AFC GRILLED : Chef Sean Connolly

An evening of good food.

Lap Cheong Watermelon Bites

An asian take on watermelon bites!

Baked Fish with Kiwi in Sweet and Sour Sauce

Add a twist to sweet and sour fish!

Semperit Pandan Cookies

Cute cookies for the festive season!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Oven-Baked Maltose Pork Ribs


Maltose. Sticky, syrupy and it looks like honey.

It was an old store. Sacks of rice were piled high on one side. The floor was plain grey cement that had gone dark from years of use. Curiosity brought me to a corner where the shelves held containers and plastic bags of food items that were rarely seen in modern supermarkets. A small layer of dust coated the top. It was here that I stumbled across this little tub of sticky sweetness that was maltose.

I had no idea what it was for, but that's why a smartphone is always a handy thing to have around. Meat roasts came up plenty. When husband noticed several 'char siew ' recipes displayed, he promptly insisted that we should get this.

I reached out for one. He grabbed a second one and justified the purchase by saying that we may not be passing through this neighbourhood again for some time. For me, this enthusiasm translates to, "Let's have maltose-roasted meat every week! "

A couple of days of 'research' later, I narrowed my choices down to this recipe by WokkingMum and adapted it to suit my palate. It turned out really yummy.

Oven-Baked Maltose Pork Ribs

Oven-Baked Maltose Pork Ribs

- 315g pork soft ribs
- 1 tbsp chinese cooking wine
- 1 tbsp chili sauce (sweetish spicy, like Kimball Chilli Sauce)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce (sweetish, salty)
- 1 tbsp maltose (I used a solid small spoon to twirl it out)
- ¼ cup hot water

1) Mix maltose and hot water together. Stir until maltose syrup is easy to handle. Let it cool.

2) Mix pork ribs with cooking wine, chilli sauce, soy sauce and maltose (from 1) together. Cover and leave it to marinate for two hours in the refrigerator (don't freeze it).

2) Take it out from the fridge and stir it up. Line baking tray with foil. Line the pork ribs in a row (meaty part down) and drizzle some of the marinade over. Keep aside a little marinade for later.

3) Bake at 180C in a pre-heated oven for about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

At the 30th minute, it begins to sizzle. Flip the pork over on the 40th minute and baste with juices from the tray and brush on the remaining marinade. Bake for another 30 minutes or until nicely browned.

4) Remove from oven. Some gravy would have accumulated in the baking tray. Plate the pork ribs. Drizzle or brush the gravy over.

1) Slice pork ribs.
2) Add soy sauce, chilli sauce and cooking wine.
3) Pour maltose in.
4) Marinate for 2 hours.

1) Line the pork ribs in a baking tray. Drizzle marinade over.
2) Bake at 180C.
3) Turn ribs over.
4) Bake until brown and beautiful.

Taste-wise, this is what I would describe as something pleasantly sweet and savoury. It's not spicy even though I added chilli sauce into the mix because I used a mild variety.

Oven-Baked Maltose Pork Ribs

Best enjoyed with fluffy white rice or on its own.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cabbage And Carrot Curry


The turmeric way.

Turmeric is a rhizome that looks like a ginger. They are, in fact, from the same family. It has a deep orange-yellow colour. I use gloves when working with fresh turmeric because it leaves a stain on the hands.

Why am I talking about turmeric today? I lean towards curry powder, blended red chilli and coriander powder when making curry paste. This is one version of curry that I wanted to explore. I went all turmeric this time. Turmeric powder, that is.

Cabbage and carrot? That's what I have left in the fridge. I've made it a habit to clear off whatever I have on hand. I was really tempted to add prawns into this dish, but reassured myself, "Next time."

Cabbage And Carrot Curry

It turned out quite yummy and now, I have a new recipe under my belt!

This is how I did it. I would describe this as mildly sour, savory curry. Best paired with white rice.

Cabbage And Carrot Curry
- 1 large carrot (cut into chunks)
- 2 medium potatoes (cut into chunks)
- ½ large onion (chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 1 to 2 dried asam keping depending how sour you want this
(aka asam gelugor, sometimes labelled 'dried tamarind slices')
- 1½ cup sliced cabbage
- ¼ cup chopped fresh coriander
- 1 cup chicken stock or use a pinch of chicken stock granules
- 4 to 6 cups water
- 6 dried cloves

Add some water, mix together into a wet paste:
- 3 tbsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp curry powder

- 1½ tbsp dried red chili paste
- Cooking oil
- Salt to taste

1) Heat cooking oil in pan. Saute onion and garlic for a minute or so.
2) Add cloves. Add turmeric/curry paste. Stir-fry until golden brown.
3) Add chili paste and tamarind slices. Mix well.
4) Then, stir in carrots, potatoes and fresh coriander. Mix to coat all the ingredients.
5) Add chicken stock (or granules) along with 4 cups water. Lower the heat and cook covered until carrots and potatoes are tender enough to bite into.
6) Remove cover. Remove tamarind slices (the curry should taste sour enough by now).
7) Add more water (only if there's not enough gravy). Stir the cabbage in and season with salt. Increase the heat and cook uncovered until cabbage is done.

From top-left, clockwise: Stir-fry all the ingredients except the cabbage. Add chicken stock.
Add water and cook covered. Finally, add the cabbage.

Cabbage And Carrot Curry

The one thing I love about home cooking is that it's a very flexible affair. I dish out whatever I want depending on the ingredients I have with me at the time of cooking, making many variations to recipes along the way.

What do you love about home cooking?


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Braised Soy Sauce Chicken With Cabbage


Cooking was the last thing I looked forward to in my younger days, more so in the period when I held the typical 9am to 6pm office job. It always seemed tedious and I never felt it was therapeutic.  I often ate out and if lethargy kicked in, it would easily be a night of the enchanting instant noodles.

But I didn't want to be that person who ate unhealthily all the time! So, I sucked in thoughts that swayed me away from this good purpose of eating better and started thinking of ways to make cooking a one-pot affair. One pot, because this saves me from having to do several dishes to go with rice. The other plus point? I wouldn't have to wash too many plates and pans in the process.

With meat and vegetables all in, you could say that this was also a bid to keep up with the issue of a 'balanced diet'.

Aah, but those were the days. I enjoy cooking tremendously now. It's opened up my creative side and I don't even scrunch my nose up if I have to whip up a meal for twenty. I look forward to the challenge!

This soy sauce dish is one of those one-pot meals that has coloured the early stages of my cooking journey.

Braised Soy Sauce Chicken With Cabbage Garnished with Spring Onion

Braised soy sauce chicken with vegetables is a regular feature on our dinner table. This is mainly because we're a soy-sauce loving family. We love it to bits.

Here's how I usually go about cooking soy sauce chicken. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.

Braised Soy Sauce Chicken With Cabbage

- 6 medium chicken pieces
- 1 medium potato (cubed or cut into small chunks)
- 1 medium onion (sliced)
- 10 baby carrots (halved)
- 1 cup sliced cabbage
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce or to taste (sweetish-salty kind)
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- Pinch of white pepper
- 2 to 2½ cups water
- ½ to 1 tsp tapioca flour or cornflour
(mix a bit of water in, to form a thin milky paste)
- Cooking oil


1) Heat oil in pan. Saute the onions.
2) Add potatoes, carrots and chicken. Stir for a minute.
3) Add light and dark soy sauce. Season with white pepper. Stir to coat all the ingredients.
4) Add water. Simmer covered, until all the ingredients are cooked.
5) Remove the cover and add the cabbage. Stir until cooked.
6) Finally, stir in tapioca flour to thicken the sauce.

1) Prepare the ingredients.
2) Saute the onions and add the vegetables, leaving the cabbage for last.
3) Add the chicken.
4) Then, add the seasoning and simmer!

Braised Soy Sauce Chicken With Cabbage, Carrots and Potatoes

Best eaten with fluffy white rice.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Key Lime Chicken and Lotus Root Soup (Slow Cooker)


A bowl of chicken soup, chopped bird's eye chili in soy sauce and rice qualifies as a yummy and complete meal for me.

I'm always excited about using the slow cooker. It's the third most used cooking appliance in my home after the rice cooker! What's first? The electric multi-cooker. I'm rarely on the gas stove although it was where I really learned how to cook. The multi-cooker is just too convenient to use - it's equipped with a steamer top too.

Key Lime Chicken and Lotus Root Soup (Slow Cooker)

Back to the recipe. Taste-wise, there is nothing sourish about this soup. It's a nice blend of savoury lime flavour and chicken juice. The meat is tender.

Here's how I did it.

Key Lime Chicken and Lotus Root Soup (Slow Cooker)
- ½ chicken
- 1 large onion (cut into segments)
- 2 key limes (halved, seeds removed)
- 1 fist-sized lotus root (sliced thinly)
- Salt to taste (Just under ¼ tsp was enough for me)
- 2 to 3 cups water (hot)
- Fresh coriander for garnishing

1) Rub salt onto chicken. Leave aside.
2) Pour 1 cup water into the slow cooker. Switch cooker on and set on high. Add in onions and lotus root. Spread around.
3) Place chicken on top of onions and lotus root.
4) Squeeze key lime juice over and sprinkle a bit of salt in.
5) Add more water around the sides.
6) Cook for about two and a half hours (cooking time may differ). Baste once after one and a half hours.
7) Serve with fresh coriander.

1) Place onions and lotus root slices into the slow cooker.
2) Place chicken on top, season and add more water.
3) Cooked, after two hours!

This Slow-Cooked Chicken needs fresh greens to liven it up!

Best eaten with rice, accompanied with bird's eye chili dipped in soy sauce. For greens, fresh coriander works for me. Serving with lettuce arranged on a deep plate with this hot soup poured over, is also a delicious way to go about it.

Tender Key Lime Chicken and Lotus Root Soup (Slow Cooker)


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