Monday, 23 November 2009

Cocoa Fleck Ice Cream

Just like my other Brown Bread Ice Cream, this recipe does not require an ice cream maker, repeated churning nor any cooking of the ingredients into a custard before freezing. Simply whisk, combine, freeze and ta-daa!: easy-peasy smooth and creamy gourmet-quality chocolate ice cream :)

Whilst it doesn't show up well in the picture because I ran out of chocolate and therefore put way too little this time round, the word "fleck" in the title refers to the finely grated dark chocolate I add into the mixture (my attempt at recreating something visually similar to Haagen Dazs Belgian Chocolate). The recipe below gives you the correct amount to use- by all means increase or decrease it as preferred, or use chocolate chips, brownie chunks, crushed biscuits or whatever else you fancy instead.

Cocoa Fleck Ice Cream
Makes a 1 litre tub

2 egg whites- whisk until stiff.
2 egg yolks- combine with 1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tsp dark rum for a more adult version). Fold into egg whites. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together until floppy (be careful not to overbeat until too stiff):
300ml double cream
85g icing sugar and 2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder, sifted together
100g melted dark chocolate, cooled

Fold together double cream mix, egg white mix and 100g finely grated dark chocolate (or other toppings of choice). Pour into a 1-litre container and freeze for at least 4 hours. Move to refrigerator for 20 mins before serving to soften slightly.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Mini Sam Tan Kitchen

For all catering enquiries please email me at :) For recipes, feel free to browse the site or click on the name of each dish below.

A couple of weeks back I had my first professional catering job, all thanks to my lovely dancer friend Tristan Ching-Hartmann who decided I was a good enough chef to pay for based solely on the pictures on this blog alone (and my ability to Facebook, tweet, blog and basically yap about food all day). Considering that she wanted a full-on 3 course Southeast Asian buffet despite never tasting my cooking coupled with the fact that I had never cooked for 10 complete strangers before (i.e. not friends/family who would smile and say they love the food even if it sucks), my first thought was wow, this woman is nuts! But it was her birthday so she was entitled to madness plus I do love a culinary challenge, so my immediate answer was yes yes YES :)

A 5-day cooking schedule/to-do list- necessary due to limited pots,
storage equipment and kitchen/refrigerator space :)

Thankfully, with the help of my utterly indispensable partner/kitchen assistant (or as he prefers to call it, slave/serf/bitch) Arivind and the initial hiccups aside (the first attempted sago pudding not setting, an emergency dash to Asda for more chicken...) all 16 items managed to be cooked in time and packed safely into the cab for the ride with us to Tristan and her husband Mark's flat (which incidentally, is gorgeous!). As it turns out, clearly people here don't gorge themselves like Malaysians when faced with a buffet- there was probably enough for 30 rather than 10 but ah well... too much food= not really a bad thing :)

Thank you Tristan and Mark for the opportunity, I really had fun and hope you guys enjoyed the end result!

With the wonderful host and hostess

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Wagamama-Inspired Asian Soy Ginger Vinaigrette

A tangy sour-salty vinaigrette that makes salads absolutely mouthwatering! :) Inspired by Wagamama's famous dressing, I chuck in a dash of sesame oil and a sprinkling of seeds to add a further dimension to its gorgeous Asian flavours (and it just so happens floating sesame seeds look pretty). Have a taste once it's made and add more soy/vinegar/whatever you like to suit your own preference.

Keep refrigerated. Use on everything :)

Wagamama-Inspired Asian Soy Ginger Vinaigrette
Makes 1/2 cup (125ml)

Stir together well to blend and store refrigerated in a jar:
2 small shallots, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1" fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1½ tbsp rice vinegar (or other vinegars if you want to change things up)
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp water
100ml vegetable oil
2-3 tbsp light soy sauce (depending on how salty you want it)
Dash of sesame oil
Sprinkling of sesame seeds

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Roti Jala (Malaysian Lacey Coconut and Turmeric Crepes)

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Am really on a bit of a Malaysian cuisine show-and-tell mood at the moment, due in large part to the all-out Southeast Asian buffet a friend asked me to cater for her recently (a post on that coming up soon) :)

Roti Jala translates literally from Malay to mean "net bread", and are essentially soft savoury crepes traditionally served alongside a good chicken curry (although they are just as good for mopping up other kinds of tasty gravy too). Made out of coconut milk and coloured a natural yellow by ground turmeric, the attractive lacey pattern is created using one these funny-looking thingies:

A roti jala mould

Unfortunately whilst these moulds are dead cheap and easily available in Malaysia, they are nowhere to be found even in the largest Asian supermarkets here in London. Lucky for me my good foodie friend Marisa happily lent me hers (thank you makcik!)- if you can't get your hands on one then suggested substitutes I have heard of are using a squeezy bottle with a narrow nozzle (although you will need quick fingers to squirt out the pattern at top speed) or making your own mould by drilling holes into an empty tin can (although some say the lack of funnels means the batter ends up pouring out in big blobs). If you find an alternative that works do let me know!

One other really cute tip I picked up watching a roti jala man at work at his stall was to shove a fork or skewer into half an onion and using it to grease your frying pan- this not only lightly flavours your pancakes with a delicious hint of onion, but ensures you get a very thin even layer rather than pouring in too much oil.

The cool little oily-onion trick

Lastly, whilst it takes a tad more effort Marisa and hubby insist that the roti jala must be rolled into neat long bundles as shown below to ensure the correct bite, texture and "moppability", rather than being folded into triangular quarters (half, then half again). It's entirely up to you but I am inclined to agree, plus it looks prettier to me anyway :) Happy cooking!

Roti Jala (Malaysian Lacey Coconut and Turmeric Crepes)
Makes about 20 crepes

Sift together into a large bowl:
2 cups of plain flour
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)

Make a well in the middle of the flour, add in and whisk to form a thin batter (I use an electric mixer briefly at the end to get rid of lumps):
2 eggs
2 cups milk/coconut milk
1 cup water

Let rest for 30 mins.

Set a heavy-based frying pan on low-medium heat and grease with an onion dipped in oil. Pour the batter in using a quick circular motion as shown in my nifty little home-video below:

Wait for the batter to set (which only takes about 20-30 seconds).

Fold over two edges towards the middle.

Roll one end all the way up towards the other. Remove and place on a plate.

Repeat all of the above until the rest of the batter is used up. Serve immediately with a good hot curry.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Thai Pineapple Fried Rice

Easy peasy and so flavoursome :) Cook simply with minimal ingredients to make the perfect accompaniment to Thai Green Chicken Curry and Thai Seafood Kerabu Salad, or chuck in lots of additional seafood and meat to form a delicious all-in-one main course.

Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
Serves 2-3

Finely chop (or whizz together in a food processor) and fry in a bit of oil over high heat until fragrant:
1 small onion or several small shallots
A few cloves of garlic
A few kaffir lime leaves
Generous handful of fresh coriander leaves
1 small birdseye chilli

Toss in 2 cups cooked basmati rice (cold leftover rice is perfect- be sure to break the rice up into individual grains with a fork before frying).

Lash generously with lots of light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and fish sauce.

*If serving as a main course on its own, add in meat as desired- prawns, calamari, seafood sticks, fishcake, lap cheong (Chinese pork sausage), sliced chicken/pork etc.

Add in 1 tin of pineapple chunks (or cut up fresh pineapple if you can be bothered) and mix thoroughly.

Make a well in the centre of the rice and break in 1 egg. Scramble quickly into the rice until well combined.

Chuck in some extra chopped fresh coriander if you feel there isn't enough. Garnish with fried onions if desired, serve hot and enjoy!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Fresh Popiah (Spring Rolls)

I present to you, one of my Mum's favourite foods since childhood. :)

The word popiah translates literally to mean "thin biscuit" in the Chinese dialects of Hokkien and Teochew, a reference to the soft thin wheat skins used to wrap up spring rolls. Mum has high standards for what constitutes a good popiah, so much so that she has a tendency to compare every version she eats (especially the thinness/quality of the skin) to the one she thinks is superior in her hometown of Ipoh. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere where you can get fresh handmade wraps then grr, good for you- here in London, not daring to hazard making skins of my own (which involves the rather messy and difficult art of rolling a sticky ball of dough on a hot pan then pulling it off to let the residue cook- watch it at I had to resort to using frozen (shock! horror!) spring roll wraps bought from an Asian supermarket. If like me you are in a similar predicament, defrost them at about 45 mins at room temperature, separate each sheet once soft then keep under a damp tea towel to prevent them drying out.

Most people in the West are familiar with the crunchy fried spring roll often served as a starter in restaurants, but are unaware that an equally (if not more) delicious un-fried, more substantially-filled variety of it exists. Dressed in a touch of sweet Hoisin sauce and chilli oil, the healthy and flavourful popiah is loaded with everything nutritious from grated jicama/yam bean (also known as Mexican turnip, sengkuang, mengkuang or bangkuang depending on who you ask), carrots, beans and lettuce to tofu, beansprouts and cucumber, then topped with shredded omelette, crispy fried shallots and crunchy crushed peanuts before being bundled up to create a tidy little package bursting with yumminess.

Not quite the Ipoh version Mum, but it does the job :)

Fresh Popiah (Spring Rolls)

Makes 4-6 rolls

Prep all filling ingredients beforehand and lay out so your popiah can be assembled easily.

Jicama Filling:
Mince and saute 1 clove garlic and 1 shallot/half an onion in a bit of oil over low heat, without browning.

Stir in and let cook for 5 mins:
500g jicama/yam bean, peeled and grated
1 small carrot, grated
Handful green beans, chopped into bits
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
Dash of white pepper

Cover and simmer for 15-20 mins until cooked. The jicama will produce a lot of water- be sure to squeeze it dry before using in the popiah.

Prepare the shredded omelette: Scramble 2 eggs with a touch of light soy sauce and white pepper in a bowl, then fry in a bit of oil in a large frying pan for a few minutes on each side. Let cool slightly before slicing into thin strips.

Prepare the peanut sugar: Chuck a handful of roasted peanuts with a teaspoon of sugar in a food processor. Blitz until it forms coarse grains.

Rinse and dry some fresh lettuce leaves.

You will also need some hoisin sauce (I recommend Koon Chun or Lee Kum Kee), Sriracha chilli sauce or chilli oil, and crispy fried shallots/onions, all of which can be bought in Asian supermarkets.

Other fillings you can also use if desired: cooked firm beancurd, blanched beansprouts, grated cucumber or seafood/meat such as pork, cooked shrimp, crab and sliced lap cheong (Chinese pork sausage).

The frozen spring roll sheets I use (found in the freezer section of Asian supermarkets)

To Assemble
Carefully peel off one popiah sheet from the stack and place on a large plate.

Spread 1/2 tsp hoisin sauce and 1/2 tsp Sriracha or chilli oil in a thin layer over the entire sheet.

Place 1 lettuce leaf in the centre of the sheet.

Spoon over 2-3 tbsp of the prepared jicama filling, squeezing off excess liquid before doing so.

Top with shredded omelette.

Sprinkle generously with peanut sugar.

Sprinkle generously with fried shallots.

Fold one end of the wrap over tightly to enclose the fillings.

Fold in the edges.

Flip the wrap over to seal.

Slice firmly all the way through with a sharp knife (easiest on a flat chopping board and using
a non-serrated blade) into 4-5 pieces. Garnish with fried shallots and serve immediately.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Malaysian Beef Rendang (Spicy Dry Beef Stew with Coconut)

Rendang, when made well, can be a simply luscious experience. This most traditional and delectable of Malay dishes essentially consists of melt-in-the-mouth beef chunks, slow-cooked in rich coconut cream and freshly ground Asian spices until it is tender, moist and bursting with a complex blend of mouthwatering flavours.

It isn't the simplest or fastest dish to cook up, but trust me- the delicious end result is well worth it. The secret to the beautiful taste lies in the kerisik- toasted grated coconut pounded to an oily paste. I use dessicated coconut, but if you are lucky enough to have fresh grated coconut easily available then do go for that. As with most Asian dishes, don't worry about being too exact with the shallots/garlic/dried chillies- the quantities provided are rough estimates and you should increase/decrease as needed depending on the size of each clove or bulb, and your own personal taste. Also by all means make this one or two days before you intend to eat it- the flavour simple improves and intensifies the longer it is kept :) Who says leftovers can't be amazing?

Malaysian Beef Rendang (Spicy Dry Beef Stew with Coconut)
Serves 6

  • Spice Paste
Blend together until smooth:
6 small red shallots
6 cloves garlic
1” galangal
1” ginger
4 stalks lemongrass (white part only)
12 dried chillies-soaked for a few hours or overnight in warm water and deseeded
A few candlenuts

  • Kerisik

Toast 1½ cups dessicated coconut (makes about 6-8 tablespoons) slowly over low-medium heat until it turns from white to golden brown, stirring frequently. Then pound with a pestle and mortar, or grind in a spice mill (once it has cooled) until it forms an oily paste.

*Kerisik keeps well so you can make a big batch and store for future use if desired*

Cooking the Rendang

Heat 5 tbsp oil and fry spice paste until fragrant. Add:
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
4 star anise
4 cardamom pods

Add and brown briefly:
1 kg stewing/casserole beef, cut into cubes
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 2” lengths and smashed

Pour in and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until almost cooked:
1 cup (250ml) coconut cream
1 cup water
2 tsp tamarind juice (soak a bit of dried tamarind pulp/block/paste in warm water, then pour through a sieve and discard seeds/fibres)

Blend well into meat, cover and simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally for 2 hours or until gravy is dry and meat is tender:
8 kaffir lime leaves, sliced thinly
8 tbsp kerisik
1 turmeric leaf (if you have it)
1 heaped tbsp palm sugar (or dark brown muscovado sugar if you can't get palm)
Salt to taste

Serve with hot rice or soft roti.