Wednesday, August 31, 2005

No catchy title just food!

I couldn't think of anything catchy to say about this post so feel free to suggest! Sue is on holiday in Sydney and I've been entrusted with keeping her blog going. So, here we have tonight's dinner.

Loads of food to feed only 2! To start with there was arrowroot (feng ge in Mandarin) soup boiled with pork ribs and red dates. The arrowroot is a thick fibrous root which looks a lot like a yam. The outer bark is peeled off and then the root is chopped into smaller pieces. The chopping of the root into pieces is literally hell to go through as its hard as a rock! I usually have to use something heavy to whack the cleaver or it just won't cut through the root. I boiled the soup for about 2 hours so it was nice and thick and absolutely yummy. Its supposed to be good for soothing the throat which is just as well as I have been feeling under the weather lately.

Next up was steamed egg custard (in the bowl) which is essentially 2 eggs whipped with the trusty chopstick and seasoned then steamed in the wok for about 10 minutes. It turned out my typical holey texture which frustrates me to no end as I have been trying my utmost best to get the smooth texture that my grandmother makes i.e. similar to chawan mushi texture egg custard. But no luck this time. Anyone with suggestions on how to get the smooth chawan mushi texture feel free to tell me! It may have been the amount of water - not enough? too much?? But it was nice if I don't say so myself! haha...

For vegetables there was "choi sum fa" or sawi with flowers. Just a simple chinese style stirfry with garlic as I didn't want it to clash or overwhelm the palate in light of the last meat dish I had to offer.

The last dish I erm... dished out (no pun intended) was something I shall call Seasoned Grilled Pork Ribs with Garlic Sauce. I had some pork ribs leftover from the soup so I created a grilled rib dish that turned out surprisingly nice! The ribs had been marinated for a few hours with oyster sauce and a dash of montreal steak mix and basil. I then browned it on all sides on a hot grill pan to seal the juices then finished it off under a hot grill. It took only about 15 minutes for it to be thoroughly cooked - you can't be too careful with pork. The final result was a slightly smokey flavoured rib.

Then, feeling it might be too dry, I proceeded to whip up a sauce to accompany the ribs. I melted butter and threw in 2 cloves of chopped garlic, mixed in a dash of oyster sauce, added some water, some black sauce for colour and finally a dash of chinese shaoxing cooking wine. It turned out that it went superbly with the grilled meat as it had a slightly tangy sweet taste due to the wine and garlic, tempered by the mellow taste of the butter. The sauce even went well with the bland meat from the soup. Hurrah for new recipies!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Off to see the Wizard of Oz!

Erm...just to see Oz actually! :p Yes, I'll be jetting off to sunny Sydney! Be back on September 11 with yummy Aussie food pictures! :)

I'll be handing over the blog baton to my dear Sis and Eternity - don't leave it empty! Hehe..

Thanks for dropping by! *waves from airport limousine*



Chicken fit for an Emperor

It was a lazy Sunday and after that hearty meal at Asia Cafe, it was a welcome change to cook something light and simple for dinner. Looking around the house, I found a packet of "Emperor Chicken" mix we had bought some time back to try.

The top left corner (sorry, not very clear!) said that the wrappers for the chicken were even included! Perfect for people like us who never have these things whenever we need them! Perhaps one day chicken will be included too?! :)

It was an easy task of rubbing the mix all over and inside the chicken, wrapping it up in the first plastic wrapper...

...followed by the second foil wrapper and putting it into steam for approximately 2 hours.

After 2 hours, the packet was opened to reveal a fragrant and tender Emperor chicken! The herbs had infused nicely into the flesh which gave it a nice herby taste. The sweetness of the chicken too had collected in a broth which made delicious drinking. The chicken was tender but not "meat-falling-off-the-bone-tender" which I expected. Maybe it had to be steamed a little longer as we had to open the wok lid halfway to add in more water.

I think I'll try it next time with additional herbs like red dates, ke chi (Chinese wolfberries) and yuk chok for better taste and herbal properties!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Asia Cafe!

Asia Cafe is a new swanky food court that has come up in SS15, Subang Jaya. It's opposite Inti College and has a mind-boggling variety of food stalls with all kinds of interesting food.

Parents were here on Friday night so we decided to head out there for a nice Friday dinner. We got there to find that Sis and her DB (Dinner Buddy) had started the ordering session and the table was already laden with food!

This were kebabs from a nice Italian man. It had generous chunks of beef and veges and went well with the special sauce.

This was Sarawak kolo mee. It's hand-made noodles tossed in seasoning and sesame oil and garnished with slices of charsiew, minced pork, fishcakes and veges. Goes very well with pickled green chillies!
We're big fans of Korean food so dinner usually includes something from this nice Korean-run family stall with pretty good and authentic Korean food.

We had bibimbap which is rice with veges, kimchi (Korean pickled vege), beef and a fried egg. The secret lies in the gochujang which gives it that nice spicy taste.

To eat, you mix it all up with your chopsticks or fork and dig in!
They had also ordered mandu which are pan-fried Korean meat dumplings served with a spicy dipping sauce.

We took a breather with the jumbo-sized juices they have while others took a walk to see what else to order. See the size of the glass?! The juice is nice and thick, unlike some places which try to pass off diluted stuff for juice!

Dad came back with a Vietnamese lemongrass chicken rice. It had a good-sized fried chicken leg fillet which had been flavoured with lemongrass. It tasted a little like Malay-style fried chicken.

Bro had the calzone from the pizza stall. They do really nice Italian-style thin crust pizzas for a decent price.
Feeling like some grilled fish, I headed over to make my pick from a wide range of seafood from the Portugese grilled fish stall.
It came looking spicy! Under all that lime, ladies fingers and chilli is a fish! It was quite fresh and soft. And tasted delicious with the chilli, which wasn't as spicy as it looks!
For veggie intake, we also had four-angle beans with squid. It came sizzling on a hot plate lined with banana leaves. Sadly, the four-angle beans were too old and tough.

Finally, the highlight of the night (what we were really there for!) - the Chilli Crabs! There's a stall there specialising in Chilli Crabs for RM13 a plate. You get 11/2 crabs cooked in a thick, sweet chilli gravy.
And for RM2 more you get a loaf of fried mantou to mop up all that delicious sauce with!
The after-math! :p This is why Asia Cafe's such a nice dinner choice! All kinds of food varieties to suit every tastebud in a nice and comfortable environment!

Friday, August 26, 2005

South Indian Curry

Old Mother Hubbard,
Went to the cupboard,
To get her poor doggie a bone,
When she got there,
The cupboard was bare,
So the poor little doggie had none.

Yep, our cupboards have been as bare as poor ol' Mother Hubbard's! So no cooking experiments recently. Bro and I went for a short walk around Taipan USJ yesterday trying to find something to eat. Nothing appealed so in the end, we had to settle for hawker fare.

That banner is a little twisted but it proudly proclaims "South Indian Curry".

When we went closer, we saw that the stall had been reviewed by the Star before! And it was unique as it was a Chinese stall selling good Indian curries. Bro opted to try the Indian rice and the young boy behind the stall got busy.

The variety of dishes was quite extensive and it did smell spicy and good.

The pots at the lower right hand corner are the curries he pours over the rice before he serves you. A little like nasi kandar style.

This was Bro's rice for RM5.20. It came served on a piece of banana leaf and the rice was nicely drowned in various curries.

This is the close-up of his rice. He had mutton curry with potatoes, cabbage and a dry spicy chicken with lots of dried chillies. The chicken was nice but he had a lot of trouble eating it as it was full of small bones. And halfway through, the poor boy swallowed a bone! He had to swallow a mouthful of rice to ease the discomfort. The seller should use bigger pieces instead!

I had soup instead. I ordered this from a stall selling "Home Cooked Dishes and Soup". Whatever they sold was written in Mandarin, which I couldn't read and with my limited Cantonese, I managed to ask what soups they had. He reeled off a long list and all I understood was lotus root and peanut soup! So this was what I had!

At RM3.70 a bowl, they were quite generous with their ingredients. It had a good portion of lotus root with red dates and dried squid.

There were several slices of lean pork and innards as well. The soup had the nice, full-bodied taste of a well boiled soup. The dried squid and red dates gave a certain sweetness to the soup.

The beauty of hawker centres - it has such a wide variety of food to cater for every tastebud!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Vietnam Kitchen

I love Vietnamese food! From the first time I squatted down in a tiny shop to eat a steaming hot and fragrant bowl of pho at 5am in Hanoi, I was in love! So, on Monday night when parents and brother were craving something light and simple, Vietnam Kitchen nearby was an easy choice!

We hadn't been to Vietnam Kitchen in a while and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had revamped their menu. Their menu is more extensive now and filled with all sorts of mouth-watering pictures. But with the new menu comes new prices! It's a slight increase from the last time we've eaten there but I guess that's inevitable with the petrol hike!

It featured snacks, mains and drinks. The leftmore picture is a plate of Vietnamese cold cuts and ham. We tried it once when it very first opened and it was an interesting dish. It was a little like the European cold cuts but with a much stronger and meatier flavour.

There's a myriad of pho (or rice noodle soup) available with all sorts of combinations. We settled for the Beef Combination Pho. And what a coincidence it is that my sis ate pho too in her earlier post!

They have lots of interesting drinks too, like ciku shakes! Dad had the Vietnamese water chestnut drink (left) while Bro had the Vietnamese 6 Treasure drink at RM3.90 a piece. Dad's drink had strands of egg swirling in it and generous bits of water chestnut. It was nice cold but got a little filling and cloying after a while. Bro's was a sweet concoction of snow fungus, red dates, jelly strips, longan and preserved grapes. I can't remember the 6th "treasure"! It's refreshing and tasted a little like our lin chee kang.

Service is fast and we didn't have long to wait before our 1st order came. This is the Vermicelli Combination Plate (RM23.90). It's my parents' favourite order. Clockwise from the top are: vermicelli, stirfried beef, stirfried chicken, cha gio (crispy spring roll), beef balls, minced prawn on sugarcane, fresh lettuce, fresh beansprouts, starfruit, sliced cucumber, preserved carrot and mint leaves. And in the centre are two dipping sauces - Nuoc mam (fish sauce) and thick sweet sauce. It comes with a plate of dry rice paper sheets and a bowl of hot water and brush to soften the sheets.

This is how you assemble it! Soften the rice paper, lay a letture leaf, pile on the veges, beef/chicken, wrap it up like popiah and enjoy! You can either dip it in the Nuoc mam or sprinkle some on before wrapping it up. It's refreshingly delicious and a nice starter to have, or it can be a meal in itself if you're a small eater.

Next up is our pho. It's hor fun type noodles in a beefy broth with slices of tender beef, tripe and beef balls. It comes with a plate of mint, raw beansprouts and a wedge of lemon. Pour them all into the soup, squeeze the lemon over it and get ready to tuck in! The soup has a nice, clean beef flavour accentuated by the sharpness of the onion and lemon. Delicious! :)

Our last order was a 1 person portion of Duck Porridge at RM9.90. We were shocked at the size of the porridge bowl! A huge portion for one! It was an interesting style of porridge - rice cooked with green mung beans and sprinkled with a generous portion of fried and spring onions. The mung beans lent it a sweetness that was rather unique.

It came with this side plate of duck. Underneath all that peanut garnish is a generous portion of sliced duck sitting on a bed of blanched beansprouts. Dad truly enjoyed it, especially since it was right in front of him! It was an interesting dish though, something different and new to try!

Our bill came up to approximately RM60 for 4 of us, with tax and service charge. It wasn't too bad as the portions were generous and everyone enjoyed their meal tremendously. A small price for great family time together.

Hot MAMA!!!!

I just got guest blogging rights!! Now to run wild hahaha... Ok not really. Lunch Buddy (LB) and I wanted something quick and nice in Sungei Wang Plaza so we ventured up to what was formerly the food court of this shopping centre. The front portion is now taken up by this restaurant known as "Hot Mama". Its on the upper most floor and accessible by escalator from the bottom directly into the restaurant, or by stairs and a convoluted maze if accessing it from the rooftop.

The restaurant is done up in a 70s retro style with orange bead curtains around round central columns and yellow and orange plastic chairs and geometrical designs on the walls. Yeah Baby!!! Air conditioning can be cold so try not to sit in the direct path of the blowers or you'd freeze.

Onto the food. Hot Mama serves a fusion style menu with Vietnamese food taking top billing. Prices are fair and start from RM8.90 for mains. Appetizers are few but interesting like Deep fried prawn and banana rolls. They have a set menu available for RM9.90 consisting of a main and an ice lemon tea. That was what I and LB opted for this time.

I had the Special Beef Noodle Soup which is Hot Mama's take on the vietnamese favourite Pho. The soup was tasty with a subtle flavour of beef broth and had a mixture of slices of beef meat, beef brisket, tendon and 2 beef balls. The noodle is kuey teow and there were generous helpings of tauge and fresh mint and red chilli, onions various other herbs. It is usually RM8.90 but for RM9.90 I got all that with an ice cold ice lemon tea drink.

I had tried this the last time and enjoyed it. Today however, whilst everything else was fine and delicious, the beef ball tasted off. When we told the waiter, he went to check with the kitchen and confirmed that the beef balls which were supposed to be kept in a cold area were not, and so they were off! He was nice enough to offer to replace the bowl even though I had nearly finished it by then! But I declined as I couldn't see myself eating another giant bowl of noodles, and so he nicely offered instead NOT to charge for my set meal! Thats customer service for you!!

LB on the other hand, opted for the Lemongrass chicken set meal. Its a chicken chop marinated in lemongrass (serai) and served very prettily with rice shaped into a block, and a poached egg (the white blob in the picture) I felt the meat was rather small even if it was delicious. For a meat eater like me, it would be quite insufficient. The poached egg was also over cooked as the yolk was hard. So overall, I'd say whilst it is nice and satisfactory, it is not something I'd recommend due to the portion size.

For dessert, we had ice cream with lotus seed paste pancake. The lotus seed pancake was rather bland but played good counterpoint to the vanilla ice cream which was sweet. The lotus seed paste was wrapped in crispy flaky pastry and served hot with 2 slices of orange on top of it. There was another more interesting dessert which was steamed tapioca which you just don't get anymore in restaurants, but they serve it here at Hot Mama. Maybe next time.

So all in all, I'd say it was a good dining experience (bar the balls) and the prices are reasonable for the portions you get. Ambiance is good but the hard chairs/benches do not encourage you to linger. Food presentation gets the thumbs up as does the taste. Give Hot Mama a shot the next time you are in Sungei Wang and don't know what to eat.