Green bean omelette

The holiday season is always magical in many ways – a time to take a little break from the year to share meals, conversations and laughters with people you love most. Looking back upon the year, the uncountable meals shared together made us closer and very much stronger. To celebrate the last few days of 2013. We went home. Hong Kong, in a way, was going home for both of us, more for Michael because he was from there. Less for me because I lived there once.

We didn’t dine at fancy restaurants or spent romantic candle twinkling evenings over wine. Instead our holiday drifted down memory lane. We took slow trams watching the city goes by. We dined at old-style Hong Kong cafés. He told me that I must make up my mind quick when we ordered or the servers will give me a crude scolding for being slow to order. I know, I know… don’t hurry me! I whispered. If only I can read Chinese as fast as him, I wouldn’t miss out on so many good local food when I live here! You see, I don’t patronize these local gems, not that me and my expat friends are snobbish but because we had issues with Chinese characters. I still can’t read them fast enough.

We walked up the narrow roads, visited his high school (He pointed out the principle office where he visited so often)and roamed his university where he said is the best time of his life. The days were spent strolling through the neighborhood he once grew up in, telling me his stories of favorite hang out joints after school and the pranks the boys played on other classmates. I told him he’s a big bully. Over the afternoon, we sat at the café in the university campus and over a slow cup of coffee, He revealed cheekily how he would pick girls up at the library on the next building. Oh, I must say, his open liner was lame. I had laugh hardly imagining how the girl would roll her eyes at this annoying boy.

The places that we went were familiar to me. I always said I might have already met him 10 years ago along one of these streets or perhaps we had bumped into each other cramping together to share a table for a quick meal. I hoped he was one those those I’ve elbowed with my umbrella on a rainy day. After all, his playground was one long winding round away from Soho. If our path did cross, I know definitely I would snare at this irritating and smelly boy with his stinky friends.

When we came back to Singapore. I cooked him a simple omelette. Green bean omelette is an old favorite of mine. Spilling my side of childhood stories and the numerous time having this omelette over porridge after school. This omelette is home to me.

With the new year, I look forth to many more getaways. I always feel so incredibly lucky to have so many trips together. The trips and meals we shared made us very much stronger. And now, home is wherever we are together.

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Meatball porridge

Happy 2014! I hope you get to spend the holidays around a table full of good food, lots of champagne and most importantly with people you adore. I had a week full of good things – celebrations, traveling and gatherings with plenty of food. Everyday was a jolly bellies and I am still recovering from all the holiday indulgence (and festive toasts). It’s day 3 of the new year now and I am still heavy and reluctant to get back the usual routine. I am sure many of you, are too.

One of my goals for this new week of the year is to eat as light as possible to lose some of the belly space before the Chinese New Year season. It’s another two week long of feasting for all Chinese where we unite from where ever we are to have a meal together. And for the first meal of 2014, what more do you crave than comfort food, especially after almost a month-ful of big merry meals. What’s your to-go-to comfort food?

Meatball porridge is a nostalgic favorite of mine. A dish that I’ve grown up with. Memories of the many many uncountable bowls of meatball porridge as a kid and in college where I had made huge pots to last for many winter meals. A cup of rice goes a long way. It’s warming, filling and feels like home.

Meatball porridge is part soup and part meal somewhat filling enough to fuel your day. It is deliciously warming and comforting. Especially so if you are still suffering from the festive hangover. Your tummies will be grateful.

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Mint chocolate chip ice cream

Christmas is here in just a few days and there’s nothing that beats the magic of this holiday. The key to this jolly season is all about indulgence. If you’re anything like me, I am indulging more than I should. We can worry about the extra pound later. It goes on the New Year’s resolution list every year anyway. Doesn’t it always? And we have another 12 months ahead to resolve that extra pound issue.

As we rush off to bake the last batch of cookies and endless hours of prepping in the kitchen. Prepping for the big meal can be sometimes overwhelming but for now, what matters most are the priceless laughters and joy of sharing meals over the dinner table. My table is a happy place and I like it that way.

Words will be few here. Just stopping by to write you this mint chocolate chip ice cream for the dinner dessert before hitting back into the kitchen again. And also to wish you all a wonderful Merry Christmas! See you all again next year.

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Sticky maple gingerbread cake

I think you are going to love this cake. Sticky maple gingerbread cake is like the king of winter cakes. Goodnessly sticky, dark, moist and deliciously spicy. Humm…there is something just so comforting about it. 

Actually, I did not intend to do any baking this Christmas but since I am running around the kitchen past midnight making slumber tea. And since I’ve already started on Gingersnap cookies last week, it counts as already having one foot in the Christmas baking bonanza. I thought, what the heck, I might as well use up the molasses and spices. Frankly speaking, my spices are from last Christmas and I am not sure if they can hold up for another year.

I turn to oven dial to preheat.

It’s kind of nice to bake at midnight, sliding around the kitchen floor with fluffy slippers. The quiet charm of midnight baking is rather relaxing with no rush in the world. When you pull out cake or cookie pan from the oven, there’s this overwhelming sense of accomplishment almost like a runner’s ‘high’ after a 5 mile run so to speak. Is there ‘baking endorphin fix’? This feeling can be addictive. 
The scent of gingery spices bringing warmth. To me, it smells of Christmas and with that lingering in my hair and pyjamas when I go to bed, I feel like I might even meet Santa.
This sticky maple gingerbread cake is so easy. Easy as there’s no mixing bowl to wash up. Basically, it’s just melt, mix and bake; except for the icing bit. Well, that can wait until the morning I suppose.

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Gingersnap cookies

I’ve been a silent follower of a blog – The Sophisticated Gourmet. In his recent post, Kamran writes about heart break and baking. He said heartbreak knows no season or the holidays, just whenever it demanded – even baking scones at 6am. Indeed, baking does heals. His words touched me. His story reminded me of difficult moments in my life. When my heart sunk as deep as the ocean floors. The feeling of heaviness, leaving me breathless for days or even months. And in the mist of all the unhappiness, you’ll sometimes forget to smile and neglect the people closest to you. A reassuring smile to them, a sign to them that you’ll be fine eventually. I remind myself not to forget. In times like this, our mind tends to be clouded, when we choose to see life one way, letting little moments of joy, as little and brief as it is, to slip by. We forget that sometimes a little smile is all you need to feel better; and the people worrying about you too. To remind us that there’s always something wonderful on the other side. The faith; that life will turn out well.

It always does.
It will get better one day and with time, the pain will be eventually be bitter sweet memories. Our hearts will mend and we will learn to love harder, stronger than before. Kamran sums it all well, “we’re the ones that control the entire process. That’s what life is, in a nutshell. It’s about taking what we want out of our lives and learning from each and every one of our experiences.”. He’s right and it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to cry. Take as much time as you need. We heal at different rates.

I replied telling Kamran telling him it’s okay to bake even to bake at 3am. Whatever time it’s called for. Whenever you have the need. I’ve a little secret too. I baked when I feel life is not quite right or when work got tough. Butter, sugar and flour makes me feel grounded and the joy of putting all these together, beating, whisking, rolling, to make something wonderful is my escapade. As I was writing this, I’ve just finished rolling the last batch of cookies at 2am. 

The timer rang. The gingersnap cookies emerged out of the oven perfectly browned, filling the kitchen with smell of butter, ginger and cinnamon; the smell of Christmas to remember all the many years of happiness surrounding this festive season and family. I agree, sometimes to bake is all that is needed to take the pain away. Even if it was a fleeting moment of inner peace and stillness.
Who wouldn’t smile at the smell and sight of freshly baked Christmas cookies? Bake some cookies, make new friends. Be positive and share the happiness forward.

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Fig and whisky upside down cake

I was wondering lately. If I ever do live in such a beautiful city as Sapporo, what life will be?

For sure it be delightful waking up to cloudless skies. Landscapes that change with the folds of the seasons, from green to amber and white. Maybe I will want to live in a little cute cottage house. I could grow my own vegetables and have a garden. I will have all the time in the morning to enjoy a cup of morning coffee. Cuddle up with a few dogs over the fireplace during winter in the evening. There will be plenty of books to read till I doze off into the starry night. Maybe I’ll dabble into art; paint or make some craft work. Then twice or three times a week I will head to town for fresh ingredients. The adventures of the market oh, there’s so much ingredients I can explore. Like the big corn or juicy red tomatoes, they are delicious to eat them on its own. There are fresh affordable local seafood stores at every corner – the big crabs or scallops will be perfect for a winter grill. I will also hunt for desserts. Perhaps it’s a girl thing – I can’t help getting excited with the many bakeries and pastries to try. They are always so pretty. The lightest cream puffs you’ll ever have.
On the way back, I’ll swing by to the deep blue pacific ocean. Gaze upon the lapping ocean breathing in the fresh air until I am recharged or until my stomach starts to grumble telling me it’s time to go home and cook. I am sure I can cook and write better. That will be nice, isn’t it? Oh, and I nearly forgot telling you about the Hokkaido fresh milk. It’s rich creaminess tasted unlike any milk that I’ve tasted throughout my entire life. It makes me wonder the real taste of fresh milk. I was puzzled but that’s okay because, I can then have soft serve ice creams everyday for breakfast.
On weekends, I could visit the whisky distillery and get a glimpse of this time honored traditional.  I’ll discover my favorite blend. I figured out I like my whisky fruity with little or no peat. The Yoichi distillery is one of Japan’s most prestigious and possibly the most beautiful in the country. It all started in 1918, when Mr. Masataka Taketsuru (Nikka Whisky founder)  journeyed to Glasgow to study distillation at a number of classic Scotch distilleries. When he returned to Japan he established the Nikka brand and built the Yoichi distillery. You could almost feel impeccable commitment of Teketsuru to Whisky. I reckon it’s likewise to people who found their passion – work no longer feels like a vehicle to sustain but every moment of work is a journey that pulls you closer to what you loved and live for. It represents you. I will visit Mr. Masataka Taketsuru humble house. I will be happy to live there too.
Yoichi distillery barrel
Yoichi distillery,
Nikka Whisky
Now, let’s make some whisky cake.

Part 1 of the Nikka Whisky, Asahi Japan tour: Tokyo Fried Chicken + Miso Coleslaw
Part 2 of the Nikka Whisky, Asahi Japan tour: Ratatouille on hotplate with egg

3 Tablespoon brown sugar
3 Tablespoon honey
3 Tablespoon (cut into cubes)
10-15 black figs

Cake batter
125g granulated sugar
150g unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
110g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
75g ground almonds
3 eggs, at room temperature
40mL milk
2 shots of whisky (optional)

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease an 8 inch pan or skillet. To the bottom of the baking pan, add the butter cubes and drizzle the honey over and sprinkle the brown sugar. Remove the stems and the bottom of the figs and slice into rounds or quarters. Arrange the fig on top of the butter-sugar. Set pan aside.

In an electric mixer, beat butter, vanilla and remaining sugar until pale and fluffy, about 5 mins. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then the milk and whisky. Sift flour, baking powder, ground almonds, cardamom and 1/2 tsp salt into butter mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated.

Spoon batter over the figs, and level with the back of a spoon. Bake cake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 minutes, then cover with baking paper to prevent over-browning and bake for a further 30 minutes. You can test with a skewer inserted into the centre. The cake is ready when the skewer comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Let the cake settle for a minute or so, then run a knife around the cake and turn out onto a plate.

Do not let the cake cool or you will not get it out of the pan. Be careful, as the fruit and glaze is still quite hot and will burn!

Serve cake warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. If you are serving later, you can microwave the cake slice for 10 secs until it’s warm to touch.

till next post, ss.

Disclosure: This experience was sponsored by Nikka Whisky, Asahi and Maybev Singapore. Though for a different purpose but as always, all opinions written are purely my own. I am incredibly grateful for opportunities like these that allow Foodmanna to continue sharing delicious stories with you.

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Ratatouille on hotplate with egg

I love traveling on red eye flights. Because most people will go to sleep or at least try to do so; that means the cabin will be kind of quiet especially when the stewardess turn down the lights. The other reason is to watch the sunrise–watching the distant orange egg yolk glow until the the sky is bright shooting sparkles off the endless blue sea underneath. I always find it breathtaking. Our flight landed early in the morning at Narita Airport. An hour later, we were up in the sky again to Hokkaido. By then, I was extremely sleepy. I was on a not-my-usual airliner and the petite seats seems to only cater for their petite people. This time I really regret claiming the first sentence I’ve just wrote.

12 hours later from where we started and after another long bus ride to get to where we suppose to be. We finally stop for a proper first meal. Although lunch was a quick bento-type-business lunch rather than a somehow expected feast, we were all happy to dig into a tray with neat compartments of sashimi and temperas. Everything was pretty and delightful. Even the unidentifiable pickles (It was beetroot red and some almost neon yellow stuff top with little fried sticky fish and micro greens) were great too. Of course, we were offered beers to wash them down being on their home ground at the beautiful Autumn garden of Asahi Brewery Park.

asahi brewery japan
Asahi Brewery beer
By then, after all food and alcohol began to kick in, the only logical thing to do was hot shower and bed. At the tour, it seems quite a task to stay focus. My brains kept drifting away but the boys (the other people I’ve traveled with) paid great attention to our Japanese Asahi tour guide. She was cute with a voice so sweet and demure that will makes ice-cream melt in winter. She guided us through the brewery, along the corridors that oversee the vast production line, always walking backwards so that she face us as she talks all the time (I never thought that walking backwards for so long is possible, it’s fasinating). I never caught her once without smiling (I can never smile for a straight hour without my face feeling cramp). I swear to be more like them when I get home. I am sure my boyfriend will be a very happy man. 
The best part comes after the tour where we were ushered into the tasting room. Seriously, I am not the type of girl who would go to a bar and order a bucket. I have a tendency to let my glass sit for too long until they are warm until they are not very attractive to drink. But the beers I tasted at the Asahi brewery itself was super crisp, super clear and super dry. Maybe this got to do with drinking from the source, as they say, without them being shipped round the world. With their high-end production technology I don’t believe this is the case. Maybe it was the super cool frozen beer tap. The beer taste really good; The beer foam (or crown) which I always find in the way, was malty, thick and smooth as satin. I finished my glass and quickly asked for another round. 
On our first dinner we were presented a veggie restaurant. Imagine this, after traveling for X hours, in the cramp plane seat, transiting in airport, touring a huge brewery; sleepless, tired and hungry. I can collective say that nobody is in the mood of zen food. I wasn’t quite pleased. Everyone grumbled a bit but we all went along. After all that disgruntles, to our most unexpected surprise, the veggie dishes were in fact very good. The dishes were simple. We even have a platter of boiled potatoes and some raw green stuff; and they tasted nothing like we ever taste before. You might argue, a potato is a potato. But here, I taste freshness, I can almost taste the water, the fertile soil and the good vibe in that little morsel; like they have grown as a ‘happy’ veg with music playing throughout the farm and farmers tells them stories, something like what they do to the wagyu beef, as if they were just dug out from the soil a moment ago. I was blown away. It made asking for any form of meat a crime, a disrespect.
Now, my heart longs for the taste of fresh organic veg again. The cold breeze against my face, the rustles of autumn leaves and wearing warm leather boots.
Part 1 of the Nikka Whisky, Asahi Japan tour: Tokyo Fried Chicken + Miso Coleslaw 
Part 3 of the Nikka Whisky, Asahi Japan tour: Fig and whisky upside down cake
~Serves 4 person as main meal.~
Cooking Notes: I like my veggies chunkier, If you wish, you can chop them into ½ inch cubes. Please use organic veggies if possible or any happy looking veg.
1 medium or 2 small eggplant, cut into chunks
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red capsicum, cut in chucks 
1 yellow capsicum, cut in chucks
3 ripe medium tomatoes, cut chunks
1 medium yellow squash, cut chunks
1 medium green squash, cut chunks
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbs tomato puree
Pinch of dried chili flakes
Few sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbs torn fresh basil leaves
4 eggs, organic please
Salt and pepper to taste
Really quality bread to mop up all the goodness

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the eggplant into the pan, and cook over medium heat until the sides are golden. Add a bit more oil if the eggplant absorbs all the oil and sticks to the bottom of the pan. Remove the eggplant when done and set aside.

In the same pot, pour in 2 more tablespoons olive oil. Add onions and cook until slightly brown and soften. Add a teaspoon of sugar to give it a nice caramel taste. Then, add the garlic, thyme, dried chile flakes, and a bit more salt. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste. You can add the remaining veggies at this point, one by one, stirring for a minute in-between each addition.Cook for 10 minutes longer, then stir in eggplant and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more, until all the vegetables are soft. 
The ratatouille is now ready to serve. You can serve it as it is, stirring in chopped basil and sprinkle fresh thyme leaves and more extra virgin olive oil, to taste. This can be serve warm over pasta or lentils (any grains).
For individual hotplate version, when ready to serve, heat hotplate till is smoking hot. Add some olive oil and ¼ of the prepared ratatouille. Spread it evenly and let them sizzle for a bit, then push the veggie to the side to create an opening in the middle. Crack an egg in the middle. Transfer hotplate to the wooden base and sprinkle with chopped basil and thyme leaves. Repeat with the other servings. Serve immediately with some good bread.

Last notes:
I can’t read Japanese but this is an international site to find out how to get to Veggyの家.
For international visitors, check out these beautiful hot plates: 
Till next post, ss.
Disclosure: This experience was sponsored by Nikka Whisky, Asahi and Maybev Singapore. Though for a different purpose but as always, all opinions written are purely my own. I am incredibly grateful for opportunities like these that allow Foodmanna to continue sharing delicious stories with you.

Tokyo fried chicken + Miso coleslaw

You need a vacation to recover from a vacation. Tell me I’m not the only one to agree! Touring Japan for 5 days coming back tired, rounder and unfazed. I literally need another 5 days to recoup. Each morning, I’ve coax myself out of bed early with multiple alarms set at 15 minutes interval on my phone; just to make sure I don’t miss the flight or train. Each day’s itinerary was to travel to different cites (with my ever bulging samsonite) exploring picturesque cities and visiting distilleries. Besides the waking-up-at-sunrise part. Everything else was fabulous. Our host from Nikka, Asahi and Maybev Singapore made sure that all of us were well fed and well drank – very very generously.
I’ll share with you the city experiences over the next few posts. But here is Tokyo first – our last day where we had half a day to explore this magnificent metropolis city. Tokyo is a love affair. Who wouldn’t be hooked once you been there? The food was amazing and we had a game plan for it. Meal after meals, we cramp as much food we can consume on our last day. Until our waist expanded 2 inches thicker just before the real dinner. Yes, we still have a big farewell dinner from our host.
Language was a barrier but not a huge problem. We either point to the plastic display of food outside the shop. Or we played by faith; either watching what our neighbors ate or pointing at the characters on the menu and say “itchi” (one). We sure did have plenty of wrong ones – like my extra large ramen came with a side of fried rice. The wrong by which I meant is not giving the food I’ve ordered the glory it deserves. I am never able to finish a bowl of noodles and rice while I’ve got a few other meals on the agenda after this. Nevermind that, we figured, because we might not ever find this little gem again and because the odds are always good – like my big oyster soba and my rice cracker snack from the old man who took so much pride to roast them.

We visited temples. Drank the water from the blessed fountain for good health. We walked the streets, the alley ways down to glitzy Ginza. And continue to graze our way through the glorious Mitsukoshi supermarkets. We acted like kids again or maybe more so like irritating tourists, we all have food in our hands, either stick form, a plastic plate or some taster on toothpick we randomly picked and pop in our mouths. Lauderee’s macaroons, ice-cream, matcha tea scone, some yakitori, my fermented seafood parts (sorry, I didn’t know what is it). We just wanted to have it all.

On our last dinner in Japan, we were hosted with amazing eel dinner. A restaurant that specialized in eel from nose-to-tail kind of way. We tasted tasty eel inerts, toasted eel skin and crunchy eel spine bone deep fried till tawny golden.  All these washed down with more Asahi beers, whiskies and giant bottles of sake. Late into the night, with too many rounds of drinks, on our way back to the hotel, we remembered to stopped by at our last stop – Ramen shop. A row of stools are lined up along a wood-laminate counter. We dig out some jingles, toss a coin to the vending machine and randomly press a button. Passing the slip to the ramen chef when we got our sits. From then on, there were only slurping sounds and warm tummies. 

We did discussed the possibilities to bring home a few kilos of the primed Wagyu beef too. They say they keep the best within the country. But didn’t want to risk the disappointment of customs confiscated them. That will break my heart for a long long time. So, instead, on the last minute, I dashed to the supermarket and brought a box of Kyoho grapes, plus a few boxes of persimmons, plus lots of strawberries and a box of figs.
Oh man, I now regret the big juicy Japanese tomatoes! 
Tokyo Fried Chicken is an inspiration from Rick Poon’s Instagram. I’ve hadn’t tried the real Tokyo Fried Chicken in CA, but after eating my way through Tokyo, I imagined how they will taste like.

Part 2 of the Nikka Whisky, Asahi Japan tour: Ratatouille on hotplate with egg
Part 3 of the Nikka Whisky, Asahi Japan tour: Fig and whisky upside down cake

Serves 4 person as sides
2 tablespoon white miso
4 tablespoon mayo
1 tablespoon sesame paste
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Okonomiyaki Sauce, optional
2 tablespoon sugar
2½ tablespoon soy sauce
½ small red cabbage, shredded
½ small white cabbage, shredded
2 tablespoons grated Spanish onion
1 fennel, shredded
Handful of arugula, optional
Sesame seeds
Handful of coriander, roughly chopped
Place all the shredded vegetable in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Combine the dressing together and toss gently to combine. Serve on a platter.
Note: The coleslaw can be made in advance, tossing the dressing just before serving. It will also hold up for a good few hours and even for lunch the next day.
Serves 4 person, 2 drumstick per person
8 Chicken drumstick
1/4 cup sake
2 tablespoon mirin
1 head garlic, peel the skin
2 tablespoon ginger, peel the skin
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoon white miso
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon potato starch
1 tablespoon bonito flakes
For Frying
1 egg white
2 cups flour
1 cup potato starch
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Enough Oil for frying
Lemon wedges
In a blender, Blend all the ingredients together for the marinade. Place the chicken drumsticks in a large ziplock bag and pour the marinate over and mix a bit. Let the chicken marinate overnight in the fridge or for at least 4 hours.
When ready for frying, In a heavy bottomed pot or wok, add enough oil to cover the chicken (about 2 inch). Heat until oil reaches 180 degrees C or 360 degrees F.
Add the egg white to the marinated chicken and mix it up. Mix the flour, potato starch, baking powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Line another a baking sheet with 2 sheets of paper towels.
Drench the chicken drumstick, one by one in the seasoned flour. Fry the chicken in batches until it’s golden brown and the chicken is cooked through, turning occasionally.Transfer the fried chicken to the paper towel lined baking sheet. If you want the chicken to stay crispy longer, you can fry the chicken a second time, until it’s slightly darker. Serve with lemon wedges.
For perfect golden brown drumsticks
For bigger drumstick, you might want to turn down the heat midway so that the exterior will not burn by the time the inside is cooked through.
Why I use potato starch and baking powder?
Potato starch gives a crispier lighter skin with mix for frying with flour. And baking powder creates tiny,  air pockets that bubble up as the batter hits the hot oil, making it crisper and crunchier, but they also break up the thick layer of batter, reducing its toughness.
-till next post, ss.
Disclosure: This experience was sponsored by Nikka Whisky, Asahi and Maybev Singapore. Though for a different purpose but as always, all opinions written are purely my own. I am incredibly grateful for opportunities like these that allow Foodmanna to continue sharing delicious stories with you.

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Crispy brussels sprouts with Szechuan peppers and duck fat

I am sitting on my desk writing this post; all geared up with my winter socks and high boots. Tonight, a group of us will be traveling together to Japan where we are spending a the next five days visiting whisky and beer breweries. There’s Tokyo, Hokkaido and Miyagikyo on the itinerary, It sounds so exciting already. But before I leave, I thought I might want to share this brussels sprouts recipe with you while waiting to head for the airport. Because I also decided not to lug my laptop all around.

This brussels sprout recipes I am sharing with you is the kind of perfect light meal before the flight. It’s my go to recipe when I need a snack-ish kind of meal. Usually I will cook this as a side dish or for a light supper to nimble after work with some wine and telly. Not many devour on brussels sprout but when they’re charred on the outside, the leaves are crispy and smoky while the inside tender and juicy. They’re simply amazing and addicting when they are cooked this way. Go ahead and try them, you’ll be hooked, I’m sure. See you next week.

If you want to follow me to the insides of those Japanese Whisky Breweries, follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

500g Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons duck fat, melted (Duck fat is the best but if you are concern, use butter or olive oil)
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon Szechuan pepper,
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

To finish

Cayenne pepper
Zest of of 1 lime

Heat skillet with duck fat till very hot, add the brussels sprouts, facing down. Let it char for two minutes or until browned. Flip them over and cook for another minute. Turn down the heat to low medium, add the Szechuan peppers, chili flakes garlic, sugar, and fish sauce. Add a little water if necessary and stir fry for another minute or two until fragrant and until water is absorbed. Season with sea salt and black pepper.

Serve brussels sprouts finished with some cayenne pepper and lime zest.

Till next post. ss

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Pasta with asparagus and bacon + Giveaway

Not because I didn’t know how to cook, but because, like many of us, I thought cooking a normal meal for myself took too much of an effort, and didn’t quite make sense. Especially when I don’t have my audience to eat with me. Most of my weekends are kept for elaborate meals. Spending time cooking and dining with my favorite person. But sometimes, I am catch dining alone. Like this weekend, where he went back home to Hong Kong and I am off to Japan tomorrow for Whisky brewery visits. Plus it’s a Public Holiday over here today. 48 hours of alone time. That’s three meals alone to tackle! 
How often do you cook for yourself? Alone? 

I read this book recently and thought I should share with you – Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant : Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone by Jenni Ferrari-Adler. It’s a collection of 26 food writers like Nora Ephron, Laurie Colwin, Jami Attenberg, Ann Patchett, and M. F. K. Fisher delighting readers about dining alone. Reflecting on their secret meals and recipes for one person when no one else is looking. Part solace, part celebration, part handbook, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant offers a wealth of company, inspiration, and humor – and, finally, recipes that require no division or subtraction.

Many of us (amateur and professional, the latter group more so) actually detest spending time to cook a proper meal for themselves. Now, more often than not, when I have time, I’ll try to cook something nice for myself, on a nice plate with napkins and proper wine glass – with huge glass of wine of course. After cooking for myself a few times. By this, I mean proper meals, not microwave, but actually picking up the skillet and turn on the stove. I find solitary meals are very enjoyable. And it’s a great feeling to know that you’ve fed yourself very well. As the famous beauty ad saying “Because you’re worth it!” If, sooner or later, we all face the prospect of eating alone, then Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant provides the perfect set of instructions. I hope this book inspires you to cook for yourself too. Please enter to win this. I will be giving away this book to 3 person winners. Use the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to enter. The book giveaway will be given to a random user anywhere in the world. picked by the widget; Contest ends November 12.

Recipes for one must be quick and tasty with the least items to wash up. This pasta breakfast is one I’ve kept falling back to with moments where I had big night and waking up famish. You can swap the asparagus with any veg you have on have. Brussel sprouts, thinly sliced, zucchinis, infact any vegetables or fresh herbs you have on hand will do; or even swap cream for creme fraiche. Just don’t skip the bacon and garlic.
Pasta with Asparagus and Bacon

I am still learning to portion cooking for one and for the happy fact that I can cook in pyjamas. So there’s a lot of pasta in the skillet. That’s okay, at least I know I got dinner covered.

Another simple pasta for one: Pasta with Fennel, Arugula & Lemon

~ Serves 2 or 1 hungry me ~
1 bunch of asparagus, sliced thinly
4 bacon rashers, sliced into small strips
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced (I doubled the garlic from 2 to 4)
6 ounces pasta (tagliatelle, linguine, spaghetti etc.)
1/4 cup creme fraiche, to taste
zest of one large lemon, juice of ½ the lemon reserved
1/4 cup reserved pasta water
Sea salt and pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano to finish

Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a boil.
Snap the woody bottoms off the asparagus stalks and throw them away (or keep them in a freezer for asparagus soup later). Slice the asparagus as thinly as you can at an angle.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add the asparagus slices, give it a stir and let it cook, let the side brown nicely undisturbed for 5 minutes, then add the bacon and continue frying until the bacon is browned and fat rendered. Give it a stir, turn the heat down to medium, add the garlic, and another splash of oil if the pan looks dry. Cook this for another minute or two. In the meantime, bring a pot of water to boil. Heavily salted and start cooking the pasta.

Turn of the heat and to the asparagus and bacon, add the creme fraiche, lemon zest and stir to coat. Loosen the sauce with lemon juice it another toss.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4-1/2 cup of the pasta water. Add the noodles to the creamy asparagus pan and toss to coat, adding a pinch or two of salt, pepper, and pasta water as needed.

Serve each portion with a generous grate of the parmesan.

If you like, like I did, poached an runny egg and crack it over the pasta.

– till next post. ss.

Use the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to enter. The book giveaway will be given to a random user anywhere in the world. picked by the widget; Contest ends November 12.


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