Monday, April 30, 2007

Kcal count: Bouillon Aux Celeri et Choux Chinois (Celery & Cabbage Soup)

A nutritious yet simple bouillon I had make tonight with 5 vegetables - celery, chinese cabbage(long-leafy kind), carrot, turnip and onion. With a little salt and pepper it was perfect to counter this chilly gloomy evening.

For this bouillon, the main ingredients were celery and cabbage. Carrot, onion and turnip would be the side kicks.

Celery and cabbage are very good diet food as they contain very little calories and 0 fat. A cup of celery diced has only 17 calories, 8% of daily values(D.V) for dietary fiber (based on a 2000-calories diet), lots of vitamin A and C. A cup of chinese cabbage has an unexpectly low calories of 9, and 63% and 53% D.V for vitamin A and vitamin C respectively. Kim Chi, the basis of all South Korean food, is made with cabbage, chilli pepper and vinegar. No wonder the Koreans never get fat from eating loads of Kim Chi everyday. The old people here are extremely healthy and sportive compared to those in Singapore. It must be the vitamin boost they derive from the daily Kim Chi intake.

Ingredients for 4 servings:
4 cups of celery, diced
4 cups of cabbage, cut into bite size pieces
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, sliced into thin wedges
1 cup of turnip, peeled and diced
salt and black pepper

Place celery, carrot, onion and turnip in a soup pot with 1.5 litres of water. Bring it a boil and season it salt and pepper. Let it simmer for 10 mins uncovered

Add cabbage and let it simmer uncovered for another 5 mins. Serve hot.

Bouillon Aux Celeri et Choux Chinois

Kcal Count: (68+36+30+46+33)/4= 213/4 = 53.25 calories per serving

Wow, this really comes at a big surprise. I didn't know this bouillon has so little calories until I did the calculations a minute ago. It is almost equivalent to 100 ml of low fat 2% milk, which is less than half a cup.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hi Seoul Festival: World Food court

Saw Royal Guards Ceremony at Deoksokgung

Just came back from the international food fair at City Hall, Seoul. It was really a treat for my stomach. I couldn't care less about my diet. This is an once a year event that I surely couldn't miss.

The first stall I hurried to was the Singapore Booth. There were only Yakun Kaya Toasts and Chicken Curry with French Baguette. I was rather disappointed since the Singapore Club said that the menu list include Hainanese Chicken Rice and Laksa. I couldn't complain.

Forget about the Laksa. Stop whining!

So, I bought the curry at 3,000 won. It was rather tasty despite the bad presentation - a bowl of curry together with 2 slices of baguette half-soaked in curry. I skipped Yakun since there are 2 branches in Seoul and I just wanted to try all the food unavailable in Seoul.

Next cuisine I tried was Malaysian. The Roti Canai there looked delicious. One cook preparing the Roti Canai was just a student on an exchange program in Seoul. He was flipping the dough and pulling it like a real Prata Man in Singapore. For only 1,500 won, I got myself a general serving of Roti Canai with egg and curry to dip.

Malaysian traditional Costumes

Detecting some Satays nearby with my Singaporean antennae, I followed the scent and it led me to an Indonesian booth with a long queue. The satays smelled really meaty and smoky, just like those back in Singapore. I missed Southeast Asian food a lot but I would give these Satays a miss. The queue was simply too long.

There wasn't enough tables and chairs set up at the fair. Ced and I just had to stand in the shade, finish eating and move on to the next booth.

Sudanese food

We continued walking and bought some Austrian sausages and meat loaf with bread. Then we got some Sudanese food and Israeli's Couscous with vegetable and refreshing iced mint tea.

We saw another long queue at the Lebanon. The booth was selling Shawarmas with a professional chef showing off his slicing skill on the skewered meat.

Other cuisines include Japanese, Chinese, Korean, German, Australian, Mexican, Peruvian, Laotian, Vietnamese, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Russia, America and so on. I think there were at least 40 over countries participating in this event.

So much to try in one afternoon. If only it can be like this everyday!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Time to start the herb seeds

It's almost the end of April, I finally manage to seed my herbs after weeks of procrastination. I have been busy with biking since I got back to it again beginning of this week.

This morning, I planted basil, parsley as well as cilantro. All these herbs are extremely useful for Southeast Asian and Mediteranean cuisine. Chives and spring onions are available cheaply at my local produce market.

Now, all the seeds are planted in recycled Denmark Yoghurt plastic containers, sitting on the window sills, facing the morning sun. Currently, the weather has been around 18 degree celcius and sunny. I wish it would get a little warmer to start the seeds.

It would probably take a week to see the seeds sprouting.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Kcal count:Tomato Egglant & Clam Linguine

Tomato Eggplant and Clam Linguine

Serves 4

4 large ripe tomatoes, diced
100g of clams
2 Korean eggplant, cut lengthwise and sliced
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano(add more if you like)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of fresh pasley
4 servings of package linguine
Salt & Pepper

Heat oil in a large non-stick sauce pan. Fry Onion with eggplant for 5 mins. Add diced tomatoes, oregano and salt. Let it simmer for 10 mins until the sauce thickens.

Cook linguine according to package instructions.

Add clams to the eggplants and let it boil for another 2 mins. When the linguine is cooked, drain it and pour eggplants over it. Sprinkle some fresh parsley all over.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Seoul Event: 'Origin Art: From Africa to the Inca' at Olympic Park

It will be held at Seoul Olympic Museum at Olympic Park from Apr 24 2007 - Jun 20 2007. The closest subway station is Mongchontoseong Station on the pink line (Line 8).

The museum is hosting the “Origin Art” exhibition which consists of primitive art and artifacts from all over the world. Thoughtfully placed throughout the spacious airy rooms and halls of the museum are large collections of masks, statues, figurines and other relics from Africa, Asia, the Americans and Oceania.

In the Africa section, twelve African nations are represented. Many of the pieces such as the masks and statuettes are imbued with cultural significance and meaning which is still relevant today. A collection of masks from the Ivory Coast, for example, shows masks which are used to represent the souls of both gods and the deceased. Other treasures include ancient lambskin Bibles found in Ethiopia and primitive musical instruments made from wood and animal skin. There is video footage showing different tribes participating in ceremonial rights of passage, from birth to death. This is a rare chance to glimpse into the dark and mysterious world of the rituals of Africa’s tribes.

In addition to the artwork and relics, the exhibition has imported male artists from South Africa and Kenya to give performances of traditional Zulu and Masai tribal songs and dances everyday. Enjoy a quality latte from the outdoor organic café while being enthralled by the tribal pounding of the drums.

The performances are scheduled at these times:
Weekends 11.30 am 1.30 pm 3.00 pm 4.30 pm 5. 30pm
Weekdays: 11.30 am 2.00pm 3.30 pm 5.00 pm

There are also facilities where you can paint your own primitive mask and try your hand at printmaking.

For more information, visit the website

Seoul Event: Hi Seoul Festival 2007!

It is opening this Saturday the 28th April and ending on the next Sunday 5th May. There will be lots of Korean cultural events, Korean traditional and Kpop music, dance and concert at different areas of Seoul. There will be a re-enactment of 'The Coronation Ceremony of King Sejong ' at GyeongbokGung. Sounds pretty interesting to his some Korean history.

I wanted to ride the hot- air balloon crossing the Hangang from Jamsil to Teuksom this weekend but the free tickets are already given out. There is a Seoul World DJ festival which is free. Lots of famous DJs will be performing.

Most important of all, the festival also features Seoul Friendship Fair on 29th April Sunday. There will be lots of traditional performances, food samples from many different countries including Singapore (yes!). I heard the Singaporean Club in Seoul will be selling Laksa, Hainanese Chicken rice and Ba kut Teh! Wa lao!(Singapore English, Singlish , for 'oh my god')

For more information about Hi Seoul, please visit their site

Monday, April 23, 2007

Kcal count: Vegetable Sukiyaki

I made this during my diet. It is not a traditional Japanese Sukiyaki which comes with beef and some fat and eaten with rice. My Sukiyaki is purely veggies in soy mirin broth with enough Korean potato noodles (same noodles used in Korean Jap Chae) to fill up any empty stomach. It is very easy to prepare, it is an enjoyable healthy meal with no fat.

Vegetable Sukiyaki

Ingredients for 2 servings:

2 cups Korean King Oyster Mushrooms, sliced and cut into bit sizes.
1 cup of broccoli florets
1/2 carrot, peeled and cut into matchstick-size strips
5 leaves of nappa cabbage, cut into bit sizes
1 small onion, sliced thinly
100g of Korean Potato noodles or glass noodles(enough for 2 servings)
4 tablespoons of sauce soy
2 tablespoons of mirin
Some salt

Boil 4 cups of water with sauce soy, mirin and mushroom and onion. Let it simmer for 5 mins. Add carrot, nappa cabbage and noodles. Let it simmer again until the noodles is soft and add broccoli. Season with some salt. Cook for another 1 min and remove from heat.

Divide the Sukiyaki into 2 large bowls. And eat till your heart's content without any calorie guilt!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Scrumptious Saturday lunch at Focacino

Maybe I broke my diet. Not sure about that.

After a whole week of dining in, Ced and I decided to spoil ourselves. Not that the meals that I prepared was unsavory, but staying home was boring and dining out is a fun experience. Imagine dining in 7 days a week. I really needed to get out!

Eating out during a diet is rather painful. But I would rather practise some self-control than to be bored.

So that Saturday afternoon, we went to our newly discovered cafe, Focaccino. The very first time, we ordered 2 focaccias (one Cherry Tomatoes and one Potatoes); for dessert, I got myself a Tiramisu and Ced got an Opera. The Tiramisu was indeed to die for and surely I would help myself to another serving if my stomach would allow. It is probably the best I had in Seoul.

I almost forget to mention the focaccias which are the bases of this cafe.
Focaccino has the best selection of focaccias, ranging from Bacon, Onion, Peppers to Chocolate, Fig and Tropica. I have only tried 5 out of 12 so far. My favourite being the Cherry Tomatoes with Herbs de Provence.

On that second visit, I treated myself to a plate of Tomato Seafood Spaghetti, that came with complimentary warm focaccia and a dip which tasted pretty much like Ranch Dressing. The spaghetti was healthy and light compared to regular Italian cooking that uses tonnes of olive oil. I was so glad that I ordered that. I skipped the Ranch dressing entirely.

While seated close to the service counter, I saw plates of Tiramisu flying past me. Too bad I wasn't one of customers ordering it. I can understand the reason behind its popularity. IT IS SIMPLY HUGE, with thick layers of mascapone cream, genoise, coffee and chocolate. It is more than enough for 2 people. For someone on diet, it was just too tormenting to look at it.

Til then, I resisted all high calories loaded food . Until...

Ced ordered a small Chocolate Dome. I took a few spoonfuls and left the rest for him to finish. How dietic!

I was getting frantic about the calories I had consumed until I saw a sticker on the gold plastic plate on which the dessert was served. It had the nutritional values of the cake and the manufacturer info which turned out to be Shilla Bakery (probably Focaccino doesn't have inhouse dessert production). Most importantly, it had only 400 calories.

Phew! I always thought a piece of mousse cake had 800 kcal or more.

Big lunch meant light dinner. So that Saturday night, we had Vegetable Sukiyaki, made with soy sauce-mirin broth and Korean Potato Noodles (Glass Noodles used in Jap Chae). Will be posting the recipe later.

Focacino is located at Sadang Station next to Coffee Bean.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Kcal count: Vegetable Udon Soup and BlueberryYoghurt

Today's lunch: Homemade Vegetable Udon Soup(350 kcal) and Swibell Blueberry Yoghurt(80 kcal).

Udon Soup for 2:
4 cups of vegetable broth(I used leftover soup made with onion, potatos, carrots, cabbage and a bunch of parsley)
4 chicken tenderloins/strips, skinless
1/3 of medium carrot
5 leaves of cabbage
4 cups of fresh spinach
200g of fresh Japanese udon
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
salt & pepper

Boil the broth in a pot. Peel the carrot and cut it into 3cm matchstick size. Cut cabbage into bite size piece, 3-cm squares. Cut stems off spinach leaves and rinse well.
When the broth is boiling, add chicken and carrot. After 2 mins, add Japanese udon and stir well with chopsticks, making sure the noodles are not sticking to each other. Let the broth boil again. Season with soysauce, salt and pepper. Add cabbage and spinach and cook the vegetables until soft, about 1 minute.
Divide the udon soup into 2 bowls and serve warm.

Calorie count:
1 serving of udon = (160*+160+26+21+28+300+16)/2 = 695/2 =350 kcal
*160kcal is rather high for broth. So it might be better to use a low calories broth such as pure vegetable broth without potatoes. 4 cups of chicken bouillon is only 90 kcals.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

74 calories of fresh strawberries

Fresh strawberries ready to be blended

A glass of refreshing strawberry juice.

Everyone's having the weight issue at some point of their lives

Current situation
The winter had provided me a few good excuses to eat like a glutton. But let's go back to reality: I have gained 2-3 kilos that I am frantically anxious to shed them off. I am bloated like what the chinese would describe - rice dumpling wrapped in lotus leaf, tied up tightly with a kitchen string. Or you can picture it this way: A big piece of beef tenderloin, tied up tightly in several rounds of string. My eyes look like they are swallowed up by my chubby cheeks. I can still fit into my pants but they look tight on me.

Choco Addict
I'm done with dark chocolate for the time being. I used to joke with a close friend of mine that ' Everyday is Easter', meaning I have chocolate every single day. It lifts my spirit up instantaneously. Now I have to kick that strong addiction out of my daily diet. Think about all the nice swim suit I can wear! Maybe I should photoshop a picture with my full body, add 20 kg to it, print the picture and paste the poster on the wall to remind me every day I could look like that.

More veggies, fish and seafood
My daily menu(lunch and dinner) would change to a more vegetarian diet and less beef since meat has lots of calories, beef being the highest of all. Seafood and fish would probably be the best substitute for meat. I shall include them in my grocery shopping list.

Olive Oil
As for fat for cooking, I always use olive oil for sauteeing, soup and salad. So I won't have to change that.

Cooking methods
I almost never used deepfry method of cooking. I hate greasy food deepfried battered food. So I don't have to worry about getting greasy food out of my meals. However, my main style of cooking is sauteeing which requires at least 1-2 tablespoon of olive oil. I'm considering steaming food, proaching and baking as an alternative.

Breakfast (at home)
2 slices of Toast bread with jam, half a grapefruit, a yoghurt and an Earl Grey. No Lu Petit Ecolier 45% dark Chocolate biscuits (Something that I snack on every morning. It is going to be a hard habit to kick.)

Weekday Lunch outside
Usually Korean food at a food court. The food is rather healthy. Lots of rice, veggies and grain. Very little meat. The portion at the food court is usually big. What I need to do is to share my food with someone or eat only half the amount of food on the tray.

Weekend Lunch and Most Dinner
This is when I cook. I'll cook according to my diet menu. It is easier to count the calories when preparing food on my own. I frequent this site called Calorie Count which provides nutritional information of food. It has a very comprehensive list of food, including supermarket premade frozen meals and ready made sauces.

Dessert at dinner
Unlimited amount of fruits, no banana and sometimes low-fat yoghurt(about 60-80 calories)

Fruits basically but no banana, no walnut or almond, no chocolate bar!

Unlimited amount of tea(occassionally with honey for a small treat) and water. No more daily cuppuccino I swear! I bought a 1 usd electric frother from Singapore, it is simply too tempting to make a cappucino at home with the automatic espresso machine I have.

I haven't got time to think about it yet. I really hate sweat.

Blog posts for the next few weeks
Well, I will document my diet, write about all the healthy food or dishes and take lots of pretty pictures. In order for a diet to work well, the diet menu has to be fanciful. Imagine the 'joy' of eating a plain salad with low fat dressing from the supermarket everyday. I would use my creativity to make appetising meals without jeopardising the diet. Sounds like a big challenge.

This blog will serve the biggest motivation for me to keep up with the diet. My goal is simple: lose that 4 kg.

Related posts:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Guess what are the green pods?

Mystery of the day

I love grocery shopping. I love checking out new things. In the case of supermarket, it's the vegetable section to see what is in season.

My last trip to the local supermarket Emart, I saw these green pods bagged in a small net bag. They looked like Edamamee at first. On second thoughts, they looked rather like sugar snaps.

I had never used sugar snaps in my cooking before. Wouldn't it be fun to cook with something different for a change?

Thus, I bought a bag of "sugar snaps" home and cooked them in a pot of boiling salted water. 3 or 4 minutes later, I heard loud popping sound coming from the pot. Could it be that the sugar snaps are ready?

I took a one out of the boiling water to try and chewed the whole pod. Realising how strange it tasted, I immediately spat it out in the sink. I splitted a second pod open and ate only the seeds. They are very delicious! A little crunchy and very starchy to taste.

Oh yes! Green peas!
They are usually sold in their seed form, canned or frozen. But never in pods like this. My experience reminds of Kevin Spacey in K-Pax, an alien eating banana together with its skin. Yuck! I wonder if he really chewed the skin.

I made a salad for dinner that night. It was a potato salad with salad greens and caramelized onions. I added a few tablespoons of shelled green peas to the salad. And the salad was extremely pleasant with the subtlety of green peas and caramelized onions.

Potato Salad with Caramelized Onions and Green Peas

For 4 servings

A few handful of mixed Salad Greens, rinsed and spun dry

A cup of fresh green peas, cooked in salted boiling water about 3-5 minutes until soft

8 small potatoes or 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cooked in salted boiling water until soft

Prepare vinaigrette and caramlized onions (recipes follow). Tear salad greens into bite-sized pieces. Arrange equal portions of greens on 4 plates. Place 1 or 2 potatoes on each. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of green peas over the potatoes. Top the potatos with caramelized onions. Drizzle 2 tablespoon of vinaigrette on the salad.

Caramelized Onions:

A large onion, sliced

2 tablespoon of Olive oil


Heat olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion slices and stir to coat evenly. Cook gently for 10 mins until brown, stirring the onions frequently. Season with salt.

French Red Wine Vinaigrette:

I tablespoon of French Dijon Mustard( Maille is the best in my opinion)

2 tablespoon of Red Wine Vinegar

5 tablespoon of Olive Oil

a pinch of salt

Icecat's quick method: Put all ingredients in a small zipbloc container( a cup size). Cover the container tightly with its lid, and shake it vigorously until the vinaigrette thickens into an emulsion. It should only take 5-10 seconds.

Traditional method: you can mix the mustard with red wine vinegar until a smooth paste. Pour olive oil slowly into the paste while stirring continously it with a small whisk/spoon. Season with salt. It takes around 2-3 mins to prepare.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Meat in Korea

Meat is priceless in Seoul. You would be lucky if you find some in your bowl!

I learnt it the painful way after going to a Chinese restaurant near my house for a casual dinner last year. It was my third time there. The last 2 times I got noodle soups less than 6-8 usd each. The seafood noodle soup(Jampong) had plenty of toppings; however, the chicken noodle soup had basically noodle and broth only.

That rainy evening in winter, I craved so badly for big chunky meat. I could eat a cow! So I told myself to splurge and I ordered the cheapest meat dish I can see in the Chinese menu. That was Stir fried Beef with vegetable at a price of 22,000(22 usd). All right!

When the waiter brought a plate of,what seems like to me, stir-fried noodles with shredded veggies. I explained to him in a mixture of very broken one-word Korean, some body language and English, that this wasn't the dish I ordered.

To my dismay, he insisted that it was what I ordered. To prove that he was wrong, I picked up my chopsticks and raked the noodles in search for beef. With no evidence of chunky beef in the dish at all, I smiled at him and asked him, " Solgogi, Odi-yo?", which translated into "Beef, where is it?

He took my pair of chopsticks and picked up a few strands of something which I realised was beef. My jaws dropped to the ground immediately, too numbed to response.

From then onward, I would go straight to the supermarket to get meat whenever I have meat cravings. Indeed there is some meat in regular meals in food courts or restaurants - they are very thinly sliced meat, very minced meat(as in meat dumplings), processed meat(Spam, ham, hotdogs) and canned tuna.

In response to this incident, I would like to share with everyone my interpretation of Ginger Beef Stir-fry, remade in my kitchen.

Icecat's Ginger Beef Stir-fry

Annyeong! Pikachu Im-ni- da!( Hello! My name is Pikachu!)

"Would you like to eat me?"

These lovely Pikachus were found in Seoul, stuffed with vanilla cream and strawberries in their mouths.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Preparing Crepes in Seoul

High fruit concentration jam!

Some European Jams found in Emart Yangjae, Seoul. I like St Dalfour Four Fruit Jam which doesn't contain any sugar. It's purely fruits and it is sweetened with grape juice. Extremely high quality jam. However, St Dalfour costs 5,500won( 6 usd) for a 284g jar.

Prima fruit jam from Italy contains 55% fruit and you can see lots of chunky fruits in the jam. You can choose from a variety of fruits: cherry, raspberry, apricot, strawberry and peach. The price is only 2,500won. A real value of money!

Forget about Nutella!
I found Nutella spread to be insanely priced in Seoul. A 400g jar has a hefty price tag at 6,000won(6.5 usd) at Emart. Ouch!

A shot of espresso with some hot crepes. That's how breakfast should be everyday!

French Crepe Recipe:
4 eggs
2 cups of flour
2 cups of milk
1 tbp of oil
3 sachets of vanilla sugar (20g total)
1 tbp orange flower water
pinch of salt
Butter to cook

Mix all the ingredients together and let it rest for 30 mins before cooking it.

Melt a teaspoon of butter on a crepe pan on medium heat. Add a ladle of crepe mixture to cover the pan thinly. It should sizzle or else the pan is not hot enough. Cook each side for about 1 min until light brown.

Serve immediately with some fruit jam or Nutella.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Mad about Cla-fou-tis

Clafoutis aux Abricots

I first saw it in a French bakery in centre ville in Toulouse where I was studying French. It was a baked custard covered with lots of dark red cherries with a shiny clear glaze in a pretty white porcelain ware. Looked like a tart without crust. No doubt my French was pretty poor back then, I was able to get the pronunciation right!


Such a beautiful name! I decided to research online for the recipes. That was the start of my unfounded love of Clafoutis.

Clafoutis is traditionally made with unpitted cherries. So if you happen to eat some Clafoutis Aux Cerises, keep that in mind!

Clafoutis aux Abricots

For 4-6 servings:
400 g of canned apricot halves
3 eggs
300ml of milk
3 round heap tbsp all-purpose flour
60g sugar
1 tbsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp rum

Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius. Grease a 10in x 8in cake pan.

Beat eggs with sugar until the mixture becomes creamy yellow. Add flour and continue mixing until the mixture is smooth. Add milk, vanilla essence and rum. Mix well.

Arrange the apricot halves on the greased pan, with the cut sides facing down. Pour the egg mixture over the apriocot halves and bake the Clafoutis in the oven for 30-40 mins until the top is golden brown.

Serve it hot or cold. If you have luxury of having some raspberry coulis in your fridge, you can drizzle some on the side of the Clafoutis when you serve it.