Friday, 30 October 2009

Traditional Hakka Dish

Both CL and me have Hakka background. My mum is a Hakka and his dad is a Hakka. Lei Cha the traditional Hakka dish is no stranger to us. Both our families cooked it since we were young. Especially during the 7th day of Chinese New Year, my granny will cook 7 different side dishes and invite all the neighbours, relatives and families over to eat it.

During my folks recent visit, Mum cooked Lei Cha for us as we miss it a lot.

Tea leaves, peanut, basil and sesame seeds are ground together into a paste using a pestle and mortar looking equipment instead of using a food processor. The paste is mix with hot water to serve as soup.
The mortar is actually a huge bowl with really rough surfaces on the inside and the pestle is a wooden stick made from a particular tree trunk. During grinding, tiny bits of tree trunk are mix in and that result a different soup taste from grinding the ingredient using a food processor.

I don't have the correct equipment therefore I decided to give the soup a miss. I don't think I will ever able to bring it into Melbourne as wood is not allow into Australia.

Back in Singapore, I love eating Lei Cha with puffed rice which we buy from Malaysia. The puff rice look just like rice bubbles. Grandpa's neighbour own a factory that makes it in Malacca. As we can't find puffed rice, Mum cooked garlic rice to go with the vegetable. Lots of garlic are mince, fried and mixed with raw rice before cooking.

As for side dishes, Mum cook

Choy Sum
String Beans
Bean Curd
Dried Shrimp, Sweet Dried Radish and Basil

The way I eat it is scoop some garlic rice into my bowl, place a big spoonful of different vegetable plus bean curd and some dried shrimp, dried radish, basil and a handful of peanuts. MIX EVERYTHING together and it's ready to be dig in.

I cook it again last night and I spend 2 hours just washing and chopping up the vegetable. I know I'm slow. It's a very simple dish but too long preparation time required.

Sunday, 25 October 2009


CL found Ayama in The Age Good Food Guide 2008 which we had. We decided to give it a try and manage to reserve a table before we left the house. The place was pretty empty when we arrived. There was a table of 10 boys/guys and we were the 2nd table.

From memory the menu was not huge, craving for the night for us was sashimi. I was pretty determine to make sure I have space for dessert at end of the meal, therefore we decided to order a main size of mixture of sushi & sashimi, a main size of mixed tempura, a bowl of rice for CL to go with his tempura.

My initial impression was the restaurant was managed/owned by HK. But during the wait, we notice 1 of the guy from the table of 10 was chatting with the chef and waitress (guessing boss and wife) in Japanese. I'm definitely wrong about their origin....hell knows why I thought they are HK. Later part we found out that the guy was in fact making order for his mates! He's definitely a regular, able to order without looking at the menu at all.

We started the meal with a complimentary appetizer. It's really refreshing, crunchy, appetizing but can't figure out what actually it is. Answer we got for the waitress was POTATO. Half cooked potato maybe?

Next was Mixed Sushi & Sashimi. Nothing to shout about except their California roll. When I 1st saw it, I was disappointed that the roll was so badly done. It's not even totally sealed, not rolled tightly. But after the 1st bite, I know it was done on purpose! Their famous california roll is so crunchy!!!! The chef had placed loose tempura batter in as filling. Rolling the sushi too tightly will crash all the batter hence lose the crunch. It's such a brilliant idea using the loose tempura batter since it's going into the bin anyway.

As for this dish, we smelled it when it was served to the table next to us (10 boys/guys). CL made a enquiry on it and the waitress told us it's a cold dish. Beef was chilled and sliced and serve with salad. It's a popular dish and very nice. We decided to try and it's really amazing! Very beautifully presented, the dressing on the beef is different from the dressing on the salad which is hidden under the slices of beef. Although we find the salad dressing too saltish, we still like the dish.

Final dish was tempura. The serve was huge! All the vegetable ( sweet potato, carrot, eggplant...can't remember what else)tempura came in pair plus 3 giant prawn. It wasn't soaked with oil, nicely battered (not too thick).

As for dessert, choices was limited. We settled for Green Tea Ice Cream served with Sesame Cookies. It's a nice combination of two. The cookie is nice and covered with white and hint of black sesame seeds.

Does anyone has any idea where can I find such cookie????

Excuse : Folks came for visit

Sorry for the lack of blog post for the past 1 month......My folks were here for visit cum vacation. In fact I just got home after sending them to the airport after a slightly more than 3 weeks stay.

I have so much of catching up to do!!!!

A reminder to myself......back dated entry to be done
1> Ayame
2> Tutto Bene
3> Kangaroo Island Vacation
4> Traditional Hakka Dish
5> Spanish food at South Melbourne Market
6> Good Life in Adelaide
7> Rockpool - My advance birthday dinner
8> My Surprise Birthday Present from CL --- Most important!!!!
9> Homecook food by Dearest Mummy and Me =)

OMG.....starting to wonder how long that is going to take me.....hmmmmm