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!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Black Pepper Beef With Maltose

I enjoy home cooking a lot. It's non-restrictive in the sense that there is no requirement to stick to recipes. I love that we get to change the ingredients or portion to suit our palate.

There is no firm rule about maintaining taste either. At home, it doesn't matter if it's a little sour today or if there's more chilli on other days. "I run a home, not a restaurant!" , is how I often laugh myself into skipping out on doing the same old, same old. Mum would have rolled her eyes at the countless variations I have made on her trademark chicken curry!

Black Pepper Beef With Maltose

Anyway, this is something I made the other day. It's one of those I-do-what-I-please thing. Check out my take on black pepper beef. I made this with some sticky maltose stirred in. No regrets on this move as it turned out pretty yummy.

Black Pepper Beef With Maltose

- 200g beef (thin slices)
- 2 large onion (sliced)
- 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 tsp chopped ginger
- 1 red chili (sliced into long strips)
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce (thick salty-sweet variety)
- 1½ tbsp maltose sugar
- 2 to 3 dashes of black pepper
- Salt to taste
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- Fresh coriander for garnishing

1) Heat oil in pan.
2) Saute garlic, ginger and onion until lightly browned or just fragrant.
3) Add beef slices. Season with dark soy, salt and black pepper. Stir-fry until the beef slices are just cooked.
4) Add red chilli. Allow to cook for a bit.
5) Switch the heat off. Stir in the maltose sugar.
6) Serve garnished with fresh coriander.

Best eaten with fluffy white rice!

1) The ingredients. 2) Saute the onions, ginger and garlic.
3) Beef slices go in. 4) Seasoning is added.

Here you go ~ Black Pepper Beef With Maltose!

A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe. ~ Thomas Keller 

There are several factors to take into account when cooking from a recipe ~ it starts with the different kinds of soy sauces we're going to use, right down to the ripeness or freshnesss of ingredients, the kitchen utensils and the heat applied. Bringing soul to the recipe, to me, is the intuition to figure these things out and finally come out with a dish that satisfies our personal taste.

What do you think it means to bring soul to the recipe? I'm curious!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What I Learned : 400 Resipi Terbaik Chef Wan Book Launch


Happy New Year, everyone!

The holidays are over. For some, it's back to the humdrum of everyday life. For me, it's the beginning of more exciting things to come. Cooking, a workaday chore in the past, has become an invigorating hobby. It's also the only workout I look forward to without grimacing. I say 'workout' because pounding ingredients, cutting meat and stirring the pot produces a bit of sweat.

And lets not leave out the facial steam spa treatment I get during the cooking process! All natural, except that I don't smell anything as pleasant as lavender once I'm done. Garlic and shrimp paste, likely!

I'm tickled by memories of my younger self, sitting on the steps of our old squeaky wooden staircase, watching mom swish her spatula across the wok, flipping meat and vegetables over the soy sauce gravy that was considered staple in our family cuisine.This was how I learned to cook.

Fast forward now, running a food blog and a cooking group with Eve (the founder of Sweet Home-Chefs) has certainly encouraged me to take a deeper interest in the ingredients I work with.

Last April, I was blessed with an opportunity to meet Chef Wan, Malaysia's food ambassador, at a book launch. The new cookbook was released to commemorate Chef Wan's 40 years in the culinary world. I walked away with not only an autographed copy of 400 Resipi Terbaik Chef Wan, but also his wise words which I have carried with me until today.

1) Use your eyes, trust your nose. ~ Be it for cooking or buying fresh ingredients. Well, that makes a lot of sense. If it doesn't look or smell right, something could be off.

2) I am always learning. ~ On getting tips from the hawkers at Jalan Alor. Food is something that can be cooked or served differently in so many ways by different people all over the world that it's always going to be a learning process.

3) Cooking is about connecting to people. Good food is not just about keeping us healthy in a physical way, it is also about feeding our spiritual health, that is, love, family bonding, friendship. ~ This happens when we share the food we cook with someone.

400 Resipi Terbaik Chef Wan (400 of Chef Wan's best recipes) is a cookbook that carries a host of authentic Malaysian cuisine in the richest sense. A fair list of ingredients are necessary. There are no shortcuts for good old-fashioned recipes that is the core of traditional Malaysian food which is always a flavourful affair.

Chef Wan's Book Launch

Can coconut milk be taken out of nasi lemak and paired with something other than sambal to make it simpler? It would lose it's authenticity and it certainly can't be called nasi lemak if there is no 'lemak' (richness/creaminess) to it. That's the reason I love this cookbook so much. I get a glimpse of what it means to truly cook with fresh local ingredients and an idea how to combine them for that heavenly aroma that so excites our gastronomical sense. Pandan leaves, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, curry leaf, turmeric leaves <--- See? It's all about making fragrant food! 

A quick shot before rushing over to another location to get the book autographed!

I've been tinkering around with some of the recipes in the book for my daily meals. Except for one which bears no close resemblance to the original recipe in the cookbook, I have not shared any of my adventures on this blog.

My conclusion: Although this cookbook is not limited to local cuisine, it is still a keeper for anyone who's keen to learn the ins and outs of it.


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