Sunday, 20 March 2011

FOR MAKI AND MICHIKO



Tammy and I had looked forward to visiting Tokyo next month. It would be my first trip to Japan! I would finally meet Maki and Michiko. Maki even got in touch with renowned Japanese cookbook author and baker Iida Junko (饭田顺子). We were going to take a private lesson on bread making at Iida-san’s home in Nakameguro! How cool is that?!  And then we would visit Kappabashi, take that scenic train ride in Hakone (箱根町), shop at Genevieve Lethu and Emile Henry, enjoy French sweets in Laduree, Pierre Herme, La Maison du Chocolat, Sadaharu Aoki … and of course, stuff ourselves silly with Japanese food!

We had dreams, people.

Who would’ve expected disaster to strike Japan so suddenly last Friday (March 11th)? I need not describe the magnitude of the devastation. You’ve all seen it for yourselves in the media coverage throughout the week. Like Tammy and I these people had dreams too - and a car and house and more - but everything was washed away in the blink of an eye.

I dedicate this post to my Japanese friends, Maki and Michiko. I’m very relief to know that you and your loved ones are all safe! I would like to convey my well wishes to Ms Iida. My prayers go out to her family.

The inspiration for this soba salad comes from Makiko’s blog. She also writes for Japan Times. I took her advice on how to cook and rinse soba noodles: After the noodles are cooked, you don’t just plunge them into cold water. You have to actively rinse them under running water to get rid of the starch.

I don’t suppose anyone would need any tips from me, the amateur cook, on how to make a salad. Just cook the noodles, rinse and strain them. Once the noodles are cool, add whatever ingredients you might like. My salad has zucchini, seasoned seaweed, and drizzled with a simple lemon-sesame sauce adapted from Makiko’s post.



I was afraid Dad might not appreciate the cold salad so I also made a soba in hot soup.  As it turns out, he prefers the cold one with the sesame sauce.


Saturday, 19 March 2011

CHILLICRAB AND THE MANGOES

The sign above the mangoes read “$1.99 for 3”, attracting about a dozen housewives and Aunties all with an eye for bargain.  They gathered around the crates, elbowing one another, frantically grabbing the fruit as if they were free of charge. Like a flock of hens, their feathers ruffled, squawking. As though some unknown catastrophe was fast approaching and they were scrambling to peck the last grains off the supermarket floor.

Kiasuism got the better of me. I dived right in, dodging vicious beaks (ouch!) and menacing claws, and snatched away what I believe to be 3 of the plumiest fruit – all in under two minutes.

Fruits of my labour

My worst fear has been confirmed.  I am an Auntie!


Sunday, 6 March 2011

SUNDAY AFTERNOON SNACK



Years ago, my mother learnt to make begedil from a Malay hawker who sold nasi padang.  When she made them today, I stood close by to jot down notes.  Mom cooks by a kind of instinct that all experienced housewives possesses so there's no use asking her for measurements. 

"Take 3 large potatoes," she began. 

"How much do they weigh?" I asked.  She glared so I kept my mouth shut.  Still, I couldn't resist weighing them on my digital scales when she wasn't looking. :p

Potato Patties
Makes about 20

3 large potatoes (approx 500 grams when mashed)
Salt to taste
100 grams filling
1 egg, lightly beaten
Oil for frying

Filling
We used a mix of minced pork and hay bee (dried shrimps).  You can use any you like - mutton, bacon, or luncheon meat.

Prepare the filling.  Stir fry the minced pork and dried shrimp.  Set aside.

Slice the 3 large potatoes and deep fry them until slightly brown.  Drain then add salt and mash.  Mix in the filling. 

Using your hands, shape the potato mixture into round patties, about 5-cm in diameter. 


Coat each patty lightly with egg and fry on both sides until golden brown.

Drain on kitchen paper before serving.