THAI RED CURRY BARRAMUNDI SOBA

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It’s a day before the time of the month, no fun at all. My body was roasting hot in the day even when the ceiling fan was on full blast. 😥This is because of the production of progesterone and manifestation of ordinary mood swings in hormonal levels.

Concurrently, my mind was bombarded with flashing thoughts, hypothetical scenarios, and complex emotions began to surface… Before I sank deeper into a rabbit of hole of uncertainties, I distracted myself by doing these 3 things:

1) Meditate for 10 minutes with my Headspace app

2) Listen to “Get well soon” by Ariana Grande from her sweetener album

3) Make a soulful Thai curry I learnt from my recent retreat in Phuket

Doing something slow, and therapeutic releases the tension, and the cramps. Of course, nothing is more comforting than making something tangible, warm and nourishing for myself to feel better!

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What do I eat before and during period?

Iron intake level up

  • Double up my iron intake first to compensate the amount blood I’ll be losing. Brace myself! The most absorbable sources of iron for me is fish (barramundi and salmon). On days I choose to go meatless, I incorporate leafy greens (spinach, kale, bak choy), legumes and soy (tofu and soy protein, soy milk). To boost the absorption rate, add Vitamin C. I pair my meals with a cup of water with a Vitamin C effervescent tablet or snack on citrus fruits!

    More vitamin B-12

  • Take one vitamin B-12 supplement a day to support the functioning in energy metabolism, DNA and red blood cells development. Vitamin B-12 is a vital nutrient that our body requires for essential functioning. Taking this supplement is key for vegetarians or vegans. Our bodies do not make vitamin B-12, we absorb it from animal foods (clams, tuna, eggs, yogurt, trout) or foods fortified with B-12 (fortified cereals, fortified nutritional yeast, fortified non-dairy milk). Similarly, on days I decide to opt for less meat, I drink soy milk with a high fat coffee every morning to meet the daily requirement.

    Choose better carbs (not the white ones)

  • It is impossible for me to live a day without carbs. Especially white rice and noodles that lead me to a dreadful food coma. During period, I stock up soba (buckwheat noodles), quinoa, green bean noodles as substitutes. Going for low GI products can still make us replete with its nutritional benefits.

    Use natural seasoning (no salt please)

  • I am practically a bloated balloon every morning, no matter how I try to suck it in 😭. Having salt-laden food like chips, fries, take-outs will only cause water retention and aggravate the already moody self. So I prepare my own meals, empower myself by putting food with less sodium into the system, and drink more water. Instead of a dash of salt, go for a teaspoon of miso or fresh herbs to flavour up!

With all the tips above, I have refined the Thai curry recipe I learnt and developed this “Thai Red Curry Barramundi Soba”.

The gentle, mild taste of Cone Bay Barramundi was very pleasant to cook for a low-maintenance curry. Very much similar to freshly caught wild fish, it lent saltwater sweetness to the curry, and remained incredibly firm even if you overcooked a little. Even though it did not exude a strong odour, I always sprinkle a dash of pink sea salt, and splash of sesame oil on raw fillets before cooking. Also, the fish is low in mercury levels, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats, thus being my second choice of fish after salmon.

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Every time I decide to make a spiced Asian meal and end up with tons of unused ingredients, I will be in a real quandary about whether to cook it again. But for this recipe, I was thrilled to purchase a Tom Yam Ingredient Set! Most of the essential ingredients for the curry are similar to Tom Yam, and the portion fits right for 2-4 servings, it really helps avoid food waste!

Typically, I prefer to pound the red curry ingredients for freshness, and the free therapy! Alternatively, I recommend buying a store-bought Thai red curry paste for the convenience. For the distinctive citrus fragrance, cut the crushed kaffir lime leaves in very thin strips so you can taste its lingering astringent flavour with the curry without having to throw them away!

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THAI RED CURRY BARRAMUNDI SOBA (serves 2)

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 200g Cone Bay Barramundi Fillet, Themeatclub

  • 2 large asparagus, sliced diagonally 

  • 50g enoki mushroom, cut off base

  • 50g brown shimeji mushroom, cut off base

  • 3 sweet baby corn, halved 

  • 4 lemongrass, chop away green part, use only the white base and pound them slightly using a pestle till the out layer splits open.

  • 4 fresh kaffir lime leaves, crushed, remove stem, cut thinly

  • 200ml UHT natural coconut cream

  • 160g Soba

  • A handful of chopped Thai coriander, for garnish 

Seasonings

  • 15g palm sugar, jaggery

  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil

  • 1 heaping tsp red miso, to taste

  • Pink sea salt

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Red Curry Paste (optional) 

  • 2 large dried chilli

  • 2 bird’s eye red chilli

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 2 thumbs fresh turmeric root

  • 1 medium shallot

  • 1 thumb galangal

*The Tom Yam Ingredient Set comes with: lemongrass, shallots, galangal, bird’s eye chills, kaffir lime leaves, and lime 

*Alternatively, you can use 1 tbsp store-bought Thai red curry paste, available in Cold Storage and FairPrice Xtra

Directions

  • Remove skin from Barramundi Fillet, and slice in large chunks (about 7 pieces). Season it with a pinch of salt and toasted sesame oil to eliminate the even the slightest fish smell. 

  • For all the curry ingredients, remove skin and cut them into small chunks except for the chillies. Use scissors to cut the chillies in small pieces. Avoid contact with the chilli seeds. Pound all the ingredients using the mortar and pestle till it forms a moist, bright orange paste. 

  • Boil 3 cups water in a small pot to blanch mushrooms, corn and asparagus for 1 minute. Drain water, and set the ingredients aside. 

  • Using the same pot, boil 1.5 litres water, cook soba for 3-4 minutes, it should be slightly undercooked. Drain and cool soba in a bowl of cold water. 

  • Pour oil into a pre-heated stock pot over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of curry paste and cook for 3 minutes till fragrant. Add another ½ tbsp of curry paste for extra spiciness.

  • Pour coconut cream and stir in with the paste continuously for 4 minutes. Add palm sugar, lemongrass and ½ portion of kaffir lime leaves, continue to stir for 3 minutes.

  • Turn the heat up, add 1 litre hot water and red miso paste into the mixture. Stir for 1 minute. When it is rolling boil, add barramundi chunks and cook for 3-5 minutes, till they turned opaque white. Taste, and add extra red miso till your desired taste.

  • Assemble soba, mushrooms, corn and asparagus in two deep plates. Ladle hot red curry and barramundi over. Garnish with remaining lime leaves and chopped coriander. 

Enjoy!Xx

-Ally


SUPER BASIC SEAFOOD PLATTER WITH EGGLESS MAYONNAISE

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Every time I reminisce about winter holidays, the first thing that came to my mind was the most basic, simple and fresh seafood platter at The Sign Of The Black Faced Sheep restaurant. What made it more indelible was having a girls day out with Teresa, my mum-to-be in two months time! We love the simplicity about the restaurant’s interpretation towards their seafood platter, using the natural sweetness of the freshly caught seafood by preparing them in less refined ways. We were regaled with excellent chilled, and smoked seafood on a bed of garden greens, a mayonnaise dip and a homemade bun to go with. Dishes that were artfully crafted this way leaves a deep impression anytime!

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Today I am going to share with you this “Super Basic Seafood Platter with Eggless Mayonnaise”. The King Salmon from Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand was delivered by the lovely folks from The Meat Club actually got me excited to recreate this platter I missed . fondly. This rustic meal comprises some of the biggest names of the “High-Fat Foods” family that may ring a bell with you! They are salmon, coconut oil, pine nuts and cashew nuts. With this harmony of good fats, they are incredibly nutritious for your hair, skin and nails.

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To begin, I sprinkled a wee bit of Himalayan pink sea salt on this orange, richly marbled wood roasted salmon and pan seared it with coconut oil over medium heat. Achieving a golden, crispy texture on the outside with an orange-pink undertone requires attention and patience- you need to keep a eye on the salmon and cook the corners evenly.

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Don’t waste any drop of the fragrant, orange oil. Once you’ve plated the salmon, pour the remaining oil into a dish for bread dipping!

Finally, THE EGGLESS MAYONNAISE! Using cashew nuts to replace eggs in this veggieboy-approved dressing recipe, both enriches it with extra fat and and a desired smooth consistency. Even the most straight forward, thrown-together dressing makes this seafood platter feel a lot more manageable to prepare for healthy quick meals.

There you go, a belly-filling, super basic seafood platter that pairs really well with a glass of sparkling lime water!

Tip

To test doneness of the salmon (even if they are golden on the exterior) use a toothpick and slide in gently. Touch it with your lips or your finger tips. If its warm, the salmon is almost done. If it’s still cool, give it another 4 minutes. You can also check the colour at both ends of the salmon for the doneness. 

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SUPER BASIC SEAFOOD PLATTER WITH EGGLESS MAYONNAISE (serves 1)

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 17 minutes

Ingredients

  • 200g King Salmon, Natural, Wood Smoked (The Meat Club)

  • 5 fresh grey prawns, deshell & devein

  • 50g salad greens 

  • 2 tbsp organic raw virgin coconut oil (Ceres Organics), also available in Cold Storage supermarket

  • 2 slices multiseed gluten-free bread (Swissbake) also available in Cold Storage supermarket

  • 1 tsp pine nuts (NuVitality)

  • 4 Spanish pitted queen green olives

  • Pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt

  • Pinch of cracked black pepper

  • ½ lemon, sliced

Dressing

  • 50g cashew kernels (Ceres Organics)

  • 3 tsp lemon juice

  • ½ tsp organic Dijon mustard

  • Pinch of cracked black pepper

  • 40ml water

Directions

  • Boil 3 cups water in a saucepan over medium high heat, gently lay prawns in and cook for 1 minute 30 seconds, till they turn bright red. Transfer to a bowl with a handful of ice cubes to chill. 

  • Heat a non-stick fry pan over medium high heat. Season salmon with a pinch of sea salt on both sides.

  • Add coconut oil on the pan, gently lay salmon skin side down. Cook for 3 minutes, until skin is crispy. Flip over to other side, turn down to medium heat, cook it for 8-10 minutes until fish is opaque all the way up. 

  • Transfer salmon to a plate and let it cool slightly. Pour remaining coconut oil into a small dish for bread dipping.

  • Add all dressing ingredients into a blender and blend till smooth and creamy. For a thinner consistency, add 1 tbsp each time and blend again till desired. 

  • Pour water away from the bowl of chilled prawns, season them with a pinch of black pepper.

  • Assemble salad greens, pan-seared salmon, chilled prawns, bread slices, dipping oil, lemon slices and olives, on a plate. Drizzle dressing over salmon and sprinkle pine nuts over. Squeeze lemon over chilled prawns and enjoy! 

With loads of love Xx

Ally

ENERGISING TURMERIC SHOT

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A golden turmeric shot a day, brings your bounce back to slay!

During my last wellness retreat at Amatara Wellness Resort situated in Phuket, it was an enlightening, and restorative one to remember. Having their crafted turmeric shot every morning before a morning yoga class not only awakes my palate, but also keeps me sharp and focus throughout the day.

I am inspired by Amatara’s strong concept of wellness cuisine, and how they embrace authentic healing foods for optimal nutrition. So once I returned home, I got into the habit of recreating this turmeric shot every morning for that burst of energy.

Curcumin is the main active compound in turmeric. It results to a golden-hue, which will instantly stained on anything it comes in contact. Be sure that you are not wearing your favourite nightgown or PJs, while preparing this extremely potent and sweet-earthy concoction. Scrubbing this stubborn stain away may not be the most positive task to kickstart your day.

Despite curcumin’s powerful anti-inflammatory effects, and its properties to improve digestion and memory, the content in turmeric is not high, around 3% by weight. To boost the absorption of curcumin, I sprinkled a pinch of black pepper to the turmeric shot composition before it is ready to blend.

This nourishing shot is an inexpensive, healing potion that I am hooked on. I hope you’ll give it a shot (pun intended) and let me know your thoughts!

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Tips

  • Designate a glass just for the turmeric shot. You’ll be reusing the stained glass every day anyway.

  • Use a small piece of kitchen paper to hold raw turmeric root while handling it at all times. This is to prevent having yellow fingertips and nails.

  • Rinse your mouth with mouthwash, brush your teeth, and scrap your tongue shortly after you take a shot.

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ENERGISING TURMERIC SHOT

Preparation time: 3 minutes

Juicing time: 2 minutes

Ingredients

- 1 thumb fresh turmeric root

- ½ thumb young ginger

- 200ml coconut water

- 1 tsp acacia honey

- 1 tsp lemon juice

- 1 tsp lime juice

- Pinch of cracked black pepper

- Pinch of cayenne pepper

- Pinch of ground turmeric powder (optional)


Directions

- Peel turmeric and ginger skin. Cut them into small chunks.

- Add all ingredients into a juice blender. For a more peppery, pungent kick, sprinkle an extra pinch of cayenne pepper. 

- Blend the mixture for 2 minutes. Serve between two glasses, and take the shot right away. 


Enjoy!Xx

-Ally

PUMPKIN SOUP WITH DRIED LILY BULBS| VEGAN BEAUTY SOUP

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This month, I'm rolling out a "Bless my hair, skin and nails" mini recipe series, starting with this pumpkin soup with dried lily bulbs. If you're on a mission to go meatless on Mondays, this one sweet pot of earthy soup will fit the bill!

Initiating this mini series is my call to action for a natural glow and better physical appearance, who doesn't want that? As we age, the condition of our hair, skin and nails are the most apparent components that reflect how hard we battle through a busy, stressful lifestyle every single day. With all that maintenance and moolah 💸💸💸from our visits to the hair salon, beautician and manicurist to be at tip-top version, (psst...I visit them when I'm feeling rich), the most essential and cost-effective method we can practice is through what we consume.

I was born with fine hair that bothers me every morning when I look into the mirror. My heart sank on a bad, and flatter hair day. When visiting the dentist is your nightmare, well for me is the hair stylist. Every time I visit a new hair salon, a harmless comment like "Why is your hair so fine, thin and dry? Did you do something crazy before?" affects me.

I am embarrassed 😳, and responded, "It is hereditary" with a dry laugh 😁.

I was actually crestfallen😔 Additionally, this imperfection of mine eats me when the media frames beauty standards of woman with thick, shiny and luscious hair I knew I will never own it. 

Until recent months, I was inspired by women of power and confidence, sharing about their imperfections and how they flourish with them. Their voices shape the way I look at myself now. This time, I scrutinise what I love about my features and my imperfections concurrently in front of the same mirror. I slowly learn to embrace who I am, value what my mama has given me and be unique in my own way. Since I am blessed with this amount of hair that I can blow dry them in a jiffy, I should hella cherish this hair supply with foods that boost the growth and condition. You make the best out of what you have, amirite?

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This Chinese pumpkin soup with dried lily bulbs has its purported cooling effect and was served for dinner four times in the month of July due to the immense heat. The soup is vegan, meat free and seasoning free. 

What is dried lily bulb (百合, bai he)?

Dried lily bulb are cleaned and sun dried from the fresh ones. They are part of the edible root vegetable family which are commonly used as herbal remedies, more highlighted in Traditional Chinese Medicine for making soups, stir fries, and desserts.

The light sweetness and cooling properties of the lily bulbs help to 

  • relieve sore throat

  • moisturise lungs

  • relieve heart burns

  • tranquillise the mind

  • relieve dry coughs. They are ineffective against wet coughs with phlegms.

  • promote better sleep at night, especially if you're experiencing insomnia

Veggiebeast and my family loved it! Therefore, meat is certainly not necessary to enhance the flavour when pumpkin, daikon and carrot and red dates did a splendid job!  Whilst preparing the soup, I prefer to chop them all in large chunks. They will reduced in size by a quarter over the cooking time. Having them chopped in bite sized pieces will lead them to crumble into odd shapes, especially for pumpkin. 

To prepare such Chinese herbal soups, it is advisable to own a linen filter soup bag for your convenience. With the soup bag to contain the herbs or spices, it saves the hassle to separate residue from the soup before serving.  

If you're planning a light dinner, this soup can feed you to your heart's content. Alternatively, I will recommend serving it with your choice of carbs in the soup, or as a side on a hungry day. For me, I love slurping these eggless pumpkin yee mee (noodles) with the soup. 

Let me know once you've tried this recipe! I'll love to see your version and you can tag me on Instagram @poutchow or #poutandchow. 

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PUMPKIN SOUP WITH DRIED LILY BULBS (serves 4)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 700g pumpkin

  • 500g daikon (white radish)

  • 60g medium sized carrot

  • 4 dried red dates

  • 3 tbsp dried lily buds (from Hock Hua Tonic)

  • 1 large yellow onion

  • 1 can button mushrooms (425g)

  • 3 tbsp whole white peppercorns

  • 4 Pumpkin Yee Mee Noodles Cake, (optional)

  • A handful of chopped fresh coriander for garnish, optional

Directions

  • Fill 20ml room temperature water into a bowl to soak dried red dates and dried lily bulbs for 5 minutes.

  • Scoop pumpkin seeds and fibres, and discard them. Next cut away pumpkin skin using a cleaver and cut them in large chunks.

  • Chop both ends of daikon and carrot. Peel skin off and chop them in thick circles, about 1.5cm thickness. Cut both ends of yellow onion, peel skin off and cut them in large wedges.

  • Fill whole white peppercorns in a linen cotton filter soup bag and tie a tight knot.

  • Boil 10 cups water in a deep sauce pan over medium high heat. Gently lay soup bag, soaked red dates and lily bulbs (without the water in the bowl), and vegetables at a low height to avoid water splashing. Cook for 45 minutes.

  • OPTIONAL STEP: While soup is boiling at 20 minute mark, remove pumpkin chunks if you prefer to eat them in whole before it dissolves into the soup. Cook the rest for another 25 minutes.

  • Wash canned button mushrooms and add them into soup. Put lid on and simmer at medium heat for 30 minutes.

  • Remove lid, use a chopstick to poke through daikon and carrot to check whether they have softened (not crumbly). Remove soup from heat.

  • In a separate pot, boil 1.2 litres water to cook pumpkin yee mee (noodles) for 2 minutes. Divide noodles between four bowls.

  • Ladle soup and vegetables over noodles, and garnish with fresh coriander.

Enjoy!Xx

-Ally