Saturday, 30 August 2014

Mooncake Mania


I love mooncakes... wait... let me rephrase that... I loved mooncakes. Now I just... like them.
No, nothing to do with the taste.

New fantasy flavors furiously flood fairs (hah! try saying that real fast 10x!) at malls during this short cheery season. It’s Super, It’s Duper, It’s Fun-tastic! Yeah!... but it’s small... and getting smaller... a bit like what’s happened to prata.

2 prata telur* used to be enough for lunch – now it just gets me by breakfast and I am really,
REALLY hungry by lunch time, God help me! Prata prices are still within reach though, but Mooncakes? tsk, tsk...

The shrinking size is not my only observation... oh ok, complaint! My biggest gripe about mooncakes?

4 yolks = teeny bit of paste! (which is a really kaypoh** statement cos I don’t eat the yolk ones)

Some even sport ‘unique’ shapes, which is another way to say ‘Hey, we’re giving you even less paste! Suckers!! Wahahahaha!’ Geez... the number of gullible people who buy mooncakes! UnBelievable!!!

I’m telling you this as I’m eating, er... ’testing’ some right now... but rest assured that come next year, I will continue my ‘observations’ on this mania... Just for you!


p/s: Whadda mean I didn’t describe mooncakes? c’mon, you can easily Google for it; i’m not Wiki.




* telur – egg
** kaypoh - busybody





Thursday, 21 August 2014

A Magical Dish

Magic is just SUPER to have in the kitchen, don’t ya think?... or if not, on tv. I love the ‘Bewitched’ series! Did you watch that?

Samantha zapping everything in sight and all done in a Flash - YES!!!... then as usual, Darren would freak out... Sheesh! What does he know?

I mean, just look at the size of the house. Hours of cleaning and poor Sam would be too tired to cook. We need shortcuts...We need speed...We need Magic!

Magic that’s frozen & canned from that mystical world we call the Supermarket! Like Ma Ling Pork Luncheon Meat... drool...

I always expect a genie to pop out when I open the can.

He’d say, “ What fragrant dish can I poof! up for you today, dear Mistress?”

I’d toss my bad-hair-day head back with a laugh and say,”Genie, thank you, but I got this one covered and it’s a Wrap!”


Luncheon Meat Chapati Wraps



Ingredients - you can pop in anything else you like

Frozen Wraps (I use FP chapatis – pack of 30)
Luncheon Meat, canned
Lettuce
Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Onions
Mayo (I lurve Hellman’s)
Chopped dill pickles
Chilli sauce (don’t argue, just get Lingham’s)



Method

Cut the luncheon meat into strips and oven-toast till sizzling.

You can also deep fry them. Just remember to drain properly.

Cut, slice, julienne the veggies as you wish.

Heat up the wraps according to packet instructions.

It’s a DIY Wrap Party, so just help yourself and Create Magic!









Monday, 18 August 2014

Oh Just Read It..!

Remember when you were learning to cycle and Suddenly there’s this stone right smack (betcha not heard this phrase in awhile), in the path of your front tyre?... and... and those handlebars automatically start to wobble and you desperately wish that #*&!@ piece of destruction would disappear... and it does!

just like that... wow... Mum, Dad, the owner of the stone or some kind soul passer-by rushed ahead and Yes! Disaster Averted! What a near miss...

If you tell me that everything always goes perfectly as planned in your kitchen, then you are a Liar! Liar! Crepes on Fire!... or you can come cook for me please please please (you get Tuesdays off).

Everything has the Murphy potential. You know... like when the wok simply refuses to listen to your stir frying, or the oven suddenly ‘browns in a blink’ <-- that’s cute and cheerful to say to little children, doncha think?

Hey, try it on your own kid now! Say it fast – ‘browns in a blink! browns in a blink!’ ok now with animation! Hahahahaha... see the happy kicking giggles? Oh, we’re having such fun today!!!

huh? what? Oh... oh... the oven! ahem...

So say what you like, but I believe we all need this precious thing called ‘instructions’. Written by culinary experts or those handed down instructions from my grand chor kong* and yours, do NOT scoff at methods, advice and warnings!

They can remove all those stones in front of your cooking, understand? So basically this is my roundabout merry-go-round giddy way to just tell you this:

READ ALL RECIPES FROM BEGINNING TO END BEFORE YOU START TO COOK IT!

ok that’s all.

welcome.

bye.


*chor kong – great grandfather


Friday, 15 August 2014

Something Sweet, Something Sour - that’s Dinner... and Life!

I was a very talkative child (which you’ve probably guessed by now) in my china doll haircut, and given the chance I would be so full of cute little questions!

A typical conversation goes like this:

Scene: Coffeeshop zhi char* stall

Uncle: (smiling broadly)... and our best dish is the FISH! Very Good – Must Try!

My mom: ok. One.

me: Why?

Uncle: Because it’s VERY good!

me: Why is it good?

Uncle: (still smiling, but less)... you see so many customers eating the fish, so must be good, right?

me: (pointing accusingly) Why are they not smiling?

Uncle: You don’t like fish?

me: (louder) Why... not... SMILING!??

My mom: sssshhh! Quiet... they will smile later!

me: (protesting)... but... but lousy fish, ma... don’t buy the fish, Don’t buy the FISHHHH!!!

We kinda did ta pau** from this stall forever after that...

So this brings us to my featured dish for today – Sweet & Sour Garoupa! (Yay! she finally got to it!).

See the raw ingredients – fish looks like it’s chuckling, doesn’t it?

See the finished dish - fish looks like a... piggy? dang! camera angle...

Yup! this is one dish that is sure to make you Smile!


  *zhi char – cooked to order restaurant style dishes
**ta pau – takeaway, takeout


Sweet & Sour Fish (Garoupa)



Fish

1 Garoupa, medium
1 egg yolk
1 to 2 tbsp cornstarch
Salt
Cornstarch, to coat fish before frying

Vegetables

2 potatoes, medium, peeled
½ cucumber, remove soft centre
1 tomato
1 green pepper
4 big shallots, peeled
Red chillies, sliced
Cilantro, for garnish

Sauce

I don't really measure the sauce ingredients. Just taste & adjust to your liking (as I do).
Make this in advance to save time.

400 ml of water
Tomato ketchup
Sugar
Rice vinegar
Sesame oil
Salt, if needed


Method - I have arranged the sequence of steps so that the potatoes are fried last.

Make a paste with the egg yolk and cornstarch.

Gut, rinse & butterfly the fish.

Salt the fish, then coat inside and out, with the yolk paste.

Marinate for 30 mins. in the fridge.

While the fish is marinating:
•    cut up the veggies into bite-sized pieces.
•    make the sauce - mix everything in a saucepan. Bring to a boil on low heat. Set aside.

Heat up 2 tbsp of oil in a wok.

Stir fry* all the vegetables (except the tomatoes) for about 3 mins

Add the tomatoes & gently stir fry 1 minute. Set aside.

Add & Heat up enough oil for shallow frying.

Coat the fish in cornstarch. Shallow fry till cooked & crispy (turn over carefully).

Place the fish in the middle of a large serving plate.

Deep-fry the potatoes (add & Heat up more oil before frying, if necessary)

While the potatoes are frying, warm & thicken the sauce with cornstarch.

Drain the fried potatoes**.

Arrange the fried vegetables & potatoes around the fish.

Pour the hot sauce onto the veg & potatoes.

Drizzle some sauce over the fish.

Garnish with sprigs of cilantro. Serve Immediately.

Great with white rice!

  *till cucumbers are just a little soft on the outside, but still crunchy.

**you can serve the fried potatoes separately to make it a complete meal (increase the amount of potatoes accordingly).


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

I Got Curried Away!

Have you ever cooked a curry?

No, I don’t mean via a ‘Just-Rip-it-open-Ready-to-Eat’ curry pack from online – We’re talking ‘squeeze-that-grated-coconut’ from scratch version, Mister!

First thing you gotta know is that there are a million Zillion recipes all called ‘Curry’ (and yes, most come with a million zillion ingredients, or so it seemed to newbie me - I dang nearly gave up on the mise en place <-- look! my first fancy words!).

Then came the tidal wave of instructions... zzzzz... I kinda fell asleep... ok, hang on, I’m not finished with the ingredients yet.

Where was I? Oh yeah... so I trooped down to the market to get my first ever pack of the all important item – ‘curry powder’... only to be greeted by (you guessed it!) a million Zillion commercial & homemade ‘this-one-i-guarantee-is-the-best-chin-ho-chiak* choices!

I called my mom. Her instructions were Yelled Loudly to me over the phone (yes, ‘Yelled’ – not becuz she’s pissed that I don’t visit often, I mean, c’mon, how else do you talk in a noisy wet market?). First attempt turned out ok. Much improved now.

ah... before I forget, Important Note:

Best to remove all laundry & pets (like birds) from your kitchen... unless you don’t mind a pungent curry smell in your shorts, towels, socks, etc... for a coupla washes... at least.
I’m not even going to explain the effect on birds.

So here’s the recipe adapted from my sweet mom (her name’s Molly – you can call her Molly; she told me I can’t).

I’ve tweaked it here & there, more or less, whatever... but it’s Good! Don’t be daunted by my daunting instructions, just GO For IT! Let Yourself get CURRIED AWAY!!!

 *'chin ho chiak' means 'very good to eat'


Chicken Curry - Peranakan Style
 serves 3 to 4

Amounts are estimated as best as I can. Pls read ‘Notes’ below.
The Spice Paste is important as it is the unique taste of this curry.

Spice Paste - Blend finely together (I use a hand blender)

5 shallots, peeled 
5 garlic, peeled                                          
1½ cm ginger, cut into strips                                                   
2 tsp dried shrimp paste
10 to 12 dried chillies*, rinsed & cut into short pieces (use kitchen scissors)

Other Ingredients

130 to 150 g Baba’s meat curry powder (add water to form a thick drippy paste)
½ old coconut freshly grated (keep in the fridge till needed)
1 small chicken, cut up
3 medium waxy potatoes, cut into 4
3 or 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
½ cm ginger (cut into thick strips)
4 cm long cinnamon stick, rinsed
8 cloves, rinsed
8 to 10 tbsp oil
Coarse salt, to taste
500 ml plain water
Optional: blended bird’s eye chilli (not for young children)

Make the coconut milk


Using a cloth bag, squeeze the grated coconut for thick milk. Cover & keep in the front of the fridge immediately. Do not throw the squeezed pulp yet.

Dilute it with 400 ml water, and squeeze for thin milk. Set aside in a cool place.

(If you like your gravy thin, dilute the grated coconut with 500ml water and squeeze just once)

Method



Heat the oil in a wok on a medium fire. Stir fry the ginger strips.

When golden brown, add the spice paste. Stir fry 4 to 5 mins.

Add a small ladlespoon of thin coconut milk. It should sizzle. Stir fry 1 min.

Add the curry paste. Stir fry about 3 mins.

Add another ladlespoon of thin coconut milk. Stir fry 1 min. Repeat.

Add the chicken, cinnamon stick and cloves.

Stir and mix thoroughly for about 3 mins.

Add the rest of the thin coconut milk, water, coarse salt (2 tsp).

(Add 1 tsp bird’s eye chilli, if using, for a hotter curry)

Bring to a boil. Taste & adjust water, salt (and chilli).

Remove the chicken when cooked. Set aside.

Lower the heat. Add the potatoes.

Cover and gently boil till potatoes are cooked (10 to 15 mins)

(Before potatoes are cooked, bring out the thick coconut milk)

Uncover the wok and return the chicken to the curry.

Lower the heat till there are no bubbles.

Gently pour & stir in the thick coconut milk, accd. to the thickness you wish.

Slowly bring to a boil, then reduce the heat.

Taste and adjust.

Add the hard-boiled eggs.

Serve with white rice, baguette, chapatis, over yellow noodles, udon, pasta

Any leftovers must be kept in the fridge - avoid water dropping into the curry by lining the inside of the pot cover with paper towels.

Notes:

*Remove half of the dried chilli seeds for less heat. Use gloves (if needed) & kitchen scissors to cut them lengthwise when dry & remove the seeds.



~ You can cook this curry a few days in advance (reheat gently on a low fire). Cool completely & keep in the fridge - avoid water dropping into the curry by lining the inside of the pot cover with paper towels. Boil eggs on the day itself and add them to the heated curry.

~ As this is a strong fragrant dish, I advise that you do not have anything that may be affected by the aroma in the kitchen (e.g. clothes, pet birds).

~ I hope you will enjoy this curry as much as I did when I was growing up (& still do) loving my mother’s cooking! ~

                                                                                                                                    

Monday, 11 August 2014

The First Laugh

So here I am (with you) at my first post... and what to tell? Actually it's more like what Not to tell! Here's a list:

I don't want to tell you:

a) anything about my personal life... unless it's funny... oh wait... that means I'll tell a LOT!

b) if I win TOTO*... but you'll find out cos I'll be AWOL for-Evah from this blog!

c) my mobile number, but if you'll pay my hefty phone bills, then we can talk...

d) long, long rambling story before I get to my point (or recipe) becuz by then the food's cold.


So Hello, Welcome, Shake hands and sit down... Dinner & Laughter will be served soon!


p/s: It won't always be food topics. Sometimes I'll sneak in my diecast hobby or just chit-chat and laugh about this and that :)


*TOTO - lottery in Singapore