All About that Paste ( trouble)

These are some of the herbs and spices you need to cook rendang. 
Many curries and Asian dishes come down to one thing: it is is about the paste.

For Chinese, Malay and especially Thai, it really is all about the paste. 

In in modern times, convenient pre-mixes have become big business to cater for busy housewives. We have to use the phrase "make it from scratch" to indicate authentic or good food (but not always the case). But traditionally in Asian homes, pastes were made from fresh ingredients.  

If you know how to, it is just about the spices, herbs and sauces. No trouble, as my Mama will say.

Planning and Hosting a BBQ Party


Char-grilling foods is a great way of cooking.

As old as humanity, this must be one of the earliest forms of cooking. Burn some wood. Warm yourself up in the cold. And hang some meat over the fire.

My earlier experiences of BBQ are in my youth camping days. It was almost always chicken wings and sausages galore. In part it is because these are cheap. The wings were of course mostly "chow tar" (burnt) from the sugar or honey in the marinade. We did not know any better. Even then, grilled chicken wings always excite. Somehow.

Cooking for the Pleasure of it


One of the highlights of the year is the opportunity to cook fine dining Western cuisine for the larger family gatherings. Someone else is always sponsoring the bill. All I need to do is to plan and prepare the meal.

The chefs like what they are doing. The diners like the food. And the one who sponsors believes that he is getting a good bang for the buck. Everyone is happy.  There is nothing like the atmosphere of a home which feels like a restaurant, with food plated to each guest.

Family, food and friends. I am not sure I got the order right but these are always special and anticipated gatherings.

Just Steaks


This is a short post on steaks. 

It is very easy to cook steaks. And it is a lot cheaper to do it yourself, of course. 

These are two incontrovertible facts which you should know, whatever anyone will try to tell you. 

The pan in your kitchen can do a pretty good job at searing and crusting the steak. While almost any pan can do the job, my favourite pan for searing is the Greenpan. If you dry the steak in your fridge, it will make the crusting job easier.

I test the doneness of the steak by the bounce of the meat (just tap). On the average, 2 minutes per side on high fire should work for a medium to medium rare steak of about half an inch thick.

Chicken Cooked in Oyster Sauce


This is a very common dish cooked in many homes and cze char stalls across Malaysia and Singapore.

It is my default go to dish when I am rushed for time or too tired to think. But it is delicious and comforting in its own way and come with a sauce which is great for the rice.  

You can choose to simplify it and skip the marinating step. But marinating it does improve the dish significantly. Chicken marinates well in salt and wine.

Auntie Ruby's Mee Jawa


It has been a fascinating journey of trying to recreate my Mum's noodle recipes: Assam Laksa, Penang Prawn Mee, Ipoh Kai See Hor Fun and recently, her version of Mee Jawa. Her laksa still awaits.

Auntie Ruby was exceptionally good with noodle dishes. I think her recipes were gathered and improved out of her many years of cooking in canteens, restaurants and hosting parties. She must have known some "makciks", possibly learning from the Malay cooks in the Muslim section of her canteen, as her Malay recipes are "sungguh sedap."

While her written recipes are helpful, taste memories played an important part in inching it closer to how she made it. The first batches are always for my family and when they give the thumbs up, I know one of Auntie Ruby's dishes has been recreated.