Saturday, March 31, 2007

"Instant" Noodles!

Nah, I haven't ate those Indo Mee, Nissin/Maggi/Korean brand instant noodles for years. Not that good for you, and encourages baldness. I think I've pulled enough of my hair out doing my dissertation :P

So what I meant by instant is the speed I manage to whip these up, at most 5-10 minutes longer than your average 3 min (unhealthy) instant noodles?

This is a Japanese inspired dish, which I'm sure I've made before. It's called Oyako Don, Oyako means Parent and Child, representing chicken and egg, whilst Don is a short for Donburi, the rice dish basically. And yes, it's originally RICE, but since I was too lazy to wait/cook rice, I made a variant of this dish using noodles I brought from home, fresh handmade mee suah.

This dish is quite easy, all you need for 1 portion is: 1 onion, 1 egg, diced chicken pieces (I used chicken breast here, but thighs are probably more flavorful), 1 Tbsp light soy sauce, 1 Tbsp mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine, can be substituted by white wine+a dash of sugar, or any sweet cooking wine), minced garlic (I love garlic! Though this is optional)

So whilst cooking my noodles in another saucepan, have another on as well, with little bit of heated oil, stir fry the minced garlic and onions till brown. Then add the chicken pieces and stir fry for a bit. Add some water till it covers the meat (probably 1/2-1 cup of water?) and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, check if the noodles are cooked, and rinse in cold water and set aside. Then back to the chicken, add the soy sauce and mirin, switch off the stove, and then crack your egg in the mixture. Do NOT stir your egg instantly. Leave it for 30-40 seconds (or even 1 minute, depending on preference) before swirling the egg around, simply because I like to see my egg visibly when I eat and not in tiny minuscule pieces in the soup. Finally, mix the noodles in and serve. :) Think rice is still much nicer, with the deep bowl and stick gravy mixture on top of it, hehe

Meanwhile, this is what I had for dinner today. A random concoction I must say. Just had some chinese mushroom, leftover lettuce, chinese sausage and noodles. A tad too salty as I forgot to adjust for the fact that the sausages were salty! But good all the same :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The best of Portugal

Porto Part I

I chose to go Porto for 3 reasons:
a) Because I have not been to Portugal
b) Because I like Luis Figo

c) Because of THIS ...
THIS ...


Woohoo! The land of Portuguese egg tart :P, and may I stress, authentic ones. Always had a soft spot for it since it was sold in the bakeries back home, until a friend brought some fresh back for me from Lisbon, and man (!) what have I been eating all these while is not really the real thing! The crusts are much thinner, yet still crispy even after its cooled down. Most importantly, you have to put cinnamon on top of it before the munch, gives it a better pungent kick I feel. I was really surprised when I bit into my first one (ironically at Delifrance Porto) which was at room temperature, expecting a soggy tart, to find that the crunch was still there :) And again, I'm a sucker for anything fresh out of the oven, so this is really good anyway.

On another note, Porto is the perfect place for slackers, because there's not much to do, have good (and cheap) port, restaurants and bakeries all around, and a few rows of shopping high streets. I refused to enter any church/museum on this trip, simply because I was so enriched culturally in my last trip to Rome, that I need some new experience. And yeap, Porto is the right place to be to escape the hectic Cambridge bubble. It's sunny, chilled out and most importantly near the river/sea :)

This is the main square in Porto in the evening, where my hostel was conveniently located.

So we went to this restaurant recommended in the guidebook called Abadia. It certainly made its mark on me forever :P (P.S. abadi means eternity in malay). Good food, awesome prices and serious portion distortion. A little more on the latter later. So, as usual, I had to try the local specialties in this region, and have known what to call for without looking at the menu. This is the famous Tripas à moda do Porto (tripe with sausage and beans). It's a perfect stew for the cold days really.

I ordered porco à alentejana (Pork Alentejo style), which was my favorite dish of the whole trip. It's a huge pork shoulder steak grilled to perfection with salt and pepper, I think. The best thing was the pile of green thing you see in the picture below, it is actually spinach cream, goes very well with meat dishes I must say! Had a lot of that to make me feel like Popeye ...

We had a huge shock with the portion distortion whilst there, since as you can see below, that huge slab of pork is apparently HALF a portion by its own! Even the tripe stew above, it is half a portion for that solid big saucepan of meat, sausage and beans all in one... o_OII

... and I thought the Americans eat loads. But I don't see a trend of big Portuguese people though.

Until I looked downstairs, checking out how much people are eating there generally. See the 2 aunties in the picture below? If you look carefully at the pile of meat they're consuming, maybe by clicking on the picture? LOL Portuguese aunties are quite hearty eaters :P But then again, they do have less sedentary lifestyle given the hilly town and all the walking they do... just not used to the idea probably as my grandma barely eats much meat at her age.

Dissing dissertation


I've finally finished my first draft of my dissertation! What a painful week it has been rushing against time for it... At least now I have some life back and of course much more sleep :D

Finally my delayed posts on Porto would be up next ...

**Updated 5 hours later**

Gargh, just had some feedback on the first draft, have to do quite a bit of amendments...

Finally the weather is starting to behave the way it should be this time of the year, makes walking to library slightly more pleasant :P Don't get me wrong, I actually much prefer the less hectic holiday revision time that the 7 essay a week days ...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Char Siu (BBQ Pork) Recipe, unveiled

Received quite some requests to do this, so here is the long awaited recipe! Thanks for the reminders as I've been swamped with kazillion things to do that I tend to forget important things :)

This recipe is courtesy of Renee, from, which is unfortunately, no longer available online. Nevertheless, her recipe has become some sort of legend passed around the food blogger community.

Char Siu (BBQ-ed Pork)

1 kg pork (fillet, shoulder steaks, but I hugely prefer the latter)
5 Tbsp light soy sauce
3 Tbsp dark soy sauce
5 Tbsp maltose (this is the KEY ingredient to the beautiful charred bits, but honey is fine as too)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sherry (or rice wine)
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
4 pcs of thickly sliced ginger (smashed, roughly 1/4 inche thick)
4 garlic cloves (smashed)

For glazing, you also need about 2-3 Tbsp of maltose (or honey), at room temperature (warm).
  1. Mix all ingredients (except the pork) in a saucepan. Heat for about 1 minute just enough to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  2. Marinade the pork in this mixture at least overnight in the fridge.
  3. Preheat oven to 210C/410F
  4. Remove pork from the marinade and place flat on a metal rack, with about 1 inch of hot water in the pan. This is to prevent the meat from being too dry from roasting, and also collects good gravy which can be added to your marinade and boiled for the sauce.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 180C/350F, baste the meat with its marinade and turn it over, baking for another 20 minutes.
  6. Then, check if meat is cook by inserting a knife/fork (if you don't have those fancy thermometers etc), and if the juice is clear it's done.
  7. Remove from the oven, glaze the meat with the warm honey/maltose and grill further in high heat for about 3-5 minutes to the degree of charredness ("chao tarh" bits basically) of your preference
  8. Collect the gravy at the bottom of the tray, and boil it with the marinade left from the pork for some gravy.
  9. Serve it with rice or noodles!
For pictures, refer to the char siew post. Let me know how did yours go!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Craving for Burgers

Burger craving striked last week and this is what I've got. Attempted a Burger King "Mushroom swiss" styled one with melted cheese and mushroom on top of it. Simply chopped the onions fine and mix it with the minced meat (pork used here), seasoned with salt and pepper, dusted with a bit of flour and pan fried.

Had to make mini burgers instead as I overstuffed them with onions and they wouldn't hold together, heheA long (seriously) post next only after I finish my dissertation, hopefully by mid of next week!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

End of Term

End of term!!!

It's finally here :) But also means madness n rush for dissertation begins. Until I sort out my room and life. LOL

Be right back, have a backload of posts coming up!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

All things Italian

Phew we're nearly there, and taking it easy (slightly)

The weather is getting much more cheerful with the suns up, though the strong wind follows too. Nevertheless, pleasant all the same as long as the sun is up :) If only we can ignore now till summer starts :P

Haven't been cooking anything exciting lately, as the mad rush comes towards the end of term, but this is something I had roughly 2 weeks ago, inspired by the farfalle we got from Rome, which (probably is hard to see), comes in the colors of the Italian flag. A funny idea came up to coat them with the exact colored sauce as shown below: pesto, seafood cream sauce and a simple tomato paste/ragu. One might wonder what happens when you mix the 3 different sauces together, which is commonly a separate pasta sauce on its own. Rest assured the combined version is really yummy as well, just remember not to overpower the pesto as it might be too pungent!

This reminds me of all thing Italian, and spotting a Vespa (it's pale green!) outside a restaurant in Cambridge got me all excited again, I don't mind a Vespa even if I don't (cannot afford/not feasible) get my Fiat 500 in the future! It'll be so cool to have one sometime, probably not in Malaysia though as it's too unpleasantly hot and humid. Anyways, it looked something like this:

This is also the latest GranTurismo (GT) model.

Eco friendly, vintage style and sporty.

The perfect urban scooter.

I like ;)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Colorful Yee Sang

Happy Chap Goh Mei everyone!

May the year of the pig bring lots of luck by oink-ing all the bad omens away! :D

(& please de-clog my brain for the remaining 2 weeks ... )

Friday, March 02, 2007

Junk Foods

MmmMMmm, despite the name conjuring up a sense of guilt :P, what's your favorite?
Com'on, sharing is caring ;)

Well, 'telinga biscuit' is mine. Always fall for it no matter how hard I resist.

It's not found on Wikipedia, so please be patient while I try illustrate/explain what I mean.
Telinga is the word for ear in the Malay language, and it's called so simply because the biscuit is ear-shaped. I don't really know what and how it is made, and perhaps won't want to find out anyways just in case it destroys my love for it :P All I can say that it's savory, and if you look closely enough, you can see little black pigments which I believe is some sort of spice (5 spice powder? Not sure). It tastes slightly sweet and salty at the same time, and is extremely crunchy, its main selling point. It's way beyond boring popcorns mann

Sneakily, there is a stash of this precious commodity brought to the UK, and thankfully, out of my sight (& mind), or else it'd have disappeared in seconds ...

Here is a picture of it:

Goggling it online landed me on this awesome biscuit manufacturer's site, which produces all the types of cookies and biscuits so typically found back home in Malaysia, missing the CNY atmosphere there. Though I don't really agree with the concept of mass production of food (especially if it's within your own ability to make it or at least attempt to, given the time), this site gives an idea of the mass array of biscuits in Msia, though there are many non standard Westernized variations there as well. Surprisingly, the telinga biscuit here is different from the one I mentioned, it's called 'biskut kerang' (shell biscuit) instead.

It's Chap Goh Mei soon this weekend, and of course nearer towards holiday and end of term! PHew, can't wait to sit down and heal the essay-o-phobia and start working frantically against time for my dissertation!