Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pizzas takeaway for the family

It has been a long time since I've had pizza; but it has not gone unnoticed the flourishing business of pizzerias in Malaysia and also the heavy influences of these fast meals in our hectic lifestyles.

The history of pizza in Malaysia started from Pizza Hut; which is one of the earliest pizzeria in the country and remains the most prominent one till this day.
How could anyone forget the catchy tune of the Pizza Hut's delivery number 7552525 in the advertisements and jingles heard on radio and televisions back in the 90s?
Pizza Hut has indeed established itself as a household brand since then.

Today, Pizza Hut faces competitions from booming pizzerias everywhere, and there is word that the quality is on a losing end compared to the competitors.
I am no expert in pizzas, so I will not comment on the quality either; which I've always believed is more of a matter of personal preference/taste.

Pizzas are comfort food and sometimes, come in handy when food is needed for lunch and in a fast manner =)
Having had a few gift vouchers for Pizza Hut/KFC (they belong to the same company), we spent them on ordering pizzas for lunch.

Thai Seafood
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Hawaiian Chicken
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Royal Masala
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Hawaiian Tuna
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Honey BBQ Wings
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Garlic Bread
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It was pretty much a meal of bread with cheese to me; that's my personal translation of pizza =)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

For the Love of Tau Foo Fah~

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Tau Foo Fah is the name in Cantonese for this favorite dessert of mine.
It is directly translated to Beancurd Custard/Pudding.
There are various names for this dessert as well; Soy Bean Custard, Soy Bean Curd, Sweet Soy Pudding, Soy Custard, Bean Curd Jelly with sugar/syrup.
Other variations of the names in Chinese include: tau Hwa, Tow Hway in Hokkien and Teochew respectively.

I love the silky smooth texture of the beancurd with every scoop.
However, like all things delicious or nutritious, tau foo fah needs to be consumed in moderation, according to the elders.
The dessert may be delicious and a high source of protein, but the recipe to make this dessert includes GDL; Gluco Delta Lactone (a type of hardening agent); to create a semi-soft/hard surface for the naturally soft textured beancurd.

GDL is not particularly good for health if consumed often; and some of the elderly folks even termed it as "cement"; as it could harden substances.

The dessert also has cooling properties; and could be consumed either hot or cold.
I would recommend both; if you have just bought it from a steaming hot pot, enjoy the simmering silky taste of the beancurd and then, you can refrigerate it for dessert after dinner.

The dessert is not consumed on its own; unless you are not a fan of sugar or sweet stuffs.
Sugar syrup usually comes along when you buy the dessert and can be included or to be added on your own to your liking.

There are two types of syrup; either the plain sugar syrup or the brown sugar syrup (also known as the Gula Melaka concoction).
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I love both of them; as both have their own unique tastes.
The brown sugar syrup would have a more fragrant aroma due to the sugar itself, while the plain sugar would be something like a clear honey.

I love this dessert; and the best part about it is that it is easily found everywhere; in markets, road stalls, restaurants, shops and even food courts/malls!
However, the picky part about me lies in the silkiness/smoothness of the beancurd texture which is hard to come by.

So far, I have only found two tau foo fah which fulfills my requirements; and oooohh, they are just sooo smooth and perfect :)

Do you love Tau Foo Fah?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Homemade Lam Mee

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Traditionally known as the birthday noodles as it is prepared to wish longevity to the birthday celebrant, it is also originally one of the Nyonya/Peranakan food.
The yellow noodles used for this may seem like the ordinary ones used in most noodle-based dishes, but due to the association with the longevity, the noodles used here are longer than usual.
(There is another type of noodles associated with birthday celebrations; which is the Sang Meen - a type of fried egg noodles)

This can usually be found in most hawker stalls or Chinese coffee shops (if you spot the stall with the word 'Lam Mee'), especially in Penang; the northern region of Malaysia. It is a clear favorite among the locals; and the Malay have a version similar to this which they call the Mee Lontong.
It is supposed to be relatively easy to make too, I guess, as I was invited to sample this homemade Lam Mee.
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The most important ingredient to the success of this dish lies in the broth or the soup used with the noodles.
It is different from other clear soups as the soup is cooked to a rich and heavy broth before serving with the noodles.
The stock used in preparing the broth is usually prawns and chicken.
I am not a cook myself, but I hope I can learn someday? :)

I am sure you can find more recipes for the Lam Mee from the web too; maybe I will publish the recipe one day!

Another important ingredient for the Lam Mee is the sambal sauce; which is an option.
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For those who like their Lam Mee to have a stronger taste with a spice, mixing the sambal sauce with the broth and noodles is an option.
Another way is to put the sambal paste on the noodles without mixing it with the broth to your liking or whenever you feel like it.

For me, I rarely go for the sambal paste as I prefer the original clear and sweet taste of the soup.

Honestly, anything homemade always beats those sold outside, bestselling or not, don't you agree?
At home, you can go heavy with the ingredients or to your taste/liking during the preparations or even the serving.
For instance, I get to enjoy the plentiful of fishballs and fish cakes in my broth as I serve myself.

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Lam Mee, anyone?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dim Sum for Breakfast

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I have always been a fan of dim sum; and especially having them for breakfasts. (I do sometimes go for them during lunches or dinners too :)

When one mentions the word 'Dim Sum', the first thing that comes to our minds is the small dishes or little bamboo baskets with mini dumplings; placed on them.
Besides these small bites, there are also fried pastries, and also buns with different fillings.
The most popular in dim sum restaurants would be the Char Siew Pau (BBQ Pork Bun)
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That is the main reason I enjoy dim sum; it is just like a high-style buffet whereby I can choose to have anything that I want from the tray (as long as I have enough dough to clear the bill by the end of the day)

I love the many ways food can be presented for breakfast, the Chinese way and how enticing these bites could be.
It may not be totally filling at the end of the day, but it does tempt the taste buds and make for good conversation as each dish makes it way towards the dish.
If you are seeking for a fulfilling and satisfying meal for the day, this may not be exactly your option; even if you have a pocketful of dough to spend on the amount of dishes you have ordered. After all, the name dim sum was provided to these little dishes which is supposed to whet your appetites or to enjoy as snacks rather than a wholesome meal.

I have met people who just wanted to fill their stomachs and kept ordering these dim sum dishes until they are stuffed silly.
Well, honestly, that is not quite doing justice to the art of enjoying dim sum.

That being said, there are also other options to satiate your appetite or to gear you with more energy for the day.
Besides the tiny bites from the dim sum plates, one can also opt to have a fuller breakfast by choosing the light carb dishes such as Chee Cheong Fun, buns, pastries.
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Lor Mai Kai, is an unique sticky glutinous rice filled with meat (Usually chicken) and mushrooms. It can be filling and is a favorite among dim sum lovers too.
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Egg Tarts, another popular favorite among dim sum fans, and also one of the determining food to decide the quality of the dim sum in any restaurant.
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I love having dim sum especially on weekends, but honestly, it is hard to find a good place serving good dim sum these days despite the growing numbers of dim sum restaurants. The prices of these dim sum are also increasing exponentially, and sometimes, it is more worthwhile to spend on a bowl of noodles or the good old bread for breakfast rather than tens of dollars (or more than that) for a few plates of dim sum and a pot of brewing hot tea; particularly during the economic slowdown period.

I have my few favorite haunts, and well, I still enjoy dim sum, slowdown or not.
My favorites are har kao (shrimp dumplings) and fishballs, and a pot of good old chrysanthemum or jasmine tea is just perfect!

(Above pics are from Maxim's restaurant in Sg Dua, Penang)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How I became a Food Blogger

I have been doing a lot of soul-searching lately (yeah, philosophical), and in the process of rediscovering myself, I also look through my works and that includes my blogs.

I own more than ten blogs today (yeah, I am insane), and I have shared how and why here

Anyway, this food blog is special and I just wanted to write why and how I started this food blog.
If you have following one of my older blogs; Angelstar Blog which has now been replaced by my life journal, you will find my earlier writings on my life and also, food.

Lots of people (even myself included) always think that food bloggers just LOVE food, and EATING.
Yeah, not all wrong, but that is only part of the truth.

I don't HATE food either but sets me back, was I am not the cooking type.
Yeah, I don't know how to cook, don't try to test me by asking the simplest of recipes like cooking rice, frying an egg or even instant noodles..don't bother.
It is rather, the general perception that when you blog about food, you must at least have the minimum requirements:
1. LOVE food (the obvious)
2. EATS a lot
3. Good at cooking
4. Creative with recipes

Yeah, minimum and possible to achieve; thus the birth of so many talented (and enthusiastic!) food bloggers out there.
They are the majority group; who formed the mass of food bloggers.

BUT, What IF, I am not in the majority, nor am I part of the common crowd who shares the same interests?

I am not saying that I don't have the requirements to be a food blogger; honestly, there is no right or wrong or what dictates who should be a food blogger but, I blog about food for a different reason than that of the general.

Of course, there must still be interest in food, but the art of preparing and having them captured is what had me hooked.
I started my first blog because I just love writing and sharing on my views, and then I played around with the first digital camera we had at the time.
It was really cool; we did not need to waste money and time on developing films, and it made blogging so much easier.

When I started blogging, the population of bloggers was really low and there were only a few like us out there.
I was also inspired by some great blogs, and it was from there that I enjoyed posting about everything I did; from my daily activities (not every single detail lar!) to food and even my feelings/mood/weather.

My mum was my first ever fan, and she was really supportive of my writing (well, she has been since I first started writing - she kept all my early written pieces; essays, poems, stories, etc in a file).
I loved to capture the plants she spent so much time on, but my favorite had to be her cooking.

She played along too, presenting the food ready for photograph each time whenever she sees me taking out my camera and she just loves looking at all the photos when I upload them to my laptop/pc and when I post them to the blog.
(She's happy and proud that they turn out so nice in the photos; yeah, not my photography skills...I have only basic skills :)

I loved sharing on my thoughts on food, and yeah, I may be really picky with my food, and what I like or dislike to eat, but I share my honest opinions.
I may sound sarcastic, or even different from others out there (they say it's nice, and I just don't quite agree) but that's MY opinion.
We can't force ourselves to like what others like; we ARE different.

One man's meat is another's poison, heard of this before?

Writing/blogging about food does not automatically upgrade me to be a food critic or a food reviewer; yeah right!
I am just an ordinary person like you and you out there, enjoying and trying new stuffs when they come to town AND, I go by MY Budget.

I don't tempt myself to indulge in expensive food just because it is a TREND and everyone else has it there; nor do I make it a point to visit to every single restaurant out there to make sure I complete my mission.

Nah, I don't do that.

I don't make it into an assignment; but rather, a vision whereby I hope to share my own findings and experiences in my daily lives.
I am not Food Hunter, and not a world class chef, although I may consider learning someday, so you can choose to laugh at my reviews and experiences or emphatize with me or you can just decide that, NAH, I'll read other blogs.

THAT, is YOUR choice.

I write this food blog for my own reasons:
1. Interesting eats I find daily, and what I feel about them
2. New places I happened to visit and what I think about them
3. My mum's home cooking/friends/relatives, and maybe, my soon-to-be mother-in-law? :)
4. Pictures of food that I just find fascinating
5. Anything about food that I like or dislike
6. My encounters when I decide what to eat daily/during travel
7. My travel food

I hope to be adding more interesting stories about food and also more perspectives into the food I have as my daily bread...ooohhh, and hopefully unique food comes my way too.

Don't group all Food bloggers as the same, we are all different with our distinct styles.
One does not suit you? Check out the rest, that's one thing common about all food bloggers; we ARE LINKED to each other =)

Happy Food blog reading and hunting and I hope you enjoyed your stay here; if you can stand my picky-ness!

To Eat or not to eat, that is MY question =)

Search Engine for Food Blogs

If you are a food lover or in love with food and don't know where to start, you'd be happy to see this search engine to make your life easier

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Prosperity Dinner @ MIdlands Court Restaurant

During the Chinese New year this year, we were invited for a dinner gathering which was held at Midlands Court Restaurant, located on the 3rd level of the Midlands One Stop Shopping Centre.
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I have always liked this restaurant for their food, and I am not the only one, as the restaurant is always booked for weddings and birthdays especially on weekends.
Our dinner was a set dinner package, priced at approximately MYR488++.
(everything is at a high price; and with plenty of number 8 in it due to the prosperity/luck meaning associated with the phonetic sound of 8 in chinese)

Braised Shark's Fin soup
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Crab and prawns were gently sliced and were served generously in each serving of the soup.

Three treasures
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Salad prawns, fried fish rolls, stir-fried chicken with sweet peas.

Double combination of chicken
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Steamed chicken
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Roasted chicken with fried buns
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Braised baby sprouts with treasures of beancurd sheets, mushrooms, water chestnuts
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Steamed red snapper with Chinese wine
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Braised broccoli with fish maw and mushrooms
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Longevity Noodles
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Dessert was cold sweet soup with snow fungus, red dates and longan
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Dinner was good, and we were even greeted by the friendly boss who made his way around the restaurant meeting and greeting all his customers.
He must be really happy with the huge profit he is making during the festive season!~ :)

Colorful food for the New Spring

Chinese New Year is all about the merry and festive celebration to usher in the new spring and is prioritized by the Chinese community.
Despite it being a Chinese festival rather than a religious one, there is still the elements of superstition and religion as well.

For instance, the most observe the practice of vegetarian consumption on the first day of Chinese New Year and they enjoy a huge feast on the 2nd day of CNY.
On the 4th day, the Taoists would prepare food for the gods and deities who would be visiting the Earth on that day.
The 6th day of CNY is also observed as the birth of the Snake deity/guardian.
The 7th day of CNY is the day of Humanity where everyone shares the same birthday on this day.

The Hokkien society, particularly look forward to the night of the 8th day as the eve of the Heavenly Jade Emperor on the 9th day of CNY; where they will be busy preparing the customary worship items and food for their respected Creator.

My grandmother used to busy herself along with my aunts for the preparations as well, as the Hokkiens really focus on this day as a victorious day for their clan.
The legend has it that the Hokkiens were at war with the Teochews then and they escaped by hiding in a nearby sugar cane plantation.
Now, as we have seen the plantation before, we would know that it is not hard to spot anyone in the spaces between the trees and yet the Hokkiens escaped.
On the day they finally came out of their hiding place, it coincided with the birthday of the Heavenly Jade Emperor.
Therefore, to the Hokkiens, the 9th Day is really their brand new Year/beginning and they celebrate by offering thanks to the Jade Emperor using the sugar cane.
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As grandmother is getting old, the worship stuffs have decreased as well.

I never did associate the intent of worship with the generosity of offerings, as poor and rich alike, God do not judge us based on our spending or riches.

There are customary items of course; such as fruits and sugar cane, but the rest are entirely based on individual budget.
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Prosperity rice cakes, also known as 'Huat Kueh' remained a favorite for deity worship and is never left out of the worship list.
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Dyed red eggs; a typical symbol for birthdays
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Ang Koo are also associated with longevity
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Glutinous rice cakes
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Meat, usually associated with celebration in the olden days as they are rare and dear in price and viewed as luxury food
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I will be writing a more detailed posting on CNY food and customs in my other blog soon :-)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Glimpse of local Penang delights - only Best in Penang!

One of the must do on our list during the Chinese New year season is to make a trip to the little island of Penang for an extended celebration with my maternal relatives.

It is also a time for the family to catch up on the much-missed hawker delights from the food haven here too!
However, these are rather scarce (or notoriously priced!) during the festive season compared to any other time of the year.

Sar Hor Fun
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Ice Kacang with ice-cream
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Or without
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Either way, it still tastes great!~

Hokkien Char (one of the good ol' favourites, only to be found in Penang)
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Did I ever mention that I particularly like the version from Penang? ;)

Lor Bak
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This is also usually best, if it's from Penang =)

Do you have your favourites which are proud brands from Penang?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Home dishes - Festive Meanings

Steamboat dominated most of our meals during the festive season of Chinese New Year; and there were more than enough fishballs, meatballs and vegetables stocked up for the continuous serving of steamboat to the family.
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However, we started off with the good ol' fragrant rice and dishes with the family on the 2nd and 3rd day of Chinese New Year onwards, to maintain proper nutrition instead of relying on what mum calls, "fish paste and flour" =P

The following were a few of the colorful dishes prepared by Mum:

Mixed vegetables with shittake mushrooms usually, a staple favourite due to the colorful mix of different vegetables.
Vegetables, in Chinese, pronounced as "Choy" also means wealth and prosperity, and is a dish which will definitely makes its appearance on the table during the CNY.
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Fish, also commonly seen on the plates during CNY, is a must to be served due to the meaning/pronounciation in Chinese; "Yu" which means extra, or leftover and is taken by the community to mean more for keeps and to have more than enough for the rest of the year and even until the following year.
Steamed garoupa with Chinese wine
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Fried fish
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Steamed golden pomfret with Chinese wine
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Mum's signature preserved sweet and sour cucumber (usually to go with the preserved pork or duck - Lap Cheong and Lap Ngap in Cantonese)
Preserved food like these are more of a tradition; as in some of the countries, the spring is preceded by colder seasons such as winter, and as festive preparations began earlier, the people would prepare their food and preserve them in some way or another so that they could be consumed during the arrival of the festive season.
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Leeks with mixed vegetables
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Leeks, symbolizes good calculation of money due to the phonetic sound in Hokkien; "Suan" and is a favourite dish served among Hokkien families during the festive season.

Soup is also usually served by the Cantonese in every meal; not just during festive seasons as they believe that soups are one of the most nourishing lot.
At the same time, soups are also water-based, and for the Chinese, water means luck and wealth. Anyway, the main meaning of soups during CNY is merely for the nutrition purpose, rather than the auspicious meaning :)
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Chicken/Meat; any form of meat dishes is also a must as in history, meat usually means luxury and is usually consumed in association with celebration
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Don't forget the hot, fragrant and steamed white rice to go with all the dishes, a staple for most Asians especially Chinese, and some call, the secret food to anti aging and good health! =)
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