A guide to choosing your beef cut

different parts of a cattle, beef cuts, steaks

CHUCK: Blade Steak, Eye Steak, Arm Roast, Blade Roast, Short Ribs, Flatiron Steak, 7-Bone Roast.

The chuck is a rectangular cut of meat that sits above the rib and part of the shoulder, containing connective tissue (including fat and collagen) which partially melts during cooking. Chuck steaks can be somewhat tough, and the grain of the meat may be different even within the same cut of meat. Examples of chuck steaks include the chuck eye steak, shoulder top blade (also called flat iron steak) and shoulder steak.

With chuck steaks, the challenge is to soften the tough meat to enjoy the excellent flavour, which has a great balance of meat to fat. Typically, chuck steaks are marinated before cooking, which helps soften the meat. Stewing, slow cooking, braising, pot roasting or grilling are favored methods of cooking chuck steak, helping to further soften the meat and make it tender when served. This cut is also one of the most popular for making ground beef, so it’s also a favoured meat for meatballs and burgers, and is one of the more economical cuts available.

BRISKET: Whole Brisket, Front Cut, First Cut.

Made from the breast or lower chest of the cow, brisket is a tough beef cut since it is a very “worked” muscle. This cut allows many cooking methods. Here are some common cooking preferences:

  • It can be cured and made into pastrami or corned beef.
  • Braising is very popular, allowing the meat to first sear and then simmer to tender, flavorful perfection.
  • Smoking is also very popular, first marinating and then slow cooking the meat over wood or charcoal slowly until it is practically fork tender. Kansas City barbecue is a particularly famous version of smoking in which the meat is slow smoked and then covered in a thick barbecue sauce with tomato and molasses, and it works splendidly with brisket.

FORE SHANK: Shank Cross Cut.

Taken from the upper leg of cattle, the fore shank is a relatively long and flat cut of steak from the low abdominal muscles. It is characterized by its grain, which features long, string-like fibers running through the steak. Though extremely flavorful, the flank steak can be a tough, dry, and sinewy. The meat is commonly cooked in moist heat or used to create beef stock.

Since not many people buy beef shank, it’s not typically found in stores as anything other than low-fat ground beef. It is fairly cheap in butcher shops though, and an ideal cut for beef bourguignon.

SHORT PLATE: Skirt Steak, Plate Short Ribs.

Short Plate, also known as “Plate cuts”, are from the underbelly of the cow, and are made of tough, fatty meat — usually from the cow’s diaphragm. The short plate produces types of steak such as the skirt steak and hanger steak, as well as short ribs. It’s characterized by its high fat content and the large amount of cartilage that’s in this cut.

The challenge with the plate cut of beef is to maximize all of the flavour from the high fat content but minimize the tough texture. Braising is a fantastic choice for beef plate, softening everything and allowing the fat to flavor the entire dish. When served in a light broth or sauce espagnole, it’s a thing of great beauty. Marinating and pan frying the meat is also quite popular, and skirt steak is often used in dishes such as carne asada. They’re typically used in stir fry or fajitas.

FLANK: Flank Steak, Flank Steak Rolls.

Flank steak is from the abdominal muscles of the cow. Because it can be tough, the cuts are grilled, pan-fried, broiled, or braised for tenderness, and are often marinated as well. Like plate cuts, flank steak is common in stir fry and often used in Asian cuisine.

ROUND: Round Steak, Round Roast, Rump Roast, Tip Steak, Tip Roast.

Round cuts are taken from the leg and backside of the cow. It is round in shape because of the part of the leg from which it is cut, and may or may not come with the bone still connected. “Eye” round, bottom round and top round are the different types.

Because there’s minimal fat marbling, many chefs make burgers or sausages from the inexpensive beef. It can also be slow cooked in moist heat (like braising), or sliced thin and dried/smoked at a low temperature to make jerky.

SIRLOIN: Sirloin Steak (Flat Bone/Round Bone), Top Sirloin Steak, Tri-Tip Roast.

This is the rear, back portion of the cow, continuing behind the section from which short loin cuts. The sirloin is divided into a few different cuts, the most prized of which is the well marbled top sirloin, which is often marketed under that name. The bottom sirloin is larger but less tender, and generally cheaper. In general, sirloin cuts are good in flavor and less expensive than short loin cuts.

Sirloin cuts make sirloin steaks or tri-tip roasts/steaks (commonly called “culotte”), which are chewy, but very flavorful. They’re found near the rear end of the cow and are a great value. Sirloin cuts are often labeled by the bone they contain: Flat, round, wedge, or pin

Sirloin steaks can be cooked in a variety of ways. Because they are not too tough, they don’t need to be marinated before cooking. They can be pan-fried on the stove, grilled, broiled and roasted. It’s a great steak to serve with a potato or homemade pasta on the side.

LOIN:  Top Loin, T-Bone, Porterhouse, Tenderloin, Fillet Mignon

This cut comes from the back of a cow, below the ribs but before the rump, including part of the spine and the top loin and tenderloin. Cuts of steak that come from this region of the cow include porterhouse, strip steak and T-bone. Steaks from the short loin are desirable with their extremely tender texture and superior flavor.

To let the flavor shine, you want to do as little as possible with steaks from the short loin. While simple dry heat methods, such as grilling or pan frying, are best, this doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative with your cookery. Crusting the steak with pepper or spices, or serving with compound butter or a delicious sauce can make this a simple but stellar meal.

RIB: Rib Roast, Rib Steak, Rib Eye Steak, Rib Eye Roast, Back Ribs.

Ribs are generously marbled, so they have an extremely tender, fall-off-the-bone texture and full-bodied flavour. Smaller cuts like rib-eye steak are best for grilling and pan frying, large cuts like standing rib roasts are good for roasting, and short ribs are best braised.

Because it’s so tender, beef rib is well suited for various forms of dry-heat cooking, and does not require marinating. In French cooking, it’s called entrecôte, which translates as “between the ribs,” and it’s often served with a compound butter or delicious brown sauce.

 

Read more

Feed your beef

The type of feed fed to the cattle will determine the quality, flavor, marbling and grade of your beef. The main feedstuffs fed to cattle include:

  • Hay (grass, legume, or grass-legume mix)
  • Grain (corn, oats, barley, wheat, rye, and triticale)
  • Silage (corn [referred to as “insilage”], barley, winter wheat, rye, winter rye, triticale, oats, pasture grass)
  • Total Mixed Ration (TMR) – fed to dairy cows and contains a mix of primarily alfalfa hay, barley/corn/oats grains, and corn silage.
  • Grass, the cheapest and most efficient “feed” that can be “fed” to cattle. All you have to do is plant fence posts, and determine how many head you need to stock your pastures with!

So how does each feed impact the flavour and quality of your beef?

Hay

If properly grown, cut at the right time hay, cattle fed, cow food(while plants still have high nutrient content, before mature and dry), properly cured and carefully stored to prevent weather damage, hay can be excellent feed for cattle, supplying all necessary nutrients. Legume hay has more protein than grass hay, and some grasses have more protein than others. Good grass hay that’s cut while green and growing can have a higher protein content than legume hay cut late. For optimal quality, hay should be cut before it is fully mature (before legume bloom stage and before heading out of grass seeds). If you cut hay when about 15 percent of the plants have bloomed, you get better volume and still have good quality. Good hay is green and leafy with small, fine stems.

Native grass hay has energy values comparable to legumes if harvested at the same stage of maturity, but about half the protein. Legumes such as alfalfa may have 50 to 60 percent total digestible nutrients (TDN), whereas mature grass hays have 45 to 50 percent TDN. Grass hay can be lower in phosphorus and is always lower in calcium than alfalfa, but a combination hay made up of alfalfa and grass is better for beef cows than straight alfalfa hay.

The amount of hay needed for an animal varies depending on age and size, body condition and so forth. Evaluate the condition of the animals and decide whether they are wasting hay or cleaning it up. If hay is unpalatable (i.e., coarse or moldy) or wet, some waste will occur even if cattle aren’t getting enough to meet their needs.

Graingrains, cattle feed

The microbes in the rumen of a cow eating only forages are adapted to digesting primarily cellulose. IF this animal were to ingest a large amount of starch containing feeds (much like you eating a large amount of candy on Halloween) it would be a shock to the system. However, the microbes in the stomach have the ability to shift and adapt to digesting starch as a portion of the diet. Given an adjustment period – switching the animal’s diet from primarily forages to concentrates – the microbe population adjusts and the animal is able to utilize that energy more efficiently on a diet that includes high-energy feeds like cereal grains.

Cattle digest cellulose from forages into fatty acids for building blocks

When this switch in diet is done rapidly, the pH (acid) of the rumen is disrupted, causing a condition called acidosis. This may be what many people refer to when claiming that feeding cattle corn makes them sick. This is something that cattle farmers try to avoid, but when it does occur, acidosis can be corrected by adding more forage to the diet and paying close attention to the transition in diet. Corn does not make up 100% of the diet. The diet of cattle is usually a mixture of many feeds, mixed in the correct proportions to give the animal what it needs for its stage of growth or production.

Cattle digest starches from grains into fatty acid building blocks

So to wrap it all up, yes cattle do eat corn, many other cereal grains. They love these feeds. Don’t believe me? They will run you over for it. These feeds are good for them because they are a great source of digestible energy for cattle growth, reproduction, weight gain, and any other metabolic processes.

Silage

Although high-quality silages alone can be used to finish cattle, they are often fed with grain. The higher the quality of silage, the lower the quantity of grain will be required. A decision on the proportion of concentrates or grain to be used in the diet will depend on:

  • target growth rates required (and the ME content of the diet required to achieve it);
  • the quality of silage available;
  • the relative costs of silage and grain;
  • the quantity of silage available;
  • the availability of equipment and feeding facilities to handle high silage/ low grain diets; and
  • whether the length of the finishing period (‘days on feed’) is an important consideration.

Silage as a supplement to pasture

Pasture silage

Good liveweight gain responses have been observed where high-quality silage has been used to supplement poor-quality pasture. A study in Australia showed that liveweight gain increased by 0.8kg per day for each kg of silage DM consumed, when finishing steers. Silage supplements can not only increase animal production per head, but can also reduce pasture intake, allowing an increase in stocking rates. A study showed that silage feeding reduced pasture consumptions by approximately 1.1kg per kg of silage intake. The balance between stocking rate and area set aside for silage production is an important consideration in beef grazing systems.

Maize silagemaize silage, corn silage, silage, cattle feed, feed mixture

When fed with urea and minerals, maize silage can support up to 1 kg a day or higher liveweight gains. It can also sustain high liveweight gains when fed in combination with pasture. Again when fed as a supplement, the liveweight gain achieved will depend on the quality and quantity of silage and the availability of pasture. Supplements of maize silage can mean a significant increase in stocking rates, whilst maintaining a similar liveweight gain per head. A study in Australia showed that on irrigated pastures, providing a maize supplement of 2.4 kg DM/ head/ day allowed a doubling of the stocking rate and increased the liveweight gain from 1.4 to 2.7 kg/ hectare/ day.

Beef producers need to not only consider production per hectare but also production per head when finishing animals to market specifications.

Protein supplements when feeding low-protein silages

When feeding maize, sorghum and whole crop cereal silages it is important to consider the risk of inadequate levels of protein in the diet. If they make up more than 30 per cent of the diet and the protein levels fall below seven percent DM then a protein supplement will likely be required.

The level and type of protein supplement will depend on the age of the animal, and the contents of the various dietary components. In a UK study it was found that the crude protein content of the maize silage was considerably higher (10.7 per cent of DM) than seen in typical Australian maize silages (6.5 per cent of DM). This higher content was sufficient for a liveweight gain in steers but younger cattle required supplementary protein. This can often be supplied as protein nitrogen through lucerne hay or less effectively, urea. Research shows that supplementary nitrogen received as protein nitrogen achieves higher liveweight gains than non protein nitrogen such as urea.

Mineral supplementation when feeding silage

If silage is a major proportion of the diet and mineral levels are low, producers need to assess the mineral status of the diet and determine whether a mineral supplement is required.

Mineral content can be influenced by soil type and fertiliser application. Strategic use of fertiliser may improve the mineral status of the forage so that purchasing mineral supplements may not be necessary.

Silage as a drought (or long-term) reserve

Silage can be a drought strategy on some beef properties. Studies have shown that it is an effective strategy when grain and roughage prices are high. When silage is only used as a drought reserve economies of scale are more difficult to achieve as overhead costs can be high when spread over a relatively small tonnage of silage.

Silage costs will be lower where it is used as part of the ongoing production feeding strategy and where it is made and fed in most years. The drought reserve can be intergrated into the normal silage production with larger quantities reserved in good years.

Although many will argue that the quality of any food in a drought is unimportant as any feed is valuable. high quality silage will allow for full production feeding, providing greater management flexibility in a drought. Silage kept as long-term drought forage reserve must be well preserved.

Silage feeding and meat quality

Diet can influence the fat deposition in a carcase which reflects the energy content of the diet. Studies have shown that the fat content of the carcase increases with the ME content of the diet. Observations from a number of studies investigating the effect of silage quality of carcase traits and meat quality said the following:

  • With mixed silage/ grain diets, carcase fat colour, meat colour and marbling in yearling steers (mean carcase weights 210-220 kg) were not influenced by proportion of silage in the diet.
  • Where maize silage has been used as a supplement to pasture, fat colour, meant colour and marbling were not influenced by maize silage supplements (mean carcase weights 213-263 kg).
  • No taste panel tests have been conducted to appraise the eating quality of meat produced from silage fed animals. However, measurements of the physical properties of the meat from animals in the experiments showed no treatment differences. In addition, overseas studies have shown acceptable eating quality for meat from animals finished on silage-based diets.
  • Studies in Australia (mean carcase weight 241-252 kg) saw that where silage and grain were compared as supplements to pasture, showed there were no effects on fat colour, meat colour or marbling.
  • If animals are maintained on a poor-quality diet prior to slaughter, muscle glycogen resources can be low, and the risk of dark-coloured meat is increased. This applies to any low-quality diet, including low-quality silage.

Grass vs. Alfalfaalfalfa, cattle feed

Alfalfa (green or fed as hay) is good feed for calves or young cattle, lactating cows and pregnant cows in late gestation. But they don’t need straight alfalfa because they don’t need that much protein, and rich alfalfa with no grass or other forage to dilute it can cause digestive problems, diarrhea and bloat. A mix of grass and alfalfa is usually safer and healthier than straight alfalfa. On alfalfa pastures, feed a bloat preventive to keep from losing cattle.

Don’t feed dairy-quality alfalfa hay to beef cattle. It’s much richer than they need, and the risk for bloat is great. It’s also the most expensive alfalfa. For beef animals, feed first-cutting alfalfa if it’s the only roughage source, since it contains some grass and can be an ideal ration. The second or third cutting is just alfalfa — it grows back faster than grass. It has more protein than needed and should not be fed by to beef cattle by itself. It is an ideal supplement, however, for poor-quality forages such as dry pastures, poor hay or even straw. Cattle can do well on a mix of straw and alfalfa.

To avoid bloat, feed alfalfa with a high-fiber feed, don’t let alfalfa leaves build up in a feed bunk, allow plenty of space for all animals to eat at once (so some won’t overeat), and never let hungry animals eat leafy alfalfa or they’ll load up the rumen too quickly. Be cautious using wet alfalfa pastures or feeding wet alfalfa hay. Lush alfalfa (especially if it’s just a few inches tall and very palatable and tender) can quickly cause bloat, especially in early morning if there’s dew or frost on the plants.

Make sure alfalfa hay is not moldy or dusty. Some molds can cause respiratory problems or abortion in pregnant cows. Avoid stemmy, coarse alfalfa. Protein and nutrition is mainly in the leaves, so stemmy hay is less nutritious and low in protein. Cattle won’t eat it well; coarse stems are hard to chew.

Concentrates

There are two kinds of feed — forages, high in fiber (more than 18 percent) and low in TDN; and concentrates, low in fiber and high in TDN. Concentrates are dense, with more energy (more TDN) for their volume. They are also more expensive than forages, but have a higher percentage of easily digested carbohydrates.

Concentrates include corn, oats, barley, grain sorghum (milo) and wheat; dried distillers grains and corn gluten; wheat bran and beet-pulp (by-products of food processing); protein supplements such as oilseed meals; and liquid supplements (these usually contain molasses and urea, a synthetic protein, along with minerals and vitamins).

When feeding concentrates, remember that not all grains weigh the same. Feeding by quarts or gallons can get you in trouble. Weigh feeds, find out how much your scoop or bucket really holds in terms of weight for a particular feed, and recheck it when changing feeds. Making a change in a steer’s ration without adjusting for weight, for instance, may lead to digestive problems.

Supplements

If pastures are dry and hay quality is poor, cattle may not get necessary nutrition unless you add supplements. Many cow herds must be supplemented through winter. In northern areas, this means full feed if grass is frozen, snowed under or dried up; in southern climates it may just mean a supplement for what is missing in forage. In the Southwest, supplements may be necessary when hot or dry weather causes grass to become dormant and lose nutrition.

Supplements are sometimes needed not just because forage has become low in nutrients, but also because cows are eating less. As fiber levels increase with deteriorating forage quality, more of the woody part of the plant is left. As this type of fiber builds up in the rumen and slows down passage of feed through the animal, less space is left in the digestive tract. The animal cannot eat as much feed per day. So cattle are eating feed of low nutritional value and less of it. They lose weight unless supplemented.

What to Give as a Supplement. Cows without enough energy milk poorly and don’t breed back. But a high-energy, grain-based supplement is inefficient, expensive and detrimental to cows on poor pastures. Do not feed highly palatable grains and concentrates — cows will just hang around feeding areas waiting to be fed, spending less time grazing and increasing the amount of supplement needed. Because grain supplements are more palatable than dried-up grass, cattle want the supplement instead and eat less grass.

Grain supplements change the rumen microbe population, reducing the ability to digest fiber. If you supplement pasture with grain, cows eat less grass (wanting grain instead). Protein supplements more effectively augment poor-quality grass pasture.

With a protein supplement, cows will eat as much as 50 percent more low-quality forage or even 70 percent more poor-quality hay, but they must have adequate forage to supply the carbohydrates for energy. If you are wintering dry pregnant cows, this increase in feed consumption can enable them to maintain body weight. Always use natural protein (such as alfalfa or other high-protein plant matter) to supplement low-quality forages. Nonprotein nitrogen sources such as urea are not utilized as effectively by cows eating low-quality forages.

If you have a lot of protein-deficient pasture, choose supplements high in rumen-degradable protein like soybean meal, cottonseed meal or distillers grains. But if cows need more energy, use supplements composed of bran feeds that increase energy without limiting forage use. If short on grass, use traditional supplements based on cereal grains, which decrease the cow’s forage intake without reducing total energy.

Alfalfa hay is an economical protein supplement for cows in late pregnancy or after calving. Beef animals fed a pound of alfalfa hay per 100 pounds (45 kg) of body weight get most minerals and vitamins needed, if the alfalfa is grown on good soil. Alfalfa has a high level of calcium, important for young cattle and lactating cows. It’s a good source of carotene (which cattle convert to vitamin A), vitamin E and selenium, unless the alfalfa was grown on selenium-deficient soils.

 

Read more

5 reasons to include Portabello Mushrooms in your diet

Portobello also called Portabella is simply a brown crimini mushroom in disguise. Evidently the usage of these two terms is simply an issue of size. Once the little brown crimini grows to 4″ – 6″ in diameter, it is deemed to be a portobello. Portobello in Northern Italy is called “cappellone” which means “big hat”. The origin of the name is unsure as there are as many “origins” as there are experts to quote them. The most important thing to know is that it is essentially the big brother of the little brown mushroom.

  • Portobello mushrooms are FAT-FREE and very low in calories (we had to highlight the amazing fact that it is fat-free.) Portobellos take up a lot of space, but they do not contain many calories. This make them low energy-density foods. A 100g serving contains just under 30 calories.
  • They are also a rich source of selenium and copper. One cup of diced portobello mushrooms contains 16 mg of selenium and 0.25 mg of copper. These values represent 28 percent of the recommended dietary allowance for both minerals.
  • Our body does not store niacin or vitamin B6 so it is essential to get a regular supply through our diet. Portobello mushroom is a good source of Vitamin B6 and Niacin. Niacin helps metabolize food into energy and also synthesizes fatty acids while Vitamin B6 is involved in more than 100 chemical actions throughout our body – from helping to metabolize amino acids to producing neurotransmitters and supports the immune system.
  • Portobello Mushrooms have moderately high amount of fiber. A 100g serving contains just over 2g. Fiber is a key substance for controlling cholesterol and blood-sugar levels. It also has a filling effect on the body, which is beneficial for weight maintenance.
  • It has a moderate amounts of potassium and phosphorus. A 100g serving contains 437mg of potassium and 135mg of phosphorus; the recommended daily value is 4,700mg and 700mg respectively. Potassium and Phosphorus are important minerals. Potassium helps with muscle contractions, nerve function and acid-alkaline balance, while Phosphorus is needed for bone strengthening and filtration of waste from kidneys.
Read more

Kimchi Pork Shabu Stir Fry

With a cooking time of 10minutes and a preparation time of 10 minutes, these are the best type of recipes to have on hand after a hard day of work and a table full of hungry people.  Kimchi Pork Shabu Stir fry is a relatively easy dish to prepare. The taste of this dish is hard to describe because you know what is going on inside your mouth , but you can’t find the words to articulate what makes this dish so yummy.

Ingredients

100g of pork belly shabu shabu
2 thinly sliced ginger
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
100g of kimchi, cut to bite-sized pieces
2 stalks spring onions, cut to 5cm length
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 dashes of white pepper powder

Directions

  1. Marinade pork belly with light soy sauce, sesame oil and white pepper for 5 minutes
  2. Heat oil in wok, stir fry ginger and garlic for 30 seconds. Add pork belly shabu shabu and stir fry until meat is cooked
  3. Add kimchi. Cover with lid and simmer for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and stir in the spring onions while the contents are still hot.
Read more

Coffee Rib Eye

We started browsing for intelligent recipes for steaks. Most recipes will feature black pepper, mushroom etc. Being Asian, we love a robust flavour and juicy tenderness of the meat. For this spice mixture, chef Josef Centeno, of Baco Mercat in Los Angeles, was inspired by the coffee rub his father used to make for grilling steaks. Basting with butter before transferring the pan to the oven helps bloom the dried spices and adds irresistible flavour to the meat.

We’re definitely looking at the Best of Both Worlds – Coffee and Beef.

Ingredients

 Spice Rub

2 tablespoons Aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons finely ground coffee beans
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Steak

1 400g boneless beef rib eye, preferably dry-aged, at room temperature for 1 hour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil, divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
4 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
Flaky or coarse sea salt

Directions

Spice Rub

  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Transfer to an airtight container. DO AHEAD: Spice rub can be made 1 month ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Steak

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (approx 200°C). Set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet. Season steak with kosher salt and 2 tablespoons spice rub, pressing onto all sides of meat and adding more spice rub by the teaspoonful if needed to coat entire surface.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet over high heat. When oil begins to shimmer, place steak in skillet (be sure to have fan on high; the rub creates some smoke). Sear steak for 1 minute (any longer and the rub will start to burn). Transfer steak to a plate and carefully drain fat from skillet.
  3. Wipe skillet clean with a paper towel. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in skillet and sear other side of steak for 1 minute. Add butter, garlic, and herbs to skillet; cook until butter is foamy. Carefully tip skillet and, using a large spoon, baste steak repeatedly with butter for 1 minute. Turn steak and baste other side for 1 minute.
  4. Pile herbs on top of steak, transfer skillet to oven, and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center of meat registers 125° for medium, 15-17 minutes.
  5. Transfer steak to prepared rack; let rest for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

 

Read more

Black Sesame seeds with prawns

Ingredients

1/2 tbsp black sesame seeds
1-2 tbsp of oil
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250g raw prawns, peeled
200g water chestnuts, drained and thinly sliced
125g snow peas, trimmed
2 tbsp vegetable stock or water
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce

Directions

  1. Dry-fry the black sesame seeds in a small pan over medium heat for 1-2 min or until they are fragrant then set them aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and stir-fry the garlic over a medium heat until it is lightly browned.
  3. Add the prawns, water chestnuts and snow peas. Stir-fry over high heat for 1 – 2 min. Add the stock, soy sauce and oyster sauce and stir-fry for another 2 -3 min or until the prawns turn pink.
  4. Stir in the fried sesame seeds and serve

 

Read more

Crab Bee Hoon Soup

So when we first launched our newsletter series of recipes FreshGrill, we sourced for recipes from either grandmas and the wonderful world of internet. We wanted to introduce recipes that were accessible and easy for our readers to use in a regular Singapore kitchen. That being said, there are many recipes that include herbs and spices that are not commonly found in our regular supermarket although being Asian, we know that most kitchens would have all the usual soy sauce, shaoxing wine, fish sauce etc.

So we tried and test many recipes to ensure that the ones we feature and recommend will work for you. We might even substitute some ingredients in the recipe that we are sure will alter the result to suit the local taste bud. And even if you do not have one of the items listed in the recipe, these are items that are very accessible.

In case you missed the first issue of the newsletter, we’ve included this recipe for Crab Bee Hoon, tried by Evelyn for her dad’s 54th birthday last June. It’s so easy and popular that her family practically wiped out the whole pot! The number of ingredients require might scare you a little but have faith in us, try it because it’s really simple.

Ingredients

1 kg mud crab, cleaned and cut into pieces
200g dried thick vermicelli noodles
4 tbs unsalted butter
6-10 slices of peeled ginger
3 cups fish/pork stock
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3 bunches of baby bok choy
1-2 stalks of spring onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tbs shaoxing/rice wine
1/2 tbs fish sauce, or according to taste
white pepper, for seasoning
fried shallots, garnish

Directions

1) Cook the dried thick vermicelli noodles according to the package till al dente. Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse them under cold water to remove the starch. Drain and set aside.

2) In a claypot or heavy-based pot, add the butter and allow it to melt. Add the sliced ginger and fry till fragrant.

3) Add the stock and bring it to a boil.

4) Then add the evaporated milk followed by the crab.

5) Cook for a few minutes until the crab turns red and is cooked. Add the baby boy choy, shaoxing wine, spring onion and season with fish sauce and ground white pepper. Bring to a boil, and add the rice noodles. Allow it to boil for a few minutes, garnish with fried shallots and serve!

Photo credit : Rasa Malaysia

Read more

Crab panang curry

Crawling up our sunny shores, the Mud Crab, aka Sri Lankan Crabs, are in season now! Crabs are a huge favourite in Singapore. The passion we invest in our crabs made us Singaporeans proud owners of many internationally sought after recipes such as the Singapore Chili Crab, Salted-Egg Crab, Rice Wine Crab Vermicelli, Butter Cream Crab, and the list goes on.

We previously shared a recipe for Salted-Egg Crab and I believe many locals are familiar with the other recipes too. We will definitely be sharing our own crab recipes in the coming week. However, we chanced upon this really interesting and yummy Thai Curry Crab recipe we really want to share with you. Being geographically close, this Thai curry dish was influenced by Penang’s cuisine.

Ingredients

2 fresh crabs (about 1kg – 1.5kg), chopped
2 cups (16oz, 500ml) thick coconut milk
4 tbsp panang curry paste
2 tbsp palm sugar
2-3 tbsp thai fish sauce
7 kaffir lime leaves
1/2cup (30-45ml) fresh basil leaves
3-5 red chilli padi, sliced

Directions

Heat the oil in a large pan set over medium heat. Add Panang Chilli Paste, stir constantly until fragrant. Add the crabs, chilli, fish sauce, palm sugar, kaffir lime leaves, basil. Stir continuously to ensure that the crab is coated nicely with the spices. Add coconut milk, stir for 3-5 minutes to prevent the coconut milk from separating from its natural oil.Simmer for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

*Panang Chilli Paste can be found in most thai provision shops in Singapore.

Photo Credit: Elra’s cooking

Read more

The Dairy-Free Store Cupboard

Switching your eating habits can be quite a chore especially when you are out with your friends and requesting for restaurants to put your dressings or sauces on the side or checking with the chef if there are certain ingredients that should not be in the dish. It can become tedious and quite a pain especially in social settings. From experience, it is always good to plan ahead to prevent any lapse in your meal planning.

When you have the choice of cooking your own meals, it is best to plan ahead, stock your fridge with versatile ingredients and you’ll always be read to make a wealth of delicious dairy free meals and desserts or whatever you need to cook up.

Almonds

A rich source of calcium. Without milk in the diet, you need 1000-1300mg per day depending on your age. Sprinkle flaked almonds on your oatmeal or cereals in the mornings. Keep a bag of whole almonds on hand to snack at work. A better alternative to you Snickers or Kinder Beuno’s don’t you think?

Almond Milk

Unsweetened almond milk contains calcium and taste pleasant in tea and on cereal. It works well as a baking ingredient and works well as a substitute for cow milk.  Mixing lemon juice with almond milk is an alternative to buttermilk. Interesting fact huh..

Look for brands made with non-GM ingredients, fortified with vitamins like B12 and E and unsweetened.

Avocados

Avocados are extremely creamy and are also known as ‘butter pears’ . They are packed with nutrients like Vitamin E, iron and potassium and are a useful dairy-free ingredient. They can act as a spread on toast for breakfast replacing your butter and cheese.

Baking Margarine

We understand that when baking, unsalted butter is often used and for a dairy-free lifestyle , butter is just not going to cut it. We recommend using block baking margarine to make flaky pastry, short biscuits or cakes. It has a similar taste to real butter without the creaminess of real butter but the consistency is similar. Normally to add more oomph to baking margarine, we add vanilla extract or cinnamon. Doing this enhances the flavour of the cake or biscuit.

Cacao Nibs

Cacao nibs are little roasted chips of the cacao bean. They are usually ground into paste to make chocolate. They can be easily found in health stores. Don’t assume that they taste like chocolates though they are an important ingredient for making chocolates. They have an intense, earthy flavour-chocolatey but not sweet. They really are great. Packed with antioxidants and minerals including magnesium. Eat a handful as a snack, sprinkle onto cereal and porridge.

Cocoa Powder

Hey, a dairy-free diet does not mean you have to give up your favourite chocolate desserts. Quality cocoa that contains 70% cocoa does not contain cow’s milk , so you can use it in cakes and pudding or to make a hot cup of choco. Look for dairy-free or vegan brands that are guaranteed free from traces of milk.

Coconut Cream

The best substitute for double, clotted cream or thick cream. It is thick, luscious and has a mild flavour that goes well with vanilla extract.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk is great for curries, noodle dishes like Laska and incredibly useful in dairy-free cooking. It is pretty much a versatile cooking ingredient that you must have in your cupboard. For most cooking, it would be better to use full fat coconut milk.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil comes from the meaty coconut flesh and is solid at room temperature but meals with a little gentle heating. It is heart-healthy so don’t worry about the cholesterol levels. Look for extra virgin raw coconut oil. Great for frying and roasting vegetables.

Dairy free margarine 

To substitute for butter in cooking, baking and spreading, try a dairy free margarine.

Dark Chocolate

70% Cocoa solid dark chocolate is a key ingredient in many of cakes and desserts. Good quality brand shouldn’t contain any milk, so check the labels. Sometimes with cocoa powder, some brands may contain traces of milk so if you have a dairy allergy , look for specialised dairy free brands.

Dark Leafy Greens

Green Leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, spinach, watercress and Kai Lan are an excellent source of calcium. Add these vegetables to dishes whenever you can.

Mayonnaise

Good quality mayonnaise should not contain any milk. It is normally made with eggs and oil and eggs are not considered dairy.

Olive oil

Light olive oil makes incredible cakes-fluffy sponges and moist chocolate puddings. Good substitute for butter.

Sesame Seeds

Another excellent source of calcium. Sprinkle sesame seeds on yoghurts, salads, curries and whatever dishes that goes well with sesame seeds.

Spices

Spices are  a great addition to cooking and can be mixed with other ingredients to taste like dairy. Did you know nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla all add flavour to desserts and cakes missing the creaminess of butter?

Tofu

A good source of calcium. It takes on strong flavours easily. A great addition to curries, Thai or Vietnamese dishes.

Vanilla

Since we won’t be using a lot of butter and will be replaced with other products, vanilla extracts are needed to mask free-from products to add more flavour to the dish. This is why you need to use a good quality vanilla extract or vanilla powder.

Vegetable, groundnut, rapeseed or sunflower oil

Great to make light and delicious cakes.

Vegetable Shortening

Vegetable shortening is a solid fat that makes perfect crumbly pastry. Look for brands that don’t contain trans fat and that use palm oil from sustainable sources.

 

Read more

Learning to read the labels

It’s easy to cut milk and cheese out of your diet provided you check the labels of products as some do contain milk in different forms. Dairy shows up in an array of food products , from certain breads, salad dressings, chocolates, certain wines and health and fitness products.

Always check the label and look out for ingredients like the following:

– Buttermilk
– Casien
– Casienates
– Ghee
– Milk Protein
– Milk Powder
– Milk Solids
– Skimmed Milk Powder
– Whey
– Custard
– Natural flavoring
– Flavoring
– Caramel flavoring
– “Non-dairy” products may contain casein
– Rice cheese
– Soy cheese

Read more