Thursday, April 1, 2010

Our Johor-Singapore Trip: Day 3

It's always nice to have very good friends in very different places. That way, where ever you go, you'd be able to access the more inaccessible places, the places only the locals know, the places Lonely Planet knows nuts about.

We started our 3rd day during our Singapore-Johor trip eating roti prata for breakfast. It wasn't just any roti prata. It was roti prata on Bukit Chagar.

This was what the place looked like, sort of like a lone food shelter that popped up from the ground, in the middle of nowhere, on Bukit Chagar. And it looked like it was populated with government civil servants. If you came here often, you could get your IC, passport & police report done, all in one morning.

Bukit Chagar is just behind the new multi-million ringgit immigration building that has probably filled a lot of pockets. You can tell how close the roti place is to the massive blue buildings.

This is Roti Prata. On Bukit Chagar.

We were able to cross over to Singapore in one piece after that. This time there weren't any episodes with those Johor cowboy taxi drivers

On the other more civilised side which we call Singapore, we caught up with Sarah, Aunty Chua and family. It was a good learning experience to sit down and chat with them as they shared their life experiences in Singapore. 

If you guys have not seen them for a while, there you go. Sarah and Alex have two beautiful daughters, the other two older ones were their cousins who came by during the school holidays.

That night, Alex graciously took us to dinner at Dian Xiao Er, which is a Chinese restaurant chain at a mall somewhere at Ang Mo Kio I think. Sarah, please confirm!

No, it wasn't a drive-in restaurant. I just thought you needed to see this picture of how systematic & technologically advanced Singapore is. The red light changes to green if there's a vacant parking lot. So you can actually spot an empty lot from far away. I think Spring needs to learn a few things from here.

For a moment there I thought I was watching Little Nyonya.

The four of us shared a set meal which included these:

Dong Po Meat ~ This is one good dish here. Very moist and tender with all the fat and meat intact, which says good cooking skills.

Steamed garoupa fish, I think ~ nicely done.

Kailan with a tinge of kaffir lime. Something we have not had before. Interesting and pretty addictive actually.

Brocolli with mushrooms ~ nothing to shout about.

Dian Xiao Er soup of the day.

This is supposed to be their signature herbal duck dish. 
The herbs came out pretty strong alright.

We definitely think Dian Xioa Er is worth visiting for the few interesting dishes that they have. We of course ate and wiped our mouths while Alex graciously footed the bill. So we're not quite sure how much the food here costs. Thank you, Alex and Sarah for feeding us.

Then as we walked out of the restaurant, we spotted a Singapore kiasu line which snaked all the way to a Durian pancake stall.

Whenever there's a line at a food stall, we knew it had to be something good. So Nee got a bunch of those Durian puffs.

And those puffs were dangerous. They were pure 100% durians and they could kill.

Next post: Banyan Tree Bintan Island

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Repost: Pan Mien

I am doing a repost of this because there is a loving guy out there who wants to do this for his girlfriend. Sweet! Greg doing this for me hmmmm...i cant imagine the mess after. Anyway, "interested", hopefully you get the hang of this before she comes home.

We have this in KL all the time, so I've always thought it as of West Malaysian origins. Then again I had a nice one in KK Sabah and Sabah got Sayur Manis. Maybe it is Sabahan. Anyone?

When I serve this for cell, many of them dont know what exactly is Pan Mien. So it is definitely not a Kuching thingy. There used to be a hawker store at Thompson's Corner (Tabuan Jaya) selling this. Apparently, business was so good that they were always sold out before noon. Now it is completely gone. The guy must have made enough and decide to take out early retirement (my guess).

Greg loves Pan Mien and with no where nice to go, I have to take up the task of figuring how to make some myself in case he starts having withdrawal syndrome. Me too for that matter. A while ago, there was a demonstration class showing how to make the actual Pan Mien noodles. Thank God!

The Soupbase:
3 litre of water
300gm of pork bones, washed and parboiled to rid blood and smell
3-4 no of chicken bones, washed and parboiled with pork bones
20 gm of ikan bilis
300 gm of lean pork (leg meat), seasoning with salt, sugar, pepper, cornstarch and water
1 bunch of mani chai or sayur manis
120gm of pork balls
20 gm of black fungus (soaked in water) or some fresh ones is nice even better
1 tbsp of minced garlic
1 tbsp of oil

The noodles:
200gm of flour (plain or key flour)
1 no of egg
some salt
approx 100 gm of water

The Accompaniment:
20 gm of ikan bilis, cleaned, dried and fried with some oil til light brown and crispy
Chilli padi, mixed with some maggi seasoning and some light soya.
300gm of minced pork, seasoned with light soya, salt, pepper and sugar, cornstarch and water, stir fry with 1 tbsp of garlic and oil til cooked. Scope onto noodle and soup before serving.

1) Boil water. When boiling, add bones and ikan bilis and simmered for 1hour or more. Strain for the soup only. If you are running out of time, 1 to 1 1/2 cube of pork or chicken stock will have to do.

2) Heat oil in wok, add garlic and stir fry lean pork. Add pork balls, black fungus and stir fry til fragrant.

3) Add to soup. Continue simmering for another hour or so. Before serving, add mani chai and boil for a few minutes before adding noodles.

4) For noodles: Mix all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well combined. Knead into a small dough. If too wet, add some flour. The dough should be not be firm but soft when you hold it. Rest for 10 min or so.

5) Cut into four. Sprinkly some flour on working surface and rolling pin, roll into rectangles. If you use a noodle maker, run it through the flat sheet mode and roll from biggest to the third biggest (say if No 1 is your noodle maker biggest gap, 3 will be third). Run through 2 times at each no and sprinkle some flour on dough sheets surface each time. Cut with the fettucine mode. Separate the noodles as they tend to stick together.

Note: A good pan mien dough is soft and it will not shrink during rolling. If you dont have a noodle maker, just roll the dough as flat as you can and cut into 1/2 cm strips or tear your dough with finger and thumb for flat pieces.

6) Fresh Pan Mien noodles goes straight from dough strips into soup mixture. Boil the whole combination until noodles are cooked. The dish is very slightly on the floury side. Add salt and pepper to taste.

7) Serve with Fried Ikan Bilis, Chili padi sauce and Fried mince meat.

Once you get the hang of it, preparation can be quite easy and fast. Yet the dish is so clear and nice and of course not as fattening. The key is fresh noodles!

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