Friday, June 10, 2016

Making Tau Suan

I like the beans to be powdery. The broth shouldn't be too sweet. It cannot be too starchy and needs to have the subtle aroma from panda leaves; the beans and broth should somewhat mix or blend together and shouldn't appear to be separated. And it should be served piping hot with crispy yet chewy, and salty youtiao. That's how I like my tau suan.

Mom wanted to make some angku kueh, so she bought some split mung beans to make the tau sar filling by herself. To make tau sar, the first thing to do was to steam the beans. Once cooked, she reserved some for her tau sar; the rest she scooped up to make tau suan

Mom's homemade angku - bright orange natural coloring from orange-hued sweet potatoes

I was surprised! Mom had never made tau suan before! But then, Mom's tau suan was superb that evening - powdery beans and aromatic broth with a congee-like consistency. I was so hooked on the tau suan that I proceeded to make some myself the next evening!

Theoretically, it is easy. Just steam the beans and then mix into a pandan-flavored broth and thicken with potato starch. Or so I thought. Though I succeeded in cooking the tau suan, the result was far from perfect, not as I had liked it to be. My tau suan paled in comparison to Mom's. 

My homecooked bowl of tau suan

First of all, the beans were steamed for too short a time, so it did not disintegrate to produce that powdery texture and rich flavour. Then, I cooked too much broth! Too much water and not enough beans - so that affected the consistency ... Sigh. Plus, I cut down on the sugar, so it did not taste as satisfying.

So, it's seemingly simple, yet so complex. I still need plenty of practice in order to cook a perfect bowl. Indeed I am humbled by the process of cooking tau suan. I have a lot to learn! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Woon Lam Cafe : Kueh Chap

Mom wanted to eat kueh chap. So I brought her to Woon Lam at Jalan Song Thian Cheok. The stall started operations only at 8.00 a.m., and since we were early, we had to wait a bit. Well, anyway, this stall is quite famous for letting their customers wait, probably because business is too brisk for them to cope with ....

Large bowl, RM6.00

What's nice about the kueh chap here? The portion of the kueh was quite small - so I could finish them all with ease. The texture of the thin slices of kueh was smooth - and it's quite pleasant to slurp it down. Next, the savoury broth was very light - not overpowering with the taste of spices at all. But the best thing about this bowl of kueh chap is the meats and offal - the meats and intestines were tender and yet they had bite, and so flavourful; the QQ pork skin curled up in spirals, how amazing those were! I wanted to eat this kueh chap again soon!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Icom Square : Nasi Lemak

Lunch the other day was at Warong Nusantara. It was so crowded that there was hardly any place to sit. We finally grabbed a table inside near the glass panel ... and it was infested with flies! The sight really put me off! Eew.

Food wasn't really that impressive either.

Nasi minyak daging kerutuk, RM7.00

Nasi lemak ayam & kerutuk daging, RM10.00

Nasi kukus ayam berempah & kerutuk daging, RM10.00

The last 2 dishes had no beef in sight .... Care to explain why? What a rip off! 

Of the 3, I had the nasi lemak. The rice, I thought, was too soggy and was not aromatic enough. The sambal was forgettable, the chicken ordinary. I thought the one at the other corner between Chopstick Garden and Premier Food Junction. This one seemed to be better in quality, where the food was concerned.

Nasi Lemak With Fried Chicken, RM6.50
The rice here is more aromatic and fluffy, the sambal tastier; the chicken was crispy and flavourful - only too small that I could not have enough :)) 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Abacus Seeds (算盘子)

Abacus Seeds or 算盘子 is a traditional Hakka dish, eaten during auspicious occasions like birthdays, weddings, and also during festivals like the Lunar New Year, Qing Ming and Winter Solstice; the small round discs symbolises completeness, wealth and prudence.

Homemade Abacus Seeds 

Abacus seeds are made using mashed yam, tapioca flour and water, and then shaped into small rounds, with an indentation at the centre, and then boiled in water. Then, these little cute discs can be cooked in 4 ways - sweet, sour, savoury and spicy.

I'm not Hakka, but it doesn't stop me from enjoying this dish. And nope, there was no special occasion, we made this today just because there were too much of yam at home, harvested by Uncle A at his garden the other day. Too much yam and we were at lost of what to do with them .... so we decided to make some Abacus Seeds.

Mom mixed 250g of yam paste with 125g of tapioca flour and about 80 ml of water ..... and once the mixture was done, we moulded them by hand into little round discs, with indentation at the centre. Then we boiled them in hot boiling water till they floated. We drained the water and then tossed them in a little bit of oil so that they did not stick.

Next, we sauteed garlic and shallots in a wok, and added in the minced meat, mushrooms and black fungus shreds, pounded dried prawns, pan-fried beancurd. Seasoning included light soy sauce and 1 tbsp of oyster sauce. Then it was ready to serve.

The abacus seeds were chewy, and tasted faintly of yam, and the accompanying ingredients were fragrant and textural ... Quite yum, only that it was quite a lot of work preparing the dish. :P

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Pineapple Fried Rice

I was complaining about how much leftover rice there was in the fridge. And S suggested that I made Pineapple Fried Rice. Why not, I though. I'd never made cooked it, though I'd eaten it before. And so I tried to reconstruct the Pineapple Fried Rice based on those flavours I remember.

In the end, it is rather simple to make. And it's really tasty too!

Pineapple Fried Rice

I don't have the exact measurement for this, but I think that one can never go wrong with fried rice. I had in there some shallots, chicken, prawns, pineapples, rice, 2 tsp of curry powder, fish sauce, raisins and garnished with cashew nuts, Chinese parsley and spring onions, and birds' eye chillies.

The family enjoyed the dish a lot!! :))

Friday, June 3, 2016

Ngabang 2016

J, A and I went visiting this Gawai to a few of our colleagues' houses at their respective villages. These villages are just outside Kuching, not to say really far away. E lives in Kampung Sibuluh, C at Kampung Batu Spit, JJ at Kampung Podam, and S at Kampung Simboh.

My friends, who are Bidayuhs, live in individual houses in the villages, and not longhouses. Their houses are modern, comfortable and large enough for them and some of their extended family members to live in. Of course, food and drinks were in abundant at every house ... we ate our fill and drank till we were bloated. But it's good that we did not get drunk. :P

Nowadays, living in the vicinity of Kuching, the Bidayuhs were large influenced by the Chinese and Malay, serving up very familiar food like meat rolls, chicken curries, store-brought roasted meats, mixed vegetables and so on.

The yummy fare at E's house 

At E's house, there was plenty to eat! Mixed vegetables, homemade meat rolls, chicken curry and braised pork belly with preserved vegetables (梅菜). I was very impressed with the pork belly - tender meat, well-balanced flavour, and very yum - and was even more surprise to find out that the pork belly was cooked by E's dad! It was his signature dish! No wonder it was yum! It braised for about 3 hours, for the meat to soften and fully absorb the flavour of the 梅菜. According to E, his dad once cooked over 100 kg of pork belly for a special function! 

Next was C's house; we spent the longest time here! C's house was up on a  slope, very airy. Such was the perk of living in a village - there's still fresh air! At C's house, we were happy to enjoy ...

BBQ Pork

I love how the Dayaks barbecue their meats! The meat's well-marinated, smoky in flavour, and yet sweet and juicy. Yummy. 

BBQ Catfish

The fish was fresh, the meat came off the bones rather easily. Very good as well. 

Pork leg, salted vegetables and peanut soup

Drinks overflowed here .....
What's Gawai without beer? Our hosts were very generous with the beer, and we were encouraged to drink as much as we liked .... lol. Of course, we exercised control lest we got drunk.

At JJ's house, there was kasam ikan .... a fermented freshwater fish. The fish is cleaned, salted and fermented with rice .... 

Kasam Ikan

The fish has a very strong flavour - absolutely potent! It was a flavour I was new too - strong and pungent, tangy too ... I can't say that I like it yet. :P 

What I liked was this .... 

Sambal terung asam

According to JJ, the terung asam was first grilled or charred to give it a smoky flavour, then it's cut and mixed with anchovies and belacan and chillies. I loved this with just plain rice. Very appetising.

We drove to the other direction to Padawan to S' village. Here, I enjoyed the bamboo shoots homecooked by her family .... 

All cut by hand 

The shoots were so tender, and lightly flavoured. They were sweet and tender and crunchy. Very enjoyable indeed! After eating, we took a walk up the slope at the back of S' house to enjoy the view ..... 

Next year when we come back here, these hills may no longer be here; the hills have been slated for development ..... :((

We said our goodbyes and then headed back to town ....

Lemang is glutinuous rice in a bamboo casing; this one was given by JJ when we visited her house. It was made by her mother. 

Compact, soft rice, flavoured with peanuts and dried shrimps 

The Dayaks are really hospitable and generous. We had a great time this Gawai. Till next year, Ooo-Haa! 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Ayam Goreng Berempah

The other day, for a pot bless dinner, I attemped Ayam Goreng Berempah. I used Nasi Lemak Lover's Recipe and marinated the chicken overnight. The next day, I deep-fried them in hot oil ...

Ayam Goreng Berempah

Well, it took a long time to fry before the chicken became crispy and browned. So I was a bit impatient at times. Next, the rempah does not really stick to the chicken, and at the end of the cooking, there were lots of crispy deep-fried spices at the bottom of the wok. What a waste! I sprinkled a little bit of them over the chicken, but most of it is thrown away. However, the chicken is pretty tasty! I'd love to eat this with nasi lemak or even with a good plate of sambal! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sweet Bean Paste Chicken Stew

Back in Miri, when I used to attend a small group meeting at Luak Bay, there was a friend who would always bring this dish for our pot bless dinners. The other day, I suddenly thought of my friend, and her signature dish ....

So I decided to cook it for myself. She never taught me how to cook it, so this would be based on how I thought it should be cooked.

Sweet Bean Paste Chicken Stew 

I had about 10 pieces of chicken, washed. Next, I pounded half a bulb of garlic, 1 chilli, 1 shallot and 1/2 inch of ginger together. Then I sautéed the pounded ingredients with about 1 tbsp of sweet bean paste. When it's aromatic, I added in my chicken. I fried it a bit before adding in the potatoes and a bit of water, and a dash of dark soy sauce. The mixture was then stewed over low fire till the sauce thickens and the chicken was fully cooked. Finally, I seasoned it with some sugar before serving. Yum! Great to eat with hot steamed rice!


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