Holiday Cooking

Over the past few days of holidays, I found time to cook (almost) every meal. Very enjoyable in the most laid back kind of necessity.

Day 1:
Japanese curry
So simple, it came from a packet.

1. Just saute some onions and chicken (cut into cubes) till partially cooked.
2. Add water (according to packet instructions) and bring to boil.
3. Throw in the chopped potatoes, carrots and apples* (all roughly the same size to estimate cooking time) with the curry roux.
4. Turn the fire off after all the ingredients are soft. Serve hot over rice.
Japanese curry is generally mild, but you can add some chili powder for more heat.
*You can even add in some other kind of fruit like raisins or mango instead of apples — or use none at all.

Day 2:
Lime and chili grilled corn
Grilled pumpkin
Tomato papa (pappa al pomodoro — not pictured, and since the recipe’s available online, I won’t repeat it here)

Lime and chili grilled corn

1. Boil corn in salted water for 10 minutes.
2. Deseed and cut chili into small bits.
3. Remove the corn from the boiling water. Fire up the griddle pan on high. Place corn on the griddle and turn occasionally till you get nice charred bits.
4. Serve corn with freshly squeezed lime juice. Top it with chopped chilies and salt.

Grilled pumpkin

1 pumpkin
Dried rosemary
Dried thyme
Olive oil

1. Peel the skin off the pumpkin and cut in half. Deseed the core and slice them — not too thick (takes a longer time to cook) and not too thin (can get a bit mushy).
2. Dress the pumpkin slices with dried thyme and rosemary in olive oil. Season with salt and some pepper.
3. Set the griddle pan on medium heat. Place pumpkin slices on the griddle, turning them when charred lines form. Repeat with remaining pumpkin.

Day 3:
Ginger chili chicken with cucumber
Homemade burgers (not pictured)

Ginger chili chicken with cucumber

1 fat thumb-sized ginger, julienned
1 bird’s eye chili, deseeded and chopped
3 small limes, juiced
21/2 tsp honey
Light soy
Olive oil
Pepper
1 Chicken breast
1 Japanese cucumber

1. Prepare marinade by adding ginger, chili, lime juice, honey and oil. Season with light soy and pepper.
2.Clean off the fatty bits and skin off the chicken breast. Butterfly it if necessary, but lightly score it so it soaks up the marinade. Add chicken into the marinade and leave it for 15 minutes.
3. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the whole cucumber into ribbons. Refrigerate.
4. Set the griddle on medium heat and place the chicken on it. Allow it to sit on one side for a couple of minutes and flip. Keep the remaining marinade aside.
5. The chicken should be cooked when it’s firm to the touch, but don’t overcook it or it’ll be dry and hard. You want it juicy and tender.
6. Turn off the fire and remove the chicken. While the pan is still hot, pour in the remaining marinade (ginger and chili bits too). It’ll bubble up and as it browns, quickly pour the sauce over the chicken on a plate.
7. Serve chicken with cold cucumber ribbons on the side.

Homemade burger patty
2:1 ratio of grounded beef to pork
1 or 2 eggs, depending on amount of meat
Cream crackers, crushed
Basil, chopped
Garlic, grated
Lime zest
Parmesan, finely grated
Salt and pepper
(If you want it to have a more Asian flavor, add some lemongrass powder or juice)

Day 4:
Vermicelli with pho soup base
Sorry, I was in a rush and had no time to photograph and having had too many burgers the night before, I opted for a meatless pho.

Pho soup spices:
Star anise
Cinnamon
Fennel seeds
Cardamon
Cloves
Coriander seeds

For more flavor:
Lemongrass powder
Ginger powder
Fish sauce
Chicken stock
Lime juice
Slit a bird’s eye chili, seeds intact
Carrots, cut into triangles
Coriander, loads of this, chopped with its stem
Ginger, julienned or cut thicker if you don’t like biting into ginger
Garlic, chopped
Basil, whole and torn

Season with salt and pepper
Vermicelli, soaked in hot water and when softened, put it in a cold bath
(For even more flavor, add beef and bones with marrow. You can serve it pipping hot with thin slices of raw beef like in Vietnam, or lightly cooked beef slices with lots of extra basil, mint and bean sprouts on the side)

1. If you’re using grounded spices, place it into a spice bag along with the lemongrass and ginger powder (if you want more flavor or heat). But if you’re using the spices whole, lightly toast them on a pan and you can place the lemongrass and garlic powder into a spice bag (for step 3).
2. In a pot, add heat up some oil and lightly brown some garlic and ginger. Add water and bring to boil.
3. Add in carrots, chili and spice bag. Add in some thickened chicken stock (I used a store bought bottled stock). Cover pot and allow to cook.
4. Add in some splashes fish sauce and check for taste. Add more if necessary. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Allow to cook till carrots are soft.
5. When it’s about done, remove spice bag and add in basil, coriander and lime juice. Stir well for 5 minutes.
6. Turn off the heat and serve the soup over the prepared rice noodles with a wedge of lime.

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4 comments

  1. pat

    So many cooking adventures! And I see you’ve used the blue enamel pot :)

    Now I feel like a hot, beef pho. Mhmm.

  2. Su Ann

    Yums!!! & I like those cute onion cartoons. ;)

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