Bell’s Blog

I will try again tomorrow

Karaage

I haven’t posted since March! I figured I should probably write something here once in a while… but life’s got me in tangles most of the time. Still… I wanted to share a recipe I tried today. As always I trawl the net for recipes and I’m especially partial to Japanese cooking. One of my special favourites is Karaage… or Japanese fried chicken. Karaage is something I make often but I don’t think I’ve ever posted about it. I’ve never made them the same way more than a couple of times. I’m always finding new recipes or variations and I’m always trying them out or constantly tweaking ones I have already tried. I do have a few methods that I go back to time and again… but today I will share a new one I found last night and tried today.

no bonus points for presentation I guess….

Karaage

Ingredients

500g Boneless Chicken Thighs (cut into bite size pieces)
1 piece of Ginger (approximately thumb sized, chopped finely to make about 1 Tablespoon)
2 cloves Garlic (minced)
2 Spring Onions (chopped)
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Sake
1 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp All purpose flour
3 Tbsp Corn Starch
1 Pinch Salt and Pepper
Oil for frying

Marinate

a little corn starch before frying

Method

  • Marinate the chicken in ginger, garlic, spring onions, soy sauce, sake, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix in the all purpose flour to soak up excess liquids. Cover and put in the fridge for about an hour.
  • After an hour, toss in corn flour and coat as evenly as possible. (I found this part a little challenging because of the flour I’d already mixed in previously)
  • Heat oil to 160˚C and fry chicken a few pieces at a time until golden brown.
  • Serve over rice… or in a sandwich (apparently).

I also made a nice sauce to go with the karaage. It’s really easy and you can prepare it while waiting for your frying oil to heat up.

Karaage Sauce

Ingredients

1 Spring onion (chopped)
70ml Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Sake
1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil

Method

  • Fry the spring onions lightly in a small amount of cooking oil until soft
  • Add soy sauce, sugar, sake, and rice vinegar and bring to a boil.
  • Turn off the heat and add sesame oil.
  • Spoon over rice and/or karaage and serve. Yum!

serve over rice and a little bit of karaage sauce. In this pic I only had a little of the sauce cos it was my first time trying it and I wasn’t sure if it would be good. But it was so later on I was soaking my chicken in it!!

The Verdict…. To be honest I preferred some of my older recipes. This karaage is not as crispy as I would like. It was also fairly greasy. I might feel compelled to post one of those variations up sometime, but generally I prefer to use potato starch to corn starch, as it as a very crispy and leaves a non-greasy finish… though the drawback would be that oddly it saps my chicken of some of its flavour. BUT… having said that, I think that reduction of flavour can be compensated for by increasing the amount of marinade and the marinating time. Plus with the discovery of this new karaage sauce, which Kwang really likes by the way 😉 , I think it could be a very nice option.

If you try out this recipe, let me know how it turned out for you, and if you made variations and changes that worked out well, please do share.

I will try to post more often… until next time… Toodles and Itadakimasu!

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Wasted 4 days!

I’m really pissed off right now! Last week I ordered some shrimps for my aquarium from Germany. They were supposed to send it to me by express post on Monday so I spent the day preparing my tank for new arrivals on Tuesday. I waited at home on Tuesday and got an email in the evening that they had just posted it… and it should arrive Wednesday or Thursday. I was kinda annoyed… cos I’d spent the entire day at home waiting. So again on Wednesday I waited at home for the courier… unable to leave home to do groceries or go to the basement to do my laundry in case I missed the doorbellIf I missed the courier I’d have to arrange for a re-delivery. I waited and waited and waited and nothing came. Maybe it’s a little slow, I thought… maybe they got held up at customs while the officers pawed at my package. I waited again all day today. And again they never arrived. I rarely have so much time off from work. I could have spent this time doing many things… thinking of things I can cook and what not, but because couriers can arrive any time of day rather than a fixed time for regular post, I had to stay home and wait… and for what? NOTHING! My shrimps have not arrived. By now they’d have been cooped up in a plastic bag for 3 days! If they arrive tomorrow and I’m at work… they’d probably be dead anyway! It’s winter… and they get packed in a styrofoam box and with a small heat pack to maintain the warm temperature but after a day it would have run out of heat.

Back to the customs issue. Perhaps they got stopped at customs for trying to post living animals… shrimps. But the problem there is that if sending them to Switzerland from Germany was not allowed, the seller would know and they would have allowed the purchase to be processed. But that shouldn’t be the case because I’ve read in forums that some people in Switzerland have ordered stock from Germany too. So what’s the problem here? I have no idea what’s gone wrong… honestly! I’m just really angry!  I’ve emailed the seller to ask for a tracking number… but they haven’t got back to me. Not that it matters anymore now. If I never receive my parcel I will have to contact them again… and if I do receive it and the shrimps are all dead I’d better get my money back!

And I was so looking forward to getting some new shrimps too! 🙁 I’d ordered 20 shrimps that came with a mini igloo… and I’d ordered an extra 3 pregnant shrimps… it would be a real shame if they’re all dead.

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Bad reaction

Oh what have I done? I have been trying out some skin care “recipes” at home that I find online. Well on Friday I actually tried a puffy-eye-reduction treatment. It says to grate some cucumber and some potato and put them into disposable teabags, you can buy ones that you fill yourself with tea leaves…. except you fill it with this mushed up concoction. Anyway, it felt really nice… cucumber soothes and tightens, and potato supposedly reduces swelling and lightens the dark circles. I didn’t see any difference, but that was a one time use. So tonight I tried it again, and to my horror my skin and eyes began to swell and itch within 2 – 3 minutes of my applying the bags to my eyes! I hurriedly went to wash my face and in the end I hopped into the shower. I stayed there for about 10 mins. After I got out my eyes were red and swollen like capsules. I looked like I was wearing eye makeup and then just cried my eyes out. My face too was red and irritated because some of the juice ran down my face. Lucky I have a balancing face cream for just such situations to soothe and rebalance the skin after harsh environmental exposure or allergies. I have taken antihistamines, to get the allergic reaction under control and am feeling unbelievably sleepy. I was looking for my allergy eyedrops but I’ve probably either misplaced them or used it all up somehow. I think I’ve most likely misplaced them cos I don’t use them often.

I didn’t have such a reaction the first time I tried this… so it’s really weird. I must have done something different… like didn’t peel the skin off the cucumber. But I’m not entirely sure that’s it… Did I use more potato than last time? Cucumber is supposed to be very good for the skin right? I’m so confused…. I should go to bed and sleep this off… I’ll feel awful tomorrow as is the way of medicine-induced sleep. *sighs* I’ll not be trying this again in a hurry. I’ll give my face some time to recover before experimenting again.

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Skincare from the kitchen cupboard?

I have a few days off from work. Which gives me the opportunity to focus on caring for myself. Let’s face it… I’m not going to get any younger. I’ll be 30 this year!!! Yikes! I’ve not been sleeping very well recently, I wake up super tired, and people at work have noticed that my eyes are puffy and dark, and I’ve noticed my skin is a lot drier than it used to be. While it’s generally drier in the winter anyway, I know that it feels worse than usual. So I’ve been researching online and I’ve found a lot of natural home remedies that I can whip up at home for a fraction of the price I’d pay for many different products… Just like me to opt for whipping something up in the kitchen to plaster all over my face!

Today I’m starting with a yoghurt and oatmeal face mask. It’ll drench my face with moisture, and exfoliate and tighten the pores… or so it claims. So I’m very excited about this. It smells pretty yummy too! I made too much and plastered it on Kwang’s face too! He HAS been complaining about dry skin after all, and recently he started looking at skin care products that aren’t targeted exclusively toward men. As I’m writing this post, I’ve still got it on my face… LOL

This is what I look like:

Pretty disgusting right? Hehe! If I remember I will post more info of other stuff as I try them out. If I remember to, I will also write about how successful or unsuccessful I find them to be. If I forget to write a review and you really really want to know, remind me 🙂

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Curiosity Killed The Cat

Or in this case… curiosity killed my shrimps. For me to complain about this I first have to explain water. There’s hard water and soft water. Hard water contains minerals like calcium or lime, magnesium and other trace minerals… they’re what makes the white stuff that accumulates on the inside of your water kettle. Soft water has less of these minerals. Distilled water, is water that has had most of these minerals removed by boiling the water and collecting the vapours  from the steam leaving behind all the lime and minerals. There’s something else called Reverse Osmosis (RO) water which via a lengthy filtration process has been deionized and thus is devoid of any and all minerals or nitrates.

My shrimps require soft water and dietary calcium. Excess calcium in the water makes their shells so hard that they cannot molt when they grow too large for it. Insufficient calcium in the diet makes the shells too soft and they simply die because it does not protect them. You think it’s complicated? Not really. It’s not supposed to be that hard.

Now, with the sciency stuff over with… Swiss water is very hard… almost too hard for the shrimps. My choices are to buy an expensive filter and fill it with a special soil called peat which will turn my water brown and very slightly acidic, but it also softens the water. Or buy an expensive RO unit and make my own RO water. Or I can buy RO water from some health stores or organic supermarkets I think… I haven’t really looked… but they’re supposed to be pretty pricey.

I can’t really afford any of those things. But you remember I mentioned that lime accumulation in kettles at the beginning? Well I have something that fixes that… A standard kitchen water filtration jug. I thought why not try and test this water and see what the results are? I did and was amazed how much of the minerals from tap water were filtered away! SO then…. I thought again… why not try to put some in the aquarium? I did that today without thinking of asking for advice or opinions from the aquarium experts. My tank has a capacity of 54 liters, and I would say I have around about 50 liters in there after gravel and plants. I thought perhaps I could filter about 3 liters of water and put it in my tank and see if it will lower the hardness of the water. 3 liters out of 50 is nothing right? It really can’t hurt right? apparently WRONG!

Within seconds of me adding the filtered water to the tank my shrimps began swimming around madly. I thought it was a little bit of an extreme reaction. But about an hour or 2 later I checked back to find my otos (sucker fish) were also swimming around madly. I was very worried that the shrimps were no longer swimming around. It must have been the water. Remember this is water that has been filtered and almost devoid of any minerals or bacteria. I hurriedly took out 5 liters of aquarium water and replaced with regular tap water again… to try to offset the damage I’d done by adding the filtered water. But I was too late… I noticed one of the shrimps was walking funny… uncoordinated-like. Then another was swimming like a drunken bee. Another swam by unsteady and landed upside-down. One of my pregnant females began twitching on the ground. It was a nightmare! It’s been a couple of hours since this happened and I’ve fished out 8 dead shrimps, 2 of them were pregnant females.

So I didn’t know this but I do now, but because the quality of the water was so different from that already in the tank, They all died of shock. I always knew shrimps were very sensitive to changes in water quality but I really didn’t think that 3 liters into 50 would make all that much of an impact. Now I’m kicking myself for being so impulsive. It wasn’t the water’s fault… There are people on the forums who use filtered water in their tanks successfully. I should have added only a tiny bit at a time or diluted it with other water before adding it… also a little at a time. Dumping 3 liters directly and all at once was too much, even for the fish. 8 deaths… and those are just the ones I could see… behind rocks, under plants, by the filter or decorations, places I can’t see easily… there are probably more just lying there… unseen. I have 1 pregnant female left and some juveniles. But I think I’m likely to lose the entire colony… I only had about 20 or so to start with! Almost half gone.

Isn’t it ironic though? Just this morning I was looking online for some new shrimp suppliers in Germany who will ship to Switzerland cos I read online that because the shrimps breed so quickly, after a while there is inevitably going to be inbreeding and your shrimps will become pale and susceptible to disease unless you add new blood from a different colony… so I was thinking ahead and considering where I should get them from. And now I won’t even have to worry about inbreeding anymore, cos I might have none left by morning!

Urgh!!!

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