Under 15 Minutes Lifesaver Meal: Pork Shogayaki over Rice

This dish is a lifesaver.

Sometimes I go out for an extended tea session and get caught in bad Jakarta traffic on the way back. I finally reach home at 6.30 p.m.++ and dinner needs to be ready soon. What do I do?!! Pork Shogayaki over rice IS THE ANSWER.

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Pork Shogayaki over rice.

It is so simple and easy to make yet so yummmmmy! Perfect if you need to put something on the table in less than 15 minutes. 

Pork Shogayaki (豚の生姜焼き; buta no shogayaki) is a Japanese dish, where shoga = ginger, and yaki = grill or fry. The term “shogayaki” generally refers to pork in Japan, although beef can also be used. It is often served hot over rice (i.e. a donburi).

Consisting mainly of pork, some onions, and fluffy white rice, this one dish meal has got your proteins, vegetables (if you consider onion a vegetable?!), and carbs covered. Definitely a fast and economical way to feed hungry young men like Agent D (I refilled his rice bowl thrice the last time I prepared it).

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This one dish meal has got your proteins, vegetables and carbs covered (using pork belly shabu shabu meat in picture).

For this recipe, it is best to use thinly sliced meat. Alternatively, you can buy shabu shabu meat. Depending on how fatty you like your meat, you can either use pork belly (highest fat content), pork shoulder (medium marbling), or pork loin (least fatty). My personal preference is pork belly! 🙂

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 8 oz thinly sliced pork (pork belly, pork shoulder, or pork loin)
  • 1” ginger grated
  • ½ medium yellow onion sliced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp sugar

Instructions

  1. First, peel off the ginger skin and grate the ginger. Next, slice the onions to about ¼” thick.
  2. Heat a pan on medium heat, add a bit of cooking oil. Toss in the onions and ginger. Stir fry for a bit.
  3. Add in the thinly sliced pork and make sure it browns on both sides.
  4. Add in the soy sauce, mirin, rice wine, and sugar. Stir fry until sauce is incorporated.
  5. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on medium heat for another 3-5 minutes depending on how ‘cooked’ you want your onions to be. Some people like their onions crunchy whereas I like them to melt in my mouth.
  6. Remove the cover and turn up to high heat to reduce the liquid by 50% (thicken the sauce).
  7. Pour the pork shogayaki over a bowl of rice and it is READY. 🙂
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Enjoy! xxx

Recipe credit: http://www.itsmydish.com/pork-shogayaki/
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Little Things to Remember

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Simple meal for two.

It’s been a while since I last updated on my kitchen happenings (see Kitchen Diaries for some background). Well, it hasn’t been too exciting I guess.

So last night, I cooked watercress pork ribs soup, salted fish taugeh with tofu, and stir-fry pork with garlic and herbs.

Agent D: “My heart is full.”

And that made all the oily hair and washing up worth it. (Am penning this down to remind myself WHY I COOK, an activity I still can’t seem to resonate with.)

Ok good night world. XOXO

One breakfast staple: Stir-fried Tomatoes and Eggs (YUM)

Stir-fried tomatoes and eggs on toast is one of our favourite breakfast fixes – because it doesn’t require many fancy ingredients (just tomatoes and eggs DUH) and it doesn’t take long to prepare. PERFECT for a lazy cook like me heh.

Also, pairing tomatoes and eggs is such a heavenly combination. Think Juicy tomatoes with soft runny eggs. Simply yummy with rice (for lunch/dinner) or on toast.

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Stir-fried tomatoes and eggs on toast, with baked beans at the side.

Not to mention the high nutritive value of tomatoes and eggs. Did you know that…

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a treasure of riches when it comes to their antioxidant benefits (anti-cancer!!). They contain good amounts of three high-powered antioxidants — Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C. They also contain all four major carotenoids — alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene. On top of that, tomatoes are rich in minerals like potassium and manganese, which we often don’t get enough of. For breastfeeding moms, it increases the concentration of lycopene in their milk.

Eggs

Eggs are a very good source of inexpensive, high quality protein. They are regarded as a ‘complete’ source of protein as they contain all eight essential amino acids (which cannot be synthesised in our bodies and must be obtained from our diet). The whites are rich sources of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. The yolks are sources of cholesterol, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K and lecithin.

Time to start incorporating more tomatoes and eggs in your diet. Here’s the recipe which I tweaked a little from something found on the internet:

Stir-fried Tomatoes and Eggs Recipe (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 2 tomatoes (diced into small cubes)
  • 4 eggs (I usually buy organic, lower-cholesterol ones)
  • olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar (optional for added flavour)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (or any other kind of vegetable starch)
  • green onion
  • salt and pepper
  • sugar (neutralizes the sour taste of the tomatoes)

Instructions

  1. Beat eggs together and season with salt and pepper. Add the green onion and sesame oil to the eggs and mix well.
  2. Add olive oil to the pan; turn up the heat. Add the egg mixture and break the egg into pieces. Toss and cook until the eggs are almost done (should be less then 2 minutes). Take out the egg mixture from the pan.
  3. Add more olive oil to the pan and stir-fry the tomatoes. Season the tomatoes with rice vinegar and sugar. Cook until you can see the tomato juice run and smell the tomatoes.
  4. Transfer the egg mixture back to the pan.
  5. In a separate small bowl, mix corn starch with slightly more than 1 tsp of water. Add to the pan.
  6. Toss and serve hot. It is ready! 🙂

This dish of tomatoes and eggs is original in taste and flavor (no need for MSG whatsoever), fresh and SO GOOD. Enjoy! x

Kitchen Diaries: A Small Progress

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Since young, I was never into cooking. I was the kind of student that all Home Economics teachers would turn their noses up at (upon seeing my end-products). And I don’t blame them one bit. :/ My passion for cooking was non-existent (not even the tiniest flame!) and I had no intention of changing the status quo…UNTIL I learnt that Agent D had to take up post in Jakarta and he wasn’t keen on hiring domestic help. *cries*

What complicates matters is that Agent D LOVES HOMECOOKED food (he’s more health conscious than I am. I seriously wouldn’t mind eating out like everyday or something). Who is going to cook for him and put food on the table every night? Not me, right?

“Yes, it’s going to be you,” Agent D gave me a wry grin. If not, who else? IF NOT WHO ELSE rang in my head for quite a while. Could anyone save me out of this predicament? Sadly no. It was going to be just the two of us in Jakarta. No mommy or daddy there. A proverb came to mind – the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – which I remember many friends testifying to be true. After mulling over the issue (whether I should put my foot down and insist on domestic help OR pick up a few SOS cooking skills), I decided to go with the latter option.

Two weeks before our move, I picked up some essential kitchen knowledge/skills from my helper back home. I can still remember a few things off-hand now:

  1. Never add water to an oil fire. Water and oil do not mix. (I took chemistry up till A-levels but hey this never occurred to me!)
  2. Crush garlic before peeling them (That doesn’t even make sense! But ok I’ll just do it if it makes peeling garlic easier.)
  3. If there is not enough water in the stainless steel pot, the pot will burn. (seriously?! Hmm never knew that either.)

Many of the things would seem like common sense to you but they weren’t to me at all. When I was doing my Masters in the UK, I alternated between eating out and eating microwavable food from Marks and Spencer (I only remember packing 1 fork, 1 spoon, and 1 butter knife from home. NO POTS. NO PANS.) When I was doing my exchange in the States for 6 months, I survived by cooking with a group of friends. I was often relegated to doing the cutting/washing of vegetables whilst my peers did the real cooking. That was how I survived overseas.

But now it’s a totally different ball game altogether. I have to feed a HUNRGY GROWING MAN everyday. It wasn’t about me anymore.

8 months on, I’m proud to say I AM STILL SURVIVING. 🙂 Of course, there were times when I got frustrated (for example, burning a pot for the third time in a week) and would cry out to Agent D to just get a helper for me. But most times I gritted my teeth and learned through my failures. If you ask me whether I like cooking any much better now – I’d still say no. I do it because it’s a necessity, with us being on a long-term overseas posting.

I’d like to share some pictures documenting my small progresses in the kitchen (and also for me to remember how I’ve grown on this culinary journey):

As you can see from the pictures above (of my first few weeks of cooking in Jakarta), my food wasn’t all that enticing. Well, they were edible I guess. But more often than not, the veggies were undercooked/ meat was overcooked and too tough/ fish was overly salty/ etc. Kudos to Agent D who did not complain one bit and managed to even finish everything up! (I’m not quite sure how he did it. Even I could not bring myself to do so.)

As the weeks passed, my cooking skills got slightly better. I learnt how to add spices and sauces in moderation and how to control the fire. I must say learning on the job really helps. No choice what!

Here are some pictures of what I cook for our weekend brunches/ lunches. They’re mostly one-dish meals. Throw everything in and BAAAAM READY TO EAT. EASY. I LIKE.

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Spaghetti aglio olio with steamed greens and baby corn.

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Tomato mushroom penne (sauce was made from scratch!).

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Organic buckwheat mee sua with beans, carrots and lean pork.

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Eggs with tomatoes on toast, with baked beans on the side. (This one was a hit with Agent D!)

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Improved spaghetti aglio olio with mushrooms and roasted pumpkin soup.

As Agent D is pro-organic and likes anything healthy, I don’t fry food at home. Almost everything I cook is stir-fried, steamed, or cooked in soup. Here are some dishes that I’ve mastered after a while. They’re easily prepared in 20+ minutes or cooked on a slow fire which I don’t have to bother about.

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Steamed fish with ginger, chilli, and spring onion.

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Stir-fried pork with chinese cabbage and tofu.

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Bak kut teh.

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White fungus chicken soup with herbs.

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Baked salmon with vegetable herbs (pardon the over-sized vegetables, erm cutting skills are still work in progress).

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Winter melon soup with pork ribs, pumpkin, and egg.

These dishes are the same few I put on the table every week. Thank goodness Agent D doesnt grumble HUH why same thing again or can you please try something else. Whatever I cook, he eats (which is really helpful). Sometimes, he compliments me by saying “my wife’s cooking is really improving” and gives me a big hug — AWW how to stop cooking for him like that. Must persevere in my kitchen. 

These are what our regular dinner meals look like:

You can see that they’re actually the same few dishes rotated around. :/ I haven’t been too motivated/ adventurous to check out new recipes but I shall do so SOON. Agent D likes to have variety for dinner (2 veg + 1 meat + 1 fish) which comes up to a little too much when shared just between the two of us. As I don’t like to waste food, I always end up over-eating beyond my maximum stomach capacity. SIGH which explains my 2 kg weight gain since coming to Jakarta.

Will update again if any of the new recipes turn out particularly well! 😉


Today is a Public Holiday in Jakarta (Hari Raya Nyepi a.k.a. Balinese New Year). Agent D and I spent some time preparing a simple lunch together (which was really nice because he’s often so busy).

At night, we met a lovely Singaporean couple for dinner at Unacho (a Japanese restaurant that specializes in unagi dishes), which I’ll blog about another day. The food there was SO GOOD – especially on days when you have a major unagi craving.

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Homemade oats from Sarah.

Thanks for your yummy homemade oats, Sarah! Totally made my night. ❤

Happy Thursday everyone! Good night, world. YAWNS.

Learning Indonesian Cuisine #1: Babi Rica Recipe

On Wednesday, my friend (Sha-rin) invited a group of us to her place to learn how to make Babi Rica from her Indonesian friend, Ibu Vien. Sha-rin was moving from Jakarta to Sydney for good and Babi Rica was the one dish she wanted to master before leaving.

There were about 10 of us in total so we had to make several batches. In order to make the Rica Bumbu (seasoning), quite a number of spices/ingredients were required. They had to be peeled, cut, and blended together. Effort indeed.

Upon seeing the sheer amount of effort involved, someone asked Ibu Vien if she could pre-make the sauce for us (such a Singaporean thing to do right!) for future use. Well, I personally wouldn’t mind paying more for a pre-made bottled sauce if I could use it right away, saving time and effort. Ibu Vien looked at us in disbelief. I think she was on the verge of rolling her eyes haha.

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Some of the ingredients needed to make Babi Rica (photo credits: Jasmine)

Ibu Vien told us that if we wanted our Babi Rica to be on the spicier side, we could add more chili, keeping the total number of chili used odd. If we wanted it to be less spicy, we could use less chili but the total number of chili used had to be evenSo strange. Ibu Vien swears by it so I’ll be following this golden chili rule next time.

For the Babi Rica batch she was demonstrating on, Ibu Vien added quite a bit of chili but kept the total amount of chili even. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as hot as I expected it to be!

Here’s a picture of our Babi Rica in all its glory:

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Homemade Babi Rica served with rice and cucumber. YUM.

It was SOOOOO GOOOOOOOOD. Not sure if I’ll ever get down to replicating it for Agent D though. The preparation process is a little too time consuming (unless Ibu Vien picks up on our suggestion on the pre-made sauce hee).

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Ibu Vien with all the Babi-Rica cooks. Babi Rica SUCCESS!


For those who are interested in making Babi Rica at home, here’s the recipe (many thanks to Candy for typing it out) below:

Babi Rica Recipe (for 1 kg of pork, serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1 kg Pork (if using pork belly, use part with more meat and less fats)
  • 3 stalks of spring onion (cut 1cm diagonally)
  • 110g of cabe keriting merah (about 30 pieces)
  • 50g of cabe rawit (remove stalk)
  • 30g of basil leaves (about 1 handful, ¾ cup)
  • 2 stalks of local lemongrass/ serai (use the white part only & chop into 1 cm bits)
  • 2 cm of ginger / jahe
  • 10g of kaffir leaves / daun jeruk (about 10 pieces)
  • 80g of shallots / bawang merah (about 20 pieces)
  • 1 head of old/mature garlic (remove skin)
  • 2 cm if turmeric / kunyit
  • 2-3 pieces of candlenut

Instructions

  1. Cut shallots, cabe keriting merah, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, turmeric and candlenut into smaller pieces. Put everything into the blender with some water (about 40ml) to make the Rica bumbu.
  2. Add bumbu (blended in step 1) into a large pot with oil. The amount of oil used should be enough to cover the bumbu in the pot. Stir-fry on high heat for about 20 mins.
  3. When the bumbu is about half dry, add half the kaffir leaves and pork together with 80-90 ml of water.
  4. When the sauce becomes drier and almost like a thick paste, add salt to taste. Then add cabe rawit, spring onion, basil leaves and the remaining kaffir leaves. Continue to simmer until the pork reaches its preferred softness.

Some tips from Ibu Vien

*Do not wash the pork and vegetables until they are ready to be stir-fried.

*Instead of using pork, you may also use chicken. Preferably, kampong chicken.