Ever since Jon and I moved to our new place, the absolute biggest responsibility we’ve felt was having to think about and prepare our own meals. We don’t always have lots of time nor energy to come home and prepare a meal and sometimes end up buying takeout instead. We’ve since been loyal customers of foodpanda.com.
As a result of this, I’ve come to immensely appreciate simple and delicious recipes, such as bibimbap! The best part about bibimbap is that you can put anything you want in it and after making this, I’ve come to realise that what makes bibimbap the dish it is, is the sauce. Essentially, you have a rice bowl of ingredients and once you mix it with bibimbap sauce, you get bibimbap! Am I over simplifying this?
If you have limited time and are not doing any advanced preparation like me, I suggest preparing this in the following order:
cook rice – rice typically takes the longest to cook so you would want to do this first.
marinate meat – the meat should be marinated for as long as possible so you would want to do this next and cook it last.
make bibimbap sauce – this needn’t be warmed so it doesn’t matter if it is made early on
prep all vegetables – wash, slice, chop, etc
sauté vegetables – hopefully the vegetables will still be warm when you’re ready to serve but even if it is not, it is generally fine as the steaming rice would be enough to warm the vegetables up.
cook egg(s) – this should ideally be done together with the meat so that it’ll be warm when served. It also cannot be microwaved as you risk overcooking the yolk.
sauté meat – hopefully by this time, the meat would have marinated long enough.
As I had some thinly sliced pork collar on hand, I marinated the pork using this bulgogi recipe from Two Red Bowls. Although I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand, it did not stop me from continuing with the marinade and basically just omitted what I didn’t have and replaced it with what I did have – for most cooking recipes, you really don’t need to have every single ingredient on hand to make it work! I didn’t have a pear so I replaced it with half a yellow onion for some fragrance and sweetness. I also omitted the green onion as I didn’t have any on hand.
Let me just say that this marinade was so so delicious! I could totally do without the bibimbap sauce to flavour the dish as the meat was so flavourful already. Two Red Bowls suggest that you marinate it for at least an hour and I’m sure that would just make it even better but because I didn’t have time, I only marinated it for twenty minutes and it still tasted great.
The bibimbap sauce is a breeze to make and all you need to do is to stir everything together. I followed the bibimbap sauce recipe closely from Two Red Bowls and the taste brought me right back to college days, where I would have a stone pot bibimbap for lunch during winter. Yes, it was that good :)
To prep your vegetables, chop all your vegetables into matchsticks. You can do a variety of vegetables like zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, bean sprouts, seaweed, cucumbers or even mushrooms. You basically put whichever vegetables you like!
In terms of preparation, some vegetables are better cooked while others are better raw. You would want to lightly sauté zucchini, carrots, bean sprouts and mushrooms by adding a splash of oil and seasoning it lightly with some salt. Bell peppers can be either sautéed or eaten raw, depending on how you like it, while having cucumbers and seaweed raw would give your bibimbap a nice contrasting crunchy texture.
To cook a “crunchy” sunny side up egg, and by that I mean a sunny side up egg that is nice and brown at the bottom with crispy edges, heat 1.5 tbsp of oil in a small skillet on high. I usually crack my egg into a bowl first so I don’t have to worry about egg shells and oil splattering on my hand. When oil is hot, quickly pour the egg into the oil and let it fry. The whites will bubble and thats exactly what you want! Fry until the whites are cooked, bottom of the egg is brown and crispy, but yolk still runny.
Spoon your steaming hot rice into a bowl, top with all the vegetables and meat you’ve prepared, and top with egg, or maybe two eggs :P
This post reflects my true opinion. It is not an advertorial.
This topic is so unrelated to my blog but it’s too good not to share.
Do you have a love-hate relationship with your makeup remover? Because I do.
I love my makeup remover because it removes my makeup. But that’s about it. I hate it for so many other reasons. It’s hard to bring for travels and has leaked multiple times. It makes my face oily, which means that I only remove my makeup at the end of the day in the shower and if I decide to exercise or take a nap mid-day, well, I do it with my makeup on. And if I have to remove my makeup mid day, it means that I mess up the sink and clothes I’m wearing because I seem to have never mastered my “hand-cup”.
I’m so blessed I still have okay to good skin because with how long I leave my makeup on everyday and with all that exercise with makeup on, I seriously don’t deserve it.
I first read about the makeup eraser from a friend’s (from the U.S.) Facebook post and decided to check it out. The idea of being able to remove makeup with just a piece of cloth and water was just absolutely MINDBLOWING.
I couldn’t stop researching about it once I understood its purpose because…it wasn’t just about how much money I would save from all that makeup cleanser I would be buying but…it was the fact that I could now easily remove my makeup before I exercise without messing the whole toilet, I could now easily remove makeup as soon as I came home, I could now bring my “makeup remover” with me without having to worry that an oily accident would happen in my bag, and my “makeup remover” would never ever run out.
I was skeptical at first and googled about it. There are tons of videos of people who have done reviews of this and it is crazy!! It actually does work! And it does work because I tried it! The first time I used it, I couldn’t believe my eyes! The best part is, when you’re ready to wash the towel, just throw it in the laundry with all your other clothes and it is completely clean when it’s done. I even wash it with Jon’s super-white work clothes and never had an issue with my makeup staining other clothes. Really, it’s that amazing!
The only downside? You must have a washing machine as it doesn’t wash completely by hand. Depending on how much makeup you wear, you might have to wash it every 3-5 days as the towel is not that large (although I find it’s size handy).
The makeup eraser is readily available in the U.S. on Amazon. For those of you in Singapore, it is not as readily available in Singapore and some websites sell it for crazy expensive but you can get it from Herbal Pharm for $30 – that’s where I got mine!
If you’re still not convinced after reading this post, please youtube “makeup eraser” and if you’re still not convinced, we need to chat, pronto!
Never in my life did I think that I would have such a dreamy wedding.
And by the grace of God for the perfect weather, Jon, family and friends, the Seattle wedding was nothing short of perfect.
Wedding photography was one of the most important aspects for us and we took quite a long time to find the perfect wedding photographer. Jon and I knew that we were not the most photogenic couple and knew that right from the start we would need to find a wedding photographer that we would be able to connect with. We needed chemistry.
We met Ali Mae on skype for the first time and sparks flew. We knew that she was the one. The next time we met, we were in Seattle for the pre-wedding photoshoot.
And guess what! We got Dubs, the University of Washington mascot! Yes yes yes, it’s the real dog, not just any husky. I mean it, the real Dubs!
We got permission to shoot in Suzzallo library too!
The pre-wedding shots were a breeze and the energy that Ali has…incredible. I felt so tired but she never seemed the least bit tired! I was terribly nervous the day before the photoshoot, not knowing what to expect, but Ali made everything feel comfortable, good and natural.
In Singapore, it is quite common to have friends (some have a whole entourage) help you for the photoshoot. Apparently, it’s not so common in the U.S. but I’m so blessed to have these two by my side :)
The actual wedding day went on auto-pilot mode. The setup at home was gorgeous, the groom and groomsmen looked perfectly coordinated, the church was beautiful, the weather was perfect, everyone dressed to the nines, the bridesmaids and groomsmen were the best group ever, the dinner venue was stunning, Steve Amerson’s voice was divine and I didn’t misplace my speech. We couldn’t have hoped for more.
I don’t like being the center of attention but on that day, I just felt like I was among close friends and family having a dinner party.
I wrote my speech on the plane. Jon was asleep, the plane was dark but inspiration kept flowing, as did my tears. Of course, I couldn’t help my tears on that day either.
I pondered for a long while about this and decided to post my speech here. It’s too precious to lose because I meant every word.
“Jon and I are infinitely blessed to have you all here today, especially those who have flown in for the wedding.
First and foremost, I would like to thank my bridesmaids.
To Jane, my baby sister with whom I spent most of my child and teenage-hood with, with me playing on the piano, she dancing, we choreographing our own dances, our fake cooking escapades, singing marathons, piano duets and all the other nights we lay in our beds discussing secrets we agreed would stay between our four walls. I’ll definitely miss you when Jon and I move to our own place.
To Sara and Sheryl. Thank you for being the best colleagues anyone could have, continuously watching my back and coaching me in work and in life. I still remember the times when we were colleagues, how we met every morning at Starbucks without fail, starting each of our days just right, with endless laughter, or endless comfort, it any one of use needed it. You both have been the best pillars at work anyone could ever have and now that you’ve both moved on to a different company, we have progressed to become the best pillars for life!
To Sharon. Thank you for being such a great roommate in freshman year. I always reminisce the times we studied so hard together in our dorm room, applied and got into the Foster School of Business together, and most importantly, how sometimes our work discussions would turn into discussions of life, until today.
To Ashley. Thank you for sharing the joys of the Matsumoto cookie, the best chocolate chip cookie Jon and I ever had. Jon and I absolutely can’t stop thinking about it, up till today! Thank you for all the times you always agreed to let me copy your school homework. I always remember the time when we went to Disneyland together and you and your family shared your valuable Disneyland knowledge with us, and the time you drove us to the airport when Jon and I flew back to Singapore for good. We had our last meal together with you.
(And yes! Ashley brought bags of freshly baked Matsumoto cookies the day of the wedding! It was such a sweet surprise :))
And lastly, to Jamie. Thank you for being my Maid of Honor and as Roy (Jon’s best man) puts it, my “bridesmaid’s boss”! I’m so glad we stayed close friends after all this while and I’m so thankful in our (more like mine) ineptitude in math that brought us together in math tuition class. I still remember the time you got your mom to drive you to my house on my birthday and days before our A levels to personally wish me happy birthday with a handmade card, which I proudly displayed through my college days. You have been a true friend!
And to my parents. Dad, you may not be here with us but I know you are continually watching over us. Thank you for imparting all your words of wisdom and thank you for teaching me that it doesn’t mater what others perceive of us, but most importantly, how we perceive ourselves, and knowing that we’re always doing the right thing.
To my mom. Thank you for being the best mom and for being there for me and making yourself available whenever I needed your comfort. Thank you for always encouraging me to do what I love to do, as long as I worked hard at it. You probably don’t remember but I always remember the time you told me to do something major by myself and I said to you, “how can you trust that I can do something like this by myself?” and you said “well, I’ve spent all my life teaching and guiding you. You’re 16 now, and I trust that you can do things on your own.” At that moment, I remember thinking to myself – that is the kind of mother I want to be to my children in the future.
To my siblings, Jessica, Julian and Jane and to their other halves, Donny and Michelle. Thank you for being the amazing and fun siblings you all have always been. I always look forward to the time you all come back to Singapore and make the house so noisy. I always remember feeling luckier than all my other friends who had fewer siblings than I did because of all the fun and laughter they would have missed out.
To my new parents. Thank you for raising Jon to be the man that he is today, as well as for your generosity and kindness in accepting me to be part of your family. I’m very grateful for all that you have done for me to this day and I look forward to all the time that we will spend together in the days to come.
And finally, to my husband. Thank you for your unwavering love all through these years and for letting me experience how my first love can and did eventually become my true love. Thank you for always being the selfless one – the one to give up the only chicken wing if that’s what’s left, the one to give up the better half of the bed always, and the one to give up the best part of the cornetto ice cream. That’s when I know you truly did love me…just joking :) But really, I do know and believe deep down in my heart that you always have me as your number one priority. Thank you for planning this beautiful and perfect wedding for me and for doing the bulk of the planning. As your wife, I promise to always be there for you to share your joy, and especially your burden. I’m so proud of the memories we’ve forged together but I’m certain that I’ll be prouder of the future we’ll create together. “
I didn’t mention the TAOs in my speech since Jon did in his. But I want to specially mention them here. They were the backbone to planning the wedding and their constant support through the wedding preparation was what made us know that we would be able to pull this off. They arranged for our marriage license, went venue and church hunting with us, went for food tasting, arranged for the dress to be steamed and ironed, previewed our first dance days before the wedding day, and gave a speech. Thank you both so much, as always.
I am not a dancer and I don’t really like to dance but I did. We jumped and skipped and hopped and twirled. We were so hot and sweaty from the jumping I had to tell the staff to switch off the heater. High heel shoes were kicked off, ties were used as dance props, jackets were hung up. We moved to the grass so that our feet wouldn’t hurt so much. We lost all the calories we ate the entire dinner. I heard the bridal party went for Dick’s burger after that ;P
At this point, most of our friends were either drunk or high. That’s the best part about not drinking – I was so sober I could see them all drunk. As we were leaving, most of them had come to hug Jon and I, all sweaty, proudly exclaiming to the moon, “this is the BEST wedding ever!”
Of course, Jon and I agreed. We didn’t want it to end either.
I came across this recipe for hokkaido milk bread a while ago. I glanced by immediately, not paying much attention. Frankly, it was because I was intimidated by it. I didn’t know if I would be able to achieve the cloud-like texture of the bread.
On a separate occasion, as I was browsing through Two Red Bowls, I came across the recipe again and realised that it was from the same author as the one on Food52. I have a habit of simply looking through a blog’s recipe index and I would have glossed over this one like I did at Food52, except that I explicitly told myself that I should learn to venture out of my comfort zone, culinary-wise, and open every link. Yes, I’m a little extreme like that.
After doing a little reading, I learnt that the way to make the bread so wonderfully fluffy is using the tangzhong method. Tangzhong, meaning “soup” in mandarin, is essentially an Asian roux to make breads lighter, fluffier and have a longer shelf life.
Because there was some technique in this, I had to try it. I bought the ingredients during lunchtime and got my colleagues to help me carry groceries back to the office (if you’re reading, thank you!!) and started making it that night.
I used this recipe from Food52 that was slightly adapted from this recipe from Christine’s Recipes. I was intimidated by the version posted by Christine’s Recipes as she used a bread machine to make it and since I wasn’t experienced enough making bread and don’t know what different I would need to do if I was doing it by hand, I decided to follow Food52’s more closely as Two Red Bowls did it by hand.
As suggested by the recipe, I made the tangzhong first and I suggest reading Christine’s Recipe’s for this. Essentially, you want to put in your 6 tbsp of water and 2 tbsp of bread flour into a relatively small pan before switching on the flame, use a whisk to whisk it all up, then switch on the flame. Also, it takes about one minute to come together so you got to watch it really closely! I was too impatient the first time and did it in too big a pan (first two pictures). It came together in seconds and was pretty sure it was overdone so I redid it.
add six tablespoons of water to the pan
add 2 tablespoons of bread flour to the pan
whisk the flour and water together
whisk on medium – high heat
whisking continuously until roux thickens and lines are seen
spoon to a bowl and cover with cling wrap touching the roux
(My camera ran out of battery during the kneading phase. Sorry about the lack of pictures!)
Fast forwarding to the kneading part. The dough was indeed pretty sticky as mentioned in the recipe but it wasn’t impossible to work with. I simply dusted my hands with flour, and not on the dough since there’s a special mention not to add more than 1 tbsp of flour. I dusted my hands with flour a couple of times and that was all it took for the dough to come together nicely. It was still slightly sticky but definitely workable.
Adding the first tablespoon of butter was still pretty easy, kneading-wise. The dough was more wet but it still came together quite well. The second tablespoon of butter made things pretty messy. The dough was really wet, sticky and quite hard to control but after about 3-5 minutes, the dough seemed to magically absorb the butter and the dough came together again. I kept sniggering to myself because the recipe mentioned that kneading the dough was “oddly satisfying” and I couldn’t help but agree! I really didn’t want to stop kneading because it was so fun! At the end of it, the dough was really smooth and pliable. It was already 11.30pm when I completed this step so I opted for the refrigeration method. In any case, I’ve seen on countless websites advocating for refrigeration proofing so I’m sure this would work!
I left the dough in the fridge for about 20 hours and I was really nervous on the way home from work because…what if the dough didn’t rise at all?! Thankfully, it did rise noticeably, about 1.75x. The dough felt a little dry at first but felt okay after kneading it a couple of times before dividing the dough.
I realized that the recipe didn’t say anything about flouring the work surface at this point. I tried doing without flouring and the dough was sticking to the work surface too much. Similar to what I had done above, I simply floured the work surface sparingly and a little on my rolling pin, never putting any flour on the dough directly. The dough was pretty hard to roll out into an oval as it kept fighting back. The trick here is persistence and not too much flour so that dough would be able to grip onto your work surface. It will eventually work out.
place dough on your work surface
knead it for 1-2 minutes
divide the dough into 4 parts
lightly flour your work surface
roll out each ball of dough into an oval
fold it into thirds and roll it again
roll it out into a long oval again
roll the dough from one end to the other
this is how the rolled dough looks like
put the rolled dough in a parchment lined loaf tin
If you want your “mountains” to look even, you might want to weigh your dough and divide it by four, before rolling it out. I didn’t and didn’t mind it looking uneven – they looked quite cute!
During the second proofing, the dough rose really well. I did the finger test, brushed the top with egg wash and a splash of milk and shoved it into the oven.
I set my camera timer to take a picture every twenty seconds and seeing the bread’s transformation made me feel so proud!
Although the recipe says to bake it for about 30 minutes, my bread turned brown pretty quickly, at about the 20 minute mark. I didn’t want it to be burnt on top so I decided to open the oven to check. Although the top already felt hollow at 10 minutes more to go, I was afraid to take it out and risk the middle not sufficiently cooked and decided to check it using the toothpick test. Good thing I checked because the toothpick came out a little gooey. I left it for another 5 minutes and took it out at the 25 minute mark.
I’m so so so so impressed with this recipe because the bread came out extremely fluffy and had the cotton floss texture I was looking for. The bread originally had an egg-y smell (which I don’t fancy), perhaps because I put too much egg wash, but this quickly went away as the bread cooled down. It was an absolute breeze removing the bread from the loaf pan and from the parchment. The bread tasted wonderfully soft, and I especially like the crust. I would imagine this would go so lovely with a good french butter. I brought the whole loaf to work the next day and my colleagues and I enjoyed the bread with soft boiled eggs. My workplace doesn’t have a front-door toaster and warmed it in the microwave instead and this worked great!
I can’t believe it’s been seven months since I last posted.
Back in February, wedding preparation was picking up quickly and I couldn’t help but feel a little too overwhelmed juggling so many things at once – work, wedding prep, moving into a new place, Jon, Joy, etc. Blogging is extremely time consuming (salute to all the successful bloggers out there!) and decided that it was time to let this go for awhile.
The wedding in Singapore was over in July and since then, Jon and I have been completely focused on moving to our new house. We also got a new kitten, June! (more about June next time :) )
During this time, I also pondered quite a bit on what I wanted to do with this blog. While I have never had a lack of what I wanted to accomplish in terms of crafting, baking or cooking, I have always been quite unsure of the direction of this blog. Specifically, what am I to this blog?
This is when it dawned on me.
I am not a pastry chef – I can’t recite to you right now what the difference between instant yeast and active dry yeast is, nor can I recite to you what the substitution for self raising flour is if you only had all purpose flour on hand. I even had to google and youtube how to use acetate sheets.
I am not a chef – I have never actually deep fried anything on my own (mainly because it stinks and I’ve a phobia of being burnt) nor do I like to touch fish (am I the only one who thinks that fish feels exactly like a human corpse?!). I feel guilty de-shelling shrimps and purposely don’t look at their eyes when doing so and haven’t yet mustered enough courage to clean a chicken if the head’s still on it.
Fundamentally, I’m not a chef because I can look into my fridge and think of what to cook but in no way will it be anything fancy nor complex. I have never been to culinary school and don’t intend to. Don’t tell me you want nasi biryani and expect me to magically come up with it without the internet because…I realized that what I absolutely love to do is spend 75% of my waking hours on the internet scouring through recipes and the more detailed the recipe, the longer the recipe, the more I want to try it!
On the other hand, I realize that there’s a million people who are afraid to try these recipes. It’s a common story…
“I looked online, found this uhhh-mazing recipe. The photos look sooooo gooood, it looks sooooo easy but it turned out like crap! How is it even possible for a recipe for soup for two people only have 1 cup of liquid?!”
Yes, I’ve been there. I’ve seen a recipe for making caramel, asking you to touch the caramel. (I mean, any person with common sense would know that it would be too hot to touch.) Anyway, my point is…there are tons of people out there who spend 70% of their waking hours like me looking at these gorgeous photos of food but how many of them actually try it? More importantly, how many of these recipes are actually doable and good?
I strongly believe that…you don’t need to have a culinary cert/ degree to cook. You don’t even need to have much experience! You just need a good recipe :)
I feel really guilty whenever I make something nice and people say…you’re such a good chef/ cook/ baker! I almost always shiver inside when people say that because…what does that mean?! I mean…all I did was to follow instructions in the recipe.
Long story short, I will try those recipes for you and tell you if they’re good or not. The purpose of my blog will be to share an experience – an experience using a recipe. What I thought could be done better and what I thought should not be done at all.
My main aim? To give you the confidence to try it as well :)