The kitchen is known as a sanctuary for many home cooks, a place where they unwind from the stresses of the day. For some, however, cooking can be a safe avenue to talk about their fears and insecurities.
Freelance culinary therapist Sharon Lam weaves her counselling work into the cooking and baking sessions that she conducts for people suffering from conditions such as depression and anxiety.
The 34-year-old says with a laugh: "I am known as the kitchen whisperer. Through cooking, people can put their emotions aside and be focused on enjoying the process. They feel more confident after accomplishing a kitchen task and can express themselves better through such an art form."
She worked as a school counsellor for five years and decided to combine her professional training in psychology with her cooking hobby. She saw how students opened up to her while tucking into the baked treats she took to group counselling sessions.
Her love for cooking is encapsulated in her debut cookbook, Daily Cooking With Delishar, which was launched last month.
Delishar, which is an amalgamation of "delicious" and Sharon, is the name of her blog. It has about 400 recipes for Asian and Western dishes that she has developed over the past three years. The 120-page book, published by Marshall Cavendish, features 45 recipes.
PAN-FRIED STUFFED BRINJAL
For meat stuffing
- 120g minced pork
- 120g prawns, peeled, de-veined and diced
- 1 Tbs light soya sauce
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 stalk spring onion, finely chopped
- 1 sprig coriander, finely chopped
- 1 Tbs cornflour Ground white pepper to taste
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tsp Shaoxing wine
- 240ml store-bought chicken stock
- 1 Tbs hoisin sauce
- 1/4 tsp sugar Ground white pepper to taste
- 1 large brinjal
- 4 Tbs vegetable oil
- 2 Tbs cornflour
- 2 Tbs water Chopped spring onion to garnish
1. To prepare the meat stuffing: In a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients well. If the mixture is too runny, stir in 1 tsp of cornflour. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.
2. To prepare the sauce: In another mixing bowl, mix all ingredients well and set aside.
3. Slice the brinjal diagonally into 4cm-thick pieces. Cut each piece through the middle, but not all the way through.
4. Remove the bowl of meat stuffing from the refrigerator. Fill each piece of brinjal with 2 Tbs of meat stuffing. Gently press each piece of brinjal and use a spoon to scrap away the excess filling. Repeat for the remaining brinjal.
5. In a non-stick pan set over medium heat, heat 1 Tbs of vegetable oil for one minute before adding half of the stuffed brinjal to the pan. Fry for two to three minutes until the brinjal turns slightly brown. Add 1 Tbs of vegetable oil, flip the brinjal and fry for two to three minutes.
6. Remove fried brinjal from the pan and add the remaining brinjal. Repeat step 5.
7. Add the first batch of brinjal back into the pan. Pour in the sauce from step 2 . Switch to high heat and bring the mixture to a boil, before returning to medium heat. Cover the pan and cook for five to eight minutes.
8. Mix 2 Tbs cornflour with 2 Tbs water in a bowl. Set aside.
9. Remove cooked brinjal from pan. Pour 3/4 of cornflour solution gradually into pan while stirring the mixture continuously until the sauce thickens. Turn off the heat.
10. Place the stuffed brinjal on a plate and pour the sauce over. Garnish with chopped spring onion. Serve.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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