Sunday, 31 January 2010

Green bean omelette

This is a dish that always reminds me of home and of childhood. I remember my mum making this for me and my brother for as long as I can remember. It is made with few ingredients, cheap and simple to prepare, is nutritious and tastes good -- the very essence of good old home cooking. We usually have this as one of two or three side dishes with rice.

Ingredients (serve 2 as side dish):

100g green beans/french beans
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
A dash of white pepper
A few drops of sesame oil
Oil for cooking
Light soy sauce to taste (optional)

Method:

1. Top and tail the beans and finely slice them. Place in a medium sized bowl.
2. Add the eggs, salt, white pepper and sesame oil to the beans and mix well.

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3. Heat some oil in a large nonstick frying pan. Ladle one scoop of the beans and eggs mixture into the pan and spread evenly. Cook on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Turn out onto a plate when cooked.
4. Repeat with the remaining beans and eggs mixture. Sprinkle the cooked green bean omelette with a few drops of light soy sauce (optional). Serve immediately.

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Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Bento ideas for the new year

I am still catching up on bento updates from last year. Healthy eating is a very popular new year's resolution for most people. Here are some ideas for your own lunches; I do try to have a good balance of carbohydrates, lean protein and vegetables. Almost all of them consist of dinner leftovers, either in their entirety or in parts, so it's never difficult to figure out what we had for dinner the night before!

Rice, teriyaki chicken, cherry tomatoes and kailan in oyster sauce
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Mushroom rice, stir fried asparagus and cherry tomatoes
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Stir fried noodles, mixed oden (fish balls and fish cakes) and baby bak choy
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Couscous, grilled courgette (zucchini) and red pepper, roast chicken breast
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Thursday, 14 January 2010

Spam musubi

Yes, you read that right. This recipe contains spam. If you have something against Spam (as in the canned luncheon meat, not unsolicited junk emails), I guess this is not going to appeal to you. But then, don't diss it till you've tried it! It is not the healthiest thing in the world (neither are cake, roast potatoes or cream sauces...), but no harm as an occasional snack. The pan frying of the spam actually does render out some of the oil, and I tend to buy the low-salt version since spam is normally quite salty.

Spam musubi

Spam musubi consists of a block of rice topped with a slice of spam and wrapped with nori seaweed. The spam is may be heated in a frying pan, or just sliced straight from the can as is. Some versions also include glazing the slices with teriyaki sauce, or topping the rice with furikake sprinkles. It is a popular snack in Hawaii. You would find musubi sold as snack food in convenience stores and they are also very popular and handy for picnics, walks and hikes. In that sense, they are rather like onigiri (rice balls) in Japanese culture.

Although musubi resembles nigiri sushi, the rice is not flavoured with rice vinegar. To compress the rice into an oblong shape, you can use a musubi mould (sold in many kitchen stores in Hawaii or order from an eBay seller), or use a spam can with both ends removed. Just be careful not to cut yourself with the sharp edges of the can.

Ingredients (about 8 servings):

1 can of spam/luncheon meat (I use the low-salt version)
4 cups of cooked Japanese short grain rice
2 large sheets of nori seaweed, cut into 8 wide stripes
A little oil for frying
2 tbsp light soy sauce (optional)
2 tbsp mirin (optional)
2 tsp sugar (optional)
Furikake (optional)

Method:

1. Remove the spam from the tin and cut horizontally into 8 even slices. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan (you won't need much, remember that the spam will have enough fat of its own). Pan fry the spam slices over medium heat, 2-3 minutes on each side, until slightly browned and crisp at the edges.

Spam musubi

2. You can remove the spam onto a plate at this stage. For an optional teriyaki glaze, mix the soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a bowl and pour over the frying spam in the pan. Heat the sauce until it thickens and coats the slices, taking care not to burn the sauce (it will become bitter).

3. Rinse the musubi mould (or spam can if using) with water (to prevent the rice from sticking) and place it over a strip of nori. Scope some rice into the mould and press down firmly with the lid to compress the rice (if using the spam can, use the back of a spoon to press the rice down). You want the block of rice to be fairly firm, otherwise it will disintegrate when picked up.

Spam musubi

Spam musubi

4. If using, sprinkle some furikake on top of the rice. Top the rice with a slice of spam. Wrap the strip of nori around the spam and rice, sticking the end down with a few grains of rice. Repeat with the remaining rice and spam until you have 8 musubi. Serve immediately. They can also be individually wrapped in cling film and taken as a portable snack (or stored in the fridge for a day).

Spam musubi

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