I love zucchini and had some hanging around in the fridge asking to be used differently from the usual pan searing and anchovy pasta combination. Coupled with some old and on the verge of moldering potato and carrot, I flipped through my recipe books and found Antonio Carluccio‘s recipe for parmagiana. Since I had a bit of time, this was it!
You can use any sliceable vegetable for this, just make sure that they are well dried using paper towel before preparing them for the dish. For the cheese, I didn’t have any mozzarella, taleggio or the eponymous parmesan, so I settled with the cheddar I had. It’s a good melting cheese with very nice flavour, so it worked too. For the tomato sauce, I had a jar of pasta sauce from a while back that I again hadn’t got round to using. Be warned that the quality of the tomato sauce is very important. Some of them can be quite tart, so you’ll have to taste and moderate if necessary by perhaps adding a little sugar, or plain using a decent brand of sauce! I also had some aglio olio spice powder consisting of garlic, chilli and random herbs, so some of that went into the dish too. It all worked out to be a happy use of leftovers to make a yummy, satisfying dish.
2 large zucchini
2 medium carrots
2 large potatoes
1 jar tomato pasta sauce
4 rashers bacon, diced
plenty of olive oil
flour for dredging, about 4 heaped tbsp
3 eggs, beaten
150g cheese, thinly sliced or grated
Slice the vegetables into long slices, as far lengthwise as you can. You’re looking for long, fairly thin slices of vegetables, about 5mm thickness for the root vegetables. For the zucchini, it can go a bit thicker depending on whether you like to bite into mushy zucchini goodness or prefer less of the mushy burst. Pack the slices into paper towels and leave to dry for about an hour or until you get back round to them.
Meanwhile, get out a big casserole dish that looks like it could fit all the vegetable slices and more. Spoon out a thin layer of pasta sauce and coat the bottom of the dish.
In a sturdy frying pan, saute the bacon dice in a little olive oil till brown. Sprinkle on top of the pasta sauce layer.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Add some salt and pepper to the flour and mix well. Standby the beaten eggs.
In the same frying pan, add plenty of olive oil till the bottom of the pan is coated. Get ready to fry over medium heat.
Dredge each vegetable slice in the seasoned flour, then coat with egg. Let drip till most of the egg has dripped off, then fry, turning each piece as it turns golden brown.
When golden brown on both sides, transfer each piece to the casserole dish.
When a layer of vegetables has completely covered the pasta sauce, spoon over more sauce for the next layer and also sandwich in a few slices of cheese.
Proceed till you’ve exhausted all the vegetables and cover with a final layer of pasta sauce, topping generously with cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes, turning down the temperature slightly if the cheese starts to burn.
After removing from the oven, let rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving.
DC, a man after my own stomach, had been looking up MPT places as he was concerned about the recent lack of Chronicles of MPT posts. He found this place at Verdun Road that supposedly used buah keluak as one of the magic ingredients in its chilli sauce. Of course we had to find the next opportunity to go!
The stall is nestled in a coffee shop just by Mustafa’s, that emporium of everything you need in this world (except MPT). We ordered a bowl each, DC being a purist for my blog’s sake ordered meepok, while I on advice from some reports went for the meekia.
Each bowl came with a generous topping of fish dumplings, pork mince, sliced pork, fishball and a piece of crisp dried sole. I liked the gluey fish dumplings and didn’t mind the fishball. DC didn’t like the fishball though, he felt that it tasted too mass-produced. He was also pretty unlucky because his pork was undercooked and noodles soggy. For the former, he simply pushed the offending pink pieces away, but for the latter he had no choice but to slurp up the soft pap. Why? The chilli was heavenly. I think it’s by far the best MPT chilli I’ve had. It was smoky with deep earthy buah keluak flavour and had plenty of kick. Complemented by the crisp lard pieces and a splash of black vinegar, this combination is to die for. Do yourself a favour and order the meekia. Mine was perfect. The best in a long while.
A friend introduced me to the bak chor mee at Crawford Lane. This is Tai Hwa, not to be confused with Tai Wah. Unlike Tai Wah, it is the only stall with no branches anywhere else.
We got there at 10.30 am and there was no queue at all. Apparently during the peak period, the queue would stretch the length of the coffeeshop. We were in luck!
This bak chor mee ($4 up) is probably the best all-rounder so far. The noodles were perfectly al dente, as was the balance of chilli and vinegar. I also really liked the thin slivers of deep-fried lard that delivered the highest crisp vs. calorie ratio. They were just the right size: thin enough to crunch nicely yet large enough to avoid once the guilt set in. The one piece of dried sole fish wasn’t enough and was slightly bland, but it’s a small quibble.
The sliced meat, minced meat, liver and pork ball were all spot on, tender and juicy. The only let down was the dumpling, which was too salty. My friend didn’t notice, so I guess it was just me being too sensitive. Either that the uncle didn’t mix the dumpling filling well.