Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Homemade Starfruit Juice

TW & I discovered a cheaper alternative to get our sundries. Forget the cool comfort of strolling through the aisles of air conditioned hypermarkets, pasar malam (night market) is the way to go. Sure, it's like a huge can of sardines there but if you think of it, the price that you pay and the quality of the produce that you get is well worth it. Cheap and fresh, need we say more?

So we've been frequenting the pasar malam near our place, and it's been great so far. We made a mental note on our favourite stalls and started to take note of those cut throat ones too.

We stumbled upon a starfruit stall
on our first visit. One big basket of fresh glistening starfruit for only 3 bucks! By now you must believe cheap, if not fresh. :)

There were about 20 of them, some were already ripe while the rest still have that lovely greenish tinge. After the excitement of '3 bucks for 20' died down, the question of 'what the heck are we going to do with it' came to mind. Why, starfruit juice of course!

Here are behind the scene pictures, the making of a 'star'fruit....(ok, it doesn't sound right but I'm trying my best to create a pun here).

clean the fruit, remove the hard ridges at the sides and seeds as well, cut into strips (it's best to wait till the fruit is really ripe before juicing)

dump all of them in the blender, i used about 10 fruits here (you can blend half of the quantity 1st and add in the rest later on)

blend away (add about a tablespoon of sugar + 3/4 cup of water + a pinch of salt)
Use a muslin lined sieve to drain out the juice, squeeze the pulp to drain out every last drop!

voila!! fresh starfruit juice
Pop the juice into the refrigerator for an hour or so before drinking. Enjoy!

Note: it was recently published that starfruit juice can be toxic for kidney patients. Check out the article here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A List of Excuses

Here's a list of stuff that I plan to make and along with it a list of excuses on why I haven't gotten round to making them;
  1. red bean mochi (the packet of red bean paste Ryan got me earlier is still chilling in the fridge, but the expiry date is not till Sept next year.....)
  2. claypot chicken rice (images of a cracked claypot and burnt rice are among the reasons why I've been postponing)
  3. chwee kueh (don't have the moulds nor the proper steaming equipments right now)
  4. sushi (got myself a starter kit a month ago, consists of 2 pairs of chopsticks, a small rolling mat and recipe book. All I need now is the ingredients, and lots of motivation!)
  5. fondant (always wanted to find out what I could do with it, and to see if my plasticine toying days will be of use here but the weather's been so hot lately, what if my spectacular creations melt before I could show it off to everyone?)
  6. kaya (the thought of standing over the stove, staring at a pot of 'almost there' kaya, stirring and stirring and stirring and stirring...so close yet so far)
  7. chicken rice (came across numerous recipes over the internet, with methods varying from the really simple to the really meticulous. I am all for simple recipes but if it takes just a little more effort to produce a yummy dish, why not. Alas, still have not found THAT recipe)
I foresee it's gonna take a while before I can clear off this list, but hey, it's always nice to have something to look forward to eh? (there you go, another excuse that wraps up this entry nicely!)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mee Hoon Kueh

There's this restaurant in SS19 that sell's char kuey teow (stir fried rice noodles) and pan mee (Hokkien style handmade egg noodles), also known as mee hoon kueh (same dough but pulled to small pieces instead of noodle form) for some. I'm not sure about the char kuey teow stall but the pan mee fellow operates between breakfast and lunch. And the amount of people who frequents the pan mee stall, it must be depressing for the char kuey teow lady.

TW's been raving about how good it was, so one fine Saturday morning we decided to sacrifice some sleep and made our way there. The stall's modus operandi somehow baffles me. You get there, take a number (scribbled in red ink on a carton box cut out) and get a seat (if you're lucky enough to find one, it's usually very packed). And then you wait. (I'm told that a half hour wait is pretty normal and is considered reasonable) Then the waiter will somehow figure out that it's your turn and track you down. Can they even remember which face belongs to what number? I reckon they must have been taking a whole lot of ginkgo biloba.

But I must say that it's worth the wait. I had mine
kon low (dry) style while TW had the wet version. I wasn't disappointed as the dough is really really soft and the minced pork topping was tender and well seasoned.

Anyway I figured, hey why wait when you can make your own pan mee? It's not that difficult. And so that was what I had for dinner yesterday. TW convinced me that we simply have to have the same type of chilly sauce that we get from the stall. So she set her heart out on making it while I concentrated on the dough and toppings.

The ingredients you'll need is as follows (for 2 pax);

Step 1 (Dough)
1 1/4 cups of flour
1 small egg
1 tsp chicken stock granules

Beat the egg lightly and mix with flour. Add water & chicken stock granules then knead till the mixture forms into a soft dough. The amount of water to add is based on your discretion. Start with a small quantity and keep on adding till the mixture comes together nicely. Cover with a wet cloth until you're ready to cook it.

Step 2 (Dry topping)
100g dried anchovies, rinsed

Fry anchovies in sufficient oil till crispy. Drain and set aside.

Step 3 (Wet Topping)
100g lean pork, minced (add some cornflour to soften the meat)
4 chinese black mushrooms, pre-soaked and sliced thinly (discard stems)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp oil
a dash of sesame oil

Heat oil in a wok, add in garlic and fry till fragrant. When the garlic is about to turn golden brown, add in mushrooms. Fry for a little while and then add in minced pork. Add oyster sauce, pepper and sesame oil, cook till meat is done.

it's ok if it's slightly salty because you're going to mix it in the soup later

Step 4 (Soup)
1 litre of water
1 anchovy stock cube
100g chinese mustard leaves (
chye sim) (the best vegetable that goes with pan mee is cekur manis but if you can't find them, any leafy vegetable will do just fine)

Boil water in a large pot and throw in the anchovy stock cube. When water has come to a rapid boil, tear dough into bite sized pieces and toss into the pot (keep soup boiling). Stir occasionally and add in vegetables when you're done with the dough. Cook till the vegetables are done.

don't be fooled by it's bland look, the clear soup complements the toppings nicely

Dish up into bowls and PILE on the toppings. Sprinkle some fried shallots if you like.

Now here comes another important part, TW's work of art - freshly grounded bird eye's chilly sauce.

You will need:

A handful of mixed green and red bird eye's chilly, remove stems

2 cloves of garlic
limau kasturi or key limes, juiced, discard seeds and reserve skin
1/4 cup
assam water of tamarind juice
a dash of sugar & a pinch of salt
a sprig of coriander

on the left: devil chilly, on the right: crispy anchovies

Blend all of the ingredients. That's it. Hahaha.....be warned though, it's really really hot. Flaming sweat on your upper lips hot. You can use red chillies for a milder version, but where's the kick in that?

this is how you do it, as demonstrated by TW

Monday, August 11, 2008

Popiah Party

I am lucky to have friends who cook. Almost all of the guys in my office could cook well. And I'm talking about roasts, stews, curries, pies and cheesecakes here. While most of them are still single & available, alas I'm not! Hahah...any takers?

Now I have a good friend from Melaka who cooks Nyonya dishes really well (I think he's still available!). He invited a few friends over for dinner last week and the menu for the night was....
popiah (spring rolls). It's not the deep fried variety that you usually have as appetisers, but somewhat like a cold version of the Chinese spring rolls.

The skin of the popiah is akin to crepe, the batter is made of eggs, flour & water. The roll is filled with an assortment of ingredients, usually; finely shredded cucumber, blanched bean sprouts, lettuce leaf, shredded omelette and the star of the line up - shredded jicama (chinese turn
ip) & diced bean curd cooked with preserved soy bean paste (tauchiu). Not forgetting the 3 types of paste for the base - freshly pounded chilli, garlic and sweet thick brown sauce (teechiu).

My friend wanted to retain the originality of the dish. So instead of just buying the skin from the store, he painstakingly made them. Not an easy feat, especially when you want to get smooth egg skins. The pan has to be of the right temperature or the skin will turn out perforated. But hey, if anybody could do it, it's gotta be him. Here are some pics I managed to take that night, (before I totally abandoned my camera and pigged out on the food) ;)

clockwise from top: banana(hahah....not part of the ingredient tho), in the tray we have, (coriander leaves, omelette, chilly, bean sprouts, cucumber & a jar of teechiu), chinese turnip, popiah skin & lettuce leaves

Here's how to assemble;

step 1: after applying the 3 types of paste on the skin, layer all ingredients in the middle,

like this

step 2: fold the skin outwards to cover the filling, then fold both sides inwards and finish by folding inwards the end bit

a well assembled popiah should have a slight bump to it, like this one ;)

the innards

And here's what happened when you take a bite of an over-filled popiah;


and effect, hahaha oops!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wishful Wishlist

Check out this baby! I'm drooling......

Sleek, gorgeous and functional!
This cool gadget is the brain child of Noah Balmer.

sexy back

more reasons for some action in the kitchen

I wouldn't dream of taking my laptop to the kitchen, what with my tendency to spill stuff. I might just start a fire...that will eventually burn down all 6 blocks of apartments surrounding my unit. And I love my cookbooks too much to risk having stains on them. (psst...my cookbooks are my bedtime reading materials). Neither do I fancy the idea of printing out recipes, it's just a waste of resources. And although running in and out of the kitchen to view the recipe on my laptop seems like a good form of exercise, there must be a better way.

The answer to all my woes -
Noah Balmer. This is one cool dude who creates functional gadgets. Hats off to you Mr. Balmer!

In a nutshell, the Kitchen Sync is a small, good looking, flexible, good looking, washable screen with a dock. Did I mention good looking?! You can download recipes directly and follow links to buy ingredients, and see tips online. With
its wireless internet connection, you can also chat with other users cooking the same dishes for a richer cooking experience. (Not to mention how cool you'll look lugging it around at the supermarket.)

Alas, the bad news - the Kitchen Sync is still a concept. And I think it will take a while before it reaches our shores. But hey, keeping my fingers crossed. Go Mr. Balmer!!