Category Archives: Food

Food ! Recipes; cooking tips; restaurants; in-the-mood-for-; general yummy food-ness

Bo Luc Lac – Vietnamese Sizzling Beef Salad

This is a fantastic recipe for summer!  Quick, easy, can be prepared outdoors on the barbie and plated at the table.  It’s so fresh and inviting, with a divine dressing that jazzes up the most dour of taste buds.  For a more substantial meal you could serve this over cooked rice noodles, or have a crusty baguette on the side to mop up the juices, but personally I find the salad to be very satisfying and just perfect as is.  The dressing is very versatile and just plain addictive.   The same salad and dressing would go well with char-grilled scallops or salmon fillet too.

So – Bo Luc Lac or Vietnamese “Shaking” or Sizzling Beef Salad is a classic made with a minimum of fuss.  It comprises cubes of stir fried steak, a simple but exciting salad mix, and that gorgeous dressing that can be modified to suit your taste buds.  It’s also incredibly healthy with very little oil / fat content and plenty of greens and vegetables. 

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Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice is one of my absolute favourite foods. I was first introduced to it whilst on holiday in Kuala Lumpur when I was sixteen [staying with a school friend who boarded in Perth] and oh my goodness did I have a good time there.  I, who had always been the pickiest eater known to mankind, who was pathetically skinny and sick and looked about eight years old, ate everything in sight and put on about five kilos in as many weeks.  [maybe this should have been a slight hint, just maybe, that I was gluten-intolerant, that I was well when eating all that rice? Duuuuuh.]  Finding a good HCR in Perth is just about impossible so the only solution when I get that craving is to make it myself. 

HCR is a classic Singaporean dish – it’s comfort food and everyone loves it; it is said the best way to start an argument amongst Singaporeans is to ask where to find the best HCR.  It’s really very basic; steamed chicken, accompanied by rice cooked in ginger-infused chicken stock, a couple of dipping sauces [traditionally a soy-ginger sauce, and a sweet chilli sauce], and a bowl of broth.  Generally the chicken is neatly sliced and arranged over sliced cucumber on a central platter with each diner having their own bowl of chicken-y rice and broth.  Add little sauce dishes around the central platter and everyone digs in. 

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It’s strange; when we moved into our new place I figured I’d be living in the kitchen, cooking up huge interesting meals.  What with the great high-powered gas cook-top [with wok burner wahey], plenty of useable bench space for prep work and actual room to move – even enough room for two people to move without gaining intimate carnal knowledge of one another whether wanted to or not – I was sure I’d be all over it.

Then during April–May I had that weird phase of total lack of interest in food, and lack of appetite.  This is actually quite rare for me, as even when I’m so ill and drugged up I can’t see straight let alone not be a hazard around aforementioned high-powered gas cook top, I still have an interest in food and will read my favourite cookbooks like novels, drooling away and writing up endless lists of must-try recipes and menus.

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Fried Rice II

Whilst I have previously posted a generalised recipe for Combination Fried Rice, I am forced to admit that I have never, ever been one hundred percent – or even eighty five percent – satisfied with my fried rice.  Oh it tasted yummy enough but it was inclined to be sort of mooshy, and didn’t have the interesting balance of flavours that I’ve found in really great restaurant fried rice.

Some of my lack in the fried rice department was put down to my zero MSG tolerance policy; but I was pretty sure I was missing something, all the same.  Then the clouds opened, and heavenly golden light poured into my grey mooshy fried rice world, because lo! I discovered Jaden of Steamy Kitchen.  Quite how and why I hadn’t found her before is beyond me; all the food blogs I read and I missed this truly amazing one?

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Fried Rice II [Recipe]

As discussed in the above post, here’s my take on The Great Fried Rice, using key principles from Jaden of Steamy Kitchen.

I’m a convert to her key principles – cold cooked rice; fish sauce; lap cheong / char siew.  I’ve then done my own thing to a certain extent – I mean, fried rice is still fried rice.  Unless you’re on Top Chef or something equally m,ad and pretentious, the most pleasurable thing about the dish is it’s simplicity and tastiness.

In this house we like to add shredded cooked chicken, vegetables, sometimes even small prawns if we’re feeling extravagant, and shredded egg omelette.  We also like it spicy, so lots of chilli and ginger, or the use of one of my chilli pastes, as well as sloshes of rice wine and just a bit of soy sauce.  Oh and we’re garlic freaks too …

My humble apologies for the lack of times [stir fry 2 minutes, et al]; I’m more of an intuitive cook and go by taste and smell for how much longer something needs to be cooked at what temperature adjustment.  Also this dish is – like other stir-fry dishes, noodles, etc – a continuous process of adding, stirring, combining.  Trust the nose and taste buds – and tummy rumbling and drooling. 

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Char Siew [Chinese BBQ Pork]

Char siew aka cha siu aka xa xiu [in Vietnam] is a truly wonderful creation.  A cut of pork, preferably belly pork but you can also use shoulder or fillet, is marinaded in brown sugar, rice wine, five spice powder and other condiments / flavourings then roasted until done, with a slightly charred, caramelised crust and deliciously tender, melting meat and fat within.

The wonder of char siew is that as well as being utterly delicious – addictive even – is it’s versatility.  It can be used in fried rice and noodle dishes, over rice cooked in stock a la Hainanese Chicken Rice with sauce dishes of sweet chilli sauce and soy-ginger, in rice paper wraps with salad and herbs, and of course on it’s own as a snack or additional dish in a larger multi-course meal.

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Gluten-free days

No matter how picky I try to be, my bookmarks list in IE frequently gets a bit out of control and I have to go through and do a bit of a cull of sites and blogs I no longer visit, for whatever reason.  If I get fed up with a blog or site, no matter how famous, my response is to – get this – stop reading.  Given the amount of hate mail famous bloggers receive along the lines of “I used to like you but since you [insert life-changing event] your site SUCKS”, my response is quite unusual, even if I tend to agree. [I’m naming no names … ]

The links I give on my blog are my ultimate preciousesssss and while I may not stop by one or two as frequently as I used to I always return to their safe and beloved pages [I mean, url’s].   One site I hadn’t visited for a while is Gluten Free Girl, who I’ve enjoyed since her beginnings [who could forget her red wedding cowboy boots?]; it was so good to check back and see what she was up to – a book out, and a baby on the way, no less.

Not to mention G-Free Girl’s food is downright yummy [there’s a recipe there for G-Free Irish Soda Bread which I have to make for my own gorgeous Irishman].  It got me thinking though, that I rarely post about being gluten free and Coeliac Disease.  EDS and my sundry aches, pains and grizzles get the air-time, which isn’t fair; not to mention there’s way more people who can relate to Coeliac and it’s distressing consequences than can to my other, more rare, auto-immune whatsit.

I’m going to put up an “About Coeliac Disease” page but I hope to post a bit more than I have been, about going gluten-free and the life changes, gluten-free food and recipes. Continue reading

Sausage and Vegetable Frittata

This is a great recipe either to use leftovers or start from scratch and produce whatever you want for either a hearty dinner for two [there will still be leftovers!] or light lunch with salad.  It is delicious cold the next day.  You could easily make this totally vegetarian; the addition of mushrooms is particularly good; or make with just one or two main ingredients [eg zucchini and red capsicum].  Continue reading

Hu Tieu Bo Vien [Vietnamese Meatball Noodle Soup]

This is a delicious meal in a bowl noodle soup – like Bun Rieu et al it’s one of the group I call “Mesocosm Soups” as there’s a whole world in the bowl;  noodles, meats or seafood, vegetables, herbs, spices.  Incredibly yummy and rich with different layers of textures and flavours.  Pretty healthy too! Continue reading

Salmon Goi Cuon [Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls with Salmon]

Goi Cuon are Vietnamese rice paper rolls filled with poached pork and prawns, sundry herbs and other grated or shredded vegetables, and [precooked] rice vermicelli noodles.  The Vietnamese dipping sauce, nuoc cham, is served with these and many other street and market foods. In this variation I substituted the pork and prawns for salmon fillet, sautéed in a teriyaki/caramel type sauce then flaked. Continue reading