21 June 2017

Honey Ginger Lime Granita

The weather continues to be unbearable hot and I find myself craving for icy cold desserts all the time!

This icy treat is actually inspired by a ginger lime granita welcome dessert served to guests at my favourite hotel in Melaka. It usually takes about 3 plus hours including traffic jam into Melaka old town area and by the time we finally reach the hotel, I would be feeling nausea and uncomfortable, so I really look forward to enjoying it every time!

The ginger always soothes my queasiness and discomfort and the tangy lime is totally refreshing. Therefore I would miss this granita from time to time (and it's also one of the reasons why I always choose to stay in that particular hotel :p)

It never dawn on me that I could actually make this icy dessert easily at home until recently. Silly me!

Instead of using sugar to make the granita, I used Huiji Honey which is made of  pure natural raw honey and is more nutritious and healthier form of sweetener.

Initially I was thinking of making a sorbet, but granita is more fuss-free, with minimum equipment needed. Moreover, I love eating crush ice, more than the smoother texture of sorbet :p

Ingredients are really simple, ginger, water, honey and large lime.
Simply boil sliced ginger in water, let the ginger water cool down before adding honey and lime juice to taste. I also added some lime zest to enhance the fragrance of the granita.

Then pour the mixture into a shallow tray and place the tray into the freezer for 30 mins. After 30 mins, remove tray from freezer; part of the mixture would be slightly frozen, use a fork to rake the ice. Place tray back to freezer and wait for another 30 mins, repeat the same steps. Do this at least 3-4 times and you'll get a nice tray of granita. Yes, it's that easy. No machine or simple utensils required.

Honey Ginger Lime Granita
makes 2 trays (tray is 30cmx18cm), about 2 packed cups (500ml) of granita
  • 3 cups water
  • 50-70g ginger
1. Wash and cut ginger into thin slices and add them into a pot with water.
2. Boil for the ginger water for about 20-30 mins.
3. Let the ginger water cool down before use.
*Quantity of ginger depends on individual, whether wish to have stronger/more spicy taste of ginger.
  • 1 cup ginger water
  • 60-70g honey, to taste
  • Juice & zest of 1/2 large lime
1. Add honey, juice and zest of lime to the ginger water. Mix well.
2. Pour mixture into shallow tray and place tray into freezer for 30 mins.
3. After 30 mins, remove tray from freezer. Some parts of the mixture would be slightly frozen. Use a fork to rake all the frozen mixture.
4. Place tray back into the freezer for another 30 mins. Then repeat step 3.
5. Repeat the freeze-and-rake at least 3-4 times and granita is ready.

I love how the granita turns out! The mellow sweetness of the honey will hit you first, follow immediately by the tangy lime and finally the spicy ginger which will linger in the mouth for a while.

What a cool treat! This is especially good when I have too much food and feeling some indigestion. Or when afternoons are too hot and I need something to freshen up. I'm surprised that the HB loves it as well because he usually dislikes ginger taste.

I'm already thinking of making other flavours of granita, like honey pandan lemongrass, honey mint watermelon and more!

Give it a try and keep chilling =D

20 June 2017

Soba Making Class by Soba Master Yoshinori Shibazaki of Shimbashi Soba

Last Saturday, I was very blessed to be invited by RE&S Enterprises (through Food News), to a Soba Making Class by Soba Master Yoshinori Shibazaki, founder of Shimbashi Soba.

Of all the Japanese noodles, my favourite is buckwheat soba and I eat the Seiro version/Zaru Soba (chilled dipping soba) quite often due to our hot weather here. And when the weather is chilly, I love to tuck into a hot bowl of Yasai Soba (soba noodle soup with Japanese mountain vegetables). Besides, soba is low in calories and rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids and protein, definitely a health food with anti-aging benefits!

Of all the restaurants serving buckwheat soba in Singapore, my favourite has got to be Shimbashi Soba as their buckwheat flour is freshly milled using a Japanese stone mill at the restaurant daily; noodles are freshly made and freshly cooked.

So when I received the invitation, I jumped at the opportunity. How often do you get to learn from a Soba Master with 45 years of experience making soba?

 Received a set of notes with details on soba, utensils required, making process, cooking and serving soba.

This is how buckwheat looks like, it can actually be eaten on its own without milling into flour, and sometimes it's one of the grains added to Japanese ten-grain rice.

Chef Yoshi started off by explaining the origins of buckwheat flour used by Shimbashi Soba, followed by the process of adding water and kneading the dough.

Next are the processes of pressing, flattening, rolling and folding. He made everything looked so easy.

And finally cutting. With 45 years of experience under his belt, I'm certainly in awe of his knife skills.

Look at how even and neat his soba noodles are.

Now it's my turn to do it! Utensils or tools needed for home kitchen.

So here we go. Adding water to the wheat and buckwheat flour mixture, mixing them up into crumb-like texture, bringing mixture together and finally kneading into dough.

Pressing the dough and flattening into round shape, using rolling stick to flatten the dough till even and square shape, and finally folding and cutting. It's not easy to cut the dough into even thickness of the correct size, some could be too thick like thin udon, some could be too thin like beehoon!

Here's me, trying my best to cut the dough into even thickness.

 Can pass?

Leftover or unwanted bits and pieces of soba can be deep-fried and made into Age-soba (soba chips) which is really crunchy and very addictive. Some restaurants in Japan actually serve this as a side-dish for customers to enjoy with beer.

There's also a demo of how to fry tempura (commonly eaten together with soba) and how to cook the soba noodles properly.

We got to eat the soba noodles that was freshly made by Chef Yoshi during his demo. The noodles tasted so good, it had a bite and subtle fragrance to it, and I love the soba tsuyu (dipping sauce) which had a deep and rich bittersweet taste.

And to round off the meal, a drink of Soba-Yu (Soba water) which is leftover tsuyu mixed with water that was used to cook the soba noodles. Much of the nutrients contained in soba are water-soluable, so the water used for cooking soba is said to be highly nutritious, even more so than soba itself!

I'm now a proud member of Shimbashi Soba Making Club and entitled to purchase soba flour set from Shimbashi Soba for home-use. Yay, I'm definitely going to make soba noodles at home from time to time.

For those interested in the Soba Making Class by Soba Master Yoshinori Shibazaki, I'm pleased to share that there will be three more classes upcoming in the month of August, October and November!

  • 19 August 2017 (Saturday)
  • 14 October 2017 (Saturday)
  • 18 November 2017 (Saturday)
Duration: 11am to 1.30pm
Participation fee: $50 (adult), $30 (children aged 6 to 12)

Registration email: harumi.kawai@res.com.sg
Note: Registration opens one month prior to each session, each session is limited to 10 pax

For those who just wish to enjoy an authentic meal of soba and other Japanese food, Shokutsu Ten Japanese Food Street (currently at Jurong Point and Nex) is opening its third venue at Great World City with a total of five F&B and retail brands, including Shimbashi Soba's second outlet (the first at Paragon), Ami Ami (Seafood, Tempura and Robatayaki), Men-ichi Sappora Ramen (miso ramen), Ichiban Boshi and Kuriya Japanese Market!

Wow, I'm going to be spoilt for choice the next time I go to Shokutsu Ten Japanese Food Street at Great World City :)

19 June 2017

Shibuya Honey Toast

Shibuya Honey Toast used to be the "in" dessert a few years back. I first tried it at After You Cafe in Bangkok in 2011, it was super popular then and I had to queue around 20 mins in order to get a seat in the cafe! The one I had was a simpler version with a thick slab of bread toasted till golden brown and topped with ice-cream, whipped cream and drizzled with honey.

There are even more elaborated ones where a whole square block of sandwich loaf is hollowed in the centre and the removed cube of bread cut into small cubes. Next the hollowed loaf and bread cubes are generously buttered and toasted till golden brown and crunchy. The bread cubes are added back to the hole along with some fruits. The toast is decorated with ice-cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, assorted fruits, nuts and finally a drizzle of honey.

I guess it's popular because the dessert looks virtually appealing with all the ingredients added, what youngsters call "IG-worthy" or "Instagrammable". LOL. Well, for me, it's a sugar & carbo-bomb but I do crave for it once in a while.

When Singapore Home Cooks and Huiji Honey once again approached me for a collaboration to create dishes using Huiji Honey, I immediately thought of Shibuya Honey Toast :)

I decided to make a "over-the-top" Shibuya Honey Toast, with honey introduced to various components of the toast. I have Honey Buttermilk Loaf Bread, Honey & Vanilla Bean Ice-cream, Honeycomb as well as Honey Dark Chocolate Sauce!!

Basically honey is the sweetener instead of sugar which I suppose is better since honey is more healthy and nutritious with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. And Huiji honey is made from pure natural raw honey with a light jasmine flower scent :)

Since it's school holidays, I created a "picnic-at-home" with the kiddo and we had great fun digging into the toast and making a whole mess using our fingers.

Actually making Shibuya Honey Toast is not difficult; essentially it's an assembling job, combining the various components together and can be as simple or as elaborate as you like it. Most of the ingredients can in fact be store-bought rather than homemade, but this time I chose to DIY the whole thing just for fun.

This is a simple 4-ingredient ice-cream without use of ice-cream machine (I don't have one at home as our household eats very little ice-cream). Hot honey is used to temper the raw egg yolks (hence the yolks are not fully cooked per se), so for those uncomfortable with it, please use pasteurized eggs.

Honey Vanilla Bean Ice-Cream
  • 200g dairy whipping cream
  • 2 egg yolks (pasteurized)
  • 75g honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  1. Add egg yolks into a mixing bowl, whisk the yolk on medium low speed for a minute.
  2. Add honey into a sauce pot (preferably with spout), bring to boil.
  3. Once the honey is boiled, pour the honey in a steady stream into the whisked yolks. Whisk till the mixture is creamy and pale, and cooled to room temperature, around 5 mins.
  4. Add vanilla bean and mix well for a minute.
  5. In another mixing bowl, whisk the whipping cream on high speed till stiff peak.
  6. Fold the whipped cream into the yolk mixture until blended.
  7. Pour the batter into a loaf pan. Cover with clingwrap.
  8. Freeze overnight and ice-cream is ready.

The ice-cream turned out very nicely, not as creamy as those churned by ice-cream but good enough for me :) Love the subtle taste and aroma of honey which is accentuated by the addition of vanilla bean paste.

I love to munch on honeycomb! Use to eat a lot of Cadbury Crunchie which is chocolate coated honeycomb bar when I was a teenager :p

Making honeycomb at home is in fact very simple, but you do need a candy thermometer as the syrup needs to be heated to 150 degree celsius. Most recipes use very little honey in making the honeycomb, mostly sugar and golden syrup or light corn syrup. I decided to replace all the corn syrup with honey so that the taste of honey can be enhanced. Sugar is still an essential ingredient though I tried to reduce the amount.

Homemade Honeycomb

  • 100g sugar
  • 60g honey
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 30g water

  1. Add sugar, honey and water into a sauce pot, do not stir the mixture, bring the mixture to boil till 150 degree celsius.
  2. Upon reaching 150 degree celsius, remove from heat, add baking soda and stir quickly for10s.
  3. Pour the mixture onto a tray lined with non-stick parchment/baking paper.
  4. Let the honeycomb mixture cool down and harden for about 20-30 mins.
  5. Cut or break the honeycomb into pieces. Store in airtight container.

After pouring the honeycomb mixture onto the lined tray, do not touch it just let it spread out by itself. I made the mistake of using a spatula to smoothen the mixture but it became messy and you can see some pockmarks created as a result.

The honeycomb hardens quite quickly in less than 30 mins, but they tend to turn soft and sticky if left exposed in room temperature due to our humid weather. So be sure to store them in airtight container.

Honey Dark Chocolate Sauce

  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 50g whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp honey

  1. Add whipping cream and honey into a heatproof container and set the container over boiling water.
  2. Heat the mixture till honey is melted and cream is hot to touch.
  3. Pour the mixture into the bowl of dark chocolate and stir to melt the chocolate.
  4. Chocolate sauce is ready to be used.

Love the dark chocolate sauce with an undertone of honey, and the honeycomb tasted even better with the sauce! Couldn't stop munching already :p

And now for the main star, the honey buttermilk loaf bread! Have made this a few times in order to adjust the quantity of dough to the loaf tins I have. Really pleased with the results of the bread which is soft and fluffy, even till the next day or the day after. Try to finish up the loaf before third day because no preservatives added and the bread will turn moldy quickly. I always prefer making small loaves of bread so that they can be finished within two days.

Honey Buttermilk Bread

9"x9" loaf tin                       12"x12" loaf tin
1.5 tsp warm water                1 tbsp warm water
1/2 tsp instant dry yeast          1 tsp instant dry yeast
80g fresh milk                         160g fresh milk
1 tsp lemon juice                     2 tsp lemon juice
115g bread flour                     230g bread flour
10g cake flour                        10g cake flour
1/4 tsp salt                             1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda                1/4 tsp baking soda
20g honey                               40g honey
10g unsalted butter                  20g unsalted butter, room temperature

1. Mix warm water and yeast together, set aside for a few minutes till mixture is foamy.
2. Mix fresh milk and lemon juice together, set aside for a few minutes till mixture is cuddled (turns into buttermilk).
3. In a mixing bowl, add bread flour, cake flour, salt and baking soda and stir to mix well.
4. Add the yeast mixture, buttermilk mixture and honey. Knead the mixture using a dough hook on low speed till everything comes together. Turn to medium low speed (speed 4).
5. Once gluten is formed, add in butter and continue to knead until dough is smooth and elastic (window pane stage). It takes around 12-15 mins on speed 4 of KitchenAid.
6. Remove dough from bowl and round it. Grease the bowl and place the dough back. Cover with clingwrap and let the dough proof till double-size (takes around 45-60 mins).

7. Remove dough from mixing bowl, lightly knead to remove the air.
8. Use a rolling pin and roll the dough roughly into square shape.
9. Fold both sides of the dough into the centre.
10. Roll up the dough and pinch to seal the ends.

*weight of dough for 9" loaf tin is about 240g
*weight of dough for 12" loaf tin is about 480g

11. Place the dough into a well-greased (with butter) square loaf tin.
12. Cover the loaf tin and let the dough proof for second time, till about 80% height of tin (takes around 30-45 mins).
13. Preheat oven to 200 degree celsius.
14. Once ready, place the loaf tin into the preheated oven. Bake at 200 degree celsius for 30 mins.
15. Remove the loaf tin from the oven, and unmould the loaf from the tin immediately. Let the loaf cool on a wire rack completely.

Shibuya Honey Toast

  • 2 square sandwich loaves
  • 50g salted butter
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Assorted fruits (I use banana, cherry, blueberry)
  • Honey ice-cream
  • Honeycomb
  • Honey Dark Chocolate Sauce
  • Honey

  1. Slice off the top crust of the loaf.
  2. Carve out a square in the middle of the sandwich loaf, leaving about 1cm around the edges including the bottom.
  3. Insert blade near the bottom (likewise leaving 1cm allowance) of one side of the sandwich loaf.
  4. Gently remove the the sandwich cube from the loaf.

5. Cut the sandwich cube into smaller cubes.
6. Melt 50g salted butter with 1 tbsp honey. Preheat oven at 180 degree celsius.
7. Place the bread cubes and loaf onto a baking tray.
8. Brush the small cubes of bread and the entire loaf (including the insides) with honey butter.
9. Bake the bread cubes and loaf at 180 degree celsius for 15 mins.
10. Remove from oven, let the bread cool completely before use.
11. Add a layer of bread cubes into the hollow loaf, add some sliced bananas and top with another layer of bread cubes.
12. Decorate the toast with honeycomb, honey vanilla ice-cream and fruits. Drizzle honey chocolate sauce and honey.
13. Enjoy!

So here we have it, my petite Shibuya Honey Toast.

And the regular size Shibuya Honey Toast!

I made two loaves of Shibuya Honey Toast this time, one regular and one petite so that both of us can have one each. But truth is we couldn't finish them as they are simply too much ingredients. Truly over-the-top :p

This can be a fun parent-and-child project at home, getting the kids to help out in decorating the toast and afterwards eating it together! Give it a try and I'm sure the kids will love it :)

05 June 2017

Rice Paper Rolls with Sweet Salty Spicy Marmite Sauce

The weather has been so ridiculously hot recently that I don't feel like doing any intensive cooking in the kitchen as it would make me all sweaty and frustrated! Besides, the humidity also made me lose my appetite and at times like this, I would crave for something refreshing to look at and appetising to eat.

Rice Paper Rolls or Summer Rolls to the rescue! It's like a complete meal altogether; carbo from the chewy rice paper and rice vermicelli, fiber from the lettuce, cucumber, carrots, mint leaves, parsley and of course protein from meat and shrimp.

The rolls are kind of bland on its own and the dipping sauce play an important role in bringing out the flavours of all the ingredients. Usually I eat my rolls with peanut hoisin sauce which is saltish and sweet. This time round, I decided to explore a different dipping sauce using Marmite!

Marmite is like my childhood condiment which my mum added to porridge to boast our appetite as well as Vitamin B intake. It has this potent aroma with salty and rich flavour which is actually a great condiment to use for cooking (besides just adding to porridge), evident in local favourite zi char dishes like Marmite chicken and pork ribs.

Besides saltiness and sweetness, I wanted a tinge of spiciness to my sauce. Therefore, using Marmite as the salty and umami base, Gula Melaka for the sweetness and fragrant and Sriracha chilli sauce for the spicy kick. And to make the sauce more full-bodied, I added a chicken, prawn and marmite stock (that I had used to cook the chicken, prawn and rice vermicelli).

Preparing the rest of the ingredients is straightforward. I cooked the chicken breast, prawn and thick vermicelli noodles in a chicken marmite stock; wash and cut up the vegetables and that's it, ready to roll!

You can even make it a DIY summer roll party, it's a great party food which I have tried before.

Rice Paper Rolls with Sweet Spicy Salty Marmite Sauce
(makes 12 rolls, using 16cm rice paper)

Rice paper rolls
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 250ml water
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • 120g thick vermicelli noodles, pre-cooked type
  • 150g chicken breast meat
  • 24pcs small prawns, de-vein, with shell
  • 12 pcs rice paper
  • 12 leaves romaine lettuce
  • 50g carrot, julienned
  • 1 Japanese cucumber, julienned
  • Mint leaves, chinese parsley
  1. In a sauce pot, add chicken stock, water and marmite. Bring to boil.
  2. Add the chicken breast meat, boil for 10 mins till fully cooked. Remove from stock, let cool and shred into thick pieces, set aside.
  3. Add the prawns, boil for 5 mins till fully cooked. Remove from stock, let cool and remove shell. Slice the prawns into half, set aside.
  4. Add the noodles, blanch for 30s, remove from stock and set aside.
  5. Strain the soup stock and set aside to cool.
  6. Take a piece of rice paper, soak in water for 30s and place it onto a cutting board.
  7. Place romaine lettuce, vermicelli, carrot, cucumber onto the rice paper. Roll and wrap the rice paper 1/3 towards the centre.
  8. Next, place 4 pieces of sliced prawns (colourful side facing down) and some mint leaves and parsley onto the prawns. Roll and wrap the rice paper towards the centre.
  9. Lastly, place 2 pieces of chicken breast, wrap the sides of the rice paper inwards and roll the rice paper towards the edge to complete the wrap.
  10. Rice roll is ready to eat.
Marmite Sauce
  • 2 tsp cooking oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 150ml soup stock from (A)
  • 1 tbsp marmite
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
  • 50g gula melaka
  • Corn starch slurry (2 tsp + 2 tbsp water)
  • Sesame seeds, pine nuts, parsley
  1. Heat the cooking oil in a pan, add garlic and stir-fry till fragrant.
  2. Add the soup stock, Marmite, Sriracha hot sauce, Gula Melaka and cook till the Gula Melaka is melted. Add corn starch slurry and cook till sauce thickens. Stir in sesame seeds.
  3. Transfer to serving dish, top with pine nuts and parsley.
  4. Sauce is ready to be served with the rice paper rolls.

Ooooh, the sauce is sooooo yummy! Whets the appetite and perfect match for the rice paper rolls. I believe that even those who dislike Marmite would fall in love with this sauce.

I think this sauce is also a perfect alternative to the typical peanut hoisin sauce; some folks might be allergic to peanuts or some who don't like the taste of hoisin sauce or couldn't get hoisin sauce in their local stores or area.

In fact, I can see more uses to this sauce such as sweet spicy salty deep fried chicken wings or pork ribs. Gonna explore more recipes :) Give it a try!