Friday, June 30, 2006

ONE TREE HILL (NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME)



No, it's not about the T.V. series. It's a new Asian/Western restaurant located at Jalan Budaya, next to the civic center in Kuching, which liberally borrows its name from the T.V. series. And, no, I'm not gonna play food critic, and claim that I was there first, after its opening about a week ago.

This wasn't our restaurant of choice last Monday night. Jambu (@ Crookshank Rd.) was, but it was 'rest day' for them (I didn't know that). Not wanting to venture afar, as there were other guests involved, we chose One Tree Hill, as it's only up the road.

This restaurant sits on a hill, with a patio overlooking a vast expanse of a garden. It’s a newly renovated/converted residence…. all tastefully done to the style of a Mediterranean estate. Here’s the crunch……

Some of our group arrives 10 minutes ahead of me as I had to pick up a couple from the hotel. They ordered their fruit juice before our drinks order. Yet 15 minutes after our drinks arrived, theirs hadn’t even after complaints. The first round of beer came in tall glasses. However, the second round were unceremoniously plunked down on the table in the form of 3 duty free cans in a blue plastic wine bucket. That’s some class act! They are charging RM9 for a glass, whereas you can get 3 cans for RM10 at some establishments.

When we had our food order taken, the lady taking our order abruptly left for no reason after taking 3 orders. Only when the owner came to check in on us did she come back to finish her order taking. Water spilled on the floor was not taken care of even after the boss’ instruction.

Had a long wait for the food, and the place wasn’t busy. The boss offered complimentary garlic bread to tide us over till the food came. My cousin commented the bread wouldn’t be delivered after we finished our meals. True to his words, it never came even after our meals. The boss blew his top…then the bread arrived albeit chewy….must have been put in a microwave oven in haste rather than grilled. They missed my cousin’s fish order completely…..missed because it never showed up in the bill.

There was a total miscommunication between the floor, the kitchen and the front desk. The boss was apologetic enough to offer free ice cream after some prodding. It was a terrible 2½ hours ordeal for 8 of us. Never again!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

TEOCHEW PORK PORRIDGE ( BAK MUAY) @ CARPENTER ST., KUCHING



I have written quite a bit on pork porridge before, but this is the definitive "Teochew Bak Muay". It's the way the porridge is cooked - you still see the whole strain of rice, yet it's a bit gooey (but not the same consistency as Cantonese Chook). Others tend to be on the opposite extreme ends - either too much like rice, or too much like Cantonese Chook.

This is one of the oldest streets in Kuching. The earliest trading settlement in Kuching started next to the banks of the Sarawak River, which leads the South China Sea. Carpenter Street is one street behind the main thoroughfare then. As the name suggests, this is where the craftsmen ply their trade. Nowadays only a few furniture stores remain. On the adjacent China Street, a few metal smiths still carry on their practicing their skill.

This porridge stall is located at the “Lau Ya Khiang”, which is actually an open-air theatre, with the stage at the back. Its stage shows, couple times per year, are meant for the deities in the temple across the street. (Incidentally, a few shop lots from here is where I started my career.) There are a few other stalls here selling Kueh Chap, Sarawak Laksa, drinks, Lek Tau Suan (dhal) and Kolo Mee. In the afternoon, a different vendor will take the place of the porridge stall, and sells fish balls and stuffed beancurd, and pork satay (meat on a skewer). In the evening, the Kueh Chap stall sells braised duck/porridge and fish and shrimp soup, and the last stall next to the stage which opens at night does à la carte Chinese home-cooked dishes.

The porridge stall is run by 2 brothers (the father has retired quite sometime ago) – one does the cooking while the other does the preparation (adding the soy sauce, msg, Chinese fried fritters and garnishes) and serving. There’s another elder brother who comes in only early in the morning to minced the pork using cleavers the old fashion way. They start prep work at 4 am., and I had breakfast here before 5 am. a couple of times, while the other stalls had not commence. They used to cook the porridge using charcoal clay stove, but it proves to be too slow for present days’ customers, also the fire blackens the pots. The porridge comes with pork meatballs, kidney and liver (upon request sliced fillet pork, and/or raw egg [cooked in the hot porridge in the bowl]). Like most Teochew cooking, the porridge is “cheng-cheng” (clear), and it’s a good start to rev up your tummy in the morning.


Monday, June 26, 2006

FISH IN BLACK SAUCE


First off, don't ask me the name of this fish. I seldom know what sort of fish I'm eating. Most of my fishes are given to me (mostly from Lundu), and I never bother to find out their names. If I can use any variety of fish (blindly), I don't see why you can't.


INGREDIENTS


2 tbsp fermented black beans

1 chilli (diced)
3 clove garlic (diced)
1 fish
Salt & sugar

Cornflour
Spring onion (chopped)

  • Pound 1st 3 ingredients together with mortar and pestle into a paste.
  • Score the fish diagonally on both sides. Pat dry the fish with paper towel; rub salt and dust with cornflour.
  • In a wok shallow fry until both sides are golden and crisp. Remove to a plate.
  • Reserve about 3 tablespoon of oil for frying the bean paste.

  • Mix 1 tbsp of cornflour with ½ cup water.
  • Fry the paste until fragrant. Add enough water to make sauce (about 1 cup).
  • Add sugar to balance the taste.
  • Add enough cornflour water while stirring continously to form a smooth silky sauce. (Mix more cornflour water if the sauce is too watery.)
  • Pour the sauce on top of fish.
  • Garnish with spring onion.

Friday, June 23, 2006

FRIED PORK KIDNEY


Kidneys are one of those things that come in pairs. They are too much for us to be consumed in one sitting, and the leftover doesn't taste good when reheated. Usually after the mee sua, fried kidney in Chinese wine is what I cook with the remaining potion of kidney.

Handy-Tip: Instead of using a paring knife or peeler for skinning ginger, I always use the trusty enamelled spoon to scrap the skin. Clasp the spoon with your fingers while pivoting your thumb on the ginger, which is palmed with the other hand; scrap the spoon towards your body. It's effective without wastage!


INGREDIENTS


1 pork kidney

3 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp Chinese red wine

1 tbsp Chinese white wine

1 small knob ginger (Julienned)

1 clove garlic (minced)

Salt

METHOD
  1. Check here for preparing kidney. Notice from the picture (above) the kidney has been scored. It helps to cook faster and more evenly.
  2. Heat up a wok on high heat. Put in the sesame oil, coating the bottom ½ area of the wok
  3. Next put in the ginger and garlic. Agitate quickly to avoid burns.
  4. As they are about to turn golden, throw in the kidney.
  5. Toss a few times; put in the 2 wine and add in salt to taste
  6. Toss again, then scoop out.
* Cooking time is about a minute or so. Over-cooking the kidney makes is hard.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

STEAMED CURRY FISH CAKE




The trip to Sibu was a fruitful one.... there were some Thais in town, who are in the process of setting up shop for Thai food. I had the privilege of sampling some of their cooking. There were coconut based seafood Tom Yum, seafood salad, pork curry and steamed curry fish cake. They were all delicious...... probably because lunch was served at 3 pm. Anyway, here's the recipe for the above. It's an agak-agak (approximate) one, so twig it a bit if it needs be.


INGREDIENTS


800gm Mackerel (meat only)

2 tbsp red curry paste

4 cups coconut milk

2 eggs

1 cup thinly sliced white cabbage

5 tbsp thinly sliced kaffir lime leaf

Rice flour

Fish sauce
Sugar
Banana leaves




  1. Cut Banana leaves into circles of 4" diameter. Fold up and pleat one of the sides, and fasten with stapler. Repeat on 3 other sides to form a container.
  2. In a sauce pan, put in 1 cup of coconut milk with tablespoon of rice flour. Whip over low fire until a soft peak is formed.
  3. Fillet the fish (minus the skin), and into thin slices.
  4. In a pot put in red curry paste with 3 cups of coconut milk, 2 eggs and 2 tablespoon of rice flour. Mix them well before putting in the fish slices. Keep stirring until it becomes thick like a paste.
  5. Add fish sauce and sugar to taste.
  6. Spread enough sliced cabbage at the bottom of the banana cup. Scoop in the fish paste. Topped off with sliced Kaffir lime leaves. Then a dollop of coconut cream.
  7. Steam for 20 minutes in a steamer.

Monday, June 19, 2006

FRIED BAK-CHI



Sometimes simplicity is the key to a good grub. Take this local variety of fish - Bak Chi. Small in size, and not many bones. All it takes is lightly salt the fishes, and they are ready for frying. Shallow-frying is another option, but I choose deep-frying to give them the crispy crunch.

  1. In a wok, pour in enough oil to deep-fry the fishes.
  2. Put a bread crumb into the oil. Once it fizzles and floats to the top, it's ready for frying.
  3. Make sure the fishes are pretty dry to prevent any oil splatter. Slide in the fish one at a time on medium heat.
  4. Don't over-crowd the wok, and the fishes are submerged in the oil.
  5. Cover the wok for about a minute or so. Once the color changes to yellow, they can be flipped over. Cover.
  6. You probably need to turn over a couple of times till they are light brown on both sides.
  7. Remove and drain on paper towel.
The fried Bak Chi can be taken on it s own, or dipped on sliced chilli and light soy sauce. They make good accompaniments for beer.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

TURKEY LEFTOVER PT. 4 DOUBLE DECKER SANDWICH



MAYO MIX


Turkey Breast

4 tbsp Mayonnaise

2 tbsp Sweetened Creamer

A dab of Wasabi

2 tbsp Lemon Juice


OMELETTE

2 Large Eggs

Button Mushroom (diced)

Chilli (deseed & diced)

Pinch of Salt & Pepper




Tomato (sliced)

Lettuce


METHOD
  1. Mix mayo in a bowl. Adjust the wasabi (Japanese horse radish) to your liking.
  2. Cut turkey breast into thin slices.
  3. Incorporate 1 & 2 together.
  4. Beat eggs lightly and add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Heat non-stick frying pan. Add oil, and fry chilli and mushroom. When done, spread out over the pan before pouring in a thin layer of egg. Flip over once you're able to slide the egg.
  6. Take 3 pieces of bread: Spread turkey mayo evenly on one. Add lettuce on top before topping with another layer of bread.
  7. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on top of second bread. Assemble omelette with tomato slices on top. Top off with the last piece of bread.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

TURKEY LEFTOVER PT. 3 TURKEY CHOOK



Chook is Cantonese for porridge, whereas Hokkien call it Muay. You may recall I've made similar porridge sometime back. However, this time I manage to cut the cooking time down, by going full trottle. I used the leftover soup as base stock for the porridge.

  1. First wash and soak 1 cup of rice for an hour.
  2. Bring turkey stock to boil.
  3. Put in the soaked rice on high heat, then simmer for 45 minutes on medium heat. (Ratio of water to rice : roughly 20 to 1)
  4. Stir occasionally to avoid burnt rice. Add additional hot water if required.
  5. Turn heat high for last 15 minutes, stir continuously to achieve a gluey consistency.
  6. Check for taste. Add fish sauce if required.
  7. Break turkey into chunks as previous recipe.
  8. Spread generous helping of turkey on top of porridge before seving. Garnish with fried shallots, spring onion and thin strips of omelette.
* 4 servings

Friday, June 16, 2006

TURKEY LEFTOVER PT. 2 TURKEY NOODLE SOUP



INGREDIENTS

½ a turkey
4 litre water
1 knob of ginger (thinly sliced)
4 Chinese dried dates
6 dreid wolfberries
2 tbsp granulated chicken stock
Fish sauce
Dried noodle
Bok Choi

Oyster sauce
Fried shallot


METHOD
  1. Bring 4 litre of water (more or less) in a pot to a boil.
  2. Put in the dates, wolfberries, ginger, turkey (bones and all) and simmer over low fire for an hour. The turkey should be submerged in the water, if not add some more hot water.
  3. Then add Chicken stock and fish sauce to taste.
  4. Remove the turkey, and discard the ginger, wolfberries and dates. When cool, use fingers or forks to tear the turkey into thick pieces. (Use only the amount required. Leave the rest as whole for another recipe)
  5. In a separate pot, boil enough water for the noodle.
  6. Throw in one piece of noodle once the water comes to a boil (high heat).
  7. Use chopsticks to jiggle the noodle to loosen it. The noodle cooks in a minute or so.
  8. Scoop noodle out onto a bowl.
  9. Blanch the Bok Choi in the soup for about a minute. Lay the cooked Bok Choi on top of the noodle. Next the turkey meat.
  10. Finally pour the hot soup into the bowl. Spread a bit of oyster sauce on top of the Bok Choi.
  11. Garnish with fried shallot.
* Made 4 bowls of noodle. Reserve the unfinished soup for the next recipe.

TURKEY LEFTOVER PT. 1 TURKEY ALFREDO



INGREDIENTS

1½ cup turkey meat (chunks)
3 shallots (diced)
1 chilli (diced)
1 clove garlic (minced)
Carrots (diced)
2 packets Alfredo Pasta
Milk
Water
I bought this ready-to-eat pasta for a rainy day - when one is not in the mood for heavy cooking or eating out. They cost RM3.95 each, and I haven't tried them before.


Method
  1. Cook the pasta (the packaging says serves 4, but when cooked it's more like 2. Hence 2 packets were used) as per instruction by adding milk and water. It has its own dehydrated cheese and seasoning.
  2. Cut the turkey into chunks, so they won't crumble easily when fried.
  3. Minced the garlic and diced the shallots (ran out of onion) and chilli.
  4. Fry items in 3 over medium heat with a little bit of oil in a frying pan, until fragrant and a bit soft.
  5. Add in the carrot bits and then the turkey chunks and quickly toss them around.
  6. Pour in a bit of milk to moisten the meat.
  7. By this time the pasta would have been cooked. Finally incorporate the cooked pasta with the turkey.
  8. Cooking and preparation time 15 minutes. Honestly, those ready-to-eat stuff don't taste that great. Cook your own fettuccine, and melted butter with milk and grated Parmesan cheese with a bit of chopped parsley will just do the trick.
* FEEDS 4

Thursday, June 15, 2006

TURKEY LEFTOVER



What do you do with turkey leftover? I know what you're thinking.... this is not the remains from last Thanksgiving or X'mas. Dad bought leg of lamb and turkey 2 weeks ago before they went off to visit the grandchildren in Adelaide and Melbourne. We managed to polished off the lamb, but the above is what remains.

Coming up next.... 4 parts to devouring turkey.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

HORSE HOOF CRISP & CHINESE BAGEL

Horse Hoof Crisp


These are the 2 items I had in Sibu. The Horse Hoof Crisp is akin to doughnut but it's firmer in texture and it's coated with crunchy sugar bits. Have to had it freshly fried, or else it will go soft in a couple of hours. This was bought at Seng Kee Agency at Market Road. They fry Chinese Crullers (You-Tiao) and bake Chinese Bagels (Kompia) here too. This is the better known shop for making these Chinese confections in town.

The kompia below was purchased at the Bukit Aoup Park, on the outskirt of Sibu. Normally it comes with stuffed minced pork. That afternoon all they had left were the kompais, so I ordered ones with Rojak sauce (Shrimp paste concortion). It was horrible 'cos the kompia was a bit stale, due to the fact it wasn't reheated in the oven or deep-fried. One of these days I'll show you how to make one of those fillings......I promise.

Kompia (a.k.a Chinese bagel)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

PI PA DUCK @ WEN WEN CAFÉ, SARIKEI

Pi Pa Duck


Wen Wen Café is the newly renovated café opposite the Methodist Town Church in Sarikei. It’s brighter and more welcoming than before, and also there is an addition of a Muslim stall beside the Kampua and roast duck stalls. It’s the roast duck what this place is all about.

JB ROAST DUCK DEALER, as the name card says, is run by the Tan family, formerly from Johor. It’s famous for its Pi Pa Duck, which is roast duck that is deep -fried before serving to give it the extra crispiness. I tried the chicken curry on this trip. It’s like Chinese home-cooked curry with potatoes, dried bean curd and eggplant. Its other roast meat (Char-Sui & Sui Yuk) is nothing to shout about. It was doing a roaring business (mostly takeaways) the day I was there.

Mr. Tan, Jr., did set up shop in Kuching at the RH Plaza (BDC) at the coffe shop facing the church. There were more bookies and punters there than patrons.... after a few months, he moved to the coffee shop next to HK bank, Sibu. That also lasted a few months. It's Kuching's and Sibu's losses.


Chicken Curry


The new management of the café does an excellent job spiffing up the place, and introducing new drinks like the ones below. These are home-grown fruits (from the vicinity), and Sarikei is famous for its orchard..


Sour Sop and Dragon Fruit Smoothie

Monday, June 12, 2006

FRENCH LOAF PIZZA



This is a fast and easy-to-assemble with leftover spaghetti sauce for a lazy Sunday brunch.

Grab a loaf of French loaf, and cut it in half horizontally. Then sub-cut them into 6” length.

Put them an oven toaster or top of the oven and lightly grilled the bread (cut-side up).

Heat up the leftover spaghetti sauce. Add a little water if it’s a bit dry.

Scoop enough sauce onto the bread to cover it. Add shaved cheese on top of the sauce. (I used Cheddar slices here. Any of your favorite will do).

Grill again till the cheese melts. Chow down!

*Cut the French loaf into thin oval-shape bite size to make finger food. Great as cocktail snack.



Saturday, June 10, 2006

NOODLE @ MAS CORNER CAFÉ, JLN. KPG. NYABOR, SIBU

Chow-Chai Hung Ngan with Shrimps


This café used to be at the corner shop next to the MAS office at Jalan Osman, hence the moniker. It is renowned for its Chow-Chai Hung-Ngan. Chow-Chai is vegetable preserved with Ang-Chow (the red residue from fermented red Chinese wine), and Hung-Ngan is a thicker version of Bee Hoon (rice vermicelli).

One can order shrimp or fish, or combination of both with the Hung-Ngan. The dish is a bit sour due to the Chow-Chai, and hot with chilli added. The stock from the seafood makes the hot and sour soup delectable. Here you don’t have to folk out RM15 for a bowl of noodle, just for some bigger shrimps. The packed café is testament to the good food served here.

Then there's the fried La-Knia (Dayak) Mee. It's similar to ordinary fried (dry) noodle except it's a bit moist. Creative name for a dish.


La-Knia Mee






Friday, June 09, 2006

LOK MING YUEN CAFE @ JLN. PADADA, SIBU

Had breakfast here; no particular reason other than this place is packed (sign of good food). This is the next block to Rejang Medical Centre, also where Sushi Tie (reasonable Japanese fare) is. The varieties shown here goes to show Sibu is no longer just a Kampua Mee town; people are more adventurous; the mantra: "The cheaper it is, the better it tastes." still holds true. The town still holds the honor for cheap eats. Would you believe, I had a large plate of fried Koay Teow Foochow style for 3 persons the other night at Jalan Hardin, and it costed RM3? Cheaper than our drinks.


Loh Mee


Beef Koay Teow (Flat Rice Noodle)


Lau Su Fang (Bee Tie Bak) Soup, the Works

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

TIEN MEIN HU @ CHOP HING HOUNG, SIBU



There's no misspelling on the heading. It's Pigeon English for the word "shop". That's how ancient this shop is. Over half a century old. However, the proprietor is modest of its age, or rather his. This shop is tucked in the alleyway between Blacksmith Road and Market Road (1st one from Market Road, 2nd one from Blacksmith). It's a nondescript 20' x 20' shop, that earns a "B" from the council for cleanliness, with the 1/2 doz. seating sharing the space with the stove, fridge and grindstone.


For those not in the know, this dish, wok-scrapped curls, is made from rice flour paste spread over the side of a hot cast iron wok with pork broth in it. Once the paste is set, it scrapped onto the broth. The process is repeated. Then wood ear fungus, fish balls, processed cuttlefish, dried lily flowers and fish sauce added to taste.

This place is the mother of all Tien Mein Hu. Others use rice paste mixed from commercially packed rice flour, whereas here, the paste is ground from soaked rice on the electric grindstone. Another difference is that the Tien Mein Hu is cooked in huge quantity, filling one large enamel basin, and it's gone in no time. It’s that popular!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

TEOCHEW ROASTED PORK FLAT NOODLE @ CENTRAL MARKET, SIBU


I stumbled upon this place a few trips back......I was searching for kangkong fried with pig's blood and porridge as in the old market. Somehow, I never managed to find it. Well, this is stall 102, operated by 2 old folks. They were formerly at the alley next to Chartered Bank, then corner coffee shop opposite Hock Hua Bank at Central Rd. (1 year), then back to Chartered Bank ('cos the "tawkay-kia chin niaw-chee") until relocated by the council to the present location. They have been in the business for over 30 years.

Know how I got so much info? I arrived around 7:15 pm. after the Shui-Kuo-Ping, and they just set up shop; while waiting for the water to boil, managed to strike up a conversation with the old man; I always pick up tips this way, and sometimes they even let you in on a secret or two.

This Teochew stall sticks out like a sore thumb in a sea full of kampua mee stalls. Pnee [flat] Mee (or Mee Pok), as it is called here, is the only thing they serve here. You can have it plain, dark soy or ‘chillied’, as shown above. It comes with soup filled with Tianjin preserved Cabbage (Tang Chai). The roast pork (cha-sui) is really roasted, unlike others that are merely boiled, and with food coloring added. The noodle here puts a lot of kolo mee and kampua mee stalls from Kuching to Timbuktu to shame.

Monday, June 05, 2006

SHUI KUO PING @ LEONG LEONG CAFE, REJANG PARK, SIBU



Tried out this place 'cos "
DieHardX's Territory" speaks highly of this place, which sells shaved ice sweets. I don't know whether I got the shop correct, but it's within the territory that he speaks of (inside the theatre building, near the piano shop). Anyway I was fumbling my way around at dusk..... my thirst got the better of me.

Cut to the chase; this fruit ice consists of papaya, rock melon, water melon, canned longan and peach and colored gelatin with shaved ice on top, drizzled with flavored sugar syrup and evaporated milk. What can I say? The potion is humongous.....
The potion is humongous.....The potion is humongous.....

KAMPUA MEE @ LIAN YEW CAFE, SIBU

Kampua Mee w/ Dark Soy Sauce


This is the quintessential Foochow dish. It is the equivalent to what Kolo Mee is to Kuchingnites. Basically, it is boiled alkaline noodles mixed with pork lard, light soy sauce, MSG, salt, and garnished with chopped spring oning and fried shallots, and not forgetting the fake Cha-Sui (roast pork). The difference between Kampua Mee and Kolo Mee lies in the manufacture of the noodle, and also 'style' of cooking; some people prefers soft noodle, where it is boiled for a longer period of time (as in "Ang-Kow's" next the fire station). Traditionally, Kampua comes in 'light' (light soy sauce) and 'eng-luck' (with chilli sauce) variety. In recent times, dark soy sauce comes into the picture (as above). It is accompanied by a bowl of pork soup and processed chilli sauce.


Too Knua Th'ng

This cafe is located opposite Masland Methodist Church, and beside the former Public Bank's office block. If I'm not mistaken it's on Island Road. The noodle is al dente here, and the finely chopped fried shallot (freshly made and crunchy) and spring onion make a whole lot of difference.

The Too Knua Th'ng (Pig's liver soup) is divine. It consists of thinly sliced raw liver bathed in hot pork broth (very much like the way beef is cooked in phó) with Chinese red wine. Notice the liver is still pinkish in color (above). [Worry not, the liver was still in the process of being cooked]. This time I brought my own moonshine!


Sunday, June 04, 2006

U-CHANG KUEH @ CENTRAL MARKET SIBU


This is the poorer sibling of Chwee Kueh. The recipe is the same as Chwee Kueh except it's garnished with fried shallots (U-Chang) instead of chai-poh. This costs 50 sen per bowl.

The u-chang is sprinkled on top before it's being eaten. One uses a folk to score around the parameter of the inside bowl, making a circle around the kueh; then do a tic-tac-toe squares on the kueh. Lastly pour sugary soy sauce and sugary chili sauce (both are quite watery and diluted version of the real thing). Then dig in.

I remember in the old days, we use bamboo sticks (sharpened at one end) as eating utensil. And the U-Chang Kueh was 5 sen per bowl.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

As the name implies, it's all about nothing! Kongkaying is like grasping in the air - more like hot air with occasional fartulence. Hopefully, something aromatic will come out of it! If not...

May the Farce be With You!

BAG OF TRICKS

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