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

Hosting with PlateCulture: My Very Own Supper Club!

Picture this: One fine day, I’m consulting patients in my private clinic. After the last patient has left, I drove to my own restaurant where I’ll watch over my team of fabulous Chefs putting together beautiful dishes and if I feel like it, I put on the apron and make a few dishes too. When the dinner guests are deep into their conversations and hopefully enjoying the food, my band appears and we performed a few tunes together.

Ok, that might be a little too idealistic and knowing me, I’d probably be running around like a headless chook juggling all of these. But that won’t be far off from my dream. As of now, I’ve taken yet another step forward and the time has come for me to start hosting dinners (and brunches) at my place.

Being a host can be so much fun!
Do you think I pass as a good host?

PlateCulture is an exciting new platform to connect all foodies alike. Without the need to actually own a restaurant, home cooks can now open their dining rooms for guests. I feel that it’s quite safe to do this via an agency (if you will) like this because it provides an extra safety net for us. As a guest, you’ll be able to communicate with the hosts prior to booking to specify any dietary requirements or even request dishes (at least with me you can).

There are 2 types of menu available for my dining room: Food I grew up eating (Chinese, Malaysian) and Western food in general (Brunch, Dinner). Now let’s talk about the Chinese food first.

Chinese feast
Teochew Steamed Fish, Braised Pork Belly (Tau You Bak), Stir fried Eggplant in Garlic sauce.

Most of the Chinese recipes come from my grandmother and my mother, with strong Teochew and Foochow (and Sarawakian) influence. Depending on the number of guests the number of dishes will vary. You will be able to request dishes like Sarawak Laksa too. Vegetarian option is possible but I don’t do ‘mock meat’ dishes.

Would you eat the fish eyes?
Would you eat the fish eyes?

Guests are allowed to bring wine or beer to the dinner, but responsible drinking is very much encouraged.

Not the healthiest but the collagen is good for you. Hehe
Not the healthiest but the collagen is good for you. Hehe

To improve your dining experience, it’s advisable that you let me know if there’s anything you won’t be comfortable eating, as well as your tolerance for spice. All dishes are for sharing and only brown rice will be served.

Introducing the Weekend Brunch menu:

Weekend Brunch dishes
Weekend Brunch dishes

I like sleeping in during weekends (although with this project I might have to do less of that) and hate it when the brunch places stop serving breakfast items after certain time (2pm-3pm for most places as far as I’m aware). At my place, you can have breakfast anytime of the day! Woke up after 4pm? No problem. But be sure to book ahead so I have the ingredients to prepare your dishes.

Baked egg with bacon, capsicum and zucchini. The combination might change based on availability.
Baked egg with bacon, capsicum and zucchini. The combination might change based on availability.

Expect dishes that you can find in most Melbourne cafés: Baked eggs, Smashed Avocado on toast (homemade), Quiches, other egg dishes. If you want a more substantial meal though, you can also choose to book for dinner where I’ll be cooking a 3 course dinner for you. The main course can be anything from Salmon to Beef Stew. Once again, it will help if I know what you normal like to eat.

Lemon and Herbs baked Salmon with my famous mash.
Lemon and Herbs baked Salmon with my famous mash.

Remember the cheesecake in jars? Here’s another version:

Rosewater Cheesecake with Strawberry Jam
Rosewater Cheesecake with Strawberry Jam

Desserts are only available on dinner menu (applicable to Chinese and Western), and they will usually be healthier compared to store bought because I prefer to use less salt. After all, I’m not exactly a fat chef so you won’t need to feel too guilty after dining at my place.

Verified by PlateCulture!
Verified by PlateCulture!

Many have actually asked for the recipe for the cheesecake so here it is!

Rosewater Cheesecake with Strawberry Jam
60g of Marie Biscuits (about 9 pieces)
50g Butter, melted 250g Philadelphia Cream Cheese
100ml Thickened Cream
2 drops of Rosewater
Half a pod of Vanilla Beans, scrapped
1/4 Cup Sugar (more if you prefer sweeter, taste before you chill it)
30-40ml Hot Water
Half a packet of Gelatine, about one teaspoon
1 punnet Strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
Juice of half a lemon

Crush the biscuits in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin, and then pour in the melted butter and mix well. Lay a couple of spoonfuls into individual jars and lightly press down.

Add cream cheese, cream, rosewater, vanilla beans, sugar in the blend and blend until smooth. Sprinkle gelatine in a bowl of hot water and mix well with a fork. Add to the cheese mixture and blend for a few more seconds. Pour the mixture into the jar evenly and chill for at least 3-4 hours.

To make the strawberry jam, hulled and cut the strawberries into halves or quarters depending on size, add to a saucepan with sugar and lemon juice. Cook on medium heat until the liquid turned into gel form (it will form a coat on the back of your spoon). Let cool completely and chill in the fridge until ready to use. Assemble just before serving.

My Chinese dinner menu is priced very reasonably at RM30 per head, and so is the Weekend Brunch menu. The Western dinner is RM50 per head (you can book this through the Weekend Brunch link). Click on the direct links to book your spots. Minimum 2 pax.

Looking forward to having you over for dinner! 

PlateCulture
http://www.plateculture.com
http://www.facebook.com/PlateCulture

Photocredit to: www.afnanomar.com

Meanwhile, do check out all the interesting listings on the site. I heard that the Lithuanian feast is good!

Sarawak Laksa with Salmon

So the General Election has finally drawn to a close. Most Malaysians would have been glued to the social media sites/TV/Radio following the poll counting and some have been feeling disappointed with how it all unfolded. Regardless of the outcomes, don’t despair. I have a song for you. Never give up. Just gotta keep trying.

Right, back to food. After the series of multinational dishes with salmon and noodles, I felt it was most appropriate to bring it home with my home state (Sarawak) recipe.

Premium Sarawak Laksa
Premium Sarawak Laksa

Before you start saying “Hang on a minute…. This doesn’t look like Sarawak Laksa!” Indeed I have not done an authentic Sarawak Laksa this time, and you will probably never see salmon in this dish ever. Yes, I have totally ‘bastardised’ this dish. Sometimes a little bit of innovation brings a refreshing change to a traditional dish, don’t you think? There are places that sell Kolok mee with Seafood (usually pork only) nowadays, it’s only natural for Sarawak Laksa to perhaps include other types of seafood. Or at the very least, please a salmon lover like me.

By the way if you like to see a more authentic version, I have blogged about the recipe previously here.

Few changes here besides the obvious change of seafood: I used hardboiled egg instead of omelette (and found myself liking it more), and swapped the rice vermicelli for yellow noodles.

Just love the gorgeous colours.
Just love the gorgeous colours.

Sarawak Laksa with Salmon

Fresh Yellow noodles enough for two
1 Salmon fillet (up to you whether you want skin on or off)
2 Hard boiled Eggs (boiled for no more than 5 minutes)
Big handful of bean sprouts
2 small Calamansi Limes
100g of Sarawak Laksa paste (“Eagle” brand, others might have different constitutions)
60ml Coconut milk
Salt and sugar to taste
500ml Chicken stock (homemade is best, but Stock cubes are acceptable too)
Coriander leaves (for garnishing)

Method:

Wash and drain the fresh noodles. Blanched for a minute then set aside. This is mostly to remove the Kan Sui (Alkaline) taste.

Blanched the bean sprouts for a minute, then drained and set aside.

Season the salmon with salt and white pepper, then pan fried for 2-3 minutes each side until just cooked. Cut into bite size pieces.

In a pot, lightly fry the laksa paste until fragrant (you won’t need oil because the paste already comes with), add the Chicken stock and cook for 20-30 minutes. Sieve the sediment of the broth and bring it to boil again. Add coconut milk and stir well. Turn off the heat. Taste and season. If you had used Chicken stock cube the broth might already be salty enough. Pinch of sugar to balance the taste.

Set the noodles in bowls, pour over the broth and arrange bean sprouts, salmon pieces, eggs (cut in half) on top, garnish with as much Coriander as you like. Serve immediately.

The Salmon was calling out to me. Look at the succulent piece of flesh. Yum.
The Salmon was calling out to me. Look at the succulent piece of flesh. Yum.

Why haven’t I thought of this before? I’m not a huge fan of prawns (don’t kill me, dear Sarawakians) so for me this version ticks all the right boxes for me! Only downside is that this has a rather high cost price, I think I’ll have to price each bowl at about RM10 (with hardly any profit at all).

Glorious aromatic noodles.
Glorious aromatic noodles.

I found that Yellow noodles actually absorb the flavours more, probably owing to their size. Very slurp-worthy. No wonder the Curry Laksa in West Malaysia are served with both types of noodles for maximum enjoyment. As for the broth, well once you have a taste of good Sarawak Laksa, you’ll understand why some of us are totally addicted. It’s a combination of salty umaminess (from the shrimp paste), sweet (from Coconut milk), sour (lime and tamarind) and of course the spicy note. Absolutely delicious.

I think I have finally done enough combination of Salmon with noodles. What do you think? Which one is your favourite?

Check out the other related posts:

Vietnamese Rice Noodles Salad with Salmon
Smoked Salmon Spaghetti with zucchini and capers

Teriyaki Salmon and Yaki Udon

Ang Jiu (Foochow Red Wine) Chicken Soup with Mee Sua

A break from the fishy posts (though I’m glad you like the recipes) and here I present the ultimate comfort food: Chicken Soup. Not just your regular Chicken boiled with ginger and mushrooms, but with homemade Foochow Red Wine.

That’s right, the bright hue might be a little confronting but most Sarawakians (or Sitiawan foochows) will tell you this appears regularly on our dining tables. I might have mentioned before that my maternal grandmother makes her own Foochow red wine (with ground red yeast rice and glutinous rice, I might upload a recipe one day when I am motivated enough to make my own). We grew up drinking this soup and will always have it whenever we are back in Bintulu. Since I moved to KL, I will always bring a bottle with me from Bintulu. The soup is not only tasty, it’s also good to mend our health and strength, suitable for mothers in confinement too.

Grandma makes this soup using the double boiler technique which makes the soup extra tasty with more ‘body’ to it. A slow cooker would be another great option. I don’t have either of those, so I added a bit of Ang Zao (Red Wine Residue) to marinate the Chicken so it will infuse more flavours.

I think garnishing with coriander is a Sitiawan thing. I’ve never seen my Grandma use it, neither does any of my Sarawakian friends it seems. I do love coriander so I feel that it’s a pretty good addition.

Ang Jiu Chicken Soup with Mee Sua
Ang Jiu Chicken Soup with Mee Sua

Ang Jiu Chicken Soup (serves 4)

4 Chicken Drumsticks
8 Shiitake Mushrooms, rehydrated
1 tablespoon Ang Zao (Red Wine Residue)
100ml Ang Jiu (Foochow Red Wine)
Several pieces of Ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Mee Sua
Coriander to Garnish (Optional)

Marinate the Chicken drumsticks with Ang Zao for at least 15 minutes.To cook the soup, lightly fry the ginger in sesame oil until fragrant, then add Chicken, Mushrooms and enough water to cover everything and bring to boil. Lower the heat and add half the Ang Jiu, continue to cook for at least 1 and half hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the rest of Ang Jiu. Before serving, you can pass the soup through a sieve to separate the red wine residue for a clearer soup.

Chicken Soup, done!
Chicken Soup, done!

You can always enjoy the soup with other dishes and rice like what we do most of the time. Mee Sua is more of a special occasion thing in our family. As you might know already, it signifies longevity (thus also called longevity noodles) and traditionally consumed during Chinese New Year and Birthdays. Well, Chinese New Year was a couple of months ago, and my birthday is not due for a few months time, but I can still have it whenever my craving strikes.

The best Mee Sua comes from Sarawak or Sitiawan (I think their Mee Sua is slightly thicker from what I’ve seen) and are best when they are handmade. The process is tedious and requires high level of skill. You can check out a video uploaded by House of Annie here.

Mee Sua cooks really fast in boiling water, usually only takes a minute or so. Once cooked, drain the noodles, and serve in a big bowl. Spoon the Chicken soup over and garnish with Coriander. Enjoy while hot! I usually add a teaspoon or so of extra red wine for the extra oomph! The soup is slightly tart but extremely fragrant with the wine, which pairs well with the tender noodles. It’s instant comfort.

To bring this dish to the next level, you can do this:

Yolkporn alert!
Yolkporn alert!

Don’t know about you, but the runny yolk is saying ‘Eat Me Now!’ to me. To make egg like this, you just boil it for 4 minutes (counting it from the moment the water starts to boil but adding the egg when the water is cold, if that even makes sense), peel carefully while submerged in cold water. Perfect! Guess I’ll make you choose again, with egg or without egg? 😀

Fun fact: My maternal side is actually Teochew. And my Foochow grandma’s usual Chicken Soup would be Ba Ting (the black herbal type) soup which I also don’t mind but haven’t yet tried to cook.

So how do you like your Chicken soup?

Sarawak MFF: Kacangma (Motherwort) Chicken / Arthur’s day Celebration at Sid’s Pub.

The social scene in KL has been rather busy lately. Of course, in the midst of all the Pre-arthur’s day celebrations, and several launches of new outlets, the Oktoberfest and Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF) are both about to take off as well. It’s no wonder we are swamped with events to attend for the weeks to come.

Last weekend was the annual Sid’s Pubs‘ Arthur’s day Celebration. The boys sure know how to throw great parties! Like last year, this party was held at their Taman Tun Dr Ismail outlet, and there were plenty of cheers. With Guinness priced at RM10nett, it’s no wonder everyone took the opportunity to indulge in a few.

Although the event started at 12 noon, we only arrived at the Pub after 5pm. By then, the party was in full swing. There were people everywhere! Spilling out to the streets, even. According to Frank, around 500 people turned up. We took no time in ordering our pints of black magic and contributing to the toasts to Mr Arthur Guinness. Here are the photographic evidences:

To Arthur!
Frank took the hats off Mr Dustyhawk as we grabbed the photo opportunity. Thanks Andy!

Yes we stack our cups as we go….. My count was 7 in total.

I deliberated about posting this pic. But since Louise and I met at the same party exactly a year ago, I thought we’d also celebrate our anniversary on that day, and that’s how this pic came about.

Sealed with a kiss. Happy Anniversary!

You have the boys to thank (or blame?) for this pic. We just obliged.

Now that’s out of the way….. time to focus on the food. I have a reason for this too. You see, Kacangma Chicken isn’t really a visually pleasing dish. In fact most people would probably find it bordering gross. It’s true too that this is an acquired taste. But anything that’s cooked in a bottle of wine is good in my book. Great, even. Just think of it as a Chinese version of Coq Au Vin. Except it’s much better for you. This is my third post in conjunction with the Sarawak Month of Malaysia Food Fest.

Motherwort (益母草) is a herb that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Not only in China, but in Greece and North America too. Primarily given to women after giving birth for variety of reasons (reduce anxiety, prevent post-natal depression, eases uterine cramping are the main few). For the rest of us, it’s also good for regulating menstrual cycle, and promoting heart health.

The main precaution is not to consume it during menstruation as it can make the bleeding heavier, something to do with stimulating the uterus. That’s speaking from personal experience too. Yeah, because you really need to know. Sorry about that. There is also some evidence that suggest it could potentially be dangerous to be consumed during pregnancy for the same reason. If you have a heart condition, or if you are taking sedatives, do consult a doctor before consuming motherwort as it could interact with some of the medications.

That’s why this dish called Kacangma Chicken (I have no idea how the name came about, and everyone seems to spell it differently) is the most common confinement dish in Sarawak (especially for the Teochews and Hakkas). The combination of motherwort, wine (lots of it) and ginger helps restore physical health and improve circulation, thus recover from the labour.

Kacangma Chicken

I’m not sure how readily available Motherwort is, though I suspect you could probably check with your local Chinese medicine stores. There are 2 types of wine used in this recipe. One’s readily available in the supermarket: White Rice Wine (白米酒) and the other one is usually homemade and we call it Tien Jiu/Sweet Wine (甜酒), made with Glutinous rice. You could susbtitute that with Chinese Rose Wine, or Cognac, even Foochow Red Wine. You’d want something that’s on the sweet side as motherwort is quite a bitter herb.

The ingredients needed, apart from the Chicken

I received the motherwort already pre-fried and blended (by my mother) so it looks like this.

Unassuming tub of herbaceous goodness

Ingredients:
1kg Chicken Maryland, chopped to smaller pieces
A packet of Motherwort, dry fried and blended
Ginger, about palm size
1 650ml bottle of White Rice Wine
1/2 cup Sweet Wine/Tian Jiu
Pinch of salt (optional)*

*My grandma and my mum doesn’t add salt in this dish at all. 

Chop the ginger finely and process it (or pound with mortar and pestle). Using a muslin cloth, squeeze the juice out. Set aside.

Dry fry the motherwort until brownish. Set aside

Dry fry the ginger until aromatic. Set aside.

In a heavy pan/wok, heat oil and add the ginger back along with chicken pieces. Sear the chicken pieces well, then add the motherwort back in. Pour the entire bottle of White Rice Wine in. And let the mixture simmer for about 40 minutes or until Chicken’s tender. Stirring occasionally.

Just before turning off the heat, add the Sweet Wine.

The fumes from the alcohol alone could probably get the cheap drunks. It smells incredible!

It won’t win beauty pageant, but it will win your heart.

You could serve this dish with leafy vegetables and rice. Or do what I sometimes do, eat it with mee sua! The noodles soaked in the gravy is quite incredible. The unique bitter taste of the herb, the sharp and pungent ginger, combined with aromatic wine, undiluted. It definitely packs a punch!

I am submitting this dish to Malaysian Food Fest, Sarawak Month hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts

Sarawak MFF: Kolo Mee 干捞面

I’m absolutely loving the Malaysia Food Fest’s Sarawak Month. Seeing everyone’s enthusiasm about Sarawak and its offering is rather heartening. If you have not joined in the fun, check out the facebook event page for all the lovely entries so far. Even as a Sarawakian myself, I’m still discovering new dishes I’ve never tried before.

Well today I’m going to blog about probably the most well-known signature dish in Sarawak: Kolo Mee. The allure of this dish lies in its simplicity. Usually in a bowl of Kolo Mee we would expect a few things: Springy and oily noodles (with pork lard), Minced Pork (well seasoned), Char Siew (usually of less fatty cut), and Vegetables (Choy Sum). Sometimes you could also find special version with extra toppings such as pork liver and prawns. There are also halal versions too, although I doubt it would be as addictive as the original.

The funny thing is, I’ve never really ordered Kolo Mee in Bintulu. I’d either go for Kampua (Foochow) mee, or Kolo Kueh Tiaw (purists would probably scoff at this, hehe).

Kolo Kueh Tiaw, Popular Corner Bintulu

Old habits die hard I guess, my family has been ordering this for many many years at the same place. That’s why it never even occur to me to change it to the original noodles. But luckily, my mum recently travelled back to Bintulu and I’ve asked her to bring me some dry kolo mee noodles.

That’s a lot of Kolo Mee!

To make Kolo Mee at home, it actually does take a considerate amount of effort. First, you have to prep the Char Siew, render the pork lard for the oil (though I have some leftover from a while ago), then you’ll have to cook/blanch a few things at once to put together a perfect bowl of noodles. I’ve also pickled some green chilies a day ahead.

“Kelly’s Kolo Mee” does have a bit of a ring to it eh?

So, without further ado, let’s walk through the steps of making this dish.

Pickled Green Chilies:
All you need are some chopped up green chilies (of course), about 5 or 6. Put them all in a sterile jar, add a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt, then pour rice vinegar until everything’s covered. Keep this in a fridge at least overnight. This will last for weeks too. Use it for anything. Frank kept stealing pieces out of the jar!

Yummy!

To render the pork lard, refer here.

For Char Siew, I’ve referred to this recipe from My Asian Kitchen (and tweaked the amount of ingredients). I’ve actually use quite a lean cut of Pork too.

Char Siew :

200g pork
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cooking Chinese wine
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon 5 spice powder
1-2 drop red food color
honey for brushing

Combine all seasoning with pork in a large container. Marinate pork for a few hours or overnight in fridge.

Heat oven to 180 degree Celcius. Line a baking tray with baking papper. Place marinated pork on the baking tray,bake pork for 20 minutes,then turn the other side,bake for another 20 minutes.

Brush pork with honey and then change setting to grill at 200 degree Celsius,roast the pork for another 5-10 minutes or so each side (brushing the other side too) until it is charred around the edges. Let cool, and cut to serve.

You’ll also need to prepare some Shallot oil. Just fry chopped shallot in peanut oil until golden brown. Set aside, leaving some oil on the pan.

Mince Pork Marinate (for about 30g):
1 teaspoon Shao Xing Wine
2 teaspoon of light soya sauce
a couple of dashes of white pepper powder

Marinate for at least 1 hour. Fry pork in the shallot oil until well-cooked.

Now that most of the preps are done, let’s get to the main part of the cooking.

Kolo Mee:
1 serving of dry noodles
Handful of Choy Sum
1 tablespoon Pork Lard
1 tablespoon Shallot Oil (Shallots included)
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Chicken Stock Powder (or MSG)*
1 teaspoon Rice Vinegar (from the Pickled chillies)
White Pepper, to taste
Pickled Chilies for Garnish
Chopped Spring Onions for Garnish

*As I’ve previously mentioned, I don’t cook with MSG at home. But Chicken Stock Powder is a good substitute and much better for you. 

Add all the seasonings in a large bowl.

Cook the noodles in boiling water until al dente, for the dry noodles it takes about 3-4minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Then return to the boiling water again for around 30 seconds. In the same pot of water if you like, blanch the choy sum for about 1 minute. Set Aside.

Once the noodles are ready, mix in the bowl with the seasonings. Then garnish with Char Siew, Minced Pork, Choy Sum, Chilies, and Spring Onions. Enjoy while hot!

Delicious and sinful!

The noodles, while perfectly al dente and springy, are fragrant with the pork lard and shallot oil. You get the sweetness of the Char Siew complementing the Savoury Minced Pork, while the Vegetables provides the crunch and freshness. The vinegar is just enough to cut through the richness of the noodles. A bowl of this would keep me full for hours. Now I’m just glad there are more nooodles lying around.

Have you got a favourite Kolo Mee stall?

I am submitting this dish to Malaysian Food Fest, Sarawak Month hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts

Sarawak MFF: Stir-fried Manicai with Eggs

I’d like to thank Wendy from Table for 2 or more for organising the Malaysia Food Fest. It’s such a meaningful exercise for us to get to know the unique dishes from each state of our country. And best still, I get to share some of the dishes I’ve grown up eating. Which is why I’m most excited about this month’s theme: Sarawak! I’ve previously blogged about some of my favourite Sarawak dishes here. The Sarawak month is hosted by Sharon from Feat of Feasts.

There are many Sarawak dishes that can’t be found in Kuala Lumpur unless you’ve brought the ingredients over to cook at home. Not this dish though. The ingredient is commonly found in markets and even supermarkets, some of you might even have them growing in your garden (Yen, for example). Sauropus androgynus might seem too grand a name, in Chinese it’s called Manicai, in Malay Cangkuk Manis or Sayur Manis, and in English, Sweet Leaf. In Sarawak we common have it fried with eggs, while over here it’s used with Pan Mee.

Stir-fried Manicai with Eggs 马尼菜炒蛋

Everytime we go out to a restaurant or a kopitiam in Bintulu, I would always request for this dish. When done right it’s sweet, the slight chewy leaves are balanced with the soft fluffy eggs. Nutritious too, as it’s high in Vitamin K, A, B, C, Protein and Minerals. I could just eat this alone with rice.

There’s an important step involved when cooking this though. The leaves are originally bitter without this step. Basically you have to squeeze out all the juice by hand. The excess amount of this juice can be bad for your lungs, due to a chemical called alkaloid papaverine (the people in Taiwan learnt this the hard way as Manicai was once very popular for weight loss there and they were juicing it!)

Manicai, washed, salted, and squeezed dry.

Stir-fried Manicai with Eggs (source: My Mother)

200g Manicai (plucked from stalks)
1 tablespoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
1 teaspoon MSG-free Chicken stock powder *
50ml water
1 teaspoon light soy sauce (optional)

(That’s a very short ingredient list! Even shorter if you like to omit the light soy sauce. I just like the flavour)

*I personally do not cook with MSG, so I substitute with Chicken stock powder. If you want to use MSG, just add about half a teaspoon. 

First, wash the leaves thoroughly, roughly tear with hand, and add the salt. Leave for several minutes, then squeeze all the juice out (you’ll inevitably tear some more leaves, that also helps in getting the juice out). Rinse, and squeeze again. Set aside.

In a wok/pan, heat 3-4 tablespoons of oil (you really need quite a bit to achieve that lovely sheen and moisture). Once it’s hot, cook the garlic until aromatic. Stir in the leaves in, when wilted add chicken stock powder and cook for about 1 minute. Add water when it starts to look quite dry (about halfway through).

Wheeee!

Make a well in the middle, crack the eggs in and beat with chopsticks to mix. Once the eggs are starting to set, start mixing everything together, adding more water if needed. Stir in the soy sauce. Turn off the heat after about a minute or so. Serve while hot.

Caught the fat cat having a good sniff. It is indeed delicious!

Now I can enjoy this dish anytime! Do try this dish out and you will not be disappointed. It’s much tastier (and therefore, more children-friendly) than Spinach!

For the non-Sarawakians: Have you ever had Manicai cooked this way?

I am submitting this dish to Malaysian Food Fest, Sarawak Month hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts

Foochow Braised Fried Noodles (Chao Zhu Mian)

This is another dish that I grew up eating in Bintulu, Sarawak. I remember having them in school canteens. Now and then when I go back to Bintulu I’d order one… well, after I had my Kampua mee and Sarawak Laksa of course. I was in Bintulu for a few days back in March this year and we paid a visit to a restaurant/kopitiam that has been around for a long time and used to make good Chao Zhu Mian. Unfortunately, the standard has deteriorated.

A rather ordinary bowl of Chao Zhu Mian, the broth was bland and I don’t even remember seeing any prawns in it.

The best Chao Zhu Mian in Bintulu has to be the one upstairs of Pasar Utama (the wet market), their deluxe big prawn version is really quite divine. Though it doesn’t come cheap at over RM20 per bowl.

A typical foochow dish, Chao Zhu Mian (炒煮面) means the noodles were stir-fried before braising in a dark soy sauce based broth. So the end product is more of a soup noodles dish. A bowl of Chao Zhu Mian should have thick fragrant soup  (from the prawns, pork and wine) with plenty of wok hei from the frying process. The ingredients are very easy to find except for the Foochow red wine, but you can easily substitute it with Shao Xing wine.

Deluxe Foochow Braised Fried Noodles (福州炒煮面), homemade version.

Had a craving recently thanks to Rebecca who has just been in Sarawak, so off I went to work on the dish. There really isn’t much info online though so I’ve made this based on sensory memory.

Chao Zhu Mian for one

1 serving of Thin Hokkien Noodles (Yellow Noodles)
3 Large King Prawns, deveined
3 Fresh Fish balls, sliced in half
Few thin slices of Pork fillet
1 clove garlic
Big handful of Choy Sum, trimmed
2 stalks of Spring onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce (or more if you like it darker)
1 tablespoon Light Soy Sauce (or more to adjust saltiness)
1 generous pour/splash of Shao Xing Wing or Foochow red wine
White pepper to taste
1 heap teaspoon cornstarch

Wash the noodles thoroughly and set aside.

Heat oil in pan/wok over highest heat. Add garlic, follow by pork, prawns and fish balls. Give it a quick stir before adding in the noodles.

Add wine, light and dark soy sauce followed by choy sum. Working quickly to combine everything. Then add enough water (for one serving, for example: around 150ml) to cook for 3-4 minutes. Careful not to overcook or the noodles will turn soggy.

Mix cornstarch with a bit of water and add to the mixture. Once the broth has thickened up sufficiently, it’s time to turn off the heat and add a final touch of wine. Garnish with spring onion and serve.

All done under 10 minutes!

It’s important to leave the prawn heads on for the broth to get more of the flavour. If you hate peeling prawns (I usually do, but did this for nicer presentation), another option is to throw the heads and shells in the broth and pick them out before serving.

Such an easy dish to put together, and doesn’t not require much of your time. It’s almost like instant noodles but so much better for you. By the way, you could also add black vinegar for a Hokkien version of this dish.

Submitted this recipe to Recipe Box #8 by Bizzy Bakes.

Foochow Cuisine: Zao Cai Fen Gan (糟菜粉干)

As I’ve blogged about Bak Chor Mee which represents half of my heritage (Teochew), it’s only apt that I balance it up with the other half today: Something Foochow. Which is really a subcategory of the entire Fujian (Hokkien) cuisine. There really isn’t much information available on the interweb about Foochow food, but I’m sure some of you might be familiar with ‘Red Wine Mee Sua’ (also called Ang Zao or Hong Zao as phonic translation for 红糟), Ang Zao Chicken (红糟鸡), Kampua Mee, or even Chao Zhu Mian (炒煮面). Some of these dishes haven’t even been properly named in English. The dish I’d talk about specifically today is one example.

Zao Cai Fen Gan (糟菜粉干), as you might notice the word Zao (糟) made another appearance. It actually refers to remnants of the Red Glutinous Rice Wine that is often homemade in Foochow household. Zao Cai is basically Mustard greens preserved with those remnants red rice. That’s why it has a unique fragrance of the wine. It’s also fabulously sour, perfect for a piping bowl of soup noodles with Fen Gan, a thick type of Rice vermicelli. There are many ways of cooking this dish but the basic would be just with the preserved vegetable, and pork (or chicken). Nowadays, there are prawn and fish version too but I feel that simplicity is best when it comes to traditional dish like this.

The basic ingredients shouldn’t be too hard to find. Check your local supermarkets/Asian grocery stores.

Basic ingredients: Zao Cai (left) and Fen Gan

For a best tasting bowl of Zao Cai Fen Gan, the secret weapon is actually some good quality homemade rice wine. I had some brought over by my mum, made by my beloved Grandma. But failing that, a good Shao Xing wine would be a good substitute too.

Home Made Red Glutinous Rice Wine, all the way from Sarawak.

Putting together this dish isn’t difficult at all. In fact it takes nothing more than 15 minutes if you have all the ingredients ready.

Authentic bowl of Zao Cai Fen Gan

Ingredients:

Dry Fen Gan enough for 2
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 Pack of Zao Cai (Preserved Mustard Greens)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
600ml Chicken Stock (Homemade or store bought)
1/4 cup Rice Wine
1 tomato, cut into wedges
1 Chicken Breast, cut into bite size pieces and marinated in wine, salt and pepper
Green vegetables of your choice, I used Bok Choy
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 chili padi, chopped

Optional toppings: Fish balls, Fish Cake, Prawns, Fish fillet even.

In a small pot, fry garlic and Zao Cai in a little bit of sesame oil. Add tomato wedges and chicken pieces at this point to stir fry for a further 3o seconds and then pour in the stock and wine.

Meanwhile, soak the Fen Gan in hot water for 4-5 minutes until slightly soften. Drain and set aside.

When the soup has been boiling for more than 10 minutes, season with soy sauce. Add the drained noodles and cook for further 2-3 minutes until noodles are just al dente. Add green vegetables (they only really need a minute of blanching as they continue to cook in the soup when served) and cut chili.  Taste the soup and add salt if needed. And then you are ready to serve!

By the way this is super effective as a hangover cure too. I hope this little write up has given you a little insight into Foochow cuisine. Do you know of any other Foochow dishes? Do share!

The Street Party for Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at Sid’s Pub was a blast! Shall blog about it as soon as I get my hands on some more photos! Here’s one sneak preview:

Flag sisters

The Klutz Queen and Bak Chor Mee

This week has been a little bit of a down time for me. Granted, few days of rest following a hectic weekend (2 long gigs over the weekend) is quite therapeutic, if it wasn’t for a fall on Wednesday night which landed me a busted right knee. Kelly and slippery floor don’t bond very well you know. I should really be crowned the Queen of Klutz. Luckily, the said knee was prompted iced, compressed and elevated. Today, the bruise still looks quite impressive but the swelling is gone.

A wee bruise is not going to stop me from going to the kitchen, however. Ironically it was the last night trip to kitchen when the fall happened.

I’ve considered putting the photo of my bruise up, but I think that might put you off your food. 

I suppose it’s perfect timing to ring in some comfort food today. Mum has recently brought me some dry Mee Pok from Sarawak. Mee Pok is Teochew in origin, and I’ve always preferred the flat noodles to the round ones. I know this is confusing but Mee Pok is used commonly in Sarawak for Kampua Mee. Whereas in Singapore, you often see this as Bak Chor Mee. Al dente noodles tossed in vinegary black sauce with minced pork, wantons, fish balls and sometimes pork liver. I crave for this often. And now I can make the same dish!

Sometimes I wonder why I bother to go through all that trouble to make something I could easily get from a hawker stall or a kopitiam, often for cheaper prices too. But then, I think of bracing myself in the heat and the possibilities of getting nasty surprises (unhygienic food is one thing), namely the amount of MSG they put in the food, and all is good again. Truly, what more satisfying than being able to reproduce the dishes at home with just a bit of effort? Not having to worry about what people would think if I just venture out in a boyfriend’s Tee (*cough* and nothing else) is a bonus too.

For illustration purpose, this is an example of Bak Chor Mee I’ve had in Singapore

This is from a rather well-known Pork Noodles stall near Lavender LRT station, you can see how the bowl is loaded with toppings and even feel how ‘Q’ the noodles are by looking. The noodles come with the sauce unmixed and patrons would twirl everything around and devour the dish with contentment. And this costs SGD5, only.

Compared to that, my version has less toppings but I suppose slightly healthier.

Kelly’s Bak Chor Mee – with mince meat, pork liver and bok choy

There are quite a few steps involved in this, but if you are good at time management, it will somehow come together rather efficiently. So here’s what I did.

Ingredients (for one)

Dry Mee Pok, amount depending on how big you want your portion to be
Mince Pork, marinated with soy sauce and pepper
Pork Liver, sliced thinly, marinated with Shao Xing Wine, Salt and Pepper
A hand full of Bok Choy, cleaned and chopped
1 shallot, rough chopped
Vegetable Oil for deep frying shallot
1 teaspoon or more Pork Lard (It’s essential for a good Bak Chor Mee)
1 tablespoon Chinese Rice Vinegar or to taste
1 tablespoon Light Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Sweet Soy Sauce
White Pepper

(Optional: Fresh Chili and Chopped Spring Onions)

First, make the fried shallot. Just brown the shallots in sufficient amount of vegetable oil and set aside. We’ll need both the shallot and the now very fragrant oil.

Using some of the leftover oil in the pan, fry the marinated mince pork until just cooked, removed and set aside. Then follow by the Pork Liver which only needs a few seconds each side. Remove as soon as the slices turned grey. (You could also just blanch it but I had the pot blanching the Bok Choy as well as noodles)

In a bowl, dump in about a tablespoonful of shallot with the oil, follow by pork lard, soy sauces, vinegar and white pepper.

Blanch the bok choy for a minute until soft, and shock it with cold water to retain the colour. Then, cook the noodles until al dente (around 4-5 minutes, test it before draining). And now this is up to you: some people blanch it the second time after rinsing with cold water. I just did a quick rinse and serve as I dive in immediately after serving. If you don’t rinse it the noodles tends to be a little sticky.

Once the noodles are done, add to the bowl and stir around a little to mix with the seasonings, then finish with the toppings.

It goes without saying that the measurements of the seasonings are just a rough guide as it depends on your own taste and the amount of noodles. If you don’t have/can’t find Mee Pok, you could always use other types of noodles too.

Ok, now I go back to bed to rest the poor knee. Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Street Party at Sid’s Pub Damansara Heights tomorrow. Must be better by then. Have a great weekend everyone!