Marcella Purnama

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Marcella Purnama is a blogger and author of What I Wish I Had Known: And Other Lessons You Learned in Your Twenties. She is currently obsessed with finding the best recipe for bread rolls and keeping her sixteen plants alive.
513 articles written by Marcella Purnama

I was watching TV with Tjok—my husband—when he started to annoy me. He nudged me, made funny faces, and asked me questions on unrelated topics.

“Hun,” I said to him, “Korean moment.”

I was still staring intently at the TV, being in the zone where the super cute, nice Korean guy professed his love to the nice, slightly prideful Korean girl with supet smooth white skin. She previously said she didn’t like him that way, but it’s a K-drama, of course he persevered. Cue in the emotional soundtrack with the word sarang repeated over and over.

Tjok stood up and pretended that he had a violin and started moving his right hand back and forth.

“Hunny,” I gave him a look, “my Korean moment. Why do you annoy me every time I’m having my Korean moment.”

“It’s too over the top,” he said, “too cheesy.”

“You’re the one who introduces me to K-drama,” I said. “Your fault.”

“Yah, it’s good,” he sat on the sofa again. “Just too cheesy sometimes I can’t stand it.”

“Doesn’t mean you need to ruin my Korean moment.”

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I rarely cook steak. In this case, I define rarely as: once every four months kind of thing. Yes, it’s that rare.

But when I cook steak, it’s always Japanese Beef Steak. My friend asked me yesterday when I was having this for dinner: what’s the difference between normal steak and Japanese steak?

Well, the answer is simple: the sauce.

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I actually don’t know the formal name of this dish. A quick Google search shows a lot of variation, including Pek Cam Kee, Pek Cham Kee, Pacamke, and others. But Pakcamke is how my mother says it, so here you go.

In essence, pakcamke chicken is an Asian/Chinese dish that means steamed chicken served with garlic-ginger sauce. It’s so easy, and so delicious. I make this dish every two weeks just because of the craving!

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Have you ever went to one of those Chinese restaurants and ordered this dish? They are so good. The eggplants are hot (both literally and spicy-hot), but soft. The minced pork add extra meaty depth to the dish (I just love pork). It’s oily, for sure, but it’s such a hearty dish that I keep on going back for more. Perfect when eaten with a bowl of rice.

For the longest time, I can never replicate this dish at home. The first time I cooked this, the eggplants are still half-raw. And when they are still raw, eggplants have this strong, pungent (I’m not sure if pungent is the right word) smell that are just not nice. Luckily, the husband still gobbles up the food, raw eggplants and all.

The key to making this dish is patience. You need to fry the eggplants in batches to make sure that they are actually cooked.

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I’m actually not sure what to call this dish. I mean, I know the Indonesian: my mother named this simply as Udang Goreng Tepung. Loosely translated, it means ‘floured fried prawns’. Erm, that doesn’t sound very appetising.

My friend told me that the dish has another name: bakwan udang, which translated into prawn fritters. That seems straightforward, and sounds quite correct!

Growing up, I eat prawn fritters almost every week. It’s my favourite dish when I was little—partly because I was such a picky eater that I would not eat anything else but prawns. When my family and I went to eat yumcha, my parents would older one serve of hakao, which I would eat with rice, minus the wrappings (which are eaten by my sisters). In summary, I really, really love prawns.

This dish is my mom’s recipe. It’s really easy—only slightly troublesome as you actually need to fry them (which uses quite a lot of oil). But I do think it’s worth it!

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Another lazy green veggie dish!

To say that bok choy makes a regular appearance in my kitchen is an understatement—it’s one of those veggies that’s almost always there in my fridge, all the time. Both the husband and I love it—the husband actually does love the taste of bok choy, and I love them as they’re easy to cook and relatively cheap too.

This dish is another lazy cooking as it doesn’t require any stir-frying.

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Sesame spinach is the recipe you’d make when you’re feeling lazy.

In my household, there’s always some sort of green veggie served every night, but at times I can’t be bothered to stir-fry them (which is my default mode in cooking vegetables). When I have spinach at home, I almost always make this recipe.
It’s actually a Korean dish, and the original recipe calls for toasted sesame seed. I almost never use it because it’s never in my pantry. Some variations also call for spring onion for garnish, which I sometimes use when I have them at home. Most of the time, though, the spinach will be served as is.

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For the past year or so, I’ve been obsessed with homecooking. If you follow me on Instagram (@mpurnama), you’ll see that I cook almost daily. Many of you have asked for a recipe, and I’ve been wanting to collate all my cookings in one place (perhaps for my children later on). I know, I’m no chef, and still very much a newbie—I just love cooking at home, serving delicious, nutritious, easy food for myself and the husband.

So from those daily sharing of homecooked food, I’ve decided to create a new section on this blog for the recipes that I’ve cooked and become staples at my home. They’re mostly easy, mostly stir-fries, and mostly Asian. (That’s just our palate!)

I really hope that this blog will inspire you to ditch those takeaways and cook more at home. Not only you will save more money, you’ll be healthier too!

For my first ever recipe, I think it’s apt to share on how I make my corn soup. Saying that this is a staple at my home is an understatement—this is the first ever food that I’ve cooked, dating back when I was still a teenager. (Okay, probably second to instant noodles.) I’ve probably cooked this once every few weeks or so. Whenever I’m lazy, in need of easy cooking, or just wanting to add another non-heavy dish, corn soup is my go-to choice.

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Spring is finally here. But oh it’s still so cold!

That aside, August is the month where I have officially finished my reading challenge. I have now read 50 books out of 48, and I really feel like I’m cruising through the challenge this time. I will keep on reading until the end of the year—there are still so many to read on my to-read-list!

This month, I read three books: Why We Get Fat, a nonfiction book on the ‘science’ of, well, why we get fat; The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller (remember that I read Circe last month? TSoA is her first book); and Bringing up Bébé, a nonfiction/memoir book of French parenting.

…And no, it’s not what you’re thinking. Definitely not.

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Some months ago, I came across this article from The Atlantic titled, The Quantified Welp: A new study suggests that measuring an activity makes it less enjoyable. It’s sort of self-explanatory, and it does make sense: if you’re doing something and measuring it instead of being immersed in the activity, you’d end up enjoying it less.

Of course, the study clearly says that the intention of the activity matters too.

Say you want to lose weight—you would, of course, measure all those calories you burn while exercising. The end goal is different for you: you want to lose weight, so you track it; it has nothing to do with enjoying the activity or not. It’s different for those who just want to exercise because, well, they enjoy exercising.

The article goes on to paint another picture: say you’re doing colouring. You enjoy colouring. But then add a certain goal (e.g. colouring a certain number of figures), and you’d end up saying you enjoy the experience less. Sure, you get more figures done. But you don’t enjoy it as much.

A follow-up article on The Atlantic sums it simply: measuring an activity makes it feel like work, so you enjoy it less, even though you’re doing more of it. Consequently, it reduces your ‘subjective well-being’.

It makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

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