Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best Meal I Had in 2009, Warung Pregina Bali & Happy New Year!

The process of naming the best meal I had in the year 2009 has been...a pain in the ass.
I think you'd all agree.
2009 has been delicious, I've had fancy schmancy burgers to ghetto sandwiches, glory of successes as well as misery of failures in the kitchen, and everything in between.

But if I had to name one's gotta be the meal I had in
Warung Pregina, Sanur, Bali.

We might've been famished from all the beaching...
It might've been the place, the fake scooter right in front of it...
It could've been the holiday, the soft breeze on our faces, the friendly people...

But nah, the food was truly the star of the day.

Can't wait to go back there.

2009 has been great, but 2010 is gonna be a more delicious one.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas & Bday Bash 2009 - Junk Food Fest?

You already know what we normally do on special occassions...
We start and end everything with...
food :D

It started on my birthday 00:00:00 HKT (GMT+8), SC surprised me with a super luscious chocolate cake. He had 2 bites, I had the rest. Bday girl's prerogative ;)

Then we had our closest friends over for a Christmas & Bday bash...we started with (again), chocolates

Love black lindor and gold ferrero roche. No matter how cliche...they are always good in my books.

Loz brought a mini case of chocolates which got us all liquored up.

My sweet friends wouldn't let me cook for my own birthday party, it felt almost weird not planning, procuring, preparing, and cooking that day. Nonethelesss, I sneaked out a little something from my kitchen, this black chicken, coconut, and mushrooms soup (get the recipe here).

Perfect to get ourselves ready for our....
When my friends asked me what kind of food I wanted for my birthday, they probably had something decadent and elegant in mind....steak, seafood, etc etc. But I said I wanted junk food. The real deal, not gourmet-ized. I am talking KFC and McD kinda junk :D

At first one of them protested, but again I exercised my prerogative (I am a dominatrix control freak after all~), and they gave in. So, KFC and Pizza hut indeed, except sc insisted to get some sushi. So glad he did. The sushi was a nice refreshing surprise from all the junk.

The sushi shop screwed up our orders and we ended up with more than we ordered. When we realized that we got this extra tray for free, we surely weren't gonna complain ;) oppps.

My absolute favorite! Upper thighs, drumsticks, wings, spicy and non spicy, take your pick!
It's my birthday, I get to eat all the skin, dammit!
(actually, bday or not, I always eat the skin anyway hehe)

Pizza with stuffed crust. Fluffy fluffy crust.

After we ate,
we played.

The game was pictionary, it was played in Chinese, which made it very difficult for me and loz (I don't know Chinese & Loz doesn't read). But somehow...

Our team won!!! Our winning "guess" was...Mr. Hong Kong. That little "shrimp" was supposed to be Hong Kong, and those rows of buns were supposed to be rock-hard-6-packs abs.

I am sure Christmas was not all about gift purchasing & exchange, but the economy surely can benefit from it.

Yeah. Let's blame everything on "the economy"

I gave...

I gave...

...and I received!
A LOT!!!

Everybody, thanks sooooooooooo much for all the wonderful gifts!!!
Did you notice that some of them are related to food/cooking? :D

We ended the night with this super luscious chocolate cake from Zoe bakery, Wanchai, served with a choice of peach champagne (courtesy of Athena, check out her post about this party here. It's in Chinese) or hot earl grey tea. wanna know what's inside that Le Creuset box.

It's something I can whack Vincent with.
Will it leave grill marks on him?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Korean Potato Noodles with Beef & Mushroom Broth - My Simple Christmas Dinner

This was my Christmas dinner.

If you were expecting some gorgeously golden turkey, tender and juicy steak, super-creative-fancy side dishes, and beautifully crafted desserts, hmm...there was none :P

All the shopping, photo hunting, cleaning & decorating totally consumed me.
That's my official statement.
The reality? I was (again) too lazy to plan anything, and spent most of the day with my ass planted in front of my computer watching my favorite drama series :D

I found this pack of fresh Korean Potato Noodles at City Super (HK$36), and it's a gem!

Update: a HK twitterer who's familiar with Korean food informed me that there is actually very little potato element in this noodle. Interestingly, it is marketed as "potato noodles", probably to attract spud lovers like me. Potato or no potato, give it a try and see if you like it :)

What did I do with it?

Made a simple broth of fresh shitake, straw mushrooms, Chinese cabbage, beef and chicken stock. Meat, vegetables and carb all in one pot. My kind of lazy meal.

Beef & Mushroom Broth
- 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 cup of beef (HK$20)
- 1 cup of fresh shitake, sliced
- 1 cup of straw mushrooms, sliced
- chicken/beef/vegetable stock
- half a head of large Chinese cabbage, sliced
- olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar

In a medium sized sauce pan/pot, Saute garlic in a bit of hot olive oil, add sliced mushrooms. Hello, kitchen, you smell good! Add stock, bring to boil, add cabbage, cook until it reaches the desired softness, adjust seasoning if necessary, add beef.

While the cabbage was cooking (before dumping beef into broth), prepare a pot of boiling water, cook noodles according to instructions, drain, divide by portion per person, and place in a bowl.

Pour broth over noodles and enjoy is subtle deliciousness.
Perfect for post-holiday-season recovery :D

I don't do "subtle" very often.
So enjoy it while it lasts :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Eve Dinner at Ruby Tuesday

I'm all about planning everything in advance.
Especially when it involves special occassions, and Christmas eve dinner normally does qualify as one, a big one.If I were to cook dinner, I'd search high and low for the perfect dishes and recipes. If I were to dine out, I'd be asking around, consulting
OpenRice, other Hong Kong food blogs, magazines, until I found the perfect little place.
Even if the meal sucked, at least I knew I've tried my very best.

This year?
It's exceptional.
I didn't make any plan whatsoever, didn't book a place...
and was thinking to just hit city super and see what ingredients I can bring home to cook...

That sounded like a plan?

Yes, but after rounds of emptying-my-wallet-damaging-my-credit-cards in Causeway Bay, I was too exhausted to even think about what to cook. We checked out a few restaurants, which were all fully booked with throngs of people harrassing the hostess, and finally ended up in...Ruby Tuesday ^_^
Lobster bisque was really tasty, probably a tad too creamy for most people, but I like creamy :D

So hungry from all the shopping, we weren't happy with just the Christmas Eve set dinner for two, ordered another plate of buffalo shrimps. They get our tummy teased. Crispy, springy, and spicy. My kinda snack.

The fork tender ribs with classic BBQ sauce?
Super tender, smoky, and flavorful indeed. I'll have a problem cooking ribs at home trying to match this later. Arrggh.

The scallops & Aged Prime Sirloin...the steak was out of this world. Tender, juicy, and bursting with flavors. The scallops could have a little more caramelization on them, if they weren't there, I won't miss 'em :p

Because it's a "special occassion", I ordered mango mojito. Hello alcohol allergy~! I know I know, I am still scratching like a monkey as I type this, and oh, I didn't get much mango flavor/scent from this drink :S

SC had this Ruby Refresher thing, not bad, but not memorable. Opps.

Before the food arrived, I was busy thinking about dessert, but after this giant meal, we were stuffed to our eyeballs, couldn't even look at the dessert menu, it's a rare moment, everyone! Normally, we always have some room for dessert, don't we?

All in all, we were happy with our dinner, our loot, and totally enjoyed the festive atmosphere~

Not bad for a man with no plan ^_^
Happy holidays everybody!

PS. If you need Ruby Tuesday's info, here's their website.
PS. The meal (for two) costs around HK$790.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Instant Korean Hot Pot & Fried Noodles - for Short Cut Freaks

I know we roll our eyes every time we overheard such a conversation:

A: What do you want for dinner?
B: Anything...(whatever/up to you/etc)
A: How about chicken?
B: No...I don't feel like chicken tonight...
A: How about fried rice?
B: Nah...I just had fried rice last night.
A: OK, steak then?
B: Hmmm...too much protein for today...

...and we're thinking, oh gosh, B is such a bitch (even if B's a he).

But sometimes, we couldn't help but having a B moment.
Happened to me last weekend.

Every suggestion sous chef threw me was answered by the word "EW!" in my brain.
Until we got to "hot pot"...and my brain went "OH YEAH~"

So, hot pot it was.
We've been talking about doing a Korean-ish hot pot for quite a while, but obviously didn't prepare enough to have it done last minute.

I needed instant gratification and got it from...

2 packs of Kimchi Shin Ramyun...(3 packs if you like it SUPER hot)

plus a pack of kimchi, plus Korean chilli paste.
Prepare non carbonated sweet drinks just in case you can't handle the heat.

Heat up a pot of chicken/beef/vegetable stock, throw dried kimchi and vegetables in, then the seasoning powder...

Add more kimchi and chilli paste if you don't mind the heat (perfect for cold days)

Throw in your favorite hot pot goodies...ours?

My favorite hot pot veggie of all time, tong ho!
My super fragrant flavor absorbent, and they photograph like heaven!

SC's favorite...various balls, mini cheese dogs and dumplings.
How cute are those in the shape of lil fish?

...and fresh beef.
Not American fat cow (sorry about the name, direct translation from Chinese, courtesy of SC), not marinated beef, just good ol' plain fresh beef from our butcher downstairs. We also had some mushrooms and silky smooth tofu. Yum!

Dump stuff into boiling soup base...

Pick em up when they're cooked, and enjoy.
The above may not seem much, but get us totally stuffed and we had plenty of leftovers, including the noodles.
What to do with them?

Korean Spicy Fried Noodles

Boil noodles until half done in the hot pot soup base, drain, set aside.

Saute leftovers in a bit of hot olive oil...season with a bit of soy sauce.

Add noodles...

Add chilli paste...
...and this should've been added in the beginning to caramelise a little, but I forgot, so I added them last...

But it's ok, it's not something that concerns national security, so no biggie.

Add a bit of greens if you had some, I added spring onion...add seasoning if necessary...cook them until the noodles are a bit dry. This does need quite a bit of oil. Remember not to overcook the noodles.

...we packed this for next day's lunch.
Nothing's wasted, everybody's happy.

PS. Happy Christmas eve yo~!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Grilled Chicken with Sticky Rice Stuffing

This is a homey dish that would impress the heck outta your spouse/bf/gf/in laws/colleagues/spouse's colleagues/frenemies/enemies...well, just about everyone, and it's completely doable!

Thanks to Noobcook for posting the easy-to-follow recipe.
I had been dreaming chicken & sticky rice days and nights after I saw her beautiful bird, and finally, I did it, with a little tweaks here and there.

Do some stretching exercises, take a deep breath...

The bird
You'll need:
- 1 small sized chicken (you can go bigger, but my oven can only fit smaller birds, around HK$30 ones)
Remove head, neck, feet, trim excess fat, clean thoroughly and pat dry.

- Hoisin sauce, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, white pepper, five spice powder
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- a few sprigs of spring onion, cut into 5 cm long pieces
- 5 cm ginger, sliced thinly
Rub marinate mix all over the bird, place garlic, shallot, spring onion and ginger including in the cavity and in between the meat and skin, refrigerate overnight.

Sing the bird a lullaby if you wish :)

Sticky Rice Stuffing

I soaked 2 cups of sticky rice, 1 cup of dried shiitake mushrooms overnight. Before cooking, drain rice and set aside. Drain and slice mushrooms, reserve the water.

For a little citrus touch, instead of lemon/lime (which I didn't have), I used 9 years old dried orange peel from sc's mom. Soak them in water while preparing other ingredients.

My stuffing also included chestnuts, chopped dried shiitake mushrooms, and the best bit? Chinese sausages (lap cheong), sliced thinly. I like to think that lap cheong is the sweeter, Chinese cousin of bacon.

Heat up a pan, throw lap cheong pieces to release its oil, add mushrooms and chestnuts. Add light soy sauce and dark soy sauce, toss everything around a little...then add sticky rice.

...and add a cup of chicken stock, and 1/3 cup of mushroom water (the one from soaking the mushroom)

Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes....

...and it would be really hard to say goodbye to this sticky deliciousness...really really hard, but try.

Stop eating the stuffing!
It has to go into the bird's ass.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Stuff sticky rice into the bird's cavity (I wanted to say ass), and add a bit of thinly sliced rehydrated dried orange peel in the cavity and in between the chicken's meat and skin too.

I gave my bird too much liposuction, I couldn't close it's ass! Arrgghhh! Please remember to leave some skin to allow your bird to seal the rice properly. Place chicken on a roasting pan, covered with foil, let it roast for 1 hour.

After an hour, uncover the bird, oh my!
But I want my bird's skin to be crispier, darker, tastier.
So I basted the skin with a mix of olive oil, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, dark soy sauce and some sugar.
Baste it good!
Roast it again uncovered until the skin turns deep-brown-beautiful.

You likey? You wanna go deeper?
If you really want it, and because it's the holidays, when I can be guilty and forget the health factor just a little bit...
Baste the bird again and roast it again until you get this...

A little burnt bits here and there...that's all I wanted.
Now my bird is all kinds of beautiful!

Sweet, sticky, savoury tasty skin.
Tender, moist, juicy meat.
Delicious stuffing bursting with flavors.
There was no way I could stop at one bowl. No-bloody-way!

But it's totally worth the leg numbing dance class I had to do after :p

Happy winter solstice festival everyone~
Get cooking.