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

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Man of the House

Oh boy, am I glad I finally have the time to sit down and write. I barely had time to breath nowadays, sneaking only time in betweens to read my favourite blogs, flitting in and out like a busy bee. Well, all this is because I am packing the house (more like throwing out garbage), selling what I deem not needed, arranging where to put the rest of the boxes, tits tats of furnitures and my many BIG boxes of kitchen appliances, utensils, gadgets and I don’t even want go there now, ha-ha. This is what happen when a cook decide to shift. Again you ask, when just a year more ago I told you I moved into a new neighbourhood. Yes again, this time, I am moving into my own apartment! Yay! J and I had bought an apartment somewhere in the heart of PJ, which I can only officially move in most likely next year, so I have to unload a lot of things now. It is taking up my every weekend, and most of my free weekdays. Then there is the loan, the legal stuff, the call here and there and everything else. In short, it is really exhausting.

Nevertheless, today I was lucky to be release early from a work training today, therefore this post. I have been meaning to post is since the beginning of this month, which was my dad’s birthday. Yes my dad, the pillar of my house and the foundation of my family.

Every dad is special to every little girl, just like how my dad is. Since the day I was born, he had never really raise his voice on me, not to mention laid hands on me. But he had his ways to keep us (my sister and I) in check, his “because I say so” and his silent treatments. No matter how though, I always see through his scheme. I am the little girl of the house, hardheaded at most times but usually using her charms to manja (pamper) her way through his heart. Whenever he tried to put up his steel manner, I would manja if I ever see there is a chance to get what I want (opportunity sighting is learnt throughout the years of living together), so I usually end up with what I want. But I had never abuse this power though, cause at times I know there are many things that even the best charm can never change or get.

My dad is in someway whom we like to tease in Malaysia, China-man, which actually loosely translated to the same style of the ancient Chinese people’s thinking, but not necessarily meaning it in a bad way. He was strict and conservative in his sense, protective towards his only two daughters, and manly about his house rules. Anyway, as my sister and I grew older, he had learnt to take off his protective net, and let us roam ourselves out in the world. So far, as he is always nearby, traveling forthnighly back to Taiping, we always find chance to come out for a dinner during Sunday nights, just like how we used to do as a family those days. During our Taiping days, we always go out for a full fledged Chinese dinner on Sunday night, its like a ritual. Then we would always go to the same restaurant again and again until we are so bored of it we would change to another, and then the vicious cycle begin again. Anyway, no matter what, I love you, dad!

So back to dad and his birthday, this year, mum insist that all of us go back to Taiping to celebrate. So of we all drove back in 3 separate cars, sis and her boyfriend, J and I and then dad, pardon us for the pollution, but as I told you, my mum insisted. Oh well, since she had came up in our numerous occasions, we all agreed to head home. Then during one of our MSN sessions, yes my mum DO surf the net and chit chat on messengers, she casually mentioned that I should bake a cake for dad. It tugs at my heart, I badly wanted to, but I know time is not on my side. Anyhow, due to perseverance, I got up that early Saturday morning, after arriving the night before in Taiping after midnight, and got over to my Nanny’s house and bake a cake, no so direct as I had to decide a recipe then from one of her old cookbooks, drove out to get the remaining missing ingredients (fortunately everywhere is near in Taiping), and came back to bake the

Chocolate Cake with Sliced Peaches

Yes it is a weird combination, I admit. It is the spur of the moment, desperate searching ways to spruce up a basic chocolate cake recipe to make it fit for a birthday celebration. The supermarket is out of cheese, and there are not much lovely fruits to choose from, so I resorted to a can of sliced peaches. Therefore, I had to improvise, I had to make do, and when I assemble it I pray it will work well together, which I can say it did, not exceptionally well as in why-we-never-think-of-this or what-a-wonder-combination kind, but just the alright, it-is-special-and-not-bad kind. But don’t be put off as the chocolate cake itself was good, coming from an old Singaporean cookbook, it was moist, delicious and just right, not too sweet, Asian style chocolate cake. Definitely a must try, and you can then use your own ways to spruce it up or just eat it plain or dip into the chocolate glaze (as I did with the chocolate cake pieces from the cut cake session), it was heavenly! Here goes, by the way I had halved the recipe to make an 8-inch cake.

100g chocolate (use the rich kind, I used Varlhona)

Shift together:
112g flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of baking soda
28g cocoa

100g sugar
½ tsp baking soda
5 eggs, separated (I hope I got this right from memory, missed it out from my handcopy)
155g butter
¼ tin condense milk
1 tsp vanilla essense
1 tbsp brandy

Heat oven to 175 degrees.
Melt chocolate over steaming water (like the usual bain marie kind or my Nanny’s bowl-in-water-Asian-style kind)
Beat egg whites with half the sugar till fluffy. Add baking soda and beat till stiff but not dry.
beat butter and remaining sugar till light and fluffy (old books love this word)
Add condense milk by spoonful into the batter, beat well.
Add in melted chocolate bit by bit and beat till incorporated.
Add egg yolks, one at a time, beat well each time
Add vanilla and brandy, beat till blend.
Pour into the prepared and lined 8-inch pan.
Baked for bout 45-55 minutes (we had some trouble during baking, so do not have the exact right time) or till skewer comes out clean (use this method then)

Chocolate Glaze
Whipped up by me out of memory of many food blogs’ recipes I read and the remaining ingredients lying around

110g butter
110g chocolate

Melt them together over slow heat
Let cool a little and then scoop over chocolate cake

To assemble
Cut the cake in half (this was done skillfully by my Nanny)
Put the top side down, hiding the cracks if any
Slather chocolate icing liberally over the cake (cut side)
Arrange the slices of peach around it
Put the other cake slice over, cut side down
Pour the rest of the icing over the cake, forming a lovely overflowing chocolatey fountain
Nanny and I wish we could devour it then when the chocolate cake is dousing in the chocolate sauce, but we put it in the freezer instead and let it set

Then bring to the party and serves 8 people after a full Chinese course meal for sweet endings

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Malaysia Flogger #2: Babe in the City - KL

This post is late. Why? Because I spent most of my free time reading wonderful stories of mothers and grandmothers across the globe, bath in their various cultures and different lives, celebrating with their joy and empathizing with their pain. It was definitely a great theme, where it brought us all spilling our hearts out. Do head on to both Vanielje Kitchen and Passionate Palate, for the full roundups of love, love and more love.

Anyway, back to Malaysia after that world tour, for this round, another seasoned food blogger will be featured. It is non other than Babe from Babe in the city - KL. When I first surf into her blog, I was imagining a young babe cruising the streets of KL city, but when I read on I realize, this is actually one hot mama churning out wonderful food from her kitchen as well as bringing us around in her honest food reviews. She was also the founder of the only Malaysia food event - Merdeka Open House. I guess this famous Babe does not need much more of introduction from me, therefore let’s get on with knowing her even more:

1. Tell us a bit bout yourself - name, background, born and bred, work/study, dreams or plans

Babe_kl is born and bred in Kuala Lumpur. Prefer to remain anonymous for the sake of keeping some mystery at stake.

2. Age old question, what got you into blogging, besides the love of food of course

I was inspired by the now defunct Shiokadelicious way back in 2004. Started out without much direction, just simply post whatever I had wanted to write. Not sure how I got into serious food blogging… accidental I guess.

3. How long have you been food blogging?

3 years, 3 months, 16 days as of 7 Nov 2007.

4. What has food blogging bring/done to you?

Lots of new friends!!!

5. Who/what got you obsess with food/cooking?

I guess my parents played an important part since they loved to hunt for new places to try out. Later on as I started working, I have lots of foodies colleagues who took me to various places that I would never discover on my own.

6. What is one food you always wanted to try/cook/bake but have yet to do so and why

Chiffon cake!!!! Can you believe it? I’m not good with handling egg whites and I have heavy hands plus I’m a procrastinator heh… Hopefully I will pluck up my courage to try making my first chiffon cake.

7. What would be your one comfort food that will sure brighten the day?

As a foodie, I can’t single out one comfort food as it goes depending on my mood.

8. Sweet or savoury?


9. Name one food addiction and tell us how you go about it (avoiding/ indulging/ making/ sharing).

Ribena, I guess. I got this addiction after I gave birth. I must have one bottle on hand and another bottle in my larder on stand by! I mix Ribena in cold water; hot earl grey tea; vodka and sometimes turn it into sorbet. I can’t live without Ribena now!!!!

10. One Malaysian dish you can't do without and why

Must be the national favourite – nasi lemak. Can’t explain, it’s a Malaysian thing!

11. Name one cuisine you love and would need a fix for now and then

Banana Leaf Rice

12. Tell us your favourite post of all time - favourite recipe/food review

Hard to pinpoint since my posts are basically for me to archive what I’ve cooked and ate. Very handy for me to perform a search this way rather than flipping through my piles of printouts and books.

13. Some advices for the budding or new food bloggers in Malaysian scene

Be sincere and honest with what you write but most importantly, don’t make it as a habit to treat every eating session as “work” (i.e. take photos, jotting down notes etc). Just enjoy and have fun.

14. Drop a message for your readers and the food fans out there

Thanks for coming by Babe in the City – KL and linking it as well. I am grateful with all the comments left by the readers and not forgetting to mention the emails complimenting my blog or posts. As for queries, please give me a bit of time to feedback. Your patience is appreciated.

Thank you so much to rokh of Tham Jiak for starting this brilliant project even though she’s so busy with her own things. Your effort is highly commendable. I just hope you can continue to feed us more about your childhood stories and experiences with your ahma. These are gems and truly unique to each of us.

15. Share with us a must make recipe/a must eat place (send along a picture if available)

Babe in the City – KL everything is there LOL… very hard to pinpoint.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Apples & Thyme

I have many times told stories on my grandmothers, have I not? What about my grandfathers? Sadly I do not have much time with them as they both passed on when I was less than 5 years old. But anyhow, when it comes to food, especially in our Asian culture, it is almost mostly about our grandmothers. It would be them toiling away in the kitchen day in day out just to feed the family and as well as their dear husbands.

It had been a long time since I last join a food event, but this time it got me out of my cold storage box again, just because the theme really got me at my heart. This event is about, quoting african vanielje, celebrations of mothers and grandmothers and time spent with them in the kitchen, in dedication to Jeni’s mother. Apples and Thymes, it seems like the perfect name for the theme today, though I cannot explain why.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you would have read bout my stories about my Ah Ma (grandmother) in so many occasions. For Ah Ma, the ever diligent wife, mother and grandmother, the always seeking of self improvement, the only bind now to our big family tree, the reason we all should appreciate and celebrate life and the ties to our roots back to China itself. I bet these reasons are truly strong enough for a celebration, a big one at date. So let’s toast to my Ah Ma and all the mothers and grandmothers in the world. You all somehow make this world a better place.

Looking back, it seems that I did not spend enough time with my Ah ma in my earlier days. What a shame, I certainly could have learned a lot. It was not until I went to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, to study and now to work, that I learn what I have all these while been taking for granted – real food laboured with real love. Maybe it is also our Asian way of life, where kids are not allowed to play in the kitchen; too dangerous, too troublesome, going to cut self with knife, breakables would be broken, edibles made inedible and the list would go on. That is how then, this little Chinese kid got left out of her Ah Ma’s kitchen, much to her lament.

But I remember the festivals, the time where we (kids) just might have the reason, or rather the chance to help out in the kitchen. I remember once, during Tanglung (Lantern) festival, I don’t know why this event was etched firmly in my memory where I can picture it vividly in my mind, where my sister and I walked into the kitchen where there were hundreds of mini Tong Yuens (glutinuous rice dumplings balls) in plethora of pinks, whites, greens and yellows in a huge metal tray. Ah Ma’s version of Tong Yuen is more of the north Malaysia style, small and plain with no fillings. My sister and I would eagerly help to shape the balls. I still remember Ah Ma saying, “Aiya, not like that, one big one small. Aiya, not round enough, let me show you”. She then will show her spectacular skill of rolling Tong Yuen into a round ball at the right size at amazing speed, due to years of making of thousands of them. Although she would try her best to advise us, we end up with Tong Yuens of various sizes and some oval, some round, some flat. In the end, she would still smile, praise us for our help and then throw it all in boil and then add into the prepared sweet ginger soup. I found a video here at Malaysia Best, where there are two little boys helping out with making Tong Yuen.

Anyhow, after I went to the big world out there, I do also always try to return to my little hometown, where every time I would bombard my Ah Ma with various questions on how she make this or that dish. Just like every cook, especially the ones who enjoy it, she would go into a long and detail description from picking of the right vegetables to the right cut of meat, then to right preparations and the many seasonings up to the right way of cooking and down to the right time itself. I would sit there fixated, nodding occasionally and try to absorb everything. Sometimes when the list got too long, I might whip out my PDA or a paper to note things down. When I got home again, I would try to replicate some of dishes that I learned, mostly a success as Chinese cooking when once you understand its basics and have spent years in eating them, you can easily make it, but mostly it is never up to par to Ah Ma. Maybe in the future, after years of practice, I might make it as good as her.

Although there were many of her dishes that I loved, there was one dish that I hold really dearly to my heart personally. This one dish that I always beg her to make is ho lan shu chu yok (stir fry potato and pork in dark soy sauce). Whenever she cooks this dish is I would be eating and eating it way after I finish off my rice. I would have to pry myself from the table in risk of finishing it before anyone else can have the chance to eat it. Then, after a while off, I would then pester her again, “Ah Ma, when are you going to cook potato chu yok (this mixed term was coined since I was really young) again?”. She would then just smile and ask if I am ever bored at it, which I would shook my head vigorously. Even after long gone from home and back again, I once again request for this comfort dish of mine. I am so excited when we finally cook it together in her kitchen; after all I am not a kid anymore right, where I would be more of a help than a nuisance, then again, arming with camera in hand, I do seem worst off, but a food blogger got to do, what she got to do – shoot!

There would be no recipe this time, as I was busy shooting the video which I use to submit to a contest (which I did not win), so I did not note down the details of the recipe. I would not want to put in estimations here of it, as I want this perfect dish to be replicated successfully in another grandmother or mother’s kitchen, to serve a really happy kid, so I would put it up once I have it. Anyway, I hope you had enjoyed this short video of mine, if you have watched carefully, you might have catch a glimpse of my Ah Ma :)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Malaysia Flogger #1: A Self-proclaimed Foodaholic

From my previous posts featuring my cooking grandmas, I had just hit 100 posts, which is considered really small amount for my span of full two years of blogging, since my first virgin post. That is like 24 months since my public announcement that I am indeed a tham jiak girl. If you average out, it seems I am blogging every week, which is not true where during the early era of my blog, which was its golden days, I had been blogging frequently topping to even 7 posts a month! Then somewhere in between it dip to really bad to me having slowly picked up the momentum again to blog at least once a week, or somewhere there (give me the credit will ya?). This blog incepted due to the fact that I cook and bake, I love to eat, I love to read bout food and my hands itch to write about it too, and not to forget how I got addicted to all the food blogs out where after every post I wish I could cook, bake and write like that. I also want to use it as a place for me to share my endearing adventures in the kitchen, and my occasional rant of food here and there. Slowly, cooking/baking got sidelines, as working took over part of my life; I ate out more than I ate at home, what more cook/bake. There came the influx of food reviews from me and soon it became a mixture, hopefully to more balance of everything. After all, it is all about the food, right?

Anyway, as the celebration of my 2 years of blogging or my 100th post mark, I had came up with the idea of doing something different on this blog, albeit the cooking, baking and reviewing. I got myself into interviewing. It struck me suddenly, when I was just leisurely browsing my list of blogs that I frequented, as I notice since these two years, there had been more and more food blogs in Malaysia popping out, so much so that I had a hard time keeping up with all of them, I realize many of us (apart of fellow floggers who flog together regularly), do not know the person behind all the good food enough. So I decided to do virtual interviews so that we can all can learn bout the floggers that ‘brought’ us to makan (eat) places, taught us bout many dishes or inspired us to cook and bake more.

My first sporting interviewee is non-other than the
Self-proclaimed Foodaholic, Swee San. She is the lovely chef behind all the crazy good food that has diligently appeared in her seriously good-eats food blog. I had invited her as one of my selected few to interview first, as she is one of veteran floggers in Malaysia that had been blogging for a long time now. I remember her starting with her friends, where since then she had been the active baker who posted many delicious recipes. Then she drop the bomb that she got to realize the dream of many food-lover-chef-wannabe out there, which is to ensue in a course in non-other than the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu, Australia. At first I thought she was really lucky but after the interview, I then see the other side, of how she had to do what she had to do to go for her dreams. You go girl! An extremely talented girl with a big heart, you can see through by how she toils for many bakes for her family and friends, I am certainly a fan of her food blog. Anyhow, without further ado, I shall present you, Swee San, behind the lovely blog A Self-proclaimed Foodaholic:

1. Tell us a bit bout yourself - name, background, born and bred, work/study, dreams or plans

Born in KL, bred in Klang (still Klang Valley anyway). I used to be an architecture student before pursuing patisserie in Le Cordon Bleu, Sydney. And, my name is Swee San. Right now, (I am) working as a pastry chef in a secretive place which will be revealed well, maybe later. :)

2. Age old question, what got you into blogging, besides the love of food of course

First was to write about the places we’ve dined at with the other 2 of my friends. Very soon they became too busy and I went full-on with baking; I started another foodblog to take account on my LCB journey and experiences

3. How long have you been food blogging?

Since 2005

4. What has food blogging bring/done to you?

Apart from the appreciating food more and being more adventurous in dining, it’s my job finding tool

5. Who/what got you obsess with food/cooking?

I used to watch this Taiwanese / Japanese cooking show when I was really young and I was really hooked on to it. It was more on sweet stuffs though. There is no history of chefs / bakers in my family, so I guess it’s more of an outsider-influential kind of thing

6. What is one food you always wanted to try/cook/bake but have yet to do so and why

I think the list of food to try / bake / cook is endless; possible reasons are, can’t find the ingredients here in M’sia.

7. List some food blogs that inspires you or got you hooked (not a blog tho) and other amazing chefs

8. What would be your one comfort food that will sure brighten the day?

It depends on my mood actually. I could be a smoking hot plate of nasi lemak, or it could be just fresh oysters or sashimi. Sometimes it could be just McD’s fries :P

9. Sweet or savoury?


10. One Malaysian dish you can't do without and why

Bah Kut Teh. Why? I grew up in Klang. What do you think??

11. Name one cuisine you love and would need a fix for now and then

Japanese and Thai (my new found love in Sydney)

12. Tell us your favourite post of all time - favourite recipe/food review

All of my LCB-related entries are my favourite!!!! (

13. You are one of the lucky few who get to fulfill their dream in Le Cordon Bleu, tell us about your experience there.

I don’t regard this as being lucky. I went there because I wanted to do what I want and what I like. It’s about compromising things to pursue your dreams. Anyhow, money didn’t drop from the sky. My experience? It was great fun and I really enjoyed every moment there and I’m glad I made the decision to do what I’m really passionate about.

14. Some advices for the budding or new food bloggers in Malaysian scene

Give truthful opinions. And enjoy eating everything

15. Drop a message for your readers and the food fans out there

Sorry for not updating for a really long time. I’m just working on something really exciting but it’s a secret for now :)

Now head on there to her blog yourself to get to know the chef and drool over her posts.

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