Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Imperial Egg Spinach Recipe

One of the current popular vegetables you can order in any restaurant you go to. However, homecook is still the best! This recipe does not require salt, sugar, oyster sauce, or msg. Prefectly healthy.

2 bundles of washed and prepared Spinach
1 handful of Anchovies / Ikan Bilis
1 tablespoon of Cooking Oil
5 cloves of peeled Garlic
500ml Boiling Hot Water
1 roughly diced Salted Egg
1 roughly diced Century Egg
1 tablespoon of Wolfberries (I totally forgotten)

Heat pan and Cooking Oil. Fry Anchovies & Garlic until lightly browned. Pour in the Boiling Hot Water and let it boil for 15mins. Pour in the diced Salted Egg, Century Egg, Wolfberries followed by Spinach. Constantly, flip with a thong to evenly blench all the Spinash. Once all are bright green dish and serve HOT!


Note this is not a soup. So don't add too much water.

Click here for our blog page Cooking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Monday, April 28, 2014

Grilled Honey Thai Chilli Sauce Chicken Drumlets/Winglets Recipe

Lovely quick and easy oven grill recipe. Definately a keeper for homecook or marination for outdoor BBQ party!

18 Drumlets/Winglets
70ml Light Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons Honey
2 tablespoons Ground Ginger Powder
1 tablespoons Ground Garlic Powder
4 tablespoons Thai Chilli Sauce
2 tablespoons Hua Diao Jiu (Chinese Cooking Wine)

1. Wash and pat dry chicken Drumlets / Winglets.
2. Combine the rest of the marination ingredients.
3. Pour over and combine well, let it marinate for at least 30mins on the table top or overnight in the fridge.
4. Preheat over at 200°C. Spray baking pan.
5. Arrange Drumlets / Winglets top the extra 4-5 tablespoons of marination sauce.
6. Grill each side for 10mins. Approx flip 3 times, which is 30mins and it'll be cooked through.
7. Remove from oven and serve.


Click here for our blog page Cooking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sushi and Kaiseki with Chef Kazuo at Michelin Starred outpost Ginza Sushi Ichi (Scotts Square)

Sushi and Kaiseki. It seems like a rather odd combination given that most (proper) Japanese restaurants only specialize in a single food genre - you wouldn't, for example, walk in to a ramen shop in Tokyo and expect them to serve beef bowl on the side. Nevertheless the marriage of both top tier Sushi and Kyoto-style Kaiseki is Sushi Ichi's raison d'être, so we head on up to the 2nd floor of Scotts Square to get our eating on!

Ginza Sushi Ichi

As is all the rage these days, Sushi Ichi is a sister outpost of a Michelin starred restaurant in Tokyo - Ginza, to be exact. The décor is classic high-end Japanese Sushi restaurant - wood everywhere, a gorgeous hinoki counter to run your fingers over, and - this is important - not a single one of those glass refrigeration units in sight. Top restaurants always keep their fish cold the traditional way - in wooden boxes on top of ice - so as not to dry out the fish.

Menu-wise, we like that all but the cheapest of the sets available come with some hot, cooked dishes (in contrast with Shinji, which serves only sushi on all but their top-priced omakase meals). As we're here for lunch and don't really want to stuff too much, the darling orders the Ume 梅 set meal ($60 for appetizer, nigiri sushi (8 pieces), miso soup, dessert) and I go for the Tsubaki 椿 ($110 for appetizer, assorted dishes (2), nigiri sushi (8 pieces), miso soup, dessert).

Ginza Sushi Ichi

Onward to the food! First up, an amuse bouche for me - Nanohana (rapeseed plant) with Tofu Skin - refreshing and creamy.

Ginza Sushi Ichi

For Appetizers, the darling gets some Japanese tofu and vegetables, topped with ladies fingers tempura and some snow crab. I get some stewed Aji (Spanish Mackerel) with bamboo shoot on a bed of sakura-flavoured sticky/glutinous rice. While both appetizers were nice, we enjoyed the heartiness of the sticky rice and fish that little bit more.

Ginza Sushi Ichi
Ginza Sushi Ichi

For the first of my cooked dishes, I don't exactly know what to call it so I won't even try. It's an assortment of different seasonal ingredients - some mentaiko (cod fish roe) with spring onion, king bean, prawn, grilled needle fish, octopus and pumpkin. All were very lightly seasoned, presumably to let the flavors and textures of the ingredient itself take center stage.

Ginza Sushi Ichi

The second of the cooked dishes - Sakura Ebi (mini shrimp) in very seasoned tempura batter. I thought this was only just "pretty good," as the flavorings and crunchiness in the batter pretty much drowned out the sakura ebi entirely.

Ginza Sushi Ichi

While we transition from the cooked dishes to the sushi, just wanted to take a short time out to the experience of eating at a sushi counter, right in front of the sushi chef. Our opinion is that the skill of the Chef isn't everything - his personality is almost equally as important. A grumpy, non-communicative chef can sour the mood greatly. On the other hand if you get someone like Chef Ozura Kazuo, we feel that the constant chatter, friendliness and laughter go a long way to increasing the overall enjoyment of the meal. Definitely worth to perhaps request to sit with Kazuo-San if you're paying a visit.

Ginza Sushi Ichi

Anyway moving back to the food and on to the Sushi, then! The darling and I both get the same number of nigiri - eight - but as hers' is the cheaper set there's some differences in the neta - for example for our tuna nigiri I got a nice oily and juicy chu-toro (medium fatty tuna) whereas she had to 'settle' for akami (lean tuna).

Ginza Sushi Ichi

Chef Kazuo served us up a couple of unfamiliar ingredients - Aoyagi (Surf Clam, pictured above) and Tairagai (Pen Shell, pictured below). It's always nice trying new sushi but personally I've never been a big fan of all the various -gi and -gai clams. Don't quite appreciate the texture (normally too hard/crunchy) or the taste (normally quite bland).

Ginza Sushi Ichi

We find that compared to Shinji, Sushi Ichi seems to take a more traditional approach to their sushi. Other than salt on our squid sushi, everything else is pretty standard soy sauce and wasabi (freshly grated, of course).

Ginza Sushi Ichi
Ginza Sushi Ichi
Ginza Sushi Ichi

Oh, I also got a mini-chirashi, with bits of raw fish and a heaping of ikura (salmon roe). Like we've mentioned in the past, we don't quite know why ikura served in these high end places is savoury but not salty, whereas ikura in practically every other lower end restuarant is salty as heck.

Ginza Sushi Ichi

To finish - anago (sea eel) and kanpyo (a type of gourd named calabash) maki, and a sweet custardy egg that feels more like a dessert than a normal tamagoyaki.

Ginza Sushi Ichi

A small bonus before dessert - mini horseradish maki. Because Chef Kazuo says we should eat something spicy before the dessert.

Ginza Sushi Ichi

Speaking of desserts, we only really have the choice of several different flavors of sorbets - raspberry and yuzu pictured here. Our recommendation is to go for yuzu as it's light and airy, whereas the raspberry is perhaps a tad bit too sour.

Ginza Sushi Ichi

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, especially with the jovial Chef Kazuo keeping us company. However we have to say that Shinji does still marginally serve up the better food. The sushi here at Sushi Ichi is still very, very good, but the shari (rice) just lacks a bit of flavor and the neta toppings aren't quite as imaginative and marinated/flavored as well.

Sushi Ichi is open for lunch and dinner on Tuesday - Sunday (closed on Mondays). Reservations can be made online via their website.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Teochew Braised Pork Belly Recipe

Ingredients A
2 tablespoons Cooking Oil
1.5 tablespoons Sugar
300g sliced Pork Belly

Ingredients B
10 unpeel cloves of Garlics
1 Star Anise
1 Cinnamon Stick
4 Cloves

Ingredients C
800ml Water
2 tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Light Soy Sauce
4 tablespoons of Hua Diao Jiu (Chinese Cooking Wine)

2 Hard-Boiled Eggs
Tau Pok/Tau Kwa (optional)

1. Heat up the Cooking Oil in deep sauce pan and melt Sugar in sauce pan.
2. Sear sliced Pork Belly on both sides until slightly brown.
3. Add in Ingredients B and stir fry for 2-3mins.
4. Pour in Ingredients A and bring to a boil then lower the flame and let it simmar for at least 1.5hours for the meat to be tender. Remember to stir occasionally and watch the stove every 10-15mins to ensure the pot does not dry out. When water level goes down on the 1st hour add more water to cover the meat.
5. At the last 15mins of simmering add in the Hard Boiled Eggs, Tau Pok/Tau Kwa.
6. Serve hot with Rice or Steam Buns. Store in fridge overnight for better flavored meat!


Click here for our blog page Cooking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Korean BBQ Buffet in Bedok - Ssiksin 食神 Korean BBQ, Bedok Point

When we think of Korean BBQ restaurants here, there seem to be two distinct types of restaurants - higher end, ala carte joints where you have a choice of 25 different cuts of pork or 43 different marble grades of Beef ... and the BBQ Buffet. These restaurants are normally priced quite reasonably, and allow you to stuff yourself to your hearts' content at a (relatively) low price point. It's perfect for big stomachs, or for those nights where you just don't feel the need to pay top dollar for Grade A5 Wagyu roasting on a perfectly-heated bed of hot charcoal.

We're pretty stoked then that Ssiksin 食神 has just today opened its' doors in Bedok Point. It's run by the same Korean tai tai's as Ssikek over in Tampines 1. Decor is decidedly basic with monotonous wood everywhere - from the tables, partitions, floors and the furnishings. It does help that it's very 'open air,' so unlike the sister outlet further east it doesn't really get too stuffy/smoky/meaty in the dining area.

As Korean BBQ buffets go you do get the staple meats - pork belly, bacon, pork shoulder, some marinated beef, rib eye and short ribs. Over on the seafood there's decent sized prawns, squid rings and some chicken sausages sitting amidst fresh lettuce, onions and other garnish.

There's also a basic collection of cooked food - some pasta, some glass noodles, seaweed and beef/radish soups and an assortment of vegetable tempura. Nothing to get particularly excited about of course but not everyone can eat pure meat for an entire meal.

The buffet price includes free flow of drinks from the soda fountain.

As is par for the course for BBQ Buffet restaurants you do need to grill your own meat. We're actually extremely impressed with the new ceramic grill plates. They don't give out a lot of smoke - so you finish the meal smelling a lot less meaty than normal - but we totally dig how non-stick they are. The non-marinated meats hardly left any residue, and the residue left behind by the marinated meats was easily wiped off with a couple of tissues to reveal an almost-new plate to continue grilling! Awesome.

Overall it's solid and tummy filling but not particularly gourmet dining. At just $24.95 for a buffet dinner you really wouldn't ask for more. Open seven days a week on the 2nd floor of Bedok Point mall. Non halal.

* Apologies for the quality of photographs in this post which were snapped by mobile phone as we didn't bring our cameras

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Xtreme Express Bread / Buns / Rolls Recipe (includes steps & different varieties ideas)

This recipe catch my eyes! It's definately the best bread recipe ever if you're baking bread for the 1st time. Be it if you want your family to have fresh bread daily, if you want to last minute bake some breakfast to bring to office to share.

It's just too stunning and unbelievable that this recipe only takes approx 50mins or 70mins depending on how fast and experience you are... Definately the fastest bread recipe in my bread recipe list that I'm yet to explore!

Yeast Activation Ingredients
50g Fine Sugar
250ml Warm Water or Warm Milk
90ml Olive Oil
2 tablespoons of Dry Yeast or Instant Yeast

In a mixer bowl combine Sugar, Warm Water/Warm Milk, Olive Oil, Dry Yeast/Instant Yeast. Give it a mix and allow it to rest for 15mins and it'll be ready for use.

Rest of the Ingredients
1.5 teaspoon of Fine Salt or Sea Salt
1 Egg
480g Bread Flour or All-Purpose Flour

Preheat overn to 190ºC. Add all the rest of the ingredients in to the Yeast Mixture. Use your mixer dough hook to knead until incorporated or use hand to knead in your mixing bowl.

The dough will be a little sticky at touch but it should not stick on your hand. Scoop out the dough on a flat surface. Slightly Roll out the dough and cut it into approx size required.

Time to design!!! This is a good base bread to bake a loaf, bake buns, bake rolls... It's up to your imagination! Below is my few creations, will be adding more as i continue to create with joy & with curiosity...

After having fun shaping and designing your buns/roll. Cover it with a damp clothe and let it proof for 10mins only. It will kind of double in size (I didn't measure..haha).

Glaze the whole expose area with Egg wash or Melted Butter. Place it in the oven to bake for approx 25mins or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool in the tray for 10 to 15 minutes when it's totally cool it can be stored in a air-tight container for breakfast the next day!

Lesson Learnt:
1. Replacement of Warm Milk will give the bread a more milky taste which we love.
2. Bread Flour has 14% to 16 % Protien Content, however, All-Purpose Flour has 10% to 12% Protien Content. To have softer bread All-Purpose Flour is the best. If you want a healtier version, replace half of the flour with Wholemeal Flour.
3. If it is sticky add a little more olive oil and flour.
4. Dust your hands with Flour or oil your hand to avoid the dough from sticking when you're designing your buns.
5. A good size bun will need approximately 78g which is 1/14 dough of this recipe.
6. Do not put the buns too close as it will continue to grow during the baking process.
7. IMPORTANT for small families: Immediately after cut up the dough in to the portions, wrap it in kitchen wrap and store it the following 2 possible ways.
- Storage in the freezer and use within 3months.
- Storage in the fridge is best used within 3days but every 12hours check out the dough and give it a light press to slow down the proofing process.
Do not bake frozen/refridgerated bread dough right out of the fridge/freezer. Allow it to thaw and warm to room temperature first for the best results and to ensure that it will rise properly when baked.

Below is my creations: Good and bad ideas of mine. All here to share! Will update more soon and hopefully add on the step by step guide photos.

Rose Ham Bun : In this picture i'm pretty generous with the Ham. Used 2 round Ham sliced in half. Roll the dough into a worm and line the Hams overlapping each another. Once done, roll up the bread like a snail and place the flat side on the bread paper prepared.
Used 78g which is 1/14 dough of this recipe.

Raisins Invasion Bun : Knead in half a tablespoon of Raisins and shape it nicely before placing it in on the bread paper to proof.
Used 78g which is 1/14 dough of this recipe.

Normal Slice Cheese Bun : Bad choice I would say! Please avoid using normal slice cheese.

Luncheon Meat Bun : Pre-fry the Luncheon Meat and set aside to cool. Flatten the dough to a long rectangular shape, place the Luncheon Meat in the middle and fold it. Place on the bread paper folded side down to proof.

Spicy/Non Spicy Floss Bun : Shape the bun and place on the bread paper to proof. After the bun is cool, spread mayonnaise over the whole top of the bun. Generously press on the Floss and you're done!

Hidden Butter Sugar Bun : Roll the dough out to a round flat shape. Place a 1.5cm cube of butter in the middle and half a teaspoon of sugar. Wrap it up neatly and place on the bread paper to proof.

Click here for our blog page Baking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Contemporary Indian Fine Dining at Varq, Taj Mahal Hotel New Delhi

A couple of weeks ago we reviewed Bukhara, which was voted India's best restaurant. That stalwart was unapologetically traditional Indian cuisine, so today we're going to review a more contemporary restaurant - Varq at the Taj Mahal Hotel. Varq is also ranked on this year's Acqua Panna / San Pellegrino list - 4th best restaurant in India and the 32nd best in Asia!

Varq Restaurant Taj Mahal Hotel New Delhi

I'm pretty happy that Varq also makes allowances for the solo diner - with the Varqui Lunch option. For 1500Rs (SGD 31.20), you get a pick of either starter, soup or dessert plus a main course, from anything off the menu, served with a selection of Indian bread. I take my picks and settle down to the amuse bouche which reminds me a lot of palak paneer (cottage cheese and creamed spinach).

Varq Restaurant Taj Mahal Hotel New Delhi Amuse Bouche

One problem I've found when ordering in India is how to properly communicate the spice level you want. For example I ordered the Sukha Mutton, which I understood is traditionally a very spicy preparation. Naturally I asked the waiter to get the spice level tuned down "a little," but it ended up being tuned down "a lot." Wish there was a worldwide standard heat level which we could all use to talk to each other - "I'd like a 4-star heat level please" :)

In any case other than it perhaps being not as spicy as it should, the starter is gorgeous! Lamb with coconut shavings in a black pepper preparation with curry leaves - all served up in an Asian fried spring roll bowl. I find Delhi cuisine to be generally less spicy but bigger on flavour, creaminess (from milk, cream or butter) as compared to most Indian food we get back in SG/Malaysia - and I like it here a lot.

Varq Restaurant Taj Mahal Hotel New Delhi Sukha Mutton

The main course - Kali Mirch Ka Murg - is Corn Fed chicken breast with mango relish served in a creamy black pepper curry. This actually tastes very, very Italian. Like a spicy, peppery carbonara sauce. The chicken is expertly cooked - tender and juicy - and that sauce is oh-so-delicious. Plus points for them providing an additional cup of it on the side for lapping up with the Indian breads!

Varq Restaurant Taj Mahal Hotel New Delhi Kali Mirch Ka Murg

Speaking of breads, instead of a 'bread basket' or an assortment being served to you all at once, they cook up small 5" diameter breads to order. So you're almost always eating your bread fresh and hot out of the clay oven. Great concept! I ordered a butter naan (which surprisingly ended up more like a parata), and two wholemeal actual paratas - all delicious and piping hot! Apologies for the not-particularly-presentable half-eaten photo here :)

Varq Restaurant Taj Mahal Hotel New Delhi Fresh Indian Bread

I still have some room in the tummy so I order up an Apple Kheer (Rs 475 or SGD 9.89) - this is a stewed golden apple with reduced sweetened milk and nuts. It turned out to be pretty nice, although I must admit that Indian desserts are in general a taste that I haven't fully acquired.

Varq Restaurant Taj Mahal Hotel New Delhi Apple Kheer

Nor, it seems, have I acquired a taste for indian palatte cleansers - in Varq we get a few Betel leaves wrapped around something or other. That something or other isn't that important because the pungent acidity of the leaf simply overpowers every other flavor. Good thing the waiter warned me before hand to take a small nibble instead of popping the entire mouthful :)

Varq Restaurant Taj Mahal Hotel New Delhi Betel Leaf

In comparison with the higher ranked Bukhara, I actually enjoyed Varq a lot more. I thought there was very interesting usage and crossover of ingredients and flavors from other cuisines, the dishes were presented in a more upscale fashion, and the food was simply better overall. Five thumbs up.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Wasabi New Delhi by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto

Before that sushi documentary came out, the most well known Celebrity Japanese Chef worldwide was probably Masaharu Morimoto, by virtue of his being Iron Chef Japanese on both the Japan and American versions of Iron Chef. His celebrity status has, naturally, allowed him to open a number of restaurants in different cities around the world - one of them in New Delhi, India - so of course I had to take a taxi ride and get myself seated in a corner of the Wasabi by Morimoto restaurant in the Taj Mahal Hotel.

Wasabi New Delhi by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto

Morimoto is known for creative and modern, almost fusion Japanese cuisine, so it's perhaps no surprise that his restaurant here is as un-traditional as it gets. Bright yellow and red neons light up a modern dining area, flanked by teppanyaki and sushi bars.

Wasabi New Delhi by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto

I give my orders to the cordial and polite waiter, and take stock of the amuse bouche - a curiously mini sized slice of maki sushi with wasabi mayonnaise. I have to say that there wasn't really anything special here, other than perhaps the tempura battered and deep-fried nori (seaweed).

Wasabi New Delhi by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto Amuse Bouche

If you're a serious sushi/sashimi eater you'll know that any proper sushi place will always serve its wasabi freshly grated off a sharkskin board. The flavour profile of fresh wasabi is simply so different from the powdered stuff - it's more fragrant, more delicate, less pungent, and less likely to overpower the relatively delicate flavors of fish and rice.

Wasabi New Delhi by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto Freshly Grated Wasabi

Speaking of fish, I wanted to go for the sushi set but decided at the last minute on the Assorted Sashimi (Rs 3,850 or SGD 81). There's 2 slices of each of the usual suspects - maguro, chutoro, salmon, scallops, kanpachi - all freshly flown over from the Tsukiji Fish market in Tokyo. Strangely enough though the salmon was smoked rather than raw.

Wasabi New Delhi by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto Assorted Sashimi Platter

Moving on to a hot entree then - couldn't pass up the Ishi Yaki Unagi Bop (Rs 1,800 or SGD 39) - slices of Unagi, garlic and vegetables on rice, served in a hot river stone bowl. I'm not sure if you can see it from the photo but it's a big bowl and there's a lot of rice. Overall while the flavor profile was pretty good, I sorely missed a proper char on the Unagi like the one we had at Zipangu years ago. To me, a good unagi must be grilled, and a good grill means a char on the exterior.

Wasabi New Delhi by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto Unagi Bop

The waiter suggested the Grilled Banana (Rs 700 or SGD 15) for dessert. It's a very filling and very sweet dessert - two bananas grilled and served with candied nuts and dried fruits, lathered with a sweet syrup, flanking a scoop of banana caramel ice cream. It's nice, but it really is too much sweetness for a South East Asian palate.

Wasabi New Delhi by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto Grilled Banana

I wasn't blown away by Morimoto's New Delhi restaurant - although I think that speaks more of the quality of Japanese cuisine we get over in Singapore more than anything. I thought the sashimi was pretty fresh and the other warm dishes were pretty good, but the prices are pretty steep and I'd easily get better food over here with the same kind of money.

Wasabi by Morimoto is in the Taj Mahal Hotel. Reservations probably not required except for large groups - I visited on a Sunday night but the restaurant was barely half full. Non-halal.