Month: February 2017

Spiced lamb meat balls with pumpkin, carrot and rice vermicelli (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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On the weekend we had a lovely lunch on Fort Denison, a small island in Sydney Harbor.  It was for Nadine’s 40s birthday. Nadine was originally from Melbourne. She fell in love with Bill, a Sydneysider. She moved to Sydney and settled in his small waterfront cottage by the river. There they are raising 2 gorgeous kids.

Bill has IBS – but not just the ordinary IBS. He is sensitive to most ‘common’ food including coconut milk, soy sauce and packaged meat from the supermarkets. Cooking for Bill is not just a challenge, it is a war against the modern world that many of us accustom to.

Every time I create a FODMAP dish, I think of Bill’s challenges. What are we really feeding ourselves nowadays and what consequence would follow?

Shop bought meat balls is one those food that you rarely know what you get. In this recipe, I used basic ingredients and work on blending the ingredients to achieve the flavors. Hope you will enjoy it.

Spiced lamb meat balls with pumpkin, carrot and rice vermicelli (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follows:

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Seaweed and egg soup 紫菜蛋湯 and the memory of GuangYa Middle School (low fodmap, gluten free)

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Seaweed and egg soup 紫菜蛋湯
Seaweed and egg soup 紫菜蛋湯

Recently, I reconnected with my high school mates on WeChat via a group chat. The high school, named the GuangDong Guangya Middle School, was one of the most prestige selective schools in the GuangZhou city. We all grew up to be proud and competitive individuals. Then we went on our separate paths to distinctively different lives. I selected a simple but busy life in Sydney – a job in the finance industry, a small family, a house with picket fences, a lovely garden, and a double garage full of beautiful crockery and cooking equipment – I love my cooking.

GuangDong GuangYa Middle School
Today’s GuangDong GuangYa Middle School

Bo, a school mate from Singapore had been posting his dinners every night in the group chat. He often has 5 dishes for his family of 4. The dishes are home style, plain and simple. A typical meal consists of a gorgeous seafood dish, an overcooked meat dish and 3 seasonal vegetable dishes bursting with freshness.  Sometimes we could tell how many were dining at home by counting the jumbo prawns. I was puzzled by Bo’s persistence and efforts posting his 6 meals a week, and occasionally meals from the restaurants when they ate out on Sundays. And a few days ago, he posted this story…

‘I live a simple and unexciting life, often with repetitive routines. There were seldom any exceptional events. However, the memory of this single incident at GuangYa Middle School I will always treasure. 

It was a very hot afternoon. We were attending a physical exercise class in front of the physic building. That day we had a basketball game. I was pushed over by a big fellow student. I fell and my left hand landed on the ground first. I could see my wrist was twisted, followed by sharp pains. I realized I had broken my wrist.

I was surrounded by teachers and students. The PE teacher asked who would accompany me to the local hospital which was within walking distance from the school.  Hong pushed through the crowd and took my arm. Hong was a quiet student, often with a few words and rarely smiled. I hardly spoke with him in the past. I was pleasantly surprised by him volunteering to help.

One thing was overlooked by the PE teacher – he didn’t ask if we had any money for the hospital. Those days most families were not well off and kids didn’t get much pocket money. I didn’t have any money on me that day. Luckily Hung had some money and he managed to pay for the treatment.  There was no x-ray machine at the local hospital. The wrist was bandaged and that was that. 

The next day after the math class, our math teacher, Feng, came over to my desk with a bowl of soup and a gentle smile . Feng was one of the strictest teachers and rarely showed her emotions. ‘This is a seaweed and egg soup’, she said, ‘you have it now while it is warm. It helps with your calcium intake and good for your bones.’  

I was speechless. Even my mum never cooked me a soup before (she didn’t really learn how to cook until she was retired).  I looked at Feng, who had returned to the teacher’s podium, I felt warmth all over. 

Despite her tough appearance, teacher Feng had a kind and caring heart. Many years later I connected with her via a video chat. She asked why I was still so skinny and said I should look after myself better.  

Next time I am in GuangZhou, I will visit Teacher Feng and cook her a big bowl of hot seaweed and egg soup.’

Ah, I can understand why Bo has been posting his dinners each night. Somehow he found deep connection with his food.

Bo's family meals
Bo’s family meals

 

The traditional egg soups are often made of ‘egg flowers’, means scrambling the eggs in hot water. I found scrambling eggs with seaweed was too messy.

So here is my version of a ‘neat’ seaweed and egg soup.

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Steamed pork and fennel dumplings 豬肉韭菜餃子

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A school mum gave me some fresh fennel and taught me how to make pork and fennel dumplings,  a popular dish from Northern China.

Steamed pork and fennel dumplings 豬肉韭菜餃子
Steamed pork and fennel dumplings 豬肉韭菜餃子
Steamed pork and fennel dumplings 豬肉韭菜餃子

Recipe is as follows:

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South sea meat and bone soup (bak kut teh,肉骨茶)

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My best friend’s late mother, whom I dearly called Auntie Wong, used to make this herbs and spices infused soup for me. The wonderful aroma filled their small inner city apartment and floated down the narrow common corridor as I walked out the lift. I instantly felt at home, safe, warm and loved.

Besides being a fantastic cook, Auntie Wong was an amazing woman with many talents. Once a circus acrobat in Malaysia, she was retrained as a dentist. ‘It was so difficult at the beginning,’ she said, ‘there was this old lady with no teeth, and I could not figure out how to attach the denture.’ She grinned, ‘lucky that I was young and good looking at the time. I had lots of helps.’

Here is my simple meat and bone soup, with fond memories of Auntie Wong. Somehow my soup never tasted as good as Auntie Wong’s. She had added a lot more love to the soup.

South sea meat and bone soup (bak kut teh,肉骨茶)

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Spiced potato salad with pepper, chili infused oil and white balsamic vinegar (gluten free, vegan)

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Our friends had a 20 year anniversary getaway at South Australia for a few days. We looked after their child and dog while they were away. It was easy as their beautiful son is our little boy’s best friend. Their gorgeous cavalier is the best friend of our cavoodle.

When they were back they brought us a nice bottle of white balsamic vinegar they picked up from a market at the Barossa Valley.  So I made a fusion potato salad with it.

This salad used blanched potato flavored with turmeric, coriander seeds and cardamon, a mild Sichuan style pepper-chili-garlic infused oil, sesame oil, white balsamic, pickled carrot, sliced wood ear fungus, sliced capsicum, sesame, shallot and coriander.

Spiced potato salad with pepper, chili infused oil and white balsamic vinegar (gluten free, vegan)

Recipe is as follows:

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Rice balls with wasabi furikake seasoning

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After a weekend of non-stop eating and drinking, we were keen to have a very simple meal this lovely Monday evening – perhaps some warm rice with a few sprinkle of seasoning.

I cooked the rice in a rice cooker. I used 1 cup of white glutinous rice with 1 cup of medium grain rice. The cooked rice was gently soft but not too sticky. I then rolled some rice into balls, and coated the rice balls with furikake.

I bought my furikake from a local Asian store. I particularly like the one with wasabi flavor. The furikake was made in China which is fine with me as it was very delicious.

A simple meal and no recipe required.

Rice balls with wasabi furikake seasoning

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Tangy green mango salad with prawns (gluten free)

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Friends who live in an inner west suburb of Sydney have a few mango trees. Every year I admired their trees and promised to make them some green mango salad. But I was never there when the mangoes were green.

This year they brought over 2 green mangoes to our house. Reportedly the husband was injured trying to catch the second mango –  the mango fell off the tree, bounced off his hands and hit him in the “privates”.

I had to make a mango salad as compensation.

The dish is very simple, mango, carrot and prawns pickled in a fish sauce, apple cider vinegar and sugar, mixed with coriander, green shallot and sesame oil and sesame seeds.

 

Tangy green mango salad with prawns (gluten free)

Recipe is as follows:

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Chicken TangYuan soup with dried shrimps, mushrooms, garlic chive and bok choy (gluten free)

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As mentioned, yesterday was the 15th day of Luna New Year, known as the lantern festival (元宵). TangYuan (汤圆), or the glutinous rice balls, is one of the most traditional food for the festival. Yuan (圆) means round, full filling, a symbol for family reunion. TangYuan often has a sweet filling and served in a syrup. Some years ago, my sister made a savory TangYuan soup that was really tasty. I had a go this year.

I first made the chicken stock white cook style. This means slow cook a whole chicken in water to get delicious chicken meat and a mild broth. Ginger and green shallot were added to enhance the flavor.  Chinese mushrooms, dried shrimps were added later to the broth, together with garlic chive, enoki mushrooms, bok choy and white cooked chicken meat.

The TangYuan was made with glutinous rice flour and hot water, mix and roll, pretty simple.

 

Chicken TangYuan soup with dried shrimps, mushrooms, garlic chive and bok choy  (gluten free)

Recipe is as follows:

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Tofu knots, enoki mushrooms and wood ear fungus salad 冷拌

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Yesterday it was the 15th day of Luna New Year (元宵节, YuanXiao), which is known as the day of lantern festival.  There was no lanterns for us. After all, it was too hot to even go outside in the scorching weather in Sydney.

So I made a few simple dishes to enjoy with a few of our friends, who came over to cool down in our pool.  One of the dishes I made was a ‘liangban’ salad with chewy tofu knots (百页结), tasty enokitake mushrooms (金菇), crunchy wood ears fungus (木耳), green shallot and coriander.

Tofu knots, enoki mushrooms and wood ear fungus salad 冷拌

Recipe is as follows:

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Easy banana, lime, orange and cardamom compote (FODMAP friendly, gluten free, vegan)

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This week I gathered a few limes from the garden. I have always struggled with my lime trees – lot of flowers but rarely bear any fruit. So my three little lime fruit this year were rather precious. I made a fruit compote with banana, lime, orange and cardamom.

Delicious for breakfast, served on toast –  just not enough of it. Hope my lime trees will be kind to me next year.

Easy banana, lime, orange and cardamom compote (FODMAP friendly, gluten free, vegan)

Recipe is as follows:

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Cherry tomato ‘sandwich’ with quinoa and alfalfa (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

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Today I made some rice paper rolls with quinoa, coriander, alfalfa, capsicum and sesame seeds. I had some quinoa mixture left. So I decided to make a second dish. I had some cherry tomatoes in the fridge, perfect for some ‘sandwiches’.

The quinoa mixture was made of cooked quinoa, a little chopped coriander stalk, a little sesame seeds and sesame oil,  seasoned with salt and black pepper. I have attached the original recipe here – but you only need 1 tbsp of quinoa mixture to make 1 low FODMAP serve which consists of 4 cheery tomato sandwiches.

To make the ‘sandwiches’, turn a cherry tomato upside down, cut it open in the middle, as deep as you can without cutting through; fill the gap with a small piece of lettuce (I used butter and rocket), alfalfa, red capsicum, carrot and a little quinoa mixture. Top with a little BBQ sauce and a few sesame seeds.

According to the Monash University, a low FODMAP portion is 4 cherry tomatoes – hence 1 low FODMAP serving is 4 ‘sandwiches’.  But lettuce (butter and rocket), alfalfa, red capsicum and carrot have limited FODMAPs, so you can pile up as much fillings as you wish.

Use a gluten free BBQ sauce for a gluten free option.

Cherry tomato 'sandwich' with quinoa, coriander and alfalfa (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

Cherry tomato sandwich with quinoa, coriander and alfalfa

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Rice paper rolls of quinoa, coriander, alfalfa and sesame seeds (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

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A few days ago I set off to create a few vegan FODMAP dishes with alfalfa. The schedule was ‘interrupted’ by Chinese New Year with wrapping dumplings with extended family, chatting with friends on how to make ‘yee sang’, handing out red envelopes and, work. We don’t get any national holidays for Chinese New Year in Australia.

Here is my alfalfa recipes installment #2 –  rice paper rolls of quinoa flavored with sesame oil and coriander, lettuce, carrot, capsicum, alfalfa, sesame seeds,  and a small squeeze of BBQ sauce.

Can’t find any rice paper? Don’t worry, the recipe also works as a salad.

Rice paper roll with quinoa, coriander, alfalfa, carrot, lettuce, capsicum, sesame seed and sesame oil, low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »