I don’t know how people feel about sausages in particular but I do know having a piece done well is never a bad thing. Sausages should be browned with a nice tan, but not burned; when you sink your teeth into a one, it should be toasty but not shrivelled, succulent and not dry. This morning, I’ve just discovered the best way to cook sausages, so that you get that crispy exterior enveloping juicy mince. Here’s how I did it:
- Place your sausages into a pot with a small drizzle of oil.
- Turn up the heat to medium and put the lid on, keeping any steam released within the pot.
- Let the sausages fry about by rolling them about in the pot with the lid still on. Check occasionally.
- Once the sausages are nicely browned, turn down the heat to the lowest setting and let them steam slowly for a couple of brief minutes before serving.
Remember, crispy yet juicy.
BLT, or Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato, commonly refers to a sandwich. This week, I made a BLT, but with spaghetti instead of bread.
- Get your spaghetti or other kinda of pasta cooking in a pot of well-salted boiling water. Save a bit of the pasta water, and drain when al dente.
- Slow-cook chunky slices of tomatoes with some butter on a skillet, letting them soften to a pulp. Pinch out and discard the skin at the end.
- Soak a couple of rashers in water for a couple of minutes; this is so that the dish will not be overwhelmed by the flavour of bacon. Fry the rashers till cooked but not shrivelled. It can be tempting to blaze them to a crisp. Resist.
- Meanwhile, wash and cut your lettuce to fork-full pieces.
- When the tomatoes are done, toss in the drained spaghetti, and splash a bit of that pasta water you saved earlier. Season lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and a small dollop of mayonnaise.
- Turn off the heat and mix in the lettuce briefly, and serve, with the rashers of bacon, sliced.
Lush brunches, forever.
It’s been a long long hiatus that I’ve taken. I blame Instagram. Grainy photos behind retro-esque filters and uninspired dishes. In any case, I’m hoping this entry won’t be like the last one – the last one for a long while.
So I guess from now, I’ll be using more than a couple of Instagramasised photograph. Fingers crossed that’ll work out well.
Alas! The first of the list is Instant Mee Pok! Mee Pok (translated from Chinese dialect as ‘thin noodles’) is a flat egg noodle used a lot in Singapore to make Fishball Noodles and Mushroom Minced Pork Noodles. They say the first creators of pasta were actually the Chinese; Italians apparently discovered it much later. In any case, Mee Pok is usually cooked fresh and unless you buy them fresh from the market or make them yourself, you won’t get a chance to have them this far from East Asia. But, but, BUT! I stumbled upon a pack of dried instant Mee Pok at Chinatown last week. Well, it isn’t quite exactly the same thing as its fresh counterpart, but I’d say it comes pretty damned close.
I am a happy boy.
(Follow me on Instagram @skinnynigel or #skinnynigel)
One of the great things about doing a casserole or stew is its versatility with carbs. You can have it with toast if you’re lazy, pasta if you don’t mind the effort and even mashed potatoes if you can be bothered. So the limelight of this entry really is the casserole, as opposed to being a pasta dish.
Not sure if it’s the best way to do a casserole, but here’s my way:
- Pre-heat your oven to 180ªC.
- In a cast iron or pyrex pot, get a knob of small butter in, heating till the foaming subsides.
- Add in garlic slices and the sausage chunks, pork or beef is up to you. I usually squeeze out the meat from the sausage skins into thumb-sized chunks. Fry till fragrant and golden brown.
- Splash in coke and alcohol. This time I used rum ‘cos rum & cola always goes.
- Reduce the liquid till the alcohol has burned off.
- Toss in the diced vegetables of your choice – carrots, peppers, onions, celery, etc. Also, add chilli if you want the heat.
- Fill the pot with chicken or vegetable stock, till just before submerging the ingredients.
- Flavour and season with coriander powder and bay leaves, worschester sauce, salt and pepper.
- Bring to the boil and put it in the oven for 30-45 minutes, lid on.
- Serve with long pasta, and fresh salad leaves.
This post should have been written months ago during the Lunar New Year season. Reason being this dish is always on the table at the annual family reunion dinner. ‘Leek’ in Mandarin is suan, which sounds just like the equivalent of the word ‘count’. In essence, it’s an auspicious dish to consume during the festival celebrating luck and prosperity. That aside, leek and pork is a lovely combination.
- Cut up the vegetable to thin slices, diagonally. Separating them to loose strands gently.
- Do the same with a carrot, or pass it through the coarse side of a grater.
- Prepare the pork this way.
- In a hot skillet with a tablespoon of vegetable oil, toss in minced garlic and fry till fragrant.
- Add in the vegetables and fry about with a small splash of water. Lower the heat.
- When the leek is almost completely softened, add in the pork.
- Turn up the heat and stirfry everything together by adding water in small quantities, frying till dry-ish each time.
- Adjust seasoning accordingly with light soy sauce.
- Serve with hot steamed rice.
I was fortunate enough to be in Rome last month on holiday, or rather, on pilgrimage to the Vatican City and to the art of Michelangelo Buonarotti. But of course, in addition to all the sightseeing, I made time to have a taste of whatever dishes that might be unique to the region. Being in the land of pasta, Pasta Amatriciana is one of them. According to Wikipedia, ‘Amatriciana is a traditional Italian pasta sauce based on guanciale (dried pork cheek), pecorino cheese and tomato, well-known in Roman and Italian cuisine.’
So very basically, I gave it a go with bacon, red onions, tomatoes and Parmesan. Also, I had it with mushroom tortellini as opposed to the usual bucatini.
- Set your pasta boiling away in a pot of salty water.
- With the help of a teaspoon of oil in a hot skillet, render the fat of the bacon out.
- Toss in the minced onions, and sweat it out till almost translucent.
- Add in the tomatoes, together with some passata. Or just add in some chopped tomatoes from a store-bought carton. Add volume to the sauce with pasta-cooking water, if necessary.
- Stir in a small handful of freshly grated Parmesan.
- Drain the cooked pasta and add to the sauce.
- Mix and serve with a grating of more Parmesan.
Asian-fried spaghetti of pork cubes, sugar snaps and egg, with cumin, oregano and chilli.
- The usual drill. Set the pasta away to boil in a pot.
- In a hot skillet and a little oil, fry minced garlic till fragrant.
- Toss in pork cubes and sugar snaps.
- Add in crushed cumin and oregano.
- When pork is almost done, move all to the side of the skillet. Add some oil in the pan and crack in an egg. Beat it erratically and let it cook in chunks.
- Toss in sliced chilli.
- Mix everything together and season well with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.
- The pasta should be done by now. Drain and add to skillet. Stir everything together into a party of lovely colours.
Pork shoulder fillet braised in garlic, ginger and honey north of carrot and red chilli, served on wilted Chinese leaf.
- In a skillet with some water, make a broth of minced garlic, ginger, soy sauce, carrot and red chilli. When the water comes to a boil, incorporate about a tablespoon of honey, depending on how much broth you’ve made. Taste the broth, it should be a sweetish-salty flavour.
- Set in the fillet of pork and braise till done.
- When the pork is almost done, add in the Chinese leaf and remove all once cooked.
This is the Kuala Lumpur variant of Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodles, similar to the usual Chinese Stir-Fry, but going crazy with the rendered lard and dark soy sauce, the darker the better.
- Get your noodles, or linguine boiling in a pot and have your ingredients all ready. Drain your noodles or pasta as soon as they’re done. This is important ‘cos stir-frying is a whizz, no time for chopping carrots while your garlic is burning away into a pile of charred lumps.
- In a screaming hot wok of a tablespoon of oil, get your slices of Chinese sausage, or lardons in.
- Add minced garlic, minced onion and a slice of ginger into the wok to flavour the oil.
- Welcome the Aroma Fairies.
- Carrots go in ‘cos they take longer to cook through.
- Once your carrots are almost done, add a small bit of oil and crack in a egg, stirring it about erratically till about done.
- Then, add in your marinated (minus soy sauce) Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pork, stir-frying it with small quantities of the noodle boiling water.
- Toss in leafy green vegetables and drained noodles.
- Go crazy with the dark soy sauce till it’s all nice and blackish. (Bear in mind that doing this can get VERY salty, so the darker the soy sauce, the better.)
- Season with light soy sauce if necessary.
- Add a generous pinch of sugar and still happily away.
I tried my hand at making some risotto for myself and went ballistic. It became kinda like a risotto version of fried rice.
Risotto of carrot, Chinese sausage, Camembert and mint.
- In a skillet with a little oil, toss in the Chinese sausage brunoise, or chorizo slices. Fry about till fragrant.
- Put in minced shallots, and welcome the Aroma Fairies. Your kitchen hasn’t smelt this good in awhile. ‘Awhile’ probably ranging from four hours ago to four months ago.
- Add the arborio rice and a generous splash of red wine. Cook till wine almost evaporates completely.
- Stir the mixture continuously, adding chicken stock in small quantities each time the skillet rice is almost dry, until the grains are firm to the pinch but soft to the bite, then turn off the heat.
- Stir in bits of torn Camembert and mint leaves.