Boiled Aubergine With Crispy Garlic, Dried Shrimp Served On Beansprouts

I don’t know what happened lately that caused my home to be like pigeon nest. That’s what my sister said to me LOL. I guessed what she meant was there’s non-stop of guests at my home just like pigeons to their nests… hmmm… I don’t know where she got that phrase from. Anyway, this situation tells me it’s time to move to bigger space!

So, tomorrow’s going to be noisy and busy day but for tonight’s dinner, I have left over of japanese aubergine (again… :-P). I bought a lot because the price was very cheap plus it’s organic! Yesterday, I bought some juicy and crunchy beansprouts and some silken tofu (not sure what to do with the tofu yet.) Already, I baked and grilled the gorgeous small japanese aubergine aka Nasu. There’s 1 method I didn’t use for quite sometime – boiling. It’s one of my mom’s favourite ways dealing with aubergine besides charcoal roasting on top of her faithful portable terracotta stove with a small square opening at the base (I love making ‘firework’ with that stove LOL.)
With what I have from the fridge and short of time for dinner, this was what I came up with for quick yet light meal.

Boiled Aubergine With Crispy Garlic, Dried Shrimp Served On Beansprouts
2-4 nos Japanese Aubergines (Nasu)
5 cloves Garlic
10 g Dried Shrimps
100 g Beansprouts
1 nos Red Capsicum (Bell Pepper) or 1 Red Chilli
1 stalk Spring Onion
Some Shoyu or Light Soy Sauce
Some Oil
Method:
1. Washed the vegetables and toss them dry. Cut the aubergines into halves at last minute before boiling them. Slice the spring onions. Set aside.
2. Soak the dried shrimps to remove some saltiness for 1-2 minutes. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper and set aside.
3. Minced the garlic finely and chop the capsicum into 
4. In a small pan, pour in 1/4 cup of oil and when it’s hot add in the dried shrimps. Fry until fragrant and crispy. Remove and drain the excess oil with kitchen paper. Set aside.
5. In a pot, boiled some water with some salt. When it boils, add the beansprouts. Blanch the beansprouts for few seconds. Remove quickly and arrange on a serving dish/plate.
6. With same water, add in the aubergine halves and boil them until soften. Remove from pot and drain. Arrange aubergine halve on top of beansprouts.
7. Sprinkle the chopped capsicum and the fried dried shrimps on the boiled vegetables.
8. Now, this maybe a bit tricky… because you need to do fast before your garlic burnt.
In the pan that you fried the dried shrimp, add extra cooking oil; another 1/4 cup or  just enough for the boiled vegetables. When oil is hot again, add in the minced garlic. Fry the garlic until fragrant and crispy but not burnt.
Remove the pan from heat and with the garlic crisps still frying in the oil, pour all the contents all over the boiled vegetable. Yep, the vegetables will sizzles, don’t worry 😀 
9. Sprinkle sliced spring onions and drizzle generous amount of light soy sauce. Sniff and enjoy with hot rice or or a bowl of noodles.
Note: If  you can’t find dried shrimps, you can substitute it with minced fried salted fish of your choice eg. bacalhau, dried whitebait (shirasu), dried anchovy…

This dish may sound difficult at first but once you got your own method to fry quickly and pouring the garlic oil over the vegetables, is easy and fast to make. To eat it just stir or mix the ingredients. You will notice that it’s not oily at all. I love the gravy with plain white rice. 🙂
Enjoy!

Wakame With Prawns in Sweet Chilli Dressing

Wakame is a fascinating seaweed yet this plant plays very important role in the daily asian diet especially in Korea and Japan without us noticing the significant role it plays. The nutritious kelp, rich in protein, calcium, iodine, iron, folate and Lignan, an important phytoestrogens that may provide protection against certain cancers. Proponents of both raw food diet (aka ‘living food’ ) and macrobiotic diets, extol the life-giving and healthful properties of wakame along with other seaweeds. 

I eat a lot of seaweeds besides Wakame but also Hijiki, Konbu, Nori, Aonori, Arame, Dulse, Agar-agar (best known it’s usage in jelly preparation besides carrageenan and konyakku(sourced from devil’s tongue/konjac tuber.) You can get the dried colourful mixed seaweed salad as ‘ Kaiso’ mix in packets with Japanese Salad sauce included or without. I prefer to make my own salad sauce. Best if you can find Yuzu to make Yuzu salad vinegar – it’s so refreshing and delicious! Seaweed is good for health if you have over-active or under-active thyroid – in another word weight problem… 😛 Seaweed has high source of Iodine which helps the thyroid gland to function well. This is totally different if you take supplemental Iodine in liquid form compared eating natural food like seaweed, your body absorbs what it needs and discards what it doesn’t. Some seaweeds like Agar-agar, Hijiki and Arame were able to remove radioactive and toxic metal waste from our body.

Seaweed is a Umami-rich food. In other word, naturally occuring glutamate… better known as MSG. Foodies with MSG-sensitive please be caution with your intake… You can find more info at Umami Information Center.
Two days ago, I bought some fresh prawns and decided to use them with left over dried wakame for a quick meal. I ate this with plain hot rice and hot tea. Then ate some mooncakes as desserts 😀 I know it’s not the right time to eat mooncakes but I just can’t help myself to taste earlier before the festival. There were so many choices and flavours that I had the hard time to choose… not forgetting the beautiful boxes they came with. Even Häagen Dazs in asian region has their own version of Ice Cream Mooncakes!

Wakame With Prawns in Sweet Chilli Dressing
20 g Wakame or any seaweed of your choice
2-4 nos Fresh Prawns/medium to large prawns of your choice
10 g White Sesame seeds
2 tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbl Sweet Chilli Sauce
1 tbl Light Soya Sauce
1 nos Lemon – for juice only
Salt and Sugar to taste (optional)
Some clean water for soaking wakame
Method:
1. Soak dried seaweed in some water for 30 minutes or until doubles it’s size. Drain the soaked wakame from the water.
2.Wash, peel and devein prawns; In a small pot, boil enough water to cover the prawns. When water boils, drop in the prawns. Blanch the prawns until it changes to pink or lightly curl up. Remove, drain and set aside. 
Note: You can boil the prawns whole and remove the heads, tails and shells later. I always keep them for homemade stock. Put in a freezer bag and freeze them for later use.
3. In a separate pan, dry-fry (without oil) the white sesame grains until fragrant. Remove and roughly crush the sesame seeds.
4. In a bowl mixed the Sweet Chilli sauce, olive oil, light soya sauce, lemon juice until well combine. Add the crushed sesame. Adjust the taste with salt and sugar. If you like more sourish you can add in extra lemon juice. 
5. In 4 small bowls, divide the wakame into 4 portions. Add a cooked prawn for each bowl. Drizzle the sweet chilli sauce dressing  before serving. Serve cold as salad or appetiser with main meals. Serves 2-4 small portions.
Note:Alternatively, you can mix all together and let it sit in refrigerator 1-2 hours to marinate and then divide into desired portions. Sprinkle some sliced spring onions and toasted sesame seeds.
♫ Enjoy ♪

Jellyfish And Kyuri Salad

It had been long time since my last jellyfish meal 😛 Yes, you read it right  j-e-l-l-y-f-i-s-h that floating wobbly, water filled animal with long stinging tentacles that spells out trouble for swimmers and fishermen alike. Do you know jellyfish has no brains, no heart and no blood yet they can breed, hunt food and move about?! Jellyfish have existed for 650 million years! You can say that’s bizarre but it’s a delicacy and enjoyed by many people. As for me, I rather eat jellyfish anytime than turtles! 
Ok… I don’t know which species of jellyfish I’m eating but I guessed it’s edible and not endangered (?) species right? 😀 This batch was given to me by my neighbour. I think I got the tentacles part. Almost all the whole jellyfish parts can be eaten as mentioned by foodie bloggerMelting Wok.
Jellyfish And Kyuri (Japanese Cucumber) Salad
300 g Jellyfish (already prepared and cleaned by seller)
1 pc Japanese Cucumber (kyuri)
1 stalk Spring Onions
3 tsp  Rice Vinegar
3 tbl  Sesame Oil
4 tsp  Shoyu/Light Soya Sauce
1 tbl  Fish Sauce (Optional)
3 tbl  Sesame Seeds
4 tsp  Sugar
Some water to blanch the jellyfish
Method:
1. Wash jellyfish in fresh water. Drain and set aside.
2. In a pot, boil some water. When water boiled, pour the jellyfish into the hot boiling water. Blanch the jellyfish in few seconds (you will see that the amount will shrink in size) and quickly plunge it into cold water to stop the cooking. Drain the jellyfish.
3. When jellyfish is cold enough to handle, slice the jellyfish into smaller pieces. Set aside.
4. Wash the japanese cucumber: cut into halves lengthwise and remove the seeds. Slice them thinly. Set aside.
For the dressing:
1. In a small pan, roast the sesame seeds without any oil until fragrant and golden yellow. Crush lightly the seeds a bit to release the oil. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, shoyu until the sugar dissolves. Add in the sesame oil and sesame seeds. Stir the dressing well. Set aside until needed.
To assemble the salad; Mix the jellyfish and the japanese cucumber together. Pour in the dressing and mix well. Adjust the taste to your liking. Garnish with sliced spring onions. If you intend to serve the salad later, don’t add the dressing too early or you will end up with watery salad. Few minutes before serving is better because you also want the jellyfish to absorb the dressing…
Variation: You can add on to your sushi or top it up on Donburi meals. You can also add some chopped fresh chillies or chilli flakes to give that extra ‘kick’ 🙂
Jellyfish is one of sea turtles main food and that helps keeping the jellyfish in control but now with the dwindling of sea turtles population these jellyfish is back with vengeance! In countries that were badly hit with the surge of jellyfish population had cost lost of income to the fishermen. Only way to control this situation is to stop eating sea turtles (also their cousins) and their eggs or else we all end up eating jellyfish as food or the other way round!

Banana-A Multi-Purpose Plant

What is abundant, biodegradable, versatile, economical, cheap (if you’re in living in the producing region), multi-purpose usage, important in cultures and beliefs, etc, etc ,etc???

It’s Banana – just saying its’ name conjures up many finger licking thoughts… Fried, grill, raw, steam, flambé, bake, sauce, chips, curry, salads, you name it… it’s possible with this multi-purpose plant, we all love since our childhood years! Banana has fancy names too; Manzano, Baby/Nino Banana, Burro, Plantain, Cavendish (well known in US and as Chiquita in EU countries.) This fruit is so famous that even we, humans are named after it as well. Example:Banana Joe and movies or shows were made about it like Banana in Pyjamas that has kids all over the world going bananas!
I’m going bananas as well with so many species and hybrids of bananas available today… 😀 If you’re interested to know more infos go to Bananas.org. Believe me, you will go crazy as well! I guessed I just stick to those I knew locally in Malay archipelago (depends on which is the country) like Rastali, Emas, Embun, Lidah Buaya, Raja, Nangka, Tanduk, Berangan, Awak, Nipah, etc,etc etc. 😉
Besides all that, banana plant has many usage as well… Do you know that Banana plant is NOT a tree but a giant herb in the genus Musa? Due to its tall size and structure, a Banana plant is commonly referred to as Banana tree. Sometimes, a Banana plant bears 2 times the fruit instead of only once. To some cultures this is considered as unique and lucky for the owner of the plant. I guessed it’s due to commercial bred bananas that caused such mutation? Most species of bananas we ate today are seedless or have only the vestige of seeds for easy consumption… I ate ‘wild’ bananas before and the seeds are about 0.50 cm in dark brown/black colour! It’s difficult to find such wild fruits now due to heavy development of concrete jungle 😦
 
Banana Leaves are so famous as food wrapper and as ‘plate’ in Indian cuisine of Banana Leaf Rice… I’m a huge fan of Banana Leaf Rice! The strong, flexible and waterproof leaves are used in many different ways in regions where the tree is common. Another good example is Central American tamales are often steamed in banana leaves and Hawaiian Kalua cooking has the ‘imu’ (undrground oven) lined with banana leaves. The leaves imparts a wonderful fragrance in the cooked dishes.
My mom used it to ease the movement of her old charcoal iron on our family clothes (our clothes smell sooooooo good, crispy and fresh!) without using any easy-iron on spray 😀 You can do it with our modern day iron too. If you’re using a steam iron, turn off the steam; glide your hot iron across the banana leaves (it will sizzles) and strike across your clothes. 
Here are some pictures of the Banana Blossom/Banana Heart. I peeled off some petals apart to show the little florets…
Heart Of Banana Plant

Heart Of Banana Plant

Close up of Banana flowers

Close up of Banana flowers

Anyway, that aside… in this entry I want to share a recipe using the Banana blossom/Banana Heart as salad for side dish. It’s simple but what’s taking the time is the peeling of each of the florets, remove the hard stamens and boiling/steaming part… But the end results, definitely worth it!
Banana Salad

Banana Blossom Salad Served on Banana Flower Petals

Banana Blossom Salad
1 Whole Banana Blossom
To be chopped finely:
1 cup Fully packed Thai Basil
1 cup Fully packed Mint
1 cup Fully packed Coriander leaves
2-3 nos Limes – for juice only (or more if you like sourness)
4 nos Fresh Red Chillies (or 1-2 Tablespoons of Sambal/Chilli paste)
15 nos Shallots or Small Red Onions-slice thinly
50 g Bean Sprouts – blanched
50 g Roasted Pine Nuts/ Peanuts – roughly crushed (I prefer to use Pine Nuts)
Fish Sauce to taste
Sugar to taste
Method:
1. Prepare a deep bowl of water; you may add some lemon/lime juice or salt for soaking the banana blossom to avoid discolouration. Meanwhile, boil some water in a deep pot just enough to cover the banana florets and the ‘heart’.
2. Peel off the hard outer layers of the banana blossom but reserve the florets until you reach the ‘white’ part of the blossom. You can keep the petals as serving bowls or ‘boats’. For the florets, remove any hard stamens from inside the centre of each florets. Towards the end of that task, I normally didn’t remove the softer stamens; it’s soft enough to chew… 😛 
Soak all the florets and ‘white’ part of blossoms in the water.
Note: Some people would throw away the florets. I don’t know why but I used them (not wanting to waste the precious plant.) It’s edible as well.
3. In the boiled hot water, put in the ‘heart’ and florets. Boil them until just soft but still maintain the crunchy texture (that’s my preference but you can cook them until fully soft.) That would take 20 – 30 minutes or more depends the size of the ‘heart’ of banana. The little florets are faster to soften. Normally, I would remove the florets first, soak them in cold tap water to stop the cooking process then continue cooking the ‘heart’.
You can use pressure cooker to cook them. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and cook them for 15-20 minutes depends on the quantity and hardness of the banana ‘heart’.
4. In another small pot; blanch the beansprouts quickly in hot boiling water for few seconds; Remove and cool it in cold water to stop further the cooking process. Set aside.
5. When the florets and ‘heart’ are cooked, slice them thinly or roughly chop to bite-size if you like. 
6. Now, comes the easy part; In a separate/mixing bowl, mix nicely all the herbs, blanched beansprouts, chopped nuts, sliced chillies or paste, lime juice, sugar and fish sauce to taste. If you are using the reserved larger petals of the banana blossom for serving; spoon the salad mixture into individual petals, decorate and serve in plate or on a large banana leaf (you can cut into shapes you like or cut into several rectangle pieces according to how many guests you’re serving.) You can serve in a bowl (like in the picture below) to accompany your other main dishes… 
Banana Blossom Salad

Banana Blossom Salad

Enjoy!

Delicious Mango Salad… My Way

 

Once my class was given a question by our English teacher. In the midst of her teachings she asked us, to correct this – ” There are man goes (man-goes) on the tree”. It’s her way to jolt us from our ‘dreamland’ or she must had noticed someone or some of us nearly dozed off…:-D Her class is not boring at all, really… but after good lunch and windy fan spinning above our heads, the time for siesta in us sets in… 😀 

Mentioned the word m-a-n-g-o would make anyone swooned and salivating! Everyone will have their favourites… I love Black Gold, Chukanan, Waterlily to name a few. The mango fruit can be use in several ways; as desserts like well known Thailand’s  Khao Neow Mamuang (Sticky Rice with Mango), use unripe in savoury salad or as pickle sold by road side vendors, dipped in sour plum powder in Southeast Asian countries. Trust me, it’s so…soooo (drooling) deliciously fresh and when you dip the crunchy slices into the sour plum powder… mmmm…. then put into mouth … crunch… mmm….mmm… IT’s better than chomping chips & crackers minus the calorie!
Mango Salad

Mango Salad

My Way Mango Salad
Serves 2-4
2 nos Half Ripe Mangoes 
1 cup Basil Leaves- firmly packed and roughly chopped (Any basil will do. In this recipe I used Thai Sweet basil from my pot.)
2-3 Fresh Red Chillies
4-8 Small Red Shallots-remove skin and slice thinly
1/4 cup of Thai Fish Sauce (Nam Pla) or more to your taste
2 nos Limes- juice only
Lime zests (optional)
Raw Cane Sugar to taste (you can use white sugar too)
Method:
1. Remove the skin of mangoes. Slice the mangoes about 0.50 cm thin slices along the fruit until your knife touches the seed. Do the same for the other side of the mango. (Reserve the seed to eat what’s left later :-D). Roughly cut the mangoes into matchstick sizes. 
Note: Any type of half ripe mangoes can be use. Just beware that although Black Gold mangoes (Tong Dum in Thai) has dark green outer skin but inside is actually ripe with sweet orangy succulent flesh. Only way to tell if it’s ripe is the yellow tinge at the stem part and to lightly touch/press the fruit to feel if is soft for ripeness.
2. In a bowl: Slice chillies in halves and remove the seeds from chillies if you don’t want that hot. Thinly sliced the chillies. You can also roughly chop the chillies without removing the seeds but then you will end up eating seeds as well.
3. Add in the fish sauce, basil leaves, chilli and some sugar. Mix well and taste if you need to add in more sugar or fish sauce…
4. Pour in Lime juice little bit at first. Taste accordingly to your preference ( I used all 2 Limes plus the zest as well.) Add in more if you like more sourness. Add in the cut mangoes and stir well until well coated with the sauce.
Serve as side dish to rice, grill meat, seafood… even as toppings for steam fish to give it extra zing!
Note: You can prepare the sauce and the fruits in advance but don’t mix them too early because mangoes will wilt and losing it’s crunchiness. You will end up with soggy salad instead. 

You can also add in fried dried shrimp into this salad but I didn’t use it because some people dislike dried shrimps and said it made the salad kinda oily & cloudy