Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pan Fried Chicken

Fried chicken. Now, who doesn't like it? This recipe is based on Alton Brown's but if you look closely there are a few modifications because of the inavailability of some ingredients. The upside is that this recipe is pan-fried and uses much less oil.

Pan Fried Chicken
Chicken pieces - I used wings

1 tsp salt, chili powder, coriander per piece

Full cream milk
Flour for dredging
Oil for frying

Special equipment
2 plastic containers big enough to hold twice the volume of chicken.
Heavy wok or pan

1. Separate chicken wings and place in plastic container. Pour milk to half cover and leave to marinade for at least four hours. Turn chicken pieces every two hours to ensure good absorption.

2. Drain milk and lay chicken out on board. Sprinkle liberally on both sides with seasoning and then dredge with flour, taking care to shake off excess. (What I do: Put flour and chicken in container, seal tightly and shake vigourously)

3. Fill pan with oil up to 1 cm. Heat to 200 (Medium) and place chicken pieces skin side down, taking care to leave space between the pieces. Fry each side for exactly 5 min (adjust for bigger pieces of chicken), turning only once.

4. Drain and serve! This chicken goes really well with barbecue sauce.

Cost breakdown
Total cost: RM3.50
Chicken wings RM2
Milk RM1
Flour RM0.50


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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Really Simple Coleslaw

I must admit: when it comes to culinary vegetation, I'm not particularly imaginative. Steamed broccoli tossed in oyster sauce goes with rice, scalded choy sum goes with noodles, and raw green salad goes with everything else. So today, I decided to try something different: coleslaw - and we're not talking about the mass-produced shite from kay-eff-see. This recipe uses only cabbage and onion and you can add sliced carrots as well (I was too lazy, hence the omission) during the salting.

(sorry, no picture this time - too lazy to take one)

The really simple coleslaw
1/4 head of cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup white vinegar
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp salt

1. Using your hands, rub salt into the cabbage and onions. Mix well, and then drain in a colander using a weight. Squeeze dry for at least 45 min.

2. In a saucepan, heat vinegar over low heat and dissolve sugar. Once all the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and whisk in pepper and oil. set aside to cool.

3. Discard drained liquid from vegetables. Wash free from salt and squeeze dry again.

4. Place vegetables in a non-reactive container and pour vinegar solution over. Leave in fridge for at 6 hours, stirring every two hours.

5. After that, drain excess liquid and enjoy! Makes about 4-5 servings.

Cost Breakdown
Total Cost: RM3.35++
Cost per serving: RM0.70++
Cabbage RM2
Onion RM0.35
Vinegar RM1 (RM5 for the whole bottle)


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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mamak Mee Goreng

Oh, this was divine. Of course it doesn't rival what I get back home but I must say it comes pretty close.

Note that I eliminated bean sprouts from the recipe because I have an extreme dislike for them, mainly due to the fact that I used to work in a high class restaurant that saw me picking the heads and tails off 5kgs worth of bean sprouts every morning.

I also didn't use spring onions as a garnish because I'm not a big fan.

Mamak Mee Goreng

500g-750g yellow noodles (rinsed)
1-2 tablespoons of sambal olek
3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 packet tau foo pok (tofu puffs; cubed)
1 medium potato (peeled, boiled and sliced)
Beansprouts (if you like them)
A few tablespoons of fried onion
1 red chilli and 1 green chilli (sliced)
A squirt of lime before eating

Seasoning sauce:

1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon bottle chilli sauce
3 tablespoons bottle tomato sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
A dash of white pepper
4 tablespoons water

1. Combine all ingredients of the seasoning sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a wok and fry the sambal olek and garlic until fragrant.

3. Add seasoning sauce and fry for a few seconds before adding the noodles and tofu puffs. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes and ensure that it does not stick to the wok (add a bit of water if necessary).

4. Add the potato, fry for awhile, then add beansprouts if using.

5. Stir fry a bit more, add fried onions, red and green chilli and ensure that all ingredients are mixed well together.


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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Arrabiata Malaysia

This spicy tomato-based pasta sauce is easily made from local ingredients. It's cost-to-serving ratio is also hard to beat! Dried chillies are quite potent, so adjust according to taste - although don't go more than four or you'll be stuck with a bowl of liquid fire that will kill your tongue long before you can taste anything.

Arrabiata Malaysia
4 large tomatoes, seeded
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion
2-3 dried chilis

Optional: Blender, 2 tbsp wine or rum

1. Blend or chop fine onions and garlic together, and then the same for the tomatoes and chilli. Keep the tomatoes separate for now.

2. In a saucepan, sweat onion and garlic mixture in low heat for 15 min with a pinch of salt.

3. Add tomatoes and chilli mix and continue cooking on low for 30 mi n- the mixture will start out looking pink but end up a dark red. If using alcohol, now is the time to add it.

4. Salt and pepper to taste. Spoon on your favourite pasta and enjoy, or keep in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month. Serving size is 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons, recipe makes 8-10 servings.

Cost breakdown
Total cost:: RM3 ++
Cost per serve: 30 cents ++
Tomatoes: RM2
Onion, garlic and dried chilis: Less than RM1

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Kway Teow Hailam

While out on a recent field trip, I had the privilege of sampling Malay hospitality. We made a visit to a colleague's home in Butterworth, the mainland side of Penang, and were greeted with a freshly made noodle dish served with a light peppery gravy. Our hostess called it Mee Hailam - I've seen it on the menus of local eateries here, but this was the first time trying it. I'm not sure about the etymology of the name - perhaps it's a corruption of the Chinese province of Hainan? This is my paltry attempt at replicating the dish. I substituted the yellow Hokkien noodles for flat kway teow rice noodles because it was what I had at the fridge.

Kway Teow Hailam

250g flat rice noodles or yellow Hokkien mee
1 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp caramel sauce

1/2 cup of stock (Homemade is the best of course, or else something low salt)
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp finely ground black pepper
Dash of sesame oil
Handful of spinach leaves
80g beef, cut in 1 inch chunks, then flattened - should yield 5 or six slices

*I prepared this as a wok recipe, i.e. high heat over low surface area, i.e. cooks extremely fast. I suppose you could use a skillet, but you might have to use a little more stock (say, 3/4 cup) to compensate for liquid boiling off.

1. Heat wok to high and stir fry kway teow with soy sauce and caramel sauce. Put on plate and set aside. (Note: Skip this entirely if using Hokkien mee. Instead, just blanch noodles in boiling water for 30 sec and plate)

2. Bring stock, soy sauce, pepper and sesame oil to a boil. Add beef, wait for 30 sec and turn off heat before adding spinach.

3. Scoop out beef and veges onto noodles before pouring in the gravy - then pour the gravy over, as much or as little as you want. Garnish and serve!

Cost breakdown
Total cost: RM3 (Approx)
Rice noodles: RM1
Beef: RM1
Spinach: 40 cents


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