Perfect Tuna Cutlets

The trick to getting the cutlets crispy on the outside and soft inside shall be revealed…

In fact, I can say it in a few words. You cannot have too damp of a filling. When your filling is soggy, the cutlet loses its shape when you fry as it soaks up too much oil – resulting in mushed cutlets. Keep the filling as dry as possible. Especially the mashed potatoes and the tuna has to be drained well from the can. Also, the exterior needs to be crisp when fried. A good bread crumb would do the trick. If you don’d have bread crumbs, you can always blitz cream cracker biscuits or even oats/cornflakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of tuna in water (large) – flakes if you want this easier
  • 2 medium sized potato skin removed (or 3 if potatoes are small)
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 green/red chili diced (without seeds)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg white
  • salt to taste
  • Bread crumbs

Method:

  1. Boil the potato in a pot till it’s ready to mash. Drain the potatoes thoroughly before mashing it. 
  2. Add drained tuna into mashed potatoes. Together with chili powder, turmeric and salt. I would taste for salt at this point rather than later but that’s just me.
  3. Add in the onions, chili and egg yolk. Using your hand (which is the best), mash all the ingredients together. If you just had your nails manicured and don’t want it to stain then maybe get someone else to do it or use plastic gloves. Nothing like using the hands to integrate the potatoes and tuna.                                                                                                                                                            Image
  4. Make the cutlets into bite size balls. You can make them flat or rounded (like I did)
  5. Next, coat the cutlets in egg whites before coating them in bread crumbs
  6. Fry the cutlets in a pan with oil that reaches at least half the cutlet’s height. Fry till it’s bronzed on all sides evenly.

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* This should give you at least 15~20 cutlets. Depending on the amount of potato you used and cutlet size. Usually eaten as a side dish for rice & curry. But I understand if you have the tendency to pop it into your mouth while it’s still hot from the pan *winks*

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Quick, Easy & Delicious South Indian Sambar (Dhal Curry)

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Being born Sri Lankan, did not expose me much to sambar since sambar is not on the menu. However, being in Malaysia exposed me to other Indian food and sambar is a staple side dish for banana leaf rice (yum) or thosai. My personal favourite is with rawa thosai as shown in the picture. My mother tried making the sambar on several occasions and sadly for her, it didn’t turn out very well. I don’t blame her since she has been cooking Sri Lankan dishes all her life.

Lucky for me, marrying into a Malayalee family imparted me with a few good recipes and one of them is the sambar (dhal curry). I never knew how simple it was to cook this up till I actually tried it myself. Okay, maybe I modified this recipe a little and it’s not entirely the Malayalee fashion but it’s just as good or better than restaurant standards. First and foremost, you will need the split Toor Dhal (yellowish) and sambar powder (preferably Baba’s) which you can get in any Indian groceries. Once you have this two basic ingredients, you can cook up a sambar in no time. The vegetables that go in doesn’t have to be as per recipe. You can tweak it with whatever vegetable you have in hand. There was a one time that I made a pumpkin sambar since I ran out of carrots and potatoes. Let me tell you, the pumpkin sambar was out of this world. So, don’t be too rigid with recipes, alright?

Ingredients:

  • 1~2 cups of split Toor Dhal
  • 2 shallots diced
  • 1 green chili halved and seeds removed
  • 2 large potatoes cut into quarters
  • 1 regular carrot sliced slightly thick (1.5~2cm thickness)
  • 1 white carrot sliced the same way
  • 2 drumsticks cut into 3~4 inches length
  • 3 tbsp of sambar powder
  • 3 tbsp of grated coconut (ground very fine) – optional
  • 1 tsp of tamarind paste (you can add more if you like it more sour)
  • Salt to taste

Special for tempering:

  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 4~5 curry leaves
  • 3 dried chilis
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • If are making sambar with brinjal or okra, instead of putting it in the sambar, you can fry it together with the tempering ingredients and dump into sambar in the end. 

Method:

  1. Firstly, rince the dhal thoroughly and then boiling it in a pot under a medium flame with double the amount of water. Boil the dhal till it’s soft to mash with your fingers.
  2. Most of the water would have evaporated. If you still have some water left, you can chose to keep this or just pour out the excess water.
  3. Add more water till it’s triple the amount of dhal. Dump in all your onions, chili, vegetables and sambar powder into the sambar. Let this cook till you have cooked your vegetables through. Good idea to check the potato as it usually takes the longest. You want your potato to be soft and easy to mash so that when you eat, it just melts in your mouth.
  4. Once your sambar is cooked, add salt, tamarind and coconut. If you feel your sambar is not thick enough, add more sambar powder. And if it’s too thick, add more water. Let the sambar simmer for another minute or two and then you can turn off the flame.
  5. Assuming you are an excellent multi-tasker, while your sambar is cooking, you can fry all the tempering ingredients in a another pan till the onions are caramelized. If you are frying brinjal or okra with this, start frying the vegetable first before adding the tempering ingredients as the vegetables take a while to cook.
  6. After your sambar is done, add the tempered ingredients into it. And walla! Sambar is done. I’re sure if you make a dilute version of this, you can turn it into a soup!

Flat Rice Noodles in Egg Gravy (Char Hor Fun or Kong Fu Char)

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My buddies Hana and Su will attest to how madly in love I am over this dish. I’d at least order this in a restaurant for lunch at least once a week. Sometimes I have it 2 days in a row. I never got tired of it. And probably never ever will. How could I?? The eggy gravy is the most lustrous liquid that slides through the tip of the tongue and bursts into million explosions on my taste buds.

Anyway, that was when I was still back in Malaysia. Since then, it has been a little bit of a challenge finding my char hor fun here in Western Australia. Although there are a few decent Chinese/Malaysian restaurants around but the few that I tried didn’t succeed in pleasuring my taste buds. So here I am, with my wok and chopsticks…ready to plate up another one of my favourite dishes. Bring it on!

 Ingredients:

  •  1 packet of flat rice noodles or fresh hor fun
  • 12~15 prawns shells removed and deveined (you can leave the tail tip on)
  • 12~15 rings of squids
  • 4~5 fish cakes thinly sliced
  • 8~10 4cm chicken slices (If you like pork or beef, feel free to replace with your meat of choice. My husband says hor fun is not hor fun without pork *rolls eyes*)
  • 1 whole of garlic finely chopped (You can use just half actually…but I love garlic so much!)
  • 4 stalks of choy sum (or sawi) cut to 4cm lengths
  • ½ a carrot sliced thin (1cm thickness)
  • 1 cup of cabbage (no bigger than a 2x2cm squares)
  • 2~3 tbsp of corn flour (diluted in very little water)
  • 3 tbsp stir fry sauce or oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp fish oil
  • 3 tbsp thick soy sauce
  • Soy sauce for taste
  • Ground white pepper for taste
  • 3 eggs

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My sauces…

Method:

  1. First, to prepare the noodles, rinse the noodles in water. If the noodles appear to be clung together, it’s a good idea to use boiling water to separate them. Do not try to break it up yourself as it will break into crumbly pieces.
  2. Use 1 clove of chopped garlic to flavour some oil on the pan. Stir fry the noodles in the oil with thick soy sauce and salty soy sauce. Once noodles is cooked, keep aside Image
  3. On a different wok, heat some oil and stir fry the balance of the chopped garlic, meat, prawns, squids and fish cake. Once the seafood is cooked, add in the carrots cabbage and add 3 (medium sized) bowls of water.
  4. Add the stir fry or oyster sauce and fish oil into this gravy till the vegetables are nicely cooked. Add the the choy sum and cook a for another minute
  5. Stir in the diluted corn flour to thicken the gravy. You only need the gravy to be slightly thickened. Add salt and white pepper for taste
  6. Break in 3 eggs into the gravy and stirring the gravy as you added the eggs. Turn off the flame immediately and now the gravy will be a thick eggy liquid
  7. Plate the earlier prepared noodles on a deep set plate and top it with generous ladleful of egg gravy like in the first picture. If you like extra spice, serve with chopped chilies (chili padi) in soy sauce.

Ceylonese style Brinjal Mash (Kathrikka Paal Kadaiyal)

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You cannot go wrong with brinjal. Be it fried, curried or baked. It’s amazingly super yummy vegetable. I love it. I love it on pizzas and even as a dip. This recipe is super easy and super yummy too. It’s something my mother used to make and whenever I miss her, I make this dish. It’s a great side kick for my earlier post on Prawn Curry or with chicken curry too. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 4~5 cloves of garlic
  • ½ an onion chopped
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1~2 round brinjal or if you are using the slightly thinner oblong ones, use 3~4 pieces – skin removed and diced into cubes
  • 1 green chili halved and seeds removed (I happen to run out of it, so I used red ones)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 4~5 curry leaves
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Heat a good pot with oil. Fry in the mustard seeds, garlic and onions. Once onions have softened, add in the chili and brinjal. Immediately add 1 cup of water to the pot and close the lid for the brinjal to cook Image
  2. The brinjal will start to soften and turn brownish. Make sure you do not let the pot to burn without water by stirring the pot every few minutes and adding 1 tbsp water each time (if required). You don’t want too much water in it as we don’t want this turning into a runny mash
  3. Once the brinjal is cooked, add turmeric, coconut milk and mash the brinjal with a masher
  4. As the brinjal takes in more heat, add a little evaporated milk just enough to silken it. Continue this process until the brinjal is nice and mashed. Add curry leaves and salt to taste. Few more stirs in the pot and you’re done.

Authentic Ceylonese-Sri Lankan Prawn Curry

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This is my mother’s specialty and thankfully, I have inherited her tiny gift of making the best curry of all time – Prawn Curry! Every time I think about this curry, I salivate. It’s thick, it’s creamy, it’s sour and it’s spicy. The combination of different tastes just works so perfectly well together, I cannot tell you how much I just want to drink it on its own. I have by the way!

Oddly though, this is also the easiest curry to make with hardly any additional spices required apart from curry powder. It’s best to serve this curry with steamed rice, lightly cooked vegetables, maybe a nice masala fried fish and cucumber/onion raita or just plain ol’ yogurt. Or you can also have this with freshly made egg thosai. It’s yum yum yummmm… Do try this recipe and you will thank me for it 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp oil of your choice
  • 15~20 prawns shells removed and deveined
  • 1 whole of garlic chopped
  • 1 large onion halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 green chili, halved and seeds removed
  • 1 tomato diced into cubes
  • 4 tbsp of curry powder
  • 1 tbsp of chili powder (optional)
  • 1 can of coconut milk. (If you are using freshly squeezed coconut milk, I say about 1~1 ½ cups. Also, if you are skimming on coconut milk, use 1 cup of evaporated milk instead)
  • 1~2 tbsp of tamarin puree
  • 5~8 curry leaves
  • 3 eggs scrambled and fried till fluffy (Optional, or you can also substitute the fried eggs to boiled eggs as it is equally rewarding. I usually use 1 egg/person)
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a pot and start frying the garlic and then adding the onions
  2. Once onions has softened, add in the prawns, tomato and green chili. Cook till prawns turns  lush and pink
  3. Add 2 cups of water, the curry powder and chili powder into the pot. Let this come to a boil
  4. Once the curry is somewhat done, add in the coconut milk, tamarind paste, curry leaves and let the whole thing come to a boil again. If you feel your curry isn’t thick enough, you can add a little bit more of curry powder and evaporated milk
  5. All in all, it will not take you more than 20mins to cook this curry. Add salt to taste and the pre-fried eggs (or boiled ones) into the curry just before turning off the flame.
  6. The final and most important step of all, flood your plate with curry over a serving of steamed rice and shovel it into your mouth.

*This recipe should serve 3~4 people (Not applicable if all of them want to drink the curry though)

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Saturday Morning Breakfast

Don’t hate me for this but once a week, I pamper myself with some delicious pancakes topped with maple syrup and fruits…you know, the works. And if the mood calls for it, I sometimes enjoy eating the pancakes with peanut butter and butter like how you would eat waffles. Aaahhh…soft and hot pancakes on a cold morning is something quite poetic.

In case you are waiting for me to share the recipe for this one, sorry to disappoint you. This is made straight out of a bottle called Green’s pancake shake. Very seldom things out of a can and packets impresses me. But this bottle of ready made pancake mix is simply yummylicious. So, why go through all the trouble of beating an egg and sifting flour to get the similar results? Haha…

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Good Saturday morning everyone!