Thursday, May 24, 2012

Spicy Coconut Fish Stew, serves 2

1/2 cup sliced baby chillis
1/4 cup dried shrimp, soaked in water and drained
400ml Coconut milk
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon tamari sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
6-7 button mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch of chye sim/ other green leafy vegetables cut into halves
2 fish fillets, cut into pieces (e.g. whiting)
2 tablespoons chicken stock powder e.g. Massel
1-2 tablespoons rice bran oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, sliced thin
500-700ml water
1 1/2 cups brown rice, cooked

Finely chop dried shrimp and garlic. Slice baby chillis into halves, carefully scrape off the seeds into the bin.
Heat the pan, add rice bran oil and fry chilli, dried shrimp, garlic and onions till fragrant.
Place spices into a pot and add 500ml water. Add the fish sauce, tamari sauce, lemon juice and brown sugar. Bring to boil, simmer for 20 mins. Turn off and let the stock cool.

In your hot pot, carefully fill half the pot with premade stock. Add the mushrooms, fish and 200mls of coconut milk. Bring to boil. Add the chye sim last and let it cook.

Add more stock when it evaporates in the hot pot and add in the remaining coconut milk and ingredients.
Serve with brown rice.

P.s. if you do not own a hot pot, cook the stew as per normal on the stove. The only difference is that you cook everything at once and not in 2 batches.

Spicy rating: 7/10

Time to relax!

 Stress can build up over time - so it is important to take care of yourself. Stress management can be as simple as taking a nice walk along the park, or meditating at home or with a group.

Other stress reduction techniques include deep breathing, listening to relaxing music, having an aromatherapy bath, etc.

Put aside 20 minutes a day to do something for yourself.

Meditation for relaxation
Posture: Sit in a comfortable position on the floor or if you can’t manage, use a chair. In this case, feet should be flat on the floor and back straight, without leaning back in the chair.
Back: Should be straight and relaxed
Eyes: Closed or half open.
Jaw: Have lips together and the jaw relaxed.

As you sit, go through every part of the body. Become aware of it and let it relax. Gently bring awareness to the breath. Are you breathing heavily, gently, quickly or slowly? You may find it hard to concentrate on the breath for more than a minute without your mind wondering off. 

That’s okay. The mind is like a wild horse, it’s used to running around everywhere. Mindfulness is our ability to focus on the object of meditation (e.g. breath) and the mind hasn’t wandered somewhere else.  

Just be aware of the breath and observe it. Focus one third of awareness on your breath. Another one-third focused on making the mind focused and relaxed. Final third should be observing if the mind has wandered off, bringing it back if it has; also being aware if the mind is dull or over excited.

In the beginning we can only focus for a minute before the mind wanders off somewhere. Be patient and gentle with the mind. Gradually we can increase periods of concentration. Slowly, the mind starts to clear.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Purple Peanuts Japanese Cafe - Hit and Miss

620 Collins St  
Melbourne, VIC 3000

I have heard much of this cafe and decided to try out the food at different times of the day. My experience was pretty average. Some dishes were delicious - some fell short to expectations.

Rice ball salad

 The rice ball salad looked really delicious, this was my first dish I tried from the cafe. It is unfortunate that it was a clash of flavours. The potato mash did not go  with the rice salad. And the random veggies with the rice ball made me question the choices in making this dish work.

 The next visit, I brought my friends here and I decided to try the chicken curry - which was done beautifully and left me wanting more. I would prefer it with brown rice instead of white rice. The miso soup that I ordered with had generous chunks of vegetables.

Then I brought my partner here during their lunch period which was really busy. He ordered a beef soba and miso soup. The beef soba tasted average. What was disappointing was how the miso soup was served. The waiter placed a spoon in the bowl and it's price tag was stuck at the bottom. My partner only noticed the sticker on his spoon when he was done with the soup. :( Eww.

I ordered a chicken teriyaki, it was delicious. It came with brown rice and salad yum! I would like my chicken less charred - I do understand that the charred bits add to the flavour.

Chicken curry

Beef soba

Chicken teriyaki

Overall rating: 6/10

Ambience: 5/5

Service: 4/5

Food: 3.5/5 Purple Peanuts Japanese Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Bento

Mum always reassured me about 'Monsters' under the bed. This special Bento is dedicated to my mum.

- Lunch box
-1 Seaweed puncher
- 1 bento sauce bottle
- 3-4 colourful toothpicks
- Special egg slicer
- Cookie cutters with special shapes
- scissors

1 tsp Planet Organic Tahini
1/2 tsp raw honey
2 pieces toasted organic Spelt bread
1/4 Lebanese cucumber
1 small piece of sushi seaweed
1/8 apple
1/2 tsp hummus
1 tsp Cashew + Spinach dip
2 boiled eggs
1-2 tsp tamari sauce
1 tsp salt dissolved in 1/2 cup water

Step 1: Use cookie cutters to cut 2 identical shapes on one piece of bread each. Spread tahini on one side and raw honey on the other. P.s. left over bread can be used as gluten free croutons for soup.

Step 2: Stick them together and place colorful toothpicks through the middle.

Step 3: Boil eggs. Place 2 eggs in boiling water over a stove. Add salt as this prevents the shells from cracking. Boil for 10 mins and let eggs cool on the stove. Carefully peel boiled eggs and put aside. Prepare egg slicer.


Step 4: Place boiled egg on egg slicer. Slice it quickly to get a perfect shape. Do the same for the other egg in another pattern.
Fill tamari sauce into the bento sauce bottle of your choice.

Step 5: Cut the cucumber into 8 sections using a knife to make the 'legs'. Use a seaweed puncher to punch out the face and stick carefully on the cucumber. Use scissors to cut a strip of seaweed for the 'belt'. Add some hummus at the back of the monster to secure the belt around the cucumber.

Place 1 tsp of cashew spread on top of the cucumber for the 'hair'.

Step 6: Assemble ingredients. Slice 1/8 of an apple into 2 wedges and dip into salt water to avoid browning. Place into Lunch box.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Healthy Bento for one

Equipment: I bought most tools from Singapore at Daiso
- Lunch box
-1-2 Seaweed punchers with different expressions
- 1 bento sauce bottle
- 3-4 colourful toothpicks
- 1 rice mold for brown rice sushi
- 1 small plastic container

- 1/2 cup steamed brown rice
- 1 tablespoon Rice wine vinegar (for rice)
- 1-2 tsp Tamari sauce
- 2 boiled eggs
- 1/6  piece Japanese/Korean dried Seaweed
- 1/4 raw carrot
 - 1/4 raw lebanese cucumber
- 1/4 raw red capsicum
- Black Swan roasted garlic hummus
- 6 fresh/frozen blueberries p.s. the frozen berries take a while to thaw, I found them too soggy for bento making
- 6 fresh/frozen raspberries

Step 3
 Step 1: Cook your brown rice. Use the steam method, place 1 cup of water in the pot. Place a metal steam rack and metal container on top that contains 1/2 cup pre-rinsed brown rice and 1/2 cup water. Close lid of pot and steam on high for 10 mins, then bring to low heat and simmer for another 30 mins. Check occasionally at the bottom of the pot that there is enough water. Top up when necessary.

Step 2:  Boil eggs. Place 2 eggs in boiling water over a stove. Add salt as this prevents the shells from cracking. Boil for 10 mins and let eggs cool on the stove. Carefully peel boiled eggs and put aside for later.

Step 3: Choose an animal face sauce bottle. Pour tamari sauce in a sauce dish and use the dropper provided to fill up the sauce bottle till full.

Step 4: Open your hummus and use a small teaspoon to place enough hummus in the small container for your veggie sticks.
Step 6: The rice is not yet filled up fully

 Step 5: Once the brown rice is cooked, remove and place in a wooden/ceramic bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar and mix.

Step 6: Using a teaspoon, carefully add brown rice into the rice mold. Fill it fully to the top.

Step 7: Cover the mold with the cover and press firmly.

Step 8

 Step 8: Slowly slide the rice out of the mold container and place carefully in lunchbox. Place hummus container as well.
Step 9

Step 9 &10: Open your seaweed packet and cut a small piece of crisp seaweed (you don't require much). Place seaweed in the seaweed stamp and press firmly on a plate.

Step 11: Lift the stamp up and look for the stamped out pieces. Carefully use your finger and place it on your boiled eggs. Place boiled eggs in the center of the rice and place sauce bottle in between. Try not to crush the rice while doing this.
Step 10

Step 11

Step 12

Step 12: Spear the berries using pretty bento toothpicks. Experiment on alternate patterns, e.g. 2 raspberries 1 blueberry,  3 blueberries, 3 raspberries. 

Step 13: Cut carrot, red capsicum and lebanese cucumber into small tiny veggie sticks. The amount suggested in the ingredients list is more than is required for this bento. Save the rest in the fridge for snacking with left over hummus.

Step 13


Place veggie sticks next to container of hummus. Wait for rice to cool down before closing your lunch box. Enjoy!