Guess this counts as a craving

Our kid must’ve been inspired by a recent Top Chef episode as G suddenly had a craving for a tuna melt with tomato soup.  Since she’s not allowed to have tuna, I substituted ham.  It’s funny, for someone who lives to eat, G hasn’t really had any cravings.  I’m just glad that there was a bit of it tonight, accompanied by some healthy kicks by Junior.

Yakiniku Yazawa

Yakiniku Yazawa is a guilty pleasure that we secretly indulge in every few months.  It’s always the same ritual, a tacit nod of approval from the wife, followed by the anticipatory drive over to Mohammed Sultan, with a hurried stroll into the best yakiniku restaurant on the island.  Spur of the moment visits have become harder as the place is now much more popular than when we first visited almost a year ago.  Even on weekdays, reservations are highly recommended.  But a bit of advance planning is worth it for the consistent quality A5 Japanese wagyu.

The Yazawa company in Japan is a wholesaler of beef as well as restaurant operator.  They are known for serving high quality beef at affordable prices, and their first foray in Singapore is no exception.  The A5 grade wagyu  is flown in weekly, chilled, never frozen, which allows diners to enjoy authentic Japanese beef that is almost comparable to what you might eat in Japan.   The selection of cuts changes daily as the beef is brought in whole pieces and sliced here.  The friendly and helpful staff can help you select a good variety for your grilling delight.

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Like pungent rotting eggs… one whiff can send grown men fleeing or scrambling to the nearest durian stall for a quick fix.  The smell is so strong that “No Durian” signs are posted everywhere in Singapore (and other durian-loving countries) from trains to hotels.  As if the odor wasn’t enough of a warning to stay away, this proclaimed “king of fruits” also bears sharp spikes that have to be deftly bypassed in order to gain access.  Depending on who you ask, the flavor of the flesh inside is like either an ambrosia or spoiled milk.

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Alive and kicking!

Felt him kicking after a very satisfying homecooked Japanese meal yesterday evening at L&S’s home. L, the ultimate Japanese afficionado, made us a hot pot dinner with Japanese ingredients and a 3-mushroom soup stock (Japanese shabu shabu typically comes in a pretty tasteless stock). After everyone was done eating, L made Zosui (Japanese porridge) from the leftover stock and it was soooOOO good that I ate 2 bowls of it! And, I’m usually full after just half a bowl of rice so that is a lot of rice for me.

In fact, with the baby on the way, I have to be careful not to overeat or I’ll get nauseous from indigestion. But apparently our son is also a Japanese food fan and not only held down all the food, he even let me know how much he liked it with some pretty vigorous kicking.

This evening, I felt him kicking again but not quite as vigorously. Wen said it’s cos the baby has good taste and didn’t like tonight’s dinner as much as yesterday’s. =)

According to a quick search on Google, it seems like feeling kicks at the 20-something week period is not as consistent because it’s easier to get distracted by work and other matters to actually notice the kicks. By week 30, or even week 28, the mother should start monitoring the kicks (e.g. x number of movements every y minutes/hour) and even visibly see the baby moving across her belly.

Trotters feet

Pregnancy has been treating me quite well in general. While I’ve developed an aversion to garlic and suffer from increased indigestion, my complexion has improved and my weight hasn’t ballooned. Unfortunately, the scale has finally tipped and swollen feet are making this pregnancy a little more uncomfortable than I was ready for. At a mere 21 weeks, I am already feeling my feet tingle and swell. Shoes aren’t fitting anymore and prospects of having trotters-shaped feet in the third trimester are not at all uplifting.

You see, the condition I have, endema, is commonly an issue during the third trimester when excess fluid collects in your tissue due to increased water retention. As the baby grows, s/he will place more pressure on the pelvic veins and the vena cava (the large vein on the right side of the body that carries blood from your lower limbs back to the heart). This forces fluids to pool in the feet and ankles resulting in the swelling. So if my feet are already swelling now, imagine how much more swollen they will be when I’m in my third trimester.

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Ramen-style soft boiled eggs

If you’ve eaten non-instant ramen, chances are you’ve also had the oh-so delicious soft boiled egg.  The egg whites are fully cooked, but the yolk retains a molten consistency.  As it turns out, making these types of eggs is not a trivial feat.  Why? Because egg yolks and whites cook at very different temperatures – 64 °C and 80 °C respectively.  In other words, the egg white has to be cooked to a much higher temperature than the yolk.  To complicate matters further, egg sizes vary and the yolk doesn’t sit perfectly in the center…

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An easy “one bag” sous vide meal

This was one of my earlier experiments using the Sous Vide Supreme- veal shank ala osso bucco with vegetables and a mashed potato.  What I liked about this dish was that this and other similar ones could be made into quick and easy meals for those busy workdays.  You could cook a batch in advance and then toss the individual portions directly into the freezer (already vacuum sealed) for easy reheat later.   Since meats cook at a lower temperature than vegetables, you can toss your veggies and broth in without worrying about overcooking.

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Help Wanted: Bahasa-speaking Mary Poppins

In many countries (such as Singapore), a domestic helper is vey much an integral part of the middle class family.  They frequently work 7 days a week cooking, cleaning, and doubling as nannies.  In fact, it’s not uncommon to have young children be just as attached to their caretaker maid as to mum and dad.  For most, this arrangement works- families gain valuable time to well… do stuff, and the employed helpers earn significantly more (10x +) here than in their native countries.

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36H & 9H Pork Belly sous vide

This pork belly is based on the Heston Blumenthal sous vide technique for making 36 hour Pork Belly.  The brine I used is a simplified version of a recipe from a cooking class at ToTT taught by Stephan Zoisl.  Unfortunately, there is no online recipe for the brine, but a quick search on “pork belly sous vide” will return a number of great posts and how-tos (two of which I’ve included below).

The general cooking process for tasty sous vide pork belly is as follows: brine the belly, sous-vide, sear/boil the skin, and serve.

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Poached egg (sous vide) in tsuyu

Sous vide cooking makes poached eggs ridiculously simple.  Set the water bath to 64.5 °C / 148 °F, add eggs, and cook for 45-60 minutes (does not have to be exact).  If you prefer your egg yolks more runny, lower the temperature by 1 °C.  Voila- perfect consistent poached eggs that you can make dozens at a time.

A nice Japanese twist is to serve the chilled poached egg in a tsuyu broth and garnish with tobiko, wakame, and green onions (a bit of ginger is also nice).  It makes for a refreshing, slightly tangy starter.