Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hakka Noodles and Dishes in Miaoli Taiwan

Hakkas made up of 20% of Taiwan's population. They migrated from Guangdong and Fujian in the 18th century. We ate at Miaoli County situated between Hsinchu and Taichung.

Believe it or not simple rural dishes do not need to cost an arm and a leg. These set me back only RM28.

We had a plate of meat from the pig's head. Imagine facial meat and some cartilages. Surprisingly fresh as it has no stale smell at all as these meat do not keep well. Served with lots of julienned ginger.

Next bowl was Hakka noodles with wanton. These noodles are the same with that we have in Malaysia. Then a bowl of 'Ban Teow' flat noodles. The sauce has to be thoroughly mixed with the flat noodles. I suspect there's the usual sugar, bean paste and soy sauces thick and thin plus maybs some secret ingredients.

And finally the ubiquitous and obligatory vege dish. Cabbages in Taiwan are like Kangkong and Sawi in Malaysia. Its everywhere. Cooked with lots  of moisture, it's wet and topped up with deep fried onions.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Pressure-cooked Pork Belly - Homecooking

Bought a cookbook from Yangon airport at USD60 and was wondering if its worth the money and the time try the recipes. It is by Tin Cho Chaw and the book is eentitled Hsa Ba or simple "Please eat!"She won an award for this book. Flipped through most of the pages and I wondered if China in the north and India in the west have influenced Myanmar cuisine in a large scale? Noticed many Indian and Chinese influenced recipes or very similar ones.

Tried a dish I had fail one time too many, Braised Pork Belly. The recipe in this book seems simple enough. It did not disappoint. Came out delicious and the instruction is so simple.

Cooked it twice as my wife do not want too much sugar was suggested in the book i.e. 3 teaspoons for 300gm of pork. I find the caramelisation very nice and the taste was good. But alas I have to cook for two. So in my 2nd round I go for 1/2 teaspoon for 600gm of pork a reduction of 88%. I did not achieved very strong caramelisation but the thick soy sauce did the job well enough for me to get the desired dark brown final product.

600gm Pork Belly
1/2 tsp sugar (instead of the suggested 4 tsp)
6 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
10 cloves garlic peeled an left whole
15 slices of ginger

Cut up pork into big pieces (a couple of centimeters length). Add the sugar and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Mix thoroughly and leave for an hour or so.

Cooking: (author suggest a slow cook in the oven but I went for the pressure cooker as I will take 25  minutes compared to 2 hours in the oven)

Fry the marinated pork in a pan with 2 tablespoons of peanut oil until it the pork is browned on its surface. Transfer to the pressure cooker. Add the rest of the 4 tablespoon of soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce and the garlic cloves to the pressure cooker. Add a few tablespoons of water. Set the pressure cooker to 25-30 minutes and you get tender meat and soft rind.

Second round with much less sugar and lard pieces just pure pork belly.
First round with lots of lard included
The cookbook

Friday, December 8, 2017

Cijin Island Seafood, Kaoshiong, Taiwan

We had our mandatory seafood dinner in Cijin Island just off the port city Kaoshiong. These seafood could not be fresher. Just off the fishing boat, dressed and prepared and ready to go in the wok. All these costed the 2 of us RM126. The red snapper was done just right. It came with candle fires below. The sauces were rolling and the fish was piping hot. Meat was fresh and lovely on the palate. Nothing beats the fresh taste of the sea.

The baby octopus was slight uncooked but I think for a reason. It's not rubber or crunchy but rather soft and the inside was moist and jelly like. Eaten with pickled ginger and cabbage its has the oomph. The Lala was very fresh and it's pretty neat as it was fried in basil leaves leaving a aromatic smell and earthy taste on the clams.

The crystal fish was like bait fish. Deep-fried in batter and eaten with pepper, the meat was tender and fresh to the palate. I believe that this fish should be chewed longer for us to taste its goodness.

Finally the vege is called 'sansu' in the local vernacular. It was crunchy, smooth but not slimy and sweet. If available in Malaysia it will be a hit!

All my food in the cold....

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Milkfish Belly - Nanjichang Night Market area Taipei

Milk fish is known to have lots of fine sharp bones and is almost inedible. Today I was brought by a local to sample this incredible and delightful dish.  I was told the fish was cooked till the bones have dissolves. I doubt so. I think it is more likely to have been debones by an expert.

The soup is aromatic and the fish cooked in its own juices with some julienned ginger and chopped spring onions.

I have eaten milk fish in various forms in Philippines (bangus), Indonesia (bandeng) and Bangladesh (hilsa). This was tops as it allowed the fish's subtle sweet and milky flesh to speaks for itself.

Does it taste milky as it's name so directly refer? If you have a chance to eat this fish, try chewing it thoroughly and allow your saliva's enzyme to act on it. I believe you would wholehearted agree that it's name correctly refers to how the fish taste in the mouth.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Kwai Lam Seafood Restaurant, Subang New Village

Never have I been so spoilt for food adventures. The GPS apps are big Boon for foodie to explore with accuracy in terms of getting to the destination and also speedily. Timing can be planned to the dot on the arrival time esp to avoid peak sectors. Also Google for the restaurant and the operating hours and their holidays will be displayed. Most importantly the reviews from various customers are there for all to read and appreciate. Then coming to a decision to go or not to go will be a breeze.

Since moving here I have been thinking of eating at TUDM/Subang New Village area for a while. Kwai Lam came on the radar. We arrived at 9pm just away from the peak session. Seemingly most of the crowd are gone or it may be the sign of bad times and people are eating out that much. I expected the restaurant to be half full.

Known for their Ikan Bakar, I went for grilled Stingray. Totally fresh, grilled to perfection. Meat was tender and been light sauced the fish taste came to the fore. Those who want a heavily sauced fish can use the Sambal belacan and seafood sauce to accompanied the fish.

I hardly order mantis prawns since all my experiences was not very good as I simply do not like the spongy texture of the prawn. I was rewarded this time as the taste was heavy with caramelised exterior and the sauces deeply ingrained. Most of all the meat was firm and dense. The texture was fantastic. Beyond expectations!

The lala was overcooked and the soup was without the strong rice wine taste and fragrance. The saving grace was the Hokkien Mee. Fried to dry perfection. All the sauces hanging on the fat noodles. My verdict - the best Hokkien Mee around. For those of like the Old PJ Food Court Hokkien Mee who has fed the residents there for over 40 years, this you will enjoy.

5, Jalan TUDM, Kg Subang, Shah Alam, 40150, Shah Alam

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Lala (Kepah) with cooking wine - Homecook

My first discovery in cooking up this shell food was freshness is everything. No more frozen ones too no matter what the label claimed to the contrary. The other was not all of these molluscs are the same. You have to spy the inside if possible and determined whether these are meaty or not. No point in getting those that are on a diet.

Thirdly, the use of a good cooking wine. I have still not found one as yet that rival some that were used in Tai Chows esp here.

The 4 most important ingredients are garlic, onion, ginger and chili. Use the rule of thumb. If possible add a chicken cube (the best would be liquid stock, it is ok to use from can or tetrapak) and also sugar to take away the edge from the rice wine.

Cooking method:

Wash the clams thoroughly. I get mine from Village Grocer. A bit pricey but good. Pour them into boiling water for a minute or less depending on whether the clams are of the thin (lala) variety or thick ones. Once partially open, can get rid of sand and debris within by straining it through a sieve.

Fried all the ingredients till fragrant. Add stock. Bring to boil. Add the clams and cover pan with a lid. Three minutes will suffice or wait for the shell to pop open. Add the cooking wine. How long you want to keep cooking its up to you. It's your comfort level on food safety. We have to trust the vendor's selection of the supply chain. The longer you wait the smaller and tougher the clam meat will be.


1) I was told that there are imitation rice wine. The bottle below should be the correct one as I obtained it from the restaurant that cooked one of the best Lala in town. The other one I used was has very similar features and claimed to be from the same importer. Upon using the bottle fro my second cook-out with Lal (Kepah) below I instantly tasted better soup.

2) I also boiled the Lala (Kepah) separately to removed the mud and dirt before removing it and putting them in the pan for frying with the ingredients. I can see that the pot of water looked murky. Caution: Do not overboiled it as you still need to cook them in the pan.

3) For my 3rd tryout, I will use some chicken stock to enhance the taste as I do not use MSG.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Crazy Crabs - Oasis Ara Damansara

We gone bonkers with crabs fever. Those over a kilogram kind. We decided that a reprise was in order after our first visit. Again the chili crabs was our favourite. It looked like the cooked crab was lying on a red carpet. The sauce was so tantalising to the taste buds that we can't helped but scooped it into our mouths when the crabs were gone. It was sweet, sour and savoury. The gravy was of the right consistency, not too watery and too dense.

My wife insisted on the mantis prawns. It was not really my favourite as it came mostly chewy and spongy. I prefer a more firm and solid texture when chewed. Nevertheless it tasted as it should, deep-fried and savoury to the core.

The baby octopus was a bit of a disappointment not in taste but in amount. Wish there were more. And the gravy was so minute in volume compared to the "red carpet" that came with the crabs. 

For my vege, I like anything with okra and stinky beans. The meat with the soy sauce was a great departure from the usual sambalicious style. All in all a good meal for 3 of us.

Oasis Square, Oasis Ara Damansara, 2, Jalan PJU 1a/22

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Oven baked Pork Chop - Homecooking

Some tart, sweetness and savoury made these chops delectable. If you want it more flavourful reduced the juices in a pan and then poured on the chops.

1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
2 cloves garlic - chopped
1 tsp Oyster sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1tbsp Soy sauce
1 tsp Sesame oil
1 tbsp Olive oil
I tbsp Tomato sauce

Pre-heat Oven to 200°C and cook each side for 10 minutes.

Make you get 63°C internal temperature for the chop. These 2 chops hit 65°C

You can check out recipe here

Monday, November 20, 2017

Popular Durians Head to Head - Musang King vs D24 by volume and weight

I am not comparing fast cars or geeky gadgets. What got me pique was when I bought both the MSK and D24 together and enjoyed both. But after observing the seeds of both it got me thinking and I did a simple experiment.

Near to Ara Damansara there's an industrial area where durians from Raub were brought to Klang Valley to be sold. So far they have brought top of the range MSK and D24, some the best that I have ever eaten. This week I conveniently popped in a few times to the detriment of my wallet.

I had an enforce fast on MSK durian due to the price and also lots of fakes in the market masquerading as MSK and charging upward to RM85 per kg. That's almost unforgivable to any durians lovers. I may glad I ended my avoidance when I came to this dealer. All is good here despite the viral fake news. Their durian shells attract flies. Checked. And I was told that their plantation emphasied organic farming. The seeds are flat and thin. Checked. Star shaped colouration at the bottom of the fruit. Checked. Orangy knit colour. Checked. Wrinkly skin on the pulp. Checked.

One of the distinctive feature of MSK is its thin flat seed. After eating some arils of D24 and MSK I dumped the seeds into a pot with water and saw that the D24 seed sank to to the bottom like a rock and the MSK actually floated like a civet would hopping from tree to tree.

So I put both the seeds on a scale. The D24 seed weighed 3 ⅓ times more than that of MSK.  The obvious observation was not just the big difference in weight but also the volume of pulp lost due to the D24's big oval seed. So we lost on weight and also on the delectable pulp. Even though the old tree D24 is half the price of MSK it is also worth noting that MSK tastes better according to almost everybody. We pay for the pulp not the seed!

Go figure if it's worth eating MSK all day long if you have a bent on a thorny binge!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Leng Kee Teow Chew Seafood, Taman Sri Gombak

A lunch for two and lovely fellowship. This shop is what I called the trinity of Tai Chows in Taman Sri Gombak. Closely situated with one another it gives us some choices. The healthy competition ensures fair pricing to the benefit of the consumers.

The other two Lam Chye and Sin Kee is well featured since I go there on a regular basis. Sin Kee is for those who want string taste while Lam Chye is more folksy and many dishes look homecooked. Lam Chye has the best premise for those looking for cleanliness and ambience. 

The Tau Tei Pomfret was excellent. Totally fresh and steamed to perfection. It allowed the meat to speak for itself. The meat is so tasty that the more the chewing g went on the tastier it became. No wonder those with some money fed their infants and toddlers with this fish once their cam take soft food.

The Kam Heong Lala was also fresh and juicy and the frying was done just right. An excellent cook that has proven his ss in the steaming and wok frying. With a right balance of chili powder and sauces this dish is a must order. 

Finally my yingyong order for my vege which is a combination or Choy Sum and Kai Lan. Again excellent stir frying. The vegetables are crunchy and still green like as though still brimming with chlorophyll. I hardly talk about my vege but these was eaten with relish. 

3, Jalan SG 1/10, Sri Gombak, Batu Caves

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Musang King durians has landed

Paying for the last season Musang King durians was both painful and brutal. Even when you were paying RM85 per kilogram and you were not sure you were getting the real MSK. A dicey game indeed.

Hopefully there are some light shining through the doom and gloom. We blamed the weather and China for last season expensive MSK. This season's catch from Ruab was certainly encouraging at RM42 per kilogram. What more with thin flat seeds and golden yellow crinkly flesh, I was very sure it was the redoubtable MSK. The taste buds later confirmed it. I was happy. Hip hip hurray! Hope this will be a long MSK season.

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Heng Hong Tin Kee Restaurant, Melaka

Good food after a long drive is succor for the tired soul and body. I had eaten some duds in Melaka and they are having very famous names too. We warned one another in our grapevine against eating in such establishments. But goods friends also recommend their best experiences. Here is one.

This shop is famous for their mutton. But they do have a good pork dish. The mutton was herbal and Chinese in every way. Just think of having the best Mamak Sup Kambing with the additional touch of the Chinese herbs. Well balanced in taste and fall of the bones' meat, what more can we asked for. Thumbs up.

The braised pork with wood ears was a huge pleasant surprise. The taste was so different from similar dishes we had from Penang all the way down to Kuala Lumpur. They may have put some Nyonya spices or herbs inside. The savoury taste is dominant here compared to the sweeter accent we get from KL and Penang. Enjoy!

62, Jalan Tengkera, Kampung Empat, Melaka