Sunday, 29 January 2012

Mom's Own

Always the best!

For me, home-cooked meals are always the best!

This Braised Pork dish is so good that I thought it deserved a post all on its own!

Pork belly and pork rib braised (seared in high heat then cooked in liquid) with some hard boiled eggs.

The pork skin was rubbed with salt then seared in some oil at high heat. Some ginger and garlic was browned then star anise, peppercorn and the 'liquid' added. The 'liquid' that I mentioned consists of 'kicap manis' (sweet dark soya sauce), good quality brandy and some water until the liquid fully covers the pork.

PS Brandy was used here in place of Chinese Shao Xin Wine because we could not find any Shao Xin Wine in the supermarket!

Pork Belly

As the pork was cooking in the kitchen, the aroma filled the kitchen and was very iniviting!

Pork Rib

The braised pork was intended to be served the following day but it was so irresistible that we 'begged' (kind of) my mom to allow us some tasting session!

Braised Pork with Hard-boiled Eggs

Lo and behold, the pork tasted even better than it smelt! The very good quality brandy stood out but did not over-power the other flavours of soya sauce etc. A well-balanced seasoning and the layers of pork skin, pork fat and lean meat absorbed all the wonderful flavours and the meat was so tender that it flaked off with a touch of a fork - simply delicious!

Those wonderful hard-boiled eggs not only added texture to the dish, their mild taste also acted as a nice accompaniment to the very strong flavours of the dish.

I would not mind having this dish every day for a year, only if it will not affect my cholesterol level! haha

Friday, 27 January 2012

Kota Kinabalu Food Scene Part 2

And then there was more noodles......

Another one of my favourite noodle soup - The Beef Soup with Meehoon.

You can either choose to have the Meehoon in the soup or have it dried with soya sauce. One is as delicious as the other, since it was a very hot afternoon, I went for the dried version.

Beef Meatball and Tripe Soup

You have a choice of many different ingredients added into the beef soup. I ordered the meatballs, tripe and beef meat. Although I do not like eating any offals, but the beef tripe is so delicious that I made an exception!

The beef soup was filled with flavours from various herbs used, black pepper and boiling for hours with beef. It has a wonderful beefy sweetness to it, like having a lighter version of rich beef stock!

Dried Meehoon with Beef

Eaten with the delicious dried meehoon mixed with soya sauce and some minced beef added, a perfect lunch for me.

Kari Laksa

The Kari Laksa was HHhhhmmmmm....delicious! So delicious that I have it every time I come back for holiday! Remember my post from last trip back home?

Although I cannot take very spicy (hot) food (unusual for a born and bred Malaysian), I love this Kari Laksa as it has all the spiciness and sweet kari taste BUT not chilli hot at all!

Served with chicken strips and my favourite 'Tofu pok', this noodle dish is simply irresistable!

Next, another noodle dish that is named after the place it was made.

Tamparuli Fried Noodles

The Tamparuli Fried Noodles is almost similar to the Tuaran Fried Noodles, but with thinner noodles. Served with strips of BBQ pork, thin omelette and local leafy vegatable.

The sweetness of the BBQ pork, tenderness of the omelette accompanying the wonderfully fried noodles.
Stir fried with the right heat and tossing done - 'wok hei', bringing out the wonderful taste of the egg noodles! Delicious!

Alright, now that we are done with noodles, lets have some side dishes and Chinese 'teacakes'......

Chinese Dumplings

The Chinese dumplings, made to order. Not just ANY dumplings, but those made by a certain boss lady in Kota Kinabalu. I think I can confidently assume that most KKians know which dumplings I am talking about.

Chinese dumplings

These dumplings are like the one Michelle P. made in Cardiff a couple of years ago. They can be fried or boiled, and we ordered 10 of each.

Very tasty pork filling oozing out of the soft dumpling skin (made of flour), crispy if fried. Dipped into Chinese black vinegar, I don't know why but it is just so delicious that I can eat one after the other!

Polo Bun

The Polo Bun or Pineapple Bun, made famous in Hong Kong. We call it 'Polo', which sounds like 'bo lo' which means pineapple in Cantonese. Even though it is called Pineapple Bun, it does not contain any pineapples at all! It is the appearance of its crusted top looking like a pineapple that gave it the name of Pineapple bun.

Eaten while hot as soon as it comes out of the oven, hhhhmmmmmm....heavenly!

With the sweet, sugar-ly crust and soft bun filled with rich butter cream, giving different textures and tastes, who can resist it?!

Butter Sugar Bun

Another bun from Hong Kong - the Butter Sugar Bun.

A very simple bun with a loose dough then topped with sugar and a cold square of butter.

Nothing better served with a nice glass of Iced Milk Tea on a nice hot afternoon!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year is the celebration of a new year according to the Chinese Lunar Calender. The celebrations usually run for 15 days and traditionally the Chinese people carry out different tasks on each day.

There are many activities during Chinese New Year like Lion Dance, playing Fire Crackers, going to the night markets, visiting friends and family, FEASTING and many more......

It is tradition to have 'Reunion Dinner' on New Year's Eve where people who lives in different parts of the country or the world go home to have a dinner, a feast to be exact, with family.

So this year I am back home, and the same as every year we all went to my aunt's place for dinner.

It was surely a spread of feast on the table with duck, chicken, pork, prawns, fish, vegetables etc

Tea-smoked Duck

Here, we have the Tea-smoked Duck which was cooked in three different steps. First it was covered with brown peppercorn then steamed, then it was smoked with tea leaves and orange peels before being fried to get a crispy skin.

A duck dish that tastes as good as it smells! The room was filled with aroma from the smoked duck, the wonderful smoky flavoured meat and crispy skin was absolutely delicious!

Duck - Plated

There was also the famous Hakka Cold Sliced Chicken. Simply boiled in soup, of course with a special technique to keep the chicken meat moist and retain its flavours. The important thing is getting the best ingredients and very fresh chicken to make a wonderful cold sliced chicken.

Chinese Cold Slice Chicken

This next dish is one of my favourite - 梅菜扣肉 (Fermented Dried Vegetable with Pork Belly)

A delicious dish with a bag full of flavours from the marinating sauce and the fermented dried vegetable. You can taste the saltiness from soya sauce and the acidity of the fermented veg cutting through the fatty pork belly. That is why this is my favourite dish!


With all those meat dishes, surely we need to have some vegetable to balance the diet. Here we have a stir-fry of mixed vegetables topped with the fragrant roasted cashew nuts to add texture - yum!

Stir Fried Mixed Veg. 

Then comes the seafood dishes. One of my favourite seafood dish - Butter fried prawns. These prawns are HUGE and I mean huge as they are larger than the 'King' prawns found in the UK! Stir fried with lots of garlic and butter, you can imagine the fragrance steaming out, and of course it tastes even better!

Fresh prawns with the flavour of the sea, rich buttery garlic taste....YUM!

Butter fried prawns

Oh, and this HUGE Pomfret fish too! It weighs around 1.5kg and looked a bit menacing but it is absolutely delicious! Steamed Chinese style with lots of spring onions, shitake mushrooms, soya sauce, sesame oil and sprinkled with some fragrant fried shallots, all these wonderful flavours!

The flesh of this fish was silky smooth but firm, a pleasure to eat!

Chinese-style steamed Pomfret 

Last but not least, my grandma's famous stuffed tofu. Another one of my favourite Hakka dish!

Tofu stuffed with minced pork then steamed, a very healthy dish but yet absolutely delicious!

This dish is always the favourite of the many grandchildren.

Stuffed Tofu

A wonderful spread of food shared with family!

Happy Chinese New Year to you all and be blessed!

CNY Spread

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Kota Kinabalu Food Scene

It is great to be back!

Back home in this hot country, Malaysia, to see family and friends! Back to my hometown Kota Kinabalu (KK), the capital city of Sabah. A wonderful place for tourism with beaches, islands, forests, mountains for the more adventurous; shopping centres, restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs for those who like city life.

and of course....Back blogging about food - my very first post in 2012.

First stop, noodles! There are so many different varieties of noodles in KK. Each named after the places (towns, villages, cities) of origin, with its own distinct texture, taste, flavours and accompaniments.

Foochow Kampua

Sarawak Foochow Kampua or Foochow Dried Noodles. Foochow is a place in China and people from there are called Foochow people, lots of Foochow people migrated to Sarawak, Malaysia. Hence, naturally the dried noodles they brought from Foochow is called Foochow kampua.

This dish is usually served with stir-fried minced pork and the noodles in it's original pale yellowish colour, different from other dried noodles mixed with dark soya sauce to give a brown-black colour.

Absolutely delicious thin noodles mixed with sauces made by the noodle stall owner. On the photo you can see slices of meat with a yellowish 'skin', that is called 'Chun Juan' or pork wrapped in thin layer of fried egg which is a bit like the Japanese Tamago. The Chun Juan is a Hakka delicacy found mainly in Sabah, so the Sarawakian noodle dish has been localized with a few pieces of KK Chun Juan.

Top with a few sprinkles of diced spring onions, this simple dish smells wonderfully fragrant and tastes superbly delicious!

Next come the dessert. With many new coffee shops or cafe springing out in KK, I could never keep up with them by coming home only once a year, or less!

For a small gathering of former high school classmates, we went to this new joint in KK called Station One Cafe.

For a new shop, it has the looks, the atmosphere and of course new customers who are always curious to try out new places.

However, the service was rather appalling as we had to wait ages to be served although we have repeatedly pressed the 'service call' button. The worse thing is that my friends had to wait almost 30 minutes for a glass of Three Layer Milk Tea and simple glass of Ribena with lemon slice!

Three Layer Milk Tea

Three Layer Milk Tea is literally three layers with the first brown layer of tea, second white layer of evaporated milk and the bottom dark brown layer of Gula Melaka (Melaka Coconut Palm Sugar). A nice glass of cold tea with the fragrance of evaporated milk and the natural sweetness of Gula Melaka.

Ice Cream Sundae

Since it was boiling hot, I ordered the Ice Cream Sundae that came with Strawberry, Chocolate and Yam ice cream scoops, one split banana and a chocolate love letter topped with some whipped cream. I guess the ice cream was more susceptible to the heat than I was because it melted into a smooth milky liquid in less than 10 minutes! Hence, I was left competing with the heat to DEVOUR the ice cream!

Lunch next day, again, consist of some sort of noodle.

This time it was rice noodle, which is known as the healthiest type of noodle as it was made of rice flour (gluten free!)

Giant Garupa Noodle Soup

What's incredible about this rice noodle soup? It was the main ingredient - none other than the Giant Garupa Fish meat!

Why is it so incredible? I will try and describe the taste and texture before going into the price of it!

It is a deep sea fish that can live more than 50 years and can grow more than 200kg, easily over 6 ft long!
The meat has a firm texture with a pleasant chewiness to it, which makes it a pleasure to eat!

The price? Can go up to RM8,000 (about GBP 1,650) for a 120-30kg catch. So my bowl of Giant Garupa Fish Soup Noodles cost RM22 when an average bowl of fish soup noodle cost around RM8!

The soup was of course delicious after being boiled for hours with the fish, pickled mustard leaves, tofu; sprinkled with some chopped parsley - a beautiful noodle soup dish!

Another cafe that we went to for dinner was Upperstar. Another coffee shop similar to the one we went to - Station One Cafe. Although they are called coffee shops or cafe, they are not exactly shops that sells coffee, tea and cakes only like Starbucks. Coffee shops here sell a variety of food ranging from Western meat chops to Asian rice and noodle dishes. They serve fresh fruit juices, coffees and milkshakes too.

Nasi Lemak King

I ordered the Nasi Lemak King.

They have three different range of Nasi Lemak, from the most basic Nasi Lemak Promotion, Nasi Lemak and the 'extravagant' Nasi Lemak King. All the same basic coconut milk rice with some shrimp paste sauce, ikan bilis, peanuts, cucumber slices and boiled egg. The only differences between these three Nasi Lemaks were the number and sizes of ingredients put on it, and of course the price difference!

The 'King' that I ordered has the additional chicken wing, which was a bit tough to bite, so I left it as it is after trying a few bites. It also had two long sticks of chicken kebab sandwiched with green peppers, and I DO NOT LIKE peppers, especially the green ones.

Overall, a so so Nasi Lemak interpretation as I have eaten much nicer and more authentic ones.

Then we went to another joint for desserts - Secret Recipe.

Mango Delight

The Mango Delight without much delight. The menu offers:"Juicy chunks of mangoes come together with home-cook mangoes puree and fresh cream..."As promised it has chunks of mangoes but they were not that juicy, the sponge was so dry that I had nothing nice to say about it, apart from the cake being light and posing minimal threat to increasing waist-line size.

Chocolate Indulgence

Now, the Chocolate Indulgence cake looked and tasted more promising. Made with layers of 'creamy and rich Belgian coverture chocolate and white chocolate filling'. With different tastes and textures to each layer of the chocolate cake, it was rich, tasty and nice to eat.

You can probably gather now that KK has been swamped with franchises and the local (much better) food places are slowly (now becoming quickly) being phased out, with only the very popular and long-running ones left!

Now going back to non-franchised food at Restoran Baba & Nyonya Recipe serving authentic Baba & Nyonya food.

Cendol Ais

Cendol Ais - green coloured jelly, served with crushed ice and red beans, drizzled with coconut milk and Gula Melaka. A delightful cold, sweet treat on a nice hot day! In the photo above, the owner forgotten to add the cendol on to the cendol ais! Hence, you can see the cendol being added afterwards in the photo below.

Cendol Ais

Rojak Buah

Rojak Buah - Mixed fruits with specially made sauce and crushed peanuts. A delicious local delicacy with a sweet and sour taste offering different texture from the fresh fruits, crushed peanuts and local vegetable.

Although it does not look like much, one has got to try it to understand what I mean when I say that it is a delicious dish!

Featuring my favorite drink when back home - Iced Milk Tea!

Iced Milk Tea

Many people like their HOT cup of tea, but I love mine served cold - ICE cold! A simple glass of iced tea with evaporated milk rather than normal cow's milk, simply refreshing.

Rice Noodles

Another bowl of noodles, this time it was the dried rice noodles in soya sauce (giving it a brown black colour). Served with a bowl of soup containing pork meat, pork meatballs and pork dumplings giving different textures to a simple pork dish.

Pork meat soup

A very satisfying meal indeed!

More to come as I continue on my KK food journey......