Sunday, February 22, 2015

Poached Salmon, Kale Latkes & Whipped Sun Dried Tomatoes Ricotta

It's a Saturday night and I'm having a quiet night in... A luxury I must admit I haven't had in a while and have thoroughly missed.

Today is the 3rd day of Chinese New Year and it seems like the festive mood is only just beginning. Today, I spent the whole day running errands as I will be cooking for all my relatives tomorrow night. Tomorrow will be a full day in the kitchen so I am making the most of this rest while I can. Cannot wait for the family to come over.

Anyway, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this previously but besides running this blog, I spent some time collaborating with David on a website he was starting, called Foodstarz ( This may sound very 21st century, but I actually met David through Instagram (@daves_kitchen), where we quickly became fan of each other's work. David is an amazing home cook from Cologne, Germany and his creations, food styling and photography never ceases to inspire me. Instead of starting a food blog, he wanted to begin a website where other homecooks and chefs are able to share their recipes too. The great thing is that anyone can apply to be a Foodstar (or contributor to the website)! The other intersting thing is that a majority of our members now are actually professional chefs and it's so good to be able to get access to their amazing recipes.

We spent a fair bit of time bouncing ideas back and forth to help get the website off the ground. That said, I must make it clear that this entire website is completely David's idea and he is the creator and driving force of it all. I was just there to assist him where I could. David was very mindful about maintaining the level of integrity and quality of the entire website. To do this, he introduced a panel of Jury which includes him, a chef from the US called Albert and myself, where we would review all Foodstarz applications. It's been a lot of fun and it just amazes me how 2 people who has never met, from completely different parts of the worlds and backgrounds, collaborate on such a fun project like this. David has since become quite a dear friend and I have nothing but the utmost respect for him.

Ever since the launch of about 6 months ago, I am so happy to see how well Foodstarz is doing right now... The amount of applications we receive and followers on the social media platform seems to be growing each day... All thanks to David's blood, sweat and tears to this project that he is ever so passionate about. The website is such a great resource for amazing food by homecooks like me or professional chefs from all around the world.

Oh, and this recipe here is adapted from one that David shared on the website a while ago and is also a snippet of the kind of food you'll find on the website. It's the kind of recipe that inspires people like me (who are always running out of fresh ideas) to cook something new in the kitchen now and then. It was actually the first time I've poached fish, made latkes or whipped ricotta but won't be my last! The final product is so delicious and I am so glad I made this dish. Do check out the website too, when you get the chance!

Poached Salmon, Kale Latkes & Whipped Sun Dried Tomatoes Ricotta

(adapted from this recipe from, serves 3 to 4)

Click here to print the recipe


Salmon* :
500g salmon 
2 cups white wine
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 stalk celery (diced)

*Note: Poached salmon may be substituted with smoked salmon

300g potato (grated and squeezed to remove excess liquid)
1 red onion (grated)
2 large red chillies (minced finely)
150g kale
3 eggs
1 tbsp corn flour
2 tbsp plain flour
Cracked salt and pepper
5 tbsp of oil

300g ricotta (low fat)
1/2 cup plain yoghurt (or more)
100g sun dried tomatoes (sliced thinly)
6 tbsp oil from sun dried tomatoes
1 tsp mixed dried herbs
Cracked salt to taste

Chopped chives (to garnish)
Lemon wedges (to serve)


1. For the poached salmon, place all the ingredients (except for the salmon) in a pot and boil for 15 minutes. Add the salmon to the pot and simmer for 7 minutes or until the meat breaks apart easily with a fork. Remove salmon from the pot and flake the flesh apart with a fork or your fingers. Set aside until ready for use.

2. For the kale latkes, mix all the ingredients in a large bowl (except for the oil). Heat up a pan and once hot, add in the oil followed by a scoop of the latkes mixture. Fry the latkes in batches until golden brown on both sides. Set aside.

3. For the whipped ricotta, whisk all the ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more yoghurt if prefer a thinner consistency.

4. To serve, stack the kale latkes on a plate and top with poached salmon and whipped ricotta. Garnish with chives and serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Stables of Como | Chimac | Hell of the North

1. The Stables of Como, South Yarra

One of the most stunning brunch venues I've ever seen...

Almost looks like a wedding venue eh?

Rumbled eggs with pancetta + truffle pecorino on griddled Dr Marty's crumpets -- $17

Chunky chips with aioli -- $5.50

Salmon + prawn fishcakes, tartare sauce, pickled onion + herb salad -- $21

Gorgeous day...

So, I want to start off by saying how beautiful Stables of Como is. As the name suggests, it was a former horse stable that has been transformed into a the Como region. For me, it wasn't the table setting or furniture or whatever that made this place beautiful, it was the location and surroundings... This cafe had a unique location because it was nested in the middle of a park (Como park, to be specific). Loved it. Oh, and the fact that the weather was incredible that day definitely helped.

As much as I enjoyed the setting and environment, I must be honest by saying that I wasn't necessarily won over by the food. The menu was a little uninspiring to me. Nothing particularly exciting to try. Overall, the execution of the dishes weren't bad, but it just tasted okay. Wouldn't say it's particularly better or more memorable than other scrambled eggs, fish cakes or chips that we've had at other cafes. Quite ordinary and forgettable food to me. Like I said, it wasn't bad. But it was just okay. 

That said, still very happy I got to try this place out otherwise I wouldn't have discovered such a stunning cafe. Even though the food wasn't my favourite, I would still recommend it to people who are looking for food in the area because maybe their experience might be better than mine. 

The Stables of Como on Urbanspoon

2. Chimac, West Melbourne

Spicy Pork Taco -- $15

Kimchi Quesadilla -- $15

Oozy gooey cheese goodness...

Retro Korean School Lunch -- $15
Seared spam rice bowl with stir fried kimchi, sunny up fried egg, fried shallots, mozzarella, garlic granule

Tofu on Kimchi Field -- $22
Tofu, cheese and caramelised kimchi

Bulgogi Burrito -- $15

Seafood Pancake -- $17
Prawns, squid, scallion

Chimac Chicken -- $32
Ultra Crispy & Wonder Soy

Chimac Chicken -- $32
Bloody Sweet & Wonder Soy

Kimchi Cheese Fries

Chimac!! Hands down one of my favourite discoveries of 2014. So much so that I've honestly mentioned this place to so many of my friends last year. It's great. What sets this place apart is that this is a Korean Mexican FUSION restaurant. It's not the only one in Melbourne but they do it here really, really well. I'll be honest, I was one of those people that have always been highly skeptical about fusion cuisines, especially when it's an Asian fusion food as it always quite horrible more often than not. I'm okay with modern asian food, but not asian fusion... Ugh.

That said, I am always more than happy to have my stubborn and narrow minded preconceived notions about food shaken proven wrong so I can learn to be open to more new experiences... Which was what this place did for me. I mean, Korean AND Mexican??? I can't think of 2 cuisines that can be any more different to one another... But it works. 

I loved everything about my meal the first time I was here so much that I found myself back there the following week. It didn't take too long before I was back there again several times after that. First, let's talk about this fusion thing. If you think about it, taco/burrito/quesadillas really are a great vessel for anything flavourful (like Kimchi or Korean Bulgogi meats) so there really is no reason why it has to stop at Mexican food. The other reason why this works is that both Mexican and Korean food uses a fair amount of melted cheese in their food, which makes the combination rather familiar and not too foreign at all. My favourite of the night was definitely the quesadilla. Baked till crisp with a gooey melted cheese layer against the bulgogi or kimchi filling. Absolutely SMASHING.

Besides that, the other highlights of my meal here was definitely the KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN (KFC) and Kimchi Cheese Fries. The chicken here is hands down my favourite one in Melbourne and trust me, I've had my fair share over the years. At the end of the day, it's not about finding out which KFC is the best, per se, as most places do it slightly differently so it's more about finding one that suits your liking the most. For me, the batter was a great balance of crisp and crunch (yes, there is a difference). It was thin and crisp but still had a bit of substance and crunch to back it up. Plus, the sauces were so delicious and not too overbearing. Finally, how incredibly juicy my chicken. Fantastic. As for the kimchi cheese fries, it was AWESOME. Bit of kimchi relish, mayo, coleslaw with a few jalapenos to finish. I would have these kimchi cheese fries over the standard American chilli cheese fries any day.

Overall, the food here is absolutely delicious. I'd definitely recommend the retro school lunch for any spam lovers out there. The kimchi and tofu is delicious because the other reason why I love the kimchi in Chimac (and you'll find that it's different to any other Korean restaurants) is that they fry and reduce their kimchi so that it caramelises, thickens and intensifies in flavour and fragrance. Beautiful. So, if you haven't been to Chimac yet I highly suggest you get your butt there soon. Who knows, I might even see you guys there since I'm always finding excuses to go there every opportunity I can.

Chimac on Urbanspoon

Chimac plus on Urbanspoon

3. Hell of the North, Fitzroy

Pulled Pork & Gruyere Doughnut -- $7 each

Crispy Prawn Fritters, Tamarind Sauce -- $7 each

Mussels, Sauce Mouclade, Jamon -- $22

Spring Lamb, Sauce Bagna Cauda -- $32

Gratin Dauphinois -- $8

Free Range Pig, Sauce a la Diable -- $32

Braised Red Cabbage, Manchego -- $8

Grass Fed Beef, Marrow Butter, Sauce -- $32

I got a random text one day from a former coursemate from my Masters degree who had moved back to Indonesia that he happened to be in town for a few days for an impromptu trip. Soon after, we found ourself here for a catchup dinner with another friend. I first heard about this place from my friend Morgan who had first introduced me to LBSS Cafe and also Chimac (yep!) so I definitely trusted his recommendations. 

I had a bit of trouble finding the place as it was along an alley and there wasn't any clear signage of the place but I soon realised that it was behind this bright but mysterious looking yellow door. Do look out for this door if you're having trouble finding the place too. So, in I go and low and behold, this place which looked rather unassuming from the outside, was bustling with people inside. And on a weeknight too, if I may add. I've been to Smith St a bazillion times over the years but how have I not noticed this place before until now.

Anyway, cocktails were had as soon as we sat down, which tasted delicious. We started off our meal with the doughnuts which were really tasty. Next, the prawns... OMG THE PRAWNS. They were amazing!! Our eyes lit wide open as soon as we took the first bite. So big in size and can only imagine how much bigger they must've been before they were cooked. Perfectly cooked with a nice crunchy texture. Flavour of the basil leaf with the sweet but dark tamarind sauce was a match made in heaven. Not sure how French it is to use tamarind but who cares. It was so damn delicious. 

Initially, the 3 of us shared 1 prawn amongst ourselves (oh, the naivety) but as soon as we finished it, we IMMEDIATELY flagged the closest wait staff we could find and ordered 3 more. Had to be done because we knew deep down that if we didn't order another serve of prawns to ourselves and it didn't matter if the meal turned out to be great or not, we knew that we would still be thinking about that damn prawn if we didn't. We were telling the manager how damn good the prawns were when he walked past and his response was, "Well, we'd better make sure we give people bloody good prawns if we were charing them $7 each". What!!! Our jaws almost hit the ground after we heard that as we had no idea that it actually costed that much. That said, it was all good as we had a huge laugh about the whole thing because I kid you not, it was worth every cent to us and I would recommend people try it too. I may have set a mountainous expectation of the prawns here after this post but that's just how we felt.

ANYHOO, besides the prawns, the mussels were really good too. Plump and juicy, set in a creamy and delectable sauce. The jamon added the perfect saltiness to the dish too. Moving on, we had the pork, beef and lamb (basically every meat main they had on the menu). Each of these meat dishes came with a grilled component and a braised one (good concept, I thought). I enjoyed the grilled lamb the most (especially with that thin layer of skin on top yum) but did find the grilled beef and pork to be a bit tough. The braised meats were cooked very well but was definitely on the salty side. We did mention this to the waiter who did say that yes, that particular chef did have a tendency of being slightly heavy handed with the salt. Lucky we had the sour coleslaw and cheesy gratin to offset the saltiness.

Overall, I still really enjoyed my meal here at Hell of the North despite the meat mains. I think there's a lot of things to like from their menu and would definitely come back for the tasty cocktails, entrees and not to forget... The PRAWNS!! The place is quite the gem and I would recommend it to people because of the great environment and also for the fact that it's European food with a twist -- something different.

Hell of the North on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Asparagus, Pea & Mint Fettuccine with Smoked Trout


Remember me?

I know it's a bit late for me to say, but Happy 2015 to you all! I must start off with the predictable (but sincere) apology for the lack of activity on this site. I've had a great Christmas back in Malaysia with the family followed by the most amazing trip to Japan and Hong Kong with my Mum & Sister after that. It was a great time away and something that really rejuvenated me mentally after another year of work. Besides that, it really made me appreciate my family even more than I already do. There honestly is nothing that makes me happier than spending time with them.

I may have been quiet here but my Instagram page is quite active and something I update very often. I think social media is a great tool for me to celebrate the happy things in life (which doesn't always involve Food too believe it or not) so I try to share something almost every day. Do connect with me there as well if you are on Instagram: @winceeee

Anyway, this recipe is actually one from the archives and something I made about this time last year but never got around to posting. I first saw it on TV when I was flipping through channels one day and I was a little bit intrigued by the flavours and ingredients (there was lots of milk and vegetables). Though to be frank, I really wanted to make it because I feel like I haven't used my stick blender for a while.

Side note: Stick blenders are very cheap to buy these days and can cost as little as $20 so would definitely recommend getting one. Very handy to use in the kitchen.

I must say that it didn't taste like what I would expect it to from how it looks. It was actually very light despite the thick creamy looking sauce, and that's because it's made with milk and flour instead of cream. The sauce had a good body from the blend of abundance veg but the mint is so cleverly disguised that it is quite unexpected but very fittingly lifts and refreshes the entire dish. I liked it a lot. Now, the flakes of hot smoked trout is optional if you want to make this dish vegetarian but complementary to the flavours.

Overall, very light and refreshing flavours. Definitely a very spring and summer kind of pasta to eat. Or when you feel like you haven't had an adequate dose of vegetable intake. Am trying to get back into the swing of blogging again so hope to see you guys very soon! Can't wait to blog about my Japan trip =)


Asparagus, Pea & Mint Fettuccine with Smoked Trout

(taken from Jamie's 15 Minute Meals, serves 3 to 4)


300g dried fettuccine
1 bunch spring onions
1 bunch asparagus (approx. 300g)
1 big bunch of fresh mint
Olive oil
300g frozen peas
1 tbsp plain flour
500ml milk
250g hot smoked trout
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese (to serve)


1. Place a pot of water on the boil and cook fettuccine as per packet instructions. Drain the pasta but reserve about half a cup of pasta liquid. Set aside.

2. While the pasta is cooking, trim off the edge of spring onion and roughly slice it. Roughly slice the asparagus and leave the tips whole. Set aside the asparagus tips. Roughly slice the mint.

3. Heat up a small pot with olive oil and add the sliced spring onions, asparagus and mint. Stir for about 1 minute. 

4. Add in the flour and stir. Pour in the milk and bring the pot to a boil, then simmer on low. Take a stick blender and puree the sauce until smooth.

5. Turn the heat for the sauce down to low and simmer. Flake in the trout and add the asparagus tips to the pot. Allow to simmer for few more minutes.

6. Add the cooked pasta and pasta water to the pot. Stir and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with a grating of parmesan cheese.