PASTA WITH SALMON IN TOMATO SAUCE

I have used pasta made from durum wheat semolina with squid ink. The squid ink is why it’s black. I use the brand Cara Nonna from Italy. Not only does this wonderful black pasta looks good, it is also smooth and tastes as good as it looks. If you cannot find black pasta, use spaghetti instead. Just remember that you should not overcook pasta.

Unlike beef or pork, fish does not offer much taste on its own.  This recipe is for those who love a rich tomato texture.

INGREDIENTS (2 to 3 persons)

  • 300g fresh salmon, pick the bones up if any
  • 4 pips garlic, chopped
  • 1 big onion, sliced
  • 2 fresh red tomatoes, cut into boats.
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes, about 400g to 450g
  • 150g button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 Tsp thyme and ½ Tsp basil
  • A few sprigs of parsley, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper

METHOD

  • Dice salmon into bite size.
  • In a pan, heat 1 tbsp cooking oil and 1 tbsp butter. Place garlic and onion into pan.
  • Sweat garlic and onion for approx. 1 min or until softened.
  • Add mushrooms, thyme, basil and pepper. Then add fresh tomatoes.
  • Saute for about 1 min, then pour the can of tomatoes into pan.
  • Let it boil. Season to taste with salt.

FOR THE PASTA

  • 120 to 150 gram pasta for 2 to 3 persons
  • After your sauce has been made and when you are ready to eat, boil pasta in hot water until cooked. Pasta is best boiled until al dente stage. That means the pasta is not too soft and you should be able to feel the firmness when you eat them. Keep testing during the last stage of cooking.
  • To serve, ladle the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with chopped parsley. The parsley not only makes the dish looks beautiful , it also lends a great taste to the dish.  Sometimes, when I run out of parsley, I use spring onion instead!

ACAR NYONYA

When I was a young girl, my grandmother used to make a special salad which is famously known as acar in Malaysia.  It is pickled vegetables mixed into a spicy peanut dressing.  The taste is hot, sweet and sour at the same time. Best eaten cold, it keeps several days in the refrigerator. My gran is no longer here and I have searched a long time for a recipe that taste similar to hers. Below is one recipe that come close. It is called the acar Nyonya. A lot of recipes called for vegetables to be dried under the sun for crunchiness but I found that they are still crunchy even though I did not run them.

acharnyonya

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise, run a knife along the centers and cut away the soft flesh of seedlings. When you have done that, cut each quarter into halves lengthwise and then into 4cm strips.
  • Half a cabbage. Wash and cut into rectangular squares, about 3cm x 2 cm
  • 1 carrot, sliced into 8 parts lengthwise, then cut into 4cm strips
  • A bunch of  french beans, cut into 4cm long strips
  • 2 or 3 red chilies, seeded and cut into rings
  • 100 grams roasted peanuts, pounded until sandy
  • 50g dried prawns, soaked and chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds

STEP 1  (for vegetables)

  • Make the cucumber crunchy by rubbing cucumber quarters with 1 tbsp salt. Leave in the fridge for about an hour.  Then squeeze out excess liquid.
  • While the cucumber is in the fridge, pound the roasted peanuts until they are sandy.  These are to be sprinkled on the car.
  • Boil water with salt.  Blanch the cabbage for 15 seconds then picks them up with a tong. Lightly squeeze out excess water.
  • Using the same pot of hot water, next blanch the carrots and French beans for 20 seconds. We want the veggies to retain a crunch, not soggy.   Drain. Store in the refrigerator until further use.

STEP 2  (for grinding)

You might want to use a food processor or a grinder to do this job.

    • 5 dried chilies
    • 5 fresh red chilies
    • 1 big French onion
    •  3 or 4 cloves garlic
    • 2cm fresh turmeric root (kunyit)  (if you do not have fresh turmeric root, replace with 2 tsp turmeric  powder)
    • 1 x 1-inch galangal
    • 1 x 1-inch toasted shrimp paste (belacan), roasted
    • 3 candlenuts (if you cannot find candlenut, replace with 3 almonds)
    • 1 stalk lemon grass

    STEP 3

    • Mix together 100ml white wine vinegar and 100ml water
    • Heat oil in a wok and fry the finely chopped dried prawns and grounded ingredients until fragrant.  Do this for a couple of minutes.  You will see a nice red paste forming.
    • Stir in 2 tbsp sugar and 1 Tsp salt.
    • Next, pour in the vinegar and water. Bring to a boil, the mixtures should be thick and not runny. Season to taste.
    • If you like it sourer, squeeze in lime juice.  Leave to cool completely before mixing with the vegetables.  Before serving, mix in peanuts and sesame seeds

PASTA WITH CHICKEN ALA CARBONARA

Ingredients (for 2 persons)

  • 150gram of your favorite dried pasta
  • 150g chicken fillet, chopped bite sized
  • 1 tbsp oil and a 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 3  pips garlic, finely chopped
  • Half an onion, chopped
  • Chopped handful of parsley and spring onion
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 50g parmesan cheese,  finely grated
  • Salt and  ground black pepper

Pasta-Chicken-Carbonara

METHOD

  1. Bring water to the boil in a large pot. Add a teaspoon of rough salt.
  2. When water is boiled, add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Al dente is the stage of doneness whereby your pasta feels firm to the break, with your fingers.  The consistency is tender but still firm to the bite. It shouldn’t be hard and should not be mushy either.
  3. When the pasta has reached al dente, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
  4. Heat a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat, add the oil, butter, chopped garlic and onion and the chopped fillet. Saute until chicken is cooked. Add salt and pepper.
  5. Next, return the pasta to the pan and stir very thoroughly so that it is well heated. You may add a little water to lubricate the pasta if it appears to be dry.
  6. Take the pan off the heat.
  7. Lastly and very importantly, add the beaten eggs into the hot pasta, swiftly tossing everything to mix. Do not worry about raw eggs as the hot pasta will automatically warm the eggs into a creamy consistency.
  8. Garnish with the chopped parsley and spring onion. Serve immediately.

CHILLI CON CARNE

Chilli Con Carne is a classic dish but over time, different variations have surfaced. I think it’s great that people try to be creative.  There really is no right or wrong in cooking so long as you enjoy eating what you’ve cooked. Normally, chilli con Carne is cooked with kidney beans but personally, I like a softer been and what could be better than baked beans? So I opted to write this recipe with baked beans.

For me, the chocolate at the end of cooking is important.  I have made Chilli Con Carne with and without chocolate and clearly, the version with chocolate made a difference. Serve your Chilli Con Carne with cooked basmati rice or cous cous. Chopped onion and garlic.

Chilli-Con-Carne

Ingredients for 3 persons
  • 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter
  • Half of one big onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 pips garlic, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into squares (about ½ inch x ½ inch)
  • 6 or 7 fresh button mushrooms sliced thinly
  • 300-gram minced beef
  • 1 can of baked beans (about 200 grams)
  • About a pea-size of crushed stock cube – to enhance the flavour of the dish
  • 1  can of chopped tomato, about 440 gram
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 or 2 red chillies, thinly sliced (if you like a hotter meal, then add more chilli to taste)
  • ½  Tsp ground cumin
  • ½  Tsp ground coriander
  • ½ Tsp oregano
  • 1-inch stick of cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • about 20 gm dark chocolate
Method

Always measure and get all ingredients ready before cooking.

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a wok or a deep pan. Fry the onion and garlic until softened (but not browned).
  2. Lower heat. Add cumin, coriander, oregano, cinnamon and chilli. Quick sauté (about 15 to 20 seconds). Your pan will smell good now.
  3. Add the mince meat, turn the heat up and cook quickly until cooked and breaking down any chunks of meat with a wooden spoon. Then add salt, the mushrooms and bell pepper.
  4. Add the can of chopped tomatoes, stirring frequently.
  5. Crush the stock cube in and boil for 2-3 minutes. Do not put the lid on.
  6. Season well with salt and pepper.
  7. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook over a gentle heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add the beans.  Lastly, add tomato paste and stir.
  9. Cook for a further 5 minutes, uncovered, before removing from the heat, adding any extra seasoning if necessary.
  10. While the stew is still warm, drop the chocolate in to dissolve.  The chocolate is to enhance the flavour, do not overpower the dish with more chocolate than you need!! We are not making a chocolate sauce.
  11.  Serving method – rice or cous cous spooned onto the plate first then pile the chilli con carne on top.
  12. Garnish with chopped parsley.

CHINESE COLD NOODLE SALAD

A friend from who’s from Xian, China introduced me to this salad.  I have made an alteration to her recipe. I added a few more ingredients namely the meat and some salad leaves.  Instead of using Chinese black vinegar which gives the salad its primary taste and sharpness, I have chosen to use green limes. They are just as good and have not the aroma of the Chinese black vinegar, which for most,  is an acquired taste.  I have made this salad for both my Danish and Asian friends and they love it.  I am convinced that this salad goes well with most people.

Chinese-cold-noodle

INGREDIENTS FOR DRESSING (2 to 4 people)

  • About 2 x 2 inches of ginger, sliced very thinly
  • 5 or 6 pips garlic
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 2 tbps soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 red chilli, chopped finely
  • A handful of Chinese coriander leaves, chopped finely. You may omit this if you do not like the smell

METHOD

  • With 1 tbsp of cooking oil, sweat  ginger/garlic lightly for about 1 minute in a pan.  Pour into a bowl and add all the other ingredients and mix well.  That’s your dressing.

INGREDIENTS FOR SALAD

  • 200 gram of noodles cooked in hot water with some oil in. When noodles are cooked, blanch immediately in cold water.  Please do not overcook noodles as we do not want soggy noodles.  While the noodles are being cooked, always test by pinching with your fingers. You may use egg noodles, spinach noodles or thick flat rice noodles.
  • 1 big carrot, thinly shredded
  • About a handful of julienned celery, rinse with hot water but do it quickly to retain crispness
  • 200 grams bean sprouts, cleaned and tails picked then rinsed quickly with hot water
  • 2 or 3 stalks of spring onion, cut very thinly lengthwise about 2 inches (4 or 5 cm)
  • A handful of salad leaves, you may use romaine or iceberg. Use your hands to shred the leaves.
  • About 300 gram prime rump steak, rub with salt and pepper. Heat up your pan with half oil and half butter, seared the steak about half a minute on each side. It should achieve a cooked outer layer and pink in the middle. However, if you want a well done steak, please go ahead and seared for a longer time until done.  Slice paper thin, if you can.

OR

  • About 200 to 300 gram of bite size chicken fillet.  Marinate with teriyaki sauce for at least an hour, then saute them with oil.

TO ASSEMBLE THE SALAD

  • Place the salad leaves at the bottom.
  • Next, place noodles on top of salad leaves.
  • Next come carrot, celery, bean sprout and spring onion.
  • Top with meat.
  • Only pour the dressing on when you want to eat.
  • Everybody should participate in mixing the salad with their chopsticks.