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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Burnt Onions

Beautiful Burnt Onions

I never thought one of my previous kitchen ‘mishaps’ would be covered in a nyt article. Caramelised onions are something I make all the time. Of course, when the cooking goes slightly past caramelised, parts of the onions take on a blackish tinge. In the past, when burnt onions happened to me, I’d still eat them anyway, but they were never the ‘final destination’.

There isn’t a recipe for this, more like a method, a la Mark Bittman. For caramelised onions, I would go low and slow all the way, and add flavour bit by bit, like a touch of sugar, salt, dried herbs, pepper… But Bittman says to start on a medium-high heat so that the onions sizzle when they hit the pan.

There’s something about the burnt, literally bitter-sweet bits. These are so versatile – over pasta, rice, in a burger, or do like I did and use them to bulk up a salad. Next time I’ll burn those a touch more.

Caramelised onions are so yesterday. Burn ‘em!

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Spicy Salmon Patties

Salmon patties? Salmon croquettes? Salmon cakes? I’d go with patties. I think these have southern roots, or at least that’s what I infer from a recipe search. This was my first attempt at salmon patties. I pretty much made up the recipe as I went along, and it turned out really good. These don’t have a southern flair, or an Asian flair.

I tried to be diplomatic.

I skinned a salmon fillet and pan-fried it separately. I love crispy salmon skin. Then I chopped the fish meat fairly roughly and mixed it with a bunch of other good things. I’m writing this recipe for the benefit of anyone who wants to try these babies. Of course, you could omit the chilli, but then they’d just be, erm, salmon patties. Doesn’t sound so exciting, does it?

Spicy Salmon Patties

serves 1

1 salmon fillet (about 150g), raw, skinned and chopped

1 scallion (a.k.a. green/spring onion), chopped

1 egg

1 fresh red bird’s eye chilli, chopped

½ cup breadcrumbs

½-1 tsp salt

pepper, to taste

Heat a frypan/skillet to medium-high heat.

In a large bowl, combine chopped salmon, scallion, egg, chilli, salt and pepper.

Add breadcrumbs.

The salmon mixture should be quite wet so that the patties will stay moist after they’ve cooked.

The pan should be hot now. Drizzle in oil.

Using your hands, scoop out half the mixture into the hot pan, pressing it down slightly (think drop-cookies). Repeat with other half.

Fry for 1 minute. Do not move them around so they develop a nice crust.

Flip over and fry for another minute. Be careful not to overcook them or they will be dry. Serve with a wedge of lemon.

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La Bete Noire

Aptly coined “The Black Beast”, this cake more than lives up to its translation. It’s incredulous that something that requires so few ingredients and such easy preparation could be so insanely delectable.

I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a cake that has been positively reviewed by so many. Hence, it was without trepidation that I chose to make the ‘beast’ over the weekend for my aunt’s birthday. It seemed fitting since she and the rest of us are chocolate fiends.

To date, this is undoubtedly the richest chocolate cake I have ever made and is not to be trifled with. The texture is like pure chocolate ganache and a thin sliver was really all anyone could handle. Even the richest cheesecake would pale in comparison.

Funny thing is, everyone’s utterance on their first bite was, oh my gawwwwwd, which led me to believe it was a little too heavy for their palates. Alas, their plates licked clean said everything my little baker-heart wanted to hear, or see.

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Peanut Butter Banana Honey Toast

I won’t dispute that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Heck, I think I’m one of those freaks who is hungry the second he jumps out of bed. Even if I have to get up at 6am or some ungodly hour, I’m instantly starving.

This was borne out of a bare refrigerator, and this. Have you ever seen anything that insanely delicious? Okay, don’t answer that.

Sliced bananas atop a thick slathering of peanut butter on hot toast. And as if that weren’t luscious enough, a little drizzling of honey. The bananas were sweet enough but the honey really kicks it up a notch. This ain’t the breakfast of champions, but it sure is pretty darn close.

Come on now, tell me you don’t wanna sink your teeth into that.

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Moroccan-Spiced Salmon

I think most people find it hard to do much after a long day of work. I must admit, a lot of times I just want to go home and slump on the couch and not do anything but watch tv for the rest of the night.

Today wasn’t one of those days. Grocery shopping is one thing I love doing, no matter how exhausted I am. Once I step into a market, I feel a rush, and the only hurry I’m in is to run home and cook what I’ve just bought. It’s silly, but I honestly get excited about food a lot.

I saw some really fresh salmon fillets, and instantly knew what how I was going to cook them: Morrocan-spiced salmon.

It really sounds more exotic than it is. I cheated and used one of those seasoning salts. It’s really good stuff! Hey, I’m human. I needed something quick. So shoot me.

I honestly don’t know how or why some people buy salmon with the skin removed. Why, oh, why??? The crispy skin is the best part of the salmon!

I had some king oyster mushrooms so I panned them with the salmon. I like tasting mushroom without it being masked by heavier flavours so I kept it simple. The entire meal took less than 5 minutes from chopping board to pan to plate.

Really, really good. Thank you, bottled-seasoning-salts.

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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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