my journey to health and well being via exotic destinations

in which I practise my culinary skills


In an earlier post you will have seen my new wok; well, I realised that this was not good enough so went and bought a ceramic one with a lid. Thus prepared and armed with a local cookery book and the internet, I unleashed my inventiveness.

Meat is very expensive here, so I have concentrated on seafood and chicken dishes. Most Thai and Malaysian dishes have a curry paste as a base, and I ALWAYS make my own. Even local websites say ‘3 tbsp of red/green/chill paste’ and sometimes even ‘3 tbsp of tomato ketchup’. Such recipes are rejected.

5 star dishes

Beef rendang – cooked lovingly for over 4 hours after several hours of marinating the meat. Melt-in-your-mouth or what! Here with  Chinese broccoli.

Beef rendang

Beef rendang

Tom yam soup – it’s critical to make your own fish broth, out of the prawn shells and heads in this case. I also used oyster and shitake mushrooms, and local fish balls.

It's all tin the preparation - making ones own fish stock for tom yam

It’s all in the preparation – making my own fish stock for tom yam

Tom yam soup with prawns squid and fish balls

Tom yam soup with prawns, squid and fish balls

Thai red chicken curry; I used turmeric root as well as galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, tamarind,cumin, coriander, paprika, black pepper and, of course, coriander root; a little Thai basil and fresh coriander at the end. I like to add veg to a curry to create a one-pot meal. Yum! This is in fact adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe – the local ones were some of the worst offenders in off-the-shelf ingredients.

Red chicken curry with aubergine and green beans

Red chicken curry with aubergine and green beans

Four star dishes

Isaan stye grilled chicken and Nyonya-style bean curd salad, with bean sprouts and snow peas. The salad has a delicious roasted cashew nut and tamarind dressing, while the chicken is marinated in lemon grass, ginger and fish sauce. The bean curd is fried to a golden crisp on the outside and melts when you bite it. Marks lost for presentation, not taste: should have had the dressing on the side and then it wouldn’t have looked so brown!

Isaan-style grill chicken (kai yaan) and Nonya style bean curd salad

Isaan-style grill chicken (kai yaan) and Nonya style bean curd salad

Sri Owen Khmer grilled chicken with baby pak choi: I also used the other half of the marinade to bbq some pork fillet which was delicious too. Marks lost for too much soy sauce on the garlic stir fry pak choi

Sri Owne's Khmer chicken cooked on BBQ with baby pak choi

Sri Owen’s Khmer chicken cooked on BBQ with baby pak choi

Blackened local white fish, with confit lentils and green salad. Decided we wanted to be less Oriental one night – so much lemon grass and fish sauce otherwise. The fish was delicious and one of the cheapest on sale.

Blackened snapper with confit lentils and green salad

Blackened snapper with confit lentils and green salad

Other efforts – unclassified, usually taste excellent but dont look as good as they might! Masterchef, help!

My first attempt at Vietnamese fresh spring rolls. Couldn’t get the rolling-up knack, but later found a video which told me how it should be done…a la prochaine! They tasted as they should, however.


Stir fried squid Malay style, with lots of blachan (fermented prawn/anchovy paste). Too much garnish and too much sauce, it all looks a bit monochrome. but it was sure tasty! I adore squid…



Have struggled with local heroine chef Sylvia Tan, where nothing seems to taste of much; anyway I made her mushrooms and white fungus (couldn’t get black) with seared flank steak and it was Ok; other dishes such as Peranakhan favourite ayam (chicken) tempura have been underwhelming.

Ozzie flak steak with Chinese mushrooms and white fungus

Ozzie flak steak with Chinese mushrooms and white fungus

Some memorable delicacies eaten out…

First the top dim sum place, Din Tai Fung, popular for Saturday brunch. We are going to Taiwan in May so will check out its alma mater…


Making the dim sum in front of your eyes



You can also get other stuff – Ross has spaghetti-like noodles with a spicy pork sauce; I had  hot and sour soup, and we shared the broccoli




In Jakarta, I also some quite extraordinary sushi, very hot,  and beautifully presented.IMG_1351


Next week’s blog will come from BALI; I am taking a quick break while husband is travelling; an unaccompanied spouse in fact! I shall be visiting one of Louise’s friends and then going to a dive centre in the north and do some scuba. Good opportunity to see the island.


Author: vickyunwin

I am a writer and traveller. Our darling daughter Louise died on 2 March 2011, aged 21 ( and I started writing as therapy. We never know how long we have on this earth, so I live for every November 2013 I was diagnosed and operated on for a malignant soft tissue sarcoma in the calf, followed by 6.5 weeks of radiotherapy, so am embarking on a different kind of journey which you can follow here. I also have another site with my blueprint for health and well-being.

2 thoughts on “in which I practise my culinary skills

  1. Hi Vicks- this all looks totally mouthwatering- love the descriptions of wonderful local ingredients as well as the photos! Love Fi xxx

  2. Great entry! Mouthwatering indeed… Why don’t you put together a ‘Vicky in Singapore cookbook’? Chx

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