February 12th, 2012
Evie, my cousin in law and Lynda my other sister in law are fanatics when it comes to Vietnamese desserts, especially this traditional banana and tapioca dessert. It’s rather simple to make and although any banana will do, there’s a special type of banana we refer to as the “angel banana” that really lifts the dish. The only problem is as they are an uncommon variety, it’s rare to find them. They’re intensely golden on the inside, with a silky thin peel. The size of your thumb at most, they pack alot of flavour so you can imagine the sheer joy I had when my mum found them! Sorry it took so long to finally do this post Evie and Lynda, but I had to wait for the right banana to come by to make it truly special!
Estimated Cooking Time - 15 minutes (excluding pre-soak)
- 3 just ripe sugar/lady finger banana cut in half. If you had the angel bananas, they can remain unsliced.
- 4 strands of sweet potato noodle, broken up into 2cm bits
- 1 Tbps of Tapioca pearls
- 1/2 cup of water
- 2 Tbps of sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 4-5 Tbps of coconut creme, depending on your preference for richness in the dessert. For a richer dish, simply add more coconut creme and 1/2 tsp of sugar.
- Sprinkle of crushed toasted peanuts or a nut of your choice.
- Pre-soak the tapioca pearls and sweet potato noodle separately in a bowl for 1/2 hour beforehand.
- Dissolve the salt and sugar together in a bowl. Add this liquid to a pan with the banana and sweet potato noodle.
- Bring to the boil and return back to a low simmer. Add the tapioca pearls and coconnut creme and gently stir making sure you don’t bruise the banana.
- Serve hot in winter and ice cols in summer for a wonderful dessert after any asian meal. Garnish with peanuts or a nut of your choice.
February 2nd, 2012
I’m at home with mum today, it’s freezing cold in the middle of summer, I’m feeling ravenous and mum insisted we make some savoury crepes. So here’s to mum’s orders!
Estimated Cooking Time - 60 minutes (includes 1/2 hour marinade time)
- 2 cups of rice flour
- 1 cup of corn flour
- 1 Tbsp of sugar
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1 tsp of tumeric
- 300 ml of milk
- 1/2 cup of scallions/spring onions
- Oil for Pan fry
- Crushed chilli and finely diced garlic (optional)
Fish Sauce Dressing – If you didn’t want to make the fish sauce, you could always serve the crepes with sweet chilli sauce as the faster alternative.
- 1 cup of vinegar
- 1 cup of fish sauce
- 2 cups of sugar
- 2 cups of water
The Filling – The filling is really up to you, just add what you like to the crepes, as long as they are savoury ingredients. Here’s what I used.
- 1 cup pre-cooked Mung beans or beans of your choice
- 1 cup of cooked shredded chicken
- 1 cup of bean sprouts or shredded carrots or khol rabi or any crunchy veggies of your choice (except capsicum as they will be runny when cooked and destroy the crispiness of the crepe)
- Handfuls of fresh herbs such as mint, coriander, basil to serve with the pancakes
- In bowl, sift the corn flour, rice flour, sugar, salt and tumeric and mix well. Add the milk and scallions and whisk for 5 minutes or till the crepe mixture is smooth and velvety. You should have a rich yellow batter. Leave the batter to marinade and expand for 1/2 hour. This is important if you want to achieve a crispy crepe.
Fish Sauce Dressing
- In a pot, add the fish sauce, sugar, vinegar and water and whisk. Bring up to medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes and leave to cool. Ensure all your windows are open as it can be pretty pungent… all worth it though. Add crushed chilli and diced garlic if you wish, but these ingredients are only optional.
- In a hot pan, drizzle some oil and bring to medium heat. Scoop one large ladle of the crepe batter into the pan and spread the batter evenly around the pan to form a round crepe. Add the filling onto one side of the pan and cook for 2 minutes or till the crepe can be flipped .
- Flip the unfilled side of the crepe over onto itself to form a crescent like shape and pan fry for another 3-5 minutes till the crepes are cooked. The cakes are ready when the batter is nice and crispy on the outside yet tender on the inside.
- Repeat this step until you have run out of the batter. Depending on the size of the pan, you could get about 5-6 pancakes of out this mixture.
- Serve pipping hot with the fish sauce dressing and with your favourite herbs.
If you were having a party and wanted to impress your guest with this, you could prepare everything in advance and pan fry the crepes at the table if you have one of those portable stoves.
January 31st, 2012
Ong Chanh, a family friend and I have a mutual understanding for one another. He is a keen fisherman who would be more than happy to share his catch, as long as I cooked his favorite dish.
Chanh and a couple of his friends had brought back some fresh shrimps from the coast yesterday and what better way to show off his fishermanship than marrying up his catch with the velvety taste of a red bean congee.
Estimated Cooking Time – 45 minutes
- 1 can of red beans of your choice ( I used Azuri beans)
- 1 cup of rice, pre-soaked overnight
- 4 cups of boiling water
- 2 cups of warm milk
- 500g of fresh uncooked shrimps
- 4 Tbsp of sugar
- 1 Tbsp of salt
- 1 tsp of pepper
- 1 Tbsp of olive oil
- 1 tsp of crushed garlic
- Mint or coriander for garnish
- Drain the pre-soaked rice and pour into a pot. Add the boiling water and simmer on medium heat stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.
- Drizzle the oil in a pan and bring up to medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and shrimp and stir for 10 seconds. Sprinkle the salt, sugar and pepper onto the shrimp and continue to toss the shrimps around the pan for another 10 -15 minutes. The shrimps are cooked when they have curled up and you can see a glossy shine from the caramelisation of the sugar. You should expect a bright orange colour from the shrimps.
- Return to the rice porridge and check that the rice is soft (melt in your mouth softness). Lower the heat and pour in the milk and red beans and stir. Simmer on lower heat for another 60 seconds.
- To serve, pour the porridge into a bowl, top with the caramelised shrimp and garnish with a herb of your choice on top.
January 27th, 2012
It’s 3am in the morning and after a long battle with my little boy’s relentless crying, I felt really peckish. I went to the pantry to see what I can find… instant noodles would be too heavy… chocolate will see me bouncing off walls and sour cream and chives chips isn’t much of an option either. I needed something fresh, soothing and light … time for another culinary experiment!
Estimated Cooking Time – 10 minutes
- 1/2 fresh mango
- 3 strands of sweet potato noodle, broken to 1cm pieces in length
- 1/2 Tbsp of condense milk (1 Tbsp if you like your desserts really sweet)
- 20 mls of boiling water
- 1/4 cup of ice cold water
- 1/4 cup of boiling water
- In a bowl, add the sweet potato strands and pour 1/4 cup of boiling water into the bowl. Microwave on a high setting for 2 minutes.
- In another bowl, add the condensed milk to 20mls of boiling water and stir till the milk is dissolved into the liquid.
- Add the chopped mango to the milky soup and add the 1/4 cup of icy cold water. If you like your desserts really sweet, you can add another 1 Tbsp of sugar.
- Take the cooked noodles out of the microwave, strain the hot liquid and run cold water over the noodles to cool it down. Drain well and add to the milky soup.
- You can garnish this dessert with toasted sesame seeds or as it is. For a real wake up call, add crushed ice!
January 26th, 2012
With two kids to chase around these days, I rarely get the chance to spend it with my gorgeous mum. Mum is the reason why I love cooking and more importantly the reason why I love eating. Today, mum and I are making our favourite vietnamese dessert…. Banh Bot Bang, which is a sweet tapioca dessert.
Estimated Cooking Time - 60 minutes
- 375g of tapioca pearls or seeded tapioca (you can get these fro your asian grocery store)
- 200g of mung beans or split lentils soaked in water for 30 minutes beforehand
- 2 Tbsp of white sugar
- 2 cups of brown/raw sugar
- 100ml of water
- 100ml of coconut milk
- toasted sesame seeds for garnish
- 20ml of vegetable oil
- Drain the lentils/mung beans and pour into a pot. To that, add the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Once the mixture reaches boiling point, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 – 30 minutes dependent on the size of the beans. The mixture is ready when it becomes dough like in texture and can be rolled into balls.Roll into bite sized balls and set aside to cool.
The Coconut Dressing
- Pour the coconut milk and 2 Tbsp of sugar into a bowl and mix well. Cover with cling wrap and microwave the mixture for 30 seconds and whisk again. Once whisked, microwave again for another 30 seconds and whisk again. Repeat this step for another 2 times.
- Pour the tapioca pearls into a bowl and pour boiling water over the pearls till the water is just slightly level with the pearls. The instant hot water will make the pearls expand in size and will stick to each other and form a dough like mixture.
- With a spoon, mix the pearls around and knead the mixture softly with your finger tips, so the pearls become dough like and feel flexible. Cover the mixture with cling wrap and set aside for 15 minutes.
- Uncover the cling wrap and add 2 Tbsp of boiling water to the dough mixture again to loosen the dough. This will help in separating the dough into little sections to wrap around the filling above.
Making the Balls
- Take abit of the oil and rub it around your hands to prevent the dough sticking to your hands. Take a Tbsp of the tapioca dough and roll it around your palms till you form a ball. Squash the balls between your hands so it forms a sheet. Put the bean ball mixture onto this sheet and wrap the tapioca dough around the bean ball. Place in a steamer. You’ve just made your first tapioca ball!
- Repeat this step till you have used up all the dough and bean mixture. Steam the balls for 15 – 20 minutes. The balls are ready once the dough becomes transparent. Once cooled, the dough will decome slightly opaqgue again.
- To serve, arrange the balls out on to a plate, drizzle with the cocount dressing and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. This dish is to die for!