Monday, June 27, 2011

Updated Corn Fritters, Crispier and Better

Is there any food that you loathe as a child, but grow to love? I have a lot. One of them is corn fritter. Growing up, corn fritter made by my mom's helper wasn't the best. While she is a great cook (she's still working for my mom until today, that makes it 16 years!), her corn fritter is always soggy, oily and whenever you eat them, it leaves this unpleasant oily film inside your mouth. Being the most loyal member of clean-your-plate club, it always perturbed when I had to leave this lumpy disk of doughy corn on my plate.

A decade later, I'm so far away from home. Yet, I crave the food that I used to hate. Sometimes, the homesickness is so strong, I even miss food that I've never had. Last year, the corn fritter came to me in my dream. No, I'm not being funny, it sure did. After calling my mom for the recipe, she just told me the ingredients, with no details of the measurement at all. So there I was in the kitchen, guessing how much each ingredient I need to make this corn fritter. The first try came out too familiar, soggy and oily. So I decide to put more corn in the mixture. While most people looooove the doughy fritter, I adore crispy fritter. And the fact that I cheated and used frozen corn paid off. The corn kernels stay crunchy, while the fresh corn kernels turn mushy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Simple Sambal, but It Will Burn Your Mouth

My love of spicy food can be dated back to when I was a 2-yr-old. I'm not talking about Sriracha-spicy. I'm talking about real, fiery, burn-your-mouth kind of spicy. My mom used to joke, it's because I'm a tiger, to maintain my fierceness, I have to consume copious amount of spicy chilies. She also said that is why I'm so impatient, bold, crude and barbaric yet ambitious. And she thinks all that qualities, if I polish myself quite nicely, it will actually help me to get further in life (yeah, hopefully..)

My son also loves spicy food. He can handle his chilies better than most adults I know. We make sambal once a month, and it'll last us exactly that long. While he likes sambal oelek, nothing compares to the homemade one. We can tinker with it, make it as spicy as we like. I don't know how he gets this way. All I remember was he wanted to try some sambal when he was 1.5 years old. Let him try a dab, since then, he's hooked. Of course I make sure to throw away the chili seeds. That's the culprit to the burning sensation in your mouth. After awhile, no-seeds sambal is too weak for him. So I leave just enough seeds in our sambal.

Sambal to us is like pesto to most people. You can slather it on any protein you have. Or slow cooked eggplants in it. We do lots of things with it. Very versatile. Sometimes I just want to bathe in it (uh, not a good idea, of course, it will sting you like no other!) The neat thing about homemade sambal is, you can control the heat.

It makes me miss home, where you can just fold your legs up, with a plate of hot steaming rice in front of you. At this point, who needs eating utensils? As barbaric as it sounds, it does taste better that way. You can feel each grain of rice between your fingertips. The burning sensation of the chili seeds against your skin. You're using all five senses to eat. Just don't rub your eyes.......

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Crispy Chow Mian, a Feel-Good Dinner

At times when we don't know what to cook for dinner, we always settle for the easiest dish. The one that everyone enjoys. While it's not always healthy, it's homecooked. We rarely eat out, only occasionally when there's the urge to splurge. I always feel so accomplished whenever I successfully cook dinner using only leftover ingredients. 1/4 of the chicken breast, half of the capsicum. While it is perhaps just me, I do feel like I'm some frugal goddess when that happens.

Tired of fried rice, the ultimate vessel to use up leftover ingredients, crispy chow mein or chow mian (I prefer to call it the latter) is also a good way to channel my inner frugal goddess. Of course, the name of my blog gives it away, we eat it with rice. It's the Chinese in us, without rice, it somehow doesn't feel like a meal. We treat the crispy chow mian not as our main carb. It's more like an extra crunch to complement the vegetables & meat.

I rarely cook with a real recipe, unless it's a new dish that I've never cooked before. This one is pretty easy. It all depends on what you have in your refrigerator. I use leftover roasted chicken from the day before, half capsicum, some mushrooms, green onions and peanuts. The noodles was boiled and deep fried until crisp, it was crunchy, but soft where the sauce from the stir fry soaked into the noodles.

The seasonings are mostly a dash of this and a pinch of that. But sweet soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper are strongly recommended. Sometimes when I feel cheeky, I also use spicy bean paste to season the stir fry. Fast and easy dinner.

I bet it's good to cure hangover too, yes?