Yesterday, I paid a visit to Amalia’s place to learn some basic survival skills for the modern, hungry city dweller.
It was an almost 2-hour journey to the East, where Amalia’s place is situated at. I am filled with a renewed sense of appreciation of the patience demonstrated by my friends who reside in the Eastern most regions of Singapore and make their daily community to NUS.
I was almost half an hour past our agreed start time of 2:30PM. Amalia invited me into her flat and greeted me warmly. I’ve missed seeing her around in PGPR. Her grandmother was at home too, casting me a sweet, toothy grin the moment I stepped into the kitchen.
A bright and spacious kitchen that was.
Prior to my visit, Amalia and I had chatted about what we wanted to make during our cooking session, a celebration of the ends of the longest internships of our lives. Knowing that I was vegan/vegetarian (I’m on the fences) and also an absolute rookie to culinary arts, she had conscientiously curated recipes which are simple and easy to pack.
We started off with the vegan brownie cake. Dry ingredients before the wet ones. Baking takes about 20 minutes so get that off the plate before everything else. Line the baking equipment with baking paper to make cleaning up a breeze subsequently. It’s all about injecting common sense into the work process.
Amalia gave great instructions and the occasional tips, gleaned off from her experiences. She punctuates her statements with a reassuring “um” and I feel like I’m in good hands.
And hence, my first ever baking product turned out magnificent:
While the brownie was baking, we prepared the main dishes. Water was boiled and angel hair spaghetti yielded to the wrath of the heat, coiling into golden strands writhing in the pot.
We tried our best to dehydrate the tofu before tossing them into a specially prepared marinade bath composed of a handful of different ingredients like soy sauce, sesame oil etc.
The red capsicum was subjected to extreme conditions in order to bring out its sweetness and softness, a “strange” method Amalia swore by.
I was introduced to the most basic of salad dressings:
a culinary sauce made mixing vinegar and oil and usually seasoning it with salt, herbs, and spices.
We made balsamic vinaigrette, which went perfectly with the sweet taste of peeled oranges, butterhead lettuce and shredded carrots.
What I came to realize is that cooking several dishes in the kitchen requires a certain sense of conscientiousness, coupled with time management skills. All of which Amalia does so very effortlessly, while rolling cooking tips off her tongue. I am in awe and very inspired.
The tofu was ready and it was time for them to meet the grill:
I live for the sizzling sound they emit when they come into contact with the hot pan, releasing their intoxicating fragrance like shrapnel which will then be lodged in the nostrils, setting off a cascade of reactions with the end product being a ravenous stomach.
Yes. Peanut butter is right.
It turned out tasting surprisingly well with the angel hair pasta, though it may appeal much more to the Western tongue. It was rather easy to mix too, once you’ve gotten the list of different ingredients that constitute it.
And there I have it.
It’s the first time creating a 3-course meal which tastes awesome.
A massive thank you to my passionate friend, Amalia Heng for taking the time and energy to show me that cooking isn’t that intimidating after all!