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Tuna cooked in Aromatics, a local fish soup from the sea gypsy culture in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

Cooking in Sabah: Two Healthy Sea Gypsy Recipes (Fish Soup & a Fish Salad)

Visiting Sabah, I was excited as always about the food and the peculiarities that would be offered by the region and the local cooking. Sabah is tucked away in Borneo, caressing the sea, but it has a lot of rainforest and cultivated land too. On the coast there are what are referred to locally as sea gypsies, living in wooden houses on stilts in the sea by the coast. Originating from Indonesia and the Philippines, they do have their own local food culture, and I found a chef who teaches it, Fortunato Lowel, at the Mango Garden Restaurant.

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Sabah Tea Plantation,  Malaysian Borneo

Visiting Sabah Green Tea Plantation & Facing My (Non Tea Related) Fears

The thoughts that go through your head when you are terrified of heights but doing something that might kill or cure you are overwhelming. When in Sabah, despite signs saying something like “just please don’t do this if you are afraid of heights, ok? OK?!”, I kept schtum and did a very high and very wobbly rainforest rope walk anyway. I have had a year of trying to conquer my fears (doing the worlds longest island to island zipline in Sabah was another one), and forced myself. Read More

Salt & Pepper Tofu Recipe

Salt & Pepper Tofu and Unplanned Meanderings on Existence

I woke this morning feeling so tired but quite chirpy. I want to start the week well. It could be that spring is coming and I can feel it in my bones, and see it in the sky. Maybe it is the lovely weekend that I just spent in Lapland, the people I met, and the huskies, reindeer and general gorgeousness. Lately, I am increasingly aware of time, how precious it is, and how much I want to do. Our lives are in our hands, right? It sounds so simple, but like all simple things, it can be difficult to realise and implement.

The last 18 months have presented many challenges and I have felt overwhelmed and swept away at times. My Dad passing away, of course, this takes time to absorb and heal. The mammoth project that Project: Bacon turned out to be (my bacon opus is nearly there now, I am very pleased to reveal), and my responsibilities to my wonderful backers has been a huge part of this. I feel each disappointment keenly as they wait and I am further delayed. Life can kick and tease but it can also take your hand and dance with you. I want to do more dancing, and in colour. Read More

Sambal Stingray in Sabah - don't miss it! Such a good dish.

The Street Food Markets of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

One of the joys of going to Sabah is exploring the food markets. Malaysian food culture is rich and diverse, and Sabah, tucked away on the island of Borneo, has a food heritage all of its own combined with Malaysian standards. Lots of native fish and meats are used, crocodile and stingray are probably some of the most unusual, but there is lots of beef and chicken, and more familiar fish like snapper and prawns. Read More

Buckwheat Pancakes with Plums, Almonds and Honey

Buckwheat Pancakes with Plums, Almonds and Honey

Is it too soon for another pancake recipe? No, it is Pancake Tuesday, right? Right. It also feels only right to share a recipe for those who can’t have gluten or dairy – this recipe is gluten free and that can be adapted to be dairy free.

These pancakes are made with buckwheat (as Breton crepes are), which despite its name is not a wheat, it is actually in the same family as rhubarb. I adore the flavour, deep and nutty, and the gently softened plums as a fresh plum compote, sweetened and sticky with honey, and toasted almonds provide syrupy sweetness and bite. I use milk, but substitutes work perfectly (I like almond milk for theses), and coconut oil is a perfect substitute for butter, or any vegetable oil,
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Pancakes with Chocolate Orange Chantilly & Oranges (In Partnership with BRITA)

This post is part of a sponsored series that I am working on with BRITA as part of their Better with BRITA campaign. I explored recipes that use BRITA filtered water as a key ingredient, in this instance a lovely water based chocolate ganache or chantilly.

We are all familiar with chocolate ganache, the cream and chocolate based gorgeousness that forms the basis of truffles, amongst other things. Did you ever think about making a ganache with water? Hervé This, a physical chemist with a passion for food did in his book Molecular Gastronomy, Exploring the Science of Flavour. He named it chocolate chantilly, but it is equally a ganache or a mousse. Magic!

Adding water to chocolate can make it seize and make it very unpleasant, however, This discovered a technique where you can emulsify chocolate with water, and shared the quantities that can make this work. Now, many chocolatiers use this technique to make water ganaches and vegan chocolate truffles.

I love a bit of kitchen geekery, and so I enjoyed played around with this. Using the correct quantities, a good chocolate rich with cocoa butter emulsified with water (cheap chocolate with vegetable oils will not work here), reveals a chocolate chantilly that is smooth and rich and a little light. Very healthy too, good dark chocolate is a delicious and healthy thing for your body, adding water instead of cream lightens the calorie load and gives a more direct chocolate flavour hit.

Expecting it to be complicated and requiring a lot of attention, I was thrilled to discover that this is speedy and very easy, and it sets quickly too (ten minutes versus at least an hour for the cream ganache equivalent), if you want it to be a chocolate mousse or to make truffles. This mentions that orange juice works well in addition with the water, and so I made a spritely chocolate orange chantilly, which was perfect with my pancakes.

It is Pancake Tuesday tomorrow, so lets do this! Read More