Eggs

Green Bean Omelette

A mainstay of many a family meal, green bean omelette has been a feature of most Malaysian’s childhood for decades.

Personally, there are few recipes that remind me more of my late Amah than this simple and humble omelette. My grandmother was a great home-cook, and along with her famed daging kicap manis (Beef with Sweet Soy Sauce), this was perhaps my favourite addition to her nightly dinner-spreads.

Like many extended families in Malaysia back in the 80’s, the Ghanis were a large and ravenous bunch, with at least ten hungry bellies to fill at any one time! Nevertheless, Amah was an undeterred and prolific cook, and in spite of our numbers, family dinners were invariably generous affairs. With so many mouths to feed, it was only natural that she was always keen to supplement her main offerings with easy and nourishing dishes…which explains why this classic omelette featured so regularly. Cheap and nutritious; this easy dish is ready in minutes and is the perfect dish to “bulk out” an otherwise meager supper.

Made with just 3 basic ingredients (and some seasoning), this simply flavoured omelette works well with almost all other Malay dishes. Unlike other Asian omelettes such as Egg Foo Young, this dish is dense and almost “chewy”, making it a great foil for lemak rich dishes such as beef rendang and kari kapitan.

Traditionally made with yard beans, and being considerably harder than the variety many of us are accustomed to, it is best to use regular green beans as a substitute. Fine green beans would not be recommended as they lack the robustness of an older bean, and won’t give the omelette the weight and bite associated with the dish.

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Prawn & Ginger Egg Foo Young

I never thought I would say this, but omelettes aren’t just for brunch!

As perfect as they may be for soaking up bubble-heavy mimosas, or stilling those flat-white morning jitters, these eggy envelopes deserve so much more than the standard fare we stuff them with. Quick and versatile, an omelette can pretty much be anything you want it to be, and this is especially true when they are cooked Chinese-style!

Egg Foo Young (Chinese Omelette) is a dish most of us know from our local takeaway, but very few of us realise how easy it is to make at home. If you can make an omelette, the chances are you can make this classic Cantonese dish too! Though similar in almost every way, Chinese “omelettes” are, in terms of flavour, a world apart from their western counterparts. Added to very hot oil, Egg Foo Young is crispy and, as such, benefits from that elusive wok hei (‘breath of a wok’). Add to that an umami laden sauce, and their irresistible flavour is almost complete…

But, of course, what’s an omelette without fillings?

The options for filling your Egg Foo Young are virtually endless, and go way beyond the generic takeaway options you are probably used to seeing. Seasoned with a dash of soy sauce instead of the usual salt and pepper, the egg mix is the perfect foil for anything from the classic char siew (Chinese BBQ Pork) to julienned vegetables. 

For this recipe I’m pushing the boat out and using prawns. It might seem like a waste to use them in something like an omelette, but rest assured it’s not. I love the sweet meatiness of the prawns with the fresh bite of the gingery eggs – its a classic combination and makes the perfect addition to a larger meal, or (if you want to spoil yourself) just have it on its own with some plain rice.

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Yam Khai Dao ยำไข่ดาว (Thai Fried Egg Salad)

Yam Khai Dao ยำไข่ดาว (Thai Fried Egg Salad)

Laughably easy to make and refreshingly different, Yam Khai Dao is definitely one of my favourite Thai salads and has become a regular feature of any Thai meal of mine.

As with so many Thai dishes, this deceptively simple salad is a master class in contrast with the crispy, rich eggs giving balance to the classic sweet sour dressing and the bite of the chilli is tempered by the fresh herbs and lettuce. This is most definitely a case of remarkable food made with the most basic of ingredients.

Personally I think the addition of a salad is an essential part to any Thai meal. Not only do they as offer the perfect foil to the richness of most mainstay Thai dishes (like coconut based curries and fragrant salty stir-fries), but they also provide balance to a meal, both in terms of healthy eating and flavour.

Considerations of balance and healthy eating aside, Yam Khai Dao’s true appeal lies in the fact that it is so easy to make and, short of some palm sugar, requires almost no specialised Thai ingredients. Unsurprisingly the key component of this salad is the eggs; they must be cooked in a decent puddle of smoking hot oil to ensure that the whites of the eggs bubble up immediately upon contact, resulting in lovely crispy eggs without being saturated in fat. I love the fact that you can prepare most of the salad and dressing in advance and all that’s left to do before serving is to fry the eggs and mix everything together. To say that Yam Khai Dao is as easy as frying an egg is an understatement – if you can get that right, then the success of the salad is almost assured!

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Homemade Pasta

Is homemade pasta really worth the effort? In my opinion the answer is an emphatic yes!

Personally I really rather enjoy the satisfaction of rolling the dough out into luscious sheets of pasta, so I don’t find it too much of a bother at all, but that’s just me.

You can roll the pasta out by hand but I wouldn’t recommend it, rather get yourself a good quality pasta machine. Given how much cheaper it is to make your own pasta verses buying the ready made stuff, it is an investment that will pay for itself (well almost). You can also use the pasta machine to make your own ramen which was incentive enough for me to get one!

My basic rule-of-thumb when it comes to making your own pasta is 1 large egg and 100g of flour per person. This recipe is for 2 people, but feel free to add more flour and eggs depending on how many you are feeding. I also don’t add any salt to my pasta, but feel free to add a pinch if you are so inclined.

I usually have some left over which I dust with extra flour, place in a freezer bag and immediately put into the deep freeze – when you are ready to cook the pasta, drop it into the boiling water straight out of the freezer.

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Vietnamese Braised Pork in Coconut Water (Thịt Kho Tàu)

Thịt Kho Tàu (Braised Pork in Coconut Water)This venerable Vietnamese classic is traditionally made to celebrate Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, but is popular all year round. Packed full of flavour, this sweet and tender braise of pork is simmered in coconut water and is a firm favourite throughout Việt Nam, especially in the South.

The first time I encountered this dish was in a restaurant in Hồ Chí Minh City. My uncle, who was working in Việt Nam at the time, took us out for a lavish Vietnamese dinner and this dish was the undisputed star of the meal. After simmering away for hours in its delicious coconut broth, the pork was achingly tender and sweet, but the real revelation was the generous layer of fat. Soft and rich, yet surprisingly light on the tongue – the fat had been transformed into the true master-stroke of the entire dish. This was pork fat in all its gelatinous glory!

Whilst I’ve always made this dish with pork belly, in truth you can actually use any number of cuts of pork, as long as the meat isn’t too lean. Personally, though, I prefer sticking with pork belly for this dish as it doesn’t dry out from the extended cooking time and the fat imparts a wonderful flavour into the broth.

Traditionally eaten with rice and often accompanied with a simple daikon & carrot pickle (Đồ Chua), I also love to pair this dish with some water spinach stir-fried with garlic.

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Nori Tamagoyaki (Rolled Omelette with Nori)

A variation on the traditional Japanese Rolled Omelette (tamagoyaki), Nori Tamagoyaki is as visually appealing, as it is delicious!

As with all tamagoyaki, this version is also normally cooked in a makiyakinabe, a rectangular pan specifically designed to churn out perfectly formed rolled omelettes. While it is possible to make it in a regular omelette pan, it will be a little harder to achieve the desired shape. However, with a bit of creative trimming, you may still be able to approximate the perfect tamagoyaki!

When it comes to the technique of rolling your nori tamagoyaki, the same principles apply as when rolling a plain tamagoyaki. A calm head and timing are essential. As with a regular tamagoyaki, you need to start rolling the omelette whilst the egg is still a little wet. However, when you layer the nori onto the wet egg, you need to leave a small gap around the perimeter of the egg mixture otherwise the layers will not stick together when you start rolling.

For more Japanese recipes, please click HERE or to find out more about how to stock a Japanese Pantry, please click HERE

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Tamagoyaki 卵焼き (Rolled Omelette)

Tamagoyaki 卵焼き (Rolled Omelette)Only the Japanese could complicate something as simple as an omelette!

In a food culture that values aesthetics almost as much as taste, it’s not entirely surprising that even the humble omelette fell foul of an extreme Japanese makeover. Thankfully though, tamagoyaki’s impressive presentation isn’t at the expense of its flavour!

Eaten throughout Japan, tamagoyaki’s appeal lies in its versatility, both in terms of its taste and uses. Because the omelette is served at room temperature, it makes the ideal addition to bento boxes and makes a great nigiri sushi topping. More commonly though, tamagoyaki is eaten as part of a Japanese breakfast. While typically served plain, tamagoyaki often have a “filling” in the centre – salmon/tuna flakes, fish roe or blanched spinach are all popular choices. Torn-up sheets of nori can also be added, these are layered on the egg mixture as it sets. This not only tastes great, but it also looks very impressive! Whilst all versions of tamagoyaki contain some sugar, some are very sweet – it is really up to you how much sugar you want to use.

Tamagoyaki are usually cooked in a rectangular pan called a makiyakinabe. While it is possible to make it in a regular pan, the finished product will be less than perfect. With a bit of trimming though, you should be able to approximate the desired shape. It does take a while to “master” the technique of rolling the omelette, but with a calm head and a bit of patience, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. Timing is key, you need to start rolling the omelette whilst the egg is still a little wet, otherwise the “layers” won’t stick together. You’ll have a few mishaps along the way, but you’ll get it right soon enough. There is something immensely satisfying about making your own tamagoyaki, even if it’s not perfect!

For more Japanese recipes, please click HERE or to find out more about how to stock a Japanese Pantry, please click HERE

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