Wednesday, January 28, 2009

THE Dinner Of The Year

Before we get to the food part, let me wish everyone gong xi fa cai throughout the year of the golden Ox. Why is the Fook character upside down? That is to wish everyone Fook Tau meaning luck, prosperity and everything good arrives.
The Reunion Dinner of the Chinese New Year, we had it at my brother, TM's house. 
It was a potluck dinner and each was to bring just two dishes...but look what a banquet it turned out to be...

Let's start with the poultry

 Bai zhan ji (white cut chicken)
My sis-in-law's signature dish. She had the chicken cooked to perfection. A must-have favorite.

Braised chicken with mushrooms. The succulent mushrooms took center stage here.
Roast duck

The seafood
Sea cucumber

Sweet and sour prawns

Deluxe fish cake with crab stick and nori

The porky dishes

Another must-have Hakka fare, yong tofu

A cold dish of pork trotters and jelly fish pickles

The Vegetables

Baby kailan 

Broccoli and carrots

All these for fifteen of us... one new year's resolution made less than a month ago thrown out of the window :p.
Once again, have a happy, healthy, harmonious and prosperous year of the Ox.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fish Maw Soup

When we were growing up, only during CNY festive season (or on wedding dinners) that this dish was served. So whenever the aroma of this fishy delicacy is detected, it triggers my brain cells to kicked into an overdrive of celebration gear. As I wasn't quite in a festive mood even a week before the CNY, I felt I had to self induce some. So I cooked the fish miaw soup and that did the trick because that same day I began to bring out the CNY deco for the house :-D.
Fish maw is the gas bladder of a fish that helps it to change depth without swimming.
I have always bought them ready to cook. Usually they come in the dried form and you would have to deep fry them first before they can be added to a dish.
This batch of fish maw we bought this year was from Hong Kong and was processed a little differently. They were not deep fried in oil but deep fried in a wok of tiny rock salt pebbles, I was told.
I prefer this method becouse I have always had doubts about the freshness of the deep frying oil used commercially. Also, when the maws are deep fried in oil they have to be consumed within a short time or the oil would turn rancid and rendered the maw inedible.

Two fish maws when soaked yield about 2 cups.

All you need for the soup are:
1 kampong chicken, cut into small pieces
2 carrots, peeled and sliced or diced
10 red dates, washed and stoned (flatten them with the side of a chopper and the stones can be easily remove)
some dried mushrooms, soaked until soft
a bowl of soaked fish maw
2-3 L water
salt and pepper 

~Bring water to boil.
~Add the chicken and when the water begins to boil again, lower heat and simmer for 1/2 hour.
~Add carrots, dates and mushroom and simmer for another 1/2 hour.
~Add fish maw, bring to boil and let it cook for about 3 - 5 minutes.
~Season to taste.
~Serve hot.

Beside making soup, fish maw can be cooked stuffed with minced meat like yong tau foo or braised with chicken and mushroom, all delicious.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Gift

This beautiful christmas gift came all the way from New Zealand. I cried when I received it, not of sadness but more of a realization of how, in so many ways and instances I underestimated or overlooked  my children's thoughtfulness.
A recipe box. What is so special about that? You might ask. To me, it is priceless and it showed me the thought that went into the gift. Let me share with you the reason why this gift touched my heart so...

This has been my recipe box for more than a decade, a branded classic :-p. It housed many of my favorite recipes. I have had it for so long that I never really see the need to upgrade. I was really very surprised that someone in the house noticed this item which was always tucked at a corner and that it was my son even amazes me more.
This showed me how much more I need to learn about my children and how they grow and change with the years.

The old and the new.

The new has the index cards which I always wanted but never got around to do for my old.

The old fits perfectly in the new house.

Look so good too.

Finally my recipes are categorized. 

Now I am busy taking down more of my favorite recipes from another of my dinosaur's age (before the age of internet) recipe recording method which is about to fall into pieces...

 ...the one and only, limited edition cookbook, my green book.

A cut and paste pesto sauce recipe from a food wrapper (I remember it was from the plastic bag that came with the pine nuts from Mee). Very authentic recipe.

Another cut and paste, the fabulous CNY Yee Sang recipe of  Amy Beh found in The Star.

Even though I love the internet access to recipes, I still prefer to have my recipes in cards as they are more handy (have you ever try running back and forth from where the computer is to the kitchen like 10x to make sure you've got a recipe correctly?), unless and until I have a computer in the kitchen (even then)...

...this will remains my most treasured box for a long, long time. 
Thank you, Don.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

And A Year Older

Leanne read the last post and felt very hurt that her recent her birthday party was not included. It totally slipped my mind.
With the lunch and dinner calendar so fully packed and the new school term looming we decided to have something very simple and small in the last minute. I gave her a limit in the number of guests to invite because the two kokos (her brothers) were not around to help with games and crowd control. I was so relieved when she decided she wanted the party to be an all-girls do.
It was a very nice relaxing party and I think the girls were glad there were no boys around.
I cooked an aubergine pasta which Leanne like but was apprehensive that the rest might not take to it (the only meat was some bacon crisps for flavor). Anyway, I needn't have worried as they loved it too. I will post the recipe the next time I cook it as I don't have any food pictures, if you noticed. The reason being I wasn't the one behind the camera.
I did the cake too as I just couldn't bring myself to get one of those colorful thingy that taste like chemical concoction in our neighborhood bakery stores. Leanne wasn't very happy as there was no deco but it was a hit taste-wise. A peach crumble cheesecake, very easy to do, will put up the recipe once I get a reasonable picture.

The closest of the food pics. He does take good portraits though...

Monday, January 12, 2009

A New Year

Before anything else, late as it is, I would like to wish everyone a happy, healthy and harmonious 2009.

Mee first taste of chicken rice at Wiya @ Segama, the oldest known chicken rice shop in KK town. She gave it a thumbs up.

Then came the best fried noodle (Little Dave, you would love these), better than the one in Tamparuli and can only be found in Papar. 

Dong Zhi, 'celebration of the arrival of winter' was on 21st Dec. and we had a steamboat dinner over at Chiew's place. I only had eyes for the desserts...

Two days later we had a surprise wedding anniversary party for Mee and David at Tet's place. 
Yes, 30 years and still going strong...we wish you many more happy years together!
Christmas eve and night. Ben's house first and then my place... the food was endless. Last year I didn't do any turkey but this year, two in a row and they were soo good. Go to Terri's blog for the recipe. 

Come end of the year and wedding invitations come flooding in, it seems to be the favorite season to get hitched...this year there is one extra special one. Nancy, my niece decided to join the crowd, ended the long courtship and tied the knot with Loong.  Their wedding started off on the 30th December with a mass in St. Simon Church in Likas with a luncheon to follow. Wedding dinner was held on the 6th January. Why? I heard it was because the major hotels in town were booked out every single night for this peak period with wedding and year-end company dinners. So for anyone thinking of a big do for their wedding, book earlier or choose a less busy season like March...

Weddings always bring tears but in a most joyful way.

 This is also the time when family and friends near and far come together to rejoice.

1st January, 2 truckloads of the family went up to Kundasang. Stayed at Zen Garden in a three- room cabin, very spacious (with living room big enough to dance in) and with cooking facility. The mountain view was breathtaking but the temperature was too warm unlike in the Kinabalu National Park.  

Pre-wedding food tasting at Silk Garden, Pacific Sutera Hotel.

See all the pros at play.... attended the opening of Metro, a pool and snooker center in Damai.

and that of course meant more food... the roast pork on the top right was the main attraction.

In addition to all the above, we brought them to all our favorite restaurants like Baba and Nyonya, Welcome Seafood, Gaya Sports (this one has improved tremendously since I last posted on it. Too bad I didn't bring along my camera this time.), pork soup in Dongongon, best Kuching laksa  in town ... endless feast.
And now I am eating boil veggies and brown rice everyday until CNY... 
I have made a resolution to treat my body well and that means early to bed late night blogging is out. 
With no food to speak of and time (as I blog at snail's pace - one post takes me hours in front of the computer and I used to blog when all are asleep and the house quiet) what is to become of this food blog???