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

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ultimate Chocolate Fix

Before this, during the summer at the other side of the world, the food blogging communities had gone into the frenzy of making icy desserts which got me totally hype up and weak to my knees. After all, living in this part of the world where it is practically summer everyday, it seems so right to have my icy treats all the time. I love the local favourite is of course such as ais kacang, sai mai lou and cendol, but sometimes, some dessert are just universal, yes, that is ice cream. I believe it is one dessert that no one can say no to, besides chocolate of course.

Well, after getting bombarded with all the ice creams, gelatos, sorbets and frozen yoghurts, I nearly succumb to getting an ice cream maker. I told myself, if I found one that I can afford, I would definitely buy it. Then one day, while out with J, at a fair, I saw a tiny one on promotion and nearly bought it but in the end got against it because it cannot fit into my mini refrigerator. I was nearly devastated. Then on that week itself, J’s mum wanted to exchange some gifts from the points she collected from the credit card, and voila, J chose that ice cream maker itself for me! I was totally ecstatic.

So it came, and I excitedly tried out a few recipes. My first banana ice cream, with my own adaptations of recipes came out too hard. I wouldn’t really call it ice cream though as I made it without cream, if you’re a long time reader, I mentioned before why I usually go for alternatives. Then the next one I tried was mango ice cream (I don’t really know what type so universally I will call it ice cream even without cream), using gelatin which has better texture. Then I tried one mango frozen yoghurt, which was also not so perfect yet.

Then I came across recipes for gelatos and I got hook instantly. No cream but still rich in its way. As gelatos are uncommon here, in fact I believe I never had one before, so I must try it! I was inspired by a recipe from The Traveler’s Lunchbox, where she explained what gelato is all about and then try out three different recipes for us to gape at. I chose the recipe that she and her husband decided was best.

Now the verdict from me? It was totally utterly (pardon the pun but it was necessary) delicious! Now I would understand what the craze about gelato is all about. The texture was just right with enough richness and feel, and the taste was incredible, the ultimate chocolate fix for any sudden crave. J mention it was a little bitter, but it was because of me as I had reduced the sugar level and used really dark chocolate due to my affinity for, of course chocolate, which I overlook as a personal preference. Nevertheless, J likes it too, and I promise to come up a vanilla (his favourite flavor) gelato soon. After this gelato, I believe I would never eat another chocolate ice cream again the same way.

Chocolate Gelato
Source: The Traveler’s Lunchbox

Although I had reduced the sugar content for my own version of chocolate heaven, I believe sticking to the original quantity below would be fine and safest for all to love. Anyhow, I believe it would be good. Oh ya, since my freezer was a quite strong, I would take the chocolate out and leave it for about 5 minutes (really impatiently) and then start digging in. Now I have to make another batch.

2 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
1 cup Dutch cocoa powder, sifted
4 large egg yolkspinch salt

Coarsely chop chocolate.
In a saucepan, bring milk, evaporated milk and half the sugar to a simmer, stirrin till the sugar dissolved.
Remove pan from heat and add the cocoa powder and chocolate, whisking till all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Get ready a large bowl of ice and cold water.
In a bowl, beat the yolks and remaining sugar and salt with electric mixer till thick and pale.
Add hot chocolate mixture in a slow stream, whisking, and pour into saucepan.
Then cook the custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a thermometer registers 160°F (for me, I follow Melissa’s advice and go by instinct, watching not to let it boil)
Pour custard through a sieve into a metal bowl set in ice and cold water and cool.
Chill custard, covered until cold and preferably overnight.
Then freeze custard in an ice-cream maker.
Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden for several hours.

Yield: about 1 quart.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Guest Post by L: Delicioso

This is another guest post from my dearest friend, which I would use as an escape for me from my own proper posting. Enjoy again on Penang food fare, but this time something of a hole in a wall, hidden even from most Penangites. It is no hawker food, but once in a while, even the most hawker food lover needs a break for some fresh style. Now let us see what L has brought us.

What’s with Mexican food? For one, I loved it to bits. And second, there’s never a joint here for Mexican till recently. Or at least, just recently, I found it. Penang isn’t just about the finding food at the usual places; it is the “Hole in the Wall” thing that appeals more to me.

So, it was a gloomy evening as my friend and I made our way on foot from Upper Penang Road to Little India. I love Little India as well. I will try blog about it in the near future as there are unanimously good banana leaf restaurants there.

As we sneaked our way through Chulia Street, we passed the Blue Diamond Inn – a backpackers place and one which serves Western and Mexican food! This isn’t the usual restaurant one would stop by for a meal, at least for me. It looks shady and ‘questionable’ but the sight of a Mexican food sign nailed outside the Inn is enough to convince us to stop by after our ‘trip’ to India.

The place was mostly young tourist lads. I wanted fajitas as I love anything with tortillas but *Pedro, a bandana clad moustache dude told me there was none. So I parted with the beef enchilada while my friend ordered chicken quesadilla.

I’m just kidding. The cook, *Pedro is obviously nicknamed by my friend and I. Heck, his picture is even on the Mexican food menu. Check that out if you are ever there. We wanted to believe that *Pedro was a runaway from Mexico after he accidentally murdered someone there. So with a glimpse a better future here, he opened his Mexican food joint here in Penang.

When he brought us our food, my friend asked if he’s from Mexico. All he did was looked at us and shook his head with cold gleaming eyes. Alright, he is obviously Malaysian who is pissed all the time. But hell, he cooks really good Mexican food.

My Beef enchilada is the best I ever had. The portion is huge. With minced beef, button mushrooms cooked in lots of spices wrapped with warm tortillas, I was struggling to finish it up. It was really delicious.

While it was the first time I tasted quesadilla, I loved it as well. Sandwiched between crisped, toasted tortillas are bits of chicken sautéed with tomatoes, capsicums, lettuce and cheese, topped with some chili sauce, it was spicy

Hey, this is probably the second to best authentic Mexican food ever here in Penang and given that *Pedro is Malaysian, he must had known what us Malaysian folks like – spicy food!

Then, it rained in between our meals. The heavy downpour ‘blessed’ our seats but we were too reluctant to move, indulging in our food. While we were dining, an older gentleman began serenading us with his ‘Kapok’ guitar. Obviously drunk, his intro to his song is 15 minutes of yapping, which he then proceeded to strum a couple of lines and went back to repeating the same words.
I loved the place! So down to earth and of course, a budget meal!

My enchilada is RM7 while my friend’s quesadilla is RM6. Don’t think there could ever be a more colorful meal – good & cheap food, dining in a backpacker’s inn, getting the feeling of being a tourist and getting entertained by a drunkard. I would definitely come back here for more action.

P/S: Mr. Drunkard is actually one hell of a guitar player. He once played in Oktoberfest, Munich. Boy, I’m sure he drinks everyday on his trip.

Blue Diamond Inn
Chulia St. Penang
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