Category Archives: Meat

Red, white

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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Minced Pork With Noodles

This is one of those staple meals that I make all the time. Minced pork is so flavourful and is really great on noodles for a quick, no-fuss dinner. Any kind of noodles will suffice, just not pasta. Please.

As usual, I didn’t cook with a recipe. I just portioned some minced (ground) pork, soaked some rice vermicelli noodles (mi fen) in hot water till they tasted cooked, then chopped 2 cloves of garlic, 1 scallion and 1 red bird’s eye chilli.

I started by frying the garlic, chilli and scallions with a little oil in a very hot pan. Before the garlic starts to brown, throw in the pork. Fry, fry, fry, breaking up the large bits. When the pork browns, add a splash of Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce and pepper. When the liquid has evaporated, it’s ready. Then just dish onto cooked noodles and drizzle with a little sesame oil. The whole process takes about 5 minutes.

Toss, toss, toss

Depending on what I feel like, I switch up the flavours. Sometimes I go Japanese and add mirin and Japanese soy sauce, instead of the Chinese cooking wine and Chinese soy sauce. Or if I feel like Thai, I add fish sauce and a little sugar. Really, use what you have. It’s not rocket science.

I loved that the smaller bits of pork were crispier. Oh, and the chilli is optional, of course. I just can’t do without chilli in my food. It’s incredible flavour, not just heat. You could also serve this on rice and it would taste equally yummy.

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Filed under Meat, Noodles

Carbonara For One

Today was one of those Mondays where I get home from work and I’m tired and hungry. My lunch was a measly PB&J. Obviously, cooking a quick dinner was pretty much all I could fathom. And, with a bare fridge, the answer to my prayers was Pasta Carbonara. I used speck, but you really could use any cured/smoked meat, such as bacon, chorizo, cinghiale, prosciutto…

You really don’t need many ingredients and this comes together in less than 10 minutes. Cooking for one is nice once in a while, especially when you’ve got a warm plate of Carbonara at the end of a long day. Nothing could be more satisfying.

On a side note: this is probably unorthodox, but I sprinkled a few drops of Tabasco on the finished pasta, because even though I added chilli flakes in the cooking process, I really like the tangy heat from the Tabasco, which cuts through the richness of the pasta.

Pasta Carbonara

serves 1

Linguine (or any long pasta of choice)

Speck (or any cured/smoked meat), chopped

1 or 2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 egg, lightly beaten

Parmesan or other hard cheese, grated

Pepper

Chilli flakes (optional)

  1. Cook your pasta in salted, boiling water. Al dente, please.
  2. In pan on medium heat, fry the meat till slightly golden (1-2 minutes), then add garlic. If using chilli flakes, stir them in now.
  3. If you’ve timed this right, the pasta will just be cooked and be ready for the meat in the pan. Remove everything from heat.
  4. Transfer pasta straight into pan. Immediately pour in egg, cheese and a little of the pasta water.
  5. Stir, stir, stir, adding a little more pasta water if it starts looking dry. Season with pepper.
  6. Dish up immediately and enjoy!

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Pad Thai

I’ve waxed lyrical about my love for Thai food. Being with a Thai guy certainly aids the process. I love Pad Thai. It’s ubiquitously Thai. Ever since I learned to make it a few years ago, I’ve never ordered it outside and have never looked back.

Pad means fried in Thai. Like any other fried noodle dish, Pad Thai’s cooking process is easy. It took me less than 5 minutes to fry one portion. The trick to this, and other fried noodles, is that all your ingredients are at the ready. Start with a hot wok and the stars align and everything falls into place.

I stress, do not attempt to fry more than 2 portions at one time. Overcrowding the wok/fry pan is a no-no and will bring you down the path of stewed noodles. Yuck. You want to maintain the high heat and keep everything moving.

Oh, and please, no tomato ketchup in the Pad Thai sauce. I’ve also seen recipes with soy sauce. People, nam plaa (fish sauce) only. You won’t regret it. Trust.

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Speck on Sourdough

Melbourne: Sunny today with a top of 24°C (75°F) – perfect for a trip to the market.

On the walk there, I stopped by at my favourite bargain bookstore. Hidden in the corner, I saw a copy of Nick Malgieri’s Chocolate. I’d been wanting this dessert book for a very long time. When I saw the price tag, I must’ve grabbed it quicker than I could say BARGAIN! It was $12! Brand new! That really started my day.

At the market, I picked up a loaf of gorgeous multigrain sourdough from my favourite bakery. Everytime I buy fresh bread, I’m compelled to hurry home to build myself a sandwich, to take full advantage of the freshness of the bread. I also love this bread because of the all the seeds, which I couldn’t stop picking at on the way home.

Oh, did I mention I also bought some speck? Mmm… speck. I like speck more than prosciutto. I think I might be alone on this. To me, speck is really under-appreciated. I love the fattyness. The speck (thinly sliced, no less) had such an amazing smokey flavour. I’m so glad I bought enough to last a few days.

Specky Goodness

So this was my Friday lunch – Speck on Sourdough. I didn’t toast the sourdough – when bread is fresh I like it that way. I smeared the slices with Maille dijon mustard. I didn’t bother with greens because I didn’t want interference with all that specky goodness. Okay I lied. I forgot to buy baby spinach or arugula. D’oh!

But definitely, when you use good stuff, you really don’t need much adornment. Let the ingredients speak for themselves.

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Japanese Chashu

My family gathers for meals every week. My grandma toils for hours in a hot kitchen to produce a banquet for all of us (think Eat Drink Man Woman. Really). When I was much younger, my grandma would always tell me to eat all the rice in my bowl. She said that for every grain left, my future husband would have that same amount of pimples/scars on his face. This meant if I didn’t finish the 5 grains in my rice bowl, my future husband would have 5 pimples/scars on his face. I suppose the rice bowl represented his face.

Fast forward 15-20 years: Wednesday night dinner – Chashu on rice. This is not to be mistaken for Chinese Char Siu. Chashu is often enjoyed atop a steaming hot bowl of ramen. Chashu may be the Japanese version of Char Siu (Chinese barbecued pork) but the two could not be less alike – the ingredients and cooking technique are worlds apart.

Essentially, Chashu is pork that is braised over low heat for no less than an hour, so that the meat becomes incredibly tender. I used this recipe because I had all the ingredients on-hand and the method seemed simple enough.

My only variation was that I added a stalk of spring onion (green onion) to the braising liquid. 5 minutes into braising and the wonderful aromas of the ginger, garlic, spring onion and mirin wafted through my apartment. There was no way this was not going to taste good. I was right.

Chinese are full of superstitions. Whenever I eat rice, I still feel like that little girl, and tonight, I gobbled every last grain in my bowl.

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