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Preview: Diary of a novice cook

Diary of a novice cook

Not quite a food blog...

Updated: 2018-03-07T12:31:36.603-08:00


Chicken in gochujang sauce with rice paper or What I did with Wandering Chopsticks' rice paper


A few months ago I won a prize in a draw and accordingly received two packets of banh trang (rice paper) from Wandering Chopsticks.The first packet (tapioca rice paper) were gone within a week so I didn't have a chance to take any photos...OK I admit that's a lie. Truth is, I haven't rolled rice paper for a wee while so my expertise has gone downhill. My practice rolls were either so fat that the fillings burst out half way or too thin that there is virtually no fillings at all. Besides, the hubby kept laughing at my attempt of making a decent roll to be photographed so I thought I'd rather wait until I make a photograph-able decent-ish roll.This lunch time, whilst browsing for recipes, an idea came to my mind. I love Korean food and obviously Vietnamese food, why not combine the two and make a fusion.So this is what I came up with.Recipe for dakgalbi (chicken in gochujang sauce) was inspired by Sue from My Korean Kitchen's dakgalbiSue's recipe includes sesame leaves and rice cake, which can only be found in Korean shop so I came up with my own adapted version of dakgalbiSauce:Gochujang - 2tbspWater - 2tbspSugar - 1/2 tbspChopped Garlic - 1 cloveHoney - 1tbspSoy sauce - 1tspMix all ingredients together and leave asideIngredients (for 1)Chicken breast - 1, sliced into thin stripsChinese cooking wine - 1tbspAssorted veg - anything you fancy really, I use 1 courgette, 1 stick of celery, 1 carrot, all chopped into thin stripsLettuce and mixed herbs (I use mint and coriander from the garden)Method:Marinate chicken in cooking wine, a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside for 15 minutesMix sauce with chicken.Turn heat on medium high, pour 1tbsp olive oil into a pan, pour chicken and sauce in the pan, stir and put lid back on for 5 minsStir again after 5 minutes to make sure chicken pieces are not stuck to the bottom of the pan and put lid back on for another 5 mins.Mix veg in the pan with a splash of water and stir fry until done (should take a couple more minutes max.)Serve with hot rice or you can make it into cigar-shaped rolls like I do (a layer of lettuce and mixed herbs then chicken on top, roll it and dip in the sauce from the pan)Maybe it's a case of 'grass is greener on the other side', I don't know, I still think W.C's banh trang taste much better than the ones I bought.So thank you for your generosity ($11 postage doesn't go to waste I did promise you). Now that I can make a decent roll I shall attempt at some other rice paper dishes in the near future.For now...good night and enjoy![...]

Noodle soup with fish balls


My MIL who spent her childhood in Singapore told me about her fondness for deep-fried fish balls so I went and bought some for her last weekend. Since my eyes are bigger than my stomach (gulp), I bought the biggest bag available that day. MIL seemed to enjoy it, the hubby wasn't so impressed (it tastes like deep-fried crab sticks, only a little more chewy, he complained)
Anyway I had so much fish balls that I need to use it up in as many ways as possible. This is something I made up and it actually turns out quite good so here it is.

Fish balls (4-5)
egg noodle (cooked as per instruction on packet)
kai lan (or pak choi) (a small bunch - chopped)
2 chopped spring onions to garnish
good stock

Fry fish balls for 5-10 minutes until golden
Cook egg noodle in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, take care not to let it go mushy
Boil stock, place kai lan (or pak choi) into the boiling pot and turn heat down
Add cooked fish balls into the pot.
Put noodle in last and heat it all up for a few minutes.
Sprinkle with chopped spring onions and serve.


P.S: the white bits on my photo are turnips. I love turnips in noodle soup so I just put turnips in the boiling stocks and let it cook before adding kai lan.

Dau Hu Mam Tom (Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Shrimp Paste Dipping Sauce)


I've been a bit busy recently, what with work, family and the new puppy. This is one of the recipes that I meant to post for ages but never got round to. Incredibly simple! The shrimp paste sauce is a bit pungent so if you're not used to it I suggest a dipping of soy sauce and chilli sauce mixed together.
I first had this dish when visiting Hanoi in 1997. There it was served with fresh thin rice noodles and herbs. Since Vietnamese herbs are hard to come by (or expensive to buy) here, I serve it with steamed rice.
A block of tofu, cut into 2-inch cubes
rice flour
oil for frying (deep-frying is best but I shallowed fry mine with half an inch of oil in a pan)

Sauce: 1 lime, 1tsp sugar, 1tbsp shrimp paste (mam tom), 2 chopped your-ass-will-hate-you-for-it chillies (any small type chillies would do :)

Drain the tofu, I put the tofu in a colander with a heavy jar on top to drain off excess water.
Dip the pieces in rice flour to coat. I used to use all purpose flour but it seems like rice flour makes the tofu a bit crispier (Thanks Wandering Chopsticks
Deep-fry or fry til golden.

Sauce: squeeze the lime juice over shrimp paste, mix chopped chillies in and then sugar. Keep mixing until almost frothy, test taste and adjust. I think as long as you achieve a balance of sweet, sour, savoury and spicy then that's pretty it.


Fried Rice with Hot Dog, Carrot and Kimchee


This is a cross between Fried rice with hot dogs and Fried rice with kimchee and spam
Both recipes are fromWandering Chopsticks

The hubby was very reluctant to eat hot dog with rice (It's just not right - he said). I, on the other hand, am not as fussy.

This dish is handy for Friday night when your fridge is likely to be empty (or when you're skint at the end of the month and you have to make do with what you have in the cupboard)


Cooked rice (enough for 2 - sorry I hardly ever measure rice)
1 carrot - diced
1 onion - chopped
kimchee (as much as you like really)
8 4 hot dogs (or 8 mini dogs)- chopped into bite-size pieces (Am I being greedy here???)
1 egg

Heat 1tbsp oil, throw diced carrot and onion and hot dog pieces into the wok. Fry for a few minutes.
Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
Put the cooked rice in the wok and mix thoroughly for a few minutes, take care not to let it stick onto the bottom.
Make a well in the middle of the wok and crack an egg into it, then mix together with the rest of the ingredients in there for a few minutes.
Lastly, put kimchee in, mix together and serve hot.


pan fried lamb with cous cous


(image) The hubby's creation.
Recipe will be posted later...

Canh cai soong and canh trung ca chua (Vietnamese watercress soup and Tomato and Eggdrop soup)


Canh cai soong (watercress soup with shitake mushroom and chopped bacon)(image)

Canh trung ca chua (tomato and eggdrop soup)
I am not a big fan of canh (Vietnamese soup). I normally find it too watery to be poured over steamed rice. The hubby finds it too bland in general so I rarely make it. Admittedly though, when I'm too tired to cook I tend to crave for a bowl of steaming hot canh. Served on its own, it is a wonderfully light snack and a kind of pick-me-up that I need now and then.
To make a decent bowl of canh you need decent broth and decent broth, in my opinion, definitely needs some proper pork bones in it (Wandering Chopsticks has a good post on how to make broth for canh)
If you are lazy (like me), a simple broth can be made by frying some ginger and then adding ready made chicken/vegetable stock.

Below are the most basic canh you can conjure up in a matter of minutes.

Canh Cai Soong (Watercress Soup - my version)
My adopted granddad Muoi (my grandma's 10th brother) loved this soup when he was alive. He was a bachelor all his life so he spent quite a few years living with my family. He doted on me when I was little and obviously he was like a granddad to me. He's gone for quite a few years now but I still miss him dearly every time I make this soup.
Ingredients:(serves 1)
Watercress (100g)
Bacon (1 slice - cut into thin strips)
1 cup of chicken stock
3 chopped shiitake mushrooms

Fry bacon in a bit of oil until the meat has changed colour.
Pour hot stock and shiitake mushrooms in the pot
Let it boil for 5 minutes, taste and adjust if necessary.
Quickly blanch watercress in the boiling broth, turn the heat off

Canh trung ca chua (Tomato and eggdrop soup)
I make this soup fairly often as a student (since it costs next to nothing to make). It's guaranteed to be fool-proof :)

Ingredients (serves 1)
3 tomatoes, chopped into 8 chunks each
1 egg
chopped spring onion to garnish
chicken stock (1 and a half cup)

Fry tomatoes in a bit of oil (5 mins would do)
Pour hot stock into the pan and wait until it starts boiling
Turn the heat down 1 notch and crack the egg into the pan, stir it around, make sure you pierce the yolk as well because you don't want to end up eating a boiled egg yolk in your canh.
Garnish with a bit of spring onions and serve (take care when eating the tomatoes since they stay hot for quite a long time - FYI I burnt my tongue last time trying to eat it too fast D'oh)


Roasted Trout with Spring Onion Oil


(image) Another wonderful recipe from Wandering Chopsticks
I would prefer to use catfish but unfortunately where I live one can only find catfish in China Town. So I substituted catfish with trout and it turned out just fine.
I didn't change anything else from W.C's recipe and it can be found here
The mo hanh (spring onion oil) makes this dish so worth-while. It feels sooo bad to see the chopped spring onions swimming in what seems like a sea of oil (I use nut oil) but boy, it tastes sooooo good.
I think I must have left the fish in the oven for a wee bit too long so I didn't have as much 'gravy' as W.C. It is still gorgeous though. I served it with some chilli sauce, sliced cucumber and rice.

"Basic Vietnamese Marinade for Chicken or Pork"


Inspired by Wandering Chopsticks' own recipeMy ingredients: (pretty much the same except for ginger and five spice)Fish sauceSoy sauceWhite wine vinegarSugarSalt and pepperfive spicechopped ginger (about 1-2tsp)My method: Unlike W.C, I didn’t really wash the chicken pieces. Instead I rinsed them quickly with a bit of cooking wine before cooking. I initially dumped into the pot 1tbsp fish sauce, 1tbsp soy sauce, 1tbsp white wine vinegar, 1tsp sugar, 1tsp chilli power, a pinch of salt and pepper, ½ inch chopped ginger and 1tsp five-spice powder. Then I stirred all the ingredients together with the chicken and put the lid on for 10mins. I also added 1tbsp of water to make it easier to stir. Then I put the lid back for another 10mins. When the liquid started thickening, I test-tasted it and added another tbsp white wine vinegar, 1tsp of sugar (I like the sweet taste), ½ tbsp of soy sauce and around ¼ cup of water, mixed it all together and take the lid off. Then I turned the heat down 1 notch and just wait until the meat is cooked and the sauce’s consistency is that of thick gravy. I wasn’t so sure at first if the ginger would be too overpowering for this dish but it seemed to blend it splendidly with the rest of the ingredients. The thick and well-flavoured sauce is indeed lovely to be spooned onto steamed rice. I particularly like this dish because it is so tasty and more importantly, so straight forward it is almost definitely fool-proof (which is ideal for the novice cook).As you can see mine doesn't look as glossy as W.C's (see below) but it still tastes pretty good.So there you go. Once again my thank-you goes to Wandering Chopsticks .Enjoy :D[...] last


For the last year or so I have been desperately searching for a fool-proof kimchi making recipe. The first recipe I tried was from the first link that came up on Google search. There was no mention of the use of gochujang and also, it asked for kimchi sauce, which I honestly didn't really trust. Anyway, I tried and the result was horrendous, so bad that I nearly put the hubby off kimchi for life. He was so put off by my home-made kimchi that he has been buying kimchi for me from my favourite Korean store in town (the one that Park Ji Sung frequently visits :).
To cut the story short, last week I decided to try Wandering chopsticks' napa kimchi. I halved most of the ingredients since I was worried that it was going to be chucked away if it turns out to be another rotten batch (W.C it was my skills that I doubted, not your recipe). I did everything as instructed in the recipe and I swore to myself that I will give up making kimchi if it didn't work.
God must have felt sorry for the novice cook this time. The kimchi turns out to be more than beautiful. The juice is so yummy I can drink it straight. It is so nice that I have even managed to turn the hubby into a kimchi junkie (yipee).
Since I didn't change anything in the recipe, people who are interested can visit the link directly.
Special thanks to W.C :D

Chocolate Cake


The hubby made this last week but I didn't have a chance to blog about it until now. The recipe is from a local organic food magazine.
Normally I am not too keen on things that are too chocolatey but this chocolate cake is exceptional. I particularly like the cocoa dusting on top. Simply gorgeous!
Serves 6
125g self-raising flour
125g unrefined soft brown sugar
25g cocoa
125g plain chocolate
125g butter
2 eggs

For the icing:
200g plain chocolate
half a pot of single cream (roughly 150ml)
12g butter
100g icing sugar
cocoa power for dusting

Heat the oven to 160C
Line a square cake tin (we actually use the bread tin)
Mix the flour, sugar and cocoa together in a bowl. Melt the chocolate and butter together with 100ml water in a pan and then beat this along with the egss into the dry mixture.
Pour this into the cake tin and bake for 1hr or until a knife/screwer comes out clean. It may crack a little on top but we'll cover it up with icing.

To make the icing, melt chocolate with cream and butter until smooth and then cool in the fridge to a spreadable consistency, beat in enough icing sugar to make the icing stiff.
Slice the cake into 2 or 3 layers horizontally and spread some icing between each layer. Ice the outside of the cake in a thick even layer and smooth the icing down.

Dust with cocoa before serving with some pouring cream.

Birthday cakes - pics only


The hubby's cake
The niece's cake:

(image) Almost too good to be eaten...

Dakdoritang - tried and tested


It is supposed to look like this:Instead mine looks like this:(steaming hot, aye?) As some of you may know, I am a huge fan of Korean food. When I came across this incredibly-easy-to-follow recipe, thanks to a blogger called paintroller, I decided to make dakdoritang for my tea last night.The only differences are:- I replaced potatoes with sweet potatoes since I was never keen on white potatoes I also added shiitake mushroom as I am a mushroom addict There were no spring onions in the house so I had to make do without it. I served it with rice and beansprout salad (someone please remind me of the Korean name) and spinach (another type of banchan which name has escaped me) The end result, taste-wise, was quite yummy. Look-wise, it’s not as pretty as it should have looked. However, since I am a sole diner, I wasn’t too bothered about the aesthetic aspect of the dish. So, without much further ado, please find the much praised recipe below. You can find the proper post (with step by step photo instructions) on paintroller blog. Note to self: Chinese soy sauce (even the light soy sauce) is naturally more salty than the Korean soy sauce. Go easy on it. “Ingredients (for 4) 2 chickenssoy saucea lot of garlicfresh gingercarrotspotatoesonionssugarblack peppergochujang (red pepper paste) 1. Get two chickens at the market. Tell the chicken man that you're making dakdoritang and he'll cut it up approriately. Outside Korea I recommend buying chicken thighs, bone in and skin on, because that's where the flavor is.2. Put the chicken in a pot full of water and bring it almost to a boil. Some schmaltz will appear on the top of the water.3. Discard the water.4. Your chicken should now look like this.5. Add some soy sauce.6. More soy sauce.7. Add even more soy sauce. I reckon she poured in about 1/2 of a cup of soy sauce. At this point it's the only liquid in the pot so the chicken soaks it up.8. Add red pepper powder. You'll notice that in the picture my mother-in-law is in fact adding red pepper paste. That is because she was not happy with the quality of the two kinds of red pepper paste currently in the house. I suggest that if you are making this outside Korea this wil cut down on expenses, in that you too can use red pepper paste twice instead of buying paste and powder. A heaping wooden spoonful will do. Incidentally, my mother-in-law has thrown her weight behind Haechandle brand gochujang (red pepper paste).9. Add water. My mother-in-law said she added extra water because I like the sauce, but you can leave it up to taste, adding between 1/2 cup and a cup.10. Add potatoes, cut roughly as for stew.11. Add black pepper to taste.11. Add sugar. I would guess about four tablespoons.12. This much.13. Stir and taste.14. This is where you would normally add the red pepper paste. Again, Haechandle, and about a heaping wooden spoonful.15. Chop and smash about 8 cloves of garlic.16. Chop and smash one chunk of fresh peeled ginger. Ginger is the Korean's go-to odor eliminator, and I don't know if dakdoritang usually contains it, but, in an interesting side note, my mother-in-law hates chicken. She never ever eats it, since she was a child and she witnessed a particularly gruesome chicken beheading. 17. Add the garlic and ginger. By now the stew should look like this. 18. Add onions, cut large like the potatoes. 19. Add green onions, again cut roughly into one inch pieces. 20. I reminded my mother-in-law at the last minute that I like carrots, so she added half a carrot to appease me. 20. Cover and let it cook for about 10 minutes and it's good to go."Enjoy![...]

Baked salmon with black pudding


I know the idea of combining fish and black pudding sounds a bit bizarre but they actually compliment each other quite well.
A few weeks ago we went to a food festival in town where we was introduced to an interesting idea-black pudding with scallop. Initially I was wondering if the contrast in texture and taste between salty scallop and rich, fatty black pudding would be too much to take. So we decided to do a dish with fish and black pudding that weekend :D
2 salmon steaks
soft cheese
black pudding
salt + pepper
asparagus: 1 bunch
babycorn: 100gr
lambs lettuce
olive oil + lemon + mixed herbs for dressing

Preheat oven 200C, season fish with salt and pepper
Fry skin side of salmon steaks for 1 minute then transfer onto a baking tray
Spread enough soft cheese (about half an inch thick) evenly on the two pieces of fish
Sprinkle with breadcrumbs
Bake until done (check after 25-30 mins depending on how thick the steaks are)
Meanwhile, saute asparagus and baby corn with a knob of butter and some herbs, season with salt and pepper
Also, fry 2 slices of black pudding until done

To serve, put a bit of lettuce in the middle of a plate, put the fish on top and then the black pudding slice on top of the fish. Veg can go on the side of the plate and last but not least, drizzle dressing to decorate.

If you're brave enough, try it out and let me know. Enjoy.



This recipe is from a book I picked up a while ago called"The gourmet's guide to French Cooking by Alsion Burt". If you're into French cooking then I highly recommend this book. Not only that it is authentic, it is also super duper easy to follow.
Saying that, all of the recipes we have sampled have been made by the hubby so my personal recommendation is actually based on the lovely end-results I have tasted so far :D
The recipe is pretty much similar to Wandering Chopsticks' coq-au-vin. The recipe will be posted probably tomorrow.
Enjoy :D

My own soon dubu - Spicy Korean tofu soup


I finally got myself a tub of gochujang. The recipe for this spicy Korean tofu stew/soup is from The Budding Cook and the only change I made was that I used shittake mushrooms instead of enoki mushrooms (due to shittake mushrooms being twice as cheap as the other one).
So I have just added another recipe onto my quick meal recipes collection.Super easy to make and guarantee to be mouth-watering :D

1 tablespoon sesame oil
A couple tablespoons of garlic
2 tablespoons Hot Pepper Paste (Gochujang)
2 tablespoons Hot Pepper Powder
1 bunch of enoki mushrooms
1 egg
about 7 oz of beef, chicken or veggie stock
1 package of tofu

Pour about 1 tablespoon of sesame oil into pot. Add garlic and sautee. Then drain the tofu and place into pot w/ 2 heaping tablespoons of hot pepper paste. Mix tofu up breaking it into bits and mixing w/ hot pepper paste. Add just enough beef stock to cover the tofu. Add 2 tablespoons of hot pepper powder for a more spicy flavor. Allow mixture to boil. Wash enoki mushrooms and cut off the ends. Add enoki mushrooms just at the end. Make sure to cover them in the stew. Then just before serving crack a egg into the mix. Serve over white rice.
(From The Budding Cook- thanks)

A merry weekend


(image) My apologies to the few readers who drop by frequently (if there are any). I have been up to my ears in my work since I started working full time, thus, I haven't had much time devoting to cooking. However, the hubby and I have been quite self-indulgent every weekend by making an effort to make a different dish every week and if only I had enough energy to write, I would have done so.
Last week, after my 6-day week we made Vietnamese spring rolls . Recipe is (once again) from Wandering Chopsticks, whose recipes have always turned out beautifully (thanks Wandering Chopsticks x)
Dessert, as can be seen, is a simple yet satisfying stem ginger sponge pudding .
The food was washed down with a can keg of German lager (I swear we didn't drink all of that -)
(image) Overall, we had a good weekend and since we're going away pretty soon, there'll be more holiday food to come on this blog. Have a good day everyone. x

Creme Brulle


Admittedly I can't do crème brulee :D, the hubby is extremely good at things like this when all I could do is to stare, admire and later on, enjoy :D
The recipe is from a Welsh restaurant. Since I didn't post the recipe on the last post and nobody requested it, I'm doing the same with this post. If recipe is requested then it'll be posted. Otherwise, enjoy what you cook in your kitchen and bye for now.

I think I'm turing Korean


Foods over the weekend.
1. Tried and tested GALBI from Wandering Chopsticks(image)
Guaranteed to be soft, slightly sweet and juicy. Once you've tried it, I'm sure you'll get addicted to it :D Thanks Wandering Chopsticks for the recipe :D
2. HODDEOK from My Korean Kitchen
These Korean pancakes are lovely treats and the brown sugar, cinnamon and crushed walnuts go together beautifully. Surely will do it again in the near future.
Recipes will be posted tomorrow. Have a good day.

Long time no food


I haven't done much cooking recently due to my hectic work commitment and thus, I've been so lazy that instant noodles was the only thing I've had constantly for a whole week.
It's now the weekend and having just got back from my weekly shopping, I've decided to try out 2 recipes, one of which is GALBI from Wandering Chopsticks and the other one is HODDEOK from My korean kitchen.
I've never attempted to do galbi before so it'll be interesting to find out if marinating ribs in pear puree will make a significant difference. I made some hoddeok (sweet pancakes) last week for the hubby and they all disappeared before I could take any pictures so I guess I'll have to do another batch this weekend.
So for now, that's my meal planning for this weekend. Cooking is my passion even though I can't do elaborate food. But hey, how can one get better if one doesn't try?

Cá kho tộ (fish braised in caramel sauce)


This is the first time I've tried a recipe which doesn't particularly state the amount of spices and seasoning. The recipe is from Ms Nguyen Dzoan Cam Van, the equivalence of Nigella Lawson of Britain :D.
-season fish (any type- I use cod, the best type is catfish)with salt+ pepper+ sugar and set aside
-heat up pan, add oil +1.5 tbsp sugar +fish sauce -> wailt till the fish sauce and sugar have dissolved and thickened, then add fish fillet + more fish sauce +sugar +1tbsp sesame oil
-add enough water to cover fish and cook on medium low heat for at least 30 minutes, then turn heat up to thicken sauce
- add spring onions + chopped chillies and more pepper
-serve with steamed rice
My maternal grandma (ba` ngoai) is the best cook when it comes to making ca kho to and other quintessential southern Vietnam dishes. :sigh: I miss her cooking so much...

Wonton soup



Somehow my wonton soup never tastes as good as my mum's. When I was small, I remember seeing my dad eating wonton with left-over rice and since I didn't have any egg noodles in the house today I decided to try wonton soup with rice. Yuk! It's truly horrible. I haven't got a clue how my dad seemed to enjoy it immensely. Maybe he was just very hungry. Thank God I only tried it with a bit of soup and thus managed to save the rest of the wonton soup :D
Wandering Chopsticks has a nice post on wontons which is worth a look if anyone is interested in making wontons.

Mango bread


I've got to be the first one who try out wandering chopsticks mango bread recipe.
The only thing I would do differently next time is to add more sugar (I only put over 100g sugar for 1 loaf this time and it was no where near sweet enough for my sweet tooth)
The hubby's not keen on mango so I'm taking the loaf over to a friend's tomorrow. Mmm. Special thanks to Wandering Chopsticks :D

Easy-peasy pasta salad - Nicoise style


I got the inspiration for this dish from a recipe for Salade Nicoise, which basically includes flaked tuna and boil eggs in the ingredients. However, as there was no tuna nor egg in the kitchen, I decided to make my own salad in the same style with different ingredients.
It's super duper easy and since it came from the novice cook's kitchen,it is fool-proof.
round lettuce
chopped crab/seafood sticks
black olives
chopped tomatoes
cubed hard cheese (I use Cheddar cheese)
cooked and drained pasta (75g for each person) -seasoned with salt and pepper
sliced cucumber
handful of fresh parsley
Vinegairette dressing, made from 2 part white wine vinegar + 1 part of olive oil + 1tbsp honey + pinch of mixed herbs
Coleslaw (you can't see it in the picture because I only remembered to add it after the picture was taken)

Wash the lettuce leaves and line them at the bottom of a bowl.
Top with the rest of the ingredients, mix well with vinegairette dressing and coleslaw.
EAT. (Yep, it's that easy)


Suon nuong xa - Pork chops grilled with lemongrass


Please ignore the colourful rice and the steamed mange tout. I was feeling a bit too adventurous at the time and only found out when I tasted it that sometimes things just don't go together. Admittedly this dish is much better served with white rice and lightly stir-fried veg e.g. pak choi saute with garlic.
The pork (1 chop) was marinated with:
1 stick of lemongrass -chopped
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
salt + pepper
1 tsp chilli paste
1 spring onion - chopped

-Crush lemongrass and chopped spring onion into a rough paste using a pestle and mortar. Add fish sauce, sugar, chilli paste, salt and pepper and marinate the chop in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
-Either grill or shallow fry until done.
Here is a close up picture:

I don't know why but the pork turned out to be very tender and full of flavour. The fragrant smell of lemon grass is simply irresistible. I'm thinking of doing another batch for our BBQ this saturday.
A very similar recipe can be found at Playing with my food
To my surprise, I found out that lemongrass is actually a herb, which can be used not only in cooking but also in drinking. The oil extracted from lemon grass can also be used in treating athlete's foot and back pain. More wonderful information about lemon grass can be found here
This is also my entry for this week's Weekend herb Blogging , which is sponsored by Kalyn from Kalyn's kitchen and hosted this week by Ulrike from Kuchelatein .

Back to basic: Bacon and Mushroom Pasta


I feel like a student all over again. This is what I used to make at least 3 nights a week when I was a student. The plain and simple reason is because a) it is cheap and b) it is quick and most important of all, it is fool-proof.
Ingredients: (For 1)
75g pasta -cooked and drained
1-2 rashes of smoked bacon - chopped
1 onion- sliced thinly
5 button mushrooms - leave wholes or cut in halves
dry mixed herbs
grated Cheddar Cheese
Worcester 's sauce
chopped fresh parsley - reserve a few sprigs

1. Lightly fry the chopped bacon in a bit of olive oil until done. Set aside.
2. Heat a knob of butter +1tsp olive oil, stir in onion and mushrooms + 1tbsp water, season with salt + pepper + mixed herbs + chopped parsley, leave on medium heat for 5 minutes.
3. Stir in pasta and cooked bacon. Add a few splashes of Wostershire sauce.
4. Sprinkle grated Cheddar cheese, mix thoroughly.
5. Pour out on a plate, serve hot with a few sprigs of parsley for decoration.

So this is my entry for Presto Pasta Nights
. I know it's nothing fancy or elaborate but it is extremely handy if you're a student or if you are, like me, simply on a tight budget.