Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
- 10 freshwater prawns, cleaned thoroughly (I removed the shell but left the head on as all the flavour comes from the head)
- 1 tsp of chopped garlic
- 6 stalks spring onion sliced lengthways and cut into long strands (I used mainly the base and reserved the green strands for decor)
- dash heavy cream
- a ladle or two of broth (mum's chicken soup was just next to the pan at the time, very handy!)
- Chinese rice wine (Shao Shing Hua Tiao Chiew)
- sea salt to taste
- ebbiko /tobiko (whichever you can get your hands on, this packet was 50g I think)
- angel hair pasta (usually 100-150g per person)
- Bring a pot of water up to boil, add salt. Angel hair pasta cooks in 2 minutes so you should try to time it. The prawn sauce will take around 5 minutes.
- Heat some oil in a heavy-based pan, stir-fry garlic and spring onions
- Add prawns and continue to fry on high heat, add Chinese rice wine (as much as you like dahlink!) and flambe. (You should have a orange-tinged sauce here from all the glorious prawny roe).
- Remove the prawns at this point or they will be over cooked. Add some broth to deglaze the pan and reduce broth. Mine was a little runny at this point which is why I added some cream. Probably would've tasted even better without as the cream mellowed out the taste.
- Reduce heat and throw the prawns back in, season to taste and turn off the heat.
- Add drained pasta & prawns, toss with tongs and lastly, toss in the ebbiko and spring onions.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
- They had removed the ugly-ass yellow vases from the table
- A familiar aquamarine paperbag with the initials T & C!
We didn't stay for dessert as I was afraid it might just spoil Hunky's mood if he tasted just one more mediocre dish. Thankfully the movie in Gold Class really lifted Hunky's mood. Incredible Hulk was entertaining and reminded me of the tv series I watched way back when I was a wee laddy. Edward Norton has been away too long. This one is so much better than Ang Lee's version which, to me, came off as pretentious. I should know right? It also helped that I could snuggle under the fresh duvet (felt clean and smelt clean!) they provided. How can one go back to pleb class after this? Quite easily at RM50 per ticket! I think last night was the most expensive dinner and date movie I've ever had.
So did I commit some sort of faux pas by opening my Tiffany gift in Carat Club? Who cares! I just thought it was funny to see the blue box lying on top of the C.Club monogrammed place mat. Before anyone gets too excited (after reading The Zhong Luck Club), it wasn't a ring. As much as I am a sucker for shiny baubles and packaging, the shrewd Chinese woman in me would've shouted "WTF?! Buy Tiffany diamond ring for what? Can get much cheaper at Habib/Poh Kong/unknown online source! But er, can I keep the box?" Happy anniversary Hunky and thank you for the lovely gift!
The C.Club is located at Level 6, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2141 3160
Thursday, June 05, 2008
With my recent (fairly successful) completion of "Pseudo Tai-Tai - Basic 8 Course", I decided to take my studies further with "Resplendent Tai Tai - A Full Banquet". After very thorough and extensive research, I finally settled on nyonya zhong and nyonya sambal zhong for my final thesis. Part of the charm of the nyonya dumpling for me is the lovely mix of blue and white rice. Coloured with butterfly pea flowers, the rice turns into a pale shade of the finest Wedgewood. I gathered as many as I could find in the garden. This is what I will miss living in my family home when I move into my tiny concrete flat. No more being able to pluck kaffir lime, chillies, pandan and butterfly pea flowers from the garden anymore. Somehow growing aloe vera on the balcony just isn't the same.
I am still trying to get use to cooking with my newly acquired pressure cooker. Morbid thoughts of the cooker exploding in my face flashes across my mind a lot! I cooked the zhong for, on and off, about an hour. This included time spent off the stove, just waiting for the pressure to ease before putting it back on the stove. The rice was perfectly cooked - glossy and gooey. The colour didn’t “pop” which makes you wonder how much artificial colouring goes into the variety you get commercially. I used 12 flowers boiled and reduced in 100ml of water and yet it barely even shows. It was rather anaemic looking but I was just so chuffed with it that I didn’t really care about the colour. My mum looked at them suspiciously and said “How delicate” which is her way of saying “So damn small, where’s the filling?” I reassured her I made a couple of big ones filled to the brim with filling just for her. I managed to get 32 small zhongs from this recipe. I think this size is perfect. Zhongs should be delicate, barely a mouthful, dainty – did I not just describe the ideal Chinese wife? Hmm, maybe thats why some Chinese men actually find Nigella sexy despite her Rubenesque frame. She does love to harp on about how her mouth can "accomodate".
I should’ve started with nyonya zhong as it is so much easier than making cao mai zhong. I think it only took three hours in total. I’m also a lot more blasé about the wrapping. Its like folding flour into egg whites, you can’t approach it with too much caution, somehow you end up jinxing it if you do. You just have to tackle head on. I didn't even double-tie them this time. I realise its not the end of the world if some break but none did! Yay!
Most of my family members think my zhongs are “too healthy”. I can’t bring myself to leave all that fat on (Although this time I did cut little cubes of fat which was confusing because I couldn't tell them apart from the winter melon). On the other hand, all those who usually like zhong are singing praises. Like me, they find a lot of zhongs too heavy and rich. This batch of nyonya zhongs was well received but everyone agreed that the flavours could be more intense. More sweet, more salty! I agree with the salt part but I think its bloody sweet enough! I even added more candied winter melon than the recipe suggested. Next time I might chop them a lot coarser so you can taste it but this was gorgeous as all the small pieces of winter melon had caramelized and fused with the garlic and shallots into one beautiful, sticky and tantalizing mess! I didn't get around to starting on the nyonya sambal zhong, maybe I'll just make the filling tomorrow and wrap it up over the weekend. Below is an adapted recipe from One Publisher’s Rice Dumpling cookbook:
- 12 shallots & 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 600g pork belly, cubed
- 1kg glutinous rice, rinsed and soaked for 1-2 hours, leave to dry
- 200g candied wintermelon (chopped coarsely)
- 15 – 20 butterfly pea flowers (boiled in 100ml water, reduced slightly)
- 4-5 tbls oil, 2tsp salt
- Seasoning, 3 tbls ground coriander, 2tsp white pepper, 1 tbls dark soy sauce, 2-3 tsp of salt
- 2-3 pandan leaves cut into small squares
- Mix 300g of glutinous rice with butterfly pea. Marinate the rest of the rice with 4 tablespoon of oil, 1 teaspoon white pepper and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Heat oil in a wok and stir-fry garlic and shallots until fragrant. Add pork belly and candied winter melon. Pour in the seasoning and fry a further 10 minutes. Leave aside.
- Place 1 teaspoon of glutinous rice followed by a generous tablespoon of filling, then top with half tablespoon of blue rice and 1 tablespoon of rice. Place a square of pandan leaf over just before folding.
- Put a little oil and salt into water before boiling for 50-60 minutes in a pressure cooker
Monday, June 02, 2008
I have the man but am still not married! It can only be, the Zhong. Everytime I bring it up (zhong, not marriage) I get discouraged by aunties and members of the sisterhood. "Its too difficult dear" or "Why don't you just buy them, they will taste better than whatever you make anyway". I'm onto them. They just don’t want me to get married! They want to keep me single so that they can keep patting me on the arm and give me that look. You see, the key is Zhong. When you can make zhong, you can rule the world. Seriously. Come one day, when I host my mah jong party, which is really a guise for tai-tais to one up each other (hello, didn’t you watch Raise The Red Lantern and more recently, Lust, Caution?), I will bring out the Zhong after my opponents offer homemade kaya, egg tarts and hmmph, rojak. Pitiful! And they will all fall to my feet and proclaim me Supreme Ruler of the... er, Tai-Tais?
It is all fated. Just as I am told that I can finally pick up the keys to my new apartment, The Cooking House has a zhong workshop. The stars are aligned, the time is ripe! Marriage is whthin my grasp! (Run, Hunky run!) Come Sunday morning, I found myself a tiny group of women at Gina Tan's "Dumpling Workshop". She was organized, personable and gave us useful tips along the way. It felt like a sisterly-bonding thing. If she was willing to share the trade secrets, she must be one of the good guys. A godsend if you will. After spending three hours of training, the two tips to making a good zhong is in the folding and investing in a pressure cooker. The first really is as tricky as it seems. Under the guiding hand of Gina, it was easy-peasy but when I actually got home to trying it, it was a different story altogether.
I announced to my mother a few days after that I was going to attempt to make zhong. Big mistake! Mother got super enthusiastic and bought enough raw materials to make enought zhong to sell. 3kgs of pork belly and enough green beans to make dahl for 100 roti canai. I started with alkaline dumplings since it virtually requires no prep work apart from soaking the rice and adding alkaline water and some salt into the clean rice. And although Gina’s recipe said 50 dumplings, I only got 20. I just couldn’t get them as small and delicate as Gina’s. Furthermore, half of them fell apart. It was so disappointing lifting open the lid to find yellow stained water and floating rice bubbling away. And the cooking time was slightly off too, it took three hours instead of two. So when I got to making the cao mai zhong, I made sure I wrapped the hemp string around the zhong twice. It doesn’t look pretty but better than finding broken zhong floating in the water.
Prepping the ingredients was actually the hardest work which is expected really with all Asian cooking. I blanched the pork in boiling water first to get rid of the impurities, then marinated it with rose wine, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, white pepper, salt and sesame oil. This was cooked with shiitake mushrooms later. The green beans were soaked and marinated with some salt and sesame oil. What was most fun were the salted eggs. I’ve never handled raw salted eggs before so cracking them open to find perfect neon orange yolks was perfectly cheap thrill. I never knew yolks came in pairs! My mother’s maid thought it might have been goose eggs instead of duck as they were a little larger. Think it seems more likely to be a product of genetic modification. Next up, raw chestnuts which needed to be boiled and peeled; shallots and dried shrimp were deep fried and set aside. Last but not least, soaking the glutinous rice for an hour and letting it dry completely. Once dried, fry the rice with garlic, fried shallots and ground dried shrimp, and season with dark soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper. It took me a whole day to wrap as there was so much of it. I have to say, as much as I enjoyed spending the day in solitude with just my greedy and hopeful golden retriever Carlos for company, wrapping zhong is something that should be done with your “sisters”. The job would be done much faster and the whole experience, more pleasurable and meaningful. So next time, I shall be recruiting my sisters to help me with this age-old tradition of zhong. Oh wait, that would mean I have to share the secret. Uh oh.
The second batch of zhong turned out to be a lot more tasty as I fried the glutinous rice with garlic, fried shallots and dried shrimp (fried and chopped finely). This week I want to make nyonya dumpling. Stay tuned for more zhong posts.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Its 6pm on Thursday and I am my latest playground Pavilion. As I walk from the car park into the building, I am greeted by a familiar smell that can only be deep-fried dough. Its been a while since I had a J.Co donut, feeling lucky I make my way over to the deep-frying also known as Lot 1.05.00, First Floor of Pavilion. What luck! Merely four people in the queue. Could it be that the donut craze is finally dying down like leg warmers and bubble tea?
The four ahead of me order a dozen each. The man behind the counter looks at me expectantly. I tell him I only want three; pieces not dozen. He looks at me like I am deranged but hands me my donuts in a box fit for three anyway. Two things struck me as I paid for my donuts - 1) I have not blogged about these before 2) Am I in Frangipani on a Friday night? Any more friends of Dorothy and they will have to call it GayCo Donuts. So instead of cruising down Bintang Walk (as one does according to He Who Will Not Be Named), perhaps its worth checking out J.Co. If the eye candy doesn’t grab your fancy at least you can drown your sorrows in a sugary deep-fried ring of dough.
One can’t have donuts without coffee so I walk across to Gloria Jeans. I haven’t had much GJ coffee since the closest outlet I can think of is at Gleneagles Hospital and somehow it would seem morbid to go hang out at a hospital. Ever since Pavilion opened, Hunky and I have been coming to the outlet here because of their 2 for 1 opening promotion. The promotion has long ended but we like the coffee here and that it is away from the madness unlike Starbucks a floor above. I order a low-fat mocha because it balances out the calories in the donut. Denial is my middle name. Anyway, speaking of HWWNBN, who should happen to saunter by as I sit down with my cup of low-fat mocha? He is a great fan of Starbucks and Coffee Bean, although I suspect that has more to do with the view rather than the quality of the coffee. He absolutely hates J.Co donuts. “That’s not a donut, those are just fluffy pockets of nothing!” he moans and points at the box disdainfully and backs away quickly just incase he catches some sugar-borne disease. I have to agree with him, it really isn’t so much a donut as it is a semi-sponge that has been fried. The texture is incredibly light, if you close your eyes, you could be fooled into thinking that its just sponge that you’re eating. Out of all the flavours I have tasted, the best has to be the plain sugar glazed one. The rest are just so sickeningly rich. Having said that, if I was feeling super junky and hit with a major bout of PMS, I would have the pink-glazed, yoghurt-filled one. The white chocolate coating is irresistibly glossy when warm and the slightly tangy filling balances out the overall sweetness. If you like your cheese processed, you could also try their savoury cheese one. Fried dough with a Kraft singles sauce. Right.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
There were a couple of places which I didn't get round to blogging about. Maybe on my next trip to Perth. Until then...Yes, I can barely wait to move on. Next!
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
One thing that I could not get enough of during this trip was mussels, well, and oysters. Fresh, plump and delicious mussels! Oysters and mussels are probably the only time when size does matter. For me, the smaller the better! I once watched an episode of Surfing The Menu where they ate an oyster(raw!) that was the same length as the span of one of the chef's hand. That man is over 6ft tall, imagine how big that horrible giant oyster was, lying across his big, able and manly hands. Swoon. Er, where was I? Oh yes, giant oyster. Yes, can't imagine eating an oyster that big. Shudder. I can see how oysters may have a high "eew" factor to some especially when eaten raw. I mean the more I start to analyse the soft, gelatinous, mucous-like consistency the more I am starting to feel allergic to them. However, when they are small and fresh like those in Perth, there is nothing that tastes quite as beautiful as natural oysters. I even converted Hunky. Initially, he watched with mild disgust as CW and I downed oyster after oyster like thirsty chinamen yumseng-ing whisky. By the fourth day, we convinced him to try oyster kilpatrick. You know Hunky, torn between indulging in those crispy and salty slivers of bacon and the grey-tinged mollusc lurking underneath. Once bitten, he was smitten! There was no stopping Hunky after that. He even lamented how much he regretted not joining us earlier. Awww.
One night, I insisted Laura take us to a restaurant for chilli mussels. Without any hesitation, she suggested Il Ciao in Applecross. Its a cosy neighbourhood Italian restaurant that only opens for dinner from Wednesday to Sunday. Well, when you are as busy as they are, one can afford the luxury of such relaxed opening hours. The menu boasts wood-fried pizzas and hearty Italian fare. We shared two huge bowls of hot steaming mussels between the five of us. Unfortunately I was sitting next to Peter and felt like I needed to eat really quickly before he finished the entire bowl! Poor Pete got an earful from Laura about that. Sorry Peter! It was worth the risk of ingestion as I raced Peter to the bottom of the bowl. They were so juicy and yummy! They were cooked in a white wine, garlic and tomato sauce which we dipped freshly baked bread into until the bowl was completely dry.
In between, our pizzas arrived. One was boscaiola with tomato, mushroom, mozzarella, prosciutto and olives; the other mediterraneo was smothered with tomato, mozzarella, ricotta cheese, olives, eggplant and Italian sausage. They were both very good. Nicer than the one at Ecco Cafe but then these people do specialise in wood-fried pizzas. You can see from the picture how generous they are with the toppings and the crust was just right - like crispy flat bread. I wanted to try one of their pastas and which better than homemade canneloni filled with ricotta cheese and spinach smothered in a fresh tomato sauce. This was just gorgeous! I managed to eat a whole roll despite proclaiming over and over again how full I was. You know, kind of like those annoying skinny saying "I'm so fat, I'm so fat". Yeah, whatever. I wasn't all that full really because we still had room for dessert! Hunky's favourite pit stop throughout the trip - Gelare! He even snuck off without me once. I lost count of how many waffles he had but he was pretty sad he managed to miss "Half Price Tuesdays"! Geláre is an institution (not the mental kind) for quality homemade ice cream. It was right here in Western Australian that they open their first ice cream cafe in Fremantle in January 1987. I had my first cone in 1993 (that was when the franchise started) and have been in love ever since. It still tastes fanbloodytastic! The picture below is Hunky's waffle with rum and raisin ice cream. Mmmm...
For more information on Il Ciao, click here