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Xanthi bar & restaurant

Any occasion is a good occasion to gather up and share the moment with good food. To celebrate a birthday occasion for our good food-loving friends Gianna, Phuoc and Rita, we gathered up tonight with our hungry stomaches for newly opened Greek restaurant Xanthi.

As many of you might already know, the well-respected Greek restaurant Perama has closed its door in August and now reopened as Xanthi at Westfield Sydney. They offer a banquet set menu (mandatory for a group over 10+), and we went for the $55 banquet menu.
(Some of dishes shown below are not included in the set menu. Please refer to their set menu on the website.)

Shortly after everyone seated, a few bottles of Tsipouro – a Greek spirit contains 44% alcohol. This is often accompanied with ice cubes and/or water, and diluting with water causes it to turn white colour. This is just like the turkish Raki – a.k.a. Lion’s tear. We were told that Tsipouro helps stimulatie and induce appetite, but my stomach was already ready and finishing the glass of Tsipouro would have rather pushed me toward a night of embarrassment.

Pickled Octopus

Greek Salad

Tarama dip

Hot smoked eggplant dip

BBQ haloumi

Starter dishes arrived one after another. And oh how I love haloumi cheese.

Herbed Skordalia Croquettes

Sheftalies BBQ pork meatballs

Fried veal sweetbreads

More savoury dishes continued to follow. Herbed skordalia croquettes, Sheftalies BBQ pork meatballs, fried veal sweetbreads – these were the dishes I didn’t see at Perama the last time. I loved the chunky pork meatballs!

Prawn and scallop bougatsa

Spinach & feta bougatsa

Pork belly baklava

There’s one bougatsa included in the set menu, but thanks to David the owner/chef at Xanthi, we’ve got two – Prawn & Scallop bougastsa and oh yes, the signature pork belly baklava. We also got two more bougastsas as nut-free alternatives – Spinach & feta, and lamb fricasse bougatsas. Crispy pastry and tasty fillings are hard to resist, I of course had to have taste of all four. The pork belly baklava was definitely one of my favourites dishes of the night, but hmm I think I like the old one better. (read a little more insight regarding the pork belly baklava at Helen’s post.)

Meat from the spit (extra $15)

Instead of lamb skaras, we were given meat from the spit, thanks to David again! Accompanied with potatoes and lemon wedges, the lamb and pork were just luring me into stuffing myself to the max. I usually like pork better than lamb, but tender and succulent lamb won me over this time.

Garden of Aphrodite (Not included in the banquet menu)

Sokolata Castania (Not included in the banquet menu)

Caramel Baklava Ice Cream

Salted caramel peanut & banana sweet bougatsa

Good old favourite dessert dishes – Caramel baklava ice cream and salted caramel peanut & banana sweet bougatsa. But we were also given extra dessert dishes: Garden of Aphrodite and Sokolata Castania. Both were beautifully presented, but I especially loved the Sokolata Castania the chocolate mousse. Very nice.

Those who loved Perama, you’d definitely love the new and improved dishes at Xanthi. And those who missed the opportunity to dine at Perama before closing, I highly recommend to visit and enjoy the great Greek feast!

γεια μας!

Xanthi
Level 6, Westfield Sydney
Corner Pitt street mall and Market street
Sydney

02 9232 8535
http://www.xanthi.com.au

(After hour entrance is located further down the street)


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Sepia Restaurant & Wine Bar

Hai. Do you still remember me?

Just like the last time, “I can’t believe it’s been awhile since the last post.” And I have to say that again, but this time, a year later! Sometimes life takes different turns on its own, and you just simply need to go with it, right? That’s pretty much what it was.

But you know what, I’ve got something else to confess. The Japanese double post that is. It’s very flattering to have gotten many requests from Japanese readers to add Japanese translation, which in fact I have started. But it’s just damn hard for me to keep it up simply because I myself can’t even feel the same *vibe* from written Japanese… So that’s the huge reason for the long overdue neglect. Oh well.

Anyways. Now that I’m back blogging again, I’ll just wait and see if Betty the hungry girl would keep her promise – “I’ll get back on blogging if you did” ;p

So the first post after a year of absence is Sepia. I have quite alot of back logs from the past eating occasions, but this is relatively recent. And just as I was thinking of posting this, a good news came in. Sepia won Restaurant of the year. Woohoooooo, congratulations!

You must have read other posts on Sepia like I have. I have to say they definitely live up to their good reputations – the fantastic dishes with eye-opening creativity and attentive, friendly and knowledgeable staff. And that’s why I chose Sepia for this special celebratory dinner with Tomo.

Tomo changes into his fine-dinning cloth. Looking sharp’n'slick? Yeah, until this was revealed.

I’m just saying I wasn’t the only fat one here. And this is even before the dinner, just so you know. ;p

Arrived and greeted by the staff, we seated at our table and went through the menu quickly. As I Looked around other tables, I already spotted some interesting dishes on other tables. I assumed those were from a la carte menu, but we went for degustation menu ($150/pp) this time.


Optional starter dish – oyster

I cannot eat oysters after a bad food poisoning experience, so only Tomo gets this. *sucking finger*


Amuse bouche – Hiramasa king fish

Beautifully seasoned Hiramasa King Fish – I don’t know what it is about the fish, but you can’t fail me with Hiramasa king fish. We both enjoyed the Japanese influence of the dish.


“Scallop Sushi”Nori rolled scallop, pickled ginger, puffed sushi rice, avocado cream

Looking at the menu, I was wondering about the quotation marks and here’s why. The dish visually resembles essential elements of sushi – The pink (Gari: Pickled ginger that’s always comes on the side), White (Sushi rice & scallop), Black (seaweed paper) and Green (Wasabi) I guess this is something you would need to actually taste the dish to get it, but the combination of these flavour and visual elements literally conjures up a real sushi. It’s like eating actual sushi with your eyes and mouth at the same time. Very interesting.


Tartare of yellow fin tuna
warm leek cream, poached egg yolk, soy and wasabi, sprouting caviar lentils, amaranth grain

I should’ve taken this picture differently so the yummy looking poached egg yolk in the middle! This was soooo flavoursome and I loved the texture of it as well. Soft smooth texture of tuna, leek cream and egg yolk against crunchy sprouts and amaranth grains. I wanted another plate of this.


Queensland spanner crab and buckwheat risotto, mustard butter, shellfish essence

Oh how I loved this – it’s just packed with flavour! The form on the top was full of umami from shellfish, and it creates absolutely amazing flavour when mixed with the risotto underneath as recommended.


Scampi & Cod fish with fennel and scampi cream

You know, this was also a great dish, but I guess I was loving the risotto so much that it didn’t strike us too impressive, to be honest.


Angus beef sirloin with Nameko mushroom and miso sauce

The first meat dish! There’s no explanation needed for the angus beef, right? It was visually screaming that it was perfectly cooked and seasoned. I was kind of intrigued by the Nameko mushroom on the side. Sticky & slimy mushroom that is in which I never had thought of putting on the dish along with meat. But it goes really good with all other elements on the dish. And the amazing tenderness of the beef just makes this dish perfect.


Cocoa and sansho seared Mandagery creek venison, baby beetroots, rhubarb, chocolate, beetroot and boudin noir crumb

Again, this dish was also great but the previous dish was so good that this appeared less impressive compared to the angus beef. But the interesting part was the boudin noir crumb. It sort of added bitterness/smokiness to the venison, I wonder if that’s because the boudin noir had been smoked?? Or the cocoa & sansho that is?


Blue and mascarpone cheese with macadamia granita (Optional dish)

This is another optional dish. I always love discovering a new combination to go with blue cheese, and this is something new I’d try. The dish has sort of half savoury half dessert feel to it.


Pre-dessert: Buttermilk, mint jelly and Japanese pumpkin granita

As a palate cleanser. Sourness of buttermilk and chilly granita really cut through the richness of previous dish, and we were so ready for the next dish to come.


“Chocolate Forest”
Soft chocolate, chestnut, elderflower cream, blackberry sorbet, blackberry candy, green tea, licorice, chocolate twigs, crystallised lemon thyme

Doesn’t this just look so pretty? It was a virtual forest in my mouth. As every spoonful of this went in my mouth with the sorbet, and chocolate elements made sounds like I was walking on a path in a forest, snapping off twigs with my foot as I walk. Love it!

As I mentioned earlier, during our degustation course their staff was very attentive and that made our dinner even more enjoyable. Highly recommended, and I definitely would like to revisit soon.

Sepia Restaurant & Wine Bar
201 Sussex street, Sydney NSW 2000
02 9283 1990
http://www.sepiarestaurant.com.au/


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Sushi dinner at Koi, Woolwich

Incredibly high quality Sushi. That’s all I’d like to say.
We’ve got a variety of Japanese restaurants available in Sydney area, and deciding where to eat can be challenging if you have never been to those. That’s when people throw me a question “Where do you usually go for Japanese?” And I usually give them a list of restaurants – from cheap quick to expensive course eat. I’d say, it’s hard to pick one if you don’t know what you are particularly after, and know where to go.

Today, Mitsu, Mayuri and I are determined to enjoy some quality sushi dinner, and we are here at Koi in Woolwich tonight. This is the place to go for sushi for their skilled chefs, great service, and of course their amazing quality of sushi. What’s my credibility? I’m Japanese and my mum is from sushi restaurant owner family, that’s my two cents.

Sano san the sushi chef in the main counter. A few years back, I had met him at Mitsu & Mayuri’s housewarming party where he had served us freshly made sushi. We sit at the counter, and of course went for his omakase sushi.

I guess it’s good for a group gathering to order assorted sushi plates along with other food to go with, but if you are after some great sushi, it’s better to sit at the counter and go for a la carte or omakase asking the chef what’s particularly fresh and good on the day. (That also means the higher price tag comes with it.)

Type of sushi they serve at the counter doesn’t need extra soy sauce to dip. It’s already seasoned the best. The sushi rice is a bit smaller than ones that you would see at Japanese restaurants, but this is the preferred size to enjoy and concentrate on the flavour and texture of the fish at its max.

And piece by piece good looking sushi was put on our plates.

Starting with Tsukidashi (Small entrée) of Octopus and grilled tuna. My god, look at these translucent slices of flesh! Each of them has its best fresh texture, and seasoned differently to match with its characteristic of the texture.

Chutoro (medium fat tuna) that Sano san confidently claimed to be great was exceptionally good indeed that it tasted almost like Ootoro (The fattest) – melting texture and hmm-hmm fatty layers like premium wagyu beef. One of the highlight for me was the Shimesaba (vinegar marinated mackerel) with a paper-thin konbu.

Each mouthful of the sushi, I was only to moan and surrender myself to its flavour.

The only designated drinker of the night.

After the array of these beautiful sushi, Sano san asked us if we were still up for more. We requested a few that we particularly liked. Then, we realised that the blocks of fishes at the counter, which was fully filled upon arriving, was pretty much gone. D..did..we..eat..that… much…..?
He quickly improvised and made us a bowl of Chirashi sushi to finish up. Damn, this is NICE! I wish I could come get this for lunch.

What a great dinner full of fantastic sushi! Honestly, I wouldn’t usually even feel like stuffing myself with sushi, especially at sushi-go-round type of places. Three of us were fully stuff with exceptional sushi tonight and reassured to come back for sushi to enjoy again soon.

Strongly recommended to sit at the counter and go for omakase!

Koi
102 Woolwich road, Woolwich
9817 6030
http://www.koi-dining.com.au/

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Pig & Pinot dinner @ Chophouse (2)

Food bloggers LOOOOVE wow factors in food. The evening was certainly one of them – 11kg of slow toasted organic suckling pig curved at the table. *squeals* What’s not to love about that! Pig & Pinot food blogger dinner was hosted by Chophouse, and a group of hungry food bloggers participated to enjoy and shared the feast time.

Adam Heathcote, operations manager of Pacific Restaurant Group, gave a speech – and I were to *ding-ding* and wiggle my fingers at every yummy keyword he threw like juicy, tender, etc. (Yes yes, I was listening.)

Our glasses were poured with Ostler Pinot Gris from southeastern New Zealand, and then the first dish was placed at our table.


The first dish: Jamon & Italian Buffalo mozzarella with roasted fennel, spring onion and almonds.

Silky mozzarella served on top of shaved jamon along with rosted fennel and spring onion. Creamy cheese, perfect saltiness from jamon, sweetness from roasted fennel and spring onion, and the acidity of Balsamic vinegar were such an amazing combination of flavour. It went really well with the Pinot that my wine glass quickly became empty. (and quickly refilled again. yay)


The second: Ceviche of Hervey bay sea scallops topped with Mt Lowe truffle, avruga and apple.

These fresh scallops had the freshness in the texture – you know, that bit of crunchiness/firmness in soft silky texture? Adam explains that the truffle was sourced from Oberon and shaved for dishes less than 24 hours. It was actually quite mild truffle – I thought I was the only one thinking like that and didn’t want to appear to be a pretentious foodie, but I wasn’t alone on this. Phew lol
AND. Everyone suddenly stopped followed by collective gasps.

OH. MY. GOD. Executive chef, David Clarke arrived at our table with what looks to me a golden treasure. With a tail.
Some might say “too graphic” or “so sad” but I can only say “YUM” We quickly whipped out our cameras and shoot shoot shoot! And we weren’t the only ones excited, other guests around us sticked their necks to take a peek. Definitely the highlight of the night that deserves to be the name of the dinner.


The suckling pig was quickly carved by the skilled hands of knife. Oh the cracklings ♥

Hmmm it just gives me shivering by looking at the shot. Crispy golden crackling and succulent juicy flesh!!

And of course we are not afraid of unusual parts of food. All to be eaten.


Side: Cauliflower Gratin


Side: Wedge salad. (hmmm the runny yolk!)


Side: Green beans

The gorgeous suckling pig was served along with these side dishes as well as apple sauce, jus and Harrisa. Along with the main, 2006 Ostler Caroline’s Pinot Noir was poured.


Dessert: Caramelised Banana Cheesecake with buttersotch & peanut brittle

Stuffed myself with the suckling pig, I was sending my prayer – “God, if you have to take me, it’s now.” The lovely cheesecake arrived, and I continue my prayer with “hold that thought.” It looked a bit heavy especially shortly after the pork, but not too heavy at all. In fact, I clean the plate completely.


Dessert: Swiss Milk Chocolate block

“Do you think the chocolate is coming too?” – whispering to Richard. And they didn’t disappoint me. It’s got toffee hazelnuts inside!

Along with the dessert, two bottles of XO Hennessy Cognac and Berta Grappa Nebbiolo Tre Soli Tre were put on our table. I know from previous bad experience, I decided to be caution and pour into my glass veeeery veeeery little. Confirmation: “Grappa is new Italian for Petrol.”

Absolutely fantastic dinner with full of joy – that’s what I can describe the night. Chophouse is opening up a new upstairs section in a few months, and they’ll be roasting different meat every night, and curved to order. I MUST COME BACK FOR THAT.



We were also given a bagful of goodies to take home with. Vacuum sealed dry aged Delmonico, Lindt macarons and Chophouse chocolate, along with David’s 8 steps to the perfect steak instructions. Awww thank you very very much!

Huge thanks to Adam, David, and Sarah for the awesome evening!

hungry.digital.elf. dined as a guest of Chophouse.

Chophouse
25 Bligh St, Sydney
1300 246 748
http://www.chophouse.com.au/


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Dinner at Tetsuya’s

Have you guys seen the posts from the fantastic Christmas in July dinner over at Billy’s? I’m damn bummed that I couldn’t make it – so many hearty dishes & sleepover with favourite food bloggers – Oh… I shouldn’t think about that again, it’ll only make me depressed ;p

So in the mean time, what the hell was I doing…? well…

I managed to get a table at Tetsuya’s for dinner with such a last minute notice!! A friend in need is a friend indeed. AMEN TO THAT! This is my third time having dinner at Tetsuya’s, and it always excites me with what dish would come next.

What really impresses me at Tetsuya’s every time is that the great dinning experience starts with such a superior service as soon as we put our feet into the restaurant. After warm greetings, we were seated by the window looking over the Japanese garden. Complimentary champagne were poured into our glasses, we proposed a toast, and patiently waited for the first dish.

First course was the warm chesnut soup. Silky smooth nutty flavour just exploded! It was really a nice dish to start the whole dinning experience. And. I was seriously moaning in PLEASURE with the second dish – how can Kingfish be this tasteful?! And more surprise continues. Scampi, goat cheese and silken tofu. Scampi and tofu was the combination I have had before somewhere else, but with goat cheese? The creamy soft texture of scampi and other two was simply awesome.

And now we’re onto mains. “OH THIS IS MY FAVOURITE!” - I had to cut in with my perky voice as our waiter was about to explain the signature dish – Confit ocean trout with ShioKonbu. Another highlight of mains was the ox tail with sea cucumber. The ox tail was tender and flavourful, and sea cucumber, which I have to admit that I’m not too found of, was nicely crunchy as it should be and went really well with refreshing yuzu drizzle. And Angus beef steak – like Tetsuya himself says in the recent TV appearance, it’s meaty and tastes the meat-ness itself.

Dessert time. REALLY? It was nearing the end of courses.
The first up, pear sorbet with walnuts & bread pudding. (oops, I had “peach” written in the caption…) Pear sorbet was to cleanse our palette – icy refreshment surely has set my mouth for the pudding, which was rich and creamy with fragrant cinnamon flavour. I was a bit surprised to see such a simple dessert, but I’ve got to say this was the best bread pudding I ever had so far. (hmm, but again, I don’t think I ever had enough to compare to begin with, to be honest lol)

As you might already know, the whole dinner course at Tetsuya’s lasts at least for 3-4 hours. And besides these great dishes we were served, I always enjoy the exciting anticipation for the next dishes. That’s one of the reasons I MUST go back periodically to find out their new dishes!

Who’s coming with me next time?!

Check out the last two previous dinners at Tetsuya’s too!

Tetsuya’s
529 Kent Street, Sydney NSW
02-9267-2900

Food bloggers’ dinner – Bistro CBD

HI HI HI! Do you remember me?! After more than two months of absence, I’m baaaack, at least for now.
Things were frantically busy that I was barely pulling myself together. Man, I have, like, 3 months worth of back logs… But let’s just put the boring stuff aside, and get to the yummies.

You’ve seen it, read it, done it, been there, eaten with them. Dinning with food floggers always surprises you with something impressive, creative, unique, awesome, tasty, rare to find, incredibly huge, incredibly tiny etc. And that’s one of the things I love about spending time with them – some wow factor with food.

The food bloggers’ dinner was taken place at Bistro CBD by Merivale as one of their winter promotion events, where our favourite four food bloggers take a challenge to work their ass off in the commercial kitchen and serve 70 hungry guests, to be specific, 70 *paying* guests. All of them have been known for their impressive culinary talents and skills, but I had never seen them in a professional kitchen situation – I was so thrilled to find out what they had been busy preparing their courses!

As soon as I walked into CBD hotel, I found familiar faces already enjoying their drinks. I had to miss out on so many dinning occasions with them, it was so great catching up with them!

I know this wasn’t only me who was screaming inside “OHHH MY GWAAAD, WE DONT HAVE MUCH LIGHTING INSIDE!!” – yes yes, nicely dimmed low light can be romantic and it’d set the mood and stuff, but to food bloggers, it simply means extra work with their cameras. I do not have excellent camera skills like others do, and I knew I’d be having hard time taking pictures! (Thanks god, at least I’m a professional photoshopper!)

So, please bear with my poor camera skill – these dishes looked more impressive and beautiful than how they look in my pictures. (But it turned out that iPad was a good source of light. hahaha.)


First course: Sashimi of kingfish, avocado, wasabi, lime and soft herbs – Simun Dragicevich (Bistro CBD chef)

Fresh kingfish with mildness of olive oil was accompanied with tangy lime and wasabi. Sharpness of lime and wasabi and silky kingfish texture was a great combination on my tongue.


Second course: Shish Barak, Middle eastern style dumpling – Fouad

Oh loved these crispy dumplings! He explained that he used Gyoza pastry instead of traditional thick pastry to make the dumplings crispier. Juicy lamb minced was well-seasoned and I love how they tastes as is, but sourness from the garlic and yoghurt sauce worked really well and cut through the richness of the dumplings.


Third course: “Pork you!” twice cooked pork belly – Billy

Billy is the pork man – he has already proven to many of us that he knows how to work with pork! Amazingly tender and succulent twice cooked pork belly was placed on the beautifully vivid red beetroot sauce along with apple gel, cubed beetroot and crumbled black pudding. I really could go for another slice of the pork belly!


Fourth course: Braised Beef in PX sherry – Karen

Oh man, melting tender beef cheeks! I have such a week spot for tender braised meat, and Karen has done such an awesome job on this. What it looks like pureed potato is actually a cauliflower puree, which goes well with the melting goodness. And look look, I’ve got one with fat layers. Me likes!


Fifth course: “This and that” – Linda

So what’s for dessert? The title didn’t give away much clue and some of us were guessing that it would definitely involve macarons – we know she’s a determined macaronian! But we were wrong in a good way. Perfection that it was in fact. The chocolate terrine with salt flakes and lemon olive oil ice cream garnished with a tuile. I wasn’t quite sure what the ice cream was made from until explained by Linda – smooth mild taste and texture with a hint of acidity – it goes fantastic with rhubarb jam! Absolutely fantastic desserts to end the course with. I really loved the different layers of chocolate – ganache, mousse and brownie, works magically with the salt flakes.

Even from their tweets from previous nights, I can obviously tell that they have put so much effort and thoughts into the dinner this evening. All of their wonderful dishes were also accentuated with their personalities- where they came from, passion & love for food, and I enjoyed every bite of it. Kudos for Fouad, Billy, Karen and Linda for successfully satisfying 70 people with amazing dishes!

So who’s the next food bloggers to go through the pressure?

****

There was an announcement at the end that Bistro CBD will close its door on the evening, and will be reopening as BiStrode CBD in mid August.

Bistro CBD
52 King Street, Sydney NSW 2000 Australia

Late night cooking: Okonomi style corn fritters & Gyunyu Purin

Would you like some fritters? Yes? Cool, I’ll make some, let’s eat!
Despite it’s 1am.

Oh corn fritters. They are so simple yet can be such a satisfying dish, especially for some lazy weekend brunch. I love ones at Bill’s, and I always have a huge debate in my head – “Corn fritters or Ricotta pancake.” What makes me realise every single time is that using fresh ingredients definitely impacts on how the dish would turn out. Nothing wrong with using canned food for cooing, but when it comes to corn fritters, I must use fresh corns.

So tonight (yes, tonight), my brain protested its mental hunger and proposed “Corn fritters or no sleep.” The only rational thing to do is to accept its demand and get some sleep in return. You know, I’m a rational civilised adult after all. ;p As I was quite hungry, I also added a tin of tuna to my usual corn fritter ingredients.

Recipe adapted from Bill Granger‘s corn fritter on LifeStyle Food. I’ve also added some tuna flakes – which by the way made the fritters look more like an Okonomiyaki.


So why not finish them with oh-so-yummy Japanese Mayo like an okonomiyaki.


For the side, sliced granny smith apple (left over from previous apple hamburg steak) tossed with sea salt, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

And don’t forget a dessert.
When I was in college back in Japan (btw, I’ve spent my freshman year in Japan.), I was totally addicted to 森永牛乳プリン (Morinaga Milk Pudding) that was sold in the college cafeteria. My friends used to spot me there secretly buying out all of the puddings before they’d sell out. What’s so good about it is that it’s got such a simple and silky smooth sweetness that almost brings back some childhood memories, like some homemade dessert.


Soy milk, double cream and condensed milk mixed in 4:1:1 ratio, Gelatine + Agar, Vanilla extract, that’s it! Again, I don’t measure ingredients, go with the flow and adjust as you like. It tastes great as is, but adding some Japaneseness to it with Azuki (Sweet red bean) sauce is definitely a plus. And some whipped cream.


You can simply use gelatine or agar only, but the combination will create smooth, soft and wobbly yet firm enough texture. If you want to make it much richer, just use whole milk instead of soy milk. I chose soy milk simply because I like it.

My brain and stomach satisfied, and that’s when my bed time is.

Get stinky with it.

There’s absolutely no doubt that smell is a very essential factor in food experience, and I often find surprising that there exists a lot of food in which their smell can be almost too intense to be food. For instance, blue cheese – some of my friends say they could never enjoy eating it because of its smell. And I’m no exception when it comes down to a few unique food from different culture, such as Taiwanese stinky tofu. (I can’t help thinking that must be what BO tastes like…) I guess we generally process fermented or smelly food as alarming stuff to eat, of course unless it’s publicly recognised and known to be edible, like cheese or fruits like a durian.

In Japanese food, we do have a range of stinky food as well. (btw, these days it’s popularly accepted, but I remember that Miso (Fermented soybean paste) used to be treated as ‘exotic smelly food from Japan’) But the most popular stinky food from Japan must be Natto (Fermented soybean) Not only its smell (which is often referred as dirty socks..), how you eat is rather interesting. It’s so sticky and gooey that it produces sticky spider-web like strings as you mix – The more you mix, the stickier it gets. Natto is usually mixed with soy sauce and chopped spring onion, and pour over steamed rice.

So today, I bought a few pack of Natto from Japanese grocery shop and make something with it. I assume many of you would not like Natto, but there’re some recipes that reduce the smell of Natto yet bring out other flavour. To be honest, I’m not particularly a big fan of Natto – though I can eat. But I find myself enjoying it in this dish. Natto fried rice!

Ingredients:
1 Natto pack
Chopped spring onion
Soy sauce
Steamed rice (Preferably not freshly cooked one. Leftover rice is better in fact.)

With a little bit of olive oil in the pan, place natto and stir fry until slightly brown. Natto shouldn’t be pre-mix nor seasoned with soy sauce. Add chopped spring onion and rice, and continue to stir fry. When the rice grains are no longer sticking each other, add soy sauce right before you take the pan off the stove and evenly distribute.


How simple is that?
I’m not going to lie, it still got the Natto smell but much less intense. stirfrying Natto actually cuts down alot of stickiness and makes the flavour more mellow & milder. I know Natto is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are “i’ve tried it before, not my favourite but I can eat.” type of person, you might enjoy this little easy & simple dish.

I just need to remember to open my window when I cook Natto though. ;p

Self Battle Royale with Apples.

Backlog backlog backlog. The last 3 months before tax year end is always the busiest time for me every year. On top of my current full time contract work, a few other projects are coming in and out and I’ve got to put my fun stuff aside during this time of the year!

One of the big food blogger events that I have missed is Battle Royale cook-off organised by Billy (A Table for Two), Ellie (Almost Bourdain) and Linda (Eat, Show & Tell) where 11 Sydney food bloggers participated to come up with idea for either a dessert using vegetable or a savoury using fruits. And I was invited to do a savoury dish, but unfortunately I was unable to attend due to high volume of work to do over the weekend. But I have tried and come up with this idea for the event, and I’ll share with you.

So what I was going to cook for the battle? Well, I was in a savoury team along with other fantastic cooks – Ellie, Helen, Minh, Richard and Simon. I knew from the beginning that I would have no way of winning against these guys. And coming up with some ordinary recipe with ordinary ingredients would be just too boring and predictable, right? I had to cook something that everyone goes “No you didn’t make that out of this fruit!” – regardless of what that would taste like ;p

What I have chosen is Granny Smith Apple. I know, I know, it sounds still too ordinary, but here’s my reason for it.
1) It’s got texture that can be easily controlled. Granny smith apple as is (uncooked) can have fibre dense texture, but once cooked it’ll turn into smooth soft texture.
2) It can be sweet & sour or even bland tasted so it’s rather easier to add flavour with other ingredients.

And here’s my Granny Smith Apple hamburg Steak with no meat. I’d say mostly all apple!

ab1
What do you think?

Ingredients
3 coarsely grated Granny Smith Apples
1 cup of grated tofu
1/2 cup of oatmeal
a bit of soy milk – just to combine oatmeal with other ingredients.
2 tea spoons baking powder
2 eggs
chopped and browned onions & mushrooms
2 cloves garlic grated
salt & pepper to season
1 table spoon of sugar
sprinkles of sesame oil
soy sauce and Worcester sauce

Sauce
Soy sauce
Sugar
Squeezed apple juice
Sweet balsamic reduction
Tomato sauce
Mirin
Konbu (Kelp) Dashi soup stock
Finely grated apple
Chopped butter sauteed chopped onions

Rough recipe (Sorry, I don’t cook with detailed measurement!)
Grate apples and squeeze out its juice. Keep the juice for sauce later on.
Combine all other ingredients with the grated apple and mix well.
Shape and panfry until brown.

Sauce
In a sauce pan, combine all ingredients and bring to boil. Depending on the sourness of the apple, add Mirin or sugar. Reduce the sauce until it gets desired thickness.

You know what, I was quite surprised how it actually turned out – in a good way. Because the apples I got was pretty bland tasted that I would usually call “Bad apples”, it pretty much contributed to help creating rather interesting texture to it. And in fact, apple/apple juice works pretty well with soy sauce when it’s combined and reduced.

I took it even further this time. Slice up the apple, slowly cook in a sauce pan with a bit of Dashi, sugar, salt and light. Once it became softer and translucent, place on a kitchen paper and pad dry. Then sand the slices in each hamburg steak mixture.

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Doesn’t it look like it’s got a melting cheese in it? It’s lightly salty apple slices!
I was really keen to present this at the event and see how others think. I’m looking forward to the next one to happen soon!

Make sure to check out these posts and find out awesome dishes these food bloggers have come up with!

A Table for Two: http://www.atablefortwo.com.au/2010/04/28/the-food-bloggers-battle-royale-cook-off/
Almost Bourdain: http://almostbourdain.blogspot.com/2010/04/blog-post.html
Chocolate Suze: http://www.chocolatesuze.com/2010/04/28/battle-royale-food-blogger-style
Citrus and Candy: http://www.citrusandcandy.com/2010/04/sydney-food-bloggers-battle-royale.html
Raspberri Cupcakes: http://raspberricupcakes.blogspot.com/2010/04/beetroot-desserts.html
Eat, Show & Tell: http://www.eatshowandtell.com/2010/04/26/the-food-bloggers-battle-royale-cook-off/
Grab Your Fork: http://grabyourfork.blogspot.com/2010/05/recipe-lychee-pork-ribs-and-food.html
Here comes the food: http://www.herecomesthefood.com.au/home-cooking/foodblogger-battle-royale-cook-off-2010.html

Sweet (almost) midnight time.

Just tell me why I always get impulsive craving for food around midnight? I feel like I’m Cinderella trying to gobble up food before turning back to a fat pig at midnight.

The other day on my way home from work, I was thinking of heading to NorthBridge and get some Japanese grocery at Tokyo Mart. The plan was immediately dismissed as the traffic into the area had turned out to be nothing but nightmare. So instead, I went down to Artarmon and visited Anegawa grocery shop. (1 Wilkes Ave, Artarmon)

Anegawa is a relatively smaller Japanese grocery shop compared to other major ones, but they are favoured by many many Japanese for certain reasons. They often have rare stuff that other places usually don’t carry. For instance, fresh Yuzu citrus, Shiso leaves, Japanese white radish (sweeter and thicker) etc. And on this visit, I had to gasp and stop as I found a boxful of Satsuma potato. Of course I grabbed three of big ones.

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Satsuma potato is basically a Japanese sweet potato. What’s so Japanese about it is that the kind is much sweeter than ordinary ones we would find at supermarkets and less watery after cooking. Satsuma potato has a texture like a cooked regular potato wheres others tend to become like a cooked carrot if you know what I mean. (i.e. those kinds that are also called yam or orange coloured ones.)

Some say Satsuma Potato is best to steam and eat as is – which I tend to agree, but this time I was crazily keen to make what’s called “Sweet Potato.” I know, it’s weird to say “making sweet potato using sweet potato.”, right? If you say “Sweet potato”, or rather ‘SU EEETO POTETOH’, it means a sweet made of satsuma potato in Japanese. I have absolutely no idea why I got this sudden urge and craving for it late at night, but my brain dictated me to go on. There was nothing that I could do about it ;p

I’ll show you what it looks like and its basic recipe. Or you can see images of the sweet potato on google.

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Cut satsuma potato into pieces and boil or steam (up to you) until cooked. Then throw them in a bowl along with some butter and mush until it becomes smooth textured. Look at the yellow colour of the potato. It’s got the higher sugar content than other kind of potato that the potato looks translucent.

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It is already sweet enough, but I can’t resist adding another flavour of sweetness. Instead of adding heavy cream and sugar, I chose to substitute with condensed milk. Everybody loves that, am I right?

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Oh yeah. But not too much. I had to tell myself that I can drizzle it over later, not now.

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Put the mixture on an oven tray with a baking sheet and shape it like a mini satsuma potato.

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Now apply eggwash with a cookig brush. You wouldn’t want to add any liquid to the egg york, it’s pure egg york. Make sure to apply thickly and plenty of it because it’s not only for a glossy look but I want to make a ‘skin’ for the sweet potato. Place the try into 180C oven and bake until you get a golden brown skin on each one.

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Ta-da. Straight out of the oven. It’s best to eat at room temperature, so let them cool for awhile.
At this point, the clock had stricken 1am and I decided to leave it till the morning.

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And here’s the finished look. The skin actually holds the moisture inside, so the texture should be smooth and moist with yummy satsuma flavour.

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It tastes pretty good as is, but I also love pouring melted butter over it.

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I also know that, as you might have guessed me doing it, it’s great with some whipped cream. It’s definitely a perfect sweet to enjoy with a nice cup of tea. Highly recommended!

nom nom.