Red Bean Congee with Shrimp

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

Serves 4


  • 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


  1. Drain the pre-soaked rice and pour into a pot. Add the boiling water and simmer on medium heat stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. To serve, pour the porridge into a bowl, top with the caramelised shrimp and garnish with a herb of your choice on top.


Vietnamese Prawn Salad

Since her first birthday, we haven’t really had a chance to celebrate Bella’s birthday till now. Spurred on by her ever so talened aunty Dung, who is a super star when it comes to baking all things sweet and delicious… we had a little bbq for Bells and her little friends.

Bells was spoilt like a princess, with her very own dessert table, rainbow velvet cake, pinata and her grandmother’s awesome prawn salad! (I’ve posted up a special edition to show off Dung’s baking talents under Aunty Dung’s Dessert Table. You can also check out her blog at

Estimated Preparation Time - 90 mins

 (excluding 4 hour marinade beforehand) 

Serves 20


2 kgs of finely sliced carrots (julienne)

2 kg of julienne white asian radish

1 kg of thinly sliced red capsicum

1/2 kg of thinly sliced  celery

4 cups of Vietnamese mint (or a herb of your choice, either mint or basil)

1/2Litre of vinegar

4 cups of sugar

1 Litre of water

1 kg of pork fillet

1.5 kg of pre-cooked peeled prawns

Fish sauce

1 cup of lemon juice

2 cups of sugar

1 cup of fish sauce

1/4 cup of crushed/sliced chilli (optional)


  1. In a large bowl, pour in the 1/2 L of vinegar, 1 L of water, 4 cups of sugar and whisk till the sugar dissolves. This becomes your vinegarette.
  2. Pour the carrots, radish, celery and capsicum into the vinegarette and marinade the vegetables for 4 hours.
  3. In a pot, pour 1.5L of boiling water and add the pork fillet, 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of sugar. Gently boil the pork fillet until the meat is cooked. This should take about 20 minutes depending on the size of your pork fillet. Ensure you don’t over cook the meat, as the texture will be dry and bland.
  4. Once cooked, allow the pork fillet to cool and slice into bite size pieces.
  5. After the 4 hour marinade, take the vegetables out of the marinade and drain well. To achieve this, it’s best to allow the vegetables to drain in a colander for 1/2 hour.
  6. Once drained, combine the vegetables, pre cooked prawns, sliced pork fillet and herbs. Mix well and set aside.

Fish Sauce Dressing

    1. In a bowl, pour in the sugar, lemon juice and fish sauce and whisk till the sugar is dissolved. Add crushed chilli or sliced chilli if you like abit of heat.
    2. Pour the fish sauce dressing into the vegetables, prawns and pork salad above and toss well. Serve with crush peanuts or any nut of your choice. If you’re allergic to nuts, ground up toasted rice is also a delicious alternative.

Stuffed Squid with Lemon Thyme

I’ve been dreading this day for alittle while now… today is my daughter’s 4 years immunisation day. The final two shots she gets before she heads off to school and as the nurse eloquently put it… “this will protect you from the other children’s nasty germs” heheheh. The older they get, the harder it becomes because unlike the previous ones, she knows exactly what’s coming. After alot of tears, wallowing and pain, my little Bella got toasted marshmallows and I made stuffed squid to celebrate! The shots are a confirmation that my little toddler is now a little girl!

Estimated Cooking Time – 45 minutes

Serves 2


  • 1/2 cup or aborio rice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 Tbps of butter
  • 1 Tbps of chopped lemon rind
  • 2 sprigs of lemon thyme
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 squid tubes
  • 1 can of tomato puree
  • 2 anchovy fillets finely diced
  • 1 tps of sugar
  • 1 Tbsp of Olive oil
  • sprig of oregano
  • 1/4 cup of chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup of chopped parsley


Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F.

The Tomato Sauce

  1. Bring a pan up to high heat, add some olive oil, the minced garlic, anchovies and stit fry for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the tomato puree and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and herbs and turn off the heat. Cover the pan with a lid to keep the sauce warm.

The Squid

  1. In a bowl, add the the crushed garlic, rice, olive oil, sprigs of lemon thyme and water and mix well.
  2. Put the rice mixture into the microwave and cook for 10-15 minutes depending on the strength of your microwave. Take the rice out and and stir at every 4- 5 minute intervals. The rice is cooked when it goes from hard to a fluffy and soft texture.
  3. Remove the crushed garlic and lemon thyme sprigs and fold in the butter.
  4. Fill the squid tube with the rice mixture and grill in the oven for 5- 10 minutes. The squid is ready when the flesh stiffens up and is no longer soft and plyable.
  5. To serve, reheat the tomato sauce and pour into a pasta dish before topping it with the stuffed squid.


Mango Dessert

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

Serves 1


  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. In another bowl, add the condensed milk to 20mls of boiling water and stir till the milk is dissolved into the liquid.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. You can garnish this dessert with toasted sesame seeds or as it is. For a real wake up call, add crushed ice!

Banh Bot Bang – Tapioca Balls

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

Serves 4-5 


  • 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


The Filling

  1. 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

  1. 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.

The Dough

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

    1. 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!
    2. 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.
    3. 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!