Learning to cook at Palette Sensations Day 1

Look at these glorious plates of drunken prawns! :]] I really liked these and they look really pretty. Just bought some danggui (chinese herb). All I need is some Chinese wine, fresh prawns, young ginger… and I’m good to try it out! Prawns!

Chef Shih Erh teaching us how to prep the prawns by demonstrating what not to do in this pic :p Cut off the head. We used the scissors to cut off the feelers, the front legs (that look like the beard) and a portion of the tail. She also taught us how to use a tooth pick to devein a prawn. The second method is to halve it and flip the tail in the centre, which is what my team did.

Prawns ready, scallions ready, and so are the danggui and wolfberries (soaked in chicken stock) I’m keen to explore STOCK in another post. It’s like the foundation or base makeup before you pile on the blush, eye shadow – equivalent. Hehe.TA-DA! I present to you, our pride and joy. HAHA! I am really looking forward to cooking this again. At the school, we used an industrial-sized electric steamer so using a regular pot steamer should be rather interesting.

Learning points: PRAWNS

  • Ensure it is whole, head is intact
  • Head colour is even, not greyish
  • Body and head are of same colour

Cut off: feelers, “beard”, tail bit. Devein by toothpick or by slicing in half and flipping tail into mid portion. Do not cut the head.

Next up, the pork slices with dip. There is not much cooking involved in this. 

Chef Shih Erh teaching us how to get that cute semi circle garnish.

Learning points: PORK

  • Add bicarbonate to soften it (300g : 1 teaspoon)
  • Check for doneness by poking it with a chopstick and checking whether the liquid that comes out is cloudy/bloody.
  • If the pork is overcooked and disintegrates when you cut it, chill it for 5 – 6 hours or freeze it for a bit and it will be easier to cut.


Prep work before cooking. Loved the brightly coloured bowls!

Next up, Sichuan soup! I’m not a fan of spicy stuff (save for Korean food, where I make the exception) so Sichuan soup is not something I would usually drink. However, it was unexpectedly one of my favourite dishes, next to the lovely drunken prawns. Unfortunately, there are A LOT of steps involved in this dish and I still wonder if it is worth all the effort required. Pardon the jialat photos!The ingredients!Here, you see chopped veggies (bamboo, mushroom, fungus), beaten egg(with some water) and dissolved corn starch. If you slice, slice it all. If you dice, dice it all, for a uniform bite.Cooking the seafood before adding in the veggies. Ah, mussels!!It’s starting to feel a lot like… Sichuan soup!

TA-DA! The best thing about this is that you get to regulate how spicy you want it to be. Also, I liked the range of ingredients you can include, from seafood to bamboo, that provides a nice bite. I could well see this as a Sharks Fin soup substitute that one can look forward to after the cold dish. Hehe.

Learning Points: STARCH

  • Corn starch: thicken, cloudy soup, slightly lumpy
  • Tapioca starch: Transparent texture like glue, not lumpy if you don’t stir it
  • Potato starch: Stable, can keep for 3 hours and won’t get watery. But it’s cloudy, not transparent.

Possible to mix tapioca and corn starch.

When adding starch to cooked food, always mix it in water beforehand.

Add enough starch to get the consistency you want.

Always, high heat before adding starch.

Clam soup! Or in Chinese, it’s Ger-Li Tang. (Sounds like Girly tongue) TBH, I was excited about cooking this dish but the taste of it didn’t appeal to me. Gimme Clam Vongole any time! Perhaps it was the greyish soup (more like gravy judging from the quantity) that put me off. But I just wasn’t feelin’ much love for this.

Learning points: CLAMS

  • Wash and change water 3 times
  • Tap water + salt
  • Let it sit and wait for 1 hr
  • Keeps for 6 hours before you die die have to cook it.
  • When cooking, clams opening their mouths means they’re cooked and ready to go!

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