Oh no, I have been missing in action again! No, I have not forgotten about PonPeKo at all. I am still experimenting in my kitchen and trying out new cafes and restaurants. I just could not find time to write about them. Or… is it just an excuse for my lack of discipline?
I just did two gym classes and got back home hungry. I have a pack of pork mince and some baby capsicums in the fridge and sweet and sour meatballs suddenly came into my mind. It is easy to whip up and Mr. D will love it as it is a meat dish and it is deep fried too. This dish is sort of a simplified version of Ku Lo Yuk dish.
Hello fellow readers, I am back! PonPeko is still alive and eating!
My apologies for not updating my foodie adventures here. What have I been doing? Well, I have been busy visiting cafes and restaurants every weekend, trying out new places as well as exercising. I totally enjoy the privileges of staying near the city as I have many different eating places to choose from. Remember my motto, ‘Eat first, worry later’? I have been practicing the first half of the motto ever since I moved up here. Suddenly it dawned on me that I should start worrying now as I have been putting on weight and my five-year-old jeans is feeling tighter than it used to be. Hence, I signed myself up for gym membership to ensure that I can have the best of both worlds (Yes, I am greedy! :P).
As promised in my previous post, I would like to share with you my pasta making experiments. Homemade fresh pasta has different texture and taste compared to the store bought ones. These are especially apparent when you have them with lighter sauce. You would be glad to know that fresh pasta is not difficult to make. In fact, they are pretty easy and fun to make. It is like playing with play dough :D.
Gnocchi are considered to be a type of dumpling and they are extremely soft and light. I know nuts about them before I came over to Australia. Two years ago I was at an Italian restaurant at Lygon Street in Melbourne and decided to try the dish with the cute name called Gnocchi Gorgonzola. It was pleasantly tasty. The second time I tried gnocchi was at Sapore, a one hat restaurant at St. Kilda. The gnocchi was absolutely divine. They were lighter, fluffier and softer compared to the ones at the previous restaurant.
I enjoyed gnocchi so much that I decided to make it at home one day. At that time, I was too lazy to make the potato gnocchi myself so I bought the pre-made ones from the supermarket and mix it with my homemade sauce. It was clearly a bad choice as I barely touched the dish. The sauce was OK but the problem lay in the store bought pre-made gnocchi. They tasted appalling and due to the high flour content, they were super tough, gluey and tasteless.
Last weekend, I decided to re-visit my gnocchi dish and this time I did not take any shortcuts. I made everything from scratch and it was extremely fruitful and rewarding. Be careful not to add too much flour to prevent it from being too heavy and hard. The thick and dense tomato sauce combined with the melted cheese enveloped the pillowy soft gnocchi creating a silky smooth sensation in your mouth. The sauce is simply marvelous. Simple yet packed with flavor.
I absolutely adore banana bread! I was delighted when I found a banana bread recipe while I was flipping through Nigella’s recipe book (thank you Goon!). Initially, I was a bit concern that Nigella added a few teaspoons of instant espresso powder in the banana bread ingredients. I was afraid that the coffee would overwhelm the banana taste but luckily it didn’t. The espresso gives the bread a nice aroma yet not too overpowering and complements really well with the banana taste.
After letting it cool for 30 minute, I couldn’t resist and took a slice. I was so disappointed with it as I couldn’t taste any banana flavor. I was thinking to myself who is going to finish the rest as I don’t like to waste my stomach space on something that taste bad. The following day, I couldn’t find anything in the house for breakfast except for the banana bread that I baked the day before. I was hungry so I forcefully took a slice for breakfast and was glad that I did as it was surprisingly good. The banana flavor intensified over night and it was super moist. I brought some to my workplace to share with my colleagues and they loved it. So, it is important to follow Nigella’s advise, let the banana bread stand for a day after baking! Continue reading
In Malaysia, fish heads are frequently used in curries and in stock for noodle soup. I know, some of you would probably feel squeamish about eating fish heads but according to the Chinese elderly, fish heads are actually very nutritious, especially the eyeballs. They believe that eating the fish eyeball will improve one’s vision. I’m not sure how true is that but it doesn’t matter to me. It being nutritious is not the reason I like it. I enjoy fish heads mainly because they are so flavorful. This is especially true for salmon fish head due to its high fat content. Malaysians love their fish head and this is why it is super expensive back home. Fortunately for us, not many people in Australia knows how to appreciate fish head and therefore it is quite cheap here.
Fish head bee hoon is a very comforting dish and it is great in cold weather. The soup is extremely appetizing with slight sourish taste from the pickled mustard green and tomato. The stock has a really nice aroma as the fish head pieces are deep fried first before they are boiled in the water.
Profiteroles/cream puffs are the perfect finger food for any parties or any functions as they are simple to make, use simple ingredients (doesn’t require anything fancy) but taste amazingly delicious. I love making these crowd-pleaser dessert whenever I have pot luck or gathering with my friends. The addition of lemon zest into the cream mixture exudes nice zingy lemon aromas that fill your mouth. It is crucial to cook the cream filling mixture until the right consistency is achieved. You can test the mixture consistency by lifting up the whisk over the bowl and the cream should flow down in a continuous ribbon fashion. Mixture that is too runny will make the puffs soggy and if it’s too thick, it’s difficult to pipe into the puffs and. it is also important to take note of the heat when cooking your cream mixture. To obtain silky smooth cream and to avoid curdle, always cook the pastry cream over low heat and stir constantly.
I have not been updating PonPeKo ever since I started work in February. I truly wanted to keep PonPeKo alive but my tiredness and laziness got best of me. Truth be told, we still haven’t finish unpacking the boxes in our kitchen. Most of my baking utensils are still sitting in the boxes and hence I do not have any dessert materials to post lately. Moreover, since moving up here, it’s really easy to find places with excellent food and desserts which leads to more procrastination from my side. Hmm, I really need to stop procrastinating and get everything unpacked as soon as possible. Be more disciplined, Yang!
Today, I would like to share my favorite economy rice dish with you. If you’re not familiar with the term “economy rice”, it’s basically a food stall that sells a selection of dishes ranging from various meat, vegetables, fish, and curries. You can pick any dish and as many dishes as you like to have them as accompaniment to rice. Economy rice is very popular in Malaysia as it’s cheap and good. Ku Lo Yuk is one of the popular dish and it is sold in every economy rice stall. It’s not too difficult to make, just make sure that you don’t add in too much cornflour to avoid the coating of the pork becoming too floury. Try to avoid using canned pineapples in syrup as they are overly sweet. Canned pineapples in natural juices are better as they have the slight tanginess which complements the sauce in this dish.
Jiaozi is a Chinese dumpling and it is a hot favorite among Chinese households. Jiaozi can be steamed, boiled, or pan fried. The pan fried version is known as guotie (pot stickers) or gyoza in Japan. As the name implies, the dumpling stuck slightly to the wok at the end of cooking but it could be easily removed by nudging it using a spatula.
While jiaozi filling commonly consists of meat and/or vegetables, there’s no limit to what you can add in it. You can make the filling with the ingredients you like/have on hand. Both taste and textures are very important in dumpling making. For me, I love to add shitake mushrooms, carrots, and wombok leaves together with the mince pork to produce different textures (bitey and crunchy). The filling smells and taste wonderful with the addition of seasonings such as sesame oil, shaoxing wine, good quality soy sauce, grated ginger, and garlic. The wrapper and wrapping style for guotie is different from deep fried wontons. Guotie wrappers are white in color, round-shaped, and thicker compared to wonton wrappers. My first jiaozi attempt which was 3 years ago was unsuccessful and I ended up with disintegrated dumplings as I did not seal the dumpling properly. Make sure you pinch the edges of the dumpling firmly so that they won’t break apart when cooking.
Crispy skin on the bottom and tenderly soft skin on the top.
Roasting a duck is a little trickier than roasting a chicken or pork belly due to the thick layer of fat underneath the duck skin. In order to obtain crispy duck skin, it is crucial to drain all the fat. Various methods have been employed to achieve thin and crispy skin duck and these includes steaming the duck over boiling water, air dry the duck for a few hours before roasting, using an air pump to separate the skin from the fat layer or pierce the skin of the duck to render all the fat. I opted for the piercing method as it is the simplest approach. The whole duck roasting and resting process took about 4 1/2 hours but I can assure you that it’s all worthwhile. The duck meat was so GOOD, moist and tender and the skin, although I would prefer it to be a tad crispier, it’s still delicious. Next time, I’ll bake it at 400 °F for 12 min instead of only 7 min for extra crispy skin.
4 hr roast duck. Extremely succulent meat.
Before I started dating Mr. D, I had a peculiar way of eating pork belly. I would first separate the pork belly into little segments: the meat, the fat, and the skin. Then, I would throw away the fat layer and sometimes including the skin too if I couldn’t separate it from the fat properly. I am very sure that when I did that, it was not for health reasons but for some strange reason I assumed that the fat tasted horrible. When Mr. D witnessed what I did, he was dumbfounded and gave me a weird look as if I’ve committed a serious crime. Then, he said that I totally missed the whole point of eating a pork belly. It was kind of hilarious now that I think back (Hehe!). Since then, slowly I begin to discover the incredible tastiness of melt-in-my-mouth fats. It’s just sinfully delicious. Now, a plate of juicy and tender siew yuk with crispy crackling skin will put me on cloud nine. (´ ▽｀).。ｏ♡
When cooking siew yuk, it’s important to get good crackling skin as if it’s not crackled completely, the skin will be tough and chewy. The tricks of getting crispy crackling skin are to dry the skin, prick holes on the skin to render the fat, and grill the skin for a few minutes in the oven at the end to blister the skin. The marinade for the meat consists of five spice powder, nam yee, garlic, sugar and salt. I suggest that you try to source the best five spice powder possible as it does make a difference to siew yuk taste. My favorite would be the popular Pok Aun Thong’s five spice powder from Penang. It has a deep red color and I found that it’s more fragrant than the other brands that I had tried thus far. Unfortunately, they don’t export their products so whenever I go back to my hometown, I would bring a few packets over to Australia.
Nam yee is a red fermented bean curd which is a must have ingredient for siew yuk marinade. Fermented bean curd is basically preserved tofu soaked in flavored brine and is usually used as a condiment in congee, porridge, braised dishes or vegetable stir-fries. Red fermented bean curd incorporates red yeast rice with brining liquor giving it red color. Nam yee is used a lot in meat dishes as it’s very aromatic and flavorful.
Sinful yet irresistible.