Khanom Jeen Nam Ya (Rice Noodles With Thai Fish Curry)

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Cooking is a priority especially when I am crashing in my bestie’s crib in south Holland for only two nights and the fact that she loves to eat and cook as I do, makes it even more special. So, I thought of making one of my grandmother’s recipe which is khanom jeen nam ya and was excited to cook it because she adores this southern Thai noodles to bits!

Khanom jeen is basically thin rice noodles made from fermented rice. The noodles are eaten with a generous amount of curry and a handful of fresh vegetables. The noodles are served with different types of curries; however today, I am sharing this nam ya recipe which is a lightly creamy and spicy Southern style fish curry made from turmeric, galangal, garlic, shallots, dried red and fresh chilies, shrimp paste, kaffir lime leaves, kaffir lime rind, coriander roots and coconut milk. And then of course, you’ve got to round the dish with pickles and fresh raw vegetables. Toss it all together and there you have it – a perfect one dish meal!

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Recipe for the curry in this link in (B) – https://bitesbybee.com/2016/12/28/khua-kling-southern-thai-dry-curry/

Oh, three things – if you are unable to find galangal to make this dish, that is perfectly fine but do not substitute with ginger. Secondly, the curry is good even without the kaffir lime rind. Thirdly, if you do have tamarind paste on hand, you can put some to the curry, adjust to your liking but keep in mind that it shouldn’t be sour. As my grandmother did not use tamarind in her recipe and aiming to preserve her culinary heritage I, too do not use any souring agent for the dish. However, I normally serve this dish with limes on the side as some of my family members love a hint of freshness from the lime in the rich sauce. Now, this curry should be rich and creamy, so do not skimp on the spice and coconut milk. Here in Holland, I couldn’t get my hands on khanom jeen noodles so I bought Singaporean rice noodles as suggested by my best friend. It was absolutely perfect! If you cannot get khanom jeen noodles, try to look for Vietnamese noodle packaging – Bun Giang Tay or spaghettini if you’d like.

Level: Sort of easy

800 gm of mackerel, tilapia or any white firm sea fish, cut

Khanom jeen noodles or any rice vermicelli noodles you can find

2200 – 2500 ml of coconut milk

2 stalks of lemongrass

fish sauce/salt

1-2 tamarind peel (optional)

20 kaffir lime leaves, slightly bruised (8 leaves to boil with fish, 12 leaves for curry)

For serving:

Medium boiled eggs (7-8 minutes)

Cucumber

Long beans

Beans sprouts

Cabbage

Pickled Mustard Greens

Basil leaves

Lime wedges (optional if tamarind peel is not used)

First, prepare the noodles as per packet instructions and set aside.

Next, boil the fish in a pot of boiling water with kaffir leaves and 2 stalks of lemongrass. Boil for about 8 to 10 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove the fish from the pot and allow it to cool. Then, remove the bones and skin and slightly pound the fish in a pestle and mortar. I like my fish to be slightly chunky, you can go for a finer texture if you’d like. Set aside.

For the curry, in a large pot over a low heat stir in the curry paste and a cup of coconut milk. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring only in one direction combining the curry paste and coconut milk. Add in the rest of the coconut milk. Then stir in the fish, fish sauce and kaffir lime leaves. Keep stirring and when it comes to a boil, turn down the heat. It should not be bubbling aggressively. Stir in tamarind peels if using. Keep in mind that the curry shouldn’t be sour. Season to taste. Serve with noodles and fresh vegetables.

Thai Fish With Mango Salad

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So, I’ve been greedily feeding myself with Hoa Loc mangoes, grown only along Mekong Delta here in Vietnam. This particular kind of mango is badass. So fragrant, sweet, fleshy and damnfinitely tasty. Just couldn’t get enough of it! I’ve also learned from the locals that Hoa Loc is pronounced as Hoa Lap. Ohhhhh kayyyy. However, as of last week instead of Hoa Loc, I was frantically looking for green sour mangoes all over Ho Chi Minh City. I was getting a lil sour, couldn’t find even one green sour mango. The lady working in the organic shop I always go to shyly asked me why was I looking for firm sour mangoes when I can enjoy soft, delicious and ripe mangoes? To make Thai mango salad of course!

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I was craving for a good Thai mango salad with fried fish. My friends, green sour mango is the key ingredient to the recipe, we want the crunch and sourness only a green mango can do. In the end after a couple of more attempts, I bought a Keow mango instead as green mangoes were not in sight. So if you can get your hands on green sour mango, that would be ideal. In my case, I gotta make do with what I can find right? As Keow mango is sweet, I used 1 teaspoon instead of 2 tablespoons of palm sugar. Thais will normally toss some roasted cashew nuts to this dish. Not only I do not have green mango it seems I also do not have cashew nuts nor peanuts at that time so if you do, toss it in!

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Level: Easy

Mango Salad

1 green sour mango, julienned

5 – 10 Red bird’s eye chillies, cut (adjust to your liking)

2 tablespoons of fish sauce

2 tablespoons of palm sugar/brown sugar/sugar

2 tablespoons of lime juice

2  – 3 small shallots, sliced

Cilantro leaves to garnish

1 carrot, julienned

Roasted cashew nuts/peanuts

Fish

Seabass/Barramundi/Snapper

A bit of flour

Oil

Salt

First, to make the mango salad, in a mortar, pound the bird’s eye chillies to a rough paste, add palm sugar and gently mash them. Then add fish sauce and lime juice. Transfer to a bowl. Add shallots and julienned mango. You should adjust the taste according to your liking – it should be spicy, sour, salty and slightly sweet. Set aside.

Dust the fish with some flour and salt, fry fish over a medium heat, skin down. Fry until golden brown. Remove fish from wok on a paper towel to drain the excess oil. Then, place the fish to your serving plate. Now, put the mango salad on top of the fish or on side it is entirely up to you. Sprinkle some cashew nuts and coriander on top of the fish. Now, enjoy your on its own or with rice!

 

Gaeng Jeud Khai Nam (Omelette Soup)

Thai omelette soup aka gaeng jeud khai nam is basically ‘chicken soup’ for Thai people. You can whip up this dish in less than 30 minutes and only need one Thai bit to make it – fish sauce. That’s right! Easy and effortlessly. I love it with rice aanndd bird’s eye chilies with soy sauce on the side!

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Level: Easy

Ingredients as shown on the right side column of the picture.

Method: In a boiling stock/water, put in the carrots and pork balls and boil over lower heat. Season soup with either fish sauce or salt. After 2 minutes, by this time the pork balls will float to surface, add egg tofu/Japanese tofu. After 1 minute, remove from heat and stir in spring onion and cut omelette. Garnish with cilantro leaves and fried garlic just before serving.

Sri Lanka: The Paradise That Has It All

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I have so much admiration and fascination for Sri Lanka. This historical South Asian island has it all – culture, exotic beaches, UNESCO heritage sites and national parks. This absurdly beautiful one stop destination is not only a country steeped in rich history, but also home to the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Why should you visit Sri Lanka? It is so incredibly magical that you would feel sorry for yourself wanting to go to Bali after embracing that whole eat, pray, love aspiration. The suicidal stray dogs, narrow roads, reckless tuk-tuk drivers, high-speed buses, horns bellowing, plethora of rice and curry, peacocks and elephants attempting to cross the road, if you have an issue with that, well calm yourself with some Sri Lankan whisky. Old Keg whisky that is. Ah, how I miss Sri Lanka!

Places I’ve visited:

Negombo

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This fourth largest city in Sri Lanka located on the west coast is known for its fishing industry. This small coastal town is located near to Colombo’s main airport, so it tends to be the first or last stop for visitors. In Negombo, after a hearty Sri Lankan rice and curry for breakfast, our local driver took us to the country’s second largest fish market. The fish market was colourful and lively as customers and vendors were haggling and jostling around – it’s difficult to tell who was having a better time.

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Local fishermen and customers were chatting away cheerfully oblivious to visitors like me snapping photos of barracudas, sharks, tuna and some I don’t even recognize.

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While I was gawking at people hard at work, the rest of my family were quenching their thirst with king coconuts, the drink of choice apparently on this island. Definitely worth a visit to get a glimpse of local Lankan life by the sea and this was where I imagined Gizzi Erskine would be throwing a party here. Who wouldn’t want a seafood feast with Gizzi Erskine?

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Anuradhapura

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The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Anuradhapura was once a Ceylonese political and religious capital of Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura was one of the first planned cities in the world and is situated next to the Malvathu river, the second longest river in Sri Lanka. Once a glorious city, Anuradhapura was abandoned after an invasion in 933AD by the Chola Emperor Rajaraja I. The site was left secluded in the jungle for centuries until revived by the British in the 19th century. This ancient site was the highlight of my trip; the entire time in this sacred city I was mesmerized by the beauty of the monasteries, palaces, bathing pools, water reservoirs and monuments.

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Ruwanwelisaya is believed to be the oldest stupa in Sri Lanka. Constructed in 140B.C, by King Dutugemunu, this 338 ft tall majestic architecture is definitely larger than life. At dusk when local worshippers were seen performing a ceremony, the spiritual ambiance slowly started to set in, creating a mysterious and enchanting mood that made me want to linger longer. Anuradhapura is where you can take a tour of the past.

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Ruwanwelisaya

Galle

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For cultural travellers that like a bit of style, you will like Galle. A city in Sri Lanka that was formerly occupied by Portuguese, Dutch and British. Galle’s streets are not only heavy with Dutch and British influence but also exuding a flair of pretentious atmosphere. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a bit hipster-ish, so if you want a space to provoke your creative senses while having a bubbly, this is your playground as fancy art galleries, colonial houses, boutique hotels and boho-chic cafes are abound.

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After an unbelievably scrumptious Sri Lankan crab curry dish in Peddlar’s Inn for lunch, I couldn’t think straight as my body was begging me to indulge in that daytime booze. By the beach of course with the rose-tinted sunset.

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Sri Lanka is made to dazzle beach goers, you can expect to replenish your soul just by looking at the gorgeous rugged coastlines where you would want to kiss the powdery sands and plunge into the glistening green blue sea. Or, bask in the warm sunshine and order a cocktail or king coconut to complete your #vacaycay while enjoying the flawless surroundings.

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And the only sound you can hear besides the waves crashing on the beach is the sound of your own jaw dropping on the sands. It was an absolutely mesmerizing view – the Indian Ocean and tall palm trees gently swaying against the perfect postcard picture background. Time to crank up Aaliyah’s rock the boat track! #dolcevita #stylishrelaxation

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Mirissa beach
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Ambalangoda beach

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Mirissa (there was a collective gasp when we drove by) mostly appeals to travellers, but we have checked into a boutique hotel by Ambalangoda beach. The beautiful, serene and almost deserted beach certainly has a calming effect on us. Here, I’ve realized that I truly love the languid pace of Lankan life.

More on Sri Lanka in my next post.

Thai Fried Fish with Tamarind Sauce

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I’ve been back to Penang for only a couple of days but last night over a couple of drinks, mum had hinted perhaps it’s time for me to make my fried fish with tamarind sauce Thai-style. Before I could say yes, mum then went on gushing excitedly about the fish market in Negombo, a city in Sri Lanka that we were at 2 weeks ago. I have to admit; Sri Lanka was absolutely stunning and amazing – there will be a write up about Sri Lanka after this recipe post!

Back to this recipe, tamarind pulp is used here to give the fish a refreshing tangy flavour and of course, lots of (you can adjust the spiciness) bird’s eye chilies to round the recipe with a Thai kick. Just like most Thai dishes, this recipe is usually served with rice accompanied with vegetables. But if you would like to enjoy this dish without rice? Get yourself a glass of Mojito. I bet that was what triggered my mum to request for this recipe because I rejected her coffee offer last night for my very own Mojito. With lemongrass and ginger. Delish.

Level: Easy

1 whole seabass (or any white fish), cleaned & gutted

Peanut/palm oil

2 tablespoons of flour

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

6 small shallots, peeled

A handful of bird’s eye chilies

1 ½ of palm sugar or brown sugar

Fish sauce

½ cup of tamarind paste/tamarind pulp with hot water

To garnish:

A few sprigs or coriander

1 red chili, sliced

 Optional:

Cabbage, shredded

Lime wedges

Using pestle and mortar, pound the garlic and shallots. Then add the bird eye’s chilies and continue to pound. Be careful not to pound it into a paste. Set aside. If using tamarind pulp and hot water, strain and set aside.

Make 3 to 4 deep slices on both sides of the fish. Rub with salt and sprinkle with flour all over. On a wok/pan over a medium heat, deep fry the fish until golden brown. To deep fry, make sure that the oil is enough to submerge at least two thirds of the length of the fish. Also, oil should be heated very hot before putting in the fish to the wok. Cook until it is golden brown. Remove the fish and set aside on a rack or a plate.

Using the same wok/pan, remove the oil leaving only about 2 tablespoons of oil and fry the garlic, shallots and chilies until fragrant on a medium heat. Keep stirring to prevent from burning. When it is fragrant, add the tamarind paste, palm sugar and fish sauce. Cook for 1 t0 2 minutes. Season to taste. The sauce should be thick (not too saucy), tangy and slightly sweet. Now, pour the sauce over the fish and garnish with coriander and chili. Limes are not necessary in this recipe but my mum loves to give the dish a fresh punch. Feel free to use it if you like.

Pineapple Pork Chops

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Chinese New Year is just around the corner and most of my friends are showing off or documenting the festival classic – how to make pineapple tarts on social media. With a bit of pressure, I can only participate in this joyful season by errm making pineapple pork chops? Don’t get me wrong, I love eating this diabetic buttery mini pastry but at the same time I also possess no baking skills and minimal patience, soooo making pineapple pork chops is definitely easier and anxiety-free. And as for this porky recipe, just round out the dish with any fresh salad.

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Level: Easy

(A)

4 pork chops

1/2 pineapple, cut into chunks (fresh or canned)

1 clove of garlic, peeled & chopped finely

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of fish sauce

Black pepper

1 teaspoon of brown sugar

(B) The other 1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored & cut into rings

Marinade everything together in (A). Squeeze the pineapple chunks to get the juice when marinade. You can marinade a day before or up to 6 hours. When ready to cook, remove the pork chops from the marinade. Grill the pork chops and pineapple rings (B) or cook in a non-stick skillet. Once chops are cooked through, transfer to a plate together with the pineapple rings. Serve with salad on side.

Middle Eastern Inspired Meatballs

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Iran has been on my radar since my friends have shared their fascinating travel stories the other day over a Malaysian feast in Penang. Life gets in the way so seeking for a real Persian experience sounds too ambitious right now, perhaps Middle Eastern inspired meatballs for lunch at least? Realistic. Ha! And tasty, which I’m pretty sure my pantry has all that necessities you know, sumac, all spice, cumin and coriander to make that jazz. And of course, I shall continue to daydream about Iran as my next destination. Hhmmmm….one can have an Irangination no?

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Level: Easy

(A) Meatballs:

Ground beef

1/d cup of panko

1 egg

2 tablespoons of mint leaves, chopped

A handful of coriander leaves, chopped

3 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon of ginger, finely chopped

1 teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of sumac

1 teaspoon of coriander

1 teaspoon of allspice

Salt

Black pepper

Olive oil

 

(B) Tortilla (to wrap) Salad: purple cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes, mint leaves & shallots

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Combine all the ingredients in (A)  except olive oil and roll into balls. Cover and put in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up before cooking. When it is ready, you can fry in the pan or bake in oven. If frying is your option, make sure to flatten up the meatballs when cooking. If baking is your option, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 35 minutes for 200c (depending on the size of your meatballs) or until it is cooked. After cooking, let it rest for 10 minutes. Then arrange meatballs and salad on a tortilla. Top with your favourite spread (tzatziki, chutney or hummus) and it’s a wrap! For my choice of spread, I used coriander chutney made one day before.

Gaeng Ped (Southern Thai Curry)

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If you have tried eating or cooking Khua Kling before, then this dish should be familiar to you. I’ve introduced this Thai curry paste recipe before and the link to make Gaeng Ped is here: https://bitesbybee.com/2016/12/28/khua-kling-southern-thai-dry-curry/

Another Southern Thai favourite dish besides Khua Kling is definitely Gaeng Ped, using the same curry paste for Khua Kling but the style of cooking differs slightly, within the same territory but Gaeng Ped’s version is saucier as in comparison to Khua Kling.

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Gaeng Ped is normally cooked with slices of pork or bone-in chicken. I picked bone-in chicken because it keeps the meat moist and juicy. Feel free to use chicken breast but if you want a better chance at success with this recipe, go with bone-in chicken.

Level: Easy

½ a chicken, chopped

1 ½ cup of Southern Thai Curry Paste

1 tablespoon of fish sauce

Salt 1 tablespoon of palm sugar/brown sugar

Basil leaves

In a pan, stir in the curry paste over a medium heat. Keep stirring until fragrant. Add in the chicken and cook until partially cooked. Stir in fish sauce and palm sugar. Season to taste. Add in water if you like, keep in mind that the curry should be gravy like texture unlike Thai Green Curry. Stir until chicken is cooked, turn off the heat and throw in the Basil leaves. Serve with rice and fresh raw vegetables like cucumber and cabbage.

What I Ate for Brunch in 2016

Brunching in Malaysia is absolutely phat-bulous, so much variety that the multi-ethnic country has offered to the people is amazing; think of the eclectic mix of culinary delights (Malay, Chinese and Indian) and you are bound to meet Malaysians that can be awkwardly indecisive when it comes to brunching/dining out. Malaysians exhibiting this behaviour is very much acceptable.

Here is the thing, I might warn you that taking pictures of everything I eat is not my modus operandi but somehow over the 4 months back home in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, I do actually have some photos of eerr mostly, my brunch. Brunch it seems was the best time to socialize with my family and friends you know, with the right amount of indulgence. So here is my collection of what I’ve been brunching in Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia (mainly Kuala Lumpur and Penang) for the year 2016. These photos were taken in hawker stalls, markets, cafes and restaurants.

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Top: Baked Eggs Bottom:Croissant with Ham & Cheese – Kuala Lumpur
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Dosa with Chutneys & Sambar – Kuala Lumpur
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Pork Noodle Soup – Kuala Lumpur
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Had a doughnut covered with peanut butter & jelly – Kuala Lumpur
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Banana Leaf Rice – Kuala Lumpur
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Polenta bars, cured salmon trout, cauliflower & parmesan puree with poached eggs – Kuala Lumpur
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Spread of Dim Sum – Kuala Lumpur
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Black Curry Ramen – Kuala Lumpur
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Braised Beef Cheeks with Poached Eggs – Kuala Lumpur
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Spicy Baked Eggs with Beef, Mushrooms & Feta Cheese – Kuala Lumpur
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Nasi Lemak – Penang
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Mee Goreng – Penang
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Xiao Long Bao – Penang
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Pork and Cucumber – Penang
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Left: Curry Mee Top: Chee Cheong Fun Right: Char Koay Kak Bottom: Roti Canai – Penang
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Eggs on Toast – Penang
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Nasi Lemak & Kerabu Bihun – Penang
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Top: Curry Mee Bottom Left: Pork Porridge Bottom Right: Hokkien Mee – Penang
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Top: Nyonya cakes & Appam Bottom Left: Putu Mayung Bottom Right: Coconut Jam on Toast – Penang
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Just a cuppa – Penang
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Tomyum Noodle – Bangkok
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Khanom Jeen – Bangkok
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Pad Thai – Bangkok
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Thai Green Curry Chicken with Roti – Bangkok
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Tom Jeud/Thai Minced Pork Soup – Bangkok
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Croque Madame – Bangkok
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Bun Rieu & Vietnamese spring rolls – Ho Chi Minh City
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Pho – Danang
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Macaroni Soup – Ho Chi Minh City
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Banh Beo – Hue
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Bun Thit Nuong/Grilled Meat Vermicelli & Fried Noodles – Hue
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Com Tam/Broken Rice – Danang
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Vietnamese Iced Coffee – Ho Chi Minh City

 

Muffin Tin Omelettes

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This time last year my husband and I were discovering the wonders of Ho Chi Minh City; we were very lucky to settle in a modern nice pad in a local neighbourhood very close to the city centre. In this unknown exotica city, I was hoping to feel the instant ‘spark’ with this bustling city everyone seems to adore, but the lack of warmth and vitality of this place had given me the feeling as if something uncomfortable shifted within my bones. The expectation of a walk in the park has turned out to be an invigorating walk you know, metaphorically. As such, the year 2016 has kept me grounded more than ever. I am thankful for that.

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Truth to be told, I do not know what to do next. I don’t know what will happen next, but as for now, allow me to share this recipe I made for brunch. Prepare this in advance if you’d like and refrigerate them until ready to eat. Oh, did I mention no flour is needed with this muffin?

Level: Super Easy

1 big onion, peeled & diced

2 carrots peeled & diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

A big handful of spinach

A handful of shredded Parmesan cheese

Olive oil

Salt

Black pepper

12 eggs

1 tomato & fresh scallion for garnishing

Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion, carrots and bell pepper. When the vegetables are slightly cooked, stir in the spinach and remove from heat. Season to taste. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and pour evenly into each muffin tin. Spoon in the veggie mixture into each muffin tin. Then sprinkle in with some parmesan cheese. Bake at about 350f/180c for 30 to 35 minutes or until eggs are firm.