Saturday, March 1, 2008

Our Hurricane KL Trip

Oh, we haven't told you. Both Nee & I were away in KL for a two-day Hurricane trip. Among the other more serious duties, it was another opportunity for Nee to stock up her baking ingredients & her MNG collection.

It wasn't so much a food trip this time, so you may think that our choice of restaurants were a bit off. But as usual, off or not off, we started eating even before we boarded the plane. It was sort of a pre-KL eating frenzy warm-up.

We don't usually hang around places like Coffee Bean cos we've past that stage of hanging out in cool places to be seen & to be cool. There's no point for us to induldge ourselves in this kind of pastime anymore cos nobody's looking at us anyway, & we're helplessly transitioning into the uncle auntie phase. That is definitely not a cool thing.

But at that point in time it seemed like the only 'safe' place to be when your flight is delayed, & you dread thinking about the food on board Airasia. Plus, it had the magic thing - free wifi! For a food blogger, food & internet is a deadly combination.

Oh look! It's Terri's A Daily Obsession! (Free advert although she doesn't need it anymore)

Anyway, here's what we got.

Chef's Tuna with Focaccia bread. Healthy!

Oh BTW, the actual serving is about double of what you see in the photos. We only realised we forgot to take pictures when we were walloping halfway through.

I had a sudden craving attack for American breakfast & this was the closest Coffee Bean could ever get to that.

Break O' Day. Nice!

Excellent Salad.

Oh look! A hurricane just swept thru town!

Really, we never did expect to enjoy this little meal amidst the tension during a delayed flight. It was really a very pleasant surprise.

Coffee Bean, you go boy!

P.S. We didn't touch a single drop of coffee.
P.P.S. Marybrown's opening at the depature hall very soon.
P.P.P.S. OMG I hope this recent craving for commercial food is just a passing craving. I pray our standards will not drop down to that level.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Red Hot Curry Chicken

Cooking Curry Chicken can be easy with ready made curry powder and are usually edible. However, a good dish of curry chicken is signified by:

1) Well blended taste ~ not too hot and spicy yet with enough 'lemak' (direct translation: thick and oily)
2) After cooking, chilli oil will float upwards ('naik minyak')
3) Coconut milk is well blended, i.e. not separated from the rest of sauce
4) The dish will last, unless everyone sticks their spoons into the pot or the dish is left sitting for more than a day in hot and humid weather

I usually cook mine using the 'tumis' method, which makes it more lasting and the overall taste is very lemak.

1 no of chicken about 1.5 kg, chopped into pieces
3-4 medium potatos, quartered or slightly smaller
1 no of coconut + 1/2 glass of water squeezed about 500gm of coconut milk
3 tbsp of red onion
2 tbsp of garlic
1 small packet of babas curry powder or 4 tbsp of good quality curry powder
2 pieces each of cinammon sticks, cardormon seeds, star anise and cloves
1/2 cup of oil
1 stalk of curry leaves (optional)
1 serving of spice mixture
salt and pepper to taste

Spice mixture:

I usually mix my own rather than buying ready packed ones from Indian stalls so that I would have no prob cooking this overseas in case I need to:

2 tbsp of ketumbar paste
3-4 tbsp of chilli paste
11/2 tbsp of kunyit paste
1 tbsp of jintan manis paste
1/2 tbsp of jintan puteh paste
1 tbsp of buah keras paste
1-2 tbsp of fried coconut/kerisik (optional)
1 stalk of lemongrass, chopped and blended
1/2 tbsp of kakas (optional)

1) Season the chicken with curry powder and light soya. Set aside for an hour or so.

2) In a heated wok, with 1/2 portion of oil and medium heat, stir fry the chilli paste till chilli oil starts appearing on the side of the chilli paste.

3) Add garlic and red onion and continue stir frying till fragrant. Add rest of the oil and then rest of the paste mixture, the cinammon stick, star anise, cardarmon and cloves. Stir fry till well done and fragrant. Drizzle some coconut milk (about 6-8 tbsp from the top of the coconut mixture) and stir fry till you see sizzling oil start appearing on the side of the mixture. This is the tumis method. Will ensure the 'naik minyak' bit and lemak bit.

4) Add chicken and stir fry with (3). Cover and simmer the chicken till it looks slightly shrunk. Add rest of coconut and let it boil. Then leave simmering with chicken, curry leaves and potatos till cooked. During simmering use low fire, pot lid half covered and stir occasionally so that the mixture is not burnt at the bottom. This will ensure the lasting bit and coconut milk will not separate.

5) Add seasoning as required. Taste with clean utensils.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yam (Onni) Kuih

Recently, I behaved like a typical obasan (housewife), in this case a very stupid one and bought too much yam, more than what I know to do with it. The lady in the market said they were beautiful and asked me to buy more and I ended up with 3 kg plus.

Besides making two yam fudge cake (one for dad and one for the Chap Goh Meh dinner), I made some yam chips and a yam jelly for the cell. And I still have another kg left. So I was in desperate need for a recipe that uses a lot of yam because I couldn't and wouldn't want to do another yam related dish for the next two months at least.

Luckily I managed to dig out this recipe. This is another version of yam kuih which is very very popular in Kuching. To deviate from the usual yam kuih in my previous blog, this version is the sweetish savoury version with glutinous rice on the bottom layer, onni (sweet yam paste) as 2nd layer and finally the savoury toppings. I am not sure about its origins, but it could have been from Thailand. This is my second tryout and this time the result was even better than the first. All the layers are baby soft yet firm enough to bite into.

Bottom Layer:

500gm of glutinous rice, cleaned and soaked for an hour or so

620gm of coconut juice, squeeze from 1/2 kg of coconut + 1 1/2 cup of water, add a little water to get to the weight

2 leaves of pandan, tied into knot

2 teasp of salt

2 tablesp of sugar

1) Mix all ingredients evenly and place them in a pre-greased (with cooking oil) baking tin (i use 10 inch square).

2) Steam for 18 minutes on high fire. Mixture should be about 60% done. Flip the rice to top down and bottom up and fluff it up a bit. This is to make sure that the coconut juice is evenly distributed to the grain.

3) Steam for another 18 to 20 minutes, till grains are soft and cooked. It is better to be softer cause once cooled, the grain can be hard if too dry.

4) Dish out and press into a 9 inch loose bottom baking tin. Press evenly.

Onni (Yam Paste) Layer:

850 to 950 gm of yam, cubed steam cooked and mashed finely

280gm to 300gm of sugar

200 to 220gm of water

100 to 150gm of cooking oil

1) In a heat up wok, stir in yam. Add 1/2 of water and and continue stirring til yam looks wet. Add 1/2 of sugar. Then rest of water. Continue stirring. Mixture will start to look sticky. Add rest of sugar. Stir till sugar dissolve.

2) Add oil in two batches. Cook until mixture resembles a paste and leaves the side of the wok. If you like it super smooth, bamix it (Nee's Lazy term for blend with a hand-held blender).

3) Dish out and place onto of bottom layer. Press evenly.


150gm of salted radish (Chai Po), washed and taste for saltiness. Not to over-wash otherwise it will taste bland. Chop/blend into little pieces.

90gm of dried prawns, washed and blended into little pieces.

3-4 stalks of spring onion, chopped into little pieces

2-3 med big chillies, with or without seeds depending on taste, chopped into little pieces

1 tbsp of minced red onion

1 tbsp of minced garlic

sugar, pepper to taste

4 tbsp of oil

1) With some oil, fry the dried prawns pieces to fragrant. Dish out.

2) Add some more oil and continue stir frying onion, garlic and chai po till fragrant. Add back dried prawns and finally spring onion and chillies. Dish out and press evenly onto the onni layer.

Cool for 2-3 hours before cutting. Best to be consume on the day it was made. If you fridge it, steam the amount you want for a few minutes to soften the rice before eating.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Mission in Kowloon

We journeyed to Kowloon on our first nite in Hong Kong. The mission was to check out, book and pay the deposit for the room in this little hotel that was featured on Terri's blog, on Temple Street. Jiun Loong Hotel was on Temple Street, not Terri's blog. Heeheehee.

It was our original intention to stay at Hong Kong Island for the first few nights and then move over to Kowloon for the last two. So we were quite confident of Jiun Loong cos we knew Terri knows a good thing when she sees one.

Kowloon is definitely different from the Hong Kong Islands. It was blink blink everywhere. With all the myriad of neon lights that surrounded us, it was difficult to pin-point the hotel. I can't imagine how it'd be like for someone who's colour-blind.

But pin-point the hotel we did. Our eyes joomed in, and there it was - at the junction of Temple and Jordan Street. Not much of a sight from the outside. It looks like one of those cheesy & sleazy by-the-hour inns. Our first instinct was to run & swim all the way back to the island.

But when we stepped inside, the hotel people were nice enough to let us see the rooms before we actually put down the money. We saw the superior room with the kinky see-through bathroom. It was very clean. But the price just wasn't right. It was HKD850 (RM389) without extra bed. It turned out to be not a relatively good deal cos staying at the 4-star-ish Novotel Century, we were paying about the same.

This is the thing. It was supposed to be the low season but hotel rates there were anything but low. Somehow the rates have all shot up. Maybe they saw us coming. "Look, it's the three Malaysian Stooges! Let's raise our prices!"

They had other cheaper rooms for HKD600 (RM270) & HKD100 (RM45) for an extra bed, but those gave Nee the creeps. So we gave it up & decided to continue staying at Novotel. Even that was risky cos we didn't know if Novotel would continue giving us the same rates. "Look, the three stooges want to stay on. Let's raise our rates!"

So to sum up our situation at that time, we were really going to take a chance on Novotel. For all we knew, we could have ended up sleeping on the streets.

So with that possibility weighing down on our mental & pshychological state of mind, we did the next logical thing - hunt for food.

A little further up Temple St from Jordan St, we turned left and found this little tong sui (dessert) place, Min Kee. It's not the typical recommended place in the books but why not since wnothing can be worst than three Malaysian tourists sleeping on the streets of Hong Kong.

The place was exactly what we like though ~ small, unknown, old, authentic & original.
We had these three variations.

Papaya cooked with white fungus. Just nice, not too sweet, clear & refreshing.

Egg with beancurd drink ~ Interesting combo! Excellently not too sweet as well.

The best of all ~ Black sesame concoction (Zi Ma Hu). Really really really smooth. Did I say really? The kind that'd make you clean your bowl. Yup! We licked them bowls clean folks!

You see, our holidays usually end up sounding like missions. But I guess that's part of the whole journey of having fun. No hunt, no fun! We did well here. Fingers crossed for the hotel.

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