Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cooking Lab - Light & Tangy Crab Salad Dip

This is such a versatile great salad and we used to have it at every extended family lunch. Seafood highlighter is not real crab - it just have the crab taste. 

(c) GMV -Got My Vote!

I always remember this dish fondly. Perhaps its because of the tangy, refreshing taste, or I was really tricked into believing that its real crab :) 

This is very versatile salad and you can enjoy it on its own, or use it as a sandwich filling or make California sushi roll with it. 

I am using the seafood highlighter in this salad dip, but, of course you can use real crab meat - and that would taste so gourmet.

If you are not a fan of crab, you can replace it with tuna, prawn or chicken. 


- 250g seafood highlighter (imitation crab meat)
- 50g chopped parsley 
- 3 tablespoon thousand island dressing
- 1/2 lemon
- 10g finely diced French onion
- 10g finely diced apple
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and black pepper


1. Separate the pieces of crab (seafood highlighter) by hand. Save 30g of whole pieces of crab aside.

2. Boil a pot of water and cook the seafood highligher for 3 minutes.

3. Drain and set aside to cool.

4. Once cooled, place the seafood highlighter, thousand island salad dressing ,finely chopped parsley, apple and onion in the blender.

Note: Celery usually go nicely in this salad. I've use apple instead because I am just not a big fan of celery. 

5. Season with black pepper.

6. Half way through the blending, add in the lemon juice and olive oil.

7. Continue blending until you achieve a nice fine coarse texture.

8. Season with salt.

9. Scoop the crab dip from the blender and set in the fridge over 1 hour before serving.

10. In a fry pan, shallow pan fry the ribboned seafood highlighter.

11. Season with salt and place on top of the crab dip salad.

12. Serve the salad dip with fresh avocado slices and lemon wedges.

It is the guilt-free kind of salad!~ 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cooking Lab - Potato Gnocchi with Aubergine & Tomato Ricotta Sauce (義大利馬鈴薯麵疙瘩)

When we dined out at Red Zucchini Italian Restaurant, I really liked a comfort food dish called Gnocchi al Norma

It was a simple vegetarian classic potato gnocchi served with baked ricotta, basil, Napolitana sauce and topped with eggplants. 

在外吃到這種像麻糬的義大利麵。今晚就來試試吧! 原來還滿簡單煮的。吃起來很Q軟彈牙。加入茄子,蕃茄醬,很快就可以上桌吃飯囉~

(c) GMV - Got My Vote!

Tonight, I am recreating something similar and I've also topped my gnoochi with some shaved ham :) 

This is an ultimate comfort food dish. 


- 1 packet of potato gnocchi 
- 200g fresh baby rocket salad 
-150g shaved ham 
-1 large eggplant 
-1 brown onion 
-1 jar of ricotta sauce 
-1 clove of garlic 
-4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
-2 tablespoon fresh Parmesan cheese 
-3 tomato 
-Salt and black pepper to season


1. Cook potato gnocchi in boiling salt water according to packet instruction.

2. Lightly spray with olive oil to prevent stickiness.

3. Cut eggplant into large bite-size chunks.

4. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium high heat.

5. Deep fry until the eggplant turn golden on all sides.

6. Remove and blot off the excessive oil on paper towel.

7. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a frypan over medium heat and crisp up the shaved ham. Remove.

8. In the same frypan, fry the garlic and onion until fragrant.

9. Add in the fried eggplant and tomato.
10. Pour in the ricotta sauce (or tomato puree paste) and stir to evenly cover all ingredients.

11. Add the gnocchi into the pan.

12. Reduce heat to medium.

13. Evenly coat the gnocchi in the rich tomato sauce.

14. Add in the rocket leave (basil would work as well).

15. Let the sauce simmer to intensify the flavour and colour.

16. Divide the gnocchi into 6 equal servings.

(Gnocchi are very filling, so reduce the serving portion)  

17. Top with shaved ham and fresh parmesan cheese shaves.

18. Season with black pepper.

19. Garnish with baby rocket and herbs.

A really good hearty pasta dish and it tastes even better when reheated the next day.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cooking Lab - Mediterranean Tabouli Parsley Salad with Cous Cous (中東的異國風味沙拉)

This is a refreshing salad for Summer days and it tastes great on its own or as the perfect side dish with grilled meat. 


(c) GMV - Got My Vote!

This is a great Mediterranean-style salad in warm Spring days. It is a variation from the Lebanese tabouli salad. I use cous cous instead of bulgur, and the result is more fulfilling. 


- 1 bunch of fresh parsley 
- 1/2 cup of cous cous 
- 1/2 french onion 
- 2 truss tomato 
- 1 lemon 
- Sea salt and pepper 
- 1 packet of garlic crouton crackers


1. Fill 3/4 cup of water in a sauce pan. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and bring it to boil.

2. Stir in the cous cous and turn off the heat.

3. Cover the sauce pan and let it stand for 3 minutes.

4. Fluffy the cous cous with a fork and set aside to cool.

5. Place 3/4 bunch of parsley in the food processor.

6. Add in the 1 tablespoon olive oil, diced french onion, 1/2 of lemon juice and blend coarsely together.

7. Place the mixture in a large salad bowl. Add in the diced tomato and the rest of the olive oil.

8. Add the cooled cous cous into the salad. Toss to mix well.

9. Topped with remaining hand-chopped parsley on top.

10. Drizzle the rest of the lemon juice on top.

11. Season with sea salt and black pepper.

12. Serve with garlic crouton crackers for added texture.

It is a very easy salad to prepare and taste is so good in sandwiches or alongside some heavy grilled meat. 

It is just a great all-rounder salad. 

Cooking Lab - Super Easy Honey Hummus Dip

Hummus never caught my attention. It is kind of hard to compete with fancy gourmet dips with its plain cream texture. For $4.99 a tub, my money usually goes to the exotic capsicum pesto dip, roasted fig with macadamia dip or caviar dip.

....until I see my colleague having it everyday and never seems to get tired of it.
She tested various brand of dips - but they are all hummus, nothing else.

So I gave Hummus a chance and I must say it was not an earth-shattering taste experience. It tasted nice but that's it. It does not leave a memorable imprint.

So my dear friends take me to an out-of-town Turkish restaurant where they serve charcoal chicken and lamb kebabs. The combination of hummus and grilled meat instantly struck me. My gosh, so this is how you eat hummus. It is... actually quite good.

(c) GMV - Got My Vote!

Hummus is a chick-pea based dip and is a staple meze in the Middle Eastern.

A perfect replacement for butter in a wrap or sandwich.

It tastes delicious with crisps or crackers. 

My quirky favourite: Hummus dip with Kettle's chili potato chips~  
- 1 can of chickpea
- 2 tablespoon of cream fraiche
-2 tablespoon honey
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon paprika fries sprinkle 
- 1 packet garlic nibble crackers


1. Rinse chickpea under cold running water. Drain
2. Add chickpea, cream fraiche, crushed garlic, honey, salt and lemon juice in the food processor.
3. Blend and slowly add in the olive oil in.
4. Continuing blending until the mixture become a smooth creamy paste.
5. Scoop the hummus dip into a serving dish.
6. Drizzle with some more olive oil on top.
7. Season with more paprika fries salt.
8. Garnish with a few roasted chickpeas and herbs.
9. Enjoy with garlic flavoured crackers. 

This honeyed hummus has a sweeter taste and will make you look at hummus differently.

BTW: It is ridiculously easy and cheap to make. All it takes is 3 minutes in the blender. 
No cooking involved.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cooking Lab - Mixed Rice with Oriental Mustard and Pork Ribs

This is one flavoursome one-pot mixed rice. 

It is a family favourite and we can eat bowls and bowls of this. It is a simple meal but packed with nutrient values. 

(c) GMV - Got My Vote!

"Gai Choy" is the common name for this Oriental Mustard Green and it is packed with iron, calcium, and low in kilojoules. It is readily available at Harris Farm or other grocery stores.


- 3 cups of Jasmine Rice 
- 250g pork riblet 
- 100g fresh shiitake mushroom 
- 1 bunch of mustard greens (aka gai-choy) 
- 100g ginger 
- 4 tablespoon soy sauce 
- 2 tablespoon cooking wine 
- 1 tablespoon salt 
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar 
- 1 teaspoon chicken powder 
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper 
- 3 tablespoon of cooking oil 
- 10g loose corn kernel 


1. Wash and cleaned the Gai Choy. Remove the stem and cut into bite size.

2. Boil the vegetable in water for 3-5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3. In the meantime, soak 3 cups of rice in water for at least 30 minutes.

4. Add oil to a wok over medium-high heat. Fry the pork riblets, ginger slices and the shiitake mushrooms until golden.

5. Add in sugar, cooking wine and soy sauce and let the sauce simmer.

6. Season with white pepper and a dash of chicken powder.

7. Remove the pork riblets and leave the sauce in the wok.

8. Add in the pre-soaked rice into the wok.

9. Reduce the heat to low and let the rice absorb all the sauce.

10. Add the pork riblets and shiitake mushrooms back into the wok.

11. Combine well and ensure all ingredients are evenly coated with flavors.
12. Add in the pre-boiled gai-choy vegetable.

13. Try not to dis-integrate the heart of gai-choy.

14. Stir and combine everything together.

15. The rice is not cooked-through at this point.

16. Transfer the mixed rice into a steamer/rice-cooker.

17. Add 3 cups of water and let it cook/steam for 30 minutes.

18. Continue to cook until the rice is cooked through.

19. Stir to mix well. Cover and let it sit for another 5-10 minutes before serving.

It is now ready to be served! It smells delicious!~~

20. Plate the mixed rice on a large serving plate and top with pork riblets and shiitake mushrooms.

21. Serve with a gai-choy heart by its side.

22. Garnish with chili oil and loose corn kernels.

It is so yum. I don't even need side-dishes to go with this mixed rice. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cooking Lab - Alpha-Style Scallop Moussaka with Smoked Cod Pate and Tomato Salsa

After a series of fine dining, Sydney's Alpha Restaurant's scallop moussaka left an impression on me. So over the weekend, I decided to make a similar version based on the photo and my taste memory with a few modifications. 

In this recipe, I am using my own concoction - smoked cod pate instead of taramasalata. If you want to save time, you can use a pre made deli dip. 

(c) GMV - Got My Vote!


- 1 large round eggplant 
- 12 large scallops 
- 2 ripe truss tomatoes 
- 200g 
smoked cod pate
- 10g fresh dill 
- 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil 
- 30g dukkah 
- Pink salt and black pepper to season 


1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Wash and slice the eggplants in round disks and pat dry.

3. Spray ample olive oil on the eggplant slices.

4. Bake in the oven until golden.

5. Blot off excess oil on paper towel and keep warm.

6. Sear the scallops quickly in a hot fry-pan. Spray with a little olive oil on top.

7. Season with salt and pepper.

8. In the meantime, dice the truss tomatoes.

9. Toss in the fresh dill and drizzle with some balsamic vinegar on top.

10. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
To assemble: 

12. Spread an ample amount of smoked cod pate on a slice of eggplant.

13. Place 3 seared scallops on the smoked cod pate.

14. Then top with another eggplant slice like an sandwich.

15. Top with a spoonful of tomato salsa.

16. Garnish with fresh dill and dukkah dusts.

17. Serve immediately.

It is a beautiful modern Greek Moussaka based on Alpha's signature dish. It tastes rich, creamy and so easy to make. For those who are not residing in Sydney, this is one dish you should give it a go. 

It is a perfect appetizer with BBQ and looks gorgeous at the same time. 

Original Peter Conistis's signature recipe for Scallop Moussaka can be found  Here.