I’ve mentioned before that one of our couple friends have moved in down the road to us about a month ago although granted, down the road is still a good 10-15min walk away. We spent this last weekend with them first having dinner together Friday evening at a Vietnamese restaurant Flo and I think highly of. It’s called Long Phung and while the ladies serving there are quite intimidating with their loud, shrill voices as they scream orders to one another, it does make the atmosphere rather authentic.
We ordered a few dishes to share – the ubiquitous Fresh Summer Rolls and Flo’s favourite must-order Rare Beef with Lemon. Also, there was a portion of Fried Chicken Wings marinated in Fish Sauce that the three of them enjoyed.
Flo and I also ordered a bowl of Pho Tai aka Sliced Beef Pho to share between us. The broth was so rich and comforting, and the noodles very slurp-worthy.
Following our enjoyable dinner, we invited Alex and Amanda over to spend Sunday afternoon with us so that we could play Kung Fu Panda on PS4 together. Flo and I also planned to cook a dinner for the four of us.
It was an unofficial German meal with beautifully tasty Pork Sausages from Huber’s that Flo cooked perfectly. We also had Steak and some stir-fried Garlic Spinach for some greens, as well as Baby Peppers with Feta and Gherkins on the side. Alex and Amanda also brought over some delightful Hams and Cheeses that we had with crackers.
It heartens me that Flo gets on well with Alex, and Amanda of course, since Amanda is someone very dear to me. Funny thing is that our age range amongst the four of us is between 25 and 33. It’s not particularly huge but it’s not altogether small either. Yet, we laugh a lot together and have similar interests that enable us to make conversation that can go on and on and on. And even when that dies down, we’re able to bask in each other’s company and watch Russell Peters on Netflix to unwind.
Thinking about how Alex, Amanda, Flo, and I are so different in our backgrounds and have varying character traits, yet are able to come together and get on like a house on fire reminded me of this bowl of Bibim’Cauliflower’Bap I made for Flo and I the other day. The individual elements of this bowl so separate in how they are cooked manage to become a whole, cohesive flavour bomb once mixed up and eaten altogether.
I was really proud of how this dish turned out although I think in future, I’d make this if there were more people at dinner because the little components, while easy to make, is tedious to prepare because there are quite a few. Also, as I couldn’t get my hands on fresh beansprouts, I decided to use up the last of the kabocha I had left instead. Bibimbap is pretty much a dish you can put any kind of vegetable into, but this was my rendition of it.
Bibim’Cauliflower’Bap (Serves 2):
1 head of Cauliflower, Grated*
100g Lean Minced Beef
1 Tbs Soy Sauce
1/2 Tbs Sesame Oil
Pinch of Sugar
1/4 tsp Garlic
1/2 tsp Garlic
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tbs Sesame Oil
1 tsp Toasted Sesame Seeds
150g Pumpkin, Cubed
60g Carrots, Julienned
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
50g Shiitake Mushrooms, Sliced
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbs Gochujang
1/2 Tbs Sesame Oil
1 1/2 Tbs Water
*Alternatively, you can just used your choice of steamed rice. Flo mentioned how next time I ought to challenge myself and use white, or even brown rice. Perhaps I’ll do a mix of both as a start.
- Cook cauliflower rice – I bake mine in the oven for approx. 11min before stirring and cooking for another 6-8min.
- Marinade minced beef with soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and garlic for at least 30min.
- In the meantime: Make gochujang sauce by mixing gochujang, sesame oil and water together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Blanch spinach in boiling water then rinse in cold water to cool. Squeeze out excess water before mixing through with garlic, sea salt, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Set aside.
- Coat pumpkin cubes with olive oil and sea salt. Bake for approx. 30min or until tender.
- Place julienned carrots and mushrooms into individual foil packets and season with sea salt. Fold the packets to close and toss into the oven with the pumpkin cubes to cook for about 10min (This was my lazy idea so that I didn’t have to take turns sauteeing them). Remove and open foil a touch to release steam. Set aside.
- In a heated pan, cook minced beef for 3-5min until thoroughly cooked. Set aside.
- Fry egg to your preferred doneness.
- Place cauliflower rice, or plain steamed rice, into a nice, big bowl. Place beef, spinach, pumpkin cubes, mushrooms and carrots around the rice. Put your egg on top of the rice and top with as much gochujang sauce as you like.
- Stir everything up and enjoy!!
It certainly goes to show that variety can make for beautiful things. The mixing of different elements in this bibim’cauliflower’bap brought out the best in each ingredient as they worked to balance each other out – from the sweet kabocha to the earthiness of the mushrooms; the crunch of the carrots against the softness of the spinach; the light gaminess of beef offset by the spicy kick of the sauce. In a similar vein, I think the same can be said for Alex, Amanda, Flo and I in our friendship as individuals, as two couples, and as a group. And that in itself, is a very beautiful thing.
Oh! And I titled this post the JooC (like ‘Juicy’) Crew because we’re all now residents of the Joo Chiat vicinity. Although we’re also known as ‘Cumberland, Brockwurst, and the two Chilli Padis’ since Alex is from UK, Flo from Germany, and Amanda and I from this sunny little island. Lol.