There was a spell of sweltering whether enveloping several countries in Europe in the first few weeks of July. The Mercury rose to as high as 40 deg C and there was a heatwave which lasted several days!

Of all days, I met up with some girlfriends for a ladies’ day out, on the hottest Saturday in July! Not that we had picked the date on purpose, but my girlfriends and I had been planning a day out for some time already. The last time I met my friends was last summer, and 4th of July this year, was mutually agreed upon as most of us had holiday plans and other personal prior arrangements. 

Chill Out and New Search…

With such uncomfortably hot afternoon, we avoided sitting on the terrace. It was by chance that we walked a bit further and found just the place ~ an air-conditioned bistro somewhere in the centre of Leuven! Cool!

If it was a cool day, I would have ordered the Mussels’ dish, so we ended up ordering some salads and cool ourselves further with ice-creams and slushes. Pure indulgence ;-)  

 
We had a great time catching up and filling in the vacuum of so many lost months, oblivious of the super hot 40+ deg C outside sipping into the crevices of the windows and doors of the bistro. There were many people patronising the bistro that day for the same reason – the aircond! LOL!

After our lunch, we walked further down and chanced upon a new Asian Supermarket.  It’s bigger than most Asian stores I have been to in Leuven, hence, I was excited to get my nose around the store :-)

  

I noticed there were loads of products from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.  Some Singaporean but nothing from Malaysia …

The owner is a Nepalese and the store has been around for a year. 

And guess what? I ended up buying a familiar product from Singapore. Laksa!

  

I haven’t seen this product before. Being the curious me, I bought a packet for try-out :-) 

And by the way, I haven’t tried the laksa yet, because I have given priority to another discovery.

These!!!

 

My heart fluttered when I saw those nostalgic looking purple brinjals. Gosh, I haven’t eaten that type of “aubergines” in years!  The ones in Belgium have shiny dark purple colour, fat and round at the base, while the ones I found at the Asian store had lighter tones of purple. They were actually Chinese eggplants. They have less seeds which made them less bitter and the skins were thinner. I bought 4. As you can see, they were not super fresh anymore and with the hot weather, the stalks dried out, otherwise they were perfect.

When I saw the brinjals, I knew exactly what to do with it, because I had a recipe in mind!

  

By the way, if you’re wondering why I called the fruit (yes, they are technically a fruit), a brinjal, an aubergine and an eggplant at the same time, well it’s a fruit with 3 names depending on where you are located. Southeast Asians called the fruit, brinjal, while its “eggplant” in Canadian, American and Australian English. British English used the French variation of the word, aubergine, that Belgians are familiar with…

Since I grew up knowing the fruit-veg as brinjal, I called this recipe Spicy-Garlicky Brinjals with Aka Miso (red miso paste).

Why Aka Miso of all ingredients? Well, I happened to have this red miso paste in my fridge for a while and I love experimenting with my cooking ;-)

This recipe is like a “Rojak” ~ mumbo jumbo and all mixed up but turned out perfect! 

Ingredients

  • 4 brinjals or aubergines or eggplants washed and cut into 5 cm pieces 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cm ginger, grated 
  • Fresh coriander, roughly torn 
  • Chives, roughly chopped
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli (chilli padi), minced
  • 1 Tbsp Aka Miso (Note: this is Red Miso paste which is quite grainy, quite salty and rich in umami flavours)
  • Vegetable oil

   
 For the sauce 

  • 1 Tbsp mushroom soy
  • Balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • 43g palm sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp cornflour 
  • Water

   

 Method

  1. Quarter lengthways each of the 5cm piece brinjals. Soak in salted water to prevent them from turning colour due to oxidation 
  2. In a clean bowl, mix all the sauce ingredients. Set aside.
  3. Drain the brinjals through a colander. Transfer the pieces to a steamer and steam for 8 to 10 minutes. It is recommended to check the texture of the brinjals if they are cooked to your desired texture.
  4. Sauté the minced garlic, ginger, chilli and red miso paste (if you noticed I forgot to include the miso paste in the sautéed ingredients but a wee bit later after the brinjals went in. No worries, because it did not have any impact in the taste at all 😊)
  5. Add the brinjals and stir to coat the ingredients for a few seconds and then add the sauce. Cook for a further 1 to 2 minutes.  Toss in the chopped herbs.
  6. Ready to serve 

   

   

 

Verdict

I love this Rojak-style of cooking, but with ingredients that made complete sense. The fact that I wanted the dish to turn out sweet, sour, salty, spicy, fragrant and umami, it turned out exactly sweet (palm sugar), sour (balsamic vinegar), salty (aka miso and soy), spicy (bird’s eye chilli), fragrant (garlic, ginger and the fresh herbs) and umami (again the aka miso). Totally bullseye, spot on and bang on the money! It’s a very Asian dish with hints of Thai, Chinese and Japanese. I love it LOTS!

To all Belgians, I wish you a fantastic break on 21st July!  

Happy National Feast Day!

Cheers!

Lui Cha Fon,  Lei Cha Fan… whatever, but I’ll stick to my guns. It’s Lui Cha Fon for me as it was the word I first heard eons ago! It’s how the Kuching Ho Poh Hakka people called this dish …

Total Recall 

You see we used to live next door to a Ho Poh Hakka family. The patriarch and matriarch, Mr and Mrs C had 14 children!

When Mrs C was carrying her 14th child, her eldest daughter was pregnant with her first-born son ~ in exactly the same year! A big family meant more mouths to feed…

I remembered Mrs C used to cook huge amounts of foods, simple but nutritious and on very tight budget.

Even with their frugal meals, the friendly matriarch would sometimes share a portion of her cooking with us. Although my Mum used to decline her offers, Mrs C always insisted.  One of the most standout dishes was the odd and murky looking green soup with rice served with 7 components of fresh and preserved vegetables and roasted peanuts.  She told my Mum that that was a Traditional Hakka dish. Luckily, my Mum loved trying new things and that was the best opportunity for her to try out a very typical Hakka dish. 

One afternoon after school, Mum gave me a bowl of rice garnished with the “7 treasures” with another bowl of green soup at the side.  Honestly speaking, the green soup looked revolting and tasted like muddy and bitter water.  The rice with the 7-treasures were alright.  The thing was, I had to pour the green soup in the bowl of rice and eat it like a soupy rice with vegetables. 

My first spoonful was like … Yucks! Well I was only 14 then and that was my honest feedback.  Sorry, Mrs C ..

It was not the first time Mrs C shared that dish with us. After several tries, my teen-aged palate grew to like the soupy green tea rice.

I’m glad my Mum learnt the technique of making Lui Cha  from the ever-smiling Mrs C. She did make a few times tweaking the dish with more flavours by including fried anchovies.

And believe you me, I have been craving for Lui Cha Fon – literally translated as pounded or crushed tea rice – ever since 😄

  
D.I.Y Thunder Tea Rice

Yup, it’s sometimes called “thunder tea” rice, although I’m not particularly sure why. Could it be the sounds of the grinding of the tea, herbs, nuts and seeds from the special ceramic mortar? The pestle, by the way, is made from the wood of the guava tree.  I don’t have these special Lui Cha pestle and mortar, hence, improvisation is key.

I resorted to using my electric hand mixer, instead, however, the biggest challenge was to find the right vegetables, which are usually chai sim, long beans, mani chai, 4-angled beans, kai lan and chai por. 

My version as follows inspired by Mrs C and my Mum’s addition of the extra umami flavour.

Note my ingredients were purely guesstimated, for 4 portions.

Pounded ingredients (Note I ground these ingredients with my electric hand mixer to form a thick paste or pesto-like consistency)

  

  • Loose-leaf Tung Ting Oolong tea
  • Roasted peanuts
  • White sesame seeds
  • Pine nuts 
  • Flax seeds
  • Roughly chopped mint
  • Roughly chopped basil
  • Roughly torn coriander
  • 1 clove garlic (not pictured)
  • Fried anchovies (in lieu of salt)

  

Cooked Rice

My choice of 7-treasure ingredients (Note each component was stir-fried / roasted separately)

  

  • French beans
  • Pek chai
  • Tofu
  • Spinach
  • Chai Por
  • Fried anchovies
  • Roasted peanuts 

Assembling Lui Cha Fon


 

  1. Take 2 Tbsp of the pounded tea paste in a bowl. Pour boiling water. This is your tea soup base.
  2. In another bowl, scoop a portion of cooked rice. Garnish with the 7  cooked veg – fresh and preserved and the roasted peanuts and fried anchovies 
  3. Ready to eat! Note how you want to eat is up to you, ie, by eating the rice and soup separately OR pouring the tea soup into the rice. I ate how I was first being introduced to this dish ~ the latter, of course *big smile*

   

   
Mang-mang sit! An ho sit oh! 😄

Verdict:

It was hard work washing, peeling, cutting, chopping and cooking the vegetables separately.  I understand now why this dish was originally served during the Chinese Lunar New Year by the Hakka clan when all the ladies would assemble together in the kitchen helping with the tedious kitchen preps. Unfortunately, I was alone in my kitchen, hence, I made the 4 portions for myself ~ Day 1’s lunch and dinner and Day 2’s lunch and dinner. LOL! I started my prep work at 11am and the final dish was ready by 1.30pm (including taking photographs… Ha ha…).  Note I purposely made this dish for myself because I foresaw my 3 carnivores would complain if I were to serve the dish as their main course. I was extremely pleased with the result, seeing that it was the first time I had a go in making the infamous Lui Cha Fon from scratch ~ finally! Yay! I was doubly contented with the taste. It was so closed to the best Lui Cha Fons I had in Kuching. The slightly bitter, herbal and minty taste of the green tea soup was spot on for me. No salt, please as the salty anchovies made a world of difference in the tea soup. The umami flavour was a double oomph! The chai por (preserved dried radish) and extra garnishing of the fried anchovies made great natural enhancers. It’s an absolutely LOVELY dish. I wish I could eat it everyday but the only stumbling block were the tedious preps :-(

I have used loose-leaf Oolong Tea in this recipe. For this, I’m linking this post at Little Thumbs Up (July 2015 theme: TEA) organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY, and hosted by Cheryl of Baking Taitai.
 
Have a Great Week!

Cheers! 


All soups are meant to be served piping hot, right? Wrong. There’s one exception to the rule – the mysteriously and extraordinarily special soup that must be consumed chilled or iced cold, even. 

This! 

 
A Blushing Moment to Remember Forever and Ever…

I only started to know about the existence of this cold soup in 1996, while dining in a Portuguese restaurant with my other half somewhere in Leuven. The dinner was something to remember as well. It was a “present” from hubby for my achieving A+ results in the Dutch language course. It was a cold Autumn night in October and we chanced upon a quaint looking Restaurant. We stepped inside and the friendly-looking waiter beckoned us to a table for two in a quiet corner near the warm radiator. What bliss!

While perusing the menu card, we both wanted to start with something truly mediterranean and warm. “Gaspacho” sounded immensely mediterranean and warm. (By the way, it’s Gaspacho in Portuguese and Gazpacho in Spanish. We happened to be in a Portuguese resto, hence, the “s” instead of “z“… )

And lo and behold… the soup was iced cold!!

I looked at hubby and he looked back. We were thinking the same thing. The chef forgot to heat the soup up! Hubby waved at the waiter and told him about our chilled soups. He smiled and politely replied, “Gazpacho is a soup made of raw vegetables and is always served cold”

Oooops!! *blush*

Henceforth, that one embarrassing episode became the locus of my unwavering search for the culinary meaning of Gazpacho.

The Quest of the Perfect Gazpacho

Looking back almost 20 years when I first had that cold soup on a cold, chilly October, I vowed only to have Gazpacho during hot summers. I’m so glad the guys in my household love the cold puréed salad soup. I have bought ready-bottled gazpacho in our local supermarket but it’s just not the same when it’s fresh and home-made from scratch!

After 2 decades, I found the best tasting Gazpacho is still the traditional, tomato-based Andalusian version. Other versions may include avocado’s, yellow squash, carrot or courgette, but they don’t fit the bill! As a saying goes, ‘first impressions are the most lasting“.

Here’s how I made my Gazpacho enjoyed by my family during the hot temps we had recently.

This recipe is inspired by Oil & Vinegar, with changes adapted given by the availabilty of ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 5 tomatoes, slit an ‘X’ at the bottom of each tomato
  • 1 red bell pepper or capsicum or paprika, cubed
  • 1 cucumber (I used 3/4 part, cubed and reserved 1/4 part, skinned and diced finely for garnishing)
  • 1 onion, cubed or roughly chopped
  • 2 pieces bread, crusts removed and roughly torn (sprayed and soaked with some balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar)
  • 1 dl wine (I used white wine, iso of red)
  • Cold drinking water (amount depends on how thick or thin you want your soup to be. Your call…)
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly-milled black peppercorns, to taste

Make your own Garlic Oil –

Mix 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil with 2 fat cloves garlic, mashed with some coarse sea salt. Set aside

Garnish –

Skinned the 1/4 part cucumber and remove excess seeds, if any. Dice finely and refrigerate.

  
Method –

  1. Boil some water and steep the tomatoes for 20 to 25 seconds. Transfer to cold water and peel skin off the tomatoes. Once all done, cut the tomatoes in quarters and remove most of the seeds and roughly chop.
  2. Place all the chopped and cubed ingredients and the bread crumbs to a pot and purée or blend the mixture with an electric hand mixer
  3. As soon as you have reached the point where you’d say “Ah, that’s the texture I want“, then stop. It can be either chunky or smooth. I prefer the latter. Pour in the wine and season the soup to taste. Add more balsamic vinegar if you prefer your soup a bit more tangy (I don’t..)
  4. Add 2 Tbsp garlic oil and stir. Refrigerate for at least one hour
  5. Before serving, plate on individual bowl or any decorative glass and drizzle with the rest of the garlic oil and garnish with the cold diced cucumber

  

I served the soup as a starter – like tapas – with some Spanish bread sticks (Picos Camperos) and Bruschetta Italian herb mix dip. Muy buen!

   

  

Verdict:

If you love tomatoes, red paprikas, cucumbers, onions, garlics with a hint of “sour wine” (vinegar) and don’t mind at all sipping puréed salad cold, you will LOVE this soup! It’s a breeze to make and a blessing on a hot afternoon or warm evening. Simply refreshing and so light and healthy. I will definitely introduce this chilled soup to my family in Kuching real soon *wink*

Without much ado, I’m linking this “red” post to The Vegetable Palette ~ Glorious Reds, hosted by Shaheen of A2K ~ A Seasonal Veg Table

   

This refreshing soup makes great starter on any hot day and perfect when you’re having a BBQ. For this, I’m linking up to Tea Time Treats  with the July’s theme “BBQ Fodder’ hosted by Janie of The Hedgecombers  
 

 

Eat well, stay healthy, take care!

Cheers!

Oh Wow! I am blown away by the dance movements of an uber talented young dancer. Every time I watch her on YouTube, I am completely mesmerised. 

No wonder the channel is closed to 800 million hits!  Wow! That’s one monstrous and absolutely deserving statistic.

1,2,3 1,2,3 drink … 1,2,3 1,2,3 drink … Sia’s Chandelier and Maddie Ziegler’s dance movements kept ringing in my head and my mind’s eye like an old gramophone. 

I wish I could sing like Sia and dance like Maddie. But it’s not meant to be…. Okay let’s leave the professional acts to the professionals and leave the amateur – c’est moi – green with envy. LOL!

And by the way, I felt “literally” green. I was thinking green and yearning for something green! 

And here’s the result!  

My green-eyed green fritters:-D

It’s deliriously easy to make. Think green. Go green. Chop-chop, dice-dice and mix to amalgamate the herbs, the dry and the wet ingredients. 

You need –

  • Flour, eyeballed
  • 1 heap teaspoon baking powder
  • Chives, chopped finely
  • Spring onions, chopped finely
  • Green Paprika, finely diced
  • Fresh coriander, roughly torn
  • 1 onion, finely diced 
  • 1 green chilli, finely diced
  • Coarse sea salt and black peppercorns, ground with pestle and mortar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten 
  • Some water, eyeballed
  • Vegetable stock cube (optional)
  • A pinch of sugar (optional)
  • Cooking Oil ( I used corn oil)

 

Mix the flour, baking powder and egg into the bowl of chopped greens and onion. Add some water to form a batter which is neither too thick nor too runny.  Season with the ground mix of coarse sea salt and black peppercorns. You may want to crumble a quarter of a vegetable stock cube and a pinch of sugar for balance of flavour. 

Scoop a tablespoon of the batter and drop it in a heated wok or frying pan with cooking oil. Flatten with the back of the spoon to make a flat pattie. I shallow fried the fritters until crisp and golden brown on both sides.

Remove with a slotted spoon and rest the fritters in a colander lined with absorbent papers.

And there you have it, one of my favourite savoury snacks to make. Easy peasy! 

1,2,3 1,2,3…eat :-) 

  

  

 

Verdict: These fritters go well with a squirt of tomato ketchup or chilli sauce or the fiery sriracha sauce or home-made cucumber chilli sauce with a sprinkle of sesame seeds or crushed peanuts.  Mmmm… Refreshingly yummy! 

As with all kinds of fritters, the crisp texture on the outside will be soft when cold, however, if you want that crispy outer layer, then you need to bake them in the oven. Microwaving the fritters will not produce the same result. To be honest, I’m not a finicky eater. Refrigerated cold green fritters are good enough for me if they are not stale or rancid ;-)

Enjoy!

I’m linking this post over at Eat Your Greens, hosted by A2K – A Seasonal Veg Table

 

Happy Mid-Week!

Cheers!

 





It was only quite recently that I found the perfect recipe for baby potatoes (‘Krielaardappelen” in Dutch), as far as the palates of my and my 3 guys are concerned. I will share the recipe in a later post, so stay tuned ;-)

The fact that I had a 2kg bag of baby potatoes and a great recipe to boot for a perfect summer meal, I made sure the protein to complement the carbohydrate was right, too. I knew exactly what I wanted to cook for one of our Sunday lunches. On Saturday, I included on the shopping list, 5 pieces of Tournedos (nottornado“the destructive and violent rotating winds, please. LOL!), but small round pieces of lean cut of meat from the end portion of beef tenderloin. It is sometimes called, filet mignon.

In my fridge were a stack of uncooked rashers of streaky pork belly bacon ready to be used to wrap the tournedos

Hubby went shopping, but – alas – he came home with something else, escalope de veau or kalfslapjes or veal cutlets/ filets! No tournedos! No filet mignon! Yikes! What to do next??!!

Plan B – A Challenge!

Okay, no tournedos or filet mignon. No worries! I eyeballed my kitchen cupboards and fridge to double and triple check what ingredients I had in order to come up with a decent meal, completely unplanned at the eleventh hour!

My brain was gear-wheeling for the right mix and match of the available ingredients. For Heaven’s sake, its Summer and my summer chord was harping this tune for me. And here, folks, was the result!

  
This was probably one of my most perfectly executed dishes, and I loved every single moment assembling this dish together *big smile*

Ingredients

  • 5 pieces escalope de veau or kalfslapes (Note an escalope is a piece of boneless meat, usually veal, that has been thinned out)
  • 20 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 10 green asparagus, par-boiled
  • Some cooking oil
  • Some water
  • Fleur de Sel and freshly milled black peppercorns, to taste

For the filling –

  • Some fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
  • Emmentaler Cheese, finely chopped (I used Emmentaler since that was the only cheese I had that day. You may want to use any of your favourite cheeses but not the strong types)
  • Freshly-milled black peppercorns

Kitchen “gadgets” 

  1.  A pan
  2. Electrical grill-teppanyaki-hot plate 
  3. Some Toothpicks

How to assemble

  
  

  1. Prepare the cheesy-herby filling and scoop a tablespoon of the filling to each escalope.
  2. Roll the escalope tightly and neatly, making sure the filling remains intact
  3. Lay 4 rashers of bacon under each escalope and place 2 par-cooked green asparagus on top of the rolled escalope
  4. Roll the bacon around the escalope and asparagus neatly and tightly. Seal with some toothpicks. Do all 5.
  5. Place each bundle of bacon-wrapped escalope to a slightly greased electric grill-teppanyaki-hot plate to brown and sear the outer layer (Note, at this point, the meat is not fully cooked)
  6. To cook the escalope further, transfer the rolled meats to a pan, with a little cooking oil. Add some water and season to taste. (Note the “seasoned water” will transform into a nice gravy)
  7. Before serving, I transferred the bundle to the grill which enhanced the BBQ-flavour
  8. Serve the escalope with your favourite carbs and greens. 

  
  
Notes: The thinned out escalopes cooked really fast and retained quite a bit of moisture. Beware of the seasoning! Make sure not to exaggerate too much on strong herbs and spices when cooking veal steaks because veal has a very mild flavour. This unplanned dish turned out to be a keeper!  It had very interesting flavours – the mild escalope sandwiched between the smokiness and saltiness from the bacon and a light herby flavour of the rosemary and creamy Emmentaler as you cut through the piece. Mmmmm…. Simply divine!

Oh by the way, I would like to thank Jasline @Foodie Baker for nominating me with “The Versatile Blogger Award” which I’m proud to keep and share the badge on my blog :-)

Do hop over at Jasline’s blog. She has an amazingly neat blog. Love her step by step instructions and her photography skills. Well done, Jasline! 
 

I’m linking this post over at  Cooking with Herbs for July: BBQ with Rosemary and Thyme, hosted by Karen of Lavender & Lovage

  
 

This post is also linked to Tea Time Treats with the July’s theme “BBQ Fodder’ hosted by Janie of The Hedgecombers 

 

I’m also linking this post over at #CookBlogShare, hosted for the last time by Lucy at  Supergolden Bakes

 

  
Have a fantastic weekend!

Cheers!

 

I must confess that I was a hopeless, pathetic cook when I moved to Belgium permanently in 1995. I was a nervous wreck in the kitchen not knowing how to start…. until I watched Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook which was aired on BBC1 on weekday mornings. To be honest, I could relate myself to one of the categories of “useless” cooks, “Can’t Cook!” *blush*

One of my utterly useless kitchen disasters was baking a swiss roll cake for the first time that turned out leather-hard and completely un-rollable. It was meant to be a surprise for hubby’s birthday, but alas, hubby didn’t get to see a rolled cake because it went in the dustbin! And then I wanted to slow cook a pigeon which I got from my late MIL. The pigeon was freshly hunted when I first got it, but I froze the bird when I got home. Well, that’s OK because I was not in a hurry to make a meal out of the bird then. When I finally wanted a bird meal, I took the pigeon out from the freezer and dumped it in the slow cooker and filled the cooker with water that literally drowned the bird! No matter how long I cooked the bird, it remained hard rock frozen! So in went the bird in the bin!

There was no such thing as internet then. Or maybe there was, but I did not own a PC, and smartphones were unheard of then. Luckily, there were several “ancient” ways to refer to recipes, id est, recipe books, magazines, my prized helpline – Mummy dearest – and of course the multitude of cookery channels on the telly!

Being a newbie in a non-English speaking country, BBC was a big relief for me, because (1) BBC1 had loads of back-to-back cookery programs and (2) the programs were in English!! Yay!!

Ready, Steady, Cook!

Strange, but true, I first saw James Martin, one of the Chefs on Ready Steady Cook, prepared this ancient Chinese technique of smoking chicken in a wok in 20 minutes! He used only 3 ingredients – uncooked rice, sugar and tea – as the smoking mix.

>>> Fast forward 

Thanks to RSC, I have done several tea-smokings in my kitchen, in the meantime, and have experimented with different spices, herbs and proteins : tea-smoked salmon, duck, chicken and turkey.   

Here’s one I made recently, tea-smoked chicken thighs with Asian ingredients.

  You need –

  • 1 kg chicken thighs/ cutlets, skinned
  • 3 Stalks Spring Onions
  • Root Ginger, sliced (skin on)
  • 1/2 cup Hua Diao Rice Wine
  • Mushroom Soy Sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • Sesame oil

Marinate the chicken overnight in a ziplock bag.  

For glazing – 

  • Water
  • Honey

 

The next day, boil 500 ml water in an electric kettle. Remove the marinated chicken on a plate. Add the marinade in a pan and pour in boiling water. Cook the gravy until simmering hot. Add the chicken pieces in the pan. Boil the broth with the chicken until bubbling hot. Season to taste. Total cooking time should be at least 30 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces and transfer them to a colander to release any excess liquid. 

Glaze the chicken pieces with the honey water. 

Next prepare the tea-smoked ingredients –

  • 1/2 cup uncooked fragrant rice 
  • 1/4 cup mixture of light brown and palm sugars (or the less expensive white sugar works well, too)
  • 6 sachets of Jasmine tea with petals (as a matter of fact, any type of loose tea leaves will do)
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns 
  • 1 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
  • 4 dried chillies
  • Rind of 1 lemon
  • Heavy-duty aluminium foil 

  

Toss and mix the ingredients on a heavy-duty aluminium foil.

 

Add rinds of one lemon and place the aluminium foil in a wok. A wire rack is suspended above the tea-smoked mix.  

Heat the wok on medium to high heat, covered, until a few wisps of smoke escape from the lid. Then transfer the honey-glazed chicken pieces on the wire rack.   

Keep smoking the chicken for 45 minutes to 1 hour  (Note: I have an induction stove-top, hence  the longer smoking time

Ta-da! 

 Serve the tea-smoked chicken with home-made pickled red onion and some salad leaves. Yums!

   

My 100% home-made summer platter of tea-smoked chicken with pasta, pickled red onion, chunky guacamole and salad leaves

  
 

Verdict: As this is an indoor cooking (with an outdoor mindset), always pre-cook and season your proteins before smoking (or steaming) them. I found  marinating the meat overnight makes the meat more flavourful. The tea-smoking method is not a cooking method but is simply a technique to infuse the proteins to another level of imbued fragrance of smokiness.  It is important not to pre-smoke too long as the final result will be shamefully bitter, literally speaking. 

The selections of spices and herbs are just endless. For instance, Duck goes well with star anise, lemon and orange zests and five-spiced powder.  Salmon goes well with dhill, mixed peppercorns and lemon rind, Lamb with rosemary and thyme, and etcetera.  The sky is the limit and of course, most importantly, think out of the box and get out of your comfort zone and enjoy! And by the way, I’m learning all the time ;-)

With “TEA” as the oddball and key ingredient in this recipe, I’m hopping over to the blog-hop event at Little Thumbs Up (July 2015 theme: TEA) organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY, and hosted by Cheryl of Baking Taitai

   

I’m also sharing this post over at Cooking with Herbs for July: BBQ, hosted by Karen of Lavender & Lovage

With Summer in mind, this indoor smoking technique with an outdoor mindset, is perfect for the July Tea Time Treats with the theme “BBQ Fodder“, hosted by Janie of The Hedgecombers

    
It is with deep regret to have learnt that this is the last time Lucy at Supergolden Bakes will be hosting one of the coolest and most flexible blog-hop challenges. I wish her all the best and success in her new job. Congratulations, Lucy. I have enjoyed reading her blog and have drooled over her most amazing bakes! Without much ado, I’m linking this post at  #CookBlogShare 

 

    When my last packet of laksa paste went in the pot, I was being extremely careful not to waste anything from it. I wrung the last drop of juice from the pulp, which resulted in the pulp being as dry as the desert sands of Sahara! 

    The last replenishment of my laksa paste inventory was August last year when my Mum and eldest sis came to visit us. For a few months, we enjoyed glorious bowls of the aromatic and addictive laksa. My stock-count hit zero level a long time now and I literally drooled browsing the photos of the infamous Sarawak Laksa shared by my family…. *sigh*   

    Yessssssss … #laksa #Kuching 

    One of Travel Channel’s most famous Celebrity Chefs turned writer and CNN Presenter, Anthony Bourdain, posted a picture of a bowl of the irresistible Sarawak Laksa on Facebook and Twitter – with 2.14million followers – with just one hissing word, “Yessssssss….”

    And Yes Sire to that!  A picture is worth a thousand words! 

    Anthony Bourdain’s bowl of laksa with his satisfying exclamation “Yessssssss….”

     

    Mr Bourdain was in Kuching recently to shoot an episode for the Travel and Food Show on CNN, “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown“. Can you imagine this? He and his crew’s first stop was to a family-run laksa stall at Choon Hui kopitiam. And guess what? They were back at the same stall the following morning for another round of the most addictive laksa in the world! Dressed casually in a black T-shirt and jeans, the New Yorker ate the simmering hot and spicy Sarawak Laksa, filmed for about two hours and paid the bill for everyone at the stall that morning.

    Now, THAT is testimony to the core! A satisfied Customer pays his bills, treats his friends and shares with the world his favourite Kuching dish! Hats off to you, Mr Bourdain! 

    D.I.Y the hard way

    The secret to an exquisite bowl of laksa is definitely in the paste.

    Malaysia is a land of laksa’s. Each State has her own laksa paste – sour, watery, fishy, shrimpy, thick, greasy, curry-flavoured … you name it, but Sarawak Laksa is known for its signature creamy texture, aromatically spicy, delectably tasty with its fiery crimson colour.

    Sarawak Laksa is not a soup but a meal on its own. Five years ago, I posted a detailed write up and recipe to assemble a home-style bowl of Sarawak Laksa on this post, here.

    Since my last trip to Kuching in 2008, and having run out of stock of the paste, I resorted to making my own Sarawak Laksa paste. It was hard work and long labour, but it was worth it!      

    Stonemanor’s Malaysian Laksa paste 

    My eyes twinkled when I chanced upon a jar of Waitrose Cooks’ Laksa paste (Malaysian inspired dish) at the British Store in Everberg not too long ago. I grabbed a jar for try-out. And by the way, it wasn’t cheap. 

    Here’s how I assembled a quick laksa for 4 people…   

    Ingredients

    • 185g Waitrose Cooks’ Laksa paste (Malaysian inspired dish)
    • 140 ml Coconut cream (100% coconut extract)
    • 250g rice vermicelli 
    • Prawns (5 – 6 pieces per person)
    • 500g chicken thighs/ cutlets (with bones)
    • 200g bean sprouts 
    • 4 “Vrije uitloop” or “plein air” or free-range eggs
    • Fresh coriander leaves
    • Garam masala paste
    • Fish sauce
    • Stock cube to taste 

      
    Infused broth-

    • Kaffir lime leaves
    • 2 stalks lemon grass, bruised
    • 5cm piece fresh ginger
    • A handful black peppercorn
    • Some coriander stalks 

     
    Method

    1. Cook the prawns in the infused broth
    2. Cook the chicken in the infused broth after the prawns are done.
    3. Cook the laksa paste and add the flavoured broth and the coconut cream. Add 2 Tbsp garam masala paste. Season with half chicken stock cube and some drizzles of fish sauce (Note: I added garam masala paste because the 185g jar of laksa paste was not concentrated enough for 4 -5 servings)
    4. Assemble a bowl with vermicelli, topped with slivers of chicken, crispy bean sprouts, plump prawns and strips of omelette and then ladle the spicy and unctuous broth 
    5. Garnish with fresh coriander and a lemon wedge (or if available, calamansi lime) with a side condiment of sambal belacan 

      
    WYSIWYG on a classic bowl of Sarawak Laksa, and of course the pièce de résistance has got to be that simmering hot, thick, spicy and creamy broth! Heaven! I’m in heaven! Or was I?  

      
      

      

    Verdict: It was a good bowl of Laksa, but not the real McCoy. 185g laksa paste for 4 people did not conjure a concentrated broth. Garam Masala paste plus other fresh herbs, spices and seasonings came to the rescue. On its own, the laksa would not pass the test. The colour was not right and it was quite sour with a bit too much tamarind paste.  It was a “Malaysian” laksa but I had transformed  it to what I know best to that one dish that transported me back to Bumi Kenyalang or the Land of the Hornbills!

    I could not get fresh coconut cream, hence, I resorted to buying a small can of 100% pure coconut cream (incidentally, a product of Malaysia) I found on the shelf of a local Belgian supermarket.  Therefore, I’m happy to link this post over at Little Thumbs Up with the June 2015 theme “CREAM” organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Mui Mui of my little favourite DIY and hosted by Diana of The Domestic Goddess Wannabe 

      

    As a saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” therefore, I have this to impart, “When in Kuching, do as what most Kuchingites would do. Have a bowl of Sarawak laksa for breakfast!” I’m not kidding here as the best laksa stalls in Kuching are opened as early as 7 am and closed by 10.30am. If you come by at noon, chances are you’d go home, feeling dis-satisfied and empty-handed. As there are so many different kinds of laksa’s in Malaysia, you can tell a Sarawak laksa apart from the rest as the must-have garnished ingredients are rice vermicelli, slivers of chicken, crisp bean sprouts, prawns, strips of omelette and sprinkles of fresh coriander with a condiment of sambal belacan and calamansi lime or lemon wedge. Anything else is NOT Sarawak laksa, ie NO tofu or sugar snap peas or cucumber or pineapple or lettuce, etc. Honestly speaking, I can have a bowl of Kuching laksa for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yes, it’s that good! For this, I’m linking this post to Simply Eggcellent #5 – how do you like your eggs in the morning? hosted by Dominic of Belleau Kitchen. I’m curious what he thinks of this entry with omelette in a bowl of simmering crimson hot and spicy laksa for breakfast ;-)

      

    Have a great week!

    Cheers from SUNNY Belgium!