Posts Tagged ‘sarawak’

There is a saying, “You can take a Sarawakian out of Sarawak, but you can’t take Sarawak out of a Sarawakian“. It’s a quaint way of saying that you are bound to remember your roots wherever you are 🙂

This is so true in my case, where food is concerned, of course. I’m sure many people fall in the same boat as I do *wink*  

Moving to Belgium some two decades ago, revisiting and reminiscing childhood memories in any shapes and forms become a norm. The dish that I often re-visit time and time again is none other than the murky-looking green dish called Ka Chang Ma (KCM) where chicken meat is the main protein ingredient in the recipe. This dish is undisputably renowed (only) in Sarawak, especially in Kuching. It’s not everyone’s favourite dish, to be honest, because the dish has been stigmatised as a food for women in confinement. This conservative rationale no longer holds true today. KCM is cooked all year round.

Thermomix Cooking Defined

3 years ago, I posted a rather comprehensive write-up of this unique dish, with a story to tell. You can read it all here: Ka Chang Ma (The Mother of all Dishes)

While it was prepared the conventional way (with Mum’s recipe et al) then, I converted the recipe in the Thermomix jargon. Now, I have both methods on my blog which I can refer to anytime  🙂

  

KCM cooked the Conventional way (day light)

 

KCM cooked in TM5 (night light)

  

Cooking in either way had no influence on the taste (the end result), however, the cooking processes were obviously different. 

In a nutshell (metaphorically speaking): You want to go to Restaurant X. You have a choice of either taking the car which takes 5 mins OR on foot, which takes 15 mins. By either taking the car or going on foot, you will reach the same ultimate destination. The differences are the mode of transportation and the duration it takes from origin to destination. In this example the car was the Thermomix  way of cooking, whilst going on foot was the conventional  or traditional way of cooking. Got it?

Or simply, the Thermomix is just another collection of kitchen gadget in addition to a Slow Cooker, a Multi Cooker, a Pressure Cooker, etc that you might already have, only that it replaces at least 10 kitchen appliances: blender, grater, chopper, steamer, (slow)cooker, rice cooker, mixer, soup maker, dough kneading machine to name but a few.

Any conventional recipe can be converted to the TM method. There’s no secret. There’s no trick.  All you need to do is to decipher the logic.

  

How I cooked the KCM in my TM5

Ingredient A –

  • 10 g loose leaf KCM (Motherwort) dried herb 

Ingredients B –

  • 20 g sesame oil
  • 695 g chicken drumsticks 

Ingredients C –

  • 10 g ground KCM dried herb
  • 10 g ground ginger
  • 50 g whiskey 
  • 200 g water

Ingredients D –

  • 20 g whiskey 
  • 300 g water
  • 1/2 cube vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp ground ginger 
  • 5 g sesame oil

   
 How to prepare?

  1. Toast the loose leaf KCM in the TM bowl for 10 mins/ V/ sp1
  2. Grind the toasted herb when the temperature drops below 60 deg C. Mill for 1 min/ sp6 -> 10
  3. Tip ground KCM in a clean bowl. Set aside.
  4. Add B in TM bowl. Cook for 5 mins/ V/ R/ spoon.
  5. Add C and cook further for 22 mins/ V/ R/ spoon
  6. Adjust seasoning by adding D. Cook for a further 5 mins/ V/ R/ spoon
  7. Done!

 

Verdict : KCM is undeniably one of my favourite comfort foods. With its myriad of nutritional benefits, I could have this dish anytime I want, but like many things, there is always a limit. Moderation is key.  By the way, I have cooked several different dishes with or without using the Thermomix. There are some dishes that worked better the conventional way. For KCM, if given the choice, I would cook the dish in my TM5. Why? Because the cooking is 100% done in the Thermomix, from dry-roasting the herbs to grinding the herbs to braising the chicken. Et voilà, dinner’s served! Simply effortless.

The KCM Chicken dish (or braised Motherwort Chicken dish) is a local dish of Sarawak. For this I’m linking this post to April Tea Time Treats: Local & Regional Recipes hosted by Lavender and Lovage and The Hedgecombers

  
Ka Chang Ma is Motherwort, an herbaceous plant of the mint family. This recipe uses only the dried herb. I’m linking this post to Lavender and Lovage’s Cooking with Herbs for Easter and Spring

  

Have a great week!

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!

I’m sorry, no, if you are thinking this post is related to a Slavic folk dance. Sorry to disappoint you. I wish it was, but right now, I’m feeling pretty nostalgic. I have not been back to Kuching since 2008! 7 years is a long time. The “itch” has begun 😉

Kolo may be a Serbo-Croat word, meaning “wheel” or a Slavic dance performed in a circle, but the ‘kolo’ I grew up knowing is none other than the springy, curly, yellow noodles “dancing and bouncing” in my bowl, garnished with crushed crispy fried garlic and shallot, tasty minced pork, slices of sweet and succulent char siu (BBQ’d pork), with sprinkle of chopped spring onions. And by the way, the secret to the delectable taste and flavour of the kolo mee as the Kuchingites called it, lies in the use of rendered lard (or drippings of bacon)

Here’s a classic bowl of Kuching’s kolo mee. Very simple ingredients used, and proverbially phrased as “less is more“.

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Some hawker stalls would include chai sim, literally translated as “vegetable heart” or Chinese Flowering Cabbage. I remembered paying only 50 cents for a good quantity of kolo mee at the stall near my parents’ house many years ago. It was probably an illegally constructed stall built within the compound of the owner’s house. Illegal or not, my siblings and I were always looking forward to the opening hour of the stall in the evening. It was not an eat-in stall, but a take-away one. What the kolo mee seller did in those days was assembling the kolo mee on a newspaper lined with a clean plastic film like so.

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Obviously, I did not take this picture. Courtesy of MalaysiaFlavors.com and thanks!

When we brought home the paper-wrapped kolo mee, we never transferred the noodles on a plate or bowl. We ate the noodles as they were originally served, i.e. out of the paper with a pair of chopsticks! Absolutely no hassle of cleaning and washing up. That’s the beauty of simple living 😉

When the Craving gets Tough …

Kolo mee is synonymous to Sarawak, particularly, Kuching. Even the chewy-springy-curly noodles are found only in Sarawak. It is not the same as wantan mee, where the colour is darker, drenched in dark soy sauce, when cooked.

However, the wonton noodles are easier to buy overseas. The noodles are quite similar but not curly and bouncy as kolo mee. When the craving gets tough, the tough gets going….

I was glad I could get hold of these wonton noodles in Belgium.

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For best result, kolo mee is always prepared per bowl per person and served immediately. Production time  of homemade kolo mee may be a wee bit longer as I lacked the proper utensils.

I skipped using lard and found an excellent substitute. Crispy fried shallots in oil! And it’s healthier😜

IMG_0545

Before assembling the bowl of kolo mee, you need to either make your own char siu or store bought. I homemade my char siu. I will blog about this in another post, but here’s the end result.  I daresay it was YUMS!

IMG_0537

The next item that needs prior preparation is the minced meat. White meat is preferred, for example pork, chicken or turkey. I used a mixture of pork and calf minces, marinated in light and dark soy sauces, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, freshly milled white pepper and some cornflour to bind the meat and seasonings together. Marinate for at least one hour and then cook the minced meat.  Set aside.

The Execution

Here’s how I executed my bowl of kolo noodle. I have chosen to use the word “noodle” here, because it is a generic term and it is not confined only to “mee” but also bee hoon, tang hoon, kway teow, etc.

Recently, I made kolo kway teow. It was a big hit with my 3 guys. It was not the first time I made kolo noodles, but it was the first time I used kway teow (flat rice noodle) in this recipe.

IMG_0551

After blanching/ cooking the flat rice noodle according to instruction, set that aside.

In a big pot, boil some water. While the water is boiling away, cook the prawns (washed and deveined. You may want to leave the tail end intact. I opted to remove the entire prawn shell).  Set the prawns aside.

Next in the pipeline is the colour ‘green’.  Although spring onions or chai sim are most popularly used, I chose to use Shanghai Bok Choy, which is easier to find than chai sim. Wash, clean and cut in desired length and size.  Set aside.

Finally, the chillies. I made pickled red chillies. Simply, fresh red chillies in white vinegar. Set aside.

At this stage, I felt ecstatic! I went through the checklist and ticked my “list” visually.

Blanched kway teow ✅

Homemade char siu

Cooked minced meat ✅

Homemade crispy shallots in oil ✅

Cooked prawns ✅

Washed, cleaned and cut Shanghai Bok Choy ✅

Boiling water ✅

Pickled red chillies ✅

Oh yes, forgot one thing. Cold water.

Ooh…. I was getting excited!  *big grin*

Don’t forget to reach out for these bottles from your larder – White vinegar, fish sauce, Sarawak white pepper, light soy sauce, sesame oil (optional), cooking wine (optional). These liquid items complement the whole dish.

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Now the “le moment suprême” (the moment of truth)

Reach for a working bowl and add a tablespoon of crispy shallots in oil and a teaspoon each of vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, a dash of white pepper and a pinch of chicken bouillon. You may or may not want to add sesame oil and rice wine, which may be too overpowering and makes the noodle tastes less authentic. My other half prefers the smoky flavours from the sesame oil and rice wine. As I have said, they are optional ingredients and are simply there as personal preference.

Next, get a big wire strainer ready. Scoop a portion of kway teow into the strainer. Dip the strainer in the boiling water until the kway teow softens, definitely not too long. We don’t want mushy and lumpy flat rice noodles.

Immediately transfer the hot kway teow to the cold water in just seconds and then back to the boiling water. Then immediately transfer the noodle to the working bowl and mix well to coat the kway teow with the seasoning liquid. Transfer the noodle portion to a nice serving bowl or plate.

Meanwhile, warm the prawns and baby Bok Choy in the hot water in a matter of seconds. Drain and garnish the bowl of kway teow with a few slices of char siu, prawns, minced meat and  baby Bok Choy, topped with some crispy shallots.  Serve immediately with pickled chillies and a bowl of clear broth, sprinkled with chopped spring onions.  Ridiculously hard work, but I’m a tough nut to crack! LOL!

Here you go … the visual steps.
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This is my version of the famous Kuching Kolo Mee/ Kway Teow made in Belgium😄
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Heaven! I’m in heaven!😋

And here were the ones made using wantan mee. Equally delicious, simply because they’re homemade.

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I’m definitely linking this post to Little Thumbs Up, organised by Doreen of my little favourite DIY and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids. The January 2015 LTU theme is “Noodles and Pasta” hosted by Anne from My Bare Cupboard

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Happy trying!

Well I’ve tried and I’ve done it and I’m totally satisfied.

Will I make this again? You bet!

Have a fantastic weekend!

Cheers!

While most of the dishes of Singapore are very similar to Malaysia’s, there is perhaps one dish that stands out amongst the others. Singapore’s version of the Hainanese Chicken Rice is the most known to many foreigners.   While this platter has become the iconic and National dish of Singapore, little Kuching town has transformed Singapore Chicken Rice as one of the signature dishes of Sarawak! Almost a neck and neck race with the most beloved and irresistible Sarawak Laksa !

Here’s my version of the “Singapore” Chicken Rice I made recently.

1. SCR_homemade chix rice

Sunday’s best choice

Sunday has always been a day of rest for my family in Kuching. Mum tries not to cook on Sundays. After the Sunday morning service, we would sample our favourite local dishes at the food court or open air markets or malls.  One of our favourite eateries in the late 80’s and 90’s was the Singapore Chicken Rice restaurant, then located at Jalan Song Thian Cheok.  We loved going there for two reasons: the tasty chicken rice dish and the air-conditioner 😀

Other days, we would order takeaway meals of the Singapore Chicken Rice. Honestly, speaking, I could not recollect dropping the word “Singapore” from SINGAPORE Chicken Rice. I could not remember saying Hainanese Chicken Rice at all.

Ask another Kuchingite. They will vouch my point.  The funny thing was the Singapore Chicken Rice Restaurant was not known in Singapore at all.  Then I learnt that the founder of the Singapore Chicken Rice were local Kuching guys, who probably had connections with Singapore?  From a teeny weeny restaurant located at Jalan Song Thian Cheok in Kuching, THE Singapore Chicken Rice became a chain of household name with restaurant outlets throughout Sarawak and the rest of the world. 

You can read their inspiring story here and how they ended up today: http://www.scr.my/

A Homemade Version

If you have been away from home for so many years – like me – it is only logical that you would crave for something you have not had in years.

By the way, my homemade version is not called Singapore Chicken Rice, but simply, Chicken Rice, an ode to the technique used by the Hainanese in poaching the chicken, with tinges of South East Asian flavours.

My recipe is adapated from the “Traditional Malaysian Cuisine:  A Rich Selection in Culinary Heritage” with some modifications – highlighted in blue – in the ingredients used and method, according to my personal taste.

2. SCR_Malaysian Traditional Cuisine

Ingredients –

  • 1 chicken (I used 8 chicken legs)
  • 450 g rice ( I used 6 rice cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped (I used quite a lot of garlic – 2 bulbs!)
  • Crushed Ginger (this was not in the recipe)
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 cube chicken stock (according to taste)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil (according to quantity of the chicken meat and taste)
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce (according to quantity of the chicken meat and taste)

3a. SCR_ingredients3b. SCR_chicken

For the broth (not in the recipe – My version) –

  • 1 onion, pricked with 2 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 big slices of ginger cut on the bias
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • Fresh coriander roots (a personal favourite)
  • 2 sprigs spring onions, halved
  • 1 whole lemon grass, bruised
  • Kaffir lime leaves, torn

 For the Dipping Sauce –

  •  10 chillies
  • 6 cm piece ginger – chopped or minced finely
  • 1 Tbsp tomato sauce (Yes, that’s right!!)
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic (I used quite a lot)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
Homemade chilli sauce. Mmmmmm....YUMMY!

Homemade chilli sauce. Mmmmmm….YUMMY!

Method –

  1. Boil enough water to cover the whole chicken in a large pan. Put in the chicken, lower the heat and cook the chicken covered for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the chicken in the water for 40 minutes.

5a. SCR_ chix covered 10 mins5b. SCR_chix left 40 mins

  1. Remove the chicken and put it in cold water for 15 minutes.

6. SCR_chix in cold water 15 mins

  1. Hang the chicken to dry and brush it with sesame oil mixed with soy sauce ( I placed my chicken legs upright in a colander)

7. SCR_chix hang dry brushed sesame oil + soy sauce

  1. If you’re using the whole chicken, cut off the chicken legs, wing tips and neck put them back in the water to boil and add chicken stock cube to flavor the broth (As I did not use a whole chicken, I flavoured the chicken broth with the herbs and spices. At this stage, I reserved enough stock for the rice and the chilli sauce)
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil and fry the chopped garlic until fragrant and lightly browned.
  3. Add the rice, stir-fry for one minute and add the reserved chicken stock (preferably cooled on beforehand).
  4. Transfer the rice to the rice cooker and add crushed ginger, sesame oil and stock cube or salt to taste.
  5. While the rice is cooking, start to make the chilli sauce.  Blend or pound the chillies, garlic and ginger finely.
  6. Heat 1 Tbsp oil and fry the pounded ingredients until fragrant. Add salt, sugar, tomato sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and 4 Tbsp stock broth. Season well.
  7. Just before serving, I warmed up the chicken legs in the broth, removed them and brush some sesame oil and soy sauce mixture.  I left the chicken leg whole when serving with the fragrant chicken rice, chilli sauce and a bowl of piping hot chicken broth

8a. SCR_complete platter

My version of homemade " Singapore"  Chicken Rice, made in Belgium :-D .  Gorgeous! Delish!

My version of homemade ” Singapore” Chicken Rice, made in Belgium 😀 . Gorgeous! Delish!

Oh by the way, I am submitting this post to the Little Thumbs up event for the month of July with the chosen ingredient “GINGER” hosted by Alvin from Chef and Sommelier, organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids

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As well as to –

Cook-Your-Books #2 organised by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours.

 

Cook Your Books

 

And not forgetting to the September 2013 Cooking With Herbs Blog Challenge hosted by Lavender and Lovage 😀

Cooking-with-Herbs-300x252

 

Have a great sunny weekend!

Cheers!

A strange sounding name, but believe you me, it is one dish you would either loathe or love. Being a Sarawakian, I can only concur.

Here’s my version of the ‘mysterious’ Ka Chang Ma, which became an instant hit with my Belgian hubby and Belsian boys 😀

1. KCM_Ka Chang Ma

It could pass for a dish for Shrek or the Incredible Hulk, with its murky green colour. LOL!

Ridiculously repugnant looking but, trust me, it’s more than edible. It’s delightfully unique, exclusive and extraordinary.  Where else can you get this dish, but only in Sarawak (correct me if I’m wrong). What’s required is an acquired taste, that’s all.

The Florence Nightingale of all herbs and in search of Ka Chang Ma

Have you ever wondered why there’s a “Ma” in Ka Chang Ma?  This has not been discussed before.  I have searched the net and mapped the “Ma” to “Mother” as in Motherwort which is the English translation.  Motherwort is an herbaceous plant of the mint family; however, some herbalists claimed the plant comes from the lavender family. I’m not an expert in this field but nevertheless, admire the hard work these experts have done to document their works. Most herbalists claimed that Motherwort is not an aromatic herb, but a bitter tasting mint. Could this be the main reason for the displeasing taste to the most refined palate? “Ka Chang” and notKacang” for heaven’s sake!  Kacang is the Malay or Indonesian word for nut and there are absolutely no nuts in this herb or recipe.

As far as I know this is a Chinese recipe from either the Hakka origin (notable for their use of bitter herbs and vegetables) or the Teochew origin (notable for their variety of braised dishes and the use of cooking wine).  I stand open for discussion here, by the way 😀

By splitting the words “Ka Chang”, which is probably Hokkien, then Ka means ‘grate’ or ‘mince’ and Chang means ‘ stalk’ or ‘root’  or ‘bark of a tree’.  By collocating the words, Ka Chang Ma, this literally means in English “grated bark/stalk/root (of a) mother”.  This definition befits Motherwort to a tee.  Wort is the Germanic word ‘Wurzel” in German or “wortel” in Dutch, which means root. Wort is also an Old English word, meaning “to heal”. There you go!

As any mother in the world would do, she cares for the well-being of her child. There’s no wonder why I read with awe the multitude of motherly goodness this miracle herb could do.

“ Motherwort is used for heart symptoms…heart failure…irregular heartbeat…anxiety…menstrual periods…over-active thyroid…flatulence…improve eyesight…shingles…itching…stimulates uterine tone and blood flow…herb of longevity…helps tears flow…ensure deeper sleep…a favourite ally of menopausal women…relieves pains…..”

The list is endless.  I called this, the Florence Nightingale of all herbs!

I bet after reading this, everyone will be stockpiling this miracle herb 😉

By the way, the scientific name of Motherwort is Leonurus_cardiaca – literally translated from Greek to English: Lion tail heart. According to Susun Weed on her article about Motherwort, the plant was thought to resemble the tail of a lion, while Motherwort is primarily an herb of the heart.

Dish in Confinement – a Midwife’s favourite

Ka Chang Ma is THE dish to consume by Sarawakian (usually Chinese origin) women in confinement – after childbirth and during her recovery, usually for a period of one month.

I remembered associating this dish to – dark room – newborn baby – a woman in sarong – the smell of baby powder and milk.  My eldest sister went through this phase and was confined for one month, stuffed with this glorious smelling Ka Chang Ma, prepared by none other than Mummy dearest 😉

My brother-in-law could only gawk (sorry for the choice of word, Ah Hia) at the plate of Ka Chang Ma. “How can you eat this thing for 30 days?” 

My BIL is West Malaysian, and Ka Chang Ma was simply non-existent or unheard of there in the late 80’s.  I am sure with cross-border thinking and interracial marriages over the recent years and decades between the East and West, the world has become smaller.  I would probably see Ka Chang Ma served at a food court in Batu Pahat, as much as Otak-otak is served at hawker stalls in Kuching.

By the way, I have never seen fresh Motherwort plant in my life. I googled for this plant and amazingly, herbalists documented that they are found worldwide. Erm…now, I’m curious to get hold of the fresh ones and start planting them in my garden 😀

The ones we get in Sarawak are sold dried; the way tea leaves are processed and oxidized. 

2. KCM_dried Ka Chang Ma

There are various ways of preparing Ka Chang Ma, where chicken meat is the main protein ingredient in the dish. The Ka Chang Ma recipe in this post is exclusively taken from my Mum’s kitchen by memory.  There are no measurements in this recipe but prepared with lots of love and joy accompanied by the 5 senses – sight, taste, smell, hearing and touch

You will need the following –

Chicken meat (I used Chicken legs, washed and removed the skin and cut the legs into thighs and drumsticks) Note: By all means, use chicken filet or chicken breasts, but I prefer chicken legs as they are tastier and more succulent.

3. KCM_Chix_washed, skinned

Ka Chang Ma (Motherwort herb) – ground and dry roast

4a. KCM_Ground Motherwort, airtight jar4b. KCM_dried Motherwort_dry roasted

Ginger – quite a lot (blend and separate the juice from the pulp)

5a. KCM_Ginger, whole5b. KCM_Ginger, blended

5c. KCM_Ginger juice5d. KCM_Ginger pulp

Sesame Oil (Forget any other type of cooking oil)

Cooking Wine (Ang chiu, arak or tuak) – I used Jim Beam Bourbon Whisk(e)y 😀

6. KCM_Sesame Oil and Jim Beam Whiskey

Salt – optional (I used chicken stock cube to taste) Note: The correct recipe for Ka Chang Ma omits any form of flavour enhancer.

Some water (for braising)

That’s all for the ingredients.

Method-

  1. Dry roast the ginger pulp in sesame oil until fragrant and golden brown. Blend and set aside.
  2. Sauté the chicken thighs and drumsticks in some sesame oil until the juice from the chicken is released.
  3. Add in the ginger juice, half the ground roasted pulp of the ginger, the dry roasted ground Ka Chang Ma (Motherwort) herb, Whisk(e)y and some water. Add chicken stock or salt, if used.
  4. Cover and braise the chicken mixture over low to medium heat until the chicken is cooked.
  5. Before dishing up the braised chicken in Ka Chang Ma herb, add the rest of the sesame oil-roasted ginger pulp and more Whisk(e)y 😀
  6. That’s it really!

7a. KCM_Braised chicken in Ka Chang Ma herb, ginger pulp, ginger juice, whisky and water

7b. KCM_platting up Ka Chang Ma

Tip of the Iceberg?

Apparently, to my boys, yes!  I made chicken cracklings or chicken skin scratchings to go with my Ka Chang Ma.  The crispy cracklings were to die for and they’re what attracted my Belsian boys to this dish! LOL!

Wash the chicken skins and pat dry with absorbent paper and then marinate the chicken skins with torn/ chopped fresh coriander, ginger juice, curry powder and chicken stock cube and pepper to taste. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.

Wash the chicken skins and pat dry with absorbent paper and then marinate the chicken skins with torn/ chopped fresh coriander, ginger juice, curry powder and chicken stock cube and pepper to taste. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.

Shallow fry (without oil) …..

Shallow fry (without oil) …..

…. until crispy and golden brown

…. until crispy and golden brown

Voilà! My version of the crispy chicken cracklings.  YUMMY!

Voilà! My version of the crispy chicken cracklings. YUMMY!

 Braised Chicken in Motherwort herb (Ka Chang Ma) served with steamed white rice, some cooling salad on the side and not forgetting the crispy chicken cracklings, which – in my boys’ opinion – were the tip of the iceberg :-D

Braised Chicken in Motherwort herb (Ka Chang Ma) served with steamed white rice, some cooling salad on the side and not forgetting the crispy chicken cracklings, which – in my boys’ opinion – were the tip of the iceberg 😀

The Mother of all dishes!  Sinfully scrumptious and healthy ;-)

The Mother of all dishes! Sinfully scrumptious and healthy 😉

By the way, I am submitting this post to the Little Thumbs up event for the month of July with the chosen ingredient “GINGER” hosted by Alvin from Chef and Sommelier, organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids

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Take care and Gingerly yours,

Nasifriet

Related readings on Ka Chang Ma –

Food Makes My World Just That Bit Rounder: Chicken Ka Chang Ma

Food@Home Sweet Home: Sarawak Kachangma Chicken- Confinement Dish

My Jersey Life: Ka Chang Ma

Josephians of the seventies: In search of Ka Chang Ma

Related posts on Ginger –

Slow Cooked Chicken Shiitake Mushroom and Ginger Soup

Last Sunday, I invited some friends for a reunion lunch at my place. These friends are no ordinary friends. The first coincidence is that all 4 of us came from Kuching, went to the same school or in the vicinity, and moved to Belgium to be with our lo kung 😀 . The second coincidence is that some members of my family know the family of my girlfriends. What can I say?  We are living in a darn small world. LOL!

Our living abroad did not deter us in reliving the deeply rooted Malaysian tradition of communal dining, in other words, a potluck lunch!  We made this potluck lunch a wee bit different than the norm, as my friends had to exhibit the “cordon bleu” or the MasterChef in herself at nearly à la minute or at real time in my kitchen.

X’s Popiah

I knew X the longest. Believe you me, X and I went to the same school in Kuching and yet we did not know each other back then! I only got to know her a year or two after moving to Belgium, somewhere in 1996 or early 1997. We were being introduced by another Malaysian friend, who hailed from Penang! When I got to know X, I discovered that her uncles were my late dad’s buddies on the badminton court. Didn’t I say, it’s a small world after all?

Last Sunday, X volunteered to make popiah as our starter. No one seemed to have breakfast that Sunday morning, so you can imagine eleven hungry tummies at noon time. We were truly famished. Like vultures waiting for their prey.  LOL!

You know, X had always told us that she can’t cook. Oh yeah?  I have this to say, “still waters run deep on your cooking ability, X”! With a little bit of “push”, I’m pretty sure it has given you an extra boost to go beyond your hidden culinary skill. Your two guys have nothing but praises on your recent food display 😉

Ooops…..I realized that I had completely forgotten to take a picture of you in action, my dear friend.  The freshly rolled popiah came and went in the blink of an eye. To give the readers an idea how your popiah would have looked like, I kept some pictures of the popiah I made some time ago. The filling may be different, but what the heck, a popiah is a popiah is a popiah. Didn’t we lick our platters clean? They were great 😉

C’s Char Kway Teow

I met C at one of the festive events held at the residence of the Malaysian ambassador to Belgium. That was many moons ago. 2000? She had her firstborn at the time. It was funny how I got to know C.  It was via my younger sister, who was in Belgium for a visit. I brought my sister to the Malaysian event and I remembered my sister and C screaming out each others’ names in unison, “What are you doing in Belgium?!” OMG….another small world!

C has an aura of mystery surround her, whose love for globetrotting can only be our wishful thoughts. I can only exclaim: “Geez, how can you have so many vacation days in a year, my friend?” In her last trip to Burma (officially named Myanmar), she brought back with her 5 kg of Burmese garlic! I was wondering how she got through customs without a hitch. LOL!

C conjured a spectacular char kway teow feat in my Ken Hom’s wok, which kept wobbling incessantly on my infrared stove. Mmmmm….. woks should remain where they are best – on gas stove.

Gas stove or not, C managed to whip up an amazing plate of homemade char kway teow with the scented Burmese garlic à la minute, live in my kitchen! And oh yes, I didn’t mind humpty dumpty having a great fall on my kitchen floor. Ha ha ha!

A’s Teh Tarik, 3-layered tea and iced lemon tea

I was introduced to A via X, who happened to be connected to her by kinship, or through a marriage in their extended family.

By the way, I’m also connected to A through a marriage between her uncle and my aunt. Furthermore, A went to the same school with one of my cousins!  Isn’t that amazing?

A has a new title recently.  She’s called ‘mama’ less than 3 months ago.  A delivered her son on her own – literally speaking.  It was just amazing and chapeau to you, my dear! I sensed a super strong alliance between mother and son. KF is so adorable.

We all know A is a wonderful cook. I wasn’t expecting A to bring a potluck as I can understand it was not easy being a new mama for the first time. I know how it is, as I’ve gone through that stage. Whew….thank God, it’s over now for me 😀

Where there’s food, there’s got to be beverage. A handled that department pretty well. She churned out one type of tea beverage to another. I tried all the 3 types and they were great.  As I eat and drink almost anything, I appreciated what A had executed.

Oh by the way, A, forget about the jug.  I didn’t even know I had the jug until we moved house and started unpacking.  It has been un-noticed for more than a decade, anyway 😉

My turn

There were a few reasons why we met at my place.  We just moved house during the Christmas week last year, hence, the girls were curious, wanting to view our new house. Another reason was the potluck must include Sarawak’s signature dish,  the irresistible Sarawak Laksa. That’s right; yours truly had to accomplish the task. On top of that, I also made beef rendang, ngo hiang and bak kut teh.  Then of course, meeting  A’s newborn baby and finally, just to meet and speak the same language!

We accomplished our mission with no problem at all, except that A and C had to leave earlier than I had wanted them to.  The question then was; who’s going to start and finish the dessert?  Frankly speaking, we were pretty stuffed that day, and being Asians, desserts often take backstage. After all, I (just) bought a cake and some cookies, so girls, you didn’t miss anything  😉

The best transformed leftover lunch ever

I had some leftovers left of the ngo hiang to be recycled the next day, which I sliced at an angle, then I pan-fried them. This modified starter was a winner with the guys.

For the main course, I transformed the bak kut teh into lo bak kut, by adding some 5-spiced powder and boiled eggs. It was yummilicious for a re-cycled soup, I must say.

For dessert, I used the tea dust left by A and made a pot of teh tarik, served with some Delacre choc butter cookies. OMG…. what a sin 😛

Introducing the chefs

Friendship isn’t about whom you have known the longest. It’s about who came, and never left your side….

Here’s a song to all my friends everywhere. Happy listening.

Cheers and take care!

For related posts, you may want to check out:  Murphy’s Law, or was it just…..? and Building Castles in the Sand

Malaysia is a land of laksa’sAssam Laksa, Penang Laksa, Laksam, Curry Laksa, Laksa Lemak, Johor Laksa, Kelantan Laksa and many more, but there is one type of laksa which any Sarawakian will proclaim as a signature dish of Sarawak. It’s none other than that creamy, rich, spicy and fragrant bowl of noodle soup called simply, Sarawak Laksa.

To understand why Sarawak Laksa is the crème de la crème of all laksa’s, here’s a quote from expatriate Mike Reed – a freelance travel writer of the many journals on and about Sarawak (Malaysia) – about that devlish bowl of laksa, “No dish seems to create as much disappointment when it is finished as Sarawak Laksa, but if you find the sense of loss too much to bear, you can always order another one.” He went on further… “Sarawak Laksa is a cardiologist’s nightmare of a breakfast. More cholesterol than you can shake a stick at, swimming in a delicious thick soup whose primary ingredient is santan (coconut milk), one of the richest vegetable sources of saturated fat. It’s also got enough pungent spices to give a gastero-enterologist the jitters when he thinks about what it’s doing to your colon, heaps of seafood itching to trigger off the slightest allergy, and sufficient highly refined carbohydrates to make your pancreas dance the tango.”  Unquote.  Wasn’t that a cheeky remark? 🙂

But why, oh why, are Sarawakians, or visitors to Sarawak so entranced by that magnetic charm of the Sarawak Laksa?

Well of course, it’s just irresistible. It’s mesmeric. It’s authentic. It’s unique.  It’s just, erm…… oh so dreamy!  There’s just no word to describe it.  One has to try it to find out the deepest and darkest secrets of that tantalizing and sublime dish known to man.

I grew up eating Sarawak Laksa, so I daresay, I can act as an ambassador to this dish 😉

Eating out is a norm in the state.  You will find this special Sarawakian delicacy almost everywhere from exquisite restaurants to roadside hawker stalls, however, I believe the best is still when you can prepare that in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Comfort Food

I always make sure that I replenish my freezer with the ínevitable Sarawak Laksa paste on my many trips back home.  Yeah, that’s right.  The paste, which is central to making the gravy, is readily available in almost every sundry shops and supermarkets in most of the major cities in Sarawak. There is, however, one brand of Sarawak Laksa paste that my family swear by. It’s the “Cap Burung Layang-Layang” (Swallow Brand).

2008 was probably the last time I could savour the Swallow Brand.  My súpply of that particular brand of paste was up. When my mum and youngest sister came to Belgium in July-August this year, they brought with them another brand of laksa paste to stock up my reorder level. It tasted different. Something was missing but it was difficult to tell what it was especially when the paste is a concoction of shallots, lemon grass, galangal, garlic, candlenuts, coriander seeds, dried chillies and about 20 other herbs and spices that are secret guarded by the maker(s).

I learnt from my sister that the maker of the Swallow Brand passed away not too long ago.  That means the secret of the original Swallow Brand recipe remained with him in his grave. Then came another brand, the Barrett’s Sarawak Laksa paste, an offshoot of the Swallow Brand. You can visit their website here http://www.sambalsatu.com/

The Pride of Sarawak

Again a quote from Mike Reed, “There are some food experiences in this world that should only really be enjoyed in their place of origin. If they were to be prepared for you anywhere else they would lose that marvellous sense of place that they evoke so well. They belong in that place, they taste best in that place, and they should be eaten only in that place.”

But for a Sarawakian living abroad (like me), the Sarawak Laksa is MORE than just a delicious dish, it is also a dish that reminds me of home. I remembered growing up playing “hawking” with my brothers and sisters. We pretended having a hawker stall selling satay or kway teow or roti canai.  While hawking, we sang our song which went like this –

I am a satay boy/ girl

Come and buy from me

I am a satay boy/ girl

Happy as can be

Satay, oh satay!

You can hear me call

Satay, oh satay!

As you passed my stall!

Now, many moons later, I’m still singing this song.  Instead of “satay“, I am singing out “laksa“!!

Laksa, oh laksa, you can hear me call.  Laksa, oh laksa, as you passed my stall……..

Welcome to my stall, my kitchen, my sacred domain …

I will be showing you the art of making a near-to-proper Sarawak Laksa.

You need the following ingredients –

Sarawak Laksa Paste (I used my last Swallow Brand, but of course any brands will do)

Rice noodles/ rice vermicelli

Fresh Coriander

Ginger (crushed)

1 can of coconut milk (authentic recipe uses fresh coconut milk, so get fresh when you can).  I wonder why Mike Reed said the santan is the primary ingredient.  It is just one of the many ingredients!

Some fresh eggs (for omelette)

Bean sprouts (tails removed)

Prawns (deveined, but leaving the shells on, to keep the prawns juicy and succulent after boiling)

Chicken meat (I prefer the thighs – taste and cook better)

Fish Sauce (optional)

Chicken stock cube or course sea salt (to taste)

Water

Lemon or Calamansi Lime (for garnishing)

The “visual” ingredients

 

 

Method

Boil some water and cook the rice vermicelli.  Once cooked, set this aside.

Boil the prawns and chicken thighs separately. I usually chuck in some coriander roots and crushed ginger to give the broths a much deeper and warm taste. Reserve the stocks for later.

 

 

In a big pot, toss in the laksa paste and some water, just enough to cover the paste level.  Do not overload the paste with too much water as this will make your gravy less concentrated and of course, less authentic. Boil the paste. Sieve the stock through a strainer.  Note that there will be a huge residue from the amalgamation of  all the “secret” ground ingredients in the paste. At this point, do not throw the residue away.  Re-boil the residue for the second time.  Discard the paler looking residue after the second boil.

Simmer the laksa paste stock and pour in all the other broths (prawn and chicken thigh) in the pot. Simmer on medium heat and add in the coconut milk, fish sauce and chicken stock cube or course sea salt. The degree of saltiness is really up to you.  Remember, you’re the boss in the kitchen 🙂

 

While the laksa gravy is simmering away, boil some water. Blanch the bean sprouts for a few seconds. I like my bean sprouts al dente (cooked enough to be firm but not soft).

Break the eggs in a bowl, beat and make an omelette.  Season to taste. Cut the omelette into small strips (or julienne)

Next, remove the shells from the prawns and place the prawns in a bowl. Shred the cooked chicken thighs. Set these aside.

Assemble all the cooked ingredients like so –

Now it’s time to plate up the magical Sarawak Laksa.  First, take some of the rice noodles, then the bean sprouts and then the shredded chicken, strips of omelette, some prawns and last but not least, the quintessential thick and creamy laksa gravy.  Garnish with a sprig of fresh coriander and a wedge of lemon or calamansi lime.

Et voila!

The Sarawak Laksa is served steaming hot and spicy!  Mmmmmm……YUM-MY!!!

For a more authentic touch to the already yummy Laksa, there should be an accompaniment – the sambal relish!  Unfortunately, I did not make this condiment the last time.  The laksa tasted just as good without it, but I will definitely include this sambal relish to complete the journey of an authentic bowl of Sarawak laksa the next time my palate is screaming for this dish 😛

Here’s the recipe of the sambal relish to accompany your bowl of Sarawak laksa 

Ingredients

4 cloves garlic (or more if you like garlic, but not less)
4 shallots
1 bombay onion
8 dried chillies (soaked in hot water)
30g dried shrimps (steeped and drained)
6 to 8 Tbsp cooking oil
50g Chilli paste (back home, we used the chilli boh)
2 Tbsp tamarind juice (to taste)
Salt and Sugar to taste

Method

To prepare the sambal, place garlic, shallots, onions, dried chillies and dried shrimps in an electric blender and process to a fine paste (if you have all the time in the world, you may use your pestle and mortar). Heat the cooking oil and fry the blended ingredients until fragrant and golden brown. Add the chilli paste, tamarind juice and season to taste with sugar and salt. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes on low heat, or until the sambal thickens.

Someone once said this, “Sarawak laksa is a dish most craved by Sarawakians who are abroad and those who have had a taste of the uniqueness of Sarawak laksa will always be back for more”.

By the way, I’ll be back for more… how about you??

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Cheers xxx