Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Filipino Market in Kota Kinabalu

The Filipino market is situated right in front of the Le Meridien Hotel, Kota Kinabalu. It is a market-like shopping paradise with a maze of stalls within. Frequented by the locals and tourists alike for bargains in local goods and many other products from the neighbouring countries like the Philippines and Indonesia. It consists of three section:

1) Handicrafts and souvenirs...
These 'sleeping beauty' masks are almost half a meter in length each!! No idea where they came from but are quite finely crafted.

The 'sompoton'
A local instrument very popular among the Dusun/Kadazan

Below is a brief description of the instrument extracted from : An Introduction to The Traditional Musical Instruments of Sabah, Sabah State Muzium, Kota Kinabalu. 1992.

This mouth organ is the most fascinating of the Sabah native musical instruments. It is constructed from a dried gourd and eight bamboo pipes arranged in a doublelayered raft. One of the pipes has no sound, but merely balances the bundle. By blowing or sucking the gourd's mouth, the player can produced a soft sweet harmonious sound. A small lamella of polod palm (like tiny bungkau) is inserted in the side of each sounding pipe near its base. The pipes are fitted into a hole on one side of the gourd and sealed with bees wax. The lamellae lie inside the gourd and provide the sound of the completed instrument. The pipes are bound with thin strands of rattan.
While playing a sompoton, the player covers and uncovers the ends of three of the four shortest pipes with three fingers of his right hand and three small openings cut in the base of the front shortest pipe and front and back pipes of the longer raft with fingers of the left hand. The sompoton can be played as a solo instrument for personal entertainment or in groups to accompany dancing.

Sompoton - Audio (wav- 282kb)

An array of colorful baskets from the Philippines.

The young boy setting up his merchandise in one of the many stores.

Elaborately decorated chandeliers made entirely of sea shells!

2) Salted and dried seafood...

Pasar Ikan Masin - 'Salted Fish Market' ?

These foot-long delicacies are very popular among the local Chinese as well as those from Taiwan and China.

Very popular with the Indonesians are these paper-thin fish slices, cured and dried. They are usually deep fry and serve as a side dish with rice.

Dried abalone

Dried squid

Found these interesting pair of 'sea horses' in one stall. They are only about 6 cm in length but look at the price. Anyone has any idea what they are used for? Medicinal?

3) Fresh fruits and food...

Mangoes from the Philippines

Edible seaweed

Blocks of ready-grated tapioca, a stable for many of the immigrants

A breakfast stall

Freshly made 'belacan' - shrimp paste

In the evening, this place becomes a night market cum food bazaar buzzing with activities. BBQ stalls sprout up almost everywhere by 5 pm, all with wide selection of fresh seafood on display. Satay stalls, stalls selling pre-cooked dishes, fruit juice stalls and stalls offering all kinds of delicacies are available for anyone whose stomach is strong enough to withstand the onslaught. Warning: Only for die hard foodies with very high tolerance for E. coli...

Note: Beware of pickpockets and bag-snatchers when roaming around this area.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Heather was provided with a room in the Le Meridian, Kota Kinabalu. This hotel is relatively new compared to the other hotels in the vicinity like the Promenade and Hyatt. Very pleasant and the best feature has to be its location. It is ideally situated in the midst of shopping malls (the Warisan Square and Centre Point to the left, KK Plaza Segama and Wisma Merdeka to the right), day and night markets, Filipino market and the Esplanade all within walking distance.

The deluxe room is very spacious with a five-star king size bed which Leanne found hard to part with...
With plasma tv, coffee and tea making facilities but the best got to be this...

The spectacular view from the window at the 8th floor!! This is to the left of the hotel..

And to the right of the hotel is the Kota Kinabalu largest fish market.

The address and contact.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Oh, this KING of fruits..

Driving past Sembulan market yesterday (another one of those mini markets I roam), K pointed at some fruits at the corner stalls and I glanced over. What I saw almost made me jump out of the car and he had to make an emergency stop (the car behind almost kissed us and I got that look that could kill). Dashing out, I almost dropped my camera (Leanne had to take over the photo shooting) and these were the cause of all that trouble...

Jungle durians!!

I grew up in Tamparuli, a small town about 40 km from KK. We grew up with these and when fruit season came by we skipped meals and had them for lunch and dinner.

The durian season has been here for a month or so but every time I passed by stalls that offer all those huge looking fruits, I shuddered. Why, you might ask, since I am so crazy about durians . Well, those big fruits just don't taste like durians to me. And after so many episodes with fruits that had an inch-thick, pulpy, bland and odourless flesh (I actually felt so nauseous after just one seed), I was put off durian for a long while.

And finding these spiky jewels fired up my obsession with the fruit again. Oh, the fragrance and the sweet velvety texture of the delicious flesh....

This little fruit is about the size of a 'sepak takraw'- small rattan ball but look what was in store for us inside...

I wouldn't even attempt to describe the sensation of eating this but every mouthful was followed by...sighs of pure joy...

Look at these heart-shaped darlings...we love you too!!!

Another local species that we love...

Its flesh is thinner, softer and much sweeter.

We bought six fruits. It was so good that I actually sneaked back to the store after having savored the first fruit upon reaching home. The store owner gave me a big knowing grin and asked, "Sudah habis? (Already finished?)". Feeling like a child with her hand caught in the cookie jar, I lied, "Belum, kawan minta beli (Not yet, friend asked to buy)". Don't think she believed me at all. The pile of fruits that was there two hours ago had almost vanished. What was left were smaller fruits, but I still came away with 5 gorgeous looking midget kings.

The best way to eat this king of fruits is squatting on the floor with many durian-crazy friends and family. My sister Mui was supposedly on a diet and would just taste one or two seeds but the tasting turned out to be one or two seeds from every durian that was opened! So satisfied (or guilty) that she vowed this would her only durian session for the season...we'll see!


Friday, July 27, 2007

Oxtail Stew

Oxtail stew

Today, Heather is home, a work-related trip and will be here until Monday. She insists she'll have lots of time for home-cooked food. She hinted about wanting to sample the dishes on our blog which she hasn't tasted. Her special request (and this is not even christmas!) - the oxtail stew, another family-fav recipe from my sister Mee Fung. The picture does not do the dish justice, it definitely tastes better than it looks.

Oxtail stew
Serve 4

1 oxtail (~1.5 - 2 kg), cut into 4 cm, trim the fat
1 tablespoon hot bean paste
1 tablespoon bean paste
2 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2-3 big onions, sliced thickly
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon oil

1. Parboil the meat. Drain.

2. Marinate the meat with all the sauces.

3. Put oil in a heated heavy base pot, saute the onions until transparent and fragrant. Add the oxtail, brown and add in marinade with 1/2 cup water.

4. At this point, if you have a pressure cooker (so much easier) transfer the stew, cover and cook under pressure for 20-30 minutes.

5. Otherwise, when stew starts to boil, lower heat and simmer for 3-4 hours. Check occasionally to stir and add water if too dry.
6. Turn off the fire and let the pressure reduce.

7. The meat should be soft but not dropping off the bones (yet!).

8. Add the carrots to the stew, cover and simmer until the carrots are soft.

9. If the stew is watery at this point, increase the heat until gravy reaches a thicker consistency. Keep stirring to prevent the bottom getting burnt. Serve it with hot rice.

NB: Use aussie or NZ oxtail and not local oxtail unless you are using lot of herbs and spices or you happen to like that strong bovine taste.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

The best Kuching laksa in Kota Kinabalu

K was away for a long trip and on returning today, the first place he stopped by before heading home was this coffee shop along the highway from the airport. Why? For the best Kuching laksa in Kota Kinabalu of course...

The Kuching laksa

Which is the best Kuching laksa in KK? As far as K is concerned, this is it! Having sampled most of the locals' favourite laksa in Kuching and Sibu, K reckons this laksa is on par with the best of them. Trust us, he knows his laksa like he knows his tom yums. We are just waiting for him to get around to cook this dish!

The laksa comes with a heavenly sambal belacan and kelamansi.

The stall is located in the Kedia Kopi Double Luck in Taman Cantik along the Lintas highway. The stall owner and cook, Mr Yau is a Sarawakian from Miri and in the evenings his son takes over and runs the stall which also serves Teo chiew's porridge.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lemongrass chicken

Lemongrass chicken with rice

Not sure about the origin of this dish, likely to be Nyonya. It looked fiery hot but that is only looks and it is deceiving. I used the biggest dried chillies I can find and removed all the seeds (for the sake of some with delicate tongues). It has all the chilli essence without the heat (personally, I like it hot but well, some like it cold and some like it in the pot nine days old??....can't please everyone, I guess).

Lemongrass chicken
Serve 4-6

1 chicken, cleaned and cut into small portions
5-6 stalks lemongrass, sliced finely, use only the inner white part
10-15 small onions, peeled, sliced
5-8 dried chillies, soaked, seeded
1 thumb size rock sugar
1 thumb size tamarind, soaked in 2-3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
3 tablespoon oil
salt to taste
1) Blend the lemongrass, onions and dried chillies in a food processor into a paste (if time permits, pounded in a mortar gives a better paste - less grainy and creamier).

2) Use about 1-2 tablespoon to marinate the chicken pieces for about 30 minutes to an hour.

3) Heat the wok, add the oil and fry the paste on slow fire until jam-like with the chilli oil surfacing and the amazing fragrance of the lemongrass permeating the whole kitchen. By now, the onions will be caramelized and the paste is ready. This process either make or break your dish, it takes about 15-20 minutes and there is no way to hasten it without spoiling the dish. If not done properly at this stage you either get a dish that taste burnt or bland.

4) Turn up the heat and add the chicken to the paste and mix well. Turn chicken to ensure they brown evenly. When that is achieved lower the heat, cover and let it simmer in its own juice for about 15 minutes. Check and turn the chicken occasionally. If too dry add 1-2 tablespoon water.

5) Add in the strained tamarind juice and rock sugar. Cook until the chicken is soft and if gravy is too thin, turn up the heat and let the gravy thickens. The gravy should be thick enough to cling on the meat. Turn off the heat.
6) Serve with hot rice. It taste better still overnight.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Crispy eggs

Had no intention of posting anything today but found the fingers twitching, a sign of addiction??....

Just Leanne and myself for lunch today, too hot to go out and so so lazy to cook. A while ago, was browsing in Anne's food and stumbled upon Brownie Points. I found this recipe so simple and a marvelous way to use up all the stale bread I kept in the freezer. I made a whole bottle of this tasty crumbs and kept it handy in the fridge. So very handy today...here we share with you our lunch...

Crispy Eggs with Instant Toast

4-5 slices of stale bread (wholemeal or white will do)
50 gm of Parmesan, coarsely grated (do not use pre-grated from supermarkets - too fine)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
a couple of pinches of fresh thyme leaves (basil or any herbs you fancy), dried is fine too
one pinch of salt

Put everything into the food processor and pulse it a few times. I like to leave the crumbs in various sizes.

For one serving of two eggs:
4 Tbs of the crumb mixture
1 Tbs of olive oil

-Add the crumbs and oil to a flat pan on gently heat.
-When the crumbs show first signs of toasting, crack two eggs on top of the crumb mixture.
-Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
-Put a lid on top of the pan and cook the eggs to your favourite level of doneness.
-When the eggs are cooked just right, slip them off onto a plate. Pile the stray crumbs right on top of the eggs.
-Quickly put around 1 tsp of good vinegar into your heated pan. Heat the vinegar just briefly and pour over your eggs and serve immediately.

-Alternatively, do like what Leanne did - just splash a dash of balsamic vinegar over it .

When the crumbs were toasting, the aroma from the cheese and herbs brought LeAnne running into the kitchen. She loved this and asked whether she could have it for dinner too! Good for the lazy cook, she is so easy to feed!
Serve it with a glass of milk and a slice of papaya.....and you have a complete meal.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Korean pancake

Buchimgae with seafood

This is adapted from the Korean recipe but has evolved over the years and it has been fine-tuned to accommodate our palates and conveniences. I don't use the traditional mung beans - too troublesome for a lazy cook like me... This dish is a fantastic way to get the young ones to eat their veg without any coaxing. I made this dish very often in the earlier days when the kids weren't too fond of their vegetables. They didn't mind the camouflaged veggie and wolfed it down like it was a pizza (they still do). It is also a good way to clean out the fridge of left-over greens. Most veggies can be incorporated into the batter (shred them first!)- bell pepper, leek, mushroom, french beans, cabbage, onions, celery....I packed in about 4-6 cups of shredded vegetable and 6 eggs, for about six pancakes. Our version of this pancake is more of an omelette than a pancake because of the amount of eggs I used. A very wholesome snack on its own. We usually have it for lunch as the main (and most often, the only) dish!

Spiced up with chilli sauce

Korean Pancake

Serve 4-6

1 1/2 cups flour, sieved
1/2 cup rice flour, sieved
6 eggs (can be reduced if cholesterol-conscious)
~ 1 cup cold water
salt and pepper
2 - 3 cups shredded carrot
2 - 3 cups spring onion, cut into 2" length
1 cup prawns, peeled, gutted and cut into bite size
1 cup squids, cleaned and cut into ring

1) Mix flour, eggs and water into a smooth batter. Season well.

2) When ready to fry, add in all the rest of the ingredients (I like to keep the seafood aside mixed with some batter and scoop 2-3 spoonfuls in only when the pancake is about to be flipped over). Mix well.

3) Scoop one ladle of the batter (make sure it has a little of everything) onto a heated and oiled flat heavy based pan.

4) Spread out the batter evenly - the pancake about 6-8" in diameter and not too thin. Cook on medium heat.

5) When it turns golden brown, flip over and cook the other side.

6) Slide pancake onto a board and cut into wedges. Makes about 6 pancakes.

7) Serve hot with dipping sauce. They like it just as much with the Maggi sauces (tomatoes and chilli)

Dipping sauce:
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tablespoon chopped spring onion
1 teaspoon sesame, toasted
1 chilli, chopped finely -optional
2 tablespoon soy sauce + 2 tablespoon drinking water
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1-2 teaspoon sugar
a dash of sesame oil if you like

Mix all ingredients together.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Deluxe Fried Rice

Fried rice with a twist

I thought 'Wow, paella!' when K first cooked this up. No, it's not but I can tell you it was very delicious and so so simple to make. He saw this done on one of those many culinary programmes he watched on tv. The simple fried rice with the sweet juices from the steamed prawns ...emmm... heavenly!

Deluxe fried rice
Serve 4-6

4-6 cups cooked rice (overnight-better)
300 gm fresh prawns, trimmed
3 eggs, beaten
1 bulb garlic, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
3 tablespoon oil
few stalks spring onions, chopped
salt and pepper

1) Heat oil in the wok (best utensil for frying) and fry the chopped garlic on medium heat until fragrant but not brown. Take out the garlic, put aside but leave the oil in the wok.
2) Turn the heat up and pour in the eggs. Before the eggs set add the rice and mix well

3) Fry for another 5 minutes until the rice make popping sounds. Add the celery. Season with salt and pepper. Fry for another minute or so.

4) Turn off heat, mix in half of the fried garlic and the whiter part of the chopped spring onion.

5) Dish rice onto a heatproof casserole.

6) Spread prawns on top of the hot rice and sprinkle on all the remaining garlic.

7) Put into a preheated bamboo steamer on high heat and steam for 3-5 minutes.

8) Remove from heat and garnish with spring onion. Serve hot.

Served on lettuce makes one less dish to prepare

The yellow color of the fried rice comes from the rich yolk of kampung chicken eggs and not from tumeric or saffron!

K and Jo

Friday, July 20, 2007

LeAnne's Tuna sandwich

Yum yum.. the sandwich taste FAB!!!!

Cut celery into small bits.....

Mix 1 can of tuna with mayo, french mustard, lime juice, salt and pepper..and also the chopped celery.

Spread butter on the bread

Spread the tuna on the buttered bread

Mum helped to trim off the crust..

and cut into half.

Easy peasy. Enjoy.

From LeAnne.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Emperor's Delight

Another new eatery in KK. This is Shanghai street's food served in air-conditioned comfort. The Emperor's Delight opened about 2 months ago. It is located in the heart of KK's commercial centre, a block from Little Italy, right across the Esso petrol kiosk. We were there for lunch and getting a parking space in this vicinity was horrendous. Better to go in the evening unless you happen to work nearby.

Bright and cosy
Very clean and efficient-looking kitchen

La main with szechuan preserved veg Rm8

La main with braised pork knuckle Rm 8

Fried La main with seafood Rm 8

La main with spicy minced meat which is anything but spicy Rm8

Meatballs called 'Lion's head' - tasty but too soft Rm ?

The well-known Shanghai's 'Xiao lung pau'' Rm 5

Small but packed with good soup and tasty filling. The kids' favourite

A sweet pancake that is very similar to the roti canai Rm 5

Scallion pancake Rm 5

Yummy yam rolls Rm5

The general consensus of the gang was that the noodles were nothing to shout about but the dim sum and titbits were good enough to warrant another visit.

Business hour:

9 am - 3 pm

6pm - 10 pm

Close on Mondays