Hungry Dru has Moved!

December 16, 2008

Dear Friends,

I’ve moved my blog over to it’s own domain, http://www.hungrydru.com. Please update your bookmarks as well as RSS feeds to point to http://www.hungrydru.com/feed. I’ll set up an automatic redirect soon so that those of you who have stuff configured to direct to this page can get redirected automatically. I hope you enjoy the new improved site!

Hungry Dru

I think there’s a misconception that caviar is a luxury reserved for the very rich, or that you have to be some kind of food connoisseur in order to appreciate. Well, let me be the first to say that I am neither rich nor a connoisseur–in fact, I’m out of a job, and until only yesterday discovered that the fish from which the caviar I picked out originates looks like a complete freak of nature.

But this is besides the point. Caviar is tasty, accessible to those on a budget (choose between $10 for a jar of lumpfish, or $300 for a can of osteria), and best of all, very simple to prepare.

For condiments, finely chop some chives, red onion, and boiled egg. Then in equal parts, fold creme fraiche, sour cream, and heavy cream in a bowl. Some people like to serve these ingredients separate. This time round, I decided to mix all the condiments into the cream mixture, and is probably the more practical option if you were to serve these at a dinner or cocktail party. I simply used a circular mold to create the round pieces of bread (do this last, so the bread remains toasty upon serving). Top up with caviar, garnish with a lemon wedge and chives, and pair with a cold glass of champagne.


Enjoy!

Caviar-topped Capellini

November 19, 2008

I’ve always been enamored by the cold angel hair pasta topped with osteria caviar at Gunther’s, as well as Iggy’s rendition of a similar dish. It was finally my turn to try a take of capellini with caviar of some sort.

Cook the angel hair for 2 minutes to a nice al dente, and while hot, toss in a combination of cream cheese, spring onions, and a generous drizzle of truffle and olive oil. Use two chopsticks to roll the pasta into a bite-sized ball and set on a spoon. Top off with generous portion of caviar of your choice.

Since I was on a budget, I opted for lumpfish caviar, which for $10 bought me a decent sized jar enough to make at least 15 portions. If I had deep pockets, I am sure that a nice hunk of osteria caviar instead would take this dish to a new level. Maybe one day! For the time being, I’ll stick to the lumpfish since I was satisfied with the results, which in total only cost me $15 to make, and ended up looking quite nice.

A simple, elegant starter for any dining occasion. Give it a shot!

While most people look forward to football season, I grew up in Singapore looking forward to hairy crab season which peaks from September through December. A part of me died every time I listened to tales of hairy crab dinners back home while I was getting edumacated in a land far away, the USA. That’s why I was so excited to finally be around to feast on these true delicacies, which back in the day, were only available for emperors and royalty. A quick trip to Chinatown, and for approximately $45 a pop, you too can relive ancient dreams of eating like a king.


 
The true wonder of these creatures lies in its fantastically warm, velvelty roe, which doused in a mixture of caramelized brown sugar, vinegar, and ginger is the very definition of yummy. It’s also a whole lot of fun taking part in the crab eating process; from the specific steps that must be taken in order to fully savor all aspects of the crab, to the ritualistic chinese wine and post-meal ginger tea drinking. Check here for some good step-by-step guidance.

I never fail to receive a small amount of pleasure in merely watching one peel open the crab body to unearth the wonderful mixture of crab innards, roe, and well, sperm. My contribution to your daily happiness:

Who knew sperm could taste so good?

Capital Restaurant
No. 323 New Bridge Road
Singapore 088759
Tel: 62223938

Happiness, Deep-Fried.

October 9, 2008

In the wee hours of the morning, which food do you crave the most? Some friends recently brought me to Sin Hoi Sai Eating House in the Tiong Bahru area of Singapore and introduced me to “salad you tiao,” a Singaporean-spin on the traditional youtiao (油 条) or yaojagwai ( 油炸鬼). It was truly a moment of reckoning, as I have had ravenous post-midnight desires for these little pieces of heaven ever since (If you know me personally, you know I am not even kidding).

Youtiao (油 条) is deep-fried strips of dough typically eaten with porridge. Salad youtiao, a pimped version of the former, is stuffed with either fish cake or squid, tossed into mayonnaise, and seasoned with sesame seeds. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this has nothing to do with salad, I am convinced the term was there to make you feel better about yourself, after all, this is a heart-attack on a stick. That’s right folks, deep-fried and covered in mayonnaise. How could you go wrong?

It’s Cantonese name, yaojagwai ( 油炸鬼) literally translates to oil-fried devil. No kidding, since a few pieces of these will probably require a good hour in the gym to work off. But I promise you, nothing beats these little pieces of heaven, especially after a heavy night of drinking.

To accompany, I usually order a plate of beef kway teow. Ladies and gentleman, my life is now complete. What about yours?

Sin Hoi Sai Eating House
Blk. 55 Tiong Bahru, #01-59
Tel: (+65) 6223 0180
Hours: All week, 5pm-5am

Cod, Improvised.

August 19, 2008

Here’s an easy dish that I whipped up after finding myself home alone and lunch-less. I guess you can call it panfried cod with lemon zest spinach on a bed of mashed potatoes, but really its just fish spinach and potatoes.

Throw some kosher salt and white pepper on the cod. In a hot pan and olive oil, place fish skin down, pressing down firmly to ensure good contact with the pan. Hold for 2 to 3 minutes until skin is crisp. Another 2 to 3 minutes per side to cook the rest of the fish.

For spinach, prepare olive oil and generous amount of lemon/orange peel in a hot pan. When peel starts to curl, add the spinach and fry for 3 minutes. Salt to taste. Shape into a ball.

Nothing special about the mashed potatoes–a little butter, milk, salt & pepper to taste. I added some raw shallots, too. 

Garnish with some paprika, lemon zest. Simple & healthy. Good luck!

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I recently picked up a copy of The French Laundry Cookbook, a magnificent tease into the magical world of Thomas Keller’s gastronomic temple. Hungry, but not quite looking for a meal, I decided to give the parmesan crisps with goat cheese mousse recipe a try. I believe these bite-size snacks are served at the restaurant’s courtyard while patrons sip on champagne and enjoy the beautiful Napa countryside. 

The process was surprisingly straight forward: Finely grate a cup of parmesan reggiano, and on a silpat, use your fingers to evenly spread the cheese into circles approximately two and a half inches in diameter. Bake the cheese for around 8 minutes until they reach a nice golden brown.

Getting the crisps to conform into the right shape is the trickiest part. To do this, while the crisps are still warm, gently mold them into an empty egg carton and leave to cool. The goat cheese mousse is simply a blend of goat cheese, heavy cream, parsley and chives to garnish. Throw it all in a blender, and refrigerate. 

The results were nice, though the hot and humid weather caused the goat cheese mousse to melt very quickly. Next time, I intend on adding a little honey to the mousse to balance the saltiness of the parmesan crisps. Alternatively, pair with a sweet wine for a killer combination that will surely build an appetite!

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A First Attempt at Foie

July 23, 2008

Inspired by this episode of the F-Word, in which Ramsay does a quick tutorial on how to pan-sear foie gras, I decided give it a shot at home. After all, he boldly claims that searing foie gras is “easier than frying an egg.” (That, I can do). A quick trip to Culina on Orchard Boulevard, and I had myself a nice 600g worth of goose liver, which I learnt is less gamey and smoother than the more common duck liver. After allowing to thaw for about an hour, I sliced the liver along into pieces about 3/4 inches thick, wrapping the excess in individual plastic wrap to store away in the freezer for use on another occasion.

Hot pan and foie gras in hand, I quickly re-watched Ramsay’s tutorial and literally mimicked step-for-step: place foie gras on hot pan, wait for 2 minutes, flip, wait for 2 minutes, tilt pan and allow fat with foie gras to roll to the edge of the pan (to cook sides), flip, repeat. The process took about 8 minutes until I achieved a color I was happy with. A quick finger test to check it’s firmness, and it was off the pan and on the plate.

To accompany the foie gras, I caramelized some apples. To do this, thinly slice some apples, and throw onto a generously buttered pan on medium heat for 5 minutes, turning apples occasionally to brown both sides evenly. When apples are browned, add some brown sugar and a bit more butter, leave to reduce and caramelize further for another 5 minutes. I also made a simple salad of arugula, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and toasted almonds. Some fleur-de-sel salt on the side plus some dots of reduced balsamic vinegar…and my first attempt at foie gras was complete.

I busted out the 2004 Kyoho from the Leading Hotels event last week, a perfect wine to accompany the fatty, velvety texture of foie gras because it’s sweet, and buttery. 

If you’re a lover of foie gras like I am but think the only time you can have it is at fancy Michelin-rated restaurants, think otherwise. Please try this at home, and feel free to share your results. Good luck!

Culina
21 Orchard Boulevard #01-23
Park House Singapore 248654
Tel: (65) 6735 8858 

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Looking for a fun, simple, and novel way of spending a lazy Saturday afternoon, a buddy and I decided to check out Hai Bin U Enterprise, a small prawn farm located in the Bedok Bishan neighborhood of Singapore that offers recreational prawn fishing. Between the two of us, we spent $50 Singapore dollars, the equivalent of about $35 US dollars, to fish our hearts content for 2 hours. Rods, bait, and a quick tutorial for prawn fishing virgins (the majority of us, I presume) are all provided. 

While this might sound like the most random Saturday afternoon activity, you may be right. But if you remember that scene from Good Will Hunting, where Will suggests to catch up over some caramels because it’s as arbitrary as coffee, I think he has a point. In Singapore, why not catch up over prawn fishing? It’s a fun, simple, low-key way to pass some time and chit-chat with a friend while waiting for some tugs on your prawn fishing rod…which when happens, is a cheap thrill, but a thrill nonetheless!

2 hours later, while it was not exactly raining prawn, we headed home satisfied with our 500g worth of prawns. We were surprised by the sizes of some of the prawns, many of which had beautiful blue hues and massive pincers, which hurt!

We saw many people grilling their daily catch straight away, the smell was amazing and I bet they tasted great.

I definitely smell fresh prawn for dinner this Monday evening. Any recommendations? 

Hai Bin U Enterprise
No. 603 Sin Ming Avenue
Singapore 575735 

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During a recent visit to Italy, my family had the pleasure of staying at Hotel Relais Borgo San Felice, a magnificent boutique located in the middle of the Tuscan wine country, about a 2 hour drive away from Firenze. Incidentally, this hotel is a Leading Hotel of the World member (see yesterday’s event), as well as part of the very exclusive Relais & Châteaux group.

During our stay, I was fortunate to partake in a hands-on cooking class lead by Chef de Cuisine Antonio Fallini, an accomplished chef who gave up his position as God at The Four Seasons Hotel in Toyko, as well as cooking for the rich and famous (he confessed to being a nervous wreck at the heels of preparing the late Princess Diana and Pavarotti’s meal) in order to take charge at San Felice. 

 

I want to share a simple yet absolutely delicious dish from the lesson which even a mediocre cook such as myself was able to successfully reproduce at home…Papa al Pomodoro (you must clench your fingers together and waggle them in front of your mouth when you say it). Translated, it’s Bread & Tomato Soup. You cannot get any more simple and pure traditional Tuscan than this (photo credit, below, to seppysils).

Ingredients:

  1. 500g ripe tomatoes
  2. 2 silver onions
  3. 1 garlic
  4. 50g basil
  5. 500g tuscan stale bread 
  6. 1 chili pepper
  7. Rock salt
  8. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  9. 1 and 1/2 cup stock of choice: vegetable, beef, or chicken
Procedure:
  1. Finely dice silver onions, garlic, chili pepper, cut tomatoes into chunks, bread into crouton-like pieces.
  2. In olive oil, fry the above ingredients for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and broth, allow to simmer for 15 minutes, occasionally whisking.
  4. Add the stale bread, leave to soak up the moisture for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Add salt to taste, top soup with olive oil, garnish with basil.
And that’s it. Having tried this dish at numerous places around Italy, tastes varied. Of course, fresh ingredients is used across all, but I think the difference lies in the broth. So if anyone has secret recipes for amazingly fragrant broth, please do share! Note that this might not be the most visually appealing of dishes (my sister humorously pointed out that her rendition looked like vomit), so get creative with the garnishing.
If you do end up trying out this simple dish, please let me know what you thought. Other dishes Chef Fallini taught: potatoes and thyme ravioli pasta, black truffle beef fillet with mashed potatoes, and ricotta mousse with jam of figs.
 
Stay tuned for those!

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