Pork and Kimchi Cauliflower Fried Rice

My love for Fried Cauliflower Rice runs for at least 2 years deep. Some of you might remember my old post from 2014 for a basic version, or a Nasi Tomato adaptation (along with a cooking video! I must attempt that again soon). But because I have well and truly fallen off the Paleo bandwagon, this has dropped off my cooking rotation for a while. Meanwhile, my skill for the actual fried rice levelled up so much thanks to the rice monsters at home at one point I was considering opening up a place selling just fried rice. I’m looking at you, Kevin. But anyway I digress.

One day while we were getting ready to go out, I heard a cry from the next room. Thinking that Kevin might have hurt himself I rushed over to check, “I DON”T HAVE ANYTHING TO WEAR HUHUHUHUUUUU” he exclaimed with much exasperation. “Huh, why ah?” “Because I’m FAT la*”

Here, you heard it from me.

Yes, we keep ourselves active mostly, but we certainly have been indulging a little more than usual when it comes to food. Case in point: the Bak Kut Teh post just before this, haha. So with much persuasion and bribing, my-very-sexy-despite-a-little-overweight-so-he-claims-boyfriend finally agreed that we will go on a low carb diet, allowing one cheat day a week. Which means I get to exercise my muscles (and my brain) in the kitchen to come up with things interesting enough for him. I’m sure if I bring something like a poached chicken breast with blanched broccoli on a plate, he’d run out the door faster than our little Colt (the car). No….. we don’t want that. What we want, is diet food that tastes good. (Is there even such a thing?)

Well apparently yes. Something as simple as Cauliflower, mixed with other veges, some sort of protein and just some simple seasoning. Today, I present to you Kimchi and Pork Fried Cauliflower Rice! There’s no rice in this at all, so I can safely say that this is almost 100% nutri-dense. Plus, kimchi is really good for you what with the good bacteria for your gut and all. So without further ado, here’s a pic, and how you make this dish.

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Pork and Kimchi Cauliflower Fried Rice (for 3)
Half a head of Cauliflower
Few florets of Broccoli
2 clove of Garlic, minced
Half an onion, finely chopped
1 Carrot, finely chopped
1 big handful of Kimchi, chopped, reserving juice
100g Minced Pork
2 Eggs
Pinch of Salt and Pepper
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce*
1 tablespoon Ketchup
Spring onions, to garnish

To prepare the “cauli rice”, cut or tear the cauliflower florets by hand, remove excess moisture and pulse in food processor or blender until resembling rice. For this recipe, I pulse the cauliflower along with carrot and broccoli to save myself some time.

Heat oil in pan and saute onion and garlic until soft, then add minced pork and kimchi. Fry til the pork starts to brown, then add in all the vegetables. Stir around a little, then season with kimchi juice, soy sauce, ketchup, salt and pepper.

If you don’t drain the excess moisture enough, you will find that liquid will slowly pool up (happens to me all the time because I am err lazy). This is ok, just slowly let the liquid evaporates by pushing everything to the side. Not a disaster, but you do have to let all the liquid cook out otherwise it will become a soggy mess.

When the cauli rice is almost ready, make a well in the centre and crack 2 eggs into the space. Stir around to break up the yolks. Once it’s set, move around to mix everything merrily. Once the eggs are done, taste to adjust seasoning, then turn off heat. Garnish with Spring onion before serving. While this dish is also edible slightly cold, I’d suggest enjoy it while it’s hot for maximum comfort.

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As with normal fried rice, you can customize it until the cows come home. Don’t like pork? Use chicken or prawns, maybe tempeh if you want it vegetarian. More leftover vegetables crying for help in your drawer? Throw it in! The possibilities are endless. Eat this often enough (replacing your normal high carb meal la of course), you will thank me for your slimmer body soon enough.

So, since we have been so good this week, where shall we go for Bak Kut Teh this weekend?

Oh, and have a great weekend y’all!

*Conversation might not be in those exact words. But you get the jist la

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CNY Menu at Dynasty Restaurant, Renaissance Kuala Lumpur

It’s now less than one week to Chinese New Year, the year of Rooster. How’s your preparation going? Have you been cleaning up a storm? Baking Chinese New Year cookies? Most importantly, have you decided whether you’ll be eating at home or eating out for the festive period? Well, here’s an option for you, celebrate it at Dynasty Restaurant, Renaissance Kuala Lumpur. Executive Sous Chef Kok Chee Kin and his team have specially created Festive Menus that will showcase the finest flavours of Cantonese cuisine from 11 January to 11 February 2017.

“Cantonese cuisine is famously subtle and the cooking techniques are kept simple, guests dining at Dynasty Restaurant will be treated to an interesting array of intrinsically light on the palate dishes whilst emphasizing on a distinct primary flavour” – Chef Kok

We were invited to a review session along with the media and bloggers and first impression of this restaurant: it’s warm, spacious, and definitely inviting with definite oriental touches everywhere. There is even a feature wall with all their past MIGF trophies.

The Festive Menu here features their Treasure Pots (Poon Choi), set menus range from 2 persons to 10 persons with the price range starting from RM288nett to RM3288. We were treated to the Fortune Set which is priced at RM2088 for 10 persons.

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Yee Sang is Dynasty offers 6 types of Yee Sang, all featuring a colourful mixture of raw fish or other exotic seafood served with crunchy vegetables, crackers and condiments. You can choose between Salmon, Fruity Fiesta, Jellyfish, Lobster & Salmon, Yee Sang of 5 treasures and Mini Abalone & Salmon. The fortune set comes with a Salmon Yee Sang so that’s what we had.

Auspicious wishes must be said when tossing the Yee Sang, and the higher you go, the better the luck! Of course in this state of economic most of us wouldn’t mind having more money for the new year. The Yee Sang is on the traditional side, I liked the balance of sweet and tangy in the sauce and the distinct aroma of mandarin peel.

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Next on our table was the Fortune Combination Platter, which comes with four types of hot appetizers -deep fried roll with crabstick and salted egg, money bags, gold ingot with dried oyster and stir fried scallops with asparagus and XO sauce. And why is there Crayon Shin Chan on our plate? Hehehehe actually it’s a rather cartoon-like sculpture of one of the Fu Lu Shou Deities, I’m going to guess it’s Fu (Prosperity), as we have lots of golden morsels here resembling money. I quite like the gold ingot with oyster, though the scallops would have to be my favourite.

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Our soup course was a Ying Yang scallop soup with dried seafood. It’s packed with different seafood and the soup itself is pretty light, best enjoyed with a touch of vinegar.

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The next dish was a pleasant surprise for us, the Dynasty Treasure Pot of Prosperity (RM428nett for 5 person) with whole sun-dried scallops, tiger prawns, siew yoke, fish maw, stuffed dried oyster, fresh scallop, flower mushroom, fu kwei abalone, farm chicken, roasted duck, money bag, sea cucumber, fish stomach and coral clam. Everything is cooked in this umami superior stock, for that extra decadence.

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I always love a simple steamed fish and this Tiger-dragon Grouper here is steamed whole with superior soy sauce, topped with scallion and ginger. The flesh is so soft and the sauce is a good mix of savoury with the natural sweetness of the fish. Yum!

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Dynasty does serve pork and what’s more decadent than a whole Braised Pork Knuckle? Here, it’s served with mushroom and sea cucumber. The pork knuckle is fork tender with gelatinous fat layer and skin. It’s heavenly! Personally, I’m not a huge fan of sea cucumber, though they did cook this well, with a slightly chewy texture whilst taking on the flavours of the broth. Buried at the bottom were some iceberg lettuce, which soaks up that delicious meaty broth too.

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Wok Fried Glutinous Rice with Waxed Meat might look like Lap Mei Fan, but it’s a whole different ballgame. The rice grains were definitely toothsome, aromatic; and there are plenty of waxed meat to go around. Both of us had seconds!

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The Golden Prawns with spicy minced garlic got us hesitating because of the shells, but then again the shell took on a delicious flavour you would want to suck on. The prawns are cooked to perfection too. How do you like to eat your unpeeled prawns by the way? My party trick is to just bite the whole thing then separate the shells with my tongue. Yes I know I’m lazy.

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After all the rich dishes, it’s nice to have a warm tong sui to refresh ourselves. We had the Double-boiled dried bamboo cane with aloe vera, fungus and tong yuen. The tong yuens are filled with either red bean paste or sesame paste. I love the bits of aloe vera and fungus, always a winner in my book.

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There were also four types of Dynasty’s fortune pastries for us to indulge, and I liked the Nian Gao best.

Thank you Dynasty Restaurant for hosting us!

For reservations or more info, please contact 03-2716 9388 or email rhi.kulrn.fb@renaissancehotels.com.

Dynasty Restaurant
Level 1, East Wing, Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel,
Corner of Jalan Sultan Ismail & Jalan Ampang,
50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
(Parking rate: RM10 flat rate for diners)
03-2716 93
Website: http://www.klrenaissance.com

Eco Life Kitchen

I received an invitation from Cheng Yi to visit a Vegetarian restaurant together and I had to do a double take. Cheng Yi? Eating vegetarian food? I have a mental image of him gnawing on a bone… (better still, I have a real image…click here). Anyway apparently a meat man can be meat-ed out afterall. To be fair, Kevin and I had been a little out-of-control with our eating spree lately, so an all organic meal could probably do us much good. Though, as you will find out, we still overate anyway.

I almost had to cancel the dinner because it was day 1 of my Dengue fever (as I found out the day after when I was diagnosed). I run super high fever and felt like I was hit by a truck, aching all over and could barely get out of bed. But a promise is a promise, so I popped a couple of Paracetamol tablets and soldiered on. Turned out, good thing we did because Eco Life Kitchen opened on their off day just for us, how nice of them.

This restaurant is located in Fraser Business Park (which is completely foreign to me), it’s apparently not hard to find if you know the area, just look for Munich Cafe & Bar which spots a very bright signage at night. The owner also runs an Eco Leisure Village called Song Yan in Bukit Tinggi, which comes with a farm. This means the vegetables they use in the restaurant mostly comes from their own farm. The kitchen is run by Chef Steven Siew (long lost cousin?), who has also turned vegetarian himself.

Our welcome drink was a very thirst quenching Fizzy Calamansi Lime Drink, which truly hit the spot for me (as I soon find out I need tons of liquid for my illness).

Mango Sushi Roll

First we were presented a pretty looking sushi roll. It had mango on the top complete with mayo and black sesame seeds, inside there are cucumber, pickled radish, purple cabbage, and pumpkin floss. This item is not yet on the menu, though I can see it being popular if it is. I love the natural sweetness of the vegetables and the lovely textural contrast.

Omelette Roll (RM11.90)

This is not vegan of course because there are eggs. But I love the idea of wrapping the omelette on top of seaweed. Inside there are a variety of vegetables not dissimilar to the Mango roll above. Personally I prefer this one more than the Mango roll just because I’m an egg lover.

Pumpkin Tofu (RM9.90)

The Pumpkin Tofu is done Thai style with julienned cucumber, green mango, pineapple, turnip, carrot and topped with a Thai chili sauce. Kevin as a huge fan of tofu approved of this. I enjoyed the fresh vegetables and fruits although the peanuts kinda put me off the dish (can’t eat peanuts because I’ll lose my voice).

Penang Rojak (RM9.90)

How do you make the Rojak sauce without prawns? Chef Steven said that the sauce is derived from Seaweed for the ocean taste. The group enjoyed the dish, while I had to avoid it again due to you know what.

Mushroom Satay (RM8.90)

Of course, it won’t be surprising to see a lot of mushrooms in the menu. Because of the earthy note and the chewy texture, mushrooms can be very good meat substitute. By the way, you won’t see mock meats (basically gluten… eeww) on the menu, which can be a turn off for many. The mushroom satay is made with Coprinus Comatus mushrooms (杏鮑菇), which are typically very big and chewy. These are great as beer (if beer is allowed) snacks.

Vegetable Steamboat (RM23.90)

It’s nice to see a whole platter of fresh organic vegetables and I was happy to spot some of my favourites: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Enoki Mushrooms, Bitter Gourd, Pumpkin and various green leafy veg. The foojuk (fried beancurd skin) is popular amongst the table too. There are 2 types of broth to choose from: miso and old cucumber soup. Both are lovely.

Nasi Lemak (RM14.90)

This is a very photogenic dish. The nasi lemak here is made healthier with brown rice cooked with coconut oil (instead of coconut milk), curry vegetables made with cashew nut milk instead of (coconut milk), and on the side we have sambal, belinjo, tempeh, cucumber, and an enoki mushroom tempura (I’m deliberately ignoring the peanuts, of course). I thought that the curry is packed with flavours and I enjoyed the homemade sambal with the rice. The coconut oil isn’t so pronounced though. Nevertheless it’s quite a filling dish and I’d say it’s suitable for sharing, unless you are focusing on this dish alone.

Vegetarian Bak Kut Teh (RM16.90)

Bak Kut Teh in an Vegetarian restaurant? Are they crazy? In fact, this dish is one of their pride and joy, as there are over 14 herbs used in the recipe for that maximum flavours. Instead of fatty pork, you get a variety of mushrooms, tofu, foojuk etc. The broth is surprisingly flavoursome, though cleaner tasting. There’s a very meaty tasting mushroom in there called Monkey Head Mushrooms, which I must try and source and cook one day.

Assam Laksa (RM13.90)

The noodles used in the Assam Laksa is the Korean Sweet Potato Noodles which is one of my favourites, however I’m not a fan of Assam Laksa at all so can’t say much for this dish (no benchmark, you see).

Indo Curry Mee (RM13.90)

The Indo Curry Mee however, fared a lot better owing to the same delicious curry from the nasi lemak. I like how they used thick udon noodles to soak up all that lovely gravy, though few bites later this does feel a little cloying for me because the curry is really quite thick.

Lei Cha King (RM14.90)

Lei Cha (Hakka Thunder Tea) is a very foreign dish for me because I’ve never had it in my life. Here it’s made really colourful with brown rice, carrot, pumpkin, peanuts (again), radish, beancurd, Chinese white cabbage, chickpeas and a green sauce made with basil, mint, and a host of other herbs is poured on top before eating.

Green sauce pouring action.

Once again I have no benchmark for this dish so I can’t compare it with the rest. However, I really liked the combination of texture and the clean flavours of the vegetables and herbs. This is something I’d probably order again, sans the peanuts.

Spinach Pesto (RM13.90)

I wasn’t kidding when I said we overate. There were 4 of us for all these dishes! The last dish that came out was a very good looking plate of Fettuccine coated in pesto topped with spinach and mixture of carrot and pumpkin. If I wasn’t so full I’d gladly devour more of this because I really love the pesto!

To finish, we had a couple pots of flower teas (caffeine free of course) to cleanse our palate.

Thank you Eco Life Kitchen for accommodating us and we can’t wait to visit the resort in Bukit Tinggi!

Eco Life Kitchen
40-4 Fraser Business Park
Jalan Metro Pudu
Off Jalan Loke Yew
Tel: 03-2389 0228
Closed Wednesdays

Whole Tomato Rice

Wow 2 recipe posts in a row! That’s a vast improvement I’ll say. Well this is a quick one as the recipe is super easy. Whole Tomato Rice has taken the internet by storm! I believe it started from Japan, and now has gone completely viral in Asia. If you aren’t living under a rock, you would have seen the photos everywhere. Here’s a video posted by a popular food YouTuber, Ochikeron:

Basically, it’s steamed rice with a whole tomato on top along with some seasoning. At the most basic, it’s just tomato, rice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Steam like how you would with plain rice, then mix everything together and devour. It induced serious curiosity just because it looks super fun and highly customizable. If you have a rice cooker, this is pretty much a no-brainer meal. I am a weird Asian with no rice cooker at home (in fact I hardly eat rice anyway), so I did mine on the stove top. Still easy enough. Let me show you my takes on this super trendy meal.

Whole Tomato Rice: added bacon, garlic and celery (not pictured).

After about 15 minutes on the stove top:

Mix it all together!

I only cooked half cup of rice with a large tomato, so it’s quite pink! (Half a cup equals to 2 meals for me by the way)

Tada!

It’s a complete meal with the vegetables and bacon, and tastes a lot like a lighter version of risotto. Of course, this is highly dependable on the quality of your tomato. Bland tomato = bland rice. Also, make sure you use slightly less water because of the water content in the tomato. You don’t want it to turn into mushy rice/porridge (although that is quite yummy too).

Second day, I couldn’t help but made another version.

Added Celery, Butternut Pumpkin, Chili, Garlic, and Swapped the Olive oil for Butter.

After cooking:

Mmmmmm….

Time to stir it altogether!

Love the golden hue from the pumpkin.

Topped it with Smoked Salmon.

Fantastic!

I’ve seen people using Prawns, Sausages, Mushrooms, Corn, Carrot, Onions, even Scallops. You can also add some fresh or dry herbs to further enhance the taste, and swap the water to stock. It’s highly versatile! Luckily I’m out of rice now (I usually only buy a 1kg bag which can last for a couple of months), so I can practise some restraint. Otherwise all that carbohydrates won’t do much good to my waistline!

So would you give this a go? And if so, what do you think you’ll add?

AFF Singapore: Hainanese Chicken Rice

If I were to choose a few meals to eat before I die, Hainanese Chicken Rice would be amongst the Top 3. I’m not sure when or how I fell in love with this dish (certainly not when I was growing up because Bintulu is deprived of good Chicken Rice), but I can tell you this is something I will never get sick of. In fact, if you want me to get really really fat, just serve me this everyday and I simply would not be able to resist it.

And my love for Hainanese Chicken Rice was reaffirmed during the year I did my Medical Elective in Singapore. For a month, I was stationed in a couple of hospitals and one day, a local friend brought me to this place called Boon Tong Kee, which is famous for its Chicken Rice. Yes I know Tian Tian is supposedly the best in Singapore but I met BTK first! Anyway, I remember there were 3 of us, and we polished off the whole chicken and then some. I’ve never had such smooth skin, such fragrant rice and such complex chili sauce. By the way they also do this superb tofu dish which you must try if you ever visit.

Not the best photo but this was from my last visit July 2013.

Anyway, from then on everytime I visit Singapore, I insist on going to Boon Tong Kee (a tip for you KL people: If you take Odyssey Bus to Singapore it brings you straight to the Balestier Road branch). I had since tried Tian Tian but it didn’t have the same magic. To each their own right?

So for this month’s Asian Food Fest, what else but Hainanese Chicken Rice for my first submission! This is not a difficult dish to make, but you do have to multitask. From start to finish, it takes about an hour give and take. As I’m the only one in my household who eats chicken, I decided to just go with half chicken so I can get 3 meals out of it. I didn’t go for fancy chicken either, just regular supermarket non-organic one because otherwise I will have to go for whole chicken. There is a trick to ensure smooth skin though, which I will mention later.

Hainanese Chicken Rice

This wasn’t the first time I made this dish, but compared to last time, I think I have nailed the rice! Adding the chicken fat and pre-frying the rice really does make a difference. I’ve also made my own chili sauce this time, which proved to be really easy if you have a blender.

Heaven on a plate.

Poached Chicken
Half Chicken
3-4 stalks Spring Onion
3-4 slices Ginger
2 Cloves Garlic, smashed
Water, enough to submerge chicken in a pot
1 tablespoon of Shaoxing Wine
1 tablespoon of Sesame oil

Clean the chicken and remove any stray feathers. Rub some salt over the skin and perform a little massage, the skin will be smoother if you do this.

Submerge chicken in a pot of water and add ginger, garlic and spring onion. Bring to boil and start removing the impurities on the water surface with a mesh strainer. Gentle simmer for about 10 minutes, then turn the chicken over and cook for another 10-15 minutes. You want the chicken to be just cooked, so remember to use really fresh chicken. If not, then cook for another extra 10-15 minutes to ensure food safety.

Once the chicken is cooked, lift it out gently and then submerge in a pot/large bowl of ice water. This helps stop the cooking process and also tighten the skin. Just before serving, drain all the water and rub the chicken with some Shaoxing wine and Sesame oil. Chop into smaller pieces.

The remaining broth will be served with the chicken rice after tasting for seasoning (just simple salt will do).

Chicken Rice
1 cups of Jasmine Rice
1 cups of Chicken stock from cooking chicken
Some Chicken Fat (I managed to trim off about 1 tablespoon worth)
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
Few slices Ginger
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 pandan leaves, rinsed and tied into a knot

In a pot, render the chicken fat, and then add sesame oil, ginger, garlic, take extra care not to burn them. Add rinsed rice and stir fry for a few seconds, then ladle in the Chicken stock, and place the pandan leaves on top. If you are using a rice cooker, you will need to move everything into the rice cooker pot. I usually cook my rice on the stove top so it’s a matter of turning the heat to lowest, cover and cook until all water is absorbed.

Chilli Dipping Sauce
3 large Chillies, chopped coarsely
1 Cili Padi i.e. bird’s eye chilli (optional), chopped coarsely
2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and chopped coarsely
1 small knob of Ginger, chopped coarsely
3 large Calamansi Limes, juiced into a small bowl
1-2 tbsp Chicken Poaching Liquid
1/4 tsp salt

Place all the ingredients into a food blender and blitz everything until a smooth paste is formed. Transfer into sauce dishes or a small bowl and set aside.

Topping and Garnish

Thick black soy sauce
1 stalk of spring onion, chopped (Can also use Coriander)
Several Cucumber Slices

You can assemble the Chicken rice according to your preference. As I was cooking for one, I arranged some cucumber slices on a large round place and place the chicken pieces on top, sprinkled some spring onion, then serve my rice next to it, with the chili sauce on the side. I also dish up a bowl of chicken broth garnished with spring onion. Needless to say, it was a satisfying meal.

Perfect meal!

The smooth soft chicken rice, tender meat, aromatic rice, tangy and spicy chili sauce, and the comforting light broth; I can’t think of a better homecooked meal. Though after this attempt, it will be a while until I do it again to keep my waistline where it should be.

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest #11 Sept 2014 : Singapore hosted by Life can be Simple.

AFF Taiwan: Lu Rou Fan 滷肉飯

I have a confession: I’m obsessed with Taiwan as a country. The entertainment industry (I’m guilty of following all the current talk shows and my favourite is Kang Xi Lai Le 康熙來了), the food, the culture in general; but I have never been to this country! I think that one day when I finally set foot there I’ll probably cry tears of happiness. Not joking. I’ll definitely be stalking a few celebrities, and visit all the night markets that has appeared on TV. And most of all, I’ll definitely put on a few kilos with the growing list of food I want to eat in Taiwan.

But since this month’s Asian Food Fest is covering Taiwanese Cuisine, it’s a perfect opportunity for me to at least try my hand on some of these recipes. With Taiwanese cuisine, I can tell you that I do have to throw the Paleo diet out the window. After all, it’s all about rice, noodles, and even their ‘xiao chi’ is mostly gluten or grain based. Once in a while won’t hurt I guess. Not that I’m been super strict lately anyway as I’ve been eating out a little more often due to my workload.

But anyway, the number 1 dish I wanted to try was the super sinful Lu Rou Fan 滷肉飯 (Roughly translated to Minced Pork Rice). It’s one of the most talked about dish on talk shows and everyone seems to have their favourite. As I understand there are 2 types of Lu Rou Fan, one with very finely minced fatty pork, and the other type with diced pork belly. Knowing me, of course I prefer the latter. Just check this out:

This is Pork Heaven!

Lu Rou Fan is considered comfort food and is available pretty much everywhere. It can be enjoyed anytime of the day really and I’d say this makes for a perfect after party supper (not that I’m advocating having supper, or partying, for that matter). At its simplest form, it’s just meat over rice, although eggs are commonly added. Some places serve this with green vegetables, some with Japanese pickled daikon. But there’s no denying that this will please any porcine lover. Well it most definitely pleased me. Over and over again. I love cooking a huge portion for one. Hehe.

Cooking this is relatively easy, and I opted for the lazy method with my trusty Philips Pressure Cooker so the cooking time was significantly reduced. But I have typed out both lazy and traditional methods for you.

My Guilty Pleasure.

Lu Rou Fan (Recipe adapted from Lady and Pups)

500g of skin-on pork belly, cut into small dices (think of dicing thick-cut bacons)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
40g Rock Sugar
1/4 cup good soy sauce (I used a mixture of liquid aminos and dark soy, you might want to adjust the ratio depending on how dark your soy sauce is)
1/4 cup (45 grams) of Chinese rice wine
1 small stick of cinnamon
1 tsp of ground white pepper
1/4 tsp of five spice powder
1/2 cup of fried shallots (store-bought or homemade)
2 cups (710 grams) of water
5 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled

Pressure Cooker Method:

Dump everything except for the eggs into the pot and cook with pressure on for 30minutes. Release pressure and add hardboiled eggs, cook uncovered until the sauce thickens and reduced significantly. Season to taste.

Stove Top Method:

Heat non-stick pan and add pork belly (no oil needed, it’s fatty enough!) to cook for a few minutes until the fat is starting to render. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, then add soy sauce, rock sugar, cinnamon, rice wine, white pepper, fried shallots. Mix everything together and then finally add water and bring to a simmer. Cook for around 1 and 1/2 hour to 2 hours on medium-low heat until the sauce is thickened slightly and the pork is starting to get quite tender. Add hard-boiled egg and cook for 10-15 minutes further until the sauce is nicely gelatinous. You may need to add water during the cooking process if the liquid is reducing too fast.

Serve the Lu Rou over rice garnished with greens of your choice, and watch it disappear!

Come to mama! My Chinese zodiac is Boar so the Irony is not lost on me.

Meltingly tender pork, the aroma of 5 spice, savoury sweet sticky gravy, with perfectly cook eggs (I like my egg yolk just set or slightly runny). I served mine with some homemade pickled daikon for that extra bit of piquancy. Mmmm that was such a perfect meal.

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest #10 Aug 2014 : Taiwan hosted by travelling-foodies.

Nook’s MIGF 2013 Menu

Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF) is back with an interesting theme “Cool Chefs – Cooking with attitude”. Having missed out on the Taste MIGF due to work commitment, naturally I was excited to receive an invitation to try the MIGF menu at Nook, joining the festival for the very first time. This menu is extra special to me because Chef Steven Seow, though not actually from Sarawak, has taken the effort to feature the treasures from Sabah and Sarawak. You’ll see when we talk about the dishes.

It wasn’t our first time dining at Nook as I have tried out the buffet spead as well as ala carte dishes numerous times when I was performing at W XYZ bar back in June. I also went for an invited review earlier in the year when it was still brand new. I know that they have taken a special interest in improving their dishes because each time I visited, the dishes just kept getting better. FYI, 2 out of 4 dishes on this MIGF menu I have already tried as ala carte, albeit a little less luxurious. I shall stop rambling and let’s get started on the food. Starter first.

Smoked Scallop Umai Sushi, Duck Confit with Pomegranate and Yoghurt Sphere
Smoked Scallop Umai Sushi, Duck Confit with Pomegranate and Yoghurt Sphere

Ooh! Here’s a little bit of molecular gastronomy to please my inner food geek. I loved the presentation and this looks like a well-thought-out dish with different components.

Let's admire the plating one more time.
Let’s admire the plating one more time.

The glass contained the smoke (for the wow factor, I guess), I was told it was lemongrass flavour but it dissipated too fast for me to catch a whiff. The scallop umai is basically a Sarawakian citrus cured seafood, very much like ceviche but with local flavours.

Comes with a pipet filled soy sauce, fun!
Comes with a pipet filled soy sauce, fun!

I enjoyed the sweet, sour, savoury, herbaceous combination of the Scallop umai sushi. Moving on to the duck confit with a tiny piece of skin, well that was seasoned perfectly with good umami flavour and you can give me more of that crispy skin. Yum! I tried that with the sweet fruity coulis, pomegranate seeds and raisin separately and all worked very well together. You simply can’t do wrong with sweet and savoury pairings in my book. Oh and the Yoghurt sphere actually popped in my mouth. How cool! What a great introduction to the night. This course is paired with Villa Maria Chardonnay, NZ. Lovely crisp and easy to drink.

Leffe Blonde
Leffe Blonde

Interesting, Chef Steven Seow has chosen to pair the next course with a beer, and I can understand why.

Sarawak Laksa with Organic Soba Noodle, Lobster & Abalone
Sarawak Laksa with Organic Soba Noodle, Lobster & Abalone

I like to refer this to Sarawak Laksa on steroids. Haha. You see, the robust flavour of prawn and chicken stock in the broth with all that laksa spices would be too strong for a white wine, but pairing it with a red will totally overwhelmed the delicate lobster and abalone. So it totally makes sense. Compared to our first visit, this Laksa has totally exceeded my expectation. The broth is perfect (perhaps a little spicier than usual) with the right ratio of coconut milk: spices. Paired with grilled lobster that was juicy and sweet, it was rather divine. I am not normally a fan of abalone, but here the abalone was cooked with some butter and herbs, giving it a lighter flavour than usual, so this fussy eater approves.

Closer look
Closer look

While the usage of soba will probably induce a pang of panic for the purists, I don’t think it’s a huge problem because I love soba noodles anyway. Chicken was poached just right and I like how delicate the omelette strips were.

The next course is the heaviest of all and it features Sabah style cooking.

Wagyu Beef Rendang, Farm Vegetables Achar Jelatah , Tumeric Coconut Rice
Wagyu Beef Rendang, Farm Vegetables Achar Jelatah , Turmeric Coconut Rice

Some might think using Wagyu beef in rendang is simply sacrilegious. But since Wagyu beef cheeks are used commonly in braised dishes (especially by the French), why not give it a local twist? Here the beef was incredibly tender and the rendang flavours worked pretty well with this cut, although slightly on the rich side for me, probably because of the lighter dishes beforehand. The achar jelatah is Sabahan and it was just sour enough to help balance the dish.

Closer look with Kelly Chin's pretty dress in the background.
Closer look with Kelly Chin’s pretty dress in the background.

Do not underestimate the portion of this: the rice was compacted hence we were mostly fooled. I am a small eater so I could only manage half of the Turmeric Coconut Rice (Sabahan) before waving my white flag. It was suitably aromatic and not overly rich though. I would have happily gobbled the whole thing up if this was the only course (which I had done previously, yum). This course is paired with Madfish, Shiraz, Australia.

Time for dessert and this was super fun!

Eight Treasures Ais Kacang
Eight Treasures Ais Kacang

Call me nerdy but any food item presented in lab or medical appliances gets me pretty excited. Before getting the injection on, let’s see what we have here in the bowl: jackfruit, sweet potato, sago, cendol, black jelly, blackberries, strawberries and blue berries and of course a scoop of ice cream as cherry on the cake. As for the syringes: they are filled with colorful syrup including yellow – orange + lemongrass, red – rose + strawberry, green – pandan + apple, brown – salted palm sugar, white – cornflakes creamer.

Woohoo!
Woohoo!

In order to not confuse our taste buds, it is recommended we try individual syringe first to see what we liked best. My favourite is the salted palm sugar, followed very closely by the orange/lemongrass concoction. I thought the corn flakes flavoured milk was pretty interesting too.

Would you like me to administer your injection?
Would you like me to administer your injection?

There are 2 options for this MIGF menu: The light menu priced at RM160+ per person which comes without the Sarawak Laksa from set listed above. The Go Strong menu (full menu)  is priced at RM180+ per person (RM280+ with wine and beer pairing). This set menu is available through lunch and dinner and in both September and October.

Nook @ Aloft KL Sentral,
No 5 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: +603 2723 1154
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AloftKualaLumpurSentral

Singapore Get-away featuring Gordon Ramsay

I love spontaneity and due to the nature of my schedule, it’s hard to find time for a getaway. But I suppose I just need a little spark of motivation to make that decision and 2 weeks ago, I did precisely that. When I heard from KY that Gordon Ramsay was doing the cook-off against Singapore Hawkers on the 7th July, I started planning my Singapore trip straightaway. To be honest I didn’t even care for the actual cook-off, to be within 10 metres of my ‘idol’ is enough to satisfy me, haha!

So when I mentioned the idea to Poesy (inspirational woman with many titles: artist, interior architect, jewellery designer and humanitarian), she was kind enough to reschedule the class with her art student and I had a travel buddy! Naturally, I was very excited and hardly slept a wink the night before our very early bus ride.

We arrived at Balestier Plaza via Odyssey Bus at a perfect timing as it was lunch hour! I just had to do my usual ritual of Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice (I’d totally go to Singapore just for this). Poesy doesn’t usually eat Chicken rice but this was good enough for us to order an extra serve of drumstick. Another favourite of mine at BTK is the crispy skin tofu. Yum. I can have it again. And again. And then I’ll just be fat. Luckily I’m not Singaporean.

Best Chicken Rice IMO
Best Chicken Rice IMO (Tian Tian didn’t impress me that much but I know it has stronger following)

2 of us made our way to our host to freshen up, then I headed out to Newton Circus to get a piece of the action. I know that we have very Kiasu people in Singapore, but at this scale?

Insane crowd!
Insane crowd! And this was probably about 1/5 of it.

I heard some people started queueing as early as 1am? I’d like to know their mental process of waiting for over 17 hours just to have some hawker food. Even if it’s cooked by Gordon Ramsay.

Other side.
Other side. Madness!

The antipication was strong and the wave of excitement was pulsating through the air (so was the body heat and sweat. yay), and every vehicle that drove past induced screams from the crowd (both guys and girls, mind you). And then finally he arrived just before 6pm. I was too busy looking out for him so I didn’t get any clear shots, but safe to say that it wasn’t easy for the security to clear the path for him. Oh and he looked so good! So being the non-kiasu person, I only managed to squeeze through to about 5th row and this is the only shot I took which captured him. Wait for it:

LOL! Thumbs up if you can spot him.
LOL! Thumbs up if you can spot him.

By about 7pm I was thoroughly drenched by my own (and others!) sweat, so I made a quick exit and headed to Orchard road to meet Poesy and Fashion/Furniture designer Eunice for dinner.

Mmmm Yakitori!
Mmmm Yakitori! This was at Yakitori Enmaru, ION Orchard

The food was decent but the conversation was better. I probably would have been satisfied with another serving of Chicken rice instead. I had a good sleep with all that sake in my system (plus a glass or 3 of wine).

Since we went all the way to Singapore, we thought that it was a good idea to hold an early birthday lunch for Poesy and it was decided that we pay a visit to Sushi Airways, owned by one of Poesy’s friends (and also our host for that weekend).

We received individual boarding passes, how cute!
We received individual boarding passes, how cute!

Joining us were Han Ker (professional baker – check out her review on Sushi Airways), Eunice and Koh Zhi (photographer). It sure was an interesting creative arts mash-up.

I was suitably hungry by then and ordered one of my favourite yōshoku (Western-influenced Japanese food): Tonkatsu. This came as a bento set with miso soup as well.

Katsu Bento SGD15
Tonkatsu Bento SGD15

Mmm that sure looked appetizing!

Close-up
Close-up

Look at the juicy pork cutlet. It was done perfectly and went down really well with some Tonkatsu sauce and Japanese style “Tartare sauce”. This has reignited my love for Tonkatsu because I haven’t had a truly good one in KL yet (someone recommended Tonkatsu @ 1u?)

Miso soup
Miso soup

The miso soup tasted light enough with plenty of vegetables. I like how it’s not laden with salt.

Large Sashimi Platter SGD99
Large Sashimi Platter SGD99

We were a little puzzled as to why the Sashimi was served after our bento dishes. But no matter, give me raw fish anytime (as long as it’s quality stuff). Look at that beauty! My inner cat was purring non-stop.

Zeroed in the Sea Urchin, unfortunately not the freshest I've tasted.
Zeroed in the Sea Urchin, unfortunately not the freshest I’ve tasted.

Some of the Sashimi pieces were not as fresh of the others, but the Chef noted our feedback and asked if we wanted extra pieces of the fresher fish. We didn’t take the offer as there was enough food for all of us anyway. We got some complimentary side dishes that would have been good if we were drinking. I probably wouldn’t order the sashimi again (or stick to specific fish like Salmon), but definitely recommend that Tonkatsu.

SushiAirways 寿司航空 Sushibar,
20a Baghdad Street, Singapore, Singapore 199659
http://www.facebook.com/Sushiairways
Operating hours: Mon – Sun: 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm, 6:00 pm – 10:30 pm

After lunch, some of us went over to Far East Plaza and got some really good bargains. I was trying not to spend too much but ended up buying a few things anyway. *slaps wrist* For the return journey we took the Transtar coach. Comfortable with lots of movie choices. Ahhhhh… I want to repeat this all over again!

Thank you so much Poesy for buying lunch and being such a fun travel buddy! No doubt there will be another birthday celebration before the actual date. Oh, I shall end this post with one of Poesy’s art pieces. This is my favourite series: The Rooftop Cats.

Rooftop Cat Series by Poesy Liang
Rooftop Cat Series by Poesy Liang, done with Chinese Ink and Metallic acrylic.

By the way, if you are interested in tasting my cooking, you’ll be able to do that for free at this special event. It’s a Ramadhan Pop-up Cafe on the helipad of Menara Maybank. Have I mentioned that it’s free? There will be 2 other Plateculture hosts cooking too and we will be serving up to 60 pax. Book now at https://plateculture.com/where-to-eat/etiqa-ramadhan-pop-up-cafe-on-the-helipad

Ayam Percik Kelantan (MFF Kelantan)

As promised, I’m back with a recipe. And this one is a doozy, featuring one of the most versatile protein, chicken. Specifically, the thighs (well, legs). The breast lovers can divert your attention now (or make the substitution if you want). There must be over a hundred way to cook Chicken thighs, even in Malaysia alone. Even a simple barbecued Chicken dish “Ayam Percik” comes with several regional variations. As this is the Kelantan month for Malaysian Food Fest (hosted by mykitchensnippets), of course I’ve gone with a Kelantan recipe.

The State of Kelantan is located on the North East coast of Peninsula Malaysia. The dishes in Kelantan tend to be on the sweet side (I wonder if the incidence of diabetes is the highest in this state?) and even the savoury dishes contains a good dose of sugar. Coconut milk usage is high too, so their curries tend to be on the rich side as well. The dish I’ve cooked this time, “Ayam Percik Kelantan” looks a little paler comparing to the regional cousins which are usually blessed with a touch of turmeric and you guessed it, contains sugar and plenty of coconut milk.

Ayam Percik Kelantan
Ayam Percik Kelantan

Percik in Malay means sprinkle or drizzle, and this refers to the way the gravy is poured onto the chicken several times during the cooking process. As the gravy consists of coconut milk infused with various spices, what you get as an end result are pieces of the most aromatic, and succulent chicken with caramelised edges of the gravy. Just divine. Splash a little more thickened gravy over (enough to mix in the rice too) and you have yourself a very satisfying meal.

I’ve consulted Dr Google for the recipe and there are quite a few out there with different combination of spices. In the end, I decided to go with Lemongrass, Cardamom and Cloves as the main spices along with the usual onion, garlic, ginger and chili mixture. The cooking method also varies but I’ve referred closely to Kuali.com with minor adaptations. And of course, I do not have a charcoal barbeque so I’ve entrusted my oven for this job. As I cooked for one, I only used 2 Chicken thighs. Feel free to adjust the recipe to your need.

Ayam Percik Kelantan (Recipe adapted from Kuali.com)

2 Chicken Maryland (Thighs + Drumsticks)
200ml Coconut Milk
3 cardamoms
3 cloves
1 stalk Lemongrass, bruised
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon White Pepper
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon potato starch mixed with water(or any thickening agent you prefer)

Spice paste
3 cloves Garlic
1 thumb sized Ginger
3 Shallots
3-4 Dried Chili, soaked and drained
1/2 cup Water
1 stalk Lemongrass

Put garlic, shallots, ginger, lemongrass and dried chili in blender and blend with a little water until fine. Marinate chicken thighs in this paste for at least 1/2 hour.

Transfer everything into a pot and pour half the coconut milk over it. Add cardamom, cloves and lemongrass and cook over medium heat until chicken is partly cooked, about 20 minutes. Season with tamarind paste, salt and sugar halfway through.

Smelling really good at this point.
Smelling really good at this point.

Take the chicken out of the pot, reserving the coconut milk mixture in the pot. Place the chicken on baking tray and cook under the oven grill (broiler) at medium heat for 7-8 minutes.

Discard the cardamom and cloves from the gravy. Add the rest of coconut milk and the potato starch mix and simmer until thick. Taste for seasoning.

Coat the chicken with extra sauce and continue to grill, repeating if necessary until chicken is golden brown and cooked well. When serving, ladle the delicious gravy over the chicken or you can also serve it separately. For me, the more the merrier! I served mine with some brown rice cooked with pandan leaves.

Simply Irresistible
Simply Irresistible

I will not deny that I’ve ladled extra gravy over the rice after taking the photos. I absolutely loved this. The combination of spices and the rich coconut gravy made the apartment smell incredible and of course totally won over my taste buds. The level of sweetness was just enough to complement the coconut milk. If I were to make this next time I will throw in some fresh chili as well for extra kick. The spice level is on the mild side for me, but definitely stronger for people like your typical Ang Moh (yes I’m looking at you Frank). He doesn’t eat chicken by the way, more for me.

What is your favourite chicken recipe?

I am submitting this post to Malaysian Food Fest, Kelantan Month hosted by Gertrude of My Kitchen Snippets

MFF Kedah: Nasi Daging Kedah & Air Asam Tomato

When it comes to regional dishes in Malaysia, I’m afraid my knowledge doesn’t go beyond Sarawak (of course), Sabah, KL/Selangor, Penang, Malacca, and thanks to the MFF, quite a little bit of Terrangganu. Malaysian Food Fest is such a great ‘online’ event for a lot of us to get to know what the people in our neighbouring states like to cook. Some dishes are entirely unique, and some dishes are merely tweaked ever so slightly to suit the local taste. Nevertheless they are all close to the locals’ hearts, I’m sure.

Of all the states, Kedah (the rice state) and Perlis (the smallest state in Malaysia) are probably the two that I know the least. My geography was never any good anyway. However, Wendy gave us a very concise geography lesson on both states and you can read more about them here.

Naturally, I would go for the non-seafood dishes on the list as you know that I’m not a huge fan of seafood. When I saw the post on Nasi Daging Kedah (Kedah Beef Rice), I immediately bookmarked the page. I admit I was more attracted to the Tomato side dish though, as it contains something I’ve never cooked before: Torch Ginger Bud. Curious to find out how it tastes like raw, off I went searching for the ingredients for this dish.

It’s not a difficult dish to make and requires very little attention. The beef and rice were both left aside for their respective cooking times and all I needed to do was to chop up the ingredients for the side dish.

Oh… what’s that yellow pile of stuff on the plate? That wasn’t in the recipe?

While the beef was boiling away, I settled in my desk and continue browsing the blogs and came across the pineapple acar made by Suituapui. I had a lot of pineapple leftover from practising for the Nutriplus Baking Competition, so I made this too! Oh yeah…. I still have to blog about the final. Hold your horses as I still have to wait for the pictures.

Beef:
500gm beef (any braising cut will do)
1 inch ginger, smashed
1 tsp white peppercorns
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp cumin
3 cardamons
2 inch cinnamon
2 star anise
3 cloves
2.5L water

Bring water to boil and add all the spices and beef. Simmer for over 3 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Take the beef out and let cool. Strain the beef broth. You’ll need it for the rice.
Once the beef is cool enough to handle, cut into slices.
Extra soup can be seasoned and serve as soup. Keep the rest for future use.

Rice:
1 cup brown rice
1 tablespoon butter
½ onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cardamoms
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon curry spices mix (I used a combination of cumin, turmeric, coriander seeds and garam marsala)
1 cup Beef Broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cream

Wash rice and drip dry in colander.

Heat saucepan on medium heat. Add butter and when it has melted add garlic , onion, cinnamon stick and cardamom. Saute til very fragrant. Add curry spice and stir. Add rice, salt and tomato paste and mix well.
Pour in beef broth and let the rice cook until bubbling subsides.
Pour cream evenly over the rice, lightly stir it and let it cook until done.
Let the rice sit for at least half an hour (best is 1 hour) after turning off the heat before serving.

Air Asam Tomato (Tomato “Salsa”):
1 red onion, sliced
1 bird’s eye chilli, finely sliced
Juice of 2 calamansi limes
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tsp finely minced torch ginger bud
3 tomatoes, diced
Chinese parsley for garnish

Mix everything together and let it sit for at least 15 minutes to half an hour. Adjust taste if needed.

Note: If you don’t live in Malaysia, you can try looking for torch ginger bud in the florists!

Very appetising looking tomatoes!

Pineapple Acar:
Half a pineapple
1 Japanese cucumber
4 Bird’s eye chili (I like it hot)
1 Small Red onion
1 teaspoon sugar (Add more if the pineapple you use is on the sour side)
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons white vinegar

Cut pineapple, cucumber into small pieces and slice chilis lengthways. Thinly slice the onion. Mix everything together, and let it sit in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Finally…. you are ready to serve!

Acar: The perfect companion to anything really. But generally used with spicy curry dishes

My rice takes on a more yellowish hue because I was a little too generous with the turmeric. But the verdict? I love the combination of flavours! The rice is aromatic with complex flavours, the beef was so tender it falls apart with a gentle probe.

Look at all that meaty glory!

I love the Air Asam Tomato! The torch ginger bud gives off an exquisite scent and the perfect tang, a lovely match with the beef and rice. The addition of pineapple acar was a wise one as it added that sweet note to my meal, with plenty of kicks too. A very fun dish to eat!

So… how well do you know Malaysian cuisine? Do you know of any Kedah or Perlis dishes?
I am submitting this to MFF Kedah Perlis Month hosted by WendyinKK of Table for 2…… or More