Sunday, 4 October 2015


Just after I wrote about chigiri pan or pull apart bread buns in my previous post, I came to know about onigirazu, another (not too new) food trend in Japan.

I was at the local bookstore browsing the shelves of cookbooks when the text "不用捏饭团" on a book spine caught my attention. The Chinese text means rice ball or "onigiri" that is made without having to shape or squeeze.

"Onigirazu" or "不用捏饭团" are basically rice balls made by wrapping layers of rice and fillings with a square sheet of seaweed into a parcel which is then sliced into half, just like a sandwich. Due to the square shape and wrapping method, onigirazu are more versatile than onigiri when it comes to the choices of the fillings. You can wrap it with ham, sausages, eggs (be it hard boiled, scrambled, sunny-side-ups), tuna, salmon, cheese, pork cutlets, salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, ladies fingers, etc, etc.

For my first attempt at making onigirazu, I wrapped them with Korean spicy stir-fried pork, egg and salad greens. I seasoned the rice with some sesame oil and salt to make it more flavourful. Everyone enjoyed this humble and delicious lunch especially my younger child who loves seaweed wrapped rice balls, be it onigiri, maki or kimbap, and now onigirazu ;)

If you are interested to give these rice sandwiches a try, you may want to refer to this article which provides a tutorial on how to go about making them. Have fun!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

pull apart sandwich buns

I can't remember how I stumbled upon this site, Japan Info, but I am glad I did as I got to learn about a new bread making craze in Japan. Since I am not into facebook or instagram, I am really very slow when it comes to following the latest food trend.

From a post on the 'Japan Info' site, I got to know about chigiri pan, chigiri refers to pull apart while pan refers to bread. Besides transforming the pull apart bread buns into adorable cartoon characters, chigiri pan can also be served as sandwich buns.

Here's my first attempt at making sandwiches with a batch of pull apart bread buns. The buns are made using my usual go-to tang zhong recipe with some slight moderation (simply replacing the milk powder with flour and instead of water I used fresh milk). Although most chigiri breads are made into 16 buns, I baked only nine buns in a 20cm square pan.

I filled the buns with simple sandwich ingredients such as ham, scrambled eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.

The sandwich buns are not as pretty as those featured in the website, but I am really amazed at this clever idea. It is a very interesting way of serving sandwiches especially when each of us can 'chope' the fillings we like ('chope' in Singlish means 'to reserve'). They are also perfect to pack for an outing or bring over to a potluck party :)

PS: Pardon the poor quality image of the above photos, they were taken with my mobile phone.

Pull Apart Sandwich Buns

(makes 9 buns)

for the buns:
tang zhong (water-roux):
20g bread flour
100ml water

bread dough:
210g bread flour
90g cake flour
30g caster sugar
6g salt
6g instant yeast

1 egg lightly beaten plus enough milk to make 135g
75g tang zhong (water-roux)

45g unsalted butter (cut into cubes)


to make tang zhong:
* Place 20g bread flour in a saucepan. Add 100ml water, mix with a hand whisk till smooth, making sure there are no lumps of flour. Cook over medium to low heat, stirring constantly with the hand whisk to prevent it from burning. Within 1 to 2 mins, the mixture will start to thicken, stop when you see traces in the mixture for every stir you make with the hand whisk. The tang zhong is ready. Immediately transfer the hot tang zhong into a bowl and cover it with a cling wrap, making sure the cling wrap sticks onto the surface of the mixture. This is to prevent a film from forming on the surface. Leave to cool completely before using it.

to make the bread dough:
* Place bread flour, cake flour, sugar, salt, yeast, egg, water and tang zhong (use 75g) in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Let the mixer knead the dough on high speed until the ingredients come together to form a dough, takes about 8 to 10 mins. Add in the butter gradually and continue to knead for another 15~20mins until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. (Upon adding the butter, the dough will become very wet/slack again, add some flour if it remains slack after 10 mins of kneading. Depending on the type of flour used, the dough may still stick to the sides of the mixing bowl after 15-20mins of kneading. If this happens, continue to knead for another 5mins or so, stop the machine, oil or dust hands with flour and proceed to remove the dough from the bowl.

* Place dough in a lightly greased (use vegetable oil or butter) mixing bowl, cover with cling wrap or a damp cloth and let proof in room temperature (around 28 to 30 degC) for about one hour, or until double in bulk.

* Remove the dough from the bowl and give a few light kneading to press out the gas in the dough. Divide the dough into 9 equal portions (about 65g each). Shape and roll each dough into a smooth round ball. Place doughs seams side down on a 20cm by 20cm square baking tray (lightly greased with oil or butter or line the base and sides with parchment paper). Loosely cover with a damp cloth or cling wrap and let doughs proof for the second time for about 40mins, or until double in size.

* Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 20 to 22 mins or until golden brown (if necessary, tent the surface with foil if the top browns too quickly closer to the baking time). Remove from oven and transfer to wire track to let cool. Once cool, store immediately in an airtight container.

* To serve, cut a slit on each bun, fill with desired sandwich fillings such as ham, scrambled eggs, lettuce, cucumber and tomato slices.

Recipe source for bread dough: adapted from 65度C汤种面包, 陈郁芬

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Easy Teriyaki Salmon

I seldom post recipes on home cook meals since I started this blog with the intention of sharing my baking experience. Furthermore, by the time I am done cooking, the lightning condition becomes unfavourable for me to take any any decent photos to share them here. Unlike baked goods, I can take my time or plan it in such a way that I could photograph them under natural lighting, I am not able to do so for cooked dishes.

Recently I started documenting my home cooked dishes with my mobile phone, mainly for my own reference or send them to my better half to show him what he missed out on when he was away ;)

I find it so much easier to take snap shots of the food with a phone camera as I can get it done within a couple of minutes before serving the meal. Some photos turn out not too bad, that is, if they are viewed on my phone ;) The images would appear grainy if displayed on a bigger, high resolution screen. Sometimes, the colour turn out a bit off. Nonetheless, I would still like to share my daily home cooked meals here whenever I am able to take a clear image of the dish and most importantly, when I get really excited with a delicious dish that is quick and easy to prepare.

This simple teriyaki salmon is a classic example of one of those easy to prepare, fuss free dishes that I put on our dining table ever so frequently. The salmon fillet requires just a few minutes to pan fry. I followed the recipe from Just One Cookbook, my favourite food blog to go to for Japanese home cooking. Do visit her blog for the detailed instructions on how to go about preparing this dish. I followed the recipe quite closely even using sake which was bought from Japan. The only change that I made was to use corn flour instead of plain flour to coat the fillet. This is just my personal habit of using corn flour to coat fish and I use corn flour so often for my daily cooking. Usually I would serve the salmon on its own, or with a plate of stir fry dou miao (pea shoots) on the side. This time, I served it with a bed of salad greens drizzled with the teriyaki sauce, a great way to include more vegetables to our diet and yet minus the hustle of having to cook another dish :)

Easy Teriyaki Salmon


1 salmon fillet
a pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon flour (I use corn flour)
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sake

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon sugar

  • Rinse and pat dry salmon fillet with paper towel. Season both sides of the fillet with a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle and coat salmon with flour on both sides, dust away any excess flour. Mix the seasoning ingredients together and set aside.
  • Heat oil and butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Place salmon skin side down and press it down with a spatula to prevent it from curling during the initial first minute of cooking. Pan fry for about 1 to 2 mins or until the skin is browned. Flip over and pan fry the other side for 1 to 2 mins or until browned.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of sake into the pan and cover with a lid. Leave to steam cook for another 2~3 mins. Turn off the heat and transfer salmon to a plate. 
  • Wipe off any excess oil in the pan with paper towel. Add the seasoning ingredients into the pan and bring to a simmer on medium-low heat. Transfer salmon back into the pan, spoon the sauce over the salmon as it cooks. When the sauce is slightly thickened, turn off the heat and dish up.
Recipe source: adapted from Just One Cookbook.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Mango Salad, two ways

I have a few large mangoes which although taste sweet but they are not that juicy and the flesh is quite firm. Usually we prefer to eat mango on its own, but this time, I used some to make salad.

I used to feel intimidated about making salad dressing, especially vinaigrettes. Ever since I started to add more greens to my diet, I have more opportunities to play around with different types of dressings. I like dressings that is not too sour so I like to add some honey to sweeten it. I also tend to prefer asian salad dressings which usually includes fish sauce or soya sauce and sesame oil...seasonings which I always have on hand.

For this mango salad, I mixed up a refreshing Thai style dressing that tastes spicy, sweet and sour.

This salad is great as a side dish,

and it can be transformed into a light and healthy lunch simply by adding some pan grilled chicken breast.

I don't mind having this for lunch everyday ;)

ps: pardon the poor quality image of the above photos, they were taken with my mobile phone.

Mango Chicken Salad


1 large mango
half of a boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 150g)
a handful of cherry tomatoes
a handful salad greens
1 Japanese cucumber
some chili slices, optional
some cilantro, optional
1~2 teaspoons cooking oil

for the dressing:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon honey (adjust according to taste)
1~2 teaspoons sweet chili sauce (adjust according to taste)

  • Slice chicken breast in half crosswise, season with some salt and pepper. Pan fry chicken breast with cooking oil on medium-high heat till cooked and nicely browned. Set aside to cool and then cut into bite size.
  • Wash and drain salad greens.
  • Wash and cut cherry tomatoes into halves, cut mango and cucumber into cubes.
  • Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl, add more chili sauce or honey according to taste.
  • Toss salad greens, tomatoes, mango, cucumber and chicken with the dressing, garnish with chili slices and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Friday, 28 August 2015

cafe food at home

I am guilty again for the long absence. I have no new posts as I have not been baking that often. Instead of baking, I find myself getting more interested in cooking.

Unlike baking, I do not always follow recipes to the t when it comes to day-to-day cooking. I tend to replace or substitute ingredients freely and I could get away with eyeballing the amount of ingredients or seasonings I put in the dish. As such, I find it difficult to share cooking recipes especially when I am not a good cook to begin with.

While I may not be able to spell out the cooking instructions, I thought why not share some of the photos of the dishes I prepared. The quality of the images are not great since they are taken with my mobile phone under very poor lighting condition.

I used a free mobile app to jazz up the pictures and they don't look that bad, at least I am not shy to post them ;)

This is an easy meal I prepared for my husband when he was home for lunch...poached egg and mushrooms served on store bought focaccia. I learned this from a cooking show on tv. For the toppings, I stir fried some button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and bunashimeji with some onions, garlics and seasoned it with salt and pepper. The salad dressing is a simple combo of 3 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice, nothing fancy.

The most tricky part of this meal is cooking the poached eggs. This is the first time I have ever poached an egg. The eggs were cooked using a straight forward method...just bring a saucepan of water to a simmer, then create a 'tornado' with a spoon in the water and put in the cracked egg. No salt or vinegar is needed. Although the eggs turned out looking quite ok, at least for a first timer, the water temperature was a bit too high, the water became so cloudy with egg whites floating all over, what a waste!

This is a visually appealing and delicious meal with a good mix of protein, fiber and carbs. Even though it is something so simple, I can't help but to feel proud of myself to be able to put together a cafe style meal like this at home. All I needed was a nice cup of coffee to end the meal.