Dec 19, 2014

How to make Carbonara Pasta

If you would like to try making the carbonara pasta from scratch and not from using the readymade sauce sold at supermarkets, then do try out this recipe. This recipe is based on the Creamy Bacon Carbonara recipe from The Recipe Critic.

I always make carbonara pasta after making the non-bake oreo cheesecake, as I would have a leftover of 750ml of whipping cream. Ah.. sorry for sidetracking~

Back to the recipe~ Here's the successful product. I have made several attempts before achieving the creamy texture. Be careful not to get the scrampled-egg-like texture.


Carbonara Penne

And here's how to do it:

Ingredients needed

  • Penne
  • Boiling Water
  • 1 cup of Whipping Cream
  • 1/3 cup of Parmesan Cheese
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of pepper
  • A pinch of salt
  • Onion Slices
  • Mushroom Slices
  • Bacon Slices (thick cut & thin cut)
  • Cooking oil

TIP
You can replace penne with any pasta of your choice.

Method

Bacon
1. Fry the bacon slices.

2. Fry the thick cut bacon slices until they turn crispy on the sides. These will be stir-fried with the other ingredients.

3. Fry the thin cut bacon slices until they turn very crispy. This will be for the toppings.

Penne
1. Add a pinch of salt and a few drops of cooking oil into the boiling water.

2. Add penne to the boiling mixture and cook for the duration that is stated on the pasta packaging. Stir at times to prevent the penne from sticking to each other.

3. Drain the penne from the mixture.

Carbonara Sauce
1. Mix the whipping cream, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper together.

Carbonara Penne
1. Add cooking oil to the frying pan.

TIP
Though maybe not as healthy, but nevertheless very delicious... try to replace the cooking oil here with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the oil retrieved from frying the bacon slices.

2. Add onion slices and fry them till slightly brown.

3. Add mushroom slices and bacon slices (thick cut) and stir-fry them.

4. Add penne and stir-fry the mixture.

5. Add the cabonara sauce mixture, and stir-fry at low heat.

TIP
Here's the most tricky part. Remember to use low heat. And stir continuously to prevent the mixture from clumping together. Else it will end up looking like scrambled eggs instead.

6. Serve, and topped the carbonara penne with thin cut bacon slides.

And there you go~ Carbonara Penne made from scratch.




How to make Soya Sauce Chicken

My parents have been lamenting that I seemed to cook primarily Japanese dishes, though they prefer Chinese cuisine. So, I heed their advice and decided to check out the recipe collection at the National Library. And I got my hands on this book 《懒人最爱:电饭煲美食》. This title really speaks to me as I really like fuss-free, simple recipes. Rice cooker dishes are great, as we normally just have to prepare the marination or the sauce mixture, and then we just need to dump all our ingredients in the rice cooker, and viola~ the dish is done. And of course, without compromising on the taste too.

The recipe I picked from the book is 香菇焖鸡翅 Soya Sauce Chicken. I varied the recipe to achieve the taste that the family likes: Juicy, savory, but not too salty.

And here's the eventual product:



And how I achieve it:

Ingredients needed

  • 10 Chicken Mid Joint Wings
  • Onion slices
  • Ginger Slices
  • Mushroom Slices
  • 45ml of Chinese Rice Wine
  • 30ml of Dark Soya Sauce
  • 15ml of Light Soya Sauce
  • 50ml of Water (for soaking)
  • 50ml of Water (for cooking)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Sugar (to taste)
  • Sesame Oil
  • Cooking oil

TIP
If you can replace the chicken mid joint wings with winglets, that will be perfect. But of course, you will need to adjust the quantity of the wings to match the sauce mixture. Try not to use drumsticks/ drumlets though. They don't taste as good. And that's speaking from experience.

Method

1. Mix chinese rice wine, dark soya sauce, light soya sauce, 50ml of water, sesame oil, sugar and pepper together.

2. Soak the chicken mid joint wings in the mixture. Leave it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

3. Add cooking oil and sesame oil to the rice cooker.

4. Add the ginger slices, onion slices and mushroom slices into the rice cooker.

5. Add the marinated chicken mid joint wings into the rice cooker.

6. Add the marination mixture into the rice cooker.

7. Add 50ml of water into the rice cooker.

8. Cook for about 30 minutes.

9. Serve~

There you go... Isn't it very simple and easy~


Dec 13, 2014

How to make Ebi No Umani 日本版的醉虾

Thanks to JETAA Singapore, I have learnt 3 new Japanese recipes (^_^). Thanks, Keiko-san, for teaching us these recipes!

This year's cooking workshop focuses on osechi, which is a set of special dishes that Japanese make to welcome the New Year. There are many types of osechi, and for this workshop, we learnt 3: Kouhaku Namasu 紅白なます,Ebi No Umani 海老のうま煮 and Chukuzen Ni 筑前煮.

Ebi No Umani 海老のうま煮, somewhat reminds me of a Chinese dish, Drunken Prawns 醉虾, so that perks up my interest to learn how to make this.



I revised the given recipe, to make dashi soup from raw, instead of using powder.

Here's how to make the Japanese version of Drunken Prawns 日本版的醉虾:

Ingredients needed

  • 8 Prawns
  • 500ml of Water
  • 4cm by 3cm of Kelp
  • 6g of Bonito Flakes
  • Boiling water
  • 30ml of Sake/ Rice Wine (for soaking)
  • 50ml of Sake/ Rice Wine (for cooking)
  • 100ml of Mirin
  • 1 toothpick


Method

1. Cut the tips of the prawns' heads and tails slightly.

2. Using the toothpick, poke through the shell at the second or third segment of the prawns' bodies, and pull out the dark veins.

TIP
Compare and contrast the above deveining of prawns with the Chinese method. For the Chinese dishes, we will slit the back of the prawns using a knife and then pull out the dark veins.

3. Soak the prawns in 30ml of sake.

4. Add boiling water to the mixture, just enough to cover the prawns. Leave it for 10 minutes.

5. To make dashi soup, add kelp and bonito flakes to 500ml of water. Once it boils, and the mixture turns brownish, sieve out the kelp and bonito flakes to retrieve the dashi soup.

6. Add 100ml of mirin and 50ml of sake to the dashi soup. Stir well while cooking the mixture. Cook the mixture till boiling point.

7. Add the prawns into the above mixture. Cook for 2 minutes.

8. Serve the prawns dry.

TIP
This dish is meant to be served when cooled, so it would be good to make this dish first before others, so that it has time to cool down.

There you go, do you find any similarities and differences between Ebi No Umani and Drunken Prawns?

Hope you enjoy the Japanese version of Drunken Prawns as much as I do. (^^) Bon appetit~

Other recipes of homemade Japanese food which you may like to try:


Dec 11, 2014

How to make Teriyaki Salmon

This is an improvised recipe which I learnt in JETAA cooking class last year. The recipe was originally for the making of teriyaki chicken toppings for the teriyaki chicken pizza.

After several attempts to perfect the taste, here's the recipe for teriyaki salmon. I could proudly say this is one of my most confident dishes, at least, taste-wise. It is not easy to capture a beautiful shot though.



Ingredients needed


  • Salmon fillet with skin
  • Cooking oil


TIP
Give some cuts to the salmon fillet so that it will be cooked faster.

Teriyaki Sauce

  • 100ml of Mirin
  • 15ml of shouyu/ light soya sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar


Method
1. Mix the ingredients for the sauce.

2. Add the salmon fillet into the mixture, and leave it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

3. Add cooking oil and lightly pan-fry the salmon fillet (skin facing downwards).

4. Add the mixture that the salmon fillet is marinated in, and sauteed till cooked.

TIP
Be careful not to overcook the salmon fillet.

5. Ready to serve~

There you go, a very simple recipe for teriyaki salmon.

Other recipes of homemade Japanese food which you may like to try:

Jun 20, 2014

Managed to get your hands on the first 嵐 event in Singapore?

Arashi 嵐, my favourite JPop group, is finally coming to Singapore... on the big screen.

Nevertheless, this is the first time Johnny's has held an 嵐 event in Singapore.

"I hope the Shaw server can take the traffic..."

And then the battle for the tickets for the public screening for 嵐ワクワク学校 (Arashi Waku Waku Gakkou) starts this afternoon.

12.01pm logged on to Shaw Website.
- keeps hanging, keeps refreshing -
12.20pm managed to select seats.
12.21pm OMG! I was kicked out by the system! I was already at the payment stage!!!
12.24pm Keep refreshing. 嵐ワクワク学校 page is not appearing.

Verdict... 嵐ワクワク学校 tickets sold out in 24 minutes?!



***Fortunately, Lady Luck was smiling upon my two friends... 托他们的福,我也得了一票!***

Wonder if Shaw will add another screening? It is really lucrative. A theatre's worth of $50 each tickets sold within half an hour.

Wonder what the battlefield will be like if 嵐 ever has an event in person in Singapore. Will the tickets be sold in seconds regardless of price???

Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to watching 嵐 on the big screen! :D 楽しみ!

Jun 13, 2014

Cafe Hopping in Malaysia ~ Cozy in the Rocket

Have you heard of "Amelie Cafe" in Penang? The hole in the kind type of cafe which oozes raw and rustic vibes.


Photo credit to Clauds Wu :)





The husband-and-wife team of "Amelie Cafe" has replaced "Amelie Cafe" with "Cozy in the Rocket", which is also in the neighbourhood.

Actually the encounter with "Amelie Cafe's" successor was purely by chance. 2 years later when I revisit Penang, I very much wanted to bring my parents to "Amelie Cafe", to show them her unique character. And of course, their desserts!

When we finally came to Lebuh Armenian, we were already tired, sweaty, and craving for some shelter. Exploring by foot in George Town during noon is no feat!

And I came across a cafe which reminds me of "Amelie Cafe". A little raw, with the handwritten signages, and yet cozy. However, "Cozy in the Rocket" is bigger, is air-conditioned, and ... the landmark plants decorating the shopfront are missing. Nevertheless, we went in...







Eh... the picture of the dog! I think I saw it before somewhere!

And it is.. it was in "Amelie Cafe", 2 years back:

Photo credit to Clauds Wu :)

But then I didn't know it was "Amelie Cafe's" successor yet. And I ordered a range of food for us - Mango and Passion Fruit juice, 100 plus canned drink, Aglio Oglio Spaghetti, Pork Spareribs Spaghetti and Coconut Panna Cotta. Everything costs us about RM90 odd. The pasta were a hit for my parents, though they are usually not keen on western cuisine. And the dessert Coconut Panna Cotta was a major hit amongst us.


Aglio Oglio Spaghetti: Bacon strips were still crispy. Yums!


Pork Spareribs Spaghetti: Very generous with their homemade bolognese sauce.


Coconut Panna Cotta: Truly 入口即化! Slurps!

If I knew "Cozy in the Rocket" was "Amelie Cafe's" successor, I would have made desserts my mains!

TIP
I went on a weekday afternoon, and it was only the husband-and-wife team on duty. One in the kitchen, one in the hall. So... be patient. Enjoy the air-con while waiting for your order :)

Oh ya... they have improved a lot on their toilet facilities as well. No longer was it dim and dark. It is now located out of the air-con premises, and has two cubicles, all clean, bright and cheery. :)

Location:
Cozy in the Rocket
262 & 264, Lebuh Pantai, George Town, Penang.



"Cozy in the Rocket" is easy to locate it as it is next to the street art lane, and there are many popup stalls along that street now. So.. go with the crowd :)

Opening Hours:
11am - 4pm, Closes on Mondays


Penang - Short Getaway Must-Dos

Two years later, I am back at Penang! This time I am the impromptu tour guide, bringing my parents around. Based on my experiences from my two trips, here's a short list of the must-dos in Penang.

Confession
I've recently added Danbo to my family... so you will see Danbo almost everywhere in the pictures that follow. :P Be warned ... Cuteness ahead... :P

What to see?

Pinang Peranakan Mansion

My personal choice of the must-see destination in Penang would be Pinang Peranakan Mansion. In fact, it's a hotspot for wedding shoots as well. On the two visits I made to the mansion, there were couples doing their wedding shoot, in their gowns and suits. It is also the location where Mediacorp's "小娘惹 The Little Nonya" was shot.







TIP

Do not worry about their no photography and videography note posted on their official website. When I bought the tickets, they specifically told us we can take photographs. And everyone is doing so, as well.

A well preserved mansion that acts like an museum for Peranakan artefacts, it recently added an annex. This annex is air-conditioned and offers more services, such as a Peranakan restaurant, souvenir shops, and even a jewellery counter that sells pre-loved antique Peranakan jewellery. There were more displays of Peranakan jewellery and accessories.



Remember to take off your shoes before you take the stairs to the second storey of the mansion.









Street Art



In conjunction with the George Town Festival, George Town was revitalised with guerilla street art.

I didn't manage to find all street art... too many!

Here're the ones I located:



Notice the two very similar ones, which I labelled "2012" and "2014"? They touched up the paint and added a "half bicycle" permanently to that art installation.

The tourism board of Penang even produced pamplets on George Town's street art. You can grab one at the airport!

Sleeping Buddha - Wat Chayamangkalaram Temple

Wat Chayamangkalaram Temple houses a 180-foot long Sleeping Buddha.


It is currently undergoing some renovation. Colours are being revitalised:



TIP
Remember to take off your shoes before entering the temple's premises.

Next to Wat Chayamangkalaram Temple is the Burmese Buddhist Temple.



Find out where other gigantic Buddha statues are located:



What to eat?

Char Kway Teow - Penang Style

This is my favourite hawker haunt in Penang - Gurney Drive Hawker Centre, also known as Anjung Gurney. If you stay at G Hotel. This food paradise is just a few steps away. Facing G Hotel, on the right is Gurney Plaza, and then next, on the right is Gurney Drive Hawker Centre.



It's an open-air hawker centre, with loads and loads of local cuisine options.

And I highly recommend you to try Stall 71 Char Koay Teow. (It's spelt differently from our version: Char Kway Teow) RM6 per plate. I think they increased their prices, but they also increased their manpower, so it's now more efficient, though the queue is still as long.



This is how it was in 2012:


Now there is another auntie who is frying Char Koay Teow, and more helpers to keep track of orders, payments and washing.

Penang's char kway teow is different from Singapore's. You have to try it. And this stall's chay koay teow is very well-fried, ingredients are fresh too. Prawns are big and fresh~


Stir-fried Bittergourd with eggs 苦瓜炒蛋- Song River Cafe Style

Yes! Bittergourd. Nope, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. You must be wondering why am I recommending bittergourd dishes to you, instead of what Song River Cafe is famous for - their Bak Kut Teh.

TIP
Song River Cafe 松花江餐室 is featured in several travel guides on Penang.



Mmm.. actually I think their Bak Kut Teh was just so-so.

But their stir-fried bittergourd with eggs is heavenly! The best bittergourd dish I have ever tasted. Yeah.. even better than Okinawa's, and Okinawa is the place that is famous for their bittergourds!

Bittergourd doesn't taste bitter anymore.. somehow.. I wonder well. But it blended very nicely with the eggs. Note it's 蛋花, and not the usual fully cooked eggs we often see at our foodcourts.



It seems easy to make.. since ingredients are simple and easy to source - eggs, bittergourd and soya sauce. But... I can't achieve Song River Cafe 松花江餐室's delicate balance.

Location:
65,Persiaran Gurney, 10250, George Town, Pulau Penang



Where to shop?

Again, if you stay at G Hotel, shopping malls are very near you. Besides the just-next-door neighbour, Gurney Plaza. There is now a new mall called Gurney Paragon Mall, just on the left of G Hotel, a few more steps away.

Gurney Plaza is huge and has almost everything. Branded shops like Coach, Chanel, Armani Exchange and so on... And it has late night entertainment options like cinema theatres (Golden Screen), KTV (RedBox) and even the gym (Jatomi Fitness). Of course, not forgetting all the dining options and pubs and coffee joints (You have both Starbucks and Coffee Bean just opposite each other).

TIP
A&W is no longer located in Gurney Plaza. *Weep* A loss of another Singaporean favourite. (To understand the irrational craving for root beer float and curly fries - there are no A&W outlets in Singapore, after they moved out in 2003.)

Location:
Gurney Plaza, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.



Now, more about the new cousin in the neighbourhood, Gurney Paragon Mall. The biggest draw... it has H&M and Kate Spade! And of course, it's new. Very new. Likely just opened within these two years, as when I was visiting Penang 2 years back, the mall was still in the midst of construction. Since it's the new kid on the block, not all shops are filled. Maybe about 90% is filled.

Location:
163-D, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.



Where to take a break from all that walking and shopping?

Coffee Elements

Since we are on the topic of shopping, let me introduce you to Coffee Elements.

We had Cafe Latte, Energy Refresh, (I was told by the staff it's like a lemon-grass drink. But it's more than that! I loved my drink. 有甘甜的 aftertaste.) Red Velvet Cake and Carrot Cake.

Somehow.. the carrot cake was a hit between my parents. You can try ordering this for your seniors next time you are nearby.



Location:
3rd floor of Gurney Paragon Mall

Cozy in the Rocket

If you were exploring downtown at George Town, then do not miss "Cozy in the Rocket". Tucked in Lebuh Armenian area.

A quick observation... perhaps due to the boom of street art in George Town, there are now a lot more tourists, especially around Lebuh Armenian area. They are more popup stalls catering to tourists too.

Actually I was on the search for "Amelie Cafe", which I visited with Huishan 2 years back. At that time, "Amelie Cafe" was featured in Straits Times!

A quaint little cafe with style of its own- "Amelie Cafe" back in 2012:


I could not remember the exact location... but vaguely remembered it should be around Lebuh Armenian or thereabouts. Then I stumpled upon "Cozy in the Rocket", also a cafe, which emits similar vibes as "Amelie Cafe", but not quite her, as "Cozy in the Rocket" was way bigger, and it is air-conditioned! It's like an oasis to us, as it was a really hot and sweaty afternoon exploring George Town on foot.

And... it's only now.. when I am back, that I found out that "Cozy in the Rocket" is actually the upgraded version of "Amelie Cafe"! Not only it is air-conditioned, twice its size, brighter... the toilet facilities are way better and cleaner as well! By the way, Amelie Cafe is now defunct, as "Cozy in the Rocket" replaces it.

Now... the layout in "Cozy in the Rocket":


They served drinks, coffees, pasta and desserts.

I highly recommend their desserts! Too bad, I only ordered one that day. But it was wonderful! Must try!

Coconut Panna Cotta


Read on to find out my more extensive review of "Cozy in the Rocket".

Location:
262 & 264, Lebuh Pantai, George Town, Penang.



Opening Hours:
11am - 4pm, Closes on Mondays

Where to stay?

For both of my stays, I used G Hotel as my accomodation. Basically because of its location. Just next to the mall, no worries about catching a late-night movie. And it is just a few steps away from the yummy local food paradise, Gurney Drive Hawker Centre.

Other perks:

  • Free wifi in room and lobby. Signal is pretty strong.
  • Free complimentary welcome ice-cream
  • Free bar (drinks in fridge are free)
  • Included breakfast buffet (I loved their spread!)


And I managed to get an extra bed without extra charge when they ran out of twin rooms for my superior room reservation. It costs RM1650.10 for 2-nights in a Superior Room (king bed with extra add-on bed) for 3 people. Hence, it costs about SGD110 per person per night.



Comparing with my previous stay, I think their standard of service has improved, too.

It is about 40min away from the airport. From the airport to the hotel, if you booked via the airport taxi counter, it's at the fixed price of RM44.70.



From hotel to airport, it is a fix price of RM40.

I always asked the hotel staff to help me call for cabs. I can also check with them on the prevailing rates. Seems like now taxis don't go by the meter. They still do on my first trip 2 years back.

That's all~ Hope you find this guide useful as you plan your trip in Penang!