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

 

 

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

 

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!

 

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