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

Monday, December 25, 2006

Quiet Dinner for Two

Where have I been missing from Bangkok? Well, I have been catching up my lost weeks in Malaysia, relaxing and enjoying Malaysian food once more, nothing beats going out and deprive from your usual food to fully appreciate it again. It reminds me of the time I left my hometown and came to live in KL; that is when I start missing home food, Taiping-style food and appreciate it so much more every time I’m back in town. As for now, I went and visited all the food I miss since Bangkok. Don’t get me wrong though, Bangkok food is great, it excites my palate and I’m hooked to one or two of their dishes. But somehow, nothing beats home.

For now, since its Christmas time, let this be a Christmas related post then (yes, it’s an excuse on my long overdue Bangkok food post). Yesterday, just for time of giving spirit, I cooked up some simple fare for J and I to enjoy together, thus escaping the hassle to go out, with the roads jammed with cars and the restaurants jammed with hungry people.

I cooked a variation of fish curry, adapting from the trusted source Kuali, in order to fit what I had in the pantry (sounds familiar). The fish came out alright, though not as good as the Assam Fish I did before, but this one does have a lot more spicy kick with an extra personal touch to it. To accompany it, I came up with the idea of chow fan (fried rice) at the last moments. So it’s just a simple fare of chow fan with curry fish, enough to fill two happy tummies while enjoying the peace of home.

The fish turned with hidden spiciness, like how when you eat some dish, it was not spicy at first or two taste, but then when you continue on, you will feel the burning sensation in your mouth and then it is your tummy on fire. I must have put too much cili padi (bird’s eye chilli). Anyway, it was good, could have been better with okra but I did not get them during grocery shopping as they sold it in huge pack and it looks not-too-fresh. I would not be sharing the recipe as I believe it could be better, somehow lacking in something, this taught me not to mess with a recipe too much.

As for the chow fan, I did it by my simple rules of ultimate chow fan. This time, it is much simpler as it would not be a main dish itself but just an accompaniment to my fish. So I just chopped up some shallots, fried it till slightly soft, throw in finely chopped long bean (my absolute favourite in chow fan, it gives the crunch and the nutrition I might add) and fry again for a minute. Then in went the rice, fry a little and pour in the sauce, which is a mixture of dark soy sauce, soya sauce, sesame oil, pepper and water. I added a little too much water this time, resulting in a less-than-perfect chow fan which was bit sticky. For extra seasoning, I splash some fish sauce and rice wine vinegar. Then of course, an ultimate chow fan must end with egg coating, to seal up the goodness and turn up the taste a notch. Oh if you have notice, there is no garlic in present, yes I ran out of it, but I believe with it, it would have been so much more fragrant.

So there, it wraps up my Christmas dinner for two. Now on you go to enjoy your holidays, while I see would I be able to squeeze in some last minute baking and also, not to forget my Bangkok food posts to come! Cheers!

Friday, December 08, 2006

While I am Away

The internet connection was down in my hotel now. So I started writing. I guess when you stop reading you start writing, a good theory no? Well, I have yet to fully gather all the picture and information on Bangkok food, so this post would be about something else. Though it is Bangkok related, as it is about the cookie I baked for J, for his breakfasts and munchies, while I am gone, for I won’t be able to go to our daily breakfasts and to catch him out to grab some food at odd hours.

Before this, J commented that I can bake good cakes but not cookies. I protested defiantly, after all I am a baker, I bake everything well! Or so I thought I did. So I baked a batch of my Godsister’s chocolate-walnut-oat-chocolate chip cookies, which unfortunately did not turn out too well just because I so happen to ran out of baking soda, and acting smart, I added in baking powder as substitute. The cookies turn out with good texture and all but it tasted slightly off to me and definitely very off to J. Later I found out that the baking soda in the recipe serves as not only rising agent but also to counter the acidity of cocoa powder, which explains the off taste of my cookies. Turns out my plans to change J’s mind on my cookies had just backfired and now he is even more sceptical of it.

I let the issue pass, and then the news came that I have to get to Bangkok for a business trip. I just wanted to make something for him while I am gone (though I did not expect it to last the entire trip knowing him, ha-ha), then the thought of regaining his faith on my cookies came to mind too. So I decided to bake him cookies for my away-trip, that’s what I call killing two birds with one stone.

This time I finally manage to bake a batch of cookies that could erase all the doubts on my cookies-baking skills. I had my housemate eating non-stop while I keep baking batches out, which I packed it and sneak out a batch for her too. J commented that the taste was great this time but he asked, “Why was it not crunchy?”

“It is supposed to be a chewy cookie! Don’t you like it?” I exclaimed.

He nods and continued munching, but I was not satisfied with it. I asked, “Is it that you like crunchy ones?” He nods again and continued munching. Being too late, and I am to fly off in a day, I vowed to bake a super-crunchy-and-addictive cookie when I come back from Bangkok. For now, these batch of cookies will do.

Chewy Chocolate Chunks Cookies

These cookies are really great, if you are looking for the chewy kinds. It would not be too chocolatey, in the absence of cocoa powder (which is why I can use baking powder here instead of baking soda), but chocolate enough with all the chocolate chunks. And the presence of salt brings out the flavours, though my salt was a bit coarse, but once a while biting on some salt was a welcome taste through all the sweetness.

I adapted this recipe from few sources and adjusted to what I have, such as my lack of baking soda and vanilla essence plus chopping up the remaining block of chocolate that I bought for my Y’s birthday cake. The chocolate chunks turn out to be really good, so much better than chocolate chips I believe. Try it, especially when the cookies are just out of the oven with the chocolate chunks in the gooey stage (yes, I was my housemate’s partner-in-crime on eating thorough the batches), after all this is a baker’s privilege. Enjoy!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
175 gram butter
½ cup white sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup chocolate chunks (200 gram)

Preheat oven to 180C and prepare baking sheet/pan, lightly butter.
Sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt.
Then whisk together with whole wheat flour and oats.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars, till light and airy.
Slowly add in the flour mixture till nearly combine.
Sitr in the chocolate chunks until well distributed.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto prepared pan.
Bake at 180C for 12-18 minutes, until lightly browned.
Remove to wire rack to cool.

Makes about 36 cookies (included baker and partner’s stolen ones)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Up North and Beyond

No I am not back in Penang, I know some are hankering for more of those food but this time think beyond that. Think flying up north and across borders.

Oh yes, now I am in Bangkok, Thailand. I am now on a business trip, where half the time is filled with food of course. Half working half eating, so you can guess that it is really tight and busy for me.

So that explains my absence and also my coming blogging hiatus. I might sneak in a post of two, depending.

Till then, excuse me while I eat my way through Bangkok.
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