Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fiery Pumpkin Dip

BBQ last night in a friend's place, and I made 2 dips for the bread & chips. Salsa, as usual, is always welcoming and is a dip that never goes wrong for a party. I didn't expect everybody love this pumpkin dip. So decided to share the recipe here :)

This orange color dip offers a rich combination of sweet, spicy and fiery flavours. My cookbook actually had a warning line on this page: Be Warned - once you start dipping, it's hard to stop!

Original Recipe

  • 600 gram / 1 lb 5 oz butternut squash or pumpkin. seeded, peeled, and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt & grounded black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon granted fresh root ginger
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
My Recipe (with variation in ingredients, served 10+ people in the party)
  • half Chinese pumpkin (around 2.5 lbs), seeded, peeled, and cut into chunks
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt & grounded black pepper to taste
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed & peeled
  • 1 big cube fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 red dried chilli (the mini one from Southeast Asia), seeded and finely chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  1. Preheat oven for 5 mins.
  2. Put pumpkin in a baking dish, drizzle over 2 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes, 10 mins each side, or until tender.
  4. Put the pumpkin, garlic, giner, chilli, and remaining oil into a blender. Process until smooth.
  5. Squeeze in lemon juice and check the season to taste.

Cooking Tips
  • The thinner chunks of pumpkin you cut, the less roasting time. I used microwave oven instead of real oven. With the microwave + grill function, it only took 15 mins to soften the pumpkins, while 20 mins with the grill only function.
  • Why I use Chinese pumpkin? 2 reasons: It's easy and cheap to get in fresh market here, and it taste better for dips & soups compared to Japanese pumpkins.
  • Can serve hot, warm or cold. It will thicken on cooling. Give a good stir before serving.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Innovative Wine Tasting Bar

Wine tastings became fun with gimmicky Enomatic Wine Serving System. Enomatic is a state-of-the-art computer controlled wine serving system that monitors the operation of each bottle and allows the poured wine to be set to any quantity. The unit features individual bottle positions that can adapt to different sized bottles, electronic push-button operation, and back-lit display. The anti-oxidation feature is automatically activated whenever a new bottle is added in the system. The computer also tells the restaurant how long a bottle has been in the Enomatic.

I visited the Tasting Wine Bar in Hong Kong on Friday night. You can taste a wide selection of wines with a variety of prices, that wouldn’t usually be offered by the glass. The bar offers 40 varieties of wines (32 Reds, 7 Whites, 1 Rose), from Old to New World wines. Many of them are unable to sample in normal restaurants / bars without purchasing the whole bottle. Instead of spending more than $500 for a bottle of wine, I can taste half portion of the same wine for $89. They even have wine from Lebanon. They also offer tapas & cheeses (free one serving during happy hours), which are excellent companion to wines. I poured my own glass of wine without touching a bottle!

How does the Digital Wine Cellar works?
  1. First, you walk over to a big glass-fronted box with wine bottles in it.
  2. Insert a prepaid debit card
  3. Hold your wineglass under a spout
  4. Press a button
  5. and -- Huhuu -- dispenser pour your Shiraz.

You have 3 choices to choose from the system:-
(1) By the glass (150ml)
(2) Half glass (75ml), or
(3) Tasting portion (25ml)

Each bottle is marked with the price per different serving size. The prices changes on a digital display. Cost wise, for tastings portion (i.e. 25ml), price ranging from HK$14 to HK$170 at the top end (Vintage 1997) .

The downsides of this bar was that the lights were too bright, and the low ceilings made the room very noisy and when crowded with people. Service could be improved though.

Where can I find this wine machine in Hong Kong?

Sky Lounge at Sheraton Hotel
Address : 20 Nathan Road, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Tel : +(852) 2369 1111
Opening Hour : Mon-Thur 16:00-01:00; Fri 16:00-02:00; Sat 14:00-2:00; Sun 14:00-01:00

Tastings Wine Bar
Address : 27-29 L/G Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong.
Tel : +(852) 2523 6282
Opening Hour : Mon-Sat 17:00-02:00 (Sun Closed)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Best Avocado Juice in Town

Started business in year 1990, this is the first original Avocado juice (well, it's more like a milk shake) stall in Alexandra Village, not sure if it's the first in Singapore though.

I have tried many different Avocado shake, this stall still the best. It's just so fresh & creamy. Absolutely delightful.

Besides Avocado juice, this stall also sells other exotic drinks, such as beet root, strawberry + soursoup, apple + carrots, etc. Many of the new flavors are worth trying.

Avocado shake originated form Indonesia. It's a simple mix of fresh avocados, evaporated milk & brown coconut sugar (gula melaka). For variation, some people like to add vanilla icecream and blend it together with the other ingredients.

Benefits of Avocado Juice
Many have a wrong perception that avocado juice is fattening. In fact, avocado contains a good supply of carotene. It contains no less than 11 vitamins and 17 minerals, with rich vitamins A, D, and E, which are good for human skin.

Mr. Avocado

Address: #01-19 AV Hawker Centre, BLK 120, Bukit Merah Lane 1, Singapore 150120.

Opening Hours: 09:30 - 21:00 (Sat Closed)

Phone: +65 9663 1648

Price: SG$2/glass

What is Bird's Nest?

What is Bird's Nest?
Bird's Nest (in Chinese:
燕窩) has been know & used by Chinese communities for centuries as a health food. It is actually the salivary glue of Swiftlets (Collocaliini) taken from their nests. Swiftlets are distributed mainly in the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and North Australia. With it high market value, Bird's nest has been promoted by marketers as highly nutrition food, which is good for skin, anti-aging, lowering risk of disease, and longer life span. Traditionally, it is double boiled with rock sugar. Many celebrities and riches claimed to eat Bird's nest everyday.

What is the Nutrition Value of Bird's Nest?
According to scientific research, bird's nest contains mainly carbohydrates, amino acids and mineral salts, glycoproteins, sialic acid, galactosamine, glucosamine, galactose, fucose, etc. Sialic acid has advantages in infants. While some amino acid found can facilitate body's repairing and immunity.

Is Bird's Nest Good or Bad for Cancer Patients?
Scientific evidence was given by Ng et al. (1986) in Hong Kong, suggested that bird's nest might possess immunoenhancing effect by aiding cell division of immune cells. In 1987, other scientific evidence was published by Kong et al, demonstrated an epidermal growth factor (EGF) that stimulated the DNA synthesis in 3T3 fibroblast in a dose dependent manner in vitro. EGF is a 6,000 Da polypeptide hormone produced by glands of the gastrointestinal tract, namely the salivary and Brunner's glands. It appears to play a crucial role in major normal cellular processes such as proliferation, differentiation and development. It may offer a rationale for the medicinal use of edible bird's nest in ageing resistance. Since the receptor for EGF is highly expressed in a number of solid tumors, including breast, head-and-neck, non-small-cell lung, renal, ovarian and colon cancer, people are worried about a possibility to induce tumor progression and to resist chemotherapy/radiation treatment in tumor cells; in consequence, suggest that cancer patients should avoid bird's nest. However, there is no evidence supporting this suggestion. Scientific evidence for its efficacy is still limited.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Banana Curry

An interesting & healthy vegetarian recipe. The banana flavor actually is very subtle. It actually taste like beans curry, not sweet dessert at all. It is quick & easy to prepare, and the flavor can be adjusted according to your taste buds.

Here is a recipe from the UKTV:

Green Banana - 5 underripe
Vegetable Oil - 2 to 3 tablespoons
Onion - 1 finely chopped
Curry paste - 1 tablespoon
Coconut Milk - 400ml
Corainder - 3 tablespoons

  1. Slice the bananas into slices about 2.5cm thick
  2. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry the banana slices in batches, until lightly browned on each side. Drain on kitchen paper.
  3. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occassionally, until soft.
  4. Return the banana slices to the pan and stir in curry paste. Pour over half the coconut milk and stir well. Cook for 10 minutes on a low heat. Season.
  5. Pour the remaining coconut milk and simmer until the mixture thickens and the bananas break down a little. Garnish with coriander and serve with rice.

Where you can eat banana curry in Singapore?
Bollywood Veggies Farm
Address: 100 Neo Tiew Road, Singapore 719026 (Kranji)
Tel: +65 6898 5001
Fax: +65 6898 2013
Opening Hours: 09:00-18:00 (Mon & Tue Closed)

Depot Road Zhen Shan Mei Calypot Laksa

A 15-year-old Laska Shop, which have been voted for the BEST LASKA in town. Many magazines, TV & celebrities also recommend.

What so special about the Laksa here?

Most places serve laksa in plastic bowls. Here, the laksa comes in steamy in original claypot. Claypot not only keeping the laksa hot, it also trap the spicies and flavor into it. The older claypot they use, the more flavor you taste. The soup base here is very rich & thick. Unlike Katong Laksa which is more soupy.

The service staff normally ask if you want to add cockle (sea hum). If you're allergy to seafood or have sensitive skins, suggest to skip it.

Depot Road Zhen Shan Mei Calypot Laksa

Address: Stall #01-75, AV Hawker Centre, BLK 120, Bukit Merah Lane 1, SIngapore 150120.

Opening Hour: 08:30 - 15:30 (Monday Closed)

Price: SG$3.5/Small; SG$4.5/Midium; SG$5.5/Large

Kalimeris Indica & Tofu Salad

Kalimeris Indica & Tofu Salad (in Chinese: 涼伴香乾馬蘭頭) is one of my favourite Chinese cold dish. This cold salad dish originated in Shanghai. It is also a popular appetizer in restaurants.

Kalimeris Indica (馬蘭頭) - 250g
Dried Tofu (豆腐干) - 2 pieces
Salt - 1 teaspoon
Sugar - 1/2 teaspoon
Sesame Oil - sprinkle

  1. Wash Kalimeris Indica, boil it for 2 minutes. Drain the water, let dry & cool.
  2. Chop the Kalimeris Indica after it is cold.
  3. Cut Dried Tofu into tiny pieces
  4. Mixed Salt, Sugar, Sesame Oil, Soya Sauce, Kalimeris Indica, Dried Tofu together.
  5. Can put everything in the fridge after mixing, and serve when you want to eat it.
Cooking Tips:
Kalimeris Indica must be well drained & dried before chopping.

Kalimeris (Chinese: Ma-Lan-Tou) is a small genus with 8 species from the sunflower family. The genus occurs mainly in eastern Asia (China, Korea, Japan). The foliage is herbaceous. The blue-green leaves vary per species and are smooth tectured. The can be narrow and long, round and large teeth or lobed.

It usually grown on riverside or roadside, thus, people also called it "sidewalk chrysanthemum".

People eat Kalimeris Indica because it is highly nutrition. Besides protien, fat, carbohydrate, it also contains rich inorganic salt & vitamins. Its Vitamin A contents is higher than tomato, while Vitamin C content is higher than mandarin orange.

It is believed to be good for the liver, eyesight, and can control blood pressure.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Taipei Travel Guide Book

I came acorss this Taipei Travel Guide Book when browsing around in bookstore in Hong Kong. By far the best Travel Guide Book to Taiwan I've read, even if you're not on a budget. It describes both the well know sight seeing places, and many great restaurants, some of them out-of-thay-way local eateries. One could hardly find them without a book.

Although it is written in Chinese, but you don't actually need to read Chinese to use the book. My Ang-mo friend found it so handy by just looking at the pictures. He simply showed the book to taxi driver, and pointed to the address written on it.

Seriously, this kind of guide books are very popular in Hong Kong and Japan. I wonder why there's no English version, and I couldn't find it in Singapore! It's just so handy and easy to use.

But don't worry. I found out a link here, where you can buy the book directly from Ming Pao online.