Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sushi @ the motherland of sushi - Japan

With the world's largest fish market and generations of masterful sushi chefs, where else would be better to enjoy a seafood lunch in the heart of Spring than a sushi restaurant in Japan?

There are 2 main types of sushi restaurants, one is the traditional restaurant that have a range of sushi chefs making sushi on order while the customers admires their artful skill and speed. But the most popular type of sushi restaurant (and also cheapest) is the sushi-train restaurants.

They have a wide varieties of selections from traditional salmon rolls to vanilla puddings.

Always bright and colourful that are very neatly well presented with curiosity of taste buds bouncing and ready to be satisfied, the sushi-trains is definately an experience to remember.
Some sushi-train restaurants have a shinkeisen 'bullet train' service, which allows customers to order through their LCD touch screen for fresh and express services while others may just have the regular train system.

To start out my meal we usually say 'ita-ka-kimasu' (bonn apetti) and (without fail at every sushi restaurant in Japan) I start out with a 'miso' based soup

Combine the miso savoury taste with the cooked juiced of a crab, this light soup had nothing but shells by the time I finished with it. And for only 180Yen ($2AU) talk about a bargain!

Following the soup was a series of sushi plates ranging from salmons that carries a very smooth texture, tuna with a fatty (good fat) but rich taste, raw sweet prawns, chewy grilled octopus, tender cooked prawns....



With every bite, the Japanese tend to have a habit by saying 'Omai!' which means sweet! or when eating with friends they'd say 'Oishiii!' - Delicious or Yummy. A very adaptable expression that I tend to use it quite often. At first it was to blend in with the Japanese but it eventually became a habit.

And when it's time to finish the meal, nothing beats a cup of green to wash all those flavours down.

....'Gochi-So-Sama-desh-ta' - Thank you for a lovely meal ;-)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

'Braised pork in coconut juice and egg'

Years ago in the old country (Vietnam), any forms of meat would be treated as a delicacy because the general population were so poor, especially after the Vietnam war.
But every 'Tet', which is the Lunar New year (or more popularly known as Chinese new year) almost every family in the country would treat themselves to a meat cuisine as a way to start their year.
There is one dish that almost every family would make at that time of the year called 'Thit Kho Tau', which, is braised pork-belly in coconut juice and egg'.

Traditionally, the meat of choice is pork-belly for it's layer of fat that also tenderize the meat as it cooks. Another important fact was that Vietnamese people in the old days were generally slim built because of the lack of fat and protein, so most Vietnamese men believed that being fat was attractive as it represents wealth.
Although I prefer pork lions with a generous marble of fat over pork belly.

Tonight instead of running down to the local shops and treat myself to a bowl of ramen 'Japanese egg noodles', I thought I'd cook up an old mother's recipe with my own personal touch to it.

'Braised pork lion in coconut juice and egg'.... here we go.


  • 450 g Pork lions (cut into cubes)
  • 3 cups of fresh young coconut juice
  • 5 TBS of coconut cream or milk
  • 2 cloves of garlic (diced)
  • 1/2 Spanish onions (diced)
  • 1 thumb size of garlic (diced)
  • 2 Tbs of fish sauce
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbs of dark soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs of light soy sauce
  • 1 cup of palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 3 Tbs of oil (Canola or sunflower oil)
  • 4 hard boiled eggs (removed shells)
Prep work:

Place the pork in a bowl adding the garlic, ginger, half the onions, fish sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and allow it to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours to over night.

Lets start!
  1. Place oil in a medium heat pot and add the remaining onions cooking for 30-45 seconds until the fragrant of the onions comes to live.
  2. Add in your marinated pork and allow it to cook for 5-6 minutes or until the skin of the pork turns brown.
  3. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar melts into the meat.
  4. Add the coconut milk, a cup of warm water and allow it to simmer @medium-low heat for 20 minutes while you skim the fat.
  5. Add the hard boiled eggs and let it cook for another 15-20minutes.
** Note: By this stage the liquid should have reduced by almost 1/3 **

10 minutes before you turn off the heat, add in the coconut milk. This will give a smooth rich taste to the dish.

*** Serve the dish with white rice and compliment it with fresh sliced cumbers, pickled vegetables, spring onions and coriander ***

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

'Chicken breast with carrot puree over a bed of rosemary salted mash potatoes and sauteed mushrooms'

I wish I could have been in my mum's kitchen when i started this as I titled this blog 'Aunt Tam's Kitchen'.
It actually represents my mother, who is a popular figure for her hospitality in a small Asian community in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

In respect to her I dedicate this page for my passion for food that I found through my mother's cooking and would like to share some of her recipes as well as a my own personal twist to them, my dinning experiences (good or bad) and just some of the inspirations that I have to share.

Although I'm currently living in Tokyo while admiring the hi-tech world where everyone seems like they're heading somewhere important, ramen 'Egg Noodles' shops next to train stations filled with busy businessmen looking for a quick bite, super-efficient transportation, innovative restaurants and the local delicacies the country have to offer.

However, today I have been feeling a little home sick and wanting some old-English flavours that I used to dabble in mum's kitchen with my younger sister on a Sunday afternoon.

  • 1 Chicken Breast
  • 2 White Potatoes (Peeled and chopped)
  • 1 Carrot Stick (Peeled and chopped)
  • 1 Handful of Mushrooms (I used button mushrooms)
  • 1 Clove of Garlic (sliced)
  • 1 Tbs of Salt
  • 1 tsp of Pepper
  • 3 pinch of dried Rosemary
  • 2 pinch of dried Thyme
  • 1 Stick of Curly Parsley (to garnish)
  • 2 Tbs of Butter
  • 2 TBS of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of milk

Prep Work:
  • Marinate the chicken breast by rubbing a pinch of salt, pinch of thyme, a pinch of rosemary, garlic and olive oil on both side of the breast. Then wrapped the chicken with a foil/or cling Wrap (more popularly named as Glad wrap in Australia) and let it sit in the fridge for 45min - 1hour.
Let's COOK!
  1. Cook potatoes and carrots under hot boiling water for 30-45 minutes until they are starchy ready for mashing.
  2. Drained and separate the potatoes and carrots.
  3. Mash potatoes under a pot with low heat using either a folk or a masher (if you have one), allow the a little of the starch stock to absorb the water. Add some milk, butter, a pinch of Rosemary and a pinch of salt while mashing the potatoes.
  4. Place carrots in a blender and add 2 or 3 Tbs of water to help it blend into a smooth puree.
  5. In a hot (oiled) pan, place the skin side of the chicken on the heat, cooking for 10 minutes @ Medium-high heat then flip the chicken over and cook the breast for 15 minutes at medium-low heat.
  6. While the chicken is cooking, on a separate hot pan, throw in your mushrooms ( sprinkling some salt on it) and let it cook for 5 minutes. The volume and size of the mushrooms decrease and juices will be very visible on the pan.
  7. Drizzle some olive oil on the mushrooms and let it simmer and absorb the oil and juice for a further 5 minutes @ low heat.
  8. Flip the chicken over once more and place the remaining butter on the pan @ medium-low heat (til the pan and let the chicken absorb the butter while using a table spoon to bath the skin with it's oil and juices). Cook for a further 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.

Serve it the chicken with your rosemary mashed-potatoes over puree carrots and sauteed mushrooms.

"Bonn Ape-tit"