My dad bought home another loaf of roti peranchis aka “jiam tao lor dee” thinking that there would still be leftovers of the delicious kari ayam cooked from Madam Goh Kim Gek’s wonderful recipe. Well, there was probably like 2-3 pieces of potato, a few morsels of chicken and barely half a bowl of kuah left. Yes most of it has been savoured and devoured over the first loaf, not to mention the bee hoon puteh goreng which he cooked himself for dinner the night before to enjoy together with the curry chicken. If only I’d cooked a bigger pot. I promised him I’ll do so next time as he enjoyed the kari ayam tremendously. What to do with the leftover roti peranchis then? Good to make some Roti John with it!
Straits cooking, be it Malay, Indonesian or Peranakan is characterised by the elaborated and generous use of chillies, spices and herbs. Given the variety that grows within the region, a slight difference in combination of these ingredients permutates to produce a plethora of different culinary delights which Straits cooking is so well-known for. Baba-Nyonya cuisine, heavily influenced by the other cuisines in the region, pushes this further through the incorporation of fruits into dishes. The additional dimensions rendered through these fruits often bring dishes from Peranakan cuisine to the next level, be it in visual appeal, aroma, texture and/or flavour.
Mango, pineapple, jackfruit and bananas are the “regulars”, being used in many signature dishes which many of us are familiar with. Once a while, we encounter lesser known local fruit varieties like bilimbi buluh (Averrhoa bilimbi), buah cermai (Phyllanthus acidus), buah kedondong (Spondias dulcis) and buah sukun (Artocarpus altilis), buah binjai (Mangifera caesia). These would be a real treat to those who appreciate the interesting flavours which many of these fruits have.
“Kuih Bingka Ubi Kayu“, or better known as “Bingka Ubi” is another much-loved “kueh” of Malay-Peranakan origin which my family enjoys very much. It is sometimes spelt as “Binka Ubi” or “Bengka Ubi” depending on how it is being pronounced in the variety of colloquial tongues in this region. Coconut and cassava/tapioca go really well together, with the natural earthy sweetness from the starchy root complimenting the richness of the santan (coconut milk). And of course coconut milk and salt is an age-old combination. i.e. when there is santan, there must be salt. And the salt is perfect to bear contrast and accentuate the sweetness of the dessert snack without making it too cloying. Unlike some other kuehs, the recipe for Bengka Ubi is rather straightforward. And given how easily grated cassava is now available in local wet markets, it is literally a breeze to make it nowadays.
For me, this kuih is both intriguing and perplexing at the same time, and first is of course the name. In fact, it goes by more than one name…Kueh Sarlat , also spelt as Kueh Salat is the name favoured by the Peranakans, It is however better known to the larger Malay community as Kuih Seri Muka or simply Seri Muka to mean “pretty face”. And the folks in Melaka would find this more familiar as Gading Galoh while other variations include Puteri Sarlat and Kueh Serikaya. Now what else is there about it that is intriguing and perplexing?
實兆遠 Sitiawan is a small town in Perak which is most prominently identified for its Foochow heritage. The Foochow people arrived here from Fujian, China in the early days as workers at the tin mines in Ipoh and Taiping. Better known as “Little Foochow”, it has since become a stronghold in Peninsula Malaysia for the perpetuation of the regional culture which originated from the district in southeastern China, especially the unique culinary legacy of Foochow cuisine.
Lots of rendang cooking this week from my fellow foodie friends! Well, rendang has always been a staple for Hari Raya celebrations. A lovely dish that can be well prepared in advance, a gigantic pot of spicy stewed beef that seemingly impossible to finish. But the truth is, the taste develops and matures over the next 2-3 days or so while the beef continues to soften from the periodic reheating making it even more delicious! Traditionally enjoyed with ketupat or nasi impit, it can get a bit monotonous from eating the same thing over and over again. Why not surprise yourself and enthrall your friends and family who are visiting with a twist to this quintessential raya dish and serve it over pasta? That should earn you some “wows” for sure!
Comfort food is often what one truely yearns for when one gets home after a long day, It could be after laborious ploughing through streams of data and figures, in an almost hypnotic trance-like fashion in front of the computer hours at ends, and dinners made frugal. Or it can be after endless evenings of socialising, over martinis and cocktails amidst cosmetic conversations and superficial banter, and real food made little. When one finally gets home, and all that pomp and makeup shed off like a second skin, one can finally be oneself. That is when the cravings set in. It can be as simple as a classic Croque Monsieur with freshly toasted bread over old cheese and good ham, or a bowl of cereal with creamy full fat milk and crunchy homemade granola. Satisfying the insatiable, as one becomes overwhelmed by routine and the mundane, comfort food despite its simplicity, transcends and becomes a luxury.
For me, nothing can be more comforting than a bowl of freshly cooked noodles. Those who know my blog well would know that I feature noodle recipes to a great extent and often to great detail as well. From 炸酱面 to Mentaiko Pasta, from Spaghetti alla Bolognese quite long ago to Spaghetti alla Laksa Pesto most recently… in short, I’m a sucker for noodles in all forms, and quite literally so. For me, the sheer act of slurping strands of noodles, be it ramen, pasta, beehoon or kway teow is profoundly therapeutic. Slurping unleashes an avalanche of flavours into the mouth, setting forth a plenitude of palate profiles and aromas that stimulate one’s senses all at once. Slurping is considered part of good table etiquette in the Asian context, and most rightfully so. Surely it is one of the most resounding ways, and the least one can do as a display of appreciation for a good noodle experience.
Penang is literally a food paradise! And for many, one of the main highlights of Penang cuisine is its street food. A walk down some of the roads and alleys in Penang and one would be easily led by the nose quite literally, to a hawker stall or two showcasing some of the finest which Penang has to offer. Many of these hawker stalls are not permanent fixtures within a certain kopitiam or kedai, but merely makeshift carts driven around by motorcycles they are attached to, as their “chefs on wheels” peddle their signature dishes from place to place. Seemingly nomadic but in fact, true Penang foodies are in the know of the precise whereabouts of some of these famous stalls, i.e. at a particular junction between a certain “Lorong” and a certain “Jalan” in the daytime, or at which corner of a particular “pasar malam” by night. It could be rojak, laksa, or hokkien mee, but one thing remains a common trait amongst these street food stalls. They rely not on media publicity to draw attention and create awareness on their existence, but solely by word of mouth, through folks who share their gastronomic experiences at these stalls to their relatives, who in turn told their friends, who in turn told their neighbours. Many of them have only one item on their menu, bearing sharp contrast to what hotel buffets and established restaurant joints boast about. But for that one thing they do, they do it best.
For any book lover and bibliophile, this event is all too tempting! Touted as “The Biggest Book Sale in the World”, Big Bad Wolf Book Sale 2012 promised to be more exciting than the previous ones! Deals at “75-95% off RRP” also set many eyes gleaming and hearts palpitating with adrenaline and anticipation! I gruelled over the fact that it was set in Kuala Lumpur and not here at home. Thoughts and second thoughts… finally could not hold it any longer and decided to book (pun intended!!!) a coach ticket to KL to see the deals for myself. But of course, its not without all the “come lah! come lah! cheap cheap!” encouragement from all my beloved friends from across the Causeway. Bless ’em!
The strategy is simple, i.e. take the earliest coach there and come back with the latest. A “turnaround” they call it, just that me ain’t flyin’. No overnight stays as that would “dilute the worthiness’ of the books. I was lucky to have Shenny, a new friend introduced by Wendy coming to the rescue. She kindly offered to fetch me from the bus station to the book sale and back. A really bubbly and cheery lady! Malaysians boleh! LOL
A long overdue attempt, barely making it in time as Malaysia Food Fest Kedah & Perlis Month is just days to closure. Been a “busy” month planning for our pigout sessions during our trip to Taipei (yes! expect more reviews on Taipei patisseries to come!), and then the actual week-long trip itself, followed by a post-holiday withdrawal period. Anyway, enough of my ranting! Sometime back during our regular chats, I asked my dear friend, Wendy from Table for 2 or more, the organiser of this monthly online event on what she felt is a dish which is least likely to be attempted this month. Laksa Belut Perlis is an almost immediate reply, probably because of the lack of accessibility to freshwater eels for many. Lucky for us here in Singapore, they are available in some of our local wet markets. So I took it upon myself to attempt this recipe, which essentially uses “laksa utara” as a base , with the special touch of using belut, freshwater eel as part of its ingredient list.
Through researching for recipes to try out for Malaysian Food Fest Terengganu Month, I came across quite a number of dishes which I didn’t even know existed. I guess that’s one of the highlights of this monthly event, i.e. to push us to extend our culinary repertoire and explore previously unfamiliar and even unheard of terrain. Kuih Akok is a name that appeared frequently through the numerous google searches for authentic Terengganuan kuihs. But that is also the source of confusion.
Kuih Akok is a very popular snack along the eastern coast of the Malay peninsula. From Cherating in Pahang across Terengganu to Kelantan up north, Kuih Akok is well-liked and enjoyed by the locals, hence explaining their presence in both pasar pagis all the way to pasar malams. An all-day snack literally. Despite the common name, the texture for Kuih akok defers in Kelantan and Terengganu, due to the differing ratios of wet and dry ingredients used. Truth be told, I’d never tried Kuih Akok. But when Wendy of WendyinkKK reiterated her gastrorgasmic experience of plunging her teeth into one when she was in Kelantan, I knew I must make it to “relive” her experience. Alas the texture of Kuih Akok in Terengganus is supposedly firmer and less custardy, lesser desirable than the one in Kelantan which is more fluid and as Wendy puts it, almost like eating firm “kaya” ! Very very syok (shiok)! Then as we were researching more on this Terengganuan snack, she came across Kuih Menganang, a variant of Kuih Akok, which used mung bean powder “tepung kacang hijau”. Interesting! Since she was busy preparing for the Nutriplus Pastry Competition, the responsibility of testing out the recipe lies on my shoulder!
October brings us to the 3rd month of the Malaysian Food Fest and this month, we visit Terengganu! I’d never been the the eastern coast of Peninsula Malaysia, i.e. Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan but I do know that the eastern coastal line is famous for its white sandy beaches with swaying coconut trees against the clear blue skies and idyllic sea. Pulau Redang and Pulau Perhentian are famous snorkelling and scuba-diving spots comparable to Manado and the aussie reefs! Where there’s sea, there’ll be lots of seafood and Terengganu cuisine is characterised by the liberal use of it! Laksam Terengganu is a recipe which had me very curious for quite some time already when I started reading up on the signature dishes of the various Malaysian states for MFF. It is intriguing in many respects, firstly the use of a homemade rice-based noodle which reminded me much of the cantonese chee cheong fun and a gravy thickened with fish meat! I knew instinctively that this has to be on my no. 1 to-try list for Terengganu. So here I go!