Dimwit Recipe: Smashin’ Cucumber Salad

With the daily temperature rising upwards north of 37C, mixed with haze and smell of acrid smoke of open-burning (courtesy from Indonesia), no wonder people around me are going apeshit!

So what’s a cooling salad that’s quick and easy to toss up – and perfect for stress release?  A Smashed Cucumber Salad, came to mind.  This is  extremely   easy to make, even the dimwit goes, “Smashin’ stuff!”  It’s Healthy and  Cheap! Cheap! Cheap!

Basic ingredient:
Cucumber*

Optionals:
Garlic
Chili

Dressing:
Sesame oil*
Honey (optional)
Apple-cider vinegar (or any vinegar based dressing)
Pinch of salt

Excellent observation, Watson!   If you notice that I have left out the quantity, that’s because I’m just a novice home-cook, not a chef (yet).  😄

Well, the seasoning is entirely up to you – whether you want it hot, sweet or garlicky.  The key ingredients here are the cucumbers, sesame oil – sesame oil being key to Asian cooking to impart the nutty flavour and fragrance, vinegar (any brands/kinds you have on hand) and a pinch of salt.  Add 5 minutes to chill in the fridge.

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Cucumber, garlic, chilli (I’m making mine hot and garlicky)

STEP 1:  Cut both ends of the cucumber off.  The key point to remember is to rub both ends of the cucumber to get rid of bitterness, note the white gunk.

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White bitter gunk – excuse my undressed nails

If you are a dunce at chopping lovely even pieces, this is a perfect salad for you!

STEP 2:  Simply  use the back of the chopper to smash the cucumber to bits – perfect if you are in need of stress release or rehabing in anger-management treatment.  Then scoop the seeds out.  Old-wives tales suggested that uneven jagged pieces pick up more of the dressing but my modern scientific brain tells me that there are more surface areas to pick up the dressing.  *Duh*

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Whack and smash the cucumber

STEP 3:  Chop up the chili and mince the garlic cloves (optional step – only if you like your salad to be hot and garlicky)

STEP 4:  Make the dressing by mixing sesame oil, honey and apple cider vinegar together

STEP 5:  Place cucumber pieces in a large bowl and toss with a pinch of salt.  Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.

There we have it – a healthy crunchy and garlicky, uh-so marvellous salad that is SO cool and refreshing – and SO very cheap!

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Smashed Cucumber Salad

Best to eat immediately.

To make this salad even more abridged and simpler – and because I realised how much cleaning up I had to do after the smashin’ part, I made an even more  basic version I have pictured below – Chopped Cucumber Salad.

Simply chop up 1 cucumber (don’t worry about scooping out the seeds).  Rub both ends of the cucumber. Toss in store-bought honeyed apple-cider vinegar, sesame oil and a pinch of salt.  Leave it to chillax in the fridge before serving.   Voila!  Another fantastically easy salad!

*Ya, dimwits.  I hear y’all roaring with cheers!  Haha!  Thanks!  😘 *

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Chopped Cucumber Salad

Hits and Misses @ Bills Woollahra, Sydney

Date of Visit: July 31 2013

Even though I am back in Sydney for a few weeks of R&R, work still travels with me. Yesterday, I had a meeting with an associate who is training for the Blackmores full marathon in September. I had also signed up for the half-marathon, but since I can’t see myself to be back in Sydney for the marathon, I had eased back on training. Moreover, with the cold chilly weather and working on the computer reading up and replying litigation emails to idiots – seriously, dudes if you ever engage lawyers don’t let them make you out to be such morons – had made me too lazy to go outside for a run. So, starting August 1 (tomorrow), I am going on a diet…

Better still, why not start today since Mom suggested a light lunch at Bills? She wanted to have their Tuna Poke, but unfortunately, the tuna poke she fancied was no longer on the menu. So, here is a piece of iPhoto memory – a bowl of red translucent tuna sashimi slices, avocado, tomatoes, parsley, samphire (those tiny salty crunchy green veggies that grow along the coastal line which ones has to forage), sesame seeds which has barley underneath and seasoned with soy sauce.

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Tuna Poke

Bills is a busy cafe, where most of the patrons are ladies (of leisure). The outdoor sitting area with heaters is a fantastic spot to catch some sun. With the wind chills and spot of drizzle, we opted for indoor seating instead, for that, we had to wait for 20 minutes, so we went shopping.

Woollahra is a leafy shopping village with quite a few fashion boutiques (international labels includes Akira, Collete Diningan, et al), organic grocers (e.g Whole Foods, Simon Johnson), home furnishings, antiques dealers and galleries, besides the usual cafes of course.

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Al fresco dining in Queens Court

A quick twenty minutes later, we are back, with our shopping in tow…

Mom ordered Ocean Trout Salad which had rice vermicelli under the salad of sugar snap peas, watercress, mint and coriander. The grapefruit imparts a sweet tanginess that tarted up the perfect ocean trout. The dressing was a simple dash of fish sauce.

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Crisp Ocean Trout, Ruby Grapefruit, Coriander and Chili Salad ($22.00)

As for yours truly who is staying faithful to her ‘diet plans’, I ordered the healthy anti-oxidant superfood of Quinoa Salad. There were a lot of sunflower seeds mixed with the quinoa, the wedge of lime did wonders to furnish sourness to beetroot and carrot shavings on the salad. Overall, a satisfying and appetising salad that hope to replicate at home!

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Quinoa, Sprouting Sunflower, Beetroot, Chilli and Feta Salad($19.50)

My Bro who joined us for lunch had the more hearty Veal and Pork Ragu Pappardelle. No doubt it was hand-made in the house by the look of the thick unevenly cut pappardelle. It looked small, but was absolutely filling.

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Veal and Pork Ragu, Pappardelle, Tarragon, Lemon and Parmesan ($24.50)

I like going to Bills for light salads which are easy to assemble at home and I often learn a thing or 2 from dining there.

More iPhoto memories from past visits…

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Raw Green Salad with Feta – beans, feta, zucchini,mint and parsley

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Vitamix quickie – Chilled tomato and cucumber soup

A busy cafe has its off-days, and here is a pic of my Raw Green Salad looking totally sub-standard, with 1 piece of chopped bean (yes, I counted!), bits of veggies and simply tossed up!  If one is not a regular, I suppose this is the last straw!

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(Sub-par) Raw Green Salad with Feta – beans, feta, zucchini,mint and parsley

An astute businessman, he has his latest cookbook ‘Easy by Bill Granger’ on display. I am at odds whether to get it.

His cookings are quite Asianised, little wonder since he was co-owner/founder to Billy Kwong which chef Kylie Kwong later took over. The kimchi rice is very popular and whenever I have visitors from overseas, I would suggest they order this spicy rice dish (with comes with a bottle of Sriracha chilli sauce – the one with a picture of the rooster – and this is pushing the authentic button). However, it was the corn fritters and truffled eggs that made Bills’ name, and they are available in the all-day breakfast menu.

Bills has 3 cafes in Sydney and expanding overseas. I often wondered at Japanese tourists who trekked to Woollahra for lunch in his cafe. It only clicked when I saw his one of his cafes in Tokyo. He is one heck of an global entrepreneur indeed – who’d think one can launch an empire from cooking eggs?

At the time of review, Bills scored 79% out of 157 votes

Bills on Urbanspoon

Still in Training for Tokyo Marathon 2013 Despite a Metatarsal Fracture

This is an IQ question for Primary 2 students in Hong Kong which my mom-mah picked up from the papers:

You are given 3 photos of 3 men looking exactly like the normal man plucked off the street. Each one of them has a nose, a mouth, eyes, eyebrows, ears and hair. Can you tell me which one of them is an Alien?”

I brought this IQ riddle up because this is exactly the fly on the wall situation I was facing. I had a X-ray taken of my foot 4 weeks ago because I kept getting discomfort after my training. Ever since I broke the neck of my femur in a trail-running accident in a remote countryside in China 2 years ago, I have learnt to never EVER wing any discomfort or pain!  (Smart!)

For any athlete, professional or otherwise, one can never be the same after any injuries. I now have a titanium plate inserted in my hip and I still get occasional discomfort and aches (very weather dependent). My range of motion is no longer the same – say, crossing my leg to clip my toenails for instance!

…SO, the radiographer couldn’t determine any fracture and said in his report that “…There is a possibly a small  stress fracture.  Correlation with bone scan advised…”.  My GP prescribed Vit D and plenty of rest since stress fractures will heal by itself in 3-4 weeks.  Dilly-dally, dilly-dally, 4 weeks on, my foot is still feeling tired – no pain, just achy soreness after training. So I decided it’s high time to pay my Podiatrist a visit.

BAM! As soon as he saw my X-ray, he said “You see this? There is a huge crack between the 4th and 5th metatarsal!”

Shite! How can I not see it? It’s been staring me right in the face while I was scrutinising for a hairline fracture!!  Geez, no wonder you have to cough up to see a professional!

Anyway, my Pod said that this is a tricky fracture.  Basically, this type of fracture is asymptomatic, so the pain will not be on the site.  He squeezed my foot laterally and my foot screamed in pain!  But when he pushed on the injured site, I did not experience a single thing!  He told me that there is only 1 study done on stress fracture between the 4th and 5th metatarsals.  It was done a couple of years ago by a sports doctor in Sydney Uni on a footballer.  While I do not need to wear the boot because the fracuture is in a stable location – at the base of the toes, he advised me to baby-nurse it and not to put any weight on my foot.  And with me insisting that I am still going for the TM2013 (cue the Michelin eateries), he advised me to do massive amounts of cross-trainings and not to hold high expectations for the race, just run according to how I feel. The healing will not be fast, because of the lack of blood supply around the area, but after 6 weeks, with another X-ray I will know. So, fingers crossed, let’s hope for Good News in the coming week-and-a-half!So, there – the answer to the riddle is:

“The person who asked me to pick is the Alien!”

Moving forward with only 4-5 weeks left to train for TM2013, how am I going to wing it?

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AQX Aqua Shoes, AquaJogger Floatation Belt, 2XU Visor and Gymboss

Deep water running (DWR), of course! I’ve been doing it for 4 weeks now and I believe I’m gaining good traction – in power, core engagement and endurance too. (How did I know? Well, …duh! Because I resumed my training the 3rd week after I got my X-ray back?!!) This was stoopid…Me a VERY Silly Nelly!) From the literatures I’ve read, DWR is highly specific to running. However, you must do with INTENSITY to spike the heartrate, otherwise it is of no use and fitness cannot be maintained. Just like running on land, you need to keep your back straight (no slouching!) and maintain a quick turnover of at least 180 strides per minute. Pump your arms the same way as well, maintaining about a 90 degree angle at your elbow.  There is a good sample of DWR  workout intervals by Pete Pfizinger.  And also, go to You Tube, there are lots of examples if you are not sure.  I like this one here.

What about Food?

One of the first thing I experienced when I started DWR was the increase in my hunger.  According to Tim Ferriss’s ‘4-hour Body’, this is usual, how else is Michael Phelps able to eat 7,000 calories in a day?

Because I know that once weight is gained, it’s hard to lose, so I decided to give Konjac noodles a go.  Shirataki or konjac noodles are supposed to be very low in calories. These are the products I have tried so far:

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Kelp Noodles and Miracle Noodles

Slim Pasta from Woolworths

Slim Pasta

Product Review: Kelp Noodles. This is my favourite. Very crunchy. I give it a hot water bath, then mixes Dashi and Wasabi with it. I buy from iHerb.

Product Review: Miracle Noodle – I buy this online. It smells very fishy, so I rinse it with hot water and mix with Dashi and Wasabi.

Product Review: Slim Pasta. I buy this in Woolworths. It smells fishy and very slippery to chew. I rinse in hot water and mix with Dashi and Wasabi.

There are many recipes online on how to cook/ season these noodles, but I find Dashi and Wasabi are the best way. I eat them as salads with rocket and baby spinach.