Mentaiko Onigiri aka Flavored Rice Balls


Outdoor picnic has always been my favorite pastime in the summer. Sandwiches and cakes are some of the common snacks to be enjoyed during the picnics. Much inspired by the hanami  picnics in Japan, I made these mentaiko onigiri as my picnic snack.
(Hanami refers to sakura viewing, a traditional custom in Japan to enjoy the transient beauty of sakura)

These flavored rice balls are so simple to make. Basically you just need two main ingredients - cooked rice and kelp & mentaiko seasoning. No extra seasoning i.e. salt or soy sauce is required as the hydrated mentaiko (pollock roe) is salty in taste. You can adjust the saltiness of the rice balls according to your preference - more kelp & mentaiko seasoning for saltier version.

Wakame maze gohan Mentaiko konbu

Ingredients
A bowl of warm cooked rice
kelp & mentaiko seasoning (intake according to preference)
seaweed (optional)

Directions
1. Sprinkles kelp & mentaiko seasoning and seaweed on the warm rice. Mix well.
2. Wet your hands with some water. Scoop some rice onto your hand and shape the rice into ball shape or triangle shape.

I highly recommend the kelp & mentaiko seasoning by Hagoromo. The mentaiko are a bit spicy in taste, which added another layer of flavor to the plain rice. The seasoning can be purchased from Amazon. Just look for Wakame maze gohan Mentaiko konbu 30gx10.

Here is my little picnic's bento with onigiri, chicken nuggets and fried tempura shrimps. Let's picnic!

 Onigiri
 

Baked Chicken Balls


Even since the breaking news of horse meat meatball scandal 3 years ago, I stopped buying any forms of frozen meatballs. I reckon it is 'safer' and healthier to make my own meatballs at home. The ingredients for meatballs can be very basic: minced meat plus some basic seasonings. Nevertheless you can always 'add-on' and 'size-up' for the elaborate version by adding your favorite ingredients to the chicken paste.

I like greens, hence I added some finely chopped scallion, chili and diced carrot to the chicken paste. The greens have indeed added some extra crunch and natural sweetness to the meatballs. Not to mention, the colors are very appealing too. To hold the chicken paste better, it is always a good idea to add in an egg and some flour to the meat mixture. This will help to prevent the meatballs from falling apart in the cooking process. Also, the meatballs will be firmer in texture too.

I usually pan fried my meatballs, but for this time round, I attempted to bake them instead. They turned out perfectly and tasted as good as the fried version. I first fill the baking tray with a thin layer of cooking oil. This is follow by arranging the meatballs on the baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes under 175c. Turn the meatballs and bake for another 5-8 minutes until the whole meatballs turn golden brown.

Ingredients
350g chicken mince (or minced pork)
1 stalk of scallion (finely chopped)
1 medium size carrot (diced)
1 chili (finely chopped)
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of sugar
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 egg
salt & pepper to taste
cooking oil

Directions
1. In a big mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients together except for the all purpose flour.
2. Stir the mixture in clockwise direction (stir in one direction only) till it turned to paste form. You may stop the stir process once the meat paste turn slightly gluey.
3. Now, add in the all purpose flour and mix well.
4. Use both your palms to shape the meat paste into ball size.
5. Place the meatballs on the baking tray with a thin layer of cooking oil and bake for 15 minutes under 175c.
6. Turn the meatballs and bake for another 5-8 minutes until the whole meatballs turn golden brown.

You can enjoy the baked meatballs as it is or with some dipping sauce. I prefer to enjoy mine with the Thai sweet chili sauce. Usually I will make a few batches extra which I store in the freezer for later use. I use them for my favorite sweet-sour meatball dish. Check out the recipe Here.

Bakehouse Chicken & Bacon Pie

Bakehouse Chicken & Bacon Pie

I am totally aware that ready made food is packed with sodium and preservatives, and it is best to cut down the intake if possible. However, I can be easily tempted to secretly stock-up on a few packets in my freezer especially when there are new items on the shelve.

Ya, check out this Bakehouse Chicken & Bacon Pie from Green Isle. They look absolutely tempting from the packaging itself. In this post, let's review how the pies tasted. 

Green Isle

There are 2 pies in a box. The unbaked frozen pies are flat and pale in look. The pie rose and doubled the size after baking in the oven for 30-35 minutes at 175c.

Overall, the pies tasted pretty good especially the puff. I like the baked fluffy crust and not overly buttery in taste. The cream sauce chicken and bacon filling is slightly creamier than I expected but can be overcome with some chili sauce. Unlike what is shown on the packaging photo, the pie is packed with chunky chicken and bacon pieces. It is not the case in reality. 70% of the filling is cream sauce and chicken and bacon pieces just submerge underneath. To me, it is more like having chicken and bacon cream soup. So guys, images can be deceiving.

Chicken & Bacon Pie

A pie is not entirely filling, so I have other side dishes i.e. pan fried potatoes and sweet corn to pair with the dish.

Not a bad try and I do recommend it to those who love pies as the pastry puff scores.

Bakehouse Chicken & Bacon Pie

Stir-Fry Tomato Egg


This stir-fry tomato egg dish has indeed brought back great memories to me.

I was assigned to a China project years back and had to travel to China frequently. Being stationed in a small town (about 1 hour away from Shanghai), dinner options are very limited. Lunch was not a problem as there was cafeteria in the factory. Occasionally I did have invitations from local colleague for dinners, but it was not an everyday. My stays could stretch to weeks long and I needed 'to settle' my own dinners most of the time.

The most memorable dining experience at the hotel restaurant was with this dish. I did not order the dish but someone else did, a complete stranger who seated at the next table. Since we were the only 2 diners in the restaurant, we decided to dine together. We had our orders taken before we even decided to share the same table. I ended shifted to his table and we shared each others dishes. I love the stir-fry tomato egg dish he ordered. I was informed that it is a common dish in China. Knowing that I like the dish so much, he generously shared his recipe with me.

Well, I will make the dish when I miss my stay in the little quite town in China. Here is the recipe.

Ingredients
4 beaten eggs
2 large tomato (wedged)
3 tbsp tomato sauce (Heinz tomato sauce)
2 tbsp sugar
50ml water
cooking oil
corn starch solution
salt and pepper to taste
chopped scallion (garnish)

Directions

1. Season the egg mixture with some salt and pepper.
2. Heat up generous amount of cooking oil in the pan and pour in the egg mixture. Dish out the omelet for later use.
3. In the same pan, add in the cut tomato and stir-fry for a couple of minutes till the tomato turn soft.
4. Add in the sugar, tomato sauce, water, corn starch solution and simmer for about 1 minute.
5. Add in the omelet. Stir well till the omelet is well coated with the tomato sauce.
6. Garnish the dish with chopped scallion and serve.

Another great dish to enjoy with either rice or noodles. It is indeed a simple dish to prepare with easy to obtain ingredients.

I had the fresh tomato pieces dissolved (integrated) 90% into the sauce for greater sourness and tomato taste. If you prefer the crunchy texture of the fresh tomato, do reduce the cooking time for the tomato. Just a quick stir follow by adding the sauces and omelet.

Hard-Boiled Eggs with Spicy Soy Sauce Dressing


I struggled to find a suitable name for my new recipe, a hard boiled egg dish. It is inspired by a dish I tried in a Thai buffet restaurant. I later found out that the egg dish is known as son-in-law egg in Thai, which is fried hard-boiled egg with tamarind sauce and topped with fried onion and dried red chili.

I had not figure out the tamarind taste when I sampled the dish. Perhaps the yellow curry sauce which I drizzle on my rice had over powered the tamarind sauce. With no trace of sour taste, I confidently assured myself that the sauce is non other then soy sauce, judging from the deep colour of the sauce.


With no doubt at all, I had the dish 'replicated' with a twist where I had added the sauteed ginger strips for extra aroma and spiciness. The beautiful mistake has indeed turned out to be a great success. I like the dish so much and I am sharing the recipe here.  


Ingredients
4 hard-boiled egg
2 stalks of dried chili
1 medium size onion (thinly sliced)
5-10g of ginger (julienne)
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of water
sugar and pepper to taste
some cooking oil

Directions

1. Heat up the cooking oil in the pan and stir fry the ginger strips, dried chili and onion till fragrant
2. Add in the soy sauce, sugar, pepper and water.
3. Cook under medium heat for a few minute till the sauce thicken
4. Halved the hard boiled egg and drizzle the sauce on the eggs

The dish is best to enjoy with fragrant plain rice. The sauce instantly elevated the creamy egg yolk to a higher level. Worth to mention here that the well cooked spices added extra body to the overall dish. It is indeed a comfort food which I will definitely make again.


If you prefer a spicer version, you can add in more ginger and dried red chili too. You may skip de-seeding the dried red chili if you like extra spiciness.

I choose not to deep fry the hard-boiled eggs to avoid excess intake of oil. I also dislike the rubbery layer formed at the outer layer of the hard-boiled eggs after being deep fried. 


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