Monthly Archives: November 2012

Aoyama Ramen @ Bugis+

Want to be spoiled for choice when it comes to ramen ? Then head over to Ramen Champion on the fourth floor of Bugis+ (formerly Illuma) on Victoria Street, where famous ramen chains from Japan battle it out under one roof for your tastebuds.

Each has a unique strength – one has the best flavoured egg, the other the best flavoured tonkotsu (pork bone) stock etc.

Rather than inducing a ramen-coma, D and I plan to make many regular visits, working our way through the various chefs/restaurants, to decide who is our ramen champion !!

First visit we went to Aoyama Ramen, where chef Hideaki Aoyama is famous for his flavoured egg. We chose it specifically because they also grilled their slices of chasu (thinly sliced pork belly), thinking it would add a lovely smoky intensity to the flavour.

I ordered the tsukamen, where the noodles are cold and served on a plate with the sliced chasu, egg and nori, accompanied with a rich dipping broth.

The noodles had a wonderful chewiness about it and the stock was rich enough to coat each strand of noodle that was dipped, without being too cloying. The pork slices were delicious too – tender enough to melt in your mouth with that additional sear from being grilled. The famous egg ? Nothing to write home about – a little too soft boiled for my liking (but that could just be a personal preference).

One down, five to go !

Aoyama Ramen
Ramen Champion
201 Victoria Street
#04-10 Bugis+
Tel: 62381011

Open daily 11.30am – 10.30pm

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Fettuccine Carbonara

We are in the middle of sorting out the 1000+ photos we took during our trip to the UK and Spain and all the gorgeous food we ate, so in the meantime, I’ve been on a cooking binge, and used my handmade egg pasta to make all sorts of simple pasta meals, like simply stirring through some pesto.

Apart from many fond memories and photos, we brought back with us about 3kg of sliced Jamon Iberico Bellota, the best ham in the world – aged five years. The store we bought from also sold diced off-cuts in vacuum packed bags which we bought a few for just this sort of dish. How to make a simple fettucine carbonara simply decadent.

Ingredients

  1. pasta – use whatever you have – dried or fresh
  2. 1 egg per serve, beaten
  3. 1 – 2 rashers of bacon, sliced per serve (0r 50g diced Jamon Iberico Bellota !)

Method

  1. Cook pasta till a little under al dente – it will cook more in the pan – drain and set aside and keep about 1/4 cup of the starchy water
  2. While the pasta is cooking, fry your bacon/jamon until crispy and the fat has rendered
  3. Turn off the heat and remove your pan from the stove – you want your pan to calm down from “screaming hot” or you’ll just end up scrambling the eggs instead of turning them into a sauce
  4. Add the drained pasta and a few tablespoons of the starchy water and mix
  5. Then add your beaten eggs to the pan and gently coat the pasta and ham
  6. Add a few more tablespoons of the starchy water so you have a silky sauce – the pasta continues to absorb liquid so before it leaves the pan it should almost be too liquidy or you’ll end up with sticky lumps of pasta by the time you want to serve/eat
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste – remember to taste as the ham/bacon will already add salt to the dish
  8. Serve immediately

Tender beef brisket with salsa verde

I’m still on a Le Creuset high and I’ve discovered a butcher at the nearby Tekka Markets in Little India that does all sorts of cuts of meat that I can’t easily find at my local supermarket (read: Tekka Markets = HEAVEN)

I went there in search of beef short ribs and ended up coming home with the ribs (post to come) and a giant slab of beef brisket. Inspired by a combination of a weekend of watching various cooking shows, with Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay both cooking delicious beef brisket, and my memory of the amazing panino bollito from Da Nerbone in Florence, I started making this dish in the morning, for dinner.

The result was ultra-soft meltingly tender beef that I sliced (actually shredded because it was so soft) and served with a fresh salsa verde on a baguette that I quickly dipped into the cooking juices. And I now also have a large pot of delicious beef stock which I will be storing first overnight in the fridge, skimming off the fat in the morning and then pour into ziplock bags that will be stored flat in my freezer.

Ingredients

  1. 2kg beef brisket
  2. 1 glass white wine
  3. 2 large onions cut into chunks
  4. 3 sticks celery, roughly sliced
  5. 2 large carrots, roughly sliced
  6. 1 head garlic
  7. 1 tsp black peppercorns
  8. 2 bay leaves
  9. 5 cloves
  10. sea salt

For the salsa verde

  1. large handful flat parsley leaves
  2. good pinch of sea salt flakes
  3. good glug of extra virgin olive oil
  4. 2-3 shallots, finely diced
  5. 2 tbls red wine vinegar

Method

  1. Season the brisket with a generous amount of salt on both sides and then roll and tie your brisket. You could probably keep it flat, but I think rolling it helps when it needs to be sliced and served
  2. Heat up some oil on medium high in a dutch oven (or any cast iron or heavy-based pan with a lid)
  3. Brown the brisket on all sides – really get some colour on it
  4. Once browned, remove the brisket, and deglaze the pan with a glass of white wine to release all those sticky bits on the bottom of the pan. The wine will quickly evaporate
  5. Reduce the head to medium and add the onions, gently sweating them for a few minutes before adding the carrots and celery and continuing to cook them till they slightly soften
  6. Put the beef back in, nestling it in amongst the vegetables and add the peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves, and then add enough water to just cover the beef
  7. Cover and bring to boil, then reduce the heat so that it’s at gently simmer. Let it slowly blip away, covered for 7 hours. You can also put the whole thing in your oven on 150 C / 300 F (I prefer it on the stove so I can easily peek in). If there is any beef uncovered by the water, turn it over halfway
  8. For the salsa verde: add the diced shallots to the red wine vinegar and set aside
  9. In a mortar and pestle, add the parsley leaves with the salt (make sure you use salt flakes as it helps to create more friction to help break down the parsley leaves) and pound/grind until you end up with bright green mush
  10. Add the olive oil to the parsley/salt mix
  11. Combine the parsley oil with the shallot/vinegar mix
  12. To eat: spread the salsa verde on your bun
  13. Dipping into the juices is optional – I dipped the super crusty end of my baguette
  14. Top with a generous amount of the sliced/shredded beef brisket and tuck in !

Fresh egg pasta

Success ! My fresh egg pasta

I’ve had a pasta machine for a while now. My first experience was a complete disaster. My kitchen counter was too thick, so I had to end up experimenting with various sized books to try to clamp the machine to, none of which were heavy enough. The recipe I used was too dry and I wasn’t experienced enough with doughs to understand what consistency I was looking for. And I hadn’t planned ahead and had no where suitable to dry the pasta once it was rolled out. I made such a mess, ended up with horrid dry pasta, and the machine promptly went back in the box and stored.

Call it stubbornness – today I faced my fears and I conquered the machine !

My recipe is a combination of many others (including Jamie Oliver, Bertolli and Mario Batali) – I also had to consider that I am making my dough in hot and humid Singapore, so I think it’s just important to work the pasta dough until it’s the right consistency, adding flour and/or water as necessary, to make it a smooth, elastic dough. And I can’t stress enough how important it is to rest the dough, it becomes so soft and workable once the gluten has had a chance to relax. I have to admit it sure is easier and faster to just used dried pasta, but fresh pasta tastes so different, and making my own pasta gave me such a sense of satisfaction and was so much fun that I’m sure that made it even more tasty.

Ingredients makes enough for 2 hungry people

  1. 200g plain flour
  2. 2 eggs (I use really small eggs (60g) so if you have larger eggs then you’ll need a little more flour)
  3. 3 tablespoons iced water

Method

  1. Place the flour on your counter and make a well in the middle
  2. Crack your eggs in the middle, mix them and then slowly start incorporating the flour from the inside edges of the well
  3. Add the water and continue to incorporate until you can bring the dough together with your hands
  4. The dough at this stage will be very grainy and feel quite dry. This is where you get to channel all your frustrations and anger into the dough as it needs to be kneaded – a lot. There’s no real time I can give you (it took me 10 minutes) but you need to work the gluten so that you get a firm textured pasta, and you’ll know when to stop when the dough suddenly becomes smooth and elastic. I carried on kneading a bit more at this stage for good measure.
  5. Divide the dough into 4 small rounds, wrap in cling film to stop them from drying out, and let rest for at least 30 minutes
  6. Once you are ready and have your pasta machine clamped firmly onto something heavy (preferably your kitchen counter – for me it was my “Toys for Chefs” book!), and also have somewhere ready nearby that is suitable for drying your pasta (trust me you don’t want to have to worry about this when you have a handful of sticky pasta ribbons), set the machine to the first setting, and roll through one of the dough balls
  7. Fold it over and run it through on the first setting and repeat about ten times more. This helps to work the dough more and helps you get that lovely stretchy texture in your pasta
  8. Continue roll the dough through the various numbers on the machine until you have it at your desired thinness. I made fettucine and I like my pasta thin, so I rolled it till it reached maximum setting (9). You may want to have it thicker if you are making something that needs to be a bit more robust, like a lasagna sheet or rag pasta
  9. Dry the pasta ribbons on a floured rolling pin or other surface so that they don’t stick together. You have to work relatively quickly here because the pasta dries quite quickly
  10. When you’re done with all four portions of dough, you’re ready to cook the pasta. As the pasta is unseasoned, you need to heavily season the water you are cooking it in – it needs to taste “like the sea”
  11. What you do with the cooked pasta is entirely up to your imagination (I made a pesto pasta) and I guarantee you it will taste better than you imagined!