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Turnip and fennel kimchi

>> Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Or I should learn to differentiate between swede, turnip and radish. Really. 

Edit!!! Thanks to Kathryn and ganga, the purpple vegie is identified as TURNIP. :) thanks guys. These vegies are so confusing for me. xoxo


For a few weeks now, my parents in law have moved in with us. Upon hearing the news, all my friends responded in surprise and quickly pointed to the golden rule #1 of happy family life, Vietnamese edition: Avoid living with parents in law with all cost. Of course, they also told me tons of horror stories of daughter-mother-in-law relationship, where the (often new) bride ended up in tears and sorrow.

I guess that might be true in some cases, not mine. The thing is, my parents in law are really amusing (oops, is it even the right word?) to live with. I have never lived with so many people before. It is fun. Like my sister mentions, there are like 4 different languages spoken at my home now. We also have a lot of similarities and differences in lifestyles. A mixed bag, and thankfully a fun one.

I get on well with my MIL. She hates cooking, I love it. I hate cleaning up and organising things, she loves it. I cannot sew, she’s a master. I like pretty flowers while she collects weird-looking succulents. But there are two main things that hook us: both of us love Mr. B (obviously) and she loves my cooking. I tell you, that solves a lot of problems.


With my MIL around, I have someone who shares my fondness of kimchi with. I know it sounds pathetic but no one in my family loves kimchi. My sister won’t go near it, while mr. B only eats it when being forced. My father in law only likes curries. But I and my MIL loves kimchi. *hi5*

So, finally, I can make kimchi at home. I go a bit untraditional in terms of vegetable mix for my first batch: turnip and fennel. (Actually I thought the purple-cream round vegetable was radish. Heh. How little did I know about my vegies!) Anyway, while the veg mix is unusual, the kimchi seasoning is quite traditional.

I am loving the result. The vegetables remain crunchy and have the right amount of sourness to them. (I call it “ripe”). And kimchi fennel? I know Kathryn and Ganga have meant to know the results of this experiment. It is awesome people. Awesome!


Obviously this kimchi recipe only appeals to those who love this kind of smelly pickles. I am absolutely fine that at the dinner table only my MIL and I are enthusiastic about it. I don’t care. I am happy to get my “kimchi fix” at home now.

Turnip and fennel kimchi

I think the great thing about making your own kimchi is you can adjust the ingredients to your liking. I am not a big fan of Chinese chives smell, so I only used a tiny bit. This recipe produces spicy-sour-crunchy kimchi, which is not overly sweet. A keeper.

Other vegs to use: turnip, daikon etc.

2 turnips
1 fennel
A handful of Chinese chives (to taste – more if u like/can tolerate the smell) - sliced

For the kimchi seasoning – adapted from “authentic recipes from Korea”

4 tablespoons glutinous rice flour
1 ½ cup water
3 tbps garlic paste
3 tbps ginger paste
4 tbp fish sauce (* i heard traditionally fermented shrimp is used*)
10 tbp ground pepper (don’t worry, it’s not that hot)
½ tbp sugar


Skin the turnip and cut into i-inch cubes. Do the same thing with the fennel. Add 1 tbp sea salt to the vegie mixture, stir to combine and leave for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the kimchi seasoning. Basically, put flour and water in a saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until the paste thickens. Cool then combine with garlic, ginger paste, fish sauce, sugar and ground pepper.

Rinse the vegie under running cold water. Drain well. Wearing food-grade glove, carefully mix the kimchi seasoning with the vegie mixture together with the chopped chives. Make sure the paste coat the vegies nicely.

Place the mixture in an air-tight container. Leave in a cold dark place overnight and store in the fridge. The kimchi is ready to use when it turns sour. (I left mine outside for 2 nights).

Kimchi - the making
                   Photo: kimchi - the making


A moment in life #49 - The Unbearable Lightness of Being

>> Monday, April 25, 2011

I haven't posted my non-food photos in a while {not that I have that many to share around}. So, here it is, something I quite like - a shot of an iris petal.

The name of the book/movie "the unberable lightness of being" popped into my head as I reviewed the picture.

""Anyone whose goal is 'something higher' must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves."

— Milan Kundera

{Another photo of the same theme}

The Unbearable Lightness of Being


Weekend Herb Blogging #279 - The Recap

>> Monday, April 18, 2011

What a fantastic roundup of Weekend Herb Blogging. As usual, we have a variety of offerings, and I am enjoying all the delicious posts. Hope you do, too!

We will start with something sweet...

Honey baked figs with French Toasts by Haalo from Cook (almost) anything at least once

I love figs and always look for ideas of how to use them. This simple and delicious recipe is my answer! Gotta do it before fig season ends.

Autumn Apple Cake by Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe

I always love Johanna's cakes. They are full of goodness and simple to make. This apple cake is full of flavours, with lots of apples and dried fruits. And the lovely crumble topping, too!

Grilled Plantain with Palm Sugar and Cheddar Cheese by Fikranilam of GrownInKitchen

I have never tried grilled plaintain before, but through Fikranilam's descriptions, I know I am missing out on something really good. A new combo for me, and it's certainly interesting.

Now onto the savoury dishes. Lots of healthy inspirations!

Mixed vegies (Misto di verdure in teglia)
by Cinzia from Cindystar 

Cinzia showed us how to jazz up a pre-mix vegetables into something totaly delicious and healthy. I love how light and colorful it is!

Mujadara (Middle Eastern Lentil Rice) by Kalinda from Wheat Free Meat Free

Something that I can eat everyday! Lentil and rice are staples, but the additon of spices and mint makes this even more special.

A.C.'s Chinese Cabbage Noodle Salad by Rachel from the Crispy Cook

Another grea vegetable recipe, and this time the key ingredient is cabbage. The classic sweet-sour flavours work beautifully here. And the noodles make it a complete healthy meal.

A power congee with Amaranth and other seeds by tigerfish from teczcape - an escape to food

 I enjoy reading tigerfish's experiment with her "power congee", which is full of healthy grains and seeds. I have only made my congee with traditional white rice! But now I am looking for more additions :).

Sweet and Sour Lentils with Carrot, Bell Pepper over Arugula by Janet from The Taste Space

Oh. What a great way to serve lentils. I can already imagive the sweet and sour flavours, together with that lovely peppery taste of arugula Something I will try, soon.

Spaghetti with fresh artichokes and toasted breadcrumbs - Anh from A food lover's journey

Finally, my contribution. This is one of my favourite way of cooking artichokes. And the panko (japanese breadcrumbs) provide a crunchy dimension to the pasta dish.

That is for Weekend Herb Blogging #279! Please let me know if I miss out any entries. :)


Spaghetti with fresh artichokes and toasted breadcrumb

>> Sunday, April 17, 2011

Weekend Herb Blogging

Spaghetti with braised artichoke, toasted breadcrumbs

Last week I got a chance to catch up with my uni friends after a few years. It was sort of funny to see how everyone has progressed and settled down. We talked of the old days. Of the memories that we all treasured.. when we were able to meet almost everyday, discussing ideas and ambition, inspiring each others.

It was inspiring, since I am sort of at the cross-roads again. What to do, how to pursuit the things that I love to do. Or should I settle down, aiming for something less but more peaceful. Decisions need to be made and it’s never easy…

I’ve found much peace in gardening of late. I want to stay outside a bit more, treasuring the last few warm days before winter completely takes over. We haven’t truly settled in terms of housing yet (patience!), so I opt to grow a lot of things in container. Herbs, mostly. And flowers, too.

Truth to be told I am still uncertain of my next step. That, and the fact that my work and study have become overwhelming lately means that blog updates are slow. But I am still around. :)

Onto food. I am loving artichokes at the moment. I never get over creative with them, though. This artichoke paella recipe is something I make regularly. And now, the pasta with panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) is something I am looking forward to. Here, fresh artichokes are cooked in a microwave, so everything is really simple, fast and delicious. I love artichokes flavours - the subtle sweetness, and lovely texture. (Side note: I am not a big fan of the Vietnamese way of cooking artichokes, often in stew with lots of fatty cuts of meat. Uh!)

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is hosted by yours truly. I will accept entries until Monday morning (Melbourne time). New to WHB? Make sure to read this post by Haalo.

Spaghetti with fresh artichokes with panko
Ingredients (for 2 portions)
200g spaghetti
5 small artichokes
100ml olive oil (for the artichoke)
squeeze of half lemon (for the artichoke)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bird eye chilli, deseeded and minced
150ml extra virgin olive oil - for the spaghetti
100g panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2-3 tbp fresh lemon juice

parsley, chopped. And parmesan cheese, freshly grated.

1. Prepare the artichoke first. Cut the stalks off 5cm from the base. Carefully peel of the green tough layer and what is yellow is tender. Cut the tips off these and peel the base. Scrape out any furry choke with a teaspoon and cut each prepared artichokes lengthways (google for video!). Keep the artichoke in some water with lemon juice to prevent discoloring.

2. Arrange artichokes in microwave safe bowl. Drizzle 100ml olive oil and 200ml water. Cover with cling wrap and cook in the microwave until just tender. (This depends on the power of your microwave. It took me about 5-7 mins - and my microwave was one of those "ancient" ones). Once the artichokes are cooked, cool and cut into wedges.

3. In a non stick pan, add breadcrumbs and stir until golden. Set aside.

4. Cook the spaghetti in a big pot of salted water. Put oil into a large saucepan, then, add in minced garlic and chilli. Stir until fragrant. Then, add in cooked spaghetti, artichoke. Season to taste with salt and lemon juice. If the spaghetti looks dry, put in a bit of the cooking water. Finally, stir through breadcrumb just before serving

5. Garnish with chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese.


Delicious Vietnam #12 – the Recap!

>> Thursday, April 14, 2011

The roundup is here, finally. As usual, we have an amazing array of recipes,  food reviews and exotic food adventures. So exciting! 12 months ago, when I and Ravenous Couple started this event, we would not imagine that it would still be running until now. So, thanks everyone who participated and supported us.

Before proceeding, just a note that Delicious Vietnam #13 will be hosted by Jing of My fusion kitchen. Please send your delicious entries to her before May 15, 2011 to myfusionkitchen[at]


Vịt Tiềm Bí – Tonic Duck Noodle Soup with Spaghetti Squash from rauom

“The central appeal of the dish is the use of thuốc Bắc (traditional Chinese medicinal herbs) that give the duck and broth an ancient, mysterious fragrance...”

Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) from Door to my kitchen

"...Today I am introducing to you the Pho as I know it. Not the famous Pho you’d find in those Hanoi Old Quarters with their traditional sweet bone broth (and also the infamous amount of MSG they use), but the Pho I grew up with in my home, made by my Mom on those lazy weekends when we wanted comfort food on the table within a flash..."

Ginger and pork, prawn claypot rice from My fusion kitchen

"....I have tried to give a little bit of my ‘Fusion’ touch by using ginger marinaded pork (used a lot in Japanese food) and granny smith apples. I have also used vinegar in the sauce and it goes so well with pork and apple. The rice pot is light and refreshing!"

Cà ri gà (Vietnamese chicken curry) by Javaholic

"There are many recipes for ca ri ga out there. Although I have tried many of them, I keep coming back to this one, which I have been using for the last twenty years or so. Its use of both curry powder and curry paste, the use of less coconut milk than some other recipes, and the frying of the potatoes before adding them to the sauce are what set this curry apart. "

Canh Dua Chua Thia La - Pickled Mustard Green and Dill Soup - from Ravenous Couple

"in this post we want to feature dill and mustard greens--pickled mustard greens to be exact. This seemingly strange combination makes for a deliciously fragrant and tangy soup called canh dua chua thia la, found in many Vietnamese homes but never in any restaurants..."

Vietnamese Braised Pork and Eggs in Coconut

This dish requires caramelised sugar, which adds a nice sweet caramel flavour to the dish, and also gives the meat a nice reddish brown colour. I used canned coconut juice, remember to use those without any added sugar, fresh is of course preferred and best. Instead of braising the meat for hours, I used the pressure cooker then left it to simmer uncovered to reduce the sauce.


Sinh Tố Cà Phê (Vietnamese Coffee Shake) from The Culinary Chronicles

In Việt Nam, Sinh Tố is usually made with fruits such as pineapples, mangoes, and avocados. It’s blended with milk, condensed milk, and ice to make a deliciously refreshing treat. But since I’m a major caffeine addict, I thought a Cà Phê flavored Sinh Tố would be the best of both worlds.

Chè hai màu – two-color drinks - A food lover's Journey

"This is a kind of popular Vietnamese desserts, which are very versatile. The ingredients can vary from cooked mung bean, various kinds of tapioca pearls to jellies etc. All are served with sweetened coconut milk, and some crushed ice in summer. I love the look of this dessert. It is surely colorful, cheerful and can be an instant ‘pick me up’. In fact the name of the drinks varies depending on the number of colors of the ingredients – three, and even seven"


Bánh quy (turtle mochi) by Flavor Boulevard

They’re round and flat at the bottom, each placed on a small cut of banana leaf, purposefully shaped like a turtle shell resting on wet grass. If you look closely you can even see some faint crevices near the rim. So there, mystery unveiled: “quy” means “turtle” in Han-Viet, and the banh gets its name from its look...

Phuoc and her 'snake banquet' adventure - from Phuoc n delicious (Warning! animal activists/environmentalists/vegetarians, look away!)

"that night we decided to go to Le Mat snake village to try the snake banquet. There are several restaurants here specialising in snake, so not knowing which one to go to I asked our taxi driver to take us to the best one he knows. Through narrow and often dark streets he took us to this place that was in the middle of nowhere! "

If you are into snake adventure, here's another account from Bunny.Eats.Designs.

Eating In The Old Quarter, Hanoi - Bunny.Eats.Design

"I looked forward to the restaurants and street vendors that specialised in 1 thing and 1 thing only. You don’t really get that kind of expertise in Auckland. Here they try and offer everything instead of perfecting one thing. We were ready to eat noodle soup, lemongrass chicken, bahn mi and, unbeknownst to my husband, snake..."


Chè hai màu – Vietnamese two-color drinks

>> Sunday, April 10, 2011

For Delicious Vietnam #12

Vietnamese dessert - chè

I have been busy, busy, busy… No time for myself, no time for a decent meal. It’s been insane. I’m travelling out this week, so the recap of Delicious Vietnam #12 might be a bit late. But it’s coming, I promise!

Meanwhile, let’s talk about this lovely dessert - Chè hai màu – two-color drinks. This is a kind of popular Vietnamese desserts, which are very versatile. The ingredients can vary from cooked mung bean, various kinds of tapioca pearls to jellies etc. All are served with sweetened coconut milk, and some crushed ice in summer. I love the look of this dessert. It is surely colorful, cheerful and can be an instant ‘pick me up’. In fact the name of the drinks varies depending on the number of colors of the ingredients – three, and even seven.


Now I didn’t make this dessert from scratch. I simply picked up the two boxes of ingredients from a Vietnamese grocery. The red one, called hạt lựu, is made from water chesnut, sweetened and coated with tapioca starch. The texture is crunchy, and lovely. The green one, called bánh lọt, is cooked mixture of rice flours. It’s almost like pasta, and perhaps some of you would know it by the name chendol. These are flavoured with pandan paste.(Making both of these from scratch is not that hard, but I would only bother to do it after having zillions of sleeps, a few holidays, and one or two drama/movie marathons!)

Vietnamese dessert - chè

To eat, prepare the coconut milk sauce by heating coconut milk, and add enough dark brown sugar to your liking. Cool down, and serve with enough hạt lựu and bánh lọt. Add ice if you wish.

I have kept things really simple for this post. Minimal (almost none) styling or set up. I found the two glasses from my MIL’s shed last week. And the flowers? They are blooming in my garden right now even though summer has passed away…

Vietnamese dessert - chè

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