Red Dot Kitchen Blog


Summer Foodie Cravings – Big Food Obsessions of the Season 0

It's time for your UV shades and SPF because summer has officially arrived!

Perhaps it's the rising temperature state-side that's reminding us of our glorious days back in the tropics, when blazing heat doesn't deter us from savoring (or more precisely, slurping) a beautiful bowl of bold, spicy, pungent, flavor-packed laksa, nor would the busy stalls situated inches from passing cars prevent us from forking our favorite nasi lemak.

[caption id="attachment_617" align="aligncenter" width="482"] Nasi lemak (coconut rice) over banana leaf via TimeoutKL[/caption]

While we generally are pretty food obsessed year round; this summer in particular we have a number of unwavering foodie cravings that's much missed from our pseudo-paleo diet. Why is it that the summertime just makes food taste a little bit better? This year the warm weather has driven us lusting over the marvelous flavors, bold ingredients and aromatic spices from Southeast Asia cuisine - that’s making quite an international impact - we thought we’d share some of our three favorite tastes, products and aromas from the best culinary of the region!

Laksa (spicy noodle soup)

To all who haven't tried laksa, know this. Life is not worth living if you haven't eaten a nice bowl of laksa. This is the type of food that cravings are made of. We are so very happy to see the rise of laksa in western hemisphere - checkout famed Malaysian mobile street food Azalina’s of San Francisco. Like ramen, different kind of soup base makes different laksa noodles.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="299"] Penang assam laksa via Rasamalaysia[/caption]

Assam laksa, aka Penang laksa, is a huge foodie obsession - particularly in the vibrant northern Malaysian city of Penang as well as KL.

The assam laksa is a pungent, fish-based  soup generally made with poached flaked mackerel and tamarind (assam) to give it a bright, sour, tangy flavor. It’s simply spicy heaven giving off strong aromas of Southeast Asian power ingredients like lemongrass, galangal (in the ginger family) and chili, served with mint, onion, rice noodles and sometimes pineapple. Even Tony likes it!

Johor laksa  very similar to assam, except unlike the others it calls for wheat-based noodles and it contains coconut milk, kerisik (like a coconut butter), dried prawns, lemongrass, galangal and placed on the side, our personal favorite, sambal belacan (shrimp and chilli pepper paste). Yes, please, can we have another?

[caption id="attachment_624" align="alignright" width="341"]Curry Laksa Malaysian style curry laksa[/caption]

Here's an image of curry laksaa hearty coconut-based curry - with bean sprouts and slices of fish cake and either shrimp or chicken.

In Indonesia, Bogor laksa of Bogor, Java, consists of a thick creamy, beautiful yellow-colored soup that is filled with coconut milk, garlic and shallots, kemiri (candlenuts), turmeric, coriander and lemongrass that's simmered to core, often overnight, for maximum flavor oomph. Packed with rice noodles, ketupat (rice cake), bean sprouts, basil, shredded chicken and prawn and a boiled egg. It's served with the addictive sambal cuka on the side (grinded chilli in vinegar) and sometimes tempeh.



Tender, juicy chunks of beef or chicken, painstakingly skewered by hands over bamboo sticks, and slow grilled over charcoal are the best. Smoky from slow caramelizing of brown sugar, shallots, cumin, chili, garlic and chili with burnt edges...

[caption id="attachment_640" align="aligncenter" width="425"]smoky satay over charcoal smoky satay over charcoal[/caption]

Who doesn’t love meat on a stick?

Most cuisines make some form of this food as a popular cultural dish, but satay – which is popular throughout Southeast Asian (mostly in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei) actually originated in Indonesia. In 2011, CNN Go listed it as number 14 in World’s 50 most delicious foods and we totally agree. While satay varies depending on the country and region, made with different proteins and dipping sauces, most versions have turmeric in the marinade to give it that characteristic yellow hue. Whether we’re chomping on pork, chicken, beef, fish, seafood or even snake meat and dipping it into a spicy peanut sauce, a pineapple based sauce, soy sauce or even a cucumber salad relish, we can’t seem to get enough satay.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300"]mg_7241 Satay on a stick[/caption]


10 Reasons for the Culinary World to Welcome Spring 0

Spring is in the air, flowers in bloom, winter gear has already gone back in closet hibernation, and our Little Red Dot Kitchen bak kwa-slinging ninjas are back in our new and improved kitchen working away. From seasonal produce, food television programs, bacon, farmers, gastropubs and locally grown goodies, here are ten reasons why we will be  (and hopefully you too!) welcoming Spring 2013 with wide open arms:

Local and seasonal produce

You know spring is here when some of our favorite seasonal fruits and vegetables start popping up in abundance in stores and farmers markets. Asparagus pretty much marks the arrival of spring, while broccoli, kale, radishes, sunchokes, cauliflower, bok choy and artichokes are also reaching a peak.

farmers marketSustainable Farming and Buying Local

Sustainability isn’t just a trending buzzword, sustainable agriculture has been put in the spotlight as the future for the farming industry. Pasture-raised, grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free, farm raised, free range, organic, a new generation of farmer is setting the tone to honor and respect where our food comes from, and this is getting national press. In Dallas, for example, organization Edible DFW has teamed up with Chipotle for a spring food film series that aims to raise awareness about buying local and sustainable agriculture practices. Or premiering this spring, the documentary series Grow chronicles a movement of young educated city dwellers leaving corporate jobs to become farmers in Georgia.

Food Shows12.10.31.mind_of_a_chef

In seems like 2013 will be the year of the food shows, and we can’t wait for all the food-loving television that’s about to come our way. Anthony Bourdain has two hits premeiring: Parts Unknown, a CNN show where he will go to undiscovered crevices of the world to show different foods and cultures. Another one of our favorites is PBS show Mind of a Chef, produced and narrator by Bourdain, and starring celebrated chef David Chang, following him around the world on a culinary journey. There are a lot of other great shows coming up this season, check out Grubstreet's analysis on what's worth watching.

Spring Recipes

Put away the hearty stews and comfort foods, because spring is all about bright, fresh and nutritious meals. We are especially fans of Smitten Kitchen, Tastespotting and Simply Recipes, which all gives great seasonal springtime recipes. Our top picks? Farm raised poached eggs on top of grilled asparagus, artichoke soup and strawberry rhubarb pie.

3766_10151331555087692_1574790512_n Farm-stand find: Can you name this odd looking fruit?

Gastropubs & Microbrews

Sure the whole gastropub craze is not new trend, but as we enter the warm weathered air it’s just the right time to really enjoy ice cold microbrewery beers to the max. That's why we've looked to Eater’s Handy Guide to LA’s Gastropubs, a bar bible that should be required LA reading.

Cross-restaurant collaborations

Don’t you love a good restaurant collaboration? It’s like in Seinfeld’s bizarro world of the culinary world, all-star chefs, from killer restaurants, teaming up or swapping kitchens for the ultimate food fest. Alinea's Grant Achatz traded places with Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park last year, and we can look forward to many more pop-up collaboration takeovers.


I love bacon, you love bacon, we all love bacon. Bacon has become more than just a favorite food, and exploded into a nation-wide obsession. Bacon sundaes, bacon mayonnaise, bacon soap, bacon salt, bacon magnetic poetry bacon condoms and good ole fashioned bacon: it’s no longer shocking to find ridiculous bacon products on the market.

Southeast Asian (Street) Food

Warm spring weather means outdoor dining, but our idea of eating under the open stars might be different than others. For us, warm weather marks street food and food truck season, especially with our favorite cuisines: Southeast Asian food. Malaysian food trucks in New York, Singaporean street food, well umm in the world's street food country capital, Singapore.. the whole nation has looked to Southeast Asian cuisine as the top dogs in street food culture.

Instagramming #Foodstagramphoto

Like it or not, we are a high tech nation of smart phone food loving Instagrammers. Have an insane spread at #breakfast? Instagram Earlybird.  Getting down and dirty with some yummy #dimsum? Instagram Walden. Eat your little heart's galore of our spicy chipotle beef #bakkwa? Instagram Kelvin.

Food Start Ups & Collectives

As a food start up ourselves, we love seeing young, enthusiastic and creative entrepreneurs working together on inspiring food projects. Organizations like Local Food Lab are changing the way food start ups launch products while Food Hackathon was the first event that brought together food lovers and developers to share their brainy food knowledge.

9 Top Gluten-Free Snack Ideas: Our picks for the best healthy snack recipes 0

It’s quite the challenge to find healthy snacks that are low calorie, protein packed and still can satisfy that hunger craving. Imagine tossing in an additional gluten-free label onto the criteria, and you might think you are stuck with an impossible snack task. But all you gluten-wheat-free eaters fear not! Whether you suffer from celiac disease, have a pesky wheat allergy, are sensitive to gluten, or just simply feel like you need to temporarily break up with a wheat-based diet, here are nine of the best gluten-free easy snack recipes from some of our favorite food blogs.

9. White On Rice Couple's Spring Rolls

There's something about a spring roll that just screams ultimate freshness. It's one of those healthy low carb snacks where you can fill it with a Marry Poppin's purse of flavor combinations -- you can go the Southeast Asian route with a traditional Vietnamese style roll, or maybe a Caesar salad direction, and possibly even down a bacon, lettuce, tomato, turkey path. Todd Porter and Diane Cu, the remarkably talented photog-foodie duo at White On Rice Couple, are all about this delectable gluten-free snack. They even posted a very handy tutorial on how to fold those delicately hard to handle rice paper wrappers. We filled our version with fresh salmon, avocado, cucumber, cabbage, carrot, lettuce and served it with a spicy Sriracha mayo.

8. 101 Cookbook’s Pomegranate Yogurt Bowl

Quinoa puffs, pomegranate and Greek yogurt all rolled up in one? Yes please! Heidi Swanson aka the culinary genius over at the food porn mecca food blog 101 Cookbooks makes this all-natural gluten-free treat. A low cal super food that’s also a great snack for kids, think creamy Greek yogurt topped with tangy pomegranate, a sweet honey drizzle and crunchy quinoa puffs – really the perfect bite of popping flavors and textures.

7. Smitten Kitchen's Creamy Hummus

A favorite dip amongst the wheat allergy world, hummus is an awesome healthy snack that's packed with protein. While there are plenty of variations like coriander, roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomatoes, Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen makes a simply flawless smooth Tahini version. Serve it with a medley of raw vegetables or some gluten-free crackers and you have yourself quite the wheat-free snack!

6. Steamy Kitchen’s Crispy Roasted Garbanzo Beans

Four ingredients, forty minute cooking time and an insane amount of snack lovin’ spice, we absolutely HEART Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen’s fast, fresh and simple take on roasted chickpeas. It’s one of those guilt-free snacks where you can easily get down and dirty with an entire batch in one sitting. Chickpeas, olive oil, salt and seasoning, we are mildly obsessed with this crunchy, all natural snack.

5. Simply Recipes' Perfect Guacamole

A Mexican food favorite, there's something special about a massive bowl of homemade guacamole. Elise Bauer from Simply Recipes makes a pretty immaculate version by combining ripe avocados, salt and lime juice with some cilantro, chiles, onion and tomato for that extra umph. Serve it with corn tortilla chips and you won't miss any of your favorite wheat-iful snacks.

4. The Picky Eater’s Garlic Parmesan Kale Chips

All hail the kale! Kale chips might have been a mega (slightly annoying) food trend during 2011, but there’s a reason behind all the Team Kale madness. They’re crispy. They’re addictive. They’re oh-so-delicious. An extremely nutrient-packed leafy green, this superstar vegetable might just be one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. We are kinda obsessed with this Garlic Parmesan Kale Chip recipe from Anjali Shah over at The Picky Eater. Crunchy, salty, flavorful and ready in under 20 minutes – it really the perfect healthy low cal snack.

3. Rasamalaysia’s Curried Popcorn

Popcorn has been a long friend of wheat-free snack lovers, but these days it’s pretty necessary to add that extra punch to kick it up a few gourmet notches. If you are a fan of Asian street food, or even just any type of Asian food really, Rasamalaysia  should still be your go-to food blog. Author Bee Yinn Lo gives us her creative Indian-influenced version of popcorn by adding a simple blend of curry spices.

2. Elana’s Pantry’s Rosemary Crackers

We all get those glutinous wheat-filled cravings, even when on wheat-free diet. Luckily Wweat-free crackers are much easier to make than you may think. Elana Amsterdam, of Elana’s Pantry, is the queen of gluten free eating, and the goddess of almond flour. In her cookbook “The Gluten-Free Almond Flour” cookbook she highlights a wonderful recipe for rosemary crackers that call for almond flour, sea salt, rosemary, olive oil and an egg. Yup, it’s that easy. She also shares nine more gluten-free cracker recipes, with wheat-free flavors like sesame, almond grain and even her take on wheat thins. We like to mix it up a bit by experimenting with a whole myriad of toppings and flavors.

1. Lil’ Red Dot Kitchen’s Bak Kwa Lettuce Wraps

Okay, so I guess we are a lil’ bit biased about our Bak Kwa lettuce wraps – but they are just too delicious not to include in our list of best gluten-free snack recipes! Our new spicy Chipotle Beef Bak Kwa (that only has 60 calories per serving!), these lettuce wraps are a super easy, low cal and
all-natural snack. You can really fill up your lettuce wrap with a load of fillings. We added bean sprouts, red pepper, carrot and our own strips of freshly grilled bak kwa, and served it with a soy ginger and spicy chili sauce. Healthy, crunchy, meaty, sweet, savory -- it hits the tastes buds in all those important parts!