Stir-fried Chicken with Creamed Corn (粟米肉粒飯)

Here is the first recipe on my blog: it’s been a long long while but I am just not into (or good at) taking pictures of food, which seems so essential for a food blog. Yes, I’m such a lazy food blogger for not taking pictures of food, but really, why don’t we just leave that to the professional food stylists?! The dish isn’t particularly photogenic either so why don’t you just imagine pieces of tender chicken swimming in a pool of hot, creamy corn sauce (I’m not so eloquent at making things sound appetising either!). I thought about just plonking on any picture I find on the net, but even with referencing there might be copyright/plagiarism issues there, so I’ll stay on the safe side. Here’s a picture nevertheless.

This is the first dish I learnt to cook, about 5 years ago when I was 14, and my mother decided I needed to do some housework. I actually rather enjoyed cooking, even back then, not really a troublesome chore to me. I’m so glad that I was ‘forced’ to cook once every week, because now I’ve got hundreds of recipes in my collection (including many family recipes that create exemplary versions of dishes (I know, I know, everybody says their mother’s cooking is the best…), and a firm grasp of Chinese cookery.

I cooked this for 5 weeks in a row before I moved on to another dish, because it’s so simple, fool-proof and yet yields good results much like the cha chaan tengs in Hong Kong. I think I got really sick of it after that, but now the humble dish has earned a place in my repertoire. Don’t expect anything spectacular: it is just an ordinary-tasting, homey dish that would bring any HK expatriate back to hometown. N.B. The “Rating” is totally arbitrary and by no means definitive (purely a personal preference thing) with 5-star meaning a delicious meal, and 1-star indicating mediocreity. Don’t worry, I won’t post any recipes less than mediocre (i.e. failures)! The “Source” is the person I got the recipe from.

If you have bland taste buds like my mother, then you’d complain that sesame oil, garlic, shallot bulb and chilli will only overpower the natural sweetness of the corn. If you have normal taste buds and like to eat intense foods (like me), feel free to be generous in adding as much as you like. Also, use half creamed corn half corn kernels, otherwise you’ll end up with a blob of gooey cornstarch mass lacking in corny crunch (no pun intended). Adding egg will also make a nice texture change, little strings of eggy er, strings.
The hard part about the dish is to avoid overcooking the chicken. You won’t have much of a problem with thighs, but chicken breast is very easy to overcook, so don’t cook the chicken too much when you’re browning it, and don’t simmer for too long.

Last time I looked on the internet there was only one English internet site that mentioned of this dish. Maybe Cantonese people consider it to be a tired cliche (given the ubiquity of this dish, I would have thought there would be at least one fellow food blogger who would talk about it!). Oh well, I shall be the second person on the net to extol the virtues of this dish (in the English sites anyway)! I found a nice article from a Caucasian’s perspective (and a recipe much like mine. I like how he mentions the Chinglish to name to describe the dish :P).

Without further ado, I introduce to you:

Stir-fried Chicken with Creamed Corn (粟米肉粒飯)

400g chicken breast or thigh (diced, marinated lightly)
310g can creamed corn (or half of 420g)
310g corn kernels (or half of 420g) (drained)
2-3 slices of ginger
(optional-if you want the light flavour of corn, don’t add) 2 cloves garlic, 1 large shallot bulb, 1 red chilli (deseeded)  (minced), sesame oil, 1 egg, other vegetables (eg. zucchinni, carrot, peas etc.)

Method
1.Heat oil in wok over high heat.
2.(optional) Fry optional vegetables until tender. Remove.
3.Fry ginger (and garlic and shallot bulb etc.) for a little.
4.Add chicken and stir-fry for 1-3 minutes until browned, occasionally leaving it without stirring to char a little.
5.Pour in creamed corn (scrape clean) and corn kernels. Stir-fry for another minute or until chicken is done, simmering over medium heat.
6.Make a thickening sauce of 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Stir into sauce until thickened to desired consistency. Alternatively, beat 1 egg and gradually pour in a steady stream into boiling sauce while stirring slowly.
7.Serve with rice and (optional) garnish with spring onion and Knorr soy sauce.

Source: Mama
Rating: ****

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Stomach about to explode

Hello all! I am in foodie paradise!

Not really, that was just a hyperbole merely intended to attract your attention. Well, Sydney certainly does offer much more culinary choice than Brisbane, but the main reason is not because of the actual restaurants/food offered in a place per se, but more the notion of one’s prerogative to become a lunatic and stuff onself crazy since everybody is treating you to food that is entailed from holiday mode. It’s not like I’m complaining here, I love to eat out, but sometimes it’s a bit too much.

I’m here right now, in pain from overeating tonight. It feels as if my stomach is being weighed down by a 5kg rock inside that won’t budge, just sitting there like some intrusive, irksome visitor adamantly refusing to leave. I tried to resist, but it’s just so hard to not eat when there’s food in front of me. My uncle is a huge eater, akin to the appetite of a sumo wrestler (despite his svelte frame), and I think I owe my genetic makeup to my lack of overweight (without such unusually high metabolism, my diet (probably double or triple the amount a typical asian girl would consume) would no doubt have made me morbidly obese), and I think my family tends to encourage me to keep eating, don’t waste food… But I need to learn to say no. The few weeks I’ve been in Sydney, I’ve been stuffing myself silly even though I’m already full, and I think family has a lot to blame, being the frugal Chinese we (they) are, constantly forcing me to finish the scraps left from every dish. I am staying in Wagga Wagga for 5 days with my uncle, and he knows I love to eat, so he brought so much food for me. A pandan cake, black sesame soup, pocky, “sachima cookie”, two tubs of yogurt, three mangoes, six Chinese buns, Panetonne, ice cream sticks… you get the gist. And this is in addition to the three meals a day. And he expects me to finish it all, in five days. I like snacks, but it’s just too much! I know he loves me and is being hospitable, but when it gets to the point where my stomach is about to explode (me being my vocab-extending self, I was on the brinkof writing ‘implode’ before I realised that would probably be the verb used to describe a famine), it’s kind of overboard.

wagga-food

Okay, so I have part blame too, loving eating so much and a natural curiosity to try a bit of everything (if they order 20 dishes in yum cha for example, I’ll try each and every one of them), but then my family is again to blame, because at home I would cut things in half so I can try a small piece of everything, but here, they’re so rigid, and thinks I’m rude for doing that.. making me eat a huge piece of everything).

But anyway, aside from my health, I’ve been having wonderful meals down in New South Wales. Good food. I just went to a Vietnamese restaurant today with uncle, and we ordered the pork and shrimp rice roll for entree, and beef with lemongrass and chilli, and combination meats (chicken, shrimp, beef, pork) in tammarind sauce. My uncle, having such an astute tongue, commented the mains were a good combination because the two had very distinct flavours of their own and stood out individually, rather than the common problem of ordering two very similar dishes that just taste the same (very easy mistake to do in an Asian restaurant where all the dishes are doused in sauces which are practically identical). The spicy, poignant flavour of the beef contrasted well with the sourness of the tarramind sauce. So it got me thinking… it’s rarely discussed, the matching of dishes in one meal, but it’s such an important thing, and I wonder why that is? Perhaps most Western people are less lavish than us Chinese, and just have one main with a salad to match. Much more simple.

This restaurant, called Saigon restaurant (it’s in Wagga Wagga),  was the first time I tried those lovely Vietnamese spring rolls and fell head over heels for. In this version, it’s made with fillings of shrimp, pork shreds (it’s marinated, not just plain), vermicelli noodles, lettuce, carrots, bean sprouts, Thai basil, with the dipping sauce probably made of hoisin sauce with crushed peanuts on top. I don’t know how authentic it is, but it seems to taste nicer than the ones in Brisbane. That’s probably because there’s coriander leaves (yuck), and maybe the sauce wasn’t the super sweet hoisin sauce. It’s probably more authentic in Brisbane, I remember there’s always a little strip of green protruding from the ends of the rolls. Oh well. I think I’ve had enough rambling for today. My goal for the rest of the holiday: to say ‘no’ when I am already stuffed, and avoid further stomach aches.

(P.S. I’ll upload some pertinent photos when I get the chance)

The Omnivore’s Hundred

Here goes my first meme (one of those “let’s all do this” games).

A British blogger, Andrew Wheeler, wrote up a completely subjective list of a hundred foods he believes everyone should try at least once in their life. He admits “the list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food – but a good omnivore should really try it all.” I confess there are quite a few foods that I am incognizant of, and have attached wiki links to these obscure items.

Here are the official rules:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

I also followed Clotilde from Chocolate and Zucchini’s in putting one asterisk next to the foods I like (** for the ones I love!), and put square brackets for some commentary. Care to play along too and share your results?
1. Venison [Once, when I was a child, I was quite scared of the notion of eating deer… it was in a jar, of a gourmet brand I believe…I remember I kept staring at the drawing of the deer on the jar (in slight disgust yet fascination)]
2. Nettle tea [Dandelion tea’s nice though]
3. Huevos rancheros

4.
Steak tartare [I have strong aversion to raw beef… I looked on in disgust as my father munched on this last year! Even a rare steak makes me queasy.]
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding [Ugh… I was close to crossing this out but I thought I would probably be a little more adventerous. Come to think of it, I’m sure I have eaten those blood cube things in noodle soup while I was a kid in HK. Hello bold!]
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp* [They say it’s like eating goldfish. I can’t even remember anymore]
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari*
12.
Pho**
13.
PB&J sandwich [For the less acronym-savvy, it’s peanut butter and jam. Personally I much prefer peanut butter with condensed milk-classic HK style!]
14.
Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart [Not from a street cart… I ain’t American!]
16.
Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns** [One of my favourite Yum Cha dishes!]
20. Pistachio ice cream [Pistachio and fig sounds like a divine combo…]
21.
Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries** [Have went blueberry picking once… and also had a mulberry-eating rampage while I was on my geography excursion to Northey St Farm]
23.
Foie gras
24.
Rice and beans [Um.. well, maybe not prepared in the traditional Latino style, but sure, I’ve eaten plenty of bean dishes served with rice! (Chinese style!)]
25. Brawn, or head cheese [I think I tried this once, in the company of a chef. Immediate reaction: puke (hyperbole)]
26.
Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche (Sounds like leche flan, this Filipino condensed milk-based dessert I tried. Ah the wonders of cultural exchange! (The Philippines was colonised by Spain)]
28.
Oysters
29. Baklava*
30.
Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas** [loved these since kiddo times!]
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl [I’ve had clam chowder, although not in a sourdough bowl…does that constitute as half?!]
33. Salted lassi
34.
Sauerkraut [Was quite tasty in a German hotdog I ate at the Ekka this year]
35. Root beer float  [Have tried lots of other soft drink floats though]
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37.
Clotted cream tea*
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo [Didn’t know that’s the name at first. My aunty from America made some.. it’s just a thick meat and vegetable soup served over rice]
40. Oxtail [Not 100% sure though…]
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects [I’ll be truthful here.. when I was the strange, strange kid I was, I ate a live black ant. Needles to say I wasn’t impressed-it had an acidic taste! I’d cross it out if it involved insects such as beetles, flies, or cockroaches though *shudder*]
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more [don’t think Johnnie Walker’s that pricey]
46. Fugu [Let’s not play with fate eh? Won’t risk my life just for the novelty! Unless it were prepared by some master chef…]
47. Chicken tikka masala* [Quite sure it’s similar to Butter Chicken which I’ve tried]
48. Eel** [Am in love with the unadon at Japanese restaurants!]
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut** [Makes me weak at the knees…]
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi [Okay, so I haven’t really tasted the Japanese version, but I ate lots of dried plums (albeit Chinese-style!) as a child]
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal* [Look, I have to be honest with my asterisks ok!? It’s a sentimental childhood sort of food!]
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV [Not sure…maybe I have?]
59. Poutine [Sounds delicious though]
60. Carob chips [Can’t remember…]
61. S’mores** [Give me anything with roasted marshmallow and I will swoon! Didn’t know that was the name. Think I ate it in a Brownies camp back in HK]
62. Sweetbreads [At first I was about to asterisk it because I thought it referred to the breads from Chinese bakeries that are sweet, but I wiki-ed… and I may just cross it out due to my repulsion to offal… but I think I’d be game enough to try]
63. Kaolin [Although I ate sand at a beach when I was a baby…]
64. Currywurst [Well, I ate that German hot dog!]
65. Durian [For the benefit of doubt, I’ll say I haven’t, but I have this feeling I have. Jackfruit’s delicious though!]
66. Frogs’ legs [Those poor poor froggies.. So so close to crossing it out…]
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis [So so close to crossing this out, but I’m pretty open to new foods… Even just a tiny bite constitutes as a try right?!]
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette [Oh my gosh, this offal stuff has gone too far!! (Methinks the author is a tad obsessed)]
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini [Does Japanese salmon roe count..?]
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill [I’m thinking whether I would or not…]
76. Baijiu [Once again I’m not certain, but considering I put so much rice wine into my cooking I’ll say yes?]
77. Hostess Fruit Pie [Oh oh, but I’ve eaten Hostess Twinkies! Hmm…]
78. Snail* [It’s actually quite nice, with the garlic and all the flavourings]
79. Lapsang souchong [Who knows what weird and wonderful things my parents order at Yum Cha… But the benefit of doubt…]
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum [I hope it counts if it came as powder with instant noodles. 😛 ]
82. Eggs Benedict [Not sure…]
83. Pocky** [Oh where would I be without thou?]
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. [What the…]
85. Kobe beef** [‘Tis heaven in the mouth, and this is coming from a girl who isn’t a particular beef fan!]
86. Hare [Poor bunnies… cross out?]
87. Goulash
88. Flowers [Was at Northey St Farm again, they put it in salad]
89. Horse [Even my adventerous self would sort of nauseate at the thought]
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam [Ah the nostalgia]
92. Soft shell crab*
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox [Not together]
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta [Am so eager to try!]
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake [Yes, this is despite my astrological sign, I’m a shameless cannibal! Ah, the weird and wonderful of HK food]

38/100, not too shameful of a score for an 18 year old, no? I didn’t include the ‘half’ scores because I guess that would be cheating, or the ‘doubt’ foods I may have tried but can’t remember. Anyway I’d jump at the chance to try most of the above (excluding offal items-but I would be reluctantly willing to try most!), except four items, one of which perchance entails death, with the others I just balk at the thought of. Now it’s your turn!

Considering how most of these foods were tried in HK… It’s just testimony to the lack of culinary diversity in Australia! Ah bland bland Australia… But then one must keep in mind this British blogger would have a slight cultural bias; there wasn’t a single dish that originated from Australia (what happened to pavlova, kangaroo, emu, tim tams, vegemite… these are quite the memorable foods!)! Another thing I would have included is balut, which is quite very exotic, and Ikea’s swedish meatballs with cranberry sauce (nearly as universal as Mcdonalds!).

Faux, Quasi, Pseudo Cheesecake!

Mango Cream Cheese

Mango Cream Cheese

Strawberry Cream Cheese

Strawberry Cream Cheese

I remember back when I was in Hong Kong (around the new millennium), my mother would buy the Philadelphia (gosh it’s so hard to master the spelling!) Cream Cheese Strawberry Spread, and every time I went to her place I would liberally lather it on my toast and really, get ‘a little taste of heaven‘ (no I’m not their new promotion manager!). Of course, with the immigration to Australia, this is one of the foods I was forced to forever relinquish, hidden deep in the fathomless pits of my memory as a most luscious nosh. Or so I thought. Thankfully, Australians are starting to recognise the notion of ‘good taste‘, and around a year ago I was delighted to see this item stocked on the supermarket shelves. Nearly a decade behind HK’s discovery of this beauty (oh noes, I’m inadvertently developing an Australian vocabulary! 😯 ). For those with less of a sweet tooth, they have savoury flavours too, but that’s like eating savoury cheesecake. (eew, I say!)

So yes, if you feel the craving to eat cheesecake for breakfast but not in the mood to start your day off guiltily, I suggest you go buy this now. Toast some bread to its most crunchy state possible. Then slather this sublime gloop on. Be generous now, it’s 80% less fat than butter! That’s better…

What’s in a name?

Why Ten Thousand Taste Buds you ask?

Well, why don’t I show you the other alternatives:

Broccoli & Chocolate : seems apt since it embodies two of my favourite foods, and catchy because they’re like binary opposites, with the healthy/unhealthy… but judging by the amount of ~~~ & ~~ (food & another food format) food blog names out there, it’s hardly original.

Lifethyme : Really, puns are quite corny…

Parsley sage rosemary and time : Simon and Garfunkel may be timeless singers, but my blog certainly isn’t a tribute to them! Maybe the notions of the herbs is very foodie, and time alludes to my stretched schedule as a university student… but I’ll be honest, I hardly use herbs.

Just another food blog : I’m sure there are plenty of food blogs out there with a similar name…

Blog of Mastication : I was just being a little cheeky and frivolous here, such an enigmatic word probably would have garnered much public interest… Nevertheless, it’s probably a little too brazen for me, and there’s more to food than chewing!

Pie in the sky : I recently found a food blog by this name. Luckily I didn’t get caught for plagiarism…

FoodBlog101 : Hands up if you think I really hit the jackpot for creativity this time?!

So you see, this really was probably the most original, catchy and befitting name, considering the premise behind this blog. Without tastebuds, the luscious sensual experience of food would be nonexistent, and the topic of health and nutrition is alluded to by this anatomical reference. There’s also this theory that while eyes may be the windows to the soul, the tongue is the window to your health (ever stuck your tongue out for a doc?). I actually didn’t know that humans had ten thousand taste buds until I conceived of this name idea and googled it up, or that some aren’t even located on the tongue! Thought that humans have the most sophisticated taste perceptions of all animals? Think again: cows have 25,000 taste buds, rabbits 17,000. Wonder how they can possibly gulp down all that disgusting grass or their own faeces (rabbits are coprophagic!) with such heightened sense of taste…