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Saturday, August 27, 2005

kerabu su hun

When the sun is shining and the sky is blue, you want to spend all your time outside - reading, picking flowers, playing catch with your gorgeous daughter and just let the sun and the wind make love to your skin!It also means the time of eating light meals with cleaner flavours, myriad of colours and textures. I always make simple, colourful and crunchy meals for spring and summer and nothing welcomes spring like a good Kerabu.
Kerabu is a Malaysian salad which is lighter than gado-gado which has a richer and creamier sauce. Unlike Urap another type of Salad or pecal where the leaves and vegetables are mostly blanched in hot water - the vegetables in Kerabu are usually raw and crunchy. My favourite Kerabus are Kerabu Mangga which of course uses mangoes, Kerabu Nanas which uses pineapple, Kerabu Kacang Panjang - using snake or long beans and Kerabu Betik- the green papaya salad similar to Thai's Som Tam.We also make Kerabu sotong or seafood - using blanched squids (or cuttlefish) and seafood - a seafood combo. Some uses fresh seafood and let them marinate in the lemon sauce to cook them for a few hours in the fridge. But fresh seafood is almost impossible to find where I live - so I use ready cooked prawns or blanched frozen tiger prawns.Kerabu Su Hun (su hun is the Malay word for cellophane noodles) combines some of my favourite ingredients:1 - cellophane noodles, which you can get very easily in your oriental supermarket/store2 - prawns - I used cocktail prawns.3 - long or snake beans. It is loaded with sharp, citrusy, sweet, nutty, sour and salty flavour. The texture is crunchy from the prawns, fresh long beans, the cashew nuts (or peanuts) and the gelatinous noodles. And the sparkling glass noodles just added drama to the vibrant salad. This easily makes a tasty appetiser or can be made into a main course with bigger portion.

Kerabu Su Hun

1 packet of Cellophane Noodles
20 cocktail or ready cooked prawns
1 tomato - diced
100g fresh long or snake beans - slice thinly
3 kaffir lime leaves - slice very thinly
1 stalk of lemon grass - bruised and shredded
1 red chili - slice thinly
1 lime or half a lemon - squeezed
1 shallot or red onion - sliced thinly
1 Tablespoon of roasted dried shrimps - whizzed in food processor or coffee grinder
half a cup of cashew nut or peanut - roasted
Thai Fish sauce (nam prik)
Coriander leaves and stalks - sliced

1. Soak the noodles in hot water for about 10 minutes and then rinse in cold water.
2. Cube the tomatoes, slice all the herbs and vegetables and mix them in a salad bowl.
3. Mix the juice of a lime, fish sauce, sugar and salt and combine in the salad bowl with the herbs and veggies.
4. Toss the cellophane noodle and the prawns in. Mix in the dried shrimps.
5. Leave in the fridge until ready to serve. Add peanuts or cashew nuts just before serving and toss another time.
PS: It is very important for the dried shrimps to be dry not wet - roast it in a dry pan for a while and then whizzed until very fine -- that will give an authentic taste to the dish. But if you do not like taste, it can be omitted - since there is already the flavour from the fish sauce.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

sesamee with Kung Pao Chicken

This is my yin and yang dish. The sexiest way to eat noodles. And it is surreptitously flirtatious too. Quite a mind game this, and you have to be so good at it because it can only be won by surrendering to your senses.
It is the dichotomy of the historical - a cooking style stemmed from the late Qing dynasty emperor, Kung Pao - and the neologism - the word Sesamee. The duality of tempreature - the piping hot chicken and the cold noodles. It is a poetry of textures - the luscious chicken, the crunchy nuts and vegetables, the cold cold noodles. It coats your tongue with the blend of clashing flavours that balance each oone out. And in the end, it leaves your lips stung, tingling for more.
I coined the word Sesamee form the pun of the word mee - Malay for noodles. The noodles are blanched in hot water, quickly washed in cold water and then dressed with sesame, garlic and the green part of spring onions.

The chicken is made with my family's version of Kung Pao chicken recipe. The chicken is marinated to achieve that oh so restaurantlike velvety texture, and then toss in the hot home made Szechuan Chilli oil, and stir fried with some ginger, garlic, the white part of spring onion, carrot and paprika. And then drizzled with that treasured Kung Pao sauce - the perfect concoction of salty, sweet, sour and nutty flavours.

to serve: Place the sesamee in the shape of a chignon on a plate, pile on the chicken and drizzle some cashew oil and roasted cashew nuts.

update: I entered this into the IMBB#18: "Summer's Flying, Let's Get Frying" organised by the fabulous Linda of At Our Table. This is my first entry! Woo hooo!!! I feel so touched by the warmth and enthusiasm of the foodbloggers community. thanks Guys!

The recipe:



One packet of fresh noodles or dried noodle

One bunch of spring onion - only the green parts - sliced


sesame seeds - toasted


1. Add the noodles to a pot of boiling water. Following package instruction for time. Once the noodle is soft, strain and quickly rinse in cold water.

2. Toss the noodles in a bowl with sesame seeds, garlic and sesame seeds.

Kung Pao Chicken


A - to marinate the chicken

300g of chicken breast - cut into strips

marinated with:

1 TBSP chinese rice wine

1 tsp corn flour

a pinch of salt and white pepper.

B - to make the sauce

3 tsp of chinese black vinegar

3 tsp sugar

1 tsp cornflour

1 tsp of honey

1 TBSP light soy sauce

1 tsp of dark soy sauce


1 carrot - sliced

1 bunch of spring onion - only the white part - sliced

1 paprika/capsicum/bell pepper - sliced

100 gram cashew nut

3 dried Szechuan chillies - or more depending on your tolerance (or love) of heat - snipped with scissors or if you only want it for subtle flavour, leave it whole and discard once the chilli oil is made.

3 garlic - crushed and diced

2cm ginger - julianned

sunflower oil

salt and pepper


1. Marinate the chicken with the rest of ingredient A and leave to chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

2. Mix all of the ingredient B and dip your finger inside to taste for saltiness, sweetness and tartness. Adjust accordingly.

3. Heat up some oil in the wok. Toss the cashew nut in and fried till light brown and remove quickly and leave to dry in some kitchen paper. The cashew nut will continue to cook so don't fry it till it is too brown or you'd end up with black nuts. Remove the oil.

4. Heat up 1 TBSP of oil in a wok. Add the chillies into the oil and remove the chillies immediately and place it in another bowl with kitchen towel.

5. Add the the chicken into the chilli oil and stir fry for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and toss around in the wok before adding the vegetables. Stir in the Sauce and fry for about 5 minutes.

6. Add about a teaspoon of the cashew nut oil (reserve the rest for you to use in other recipes).

7. Add the cashew nut and the chillies and serve with Sesamee.

Selamat Makan!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Dalca Kambing

Dalca is a stew made of lentils, meat and vegetable and a popular dish from Penang, the north state of Malaysian Peninsula. It is the marriage of Indian and Malay cooking at its best. It is similar to dhansak, a North Indian specialty. Most of Dalca are made with coconut milk as thickening agent, but I usually made it without because I think the lentils and vegetable are enough to thicken the dish. And I like my dalca light.

You can easily omit the lamb and make a vegetable and lentil stew with the same recipe. Or replace it with chicken or beef. It is a good curry to accmpany any roti - like chapati, prata (roti chanai), briyani or plain rice and it is not too spicy or hot. If you like it to be more fiery, you can add some sambal oelek or dry chillies.

Like most stews and curry, this is a dish that taste better the next day - after the flavour have rested and amalgated for a while. It is also suitable to be frozen and heated later. I cut and add my okras just before serving because I don't like my okra to be mushy and cutting it too early will make it bleed and gooey and turn black.

This is quite an easy curry to make and is happy to be left on the stove to simmer on its own. It is also a spectacular dish to be made for dinner parties, with intimate friends and family to break bread with.

The Recipe:

Dalca Kambing

Lamb - 2 to 5 pieces of shoulder, neck, thighs or rack of lamb with bones.
one cup of lentils (dhal) - washed 3 times in hot water and then soaked in cold water for 2 hours
one medium aubergine - sliced and cut into cubes
10-15 baby okra
1 carrot
3 new potatoes - washed and quartered
5 tomatoes - quartered
1 mango - slightly yellow, not quite ripe yet.

To be sliced:
2 green chilli
2 red onions
2 garlic
2 cm ginger

2 TBSP curry powder
salt and black pepper
1 tsp amchur

spices to be roasted together:
2 cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
black mustard seeds
10-12 curry leaves

1. Boil the lentils in 5 cups of water till slightly mushy. Get rid of any cloud forming on the water when ti is boiling.
2. Add in the lamb and another 2 cups of water.
3. In another pan, heat the ghee and a tBsp of oil and add the curry leaves, chillies, mustard seeds and onion, garlic and ginger. Stir till Onions are caramelised and then add the curry powder, roasted spices and 2 TBsp of water. Wait till you see the oil turn into red and bubbly and the curry powder changes colour.
4. Transfer the content of the pan into the pot. Stir thoroughly. Leave to boil.
5. Add in tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and aubergine. Turn the fire down and leave to simmer. Stirring occasionally. Turn the fire off when the vegetable and meat appear to be cooked.
6. Just before serving, cut the okras on both ends and add into the heated dalca. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Leave to simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Serve with rice or chapati or any roti. It taste better and the sauce is thicker the next day.

Kambing is the Malay word for lamb and mutton.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Chapati is the easiest, quickest and most versatile of all Indian rotis.
Deep fry it in hot oil and you get Poori - a puffy chapati - yummy to be eaten with potato masala. Another favourite but has to be eaten hot from the wok, hence not so suitable for entertaining.

Cook on top of an open fire just before you serve and you get Pulka, another inflated bread minus the oil. this is a dramatic option for babrbecue!

And cook it on the griddle with a few drop of ghee, you get the yummiest, tender and healthiest leavened bread to go with curry or your favourite masala.

I learnt to make chapati from a lady who has a stall in the old food court where you can eat al fresco under the stars every evening in what we call PJ Old Town, a suburb just outside Kuala Lumpur. The Punjadi lady makes chapati from 6 PM everyday till midnight and her stall is usually crowded. You can order it to go with sardine masala, chicken curry, lamb curry of dhal curry and a variety of vegetable. I have been eating there since I was a tot and she recognised me in any age. I think she has met more boyfriends than my parents ever did too.

The older I get, the more sporadic my visit and then I told her I may only go home for about 2 weeks or less a year. And then she taught me how to make it along with her famous lentil curry, the sardine masala and lamb curry.

Unlike other cookbooks which show you to add water to flour immediately, she taught me to make it like pastry - the rubbing method - in fact she encourage the lifting of the flour as high as you can to get as much air as you can into the dough. But unlike pastry where the dough shouldn't be kneaded as much and less touching are desired, chapati dough has to be kneaded just like bread. this is leavened bread, after all. And then divided and allowed to rest in room temperature, covered in tea towel.

And then roll it out, leave under a tea towel to prevent it from drying and fry it on a hot griddle just before serving. It is a fabulous thing to make with children. My daughter loves the fact that she can use her own little chef tools like her little rolling pin and have fun leaving the flour all over the large teak table and on the floor and on her nose and hair...

375 g/12 oz/3 cups atta flour or roti flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon ghee or oil
250 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup lukewarm water

Put flour in a large mixing bowl, setting aside about half a cup for rolling chapatis.
Stir salt through the flour, then add ghee or oil and rub in with fingertips, as though making pastry. Add the measured water all at once, moisten all the flour and mix to a firm dough. Knead dough for at least 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Since there is no leavening agent in these breads, kneading is used to develop lightness. Gather dough into a ball, put into a small bowl and cover tightly with plastic food wrap. Leave for 1 hour or longer. This resting period is also vital for making light, tender breads.
Divide dough into balls of even size, about as big as a large walnut or small egg. Roll each out on a lightly floured board, lightly dusting board and rolling pin with reserved flour and keeping the shape perfectly round if possible. Roll out the chapatis to be cooked, and when starting to cook them, start with those which were rolled first, since the short rest between rolling and cooking makes the chapatis lighter.
Heat a tawa, griddle or heavy frying pan, put the first chapati on the hot pan and leave for 1 minute on medium heat. Turn it over and place second side down. After a further minute, press lightly around the edges of the chapati with a folded tea towel to encourage the disc of bread to puff up and bubble. Do not overcook or the chapatis will become crisp and dry instead of pliable and tender. Wrap the cooked chapatis in a tea towel. Serve warm with butter, curry or other dishes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Lisa's Morroccon Lamb

This is a dish which I return to over and over again when I feel like making roast lamb. The wonderful aroma of Morroccon spices and dried fruit, the texture of the meat which is moist on the inside and crispy on the outside is simply sublime.
My friend Samirah, a Morroccon, taught me to make this dish in January and I made it successfully the first time for Aidil Adha - a Muslim celebration of victory, marked by the last day of Pilgrimage or Haj to Mecca.
The feast for Aidil Adha for us included briyani, dalca - a lentil. vegetable and meat spicy broth and some cucumber raita.

The recipe:

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 to 2 hours


1 leg of lamb

to chop:
1 large bunch of fresh mint
1/2 bag (250g) of tuttie fruitti - mixture of dried apricots, pear, apples and prunes
100g of dates

mix to make a wet paste:
1 orange, zested
1 lemon, zested
1 whole bulb garlic - pounded but not too fine
1 inch (2.5cm) ginger - pounded but not too fine
1 tbsp olive oil
4-6 tbsp harissa paste, plus extra for the gravy

To be toasted and crushed in the mortar and pestle - together to make a coarse dry rub
1 tbsp black pepper
3 tbsp pine nuts
4 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp fennel seeds
for gravy
jus from the roasting tin
red wine or madeira

- opitional1/2 bag of tutti frutti

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
2. Spread the harissa paste over the leg then pat on the dry rub and massage.
3. Spread the mint and tutti-fruitti mixture over it.
4. Cover with clingwrap. Leave the lamb to marinate overnight or at least 4 hours.
5. Put the leg in a roasting tin and roast for 40 minutes per kilo, 20 mins per pound or until the lamb is cooked to your liking.
5a.After half an hour, turn the lamb to fat side up and lower the temp of the oven to gas mark 5/190C/375F.
6. Remove the lamb from the oven, then place it on a chopping board to rest.
7. Put the roasting tin on the stove top, over a high heat. Stir in a spoon of harissa paste, if desired, plus a splash of red wine (or madeira will be yummy too) and enough water to produce gravy, you can add more tuttifruiti to this if you like.
8. Leave the gravy bubbling until it has thickened and reduced by half.
9. Carve the lamb and serve with the gravy, saffron rice and salad.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Blueberry Bliss

Between the two of us, Terry makes the best pancake. He makes excellent thin, rich buttery sweet pancake which we usually eat with honey, powder sugar, strawberry compote or thick molass syrup... YUMMERS. He also makes the best appelpannenkoek - Dutch apple pancake. When we first met, he used to try to convert me into eating pancakes for dinner. We live in the south part of The Netherlands where it is quite typical to have pancakes for dinner on Fridays. He wasn't successful. Instead, I converted him into having pancakes or flapjacks for breakfast. A few years ago, Nabila and me got him his own special pancake pan for Father's Day and we make sure he uses it every weekend.
When I do make pancakes, I make either flapjacks or drop scones. I love the thickness and usually will serve them with freshfruit and cream or compote. We had some fresh and plump blueberries from the farm a few weeks ago and I made this delicious ricotta flapjacks to go with them. This recipe is adapted from Bill Granger's recipe. Since seeing Bill made this on BBC, I have been making it using different fruits and each has been successful. It is fluffier, airier and lighter than the usual flapjacks because the egg whites are whisked and folded in to the batter later. And guess what? I made some blueberry compote too ;-)

Now you can even make your own Ricotta, using Clotilde's brilliant recipe!

Blueberry Ricotta Flapjacks

4 eggs, yolks and whites seperated
300g ricotta
200ml milk
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
300g blueberries
100g sugar
100g butter
extra blueberries to garnish
Creme fraiche

1. Place the egg yolks, ricotta and milk in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
2. Sieve in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix well with the ricotta mixture.
3. Whisk the egg whites to a soft peak. Add a third of the egg whites to the ricotta mixture and stir in to loosen the mixture. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
4. Add one third of the blueberries to the batter and stir in.
5. Place the remaining blueberries in a small pan with the sugarand simmer for a couple of minutes so that some of the berries have collapsed. Add in butter and turn off the heat.
6. Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and add a ladle of the batter to the pan. Once the flapjack bubbles a bit, after about 1-2 minutes, turn it over and cook on the other side. Repeat until all the batter is used up.
7. Serve by placing three pancakes on top of each other and drizzle some of the blueberry compôte over the flapjacks.
8. Finally put a dollop of crème fraîche on the pile of pancakes. Garnish with a few fresh blueberries.