Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!


On the Trail of the Phoenix – Itek Sioh

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Yes my writing and blogging mojo is back and hopefully it would last a tad longer this time round. It is afterall nearing the end of the year and the festive mood is kicking in, with Christmas in just a couple of weeks’ time and Deepavali tomorrow! My Hindu neighbours are already cooking up a storm in their kitchen and I can smell the aromas of mustard seeds and other spices blistering in the oil as they are used to cook an assortment of yummy dishes! I’m busy in my own kitchen too, after getting a new hob gifted by Turbo-Italia. Lovin’ it totally! So spacious and the heat is so strong to the point of roaring! I can almost smell the wok hei as I was stir frying, or so I thought! Yet another homecooked meal yesterday to satisfy my cravings, and this time round, I am cooking Itek Sioh, a really old Peranakan dish. I checked my old photos and realised that the last time I’d cooked it was more than 2 years back. A timely revisit indeed!
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红糟鸡面线 Ang Jiu Chicken Mee Sua

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Yet another meal that is a result of a fridge clearing exercise, this time round, a bottle of anka paste which had been lying in the abyss of fridge since last year. I got this from my last Taiwan trip and havent gotten round to use it yet. Thank goodness it hasn’t expired yet! Ang Jiu Chicken Mee Sua for dinner, it shall be!
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The ingredients for cooking this Foochow aka Hock Chiew dish is really simple. I’m using a recipe that I’d cooked it several times after 2013 and still love the taste a lot. Only thing is this time round, I no longer have the homemade red yeast wine and lees like I’d used to, I’m using the regular mee sua which is thinner compared to the ones from Setiawan and I’d added Chinese mushrooms during the brief stewing as well!
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And this is what the bottle of anka from Taiwan looks like. It has 香椿 added as well which means that it would likely to be more salty than what one would have expected. Have to go easy on the salt and other flavourings…
And this is what the contents look like, all mashed up to release the flavours but it is not as heady with alcohol or just as aromatic. Nothing beats homemade! Gotta go pester for another batch for this and next year!
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红糟鸡面线 Ang Jiu Chicken Mee Sua Recipe (serves 3-4) adapted from here

600g fresh chicken drumstick and thigh, chopped into chunks
thumbknob old ginger, julienned
5-6 dried Chinese mushroom, reconstituted with warm water
4-5 tbsp anka paste
1 cup ang jiu, can be replaced with huadiao wine or shaoxing wine
Salt to taste
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
coriander leaves and fried shallots garnishing
3-4 hardboiled eggs, peeled
1 1/2 cups water (including mushroom soaking liquids)

In a heated wok, add sesame oil and sautee the ginger strips until nice, dried and aromatic.
Add chopped chicken chunks and pan fry them to render some fat into the oils. Fry until the skin begins to turn slightly brown.
Add anka sauce and soaked Chinese mushrooms.
Stir fry slightly to coat the chicken chunks uniformly with the reddish sauce.
Add mushroom soaking liquids and top up with more water if necessary. The chicken chunks should be at least 3/4 covered with liquids. Add hardboiled eggs at this moment as well. Simmer for 5-8 min, stirring periodically.
Remove lid but continue heating to reduce the liquids considerably, about 15-20 min under medium high heat.
Pour in the wine and give everything a good toss.
Ladle chicken and sauce over a bowl of cooked mee sua.
Top with coriander leaves and fried shallot bits.
Enjoy !!!

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Putu Mayam Idiyappam – Indian String Hoppers

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This is an impromptu post for an impromptu breakfast, only because my friend, Adeline Ang posted a vintage mould for making Indian string hoppers yesterday which she gotten recently at the local Thieves’ market that prompted me to go dig out mine and make some “putu mayam” for my first meal for the day! This is one of my regular childhood breakfast treats so being able to make it from scratch at home literally brought me back to the past!
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猴硐貓村 Houtong Cat Village @ Taipei

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Houtong is a small town nested near the northeastern coast of Taiwan. Named so for the populous colonies of macques that once made this place home, along the cliffs. Numbers have since dwindled but you can still see them around. But folks ain’t here for the monkeys. The main attraction here now are the cats! And I can’t believe that this is our first time here despite having been to Taiwan more than a dozen times!
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On the Trail of the Phoenix – Laok Ari Ari Everyday Peranakan dishes

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When one thinks about Peranakan cuisine, what comes to mind immediately are probably the elaborate dishes one would see being showcased in a Tok Panjang feast. Ayam Masak Keluak , Kuah Hee Pio, Itek Sioh, Ikan Gerang Asam etc… laok ari besair as they are called in Baba Patois, to mean dishes specially cooked for special occasions like weddings and birthday celebrations. But we often forget that there are many dishes which Peranakan households enjoy on a daily basis, simpler dishes requiring less time to whip up which are by no means less delicious. So here are some of these everyday dishes, laok ari ari which you can also whip up for your everyday meals.

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高丽菜饭 Kor Leh Chye Png – Chinese Cabbage Rice

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Yet another quick post! I just came back from a hearty discussion with two friends at Starbucks over homemade kueh sarlat and their matcha frappucino on heritage cuisine and some exciting projects that will be happening soon on this blog. All that talk of food made me very very hungry naturally. Just wanna eat some comfort food, something which would bring me back to the days of my childhood, something easy and fast yet full of flavour. There is only one dish I can think of, my mum’s  高丽菜饭 Kor Leh Chye Png Chinese Cabbage Rice.

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Teochew Shark Meat Porridge 潮州鲨鱼糜

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Teochew cuisine is characterised by a wide range of seafood dishes. Blessed with the long coastal line in the Chaoshan region in southeastern China, the Teochew people are accustomed to having seafood as part of their everyday lives. From cold crab (潮州冻蟹) to braised cuttlefish (卤墨鱼), their famous shark’s meat jelly (鲨鱼冻), and of course fishballs (潮州鱼丸) the Teochews are well known for their seafood fare, and their innovative use of the precious produce from the oceans. When folks think of Teochew porridge 潮州糜, the first thing that comes to mind is individually grained porridge often cooked with sweet potatoes, enjoyed over a wide range of condiments and dishes, sometimes as simple as preserved olive leaves (橄榄菜), pickled lettuce stems (菜心罐) or salted duck eggs (咸鸭蛋), to pickled radish omelette (菜脯蛋) or even steamed threadfin (蒸午鱼) or braised duck (卤鸭). Otherwise, it would be something as wholesome as a one pot meal like Chinese Pomfret Porridge (斗鲳糜). Yet for most of the Teochews in the past who lived and breathed frugally by the sea, the expensive Chinese Pomfret or threadfin (午鱼) may not be an everyday indulgence. As such, other varieties of Teochew porridge evolved and most notably, shark’s meat porridge 潮州鲨鱼糜.
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