PAN-SEARED SCALLOPS WITH FLAVOURED BUTTER & GREENS

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Hello everyone! As the feasting season embarks, what can be effortless, enticing, and succulent to serve for sharing? For me, it will be some golden seared scallops, with crispy corners laid on a bed of steamy greens with flavoured wine butter.

Today’s recipe is inspired by Donna Hay’s variations of flavoured butter from last year’s Christmas issue. What is flavoured butter? Basically, it’s an assemble of herbs, dried fruits, and nuts of your choice, mixed together with soft grass fed butter, and rolled into a huge Tootsie Roll to freeze. Then, cut a few slices and let them liquefy on your lightly seasoned roasts, blanched foods just before serving. Convenient and easy!

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For my version, I've chopped up dried cranberries, pistachios and fresh dill for the Christmas colours, grated a substantial amount of orange zest and finished with a splash of Sauvignon Blanc from TTG wines for the bonus citrus flavour.

As for scallops, gosh, they are so meaty and luxuriously tender, yet easy to overcook for the first time.

Before we start cooking, there are two types of scallops, wet and dry scallops.

Wet scallops aka “soaked” scallops are generally whiter in colour. They are soaked in a bath of phosphate to gain water-weight after absorption. What you purchased are “swelled” scallops. Once they are cooked, the absorbed water evaporates and they shrivel. Also, bear in mind that they take longer to caramelise and less sweet than their dry counterparts. However, if you’re a little price conscious and not too concern about the size of the scallops, wet scallops still works fine! Fyi, I am using wet scallops in this recipe simply because it is for sharing, and flavoured butter improves the taste to be naturally balanced.

Dry scallops are off white, leaning towards “vanilla” shade, as they are not soaked in phosphate. In fact, they are the natural, and superior scallops that caramelises gorgeously. Of course, they are slightly on the pricey end.

The key to treat scallops right is to pat them dry on kitchen towel, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and use kitchen tongs to lay them swiftly on a pool of shimmering olive oil. Don’t get too excited and hasty to flip them. Leave them untouched to sear, swivel a little for even browning then gently flip them only once. Cook the other side about half the time required on the first side to preserve their tenderness.

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While searing the scallops, blanch french beans and peas concurrently. Just before both are ready to remove from heat, unwrap flavoured butter, chop a desired amount first and store the rest. Drain and plate the greens on a platter, and stack the crispy, browned scallops and flavoured butter alongside.

You’ve got to be quick for this final step for the liquid gold moment to happen!

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Finally pair this delicious, buttery seafood main course with the aforementioned white wine. It’s herbaceous taste profile melded with exotic fruit notes is surprisingly soothing to wash down the richness in one mouthful.

An absolute woman’s pleaser I must say!

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Additional notes:

  • Before flavoured butter at least 2 hours ahead of cooking, I prefer to prepare them a night before.

  • Store and freeze flavoured butter for up to 2 weeks

  • Once scallops are thawed, pour thawed water and use scallops immediately. Do not leave them out in room temperature.

Leave your comments down below if you have any questions regarding the recipe!

PAN-SEARED SCALLOPS WITH FLAVOURED BUTTER & GREENS

(Serves 3)

Preparation time: 5 min

Time: 10 min

INGREDIENTS

(FLAVOURED BUTTER)

  • 1 tbsp Sauvignon Blanc (Walnut Block, TTG wines)

  • 227g unsalted grass fed butter (Kerrygold)

  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries, roughly chopped

  • 2 tbsp pistachios, roughly chopped

  • ½ tsp orange zest

  • 2 tsp fresh dill, roughly chopped

  • Pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt, to taste


(SCALLOPS AND GREENS)

  • 10 frozen Canadian sea scallops, thawed

  • ½ cup frozen garden peas, thawed

  • 250g French beans

  • 3 fresh pink radishes, sliced

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tbsp pistachios, roughly chopped

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

KITCHEN ACCESSORIES

  • 15cm x 25cm aluminium foil

  • 4 pcs kitchen towel

  • Kitchen tongs

DIRECTIONS

  1. Leave out unsalted butter in a mixing bowl for 5 minutes till it softens. Add all flavoured butter ingredients into the bowl, and mix thoroughly till they are combined. Taste, and sprinkle more salt till desired. 

  2. Lay butter mixture on the edge of the aluminium foil sheet closest to you. Gently pull away the edge of the sheet from work surface and roll over the filling. Tuck the filling tight, twist both ends to secure it. Put in the freezer at least 2 hours before slicing the amount you need every time. 

  3. Divide and lay thawed scallops on two kitchen towels, take another two pieces to pat dry completely. Season lightly with salt and black pepper on both sides.

  4. Heat olive oil on a large skillet over medium high (induction hob heat 7) until it shimmers. Lay scallops, flat side down with spaces in between quickly. Avoid overcrowding, work in two batches if necessary. Without flipping, Swivel and move around scallops for even browning. in pan Cook scallops for 4 minutes until a golden brown crust forms on the bottom. Flip over and cook for another 2 minutes until flesh turns faintly solid white, and forms white strips. Transfer scallops to a plate. 

  5. While pan-searing scallops, boil 1 litre water in a medium sauce pot over medium high. Blanch garden peas and French beans for 3-4 minutes till they turn bright green. Drain and plate them on a platter. 

  6. Cut two slices of flavoured butter, about 1.5cm wide and lay them on the greens. Stack pan-seared scallops and radishes over greens. Sprinkle pistachios, serve and pair with a bottle of Walnut Block Sauvignon Blanc.

Enjoy!Xx

-Ally

8 TIPS & TRICKS TO NAIL YOUR HOLIDAY GATHERING | RECIPE + GIVEAWAY!

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Hello December! This long-awaited holiday season is finally here. Time flies, and I am getting hitched in just a few days! You may call me Mrs Alicia Chow Kirwan by 10 December.*squeals*

Putting personal news announcement aside, this month is dedicated to spending quality time with enviable companies over bountiful of festive dishes. One of the best parts I remembered was hosting my family to the place where Ryan and I lived last year. It was a stressful experience being a host for the first time. In all honesty, I was slightly overwhelmed by my overachiever self. There were unforeseen challenges in planning a gathering that led me running around like a headless chicken last year. I could still feel that self-inflicted pressure and my heart palpitating wildly when I served just in time for my family.

By this point, I bethought to myself of my mistakes, and refined them by putting together “8 tips & tricks to nail your holiday gathering’’! It is a simple guide for you to refrain from my pitfalls, be organised and efficacious.

Download this FREE GUIDE here, if you’re considering to host your first holiday gathering, and still figuring out where to start.

This is a summarised version for you to print out and refer to anytime in an old fashioned way (instead of checking on your phone all the time).

I am a huge believer in taking achievable baby steps. The crux of planning a gathering is to be realistic with how much you can handle in terms the space, budget, and time. Once you’ve sorted that out, you can proceed to this ultimate guide below:

8 TIPS & TRICKS TO NAIL YOUR HOLIDAY GATHERING

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  1. Consider the scale

  • The space in your house plays a determining role in the scale of your gathering. Are you thinking of an intimate dinner with a closed group of friends, or a massive party? The scale adds to your stress level. Remember, you want to enjoy the process of planning your gathering for not just one time. A comfortable number of guests will be between 4-6 pax for a good start. In this post, I’ve prepared for 4 pax including Ryan and I.

2. Colours set the mood

  • Colours set the mood and vibes of your gathering. Be it warm and rustic or cool and minimalistic, choose a scheme from the Pinterest universe that matches your home interior. Once you are set, it makes buying decisions for your table styling much easier and efficient later.

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3. Plates are essential

  • Plates are the canvases to our home cook masterpieces, especially the ceramic ones. They play a long supporting role to our food stories over several occasions which we will reminisce and retell in future. So scrap the idea of using disposable plastic plates and utensils for temporary convenience. We are hopping onto the sustainability train to reduce waste and our carbon footprints this holiday. So where do we start? For myself, I invested a lean set of Luzerne’s tableware for four last year. You may call it my starter kit.

  • What affirmed my buying decision were two key aspects of sustainability this home-grown brand commits to; the environment and a long product lifetime.

    • The environment: Luzerne complies to global green initiatives to reduce carbon emissions by employing smarter manufacturing practices, and utilising more energy-efficient and environmentally- friendly materials.

    • Product lifetime: Luzerne’s tablewares are made from refined quality of Kaolin clay that contains no animal bone ash to resemble bone china. A sturdy touch displays it’s stronger quality than bone china, and its lasting craftsmanship promises excellence in heat resistance and chip resistance at extreme temperatures. Such conditions consist of freezer, microwave, oven and dishwasher. This means that their products will not crack even when removed from the oven (180°C) and remained shine resilient for 5 years, with proper care and handling.

  • As for the price, they are actually not expensive when you’re paying for the intangibilities— supporting efforts of tackling climate change, religious concerns, animal welfare, safety and optimal hygiene as the plates are non-porous and do not absorb stubborn stains, grease, odours and bacteria. To throw the raddest gathering, you don’t need a ton of them of tableware. What you need are primarily the individual plates for the number of mouths to feed, and two to three communal plates for a good start.

  • If you’re a fellow Miss/Mr Practical like me, you would gravitate towards white plates for their practicality and versatility to match most colour schemes, special occasions or, even better, every day use! But wait, let’s go beyond some boundaries by selecting diverse textured or patterned white plates instead. After all, our homes are designed to be casual and tranquilise, solid white plates embody a rigid, and formal setting like in a hotel or fine dining restaurant. This is not what we are aiming for an intimate gathering. Also, the choice of a neutral palette creates a brilliant contrast with the foods plated on them, highlighting their textures, colours, and depth.

  • In this post, I’ve handpicked individual show plates and sharing platters from the Marble, Knit, and Urban collection to correspond with my minimalistic approach.

    • Individual plates: To achieve a soothing pleasure to the eyes, I picked a 16.5cm Round Couple Plate from the Urban Collection in Grey Web as show plate and layered with a 21 cm plate in Matt White from the Knit Collection.

    • Communal plates: If you’re looking for a “one size fits all” type of tableware, go for the 26cm Bowl from the Marble Collection. The bowl‘s unique structure caught my attention, it was love at first sight. Despite the shallow depth and wide circumference, it is unexpectedly appropriate and acceptable to serve stews, pasta, salads, roasts and chips!

    • Cup & Saucer: Holding a mug of steaming mulled wine in a cooling home enhances the Christmas atmosphere. My ideal taste of a home-brewed mulled wine has to be refrigerated for at least a night from the day of brewing and reheated before serving. Pouring the mulled wine into 170ml Cup & Saucer from the Marble Collection, followed by reheating them in a microwave ovens is a safe and convenient solution for me, as opposed to glassware.

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4. Sharing is caring

  • Food tastes better when they are shared. For a intimate gathering, having guests to help themselves and pass around communal plates are primal and authentic acts of togetherness. Also, platters make your food looks good and presentable. 1 cheeseboard, 1 main, 2 sides, and 1 dessert should suffice for 6 pax. Don’t forget your wine and spirits to pair along.

5. Be a smart superwoman

  • If you’re preparing everything by yourself, time management is key. Learn about the dietary requirements from your guests first. Select recipes that you can cook without an oven because some of us don’t own one:/ Pre-cut some ingredients a night before to cut down preparation time on the next day.

  • Don’t feel embarrassed to purchase store-bought sauce for pasta or salad dressing. You’ve got to serve maybe 6 hard-to-please guests on time. You don’t have to make them hangry just because the idea of making everything from scratch is romantic.

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6. Set only what you’ll use

  • Think about washing the dishes. Don’t set extra cutlery, plates and glassware, just because they look pretty. You will ended up confusing your guests. Only put necessary things on the table that will be used throughout. Set forks on the left, while spoons, knives and glassware on the right. Spend less time washing and more time chit-chatting with your guests.

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7. Less is more

  • Mealtimes aren’t supposed to overwhelm everyone with clutter on the table. We are no playing Candy Crush here to clear the table. Avoid adding more wine bottles if your table can’t handle them. Everybody needs space to dine and relax. Put a trolley by the table, stack your stash of spirits, and ice buckets.

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8. All about the details

  • Keep your flower centrepiece small to maintain eye contact with the person opposite, or you can set it aside on the table. If you’re feeling crafty, place a small gift and a handwritten card for your guests to take home. Intricacy gives you more brownie points for a host.

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Before I end this post, here’s a recipe of Poached Salmon Gift boxes with Orange and Rose Wine! For extra festive vibes, these salmon are wrapped into little gift boxes, and soaked in a herbaceous, umami bath. Level up! Within 20 minutes, you can serve your guests with sturdy, rosy pink salmon confidently without the fear that they crumble.

Thank you Luzerne for sponsoring this post and be part of my annual humble holiday gathering planning. Before I forget, we will be giving out a Luzerne matching set of tableware for a family of 2! Check out my instagram page @poutandchow for all the details to win!

POACHED SALMON GIFT BOXES WITH ORANGE AND ROSE WINE

(Serves 6)

Preparation time: 10 min

Cooking time: 18 min

INGREDIENTS

  • 710g fresh salmon, sliced into 10cm chunks

  • 250ml rose wine

  • 300ml organic white miso broth (1 heaping tsp miso paste dissolve in hot water)

  • 2 star anise

  • 3 small oranges, sliced

  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 6 fresh chives

  • 2 pink radishes, sliced

  • Roast garlic and Cornish sea salt 

  • 1 tbsp pink peppercorns

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine wine, miso broth, orange, 1 sprig thyme, star anise and pink peppercorns in a wide 28cm frying pan. Bring it to simmer over medium high heat. Add chives into cooking liquid to cook for 1 minute until just softened. Take them out and set aside while cooking liquid is still simmering.

  2. Season and rub both sides of salmon chunks with sea salt. Take a salmon and lay on one piece of chive. Take both ends of the chive and tie a ribbon over salmon. Repeat for the rest of the salmon chunks.

  3. Gently slide salmon chunks into cooking liquid and poach until flesh turn rosy pink, for 17 minutes over medium heat. When poaching at the 12 minute, scoop cooking liquid over the surfaces of salmon for them to fully absorb the flavours. 

  4. Cut the remaining thyme in 6 pieces. Gently slot radish slice and thyme to each salmon gift box. Lay orange slices at the base of the platter bowl, use a kitchen tong to place salmon gift boxes on top. Ladle cooking liquid over and serve.


Happy Holidays!Xx

-Ally

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)

GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE

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)

GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE

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

THAI GREEN CURRY QUINOA

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I miss penning down my thoughts in this safe haven...It is utterly strange because I am never a good writer, I write in simple sentences, nothing fanciful, and I can express myself in Chinese actually. My negligence of this space for the past two months led me to realise that no matter how anxious I felt before writing the past posts, I miss the tranquility in the study room, trying to make sense in writing my encounters, all by myself, and swaying along with hiphop & jazzhop playlists on Youtube. 

So what have I been doing?

1. I took some time off to watch widely on Youtube/Netflix be it food, cartoon (Bojack Horseman) or fashion vlogs for inspiration

2. Practicing active listening from videos, and people around me

3. Getting geeky with veggieboy almost every weekend when we play Trine on PS4

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With all these stuff going on, the kitchen was still in a mess with Thai spices. *Sneeze sneeze* Lately, I'm hooked in Green Curry. I mean this green giant tastes as fierce as hulk when my friend Pear delivered one portion for me at work. Indulging this curry hand made by a Thai was a sheer bliss! Hence, I started reading up different versions of green curry and stocked up the fridge with tons of shallots, lemon grass, limes, ginger etc. Almost every weekend, the kitchen transformed into a laboratory. There were failures where, I dropped a few tears, and ended up with a blocked nose when the green curry paste written in some recipes were awfully spicy. 

So after four attempts over four weekends, poor veggieboy frowned at me when I cradled a bowl of green curry with glowing excitement in my eyes. 

"Try please...." I said. 

Being his ever supportive self, he took a mouthful of Green Curry Quinoa and nodded and pouted. 

AH, FINALLY!

So...I am going to share this recipe with a video this time! To minimise food waste, I managed to purchase Tom Yam mix pack at the local supermarket instead of buying the ingredients separately. It includes the essential ingredients (bird's eye chillis, shallots, limes, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lemongrass and coriander) which are sufficient to whip up a Thai dish for two to three servings. Additionally, I bought coriander and sweet basil leaves to complete the ingredient check list for the curry. This has saved me from scratching my head for a gazillion ideas to use up the spices.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the least spicy to 10 being the most spicy, this green curry is rated at a comfortable 5. One tip to lessen the spice is to remove the chilli seeds from the bird eye's green chilli, add more coconut cream/milk and let it simmer longer.  

Well, if you are also starting to remove white rice or wheat from your diet, try quinoa (keen wah) as a substitute! Definitely a great source of protein, and high in fibre. In this recipe, I did not rinse the organic quinoa before boiling because I like the earthy, nutty flavour it integrates with the curry. Also, the unwashed quinoa will have a firmer texture which resembles grains. 

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Time: 35 minutes (including preparation)

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

Green Curry Paste

  • 5 shallots, diced
  • Juice of  ½  lime
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ cup coconut cream
  • ½ bulb garlic, chopped
  • ½ tsp ground coriander 
  • 1 bird’s eye green chilli, sliced
  • 1 thumb size blue ginger, sliced 
  • 1 thumb size young ginger, sliced
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, remove base, grate only the white part
  • ½  cup coriander (approximately 5 sprigs), remove the roots and chop them up

*Alternatively you can buy a Tom Yam Mix packet as I mentioned above, and look for the balance ingredients separately.

Green Curry

  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • ¾ cup coconut cream
  • 6 glass prawns
  • 3 baby brinjal, sliced
  • 4 white button mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup broccolini, chopped, separate stems and florets
  • 6 lime leaves, remove stalk and tear the leaves in pieces
  • A handful of sweet basil leaves

To serve

  • Lime wedge, coriander and sweet basil leaves

Directions

  • Pour quinoa and 2 cups of water into the sauce pot over medium heat. Stir for 1 minute to let water evaporate. Let it boil for 15 minutes, and remove foam-like coat on quinoa surface (saponins). This will remove the bitter flavour. Strain quinoa and set aside to cool.
  • In a food chopper/processor, add all green curry paste ingredients. Blend to a paste and set aside.
  • In the same sauce pot, add coconut oil over medium high heat, then add reserved green curry paste. Stir it swiftly for 30 seconds to release the spice fragrance. Slowly pour coconut cream and stir the paste constantly until it forms a fresh green mixture. 
  • Add mushrooms, eggplants, stems of broccolini into mixture. Stir to incorporate. Lower heat to medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes. 
  • Add lime leaves, broccolini florets and prawns, scoop cooked ingredients over so that florets and prawns are cooking at the base. Let it simmer for 6 minutes. 
  • Sprinkle sweet basil leaves on green curry, and stir briefly for 10 seconds. Turn off heat immediately.
  • Portion quinoa into two to three plates, and top each portion with green curry, a lime wedge, coriander and sweet basil leaves. 

Enjoy!Xx

- Ally

 

 

DRUNKEN PRAWNS JAPCHAE

Holaaa~ I've got two adorable and lovely guests from Oh!eaf over the poutandchow's crib two Saturdays back for our first collaboration: Lunch For One. 

So how do this collaboration come to flourish? I simply believe that it's all about fate (缘分). This anecdote goes all the way back in May, when I attended an event called "Green Is The New Black". I was strolling along the marketplace filled with independent designer brands and spotted a row of minimalistic, intricate and fine pieces of ceramic wares at a booth. I approached these two young designers and chatted quite a fair bit about how I love their creations and matches the imageries of my food styling direction. For all you know, the ceramic spoons I used in the last few posts were all their visions. 

Later on, we met again and chatted over coffee, and guess what... jeng jeng jeng...

WE ARE NEIGHBOURS! 

They just moved into the opposite block where my parents live. That's pure coincidence. Through our long coffee talks at Starbucks, I was inspired by their humble devotion to learning, practicing, and adventuring to collaborate with like-minded young makers stationed in ceramic towns so as to preserve this beautiful art in a contemporary approach. 

As I very much love to keep things pretty, functional and crafty in my daily life, Oh!eaf is very kind and keen to sponsor their handmade pieces for a series of single serving meals that I will sharing in the upcoming months!

Since summer is here, I want my lunch to be vibrant, colourful, and light to match the vibes. Japchae (Korean red potato noodles) is quite a recent addition to the noodles aisle in the supermarket, and I decided this fry it up with some thick, shiny, fresh grey prawns. 

Japchae or chap chae, is Korean sweet potato glass noodle, it is a signature Korean stir-fry dish that is commonly paired with vegetables in strips, sometimes with beef or squid added. The glossy appearance of Japchae has its unique chewy and slippery texture which makes it the distant relative of thick rice noodles (粗米粉)due to their similarity in thickness, and they slip off really easily if your chopsticks skill is not at an expert level. 

To enhance its nutritious value of being low in calorie and fat count, I've added two superfood powerhouses; leek and turmeric. Leek is an underrated health food which also has very much to offer like how its allium vegetables (garlic, onion) counterparts contain notable benefits fighting against diseases including cancer. Allicin provides an abundance of important attributes to the body, such as anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal activities, and reducing cholesterol by impeding harmful enzymes in liver cells. What I love about leek is when it softens over low heat in stews or soups, it becomes a natural sweetener. Why do we even need sugar now?

On the other hand, turmeric is already an uprising star. It's a great herbal remedy for healing wounds with its anti-inflammatory, antioxidants properties. You can mostly spot them in curries and sauces in North Indian cuisines.

By the way, just give you a heads up; protect your finger tips with a disposable glove or cloth while handling turmeric. As you can see my yellow fingers in the photos, I did not paint my nails yellow for summer, it was my negligence for not wearing gloves and I totally underestimated how rebellious turmeric stain can be.

PS. It took me a week to remove this stains😣

When both superb ingredients are combined, this Drunken Prawn Japchae becomes a simple, nutritious meal to bring to work/ or to end the work day with a light dinner. At the first bite, you may find that the noodles tastes a little bland, but hold on to your salt/soya sauce! Don't add them in straight away. It takes a few more slurps for the flavours to release and heighten. Just like for Chinese soups, we say 越喝越有味道 (the more mouthfuls we take, the more flavourful it gets) you'll never get enough of the quiet, mild taste that sits in your mouth. 

Lastly, if you have any shellfish allergies, feel free to replace it with pumpkin, bell peppers or mushrooms🍃

ingredient list-01.jpg

Time: 30 minutes (including preparation)

Ingredient (serves 1)

  • 70g dry Korean sweet potato noodles
  • 5 grey prawns
  • ½ cup leek, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 stalk bok choy
  • 1 tbsp turmeric root, julienne
  • 1 tbsp goji berries
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon Chinese shaoxing wine
  • 1½ tbsp fish sauce/ soya sauce
  • White Pepper
  • 1 sprig spring onion (optional)

Preparation

  • Pour boiling water over dry Korean sweet potato noodles in a bowl until it is fully submerged. Leave it to soften for 12- 15 minutes.
  • Trim off prawn's antennae, rostrum, walking legs and cut open the back of the prawn to devein. Do not de-shell yet. 
  • Wear a plastic disposable glove and peel turmeric skin using a vegetable peeler. Cut turmeric root in fine julienne. 

Note: The flesh of turmeric root leaves a harsh yellow stain on your finger tips, knife and chopping board, wash them immediately after handling turmeric. Keep turmeric dry. 

  • Cut away roots of the leek, start slicing from the bottom white section diagonally. Dice spring onions and set aside for garnish.
  • Chop garlic in fine chunks. Cut bok choy, separate stem and leaves. 

Cooking

  • Heat up frying pan over medium heat, add olive oil, and garlic. Fry it for 20 seconds. Add prawns and fry each side of prawns for 1 minute or until it turns red. Once both sides are red, add goji berries and shaoxing wine. Lower to medium low heat, fry for 10 seconds and scoop the prawns up only to set aside, leave the red garlic sauce behind. 
  • Add leek and turmeric into the frying pan, cook for 8-10 minutes till leek has softened and coated in turmeric gold. Meanwhile, de-shell cooked prawns, and set aside. 
  • Pour in bok choy stems and fry with the mixture for 20 seconds. Then add bak choy leaves, cooked sweet potato noodles, prawns and fish sauce into frying pan. Add ½ cup of water (if you like it to be more saucy). Toss the mixture evenly using long wooden chopsticks for 3 minutes and season with white pepper to taste.
  • Sprinkle spring onions and serve. 

 

Ceramic wares in this post:

  • Mini Vase- Pastel Blue
  • Ceramic Display Tray
  • Nordic Matte Vase (Oval), Blue
  • Nordic Matte Vase (Short Cylinder), Pink

Enjoy!

-Ally

DESK LUNCH | SOBA SALAD WITH SILVER FISH

Last Good Friday, I've reached my quarter life mark! Happy Birthday to me:D

I'm having the best days in this month.

1. On Good Friday morning, I received a huge bouquet of lovely blooms from my 2 secret lovers/besties (Rochelle and Fiona)! Love you two💋. Then, I was indulging in a wholesome spread of imported fresh catch *squeals*. The lunch buffet in Shangri La Hotel has what it takes to satisfy my cravings for jumbo crab pincers, scallops and mussels. A few drops of Tabasco plus a gentle squeeze on the lemon on the seafood was simply a contentment.

2. On the following day, Ryan and I returned to DB Bistro for the fifth time. The same old restaurant where we had our first date and celebrated every significant occasion over the past one and a half years together. The ambience and attentive servers were just like before. Even the hospitable American restaurant manager who greets any customer (including myself) has never made an eye contact with Ryan till today. Still a mystery and I hope it remains hehe. What's different this time was the decision to order a dozen of oysters instead of half a dozen. Though the slimy shells were from diverse geographic regions, they tasted almost the same to me. Maybe the only dissimilarity was the tinge of fishy odour. After slurping six at one go, I was half full. Other than that the jumbo cocktail prawns were all the I had. As for Ryan, he devoured the entire veggie burger all by himself after I ate a morsel of the falafel patty. *Burp*

3.  Finally on Sunday, I warmed up the chair and plucked up enough courage to complete the entire season of Penny Dreadful in the dark with my eyes glued to the screen most of the time. You may not know this, I have never watched a single horror film/show in the past 24 years. Such a weak heart I know. But I figured this is a level up from the typical teenage romance I used to watch back in my undergraduate days. Certainly, I missed this old habit where my entire day was committed solely for TV. There was no agenda for the day and no frantic moments when time flies in a blink of an eye. I'm in that comfort zone, away from social media, away from interactions on my phone. There's nothing more but happiness that day. 

By the end of Sunday, reality hit me when there were plentiful of perishables in the fridge, staring at me.

The angel in my mind speaks: 

NO MORE FOOD WASTE.

PACK MY LUNCHBOX.

NO MORE EATING OUT FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS TILL I CLEAR ALL THE FOOD. 

SS7.jpg

With all that's left and unplanned, I present to you SOBA SALAD with Silver fish. It's a hassle free recipe. All you need is a plan to group the ingredients for the main salad, dressing and toppings. For toppings I usually select something mainly crunchy (silver fish), sticky (sunny side up), and dry (furikake) that set them apart from the texture of the main ingredients. 

For those who are highly concern in their hair health like I do, the silver fish and egg are excellent protein sources and providers of Omega-3 fatty acids for maintaining hair health. However, take the amount in moderation, not every day. 

Tip:

For the vegetables in this salad, I like them almost cooked for the crunch, and to retain the inherent sweetness they have. The longer the cooking times, the higher the heat, the more vitamins will be lost. Additionally, they will start turning a deeper shade of green, sometimes yellow, you and I may not want to eat that😣

As for shredded vegetables, add them towards the end before bringing the pan off heat. Due to their thinness, it speeds up the time to cook them. So give a quick toss for 30 seconds over medium heat and serve. 

 

Ingredients (serves 1)

Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • 70g (soba) buckwheat noodles
  • 10 French beans (sliced)
  • 3 mini sweet peppers (sliced)
  • 2 tbsp baby silver fish (air-fried)
  • ½ carrot (shredded) 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 tbsp furikake 
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Salad dressing

  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Chinese shaoxing wine
  • 1 tbsp toasted white sesame
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • ½ red chilli padi (diced)
  • 1 green chili padi (diced)
  • Brown sugar to taste

Directions

  • Fill up the stock pot with 500ml water over medium heat. Once it starts boiling, add soba and let it cook for 5-7 minutes or until al dente. Pour soba over a strainer. Place soba in a mixing bowl and put 4 ice cubes to let it cool down, side aside .
  • Place 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add French beans. Cook them for 5 minutes till they are slightly soften and their colours start to pop. Add carrot and sweet peppers and mix all the vegetables for 30 seconds. Scoop them up and set aside.
  • Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the same frying pan. Prepare a sunny side up, it takes about 3-5 minutes for the egg white to turn opaque white while the egg yolk remains runny. Scoop it up and set aside. 
  • Whisk all dressing ingredients and pour it over to the cooled soba in the mixing bowl. Use a chopstick and toss the soba well by separating the soba strands such that they are not in lumps. 
  • Add the vegetables and give it a quick toss again. 
  • Top the soba with a sunny side up, baby silver fish, and furikake.

Enjoy!Xx

- Ally

 

 

LOOSEN UP MY POCKET | SALMON BELLY POKE BOWL

Thinking about what's for lunch is my first world problem. Eating in a university canteen have many privileges, one of those is having a decent meal from a variety of stalls priced below the market rate. However, the university that I'm working, offers merely 5 stalls, of which I patronise just that one stall which serves hot and quality assured Yong Tau Foo. You can't go wrong with Yong Tau Fu, but I can't be eating that every day. What about walking out for lunch? Yes, that's the alternative, but a luxury. I noticed that food prices are escalating, especially for healthier food choices such as salads, superfoods bowls, smoothies, and sandwiches. Burning a huge hole in my pocket for nutritious meals should not share any correlation😣 Imagine that I were to spend on a well-balanced and clean lunch for about $10 everyday, that will add up to $50 a week. For an executive myself, I can already feel the financial struggle, let alone saving up for other priorities, pfft.

Well, there's still hope to loosen up my pocket while striving to lead a nourishing and sustainable lifestyle (not diet). 

PACK MY OWN LUNCH!

Yes, I decided to give it a shot and went full on thrifty mode. Yesterday I spent $30 in the supermarket for the items below:

  • 150g fresh salmon belly
  • 3 avocados 
  • 1 packet radishes
  • Furikake (Furikake is a dry Japanese seasoning meant to be sprinkled on top of cooked rice)
  • Purple cabbage
  • 3 zucchini
  • 1 packet of frozen edamame
  • Lemons

With the ingredients above, I can make around 5 poke bowls for myself in a week. Of course, there is always room for crea by swapping avocados with a sunny side up to keep homemade lunchbox interesting and appetising.   

So preparing lunchbox for a week will cost...

*calculating* $6 per meal! That allows me to save $4 a day and this can be contributed to either a great cuppa latte or my savings account 😎 Cultivating this habit is as tough as hitting back to the gym after taking a long break. Why not engage a lunch buddy, he/she may share the same healthy goals and mindset to kickstart a "I feel good eating well" lifestyle! When there's companionship, it sustains our motivation and perseverance to work towards a better version of ourselves💪🏻 

Ingredients (serves 2)

To marinate salmon belly 

  • 150g salmon belly, cubed
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp black bean ma la sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • Juice of 1 lemon wedge
  • 1 tbsp white sesame

To assemble poke bowl

  • 1 cup brown rice (cooked with 1 tbsp coconut oil)
  • 1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
  • ½ zucchini, sliced
  • 3 radishes, sliced
  • 2 tbsps edamame
  • 1 packet or 2 tbsp furikake

 

Directions

  • Cook 1 cup brown rice with 3- 4 cups of water. It should cover slightly above brown rice. If the brown rice is still hard, add½ cup of water and let it cook longer to soften. Once rice has soften, add 1 tbsp coconut oil and mix into rice. 
  • Combine all ingredients with salmon belly cubes, mix it thoroughly. 
  • Scoop½ portion cooked brown rice , followed by ½ portion of the toppings to the rice bowl. Sprinkle 1 tbsp furikake on the rice bowl. 

Note: Although salmon belly is marinated, do finish it within the day of purchase. If it is purchased the day before, keep the marinated salmon belly in an air tight container and store in the fridge up to a day. Also, if you can smell the fishiness after a day, I will strongly advise you not to eat it. 

Enjoy! Xx 

- Ally

 

 

REMEMBERING AH GONG | THAI COCONUT SEAFOOD SOUP (TOM KHA GOONG)

Yesterday was a special day. A day that reminded me of my late grandpa who protected me from stray dogs around the neighbourhood and the only one who offered his cuddles generously more than my parents. 16 years have past, and I still dreamed about searching for him, high and low, then woke up in tears. The loss was too soon, but fond memories of him left a huge impression in my life. Our last holiday was to Bangkok, a year before he left us. He was the first person who fed me with a mouthful of milky soup, it dances between sour and spicy, a queer sensation at the tip of my tongue. At the age of 9, I've never tasted any food with two tastes combined, even for soups, they are either sweet or peppery. This soup is called Tom Kha Gai or chicken galangal (blue ginger) soup. The chicken is bathed in an aromatic, silky coconut millk broth, and usually served with rice. The mild spiciness drew me to pester my grandpa for more, and that marked my fondness in Thai food. 

Mummy Chow went to pay her respects on his death anniversary, while I was nursing my grandma the whole morning. The emptiness in me has led me craving for the warming and comforting soup that reminded me of him. Before grandma woke up for lunch, I sneaked out to buy some quintessential Thai ingredients: lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, red chilli padi, red onions (they come in a pack and you can find them at Fairprice supermarket in Singapore), trimmed coconut milk, clams and red chrysanthemums. 

The toughest part for the recipe may be searching for the key ingredients: the leading roles that play the creamy, sour, spicy, tiny bit sweet part in this broth. You'll most likely find them in Asian supermarket, and I wouldn't advise replacing lime leaves with lime zest, galangal with turmeric. Hmm...they will taste different, I've never tried it, but having lime zest boil within the soup for too long, it may taste an odd bitter. The easiest part will be bringing them altogether, in groups and they meld within the broth quite swiftly.

This classic, second best known Thai dish in America can be quite a teaser to your nose and eyes while preparing it. First, keep an eye on your supporting fingers whilst slicing the chili padi. DON'T EVER TOUCH THE SEEDS! THEY STING. So, cut off the tip, hold down the tail of the chili padi, and carve out the seeds. Next, ☝🏻 I've to warn you to cover your nose while frying the Thai ingredients. The pungent and sharp aroma can be a little choking at first😷 So keep the fire low to medium heat. 

Ingredients (serves 3)

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 red onion, peeled, chop finely
  • 1 galangal, skinned, cut in 4 slices
  • 1 ginger, skinned, cut in 4 slices
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, pale white bottom part only. Smashed it with a pestle and cut in diagonal slices
  • 4 chilli padi (small hot Thai chiles), deseed, thinly sliced
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 6 lime/makrut leaves (without stem)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 anchovy stock
  • 1 pound small clams
  • 6 huge prawns
  • 1 cup roughly chopped Thai coriander
  • 1 lime, wedges, for serving
  • 5 cups warm water
  • Fish sauce to taste

Tip:

  • To remove fishy smell from clams completely, add 1 tablespoon salt in a big bowl of water. Pour clams in and let it soaked for 20 minutes. Drain water away, fill the bowl with water again and add 1 tablespoon salt in the bowl. Leave it for another 10 minutes. Drain salt water away before cooking clams.

Directions

  • Heat coconut oil in a heavy bottom stock pot over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until slightly brown and tender. Add galangal, ginger, lemongrass and stir fry till combine for 3-4 minutes. Lower to medium heat, add chilli padi. Continue to fry the mixture for 2 minutes.
  • Add warm water to the mixture (water level should cover the ingredients) followed by the stock and lime leaves. Simmer for 30 minutes. 
  • Taste the mixture and add 1 tablespoon fish sauce to the soup. Adjust the flavour to your liking by adding 1 teaspoon fish sauce each time.
  • Add clams and prawns and bring mixture to a boil over high heat for 5-8 minutes or until clams have opened. Quickly add coconut milk in and stir it once or twice. *Don’t leave the soup boiling for too long as it foams up and create white milk particles. 
  • Turn off the heat. Transfer clams and prawns to bowls. Strain the broth using a strainer if desired and ladle over seafood. Sprinkle with coriander. Squeeze a lime wedge over each bowl.

Enjoy!Xx

Ally

 

LUNCHBOX LIFESTYLE| ZUCCHINI CHICKPEA SOUP WITH SUTCHI FILLET

My fond memories of the lunch boxes prepared by Mummy Chow were simply earthy and nutritious back in primary school days. I would regard it as a purposeful box, it has the greens, meat and small portion of brown rice I needed to fuel me through the entire afternoon class. With the touch of her magic, anything uninteresting yet healthy like bitter gourd, egg plant and tofu were polished within my gobbling ability, heh! Therefore a nutritional meal and a tasty, flavorful meal aren't mutually exclusive to my knowledge, it's just how they are prepared creatively. Now that my dietary preferences have changed to be selective; having no rice for lunch (to avoid lunch coma), and cutting down red meat for health reasons, I started making my own lunchbox for work!

To get things started, I go easy. This green giant soup recipe is adapted from Donna Hay's Fresh & Light issue, with a little twist for more Asian taste. It's simplicity to prepare the soup like a smoothie did not take too much time. With the absence of a stick blender in my kitchen, I waited for the pot of soup ingredients to cool down for 15 minutes before pouring them into the blender and blitz. This is to avoid the risk of damaging or expanding the blender.

As I was down with a cold all week, I've used ginger, cilantro roots, garlic and black pepper as the stock for their bone-warming properties. The sharp and spicy taste of this blend really soothed the sniffy blocked nose, and helped fought away drowsy blues. Not forgetting the part when I perspired in my cosy outfit whilst slurping the soup bit by bit, oops.

Don't underestimate the green giant by its looks, the biggest source of protein to boost my immune system at my weakest state are chickpeas, rockets and Sutchi fillet. They contains nutrients like Vitamin B6 and B12, both of which help the body to build strength and resilience against infections.

The restorative soup and the pan-fried Sutchi fillet have to be stored separately in a freezer for up to 2 days. Avoid keeping it longer as the soup will turn darker and lose it's freshness. 

Though it took me an hour's time to prepare the night before a working day, I am glad that the decision to cook something what my body needs and what aids to relieve the symptoms of my cold throughout the day was absolutely right. 

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small purple garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
  • 400g can chickpeas (garbanzos), drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch rocket, chopped
  • 2 zucchinis (courgettes), chopped
  • 2 cups (500ml) water
  • 200g sutchi fillet
  • 1 tablespoon grass-fed butter
  • sea salt, cracked pepper, cayenne pepper
  • 1 courgette, extra, spiraled to serve
  • Handful of coriander leaves, to serve

Stock

  • 2 coriander roots, washed
  • 1 small ginger
  • 1 teaspoon pepper corns
  • 1 garlic clove

Directions

  • Heat the oil in a stock pot over medium heat, add the garlic and coriander. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes till garlic turns light brown. Add chickpeas and zucchinis and stir fry for 1-2 minutes till all are combined. 
  • Pour water over the mixture and add stock and rockets. Lower the heat, close the lid and let the soup simmer for 15 minutes or until the zucchinis turn tender. 
  • Meanwhile, season sutchi fillet with sea salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Drop butter in a frying pan over medium heat, gently lay fillet on the pan. Flip fillet over to other side after 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Repeat the step and scoop fillet up when both sides are cooked. Cut the fillet in flakes using a fork, side aside. 
  • Season soup with sea salt to taste and remove from heat. Let it cool down for 10 minutes before pouring soup into blender. Blend till smooth and divide soup between bowls. Top with fish flakes, spiraled zucchini, coriander and pepper to serve. 

MONOTASKING | CRAB STUFFED WHITE FISH ROLL

Throughout my life, I am quite a mono tasker, also known as a person who does a single task at a time. When someone talks to me while I am texting, I will say, "uh huh, hum, yeah" at moments which doesn't require any acknowledgment or assurance from me. That seems really rude I know, but I realise a part of me just can not process information disseminated from different sources into two separate paths of my memory bank concurrently. I thought this is a weakness I need to work on, as some say mono-tasking is a sign of weakness, unlike multitasking, a highly valued capability, which employers are actively looking for in their employees. However, I was wrong, several studies show that multitasking is inefficient. 

"We don't actually multitask. We switch tasks, rapidly shifting from one thing to another, interrupting ourselves unproductively, and losing time in the process"-Harvard Business Review

I think to myself, if I want to be efficient, I put 100% focus and attention to do a task while minimising distractions (replying to whatsapp messages). Why would I want to have divided attention to perform two or three different tasks, and my productivity will go down by as much as 40% as oppose to 99% for a single task at a time? On top of that, more time is needed to complete them as it takes 10-15 minutes to get back to the "flow" state. 

Multitasking is also a major culprit for procrastination when we don't have the clarity on what we should do at a given time 😈  So on days where I need to fix my dinner>reply to emails>choose my outfit for the next day>solve brain training games all before 11:30pm, monotasking is the only solution to accomplish the plan. 

With the clarity that I should fix my meal after I get home, I seek out for simple recipes that require merely a few steps to fix a legit meal within 40 minutes. Also, it's a great start for amateurs like me. 

So this week, I stumbled upon a crab stuffed white fish roll recipe on Pinterest by Bam's Kitchen. Immediately, I was sold by the her photos, the time taken to prepare, and the directions. That's my dinner plan, I got to make this, crab and white fish, the best of both worlds! 

This recipe saves your day if you're in the mood for a low-carb, gluten-free diet. It takes 40 minutes to make it, including 15 minutes to thaw any frozen white fish fillet of your choice. I've tried and tested, it is the superstar of the month!

Why eat white fish?

1. Muscle gain, fat loss

Sick of chicken? White fish is also high in protein that enables your body to repair itself after a strenuous workout. On average, 100g of cod contains 17.6g of protein, this exceeds the daily recommended consumption of 0.4g to 0.6g for an active person. It is also the "hero" for high protein and low fat diet without losing the protein and other nutrients. White fish is lower in fat than other fishes or meat, so dieters, this is another option! 

2. Healthy weight, good skin to hair

White fish is high in vitamin B and selenium. Selenium is a vital mineral as it increases immunity and plays an important role of maintaining a healthy metabolism. While Vitamin B helps to burn more energy and maintain a healthy weight, it complements selenium by benefitting your cells, improving everything from good skin to hair. 

The succulent and juicy crab stuffed white fish rolls is sweet on its own. For all we know, fish and lemon butter sauce is the go-for combination of all time. The zesty sauce gives an extra hit to these rolls. 

This recipe is adapted from Bam's Kitchen, yet for an Asian flavour, I've substituted herbs with Shaoxing Wine. 

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 whole white fish loin (frozen)
  • 10 crabsticks, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ bulb garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • Salt and black pepper

Lemon butter sauce

  • 2 table spoons melted butter
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Directions

  • Defrost the bag of white fish loin fillets (without taking the fillets out) for 15 minutes before cooking. Preheat oven to 200°C. 
  • Meanwhile, pour olive oil in a medium saucepan under medium heat. Add in onions until they begin to soften and caramelise a bit. Pour in garlic and fry until slightly golden. Then, add crab sticks, cream cheese and give it quick gentle fry (we do not want the crab sticks to get mushy and minced). Before turning heat off, sprinkle black pepper and add ½ portion parsley to the mix for 1 minute, combine well. 
  • Wash fillets, sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of salt and rub over the fillets to remove fishy smell. Lay out fillets, back side face up, top side face down on a greased baking pan, season with black pepper, sesame oil and shaoxing wine. 
  • Add 2½ tablespoons of crab stick mixture and spread along the whole fillet evenly. Roll up each fish fillet, no toothpicks are required to hold them in place.
  • Combine lemon juice and melted butter, drizzle 2 tablespoons of the sauce over each crab stuffed fillet roll.
  • Pop crab stuffed fillet rolls in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top turns slightly brown and they turn flaky inside. Check the stuffed fillet rolls every 10 minutes using a fork to check if they flakes,  drizzle 1 tablespoon of lemon butter sauce over stuffed fillet rolls. 
  • Serve crab stuffed fillet rolls hot straight out of the oven with a final drizzle of lemon butter sauce. Side aside the remaining lemon sauce for dipping. Sprinkle remaining portion of parsley, you may serve them with steamed veggies or rice.  

Enjoy! Have a great weekend! Xx

Ally

Psst, what I have written above are just brief findings on mono-tasking and nutritional facts on white fish. If you're interested to read more, here are the links!

 

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY | SEAFOOD VERMICELLI WITH SALTED EGG

Few nights ago when Ryan and I were chilling after watching Game of Thrones, we started firing quick questions at each other. Basically we had to answer super fast and not supposed to think too hard. When I got the ball rolling, the questions were pretty simple.

A: Chocolate or Cookies?

R:  🍫

A: Christmas or New Year?

R:  🎄

Then...when it was my turn to be bombarded, here's what happened

R: Sporty or Lace? 

A: Lace 🙊

R: Mama Chow or Daddy Chow?

A: Hmm...

I contemplated for five good seconds. In the end I chose Mama Chow. If that question was asked five years ago, my answer would be the same, except that it will be answered without much thinking. The difference in time to respond between now and then signified how it became tougher to choose between them.

Now that I responded slower, it has made me realized that my relationship with Daddy Chow have already strengthened over the last five years. Being a traditional man, he is a hardworking and dutiful sole breadwinner for the family.That's about it. As a man of few words, our father-daughter conversation usually lasted no more than 30 minutes since I was young. Therefore, I used to feel distant from him. 

Later I found out that his primary love language for the family is the "act of service", where his actions speak for his love and care. In retrospect, I was ignorant to appreciate that. Eventually, as I grew older, paternal love was much evident than before. No matter rain or shine, he would drive me to school every morning during my undergraduate studies. Even for the past 17 months, we interacted longer and struck deeper conversations about life and survival tips at work, on our way to work. I'm fortunate to be labelled as a daddy's girl.

If you feel the same as I did in the past, I will encourage you to identify your parents' primary love language, and make sense of their approach of loving you. You may disagree or doubt their love and attention, that's because they're not speaking your dominant language out of the Five love languages :) Find it out and embrace the present to validate their love by showing your appreciation using their primary love language respectively.

Oh!  If you discover our fathers share the same love language, then "act of service" is the bull's eye to celebrate this Father's Day! Stop thinking hard on what gifts to buy or which restaurant to make a reservation. Serve a home cook seafood vermicelli with salted egg will overweight them. It's the one way street and your old man definitely deserves it! Happy Father's Day!

Ingredients (serves 3)

  • 9 prawns
  • 12 clams
  • 3 dried rice vermicelli
  • 3 cilantro stems
  • 2 salted egg yolk
  • 1 spring onion stem
  • 1 ginger
  • ½ bulb garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine
  • Canola oil
  • White pepper
  • Salt

Kitchen Equipment

  • Small pot
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Big plate/casserole dish
  • Ladle
  • Fork
  • Preparation

Preparation

  • Put 1 tablespoon of salt in a huge bowl. Wash clams thoroughly and soak in saltwater for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, trim off antennae and rostrum of the prawns.
  • Chop garlic, ginger and cilantro in small chunks. Side aside in separate bowls. Slice spring onions in short lengths.

Cooking

  • Drain clams and wash them again with water.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of canola oil into small pot over medium heat. When oil is heated, pour in ginger, and ½ portion garlic. Fry garlic until light brown, slowly pour in clams at a low level to reduce the impact, the shells may potentially break.
  • Stir fry clams till the shells open. Add ½ portion parsley and give it a quick stir for 1 minute. Scoop up in a bowl and side aside.
  • Using the same pot, turn down to low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and remaining portion of garlic. Similarly, fry garlic till lightly brown, gently lay the prawns uniformly. Flip over after 1 minute or until the bottom side turns red. When both sides are red, scoop them up, leave garlic and sauce behind.
  • Fill up half the pot with water, add rice vermicelli and boil for 3-5 minutes. Meanwhile, smash salted egg yolks using the back of the fork. Add them into the pot, mix well. Let it boil for 2 minutes, they will turn into light orange ''pebbles''.
  • Add clams, prawns and spring onions. Season vermicelli with white pepper, shaoxing wine and fish sauce. Give it a quick fry and serve. 

Enjoy!Xx

FAST COOK | OVEN BAKED HALIBUT FILLET

Yippee, I’ve got my "Off duty Tuesdays” again, that's seven weeks in a row already, heh! In case you’re wondering why I am always on leave, the truth is, I was excused from work to attend a photography workshop for the past six weeks. 

Within this time frame, Tom (my instructor) has given concise explanations from the technicality in operating my camera to the thought process of curating a photograph. My DSLR has became less of a stranger to me now:)

Throughout the entire workshop, I’ve earned friendships, different areas of knowledge and generous amount of encouragement from Tom and my classmates. With this pocketful of pleasant encounters, I felt a little boost in confidence and assurance in chasing my passion. Oh, and I am starting to love the idea of signing up for more workshops! Yet, there are so little time to spare from work...

Unlike my usual Tuesdays, I stayed home to nurse and cook for my ah poh (grandma) this week. She is living to a ripe age, and I can’t believe she is turning 99 this year! What’s her secret? 

Her high intake of fish in her diet.

So given the amount of time that I need to work from home and prepare lunch for both of us, this bright, bold and light oven baked halibut only took me 40 minutes (including preparation). Simply choose any white fillet of your choice. I suggest you can stroll along the supermarket and get any fillet on promotion!

Enjoy halibut fillet at its best when it's oven baked, grilled, but not fried. As it is rich in omega-3 acids, this oily fish is a perfect source of protein, it's not high in saturated fat, and a healthy addition to your carb free diet. That gives me a reason to gobble half a fillet down feeling full and satisfied^-^

Cooking fish for 10 minutes per inch of thickeness is an old rule of thumb that works perfectly on oven baked fish. The timing is just enough to cook the white flesh to opaque without reaching a point where it flakes. Having said that, the fillet is moist and gives a delicate flavour.  As the fillet has its own sweetness (even for the frozen ones), season lightly with your favourite sauce or herb to enhance its flavour. Now that we have a rich source of protein, don't forget to add some veggies to fill up your vitamin intake.

This oven baked Halibut recipe is a quick, and presentable dish for a group of people during parties and gatherings! Serve this straight-out from the oven, sit tight and prepare to feast on. 

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 350g Halibut fillet
  • 4 stalks asparagus
  • 500g baby radish
  • 250g Japanese sweet pumpkin
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil 

Kitchen Equipment

  • Vegetable Knife
  • Chopping board
  • Small pot
  • Baking Tray

Preparation

  • Remove vacuum packaged fillet from the packaging before thawing in cold water. It is important to remove the packaging when thawing the fillet as oxygen is present and the spores will not produce that can contaminate food. Seal it in a plastic bag, put on a plate and immerse it in cold water for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile,wash and slice up asparagus, pumpkin and baby radish.
  • Use the side of the vegetable knife and slam on the garlic. This helps to remove garlic skin easily.

Cooking

  • Drain cold water and remove the fillet from the plastic bag. When fillet is defrosted, add in garlic, oyster sauce, pepper, sesame oil on the fillet. Marinade it for 5 mins.
  • Fill up half a pot of boiling water, pour in asparagus and radish. Add one tablespoon of olive oil into the pot. This will enhance the vibrance of the vegetables. Let it boil for 5 mins then scoop them up. 
  • Transfer fillet and place it at the center of the baking tray.
  • Arrange the boiled vegetables and the sliced pumpkin around the fillet.
  • Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil on the vegetables. Put it in the oven for 10 mins till the fillet turns opaque, and tender when pierced with a toothpick.

Enjoy!Xx

 

GETTING STARTED | ROSEMARY PRAWNS

A little bit more about myself! I’m an educational media producer in a Singaporean university. My usual work routine involves storyboarding, shooting, and editing videos. The objective is to enhance students’ learning and understanding of any given subject matter through my educational videos. That, I find it meaningful and rewarding. Recently, I shot the production and operation flow of several catering organisations and restaurants as part of a module on food and beverage management. I loved capturing the details, movement, textures, colours of the food. It is honestly different if I see things with an naked eye and behind the lens. The mood and experience changes every single time.

I’m quite emotional when it comes to what I consume: a bad coffee in the morning can ruin my mood, and waiting too long for lunch to be served only to find it falling below my expectations keeps me pouting for several hours. Sounds like I'm always grumpy or picky eater? Haha but I'm not. Good food is important to me. I love the berry family! Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, black berries.

They are giants of antioxidants (aka nutrients), and incorporating them in our diet will contribute to radiant skin, shiny hair, and protect us from high cholesterol and blood pressure etc 

Back to the blog, the first dish I’m kick-starting with is Rosemary Prawns with Turmeric Rice!

This is Ryan's and my favorite dish whenever we dine at DB Bistro & Oyster Bar (their prawns were the inspiration for this dish!) Achieving the aroma and flavors of the prawns soaked in rosemary and lemon butter sauce. Yum! Being economical, I thought we could try it out for ourselves, to save burning a huge hole in our wallets. This is what we concluded was the best combination. 

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 8 cherry tomatoes, into halves
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Lemon juice (¼ lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon of spicy chilli crisp (Lao Gan Ma brand)
  • ¼  cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup of water
  • 150g of butter
  • 10 tiger prawns
  • Fresh rosemary and thyme
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ½ loaf of focaccia bread in cubes (optional)

Kitchen equipment

  • Chopping board
  • Medium skillet
  • Rice cooker
  • Scissors
  • Knife

Preparation

  • Wash rice, rinse it twice and fill it up with 2 cups of water. Put into rice cooker. 
  • Pour in turmeric powder and coconut oil, give a good stir before putting it over medium heat.
  • Peel the garlic clove, gently slam it with the flat side of the knife
  • Using the scissors, trim off antennal and rostrum (to avoid fingers getting pricked) of the prawns.
  • To devein the prawns, use scissors to cut along the abdomen.

Cooking

  • Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a medium skillet over medium heat, place the prawns and flip them over after 1-2 minutes, or until they turn red.
  • Add chilli crisps and give it a quick stir-fry. Scoop them up and set aside.
  • Melt remaining butter on the skillet, add Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Fry till garlic turns golden brown, then add tomatoes, water and lemon juice.
  • When tomatoes are slightly soften, add 4-5 sprigs of rosemary and thyme each, let the sauce simmer for 5-10 minutes over low heat.
  • Pour in prawns and fry them thoroughly till they are finely coated.
  • Serve with turmeric rice, and dip focaccia bread cubes into sauce. 

Tip: Both rosemary and thyme tend to have strong dominating aromas. Try cutting down to 2-3 stalks if you prefer milder fragrance.

Enjoy!Xx