Monday 31 August 2015

Baked Pandan Cake/Kuih Pandan Bakar 烤香兰糕

I have a soft spot for this rich yummilicious traditional Malay cake or kuih as it is more fondly known here. On occasions when I have a craving for this kuih and I would drive all the way out to buy one tiny meagre piece just to satisfy this craving. Yes, just one piece, no more no less. For those of you who are still in the dark, I am talking about Kuih Pandan Bakar, a pandan flavoured cake which has a custard-like texture that is encrusted in a brown golden crust of fragrant sesame seeds.

If you are as hooked to this kuih as I am, here are some tips to identify the good ones. We would not be able to tell the taste but we can always choose the ones with a darker colour and thicker crust with lots of sesame seed on top. It makes a whole lot of difference to the smell of the kuih. I personally prefer my kuih to be brightly coloured (and not dark green) as this also indicates no or lesser use of artificial colouring. The recipe calls for the kuih to be baked. I am puzzled as to how the Malays got their hands on ovens in the olden days which is basically non-existence at that time (that is why most of the traditional desserts are either steamed or boiled). Well, apparently this kuih is put over a stove to be burnt, hence the word bakar, which also means burn.

Thursday 27 August 2015

Chilli Anchovies/Sambal Ikan Bilis 参巴江鱼仔

It is without a doubt nasi lemak or coconut fragrant rice is our national treasure. I believe most people would agree to this. Every household would have some tricks down their sleeves to making a mean plate of nasi lemak. Today I am not going to talk about the rice but its humble accompaniment - the sambal. In fact, it goes hand in hand with the rice and mutually complement each other. Without sambal, nasi lemak is just bland. Most people like to take this sambal as it is but I like it with fried anchovies. It totally elevates the taste by adding texture and flavour to this dish.

Monday 24 August 2015

Red Fermented Beancurd Spareribs 南乳排骨

Before I proceed with the mechanics of this dish, let's get the basics correct. Fermented beancurd 腐乳 is basically tofu preserved with salt, vinegar and rice wine. Red fermented tofu 南乳 differs in colour by using a different type of rice wine. Both fermented tofu are pungent and has a strong salty stinging taste, definitely not pleasant at first bite. It is an acquire taste, just like the popular stinky durian. Surprisingly, due to its distinct flavour, fermented tofu compliments other ingredients well to create that awesome dish.

Thursday 20 August 2015

Liu Sha Bao/Salted Egg Yolk Custard Bun 黃金流沙包

My husband absolutely love this. We used to go to Puchong to eat dim sum just for this bao.

For those who do not know what this is, let me give you a quick introduction. Its uniqueness stemmed from its oozing creamy filling in the middle of the bao not unlike that of a molten lava cake. I call it an oriental molten lava bun. This dish is relatively new in the dim sum family. It is normally served hot in order for the filling to remain runny.

Monday 17 August 2015

Prawn Sambal/Sambal Udang 参巴虾

When it comes to those big juicy prawns, I have a hard time resisting. Pair this with some good sambal tumis, I am sold! These prawns are basically cooked in chilli paste that has a vast variety of aromatics and spices inside. Nothing beats the exotic taste of this dish in all its aromatic spicy goodness. But guess what? It is never too much to have more spicy food as research has found that spicy food actually prevents cancer!(source: Natural News: Jan3, 2009) Here's that perfect excuse to a no holds barred binging.  Pair this prawn sambal with a plate of steamy hot rice or nasi lemak (coconut fragrant rice) for that ultimate perfection.

This recipe here is the extension of my sambal tumis recipe (chilli paste) that I have posted recently. You can prepare this sambal tumis in advance and keep it frozen to be used later in smaller batches. This way your work would be greatly reduced. Once you have handled your sambal, cooking the Prawn Sambal is as easy as 123.

Prawn Sambal/Sambal Udang 参巴虾

Makes portion for 4-5 persons


500 g prawns shelled (I left heads intact)
1/2 portion (approx 260g) sambal tumis (recipe here)
1 tomato, cut into small wedges
1-2 big onion cut into rings
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Cooking Instructions

1. Prepare prawns and season with salt, sugar and pepper. Cut onions and tomato.

2. Prepare sambal tumis. When sambal tumis is about ready, add in tomato and onion and stir until it starts to soften. Stir in prawns and cook until prawns are cooked (when it change colour and feel springy). Remove from fire and serve hot with rice.

1. Replace prawns with squid for a dish of Squid Sambal.
2. Replace onions with stinky beans for that unique taste of stinky beans. 

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Asian Chilli Paste/Sambal Tumis 参巴辣椒酱

When it comes to SouthEast Asia, eating chilli pastes or sambal is akin to eating to ketchup in the West. This is how popular chillies are here. There are many varieties and versions to making an Asian chilli paste; the Thais have their namprik pao, the Indonesians their sambal oelek and the Malaysian the humble sambal tumis. These Asian chilli pastes have quite similar ingredients but shine with their own distinctive tastes.

Today, I am introducing a basic sambal tumis recipe that is used in a variety Malaysian cooking. It has a fiery sweet and spicy taste with just a tinge of sourness as a balance. This sambal tumis is strongly fragrant with garlic, shallot and the most pungent of all, shrimp paste or belacan. This sambal tumis is meant to be spicy and I wouldn't (and refuse to) recommend it any other way.

Monday 10 August 2015

Pineapple and Cucumber Pickle/Jelatah Nenas Dan Timun 啊杂

Yes, this is a very easy recipe to prepare but I can assure you it packs a punch. It is sweet and and sour in taste but at the same time hot and spicy to the palate. Whenever I buy rice from a Malay stall, I will automatically look for this dish. This pineapple and cucumber pickle dish goes really well as a side to heavy and rich mains such as curry or nasi briyani. It complements these dishes and give it that perfect balance. Some also call this pineapple and cucumber pickle acar or pencuk. They are all the same.

Wednesday 5 August 2015

No Prove Homemade Bread 不用发酵的面包

I don't have a breadmaker. Neither do I have a dough kneading machine. So when I saw this recipe on Masterchef, I got excited. I have heard of 5-minutes no-knead artisan bread long ago. But this is even easier.

The looks might turn you off, nothing fantastic. The taste nothing mind-blowing. But what vowed me is the method of making this no prove homemade bread. I dare claim it is the easiest you could get to making that crusty piece of homemade chewy goodness. I am a lover of crusty breads but the traditional artisan method really puts me off. Too technical and a lot of kneading. This method has allowed me to make my homemade bread and eat it fresh, anytime that I want.

Monday 3 August 2015

Chilli Prawn 辣椒虾

Following my post on the sweet and sour sauce, I am now providing another use for this wonderful sauce - the ever famous sauce for chilli crab. Chilli crab is famous in Malaysia and Singapore and it has since gained popularity beyond just these two shores. It has become so significant a dish that Singapore named it its National dish. The sweet and spicy sauce, which I am highlighting today, combines sweet, sour and spicy flavour to give you that perfect umami taste. The sauce itself is so good that most of the time this dish is served with mantou or buns to soak up that sauce for a perfect juicy burst of flavour in your mouth. Awesome!

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