Cold Soba Noodle Recipe

P1010334I first tasted this simple and delicate dish in Kyoto in 1994. I had visited this quaint little restaurant situated along a cobbled stone lane nearby Kyomizu Temple with my Japanese host family.

The buckwheat noodles was served chilled on a small bamboo weaved basket with some ice cubes on the side. The condiments were finely grated daikon, finely chopped spring onion, some toasted sesame seeds and shredded nori seaweed. The dipping sauce was served chilled in a separate little bowl.

Here’s my take on the Japanese cold soba noodles using ingredients easily obtainable from supermarkets and Asian grocers in Australia. You can substitute and use other ingredients you like in your soba dish, like tempura.

 

Difficulty level: Easy                 Preparation time: 30 mins

Ingredients (2 servings):

1 serving of Soba noodles

 

Sauce:

1 part tsuyu

2 part water

 

Toppings:

1/4 square sheet of nori seaweed

1 TBSP toasted sesame seeds (optional)

1 small fish cake* (optional)

4 small Chinese fried tofu** (optional)

1 egg

1/2 small can of corn kernels (125 gram)

1/2 bunch of spinach

8 fresh raw prawns, deveined and shelled

1/4 small sweet potato, finely julienne

1/4 zucchini, finely julienne

4 white button mushrooms, sliced

Spring onion, finely chopped

 

Steps:

1) Boil your sauce together until fragrant. Set aside in a glass bowl; store and refrigerate to chill.(Add more water or less tsuyu if you want a less salty dipping sauce but you will find that the bland toppings really needs a tastier sauce so don’t make it too thin either.) The quantity of the dipping sauce to make depends on your personal preference.)

2) Boil your soba in boiling water until al dente. It should take maybe 5-6 minutes. Drain cooked soba and soak in cold tap water to stop the cooking process. Drain and wash soba well in running cold water to remove any excess starch. This will prevent the noodles from sticking to each other when you are ready to serve and when eating it. Store covered in the fridge to chill until required.

3) Boil or steam your prawns, julienne sweet potato, mushroom and zucchini. Put aside in their batches on a serving platter. Steam your spinach separately. Squeeze dry with a Japanese sushi bamboo mat.

4) Whisk one egg. (I use the whole egg so as not to waste the eff-white if there’s not other recipe requiring only egg whites. As traditional Japanese cooking only uses the yolk). Pan fry egg in a pan. Cool down and cut into fine long shreds.

5) Take a piece of nori seaweed and toast it over a medium open flame. Remember to toast on the smooth side-not the rough side as loose seaweed may drop onto the open flame and burn.

6) Assemble your noodles in a bowl and add the toppings so you can see each ingredient separately. Finally, topped with a sprinkle of roasted sesame seeds and shredded nori seaweed.

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Tuck Shop

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My husband and I ate brunch at Tuck Shop today. It’s a nice pie-house and cafe located in the Northbridge area in Perth.

The crowd here’s young, hip, savvy and cosmopolitan-mostly in their early twenties and thirties with the financier/accountant look about them. It’s very unassuming when you look at this place from the outside. Very casual but cosy. This place does get busy on weekends so it’s good to call in and book yourself a table. We didn’t book but we didn’t have to wait too long either as the waitresses do a good job at ‘turning the tables’.

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We ordered chorizo, crispy pork belly with peppers, paprika potatoes and fried egg and a super healthy granola served with homemade strawberry jam served with yogurt and milk on the side.

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Washed down with a cappucino and freshly squeezed orange juice.

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The pork belly was indeed crispy-so that added a very nice touch to the dish. The meat was just too dry to my liking. Overall, the mixture of paprika potatoes, grilled peppers and pork belly with a fried egg was very good. I would recommend anyone to try this dish. I liked the granola which my husband ate. He said he was a little disappointed as it was unimaginative and the homemade strawberry jam a tad too sweet.

The cappucino was disappointing. The crema was burnt and we were left with a sour aftertaste (I hope they were were just having a bad run with the machine). The list of freshly squeezed juices was unimaginative with the usual offerings of orange, apple/lemon and ginger etc.

The wait staff here were very friendly, helpful and attentive. They were quick to clear the tables and take our food orders. Food arrived quite soon given the crowd here, it was impressive. There’s an open kitchen so I could see the chefs working fast and seemingly enjoying what they do-which was a good sign and gave a positive vibe.

Definitely come here for the food.

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Where: 178 Newcastle Street, Perth, WA 6000

Pricing: Chorizo with crispy pork belly ($19.50); granola ($9.50), cappucino ($4.50), freshly squeezed juice ($6.00)

 

 

 

Passion by Gerard Dubois

Passion is a beautiful French themed cafe opened by Swiss-born Gerard Dubois in  Hong Kong. My husband and I went there twice. First visit was for lunch and we returned for an afternoon tea. You’ll find them at Wan Chai, Tsim Sha Tsui and Central.

Passion(source: Passion by Gerard Dubois)

I really liked the simple, classic elegant decor of black on white. The clean black lines of the kitchen fittings and fixtures set against rustic white bricks worked beautifully to create an inviting and relaxing ambience. Some slow melodic Parisian music floats through the air in the background helps sets the mood to forget about the busyness of a Hong Kong work life.

Passion W3 (source: Passion by Gerard Dubois)

Passion W2 (source: Passion by Gerard Dubois)

This cafe is well-known for its boulangeries, patisseries and confiseries. Many locals and expats come here for lunch and afternoon tea. They serve a variety of freshly made sandwiches in baguettes, flat bread, sour dough and other french breads; quiches; salads, confectioneries (macarons, cupcakes, loaf cakes for your family’s afternoon tea); croissants and danish; french pastries and artisan breads.

Inside Passion (source: Passion by Gerard Dubois)

Breads by Passion (source: Passion by Gerard Dubois)

In terms of pricing, it’s similar to what you would pay in Perth for a baguette, coffee, tea cakes etc. The size of the tea cakes, confectioneries, pastries and danishes are smaller than what you normally see in Perth, but I think, anywhere you go, you will agree that these are more towards the international serving size.

We ordered these for our desserts and we were certainly very satisfied.

P1010607 P1010616

(La Boule Cerise (morello cherry & white chocolate moouse)

P1010606 (L’Orange et la Cafe)

P1010421 (Blueberry danish pastry and banana caramel delight)

 

 

 

Dou Huey Recipe

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This is a sweet soy bean curd dessert (dou huey in Hokkien or dou fu far in Cantonese) that is very popular in Singapore and Malaysia. We usually eat it in the morning as part of an Asian breakfast from when we don’t feel like eating toast with jam or butter. You’ll find it in lots of hawker centres in Singapore and Malaysia and very cheap too.

When I am back in Singapore, I would usually go to a hawker centre and order a bowl of dou huey for breakfast. However, I am finding the soy bean curd nowadays is too soft and too light on flavour. I think they thin down the soy milk to achieve that melt in your mouth feel. I, personally prefer mine a full bodied and flavorsome.

Back in Australia, if you want a bowl of this, you would have to go to a Hong Kong dim sum restaurant and pay 5 times the amount. So, I set out to make my own dou huey at home.

This recipe is so easy to make that you’ll want to make it for when you have friends over for dinner. And it takes so little time, just over an hour.

My Dad has made this for church refreshments and shared this recipe with his friends, and the recipe is now doing the rounds of being shared among new Asian migrants in Perth.

I credit this recipe to my colleague Cindy who first shared it with me in 2010. I’ve twigged the recipe (as we all do to get that flavor we like) a bit so it does not end up being too watery.

Equipment Needed:

1 rice cooker

Ingredients (serves 6):

1 litre of no added sugar soy bean milk

1 teaspoon of starch

1/2 teaspoon of Lactone

For the syrup:

4-5 stalk of pandan leaves

Sugar (according to your taste preference)

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Instructions:

1) Pour the no added sugar soy bean milk into a pot and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat on the stove. Remember to stir your milk occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom as some soy sediments do settle.

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2) As your soy milk is coming to a boil, prepare your lactone/stach solution. Add and dissolve the lactone and starch to 75ml of warm water. Pour the solution into your rice cooker.

3) Immediately pour the boiled soy bean milk from about 30cm high into your rice cooker. Make sure the lactone/starch solution has not settled (if it has, stir it up again to distribute the lactone/starch evenly before you pour your soy milk). The pouring of the soy milk from such height is to encourage the natural mixing of the milk with the lactone/starch solution. Do not stir after you have finished pouring the soy milk otherwise, you will get a lumpy mixture more suitable to making Japanese silken tofu.

4) Plug your rice cooker to an electric power point and leave it on a warm setting, undisturbed for 1 hour to set.

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5) Boil your sugar syrup when it is time to serve your bean curd dessert. Put the pandan (screwpine) leaves into a pot and boil. Add an appropriate amount of sugar to sweeten your syrup. (Remove your pandan leaves-it’ll make it easier to stir the sugar in).

6) Serve hot or chilled.

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International Eating House-St James, Perth

This very unassuming and old store located inside the International Eating House along Albany Highway served up one of Perth’s best roast pork. My husband and I were here on Sunday night to celebrate a friend’s birthday with his family and friends.

Chinese BarBQ Food
Chinese BarBQ Food

Tada! Yes, it’s in a food court. The inside was very 1970s and the music they played via the loud speaker was also from the golden oldies era. There are other food stores opened-Hong Kong food store, Indian etc..but this was the place to eat.

Our host ordered so many dishes, it was difficult to sample every one and still have stomach space for the birthday cake. (But I controlled myself, and saved space for the birthday cake.) Our host was so generous and has a good nose when it came to food.

My pictures below showed rather empty plates. The dishes of food were so yummy they literally flew off the plates. I was 1 of 2 women seated at a table with 5 hungry men with even bigger appetites, so in order to have a morsel of food, I had to be quick to get some food onto my plate before they were all gone! (And so the photos suffered). Some dishes were gone before I could photograph them!

First up, roast pork and roast chicken. (You may still see 1 or 2 pieces of roast pork left in the picture). The pork crackling was crispy and yet the meat was tender and juicy. Roast pork this good required a strategy-dig in! (I unashamedly took 3 big pieces onto my plate!)

Crispy roast pork and chicken
Crispy roast pork and chicken

Next was an equally mouth watering deep fried salt and pepper fish. Again, gone in a few seconds. So well seasoned the fish was still succulent inside the deep fried batter.

Salt and pepper fish
Salt and pepper fish

Stir fried belachan (prawn paste) kangkong (a type of Asian spinach) and stir fried bean sprouts with salted fish. Both these dishes are typical of vegetables served in Singapore/Malaysia hawker centre. Both easily becoming heavily salted in the hands of over-enthusiastic cooks. But in this case, they were pleasantly balanced to just give it enough flavour for us to reminisced about the good old days.

Belachan kangkong
Belachan kangkong

 

Stir fried bean sprouts with salted fish
Stir fried bean sprouts with salted fish

Then there were the dishes that didn’t quite make it onto the camera: steamed tofu with minced prawn, stir fried king prawns and egg omelette. The tofu was soft but you could still manage to pick a piece up with chopsticks. It was steamed and lightly seasoned with a dash of sesame oil and light soya sauce. It would be considered rather bland if you prefer more full bodied Asian dishes.

The king prawns were so yummy even my husband (who usually bypass them because he could not bother shelling them) ate 3. I ate 5! It’s my favourite crustacean! I couldn’t tell you how the egg omelette tasted. I was getting too full by this stage. But my husband assured that the humble omelette was taste-worthy.

The portions were big so we were really well fed.

Now, a word of warning. You may not see all these dishes listed on the menu board overhead at the store. This place caters to more western tastes and so the menu board has the usual westernised dishes you typlically see at such food courts. Just remember to ask the chef there to cook all dishes asian-style, and you’ll be in for a treat!

Definitely worth organizing a group of friends for a feast at this place.

And finally a slice of that birthday cake. This green tea cake was layered with green tea butter cream and red bean paste and topped with a thin layer of green marzipan. Very delicious and not overtly sweet.

Matcha tea cake
Matcha tea cake

 

Food store: Chinese BarBQ Food

Venue: International Eating House, 1080 Albany Highway, St James.

Price Range: $12-28

Cake: Cake Delight, 893 Canning Highway, Applecross.

Terrace Hotel Perth

My husband and I dined at the Terrace Hotel Perth on Friday night with two of our good friends. We both used an entertainment gold card which offered a complimentary main meal when another main meal is bought.

The front of house was a bar and judging by the number of people there on the night, it is a popular place to have an after work drink and dinner. The restaurant was busy on the night being Friday of a long weekend. It is advisable to make a table reservation in advance as we had tried to come here on 2 other occasions but each time there was no available table, even though we did try to make reservations a few days in advance.

We ordered a main each. Chef’s catch which was grilled barramundi fillet served with brocollini, cauliflower puree with lemon dill EVOO and grilled chorizos; confit lamb shanks, Tuscan roasted pork belly with polenta, apple sage and pumpkin braise, and a 250 gram beef fillet done medium rare.

We were pleasantly surprised by the presentation of the food. They were prettier to look at in real life. My photos probably did not do them justice.

Chef's catch

Chef’s catch

 

Lamb shank

Lamb shank

 

Beef 250gram
Beef 250 gram

 

Tuscan roast pork belly
Tuscan roast pork belly

My friend’s husband was unimpressed with his medium rare beef-it lacked flavour. My husband’s lamb shank was juicy, soft and tender-it just fell off the bone. My friend’s barramundi was rather average and my roast pork belly was tough and dry. The pork crackling was tough and chewy.

Overall, we had enjoyed the ambience as the restaurant had placed us in a quiet room with fewer diners sharing the same space. The wait staff were very helpful and really took care of our needs. The entertainment gold card deal made it worthwhile visiting.

Private dining room
Private dining room

 

Restaurant name: Terrace Hotel Perth

Menu: TTH-Dinner

Pricing: A$39-$42

 

 

 

 

 

Gingko Nut, Longan and Red Date Sweet Soup Recipe

This was my favourite dessert to have during Chinese New Year as a little kid in Singapore. My grand-aunty would boil this soup and have it ready for me when I visited her with my family. I always made it known to her that I loved the sweet soup she made and how I looked forward to having it at her house.

Finished soup

This is also a traditional Chinese sweet soup that has many variations, some have white fungus and lotus seeds in it. It uses simple ingredients that most Asians would have in their pantries or fridge or easily obtainable from an Asian grocer in Perth.

You can buy pre-cooked gingko nuts in a tin or vacuum pack. This saves a lot of your time because you would have to crack the nuts open and cook them before you can eat any of it.

Well, I hope you enjoy making this up for your family and friends. It’s so quick and easy too.

 

 

Difficulty level: Easy        Preparation time: 10 mins       Cooking time: 20 mins

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

Sweet soup ingredients

24 gingko nuts (buy the pre-cooked vacuumed packed ones)

25 gram dried longan

25 gram dried red dates

800 ml of water

Rock sugar or raw sugar (optional)

Steps:

1) Remove the seed from the gingko nuts. This removes the bitter taste of the nut. Be careful not to slice the entire nut into half. You want to keep it whole as much as possible.

Removing the gingko nut seed

2) Rinse all ingredients well and put into a pot and boil. Bring to a gentle rolling boil on medium fire until the red dates are soft and the dried longans plump but not mushy.

Pot

3) Add sugar to taste if required.

4) Serve warm or chilled depending on your liking.

Tip: If you want your gingko nut to taste sweet to the bite, boil it in a strong sugar solution so it takes up the sweetness before you use it in your sweet soup.

Note: If you are prone to constipation, it is best not to eat the red dates with the skin as it is difficult to digest. Just eat the flesh.

Next week, I’ll be posting a Tau Fu Fa recipe, so stay tune.