Dong Po Rou 东坡肉 – Twice-cooked Pork Belly

13 Sep

Everytime I meet a deadline for my thesis, I would be told to go straight to bed. Get some rest. Repay my ‘perpetual sleep debt’ (as coined by my dear friend with the Seemingly-Small Mouth). However, the first thing I think about after each deadline, as exhausted I may be, would be food. To either pore through a magazine or raid my cookbooks, so I can cook, or bake, or BOTH. Cooking sometimes is a luxury for me now, simply because I enjoy it so much and could spend so much time on it, so much so that none of my uni work ever gets done. So usually by the time I click the ‘Send’ button on the new email window, I would already be browsing through foodblogs, looking for inspiration for the next meal.

Dong Po Rou (东坡肉)

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Thank you, Tetsuya

5 Aug

‘… Oh, and, book Tetsuya’s.”

I broke into a big smile, and proceeded. Just a couple or so weeks before the Family were due to arrive, and I secured a table for 6 at Tetsuya Wakuda’s 3-Hat restaurant.

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A gift that’s a cut above the rest

23 Jun

Rachel and I have been friends since we were 8 years old. Besides primary school where we met, we grew up in completely different schools, but we remained friends to this day. So it was natural for me to put her up at my place in Sydney while she was visiting for a month, I would think, and I really don’t think too much about it, really. After all, what are friends for? Especially after 15 years of friendship!

But Rachel insisted on getting me a gift anyway, as a thank you and parting gift. I was completely bowled over and left flabbergasted as the box was presented to me, with Shun stamped proudly on the lid. Not quite knowing what to say is an understatement to describe how I was. Just a day or two before we were at the Essential Ingredient, and I went ga-ga over the display knife – hard not to do when I have been keeping my eye out for a good chef’s knife for some time now. Rachel, who had been stressing over what to get me as a gift, saw it as a beacon of light, and worked out a plan to amuse then astound me.

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Cookbook mania

14 Jun

31 hours since my last sleep, my body crashed and I wake 14 hours later, half of the Queen’s birthday already gone. Yes, I still hear the voice in my head go, “What Queen?! There’s no Queen in Australia!”, and contrary to what my friend told me, that it is the celebration of the current Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday, it is NOT. It’s just a day recognised as a public holiday in all Australian states except Western Australia. Don’t ask me why, read it here. In any case. PUBLIC HOLIDAY.

The first thing I remember thinking when I woke, besides the guilt of sleeping in and not having woken up to a morning call as my phone lay buried in my bag on silent mode, was PANCAKES.

Unfortunately, there were no pancakes. Sorry to disappoint. -pats own shoulder-

I did, however, decide to get out for a breath of ‘fresh’ air (I live in the city.) and some eggs. I pondered and decided against a deceivingly quick (I know it won’t be) expedition to a nearby cookware store, practicing self-restraint in the name of ‘Getting data analysis done’ and… walked into Kinokuniya.

I have a thing with bookstores. Since I learnt how to read, and as a young, once-skinny, child, I would read everywhere and anywhere, very often to my own detriment (Sprained ankle reading while walking down stairs), or to others’ annoyance (During mealtimes). Libraries and I never shared the same affinity, probably due to the lack of selection and because I had to return them. I wasn’t allowed to buy books simply because I would read the Parents broke and I think they caught on to that. I therefore rented books. Still. Bookstores had the selection and newest books, and sometimes you’d pick up a hardback that has not been molested previously by similar intrigue, the sound of the spine conceding, the smell of paper and print hits you, the glossy pictures (Nowadays of food more than anything).. I digress.

Such is the habit that I naturally walk into any bookstore, finding myself in one before I have actually decided to walk in. I have practiced restraint over the years, and I have learnt to do some shopping as opposed to sitting alone in a huge bookstore for hours before I was collected at the end of a shopping day, but you know, people slip up. And over the years, I no longer found myself in the ‘Fiction’ section, but in the ‘Cookery’ section.

I have a fair collection of cookbooks, magazines, food-related books, and other food-related publications. No, I have not cooked everything in those cookbooks and magazines, and I admit I have not pored through every single page and word. It is without a doubt that my passion for food and cooking is the basis for my obsession with food literature, but the books I choose are not just useful references and a wealth of ideas, but actually a reflection of how I relate to food, or would like to, how ever you might like to view it. How I wish to eat or cook, how I was brought up with food in my life, how I would like to be involved with food for the rest of my life.

At this juncture, I’m sure I would be questioned by the Family as to how this ‘thing’ with food came about, seeing as how I was a picky eater for the first, greater part of my life, and I never really took part in any discourse about food with the Family, or took an interest in the family business when we ventured into food. Gee. I would like to know too. But I suppose, it was always there, and for that I have to thank the Family. I never got involved as I thought that it was an area of life covered well by the rest of the Family, and I simply enjoyed the ride. But being on my own in Sydney has definitely got me involved with food on a more personal level. To this day, little things dawn upon me, and I realise I have truly come full-circle, and that you really can’t deny what you have been brought up with.

The cookbooks are not just books filled with recipes to cook everything in them. I am, and have been, truly fighting with every ounce of my being to avoid being corny and cheesy and gushy, but.. I find them inspiring, alright? Food articles about food issues educate and makes me feel defensive from time to time; Recipes guide and inspire me; and the authors’ stories not only amuse me, but also allow me into a world I either relate to, or aspire towards. It’s all a bunch of mushy greasiness here, so feel free to throw up in your mouths, but that’s it, that’s my spiel on food – That’s my defence on my cookbook mania and similar. So cast your verdict, but I am not changing my stand.

Of course I don’t mean to buy everything that is out there, that is, in no means, realistic thinking at all (Though one can DREAM to own the entire food literature section, right?), but some girls buy Louis Vuitton bags, Bottega wallets, and Jimmy Choo pumps – I buy food-related books. So I will continue to let my legs take me into them bookstores, and get inconveniently sidetracked for longer periods of time than ideal (Sorry, TheEvilTwin, but you were in MY neighbourhood and you followed.). And perhaps, guiltily, but delightfully, I will eventually leave that bookstore, with a shiny, beautiful new purchase.BLISS.

*Note: I practiced self-restraint, and I walked out of Kinokuniya today without a single purchase, albeit a lot later than I had planned… And I got my eggs.

Tastes like home: Linda’s Home Kitchen

7 Jun


The Family, for as long as I can remember, have always spoken about opening a restaurant. Many would hold their ground and affirm that their own mothers were the best cooks in the world, and I am no exception. It has always been a family dream to put The Mother’s food out there, and last September, we finally made the dream into reality: Linda’s Home Kitchen was born.

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Frenchylala

19 May

I am completely envious of my Neighbour (Yes, my friends all requested for ‘cool’ pseudonyms -.-). She has a nice full kitchen – Big frost-free fridge with separate freezer, a built-in proper oven, things which I don’t have in comparison to my gas stove and microwave oven. Plus, she has the space to hold big dinner parties, and all the equipment for it! And so she did – have a French-themed dinner party, that is.

Disclaimer: Please do not ask me what Frenchylala means. I have no clue. The Neighbour also has no clue.

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Cementing my status as a Korean ‘ahjumma’

14 May

I started cooking Korean dishes since 2008, desiring to recreate the food that I had fallen in love with. For some reason, there’s something about Korean cuisine that speaks to me, and comforts me. Obviously, I love kimchi, and after going through way too much kimchi in too short a time, plus wanting to make my own, I started making my own kimchi – which began my days known as a Korean ‘ahjumma‘ (아줌마).

An ‘ahjumma’ literally means, a ‘married woman’, but it basically means to all who know it, a Korean mother, an ‘auntie’! I have met several native Koreans and Australian Koreans in the past year or so, and while we have all become close friends now, they still find it amusing that a non-Korean speaks Korean and cooks Korean food. Sheesh.

I was talking about Korean food with some of my Korean friends and I had a major craving for spicy rice cakes with ramen – rabokki (라볶이), and Korean sushi – kimbab (김밥). I remember a cold winter’s night last year after a long day of uni, a friend and I were starving and craving for Korean food. She explained that when she was studying in high school in Korea, she would have ddeokbokki and kimbab pretty much everyday, because it was just simple, easy, cheap, and oh-so-yummy. I loved it too, and we polished off more than we should have at 11pm that night. Talking about it again brought back the memory of the satisfaction I felt after eating that night, and I just wanted to recreate that feeling and share it with my friends. Hence, my Korean night!

Rabokki - Ramen and Ddeokbokki (Spicy rice cakes)

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