Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cooked Mushroom

It is so convenient to have some cooked mushrooms that are ready just to be popped into a dish straight from the fridge. Here I did the Japanese style (for the scattered sushi) but the Chinese way is similar in preparation. Only the marinade is different. These will keep for a week or so in the fridge and longer in the freezer (just thaw out before use).

To prepare 10 - 15 dried shiitaki mushroom

For Chinese dishes (except for soup):
3 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup shaoxin wine
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon oil

For Japanese dishes:
2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 cup water + 1 teaspoon dashi granules
3 tablespoon mirin
2 teaspoon sugar

Wash mushrooms and soak until soft.
Remove stems from mushrooms.
Drain and squeeze out any excess water.
Put all the ingredients (except the mushrooms) in a small saucepan and bring to boil.
Add the mushrooms, bring to boil and lower heat to simmer.
Cook for 20-30 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.
Cool and keep in fridge until needed.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Easy chicken casserole

This dish was definitely inspired by Jamie Oliver. It was a quick dish put together late one lazy Sunday evening (lazing in front of tv @ channel 703 -Asian food channel).

Time was short so instead of roasting the bird whole, I chopped it into four big chunks, pat dried and seasoned generously with salt and pepper and dried basil (no more fresh basil).
Scavenged through the fridge looking for anything that will go with this to make it one-pot (as usual).
Found some carrots, tomatoes, a lone green pepper (hurray!).
Wanted some potatoes but found sweet potatoes instead (can do too).
Added in some sliced big onions and a whole bulb of garlic cloves (unpeeled).
Drizzled a casserole dish with olive oil, laid the halved tomatoes first then the chicken pieces.
Added the rest of the peeled and chunked veggies on top.
Sprinkled some more seasoning, dashes of olive oil and dots of butter on top of casserole.
Popped into a preheated oven at 180c for 1 hour or more (if you like your chicken falling off the bones).

The chicken came out so flavorful and juicy I was pleasantly surprised. There was enough of the yummy chicken and veggies infused gravy to go round with the soft mashy veggies which the kids loved.
Serve with crusty bread slices topped with a squeeze of the cooked garlic (the way Leanne like it) or rice (the way Keshia like it) in front of tv @ channel 703.....

Have a good day!


Friday, October 26, 2007

Kerabu pucuk pakis

The pakis is an edible fern (fiddlehead fern) that is very popular in this part of the world. In most restaurants that serve them, they are usually fried with a sambal belacan sauce, very delicious. K did this simple Thai styled appetizer with dried shrimps. Refreshing and oh sooo good!

Pakis kerabu
2 cups pakis soft tips, washed and cut into 2" length
1 tablespoon dried prawns, washed and soaked

1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoon lime juice
1-2 bird's eye chillies, chopped
sugar, to taste

Blanch the pakis in boiling water for 2-3 minutes; rinse in cold water and drain.
Drain the dried prawns and chop or pound coarsely; fry in a dry pan without oil over medium heat until fragrant and golden.
Sprinkle a pinch of sugar on the dried prawn to caramelise and off the heat.
Mix together the dressing, adjust to suit your taste (our palates lean heavily to the sourish side); toss in well with the pakis and chilled. Mix in the dried prawns to serve.

K and Jo

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Steamed Pork Ribs With Salted Plums

Came upon this Chinese blog, ilit kitchen from Piggy's.
Went to a Chinese school until standard two when my dad decided to put me in an English Convent run by the Catholic nuns.
It was a rather traumatic period for an eight-year-old who could not speak a word of English.
But now, I am really grateful for the experience.
I can understand Chinese characters (but cannot, for the dear life of me, write any thing legible in Chinese).
I thank my lucky star and my mum's life-changing example for that.
She was one of the unfortunate ones that was not given a chance to go to school when young but she had heaps of determination to learn to read and write!
She found a way to learn by studying along with her children every evening when they came home with their school work and with the help of a dictionary.
As they were studying Chinese and so that was what she learnt too.
Many years later, when a few of my older brothers and sisters were overseas studying, she put aside a little time every evening to write letters (you know, those endangered species that we post with stamps and take planes rides) to them.
I saw her taking, sometimes, up to three days to compose a short letter, stopping at almost every word to check the dictionary.
I grew up watching her read the dictionary from cover to cover.
I pray that some of her persevering trait had rub off on me!
And also thanks to all my older siblings who left all the Chinese comics, newspapers and novels all over the house, I never lose touch with the Chinese language all through my years of growing up.
Now, I am so glad that I don't have to miss out on all these mouth-watering recipes in Chinese.
Try this steamed pork ribs. It is heavenly and so simply to do... I love salted plums and this dish is just oozing with its tangy aroma and teamed it with pork ribs...another match made in heaven! I did cut down on the amount of salted plums from 8 to 6 because the bottled plums I have is extremely salty.
Go to ilit kitchen for the recipe and if you need any translation let me know (sounds just like a standard-two-know-all!).


Monday, October 22, 2007

Scattered Seafood Sushi

This family loves Japanese food but eating out in Japanese restaurant has to be on special occasions because of the cost factor. The next best thing (in fact, I think it is the best thing as I have control over the freshness, quality and quantity of my ingredients) is to cook Japanese at home and it is not difficult.
Want to do something which restaurants don't normally serve and easy...that leaves me with the scattered sushi which means anything goes. The best thing about this dish is, you put what you like for the toppings.
While getting a few things for the dish, I saw grilled unagi all ready to serve at Recipe House for about Rm20! (an unagi set at our favourite Japanese joint costs Rm 32 with half the amount of unagi I was looking at). Knowing how crazy the kids are over this stuff, I have to include this topping.
So a scattered seafood sushi it is!

Scattered Sushi
Serve 4 - 6

For the sushi rice
4 cups short grain rice, Bario or our very own Saza's beras bukit (hill rice) is good
4 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rice vinegar
Wash rice, add water and cook in the rice cooker.
Mix sugar, salt and vinegar in a small pot over low heat until dissolved. Leave to cool.
When rice is done, leave in cooker for another 10 minutes.
With a flat rice spoon, turn rice out into a wide pan and at the same time sprinkle vinegar mix over the rice.
Toss the rice with horizontal cutting strokes so that the vinegar mixes through. All these done under a fast fan, the reason being to cool the rice fast so that it doesn't become mushy.
When cool, cover with a clean kitchen cloth until ready to use. This rice can be used for all sushi and nori maki.

For the topping
4-6 dried shiitaki mushrooms, soaked until soft, discard stems and slice thinly
1 cup water + 1/2 teaspoon dashi granules
2 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
12 fresh medium sized prawns
200g grilled unagi
2 sheets nori, toasted
3 eggs
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 small cucumber, seeded and julienned

Bring to boil soy sauce, mirin, dashi and sugar in a small pot. Add mushroom, simmer until tender. Drain and let cool.
Dip prawns into boiling water for 2 minutes. Peel, leaving the tails on and devein.
Stir eggs lightly with a dash of sugar and a pinch of salt (don't let air bubbles form).
Cook in a frying pan without stirring or turning with low heat until set. Cool on a chopping board. Cut into thin strips.
Cut unagi into 1 cm stripes.
Place sushi rice on a serving plate. I used a 36cm flat plate so I can thin out the rice to about 2.5 cm thick.
Scatter the eggs, carrot and cucumber over rice. Then crumble the toasted nori over. Arrange the mushroom, prawns and unagi attractively on top, garnish with some julienned pickle ginger on the unagi and cilantro all over.

Note: Suggested toppings - beef or chicken teriyaki over toasted b/w sesame seeds, grilled calamari or sashimi (make sure the fish is very fresh and topped on only when ready to eat).


Friday, October 19, 2007

Smoked Salmon Pasta

K brought home some Tasmanian smoked salmon from Sydney. This is a very simple pasta dish to do but very tasty and rich.

Smoked Salmon pasta
Serves 4

500g pasta (fettuccine, tagliatelle or linguine)
3 clove garlic, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup cream, (a small can of Nestle reduce cream is fine)
1/2 to 1 cup pasta water* + 1/2 stock cube,
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
200g smoked salmon, cut or torn into strips
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Cook pasta in salted water according to package instruction ; drain.
In a saucepan, cook garlic in butter over medium heat until fragant but not brown.
Stir in mustard; add cream.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, add stock and cheese, until smooth and heated through. Turn off heat.
Add pasta; toss to coat pasta and add smoked salmon.
Garnish with parsley and some shaved Parmesan.

*the water left after cooking the pasta


Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Floating Bookstore

The MV Doulos, 'slave' in Greek, is not only the the world largest floating bookstore but it is also recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest ocean-going passenger ship still active. This vessel was built in 1914 as a cargo transport. It is now owned by a German charity which turned it into a book store in 1977. Operating with an all volunteer crew and staff of 320 people from over 40 countries, it has since docked at more than 500 ports and 100 countries. The 130-metre ship boast of over 6,000 categories of books on board! But alas, this grand old vessel is planning to retire in 2021 after more than a century of servitude!
Last week, it docked at Kota Kinabalu port again (apparently it has been here three times before which we missed) and will be here until the 26th October. This would be its last trip to KK before it retire.
Everyday during the 15-day-visit, various programmes are taking place from international cafes but too bad all the tickets were sold out when we enquired.
The bookstore opens to the public until the 26th October: daily from 10:00am to 10:00pm, and Sundays from 2:00pm to 10:00pm.

Hi girls, that's a Aussie flag. Find our Jalur Gemilang! It displays the flag of every country the ship had visited.

The first time I went on one of these was when I was still in secondary school. Anyone remember the Logos? It left a very deep impression on me and I still have the one and only book I bought back then - a Marguerite Patten's International cookbook which cost me an arm and a leg - my entire week of allowance!
This time around, I still ended up at the cookbook section and refused to leave even when the girls screamed for lack of air and water (it was truly packed, I was also feeling the effect of oxygen deprivation). I only managed to get one...'Sweet comfort food'.

One last view of the grand vessel after we disembarked (from nowhere).


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dumplings 'Shui Jiao' 水餃

Shui Jiao 水餃
Over the long Raya weekend we stayed home and didn't go out much. That's because I came down with a virus infection that left me so, so exhausted, feverish and aching from head to toes. Thanks to my two sisters Mui and Pit, who decided to come over to the house and help with dinner.
And guess what? They decided to make dumplings. For us, making dumplings is a very social affair and an event the family always look forward to. Everyone who is in the house would gathers around the table and do what they can. I would never attempt to do dumplings alone, it would be too depressing. This is normally done over the long Chinese new year holiday in between mahjong sessions. Guess Raya must have got them in a festive mood too. Hmm, I think it also had a very therapeutic effect on my fever. I didn't do much except snapped a few shots but just gathering around the table, chit chatting and seeing all the activities just lifted my spirit and fever.

Keshia, the most steady and with the most patience. When everyone had slow down or started eating, she persevered.

The very rare moment we find Mr. Bryan in the kitchen. This is one chore he doesn't mind and he does it very well.

Perfectly wrapped dumplings.

Bryan like these pan-fried guotie 'potstickers' or gyoza as the Japanese called them.

The leftovers are made into these which were supposed to be scallion pancakes but because there were some filling left, they decided to add to the pancake. Like the Indian martabak and I called them bian (flat) goutie.

Shui Jiao

1 kg plain flour (we used 'pau' flour)
~ 600 ml water
a pinch of salt

500 gm pork, minced
500 gm cabbage or Chinese cabbage, thinly shredded, rub with salt and strained off juice
2 small bowls chopped chives, optional
2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Mix flour with enough water to make into a soft dough that is not too sticky.
Knead for a few minute until the dough stop sticking to the fingers and a soft, smooth, shiny texture is achieved.
Cover with a clean damp kitchen towel and leave for at least 30 minutes before use.
Mix all the filling ingredients together.
Have fun wrapping the dumplings, get everyone in the house to join in and do different shapes if they want but make sure the same amount of filling is used for each dumpling ~ 1 tablespoon, to ensure the dumplings get cooked at the same time.

Put dumplings into a big pot of boiling water in a batch of 20 -30 depending on the size of your pot, when it returns to boil pour a glass of cold water in and return it to boil.
Repeat the cold water treatment three times.
Scoop out dumplings and serve hot with dipping sauce.

Dipping sauce:
chopped garlics
julienned ginger
chopped chillies
black vinegar

Leave the all the above ingredients on table with small individual saucers and let everyone do their own sauce.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Ramadan Bazaar @ Sembulan, KK

A little late on this but well, better late than never...

Martabak Jawa, a very popular snack. Roti canai filled with chopped leek, egg and minute amount of chopped beef, deep fried and eaten with cucumber pickles.
The only stall that sells tzong tzi with peanut filling and yam cakes too.

The ever popular satay and bbq chicken wings stalls.

Don't know the name of these but the hawker said 'kueh kacang'.

Ready cooked curries, rendang and lemak dishes.

I have always like these and tried one but it was rather bland.

Cendol, bubur cacang and all the colorful jelly beverages.

Surprisingly the only burger stand in this food bazaar.

Kueh, kueh and more kueh.

BBQ chicken wings and thighs. Yums..

Kuih gelang, curry puffs, popiah, , pancakes and more martabak.

These boys were so jovial and they loved the camera!

BBQ fish. So many stalls selling this item- must be very popular.

This was what we came home with, for our tea...

Martabak Jawa. Bryan's favourite but I had to sponge off the dripping oil before serving it.

Pulut inti. Was so very disappointed with the hawker that sold these, the glutinous rice inside these lovely parcels was half cooked! She shouldn't have them out for sale.The caramelised grated coconut flesh was very good though, not overly sweet. We ended up eating the coconut only.

Beef and chicken satay with ketupat.

As today is the last day of puasa, we would like to wish all our fellow muslim in Malaysia and all over the world - Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri!!!

Travel safe and whatever you do, don't drink and drive.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Happy Birthday, Don

Happy birthday!!

So sad we will not be with Don for his birthday so we are celebrating the day in a very small scale, cupcake size.

Basic Chocolate Cup Cake Recipe
Make 12 cupcakes

110g butter - softened
130g castor sugar
210g flour, sifted with 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder + 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
60 ml milk + 1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoon chocolate chips (optional)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F (180C).
2. Line a 12 cup cake pan, with cup cake papers.
3. Beat butter and suger with an electric mixer until light and creamy.
4. Add egg mixture slowly and continue beating. Add chocolate chips if use and milk.
5. Fold in flour lightly until well-mixed.
6. Divide the mixture evenly between the cake cases about (1/2 to 2/3 full of batter).
7. Bake for 18-20 minutes until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.
8. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool fully before icing.

Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting
150g butter - softened
250g icing sugar
2 tablespoon cocoa powder +2 tsp very hot water

1. Beat together the butter and sugar with an electric beater.
2. Once well combined, add the combined cocoa powder and water. Beat until smooth and creamy.
3. Use a pipping bag with a wide nozzle and let your creative juice run wild.

For the cupcakes above, I bought the chocolate cupcakes from Tong Hing Supermarket and I used the leftover cream cheese frosting from making Keshia's birthday cake. I know I cheated but was in no mood or condition to bake...regretted buying though because the cupcakes were soooo dry. Never mind, I promise to make them from scratch when Don comes home at the end of the year.

Cream cheese frosting
250g cream cheese, softened
45g icing sugar, sifted
90g butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat cream cheese until fluffy and light, add the rest of the ingredients and continue beating until well mixed and smooth. Add one or two tablespoon of melted chocolate if want chocolate frosting.

This frosting is to-die-for with any carrot cakes or cupcakes.


Note: Leanne here--Hi koko HAPPY BIRTHDAY hope u enjoy looking! when u get back we will make for you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

God's tiny gifts

Our backyard abounds with these tiny beauties especially in this rainy season. Each flower is hardly 2 cm and the plant itself is only about 15cm tall.
These humble plants demand so little, hardly any attention needed except maybe an occasional watering during drier weather yet they never stop giving...
They never fail to be there to greet us every morning and make the start of our day a little more cheery.
Especially days when we feel like we are carrying the whole world on our shoulder, these help to ease the burden.

Ok, so much for all that...

The only reason for showing these pictures is to show off my first 'bokeh' (Japanese team for 'blur'). That's right - intentionally blurred certain section of a picture and in this case, the background.

Since getting a new camera for my birthday from my hubby two months ago, I have been fumbling with it and learning from scratch (have always used a point and shoot). Definitely from ground zero, had no idea what aperture, shutter speed, iso and so many other terms meant in photography. Hubby said if I want to improve the picture quality of my food shots I have to use the manual mode and that means learning about all the above. I plowed through photography books, magazines and Internet sites daily (still at it, don't think it will ever be much to learn and soooo facinating). Now, cookbooks have to take a back seat for a while.

Have a nice day!


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Nishiki @ Kota Kinabalu (I)

We were at Nishiki for Keshia's 21st birthday.
Nishiki is one of the oldest Japanese restaurant in town but we didn't realised how old until now. Established in 1987 and that was 20 years ago!! Only a year younger than Keshia!
Japanese restaurants in KK come and go, but Nishiki stood the test of time and it is one of our favourite Japanese restaurant.
We have been going there for years mostly for special occasions or when we have a craving for raw seafood. It serves the best sashimi in town.

They ran out of salmon which was Keshia's favourite (we were there 8pm on a Friday evening and salmon is sold out already).

The birthday girl went for a whooping dinner set with two main courses - a skewered teriyaki beef and seafood deep-fried in crumbs with side dishes of garlic fried rice, salad, miso soup and a radish stew. After the meal she just couldn't handle anymore the ice-cream from Vedablu (just next door).

Bryan and Leanne had the unagi sets. The grilled eel came on top of the rice like a don set and serve with only miso soup and pickles. The unagi was fantastic, according to Leanne but the set itself was a bit of a let-down.

We shared a salmon fish head stew which was delicious.

The mix tempura, a must-have was done to perfection as usual- light and crispy with the freshest ingredients.