Tham Jiak means in some way "love to eat" in Hokkien. I am a Malaysian Hokkien and truly love to eat.

Monday, February 27, 2006

From USA with Love

Finally I am posting up about my package of BBM4. It was really really sweet and lovely, from Rorie, at Milk & Honey. It was flown here all the way from USA.

The whole idea of the package was full with love, also in conjunction with the Valentine. The only thing is I collected the package late, I am so sorry Rorie. The package apparently came much earlier, but I was not in. Then they left a card, asking me to go and collect it at a post office I am not familiar with. The lateness is due to my house people, and my bad habit to only check the mail once in a blue moon for bills. So when I saw the card, it was about a week late, then I got hung up with work and finally got it last week.

On to the package, no more excuses on my side. The package came packed with fabulous stuff. Look at it!

I mean look at it! Looks good isn't it? From the front left, it is a packet of Mexican Spiced Chocolate, and it is just right! I always wondered how Mexican chocolate would taste like, and this is even spiced. No I haven’t try it yet, still admiring it. the white packet beside it is another chocloatey drink, which is Green Chile Cinnamon Hot Chocolate Mix. Sounds really interesting! Then next is a packet of Montmorency Cherries. This one, shamefuly, I have snacked finish it. wanted to make oatmeal cookies with it, as Rorie had suggested, but this tart cherries is simply irresistible. One pop and I am hooked. Then it is a packet unsalted dry toasted Slivered Almonds. Yummy! Just my favourite kind of nuts.

Up the top is the Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate baking chips! I can imagine all the lovely thing I can bake from this. Just can’t wait to have the time again to make my favourite desserts. Then there is also Scharffen Berger Mocha bar (dark chocolate with freshly roasted coffee)! I loved dark chocolate, who doesn’t? Next came two bottle of spices, one vanilla beans (finally I got it!) and another is cinnamon sticks.

Other lovely non-food goodies is, you can see a vintage heart cookie cutter (somehow I suspect Rorie knows me inside out, I have all the while been searching for a heart shape cutter, to make lovely goodies for J), then a sweet looking silicon pot holder, a valentine’s photo frame (with magnet, now my refrigerator), vintage dish towel, you can see all the one below all the goodies and a well compiled love songs. Oh, and with a personalized card too!

Thanks Rorie for all the goodies! I can’t wait to try all of the yummy stuff out and do some baking and cooking with it.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Malaysian National Dish?

L came again and saved this blog of mine from mediocrity. I always longed to cook, experiment and blog again but I guess time is not on my side. Besides, food for the week had practically been ‘ta-pau’ed (packed) from my cousin’s housewarming since Sunday. (Yes, we packed a huge amount of leftovers). Then there was some little cooking here and there. I made cheese steak and oyster tomato soup for Valentine, but was too tired and did not have the time to take picture. The steak was good; I planned to do it again one day and then blog about it.

Well, as for now, enjoy another round of L’s eating adventure about a very popular dish,
char kuey teow (stir-fried flat noodles), which is known to be the best in Penang, hers is a lightly revamped version being a wet one. Sounds kinky eh?
Sany Café

The debate raged on which food we should proudly proclaim as the Malaysian national food. The nominees had been roti canai, nasi lemak and char kuey teow. All three nominees are distinctively Malaysian, each one originated from the three main races in Malaysia, with roti canai an identity to the Indians, nasi lemak, an original Malay cooking and the hot from the wok, char kuey teow of the Chinese. What truly make these food truly Malaysian is that it is consumed by all races and that recipes had assimilated among the people here, sometimes giving a new breath into the menu altogether.

Sany Café, located in Jalan Sungai Dua, right opposite USM is a popular restaurant among students here. Everyone seems to only come here for the char kuey teow or more popularly known as ‘Kuey Teow Basah (wet)’. I was introduced to it late last year when my friends and I went there for supper. I though the dish was like any other kuey teow served in soup, but I was surprised to find out, it is actually char kuey teow served with a lot of gravy.

I was since hooked and always went back for more. Patrons may need to order the large one as the regular one is always too little to satisfy your taste buds and what more, after a long day of classes, you would need more of this delicious dish.

Kuey teow basah is pretty much like the usual Chinese char kuey teow which is usually fried with eggs, bean sprouts, cockles and prawns. The crucial difference is that, like its name, it is served soaking wet with its gravy. People told me, that what makes it so sinfully delicious is that instead of using plain water for its gravy, the cook uses the water that the prawn comes soaked in. It does sound unhygienic, but hey, that’s perhaps the whole selling point of kuey teow basah.

Being Malaysian is truly a blessing. Because when cultures assimilate, the food just always turns out better.

Sany Café
Jalan Sungai Dua,
(Opposite USM)
11700, Gelugor

Char Kuey Teow (Stir-fried flat noodles)

I noticed I had not been sharing enough recipes nowadays, and so I thought of putting a char kuey teow recipe up, which I always wanted to try but have yet to. Take note that this is the usual dry version, unlike the one L had reviewd. This is from Gina, founder of Kitchen Capers, and I’m sure, since it’s from her, it is going to turn out well and be really delicious. By the way, I heard that the real secret to a tasty plate of char kuey teow is by using lard oil and adding pork lard. It lends a delicious crunch and a distinct taste! I will try it once I have the time. In the meantime, if you did, let me know alright?

1 kg kuey teow (white, flat noodles)
300 g bean sprouts
200 g tiger prawns
200 g chicken fillet (parboiled in hot water, shredded)
2 stalks of spring onions, chopped (white part only)

2 tbsp Sweet Black Sauce
1 tbsp Fish sauce (or Light Soya Sauce)
1 tbsp Dark Soya sauce

5 tbsp corn oil
1 tsp chopped garlic
200 g fresh cockles (optional, if unavailable in your country)

In a wok, heat 1 tbsp corn oil and add garlic to stir fry.
Mix all the sauces together.
Add to the noodles and stir well to mix.
Add remaining 4 tbsp of corn oil to stir.
Add prawns and chicken, bean sprouts.
Add 20 ml water and spring onions. Stir to mix.
Lastly, add fresh cockles and briefly stir for about 2 mins.
Turn off fire.

Serve hot to 4-6 people

Monday, February 20, 2006

Hong Kong Food Still in Exposure

It continues...

Next into the street food, the highlight was the chow tau fu (stinky tofu!) well, I tried it! From far you can smell a distinct unpleasant smell where first thing that comes to your mind is a huge smelly drain. But as you go nearer to the frying place you'll be tempted to buy and try one.

Well it does stinks before you put it into your mouth but with a little grimace you'll be able to do it and once you bite into it, you'll find it juicy and a little bit sour (from the fermentation I guess), after all its suppose to be 'spoilt', which meant so literary in Cantonese "chow", which ironically also can be meant by "smelly". Well, all said in one word, it is spoilt and smelly but yet...still delicious. Warning though, it does left a weird after taste in your mouth and you wouldn't want to go talking to anyone near for that matter!

Then there was the special or chien (fried oyster with eggs) which is entirely different from Malaysia version. This one is ultra-crispy with the eggs all fluff up with extra crunchy batter plus with generous amounts of oysters. The ones in Malaysia are usually flatter ones. But somehow, at the end of the meal, one can feel "jelak" (sick) of its richness and also partly because it is pretty oil laden. Anyhow, a must try in one of the stalls in miu kai.

Well, you guys must be thinking, where is the dim sum!?! That’s what Hong Kong is famous for! Well, of course I do have loads of dim sum picture, I had it 3 times for breakfast and once for lunch! Imagine that!

My favorite of the lot is siu long pau (Shanghai dumpling) that is soupy inside with fresh meat and really goood to bite...I missed it so much!

Here's the juice oozing...mmmm

Next is the Shanghai beef pau which is sweet meat in a crusty bread. Shanghai has the best dim sum I guess and they can't seem to have enough of beef.

My friends and I so wanted to try the lor mai kai (steamed glutinous rice with chicken) and see the difference from the ones in Malaysia. Well it is certainly different, in fact it wasn't even called lor mai kai, I forgot what's it called but we sure had a hard time describing to the poor waitress for it! LOL

I heard that the spring rolls is a must try but to me, it is just so-so, I prefer the ones in Malaysia.

This is a char siew pau (pork meat bun), which I’m not sure what version it is but it sure is good. The bun is soft and fluffy, with honey glazed on top with the extra kick of juicy sweet and salty pork filling...yummy. It is certainly a variant from the usual steamed pau as this one is baked.

Here’s an array of one of the dim sum breakfast I had in a different restaurant. Notable ones here are the fried mango in the middle which is crunchy and sweet, really special and the package type of bean curd with filling inside which is really different and good. Sigh, I miss my dim sum fix in Hong Kong!

There’s this which I think is considered a dim sum dish too, which is called char leong, which is actually yau char guai wrapped with cheong fun! Really special combination but tasty nonetheless! Crunchy coupled with the smooth cheong fun...something that delights the palate indeed.

Oh, look at this grilled chicken salad...

Yummy looking eh? Guess what? It is from McDonalds! The McD over there has a whole set of fresh menu where you can choose a range of salads and also flatbread with fresh meat and vegetables for more filling ones. Here’s a favourite flatbread among us, the Korean beef flatbread

Last but not least, is this lovely tong sui (sweet dessert) that we had in one of the little shop in a corner street of Kowloon, which is actually black sesame dessert. Look how thick it is!

That’s all for how three girls from Malaysia eat their way through Hong Kong in 1 week. Hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Hong Kong Food Exposed

I am having work up to my neck these few weeks. Today I had just nailed a presentation and a test in my university. In less than two weeks, my final year project is due for testing and my part is still half way there. I hope this is a good enough reason for my missing in action.

So I am taking this opportunity to post up food pictures that I had took from my last year travel to Hong Kong. Yea, I know that seems like ages ago but yet, I am still thinking of it, salivating about it and still hankering to go back for me.

I had posted up about it before in KC, which was more lightly written, thus I just replicate what I had reviewed after the trip:

The Long Ago Post: Hong Kong Food Exposed

I had a trip to Hong Kong late last month. As we all know, Hong Kong is said to be a food paradise. Well, I CONFIRMED it. Everything I eat had at least a certain degree of standard. So I’m here to share pictures of some of the food that I found really good and hit right on the Hong Kong spirit!

I had tried char siew fan twice, once in Hong Kong island another in either Jordan/Tsim Tsa Tsui (these are the two connecting area in Kowloon, the mainland of Hong Kong) and I certainly loved the one in Kowloon much better. The meat was huge, juicy and tender and still crispy on the outside. The sauce is marvelously sweet and goes right well with its soft and fluffy rice. DELISH! I’m missing it already....

As for another main meal, we (my friends and I) had adventurously tried out the mixed beef mee (which consists of parts of the cow which I prefer not to know so much in detail). Nevertheless, I had a friend who was fond of eating all sorts of pig parts to test these ones out first and then rate it for us to try.

As you can see, the hive look thing (which I later found out is the stomach) is surprisingly crunchy and tasty as it had soaked up whatever soup it was boiled in. Then another part was also crunchy and not too much of distinct taste. But the black part (which we presume is the liver) had a red light from my friend who managed only to choke it down.

Another main meal we had was the infamous yu tan fan (fish ball mee) which is just as its name, fishballs and mee. The different this is from Malaysia is the fishball itself! It is fresh and springy and of course with no fishy smell (seng mei) which causes me to avoid fishballs all the time and you can surely taste the authenticity of the fish in it. This dish is pretty bland compare to other rich tastes of food. Still a must try if you're in Hong Kong, for the fishballs’ sake.

We also had seafood one of the nights in Miu Kai (Temple Street). All the seafood here are really fresh with the seafood still alive and only made to order. I went over to the counter, bombarded with endless choices of moving creatures, I just simply pointed out two unfamiliar seafood (I was guessing I can't get these in Malaysia) and ask them the best way to cook it. They recommended both hot but then I chose one to be just boiled fresh.

One of the dinner we also had jok (porridge) with yau char guai (fried twisted bread). This is one of the simplest dish that I believed originated from here. Both of it just complements well with each other, the crunchy yau char guai with the soft gooey porridge that coats it so well. YUM!

As for breakfasts, we had wan tan mee, where the wan tan are totally different than those in Malaysia. It is gigantic, with generous filling of meat and a huge prawn in every piece. It is tender and juicy and besides, the mee is thin and obviously home made material compare to those I found in Malaysia (except the ones in Taiping which is thick but still home made).

We also had ngau lam min (beef mee). Unlike the ones in Malaysia, this one is with clear soup but distinct taste of beef. The slices of beef are soft yet chewy and juicy!

Of course breakfast in Hong Kong is not complete without trying out the set breakfast style in its own Hong Kong "fast food" version. It come with variety of choices where you can mix and match and it includes the infamous drink of lai cha (milk tea), yin yong (mixture of milk, coffee and tea) and Milo.

In this set we had opt for American style breakfast, egg, luncheon meat, sausage, toast, oatmeal at the side with yin yong.

Another set we had was the mini dim sum set of mini pau, dumplings and mini springrolls, with meehoon and ham at the side plus lai cha.

I just want to highlight that their lai cha (milk tea) and yin yong is absolutely heavenly, due to its richness of milk taste but still with distinct taste of tea and coffee. I suspect the difference it had from the ones in Malaysia is in the milk itself. It must be fresh!

To be continued....

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Passions in Life

L is a good friend of mine. We have known each other since we were 11. This is how it happened; we sat together in class because at that time, the teachers arranged us according to our position in class and we so happen to have the same results. From there, our adventures are endless. We clicked and we bond until now, she still remained a very good friend, a confidante and a joy to be with.

She shares one common passion with me, that is the love of writing. We both also have passion in sharing knowledge with the world, our thoughts and dreans and of course we also have the same passion for food. Therefore, once she read this food blog of mine, she complimented me (she was always very supportive) and then was excited to join in the fun. Thus, she became my guest blogger and wrote about her dining experience, which was in Penang. She is currently pursuing her degree in Mass Communication in USM, Penang. Here goes her entry:

Passions of Kerala

If banana leaf cuisine is your weakness, be sure not to miss out Passions of Kerala for the ultimate south Indian food experience. Opened in year 2000 by joint owners, Mr. Gary Nair and Mr. Achuthan Nair, the place is run by Mr. Murly Nair. It is actually a branch from Restaurant Innira’s (name had also been changed to Passions of Kerala) situated in Gelugor, Penang. Passions of Kerala got its name from a type of seasonal flower called Passions that blooms right outside the restaurant and if you observe, the structure and interior of the place is made to look like a typical house in Kerala, situated in Southern India.

Once seated and orders taken, a banana leaf will be spread in front of you. Service is fast where the staff will first serve 4 types of vegetables together with a generous amount of white rice on the banana leaf. There are 16 different types of vegetables served in the restaurant and the order changes on a daily basis. Customers are given 3 choices of curries to choose from, the exquisitely rich dhal, thick chicken curry and fish curry, the spiciest of the lot. The dhal is laden with different types of vegetables namely potatoes, legumes, tomatoes and its rich creamy sauce is definitely not to be missed. Unlike other restaurants all the dishes here are not precook. The restaurant’s policy is making sure every food is served hot and fresh from the stove. Customer’s satisfaction is highly regarded by Mr. Murly Nair for he knows that it is the only thing that will keep them coming back in the future.

Diners have a variety of dishes to choose from, like the chicken and lamb masala, squids, crabs and fish and not forgetting the McNair’s fried chicken, their very own original fried chicken recipe. Every dishes found on the menu are cooked according to the Nairs grandmother’s recipe who originated from Kerala. Also, the restaurant makes and blends all of their spices. After your meal, there’s nothing better than to wash it down with a sweet lassi fruit drink, a blend of home-made yogurt and real fruit. The result is a deliciously thick and creamy drink enough to satisfy the gastronomical challenge pose by the rich herbs and spices found in the Keralite dishes.

While dining, you will be soothed with light and entertaining music played in the restaurant. It is really the perfect place to enjoy a good meal and then unwind with your friends. Staffs are friendly and the food here will definitely keep you coming back for more. I also took the opportunity to ask Mr. Murly Nair about banana leaf etiquette. He said that in every gesture and things that we do lay a meaning behind it. The Indians have a way of folding their banana leaf after eating it according to occasions. During funerals, after the meal, it is a custom to fold the banana leaf upwards, away from our own body. This indicates that they do not wish to attend another funeral as it is an unhappy event. While on happier events like weddings, Indians will fold their banana leaf inwards, towards our own body which signify that they hope that they will have another happy event to graze again.

TC, a British living in Penang frequents the restaurant for the ambience, quality food and the good money value of it. TC who had been eating curries since he was 17 actually had his first banana leaf cuisine in this restaurant, commented that it was love at first taste for him. So, the next time you crave for an Indian meal, be it lunch or dinner, Passions of Kerala will be the ultimate place to dine.

40, Service Road,
(Burmah Square)
10050 Penang
Tel – 04-229 2570
Business hours:
12 noon – 3.00pm / 6.30pm – 10.00pm

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Myriad of Tastes for CNY

Back from missing in action. Chinese New Year had been a blast this year. As usual, I will be back in my hometown, Taiping and celebrated with family and friends.

As I am getting back on track from my holiday mood to my working routine, time is slipping away pretty quickly. As for now, I’m leaving you guys with pictures of the wonderful tummy-filled CNY celebration that I had. Enjoy!

Pho Pho (mum's mother) shredding the pre-soaked black fungus

Loh Hon Chai (Fried Mixed Vegetables)

My absolute all time favourite Jiu Hu Char (Stir fried shredded Cuttlefish with Yam Bean)

Another Stir Fried Mix Vegetables with Chinese Mushrooms

Live crab waiting to be cooked. We Chinese only eat the freshest from the sea.

Cooked Crab in Tomato Sauce, a little kick from ginger, spring onion and chillies

Steamed chicken, a must have for every Chinese household on reunion

The steamed chicken chopped and served sprinkled with chinese parsley

My aunt chopping the boiled pork tripe from the soup to bite sizes

Taking out the steamed fish (fresh from the sea too)

Pho Pho enjoying the food while waiting for the fish to steam

Yee Sang - We have it every year over at my mother's side, whenever we can meet up either the reunion day or Chor Yat/Chor Yee (first/second day of Chinese New Year). This Yee Sang of ours is self made, with the carrots and radishes freshly sliced thinly (no shredding as it will sweat too much) and then Pomelo freshly shred to pieces. The hues of greens and beige stripes are papaya pickles. In the middle is our main ingredient of the dish – abalone slices. The red packets contained Five Spice Powder and crushed peanuts ready to be sprinkled over the Yee Sang later.

Once ready to serve , crispy dough crackers are scattered all around the dish. Next the spices and peanuts are sprinkled over follow by pouring of plum sauce over it. We would then gear ourselves with chopsticks and then simultaneously toss the Yee Sang all over. As belived, the higher you toss the better. We usually end up with bits and pieces on our hand due to the crazy tossing by everyone.

Then all of proceed to scoop everything out onto our bowls and devour it. We would of course aim for the abalones but at last, we would end up distributing to each other anyway. The Yee Sang definitely tasted good, with fresh ingredients, right plethora of tastes of sweet and sour plus right textures of soft, chewy, crunchy and juicy all together. I looked forward to it every year. If you want to know more about this, Foodcrazee have an extensive information on his own deconstructed Yee Sang.

Overall, a lovely Chinese New Year, with jeans a little tighter, wallet a bit fatter (from all the Ang Pows), heart a little fonder and of course, smile a little wider!

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