No Frill Cooking: Japanese Curry, using Vermont Curry Bricks

If I had to name two cuisines that are not home to Singapore, yet have taken Singapore by storm, it would have to be Japanese and Korean. Between the two, I would say that Japanese cuisine has been popular here for a longer time – we are no strangers to sushi, tempura, katsu curry and other popular Japanese dishes. But Korean cuisine has been picking up in terms of popularity here, too, especially with the hit of the Hallyu wave in most Asian countries these few years. Korean BBQ, bibimbap (a mixed rice dish), bingsu (a Korean shaved ice dessert) – these are just a few names of the most popular dishes. The more adventurous have ventured further, to dishes perhaps popular among Koreans, but as known to foreigners, such as naengmyun (buckwheat noodles in a cold tangy broth), and dwenjangchigae (fermented bean paste stew).

As diverse as the cuisine is here in Singapore – we really can’t complain about the variety we have here, so readily at hand, too – I cannot say that it comes cheap. Specialty cuisines like this are rather pricey if you’re looking for those with good quality, or are at least somewhat authentic. I once ate a $5.50 bowl of ‘noodles in Kimchi stew’ at a food court, and boy was it disappointing.  The broth tasted nothing like kimchi, and resembled the soup base of a Chinese hotpot. You pay for what you get. is a lesson I learnt. I had similar experiences with Jap curry as well, although not as bad. At most places, they do taste decent. But the price per portion comes close to $10 every time, and is not really a cost-effective meal if the whole family goes (my dad eats a lot). My mum’s frugal personality also doesn’t like the idea of spending so much money eating out, especially on food she doesn’t think is worth the price. So my solution? Try it outside myself, and if I like it, I learn to cook it at home! #filial

jap curry

—This is the part where I actually start to talk about the recipe.–

I can’t remember why I decided to cook Japanese curry on Sunday, but I did. I found the Vermont Curry Bricks (230g) in Medium Hot at FairPrice Finest in JCube. For this recipe, I used half the box (the equivalent of 6 bricks). It turned out great – a delicious, thick sauce with meat and potato chunks. A huge portion too, perfect for my family.

Disclaimer: This is not Katsu curry (the one with the fried pork cutlet) . I’d try to make that, but my sister’s taking her O Levels right now, and I wouldn’t be the brightest bulb if I decided that it would be a good idea to feed her friend cutlet a few days before her Oral exam. This is one is made with chunks of pork shoulder. Less oil, and less dishes to wash!

Japanese Curry with Pork Chunks

Feeds 4 very hungry people, or 6 normal people

Ingredients

  • 800g pork shoulder or chicken thighs, chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 large carrots, finely diced
  • 3 medium potatoes, roughly chopped into large pieces
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 6 bricks of Vermont Curry, chopped into small pieces
  • 850ml water
  • Cooking oil

Instructions

  1. Put a pan on medium heat. Add 1 tbsp oil. Brown the meat cubes on all sides, no need to cook through.
  2. Remove browned meat and set aside.
  3. Using the same pan, add 1 tbsp more of oil. Allow the oil to become warm, then add in onions. Sautee for 5 minutes.
  4. Add in finely diced carrot, minced garlic, and ginger. Sautee for 3 minutes.
  5. Pour in 850ml of water to de-glaze the pan. Allow it to come to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, with the lid on.
  6. Add in the roughly chopped potatoes, and 1 grated apple. Cover to simmer for anoter 10 minutes.
  7. At this point, dump in the meat. Simmer for 10 more minutes with the lid on.
  8. Turn off the burner. Add in your chopped up curry bricks. Stir to dissolve.
  9. When fully dissolved, turn the burner back on. With the lid on, let the sauce boil and thicken for a final 10 minutes.
  10. Serve with hot rice, and get fat!
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do it first, regret later.

It has been around 3 months since I rashly decided to submit my UCAS application, preparing for enrollment into a UK university.

Since then, I have come up with countless explanations for my decision.

Ah, but as we all know, there are always two kinds of factors that lead to a particular outcome. A trigger can lead me to choose to go overseas – this is usually the less mature and justifiable reason –  but what sustains this, after the initial push? I owe this to my matured (I cringe as I say this, but trust me IT’S THE TRUTH) self, who is finally thinking about how to live this life as fruitfully as I can.

I turn nineteen this year. Nineteen years of my entire life, I spent in Singapore. This is the place I was born, raised, and all of my education up till now was experienced here. I know this city state all too well, and while I do know that you can never know everything about a place, I believe that at this point, I know enough.

And truth to be told, even if I don’t, it is completely fine. I do know that my roots are here, and I will come back here no matter what. I have the rest of my life to learn about Singapore when I come back. Why I want to go someplace new now, is to get away from the all too familiar environment here. Things are getting too comfortable and stagnant – there is nothing that will drive me to change. I, too, will get comfortable and stagnant. I, too, will not improve.

If I do decide to study abroad, this will be a different story. I will be going there alone, alone in a different country for the first time. I will be thrown into an unfamiliar environment, with people very different from me. I will be afraid, but I will also learn to adapt. Adapt, change, grow – I really hope I become a person better than I am right now.

Also, when else will I get a similar opportunity? I want to challenge myself while I’m still young, throw myself into unfamiliar situations where I can make mistakes and grow. The best time to do so is now, when I still have no significant responsibilities upon my shoulders.

And it’s not because I am a person that likes doing new things, either. I despise change and unfamiliarity. I am that person who hates the first day of school, because I have so many things to worry about: getting lost, not having any friends, just to name a few. Yet, I am pushing myself to go through with this, because I know that this is not an opportunity to be passed up on. Pro Tip: If you know you’re afraid of doing something, but know that it’s good for you, just do it anyway. Throw yourself into it, and when it’s too late to back out, then great! Now you have no choice but to follow through with it. (Seriously this is how I roll.)

Friends, take that opportunity that you’re afraid of. DO IT. Most people regret what they DIDN’T do, not what they did.

Best of luck! -Q

nineteen.

Some of you might not know, but I turn nineteen in December.

Nineteen as an age confuses me. There’s ‘teen’ in ‘nineteen’ – so this means that I’m still a teenager, right? But then there’s the fact that after nineteen, everything from here on starts with ‘twenty-‘. Your age beginning with the number ‘two’ – this opens the door to responsibilities, work life, and anything ‘adult’.

At nineteen, do I start worrying about the concept of time running out? The idea of how many years I have left. Do I count from here on, the number of years I will take to complete university, to enter the workforce, to take my masters, to get married, to have kids, to retire… Does all this planning start now?

Do I factor in how my current gap year is going to affect me? It puts me one year behind my peers – I enter the workforce one year later than the rest, I have one year less of experience… Am I one year behind schedule?

Or do I immerse myself in the idea of ‘what if’s – thinking of every possible hypothetical situation?

No, I do none of the above.

I have migrated here.

Hi friends,

If you have been directed here from my old blog, you would know that I am migrating here permanently.

Selected posts have been uploaded here as well, though not all. No worries as I won’t be deleting the old blog – it will still exist, just that I will no longer be posting there. For new readers that have never seen my old blog, do check it out here!

Well, that’s it for now. New posts coming soon. Until next time! -Q

2k17: an update

Ah, it is now 2017.
I know that April barely started, but you wouldn’t believe how much has happened from the last time I updated, up to this present moment.Just a few updates:
I turned 18! Yes, finally, at long last, hallelujah! The wait has been long. And wouldn’t you believe it – turning eighteen was as boring as I expected it to be.
I graduated from Junior College! Still can’t decide whether the span of two years is a short or long period… I’m only glad that this is all over.
I experienced my first (two) heartbreaks! That really didn’t deserve an exclamation mark.
I got my first full time job! Very frustrating, but it pays the bills (or rather, my online shopping expenses), so I can’t complain too much.
I am now eligible to apply for undergrad enrollment! YAS. I’m not really excited to study, but more glad that I did well enough to actually get to choose what I want to study. Interests so far: politics, psychology, linguistics?
That’s it for now, folks. Might upload a short story some time soon.
Happy reading!
With love,
NOFRILLDAFFODIL

‘of course’ – the prequel.

When the first signs were there, she brushed them aside. After all, it was very petty if she decided to dwell on a particular missing emoji in a goodnight greeting. And despite the many telling signs later, and that feeling in her gut that told her that something was changing, the hopeful part of her won in the end. She, once again, brushed aside her fears.

It also didn’t help that every single time she was on the verge of confronting the change head front, by a cruel twist of fate (or a stroke of luck, depending on how you see it), they would have a moment of sweet connection. Her fears would once again be appeased, because suddenly that sky did not look so dark anymore. Somehow, she manages to convince herself that her judgement was, once again, wrong.

But deep down, she knew: It was the missing emojis, the fewer number of times she saw him, the increasing coldness in his texts. It was when pet names became rarely heard; when ‘our’ became ‘my’. It was when, one day, all of a sudden, his plans for the future did not include her.

‘And it’s going to be so cool,’ he says, eyes glimmering with excitement. ‘I’ll have a huge beach house all to myself. Every morning, I’ll wake up to the calls of the seagulls. It’s going to be fantastic, Amber!’

Her heart lurches. But Amber never disappoints.

‘Of course!’ She stutters.

And the cycle repeats.

‘of course.’

The sun was scorching. Feet were shuffling on the concrete floors, voices trying to beat the noise of the crowd.

She silently watches from behind a pillar. They were saying their goodbyes, she observes, as she leans in to eavesdrop on the conversation.

It was nothing out of the ordinary, but somehow, she just needed to know. About as much of his life as possible. About his life beyond her. Because once he leaves, it is going to be a whole new world out there. Him slipping away would be inevitable. She has to learn as much as possible now, she thinks.

But she’s not doing a very good job of hiding. Looking over his parents, he spots a pair of familiar blue sneakers shifting in and out of his view. Subconsciously, the corners of his mouth curve up into a shy smile. So she did come after all, he muses.

Today was the day. It was a day of both promises and the breaking of deals, of change, and of continuity.

‘Nothing will change,’ is how he starts off his greeting, when he finally excuses himself from his company.

Her heart drops, and for a moment she thought she heard a thud and a shatter. In her head, she laughs at herself. Status quo was the last thing she wanted and needed. But as usual, none of these thoughts were said out loud.

Without betraying a hint of her true emotion, she composes herself, and flashes a bright smile.

‘Of course.’