Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tempura Soft Shell Crab Recipe

I've wanted to make Tempura Soft Shell Crabs for the longest time, no kidding. It honestly is one of my favourite things to eat. I mean, who doesn't like soft shell crabs...???

Ever since I realised that almost every fish monger at Victoria Market sells them (you'll see it at the freezers behind them) and at such a reasonable price too, I knew I had to make them. Typically, they are sold at about $20/kg and each box works out to be approx. 1kg (or a dozen crabs).

I was hosting a Japanese themed potluck at my place over the weekend and I knew it would be the perfect occasion to try.

Even though it was my first time cleaning a crab and making tempura for that matter, these babies turned out AMAZING! They were perfectly crispy, with a moist, delicate flesh and even had bits of crab roe inside which gave extra flavour. Just like the restaurants, if not better (cause they're fresh), seriously...

Plus, you really cannot help but get so excited at the sight of a whole TRAY of soft shell crabs in front of you. Each person gets their own crab, what a treat. Not to mention the CRUNCH you hear from everyone at the table taking their first bite into the crab.... Heaven

My only advice for people cooking this for the first time is to be extra gentle when preparing the crabs. After they're thawed, they become extremely delicate and the legs may break off easily. Besides that, it actually is quite a simple process, which I learned all on Youtube (lol).

Also, I'll share with you how you can make this much earlier in the day (so that you have more time to do other stuff before guests arrive) and reheat them well so they are still super crisp, as if they were fresh out of the fryer.

Anyway, I hope you give this recipe a go. It gets people excited when you say that you're cooking soft shell crabs for them. Tastes bloody delicious too. Definitely a crowd pleaser.


Tempura Soft Shell Crab Recipe
(serves 10 - 12, adapted from this recipe by SBS Food)


12 soft shell crabs *
1 1/2 cup tempura flour
300ml chilled soda water
1 lime (juiced)
1 egg
1 cup ice cubes
3/4 cup plain flour
Oil for frying

*Note: Can get them frozen from Victoria Market. Otherwise, ask your local fish monger.


1. If using frozen, thaw the crabs by removing from the fridge several hours before cooking. 

2. To prepare the crabs, use a pair of kitchen scissor to cut the face off behind the eyes. Then, peel off the flap or "apron" of the crab. Lift the sides of the crab shell and remove the gills. Handle the crabs delicately. 

3. Pat the crabs dry with a paper towel and set aside until ready for use. To prepare the batter, whisk the tempura flour with the soda water, lime juice and egg until well combined. Stir in the cup of ice. 

4. Heat up enough oil in a pot or pan until it is deep enough for frying.

5. Coat the crab thoroughly with plain flour and dip them in the batter. Once oil is hot enough, fry the crabs in batches until crab turns red and batter is golden in colour (slightly under 2 min per side).

Tip: Drizzle more tempura batter on top of the crab with a fork before you flip them over to add extra CRUNCH

6. Remove to cool on a wire rack. Serve hot.

Tip: If cooking few hours ahead, leave the crab on a wire rack on a benchtop to cool. An hour before eating, place the rack of crabs in an oven at 60°C to keep warm. Just before serving, increase the heat to 180°C for 10 minutes before taking it out of the oven. This will make sure your crabs still remain crunchy and fresh. 

A gorgeous sight

Unbelievably tasty and crunchy

Sunday, August 18, 2013

GIVEAWAY: Meld Magazine's Little Orange Book of BIG Discounts

If you've followed me on my Instagram (@winceeee), you might've seen me post some photos with the hashtag: #littleorangebook the past few weeks. It's basically to show how I've taken/used Meld Magazine's Little Orange Book of BIG Discounts around Melbourne.

It's essentially a book of Discount vouchers with over $1,000 of offers at various establishments around Melbourne. This voucher is put together by a Non-for-Profit online magazine called Meld Magazine, which you can buy from their website for only $25: here

#littleorangebook at Cacao Green 
(Instagram: @winceeee)

I was given one copy of this book to use and another copy to giveaway by Karen, the founder of Meld Magazine. What I not only like, but respect, about Meld Magazine's work is that they are centred around helping international students settle into life in Australia by presenting various topics from lifestyle, to politics and just general advice articles to help them find their way. Having been an international student myself for 5 out of my 5 1/2 years in Melbourne, this is a cause that I can really identify with and am happy to support. Besides that, they are also a great platform for media and journalism students to obtain practical work experience through their magazine.

Best thing about this is seeing all these businesses supporting the international student community as well by being generous enough to sponsor and participate in the Little Orange Book of BIG Discounts.

Read more about Meld Magazine from their website: here

#littleorangebook at Cacao Green 
(Instagram: @winceeee)

Flipping through the book I found that there were a lot of vouchers in there that really caught my attention. I definitely will be use it to have a meal at Pepper Lunch, maybe followed by a froyo snack at Cacao Green and if I'm feeling cheeky, a bag of awesome fries from Snag Stand. Otherwise, I could always date my friends out for dinner at Izakaya Chuji before an intense Karaoke sesh at K-Box. Too good.

#littleorangebook at Hometown Asian Grocery 
(Instagram: @winceeee)

• Ajisen Ramen • Chatime • Pepper Lunch • Central Grocery • Mad Mex •• Nando’s • Krispy Kreme • Dangerfield • KBox • IKEA •• Bao Now • Coconut House • Izakaya Chuji • Momo Sushi • Mercadante •• Hometown Asian Supermarket • Plantation Specialty Coffee • Snag Stand •• porgie + Mr Jones • Cacao Green • Ganache Chocolate •• Extragreen Holidays • Picket •
& many more!

SO, winning a copy of this discount book is very easy. All you have to do is answer the question below: 

"Where is your favourite place to take friends or family visiting Melbourne for the first time?"

Simply leave a comment with your response below and the most interesting answer will win a copy of Meld Magazine's Little Orange Book of BIG Discounts! Competition ends at 10pm on 31st August 2013 and valid to Australian residents only.

Good luck!

Monday, August 12, 2013

American BBQ Ribs and Marinated Coleslaw Recipe

Made these for ma homies Adrian and Ash at our last #TTVN!!!

American diner eating is a cuisine that has unmistakably taken over the Melbourne food scene. So, I thought it was time I made some American BBQ ribs at home too with this recipe that was recommended by my Sister. Although, my dream really is to experience a full on "Suthern" BBQ in the heart of Texas one day.

I enjoyed these ribs because of all the herbs used in the dry rub paired with the dark, oaky flavour from the ale. Not to mention the hit of chipotle to bring it more to life. It's a recipe that I've cooked 3 times in the past 6 months for different friends. Ribs is just one of those things that people don't cook enough of, which makes it even more fun to share with people.

The original recipe suggests that we make our own BBQ sauce from scratch, which I've tried. Even though I followed the recipe to the tee, I wasn't a fan of the final product. It was way too much ingredients to buy, effort to make and no matter how much I tried to reduce it, I still found it to be too watery (hard to glaze the meat properly). There's so many great BBQ sauces (and better than the one I made from scratch) you can buy off the shelf these days too, so why bother IMHO.

There's 2 places that I've bought my Chipotle from in the past: 
1) Toscano's in Victoria Gardens (these had the whole peppers inside)
2) South Melbourne Market (in one of the deli sections near the Northern end of the market)

Was also hooked from the very first time my Sister made this Marinated Coleslaw for me. Goes so well when you're eating it with very meaty dishes like these BBQ ribs. Or, like the photo below when I made roast pork and crackling for friends on a separate occasion. YUM!

Anyway, hope you enjoy this recipe and the rest of your week. Ciao!

Photo taken from my Instagram (@winceeee)

American BBQ Ribs Recipe
(adapted from this recipe by SBS Food)


For the sauce:
3/4 cup of good quality BBQ sauce *
1/4 cup chipotle sauce (or to taste)
3 tbsp honey or molasses

* I like the Masterfood Smokey BBQ Sauce

For the ribs:
2 tbsp smoky paprika
2 tbsp table salt
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp dried mixed herbs
2 to 3 racks of American style pork ribs (or baby back ribs)
1 to 2 bottles of dark ale beer


1. Mix the BBQ and Chipotle Sauce in a bowl. Taste and set aside.

2. Mix the paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper and mixed herbs in a bowl. 

3. Rub about 3 tbsp of the dry spice mixture into each ribs until coated thoroughly on both sides. Store the remaining in a jar/ziplock bag for next time. 

4. Place the ribs on a large tray and pour the beer over it until it just covers the ribs. Marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

5. Preheat oven to 160°C. Drain the beer from the tray. Place each rib on a large piece of aluminium foil. Place another piece of foil over it and crimp the edges so it's air tight. Do this for all the ribs.

6. Bake in oven for 2 hours. Remove ribs from foil and place them on the baking tray. Baste the top of the ribs generously with the BBQ sauce mixture. 

7. Crank the heat to 230 deg C (or use the grill setting on oven) and bake for 8 minutes. Turn over, baste again, bake for another 8 minutes on other side. Finally, turn one last time, baste, bake for another 5 to 7 minutes or until it start to char slightly. 

Alternatively, you can do the same steps on a BBQ Grill instead of an oven. Even tastier!

2 full racks for 4 ppl... FUN!!

Marinated Coleslaw Recipe
(adapted from this recipe by SBS Food)


1/4 head of white cabbage (cored and thinly sliced)
1/4 head of red/purple cabbage (cored and thinly sliced)
1 large onion (thinly sliced)
1 can corn kernels (drained)
1 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 olive oil
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp mustard powder
1/2 cup chicken stock


1. Place the sliced cabbage, onion and corn kernels in a large bowl. Set aside.

2. In a saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients and bring to boil.

3. Pour the hot liquid into the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and marinate for 8 hours or overnight. Try and stir the mixture every 2 hours if possible.

4. Toss before serving. Coleslaw can be made few days in advance until ready for use and stored in fridge for up to a week. 

Love the bright colours. Such a great accompaniment to meat dishes too!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bangkok Terrace, Hawthorn East

A much cleaner and modern interior than expected... LIKE

Nice open kitchen set on a higher floor level...

Crispy Prawns with Green Rice Flakes (6 pieces) -- $18.00
Deep fried prawns coated with rice flakes served with sweet chilli sauce

These were a great starter! Love the look of them. Crispy and addictive...

Tom Yum Prawn
Traditional Thai soup of king prawns flavoured with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and chilli paste

The Tom Yum here was awesome! Clean yet full body flavour with strong aroma of lemongrass, felt really fresh. Definitely one of the better ones in town (if not best).

Panang Curry with Duck -- $19.90
Homemade panang curry cooked with chicken, beef or duck, mixed vegetables topped with crushed peanuts and sweet basil

Another ripper of a dish. The duck itself was roasted so perfectly it was just as prominent as the sauce which was thick and flavourful. Sweet, salty, creamy, it was great.

Steak Laos (Wagyu Beef) -- $19.00
Grilled marinated beef and mixed salad on side served with "nam jim hew", unique Thai traditional sauce made of roasted rice, sweet, spicy and sour

AWESOME. Each slice of beef was juicy and tender as tender gets. Really enjoyed the sauce as well. Hey, you know this place is great value when you get a pile of wagyu for under $20.

Pad Cha Crispy Rainbow Trout -- $24.90
Whole deep fried rainbow trout fish topped with chilli and home made spicy sauce, green peppercorn, kra chai, lime leaves

Spicier than we thought, but in a good way. I wasn't sure how I'd feel to have a rainbow trout deep fried whole and used in a Thai dish, but this was good. Flesh was still delicate and I enjoyed eating the fish head and sucking the crisped flesh off the bones.

BBQ Char Grill Lamb Cutlet -- $24.90
Marinated grilled lamb cutlet with special Thai herbs sided with homemade mixed vegetables stir fried with garlic sauce

One of the highlights of my evening (even though every dish was really good). Incredibly flavourful and juicy cut of lamb, with great char on the outside. So delicious!

Dessert Special: Pumpkin Cheesecake -- $10.90
Homemade pumpkin cheesecake served with green tea ice cream

Not the best cheesecake base but flavours are there and still a good dessert overall


Must say that I was thoroughly impressed with my experience at Bangkok Terrace overall. It was recommended to me by a Thai person quite unexpectedly. Curious by this recommendation, I ventured out there with 5 of my other eating buddies last Saturday to try it out.

First, the ambience was much more sophisticated, yet cool and casual than we expected. We were expecting a Victoria St/iSpicy-esque establishment but this reminded us more of Red Spice Road/Chin Chin than anything else. It was buzzing and food at every table looked amazing. Completely packed out even though it was sort of in the middle of nowhere... How have we not heard of this place before until now?!

The food was brought out one dish at a time, and we enjoyed every single one. Flavours and execution (even presentation) was top notch. Was it slightly Westernised? Yes. Was it the most authentic Thai food in Australia? No. But who cares? In a lot of ways, the flavours and methods were still very true. Also, it was incredibly delicious food in a great setting and prices were really, really reasonable! The 6 of us ate till we were so full for only $30 per person. It's not a lot when you're getting quality AND quantity, IMHO.

It's been awhile since we've seen a good Thai restaurant in Melbourne so I'm very glad to have come across this place and able to share it with all of you today. I do hope you give this place a go because I sure as hell am going to come back again. A great place I would love to bring my family and visitors to eat any day. 

Bangkok Terrace on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Brunching in North Melbourne

1. Auction Rooms

Fried Duck Eggs with Morcilla & Smoked Bone Marrow

Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Roasted Garlic, Smashed Peas and Mint

Brought my parents to Auction Rooms on one of their visits to Melbourne. We ordered these two dishes because they really jumped out of the menu to us. As much as I'd like to say that we enjoyed it, we really didn't... Surprisingly enough (given the rave reviews from every one else about the place). Overall, both dishes severely lacked flavour. 

The morcilla was meant to give the punch to the dish but was completely bland. I love eating blood sausage for the bold flavours and the one here was missing that completely. The whole dish lacked sauce and taste to bind it all together. There was nothing much I could enjoy with the toast. Lamb was tender, yes. But completely lacked excitement. The sauce wasn't enough to lift the dish and it's unfortunate when smashed peas excited your palette even more than tender lamb shoulder. 

What a disappointing experience at one of Melbourne's most "famous" cafes. It may be a once off experience but with that sort of queue I'm not interested in coming back to give it another go anyway. There's other places just a skip and hop away that I'd happily revisit any day, as you'll see.

Auction Rooms on Urbanspoon

2. Twenty & Six Espresso


Soy Piccolo

The Cassoulet - $17.90
Duck fat baked haricot beans with pancetta, pork & fennel sausage, sourdough and a garden herb crust.


The Kahvalti - $10.50
Toasted muesli with poached fruits and yoghurt

Finally caught up with Mich, a former food blogger, for the first time here late last year. The cafe is small but comfortable. White walls and plenty of light shining in with a few quirky little items to give the cafe a little more character. I loved it.

I love a good Cassoulet and the one I ordered was seriously DELICIOUS, I couldn't get enough of it. It was piping hot and full of flavour from the duck fats. The sausage was tender and delicious against the beans which had soaked up the flavours of the sauce with the fragrance of the thyme. Topped that with a perfectly crunchy crust, I was in heaven. It was seriously my kind of dish, I didn't want it to end. Flavour, texture, it has it all. No need for the poached egg on top, else it might be too rich.

Mich's muesli was a standout as well, with all the flavours marrying beautifully together. Nice and crunchy too. Again, flavour and texture, it has it all. 

Good coffee, great food and cosy ambience, I must say I really enjoyed my experience at Twenty and Six, definitely can't wait to come back again. I'm a fan.

Twenty & Six Espresso on Urbanspoon

3. Fandango 

Poached Eggs, Avocado and Bacon on Toasted Sourdough - $15.00

Poached Eggs, Bacon and Pesto on Toasted Sourdough -- $15.00

Pesto Scrambled Eggs - $16.00
Soft scrambled eggs flavoured with flecks of basil, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan. Served with grilled tomato and toasted sourdough

Caught up with my two good friends Kel and Aaron one Sunday morning at Fandango. With so many Melbourne cafes taking a much more creative (and hence, complicated) twist to their menus these days, sometimes you just crave a simple eggs breakfast, y'know? Good, old fashioned eggs brekkie at your local neighbourhood cafe. Ant this is exactly why we chose to eat at Fandango that morning.

The boys ordered poached eggs with a side of their favourite items. As for me, I opted for the pesto scrambled eggs (as I had recently made pesto at home and was on a pesto high). It was fantastic. Absolutely spot on. The ribbons of deliciously silky and creamy eggs against the hint of pesto was serious perfection. The flavour and crunch of the sourdough was unmistakeable too. I was very, very glad we came here for brekkie as each of us seriously enjoyed our food. 

It was fuss free and reminded you of the simpler times. It was worlds apart from Auction Rooms even though it was literally 2 doors down from this place. Fandango is a much older, classic, traditional and thus, simple establishment compared to most cafes in Melbourne these days. Despite the perpetual change in food trends in the brekkie/brunch scene, Fandango hasn't changed one bit and I love that about them.

Auction Rooms, Twenty & Six Espresso and Fandango are honestly just down the road or round the corner from one another. Each with a very distinct personality and I would happily dine at the latter two any day. 

Fandango on Urbanspoon