Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Porky Night

♥ home-made charsiew
This is yet another pinkcocoa's kitchen project.

This one is inspired by Renee of Shiokadelicious simple recipe on making char siew (chinese sweet barbeque pork). I developed a long craving for char siew kolo mee and was about to grab myself the charsiew sauce from Lee Kum Kee to make my own char siew when Renee's recipe came in the right time.

I was very tempted to buy char siew from one of the chinese bbq store in chinatown but I dont quite like the way they chop up the char siew when you buy take-away instead of dining in. The meat is not sliced up thinly like you would have enjoyed if dining in. The chef simply chopped up the large chunk of meat in pieces. It's a very care-free way of chopping i must say. Often the meat is so chunky that it's too hard to chew. Either I bear with the chunkiness and chewiness or I have to slice them up again myself . But what's the point of take-away when you have to get your hands on it to make it edible.

This char-siew is made without the food colouring and I have to agree that maltose indeed produces an unique aroma to the marinade. I had fun as a little girl playing with the maltose and eating them. Dip the spoon into the maltose and pull, pull, pull. how fun! Mum used to bring back large can of maltose from taiwan and if I was good, I got to eat this yummies by dipping in a metal spoon and pull, pull, pull. Twirl the maltose around the spoon. Instant lollypop!

♥ foodies date: 27 July 2004
♥ where: pinkcocoa's kitchen

♥ marinating!
I used about half a kilo of pork shoulder. My butcher adviced me that pork neck is used in the making of char-siew because of its higher fat content. I was going to buy pork neck at first but sadly my butcher wont cut it into long strip. He cuts them into large round roll. So i decided to use shoulder instead and cut them into strips myself. I made the marinade for 1kg quantity even though i only used half a kg of pork. I would just like to have a lot of leftover sauces. *grin* You can call me sauce-maniac! I can see the marinade in my other dishes too. hmmm Very nice in kolo mee too!

By the way, I marinaded them in the fridge overnight. ShinChan commented that I should have marinaded it longer! Maybe next time i should start marinading the morning the day before the night cooking it. That's only ShinChan's comment though. I find the char-siew very well macerated already. Heavy-taste eater! *pinkcocoa shaking her head*

♥ before
I followed Renee's recipe closely. Call me a copycat! I was worried about the dryness of roast so i decided to follow in Renee's footstep and added hot water to the roasting pan to keep the roast moist.

♥ and after!
Even without the red food colouring, the char-siew still bore a redness to it! The picture is a little deceiving because the meat appeared so much redder than its deeper darker red. Not sure how to describe the colour exactly. Perhaps i can call it caramel red?

I didnt cook for the charred bits by basting the char-siew with warm maltose and chuck back in the oven for 5min. Charred bits arent that good for health so best to avoid them wheneven you can!

♥ basting with more marinade
I don't have a pastry/basting brush or brush of any kind so I used a spoon and sprinkle little bits of the marinade (re-boiled or course) onto the char-siew.

♥ bbq pork kolo mee
Here you goes. My long craving finally satisfied! This is ShinChan's portion of bbq pork kolo mee.His kolo mee is of the saltier side; made using a tbsp of charsiew marinade, 2 tbsp of taiwanese dark soy paste and a few drops of sesame oil plus a pinch of salt.

♥ pinkcocoa's baby kolomee
I had a smaller portion. I like my kolomee sweeter so it's 1 tbsp plus a little more of the marinade, a hint of oyster sauce and pinch of salt.

I do have to mention that my char-siew is a little dry because i over-cooked it a little. But thanks to the hot water in the roasting pan, it wasnt as dry as I thought it would be. My char-siew pieces were a little smaller and i should have adjusted the cooking time. I used 10minutes interval but with the small size, I think 5-7min would be more appropriate. So hopefully my next char-siew project will be a moist and softer one!

On another thought, it might be the type of pork i used too. The shoulder I bought was lean without much fat. So perhaps i really should just buy a large chunk of pork neck and make char-siew in large batches.

♥ konnyaku basted in char-siew marinade
I have a rice-bowlful of char-siew marinade leftover. While using it as a dressing on the blanched kailan, I thought the marinade might give my konnyaku a nice flavour. So i basted my konnyaku in about a generous tablespoon of the marinade and let simmer until all the marinade has been absorbed. Afterwhich i mixed in some chopped shallots to give the dish a nice colour.

For many in search of a healthy diet would have come to know about konnyaku, a translucent, gelatinous cake made from the starch of a yam-like tuber known as devil's tongue (duped from epicurous food dictionary). It has no noticeable flavour, no fat. Its high fibre content and low calorie means it is a dieter's delight! It helps with passing problems too i heard.

Find out more about konnyaku here. I used noodle-type konnyaku here. It is readily available Asian groceries stores. I have yet to try out the block-type, found in fridge section of the store.

♥ ShinChan's BBQ pork bento
I always pack a bento for ShinChan whenever I cook. I dont cook extra dishes for bento though. Whatever we have for dinner will be his bento the next day. I wonder if he ever gets tired of eating my bento. It can be boring to eat the same dinner and lunch!

I still have half a bowl-ful of marinade leftover in the fridge. The marinade bears exactly the same taste of dressing you get in chinese bbq restaurant! I cant believe how easy it is to made. I think the maltose gives the marinade a distinct taste. Yessss! Maltose is the way to go!

What happened to the other half-bowlful of marinade? ShinChan is the one to ask! He enjoyed the marinade so much that he ate a large amount of kailan (which he doesnt quite like) with the marinade drizzled onto. Maybe i can get him to eat bittergourd next time with the marinade! *evil grin*
Continue Reading Porky Night


Monday, July 26, 2004

Midnight Sweets

♥ dead easy french dessert: creme caramel
This is yet another pinkcocoa's kitchen production. I came upon a dead easy creme caramel recipe while browsing at one of my favourite taiwanese tv program called "I've got a crazy idea". It's an innovative home idea show and I picked up quite a lot of good tips on 'house management' from watching the show.

I read about the super easy recipe on creme caramel using microwave last night and the recipe somehow was just stuck in my mind for the whole night until I could no longer hold myself but rushed into the kitchen to make this scrumptious dessert right in the middle of the night at 1.30am!

♥ foodies date:
25th July 2004, early in the morning 1.30am
♥ where: pinkcocoa's kitchen
I found the recipe here.
I mucked around with the original recipe and here's my version:

♥ Dead Easy Creme Caramel
for the caramel:
1tbsp sugar
1tbsp water

Mix sugar and water in a bowl. Heat in microwave on high for 1minute. Let it cool a little and pour into individual mould or container. A mug or a small bowl works fine here. I used my soup bowl to make one large one.

♥ caramel
This is my caramel after my third attempt. Look at the lovely brown colour! It's really not that hard making caramel except that my microwave (not really mine. It's my flatmate's) is already at a retired age. Mind you, it's really old. What takes 1minute to heat up in a 'normal' microwave takes 4min with mine. I still haven't mastered my skill in using this old-age microwave so I burnt my caramel twice. If your sugar hasnt yet caramelised after 1min, simply heat it again in 10sec sequence until you get a nice caramel texture.

For the creme:
200ml milk
50g sugar
2 eggs, beaten

1. Mix milk and sugar together and heat in microwave on high for 10-15sec. this is just to make sure an even mix of the two.
2. Mix beaten egg into the sugar-milk mixture evenly.
3. Strain the egg mixture through a sieve and pour into mould.
4. Heat on high in microwave for 4minutes.
5. Flip over the mould onto a plate and serve! It's nice cold too. I had mine cold.

I followed the original recipe and heat it on high for 4minutes. But just as the microwave process entered into its 4th minute, the egg mixture started to dance a little in my bowl. I could also see my creme caramel is starting to burn from the middle. There's something odd about my microwave. The food always start burning from the middle as opposed to burning from the edge. It just doesnt make sense. Also it doesnt seem to be able to handle liquid stuff. Last time I tried melting chocolate and it burnt so badly even though i only heat it for 1min. And that's on medium too.

♥ freshly out from the microwave
You can see that the creme is starting to form a curd-like texture because it's been heated too long. Strange thing that my creme caramel started to burn from the middle too. I wonder if it's the same with other microwave. (btw that's my hand you are seeing in the pics)

♥ after a night in the fridge
I decided to enjoy a cold creme caramel so I left it in the fridge. The creme caramel seemed to have contracted a little.

♥ flip it over!
Now you can see the burnt from the middle very clearly. But I was surprised to find a well-formed and yummilicious-looking dessert once I flipped it over.

♥ creme caramel with strawberry
It's all about hiding your bad points and showing only your good one. I used strawberries to hide the ugly burnt in the middle.

♥ the inner side of creme caramel
As you can see from the pics, the creme caramel wasnt silky and smooth. My suspicion is that the dancing that it did in the microwave (naughty naughty creme caramel!) resulted in the bee-hive texture. However it was only the middle bits that was not smooth, the outer ring of the creme caramel is smoother but I wouldnt describe it as silky. The overall taste was ok, if only the texture is more silky. My fault for over-heating it.

♥ adjustments to the recipe:
1. Heat the creme caramel in the microwave on medium for 4 minutes. If it's not done, add another 30sec to it, repeating this step until it is done.
2. Make sure you stand in front of your microwave to observe any changes in the creme caramel. I left the kitchen after I placed it into microwave and found my creme caramel doing a little dirty dancing inside when I returned! The dirty dancing ruined its silkiness.
3. Alternately, I would choose to steam the creme caramel using my taiwanese cooker. I think this would ensure the silkiness. Remember to make sure the water is boiling and steaming before placing to cook. It would take roughly about 10-15min to cook. A trick to make perfect steam egg is to slip a chopstick on each end of the wok under the lid so there's a slight gap. I can't remember the terminology behind it but it's smart advice from my good old granny.

This was my first attempt at making a french dessert: creme caramel. It didnt go too well but didnt go too bad either. There's still more room for improvement!
Continue Reading Midnight Sweets


Saturday, July 24, 2004

love love love

Havent been out to munch much lately so I am digging out pics from my photo album to see if there is something I can blog about. Finally I found this bento (lunchbox) that I made for ShinChan on 'white day'. More pinkcocoa's home cooking!

© foodies date: 14th March 2004 - white day
© where: pinkcocoa's kitchen

♥ white day bento
we enjoyed the bento along with starbucks mocha frappucino on a sunny day in darling harbour.

ou must be wondering what is 'white day'. White day falls just 1 month after St Valentine's day. I havent yet heard of any other countries celebrating white other than japan. Yup. This is just another excuse for me as a japanese fanatic to pamper my sweet tooth.

The japanese celebrates St Valentine's day a little different. On St Valentine's day, ladies of all ages present the special gentlemen in their lives with chocolate (usually homemade) to express their affections. This type of chococlate gift is titled 'honmei choco'. On the other hand, there is also 'giri choco' otherwise known as 'obligatory chocolate' or in my own words 'friendly chocolate'. These are given to guy friends, superior at work and colleagues.

White day was believed to be invented by a marshmallow company in a 1965 campaign to urge gentlemen to 'repay' ladies of their Valentine's gift. White day balances out the one-sidedness of st valentine's day in japan. I have also heard of another version of white day. Guys who receive honmei choco on st valentine's would in return present the ladies who gave them honmei choco with gifts if they agree to accept the ladies' love. On acceptance of white day's gifts, they officially become an item.

In simpler term, st valentine's day: ladies express their love to the gentlemen they admire. White days: gentlemen express their gratitude and love in return.

And now you must be wondering why I was making a white day bento for ShinChan. No, I do not have sexuality confusion. Thank you. hmm. I guess I just felt like making something for ShinChan that day.

pinkcocoa's white day bento
♥ taiwanese 'three-cupped chicken'
(braised chicken in sesame fragranced sweet soy sauce & basil)
♥ blanched asparagus
♥ seaweed salad
♥ ham & corn scrambled egg

♥ taiwanese 'three-cupped chicken'
This is another typical taiwanese dish. The funny name is translated directly from its chinese name. Just as the name indicates, it consists of 1 cup each of 3 different ingredients: sesame oil, soy sauce and cooking wine. Now you dont have to use up to 1 cup of each ingredients. Simply make sure that the three ingredients are of equal parts and you shall be fine.

This is my own recipe and I havent actually followed any recipe. I heard about the concept and just decided to try making it at home. Surprisingly, it was a success. Again this is done with the 'agar-agar' (estimation) method so you can always adjust the quantity to your liking. By the way this is a healthier version of the original where the chicken is deep fried first. The sesame oil and fresh basil are what gives this dish its unique tastes so they must not be left out.

4 chicken wings. chop into 3 sections of drums, middle wings & tips*
3 tbsp sesame oil**
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp cooking wine
1-2 tbsp sugar***
2-3 slices of ginger
2 cloves garlic
a bunch of fresh basil, pick the leaves and discard the stems.

1. heat sesame oil in wok and sautee the ginger and garlic until it is fragrance and a little dry.
2. add the chicken and brown all over.
3. stir in soy sauce, cooking wine and sugar
4. let simmer for 10-15minutes until the sauce is reduced to a thick sticky caramelised consistency
5. turn off heat and stir in fresh basil.

*use any chicken pieces you wish. this recipe can be used to cook squid, fish, pork, pippies etc. it is really versatile. when cooking seafood, reduced the sauce first then add in the seafood 5-8 minutes before it's done.
**i used less than 3tbsp of sesame oil. i dont quite like using oil in cooking but using equal part does produce a very unique fragrance to the dish. it's up to you.
***i like my dish sweet so i actually added in 2tbsp of sugar. if you favour more of a savoury taste, simply add in 1tbsp or even less if you wish.

O. Oops. After i typed up this recipe, I realised that i have post the same recipe a long time ago here. Aiks.

Sorry for the lack of pics in this blog. I didnt manage to snap a lot of pics for white day. By the way I received a large bouquet of beautiful flowers from ShinChan on White day. *excited*

♥ lovely flowers on white day - pinkcocoa is one lucky girl
Speaking of bento, I recently spotted a very cute bento box at the mca shop. It costs $29.95 for a two tier bento box by Hakoya. It comes in pink (rabbit icon), green (frog) and yellow (dog). Hakoya produces really cute and amazing bento box (like the purple and pink one there!). Some other favourites from the website are wooden bento box with rabbit imprint and 3 tier bento box - love the red and pink one at the bottom. now, with k working at mca...*grinning with evil thought*
Continue Reading love love love


Friday, July 23, 2004

Simple Cooking: Taiwanese Dinner

It has been a long time since i step foot into the kitchen and get my hands on some simple home-cooked meal. I developed a slight phobia of the kitchen ever since i found out that there were little cockroaches spunning around my kitchen. So much so for calling myself a hygienic freak (nature of virgo). What the heck was a dirty kitchen doing at my place? I was surprised to find that my flatmate couldn't care less about the horrible little creature living in the kitchen cabinet. She continued to cook and eat as usual. *shucks*

I didnt find out about the insects until I first stepped into the kitchen after 2 long months. gosh. I couldnt believe how filthy the kitchen has turned into in the 2 months when I basically live off on bread and bikkie i.e. no cooking at all. So I spent 2 whole days scrubbing and washing the kitchen from inside out. I disinfected all the kitchenware too. That was 2 whole days of hard work.

Okie. Enough of my whinge here. Sorry, I dragged the opening story on a little too long. Need a whinge just like those needing a smoke that's all. My main point is my kitchen is finally clean. I can start cooking again and to know that everything is safe to eat and use.

♥ foodies date: 22nd July 2004
♥ where: pinkcocoa's kitchen

♥ pinkcocoa's taiwanese dinner

ShinChan brought a large bag of fish cutlets over a few weeks ago. Nice one, ShinChan. Bringing uncooked food to keep at my place so I can cook for you! Smart.

pinkcocoa's kitchen dinner menu as at 22ndJuly
♥ ham & sweet corn soup*
♥ steamed swordfish in spicy bean sauce
♥ tomato scrambed egg
♥ stir fry cabbage


♥ greentea jelly**
♥ strawberries

* I cheated this time and used knorr instant soup package
** I made this using instant jelly pack too. Thanks to my dearest aunt in taiwan who sent me 4 packages of instant jelly powder. *muaks*

♥ steamed swordfish in spicy bean sauce
I have never excelled at seafood cooking. Mainly because my family isn't one that adores seafood. My mum doesnt really know much. Dad was always in charge of any fish dishes at home. And when he did, it was usually steamed whole fish. My grandma does either very simple steamed fish with gingers and shallots or it's pan-fried fish with soya sauce. Simple stuff really.

My version of steamed fish comes from a taiwanese cookbook. Here's the original recipe. I twisted it a bit by using spicy bean sauce.

1 whole white fish*
1 stick of shallots, chopped
2 slices of ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Spicy bean sauce:
2 tbsp bean sauce (dou ban jiang)**
1tbsp cooking wine
1tbsp soya sauce
1/2tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water
black pepper to taste

1. Cut the fish into 3 long slices and place onto a lightly greased plate.
2. Mince garlic and ginger. mix together bean sauce and water.
3. Stir fry ingredients in step(2) on high with a little oil. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir fry until mixed.
4. Scoop the sauce onto the fish and steam*** until cooked. About 15minutes. Make sure the water is boiling before you place the plate of fish in.
5. When done, simply sprinkle on some chopped shallots and serve.

* I used a piece of swordfish cutlet and halved all ingredients.
** I used chilli bean sauce by lee kum kee
*** I steamed the fish together with rice using my taiwanese electric cookpot. Time saving strategy!

♥ Tomato scrambled egg
This is a very common taiwanese dish. Every family has a different way of cooking it. For instance, k's version is different from mine. Hers is more salty whereas mine comes in a sweet and sour sauce. I havent really got a recipe for this because everything was done in the 'agar-agar' method.

I am an egg fiend. Whenever it's my turn to cook dinner, out of the 3 dishes I always manage to include an egg dish. If my home cooking becomes more regular, you will be seeing more of the different types of egg dishes from pinkcocoa's kitchen!

♥ stir fry cabbage
Just like the egg dish, my dinner is never completed without a vegetable dish. It's always simple vegetable dishes. Either poached veggies with some oyster sauce or stir fry them with a little crushed garlic.

This is a typical pinkcocoa's style dinner and what I consider as a balanced meal. The soup, egg and veggies are in a way condiments to compliment the main dish so they are always present whenever it's my turn to cook. Sometimes I get a little lazy and ditch the soup.

With the newly bought spicy bean sauce, I am thinking about making "ma po dou fu" (lady ma's beancurd). I wonder when will my next cooking crave comes about.....

lee kum kee chilli bean sauce
Continue Reading Simple Cooking: Taiwanese Dinner


Thursday, July 22, 2004


This was an 'end of degree' dinner. Nice term, Dont you reckon? The only thing was the dinner was held long before the much dreaded result was out and just a week after the exams was over. I was rotting at home each day until the result arrived in my mailbox. Alright. I am still rotting at home now. What to do? I am still waiting for the official transcript to be snailmailed to me. This is a long story and let's not mention it here.

Back to the main topic. Suminoya is an all-you-can-eat Japanese yakiniku restaurant in Sydney City. It is actually a chain (is this the corret term?) amongst the three famous all-you-can-eat yakiniku restaurants in Sydney held by IS holding pty ltd. Each of them is designed and decorated to aim at different classes and age groups of people. Suminoya is stylish, sophisticated and modern. A place for white collars. Its brothers: Rengaya in north sydney offers high class fine dining (i heard there is no more all-you-can-eat) and Kohya in Neutral Bay is more comfy and homey, ideal for families and students. Japanese indeed are very clever entrepreneur. The entire population is considered.

♥ foodies date: 10th July 2004
♥ where: Suminoya, Sydney CBD

Suminoya essentially means "the house of charcoal". Yakiniku means "grilled meat" or "bbq meat". in mandarin, it is pronounced as "shao rou" or in cantonese "siew yuk" which bears the same meaning as the cantonese or hk-style bbq pork with a crispy layer of skin attached i.e. not 'char siew'. However, they are totally different thing. Traditional yakiniku is cooked on a griddle over charcoal.

We were running a little late. Thanks to the congested traffic on Anzac Parade and in the city. *yuck* It started drizzling a little when we adjourned from the carpark to the restaurant. Then we got lost. We were told it's on martin place at the Castlereagh Street end. The truth is Suminoya is actually hidden in a small alley just off Castlereagh Street and near Martin Place. Not a top location I would say. Judging by its location and popularity, Suminoya must have had some really nice food.

We didnt manage to find the place. Someone actually came to fetch us. *blush* The moment we sat down, we were told to quickly make up our mind because we had a 90minutes limit the moment we start ordering. The next 90minutes flew through swiftly and before long my stomach was bulging.

The First Round

♥ uncooked chicken and beef
this is actually from our last order
We kindly ordered everything off the menu. We wanted to try out everything and then decided on what to order more of the next round. So everything it was from entree to vegetables to meat to rice dishes to salads and soups.

♥ wooshhhhhhh~ let's start cooking!
everything was shovered at top speed on to the griddle

The moment the huge platter of uncooked meat (I am saying meat here because I had no idea of what was what on the plate), the guys on the table told the table operative (aka waitress) to bring another plate of 'this', pointing to the large platter of uncooked meat. Sadly I didnt manage to capture any image of the huge platter. Before i could grab my camera, all the meat were shovered on to the bbq griddle to be cooked. Everyone looked really hungry.

The Second Round
By second round, everyone knows what they wanted. The ordering system became a mess because we had too many people (8) on the table. My female companion and I were screaming:
more kimchee please.
more beef tongue please.
more this please.
more that please.

Our male companions (at the least the 2 who sat next to us) were in shock.
Oops. I guess I was so into the good food that i totally forgot to behave like a lady. What the heck. This is the 21st century. We female has the same right as our fellow male companions. Equal opportunities!

♥ pinkcocoa's dream come true: a full griddle of beef tongue!

The Third Round
By this time, I think I have had too much meat. Remember, i am 'half a vegetarian'. What a silly term because there really is no 'half a vegetarian'. What I want to emphasis is that it's been a long time since I devoured in such gourmet meat so my stomach is probably finding it hard to digest. It was bulging. *yikes*

This round we started ordering more of salads, soup and rice. Again I didnt manage to take much photos because the moment the dishes were served, everything was goofed down before I had time to grab my camera.
oh. You mean I should be holding my camera in action before the food came? nawww. No way! I was too busy indulging myself.

♥ entree: yukke - rare (raw) beef
The yolk was mixed evenly into the rare (or raw) beef. The mix looked a little gooey and many were put off by the look of it. I had a little taste. Not too bad. It didnt actually taste like something raw. But definitely not something I would go back for.

♥ entree: korean radish kimchee
Suminoya and its brother Kohya offers a limited dishes of korean gourmet. There are also bibimba and kimchee.

fourth round... fifth round... sixth round
We kept grilling, eating, grilling, eating until the last minute of the 90minutes we were given. The food was good. The meat remained tender and juicy even after we accidentally burnt it on the grill. It's probably something in the marinade. The only pullback was how thirsty I became the entire night. msg perhaps?

As a health enthusiast, I have to warn you: yakiniku is definitely not something we should have everyday. It is too 'heaty'. Imagine all the pimples (or acne) and ulcers you would get! All the amount of meat compared to the pitiful share of salad consumed. This is just not a very balanced meal. But I guess once in a while indulgence is ok

Suminoya all-you-can-eat price list
♥ standard* $33.80 (sat & sun only)
this includes only a selected section of entree, salad, meat dishes, rice and soup.
♥ gourmet* $38.80 (sat & sun only)
this includes whole selection of entree, salad, meat dishes, rice, soup from the main menu. also included are seafood and dessert!
♥ premium* $44.80 (sat & sun only)
this is the groumet plus sushi and sashimi

on the other hand, kohya is much cheaper. It offers gourmet option at $27.80*. shouldnt we be heading there next? *hint hint*

* drinks not included. bummer!

♥ suminoya
1 hosking place
sydney nsw 2000
ph 9231 2177
lunch mon-fri 12-3pm
dinner 7days 6-10.30pm

♥ kohya
shop1, 9-17 young street
neutral bay nsw 2089
ph 9904 5036
mon-fri 6pm - till late
sat-sun 5.30pm - till late

kohya also has branches in brisbane and cairns
Continue Reading Suminoya


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

A Japanese Birthday

This post is fashionably late. To be exact it's one month and 3 days late. Any acceptable reasons? I only have one: Exams. It's out of my control that ShinChan's birthday falls on the exam period in Australia. If he was in taiwan, he would be in luck. He would be celebrating his birthday during summer vacation. Too bad he's now in the land of kangaroo and koala.

© foodies date: 18th June 2004
© where: pinkcocoa's kitchen

I went through at least one whole week of headache to come up with a very different cake for ShinChan. My pickiness always bring me headache and problems as a matter of fact. What have i got to say? I like to give myself challenge. Life is meaningless without challenge.

Rules to this cake
- no baking
- simple to prepare
- heart-shaped (ok i admit. i am obsessed with heart-shaped. it was star last year)
- not a sweet cake

Ireally had fun looking up for ideas and thinking about the type of cakes to make during my study break. My first thought was to make him a greentea-flavoured layered crepe cake filled with black sesame ice-cream. By the way, I did set up a theme for ShinChan's birthday surprises. It's Japanese. The problem with crepe was I didnt have any flour and milk on hand so the thought was scrapped. Beside it's sweet. I then remember reading in my comics that the Japanese enjoys chirashi sushi or bara sushi when they are celebrating something special.

My search on 'sushi cake' on google
- Sushi: making at home (a cookbook. check out the beautiful sushi cakes)
- Martha Stewart's sushi cake
These look rather comprehensive and I had second thoughts about making sushi cake until I found this and this. The sushi cake described in these 2 chinese weblog seems easy enough to make. So sushi cake it is for ShinChan.

♥ sushi rice
first step to a sushi cake is sushi rice!
i consulted my faithful japanese cookbook comics.
for the rice
2 cups rice
2 cups water
2 tbsp japanese cooking wine*
1 sheet konbu**
for sushi vinegar ***
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

1. Rinse and wash the rice until water runs clear
2. Soak the rice in water for 1-2 hour to let the rice absorb moisture
3. Clean konbu with wet towel then soak in water for 1 hour
4. Place rice, water, wine and konbu in rice cooker to cook. Once it is done, let the rice sits inside the rice cooker for another 8-10 minutes
5. While waiting for the rice, make sushi vinegar by combining all ingredients together.
6. Place cooked rice into a large bowl (wooden container is preferable in traditional japanese cooking. but i didnt have this on hand so i used the largest soup bowl i could find at home). Pour sushi vinegar evenly onto surface of rice.
7. Using a wooden rice spoon, mix the vinegar into the rice by making 'cutting motion' or 'cutting strokes'. By this I mean using the rice spoon like a knife and cut into the rice. Bo not use the usual scoop-from-bottom-to-top mixing method. The reason being the common mixing method can damage the cooked rice and one will not be able to enjoy the wholeness of the rice.
8. Fan the rice vigorously using magazines or newspaper, anything to your fancy, to cool the rice down.
9. Cover the rice with a wet tea towel to keep the rice moist if not using immediately.

* I used japanese cooking wine. i think chinese cooking wine might do too. adding wine and konbu gives the rice a 'glossy' finish and also making the rice soft and fluffy.
** I didnt add konbu, a type of dried japanese seaweed. I didnt have any on hand so it was left out. I am not sure how different the rice would taste with and without konbu.
*** I used instant package of sushi vinegar in powder form. you can also buy premixed sushi vinegar from any good japanese groceries store. i got my powder sushi vinegar at the chinese groceries store.

♥ filling ingredients
- several sheets of nori (seaweed)
- sweet scrambled egg (beat eggs with sugar and pinch of salt. pour into hot cooking pans. using 4 chopticks, scramble i.e. making circling motion, the eggs continuously until cooked.)
- fish floss
- mayonnaise (i used japanese kewpie mayonnaise)

♥ fish floss
Ibought this at a taiwanese groceries stores near unsw. I was looking for pork floss or beef floss but couldnt find one that i like. The groceries store I went did have pork floss. But the brand, 'xin tung yang' (a taiwanese brand) was far too pricey. So i ended up buying fishfloss, also from a taiwanese company.

♥ Assembling
1. Take a springform cake pan* and place a large sheet of glad wrap inside. Make sure the glad wrap is big enough so that you are able to cover the top of the cake.
2. Place a layer of sushi rice at the bottom. Pressing it down with the back of a spoon.
3. Spread a layer of mayonnaise on top of the rice
4. Place a sheet of nori** (cut to the shape of cake pan) on top
5. Place a thick layer of either eggs or fish floss on top. Press down hard
6. Repeat step 2-5 and finish with a layer of sushi rice.
7. You can decorate the sushi cake to your liking using various ingredients. I went for the minimalist way - a sheet of nori. Simple and easy
8. Put something heavy, say your not-so-useful volumes of encyclopedia on top of the cake to weigh it down. Just like how you would make a pressed sandwich. For hygience purpose, please do not forget to wrap your sushi cake with glad wrap before putting heavy volumes on top. (all the dust! *yikes*) Leave it for about 15-30min.
9. Take out the cake by removing the spring-form on the cake pan. If not using a springform cake pan, simply lift the cake out by lifting the glad wrap.

* I was destined to make a heart shaped cake so i used a heart-shaped cookie cutter instead of a cake pan. you can use any sort of container you find at home. bowls, food storage containers, mugs etc.
** I cut out my nori into heart-shaped using a knife to carve around the cookie cutter. It's a little time consuming. my advice. use a scissor if you can.

♥ sushi cake a la pinkcocoa's style!
I ended up making 3 small individual sushi cake. each cake contains roughly one large bowl of rice. I would imagine it to be very filling just consuming one.

♥ bird eye view of the cake
If only I had a bigger gift box (and round too) i would have arranged the giftbox like this. The arrangement looks a little like a lucky-clove, dont you reckon?

♥ a closer look
This is a 2 layered sushi cake. I wonder if I can make more layers out of it. On another note, this sort of sushi that I made actually stems out from the traditional osaka-style sushi called 'oshi-sushi' ot 'hako-sushi', meaning box-sushi. It's made by layering rice and ingredients inside an oshi-sushi pressed box.

♥ happy birthday, my dearest ShinChan

I felt contained and happy the moment I saw ShinChan's eyes lighted up when he opened up the gift box to find his birthday cake to be one made of rice. I first noted the 'happy birthday' candles in Newtown last year and had been wanting to buy it and use it ever since then but didnt have the chance until now.

ShinChan: o wow! this is so nice
pinkcocoa was very happy *big smile*
ShinChan: o wow! a heart-shaped rice ball!
pinkcocoa: O_o |||
pinkcocoa:'s not a rice ball. it's supposedly to be a sushi cake.
ShinChan: Oops. o wow! a sushi cake!

So much so for my effort in creating a sushi cake, it was recognised as a rice ball. hmrf! Nevertheless, I was happy to find out that ShinChan was well-fed on his birthday thanks to my sushi cake. He ate the 2 cakes as breakfast on his birthday. Not to mention the third one that he goofed down fast at 1am when pinkcocoa presented him his birthday cake.

This is by far the easiet cake I have ever made, although a little time consuming due to irregular shape I wanted to make. It's also the healthiest cake. Just think all the fat, sugar, cholestrol problems waived in this version of cake. Maybe i can make it a sweet sushi cake the next time by using fresh fruit ingredients and a sweeter eggs.
Continue Reading A Japanese Birthday


Monday, July 19, 2004

IL Baretto

Good news must be celebrated with good food.
Right after my last post, we headed to Il baretto in surry hills. It's a tiny corner italian cafe on bourke street. it's been on my restaurant wishlist ever since I learnt that the amazing pasta guru, antonio facchinetti will be heading back to italy via thailand in september.

© foodies date: 15th July 2004
© where: il baretto, surry hills

when we reached il baretto at 8.30pm, the tiny cafe was buzzling busily. lucky we didnt have to wait for a table. we sat at the high benchtop fancing the street just by the entrance. the waiter told us if we didnt want to sit at the more casual benchtop but prefer a table, we would have to wait for at least half an hour. we opted for the benchtop for the two of us were starving.

i couldnt understand half the menu. apart from the more commonly used italian food term like spaghetti, penne, bolognese, i had absolutely no idea what most items are. we waited until we were being attended to and consulted the waiter what each item mean.

♥ bruschetta
this is a typical italian entree. it's a little different from the normal bruschetta which comes with diced tomato. ShinChan preferred the more common version of bruschetta. the bread is rather chewy.

♥ pappardelle with duck ragu
this is ShinChan's main. the very famous pappardelle with duck ragu. seriously we have no idea what a duck ragu is nor do we have any idea what pappardelle is. only when the dish came, did we understand that pappardelle is a type of wide flat ribbon pasta. the word 'pappare' means 'to stuff oneself'. it's probably by luck that ShinChan has selected the type of past that he loves - wide flat pasta eg. fettucine.

♥ home made gnocchi in arrabiata sauce
i like my pasta small, tiny and round. it's even better if it's one that comes with filling (think tortellini!). i was given 4 choices of pasta sauce:
- bolognese: tomato meat sauce
- arrabiata: tomato, garlic & chilli
- carbonara: creamy bacon
- piccanti: i think it's tomato, basil & anchovies
after surveying around the restaurant and with the cold weather, i decided to go for the chili & garlic red sauce. the red colour seems more inviting. and more importantly, it's lower in fat too. sorry. i just cant help it but think about healthy eating all the time. it's in my nature *grin*

♥ home made gnocchi in arrabiata sauce with parmesan cheese!
sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Oops. i guess my low-in-fat assertion has just gone down the drain. what's a good pasta dish without a sprinkle of parmesan! i like the pasta sauce. it has a rich and intense tomato flavour yet light at the same time. the gnocchi is one of the best in my life! it melts in your mouth like magic. i couldnt stop eating my gnocchi nor could ShinChan stop eating his duck ragu.

♥ gelato and tiramisu
a good meal ends with a good dessert.

it's one of the best gelato i ever have in sydney. absolutely yummy. we were told we could either have all the gelato flavours or we can chose a favourite one. we opted for the all-in-one gelato. gelato flavours sampled: vanilla, chocolate, coffee, pistachio, mixed berries and mango. i am especially in love with their chocolate and vanilla. ShinChan adores the mango, commenting that the mango doesnt have the artificial mango ice cream taste found in normal mango ice cream.

the tiramisu is light. very light in fact. it's not overly sweet either.a layer of savoiardi bicuits (soaked in coffee and marsala) is sandwiched between a composition of freshcream and mascarpone. it's light and not sweet yet it tastes very rich. it is an adult tiramisu.

meal at il baretto is truly heavenly. i will be back for more pasta before september!

il baretto
496 bourke street
surry hills nsw
tues-sat 8am-10pm
sun 9am-3pm

ragu: a staple of northern italy's bologna. it is a meat sauce that is typically served with pasta.
pappardelle: wide noodles (about 5/8 inch) with rippled side
gelato: italian for icecream. texture is much denser and not as creamy as american or french ice cream.
bruschetta: traditional italian garlic bread made by rubbing toasted bread with garlic cloves then drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. usually comes with diced tomato & basil on top.
Continue Reading IL Baretto


Thursday, July 15, 2004

The day has come...

*scream* *screech*
i was actually feeling rather grim today, having just had a sleepless night. adding to tiredness, my stomach is playing up on me too. it keeps telling me to eat constantly. argh. weird constant hunger pang. my guess would be it's pms else i couldnt explain the muscle pain and soreness that comes together with the stomachache. there are 2 special things that i would like to share with you today. it's non-food related too.

© foodies date: 15 July2004
~ selamat hari jadi ~
to our very dearest sultan of brunei who turns 58 today

it was bastilles day yesterday. and silly me. i told jackie that today was brunei independence day. Oops. i was too preoccupied with the thought of independence day. i was reading something about 4th of july last night and together with bastilles day in france.

here goes the news about sultan of brunei 58th birthday.

~ the dreaded news ~
oh yes.yes.yes.yeah! yay! yo! it's time to celebrate!
i was feeling really really down until just then. those who spoke to me before this moment would have known how depressed i was feeling. then in came the email that reigns my future. i believe my sleeplessness last night may have something to do with this.

the mail from unsw student information and systems office
-results of assessment for session1 2004-

2 simple words. I pass.
3 simple words. I am graduating.
It's unbelievable. I mean i am really graduating.
That marks the end of my uni life too! wow. I am still very overwhelmed.

~ time to celebrate ~
I shall celebrate tonight! I shall have fun tonight. I shall partay partay partay til I drop today.

It's one happy pinkcocoa you have here. *grin grin grin*
*scream* *screech*
Continue Reading The day has come...


Lunch in the City {digest 01}

I have been experiencing a little taste of an OL lunch from the day i declared my long awaited independence from uni. hmrf. alright, alright! my 100% independence is still contingent on the result yet to come. i am counting down to this day ever since i finished my last exam. FYI, it's only 1 more day. 'nuff about this independence stuff. (on a lighter note, yesterday July14 was France's Bastille day)

My OL lunch in the city affair started when i received an email from k (who wishes to remain anonymous) announcing that she has just moved onto a new work environment - fjmt - office located on the top floor of museum of contemporary art (mca), east circular quay. oh yes! very very good views of the opera house. lunching with k is just another excuse for me to go to the city more often. *grin* i shall be posting up on any interesting lunch adventures. this blog marks the official opening of my first OL lunch in the city.

© foodies date:
© where: Australia Square Foodcourt
First day of OL lunch in the city. we had no idea where to eat. we wanted to go to Fung's Malaysian located in the tiny alley - tank stream. we have heard the laksa there was pretty good (this is back from our days in second year b.arch. you figure out how many years have passed since we received such info! :p) we went there only to be disappointed. it's closed. *shucks* now we really had no idea where to eat. in the end we resorted to the food court at australia square.

What i had

♥ chunky vegetable soup with sourdough roll $4.50
I was searching for pumpkin soup but couldnt find any. $4.50 is for a small soup. a large one costs $5.50.

♥ dismantling to find steamy hot soup!

♥ oh-so-chunky and healthy!
The soup was alright. the veggie was chunky enough. too chunky i would say. then again i usually take small mouthful. i enjoyed the aroma of sweet basil fused together with tomato. it reminded me of my favourite pasta sauce: tomato & basil.

what k had:

♥ Hokka Hokka wok-fried noodles $8.80
This is a mix and match noodles, fillings and sauce asian food. it's gaining much popularity in sydney. the american-chinese takeaway box is hype here. also spotted at sumo salad. i have also spotted homeware and kitchenware stores selling these takeaway boxes at a rather upmarket price.

♥ thin rice noodles - prawns - chili sauce
According to k, the noodle was salty and not much of a chili taste. we wondered if it is 'cos the noodle has been designed to suit the westerners. when k said it's salty, you gotta be alerted about the high sodium content. k has very high tolerance for salty food. it's hard to imagine when she would comment on food being salty. $8.80 for 5 very crunchy and good-sized prawns noodle. not bad eh?


♥ strawberry and vanilla twirl frozen yogurt $3.30
When we entered the food court, we saw 2 ladies eating this. k and i immediately exclaimed "we want that!" a good meal is never completed without a decent dessert. oh yes that's k's hand that you are seeing in the pics.

♥ yummy strawberry frozen yogurt
In the end, we decided that the strawberry is better than the vanilla. the frozen yogurt has a richness towards it. i could have more of this if i hadnt had my soup and breadroll (and i goofed down 2 of k's prawns *shamed* & some of her noodles. i am one greedy pig!) this is a small frozen yogurt which actually appeared large to us. couldnt imagine if we ordered the large one...

The frozen yogurt concluded my first OL lunch in perfection!

Australia Square
264 george street
sydney 2000

Continue Reading Lunch in the City {digest 01}


Thursday, July 08, 2004

This Week's Special:
Guest Foodblog by Giff ~ Chrysathemum Fish ~

Okie. apparently I havent kept up with my word about posting everyday after exams. My apologies here. i havent really done much this week except that i did manage to take quite a few food photos espcially since i started lunching with katty in the city. i will try my best to write at least once a week. *promise* i havent had much mood to write this week mainly because ShinChan was sick and i am worried sick about him. Anyway, am lucky because i have got someone to write a guest foodblog for me this week.
*thanks Giff, you are the greatest*

Giff is my best friend back from high school in adelaide. she now resides in new zealand and had recently travelled to hong kong. below is her blog on this special dish that she and her hubby devoured when they were in Gongbei, China.

♥ Chrysanthemum Fish ♥
© foodies date: an early day in June
© where: a chinese restaurant outside Gongbei Immigration, Gongbei Port, China

♥ Chrysanthemum Fish (sweet sour fish)
The best feature of this fish is the meat has been shaped into 'its name – Chrysanthemum' and it’s actually deep-fried before the cook poured the sweet and sour sauce. The sauce is a little bit sour for me. However, when the fish (chrysanthemum) is dipped with the sauce, the sourness actually works very well.

I think this fish is very special as I would never be able to craft a fish into 'flowers'. I would just throw them in a wok 'uncrafted' and cook it. I think the cook here has done a superb job. *salute to the cook*

If you are wondering where I had this fish, it’s at the Gongbei port. (It is like a plaza linked to the Gongbei immigration office. After long queues to get passport stamped, I think it’s a smart idea for the Chinese government to build a plaza right next to it so you would spend all your money building the economy.In case you wonder the price of the fish, it is 18yuan. Isn’t that dirt cheap? Especially for all those labours ‘crafting’ the fish into flowers. Best of all, the fish is not just pretty but is very delicious.
Continue Reading This Week's Special:
Guest Foodblog by Giff ~ Chrysathemum Fish ~