Friday, 29 April 2011

Steamed Glutinous Rice with Chicken (Lo Mai Kai)

I still keep in mind my self-challenge to showcase asian (especially Singaporean) food instead of the usual real food fare, and if I do share a recipe that's not, to follow up with one that's similar/inspired, but asian. When I did the Greek dolmades, I knew I just had to do Lo Mai Kai, fragrant glutinous rice steamed with chicken, shiitake mushrooms, chinese sausage, and/or dried shrimps, wrapped up in lotus leaves (hence also called Lotus Leaf Rice 荷叶饭). However, the Singapore version of Lo Mai Kai is slightly different. It's steamed in little aluminium foil bowls, sold in coffeeshops (kopitams) along with Chinese steamed buns (pau), as takeaway tea or breakfast.

Lo Mai Kai
serves 1 hungry person (please make more!)
1/2 cup glutinous rice
70g chicken thighs, deboned and chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 shiitake mushrooms, soaked (mushroom soaking water reserved)

For chicken and mushrooms
1 tsp dark soy sauce (I use 1 tsp tamari + 1 tsp molasses)
1 tsp natural oyster sauce
1 tsp shaoxing huadiao rice wine
1 clove garlic, grated
few drops of sesame oil
white pepper

For Rice
1 cup water (or stock)
1 tsp tamari light soy sauce (+a little bit of molasses)
1 tsp natural oyster sauce
1/2 tsp five spice powder
few drops of sesame oil
white pepper

1. The night before, soak the rice with enough water to cover (This is not just a step to reduce phytic acid in grains, this is a must for sticky rice!) and marinate the mushrooms and chicken.
2. The next day, drain the rice and cook with 1 cup of water for about 30 minutes, or till cooked (I use a rice cooker). Mix with the seasoning for rice.

3. Fry the chicken and mushrooms for a few minutes till cooked.

4. To assemble, place the chicken and mushrooms at the bottom of a greased metal dish, then top with the rice. Press down to make sure the layers are tight.

5. Steam over medium high heat for 30 minutes.

6. Turn out onto a plate and dig in! If you've been wondering so far why I'm hiding the chicken and mushrooms with the rice instead of showcasing them, ah, now you know! It works like pineapple upside down cake.

The sticky rice is infused with the delicious flavours from the spices and seasoning, shiitake mushrooms, and marinated meat. And the pork lard, as used traditionally, and which I'd happily add to if I had. This was one of my favourite dishes growing up. My mum would go to the Tanjong Rhu Pau stall (best paus ever) and buy like 20 buns and these delicious Lo Mai Kai for tea that day and breakfast the next day. Now I wish I doubled the recipe..

Monday, 25 April 2011

Collard Leaf-Wrapped Herb Rice with Radish Tzatziki, or "Pseudolmades"

Spring greens, aka collard greens, are everywhere now, and both Tesco and Asda are selling huge bags for 50 pence. I found myself with yet another bag of these leafy vegetables because I cannot resist a cheap deal. Keeping a lookout for what's on offer and what's in season is also one of my best ways to stay within my real food student budget. After too many consecutive meals of spring greens thrown into all my soups and broths or into all sorts of stirfries, I wanted something different, and this recipe came to mind.

Dolmades are Greek parcels of rice wrapped with grape leaves or vine leaves, and there are loads of different varieties. I could have done this with some minced meat in the rice mixture too, or extra diced vegetables, but I really wanted it simple for the zesty spring herbs (that I freshly 'harvested' from my windowsill garden) to shine through. I liked them instantly when I first tasted them because they reminded me of dish from home- Chinese lotus-leaf wrapped rice 荷叶饭 loh mai kai- but now with an edible wrapper! It's hard to come across vine leaves, so collard greens, with their huge tough leaves that stand well to slow-cooking, are a great alternative, i.e. pseudolmades (creative rights go to the real food dudes).

makes 8 parcels
8 large collard leaves
1/3 cup long-grain rice (soaked overnight if brown), plus 1/2 cup homemade stock/water
3-4 spring onions, white parts, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
handful of currants (or sultanas or preferred dried fruit)
handful of pumpkin seeds, soaked and dehydrated or toasted (originally pine nuts, but they're expensive)
handful of chopped coriander and mint leaves
juice and zest of half a lemon
sea salt and pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Saute the onion and garlic in 1 tbsp of evoo, then add the rice, currants and pumpkin seeds to toast for 2 min more. Add the stock/water, season, bring to boil and then let simmer till al-dente, about 15 min. Add the chopped herbs and lemon juice and zest to the cooked rice mixture.

2. Steam or blanch the collard leaves in boiling water for 5-10 min so you get cooked, flexible leaves that you can work with easily. De-stem the leaves.

3. A picture speaks a thousand words, so 4 should be more than enough.

(Originally you would stuff the vine leaves with uncooked rice and then let them cook inside the vine leaves, but I think the collard leaves will turn to mush by then.)

4. Steam the parcels, or slowly simmer them over low heat for 30-40 mins in stock with some olive oil and lemon juice added (water should reach halfway up the parcels), adding more water if needed. Serve warm or cool.

Ok now for the tzatziki, totally optional but you must do it.

Tzatziki is a great mediterranean dip that's really refreshing and easy to make! It kind of remindsme of Indian raita too, which is also basically yogurt and cucumber. I added radish too as it's in season and it adds a bit of pepperiness, you can cut it out and add more cucumber!

Radish Tzatziki
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and minced
2-3 radishes, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
handful of chopped mint (or dill)
juice of half a lemon
extra virgin olive oil

1. To make greek yogurt, just strain the yogurt for a few hours till you get a thick creamy consistency. I use Yeo Valley organic yogurt, which is so creamy it's almost greek-like in consistency already so I skip this step.
2. Mix all the ingredients together, and refrigerate for half an hour or so for the flavours to meld.

This is great with toasted pita bread or as a dip for all sorts of things or even to accompany poached fish!

I served my dolmades with lemon slices and tzatziki spooned over generously. Together, they form a great dish that makes use of all that spring has to offer: collard greens, cucumber, radish, spring onions, lemons and fresh herbs like mint and coriander! How's this for a super springtime meal!

This is part of Hearth and Soul Blog Hop.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Tea Leaf Eggs 茶叶蛋

Remember my dozen eggs? The best way to use up old eggs, is to make a batch of hardboiled eggs, because they not only peel easier, but can keep in the fridge for about a week or so and serves as my emergency real-food protein snack when I feel a bit peckish. Since Easter was coming up, I thought it'd be a great time to create some naturally patterned and coloured tea leaf eggs.

Tea leaf eggs are a favourite traditional chinese street snack. Apparently, in Taiwan, tea leaf eggs are common in their convenience stores, and my taiwanese friend just loves them. It's commonly sold as street food, especially in pasar malams (makeshift markets) in Singapore too. The key ingredient here is the star anise, which, along with the other spices and the fragrant tea, perfumes your kitchen with tempting aromas.

Tea Leaf Eggs 茶叶蛋
4-8 eggs, however much you can fit in the saucepan/ can eat
2 black tea leaf bags, or 2 tbsp loose leaves (if you have chinese tea e.g. my favourite oolong, or pu-erh, or tie guan yin, or assam tea, it'd be even better!)
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 cloves
1 tsp five spice powder
1 tsp sugar (unrefined cane sugar)
4 tbsp soy sauce (naturally brewed, I use tamari, which is wheat-free and more intense)
2 cups water

1. Make the best hard-boiled eggs i.e. 15 min.
2. Crack the eggshells with a spoon.

3. Return the eggs to the saucepan with all the ingredients added, bring to a boil, and let simmer for 2h. If you can, let it marinade overnight for better flavour and colour. (Or even longer. I like them more 2 days later. And even more 3 days later.)

4. Serve with a little of the broth/brew.

By cracking the eggshell, you get a beautiful marbled appearance, and the flavour and aroma of the spices seep into the cracks and infuse the egg. It's not just style ok, this egg has substance.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Soft-boiled Egg with Sesame Roasted Broccoli Soldiers

Since I posted a tutorial on poaching eggs, I thought it'd be great to have a tutorial on boiling eggs, fit for Easter.

I don't like being exact when I cook, and many times I just eyeball the measurements, in fact I'm quite happy just adding "a dash of this" or "a sprinkle of that" or "a glug of this" or "a drizzle of that", but the only way to get eggs boiled to the perfect level of done-ness you want is by careful timing.

Boiling Eggs 101
Put room temperature eggs in a single layer in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, and once boiling, take the pan off the heat and let the eggs sit in the hot water for
4 min: Soft boiled eggs (whites are set, yolks are still runny)
6 min: Medium boiled eggs (whites are firm, yolks are half runny)
15 min: The best hard boiled eggs (whites and yolks are firm, but yolk is still creamy i.e. see photo below)
17 min: If-you-like-it-real-cooked hard boiled eggs (whites and yolks are firm)
Any longer: Rubbery egg whites and yolks with a grey ring around them
Immediately remove to a bowl of ice water, or keep changing a bowl of cold water, to stop the cooking process.

Hard boiled eggs on some noodle soup I made last time

This is based on countless kitchen experiments. I've tried bringing the water to a boil first before dropping the eggs in (nope. you risk cracking the shell), bringing both eggs and cold water to a boil but letting them simmer instead of sitting in hot water (nope. I find it difficult to determine exactly when the "simmer" starts), starting with cold eggs (nope. shell cracks.) etc etc.

Some other tips:
1. Use old eggs, and save the fresh ones for poaching. Fresh eggs are harder to peel.
2. Jamie Oliver has a brilliant way to peel eggs fast. Roll the egg on the counter to create cracks all over, and then peel under running a running tap.
3. Use the right sized pot, big enough to hold the eggs in a single layer, but not too big that the eggs can roll about and crack each other up (no I'm not trying to be funny, no pun intended.)

Now that we've got the egg sorted,

Sesame Roasted Broccoli Soldiers
Ingredients (can easily be doubled or quadrupled)
Broccoli, cut into florets but make sure stalks are roughly equal
For about 1/4 head of broccoli,
1/2 tsp tamari soy sauce
1/2 tsp of sesame oil
extra virgin olive oil, enough to coat
sesame seeds, to serve (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
2. Toss broccoli florets with the tamari, sesame oil, and evoo. Spread in an even layer on a greased baking tray.
3. Roast for about 10-15 min, or till lightly browned at the edges. Scatter sesame seeds over.

The intense umami flavour and sesame aroma of the roasted broccoli is addictive enough on its own, but I like mine dunked in egg yolk, a twist on the classic British egg and toast soldiers. I don't have a fancy egg cup, so I just served my soft boiled egg in the egg carton >< SInce it's spring you can also try it with roasted asparagus spears instead!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A Perfectly Poached Egg

Seductive quivering blob asking to be poked.

It's easter this sunday, and I have a dozen fresh local eggs, so this week's going to be an eggs-tremely eggs-citing eggs-perience. Sorry, I couldn't help it hehe.

It'd be a shame not to poach fresh eggs, because fresh eggs really make all the difference between a perfectly formed poached egg and one with the whites running all over the place. Poaching eggs is one scary kitchen task that I took very long to finally dare to do, and being the foodie nerd that I am, researched extensively on. Here's a Guardian article which compares the methods. And after a few delicious (ugly poached eggs are still poached eggs) flops, here's the method I swear by:

Perfectly Poached Eggs
1 fresh free-range egg
a pot of water
a tsp of vinegar

1. Bring the pot of water to a boil, and then reduce to simmer. Add the vinegar.
2. Meanwhile, crack the egg into a shallow bowl (or if you dare, you can just do it straight into the water later, but I'm chicken.)
3. Stir the boiling water vigorously (with a whisk if you like but nah) until you get a whirpool, then gently slip the egg into the centre of this whirlpool.
4. Once the whites form around the egg yolk, take it off the stove and just let it sit in the hot water for a couple of min, or till the whites are set but soft, but the yolk is still raw (tell by sight, not touch!!)
5. Immediately remove with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper and serve (e.g. with wilted spinach and generously buttered sourdough toast) or transfer to a bowl of cold water to stop it cooking then reheat in a pan of simmering water.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Salmon Korokke (Croquette) Balls with Wasabi Avocado-naise

Since I posted a recipe which gives canned sardines a makeover following a post on roasted whole sardines, I thought it would be fun to share a recipe giving canned salmon a run for its fresh counterpart following my chilli-soy marinated salmon post. While the canning methods may affect the nutritional profile of salmon slightly, canned salmon is still rich in omega 3 fatty acids, protein, and calcium due to the soft edible bones. What's more, I can get wild Alaskan salmon without breaking the bank, in fact, it's really very cheap when you buy the bulk cans. (Farmed salmon is really not worth your saliva. Did you know that that beautiful orange-pink in farmed salmon comes from chemical dyes, not from the prey they feed on as in wild salmon?)

So here goes!

Salmon Korokke (Croquette) Balls with Wasabi Avocado-naise
makes 10 balls
400g can wild Alaskan salmon, drained
1 stalk spring onion, chopped
1 tbsp garlic powder (you can also use fresh garlic, but I find the garlic powder also helps bind the mixture, kind of like flour)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I put stale sourdough bread into the oven with some olive/sesame oil to lightly toast/dry out, then crushed them in a ziplock bag. You can also use a food processor. For a more Japanese korokke, you can use panko breadcrumbs, but I don't agree with the ingredients in these.)

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
2. Combine the salmon, garlic powder, spring onions and beaten egg. Form little balls with your hands.

3. Roll them about in the breadcrumbs so they all get an even layer of crumb coating. Refrigerate for about 1h or so if you have time.

4. Grease a baking sheet and arrange the croquette balls, spacing them out so they aren't touching. If your breadcrumbs aren't already infused with oil, spray a mix of olive oil and sesame oil over the croquettes so they will crisp up nicely. Bake in the oven for about 20 min, or till crispy and golden.

for the wasabi Avocado-naise
1 ripe avocado
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp wasabi (Japanese horseradish) powder + 1 tsp water, combined to make a paste

1. Combine all the ingredients together and blend. If you can't take spicy, leave the wasabi out, if you can but don't have wasabi, just sub with mustard/ horseradish. (Note: Avocado will oxidise and discolour on exposure to air, so don't do this too ahead of time!)

I'm sure we've all had our fair share of fishcakes served with tartare or dill sauce, so if you're looking for something slightly different, I think you'll enjoy this with Asian (Japanese) twist! You can flatten them into patties if you like, but I chose to make them into croquette balls because was easier to roll them about in the breadcrumbs 2. they looked cuter like that 3. so I can indulgently pop hot crispy balls into my mouth whole and get bursts of flavours and texture, yum, no fork or knife or dainty smile ;)

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Spicy Sardines in Caramelised Onion and Tomato Sauce

I posted a roasted sardine dish earlier to show how we can include fish in our diet without breaking the bank, and here's another sardine dish, this time using sardines from cans. Sardines in cans are much easier to come by for most people and are really cheap. You get the same healthy omega 3 fats, b12, protein and best of all, calcium from the soft bones (no need to worry about picking them out this time because they just crumble). Another good thing about small fishes like sardines is that they are lower in toxins because they're lower in the food chain.

I like sardines in tomato sauce, but I avoid the tomato flavoured canned sardines because they're full of nasty vegetable oils and corn syrup. I get them canned in brine*, simply salt and water, and then add tomatoes and onions instead of sugar for the sweetness, and of course, a fiery chilli kick.

*If you can get hold of sardines preserved in oil, that's even more wonderful, they hold up their texture much better. Olive oil though, not processed vegetable oils or sunflower oil.

Spicy Sardines in Caramelised Onion and Tomato Sauce
serves 1-2
1 can of sardines in brine (or olive oil, but brine is cheaper)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (or about 1/3 cup of tinned tomatoes)
2 onions, peeled and sliced
1 Thai birdseye chilli, deseeded and sliced (or a milder chilli/chilli flakes/powder, to taste)
1 tbsp sweet rice vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
1 tbsp coconut oil (or extra virgin olive oil)

1. Heat the coconut oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the sliced onions and let them cook till brown and caramelised.
2. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook till it disintegrates.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the sardines and cook for a couple of minutes more.
4. Serve with rice and vegetables. If you want to, you can hack at the sardines with your spatula to break them up and then serve like a ragu of sorts over noodles or pasta too.

This is a fast and frugal dish that I can whip up anytime because I always have onions, a can of sardines, tinned tomatoes, and chilli flakes in my larder. Plus it's yummy; any "fishy smell" will cease to exist under all that sweetness from the caramelised onions, sourness from the tomatoes and vinegar, spiciness from the chilli, and saltiness from the sardines.

Quite evidently, I'm back from Romania! To my disappointment Mcdonald's has made its way there too, in fact, is there a country without the famous golden arches? But I had a great time eating my way through yummy bouncy (yes bouncy! how?!) sausages called mititei, cornmeal porridges (like polenta, called malinga) and stuffed cabbage rolls (something I really want to try making a version of really soon ;)

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Lemon and Garlic Roasted Sardines with Potatoes

After a salmon treat, here's a no less delicious recipe using a much looked down upon fish--the cheap sardine. Yes, sardines! Those cheap little oily fishes are rich in the same omega3 fats that we celebrate the salmon for. And have I mentioned how cheap they are?

A lot of people find them overpowering, but a bit of garlic lemon and fresh herbs will definitely get rid of any "smell", although I find it not so much a problem with fresh fish. I decided to roast the sardines whole, on a bed of potatoes because I like how pretty and impressive they look. I know many people cannot stand the idea of having the fish still staring at you on your dinner plate, but I'm absolutely fine with it. Maybe it's because I grew up in a household where my Chinese mum would often steam a whole fresh fish for dinner. Or maybe I'm just weird.

Lemon and Garlic Roasted Sardines with Potatoes
serves 1-2
2 sardines, whole
1 large baking potato, chopped into large chunks
3 cloves of garlic, smashed but skin on
1 lemon (1/2 cut into wedges, 1/2 reserved)
couple of sprigs of thyme
sea salt, black pepper (to taste, but be generous)
extra virgin olive oil

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
2. Parboil the potatoes in salted water for about 5 min, then drain well and give them a good shake to bash them up so you get crispy skins later. Arrange the potatoes in an even layer on a greased oven proof dish, season and drizzle with evoo, and place into the oven to roast for 45 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, remove the gills and insides from the sardines by cutting from just beneath the head down the belly. Wash under running water and rub the sardines all over to remove the blood and scales. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper.
4. 10 min before your potatoes are ready, remove, turn up the heat to 200 degrees celsius.
5. Place the sardines over and scatter the garlic thyme and the lemon wedges around. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over. Return to oven and roast for 10 more min till the sardines are just cooked. You can also change to broil setting for the last few minutes to get a lightly charred, crispier skin!

sardines before roasting (they look so cute, all wide-eyed and innocent)

sardines after roasting (I'm sorry, but yum)

The garlic and thyme really give the roasted sardines a mouthwatering aroma, and the lemons help to cut the richness of the sardines, so I can safely assure you there is no more horrible fishy smell. Option: You can also grill sardines whole if you have a barbeque, a fantastic option as the weather starts getting warmer (yay).

By the way, sardines are full of little bones that you can eat and that are actually good for you because they're full of calcium. Usually I have no problems eating the little bones in canned fish, but I find them quite irritating in sardines :( I'll find a way to get all these bones out for my next sardine adventure.

I'm off to Romania for 5 days! My favourite bit about planning for this trip (as with all trips) is the food research hee hee. Romania's supposedly a place that's not yet overflowing with processed food, instead being full of traditional meaty stews and vegetables! approve. anyway, will be back to blogging next week! (:

How to survive on real food on a student budget

Baked beans- the sad symbol of student life?

As much as I love salmon, it's not a fish I have often, because I am a student living in a tiny kitchen on a tiny budget, who yet still opts for real food and free-range eggs and meat and seafood that's not intensively farmed and fed chemicals. It is possible. And I think I even spend less than the average student here actually.

Tip 1: Cut out the processed, packaged foods. They not only do nothing for your health, they rack up quite a sum in your grocery bills. If you want chips or ice cream, make your own- they're much better for you plus taste a lot better (called the "I-made-it-myself!" syndrome, but really,they do taste better.)

Tip 2: Get down to the farmers' market. I work for London Farmers' Markets part-time actually, best job ever! You can get locally grown vegetables and fruits and happily raised animals, at pretty reasonable prices. Even most of the stalls that aren't certified organic keep to very good farming standards, it's jsut that they can't afford the organic certification. You also make sure you get food that's grown in season, and are so much fresher, so they have more nutrients last a lot longer- less wastage. It's also a lot of fun for me talking to the producers and seeing new vegetables that I've never had before.

Tip 3: Look for what's on offer at the supermarkets (I'm not a market snob). Most of what I cook is based on what's currently in season (and hence on offer). My roommate and I are closet aunties (ok now it's public. ok it was public long ago, long-standing joke among mutual friends) and a conversation in our flat will go like this "Is that got savoy cabbage? Is it on offer?" "Buy 1 get 1 for all cabbages, ends this Sunday! If you're there can you help me check if Kerrygold butter is still 1 pound?"

Tip 4: How to eat grassfed/pastured/organic meat without going broke? Opt for lesser cuts, like the pork belly, so cheap and flavourful, and (to me) the ideal fat: meat ratio ;) You can even get adventurous and try chicken feet and pork trotters, which become so meltingly tender when you slow cook them, and are full of collagen that's great for the skin. I also like using offal which is so much cheaper than the rest of the animal, but even more concentrated in nutrients.

Tip 5: Similar to tip 3, buy the less popular fishes, like herring and pouting and sardines. When you choose them over the pricier cod and seabass which are heavily over-fished, it's not only a budget-conscious choice, it's a much more ethical and sustainable choice. You also get your dose of seafood and their omega-3 fatty acids goodness (did you know the mackerel has more omega 3 than salmon?), and more often than not, these cheaper smaller fishes are lower in mercury toxins as they're low on the food chain, so you get the good stuff with less of the bad stuff. And there is nothing wrong with using canned fish once in a while, especially since you get extra calcium from eating the soft bones.

Tip 6: Grow your own. I don't mean to buy a farm or to move to a place with a big garden. I have a few pots of herbs growing on my windowsill. I admit it's my roommate who's the one with the green fingers, who knows when the basil looks thirsty or the coriander is sick, but I want to encourage you to do it anyway. It's not difficult nor expensive plus it feels so Nigel Slater/ Jamie Oliver- chic.

Tip 7: Plan your meals- I don't mean an entire proposal written up, stamped and budget-approved. Just think a few days in advance, so you don't buy ingredients that you don't need and end up wasting. And pay attention to your oft-neglected pantry, you'll realise you really don't need to buy that bag of . It's also fun because it forces me to get creative with what I have.

Tip 8: Buy in bulk. This is a really good tip for for those with large freezers, or a large family, both of which I don't have in London. But I can still do that, by combining my shopping with friends, or by buying in bulk for items that don't spoil that easily anyway. I'm looking now at the shared giant bag of dried shiitake mushrooms we got from chinatown, and the 2 litre jar of raw honey in my pantry.

Tip 9: Amazon!! Probably one of the best things about UK. It's not only a fine place to get your books for school, it's where you can pick up things like the 2 litre jar of raw honey at a bargain. As with Tip 3, watch out for bargains and do your auntie calculations and comparisons.

Tip 10: Eat out only once in a while, as a treat to yourself. This is the sad reality of a poor student. It's sad because I love tasting new things and having a good time. So I find recipes and make them myself! Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay for less than a fiver. (Ok I know it's not totally the same, but you get the idea.) I can have Thai, Korean, Indian, Spanish, and the Singaporean food I miss. That's the upside of this whole situation, and how I ended up with this blog (:

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Pan Seared Chilli Soy-Marinated Salmon with Sesame Spinach

Finally! A horrible two weeks of deadlines after deadlines is over!

And to treat myself, I decided to slowly marinate a piece of salmon steak in spicy garlicky tamari and sesame oil for a couple of hours instead of my throw-it-all-together meals the past few days. The actual cooking and preparation time is still very short though, and there's nothing extremely unique or wow about this, but it's one of my favourite (comfort) flavour combinations.

Pan Seared Chilli Soy-Marinated Salmon
serves 1
1 piece salmon steak
1 tbsp groundnut oil 

2 tsp soy sauce (naturally fermented and aged, I used tamari)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 small clove garlic, grated
1 cm piece of ginger, grated
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp unrefined cane sugar

1. Combine marinade ingredients and cover the salmon with it. Leave in the fridge for a couple of hours. Remove from marinade and bring to room temperature 20 min before cooking.
2. Over medium-high heat, add the oil in a pan and place the salmon into the hot pan. Don't keep poking it, or you won't get a nice sear. Salmon steaks are a bit trickier than the fillets because I can't see the colour change along the sides, but I give it an estimate of about 2 minutes before flipping over and letting it cook for another 1-2 min. Remember tt will continue cooking off the heat.

Sesame Spinach
2 big handfuls of spinach
2 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

1. Heat the sesame oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic, stirring often till they get browned.
2. Meanwhile, wilt the spinach in boiling water or you can steam it. Refresh in cold water.
3. Toss with the garlic-infused sesame oil.

Sprinkle the toasted garlic all over the spinach and the salmon and serve with rice!

Salty spicy and sweet with the aroma of toasted sesame and garlic --Ah, happy (: