Category Archives: Fusion Food

When East & West combines

My Root Awakening

It’s slightly over 2 months now, since Hurricane Matthew’s visit but I have taken my time unearthing my fallen edible “debris”. Why rush when Ma Nature is keeping them alive although no longer their usual vertical self.

Bit by bit my Cassava/Tapioca/Ubi Kayu is getting unearthed and used in the kitchen so yes, I have to keep thinking of “new” dishes. In the past I have usually grated these chunky roots to make sweet cakes but this time I’ve decided to use it in savory dishes too since there’s ample. So Mission Cassava begins with cleaning and parboiling.

Rinsed in the backyard and ready for peeling.

Rinsed in the backyard and ready for peeling.

Once peeled I soak them for 4 hours.

Once peeled I soak them for 4 hours.

... then cut them in chunks add pressure cook them for 20 minutes, yes, they're tough.

… then cut them in chunks and pressure cook them for 20 minutes, yes, they’re tough.

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Not All Pestos are created Equal

I was told that the word Pesto may be derived from Latin words, either pistus which means “crushed” or pastare which means mortar-pounded. My Italian girlfriend could not specifically tell me which held more weight.

Nevertheless, when I found that my Curry Leaf plants (Murraya Koenigii) simply grew amok (they must have loved Hurricane Matthew) … I decided it was time for another coppicing session, a severe one too.

Grew faster & thicker than usual.

Grew faster & thicker than usual.

I also decided, with so much Curry Leaves going to be available after the cutting and snipping, to try making Curry Leaf Pesto, out of curiousity . These days with global fusion cuisine there’s no reason why Pesto has to be Italian in taste and aroma, and only be used on pasta, right?

With the kind contribution of a Facebook friend, I got a link to a recipe from ‘The Star’ that did not look too complicated.  recipeSo a portion of the tallest branch was trimmed and the leaves washed & dried.

All needed ingredients.

All mentioned ingredients.

And the outcome… ?

a mildly fragrant pasta

a mildly fragrant, delicious pesto!

I think this will go very well with brown rice and on toast and am going to put it to good use for tomorrow’s lunch.




Cutting a Hedge for Dinner on the 1st day of Fall

Yes, we trimmed our Katuk Hedge this afternoon and the leaves are going into tonight’s dinner plus some for the freezer. This edible hedge has grown so well I’ve even introduced/shared some Katuk dishes with neighbors.

My hedge harvest

My hedge harvest

Katuk flowers are edible too!

Katuk flowers are edible too!

Many Katuk gardeners in the US have blogged about “throwing them in salad” and tasting its “nutty flavor” but having eaten this plant for decades in Asia (& I used to call it Cekur Manis) I simply prefer the cooked version ~ in curries, in sambal (hot paste with shrimp base) dishes, etc. Well, today, I decided to cook it in a “fusion” kind of dish.

sauteed with garlic and olive oil

sauteed with garlic and olive oil

Too much for 1 dinner so I’ve frozen half of the sauteed Katuk, the other portion got cut up finely on a cutting board. It’s much easier to ‘control’ when cooked so if your dish requires “finely chopped/diced” greens, stir-fry Katuk till it’s slightly limp then cut them up.

I’ve slow-cooked it with pasta sauce from my freezer (made from home-grown tomatoes) plus onions, mushrooms, firm tofu and loads of sweet basil from the backyard.

Vegetarian pasta topping

Vegetarian pasta topping

Tonight’s dinner is probably unheard of, as yet, so I’m going to call it Penne con Katuk.

Penne con Katuk

Penne con Katuk



An Indian Shepherd’s Pie … ?

There are shepherds in India too, so why not make Indian Shepherd’s Pie, I asked myself … and made it I did, for dinner ~ a vegetarian one too.

With lots of fresh curry leaves available after the 2nd Murraya Koeniggi coppicing task done yesterday, I decided to put some to immediate use.  Pie1Onions, curry leaves & curry paste slowly brought to aromatic sizzling in olive oil. Pie2I used Baba’s curry powder (the spice-blend/ratio meant for meat), one of my favorite brands. This is not an advertisement for them just a product of Malaysia which I have used for many years. Pie4Added all diced vegetables, gently sautéed and then poured in soy milk and coconut cream (if no coconut milk at time of cooking).  Simmered, while mashed potatoes got done in the microwave. Then placed vegetable curry in a casserole, covered with mashed potatoes and Romano cheese crumbs ~ as usual ~ and baked for 30 minutes till it got browned.Pie5It’s actually vegetarian curry with mashed potatoes on the top instead of chunks of potatoes in the dish itself. But we cheated … Pie6We squirted tomato ketchup over it as if it was ‘real’ Shepherd’s Pie.  Oh, it was good!

That’s what happens when East meets West and cuisines merge.  :mrgreen:

Green Green Kales of Home

The different types of Kale or Borecole (originating from the Dutch word Boerenkool or Farmer’s Cabbage) are growing in full Spring force and I am trying hard to “eat with the season” so to speak.

For today’s Brunch, I’m using Curly Kale as a substitute of what I grew up with, Kai-Lan (Chinese Kale 芥蘭)  and cooking that Chinese style, with Sesame Oil, Garlic, Ginger & Rice Wine, then adding Braised Beef prepared yesterday with the same ingredients.

Some Singapore Style Fried Bee Hoon (Rice Vermicelli) goes well with this.

… and now, I’ve got to think of what to harvest for Dinner.

Curried Beef Hash

I love Corned Beef Hash but at times, like today, I just have a calling for a more fragrant and spicy version ~ so what do I do?  Knock up Curried Beef Hash!

Still young & growing but the outer leaves are super.

Still young & growing but the outer leaves are super.

I got the greens from my cabbage/lettuce patch.  The poor, still “headless” cabbage plants are already producing very green & crunchy outer leaves which I use in stir-fry dishes.

I cut off 10 leaves, cleaned them & brought them to the chopping board.

diced young outer leaves of the cabbage plant

diced young outer leaves of the cabbage plant

Heated some oil in the pan, cut up some onions, then threw in the onions, cabbage leaf stems and my favorite curry powder.

... in the pan

… in the pan

When gently sizzling I added about 4 tablespoons of water over the curry powder & stirred into a light paste-mix with the other items.  Slowly allowed it to release that gorgeous aroma while gently stir-frying. When it was nicely golden brown, I added minced beef & diced cabbage leaves.

with added minced beef

with added minced beef and cabbage leaves

Then raised heat and cooked away … sizzle, sizzle, enjoyed the fragrance …
When beef was properly cooked, added cubed already-boiled potatoes.

cubed potato pieces in

cubed potato pieces in

Thoroughly mixed all then cracked 2 eggs & spread over everything in the pan; press egg into mixture & let it sizzle. Then flipped over in sections (just like when doing the corned beef version) & allowed everything to brown.

On the Plate ready to eat.

On the Plate ready to eat.

There it was (yum yum) my brunch today.
This is just my form of fusion food, when East meets West ~ Curried Beef Hash.

Crunchy Curry Leaf Peanuts

In trimming/pruning my Curry Leaf plants (Murraya Koenigii), I ended up with loads of leaves which I cleaned and dry-stirred in a wok… since I did not have a dehydrator. I also ended up making a  snack (which I’m sure others have already been making) which is simple and really yummy.

Harvested curry leaves

A loose handful of harvested, cleaned & dried curry leaves


curry powder

2 tablespoons of your favorite curry powder

gently stir fry on low heat in a wok or deep frying pan until fragrant, then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil slowly from around the side of the pan & continue stirring until very light golden brown.  Then add

1 package of salted peanuts

1 standard bottle of salted peanuts

and still with slow heat thoroughly mix everything in the pan until nuts and leaves are evenly coated with curry powder. Keep “stir-frying” for 6-7 mins then test a nut by biting. It should be very warm with a slight hint of soft texture and look like this …

Curried Crunchy Peanuts

Crunchy Curry Leaf Peanuts

Allow it to get to room temperature so it can re-attain its crunchiness.

Note: IF you are sensitive to salt &/or have to cut down/out, then used unsalted peanuts.


Bean sprouts with Rigatoni & Pak Choy

All noodles are pasta, but not all pastas are noodles.

Pasta is a Latin word which means Paste or Dough & thus ending up being an Italian form of “dough made of different grains into different shapes” cooked into an edible state & topped with sauce & whatever else.

In Mandarin, the word Dough is 面 团 (Mien Tuan) resulting in noodle dishes with names like Chow Mein & Lo Mein in the US … Mein being a distortion of Mien from dialect to dialect to English.

Being an Anglicized Asian ~ a Nonya whose parents were British English educated ~ but who is a die-hard Asian in customs and food cravings, I usually add bean sprouts to my pasta dishes i.e. both ‘Italian’ pasta & all Asian noodles, beehoon, kwayteow, udon, meepok, u-name-it… and ex-colleagues (co-workers) who got to taste some actually thought it was good & a good way to eat protein.

Rigatoni el dente

Rigatoni el dente

Just add the bean sprouts 1 minute before Rigatoni is done to your choice. Then drain in a colander, toss it back into the pan & stir mix all with pesto. Then pour your sauce over (as usual) & sprinkle with fresh chopped sweet basil and cheese.

Normal looking Rigatoni dish, right?

Normal looking Rigatoni dish, right?

Last night I made dinner using home grown tomatoes (preserved in freezer) and diced Pak-choy (白菜 meaning White Vegetable) or Bok Choy sauteed in olive oil with lots of diced garlic, laced with red wine.

In case you are interested in knowing how Chinese noodles were hand-made in the past watch this clip which was filmed in Singapore.
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