Saturday, October 20, 2007

Honey Roasted Chicken

This is another very simple dish and one that Greg would eat quite a fair bit. Oh, I forget to mentioned that he is a very square person when it comes to his food. He eats one thing at a time. So on his spoon you will only find rice and one other dish.

I think he does not like, or know how to mix his food. In other words, he compartmentalises what is on his plate. Therefore, if he does not like something, the signals go straight to his brain immediately and he would not touch the dish anymore. So I am really happy that he almost finished half of the chicken when I cooked this.

You can find this chicken dish at Choice Daily or Giant stores or like Greg says, a bit like Kenny Rogers' Roasters. Aunty Terry at hungerhunger has a slightly different version, but is just as easy.

1.8 to 2 kg of free range chicken
2 teasp of salt
1 teasp of black pepper
1/2 lemon
some fresh basils and rosemary or mixed dried herbs (optional, I put because i need to do something with ones growing in my garden)
1/2 cup of honey

1) Clean and pat dry the chicken. Marinade the chicken with salt and pepper, rub half of the above portion on each side of the chicken. Set aside for 3 hours or more.

2) Stuff lemon, herbs in the chicken cavity.

3) I used the turbo hat oven cooker pot. This pot roasts meat very nicely. Turn to 200 deg cel to cook the breast side for 25 min or so. Brush with some honey.

4) Turn to the other side and roast at the same temperature for 20 min or so. Then brush some honey on it. Make sure you cover all corners. Tip: We dont marinade chicken with honey because honey cameralised very quickly and cause the skin to burn before the chicken can cook. So with roasting, we only apply at the end.

5) Turn back and roast to brown the chicken at same temperature for 8 to 10 min. Brush with honey again. Finally do the same with other side. Make sure you check consistently as you dont want to char the chicken. Cool slightly before cutting. Keep the juice at bottom of pot as sauce.

Serving tips:
Can eat with rice in the chinese way.
With potatos and salad in the western way.
Leftovers especially the breast can be used for sandwiches, pita bread combined with tomatos, lettuce and some ham and mayonaise for quick lunch.
Strip the leftovers for pizzas topped with pineapples for Hawaiian.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Art of Kek Lapis

Sarawakians like to think that Kek Lapis belongs to us. Well, within Malaysia, it definitely is. I saw some in Penang before and my Aunt Linda gave me some of her friend's version while we were in KK, Sabah earlier on this year. But they're mainly the usual kek lapis (layer cake) or Greg's Zebra Cake. In Sarawak, we have Kek Lapis, Kek Lapis Corak (Pattern Layer Cake), Kek Lapis Gulung (Lapis Roll).

NEE's San Cha (haw flakes) Lapis

Layer Cake is the most common. The batter is so thinly spread that baking is done with high with top oven fire only. Each layer takes 2 -3 min to cook and next layer is spread on, level and bake again. Repeat process til batter finishes. Layer cakes comes in many flavours but we prefer the ones with original ingredients like prune, yam, chocolate, cheese, san cha, horlick, coffee and the usual traditional ones with spices.

Kek Lapis originated from Indonesia. Apparently it was first brought into the state by an Indonesian lady, who sold & taught the art of lapis in Singapore (weird, most Singaporean only eat the Traditional Indonesian Layer Cake which is with a hint of spices like cinammon and nutmeg).

I guess the local creative ingenuity had reengineered layer cakes into many different varieties and flavour and compositions. Of course the Indonesian ladies who married local men working in timber businesses in Indonesia, actually helped add to the local lapis scene. Sarawak is so closely linked to Indonesia that transfer of 'technology' & 'sociology' easily seeps through.

I haven't been making lapis at all since Chinese New Year. But the Hari Raya celebrations has gotten me in to the mood again.

Ros pased me a book called Kek Lapis Sarawak by a Malay lady called Rabiah Umit. It has many mind-bending psychedelic flower-power patterns, but the recipes suck! It tells people to literally throw everything in the mixer and beat. Ehmmm where got people bake like that unless they're making dry hard rocks.

So that's why I preferred to stick to my usual Indonesian version for very soft & moist cakes. And use it for Pattern Lapis and Lapis Rolls.

There are countless many many patterns one can do with Lapis Rolls. I've tried 4 types only. Like Pattern Lapis, this Lapis Rolls required precision in cutting the cakes and the patterns are formed by 'glueing' the various cuts together with strawberry or apricot jam.

This is the simplest form of Pattern Lapis. By pressing each layers with a mold during baking, wavy curves are created and can be seen once you cut the cakes.

This one took me the whole afternoon. I dont think I want to do this anymore for quite a while. Pattern Lapis is the hardest. Accuracy and precision is required. Otherwise, the cake will look completely off balance. There are so many patterns. Some even have sunflowers or words such as Happy Raya once you cut the cake. Cutting a Pattern Lapis is a true delight!

Tips for buying good lapis:
1) Cake must be moist. If you refridgerate it, you should defrost before serving and it will still be moist
2) Cake should last at least a month or more without any persevatives added if you store in normal refridgeration
3) Layers are even and fine for layer cakes
4) Patterns are nicely balanced for lapis rolls and pattern lapis.
5) Lapis rolls and pattern lapis look nice but taste so so and has a fair bit of colouring included. Beware! Some could be very very sweet.

Dont leave Sarawak without one! Price Guide: Layer Cakes with different flavours should not cost in the range of RM 50 to RM 80 for 8"X 8", depending on the ingredient. Lapis Rolls should not costs more than RM30 per 8" roll. Pattern lapis ranges from RM 90 to RM150 depending on the complexity of the patterns.

Try getting homemade ones if you can. Ask around, there will always be someone who knows someone who sells them.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Umai: Local Sashimi Salad

As we started blogging, we realised that they are many things we used to take for granted. Sarawakian food being one of them.

I began to believe in my theory that not many food franchises even bother with Sarawak, because Sarawakians are basically too addicted to our own local food. The kopitiam culture has always been flourishing. New shops are opening everywhere even though they basically serve about the same food. Kolo Mee, Laksa, Chicken Rice, Kueh Chap, Porridge are the usual suspects. And yet these shops are still always packed.

Besides our Laksa, we have this very local dish called Umai. This is a Melanau dish, which for some reason is not easily found in Kuching City except for hotels. Melanaus are native Sarawakians who are the fisher people and Umai is very much their daily staple. It is their no fuss lunch.

We tried finding a nice place that serves this but were unsuccessful - anyone know any place for this?! Mukah Seafood Restaurant (they made nice ones) had closed down. So, please dont tell us to go to Mukah. Mukah town by the way is in the central region of Sarawak, accessible by road and boat. By road, you would have to go to Sibu first and then take a 2-3 hours drive to Mukah.

Umai is a dish which comprises of fresh raw fish with some sour juices like lemon or lime or limau and assam payak, salt, chillis, sugar, onions. You can basically used any fish but fresh water fish are seldom used. So fish like black and white pompret, white snappers and some of local fish are good especially if it does not have too many bones to clean and the flesh is fine and can be easily filleted. The key is it must FRESH. It would not only be stinky, it would give a almighty tummy upset if you compromise. I used NZ Salmon for my recipe this time. Indulgence.

Another important ingredients that is very localised is the assam payak.

This fruit is rather seasonal to city folks like us because you get it sometimes and sometimes you don't. The skin can be darker or redder depending on the season. The market folks said it is usually in abundance from June or July onwards and it gets lesser towards November or December. By the way, please dont eat this fruit raw in any big quantity cause they are highly acidic. I dont think you want to bleach your tummy. If you are overseas, too bad, you have to use just lemons.

400gm of fresh salmon or one medium size black pompret
5-6 pcs of assam payak
1/2 lemon or 4-5 pcs of limau kasturi (our local limau)
1 teasp of salt
1 tbsp of sugar
2 medium chillis, clean and rid the seeds and thinly sliced
Some msg if you want

1) Clean fish. Fillet the fish from bottom upwards, sticking as close to the centre bone. Then fillet off the skin. Tip: Use a good knife for fillet and do it with one straight stroke. Try not to 'saw' as you fillet. Pick out any fish bones. Hold your knife at 30 deg and slice the fish thinly against the grain.

2) Grate the assam payak with a small grater, let the juice flow into a dish. Sift to get the pure juice.

3) Combine all ingredients and marinade for at least half an hour in fridge. Once the assam payak touches the fish slices, it will turn slightly whitish like acid is cooking the fish.

Side ingredients:
25gm of dried prawns, chopped up
4 pcs of red onions, thinly sliced
1 small pc of ginger (like the size of your thumbs), thinly sliced to fine strips
1 small stalk of local celery (kim Chai) as Greg and I both hates this, I put only put like one thin stalk. You can put a stalk of two more.
2 pcs of red chillis, seed cleaned out and thinly sliced.

4) With a table spoon of oil, fry the dried prawns til fragrant and slightly crispy. Dish out and add to fish mixture
5) Prepare and add rest of ingredients. Mix well. Chill it and serve it cold. Hot umai is hmmm weird. Add seasoning like salt, sugar and msg to your taste.

YUM! YUM! I can eat the whole lot by myself. Umai is truly a gourmet delight!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hari Raya Royal Rumble!

CK, Nee & I went visiting on the first day of Raya last Saturday nite. We are probably the most food-starved beings in the whole planet when it comes to Hari Raya. It really looked like we had been starving for the whole week.

The main objective of our Hari Raya visits every year is first and foremost about the food, and then only secondly about the friends. It's amazing we still have the later.

This is the usual spread that you will find in any typical Malay house. We helped ourselves like chipmunks eating for winter.

The Malays like to serve kek lapis which, I've mentioned before, look like zebras. They usually come in all sorts of technicolour designs & psychedelic colours with interesting names.

These are Lapis Gulung Ketupat (Lapis rolling the ketupat).

And these are Lapis Gulung Tikar (Lapis rolling the carpet).
Psst! Nee's lapis are at the back!

Lapis Gulung Sofa?

There were also all sorts of homemade biscuits. Ros made a lot of those choc ones.

Then when we finished walloping the cakes & biscuits, we pressed the button and the real food came out of the kitchen! The main spread usually consists of chicken curry, ayam masak merah (chicken cook red) & ayam masak hitam (chicken cook black) .

Lemang rice is a must have at every Raya household, and it goes superbly well with anything spicy from above.

It's Royal Rumble time!

Of the Malaysian Astronauts...

Read here for Ah Lien's latest blog entry on the Malaysian Astronauts.

And also here for the older post.
And also here by Ah Lien.

Puppy Power Updates!!!

Nee & I were really looking forward to today, not only because it's a Raya public holiday, but because we're bringing the puppies to the vet. This visit is looooong overdue.

So we chucked the puppies in the back seat with my father-in-law who actually had a conversation with them, 'Wah! So nice hor? Can go in the car and eat wind.'

The vet clinic is in a house just before King's Centre.

The Doctor's name is Dr. Lu, which rings a bell with my father-in-law, as he thinks all dogs are called Ah Lu.

Newspapers are widely used in Malaysia for different purposes. They use newspaper to wrap vegetables & other things you buy from the wet market. Newspapers are also widely used for house painting. This is just another way of using it.

The pups were given vaccination shots. But before that, their temperature had to be taken, up their fat butts!

Ah Beng got violated on a Chinese newspaper.

Ah Seng was also violated.

Finally, poor Ah Khiong, the tiny Microsoft Windows puppy, also had to take it up his butt.

Nee was very worried that the pups would yelp like the end of the world, but the shots were quick & painless. I was told that the trick was to tickle them below their chins to take the sensations away. Amazingly it worked on all three of them!

When it came to the registration form, we had to fill in their names. We thought of Ah Lu, LuLu & LuLuLu. But it got quite confusing with Dr. Lu.

So the dogs are now officially registered as Ah Beng, Ah Seng & Ah Khiong. Here are their mugshots from the Sibu Police Lockups:

Ting Ming Beng: named so after its perceived cunning leadership quality & intelligence.

Ting Ming Seng the notorious samseng. All 100% brawns.

Ting Ming Khiong the underachiever & follower. The one who makes the drinks & run errands for the other two.

And finally, Ting Ming Wee, also the one who runs errands for Roger & Nee.

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