Monday, March 16, 2015

Eating Fancy On A Budget: Salmon, Avocado & Cucumber Sushi Recipe

Love food, but on a budget? We're in the same boat, buddy.

When you're in Australia, you will come to realise that food here is darn expensive, in terms of eating out. So, being a student, you'd obviously need to find ways to budget your spending, and it's usually results in us having to prep our own meals on a daily basis. However, as weeks go by, you may get tired, and just want to rest a little... don't we all? Like c'mon manzz, I'm from Singapore, a total food paradise where food is available 24/7 - so the change is so darn drastic to be honest. XD

Well, I found that in SG, I crave for non-Chinese food every now and then, but the moment I started independence here in Brisbane, I just kept on cooking non-Western food HAHAHA! It's like as if my body just switched to another. :D

So here's the thing.

I love salmon. I adore sashimi even more! So, imagine how much I have to hold back every single time I walk past a sushi store here? Coz damn manzz, their rolls of sushi here all cost an average of $2.80 (AUD, mind you!) So, how??? MAKE YOUR OWN LAH. 

Contrary to what some people may think, Australia does have its fair share of Asian grocery marts, and although the ingredients cost more than what it would back home, you can find everything you need when you head to most of these stores. ^_^

Just before we get too carried away, here are a few Asian grocery marts I've been to, where I've found my treasure trove of Chinese goodies, and if you're living in Brisbane, do check it out!
  • Yuen's Market (Sunnybank & Fortitude Valley)
  • Sunlit Market (Westfield Garden City)
I've heard that in the CBD, Formosa Asian Mart is the place to go - especially if you're a member of QUTSSA! There's a 10% discount for us *yay* - I just haven't gone to visit it yet... maybe today after class? Lol I just so happen to have class in the city campus on Monday XD Oh, but Mean Beanz is calling out to me... *addicted to lattes omg*

Anyway, I do recommend these few, as they stock everything you ever need - they even sell whole fish! For those thinking of bringing spices into Aussie - please - save your luggage space. Enough said.

The only food product I brought from SG is Koka's purple wheat noodles; Chilli & Lime, Soy & Vinegar and Aglio Olio - WHICH YOU CANNOT FIND HERE. It's my secret stash HAHAHA. (Ok, maybe not so secret now LOL) Sorry ah, if anyone wants to kope any, unless you're my good friend - no can do. So if let's say there's anything to bring - BRING THIS. Because this creation is hands down my favourite instant mee. Muahahaha.

For today! I will be intro-ing you my latest success - Salmon, avocado & cucumber sushi rolls *waves pompoms in the air*

First off, I have to say that - there is no way in heck that you're gonna find sashimi on the shelves here, so over here, we do have to settle for second best - Smoked Salmon.

Sashimi lovers, DO NOT PANIC. 

I know that back in SG, usually smoked salmon turns out to be on the salty side - and I absolutely loathe those. But, safe to say, if you choose the right product in Woolworths/Coles, your smoked salmon should taste wonderful! In my honest opinion, the smoked salmon here tasted just like thin slices of sashimi which have been slightly grilled. The flavour is impeccable, and the salt level is nearly nonexistent - melikey! (Omg, let's just coin the term; Cherlyn Approves!)

  • 1 cup of sushi rice 
  • Sushi seasoning (Mizkan is the brand I use, but as long as the bottle has "sushi seasoning" on it, you're good to go!)
  • Seaweed (Try to get resealable packs, really makes one's life easier)
  • Bamboo rolling mat (Daiso has this everywhere!)
  • 1/4 of a whole cucumber (Cling wrap the remaining 3/4 and place in fridge)
  • 1 ripe avocado (Listen up, when I say ripe, it has GOT TO BE ripe - if not you will really be disappointed haha. The skin should be a very dark green, have a slightly "squishable" feel)
  • 1 pack of smoked salmon (It's really up to you how much you want to put in, so feel free to buy a bigger pack if you'd like more salmon in your sushi!)
  • Half a lemon (Will be helpful if you own a citrus squeezer)
  • RICE COOKER. (My friend, if you don't own a rice cooker - then um, sorry ah - I have always lived with intelligent rice cookers HAHAHA - boil it in a pot AT YOUR OWN RISK AH)

  1. Cook the sushi rice in the rice cooker. After adding water to the required level in your pot, put in 3 tablespoons of sushi seasoning. Select "Sticky" rice texture if that function is available. If not, fret not - cook as usual. 
  2. Now, get started on chopping up your avocado and cucumber! 
  3. Take out the smoked salmon, and tear it into generous shreds. (Come on, we're at home. No need for a knife to cut into equal strips - it's gonna look the same when rolled up anyway >v<)
  4. Squeeze half a lemon onto your sliced avocado, making sure each slice gets some. 
  5. When you rice is done, scoop it into a bowl and allow it to cool completely.

  1. Take out your bamboo rolling mat, and lay a piece of seaweed on it.
  2. Spread your rice out onto the seaweed, but leave at least 1cm from the ends. (I prefer to place my rice at the lower part of the seaweed, so that when I roll the sushi, it's easier - especially when you have so many ingredients)
  3. Place the smoked salmon onto the rice.
  4. Now, add 2-3 slices of avocado on top.
  5. Seeing where to best fit in, strategically place your cucumber slices onto the sushi pile (HAHAHA overloaded right)
  6. For the grand moment, you just roll, press (NOT SQUISH AH) - repeat this until you get it into a nice roll. One tip: using normal tap water and your best tool - your finger, wet the top of the seaweed, so that the roll will stick together with the seaweed. Works like magic.
  7. Looking good right? You're practically at the last step! Using a knife, cut the roll into half - and wala! You're ready to eat.
  8. Chill them in the fridge if you're having them for later!

It might take you a while during the try, but once you get the hang of it - you're gonna be trying out various sushi rolls yourself! ^_^ This portions out to about 10 mini rolls, should satisfy your sushi cravings for quite a while haha :D

Hoping it's Easy Peasy Japanese-y XDDD
Cherlyn Aurora xoxo

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Eggplant In Spicy Garlic Sauce Recipe - FOOLPROOF


During my 2.5 weeks of independence, I've cooked way more Chinese food than I've ever had in my entire existence :D But, one of my proudest achievements is definitely mastering this eggplant dish! If you love eggplant, you are going to absolutely fall head over heels for this deliciousness. :)



  • Eggplant (If it's the big round ones, one will suffice / if it's the long slender ones, roughly around 3 will be a good gauge)
  • A few stalks of chives / scallions, chopped up, separating the white & green parts (whatever length you want, the taste is awesome either way lol)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (Mince this with your knife)
  • 3 slices of ginger, julienned (Actually right, who got so much time lah, just slice the ginger into nice thin pieces then good to go!)
  • 3 tablespoons of oil (or yknow, just pour as and when you feel the REAL need to)
  • 1 tablespoon of Shao Hsing wine (Relax, it's a cooking wine, and due to the cooking process, there is absolutely zero alcohol taste in this)

Mix this in a small bowl before cooking, to save time

  • 1 tablespoon of spicy bean paste (dou ban la jiang)
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Shao Hsing wine
  • 1 teaspoon of fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar

  1. Wash them eggplants. If you've got the big round type, do soak the purple goodness in saltwater FIRST (roughly 10 minutes should do the trick). This is to soften the skin, and to get rid of "bitterness".
  2. Cut the ends off, then proceed to slice them into equal-sized pieces. FYI, if your slices turn out ugly, don't worry, whichever way you slice it, it will become the eggplant you love still. So, chill - coz your food guru here actually chopped it into thick non-conforming triangles HAHA.
  3. Now, with your wok on the stove, turn it on HIGH HEAT. Do not panic, nothing will splatter. Unless you do the unpardonable, which is to have water on the wok. Please, wipe it dry before attempting to cook the eggplant HAHA. 
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of oil into the wok. Swirl it around to have it evenly spread as a base.
  5. When you can see the oil start to bubble, add in half the batch of eggplant. We do this so you will have evenly cooked eggplant, otherwise there'll be too much in one wok.
  6. Fry the eggplant for roughly 5 minutes, using your spatula to flip them around to check on its doneness. Lower the heat if it cooks too fast. It should look brown, seared, but NOT black or burnt please. Also, during the time period, if you find that your eggplant does not seem to be evenly absorbed with the oil, do not hesitate to add more oil. 
  7. Remove the batch 1 of eggplant and set aside.
  8. Repeat the above steps with batch 2 of eggplants. Set aside when done.
  9. Now, in the same wok, pour in 1 tablespoon of oil.
  10. Add in ginger, garlic - on MEDIUM HIGH. After 1 minute, turn the heat back on HIGHIf you happen to have minced meat on hand, adding it in now is absolutely perfect - personal preferences apply.
  11. Using all the eggplant, add it back into the wok, with the combined sauce, along with the white part of the chives/scallion, as well as that last tablespoon of Shao Hsing wine.
  12. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, ensuring that everything is well-mixed.
  13. Put the green chives/scallions into the mix, stir-fry for another 30 seconds, and you are DONE!

Cherlyn Aurora xoxo