On Change: Katsu-Don


As a child I didn’t like change. A fairly serious, determined young thing, I was very black and white in my thinking – sometimes literally. I remember being given an elephant to colour in at nursery school and whilst the other children coloured their elephants pink, red, yellow, blue or a combination of the four (shock, horror), I took a lead pencil and very carefully shaded in my elephant grey (all within the lines, of course). When asked if I wanted another colour I remember telling my teacher rather firmly and with some derision – she should’ve known this for herself, after all – “no. Elephants are grey.”

When I was due to start a new school year, every year without fail, I would start to feel an overwhelming nausea as I approached the school gates with my mother. There was nothing wrong with me but nerves would take their toll every time – fear about who would be my new classmates, about who would be my new teacher, whether or not they’d like me, where my classroom would be, why it had to be different every year, why it had to change. Of course, as soon as I entered the building and had read my name on the list of classes whilst clutching my mother’s hand tightly, I’d merrily skip off to class, all anxieties forgotten and ready to start anew, barely even remembering to wave goodbye to my bemused parent.

I’m somewhat more relaxed now (though if you give me a picture of an elephant I’ll still colour it in grey) and I’ve realised – somewhat reluctantly – that change is inevitable. Don’t fight it, just embrace it – it’ll make your life a whole lot easier.


On Being Thrifty: Fried Polenta Triangles


I will be the first to admit that though following your dreams is an amazing thing to do, dreams don’t necessarily pay bills. Being freelance is hard but this is the life I chose (much to the despair of my parents) and with the good you take the bad. The exhilaration of writing up a review about a meal greatly enjoyed, say about Noma, is often counteracted with being faced with the harsh reality of some frozen peas and a stock cube for dinner.

Okay, maybe this is an exaggeration, this is me we’re talking about, after all – I always have some meat in the freezer and some arborio rice or some form of starch in the pantry; but the fact is that when you live in the city and your money comes in dribs and drabs, it can be incredibly demoralising. There have been days when I’ve opened the fridge to see only a tiny knob of butter and some old eggs, deciding that maybe that evening I’d rather just not eat.

The term ‘thrifty’ had a bit of a negative connotation attached to it when I was a child. It was grouped along with ‘stingy’ or ‘miserly’, conjuring up images of Ebeneezer-Scrooge-like characters; but these days I’ve learnt the value of thrift, particularly when it comes to store cupboard favourites being spread across many meals. So let’s talk about money, saving and let’s talk about these fried polenta triangles.


You Bring Me Flowers In The Pouring Rain


Blossoms, originally uploaded by jaxies.

So before David left for Canada he was growing some wonderful vegetables in his garden in London, including some beautiful little zucchini flowers. I had great plans for these flowers, I was going to stuff them, batter them, fry them, bake them – you name it, I was going to do awesome stuff with them. However, David’s flowers got heavily infested with black fly and, sadly, then were unusable by me, so my plans were put on hold.

That is until a family friend, Dee, rocked up with a basket full of zucchini and pumpkin flowers for me. She has an allotment and grows vegetables in abundance, many of which end up being giant monstrosities that she then carts in a wheelbarrow to my mom’s church at Harvest time. I’ve never had much of a green thumb, so I think people who can grow amazing things like that are really rather remarkable. Or maybe it’s not so much that I don’t have much of a green thumb as never having really tried. Maybe that should be my project for next year – growing my own veggies. Anyway. Flowers. I was determined to do them justice. How do I do that? Deep-fry the heck out of them.




Tonkatsu, originally uploaded by jaxies.

So let’s get one thing straight: I am Chinese. I am not mixed, nor am I Filipina, Hawaiian, Japanese, Taiwanese, Malaysian, or any other brand of “Oriental”. I am full-blooded Chinese. My family are from Hong Kong. This is me.

However… I think I love Japanese food more than I love Chinese food. Sorry heritage. That’s just the way the panko crumbles.


Warning: Imminent Mouth Orgasm


Holy-Crap-These-Are-So-Good, originally uploaded by jaxies.

I’m pretty much a fan of all things fried. I say ‘pretty much’ because it doesn’t matter how you prepare ’em, I refuse to eat bugs of any kind or oysters. The former because the idea freaks me out, the latter because I hate the flavour of oysters. Ick. For a girl who eats everything my ‘no-can-do’ list is pretty short, but for anything else, I’ll do it. I’ve even been known to eat fish eyeballs and chicken’s feet are a regular on the menu when we go out for dim sum.

Anyway, we’re getting off-topic here. Fried food. Delicious, gorgeous, crunchy fried food. What’s not to love?

A while back I read on Chubby Hubby’s blog that he had found the most amazingly beautiful creamy crab croquettes so of course I bookmarked it immediately, earmarked for consumption. Then I forgot all about it. That is until the other day when I was browsing through my (many) food links and decided, heck, enough time had passed, it was now summer – I was ready to tackle the crab croquettes.

I adjusted the seasonings a little, adding a little chilli to the final mix, and although my first few were definitely a frying failure (burnt, burnt, underdone, underdone, underdone) after that I managed to get into the swing of things. I took one bite and despite the fact that the panko was a little too crispy (aka. burnt) my mouth literally exploded. Okay, not literally. That’d be ridiculous. But helloooo mouth orgasm. Holy majoly. My photos do NOT do it justice at all. It was amazing. It was all I could do to stop myself from eating all ten before Momma Lee got home. She took one bite and fell in love too, as did Brother and my bestie Jun (of the great brownie fail), whom I invited over for dinner (I made copious amounts of food that day). Also, apologies for not taking more photos, but as you can imagine these disappeared into our mouths so quickly there just simply wasn’t enough time.

If you try one recipe this week, make it this one. You won’t regret it. Just please use fresh crab meat – it makes all the difference. Om-nom-nom…