Monday, October 3, 2011

Nasi Lemak Part 2 : Sambal Chili

This is my Part 2 of my Nasi Lemak recipe series. You can find the first recipe of Coconut Rice in my last posting.

In Part 2, I will be sharing the recipe for Sambal Chili. This is another critical component in Nasi Lemak. A good nasi lemak need a great sambal. Essentially sambal is the chili based sauce used typically as a condiment to accompany the rice. Infact, you can prepare the sambal paste and literally use it in any vegetables or meat that you want to spice up.

There are so many recipes for sambal, it is hard to decide which is the best. I am sharing my very own, tried and tested recipe which probably changes every time I cook it. So folks, just ball park ok or like how we like to say in Malaysia - "agak-agak" (which means "instincts" or "use your own judgement/feel"). Therefore is someone ask you, how much salt should I put?, the easy answer is to say "agak-agak".

Simple Ingredients :
1. 6 - 8 pcs Red Chilies or you can use 2 cups of dried chilies - soaked and drained
2. 10pcs of shallots - coarsely chopped
3. 1 clove of garlic
4. 1 large red onion - chopped fine.
5. 2 TBSP of brown sugar
6 1 TBSP of belacan (shrimp paste) - photo below

7. 1 tsp salt
8. 1/2 cup of oil
9. 15g Tamarind pulp mixed with 1 Cup of Water, discard the solids

Simple Steps :

1. Put the red chilies, shallots and garlic in the food processor and blend well till it becomes paste-like.

2. In a hot pan, dry fry the belacan (shrimp paste)in low heat. You will soon smell the strong pungent aroma enveloping your kitchen.

3. Heat pan with 1/2 cup of oil. Add the paste in and in low heat, stir continuously till fragrant.

4. As the paste dries up, add in the chopped onions and stir well. Add in the Tamarind juice and salt to taste. Stir in low heat till the onions are soft and the paste is a bit dry.

5. The Sambal is ready.

The sambal paste is very versatile. You can add some fried anchovies and you will get Sambal Ikan Bilis (dried anchovies). If you cook with some squids, you will get Sambal Sotong (squids). Add in some prawns and you will get Sambal Udang (prawns). Ohhhh....the possibilities are endless. Infact, I like to put some sambal when I stirfry my vegetables - brinjals, lady fingers, long beans which will soak up the spice really well.

For the example below, I just added more sliced onions and it works just as well too.

So, that's it, the simple sambal chili recipe which goes well with nasi lemak and other dishes too. Now that's just the two main components of nasi lemak.

Is that enough?? No!! There's more. My next recipe which is a must to add to a delicious nasi lemak is Spiced Fried Chicken. Stay tuned for Part 3. :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Nasi Lemak Part 1 - Coconut Rice

I've been missing. I seem to take a hiatus from food blogging too often. But even though I don't blog, I continue to take all the photos of my cooking. So I end up with loads of food photographs but what's missing is just blogging about it.

Nevertheless, I am really excited to share my latest food adventure. Nasi Lemak.

Nasi Lemak literally translates to Coconut Rice but the rice is not the only feature. It is the sambal, the egg, the peanuts, the fried ikan bilis (anchovies), the fried chicken and down to the cucumber which makes this a truly delicious and must try Malaysian dish. Back home in Malaysia, we eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even supper so anytime of the day if you are craving for nasi lemak, you can definitely find a stall, restaurant, or even just by the roadside, someone will be selling it.

For the Nasi Lemak recipe, I am doing a 4 part series. Wow!! You must think it is extremely difficult to make. It's actually NOT but there are just so many components to make a great nasi lemak and I want to make sure that I share what I think are the critical recipes. Therefore my 4 part series will consist of :

Part 1. Coconut Rice
Part 2. Sambal Chili
Part 3. Spiced Fried Chicken
Part 4. The Finale - How traditionally it all comes together!! Nasi Lemak Bungkus (Wrapped Coconut Rice)

Coconut Rice Ingredients :
1. Jasmine Rice - 3 cups
2. Pandan Leaves (Screwpine) - 2-3 sprigs
3. Ginger - 4-5 big slices
4. Coconut Milk - 1 can (about 400ml)
5. 1 tsp salt

Simple Steps :
1. Wash the Jasmine rice and rinse at least 2-3 times. Discard the water

2. Tie the pandan leaves in a loose knot and place it in the rice. For those who are not familiar with pandan leaves it is called "Screwpine Pandanus" and typically grown in Asia. Pandan leaves have a sweet, unique flavor that is commmonly used in Southeast-Asian countries to enhance both desserts and savory dishes. In US, I usually find them at the frozen section of the Asian grocery stores.

Add in the sliced ginger too.

3. Pour in the coconut milk. I like to use a strainer to strain the coconut milk before I put it in just to make sure there are no clumps of coconut milk floating about.

4. Add another 1 cup of water in the rice. You can add more or less water depending on how much rice you are boiling. Stir the rice with the coconut milk and water so that it is well mixed. Oh yes...don't forget to sprinkle a dash of salt. It will really help to bring all the flavors out.

I use a rice cooker, it's fast and easy and frankly it is the only way I cook my rice. Whoever invented the rice cooker is a pure genius :)
Just turn on your rice cooker and let it boil till cooked. You will have a the smell of fragrant coconut rice fill your kitchen. Yums!

This is just the first step to making Nasi Lemak. Can't wait to share the rest of recipes.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Stir Fry Bean Sprouts with Salted Fish

This is such a simple and "cheap" dish, I wonder why I often pay at minimum $8.00 to eat this outside. This dish takes less than 5 minutes to be prepared and served and at most would cost about $1.00 if you cook it at home.

Bean Sprouts (available at any Asian supermarkets) cost about 0.59cents per lb. These buggers are so light, if you buy one pound it would feed 4 persons nicely. The other ingredient is salted fish also readily available in any Asian supermarket. Depending on the fish you buy, it will cost between 3.99 to 5.99 per pound. Remember this is salted fish so it is extremely salty and pungent, you don't need a lot to bring out the taste. 100gm of the salted fish cut to small pieces in more than enough. Next - 2 cloves of garlic, few drop of vegetable oil, few drop of fish sauce and salt and that's it. I should cook this at home vs ordering this dish everytime we go out.

I guess the main reason why I don't cook this dish at home that much is because bean sprouts don't keep long even in the fridge. Best to use immediately after buying or keep just for a day in the fridge. If kept longer, you will find that the bean sprouts is soft vs the ideal light crunch texture. I do my grocery shopping mainly during the weekends for the next week and I usually eat out during the weekends and thus I don't buy bean sprouts especially when I don't know if I will cook it in the next one or two days.

But when I weight how cheap and how easy it is to cook this dish (vs how much I pay for someone else to cook it for me)...hmmm either I should plan my grocery shopping a bit better or just not order this dish when I eat out. :)

Simple Ingredients :
1. 1lb of bean sprouts (wash and drain)
2. 100gm of salted fish (cut to small pieces)
3. 2 cloves of garlic (chopped fine)
4. 2 TBSP of oil
5. 1 TBSP of fish sauce
6. 1/4 tsp of salt
7. Chopped scallions for garnishing

Simple Steps :
1. Put the oil in on the saute pan, put in the chopped garlic and salted fish. Saute for 2 minutes till fragrant.

2. Next turn up the heat, put in all the bean sprouts and do a quick toss. Add fish sauce and salt and 2 TBSP of water. Stir fry for another 2 minutes and it is ready to served.

That's it!! Quick and simple. The key is the fire in the Chinese stir frying. The fire need to be at high and the stir fry motion need to be quick to get all the ingredient blended in well together. For even better results, is obviously to use a wok as it is able to retain heat a lot better and the shape makes stir frying a lot easier. But nevertheless you can do this on a pan (I did). Just be a bit careful when stir frying to make sure all your ingredients are not flying out of the cooking pan :)

Hope you like this recipe. Try this simple at home and save the money for dessert :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wonton Dumpling Soup aka "My Wonton Soldiers"

Left, Right, Left, Right, Get in Line, Get in Line, 1, 2, 1, 2, Left, Right, Left, Right....

Fill, Wet, Fold, Press, Wet and Cross the ends; Fill, Wet, Fold, Press, Wet and Cross the ends; Fill, Wet, Fold, Press, Wet and Cross the ends; Go, Go, Go, Go.....

I felt like a soldier marching, disciplined, precise like a machine when I was folding my wonton dumplings. I have made wonton dumplings before but I never learned how to do a perfect wrap. I just use to fold, squeeze together and hope that the filling won't come off. So, one nice day, I decided to do some research on youtube to look into various videos on how to wrap wonton dumplings the right way.

As always, the Internet is simply amazing. There were so many videos, I went back and forth looking at all the different methods till I got slightly confused. Heck, this should be simple enough - Fill, Wet, Fold, Press, Wet and Cross the ends. This is the method I decided to follow. Surprisingly, it turned out really well and before I knew it, I had a tray of nicely wrapped wonton dumplings.

Infact, I realized I can wrap more of these dumplings and just freeze the extras to use whenever needed. I used store bought dumplings wrappers. It is easily available at any Chinese Grocery stores. Too much trouble to make it at home.

Simple Ingredients :

1 Packet of Dumpling Wrappers (Square shaped)

Filling -
1 pound of minced pork
1 big onion - diced small
1 sprig of scallion - diced small
1 egg
Salt, Pepper, Oyster Sauce, Soy Sauce to taste.

If desire a slight crunch in your filling, you can add some diced Waterchest nut.

Simple Steps :

1. Mix well all of the fillings ingredient together. The egg should help to filling to bind together. 2 extra tricks I use when making the filling -
i ) I like to stir fry the onions first with some oil. This allows the onions to be a lot more fragrant when mixed together with the fillings. Be careful not to brown the onions and do let it cool down before mixing together.
ii) Also to make sure that the taste of the filling is just right, after mixing, I will pinch a some of the filling and just microwave it until cook (which usually is less than a minute - depending on how much meat you microwave). At least I get to taste and make sure that it is enough seasonings before I fill up the dumplings.

2. Wrap the dumplings. I made my first little "How To" video. My first attempt so it is very amateurish. No sound, I am too shy but I think it is pretty clear what I am doing. Just repeat until you get it :)

Once you get the rhythm of wrapping the dumplings, you will feel like a soldier machine. Fill, Wet, Fold, Press, Wet and Cross the ends; Fill, Wet, Fold, Press, Wet and Cross the ends..... and behold, you will have a full tray of wonton soldiers gleaming back at you :)

3. Get your soup base ready. You can use any type of soup base you like. I prefer chicken stock. Bring it to a boil and put in the dumplings one by one. Let me come to a boil and when the dumplings float up, they are ready. When sure you don't put too many dumplings in at one time as they may stick together and also stir the dumplings around to avoid them sticking.

Another method I use when I am "not lazy". I will boil a fresh pot of just water and let the dumplings boil in that first. I will drain the dumplings out and then only put into the chicken stock. I do this especially when I am making a lot of dumplings. This is to get rid of some of the flour on the wrappers (which will tend to thicken and cloud my soup) and also quicken the boiling process when in chicken soup.

4. Add any green leafy vegetable you like into the soup or just add chopped scallions. And serve it hot.

There is something comforting about a bowl of wonton dumpling soup. Hmmm, bliss.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Buon Giorno Italia - Planning an Italy vacation

Yes I had a fantastic vacation in Italy with my Hubby-D in early November 2010. I guess you could call it our 2nd honeymoon :). During our wedding in Malaysia i 2007, we had so much to do and so little time we only took a short getaway to Phuket, Thailand. So, we always knew that we would do a "real honeymoon" either in Italy or Paris. My vote on Italy won this time as I have been to Paris before.

I am proud to say, I planned this whole vacation to the dot. And it was a perfect vacation. I started on a totally blank page with absolutely no idea where Italy was and what there was to see and do in Italy.

Then I narrowed it down to the basics for a first timer in Italy. Rome, Florence and Venice. A little ambitious for a 8 days vacation but hey, that's how the research started. Initially I did want to take the easy way out, just booked a tour with a travel agency and let them do all the work. We just need to follow and everything will be settled.

However, after speaking to them and looking into their various itineraries, a tour of Rome, Florence and Venice became a lot clearer to me. I first listed down the "must see" tourist spots. Then I started to form the dots. Places to go, nearby areas, where to stay, I began to have a clearer picture of what I needed to do. Thus I considered the idea of going on our own versus with a tour group. Infact it became a lot more exciting especially when I found better locations for hotels, and could figure out how to connect all the dots to the places we would like to go.

Yes, we can do it on our own and take our time to do and go where we want.

Planes tickets - booked, hotels - booked, train tickets - booked and also reservations to some museums - booked. We are set!!

Seriously I could not have done it without this person. Mr. Rick Steves. If you don't know him, you must get to know him inside out especially when you are planning a Europe vacation. Rick Steves is America's leading authority on European travel. He provided the backbone to our trip. Where to stay, what and where to eat, what to see, how to go and best audio guides to some of the museums. He really made our trip, literally!

Next, is another fantastic resource. I used it a lot to research hotels and it provided excellent recommendations. Also, the people on the forum are simply wonderful, if you have a query, there are so many people who willingly respond to help.

The good news is that Hubby-D bought us our first official DSLR camera. Woohoo!! Sony A330. It is not the super top of the line but a DSLR with 2 lenses for below US500.00, I am a happy camper. Looking forward to better photography especially on my food photos.

From the hundreds, ok more like thousands of photos taken on our Italy trip, it is an uphill task to showcase them all. I decided to make a video of photographs and once I started, I decided I should add captions so I can remember the details of each photo. I have 4 videos - 2 on Rome, 1 each for Florence and Venice. Unfortunately, it is about 8 minutes long each but if you have the time, do view it and let me take you down Italia lane.

Let's start with Rome and I will post Florence and Venice on my next postings. Buon Giorno!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sang Har Mein (Fresh Water Prawns Noodles)

I can't believe that I have not blogged for more than 2 months. How time flies? What happened?

Well, sometimes a distraction comes along and I find myself...."distracted". Poor excuse but that's my weakness. A change of routine and I get distracted easily. In this case was a fantastic vacation in Italy. Don't misunderstand, I was not in Italy for 2 months. 10 days to be exact but I guess I needed a month to get ready and a month to recover. :)

In 2 months of not blogging, the quality of my cooking has also deteriorated. I find myself just cooking the same dishes with same ingredients. No passion to search for new recipes or trying new dishes. I myself was kinda getting sick of my own boring dishes.

So, I am back to the food blogging world and letting photos of food, recipes from others inspire me again. I decided to make this delicious noodles Sang Har Mein (Fresh Water Prawns Noodles). Since I only order this dish when I eat out in Malaysia, I had a fixed impression that it is a difficult dish to make at home. Before I came to Dallas, a friend gave me the simple ingredients on how to cook this dish. It sounded easy enough so I thought I would really try it out this time. True to her words, it was really simple to make and can be ready in less than 15 minutes.

Simple Ingredients :
2-4 large freshwater prawns, clean and deveined - sliced in half horizontally
2 pcs of dried/fried wantan noodles
2 stalks spring onions, cut into 1 inch lengths
2-3 tbsp oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp chopped garlic and 1 tbsp shallots
10-12 slices of young ginger
1 tbsp Shao Hsing Hua Tiau cooking wine
3 cups water or stock

Optional - 1 cup of chopped cabbage

Seasoning (sauce):
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp chicken granules (not required if using chicken stock)
A pinch of salt, sugar and pepper for taste

3 cups water or chicken stock

Thickening (combine):
1½ tbsp corn flour
2 tsp water

1 egg, beaten lightly

Simple steps :

1. If you get to buy the ready fried wantan noodles then skip the step below. If you have fresh wantan noodles, please follow these steps. Loosen the wantan noodles and place on a steaming tray. Steam noodles over boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove and let it cool. Loosen the noodles and deep-fry in batches in hot oil for 30 seconds until crispy and golden. Remove and put aside in a 2 separate serving plates.

2. Cut the freshwater prawns into halves. Sprinkle lightly with a little salt and pepper. Heat some 2-3 tbsp oil on pan. Place the prawns shell down onto the pan of oil and let it fry for 2 minutes. You can turn the prawn and let it cook the flesh side. Remove immediately once the prawns are cooked. Place the prawns on top of the noodles.

3. In the same oil, put in the chopped garlic and shallots. Fry till fragrant and add the ginger and continue to stir fry. By now your kitchen will be filled with the aromatic smell of garlic and ginger. Add the cooking wine and sesame oil. Then add the seasoning sauce. Then add water and let it come to a boil. Add the cabbage as desired.

4. Once the broth is boiling, lower the heat and add the cornstarch mix to thicken the sauce. Let it thicken for 1 minute and then turn off the heat. Pour the egg into broth and stir well. Add in the chopped scallions.

5. Pour the sauce over the noodles and serve immediately.

This portion above is enough enough to serve 2 persons. Yummy. Dig in!! :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dinner in a Sandwich - Apple Sauce Pork Chop Sandwich

How I eat my bread? My usual is simply peanut butter and strawberry jam. And when I want to indulge it is with condensed milk on toasted bread. Ohhh..Yums! Hubby-D won't even try my condensed milk toast therefore for him, I would make ham and cheese sandwich. Occasionally, bacon to indulge. But that's my usual sandwich fare - very simple and easy.

So when I was given the Nature's Pride bread challenge for a chance to go to the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, I kinda knew a peanut butter jelly sandwich or a ham and cheese sandwich would not really make the cut. However, I still wanted to make it really simple but yet elaborate enough for it to be remembered.

I bought the Nature's Pride 100% Whole Wheat bread and I was immediately struck by the wholesome delicious smell of bread. I decided to replicate a wholesome dinner I prepared for Hubby-D a few days ago which is pork chops with apple sauce reduction. Hubby-D liked it very much and for me it was simple to make and delicious in taste.

Thus my creation for the Nature's Pride challenge is a dinner in a sandwich.

Apple Sauce Pork Chop Sandwich.

Simple Ingredients :
1. Boneless pork chop - give a good beating to the pork to tenderize it.
2. Apples - sliced. I use red apples as they are sweeter
3. Some fresh lettuce and cherry tomaties
4. White wine or red wine - I used a apple white wine I had in my fridge
5. Salt & Pepper to taste

Simple Steps :

1. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and some olive oil.

2. Heat the pan with some olive oil. Wait till the pan is really hot. Put in the pork chops. Leave it for abt 3-4 minutes on each side till cooked.

3. Remove the pork chops and put aside. In the same pan infused with the pork oil, put in the apples slices. Add in the white wine. Let the apple simmer in the white wine sauce for 5 - 10 minutes. Remember to turn the apple slices to make sure it gets a little golden brown. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

- I wanted still a soft crunch on the apples so I did not simmer it for too long.

4. Assembly - Put the fresh lettuce on a piece of Nature's Pride 100% Whole Wheat bread. Then the piece of pork chop. Then add on the slices of apples and the sauce. Top it off with some sliced cherry tomatoes.

Trust me, this is delicious. It is so simple to make this hearty wholesome meal. The soft crunchy apple goes so well with the pork chop and everything comes together beautifully. All done in 15 minutes. Hope you all like it!!

Related Posts with Thumbnails