Wednesday, 18 April 2012

and the new beginning for us all.

Good friend of mine at work once mentioned how fed up he was with it all. 
He was upset having to struggle months on ends. To be able to live a little, and to pursuit the passion of his life, he said this job was getting just too depressing. With very little in return of all those hard work and hours that he puts in, he wondered if it was worth it at all, after all.

It was strange, a bit strange to feel like listening to your own voice that you have been trying so hard to avoid to acknowledge.
The same kind of conversation carried on many times after that between us, but never once I thought, he would actually be, leaving. Not because that I have doubted his desire for a new direction but just because, I thought, it was one of those moments that we all go through every now and then. Just so we can dream a little thinking that the life was perhaps, greener on the other side.

The day that he announced that he was leaving for good, we were all very upset. 
It was sad to realise that there wasn't going to be this funny, stomach cramping and sometimes a bit over the top 'ED the Hero' character, who puts a big smile on all of any old sad faces in the salon any more. 
And I was upset that, there will not be any more of those conversations that we shared. The very sort of conversations that I was deeply comforted by.

I gave him a big hug. 
A hug to celebrate his courage for making that next step, the brave step that I always feared to commit.

A few days later, I spoke to my brother to congratulate him for his success in getting a job. 
He said he was just in bit of luck to have been offered such a position. I don't think he realises what a brilliant news it is to the rest of the family. 
For him to be able to secure such a job means, the ray of sunshine to my mum and dad who unfortunately has been lost in the gloomy tunnel. 
It is a delightful hope that will guide them into the positive dreams of making the small steps to find the new beginning.

Scotch Eggs

150g raw king prawns, shells removed
2 small shallots, roughly chopped
1inch root ginger, roughly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 chilli, roughly chopped
handful of fresh coriander
4 eggs, use 3 for the scotch eggs and 1 lightly beaten for the coating
some plain flour
some breadcrumbs
salt and pepper 
oil for frying

This is not just Scotch Eggs. 
This is very sumptuous scotch eggs covered in aromatic prawn paste that is very light but packed with flavour. The hint of fiery chilli will give you a little kick as you bite into those crispy layer of its outer coat and as you work your way into its runny centre, it will, indeed wow you with its beautifully silky texture.

The most important part of this dish is the boiling of eggs. 
I like to keep my yokes very runny so it can be a bit tricky. Obviously, how you want them is entirely up to you. If you prefer your yokes more cooked through then just cook them for longer. 
I drop my eggs into boiling water with little salt and simmer for about 6mins. Make sure eggs are at room temperature. When they are done, take them out and put them into the ice cold water too cool them. Once cooled, peel them very carefully.

Meanwhile, make the prawn paste by blending shallots, ginger, garlic, fresh coriander, chilli and prawns with little salt and pepper. When they become smooth in consistency and very green in colour, they are ready.

To put things together, you need some cling film.
Place your cling film onto the work surface and spread the prawn paste thinly in the middle, wide enough to cover the egg. Lightly flour the egg and place it onto the centre of the paste that you just spread and lift up the edges of the cling film carefully to cover the egg. 
This may seem very fiddly but you will soon find it easy enough once you get the hang of it.

Now, dust your eggs with little flour, dip them in lightly whisked egg and then onto the breadcrumbs.
The easiest way to do this is to use one hand for the wet ingredients, in this case dipping the eggs into the whisked egg and the other for dry. This way you won't end up with lots of messy fingers.
I used Panko breadcrumbs for this dish. 
They are flaky Japanese breadcrumbs which gives much lighter and crispier finish when fried. But an ordinary breadcrumbs will work fine too.

Finally, fry them in hot oil until golden and enjoy it. 
Delicious with homemade garlic mayonnaise!

The new beginning for us all.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

In the thick of it all.

It's not that often I get to experience people arguing first handedly other than, my own arguments that I have with those who happens to share a slightly different views from time to time, and even rarer, to hear it in Korean.
I kind of got sucked into it and sort of listen to it without realising that I was, indeed, listening. I listened while pretending to shop, very slowly. As if, I had an extensive shopping list that I'd forgotten to bring it with me. As if, I was trying my damn hardest to jog my memories back while browsing every single items on the shelve thinking, 'oh, was this it?', when actually, the focuses were on the other side of the counter where much more fun things, and of course this would be for their expenses unfortunately, were happening.

I think the lady was a bit embarrassed with the whole situation and she kept telling her husband to stop.

From the previous conversations I had with her husband, I know she is his wife and this is their shop. It is fairly small grocery store but specialises mostly Korean and some Japanese products that will bring home to any Korean.

Funny thing was though, it reminded me of my parents. 
It took me straight back to my parents' shop where they worked together for their dream, where they bickered with no ends, and where they fought hard for success.
My dad used to tell my mum to stop, stop talking. He is a man with very few words and he never really liked the tedious arguments. But she would go on and on, until my dad looses his temper. My dad would just walk away. 
I used to hate looking at his back. With his shoulders all crouched and his feet so heavy, he looked ever so sad, helpless and tired.

The lady at the grocery store, shyly apologised for the atmosphere.
I smiled, and said it was all okay.

Hot Chilli Pepper Tofu

1 pack of firm tofu, cubed
1 tbsp corn flour
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 inch ginger, chopped
1 fiery chilli, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp corn syrup
1 tsp sesame oil
60ml water
pinch of chilli powder
pinch of toasted sesame seeds
some finely chopped spring onion
some vegetable oil
salt and pepper

I love tofu. It is one of those ingredient that carries flavours very well and depends on how you cook them, it changes its texture from soft and tender to crisp and crunchy.
This dish is easy to prepare and simple flavour combinations of hot and sweet works wonders.

First of all, pat dry tofu before you cube them to remove excess water and coat them lightly with corn flour. Add pinch of salt and generous helpings of freshly cracked black and white pepper. 
Heat some oil into the non stick frying pan over medium to high heat, and gently shallow fry them until golden. This should take around 5mins. Remove cooked tofu cubes and set aside.

Use the same pan, heat some oil and gently fry the chopped onion, garlic, ginger and chilli until onions are softened. I tend to add half the amount of chillies at the beginning to introduce some chilli flavour into the oil and add the other half at the end of the cooking process to keep the freshness.
Once onions are softened, add tofu, soy, sugar and chilli powder along with water. Bring them up to boil and simmer on low heat until tofu has soaked up all the juices. This simmering process allows tofu to take on the flavours of the sauce.

Stir in the corn syrup which will give lovely sheen to the dish and drizzle sesame oil and seeds for the gorgeous nutty flavour.
Sprinkle finely chopped spring onions and dig in.

I, in my heart, whispered. 
After all, it is living, living the life together in the thick of it all.