Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Johor Delights At the Cooking House, With Chef Esa

I've forgotten how enjoyable it is to attend cooking classes, especially if you have friends attending together, and its at your favourite cooking venue. I had also not realised how DIFFICULT it is to attend a cooking class when your head is throbbing from a hangover due to excessive partying the night before.

When Wai Hoong asked me if there were any local dishes offered in any cooking classes, I immediately pointed him towards Cooking House's schedule, with Chef Esa. I myself have always been meaning to attend his class, as I had walked into one of his classes once and the aroma was breathtaking. Also, when Thamby did a photoshoot of the celebrity chef awhile back, I popped in to kaypoh, and thought to myself that Chef Esa looked liked a really nice chap. So, with this golden opportunity, I quickly signed up for the class.

The dishes to be taught that day were Laksa Johor (the raison d'etre why I was there), Otak Otak, Soto Ayam and Ikan Masak Pedas. Yum, I am salivating in a most undignified manner just recollecting the whole thing.

We have here the Chef in various poses, doing various things. All wholesome things, of course. He makes everything look so easy, with his easy going selamba style.

I always think Asian cooking is so complicated, with the myriad herbs and spices. No wonder its always such a hit in the west, just open a restaurant in Australia, and chuck in a whiff of lemongrass, galangal and tumeric, wah, sounds darn exotic and glamorous. Imagine, laksa johor, a fusion of east and west. A thick herb infused mackerel broth, with spices to tantalise the most jaded of palates, served with an aldente spaghetti. I dont know why, but the dizzying smells of sauteeing spices and herbs, like galangal, tumeric, fennel, chilli pastes, just makes me feel so comforted.

One of my favourite items I learnt in that class was how to make the potato cakes, bergedil. Absolutely yummy, meant to complement the soto ayam, but delicious eaten even just like that on its own. Nasi impit, not one of my favourite foods to begin with, was justifiably the instant ones from the packet. For me, its a highly optional item. (the nasi impit I mean) Nasi impit, to the non-golden chersonese lingua franca speaking people, is pressed or compressed rice, usually served with satay, or in this case, soto. Soto and Sate are not brothers and sister.

The great thing about these types of cooking class is the expecation of lunch that follows, getting to sample what has been put together from scratch, from raw onions, to a delectable scrumptious meal, of exotic johorean appeal. It's heart warming to see all the students chip in and doing their bit to set the table, so to speak. Some are shredding the chicken, some are rolling the otak otak, some are frying the bergedil, there's such a village communal feel to the whole thing. Almost makes me want to turn Amish.

Ah, my favourite! LAKSA JOHOR, assembled by me of course. Such a cornucopia of flavours and texture. The delicious complex fishy stock, the springiness of the pasta, the crunch of the raw long beans, the zing from the shallots, the fragrance of the laksa leaves, (daun kesum), the tanginess of the calamansi and the heat from the sambal belacan.

The asam pedas was delicious as well, with rice. But as that was the first thing to be served, in our hunger, I forgot to take pics. The otak otak is different from the nyonya or thai variey, and has more body and bounce.

I CANNOT wait to try out especially the Laksa Johor and Soto Ayam recipes. Anyone wants to be my guinea pigs? Ooops, politically incorrect word to use. Anyone wants to be my guinea fowl? Hmm, somehow, doesnt have the same meaning. Guinea Sow? Send me a slogan on why you should be invited. Cheelaka hor, who do I think I am!

Do check out the wonderful assortment of cooking classes, including by yours truly, at the COOKING HOUSE. So far, I've always enjoyed attending classes there.


qwazymonkey said...

I'll be your guinea monkey! Can't wait.

Must compliment on the nicely assembled bowl of laksa. 10-points for ahpa! Really nice. Talented lah you.

HairyBerry said...

ohhh, i'll be whatever guinea you want me to be! pig ker, monkey ker, stout ker. anything! :)

the slogan competition still on ar? :)

Sean said...

the chef looks selamba indeed! his eyes seem to be closed in ALL of your photos! are u sure he wasn't sleepcooking??
would sell my unborn child for your cooking talents. the last time i cooked was in 1998, when i fried chicken nuggets. the skin outside was burnt, while the meat inside was still frozen (but hunger compelled me to eat those six nuggets nevertheless). so imagine me trying to make bergedil. :D

Ciki said...

wa, looks delish.. so when r we trying our ahpa's laksa?!

J said...

*waves hands frantically*
OOh - MeMeMe! :)

Happy to be guinea pig/fowl anytime!

Lyrical Morgan Lemongrass said...

I remember the first time we met him. You declared that he was going to be your next FOTY. *snigger*

Here's my slogan:

I should be invited because...

North South East West
Cornelia's Laksa Johor is the best
Eenie Meenie Miney Moe
Godammnit gimme some of your Soto

fatboybakes said...

morgan darkchild, quite the poet arent you. for that, you can be assured you shall be forefront in the guinea line. as for esa, yup, i want him as my foty. i got no FOTY chef friends.

J, hahaha, we'll have to draw lots if the response is good.

ciki, ooh, calling the offspring card.

UnkaLeong said...

*raises hands* me!me!me!

I absolutely loooove Laksa Johor.

fatboybakes said...

sean, aiyo, you're right, i didnt realise that, but no la, i think its just my bad photography, or he was tunduking, so it looked like closed eyes. he's an excellent teacher. sell your unborn child? call me rumpelstiltskin.

hairy berry, hahaha, guinea stout! sooo crever. just for that, i'll make sure i make it when you in town.

monkey, hmmm, another one calling the ahpa card. very crever.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

aiyer, need to have slogan meh:

can use, i am getting hitched reason?? hahaha..

J said...

If I put in a slogan, will that greatly increase my chances to get an invite for FBB's Laksa Fest? Ok?

I try ah - don laff!:
(Meena did a poem oredi, so I'll try a haiku instead)
O' Glorious Laksa,
Deftly prepared by Ah Pa,
Please test on me - can?

Ok ah?
*muka kesian* ~_~

Babe_KL said...

whoa laksa johor is my utmost fave laksa!!! i ought to be invited cos

(1) i introed you to The Cooking House :p

(2) i never been to any of your makan feast!!!

PureGlutton said...

Whether invited or not, I'm sure your Laksa Johor will be a blast! May the fragrance of the fried spices linger in your house forever, hehe! Now, isn't that a good wish to start the year rolling? :P

rokh said...

"guinea pig" is my first and only beloved pet...i am so ready to act as him...pretty please!!! :D

fatboybakes said...

pure glutton, i am mindful that i owe you a lunch after your hospitality...long overdue. sooo, if i ever attempt it, you're on lady.

babekl, aiya, the last one i wanted to invite you but you in oz ma. thankyew hor, for intro-ing me to cooking house. it opened a whole new world. (bursting into aladdin's song).

J ah, no slogan contest la. i think invites will be on a "as need" basis.'re getting hitched, and i have to cook for you? hmmm, that's a new one.... heh heh...

ToyGirl said...

I should be invited to test your laksa because I am your MOST honest and loyal fan and critic.

Kenny Mah said...

I totally believe I should be in line to taste your virgin attempt at Laksa Johor because:

(i) I've never tried Laksa Johor before;
(ii) My better half, the Devil Wears Prada, is from Johor; and
(iii) The Devil haven't tried it before either...

Can, can? :D

foodcreate said...

Honest to goodness look so delicious :)

Thank you for sharing your dish :)

Have a great day !

Flower said...

I've been craving for laksa johor for a long time, but too lazy to make it. So bila tgk gambar, meleleh air liur.....

Term papers said...

The great thing about these types of cooking class is the expectation of lunch that follows, getting to sample what has been put together from scratch, from raw onions, to a delectable scrumptious meal, of exotic johorean appeal. said...

I'm starving...:) I like this recipe and must give it a try. But this will happen not earlier than on Saturday! You can find any free online proofreading services to make some changes in your writings!