Sotong Kerabu (North Malaysian Squid Salad – EXTRA HOT)

Created by: Me

I first had a Kerabu in Langkawi. We just got off the boat from Penang and found this outdoor restaurant. I saw green mango kerabu on the menu. I had never had this salad from North Malaysia. This thing blew my head off! There was so much cili padi in the dish. I was sweating enough from the heat and humidity, then i seemed to lose the hearing in my right ear. It was sensational. I now make kerabu for that feeling. This salad is spicy, sour, sweet, citrusy, crunchy and smelly (belacan of course). YOU MUST TRY!

Let me know what you think, add a comment at the bottom!

Cuisine: North Malaysian


Crunchy Topping
Handful of dried shrimp

Handful of dried anchovy

1 nice big tbsp of the king of stench, belacan

A nice cup of peanuts (the ones with the skin on still)


Half cup of fresh lime juice

2 tbsp of palm sugar (gula Melaka)

1 tbsp or so of fish sauce


2 cups carrots julienned (I used purple, yellow and orange carrots)

2 red capsicum sliced fine

1 large turnip julienned

Half red onion sliced very fine

15 bird eye chillies (cili padi)

1 cup fresh mint leaves (can also add some Vietnamese mint)

Sotong (Squid)

500g fresh squid tubes

1 tbsp sambal belacan (Amount will depend on how hot sambal belacan is. Mine is home made and is a cracker 😛 )


Fry off the belacan, dried shrimp, dried anchovies and peanuts till warm and coated with the oil, not too long. Set aside.

Add the fish sauce and lime juice to the palm sugar and melt in the pan (or microwave). Let cool. You can put it in the fridge or freezer if you need it to cook quickly. You can add some sesame oil to this, though I didn’t tonight. Set aside.

Julienne carrots, turnip and capsicum. Add to a dish and mix with the chopped birds eye chillies. These chillies can be VERY VERY HOT. This salad was so hot that our hearing was affected… I seriously don’t know why people do drugs when you can simply take chilli. It’s a spectacular experience! Add half of the mint leaves. Set aside onion.

Slice the squid at the crease on both sides and slice into 2 inch length slices. Fry in the pan in some sambal belacan for a few minutes til nice and tender. DO NOT OVERCOOK SQUID. It is horrible, rubbery and you might as well leave it out.

Layer the salad on a plate with layers of the squid. I didn’t mix the squid in the bowl because it was still too hot.  Dress with the crunchy topping, more mint and red onion. Make sure you have a fresh lime on hand. Its beautiful to squeeze the fresh lime on top when you are about to eat it.

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Duck breast stuffed with pear, dried cranberries, raisins and hazelnuts on saffron quinoa with slow roasted tomato and kohl rabi chips

Created by: Me
Cuisine: French, Andes, German, Italian with a slight twist of Indonesian


This is a multicultural inspired dish and despite how complicated it sounds, it was actually quite easy. Stuffing the duck breasts is a simple procedure and the rest of the dish was quite straight forward. We were fortunate enough to have half a pot of chicken stock leftover from making Hainan Chicken rice last night. This made the beautiful sauce that went over the duck and quinoa.


Saffron Quinoa

1 cup white quinoa
¼ tsp saffron
½ red onion
1 clove garlic

Duck breast
2 duck breasts
2 tbs butter
1 cinnamon stick
1 pear, diced small
25 g raisins chopped
25 g dried cranberries chopped
60 g hazelnuts crushed
1 tsp fresh French tarragon

1 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 small bulb of fennel
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 small bunch of French tarragon
1 tsp green peppercorns
2 litres of chicken stock

Kohl Rabi Chips

2 kohl rabi
Oil for frying
Balsamic vinegar
Kecap Manis
Red onion

Roasted tomatoes


Rinse the quinoa a few times before soaking it. I soaked it for around 8 hours. Crush the saffron in a mortar and pestle and add it to the water the quinoa is soaking in.

To make the sauce you will need to have 2 litres of stock. We were fortunate enough to have more than that from the previous night’s meal. Fry the onions, fennel and garlic with the fennels seeds in some butter. Add the green peppercorns and then the stock. Add the French tarragon to the stock and let it simmer. You want around 100ml left in the pot and for it to start to thicken.

Dice pear and add to a pan of butter and a cinnamon stick. Just before removing it add the raisins, cranberries and hazelnuts. Remove from the pan and cool.

Use your finger to make a pocked between the duck fat and the meat. Slide the stuffing into the pocket. Be careful not to pierce the fat as well as breaking the fat from the meat along the sides. If you do this the filling will fall out.

Slice the kohl rabi and fry in some olive oil/or duck fat 😛 At the same time reduce some balsamic vinegar and kecap manis in a separate pan. Slice some red onion for serving. The red onion looks like as the purple colour of the kohl rabi starts to disappear once being fried. The red onion brings the colour back to the dish. Plate up as showin in the picture.

Fry off the onion and garlic in a pan, then add the quinoa. This should take around 10 minutes or so for the quinoa to be soft but still a little firm. You don’t want mashed quinoa. I added some extra virgin olive oil at the end for some gloss.

Fry the duck breast fat side down in oil/butter for around 3-5 minutes, til the fat side becomes golden. Turn over and cook for a few more minutes. I then wrap the duck in aluminium foil as this cooks it through just a little more. The duck breast should be golden on the outside, medium rare in the middle.

When plating up, slice the duck breasts into around 4 slices and place on top of quinoa. Strain the sauce from the pan, then add the sauce over the top. Add a roasted tomato for a nice red colouring on the plate.
Here is the finished product:Duck breast stuffed with pear, dried cranberries, raisins and hazelnuts on saffron quinoa with slow roasted tomato and kohl rabi chips.

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Stuck on what to make for Sunday brekky? How about a montrosity of a CLUB SANDWICH?

So I thought that before I get started on my sauces today i might as well make a decent breakfast. The thing I didn’t give consideration to was the fact that this breakfast was probably going to put me right back to bed. This is my barbecued club sanga. We bought some sourdough bread from a local place yesterday. The bread crumbled a little once toasted. I toasted it on the grill of the bbq. There just seemed to be nothing keeping the bread together. I used some chicken thigh fillets (more fat, more juice) 😛 I know, I know, I should be more health conscious but if you are going to have a club… do it properly! I used some beautiful bacon from Rumps Butcher in Meadow Springs. Fantastic butcher!

I picked a heap of mixed coloured baby spinach leaves from the garden which  was a nice colourful addition. The eggs were from over the neighbours place. They used to have a terrorist chook that would rampage through my vege patch but a fox got to it before I could get it on my Weber… lucky fox! There are now a few chooks there but they are kept locked up for the most part.

I used a homemade whole egg mayo AND here’s an exciting development, my beetroot relish that i made last night (with the help of Quin). I used some fantastic romano cheese from Borrello Cheese in Oakford, just off Thomas Rd. This is a great Italian cheese producer. I’m going to give them a plug here. The first time I went in there the lady didn’t seem all that interested in me, until i decided to buy a heap of cheese. Their provolone is fantastic, as is their ricotta but to be honest, I have bought a large selection of their stuff and its awesome. Go in there for tastings and buy up. It’s worth it. Here are their details.

Borrello Cheese
59 Rice Road, Oakford, 6121.
Phone: 08 9525 1232

A family owned and operated award winning cheese factory
Open:Monday-Friday 7.00am-3.00pm
Saturday 7.00am-1.00pm

Closed:Sunday and Public Holiday

So trying to keep it real and local, I have managed to construct this club sandwich that was so high you had to take a chunk from the bottom, then the top and so on. The mess we made was legendary. Quin was so overwhelmed she had to lie down poor darling.

The layers were slightly uneven, but to be honest, when it came down to eating it, it didn’t really matter at all, it was going to turn into a Pro Hart piece as soon as you bit into it. Oh and I didn’t mention the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Beautiful stuff we bought at Costa Degli Ulivi, the place we stayed at in Fumane, the Valpolicella wine region near Verona, Italy. This oil has a beautiful citrus hint with a heap of pepper on the end. I take shots of it, it’s so damn good.

I was going to add some avocado but forgot… but it didn’t matter. The sandwich was great. Here is another plug. The best club sandwich I have had out is Taste Food Store and Provisions:

Taste Food Store and Provisions

Shop 3, 16 Mandurah Terrace, Mandurah, Western Australia, PH: 08 9535 6900,

A great couple from Melbourne with a great cafe menu and amazing prices. The coffee is also fantastic. Oh, and the views, its practically waterfront.
They catered a party for us earlier in the year and the guests absolutely loved the food.

Ok, its back to making sauces for me 😀

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Denne uken skal jeg lage pinnekjøtt! Jeg har bestillt lammekjøtt fra slakteren! In other words, I have ordered, from the butcher, the relevant cut of lamb to make pinnekjøtt! What the f$&*# is pinnekjøtt you might ask? Ok, well its the rib side of a lamb. Sorry im not a butcher, so I don’t know the technical name. You salt cure it for about 4-6 weeks, cook it over birch sticks and serve it with swede (rutabaga). I’m going to document this one, its my first shot and its going to be interesting. No photos to share just yet, picking up the beast on Wednesday!

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Condiments, condiments, condiments….

So no photos to show here, especially of me at this hour. It’s now 2:13am and i think ive spent around 16 hours in the kitchen today… What i have managed to achieve, besides breakfast, lunch, dinner and essential caffeine, red wine, Cointreau and Kahlua top ups is:

  1. Tomato sauce (Ketchup)
  2. Sugo (ok half way there, im roasting ALL of my tomatoes, and I have about 24kg of them.
  3. Beetroot relish
  4. Orange marmalade
  5. Mixed citrus marmalade
  6. Fruit mince (I know, who in our generation even knows what this is???)
  7. Lemon curd, infused with vanilla beans
  8. Mustard Pickle (Another one for the pre-technology generations)

And this is going to go with my:

  1. Fig and ginger jam
  2. Sweet Thai Chilli Sauce
  3. Apricot Jam
  4. Banana and vanilla jam
  5. Eggplant kasundi
  6. Fig and chilli sauce

I reckon by the end of the weekend ill have made more varieties than Heinz… now to sell more than Heinz… there lies the challenge. Is it possible? Probably not. If my stuff is good enough its more likely I’d get bought out by them before i sell more than them.

A last minute thought. I cooked some scotch fillets on the bbq tonight with some royal blue potato, red peppercorn and bacon rostis. I served it with a little seeded mustard, only because clearly I didn’t have time to make another bloody sauce. I’ve made enough today! The meat was perfectly medium rare, i sliced and stacked on top of the rosti and we enjoyed with a Woodstock McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon. Sometimes the simplest meals are the most rewarding. I also have to give a shout out to Andrew at the Pinjarra Butcher. Mate, you are a champ, your meat is divine.

I hate too many words, i really want more photos here. I’m going to post one more thing, then its going to be more photos.

I hope you all have a great Sunday in Perth, and an awesome long weekend elsewhere.

So this picture is not even recent, but its me cutting up onions at a party we had in February… this is how I feel tonight!

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Belgian Beer, Belgian Chocolate and an Unfortunate Lunch. Five hours in Brussels, Belgium.

I’m going to start profiling our recent trip to Europe. This is an easy one to profile as we stopped in Brussels for 5 hours on our train trip from Amsterdam to London. It was a worthwhile trip as well… for the most part. Brussels is a beautiful city, nothing over the top, but still has some charm that a lot of European cities have. It has a mix of old architecture, and funky new buildings that blend in quite well.

Im not here to talk about buildings though!

So im going to get right into it. We finally found a restaurant, after walking past so many. Quin was getting hungry and a little frustrated. If we didnt find a restaurant she was probably going to eat a Belgian. We started walking down one of THOSE tourist lanes. This is the sort of lane that has pictures of the well-known dishes of the country and usually a special deal for tourists. Was it cheap? Not really, but the pictures make it look like you are going to get value for money. I knew this was a bad idea, but we ended up choosing a restaurant, there were a few people in there.

From the beginning this place was a shambles. I am not going to name the street (because I cant remember it), nor the restaurant (don’t remember that either). Just know if you find a street like this that i’ve warned you! So I had the so-called fish soup. This was like a bowl of Thai fish sauce with a twist of muck. Yep, it looked like river water with a red oil film on top. It was horrible. Quin had lobster soup. Lets think about this for a minute… lobster soup, on a lunch time special menu, for a bargain price. Is it really going to be lobster? Neither had a chunk in them, just cloudy rubbish. These were two of the worst soups I have ever tasted. The baguettes were rock hard. It was like chewing on a piece of wood. Horrible, horrible horrible!

NEXT COURSE (Photos below)

Quin ordered the Mussels. Well after frequenting the Belgian Beer Bars in Australia, we were expecting big things from Belgium. Unfortunately we were bitterly disappointed. The soup that the overcooked mussels were sitting in was again a twist of Thai fish sauce with a whale blubber reduction. Besides the saltiness and the fatty texture, there was nothing else. This was repulsive.

I ordered the “lamb ribs” with potato. If I had realised that I was going to be presented with a type of staple meal served on Australian tables back in the 1950’s,that was the only choice due to tough financial times, I certainly wouldn’t have bothered. This made 1950’s cheap Australian lamb chops and 3 vegetables look like a 3 Michelin star gourmet feast. Completely horrible? Yes… it was so horrible, it would have rated 0 out of 5 for me if it wasnt for the beautiful Belgium beers we were fortunate enough to wash our food down with. The worst part… we were starving and there is nothing worse than a horrible meal when you are starving. So here’s how the rest of the 5 hours played out. Enjoy the photos.

What do you do when you are starving hungry? You stop at every chocolate place you can. We were buying bags of Belgian chocolates for around 3 Euro a bag. This sort of chocolate will go for $2+ a piece in Australia. We felt like Christmas had come early AND this was perhaps some consolation for the horrible lunch we had. What else do you do when you are starving in Belgium? You find a bar! So we started ordering beers at the bar. Mind you, this bar had what seemed like 100’s of Belgian beers and they were delicious.

So we drank some more… and ate some chocolate.

And so we drank some more…

And then there were empty glasses. Quin and I were so excited about the cheap Belgian beer which is an absolute rip-off in Australia that we had at least 5 each… and some of them are around 14% alcohol. We started to feel rather off-balance. We ran out of time and headed for the train.

We were fortunate enough to catch up with a very good friend from Adelaide in London. He insisted we go to a place called Taayabs. I’m not really sure where it was. After carrying our backpacks through the subway system, developing some serious neck and back pain PLUS now battling an afternoon hangover the 30 minute bus ride was making me feel rather nauseous. We got there and had to line up for some time. We then ordered a massive feast of food from the sub-continent. I was looking forward to Indian food in London and this didn’t disappoint.

I’m sorry there are no other photos, we were not in a good state and pulling the camera out didn’t come to mind on that occasion.We certainly appreciate the hospitality from AJ in London. Its a pity we had run out of time on our trip.

All in all a great day traveling from Amsterdam to London, through Brussels. Despite the worst meal on the whole trip, the day was great.

My top 3 tips for eating in big cities and avoiding whale blubber mussels are…

  1. Avoid the tourist restaurant strips (unless of course you know well that the food is good)
  2. Avoid corny signs with pictures of food on them
  3. Dont always go to a restaurant because there are people in there. It might just mean that the restaurant staff are skilled at roping people in.

My next European food review will be very positive! Most of the food we ate was fantastic, im still hoping that a couple of restaurants will send their menus through to me.

Until the next post, signing off.

Mark Owen

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Wholemeal Spelt Fettuccine (Gluten and Wheat Free) ai Fungi – This is also a vegetarian recipe

Good evening!

I promised I’d add this recipe to the blog. I think this is a really, really easy recipe. You may wish to buy the fettuccine instead of making it, but I think you will struggle sourcing wholemeal spelt fettuccine. I picked up my wholemeal spelt flour at Kakulas Bros in Northbridge. I made this pasta after experiencing a spectacular failure trying to make wholemeal spelt pizza bases. The bases simply refused to cook… I had them in the oven for so long and eventually they just turned into biscuits, or brown frisbees! A frisbee may have tasted more appetising. I knew I had to find some success with wholemeal spelt, so here It is! Make sure you serve this one up with a nice white wine. We had a beautiful Chardonnay from Denmark, Western Australia. This one may well go in the cook book one day. Enjoy!

The Pasta

  • 300g Wholemeal spelt flour (sifted)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1-2 tbsp light olive oil (check for moistness of pasta dough)
  • 1-2 tsp salt

The sauce

  • Light olive oil for frying
  • 1 bulb of garlic, all cloves minced
  • 1 handful fresh purple sage cut into ribbons
  • 4 tablespoons flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 300-500g of mushrooms (Its best to use a selection of mushrooms). I just used small field mushrooms due to a lack of availability of other types
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg
  • 1-2 cups of white wine
  • 300ml cream
  • 1 tbsp salt (I used Murray River pink salt flakes)
  • Sugar to taste (optional)
  • ½ cup cup Parmesan/Romano cheese grated
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil for serving
  • Extra Sage and Parsley for serving

To make pasta:

Sift flour into bowl and add the salt. I use a KitchenAid Stand Mixer with the mixing element. Add 1 egg. Switch power on and start mixing. As the flour and egg starts to mix add the additional eggs one by one, then each egg yolk. Add the oil and ensure the dough is mixed well. Switch the attachment to the dough hook and continue to mix. Remove dough from the bowl, knead well for a few minutes then wrap in plastic for at least 30 minutes.

Roll pieces of the dough out and put them through the pasta machine to flatten, like large lasagne sheets. Put them through the fettuccine cutter and put them in a dish with flour to stop them from sticking. You can also hang them on a pasta drying rack until ready to use. I also learnt from an Italian friend that fresh pasta like this freezes well. I have frozen the pasta several times and when ready to use again simply taken it from the freezer and immediately added it to boiling water. You only need to cook this pasta for around 3 minutes, unlike dried pasta that takes longer to re-hydrate.

To make the sauce:

Heat light olive oil in pan (or wok as I used). Saute the garlic then add the sage and parsley. Add the mushrooms and ensure they are coated in the oil and starting to brown slightly. Add the nutmeg then the wine. Let this simmer off for a minute or so then add the cream. Simmer until the sauce thickens a little. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can add the sugar here as well. This is optional but does create a beautiful finish to the dish.

To construct:

Add cooked pasta to sauce,  then as they say on Master Chef Australia, plate it up!

I would really love to see others try this dish. Its so simple and so damn delicious! I managed to pull some ideas for this one from a number of recipes in my cookbook collection, and having some beautiful purple sage and a ridiculous amount of flat leaf parsley in the garden, it was a really hard not to make this one. Enjoy!

Coming soon… some delicious Chinese food!

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