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Braised Short Ribs Donburi

 photo photo2-140714-v2__zps6c902a24.jpg I was in the Tiong Bahru neighborhood and decided to pop into Foodie Market Place to have a ‘look-see’. My friend, who frequently cooks at home, recommended their beef short ribs because ‘they are the cheapest in town’.

Okaaaay. I am suspicious of things that come with a ‘very cheap’ price tag because there is no free lunch in this world, right?  I am usually happy to pay for good quality meat from Huber’s or The Butcher, but there is no harm in trying out a new place.

Foodie Market Place was very crowded on the Saturday that I was there. I bought 3 kg of beef short ribs (S$100), a packet of salami (S$3), a piece of flank steak (S$5) and a packet of frozen New Zealand littleneck clams (S$10).  The prices are very affordable, which probably explains why the shop was packed with Singaporeans hunting for good deals.  

Verdict. The salami and littleneck clams were lousy, and I would not buy them again.  The flank steak, stir-fried with vegetables, was not bad.  I used 1 kg of the short ribs to make a Korean-style braised dish – something along the lines of galbijim – using Maangchi’s recipe.  It was quite good eaten with rice, an onsen tamago, nori and toasted sesame seeds.

Braised Short Ribs Donburi
 
Author: Bee
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 1 kg of beef short ribs, trimmed of excess fat. Score them down to the bone a few times.
  • 1 large onion (about 1½ cups)
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • 2 Bosc pears (about 1½ cups), peeled and cored
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Blanch the short ribs in boiling water for 5 minutes. Rinse them in cold water and drain.
  2. Puree onion, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, pears, soy sauce, ground black pepper, and 1 cup of water in a blender.
  3. Place the short ribs in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add puree to the short ribs, and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the ribs turn shiny and the puree is almost gone. Keep stirring to prevent burning.
  4. Top the dish with toasted sesame seeds, or pine nuts.
 
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The Keroppi Bento

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Last week, I made a Keroppi bento, just for the fun of it. That was my first kyraben and it had to be my favourite Sanrio character. Compared to my usual bentos, this kyaraben was slightly more complicated to make because there were several small components – eyes, mouths, cheeks – that I had to assemble.

For the Keroppi face, I boiled and mashed edamame to get the green coloring, mixed it with rice and rolled the rice into a ball. I used half-boiled eggs for the eyes, and cut out shapes from nori sheets to get the eyeballs and mouth. The rosy cheeks were made with tiny cut-outs from a slice of honey baked ham (using my piping tip as a cutter). The rest of the stuffing around the Keroppi were ingredients that I threw together from what I could find in my fridge – ham, sausages, broccolini and cherry tomatoes.  It is important to pack all these ingredients tightly so that they do not move around in the box.

This was not too difficult to put together, and while it did not look as pretty as some of the ones that I see online, I had fun making it.  I doubt I would make this again anytime soon.

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Bentos Are Fun To Make

Ever since I stopped working, I have had the time in the morning to make a bento for the husband to take to work whenever the mood strikes me.  I don’t pack one everyday, only whenever I feel inspired, which could be once a week or once in a couple of weeks.  

I know he prefers to eat a bowl of fishball noodles for lunch then to eat a home-packed bento, but he humours me whenever I get into the mood to make one.  Like this blog, bentos are another form of a creative outlet for me.  And I have so much fun making them.  Nothing cute-sy or fancy, just simple food that I can easily put together when I am half-awake in the morning.  I think my husband will lose his appetite if he opens up the box and sees a kyaraben, not that I could make a beautiful one in the first place. 

And as long as I plan what I am going to use as the bento fillings the night before, it takes at least 45 mins in the morning for me to get a bento box ready (including time to let the food cool down before closing the bento box). The preparation time should ideally be shorter but it isn’t the case because I am not very organised, often changing my mind about what I would like to include at the eleventh hour.

 photo photo5-140610-v2__zpsd2fd4a55.jpgStir-fried squid with mangetout in a sambal sauce and topped with boiled carrots.  Steamed rice with a hard-boiled egg and lots of furikake.  I like using curly lettuce as a base (to soak up all the gravy and sauce) or as a separator for the bento fillings (in lieu of a baran).  It adds colour and texture to the bento.  No space for fruit!

Packed in a simple two-tier (boring) black bento box that I bought at a shopping arcade in Kichijoji when we were in Tokyo earlier this year.  

 photo photo1-140610-v2__zps7304c39e.jpgPan-fried luncheon meat.  Stir-fried Chinese greens.  Corn croquette.  Onion omelette. Brown rice.  A rum and raisin Kit Kat for a sweet ending.  Hmmm, the colours in this bento were too dull.

 photo photo2-140610-v2__zps4bbbe8ac.jpgLeftover ngor hiang from a dinner party the night before.  Very little preparation work needed – just heat the items in the oven and they are ready to go into the bento.  Boiled broccoli sprinkled with fried shallots for extra flavor.  An ichigo Kit Kat for dessert.  I simply love Japanese Kit Kats.

 photo photo3-140610-v2__zpsdd7ddef5.jpgStir-fried bacon with potatoes, mangetout and carrots.  This dish was inspired by one of the recipes in the manga What Did You Eat Yesterday.  Hard-boiled egg with steamed rice and some edamame.  This was a Tuesday bento and I tried to make the Japanese character for Tuesday (火 ) using edamame beans.  

 photo photo4-140610-v2__zps37737531.jpgMy attempt to make a tri-coloured soboro bento using sliced omelette, boiled mangetout and a lightly flavoured ground pork stir-fry.  Steamed rice with furikake and Japanese fishcake. I love the pink swirls in the centre of the fishcake.  

 photo photo4-140610-v2_-2_zps31ee9e01.jpgTeriyaki chicken.  Stir-fried peppers and onions.  Steamed rice.  A small Japanese mandarin orange and a little chocolate delight.

Packed in the bento box which I bought on Jbox years ago.  I like that this box has little containers to separate the food but it also means that there is less flexibility in sizing the quantities for each type of filling.

 photo photo3-140610-v2_-2_zps13f5eb82.jpgA rather blurry photo.  My mother-in-law’s ngor hiang.  Boiled broccoli. Omelette.  Steamed rice.  Sweet Korean strawberries.

 photo photo2-140610-v2_-2_zps37ba0597.jpgPan-fried saba and tau kwa.  Boiled broccoli.  Steamed rice with edamame beans.  Korean strawberries and blueberries.

 photo photo1-140610-v2_-2_zps61ce2f74.jpgCorn croquette.  Stir-fried mushrooms.  Rolled omelette.  Boiled broccoli.  Steamed rice with furikake.

I have also tried putting pasta into a bento box.  The results are not visually appealing – a gooey lumpy mess in a black box!

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Cabbage Rolls

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I was inspired to make these cabbage rolls after watching Kekkon Dekinai Otoko (“The Man Who Cannot Get Married”) for the umpteenth time. The dish appeared in a scene and it looked soooo delicious, I searched for a recipe online and found one on JustBento.

I made the cabbage rolls using ground pork marinated with minced onion, grated ginger and some soy sauce.   These cabbage rolls were then simmered in bonito broth over low fire. The hardest bit for me was in wrapping the pork balls in steamed cabbage leaves. I just couldn’t get them into neat little packages. We ate these cabbage rolls with udon in bonito broth.

Kekkon Dekinai Otoko is one of my favorite Japanese dramas. It is a super fun drama! I have watched it countless times, and I never get tired of it. How can one get sick of Abe Hiroshi?

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Lao Ban-style Beancurd

Beancurd Pudding photo DSC_0641-131228-v2__zpsd2122aba.jpg

I was totally mad for Lao Ban beancurd when the beancurd fad descended on Singapore two years ago. I would join the long queues that formed at various times of the day just to eat the cold pudding-like beancurd, made popular by this stall known as Lao Ban.  The cold, light and smooth texture of the beancurd was wonderful in our hot, tropical weather.  Lao Ban produced several flavours of the beancurd pudding – original, almond and durian.  My favorite was the almond-flavoured one and the original came in as a close second.

Beancurd Pudding photo DSC_0639-131228-v2__zpsd8c62171.jpg

Making the beancurd pudding is a breeze once you get hold of all the ingredients from the supermarket and specialty baking shops. I have to figure out how to make the almond-flavoured version.

Lao Ban-style Beancurd
Cuisine: Singaporean
Author: Bee
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 60g Polleney Soybean Powder (from NTUC)
  • 30g Unisoy Soya Milk Powder (from NTUC)
  • 30g Nestle Coffeemate (from NTUC)
  • 20g sugar
  • 13g REDMAN Instant Jelly Powder (from Phoon Huat)
  • 700ml water
  • 1 vanilla bean pod (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place the Polleney Soybean Powder, Unisoy Soya Milk Powder and water in a saucepan.
  2. Heat the mixture over low fire and use a whisk to combine thoroughly. There will be plenty of bubbles forming on the surface of the mixture once it is heated but do not let it boil. Add the vanilla bean pod.
  3. Add sugar and Nestle Coffeemate to the saucepan and whisk to combine. The bubbles would have disappeared. Again, do not let the mixture boil.
  4. Once the soybean mixture is very hot (when steam appears from the mixture), add Instant Jelly Powder and whisk quickly to dissolve the jelly powder.
  5. Pour the mixture through a sieve (to remove bubbles and any bits of powder floating in the mixture) into a measuring cup.
  6. Pour the sieved mixture slowly from a low height into serving bowls. This is to prevent bubbles from forming in the serving bowls.
  7. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours.
Notes
The above-mentioned ingredients were doubled to make the quantities shown in the photographs.[br][br]Recipe is adapted from www.dejiki.com.
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Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken

I made this Vietnamese lemongrass chicken dish on Christmas Day, using a recipe created by my friend C. I am sure she would not mind me posting her recipe here.

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken photo DSC_0560-131225-v2__zpsca296dfb.jpg

As she promised, it was a delicious and super easy dish to make.  It does not involve any complicated ingredients or cooking techniques.  I marinated the meat overnight, pan-fried it in my Happycall Pan and served it with steamed rice and a cold home-made lemongrass drink.  I know that I am going to see this chicken dish on my dinner table very frequently.

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken
 
Ingredients
  • Marinade
  • 2 chicken Marylands (with the thigh bone removed)
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 chili (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsps sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • Dipping sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 minced chili (optional)
  • 2 tbsps fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • 1 tsp sugar
Instructions
  1. Mince lemongrass, garlic and chilli (optional).
  2. Mix with pepper, sugar, fish sauce, light soy sauce, sesame oil and peanut oil.
  3. Rub meat with the mixture and let stand for up to 2 hours, or overnight.
  4. In the meantime, make a dipping sauce with the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Heat a grill pan, oil it and let sit over the flame until it gets really hot. Sear the meat on both sides till golden brown. Let the chicken rest on the a plate for 5 minutes when done. Pour juices over rice and eat with dipping sauce.
 
Notes
As an alternative to chicken, one can use skirt steak. Cut the beef into strips and stir-fry it, or “bake” the beef in a hot oven till cooked.
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Almond Milk with Ground Cinnamon and Honey

Almond Milk photo AlmondMilk-DSC_0283-131022_zpsab023d23.jpg

I have never been very much of a milk drinker. I like having milk in my coffee and cereal, but I am not crazy about drinking it straight from a glass. Compared to cow’s milk, I prefer piping hot soybean milk, especially when it comes with dough fritters.

When I did the 3-day detox juicing program by Sana Cleanse some months back, I loved the nut milk that was part of the program. It was the only drink that I craved for way after the detox program ended. Ever since, I have been keen to make my own nut milk.

I did some research online and discovered that nut milk is actually quite easy to make at home. All I needed was raw almonds, a blender and a cheese cloth. I bought a packet of raw almonds from an organic store some weeks back and finally made myself some nut milk.

I am ecstatic that my nut milk experiment turned out quite well.  The nut milk is creamy, refreshing and downright tasty.  I am gonna drink this straight, or use it to make banana smoothies.

Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds, preferably organic
3 cups of water
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 tbsp of raw honey, preferably organic
Pinch of sea salt

Method:

Soak the raw almonds in 2 cups of water for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.  As I live in a humid country, I soaked my almonds in the fridge.  The first time I did this, I left the bowl of soaked almonds out in the open, and after a day, the almonds were spoilt and I had to throw them away.  Such a waste!

Using a blender, blend the raw almonds with 3 cups of water, or you could you use the water which was used to soak the almonds in, until you get a white, creamy milk.  I wish I had a Vitamix…!

Strain the milk using a cheese cloth.  I used a cloth bag that is made for straining coconut milk.  If you like more texture in your milk, add some of the almond pulp to the milk.  I poured the milk that has been strained into the blender, added the honey and cinnamon and blended the mixture for another 30 secs.

Keep refrigerated and consume within 2 days.

I am trying to make a nut milk that is as tasty as the one by Sana Cleanse.  They used cashew nuts, medjool dates, coconut, ground cinnamon and vanilla.  I will try this combination soon.

 

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