Category Archives: Cooking and recipes

Here I attempt to cook up a storm and share my results and how I achieve them.

Sous vide Bo Luc Lac

For those who don’t know Bo Luc Lac, it’s a Vietnamese dish of beef cubes (usually scotch fillet or rib eye) served with tomato rice and salad. Translated, it means shakey shakey beef, or shaken beef – like a stir fry.

I’ve done a bit of a modern take on it and went the sous vide route, why? Because I can use a cheaper cut of meat like rump or blade and still have tender meat (usually it’s made with scotch fillet). My sous vide machine is Sunbeam Duos bought for me by my lovely girlfriend.

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Before you begin, you’ll need (this will serve 4):

  • Cheap beef –  800g of rump (discounted one too)
  • Onions – 1 large
  • Garlic – 4 cloves – diced finely
  • Oyster sauce – 3tb spn
  • Soy sauce – 2tb spn
  • Sesame oil
  • Neutral oil – Canola
  • Salt and pepper

To sous vide, i pat my beef dry, sprinkled on a few drops of sesame oil, salt and pepper. Vacuum sealed it, then dropped it into the sous vide machine.

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Settings? 50 degrees for 4 hours – aiming for rare here as the meat will cook a little further on the wok (and also because this is for lunch, I want to keep it on the rarer side as the microwave will cook it further). When done, I put the meat into the fridge (again this is to prevent overcooking when tossed on the wok.

The result? Consistently rare beef throughout.

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Once cool, dice up the meat into 1.5 – 2cm cubes.

Then marinate the meat – oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, diced garlic and 3 tablespoons of regular oil (typically I’d add salt, pepper and sesame oil, but that was added earlier). Toss, and let it sit for a while – the flavours here are quite strong so you don’t need to leave it for hours.

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In the meanwhile, chop up a large onion into large chunks. I just half the onion and then cut it into 12 portions.

Final step is to get you work and shake it up, importantly though, because I don’t have a proper wok burner, I cook my beef in small batches. It’s important to keep the work hot and smoking.

Heat up your wok til it’s hot, add some oil and quickly toss the onion in, keep tossing until all the chunks break up. Next add your beef and keep stirring/shaking, you want to ensure a nice brown colour on all sides of the meat. The goal here is to brown the meat.

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The end result – for lunch I served this with a basic tomato pasta and a side of salad; lettuce, tomato and capsicum.

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Seafood pizza

Love pizza as it’s something you can really let your imagination run wild in terms of toppings and flavours. In this recipe I’ve made a seafood pizza and used some frozen dough and sauce from Costco.

Value wise – the dough’s pretty expensive for what it is, but it does much better than those frozen pizza bases. You let it sit out side for 4 hours (we took it out before leaving for work) and it rises to a really fluffy dough full of air. Stretch it out on a bench with some flour and you’re good to go.

Only tip is to place the dough in the oven for a few minutes for harden it up a bit and prevent the juices from seeping through.

What you’ll need:

  • Pizza dough – we bought frozen but you can make your own.
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozerella cheese
  • Garlic prawns – we purchased the pre-marinated ones from Woolworths
  • Smoked salmon
  • Mushrooms, onions, capsicum
  • Chilli flakes and oregano

Photos by ntranced photography. For enquiries email andrew@ntranced.com.au

Pizza’s simple, lay on the sauce onto the pizza base, spread out your toppings, add the cheese and into the oven. Don’t be shy and let the toppings and cheese go all the way to the edge.

Photos by ntranced photography. For enquiries email andrew@ntranced.com.au

We’ve got a pizza stone, so make sure you let that heat up before putting the pizza on. I maxed out my oven at 260 degrees and baked the pizza for about 15 minutes. The end result:

Photos by ntranced photography. For enquiries email andrew@ntranced.com.au

Slow roast chicken

Everybody loves chicken, especially chicken that’s moist and so tender that the meat just falls off from the bone and to achieve this isn’t that hard! Just takes a bit of time to cook and the end result is this:

The recipe’s quite simple, I found this in a forum I visit rather often and you’ll need the following:

  • 1 whole chicken, get a bigger one, mine was about 1.5kg.
  • 1.5 tbspn salt
  • 1 tspn white pepper
  • 1 tspn freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbspn hot paprika
  • 1/2 tbspn cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tbspn chilli powder or flakes
  • 1 tspn Mixed herbs (just the one in the shakers will do)
  • 1 onion (cut into 6)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • A meat thermometer, a digital one is great.

To make this all you need to do is:

1. The night before or at least 6 hours before cooking,

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients.
  2. Cut the onion into 6 chunks and flatten and halve the garlic.
  3. Dry the chicken with paper towels, inside and out.
  4. Stuff the inside of the chicken with the onion and garlic.
  5. Rub the dry mix all over the chicken, get it as even as possible and make sure you rub all the joins.
  6. Wrap the bowl/tray tightly in glad wrap and leave in fridge.

2. When you’re ready to cook, pre-heat the oven to 120 degrees Celsius.

3. Place the chicken in the oven and pour any juices in the bowl onto it.

4. Cook for approximately 4 hours,

  1. Turn the chook every hour and,
  2. Every hour after 2 hours, baste the chicken with the juices that come out.
  3. You’ll want to remove the chicken once the internal temperature reaches about 74 degrees, my chook took about 3.5 hours.

5. Let it rest for 15 minutes, carve up and serve.

This is the end result all carved up:

With the juices in the tray you can also make a gravy, just add about 200 mL of water or chicken stock as well as the onions and garlic from inside the chicken and thicken up using starch or plain flour. Serve with a lemon and side with your favourite roast vegies and/or salad. Too easy.

Modernist Cuisine at home

In my quest for good food and a more fundamental understanding of cooking, I purchased the (very) recently published book ‘Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet; now there are hundreds of other cookbooks out there, so why did I choose this one? Well I had originally wanted to purchase the original 6 book encyclopaedia (which locally sells for over $1000, retails for $700 in the UK and goes for $470 on bookdepository.com, rather ridiculous!) but as I learnt, to get the most out of it, it requires some specialist equipment and ingredients. Fortunately as I put it off, over a year later, a new book emerges, entitled Modernist Cuisine at home; similar in concept but less reliance on expensive equipment or specialist ingredients.

Here’s how the book comes:

Nice little holder which stores two books, the first is the main book itself with the detailed explanations and recipes and the second is a waterproof and washable kitchen manual, aka recipe book.

So what’s my fascination about these books? I like the approach they take to cooking, scientific and methodological a kind of cause-effect explanation of things; i.e. how different processes affect the taste and texture of foods in different ways. Secondly, the imagery in the books are absolutely fascinating, cut outs to show you a little inside of what’s happening as you cook, vivid images of the process as it goes on and just so much detail to show the different states of the food depending on how you cook it.

The image below is a dissection of a barbeque and explanations of what’s actually going on.

It’s going to take me a while to get through this book and pick out some achievable recipes as well as slowly amassing the various equipment needed to make all the yummy recipes. Stay tuned, there will definitely be a lot more food coming to this blog.

Singaporean Chilli Crab

For father’s day I decided to cook up a storm and the choice of dish would be Singaporean chill crab with a side of stir fried Hokkien noodles. The last time I tried the crab was for dinner with some friends and that ended up a disaster with me close to slicing off my finger with the cleaver (4 weeks later and it’s still not completely healed).

The recipe used for this dish was from SBS and a recipe by Alex Lee (link here: http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipe/130/Singapore_chilli_crab). Bear in mind if you’re doing this as well, watch the video as the recipe does miss a step or two).

Here’s my result:

So how do you actually make it?

Well it’s actually very simple, you’ll obviously need a crab, here’s the one I got, unfortunately it was missing a claw, but it will do.

If you’ve bought it live (which you should), you’ll need to kill it, remove the head, break it in half remove the claws (or claw in my case). Chop the body and legs into two pieces and the claw into two pieces at the elbow joint. A full crab should give you 8 pieces of meat, enough for 3 people. You’ll also need to smash up the shell of the claw pieces a bit, use the cleaver sideways or a hammer, be careful not to go too hard, you’ll still want it to look like crab pieces. Place on some paper towels to dry.

What you’ll need for the crab (amounts are for 1 full crab):

  • 1 live (or freshly killed) mud crab
  • 2 brown onions (roughly chopped)
  • 8 red chillis (roughly chopped) (make sure they actually have a bit of kick to them)
  • Belacan or some shrimp paste (tiny bit)
  • 1/2 tbspn vinegar
  • Approx 6tbspn oil
  • 1 tbspn tomato paste
  • 2 tbspn tomato sauce
  • 300mL tomator puree
  • 3 tbspn light soy sauce
  • 1 tbspn chilli sauce
  • 4 tbspn sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water with 1/4 tspn corn starch
  • 1 egg

First blitz the onions and chilli in a food processor until its pretty fine but not too mushy (about 20 – 30 seconds).

Before:

After:

A little extra step I like to do is to lightly fry the crab pieces, place a wok on high heat and wait til its very hot, pour in some oil and once it smokes, place the crab pieces in, be careful as the crab may still be wet and oil will fly. Cook roughly for about 30 seconds to a minute, remove and set aside.

Get the rest of your ingredients ready in preparation to make the sauce.

With a hot wok, pour the oil in, immediately after place the chilli and onion mixture/paste in and cook until it looks somewhat dry, the onion contains a fair amount of liquid which you want to evaporate. Next you’ll be adding the vinegar, tomato puree, paste, sugar and salt.

Next add the tomato sauce, soy sauce as well as water and starch mixture. let it simmer for a little bit to get the flavours out. Bring the sauce the boil and place in your crab pieces. Cook until the shell is a consistent red colour, once achieved, crack an egg in and stir to spread the egg uniformly. You’re done.

I personally don’t think crab is enough on its own, so to compliment it, I made some stir fried Hokkien noodles to go along with it. Like with any stir fry, they’re simple, but the key is maintaining high heat for the smokey flavours, this means moderating the portions you cook with so the heat doesn’t dissipate too quickly.

For my stir fry, I had the following:

  • Onions
  • Carrot
  • Chilli
  • Capsicum
  • Garlic (finely chopped)
  • Fish balls
  • Fish cake
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Bean sprouts
  • Hokkien noodles
  • 2 tbspn oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tbspn seasame oil
  • 1 tbspn oil

With stir fry, you want to arrange your ingredients in a logical manner for when you throw them in.

To make the stir fry, have your work hot and smoking, add the oils, they should smoke immediately. Add the chopped garlic and stir immediately, do not stop! Next add the capsicum, onions, chilli and carrots, keep stirring. After about 20 seconds you want to add the fish balls and fish cake, this is also the time to add the oyster sauce.

Next is to add the noodles, make sure when you dunked them in hot water you didn’t leave it too long, otherwise you’ll be left with mushy noodles. Give it a good stir then finally add the cabbage and bean sprouts, once they soften you are done and should end up with something like this:

My final results of the two dishes:

Peri Peri Chicken – with photos

So it was bank holiday not too long ago and I decided to cook up one of my favourite recipes, this time with some photos along the way. You can do a search for the recipe and ingredients but I’ll do a quick run through of the process with the photos.

The first thing you need for this recipe is a roasted capsicum, red or green it doesn’t matter, what you need to do is put it in an oven at 230 degrees for about 10 minutes, the skin on the outside will begin to wrinkle and some of it will become burnt, that’s what you want.

Once you remove it, place it in a plastic bag, the steam will help remove the skin. Once skinned, removed the core and place it in a blender.

In the marinade, you’ll need a mixture of the following, 2 chopped garlic cloves, juice of 1 lemon, 1tbsp of cayenne pepper, 1tbsp of smoked paprika, 2 tbsp of crushed chill (or hot chilli sauce), 1/4 cup olive oil and 5tbsp on salt.

Place it all in a blender.

Blend until you have an even consistency.

You’ll want some marilands chicken legs and give it a couple of deep scores so the marinade can penetrate through and flavour the inside.

Place all your chicken in a large bowl and pour the marinade over and mix well to ensure all the pieces have an even coating.

I like to have a side with my chicken and I went with some simple roast vegies, give them a nice coat of oil and sprinkle some salt, pepper and thyme on there. Place them in the oven at 200 degrees for about 30 – 40 minutes turning every 10.

Now, to cook the chicken, there’s only one way, ovens and grills just won’t cut it, you need smoke and to get that, use a charcoal barbeque. Nothing fancy, just get some coals, light them up and spread them out in a thin layer, not too much otherwise you’ll burn the outside and leave the inside raw. Put a lid on the barbeque so you can get the smokey flavours to mix and to help cook it evenly.

And that’s pretty much it, you should end up with some smokey and spicey chicken that’s deliciously moist. Serve it along with the roasted vegies.

Cupcake pizzas – with recipe

I actually came across this from 9gag out of all places and thought to myself that this simply had to be done. They’re miniature pizzas made in cupcake containers. So how do you make these yummy looking things?

Well the hardest bit is the dough, it’s not hard to do, just a little time consuming, you can’t really go and buy a pre-made pizza cupcake base, so you gotta do it from scratch. The quantities below will be enough for a batch of 12 pizza cupcakes.

What you need:

  • 190 mL warm water
  • 1 tsp of dried yeast (half a sachet)
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 300g/2 cups of plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 60 mL olive oil

Note: you could probably use self-raising flour instead of combining yeast with it, but I haven’t tried myself.

What to do:

  1. Combine the warm water, yeast and sugar in a bowl, ensure the sugar is dissolved. Leave it for 5 minutes until it becomes foamy.
  2. While you wait for the yeast to ferment, mix the flour and salt into a large bowl and create a well in the middle. Once the yeast mixture is ready, pour it into the well along with the olive oil.
  3. Use a butter knife and combine the mixture using a cutting motion, rotate the bowl as you go until it’s pretty well mixed. Use your hands at the end to bring it all together.
  4. Lightly flour a chopping board or flat surface and knead the dough until it’s a smooth consistency. It should also feel somewhat elastic.
  5. Brush another bowl with some olive oil and place the ball of dough in it, rolling it around until it’s coated.
  6. Cover in cling wrap and leave in a warm area so it rises to about double its size, should take about 30 – 40 minutes.

As you wait for the dough to rise, you’ll have the difficult task of choosing what toppings you’d like in your pizza, best bit is you can do it to however you please! At a minimum you will need a sauce for the base and some mozzarella cheese, I used the shredded variety as it makes it easier to fill the small cupcakes.

For mine, I had:

  • Tomato-based pizza sauce
  • Semi-dried tomatoes
  • Chorizo sausages
  • Diced ham
  • Green capsicum
  • Pineapple
  • Cubes of fetta cheese
  • Bit of basil
To make the pizza is simple:
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees
  2.  Take the dough that’s now risen and gently flatten and stretch it. Rip up pieces big enough to cover the cup cake tray and press it in. Your dough should not be more than half a centimetre thick. Repeat until you’re out of dough
  3. Add the pizza sauce to the bottom, be very generous and line up the sides as well.
  4. Add your toppings and stack them as high as possible. Add your cheese, covering as much as possible.
  5. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes.

It’s a very simple recipe and tastes great, will definitely do this one again but with some garlic prawns, think it will be a perfect combo.

My perfect steak

I’ve been trying to perfect my own steak recipe for a while now (well since my local Woolworths stock some nice juicy bone in rib-eye pieces!). I’ve been using a combination of oven and pan-frying to ensure the steak is evenly cooked in the center, yet charred and brown on the outside. A good piece of steak should require no marinade, all that’s required is olive oil, salt and pepper. Here’s the result of my steak (as you can see it’s served with a nice salad and roasted vegies), the steak itself is a perfect medium rare. The steak here was about 450grams, pretty big piece but Woolworths will occasionally have pieces up to 700grams!

Steak, salad and roast vegies

The outside however is not the important bit, what’s important is the inside. Below is how a steak should be, first thing you’ll notice is that it’s pink, not red. Second thing you’ll notice is that the pink-ness runs right from the top to the bottom. Why is this a good thing? Firstly pink means it is cooked but not enough to turn it brown and chewy, being pink it remains super juicy and tender. The consistency of the pink-ness means that it’s cooked throughout and evenly, not like most steak places where the middle is actually red/raw and the outside is done.

Perfectly pink

So how do you get a steak this good? Firstly you need a good piece of meat, it’s gotta be thick and good quality, don’t bother doing this with a cheap rump or t-bone. Second trick is the oven, while this seams to go against everything for cooking a steak, an oven allows you to bring the internal temperature of the meat slowly without overcooking the outside. Finally, resting time, this is super important! Resting it will allow it to cook and soak up the juices so that when you cut it open, liquid doesn’t come oozing out.

Now this wasn’t a proper guide to how to do it, but I feel that I can do it consistently enough to do a proper write up and instructions. Next time I’ll take photos along the way to show you the cooking process.

Perhaps the next time I do this will be with a more expensive cut of beef, perhaps a well marbled Wagyu.

Fish and chips for dinner

Cooked my own dinner tonight and decided it’d be some grilled fish and chips (and a salad as well to be healthy). I kinda bastardised my own recipe from a few on the net and I think it turned out pretty well. Aside from slightly overcooking the salmon, it was rather delicious. Photo below:

Fish and chips
Fish and chips

Ingredients:

  • Sea salt and black pepper (freshly ground)
  • Crushed garlic
  • Lime juice
  • Onion powder
  • Olive oil
  • Little bit of English mustard
  • Salmon fillet

How you do it:

  1. Take salmon out of the fridge and let it sit for 15-20 minutes
  2. Mix all the ingredients
  3. Place the salmon in your marinade and make sure it’s fully coated, let it sit for 5 minutes, flipping each side in between.
  4. Chuck the salmon inside your grill until it’s cooked (will vary depending on the size of your cut).

I used my convection oven instead of grill (it’s quicker and I was hungry) but a grill would definitely be better, you can also optionally add a little honey to the marinade.

Patatas Bravas

I actually made this a while ago but haven’t gotten round to putting up a post about it. Coming back from Encasa and having this dish, I simply had to have more, but I wasn’t going to the city just to get some. Instead, I decided I’d make my own, I mean how hard could it be? After all it’s just potato cubes with a garlic mayonnaise with a spicy tomato salsa.

When I had it though, I felt it was missing something, sauteed diced onions!

Patatas Bravas

Being the lazy guy I am, I made the recipe as follows:

Ingredients:

  1. Roasted garlic sauce (concentrated)
  2. Whole egg mayonnaise
  3. Hot chilli sauce (not the Asian variety)
  4. Tomato ketchup
  5. Onions
  6. Potatoes
Cooking:
  1. Dice up the potatoes into cubes
  2. Heat up some oil in a saucepan (to deep fry)
  3. Place the potatoes into the saucepan and cook until golden*, meanwhile, cook the diced onions on a low-medium heat until brown and soft
  4. Remove and strain
  5. Mix the roasted garlic sauce with the mayonnaise to taste
  6. Mix the hot chilli sauce and ketchup to taste
  7. Place onions on the potatoes and cover with sauce. Enjoy
I seemed to have some trouble getting the potato cubes to be crunchy, so I’m thinking next time I’ll place them in an oven first to get them to cook inside and then deep fry them quickly to get a nice crunch. Will definitely try this one again as it’s delicious.