6. Main ingredients

Creamy and spicy tomato and capsicum soup with and coconut milk (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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We don’t eat much tomatoes in our house, my little boy is a picky eater and my husband utterly dislikes tomatoes. From time to time, I picked up some gorgeous tomatoes and made a dish, ate it all by myself with great contentment.

Today I roasted a batch of tomatoes and red capsicums. I roasted the vegetables and separated them into two batches. With the first batch, I made a spicy soup with coconut milk; with the second batch, I made another spicy soup with ginger, chili and tea (recipe to follow).

According to Monash University, common tomatoes do not contain FODMAPs, perfect for a hearty FODMAP dish – eat freely and according to appetite.

Creamy spicy tomato soup, with roasted tomatoes, chili and coconut milk

 

Roasted tomatoes - creamy and spicy tomato soup with coconut milk (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)
Freshly roasted tomatoes

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

Pulled pork with pineapple, soy, vinegar, spices and maple syrup (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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I recently purchased a Tiger thermal magic cooker from Singapore. It is really a magical piece of equipment –  perfect for slow cooking with limited use of the stove top. I made some pulled pork for dinner last night  – it was slow cooked over 24 hour, juicy and yummy.

The thermal cooker consists of 2 layers – an inner pot and an insulated outer pot. I first placed the pork shoulder in the stainless steel inner pot; I topped it with some pineapple pieces with all the juices^, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of soy sauce*, 1/4 cup of dark soy sauce*, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of wine, 6 cardamon pods (slightly crashed), 6 star anise, 1 tsp cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, a piece of ginger (approx 15g) and 1 tsp pepper corn (slightly crashed).  I then added some water to fully cover the meat, brought it to boil.  Once boiling,  I placed the pot into the insulated outer pot for 8 hours.

After 8 hours, I brought the inner stainless pot to boil again on the cook top – it took about 5 minutes as the pot was still hot from being inside the thermal pot. Then I placed it inside the insulated outer pot again for another 8 hours. I repeated this one more time. And it was ready to enjoy.

To serve, I hand pulled the pork to strips. I made a sauce with some marinate, added some maple syrup and some corn flour mixture  (corn flour mixed with a little water). I brought the sauce to boil and it was ready.

If you don’t have a thermal cooker, you can slow cook the pork in a heavy pot, or slow cook in an oven with an oven bag – juicy and yummy.

^use fresh pineapple for a FODMAP diet (as it is tested by Monash University)  *use a gluten free soy sauce for a gluten free option.

Pulled pork with pineapple, soy, vinegar, spices and maple syrup  (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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Fresh cactus flower soup 曇花汤

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I had been waiting for my  cactus flowers ‘tanhua’  to bloom. Such beautiful dedicate living wonders, with flowers only open up for one precious night.

The unusual weeks of Sydney rain stopped briefly on Sunday afternoon. The flowers quietly bloomed during the night. I harvested 3 flowers,  but hesitated on the thoughts of making a soup,  Traditionally, the flowers are sun dried, then boiled with meat for hours, ending up all marshy and  grey like the rainy weather. What a depressing thought.

 

4S2B1972A #3

 

 

I gently washed and sliced the flowers into quarters. I dropped the flowers into a saucepan of water with thinly julienne chicken breast;  brought it to a boil, added a dash of sesame oil, a dash of dark soy sauce and a few pinches of white pepper. The soup was done in 3 minutes.

And here it was, a simple soup to show my appreciation of these natural beauties.

Fresh cactus flower soup

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Hairy gourd ‘liangban’ salad with XO sauce 节瓜凉拌

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This week I discovered an Asian grocery store 10 minutes’ drive away. Their stock range was quite comprehensive. The man in the shop helped me with the bags to my car which was sort of services I never experienced from an Asian store. I managed to find a parking spot very close to the shop – can’t believe my luck. I was very impressed.

I picked up a beautifully fresh hairy gourd from the shop. Hairy gourd is a very popular vegetable in Southern China, easy to grow with plenty of subtropical rains. The gourd is normally cooked in a soup or a stew with a tender and soft texture.

Today I decided to do something different with a ‘liangban’ 凉拌 salad. I added XO sauce to the salad for a kick as the gourd, on its own, could be quite plain. XO sauce is a mildly spicy paste made with dried seafood, garlic and chili, packed of flavors.

 

Hairy gourd 'liangban' salad with XO sauce  节瓜凉拌

I first peeled the skin of the gourd; I then julienned the flesh, disregard the seedy part of the gourd (but reversed for a soup dish). I then briefly blanched the vegetable until it was just cooked (about 1-2 minute) and ran it under cold water to cool; I mixed the drained vegetable with sesame oil, XO sauce, a generous dash of dark soy sauce, white pepper, chili, sesame seeds and sliced green shallot. I left the salad in fridge to chill for couple of hours before serving.  So simple and delicious. No recipe required.

Pork spare rib stew with miso, ginger and wine 味噌排骨 (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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On WeChat my ex high school mates were chatting about not having time to cook dinners. Really? I thought, surely a few equipment could help.

In addition to a standard kitchen, I have a double garage filled with cooking equipment – a pressure cooker, a rice cooker, a waffle maker, a table top multi-use grill, a mixer, a blender, a Tiger magic thermal pot, a 16 liter thermal pot, a five deck steamer pot, a 3-deck electric mini steamer, 3 electric frying pans, a portable induction cook top, 2 electric bain-maries and countless pots, cake tins and serving plates. Cooking a quick dinner is a breeze.

Before I continue on, I’d like to declare that I am not a hoarder. I run the Asian food stall each year for the school fete and I always contribute a bundle towards special event bakes. Hence I have accumulated so much useful equipment over the years.

Tonight I cooked a quick dinner with my pressure cooker. In the morning, I put some rice in the rice cooker and switch on the timer. I then spent 10 minutes browning the pork spare rib pieces, added carrot, potato chili, ginger and white wine. I turned the pressure cooker on high pressure 30 minutes. When I got home, dinner was ready and warm.

Easy peasy.

Pork spare rib stew with miso, ginger and wine 味噌排骨 (low FODMAP, gluten free)

 

Recipe is as follow:

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Simple soba noodles with vegetables 撈麵 (low FODMAP, vegan)

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I washed my child’s little blanket today. He has this blanket since he was a baby. There are holes in the blanket and the corners are totally worn. From time to time, I patched up the holes and sewed up the corners with bits from some old towels. I bought him a new one, exactly the same. But I was not allowed to throw the old one away. “So much remember-y”, he said.  “Don’t bring it when we travel then,” I said, ‘I would be embarrassed’.   We traveled with it everywhere we went – Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Fiji and Hawaii.  I love watching him sleep, wrapping himself comfortably in the blanket, with his cute button nose and long black eye lashes.

Old blanket #1
My little boy’s old blanket

Ah, simple things in life are the best. And for dinner, I shall cook one single simple dish.

And what is more simple than a ‘lao mian’ 撈麵 –  noodles simply mixed with soy and sesame oil. And if you desire, you can add whatever on top. ‘Lao’means mix, ‘mian’ means noodles.

Tonight, I used soba noddles. Soba noodles with wheat has been tested by Monash University recently. The low FODMAP portion is 1/3 cup noodles, or 90g. Unfortunately Monash didn’t identify if the 90g is dry weight or cooked weight. So I assumed the 90g as cooked weight, just to be on the safe side.

Simple soba noodles with vegetables 撈麵 (low FODMAP, vegan)

Recipe is as follows:

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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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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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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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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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Prosperity toss (‘yee sang’ 捞生) for Chinese new year (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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One of my best friend’s late mother, whom I dearly called Auntie Wong, was an exceptional cook. A Chinese woman migrated from Malaysia, she could make beautiful meat-bone soups, aromatic curries and many different type of chili pastes.  During Chinese New Year, she made ‘yee sang’, an elaborate salad with sashimi salmon and a plum sauce. We made wishes as we mixed the salad with our chopsticks, shared a few giggles and enjoyed the delicious feast.

In Chinese, ‘yee’ means fish, a symbol of plenty. ‘Sang’ shares the same pronunciation of 升, means uplifting. With a name like that, no wonder ‘yee sang’ is one of the most popular dish for Chinese New Year around Singapore and Malaysia.

My father and sister were travelling in China and only arrived yesterday, which was the Chinese New Year’s Day. To welcome them home,, I made my own version of ‘yee sang’ with tuna, salmon, fennel, carrot, capsicum, cucumber and a strawberry salad dressing.

I didn’t make any wishes as I mixed the salad – I already have everything I could have wished for. Although life is busy and demanding, I have a lovely family, good friends, a home with a double garage full of cooking equipment. I am happy.

Prosperity toss ('yee sang' 捞生) for Chinese new year (low FODMAP, gluten free)
Prosperity toss (‘yee sang’ 捞生) 

Recipe is as follows:

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Easy hand rolls of alfalfa, carrot, capsicum, rocket and sesame seeds (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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As I mentioned, I recently connected with my high school classmates on WeChat. I pleasantly discovered how diverse my school mates had become. One of the ladies is now a devoted Buddhist. She posted many photos of pagodas, Buddha, and vegetarian food. ‘You like cooking’, she said, ‘do you cook vegan food?’. She recommended sprout alfalfa and sent me a full description of its benefits.

‘Sure, I will made a few dishes tomorrow’.

I loved alfalfa, so dedicate and beautiful to look at. While I attended university in early 90s, alfalfa was in nearly every sandwiches I bought from the canteen. The sandwiches were charged by weight. Alfalfa is so light that I could have a ham and alfalfa sandwich for about $1. Bargain.

Here is my first installment of the alfalfa menu – easy hand rolls of rice, alfalfa, carrot, capsicum, rocket leafs, BBQ sauce and sesame seeds.

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Kale with orange and sesame (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

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We had steaks for dinner tonight and made a kale dish as a side. It was very simple, blanched kale, diced orange,  orange zest, lemon juice, sesame oil and sesame seeds.

This recipe below is portion controlled to a FODMAP diet. Please feel free to use any additional ingredients you may like.

Kale with orange and sesame (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

Recipe is as follows:

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Century egg and smoked ham congee

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What could be more tummy warming than a big bowl of congee?

One of my favorite congee is with century eggs. If you had not tried a ‘century egg’ before, they are probably the most fascinating eggs you would ever experience. After a period of preservation, the egg yolks are magically layered with green and gray, and the egg white are translucently red-brown and beautifully shiny. The congee is traditionally made with century eggs and salted pork. I often use smoked ham which is tastier.

Century eggs with smoked ham - for congee

I use a 10-cup rice cooker with a ‘congee’ setting. I cook the congee on the ‘congee’ setting 3 times, first time with a cup of medium grain rice and water half way up in the cooker, then I add 2 century eggs (sliced to 4-8 pieces) and diced smoked ham, cook it 1-2 more settings or until the rice is creamy. Feel free to add more water to achieve the right consistency to your own liking.

If you use a pot, it would take 2-3 hours.  First bring the rice and water to boil, turn it down to low heat, cook for 1 hour (with a lid), then add century eggs and ham, cook for another 1-2 hours until the it reaches the desired texture.

Season with salt and white pepper. Garnish with green shallot.

Really yum if you are game enough to try it.

Century eggs and smoked ham congee

Recipe is as follows:

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Asian mustard greens 芥菜 and the memories of the GuangDong GuangYa Middle School

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Sometimes, I boil some Asian greens with a dash of cooking oil and a little salt. I eat the vegetables and drink the water that was used for boiling the veggies as a ‘soup’.  I can drink many bowls of this ‘soup’. It is strangely comforting. It brings back the memories of my GuangDong GuangYa Middle School years.

Chinese mustard greens 'gai choi'

GuangDong GuangYa Middle School was one of the highly selective schools in the city of GuangZhou. Although the school was located in one of the most populated cities in Southern China, it was established in the 1880s and built on an unusually large block of land with gardens, traditional style buildings and sports grounds. While we were not able to escape from the common poverty and a rigid  educational system which we were to memorize pretty much everything, we learned to be self-discipline and responsible for our own destiny.

My junior year at GuangYa Middle School - class singing competition
My junior year at GuangDong GuangYa Middle School – school singing competition

During my junior years when I was still living at home, the best time during a school day was the lunch time. When bell rang at 1pm we ran for the canteen. There were 4 tiny little windows at the front of the canteen where we collected our meals with prepaid vouchers. A typical meal was 2 cups of boiled rice, a few pieces of thinly sliced pork cooked with Asian greens, cucumbers or melons. The meals were pale looking, probably only seasoned with salt and nothing else. The vegetables were  over cooked, floppy and watery.  From time to time there were huge canisters in front of the canteen and we could scoop ourselves some ‘soup’ – the water used to boil the vegetables.  A few times a year before the major exams, we received special bonus called ‘Jia Chai’ 加菜 which was a little extra food.

When I started boarding during the senior years, I shared a rundown dormitory room with some 40 other girls. The room was large, with high ceiling and always full of dust. There were no cleaning staffs, the girls took turns to sweep the bare concrete floor each day. One end of the room was used as a drying area with rows of newly washed clothes dripping water onto the floor below. The external shower rooms  were bare with only cold water taps, no individual doors and very limited lighting. During winter time we could pay 2 cents to buy a bucket of hot water from the canteen and carried it all the way to the shower rooms for a warm splash, or to brave it with a cold shower.

At the dorm in the GuangYa Middle School, GuangZhou
Girls’ dorm at the GuangYa Middle School in the 1980s

The kids at the school were all very bright. They were expected to go to university. This meant 10-12 hours of study each day. Those days, going to university  would mean a guaranteed government job for life and the selection exams were very competitive. Boarding was compulsory during the senior years. There were strict routines –  getting up at 6am, compulsory exercise, breakfast,  a morning self-directed study session,  followed by 5 formal classes, lunch, nap time, 2 more study sessions in the afternoon, followed by exercise, shower time & dinner time, then evening more self-directed study in the classroom till 30 minutes before bed time. Lights were turned off at 10pm.

Despite the handwork and poor living conditions, GuangYa was a haven for me. At GuangYa  I found friendship, kindness and I was able to build confidence. I met a few good friends who were wonderfully warm and inclusive. Two of my main teachers were reasonably flexible and supportive (unusual for China those days).  Best of all, I escaped from home, a place where I struggled to feel warmth – perhaps one day I will have the courage to write about it.

Recipe for Asian mustard greens

Here is a simple dish with Chinese mustard greens (‘gai choi’芥菜 ), boiled briefly with a dash of cooking oil and seasoned with salt. I describe mustard greens as deliciously peppery with a slight bitterness.

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Noodles with cloud ear, beef and vegetables

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Sometime we just want a quick and no fuss meal, something easy, hearty and delicious. Noodles fit into this category nicely.

I often have a few packs of udon noodles in the pantry. I found udon noodles have the right texture once boiled, perfect for tossing in a frying pan for a quick stir fry.  Cloud ears (Chinese black fungus) is another vegetable that I often stock up. Once re-hydrated, it is so quick to cook and refreshingly crunchy. We also love cabbage for its sweetness and longevity in the fridge.

This cloud ear, beef and vegetable noodle dish takes about 20-30 minutes to make. It is flavored with oyster sauce and mushroom dark soy sauce. I added plenty of sesame seeds for extra flavor.

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

Sushi terrine with vegetables (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

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A few weeks ago I set off to make a few carrot & vegetable dishes. Here is one of them…

It is made with sushi rice, saute pumpkin with cumin, saute carrot with turmeric, saute capsicum with garam masala and nori sheets.  Sesame seeds were added for extra flavor. The ingredients are layered in a terrine pan, and wrapped with 2 nori sheets.

Sushi terrine with vegetables (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

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

Carrot ‘noodles’ with green bean and bean sprout (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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Last week I was cooking humble carrots and wondering how may carrot dishes I could create. Here is one of them…

There are so many wonderful things about carrot, crunchy, juicy, colorful, full of goodies. Best of all, it has no carbohydrate so the FODMAPers can have as much carrot as they wish.

Carrot 'noodles' with green bean and bean sprout (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

Recipe is as follow:

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Carrot with maple syrup and turmeric (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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I was helping out at Salvation Army’s community kitchen earlier this week. The kitchen uses OZ Harvest, a food rescue service that collects excess food products and provides the food to charities for free. The lady who runs the kitchen, Monica, a wonderful and cheerful woman, explained that she was not able to buy any other ingredients other than what was donated.

On the lunch menu it was Vietnamese San Choy Bao. I volunteered to cook the meal as I was comfortable with cooking large amount of food. After all I had ran an Asian food stall at our school fetes over the past three years.  The good news was that, we had pork mince and lots of vegetables. The bad news was that, there was no fish sauce, soy sauce, lemon or lime.  I found two small bottles of BBQ sauce. I cooked the meal with the BBQ sauce, a little sugar, salt and some turmeric. Although not really Vietnamese, the dish tasted pretty good. The meal was sold at $2 per serve. After that, there was no fresh meat left. So I prepared 2 trays of zucchini slices for next day’s free community lunch.  For the vegetarian option, I stir fried some diced potato, carrot, leek, capsicum, scallion and coriander with curry powder, turmeric and veggie spices. Thank goodness for all the other volunteers who chopped, diced, graded, washed and helped.

When I got home that day, I decided to learn a little more about cooking with simple ingredients. I started with the humble carrots and some left over pure maple syrup.

I diced 2 carrots, tossed the pieces with  some rice flour, maple syrup, a little oil and a pinch of salt. Then I pan fried the carrots with a little oil, tossed in some sesame seeds, turmeric and coriander.

It was the best carrot I have ever had.

Carrot with maple syrup, turmeric, sesame seeds and coriander, Low FODMAP, Gluten Free, Vegan

Recipe is a follow:

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Smoked BBQ beef ribs

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On the weekend we went to a large extended family lunch. We made some smoked beef ribs to enjoy with the family.

It was a very simple dish – beef ribs marinated with BBQ sauce, tomato sauce & sriracha chili sauce; added a little cumin and garam masala. Then I smoked & cooked the beef ribs on the gas BBQ for 2 hours on low heat, with a lighted Amazen pellet smoke tube inside the BBQ.

I serve the beef ribs with a sauce made with left over marinate and apricot jam – simply combine the sauce and jam and cook gently in a sauce pan for a few minutes until the apricot jam is ‘melted’ into the sauce.

Beef ribs being smoked in the BBQ with an Amazen pellet tube

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Lemongrass pork scotch fillets (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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We have a bush of lemongrass in the garden. Each harvest we were reward a large bag of juicy stalks. So today I made some grilled pork with lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime leafs, fish sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil.

There are still so much lemongrass left!

Lemongrass pork scotch fillets (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow:

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Pan fried pumpkin with a miso sauce (gluten free, vegan)

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I found it difficult to create pumpkin dishes – pumpkin is so beautifully tasty already, I don’t want to ruin its natural goodness.

Because pumpkin is so sweet, a bit of saltiness will enhance its flavor. Miso and pumpkin actually work quite well. It is also a very simple dish to prepare.

Pan fried pumpkin with a miso sauce (gluten free, vegan)

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Vietnamese black pepper beef

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For the days that I felt too lazy to cook ‘real’ meals, I have a stash of paste & sauces in my freezer – sambal balado, xa ot paste, xo sauce and many more.  My favorite, is the ‘bo luc lac’ paste, a Vietnamese black pepper paste.

It is such a simple stir fry – onion and beef (cubes or slices) with some ‘bo luc lac’ paste, a dash of oyster sauce, a dash of dark soy sauce and a dash of sesame oil; 5 minutes it is done; garnish with some green shallot and chili if preferred.

Served with salad or rice; some may prefers to enjoy with some pickled thinly sliced onion.

Vietnamese black pepper beef Bo Luc Lac

Bo Luc Lac paste
Bo Luc Lac paste

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Asian inspired carrot, pumpkin and kumquat dip (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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A good friend is on a self diagnosed gluten free diet. She is addicted to vegetables and all things fashionably healthy. You will laugh if you see her feeding her kids with healthy food the good old Chinese way –  with great persistence.

We were over at their house for lunch last weekend. I made some tasty vegetable dips which was very appreciated. I served the dips with some plain rice crackers.

 

Asian inspired carrot, pumpkin and kumquat dip (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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Pan fried fish & potato cake with Asian coleslaw (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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I have been planning for a fish cake dish for a while, however could not decide on what type of fish cakes to make  – Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Malaysian… there are so many options. Today, with some fresh rainbow trouts in the fridge, I decided to cook a tummy friendly fish cake with potato, spinach and coriander, served with a juicy Asian coleslaw.

Pan fried fish & potato cake with Asian coleslaw (low FODMAP, gluten free)

 

Recipe is as follow:

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Grilled beef, Asian style

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My little boy’s school has a spring fair in a couple of months. I will be running an Asian food stall to raise money for the school. Last year we put on over a thousand pieces of finger food, along with noodles, fried rice & cold dishes (‘LiangBan’). The stall started at 10:30am and we sold out most food before 12pm. Many of my friends didn’t get to try our food.

So this year I am planning for more food.. an Asian style BBQ sounds like a good option. I have been experimenting different style of BBQ – Vietnamese grilled pork  (nem nuong), northwestern Chinese lamb cumin, Korean chili chicken. Today I tried a grilled beef with soy, fish sauce, sesame oil, corn syrup and apricot jam. As you may have noticed from the pictures, I used coriander, which is uncommon for Korean food. But I love coriander so much and I can’t help it.

I served the beef on a crusty roll with lettuce and kim chi.  I also served the beef on its own. Really yummy.

Grilled beef, Asian style

Recipe is as follows:

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Salt and pepper chicken (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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I work in an unremarkable looking building in the city that was built in the 70’s. When I started working there 12 years ago, the food court were ordinary but cheap. Then the landlord renovated the food court and increased the rents. Now the food is still uninspiring, but expensive.   I had a salt and pepper chicken there last week – and it ended up in the garbage bin.

With an unsatisfied craving for salt and pepper chicken, I made my own today.

Salt and pepper chicken (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow:

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Ginger pork with soy sauce and sesame oil (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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Recently our family visited Tokyo to spend our school holiday there. We enjoyed shopping at countless hobby shops, toy stores and rides at Disneyland, Disney Sea and Tokyo Dome.

My husband and I love noodle soups. Nearly everyday we went to a nearby noodle shop for lunch. Our little boy is a fussy eater who has Vegemite sandwiches for school lunch since the kindergarten year – he refused to have noodle soup. So we gave him a bowl of rice and the toppings from our noodles.   Ginger pork was his favorite. Luckily, noodles with ginger pork was available in nearly every noodle shop.

Here is my version of ginger pork. I served it with some saute Chinese greens with ginger.

 

Ginger pork with soy sauce and sesame oil (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow:

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Asian inspired Paella with miso & wasabi (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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One of my friends and her 2 gorgeous children came over for lunch today. She has really good taste with food and wine, previously ran an restaurant in Italy while she was married to an Italian young fellow who cooked beautifully. Now a single mum, things are not as easy, and she is also having a difficult time at work. So I decided to cook her a heart warming meal to cheer her up – a dish with chicken, salmon, prawns, mussels, baby octopus sounded just like the perfect dish. To make it a bit more special, I gave the paella an Asian twist with miso, wasabi and Korean pepper.

 

Asian inspired Paella with miso & wasabi (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow:

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Lightly smoked rainbow trout fillets (gluten free)

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The local fish shop had some beautifully fresh rainbow trout fillets. I cooked them on the BBQ with a a-maze-n smoke tube filled with apple wood pellets.

I first lighted the a-maze-n tube of pellets and let it burn for 10 minutes before I placed it inside the BBQ.

While the pellets was burning, I rubbed the fish fillets with some sesame oil and a little sea salt. I don’t brine my fish – it is just too salty for my taste. I put the fish fillets on a rack, over a tray, on the BBQ with the lowest setting. I then closed the lid and let the smoke and the BBQ do their jobs. The fish was ready in about 25 minutes.

I served the smoked fish fillets at room temperature, with a sauce of sour cream, dill and lemon juice.

Lightly smoked rainbow trout fillets (gluten free)

 

 

 

 

Simple Korean chili chicken

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My first restaurant meal in Australia was a Korean BBQ at a quaint little restaurateur at the back of Potts Point, an fringe suburb of Sydney filled with eateries, bar and clubs. It was an amazing experience for me – BBQ meat with rich flavors and  endless little side dishes.

Here is my simple and quick Korean chili chicken, which is marinated with Korean pepper, cooked on a griddle over a gas BBQ stove. It is really nice to eat with warm rice, or in a lettuce wrap.

Simple Korean chili chicken

Recipe is as follow:

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Chinese north-west style lamb kebabs ‘羊肉串’ (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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When I was in Beijing many years ago I visited a night market with hundreds of food stalls. About half of them sell lamb kebabs with a Xinjiang origin. Xinjiang is region located in North West China  where Chinese Muslims and Uyghur people live, bordering many countries including Mongolia, Russia, Pakstan and India. I tried the kebab and was fascinated by the spices – it was the first time I tasted cumin.  The meat, although, was dry and chewy – we have much better quality meat back in Australia.

Here is my version of lamb kebabs with cumin, Sichuan pepper, chili flake, coriander seeds, sesame seeds and  sesame oil. I first marinated the lamb in cumin, salt and sesame oil. Then I made the kebabs and cooked them on the BBQ. Finally I added additional spices and sea salt to the kebabs.  The kebabs were juicy and spicy.

Chinese north-west style lamb kebabs '羊肉串' (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Spice mix for lamb kebab - cumin, Sichuan pepper, chili flake, sesame seeds and coriander seeds
Spice mix for lamb kebab – cumin, Sichuan pepper, chili flake, sesame seeds and coriander seeds

Recipe is as follow:

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Smoky BBQ legs of lamb (FODMAP friendly)

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Last weekend I threw a couple lamb legs on the BBQ. I added to the BBQ a tube of wood pellets in an a-maze-n pellet tube which was lighted with a blow torch.  I rubbed the lamb legs with my favorite spices and a dash of BBQ sauce.

I slow cooked the lamb legs for 4 hours in the BBQ with the smoky tube underneath. The BBQ was placed under my recently installed white shade sails. There was so much smoke I was worried that my shade sails may turn brown.

The lamb was beautifully juicy, smoky and tasty.

Smoky BBQ legs of lamb (FODMAP friendly)

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Rice paper rolls with tofu, bamboo shoot, bean sprout and sesame (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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FODMAP vegan can be delicious too – tofu recipe #5.

A couple weeks ago I set out to see how many tummy friendly tofu recipes I could made. So far I have a rice noodle soup, an entree (pan fried tofu with chili & tomato salsa), a main (tofu chop suey) and a dessert (with ginger, pumpkin & tapioca). Perhaps the next dish would be a healthy snack that can be packed into a lunch box?

Vegetables can be quite plain, so the bamboo shoot will give the dish a kick of flavor.

Rice paper rolls with tofu, bamboo shoot, bean sprout and sesame (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

The filling: tofu with bamboo shoot, bean sprout, potato, carrot, capsicum, sesame and coriander
The filling: tofu with bamboo shoot, bean sprout, potato, carrot, capsicum, sesame and coriander

Recipe is as follow:

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Simple home smoked salmon (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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I can’t say I am an expert of smoking – I only learned about it a year ago from ‘A Food Blog by a Old Fat Guy’. I love this blog from the far away land – as I read, I could smell the forest from the mountains in Canada.

Dreaming of the forests, l bough the closest thing I could find – apple wood chips from Tasmania. I have only a small bag, but it lasted a while. I did 4 lots of smoking with this  – rainbow trout fillets, American ribs, salmon and pork belly.  OMG, so very delicious!

I don’t have a smoker, but I have a super heavy duty 16-quart stainless steel stock pot that can cook ‘waterless’.  It has a adjustable small hole in the lid which is perfect for checking out how much smoke has built up in the pot. I only used a small amount of wood chips which is sufficient for the size of the pot. Fish fillets can be cooked in about 20-30 minutes; meat requires further cooking after 30-40 minutes of smoking, which can be finished off on the BBQ.

I am quite time poor so I don’t use brine. For fish, I rubbed a little sea salt, a little sugar and some oil prior to cooking. For meat, I rubbed my favorite spices, salt and oil.

I like smoked salmon the best – rich, smoky and satisfying, with deliciousness lingering in your month for many hours after the meal.

I served  the smoked salmon with a fennel, carrot and rocket salad, drizzle over a dressing with lemon juice, strawberry jam and sesame oil. I will post the recipe shortly.

Simple home smoked salmon (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

Here is a quick write up of the very simple process:

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Tofu, pumpkin, ginger & tapioca dessert (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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FODMAP vegan can be delicious too – tofu recipe #4.

Have you tried the silken tofu at a yum cha restaurant, the one that’s served with ginger flavored syrup?  It is one of my favorite.

Silken tofu is unfriendly for FODMAPpers. So I created this dessert that uses soft plain tofu and ginger. To add softer texture, I added pumpkin and tapioca. Pumpkin is infrequently used for dessert in Southern China (if they have the sweet variety we have here in Australia I bet they will go wild with it)!  Palm sugar and tapioca pearls bring all the ingredients together to give it a lovely semi-pudding like texture. Served slightly chilled, it will pleasantly surprise you with its refreshing taste.

Tofu, pumpkin, ginger & tapioca dessert (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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Tofu and noodle soup (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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FODMAP vegan can be delicious too – tofu recipe #3.

Try this hot rice noodle soup with tofu, radish, carrot, spinach, chili, coriander, ginger, soy and sesame oil.

Tofu and noodle soup (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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Tofu chop suey with okra, eggplant and radish (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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FODMAP vegan can be delicious too – tofu recipe #1.

This weekend I am working on tofu dishes. I bought 2 different type of plain tofu (soft and extra firm) from the Asian grocery store and keen to find out how many dishes I can create from this rather plain ingredient.

Here is a chop suey with pan fried tofu, enhanced by selected vegetables with interesting and gentle textures – okra, eggplant, radish, red capsicum; complimented by ginger, chili and coriander.

Tofu chop suey with okra, eggplant and radish (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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Braised beef tendon with Asian spices (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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Winter is finally here in Sydney and I am craving for something rich and hopefully it would make my skin glow again. Beef tendon is pack with collagen, low fat and no cholesterol… not 100% sure about the skin care benefits, but I am cooking a bowl for the OMG deliciousness.

Braised beef tendon with Asian spices (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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BBQ baby octopus in Asian marinate (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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It was Queens birthday long weekend. I decided to cook a few dishes that would take some time to prepare.

The local seafood shop had some nice baby octopus so I picked up a few handfuls. I first dropped the octopus and some ginger in boiling water for a minute or two; then transferred them to a bowl of ice water; I marinated the octopus with fish sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, lemon juice, kumquat juice, sliced kaffir lime leafs, chili, marmalade and sesame oil; I placed the octopus in the fridge to marinate overnight, then BBQ them on a hot griddle. So juicy and tender!

BBQ baby octopus in Asian marinate (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

 

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Simple chicken stir fry with vegetable, egg and peanuts (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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On Fridays I work from home so I can drop my little boy off at school and pick him up. I am often swamped with work and I have something really quick for lunch at home (like a bowl of instant noodles cooked in the microwave). This week I was in luck with some free time – so I decided to cook a simple stir fry for lunch.

Simple chicken stir fry with vegetable, egg and peanuts (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow:

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Glutinous rice balls with beef and potato, spiced with cumin and turmeric (low FODMAP, Gluten Free)

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Sydney is rainy this weekend – reportedly a month’s worth of rain over the next few days. We are stuck in the house. My husband is busy assembling some ikea cabinets for the playroom; my little boy is busy on his ipad; and I  cook in the kitchen.

Supermarket shopping does not sound like an attractive option – so I went to the freezer and the dry good pantry. There was plenty of beef mince in the freezer which I could cook something with, together with some glutinous rice… something soft, warm and tasty would be nice.

Glutinous rice balls with beef and potato, spiced with cumin and turmeric (low FODMAP, Gluten Free)

Recipe is as follow:

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Pan fried whiting nori roll (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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I read it on Sydney Morning Herald this morning that Neil Perry was closing the original Rockpool restaurant.

In late 1990s I was working for an investment house in Sydney. The finance sector had plenty of money and big entertainment budget those days. We were taken to Rockpool for lunch where I enjoyed a wonderful dish of fried whiting fillet wrapped in nori sheet. I still remember it today.

Here is my FODMAP friendly version of whiting nori rolls. The rolls are also gluten free. If you prefer, you can serve it with an oyster sauce based dipping sauce – the sauce is FODMAP friendly but it is not gluten free.

Whiting nori rolls with cabbage and coriander

 

Pan fried whiting nori roll (low FODMAP, gluten free)

With any left over ‘off cuts’, we can make a yummy whiting seaweed soup.

Recipes are as follows:

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Barramundi in an Asian spiced broth (low FODMAP, Gluten Free)

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Winter is finally here with chill in the air – time for a nice bowl of hot soup. This simple & light barramundi broth is gentle and tasty, perfect for a lazy lunch.

Barramundi in an Asian spiced broth (low FODMAP, Gluten Free)

Recipe is as follow:

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Asian style kebab on lemongrass stick (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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With winter coming, I cut back a bush of lemongrass in the garden. I ended up with a huge bunch of lemongrass sticks which I used for this pork and beef kebabs.

Asian style kebab on lemongrass stick (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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