Healthy! My Easy Laksa Soup – without paste, without oil!

Healthy Easy Laksa by alittlebitofsoy

I love Laksa. Hot, Creamy and Rich… It is perfect for the cold weather as well as the hot sweaty summer. I love the fact that there are so many different varieties across Southeast Asia. It is fun to compare each Laksa in each region/country.

There are a few places that serve Laksa in Perth as well. Some are pretty good, some are not so good. What I have realised is they are quite often too oily for me. I am sure that the richness and creaminess can be achieved without this oil floating on the surface of the beautiful yellow soup…

So! I made my version of Laksa by keeping only what I like.

Difficult? NONONO! My recipes are never difficult!

My easy Laksa is:

  • No store-bought Laksa paste required
  • No need to make Laksa paste separately
  • No stock required
  • Not oily at all as no oil is used

Most of the ingredients (except cooking sake or white wine) should be found at the normal supermarket, therefore you can make it at home easily!

Most important tip for this Laksa recipe is how to cook the vegetables. I use a cooking method called “Mushi-yaki” in Japanese (or “Etuver” in French), where you cook the ingredients while they are steaming in their own juice. All you need to do is add salt to the vegetables and keep cooking on a low heat. That is all. This method is a wonderfully easy way to bring out the flavour of each ingredient. It is almost like making vegetable stock instantly in the pot.

This Laksa is one of my regular dinner repertoires, and my husband loves it too. Hope you add my Easy Laksa onto your regular menu and enjoy it as much as we do 🙂

Ingredients (Serving for 4)

For Chicken
1 piece of Chicken Breast (300g-330g) - cut into small pieces
1/2 Tablespoon of Cooking Sake or White Wine
1/2 Tablespoon of Fish Sauce
A pinch of Sea Salt

For Vegetables (There are just some examples. You can use any veggies left in your fridge!)
1 Onion - sliced
1 Carrot - diced
1 Capsicum - diced
3 heads of Bok Choy - roughly chopped
300g of Cabbage

Ingredients A
1 Tablespoon of ground Turmeric
1/2 Tablespoon of ground Coriander 
1/2 Tablespoon of Galam Masala
1 Teaspoon of ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon of Sea Salt
3 cloves of Garlic - finely chopped
20g of Ginger - julienne
1 Red Chili (or your choice of chili) - chopped

Ingredients B
900ml of Water
1 Tablespoon of Cooking Sake (or White Wine)
1/2 Teaspoon of Sea Salt
1 Bay Leaf - bend into half

Ingredients C
270ml of Coconut Cream
1 Teaspoon of Fish Sauce
1 Teaspoon of Sesame Oil

Topping
Fresh Coriander - chopped (as much as you like)
Method:

1. For Chicken, combine the chicken and all of the other ingredients in a small bowl. Put it aside. 

2. In a large pot, place all of the vegetables and 'Ingredients A', and combine them all together. Make sure that the vegetables are nicely coated with the spiced. 

3. Place the pot over a low heat with a lid on. As juice from the vegetables comes out, let them cook in their own juice. If the spices have started burning on the bottom of the pot, add 1 tablespoon of water into the pot. Stir occasionally. Keep cooking for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables become soft and tender. 

4. Once the vegetables become soft and tender, add the chicken including liquid (from Method 1) and ' Ingredient B' into the pot. Increase the heat to medium. Once the soup has started evaporating, reduce the heat to low and simmer it for about 20 minutes. 

5. Taste the soup and season it with sea salt if necessary. Turn the heat off. Add all of 'Ingredients C' into the pot and stir well. 

6. Top with fresh coriander and serve it while hot. 
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Traditional Japanese Cooking : Simmered Sardines with Ginger

Fremantle Sardines in Japanese Way !

Raw = Fresh

It is my food formula. When you think about Tsukiji Fish Market, you can see where my idea comes from. For this reason, I feel really strange to see a lot of fish shops in this city selling frozen fish.

We buy our favourite New Zealand King Salmon from this fish monger. His NZ King Salmon is always beautiful, sashimi-grade and “freshly raw”. On the other hand, he also sells frozen seafood – even his oysters are frozen. One day he told me his belief. He believes freezing seafood straight away on the boat is the best way to keep the freshness. Ummm… OK…

When we visited him to pick up the beautiful raw salmon the other day, we found Fremantle Sardines sold at a reasonable price (not $3 each like other shops!!). Frozen, of course. According to him, they were “freshly frozen”.

Sardines are one of my favourites…, but I have never seen frozen sardines (except bait)… By the way, is “freshly frozen” a possible term?

When he say disapproval on my face, he threw a few of these frozen Fremantle sardines into my bag, saying “I supply them to most of the high-end restaurants in Perth”.

Verdict?

I had to rush back to him for a kilo of them.

Of course, you do not eat them raw (especially when it comes to sardines which are commonly known as perishable fish. Even we eat them raw only a the trusted restaurant). However, they were fresh. Yes, they are “freshly frozen”. Although my “fresh” and his “fresh” might be slightly different, I must admit that it is possible, and he knows what he is doing with fish!

SO!!! I am really excited to be able to add sardines to my regular repertoire.

As my first sardine recipe on this blog, I chose this traditional Japanese dish called “Iwashi no Shoga ni” – Simmered Sardines with Ginger.

This is sardines simmered in sake, soy sauce and mirin (called Japanese Three Sacred Treasures by me!) with ginger. Ginger gives a freshness and sweetness to the dish and matches with the unique and strong flavour of sardines.

The key of this dish is to use “fresh” sardines, either raw or frozen, whichever are available!

I really feel like home when I eat this sardine dish with Japanese rice (aka my precious)… This is so Japanese… If you miss Japanese home cooking like me, please try this recipe. I guarantee you will feel like you are in Japan.

Ingredients:
6 Sardines (if you use frozen sardines, defrost them in the fridge)
10g of Ginger - cut into julianne

For Simmering Sauce
150ml of Water
50ml of Cooking Sake
2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon of Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Mirin
How to Clean Sardines

1. Under gently running cold water, rinse the sardines and scrape off the scales with a knife.

2. Cut off the heads.

3. Cut an incision along the belly. Remove the guts from the opened belly. 

4. Wash both inside and outside of the sardine under gently running cold water and pat dry. 
Method: 

1. In a small/ medium size pan, in which the sardine can fit perfectly, put all ingredients for the simmering sauce and half of the ginger. Bring it to boil.  

2. Once it is boiled, reduce the heat to medium/low. Lay the sardines in the pot. Cover with a *drop lid (Otoshi-buta) and simmer for about 10 minutes.  

3. Remove the drop lid and add the remaining ginger. Put the drop lid back on and simmer for another 10 minutes. 

4. Turn the heat off and let it stand for about 3-5 minutes to cool them down slightly (so that it is easier to lift the sardines up without breaking the meat). Plate sardines up with some ginger and sauce while warm. 
*Otoshi-buta (drop lid) 

Otoshi-buta is a lid which is smaller than the dimension of the saucepan. The lid floats on top of the liquid in a pan. Otoshi-buta helps heat to be distributed and flavour to be observed into each ingredient evenly. It also assists ingredients with holding in the position, so that they can keep their shapes. 

Otoshi-buta is commonly made by wood, but if you do not have one, you can substitute it with aluminium foil or baking paper.

<How to make Otoshi-buta with aluminium foil or baking paper> 

Cut aluminium foil that covers a saucepan that you are using. Make a circle shape by tucking the edge, so that it can be fit inside of the saucepan. Make a cross incision in the middle that will work as a vent during simmering.

The Easiest Ever – Simplified Easy Ponzu Dressing

If you have ever been to a Japanese restaurant, I am sure that you have heard of this sauce called “Ponzu”.

Easy Ponzu Dressing _ a little bit of soy

Ponzu, which is a citrus based sauce, is commonly used in Japan as a condiment. How common? It is REALLY common.

Ponzu is tangy, fresh and yet quit round. In my opinion, it goes well with everything! AS a condiment, you can use it on a light flavoured dish (e.g. Salad, Tofu, Nabe Hot Pot) to give a bit of excitement, or you can use it for fatty proteins (e.g. fatty salmon, beef steak) to give a bit of refreshment.

The Standard recipe of Ponzu sauce is combine Soy Sauce and your favourite citrus (Yuzu and Sudachi Citrus are common in Japan), and then soak a piece of dried kelp and bonito flakes in the juice to make the sauce softer and sweeter. It is ready to use after resting it in the fridge from overnight to a week.

Today, I would like to introduce my super easy version of it.

Here we are in Australia in the busy environment. If you are like me, do you feel that you cannot be bothered searching for some special Japanese ingredients and waiting for another day to taste it?

In this Ponzu recipe, I made it as Ponzu “dressing” rather than “sauce”, therefore, it is still good to use on the day it’s made. Of course you can make a big volume and store it in the fridge too, just like a normal Ponzu recipe.

I use Lime here, but if you wish, you can mix with lemons and/or oranges and make your own citrus flavour!

If you would like to use up your citrus from your garden and/or try something different on your salad, please try this ponzu dressing. Hope you like it.

Ingredients:

150ml Lime Juice
50ml Soy Sauce
2.5g Dried Bonito Flakes (Japanese Katsuo bushi)
Method: 

Mix all ingredients
You can use it straight away or it can be stored in the fridge for a week to make it rounder. 
My easy Ponzu on Salad – a little bit of soy

Delicious! Salmon Mizore-ni (Salmon with Grated Daikon Radish) + about store-bought Dashi Stock

Salmon Mizore-ni (Salmon with grated daikon radish) – a little bit of soy

Even though I do not like cold weather, I have a few things to look forward to in winter, such as Riccaldo Banfi long boots, Cue grey wool coat, Hot Cocoa, Hojicha Latte, mulled wine etc…

And… (It maybe sounds a bit funny but!), Daikon Radish is one of them.

You might see Daikon Radish throughout the year, but Daikon in winter is much sweeter. I enjoy it raw, in soup, simmered, stir-fried… in any form really! I love its juiciness, freshness, sweetness, crunchiness…, I just love everything about daikon.

In today’s recipe, my daikon is “grated”. After pan-frying salmon, I simmer it in the grated daikon sauce. Fatty & flavoursome salmon cooked in sweet & fresh daikon radish melting in Japanese Dashi stock. It sounds very Japanese hey? Yes, it is very Japanese and is very delicious!

This dish is called “Mizore-ni”. “Mizore” means “Sleet” and “Ni” means “simmered” in Japanese. Grated daikon looks like sleet, therefore, dishes using it is are called so.

I think it is quite a pretty name…

As it is really delicious I want many people to cook this recipe (or any of my Japanese recipes really), I would just like to talk about Japanese Dashi Stock here a bit.

You might feel a bit foreign about Dashi Stock, which I definitely think is one of the key ingredients in Japanese cooking. I introduced my Awase Dashi recipe here. It would be wonderful if you are keen to make it. But, if not, please do not hesitate to use store-bought dashi stock powder. I use it really really often! I even use it as a substitute for chicken and vegetable stock when I cook non-Japanese food.

If you are sensitive about food additives, go for “additive-free” ” All Natural” (無添加)or “MSG free” (化学調味料不使用).

They are available at any Asian/Japanese supermarkets.

If you are happy to go for something super good but a bit pricey, this is the brand I like ( https://usa.kayanoya.com/ ). I am not actually sure if you can find it in Australia… but if you see this brand, go ahead!

Hope this information encourages you to cook this recipe – Salmon Mizore-ni. I guarantee it is delicious!

Ingredients (Serving for 2)

For Salmon

2 fillets of Salmon (about 350g - 380g in total) - skin off and cut into 3cm cubes

2 pinches of Sea Salt

1 Teaspoon of Plain Flour (or your choice of your flour)

For "Mizore" Daikon Sauce

300g Daikon Radish - grated

100ml Dashi Stock (or 100ml Water + 1/2 Teaspoon of Japanese Dashi Powder)

1 Tablespoon of Cooking Sake

1 Teaspoon of Soy Sauce

Chopped Spring Onions as a garnish
Method: 

1. Sprinkle sea salt over salmon fillets and wrap the salmon with paper towel. Leave it for about 20 minutes. This is a good method to remove excess water from the salmon, which contains the fishy smell. 

2. Heat a frying-pan with 1 teaspoon of cooking oil (not included in the ingredients' list above). Coat the salmon with plain flour. Pan-fry the salmon until both sides becomes nicely browned.  

3. Remove the salmon from the frying pan. Wipe and remove the excess oil from the frying pan. Add grated daikon (including the liquid), dashi stock, cooking sake and soy sauce into the same frying pan. Bring it to the boil. 

4. Once it is boiled, reduce the heat to medium/low and add the salmon into the sauce. Simmer it for about 1 minute. Plate the salmon with the grated daikon sauce. Top with chopped spring onion to serve.  

My Hojicha Latte

It is autumn. It is getting cooler here in Perth, especially in the morning and at night. It is really perfect weather for me – for a tea drinker.

I would like to introduce my recent favourite drink today.

My recent favourite – Hojicha Latte – a little bit of soy

It is Hojicha Latte.

Hojicha is roasted Japanese Green tea. I love Hojicha. It is mild and subtle, but at the same time, I can enjoy the beautiful distinctive roasted flavour.

Making latte with this tea is just perfect…. You can enjoy the wonderful roasted aroma in warm rich milk. Warm, relaxing, mellow…. It is just a perfect drink for this season….

The method is really easy. The key is just not to boil it, or the tea will taste bitter and the milk will lose its flavour.

Personally I think that Hojicha latte is a good entrance to get into the Japanese tea world. Even if you are still a Japanese tea beginner, I am sure you will still enjoy it ( and if you are a Japanese tea lover, why not try it!).
Hope you like it.

Ingredients (serving for 2 mugs): 
8g of Hojicha (Roasted Green Tea)
200ml of Water
300ml of your choice of Milk
<Optional>1 teaspoon of Sugar
Method: 
1. Boil 200ml water in a small pot. Once it is boiled, turn the heat off and add Hojicha into it. Brew it for 3 minutes.

2. Add milk into the pot and warn it over low heat for 3 minutes. Make sure not to boil it. Add sugar if you want to make it sweet. Serve while warm.

Low-carb! Cauliflower Cheese with Tofu Miso Creamy Sauce

I occasionally crave gratin. I love the combination of bechamel sauce and cheese melting all together. I love the look in the oven – the bubbling sauce and golden surface…. Yum Yum Yum.

However…, gratin is not certainly suitable when you are on a diet…, I know…, but I still feel like it.

So! I made this recipe.

Cauliflower Cheese with Tofu Miso Creamy Sauce

In this recipe, I made white sauce out of Silken Tofu. The key is to remove the tofu’s unique smell (see the method below) and mix the tofu until it becomes super smooth. I added Miso, which gives a richness and depth to the delicate tofu.

This was actually one of my experimental recipes, but it came out really good on the first trial. This is a keeper, definitely!

This Tofu Miso Creamy Sauce is suitable for a gluten free diet as well.

When you are on a diet and sick of salad and soup, try this low-carb cauliflower cheese!
Hope you like it.

Ingredients (Serving 3-4)
600g of Cauliflower - cut into medium-sized florets
1 Onion - sliced
3 teaspoons of Olive Oil
A pinch of Sea Salt
60g of Parmesan Cheese - shredded

For Tofu Miso Creamy Sauce
300g of Silken Tofu
2 tablespoons of Milk
1 1/2 teaspoons of Miso (I use Shinshu Miso)
1/2 teaspoon of Soy Sauce
A pinch of Sea Salt for seasoning
Method: 
1. Preheat oven to 200 C.

2. Firstly we make Tofu Miso Cream. Wrap tofu with 2-3 layers of paper towels and microwave it for 2 minutes.
Remove it from the microwave and place a flat plate or a light chopping board on top of the tofu. Do not unwrap the paper towels.
Leave it for about 5 minutes. This is a good method to remove the excess water from tofu, which contains tofu's unique smell.

3. Place all the ingredients of Tofu Miso Cream (except sea salt), and combine well well until it becomes homogenised and smooth. You can use a electric mixer if you wish.

4. Taste the tofu miso creamy sauce and add a pinch of sea salt as necessary. Put it aside

5. Place cauliflower and onion in a baking tray. Coat them with olive oil and sea salt evenly.

6. Pour the Tofu Miso Cream over the cauliflower and put Parmesan cheese on top.

7. Bake it for about 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is cooked and the cheese becomes golden. Serve while hot.

The Easiest Ever! Pho Ga Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

The Easiest Ever – Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)!!

Super Easy Pho Ga Recipe

You can make the Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup (Pho Ga) from scratch so easily at home by using the bi-product from my Super Moist Boiled Chicken!

My Super Moist Boiled Chicken is one of my favourite recipes, since it is really easy to make and can be prepared in advance. In addition, the recipe produces beautifully clear broth.
As the broth is already flavoursome, you do not need any special ingredients to make this delicious Pho.

In this recipe, I simply doubled up the measurements of the original boiled chicken. In that way, you can enjoy one of the boiled chicken breast one day as a main dish, and Pho Ga on another day – dinner menu sorted for 2 days!

Next time you need a Vietnamese fix, try this recipe. You do not need to go out for it anymore….

Ingredients (serving for 4):
1500 ml of the remaining Chicken Broth from my Super Moist Boiled Chicken
1 Onion - sliced
1/2 tablespoon of Fish Sauce
200g Flat Rice Noodles
1 Super Moist Boiled Chicken Breast - sliced
250g of Bean Sprouts - washed

For Condiments
1 bunch of Coriander
1 Chili - sliced
2 tablespoons of Fish Sauce
1 Lime
Method:
1. Place chicken broth and sliced onions into a pot and bring it to a boil.

2. In the mean time, prepare rice noodles as per packet directions (Normally I soak noodles in warm water).

3. Once the broth is boiled, reduce the heat to low and add 1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce. Simmer it on a low heat until it is ready to serve.

4. For condiments, soak sliced chili in 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, chop coriander and cut lime into wedges.

5. Divide the noodles into serving bowls. Top with the chicken and bean sprouts and pour the broth over the noodles. Top with the coriander. Serve with the chili fish sauce and lime wedges.