Japanese Katsu Curry Night!!

And so, last night we had a Japanese themed dinner with:

  1. Chicken Katsu – Panko battered chicken breast
  2. Pork Katsu – Panko battered pork chops
  3. Japanese Vegetable Curry
  4. Grilled Miso Eggplants
  5. Braised Daikon in Dashi Stock
  6. “Agedashi” Tofu
  7. Steamed Broccoli with Peanut Sauce
  8. Very Garlicky Fried Rice
  9. Glutinous Rice Balls in Ginger Soup (Tang Yuan)

As usual, no proper recipes for savoury food (it’s all by taste), but I’ll give the basic steps so that you can make them on your own to suit your palate.

Chicken and Pork Katsu

  • Butterfly whole chicken breasts in half and pound them till they’re about a centimeter thick. Do the same for the pork loin chops. (Place them inside a plastic bag and pound them with a rolling pin). Marinate the meat with salt and pepper (or any pre-made sauce).
  • Place three plates in sequential order (as close as you can to the deep fryer). With the plate closest to the deep fryer, spread out panko bread crumbs, in the middle plate with whole beaten eggs, and the furthest with 1 cup of cornflour and 1.5 cups of plain flour.
  • With the hot oil heated to 180-190 degrees celsius, first coat the meat liberally with flour, followed by the beaten egg, and lastly with the panko crumbs. Slip the panko-crusted meat into the hot oil and fry for 5 minutes (or 2.5 mins each side). While the meat is deep frying, repeat the coating steps for the next piece of cutlet. Once done, lift the crispy cutlet out of the oil and let it sit on a kitchen towel to drain off the excess oil. I made a total of 10 pieces of cutlet and it took me an hour to finish deep frying. By the time everything was done, the very first piece was still as crispy!

Japanese Vegetable Curry

  • Dice carrots and potatoes into 1cm pieces (about 6 small carrots and 5 small potatoes). Slice a bunch of spring onions into 1cm widths and set aside.
  • On a medium heat stove, heat a tablespoon of oil in a pot, chuck in the spring onions and sauteé for a minute, add in carrots and potatoes and stir-fry for 5 minutes until slightly tender.
  • Add in 1.4l of boiling water into the pot followed by the Japanese curry blocks (S&B Brand) and mix until well-combined. If you find that the curry’s a little too thick, just add a little more water. Lower the the heat and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Grilled Miso Eggplants

  • Pre-heat oven to 170-180 degree celsius (fan). Slice eggplants in half and score the flesh in a criss-cross pattern.
  • Mix miso paste, soy sauce (I insist on Kikoman), mirin and honey. If you prefer it to be sweeter, double the volume of mirin (which I did). Slather the paste onto the cut-side of the eggplants (about 1 sloppy tsp each) and place it in the pre-heated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Braised Daikon in Dashi Stock

  • Peel daikon radish, and slice into 1″ thick circles. In a 1l bowl/jug, mix boiling water, dashi stock powder, soy sauce (Kikoman again) and mirin. Taste and adjust accordingly. Place peeled and sliced daikon into a soup pot, top it up with dashi stock (just until it covers the surface of the daikon) and simmer on a low heat for 1 hour.

Very Garlicky Fried Rice

  • Cook sushi rice according to the directions given. (1.5 cups worth) and cool.
  • Add 1/3 cup of minced garlic (yes… it is that much) into 3-4 tablespoons of hot oil and fry until browned and toasted. Sieve the garlic bits from the oil and set aside.
  • In a hot wok, add in butter and garlic oil. Once it’s reached a high enough temperature, add in the cooled garlic rice and mix throughly. Use a ‘stabbing’ motion to break apart the clumps of rice (sushi rice tends to be stickier). Make an empty circle in the middle of the wok by pushing the rice to the side and place another tablespoon of butter in the middle. Crack in 3 whole eggs and start stirring/scrambling in a clockwise motion. As you do this, mix in the rice bit by bit and add in the cooked garlic until everything is well combined. Add salt to taste. (I wasn’t liberal with my salt since the rice was meant to go with the saltier curry sauce)

Japanese Dinner! Miso Eggplant Garlic Fried Rice Braised Daikon in Dashi Chicken & Pork Katsu

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Chocolate Caramel Pecan Tarts

Finally! An occasion to bake for! 

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Bev’s (a friend from the UK who has been away on holiday for a while). And since M & I are about to head to her’s for dinner, I thought it might be nice to make dessert for everyone.

I haven’t been baking for a really long time… and by that I mean nearly 6 months. Normally I love cooking for crowds and people. But now that I’m in England, Hull to be specific. I haven’t got any friends (not even the neighbours). So it’s just the two of us and I can’t make huge portions of anything lest I choose to waste it. There’s limited fridge and freezer space so I can’t afford to stuff it anymore.

I miss baking. Not much of savoury cooking (alright maybe the more decadent meals). So this was my opportunity to get kicking again. Decided on chocolate and caramel because that’s a flavour that many love. And M doesn’t eat fruits (so I shan’t make anything fruity).

I messed up on my sweet pastry dough. I didn’t weigh it down and it puffed up! So I ended up crumbling the original (albeit puffed) pastry and baking it till it was really dry and crispy (kinda like graham crackers) and blended it with more butter to make a ‘graham cracker crust’. Anyway, when that happened, I made smaller tart cases with the original pastry dough and remembered to weigh those down! So I had two versions.

No recipes here. But I could guide you through the layers.

  1. Base layer: ‘Graham cracker crust’ or sweet pastry dough
  2. Caramel layer: Salted caramel cooked on the pot
  3. Pecan layer: Whole pecans stuck on top of the caramel
  4. Ganache layer: Dark chocolate ganache poured onto the caramel and pecans

Sometimes I find it easier to search for individual recipes so you could experiment more.

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Tart 1Chocolate Caramel Pecan Tart 2

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Kale Chips (or Crisps if you’re British)

Whenever you hear the word chips (or crisps), it’s never associated as a healthy snack. I have an addiction to all things crunchy and crispy, or anything that my teeth can shatter. Potato chips are one of my greatest vice, pork crackling comes second and vegetable chips are absolutely delicious (especially the ones with beetroot and parsnip).

But of course you can’t have too much of everything. I would shove my face full of Kettle Chips any time of the day (Honey dijon being my favourite). One 28g serving is 150 calories, if I had an entire 150g bag that would be an astonishing 804 calories!!! If I had that every other day, I’d be a whale by now. And I’d rather be a porpoise.

Alrighty… There is a solution for my potato chip addiction; kale chips. They’re so easy to make, they require no oil or very little oil to crisp up, you control the amount of salt or spices that go into it. In fact, all natural is one of the best flavours you can get.

Preheat your oven to 110-120 degree Celsius. Lay out the dry leaves in one layer onto a baking sheet (a little bit of condensation from the bag is fine). Using an oil spray, mist a layer onto the leaves. Sprinkle some salt and garlic powder onto the leaves and toss it altogether. Place it in the oven and let it roast for 30 minutes (please check the leaves every 10 minutes while giving it a good mix). Let it cool completely before you pack it into an airtight container.

Apart from eating them straight up, you can crush them into tiny pieces and sprinkle them onto salads, rice or noodles. Kinda like seaweed sprinkles.

roast kale b&wroast kale tray

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Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

They’re almost like sun-dried tomatoes, except that you bought them for less!

When you’re short of time, or when you need to pack a punch in your meal, I’d say roast some cherry tomatoes for extra flavour and sweetness. Honestly these were so simple to make, and it took me less than 10 minutes to prepare and less than 2 hours to cook (during which you’re left to your own devices to entertain yourself).

I used cherry tomatoes knowing they’ll cook quickly since they’re smaller. Just halve all of them. Coat them in a light spray of neutral flavoured oil, add your additional flavours (garlic powder, chopped chives and shredded lemongrass for me). Remember that a pinch of salt doesn’t hurt since it makes it extra tasty and brings out the sweetness. Spread them out onto a baking sheet and make sure they don’t touch each other!

Place the tomatoes in a preheated oven at 140-150°C and let them roast for 1.5hrs to 2hrs. Just look out for your tomatoes while it’s cooking since all oven temperatures vary, and mine’s usually hotter than what it should be. If it looks like it’s too caramelised, just bring it out before you burn your goodies! If it doesn’t look shrivelled up just let it cook for a longer time.

Roasted Tomatoes

Roasted Tomatoes

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Chestnut Cake

I had the urge to bake after being back in Singapore for less than 3 weeks. Oh… the joy of baking high-fat, high-sugar goodies was just too good to resist. That’s my crack *lol. Eveline told me about Mel’s and Ine’s (new friend!) belated birthdays, and it just happened that my fingers were itching to do something.

There were too many options… Lemon curd cake? Victorian sponge cake? Vanilla apple cake? (but I’d never do chocolate cake in Singapore since the weather’s just too hot and chocolate’s a little ~meh) So I settled on my all time favourite snack; the chestnut. Locally they’re known as ‘Gao Lak’, and they sell them all year round (not just near Christmas or in winter like in most parts of the Western hemisphere). And they make great desserts, like the Mont blanc.

Chestnut Cake 2

Chestnut Paste

  • 340g Roasted chestnut (I used vacuum-packed ones)
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 cups Water
  • 30g Butter
  • 120g Whipping Cream
  1. Boil roasted chestnuts, sugar and water for 30 mins or until sugar syrup has thickened.
  2. Remove the chestnuts and save the syrup. In a food processor, puree the chestnut with butter and whipping cream. If the chestnut paste is still too dry, add in some of the sugar syrup until it resembles a soft, pliable dough.Chestnut Paste
This is what the Chestnut Paste should look like.

White Sheet Cake

  • 230g Butter
  • 240ml Water
  • 220g Plain flour
  • 200g Fine sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 120ml Sour cream
  • 1 tsp Vanilla essence/paste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
  2. In a saucepan, boil butter and water.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Continue to add in the eggs, sour cream and vanilla essence and mix well.
  4. Pour in the boiled butter and water into the mix and stir until well-combined.
  5. Line a 10 x 14 x 1″ baking sheet and place it on the middle shelf in the oven.
  6. Slowly pour the liquid batter onto the sheet and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Chestnut Cream

  • 170g Chestnut paste
  • 30g Icing sugar
  • 4 tsp Rum
  • 355ml Whipping cream
  • 2 gelatin sheets
  • 2 tbsp of boiling/hot water
  1. Combine chestnut paste, icing sugar and rum.
  2. Whip the cream until semi-stiff peaks form (texture of shaving foam). Put in in the refrigerator to keep chilled.
  3. Soak gelatin sheets in normal, room temperature tap water for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove gelatin sheets and squeeze out excess water and dissolve the soaked gelatin in 2 tbsp of boiling/hot water.
  5. Thoroughly stir and mix in one-third of the whipped cream and all the dissolved gelatin into the chestnut mix until well-combined.
  6. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream until well-combined and set aside.

Chestnut Buttercream

  • 100g Butter, softened
  • 120g Chestnut paste
  • 100g Icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp Rum
  1. Mix/blend butter and chestnut paste.
  2. Slowly whisk in icing sugar and rum and set aside.

Forming the Cake

  1. Make sugar syrup by heating 1/2 cup of fine sugar with 1 cup of water until dissolved. Add 1 tbsp of rum and let it cool.
  2. Brush sugar syrup liberally onto the White Sheet Cake and cut it into 3 equal portions (approx. 4″ x 10″).
  3. Place one layer of the white sheet cake onto a cake base and with a palette knife, layer Chestnut Cream over (about 1-1.5cm thick). Place the 2nd layer of white sheet cake and layer chestnut cream over again. Finally place the 3rd layer of white sheet cake and start icing and smoothing chestnut cream on all sides of the rectangular layered cake block. (the sides should be less than 1cm thick). Let it chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the iced cake block from the fridge and start icing the final layer of Chestnut Buttercream onto the cake block.
  5. You can decorate the sides by scoring patterns with a fork. And finish the top off with a dusting of cocoa powder and whole candied chestnuts.
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Chickpea Cake Bars

It’s been too long since my last food post!

I’m back in England now; married too… :p And trying to lead a healthy livestyle. No way am I going to put on 5kg like I did the last time when I was in England for 6 months. Only drawback? I’m limited to how much I can eat a day (extra calories = bigger me). By the way, I’m not on a diet. I eat what I want, I make what I need… Life goes on. And I’m definitely not starving myself, wait till you see the heap of food that I cook for myself and M. Sometimes it just looks too much, but things like vegetables aren’t that calorie dense. Besides that, I’m stuffing myself with protein. M is on a journey to get a six-pack, I’m on a path to getting fit and eating good, tasty food. Hence there were many times where we clashed, argued, quarrelled — he’s into his macronutrients (I’m not as bothered, but still have to be for his sake).

Anyways, I’m sure this dessert will win his stomach over. They’re uber-healthy, not as sweet, and really easy to make! You just need a food processor (well I suppose you could do it by hand too, you just have to mash everything together with a masher).

Chickpea Cake Bars

Makes 16 bars
  • 200g cooked chickpeas
  • 135g almond butter (or any nut butter, I reckon you can use softened dairy butter too)
  • 50g dark treacle
  • 60g sugar-free maple syrup (or real maple syrup/honey)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tbsp butter essence
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 large egg
  1. Preheat oven to 170-180 deg C. Line an 8″x 8″ tin (or anything vaguely similar) with baking parchment.
  2. In a food processor, dump everything (yes… that’s just it!) and process until well-combined. The end result should look like chunky peanut butter. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and even the surface.
  3. Bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes. Remove, cool, cut into 16 pieces and serve.

89kcal per serving | 5.6g carb | 3.8g protein | 5.6g total fat  (if you stick to the list of ingredients)

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Lazy Day Baking – Soy Nuts

When you have plenty of time on your hands, I highly recommend doing something that would be a plus to your absolutely boring day. That plus includes making a healthy snack for the long hours you know that you’ll be doing nothing, but watching an endless series of K-drama (in my instance — The King of Dramas).

I was down to my last tub of soy nuts & fruit mix at the office a few weeks back. And 7-11 didn’t sell them anymore 😦 What a pity, because I love crunching on the hard soy nuts. My back teeth are made for grinding and munching. Anyway I was inspired to make my own soy nuts ever since that tub became empty. Once again with help from the trusty internet, I managed to find several (but not a lot) recipes that featured roasted soy nuts. In short, most of them had the same method of cooking (but don’t ever trust what you read online even though their technique worked for them). Which means to say, you can ignore how I baked my soy nuts, but I’ll provide you with very basic instructions to follow, but deviations are definitely recommended!

I worked by volume rather than exact measurements for the Soy Nuts. Firstly, you start off with dried soy beans (I used black-eyed beans too) and soak them in water for at least 7 hours (most websites said 8, but I couldn’t wait). For the water, you just need to add 3-4 times the volume of dried beans that you have and let it expand! So once that is done just drain off the water and coat the beans with 2 tbsp of olive oil per baking tray (or whichever oil you have at hand).

Make sure that your oven is pre-heated to 180 deg Celsius. Once the beans are coated thoroughly, spread them onto the baking tray (or trays.. I used two since I had loads of beans!) Just space them out, make sure you’re not making a pile otherwise it’ll take longer for them to brown. Just a note that it helps if you oil your baking tray as well.

Place it in the oven and bake for one hour, during which you should be checking and turning your beans with a spatula every 20 minutes or so. The beans shouldn’t be browned at this point in time, but basically you’re steaming/ evaporating the excess water that it was soaked in. After that hour is up, lower the temperature to 140-150 deg Celsius and roast it for the next 2 hours, checking and mixing every 20 minutes or so until it’s browned and crispy. At this stage you should prepare the seasoning for your soy nuts. Mine was a small mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar, smoked paprika, a generic tomato & basil spice mix, one tbsp of olive oil & salt. Remove the browned soy nuts from the oven and pour all them into your seasoning and coat well. I mixed in a packet of pine nuts at this stage too. Spread them out onto your baking tray and bake for an additional hour (you needn’t toss and turn them during this time, but watch the oven).

Once done, let it cool completely before you mix in your dried fruits (I used sultanas). Voila!… Your very own hi-protein, low-carb Soy Nut Mix!

Soy nut mix




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