Archive for the ‘Food and drink’ Category

Food: Pork Rib Tea (Bak Kut Teh)

June 14, 2015 Leave a comment


Pork Rib Tea in Singapore is really a soup made from Pork ribs, and simmered forever and forever on a slow fire. Google it and you’ll see folks in Singapore and Malaysia waxing lyrical about it.

I wanted to make this to see if I could. After all, it’s just pork, garlic, peppercorns and water. Easy enough. Not quite.

Bones make the soup. Remember it!

You’ll see why in a bit.

This recipe was mashed-up from Chinese Soup Pot | Daily Cook Quest | Makansutra | Pee Por
Google search about
Pork Rib Tea

Preparation Time

2 hours 45 min

You’ll Need These Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg of Pork Ribs
  • 2 cups of garlic
  • 1/3 cup of white peppercorns
  • A bunch of herbs (see below)
  • 2 tablespoon Salt
  • 5L of Water
  • Add ons: Beancurd Skin and Tao Pok

The Missing Ingredients

  • 1 kg of Pork bones
  • Prime ribs


Top Left: 1.5 kg of Pork Ribs
Top Right: Peppercorns
Bottom Left: Herbs
Bottom Right: Herb names
Bottom: Garlic

Instructions and “Did it Work?”

1. Scald the Pork Ribs

Bring a pot of water to a boil and dump your ribs in it. Leave it for 5 minutes or so.

You’ll find that there will brown gunk floating on the water. That’s blood from the ribs and we want to get rid of it to get a (relatively) clear soup.


Once blanched, extract and rinse under water.


2. Roast the Garlic and Peppercorns

Roast them with the shells. For peppercorns, smash it up a little so that you’ll get a bit of powder too. I did this to break down the flavours and give soup a wok-ky taste.

Tip: When roasting, start bringing a pot of water to boil. It’ll take some time.


Black bits are OK!


3. Boil and Simmer!

The easiest part.

Chuck garlic, peppercorns, herbs into the pot first and let them simmer for 10 minutes.


Then in go the pork ribs.

Bring to a roiling boil for 10 minutes and let simmer for 2 hours. Turn off the heat, let stand and heat up before serving.


4. Serve with Add-ons

Before serving, add whatever you want. Serve in a bowl with chilli-soy sauce.


Wending Verdict on Bak Kut Teh

It’s full of aroma from the spices and herbs. And the pork slides off the bones like butter on a hot knife.

However, the soup was thin on mouth feel. That’s why pork bones would make the difference in making all so thick and hearty.

Also, cut back on the peppercorns to 1/4 cup. Otherwise, it’ll overpower the soup with peppery pepperness.

Lessons: always make stock.


Food Experiment #9: Beef Balls Dim Sum (牛肉圆)

June 4, 2015 Leave a comment


I’ve never really done up a Chinese dish. Today, I’ve decided to make one of my favourite Dim Sum dishes — Steamed Beef Ball Dim Sum (original recipe from sybaritica).

It’s an utterly Cantonese dim sum (almost on par with Siew Mai and Har Gow) that is available in any Cantonese restaurant worth its salt, soups and Spring Onions.

‘Nuff said. Onwards to balls.

You’ll Need These Ingredients

  • 500g of minced beef
  • 1 tablespoon of Oyster Sauce
  • 1 1/2 slices of Ginger
  • 1 Scallion/Spring Onion
  • 2 1/2 Dried Orange Peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 2 tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • Base: Spinach & Beancurd Skin (soak the Beancurd Skin until soft)

P_20150531_212311 P_20150531_212752

P_20150531_211917 P_20150531_212703

Top Left: Dried Orange Peel & Ginger Slice
Top Right: Minced Beef & Baking Powder
Bottom Left: Salt, Sugar, Cornstarch
Bottom Right: Spring Onion

Instructions and “Did it Work?”

1. Prep the Beef, Chop it All up

Mix the Beef with Baking Powder. Leave the mix alone while you mince up anything and everything that can be minced (see picture below).

This will take some time to do up. Best to use a sharp knife and a flat chopping board.

I just got a Zweig Kitchen Knife. And damnit, that stainless steel beast sliced through everything as if it were soft butter!


2. Put Everything Together

Mix it all up and until sticky. I do it by hand. Grab, fold over, and rotate the bowl so that it goes in one direction. I do this for 50 to 100 times. The more, the merrier, the better integrated.


Once the meat and ingredients are incorporated together.

I pick it up and slam it back into the bowl. This breaks down the meat to give it bounce – like an actual ball. Do it for 10 times or more. Eventually you’ll get a meat ball that will not stick to the sides of the bowl.


3. Prep for Steaming

Layer a deep dish with the Spinach and Beancurd Skin. I tear them into hand-sized bits and toss them around to spread it out evenly.

Take the meat chunk and shape meatballs (whatever size you fancy) and put them onto the base like so…


If you have a bamboo steamer, use it!

4. Steam for 35 min Over High Heat

Just leave it until the bell dings!



Remove from steamer and serve immediately. Like all Dim Sum, it’s best when piping hot.

5. Eat!

As you can see, the inside of the beef ball is still red. This is OK.

Texture-wise, the ball is bouncy and firm to bite. Surprisingly, it’s not overly sweet and the dried Orange Peel makes it quite fragrant. There are slightly bitter undertones and it’s nicely moist too. The Spinach & Beancurd Skin base didn’t enhance the beef balls much. Perhaps it needs some sauce or Worchestershire to go with it?



It works!

Phuket: Full Moon BrewWork

June 1, 2015 Leave a comment

In Phuket for a company retreat/value setting session.

The session was so-so. The food rather disappointing – unless I walked out to the street. But for some strange reason, they were far and few in between.

Nevertheless, there’s beer! Not the usual Singha, Chang lagers, but tasty microbrews just a stone’s throw from Bangla Road.

The Beer…

Wild Honey Coffee Stout

Oatmeal smooth with strong chocolate notes. Didn’t taste too much of the honey but I guess that’s the priming sugar uses in making the beer. I’m actually surprised by the “coffeeness” of the stout – for some reason, Thai coffee has never struck me as good.

But this beer, well it works.


Best paired with…

Nham Spare Ribs

Grilled Issan style. Anything done that way is great with beers. The best parts of the spare ribs come from chewing on the crunchy connective tissue (pleural) while swishing a good glug of beer.


Weird? Give it a go first before you pan it. Smile


Full Moon BrewWork

193 Unit #2110, 2210 Raj-u-thit 200 Pee Road, Patong, Kathu,
Phuket, THAILAND 83150

Banana Salad (Issan, Thailand)

May 23, 2015 Leave a comment

A first for me.

This Banana Salad uses young tart bananas and fermented field crabs. It’s an acquired taste that isn’t for everyone but it works wonders with sticky rice.


Watch out for rumblings in the stomach – the little chilli padis in the mix are billowing fireballs in their own right.

Where to eat

Golden Mile Shopping Complex. Some Issan restaurant on the middle of the first floor

Food Experiment #4: Roast Beef With Cider Marinade

May 23, 2015 Leave a comment

When salt and peppa ain’t enough, add alcohol. After all beer goggles make viewees hot and helps population growth nightly (at least our government hopes for that!).

On a foodie note, alcohol also goes with food. I thought: “Why not a wet marinade for a beef roast”?

So armed with meat and little else, I went out on Google and found this Cider Marinated Beef Roast (src: that piqued my interest.

Did it work?

You’ll Need These Ingredients:

  • 1 beef roast, 2 lbs. (I used Sirloin), tied

Sirloin roast with butcher's twine

Marinade Ingredients

Cider Marinade ingredients

  • 2 cups of Apple Cider
  • 2/3 cups of Salad Oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Onion (1 med.)
  • 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled, smashed, but not completely crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon of salt, thyme (I picked up sage, silly me!), whole allspice (no allspice, so I used clove & cinnamon in equal parts), dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of pepper

Instructions and “Did it Work?”


1. Make the Cider Marinade

Chop up the herbs and throw everything into a plastic bag. How difficult can it get?

Cinnamon, Clove, Salt, Sage, Bay Leaf, Mustard

2. Marinade the Beef Roast!

Chuck the roast into the bag and leave in the fridge for more than 4 hours. Turn the roast every 2 hours.

It’s a freaking mess even with a ziplock bag. These two tips will get the most out of your wet marinade in a bag:

  1. Gash the beef. Stick inch-deep holes or slashes all over the beef roast so that the marinade will seep into the beef
  2. Place the bag on a deep dish to catch slippage from the marinade

I noticed that the cider marinade cooks the outside of the beef. If so, how in the world is the marinade of any use? Meathead Goldwyn’s most excellent post “The Secrets And Myths Of Marinades And How Gashing Can Make Them Work Better” is a fairly scientific approach to marinating meats that bring joy to meat geeks.

The end result of the marinating process:

Roast Beef with Cider Marinade After Marinating

Roast Beef with Cider Marinade After Marinating (top view)

3. Roast it!

My reference recipe calls for 20 min in the oven at 220C before roasting again for 36min at 180C. After roasting, take it out and give it 20min of sitting time under an aluminium tent.

Roasting Rule of Thumb: 15min per 450g + 20min @ 180C

The Cider Marinated Beef Roast is on the right side (browned roast).

Roast Beef with Cider Marinade After Roasting

Once 20min has gone by, start carving the roast into thin slices.

Roast Beef with Cider Marinade After Carving


I thought that the roast was too rare. And I prefer my beef bloody. Perhaps another 15min in the oven would have sealed the deal. Otherwise, it was full of beefy goodness.

Almost success!

Food Experiment #4: Slow Roast Mechoui Lamb

May 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Made slow roast Mechoui Lamb over the weekend. I was thinking and dreaming about it through the week. 3 hours of roasting the freaking leg!!!

Unlike my slow-roast beef, this one came out tops. The inside was pink, faintly bloody and oh-so-tender. Better yet, the spice marinade seeped and permeated the lamb leg. Definitely one of my better experiments.


Prep time: 20 min

Roasting time: 3.5 hours


  • 1 whole leg of lamb on the bone about 2kg. Chopped up in 3 parts (because I had a small oven)
  • 5 tablespoons of oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, pressed and roughly chopped up
  • 2 tablespoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoons cracked pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric

Simple, no?

Marinating the Leg of Lamb


  • Clean, dry and remove excess fat from your lamb. My butchers are Muslim dudes who do an amazing of prepping the leg. In fact, they chopped up the leg nicely once I told them I wanted to roast it.
  • Stab the lamb with a sharp pointy knife. Space the holes out at decent intervals.
  • Whack all of the ingredients into a bowl. Stir until it’s a paste.
  • Generously smother the lamb with the paste and dig the garlic into the knife holes.
  • Leave in fridge for 6 hours (or better yet, overnight!). Try not to stare too longingly at it.

Roasting the Lamb

in oven

  • Pre-heat the oven to 240C for 30 min.
  • Add lamb to the oven. Add 1 cup of water to the roast pan. Roast uncovered at 240C for 20min to brown the lamb. Sizzle sizzle, baby.  The water keeps the lamb moist and prevents it from drying out.
  • Turn down the heat to 160C. Continue roasting the lamb for 3hours (or 180min). Bast every 60min with the jus and coat the lamb pieces with a little oil. Check that there’s enough water in the pan.
  • Wait patiently. I suggest a thick book like The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 22.

Slice, Dice and Serve the Lamb


  • Stab the lamb with a fork. If there’s a little blood, it’s OK. Remove and rest the leg of lamb on a plate for 20min. I left it uncovered.
  • Make gravy from the jus in the roasting pan.
    • Add water. Scrape the drippings until it dissolves in the jus.
    • Separately fry onions and garlic and whatever you want.
    • Add the dissolved dripping and bring to a boil.
    • Reduce the fire to a simmer and thicken with cornstarch water.
  • Start carving the lamb up. Steal the odd piece and feel good about your creation. A video tutorial on cutting up the lamb below:

Carving up a leg of lamb with bone in.

Serve to appreciative diners. Open-mouthed smile

Recipe adapted from Moroccan food at Roasting done with a Convection Oven.

Food Experiment #5: Si Beh Slow Roast Lamb & Mint Jelly

May 23, 2015 Leave a comment

My dad bought a massive leg of lamb to roast. So why not a freakin’ slow roast lamb for New Year’s Dinner. Buoyed by my earlier success with lamb, I decided to keep it simple and cook  it for 8 hours as directed by Andew McConnell (src: Gourmet Traveller).


Oddly enough, it’s not as tender as the earlier recipe…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Onwards foodie folks!

You’ll Need These Ingredients:

  • 1 leg of lamb, 4 lbs. (I used boneless), tied
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (I used cumin powder)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt
For the Mint Jelly
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ cups firmly packed mint leaves
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons gelatine, dissolved in ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup chopped mint leaves, extra

Instructions and “Did it Work?”


1. Make the Spice Rub

Do I really have to go through this?… Alright, crack the peppercorns and  toss it with the cumin, garlic and salt.


2. Marinade the Roast

Stab into the lamb. I mean it. Stab deep and long into the trussed up lamb leg. Stab it like you got a vendetta to spare. Because you’re supposed to rub the tossed-up spice mix onto the lamb and into those nice clean holes.

Done with stabbing and rubbing?

Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.

3. Make the Mint Jelly

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, mint leaves, vinegar and water. Bring to boil on high, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir dissolved gelatine through. Strain, discarding mint leaves. Pour hot mixture into sterilised jars.



Allow to cool until thickening, stir extra fresh chopped mint through.

Seal well. Chill until required. (src: NineMSN)

4. Roast it!

My reference recipe calls for roasting covered with foil for 2 hours in the oven at 160C. Reduce to 100C and roast for another 5 hours. Remove the foil and roast for 1 hour at 100C.

That’s a total of 8 hours!


After roasting, take it out and give it 10 min of sitting time under an aluminium tent.

Once 10 min has gone by, start carving the roast into thick, stuff-your-face-in slices.



Not as tender as my previous food experiment Mechoui Lamb and lacking the spiced flavour, but  it’s bursting with muttonly goodness and crust of fat made it worthwhile.

Went surprisingly well with the tart Mint Jelly. I think I’ll slow roast it without the foil next time.

Almost success!

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