Chik's Crib

02 June 2019

Cantonese Porridge

June 02, 2019 0
Cantonese Porridge

couldn't remember exactly why - or when - we started eating porridge like this. Maybe my dad got tired of me picking stuff that I don't like out of my bowl, and relocating them into other people's porridge? Anyway, it was a stroke of genius, and this hands-on approach to cooking porridge made regular appearances at our table over the last couple of decades

vat of plain porridge rests in the corner, and each batch of porridge is cooked to order. A saucepan set over a portable stove sits at the centre of the table. Surrounding the butane stove are an assortment of uncooked meat: prawns and salmon, fish paste and liver, and pork. A couple of porridge-filled ladles goes into the saucepan, and you can add anything into your personalised bowl of porridge. Stir 'til cooked, take it off the flame, crack an egg in and presto! A bowl of steaming porridge filled with as much meat and seafood as you wanted, and - also very importantly - nothing you didn't want. It's a little like a steamboat, where people gather over a hot stove and cook communally. 

But Calvin, you say, if we are cooking batches of porridge individually, could you really call it communal cooking? It's well-spotted, and I commend your reasoning ability. Now, as a reward, I would like it if you could close your browser, find another computer and then come back to this page. Preferably for more several times. 

Extraverts would love how lively the whole affair is, while neurotics (oh no, could that be you?) can lose themselves in the activities of tending to the porridgeIt's actually quite similar to the style of cooking at 牛花粥 restaurant in Guangzhou

Communal-style Cantonese Porridge
Welcome to your new favourite way to eat porridge. OK, there isn't really a recipe for this, and you don't really need one. Plain porridge is cooked in a massive pot, while the other ingredients like prawn, minced/sliced pork and liver are marinated in soy sauce and tapioca starch. 

1. When ready to start, start cooking the pork first, which would take longer to cook than other ingredients. Then add in seafood and pork liver and continue stirring, scrapping the bottom of the pot as you go along. Add a little hot water if the porridge turns too thick. 

2. When the seafood is cooked, turn off the flame and break an egg into the porridge, Asian-porridge style. Mix well and add soy sauce and white pepper to taste. Top with sliced ginger and chopped spring onions. Serve immediately. 

27 May 2019

Aviation Cocktail Recipe

May 27, 2019 0
Aviation Cocktail Recipe
The Aviation's not the most popular drink now, but in your grandfather's day, from London to New York, this gin-based cocktail was quite the hit. 

In those times, gin was the upper-class alcohol of choice, paired with the exotic maraschino liqueur and crème de violette, made it a veritable who's who drink of the pre-prohibition era(?). The mystique of the ingredients contributed to the popularity of the drink, and even today, and even today, it's a rare liquor store that stocks crème de violette. The addition of the crème de violette gives this classic drink the shade of the evening sky. For the longest time, following the lead of most modern adaptations, I'd omitted the crème de violette, which resulted in an cloudy cocktail with a nonetheless appealingly floral taste. 

Given the floral nature of the cocktail, I thought I could take a leaf (well, a flower) out of my heritage book and use butterfly pea flowers to develop the original violet shade. My family's was cultivating these flowers for the annual 端午节 festival, where we mark the occasion with traditional rice dumplings wrapped in large flat leaves. Butterfly pea flowers are a traditional food dye in Southeast Asia, and responsible for the blue rice found in Peranakan cuisine. Serendipitously, butterfly pea changes color with pH, and with lemon juice, turns it to just the right shade of violet. 

Though, away from the romantic smoky ambiance of a 1920s bar of sturdy oak wood and people doing the Charleston (I'm on a Twenties Girl reread, can you tell?), I prefer my Aviation without the blue pea flower coloring. It's worth doing once for the experience, just to see if it works, and perhaps just once more for impressing visitors. 

Aviation Cocktail
Adapted from the Tipsy Bartender
If you're not able to get the fresh flowers, dried blue pea flowers are available in Phoon Huat (Boon Lay). If you're from another country, check your local baking store or a well-stocked Asian store. 


1.5 oz gin
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz maraschino liqueur
.5 oz crème de violette, if available


1. Add all ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. 


Using blue pea flowers, steep a teaspoon's worth in 75ml (about a quarter cup) of just-boiled water. Let cool, discard the flowers and then freeze the liquid in an ice tray. When making the cocktail, replace 1-2 normal ice cubes with the blue pea ice. Shake well. 

19 May 2019

Bulgogi Omelette Recipe

May 19, 2019 0
Bulgogi Omelette Recipe

Authenticity's a common word when describing food, despite the increasing backlash towards the term. I've been guilty myself of looking for an 'authentic' restaurant especially when trying new cuisines or traveling to other destinations. Closer to home though, I have a newfound appreciation for fusion cuisine (hypocrisy is delicious, try some!) 

I like dishes that blends aspects of different cuisines together. Cenk, who writes on Cafe Fernando, experiments with Turkish flavours in Western desserts, which does a good job showcasing local palates to the rest of the world. Melbourne has several restaurants shining a spotlight to Asian flavours, and usually to rave reviews

Over the last few years, I've enjoyed my French omelettes stuffed with Korean pork bulgogi. 
A French omelette has a creamy interior wrapped in a soft exterior envelope, and while the traditional pairings could be cheese or chives, I find that the seared meat goes well with the velvety omelette. 

French omelettes can be finicky. You do need a perfect non-stick frying pan to make one, and a trip to a nearby IKEA would sort that out quite nicely. I've done extensive research (ie read an article), and it seems that purchasing and replacing inexpensive nonstick pans are a better option than springing for the expensive cousins, which still doesn't last long. The Kavalkad is quite a good price; so, why not? Get the budget-friendly saucepan for less a tenner, and treat yourself to a nice soft-serve on the way out. 

Bulgogi Omelette Recipe
Bulgogi recipe adapted from The Good Fork Cookbook
I've used four eggs here, but there's no reason not to make a larger omelette, à la omurice, and as R pointed out, would have looked more photogenic as well. Have you made a French omelette before? Well, check out Jacques Pepin making one anyway; his is sheer poetry in motion. 

(For the Bulgogi)
120ml light soy sauce
60g sugar
50g onion, chopped finely 
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp sesame oil 
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp black pepper

1 kg pork slices (the variety used for steamboat)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced

(For the Omelette)
4 large eggs
White sesame seed, for garnishing
Spring onion, chopped, for garnishing

1. Combine the ingredients for the marinade together. Add the pork and marinate for at least 30 minutes. 
2. In a large skillet, stir-fry the pork until cooked thoroughly. Set aside. Cook the onion slices in the same pan until soft, and set aside. 
3. Make a French omelette. Slice lengthwise and stuff with bulgogi, about 100g. Top with onions and garnish with sesame seed and spring onion, if using. Discard the leftover pork slices*.  
4. Serve immediately. 

* please don't do this