In the Malay language, main-main means ‘to play around or fool around’, and masak means ‘to cook’, while masak-masak is what we call the children’s game of playing with toy kitchen implements and toy food. It was one of my favourite activities as a young child.

Main Masak 300
“Oh dear, what shall I cook now?”

These days, my cooking adventures consist mostly of adapting recipes to accommodate my food intolerances and health-conscious dietary preferences: trying my best to avoid colourings, flavourings, preservatives or other artificial additives, as little sugar as possible and using whole grains, as well as bearing in mind the “Failsafe” principles, i.e. free of additives, low in salicylates, amines and flavour enhancers, as recommended by Sue Dengate’s Food Intolerance Network.

I try to look at food from first principles – understanding cooking methods and ingredients, taking inspiration from well-established dishes and ingredients from different cultures to create my own combinations. More often then not, the best word to describe my cooking would be ‘experimental’, which doesn’t necessarily mean ‘edible’ (^_^)!

‘Making do’ is my motto – using what I have on hand, what’s easily available here in Singapore and managing within a reasonable budget.

This blog isn’t just about my occasional cooking experiments, but also my thoughts on food in general, Japanese and Chinese tea, food and health, shopping for food-related items as well as the history and sociology of food.

Some of the photos on this blog can also be viewed at my Flickr page.

14 Responses

  1. “In the Malay language, main-main means ‘to play around or fool around’, and masak means ‘to cook’, while masak-masak is what we call the children’s game of playing with toy kitchen implements and toy food. ”

    — In Mandarin, we call it “过家家”. Now I know how to say it in Malay, “main-main masak-masak” :)

  2. Hi Ina,
    Thanks for telling me the Chinese version :)! I think in Malay you can just say ‘main masak-masak’ and people will know what you mean. You can use the phrase ‘main-main’ separately.

  3. Hi

    your site is God sent! I’ve just been placed on an elimination diet so I’ll be juggling around the intolerances fairly soon and I was climbing up walls by not being able to figure out how to include my love for Asian food. That and I’m getting mightly sick of eating chives, leeks, garlic, parsley and vanilla (not all at the same time mind you).

    I was curious as to where you get your primary references for salicylate, glutamate and amine levels for ingredients?

    Also in an interesting turn for non-asian cooking, using ricotta and a little yogurt in a pasta helped give it some tang – for the absolutely no tomato intake people. Am contemplating experimenting with sour cream next time. :)

  4. Hi Roo,

    Glad to be of help; I started this blog hoping that others in the same boat might find my experiences useful to read about :).

    Please do note that not everything here is suitable for the elimination diet as I’ve moved on to including other foods that I’ve found I can tolerate. Unfortunately, many Asian foods haven’t been tested for food chemicals so it’s probably best to stick to exactly what you have been told to eat for now.

    As for the my information on food chemicals, I started with the website and ‘Fed Up’ book by Sue Dengate and ‘Was It Something You Ate’ (both in my reading list – accessible by clicking the My Bookshelf/Library Thing icon on the right-hand sidebar, or by clicking the Bookshelf tab at the top of the page).

    From there, I moved to looking up more information on the web: please check out the Food Intolerance Links in the sidebar to the left.

    Thanks for the ricotta and yoghurt pasta tip :) and all the best with your elimination diet!

  5. I have highlighted this on my blog”Using bentos to deal with food sensitivities gracefully”!!!

    It is great!!!



  6. Lovely blog and lovely photo of the cook! So happy to have come across your blog as it is so inspiring! Reminding me a bit of days I was exploring macrobiotics and asian related dishes..extremely appreciative to be able to tap into this part of the globe again! Thank you so much! Mia

  7. Dear Eilish and Mia,
    Many thanks for your compliments :).

  8. So glad I found this site! I’ve been missing/craving asian foods and the recipes on this blog are so easy to follow that I can make a lot of this stuff while I’m away for school! So thank you for this great blog :D

  9. Hi,

    is it possible to have your email for further communication? Thanks so much!

  10. Dear Gwen,
    Just post a comment and I will read it privately.
    Best wishes.

  11. I cannot find GDL anywhere in the U.S. Do you know where I can buy it? Thanks!

  12. Hello:

    I find your posts very useful though it seems it hasn’t been updated does this mean you have a new site or have you been busy with work?


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