Saturday, 31 December 2011

Best of 2011

It's the last day of 2011, the day we start reflecting and looking back at the year. I wanted to do a recap of the best moments of 2011. It turned out to be a horrible process that took me a lot longer than I wanted to, because I really couldn't choose. I ended up forcing myself to choose one from each of the categories on my RECIPES page (which I will finally update in a while so make me happy and go see it tomorrow).

Favourite Vegetable Recipe

The slow-roastd flesh of the eggplant is deliciously soft and savoury from absorbing the marinade, and it goes wonderfully texture-wise and taste-wise with the slightly sweet, aromatic and crunchy peanut dressing. Of course, I am generally biased towards anything with that sauce-- freshly ground roasted peanuts simmered with tamarind and spices, homemade (or satay man-made) with love. Refer to the chicken satay post for the singapore satay peanut sauce.

Favourite Meat Recipe

When I first came to London, I got pretty homesick in the first few months. My mum used to send me ridiculously large parcels which complained about because the fact that they were ridiculously large meant that, for her, they were ridiculously expensive, and for me, they were ridiculously heavy (I had to carry them from the post office in the snow). Secretly though, these parcels of love made things just a little better, and though most of the things were pretty useles--she sent me toothbrushes once-- some things I've still kept as treasures, one of which is a handwritten list of some of her recipes. Sesame oil chicken is one of them.

Favourite Fish Recipe

As perfectly normal and even boring as it may sound to some people., gooseberries are really very new to me. I've never seen them before coming to London, though I've heard of them, but only in Enid Blyton/similar storybooks.
Herring and gooseberries turned out to be a good combination, as the tart juices bursting from the gooseberries help to cut the richness of the herring. I couldn't resist adding the chillies and spices, and though it may sound off, I thought it'd work somehow. The sour-sweet gooseberries work kind of like tamarind in the Southeast Asian recipes I'm familiar with, which is often combined with soy sauce and chillies for a balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy.

Favourite Rice Recipe

I know it was the previous post. But congee is the chinese equivalent of a bowl of risotto-- just simply rice, plump with the flavour from the stock it's simmered in, so each spoonful is a scoop of light yet creamy and comforting goodness.

Favourite Sweet Recipe

There is something about a peach, that fuzzy exterior which just begs to be stroked, and that bright yellow soft and juicy flesh inside. I loved them with the tangy sourdough crepes to mop up the sweet lemony gingery peachy juices and the smooth creamy yogurt. Refer to the "Sourdough crepe, that was easy!" post too.

This is not any ordinary chilli paste. Yes, you use this as a dip at the side, but you also use this as the base for creating so many classic Singaporean/ Malaysian fried rice/noodles/barbeques/curries/sauces. That said, it's an extraordinary dip, and nasi lemak is not nasi lemak, fried hokkien prawn mee is not fried hokkien prawn mee, without this sambal chilli on the side. What's unique about this cilli paste is belachan- a potent smelling fermented ground shrimp paste. I still remember cooking with it last year when I was still staying in halls and my Turkish flatmate kind of flew from the kitchen. But don't judge, because I guarantee you'll love this chilli for it's sweet, spicy, salty, savoury and just a tiny bit tangy and smoky flavour.

I tried game meat for the first time

Venison just sounded so fancy, so I had the impression I would be much better off without it, pocket-wise. But then I realised how cheap the venison necks were. I'm a fan of using the less popular cuts of meat. You get so much more bang for your buck, plus there's loads of flavour, especially if the meat is still hanging onto the bone (marrow bones in this case, score!). And, it's definitely tender if you remember to go low and slow. I found recipes calling for it to be braised in red wine, but because I'm not one to have red wine around the house, I used Shaoxing rice wine instead, and to complement that, some typical Chinese braising spices, which would also counter any gamey-ness.

Oh, and more.
I have the best job possible for a real food lover, working at the Pimlico Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings.

I'm thankful for all the good things that have happened, and for the bad, food and cooking have helped make it very much more tolerable. All in all, this was a brilliant first year for me food-blogging wise, I don't know what I see for the year ahead, but I hope to be able to continue doing the things I love and meeting people who also enjoy doing the things I love. May everybody have a lovely 2012, and enjoy your last few hours of 2011!


  1. Would love to try the eggplant and sambal tumis. Glad you enjoyed blogging. Happy New Year!

  2. Wow, you certainly have a wide repertoire of different-style dishes these days. When I was your age I could probably only cook beans on toast and scrambled egg! I love the "East meets West" aspect of your recipes. I don't share your passion for Belachan though, since I don't eat fish!
    Happy New Year!

  3. Happy New Year! What delicious and diverse food! Herring and gooseberries! Exciting!! So happy you found my blog, introducing me to yours.

  4. Dear Shu Han, what a wonderful collection of recipes, I'll definitely try the eggplant, that looks amazing as do the crepes. A wonderful year for you and I'm sure 2012 will be even more amazing. I agree too, that food and cooking do make so many things much more tolerable!

  5. Everything looks delicious! Your mummy would be so proud of you! Happy New Year!

  6. Happy New Year Shu Han, that chicken dish is fast becoming a staple in our house, and has definitely made the cut during my recipe folder rationalisation project!

  7. YUM!! It all looks so delicious! HAppy New Year Shu Han! Wishing you an amazing year in 2012!! May all your dreams come true :) xo

  8. Yum, all of those sound SO delicious. Especially the stuffed eggplant and sourdough crepes...
    Happy new year!

  9. Great round-up Shuhan - the Sambal Tumis looks amazing - a bit like harissa... seems to have the same colour and consistency too so I bet I'd love it! I'm a massive fan of aubergine too - the aubergine dish you mentioned looks incredible - I think I'd be tempted to brush the sambal tumis over the aubergine and roast it up... yum!

    Happy new year :)

  10. What a wonderful New Year's post idea! It reminds me I have been meaning to make this sauce for months... I love aubergine, I love satay sauce so I think the first dish will be very high on my testing list too!
    Happy New Year and happy blogging!

  11. HAPPY nEW YEAR Shu Han! Thanks for buzzing me over at my blog. I love aubergines, and I bet it would be delish to go with your sambal tumis too. Just yanked out a tooth, and looks like no spicy food for the next few days according to my dentist
    :(. In my mind I am drooling..Yummm, loving your recap and here's a toast to another wonderful new year of food blogging. I am glad you enjoyed it too, as I did too. xoxo

  12. Happy new year! I have to say that eggplant satay dish looks delicious and is one I will be trying

  13. Happy New year! Oh, and I love that sesame oil chicken dish :)

  14. biren: acutally have done that too, but just in a simple stirfry! it's good, as is anythign with sambal ;)

    mark: oh ): well, if anything, lots of people who do eat fish wont share my passion for belachan either heh.

    susan: thanks! yes it's a weird combi, but it worked!

    ren: thanks, have a great 2012 too, food and cooking is my escape (:

    shirley: i hope she is too, she nags that I waste too much time in the kitchen ;)

    little macaroon: oh, i'm so glad! i' sure my mum will be pleased to know too!

    emily: thank you!!

    indie.tea: thanks, the sourdough crepes are an all-time favourite (:

    charles: it's a lot more pungent and sweet at the same time.. quite different from harissa, maybe except for the spice bit! haha maybe one day you will make it, and then you can brush it on the aubergine and let me know how it went!

    sissi: ooooh do try!!

    chic&gorgeous treats: ohh ): I do hope your tooth troubles go away soon! thanks, and looking forward to 2012 (:

    gourmet chick: thanks, do try! (:

    anh: thank you, my mum will be pleased!

  15. Amazing year of blogging and recipes! Your roasted eggplant, sesame oil chicken, sourdough crepes and sambal tumis posts really left such a lasting impression on my mind. Still remember reading and being blown away by your creativity, execution and attention to detail. Love it!!!!

  16. I was staying in a hall during my first 6 months too in Sydney. A few Singaporeans got so homesick we had a "Kaya Party" for supper with cream crackers, butter and Yeo's Lychee tetrapacks. I love "Oriental" stores in Aussie!

    Oh yes... the bad food served at the dining halls were the main reason I moved out. "Sandwich Construction" meals 3 times a week for lunch where you made your own sandwiches from a cold bar. Almost always we would get pizza the day after "Sandwich Construction" as they made use of the leftovers.

    Spaghetti and tomato sauce every night and rice with ONE main dish. We singaporeans need at least three from our 'Economy Rice' habits right and the same salad bar.

    Oh... they once had a Chinese-themed dinner and served chow mein! Guess what was on the salad bar next day for lunch? Leftover chow mein straight from the fridge as "Noodle Salad"! My fellow Singaporean and I took a huge plate each and headed to the microwave.... DING! Chow Mein again!