When my last packet of laksa paste went in the pot, I was being extremely careful not to waste anything from it. I wringed 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 ran 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 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. Garnish with fresh coriander and a lemon wedge. 

  
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 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 

  

Have a great week!

Cheers from SUNNY Belgium!

If there was one special dish that I first ate in Belgium, cooked by my late MIL which I will never forget was one whole cooked cauliflower head served neatly on a large platter decorated with young carrots and green peas. The cauliflower was then drizzled with a home-made white and silky-looking sauce. It’s simply picasso on a plate! Alas that was 2 decades ago! 

My MIL passed away in 2006. She was an amazing cook and she baked flawless cakes and breads, too. I have kept some of her recipes, preserved by her daughters, my Sisters-in-law. Every so often, when my late MIL was still alive, she wanted to teach me to bake breads the traditional way, without a bread machine. I regretted not having the opportunity to learn the tricks of the traits. Sigh! Due to time, work and distance from our place to my MIL’s, there was absolutely no way for me to inherit any of her kitchen tricks. I managed to get by, by following very concised instructions from hand-written recipes passed down to me by her daughters. Both my SILs are good cooks but not as great as their late Mum.

Brainy Garden

When I was a little girl, I have always associated the colour of vegetables being green, mainly because I grew up in Kuching where Mum used to buy her greens a lot – mustard greens, chai sim (vegetable heart), napa cabbage, snow pea, kangkong (water convulvulus), kai-lan (Chinese broccoli/ kale), Shanghai bok choy, okra (ladies’ finger), kacang botol (4-angled beans), long beans, Sarawak jungle ferns (Midin), paku (fiddlehead) and spinach. Coloured veg were luxury products and were bullish where pricetags were concerned as they were all imported – from China, New Zealand or Australia – such as carrot, cauliflower, pumpkin, leek, celery, fennel, paprika, tomato (which is technically a fruit, I know…) and what have you… 

The only way I was used to eating cauliflower was in small florets stir-fried with broccoli , carrots, baby corn, sugar snap peas, shiitake and cloud ear fungus. I have never seen cooked cauliflower served whole until I came to Belgium!

To me, a cauliflower head looks like a brain. The white curd reminds me of the lobes of the cerebral cortex. LOL! Incidentally, my other half and 2 boys love cauliflower. Last Sunday was Father’s Day. It was the second time we celebrated Father’s Day this month! Why? Because in Belgium, Father’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in June while most countries celebrated their Father’s Day on the third Sunday, including Malaysia.

Lucky hubby! He had 2 special meals two Sundays in a row! Last Sunday, I made one of his favourite Sunday meal vegetables, I called Brainy Garden. He used to tell me that each time I made the cauliflower dish, it transported him back to his childhood:-)I’m quite certain my late MIL would give her sign of approval *wink*

To Boil or to Steam?

My late MIL used to boil the cauliflower head to perfection. I have never found the correct timing on when the cauliflower was done using the ‘boil’ method. My cauliflower always turned out too under (hard) or too over-done (mushy)! So out goes the boiling method. I found steaming the whole cauliflower a lot easier, my Goldilock’s test of doneness *wink  You need –

  • 1 cauliflower, steamed for 35- 40 minutes
  • 400g green peas – I used frozen – sautéed in garlic butter

Due to the blandness of the cauliflower, a nice sauce or gravy drizzled on the brainy head could immediately titillate ones palate. I had no clue how my late MIL made her white sauce, hence, I found one of the best white sauce recipes, aka as Béchamel sauce fom Delia Smith’s Cookbook, “Delia’s How To Cook – Book One“. I have two of Delia’s “How To Cook” Cookbooks.

White sauce is made from a roux (butter and flour) and milk. I like the fact that Delia flavoured the milk with parsley stalks, onion, mace, whole black peppercorns and bay leaf. The infused milk is then added bit by bit to the roux to form a smooth, glossy and creamy sauce. The trick to getting to that stage is in the vigorous stirring and whisking of the sauce with a wooden spoon first and then a balloon whisk and back to a wooden spoon.  Patience is key, too!  I did not have mace, hence, I seasoned the sauce with freshly grated nutmeg, freshly milled back peppercorns and fleur de sel. Due to copyright, I have not listed down the measurements, but all the ingredients are mentioned.

To keep the sauce warm, Delia recommended pouring the sauce in a warmed jug and cover the surface with a clingfilm to stop a skin from forming. I then placed the jug in a saucepan big enough to hold in the jug and filled the pan with kettle-boiled water. Oh by the way, I have made other variations of white sauces in the past, with grated parmesan or with a sprinkle of curry powder or chilli powder or Dijon mustard. Brilliant!

Instead of using frozen peas, canned peas and carrots make great substitute, too.

Like so…

  

In this recipe, I’ve used parsley stalks and bay leaves, therefore, I’m linking this post to Lavender & Lovage’s “Wild Garlic and Chives” May and June’s Linky Party for Cooking with Herbs.
    

I’m also linking this post to #CookBlogShare 17 hosted by Supergolden Bakes

  
 

It has been a while since my last link up to Joyce’s blog-hop cooking challenge, hence I’m linking this post over at Cook-Your-Books #24 @ kitchen flavours 

  

Have a great, warm weekend!
Cheers! 

 

 

 

 

“Funny when we‘re not there, they miss us. When we are there, they kinda close their eyes and pretend or think we are invisible.  When we are eventually there and as time goes by, we age quite rapidly. We actually black-out quite easily, too”.

Now, who or what are “we“, and please be specific, I asked my 2 boys.

A cat?

Nope! I wondered why a cat…

Light (bulb)?

Nope!

Fruit?

Erm…Nope!

Boys: Okay, we give up, Mum!

Mum: Well, it’s none other than those sweet yellow curvy thingy called Bananas, my boys… LOL!

Both my sons re-read the riddle that I invented and slowly nodded their heads with approval.

Boys: Yeah, you’re right Mum. No wonder you spared the lives of the bananas from being thrased and put them to good use for the umpteenth time! *LOL*

Mum: *Grin*

Banana Makeover!

I had 3 ripe bananas in my kitchen, dangling from the banana hanger, screaming out for a complete makeover! Actually, I had a few things in my mind with those bananas.

Initially, I was thinking of making banana fritters. It has been a long time since I had my last banana fritter in Kuching back in 2008!  After looking at all angles, I scrapped the idea of making banana fritters as they consumed too much cooking oil for frying and furthermore, I don’t own a fryolater.

Then I was thinking of baking a banana bread or cake. Nah! I’ve baked too many banana cakes already and have posted my downfalls and victories in these posts here, here,  here and here.

And then, I was toying with the idea of making banana chiffon cake. Not too long ago, a colleague brought his home-baked banana chiffon cake to work and shared a few wedges with me. Boy…I was bowled over! Simply scrummy, that I finally bought myself a chiffon cake pan! Did I bake a chiffon cake? Nah! Not now. That’ll come, for sure ;-)

By the way, since it was Father’s Day recently, I thought of making something small with some extra goodness, and here’s the result! These little gems required no electric stand mixer. Only my working hand, a fork, a rubber spatula and 2 bowls (one big and one medium-sized), plus of course the measuring cups and spoons and the ingredients!

I have adapted the recipe from JoyOfBaking.com, which I have posted here, by including a few of my own touches.

Instead of using granulated white sugar, I opted for 1 Cup of soft light brown sugar (Cassonade Graeffe) and 1/2 tsp baking soda iso 1/4 tsp. I added 1 Tbsp caramel sauce as brown sugars are less sweet than the white granulated ones. To make the muffins a bit more special, I added 3/4 Cup Country Crisp with crunchy Chunky Nuts (wholegrain cereals, oat and barley flakes, dessiccated coconut, flaked almonds, chopped nuts – Brazil, pecan and roasted hazelnuts) and 1/4 Cup chopped pistachios.

The method of making Quick Bread or Banana bread is such a breeze. Mix all the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl and mix all the dry ingredients in a bigger bowl. Add the wet to the dry and the chemistry begins! Fold very lightly until all white speckles of flour are no longer visible. Do not over stir unless you want hard rock muffins!   

Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper muffin cups and fill each muffin cup 3/4 full.  Bake in the pre-heated oven at 177 deg C for a perfect muffin texture at 23 minutes! Please check your type of oven. It can be anywhere between 20 – 25 deg C. My oven usually takes the middle-of-the-road path ;-)

Verdict: These muffins were a joy to bite into when still warm. They were really light and the sweet banana flavour with the warm hint of cinnamon and the goodness from the nuts and crisps came through perfectly. I must confess that the nuts were not crunchy any more but you’ll definitely know their presence as they gave a nice bite and texture to an otherwise mundane-looking muffin. My boys loved the muffins and it’s the surest way to enjoy “black-out” bananas! And by the way, the muffins tasted absolutely divine the day after. Perfect in my dessert box ;-)

These were simple muffins but made with love and packed with extra goodness. I’m quite certain they will make a nice treat over at Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen from Lavender & Lovage and co-hosted by Jane from The Hedgecombers with the June theme “Muffins, Fairy Cakes and Cupcakes

 

 
I’m also linking this post to Tasty Tuesdays hosted by HonestMum  

Before this week ends, I’m linking up to #Recipe of the Week 20-26 June hosted by A Mummy Too

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Cheers!

I was trying to clear my kitchen cupboard, stuffed with loads of this and that! Gosh, it was like un-veiling a treasure chest that has not been opened since time immemorial! 

Deep inside the cupboard somewhere were a few un-touched, un-opened packets of God knows what – cake flour, pizza flour, cornflakes…. hmmm… I’m feeling really embarrassed now *blushing*

Oh-oh… and more “skeletons” kept appearing…tortilla wraps, spring roll wraps and there… tucked in the corner, was a brand new, virgin packet of Betty Crocker’s Cinnamon Streusel – Muffin & Quick Bread Mix! I hadn’t the slightest inkling when I bought it. Definitely, not this year! The first thing I did was searching for the expiry date, labelled somewhere on Ms Crocker’s Muffin pre-mix. Okay, got it! 12th July 2015.

Phew!

BUT, who or what is Betty Crocker?

By the way, not many people know that Betty Crocker is an iconic, fictitious character, like Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot created by Agatha Christie or James Bond, created by Ian Fleming.

Betty Crocker is actually a trademark and brand name of the American multinational manufacturer and marketer of branded consumer foods, General Mills, Inc. According to sources, the name “Betty” was selected because it was viewed as a cheery, friendly-sounding, all-American name. Betty’s surname, Crocker, was chosen in honour of the popular director, William Crocker of Washburn Crosby Company, the largest predecessor of General Mills.

And what the heck is “Streusel“?

The word, “streusel” is German meaning, “something scattered or sprinkled”. It is similar to the English verb “strew”, however, in the world of baking and pastry, streusel is just another glamourous word for the crumbly topping on breads, muffins, pies and cakes. The ingredients used in making the crumble topping or “streusel” are flour, butter and sugar, identical to the crumbly toppings of a basic Apple crumble pie!

The Science of Baking

With a net weight of 394g, Betty Crocker’s Cinnamon Streusel – Muffin & Quick Bread Mix comes with one packet of pre-mix flour base and another smaller packet of the crumbly topping mix or streusel. Baking is science. It’s all in the chemistry. Baking, unlike cooking, requires carefully balanced formulas. Tweakings are out of the question! The 2 dry ingredients I got out from the box of BC’s pre-mix will never ever make muffins or a quick bread on their own in a million, zillion or trillion years! Why? Because the extra leavening (eggs), moistening (water) and tenderizing (fats) ingredients were NOT included! And finally, with the missing chemistry of heat and water, the physical reactions would never take place.

What were needed were the following 

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil (I used corn oil)

I added a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon powder and I didn’t regret that a bit (NOTE: This was not on the instruction box)

Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg C for 10 minutes without the muffins and then lower to 180 deg C when the baking starts (NOTE: This was not on Betty Crocker’s instruction box. This was my own because from experience, my ancient oven would have burnt the muffins if I left the oven on at 200 deg C throughout the baking process)

Add all the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine until all the ingredients are blended together into a smooth batter. Scoop one tablespoonful of the batter into each of the 12-hole muffin pan, then sprinkle the streusel or sweet crumbly topping on each muffin.

Alas! I sprinkled too much on the first few muffins and ended up with 3 ‘naked’ muffins. What I did was sprinkle some cinnamon powder on the last 3 muffins!

With all 12 muffins feeling happy and dressed up, they were ready to go in the oven for 18 minutes.

Et voilà! 

I was surprised by the feather-like texture of the muffins, be they fresh out of the oven or kept overnight. Of course the muffins did not last for more than 24 hours!

They were scrumptious with a cup of tea or coffee. Perfect for high tea, breakfast and for picnics.
       

I’m sharing these muffins over at Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen from Lavender & Lovage and co-hosted by Jane from  The Hedgecombers with the June theme “Muffins, Fairy Cakes and Cupcakes

  
I’m also linking this post to #CookBlogShare17 hosted by Lucy of  Supergolden Bakes

 

Without fresh eggs and the other extra wet ingredients, these BC’s muffins would never have transformed into what they were supposed to be… Yes, muffins and feather-light, too! And without much ado, I’m linking this post up to Belleau Kitchen’s Simply Eggcellent #4 with the June’s theme, “Anything Goes“.

 

 

I’m also linking up to Tasty Tuesdays hosted by HonestMum

 
Happy Saturday!

Blessed Sunday!
Cheers! 

 I named these egg muffins, “Margherita” following the legend of the famous Pizza Margherita. If you don’t already know, the pizza was so named after Princess Margherita of Savoy, the Queen consort of the Kingdom of Italy during the reign of her first cousin and husband, King Umberto I (1878 – 1900). Legend has it that out of the three pizzas created by “modern” pizza-maker Raffaele Esposito and his wife of the then Pizzeria di Pietro e Basta Cosi in the Nineteenth Century in Naples, the Queen’s favourite pizza resembled the colours of the Italian flag – green (fresh basil), white (mozzarella) and red (tomato). According to Wikepedia, Esposito’s restaurant still exists, although the name has been changed to Pizzeria Brandi.

Oh, you Poor Posh…!

Now that we know the legend of Pizza “Queen” Margherita, which may sound rather posh, however, the ingredients used are nothing near to royalty. First of all, pizzas are oven-baked flatbreads without any toppings, were a staple of the peasants. That’s right… they were known as the dish for the poor people once-upon-a-time! And by the way, the three main ingredients topped on a pizza Margherita are commonly found in Italy and almost everywhere in Europe.

Holy Trinity               Without a doubt, a posthumous credit is due to Raffaele Esposito for creating the most amazing ‘holy trinity’ in both colours and flavours of Italy on the plate and on the palate. So simple ingredients and yet so exquisite in taste.      

Here’s my version of the not-so-posh “Margherita” egg muffin. The real Queen did not taste it but the kitchen “Queen” in Belgium made 9 muffins in 30 minutes flat (including prepping and baking). I’m quite certain the real Queen would have given her royal thumb UP if only she had tasted these delectable savoury little spongy discs :-)

The Sky’s the Limit

What I LURVE about this recipe is that you can go crazy with your ingredients – a little or more of this or that. It’s insanely endless! The sky’s the limit! 

For this post, I used fresh basil, fresh cherry tomatoes, grated old Italian cheese (or Parmesan cheese), light cream (20% less fat for daily use from Campina), a pinch of fleur de sel, freshly milled black pepper and of course EGGS!!!

Note I did not measure my ingredients. I guesstimated and eyeballed, which portrayed the real me where savoury cooking is concerned;-)

For 8 large eggs, I ended up filling 9 cavities in a 12-hole muffin pan.  

While most people would mix the dry ingredients and herbs in the beaten eggs together and then pour the batter in the muffin pan, I prefer to assemble the dry ingredients separately into each hole of the muffin pan first and then pouring the lightly seasoned wet ingredients (beaten eggs and cream) last which ensures equal proportion and distribution of the ingredients per muffin. But of course you can do however you like. Your kitchen! Your call!

Bake the little Margherita’s in the pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 18 minutes.  Please check your oven. 18 minutes may be too over or under for your type of oven but it’s Goldilocks test of “just right” consistency for 9 muffins in my ancient oven :-)  
  What more can I say? 

Bellissima!

Notes: These muffins were great eaten warm as well as cold. I refrigerated 2 pieces and packed them in my lunchbox for work the following day and continued placing my lunchbox in the fridge at my office’s kitchenette until lunch time. Absolutely perfect! 

If you prefer to munch on warm egg muffins, just microwave them for about 30 seconds covered with absorbent paper. The muffins will remain soft as if they were freshly baked.

Enjoy!

Although I did not use chives in this recipe, I’ve used one of my favourite herbs, basil, therefore, I’m linking this post over at Lavender & Lovage’s “Wild Garlic and Chives ” May and June’s Linky Party for Cooking with Herbs.

   

This post is also  linked to 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.

  

I’m also linking this post to #CookBlogShare16 hosted by Lucy of Supergolden Bakes

An egg muffin may not be the typical muffin we are used to, but muffins can be either sweet or savoury. These muffins will make a nice treat over at Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen from Lavender & Lovage and co-hosted by Jane from The Hedgecombers with the June theme “Muffins, Fairy Cakes and Cupcakes

 

I’m also linking this somewhat eggy post over at Belleau Kitchen’s Simply Eggcellent #4. The June’s theme is “Anything Goes”… and how appropriate, me think…*wink*

 

And last but not least, I’m sharing this post over at Tasty Tuedays Live hosted by HonestMum 

  
Have a great Weekend and enjoy what’s left of the weekend…
Cheers!

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The word Gawai in Iban means festival. The Dayaks are the indigenous native people of Sarawak and Kalimantan.

The Dayaks in Sarawak are made up of 3 groups of native ethnics, Iban (formerly known as Sea Dayak), Bidayuh (known as Land Dayak) and the Orang Ulu (literally translated as rural dwellers/ people), comprising Kelabit, Kayan, Kenyah, Lun Bawang, Penan, Bisaya etc.

Interestingly, Melanau does not fall under the category of “Dayak” although the Melanau are considered to be among the earliest settlers in Sarawak. Originally, the Melanau call themselves a-likou meaning “people of the river” or sea-faring people. Legend has it that the name Melanau was given by the Malays of Brunei to the inhabitants of the coastal swamp flats and riverbanks of central Sarawak which signifies “coast-dweller”.  

1st June – Ritual Greeting Day

When I was in school, my friends used to send me the ubiquitous greeting of “Selamat Hari Gawai” every 1st of June. I thanked them for their wishes and greeting but was very curious why we (my family) never celebrated Gawai Dayak. One day I asked my late Dad the question. He said Melanaus do not celebrate Gawai but Kaul Festival. Unfortunately, the Kaul Festival is not widely known by non- Melanaus as it is not celebrated on the state level but more so locally only in Mukah on the right bank of the river estuary. The festival is celebrated in the third week of the month of April.

Demographically, Ibans form the majority of the population of Sarawak with 29%, followed by Chinese with 24% and Malays with 23%. The rest are made up of Bidayuh, Melanau, Orang Ulu and others.

With Iban being the most populous native ethnic group of Dayak people in Sarawak, the Gawai greeting is recited in the Iban language. 


Selamat Ari Gawai Dayak. Gayu Guru Gerai Nyama
i which means Happy Dayak Festival. May you have long life, good health and prosperity.

Oh by the way, the Gawai festival is a symbol of unity, hope and aspiration for the Dayak community. It is a day of Thanksgiving which marks the end of a bountiful harvest and ushering the new year with a new farming season of bountiful goodness.

Shopping malls in Kuching are beautifully decorated to symbolise the meaning of Gawai Dayak. Here’re photos  taken by my older brother. Thanks bro G!   
 

Simple Food of the Jungle

Honestly speaking, the local dishes are very pure, simple and straightforward. One of my favourites is this simple dish, the Sarawak jungle fern aka Midin. I will never be able to cook this dish in Belgium, for obvious reason due to non-availability of that special flora.

  
During my student days, I learnt to cook rice and chicken in logs or cylindrical tubes of bamboo from my Iban college-mates. I am glad this traditional cooking method is retained to this day!

Manok Pansoh meaning Chicken cooked in Bamboo  
Very simple ingredients are used in “Pansoh” cooking method. The typical ingredients in “Manok Pansoh” are Chicken, water, shallots, lemongrass, ginger (optional) and salt. Tapioca leaves are used to seal the top cavity of the bamboo and are then cooked over an open fire. 

In veneration of the simplicity of the cooking method and the ingredients used by the local people of Sarawak, I cooked a very simple dish today in the comfort of my own kitchen. No bamboo. No open fire. Just reliving good memories and sharing them with you.

Simple Warm Barley Salad   

Ingredients

  • 250g barley
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • One bunch of fresh dhill
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly milled black pepper 

Method

Cook the barley in stock water for 10 minutes. Add finely diced carrots and fresh dhill. Season with coarse sea salt and black pepper. And that’s it! 

To all my friends and relatives  celebrating the Gawai Dayak, “Selamat Ari Gawai Dayak. Gayu Guru Gerai Nyamai, Chelap Lindap Lantang Senang Nguan Menua!” Or Happy Gawai Dayak Day. (Wishing you) long life, health and comfort, no problems, no hardship and a prosperous life! 

 

1st and 2nd June are Public Holidays in Sarawak. Enjoy the “ngabang” … But watch your limit on the “tuak“!😜
Cheers!

How I wish Saturday has more than 24 hours!

With a full 5 workday-week, Saturday is considered my least demanding day of the week. It’s the ONLY day of the week when I could dilly-dally a wee bit more and do some shopping, as shops are closed on a Sunday whilst Monday through Friday are just out of the question *sigh*

With Saturday being my no-pressure day, I often opt to prepare hassle-free meals. Nope, no instant meals BUT meals cooked from scratch with fresh and/or frozen-fresh ingredients!

Oh, by the way, here’s one I made last Saturday. It was deliriously yummy!
  
Shining Bright like a Parcel …

En papillote. That’s French meaning “in parchment”. This is one of my favourite methods of cooking a QUICK meal – simple, fast and fresh! As you can tell, I’m so venturing into shortcuts and time-saving beelines. LOL!

A parchment paper is typically used for this method of cooking. Other alternatives are using aluminium foil or paper bag. Since I ran out of parchment paper, I resorted to using aluminium foil. Yup, the bright and shiny roll of ‘”metallic paper” :-)

Here’s how I made my Bright and Shiny Parcel in less than 1 hour, from prepping to serving. This is one of my favourite executions. So easy that I’m almost ashamed to have this post published *blush*

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

  • 4 pieces frozen salmon (thawing not necessary)
  • 1 big red onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 cm root ginger, sliced thinly
  • 4 stalks spring onions, washed and cut in 4 cm length
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, julienned
  • 2 stalks lemon grass, cut on the bias and not too thin
  • Chives

Seasoning ingredients

  • Shaoxing wine, or any type of white wine (if not using, use water)
  • Sesame oil
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Freshly milled black pepper
  • A pinch of fish stock cube

Garnishing

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Direction

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 deg C
  2. Cut 4 big sheets of heavy-duty aluminium foil and then another 2 sheets. Cut the 2 sheets in half and place each half on the centre of each big sheet of foil
  3. On each foil, assemble the bottom layer with onion, ginger, spring onion, carrot and lemon grass, leaving some for the top layer towards the end. Sprinkle some salt and pepper
  4. Place the salmon on the bed of herbs and continue laying the top layer with the leftover onion, ginger, spring onion, carrot and lemon grass. Finally top it off with some chives , freshly milled black pepper and a pinch of fish stock cube
  5. Start folding the aluminium foil the way you feel would secure the fish in while baking the parcel in the oven. Before the foil is completely sealed, add some liquid, ie wine or water and drizzles of sesame oil
  6. Bake for 32 to 38 minutes (Note: timing depends very much on the type of oven you own)
  7. Done!

   
    

I know, I know… Don’t use aluminium foil to store foods that are high in acids! That’s the reason why I included the lemon wedge and cherry tomatoes right after the salmon’s done and out of the oven and right before serving ;-)

Yums!

   
  

Useful notes:  

  1. It is best to consume the baked salmon the day it is served in the foil – fresh! If kept too long in the foil (eg refrigerated for a few days), small amounts of aluminium may migrate into the food, creating a metallic taste in the food. They are said to be not harmful, but are certainly not appetizing. I never have this problem (touch wood), because I tend to prepare the right amount of parcels for each serving. They never last after one sitting :-D
  2. I used frozen salmon which took a longer baking time. If fresh salmon is used, the baking time is definitely not 32 – 38 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a metal skewer or fork into the salmon. It is done as it begins to flake. Always check for doneness at the minimum baking time.

As Chives were one of the ingredients used in this simple yet delectable dish, I’m joining in the May’s Linky Party for Cooking with Herbs over at Lavender & Lovage’s Wild Garlic and Chives” theme.

I’m also linking this post to #CookBlogShare 15 which is guest-hosted by Angela from Patisserie Makes Perfect this fortnight on behalf of Lucy from Supergolden Bakes.

  
And also to Tasty Tuesdays Live hosted by HonestMum

  
Life is too short to waste too much time on one big thing, when you can do wonders with many little things!

Carpe Diem!

Happy mid-week!

Cheers!