Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment in the Kitchen

Cooking should be a creative and fun experience. Once you have the basics down, don’t be afraid to experiment and come up with your own flavours. Just like other things, many dishes have been tried and done before. What makes them unique and original is how you interpret the dishes when you cook them. Of course there is nothing wrong with following recipes, but I think you’d find more joy in cooking if you add an extra pinch of something and the dish turns out BETTER than the recipe.

Batch 2 - Creamy Pumpkin Pasta_V2

Pumpkin Carbonara

My tip for you is that each dish is a component of these 5 flavours: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and spicy and it is how you mix them and how you balance these flavours that is the key. Start with what you know and try to mix one Asian ingredient with a western one. For example, I love using Japanese white miso in western sauces and marinades because white miso brings a unique salty taste to the dish as well as a subtle sweetness. I recently had a cooking class and taught a Grilled Fish Taco with White Miso Lime Dressing. Just because it is a “Mexican taco”, it doesn’t mean you have to stick to tomato salsa and guacamole. The dressing is easy to make and goes very well with seafood dishes, such as crab cakes, fish burger and anything deep-fried.

Experiment in the Kitchen - Fish Taco with Miso & Lime Dressing

Grilled Fish Taco with White Miso & Lime Dressing

This is just one of many examples of how you can slowly start experimenting with ingredients and flavours in your kitchen. Start out small and you will soon learn that the combinations are endless!

Batch 2 - Baked Snapper with Saffron and Mint

Baked Snapper with Saffron & Mint

Recipe:

White Miso & Lime Dressing 白麵豉青檸醬

100g Mayonnaise

30g white miso paste

juice and zest of 2 limes

1 clove garlic, finely minced

10ml rice wine vinegar

5ml mirin

salt and black pepper to taste

Japanese 7 Spice Powder (optional)

Directions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Taste as you go and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

 

For more cooking ideas, check out my Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Charmainecooks/

Cooking Videos:

Pumpkin Carbonara
Baked Snapper with Saffron & Mint

Being a Cooking Instructor

It was a lucky chance that I stumbled upon being a cooking instructor. I never dreamt of being able to teach people what I am passionate about. As someone who loves to cook and experiment in the kitchen, I always get requests from family and friends to cook them dinners or teach them how to make a dish or two for special occasions. I love sharing my creations, my cooking tips and knowledge with them. It is an extremely satisfying feeling if my food puts a smile on their faces and make them feel loved and cared for.

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When I tell my friends how to make certain dishes, I don’t think of it as teaching them, I think of it as offering a solution to their problems, sharing what I know to make their lives easier in the kitchen. Because for someone who seldom cooks, making dinner can be a daunting task. And I think this is my approach in being a cooking instructor as well, sharing what I know and making cooking fun and easy in the eyes of the students.

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I am grateful that I get to host a few cooking classes a month at the DayDayCook Concept Studio. You can always get a general idea of what a person is like by the way he/she cooks. Do they follow instructions exactly or are they more carefree? Are they organised or less so? Are they extremely focused or do they talk and share what they know with other students? These are all the things I get to observe during my classes and I love every single minute of it. I am very happy to have the chance to get to know these lovely students this way – in a fun and informal setting, over delicious food!

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My style of cooking is quite unstructured but I still have a basic framework in mind and I use this framework as the basis for all my classes. I think in terms of a 3 course meal, just like how Chinese families would go for “3 dishes 1 soup” style. Many of my classes will consist of a main course and paired with either an appetiser or a dessert. If the dishes are easy to make, I would demonstrate all 3 dishes. I also think about what ingredients are in season and include them into my recipes so that the students will be able to get the freshest of the produce.

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Chicken Roulade

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Seared Scallops with Mango Salsa

By structuring my classes this way, my students will have a collection of appetisers, main courses and desserts that they can mix and match when they cook at home. I think this is where creativity comes in for the students – it is seeing how each dish is unique yet being able to pair them with each other to make each cooking and dining experience different and special.

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Seafood Paella in the making

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Free-form Mixed Berries Pie

 

If you want to see what a cooking class is like at the Concept Studio, come join us on one of the weekends! shop.daydaycook.com

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My Top Five Chinese Home Cooked Dishes

 

I must admit, cooking Chinese food is not my forte. I love Chinese food but there was never any need for me to cook them as I get them every night from home either from my mom or at occasional times at my grandma’s. The times that I do cook more Asian influenced dishes are during special family celebrations, such as Chinese New Year.  Now that I live by myself, I want to create these Chinese home cooked dishes in my own kitchen. I want simple homey dishes with the familiar tastes that I grew up with. DayDayCook has answered my calls! Here are my top 5 Chinese dishes from DayDayCook that I absolutely loved to make when I want a nutritious and delicious Chinese home cooked dinner.

Red Date Braised Chicken with Chinese Xiao Shing Wine

Chicken Yellow Wine

http://www.daydaycook.com/daydaycook/hk/website/recipe/details.do?id=28251

This was one of the first recipes I followed from DayDayCook. I was having a girls’ dinner at my place and wanted to cook Chinese meal as a few of my girlfriends have not had a proper home cooked Chinese meal in awhile. This Red Date Braised Chicken with Yellow Wine is absolutely divine! Is simple to make and is extremely nourishing for women.

 

Ma Po Tofu

ma po tofu

http://www.daydaycook.com/daydaycook/hk/website/recipe/details.do?id=24401

I now understand why this is one of Norma’s favourite dish to make for Sam. Is simple, delicious and packed full of flavor!

 

Stir Fried Mung Beans

mung beans

http://www.daydaycook.com/daydaycook/hk/website/recipe/details.do?id=2053

I have always love to eat Mung Beans. This dish reminds me of one of the dishes from my hometown, Hoikken Pancakes (福建薄餅), where the filling is filled with various shredded vegetables, dried bean curd and such. This is a short cut version of it, with fewer ingredients but still the same great taste. If there is any leftovers, I love to eat it as a salad the next day.

 

Steamed Pork Patties with Pumpkin Shio Koji

minced pork

http://www.daydaycook.com/daydaycook/hk/website/recipe/details.do?id=38470

DayDayCook’s website is the place where I’ve first heard of “Shio Koji’. When this ingredient was featured as their weekly theme, I was very curious about this ingredient. Shio Koji is very popular in Japan and has many health benefits. It is an all natural seasoning made from fermenting salt and water mixture. I love the taste of Shio Koji. It is less salty and brings a slight sweetness to the dish. This steamed pork dish is one of my favourite out of the 7 under the Shio Koji theme and it has definitely replaced my grandma’s version in my kitchen. (Sorry Grams)!

 

Pumpkin and Clams Congee

pumpkin congee

http://www.daydaycook.com/daydaycook/hk/website/recipe/details.do?id=176991

I was never a congee person as I have this idea that only sick people eat congee as most congees are quite bland. When I do make congee, I’d make it plain or just add a bit of salted egg to it. But after I saw this Pumpkin and Clams Congee, my perception changed. Mixing in pumpkin and clams in to the congee is such a great idea. It instantly elevated the congee, giving it a subtle sweetness and is very nutritious too! I love it!

Photos and recipes from DayDayCook website: http://www.daydaycook.com