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

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Best of 2007


When I first read this event from One Hot Stove, I was like “wow, what a great idea!” Ecstatically I click to my own blog to review it for the year 2007. To my own disappointment though, I found Ithat I was actually a bad blogger of 2007, for the first half of the year I was practically missing in action, with just an occasional post as if to revive a dying blog. Then I started to pick up the momentum again for the last half year, with me resoluting recently to be once again active in the food blogging scene. Anyway with just the half year efforts of postings, and very little cooking, I will try to give you the bests of my blog in 2007, with more to look forward to in the New Year to come.

Best Recipe attempted in 2007

Banana Fro-yo
A delightful healthy treat that I have churned out many times every since
my first try, taking advantage of our local sweet bananas that are crazily cheap when they are at the ripest blackened time, which also meant the sweetest and softest time, best for churning to make Banana Frozen Yoghurt.

Best Restaurant discovered in 2007

Grandma’s Kitchen

J and I have been back there for numerous times when we hanker for some authentic home cooking fares. Never failed with many of the dishes we tried, maybe time for a second review when I had tried more new dishes.

Best Dish encountered in 2007

Som Tum

I have nearly expressed all my love for this dish in
my love letter, what more can I say about this sweet yet tangy delectable salad that had me looking out for it every time I am in Bangkok.

Best Idea thought of in 2007
Malaysian Floggers Interviews

The idea struck me one day out of nowhere that it would be great fun for me to interview the bloggers behind the scene of various great Malaysian food blogs out there. There are many more to come in 2008, as now Malaysian food bloggers are popping up like mushrooms after the rain, therefore they would certainly be interested in so many of our
seasoned food bloggers that had been around for years.

Best Place traveled in 2007

Bangkok

Alright, this one seem to be a bit cheating as it seems to be the only place I traveled that I blogged about but what who am I to resist, it was certainly a land of good food, great affordable massages and cheap yet trendy clothes. It was also
testified by many food bloggers out there.

Best Celebration and Gift for a tham jiak in 2007

My Birthday

It has to be definitely my birthday celebration where J had brought me to a buffet of delectable spread of food, food and more food. I wish it is my birthday again, but then again, we all do not need a reason to splurge once a while on food right (hinting to J)?

Cooking and eating resolutions for 2008
These resolutions would seem like the most
overused and over committed resolutions of this blog, just like the resolution to lose weight by so many people of this world, year after year. But somehow, we can’t run away from our unfulfilled resolutions, it will haunt us till we finally make it, therefore along with the crowd of just-human, I resolute to once again do more cooking and baking; try to eat in more often on my own home cook fares, make more delicious and healthy desserts for breakfasts or munchies, bake cakes for my family, 1984 and friends for their birthdays, start again on my abandoned ‘Exploring My Origin' project, venture out to try more of the food that Malaysia have to offer, travel to more places to eat what the locals eat and most of all, to put it all into this humble tham jiak blog of mine to share with everyone in the food blogosphere, where without you all, I would not have learn so much on cooking, baking and enjoying food to its fullest! In other words, I am aiming to be more tham jiak in the coming year, he-he.

Till then, see you next year and I wish you a very Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Winter in Malaysia


So it is end of the year again. December always seem to be the special month of the year, something like a black sheep of the family. Technically it is no different of any other month in the year, but somehow it is special. To some it would mean Christmas but to the Chinese it would mean Dongzhi Festival, for the school goers it would mean holiday and for many others it would just mean the end of year, the time to reflect, to pay gratitude and settle personal debts if there are.

As a Malaysian Chinese, even though I have never been to my origin of country before, China, where my grandparents and great-grandparents came from, I was like the rest here who had never forgetten their culture. We are still tied very much to our roots, calling ourselves Chinese, proudly claiming which clan we are from – Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, Teo Chew, and Hainan and so on. It is so natural, where one Chinese would ask another their surname (to judge) or just asking straight out which clan they are from.

So even though we have long (or always) been living in Malaysia, and even with the ever predictable weather of either rain or shine, we still carried on the tradition of celebrating Dongzhi (Winter Solstice) Festival, where in Cantonese we call it Kor Tong, loosely translated as 'passing through the winter'. So in order to kor tong, the tradition is to eat Tong Yuen (glutinous rice dumplings), along with various hot sweet soup, my Ah Ma usually make the sweet ginger soup version. It seems that we like to celebrate with glutinous rice, reminded me of my Bak Chang for Duan Wu festival.

As I said before, after coming up to KL, away from family, I seldom have the chance to enjoy all these festivals anymore, what more to have the chance to eat Ah Ma’s tong yuen. I wish I would have the chance to once again make these with her, rolling of colorful balls, making them round this time. Fortunately though, I had a chance to eat home made tong yuen this ‘winter’ as J’s mum made some for the family. J and I only had it today, late from the real date because we had been away for a weekend escapade with friends (food adventure to follow soon). I was so happy when I found that J’s mum had made the sweet ginger soup version, this one sweeten with my favourite gula Melaka. J’s mum made small plain tong yuen in pinks and also big white ones with crushed peanuts filling. It was absolutely delicious! So I guess now I have officially kor tong, what bout you?


By the way to everyone who is celebrating, Merry Christmas, and to the Chinese of the world, Happy Dongzhi and I wish you all abundant with family and friends reunions.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Malaysia Flogger #4: Eat First Think Later

This is just the right time for my feature one of our well known Malaysia flogger, Teckiee of Eat First Think Later, albeit a bit late - but better late than never, as it was her birthday few days back. Teckiee, happy belated birthday! I hope this post will make your eventful week even more exciting.

When Teckiee first started food blogging, she hadset herself apart by coming up with video podcast, though not really my cup of tea as I’m am an addict for read and write and everything-to-do-with-words, but it was definitely something new and interesting in this food arena. After a while, the writing bug bites her back as well and she had been actively writing on food ever since. During her earlier posts, before I got to know her much, I have to admit that I had mistaken her for ‘he’, due to the nick name Teckiee; though not exactly a guy nick but it just struck me as so. I was exposed on this mistaken gender fiasco when I featured her video post on my Bak Chang write up, she had to comment to let me know about it. At that time I was really embarrassed but looking back now, it seems pretty hilarious, which I hope Teckiee finds it the same.

So now, without further adieu, let us move on to a techie interview of a foodie (pardon the pun):


1. Tell us a bit bout yourself - name, background, born and bred, work/study, dreams or plans
Teckiee spelt with a double e, pronounce as ‘tac-kiee’ and I’m female ;p Most people think I’m male and that got my nick from my line of work with Information Technology. TEC is actually my initials and my buddies call me Teckiee since I was 13. Born and raised in Petaling Jaya, but works in KL city. One of my realistic dreams is to obtain my Masters degree before I turn 28. (I am) planning to get to my studies very (very) soon.


2. Age old question, what got you into blogging, besides the love of food of course
I started blogging when I was 15 when I got my second PC and a 56k dial up modem; because I wanted to keep a diary, but have never written more than a few pages. Typing is so much easier. I didn’t want to just type, but I needed to express myself to tell someone, even if it’s a stranger.

3. How long have you been food blogging?
Eat First Think Later started off in 3 Nov 2005 initially as a vidcast. When life got busier, I didn’t have the time to do recordings so I decided to switch back to blogging. I have been strictly food blogging since 14 Jan 2006, that’s errr I think 1 year 10 months and errr …well you do the calculations lah ;p

4. What has food blogging bring/done to you?
Food blogging brought me so much new friends and experiences. It’s fascinating to sit with these folks and just eat sleep and talk about food and the world. Food blogging also made me much fatter and poorer more prosperous in the stomach than the pocket.

5. Who/what got you obsess with food/cooking?
My mom has always been, and still is, my inspiration when it comes to cooking. Although she is a working woman, she never fails to impress the whole family with delicious dishes, some which are well forgotten. I sometimes fill in as the chef in kitchen when she is busy, and it started off from there.

6. What is one food you always wanted to try/cook/bake but have yet to do so and why
(It would) definitely (be) something to do with grapes. I actually made scramble grapes omelet once. It made history in my home not because it was delicious, but it was totally ridiculous. I have not tried anything with grapes since then, but had always wanted to try to fix something new, absurd but nice with grapes.

7. List some food blogs that inspires you or got you hooked
When I started food blogging, I didn’t really know that there were so many many awesome food blogs. The first few food blogs on my read list are;
Lovely (lovely) birthday cakes at
http://cookingismypassion.blogspot.com/ by a fellow Malaysian who is studying in Australia.
A beautiful lady cooking Malaysian in her kitchen in the States at
http://rasamalaysia.com/
Awesome reviews by Boo_liciuos in http://masak-masak.blogspot.com/
I was particularly interested in http://singapuradailyphoto.blogspot.com/ because of the various food reviews in the National University of Singapore. My brother used to study there.
And the more recent (or not so recent) addition to my read list;
I like going to
http://imbinitchy.blogspot.com/ ever since she moved from Yahoo! to blogspot. I can comment now =)
Itadakimas with
http://blue_moon.typepad.com/blue_lotus/
And to end, simple yet delicious recipes with superb write up from http://www.cookingninja.com/

8. What would be your one comfort food that will sure brighten the day?
My daddy’s special porridge! Plain porridge mixed with steamed diced port, prawns, shredded steam chicken meat, flaked steam fish, preserved vegetables, spicy bean curd, ginger, chopped garlic and shallot oil and a few drops of sesame oil just for fragrance.

9. Sweet or savoury?
Anything is good for me. Just have to make sure the sweet stuff are sweet enough, and the savoury ones have a stronger fragrance or taste to it. Some times it kills the taste if the level of sugar or spice is reduced.

10. Name one food addiction and tell us how you go about it
Desserts! Just loveee the sweet stuff. I will always ‘attack’ the dessert counter first at buffets. Need my weekly dose of cakes. I always have a stash of chocolates and sweets at work and at home and sweets in my bag!

11. One Malaysian dish you can't do without and why
Penang Char Kuey Teow! Noodles fried with garlic, cockles, prawns, mini leaks (what is ‘kau choy’ called ah?), bean sprout, fish cake and lard. I just love the dry salty taste of the Penang style fried noodles with the fragrance with the garlic and lard. The prawns used …must be fresh and marinated with a little sugar to bring out the crunchy texture, and the cockles just slightly raw. SYOK!

12. Name one cuisine you love and would need a fix for now and then
Italian. Pasta. It’s something I love to eat and I think cook quite ok pasta. Bolognaise, creamy sauce, dry, fried, pesto’ish, herby, lightly tossed, baked, … just love them.

13. Tell us your favourite post of all time - favourite recipe/food review
Definitely all my Siem Reap travelogue at
http://eatfirstthinklater.blogspot.com/search?q=siem+reap

14. Some advices for the budding or new food bloggers in Malaysian scene
Prepare to put on weight. Exercise more because dieting is not an option ;p Be willing to try food out of your own comfort zone. Give honest reviews. Do it for the passion and remember to have fun!

15. Drop a message for your readers and the food fans out there
Thank you for all your support, comments and emails! If anyone needs food advice, extra taste bud, mouth, stomach, guinea pig, cook, waitress or a participant to enter a special edition of Food Fear Factor, just drop me an email. I will definitely be glad to help out ;)

And always remember to eat first think later!

16. Share with us a must make recipe/a must eat place

Lai Wok Pan (in Hakka) means "pulled wok sides" in English. A very traditional Hakka dish:http://eatfirstthinklater.blogspot.com/search?q=lai+wok+pan

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Resolution and a Review

If I did not post this one soon, I would certainly get the lecture and the look from my one of my dearest reader, Q, who is also J's sister. Q was once an avid reader of this humble blog, who had then moved on to live without the usual dose of it in the beginning of this year where I had lacked seriously in updating this blog. Now that I am slowly easing back to more postings, I better buck up as I see the count is still unsatisfactory. My upcoming New Year resolution is to once again actively scour for new food finds in Malaysia, cook, and bake and churn more food, travel and taste more new flavours and most importantly, post the worthy ones to share with the world. I can imagine Q rolling her eyes now, maybe you are too?

Changing the subject, let’s talk about Q instead. Q was also like me, a true tham jiak at heart, though very much also a health maniac who have been a trusted consultant of mine in my fitness endeavours, therefore we always discuss about food enthusiastically. One night, on a rare occasion, Q and I were out together, because we were spurred by the Guardian’s year-end-sale flyer (marketing victims), therefore we headed to the nearest big outlet in the ever popular SS2. In my mind I was already flipping through all the possible restaurants of SS2 to decide where to eat in. Although SS2 was really abundant with food hounds, we were stumped on the decision part. Finally Q, a trusty tham jiak companion said she read about a new restaurant in SS2 in the Star Metro, where the chef was former La Bodega chef who had ventured out to open a place himself. I remembered reading a bad review at Tankiasu’s before and told her about it and then she says “Aiya, cannot eat local food at these kind of café, after all the chef is from La Bodega (specializing in European food) right?” So I agreed happily and we headed on to the place.

Greenwood Café has a chic yet subtle interior where it would have been a nice dining atmosphere if not for a rowdy crowd there that day who is making some commotion for a birthday girl. That aside, the staff there was well mannered, though a bit timid in their food recommendations and servings. I settled on ordering tea for two, although the timid staff tried to have me try their claimed-famous kat jai shun mui (sour calamansi) drink, since I was in mood for hot tea that day. I ordered Chamomile tea and it came in a lovely English set.


Then for the main, I ordered Fish and Chips hoping that it would not turn out a disappointment like the countless bad fish and chips I had in Malaysia; too oily, too bready, not crunchy, too little fish or too crumbly. This one was a surprise where it came breaded with herbs and was deep fried to perfection. Certainly not the authentic Fish and Chips style, but this one is unique and I must say really tasty. The hint of herbs in the crust was certainly a nice touch to this dish and I also love the side salad that came with my favourite purple lettuce. The picture taken was a set up by Q, who knew I would post it on this blog, so she made it all the more elaborate and interesting for you all.


Next the dish for Q, she was attracted to the idea of create-your-own burger by the chef, thus she ‘assembled’ her burger of beef and cheese. It came looking really good with well thought presentation, I did not try it but according to Q it was as good as it looks.


Though the burger came a bit slow, the menu had put a warning of 15 minutes preparation, but we had waited up to 30 minutes for this, and the staffs were a bit timid, I would say overall this café is doing quite well for a new establishment. Q and I both agreed that the serving is just right for us, satiated without feeling bloated. I have spied on its breakfast menu and would be back one day to try it out; it seemed like a good choice for a lazy weekend brunch. Reading the various mixed reviews from other food bloggers, I came to conclusion that the western dishes served here are recommended for its taste as well as for its reasonable price and portion while the local dishes are to be avoided. Anyhow, if you are in SS2 hungry for some food and could not decide like me, Greenwood Café would be a fine choice to end the arduous decision making and to fill your growling stomach.

GreenWood Cafe Cuisine Cafe & Bistro
No.5, Jalan SS2/67,
Petaling Jaya, 47300
Selangor
03-78778577
Weekday 11am-1am
Weekend 10am-1am

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Malaysia Flogger #3: Audrey Cooks

When is the next dosage of our Malaysian flogger (food blogger), you might ask. Oh, it seems that it is here again. Who is it this time, behind the curtains of long time food blogging in Malaysia scene? It is non other than Audrey from her own blog space call, what else, Audrey Cooks.

When I first stumble upon her site, I was hooked immediately by all her authentic home cooked food that I have been yearning to learn and churn out in my own kitchen. Many of them are unpretentious and cooked by her with love for her family. Just like how I hope I would be in future when I cook for my entire family. I surf into her net to look around once more for this article, and who would know I got hooked rereading all her recipes and postponed this very article. Oh well, there cannot be too much of good things, or rather good reads. So not to make this later than it already is, here I present you Audrey who cooks from somewhere in her kitchen in Malaysia:


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

My name is Audrey. I am born and bred in Penang, Malaysia. Graduated from a hotel school, worked in the industry for a few years and ended up working as a secretary in an architectural consultancy firm for 8 wonderful years.

My dreams are usually very much achievable and I don’t believe in taking on something beyond my capabilities. I dream of being able to encourage as many people as I can, to want to cook for themselves as well as for others. Being able to bless someone with this gift can bring tremendous satisfaction. As for plans, I’ll take a day as it goes. First, is to deliver my baby safely to this world and then I shall leave the rest to God. I am sure He never fails to amaze me with the things He has in stored for me. Praise God!

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

Actually my brother-in-law Jeffrey is the creator of my blog. After 2 whole years of centering my life around my daughter and her needs, I needed something for myself, something I love to do – Cook! I find pure unadulterated satisfaction when I am alone cooking in my kitchen. Something people call “escapism” - only me and my food.

3. How long have you been food blogging?

Coming to 2 years in March 2008.

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

I made new friends, people who enjoy food, some like to cook and some like to eat. Blogging has definitely opened up my horizon towards food and its culture.

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

The ‘need’ to eat the food I was exposed to when I was growing up. Most of the time, we cannot get authentic tastes anymore unless we cook it ourselves.

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

‘Kan Sui Choong’ or ‘Kee Chang’. Everytime I want to try it out I get distracted with something else.

7. List some food blogs that inspires you or got you hooked

Catherine of eatzybitzy.blogspot.com with her flare for writing and captivating photography, Kuidaore of brandoesq.blogspot.com with her creativity and beautiful crafted sweets, totally inspiring. Something I can only feasts with my eyes!

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

Cannot pinpoint because it depends greatly on my craving of the day.

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

Curry. Must have curry at least 3 times a week eg chicken curry, beef rendang, mutton curry, pineapple curry etc. I indulge in curry usually together with my sister, my family and mom. I usually make it myself and if I happen to over-cook, my neighbours will have curry too. That happens quite often.

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

Actually my answer here is not a dish but a cup of wonderfully brewed coffee.

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

Whole steamed free-range chicken with ginger, chili and soy sauce dipping.

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

Braised sea cucumber with oysters, abalone and scallops

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

Always be yourself, be genuine and original. Don’t post to please others but post for enjoyment.

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

Keep checking up my website and do excuse me if I disappear from the blogosphere unannounced. Probably need to give birth.

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

Try all; everyone has their own likes and dislikes.
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