Eating at home – September 2008

Thanks and apologies to those who’ve been checking in for updates. I know it’s been quiet around here. Been battling a pesky flu bug, the kind that lingers and just when you think it’s gone, it’s back again.

Hence, not much eating out. Eating home was uninspiring too. Nothing too oily, too spicy, too heaty, or too sweet. Work-wise, September was a busy month, so nothing too tedious to prepare or clean up.

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Teochew-style steamed pomfret.

Being a Teochew, steaming is my favorite way to enjoy a sweet, delicate fish like pomfret. It’s fast, it’s healthy, and preparation and clean-up’s a breeze. For steaming, using fresh, non-frozen seafood gives optimum results, so if I happen to go to the market, you can be sure there’ll be steamed fish for dinner that day.

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Stewed roast pork.

Love soy sauce pork belly but don’t have time to prepare it? To make it from scratch, it takes me at least an hour to prepare and braise the pork. So, when I’m pressed for time, I cheat by using roast pork!

The meat’s already cooked, so all I do is just cut it up, stir-fry briefly with some garlic, add water, sugar, and a little dark soy sauce for color, and let it simmer for about 5 minutes till the sauce reduces and thickens, and the pork is tender to the bite.

Because the roast pork is already full of flavor, I don’t have to bother with adding aromatics. No more having to clean the raw meat, mucking around with ingredients, or waiting 45 minutes for it to braise. It’s truly a wonderful shortcut!

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Onion omelette.

Onion omelette’s another yummy dish to whip up in a jiffy! It’s also something I resort to when I run out of fresh groceries. Even when the fridge’s empty, there’s always eggs and onions at home.

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Egg drop soup with prawn.

In fact, egg is so versatile I can’t imagine cooking without it. I can also make a quick soup with it, this time with prawn, but I’ve also used minced pork, fish slices, fishball, meatball, or crabstick.

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Stir-fried Chinese endives and fresh shitake.

As there are only two of us, dinner is sometimes just rice with two dishes, but one of them is definitely a vegetable dish.

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Stir-fried Chinese spinach.

I try to incorporate vegetables as much as possible in our home-cooked meals, as we tend to have less of them when we eat out.

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Steamed grey mullet.

Steamed grey mullet [乌鱼] is an acquired taste. Another traditional Teochew dish, the whole fish is steamed, scales and all. Let it cool when done, and then strip off the fish skin. It’ll come off easily in one piece, together with the scales.

Preparing mullet this way retains moisture and its natural sweetness. It has a slight “muddy” flavor as mullet feeds on the muddy bottoms of rivers and coasts. You can easily recognize it by its characteristic flat head.

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Sweet potato porridge dinner.

At home, we usually have steamed grey mullet (traditionally served with taucheo as a dipping sauce) with Teochew porridge.

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Chinese long bean / yardlong bean omelette.

Another omelette! See, I told you I can’t live without eggs!

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Sunday lunch - fresh sandwiches.

An assortment of mini sandwiches is a cool option for a hot, lazy Sunday!

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Kyoho grapes on sale!

I’ve never tried Kyoho grapes, ‘cos they are just too darn expensive! That’s why I couldn’t resist buying a punnet when it was on sale. Considering that each gift box (about two punnets worth) goes for S$80 a pop, I thought S$10.90 was a steal.

The huge, purplish-black orbs had an intoxicating scent. So I was somewhat disappointed that they weren’t as intensely sweet as they are known to be. Maybe that’s why the price was marked down? But I did enjoy the supremely juicy flesh and wine-like flavor.

A big THANK YOU to those of you who are so supportive of my Eating at Home posts. Honestly, I’m very surprised that anyone would want the recipes for such humble, simple fare. πŸ™‚

For my daily cooking, I don’t follow recipes. Rather, I just re-create dishes from past experiences, tasting and adjusting as I go along. For some dishes, I’ve cooked them so often that I instinctively know how much ingredients and seasonings to use. Sometimes, I just make up a new dish as I go along, depending on what ingredients I have at hand.

That’s the reason why I don’t put up recipes of the dishes I post. I hope that by putting up pictures of what we eat at home, you can get some ideas to add on to your own repertoire. But for popular requests, I’ll try to take down the exact amounts the next time I re-create a certain dish, then post the recipe.

Now I understand why my mom can never give me a proper recipe whenever I ask her for one!

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Comments

  1. says

    the stewed pork looks good and it’s a great idea to use roast pork as short cut. πŸ˜‰ I’ve not cook with mullet before, I wonder how it tastes like. Is that mullet roe beside the fish? do you eat it as well?

  2. says

    Thanks, jacky!
    Piggy, yes, that’s the roe! It’s supposedly prized, but I haven’t learned to appreciate it yet. πŸ™‚ I think the one in the pic is a male roe.

  3. HP says

    Hi Julia, I do enjoy your “Eating at Home” posts, it helps to give me ideas on what to cook for dinner.

  4. jy says

    Julia I simply adore your Eating at Home entries, your dishes makes me drool even though they are “simple” home-cooked meals! :))

  5. says

    Nothing beats home-cooked food… and you make them looks so yummy… particularly the Teochew-style steamed pomfret…
    Wow, you actually have the patience to cook for 2 people, I thought usually such a fare is only in big families. 2 people usually dine out for convenience…

  6. Dora says

    I cook for 2 as well. Always enjoy your ‘Eating at Home’ segment. Very inspiring, healthy & colourful πŸ™‚

  7. says

    Love your table setting! Thumbs up for the picture with nostalgically Teochew dishes served on weave bamboo placemats!

  8. says

    Stewed roast pork looks familiar. Have i eaten that at your place before?
    Chinese long bean / yardlong bean omelette is definitely a comfort home food πŸ˜‰

  9. says

    HP: Sometimes I run out of fresh ideas too, maybe you can share yours? πŸ™‚
    jy: Thanks! πŸ™‚
    Fen: One time I was extremely busy, so we ate out for a week. After that, I fell ill. πŸ™
    Even though we try to choose healthier dishes when we eat out, outside food is still not so healthy., eg. the use of recycled oil, strong use of seasonings and MSG, not so hygenic practices, etc.
    So that’s why I try to cook at home as often as possible, even if it’s just the two of us. πŸ™‚
    Dora: Thanks! It’s great to know more people are following the trend to cook at home. πŸ™‚
    DK: Thanks, sis! πŸ™‚ Hope you’re inspired to replicate some nostalgic Teochew dishes at home!
    Momo: I think you’ve eaten the version that’s made from scratch at my home. It’s been ages since you tried my mom’s cooking. πŸ™‚ Oh, the memories!

  10. Aaron says

    Your stewed roast pork looks delicious. Whenever we have leftover roast pork, my mom does the same thing by adding soy sauce, garlic, and chopped pickled mustard greens. I’m so getting roast meat this weekend haha.. you’re making me hungry!
    That egg omelette looks yummy too.

  11. AP says

    waahhhh, so yummy! great job there! first time here but will come more often!! ur dishes makes me hungry at 6.50am in the morning!!!
    Thanks for the roast pork tip!!! Great one there! i’m gonna try it at home!