Sunday, January 28, 2007

My new oven!

Yay! I finally got myself an oven. I had been fidgetting whether to get a microwave and an oven separately or to just get a microwave+grill+convection (3-in-1). After an afternoon of surveying the various electrical shops with my mom and pop, (they sure love scouting for appliances. My dad of course is the same old same old, heads straight to see wat's new at the home theatre system section)

So! most basic microwaves (without grill or bake functions) cost approximately rm300-rm500. That's pretty affordable. BUT when you add in the grill and bake functions, the price skyrockets to 1.5K minimum! whoooaaa. and the sizes are humongous. They can't seem to make them smaller. AND they are mega heavy ok.. Sigh, i guess these factors deterred me completely. My kitchen worktop isnt the tough, granite kind so i doubt it'd be able to stand the weight of a MAMAmicrowave man. PLUS i think it'd also take up the entire space of my already tight worktop space.

So! i decided to just go for an oven first. i can continue to heat up my food with my trusty MAXIM pans. No killer Waves here haha!

Then! AAAAUUUUugghhhhhh.... proper brands like Elba were scarce. All 3 major shops didnt carry it. Sharp, Panasonic etc apparently dont make electrical ovens anymore! they're all going for the super 3-in1 microwaves... Sigh, guess more money to make there. Electrical ovens just cost around rm150-rm300. Boo! well, no can do. I came to get an oven and an Oven i'm gonna get! so help me!

So i finally decided on this...

my SASAKI oven. See it all new and gleaming......
Cost - rm299. On promo!
34L capacity, a large bird can fit in - no problem. (so said the shop guy)
Stainless stell housing for that ultra-modern look
Rotisserie and grilling functions
Non-stick inner coating, just gotta wipe down the oil.grease stains. ha.

Wot a catch! except... anybody heard of SASAKI?

Sweet & Sour Chicken (pork)

I finally attempted to cook this dish! (suppose to be with pork actually but the chicken was freezing in my freezer for way too long..)

A. Preparing the chicky
Marinate the slices of chicken with pepper, salt, sugar, Ng Heong Fun (Chinese 5 spice powder) - like pro eh? - and dark soy sauce. I was paranoid that the chicken would 'smell' a little since it wasnt the freshest i've ever cooked with so i added some slices of ginger as well (hoping the juice will seep into the chicken - i MUST get the ginger/garlic press thingy soon).
Next, crack an egg over the chickies and mixed them up - this gluey egg will help the Kentucky flour to stick better. Add in the Kentucky flour and mess them up to get them coated evenly.

B. Preparing the veggies
Cut up onions, green pepper and tomatoes. I cut them into chunky pieces so that they would stay crunchy and juicy when cooked.

Heat up some oil in the pan and deep fry the chickies. Turn them over till golden brown. They smell real good here!

C. Preparing the sauce
Heat up some oil and sesame oil. Add in tomato sauce and chilly sauce, pepper and salt. According to Amy Beh, I should add in some black vinegar but i didnt have any in stock. When it starts to boil, add in thickener (corn starch and water) .

Now throw in the chickies and stir to coat them evenly with the sauce.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Back to cooking!

I must admit that I have not been cooking for close to a month now *wink. I was really busy, at one point got sick with the world's most vicious stomach flu, then just didn't have the mood / inspiration to cook, let alone go grocery shopping (and tat's sayin sumthin coz i never let up a chance to buy stuff!)

Anyway, I got the cooking bug again - yay for my hubby! or not? hee hee. Ok so the main dish - Sea Perch with Oyster Sauce! Sounds yum yea? I got sold by this lady who caught me while i was all vulnerable pushing my empty shopping cart up and down the meat section. She pounced on me, asking ever so sweetly if I would like to try this new fish the supermarket was starting to import. And she even went into detail to teach me 2 methods to cook it. So I went for the easy one first - of course la.

You don't have to wash the fish much, just a light rinse will do so that you dont wash off the 'sweetness'. Rub a little oil on the steaming plate to avoid the fish sticking to it. Pour oyster sauce over the fish (Lee Kum Kee is so much better than the previous brand i tried - "Taste me") and sprinkle a generous amount of young ginger and a dash of sesame oil. Voila! Cooks in just 10 mins. The flesh was really tasty and sweet - not a hint of fishy smell at all!

I also whipped up some spinach. Can you imagine this is the first time i'm cooking spinach? I just realised how boring my cooking has been - all i've ever tried for veggies were broccoli, french beans and long beans, broccoli, french beans and er, long beans...
Back to the topic - Just a quick stir fry over a hot wok with lots of garlic and here we go Popeye!

Next was a simple steamed taufu. I've never been able to remove the taufu from the packet without breakin it. Anyone knows how to do this? So I always end up with bits left in the box and i gotta scrape it out. :( Steamed it with some oyster sauce and sesame oil. Stir fried some dried shrimps and then sprinkled it on top with dried onions and soy sauce.

Finished off our dinner with fresh fruits - kiwis and persimmons - ooooOOoo are we like healthy or what?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Penang Food Trail - 2

Wrapping up our food journey. We left Penang early to catch lunch at Ipoh ( we didn't manage to eat their famous Ngar Choy Kai on the way up).

Apparently there's like half a dozen shops along this stretch - the reportedly famous one - Lou Wong restaurant wasnt open so we ate at Onn Kee, which is just right next to Lou Wong.

The chicken was tender and juicy, doused in light soy sauce with sprinklings of spring onion. I'm sure there's lots of other stuff they added coz it was sooooo delicious. No time to blink also, everyone grabbing it - phew!

There's something about the taugeh in Ipoh. It's fatter, crunchier and naturally sweet on its own. Sigh, we don;t get these sort of taugeh in KL. They're all limp and skinny here :(

And of course we couldnt miss out the pork balls! wah! even these were bigger than those we eat in KL. Springy and full of porky taste - yum!

After that, E said there was a famous stall just round the corner selling Tau Foo Fah (hubby's favourite!). It looked like a small, humble stall from the outside, BUT the Tau Foo Fah was super smooth, melt-in-your mouth - and it was CHEAP too! (only rm0.70/bowl). You can choose to have it with normal sugar syrup, brown sugar syrup or sugar syrup with ginger) AHHhhhhh...

There! I've finally finished my post!

Heh, heh where to next?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Penang Food Trail

yes, this is how we spend our day offs... eating and planning eating trips. And yes, I gained 1 kg and a week of constipation from this "discover food adventure."

Partners in crime: my dear hubby, EL and CCH.

First stop: Ipoh town for some famous Ipoh Hor Fun (@ a shop opposite Nam Heng restaurant). The white coffee wasnt that great. In fact, i prefer the one in our very own TeoChew restaurant along Jalan Pahang. This coffee was kinda bland whereas the one I like has this unique 'burnt' coffee bean taste which adds to its flavour and aroma.

Anyway, I developed a sudden urge to buy stools (hey wat were u thinking?! wooden stools la) or a bench, those found in any typical kopitiam shop. We walked around in search of it but no go :( however, we did chance upon a sort of wholesaler of ceramics and plastic ware. Hee hee, well! if i ain't gonna be able to get em stools, nothin's gonna stop me getting those "famous" kopitiam-type cups and saucers. i bought 4 sets, each set costs rm 4 only! wot a steal!

Onwards! we travelled for another 2 hours plus and managed to find our hotel VISTANA without much ado. dumped our stuff and practically ran out in search of food as we were totally famished!

what luck! we were driving towards Air Itam and was passing through the market street when E shouted - look! the asam laksa stall is still open!! (@ the Chop Wah Chee coffeeshop near Kek Lok Si temple). well, OF COURSE we parked the car in a jiffy and proceeded to also park our bums at the stall haha.

Orders were quickly made but we just couldnt wait for the asam laksa so we (or rather i) ordered a quick snack of popiah, just beside the laksa stall. It was YummiLICIOUS! look at the pix yourself! mm-mmm... cripsy on the outside with piping hot, sweet, crunchy yet juicy stuffings of seng kuang and wat not... sorry, i'm not good with details but all i can say is, this was the BEST popiah i have EVER had! yum YUM!

and then, our assam laksa arrived!!! YAY! this was the highlight of our entire journey to Penang, sob sob... its finally here! (do excuse the drama). My hubby had to resist the fragrant, mouthwatering aroma to quickly take a pix for the sake of our blog.

Apparently the asam laksa here uses only FRESH sardines, or tua bak hoo (big-eyed fish) and the best belacan and hae ko (shrimp paste) so there is no overly fishy smell.

With our tummies well fed, we continued in our glutton-like state in search of MORE food. Can you believe we could still actually eat more?

Look! Opps sorry, no close up pix.. hmmm but you can see the look of utter satisfaction on the faces of these gluttons haha (me excluded) munching on Ban Chean Kuihs.

here's a pix of the lady who was highly amused with us clicking our cameras. (from the way we were acting, I dont think anyone believes we are born and bred Malaysians. Good grief *rolls eyes*.

That's the charcoal stove used to cook her delicious kueh. mm hmmm . There are 2 types: the traditional thick, fluffy pancake and the paper thin type. Both are topped with roasted peanuts, sugar and margerine. Out of this world!

Ironically it takes only 5 minutes to cook but its name Ban Chean Kuih actually means slow-fried cake!

Dinner! We moved on to MacAlister Road! See how busy it is? hee hee actually that's me taking a really bad shot, moving before the shutters' done.

We had Oh Chien here which was ABSOLUTELY divine.... the oysters were so juicy and mouthwatering... I mean just look at it! Fried with lots of eggs, garlic, chives and with the fragrant whiff of fish sauce. (That's wat they say that makes a huge difference in taste.)

2ND day:
Up early to catch all the yummy food at Air Itam morning market!
Curry mee from the famous stall where 3 sisters cook them. We spotted them - Wow! there's a pic of them on the Penang food guide book that my hubby got for my birthday. Yep, these sisters are THAT famous. They certainly knew how to market a product way back then.. the concept of em sisters sitting round the cooking pot has its charms to tourists like us -ahem.

And here's a pic of their famous curry mee - with lots of liau like prawns, bean curd puffs, sotong, cuttlefish and bean sprouts in a light, coconut-milk based gravy. The auntie told us - "KL food no good, no liau wan". haha we simply nodded in agreement :)

Hubby knew i had cravings for Chai Kuih so he scouted around for it in the market. wot a darling! hee hee, and he did find it, only at that time, he didnt know that it was quite a well known stall, noted in our penang food guide book.

The skin is made of a mixture of wheat starch, tapioca flour and glutinous rice flour. The fillings are made of yam bean, carrot, dried prawns and garlic. The mark of a good Hokkien Chai Kuih is the fine, light dumpling skin which breaks apart at a bite. This was certainly it.. Mmm-mmmm. i am just about the happiest girl ever.

C then found a stall selling Char Kuih Kak (fried radish cake), ooOOoo we couldnt miss that one out! errr. The texture of the kueh was just right: smooth, firm and just tat bit of glueyness for the perfect 'chewy' texture.

er, the pix didnt do much justice to it (my hubby took it *wink)

Next, we moved on to look for the famous Lam Heng Cafe. Haiyoh, after so many wrong turns and going up the SAME one way street several times, we FINALLY managed to find this cafe. No wonder too, it was tucked in a secluded corner and didnt have a big sign which we expected since it was famous.. Well, this place is suppose to be famous for its Mee Jawa, Char Kuey Teow AND Or Kuih! woo hoo! the gold mine!

I'm not much of a fan of Mee Jawa but the gang said it was good! The lady here uses mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes as the base for her gravy. Other stuff like fried onions, dried chillies, tomato sauce and seasonings are fried together before being added to the gravy.

the Or Kuih.... ahhh, this savoury yam cake is topped with dried shrimps and fried shallots. The ladies here sure know how to pick their yams! selecting the right yam ensures the cake achieves the desired fluffy texture. This is so unlike anything we get it KL.. hard and full of flour.

The lady being photographed by my hubby. SHE's hard at work servin up OUR Char Kuey Teow.

And THIS is the BEST Char Kuey Teow (hubby says "in the world") as agreed by us 4. topped with pieces of crab meat, crunchy bean sprouts, smooth kuey teow, stir fried eggs, spring onions, cockles, fat, juicy, VERY fresh prawns. The cooking oil is mixed with lard for that extra sinful ommph! and the soy sauce is specially brewed by a local guy according to their specifications. Fuiyoh! Apparently these sisters have been cookin up a storm for 50 years!

We finally decided that that was enough for the day, so we took a lazy drive up to Batu Ferringhi. Hmmm.. the hotels along the beach weren't that well maintained - wat a disappointment. However, the Rasa Sayang hotel under Shangrila group recently underwent a major 'facelift'. Well! This hotel was certainly top notch and expensive (as seen with its 90% Ang Moh population.)

beautiful landscaping

us just chilling out (for free!)

We had dinner at Hai Boey, a beachside restaurant located at Teluk Kumbar along Balik Pulau area. CCH sure did miss out on a sumptious dinner!

For appetizers, we had deep-fried prawn balls covered with brinjal slices - goes well with the chilli served.. mmm mmm.

Followed by stir-fried Kapar clams with tom yam sauce (one of the recommended dishes).

Last but not least, the fish steamed in a claypot. The flesh is so soft, it literally melts in your mouth.

oh boy do I feel full even just blogging.

Comin up next, the journey back and more places to eat in Ipoh!