Tham Jiak means in some way "love to eat" in Hokkien. I am a Malaysian Hokkien and truly love to eat.
Showing posts with label Food for Thought. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Food for Thought. Show all posts

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Back to Earth

I felt like as if I have dropped out of this Earth. Does transitioning of years (man-defined even but with backings of astrology sorts of course) has anything to do with it? Does everyone fall out and return just like me? Or am I the only one? < insert mysterious tune at the background > Since we are at that , why not ask who am I? Where does the world comes from? Pardon me as I have been a tad philosophical recently due to reading a really good book that weaves the history of philosophy together in a 400 page story – Sophie’s World. The amazing thing is, a good friend introduced me to read it, so I went in search in the MPH bookstore and found there lonely one book and quickly grab it and ran to the counter with it under my sleeves lest somebody came to fight with me for it! I got out alive and thus been enjoying reading tremendously. Just about weeks later, I casually saunter into the same MPH bookstore, and walk around, lo and behold at the middle of the store on the tables where they usually showcase pick of the week or bestselling books, there are mountains, yes mountains!, of Sophie’s World stacked up on the table mocking me. At that time I was wondering if there is a conspiracy following what I read (such arrogance) but now on retrospect (writing does this to me), it seems then that they normally feature books that they just restocked (I bought the last one remember) so maybe to just get the books moving! Bah, I hope this assumption is wrong as we would not want our ‘pick of the week’ to be actually truly ‘new stock of the pick’, it takes the novelty out of it, it would even be slightly, just slightly better if it is ‘rokh’s current reading’ right?

Anyhow, back to Earth for me, we should be talking about food! See how I explained that I have dropped out of Earth, it seems I am still floating in and out of it, I wonder when I would settle down. Nevertheless, the world keeps spinning, people keep eating and I am still tham jiak. So just to kick start the year, I am reviewing this dear little blog of mine, after the four years anniversary, I found that there are few popular posts of all time in this blog, and I feel that it would be nice to share a little glory of this humble blog of mine, and also to put into retrospective where I want to head this blog towards. So without further ado, let me present you Tham Jiak’s top 8 (8 because Chinese New Year is just around the corner and the number 8 is especially auspicious for us Chinese, as it has the same homophone as ‘fortune’) blog posts:

Bak Chang
Oh this was definitely one of my own favourite posts too, as I learnt the ‘dying’ art of making Chinese bak chang. I was really worried then soon one day this will be lost to our current and future generations, as many now choose to purchase the commercial ones or eat at restaurants rather than make their own. Making them with Lai Ma that time was truly exciting and in short, though this may make me sound real young and over enthusiastic, simply awesome! I love how we had walked down the street from her house to an old wooden tim chai (sundry shop) nearby to get the bamboo leaves and the peas to the whole process of preparing all the ingredients which seemed like an endless list of things, but when you get down to it, it isn’t all that immense after all, then to the cooking of the meat and then frying of the rice to scooping all of the fillings onto the leaves and to what seem like my honest attempt to wrap them all in and then lowering them into boiling water while uttering some sort of prayer that it will not all turned loose and became a huge mess. After the whole endeavour, the bak chang came out perfect and somehow it tasted extremely good, thanks to all the heart and sweat poured into it. So go on and read about it all here, and who knows, you may make a resolution to make one for yourself this year?

Penang Food Diary
Oh how can I forget this food adventure of J and mine, at the food haven up north of Malaysia. Thinking back on all the food we had consumed in a span of one day, and yes ONE day, makes me shudder. I felt I had ate for the entire week! One of the most memorable dishes that I had in Penang that time, apart from my all time favourite Kek Lok Si laksa of course, is the Mee Mamak. The sinful plate of red stir fried noodles has a huge myriad of flavours all packed into this seemingly simple dish. Now I have a sudden hankering for it. Ah, it will definitely be on top of my list if I ever go visit Penang again.

Teochew Steam Fish
Ah, so it seems that a lot of people googled for this recipe and I hope it did certainly helped many of them to have this dish grace their dinner table and feed many tham jiaks out there. Though I would have loved to re-enact this dish instead with a huge fresh fish, but nonetheless what I managed to concoct the other day remained fresh in my mind. The recipe was definitely a keeper and one day I shall attempt it again when I get my hand on some good fish.

This was definitely one of my favourite attempted recipe, one that is truly Chinese yet able to satisfy my sweet tooth. Since young I have loved this dainty dessert and especially so after the Portuguese egg tarts made their inception in Taiping. Although this recipe of mine was not of my favourite Portuguese egg tart (the idea of puffy crust still scares me, but one day I shall brace it like how I did for my Sponge Cake), but I still love the soft eggy and slightly sweet filling and the cookie-style crust was quite good too.

Bangkok Food Post: A-Roi
Yes I do have to admit that, although I have been to Bangkok for numerous times, yes even at one point I am there more than I am in Malaysia, this had been the one of the very few post on Bangkok food, and it turned out that the crowd pleaser was the street snacks. I guess sometimes when one go to someplace too much, they took for granted all the good food that they can have all the time there and forgot to document everything down as if it is really precious. Looking back now, I really do miss a lot of Bangkok food, and someday I am so heading back there again (though I also had numerous time swore I did not want to go back after many, many flights), not just for the shopping, which was unbelievably cheap, but definitely for all the a-roi (delicious) food there. Oh I have a sudden vivid recollection of my favourite, one must be forewarned when reminiscing on food that it will leave a huge longing in the heart.

Char Siew
Now I know that so many people out there shared my sentiment to this meat call pork, and one that have been barbecued to point of charred skin but locked with all the sweet meaty juiciness inside. Ah, just trying to describe this special dish again makes my mouth waters. Anyhow, I have indeed wrote a long post of praise to it, so head on to read all about and where to get your hands, or rather teeth in this case on it, and the best ones at that. What are you waiting for?

Pandan Leaves
Although this post was also about Hak Lor Mai, the sweet Chinese dessert that uses Pandan Leaves, it seemed that the whole information in regards to pandan leaves was the main attraction to people. Probably I took this leave for granted, having it embedded in our various local cuisines from aromatic Nasi Lemak to kaya (coconut jam) to kuih-muih. It is no wonder that these plain looking leaves in disguise of a wonderful yet not intruding aroma that it imparts to anything it came in contact with, in this case cooking with would garner so much attention to this date. I am so grateful that it is one thing that is easily obtained in Malaysia.

Chee Cheong Fun: The Breakdown
It seemed that this guest post of mine from my dear friend L is here to stay definitely, with her extensive research and also eating of course on the many types of Chee Cheong Fun that one can find in Malaysia. We might not have covered the whole Malaysia entirely but even then, we have already manage to find four variations of totally diverse style and sauces, but all with the main ingredient of steamed rice flour sheets rolled up. I for one feel the need to inject here that, although I have tried so many of the types mentioned, the Taiping style Chee Cheong Fun is the best and shall always hold a special place in my heart, bias I may be, but it is really tasty, one must try it at least once in their lifetime!

So there you have it, the top 8 posts of this blog. From here I would announce my return to planet Earth, and I would like to resume some sort of normality, then again what is normal? Nevertheless, stick around a little longer as I have a long postponed write up on chickens, and I promised it is going to be interesting, think free range and castration (yes, you read this right). Till then, happy eating and cheers to a 2010 that would be filled with loads of good food!

Friday, November 06, 2009

4 Years and Counting

I just realize, the last quarter of the year is like the best time for somebody to start a blog. What? You might ask. Well Tham Jiak, this dear blog of mine, has officially turned 4 years old, one week or so ago, on 27th October. Yes, it had been that long and the reason I said that it is like the time where people start blog is because I found some who are also celebrating their blog anniversary. How cool it is to celebrate together in the blogosphere with the famous llemongrass the queen of food blogs (and DSLR as I have heard) and Bangsar-babe the beauty queen (in all our hearts). It was them who reminded me of my overdue post to celebrate my dear blog's 4th year anniversary.

On reflections on this blog, it seem Tham Jiak has gently nudge itself from a baker who cooks and occasionally dines out to a full fledged diner who bakes occasionally and almost never cooks anymore. Am I happy about it? I guess it is just a phase of life, for I know I would always remember the joy of baking and cooking and someday would have the luxury again to indulge in these favourite activities of mine and stuffed my loved ones silly again. In the meantime, this tham jiak is contented in enjoying her eating adventures outside. Also for this year, one may have notice that tham jiak had came out of her closet and went out to meet the people behind those lovely blogs out there that she had diligently been following, and boy was she glad, as they have indeed added spice and colours to this tham jiak world of mine. Also I am starting to note that a large frequency of the posts are mainly invited reviews, yes I am happy to be able to come out and enjoy free meals who wouldn’t, but certainly the most enjoyable part is actually the companies, being able to eat among food enthusiasts and a what a bubbly bunch they are too.

There would be many more years for this Tham Jiak blog and I hope you would continue to join in the ride with me; it may not be as it always is but I sure do hope it will be an enjoyable one for everyone. For so far it has been an amazing ride for me!

Till then, happy eating!

Cuppacakes from Wondermilk, given to me by my best buddy L

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Yakitate!! Japan

I confess; the real reason I had been missing in action since my sister’s wedding is watching an anime on baking bread, Yakitate!! Japan (Freshly Baked, Japanese Bread):

- picture source from Wikipedia

I know I would be considered a tad too late in the anime world to be raving about this series now, where in fact it had been a wave two years ago! There are even bloggers who already made the only recipe given bread in the anime – Rice Cooker Bread, and some inspired by it to make other creative pan (bread). The excerpt of the baking can be found in youtube, now it makes me really want to try it out, but first I got to get the automatic rice cooker, sigh, the things we do for passions.

The reasons I love this movie is how much it relates to me in some ways about cooking/baking. World of culinary is truly amazing, as how many times the anime had try to prove. In the end, the final message is that when something is made out of love and in the mind for that someone, it would definitely taste really delicious. So that is why grandma’s cooking are always the best, it was after all made with love for the whole family.

Besides that, they also emphasizes on being creative in your culinary adventures. Though there are times we should stick to traditions such as Chinese dishes, but when it comes to the world of baking, nothing is impossible. As they say, there is a fine line between a genius and a fool, and bounded by common sense we would not be possible to make new kind of pastries or bread. Thinking back how sometimes I would ask J how can you mix that with that(!) (whenever he try ‘weird’ things in front of me like bread with jam and sausage) and then munched away happily. But if you think just a bit further, meat and jam do go together, like the Swedish meatballs and raspberry sauce, oh so good! So in the end it is about crossing boundaries and willing to create and improve to come up with your own ultimate creation. Oh I am so inspired now!

I can’t wait to really make my own food again, cooking for the J, my family and friends of course. It would so much fun to continue my vow to bake a cake for each and every 1984. This feels like I am about to make a mid-year resolution.

Nevertheless, stay tuned and I will be back with more cooking, baking and of course food review!

Friday, September 21, 2007

In the Term of Food

It was after my work hours yesterday, but I was still at office at that time surfing through the net to de-stress by reading about, what else, food. Then I came across one of my all-time favourite blog, Traveler’s Lunchbox, she mentioned in regards to the term of food-loving people calling themselves foodie. Ah, such is the wonder of human, where terms are formed to describe what usual words cannot. But when it started the common usage of it by everyone, ironically, it might be entirely differently for each of them who expresses it.

A quick search through my 2 year old blog and I found that I had subconsciously used the term in two entries. Well at that time, the term is hot, I read it everywhere, I coined the meaning in my own terms to my vocabulary, and it just spilled off to my writings. What did I meant at that time when I used that term? I certainly do not mean that I’m a food-snob for sure, far from it in fact.

Then later on, in so many posts, how did I manage to describe myself then without using the political term foodie? A quick self-reflection and I found that I had indeed found the term to call myself for someone who loves to cook and experiment in bringing tastes together, thrilled at the thought of seeking good food, revel in reading food stories and recipes, excited when trying out new myriad of tastes, eyes lit up in sight of food, and loves to tuck in to good food. I had this term right at the birth of this blog itself, yes the term, tham jiak. Although it might not encompass all the above mentioned attributes, true hokkien linguist might say, but to me it somehow does. Let me quote now “term lies in the heart of the speaker”.

The term tham jiak, as per the anonymous comment in my self-introduction post, he/she mentioned that it actually means a person who greedily wants to eat. That would not be wrong, but it certainly does not mean just that. We call someone tham jiak, when he/she springs to food stalls, eye looking greedily but not necessarily eats it. We call another tham jiak, when his/her eyes lit up when we bring them food gifts, but not necessarily eats it all greedily but instead shares good food around. We call another tham jiak, when the person discusses about food excitedly, promotes where and where to eat, as well as seeks out more information on where to get good food next. We call one tham jiak, if he/she reads about a food, not knowing where to get it, but literally wants to taste it, and goes all the way out just to make it so that able to try it and then definitely, if good, shares it with loved ones. I would say Remy in Ratatouille, is a tham jiak rat, as how he defines food in such a way, but of course with talent to boot. It’s like how one would go all the way out just for food, in any way. Just look at his picture above, the ultimate tham jiak face, as one of my friend once said.

After the inception of my blog, where I start to be more open of my tham jiak-ness, yet though many acquaintances of mine still do not know I am the writer behind this blog, I had somehow been coined with the term tham jiak. It is like self fulfilling prophecy I might say. Anyhow, I am proud to be tham jiak, I would still religiously keep adding recipes in my ever piling up to-do list, hoping someday I would have the time and place to try it all out while having loved ones appreciating it with me. I would still keep on continue searching for good food out here in Malaysia and beyond as well, traveling to many places, trying out food as the locals eat it. Faling in love with new dish as well as learning to cook in new ways. Ah, what a life that would be for a tham jiak girl.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

With Love, L

I seldom post without picture if you had notice, just because I like to spice up my posts, but this testimonial had been long overdue in my laptop and I have yet the chance to post it. You see, I do not have internet connection at home and I usually online at J’s with this laptop. Most of my precious pictures are, unfortunately, in my house personal computer. So sometimes due to my usual forgetfulness, I forgot to copy the picture over to this laptop while I have the notes here at this laptop. Now I am posting from office, oh yes, this is how naughty I am and they banned my picture site, stating ‘Banned Phrase Found’. Now would I have anything naughty in there? Did I accidentally name my food that can offend or provoke people? Anyway, back to the topic, this testimonial is by none other than my favourite guest blogger, yes you guessed it, L. I mentioned that she will be leaving a testimonial here as she leaves to go back to Penang. How I missed her! Now on to her lovely and thoughtful note:

My mother is an excellent cook. She works her magic in the kitchen effortlessly and I watched her cooked, baked, skewed, sliced and chopped since I was a little girl. But at 22 today, one would normally assume that the daughter would have learnt a whole lot from the maestro herself. But assumptions do go wrong at times because she just can’t cook.

But one thing for sure, I enjoy eating and am always open for new eats. It is no surprise for someone who had always been accustomed to good food to be critical of others than her moms’. Thus, with this passion of mine and Rokh’s passion for cooking and eating out as well, we set out always in search of good eats, always talking about food and writing about them.

This testimonial is one which came way too late. I apologized for the delay as I was busy settling down up north again after my rather short 2 month stint in KL. I was there for my compulsory Industrial Training which every 2nd year university student needed to complete. And the word ‘wonderful’ is underrated to sum up my experience.

Of course, the highlight of my entire stay was staying with my good friends (all 3 including Rokh with additional good friends coming over every once in awhile)and our gastronomic adventures around the Klang Valley. A drain on our pockets for sure as we never resist to splurge on good food and then, expanding our waistlines. But it is always worthy; as I believe the connection made at a table of people eating is wonderful. You not only dine together but you connect. This is where friendships are forged and kept in checked.

Rokh is truly a wonderful and close friend of mine. Our friendship is further strengthen through this blog where we would discuss about food and new findings. She surprises me a couple of years back when she donned on an apron and whipped out utensils to cook. Shame on me to think it would be a passing fad but boy am I wrong, for she sure is an excellent cook today. I’m sure her future daughter would feel the same way as I do now. Grateful and ecstatic to always have good food waiting for her.

So this is my short say and do watch out for my detailed food ventures here with my good friends around town. There is nothing irreplaceable than hanging out with your friends, cracking up jokes,endless drinks and filling in stomachs together. That is what I would certify as life’s greatest pleasure.

P/S: Yes, I cannot resist putting a picture, this one from a cute site, and I also would like to leave that message to L, :). Oh, since I am already so thick, I might as well announce that tomorrow is my birthday! Look out for party food!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Reminiscence of Ah Ma’s Cooking

Pusiva had tag me on this Meme called ‘10 things I missed about mum’s cooking’. Yes, many people do have fond memories of their mother’s cooking. Everybody has their favourite dish, only achievable by their mum. As for me, yes I do remember vaguely of few times that my mother cooked for us, but if you ask me to name my childhood memories of missed home cooked food, I would have to talk about my Ah Ma’s (grandmother) cooking. She used to cook everyday when I was young, and I have many memories of her simple yet delicious cooking. As she is less fanciful, she usually cook most of the same simple Chinese home cook food, which we simply adore and would not trade it even for the best Chinese cuisines out there.

I remember days when I was in the morning school (we in Malaysia had two sessions of school in a day, depending on which year you are in), I would rush back in the afternoon waiting to see what is on the table. Then there are years when I was in the afternoon school, where I usually had to go to school earlier than lunch, thus I had to endure the time when I come back for dinner to eat the leftovers, usually listening to my sister (who always happens to be of the opposite school time) bragging about the finished favourite dish.

When I was near my teens, my Ah Ma’s children all chided her from cooking, as they want her to enjoy her life and relax. Thus begin the years that I had to cater for food (really bad food memories, but which should be the beginning of my interest in own cooking) and only occasional treats from my Ah Ma’s cooking. From then, we missed her cooking so much, once a while we would beg her to satisfy some of our cravings. As for now, let me list down the top 10 food (pictures here are my cooking for illustration only) that I missed dearly, though there are many more, I have to say my favourites are:

Chow Fan (Fried Rice)
Ah Ma’s chow fan is the best. Ok, this may seem like a cliché but it is true, for me at least. She can do the meanest ‘white’ chow fan, with no dark soy sauce, big succulent prawns (her secret) and sometimes chopped long beans, chicken or pork and that’s about it. Real simple but good eats definitely. I had yet to achieve her white chow fan level, usually succumbing to the dark ones as it is easier to flavour them. My Ah Ma’s chow fan is good to eat just on its own (though my sister and cousin like to eat with lots of tomato sauce) and I can never ever get enough of it. Sigh, I miss it so much. Before this, long time ago, she used to add in frozen mixed vegetables (green peas, cubed carrots and corns), which I would pick out one by one when I eat it. Frozen stuffs are just not good, the peas are too tough, the carrots are tasteless and the corns just don’t belong there). Then one day she knew about it and fried a separate chow fan for me without those, and oh boy, was I touched. She loves me, doesn’t she? Then finally she evolved to leave it out completely, which become to now her ultimate chow fan!

Chow Mang Kuang (Stir-fried yam bean)
My Ah Ma chow (stir-fry) the meanest mang kuang. The mang kuang will be sliced uniformly with mandolin then stack up neatly to slice into sticks. Her secret is that all the mang kuang is of about the same length and thickness so that it will cook together thoroughly. The same thing goes with the carrots, though she would put less of it. The carrots lend to more complex texture, colour and taste of course. Superb! She chow it with some minced pork, small prawns and lots of garlics! Yummy!

ABC tong (ABC soup)
Of course I love ALL of my Ah Ma’s cheng tong (clear soup). As a Cantonese, she boils soup frequently. Her usual soups are lou wong kwa (old cucumber), lotus roots with peanuts and yok choy kai (herbal chicken). All these soups deserve an individual post themselves, but oh well, when I cook it next time, I’ll talk about it. But if I had to choose between the soups, I would have the ABC soup. Why? Well, my Ah Ma just do this one best, her secret is the crushed peppercorns that she added in with the carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, big onions and of course pork ribs. She just know how much to add of each ingredient bringing in the right blend of the perfect soup. It serves well for cold and rainy days and also for the sick. But to me, it serves best whichever day or weather or condition.

Zhao Har (Prawn fritters)
Ah Ma had somehow perfected the method of zhao har (fry prawns). She uses the right mixes of flour, with enough seasoning (pepper and I forgot what else) and then the right amount of water and eggs to dilute it to the right consistency. She told me the process once long time ago but I forgot (shame on me)! Anyway, she would then dip the huge prawns into the mixes, holding by the tail, and submerged it into the hot oil. She said no overcrowding, the oil must be hot, and to lower the prawns slowly to avoid the dough spreading (and of course oil splattering). Thinking bout it makes my mouth water. Soon there would be big prawn fritters, with the crust all puff up leaving the prawns inside soft and succulent. When you bite into it, it tastes like heaven!

Fan Shu Chu Yok (Dark sauce Potato and pork)
This one is my personal favourite. Whenever my Ah Ma cooks this, half of it is usually finished by me alone. It was never enough for me. Even after I finished my rice, I would sit there and keep poking at more potato and more pork and devour it. I had to pull myself away from the table, telling myself to leave some for others. Ha-ha. Yes, it is that good. I craved for it a lot when I first came down to study. Ah Ma’s secrets are, first the potatoes must be sliced thinly and uniformly (her personal skills), then it is shallow fried in batches to perfection, crispy on the outside but still soft and crumbly inside. Then she would sliced the pork (she uses the loins) thinly and then marinate it first with soy sauce, dark soy sauce and sugar. Then she would stir fry it with the potatoes. Now though I had learn to make it, I can never achieve the same results (maybe I was too lazy to slice all the potatoes uniformly and fry it batch by batch diligently) and usually now, I would use the shorter way, just parboiling the potatoes and then chop it up and make my own fan shu chu yok. I kid myself it is healthier, thus less tasty than Ah Ma’s.

Hong Tao Sui (Red Bean Soup)
Why would I miss my Ah Ma’s hong tao sui? Well hers is usually different from the outside (not to say better, but different), as she would not boil all the beans to mush, usually leaving them with enough crunch and resulting in a clearer soup. Then she would add in dried mandarin oranges skins (her secret, she always have one doesn’t she) which would lend a citrusy taste to the else usual hong tao sui. Every time after Chinese New Year, I would see her diligently put the orange skins out to sun for few days in a row (yes she makes her own dried mandarin orange skins), usually keeping an eye for the rain (which is superbly frequent and unpredictable in Malaysia weather, worst yet, Taiping, which is well known for the name raintown). Then when the time is right (which means the skins are ready for use) and her mood is right, she would make us her ‘different’ hong tao sui.

Chow Pao Choy (Stir-fried cabbage)
This is one of the simplest dish that Ah Ma can make it so good that it tops any other complicated dish out there. This one might not have a secret. Ah Ma just chow (stir-fry) the sliced cabbages with lots of garlics. Maybe she can chow to the right softness yet still with crunch and enough taste but not too overpowering. I do not know why, but when she cooks this, I can’t stop eating it. Somehow, the outside ones does not taste as good, and I absolutely do not like those chow with har mai (dried prawns), which I felt it takes away the simple goodness of the dish.

Baked beans with cubed potato, cubed onions and minced pork
This one must be my Ah Ma’s creation. She came up with it one day and we all got hooked onto it, thus it became a household favourite. She would cube the potatoes and onions into tiny 1cm cubes, all of the same size (again, I do not know where she gets her skills and patients to do this). Then she would stir fry the pork with garlic then add in the cubes and in the end, pour in baked beans (from the can, yes semi-can food but I swear it is superb). It results in a dish only found in my Ah Ma’s house, which is absolutely delish!

Fu Kua Tan (Bittergourd Eggs)
Ah Ma cooks her fu kua tan, by first soak the bittergourd in water, then squeeze out water and then repeat process with new water for a few times to remove bitterness. After bout 3 times, she would then slice it thinly (and I mean really thin) and of about the same size (need I say more?). Then she would fry it briefly, and then add in beaten eggs to hold all of it together. The result is a really thin fu kua tan that are soft and eggy plus bitter and crunchy at the same time. This dish actually came later in my Ah Ma’s culinary years. Someone introduced it to her and from then on she made it all the time. At first, as a kid, I absolutely hate it. I do not like the bitter taste of the gourd. I would usually pick out the eggs from the side and middle or wherever and leave out the gourds. Though the eggs are already ‘stained’ with some bitterness, I still eat it anyway. Then, soon I got lazier and sometimes some gourd sneaked into my picked eggs, I still eat it anyway. Then soon, by some evolution theory, I got addicted to it and start eating it the way it is, with lots of bittergourds held together by the eggs. This is how I learnt to eat my bittergourds, which now I absolutely love, no matter how it is cooked.

Honey chicken
My Ah Ma cooks lovely honey chicken in her huge orange non-stick pot-pan. With this she would cook the chicken parts into perfection, after marinating it with dark soy sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce and so forth, and then add in the honey by taste. It would result in a honey chicken that is not too sweet, with distinct honey taste and enough soy sauce salty. I hope I’m making sense here. Besides, the chicken would be soft and juicy while soaking in a thick deglazed honey soy sauce.

So there goes my favourite list of my Ah Ma’s cooking. As for me, where have I been lately and why have I not been charging my culinary skills in my kitchen as I had promised? Well this is because I had just shifted! Oh yes, I’m in my new house now, and of course new kitchen! I am so excited to show you all but right now it is just all boxes lying around. The plus point of this kitchen is the extra extension at the back of the house which can be made into my wet kitchen! My dream came true. Besides that, I went around my neighbourhood and found that there is a whole day market nearby that caters to every need of a home cook enthusiast, that’s me! With that I have no more excuses for not cooking more often! Stay tune then for more of my culinary adventures.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Chee Cheong Fun: The Breakdown

My friend L has once again came up with new findings. This time she outdid herself by going all over Malaysia (almost) in search of all types of chee cheong fun. I had talked about this particular special noodle before, and the one I showed was the fried style. This one is the true way chee cheong fun is served, but of course in also its many varieties. Let’s see what L had come up with, after a series of searching, tasting, analyzing and documenting (now I sound like I studied too much).
Chee Cheong Fun: The Breakdown

When I was growing up, ‘chee cheong fun’ was one of the foods I grew up eating. It is basically steamed flat rice noodles (about a finger’s diameter), cut up into little pieces and then served with a dash of sesame seed and sauce. Now, I can’t tell you what kind of sauce in particular because as the years go by, and when I began to venture out of my humble old town, I realized to my delight, that ‘chee cheong fun’ comes in different variations in different regions.

In my old town Taiping, ‘chee cheong fun’ comes with a rich dose of sesame and fried onions and a type of red sauce which is pretty sweet. The makers would usually add some chilli sauce alongside, to enrich its taste. Sweet is pretty blunt for a Chinese cuisine, you see.

There’s another type of ‘chee cheong fun’ found here and pretty much everywhere else, called the Hong Kong ‘chee cheong fun’. Steam flour noodles, with shelled prawns and pork embedded in between. It usually comes with soy sauce as its gravy, topped with fried onions and again, sesame seed.

Then, found in central Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur’s ‘chee cheong fun’ is actually my favorite among all. Again, the signature steam flour noodles and sesame seed, the version here allows you to choose from a choice or steam or fried ‘yong tau fu’ to accompany your noodles. Garnished with fried onions as well, it is a great alternative to rice.

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Way up north in the gourmet island of Penang, the ‘chee cheong fun’ here, is of sweet taste. Thanks to its sauce which is made up of chilli, rojak paste and peanut paste. Again, it comes served with sesame seed.

I hope you enjoy my ‘chee cheong fun’ review found here in Malaysia. If I missed out any version, please drop your comments and till then, happy eating!

*Food, glorious food* - Ice Age 2

Saturday, March 25, 2006

What Blogging Did to Me

It made my day!

I was just going through the “blogs that link here” (you can see it at the bottom of this page on the right) through technorati, yes I am vain and want to see who links me up, and found that I had been linked up by FoodFreak, all the way from German, on his Meme. He had include me in along with a few Asian blogs on the question of a food blog located far from him. Quoted from him was:

Tham Jiak - a fellow cooking enthusiast in Malaysia, I love to read about his/her Asian food experiences.”

I am so happy that there are people out there who enjoyed my humble writing on food and my experiences.

I have just notice the lacking in my project of “exploring my origins” and of course not to mention all the foodblogging events that I had missed out. I am keeping track (note the top of the side bar) of them but time just seem to slip by for a struggling soon-to-graduate student like me. If you all have notice, I have also added the part of “Weekly Drools” at the side bar, indicating recipes that had picked my interest which I might, just might try out and are good reads.

Food blogs had in many ways changed my perception on food; there are so many new things to learn everyday, so many real people out there that are passionate about the same thing as me, food. After lurking around many wonderful food blogs for months, bookmarking them, trying the recipes and get obsessed over reading them, I finally created my own food blog, a far cry from the bests I know, but yet, just a humble attempt to also share my passion, my thoughts and my experiences. By blogging, I had then begun making good food, experimenting, braving myself to try various recipes, and of course enjoying it. Then there are the snapping of food pictures like they are my precious that are going away too fast (into my tummy) and then writing about it which then leads to the nicest part, that is getting the feedback from the readers. Yes, you all are what blogging is all about.

So stay tune alright to my blog, and do keep coming back. I promise to cook more, eat more and blog more on, what else, FOOD!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

For the Love of Food

My first food blog! I am so excited. I had been a serial lurker since beginning this year on various food blogs from all over the world and even locally from Malaysia. I had hold back a long time in food blogging due to the fact of the need of constant updates and of course, trying and sharing new recipes and reviews diligently.

I love to cook and love to write. What more is needed for me to convert into a foodblogger. But of course, photography is also a part of this. All I need is a decent camera. For due time, I had to make do with my PDA camera.

Please do continue to come back for more of my reviews on Malaysian food and also my trial and errors on cooking and baking.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Of How I Became Tham Jiak

Nearing to a year of the inception of Tham Jiak, I think it is about time to introduce the girl behind it all, ME. I find this the really probable time to start depicting my life here, as I have just started a new phase in my life. If you have the time, let me rant right from the beginning.

I was a really chubby little girl when I was young, and that is not due to my tham jiak-ness, in fact I was once a picky little eater. I was always unable to finish my food, and my poor nanny or her daughters would have to persuade and entice me to take a few more bites, usually the most common household method is the promise of no more eating after 3 spoons. At that point, they would be hoping that I lose my attention and eat more than that, but the cheeky me would be counting with my fingers, poking each out with every mouthful. But the really amazing part was I was able to stay chubby or grow even rounder, and they would always joke that I have all the air inside me.

At 5, I no longer go to my nanny’s and was back at home, starting to go to school. I continue to stay chubby till nearly 10, and that time everyone, including all my relatives, would call me ‘fei po’ (fat girl) and being young and oblivious, it was not really a matter at that time. During those times too I get to enjoy my grandma’s cooking (we stay right next door to each other) and learnt to be less picky, though still a bit of a pain, but I was starting to try things out. Come to think back, I am really sorry to all those who tried to make me try some new food, knowing that it’s tasty or it’s good for me. Then nearing to 10 years old, my grandma migrated to Australia, which she only manage to stay a few years where she then came back, missing her life in Malaysia. Since her return, her children insist that she enjoy life and not do any household work at all, including cooking. Thus, since then I was subjected to catered food everyday, which sometimes, ok most of the time, were not too appetizing. So you can guess, including with my growing age, I managed to become quite slim by the time I hit my teens.

The time I discovered the joy of cooking and that I had it in me is quite an accident. That time my mum was working over time for two weeks, and so I would be waiting for her for dinner every night. Those were the time of our catering days, and I pitied my mum for working late, so I thought of the idea of coming home to hot and yummy food would be a comfort to her. So nearing the time of her return I would fire up the rarely-touched stove and heat up the catered food. You must be thinking you call that cooking? Well, not yet but I am getting there. Then when my mum comes home to those piping hot food and eat, I am happy that she is at least enjoying the not-so-appetizing catered food. Then after a while, I started to do some tinkering. I remembered they use to give us this sardine dish right out of the can, which is, let’s just say not so delectable. During heating up I decided to do some modification and added chilli sauce, sugar and some other things that I can find in my scant kitchen and voila, it started to smell nice, in fact, delicious! When my mum came home, I eagerly waited for her to try the sardine, and when she moan in pleasure and commented that the sardine was good, I was more than happy, I was ecstatic. Oh yes, you cooks out there would understand what I meant, the joy of someone appreciating and reveling in your food is just so, so good. From then on I never look back, I knew it that I would learn to make good food, I would cook for myself and all my loved ones. I would never ever subject my family to second grade food in the future.

Anyway, teens breeze pass in a blink and then I was suddenly thrown to live in KL on my own. That time I ate out most of the time, living in a food haven (Wangsa Maju) and inevitably put on quite some weight, since when weight is a matter? Since we are no longer in our sweet 16 I guess. Sigh. At that time I did some cooking, not really serious but some dinners once a while and have dreaming of grander feasts all the time. My kitchen that time was really small and congested, shared by 7 girls, so you can imagine how little cooking can be done there. When we finally moved to PJ, Y and I, we have been living with each other since we ever live in KL, finally got the kitchen to ourselves, mini it is but I can start stocking up on my utensils and all.

Finally, after few years of cooking here and there, some hard-rock muffins and burn pots, I finally went full blast in cooking after I discovered food-blogosphere, which had been a real source of encouragement. I read so many people’s trials and errors, rejoicing with their success and empathizing with their food flops, while learning from their mistakes along the way. That is when I know, I, as an ordinary girl can also make extraordinary food. The exchange of recipes and vast information in the blogosphere is simply amazing. Thank you all, wherever you are, you had changed a life of a girl.

Now, I have shifted to a new home, with a larger kitchen, but lesser time to cook as I had just graduated and started my full time job. Coupled with my tham-jiakness, I would still venture out to try some good food when I was too busy while still learning to cook up some good fare for myself, J and also my friends; and not to forget continuing to write and surf the food-blogosphere!

Till then, happy eating!
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