Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Malaysian Curry Laksa in a pack

There are so many variations of Laksa in Malaysia. There is Assam laksa, Johor Laksa, Sarawak laksa, Curry laksa etc. Every state or every hawker stalls probably has a different twist to this Spicy Noodle Soup delicacy in Malaysia.

Curry laksa (in many places referred to simply as “laksa”) is a coconut-based creamy curry soup filled with many condiments and added with yellow noodles or vermicelli.

For me, I love Curry Laksa. It must be the one that is infused with curry flavours. It is almost like creamy curry chicken broth but diluted as soup base. And then topped with curry chicken or steamed chicken breast, hard boiled eggs and dried tofu. Oh yeah, the dried tofu is just decorative piece for me ( I don't like tofu!!) cos I know you must have dried tofu in curry laksa. The tofu will usually be passed on to my dearest family and friends who is seated beside me and they will gladly take it before giving me that "you are so missing out" look.

I am a simple eater, easily satisfied with my noodles in curry broth with chicken and egg. If the curry laksa broth is good, I can literally to slurp down every drop of it.

I made sure I brought my stocks of instant curry laksa packets from Malaysia. I think this brand Tean's Gorumet is still the best and probably closest to a good laksa but definitely nothing near authentic cooked laksa. Beggars can't be choosers. For instant quick fix, an instant pack is a saviour! Time to dress up my Curry Laksa!

Simple Ingredients :
1. 1 packet of Tean's Gourmet Malaysian Traditional Curry Laksa
2. 1 pound of chicken breast
3. 12-16 pcs of dried tofu (Tauhu Pok)
4. 12 strands of long beans
5. 4 hard boiled eggs
7. 1 can of 150ml coconut milk
8. 60gm of Bean sprouts
9. 600gm of yellow noodles or vermicelli.
10. Cockles (Optional - for those who like cockles, please do add. I don't take cockles)

Simple Steps :
1. Firstly, boil your eggs in hot boiling water for 5 - 7 minutes and turn off the gas and let the eggs sit for at least 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, start another pot of 1500ml of boiling water. If you are not too particular about the texture of the chicken, I usually will put in the whole chicken breast in the hot water and boil for 10 minutes till cooked. I will then remove from water and let it sit for 10 minutes before I slice to thin pieces. 2 reason why I do this - 1) It is faster (though the chicken may end up tough if boiled for too long) 2) I use the water that boiled the chicken as broth for my laksa soup. If you want to control the tenderness of the chicken meat, slowly poached it and don't let the hot water be boiling it.

3. Next, Mix 1 packet of Tean's Gourmet Curry Laksa Paste in boiling chicken broth water.

4. Add in 150ml thick coconut milk. Bring to a quick boil and switch to low fire. Add in the fried tofu.

5. Blanch 600g fresh yellow noodles or vermicelli and 60g bean sprouts in another pot of water.

6. Divide into 4 bowls. Place noodles and bean sprouts and green beans in the bowl,then add the sliced chicken breast and hard boiled eggs on top. Pour the hot steaming curry laksa into bowl with the fried tofu.

7. If you like spice, you can add more chilli sambal and also lime juice for the slight kick.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Mid Autumn Festival Celebration!

Growing up, I have never been much of a person into celebrating the different festivals. Raised in a multi-racial society in Malaysia, there is more than fair share of festivals let alone the Chinese festivals that my family celebrate. In these occasions, I would do the necessary like come home early for family dinners, and eat whatever get served which are usually loads of goodies.

Now that I am here in USA, I kinda miss all these festivals that I have taken for granted since it was always there. This week is the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Cake Festival or Zhongqiu Festival (traditional Chinese: 中秋節)

The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is in September or early October. Traditionally on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomelos under the moon together.

In Malaysia, we will also carry brightly lit lanterns around the neighbourhood which I think is primarily targetted to keep kids entertained.

This year, my first celebration in USA, I am glad to have our friend Mr and Mrs Ming who gave us a box of mooncake - lotus paste with double egg yolks!! It is made in USA but it taste pretty much the same with the ones back home. Hooray!!

Yesterday night, I cooked a nice Chinese dinner (translates to "a little bit more elaborate" than usual fare) for hubby and myself just so to indicate I am doing my part to celebrate the event.

And then we enjoyed the mooncake with a cup of Chinese tea. It does bring back memories of home far-away.

Have a great celebration to those who are celebrating!!

I did a search for details of the origins of this festival and this one from wikipedia is the closest story to what I grew up knowing.

Overthrow of Mongol rule
According to a widespread folk tale (not necessarily supported by historical records), the Mid-Autumn Festival commemorates an uprising in China against the Mongol rulers of the Yuan Dynasty (1280–1368) in the 14th century. As group gatherings were banned, it was impossible to make plans for a rebellion. Noting that the Mongols did not eat mooncakes, Liu Bowen (劉伯溫) of Zhejiang Province, advisor to the Chinese rebel leader Zhu Yuanzhang, came up with the idea of timing the rebellion to coincide with the Mid-Autumn Festival. He sought permission to distribute thousands of moon cakes to the Chinese residents in the city to bless the longevity of the Mongol emperor. Inside each cake, however, was inserted a piece of paper with the message: "Kill the Mongols on the 15th day of the 8th month" (traditional Chinese: 八月十五殺韃子; simplified Chinese: 八月十五杀鞑子). On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), under Zhu. Henceforth, the Mid-Autumn Festival was celebrated with moon cakes on a national level.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chilled Tofu with Fried Shallots

I have a confession. I don't like Tofu. Never liked them since young and still try to avoid them now if not for the occasional I take a few bites cos I am eating with others reason.

I know it weird that a Chinese girl don't like tofu. Tofu is like staple for all Chinese, Japanese and Koreans. For me, I think I don't like it due to the strong soy bean taste which is probably what others like it for. I guess it is that reason as I am ok with egg tofu which is made with egg and thus do not have the soy taste.

My Hubby-D loves tofu so occasionally I still make sure I buy tofu and make crank up some tofu dishes. Luckily, he is easy to please. Since he like tofu so much, he says don't do too much too it, it taste great simple. Tofu with fried shallots is a really simple recipe and I do agree with him that it taste pretty good. For me, I take more of fried shallots and less of the tofu and yeah it's yummy. Best of all it is so simple to make.

Simple Ingredients:
1. 1 pack of soft tofu (Square packet easily available at all Chinese grocery stores)
2. 2 TBSP of oyster sauce
3. 3-5 pieces of shallots - sliced thinly
4. Oil for frying

Simple Steps :
1. Remove tofu from pack gently. Since it is soft tofu, the texture is very delicate. Drain away the water that is inside the container. If you like, which I do, I will run some tap water into container to rinse the tofu before taking in out.

2. In a pan with oil, fry the shallots till golden brown. Make sure you remove the shallots just as it is turning golden brown. If you don't it can easily get burnt and turn dark brown.

3. Place the tofu in your serving plate. Place 2 TBSP of oyster sauce on top of tofu and then the fried shallots. for even better taste, drizzle some of the shallot's oil on it. Ready to be served.

This dish is served cold. Do not require to heat up. However, if you like it hot, you can microwave it for 1 minute. Do bear in mind, when you do, the water retained in tofu will ooze out creating a little broth. This is a really simple and nutritional dish and for this Chinese girl that don't like tofu, I do take a few bites for the yummy shallots and delicious oyster sauce and the bits of tofu that sticks to the spoon.

UPDATE : I initially named this dish Cold Tofu but when my Hubby-D saw my posting, he corrected me and said it should be Chilled Tofu. Ok Hubby-D!! You are the tofu-man! :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dessert : Sesame Rice Ball

Sometimes, I get amazed by what I set out to do. Seriously I never thought I would make ever make this but I did and it worked. :)

I made this a few months back while I was still in Malaysia. I can still hear my mom sighing and mumbling to herself about the fact that I was going to mess up the kitchen again. You see, my mom is not adventurous in the kitchen, She likes everything simple and routine so whenever I go on my "experimental ventures", she will definitely say "Mah Fun (Cantonese)" or simply "Troublesome". And this has multiple meanings a.k.a... "You are troublesome", "Cooking this dish is troublesome", "Messing up the kitchen is troublesome"... etc.

However, when I make up my mind, I am unstoppable, I will find the recipe, check out more recipes to determine what is the right mix for what I want to make. But the real inspiration to make this dessert is really because I am a big pack of sesame seeds left and I needed a recipe to use them.

Hence this yummy Chinese recipe of Sesame Rice Ball, often served as dessert after a 10-course Chinese dinner. If you have not eaten this before, I encourage you to try it as it is really delicious.

Simple ingredients :

1. 2 cups of Glutinous Rice Flour (available in most Asian grocery stores)
2. 1 cup of red bean paste (may not need all)
3. 1/2 cup of brown sugar
4. 1 cup of boiling hot water
5. 1/2 cup of white sesame seeds
6. Oil for frying

Simple Steps :

1. First, dissolve the brown sugar in 1 cup of the boiling water.

2. Place the rice flour in a large bowl. Make a "well" in the middle of the bowl and add the dissolved sugar and water mixture. Stir until you have a sticky, caramel-colored dough. If the dough is too dry, add a bit more of boiling water.

3. Pinch off a piece of dough and roll it into a round shape (roughly the size of a ping-pong ball).

4. Make a deep indentation in the middle of dough. Place 1 tsp of red bean paste on the dough. Tip - you can roll up the red bean paste into round shape balls (much smaller than ping-pong size).
Pinch the sides of dough to seal up the red bean paste in the middle of dough. It is important to make sure the red bean paste is completely covered. Continue with the remainder of the dough.

5. Dip a ball into the small bowl of water (this will help the sesame seeds stick to the ball). Roll the ball over the sesame seeds. Repeat the process with the remainder of the balls.

6. Heat up wok of oil, deep-fry the sesame seed balls, a few at a time.

7. Once the sesame seeds turn light brown (about 2 minutes), use the back of a spatula or a large ladle to gently press the balls against the side of the wok or saucepan. You can also use long wooden chopsticks to apply pressure on each of the balls. This is help the balls expand and fluff up to 2-3 times its original size.

8. Drain the deep-fried sesame seed balls on paper towels. Serve immediately while it is slightly warm.

When you bite into these rice balls, you will find a crunchy texture on the outside enveloped by a fluffy and slightly chewy dough and then a smooth and sweet filling of red bean paste. Simply delicious!!

As for mom, she was rather delighted by the success of how the sesame rice balls turned out but she still mumbled under her breath.....Too "mah fun" (troublesome) to make these BUT I know she meant it as "Delicious"!! :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Marmite Chicken

Who grew up eating Marmite? Who is still eating Marmite even though you are all grown up? Raise your hands! Me!! :)

I remember when I was young, there was almost like a competition between Marmite and Bovril in my house. I only ate Marmite and my brother was the Bovril fan and my parents would only buy either one at any one point of time.

I kept faithful to my Marmite all these years and recently I found out that my brother has converted to be more of a Marmite fan than me. He denies that he was ever liked Bovril when he was young but I know better :)

For those who has not been introduced to Marmite, it is essentially a food spread made from yeast extract, apparently a by-product of beer brewing according to wikipedia. It is a sticky, dark brown paste with a distinctive, powerful flavour, which is extremely salty and savoury comparable to soy sauce. Yums! You either love it or hate it!!

I like Marmite as it is a vegetable extract vs Bovril has beef extracts thus I never caught on to Bovril. Marmite is usually eaten as a savoury spread on bread, toast, crackers and biscuits. But I only eat Bovril 3 ways 1)On rice or porridge, 2)Dilute in water as soup and 3)Just lick it off the spoon.

Alrite, I am a big girl now so I need to find more ways to use my favourite "little girl's" spread. Hence, my recipe for the day - Marmite Chicken.

Simple Ingredients
1. 3/4 pound of chicken breast or thigh - cut in big cube sizes

Marinade -
1 TBSP Oyster sauce
1 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 egg
3 TBSP cornflour

Sauce -
2 TBSP of Marmite
1 TBSP honey
1 TBSP light soy sauce
100ml water
1 TBSP maltose (optional - you can add this for richer dark colour)

Oil for deep frying

Simple Steps :

1. Marinade the chicken for minimum 1 hour.

2. Heat oil for deep frying. Put in chicken one by one and make sure they don't stick to each other. Once deep brown, remove and drain oil.

3. Heat saucepan. Add all the sauce ingredients into pan. Make sure it is mixed well. In medium heat, let the sauce thicken. Add in the fried chicken and coat well for 1 minute. Add in some chopped scallion if desired. Dish out and serve.

Simple right? I hope you like the recipe. Marmite really adds a tangy, salty, sweet and savoury taste to the chicken. Every bite is juicy and yummy. Enjoy!

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