Dinner For Two: Onion Pandade + Curried Carrot Pear Salad

This isn’t a food blog, but I’ve decided to try making a note here of our nicer dinners. While I can store my own ratings of the individual recipes in Springpad (which I also use to store recipes, make shopping lists and generally do all our kitchen-related planning), I like the idea of also keeping track of which dishes worked especially well together.

I had the following conversation with Alec a while back, which entertained people on Facebook at the time but didn’t get recorded here:

Me: How should we use up this shitload of onions?
Alec: Hmm, maybe an onion soup.
Me: Isn’t that quite labour intensive though?
Alec: No, it’ll be fine with the food processor.
Me: Food processor?!
Alec: Ah right, we haven’t got one. Back to the drawing board then.
Me: ……

After unfreezing my face from the pained WTF grimace I reserve only for the person I love most in the world, I went looking for an easier way to use up that shitload of onions, and found this onion pandade. Paired with this shaved carrot and pear salad with curry vinaigrette, it made for a meatless meal which was hearty, savoury and refreshing all at once.

Because this was an afterthought, inspired simply by being halfway through this meal and never wanting it to end, I don’t have any photos, but it wasn’t the most photogenic meal anyway, for reasons I will now explain.

Although the onion pandade recipe is intended to yield what its author described as a “savoury bread pudding”, we discovered that by screwing up, you can actually make it into a really delicious onion soup. Alec decided to disregard my suggestion of a suitable oven dish and instead use one which was simultaneously too deep and too small, which meant that a fair amount of the stock didn’t get absorbed into the bread, and we got the golden, crunchy topping the recipe promised…but on the floor of the oven. No matter. Our onion pandade “stew” was still bloody tasty, and the oven floor got the clean it probably needed – not by me, of course.

Tofunky 2: Strawberry Banana Yuzu Tofu Smoothie

Following the earlier tofunkiness, I had a small portion of silken tofu left over. So when I made my breakfast smoothie the next day, I decided to use that instead of the yoghurt I normally would.

Then I reached into the fridge to grab the milk and my eye lit upon the Peelfresh yuzu juice that Alec bought to make his breakfasts happier. I had been all “oooOOOooo, FANCY, is Marigold orange juice not good enough for you any more, HUH HUH HUH?” (because I am that annoying), until I tasted it and realized that it was super delicious. So I decided to stick with the Asian theme of the smoothie and use the yuzu juice instead of milk. I haven’t felt so damn Asian since I scored an A in AO’level oral Mandarin.[1. Yes, this really happened. See item 12 here for the details.]

There are many ways of making smoothies, and I’m sure those of you who already make your own will have your own idea of how you’d incorporate silken tofu or yuzu juice into your mix of ingredients. But in case it’s yuzuful useful to anyone, here is what I yuzually usually do as a quick guide, followed by how I adapted it this time.

Standard smoothie template

  • 1/3 frozen banana (I cut the bananas into chunks and freeze them, then use 3 or 4 chunks per smoothie)
  • 1/2 cup other frozen fruit, in smallish chunks
  • 1/3 cup yoghurt
  • 2/3 cup milk or juice (or both)
  • Optional: handful of raw greens, like spinach or kai lan. I didn’t use them in this smoothie, but I often do in others.

Note: these proportions will give you a fairly liquid smoothie, because that’s what I like. If you like yours thicker, use 1/2 cup yoghurt with 1/2 cup milk/juice, and more banana.

Strawberry banana yuzu tofu smoothie

  • 1/3 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 100g silken tofu
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup yuzu juice

Note: If you want to use some other fruit instead of strawberries, I’d suggest staying within the realm of the uncomplicatedly sweet, like apples, pears or peaches, rather than something tarter like berries or another citrus fruit. The yuzu juice will give you enough complexity and piquance (which is really nice against the soy taste from the tofu), so I don’t think the other fruit needs to compete with it. This is also why I chose to use 1/3 cup each milk and yuzu juice, instead of 2/3 cup of just yuzu juice.

Blend and enjoy, preferably while doing the Carlton dance to It’s Not Unyuzual Unusual.

Yuzu Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Tofunky: Singaporean Chocolate Tofu Pudding

There isn’t always much rhyme or reason to the things I do. I mostly bought the pack of silken tofu because it felt like a better way to get some variety out of a buy-two-for-$1.55 tofu offer than having two packs of firm tofu. I also mostly decided to blog about what I did with the silken tofu just so that the post title would add to this site’s ample repository of terrible puns and unnecessary song references.


I’ve used silken tofu in the usual Asian ways before, of course, but my extensive food blog skimming has also made me aware that people sometimes use it as a dairy alternative of sorts. While I have no health or ethical reasons to do so, I do happen to be a person who likes creamy desserts in a country where silken tofu is about a quarter the price of cream. And if you are one of those people too, you really owe it to yourself to try out Mark Bittman’s Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding (with one key Singapore-centric adjustment I will mention later). Because this?

Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding

Is tofucking awesome. You have to try it to believe how decadently well the tofu blends with the melted chocolate.

I won’t do blow-by-blow instructions the way I did for the Tropic Thunder Roasted Chickpeas, but for anyone who doesn’t regularly deal with chocolate, here are two guides I found useful:

Other things to note:

  • I used the 70% Lindt dark chocolate which is easy to find in most supermarkets here.
  • While the linked recipe states that it makes 4-6 servings, I found that halving the recipe already yielded 4 satisfactorily-sized servings, so beware of making the full amount and ending up with way too much first world problems intense chocolate bliss. The pudding is so rich that I would find it a little difficult to eat a large serving of it in one go, though obviously your chocolate mileage may vary.
  • If you’re Singaporean or have a typical Singaporean threshhold for spiciness, feel free to be considerably more liberal with the chilli powder than the recipe suggests. (I used dried chilli flakes rather than powder because that’s what I had at home.) So although I halved the other quantities in the recipe, I doubled the amount of chilli flakes! And to me, the resulting level of spiciness was perfect.

So there you have it, a dessert which will cost you a pittance at NTUC but tastes like something you bought from Awfully Chocolate, and ignores all sense of proportion and restraint when it comes to spiciness. What could be more Singaporean?

Addendum: Do also have a look at the Strawberry Banana Yuzu Smoothie I made with the remainder of the silken tofu. Also very Singaporean, because dun waste mah.

Tropic Thunder Roasted Chickpeas

Although roasted chickpeas are a foodblogger staple by now (not that this is a food blog) and I always intended to give them a try, the imminent meltdown of our freezer – which had about two cans’ worth of frozen chickpeas in it, among other things – was what eventually forced my hand. There are plenty of recipes out there already but I wanted to write a little about what worked for me and what didn’t, because I have a hunch that getting a roasted chickpea crispy and keeping it that way is tougher in the wretched humidity of Singapore than in drier climes.

I started off by following the method outlined in this recipe, which differs from many others I saw in that it has you dry-roasting the chickpeas for the first twenty minutes rather than chucking the oil in with them right at the start. Also, it uses a slightly higher temperature than other recipes I’ve seen. As I said, my hunch is that these measures are helpful for Singapore’s humidity, so if you are trying this out in Singapore (or anywhere else where the air is similarly sodden) I suggest you bear them in mind. In light of this, and the torrential rain that was pouring down when I roasted my first batch, I shall call them Tropic Thunder Chickpeas.

Tropic Thunder Chickpeas


  • 1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Your choice of seasoning. Here’s what I used, but just use your intuition and go by your own taste:
    • Batch 1: Soya sauce (about 1 teaspoon, possibly a little more) and dried chilli flakes (liberal sprinkling)
    • Batch 2: Jerk seasoning (about 1 tablespoon)
    • In future batches, I might try curry powder or garam masala. This honey-miso combination looks great too.


  1. See that source recipe uses Fahrenheit. Say “Convert 425 Fahrenheit to Celsius” into Google Search app. Obtain gibberish as response. Consider, given your unfortunate history with this app, that you may have been suffering from an undiagnosed speech defect all these years. Realize that constant construction noise in background which you have become inured to is probably confusing Google. Type in conversion query instead. Preheat oven to 220C.

  2. Place chickpeas in one layer on baking tray. Roast for 10 minutes, then shake tray around (some will be sticking to it, fiddle as necessary with spoon to unstick them) and roast for another 10 minutes.

  3. Pour chickpeas from baking tray into bowl comfortably sized for tossing oily chickpeas. Depending on shape of baking tray, avoid thinking your kitchen ninja skillz are sufficiently advanced that you will not spill any. If in doubt, fiddle as necessary with spoon to get them all safely in. Sprinkle with oil and your choice of seasoning, to taste. Toss to get them all nicely coated with flava.

  4. Pour chickpeas back onto baking tray. Intend to follow source recipe’s instructions to continue roasting 5-15 minutes more at the same temperature. Instead, get distracted by trying to supervise freezer repairman (who arrived somewhere during step 2) in Mandarin. Realize eventually that chickpeas have been in there for nearly 20 minutes. Extract them hurriedly from oven, pop one into mouth, and realize they are perfect. Upon attempting batch 2 on a different day, follow original instructions and end up with less crispy chickpeas. Shake fists at tropical sky.

  5. Allow chickpeas to cool, then store in glass jar which formerly held pasta sauce, and which you saved because you have become your mother. Refrigerate. Battle spiralling chickpea addiction over next few days, which is an important battle to wage, because at the end of the day they are still beans with beanly consequences, ahem ahem. Settle on portion control strategy of only eating one jar lid’s worth at a time. Resolve to buy bigger jars of pasta sauce in future.

Roasted Chickpeas with Jerk Seasoning

Lastly, out of sympathy for long-suffering readers who just want a damn copy-and-pastable recipe, condense method as follows:

  1. Preheat oven to 220C.
  2. Roast chickpeas, in one layer on baking tray, for 10 minutes. Shake tray to dislodge any chickpeas sticking to it, then roast 10 minutes more.
  3. Remove chickpeas from oven and transfer to bowl. Add oil and seasoning to taste, toss.
  4. Transfer chickpeas back to baking tray, continue roasting at 220C until browned and crispy. In Singapore, in my oven, this was 20 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool before storing in airtight container. Refrigerate.

Carefree Cha Ca

We took a long break from cooking together because of Alec’s business trip and then our holiday, but it was fun getting back into it over the long weekend. I’d been considering making cha ca (Vietnamese style fish with dill and turmeric) for a while as a good way to trim our ridiculously verdant dill plant, but all the recipes I came across online seemed rather troublesome and I am a lazy cook.

But then I came across this simplified cha ca recipe in a library book (can’t remember the name, will check on my next visit and update this post accordingly), and although it may not satisfy a purist, it’s damn tasty.

Vietnamese Dill Fish (closeup)

1. Marinate 1 pound firm-fleshed fish fillets (the book suggested tilapia or catfish, Alec brought home lovely fresh red snapper from the wet market, so we used that), cut into 2-3 inch chunks, up to 1 day in advance, in:

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (if you have Knife brand like us, consider going a bit easier on this or leaving out the salt below – we found the dish slightly too salty at the end)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

2. Okay, mealtime! The fish will cook really fast, so make the indispensable nuoc cham first. Put into grinding device (we only have an old school pestle and mortar, but presumably there are more new-fangled thingies to do this with):

  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli / chilli garlic sauce or 1 teaspoon chilli flakes

Bump and grind it like R Kelly at the junior prom. When it’s a paste, stir in:

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

3. Get these last few things in place before starting on the fish, because once you tip that out of the pan you’ll want to shove piping hot, fragrant chunks of it into your gaping maw, instantly.

  • Get some rice noodles cooking
  • Chop up 5 spring onions
  • Gather 2 cups coarsely chopped dill (checking first, if home-grown, for MOTHERFUCKING MEALYBUGS, RAAAARRRRGH!)
  • Gather 1 cup mint, coriander or Thai basil leaves

4. Right, we’re finally at the fish, but another reason I dawdled in getting here is because I don’t know anything about this bit – I generally leave Alec to handle any sweating over hot stoves. Anyway, the book said to heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet on medium-high heat “until a piece of dill sizzles at once”. Put in fish for 2 minutes, turn, and give it another minute.

5. Chuck in dill and spring onions, another minute.

Vietnamese Dill Fish with dipping sauce and mint

6. Devour noodles, fish and herbs with nuoc cham, in delicious messy frenzy.

7. Realize several hours later that there’s a turmeric-stained noodle in your hair.

8. Pretend you meant for that to happen.


Occasional Foodiness

We do a fair bit of cooking but I haven’t bothered to write much about it here since cooking is hardly a novelty to either of us. For the same reason, I have hardly any photos of the stuff we’ve cooked so far, because taking a photograph of my food before eating it would just never occur to me. But since my sister was crouching over our baked fish, snapping away like the keen food photographer she’s become, I thought I’d try my hand at it too, and am quite happy with the result.

It’s fish baked Greek style with dill, tomatoes and potatoes, from a Nigel Slater recipe. We used kurau (threadfin) steaks, and the dill is from our makeshift balcony herb garden. It’s a pretty great recipe because you hardly have to do anything – you chuck potatoes, onions and garlic in a baking tray with olive oil, bake for 10 minutes (180C), add the fish on top and surround it with tomatoes, season with herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper, bake for 35 minutes more and it comes out perfect.

Apart from that, we also made chicken piccata and roasted aubergine, tomato and chickpea soup, and much credit for the delicious success of those dishes goes to the reliability of Elise’s recipes. My mum made braised cabbage with wholegrain mustard, which went very well with everything else, and I whipped up apple, pear and banana smoothies for dessert. It was probably the easiest, cheapest, least stressful, most universally successful dinner party we’ve ever done. And contrary to Alec’s yuppie parody, I can assure you that all ingredients (except the chickpeas, weirdly, we needed Cold Storage for those) can be purchased in NTUC Marine Parade.