Monday, March 31, 2008

Belanga, The Gardens

Contrary to popular belief, I hardly eat out, and hardly get to try new places. If eating alone with the other half, it makes more economic sense to eat in places where I have the discount card, which gives 50% discount. If with a group of friends, I usually go where the winds blow, and in this case, it blew up North to Kelantanese cuisine, which I absolutely LURVE, actually.

Despite its close proximity, I have yet to eat at any of the F&B outlets in the Gardens, so I was pretty thrilled when old classmates boys lunch was to be held there. Anyway, Belanga (it means clay cooking pot..... Lemongrass thought it meant silver, and she's closer to schooling age than I am) is a semi food court-ish set up (but it's not self service, thankfully) with a rather limited but adequate menu. In fact, I think I'd rather be at a place that serves a few good things, then have 1000 items of their menu, but are all utter junk.

Cardio surgeon was already waiting for us, and had ordered his nasi kerabu.

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I know we're more used to seeing the plain colored one in Madam Kwan's, but he assures me, being of Kelantan stock, that this is the real thing. Probably colored yellow with tumeric. His ayam percik also PASsed the test.

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I opted for my favourite Nasi dagang. Lovely long grain rice, almost glutinous (I think it's mixed), fluffy, yet sticky and tasty all at the same time, doused with a generous portion of chicken curry, and a chicken maryland slab which was tender and flavourful. The rice portion didn't seem enough, which ordinarily I would have probably asked for a top up, but decided to leave room, and wisely so, to try some other stuff.

Other class mate, Landscape Architect and Musician, had the same thing, but had Tongkol instead of Chicken. Tongkol is probably similar to Bonito Tuna.

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That's quite a generous helping of tongkol, considering in the packeted ones up north, you only get a small chunk. Oh, hangon, then again, you're paying like 1/4.

Keropok Lekor.....if ever something resembled turd in photos, this would be a close contender for the crown. It was very tasty, but I prefer the ones catering to the masses, ie, deep fried till crispy on the outside. This one is uniformly soft, and apparently it's the correct way of doing it.
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Quite ironic, that we should be lunching with a cardiac surgeon, and discussing the grim realities of how people are keeling over of heart attacks younger and younger, but at the same time, we ordered, as seconds, LAKSAM, the Kelantanese Laksa. Pure coconut milk, soaking a kind of rolled kueh teow, not unlike chee cheong fun, but thicker, with a generous garnishing of beansprouts and julienned cucumbers.

The sambal belacan complemented the dish the way Carla Bruni complements Nicolas Sarkozy, or the way black hair complements Nigella. Absolutely blissful, but certainly tipped the
in the fullness department. (tipped the SCALES, people, tipped the case ya didnt get it).

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I am most thrilled to discover affordable and rather delicious Kelantanese fare in the vicinity, and also to discover that parking rates at the Gardens are the same as Mid Valley Megamall. Belanga is located in the basement of the Gardens- Megamall link....quite near the taiwanese place, and CIMB bank.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How Does A Ballerina Stay Slim?

According to urban legend, the dessert Pavlova was named after famed ballerina, Anna Pavlova....go read it on Wikipedia yourself. Since I am not into ballet, I don't know who the heck Anna is, and couldn't care less, I just wondered if a dessert were named after me, what would it be? Probably something REALLLLLY fattening, rich, artery clogging, orgasmically good, (ahem)....quite the antithesis of a Pavlova, which is basically air trapped in egg white. A Pavlov, on the other hand, would imply salivating at the ring of a bell.

Anyway, I found myself staring at 6 egg whites, after making some tiramisu, and vaguely in the recesses of my alcohol destroyed brain, I recalled Lyrical Lemongrass saying she loved Pavlovas. Egg white, pavlova, egg white, pavlova. A strange connection was forming as the wheels in my head spun, and I thought, ah, why not. My last attempt had been an unmitigated disaster, the meringue was soft like a pillow, and the whole thing was like a giant, marshmallow that consisted of an entire sugar cane plantation.

As I was going out for Good Friday service, and drinks thereafter, (take care of the life hereafter followed by drinks thereafter....a good philosophy of life), I had to rely on the maids to follow my instructions for turning off the oven, and I really had to leave it to chance as I wouldn't be around to rectify any shortcomings.

Thanks to a tip given to me by Masterbaker, Nigel of JHP Fame, I told the maid to leave the meringue IN the oven overnight, and not to open the oven door at all, after switching it off. the next morning, as I arose with the mother of all hangovers, I was inordinately relieved to see that the pavlova was crispy on the outside.

So, here's what you do.

6 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon vinegar

Beat the egg whites on slow speed until white and frothy, and gradually add in the sugar and cornflour, increasing the speed gradually, and finally add in the vinegar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Stiff peaks means if you turned the bowl upside down, the meringue wont fall out and when you lift the beaters, a peak will form, that doesn't wilt like a flower in midday summer sun.

Spoon onto a baking tray, lined with baking paper if non stick, in whatever shape tickles your fancy. I did one flat 8" disc, and one 8" diameter nest.

Bake in slow oven, 120C, for 1½ hours. Turn off oven and leave in oven as long as possible. (overnight in my case)


2 cups whipping cream, whipped to stiff consistency. (careful, there's no turning back from overbeating your thing)
Optional, some sugar to sweeten the cream, but bear in mind, the pavlova is sweet.
Fruits of your choice, in my case,
1 punnet driscolls strawberries, RM23.90
1 punnet blueberries RM14.90
1 punnet jackfruit RM4
2 organic passionfruit RM5 (Cheaper than the imported passionfruit which are about RM6 each...the ones that look like withered testicles)

I sandwiched a layer of cream and strawberries between the disc and nest, and chucked the rest of the cream and other fruits into the nest. The result,....ta dah.
(Pictures are courtesy of Lyrical Lemongrass, linked on flickr, so Gal From Abu Dhabs... dunno if you can see)



It was a hit, if I may say so myself. [Patting self on back]. As Malays would say, enter basket lift oneself.

Cream Cheese Marbled Brownies

Life is more or less back to routine, after a host of holidays, like Chinese New Year, Christmas, etc. Gosh, and it's nearly the end of March. So, with routine-ness, comes Tuesday night family dinners, my ready catchment of guinea pigs for new dessert experiments, as my sister and her family come over for dinner. Her children eat like birds, (and I don't mean the big birds like eagles, who eat whole rabbits....those are MY children), so getting them to try my baking is like a feat worthy of popping a bottle of Dom Perignon.

Anyway, Tuesdays are also gym days, more or less etched in stone. So, for dessert, either I make something that requires chilling overnight, in which case I'd have made it on Monday, OR, a quickie, like last week's Mint Choc Squares. Since that turned out so well, I thought I'd take another page out of the Golden Chocolate Book, and try these babies.

Pic taken from Golden Chocolate Book, by Page One

The above picture is actually from the book, obviously. Looks too perfect to be something I'd done.

Anyway, the reason why I chose this recipe is
1. It had all my favourite ingredients, cream cheese, chocolate, and orange
2. It looked quick enough to make

Here's the recipe:

Cream Cheese Filling
250gm cream cheese
1/4 cup castor sugar
zest of one orange
juice from the same orange
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 egg

1. Basically, either blitz the cheese and sugar until creamy, and add in the remaining stuff until it forms a nice smooth batter like consistency OR
2. Use a mixer to do the above.
3. Set aside

Chocolate Mixture
250gm chocolate (I mix 100gm bittersweet + 150 gm normal premium cooking)
60 gm butter
3/4 cup sugar (or less)
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs + 2 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons vanilla essence (or extract, if you have the budget)

1. Melt the chocolate with the butter.
2. After it's cooled a bit, add in the remaining stuff and stir. Yes, it's that simple.
3. Pour batter into a 8" square pan, (lined, of course).
4. Add in the cream cheese mixture in dollops, and use either a skewer or fork or palette knife to give it the swirly marbly effect.
5. Bake in 180C oven for 35-40 minutes. (although book said 25-30 minutes, at 25 minutes the entire thing was still wobbly)

Serve with pouring cream, or vanilla ice cream. Warm.

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Verdict: The brownies were absolutely scrumptious. The texture of the chocolate part was dense and chocolatey, almost gooey, and the cream cheese with the lovely orange tang complemented the chocolate very well. The pouring cream neutralises any cloying sweetness that might or might not attack your palate, depending on your sugar tolerance. If you're drinking teh tarik a the mamak everyday, you probably won't find it sweet enough.

Sister who hesitantly took half a square did end up with seconds. We all agreed it would have gone jolly well with a cup of coffee, but since we didn't have decaf on hand, none of us were willing to risk a sleepless night for the sake of our palates.

Below is the picture of what the previous post mint squares are supposed to look like, in the book. That's where I got the stacking idea, but obviously, mine was tilting like the water tower in Teluk Intan (or if there are any foreign readers, for their benefit, the Leaning Tower of Pisa)

Pic taken from Golden Chocolate Book, by Page One

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Chocolate Mint Squares...Or Is It Mint Chocolate Squares?

It was a tough call, on a Tuesday evening, after a lousy day at work, whether to go for back to back classes of Body Pump and Body Combat, or veg out a bit and only go for one class... Then I happen to glance at the book that I bought at the MPH sale, THE GOLDEN BOOK OF CHOCOLATE, and flipped the page to a bookmarked "Mint Choc Squares" recipe. I just needed to "mix" something, stir up can be very theraupeutic. I can understand why witchcraft is such a popular hobby. All the stirring of cauldron and throwing in of ingredients into a boiling soup does wonders for the soul.

So, I was quite pleased to see that this particular recipe did call for some stirring, but not overbearingly so. Really wasn't in the mood for full fledged dodol or concrete.

To make the base, you need:
150gm flour (approx 1 cup)
2 tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup castor sugar

Sift the above ingredients, and rub in
2 tablespoons butter (I just chucked in about 50gm)

I just pulsed in the butter with the dry ingredients in a food processor.

Add in 1 egg beaten in 1/3rd cup water. It should form a thickish batter, almost like cookie dough, but less not as thick. I honestly expected my base to turn out like one large cookie. Spread evenly onto a 8"x8" square (obviously, if its 8 by 8 its a square la) tin, and bake for 15 minutes, in a 180C preheated oven.

Meanwhile, to make the mint filling:
Sift 350gm icing sugar
Add 2 -3 tablespoons of milk

Book called for 1 tablespoon peppermint liquer, but since I didnt have any (gasp!!! what a disgrace), I added 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint essence, which turned out a tad too strong, so maybe try 1/3rd.
Stir until the mixture becomes creamy and spreadable. I think I may have ended up adding too much milk, (I think I went up to 4½ tablespoons), which seems okay while spreading, but as I left it out of the fridge, it started melting.

For the Chocolate topping, use:
125 gm dark chocolate
60gm butter

Melt together on double boiler, OR microwave.

When the base has cooled, spread the mint filling, followed by the chocolate topping. I chose to refrigerate it awhile, as the choc topping was still runny.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Ah Yat Abalone

I sometimes wonder how people name their restaurants. Some names that have popped up that I thought were quite good, or interesting, for F&B outlets, are Just Heavenly, My Elephant, Cilantro (coz I used to think, wah, so exotic, before I found out it was just chinese parsley), Opus, A Passage Through India, Bar Savanh, Bijan (which I thought was pronounced with the French "J" as in bonJour, so it was BIH JHANNN, so classy sounding until someone hit me on the head and said, oi, its BIJAN la, as in Sesame in Malay! Plonk, there it fell from the Pedestal).... so, a name like AH YAT ABALONE is almost as unimaginative as AH KOW'S KOW YOKE, or NASI BRIYANI AHMAD...but it goes to show, the powers of marketing and branding.

They have moved from their premises at Swiss Garden, to swanky wannabe, but sadly, dead, Avenue K. For a supposedly 6 star shopping centre, the car park is eerie and dingy. One has to weave through a maze of passages to get to a lift that was functioning.

So, reaching the restaurant was like reaching an oasis after a horrendous nightmare in the desert. The occasion was a belated CNY dinner hosted by my favourite aunt, also coinciding with a visit by a Singaporean uncle.

Is it my imagination, or has the quality of ducks really improved by leaps and bounds in Malaysia? The London roast duck used to be THE golden standard by which ducks are measured, but these days, I am finding the roast duck served here to be rather delectable. Always fatty, with moist tender meat.... oddly enough, duck breast is lovely, whereas chicken breast is gross. Maybe all ducks are female. What's a female duck called by the way? A Duckess? Hmm, doesn't sound quite right. Anyway, the assorted meat platter was lovely. The suckling pig (I'm sure suckling pigs are outlawed in some countries) skin was crispy, and the jellyfish complemented the dish perfectly. The charsiu might have been a bit forgettable.

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Deep fried crab claws, very appetising, and easy to eat. Probably wrapped with some fish paste. Despite the spa treatment in a deep fryer, the claw emerged none the worse for wear in terms of greasiness.

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The signature dish of Ah Yat Abalone, which is abalone. A braised baby abalone, but very sweet, tender and juicy, with a lovely gravy to go with it. I know of people who go, "what's the big deal about abalone"....well, I personally happen to love it, especially the good quality ones, cooked correctly. These days, you never know when you're buying some clam that resembles abalone, or the real thing.

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A cholesterol platter shouting out, "I'M A CHOLESTEROL PLATTER", if I've ever seen one. A platter of beheaded prawns, with the heads used as ornaments decorating the perimeter of the plate. Rather dazzling sight to behold, but if you were Buddhist, you'd seriously be contemplating the bad karma from all that beheading.

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Some kind of fish, it escapes my brain net now, what fish it was. But it was tasty, condimented by lots of fried spring onions. Nice fish, not "sang" at all, and easy to eat.

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I THINK this was a waxed meat fried rice, but again, when you're 42, anything past 24 hours becomes a hazy memory, and you might as well ask me what I had for my 3rd birthday party and if I enjoyed the cake. From the picture, I'd say the dish was good, but I recall a lot of guests were too full to finish their portions, so there was a lot of ta pau.

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I distinctly remember my mother commenting that the santan for this cendol jelly was out of a can. It's true, there's something about canned santan, that reminds me of fake whipping cream. The synthetic aftertaste. That should be comment enough.

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A refreshing fungus soup. What do you call those crunchy nuts? Not ginko, though God knows, I need them.

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A great meal, despite the lack of creative naming, but who cares, we're chinese right, and what matters is the food.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Nigella Lawson's Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

NEWSFLASH, Recruiting players:
If you know what game this is, and are keen to play, let me know, we are always on the lookout for more legs.

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Alright, I know these may look like turd, hence I juxtaposed the very expensive bar of Lindt chocolate next to it so that you know it is NOT turd.

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Woman I am Scared Of is in town for an unscheduled thingie, and we met up last night for a quick pot luck at Godma's house. (the kids' Godma, not mine). I was tasked with vegetables and dessert.

It being a working day and all, I was feeling kinda lazy, and also, Godma's palate is very particular, this cannot eat, that cannot eat, anything cheesy was out, so I thought I'd make Nigella's Totally Chocolate Chop Chip Cookies, (from Nigella Express, which incidentally, has started airing on Travel & Living on Fridays, 8.30pm, and she is looking even more buxom and bustier, if that is even possible. Any more, she might topple over).

The first time I made them, the texture was a bit disappointing, as they didn't harden, putting paid my theory that cookies are soft when hot and hard when cold. The kids loved it, coz it was like a cross between a cake and a cookie, but I generally prefer my biscuits defined, as in crunchy.

So, here's the adapted recipe that seemed to work quite well.

125gm dark chocolate (melted)

125gm butter
75gm brown sugar

160 gm flour (increased from her original 150gm)
30 gm cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence/extract

200 gm chocolate chip
handful of crushed walnuts

1. Cream the butter and sugar. ( I used the Magimix for this, take note, GFAB)
2. Pour in the melted chocolate, (cooled), and pulse until mixed
3. Add the egg and essence. Pulse again
4. Pulse in the sifted dry ingredients. At this point you should get a cohesive cookie dough that looks like very hard frozen dark chocolate ice cream.
5. Pulse in the nuts and choc chips.
6. Scoop out (using an ice cream scoop) levelled spoons of dough, onto a baking tray.
7. Bake at 180C for 18-20 minutes.

Serve with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream......making your own cookies and cream ice cream. Divine.

This recipe makes about 15.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Latest Recipe Before the Hurricane of Change

Tunes from the Musicals....Food Glorious Food, from Oliver, and "Do You Hear the People Sing, Singing the Song of Angry Men, it is the music of a people who will not be slaves again...." are probably the two most apt songs over the weekend.

Life can be SO stressful when you have to use up a free stay voucher, coz you subscribed to one of the hotels privilege cards. So, we decided, in very refugee like style, to utilise the voucher to the max, and decided to let the 3 older kids "rough it out" by sleeping on the floor etc. (My MIL assumed that I would sleep on the couch and let the kids sleep on the bed....PUHLEEEZ, hallo!!!).

Anyway, I'd hardly call it roughing it out, even if they HAD to sleep on a hard floor, with sleeping bag and exercise mats.

It's strange how from the common carpark foyer, the two doors lead to completely separate worlds. Left to KL hilton, giltzy and glamorous, Right to Le Meridien, ....hmmm.....

Anyway, as my Starwood card is also about to expire, I thought I'd dine at Prime. (Le Meridien) However, Paprika's glowing review of Latest Recipe suddenly came to my mind, like a bulb in the imaginary speech bubble of a cartoon character. So proceeded with caution, coz I really am NOT a buffet fan, and have declared no more buffets till 2010, or the next change of PM, whichever is earlier. A cursory inspection around the buffet area revealed that it was actually quite tantalising, so I decided to give Paprika's review a try. (and made sure I subjected her to pressure by sms-ing her that I was there at HER recommendation).

I was rather pleased with the freshly cut sashimi, thought it was a mistake ordering the tuna sashimi, coz that was rather bland and tasteless. The salmon sashimi was fresh and fatty. The prawns were juicy and fairly sweet.

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The freshly rolled california roll was made better when I embellished it with a piece of sashimi salmon. One tries not to get too full on rice and carbs in a buffet.

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According to Paps, the must have was the beef teppenyaki and scallops. Boy was she right. The beef was supremely tender, and absolutely delicious. So were the scallops, which were fresh, not fishy, and swimming in a thick creamy butter sauce. Actually, that sauce is a liability, cos it really fills you up. I would ask for it sans sauce next time, or sauce separately. But let's not get saucy at this point.

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Despite my policy of no rice and carbs during buffets, nothing appeals more to this hainanese heart than fluffy yellow fattening artery clogging chicken rice. I had to try it. The impressive array of dipping sauces was also tantalizing. The chicken, and I think some duck, (its a foul feeling of inadequacy when I cant tell my fowls apart) complemented the rice well. Anyway, it was only 2 spoonsful of rice.

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Another much raved about thing to the extent of conjuring up non existent words like "fanbloodytastic" by Paprika was the Indian food buffet. Indeed, an impressive cornucopia of Northern indian delights, from tandoori to other stuff I can't pronounce. Thick yoghurty coconuty sauces with swimming meats that induce drool and drip.

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Another word that makes me delve greedily into a dish is saffron. It has the same pavlov reflex as the word LARD. But only coz it's the most expensive spice in the world. (not counting the one in DUNE folklore). However, I don't know how much saffron actually goes into briyani rice, or if its just a euphemism for the less glamourous cousin, tumeric. Nevertheless, the briyani was LUVERLY, fluffy and light, flavourful without being oily to the point of "GHEE WHIZ!"...the curries were great as well, and went perfectly with the rice. With more ground to cover, I maintained self control and did not go for seconds.

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Teppanyaki ice cream was the other thing that piqued my interest in Pap's blog. Anyway, it wasn't fried ice cream, but rather, "fried" on a very very cold plate, -20C, ..... not sure why or for what purpose. You can choose from a dizzying array of condiments, nuts, chocolate rice, sprinkles, whatever tickles your fancy. In cases like these, always aim for the expensive stuff, like walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios, ..... not chocolate rice.

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Sad to say, the ice cream was the highlight. The dismal array of cakes made me wonder why serve such good food and end with such a pathetic whimper. I found nothing of interest...the apple strudel pastry was awful and dry. Like layers of blotting paper. Another non descript layered thing, which tasted like thick wantan skin.... awful.

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Knowing that a fresh fig cost like RM6 each, I had to try this one that served a whole quarter of a fig. Okay, I concede I don't know what is so appealing about a fig. And so figging expensive too. The jelly like thing in the cup was largely forgettable.

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Verdict, even going there for the indian, and teppenyaki alone would have been worth it, at RM88 ++ per head. Lesser variety than say Lemon Garden, but generally good quality stuff.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Preserve Your Cuisine At Least

This is a food blog, so I have to find a way to put a food spin onto this particular article that was in our papers yesterday. With March 8th coming up, there is so much in the media that makes me roll eyes, so much so, I've resorted to buying Eye Mo by the barrel to keep them eyeballs constantly lubricated.

But THIS article takes the cake. Basically it was a call from the Indian Muslim Youths demanding that they be called Malays.

"I am a second generation Malaysian and I can safely say that from wedding rituals to the food we eat and the language we speak, we conform to Malay customs all the way.
"As such, Gepima is appealing to the government to streamline the laws and recognise Muslims born after independence as Malays in their birth certificate.
"We feel uncomfortable to be known as Indians, because people automatically think we are Hindus when we are actually Muslim."
Kader added that Muslims of Indian origin suffered an inferiority complex by being regarded as Indians.
"Our children do not even know how to speak Tamil.
"They only converse in Malay and our wives wear baju kurung or kebaya nowadays, no more the saree."

With all due respect, my kids don't speak Chinese, but I'm hardly appealing to the Queen to make me English. Anyway, the fact that FOOD was in the equation, made me feel it is my duty as a food blogger to rally against any people willing to turn their backs on their ancestral cuisine!!!! Oh the outrage!!! With one fell swoop, they are turning their backs on centuries of rich peratal, paneer, tandoori, dhal . Papa Damn!!! Outrageous. I mean, I respect the Malay culture etc with all my heart, but for a particular race to want to be recognised as another race, ....hmmmm....where's my Eye Mo extra moist

Speaking of ancestral cuisine, we leeched onto my inlaws last Sunday for a good dose of homely cooked hakka inspired (I think) at this nondescript restaurant called Soon Kee in Prima Kajang. After one of the tolls on the SILK highway, take the turn off to Semenyih, and its somewhere in the shophouses on the left. Can find?

The char yoke, fatty pork deep fried in 5 spice and then braised in a rich sauce with wood ears, was very good, and very reminiscent of the late grandmother inlaw's version. My own grandmother's version of course, is the best, and is vaguely replicated by one of the maids, and possibly my uncle. (mental note to self: go and write down all these recipes for posterity, before the last bastion of knowledge kicks the bucket).

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Egg foo yong, but I didn't get to try this coz it was for the kid's table. Like a locust swarm, the kids polished this in under 3 minutes. It can be quite cheap to feed kids.... just give them rice and egg, and let the mothers breastfeed them till puberty. (have you see the price of milk lately?)

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Beancurd with mince meat. Looked delicious, but again, the locusts got to it first.

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Ah, one of my all time favourite comfort foods. Seng Kwa (Ketola, or is it Petola) with Bean Curd. Ah, screw the newspaper articles that say any bean curd with browned skin, including foo choke, is artificially colored, and therefore are a health hazard. Afterall, margarine was "healthier than butter" until that awful myth was debunked recently.

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I think this is another signature hakka dish, vinegared pork trotters. Well, either hakka or hokkien la. Now, I am ambivalent about this dish, as it's not one of my growing up staples, and is largely associated with pregnant women. While I might have the shape of one, I do not crave this dish per se, but having said that, over the years, it has grown on me, (the dish, not the fat, though that also has grown on me), and I found this version particularly delectable. The sauce was thick, apparently made so by gula melaka, and it wasn't overly sour, and the meat was tender and falling off the bone. [thanks to Girl from Abu Dhabi for mentioning pork trotters, I completely forgot to put this para in]

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The star dish of the night had to be this steamed fish in ginger sauce. Absolutely divine. Not a big fan of ginger per se, I found myself literally scooping up the ginger sauce and eating it just like that. The ginger, infused with the sauces that steamed the fish, and presumably the taste from the fish itself, gave a lovely tingling feel to the palate.

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Steamed fish in yet another way. Apparently there are bits of deep fried pork lard within that gloriously rich red sauce, but I couldn't really tell. The problem is, all these dishes go very well with RICE.

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And just when I thought, okay, finally a sensibly portioned dinner, not overly full, the FIL orders a plate of Hokkien Mee. Argh, talk about the proverbial Achilles Heel in the Body of Resolve. Even the kids came scurrying over, with mine going in that Oliver Twist manner, "can i have some more" after hurriedly finishing his first helping. The mee was well fried, the sauces caramelised in a wok with enough wok hei, and an adequate helping of deep fried lard. A bit more wouldn't have gone amiss.

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Overall, a simple but delicious dinner. And that is why I was still at my fattest. Though after a day of sensible eating, and exercise, I have dipped below the all time high. But only just.

Monday, March 03, 2008

MIL's 70th Birthday Dinner

Actually, I was going to post my latest endeavour by that buxom black haired houris, with ample cleavage and british accent that can send shivers down your spine. Kylie Kwong also sends shivers down my spine with her accent, but that's accompanied with goose bumps and an inexplicable urge to throw something at the tv.

The latest endeavour being TOTALLY CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES, an orgasmic something something disguised as a cookie, coz it contained like 300gms of 70% dark chocolate, AND more chocolate chips....

BUT, a distant acquaintance remarked that my last picture of the mint choc chip cookies resembled turd. I would have dismissed that, had it not been for the collaborating opinion of Lyrical Lemongrass, the golden standard by which I measure my thing by. Here is her sms:

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Luckily, I don't have an SLR, so I can still blame my tools for my poor picture quality.

So instead, I shall just share my lovely weekend dinner with all, as it was my MIL's 70th birthday. The Equatorial Bangi is like 2nd home to the IL family, and it would have been UNTHINKABLE to hold an important dinner like this somewhere else. In any case, I have no complaints, for the food here (for us anyway) is always par excellent....

A well meaning friend of the MIL's said these occasions MUST begin with longevity baos. Wife warned me, "there's more food after the baos so dont fill yourself on those". Just how duhh does she think I am. Having said that, after having to eat up the balance of the kids half eaten baos, I was pretty full after the baos.

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Longevity Buns. I dunno what the connection between peaches and long life is, but who are we to question age old oriental tradition.

Then came the 3 seasons, I guess winter was omitted. When planning the menu, I had thrown in my 2 sen worth to say skip this dish, which I almost never really like, anywhere. More often nicer to look at that to actually eat, this course takes up precious stomach space that could well be utilised with other dishes. The same can be said at wedding dinners, when the 2 hour wait for the entrance of bride and groom makes this, by default, the most popular dish.

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Our seasons were already pre apportioned. They comprised some fish cake thingie, cold baby octopus with jelly fish, and a fried tuna yam puff.

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Such care into decorating the fish into a lotus flower.

Next up was the ginseng soup with black chicken, fish maw, scallops, abalone..... oh, the chilli padi is my own addition. I must have chilli padi with my food. Whole chunks of dried scallops, in a gorgeous black chicken broth, that really WOULD be chicken soup for my soul.... it's like a mini "monk jump over the wall" without the "payer hitting the ceiling" when they get the bill.

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Adolescent lobsters, probably hanging out at the Beach Club, having an oyster shooter or two before they ended up stewed in superior XO stock with chinese wolfenberry. My personal opinon is that Chinese do lobster the best way. All that thermidor and mornay stuff just overpowers the lovely taste of lobster.

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Honey Glazed Cod. I'm not a cod fan. Nor of their liver oil. Memories of Scotts Emulsion being forcible shoved down my throat with threat of cane in hand.....does nothing to make me feel any affinity for this deep sea fish. Fortunately, I have offspring that lurve Cod, and can find space to stuff two slices of these into their stomach. A debate ensued as to what herb that was embellishing that dish, as I silently rolled my eyes, and muttered, "Hey, thyme's up, everyone who said ROSEMARY or OREGANO or SAGE is sagely wrong".

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By this time, the soup was helping the longevity baos expand like a horrified puffer fish in my stomach, and I was feeling very full. Luckily, we were already onto our vegetable dish, braised mushroom with more scallops and more abalone. Initially they thought it was abalone mushroom, but nope, it's the real mccoy.

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And finally, the longevity noodles. Lovely flavour, and certainly very long.

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What's that proverbial saying, there's always room for dessert? Yup especially when it's my favourite durian pancake, (have mentioned this before in my CNY post), but especially good this time, was the avocado kataifi. I haven't heard this word kataifi before this year, maybe it's the culinary word of the year, but I gather it refers to that fried meehoon-ish thing that wraps your filling. The first time I'd heard of it was at friend;s birthday at Max Kitchen.

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Look at that glorious yellowish pungent flesh bursting forth from its pillow cover like an overstuffed eiderdown pillow.
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The avocado kataifi is gorgeous. Subtley sweet, not like your "teh tarik kurang manis" that can still yield 2kg of sugar after you evaporate the whole cup, and the kataifi was nice and crisp.

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And the cold dessert, a very complex Chinese cold errr...soup? Chilled snow jelly with sea nest and american ginseng. Gosh, no wonder it was up all night....

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The bowl of the chilled snow jelly rest atop another bowl, which contains live decorations, such as this neon tetra....

Finally, the fruit platter.

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Is it any wonder why I'm at my fattest ever?