Grilled Octopus and Bavette Steak – Chez Boom

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It has been a pretty good summer this year though The Boom and Junk did not have much luck BBQ wise. So, an end of summer BBQ do was due!

Junk having to maneuver her rump into town, offered to make some additions to Boom’s bavette steaks. According to the horse’s mouth, it was a rare cut at the local SuperM and 500g of cow for £6 was not half bad.

In the meantime, I was forewarn by Boom that whatever I managed to forage from Borough Market needs to fit well and proper on the BBQ grill, no fish baskets or the likes which means my catch needs to be big….OK….biggish!

Got the idea of Surf ‘n’ Turf in my head and off I went to….

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And this is my friend on the hot tube home!

Junk feels cheated! Count the feet….only 7? And this cost me £16+!!! At the very least, it has been gutted and cleaned. No possibility of an ink related incident!

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Recipes from the interweb all said to boil/stew the octopus for at least 45 minutes in a concoction of dry white wine and various herbage… or none!

Tossed in a handful of black peppercorn, bay leaves, few cloves of smashed garlic and a quartered onion.

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No white wine… so dry cider it shall be! Half a can…

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After 1 hour, what a beauty!

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Are you feeling the heat?

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How about now?

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Carved up…

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And served!

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I think I boiled the octopus a tad too much. Folks! Stick to 45 minutes instead of an hour!

Boom – Ease up on the steak marinade next time ok?

Chez Boom
Somewhere in West London
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week
Only by invitation

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Homemade Savoury Rice Dumpling (Bak Chang) – West London

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Junk is always up for a challenge when it comes to replicating food from my childhood days. Previous endeavours include yam cake, radish cake, samosas, laksa and various other dishes my Mom would make. With time on my hands and a pair of spare hands from Boom, decided to up the ante and try something more daunting.

Bak chang or zongzi is a Chinese bamboo leaf wrapped snack made from glutinous rice stuffed with various ingredients. Depending on the stuffing, it can either be savoury or sweet. There is even a Nonya version which is a hybrid of the two with a slightly sweet minced pork stuffing. I went for the traditional version with pork, dried mushroom, chestnuts, dried shrimp and other bits and pieces with five spice seasoning.

Won’t bore you with the ingredient list and detailed instructions. You can refer to other blogs for that. I know you are only interested in the pics!

The most important ingredient – Glutinous Rice, in original packing. after an overnight soak and fried with seasoning

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The wrapper – Bamboo leaves, in original packing and also after a soak.

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Stuffing – Chinese wax sausage and Salted Duck Egg. Note, you only need the egg yolk and it does not need to be cooked as the salting process solidifies the yolk

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More stuffing – Dried Shrimp, Dried Mushroom and Chestnuts. The dried stuff needs to soaked before frying.

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Shallots – Skinned, thinly sliced and fry till golden. See the amount of steam released while frying the shallots. Dreamy…

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Junk’s bunch – Proudly supported by Boom

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Boom’s bunch – Not bad an effort from the big clumsy cheese!

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The horde – After slow boiling in water for 2.5 hours.

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What we had for dinner! 2 bak chang each and some homemade samosas.

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What I had for breakfast this morning. Reheat in microwave on medium for 2 minutes.

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Best served with Lao Gan Ma’s Flavoured Chilli Oil or Maggi Garlic Chilli Sauce. I had a mixture of both!

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If anyone of you are interested and located in London, I have frozen the reminder of the horde and will be more than happy to share. Just drop me a comment!
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Homemade Ramen Burger – Chez Boom

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With the recent trend of hybrid foods like duffins and cronuts making the news, the one that took my fancy is the Ramen Burger. Seeing that Go Ramen! is really making a name for himself with it, thought I give it a try to see if the hype is of any substance.

The idea of using ramen noodles to form the bun of a burger is not rocket science. Back when I was in Singapore (Yes, back when policeman wear shorts!), Mos Burger, a Japanese burger chain already has a burger with a bun made from compressed sticky rice. Without stretching the imagination too much, it’s called a rice burger and is fairly popular amongst the rice eating population of Singapore. Yo! Sushi had a similar limited edition rice burger as well!

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After reading a couple of how-to articles, this was what I’ve done. First, cook the noodles as per instructions. I thought the bacon flavoured Bachelor’s Super Noodles will work well since it’s a burger. I know that the Bachelor’s noodles soaks up loads of water and is of a mushy consistency which will only help when it comes to forming the burger bun.

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Gooey mixture after adding 2 beaten egg as binding agent. Make sure the noodles have cooled down before mixing the egg or the egg might scrambled.

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2 packet of noodles into 4 portions. 2 buns for each burger. I used a mixture of tapas ramekin and cookie ring. Any round shaped container will work fine. I lined the base of the container with cling film to help with removing the noodle bun.

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Fold over cling film and weigh it slightly to help the bun firm up. Tuna tins were perfect as they are the correct size and not too heavy that it will sink into the mixture. Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to chill and firm.

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Pan fry the noodle bun. Make sure you use a non-stick pan and do not turn the bun over till you are sure the bottom is well browned.

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Like this! A couple of heart stopping moment while trying to flip the bun.

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Made up burger. The rest of the burger were made up of typical ingredients, stored bought burger patty, caramelised onions, Kewpie mayo (keeping it Japanese), gherkin, raw chopped onions, sliced tomatoes etc….

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So how was the experiment, was it worth it? Taste wise, the noodle bun is slightly crispy on the outside and slightly mushy/chewy on the inside, much like the consistency of an okonomiyaki batter. Surprisingly, you can’t taste the strands of the noodles after pan frying. The bacon flavour of the noodles added a smoky taste overall and perhaps a better quality noodle odd to be used so it still retains the ramen identity.

The Boom was all carbed out after the burger and oven fries. He agreed with me that this was a fun experiment but overall just a fad.

Chez Boom
Somewhere in West London
Open 24/7
Strictly by invitation

Braised Chicken and Veg Mapo Tofu – Woolfson & Tay Cafe, Bankside

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Another great find thanks to Twitterverse! Came across a tweet about this South East Asain Food Market which leads me to this bookshop nearby that also serves homecooked South East Asian dishes for lunch. Since it’s just a short walk away, off I went!

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Woolfson & Tay is a small independent bookshop with a even smaller cafe which also doubles as the cashier. There are 2 dishes daily, veg and non veg, £5.50 if you eat in and a discount of 50p for takeaway. If you are greedy like me, you can also have the half and half (i.e., half portion of both dishes) at £6 if eating in. Same discount applies for the half and half for takeaway.

I discovered this quaint little place on Thursday which was when one of my all time favourites, laksa was on the menu! But I bought my own lunch for that day so had to put my appetite on hold. I was so excited the next day that I was at the bookshop before food was ready, the glut, the shame…

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The setup for lunch service was the epitome of simplicity. A food warmer holds one dish, an electric pot holding the other with a rice cooker by the side. Shows you don’t require complicated setup to run a food business. As you can guess, I went for the half and half to go which cost me £5.50. The 2 dishes available were Braised Chicken in Spicy Bean Sauce and Veg Mapo Tofu.

My first reaction when I took my first mouthful was “this is homecooking, like what Mom would make”. Humble, simple and heart warming.

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Chicken thigh was used to make the braised chicken which I highly approved. The umami of the slightly spicy bean paste was offset by the freshness of the chinese leaf which accompanies the chicken pieces. Not unlike what I would cooked at home.

The Veg Mapo Tofu was equally good. Instead of minced meat, finely sliced green beans, baby corn, carrots, wood ear fungus and other veg was used. I like the idea of mixing both silken and fried tofu. Gives the dish another dimension in mouth feel.

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Can’t wait to see what’s on the menu next week! You bet I will rush there and report back on either Nasi Lemak or Curry Laksa day.

Woolfson & Tay
39 Bear Lane
London SE1 0UH
0207 9286570

Salmon with Beetroot Risotto – Chez Boom

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Do any of you have a prejudice against some food? I know of some people who rather than say what they don’t eat can only state what they do! I despise fussy eaters… I’m not so bad as being Chinese, we are known to eat anything but I do have stuff I try to avoid and beetroot is one of those food that I am adverse to. As it is, I don’t have a sweet tooth and the fact that it stain your hands…. yeeee….

Anyway, saw this recipe on the Food Explorer booklet from Westfield London and was seduced by it’s vibrant colours. Thought it will work well when done at Chez Boom’s seeing the lighting at his place washes out all colours. Also curious as to how risotto made with pearl barley will taste like.

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So the ingredients include (clockwise from left), ready to eat beetroot, fennel bulb, an apple, salmon fillet and pearl barley. Not included in the lineup shot are black olives and fish stock. Decided to add some leftover black olives which Boom have hanging around from previous day’s dinner thinking the black will contrast nicely with the red risotto. A copy of the recipe is also available here.

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So you boil the barley in the stock till tender and all the liquid has been absorbed then you added in the pulverised beetroot. The barley took close to an hours to be ready which is a tad long but good as unlike risotto made with arborio rice, you don’t have to stay and stir.

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About 10 mins before the risotto is done, stick the salmon fillet into a preheated oven. Instead of thyme, I topped the salmon with stem of the fennel bulb crushed with some salt and pepper. Waste not want not!

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The fennel and apple salad was straight forward, I pimped it with sesame seeds, sesame oil and chili flakes for an Asian touch. Worked out pretty well, good contrast with the rich risotto.

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Viola! Have to say this was a great success, the pearl barley was smooth and creamy yet still retained a bit of bite. The beetroot gave a slight sweetness and also thickened the risotto. The addition of black olives apart from bringing more colour, also countered the sweetness of the beetroot while the fennel and apple salad gave the dish a refreshing edge.

Will definitely try other risotto versions with pearl barley in future!

Chez Boom
Somewhere in West London
Open 24/7, 365 days a year
Strictly by invitation
Only for the worthy

*Chinese New Year Special – Steamboat, Chez Boom

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恭禧發財! Happy Chinese New Year to all the Chinese readers out there. It is a tradition to have reunion dinner on the eve of the first day of the Chinese New Year and seeing I don’t have family here in the UK, reunion dinner will have to be just Boom and me. Steamboat or hotpot is a typical dish served for reunion dinner and I thought it is a good idea especially when the weather is on the chilly side.

The Boom and I made a trip to a close by Asian supermarket to stock up on in ingredients on Saturday morning and as expected, the shop was busier than usual. Hoo Hing is a smaller Asia supermarket compared to Wing Yip and it caters more towards the trade business than individual shoppers like me. But it is substantially closer than Wing Yip and it has all the things I need for a steamboat dinner.

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Run down of what we had to cook in the steamboat. On the protein side, we had thinly sliced beef and lamb and they take less than a minute to cook in the hot broth. These are pre-sliced, frozen and comes in deep plastic trays. The portion you can see is just half of each box and they are about £4.95 per box.

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For seafood, prawns are a must while the clams are from Waitrose. Wanted to get fresh prawns but they were not available so frozen ones will have to do. If I recall, the box of frozen prawns were about £6.80 while the clams were around £4. Prawns on the shell is a must as the shell helps to impart flavour to the broth.

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Other must have items for steamboat are an assortment of balls! No, not that sort. These are balls made from fish paste or meat paste. We have 2 variety this time, pork and fish balls. Fried bead curd and knotted bean curd skins are also good for steamboat and a couple of noodles to end the meal if one is still hungry.

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As for greens, we have chinese leaf and water morning glory. I also got some enoki and buna shimeji mushroom which adds some texture to the spread.

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Steamboat is never complete without dipping sauces. Decided to be luxurious and we have 3 different sauces. A homemade chili sauce made with chilies, garlic, shallots, ginger, lime peel and fermented prawn paste, this is the one in the big orange bowl. The creamy looking sauce is made with tahini and fermented bean curd and the last one is a Cantonese Suki dipping sauce from the Asia supermarket.

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As for the broth, the fiery looking one is from a soup base used in Chongqing hotpots while the plain looking one is made from juice from the clams and a fish stock pot. Both the Boom and I thought the fiery one is tastier.

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Finally, steamboat in action! In all, a very enjoyable meal and for once, there was minimum leftovers which was a good thing.

Hoo Hing
A406 North Circular Road
Park Royal
London NW10 7UB
0208 838 3388

Chez Boom
Somewhere in West London
Open 24/7
Strictly by invitation
Only for the worthy

Deer Santa Pie and Minted Mushy Peas – Pieminister, Boxpark

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Some takeaway food have a tendency to be visually unappealing. I think the options that are smothered in gravy fair the worse. Today’s lunch is case in point. Have been wanting to give Pieminister at the Boxpark a try for sometime now. Never got around to it as the weather was not conducive for rich stodgy food till recently. I think this is the final food stall at the Boxpark I have yet to review.

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As usual, Pieminister like the rest of the other shops in Boxpark is in a shipping container. Booth seats are available inside the shop as well as some outside seating. There are many pie options all at £4.20 each. Do ask what is available from the range as though they are not made in stall, they are baked on location. I like that the names of the pies are a word play on the pie’s ingredients. Kate and Sidney = Steak and Kidney, Chicken of Arragon = Chicken and Tarragon. I got one of the festive specials, the Deer Santa. Guess what is the protein in the pie?

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Yeap! Deer Santa has venison in it. Deer = Dear you see? Funny eh….heheheh… ok, I’m easily tickled. Was toying between mushy peas or mash with my pie and since I brought some leftover cauliflower cheese I made last night, went with the pea option. Total bill came up to £6 with the pie at £4.20, mushy pea at £1.50 and gravy at 30p.

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Now you understand why I say this is not exactly pretty. The gravy obscured everything and made everything brown. Even the bright green of the minted mushy pea got drowned out. Regretted having the gravy really, it did not mix very well with the nutty and tang of the mush peas which is a tad too minty for my taste. It also very nearly masked over the rich ale sauce of the pie. The venison chunks taste pretty good though, rich and beefy. If I didn’t know it was venison, I would have thought it’s a beef pie!

Highlight of lunch today was my leftover cauliflower cheese! Not going to blow my own horn too much but halving the cheddar and substituting it with cottage cheese actually worked pretty good.

Pieminister
Unit 60
Boxpark
Bethnal Green Road
London E1 6DY
0207 613 1792