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Sweet sour pork chop rice-IMG_6461-5800-contrast copyWhen I was traveling in Europe from early July till mid August this year, I missed Asian cuisine so much. I don’t normally cook Asian or Chinese dishes that much at home, but if I do, it is more for sustenance or if I have foreign friends in town which prefer to dine on Chinese or Asian cuisine.

When I was in Europe, I reached my saturation point for pizza and pasta in Italy; sandwiches, salad and bread in France (I couldn’t afford nice restaurant food everyday!) after a couple of weeks. I was yearning for Asian food every evening after an exhaustive day sight seeing and walking non-stop, it’s like a comfort food when you’re tired and worn out. I’ve never loved backpackers’ hostels that much until I went to Europe! Simply because they have cooking facilities which allow me to cook up a quick delicious meal that costs a lot lesser than what you would normally pay at a nice restaurant.

The first thing after I settle in at any backpackers’ hostel, is to ask where the supermarket is, then I will check out the kitchen and cooking facilities. I normally check the hostels if they have cooking facilities, before I book them online, or email them before I book. And after that I would go to the supermarket to do an inventory to see what they sell and plan what I can prepare during the length of my stay. I have basic cooking ingredients which I carry around, but many backpacker’s hostel with cooking facilities where I stayed in Italy and France do have the basic stuff such as salt, sugar, pepper, and if you are lucky, olive oil and even flour and dry herbs/spices.

Eiffel tower-IMG_4473-auto-contrast copyThis dish was created in my hostel in Paris, which was situated right next to a small supermarket, and another bigger supermarket with more complete range of ingredients 10 minutes walk away. I made this for myself and Gary, my dorm mate from Melbourne, Australia. Most smaller supermarkets in Paris are not very well stocked, it’s not easy to find Asian ingredients, but you can still find common ingredients that enable you to cook up a delicious Asian dish within a short period of time.

I recreated this today for lunch so that I could photograph the dish, and it’s so delicious that I almost licked the plate clean! It’s very easy to prepare, fool proof, and not expensive too! Gary and I paid about €4 each for the dish + a bottle of Rosé wine! (Eating similar dish like this at an Asian restaurant in France or Italy will easily cost a few more Euros!) You can easily get all these ingredients at most supermarkets in Paris or other parts of France if you are planning to travel there.

Kids will love this too, as the sweet and sourish taste of the gravy definitely appeals to them!

Paris-Louvre-CY&Gary-IMG_4448-shade-sGary and I at the Lourve…

Cooking time: 20 mins
Preparation: 15 mins
Serving: 2

Ingredients:
1 medium-sized pork chop or lean pork loin, sliced about 5 mm thick, marinated for 15 minutes with salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp corn flour (this can be omitted if you find it too troublesome to get when you’re traveling)
1 sweet bell pepper (capsicum), red or green, diced into small squares
2 large ripe tomato, cut into small chunks
5 button mushroom (champignon), quartered
3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 small onion, chopped finely
3 tbsp cooking oil or olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp soy sauce (optional, if you can’t find them at the supermarket)
3 tbsp white/Rosé wine (optional, use this from the bottle that you’re going to drink later)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar
1 cup long grain Asian rice
2 cups water

Steps:

1. Cook rice. If you are staying in a backpacker’s hostel with no rice cooker or a steamer, follow this step. Wash rice with water and drain away the water. (If you use pre-cooked rice, follow the instructions on the pack) Boil the 2 cups of water in a pot and add in the rice when the water reaches boiling point, stir evenly. Turn down heat, cover with lid and cook for about 10 – 15 minutes until water is almost fully dried, turn off heat and let the remaining moisture get absorbed into the rice. This should take another 10 – 15 minutes or so. If you have a rice cooker, just cook rice (1 part of rice to 2 parts of water) using the normal procedure or you can steam them.
2. Heat oil in a deep pan, fry the pork chop slices until light brown and fragrant. Dish out and put aside.
3. Fry chopped garlic and onion with the remaining oil until tender, add tomato chunks, water and soy sauce, cook until tomato chunks turn tender and mushy.
4. Add mushrooms, bell pepper and the fried pork chop slices, cook until tender and gravy thickens. Season with sugar, salt and pepper. Serve hot with rice.

Note: You can substitute pork chop with beef steak, minced pork or beef and cook in the same manner.
Sweet sour pork chop rice-IMG_6487-5800 copy
Sweet sour pork chop rice-IMG_6467-cloudy copy

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