Clever Cooks, Footnote Frivolity***, Thrifty Asian

Leftovers – Mum’s way

Last weekend, my Aussie mother-in-law showed me her photos from her Vietnam trip. Amongst the scenery shots of Hoi An and Ha Long Bay were the photos of food. The food, she said, was lovely and healthy, though the soup that was brought out with each meal was ‘very bland’.

While the tour guides had been very careful to explain the stories behind the sights, they had not bothered to explain the method to Vietnamese dining. Soup is usually brought out in a large communal bowl. Instead of serving it at the start of the meal as an entree, it is poured over rice and served with a salty dish (i.e. stir fry). There is also a dipping bowl filled with fish sauce for the bland bit of tofu that you’ve fished out of your soup.

Explaining this to my mother-in-law made me reminisce over the family meals Mum cooks. Mum doesn’t reinvent leftovers like I do. Instead, she batch cooks her food and then dishes it out over several nights. Continue reading

Clever Cooks, Footnote Frivolity***, Thrifty Asian

Okonomiyaki: as you like it pancakes

Since it’s Lunar New Year Eve, I think a Thrifty Asian post is in order.

A few months ago, Cheap Geek and I honeymooned in Japan. Most of the trip was spent eating our way through Tokyo and Kyoto. We had the usual: sushi and sashimi at Tsukiji (the world’s largest fish market) and fancy s&*% overlooking the Shirakawa Canal in Gion. However, my favourite dish came from more humble establishments Continue reading

Clever Cooks, Gardening on a Budget, Thrifty Asian

The indestructible spring onion

spring onion5

Spring onions are hardy plants. Once established, they’re drought tolerant, snail resistant, and they grow back after a decent trim.

It always baffles me whenever I see spring onion seedlings at a nursery. Why do people pay money for seedlings when they can get spring onion plants for free? Whenever I bring home a bunch of spring onions from the grocer, the first thing I do is chop off the ends and use these to propagate new plants. Continue reading

Gardening on a Budget, Thrifty Asian

Striking betel leaf cuttings

It’s lunar new year this weekend and one of my favourite snacks to eat from the street-festival vendors is bò lá lốt, beef wrapped in betel leaves. I’ve recreated it at home, using Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen’s recipe (via Secrets of the Red Lantern). Nguyen and Jensen use pork mince and pork fat to enhance the flavour, but Luke Nguyen also has a pork-free version up on the SBS website.

Because betel leaf is a such rare commodity in Melbourne, I’ve struck my own with the stalks leftover from cooking. Continue reading