Salt and pepper flounder

This is another common dish you’ll find at a Hong Kong style restaurant. As soon as you bite into that seasoned crispy batter and moist flaking meat you’ll understand why it’s so popular. The key to this dish is simplicity. There’s nothing much to it but everything works so well together. My favourite part is the vibrant garnish of fried garlic, ginger, green onion and chili which adds that extra boost of intense flavour.

This was my first attempt and I was quite pleased by the result. Perfect with a bowl of rice.

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Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2.5 tbsp self raising flour
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • 1 tbsp of water
  • Cornflour
  • 1 flounder
  • Oil for frying
  • 2 spring onion sliced roughly
  • 2-3 chilies chopped roughly seeds removed
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped finely
  • a small knob of ginger chopped finely

Salt mixture

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chicken powder
  • Dash of 5 spice
  • Dash of ground coriander
  • sprinkle of sugar

Steps

  1. Prep fish and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Mix flour with oil until paste forms. Mix oil little by little.
  3. Add in water little by little until thickish lava like batter forms
  4. Coat fish in batter. It may be more practical to spread the batter over the fish.
  5. Lightly coat fish in corn flour, doesn’t matter if its a bit patchy
  6. Heat oil in pan on medium to high heat.
  7. Lift fish and place into oil. Don’t touch it and let it crisp up.
  8. After frying for around 5 minutes flip and fry for another 6 minutes. Our pan didn’t fit the fish entirely so you may need to shift it around to make sure all parts are cooked through. Using two spatulas helped.
  9. Take out fish and place on presenting plate
  10. Heat a little of the remaining oil in a small saucepan or wok on high heat. Add in garlic and ginger. Mix around regularly to prevent burning.
  11. After the ginger and garlic are just starting to turn golden brown, place in chili and spring onion. Mix around for a bit until garlic and ginger have turned gold. Take out immediately and drain on paper towel.
  12. Scatter the drained mixture ontop of fried fish.
  13. Combine salt mixture ingredients and taste. Then sprinkle lightly and evenly over fish.
  14. Serve and enjoy!

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Fried squid with salted egg yolk

Squid is such a versatile seafood, it can be prepared a number of ways and goes well with so many different ingredients. My favourite squid dish to make is salt and pepper as it’s simple yet flavoursome. Recently though, I enjoyed a salted egg yolk version at a popular Shanghainese restaurant in Ashfield. The specks of salty yolk provided an extra layer of flavour to the already crunchy tender squid and made an awesome combination. Having said that, it is also probably one of the most cholesterol packing dishes out there..squid already is a high cholesterol food but then add on fried batter, yolks and butter… it may be best to stick to a few pieces…if you can 😛

But I couldn’t resist trying to make this at home and I’m pretty pleased with the result. Other than using more yolks next time it tasted pretty much like how I wanted.

DSC_0305Here’s the recipe. It makes a medium sized platter for sharing

Ingredients

  • I used 1 but advise to use 2 salted egg or duck egg yolk (buy them from asian grocers)
  • 3 fresh squids cleaned, scored and cut into rough triangles. Cut up tentacles too
  • 3 tbsp self raising flour
  • 1.5 tbsp oil for batter
  • ~2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp corn flour
  • 4-5 tbsp oil for shallow frying
  • 1.5 tsp butter
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1 green onion chopped roughly
  • 1 chilli sliced thinly
  • Optional: add some fried garlic (fry them after the squid) for extra crunch and flavour

Steps

  1. Steam egg yolks for ~10 minutes until just about cooked. Once cool enough to handle, mash up into tiny bits
  2. Mix self raising flour with oil until a thick paste forms (you may want to try 1 tbsp of oil at a time and add more if needed).
  3. Add in water little by little until like pancake batter consistency.
  4. Place squid into mixture.
  5. Heat frying oil on medium to high heat in pan. Meanwhile coat squid with cornflour
  6. Once oil is hot scatter in squid evenly making sure they don’t clump too much together. You may want to pan fry in batches.
  7. Let it brown and crisp on one side before flipping and moving the squid. You may want to agitate the pan to keep the squid moving around to brown most of the surface. Fry for around 2 minutes
  8. Take out and drain on paper once done.
  9. Heat butter in another pan/wok on medium heat
  10. Once melted and stopped foaming, add in mashed egg yolk mix thoroughly around and keep trying to mash up the yolk in the butter.
  11. Once the yolk/butter mixture is foaming a bit, add in squid and toss around evenly making sure all the squid is able to get a bit of that yolk.
  12. Taste a small piece and season with salt/pepper if needed
  13. Add in chilli and green onion then toss a little bit more then dish out. Enjoy!

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Cooking when traveling

Recently I went away with my family to Tasmania, and although we did taste and enjoy a lot of the produce on offer we also cooked a lot of our meals. While the ‘kitchen’ facilities were bare minimum, I did not want to resort to instant noodles, so I set out to cook delicious and efficient meals with minimal wastage.

I found that it was better to stick to around 3 ‘base’ ingredients like couscous, rice, pasta etc.. things that can be easily microwaved/boiled and lend itself to different flavours. Certain ‘star’ ingredients were then bought to accompany each dinner.. local fresh produce of course.

With rice I made

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prawn risotto

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massaman curry

And with couscous I served it with some trevally and prawns

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As expected, Tasmania’s seafood is incredibly fresh and if you know where to go, cheap as well ($7/kilo mussels and $19/kilo trevally). These mussels were tender and their juices combined with a bit of cream provided a mop worthy sauce.

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Although there are seafood outlets in the touristy Hobart wharf areas, the Island Markets in the northern suburb of Moonah offered fresh veges and seafood at a low price.

I think we saved a lot by cooking in our accomodation and were able to spend on other experiences/things. It is definitely an option and I don’t feel like we sacrificed for taste. I think I’ll do the next post on our travels and some of delicious food on offer on Bruny island.

Soy glazed barramundi

When I was making Marsala chicken a couple of posts ago, I found that if you coat the meat in flour before pan frying it, the resulting outer crust becomes an ideal sauce-absorber and retains a lot of flavour. While this may not be news to some… I am still learning and picking up techniques in the kitchen.

So in my profound realisation 😛 , I decided to do this with a barramundi cutlet my mum bought earlier from the fishmonger. Usually I like fish steamed, but since the cutlet was a little fishy I thought a glaze would have given it a robust flavour to counteract any potential aftertaste.  The glaze itself was a slightly sweet and sticky soy concoction and coated the barramundi nicely with the help of the crust.

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I haven’t had barramundi many times before, but it is a delicious fish, the flesh is moist and flakes easily and lends itself well to the soy glaze.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 Barramundi cutlet (fillets will work just fine)
  • Salt and white pepper
  • Enough plain flour to coat the cutlet lightly on both sides
  • 1.5-2 tbsp of oil for panfrying

Soy glaze

  • 2 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 2 tsp of shaoxing wine or sherry
  • 0.5 tsp chicken powder or 1 tbsp stock
  • 1 tbsp water if you aren’t using stock

Finishing garnishes

  • 1 cm of ginger finely julienned
  • 1 tbsp of spring onion chopped finely
  • 2 birds eye chilli chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp of oil can use some neutral oil
  • 0.5 tsp sesame oil

Steps

  1. Clean your barramundi, make sure there’s no scales
  2. Dry it and season with salt and pepper
  3. Coat it lightly with plain flour
  4. Pre-mix all the glaze ingredients in a bowl.
  5. Heat oil in pan on medium heat and carefully place in barramundi. Pan fry for 5-7 min on one side (if you have a thinner fillet then lessen your time)
  6. Turn fish and pan fry again for 5-7 min.
  7. Also remember to fry the sides if there’s skin, that way you can crispy it up.
  8. When the fish is almost almost done, turn down the heat and place in the ginger.
  9. Straight after that, pour in the glaze ingredients near and on top of the fish.
  10. Let the liquid simmer off a little from the heat and then move the barramundi into the glaze and coat the underside.
  11. Turn over and coat the other side. You may want to let the glaze caramelize a little into the fish (i.e., ~1min in the pan)
  12. Take fish out and place on plate. Garnish with spring onion and chilli
  13. Get a new smallish pan or pot and heat oil and sesame oil until hot.
  14. Pour oil on top of the spring onion and chilli to let it cook a little
  15. Serve and enjoy with some rice!

Green mango salad

Although it looked delicious, my take on Luke Nguyen’s mango salad didn’t go too well. I think it came down to the green mango being too ripe and soft. Because of this, the salad wasn’t very crunchy. For the dressing, it tasted delicious on its own with a bit of sourness but when added to the mango it was way too sour. I also didn’t have most of herbs listed in the recipe.. I think they would have helped balance out the sourness and added the necessary freshness to the salad.

However, it was still something special that I’ve never had before and would try and perfect for next time. Especially as it heats up in Australia, this salad would be a great accompaniment to your bbqs.

For those making it themselves, I would probably get firmer unripe mangoes. I got mine from woolworths lol…. you might have to go to Cabramatta for some good ones. Also pick up some of those herbs listed while you’re there. Hope yours turns out better!

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Pan fried salmon with black bean sauce

Sometimes a simple dish with one or two elements done ‘perfectly’ is better than one with many mediocre elements.

This salmon dish is one of those simpler dishes where if you get the salmon cooked just right, and the sauce adjusted to the right balance of flavour, you will be very satisfied. The slightly pungent fermented black beans matches really well with the subtle flavours of the salmon. Many people would probably think that a strong sauce would overpower a fish like salmon, but I think it accompanies it really well. Overall, it doesn’t take too much time to cook which is good because I am right in the midst of an exam block :/ but I’ve heard omega 3 really helps memory so that alright then… i think. Anyways, here’s a picture of the salmon

Here’s an innards shot of the pink meat. I realised that the photo above doesn’t look too appetising, looks like a slab of brown something

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Hmm the photos really don’t look good, I will have to look into fixing that after my exams

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1  fillet of salmon with skin on
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped finely
  • 1-2 cm ginger chopped finely
  • 0.5 tsp of salt
  • Grind of pepper
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • 2-3 tbsp fermented black beans chopped up roughly
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1 long red chilli
  • Dash of Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • Some sugar
  • Dash of oyster sauce
  • Dash of sesame oil
  • 1 tsp corn flour
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 green onion sliced finely

Steps

  1. Season salmon with salt and pepper, add a bit more salt on the skin because it makes it extra crispy
  2. Heat oil in pan on medium to high heat and place salmon in skin first
  3. Fry for around 4 min. You should be able to see the salmon change colour on the side. When you see the colour change up to half way flip the fillet and fry for another 4 minutes.. It really depends on the size of the fillet and the level of heat. You may have to cut it a bit open to see whether it is actually cooked. However keep in mind that seafood continues to cook after you take it off the heat, so if it is just about done, you should take it out.
  4. With the pan still on heat (you can turn it down to low-medium) add the ginger, garlic, chilli and black beans. Fry for a a bit without burning it
  5. Add a dash of shaoxing wine and let that cook off a bit, then add the  stock, soy sauce and oyster sauce and bring to a gentle boil. Taste and see whether you need to add any salt and pepper. You will need to add some sugar. Remember to keep tasting every time you add something. And remember to add things in smaller amounts if you are not confident… you don’t want to ruin your sauce with an overload of salt/sugar.
  6. Once your sauce is to your preferred balance of flavour add a little bit of sesame oil, it really finishes it off nicely
  7. Mix the cornflour and water and add to sauce whilst mixing. Once it has thickened and the sauce has heated up again (not too much) then take off heat.
  8. I presented the salmon skin down because it would be easier to take apart, but if you really want to savour the crispy salmon skin then present it facing up.
  9. Pour the sauce ontop or around the salmon. Trust me you will need the same amount of sauce as in the photo to accompany the salmon and to mop up with your rice that you serve with it.
  10. Add the spring onions on top and serve with rice

Prawn again

I had some prawns left over from last night and couldn’t really think of what to make.. but then I decided to experiment and came up with this sweet chilli prawn dish. This was quite an easy recipe as I had most of the ingredients already in my pantry. To add an extra layer of texture, I battered and fried the prawns first before coating it in the tangy sweet chilli sauce mmm.. the texture is actually not unlike that of buffalo wings 😀

Those square things are pieces of fried tofu. They are really good in soaking up all the sweet chilli sauce. I actually didn’t want to add any cucumber pieces, but my mum had some left over and didn’t want to waste it so she scattered them everywhere. However, they do add a bit of crunch and ‘greenness’ to the dish

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So here’s the recipe

Ingredients

For frying the prawns

  • 12 prawns deshelled and slit slightly down the back
  • 2-3 tbsp self raising flour
  • 1-2 tbsp oil (i used olive)
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • pinch pepper
  • 1-1.5 tbsp cornflour
  • 4 tbsp of oil

Sauce

  • Minced 1 tbsp of garlic and 0.5 tbsp of ginger
  • 1-2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce, I used the amoy brand
  • 3/4 tbsp of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water or chicken stock
  • pinch of salt
  • pepper
  • 1 green onion chopped up
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1-2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp corn flour
  • 1tbsp water

Steps

  1. Mix self raising flour with 1-2 tbsp of oil until it is paste-like. Then add in the 1-2 tbsp of water until you get a light batter that is not too viscous but also not too watery.. hmm almost like pancake batter
  2. Add in a pinch of pepper then the prawns mixing them so they all get an even coating.
  3. Add the 1-1.5 tbsp of cornflour and mix lightly. Just make sure there’s no clumps
  4. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat and then add in the prawns. Even though the prawns aren’t deep fried, shallow frying them will suffice to provide a satisfying crispy layer. Turn the prawns regularly until the batter is crisp and the prawns are pinkish white. It took me around 1-2 minutes. Do not overcook!!! take them out once they’re done
  5. If there’s too much oil in the pan, pour some out, we only want around 2 tbsp left
  6. Add in the garlic and ginger to the pan (on medium heat)
  7. Fry for a bit, but don’t burn it
  8. Add in chicken stock and let it come to a boil
  9. Add in sweet chilli sauce, tomato, soy and oyster sauce. Mix them around
  10. Let it come to a gentle simmer/boil again.
  11. Taste and add in salt, sugar, pepper if needed
  12. Mix cornflour with water and pour into sauce whilst mixing
  13. Once it is thickened, add prawns back into sauce and add in green onions as well.
  14. Make sure the prawns are coated in the sauce
  15. Serve and enjoy!

Note: if you want to add tofu pieces, add them whilst making the sauce

Crumbed prawns

Woo more seafood tonight!!

Decided to make crumbed prawns and crispy prawn heads mmmmm.. nose to tail eating, seafood style!

The crumbed prawns were yummy although I couldn’t get the sides of the prawn to brown more. Nevertheless, it tasted delicious with some thousand island dressing I made by mixing mayonnaise, tomato sauce and a bit of chilli powder. Here’s a photo to tantalize your senses 🙂

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So the recipe is pretty simple. If you’ve made chicken schnitzels before, you can do this easily. I also added in some parsley for that extra flavour.

Ingredients

500 gm prawns peeled, leaving the tails

Handful of breadcrumbs

Handful of plain flour

1 beaten egg

pinch of salt

pinch of pepper

Around 6-8 leaves of parsley finely chopped

3 tbsp oil

Steps

  1. Mix bread crumbs with parsley, salt and pepper
  2. Take a prawn, coat in the flour, remove any excess by shaking it lightly
  3. Immerse into the egg mixture. Make sure it is fully soaked by the egg
  4. Coat in the bread crumb mixture.. We want all that flavour to stick to the prawn!
  5. Repeat for all the prawns placing them evenly on a plate (we don’t want them to be on top of each other or they might stick together
  6. Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat
  7. Place prawns in one by one. Here’s a tip: because they curl inwards, you want to place the inward side of the prawn into the pan first so that at least it’ll get some browning.
  8. After they’ve been frying away for around 1-2 minutes, flip them. You may want to check them regularly, we don’t want them to burn!
  9. After they’ve browned evenly take them out and place on a paper towel. Yumm
  10. To make the thousand island dressing, mix a squirt of mayonnaise with some tomato sauce and chilli powder. You can squeeze a bit of lemon juice in as well for extra tang.
  11. Enjoy!

Note: you can add finely grated lemon zest into the bread crumb mixture for extra fragrance and flavour

Here’s a picture of the prawn heads I fried off as well. I got the idea from this blog

http://simonfoodfavourites.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/home-cooking-alien-prawn-head-crispies.html

And they do look like those face huggers from the alien movies!!

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Ginger and green onion mud crab

Starting off with something special

We headed off to the fish markets on the weekend to stock up on some seafood and decided to get a live mud crab, which isn’t something I eat regularly. However, I do like it cooked with ginger and green onions like the way they do in Chinese restaurants. I looked around other blogs/sites for a recipe and most of them included chicken stock, green onion and ginger (obviously) in their ingredient list…So I kind of mashed them together to create this recipe. Enjoy Image

Recipe

Ingredients

1 Mud crab

2 tbsp corn flour

4 tbsp oil

2 cm of ginger sliced

2-3 whole peeled garlic cloves- squash them a bit with the back of the knife

2 green onions- cut into 4-5 cm segments

Splosh of shaoxing wine

Seasoning

1 tbsp Oyster sauce

3/4 cup of chicken stock (best if unsalted)

1 tsp sugar

a pinch of salt to taste

dash of white pepper

Corn flour solution

1 heaped tsp of corn flour

1-2 tbsp water

Steps

1. Humanely kill the crab. We followed the rspca guidlines and put it into the freezer for 1hr and then proceeded to cut it up. To take apart the crab, Sydney Fish Markets have put up a really informative video on youtube so go there for more info. Remember to scrub and remove any algae or mud.

2. Pat the crab dry and coat with the 2tbsp of cornflour. This will make sure the sauce sticks to it later for finger licking goodness!

3. Heat the oil in the wok on high heat until it is really hot then carefully slide in the crab pieces

4. Fry for around 2 min, turning the pieces occasionally.

5. Take out of wok and set aside. If there is not enough oil left in the wok add a bit more.

6. Add the ginger and garlic to the wok. Don’t let the ginger or garlic burn, but at the same time let them cook a bit for their aroma and flavour to come out.

7. Add the crab back into the wok, stir it a bit.

8. Add a splosh of shaoxing wine

9. Add in the seasoning, mix it a bit and then put on the wok lid for around 4 minutes to let the crab cook through. You can turn the heat to medium.

10. Open lid and taste, add salt/sugar/ pepper if needed. Also if there is not a lot of liquid left, add a little water or chicken stock (not too much). Taste again.

11. Add in the corn flour solution to thicken the sauce. Do this whilst stirring so it doesn’t clump. Add in the green onion pieces and give it another stir

12. Dish out and enjoy with some rice

Note:

Usually this dish is best served with some e-fu noodles, to soak up all the delicious sauce, but if you can’t get it, serve with rice.

Also, make sure when you are chopping up the crab, use the back of your knife to sharply tap the shell on the claws until they crack. Make sure the shell is broken up extensively so it is easier to eat. Don’t forget, because it is torturous having to break that shell yourself when eating.