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


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!