Monday, February 22, 2010

Fish for Lent – Steamed Fish with Ginger & Spring Onion

Lent is a period when some of us abstain from eating meat. Although in my humble opinion what you CHOOSE TO DO is more important than the opposite I still find it commendable for anyone to give up something for the sake of matters spiritual.

But I'm not here to lecture. Rather, I'm here to provide a fish recipe to you (whether you're in fast or not).

Steamed Fish with Ginger and Spring Onion is another family favourite. The recipe below is a variation of it in that I would normally use a whole fish to make this. I actually prefer a whole fish but it can be a bit too much for us. So for that evening we decided to get the freshest fillets we could find instead.

For this recipe, the ideal fish to use is white fleshed. The oily and stronger flavoured species (like tuna and mackerel) will overpower the delicate taste of the other ingredients. You can use tilapia, barramundi, cod, snapper or any white fish as long as it is fresh.

If you do not have a steamer baking this in the oven (covered) can work just as well

Steamed Fish with Ginger & Spring Onion

1 snapper fillet (or any white fish)
1 walnut sized ginger julienned
3-4 spring onions (missing from photos as I did not have any that evening. I used regular onion insted, julienned)
A bunch of coriander
1/4 cup stock (fish or chicken. You might need to add another 1/4 cup if you're going to bake it).
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp lime juice
A dash of white pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
A few drops of sesame oil

1. Prepare your steamer (or preheat your oven to 180C).
2. Combine all the ingredients in a deep enough plate to hold the sauce (or a baking dish covered with foil). Set aside a few sprigs of coriander and spring onion.
3. Put in the steamer (or the oven) and cook for about 10 minutes. Check for doneness. Thicker fillets might require more cooking time.
4. Take off the steamer (or the oven). Dress with some coriander, spring onion and a few drops of sesame oil before serving.

Polvoron, Pulburon, Polboron

I originally wanted to make this post into a guessing game. A non-Pinoy would be hard-pressed to figure out what the strange looking devices in my photos are. If you're vaguely familiar with Filipino or Spanish cuisine the title is a dead giveaway as to what they're for.

These contraptions are actually moulds used in making a Filipino treat called polvoron (pulburon, polboron). These moulds have got less to do with the taste of polvoron so don't fret if you haven't got them handy. You should still be able to make polvoron in freeform or with the use of other similar sized moulds. They'll be a nice addition to your collection of kitchen gadgets though.

Polvoron, I realised only today after reading it in the ever reliable Wikipedia, is in fact a type of shortbread - a biscuit made of sugar, flour and lots of butter. Basic polvoron is actually made up of such! You can create variations (look out for future posts) to this by adding nuts, chocolates, fruits, or other ingredients you fancy. It is traditionally wrapped in colourful Japanese paper (papel de hapon) but these tend to bleed so we opt for cello wrap instead.
With only a few essential ingredients it is vital to get the process spot on to avoid disaster. Flour, the only component that requires cooking, must be toasted just right. It must be nut brown in colour with a very delicate toasty smell.

The recipe below is Cherry's. I only assisted in the wrapping.

Cherry's Basic Polvoron
4 cups plain flour
1 cup powdered milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
250g butter

1. Toast flour in a pan until it starts to turn light brown.
2. Sift the toasted flour, milk and sugar in a large bowl.
3. Add the butter to the mixture and make sure all the ingredients are blended well together.
4. Use a polvoron mould to shape the mixture into traditional shapes.
5. Wrap the polvoron pieces in cello wrap. Serve immediately or cool in the fridge.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Still Here...Just Busy…In the Meantime

Travelling for work can be a drag. The early mornings to catch the first flights and the sometimes long drives can be quite draining. But I must say there’s a part of me that actually revels in all these. There’s still much to enjoy in spite of…

I’m quite busy at the moment finalising the month’s reports. In the meantime, enjoy a photo collection of my recent trip to Gladstone

Early morning cab ride to the airport

Usual breakfast at the club

View from my window

Breakfast on board

Car for the day

Car for the day

Detour (breakfast) before going to the office

It was a gloomy stormy day (Barney Beach)

Rainwater rush

Oysters Tropical – Mango sabayon grilled with coconut

Rib on the Bone – served with a rich red wine and mushroom sauce

Vanilla Crème Brule with Compote of Berries (the best i've had to date)

The evening's entertainment

The evening's entertainment

Breakfast the next day

Blueberry cheesecake treat at the office (Happy Anniversary Catherine!)

Afternoon snack on board (flight back to BNE)

My beverage of choice

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Brownie Cheesecake

A colleague told me about this wonderful dessert at the newly opened cafe at the lobby of our building (thanks Vicki!) They call it a brownie cheesecake. Not a cheesecake that tastes like a brownie but rather a cheesecake with brownie as the base topped with a thin layer of white chocolate. It was a shame a didn't bring my camera on Friday. It was a treat to behold.

So, with Valentine's Day coming up I had a sudden burst of inspiration from this and decided to make dessert for my wife. Yes, you guessed it! I attempted to make my own version of a brownie cheesecake.
The concept seemed too obvious I wonder why I never thought of it earlier. Cherry and I both love brownies and cheesecakes but it never crossed our minds to put them together...into one sinful dessert.
I imagined it to be quite simple to make (although I've never baked cheesecake before...what could be so difficult, I thought). To make it even simpler I decided to use my favourite Betty Croker's Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix instead of making it from scratch. As for the cheesecake, I used the Classic Baked American Cheesecake recipe.
What a disaster! Well, not completely. It was still edible but not great!
So, what went wrong? For starters I had too much brownie (look at the photos). Rather than equally sharing with the cheesecake it virtually took over the whole dessert. Secondly, I made too little cheesecake. I halved the recipe when i shouldn't have. And finally, I over baked it!
The end result was far from how I imagined it too be. As a consequence I would not be posting the recipe until I get it right...hopefully, before next Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cheap Eats – HiMaWaRi Tea Room

HiMaWaRi Tea Room
Shop 24-25, Elizabeth Arcade
99 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane
Phone (07) 3210 0784

As a newly employed graduate beancounter (in the late 90’s) I was always in the search for “value meals” and I’m not referring to the McDonald’s kind.

Tempura Udon
I am fortunate to live in a city populated by a lot of university students who are after the same “value” as me. Brisbane, unsurprisingly, has got a wide range eateries (apart from the prolific burger joints) that cater to the budget conscious demographic.

Yakisoba Omelette

Naturally, for an Asian like me, rice wins hands down over any other type of meal in the full satisfaction category. I used to dismiss non-rice meals as merely snacks and therefore insufficient. My exposure to other cuisines has changed this…slightly.

Yakisoba Omelette 2

HiMaWaRi Tea Room ticks all the right boxes in what I am looking for. Not only are they real value for money their food also have got that feel and taste of authenticity. Their mainly Japanese crew, both in and out of the kitchen, have got a lot to do with it. Meals are nicely presented in what look like traditional Japanese bowls and bento boxes.

Chicken Karaage

Our family favourites at HiMaWaRi include chicken karaage, tempura udon, yakisoba omelette and agedashi tofu (all of which they do really well). Mains start at $9. You now have an option to add $2 to your main meal for a side of noodles, chicken karaage or agedashi tofu.

Fresh Tomato & Mushroom Salad

HiMaWaRi is located at the Elizabeth Arcade (destination for cutting edge fashion and all sorts of Asian kitsch). They’re open Mondays to Saturdays from 11am.