Category Archives: asian cuisine

The last of MasterChef Australia recipes 🐨

Contestant Tamara Graffen in season 9 during the soufflé episode

Oh no! Well, that is until the debut of season 10 in a few weeks. The show won’t air in Italy until maybe 6 months later or so, but that gives me time to lose the “ice cream inches” that snuck up on my hips while I made dessert after frozen dessert during all of March. Out of the 19 dishes that I selected, 15 made it into the recipe box and a few are already repeat cooks (like those campfire orange brownies!) because they are that good!

What I can surely say about MasterChef Australia is that you really do discover new things from watching the show. In particular I loved learning about indigenous ingredients – bushfood – like quandongs, salt bush, wattleseed and lemon myrtle just to name a few. On top of that, if not for the presence and influence of Southeast Asian cuisine in the land down under, I’d have missed out on rendang, goan curry, and XO sauce. Get yer forks ready, here we go!

Tea Braised Pork Belly with Mushrooms, Daikon and Bean Curd

The only time I’ve used tea as a cooking ingredient was for Lahpet thohk, a salad of pickled tea leaves. The recipe calls for Hojicha tea which I figured would be loose leaf; I used the stuff found in a tea bag…try imagining how much that amounts to leaves. I wasn’t impressed much by the flavor of this dish but it was the first time for making daikon noodles.

Shredded Duck Rendang with Pandan Coconut Lace Pancakes, Sticky Turmeric Rice & Cucumber Coriander Relish

Rendang is a spicy dry type of curry originating from Indonesia that turned into a famous dish in Malaysia. Food can be such a touchy subject when it comes to its origins (like my silly sister-in-law and French shepherd’s pie!) but no one will care if they take a bite of this. The recipe link gives instructions to serve it like a folded taco, but the episode demonstrated this sushi roll-type of result. It’s trickier, but oh does it look so much better on the plate! I substituted guinea hen for duck, but next time I’ll try turkey leg meat. Here’s a little how-to visual.

Goat’s Cheese Semifreddo with Brik Pastry and Caramelised Pears

And to end on a sweet note, I had to make this recipe from contestant Tamara Graffen. The semifreddo had a perfect ratio of tang to sweetness, complemented by the pears that are first cooked in a simple syrup before turning into chips in the oven. Pear-fection on a plate!


Cancelled flights, delayed trains, blocked trains, traffic a slow ride, and schools (in Rome) closed because of the danger of ice. If you haven’t seen Italy on the news it’s because we’re frozen stiff and numb with confusion. Well actually, everywhere in Europe is one giant freezer, and if the weather forecast is accurate, tomorrow is going to get worse.

This week I wanted to pick up where I left off on the exotic ice cream flavors, but I’ll let that sit on the back burner until life returns to normal. In its place I played around with an idea that came about from watching too much MasterChef Australia: a Japanese-inspired dukkah egg. The original dukkah is a nut & spice mix originating from Egypt (and if anyone says otherwise, just tell them to pick a fight with Wikipedia). You add it to almost anything as a seasoning and the way I initially heard about was like this:

Dukkah Coated Eggs, Quinoa & Cauliflower Salad with Pomegranate Reduction
All thanks to contestant Georgia Barnes

Light, tasty, wholesome food with a lot of textures. And then I thought, if dukkah can coat an egg, why not furikake? I love furikake on hot rice, but I enjoy it only when I’m back in Hawaii. BZZZT! The light bulb went on in my head and I started digging out my Japanese ingredients: sesame seeds, nori sheets, umeboshi paste. I also got out some toasted peanuts and sugar. Finely chopped the peanuts, blitzed the nori in the spice blender, and toasted the sesame seeds. To incorporate the umeboshi paste, I smeared some on baking parchment and let it dry on the lowest setting in the oven, then I broke it into pieces and blitzed them in the spice blender.

Recipe: 1/8th cup chopped toasted peanuts, 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon umeboshi powder, 2 tablespoons ground nori wrapper, 1-2 teaspoons sugar

I can’t quite decide how to describe the appearance other than it certainly looks interesting… BUT, one taste of this egg and I was convinced that there’s a great idea here. The possibilities are ENDLESS.