Long time since I added anything to the blog. In fact, the year has turned fro 2016 to 2017 ! December/ January were the travel months where I drop everything and fly off to my homeland, spend time with near and dear ones and on the way in or out take a break in one or more destinations that have been on my to go list. This year it happened to be Singapore, Saigon and Seoul.
Singapore ( Singh = lion and Pura=city. Derived from Sanskrit language ).....a concrete jungle bustling with many diverse cultures - Chinese, Indian, British and Malay. It was interesting to just loiter from Chinatown to Little India to Arabic Quarters within a matter of minutes ! With regards to cuisines, experimented with foods from all the ethnically diverse quarters of the city. Singapore noodles to wontons to the French macaroons - you name it and Singapore has it all !
In memory of this island of Singapore, I would add a recipe that even the Singaporeans call a melting pot of its diverse culinary influences.
ROJAK OR RUJAK SINGAPORE STYLE
1 cucumber, washed
1 small jicama,peeled &sliced fine
1 small bunch water spinach,simmered soft &cut into pieces 1 pineapple, peeled and trunk removed 1 unripe mango, peeled & sliced 2 green apples, peeled 2 pieces of yu char kuay (Chinese dough fritters)
1c. bean sprouts, blanched 4 pieces of tau pok (fried beancurd)
Rojak Sauce (used as dressing) 2 tbsp shrimp paste 3 tbsp tamarind mix (1tbsp fresh tamarind juice with 2 tbsp warm water) 1 tbsp brown sugar 1 ½ tbsp. white sugar 1 stalk of chili padi (optional)or birds eye chili 2 tbsp toasted peanuts
1Tbsp toasted combination black & white sesame seeds
Chop cucumber, jicama, pineapple, mango, green apples, yu char kuay, and tau pok into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
In a sauce bowl, pour in the shrimp paste, tamarind mix, brown sugar, white sugar, chili padi, and toasted peanuts and mix well.
Combine your salad and sauce in a large bowl and toss to mix evenly – then you’re ready to serve!
Be ready to be shocked by the spices but you know what they say: if you can’t handle the heat, get outta the kitchen !
The place that really stuck to my heart was the
beautiful Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon. Will always carry the beautiful images forever and definitely visit it more in future. Right from the War Museum, the Cu Chi Tunnels and exploring the Mekong Delta with its floating markets and little islands providing the fresh produce - every experience leaves you mesmerized. Before my visit to the city, I had never cared much for the Vietnamese cuisine but since my return, I crave and make the fresh spring rolls almost once a week ! Simple clean flavors reflecting the simplicity of a cultured yet so tasteful .
SAIGON COOKING SCHOOL & THE FOOD SCENE IN SAIGON
Farm to table is an everyday concept in the Asian countries. In Vietnam, I got an opportunity to visit the farms, the rice fields and the floating markets. Moreover also spent a morning browsing through the local market in Downtown Saigon with Chef Oanh from the Saigon Cooking School. She guided me to the knowledge of various green and vegetables that are specific to the Vietnamese kitchens.
Based on the culinary sessions at the Saigon School , here's my favorite recipe :
FRESH SPRING ROLLS WITH PRAWNS, PORK AND RICE NOODLES
3oog lean pork
240g rice noodles
15 rice papers
12 fresh lettuce leaves julienned
40g Vietnamese fresh basil leaves
40g Fresh Mint leaves
100g Bean sprouts, yellow part taken off (optional)
1 Bunch Vietnamese chives cut into 3" pieces lengthwise
Prawns : Boil them with a pinch of salt for 1-2 minutes until the prawns are pink. Remove them to a cold ice bath. After some time, peel and cut into two parts.
Pork: Heat oil in a pan and sear pork for 1 to 2 minutes until lightly browned on all side. Let it cool. Cut into thin strips and thinly slice.
Wrap & Roll;
Wet little bit the rice paper with your fingers using water. Place it on a flat dry surface.
Place julienned lettuce onto the side of the rice paper close to you.
Top it with noodles,basil, mint and sprouts.
Add a line of 3 pieces of pork and then a line of 2 pieces of prawns.
Fold the two flaps of rice paper on the sides to the center. Now roll it up tightly and press to seal with a little bit of water.
Serve with a bowl of peanut sauce on the side.
PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE
1Tbsp Hoison Sauce
1tsp Crunchy Peanut Butter
1tsp Crushed peanuts
1/2-1tsp minced garlic
1/2-1tsp minced long red chili
Prepare and mix all ingredients in a bowl. Stir well. Adjust chili to suit your taste. Add more poison sauce if needed. Serve with satays or spring rolls. It can be stored in fridge for couple of days.