Ah-Mah’s (Grandma’s) Spicy Achar Achar Pickles

My mum discovered this recipe on an old notebook while cleaning out some old belongings of my grandmother (aka Ah-Mah). Among the other recipes featured in the notebook was “dishwasher steamed fish” — perhaps not so energy efficient, but certainly intriguing.

Since we’ve had beautiful carrots for awhile and cabbages and cucumbers are starting to come on in abundance, it seemed like the perfect time to test out the recipe. The salty, sour, spicy pickles are just the thing to cool you down on the swelteringly hot days we’ve been having lately on the island.

My mum is coming to visit this weekend, and I’ll ask for her stamp of approval. Until then, there’s the fact that I ate more than a quarter of the pickles, picking out a cauliflower here and a sesame-strewn carrot there, while packing the jars and taking the photos.

Ah-Mah’s Spicy Achar Achar Pickles
with some small notes and modifications from the original

2 lbs. cucumber
½ lb. cauliflower
½ lb. cabbage
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into strips
¼ lb. (approx one cup) roasted peanuts, pounded
2 tbsp. roasted sesame seeds
½ cup oil

1 thumb sized piece ginger, grated

Ingredients A:
3 oz. (approx one large) shallot

1 oz. fresh turmeric or heaping 1/2 tbsp dried turmeric
7 dried arbol chillies (soak in water and drained) + 1 large dried New Mexican chili OR 1 ½ tbsp. chilli paste + 5 fresh red chillies.

Ingredients B, mix together: 3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. salt

Ingredients C, mixed together: 2 cups rice OR white vinegar
2 cups water
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. salt

Wash the cucumbers and cut off the ends. Julienne the cucumber into strips 2” long and 1/4” wide and 1/8” thick, removing and discarding seeds and soft insides as you go.

Place the cucumber strips in a bowl, sprinkle with salt, mix well and leave aside for 4-5 hours. Rinse, drain and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Set aside.

In the meantime, you can prepare the pickling juice. Process Ingredients A into a paste, either with a mortar and pestle and brute force, or with a food processor. Set your paste aside.

Heat oil in a wok and fry the ginger till light brown. Add paste A and stir-fry till the mixture turns deep red, becomes fragrant and the oil comes up to the surface.

Add B and bring to a boil. Boil for a minute and remove to a bowl to cool completely.

Boil C in a pot and blanch the cucumbers, cauliflower, carrots and cabbage separately. Spread out to cool on large trays. Heat a wok and stir-fry the vegetables for 1/2 minute with a little bit of the oil from the vinegar mixture, skimmed from the top. Spread on trays to cool. When vegetables are cool, place in a mixing bowl with the pounded nuts, sesame seeds and chilli-vinegar mixture. Mix well, store in bottles and refrigerate.

Prepping the ingredients

Frying the chili paste

The final chili oil and vinegar mixture

Cukes drying on a paper towel

Quick stir fry in the chili-oil mixture after the veggies have all been blanched

Spread for drying

Drying in the sun

Pounding out the peanuts with my makeshift mortar and pestle

Delicious pickles, packed and ready to eat… mmmmm

July 27, 2009   2 Comments

Zucchini bread bake off

Special zucchini bread with ginger sesame topping, adapted from 101 Cookbooks won second place in the tasting competition. The “special ingredient” has the tasting panel scratching their heads, and then exclaiming in wonder.

Hooray for summer! Every day on the farm brings new, exciting, and delicious bounties. Lately, the summer squash has gone for broke, and we’re swimming in bright green zucchinis, stripy zucchinis, pattypans, and this curious fellow:

This year, one of our seed suppliers, Johnny’s, sent out the wrong seeds to everyone who ordered Costata Romanesca squash. In fact, the lovely round squash isn’t a Costata at all, but something else: still delicious and prolific, but rounder and slightly wetter than what we bargained for.

Turns out the mystery squash is perfect for zucchini bread. The seeds inside (even a larger one) aren’t too big, so I just chopped off the stem, cut the squash in wedges, and used a food processor to shred it all.

I tested three recipes, a traditional sweetish walnut-cinnamon-nutmeg loaf, a slightly zany nutty loaf with a secret ingredient, adapted from 101 cookbooks and a savory zucchini-basil muffin recipe, adapted from a message board post on a Chowhound message board.

The tasting panel generally agreed that the zucchini basil muffins won out, with the zany recipe not far behind. The more traditional recipe turned out too dry and slightly over-sweet. It could have done with some soaked raisins and extra zucchini.

Since I was making three recipes, I cut all the batches in half, and the resulting recipes are what came of those adjustments, plus my own small customizations. I added extra basil to the muffins, because it’s tough to overdo it with fresh basil; I changed the ingredients slightly on the “Special Zucchini Bread” to include sesame seeds and ground ginger, and reserved half of the mix’ns to sprinkle on the top for crunch. When I halved a recipe that called for 3 eggs, I used a peewee egg, plus a regular egg, but a yolk would do just fine.

And the winner is…

FIRST PLACE: Zucchini Basil Muffins
Adapted from the LA Times by way of Chowhound.

1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1 c. all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup shredded mystery zucchini (or any other type should work fine)
3 tbsp sweet basil, finely minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese to top

Beat egg in bowl, stir in milk and oil, then mix in sugar.

Sprinkle baking powder and salt evenly on top.

Mix in flour until just moistened, then gently mix in zucchini and basil.

Fill a well-buttered muffin tin so that the cups are nearly full (slightly more than 3/4). Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 450 degrees, 20-25 minutes.

Makes 6-9 muffins. You can easily double for a bigger batch.

RUNNER UP with special mention: Special Zucchini Bread with sesame crunch
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 cup chopped walnuts
zest of one lemon
2 tbsp crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tbsp sesame seeds

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fine grain natural cane sugar or brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg + one yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup grated zucchini
1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tbsp curry powder

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter one 5×9 loaf pan, dust it with a bit of flour and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the walnuts, sesame seeds, lemon zest, and gingers. Set aside.

In a mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat again until mixture comes together and is no longer. Add the eggs, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Stir in the vanilla and then the zucchini (low speed if you are using a mixer).

Sprinkle the baking soda on top of the mixture. Then sprinkle on the salt and curry powder as evenly as possible. Add the flour in 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until just incorporated each time. After the last batch of flour, fold in half of the walnut, sesame, ginger mixture.

Put the batter in the greased pan, making sure it is level with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Then sprinkle on the other half of the walnut, ginger, lemon mixture.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes on a middle oven rack. Check the bread after 35 minutes and cover if it begins to brown too quickly. The loaf will be done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Take the loaf out from the oven and let cool for about ten minutes, then remove from the pan onto wire racks to finish cooling.

Makes one loaf. To double, use 3 eggs instead of 1 egg + one yolk.

– This post first appeared on the Synergy Farm Recipes blog

July 25, 2009   4 Comments

Back on the Farm for some tasty Patatas Bravas

Jaime and I got back from an awesome awesome fourth of July weekend down in the OC. There was football on the beach and family pool time and cherry brown butter bars and fresh peaches and fireworks with the cousins and lots of huge beef ribs. All in all, an awesome time.

Upon returning to our fridge after a full day of work, I found the tofu had gone “off.” It was pink and green and blue and smelled a lot like the fermented bean curd that my Cambodian friends used to make various dipping sauces… but not enough like that smell to convince me that it was edible. So that went in the garbage. But thankfully, the bravas sauce I prepared on Thursday night before our trip didn’t succumb to a similar fate, so I was able to throw some patatas in the oven to brown while Jaime whipped up some Asian-style pink salmon cabbage cakes. Not the same as the popiah and Hainanese chicken rice feast we had this weekend, but really not too bad.

Patatas Bravas, or “brave potatoes,” are a traditional Spanish tapa — golden fried garlicky potatoes either topped with, or dipped into, a spicy, garlicky aoili. Tapas are Spain’s snacks or appetizers, often taken with a drink in the afternoon, or late in the evening.

This version, which I made with new potatoes, is roasted in olive oil instead of fried, but the Bravas sauce is the same tangy, hot delicious mix you can find in many bars and restaurants in Madrid.

Roasted Patatas Bravas
Reposted from the Synergy Farm Recipe Blog

1 lb potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced finely
paprika and salt, to coat

Bravas Sauce:
1/2 medium onion
4 Synergy garlic cloves (6 if you use regular garlic, which is smaller)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup mustard aioli
1 tsp paprika (pimentón dulce)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Chop potatoes into 1/2” cubes. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, garlic, paprika and salt until evenly coated, then transfer to a baking sheet. Cook for about 1 hour or until brown and crispy, but not burnt. Take the pan out of the oven and stir every 20 minutes or so to prevent sticking and make sure potatoes brown evenly.

In the meantime, prepare the bravas sauce. In a blender, mix together all the sauce ingredients until well-incorporated.

Serve potatoes hot, with sauce on the side for dipping or with 2-3 tbsp mixed in.

July 9, 2009   6 Comments

Ginger Braised Pork with Chinese Cabbage

This recipe was inspired by the gorgeous Chinese cabbage I picked up from Joel and Margaret of Thousand Flower Farm last Saturday at the Farmers’ Market. Joel wasn’t sure how versatile this veggie could be, so I promised to make something and come back with a report on the results.

This gorgeous, slightly peppery, big-leafed cabbage is often used in soups and added to light broths in Chinese cooking, but it is also wonderful in stir fries, braised, like in this recipe, and chopped up raw for salad. The dark green leaves are soft and have a slight horseradish flavor, while the white stems are crunchy, tender, and super-sweet.

This recipe originally called for bacon, and that’s how I made it the first time around, but all the tasters agreed that the marinated pork was more flavorful, had better texture, and was probably a little healthier to boot. You could also use thinly-sliced pork loin for an even lighter version of the dish.

Ginger Braised Pork with Chinese Cabbage

Adapted from The Bacon Cookbook by James Villas

1 pound pork butt partially frozen and sliced as thinly as possible
1 tbsp fresh ginger
1 lb Thousand Flower Farm Chinese cabbage leaves
4 medium sized carrots, peeled
1 1/2 cups chicken broth and 1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp white pepper

1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Marinate your sliced pork for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight in the refrigerator. The longer you marinate, the more tender and flavorful the dish will be.

Separate and wash your cabbage leaves. If you have an extra large cabbage (like Joel and Margaret’s!) use the larger leaves on the outside. Chop large leaves in half horizontally to fit the pot you’ll be using, separating the dark green tops from the white bottoms.

Chop your carrots into 2” portions, then slice the 2” portions thinly.

To make sure your layers end up even, divide the cabbage leaves and carrot strips into 4 parts and divide the pork, bacon, and chopped ginger into 3 parts. Try to use the white stems on the lower levels, rather than in the top layers as they will cook better closer to the source of heat and to the liquid. Arrange cabbage leaves and carrots on the bottom of a large (3 qt) pot; cover with a portion of the meats and chopped ginger. Continue layering. On the last layer, put the carrot strips under the cabbage instead of on top; and if possible, save the prettiest, biggest leaves for the top — this just makes for a prettier presentation.

Add your chicken broth and soy sauce, bring to a low boil, reduce the heat to medium so that the chicken broth is only simmering. Cover the pot and cook until the top layer of cabbage is cooked, about 30 minutes.

At this point, remove the pan from heat and carefully lift the mass from the pot using two spatulas (you may want to employ some help, though it is possible with just one person!), leaving the juices behind. Return the pot with juice to low heat. Add the cornstarch mixture and pepper and stir gently for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Pour the sauce over the mound of cabbage. Cut the layers into slices (like lasagna) and serve with generous amounts of sauce over hot jasmine rice.

Separating the ingredients into portions helps to make sure the layers are even

Layering in the pot — notice the top half of the cabbage leaf fills the entire pot!

Braised cabbage, ready for eating!

July 3, 2009   No Comments

Synergy Farmraiser Luncheon: Borscht, Basil, and Good Company

What fun to cook for a crowd. There’s gathering inspiration, making a plan, working out the details, prepping a few days in advance, tasting, tweaking, more prep the day-of, throwing things together, and voila! If you’ve put in the time, it’s then time to reap the satisfaction of watching the slurps and murmurs of happiness from your table.

Last Sunday, Synergy hosted a farm tour and luncheon to raise money for a local school. Lucy and I conjured the menu (mostly Lucy, really), Susan took care of the logistics and the table and the tour, and Peter was in charge of giving the farm background and history and an overview of our techniques and vision.

The food prep started on Wednesday afternoon when Lucy and I made the borscht, the homemade mayo, and basil dressing.


Creamy Basil Dressing

Then, on Saturday, we made cupcakes and frosting and carrot curls for topping.

And finally, on Sunday, came the last burst of activity: picking fresh snap peas and peeling the chicken and frosting the cakes. Then prepping our mini serving stations, and finally, plating and serving the guests.

Soup prep station

Susan and Lucy in the kitchen

The menu and place settings

A history lesson

It was an intimate group: only 7. A family of three, and 4 other local women, all with gardens of their own. Everyone was engaged and asking questions and it felt good to share our stories and our farm experiences with people who were so interested and so well-informed.

Explaining our crop rotation strategy

Checking out the washing station

One day, maybe 5 or 10 years into my farm operation, I’d like to have a cafe. Or at least regular farm banquets like this to share the bounty. Or maybe a side operation in prepared foods for parties. Mmm… I know half the things I dream are unrealistic, but as they say “reach for the moon and if you miss, at least you’ll land in the stars.” Maybe not so true astronomically? But still a nice thought. I’ve found so far in my life, there’s something about saying things out loud to people that seems to make them come true.

Evidence of a great afternoon



Three Pestos with Snap Peas and Toast
Sorrel, arugula and garlic scape pestos served with freshly harvested, ready-to-burst snap peas and Cafe Demeter baguette toasts.

First Course
Red Ace and Cabbage Borscht
A ruby red vegetable soup adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook, starring beautiful Red Ace beets; slightly tangy and wholly delicious, lightly spiced with caraway and dill, served with Cafe Demeter walnut bread.

Main Course
Pastured Chicken on Fresh Greens with Creamy Basil Dressing
Flavorful and moist pasture-raised chicken tops a bed of crisp flavorful greens tossed in farm-made dressing featuring fresh basil and homemade mayonnaise from Synergy eggs.

Napoli Carrot Spice Cakes
Tender, wholesome cupcakes from super sweet Napoli carrots, topped with freshly made cream cheese frosting and a flavorful carrot curl.

served with:
Freshly squeezed lemonade or home-brewed ice tea

For more recipes from that afternoon, check out the Synergy Recipe Blog.

Late June Russian Borscht

adapted by Lucy from The Moosewood Cookbook

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced potato
1 cup thinly sliced beets
4 cups chicken stock or water
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 scant teaspoon caraway seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
1 medium sized carrot, sliced
3 to 4 cups shredded cabbage
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Bill’s honey
1 cup crushed tomatoes
fresh dill and sour cream for garnish

Place potatoes, beets, and stock in a medium-sized pot. Cover and cook over medium heat till tender (20 to 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pot or dutch oven. Add onion, caraway seeds, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent (8 to 10 minutes).

Add carrots, cabbage, and 2 cups of the cooking liquid from the potatoes and beets. Cover and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are tender (another 8 to 10 minutes).

Add remaining ingredients, including all the potato and beet liquid, cover, and simmer for at least 15 minutes. Taste to correct seasonings, and serve hot, topped with sour cream and a pinch of fresh dill.

June 28, 2009   4 Comments

Thai Food Feast

Last weekend was the Singapore feast, and this past Saturday we hosted another big dinner in honor of Jaime’s arrival — this time, representation from the (arguably) best known of the Southeast Asian cuisines: Thai.

The cooking only took a day this time (not counting some minor prep the day prior) but I had a lot of help from Jaime who can fry Pad See Ew like nobody’s business, among his other many talents.

We ended up with a crowd of a little over 20, and we estimate we fed everyone for a little under $3 a head — not bad, given the variety and the fact that we made two meat dishes, and fresh rolls with shrimp. Yum.

Prep work took most of Saturday morning and early afternoon

Mise en place — almost all the ingredients, ready for cooking

The chef snacking on a mango pit

The feast!

Jean serving up some noodly goodness

Patio arrangement courtesy of Lucy and Colin. Flower arrangements by Jaime.

The end of a great night.



Pineapple Fried Rice (This was a big hit with a bit of curry powder, spinach, and generous pineapple chunks)

Green Papaya Salad (The papaya was verging on not-green, but it still turned out dee-licious)

Tom Kha Gai, Galangal & lime chicken soup
(This soup was a major triumph, just the right amount of coconut, and the dried galangal and leftover kaffir lime leaves from last week infused the soup with a fantastic flavor)

Ground Pork Lettuce Wraps (Simple stir-fried crowd-pleaser)

Pad See Ew (Very similar in style to the Char Kway Teow from last week, but Jaime’s mad frying skillz made it so that the noodles stayed beautifully intact during the frying process)

Basil Tofu (Simple, quick and tasty vegetarian dish)

Fresh Rolls with Shrimp (Made with fresh local spotted prawns bought at the farmer’s market that very morning!)

Black sticky rice with mango and toasted coconut

Synergy Farm Thai-style Lettuce Wraps

1 red bell pepper, diced finely
1 1/2 cups carrots, diced into 1/4” cubes
6-8 brown crimini mushrooms, diced into 1/4” cubes
1 cup snow peas, cut horizontally into 1/4” strips
3 garlic scapes diced into circles 1/4” thick
1 small onion minced
1 large shallot minced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 lb ground pork

2 tbsp oil for frying
2 tbsp fish sauce
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or mint or basil

2 lettuce heads (preferably a butter lettuce variety or trouthead for perfect lettuce-wrapping cups)

optional: 1 tbsp oyster sauce
, two green thai chilis, minced finely, other vegetables such as bean sprouts, cabbage, sugar snap peas, green beans, etc.

Heat 2 tbsp oil on high heat in your pan or wok. Add in shallot and onion and fry for 10 seconds until fragrant, then add in garlic and fry another 20 seconds. Add ground pork, breaking it up with your spatula or wooden spoon. Fry for 2 minutes, or until browning, but not yet cooked.

Add in carrots and snow peas and scapes and fry another 2 minutes, stirring well. Add in mushrooms and bell pepper and fry another 2 minutes. The meat should be cooked, and everything should be well mixed.

Add in sauce and chilis, if using. Stir well to coat all ingredients. Add in chopped herbs (cilantro, mint or basil) and stir until wilted.

Serve at room temperature with washed lettuce leaves.

June 10, 2009   13 Comments

Portrait of my fridge

I love this photo essay on people’s refrigerators. It inspired me to do a little photo of my own refrigerator the other day… if only I could compare to what my fridge looked like when I worked at the Googs.

To describe the difference succinctly: less meat, less fruit, more veggies, more food I grew, no doggie bags.

Next, I want to my own version of this awesome set of pictures — one week’s worth of farm food…

June 5, 2009   4 Comments

It’s cold tonight so I made some Teh Halia

Today was ridiculously warm and gorgeous, but clear days seem to portend chilly chilly nights in these parts so it’s not surprising that I’m shivering in my kitchen, waiting for my bread to rise.

I’ve been craving Asian food something fierce, so tonight, after making a ridiculously delicious pot of Soto Ayam (Malaysian chicken soup) from one of our old, tough stewing hens (more on this later!), I had some old tough ginger skins leftover and decided to make myself a nice frothy cup of Teh Halia.

Teh Halia is ginger tea, “Halia” being the word for ginger in Malay, and Teh being a cognate or stolen word… I guess I actually made Teh Susu Halia since I added milk for some sweetness.

One of the coolest parts about Teh Halia, like it’s cousin Teh Tarik, is that it’s traditionally “pulled” from one pitcher or glass to another until it cools off enough to drink and gets all frothy up top (Teh Tarik literally means “pulled tea”). It’s an art of sorts. Here’s a pretty good example posted by the awesome blogger from Rasa Malaysia:

and with that as inspiration, here’s the recipe:

Teh Susu Halia (Ginger tea with condensed milk)
serves 1

2 cups water
2 inches ginger, chopped roughly or smashed

1 plain black tea bag

2 tbsp condensed milk

sugar to taste
2 big cups

Put your ginger and water into a small pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes to let ginger infuse.

Turn off heat and add tea bag, steep for 3-5 minutes or according to instructions.

Add 2 tbsp condensed milk and sugar to taste, stir.

Pour the drink into one of the two cups. “Pull” the tea back and forth (basically pour from one cup to the other, the higher you can go, the better, until it’s nice and frothy on top and a good drinking temperature.

My amateur attempt

So delicious and so relaxing. I can’t wait to shape my boules for overnight proofing, and get into my bed.

May 22, 2009   1 Comment

Afterschool special: Fried Rice, 100 ways

One of the very first things I learned to make for myself was fried rice. Growing up, there was almost always a container of leftover white rice in the fridge, just screaming with potential.

To that dried out rice, add some garlic and onion, eggs, random leftovers and a dash of soy sauce, and you had yourself a delicious (and sometimes nutritious) afterschool snack.

The amazing thing about fried rice is that you can put almost anything in it and it will be delicious. There are just a few rules:

  • Use old, cold rice – Rice that’s been sitting in the refrigerator for a day or more will be drier, and will separate into grains when cooked instead of clumping together. This is the texture you want in your fried rice, not mush. Save wet rice for delicious porridge!
  • Don’t let it get too wet – Same idea as above, but this time pertaining to your ingredients… if you add in too many wet ingredients (like old curry or extra sauce) you’ll get soggy rice
  • Use a big pan or wok and make sure it’s HOT — You want to be able to stir without getting rice everywhere. You’ll be adding ingredients as you go, so don’t start out with a small pan and then try to cram in that last cup of rice on the very top (yes, i’ve done it). Help yourself out. Also, make sure your pan’s smoking hot, this will help keep your ingredients from getting mushy too.

I had some leftover white rice staring me down in my fridge today along with some old frittata, carrots, and bunches of greens. So I decided to go for a twist on an old standby. The cheesy frittata with rosemary and thyme wasn’t a traditional ingredient, but the flavors went together perfectly and I scarfed the whole plate in under 10 flat.

Now it’s your turn. Here’s a basic template to paint with your personal palette of leftovers (I’m so so sorry for the terrible metaphor)

Very Basic Fried Rice with Variations
serves 1-2

3 cups white rice, cooked and cold, even better if it’s at least a day old
2 eggs, beaten
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, minced (or more, to taste)
2 tbsp light soy sauce (or more, to taste)
2 tbsp oil
black pepper, to taste

for my frittata rice, I also added:
1 cup shredded carrot
2 cups spinach
3 pieces of leftover frittata
1 tbsp rice vinegar
chives, as garnish

and for more exciting and delicious combinations, try:

  1. Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Style): omit garlic, substitute dark soy sauce for light, add 1 cup diced chicken, 1/4 cup diced pineapple, 1/2 cup raisins, 2 tbsp tomato paste, and one tsp curry powder
  2. Hawaiian Style: add 1/2 can spam cubed, 1/2 cup carrots cubed, 1/2 cup green peas
  3. Nuoc Cham rice: substitute 3 shallots for onions, reduce soy sauce by 1/2 tbsp, add extra clove garlic, 1 cup deveined shrimp, 1 cup long beans chopped, 2 tbsp Vietnamese sweet chili sauce (Nuoc Cham), and 1/4 cup mint leaves
  4. Yangchow (Traditional style): substitute white part of spring onions for onions, add 1 cup Chinese Sausage (Lap Cheung) or BBQ Pork (Char Siew), 1 cup Chinese broccoli (Gai Lan) stems chopped or peas, 1 tbsp minced ginger, sprinke of white pepper, green part of spring onions chopped for garnish
  5. Thai Basil rice: substitute fish sauce for soy sauce, add fried tofu, 1 Thai bird chili minced, 1 red capsicum minced, 2 tbsp crushed peanuts and 1/4 cup thai basil
  6. Cheeky Leeks: reduce frying oil, add 1 cup bacon diced and 1/2 lb washed and chopped leeks
  7. Spicy rice: add 1 cup beef strips, 1/4 lb, 1 green capsicum minced, 1 1/2 tbsp sriracha chili or chili paste (Sambal Oelek)
  8. Tex-mex: omit soy sauce and scrambled eggs, add 1 cup corn, 1 cup black beans, 2 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tsp crushed cumin seeds, 1 tsp chicken bouillon OR 2 tbsp chicken stock, serve topped with two eggs over-easy
  9. Moroccan: omit soy sauce and eggs, add 1 tbsp butter, 1 cup cubed carrots, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp cayenne or paprika, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/4 cup sliced almonds, sprinkle white pepper and salt to taste
  10. Kimchi rice: add 1/2 cup kimchi, 1/2 cup minced pork, serve topped with two fried eggs over-easy

So it’s not quite 100, but you see how you could make up your own. Go forth, eat rice!

May 21, 2009   3 Comments

Sriracha revisited

One of the things I miss the most on this island is good, really good, Asian food. Though I’ve mastered a few of my favorite dishes, there are things I crave that I know I can’t make as well as my aunties, and when it gets down to it, the real barrier is lack of ingredients. Oh, what I would’ve give for a 99 Ranch?!

Example: I tried this jar of chili sauce from the market.

blech blech blech!

There’s a lovely little shop called Gourmet Galley that sells some great stuff, including dried galangal and some of your staple sauces: ketchup manis, black bean paste, even tamarind paste… but it’s marked up quite a lot and I still have no where to go for all the fresh goods: decent bean sprouts, decent lemongrass, thai basil, Asian greens… and noodles… all I’ve found are some overpriced, tiny packages of bee-hoon tucked way away on a bottom shelf. They’ve probably been there half-a-century.

Not to mention, the island meat is expensive and the conventional store alternatives are unpalatable to say the least.

I guess this is an argument for living somewhere semi-urban, or becoming much more adept at the online-food-shopping thing. I suppose I could also go chat with the proprietors of the China Pearl or Golden Triangle, the two Asian-y eating establishments in town. Maybe we could work out a procurement deal?

But for now, I’ve decided to take comfort in my bottle of Sriracha and wait patiently for my first visit to the mainland.

PS. I was so so happy to see the excited responses to my last Sriracha post and to the photo I posted on Facebook. I was also super-psyched to see the NY Times article on Sriracha last night. David Tran’s story is pretty amazing.

May 20, 2009   4 Comments