Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Tag Archives: mirin

Restaurant Ember – Another great set lunch find

It’s not quite a well-kept secret anymore that Ember’s set lunches are an absolute steal. At $39.40++, their excellent 3-course lunch doesn’t just aim to impress, but to entice and rope you into repeated visits of your own will.

If you take a look at their 3-course set lunch menu, you will eventually realise that its stunning variety of dishes to choose from is meant to please, to befuddle, and to frustrate in the best way possible. Having to choose among 3 to 4 types of foie gras for your appetiser becomes what is possibly the best sort of happy problem there can be – because you will get your dose of fatty goose liver anyway.

Ember has been around for years now since it’s opening in 2004, fusing robust European cuisine with the intricacies of the Asian cuisine. It’s a modest restaurant located in Hotel 1929, a boutique hotel establishment, seating perhaps no more than 40 people in its airy interior that is furnished simply in light tones of brown. Lit warmly from the midday sunlight streaming in through its floor-to-ceiling glass windows, suffice to say, it was a welcoming setting for our little SMU Gourmet Club event (or perhaps not so little since we took up half the restaurant). Service was attentive and efficient from the get-go. Your napkin will remain on your lap as much as possible if the wait staff can help it.

A restaurant’s bread sets the stage, as most will agree. The tomato foccacia that floated out of the kitchen, while most of us were still bustling around and trying to settle down, was warm and crackly as good bread should be. It was perfumed with rosemary, thyme, and specks of sun-dried tomatoes, the combination and taste standing strong on its own without additional butter. But warm, crust, tender bread without butter? Who are you kidding? You’re already on a roll (pun-intended), so just go with it and start shmearing your bread.

The most outstanding appetiser went to the Roasted and Poached Foie Gras with Mirin, Shoyu, and Shiitake, essentially just fatty goose liver on a bed of braised shiitake mushrooms. But that’s an understatement, because the thick, sweet and salty Japanese-influenced sauce was a smashing hit with the juicy shiitake. Whip that all up with a slab of creamy foie gras poached to tender perfection, and you have a mind-bogglingly crazy-sounding ingredient combination that works. No figs, no apples, no prunes, nothing classically sweet in the dish at all. Just pure savoury bliss.

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Simmered Kobocha Squash

Simmered Kobocha Squash

 

 

I’ve been toying with the idea of bringing bentos to school for lunch.

That’s right, bentos.

Those Japanese-type of colourful boxed lunches (with some special containers that come with a slot for your pair of chopsticks and a compartment for an ice pack to keep your lunch cool even by the time you eat it) that take packed lunch to a whole new dimension altogether. It’s only recently that this bento craze has been circulating the far reaches of the blogosphere thanks to Just Bento (such a lovely site and a good read), and in between gawking at Mickey Mouse-shaped slices of carrot and getting completely mind-boggled at seaweed cut-outs of Barrack Obama, I must admit that I thought these people utterly crazy.

Well obviously it’s time-consuming.

Planning meals, buying ingredients, cooking ingredients, stocking up on rice and other foodstuffs that can be frozen or refrigerated, preparing that boxed lunch every day…

That’s like telling me to go grow wheat and make my own corn flakes.

But hey, who knew that throwing together a few liquids and cubes of pumpkin, letting it blip away on the stove while you go grow your wheat plantation would taste so darn good?!

And this recipe’s completely bento-friendly, nomnom-ish yummy out of the fridge – especially out of the fridge – and so easy you’d begin to get curious about the other possible, quick-fix dishes that the Bento Realm has come up with while you were chowing on listless, dull kopitiam food. Read more of this post

Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki

It’s been a while since I’ve made this.

Can anything be simpler? Well besides an omelette. But where’s the fun in that?

I wasn’t looking for a quick egg fix. Trust me to make what could have been a five minute crack-beat-salt-pepper-pour-and-cook process into something long-winded but I needed something to nibble on, and my notes weren’t exactly very tasty. I tried.

I wanted sushi, but as much as I always have some odds and ends (I occasionally find things like squares of Godiva and packets of Toggis squirreled away at the back of the fridge, I might find the Templar treasure there someday) I didn’t have sushi. I mean, not that I made sushi in the end or anything, but this was close, just without the rice. And the adorable belt of seaweed.

There are plenty of people who can’t stand this sweet omelette, and that’s why they’re my friends. I’m there to put them out of their misery and administer instant relief. The things that they push around on their plates in disgust are those I gobble up. My presence is always valued since I eat everything they’d rather see incinerated and the ashes scattered into the wind. Ok, I apologise, Martyr Syndrome, gotta feel like I can save people because I can’t save my grades.

Anyway, I’ll get back to what drove me to roll around eggs in a pan (charming, isn’t it?). If you’re feeling as peckish as I am, caffeine running through your veins and the ends of your pens gnarly and twisted from all that gnawing in frustration, make some sweet Tamagoyaki nibblets. Omnomnomnom.

Now go.

And stop chewing on your stationery.

Same goes for you Christine
Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki

I do not possess saintly egg-rolling skills and can never fathom how those in restaurants and supermarkets get so fluffy and perfectly yellow. It takes practice but the outcome’s always a treat to eat. Keep your stove heat on low and be patient. I wasn’t, which explains the slightly overcooked, browned bits in my tamagoyaki, but they’re yummo anyway. Here’s a video to inspire, if not send you into spasming awe, of a master chef in action.

Makes 10-11 slices

Equipment:

1 sushi rolling mat.

1 rectangular tamagoyaki frying pan. (I used a pan about 7 x 6 x 1 inches. I think Daiso probably has smaller ones.)

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tsp japanese light soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbs dashi stock*

Directions:

1. Have ready a small sauceplate of oil and a brush or a piece of kitchen towel soaked lightly in oil.

2. Have your pan heated up on low heat and brush it with a little oil.

3. Beat all the ingredients together with a fork or chopsticks, but not too vigorously to prevent formation of bubbles.

4. Pour about 3-4 tablespoons of the egg mixture into the pan, just enough to coat the bottom in a thin layer while rotating the pan. When it looks set but not runny, roll it up with a pair of chopsticks or a spatula to one side of the pan. Try to get it as compacted as possible like so:

 

Rolled to one side.

6. Brush the exposed side of the pan with a little oil and repeat the pouring process, lifting the bottom of the rolled up egg to allow the new layer to coat the bottom so that it adheres to it.

7. Once the layer looks set, roll the cooked egg to the other side and repeat the entire process until you’re out of the mixture.

8. Once done, tip the tamagoyaki onto a sushi mat and roll it up firmly, securing it with a couple of rubber bands and placing is on a ventilated surface to prevent condensation (a plate or wire rack works fine). Let it cool for 5-10 minutes before placing it into the fridge to chill it or to slice and nibble immediately.

 

Sushi Mat

Notes: *The dashi stock I have at home is in powder form. I mix about 1/4 tsp of dashi concentrate with 3 tbs of water. If you don’t have dashi stock, simply substitute it with water. It’s not all that crucial.