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July 2007

31 July 2007

Crying Tiger


Crying Tiger, a Thai dish otherwise known as Seua Rong Hai is sliced barbecued beef accompanied by a Nam Jim dipping sauce of which there are several different variations. The name 'Crying Tiger' is thought to be attributed to the small yet extremely potent red bird chilis in the sauce that are hot enough to bring tears to a tiger's eyes. The particular Nam Jim I prepared consisted of toasted rice powder which gives the sauce a nutty taste.

The meat used in this dish should always have a thin layer of fat on it, which when flamed grilled, adds to its smokey and delicious flavour.

Continue reading "Crying Tiger" »

27 July 2007

Half time bites - Panko Prawns with Kewpie Mayo


Hello, Tastebuddies,

I'm Nic - Syrie's extremely lucky and much less talented other half. I think it's appropriate that this is my first contribution to her blog. I made these Panko Prawns in the half time break in the second Bledisloe Cup match last weekend (for the uninitiated, the Bledisloe Cup is the most fiercely contested Rugby prize in the world - with the possible exception of the World Cup - and New Zealand and Australia play for it annually). So they took about 5 minutes from prep to bite.

For those of you who haven't Panko'd before, Panko is Japanese for breadcrumb. Panko crumbs are a bit different to normal crumbs, though - they are very light and a little larger than the granulated crumbs we're used to. I have used panko in non-asian dishes (on herb and mustard crusted lamb cutlets) and it's worked out a treat.

Next in our glossary of terms is Kewpie. Kewpie mayo is Japanese mayonnaise. It's sweet and creamy, but not like the horrible sweetness of Miracle Whip. That's really all I can tell you. Next time you're having sushi, ask the waiter to bring you some mayo. They'll bring Kewpie and then you'll know what I mean.

Panko Prawns with Kewpie Mayo

A dozen prawns - get a decent size: they're juicy;
Flour, Egg and Panko (enough for dipping rolling and dipping the prawns in);
Kewpie Mayo.

So this is a 5-step process and it's all over in about 5 minutes. (Actually I forgot about shelling the prawns...Ok, add another 5 minutes - you're still done before the second half begins).


  1. Set out the flour, beaten egg and Panko;
  2. Heat some oil (vege, maze, corn, etc) in a large pot on the stove on high heat for deep frying;
  3. Coat the prawns in the flour, egg and Panko (in that order); and
  4. Put them in the hot oil for about 2 minutes.
  5. Remove the prawns with a dry, steel slotted spoon or strainer, put them on some paper towels for a minute while you put the Kewpie in a bowl...and then sit back and watch the Wallabies get Panko'd.

Taste of Morocco - Butternut Squash and Chickpea Tagine


This is a recipe adapted from the Cooking Moroccan cookbook. We had originally given the book to some friends as a birthday present and when they cooked us some dishes from it, I promptly raced out and bought one myself.

A Tagine is a stewed dish that is cooked in a heavy based shallow clay pot with a conical lid. The lid is cleverly crafted so that the condensation returns back into the bottom of the pot. Hours of slow cooking at low temperatures result in tender fall off the bone meat and fragrant vegetables.

If you don't have a Tagine, then a large saucepan or soup pot with a cover will work just fine. For this recipe I also added water as I like a bit more sauce to mix in with the accompanying couscous.

Continue reading "Taste of Morocco - Butternut Squash and Chickpea Tagine" »

25 July 2007

Pavlova: The Great Aussie Creation...or is it?


The Pavlova is a much celebrated Australian creation. Or is it? This delicate desert is part of a great debate between Australians and New Zealanders who both lay claim to its invention.

The Pavlova, with its thin meringue shell and marshmellowy centre, was aptly named after Russian prima ballerina, Anna Pavlova who visited New Zealand in 1926 and Australia in 1929. Some evidence seems to point to a chef in Wellington creating the Pavlova after being inspired by the prima ballerina's tutu. The Pavlova is New Zealand's national dessert.

Anyway, kudos to whomever the inventor was and thank you for creating such an extravagantly light dessert. Light in weight but perhaps not calories so much.

The most important thing to remember when preparing the 'Pav' is that you MUST use scrupulously clean utensils. Even the tiniest bit of grease or egg shell will hinder the meringue-making process and result in a messy disaster.

This was my second attempt at making a Pavlova and needless to say, I was very pleased with the result. It was touch and go however though because when I opened the oven door to let the Pavlova cool, the top of the base just sank. Just like that. It was a VERY stressful moment as I had been proudly watching its magical metamorphosis for several hours, only to have it collapse in three miserable seconds.

Thankfully, this development was not a catastrophic one as we simply piled on some extra whipped cream to fill the hole. Joy.

Continue reading "Pavlova: The Great Aussie Creation...or is it?" »

20 July 2007

Thai in 10 - Gai Pad Grapow


Inspired by Mark Bittman's Summer Express: 10 Minute or Less Meals, I thought I'd whip up some Thai in 10...

Gai Pad Grapow or Chicken Basil is one of the easiest and tastiest Thai dishes you can make. The key ingredient in this dish is the Thai Basil, which has a stonger smell than most Sweet Basils. Its leaves are small and it has a purple stem with a faint licorice aroma.

Since we don't have a gas stove, I use a mini stove so I can really heat the wok up as this dish should be cooked quickly and on a high heat. It is a good idea to have all the ingredients ready and within reach as the actual cooking part only takes a couple of minutes.

Continue reading "Thai in 10 - Gai Pad Grapow" »

17 July 2007

Bastille Day Bouillabaisse


To honour Bastille Day on 14 July we held our own Fête de la Fédération at apartment 405. The specialité de la maison was Bouillabaisse followed by a very rich Chocolate and Orange Mousse. Nic wants me to put in lots of other French words that he's yelling at me, like tete-a-tete and rendezvous and aprés-ski, but I'm not going to.

Bouillabaisse, a Provencal fish stew originates from the town of Marseille and consists of at least four different types of Mediterranean rock fish and crustaceans like mussels or small crabs. The rich seafood is balanced with a light, sweet broth that is made from fish stock given its famous red hue from saffron threads.

I never fully appreciated the amount of work that goes into preparing this acclaimed dish. Bouillabaisse is no ordinary soup. It requires patience, effort and real application. In the end however the result was worth the effort.

There are three major steps in the preparing of this recipe. The first is preparation of the fish stock, then the Rouille; a Saffron and Garlic Mayonnaise with croutons, and then finally the Bouillabaisse itself. Don't forget, you can always make the process easier by just buying fish stock from your local fish shop which is what I will do next time.

Continue reading "Bastille Day Bouillabaisse" »

14 July 2007

South China Seas Trading Company


Vancouver has a diverse Asian palate and a testament to this is the South China Seas Trading Company store at Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver.

The store however does not limit itself to just Asian foodstuffs. It also stocks hard to find items from the Caribbean, Mexico, India, South Africa and Japan and a variety of fresh seasonal produce like morels, sea asparagus and tamarind, just to name a few.

I shop here at least once a week and am always enthralled by all the interesting items they have in stock.

The most unusual ingredient I have seen there is Krachai Root, a Rhizhome also known as Fingerroot or Chinese Ginger. Krachai Root is used in a Thai Dish called 'Kanom Jin Naam Ya', which I can only describe as a type of minced fish curry with rice noodles and various condiments. The Krachai Root gives the dish a slightly medicinal sort of flavour. It is really hard to explain what it tastes like but it is very distinctive and delicious.

South China Seas also has a great collection of international cookbooks.


Seafood Barbie

Summer in Vancouver is fleeting so there is no excuse not to whip out the barbecue and head down to the park after work. We bought our barbie for $26. A Steal considering the number of times it has been used it so far.

On the BBQ menu was fresh Sardines and other seafood from the Granville Island Public Market. I have long had a love for sardines, especially when they are grilled. The little silver fish are not only tasty but high calcium, protein, iron, potassium, phosphorus and omega-3 fatty acids.

Sardines are a shallow swimming fish caught in the summer months and are believed to have been named after the Island of Sardinia, where they were caught as young fish to be salted or packed in oil in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Sardines, also known as pilchards in some countries, are oily fish and can be eaten in a variety of ways such as grilled, crumbed, baked or pickled. I think they are best grilled and drizzled with chilied olive oil and lemon juice.

ok, back to last night's seafood feast...It consisted of grilled sardines stuffed with garlic and rosemary, oysters kilpatrick, prawns with a garlic butter dipping sauce and a potato salad with a balsamic wholegrain mustard creme dressing. Salivating yet? I am. 


Grilled Sardine Recipe

4 fresh Sardines
3 cloves of Garlic
4 Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
Half a Lemon
50 mls of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Chili Powder
4 Bamboo Skewers (soaked for an hour in water)
*Heat the BBQ up for 10 minutes.

1. Gut and wash the Sardines. Nic the fish filleter did this job as I am too much of a wimp.
2. Pat the Sardines dry and rub body and cavity with salt and pepper.
3. Slice Garlic and place in the cavity along with a Rosemary sprig. Add a slice of garlic in the mouth as well.
4. Insert the bamboo skewer into the Sardine's mouth and make sure that the stick runs as close to the spine as possible. Push the skewer out around the tail. Repeat with the rest of the sardines.
5. Sprinkle a little more salt on the fish.
6. Once the BBQ is ready then place the fish on the grill and cook for around 3 minutes each side turning once.
7. Mix the olive oil and chili powder vigorously in a bowl.
8. Once the Sardines are ready, take off the grill and drizzle with chili oil and a squeeze of lemon.


Oysters Kilpatrick Recipe

12 Fresh Oysters
3 rashers of Smoked Bacon
2 tsp Oil
Worcesterchire Sauce
Tobasco Sauce
4 cloves of Garlic
5 tbs of Unsalted Butter
*Special Equipment: Glove, kitchen towel and an oyster shucker

1. Finely slice the bacon and fry it until crispy in 2 tsp of oil. Drain and set aside.
2. Finely mince the garlic.
3. Heat up the butter gently in a small fry pan. Add the garlic and stir for about 3 minutes on a low heat. Turn the heat off and let the pan sit on the plate for about 3 minutes.
4. Carefully place the unshucked Oysters on the BBQ grill. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. They should start steaming and hissing and even open a little. Don't worry if they don't.
5. Take the oysters off the grill and then shuck them open. Careful of the hot oyster liquor!
6. Put the open oyster back onto the grill and add a dash of Worcesterchire, tobasco, garlic butter and a sprinkle of bacon.
7. Cook for a further minute or so, remove from the grill with tongs and then SLURP!


BBQ Banana Prawns and Garlic Butter Sauce Recipe

This was simple. Just grill the prawns for about 3 minutes on each side then peel and dip in the garlic butter left over from the oysters.


Potato Salad with a Balsamic Whole Grain Mustard Dressing

15 Small Red Potatoes
5 Small Vine Ripened Cherry Tomatoes
1 handful of shelled Sugar Snap Peas
1 handful of diced Spanish Onion
Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 tbs of Aged Balsamic Vinegar
3 tbs of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp of Wholegrain Mustard

1. Wash and boil the potatoes until cooked - about 15 minutes. Keep testing the potatoes with a knife as you don't want them to fall apart or to be undercooked.
2. Shell the Sugar Snap Peas and cut the tomatoes in half. Set Aside.
3. Prepare the dressing. Add the Olive oil and Balsamic vinegar into a bowl. Add the Wholegrain Mustard and mix vigorously with a fork until a creamy consistency forms. Add the Black Pepper and continue to mix.
4. Drain the potatoes once cooked and run under cold water.
5. Add the potatoes to a bowl, add the peas and onion. Add about 1/2 tsp of salt and mix well.
6. Mix the dressing into the salad and then top with chopped chives.


11 July 2007

Italian Night


Bocconcini pronounced [Bokh-khon-CHEE-Nee] is Italian for 'mouthful'. That is exactly what we had last night; delectable mouthfuls of Insalata Caprese, otherwise known as Bocconcini and Tomato Salad. We recently splashed out on some Domaines Bunan First Press Olive Oil so we tested it out with the salad. The result was excellent. This rare oil comes from 100 year-old trees of the Domaines Bunon in Provence. The olives produce a sweet, full-flavoured oil with a very clean taste. Perfect for summer salads!

I cannot remember the name of the Balsamic we use but it is very sweet and the bottle (pictured in the photograph) had a red label on the cork which means it was aged for 12 years. I am pretty certain it is was produced in Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

The basil came straight from our herb 'garden'.


I used fresh pasta for this scrumptious dish and you can really notice the difference. The pasta was called Angel Hair but is was a lot thicker than usual. You have to be really careful not to overcook fresh pasta as the soft wheat has a lot less gluten in it than commerically made dry pasta, so it can become very limp and flabby.

The first thing to do for this recipe is prepare the tomato sauce. This part takes two hours so get cracking!

Continue reading "Italian Night" »

07 July 2007

Thai in the Park


Last night we had a Thai feast in the park. Albeit a peasant feast but a feast nonetheless. On the menu was Gai Yang, Som Dum and Kao Niew which translates to BBQ Chicken, Green Papaya Salad and Sticky Rice. These dishes come from the Issan region in North Eastern Thailand; the poorest part of the country, and are considered to be peasant food.

Peasant food or not, I love it and whenever I am back in Thailand, I go to a famous little Gai Yang restaurant in Bangkok just to eat these dishes. I don't even think the restaurant has a name, so to get there you have to jump in a taxi and say 'Runahan Gai Yang, Soi Aree' (BBQ Chicken restaurant on Aree Street) and the taxi drivers know where to go.

Sticky rice is a staple in the Issan region and it is steamed in large woven baskets such as this one...


We bought this device at South China Seas Trading Co. at the Granville Island Market for a mere $16. No more mental binges about Kao Niew as I can finally make the real thing!


To prepare the Sticky Rice you need to soak it overnight in a bowl of water. You then drain it and wrap it in Cheese Cloth.

Meanwhile, fill the urn with water about 3/4 of the way up the side and then bring it to the boil with the basket in it. Put the rice wrapped in cheese cloth in the basket and cover it with a small lid from a pot. Steam it for 30 minutes and then carefully take the rice out and test it. The rice should be chewy. When serving it make sure you keep it covered as it can dry out quickly.

In terms of cooking order, I made the Kao Niew last as it needs to be piping hot and moist, so keep that in mind.


Continue reading "Thai in the Park" »

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