have you ever had this nagging feeling of what to cook whenever a festive season is around the corner? what mood do i want to create? i want it to be different but not too overwhelming for my guests....who am i inviting? what is the occasion? are they adults or children? big eaters or mousy eaters? well there is room for everyone... read on.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Grilled Fish Day

Some people celebrate the "Groundhog Day", I make a point to dedicate at least one day a week to the fish. Today, I have decided to make a spicy grilled fish. Got myself 2 fairly large seabass from Labuan recently, so I guess nothing beats a steammy hot and spicy grilled fish eaten with steamed bismathi rice and some fresh cucumber slices. Hmm... hot, spicy and cooling. I certainly am making myself drool this time. Here goes....
1 seabass (its a siakap actually) approx. 800 gms
1 piece of banana leaf about 8" x 18"
1 tsp sea salt
Ingredient (A)
2 big fresh red chillies
3 small chilli padi (bird-eye chilli)
3 shallots
1 ginger root (1 inch)
4 clove garlic
Ingredient (B)
1 sprig curry leaf (roughly torn)
1 lemongrass (thinly sliced)
1 small bunga kantan (ginger flower, thinly sliced)
2 Tbsp dried shrimps (soaked in water, drained and pounded)
  1. Rub sea salt all over the fish including the cleaned belly.
  2. Clean the banana leaf and run it over fire or dip into hot water till it's a bit more flexible.
  3. Pound ingredient (A) using a mortar and pestle till fine.
  4. Add in ingredient (B), stir evenly. Put all the ingredients into the fish belly and on the fish, then wrap it with the banana leaf and fasten with some toothpicks. Drizzle some olive oil on the fish.
  5. Heat the grill and cook fish for 20 minutes or just pop it into the oven at 190 degrees. Serve immediately with hot rice. One suggestion, eat using your fingers not fork and spoon, this will take your meal to a totally different level. Try it!

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Typical Weekend Dinner

On weekends when we are not out food hunting, a simple home-cooked meal is most comforting. Whenever my family get together, we will always find a reason to eat. Here is one of our home-cooked dinners.
Petai. You either love it or you don't, simple as that. It's definitely an acquired taste. I have got to know people who are totally not adventurous with food but they seem to drool over petai. Petai prawns, petai with sambal belacan, petai curry etc... This famous little green bean has gone a long way since its humble beginning, which was then eaten raw dipped in sambal belacan.
I have cooked it in many ways but still love it best stir-fried in sambal belacan hae bee (dried shrimps). Here's my recipe for all those petai lovers out there!
600 gms freshly peeled petai (cut the beans in half to make sure there are no worms hidden inside or else hmmm yum! delicious worms!)
300 gms dried shrimps (pre-soaked in warm water and drained)
200 gms fresh red chilles
3 shallots
1 piece of toasted belacan (prawn paste - 2 cm square)
1 Tbsp assam paste (soaked in hot water, throw away the seeds and retain the assam water)
6 Tbsp olive oil
  1. Pound chillies, shallots and belacan into a fine texture.
  2. Add in shrimps and continue to pound till shrimps are blended in together with the chilli paste.
  3. Heat oil in a wok and pour in the pounded ingredients, fry till fragrant and add in assam paste water.
  4. Simmer for about 15 minutes and finally add in the petai and stir for 5 minutes.
  5. Petai is served.
My next dish is the "Braised Pork Thigh". I must admit, this dish is pretty high on cholestral and fats but then again to console myself, I don't eat this everyday. Well, here is goes.
Pork thigh (1.5 kg) - otherwise known as "thui kut"
3 Tbsp olive oil
5 cloves of crushed garlic with skin
5 star anise
7 cloves
10 crushed black pepper
2 cinnamon sticks
7 coriander seeds
4 Tbsp oyster sauce
4 Tbsp scallop sauce
2 Tbsp black soya sauce
3 Tbsp light soya sauce
2 dried oysters
1 dried octopus tentacle
100 ml vegetable stock
  1. Heat oil in a braising pot, throw in the garlic.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and vegetable stock.
  3. Boil for 20 minutes.
  4. Put in the pork thigh and simmer for 4 hours, turning the thigh from time to time to avoid burning.
  5. Ready to serve.

Whenever I get my hands on big fresh prawns, I can never resist making this dish. It's easy and does not need much ingredients cos fresh prawn themselves are already deliciously sweet and tasty.
All you need is to trim off those pokey edges of the prawns and marinate with some sea salt. When dinner is about to be served, heat up some olive oil in the wok and put in the prawns. Stir-fry till fragrant and serve. This is a dish worth trying cos it doesn't take much effort.
To wash down all those rich food, I've decided to make a simple soup using my vegetable stock (refer to My Malaysian Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner). Bring the vegetable stock to boil and add some greens and black chinese mushrooms. The vegetable I used in the photograph is the chinese 'Thong Hoe" (asian lettuce) but you can substitute it with any green leafy vegetables eg baby spinach, choy sum (flowering cabbage) or chan choy (ceylon spinach). Lastly, sea salt and pepper to taste. Bon appetite!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Stubborn itchy coughs?

Hey everyone! Weather has been quite unpredictable lately, one minute hot and humid the next minute, thunder storm. Since the 4th day of Chinese New Year , I caught a nasty flu bug and ended with a very irritating itchy cough. My sister reminded me of this refreshing brew mom used to make whenever we were under the weather. It is suppose to help eliminate phelgmy itchy coughs. It's pretty easy to brew and tastes delicious too. I know, this is not exactly the type of brew one serves for a gathering but it always has plenty of takers.
One can easily purchase a packet or two from the local chinese medical shops. It consists of dried honey dates, dried figs, dried sliced pears, chinese almond and a piece of sweetened dried mandarin orange. A packet of RM5.00 is enough for a family of 4 -5 persons. It is also children friendly cos it's sweet and will not overdose.
To brew it, just put 3 litres of filtered water into a soup pot, pour in all the contents and boil steadily for 1 hour. After that, you may drink it all day long. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Herbs and Spices Anyone?

Most of my recipes call for fresh ingredients. I specially want to dedicate this post to all my good old faithful herbs, spices and root vegetables. This may sound strange but without them ... I will definately have no recipes to share and that would be ashame.
Garlic - what surprises me is that it is actually from the 'Onion family'. This God given little fellow is famed for its ability to intensify and enhance the flavours of whatever it is cooked with. It also contains quite a number of nutritional and medicinal properties eg. helps reduce cholestral and blood pressure, prevents mild coughs and colds, increases blood circulation and acts as a mild antibiotic. I for one is more interested in its flavour more than anything else.
Ginger - is the most widely used ingredient for seasoning throughout Asia. Its aromatic fragrance is enough to unblock any stuffy nose. The thinly sliced young ginger goes very well with chinese braised chicken whereas the older ginger root is more popular with dishes cooked specially for the new mother in 'confinement'. It is believe to eliminate flatulence, promotes blood circulation and helps alleviate the common cold.
Curry leaves - this leaf and curry goes hand in hand just like ebony and ivory on a piano. It is easily cultivated, not too big a plant for a pot in the back garden or even on a balcony. The flavour is faintly spicy and very aromatic. It is also known to control high blood pressure if chewed daily.
Coriander (Cilantro) - I must admit, I was not really fond of this herb. A friend of mine actually nicknamed it "tiok ceeh kia chai" in other words ... herb that can send a shock down your system. Yea, it's that strong. It is popularly used as a garnish on soups, chicken rice, fried noodles etc. The dish that taught me how to appreciate this humble herb is the "Thai Tom Yam". Now I find myself buying it everytime I see it. Strange eh?
Star anise - my magic star, really. Comes from a magnolia tree family. It is usually dried and looks like an eight point star shaped seed. Adds an aromatic flavour to pork and chicken dishes.
Kaffir lime leaves - These leaves comes from a citrus plant. The fruit (lime) and the leaves can both be eaten. The leaf is easily recognizable cos it looks very much like a figure 8 and its fragrance is very intense. A basic curry chicken dish can be totally transformed just by adding some of these leaves.
Lemongrass - Looks a bit like a bulb leek, only differ in colour. The only edible part of this herb is the lower portion till about 5 inches up. It is widely used in Southeast Asian cooking can be grown easily in our warm and rainy climate. Lemongrass has a strong lemony flavour and aroma, used in curries, gulais, salads and even soups.
Clove - It looks like a small dried nail and has very strong flavour and scent. The clove is the flower buds from the myrtle tree family. I even see it being used as an ornamental spice where they poke them into oranges and displayed in a bowl or just hung up.
When storing dried spices and herb, always opt for the dark coloured airtight glass bottles as shown on the left. Actually, these bottles are my life-time collection from eating lotsa Bovril and Marmite.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Mom's Spicy Snack

I guess you guys out there must be wondering what this is. This is not common food especially in the Klang Valley. It is just a type of appetiser, something to hit your taste buds and create an appetite for your meal. Nothing to it really, just a sirih leave (plucked from my back garden), some crushed peanut candy, 2-3 small pieces of bird-eye chilli and some toasted dried shrimps. You'll be surprise what this little bugger can deliver to your taste buds. My mom loves it and so do I now.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Baby Full Moon Fare

One thing for sure being chinese definately has its perks...we get to eat all the time. If we can eat in our sleep, we would have done so. When a newborn turns one month old, once again, it's time for a celebration feast. We call that a "Baby Full Moon Fare".
I had the priviledge to host a few of them this few years and it was a wonderful experience for me. This celebration is a modest gathering served at home and the guests are usually close relatives and close friends. These special dishes served are cooked following the chinese tradition.They are mainly the braised pig trotter in black vinegar, chicken in rice wine, curry chicken served with yellow glutinous rice, some red eggs, pickled ginger slices and a traditional dessert called "ang ku" which actually is a sweetened green bean paste wrapped in a red chewy pastry. I have some of these on photos just for your browsing pleasure.
My very own curry chicken recipe for this occassion
This recipe is more to my personal liking. You can make variations by adding some potatoes, kaffir lime leaves or tomatoes along to way. I like to use free-range chicken eventhough some may not appreciate it cos it is not very fleshy. As for me I love the tiny boney bits especially when it's totally soaked in the curry gravy.
1 free range chicken (1.5 kg) cut into bite size pieces 5 Tbsp olive oil for stir-fry
INGREDIENTS Combination (A) 1 bulb garlic 10 shallots 10 dried chillies (seeded and soaked) 6 fresh red chillies 6 fresh bird-eye chillies Combination(B) Curry chicken powder 1 Tbsp tumeric powder 1 tsp white sugar 2 star anise 5 cloves 1 cinnamon stick 2 sticks curry leaves
2 lemongrass
100ml full cream milk
sea salt to taste
  1. Pound all combination (A) ingredients in a mortar will fine and paste like.
  2. Heat up oil in a curry pot and stir-fry (tumis) combination (A) till fragrant.
  3. Add combination (B)
  4. Stir a while and put in all chicken pieces, stir till chicken is semi-cooked and add water a little at a time. Bring to boil then simmer for 30 mins.(I like my curry gravy to have a slow trickling effect when I dip in my toasted french bread and chomp it)
  5. Add milk and salt to taste.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

My Malaysian Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner

In our chinese culture, Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner is a must and that's when everyone in the family will gather and have a feast. This is a time to catch up with our love ones and family and have a great time. One of my all time favourite is the "Traditional Chinese Steamboat". Just love whole package of eating fresh food dunked into a pot of hot bubbling clear soup with aromatic steam filling the dinning room. Hmmmm makes me hungry just thinking about it. The best part in a steamboat is that you can cook whatever you like in the soup and eat whatever you like and however much you like. Here is my own personal steamboat recipe I like to share with you.

I like vegetarian stock for the soup, you can replace it with chicken soup if you like but I thought this vegetarian stock really brings out the sweetness of the fresh meat and vegetables dunked in.

Vegetable Stock for soup 500 gm fresh soya bean sprouts (otherwise known as taugeh) 10 small dried chinese mushrooms - soak them in boiling water for 20 mins before use 6 stalks of spring onions (also known as scallions) - wash and tie them in a knot for better flavour 3 litres of water 4 Tbsp of Chinese rice wine (Shao Hsin fragrant rice wine) 2 tsp of sea salt Makes approx. 2 litres of stock. Fit for freezing.

  • Fill a stock pot with 3 litres of filtered water, then put in the sprouts, mushrooms and spring onions and bring it to boil.
  • Once bubbling, reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
  • Leave to cool for a while, then strain out all solids.
  • Return liquid to pot and add rice wine and salt.
  • Bring to boil for 5 minutes and set to cool.
  • Place stock in a large steamboat wok (approx. 15 in diameter) and bring to boil when dinner starts.

Raw and marinated ingredients to dunk into the hot simmering soup

2 thinly sliced raw pork fillets (marinated with 6 Tbsp light soya sauce, 1 Tbsp dark soya sauce, 2 Tbsp julienne of ginger, 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp brown sugar, 6 Tbsp ginger wine, sea salt and pepper to taste)

1 kg of large fresh prawns, shelled and deveined (marinated with 3 Tbsp finely sliced spring onions, 2 Tbsp julienne of ginger, 3 Tbsp of Shao Hsin rice wine, sea salt and pepper to taste)

500 gms thinly sliced Australian chuck beef (marinated with 1 Tbsp light soya sauce, 1 Tbsp Lea & Perrin sauce, 3 Tbsp Red wine, 1 tsp brown sugar, 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper and sea saltto taste)

500 gms thinly sliced free range chicken fillets (marinated with 1 Tbsp sesame oil, 2 Tbsp oyster sauce, Shao Hsin rice wine, 2 Tbsp julienne of ginger, 1 tsp brown sugar, sea salt and pepper to taste)

500 gms thinly sliced fish fillets (marinated with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp sesame oil, 2 Tbsp finely sliced coriander, 2 Tbsp ginger paste, 1 tsp white sugar, sea salt and pepper to taste)

3 giant squid cut to your liking (marinated with 1 Tbsp ginger paste, 1 Tbsp fresh bird eye chilli paste, 1 tsp brown sugar, a dash of fish sauce, juice of 1 lime, sea salt and pepper to taste)

2 dozens fresh scallops, 1 bunch choy sum, 1 bunch siew pak choy, 1/2 bunch fresh mint leaves, 1/2 bunch coriander, 1/2 bunch spring onions, 1 medium sized chinese white cabbage, some fresh mushrooms, 2-3 bunches enoki mushrooms, some tung fun, chinese black fungus (soaked in water first), 1 dozen century quails eggs and 10 pre-boiled quails eggs

Dipping sauces and condiments

Garlic oil (1 bulb of finely chopped garlic sauteed in olive oil till lightly brown and aromatic)

Sambal belacan (5 big red chillies, 5 small bird-eye chillies, 1 piece of toasted belacan or prawn paste, juice of 2 limes, sea salt all pounded together in a mortar until it becomes a paste)

10 bird-eye chillies (finely cut and served soaked in light soya sauce)

Monday, February 13, 2006

First post

Hello Everyone, welcome to my blog, please be patient cos this whole blog thingi is relatively new to me. I am most at home when it comes to food, glorious food and not websites. This site is my personal dedication to all food lovers out there cos I love to share my passion on food with you ...please stay tune ... more to come .
About Me  
I'm Audrey from Somewhere in my kitchen, Malaysia.

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