Sunday, January 28, 2007

DIY Hot Pot and Chocolate Fondue

After last times very successful first dinner party that I hosted, there were requests for another one. So being the consumate host, I organised another dinner party. This time we ate hot pot and chocolate fondue for dessert.

From centre going clockwise we have Jessie, Tin, Jamela in the background, Trung and Hien.

Hot pot is very easy to do. You just need some good chicken stock for the soup base, to which you can add many different hot pot flavourings. I kept one just as the chicken stock and the other side was hot chilli mixture. Then for the food, you can use anything. I chose an assortment of seafood (scallops, prawn, squid), meat balls (beef, pork, fish, crab, tofu stuffed with fish), meats (beef, lamb), vegetables, tofu and my favourite of all, pig's intestines. Then you just throw in whatever meat you want to eat and wait till its ready.

Keiran thought he would be fashionably late and turned up to find that we had finished eating. You don't keep five hungry people waiting when there is all this food in front of them. Anyway, we sat with Keiran and watched him eat. You can also see the two jars of hot chilli sauce in the photo. You must have some type of hot chilli/satay/XO sauce when eating hot pot. My favourite was the jar I brought all the way back from my holiday in Hong Kong.

After totally stuffing ourselves with hot pot, we still managed to stuff ourselves even more with CHOCOLATE, mmmmm. I cut up an assortment of fruits and also some marshmallows for dipping into the chocolate. The bananas tasted the best in my opinion, followed by strawberries and marshmallows equally. Green apples surprisingly tasted very good too, with the mix of sour and sweet working well.

Jamela was getting right into it and even had a chocolate vampire like teeth dripping down her mouth.

After dinner, we were all ready to look at McNaught's Comet and the International Space Station. However, turned out that there were too many clouds and we couldn't see anything. But having seen the comet and the space station the previous night, I have to say that they are definitely an amazing sight to see. Unfortunately the people who hadn't seen them couldn't see them that night due to wrong weather conditions. Besides that small let down, we all had a great time and literally couldn't move after all the food.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Recipe For Eggs Benedict

2 English muffins, split, toasted and buttered
4 thick slices ham or bacon, slightly warmed
4 poached eggs (lightly poached if preferable)
1/2 cup Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise Sauce:
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup warm clarified butter
1 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Dash hot red pepper sauce (optional)
Salt and ground white pepper to taste

Place in the top of a double boiler or in a large stainless-steel bowl set up as a double boiler. Off the heat, whisk the egg mixture until it becomes light and frothy. Place the top of the double boiler or the bowl over, not in, barely simmering water and continue to whisk until the eggs are thickened, 2 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the eggs get too hot. Remove the pan or bowl from over the water and whisk to slightly cool the mixture. Whisking constantly, very slowly add butter, then whisk in lemon juice, pepper sauce and salt and pepper. If the sauce is too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water. Serve immediately or keep the sauce warm for up to 30 minutes by placing the bowl in water.

I must admit to stealing this recipe but you can't really get any better than an Eggs Benedict breakfast...If you prefer Dirk Benedict then you can always watch Celebrity Big Brother or repeats of The A-Team on UKTV Gold!

Monday, January 22, 2007


When it comes to food, I'm a typical Asian. I love all the weird things that Asians eat, from chicken feet to pig's brain. I also love to eat the expensive things like lobster, crab, sea cucumber, fish stomachs and abalone.

Australia has some of the best abalone in the world. They used to be so cheap here, around $5 a kilo 20 years ago. The Asians couldn't eat enough of them since they are so expensive in Asia. However, Australian businessmen have caught on and know there is a massive market in Asia for abalone so the price has gone up dramatically. A decline in stock due to illegal fishing has also driven the price up. Organised gangs now don't deal in drugs, they deal in abalone. The rewards are as high as drugs, but if you get caught, the penalty is a thousand times less. Black lip abalone now cost over $100/kg while green lip abalone go for about $300/kg. Therefore, eating abalone is a real luxury for most people. But Asians love it so much that they are still willing to spend that money to eat them.

I had some abalone with my family the other night. We consumed about 2 kilos, meaning that we ate over a few hundred dollars in one meal. But those abalone are so delicious. My mum has perfected the art of cooking them from quite a few attempts. It used to take a day and a half of cooking them in a pot, which meant watching them every so often and adding more water. This was so much effort and the results were not always perfert either. They were overcooked or undercooked and would not taste their bst. Nowadays, cooking the abalone in a pressure cooker for about 3 hours produces a perfectly tender abalone. Using chicken stock and a few dried scallops in the stock to cook the abalone provide even more flavour. All you need to do is get the pressure cooker going by bringing everything to the boil, then just leave it and wait. When the abalone are done, adding a little bit of oyster sauce, some mushrooms and baby bok choy and you have a perfect dish.

If you ever have a chance to try some abalone, I really recommend it. The texture is sort of like those giant cone clams, but firmer. The flavour is a very unique sea flavour, like a mixture between clams and oysters, but not really like that. It's very hard to describe what the flavour is, except to say that its delicious.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hosting My First Dinner Party

I had decided not too long ago that I was going to start learning to cook, so what better way than to host a dinner party. I asked some of my friends from work to come and try out my cooking. Fortunately they all came despite the fear of food poisoning.

Here are some photos from the night.
Here are the happy guest, minus Wei who was taking the photo.
From centre going clockwise, we have Tin hiding behind the chair, Jessie, Tafazal, Mark, Emmanuel, Trung, Jamela, Hien (who I am obscuring) and myself.

For entrees, I cooked, or cut, some sashimi with asparagus and Japanese mayo. I also prepared some oysters (the cheats way by microwaving them instead of steaming but the results is just as good) with a black bean sauce.

The sashimi is salmon and tuna with some blanched asapargus.

The black bean sauce is made by frying some oil, black bean, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, spring onion together in a hot wok.

Mains included a nice and spicy Thai salad. There was also a Pan Fried Beef with onions and special Japanese soy sauce mixture that I make. It was finished with Quail marinated in lemongrass, chilli and fish sauce baked with potatoes.

The Thai salad contains prawns and cuttlefish with green papaya making up the base of the salad. The sauce is a spicy mixture of lime, fish sauce, sugar, chilli, garlic, coriander and sesame oil.

The beef is resting on a bed of raw white onion and topped off with sesame seeds. The special sauce is a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, whole garlic cloves marinated together overnight where the vinegar acts on the other ingredients and produces a very nice strange flavour. Just before serving the sauce, mix in a bit of sesame oil to give it an extra fragrant touch.

Here is Mark showing Emmanuel how large the quails are. :-)

Finally for dessert, I made fruit tarts served with fruit salad and ice cream. Totally delicious is I do say so myself.

The meal turned out very well and I timed most things quite well. I didn’t know the quail would take so long to bake so I put them in a bit too late and we had to wait a bit. But everyone just kept talking and drinking while we waited so it was ok.

Back For 2007

You may have been wondering why there has been a lack of posts lately. I've just been on a three weeks holiday overseas so was not able to post anything. However, I am now back and have lots of food material from my trip that I will share with everyone. I hope the coming years gastronomical adventures will be as good as last years. Hope you can all join me for the ride.