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Fried brown rice with Shiitake mushrooms. And a walk in CloudeHill.

>> Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fried brown rice with shikate mushrooms and peas

"I need a break. Let's go somewhere to free our minds". 

With just that, Mr. B and I went on a short, daily trip together. Sometimes, it is better not to think about work or commitments, and get out there.


 I am glad we did. We found ourselves wandering in a beautiful garden called CloudeHill up in Dadenong Range. The weather that day wasn't splendid. The outcast sky and light rain gave the place a lonely, somewhat melancholy look. But it was still beautiful. We stepped through the well-maintained, formal spaces. A minute later, the formal garden gave way to a more informal section, with high tree, narrow path, lots of clovers and random lily of the valleys.

And a walk in CloudeHill.

 We came back, energised and refreshed. I like to think of it as a "healing session". Healing food. I like that concept. I came home from the trip, thinking of that delicate balance and wanted something simple, clean and soothing. Fried rice that was, with brown rice, shitake mushrooms and a few ingredients from the cupboard.


 Brown rice fried rice with Shiitake mushrooms

Printable Recipe
(Based on a recipe from martha stewart magazine)


2 cups jasmine brown rice
3 large eggs
300g fresh Shiitake mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
A small piece of ginger

3 tablespoons soya sauce
1 tablespoon Korean pepper paste
1/2 cup peas
1 teaspoon sesame oil

3 tablespoons of neutral taste oil


Soak the brown rice for a few hours. Drain well after that.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Slowly add the rice, stir to combine. Wait until the water get back to boiling poin, turn the heat down and simmer until the rice is cooked, around 20-30 minutes. Drain and keep warm.

In the mean time, crush the garlic and mince the ginger.

Beat the eggs with a dash of soya sauce and pepper. Fry in a non-stock pan into thin omelette. Cut into fine strands.

Cut the mushrooms into 1cm thick slice.

When the rice has cooled down, heat up the oil in a large wok. Add ginger and garlic, then the mushrooms. Cook, stir occasionally until the mushrooms are just cooked through, then, throw in the rice, peas, Mix well, season with soy sauce, pepper paste.

Just when the rice is done, gently stir in the eggs and sesame oil. Dish out and serve immediately.


Travel Information:
CloudeHill Nursery Gardens
89 Olinda Monbulk Road
Olinda, Victoria, Aus. 

Nursery: 03 9751 1009


Easy spicy lamb skewers & a tangy burghul salad

>> Monday, November 21, 2011

Easy spicy lamb skewers & a tangy burghul salad

It rained the whole Saturday, and then the sun came out brightly on Sunday. It felt so sudden, but we are used to (or rather, fed up with) this typical Melbourne weather. I was thinking of my trip to Preston market the previous day, how I got soaked in the rain. And driving in and out of the chaotic car park was not a pleasant experience.

 But then, I got a beautiful box of cherries, mangoes, asparagus and other seasonal produces. Stone fruits have also made their appearance. Just lovely. My trusted butcher also managed to "up sell" a leg of lamb to me. I initially thought of doing a lamb roast on Sunday, but the sunny weather changed my plan. Instead, we had BBQ lamb skewer. 

At our house, we only do BBQ over a char coal kettle. No gas BBQ for us, since we love the char flavours a lot. I make satay and Vietnamese meat skewers this way. No compromise!

 I have adapted a lovely marinate recipe from Gref Malouf for my meat. The spices go particularly well with lamb. I even consider that cumin is the perfect partner to lamb, even more so than rosemary. The end result is spicy, juicy spring lamb skewers.

We enjoyed our BBQ lamb pieces with a simple burghul salad, wrapped in fresh lettuce and radish slices. The salad itself is something I should make more often this summer. It is wonderfully tangy, spicy and refreshing with the use of pomegranate molasses, Turkish pepper paste, cumin and a lot of fresh herbs. It was a lovely dinner. Although I ended up smelling like charred meat!

Easy spicy lamb skewers & a tangy burghul salad

{Printable Recipe}

 BBQ lamb skewer 

 We are blessed with good quality lamb in Australia. Use high quality spring lamb leg for this recipe. Use different color bell peppers (capsicums) for a vivid presentation.

 Ingredients (serves 6 or more)
 1.8kilos lamb leg, bone removed (ask your butcher to do this for you)
Marinate ingredients: 
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoons Turkish pepper paste (mild or hot)
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tablespoon amchoor powder (Indian dried sour mango powder)*
½ tsp or more cayenne pepper
2.5 tblp salt
Generous amount of freshly cracked pepper
2-3 tbp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, smashed

To assemble the skewers:
2 brown onions, slice to "half moon" shape
2 bell peppers, deseeded and cut to large pieces

 Condiments: mayonnaise, chili sauce, slices of red radishes, lettuce leaves


Trim off the fat and sinew from the lamb leg, cut into cubes of 0.5cmx0.5cm.

Combine all the marinate ingredients with the oil, stir to combine and "massage" into the meat. Cover, and let marinate for 3-4 hours. Meanwhile, soak the skewers in cold water.

Around 40 minutes before the BBQ time, thread the meat, onion and capsicum pieces onto the skewers. Set aside. You would want to start the BBQ about 30 mins before starting time as well. Do not BBQ the meat when the coal is hot and red. This will burn the meat. It is best to wait a while, until the coal is greyish . This way, the meat will cook evenly with beautiful smoky flavours.

 BBQ the meat skewers until cooked to your liking. Serve with burghul salad, or other salads of your liking.

(*) If you don't have amchoor powder, substitute with a few spoons of yoghurt.Don't marinate the meat overnight though.

A tangy burghul salad 

My interpretation of Kisir, a traditional Turkish salad. I have made them a bit less sour, and add more herbs to my liking. I imagine couscous will be a good substitute.

 Ingredients (serves 4 or more)
2 cups of fine burghul
2.5 cups boiling water
 2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon Turkish pepper paste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
A small bunch each of mint and parsley, finely chopped
Lemon juice – to taste

 Pour the boiling water over the burghul. Cover and let it sit for 20 minutes.

Use a fork, separate the grain. Add in the pepper paste, tomato paste, pomegranate molasses and mix well to combine. Adjust the seasoning with salt and lemon juice. When you are happy with the taste, mix in chopped herbs. Serve with plenty of lettuce.


Delicious Vietnam, the final edition. And some awesome giveaways!

It is time to say goodbye to Delicious Vietnam blogging event!

Delicious Vietnam has been running for nearly two years. I love the event to bit, and I'm sure a lot of my blog friends also feel the same way. However, maintaining an online event is a bit above me at the moment. Work, life, study. The usual things :)

 So we have decided that the December issue of delicious Vietnam will also be the final edition! Of course, this is not the end of Delicious Vietnam. We have created a Facebook page for the event! (Thanks to Phuoc for making this happen!) Please share your delicious Vietnamese recipes, restaurant reviews there with others!

 But for now, let's get together one more time celebrate our love for this vibrant cuisine!

 Delicious Vietnam, December 2011 will be hosted by me. And since this is December, the due date for this has been extended to December 31, 2011.

For more information on eligible entries, please see this post.

 Please send your entries to anhnguyen118[at]gmail[dot]com with Delicious Vietnam in the subject line.

Giveaways are now CLOSED. thanks!

On this occasion, I will also be giving away two copies of Indochine, the new cookbook from Luke Nguyen.  I have been "reading" it from cover to cover. A must have for Vietnamese lover!

The cookbook giveaway is open to all entries for Delicious Vietnam December 2011 worldwide.

(Note: I will purchase the book from fishpond for Australian winners, and from Book Depository if the winners are outside of Australia)

PS: My blog is still running, and I will be blogging as usual. We only discontinue the blogging event called Delicious Vietnam! Sorry if I confuse you!

After hearing about how awesome Delicious Vietnam is, Red Boat Fish Sauce has decided to give away two fantastic prizes for our US participants.

Each winner will receive 1 bottle of 500ml 40N and 1 bottle of 80ml  Family Reserve 50N. (Fish sauces are rated by N, indicating the amount of nitrogen; higher numbers mean even more concentrated and refined flavor).

Especially, the 50N small bottle is very precious and is not sold at retail. Red Boat calls it "Family Reserve" because it is such small production that they generally save it for for family and close chef friends. They are offering to our "foodie" audience because they know we will appreciate it.

Good luck to all! :)


Weekend Herb Blogging #309 – The recap

>> Tuesday, November 15, 2011

As usual, we have an array of interesting dishes for WHB!

I certainly enjoy reading all the ideas and recipes. A special thank to Haalo, who has been the driving force for WHB for a while now. WHB #310 will be hosted by Christina from La Cucina di Cristina! Please see the details in this post.

{Purple Sweet Potato Chiffon Cake} by Cheah from No-frills Recipe

A light and pretty cake. Perfect with a cuppa. 

Colorful, healthy with lots of spices. I can see myself making this again, and again.

A new dish to me! This is the Italian of savoury souffle! 

A pancake recipe with personality. Look at that vibrant color!

Another colorful dish! I have never heard of Riso Venere - Italian Black Rice before. Have you?

{Neapolitan potato gateau} by Cinzia from Cindystar 

A perfect side dish for every table! Love the concept, and the name? So good!

{Beetroot chutney} by Bri from  Briggishome

A essential, pretty pickles. I love the spices, the color, the atmosphere of Bri's post...

A simple pancakes that use one of my favourite pickles, kimchi
That is for WHB #309! See you at later recaps :)


Kimchi and potato pancake

>> Monday, November 14, 2011

(Hosting Weekend Herb Blogging!)

Kimchi Potato Pancake

It is a busy weekend here on A food lover’s journey. Yesterday, I posted about Vietnamese preserved mustard cabbage for Delicious Vietnam. And now, let’s turn to another famous Asian pickles, kimchi.

 I made kimchi once in a while, but most of the time I just buy a small container from a Korean grocery in the CBD. Uncooked, I am the only one who ever touches the stuff. But when the kimchi is used as ingredient for various dishes, it is a different story! We all love the chicken kimchi pizza. And recently, we have also enjoyed kimchi and potato pancakes!

kimchi. hot. spicy and so tasty.

 These pancakes are a breeze to make, and so versatile, too. Add seafood, drained canned tuna, chopped cooked meats if you are in the mood for something more substantial. I am pretty happy with the vegetarian version though. They have that spicy tanginess that goes so well with the fried pancake texture.

I have the honour of hosting Weekend Herb Blogging #309, which turned 6 last week. WHB is now coordinated by Haalo from Cook (almost) anything at least once.

Kimchi pancakes #2

 Kimchi and potato pancakes 

3 large potatoes
100g sour cabbage kimchi
80g plain flour
100ml water
 ½ tsp salt
(Optional) a small can of tuna (drained), or 100g or so of chopped seafood (fish fillet, prawns etc.)
 Oil to shallow fry
To serve: kewpie mayonnaise or sriracha

Peel the potatoes, cut into thin strings and soak in lightly salted water for 5-10 minutes.
Take the kimchi out of the container. Do not squeeze out the juice, cut kimchi into small pieces (best to use scissors).
In a large mixing bowl, put in kimchi, flour, salt, pepper, drained potato string and seafood if using.
Add enough water to combine all the ingredients together. Mix quickly until just combined.
Add oil in a hot frying pan so you have about 1cm of oil. When the oil is hot, spoon ¼ cup of mixture per pancake into frying pan. Cook two sides until golden brown. Serve hot with : kewpie mayonnaise or sriracha


Vietnamese preserved mustard cabbage (dưa muối). Preserving memories.

>> Sunday, November 13, 2011

Delicious Vietnam # 19

Vietnamese preserved mustard cabbage (dưa muối)

In my last trip to our home in Hanoi, I saw that my parents had been in the habit of making preserved cabbage (dưa muối) every week. They even invested in a special jar, just for that purpose. I was so tempted to bring that jar to Australia, to make the pickles myself!

Home-made preserved mustard cabbage is special. The readily available commercial ones from Thailand are often too soft and too sweet, I have long abandoned them.

 In Northern Vietnam, most women know to prepare this. Starting from fresh mustard cabbages, the whole plants are dried in the sun for several hours or the whole day. The process is said to improve the texture of the pickles later. Fresh mustard cabbages are then washed and preserved in a solution of salt and a bit of sugar. This is a crucial step. A little too much salt, the preserves will be inedible. Too little salt, the cabbage may get spoiled. It is also important that the veggies are immersed in liquid at all times. Hence, we often see a small bowl placing on top of the jar, pressing the veggies underneath. Waiting for a few days later, the green cabbage will “ripe”, turning into a pale green-gold color. The pickles are ready then, with the right amount of crunchiness and sourness.

We eat it raw or use to cook all sorts of dishes, from soup to stir-fry. I have started making this pickle a few weeks back. This week is my second batch. I can see myself making it every week, just like my parents do back home.

I am sending this to Delicious Vietnam #19, hosted by Sandy from ginger and scotch 

Vietnamese preserved mustard cabbage (dưa muối)

My recipe for Vietnamese preserved mustard cabbage (dưa muối)

 Here is a rough guide to make dưa muối. The important part of the ratio of salt and sugar to make the pickling liquid. Roughly, for every 6 cups of water, you need 3 tablespoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

2 large brunches of mustard cabbages. Leave to dry in the sun for at least half a day. (Yield 1.5 large jars at shown in the top photo)

 Prepare 18 cups water, bring to the boil. Add in 9 tablespoons of salt, and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Dissolve, and leave to cool slightly.

 In the meantime, wash and cut the mustard cabbages into large pieces. Put them in a large sterilised jar. When the solution has cooled down but is still slightly warm, pour into the jar. Make sure that the veggies are immersed in the solution. Put an empty bowl on top to press down the veggies. Seal the jar, and leave it in a cool, dark place. The pickled should be ready in 4-5 days. Once it is “ripe”, eat straightaway or store in the fridge to slow down the fermentation process.


‘Mangomisu’. A summer dessert.

>> Sunday, November 06, 2011


Today marks an important event in the Islamic calendar. The Eid festival. Happy Eid to everyone who observes it!

This weekend also marks the 6th anniversary of my favourite blogging event, Weekend Herb Blogging! WHB must be one of the oldest food blogging events that are still running strong. Huge congrats to Kalyn who founded the event, and Haalo, who has been taking care of the event for the past few years.

 A lot of reasons to celebrate, and I have turned to a rich, luxurious dessert which features mangoes, which are in season in Australia at the moment. The dish puts a spin on the much loved tiramisu, focusing on fresher and fruitier flavours. A perfect summer dessert!



 I’ve adapted the original recipe in Delicious magazine to be more children friendly! The original recipe said this serves 6. But I have served 8-10 with it and it’s plentiful.

 500g mascarpone cheese
 600ml thickened cream
 80g castor sugar
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
 300ml unsweetened orange juice
 300g savoiardi (sponge finger biscuits)
 3-4 ripe mangoes, flesh sliced 1cm thick
2 handfuls of dessicated coconut

Place the mascarpone, thickened cream,sugar and vanilla seeds in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high speed until thick and well combined.
 Dip half the sponge fingers into the orange juice and layer in the base of a large glass bowl. Spread with one-third of the mascarpone mixture, and top with one-third of the mango slices. Repeat the process, then top with the remaining mascarpone mixture. Top with the remaining mango slices and sprinkle with the coconut. Cover the cake and chill for 2 hours or until firm.
 Serve chilled.


Momofuku Cornflake-choc-chip cookies

>> Wednesday, November 02, 2011


You know I love Momofuku Milk Bar? In our last October trip to NYC (how time flies!), Mr. B and I frequently visited the place for yummy treats. Among the favourites was cereal milk, cornflake cereal and corn cookies. We were only partial to the pies there, since they were a bit too "American" to our taste.

 So you can imagine how excited I am to receive the new release "Momofuku Milk Bar" last week. So excited I went straight to the kitchen after 9pm, whipping up cornflake crunch so I could use them the next day. I love the cornflake crunch! They have that added buttery taste to the cornflake flavours, which I totally adore. I can see myself sprinkling them liberally on my vanilla ice-cream in the coming hot months.

The cookies, well, the cookies. They are GIANT, a little chewy, crispy with that sweet and salt balance. I find them addictive, which is strange since I don't normally chewy cookies! Few words of warning though, like most American baked goods, they can be overly sweet for Asian palate.


 I'd love to make the corn cookies next. But sourcing freeze-dried corn kernels in Australia will be a challenge. Any suggestion, please?

~ The recipe ~
{Printable version}

 Cornflake crunch
170g cornflakes
 40g milk powder
40g sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
130g butter, melted

Preheat oven to 275F (130C). Place the cornflakes in a bowl, and crush them gently into smallish pieces. Add in milk powder and sugar, mix well. Add in the melted butter and mix well.

 Spread the cornflakes onto a lined baking pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, when they are golden and smell buttery. Take the pan out and leave to cool. Store the crunch in an air-tight container.

Momofuku Cornflake-choc-chip cookies

Recipe adapted very minimally from Momofuku Milk bar Cookbook. The original recipe also includes marshmallows, which I have opted to omit. 

225 butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
200g granulated sugar
120g brown sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
240g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ¼ tsp salt
270g (3 cup) cornflake crunch (above)
125g chocolate chips

Cream the butter and sugars for about 2-3 minutes. Add in egg and vanilla, beat for about 7-8 minutes until pale. You will have to scrap down the side of the bowls from time to time. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and mix until the mixture just incorporates.

Paddle in the chocolate chips and cornflake crunch.

 Using a 1/3 cup measurement, portion out the dough on a lined baking pan. Pat the top of the cookies dough domes flat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

 Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Arrange the cookies at least 4 inches apart on a lined baking tray. Bake for 16-18 minutes. Or until the cookies just begin to brown. Let the cookies rest on the tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool off completely. The cookies will keep for 5 days in air tight containers.


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