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Tham Jiak: April 2006
Tham Jiak means in some way "love to eat" in Hokkien. I am a Malaysian Hokkien and truly love to eat.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

In Search of Good Eats

I am back in my hometown, Taiping with J! Yes, finally everything is over, I am now graduated, or can be said unemployed. Since I’m now in Taiping, you can be sure to look forward to lots of food review. But for that, you got to wait. I have something up my sleeves, and well, you will know soon enough.

As for now, J and I went up north to Penang yesterday, in a half day trip, big part of the reason is for food hunting. So, J had stayed there before during his internship, and so he know a few places, though that time he only cycled to work, oh yes, to skip the crazy Penang traffic, he did not get to go out much, especially to town. But yesterday, base on his male direction instinct, he took me to the best part in town for good eats that is Air Itam.

We went in hunt for laksa, a peranakan spicy dish, richly blend with best of Chinese and Malay Cuisine. J took me to a reputable laksa stall in Penang, located along the street in front of Kek Lok Si Temple (the famous Buddhist temple in Penang). One bite into the laksa, and I am sold.

So many years in Malaysia, I though I had ate all types of laksa (curry laksa, assam laksa, bias to Chinese or Malay laksa, with all level of tastes. But now I have reopened my taste buds to a whole new experience with this Penang assam laksa. I ate it and drank the soup till the very last droplet, well nearly. The mee has a good springy texture, and it was served with good swirled of He Kor (prawn paste), thus the sweet taste. The soup is full of fish flakes (my favourites) and the broth is rich yet not overpowering.

The stall is manned by an old man and an old lady, who worked at lightning speed to serve up a bowl. One look and you know they had been selling for years. The table has a gigantic of laksa mee with two huge pots bowling hot broth. Though seemingly unbelievable, but I’m sure they can sell it all by night. There is also a stall beside which sells freshly squeezed sugar cane.

I was really too full to completely lick the bowl clean because, right before laksa, we went to line our growling stomach with char kuey teow first. You wouldn’t want to eat laksa in an empty stomach, or you are sure to suffer burn. Laksa is really tart with although I’m not too sure of the scientific components, we all know it’s really acidic and can cut through your tummy. Besides, who can go to Penang and not to eat char kuey teow?

This char kuey teow stall is located just across the road from the laksa stall, in a true old style restaurant. The kuey teow was really tender, with loads of flavour infused in it. The prawns and cockles are fresh, and as an authentic Penang style, it was added with sliced lap cheong (Chinese stuffed pork, sausage style).

Though this might not be the best char kuey teow in Penang, but I am darn sure I ate the best laksa in town! Ah, I am satisfied that I have ate two of Penang’s most famous food, the indisputable char kuey teow and the bowl licking laksa.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Taiping-like Chee Cheong Fun in PJ

Due to popularity of the chee cheong fun thread, and the ever so interested people in PJ/KL who wanted to try the sort-of-like-Taiping-taste chee cheong fun in Seapark (that I mentioned in the comment). I managed to dig up the old pictures of when I ate there, though bad in quality as it is taken in haste and not for blog quality. But still, I’m sure those interested will go seek out the ‘real’ look and of course 'taste' themselves.

Anyway, this shop, judging from the picture, I guess it’s called ‘Kedai Kopi (coffee shop) Khoong’, or there could be a word behind. Yes, you can see that it is written Kampar fish ball below, which is actually the specialty there (Kampar is well known for its fish ball noodle). But now, the main attraction for us would be the chee cheong fun! Yeah, I heard resounding cheers from you guys ;)

Alright, I should stop being long winded. Here is how this chee cheong fun of sweet sauce looked like:

First of all, I must warn that it is not totally the same as the one from Taiping, tastewise and also look, judging from the previous post look. But it is the sweet sauce type, with very good sauce too I might say, and it does taste with high similarity to the one in Taiping, less red visually, but still good eats (I’ve been a fan of Alton Brown lately) and of course, different from the one in PJ/KL.

Here is the couple that sells the chee cheong fun, don’t miss them as their stall is just a long table, located at the back of the shop. I have a feeling they have been selling here for years!

Of course, since I’m reviewing on this shop too, I might as well mention the Kampar fish ball noodle, which is also very good. It tastes just like the small-town-kind-of-food, if you know what I mean. Like in Taiping, the chicken broth is simple, not laden with MSG or spices, just nice and a little bland (my accustomed taste) to go with the homemade fish balls and noodles.

Here’s the stall:

When I come here for breakfast, all these is only available in the morning, if I’m not wrong as I have only been here twice and in the morning, it always makes me feel I’m back at home, with the simple home cooked style kind of food. Now I miss home!

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.

Image hosting by Photobucket

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Comfort Food from Home

Alright, what is this naughty girl doing here when she is supposed to be studying? Well, she just misses her blogging life and intended to at least post something. I have just tackled the first paper this morning, and hopefully I’ve done well, I wrote till my hand got sore. That should be good news right?

Anyway, mum had just bought a yummy biscuit made in my home town, Taiping, which she had dad brought up to KL for me. My dad works here and he travels back fortnightly. I’ve tried biscuit before, and had an almost addictive liking to it, which I “naturally” mentioned to mum, and so, she bought 2 boxes for me this time! Thank you mum!

It is just what I needed, a non-homemade-as-I-do-not-have-the-time comfort food to fight the exam blues.

Gula Melaka Biscuits

It's a sort of biscuit, with thick floury and buttery skin, wrapped around gula melaka, which is already all chewy and sweet. It has good combination of texture and taste which just have your hands keep crawling back into the box for more! By the way, the box is really cool, it has the picture of the Taiping lake garden at the top.

Now, I have to stop ranting or I’ll start to sound like a girl gone mad from studying, back to where I belong now, the books!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Cheesy Reward

Yesterday was the day I’m supposed to stay at home and hit the books. My final exam is just around the corner, and I have yet to start on my revision. It took me whole day to really start firing up. Once a while I would sneak into the net and surf the food-blogosphere, to torture myself with all the yummy food out there. I stumbled upon a recipe at Jennifer’s blog, Fallen Souffle, which immediately made me think of J. Yes, you got it right, to think of J, it has to be of cheese and something cake-like. His secret vice. It was Jennifer’s quick and easy Mini Cream Cheese Tarts that had caught my attention.

J and I were both “studying” at our own home, and only to meet at night. Besides the though of rewarding him for his hard work, I also remembered promising him a cake since it had been a long time he had indulged. We nearly went to a local cake shop few weeks ago, but it was too late and the shop is closed for the night. Thus I promised to make for him next time. So here is how I came up with my slightly tweaked version, which I called the

Cream Cheese Bites

I changed the recipe a bit to suit my taste and my pantry of course. First, I used considerably lesser sugar because I do not want it too be too sweet, it might drown the cheesiness out. Then, since I do not have any wafers, I decided to use the idea of regular cheese cake base, by crushing up oats crackers (this was what I have in stock, you can use anything else, like maybe the usual digestive biscuits), and then press it together as base. Lastly, I do not have any tangy jam to put on top of my cheese bites so I forego it, though I really think it would had been a really nice addition. After baking, the cheese bites puffed up, with one cracked up, and then when taken out, it fell a little. Be careful when removing it as it is really soft right out of the oven, which I had disfigured some of it.

225g softened cream cheese
½ cup sugar (or less)
1 egg
1tsp vanilla essence

6 oat crackers/biscuits

Preheat oven to 180C.
Coarsely grind oat biscuits till grainy, then press it into the muffin holes. (I used the back of a glass to compact it)
Then, cream together the cheese and sugar.
Add egg and vanilla essence, mix till incorporated.
Spoon onto the prepared oat base in the muffin tin.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes until set.
Allow it to cool down and refrigerated for better taste.
Then munch on!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Foodblogger's Meme Around The World

I have been tagged by Tazz on this wonderful meme. I read it the first time at FoodFreak that had made my day, and from there on I found many more blogs and interesting recipes through everybody’s recommendations. So on with mine:

  1. Please list three recipes you have recently bookmarked from foodblogs to try:

    Walnut Coffecake by SeaDragon from Café of the East (I had tried this, pictured above, J and I loved it!)
    Gingersnaps with Crystallized Ginger by Nic from Baking Sheet
    Dal Kachoris by Meena from Hooked on Heat

  2. A foodblog in your vicinity:
    I got a whole list at my Malaysia links on the right

  3. A foodblog (or more) located far from you:
    My Mom’s Recipe and More, Chanit in Israel

  4. A foodblog (or several) you have discovered recently (where did you find it?):
    Audrey Cooks (a Malaysian blogger I discovered recently from links)
    Pusiva’s Culinary Studio by Pushpa (I think I got to her blog from her comment at mine)
    Saffron Hut (through Anthony’s Curry Mela)

  5. Any people or bloggers you want to tag with this Meme?
    Well, I suppose I’m one of the late ones in this. If any of you have yet to do it and wanted to, you’re most invited to.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

1984: Birthday 2

I have talked about my good friends 1984 before, and about me making a pact to bake a cake for each and everyone of them this year for their birthday. A customized and personal cake for each of them. The second eldest in the group had her birthday in March, and again, due to all our busy schedules, we had a late celebration.

This birthday girl E, is practically the chatterbox of the group. She chatters about her daily life to us without fail, since eons ago, and she is the only one I know about her life inside out. She would be the one relating stories to each and everyone who is absent from our gatherings, filling in on all the details which I myself might have even overlooked or forgot even if I’m present. She is truly the heart of our 1984 channel of communication.

Well, to be honest, 1984 was not the same as it was before when we were young and carefree in our schooldays, where our only main concern was what to eat in ‘rehat’ (recess). But now, each and every one of us had grown in our own way, lead our own lives and hold to our own principles. Though we may not ever be the same crazy bunch anymore, but somehow our bond is still there. Somehow, somewhere inside us, a part of it is made up of 1984. I know, that no matter what happens in the future, I will always remember that I am who I am today, because a part of me inside is mold and made by them, my beloved 1984s.

Alright, lets get on with the cake! I got to stick to my foodblog theme after all. As for E, she did not make any specific request; she said ‘anything’, one of her favourite phrase. But after drilling her, I found she did not want cheese, no fruits, no nuts, maybe raisins and no coffee. Well, she certainly floored me. I was busy yesterday, due to an extended interview of another fellow 1984 that I took her to, thus leaving me little time to go out and get some crucial ingredients on a cake I initially intended to make. Therefore, I decided to change, flipped through my home baking recipe book and choose the recipe that I happen to have all the ingredients. I did go down to the mini market in my condominium to get the milk and eggs though, easily obtainable.

Caramel Layer Cake

The result of the cake was not really satisfactory. The recipe picture showed a slowly brown coloured cake, which I did not obtain, as I used red sugar (jaggery) instead of brown sugar (that’s what I have in my pantry). Therefore, the resulting cake looked deceivingly like chocolate cake, which J pointed out. The cake texture was not bad, soft and fluffy, but taste wise it was pretty bland, and the caramel coating was not at its best. I guess I made a mistake, taking for granted as one stage in the method requires boiling the mixture to 119C (soft ball stage which I don’t know what the heck is about) on a sugar thermometer (which I do not have). I have yet to make candy and now I know it is pretty impossible without the equipment. Nevertheless, a nice 1984 said yum, and the rest gobbled it without a word, heh, but my dear J tactfully said it’s not one of my best. But oh well, at least I tried a new recipe. Not for keepers and I’m not gonna share it here due to unsatisfactory rating from me. In fact, it is exactly the type of cake I would not buy from the bakery. Here’s the deceiving looking cake (pardon the spur of the moment decoration with icing):

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