17 June 2009

Flexing Some Culinary Muscles

I have a very simple kitchen in my home. We don't do much cooking, so we only have a small portable stove, a medium-sized pan and pot, and basic low-quality knives. We have a small toaster oven that's perfect for toast, potatoes, reheating, but not much else!

I like to cook once in a while (main masak-masak?) so I was practically in heaven when I saw how well-equipped the apartment kitchen is. Good knives, oven, microwave, and a great selection of pots and pans allow me more freedom in cooking my dishes.

Here's what I cooked for lunch on Sunday:

First up is a cold dish heavily inspired by a similar Hors D'oeuvres we ordered at a Yunnan restaurant. It's a vegetable roll with: Italian herb grilled chicken, black mushroom, and shredded carrot. It's swimming in a diluted soya sauce base with mashed ginger.

The restaurant we went to wrapped everything with the flesh of a plant that tastes almost like cucumber. I'm not sure what it's called, but we managed to get it at the wet market. It's freakishly difficult to slice the flesh thinly! I'm amazed at how the chef could make large, thin slices while I routinely cursed the gods for making a slice that is either too thick or too short. As a result, 1 hour of hard work only yielded 17 servings.

But it tastes pretty awesome! Still, this will be the last time I attempt such a crazy dish without proper equipment to make nice vegetable slices.

The next dish would be impossible without a proper oven: Baked mashed potatoes!

After mashing the boiled potatoes, I added in the following: Italian herb mix, pepper, salt, butter, and half an egg. Scooping everything into a baking dish, I added the magical touch: Chopped garlic sprinkled over the top.

And in it goes to the 175F pre-heated oven for 45 minutes! A bit salty (I'll skip the salt next time) but otherwise the herb-y taste sets it apart from KFC.

The last dish I cooked is a simple vegetable stir-fry with french beans, carrots, and black mushrooms:
Before throwing the vegetables into the pan, I sauteed some dried shrimps until fragrant. Though the dried shrimp here is not as pungent as Malaysia's, it still added a nice kick to the dish, along with the generous amount of oyster sauce I used (oh, the MSG!).

Overall, a roaring success!

I also cooked Thai-style stewed pork ribs with mushrooms (not spicy, but sweet type) which turned out swimmingly well, getting a rare thumbs up from my housemates.

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