Monday, August 31, 2009

My Herb and Spice Garden - Aloe Vera, Misai Kucing, Screwpine and Lemon Grass

Aloe Vera is my most beloved herbal plant in my garden. This particular specie is special with its pleasant green and thick juicy blade that belies its latent power within. But then there is another that I found in Indonesia name appropriately as "lidah buaya" (crocodile's tongue) which has huge blades about 1/2 the size of the blade of a KDK ceiling fan.

We have harvested, de-skinned, cubed and washed off its gel and made a refreshing "tong sui" out of it. The aloe vera is very much like "hasma" (a product of snow frog) and by adding rock sugar and some red dates we will have simulated the "hasma soup".

I keep at least 2 pots at home as it is excellent for initial emergency treatment for burns. Personally I have experienced its therapeutic value. I was on my sofa after pouring myself a glass of hot tea and settling down for my favourite show. The glass bottom broke as I brought it near to my mouth for a sip. The entire hot content was dumped onto my bare lower abdomen. I cut a few blades of aloe vera and treated myself in the bathroom before driving to the Emergency. By then the angry red patches had subsided.
A mature pot with 4 babies shooting out. Will transplant this into smaller pots later. This is the exciting part as I am able to give this plant as a gift to friends!I bought this "misai kucing" (Orthosiphon Stamineus) in a small pot from Tropical Fruit Farm (my blog) in Balik Pulau, Penang and transplanted it. The results 6 months later. It has gone rogue in a good way. Though not worth the effort to produce for my own consumption as yet. Another 6 months I will can harvest it regularly. Further I am consulting my friend who is a agriculturist and soil specialist as the leaves are not up to mark.

The dried leaves can be used for making tea. Just pour hot water over it in a cup and cover with a lid for a few minutes and it is ready to drink. It is said to cleanse the kidney. After drinking a cup I will find that my body by-product will not turned the urinal base into a yellowish pool! I used to get my supplies from Bogor, Indonesia for free. The plantation owner actually export these leaves to Germany which has a thriving and modern homeopathic practices.
The flower is very similar to that of the cat's whiskers! I have blog on this here and here.
Screw pine for the fragrant finish for my "tong sui".Lemongrass for the occasional curry cook-out!Another herb for making a tea leaves which I got from Penang but have not gotten down to really connect with it as yet. Popular in Penang for promoting general health and found in residential gardens! Anyone can advise me on this. Click on picture to get a bigger size for analysis and inspection:-) It has since grown so well and tall and very productive. The first harvest yielded lots of leaves for drying.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tian Tian Seafood - Selera Food Court PJS 9/5, Sunway

Is there a commercial backwater in Sunway? That is in comparison to the vibrant and posh Pyramid and Sunway Resort and Spa? This hidden area is known to many locals and those working in Sunway. It is Jalan PJS 9/5. A flogger called this location "Sunway Belakang"!! This very old area have two good 'Tai Chows".
This Steam Kerapu is average though fresh as the stomach area is a bit 'fishy'. I understand they have an outstanding 'Steam Water Egg' top up with 'Kerapu Fish Fillet'.
This 'Pork Ribs Curry' was outstanding as I personally believed that 'Pork Curry' must be done Indian style for a maximum match between the spices and the meat. One drawback - the piece of rib I had was a bit tough. Time for owner to check on what's was being delivered by the suppliers!
Run of the mill 'Hot Plate Tofu with Minced Meat'. Eggs Omelette. A comfort dish for children and adults.Customary vegetables to round off the meal!Its Tian Tian Lai (Come Everyday in Mandarin) but it closes on Wednesday! I have dropped in twice on Wednesday, the 2nd inadvertently and maybe absent-mindedly. No fear as we had Plan B in the equally popular "Restoran Popular City" which is along the same road in the shophouses.Total Bill: RM104 for 6 adults and 2 kids. They have an air-con room (3 tables) but I think they charge RM1 per head for it as this room was specially converted from 2 existing stalls. Otherwise eat without air-con.Address: Selera Sunway Food Court,
Jalan PJS 9/5,
Bandar Sunway

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ipoh Road Hakka Yong Tau Foo - Wangsa Permai, Kepong

The spacious hangar-like eatery is inviting on 2 counts: space and airiness. Google Ipoh Road Hakka Yong Tau Foo and one can find the handiwork of various floggers. I was surprised it was found in something like 10 locations in KL!

The YTF is normal and within my expectations. I have a soft spot for it due to the extensive use of healthy tofu and vegetables. The only anomaly but on the positive side was the soup. Its thicker than normal and brewed with bean paste (tau cheong) giving it a strong savoury and slightly spicy taste. The fragrance (acquired) from the fermented beans is reminiscing of those YTF fried in "Tau Cheong" I get back home from my mother. MSG - moderate amount detected.
Its 12:00 noon and the crowd is filtering in. Now mostly families.
The 'to fu', 'to pok', and all kinds of vegetables inserted with fish paste.The unique soup base is good with rice as it is salty, slightly spicy and with a strong fermented beans smell.
Deep-fried 'fu chok', 'sui kow' and brinjal.Fish balls were ordinary and the soup has a slight bitter edge. Not sure where it was from.
Address: 12-A, Jalan Wangsa Utama, Wangsa Permai, Kepong.
Tel: 03 62765885
Business Hours: 9 am - 11 pm.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Underground Best-Seller - YiFon Fish Head Noodles @ Kuala Ampang, Ulu Klang

I was recommended to eat in this shop by an AIG senior marketing staff. He said it is value for money with some great eats. Finding time to get there I bumped into a couple of friends. An underground best-seller for those in the know!

From their expressions it looks like this shop will no longer be their oasis of cheap and tasty food. I can imagine as there was even a table occupied by a group of Japanese! Sharing or using the porch area of the May Mey Seafood Restaurant, its open from 8:00 am - 2:30 pm. It is located just before the famous Mei Keng Fatt Restaurant.

Fried Fish Head Noodles (Also the Fresh Fish Head version)
Three big chunk of fleshy fish head, subtle soup laced with sweet, sour, creamy and savoury tastes bringing the noodles into good feel comforting crescendo. The only downside: moderate presence of MSG.
Fuzhou Fish Balls. On the Side.
Firm and compressed. Minced pork fillings inside. Seasoned well and with a drop or two of fragrant sesame seed oil.

Fishball Noodles for the die-hard traditionalist.
Bitter Gourd Noodles with fish slices for the adventurous.
Generous serving of meat! Using the basic Fish Head Noodles' soup base it it is good to the last slurp.
Simple Menu.Closes on Wednesday. Here's the Map to Mei Keng Fatt Restaurant for reference.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Taxi Drivers' Haunt - KLIA Char Siew Noodles - Revisit

Taxi drivers know where to eat. Its not even 8:00 am. The parking area was filled with taxis. Within, most of the patrons were in shirts with epaulettes aka "the uniform". This is the place to get the best "Char Siew" for any combination of regular noodles. Dry or wet.

Though this was a revisit I was excited. I could still remember the melt-in-the-mouth "BBQ Pork" served to me last December. It did not disappoint. After dropping my wife off at the KLIA, I headed back towards KL and then take the Banting/Nilai left turnoff (which is also the direction to LCCT). At the first roundabout turn 3 o'clock (towards Concorde Inn) and drive another 2km and upon reaching the roundabout turn 9 o'clock (Caltex is visible). This is KLIA Downtown where the working class folks get their meals. Shop is at the last road of this 3-4 roads enclave. Try to be there before 1:00pm. May run out of the good stuff. There are white chicken, YTF and Stew Mushrooms with Chicken Feet.
P/S - I have added a map to location for the benefit of Sin Tai Lim.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Simple Pleasures - Steamed Water Eggs

In less than 15 minutes we can deliver this incredible comfort dish from any kitchen. Check out how smooth it is!

Drizzle some superior soy sauce and enjoy. Thick smooth consistency all the way. Look at the edge! No bubbles.
The key is in the correct volume of water used! I am no stickler to scales and measures. Learn best using rule of thumbs and some instinct. Guess it is the personality at work.

Rule of Thumb 1. To get the smooth and firm consistency; one egg used begets one egg shell full of water. Open up one egg at the top and shake out its content into a metal or enamel plate. This empty egg shell will be the measurement. Example: Five eggs = Five egg shell full of water.
Rule of Thumb 2. Beat the eggs vigorously with a fork until foamy. About double the thickness (foam included) after the beating. Less than 5 minutes. Let it settle for a while and then remove all the foam with a spoon or whatever (sieve).Rule of Thumb 3. Pour just enough hot water into the steamer for 3-5 minutes of steaming (depend on how many eggs are used). Use a piece of "Good Morning" towel for the steamer (improvise any pot) to stabilise the plate and prevent too much vibration.
Place the plate into steamer (note: foam removed). Remember that the thicker the liquid that is in the plate the longer will be the steaming time.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa Kg Baru - Melati Utama

Foremost on my food chain in the nasi lemak joint will be the ever popular beef rendang and then follow by chicken rendang then cockles. These never fail to excite my taste-buds. Sotong has been one of my favourite also until the market was flooded with sotong that are cardboard-like and when overcooked taste like one. The only good thing was the sotong curry gravy which I substituted my sambal with. Too much dry chili in the sambal makes it very 'hot' and experiencing the aftermath the next morning is not very nice.
One of my friends used to packed the famous Dang Wangi's nasi lemak for my colleagues and I years ago. Enjoyed the moist and fluffy nasi lemak and the tasty rendang chicken or beef. For my regular fix in my younger days, it used to come from a genial and generous Pak Cik in Taman Melawati. His concerns for his customers, young and old, boys and girls, of all races endeared him in my heart. His rice was fluffy and slightly starchy (which I preferred) with strong pandan leaves fragrance and loads of santan.

The rendang was laden with spices and herbs and much sought after. The tender meat willingly released its grip on the bone. Chewing the meat with its gravy and curry freely intermingling with it, will send me to food seven-heaven. Especially nice would be the kaffir lime leaves that imparts a strong citrus aroma and a lingering tang. Then there was the strong fragrance from the slivers of turmeric leaves and the taut pungency of the galanggal. And not forgetting the last of the trinity of the local herbs, the subtle and smooth aroma of the lemon grass.

Since then I have always compare nasi lemak quality based on this standard.

Nasi Lemak with Chicken Rendang. The sambal seems to be a bit weak. Lack the heat which I like but may not be look upon favourably by those who wanted it really hot. The meat was premium - tender and sweet. The rendang gravy was there but I am surprise they kept it subtle rather than strong. The subtle taste would be a recurring theme here for other food that I tasted. I preferred it strong and overpowering.

The rice was fragrant from the pandan and santan infusion. It was fluffy with separated grains therefore all the starchiness was all gone.
Nasi Lemak with Ayam Berempah. Good piece of meat again. Fresh, tender, sweet and very desirable. The skin with has a nice crisp and the spices again were subtle but with a stronger dosage of kunyit powder (turmeric). Nice.
Nasi Lemak with Rendang Daging. My eating companion told me the meat was not up to the high standard expected of an old and famous brand. Each set is RM9.90 and comes with paru-paru (lungs) and a glass of ice lemon tea. I admit that cow lungs is not part of my diet. Never eaten it before and reluctant to try when presented with the opportunity. It’s the hang-up thing. But then I tried. It was leathery as it should be a suppose.
Nasi Lemak with Petai and Udang. Also not up to the mark expected. Guess it was also the small portion served.
This Sup Tulang Rawan was the star. At RM3.95 it had a very generous amount of meat and the sup was very good. Thick and aromatic with strong beefy flavour and smell. The bowl was slightly smaller than the usual sup ekor in the mamak stalls but more than compensated the slight shortfall in quantity with its high quality. This would be my standard order when I am there.
The food counter.Guess what the also have a lot of other dishes on their menu. If one don't fancy curried stuff go for the toast bread and other side-kicks. The traditional bread was good, just like the kopitiams.