Sunday, July 26, 2009

Capellini with Pan Seared Scallops and Back Bacon

HY was out having dinner with friends this Friday night. Just back from office and lazy to get food in the nearby hawker centre. So I decided to ransack my fridge to see what's there for cooking a dinner good enough for a lonely husband. I cooked a portion enough for two, ate one portion and kept one portion in the fridge. The capellini that I heat up in the microwave the next morning still taste pretty good. Glad HY's not keen on heavy breakfast ..... Slurp!

Ingredients (for 2 servings):

2 servings of capellini or angel's hair
4~5 slices of back's bacon chopped up into small pieces (my last few slices that's gonna go overdue)
4 pieces of scallops (frozen US scallops, I'm sure you'll do better with the fresh ones)
1 sprig of rosemary
1 sprig of thyme
1 sprig of parsley
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion chopped up finely
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter

Method :

Making the herb with olive oil
1) Chop the rosemary, thyme and parsley leaves into fine bits. Scoop up about 1 teaspoon and place into a soup bowl.
2) Add 4 tablespoons of extra virgin oil and mix them up. Leave them aside.

Stir frying the onion and bacon
1) Heat up 1 tablespoon of oilive oil and stir fry the chopped onions. When the onions are softened, leave them aside in a plate.
2) Place the bacon in the pan and stir fry with medium heat until some fats melt off the bacon and the edges slightly brown. Add the onions back into the an to stir fry. Leave them aside.

Pan Searing the Scallops
Melt butter in the pan and place the scallop on one side. Cover the pan with a top. Flip the scallop over when one surface is slight browned. Repeat on the oppsite face of the scallop. Leave the scallops aside to drain off excess butter when they are done.

Preparing Capellini
1) Boil about 500ml of water. Cook the capellini with the boiling water for 2~3 minutes until it soften and able to swirl freely in the water. Do not overcook.
2) Strain away the water and rinse the capellini under the tap for a while. Toss the capellini in the strainer to drain as much water out as possible.
3) Whisk the olive oil and herb mixture to "wake" it up. Place the capellini into the the bowl and mix gently.
4) The onion and bacon into the bowl and mix them up.

Split the capellini into 2 plates and the top them with 2 scallops each. Sprinkle a little parsley flakes over the scallops.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My "Ferocious" Lobster Bisque Recipe

Ingredients to serve 4 people
2 fresh lobster (about 1kg each not too big as the meat becomes tougher)
3 cubes of Fish Stock (Knorr brand)
3 litres of water (for stock)
1 tablespoon olive oil
20g of butter
2 carrots (chopped)
2 stalk of celery (chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
4 tbs white wine
1 teaspoon Parsley flakes
200 ~ 300g of tomato paste
200g of thickening cream
1 tablespoon flour (for starch)

Preparing the lobsters:

1. I got the lobsters fresh from the seafood seller and got them to separate the lobster head and body (save me the hastle of chopping a flustered lobster). I got them to trim the feelers short too. Bring it home to refrigerate until you need to use it.

2. Before cooking wash the lobster under a running tap with a medium soup pot. At this point the lobster may still be moving but not as vigorously now (you may still see little twitches and movements but nothing spectacular). Pour away the water and leave it aside.

3. Flip the tail end of the lobster with the underside facing upwards, the top hard shell on a chopping board. Cut a slice on the soft shell, using a scissors, to expose the meat inside. The shell here should be softer than the top side. This is to allow the meat to be more uniformly cooked later. I was trying to use the top side as a decoration so I'm not creating any incision on the top shell. Otherwise, simply split the lobster tail in half with a knife.

Method :

1. Throw the 3 cubes of fish stock into the soup pot (I used a 12" soup pot) into 3 litres of water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn to low heat and continues to simmer.

2. While the fish stock is cooking, heat up a frying pan, add the olive oil and then the butter. Stir fry the carrots, onion and celery until they are soft and then add them into the pot of fish stock.

3. Add the 2 lobster heads into the soup pot (at this point I still see some feelers and leg movements even when the lobster heads were severed 2 hours ago). With a big soup ladle, place a lobster tail into the soup pot until the meat is half cooked (if the lobster tail is not split as mention above, the meat will not be cooked uniformly). Put the half cooked lobster tail aside in a plate. Repeat with the next lobster tail. Leave the stock to simmer.

My lobster heads in the pot of vegetable and fish stock

4. Remove the lobster meat from the tail carefully (so that the tail shell will not be damaged, else the lobster bisque don't look as "ferocious" anymore). Throw the shells back into te stock to simmer with the head. Cut the half cooked lobster meat into smaller bite chunks.

My Half Cooked Lobster Meat

5. When the stock is reduced to half, remove the vegetables, shells and lobster heads. I used a strainer and ladle for this purpose. Keep the lobster heads and lobster tail shells. Throw the rest away (not the soup stock OK?). At this point, taste the soup stock as a reference.

All strained out

6. Add 4 tablespoons of white wine and stir the soup.

7. Add 1 teaspoon of parsley flakes ( you can used fresh parsley if you like) into the soup.

8. Add the tomato paste in portions and stir. Taste the soup to see if you'll like more tomato taste over the lobster's flavor. You don't want so much that you end up drinking tomato soup. Leave the soup to simmer for 10 mins.

8. Add the thickening cream and stir till the soup is uniformly colored. At this point judge if you'll like the soup to be thicker. If you'll like to add the starch in gradually till it's your prefered thickness.

9. Split the lobster meat into four portions. With a ladle, dunk each portion, into the soup until its just cooked and then placed the meat into the soup plate.


Normal plating - Pour the soup into each soup plate and sprinkle some parsley flakes. Add some more wine if you'll like to. Add a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
My "Ferocious" Lobster Bisque plating - Placed the lobster head at on end of the plate and the lobster meat at the center and then followed by the lobster tail shell (see first photo at the top). Sprinkle some parsley flakes and then add a dash of salt and pepper to taste.

Close up of the chunks of meat between lobster head and tail

Sunday, July 5, 2009

姜汁撞奶 "Collision of Ginger Juice and Milk" ........ Ginger Pudding

As a lover of both ginger and milk, I came close to ecstasy when I had Ginger Milk Pudding in dessert shops or restaurants. The first time I came across Ginger and Milk Pudding was in the streets of Kowloon, Hong Kong. In Cantonese, they call it, 姜汁撞奶, directly translated as "Collision of Ginger Juice and Milk", which is exactly what it is. I can't imagine how easy it is to create this dessert at home until I tried it today. The goodness of ginger and milk into one. Isn't that marvelous?

My bowl of "Collision of ginger Juice and Milk"

Recipe for 2 servings -

Ingredients :
4 tablespoons of Old Ginger Juice
2 tablespoons of Sugar
400ml of Full Cream Fresh Milk

Method :
1. Extract the ginger juice from some old ginger (click on the link for, "How to extract ginger juice").
2. Pour milk into a sauce pan and add sugar under low heat. Stir gently till all the sugar has melted and leave it to simmer till bubbling just occurs. Remove from heat and stir gently to cool for a while.
3. In a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of ginger juice. Wake it up by stirring the juice.
4. Steadily pour the milk into the bowl while gently layering the ginger into the milk. After that, leave the mixture to cure for about 10 minutes. Do not stir the mixture after you are done pouring. (When milk is added to ginger juice, a chemical reaction takes place, and the mixture coagulates into a curd like texture.)
5. Repeat step 3 and 4 for the second bowl.
6. When a light tap with a teaspoon do not penetrate the surface, the Ginger Milk Pudding is ready to serve.


Sharing my Ginger Tea Recipe

I have been a very fond of Teh Halia (ginger flavored milk tea) ever since I was first introduced to the drink by my dad. The lingering spiciness after a mouthful of the drink is what I was most looking forward to. Call this personal sadomasochism if you must.

This type of ginger tea, ginger infused into black tea, is the kind found in the local sarabat stall (An Indian Muslim drink stall). However, the recipe I am sharing is just made from ginger without the black tea. This recipe was imparted to me by a Balinese lady at a spa where I had regular body massage and I love the ginger tea that they made.

I've heard about the goodness of ginger from my grandmother and my mother. Some use it as a rub to relieve pain from sore muscle (as practiced by my grandmother before). Ginger is also used in massage sessions for the same purpose. It is known to improve blood circulation, relieving stomache gas, arthritis and the list goes on ........

Visit Wonders of Ginger which describes the goodness of ginger in a nutshell.
Here's the ginger tea recipe imparted to me from a Balinese lady who works in a spa that I frequent. This is good for 2~5 people. It help me improve digestion and soothe a chronic joint problems.

Simple Ingredients :

1) 2 pieces of old ginger about the size of your palm. It must be the old ginger to get the "oomph" for spiciness. This should be enough to extract 200ml of ginger juice. If there's more than enough, you can store it in your refrigerator and then use it another time.

2) 1 or 2 pieces of honey rock sugar. This type of sugar can be commonly found in Chinese Medicine Hall. You can substitute this with honey. I've tried this with Manuka Honey and it taste good too.

Procedure :

1) Peel the light brown skin off the ginger

I'm using a fruit knife for this purpose which may not be too appropriate but I find that I can easily scrap the skin off the "valleys" between two close branches of the ginger. (Now I use a spoon to scrap off the skin. Works well.)

Peeled ginger

2) Grate the ginger with a grater to a slight coarseness. This is for extracting the ginger juice with minimal cloudiness. I've tried the blender but somehow I prefer the taste of my ginger tea made by manual grating.

My coarse ginger puree

3) Extract the ginger juice by placing the grated ginger on the strainer and then press with a table spoon. There should be better tools then what I'm using for the extraction, but it's all I have that can do the job in my kitchen.

My ginger juice in a glass container. You can store extra ginger juice in the refrigerator to use another day.

4) With 200ml of the ginger juice mix about 600ml of water. Bring the mixture to boil and then turn to a low flame and then add about one piece of the honey rock sugar. Stir till the solution is boiled. Control the portion of sugar to suit your personal taste. The yellowish mixture will turn brown.

It's ready to be served. Just be aware that it may be too spicy for you. Drink it in small portions or dilute it with more water if you find that it's too spicy.

Wanna try some?