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)


  1. I like kohlslaw a lot and your twist with a sweet tamarind dressing is the right thing for a summer bbq party.

    1. You're right these would be great for summer barbecues! The dressing is actually good even on grilled meat, great 2-in-1 ;)

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  2. Love your unique rendition of this...yum!

    1. Yay! Don't particularly like old school Southern coleslaw :p

  3. Love the kohlslaw recipe ;) I adore fennel. Sounds like you are having an exciting summer and hosting dinner in New York too! Good times. :)

    1. I adore fennel too! I've been having it in so many ways, roasted, raw etc.
      Yes it is exciting but oh my god so swamped with work now too. Cant wait for a break!

  4. Oh Shu Han I'm glad that I'm not the only one struggling to find time to blog... I've also been enjoying the summer with back to back plans and no time to sleep let alone blog! I'm on my third batch of chocolate now yet still on Stage 3 of the first batch with the blog posts eeek!! LOVE kohlrabi, it's been so long since I've had it! Kohlslaw looks delicious. Sounds like an amazing event. I wish I could come. Are you doing anything in London anytime soon? Let me know! :) xx

    1. It is so difficult to find time. I used to think it was busy as a student, but now that I',m actually working it's crazy! And I'm juggling a few other projects as well.
      I am so excited about your chocolate project! I know how difficult it is. My first date with The Boy we were actually peeling the skins off moldy fermented cocoa beans haha! Great (I guess) memories.
      I am! In September! Will confirm soon xx

    2. Wow, how romantic! (Not being sarcastic!) My life is revolving around chocolate completely these days and I'm planning another cocoa/chocolate related trip :) the ultimate dream is to have my own chocolate company but that's a very long and slow and quite unrealistic project haha. Please do keep my posted about your events. Would be great to meet you :) xx

  5. Enjoy your time in New York, and don't stop drinking the Pimms! Love this salad dressing and it has given me some inspiration for dinner tonight :)

    1. Haha have cut back to iced teas... Really happy to hear that Tandy! Hope you enjoy the dressing!

  6. Sounds like fun! Enjoy Union Square! It's a fun experience, albeit expensive! So ... is dinner in Brooklyn where all the hipsters meet? LOL! Enjoy the food and frenzy of NYC! Happy Summer!

    1. I will! ;)

      And yes... it is in Brooklyn where the hipsters meet... East Williamsburg in fact LOL.

  7. How I wish I could come to this evening! Sounds delicious!

    1. Aw! Would have loved to have you there x

  8. Extraordinary! I don't know what I'm more excited about here: my beloved kohlrabi's presence or your twist on the usual coleslaw sauce. Or maybe the fennel's use? I have been a recent fennel convert and I'm thrilled to learn new dishes with it. You have been particularly creative here!
    I hope you will have fun in New York and that the bothersome stuff is just a tiny bit of all the exciting events in your life. It's so nice to read something from you from time to time...
    The menu looks fantastic! I wish I could come...

    1. Hi five sissi! Looks like we have pretty similar tastebuds going on ;) (That said, I knew that long ago.. my fellow creepy blogger soulmate)
      Yes well one of it is moving house and I finally found a place. just loads to wrap and pack before I move and before leaving for nyc. It will be alright :) And yes lots more exciting things happening that I will definitely share. Sorry I don't update much :(
      One day sissi, one day we must meet!

  9. sounds a great journey Shu....
    This tamarind dressing is staple too in Indonesian kitchen, usually with raw cabbage, carrot and junvenile cucumber and of course lost and lots of birds eye chillies!!!
    i guess this would be lovely with my balinese style barbequed baby back ribs!!!

    1. Ah no idea you guys do the same thing in Indonesia! Yes this dressing is great over grilled meat too- it's so versatile!

  10. OMG, that sounds like so much fun. I would totally go to your event if I lived in NYC. If you ever do something in SF though...

    And the kohlslaw sounds delicious!

    1. Thanks Joyti! I'll be in SF for christmas actually ;) Though doubt I'm doing anything there!

  11. Shu Han, your "dinner and grooves" link links to, um, an Amazon page for men's briefs. Is this intentional?? Haha, if so, I must be too old to get the reference! But I would really like more info (address, where to call for reservation?) because while I don't live in New York, I have lots of friends who do and who would love to attend this event!

    xx A Malaysian Fan

    1. I've changed the link now. No idea what happened! Crawls into ground and dies.
      Thanks for informing me and hope to meet some of your friends there :)


  12. P.S. To be specific, it links to "Power Pouch Men's Bikini Briefs." Power Pouch?!? I had no idea such things existed! And I really, really hope they have nothing to do with your mancakes or your sliders ;-) .

    1. Maybe google hacked me based on the keywords in the blog post ;)

      Mmm men's bikini briefs... I had no idea too...

  13. That's the kind of salad I dream to make but which I never dare to make at the end! i mean I always imagine using ingredients such as tamarind in westernish dishes, especially in salads but I never get to do it because I don't want to spoil our lunch. ;) Happy to see the recipe here, thanks for sharing Shu!

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