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.
Address: 131 King Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
Opening hours: Lunch: Mon – Fri (from 12pm)
I think since about 4 years ago I’ve always wanted to visit Bergerac French restaurant but didn’t have the opportunity. I remember that I was reading food blogs, researching for places with tasty food. Then, I stumbled upon this restaurant. What’s so special about this restaurant you say? There were two items that caught my attention when I was browsing their online menu. My favorite Bouillabaisse and Bomb Alaska! Finally, on Easter Monday, my wish to dine in that restaurant has come true.
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.
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.
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.
Address: 135 Commercial Road, South Yarra VIC 3141 Australia.
Opening hours: Mon – Sun (6pm – 10pm)
First of all, sorry for being absent from my blog for the past four weeks. I was extremely busy with my job and house hunting. It’s not easy to find a rental place in suburbs closer to Melbourne compared to regional areas like Geelong. It was a very frustrating experience as I found that most of the photos posted didn’t represent the current state of the house accurately when I went to inspect. It’s such a waste of my time. Anyways, fortunately now everything had been resolved and I can finally continue sharing my foodie stories with you.
Today, I would like to introduce you to a Japanese fusion restaurant called Gaijin. My friends Mei & Sheng brought me here for dinner and I had a ball at the restaurant. Our dinner started with seaweed salad and adegashi tofu. The seaweed salad is just my type of food, sourish and sweetish which is the perfect appetizer dish. This dish may look simple but contains great flavors and texture which made it my favorite dish of the night. Adegashi tofu was good as well with its crunchy skin and fragrant broth. The ahi tuna tartare (raw tuna cubes marinated in special sauce served with mango salsas and mango on nori tempura chips) was quite an interesting concept but somehow the taste was just average for me.
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.
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.
Who doesn’t love crunchy deep fried wontons? They are great as party food, snacks or as accompaniment to rice. In Malaysia deep fried wontons are also served with egg noodles, char siu (barbequed pork) and choy sum (asian green) dressed with dark and light soy sauce (a.k.a dry wonton noodle). With ready-made wonton wrappers easily available in the supermarket, making wonton is a breeze. Wonton filling mainly consists of mince pork, prawn, water chestnuts, spring onions, and seasonings. Cornflour and egg white are used to bind the ingredients together. To obtain a good wonton filling texture, do not add in too much mince meat and do not compact the meat like you do in making meatballs. You do not want a filling that’s too dense in this case. I like to put in a lot of roughly chopped water chestnuts and prawns to give the filling a crunchier texture. There are various wonton wrapping methods or techniques available on the internet depending on the wonton shapes. The wonton shape that I usually make resembles a hobo’s bindle which is simple, quick to make, and suitable for beginners.
Ingredients for wonton filling.
Mix well using a fork.
One time, Mr. D’s mom cooked this for dinner and I instantly liked it. It is something different from your usual pasta dish and taste awesome. Furthermore, it is super simple to cook and extremely versatile. You can use/add whatever ingredients you fancy (prawn, squid, chicken or beef) to the pasta. The combination of worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, and chilli sauce creates a tangy sweet and sour taste with a subtle hint of spiciness that will appeal to those who loves sweet and sourish food. It is important to ensure that the pasta is not overcook in step 1, or else it’ll end up unpalatable as the pasta will cook further in the wok and it’ll be sticky and gluggy. Hence, it is advisable to cook the pasta 1-2 min less than the stated time on the packet.
I used smoked bacon but you can use whatever ingredients (meat/cured meat/seafood) you have in your fridge.