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Beautiful spices for the pho broth

Ever since fentastic mum’s blog post about cooking pho from scratch (thank you!!!), I have been dreaming about making some myself. Her recipe was chicken pho, but because Bry’s favorite type of pho is with beef stock, I looked for a different recipe and found one from Luke Nguyen who is an Australian celebrity chef. I figured: celebrity chef, of Vietnamese heritage and host of a cooking show dedicated to Vietnamese food…his pho recipe must be at least better than average.

And boy was it even better than better than average! And it’s really not difficult to make, at all!

Even Benji, who is quite a fussy eater, and who was trying out pho for the first time, LOVED IT and kept asking for more! There’s definitely going to be more pho in our household in the weeks to come.

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The meal

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Benji literally licking the bowl that had pho

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Benji’s been enjoying some pretty delicious homemade purées. Today’s brekkie (Australian slang for breakfast), made by his dad: apple, pear, and strawberry purée with organic oatmeal porridge and some fork mashed fresh sweet papaya.

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For those who know me personally, or have known me from reading my blog, you’ll know that both Bry and I are foodies. We love eating and making foods from a lot of different cultures. It also helps that both Bry and I, although we look fairly similar in skin, eye, and hair color, are actually of different cultural backgrounds: he is Korean-American who was born and bred in Los Angeles, and I am Singaporean Chinese. Through him, I got a solid introduction to Korean food (among other foods such as Mexican, which seems to be more of a comfort food to him than Korean – Hmmm!, Southern, and Jewish) and I LOVE it.

Over the years, I picked up a few Korean recipes from his mom and after Benji was born, she wrote me telling me to make Myeok Guk (seaweed soup) which was a staple post-partum dish in the Korean culture. It is supposed to be rich in calcium and iodine, which is said to help with the supply and quality of breast milk. At that time, my mom who flew over from Singapore to help me out with my post-partum cultural confinement was already making me all sorts of post-partum dishes (which were awesomely delicious, by the way) so I did not make it until much later. But OH MY when I did, I just wanted to keep eating it. The Koreans really know what they’re doing, making a winning combination of both healthy and tasty food. My mother-in-law was pleased that I made the soup and enjoyed it so much. In fact, even Bry had some of it and demanded for more. Apparently, this soup is also traditionally served at birthdays. I think in our household it will be enjoyed at anytime, just because it’s so yummy.

It’s also simple to whip up, so busy moms can make this easily. The only trick is getting the seaweed, which would be available at any Korean grocery store if you can get to one. The recipe I used was mostly “by taste.”  Here’s an actual recipe if you want to try it out. In one version, I used ground pork and marinated it for a couple hours in soy sauce, crushed garlic, and sesame oil, then sauteed it, added some chicken stock (was lazy!), then the seaweed, and let the ingredients cook for about 30 minutes, and the soup was done!

(A side note: I’m really into cross-cultural experiences and love how every culture seems to have their own post-partum beliefs and staple foods to help with breastmilk quality and supply. A friend of mine who is Russian Jew swears by cow’s milk and said to have it with tea “mother’s milk tea.” in the Philippines, I believe, it’s green papaya, in Cantonese, it’s red snapper, in Korea it’s seaweed. In the west, it’s milk tea, too, and fenugreek. Here’s an interesting article to read about cross cultural post-partum beliefs. )

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Bry made a big pot of beef goulash for our dinner yesterday. Goulash originates from Hungary and is basically a stew seasoned with paprika and other spices. I’ve had a lot of different stews before and this was particularly nice and surprisingly light. I’m not quite sure which recipe he followed…but here is one that looks pretty good.

Laksa, or spicy curry noodles, is one of those foods that you find so commonly in Singapore for cheap, you don’t have to ever bother making it at home. So, I never did…neither did my mom, aunts, or even my grandmothers. It was also never something I really, really craved so I never quite bothered finding out what goes in it; and even if I did feel like eating it, I was happy to pay the exorbitant $9 or $10 here in Australia to have that taste from home.

It was only recently, after Bry suddenly fell in love with laksa and quizzed me on how to make it, that I decided to look up the recipe and give it a shot.

SO, I tried this laksa recipe or the first time everrr to celebrate Singaporean National Day last week and really liked it! The recipe was also really straightforward, to my surprise. On the recipe, I substituted rock sugar with palm sugar, the chili paste with chili powder, and also approximated a lot of the ingredients, especially chili portions (coz we both LOVE spicier versions). I should’ve made more broth…and will remember to do that next time.

Will definitely be making laksa again sometime soon!

To mark the end of the Masterchef Australia season, I tried this new cooking technique I learned from watching the show: smoking meat. I used salmon because it smokes/cooks really quickly AND because, a pregnant woman needs her Omega-3 nutrients from the fish!

With a wok, some aluminum foil, brown sugar, fresh tea leaves, metal rack, and a lid,…here’s what I did:

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Put tea leaves, brown sugar, and some water in an aluminum foil, and line the wok with that foil. Then place a rack over the foil, cover the wok with a lid, and turn on a medium heat. Once the tea leaves begin to smoke…

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Rub the salmon with some salt first. Then, add in the salmon on the wire rack and cover the lid. Let the smoke and heat cook the salmon for about 15 mins. The salmon will be beautifully smoked and flaky.

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Use your smoked salmon in whatever way you want. I used it in my home-made pesto based spaghetti with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. I was extremely pleased with this dish. The pink of the salmon also looked amazingly fresh and vibrant. Needless to say, Bry really, really enjoyed this dish, too, which made me even more delighted.

I’m anticipating more smoking in the future!

Tip: keep your windows open when you smoke this. You want as much ventilation as possible as it gets pretty smoky when you do this.

Tip for home-made pesto: I added a few drops of lime in my pesto and the zesty flavor complemented the basil herbs and cheese pretty well.

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Lamb ragù with parmesan cheese on home-made fettucine

Inspired by all the cooking shows we’ve been watching, my husband decided to make some delicious lamb ragù, a french stew…and inspired by him, I decided to whip out the pasta machine we just purchased a few weeks ago and try my hand at churning out home-made fettucine. The lamb ragù was left in a slow cooker for nearly 7 hours and had the a beautiful, melt in your mouth texture, and delicious flavor. And the home-made pasta was markedly better than any of our store bought dried pasta ever.

It’s so fun cooking with someone else, and even more so when that person is your husband.

Go team B&C!