Every year, I make it a point to cook for my NUSID mates. A good few of the guys have had a sampling of my slowly improving cooking skills. This year’s menu was a simple one but I liked it a lot. Also glad my portions were just about spot on, with hardly any food left. Here’s what we had.

  • Ebi Senbei. I butterflied some prawns until the were flat before pounding and rolling them in a little corn starch. Afterwards, I deep fried them to a golden brown. First time doing this but I like it enough that I’m gonna keep doing it and referring to the actual version.
  • Pickled cucumber ribbons. Marinated these in sesame and chilli oils with some salt but forgot to plate!!!
  • Roast capsicum. Slow roasted in the oven for just under an hour or so. The skin wasn’t completely black but came off real easy and the flesh was super sweet and tender. Just salted a little and copious olive oil to finish.
  • Stir fried snow and snap peas. Gotta have something bright green. Fried it in garlic oil.
  • Tamago Tofu. I actually tried to make this last year but it sucked as I didn’t watch it. This time round I got it near perfect, maybe the stock needs a touch less konbu and the mix a little less sake.
  • Kazusuke. I think it was like bassfish or something can’t remember. Wanted gindara but they didn’t have enough. Simply used the pre marinated one from Meidi-Ya and then washed them before basting them with a miso soy emulsion and roasting in the oven to finish.
  • Grilled Cuttlefish. I tried to make this a Portuguese style thingey like what I had before at Silva’s, one of my fave Sydney restaurants. Of course the only cuttlefish I could get was the stuff you see at yong tau foo stalls! Also, my marinade needed more depth, probably because I didn’t whack any wine in. The worst part is I tried to use the charcoal stove to cook it but it was way too cold. The gas stove just doesn’t have enough power to char without sugar in the mix.
  • Buta Kakuni. I made a black version cos I used Chinese dark soy instead of Japanese light soy but the miso, mirin and sake I used made it taste unmistakably Japanese. This one was a bit complicated. I used a recipe from Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji. I managed to get okara, which is leftover soybeans from making tofu which I put in a pot with pork belly, ginger and water. This I cooked with a cartouche on top for 5 hours. It was mad tender. After that, I then washed it off and reboiled the pork belly in fresh water. At this point I worry that all the flavor is gone into the water. However, I suppose adding miso, mirin, sake, sugar, soy and dark soy into another pot with the pork and cooking it for another hour made up for that because the end result was quite sublime. Meltingly tender and sweet, it was like I knew how to do this!
  • Pre dessert! I made these pineapple tarts. I meant to ghetto sous vide them with this vacuum bag machine we had but the bags kept breaking in the water and the juiced seeped out. So after a long struggle, I just diced up the almost translucent 3/4 cooked pineapple and then just sauteed everything in butter and brown sugar. The tart shells were another problem. I wanted to use shortcrust which is easy enough except the first recipe I used was wrong. The second was fine but I had to use these pathetic little cheapo silicon moulds more used for like h’orderves or summat. I bake them off nice, still struggling with the home oven that really a bit too hot. I then top the cool off pineapple onto the none too pretty little tart shells. Tastes really good to me though.
  • Dessert was a send up of Postre Chaja, something I had at Porteno in Sydney. I baked off some meringues with many failed batches that were still soggy inside. I kept having problems managing the oven. I ended up with just enough for everyone but because there were more people than meringues, I had to break them up. I served this with some fresh tart mangoes, peanut praline, fresh whipped cream and dulce de leche I made slow cooking a can of condensed milk in a pot of water. This is probably my fave of the night actually. The not too sweet mangoes worked out well because everything else was mad sweet.

Next year I think I’m gonna make some lamb roasts or something. Ang moh jiak concept.

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