Well Hello There!

July 12, 2016 § Leave a comment

Arugula-Salad-with-Smoked-Duck-BreastCredits:  Splendid Finn Now is paper in blue; zigzag stitching by shabbymissjenndesigns; Splendid Finn 4ever striped ribbon and pennets

It’s been a while… Can I tell you that I am still not spending enough time in the kitchen? So much for comfort zones and “everydays”. It’s just been a bustling kind of year for us. We’ve started a bed and breakfast up north (will write about that shortly), we just got back from a rejuvenating trip from the Holy Land, and we’ve gone on a diet since.


Nothing to do with the Holy Land, our diet, but more of a healthy resolution to keep our blood sugar and cholesterol in check. Recent check ups called for it, that’s why.   So here’s sharing one of the winners (slightly tweaked from here) served on our table recently.


It’s a flavourful salad of smoked duck breast paired with a punch of a mildly sweet blueberry dressing that definitely qualified as mainstays on our table.

Arugula Salad With Smoked Duck Breast, Berries, and Hazelnuts

What You’ll Need

  • 2 large handfuls Arugula
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Champagne Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 cup dried berries (I used wild blueberries)
  • 2 tbsp coco sugar
  • 1 smoked duck breast, cold, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, roasted and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup very sharp, good aged Cheddar or Gouda
  • Sea Salt

What You Do

  1. Place the dried arugula in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, and berries in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir with a whisk until warm (not boiling – 3 minutes or so).
  3. Pour over the arugula, sprinkle with a little salt, and toss to coat.
  4. Place the arugula on a plate and top with the duck slices.
  5. With a vegetable peeler, peel thin slices of the cheddar or gouda over the salad.
  6. Top with the chopped hazelnuts and a little extra dressing. Sprinkle with a little salt.


Chicken Larp (Laotian Chicken Salad)

September 18, 2013 § 2 Comments

My aunt’s kaffir lime tree bore fruits, but she usually lets them fall off because she only uses the leaves, she told me.


Thoughts of Thailand and Laos, most especially, burned in my mind, reminding me of the various dishes flavored with this heavenly lime.


I spent a day learning Lao cooking at the Tamnak Lao Restaurant in Luang Prabang 2 years ago.  Fun experience, but I haven’t had many chances of making the recipes at home because kaffir lime is usually needed and is often hard to come by.


Sure I could use lemon or calamansi… but kaffir has a distinct strong tangy flavor that can brighten up a dish.

“I could use some of those limes”, I told my aunt, suddenly missing the taste of larp.  She sent me some and threw in some leaves too.  Thank you Tita V.

Now I understand why she doesn’t use the fruit, most were dry.  So dry, I had to use a few for this recipe.


But it was worth it.  I was back in Luang Prabang, in a sidewalk café having my larp with ice-cold Lao beer, the Mekong on one side and Indo-Chinese residences on the other.

This is why I cook.

Chicken Larp


A very traditional Lao cold salad that can be substituted with pork, beef, fish and even tofu.

What You’ll Need

  • 200 gram minced chicken, skin off
  • 2 tablespoon banana flower finely sliced, rinsed well in water and drained.
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 bunch of coriander, cut up finely green part only
  • 2 stalks lemon grass, thinly sliced white part only
  • 6 large rocket arugula, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon rice powder*
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fried garlic**
  • 1 tablespoon fried shallots**
  • 1 medium lime or lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chicken or pork stock

What You do

  1. Put the pork or chicken stock, minced chicken, and half of the lime juice in a wok.
  2. Place over low heat and keep stirring until the chicken is cooked through and the stock is reduced.
  3. Transfer chicken in a bowl.
  4. Add the banana flower, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, garlic, coriander, lemongrass, and arugula leaves.  Mix well.
  5. Add salt, rice powder, chili powder, fish sauce, fried garlic, and fried shallots.  Mix thoroughly.
  6. Pour rest of the lime juice over the salad and give it a quick stir through.



* Make your own rice powder by dry-frying raw sticky rice until it just begins to turn golden.  Then whiz in a blender until powdery.  Store in airtight container.

** If you can’t find fried garlic and shallots, make your own by slicing shallots / garlic very finely and deep-fry them until they turn golden.  Store in airtight container.

Herb-Roasted Chicken and Planning a Trip

March 9, 2013 § 4 Comments


I spent sleepless nights working on the itinerary.  It is an extensive trip – in my books, at least.   Spanning 3 countries for a whole month.  One. Whole. Month… with my brother.  He and his wife, my sister-in-law will be joining us for the first time.  Yes, we’ve done short trips together with the whole family but never one that is complicated.  We’re excited, it’s going to be fun, I can feel it, but the way we travel is not exactly how they travel.  So, working out an itinerary for the four of us is nerve-racking.  Would they mind staying in hostels, share bathrooms, or travel by bus, perhaps?  Would they mind splurging on food?  Would they like the same food?  Because really, food is a fundamental part of our travels and I will eat well in a country known for its exotic flavors – does Morocco sound exciting?


So here they are at my place discussing the trip while the chicken roasts in my oven.  Marinated in buttermilk and a handful of fresh herbs overnight, the ambrosial aroma emanating from the kitchen had not only whet our appetites but gradually turned us into attention deficits – it makes it devilishly hard to concentrate when the rooms smells of yummy-ness, yes?


Succulent – crispy skin with “meat falling off the bones” tender, a result of the buttermilk and the glorious herbs.  It is the easiest thing to make, really.   I had potatoes too, sprinkled with EVOO, salt and pepper then inserted around the chicken.  So crisp and tasty.


And with salad greens tossed with lemon vinaigrette, a simple dish of pasta with pesto and tiramisu after, we happily agreed on a travel plan.  All is well that ends well.

Herb-Roasted Chicken

(adapted from Jude Blereau’s Flattened Buttermilk and Herb Crispy Chicken)

What You Need:

  • 1 whole chicken, preferably organic
  • 500ml buttermilk (400ml plain yogurt combined with 100 ml milk works well too)
  • 4 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh herbs (I often use thyme, parsley, sage and rosemary – whatever is available in the market)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Potatoes or sweet potatoes, and roughly cut into medium chunks

What You Do:

Cutting the backbone of the chicken allows you to flatten it, and thereby cook faster.  For crispier results and even faster cooking, I cut the chicken into pieces.  I find this yielded the best result.  The method differs slightly.

To Marinade:

For whole chicken: lay the breast side down on a chopping board.  Cut the backbone (using a kitchen shear is the easiest way to do this).  Turn the chicken over and flatten.  Combine buttermilk with a handful of herbs and pour over the chicken in a dish.  Cover and keep refrigerated for 24 hours.

For chicken pieces: combine buttermilk with 4 tablespoons of herbs and lemon zest.  Pour over chicken, cover and keep refrigerated for 24 hours.

To Roast:

Preheat oven 200º C or 180ºC if fan forced.

For whole chicken: prepare the herb mix by mixing the herbs and lemon together.  Transfer the chicken to a baking tray.  Roughly pat chicken dry but leave some buttermilk on the skin.  Gently loosen the skin from the breast and stuff 2/3 of the herb mix under the skin.

For chicken pieces:  Transfer chicken pieces to a baking tray.  Roughly pat chicken dry but leave some buttermilk on the skin.

For whole and pieces:

Sprinkle the rest of the herb mix on the chicken, with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.

Toss the potatoes separately in an olive oil and herbs and scatter on the tray, close to the chicken.

Bake for about 40-60 mins, until the skin is crispy and golden and the juices in the thigh come out clear.  If you find the skin burning, reduce the temperature.

Remove from oven and leave to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

I’ll see you in a month or so.

Bed Weather Soup

June 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Well good-bye summer and hello rainy days.  It rained most of the day the other day and on a holiday to boot.  We stayed home and the cool “bed” weather called for comfort food.  What’s more comforting on a rainy day than hot chicken soup?  Not any kind of chicken soup mind you.  I was craving for my childhood favorite, Tinolang Manok, a staple in many dinner tables in my neck of the woods, including ours.  A bowl of this light ginger based soup never fails to make me feel all warm and fuzzy.  So I trooped to the supermarket next door for some essential ingredients.

Tinola is a Tagalog or Cebuano term for soup based dish and is traditionally cooked with chicken.  Unlike the chicken soup of the west, this soup uses ginger and lemon grass to flavor.  Core ingredients would be chicken (but of course), ginger (lots and lots of it), green papaya, lemon grass and this new super food called malunggay, scientifically known as Moringa.  We sometimes alternate it with green pepper leaves – both have the peppery kick.

You may serve it as a starter course but it is perfect as a main dish, me thinks.  I like my rice soaking with the soup almost like congee and each spoonful of chicken, green papaya and the rice is absolutely soothing.

Tinolang Manok (adapted from Namit Gid! Cookbook)

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 kilo chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 tbsp. cooking oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium-sized onion, sliced
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, sliced
  • water or rice washings to cover
  • 1 stalk tanglad (lemongrass), bruised
  • green papaya, seeded and cut into wedges
  • patis or fish sauce
  • crushed pepper
  • malunggay leaves

What you do:

  1. Heat cooking oil and sauté garlic, onion and ginger.  Add chicken pieces and brown slightly.
  2. Add water or rice washings and tanglad.  Season with fish sauce and pepper.
  3. Cover and let it simmer.  When chicken is half-cooked, add papaya.
  4. Cover and let it simmer until chicken and papaya are tender.*
  5. Just before serving, remove tanglad and add malunggay leaves.
  6. Cook for 2 more minutes.  Serve hot.

*  To remove the fat, let it cool until the oil floats and remove as much from the surface.

Great Holiday Leftover Ideas: Pulled Chicken Melt

January 7, 2012 § 2 Comments

Every year, Christmas passes and stuffs your refrigerator with so much food.  What do you do with all these?  A friend’s solution to his “too much food” dilemma is to throw a party to serve all the cold cuts, cheeses, hams and wine he received over the holidays.  A cool idea, don’t you think?

Overwhelmed with the pile of food I have in my refrigerator, I noted to myself to eat at least half of what’s in it before I leave for a trip next week.  Not an easy task really, but I shall try.

Knowing that I love pulled pork, my US-based cousin home for the holidays, brought this for me.  She said the pork was not available but this was just as yummy.

I usually have them the traditional way – on a bun but I didn’t have any.  I made Pulled Chicken Melt instead with leftover Fontina on sliced ciabatta bread.

A few minutes in the toaster oven, just to melt the cheese and lunch is ready and yummy to boot.  How easy is that?

This is great as hors d’oeuvres too.  Ahhh… I shall share this at tomorrow’s “leftover” party.  Jack Daniel’s Pulled Chicken consumed.  Fontina consumed.  More to go…

Roast Goose at Yung Kee

September 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Planning a trip to Hong Kong?  Make sure to make your way to Yung Kee and feast on a scrumptious meal of Roast Goose.  You won’t regret it.  Since the day I tried their specialty, I don’t think I ever skipped a meal here when in Hong Kong.

And since it started as a humble shop in 1942, Yung Kee gained popularity through the years even earning multiple awards including a 1 Michelin Star from the Hong Kong and Macau Michelin Guide.

Their Roast Goose is to die for – tender, juicy meat that is so flavorful, the crispy skin that comes so mouthwateringly shiny… a dish that will leave you wanting for more.

Make sure to make reservations as the 4-storey building gets full every time – lunch or dinner.  Don’t forget to order their other specialty – century eggs and pickled ginger.

Both Roast Goose and century eggs (among other roast meats and noodle dishes) are available for take-out.

Yung Kee Restaurant
32-40 Wellington Street
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2533-1624 (for reservations)
+852 2523-2343 (for take-out)

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