Wednesday, 14 November 2007

About Soy and Pepper

The general stuff:

Soy and Pepper is about recipes, cooking experiments, bento (lunch boxes), thoughts on food and dining and just about anything food-related that I come across. It is an East-meets-West food blog that features food and recipes ranging from Chinese, Thai and Japanese, to British and Mediterranean.

Who is behind Soy and Pepper?

I am an ethnic-Chinese from Singapore currently living in Vancouver, Canada with my husband. I don't have any formal culinary or photography training but I do love cooking and eating and taking photographs and it's been a very enjoyable learning process. My deep interest in food and cooking developed particularly after I moved to the UK. Like many overseas students and expatriates (especially from Asian countries), I miss the delicious, cheap and huge variety of food from home. Since I could not get most of those dishes in restaurants here (at least not easily or cheaply), I started to cook them myself to satisfy my cravings. One thing led to another and soon I found myself cooking, shopping, planning, reading and thinking about food almost all the time!

And I must also acknowledge the husband (AP) who happily munches through my cooking and offers feedback on what works and what doesn't. Thank goodness he has a wide and relatively adventurous palate (for a Brit anyway, heh). And he also waits patiently for his dinners while his wife snaps way too many photos.

Why a food blog?

In 2007, I found that food posts have started to take over my personal blog quite a bit and I would like to devote more space to food and cooking. Having another journal where I can specify the tags and posts to food and recipes also make it easier for me to search for particular ingredients or recipes, since I use this food blog as a personal reference/archive as well. I enjoy playing with different ingredients, recipes, techniques, presentation, and capturing the cooking process and end product the best I can in pictures and in words. It is a nice creative outlet for me and a very tasty hobby!

Why 'Soy and Pepper'?

I love cooking and eating all types of cuisine, from Chinese, Thai and Japanese to British, Italian and French. I therefore wanted a blog title to reflect this East-meets-West approach that I take to food and 'Soy and Pepper' came to mind.

(Yakun Kaya Toast, Singapore Changi Airport, Terminal 2, Arrival Hall)
Traditional Singaporean breakfast

In Singapore and Malaysia, there is a traditional breakfast of soft-boiled eggs with kaya toast, a sort of fusion breakfast as a result of British colonial past. Instead of being placed in an egg cup, the soft-boiled egg is cracked open into a saucer. Dark or light soy sauce and white pepper is added to taste and then eaten with slices of butter and kaya (egg and coconut jam) toast. It seems fitting that my blog title should reflect this meal that is so strongly associated with where I came from.

What's with all the bento stuff?

Making bento is another hobby/lifestyle that I picked up in mid-2007. After years of packing boring sandwiches into work, making and taking bento lunches into work made our lunches much more interesting and is much cheaper and often healthier than cafeteria food. The reasons behind why I do bento can be found here.

What camera do you use?

The older photos (prior to February 2008) were taken with a point-and-shoot Canon Powershot A75. I later gave in to a beginner's digital SLR, the Canon EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi in North America). The lenses I use are Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM and Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II.

Anything else?

I am a food enthusiast who is always on the look-out for new ideas and tips on improving aspects of my cooking and photography. Comments are very welcome (although those of a solicitous or rude nature will be quietly deleted; I do not respond to spam or trolls). I can also be contacted at nilmandra[at]soyandpepper[dot]com.

If you are an overseas Singaporean or Malaysia, I hope you are similarly inspired to recreate food from home and that this website gives you some useful information to do so. Happy cooking!

(Updated 19 August 2008)


sohcool said...

I happened to get into your blog from TasteSpotting. And when I saw the 'Mee Hoon Kueh' post , I knew you must be a singaporean like me. Will bookmark your blog. I count on making some of the dishes featured here.

Nilmandra said...

Sohcool: Thanks! I see that you're just across the Channel in France. *waves* There are a good number of foodblogs out there by Singaporeans and Malaysians, all trying to recreate the taste of home :) Hope you enjoy some of the recipes here.

WillD said...

Hi from Chicago, IL, USA. Saw your roast chicken/coriander rice photo on Tastespotting and left a comment. Have bookmarked your blog. Great recipes! I will definitely be making more recipes...Yaki Udon with Beef is next!

Nilmandra said...

Hi Will, thanks for dropping by and I hope you enjoy trying out the recipes. The yaki udon with beef seems to be a hit with most people!

Mrs Ergül said...

Hi there! I'm so glad to find another food blog by a fellow Singaporean :)

Nilmandra said...

Hi Mrs Ergül, nice to meet you too! Hope you like the recipes here, and I'll stop by your food blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, just want to let you know that your blog was the one that inspired me to start doing my own bentos to bring to work! Thanks for getting me off my butt and eating better! :)

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone! I'm Silviya. I like that blog very much. There is something I want to ask. I'm not from USA, and there are some ingredients unfamiliar to me, or I just can't understand what to use instead. So, I would be very happy if You tell me what exactly is Heavy Whipping Cream? Is is something like cooking cream or?
Thank You

Nilmandra said...

Silviya: Sorry for the late response! I am in the UK and there tends to be three types of cream cold. Single cream, double cream and whipping cream (sometimes also called heavy whipping cream). Single and double cream are for pouring over desserts or for cooking (e.g. cream based sauces). Double cream has higher fat content and is thicker in consistency than single cream. If most cases, you can safely use single or double cream in cooking recipes, it will just differ in taste (double is thicker and richer in taste).

Whipping cream are made for specifically, well, whipping! The other two varieties will not whip. The side of the container may have instructions on whether the type of cream is suitable for pouring, cooking or whipping. Hope that helps.

Irene said...


Found your blog while researching on bentoing. Very inspiring. Also noticed that you've recently come to Vancouver. Welcome! That's my neck of the woods :)

I leave you with a site for some fun in Vancouver.

Nilmandra said...

Irene: Thanks for the welcome and the useful link!

pixen said...

hi Nilmandra,

I have an award waiting for you in my blog.

thank you for sharing your recipes and tips! Take care!

hezmanagirl said...

I've really loved reading your blog! Lots of ideas for tasty food to try and I enjoy the fact that your love of food always come through.

I'm going to England this autumn and was wondering if you could suggest some of your favorite places to eat?

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a first time visitor to your site! I really like your Japanese recipes; the idea of bento boxes, the cute liquid holders, and oh the yummy food you post about! :)

I do have a request that I was hoping you'd be able to address. Some of your pictures on your website do not link properly, especially the most current ones. I am not sure if it is just me, but if it isn't, could you please fix it? I'm a pictorial kind of gal!

Fellow Vancouverite :)

Anonymous said...

Hi again, I had sent a message a few minutes ago and it looks like the pictures are linking again. I really like your blog; wish that I could pack a bento as nice as yours for my hubby and I! :)

Carina said...

Hi, I am a Singaporean stay in Virginia right now. Yeah... same sentiments... miss singapore food so much. Your blog really made me feel like home. :)

Nilmandra said...

Carina: Thanks for the note and kind comment. I hope you get to try your hand at making dishes from home. It's really satisfying.

Saju said...

Just discovered you blog. I love it.

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June said...

I stumbled upon your blog when researching for recipe and gathering inspiration. Really like what you've done here! I currently live in the UK and am particularly inspired by what I see on your blog :) reminds me of home...

Anonymous said...

You are amazing. I shall love this place...
I like cooking as well, especially when moved here from China, but I am with Chinese/Asian food only, till now...
Thus I wish you find out/ create more and more recipe

Anonymous said...

i am looking for the recipe to make "belachan." i am not looking to make block shrimp paste. =) i am looking for the recipe for this sauce (similiarly to xo sauce). it has dried shrimp, chili pepper, etc inside and can be served over steamed rice or other dishes. maybe called sambal belachan?

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