Thursday, July 10, 2008

Watercress Chicken Soup

The Chinese have a very interesting way of cooking their soup ~ double simmering soup (toun tang) . Soup is placed in a small claypot or porcelain pot, and this pot is then placed in a bigger pot of boiling of water. Double simmering means simmering a smaller pot in a bigger pot of water. The surrounding simmering hot water will cook the content in the the smaller pot.

And it is supposed to be very nutrious as all the essence of the ingredients will be slowly squeezed out from the slow simmering in a claypot. The smaller soup pot will not directly touch the heat source and there is no big movement in the ingredients during cooking unlike direct boiling. The results are usually very clear, thick and 'sweet' tasting soups, which does not need any msg or even salt.

One of our favourite is Xi Yang Chai Toun Chi Tang (Watercress Chicken Soup). Normally, this soup is done with pork ribs. In the chinese tradition, xi yang chai (watercress) helps to reduce body heat while the chicken gives energy and nutrition.

Serve 4
1/2 no of small kampung chicken about 500gm, chopped to smaller pieces
1 bunch of xi yang chai or watercress
8-10 pcs of red dates
1 litre of water

1) Pick the tender part of watercress from the stem and set aside. Tie all the hard stems with a thread.

2) Boil some water. Blanch chicken or pork rib. Bring to a boil to rid the blood and any dirt. Strain off water.

3) Boil the 1 litre of water in a normal pot. Add chicken followed by red dates and the bunch of hard stems of water cress. Bring to boil. Add the tender part of watercress. Turn off fire. This way the soup will not taste raw or stink from the meat.

4) Pour all content into a claypot. Close lid and place claypot in another pot of boiling water. This external pot of water must be boiling as we do not want the soup claypot to have too much temperature variation. Close the lid of the bigger pot. Bring to small fire and let the claypot simmer in a bigger pot for at least 2 hours.

Greg and Nee on the Go In London

We are currently at an internet cafe near King's Cross Station at Bloomsbury, Central London. Yup, you heard that right. Greg & Nee is currently on the Go in the land of the London Bridge, Red Double Decker buses, Prince William & Mr. Bean. We haven't seen either one of that yet, but we've done the double decker, & had the fish & chips with bangers, and feeling very British, with pomp & circumstance.

Our trip was very eventful right from the very beginning. We did not have a hotel booking for the first night until the very last minute, & we almost missed our flight in KL as Malaysia Airlines had to turn back all the way to Johor Bahru as it couldn't land at KLIA due to the weather.

But now we're safe & sound, & on the go again after a good night's rest. We had a proper English breakfast this morning.

Oh, by the way, internet charges here are £1.30 per hour, & it's valid for 30 days. So we'll try to update here from time to time, minus the photos, just in case you miss us!

As the English would say, Toodle-loo!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Pigging It Out in Johore Bahru

Nee & I went on the Star Cruise sometime ago in May on the Singapore-Penang-Phuket route. We took a late AirAsia flight & landed at Johor Bahru for a night's stay before we crossed over to Singapore the next morning. And what was supposed to be an overnight stopover at Johor Bahru turned out to be a WILD PARTY.

Where da party? Aiya, if you've been reading my posts, you'd know you'd have to expect a bit of exaggeration on my part.

You must remember that for people like us who are beginning to slowly edge towards the uncle & auntie phase, having supper outside late at night is already a party ok.

If you're ever in Johor Bahru, you should try this place. They sell Koay Teow Kia, which literally means 'children' of the big koay teow. :)

It's one of those hawker food that opens late into the night - simple & yet so fulfilling, & you'll never know whether it's the environment or the food itself that makes it taste so good.

We were lucky to have such wonderful hosts in JB. Kah Fei & his wife were there from the moment we stepped out of the airport. They were very gracious, whenever we open our mouths, they made sure they'd put something in there.

So, obviously the next morning before we departed for Singapore, there was a breakfast party.

Again, if you're ever going to Johor Bahru, DO NOT MISS THIS PLACE. It's called Storia Cafe at Jalan Storia.

It looks like one of those mom & pop kopitiam from yesteryears when the televisyen set had no colour yet, & West Malaysia was half an hour behind Sarawak in time.

This looks like mom & pop, but over the years they've become gramps.

This shop is so old that they don't even know nuts about modern child labour laws.

Nolah, I'm sure this must have been their loving grandaughter helping up with the shop.

And this must be their filial daughter-in-law.

And this must be the uncle who makes great drinks. They keep him at a distance in a box.

Most of the food here is your everyday Malaysian breakfast.

Do not let the blandness of this bee hoon deceive you. It is simply the best party bee hoon I've ever tasted.

Again, it's the simplicity here that is most happening. You can easily have two plates of everything here.

Excellent nasi lemak at it's simplest form & configuration. Sometimes, it's underrated meals like this that can best satisfy the cravings, something totally different from the overloaded ones at 4-star hotels.

But you know, I haven't getten to the best part yet. THIS, is the real reason why we came here.

This is where the PARTY is at -Otak Daging Ikan & Otak Kepala Ikan. Literally, the direct translation of this will shock you to death - Fish Meat Brains & Fish Head Brain.

Actually, it's just fish cakes.

These are the most succulent otak-otak I've ever had.

But then again, I've almost never had them in Kuching ever before. Heheheheh.

And then at one of those special moments in time, I turned over to Nee & said, 'Wow, it'd be nice if you can make these. mmmmmm.'

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