Eat/Drink

Food is obviously one of the most blogged about topics on the internet. I’m sure everyday there are new, young bloggers starting their new blogs on food review. I’m not going to be one of those (though I am young) who focus on reviewing food in overpriced, fancy restaurants. On my blog I aim to share with you about food that deliver a high level of satisfaction without costing you an arm and a leg. This does not necessarily mean it’s always about cheap food, it’s about value-for-money food experience. This includes home cooked food, which gives you the highest bang for the buck (and sense of accomplishment).

Breakfast chronicles – Tortilla wrap

This is one of my favourite breakfast recipes, because it’s easy, tasty, and relatively healthy.

Mix, roll, and pan-fry

Homemade Tortillas are far better than store bought ones, and they’re extremely simple to make. The only thing one has to be careful about is not adding too much water to end up with a very wet dough, which will be difficult to handle. Continue reading Breakfast chronicles – Tortilla wrap

True Singapore Food – Bak Chor Mee

I have to admit that i may have been wrong when i said Fried Bee Hoon was, to me, the national dish of Singapore, because now I am of the opinion that Bak Chor Mee (minced pork noodles) may be even more commonplace. Often times, Fried Bee Hoon is only sold as a breakfast item, whereas Bak Chor Mee is sold throughout the day.

It took me a while to appreciate Bak Chor Mee, because i never had vinegar in my food since childhood. I never liked Bak Chor Mee during my first twenty years in Singapore. Once i got used to vinegar though, i came to love it! The taste is rather strong, and i would say you either love it or hate it. This uniquely Singaporean dish is not found in Malaysia. No, not even in JB. Continue reading True Singapore Food – Bak Chor Mee

Coopers beer kit tasting notes

My 9th batch of beer, the IPA, is just ready for consumption. I made a different flavour each time, and here are my thoughts on those Coopers beer kit i have tried thus far. This is a very subjective matter of course. Also, beer expert i am not, and i can only talk in lay man terms.

I realized that it is true, that, over time, anyone who is into beer will better appreciate beer that is more heavily hopped, and i am no exception. Having made my own beer for over a year, i now have higher expectations, which is a good thing, since i can derive more enjoyment out of good beer. I can no longer accept the typical bland and diluted beer you find in the supermarket.

Overall, i think the Coopers beer kits are unbeatable when it comes to ease of brewing your own, and i will continue using them until i have the time to move on to grain brewing. Here is how i would rank the Coopers beer kits: Continue reading Coopers beer kit tasting notes

Breakfast chronicles – Betty Crocker Devil’s Food Cake

This is my first time using a cake mix. Obviously, a cake mix is fail-proof – the cake rises like magic. If you have 45 minutes to prepare breakfast, then this is an option you can include in your arsenal of breakfast recipes. Continue reading Breakfast chronicles – Betty Crocker Devil’s Food Cake

Klang Bak Kut Teh and Kopi, round 2

My better half was feeling “gian” (or yearning in the Hokkien dialect) for Klang Bak Kut Teh (BKT). Specifically Teck Teh’s BKT. Well, the ever curious me decided to check out the other popular BKT places in Klang instead. Anyway, I was guessing that most of the better known BKT restaurants would be closed on this day, the 3rd day of the Chinese New Year. I was right.

For the record, I found out that Seng Huat and Teck Teh were closed. The other BKT place I was planning to visit, Lai Choon, was also not open. I suspect this would be the standard practice, that these restaurants would remain closed at least up to the 3rd day of the Chinese New Year. So, if you’re wondering if you could visit any of these three, then you better have a back up plan. No worries though, because you will definitely be able to satisfy your craving for BKT during the Chinese New Year, as it is said that there more than 400 BKT restaurants in Klang, and some of them are bound to be open. Continue reading Klang Bak Kut Teh and Kopi, round 2

Quick Meal – Sambal Stingray

Sambal Stingray is a popular dish in Singapore that is often thought to be only available from a hawker centre. Actually, you must have noticed that when you placed an order for Sambal Stingray, you got served within 15 minutes. That means it must be quite easy to prepare, and that is exactly the case.

If you did a search, you will find quite a few recipes posted online for Sambal Stingray. Some even tell you how to make the Sambal sauce. Well, i think it is not necessarily worth the time making your own Sambal sauce, unless you make a huge batch and plan on using it in other dishes. Sambal sauce is fairly easy to buy off the shelf, and it isn’t exactly very expensive. There are many types of Sambal sauce, and I noticed that the type used by hawker centre seafood stalls is the shrimp type (Belacan would work too), and that’s the one you should get.

Anyway, after a few not-so-successful attempts, this is how i would say is the quickest and easiest way to do it. Continue reading Quick Meal – Sambal Stingray

North-south highway lunch stop – Ayer Hitam

Today i drove a little faster (okay way above the speed limit actually) and got to Ayer Hitam at 1230pm (in just 2.5 hours from KL), just the right time for lunch. Ayer Hitam is just off the highway, making it a convenient lunch stop.

If you Googled for Ayer Hitam food, you’ll invariably find Tang Chuan among the top search results. Tang Chuan sells Pau and other Dim Sum, not quite the staple people will usually choose for a lunch meal. We certainly did not feel like having Pau for lunch. After doing a quick survey, i settled for Meng Heng, located at the corner unit of the row of shops across the road.

For completeness sake, let me quickly mention that the Kopitiam next to Tang Chuan, called New Mui Thye, had two stalls open at lunch time, selling chicken rice and noodles. The corner unit at the other end of the same row of shops as Tang Chuan sold Wanton noodles. The two shops directly across the road from Tang Chuan sold mixed economy rice (什菜饭), and these two took in the lion’s share of the local lunch crowd. None of these eateries looked appealing, honestly speaking, and from intuition, i felt there was something about Meng Heng that seem just slightly more convincing.

Screen capture of Restoran Meng Heng from Google Street View.

Meng Heng sells various types of noodles, as well as mixed economy rice. I just found out they have been around for more than 60 years. Okay. Wow.

We ordered three types of noodles, and they did not disappoint.

Curry pork ribs. The curry has an obvious Tumeric taste, and overall, it was rather tangy, which i think is characteristic of Johorean curry. The pork ribs were very tender.
Laksa. Came with pretty good (stiff rather than soggy) fish cake.
Minced pork noodles. This was very fragrant and tasty.

The noodles used was chewy flat yellow noodles, a welcome change from the more common soggy round yellow noodles. There was a lot of (too much) oil in the noodles but no obvious taste of lard, which sat well with me as i do not like a lot of lard in my food.

I don’t have a photo of the coffee which we did order, but as mentioned in the news article, it was pretty good. Yes, despite the coffee being a little milky, as is typical of the coffee around this region (from Batu Pahat to Pontian in the south), there was enough of aromatic coffee taste to convince me i was drinking coffee instead of milk.

Just so that i can check Ayer Hitam off my list of food to try along the North-south highway in Johor, we went to sample the Pau at Tang Chuan after finishing our meal at Meng Heng.

Unfortunately, they don’t sell the glutinous chicken rice anymore

I would say the Pau were indeed nice. We sampled the big Pau and the Char Siew Pau. Both were more savoury than sweet, which suits my preference just nice. The filling were juicy and tender. The coffee from here, however, was no match to Meng Heng’s.

There was a steady stream of customers, and i think the internet lent a huge helping hand

To conclude, i would say Yong Peng is still the best place to do lunch along the North-south highway if you’re not in a hurry.

Krabi and Phuket trip report card

Probably the only thing that didn’t go as smoothly as planned during the entire trip was the immigration clearance at Krabi airport. I was among the last to disembark from the plane, and it took 40 minutes of queuing before it was our turn to get through immigration. Anyway, not a single hitch thereafter.

Day 1

After picking up the rental car, we headed towards the Emerald hot spring pool, and upon enquiry about entrance fee, i decided to only visit the hot spring waterfalls, which was also around the vicinity. It cost 200 Baht (S$8) to visit the Emerald pool, but only 90 Baht ($3.60) for the hot spring waterfalls. We had time only for one, and i had originally planned to only take a dip at the hot spring waterfall anyway. To me, there’s more novelty in a hot spring waterfall than a hot spring pool.

Take in the view of the river while dipping in the naturally formed pool from mineral deposits . Almost like a Japanese Onsen, except that the pools here are not man-made but natural. How cool is that.
At around 5pm, there will be intervals when you can have the pool to yourself.

Continue reading Krabi and Phuket trip report card

Kitchen Hack: storing tomato paste

Tomato paste is often called for in recipes, but usually the amount required is less than the can they come in. The way to prevent wastage is to freeze the unused portion. I got this idea from a forum posting, whereby someone suggested using cling wrap to apportion the paste before freezing. This way, you can easily apply them in the future.

Well, I improvised on the idea by using this plastic storage box usually used for storing tiny knick knacks like nails and needles. You can easily find such a storage box in those shops selling hardware and household items. I used to store minced ginger this way too.

The yellowish stuff on the upper right are chicken/pork stock. I drop one of these when stir frying vegetables.

Crock pot Sous Vide braising

Here’s something your Anova Precision Cooker can’t do: you can’t dip it directly into your food. If you want to cook something soupy, you’ll still have to dump everything into a bag and cook the bagful of liquid in a water bath. This is where a crock pot trumps the water bath Sous Vide. Also, if you’re worried about plastic leeching into your food, then you can be free of worry if you use the crock pot method.

I had leftover pork vinegar soup and i was going to cook it with some pork and serve it with Mee Sua. I particularly dislike dry and streaky meat, and cooking meat at high heat for an extended time results in exactly that, so i was wondering, why not do it Sous Vide. And then i remembered that i do have a temperature controller sitting around.

The seriouseats guide to barbeque pork ribs gives a good estimate of the temperature and timing for cooking, and i set my cooking temperature at around 65 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately, i don’t have the 24 to 36 hours of cooking time needed to arrive at the desirable tenderness. With only 9 hours of cooking time, the meat was meaty and still a little tough. Given the limited time i knew i had, i should have chosen a higher cooking temperature.

Mee Sua in pork vinegar soup. The meat was not yet very tender but certainly edible.
Mee Sua in pork vinegar soup. The meat was not yet tender enough but certainly edible.

If i had left the crock pot cooking at the low setting, without the intervention of the temperature controller, the fatty parts would become melt-in-the-mouth tender, which is very nice, but the meaty parts would become streaky. I know because i tried when doing the Tonkotsu ramen broth.

Anyway, i will certainly try this cooking method again for braising meat.