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May 2013

In Asian, Recipe on
May 11, 2013

Jap Chae

Whilst talking to a friend about things I like to cook, I’ve realised that I haven’t been cooking much as of late. Actually, I haven’t really cooked much this year at all!! My weekend lunch breaks have been rather boring, as I now prefer to microwave leftovers or cook something ‘instant’ rather than spending hours experimenting with funky foods as I used to. And when I do have the time, I’d much rather spend it baking than cooking.

Much of my prior experimenting with cooking is unblogged simply because it didn’t quite turn out as I’d expected and it I was usually too lazy to photograph my creations after spending too much time in making it in the first place. The following recipe doesn’t quite fit in this category however, as it turned out even more amazing than I’d expected, and I’ve actually photographed it many times……..I’ve just never quite gotten around to blogging about it!

It’s amazingly easy and tasty, so after having an itch to cooking something (anything!), I naturally went for this recipe. I’ve made this numerous times through the years, based on this trusty recipe, and chucking in whatever I can find in the fridge into it. If you love Jap Chae, you’ve got to try this recipe- it tastes just like the ones I’ve had at Korean restaurants (if not better!) and it’s so easy to make! I’ve also made a salad version, by cooking the sauce separately, then cooling and tossing with the remaining ingredients- it makes a great lunchbox alternative to sandwiches!! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Jap Chae

Recipe From Steamy Kitchen

1/2 pound dried Korean sweet potato noodles
2 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
1 tablespoon cooking oil
3/4 cup thinly sliced onions
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 stalks green onions, cut into 1โ€ณ lengths
1/2 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced (shitake, wood ear)
1/2 lb spinach, washed well and drained
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I also add in another tablespoon of dark doy for some colour)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1. Fill a large pot with water and boil. When water is boiling, add the noodles and cook for 5 minutes. Immediately drain and rinse with cold water. Drain again and toss with only 1 tsp of the sesame oil. Use kitchen shears to cut noodles into shorter pieces, about 8 inches in length. Set aside.
2. In bowl, mix soy sauce & sugar together. Add the cooking oil in a wok or large saute pan on high heat and swirl to coat. When the cooking oil is hot but not smoking, fry onions and carrots, until just softened, about 1 minute. Add the garlic, green onions and mushrooms, fry 30 seconds. Then add the spinach, soy sauce, sugar and the noodles. Fry 2-3 minutes until the noodles are cooked through. Turn off heat, toss with sesame seeds and the remaining 1 1/2 tsp of sesame oil.
*rehydrate your mushrooms if you are using dried

Note: I like to make mine non-vegetarian by throwing in some beef or chicken.I also like to double the sauce ingredients (soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil) and then tweak the sauce according to taste. 

In Asian, Dining on
May 2, 2013

Thai Elements, Liverpool

BBQ Calamari

Yet another group buy voucher takes us to Thai Elements, a small restaurant and take-away joint in Liverpool, which seems to be popular with the locals….of which we are not, having traveled 45 minutes to get here. The restaurant doubles up as an Indian restaurant, with two separate menus- one with Thai options and the other with Indian, though we notice the Thai food is much more popular.

Our voucher entitles us to the Thai options only, which we’re fine with, as there’s plenty of enticing options. We start off with the BBQ calamari, a small serving of grilled calamari rings which seemed quite an interesting option for a Thai restaurant as the flavours reminded us of marinated meats at Korean BBQs. They were tasty though, even if the calamari was a little on the chewy side, and we had no problem finishing the whole dish, sauce and everything.

Shrimp and Crab Net Spring Roll

The spring rolls are easily our favourite of the night and we’re glad that unlike the other fried options, these come in a serving of 6. The net wrapper gives these spring rolls a light and crisp shatter as you bite into these, a unique texture quite different to the usual harder crunch of spring rolls. The filling is also a far cry from ‘normal’ spring rolls, with the shrimp and crab giving a pleasantly sweet taste- I could easily finish off a couple plates of these- they’re that good!

Coconut Prawns

We’re unsure as to what exactly the coconut prawns are, but the combination of coconut with juicy prawns sounds like an excellent idea. It turns out however, there isn’t much of the rich coconut flavour we were anticipating with the prawns- instead these are delicious deep fried prawn pieces battered with coconut shreds which impart a satisfying crunch to each bite.

Prawn In Blanket

And because we love crunchiness so much, we also order the ‘prawn in a blanket’- a rather imaginative way to describing prawn pieces wrapped with a spring roll wrapper, much like a version my mum makes at home. They’re tasty, but simply don’t compare to the net spring rolls we’ve had before.

BBQ Beef (Crying Tiger)

The BBQ beef has a nice smoky flavour, but although the menu states that it’s grilled with an assortment of Thai herbs, there’s not much of the fragrant herb taste that we’d anticipated and we resort to dipping the beef slices into the seafood salad dressing as it’s a bit bland for our tastes. The meat is also quite tough, and although it was cut into nice thing pieces, it took us quite a lot of  (chewing) effort to get through all the beef pieces.

Seafood Jungle Curry
 

I’m not usually a fan of watery curries, but this one sounded tasty enough with it’s “hot” warning. We find however, that it isn’t actually very hot and doesn’t even leave us reaching for water and the curry itself was a little on the bland side.

Seafood Salad
 

The seafood salad is the one which really should come with the “hot” warning as we all find our tongues tingling from the spicy dressing. The dressing is quite tasty and pleasant and it’s quite similar to most other Thai salad dressings we’ve had,  with a bit of sourness, a tad bit of sweetness and a lot of chilli

Not that the hotness stops us from scooping up the dressing and drenching the seafood and veggies in it- it is incredibly delicious and moreish and we just can’t get enough of it!

Sizzling Thai Style Mixed Seafood

The sizzling seafood looks deceptively plain and boring, with a selection of seafood and veggies sitting on a smoking sizzling dish. The serving is also rather small in comparison to our other mains, which is a bit of a shame as we finished this in no time! We couldn’t quite figure out what the sauce was, but it was incredibly addictive and delicious and complimented the seafood perfectly- if only we’d ordered a second derving of this instead of the curry…………

Bananas in Coconut Milk
 
There’s only two dessert options for the night so we order two of each. The bananas in coconut milk is just that- which I found a tad boring (especially as I’m not a huge fan of banana in the first place) but others found it to be quite an enjoyable combination.
Ice-Cream With caramel Topping
 
Boring as it might seem, I much prefer the ice-cream- two minature balls of plain ice cream with a drizzle of caramel topping, 
 
With the voucher, this meal was unbelievably great value ($49 for 4), but we’re surprised that the menu itself is pretty well priced with mains at around $13 each- we’ll definitely be coming back more often when we’re in the area!!
 

Thai Elements Restaurant & Takeaway on Urbanspoon