Stir-Fried Pork Belly with Kimchi

Thinking of recipe names or rather, cool recipe names, isn’t my forte. But here’s another of my recipe that is extremely easy to follow! All you need is just a few ingredients, seasoning, and about 20-25 minutes to spare (excluding the marinade).

What you’ll need:
– A slab of pork belly, 1 kg
– Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
– Gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
– Kimchi (Get the ripened ones if possible!)
– Salt
– Pepper
– Onions, sliced
– Garlic, finely chopped
– Sesame Oil
– Carrots and cucumbers, julienned

To marinate:

  1. Slice the pork belly into bite-sized pieces and place them in a large bowl.
  2. Add salt, pepper, gochujang, gochugaru, garlic, and sesame oil. Mix well!
  3. Put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

To cook:

  1. Heat up a large pan with a slightly deep base and add 2 – 3 tbsp of oil.
  2. Fry the meat until both sides are seared nicely.
  3. Add the onions and fry until it softens. When that is done, add the kimchi and fry for about 5 – 10 minutes more.
  4. You can add either water or stock. Stock is very much preferred as it adds even more flavour to it!
  5. Let it bubble away for 15 – 20 minutes.
  6. Serve it immediately with a bowl of rice, some julienned carrots and cucumbers on the top.
  7. Happy days.

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Oven-Roasted Drumsticks with Garlic and Rosemary

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If you’re hosting a dinner for say, 10 people, chicken drumsticks are pretty easy to work with. You save the trouble of roasting a whole chicken and also, you don’t get equal portions of meat per person. As mentioned on my Instagram post, here’s the recipe!

Ingredients (I have omitted the numbers. Adjust accordingly!)

  • Chicken drumsticks
  • Garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Lemon, sliced
  • Smoked paprika
  • Dried rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • White onions, chopped

Steps:

  1. Chicken should be at room temperature – easier to handle as it won’t be very stiff.
  2. Score the meat with a sharp knife – this allows the marinade to penetrate deeper.
  3. Marinate the chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, garlic cloves, paprika and lemon slices. Keep the chickens in a large Ziploc bag if you have one, or a plastic container that is big enough. [I marinated mine for at least 3 hours.]
  4. 30 minutes before cooking, take the meat out and pre-heat your oven to “full whack”, or the maximum temperature. Place a deep glass dish into the oven to heat it up.
  5. Add oil into the glass dish, add the chopped onions, and place the chicken (skin side up) + everything else in the marinade, on top of the onions. Bring the temperature down to about 200°C and let it cook for about 30 – 40 minutes. Remember to always baste.
  6. Once the meat is almost cooked, bring the dish up towards the upper levels of your oven and allow the skin to crisp up.
  7. Serve and EAT immediately!

Note: If you have leftover gravy, toss some pasta (of your choice) in it. Or, mix some gravy with a little balsamic vinegar and drizzle it over some salad leaves e.g. rocket/arugula/radicchio etc.

 

La Nonna

‘Nonna’ is the Italian word for grandmother. Grandmothers are highly revered in Italy because of their food! It is unpretentious, traditional and of course, delicious. Here in Holland Village, La Nonna aims to serve a hearty meal to enjoy with good company.

When you’re at La Nonna, you must definitely order their signature wood oven-baked pizza – one that starts with a tomato sauce base, spread with black truffle paste, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, strips of asparagus, and topped with an egg right in the centre of the pizza. This reminded me of my summer holidays spent in Italy where every meal was either pizza or pasta. One might get sick or ‘jelat‘ after every meal but it was very enjoyable.

I am a big fan of thin-crust pizza as it is not very filling, and you get maximum pleasure out of the ingredients. On the other hand, normal pizza crust is too thick and every bite gives you more dough than the toppings.

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Next would be their homemade Pappardelle with an oxtail ragout and rosemary. I’ve been really fortunate to get al dente pasta every single time I order a pasta dish and this meal was no different. The oxtail ragout was packed with flavour from the hours of stewing and the slight acidity from the tomato sauce certainly helps bring out the flavour even more. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough bread for the chance of scarpetta.

Scarpetta
I was introduced to the concept of scarpetta in Rome by one of the best waiters I’ve ever met. Most of the times after finishing a pasta dish, copious amounts of sauce will be left in the serving dish/bowl. This will then be cleared by the service staff and thrown away, which is a waste! Scarpetta simply involves cleaning up or wiping up the remaining sauce with a piece of bread from the bread basket.

Nevertheless, the food was lovely, the staff were attentive especially to both our water and wine glasses thus making the whole experience enjoyable!

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Address:
26/26B Lorong Mambong,
Singapore 277685

Nearest MRT:
Holland Village MRT Station (CC21)

Opening Hours:
Lunch | 12.00-14.30 (Mon-Sun)
Dinner | 18.00-22.30 (Sun-Thu)
Dinner | 18.00-23.00 (Fri-Sat)
Times taken from their website here.

*If you are using the Entertainer app, do note that the 1-for-1 deal only applies to their main course. Pasta and pizza are not included. [Mentioned by their staff on the day of visit.]

**From 6PM – 8PM, you can order a bottle of Prosecco with a complimentary side of assorted Italian Sausages, Bruschetta or Calamari!

 

Roasted Garlic Sour Cream

Another recipe to mark the last day of 2017! Potatoes are pretty much a frequent staple in parties. Roasted, boiled, mashed, on a pie, deep-fried into chips etc. These are great methods to cook them but what about the sauces? Chilli and Ketchup are common favourites but they might get boring after a while.

I’ve improvised a sour cream recipe that was inspired by Nigel Slater. His Salmon and Roasted Garlic Cream recipe involves blending double cream together with roasted garlic and ladling the mixture over salmon that are on crispbreads.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 garlic cloves, skins on
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • Approx 1 tbsp lemon juice, to taste
  • Grated lemon zest
  • A small tub of sour cream (200ml)

Steps:

  1. Roast the garlic in a 180°C oven until it is soft.
  2. Spoon out the sour cream into a medium-sized bowl. Mix it gently to loosen the cream.
  3. Squeeze the roasted garlic into the sour cream and dispose of the skins. Make sure you mash the garlic.
  4. Add the lemon juice, zest, salt, and pepper.
  5. Mix well.
  6. Eat it with boiled potatoes, spread it on bread with egg slices and bacon, use it in salads too!

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This is extremely easy to make, full of flavour, and can be totally customised. To make it more luxurious, add a few drops of truffle oil to give it “boomz”. This can be used as an appetizer: a bowl of it in the centre of the table with breadsticks around it, or a dollop of cream over smoked salmon.

Tender Pork Chops!

There are times when you head out for Western food and you find that the pork chops are either overcooked, lacking in flavour, too thin or worse, undercooked. However, one of the methods that will ensure a tender chop is brining. Brining is to treat food with a salt solution for a period of time before consuming or cooking them. Salt + water is the foundation of the brining solution, but the solution can be flavoured with various spices as well as fruit.

I made these chops a while back. The recipe is posted on Instagram but I figured that I type it out proper on my site so that it is easier to refer to!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of water
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • A few garlic cloves
  • Peppercorns
  • Herbs of your choice (Sage and Rosemary works best, IMO)
  • Lemon zest (I have not tried orange zest but I believe it will work well too.)

Steps:

  1. Heat up 1 cup of water (don’t let it boil), and add the salt to dissolve.
  2. Add the flavouring of your choice. In my case, I added lemon zest, garlic cloves, peppercorns, rosemary, and star anise.
  3. Pour in the rest of the water and let the herbs and spices infuse.
  4. Once the water has cooled down a bit, pour it over the pork chops in a large bowl.
  5. Cover with foil and let it sit in the fridge. I brined my pork chops for a good 6 hours.
  6. Pan-fry them for 3-3.5 minutes per side.
  7. Results are shown below 🙂

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Brining is not limited to pork chops. You can brine a whole chicken/turkey for a few hours before you roast it to ensure a succulent bird. Chicken breast can be a nasty cut of meat as it tends to dry up if not cooked properly thus brining is a good method.

Try it!

Croissant [Bread] & Butter Pudding!

Yes it’s the festive season. Yes it’s nearing the end of 2017. Yes it’s Christmas!

(Well, 2 days ago it was)

I’ve always told my friends that baking wasn’t my thing, and that cooking is much more flexible as you can taste and season your food as you go along. I wasn’t a big fan of measuring ingredients e.g. 50g of butter, 200g of flour etc. Then I realized baking isn’t that tough after making this dish!

Bread and butter pudding is a pudding that is very popular in British cuisine. The concept is to layer slices of buttered bread, scattered with raisins, into an oven dish. A custard made by mixing eggs, cream, sugar and milk, normally seasoned with nutmeg as well as vanilla, is poured over the bread mixture. It is then baked and served with custard or cream.

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I’ve adapted my version from Nigella Lawson’s Bread & Butter Pudding Recipe. Instead of using bread, I’ve opted for croissants as these are packed with butter which will give me a crisp exterior. Oh! Serve with vanilla ice-cream!

Ingredients:
3 eggs
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 cup milk (do not use low fat)
1 cup cream
(1/2 – 1 tsp of vanilla extract)
(Nutmeg)
5 – 6 croissants
50g butter
A handful of raisins

Steps:

  1. Slice the croissants and toast them until slightly crisp. Once the croissant slices are done, tip them into a oven dish along with the raisins.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (356 F).
  3. Mix the eggs, milk, cream, sugar into a large bowl.
  4. Melt the butter over low heat and pour it into the milk mixture while whisking.
  5. Pour the mixture into the croissant-filled oven dish.
  6. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Some things to take note of:

  • Vanilla extract and ground nutmeg was not used as I did not have time to get it but these are the must-use ingredients as it really lifts the flavour of the entire pudding.
  • This recipe can be adjusted if you have more people coming for a party e.g. more croissants, eggs, cream etc.
  • Raisins can be soaked in Marsala (like what Nigella did) or rum!
  • Instead of raisins, you can use bananas.
  • Addictive

Kok Sen Restaurant

Is good food worth queuing for? I would think so! Kok Sen Restaurant has probably become a possible favourite zi char restaurant for me! Keong Saik Road was a known red-light district in the early days but it has transformed into a bustling street of great cafes and restaurants as well. Kok Sen was recommended by my classmate so the few of us decided on this place for dinner.

According to Daniel’s Food Diary, they were listed in the Singapore Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2016 and 2017! He also mentioned that queues and waiting times were getting longer too. But yes, if it is so highly recommended, I must try it too!

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Queues start on the outside of the restaurant, towards the right. Staff will ask the standard question of “How many people are there in your group?”. Be prepared to share a table with other diners and I believe they are doing that so as to reduce the waiting time.

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Packed even on a Tuesday night!

We had the Braised Ribs with Bittergourd in Black Bean Sauce which was amazing. The meat was tender from the long braising, and the harshness of the bittergourd was mellowed because of the rich but flavourful sauce.

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A must-have would be their Claypot Yong Tau Foo. You’ll be able to spot your friendly vegetables: Eggplant, beancurd, and chilli. Their filling is a mixture of fish and prawn paste, and it had a rustic charm to it because it was not pounded to a fine paste like other Yong Tau Foos. Oh one more thing, it’s served bubbling hot!

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And who can ever forget the usual Kangkong? I’m a fan of both the Sambal Kangkong and the normal (清炒) version that is fried with garlic. It was good, but there was a slight absence of the familiar wok hei you can taste whenever you order this dish.

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Finally the last dish: Kung Bao Frogs’ Legs! It is a spicy stir-fried Chinese dish that is normally made with chicken as many people know it by its Chinese name: 宫保鸡丁 (Gong Bao Chicken). Meat was tender, no doubt about it. The slightly charred dried chilli gave this dish a smokey aroma and a nice kick to it.

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Address:
30 Keong Saik Rd
Singapore 089137

Nearest MRT:
Outram Park MRT Station (EW16)

Opening Hours:
Mondays – Sundays: 12:00PM – 2:00PM, 5:00PM – 11:00PM

Sandwich Saigon

Singapore is a melting pot of different cultures and food, and Vietnamese cuisine is one that I don’t get tired of. It’s not difficult to find Vietnamese food on this island. However, finding good ones is a different story. You’ll find this small shop along the stretch of East Coast Road opposite 112 Katong.

It’s not a huge restaurant so take note if you intend to come here with a big group of people. Seats are out at the front, and you place your orders using a menu sheet before paying at the back.

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I chose the Pho Dac Biet (Beef Pho Special), which had sliced sirloin, brisket, and beef balls. On the other hand, my friend chose their Pho Ga (Chicken Noodle Soup). Both pho dishes came with beansprouts (you can ask for more), basil, and lime. They are generous with their ingredients so if you want more vegetables you can request for more at no charge. Broth was light but flavourful! It was quite reminiscent of the bowls of pho I had when I was in Vietnam for two weeks for an overseas community service project. The slices of beef were allowed to poach ever so gently in their hot broth so that it cooks perfectly.

I would suggest trying the broth without adding anything so that you can taste the actual flavour. They serve Sriracha Chilli at their tables so add as much or as little as you wish and be informed that it is much spicier than the Srirachas that you normally get at supermarkets.

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Also, how could anyone resist the spring rolls? We ordered the prawn spring rolls – containing prawn (of course), thick rice noodles, shallots, mint, and basil leaves – accompanied by a sweet sauce that goes well with the roll.

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So if you’re walking along East Coast Road or somewhere in Katong, check this place out! And, if you’re craving for dessert after dinner, head over to Birds of Paradise Gelato Boutique!

Address:
93 East Coast Rd,
Singapore 428792

Nearest MRT:
Dakota MRT Station (CC8)
Take bus 10/32 and stop opposite Roxy Square.

Opening Hours:
Mondays – Sundays: 11:30AM – 3:30PM, 5:30PM – 11:00PM

The Gogi – Korean BBQ @ Alexandra Central Mall

Gogi (고기) means “meat” in Korean and that was what took centre stage at The Gogi, a Korean BBQ restaurant on the third floor of Alexandra Central Mall, a relatively new mall that sits right next to IKEA Alexandra. It’s difficult to miss as it stands out with its uniquely curved design!

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When you’re at the entrance of the restaurant, you’ll notice that the interior has striking similarities to those in Korea. Suction vents stretching down from the ceiling to the BBQ grill, small round tables with round seats that have removable tops which allows the storage of belongings, and of course the friendly “안녕하세요” (Annyeonghasaeyo) from the staff!

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We were shown to our table by the friendly lady boss, who promptly laid down 5 menus for us. Within minutes, the banchan (반찬), or side dishes, came. Mung bean sprouts with lettuce, fishcakes, kimchi, pickled radish, and a marinated cold tofu. The variety was quite limited, but they were indeed very enjoyable.

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The grill is a combination of charcoal and a gas burner – the gas burner starts the fire which in turn lights up the charcoal till it’s red-hot and ready for the grill plate.

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The grill consists of 4 wells, two short ones for garlic, and the longer ones for beaten egg.

For Korean BBQ, you have a choice of 6 sets (A – E) or the a la carte menu. We chose Set D (S$119) which consisted of Sirloin, Prime Ribs, Marinated Beef, Seasoned Pork, and a choice of either Kimchi Jjigae OR Doenjang Jjigae. For the Kimchi Jjigae we added ramen for an additional cost of approximately $5. It was a warm, hearty, and spicy dish – satisfaction in a pot.

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Kimchi Jjigae with and added side of ramen in it.

How can anyone forget Kimchi Pancake? This restaurant serves one that is thick but still retains its crispy exterior. Did I mention it is Kimchi Pancake with Pork? Truly delectable and flavoursome. The dipping sauce had vinegar in it but it was not intrusive, well-balanced with soy sauce and the aroma of sesame oil.

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Prime Beef Ribs

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Premium Sirloin

If you’re done with furniture shopping at IKEA, or hungry after a couple of hours at Queensway Shopping Centre, head over to The Gogi at Alexandra Central Mall for an overdose of meat and a few drinks!

Address:
321 Alexandra Road, #03-01,
Alexandra Central, Singapore 159971

Nearest MRT:
Queenstown MRT Station (EW19)
Redhill MRT Station (EW18)

The mall is next to IKEA Alexandra and diagonally opposite Anchorpoint.

Opening Hours:
Mondays – Saturdays: 11:30AM – 3PM, 5:30PM – 10:00PM
Sundays: 5:30 – 10:00PM

Chinatown Eats!

One thing I love about Chinatown is the sights, sounds, and of course the smell of good food! The best part of heading to People’s Park Complex Food Centre is that it’s really convenient as the entrance to the MRT Station is right next it! Once you’re out of the station, you’ll be able to see the food centre almost immediately. You are spoilt for choice once you’re in there but I’m proud to say that I’ve got my two favourite stalls (FOR NOW).

With a rich history of at least 60 years, Tian Jin Fong Kee has been operating since the late 1940s till this very day. One of their star dishes would be their dumplings. You can have it either boiled or fried, though I would very much prefer the latter, with an ice-cold beer. The dumplings are made by hand, from the dough to the filling.

When pan fried, these dumplings have a crisp exterior, and an interior that is so juicy. But be careful when you bite into it as the meat juices might squirt out! My way to eat it is to dip it in vinegar, drape some julienned ginger over the dumpling and the whole thing goes into your mouth. At $6 for 10 dumplings, it is a pretty good deal!

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On the other hand, if you’re quite adventurous and a lover of spicy food, you might want to try out Mala Xiangguo (麻辣香锅), also known as “spicy numbing stir-fry pot”. In one bowl, you get a plethora of ingredients which would include different types of meat, offal, and a whole lot of vegetables, cooked in a spicy broth. Your dish can be customized to your liking, namely: the spiciness level, and dry/soupy. You can also ask them to make it less numbing for your mouth if you wish.

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The soupy version as shown below. You might find it too oily, so you can always skim the oil off if you’re itching for some soup.

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The dry one is as good. However, as the sauce has reduced by quite a fair bit, the flavours tend to concentrate and it could become a little salty for our palates.

Some of my mandatory ingredients to go into this are: Napa cabbage, beef, pork, tripe, lotus roots, oyster mushrooms, kangkong (aka water spinach), and luncheon meat. I’ve got friends and colleagues that are big fans of processed meat, and yes, they have it! Sausages, luncheon meat, mock crab meat etc.

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Don’t really eat spicy food? Don’t worry, you can start off with the lowest level, and you can request for the dish not to be numb, which means they’ll lay off the Szechuan pepper corns. But it’s a dish that I would recommend to anyone coming here for the first time!

Address:
32 New Market Road
Singapore 050032

Nearest MRT:
Chinatown MRT Station (NE4/DT19)
Exit C