Archive for the 'Asian' Category

Healthy Spicy Eggplant

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

It’s really annoying, because my cravings for food are not just triggered by smells or by sight. They are also triggered by SOUND!  The pfffssttt of a can of diet coke opening makes me run for the vending machine. The crackle of a chip packet… and today – my friend talking about eggplant made me change my dinner plans from fajitas to eggplant.  Here’s the way I make a healthy version of spicy sichuan eggplant.  It’s usually sitting in a pool of tasty yummy oil from the eggplant being deepfried.  But instead, what I do is steam the eggplant!  A medium sized eggplant – chopped.  While you steam it (it takes 15minutes-ish), you can prepare the aromatics:  2 cloves of finely chopped garlic, a knob of ginger, a sprig of spring onion sliced and a handful of chopped coriander.

You can use pork mince or chicken mince.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a hot wok. I say a couple of tablespoons because you do want to make it a bit more yummy since you saved on the deep frying ;) , then saute the ginger and garlic.  Add the mince and cook the mince.  When the mince is almost cooked, add the spring onions and stir fry until cooked.  Add the now ready eggplant plus 1 tablespoon EACH of spicy bean paste sauce,  hoisin sauce, soy sauce.  In a small bowl, mix a teaspoon of cornflour in some chicken stock and pour into the wok and simmer until thickened.  Now you can put a dash of sesame oil and then stir in the coriander at the last minute.  Serve with steamed rice.  YUM!

Mekong Rest Stop

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

As I previously mentioned, one of the dangers with joining a pre-arranged tour for your holiday is that you don’t get to pick where you eat.  Usually, restaurants that offer the tour operator the best margin and can have the food ready as soon as you sit down are favoured.  No regard to authenticity or enjoyment of the tourists.  This was the case for many of the places we ate at in Vietnam.  But every so often, we were stunned and delighted to be taken somewhere superb.  Not just clean – but posh, not just yummy, but AMAZING, and not just satisfying but also innovative too!  Mekong Rest Stop is such establishment.  We were on our way back to Ho Chi Minh City when we pulled up at this complex in the middle of nowhere (Well, we had all fallen asleep by then).  We were taken to a beautiful garden, where we were seated at an outdoor pagoda, and seated in a room that had no more than 5 tables in it.  The furniture was antique, and the only thing that was missing was a fan – it was stinking hot!  But our stickiness was alleviated by the cool sugar cane drinks (US$2.50 each, which is considered expensive in Vietnam!!); and forgotten as our pre-ordered menu was delivered to us.  First up, for entrees, we were given mini vietnamese pancakes.  Crisp tumeric infused discs with a prawn, bean sprouts and pork; served with nam chuoc sauce; and the Hanoi Crisp parcels – fried spring rolls which are made with a delicate net style pastry.

Next up, individual beef noodle soups.  As you can see here, what we have as “pho” in Australia is sooo much better because it’s made in beef stock. Whereas in Vietnam most of the time we got it in MSG style soup :( No meaty flavour at all. :(   Unless what we have in Australia is westernised??

Things were looking good! And then along came this BALL!!  What was this fried perfectly rounded thing?? 


XO Sauce fried rice noodles

Monday, May 9th, 2011

On our recent trip to Hong Kong, one new yum cha dish that we tried and adored was XO sauce fried rice noodles. Soooo simple to make, especially since XO sauce is so readily available now – even at Coles! By no means a low fat dish, but it’s just 4 ingredients! Firstly, buy a packet of those rolled rice noodles from your local asian grocer. I actually even saw them at Harris Farm too. Cut them into chunks. Then, heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok, then add the noodles and toss around until crispy on the outside and gooey in the middle. Then, add one tablespoon of XO sauce, stir fry until fragrant, and then a splash of light soy sauce. If you have some, add some chopped shallots until wilted. Take off the heat, and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve. Eat alone. Do not share! hehehe :)  Breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner – or all of them! :)

Ramana Hotel Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – Buffet restaurant

Friday, April 8th, 2011

My belly is looking a little preggers lately given our trip in Vietnam and today’s two buffets! One for lunch and one for dinner! You may have gathered that ribs and buffet are my two favourite meals – definitely not for dates though ;) , and if you’re ever in Ho Chi Minh City, there is one that I highly recommend.  We stayed at the Ramana Saigon Hotel (yes, that’s Ramana, not Ramada), a 4 star hotel not really that well located (then again, what is?  HCM city is so big!).  With crossing the street equating to a death wish, we copped out at ate at the “American” buffet.  It was rip off prices by Vietnam standards, but a steal in any other currency 0 at US$18.50 per person.  We inspected – usual salads and bain marie stuff but our eyes lit up when we saw this boat!!

It was filled with ice and then displayed an array of fresh raw seafood for you to heap up onto a plate and ask the chef to cook for you as you wished – grilled, sambal, ginger and shallots, steamed….  That definitely made us pick the buffet over a la carte (in Vietnam you have no idea how long things coudl have been sitting around for).  We had scallops in the shell, huge prawns (which look like yabbies) and normal tiger prawns… yuummm…..

How about a bit of all you can peking/roast duck, chicken and mantou buns? :)

Mandatory sushi plate.  I didn’t try this – the purple is pretty but not quite authentic?? hehe

Then there’s the fresh green vege section – have you ever been on holidays and felt vege deprived and let’s say – been a bit irregular? ;)   Well here you could also pick a plate of your preferred veges and the chefs will also cook it fresh for you!!

This isn’t an ordinary buffet, it’s more like an all you can eat cooked to order!!

There wasn’t much else we wanted to fill the remaining nooks in our stomach with, so we just nibbled on some of the other stuff which included these yummy rice rolls with herbs and duck in them, and some roast duck and pesto roasted veges.

The fruit platter also caught our eye.

I have no idea what those little lolly like balls are but they tasted of star fruit and had 3 little cardamom shaped seeds in them.  Anyone have an idea?

Fresh fruit and vege are your best friends on a holiday diet, and I can never get enough of the tropical stuff.

So there you g0, come here if you’re in HCM city!  It was a real shame that for the time we were there (Saturday night, 6:30 – 8:15pm), there were only 2 other tables. And there was also a band playing just for us at one stage as we had the whole restaurant to ourselves for much of this time!  I hope that yummy food dosen’t all go to waste.   It would be such a shame, with so many hungry people out here.

Ramana Saigon Hotel – 323 Le Van Sy St, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam