Bird’s Nest Jelly

OK, so it’s not the real thing. But it’s cheap and it’s tasty. Have you tried the bottled winter melon tea at the supermarkets? Well, this “bird’s nest” jelly tastes just like it.

Making this is really simple, but like all products from China, the instructions are not very clear. It says that you dissolve one cube of the stuff in 300-500cc of water. The trouble is, the one cube they’re referring to looks like 2 cubes stuck together.

This cube is made up of 2 cubes stuck together

There’s too much water here. This is considered 1 cube and not 2 even though it may look like 2 stuck together.

finished jelly, a bit soft and not sweet enough

Use less water, more cubes for a firmer, tastier jelly.

Fisherman’s Stew

Got this recipe from a Farang friend residing in Thailand. Takes a lot of trouble to get the ingredients together, but it’s well worth it.

Seafood Hot Pot

This is a melting pot of classic fisherman’s stews: cioppino, bouillabaisse, gumbo, jambalaya, and paella — all opportunistic dishes born from the unpredictability of the day’s catch. My whole life I’ve fished in camp houses up and down the Gulf Coast, and every day our focus is to catch that night’s dinner. A dish like this works well no matter what fish you get — in the wild or at your seafood market. It’s a one-pot dish that works year-round.

The Base
• 6 tbsp unsalted butter
• 3 tbsp tomato paste
• 3/4 lb fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick medaillons
Mix 1:
• 1/2 head celery, minced
• 1 medium onion, minced
• 1 small fennel bulb, diced
• 5 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 Thai (red) chiles, minced
Mix 2:
• 1 tsp black pepper
• 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 tsp coarse salt
Mix 3:
• 1/2 cup white wine
• 1/2 cup carrot juice
Mix 4:
• 14.5-oz can whole tomatoes drained of juices
• 4 cups clam juice
• 2 cups chicken stock
• large bunch thyme, tied with kitchen twine

In a large pot over medium heat, melt 4 tbsp butter until foamy. Stir in mixes 1 and 2, cooking until vegetables are translucent with slightly browned edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. Halfway through the cooking process, add remaining 2 tbsp butter.

Lower heat and stir in tomato paste. Mix well and cook until paste begins to brown (not burn), about 5 minutes. Add mix 3 and stir to loosen browned bits stuck to bottom of pot. Simmer to reduce by half, about 6 minutes. Stir in mix 4, plus potatoes, and raise heat to bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Turn off heat and cover.

The Seafood
• Coarse salt
• Cayenne pepper
• 4 tbsp olive oil
• 8 clams in shells, scrubbed
• 8 mussels in shells, scrubbed and debearded
• 8 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 8 large sea scallops
• 8 oz (skinless) snapper
• or other white fish
• 4 shallots, minced
• 1 cup dry vermouth

Season the seafood with salt and cayenne. In a jumbo pasta pot or dutch oven (wide cooking surface, high sides), warm the olive oil. Add clams and mussels, sautéing about 11/2 minutes.
Add shrimp, scallops, fish, and shallots, cooking until opaque on one side, about 1 minute. (Don’t flip.) Add vermouth, cover, and let the mixture steam until seafood is cooked through, 90 seconds or so.
Add hot base and bring to low boil, simmering 11/2 minutes. Remove thyme and discard. Serves 4.

Chicken Rice at EAT

The laksa and fishball noodles at EAT are always good. I tried out the white chicken rice today and realised why it’s not popular. OK, to be fair, I must say that the chicken is passable, but the quantity is really miserable. The rice is too soft and apart from a bit of lemongrass, there is practically no taste or fragrance of authentic chicken rice. Sorry, no photo, but I guess everyone knows what chicken rice looks like.