Food blog

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 »

Simple Chinese mushrooms and cloud ear fungus, memories of Chinese New Year (vegan)

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Simple Chinese mushrooms and cloud ear fungus

Nearly 30 years had passed since I left China, but I still remember vividly the wonderful days around the Chinese New Years. Extended families gathered at the large dinner tables, briefly forgot about their quarrels throughout  the year. The wok chinked with an aroma of delicacies that we couldn’t afford as daily meals. The rolling pins were out for the wickedly delicious sweet peanut pastry.

The flower festival (‘huaJie’, 花街) was held about a week before the Chinese New Year. Families went to the street market packed of flower vendors to select their festival decorations. Kumquat 金橘 was an essential – ‘kum’ means gold and  ‘quat’ has a similar pronunciation as fortune. It is a plant that will bring good prosperity in the new year. A small blossoming  peach shrub was also an essential, s symbol of strength and vitality, with beautiful flowers emerged from the harshness of the winter. Also common were the chrysanthemum 菊花 and peony 牡丹, large and colorful, symbols of riches and honor.

Flower street
Memories of a street pack with people, flowers and green plants

When I was a little girl, my father worked in another city. So my second uncle took me to the flower festival each year. Our most memorable trips were the ones on the New Years Eves. We had loads of fun browsing the market and pushed through the crowd. There were so many people at the market, my uncle had to put me on his shoulders to be safe. When it was close to the midnight, we rushed home to light our fire crackers. There was one time that we were late and ran into the fire cracker storms at mid-night. The crackers and the odd firework were loud and smoky, with laughter of the children, so much joy and happiness.

Fire work
Memories of kids lighting fire crackers on the street

The next morning the streets were quiet with a red carpet of paper left behind by the fire crackers. Kids got up early to collect the odd fire crackers that did not go off the previous night, then ran around greeting their relatives ‘goon he fa choi’ 恭喜發財, in exchange for red envelopes with a little money, which they would use to buy lollies for months to come.

After the big feast on the New Year’s Eve, vegetarian meals were common on the first day of the new year.  My favorite dish was the stew Chinese mushrooms, a delicacy rarely consumed during the year. The mushrooms were cooked with different types of dry or fresh vegetables – lily buds, fungus, dry tofu sticks, hair vegetable 髮菜 and bamboo shoots. The aroma of the dish is still lingering in my mind.

Nowadays I cook Chinese mushrooms quite often – nearly everybody in our family and extended families love it.  In Sydney the Chinese mushrooms are inexpensive, a 250g bag of good quality mushrooms cost around $12. It makes a huge dish for 8-10 people to share. We are thankful for what we are able to enjoy today.

Here is a simple mushroom dish I’d like to share with you.

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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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Winter melon broth with dried shrimps and memories of a factory in the town of ‘YingDe’ (英德)

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Today I cooked a winter melon broth with dried shrimps. It brought back so much memories of a peaceful country town with a fast running river, a farmers market and a factory with impressively huge machines that were sky high in the eyes of a little girl.

Winter melon broth with dried shrimps and memories of a factory in the town of 'YingDe' (英德)
Winter melon broth with dried shrimps 

I was born towards the end of the culture revolution in GuangZhou, a major city in Southern China. At the time, workers from the cities were sent to farming villages or smaller towns to work or for ‘re-education’. Shortly after I was born, my father, a young  mechanical engineer, left us to work in a township called YingDe (英德). YingDe was 150km or a 4.5 hour train trip away from Guangzhou. My father didn’t return to Guangzhou permanently until I was in high school.

My father examining a machine
My father examining a machine

I visited my father several times over the summer holidays. His accommodation was a bare room with its walls lined with old newspaper. The room was normally shared by a few workers using 2 set of bunk beds. The workers mostly ate at the canteen. If they wished to cook, the room was also their kitchen. There was no shower rooms for the male dormitories that I could recall. They washed themselves at the common cold water taps nearby with their shorts on, or at the nearby river. When there were family members visiting, the workers moved around to different dormitory rooms in order to make room for the families.

In this room, I cooked for my father and myself over a tiny diesel stove on the floor. The 3  x 20 cents meals from the canteen were deemed to be too expensive as daily expenses. Each morning after my father went to work,  I took a short walk to a small farmers market to buy ingredients to made lunches and dinners. Meals were mostly just boiled green vegetables, melons, eggs and rice. Once, a colleague came back from Northern China and gifted us a small bag of dried shrimps. We enjoyed it for months, adding a few pieces to each meal.

Sometimes in the afternoon I hanged out in the factory office. Bored with drawing, I often begged my father to take me to the workshop where they made huge machines. He chatted with the workers, tested the machines and they all looked awfully serious. I never had any ideas what they talked about and was never interested. I liked workshop for its high ceiling, big windows, smell of the engine oil, and something else special about it that I could not pinpoint.

YingDe was a quiet and peaceful town by a fast running river. The river was where I first learned to swim. In the evenings we walked down to the river on a small path shared by farmers and their animals. One time, I jumped into a pile of cow dropping thinking it was a rock. Where the river turned there was a small beach. Across the beach there was a particularly tall rocky mountain with a mystery looking cave.  I always wanted to swim across the river to explore the cave, but never had the courage.

By the river at YingDe, GuangDong, China
By the river at YingDe in 1980s

The winter melon broth I cooked today was a lot more fancier than the plain and simple YingDe version I cooked over 30 years old.  I do hope you will enjoy it.

Recipe is as follows: 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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Golden pork dumplings 豬肉餃子

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My little boy’s school has a school fete shortly and I am running an Asian food stall for the school.

Last Sunday we had a few school families and friends over to wrap dumplings for the Asian food stall. We used up 16kg of pork mince, 6 large bunch of garlic chive, 3 large wom bok cabbages. At the end of the day we made 1,100 ‘jiaozi’ dumplings and 120 ‘siu mai’ dim sims.

In between wrapping the dumplings, we enjoyed a few bottles of sparkling wines, smoked spicy beef ribs, Vietnamese pork kebabs, some giggles and chats. We also tested our fruit of labor – pan fried dumplings (picture below).

Golden pork dumplings 豬肉餃子

I have learned a few new tricks for making dumplings. Our friend Michelle had kindly came over to help out and she was an expert in preparing the dumping filling.  She soaked some Sichuan red pepper corns with hot water and added the water to the filling, this will give the meat extra favors. She also stirred the mince with chopsticks one circular direction which will smooth the meat.  When she pan fried the dumplings, she added some plain flour mixed with a little water, which formed a lovely web-like base that tasted absolutely delicious.

We also added sesame oil, mirin, soys sauce to the dumpling filling. We used shop bought dumpling wrappers as 1,100 wrappers were too many to be hand made.

Making dumplings for the school fete
Making dumplings for the school fete

Looking forward to sell these lovely dumplings at the fete and raise some money for our school.

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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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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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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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Pan fried spring rolls with vegetables and shrimp shells

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As school fete fast approaching, I am trying out different ways to cook a large amount of finger food within a small amount of time. I am running an Asian Food stall for the school fete.

Spring rolls had always been a favorite at the previous fetes. Deep frying food at the fete makes me nevous, especially there are so many little kids around with their balls. So I am trying out pan frying the spring rolls.

The result was brilliant – they were better than the deep fried ones as I don’t have to roll them too tightly, so they are beautifully crispy.

The filling for my spring rolls today were mung bean vermicelli, wood ear fungus, cabbage, carrot, leek, shrimp shell, bamboo shoot and fried shallot. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it.

Pan fried spring rolls with vegetables and shrimp shells

To wrap a spring roll

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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Summer waffles with pineapple, banana and coconut (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

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Winter is finally fading away in Sydney. Sun is shining and warm. The golden cane plants are back to life and the garden is looking fantastic.  This beautiful morning I made my tropicana waffles for breakfast and enjoyed them by the pool.

My tropicana waffles are some of my best waffles – super crispy on the outside, beautifully moist on the inside, and full of the goodness of banana, pineapple and coconut milk.  A little icing sugar on top makes it super handsome. Who would think vegan waffles could be so yummy..

Waffles with pineapple, banana and coconut (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

Waffles with pineapple, banana and coconut (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

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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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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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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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 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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Sesame and peanut slice

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Earlier today I made some  sweet glutinous rice balls and had some peanut, sesame & coconut coating left, so I made this simple & delicious sweet snack, sometimes found at the street market stalls around Asian.

Sesame and peanut slice

Recipe is as follow:

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Sweet glutinous rice balls with walnut, sesame, peanut & coconut

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These sumptuous sweet rice balls are such a treat – often served at special occasions such as the Chinese Luna New Years or the Moon Festivals. The balls are sweet, nutty and slightly chewy, so very delicious.

Sweet glutinous rice balls with walnut, sesame, peanut & coconut

Recipe is as follow:

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Potato and pumpkin cake with rice flour, glutinous rice flour and tapioca flour, filled with cumin lamb (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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I made some gluten free dough with potato and pumpkin for gnocchi and decided not to stop there – lets use some of the dough to make Asian style ‘bing’ (餅). ‘bing’ is a round flat bread often with a meat filling.

This bing is crunchy outside and soft inside credits to the glutinous rice flour.

Potato and lamb cake, FODMAP friendly, 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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Brown rice congee with salted pork & peanuts (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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For a Chinese southerner, what food can be more warm and comforting than a hot bowl of pork congee (粥)?  The humble congee is the sort of food kids get when they are sick.  It is also a popular street food and you will find it at ‘yum cha’. Coogee goes well with fried noodles, Chinese donuts and it is delicious by itself. You can eat it with the thick & bulky Chinese ceramic spoon, or raise the bowl to your lips and slurp it.

If you’d like to have a go at cooking your own congee, a pressure cooker is highly recommended, otherwise it takes hours.

Here is my lunch today, brown rice congee with salted pork and peanuts.

Brown rice congee with salted pork & peanuts (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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

Twice cooked chicken mini drumsticks

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These chicken mini drumsticks are gently cooked in a stock with with Chinese spices,  then pan fried with mushroom soy sauce. Finger licking good !

Twice cooked chicken mini drumsticks

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

Creamy seafood chowder with a hint of turmeric

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I have loved leather jacket fish since I was a little girl, such beautiful white flesh and it is not too fishy, really good for steaming. This week I walked passed a fish shop and found some really fresh leather jacket fish, but too big to fit into my steamer.  So I made a seafood chowder using leather jacket for stock. Really yummy…

Creamy seafood chowder with a hint of turmeric

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

Home made steamed buns ‘man tou’ (馒头)

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This is a heart warming plain steamed bun that is soft and fluffy when served warm or at room temperature. Great for sandwiching spicy twice cooked pork, or any meaty dishes with strong flavors.

Home made steamed buns 'man tou' (馒头)

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

Twice cooked pork with chili soy bean sauce (Hui Guo Rou 回锅肉)

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This twice cooked pork is aromatic, juicy and can be seriously spicy. My friends told me, as they walked down to my house for dinner, they could smell the cooking from the top of the street. This dish is so tasty and satisfying with a bowl of rice, or a few freshly steamed ‘Man Tou’ (plain steamed buns).

Twice cooked pork with chili soy bean sauce (Hui Guo Rou 回锅肉)

I have posted the ‘Man Tou’ recipe here.

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

Chinese buns with spicy lamb

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Making Chinese buns is so very easy, simply pick up a good quality pack of bun flour & follow the instruction on the pack, and add a bit of baking power.  There are a few popular type of buns – plain ‘man tou’ (馒头), ‘bao zi’ (包子) which is a bun with meat or vegetable in the center, twisted bun Huajuan (花卷), and in the north, ‘Rou jia mo’ (肉夹馍) which is a meat sandwich.

Here is a meat-bun sandwich I made today, filled with lamb stir fried with Sichuan soy bean chili paste.

Chinese buns with spicy lamb

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

Chickpeas with bacon, tomato, turmeric, garam masala and cumin

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I love my ‘ordinary’ chickpeas stew with spicy chorizo. The other day, I was feeling a bit bored so I ditched the chorizo for bacon and Asian spices – nearly the same thing, right?

I first cooked the dry chickpeas, with some salt & water in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes on high.  I added some cooking oil in a frying pan, sauteed some bacon, onion and garlic before adding turmeric, garam masala and extra cumin; I added the chickpeas to the frying pan, gave it a little stir; then transferred the ingredients back to the pressure cooker with tinned tomatoes. Another 15 minutes on high, and lunch was ready with some crusty bread.    So easy and delicious.

Chickpeas with bacon, tomato, turmeric, garam masala

Chicken soup with ginger bok choy (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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On most Fridays I work from home. Some days there seems to be so much happening that I barely have time to make lunch. This is one of my Friday 10 minute meal – it is delicious and recharges me on cold winter days. No recipe required.

Chicken soup with ginger bok choy (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

I boil some water in the kettle while I thinly slice 2 chicken tight fillets, wash & slice some bok choy,  and slice up some ginger; Then I  heat up a little cooking oil in a pot, pan fry the ginger slightly, then fill the pot up with 2 cups of water and the chicken pieces; bring the water to boil, add the bok choy, bring it to boil again; check if the chicken is cooked through; and lunch is served with a pinch of salt and pepper.  If you like, you can add a dash of oyster sauce.

So simple and heart warming – the ginger brings out so much flavor.

Serves 2.

 

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Soy braised pork belly with bamboo shoots (gluten free)

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For Chinese cooking, pork belly is arguably one of the most popular cut of pork – it is juicy, full of flavor and mouthwatering fatty. It can be stir fried, steamed, boiled, braised, preserved/dried & roast. This pork belly dish was originated from a traditional dish called  ‘red braised pork’. It so happened that I have a jar of spicy bamboo shoots in the pantry. Bamboo shoots go so well with pork and  I added a few table spoonfuls to the pork belly.

Soy braised pork belly with bamboo shoots (gluten free)

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

Banana chilies stuffed with lamb, topped with an Asian sauce of oyster, soy and sesame oil (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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I saw some beautiful banana chilies in the local fruit shop & can’t help thinking of this dish –  a popular dish in Southern China with freshwater fish as stuffing. I like to use lamb & cabbage, it goes so well with chilies.

Banana chilies stuffed with lamb, topped with an Asian sauce of oyster, soy and sesame oil (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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

Egg ‘pancake’ with Asian style meat balls, vegetables and fish sauce (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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I bought some minced pork from the local butcher early this afternoon with the intention to make some Low FODMAP dumplings. By the time I get around processing the mince with bok choy as filling, I was getting quite hungry and fancied something a bit more substantial.  So here is the afternoon snack / dinner – really nice with a Vietnamese fish sauce.

Egg 'pancake' with Asian style meat balls, vegetables and fish sauce (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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