Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Cirque to the Stomach

OMG! Just received a call to request that I perform for Cirque du Soleil. Fell off chair, thereby proving that I am in no fit condition to run off to join the circus anytime soon. Clambering back onto my chair, I tried to sound calm as I clarified the request. Oh good ... they are not asking me to perform at the Cirque du Soleil show coming to town. That's a relief. Ha ha, I felt a little silly ... of course they will not ask me to join them. Phew!

They just want me to perform for them for their dinner - specifically Maar Dala. Oh, what a relief ... WHAT???!!! That's even worse!!! I start hyperventilating. Pressure ... stress ... pressure ...

It's bad enough performing for peeps expecting Cirque standard performances. It's worse to dance for the Cirques performers! Have you seen these guys??? Where's my ventolin inhaler. Straight up - I panicked. I asked the manager if I'd just been punk'd. No? Right. Inhaler up. Wait, how did they know about Maar Dala or me? Dunno. Right. Fat lot of help you are.

The pressure is getting to me already. I ask if I can get another dancer to perform with me since they want me on for 3 sets. Like a little kid with an owie, I want the comfort of another friend with me. The inhaler is not working ... I think I need a nebuliser. Be back when I can breathe again.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Rice Sticks Are Not Noodles

Lunch ... good. I stared at the lunch box, not quite sure I was up to lunch. For the last few days, the maid had produced fried noodles of some variant or other. Frankly, I was sick of fried noodles.

Listlessly, I stared at the lunch box. Gee, what a surprise ... fried noodles. I mock jokingly asked the maid if she had an obsession with fried noodles and received an indignant reply that it was not fried noodles. Looks brown, strand like and fried with a fried egg and some meat balls ... looks like fried noodles to me.

She declares vehemently that is is rice sticks and not noodles. Eh? Er ... rice stick = noodles, no? Apparently not! How could I have been so wrong for so long? I bugger off before I say another wrong word and she serves me fried cyanide for tomorrow's lunch.

I'm wondering if I should pretend to eat the noodles and then go to one of the cafes to get a sammich later. Hmmm ... actually, the nood ... I mean rice sticks taste rather good. Wow, the pork meatballs are phenomenal. Ya know, the maid makes amazing wantons and meatballs. I wonder if she'd balk if I requested for ravioli. Let's not push my luck.

I have to go off to Club St later to pick up a cheque. Perhaps I can pick up a Spizza Pizza. Oooohhh, I so miss a Spizza Pizza. I used to go there for dates until I realised that I'd been on 3 different lunch dates at the Spizza and the waiters had cottoned on and were giving me the nudge nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more treatment. Right, takeout at Spizza from now on.

Am so craving for a shisha but with my throat & nose still giving me problems, I would be wiser staying home to recuperate. Sigh. Anyway, I need to go grocery shopping today to replenish my bare pantry. Pantry, people, pantry! Not panty! Pervs.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Pour Some Sugar on Me

I decided that I was going to cook something simple and fast for dinner as I was still feeling too weak to go out after almost an entire week being laid up with the worst flu. Worse, I'd lost my voice and dreaded having to order food in the voice of a tranny and terrorising the food hawker.

So, I rummaged in my moanfully bare fridge to see what I could cook with. The inventory was beyond sad as I had not gone out shopping in more than a week. I could cook either Spam (a sad, sad leftover from a hen-night party when we had to carve naughty shapes from Spam in like 5 minutes ... the imagination of pre-wedding women, fueled with way too many vodka jello shots and wine and the anticipation of a cute male stripper, is terrifying) with frozen vegetables in tomato sauce. Definitely not the healthiest but it has a certain, strange comfort value of being a stock school canteen food. Which is a good thing and a bad thing.

I had three chicken thighs, 1 sea bass, 2 cans of Spam, 1 packet of baby kailan and half a packet of baby carrots. Oh, and 4 eggs. This was beyond sad. I felt like the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.

I decided to check my collection of recipes in my PC. There was a promising recipe that looked simple and used only a minimum of ingredients. Woo hoo! Brill, chicken and rice it is for din din then. The recipe was entitled Rock Sugar and Ginger Chicken and for the next hour as I cooked, the bloody song Pour Some Sugar on Me was going through my head. I even pathetically "danced" the chicken thighs across the chopping board while humming that at one point. I sooooo need to stop watching MTV.

Rock Sugar & Ginger Chicken
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp rock sugar
1 1/2 cup of julienned ginger (that means sliced to thin toothpick-like pieces)
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tsp groundnut oil
3 chicken thighs
That's it ... I know!

Tip: OK, firstly, let me give you guys some tips on how to get the ginger juliennes quickly if you are not a cleaver or knife happy person like me. Use the ole grater. Cut your ginger piece so that you have a long piece and grate it lengthwise so you get toothpick like pieces instead of rice size ones. Although I really can't understand why peeps do not like slicing and dicing like I do ... there is something so therapeutic about it. Oh well. Now let's get started.

1. Heat the stock in a saucepan and add the soy sauce, rock sugar and water.
2. Stir to dissolve the sugar
3. In a pan, heat the oil and saute the ginger slices till lightly brown, making sure they do not clump together or get too browned.
4. When your sauce is bubbling, turn off the fire but keep it on the stove so it can remain warm
5. Push your ginger slices to one side of the pan and add the chicken thigh pieces
6. Cook the chicken, making sure to turn occasionally so the skin does not stick to the pan, till lightly browned
7. Pour some of the oil away so you have a minimum of oil in the pot with the chicken and ginger slices
8. Pour the sauce over the chicken pieces and stir up the whole pot so the ginger slices and sauce was coating the chicken
9. When the sauce is boiling, turn down the fire and let the chicken simmer for about 5 minutes, uncovered
10. Stir and cover and cook for another 4 minutes or so
11. Dish and serve hot with rice

OK, my take on this dish was that it was tasty but not spicy enough for this Peranakan grago chick. I like my food spicy and somehow this was a little too blah for me. I would add some chilli juliennes in there next time and mebbe even a dash of Shaoxing wine. And definitely pepper. On the whole it scored about 6.75/10 for me ... but it was fairly healthy once I removed the excess oil before adding the sauce. So it scores about a 7/10 for health once I added some steamed baby carrots to my meal.

Also, I think the rock sugar may be too bland for this recipe. If I try this recipe again, I may use brown sugar or raw sugar. I think this recipe could do with a bit of a darker, more rustic flavour. It was like Ashlee Simpson trying to do rock songs. Not convincing and way too banal although superficially acceptable. I think I would not try this recipe again without extensive modification and then I would probably change the name to Steph's Sugar & Spiced Chicken. Now there's a thought ...

Another tip: If you have any leftover sauce, keep it. Use it as a chilli base. Slice some chilli padis and throw it into the sauce. Alternatively, add some dark vinegar to it, julienne more ginger and throw it together and voila! You have a dipping sauce. Yums.

Categories - Chicken Run

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Dance Fever, Dance Fever

WARNING: THIS IS LOOOOOOOONG. This is a hard post. Why? Because I am going to attempt to put down all my thoughts and feelings in retrospect after a fairly significant event that just happened. And also because I am stoned from flu meds and thinking, what more typing, coherently is a challenge at the moment. But I shall endeavour and brave whatever brick bats that may come my way. Forward, groggy soldier ...

20 August was a killer day. The night before, I got called at the last minute at 8pm by an old friend in a panic. He needed dancers to perform for a big event in his restaurant and club and although I had already recommended another group of dancers, it apparently was still insufficient entertainment for his client. So ole reliable me went to the rescue. Needlessly to say, when I pitched up at work, I was one tired girl. And I still had two performances to go that day. That's right .. 2. I was going to work till 3.30pm. Then I had a performance at 5pm. In Sentosa. After which I promised to perform for the annual dancers ball at 7pm.

Was I insane? Indubitably so.

Dense Fever
First, the performance at Sentosa. It was a troupe performance. Four girls. I had never danced with two of the girls before. And I did not know the song. Nor the choreography. And due to my work schedule and an unexpected bout of food poisoning - remember that soto ayam the designer bought for me? Ptui! - we have not been able to meet and rehearse. Not good.

After my performance, I met up with G, the choreographer of the dance item to learn the dance. For those not in the performance arts, this is no mean feat ... to learn a dance routine within 1 hour for a performance the next day with 3 other girls you have never performed with before. I was either very confident or very stupid. Please do not remind me which one I am.

It was hard-going at first with her mixing up names, positions and pronouns. But after a shaky start and my no-nonsense glare, we managed to get the choreo down. I wrote it all down and just focused on memorising my position and movements. By the time we finished, one hour later, I was fairly confident and spent the ride home marking my steps and memorising the choreo.

Next morning, I was still fairly chipper and confident and was still marking steps and running through the item in my head as I headed off to work. I was told to turn up for a run-through by 4pm. Er ... I finish work at 3.30pm and it would take me at least 30 minutes to get to Sentosa depending on whether I could get a taxi. I was not a happy camper. I told the girls I would try my best but no promises. I usually get the time when I am on, I show up and am ready to go and I leave immediately. I like it that way. I am a professional and as long as the instructions are clear, all's well.

Yeah .... rrrrrright. Not!

I turn up and it's starting to rain. There were no clear instructions on where the venue was so I am walking around like a cast member from Lost, carrying my luggage bag of costumes & make-up in the rain. I am not pleased. Finally, I spot the place and the bloody security knob refused to let me in!

"Excuse me, who are you looking for?"

"I'm one of the dancers and I am looking for the other dancers."

"Which dancers?"

"Are there more than one group of dancers?"



"Which dancer? The tall one or the very short one?"

"Does it bloody matter???"

"Er ... I dunno where they are but I think they are there somewhere ... *vague wave in the far horizon* ..."

"Can I just go in there to change first. I am supposed to be ready in 5 mins."

"Er ... no. Er, which dancer you with?"

"Look, I have no time to play Who's on First. Just tell me where they are or where I am supposed to report to," I barked as I had to restrain myself from punching the git in the eyes since they had not left my chest during the entire farce.

In the end, he sends me off the main pavilion to the great, beachy unknown stating that the girls were there. After wandering around like a git for about 15 mins, I called G and threw a hissy fit. I declared I was moving no where and someone better come get me as I have been doing the Chinese Ghost Story routine out there on the beach.

Once the girls collected me, I dashed off to change. We decide, thankfully, that we needed a run through as it would be the first time all 4 of us danced together. And that's when it hit. G had given me all the wrong directions. She had confused my left with her left and stage left, my facing with her facing .. in fact, she had messed up all the directions and positions. It was a bloody disaster.

I had to re-adjust my thinking and steps in 15 minutes. The fact that I still managed it with minimal feck-ups is a testament of good teachers in the past. As it was, I was terribly uncomfortable at the complete mess. I think I muttered FUBAR under my breath a couple of times ...

Then it was a wait for our turn. I had made it abundantly clear I had to leave by 6pm latest as I had to make it to the other performance. As it was, we waited almost 40 minutes to go up. I was beginning to get rooted to the ground. Worse, we had no food or drinks while waiting and were sweltering in the heat. Not that I would have eaten as dancing after eating is asking for a scene from Monty Python ... just one leetle wafer ...

Fortunately it was over quickly once we were on stage. I always enjoy dancing in front of kids and there were a couple of real funny rugrats right at the front. The girls always think I am a princess and the boys are traumatised for life, growing up with an inexplicable fear of dancers with big hair. Bwahahahaha .. cough ...

The moment we are done, I fly like the wind to the other performance. With my ghalabeeya (black robe), I looked like a clueless ninja from some B-grade movie as I pelted up the pavement to the taxi stand. Peeps were jumping off to the side, into bushes and eyeballing me as I whirled past them. I felt like a super zero ... ta ta dum! Pant.

Aussies Rule
For quite some time now, I've been feeling really discouraged. I felt that I was not improving in my dance, had somehow lost a lot of my creative spark and may never really excel to the level I think I should. I was almost ready to throw in my dance slippers and call it a day. Retirement beckoned and I was feeling around for my stroller ...

This feeling of inadequacy was compounded by the deep betrayal and hurt inflicted by some other dancers I had considered as close, personal friends as well as a series of strange and bizarre incidences that coloured my relationship with another dancer, Ser. Fortunately, the misunderstanding with Ser was cleared and that helped in making me feel like I had at least one person in the dance world I could trust.

The Greatest Singapore Zero
It was with this feeling of disconnect that I arrived at the ball. The fact that it was held by a fairly notorious member of the dance community (let's call her BB) rather worried me. Will other peeps from the community vilify me because I had caved under her request to dance for her ball? I am such a wuss. Everytime someone cries or squeals in panic, I start acting like I am Singapore's Daftest Hero. Duh!

Anyway, as it turns out, my superhuman (sic) leaps enabled me to be one of the first to arrive. Yeah me! BB looked really grouchy and totally unfriendly as she was getting her make-up done so I decided to give her her space.

Are We There Yet?
Bored, I sms-ed the Australian dancers who had flown here for this performance. I love this bunch of ladies. They are not only talented but truly some of the nicest and most generous hearted dancers I know. Asking the girls when they were arriving at the hotel, I received a reply that they would pitch up at 8ish and a request that I be seated at their table.

I finally asked BB where I would be seated. She dismissed me by saying I can find myself a seat wherever there is a free seat. I silently rolled my eyes at this not-unexpected answer. Way to make me feel wanted. I wandered around listening to my CD music and watched as other groups practised their routines. I chose not to practise in front of them as I am paranoid after having my choreo stolen so many times by so many peeps. And also, I have a belief that if you practise too much just before you go on, you over-think your performance and end up stifling any real emotion.

I managed to lay my hands on a copy of the programme and realised the show was divided into two sets. The first set is dedicated to Bollywood dancing. 'Cor! BB had asked me to do an Indian fusion piece but Bollywood ... me???!! The mind boggles. I was relieved to see that I was relegated to the first 4 numbers, slated at 8.25pm. Phew! That meant I could eat and drink and chill out for the remainder of the show. Fabulous! I was right chaffed even though I knew it was a cut direct being placed so early in the show. Normally, earlier slots are given to "lesser" dancers. LOL ... I didn't give a flying ... er .. bun. I'd seen the line-up for the Bollywood set and other than Rose, the glorious and super-talented dancer from Australia, I knew that mine would be the best item in that set. Yes, I am so modest.

But above all I was glad to be able to relax and enjoy everyone else's performance - a luxury I seldom have the opportunity to enjoy.

I was curious to see how Rose would perform her Bollywood number as she is famous for her drum routines but not her Indian fusion dance. I knew that I would be in awe of anything she did though as she truly is incredibly good. The fact that she was on after me would have intimidated me except I was that confident that my performance would stand up to comparison.

The Zone
As usual, right before my performance, I went into The Zone. I typically get very quiet and distant and I just cannot speak or interact with anyone. When it was my turn, I knew I could do no wrong. You know that feeling you get when you walk onto the stage and you just know all the stars are aligned, the gods are with you and you actually feel the glow of empowerment and sublimity? I felt all that and more. Someone once said that when I danced Indian fusion, she could almost see one of the Indian goddesses reflected in my aura and I had a luminosity that was otherworldly. I just reckoned she'd eaten a bad shellfish. LOL.

Up Yours, Judas
I performed my signature Maar Dala. The timing was perfect. I'd seen the dancer who had betrayed me recently. The dance was about betrayal and pain and I could channel all my hurt, anger and indignation into the dance with just one sidewards glance of the Judas. When I finished, the applause was gratifyingly thunderous.

Prancing over to the Aussie dancers and trying not to let loose a "Wiiiiiilburrrrr", I was hugged and kissed and congratulated by these ladies who have hearts as big and open as the outback. None of them had ever seen me perform except at workshops and it was very gratifying to receive their praise. A lot of my self-doubts and insecurity were mollified by their warmth and sincerity.

GoH Blimey
The clincher of the evening was yet to come though. I'd been standing in the middle of room with the Aussie ladies, watching all the other dancers perform - a spot just right next to the VIP table. In fact, just next to the Guest of Honour (GoH). BB seeing me there, gave me a warning glance and told me not to crowd the GoH. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes again as I noticed that the other dancers were not told to bugger off. Until I caught another dancer from Oz's (Janet) eye and she did the eye rolling on my behalf. We were like giggling schoolgirls.

Later, I stood with some international dancers near the VIP table again and BB was kind of giving me a hard time for standing too near the VIP table (I swear I was one car length away, Officer). Suddenly, a sweet old man gently nudged her aside and came up to me to shake my hand. Smiling broadly, he asked if I was the same dancer who danced at his welcome party a few months ago. I grinned and nodded yes. Yes, ladies & gentlemen. Meet the GoH aka The Egyptian Ambassador to Singapore. My client. Strangely, BB was suddenly not at our table. I bless my family for hardening me against outbreaks of hapless and hysterical giggles by being the most comically pretentious gits in town. I'd like to thank my dogs, God, my non-existent agent, my neighbour's brother's newsvendor's sister-in-laws' ... LOL.

The other dancers were terribly impressed and I tried to maintain a modest and calm demeanour but inside I was rolling on the ground laughing my bloody arse off. I really had to bite my tongue and swallow the giggles as the Ambassador waxed lyrical about my saidi dance skills, coincidentally BB's specialty, which truthfully I only focused on in a panic just days before performing for him. He stated that I really captured the feeling and spirit of the saidi for a non-Egyptian. I truly did not have the heart to tell him that prior to dancing the saidi cane dance for him, I had only performed the saidi once and had only the one intensive lesson with the great Yousry Sharif. (Note: That's how good a teacher he is. After Mahmoud Reda, he is my master favourite teacher) Egads ... the irony.

Waltzin' Matildas
Anyway, enough being a gloating biatch. I want to rave about the Aussie dancers. The headliner of the night was an American dancer who, while a beautiful and talented dancer, was totally overshadowed by Rose. Rose stole the show and our hearts. Her charisma, power, passion, superior technique and beauty were magnificantly showcased. She is not called the Queen of Drums for nothing. Her drum routine is without a doubt the best I have ever seen. She commanded and deserved every millisecond of our attention. I was on the verge of doing a Wayne's World and making the "We Are Not Worthy" obseisance to this superb dancer.

Eva was also gold and continues to be my favourite dancer for her grace, soulfulness and pure elegance. I wished she had danced Faddah though as that is my favourite dance in her repertoire. She was the favourite of many in the audience because it is hard not to fall under the spell of this gracious woman who always reminds me of a sexier version of Audrey Hepburn.

And then there was Dervish boy. A male dancer direct from Egypt did the Sufi dance. He was really good and highly entertaining. The only drawback was the man's arrogance which took away from his art. At one point, Janet & I turned to each other and said, "Now he's just showing off!" LOL.

All in all, I was completely blown away with the high standards and quality of the performances. The Aussie ladies were complete stars and I would not hesitate to pit them against some of the so-called Superstars of Bellydance and loudly proclaim them superior. I think they deserve more credit and respect than they do and I truly bow to their deep knowledge, passion and love of the dance.

You Are Your Own Worst Enemy
Kaeishi, the headliner from America, was amazing in her shamadan dance which is what some peeps would call the candelabra dance. Dancing with candles on a tray which she balanced on her head AND with tealights held in her palms, she amazed us with her skill, dexterity, flexibility and control during her floorwork. What was funny though was that she later recounted that she'd lost her footing a little when she did a backbend. Truthfully, none of us really noticed. But she was terribly hard on herself and was beating herself up.

Watching her, I had an epiphany that we are all like that. How many times have I beaten myself up for not performing to par or missing a beat or a step despite everyone gushing over my performance. We are our harshest critics and the sense of insecurity and crusade for perfection is really what makes us strive harder. It also unites us in our neurosis.

Legend in My Own Lunchtime
Another epiphany that night was when a lovely Indian lady brought a little girl to me and complimented me on how my Indian dance was actually better than all the other dancers - even those who WERE Indian. Bless. She asked if her grand-daughter could have a picture taken with me and of course I happily obliged. The little girl was quite shy so I tried to be as non-threatening and gentle as possible as I put my arm around her for the picture. I did not think anything about it till later in the night. The grand-mother approached me again and told me how thrilled her grandchild was. Apparently, she told everyone "She touched me!" and was absolutely delighted.

I never really thought about it. I've always just been me ... just plain, ole, ordinary, slightly goofy (OK, plenty goofy) me. But to a little child or to an audience member seeing me only in performance mode, I am apparently the closest thing to a minor celebrity they might ever come close to. A little gesture like touching her arm was actually the highlight of her evening. I was reminded of my responsibility as a performer. It's not only to dance my best but to leave a positive memory for my audience even after the show. Even then, often I get caught up in my own world and truly I dance for myself - totally lost in the music and the story behind the dance.

And way too often, I would dash off after a performance, prefering not to deal with silly men trying to get my number or clingy females trying to score a free lesson. I usually just want to bugger off to smoke a shisha to come down from the high of performing or just go home to rest. I've been thoughtless. I kicked myself and promised I would endeavour to spare more of a thought or word. I would always think of that little Indian girl every time I feel impatient or the urge to rush off.

Most importantly, that night I rediscovered why I danced in the first place as I watched the lovely Australian dancers. I am inspired again. Refreshed and revitalised, I cannot thank them enough and I hope I live up to their expectations and praise. Aussies rule, ladies!

P/S. But I still hope the All Blacks kick their arses on Saturday. Ka mate ka mate! Ka Ora! Ka Ora!

Categories - Rambling Prose

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I'm King of the Fishes

Not feeling a 100% today so I decided that I needed a fortifying meal. Out came the Fish with Angelica soup ingredients again. The last time I made this, I used catfish. This time, I'm going to use kingfish. Yes, that mysterious kingfish that I bought from Carrefour.

I am so proud of myself. My freezing techniques are superior by far! When I defrosted the kingfish, it looked almost as fresh as the day I bought it. The skin was glossy, the flesh was firm and the eyes were clear. Sweet!

I decided that since I was not feeling the greatest, I also needed some kind of comfort food. Bugger, no milk. Well, I guess I'd make Dill Rice then. Something about dill always gives me comfort. Just the smell alone is enough.

So I drag my sorry arse to the kitchen, determined to cook with the least fuss and the greatest speed possible so I could get some rest. I cook the Kingfish Soup with Angelica in the same way I cooked the Catfish Soup with Angelica and at the same time I get started on my dill rice. I'm going to cook a big batch so I can freeze the extra and have that as and when I feel under the weather or am just plain miserable.

The dill rice is another creation that I put together after having Sabzi (I think that's how it's spelt) Polow at an Iranian friend's place. The dill she used was different though - Iranian dill, which I cannot get a hold of unless I make a trip to her house. So I just use normal dill but the taste is slightly compromised because of that. This dish is way, waaaaaay simplier than the Iranian dish but it is inspired by it and kind of a cross between Sabzi Polow and an Indian pillau. Use fresh dill ... none of the dried McCormick stuff. Shudder.

Dill Rice
About 3 cups of rice
About 3 cups of chicken stock
I medium sized brown onion
1 clove garlic
a pinch of dried fenugreek
About 8 stalks of dill or more
About 1 tbsp of olive oil
A small knob of butter

1. Wash your rice
2. Halve then slice the onion fairly thinly
3. Mince the garlic
4. Heat the olive oil in a deep pan
5. Saute the onions till translucent & fragrant, making sure not to brown them
6. Add the garlic and saute for a minute, again making sure not to brown the onions and garlic
7. Add the rice and pour enough stock into the pan such that the depth of the liquid from the top of the rice is about the same depth as the rice from the bottom of the pan
8. Bring to boil & then lower the heat to low
9. Shred the dill coarsely and add to the pan with the fenugreek
10. Cover & continue cooking till the liquid is almost at the level of the rice
11. Add the butter & salt to season and stir through
12. Shake the pan so that the rice settles again, cover & continue cooking
13. About 5-10 mins later, check the doneness of the rice
Tip: Use a chopstick & poke it right to the bottom of the pan, when you lift it out and it's fairly clean, your rice is done. If there lots of clumps of rice stuck to it, continue cooking for a few more mins
14. Shred a couple more stalks of dill and garnish & serve hot

The herbal fish soup was quite effective. I did feel a lot better after eating it but taste wise, it is still a 6.5/10. The increase of 0.5 over the Catfish Soup with Angelica was becasue the kingfish actually tasted better than the catfish with the herbs. I realise why so many kingfish recipes use the barbeque or grilling method. The flesh is quite firm and holds up well with intense cooking methods. I will definitely try to get my hands on some kingfish in future see what else I can do to it. Either the Kylie Kwong raw kingfish dish or a improvised ceviche or even smoked and lightly fried dish with shredded ginger, honey and chilli dressing. Smoked over lime leaves and tea ... hmmm ... I foresee a trip back to Carrefour.

The dill rice was yummy as usual but I think I did not use enough dill this time as I was running low. Also, because I am not feeling 100%, I did not use as much butter. Still, when it is hot and fluffy, it's a real comfort food that can get rid of most cravings. *Waggle eyebrows* So it scores a 7/10.

Now a hot cup of tea and bed so I can get back to the craziness of work with some level of energy tomorrow.

Categories - Fish Tales, VeggieMight

Friday, August 19, 2005

For Edmond

Today was a shitty day. It was just frustrating, exhausting, hard-going and it totally took out more from me than I had.

Lunch was OK - chicken noodle soup but I did not really have time to fully appreciate it. Then I was called at the last minute to meet some out-of-town dancers for coffee at around 9.30pm. I was knackered & I still had to go to that birthday bash for my friend. Anyway, I drag myself to coffee, wishing I was home and just chilling. After the coffee with the girls, I was really tempted to go home instead but something told me I should make the effort as I had not seen the birthday girl and the rest of the gang in almost 2 years.

I'm glad I went. It was a reunion of all the top musicians and singers for the first time in a long time. It was pretty chilled. Almost everyone jammed and it was good to see and hear each other perform again and see how and where we'd improved or changed. I was still too tired to really get into it though and even my performance was way more chilled than normal.

And then the birthday girl, Denise was on stage trying to think of a song to sing. And someone from the crowd said "Sing Dance with My Father. For Luther, who left us way too early." Silence and everyone started howling & screaming "Yeah! For Luther!"

From the back of the room, a quiet voice said, "And for Edmond ... because it's his birthday too."

The room went silent as we all sobered and tried not to cry. Edmond Branson was one of the best percussionist I had ever met and he was truly a lovely and good man. Everyone loved him and the fact that he'd died too young and so suddenly really ripped all of us apart. So as Denise tried to sing without choking up, the rest of sang quietly ... afraid to look at each other for fear of falling apart. I knew then why I went to this reunion/birthday party/memorial.

The weirdest thing was just two weeks ago I was going through my namecards holder and the first card I picked up - not once but 3 times over that week - was Edmond's. Pretty freaky. It made me sad and I kept his card because he'd handwritten a message of me and it would be the last thing I got from him. Every time I look at it I remember the last time we jammed and the fun we had backstage at one performance. We had more fun jamming and sounded way more awesome backstage waiting for our turn than we did on stage. I wish I had made more effort to meet up with him for one last jam. But none of us knew it would be the last time. Regrets ... such puny and painful substitutes.

Edmond, this is for you. We miss you but we KNOW you are in a better place. Peace, brother.

Back when I was a child, before life removed all the innocence
My father would lift me high and dance with my mother and me and then
Spin me around 'til I fell asleep
Then up the stairs he would carry me
And I knew for sure I was loved
If I could get another chance, another walk, another dance with him
I'd play a song that would never, ever end
How I'd love, love, love
To dance with my father again
When I and my mother would disagree
To get my way, I would run from her to him
He'd make me laugh just to comfort me
Then finally make me do just what my mama said
Later that night when I was asleep
He left a dollar under my sheet
Never dreamed that he would be gone from me
If I could steal one final glance, one final step, one final dance with him
I'd play a song that would never, ever end
'Cause I'd love, love, love
To dance with my father again
Sometimes I'd listen outside her door
And I'd hear how my mother cried for him
I pray for her even more than me
I pray for her even more than me
I know I'm praying for much too much
But could you send back the only man she loved
I know you don't do it usually
But dear Lord she's dying
To dance with my father again
Every night I fall asleep and this is all I ever dream

Categories - Rambling Prose

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Fried Rice Paradise

I was too knackered when I got home to cook last night so it was microwaved leftover pizzas for me. Work is hell at the moment as I am seriously micromanaging my designer who appears to have the layout skills of a GCE "A" Level art student. Suffice to say that we are looking for another designer as I cannot be going over font size and paginations on every piece of collateral. We are going into print in China soon and the last thing I need is Dumb & Dumber destroying my catalogues. If these go south, generations of Chinese and my designer's lambent children-to-be will be quaking at the sound of my fury. The words the Wrath of Khan have not been applied to me for nothing.

Anyway, lunch was a big one. I ended up eating my boss' lunch as well as he was sick and tired of wantons. I got fried rice which was fairly tasty but the maid gave me enough to feed an army. Ate about a third of it and was quietly sipping my coffee when the boss offered me his wanton soup. Score! I immediately discarded my fried rice and started on the wantons.

Am now so stuffed that I wonder if I would be able to have dinner tonight. Was hoping to have some seafood and was contemplating a Moules Moulinere or something like that. We'll see. If by the time I waddle out of this office still feeling like an over-fed construction worker, it will just be the heated fried rice as a late supper then. I have so much work to do that it's gonna be another all-nighter. If I did cook, I want something super fast. Hmmm ...

Categories - Rambling Prose

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fried Chicken Noodles

How can I be hungry so early in the day after the heavy dinner of last night? Sigh. Lunch today is Fried Chicken Noodles. Quite yummy and for once it is nice & hot as the maid just brought it into the gallery.

It's fried with dark sauce so there's a musky, dark quality to the flavour that is lightened by the little shreds of cabbage. The chicken is lightly sauted with light soy sauce. I reckon it's a little over-cooked but still tasty.

No coffee so far this morning and I am trying to resist the call of Spinelli's. Resist ... resist .. I must resist ... Resistance is futile. The designer has gone out to buy coffee. Sigh. I have the will power of a gnat.

Hours later in the Hall of Gluttons ... someone brought a box of curry puffs into the gallery. And not just your ordinary curry puffs. The golden ones with the light, fluffy and layered pastry and spiced-just-enough-to-perk-the-tongue-without-blowing-your-head-off type of curry puffs. I had two. Oink.

One of my fave artists also came into the office to work on future concepts. Am so impressed with his eye and sensitivity to the nuances of shades, movement and energy within a composition. He has talent coming out of his wazoo and I have to admit that admiration and jealousy fought a bitter battle within me. Fortunately, he is truly a nice guy so I forgave him for having a disgusting surfeit of talent. The fact that he had a sense of humour was also good and made the few hours he languished before the computer with us fairly painlessly. At one point, we were rather impressed by the layers on the curry puff and were tempted to take a picture. Except that we wolfed it down faster than we could take a picture. Oh well ... priorities ...

P/S. I used a photo from the Internet and cannot remember the source so if it is yours, do let me know and I will insert the proper attribution.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Pet Peeve 1

Here I am wallowing in my self indulgence when my housemate wanders over. With a smile, he remarks that I am a really fast and neat cook.

"One moment I see you cooking up a storm and somehow you seem to be only using a couple of pans and plates. Unlike my girlfriend. When she cooks, it's like every plate we own is out on every surface on the kitchen. And not only that! By the time you are finished, everything is washed and put away. Wow .. impressive!" said my awed housemate.

OK, Pet Peeve 1 - I hate people who have to use every darn pot, pan, plate, cup, spoon, ladle, bird bath, whatever when they cook! And they do not clean as they cook or worse ... major shudder here ... they leave all the pots & pans to 'soak' for days after they cook. Who do they expect to clean up after the them? The friendly elves??? Luckily, my current housemate's girlfriend never cooks here. No one uses the kitchen except me. Bliss.

I grew up in a family of chefs and my grandmother was one tough cookie. You wash & clean up as you cook. You lay out your ingredients etc aka mise en place before you lay seige to them and whip them into something that does not offend the human palate. You clean up and I mean clean! after you are done. And she was an economical chef too. You use as much as required and not more.

I once lived with a girl who had a boyfriend who was the dirtiest, most wasteful and messiest cook I'd ever seen. And I've seen a lot. Suffice to say he managed to use up an entire bottle (my bottle!) of balsamic vinegar and 3/4 of a bottle of olive oil (again, mine!) in one cooking session. Worst, he always bought the cheapest ingredients and would then nick my stuff when he realised mine were better quality. And of course, he never replenished the stock that he nicked. To say I despised his cooking habits is to put it mildly. Worse, he was a terrible cook.

To gross you out (because misery loves company), my then housemate and her boyfriend were so filthy that they used to leave out their teacups - actually they left everything out ... including him in his bloody drawers all day on the sofa ... major eeeuwwww. Draining the teacups was too much for them and the leftover tea would ferment and maggots would grow in the few days before the maid came to clean up. It was horrifying. After a while I dreaded going into the kitchen and seldom cooked in that apartment. I felt so sorry for the maid. The horror ... the horror ...

As I glance at my shiny, clean kitchen, I am bloody glad that my grandmother taught me well. I may have bitched and moaned when I was a kid about her training but at least there are no maggots in my kitchen. Shudder.

Stepping off my soap box now.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Monday, August 15, 2005

Fried Pesto Chicken & Dilly Mash

I am so stuffed I could die. As I type, I am entrenched in my chair feeling like the Michelin Man. Whose fault is it? Totally mine. I was so hungry coming home from a terminally boring meeting that I decided to make myself a nice dinner even though it was already past 8.

I put together the ingredients of a new recipe I just saw on some website - Fried Pesto Chicken. I adore pesto and if paired with chicken, I would usually grill or saute it. Although I once made a pesto chicken roulade with mozzarella which was quite yummy. Actually I got creative as it was for a dinner party and made a ying/ying chicken roulade entree - one pesto chicken roulade with mozzarella and the other a tapenade basil leave chicken roulade. It turned out really fab and everyone wanted the recipe. I wished I had made that instead of the Fried Pesto Chicken. Oh well, we learn from our mistakes. Fortunately, I had decided to make mash potatoes to go with my fried chicken. I know it is a departure from the usual chips but I had a bad day and I needed comfort day and that means mash potatoes.

So, here is what I did to the Fried Pesto Chicken which may have compromised the overall yumminess of this recipe. I used 3 chicken drumsticks which I thawed in a hurry by soaking it in water the moment I got home. Which meant that it was only properly thawing for 30 mins or less. Which then sent me into a panic about salmonella poisoning so I overcompensated by poaching it longer than normal. And also frying it longer than normal just in case ... I am so neurotic sometimes. Thwaps to my friends who are rolling around laughing at the "sometimes" comment.

Also, I used a never-tried-before breadcrumbs because I could not find my beloved Progresso Seasoned Breadcrumbs at any of the supermarkets I visited. I had to season the Japanese-brand plain breadcrumbs myself. But I still found it really bland despite adding loads of salt, pepper, chilli powder and tumeric. I could not find my paprika which greatly annoyed me. Note to self: Buy paprika. Call all the supermarkets to find out who has my Progresso breadcrumbs. Am a woman on a mission now.

Anyway, here is the recipe as I modified/mangled:

Fried Pesto Chicken
3 chicken drumsticks
About 4 dessertspoons of basil pesto
Breadcrumbs - use seasoned ones or season plain ones with salt, pepper, tumeric and chilli powder (better if you use paprika)

1. Pour enough milk in a pan that it would cover your chicken and bring to a gentle boil
2. Add salt to taste and poach your chicken for about 15-20 minutes
3. Remove your chicken from the pan and dry them with a paper towel as thoroughly as possible
4. Spread the pesto over the chicken to coat
5. Place breadcrumbs in a Ziploc bag and place chicken in bag, close & shake it up to coat the chicken
6. Heat about 1-2 cm of oil in a pan till hot
7. Fry the chicken on all sides till golden brown
8. Remove and place on a plate with a paper towel to absorb excess oil
9. Eat while it is hot ... like now

The taste was so-so and I would rate it a mere 6.5/10 and health factor is in the low 5/10. Not the most successful recipe and not one I would really repeat. That's why I thanked my lucky stars I had enough cow sense to make mash potatoes. I decided to make my Dilly Mash, which never fails to cheer me up. It is fairly easy to make and can be prepared at the same time you make your fried chicken.

Steph's Dilly Mash
About 4 small- to medium-sized potatoes with skin on (I like it rustic)
A knob of butter
Hot milk (I used the same milk I poached the chicken in so it was extra yummy - plenty smart eh? LOL)
Fresh dill (about 4-5 stalks)
Salt & pepper

1. Boil the potatoes vigorously till well cooked and the skin is slightly cracked
2. Remove from stove & drain
3. Mash the potatoes, add the milk & butter & season to taste
4. When potatoes are desired consistency (I like it creamy yet with some chunky bits if that makes sense), shred some fresh dill leaves into the mash
5. Mix well
6. Serve hot
7. Try not to pig out ... like me

I am obviously biased since I kinda invented this mash recipe but I rate it 9/10 for taste and about 7/10 for health as I try not to add too much butter and make up for it by usually using flavoured milk. Overall, it took me about 50 mins to cook the two dishes since I did them simultaneously. It might have taken a shorter time if I had used fresh chicken drumsticks and also not been doing my laundry at the same time. I am woman .. I multitask.

Since the meal was not the healthiest, I decided to be good and added some arugula leaves to my plate. It is a good combination with the Dilly Mash as the dill and argula really complement each other. The dill's flavour is heightened by the nutty, peppery taste of the arugula and with the creamy & buttery mash, it is a fabulous ambrosia that I cannot resist. I ate the whole lot. I know ... I am a pig. I am so paying for it now as I sit here in a stupour.

Tomorrow ... tomorrow I shall be good and make something more healthy. Yeah .... rrrrrright.

P/S. Not my photo but something I got off the Web and can't remember the URL now. If this photo belongs to you, do let me know and I will insert the proper attribution.

Categories - Chicken Run, VeggieMight

Saturday, August 13, 2005

No Lunch Box, No Cry

The boss isn't in the gallery today so there's no lunch. Boo hoo. The office area is a desert for food on a Saturday. The best I can do is grab a sammich or ... shudder ... a burger from McDonald's. I think I'd go without lunch today then. Eeeuuuwww.

I've got rehearsals at 4pm anyway so I either have to eat at least 2 hours before or it's Puke City. Cringe.

Ah hah! The designer is going out for a ciggie break with his mate, the Malay carpet shop bloke from next door, so he is going to buy me lunch! Malay food! Sweet. I've asked for lontong, mee rebus or soto ayam. The boy looked confused at soto ayam and hesitantly asked if it is chicken soup. Sigh ... youths today .. so ignorant. I'm constantly amazed at the lack of awareness and knowledge of young Chinese Singaporeans nowadays. They seem to know little or nothing about the other races who make up the country. How can you live next to someone for years and know next to nothing about his/her food, language, culture, religion etc? I mean .. seriously! And it's a Chinese thing ... 'cos the Malay kids know enough about the Chinese culture, food, language etc to poke fun of or imitate them ... LOL. And there are more Chinese-speaking Indians that I have met able to spout Tang dynasty poetry than Chinese! Bizarre.

So, I'm looking forward to lunch. Not so much to rehearsals. I just wanna go home and have a nap and then go do some shopping for the weekend. I have decided to make some fried chicken. I've been craving one of my fried chicken and chips baskets I used to make in Germany. Drool.

Am starving and hoping the designer comes back soon. Didn't have much food last night. Went to catch some mates perform at a dinky club full of kids. Felt like a fossil. And we sure acted like fossils when after just one set, we all decided to bugger off home. I went back to heat up the leftover Portuguess Sausage and Kai Lan soup. It was sooooo good and gone so quickly. I almost shed a nostalgic tear as I washed the tupperware after inhaling the soup in 10 mins. Sigh. That is one recipe I will definitely repeat.

I just remembered that when doing a vanilla vodka shot with a musician friend, I happily agreed to surprise a friend at her birthday on Thursday. Have not seen her and her partner for yonks and we decided that I will pop up in full costume and dance for her. Three other musicians will back me up and we will jam the house down. All sounded good .. till I realised this morning that I have a series of intense meetings the next morning. Bugger, that will cast a shadow on my celebrations. Being grown up and responsible is such a pain.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Friday, August 12, 2005

Wanton Noodles

The designer is out sick today and the intern was told to stay home & get his project done so there's two extra boxes of lunch. Which would be fab except the mee poh noodles seem to have a lot of yeast in it. Not allergic to yeast per say but when there's a lot of it, I tend to get a funny, numb sensation on my tongue. Not pleasant at all. The wantons are yummy though. The maid makes fabulous wantons - from scratch too! Drool.

As a kid (and OK, even now) I wondered why wantons are called wantons. I used to watch them carefully to see if they would break into lascivious and unimaginably naughty acts to deserve the name. It was always terribly disappointing when my greed would win out over my curiosity and I would consume them before witnessing a culinary indiscretion. Oh well.

I've scored one of the extra boxes for tea. I'd just have the wantons and the soup without the noodles. I've already had one horrible cup of coffee this morning at a meeting at Singtel. The lady I met was nicely loyal to her company and kept extolling the superiority and renown of their products. As I was sipping the tepid and tar-tasting coffee, I was tempted to ask if that could be extended to their coffee. But since I was there to beg them for money, I thought I should play nice. Also, one of the ladies was a really interesting person and we got into a discussion about children, art and autism. Would have liked to continue the discussion as she wanted my opinion on how to develop an art programme for her nephew and lord knows I can warble on for hours on the topic.

Then it was off to our warehouse cum boss' house to oversee some packing for a shipment of Cheung Yee art to our exhibition in Taiwan. Am continuously amazed at the eye and vision of the boss - the ability to spot revolutionary and compelling art at ten paces. I am in awe of the artists and works we have and cannot wait to study one of my fave artists when he comes down next month. I hope I can have a whole day free just to learn from him. Fingers crossed and wanton dreaming.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Catfish on a Hot Tin Stove

OK, after yesterday's suspected poisoning, I thought I should fortify myself. Had a couple of dumplings and lots of milk last night to counteract the poisoning and spent much of the time looking through my notes from my grandfather's Chinese medical books. Ahh ... flip, flip ... helps prevent backache .. I've got that ... strengthens bones .. good, good ... dispels wind and damp .. good thing not going on a date ... revitalises the kidney. OK, that settled it. I was going to make Grouper Soup with Angelica. Except I was going to use catfish instead. I'd bought a whole catfish & had chopped it in half to freeze.

Cool. Having decided that, I was so knackered I fell asleep to a re-telecast of Rockstar INXS. I swear I am addicted to that. Those guys can SING! Roll over American Idiots. Anyway, I wake up extra early so I can go buy the Chinese herbs to make the fish tonic soup. The recipe is simple but the herbs are not and the balance of the herbs are important. Too much of one item versus the rest could end up making you grow testicles. OK, I exaggerate ...
but not by much. LOL. You need Chinese angelica root aka dang gui to those who can mouth Chinese. Dang gui is a fairly strong smelling and tasting herb that has many uses. It strengthens the blood and is especially good for women. I remember my grandfather telling me that women going through their menstrual cycles or just after childbirth can drink a tea brewed with this herb. It helps in healing as it encourages tissue growth. Well, move over botox and your plastic-faced devotees.

You also need morinda root aka ba ji. This one is fairly new to me but apparently it is good for eliminating muscle atrophy and for arthritic patients, it is a real boon. Woo hoo .. a difinitely must have for me then! From what I read, ba ji should be good for peeps who are Viagra addicts. It is supposed to help in impotence and infertility and "pain in loins" - cor! You know I am almost afraid to ask why anyone would have "pain in loins". But moving swiftly on ... The other herb in the mix is cistanche aka rou cong rong. Not sure what it does yet but I've seen it used many times and I reckon it helps in enhancing your kidneys too.

The last herb is one of my faves. Wolfberries aka gou qi. My grandfather used to make soups and add these, telling me to eat up as they'd make my eyes sharp like a hawk. Many bowls of soup later and with a degree of 500 in each eye, I still eat them for their taste. So here is my modified Grouper Soup with Angelica ... now known as Catfish on a Hot Tin Stove. Why tin stove? Because I always find that when cooking Chinese herbal soup, it is better cooked on a gas stove versus a electric stove. Remember to use only earthernware pots. No metal or enamel pots as they interfer with the herbs. Right ... to work.

Catfish On a Hot Tin Stove

500 g catfish

6g Chinese angelica root aka dang gui

9g morinda root aka ba ji

9g cistanche aka rou cong rong

12g wolfberries aka gou qi

1 cube chicken stock

5 cups water

1. Really, really clean your fish. Make sure there is no trace of blood left or it's gonna be fishy as all get out. Not a good thing when mixed with Chinese herbs.

2. Boil 5 cups of water in an earthen pot vigorously.

3. Rinse the herbs and add to the pot and cover.

4. Bring it to the boil, then lower the heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes.

5. If your fish is big, chop it in half and add to the pot.

6. Cover and keep simmering for 10 minutes.

7. Crumble the cube of chicken stock into the soup and simmer for another 5 minutes.

8. Serve immediately. Never, ever have herbal soup at any temperature but hot.

I must say the soup was still a bit too fishy for my liking but it was very hearty indeed. I had the entire pot without any other accompaniment. And I was stuffed. But I felt distinctly healthy after that. I'm not sure if it is the herbal concoction's benefits kicking in already or just a psychological effect from knowing all the properties of the herbs.

Everytime I brew a herbal dish or read up on Chinese herbs, I think of my grandfather. Every mouthful of gou qi laden soup carries with it the twinkle in my grandfather's eyes as he encourages me to eat the tender little morsels. When I cook with my claypot, I think of the morning exercises between a grandfather and his 3-year-old grand-daughter .. hefting giant claypots like weights to build strong biceps. Ah, those were the days. I miss my grandfather and wish I had paid more attention all those times he talked about herbs. I did not realise then as I do now that he was teaching me to follow in his footsteps.

I am well pleased with this dish for its health benefits but not so much for the taste. I would give it a 8.5/10 for health benefits and about 6.5/10 for taste. Perhaps catfish was too strong tasting a fish for this soup. Next time I will try a milder fish like sea bass or grouper as originally suggested.

Categories - In Hot Soup, Fish Tales, Chinese Herbs

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Pineapple Poison

I swear I've been poisoned. The lunch today tasted weird to me. I am deathly allergic to pineapple and after a bad incident in the office when the boss' maid made pineapple rice and I ate it without thinking ... well ...

Anyway, today's lunch was this yellow fried rice. I ate it and felt that it tasted weird and my tongue is tingling and my stomach is hurting now. I think it had pineapple in it although the maid swears there isn't. Not feeling too good now. Can't wait to go home and eat some of my comforting Portguess Sausages & Kai Lan soup leftover from last night.

I think the maid did add pineapple to the rice and is just too scared to own up. Cripes, I feel like shite.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Portuguess Kielbasa & Kale Soup

I decided I was going to eat better and cook more. So there I was trawling through my recipe books, my recipe folders on my PC and the Internet, when I discovered a recipe for Portuguese Kielbasa & Kale Soup. For some reason, my first thought was ... eh? This sounds more Jewish to me ... the kielbasa perhaps? Or does it sound more Southern .. must be the kale. Then I remembered that I have a packet of mixed sausages in the freezer from a forgotten and misbegotten idea of midnight feasts of sausages and eggs.

Well, this is promising then. There were only a couple of catches. One, I had mixed sausages, not kielbasa. Never mind, creativity and versatility are my middle names ... after glutton. Two, I don't think you can get kale here. Oh well. I have sausages and I am gonna use them if it kills me.

Off I troop to Carrefour. For some misguided reason, I thought it might be quiet as it's National Day. Wrong! Sigh. Gamely, I arm myself with a trolley. The large one, not those wimpy, half-baked, no-bottom ones. As I suspected, they do not have kale. I decide that kai lan would be a half-decent substitute. Except I cannot find the kai lan! What kind of supermarket is this??? Oh wait ... a French supermarket in Singapore. Silly me. I did find those baby kai lan packets and took one just in case. I finally spotted some kai lan hidden bashfully behind an over abundance of chye sim. And well they should be ashamed! They were yellowed, limp and looked like they came by way of Afghanistan! Bullet-ridden .. what is with the holes???

I throw them back in disgust. The woman next to me shuffles away, casting wary glances at me. I trundled off in disgust and catch some loud woman hollering like a fishmonger at the end of the aisle. Wait .. it is the fishmonger. Apparently they have a promotion for 3 fishes of any kind for $12.90. Cool! Was not planning to have fish till the weekend but if the fish was fresh and good, I can always freeze them. Happily I walked up and ... what's this? Catfish! Score!!!! Memories of my uncle's fabulous Chinese herbal catfish soup are literally tickling my tastebuds.

I finally buy my catfish despite the fishmonger's attempt to dissuade me. She'd taken one look of me and came to the erroneous conclusion that I was a fit freak. "The catfish is too oily and fatty for you. You won't like it," she says kindly. Bring it on!!! Anyway, I get the catfish and a sea bass which I was going to make into a Chinese herbal soup later. She recommended a fish that looked like a tanned and muscley pomfret at a quick glance. Kingfish. Beer? Eh ... "How do you cook it?" I ask. Apparently you can steam it or cook it in soup. OK, always game to try something new.

I get home and decided to do some research about this kingfish. Bugger! Double bugger!! Apparently the best way to prepare kingfish is to have it raw. Now you tell me??!! After I'd frozen it. Sigh. Oh well, I'll go Indian on it then .. or maybe Thai. We'll see.

So, I start making the Portuguese Kielbasa & Kale soup which by now is The Portuguess Sausage & Kai Lan Soup. Here's my modified recipe - oh, by the way, I cook for myself so all my recipes would usually feed 2-3 unless I am having freeloaders over for din din:

About 6 mixed sausages
1 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
3 gloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
About 8 bunches of baby kai lan
1 can chicken broth
2 cups water (you can use more if you like it more liquid, like I do)
1 carrot, coarsely sliced
1/4 tsp ground oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp dried majoram leaves
1/4 cup rice - rinsed

1. Saute the garlic and onion till fragrant
2. Add the sausages & as you are frying them, cut them roughly into large chunks with your spatula, ladle, whatever
3. When they are slightly browned, add the broth, water, carrots, spices and season with salt and pepper
4. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and cook for about 5-8 mins more
5. Add the kai lan and rice and bring to boil again
6. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 15 mins till the rice is fully cooked

There you go. I was rather pleased with my soup and I even had enough to pack a small tupperware - leftover soup is the best! I can't wait. I had 2 bowls - such restrain *failing to mention the size of bowls* - followed by really yummy grapes from the US I got from Carrefour. $2.90 for a nice pack. Sweet! All in all, I would rate the soup a 7/10 for taste and heartiness and maybe a 8/10 for health-worthiness. It really depends on the sausages you are using and also the amount of oil you use.

So, it was a decent dinner and I am a fairly happy camper. Although I am still miffed about the kingfish and have a real urge to go back to Carrefour to give the fishmonger what for. Or just to get another kingfish so I can make an intriguing recipe of Raw Sliced Kingfisher ala Kylie Kwong. Not sashimi grade kingfisher but I can modify it and make it more of a ceviche. Hmmm ...

Categories - In Hot Soup, Meat Me for Dinner