Beer-battered Barramundi Soft Tacos with Asparagus Fries

Over the weekend, we got ourselves some beautiful barramundi fillets from Woolworth’s. Normally, I’d make them with lemon-butter sauce, but this time around, my wife was feeling adventurous, so she decided to do fish tacos.

She went with a beer batter using potato starch. Loved that idea, because it gave the fish extra crunch. Add to that the salsa and salad greens, and some crunchy asparagus spears, and we had ourselves a partay! Also a nontraditional addition: kaffir-lime dressing!

Ingredients

Eight barramundi fillets
One bottle Hahn Premium light beer
1 cup potato starch
1 egg
1 cup vegetable oil
1 bunch asparagus stalks
Eight small soft tacos/tortilla wraps
Salad greens
Tomato salsa
Garlic aioli
One pack of Five Tastes Lemongrass & Kaffir Lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the vegetable oil for frying over medium heat.
    In a bowl, combine the potato starch and the egg. Once mixed, slowly combine with the beer to form a batter.
  2. Dip the barramundi fillets into the batter, then deep fry until golden brown. Lay on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
  3. Once all fillets are cooked, dip the asparagus shoots into the batter, then deep fry until golden brown.
  4. On a plate, assemble your taco to taste. I started with a layer of garlic aioli, then salad greens, the fish, tomato salsa, then the lime dressing. Roll the taco and enjoy!

No-Bake Shepherd’s Pie

The other night, my wife and I prepared a no-bake shepherd’s pie. A perennial kids’ favorite, we divided our pie into two sections–one with a vegetable medley of peas, corn, and carrots, and one that was meat-only–and served that to our kids.

The best part? It tastes great, even without baking! Give it a try!

Ingredients

0.5 kilo ground pork
05. kilo ground beef
1 onion, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
0.5 cup, peas, corn, and carrots medley, defrosted (optional)
1 pack of mashed potatoes
Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions

  1. Set your stovetop to medium-high, and place two tablespoons of oil in a large pan. Brown pork and beef in the pan.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and soy sauce. Stir-fry until meat is almost cooked. Add vegetable medley and sauté until meat is fully cooked.
  3. Prepare instant mashed potatoes according to instructions.
  4. Put the cooked meat in a serving dish (drain extra oil, if you have any). Create a layer of mashed potatoes atop the meat. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Chinese-Style Chicken and Pork Adobo

Oh, adobo. Filipino families across the world have such fond memories of you! And depending on the region, we will have different versions of adobo. My mother, who comes from Iloilo, makes her adobo dry, with mountains of garlic, crisp and crunchy and flavourful. My wife, who grew up in a Filipino-Chinese household, knows adobo for its salty-sour soy-based sauce and hard-boiled eggs.

For this particular blog, we whipped up the latter.

Ingredients

  • Half a kilo of pork belly, cut into bite-size pieces (approximately an inch wide per piece)
  • Half a kilo of chicken pieces, preferably drumsticks or wings
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • At least four cloves of garlic, chopped or just smashed (we like the skin on)
  • Five tablespoons soy sauce
  • Five bay leaves
  • Two tablespoons brown sugar
  • Six hard boiled eggs
  • Two cups water, or to preference

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick over medium high heat. Add chicken pieces, and cook until lightly brown. Add pork cubes and brown sugar, then sauté for another five minutes or so, until meat is cooked.
  2. Add soy sauce, bay leaves, and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium strength, and simmer until meat is tender, about 45 minutes. Add water if levels of sauce get low.
  3. About 15 minutes in, in a separate pot, put six eggs and fill with water until eggs are submerged. Add a teaspoon of salt, and bring water to boil. Once water boils, remove from heat and let eggs stay in water about ten minutes. Peel.
  4. When meat is tender, add hard boiled eggs to adobo. Simmer for about two more minutes, gently stirring, and transfer to a large bowl. Serve with piping hot rice.

“Jollibee Night” at Lolo and Lola

Last night, I took the family to Lolo and Lola, a popular Filipino restaurant here in Canberra. It was “Jollibee Night” for us, and the owners were serving up their spin on some of Jollibee’s most-loved classics, including Chickenjoy and Burger Steak.

It was the first time for my wife and me to take our kids, and we were concerned they wouldn’t appreciate this Fil-Aussie take on their favourite foods. But our fears were completely unfounded, because they enjoyed it immensely!

The regular-sized order of “Burger Steak” featured three large patties of delicious Australian beef cooked in a rich, thick mushroom sauce. Served with shallots atop the dish, Lolo and Lola‘s Burger Steak was a big hit with Nathan, who wolfed down two of the three patties.

This Canberra Filipino restaurant did its best to replicate the famous Chickenjoy fried chicken. The flavour was quite similar, not exactly the same, but very good. The regular-sized order had about eight drumsticks, of which about half were taken by Nicola, can you imagine?

Finally, a trip to Lolo and Lola wouldn’t be complete without their signature crispy bagnet. What makes theirs different from pretty much any other bagnet I’ve had is the brilliant skin, which expands to chicharon-size proportions. Crispy and delicious, this is always the highlight of our trips to this Filipino restaurant in Canberra.

The total meal cost us less than AUD60, not too shabby for a family of four, with several leftovers for takeaway. We’ve always enjoyed our time at Lolo and Lola’s, and highly recommend them for anyone in Canberra looking for a taste of Filipino cuisine at its homiest and most delicious.

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Lolo and Lola is located at 3 Watson Place, Watson ACT 2602. They don’t accept bookings, lol.

Kid-friendly tuna salad sushi

For my son’s lunch the other, I made tuna salad sushi. It was so easy to make, and a joy to watch him devour! LOL

Step 1. Prepare the sushi rice. Cook a cup of uncooked rice according to instructions. (I prefer one cup of uncooked rice to two cups of water.) While the rice is cooking, dissolve a tablespoon of sugar and a dash of salt in a third-cup of rice vinegar. Once the rice is cooked, transfer to a large bowl, and stir the vinegar into the rice until fully combined.

Step 2. Prepare the other ingredients. Combine canned tuna and mayonnaise to taste. Other ingredients in this sushi are shredded imitation crabsticks, basil leaves, chopped cucumbers, and cheese slices, cut into strips. Also, in a ramekin, combine soy sauce and a small amount of prepared wasabi paste, for dipping afterward.

Step 3. Assemble the sushi. On top of a sushi rolling mat (you can see it under the plate in the picture), lay a sheet of nori (Japanese seaweed). Imagine dividing your nori into three horizontal rectangles, and spread a thin layer of rice over the lower two-thirds. At the bottom of the nori, working your way up, layer the ingredients in a horizontal pattern. (I did mine: basil, tuna, cucumber, crabsticks, cheese.)

Step 4. Roll with it! Using the mat, start to roll the nori upwards, moving the mat underneath so it doesn’t fold with the sushi.

Step 5. Nomnom time! Dip in the soy-wasabi and enjoy!

Caprese salad hors d’oeuvres

The other day, I saw this beautiful picture from Jeremiah Bishop, and y’all, I was trigged.

I love me any good tomato dish, and the fresher the dish, the deeper the love.

I’d seen caprese salad work before, but the mozzarella that Jeremiah put atop his salad was ridiculous.

So I said to myself, I wanna make that.

Problem was, I didn’t have any large tomatoes. (As of this blog, though, Caths and I got some truss tomatoes, and I am STOKED.) All I had on the countertop where we store our veggies in winter was a box of cherry tomatoes.

So inspiration struck. I’ma make myself some hors d’oeuvres as a snack. Monica Geller and the French call ’em “amuse bouche,” which roughly translates “amuses the mouth,” into and trust me, my palate was tickled.

So what went into this caprese salad?

Cherry tomatoes, salami, feta, and capers!

That simple! Chopped up the tomatoes, layered the salami, feta, and capers, and topped with with buds of thyme. I rather liked it!

Honey Lemon Ginger Chicken Tenders

My children are currently with my in-laws for the next few weeks because their summer vacation has started. While I will miss them, of course, the good news is that I get to control what I eat and do over the next four weeks. I’ll still see them every weekend, though, and I chat with my wife daily.

Sepanx is real.

Meanwhile, I’m finishing the meat in the refrigerator, then stocking up on luscious fruits and vegetables for the next month. I’m so excited, fam!

Tonight, my friends from the office will be taking me out for a goodbye dinner, so all I had to take care of was breakfast and lunch. For lunch, I used The Recipe Critic‘s brilliant Honey Lemon Ginger Chicken Tenders recipe, and turned it up a notch with a lot more garlic! I prepared this with some steamed buttered cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots. Overall, a great dish!

Ingredients
  • 2 boneless chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon rice bran oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg’s apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Secret coconut aminos (soy sauce alternative)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, sauté olive oil, minced garlic, and ginger for about two minutes.
  2. Add honey, lemon juice, lemon zest, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, and cornstarch and bring to a boil.
  3. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and add to a medium skillet. Cook about 4-5 minutes until no longer pink in center and the outside is starting to brown.
  4. Add the sauce to the chicken and toss to coat.
  5. Serve with buttered vegetables.

Honey Butter Almonds

Two weeks ago, I got hold of these incredible wasabi almonds from Tom’s Farm. They were delicious, absolutely rocked my world.

“So,” I told myself, “you’ve gotta make these bad boys!”

So I went out and bought almonds from Santi’s. The wasabi almonds I had from Tom’s Farm had a nice faint dose of sweetness, which tells me  and was ready to go.

I just had one problem.

Ready-to-eat wasabi powder is impossible to come by without ordering online. The wasabi powder that’s available in the grocery stores is a powder designed to become wasabi paste, ideal for dipping sauces. The wasabi powder I wanted, like Tom’s Farm, should be spicy from the get-go, rather like wasabi French fry seasoning.

So I shifted to another option: honey butter almonds!

I took a cup and a half of roasted almonds and cooked them for about five minutes in a skillet over low to medium heat with three tablespoons of butter, three tablespoons of honey, and three tablespoons of white sugar. I also put in a half teaspoon of cinnamon.

After I had cooked the almonds in the butter mixture, I removed the almonds and laid them on wax paper to cool. After about 30 minutes, I transferred them to a zip-lock bag where I cracked them loose from each other.

The final step was to put some powdered sugar into the bag, then shake it to distribute the sugar. I stored the almonds in a Lock N’ Lock Twist container.

They were delicious and not too sweet, contrary to what we’d think with all the ingredients we’d just cooked them in. LOL