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Ginger Scallion Noodles

When I think of Chinese food, I think of the quintessential flavours of ginger, scallions (spring onions) and soy sauce. They’re really the building blocks of so many Chinese dishes. These ginger scallion noodles are no exception.

Last night, I was experiencing a bad case of the midnight munchies. Ordinarily when I’m back home somewhere in Asia, all I have to do is walk to a nearby hawker centre and I have my pick of fried noodles, Indian roti prata, or fish congee, and I have great food anytime of the night.

Killer Sauce

Seeing as I have no such option here in Melbourne, it was up to me to do something about my hunger pangs. Not one to ignore to calls of my stomach, I remembered this post I read on userealbutter. Ginger scallion noodles – the perfect late-night supper slash snack.

The only change I made to the original recipe was using sesame oil instead of vegetable oil for the killer sauce. Sesame oil is my favourite Chinese ingredient. It came together really easily, and was so darn satisfying.

p.s. please excuse the stodgy photos – it was 2am, people!

Ginger Scallion Noodles
Momofuku by David Chang

the sauce

2 1/2 cups scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled and minced fine
1/4 cup vegetable oil (i used sesame oil)
1 1/2 tsps light soy sauce
3/4 tsp sherry vinegar
3/4 tsp kosher salt plus more to taste

Mix together in a bowl and let sit for 20 minutes.

the rest

12 oz ramen noodles
2 tbsps vegetable oil
3 cups cabbage, shredded
2 cups sprouts
2 stalks green onions, sliced thin on the diagonal
1 cup bamboo shoots
hoisin sauce (optional)

While the sauce is sitting, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles. When the noodles are ready, drain them. Dry the pot and pour in the vegetable oil. Heat on high flame and add the green onions when the oil is hot. Stir the green onions for 15 seconds then add the cabbage. Stir-fry the cabbage until it begins to wilt then add the sprouts. When the sprouts begin to wilt, toss in the bamboo shoots and stir-fry for another minute then remove from heat. Place the noodles and the sauce in a large bowl together and toss to coat the noodles evenly. Top or toss in the stir-fried vegetables and top with hoisin sauce.

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Nasi Goreng – Indonesian Fried Rice

Nasi Goreng is ubiquitous in Southeast Asia. Sometimes it’s enjoyed for breakfast too. Wherever you have it – a hawker stall in Singapore or a posh café in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – the essentials of a good fried rice dish are there. I’ve had so many versions of this, I’ve lost count.

The list of ingredients is open to a myriad of interpretations. I added bean sprouts, which gave it a nice crunch. Nasi goreng can be served with stews, curries or stir-fries, or in this version, served simply yet deliciously topped with a fried egg.

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

(adapted from Rasa Malaysia)

serves 1

Ingredients:

1 shallot or small onion
1 garlic clove
1-2 red chillies
1/2 teaspoon belacan (I used nyonya belancan)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon kecap manis
1 cup overnight rice

½ cup bean sprouts
1 egg
2 tablespoons oil

Method:

Fluff the rice using a fork. Mince shallot/onion, garlic and chili.

In a wok, fry the egg in a little oil, sunny side up. Set aside.

Add more oil to the wok. Fry the minced shallot, garlic and chili. Add belacan paste. Fry until the oil separates.

Add the rice and bean sprouts into the wok and toss everything well. Add kecap manis and sugar and continue to stir-fry, making sure that they are well mixed with the rice.

Dish out, top the nasi goreng with the fried egg and serve immediately.

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Beef Salad – Thai-Style

I titled this post beef salad – Thai -style instead of Thai beef salad because this is a Thai-inspired salad, not the popular yum neua – a beef salad with toasted rice powder, available at any Thai restaurant.

fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic, chili

The ingredients are similar though. First I started with the holy trinity of Thai salad dressings – freshly squeezed lime juice, fish sauce and sugar, all to taste, especially if your fish sauce is old and extra stinky. For a single serving, I start with a tablespoon of each and adjust from there.

For extra kick, I also added minced garlic and one red bird’s eye chilli to this already tasty sauce. This is optional, but I let this marinate in the fridge for a few hours so that the lime juice slightly offsets the rawness of the garlic.

cilantro, red onion, mint, cucumber, green beans, bean sprouts

I don’t have to tell you that the vegetables here can easily be substituted, although cilantro and mint are pretty essential. I love cilantro so I used a large handful. And I gave it a rough chop – I like it as an ingredient of the salad instead of just a garnish.

No scallions, though. I’ve never had them in beef salads in Thailand so I do the same with mine.

Salad, te quiero. I could eat you any day, any season.

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Green Bean Omelette

I am unashamedly a rice girl. This delicious omelette is perfect with rice and is a staple in my family. My grandma whips this up pretty often because it’s just one of those super quick and easy dishes.

I think I love this more now than when I was growing up because I really appreciate the simplicity of the dish. To me, comfort food is anything my grandma cooks. She is my inspiration in the kitchen and the reason I have such a love for food. ‘Comfort food’ may be a clichéd description, but this is really what this dish means to me, especially when I start to miss home.

My grandma starts by heating oil in a hot wok. Then she adds chopped garlic, green beans and preserved turnip, keeping the wok moving constantly. She beats eggs in a bowl with some salt, and pours it into the hot wok, like you would any omelette. When browned on one side, the omelette is flipped and seconds later, dished out.

This simple egg-dish should be in every cook’s repertoire. I replicated exactly how my grandma cooks it. It was really good, but never as good as when she does it.

p.s. Apologies for the lousy photograph at the end. It was past 6pm and daylight was disappearing fast.

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Anchovy and Arugula Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs

This has got to be the pasta dish that I’ve made the most in my entire life. I can’t even remember where I got the original recipe from because I probably saw it on tv 7 or 8 years ago. I don’t have any qualms about eating anchovies straight up but there are those weird few who don’t like them. To those, I say this dish must be tried. The anchovies ‘melt’ on contact with the hot pan and become this delicious ‘sauce’ that enrobes the pasta. Magnificent.

Typically, I top this with shaved Parmesan or Pecorino. But last night when I made this, my cheese was missing. I can honestly say I have no idea where it went! I combed through the fridge but alas! So what do you do when life hands you a cheese-less refrigerator?

Breadcrumbs.

Let me walk you through the process: First thing you want to do is toast the breadcrumbs. I didn’t use fresh breadcrumbs and frankly, there’s nothing wrong with the store-bought stuff. In a hot pan, add a little oil, then the breadcrumbs. Stir them. Once they’re toasty, remove them to a plate.

Now cook your pasta. Use the long stuff – it’s better for this dish. While that’s happening, in the same pan used to toast the breadcrumbs, fry sliced garlic in olive oil (I don’t recommend chopping your garlic to death – you want slices so you taste it separately in the final dish). Add 3-4 fillets of anchovies (per person) and watch them dissolve. Now add a pinch of dried chilli/red pepper flakes. Stir.

Test your pasta for doneness (al dente, please). With the heat off the anchovy pan, add the pasta, arugula, a squeeze of lemon and black pepper. No salt – anchovies are salty enough. Toss well. Serve sprinkled with the breadcrumbs.

Forkful of Garlicky-Anchovy Goodness

I’d heard somewhere that in poorer parts of Italy, families could not afford Parmeggiano so the resourceful women would use toasted breadcrumbs instead. That said, there’s nothing ‘poor’ about this dish. Breadcrumbs are great with pasta and don’t necessarily have to be a substitute for cheese. I loved that the breadcrumbs added a nice crunch. This is good enough to eat cold and makes great leftovers.

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Pandan Pancakes

I woke up this morning with an intense craving for pancakes. I pretty much jumped out of bed and immediately switched on the stove to heat up a pan (don’t worry, I brushed my teeth straight after).

As I reached for the flour in my larder, I saw a tiny green bottle out of the corner of my eye. It was a bottle of Pandan essence. Ding! I thought, why not switch things up a little? It is Good Friday after all. Everyone has green pancakes on Good Friday, don’t they? Okay, maybe not.

Pandan leaves (also called screwpine) have an incredible, subtle flavour and the most wonderful aroma. This is almost like the Southeast Asian vanilla, used in cakes and jellies and other sweet desserts. My granddad even puts some fresh pandan leaves in his car, which he claims deters cockroaches and other creepy crawlies from coming in. Strange, I know.

All you do is use your basic pancake recipe and add a few drops of this thick, green paste to the batter. Simple. I served this drizzled with honey instead of maple syrup – not sure how that would go with the Pandan flavour.

Thank goodness these didn’t come out looking (or tasting) like some freak experiment gone wrong. If you’ve never tried Pandan, you really, really need to.

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