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.
Favourite Sauce Recipe
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 and..restaurant-y, 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!