Melbourne, the food capital of Australia, where multi-cultural cuisines reign supreme. You've arrived at a food blog where good food has no boundaries - be it restaurants, cafes, takeaway joints and any other eating places. Recipes to try out with successes and failures blogged to no shame. The focus is on authentic Asian (Singapore) food found right here in the heart of Melbourne. Just remember, the best dining experience could surprise your tastebuds when you least expect it. Get ready to be surprised on my food journey. Bon Appétit!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mee Dee Thai Review

Mee Dee Thai
1/1-3 St Johns Ave
Springvale, VIC 3171 
(03) 9546 0599

I suppose one of the cuisines most represented in every suburb yet grossly maligned by 99% of restaurant owners in Melbourne is Thai. Anyone who has been to Thailand or even Singapore/Malaysia serving authentic Thai cuisine will know what I mean. 

I cringe at the number of times those who have not sampled real Thai cuisine and thinks Chicken Tonight Stir Fry is spot-on Asian food, told me they luuuurve Thai food and this so-so joint round the corner from their house does the best Thai. 

By and large, as people become more well-travelled and tastebuds develop a more discerning, sophisticated and adventurous palette, the recognition of good food is acknowledged and more widely appreciated. A certain food show has probably helped as well.

But back to Thai. Long have visitors to Thailand lamented the sad state of Thai food in Melbourne. It has taken a while, but apparently there is a place within Little Thailand of Springvale called Mee Dee Thai that promises to deliver authentic Thai food. 

I was hesitant going to Springvale at night but the lure of promising Thai food was too much to bear, so I braved the cold elements armed with S, who took my paranoia in stride as usual, and made our way there.
A glam restaurant it's not, but again if it was, I would have questioned it's authenticity on that alone. A humble shop front with fluorescent lightboxes announcing its presence, and a modest interior that wouldn't be out of place in a Bangkok coffeeshop, our expectations were further buoyed with a Cash Only sign most common at Asian food joints. 

The menu was interesting with a good variety. I so wanted to try the fried catfish salad and the whole deep-fried fish with fish sauce or even the boat noodles and their herbal duck noodle soup but was too stuffed to go the whole hog.  Click the pics to enlarge. Prices were alright for some items.

The tom yum comes in 2 versions - with coconut milk and without (which was what we ordered). The ones served in Thailand come clear not red like what we have here and they pack a fiery punch. S, who have not had the experience of real Thai food, wrote it off as just plain broth. But I knew better and was waiting for him to take his first taste and the "pow" to hit. He took the sip and eyes widened, inhaling with his mouth to let some cool air through. 

Yup, this is the real deal.

 I'm sure many of you are most likely thinking Or Luak to this dish and you are not far wrong. It's served in Thailand with mussels which is what they do here. Over in Thailand they also have an oyster version, but I'm beyond caring at this stage, I'll take Or Luak where I can take it. There's an addition of fresh bean sprouts though, which I really do not mind. The freshness of the sprouts cut through the greasiness of the omelette. Like Or Luak, it's fried with the starchy gooey mix of tapioca and rice flour. The let-down was the chilli sauce. But we improvised and dipped it in the spicy fish sauce of our salad dish and it was just YUM.

 It was a toss-up between the beef or the calamari salad, but hey, seeing as it's a seafood theme thus far, we went with calamari. Not a bad choice. The calamari was tender and the gaps between the cuts soaked up the spicy, tangy fish sauce.

Although the portions were by no means large, they were generous enough. We left that night with cauldrons of fire in the pits of our stomachs but happy enough. That said, authentic does not mean the best. Would this place hold up against many of the best food vendors in Bangkok? Maybe not. But it would be nothing out of the ordinary against all the normal food vendors there and this is good enough for me.

P.S: We avoid trying out new places with friends who are not as adventurous or culinary-obsessed as we are. I can imagine complaints about the drab decor and other whiny/snooty comments ruining our experiences. So if I were to try out my food journey in new exciting places with only S for company, I'm more than content.

Chicken in Rosemary Verjuice Stock, Apricot and Honey

There's something about winter that makes one feel like hearty and rustic home-cooked meals. Using what we have at home and inspired by the ever-affable Maggie Beer at the Good Food and Wine Show, here is my version of a chill-out/warm-up dinner.

Here is what we need:

  • 4 Chicken Maryland (divided into thighs and drumsticks to make 8 pieces)
  • Premium quality chicken stock
  • 500ml Verjuice
  • 2 or 3 large red onions (diced)
  • Handful of dried apricots (blitzed in the chopper)
  • 5 carrots (peeled, halved and cut into large pieces)
  • 8 baby carisma potatoes
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Honey
  • Salt

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees. Prep, chop, mince everything in advance so you can just add them as you cook.

Place a roasting tray on the stovetop and drizzle with EVOO and a little bit of butter for flavour. You can do with just plain oil if you like. Add diced onions. Saute till it softens.

Add apricots, rosemary and thyme to the onions and stir fry lightly for about 3 min. The amount of herbs is entirely up to your preference. I like mine strong so I use about 4-5 tablespoons of rosemary and about 1-2 tablespoons of thyme.

Now add the verjuice. Remember to use your wooden spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan (provided you have not burnt the onions previously) and mix the rest of the ingredients with the verjuice for about 2 min. Then add the chicken stock with salt and honey.

Add the chicken pieces, carrots and potatoes when the stock starts to simmer and boil a little, preferably with skin facing up. Brush a bit of honey on top of the chicken and place the whole roasting tray in the oven for 30-40 min.

Turn the oven off and let it sit in the oven for another 10 min. Serve.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Heinz Easy Squeeze and Stir Satchel Soup for Winter

Feeling the biting chill this winter and too lazy to make your own soup? Well Heinz has kindly sent us a few satchels of squeeze like ketchup tomato soup to try.

Convenient and with a tangy tomato flavour, it obviously does not pack a punch in taste and portion but on the up side it's low in calories so it's not going to add to the blubber I'm already accumulating this season.