was there that I met Brendon D’Souza from brendonthesmilingchef, and he was indeed a happy smiling chap. Last week he invited me and a few other bloggers for an Instagram Meet Up at In Asia Restaurant and Bar in North Strathfield. He told an interesting story about how he came to know about this restaurant; basically he and his family were driving along looking for a place to hold his graduation dinner. They came across In Asia and I think he pretty much fell in love with the food here and even said that the Popular Popcorn Parfait dessert sold it for him. He met the owner of the restaurant and talked about organising a food blogger’s event to basically build up a social media presence of the restaurant. I’m really glad that Brendon organised this event because it was definitely a great experience for not just me, but for everyone else who was a part of the night. I met a lot of other food bloggers, and shared a few laughs over the night as we all started getting a bit tipsy from the drinks.

Let’s get straight into their menu and what I thought of their awesome dishes:

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: SUGAR FLOSS MARTINI
COCKTAILS: SUGAR FLOSS MARTINI
Vodka, fresh strawberries and limes, with candy floss ($16.00)

I remember seeing one of the blogger’s ordering this drink across the other table. Rachael and Angela, who were seated in front of me, bolted over to take a picture of this very photogenic drink that looked like a fluffy unicorn. I wasn’t bothered to get up, only because I was sitting on the inside of the booth(?), not sure what kind of seating it was, but it meant that I had to ask people to get up for me, slide over, and then get out. When the girls returned, we decided to all order a cocktail each and share so that we could get a taste of what In Asia had to offer. I really liked this drink, mainly for the fairy floss and vodka combination, but you can’t really go wrong with strawberry and lime.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: TOBLERONECOCKTAILS: TOBLERONE
Baileys, Frangelico, Kahlua, cream, chocolate syrup, and Toblerone shavings ($16.00)

This was something that I’ve not actually seen before elsewhere, but then again, I’ve only been to how many bars in my life? Yeah, not a lot. Anyway, this was by far my favourite cocktail of the night; alcohol and chocolate? Don’t mind if I do! I’m not a heavy drinker myself, but I’d definitely have 2 or 3 more glasses of this. For me, I couldn’t really taste the alcohol, but that’s okay because it tasted more like a chocolate drink to me, and I like that!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: FINE LYCHEE DAIQUIRI
COCKTAILS: FINE LYCHEE DAIQUIRI
Bacardi, Soho Lychee Liqueur, fresh lychees, and lime ($16.00)

I am currently obsessing over lychees so this drink was also a favourite of mine that night. Loved the sweetness of the lychee paired with a tangy lime. I very much enjoyed this drink and would definitely come back for more of this… And the two above as well *cheeky grin*

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: PAN-SEARED CANADIAN SCOLLOPS
ENTRÉE: PAN-SEARED CANADIAN SCOLLOPS
with chilli purée and lime sauce, fresh pear ($15.00)

I love love love love LOVE scollops. Have I told you how much I really love scollops? Well, as you can tell for my love of scollops, it is without a doubt that this was my favourite entrée of the night. The scollops were cooked perfectly and surprised me with that great kick of heat. I say surprised because I wasn’t expecting it to be that big of a kick to my mouth. I found it quite spicy to my liking at first, but loved it as I had more of it. The pear was a nice touch of freshness to the dish as well.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: BARBECUED CALAMARI
ENTRÉE: BARBECUED CALAMARI
with pickled papaya, fennel, cashew nuts, and crispy pork crackling ($15.00)

I honestly cannot remember what my tastebuds were going through when I had this dish. I mean, it was not a bad dish, but I feel like I didn’t have an overwhelming reaction towards the dish like I did with the other entrée dishes. The calamari was cooked well, and the salad was dressed nicely too. I like how they’ve added the crispy pork crackling in the dish for that added crispy element, but they were all gone before I could get any onto my plate (yes, most of the bloggers who I shared the dish with picked most of the crackling out)!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: BETAL LEAF OF POACHED PRAWNENTRÉE: BETAL LEAF OF POACHED PRAWN
with roast coconut, crushed peanuts, ginger, chilli, lime, and caramel sauce: 2 pieces ($12.00)

As soon as this dish hit the tables, I was flabbergasted by its presentation. Loved the shot glasses. Moreover, I was impressed with the flavour combinations in such a little piece of betal leaf wrap. You’ve got the roast coconut, crushed peanuts, together with the ginger and caramel sauce I presume, that is topped with the tender, melt in the mouth poached prawn topped with roe and a tangy hit with a thinly sliced piece of lime, all wrapped in a peppery betal leaf that gave a nice fresh crunch to everything. It was a bit of a guessing game on how many bites you should take with this; it feels a bit big for one bite, but not big enough for two if you get what I mean. I tried two bites, but then you’re left with just the coconut and peanuts at the bottom without the prawn for your second bite. So I just went for it in one bite for my second serve. I find it quite expensive though because that means that one betal leaf wrap if $6.00; it’s quite a spectacular dish, but I don’t know if I’d pay that much for it.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: SEA SALT AND BLACK PEPPER CALAMARI
ENTRÉE: SEA SALT AND BLACK PEPPER CALAMARI
with wasabi mayo and sweet chilli sauce

I had a look back at their main menu and didn’t see this dish so I can’t say how much it’d cost you to order this. There’s nothing much I can comment on this only just because it’s salt and pepper calamari; I mean you can practically get it anywhere you go. Nothing special, but I did like the tender calamari, however not a big fan of wasabi myself.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - SALAD: TEA SMOKED DUCK BREAST
SALAD: TEA SMOKED DUCK BREAST
with roasted rice, chilli, lemongrass, Vietnamese mint, and tamarind dressing ($22.00)

I felt like it’s quite similar to a Thai dish known as Nam Tok in terms of flavour, but anyway this was a very innovative dish and the flavours were a nice accompaniment to the duck. I actually wouldn’t have been able to tell that the duck was tea-smoked, but nonetheless, the duck was delicious and I wanted more!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - STIR FRY: WAGYU BEEF
STIR FRY: WAGYU BEEF
with asparagus, shallots, and onion with hoisin sauce ($28.00)

Again, this was nothing special for me because I know how to make a mean beef stir-fry myself. I mean, it’s a good, simple, and humble dish, but nothing really as innovative as what I’ve already covered from this point on their menu.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CRISPY SKIN SALMON
MAIN: CRISPY SKIN SALMON
with IN ASIA’s spiced Kumara mash, cashew nuts, sweet potato chips ($27.00)

I wasn’t a fan of this dish for several reasons: firstly, I thought that it was a curry-based dish because of the ‘sauce’ and then I was surprised when I re-read the menu again at it was actually kumara mash. In my opinion, it was a bit thin for a mash. I like my mash creamy no doubt, but this felt like it took creamy to a whole other level. Secondly, though the salmon lived up to its crispy skin, it was however overcooked to my liking; it was a bit dry on the inside for me. The only thing I liked on this dish was probably the sweet potato chips. Sorry!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CRISPY SKIN ROASTED DUCK
MAIN: CRISPY SKIN ROASTED DUCK
with tamarind sauce, pumpkin mash, and navel orange

This I liked better than the salmon dish, and I loved the pairing of the duck with the navel oranges. Though the skin wasn’t as crispy as I thought it would be, it was still a very good dish, and that’s also mainly because I love duck no matter how it’s cooked (just not overcooked of course). You may have noticed as well that there is no price – same what I mentioned above for another dish, I couldn’t find it on their actual menu so sorry to say I can’t make out how much this dish would cost if you want to order this dish.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: KOREAN STYLE BARBECUED WAGYU BEEF
MAIN: KOREAN STYLE BARBECUED WAGYU BEEF
with grilled pear, black sesame, pickled radish, and ginger ($28.00)

This dish wasn’t actually on the pre-planned menu that the restaurant had for us. One of the girls, as she called herself, “that annoying person who just doesn’t like seafood”, ordered this off the menu as the owner of In Asia suggested that she did as he felt bad for having pretty much a seafood-heavy planned menu for the night. I am actually glad that she got to order off their menu and shared a little bit of her food with everyone else because this was a really REALLY lovely dish. The wagyu beef was cooked perfectly and was very tender. The grilled pear, I mean, where do I even begin with this pear? It was so good and paired so well with the beef. It was a match made it heaven.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CARAMELISED TWICE COOKED PORK BELLY
MAIN: CARAMELISED TWICE COOKED PORK BELLY
with crispy panko egg and sweet tamarind sauce ($23.00)

This was another dish that was ordered off the menu, and yet another great dish that made me happy that she doesn’t like seafood. This was actually my favourite main dish of the night. The pork belly was crispy and sweet, and that panko egg was just lovely. I honestly wanted more of this dish, but since we were only sharing, it made me sad that I could not have more that night. I would definitely recommend this dish if you’re ever thinking of dining here. It is a must! I would definitely go again if it weren’t so far from where I live!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MONKEY SNICKER
DESSERT: MONKEY SNICKER
with banana pudding, passionfruit curd, pandan foam, pandan granita, shredded coconut, and coconut ice cream ($12.00)

Finally on to dessert! This was probably not one of the best desserts of the night just because I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other dessert that you’ll see below, both in terms of presentation and flavour. This didn’t really wow me that much I’m sorry to say!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MRS B'S FIRST KISS
DESSERT: MRS B’S FIRST KISS
with organic banana lightly battered in shredded coconut and fried, palm sugar caramel, tapioca sauce, and rice puffs, served with passionfruit sorbet ($14.00)

I apologise in advance because I cannot comment on the flavour of this dish, and I will tell you why. So when the desserts arrived at the table, everyone went nuts for this dessert, as well as the one below because of their spectacular presentation. It was almost too beautiful to eat! So I got my pictures, and then I had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. I thought, okay I’ll go to the bathroom quickly since the other bloggers were still busy taking pictures of the desserts. Came back about 2 or 3 minutes later and this dish was completely demolished. Lesson of the night? Hold it in, no matter how urgent it is. It’s not worth it especially if dessert is concerned and you’re sharing one dish with about 12 other bloggers. I was so sad!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT
DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT
with IN ASIA’s crushed corn flakes, caramel popcorn, grilled sweet corn, and caramel jersey cream ($14.00)

Okay, at least there was a good quarter or so of this dessert left when I came back from nature’s calling. Thank goodness because this dessert was the absolute bomb. I loved the flavours and different textures that you got in each mouthful of the dessert, and I didn’t think that grilled corn would be such a great compliment to the overall dish. The presentation was on point as well. Well done In Asia for this dessert!

There were some ups and some downs with the dishes that we had over the night, but I can safely say that the positives overpowered the negatives greatly. There was really only one dish that was a let down for me, and the others that had minor issues based on just my personal opinion and palette is nothing major to say that it was a bad dish. I’d rate the food of the night a solid 9.5 out of 10; the food really blew me away and clearly the definition of modern (kind of, sort of fine dining) Asian cuisine. For me, it’s sort of somewhere in the middle like it’s not casual but not extreme fine dining either. Not only did the flavours and textures impress me, the presentation of some of the dishes, mainly the entrées and desserts, really blew me away. The service was great as well, though I wasn’t sure why it took quite possibly close to 30 to 45 minutes for the light menu (which were the tea smoked duck salad and the barbecued calamari salad) to come out to the table after entrées – I wasn’t complaining though because I had a pretty hefty entrée to begin with. I’d give the service an 8 or possibly 9 out of 10 anyway. Now, value for money – the dishes here are pretty pricey to be honest but I guess you can say that you actually do pay for what you’re getting. If you’ve got the money to spend, definitely spend it here, otherwise it’s not really a place you can just rock up to if you don’t have the money or for a casual dine.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar
181 Concord Road
North Strathfield, New South Wales
Australia, 2137

– Ally xx

Roast Pork Crackling with Kale & Quinoa Salad

Roast Pork Crackling with Kale & Quinoa Salad

Hello Everyone! Can’t believe that it’s already the end of June! How time flies by much too fast. I’ve got just about a month left here in Sydney and then it’s quite possibly goodbye for a while. I wish I could stay, I really do, but it’s time for me to move on…

Sorry for the late post; I just got back home from a rather late dinner out with Amrita and Kevin. We had French Galettes and Crêpes in Randwick at Four Frogs Crêperie, exchanged conversations and laughs, and got up to a little mischief on our walk home. Basically Kevin managed to command Amrita to get into a shopping trolley that we found on our walk and pushed her down the street for a good 10 minutes or so I guess. He gave her a pretty rough ride by letting go on some occasions and leaving her in the middle of the road which made it all the more funny, especially Amrita’s priceless facial reactions.

Kale & Quinoa Salad

Anyway, besides that, this morning/afternoon I was in the kitchen making a lovely Kale and Quinoa Salad to go with my Roast Pork Belly Cracking. The crackling was no doubt well cooked; juicy, tender meat with a crackle to die for, paired with a chilli, garlic, lemon, soy sauce dip that made it all the more enjoyable. Of course, all that delicious but fatty belly needed to be paired with a light and healthy salad. I’ve never actually cooked quinoa before, but I have had quinoa at cafés. While I was cooking it, I could smell something burning, and at first I thought it was the quinoa because I could’ve sworn the smell was coming from the pot, and then I remembered my almonds. My poor almonds we’re slightly over-tanned on one side as I forgot that they were roasting in the oven.

Roast Pork Crackling Ingredients

Kale & Quinoa Salad Ingredients

PREP TIME 24 HOURS* | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 3-4

*Includes time needed to set aside the pork belly in the fridge overnight to draw out extra moisture for a crispy crackling when roasted.

INGREDIENTS

For the pork belly crackling

  • 750g pork belly
  • 5-6 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more for rubbing
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Oil for rubbing

For the dipping sauce

  • 4 tbsp dark or light soy sauce
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, slices
  • 1 lemon wedge, juiced

For the kale & quinoa salad

  • 150g organic quinoa
  • 50g roasted almonds, unsalted
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into small chunks
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Ground salt and black pepper to season
  • Lemon juice

METHOD

  1. Pork Roast Prep: Score the skin with a very sharp knife. Place the meat in a large pot with water, salt, whole peppercorns, and bay leaves. Boil for about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the heat and drain, placing in a large bowl lined with a paper towel. Once the meat has cooled down, refrigerate uncovered for at least 24 hours. 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.
  2. Roast Pork Crackling: 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.
  3. Kale & Quinoa Salad: While the pork belly is roasting in the oven, blanch the chopped kale in hot salted water for about 4-5 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Add to a large serving bowl together with the roasted almonds and avocado chunks.
  4. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the quinoa in and cook for about 15 minutes. Once done, drain thoroughly and add to the serving bowl. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Dress with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and about 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Mix around until well combined. Top with feta cheese.
  5. Dipping sauce: Add all the ingredients together in a small bowl and mix well.
  6. Serve for the family and/or friends and enjoy!

Roast Pork Crackling with Kale & Quinoa Salad

Roast Pork Crackling with Kale & Quinoa Salad

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Paksiw na Lechon Kawali

Paksiw na Lechon Kawali

Hello everyone! This is another Filipino dish that I really love. I have a lot of favourite Filipino dishes actually, but there are some that I cannot bring myself to eat – I’m pretty sure they taste good, but a little bit off putting for me, and yes, I am talking about the infamous dinuguan (a savoury stew of meat and/or offal, simmered in a rich, spicy dark gravy of pig blood, garlic, chilli, and vinegar). I get the shivers every time I think about this dish. Anyway, enough about this dish for it’s thankfully not what today’s post will be about.

Lechon Kawali is basically a pan-roasted pork dish popular in the Philippines. It is usually accompanied by sarsa ni mang tomas (basically a sauce blend of liver, vinegar and spices that give that distinct sweet and spicy taste it is famous for), ketchup, or soy sauce with calamansi (Philippine lime). Lechon kawali is cooked by boiling then later deep frying a portion of the pig.

Lechon Paksiw is essentially a term associated to a dish that is cooked with vinegar, garlic, onion, and sarsa ni mang tomas sauce. It is a pork dish made from leftover roast pig which is known as Lechon. However, fresh pork can also be used to make lechon kawali. Traditionally, as mentioned above, the pork is deep fried. Because I don’t like deep frying stuff, I roasted the pork in the oven like I would do for pork crackling – the result I find is better, not oily and the meat remains tender and juicy on the inside where as deep frying has a tendency to make the meat tough and dry.

Paksiw na Lechon Kawali

PREP TIME (see below)* | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 20 MINS |
SERVES
4-6

*If you plan on making dish, plan for about 1-3 days ahead for resting time in the refrigerator.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1kg fresh pork belly or shoulder
  • 1 bottle (330g) mang tomas all purpose sauce
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 bird’s eye chillies
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup pork stock
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 6 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Ground salt
  • Oil for rubbing

METHOD

  1. Score the 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. Reserve the pork stock for cooking later. Once the meat has cooled down, refrigerate uncovered for at least 24 hours or for up to 3 days 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
  2. Preheat oven between 220-240C. 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 and roast for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 20 minutes. Then cut the pork into chunks.
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients into a large pot together with the pork belly chunks. Simmer for 20 minutes and then serve with steamed rice.

Paksiw na Lechon Kawali

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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