Goi Ga AKA Vietnamese Chicken Salad


So, DiniBlini, is still a food blog in it’s essence. Just that I haven’t been repping that side of it that hard, recently.

PZ sent me a picture of some amazing risotto she had made a couple of weeks ago – which she had served with what looked like an enticing salad.

Since I’ve never met a salad I don’t like I was all “Hayyyy what’s that? Is it tasty? Can I get the recipe??”

PZ obliged and sent me her version – which I promptly adapted – and messed up.

The first time round I made it, it looked like this:

Goi Ga close-up
Goi Ga close-up

Which is to say – it was GORGEOUS but I forgot to put sugar in the dressing and left the onions I had marinated in vinegar on the counter and didn’t put it in the salad. I also added the quinoa which I had prepared to make it a full meal on the counter and only added it after I was halfway through. Which made me sad. It also made me hate my counter.

The second day I prepared the salad – I was ready. Onions went in! Honey (I didn’t feel like sugar), went in! Quinoa went in! And it was great. This was a salad on a budget (Let’s face it Chinese cabbage is a lot cheaper than those mixed salad leaves) and it does a body (and wallet) good.

Serves 2 – or 1 hungry girl, twice

1 chicken thigh
1/4 tsp salt
olive oil

1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 – 3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 head of Chinese cabbage, about 500gm, quartered, cored and cut crosswise into 1/4″ ribbons
1 carrot, peeled and finely shredded
1/2 bunch chopped coriander/cilantro leaves
1/2 cup cooked quinoa

1 to 2 chillies, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Pinch of salt
1 tsp honey
4 Tbsps fish sauce
2 Tbsps lime juice
3 Tbsps water

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.

Toss the chicken with a bit of olive oil.

Lay it on the grill bit and bake for 20 to 30 minutes – flipping once halfway through.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Chop into bite sized chunks.

Original recipe: Fill saucepan half full of water, add salt, let the water reach a rolling boil on high heat, and drop in the chicken. When the water bubbles at the edges, remove from the heat, cover tightly and let it stand 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and reserve the stock for another use. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it by hand and let cool to room temperature.

Pound the chili, garlic and salt into a paste. Scrape into a bowl and add the honey, fish sauce, lime juice and water. Combine well.

Place the sliced onion in a small bowl, add enough white vinegar to cover the slices and let sit for 15 minutes.

Drain the onion, add it to the chicken, along with the cabbage, carrot, coriander/cilantro and quinoa.

Toss the salad with the dressing just before serving.


Goodness Bowl and Changes on the Blog

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I am no food blogger. I make food, I eat food, I enjoy food… but to say I am a food blogger is a bit… inaccurate.

That seems pretty rich coming from a person who uses the hashtag #ihaveafoodblog.

The thing is, I recently became friends with a colleague, Pei Zhen. Now, she’s a true chef and creator of food things. We were in the middle of our science comms jobs and then we started talking about food and man – when she started talking about food it was like you couldn’t stop her! She churns inventive ice-creams, packs fresh lunches for herself and her husband and has her own version of french onion soup (WTF?).

This made me think about my approach to food and the whole point of this blog.

I originally started this blog because I cook at home a lot – but the thing is, I hated cooking. So in order to change that I figured if I had a blog and celebrated what I cooked, that would change.

It did in fact, change. I love cooking now and it’s a respite from my life and my very busy mind when I do cook. However, I don’t try new things. I either cook recipes that I find online or that my Mom has taught me. I like following the path people have laid down when it comes to food – because they know what they are doing and I’m a busy person. Experimenting? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So, I’ve decided my food making posts are going to feature pictures, a story behind why I made that dish and a link to the original recipe, when there is one. Ala Cupcakes and Cashmere. Not that I’m anywhere near her popularity as a blogger. It just seems more genuine.

Also, recently, I’ve been doing more posts about my life, like this one about having an existential crisis, and the number of views those posts get are wayyy more than my food posts.

It makes more sense to explore and expand this part of the blog.

As much as I’d love to be a lifestyle blogger, I don’t have the budget for the clothes/food/travel (I think it’s called SWAG?).

Also, I love sharing what I think and how I deal. With all this 21st century bullshit that is currently making our lives so hard.

So in this installation of cooking and food, I came across this gorgeous bowl of goodness and I knew I had to have it. I actually did make it in time for Salad Monday, but the thing is, this isn’t a salad. It’s a bowl.

Everything is cooked. The quinoa comes alive with tumeric, fresh ginger and coconut oil. The carrots, beets and red onions are roasted with olive oil. The kale is mushrooms are sauteed with mirin and a splash of soy sauce. And finally the protein – chicken is baked with ginger and garlic and salt and pepper. It all comes together with an earthy sauce of miso, tahini and lemon juice. The original recipe features avocado and and no meat. But that’s all up to you.

Butter Cake with Coconut Lemon Curd

Cracked Cake! Not to be confused with Crack Cake...
Cracked Cake! Not to be confused with Crack Cake…

The motivation behind this cake – was a donut.

The motivation behind the coconut lemon curd – was a lack of tastiness.

Let me rewind.

So, Saturday last week, I awoke, slightly worse for the wear after… let’s call it, an enthusiastic Friday night.

The only solution was – brunch. And grocery shopping. Because I had to make food. And get on with my day. Because no matter how you feel – you gotta get shit done. Coz you’re an ADULT. See here for inspiration.

So, in my mind I had a game plan. I was gonna go, get the freaking groceries and get a donut from Starbucks. A glazed old-fashioned donut with a cup of black coffee. And life would be beautiful.

After getting all them groceries and ambling over to Starbucks, the semi-polite barista informed me they were out of donuts.


Since my entire plan for happiness, that Saturday, was precariously hinged on whether I not I ate that donut, I left said Starbucks knowing that all hope was lost.

I had nothing else to do but make butter cake.

Also I bought a lot of eggs. Butter cake requires many eggs.

All the batter
All the batter

I would like to tell you that after I hate-baked this cake I discovered that it was quite dry. This may be because I baked it like 10 minutes more than the recommended time. The batter was still jiggling – OK? The only thing I could do – obviously – was to then make lemon curd to go with it.

The curd!
The curd!

When life gives you lemons…

Butter Cake
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature – I used salted because I didn’t have unsalted. Don’t judge.
1 + 2/3 cup / 200gm all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup / 200gm castor sugar
4 eggs
½ tsp salt
4 Tbsps yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.

Grease a loaf pan with butter, line with parchment paper, and grease that. Foolproof dudes. Use this method when baking.

Sieve the flour and baking powder together, stir in the salt.

Use an electronic mixer, unless you want to hate your life, to cream the butter and sugar together until pale yellow in color.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Add in the vanilla extract and mix well.

Fold in the flour. I did this by spooning the flour in and making a “figure 8” shape with my spatula. Mel told me to do this. It worked.

Add in the yogurt and mix.

Pour mixture into the baking pan and smooth down with a knife.

Bake until golden brown and no longer jiggly! About 40 minutes. Use a cake tester to see if cooked.

Reading this recipe properly now, I realize I baked it at the wrong temperature, so 40 minutes might actually work.

Coconut Lemon Curd
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (approximately the juice of 1 lemon)
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (approximately the zest of 1 lemon)
1/3 cup / 70gm sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup / 60g unsalted butter, cubed
4 Tbsps coconut milk

Measure out the lemon juice, zest and sugar into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves completely.

Whisk egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl until frothy and add the hot lemon mixture slowly. Whisk continuously to combine. Strain the mixture through a mesh sieve.

Return to the heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture sticks to the back of a wooden spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil.

Remove from the heat and add the butter cubes, whisking until fully combined.

Finally, add the coconut milk and whisk to combine.

Set aside to cool. Should keep in the fridge for about a week.

*Butter Cake and Coconut Lemon Curd from Rasa Malaysia.

A slice of buttery goodness
A slice of buttery goodness

Funny thing about this cake and lemon curd was, I really thought it was just kind of blahhhh but my flatmates ate it all. I guess one person’s butter cake can be another person’s chocolate chip cookie.

I make ugly food & it TASTES SO GOOD: Vol III

Hi friends! I’m back with the third installment of ugly food I cook and for some reason, you can’t get enough of!

I cook a couple of times a week and many times I look to the Internet Gods for guidance, advice and of course – recipes.

This installment is the longest I’ve ever done and features heavily on desserts… Clearly I need to stop pretending I live in a cold country and need sustenance in the form of sweet treats.

Because I live in Singapore and my ass needs sustenance in the form of raw green things. And some lean protein. But you know #details

SO. This time around I changed up the format. See the pretty pictures first and the ugly AND REAL pictures later.

You guys like reality? Right?

Classic Lemon Bars – Joy The Baker

This dessert, like so many others, was born out of a frenzy of denying my body sugar for days. Actually it might have been 24 hours. But as they say, same-to-same. I found the lemons in my fridge, stole my flatmate’s flour and baked these babies up. They might look questionable but I can actually say I pretty much ate ALL of this, by myself.

Healthy Quinoa Chicken Curry Bowls – Pinch of Yum

I always REALLY regret making Indian-fusion food or anything with the word curry in it. Why? It’s always insipid and then I crave my Mom’s food and then I crawl into a fetal position and cry. True story.

Ginger Walnut Chocolate Blondies – Joy the Baker

I have featured these babies before here, but before the editing and amateur “food styling” I attempted, they looked like this. They tasted friggin AMAZING though.

Goat Cheese and Blackberry Jam Grilled Sandwiches – Aamupalalla

I saw this grilled cheese, I had some left-over goat cheese, Hoi had just given me a mini-pot of strawberry jam – and I knew, it was meant to be. Stinky, cheesy and yummy, this baby was intense. Would I make it again? No. But do I regret it? No.

Chicken Shwarma Nachos – My Name is Yeh

I made these nachos for a girlie dinner and it went down like a hit. Looking back at these pictures makes me realize though that man – I have got to learn how to style food! Or accept that having a food blog might mean not eating the food you present on the blog. ANYWAY, this was very tasty and Molly Yeh’s original post on it is beautiful. I recommend taking a look.

Oatmeal raisin cookie baked oatmeal – Two Red Bowls

I saved the best, err ugliest, for last. A questionable textured breakfast that tasted pretty yummy, this baked oatmeal looked like the stuff of breakfast dreams, but in actuality looked CRAZY TERRIBLE. UGH.

I swear my food tastes good.


The original spinach salad + all the veggies
The original spinach salad + all the veggies

I have fallen back in love.

With eating salad!

I don’t know what happened but after I stopped trying to make eating salad a chore and devoted a bit more TLC to the process – I’ve started loving it. I’m literally just super excited to go home and eat dinner right now.

I put on some music.

Slipped into something comfortable.

Roasted some vegetables ahead of time.

Ok I didn’t do any of the above – but I did roast the vegetables.

And I was wearing my trademark too-ugly-to-be-seen-by-the-world-ever “home clothes.” You don’t want to know.

But I mean seriously – look, look, LOOK AT THIS

Veggies ready to be roasted - ALL the colors
Veggies ready to be grilled – ALL the colors

That happened yesterday afternoon. I roasted these beautiful babies and then I made some quinoa and the chicken and I just patted myself on the back.

Because that is the best Sunday my friends.

It seriously is.

My dinner prep for the week #winning
My dinner prep for the week #winning

Lemon and Red Wine Vinegar Kick-ASS Dressing – adapted from Martha Stewart
1 minced garlic pod

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp brown sugar
pinch of salt
a few twists of freshly ground black pepper
few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 Tbsps red-wine vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
5 Tbsps extra-virgin olive oil

Salad – you can decide the amounts you want, the chicken should work for about 2 servings
Baby Spinach
Broccoli / Pumpkin / Red Peppers / Carrots / Red Beets > any and all of these would be GREAT – also roast these the night before or earlier, just earlier, you need like 40 minutes
2 – 4 Tbsps Olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Grilled Chicken Thigh
1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked quinoa

First, preheat the oven to 175C/350C.

Cut whatever veggies you intend to roast into similar sized pieces.

Place on a tray and toss with olive oil, you decide the amount!

Season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking/browning/whatever.

Measure all the dressing ingredients into an old jam/mustard/whatever jar, as long as it’s glass. Shake vigorously.

Toss salad ingredients with the dressing.

It’s so good guys and the salad dressing = BEST.

My dinner tonight - yummm
My dinner tonight – yummm

Lazy Woman’s Chocolate Chip Cookies AKA Blondies

Tower of delicious-ness
Tower of delicious-ness

I know y’all, it’s Salad Mondays, I promised you a nutritious recipe of salad goodness that would inspire you to take on the world and your week.

But ALAS. It’s not to be because although I have a salad to present to you… it looks like this:

2015-01-31 14.26.22

In case you actually want to know what this is, it’s leftover chopped romaine, baked salmon with a simple lemon-garlic-oil dressing. Actually its crazy tasty. Just not very photogenic.

This past weekend I went to a barbecue and of course I had to take something because I have a food blog. If I didn’t take anything that would make me A) lose credibility and B) an asshole.

But I really didn’t want to take a potato salad, which is basically the easiest thing you can make for a group, and I didn’t want to make brownies because I recently have had some bad luck baking brownies. They’ve just been underdone and potentially salmonella causing.

What I really wanted was chocolate chip cookies.

What I really didn’t want was to spend my Saturday watching my oven.

Then I had a brainwave. Ages ago, when I was attempting to win host-of-the-year with my bruschetta bar themed brunch, I made this crazy easy batch of blondies for dessert. They took 5 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to bake and my guests kept raving about them like no other. I, on the other hand, was on the fence about them. They seemed so normal.

BUT they had chocolate chips and were easy so I thought – why not?

This time I decided to kick it up a notch. I started with browned butter and added some crystallized ginger for some kick (I’m totally lying, I have a bag of leftover crystallized ginger that I bought, like, 3 months ago that I can’t finish).

It turned out so amazing and so soft that they were demolished at the barbecue.

The next morning I woke up wanting more and made a whole new batch, sans ginger and with coffee stirred into the batter.

My body protested these bad decisions but my mouth did not. Coz DAYAMN.

1/2 cup / 113 grams butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet or bittersweet is fine)

Add-ins (optional):
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, chopped + 1/4 tsp ground ginger OR 1/2 Tbsp ground coffee

Preheat the oven to 175C/350F.

Generously butter an 8 by 8 square baking tin.

Cut the butter into even pieces and melt in a small saucepan over a medium fire. I suggest you whisk it so that it melts evenly.

Do this until the butter is light brown and smells nutty. This didn’t actually happen with me, but this is what the internet told me would happen. Mine just got very dark yellow and smelled quite good and coz I was scared of burning it, I stopped.

Wait for butter to cool till warm. Beat in the sugar until smooth.

Beat in the egg and vanilla. At this point, if using coffee, this is when you stir it in.

Stir in the flour and salt.

Stir in the chocolate chips and, if using crystallized ginger, this is when you stir it in.

Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. I personally prefer 25 because otherwise I find the middle is a tad runny.

It’s SO good guys. I’m like swooning just writing this.

*Adapted from smitten kitchen.

Ginger version
Ginger version

No-Inspiration Salad with Honey Dijon Dressing

Doesn't look too bad eh?
Doesn’t look too bad eh?

Recently I have been feeling extremely uninspired by all the food I’ve been eating.

That’s really weird for me.

I’m that person who plans my meals two days ahead of time. I literally hum and do a chair dance when I’m eating something I like.

But these days I’ve just been feeling like – whatever man, I’ll eat it for energy but who cares what IT is.

I don’t know what’s happened.

I’m sleeping well and I’m not crying randomly – so it can’t be depression.

Maybe I just want my mom’s cooking?

I really don’t know.

So last week when I had to make my Monday dinner I was all BLAH, I don’t want to eat this salad I’ve already planned, BLAH, everything SUCKS! BLAH, I HATE MY LIFE, BLAH!!!!

So then I basically chopped up all the vegetables I had left and a stray baked chicken thigh. Added some leftover quinoa. And had a pretty decent salad.

What’s a girl gotta do to stay discontent around here??

Serves 1 hungry girl

Handful of mixed salad leaves
9 cherry tomatoes, half
1/2 Japanese cucumber, chopped
1/2 avocado, cubed
1 grilled chicken thigh, cubed
handful of roasted almonds
1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Honey Dijon Dressing (Recipe courtesy Alton Brown) – this is for two servings
2.5 Tbsps honey
1.5 Tbsps Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Serve as a dressing or a dip.

Toss salad ingredients with the dressing.

Enjoy. BLAH.