javanese chicken porridge [bubur ayam semarang]

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Have you heard of Food52? You must have, but I’ll tell you about it anyway. It’s a community-oriented online recipe database where regular homecooks get to share their treasured recipes all in one place. I love it because more often than not, I get inspired by what other homecooks are making for dinner. Not to mention the fun of finding “hidden gems” within the site. Every week (or is it every other week?), Food52 hosts a recipe contest, with a different theme each time. The winning recipe gets to be featured on the site and its yearly book. Although I’ve been a Food52 member since 2011 (and have all-to-often resorted to the site in a last-minute attempt to make dinner), I have never participated in any of their contests, nor have I published any recipe whatsoever on their site. I blame this on early motherhood phase of too-tired-and-bleary-eyed-to-actually-do-anything-else-on-my-sparetime-but-sleep.

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spanish mackerel in spicy tomato sauce

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Looking for a simple week-night dinner with a Vietnamese tang? Look no further! This dish is so simple yet flavourful and a cinch to make.

Where I live, Spanish Mackerel is called Batang or Tenggiri. It’s part of the mackerel family (duh!) but not as oily and a lot bigger. I once went sailing in the West Sumatran sea and my husband caught a 1.5m tenggiri weighing around 25kg. It was amazing to watch. The fish was so huge that it took 4 men to lift it off the water. Four (!) can you imagine? We immediately made sashimi out of it and it tasted even more amazing. Unlike salmon, it tasted clean and not fatty at all. It even had a citrusy kind of tang. The cook also made fish steaks for us later on that night and although it was really good, I wish he had known of this recipe when he made it.

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imperial rolls

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WHOA!! Did these babies just come out of my kitchen? Soft, juicy, umami meat filling, in a crispy, golden rice paper. Wrapped in a blanket of lettuce and herbs then dipped into a sweet, savoury dipping sauce. It’s an explosion of flavour and texture in your mouth I tell you. And you know you’ve hit a home run when:

– your significant other is more than willing to go down to the grocery shop to pick up extra lettuce and herbs after just one bite of the supreme roll

– 20 rolls that could easily feed 4 to 6 people were gobbled down in a flash by two very greedy hungry people (ahem)

– there is no sound to be heard around the table except for the crackling sound of rice paper when one bites into one

– the look of pure bliss can still be seen in your significant other’s face (complete with dipping sauce still dripping off his chin) 5 minutes after dinner has finished

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