Month: January 2014

Slow Smoked Salmon

A Surprise Gem : Third Wave Cafe

Recently, I was invited by Third Wave to sample their menu.  Located at a discreet street parallel to Chapel Street, the newly set up restaurant in Prahran (in addition to their Port Melbourne cafe) is helmed by Ryo Kitahara, a protege of Iron Chef Sakai.  The restaurant gives a modern casual vibe and brightly litted by the windows. Their new dinner menu is extensive, ranging from American BBQ, slow cooked and smoked meats and fish to salads and sliders.  The slow cooked meats caught my eye and the description looks delicious.  I also noticed that the price was slightly on the high side with Medium and Large portions to choose from.  Slow-Smoked Lamb Shoulder $22 (Medium) Krusty Salmon $33 Slow-Smoked Salmon $22 (Medium) Glazed Mushrooms $9 I especially liked the Krusty Salmon coated with healthy quinoa and beautifully cooked with cauliflower and broccoli rice.  Texture of the salmon was smooth and perfect.  However, the price per plate was on a high side.  My hubby was delighted with the tender and full of flavour Lamb Shoulder …

Seared Scallops with Sweet Fish Sauce

Seared Scallops with Sweet Fish Sauce

Scallops o’ thick, juicy, fresh scallops.  In Melbourne, we’re blessed with the availability of big juicy scallops.  I think scallops are such delicious and sophisticated seafood which can be easily whipped out for a party or just for your family to enjoy within a short time and they’ll be impressed. Simple seared scallops with pepper and salt tastes as good. I’m not sure how many of you have this problem but the trouble with me was no matter how many times I’ve seared scallops, I just couldn’t figure out what the hell is wrong with my scallops. Was it my technique? My pan? My scallops? Or was the fire not right? My scallops will turn out extremely wet and there will be so much water in the pan.  It just won’t brown!  The outcome of my seared scallops were no where close to the restaurant’s.  That was so mind boggling! What have I done wrong?!?! After much googling, I figured the problem lies with my scallops – for being “wet-packed” which means they have been …

Chin Chin's Sweet Fish Sauce

Sweet Fish Sauce

Chin Chin’s Sweet Fish Sauce from Chin Chin the Book is a handy sauce to keep in the pantry. Basically, it’s all the “neat” ingredients that makes up THAT heavily Thai-accented flavouring in some or rather most of their dishes.  So, thanks to Benjamin Cooper, this is no secret anymore 🙂 There are many fish sauce brands in the market and each brand has a different level of saltiness and umami.  In the book, Chin Chin uses Megachef Premium Fish Sauce brand and I use Squid brand – a brand easily found in Coles or any Asian Grocer.  If you want to find out which commercial fish sauce brands to buy and their taste level, you can check out the Thai Fish Sauce Taste Test at SheSimmers. It’s a fantastic article and you get to learn all about fish sauce 🙂 Sweet Fish Sauce (adapted from Benjamin Cooper’s Chin Chin the Book)    Makes 1 1/2 cups Ingredients: 40-50g palm sugar, grated 1/4 cup water 2/3 cup fish sauce, adjust to preference and taste 1 stalk lemongrass (white …

Mango and salted peanut

Mango & Salted Coconut Pop with Crushed Peanut

Weather is still predictably warm.  So, before mango season leave us, I’d better make something good out of it.  I was browsing through the internet and this recipe from The Design Files caught my eye and tastebud.  As you know I love love love mangoes! I also found out that there’s an Artisan Popsicle empire in Sydney run by two talented sisters and is sweeping Sydney by storm!  So, what’s an artisan pop and who’d run a popsicle empire? Beats me. Upon googling more, this phenomenon was started by Adriano Zumbo’s apprentice and an Artisan Pop is simply a homemade, gourmet, fruity (using seasonal fruits) icy pole.  Got it? This is the 3rd instalment of my summer lovin’ Pop Series. Mango & Salted Coconut Popsicle with Crushed Peanut Topping (adapted from Liana Raine’s recipe in The Design Files) Serves 10 Ingredients: 350g mango flesh 350g sugar syrup (see recipe below) 150ml coconut cream 1 tbsp palm sugar, shaved 1/2 tsp salt crushed roasted peanut or roasted shredded coconut Ice Pop mold, to freeze Ice pop sticks …


R.A.W #4 – Cherries & Australia Day

Happy Australia Day everyone! To those of you who don’t know what an Australia Day is, it’s the official National Day of Australia.  During this day, we celebrate the many great works achieved by Australians around the world.  To some of us, this day means “Bring out the barby, mates!”  So, while you’re busy sizzling yummy Australian beef or lamb, don’t forget to finish off with some sweet and juicy Australian cherries. Australian cherries are found in abundance during summer from November through to February. Best enjoyed in many ways such as a lunchbox treat, quick snack at home or with friends in your summer picnic.  It’s also packed with a lot of antioxidants that brings huge nutritional values.  If you choose not to eat as a fruit, you can also process them into pies, cakes, jam or chutney etc. So, when you’re out celebrating Australia Day, don’t forget to pack some cherries and enjoy the summer moments!

Fettuccine with Mushroom & Bacon Sauce

Fettuccine with Mushroom and Bacon Sauce

Whenever I’m short on time or ideas to prepare lunch or dinner, I would just go with pasta.  The simpler pasta dishes are easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of prep and cook time.  This dish is one of the easiest and tastiest pasta dishes I have made other than Spag Bolognese, Mac n Cheese and it’s delicious.  The only regret that I have with this dish is that it’s not creamy enough.  So, I will definitely like to add more pouring cream to make it creamier and tastier next time! My lil’ one loves this dish so much that she not only finished her plate of pasta but ate half of my portion too 🙂  Talk about large appetite for a growing girl! Fettuccine with Mushroom and Bacon Sauce (adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly, Best-Ever Collection)  Serves 3 Ingredients: 250g fettuccine pasta 15g unsalted butter 3 rindless bacon slices, chopped to small squares 300g button mushrooms, sliced 2 cloves garlic, crushed 1 cup chicken stock 1 1/2 cups pouring cream Grated …


R.A.W #3 – Carrot & Mid-week Syndrome

It’s Wednesday and I’m experiencing a mid-week syndrome.  Wednesday – a day that is neither close to the coming weekend nor far from last.  But on a positive note, we will be celebrating Australia Day this weekend and that’s a good long weekend for us 🙂 I remembered when I was young, my mom used to feed me carrots and lots of carrots – she told me that carrots are good for my eyes.  That’s true – except that I was a not a very good girl because I like to read in bad lighting condition and that didn’t really help 🙂 Carrots can be eaten in multiple ways – I like mine roasted with red onion and a good spread of butter, olive oil and honey for sweet butter-ish after-roast caramelisation.  Then season with some thyme (love the smell of thyme) for that mild tangy flavour. So, do share, how do you like your carrots cooked?

Roast Pork

Home-made Chinese Roast Pork (Siu Yuk)

With Chinese New Year coming, I have been craving for Siu Yuk (in Cantonese) or Shau Rou (in Mandarin) or commonly known as Roast Pork.  This sinfully, delicious, easy-to-make roast pork has been one of my go-to comfort foods whenever I miss home.  It’s not just the sound of “roast” on pork but the “crackling” that is enough to make anyone’s mouth water. When choosing pork belly for this dish, I like a nice layer of fat in the middle – so, when I have that first memorable bite, I would love to chew into the crackling crunch, followed by the soft, juicy fat and tender meat. Roast pork is commonly eaten with Hainanese chicken rice, duck rice or wonton mee.  Normally I would reserve some out and stir fry with chinese broccoli (gai lan) or with spring onion, chillies and garlic which is equally sumptuous. Contrary to yesteryear’s belief, making roast pork at home is actually super easy – thanks to my beloved oven.  I would normally marinade the pork a day before so …


R.A.W #2 – Apple

An apple a day keeps the doctors away, but, without an Apple a day, photographers will be turned away! Geez, I’m just blabbering away – it’s a beautiful Saturday in Melbourne.  Temperature has dropped to a cooling 20’s after a week of high, unbearable 40’s.  Most of all, Bubbles (my furry poodle) was jumping for joy – we were unprepared during the week of heat and he suffered the most due to his fur – felt like wearing a fur coat during summer! My lil’ one loves apple.  I pack an apple a day into her lunch box every day.  As one of the most popular fruits in the planet, apples boast a lot of health benefits that is proven to reduce a host of illnesses.  It’s versatility has also promoted many ways of cooking apple – if not eaten fresh, it can be baked, spiced, sauced and juiced. So, enjoy an apple today and have a blessed Saturday everyone!

chicken dumpling

Chicken Dumplings with Vinegar Dressing

Any Melbournian will know Chin Chin, have been to Chin Chin and have eaten at Chin Chin.  I have dined numerous times at Chin Chin and absolutely loved their flavours.  So, when Benjamin Cooper (Executive Chef, Chin Chin) published Chin Chin the book.  I was very excited to get my hands on it – even got Benjamin’s autograph too! Unlike other cookbooks, Chin Chin the book features all current Chin Chin menu so you’re able to recreate them at your own home.  The bold, punchy Thai flavours that I fell in love with can now be enjoyed by my family and guests, cooked by moi 🙂  It’s also a cool book that shares a wonderful story about the rise of Chin Chin. Most of the their ingredients can be found at the local Asian Grocer.  If you don’t know where to buy, the book even tells you where to shop for Asian groceries in Melbourne and Sydney. For this recipe, I have cut down on the number of servings.  The dumplings are so flavoursome and …

Watermelon Mint Pop

Watermelon-Mint Popsicles

Say hello to summer, Melbourne.  45 degrees of heatwave this week is not a joke and it’s so hard to bear! I am melting – I would give anything to be in the freezer right now.  My popsicles are melting too – notice the melting ice in the picture? LOL.  It was really hard to photograph ice pop in this weather but speed counts. As promised, here’s another new recipe to enjoy this week.  You can get my first recipe Ribena Longan Popsicles here.  Popsicles bring back sweet memories of my child hood in Malaysia, the weather is so hot that I would wait for Mr Ice Cream on bicycle with funny bell.  With just 10cents on hand, I can buy a cordial popsicle to enjoy. Popsicles are wonderful treat for the whole family and perfect for adults and children of all ages.  Try it, I’m sure you’ll like it.  For no apparent reason, watermelon and mint combination is a match made in heaven. Watermelon-Mint Popsicles Serves 6 Ingredients: 5 cups diced watermelon (make sure it’s in-season …

Bok Choy RAW

Introducing R.A.W – A Photography Project

Some of you might have recalled of my personal interest and obsession with food photography last year and guess what, it still is this year.   Yes I am serious about this and for once, I am staying true to my New Year Resolution.  At that time, I recalled as Playing with Food Photography series.  So, after a few months, my interest has evolved a little more and Playing with Food is now R.A.W R.A.W is all about photographing food uncooked and at their most natural state.  Not only that, it sounds better too 🙂  Through photography, I hope to create something artful and beautiful with food and improving my skills at the same time.  I will account my progress, journey and learning through this blog and Flickr. My first attempt … #1 – Bok Choy I love bok choy.  It is one of the easiest, most versatile vegetable to cook and most readily available in any markets throughout the year.  Bok choy can be steamed, stir-fried, blanched or boiled. Anything is possible.  Bok choy comes in baby size …

Nam Jim Dressing Pound

Nam Jim Dressing

Nam Jim dressing is one of the many classic Thai dressing that comes in handy.  Just like any Thai dishes, balance of flavours is extremely important – the hot, sour, sweet and salty.  This dressing goes well with any salad or grill meat, fish or seafood.  You can adjust the ingredients to taste and if you don’t want it too hot, remove the seeds from the chilli or substitute with red chilli. If you plan to make more, store the remaining in a covered jar and keep them refrigerated for up to 3 days.  Discard after that. Nam Jim Dressing (adapted from Billy Law’s Have You Eaten cookbook) Ingredients: 2 bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped 2 shallots, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 tbsp coriander root & stem, finely chopped 2 tbsp palm sugar, grated 2 tbsp fish sauce, to taste 1/2 lime juice Method: 1. Gently pound the chillies, shallots, garlic and coriander to bruise them.  Be careful not to turn them into a paste.  Transfer to a bowl. 2. Add the …

Luna Park merry go round

Of Luna Park & My Favourite Things

Time really flies.  I’m not sure why – perhaps it’s just the way we spent them.  I like to spend Sundays just winding down the tempo and do fun stuff or do nothing at all.  So, as part of our promise to lil’ one, we brought her to Luna Park and we spent a good half day just doing fun stuff and next half of the day, doing nothing at all…well…almost. I, on the other hand was mulling over some of my favourite stuff which are inspirational and interesting.  So, here they are – 36 Homemade Popsicle recipes to try this summer Inspirational account of life with beautiful photography here Backdrop, backdrop and backdrop In love with moody low-key photography Gawking at the props and styling For the freshest, cheapest fruit & vegetables, buy them in-season and try the recipes here The good, the bad and the ugly that cracks me up Singing to the tune of Let it Go – totally addictive Well, that’s it…have a yet another Happy Sunday!  

Ribena Longan Popsicles

Ribena Longan Popsicles

Yesterday, I received my new Norpro popsicle mold from Amazon. YAY! So excited that I’ve declared a month long of Pops! Yes, It’s gonna be so fun experimenting with the many Pop recipes this month long of hot summer and even more excited to share them with you.  Besides just plain cordial, you can also blend your favourite fruits and veggies (or add a little alcohol for that summer punch), pour them in and freeze.  Bet your kids will love it. To kick off the Pop Series this summer, I give you the easiest recipe to make, Ribena Longan Pop 🙂 Make this really fun together with your lil one by getting them to help out. But why Ribena and Longan?  Well, apart from the fact that they are good combination and the pretty purple colour, I already have these in my pantry.  The result ? Icy, cooling, sweet Ribena Longan Pops, best enjoyed during this hot summer.  If you want to fizz it up a little, you can add some sparkling water. So, get …

A Turkish Sensation & Belly Dancing : Koy

Before we came to Koy, we know little about Turkish cuisine but were curious to find out.  All we know are Turkish dips, Turkish bread and Turkish coffee.  So, when I saw the value offering for a 7-course meal, I was very excited to experience it. Koy is located just outside of South Melbourne market.  Don’t be fooled by the name “Koy” because while it sound the same, it doesn’t mean Japanese carp 🙂  This restaurant spells Modern Turkish all across the interiors and decor.  The service was also very attentive and friendly. Before long, our first course came.  I couldn’t remember what is the name of this dish but the dip was very very tasty.  Sun-dried tomatoes was added for that wonderful texture. Traditional ‘Cacik’ dip of cucumber and yoghurt topped with olives, served with bread Turkish dips are delicious and turkish breads are light and fluffy.  Perfect companion to each other! We also thoroughly enjoyed the aromatic Cypriot Salad served with roasted cauliflower and sweet currant and pomegranate dressing.  Similarly the next dish, Turkish spring roll …

Japanese Fried Chicken Karaage

Crispy Crunchy Japanese Triple-Fried Chicken (Kara age)

I love fried chicken.  My lil’ one loves fried chicken.  My hubby loves fried chicken.  Everyone loves fried chicken.  Adam Liaw’s recipe of Japanese Triple-Fried Chicken from Asian After Work was tried, tested and stamped with lots of approval.  It’s triple-fried, for god’s sake and it’s unbelievably delicious with that light crispy skin and moist tender meat. Kara age is one of my favourite Japanese food and apart from sushi and sashimi, probably one of the most ordered dish in any Japanese restaurant.  To achieve that light crisp texture is not easy and I’ve tried many recipes that didn’t result in the same bite and texture.  Thanks to the winning formula of Adam’s recipe 🙂 , I manage to achieve that.  Oh, by the way, I made this recipe twice – once I experimented with corn flour and the next with potato flour.  The texture is definitely different and I prefer the potato flour as it yield a much lighter and crisp texture compare to the corn flour. Try it.  I’m sure your family and …

Pork Bibimbap (Cold)

Feeling Hot Hot Hot : Tarng

Tarng is located on A’Beckett Street, just a short walking distance from Victoria Market and RMIT. The sunflower against black interior caught my eye the moment I stepped through the door – makes me feel cheerful.  Don’t you just love the sunflowers? We came to Tarng with a group social voucher to try their hot pots.  Luckily the weather was on our side and gave us a nice cool day to enjoy them.  Basically, Tarng is a no frills restaurant that serves quick and fast Korean eats, particularly popular with hot pots. Chicken Drumettes Our first course was a plate of marinated Chicken Drumettes sprinkled with black and white sesame.  Very finger lickin good. Bulgogi Tarng (hot pot) Tarng also served one of the best and most value for money hot pots ever! We ordered the Bulgogi Tarng which was an absolute delight and may I say that the broth was addictively sweet, wholesome (contains a good mix of vegetable, tofu, potato noodle and beef slices) and came in generous portion for two persons. Pork …

Pandanus and Coconut Jelly with Coconut Crumbs and Longan

Refreshing Pandanus and Coconut Jelly with Coconut Crumbs and Longan

It’s a beautiful warm Sunday today and we desperately needed something to cool our tongues down. This recipe from the cookbook The Road to QV: The Red Spice Road Story caught my eye not just because it’s a good looking dessert but I have always loved the combine tastes of pandanus and coconut. We are quite blessed in Melbourne because most Asian ingredients are readily available at Asian Grocers like the pandan leaves. While making this dessert, I had a challenge understanding the measurements of gelatine leaves compare to gelatine powder and agar agar.  The original recipe in the book cites gelatine leaves but it is not as readily available in the stores as gelatine powder.  So i had to replace with gelatine powder and I found this great resource that clearly explains the measurements about the different kinds of gelatine. Pandanus and Coconut Jelly with Coconut Crumbs and Longan (adapted from The Road to QV: The Red Spice Road Story cookbook) Serves 4 Ingredients: Fresh longan or canned longan, to serve (Pandanus Jelly) 12 …

Top Paddock good coffee

Brunching with Good Appetite : Top Paddock

It was Christmas Eve.  Weather was perfect. I had some friends in town.  We were looking for a nice place to brunch, chat without the rush and gush.  Hmmm….It’s not that hard thinking of where to bring them to – this place has a nice environment, reasonably priced menu and attentive service.   So, yes, we ended up at Top Paddock in Richmond. Top Paddock offers all day dining in al fresco style or in a bright, open dining room that houses a communal table, seating by the bar as well as normal table seating. If you have a large dining crowd, you can make reservations with the restaurant. Coffee ordering comes naturally when we’re brunching and I had to say that their coffee is good. Kid’s Breakfast: Egg & Bacon on Toast $7 Pan fried local Snapper with a Chilli-fried egg, avocado, tomato, lime and corn tortilla $19 Their extensive menu lists range of delightful light breakfast dishes to heavier brunch meal. Speaking of the dishes – some of the combination sound really delicious like the …