AFC GRILLED : Chef Sean Connolly

An evening of good food.

Lap Cheong Watermelon Bites

An asian take on watermelon bites!

Baked Fish with Kiwi in Sweet and Sour Sauce

Add a twist to sweet and sour fish!

Semperit Pandan Cookies

Cute cookies for the festive season!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Steamed Egg


After eating all that yummy steamed food in Restoran Steam Fish & Steamboat, I was inspired to reproduce these favourites of mine. I started off with steamed egg. You will find this steamed egg dish in almost any establishment offering Chinese cuisine here.

I've made this on several occasions  but had a little fun with it this time. If you have been following me on my other accounts in social media, you would have realised by now that I have a fixation for 'smileys'. I've tried not ending sentences with one but it always slips in somehow. And now, it's even on my food!

Anyway, I hope you like this version of steamed egg.

- 3 medium eggs
- ⅔cup water

Seasoning (or to taste)

- 1 tbsp spring onions (sliced small)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce

1) Add 3 eggs into a bowl with 2/3 cup water. Mix with a fork or a pair of chopsticks (do not beat), until well combined.

2) Using a strainer, strain the mixture into a steaming plate (Aiming for a clear and bubble free mixture).

3) Cover the plate (using foil or another plate). Place this into the steamer and steam until the egg sets into a custard-like texture.

Note: I use an electrical cooker. Start on high heat. Once the water begins to boil, put the covered plate in and reduce the heat. It took me about half an hour to forty minutes on low heat but could be faster under different conditions. Give it a quick check on the twentieth minute if you're not sure or if this is your first time.

Don't forget to cover the plate before steaming!

There you have it - steamed egg

4) Finally, mix sesame oil and soy sauce together. Pour this over the set egg. Sprinkle with chopped spring onions.

This is how it's done.

Steamed Egg with Sesame Oil and Soy Sauce topped with Spring Onions

I am kidding, of course. Don't be stingy with the sauce or the spring onions. The picture above is a toned down version of what I really did!


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Food Discovery : Steamed Food at Restoran Steam Fish & Steamboat and Meeting Chef Sam


When it comes to steamed food, it's not just a 'health thing'. It can be as delicious as you want it to be depending on the ingredients and sauce put together.  

We ordered our lunch at this restaurant on a Groupon deal we had purchased online. A couple of glowing press clippings were plastered on the wall near the entrance where we sat. The same man, who was featured on the newspaper cutting, was in the kitchen whipping up what we had ordered.

Meet Chef Sam, the affable cook who specialises in steamed food. You name it, he'll steam it! Be reasonable, of course. Fish is more his specialty. That's obvious from the name of the restaurant itself.

Check out the photos below to see what we tried out - steamed fish, steamed egg and steamed baby cos lettuce.

From top-left : Chef Sam and Sharon, the restaurant and
fragrant Steamed Fish with a ton of ginger on top

Steamed Egg with soy sauce, garnished with spring onions

Steamed Baby Cos Lettuce (Yau Mak)

It was not difficult to approach the Chef himself. I realised this when I saw him chatting up other customers with down-to-earth ease. I decided to meet him in person to let him know how much I enjoyed the meal.  I think we don't do this enough, do we. It was an inspiring lunch and I was motivated to replicate the dishes at home.

Chef Sam in his booming chirpy voice, "Do come again! "

If you appreciate steamed food as much as I do, then this is the place to go. Over the days, I attempted to cook some of the dishes I had eaten. Look out for my next post to see how I did.

An important cooking tip about steaming fish (this appeared in the Chinese newspaper cutting, China Press, that had featured Chef Sam) :

"Two methods were used to do away with the 'fishy' smell :-
1. By using ginger and spring onion in the steaming process. 
2. By steaming the fish twice - Throw the water from the first steam away. Then, add the sauces and steam again."

~ This tip was translated for my benefit by Mdm. Sue Pooh.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spicy Cheddar Scones


I've got Abbe (Abbe's Cooking Antics) to thank for introducing me to scones.

It was one of those 'things' I skipped at afternoon teas because I was sure it couldn't beat the likes of peach tart, scrumptious sandwich or decadent cake. After trying this recipe out, I realised what I had been missing out on.

Spicy Cheddar Scone

These days, I don't hesitate to make a tray of my own, and I like pairing it with fruit based curries like pineapple pajeri or mango dal. Is that a strange way of eating scones? ... Anyway, it is for this reason that I have greatly reduced the amount of salt in this recipe.

Recipe adapted from Abbe's Cooking Antics - Spicy Mexican Cheddar Scones. I have highlighted the differences in purple.

- 225g self raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp chili flakes
- 50g butter - chopped into small pieces
- 125g shredded Cheddar (Emborg)
- 150ml milk
- ½ cup shredded cabbage
- 1 to 2 tbsp chopped spring onion
- Extra shredded cheese (to sprinkle on top) and milk (to brush top)

For the complete How-to : Visit Abbe's Cooking Antics - Spicy Mexican Cheddar Scones

1) Shred the cabbage, chop the spring onions.
2) Rub flour, baking powder, salt and butter together until it looks like large breadcrumbs.
3) Add cheddar, chili flakes and spring onion.
4) Add shredded cabbage.
5) Mix it all together

1) Add milk to form a dough. Knead lightly on floured surface.
2) Roll into a circle and cut into pieces.
3) Brush top with milk and sprinkle cheddar on.
4) Bake.
5) Eat.

This was how I first did it (above) and then, I did it my way (below).

Use a 7in square cake tin (1in deep). Flour it.

Floured 7in square cake tin

Press the dough into the cake tin. Then, lift it out onto a floured surface.

The dough is now a nice square

Using a long knife, cut it into equal squares.

Cheddar scones ready to be baked

It goes into the oven. Fifteen minutes later...

Fantastic spicy Cheddar scones

It's done and ready to be eaten!

A close-up of fantastic spicy Cheddar scone. Did you smirk?


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dry Potato Curry


If I'm cooking a potato-laden dish, I make it a point to eat it with a balance of meat and vegetables. Rarely is rice included.

This recipe, however, is excellent with rice. Carb-heavy? Yes, but it compliments each other very well. Eaten with a bit of rasam (soup) or dal (curry), this  would pass for a 'perfect dinner' in my household. I am torn in between doing the right thing and piling on more rice for second helpings.

Well, let us not dwell on that. On to the recipe!

Dry Potato Curry

It's important that the potatoes are cooked just right - thoroughly cooked on the inside and not too long in the wok that it starts getting mushy. Therefore, don't cut the potatoes too big, nor should it be too small (well, that's helpful..). This is how I made this. Enjoy!


- 3 medium potatoes (cubed)
- 1 medium-large onion (slice half, chop half)
- 1 clove garlic (chopped)
- 1 red chili (sliced)
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 2 tbsp evaporated milk
- 3 to 4 tbsp cooking oil

Mix into wet paste (add a bit of water if necessary)
- 2 tbsp blended fresh chili
- 1½ tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder


- 1 tbsp light soy sauce (I use the slightly sweetish variety)
- Pinch of white pepper
- Pinch of chicken stock (cube)
- Pinch of salt or to taste

1) Heat oil in non-stick wok. Fry potatoes until brown on all sides.

2) Continue frying the potatoes until just cooked, then push it aside (into one corner of the wok). Add onion, garlic and spices (star anise and cinnamon stick). Fry it a little. Add wet curry paste. Fry it together with the onions and garlic until fragrant.

3) Stir in the potatoes. Add chili slices. Mix well to coat all the ingredients with curry.

4) Add seasoning.

5) Add evaporated milk. Stir well.
Note: Cook potatoes until tender, but not mushy.

6) Switch the heat off. Finally, stir in fresh coriander.

This is best enjoyed with rice or flatbreads.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mung Bean With Honey And Papaya

One of the girls in our cooking group said,"Let's do dessert this weekend!". Several of us responded with an enthusiastic yes!

A packet of mung beans was pulled out of the kitchen cabinet. I knew what I wanted to do, a sweet soup dessert with sago pearls ... like always. "How predictable!" the thought crept in and it dug deep.

I was egged by it into doing something I never tried before - and that is how this easy treat really came about, a need to break out of the norm.

Mung Bean Honey Dessert with Papaya

This is so simple to make that you don't need exact measurements. Boil however much you want, add more fruits if you prefer, flavour with as much honey as you like.

- Mung beans (boil in water until soft. keep the water aside.)
- Honey
- Papaya or fruit of choice


Boil mung beans in water until soft. Keep the water aside.

Pour softened mung beans into the blender with some of the mung bean water. Blend. Check if this is the consistency you want. If it is too thick, add more water and continue blending. Do this until you have a nice smooth puree - not too watery, not too thick. 

Use a melon baller to scoop out balls from the papaya. 

To serve, pour the mung bean puree into a bowl. Place the papaya ball on top and drizzle with honey. Best eaten warm.

Softened Mung Beans - Boiled in water for about 40 minutes

Blended Mung Bean

Mung Bean Honey Dessert


Friday, April 11, 2014

Food Discovery : Ipoh's Snacks

Ipoh, land of Bean Sprouts Chicken (Nga Choy Kai) and Flat Rice Noodles (Sar Hor Fun). It's the tastiest there is but that's not all Ipoh has to offer.

Ipoh has yummy snacks that have people queuing for a taste. Standing in line for a long time is not something anyone looks forward to but when you're as curious as us or a die-hard food fan, determination wins.

Like a good soldier, my partner Eve, braved the line for Sin Eng Heong's legendary Kaya Puff. It took almost two hours. On a brighter note, you never get anything less than freshly baked ones because these biscuits fly off the oven trays as soon as it is done!

Freshly Baked Sin Eng Heong Kaya Puffs

With over fifty years of experience, they have certainly earned their black belt in making kaya puffs. The soft flaky crust matched the home made coconut egg jam (kaya) perfectly. It was heavenly to bite into.

Kaya Puffs - The store, the queue!

Freshly Baked Kaya Puffs Being Sorted Into Boxes

Biting Into Sin Eng Heong's Kaya Puff..yum!

Also Popular - Salted Egg Biscuits

The rule: First come, first serve. Queue cutters beware! You could 'try' making reservations but don't get your hopes up and don't expect special treatment.

While waiting for Eve, I took a stroll around the area, inadvertently stumbling across another queue. "What is with Ipoh and queues? " I wondered fleetingly.

A quick check on my phone revealed that this soybean store, Funny Mountain, was famous for its tau fu fah (tofu pudding).

Funny Mountain - The soybean, tau fu fah specialist!

I wasn't prepared to be wowed. I mean - how different could it be from the ones I regularly have. Now I see how wrong I was.

Silky Smooth Tau Fu Fah

This is phenomenal. I love the texture - soft and silky. If anything, this has ruined any chance of me appreciating tau fu fah just like that anywhere else ever again. I've become fussy. Funny Mountain's tau fu fah has become sort of a benchmark.

How I longed For Second Helpings

The soybean drink was good too.

Funny Mountain's Soybean Drink

If you're tired of queues and want a quick bite of something, walk across the road to Fast Food Corner. There's a host of fried snacks to try - sweet potatoes, bananas, yam, cempedak , nian gao (Chinese New Year Cake).

No queue, no good? I wouldn't say so.

Fried Food Snacks - Nian Gao layered with yam and sweet potato in hand

Nian Gao Layer Cake

To summarise, both Sin Eng Heong and Funny Mountain should be on your must-visit list. In this case, the finest things in life doesn't come free. Time is a price you'd think twice to pay if you're not a foodie.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Slow Cooked Ginger Kampung Chicken

It's also known as Sigun in East Malaysia and Malay chicken in other parts of the world.*

I was ecstatic. They were selling whole kampung chicken at a tag of RM3.50 in Tesco. It's usually priced between RM15-RM20. The due date was the next day. I thought, "Why not?" I'm always looking out for bargains and here it was.

That's me - I complain when it's too expensive. I'm suspicious when it's too cheap. The chicken was examined thoroughly. I looked for faults, anything that allowed me to say, "Yeah, I knew it! That's why they were selling it off cheap!"

Slow Cooked Ginger Kampung Chicken

I didn't find anything out of the ordinary, of course. That's how it landed in my slow cooker. Why the slow cooker, you ask? Simple. Kampung chicken is known for tough meat and the slow cooker is an adept tool for cooking anything into a delicious tender state. Meat goes weak in the presence of a slow cooker.

This recipe was born out of a I-feel-like-adding-this-and-that moment. It comes served in ginger gravy with a mix of rice wine. I was giddy for more and it wasn't from alcohol effects. This tasted yummy and wholesome.

- 1 whole kampung chicken (600g)
- 2 large pieces of ginger (a palm-sized piece - chopped)
- A handful of fresh spring onions (chopped)
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- A dash of black pepper
- ¼ cup tapai (Sabah rice wine)
- ¾ cup water

1) Marinate the chicken with oyster sauce and a dash of black pepper. Leave aside for an hour.

2) In a pestle and mortar, pound chopped ginger and spring onions together, into a rough paste.

3) Pour water and tapai into the slow cooker. Place the chicken into the slow cooker. Pour the remaining oyster sauce that had accumulated in the bowl over the chicken.

4) Spoon ginger paste around the chicken. Pour the remaining ginger juice over the chicken.

5) Cook for 2½ hours on high. Quickly baste chicken using the gravy in the cooker. Continue cooking for a further 30 minutes or an hour until chicken is tender to your liking.

6) Serve garnished with fresh coriander.

This is best eaten with rice.

Note: Watch the water level at the 2½-hour mark. Add a little water with tapai, if necessary. These measurements are perfect for my slow cooker. For experienced slow cooker users, adjust liquid quantity accordingly at the beginning.

Marinate with oyster sauce and black pepper for an hour

Pound ginger and spring onions together

Place chicken into slow cooker

Here you go - lovely browned kampung chicken garnished with fresh coriander.

Slow Cooked Ginger Kampung Chicken

There is none of that overpowering gingery taste in this dish. The long cooking process and sweetish tapai diluted the intensity into a nice rich flavour. So don't be worried about putting in a lot of ginger.

Showing Off My Ginger Kampung Chicken Masterpiece

* (Sources: , )

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Drying My Own Herbs : Pandan, Curry and Kaffir Lime Leaves


I am guilty of purchasing a packet of fresh pandan leaves only to use one piece for a recipe that called for it. What did you do with the rest?

I did what comforted me. I told myself that I will make more warm desserts or plonk it into my rice cooker to clear it off. Reality is, I never get round to doing it because I always end up with a different menu than what I had planned for clearing off my pandan leaves.

My crime isn't limited to just pandan leaves. I've done the same to curry leaves and kaffir lime leaves. It's wasteful!

Reading about the severity of food wastage has motivated me to make little changes in how I handle fresh food, including herbs. 

This is what I do for fresh herbs I don't use within the time limit  - I dry it.
From left : Curry Leaves, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Pandan Leaves

1) Lightly rinse leaves with a spray of water. Do this in seconds. Gently shake off excess water. Pat dry with napkin.

2) Transfer to tray. Leave this in an airy, shady area.

3) The leaves should be crisp dry in two to three weeks. Store in a container.

I did not encounter any mildew forming. If you do, dispose of it.
Average room temperature where I live - 28C.

Dried Curry Leaves

I have used these dried leaves in my cooking. My findings : The aroma of kaffir lime leaves remain distinguishable. Dried curry leaves are less pungent. Pandan leaves, on the other hand, was left with a very faint scent after drying. I use it when I want a really light hint of it on my food.

When it comes to herbs, fresh is best but in order to save, dried is better than nothing.

Bottled Dried Leaves - Pandan, Kaffir Lime and Curry

Another plus point ever since I started doing this is that I save money. I don't buy herbs as often anymore.

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