Asian Food (Round 3)

March 13, 2011

Have you ever bought something, or contemplated buying something, and you thought to yourself, "I could probably make this myself for a fraction of the price"? That though pops into my head a lot, and for this round of Asian cooking, I followed through with that thought. Twice.

There were a couple days where I was craving char siu fahn (BBQ pork rice) so I went out to the nearby shopping centre to eat in the food court. As I sat there eating, I decided once again that I didn't want to pay for such a simple dish I could easily make for myself at home. Char siu and rice. How hard could that be?

Well, theoretically, it's quite simple. You get yourself a piece of pork, smother it with char siu sauce, let it sit for a while, then stick it in the oven. The effort was minimal. The results... well, let's just say I was a little disappointed. Even after following the instructions exactly, it didn't come out tasting like normal char siu. My mom suggested getting a different cut of meat or using chu hou paste instead. Either way, I'll probably give this one another go after I get over the disappointment.

homemade char siu
Then, I was craving some hot pot, so we had that one night. And by hot pot, I mean that I was standing over the stove tossing in all our typical hot pot ingredients while the boys played on the computer. The first time we had hot pot (steam boat) in Australia was with some friends for Chinese New Year. One of them had brought some potato starch noodles, which I was instantly hooked on. Nathan, on the other hand, fell in love with fish tofu.

fish tofu
I love having noodles with hot pot. In fact, when we hot pot with my family, I'm the designated noodle cooker. It's a very important job. I take it very seriously.

I may have went a little overboard with the noodles. But the leftovers were soooo good. All that flavour soaked up into fat, slurpy noodles. Yum!

In another effort to save ourselves $14.50 for five measly pieces of meat, I attempted to make one of Andrew's favourites - salt and pepper pork. He used to order this all the time and I wouldn't touch it. I'm not sure why, but I think I had some sort of fear of the unknown. Well, I finally gave it a try and now I'm hooked (again) and regretting that I didn't try it sooner.

This dish turned out much better than the char siu. It was gone in minutes.

The last dish for this round was "Swiss wings". In a quick search on the Internet, I found that there was no real way of making these. I ended up calling up my friend who gave me the typical Chinese "add a bit of this and that" type of recipe. Not really knowing how much of "this and that" to add, I threw together some of the ingredients I could remember and hoped for the best.

The wings turned out fine. The flavour wasn't as intense as the time she made it, but I later found out it's because 1. she gave me the name for a marinade different from the one she used, and 2. I didn't use enough. Apparently, you're supposed to dump in half the bottle. I'll remember that for next time.

So for the sake of saving money, I have learned two new dishes. The only problem with the whole "I'm not paying for this anymore, I can make this myself" thought is that it doesn't take into account the amount of effort needed to plan ahead. While it takes mere minutes for a restaurant to whip up your order, at home, you need to look up the recipe, go out and buy all the required ingredients, prep the ingredients and then finally make the food. Some people may be able to do this with ease but in our family, our schedule doesn't really allow for too much of this.


Elizabeth said...

Congrats on getting internet back! It's nice to read your updates again.

Hehe we had hot pot two nights ago too. Nathan has good tastes, I LOVE fish tofu :) Do you have those little Longaniza sausages? They're super red and sweet but sooo yummy for hot pot

Kat said...

Everything looks so good! I love salt and pepper pork. I should start learning how to cook chinese food from the parentals lol.

Bernice said...

Liz: what are Longaniza sausages? I'll have to look into this!

Kat: seriously! And then you'll have to teach me!

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