Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chicken Abalone Soup with Fish Maw

I think the Chinese invented the art of drinking soup :) that's just because I am Chinese and loves drinking soup. The best thing about Chinese soup is that it is so simple, all you need to do is to throw the ingredients into the pot filled with water and slow boil for a few hours. Voila! You have a soup ready.

Truthfully, I am not a fan of expensive Chinese soup, eg Buddha Jump Over The Wall etc. When I was younger, I used to hate Sharkfins soup served at wedding dinners. My mom would be glaring at me for refusing to drink the most expensive item on the menu! I am also not a fan of abalone. I will only eat, if it is shoved to my face, on my plate. But, I have learned to stop refusing these expensive items to escape from being called "stupid" by my Chinese relatives and friends!

So, what prompted me to boil the expensive soup above? Simple..all the ingredients were available at my mom's house and I thought I will boil this expensive soup for my mom, dad and grandma.

Simple ingredients :

1. Abalone - In Chinese, abalone are commonly known as "bao yu". Similar to shark fin soup or birds nest soup, it is considered a symbol of wealth and prestige, and is traditionally reserved for special occasions such as weddings and other celebrations. However, the availability of commercially farmed abalone has allowed more common consumption of this once rare delicacy. Thus, it is easily available in cans but mind you if can cost USD20-30 per can.

2. Fish Maw - Fish maw is actually the air bladder of large fish, the function of which is to regulate water and oxygen flow so that the fish can ascend or descend in the water. The price of fish maw is far from cheap and it's one of the luxury ingredients in Chinese cuisine. Like a lot of ingredients in Chinese culinary traditions, the fish maw is also regarded as a nourishing tonic that helps blood circulation and beneficial to the general health.

3. 1/2 of a Village Chicken ("Kampung Chicken") - These are considered chickens that roam about freely in kampongs (villages) – that is, the Malaysia equivalent of free-range, more or less organic, chicken –as opposed to those kept in cages in factory farms. This is of course considered a healthier but more expensive option to normal chicken.

5. Dried Scallop or Conpoy - 5-6 pcs (soaked in water)

6. Button Mushroom - 1 can

Simple Steps :

1. 20 bowls of water in a pot, put the scallops and chicken into boiling water. Once the water start boiling again for 10 minutes, turn down the fire to simmer for 1 hour.

2. Best tip to prepare the abalone. Now, to ensure a great texture of the abalone, put the whole can of abalone in hot simmering water to 2 hours before removing and cutting to slices.
3. Soak the fish maw in water to remove any odor.

4. Put in the button mushrooms into the soup.

5. Add the fish maw and slices of abalone into soup in the last 15 minutes of boiling before serving.

What do you think? Anyone for Chinese soup?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Yaw Char Gwai, Yu Tiao = Chinese Doughnuts??

One thing that I missed a lot when I was in the States was "Yau Char Kwai" or "Yu Tiao". I could get it at most of the Chinese dim sum restaurants and also frozen ones are available in supermarkets BUT there is nothing like the hot sizzling ones sold right out of the wok like in Malaysia.

The Cantonese name of "Yau Char Kwai" literally means "Oil Fry Ghost" I kidding? I kid you not!!!

A quick search on wiki - and I found this description -
The Cantonese name yàuhjagwái literally means "oil-fried ghost" and, according to folklore, is an act of protest against Song Dynasty official Qin Hui, who is said to have orchestrated the plot to frame the general Yue Fei, an icon of patriotism in Chinese culture. It is said that the food, originally in the shape of two human-shaped pieces of dough but later evolved into two pieces joined in the middle, represents Qin Hui and his wife, both having a hand in collaborating with the enemy to bring about the great general's demise. Thus the youtiao is deep fried and eaten as if done to the traitorous couple. In keeping with the legend, youtiao are often made as two foot-long rolls of dough joined along the middle, with one roll representing the husband and the other the wife.

Interesting tale isn't it?

Essentially "Yu tiao" (mandarin) or "yau char gwai" (cantonese) is a deep fried strip of dough or fried bread stick or I have even heard some people call it the "Chinese doughnuts". In Chinese culture it is usually eaten for breakfast and normally eaten as an accompaniment for rice congee (porridge) or soy milk.

Let me introduce the best "Yau Char Gwai" in PJ, Malaysia. If you go to Chowyang in PJ, infront of the Mee Yoke coffee shop at 8pm at night, you will find a little stall, a husband, his wife and their son busy at work. You will also see a crowd of people around the little stall waiting for their "Yau char gwais".

The master at work preparing the dough before deep frying.

All the hungry "Yaw Char Gwai" buyers waiting and waiting...

See, the people crowing beside his son (in orange shirt). This is what you need to do. First thing, please go to the son and place your order. Do not stand around, wondering who to order with. Just go to the son and tell him what you want. They are 4 choices of yutiao and you just need to tell him how many of each you need. And then prepare to wait for 30-45 minutes as there would be at least 20 orders ahead of you. :)

This is the wife who is solely incharge of deep frying the "yaw char gwai"

These are selections of yu tiao available.
1. Ham cheen peng (salty dough)
2. Ham cheen peng with Tau sar (Salty dough with red bean paste)
3. Yu Tiao with Loh mai fan (Dough with glutinous rice)

But my favourite is the Original "Yu Tiao" or "Yaw Char Gwai".

Now, let me tell you the way to enjoy this delicious "Yu Tiao". It is true, we eat this commonly with congee (porridge) or in Hong Kong, they eat this with soymilk. But, I love to eat this with black coffee. The combination is super yummylicious!

Just dip into a hot black coffee and put it in your mouth. Yummy!

I wanted to take a photo of me eating it, just to show how delicious it is but then again, I decided against it. errr...don't think it will be a pretty photo of me eating a long strip of dough, if you know what I mean :)

Anyway, this is one item that I have never attempted to make myself, I don't know if I ever will but then again who knows.

Click here for a link Lily Wai Sek Hong's recipe who has made this at home.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Cinnamon Rolls - Inspiration from Paula Deen!

My favourite TV channel in the States is…..believe it or not… The Foodnetwork Channel!
It is so wonderful to be able to tune in anytime and watch wonderful food being prepared. Some of my favourite chefs on TV are Tyler Florence, Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay, Ina Garten, Giada De Laurentiss, not forgetting Paula Deen.

I would like to share a recipe on cinnamon rolls that I followed to the dot from Paula Deen.

Paula Deen is an American cook, restaurateur and Emmy Award-winning television personality. She is a big Southern lady with a think Southern drawl and naturally she prepares Southern dishes. She has a bubbly personality and it is funny (and “sinful”) to see how she always playfully puts extra butter or chocolate into her cooking.

I saw one episode whereby she made cinnamon rolls and I knew immediately that I had to make it. Not because I am a fan of cinnamon rolls but because it was so easy to make and I had in my pantry most of the ingredients required to make it.

I am new to baking (just started baking for a few months) and thus when my cinnamon rolls turned out so well, I was ecstatic.

Doesn't it just look yummy? Please go to my step by step recipe blog for the recipe and step by step photos instructions. Do check it out yeah. Trust is so easy to make!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mee Suah for my birthday

Sometimes my mom does surprise me and I thought there are nothing that would surprise me anymore. My mom is a very tough lady and brought me up with an iron fist. She loves in a scolding and nagging way, little warmth, the typical "I am your mother, listen to me" way!!.

Infact, all my life, my birthdays are hardly ever celebrated at home but a red packet from my mom would be customary. Oh yeah...2 hard boiled eggs too.

So this year on my birthday, I woke up in the morning and got ready for work, When I came to the kitchen, my mom cooked a bowl of meesuah with 2 hard boiled eggs for my birthday. I was touched.

Mee Suah is a fine dried wheat/rice noodle with a smooth texture which is usually sold in dried form. It is very brittle in uncooked form as the strands are really thin and fine. Apparently it is a specialty of Xiamen, Fujian and essentially a Hokkien dish. It is a tradition for Hokkiens to eat mee suah at all important celebrative occasions such as birthdays, weddings & Lunar New Year.

Also, it is often referred to as food for the sick! Due to it's soft texture and usually cooked in soup, it is easy to be eaten by someone who is not feeling well.

A quick and simple recipe for Mee Suah Soup

Simple Ingredients
100 grammes of mee suah (or 2 pieces)
50 grammes of pork (sliced thinly or minced)
2 large eggs
handful of ikan bilis (anchovies)
fried sliced shallots (for garnishing)
3-4 tablespoons of cooking oil
4 soup bowls of hot water

Simple Steps

1. Heat oil in wok and fry shallots till golden brown. Remove fried shallots and set aside.
2. Leaving about 2 TBSP of oil in wok, add minced pork and saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Put aside
3. Add 1 TBSP of oil and fry the anchovies for 1 min.
4. Add water into wok with anchovies and bring to boil. This will act as soup base. Add mee suah and stir well. Mee suah cooks fairly, so make sure you do not over cook.
5. Add the cooked minced pork, a bit of salt to taste, once soup is boiling, scoop it up. It is ready!
6. Garnish with fried shallots prior to serving. Serves approximately 2 persons.

Please note that Mee Suah absorbs water pretty quickly so you should serve and eat immediately. If not, you will end up with soggy noodles.

Monday, November 10, 2008

7 things you did not know about me and mysimplefood

I am so new to blogging, I don't really know what is "meme" is. Small small baker tagged me, I really appreciate it, though I don't understand what is "meme" but I definitely understand the concept so I am returning the favour.

I also thought it is a good time to introduce myself a bit more. So here's 7 things you did not know about me.

1) is actually my second food blog. I created first but when I got my own domain name, I just feel so sad to let go of my first blog so I decided to keep both. One is a recipe blog and another is anything and everything about food.

2) Simple is my theme. Why simple? Cos I am a really simple cook. I try to find fast and simple ways to cook my meals and usually it is not elaborate but yet it turns out to be a good meal. I also do not have extravagant taste, usually preferring the simple dishes vs the expensive ones.

3) I have an amazing love story with my hubby. hahaha..ok maybe to me, it is amazing :). We are both Malaysians. However he has been in the US since his university days and I have always been in Malaysia. We met one day in our early 30s. How we met? How we started? hehehe.....both of us just started to blog again about our love story. If you are interested to find out, click here.

He is my Hubby-D and I am his Wifey-M

4) My Hubby-D is still in US and currently I am in Malaysia. Sad huh!! It is just a temporary arrangement. We would be together soon.

5) I just started blogging and I am pretty obsessed with it. I have errr, probably 8 blogs that I try to main regularly and I even offered to maintain a blog for a friend. Crazy huh!

6) My food photos are all taken with my digital camera Sony Cybershot. hehehe, no money to buy an SLR yet.

7) Last but not least, my secret be a multi-millionaire blogger. Haha....seriously. No, I am kidding!

Here I am tagging 7 food bloggers, I hope they have fun with this meme!!

1. My Love, My Food

2. Ah Shui Little Kitchen

3. House of Annie

4. Have your Cake and Eat it too!

5. Salt & Tumeric

6. Wandering Chopsticks

7. Food Made Simple - my other self :)

Here are the rules for tagging:

1. Link to my blog (tagger) on your blog.

2. Give seven facts about yourself.

3. Tag another seven bloggers by leaving a comment on their blogs and letting them know they were tagged and listing them (and their blogs) on your blog.

Ok, done....can anyone tell me now - what exactly does a "meme" mean?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Hubby-D made Marble Cake

I am really proud of my Hubby-D. I can't believe he followed my recipe and he made Marble Cake all by himself.

My confession - I kinda feel really guilty. I left him by himself in the States a month ago to come back to Malaysia. Suddenly, he is left without his "wonderful" wife (ahem, ahem, moi) who prepares a hot dinner for him everyday. When I was in the States, I also picked up baking and he was my guinea pig to taste my baking experiments. He will be coming back to Malaysia in December but meanwhile, he would have to fend for himself. "Sorry Hubby-D, I promise I will make it up to you!"

We were talking on the phone last week and I suggested to him to bake my marble cake recipe since I have a lot of butter left in the fridge. I was surprised that he enthusiastly agreed. I was kinda worried as he has never baked before, so I cracked my brains to tell him roughly what he needed to do over the phone. I told him to refer to my blog posting on as I have posted the step by step recipe on how I made it the first time.

I was skeptical that he will do it but when I called him the next day (morning), he was in the kitchen baking (evening in the States)!! Wow! I could not believe it, he was actually baking for the first time.

Hubby-D followed my recipe step by step and he said it was easy. Infact, he said it tasted really yummy too. I am so proud of him. He will have to make it for me from now onwards. :)

Please follow this link to see my recipe for marble cake. Btw, I use muffin cups for my marble cake so that I get individual portions which is a great way tip for convenience. No need to cut the cake. If you never baked before, do try...cos if my hubby-D can make it, then it must be really easy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Madam Kwan's Nasi Bojari

My first restaurant's food review!! Since I started, one of the intention is to cover reviews on the different food that I taste whether it is my own recipes or the ones I eat outside of home. Since I have been back from the States a month ago, I have been going around enjoying my favourite Malaysian cuisine. Therefore, I am excited to write my first review on a popular Malaysian restaurant called Madam Kwan's.

Madam Kwan's originally started out as Sakura Restaurant along Jalan Imbi which was famous for their Nasi Lemak and Curry. I have never been to the Sakura Restaurant but I have heard great reviews about it. Many years ago, they rebranded and opened new outlets under the name of Madam Kwan's which offered old favourites from the Sakura menu plus new ones like the ever famous Nasi Bojari.

Nasi Bojari is their signature dish. I believe its origins is from Indonesia. However I have been searching to find out further info but yet not able to find out where it is from. I found the following statement from a forum which extracted an old article from NST -

Nasi Bojari is from Indonesia where the rice is meant for royalty, and is layered red, yellow and white. "We can’t do it here," said Madam Kwan. So she did the next best thing — frying the rice with bits of chicken, garlic and dried prawns and lightly tinging the rice with red, and yellow from turmeric. "It’s rice for royalty," said Kwan, which is why the Indonesians who come to dine have not had it before. There little bursts of flavours in the rice from the ingredients in it.

Thus, yes..there is a Madam Kwan. Infact, the word around town is that she personally mixes the spices before passing it to her cooks. That's the reason the food is tasty.

Nasi Bojari is quite a large serving. It comes with perfectly blended spices of coloured rice, assam prawns, shredded beef rendang (or you can opt for chicken rendang), hard boiled egg, slices of tomato and cucumber and if that is not enough there is a huge fried chicken thigh. The rice has a nice aromatic taste that goes especially well with the deep fried chicken. Madam Kwan has definitely perfected the art of a delicious deep fried chicken. Its crispy on the outside but on the inside.... mhhmmm ... it is still tender and juicy. You can even order the fried chicken thighs separately if one is not enough.

Madam Kwan's has gone from strength to strength with the immensely popular KLCC branch (there is a queue always) and another branch in Mid Valley, Telawi Street Bangsar (I wonder if it is still there?) and I heard they also have one in Pavillion now. While I am only featuring the popular nasi bojari on this blog, I would like to mention that they are very popular for other local Malaysian cuisine such as Nasi Lemak, Curry Laksa, Curry Fish Head, Hainan Chicken rice etc. ‘Truly Malaysian Cuisine’, is Madam Kwan’s tagline and they stay true to it.

Pros: 1. A great place to start off your foreign friends on. It has all the popular and delicious Malaysian cuisine and it is air conditioned. Therefore a good place to start for foreign friends vs the culture shock of mamak stalls -("street food stalls").

Cons: A bit on the pricey side for local food. While the food is delicious, you are paying a premium of more than RM10 for each item vs eating in local stalls.
Also, usually when a restaurant get too popular, the service is compromised.

Please go to Big Boys Kitchen for a recipe for Nasi Bojari.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Mini cupcakes

Isn't this the sweetest looking cupcakes?

My good friend Jens made these and I thought it was just so cute and sweet. As for me, I have not attempted to make cupcakes yet mainly because I could not see myself making the icing cream for the topping. I don't want to know how much fat and sugar I will be consuming. Since I started baking (and that's just a few months ago), the only thing that makes me want to bake less is the fact I need to measure the amount of sugar and butter that goes into a cake. "That much??!!" Sigh!

So, as long I have not figured what and how much fattening ingredients are required to make the cream...I live happy consuming it.

For now, let me enjoy all the creams on cupcakes, guilt free! Dig in!
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