Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bak Kut Teh

I've been in a quest for the best tasting Bak Kut Teh in the island for a long time now. Unfortunately, right at this point it still remains to be a mission. While I'm yet to accomplish that desire, I've already had a number of servings in some Kopitiams. The very first time I had it, I was instantly reminded of my grandmother's bulalo soup back home. Apparently, hers is not the typical version of Bulalo Filipinos are accustomed to. She usually adds chinese herbs into it. Hence, it was so familiar when I slurped my first try of Bak Kut Teh. The taste is just so similar.


When I attended the Singapore Food Festival last year, Bak Kut Teh was one of the featured dishes of Chinese origin. It was said to mean "meat bone tea". The version that's commonly found in Singapore is of Teochew roots. It's light in color and tends to be peppery. Here's a recipe that was shared with us during the Food Festival via the cook book give away - Culinary Treasures of Singapore (Singapore Chinese Dialect Food).

Ingredients:

450g pork ribs
5 whole star anise
soy sauce
2 tbsp crisp shallot flakes
1 tbsp shredded coriander
1 tbsp white pepper corns
1 tbsp black pepper corns
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 cinnamon sticks
2 litres water
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt

How to prepare:

1. Take a large pot and put spare rib pieces in it. Add enough water to cover them completely. Boil until foam rises to the surface.
2. Drain the water and rinse the meat with cold water and return it to the pot.
3. Put cinnamon, star anise and peppercorns in a small bag; tie it and add bag to the pot.
4. Bring water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour.
5. Skim excess oil from the surface and discard it.
6. Remove the spice bag from the pot.
7. Season the prepared soup with salt, sugar, dark soy sauce to taste and stir.
8. Serve with steamed rice.


I'm just about to try this recipe too. I've had experience of using the pre-packed Bak Kut Teh mix that can be bought in the supermarket. However, I was not happy with the outcome. Hence, for heritage foods such as this, traditional way of cooking could be better than a short cut.

Bak Kut Teh

I've been in a quest for the best tasting Bak Kut Teh in the island for a long time now. Unfortunately, right at this point it still remains to be a mission. While I'm yet to accomplish that desire, I've already had a number of servings in some Kopitiams. The very first time I had it, I was instantly reminded of my grandmother's bulalo soup back home. Apparently, hers is not the typical version of Bulalo Filipinos are accustomed to. She usually adds chinese herbs into it. Hence, it was so familiar when I slurped my first try of Bak Kut Teh. The taste is just so similar.

When I attended the Singapore Food Festival last year, Bak Kut Teh was one of the featured dishes of Chinese origin. It was said to mean "meat bone tea". The version that's commonly found in Singapore is of Teochew roots. It's light in color and tends to be peppery. Here's a recipe that was shared with us during the Food Festival via the cook book give away - Culinary Treasures of Singapore (Singapore Chinese Dialect Food).
Ingredients:

450g pork ribs
5 whole star anise
soy sauce
2 tbsp crisp shallot flakes
1 tbsp shredded coriander
1 tbsp white pepper corns
1 tbsp black pepper corns
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 cinnamon sticks
2 litres water
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt

How to prepare:

1. Take a large pot and put spare rib pieces in it. Add enough water to cover them completely. Boil until foam rises to the surface.
2. Drain the water and rinse the meat with cold water and return it to the pot.
3. Put cinnamon, star anise and peppercorns in a small bag; tie it and add bag to the pot.
4. Bring water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour.
5. Skim excess oil from the surface and discard it.
6. Remove the spice bag from the pot.
7. Season the prepared soup with salt, sugar, dark soy sauce to taste and stir.
8. Serve with steamed rice.

I'm just about to try this recipe too. I've had experience of using the pre-packed Bak Kut Teh mix that can be bought in the supermarket. However, I was not happy with the outcome. Hence, for heritage foods such as this, traditional way of cooking could be better than a short cut.

Shrimps with Spinach & Broccoli

Going "green and healthy" should be the current mantra in every home. I guess the rationale for doing so need not be elaborated. With the fast-paced lifestyles we all live today, in fact, it's almost beyond necessary. This has been the clamor in the food business anywhere in the world since the increase in rate in the occurence of hypertension, obesity and other unwanted diseases due to poor eating habits, was made known. Hence, it's definitely a good breather if we can have something on the dining table sans the element of guilty pleasure.
It's for that reason that this dish came out through our dining table. Think of something that can be prepared as easy as counting one, two and three. Preparing this dish is just as simple as that really.
Ingredients:
300 grams medium sized prawns (trimmed)
2 - 3 tbsps minced garlic
1/2 cup oyster sauce dissolved in 1 cup water
2 tbsps olive oil
1 big stalk of broccoli flower (cut into individual florets)
1 pack of spinach (cut into 2 inches length)
Preparation:
1. Blanch spinach and broccoli flowers in boiling water for 1 minute. Immediately soak in iced water while preparing the sauce.
2. Add oil in a heated wok. Saute garlic until fragrant. Add in shrimps and saute until they turn pink. Add oyster sauce mixture and stir well. Allow to simmer for 2 - 3 minutes.
3. Drain the blanched vegetables and transfer to a serving plate. Pour over the sauted shrimps with oyster sauce.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cinnamon Bread Pudding

It's been a while since a post on home made goodies or a dish recipe has been uploaded here. It's not because I'm no longer cooking at home nor have given up my enthusiasm on it (for that's certainly next to impossibility), but rather current circumstances prevented me from doing so. Hence, I'm glad to be able to share another recipe of one of my favorites again. Actually, this Cinnamon Bread Pudding recipe is not new in this blog. I've already posted it 2 years ago. However, I haven't made it since then much less since we relocated to Singapore. Also, I made some modifications on the recipe for a bigger serving and I used a different kind of bread.
Bread Pudding is usually prepared using stale breads. Personally though, I preferred the ones that are at least 1-2 days old. I don't fancy much the texture of the very old ones. To add more dimensions to the taste, other ingredients maybe added to it such as spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.), flavors (vanilla, almond etc.) fruits and nuts. For this recipe (in the absence of "pandesal" type of bread in the Lion city), I used a combination of butter roll and hotdog buns. Texture wise, it came out acceptable.


Ingredients:

5 cups bread (broken into smaller pieces)
8 whole eggs
1 large can sweetened condensed milk
1 large can evaporated milk
1 tsp cinnamon powder
2/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar

How to prepare:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 175 C.
2. Cream butter and sugar. Spread onto the bottom of a square baking pan. Set aside.
3. Mix in a bowl eggs, condensed milk, evaporated milk and cinnamon powder. Pour over the mixture to the bread in another container and soak for at least 30 minutes.
4. Add the soaked bread into the baking pan with the creamed butter. Put in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown.
5. Allow to cool and cut into single servings.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

POPIAH

Meet the "Lumpiang Sariwa" (Fresh Spring Roll) of Singapore, locally known as POPIAH. Sweet, generally tasty and can be made spicy. That's the overall melange of flavors that can be found in this filling yet enjoyable snack item. I usually grabbed a piece of my favorite at Takashimaya's food court. It's a simple food to prepare but its key of acceptability lies heavily on the wrapper and the sauce used. The filling can be as varied as you can imagine. The usual ones are turnips, carrots, garlic, bean sprouts, egg, dried shrimps, fried tofu, chinese sausage, ground peanuts, fried pork and lettuce leaves. Normally, the preferred types of sauces/pastes are first spread onto the wrapper then filled with the necessary fillings. Afterwhich, it's rolled and cut into bite size pieces. I wonder if there are other variations though that can make this spring roll even more enticing. Perhaps, that's something to look forward to in any next taste trek around.

POPIAH

Meet the "Lumpiang Sariwa" (Fresh Spring Roll) of Singapore, locally known as POPIAH. Sweet, generally tasty and can be made spicy. That's the overall melange of flavors that can be found in this filling yet enjoyable snack item. I usually grabbed a piece of my favorite at Takashimaya's food court. It's a simple food to prepare but its key of acceptability lies heavily on the wrapper and the sauce used. The filling can be as varied as you can imagine. The usual ones are turnips, carrots, garlic, bean sprouts, egg, dried shrimps, fried tofu, chinese sausage, ground peanuts, fried pork and lettuce leaves. Normally, the preferred types of sauces/pastes are first spread onto the wrapper then filled with the necessary fillings. Afterwhich, it's rolled and cut into bite size pieces. I wonder if there are other variations though that can make this spring roll even more enticing. Perhaps, that's something to look forward to in any next taste trek around.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Must See & Do in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



It's good to be back home in SG after the recent festivity. We spent the Chinese New Year vacation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was a nice experience to say the least exploring the capital city of the country that's well known for that genuine Asian claim - "Truly Asia". 4 days were actually not enough to explore this throbbing yet still a bit calm, distinctively historical yet fast growing metropolitan.

KL is not very far from Singapore. The usual options to go there is either to travel by land or air. If time is too limited for travel, the 50-minute plane ride is the right choice. For the more budget friendly route, a 5-hour bus ride is also not so bad to take. For the later option, Aeroline is your best bet especially the double decker one. It's very spacious, travels on-time, service is good and the basic necessities (like toilet, individual entertainment screen, reclining seat) are all on board to comfort you during the long travel. It actually felt like riding a plane on the road. I won't have any second thoughts taking it again the next time.


Apart from the popular Genting Highlands, there are so much more to see, enjoy and experience around the city of Kuala Lumpur. These are just some of my top picks..
1. Petaling Street (China Town) and Bukit Bintang - definitely the shopping districts to be! Petaling Street is home to a wide array of goods. Leather items, clothings, accessories, and other bric a bracs can be found here. If you don't mind buying fake brands at very affordable prices, this must be the place for you. However, if you prefer adding more value to your money's worth, Bukit Bintang is just nearby. It's a shopping strip that houses upscale shopping centres (e.g. Pavilion, Lot 10), bars and cafes. The ambiance here is tourist friendly.







2. Batu Cave - Situated approximately 20 to 30 minutes by cab from the town proper of KL, Batu Cave is another favourite tourist destination. It's a limestone hill with caves to explore. Be armed with a strong endurance though if you plan to visit the place as the climb to the hundreds of steps can be quite challenging. Be watchful of monkeys as well that are lurking around the stairs.


3. KLCC (Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre) - This is perhaps the most popular place in KL as this is where the Malaysian icon - Petronas Twin Towers is located. Just like any other skyline, it's best to view the towers in the afternoon to early evening. When my eyes laid on it, I had the same feeling of absolute awe just like when I first saw Taiwan's Taipei 101. The towers are simply beyond amazing! At the back of the tower, there's a Lake Garden for a nice leisure walk. At the lower level, there's the upscale shopping centre - Suria KLCC. Popular designer brands like Louis Vuitton, Prada, Miu Miu, Tods and Chanel among others are all housed here. I was surprised that the price of Chanel bags are much cheaper here compared in Singapore (at least for the large shopping tote).


4. Sunway Lagoon - Touted as Asia's best attraction for 4 consecutive years since 2007, now I know why this destination earned such recognition. This place is definitely packed with adventure, fun and excitement. There are a total of 5 parks to enjoy - Wild Life Park, Amusement Park, Water Park, Scream Park and Extreme Park. Exciting activities such as bungy jumping, go cart, atv ride, swimming, surfing, paintball shooting, vertical wall climbing, kayaking, flying fox and many more await all visitors. To simply put, there's almost nothing to ask for more. Undoubtedly, this is one of the largest and busiest theme parks and perhaps, even one of the best family destinations I've seen so far in Asia. In fact, a day is not enough to enjoy all the attractions inside. It would be best to come early or yet stay in the nearby Sunway Pyramid Hotel.









5. Other recommended sights by the locals - KL Tower, Parliament House, Bird Park, National Mosque

Generally, KL is truly one of the fastest growing global cities in Asia. However, it's not yet as vibrant as Bangkok nor Hongkong, but there is something in its culture and ambiance that entice you to know it more. It's a blend of a preserved heritage and a promise of an economic advancement. Talk about having a sample of both worlds, that's what KL is all about.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

ROJAK

Sweet, tangy, juicy and a tad sour. These are the flavor elements you can find in the most popular salad around town - Rojak. The name implies "mixture" in malay. It's a blend of fruits and vegetables generously coated with a sweet dressing and drizzled with lots of chopped peanuts. I've been meaning to try this traditional salad for a long time now and finally I had the opportunity to sample a plate at the newly opened Nex shopping centre in Serangoon. Texture wise, it's quite playful in the palate granted that the crunch of the fruits and vegetables are preserved. On the overall taste though, it's way too sweet for me. It's beyond my capacity to consume a plate.