Eating in Japan was like a dream. In fact, right now I’m sitting at my writing desk in the blistering hot weather of Kuala Lumpur and just daydreaming of walking down the clean streets of the Tokyo suburbs on a chilly evening and popping into a small, random, I-don’t-know-what-the-signboard-is-saying neighbourhood restaurant, sitting down at the bar seat and eating a bowl of rice with grilled freshwater eel (unagi) slathered in sticky, caramelised soy sauce marinade, with a bowl of steaming miso soup with some fresh clams.
What was that? Oh yeah. Anyway.
I like to cook, but I’ve never really tried making anything Japanese (except for some dressed soba noodles). So for a while there I practiced making some simple Japanese grub for starters. My favourite has always been gyoza, or Japanese dumplings. It’s made with a filling of white meat and some veg, and what makes it different than the usual dumplings is that it is lightly pan-fried at the bottom before getting a steam – this gives it a crispy, brown bottom that adds more texture to the whole thing.
This recipe makes almost 2 dozens gyozas.
What You Need:
1 packet gyoza wrappers (at the frozen section of the grocery store)
250 gm minced chicken (I make my own, using chicken breasts)
1 handful cabbage, shredded
1 tsp grated ginger
1tbsp grated garlic
1 tbsp soy sauce
The dipping sauce – minced garlic, chopped chili, light soy sauce, a dash of vinegar
What You Do:
What’s the big deal about hasselback potatoes? Originating from a Swedish restaurant of the same name in the 1700s (and now this Bugis girl is making them), here are reasons why you should be roasting them.
This recipe serves 2.
What You Need:
4 medium sized russet potatoes OR 2 large sized russet potatoes
3 tbsp. Butter (NOT margarine!)
1 tbsp. olive oil
Dried or fresh rosemary
What You Do:
Warning: If you’re on some kind of diet or detox program, walk away NOW.
Let’s talk about the life blessing that is the potato gratin. What is it? Picture this; soft slices of potatoes, arranged side by side in layers, and bathed in gooey, stringy, creamy cheese sauce. Serve them warm and steaming, perfect for a chilly day. Got your attention yet? Okay.
The best potato gratin I’ve had was at a small French restaurant at Lake Annecy, on a summer afternoon. While looking for lunch options, we walked past this restaurant but stopped dead on our tracks and moonwalked back, because we saw a French woman devouring a large bowl of potato gratin, which looked like it was begging us to eat it. So we sat down, ordered a serving, and the next hour was a heavenly memory of scooping up creamy, cheesy potatoes and dipping crusty bread into the sauce. This restaurant uses four types of regional French cheeses in its gratin. For a money-saving, more relevant option, here’s my twist on a potato gratin to make at home.
Here’s what you need:
300 g potatoes, or 5 Malaysia-sized ones
A packet of instant Mushroom soup
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Cheddar if you have some
Here’s what you do:
1. Wash, peel potatoes
2. Slice them into 0.5 cm thick slices
3. Par-boil them. By that I mean until it’s slightly soft, but not until they break into mush.
4. Add water to the mushroom soup mix. Taste. Add salt if needed. Make sure it’s runny (it will thicken in the oven)
5. Layer the slices of potatoes in a small baking tray. The layer goes like this – potatoes, mushroom soup mix, cheddar & mozzarella. Keep going.
6. Make sure the potatoes are submerged in the sauce.
7. Dust the dish with some ground pepper. Top with mozzarella.
8. Into oven, 180 deg C for about 15 mins or until cheese melts.
9. Take out. Eat while sitting on a couch.
10. That breakup seems ages ago, doesn't it?