x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Make it yourself: The perfect stir fry

Nadia el Dasher goes behind the scenes at the Noodle House in the Souk Qaryat Al Beri to ask award-winning chef and Chinese cuisine expert Sam Leong how to create the perfect home-made version of her (and Sam's) favourite dish: Singaporean black pepper beef.

Jaime Puebla
Jaime Puebla

Nadia el Dasher goes behind the scenes at the Noodle House in the Souk Qaryat Al Beri to ask award-winning chef and Chinese cuisine expert Sam Leong (right) how to create the perfect home-made version of her (and Sam's) favourite dish: Singaporean black pepper beef. INGREDIENTS: For the beef: 1kg beef tenderloin (sliced into wafer-thin strips) 1 egg white 2 tbsp cornflour Dash of sesame oil Black soy sauce

Half a sliced shallot Half a diced red or yellow pepper Piece of sliced ginger 4 spring onions sliced into 2.5cm pieces 1 tbsp crushed garlic 120ml vegetable oil For the black pepper sauce: 100ml oyster sauce 100ml ketchup Half tsp crushed garlic Half tsp crushed shallots Half tsp crushed ginger 1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper (more if desired) Dash of sesame seasoning

METHOD: Prepare the black pepper sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a small bowl. Marinate the beef strips in the egg white and cornflour to soften the meat. Add the vegetable oil to the wok or pan and wait until it is moderately hot, then add the beef strips. Be sure not to overheat as this will make the meat chewy and tough. Toss the beef around the wok to spread the heat evenly. When the beef begins to brown, add all the vegetables except the spring onions, and continue to toss and stir. When the meat and vegetables are half cooked, remove from the wok. Wash the wok (using a bamboo scrub brush, if available), drizzle fresh vegetable oil into the wok and spread all around. Fry the crushed garlic until its smell rises, then add the half-cooked beef, vegetables and spring onion, tossing them all together until everything is cooked to your liking. Add the black pepper and soy sauce, making sure to stir the sauce all the way through and serve immediately.

* Pay attention to the heat. Red meat needs to be cooked on medium heat so it doesn't stiffen. * Any deep-fried dish should be tossed into very hot oil. The searing hot oil "flash" cooks the food quickly and makes it crunchy. If it's not hot enough the batter will separate from the meat/vegetable. * Don't be scared of hot oil. If you gently lower into the wok the ingredients you are going to deep fry instead of tossing them from a distance, you're less likely to burn yourself. * Always taste the food before serving it. You can never be sure of the flavour until you try it. Then add salt or seasoning to taste. * Use natural ingredients instead of ready-made seasonings, with no MSG. Soften meat with egg whites and cornflour - these are perfect substitutes for artificial tenderisers.

Align your spine If you suffer from lower back pain, frequent sprains or headaches, your pillow, mattress or even your sleeping position could be to blame. Here's how to put it right-

Sleep on your right side. According to Dr Ali Damanhori from Tawam Hospital, this can help you completely relax and breathe better. Keep your spine curved. Dr Damanhori says that not maintaining its natural curve during sleep could cause your spine to form an irregular curve, encouraging the development of back hunches. To maintain your spine's natural curve, place a pillow between your bent legs while sleeping on your side. This reduces the weight of your legs and hips on your back while maintaining the natural curve. If you prefer sleeping on your back, place a pillow under your legs, letting them curve naturally and allowing the pelvis to rest in a comfortable position to eliminate lower back strain. You could go further by placing a small rolled-up towel or a thin small pillow under your lower back.

Don't sleep in a bundle. The spine would then be too curved. And avoid hunched shoulders. While sleeping on your side, place a pillow in front of you (along your chest) and place your top arm on that pillow for support. Sleeping on your stomach is another no-no. This can cause the lower back to sink in too much. Avoid unnecessary stretching. Stretching out too much during sleep can leave you aching and could even lead to muscle spasms.

Invest in a high-quality mattress. Your pillow and mattress should be firm, but not so firm that they would leave you sleepless and sore. You should still be able to sink into some areas. Look for medically approved or orthopaedic mattresses and pillows. They really do make a difference. Memory foam mattresses are recommended, as are medical air mattresses. Make sure your pillow is not too high. Your head should not tilt up or down but be perfectly aligned with the rest of your body. If at any time you feel uncomfortable or feel too much weight on your back, you may need to change your mattress and pillow. Ola Salem

The Dinosaur Trail at Al Ain Zoo Experience the "Lost World" at Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort, which is running a new Dinosaur Trail exhibition until July. An area the size of a football pitch has been transformed to a Jurassic Park-like world with life-size prehistoric animatronic beasts including the T-Rex, plus 23 other breathing, sneezing, roaring dinosaurs. The 300-metre-long tree-lined walking trail - the first of its kind in the UAE - has previously been on show in zoos in San Diego and Detroit and features characteristic period landscapes and lighting to illuminate the trail for evening visits. You can learn about the origin of dinosaurs, their habitats and the era in which they lived, plus junior paleontologists can help dig up dinosaur fossils, as well as get a behind-the-scenes look at how the robotic dinosaurs work. Tickets are Dh25 for adults and Dh15 for children. See www.awpr.ae

Vote online now Don't forget to vote for your favourite runner-up in our M magazine/Kitab Short Story Competition. The standard of entries was so high this year, that after choosing our winner and runner-up, we wanted to share four other stories with you that made our shortlist. All entitled Moving Messages, the stories by Steven Tweddell, Stephanie Mylchreest, Charlotte Sherwin and Carla McKay can be read at www.thenational.ae/shortstory and voted for online at www.thenational.ae. The story with the most votes will be published in the magazine at a later date. Voting closes on April 24.