FODMAP diet

Meals for homeless – poached chicken with oyster sauce (FODMAP friendly)

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This is a simple and delicious meal with whole chicken(s) and a few other ingredients –  oyster sauce, sesame oil, ginger, shallot and corn flour.  For a FODMAP friendly recipe, use only green part of the shallot.

Meal for homeless - slow poached chicken with oyster sauce and green shallot (FODMAP friendly)

Here are the easy steps:

Bacon and cucumber stir fry (gluten free, FODMAP friendly)

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I made a quick meal of cucumbers and bacon in 15 minutes.

I sliced the cucumbers and bacon. In a frying pan I drizzled a little oil and added the bacon pieces. I pan fried the bacon until nearly crispy, then added the cucumbers. A few stirs, added a little sugar and white pepper. And we have a big bowl of tasty veggie and yummy bacon for dinner.

Chicken feet and corporate greed

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Chicken feet and corporate greed

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries”. Winston Churchill.

I thought of corporate greed.

They share their goals and visions loud and proud – the best interest of shareholders.  They sack as many workers as possible, and take the fat and bones out of the operation until it is on the verge of collapse.  This enables them to harvest bonus, and enjoy big fat golden handshakes when the real situation unfolds.

Does it have to be like that?  Why can’t corporations work for the best interest of all stakeholders including their customers and employees?

Corporate greed reminds me of chicken feet – skin and bone, tasty, yet unfulfilling as a meal. If a worker is struggling to feed his family and put a roof over their heads  – is this meal a blessing or misery?

Collaboration with Woofy Comics
Collaboration with my son @ Woofy Comics

Cooking method is as follows:

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Beef flank stew (牛腩) with Asian spices and soy sauce, my memory of the hawker stall on the ‘Poetry Book Road’ ( FODMAP friendly)

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Beef flank stew
When I was a little girl, I walked to the primary school each day.  I ate breakfast along the way. I had a ten cents allowance for two plain steamed buns each morning.

I walked down a street commonly known as the ‘Poetry Book Road’. For many years, the street was renamed as the  ‘Red Book Road’ in honor of Chairman Mao’s red book of quotations.

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Translation of the road sign:  Poetry Book Road; to the north, ‘Paper Factory Road’; to the south, ‘Heavenly Successful Road’.  September 2017, GuangZhou, China

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A street vendor selling beef flank stew and pig intestines near Poetry Street, September 2017, GuangZhou, China

At the end of the street, there was a tiny hawker stall selling beef flank and pig intestines. In winters, the hot steam rose from her big pots. The aroma of soy, star anise and clove lingered in the air, mouth-watering and irresistible. The stall operator was a middle age woman, short, chubby and never smiled. She had a pair of gigantic scissors that made loud ‘chop chop chop’ sound. When she received an order, she cut some small pieces off a larger piece, skillfully threading them to a bamboo stick without touching them with her hands.  A stick with 3 pieces of juicy, fatty and heart-warming meat cost 10 cents. It was a difficult decision for a little girl – spending the 10 cents on a meat stick and be hungry for the rest of the morning, or two plain buns. I took some deep breaths (the aroma was so good) and nibbled on the tasteless buns.

Now I remembered, the two buns never filled me up anyway. At school I sat next to a boy whose name was ‘Bin’. We enjoyed a few laughs as our stomachs rumbled at the exact same moment.

I cooked beef flank many times over the past many years. It always brought back memories of the hawker stall on the Poetry Book Road.

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

Fried duck eggs, with green shallot and dark soy sauce (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option)

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An Italian man at my husband’s work keeps a few ducks in his back yard. He gave us some fresh eggs last week. The eggs reminded me a $20 fried egg dish I had at a posh Asian restaurant, garnished with plenty of green shallot and dark soy sauce.

‘I can cook that’, I said to myself.   It was easy,  I cracked an egg, shallow fried it in hot oil with some green shallot (scallion); then transferred the egg to a plate, splashed a little dark soy sauce on top.  It looked colorful and delicious.

* Use the green part of the scallion for a FODMAP friendly version; use a gluten free soy sauce for a gluten free option.

 

Fried duck eggs, with green shallot and dark soy sauce (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option)

 

Fried duck eggs, with green shallot and dark soy sauce (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option)
Fresh duck eggs

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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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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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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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 »

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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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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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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Rice pudding with banana and coconut (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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I have worked in the finance sector for a very long time. In the good old days we enjoyed many extravagant lunches and dinners, Rockpool, Tetsuya, you name it. Nowadays things are quite different, but occasionally we still attend client lunches & dinners.  Last week we visited Kitchen by Mike at Bent Street. I was impressed with the rice pudding – heavenly creamy with a subtle vanilla and cinnamon flavor.

I was determined to have a go – I used arborio rice, coconut milk and bananas. This pudding is dairy free & gentle on your tummy.

Rice pudding with banana and coconut (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

 

Recipe is as follow:

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Homemade buckwheat noodles with soy sauce and sesame oil (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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A few weeks ago I made a really nice dashi soup base with shaved katsuobushi (preserved fermented skipjack tuna) and kombu (kelp). I looked in the cupboard for some soba noodles and noticed that they all contained wheat. That weekend I did a special trip to my favorite Asian supermarket at Chinatown to search for a gluten free soba, yet none could be found.

Never mind, I will just have to make my own buckwheat noodles. To make it light and bouncy, I used a combination of buckwheat (1/2), rice flour (1/4) and tapioca starch (1/4).

Homemade buckwheat noodles with soy sauce and sesame oil (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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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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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Quinoa potato hash (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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This yummy little snack has quinoa, shredded potato, capsicum, tasty cheese, coriander, marjoram, tarragon and rosemary – you can make them into balls, or flat hash browns.

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

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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 fish with chili tomato sauce (FODMAP Friendly)

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Many years ago I cooked for a elderly relative while  his family was away on holiday. I found an inexpensive fish in his freezer and made him a pan fried fish with chili tomato sauce. He loved it a great deal and gave me many praises. It was one of those moments that I suddenly discovered that I could cook !

Here is a FODMAP friendly version – I used a whole bream today but you can use any fish that is not too thick or too large. You can also use fish fillets if you are not a fan of fish bones. But the recipe tastes really nice with a whole fish.

Pan fried fish with chili and tomato sauce, FODMAP friendly

 

Recipe is as follows:

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Gnocchi with baby spinach (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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Simple lunch at home with a big bowl of gnocchi, great for an autumn lazy afternoon.

Gnocchi with baby spinach (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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

Simple green banana curry (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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I bought this big bunch of green bananas from the supermarket a week ago – the bananas didn’t fully ripe after all these hot weather!  Well, we shall not waste them…

This banana curry is quite simple once you have invested in a few spices. If you can find a low FODMAP curry power, great.  Otherwise the spice mix I adopted was a few spices laying in cupboard and a few thing from my freezer (tamarind paste, frozen ginger & frozen chili). If you don’t have some of these spices (except for turmeric), feel free to skip a few.

What does it taste like?  – give it a try.

Simple green banana curry (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

Method is as follows:

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Golden beef balls with pumpkin, potato and herbs (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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We had a few friends over for drinks including Bill. Bill is highly sensitive to many food. He has a diet that is low FODMAP + gluten free + no additives + no quirks. I found cooking for Bill challenging, as he gets sick for days if he eats the wrong food. Here are some delicious beef balls that  I cooked for Bill and to share with friends.  So simple and nutritious.

Golden beef balls with pumpkin, potato and herbs  (low FODMAP, gluten free)

 

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

Simple lunch – quinoa with roasted pumpkin and herbs (FODMAP friendly, vegan, gluten free)

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Some days I just crave for a very simple meal that is refreshing and tasty. After holidaying with kid at Fiji with buffet breakfasts and buffet dinners for 7 days, I am ready for one of these days.  A cup of quinoa soaked and cooked per instruction + roasted Jap pumpkin + from the garden some parsley, sage, rosemary and mint + a dash of lemon juice and sesame oil + pinch of salt..  hmmm…..yum.

Simple lunch - quinoa with roasted pumpkin and herbs (FODMAP friendly, vegan, gluten free)

 

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Traditional Chinese watercress and bone broth 西洋菜汤 (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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Something was always plenty in Southern China where I grew up – rain, rain and rain. And not surprisingly, watercress was always fresh and cheap. My grandmother loved to cook watercress broth – she boiled the vegetables for hours with lots of pork bones.

Here is my version of a refreshing watercress broth – no recipe required.

1-1.5kg of pork bones, a quick boil to clean them up; then put the bones in a pressure cooker with the stems of a bundle of the watercress (need to be washed thoroughly, reserve the green tops), 1-2 cut-up carrots and 2 dried dates (skip the dates for a FODMAP friendly option). If you like, a few pieces of dried lotus root (skip for a FODMAP friendly option) –  cook for 15-20 minutes on high pressure – and the broth is done. Season with some salt and pepper.

For the other half of the watercress – the nice green tops, boil the watercress quickly in hot water (approx 1 minute); serve with the broth.

If you like to be an old fashion Chinese for once – chew the meat off bones, it is delicious.

Traditional Chinese watercress and bone broth 西洋菜汤 (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

Eggplant ‘lasagna’ with lamb, roasted capsicum and a homemade tomato sauce (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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Bored with low FODMAP & gluten free diet? Try this awesome ‘lasagne’ layered with sliced eggplant, roast capsicum, carrot, green bean and lamb cooked in home made tomato paste. Hope it will put some sparkles in your spirit.

Eggplant 'lasagna' with lamb, roasted capsicum and a homemade tomato sauce (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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

Steamed blue eye cod 蒸鱼 and the market across the ‘Yayan Lane’ 雅言里 (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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How I love steamed fish!

Steamed blue eye cod with shallot & soy (low FODMAP & gluten free)

Growing up in Guangzhou in the early 1970s, we lived in a rundown 5-bedroom terrace house on a little lane way called the ‘Yayan Lane’ 雅言里  , translated as the ‘elegant words lane’. The house was bought by my grandfather in early 1950s for $1,200 yuan from a tea merchant. At the time there was a ‘movement’ to crack down tax evasion. Like some other small businesses, the tea merchant had to sell his house to pay his tax bill.  It was said that most houses on the market were going cheap over that period.

IMG_5013 #1
My grandfather at the old terrace house, Yayan lane, guangzhou

There were many family members lived at the terrace house at various intervals – my great grandmother, my grandparents, my family, 3 uncles & 1 aunt and their families. My grandma cooked dinners for all the families. Food & basic essentials such as rice, oil, meat, fish, coal & fabric were on rations, and we had books of colorful coupons.

There was a state-ran market across the road from our lane way. The market sold all sort of food – meat & vegetables, seafood, Chinese sausages & BBQ meat, tofu, preserves, oil & soy sauce. When very small fish were caught from large schools, sometime coupons were not required.  The neighbors always kept a look out for such rare occasions, and we would hear a shout across the lane way.  Grandmother and I would grab a bamboo basket as fast as we could, rushed over to join the crowd.  There were no such things as lining up – layers of people cramped in front of the concrete table where the fish piled up among large blocks of ice, pushing each other, yelling to attract attention. The fish was always fresh and undeniably small,  not longer than my little hand.  My grandmother steamed the fish with soy sauce for dinner. Our skinny house cats would fight over the bones & left-over sauce mixed with some rice – a rare treat for them.

Riding a bike at Yayan Lane, GuangZhou, China in 1970s
Riding a bike at the Yayan lane in 1970s

Today, we are so very lucky in Australia with all the wonderful seafood, spices & herbs. My favorite method of cooking fish is steaming. From time to time, when I enjoy a good steamed fish, I could still smell the sea at the crowded market place across the road from the Yayan Lane.

Here is my version of steamed fish – fresh & simple.  I used Blue Eye Cod on this occasion. You can use most sort of white flesh fish. My favorite fish for steaming is perch.

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

Cucumber salad and memories of ‘wine house’ restaurants (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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Compressed rectangle Cucumber salad

As a little child growing up in southern China in the early 70s, our family was considered very fortunate to have relatives and friends overseas. Every few years a small group of the oversea relatives would visit, bringing with them pre-loved clothes, food, small gifts and special foreign exchanged yuan to shout us a feast in a ‘wine house’ restaurant’ – no food coupons required! In my little eyes, the oversea visitors were beautiful people – they dressed well, smelt so nice and they were always very kind to me.

Out of the pre-loved clothes that were given to me by our visitors, the most memorable was my little red jumper with a plastic print of happy reindeers – all jolly and bright. The jumper was thin, so I wore the jumper on top of multiple layers of clothes.  I wore the jumper nearly every day during many winters as it was the only jumper I had. When it was too short for me and did not extend past my belly button, I passed it to my sister who was 4 years younger than me. My sister used it for many years after that.

With our visitors, the ‘wine house’ restaurant that we most visited was the KwangChow Restaurant (also called the GuangZhou Restaurant in mandarine), one of the most celebrated restaurants in the city. It was only 4 blocks away from our house.  Downstairs of the restaurant was the common dining room – plain and simple. The dining area upstairs was so grand that it looked like a palace!  How I enjoyed the aroma of food, tea and wine lingering through the tastefully decorated dining rooms – carved wooden partitions, classic rosewood furniture and traditional paintings on the walls. My favorite dishes were the little side dishes served at arrival – cucumber salad, roasted peanuts and salted vegetables. These little dishes made me so hungry and so looking forward to the special feast.

Our extended family being entertained by oversea relatives in a restaurant
Our extended family being entertained by oversea relatives in a restaurant in 1970s

Many years later in Australia I spoke with one of our visitors about his impression of China in the 70s – ‘awful,’ he said,’ except for that restaurant, the food was really nice.’

A match box I collected from GuangZhou Restaurant, one of the most famous restaurant in the city in 1980s
A match box I collected from the GuangZhou Restaurant, one of the most famous restaurant in the city in 1970s

I hope you enjoy my version of a cucumber salad with a little modern twist.

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

Soy bok choy, memories of my grandmother’s chicken coop (Low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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Vegetables & melons are popular food in China – bok choy, choy sum & cabbage are some of the most common vegetables.

While I was a little child, we lived in a terrace house with my extended family including uncles & aunties. My grandmother was responsible for cooking dinners for the whole family. To supplement the food coupons, my grandmother raised a coop of chickens on the roof top terrace. Before I was old enough to go to school, every afternoon I went to the market with my grandmother to collect left over green vegetables. We brought the vegetables home, chopped them up on a huge wooden chopping board, and fed to the chickens. While she was chopping, grandmother told me stories, so many stories. One of the stories was about me – while I was still a crawling baby, I crawled up to the roof top terrace, helped myself to the egg storage urn, cracked every single egg and smeared the eggs on the stairs.

That was not the only time that I was naughty – I remember when I was little, bored and feeling mischievous, I put some rice behind the door to the roof top terrace. I peeked through the gaps, waited till the chickens started pecking on the grains, suddenly opened the door – chickens were flying everywhere!  The naughty little girl laughed and laughed.  My grandmother was always very kind to me and never punished me.

Some days we were lucky enough to collect some good vegetables, and grandma cooked them for dinner with a little oil, a dash of soy sauce and nothing else. Soy sauce was always cheap and no coupon needed.

Here is my version of a simple soy bok choy, with fond memory of my wonderful grandmother.

Soy bok choy (Low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

Easy method is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Chicken stir fry with lemongrass and chili (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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Thai food always brings back memory of a pink restaurant where I worked for a few years during my university days.

The restaurant was owned by a kind Vietnamese couple – An the husband and Ly the wife.   Ly looked after 3 young children and worked in the tiny kitchen every night. An was a full time engineer who managed the dinning room and delivered takeaway food.

When they spoke about their past, I could see Ly’s eyes sparkled, and warm smiles on An’s face. In the old days back home, Ly was known as the ‘Saigon rose’ for her exceptional beauty, and An was a young, well educated officer working for the American army.

I learned to cook some wonderful dishes from Ly. One of my favourite was a ‘xa ot’ dish, meaning lemongrass and chili.

Here is my version of a xa ot chicken.

Chicken stir fry with lemongrass and chili

Easy method is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »