Oct 16, 2016

How to make Honey Baked Chicken Wings

QQ is back from her hiatus. I'm now a proud owner of an oven~ I will be exploring different dishes using my oven every weekend. *keeping fingers crossed.* Well, there are hits and misses, so I will only share the "hits" with everyone. So far, I have tried baking honey baked chicken wings, potato chips, egg tarts and Chinese-style roast pork. I still have a long list of food that I want to try baking! Gambarimasu!

Now sharing with everyone, my first hit with my new toy-- Honey Baked Chicken Wings.

Ingredients needed

  • 16-18 Chicken Wings
  • 2 tablespoons of Manuka Honey or 6 tablespoons of Honey
  • 3 tablespoons of Oyster Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of Sesame Oil
  • 0.5 teaspoon of Light Soy Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of Chinese Cooking Wine

1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
2. Marinate the chicken wings and leave the mixture overnight in the refrigerator.
3. Preheat oven to 220*C.
4. Place the chicken wings on the grills.

Coat the tray with aluminium foil and place it at the bottom of oven, to collect dripping sauces and oil.
-QQ learnt this the hard way-

5. Bake the chicken wings at top 1/3 of the oven.
6. Bake for about 15 minutes.
7. Lower the temperature to 180*C and bake for another 15 minutes.

You may adjust the timing according. Do check the colour of the chicken skin. When it is slightly brown and charred, it's ready.

And there you go, a very fuss-free oven dish. Perfect for potluck parties~

Jun 14, 2016

Not Your Usual Kind of Ryokan- やすらぎの里(高原館)

For all health conscious ladies (and gentlemen), you may wish to embark on a different travel route in Japan. Different from the usual ryokan which offers onsen, good food (and huge quantity) and a huge stylish/ 和風 room. This ryokan is for health buffs who came for the common purpose: to be healthier or slimmer.

I've always wanted to give such ryokans a try after I read about it from Twitter and Naoko Takagi 高木直子's manga (or picture book?), I decided to plan a trip there. I chose やすらぎの里 (高原館), as recommended by Takagi sensei. There are 3 branches in all.

So what's different?

Unlike the usual hotel room or ryokan room, my room for one is actually more like my bedroom in my Japanese home. It is furnished like a regular Japanese room, and comes with a balcony and genkan. I could actually hang my clothes up to dry in the balcony.

There are two washing machines provided, so you can do all your washing over there at no additional costs. Drying costs ¥50 per round though. But then since I could dry them under the sun so I didn't use the drying machine at all.

At first there was some issues with the payment as guests have to make payment before the stay, probably because it was really popular and the stay isn't cheap. (Costs about ¥64000 for my 3-night stay, single room, detox course) But in the end as we were unable to resolve the overseas bank transfer issue, they allowed me to make payment upon checkout instead.

Unlike normal ryokans which provide accommodation, onsen and gorgeous food, this alternative ryokan (some call it a 断食道場 which literally means a training camp for fasting) provides various classes. We follow a schedule, rather strictly, as you probably already know Japanese are very punctual. There are about 2 exercise classes, both before meals. We have yoga classes (yoga mats are provided) and simple workouts outdoors. We also have interesting workshops like "How to do lymphatic massage", "How to eat properly" and meditation classes. The owner also came to give a talk on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. His tip? We do not need to make a big change in our lifestyle,as these big changes are usually not sustainable. We just need to make bite-sized changes to our lifestyle and slowly we can see a change.

I think my metal health was at its peak at やすらぎの里. I woke up naturally to the chirping of birds or rays of gentle sunlight. I could do my morning reading or squirrel-watching in the small garden right in front of my room. This is what city life can't offer.

In addition, they have a hot stone sauna room for three, one indoor onsen pool, one outdoor onsen pool, lots of reading material (in Japanese though), 2 foot baths (different aromas every day) and massage chairs for our usage.

Alternatively you can just watch TV in your own room too. The TV size is quite big. :p

For those willing to pay more, there's a massage chair in some single rooms.

If I can only share about the one thing that has changed for me, that would be learning to appreciate food. I eat slower now. Colleagues would know that I often gobble up my food in order to buy time to do work. Lunch time at work can be as short as 15 minutes, including queuing and buying of food.

Food seems to be so exceptionally delicious here. Especially their salads! I took down some of their recipes, and hope to replicate them at home. :) Mmm but to be truthful, I am unsure if it was because we follow a strict diet regime, so when it was meal time we were actually pretty hungry and food just tastes exceptionally well even though they are the healthier options. You know, less oil, less salt, less sugar. When I finally had fish on my last breakfast there, it tasted so good, I can almost gobble down the bones. LOL.

But then we have to give them credit, as all the sauces are prepared by the crew. They didn't use the usual prepackaged stuff. So that is perhaps the secret to mouth-drooling healthy food.

The volume and variety of food increases with time. I started with just salad and soup. Here are some photos of my detox course (the ones with more volume and variety).

We are free to leave the ryokan and classes are not compulsory too, so we went exploring in the afternoons. The staff recommends walks around the area (immerse yourself in nature, flower viewing etc), a trip to Akazawa spa, mountain hiking at the nearby hill 大室山, leisure walk around the lake etc. I went to visit the 大室山 and 赤沢日帰り温泉館. The nearest bus stop is about 10-15 minutes walk away. You can take the bus from 伊豆高原 station bus stop 1 too.

Crater on top of the hill. You can even try archery in the crater.

It can get rather cold on the hill. The wind is strong too. Remember to bring a cardigan with you.

If you're a onsen lover like me, then you have to visit 赤沢日帰り温泉館. Gosh, the view is awesome! Imagine an infinity onsen pool that overlooks the sea and mountains. The huge indoor pool, rotenburo (outdoor pool) and even sauna room all have access to that view. Isn't that awesome? If that's not enough to tempt you, they are well-stocked with DHC products, and there are 2 special DHC enhanced onsen tubs.

There's a free shuttle bus from 伊豆高原 station at the Yamamo Exit. Look out for a small blue bus. They also provide free return trips to the station.

They have a shuttle bus service to fetch us from the station at 13.10 every Friday (the day we check-in) to the ryokan. There will buses that fetch us from the ryokan to the station at 10.40am every day during our stay there too. However they do not have daily shuttle service from station to ryokan, so make use of the local bus instead.

That's probably what you have been waiting for, so was there any improvement after my 4-day-3-night detox trip? Well I definitely feel better. It was pretty stress-free over there, and everyone was friendly and nice. I lost about 1.5kg, and my body fats went down by a grade. And my body age went down by 1 year old too.

If you're adventurous and would like a different kind of stay, you can consider this course. I really enjoyed my time there, and would love to go back again, some time in future :)

Mmm but there's a prerequisite though, you would need to know Japanese to fully enjoy your stay there, since there's no one who is conversant in English over there. Ganbatte ne!

Jun 10, 2016

How to R&R in Atami

Onsen? Beach? Sea? Well look no further, you can find all these in Atami.

When I first arrived, I was quite surprised to find Atami located on hills or rather mountains. The town is relatively small and is built on a hilly area. Hotels concentrate in the onsen source or along the beaches. It is also very accessible. There is a comprehensive network of buses. And the bus stops are right in front of the attractions, which is not very common in Japan. The hotels also provide free bus services to and fro Atami station. Probably because Atami is gaining popularity amongst the seniors in Japan, such services are made available.

Where to stay?
I stayed at one of Itoen's hotels, Atami New Fujisan. It's a very old hotel. It's HUGE, with many rooms. Including the one at the Annex, there are three onsens, located on three different locations in the hotel. However the best part is the buffet dinner. For this season, it includes free flow of crabs! And the alcohol bar is also free flow. Alcohol selections include sake, wine, beer, and various kinds of Chu-Hi.

I managed to clinch a promotion, and only paid ¥7020 per night. It includes two meals, breakfast and dinner, and entrance to their three onsen baths. (Onsen tax of ¥150 per night is not included) Both breakfast and dinner are buffets.

If u prefer a hotel near the station, and it is not equipped with onsen facilities, u can easily find one which offer 日帰り packages.

Where to go?

    Sun Beach

    錦ヶ浦 Nishikigaura Cliff
錦ヶ浦 is over 80m high. These cliffs are formed by the lava of Taga volcano, which flowed into the ocean thousands of years ago.

    Kinomiya Shrine 来宮神社
Visit one of the oldest powerspot in Japan. 大楠, the largest tree in Honshu, is more than 2000 years old, and has a circumference of more than 23m!

To reach the Kinomiya Shrine, take the bus from bus stand 2 from the Atami Station and alight at Kinomiya Jinja Mae 来宮神社前 bus stop.

    Akao Herb and Rose Garden
At first I was quite worried as it rained the whole morning and that my visit to the park might be disappointing. Luckily when I reached the park, the rain has stopped! Though it is still misty, it adds a mysterious appeal to the park. The rain droplets actually accentuated the beauty of the flowers too. Do not have too high expectations though. They don't look too good on wide shots, but taken separately, they look good in macro shots. *hint hint*

You can also take part in their craft classes. They include soap making, Cologne making, pressed flowers card making and sand bottle making classes. They are all within 30min. I tried out the cologne making class. It took less than 10min, and costs about ¥900. You can bring back your craftwork too.

I would recommend ending the walk with some cakes at the restaurant. The cakes are delicious! Tea set comes with a hot or cold drink and a piece of cake. It costs ¥900. The pastas are quite disappointing though. So it might be better to have your lunch elsewhere.

I strongly recommend the Yu-Yu Bus 湯遊バス. It covers most of the tourist spots in Atami, and by paying ¥700 u get unlimited rides on the bus. The bus covers Atami castle, Sun Beach, Ginza, Akao Herb & Rose Garden and the port. There will be a guide on the bus too. You can buy the pass on the bus. Alternatively each ride costs ¥250. You can take the bus at bus stand 0 at the Atami Station.

If you stay at Atami New Fujisan too, the nearest Yu-Yu bus stop is 大湯間歇泉.

There is a ticket discount store near the station. Remember to check out the store before you buy any Shinkansen or train tickets. I saved about ¥120 for my JR train trip to Izu.

There are no huge coin lockers at the Atami Station. The biggest is hand-carry luggage size. You can leave your luggage with a store at Daiichi Building instead. Daiichi building is just opposite the station. Check with the Tourist Information Counter, which is also in the same building on which shop that is. It originally sells women's clothing, but now it doubles up as a luggage counter. I left my medium size luggage and a haversack with them for ¥600.

Sep 14, 2015

Makan Time at Kanda Wadatsumi ~ Shizuoka Special

Unagi, mikan, tomato, green tea, wasabi.... ah and unagi pie with ice-cream! *Drools*

If you are craving for Shizuoka food like me~ you should head down to Kanda Wadatsumi! From now to 26 September 2015, they will be offering authentic Japanese cuisine, with airflown produce from the Shizuoka prefecture.

They don't offer unagi pie dessert yet though. You can get the unagi pie goodness at Shunkado Unagi Pie Factory (Japanese)/ (English).

Thanks to the Shizuoka Prefectural Office based in Singapore, I get to try the dishes first-hand together with other lucky invited guests :)

First, let me introduce to you the most salmon-alike dish:

Don't they look like salmon sashimi? The texture is very similar, but the taste is less fishy. Guess what fish is this? It's the rainbow trout. They are farmed at Fujinomiya, the land of Mt Fuji. Therefore, the water used to breed them are all from Mt. Fuji. I highly recommend this to you if you usually don't take fish sashimi as you can't really stand the fishy taste. Enjoy the same goodness minus the fishiness.

Next introducing you to my most favourite dish of the day is the Deep Fried Rainbow Trout with Seaweed Glaze~

The seaweed glaze blends perfectly well with the deep fried rainbow trout. Wonder how they concoct the sauce?

My next recommendation is Shizuoka's tomato! Known as Amela Tomatoes, they are no ordinary tomatoes. To me, they are more like fruits, you know like melons, strawberries, and not vegetables, as you can just eat them on their own. It oozes sweetness. They are so famous for their sweetness locally (in Japan) that they appeared on TV programmes. That's how I came across them in the supermarket. Usually I just buy the cheapest to save up for domestic travel. From then I was a converted Amela Tomato fan. I missed Shizuoka's tomatoes terribly since I left Japan. Singapore doesn't (has yet...) import tomatoes from Shizuoka. But I heard the exporter is now working with suppliers to bring in tomatoes~

Once they are in, I can't wait to make this snack:
1. Slice tomatoes (not entirely)
2. Cut preserved plums into strips
3. Put a slice of preserved plum into the cut tomato such that it now forms the tomato-plum sandwich!
4. Refrigerate and serve cold

Probably lesser known to all gaijins, like us, one of Shizuoka many produces includes tuna. Try the Seared Albacore Salad, whereby albacore is a type of tuna:

This... you may have known. Shizuoka in particular Izu area is famous for sakura shrimp. I think the popularity of sakura shrimp is picking up in Singapore food scene. Now sakura shrimp sushi, etc, are more commonly available.

Sakura Shrimp Sushi from Ryoshi Sushi Ikeikemaru. Ryoshi Sushi imports sakura shrimp from Numazu (which is in Izu).

At the food tasting session, we tried Sakura Shrimp Claypot Rice.

It tastes a bit dry for me...

But I love the Sakura Shrimp Tempura with Assorted Vegetables. Sakura Shrimp goes very well with tempura vegetables. I would like to try remaking this dish at home!

And of course, you have to end it with melons as desserts!

Introducing you the Musk Melon of Shizuoka, known as Lion Melons. They easily cost twice and thrice the price in Singapore. So I will always handcarry one when I am in Shizuoka Prefecture~ Their melons are juicy sweet, and their skin is thinner than our tropical melons, so you get more melon meat, more juice, and more sweetness. I once had a melon for 2 dinners. That's how satisfying it was. :P (those were the days, when I lived alone in Hamamatsu.)

They offer Lion Melons in Kanda Wadatsumi too~ Go try it!

Bon Appetit~

How to get there?
Kanda Wadatsumi
50 Tras Street
Singapore 078989

Nearest MRT station: Tanjong Pagar Station
Nearest MRT exit: A

Kanda Wadatsumi holds various food fairs depending on seasons, as they are strongly supported by the Zengyoren Japan Fisheries Association, which represents all coastal fishermen in Japan. Do check their website/ facebook page for promotions!

Aug 10, 2015

How to make Braised Radish (Daikon no Nimono)

Daikon no Nimono 大根の煮物 is one of my favourite radish dishes. It's a flavourful side dish that goes well with rice. I've always wanted to learn how to make it. Thanks to Tjin Tjin, I managed to get the recipe for this dish. The following recipe is my adaptation of the original recipe from the NHK website.

Ingredients needed

  • Half a Daikon/ Radish
  • Rice
  • Water
  • 6g of Bonito Flakes
  • 3cm by 5cm of Kelp
  • 1 tablespoon of soya sauce/ shouyu
  • 2 teaspoons of mirin

Depending on your preference, you can adjust the amount of soya sauce. My version is not as salty as the Japanese version.


Rice water
1. Wash the rice.

2. Collect the water that has been used to wash the rice. I used the water that was used for the second and third rinse. Ensure that the volume is enough to cover all your daikon pieces when you boil them.

1. Boil water.

2. Add bonito flakes and kelp into the boiled water and continue to boil the mixture.

3. Sieve out the contents, leaving the dashi soup.

Daikon no Nimono
1. Boil the rice water.

2. Peel off the skin of the daikon and cut it such that they are about 2-3cm in thickness.

3. Cut a cross across both sides of the cut daikon.

4. Add the cut daikon pieces into the boiling rice water. Boil till the daikon becomes softer.

5. Pour away about half of the rice water.

6. Add the dashi soup to the mixture.

7. Add soya sauce and mirin to the mixture.

8. Continue to cook the mixture for about 30 minutes.

And it is ready to serve~

May 10, 2015

How to make Pan-fried Scallops with Crispy Toppings

While queuing to take photographs with Rie Fu (Japanese singer who sings many famous anime songs, including Gundam Seed Destiny, Bleach etc), ah.. I sidetracked... anyway, while queuing up, I saw this video which is on loop in the JCC Library. It is a cooking programme sponsored by Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Japan) [MAFF, for short], which shows how we can whip up many simple yet delectable dishes using Japanese agricultural and fishery produce.

And I was deeply attracted to the Herb Roasted Scallops recipe by MFAA. That led me to buy scallops from the supermarket on my way home, and the rest is history... tada...

Sidetrack: Most of my images hosted on this blog are linked via my facebook albums... so when facebook decides to change the links, my images get de-linked... :( Pardon for the disappearance of my images.. It will take time to restore them...

Based on the available ingredients & equipment (or lack-of, I do not have any oven) at home, I combined Gordon Ramsay's recipe with MAFF's recipe, to create the above Pan-fried Scallops with Crispy Toppings.

Here's how I did it:

Ingredients needed

  • Scallops
  • Cooking oil
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, chopped
  • Wholemeal Cracker Crumbs ( 2 - 3 crackers)
  • Chopped Spring Onions
  • Parsley

The original recipe uses breadcrumbs. As I did not have breadcrumbs at home, I substituted with wholemeal cracker, which I pounded to make crumbs.


1. Season the scallops with salt and pepper.

2. Heat up the frying pan. Ensure that it is hot.

3. Add cooking oil.

4. When the cooking oil is heated, add the scallops in clockwise directions. Pan-fry each side for about 1.5 to 2 minutes.

Watch the video below for Gordon Ramsay's instructions:

1. Melt the butter in the frying pan.

2. Add the chopped spring onions and garlic.

3. Add pepper for seasoning.

4. Add the wholemeal cracker crumbs. Stir and mix well.

To Serve
1. Add the toppings on the scallops. Add parlsey as garnishing to serve.

There you go~ Pan-fried Scallops with Crispy Toppings.

I will try with breadcrumbs the next time.

Hope you like this dish!

Dec 19, 2014

How to make Carbonara Pasta

If you would like to try making the carbonara pasta from scratch and not from using the readymade sauce sold at supermarkets, then do try out this recipe. This recipe is based on the Creamy Bacon Carbonara recipe from The Recipe Critic.

I always make carbonara pasta after making the non-bake oreo cheesecake, as I would have a leftover of 750ml of whipping cream. Ah.. sorry for sidetracking~

Back to the recipe~ Here's the successful product. I have made several attempts before achieving the creamy texture. Be careful not to get the scrampled-egg-like texture.

Carbonara Penne

And here's how to do it:

Ingredients needed

  • Penne
  • Boiling Water
  • 1 cup of Whipping Cream
  • 1/3 cup of Parmesan Cheese
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of pepper
  • Onion Slices
  • Mushroom Slices
  • Bacon Slices (thick cut & thin cut)
  • Cooking oil

You can replace penne with any pasta of your choice.


1. Fry the bacon slices.

2. Fry the thick cut bacon slices until they turn crispy on the sides. These will be stir-fried with the other ingredients.

3. Fry the thin cut bacon slices until they turn very crispy. This will be for the toppings.

1. Add a pinch of salt and a few drops of cooking oil into the boiling water.

2. Add penne to the boiling mixture and cook for the duration that is stated on the pasta packaging. Stir at times to prevent the penne from sticking to each other.

3. Drain the penne from the mixture.

Carbonara Sauce
1. Mix the whipping cream, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper together.

Carbonara Penne
1. Add cooking oil to the frying pan.

Though maybe not as healthy, but nevertheless very delicious... try to replace the cooking oil here with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the oil retrieved from frying the bacon slices.

2. Add onion slices and fry them till slightly brown.

3. Add mushroom slices and bacon slices (thick cut) and stir-fry them.

4. Add penne and stir-fry the mixture.

5. Add the cabonara sauce mixture, and stir-fry at low heat.

Here's the most tricky part. Remember to use low heat. And stir continuously to prevent the mixture from clumping together. Else it will end up looking like scrambled eggs instead.

6. Serve, and topped the carbonara penne with thin cut bacon slides.

And there you go~ Carbonara Penne made from scratch.