Sunday, 10 August 2014

Hello New York I'm cooking! And a mayo-free tamarind kohlslaw!

It’s been a while! The past few weeks have been madness! There’s been lots going on– a lot of exciting things that I cannot yet share (but I will once I get the ok), and some bothersome things that you would rather not hear­. Of course, these are all excuses and the main reason is that the sun’s been too glorious and I’ve been spending my time lazing on the grass sipping Pimm’s.

There is one thing that I can share though: I am off to New York in a couple of weeks’ time for a well-needed break (Pimm’s breaks do not count). And I'm doing a little event in our loft with dinner and grooves! (Yes Asians don’t actually know how to take a break.)

I’m hosting it with The Boy, and we thought we would do a twist on American classics with Singaporean flavours. The menu is unauthentic but unabashedly so. It will be a very fun night, with live jazz and a crazy cocktail bar (Killer Kaya rum cocktails anyone?) manned by a sexy tall blonde bartender (i.e. our flatmate). Somewhere in my food/beach-crammed itinerary, I’ll be exploring a friend’s farm and the Union Square farmer’s market, so the produce we use will be seasonal, local and organic (yes duh and don’t judge).

I’m sharing the recipe for the coleslaw today. This is the menu item that I’m really excited about. (No not the mancakes* and not the sliders*.)

Well, I say coleslaw but this is definitely not one’s typical idea of coleslaw i.e. cabbage smothered in sugary mayo (and often accompanied by fried chicken). By definition, coleslaw is simply a salad made up of shredded raw cabbage that’s dressed in vinaigrette, or a sauce that already has vinaigrette (like mayo). The sweet tanginess of the salad is what makes it special in my opinion.

The one I’ve got here is a decidedly summery one. I’ve mimicked the sweet tanginess using tamarind instead, and because it is August and not at all cabbage weather, I’ve gone for kohlrabi and fennel. These two vegetables have a wonderful crunch just like cabbage, but also have a mild vegetal sweetness and herby fragrance. Unlike old-school coleslaw, it is not at all heavy and is bursting with flavours– sweet, sour, spicy, minty, and nutty all at once.

serves 3-4 as a side
1 medium kohlrabi
1 small fennel bulb
handful fresh mint leaves
handful cashews, dry-roasted

sweet tamarind mint dressing
30g (1 heaped tbsp) tamarind pulp
2 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp naturally fermented soy sauce
3 birds' eye chillies, chopped
squeeze of lime
small handful fresh mint leaves, chopped

1. Soak the tamarind pulp in 2-3 tbsp hot water for a few minutes, mashing up slightly, to make about 5 tbsp of tamarind paste. Mix the ingredients for the dressing, together, adjusting to taste. 
2. Finely shred the kohlrabi and fennel. Julienne practice! 
3. Toss the shredded vegetables, remaining mint, and roasted cashews in the dressing, mixing well till everything is well coated. Done.

The hot weather means I’ve been less inclined to switch on the stove, and god-forbid the oven, so my meals nowadays comprise largely of things you can throw together with minimal effort and heat. Any effort required often only involves the knife, which translates to lots of salads and pickles. Salads don’t have to be boring and this one is proof of that. The tamarind mint dressing is pretty versatile, so you can play around with the type of vegetables you use. Cucumbers are good.  Cabbage for a winter slaw. Roast peanuts if you don’t like cashews. No chillies if you can’t take spicy. Et cetera.

I’ve got a handful more quick fun ideas for those who have trouble thinking beyond a Caesar salad on the newsletter. If you like you can sign up– I have no time to spam and I only send good stuff.

And I don’t know if any New Yorkers read my blog, but if you do, I hope to see you on the 28th! Tickets and more details here.


*Idea of mancakes inspired by Chef John. Completely different pancake recipe though– The Boy is in charge of this because he is American.

My favourite salads/ pickles from the blog:
Nyonya achar (the vegetables are all in season now!)
How to sweet-Asian-pickle anything
Smashed cucumbers and marinated aubergines
YUM woon sen (Thai glass noodle salad)