Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mini Abalone steamboat at home

The recent weather is a killer, really, and I thought I was pretty good in enduring the weather but I had also fallen helplessly with my immunity system, with first, the episode on the food poisoning (read here) and after the weekend, I was down with feverish chills and headaches. I was really tired and I think I have slept almost the entire day, hence there was no update yesterday, I am sorry.

I am feeling a little up to weather today, and hopefully it just keeps getting better tomorrow:)

After a series of vegetarian posts, which surprisingly garnered quite good responses (I still have a few to share), I have decided to share on something different today; something from home.

It was really simple, and more of a spur-of-a-moment thing when we decided to have a mini steamboat right at home on one weekend.
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It was a really small affair, but I am a fan of steamboats, and when I heard that we are having abalones for steamboat, I jumped at that:) (I am a big fan of seafood, it should not be hard to guess that)

A glance at the really simple ingredients for the steamboat or hot pot, as you call it in other countries.

Assorted mushrooms
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I've always liked mushrooms; all sorts of them, shittakes, giant oyster mushrooms, button mushrooms...and also the following enoki mushrooms.
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Assorted vegetables (Lettuces, cauliflowers,cabbages, water convulvus)
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For those who have never heard of it, well, it's basically a pot of hot soup where you prepare beforehand and then you have a bunch of ingredients/food (your pick of meat, veggies, seafood, vegetarian, whatever fancies you) which are raw.
The food will then be put into the soup when everyone is ready; where everyone puts in whatever they would like to eat and then wait for it to cook. Once everyone is done putting in the food, the lid on the pot is closed for cooking and then everyone waits until the food boils or cooks.
Simple, and this is really a favorite among the Chinese particularly during festive seasons, such as Chinese New Year in Malaysia, or during winter and cold weathers in other countries (Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, etc).

Of course, despite the association of the notion with festive seasons, there is no reason not to have the steamboat anytime of the year, especially if you live in the tropics, like me!:)

The main highlights; seafood and abalone
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Alright, I am going to have to ask for a little help from those who cook, whether you can tell me the name of these whitish squiggly seafood which is really chewy?
It is a little like bamboo clams cross with scallops :)
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The mini abalones, which came right out of a can (imported ones)
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It may not be as gigantic as the ones you can get in Chinese restaurants which could cost hundreds per piece, but these still tasted good too:)

While waiting for the food to cook, we had some ready cooked tidbits like the fishballs and siew mai (pork dumplings)
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That's the best part about eating at home, you get to choose whatever you like to eat and at anytime!:) Plus, it's healthier too!

*I am a little dizzy, but I am getting better, and if you don't see me around your blogs yet, do bear with me, I will be back:) *

Friday, May 27, 2011

Are these Vegetarian Too?

It's finally Friday today, and usually on Fridays, Catholics observe the tradition of going meat-less.
For some of us (points to myself), that means going vegetarian and I am definitely not complaining about it.

I know I have already posted on vegetarian in my last post, and before I hear you groan "Not Again?", allow me to share these few photos for you to judge whether they are Vegetarian-like or not.

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Braised lean meat with ginger and soy sauce
This tastes so chewy and good, and the spicy ginger just pumped up the level of excitement in this dish!

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Fish in sweet and sour salad sauce (made of tomato ketchup mixed with chili sauce)
No need for me to elaborate further, that this is one of my favorites!:)
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I am a fish fan; vegetarian or not!

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Stir-fried broccoli and cauliflower with tau kua (beancurd), carrots, and mushrooms, and mock lean meat made of gluten wheat.
This is a simple yet crunch-worthy dish which I adore; and is definitely my all-time favorite veggie vegetarian dish.

Now, don't you think this look so similar to the real meat and fish?
Had I not mention it at the start of the post, would you be able to guess?

All these creative vegetarian dishes are not homemade by yours truly, but were bought from a stall in the market.
Most of these vegetarian dishes are made of gluten wheat, and for the fish, there is also seaweed involved.

Did I hear you now regret your groan? ;)
I promise you more exciting food next week, after we ALL enjoy our weekend (bloggers do need to take our weekends off too, sometimes:)

TGIF folks, and have an awesome weekend!!:)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Economy Vegetarian Buffet @ Evergreen Vegetarian House

In conjunction with my Vesak Day post here, I have decided to post on vegetarian food; particularly this vegetarian cafe in Penang which offers economy vegetarian buffet.
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This is one of my favorite vegetarian haunts when I am in Penang, because of their wide variety, reasonable pricing, one-stop (they have from rice to porridge to noodles, desserts, pastries, everything!), and friendly service and these few alone are more than enough to keep me coming back.

Now, the concept of economy buffet is different from the usual buffet you have in restaurants or hotels where you buy a standard price and you get to eat all you want.
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The concept of economy rice here in Malaysia, is that you still get lots of variety of food and you can choose what you want on your plate, which you then bring to the cashier and they charge you based on what you take.
Yes, it's that simple, and before you scream out that the food is going to be overpriced, well, that's where the word economy comes to the rescue.
Unless you really overloaded your plate with a mount of food which resembles a mini Himalaya, usually the price of 2-4 types of dishes will only cost approximately RM3-5 (~USD$1-1.70)
Do I have your attention now? :)

This is an especially convenient concept for office workers during their lunch hours, and even for urban city dwellers who don't cook (like yours truly) where you can have a few types of dishes on your plate with either rice or noodles to call it a meal.

If you choose to dine at home, you can take a paper box stacked on the side to put your food in it (or if you plan to buy the dishes, you can take plastic boxes which they charge for RM0.30-.50 each) Of course, you can use your own container too.
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(spot the box in the background, yeah, that's how you do it)

There are even disposable spoons and chopsticks provided, which usually the cashier will just pack it in your bag after you make your payment.

Note: the following photos will be an overview of the array of food/dishes offered at this cafe and there is no focus on one food in particular, so enjoy the visual feast.
(You can try to guess what they are made of, or what they are, although there will still be descriptions along the way;)

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Mock meat

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From top left: Fried gordon bleu sausages, fried wantons, fried mock fish
Bottom: Assorted curries

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Top row: Fried beehoon (rice vermicelli), fried maggi mee (instant noodles type), fried yellow noodles
Bottom: Deep fried yam rolls, Deep fried spring rolls, deep fried vege rolls wrapped with bean curd sheets

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Curry and potatoes

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Assorted fried noodles

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My favorite stir-fried cauliflowers and broccoli, and jicama and carrots stir-fry

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Dishes made of bean curd sheets

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More mock meat dishes

Dry food; pastries and biscuits are also on sale here for vegetarian snacks
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This is a very conducive place for meals, and for Buddists, you will find comfort in the Buddhism hymns played softly in the background.
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There are also hot and cold desserts available; from soy bean curd pudding to red bean soup, and even herbal drinks and jelly.
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During major Buddhist festivals, there will be even more varieties of food as
most go on one-day vegetarian diets.
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Of course, even prices will be slightly higher on those days, and they will voluntarily inform and even apologize to you.

If you are drooling over the food, maybe it's time you follow suit to try some delicious vegetarian dishes like these once in a while?
I know I love them!:)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mini Lotus Bun and Sambal Seri Kaya Roll for Breakfast at home

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I missed out this breakfast post prepared by my lovely host in Singapore, Aunty Gina previously (maybe because I thought of postponing after the previous sambal tuna bun post, and I totally forgot about it!)

Simple breakfasts like these are good to start off the new day, with a little sweetness, spice, salt, and even sour taste to it.

The mini lotus paste buns are just so adorably round that I was not sure whether I should even eat them!
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Here are the composition of the four different tastes I have described for my breakfast:
Sweet lotus paste oozing with goodness from the plain steamed mini bun
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It was served hot, just the way I liked it!:)

Salty taste came from this steamed glutinous rice cake in blue and white which is known to us locals as the Seri Kaya kueh (Malay name for light cakes for snacks)
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The Seri Kaya is actually filled with kaya (coconut milk, sugar and eggs combo type of bread spread which is especially sweet and is a favorite among the locals).
The sticky glutinous rice used for the roll tastes slightly salty, and instead of filling it with the usual kaya, Aunty made this differently...

by filling it with her specialty Sambal with dried shrimps paste in it to lend that spicy taste! (Maybe I should call it the Seri Sambal now?:)
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Rolled with banana leaves, it even had a fragrant aroma, and made it all the more appetizing.
However, too bad, I can't really take glutinous rice due to digestion problems...so I had to pass on this:p

Oh ya, the sour taste came from the freshly squeezed orange juice which even had real orange pulps in it!:)

This is a really homey type of breakfast, and very localized too!:)
Thanks to Aunty Gina, that we get to enjoy such lovely breakfasts like these.

What about you, what do you usually have for breakfast when you are at home? :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Prawn wanton and Chicken Hor Fun @TK Chong

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The name of this shop somehow reminded me of my ex-boss from my first job, and yet they had nothing in common nor are they related besides the similarity of surname and the first name.
This shop offers Chinese hawker delight; the famous Ipoh Chicken Hor Fun and also prawn wantons.

Those who are working in Damansara Perdana may be familiar with this place, and for me, I chanced upon this place when I was in the area and I found it to be packed during the peak lunch hour compared to the neighboring coffee shops.
Well, when there is a crowd, it must be good right? After all, why would people flock to this shop instead of the neighbors?

So, we walked into the shop to see what they had to offer.
They sell the Ipoh-style Chicken Hor Fun (flat rice noodles) and also prawn wantons
(Ipoh is a capital town of Perak, one of the states in the Northern region of Malaysia and is famous for food as well, like Penang)

Shredded chicken and prawns with the Hor Fun in soup (RM6 for small, RM8 for big - I think)
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It was a rather big bowl filled with the flat rice noodles in tasty soup, with plenty of spring onions, fried shallots, chicken shreds and sliced prawns.

If you are not interested in the soup version, the same thing is available in the dry version with gravy.
Dry Hor Fun with shredded Chicken and prawns
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Somehow the dry version makes the loads of hor fun rather apparent compared to the chicken and prawn slices and there were no spring onion garnishing like the soup.

Additional orders/side dishes:
Stir-fried bean sprouts (RM4.50 ~ USD$1.50)
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This is plain and simple dish that cannot go wrong; furthermore with a light sprinkle of oyster sauce.
I love the big fat juicy bean sprouts, and it's so hard to find them in the city (mostly found in Ipoh).

Of course, I must have the Prawn wantons; I am a fan of them and they can be hard to come by (although I have recently found a few available in the city!)
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I was a little disappointed with the prawn wantons, honestly, as they were really small and it was a really small biteful of prawns in it.
They are really stingy with the prawns inside the wanton, and the types I like ought to be filled with big juicy and fresh prawns bursting with flavor, but this, sorry to say so, is just not the type I like:(
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Food was not too bad, and the service, well, it would be prompt if you ask for the Chinese lady boss who was more attentive to our orders compared to her staff.
Price wise, it was still reasonable, but the food quality is not simply one I would sing praises for.
Then again, it's me and my personal tastes, and I can be picky sometimes:)

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Hidden Chinese Local restaurant, Wan Fatt

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Nestled within a rather hidden location in Kajang, is this rustic Chinese restaurant or eatery outlet, Wan Fatt.
The shop is not easily accessible and is mostly known to the locals or the residents around the Kajang area, due to its secluded location, or so one may say.

However, despite its ready popularity among the locals, the restaurant's business further experienced an uprising spike as they were discovered by the local Malaysian TV programme, Ho Chiak (a prominent food programmed produced by the 8TV).

I can vouch for their popularity myself, as I observed the brisk business during the peak hours and one would have to wait in line for a table for at least half an hour.
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Call us lucky, but we managed to find a place when we arrived!:)

Honestly, judging from the exterior/appearance of the shop, I would not really pay much attention to dining here at any time of the day, had it not been a recommendation by a close family friend who even led the way here.
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The place was rather shabby, given its establishment within the row of makeshift-like shophouses.
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The menu were on the wall and we were also provided with the menu booklet as soon as we were seated.
Another thing I dislike about the menu is that prices of the food/dishes were not printed. I have always had the perception that when the prices are not printed, it could vary and we may end up being overcharged for our food.

Well, we made our orders swiftly, and waited for about 30 minutes for our food (yes, it's that long of a queue!)

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I love barley drink!:)

Our food:

Steamed tilapia with special bean sauce (RM22 ~USD$7.33)
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Talapia is a type of freshwater fish which can be found at reasonably low prices in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor areas and I was pretty surprised that they charged RM22 for this. (It's considered higher priced as I've tried this fish at only RM6-9; less than USD$5)
The special bean sauce, or Cheung Jing in Chinese, is a type of fermented bean sauce mixed with chili and garlic. It is rather saltish in taste, and may be slightly spicy depending on the amount of chili they include or how well you can take spicy food :)
It is one of the favorite styles for the talapia fish, and is appetizing when it goes with the white rice.

Deep Fried Pork Ribs in Two Styles (RM12     ~USD$4)
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As the name suggested, the pork ribs were deep fried before being served with the two different styles.
The BBQ sauce style
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Salad style (pretty much served with mayonnaise dressing)
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Thai Style Beancurd (RM8   ~USD$2.67)
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Sweet and sour sauce combined with the silky smooth taste of the fried beancurd makes this very appetizing indeed!

Braised Seafood in Sizzling Pan (RM18-20) (~USD$3-6)
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The seafood consists of squids, shrimps, and fish fillets with sweet and sour thick gravy (combination of tomato ketchup sauce and chili).

Stir-fried potato leaves (RM8) (~USD$2.67)
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All the dishes for dinner
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The ambience and the location may not be desirable, but the food and service were still alright although I do feel it may be tad a bit overrated.
However, one thing I have to say is, they do indeed serve quite a variety of styles for each of their dish, which is a plus point when you just cannot decide what to have and would like to break away from the everyday dishes at home.