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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sup Tulang - Malaysian Beef Rib Soup

Armed with the knowledge of how to make the perfect sup bunjut, let's make sup tulang. Sup tulang, literally Bone Soup in Malay usually refers to beef soups which are made with beef that is still attached to bones. so it can be made from the neck, the legs or ribs. This one is made with beef ribs.

It makes good sense to keep the bones because it creates instant stock, and sometimes when you're lucky, you can even get the marrow - especially when you make the soup using the knee bones which is a delicacy called the Gearbox Soup. The soup develops an intense flavour and is very aromatic compare to the ones that is made with just meat and using premade stock.
There is no vegetable used in this soup - not even onions. I use only ginger, lemon grass, sup bunjut, some salt and freshly crushed black pepper for seasoning and water. It is very important to minimize the *flavours* as the star of the soup is the beef and the spices, so every ingredient used is only there to enhance the flavour not to overwhelm. The soup then is left to simmer for one and a half to two hours before rewarding you with this amazing broth you can then dress with other condiments and eaten with either noodles - I will give you a recipe of Soto Daging based on this soup tomorrow - or rice or rice cakes (nasi himpit).

Sup Tulang
ingredients:
1kg beef ribs
3cm ginger - peeled and crushed
2 lemon grass - remove the outer skin and crush the bottom with a knife/pestle
water
salt and black pepper

Method:
1. Heat up your soup pot and add the loose spices in the sup bunjut into the pot - Cinnamon, star anise, cardamom and cloves - dry fry for about 1-2 minutes.
2. Add 1 liter of water, ginger and lemon grass.
3. Add the beef ribs.
4. Add the sup bunjut parcel.
5. Cook to boil then lower the heat and leave to simmer for one to two hours. Keep tasting and adjusting the seasoning.
6. It will be ready when the meat fell off the bones.
7. Serve immediately.


Note on condiments:
you can serve this with a confetti of crispy fried shallot, coriander leaves, celery leaves and spring onion. A side dish of sambal kicap and some lime wedge would be lovely too.
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Monday, March 30, 2009

mixing your own Malaysian soup spice


It is very easy to pick up a spice mix called Sup Bunjut anywhere in Malaysia. the most ubiquitous is probably Adabi Soup Mixes - soul in a plastic packet. Inside you'd find a cinnamon stick, one or two star anise, green cardamom and clove with one cute little muslin parcel filled more aromatic seeds. In the little parcel, you'd find a mixture of peppercorn, cumin, coriander, some mustard seeds, one or two petals of star anise, shredded cinnamon and maybe some fennel seeds.
It is not so easy to find this beautiful and handy packet when you're outside Malaysia though. But don't worry, follow these steps and you can make your own spice mix in no time!

My secret in making my own spices is using a little tea strainer basket which I can open and add my spices in after warming them in my soup pot. You can also use some tea muslin sleeves - easily found in specialty tea shop. Or make your own little Muslin bundle and tie it together with a little white thread. But tea strainer is handier, can easily be washed and used again in a later date.

By making your own spice mix, the spices are fresher and therefore more aromatic. If you see the picture with the filling of the commercial soup mix packet, the cardamom is already white therefore not so fresh anymore.

Heating up the spices in the soup pot you're using ensure the oil of all the spices is released and coating the base of the pot. This is very important in enhancing the aroma and the flavour of the soup as we're not going to use any oil at all in making the soup (I will post the recipe and story in the next 2 days).

These are the spices you need to make Beef Rib Soup (Sup Tulang) for 1-2 kilo of Beef Ribs. You can use the same spice for chicken and lamb soup.

Ingredients A
Loose spice mix:
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
3 cloves
3 cardamom

Ingredients B - for the sup bunjut
Spice mix in tea strainer/muslin parcel:
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 white peppercorn - you can use black or a mixture of peppercorn but I usually use white in the bunjut and add freshly crushed black pepper for seasoning
3 petals of star anise
some broken pieces of cardamom stick
a pinch of mustard seeds
a pinch of poppy seed
1/2 tsp fennel - optional but very good to add to fish soup/stew

Method:
Heat up the pot you're using for the soup and add all the spices listed as Ingredients B. Warm thoroughly for about 1-2 minutes. You can then transfer this to your mortar and pestle and crush lightly -maybe only 2-3 poundings and then quickly add it into the tea strainer/muslin sleeves.
Use immediately.
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last weekend and the week ahead

This week, I plan to share with you a recipe of Soto Daging - a noodle soup which is made with a Sup Tulang (literally Bone soup, in Malay) - beef rib soup. The post is quite lengthy because I want to share on how to make your own Malaysian spice mix for beef soup as well. So am going to break it into 3 posts, dotted throughout this week.
Last week we were all down with flu and this weekend past was a celebration of my father in law's birthday in Germany so we were away for the weekend. There was no big parties just time spent with family and friends, walks in and about the little town they live in and lekker dinner of cheese platter and hot and sour Szechuan Soup - a total triumph for my Mom in Law who made it from scratch!
I have a little helper planning my blog this morning...
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Monday, March 23, 2009

be back in a few

away recovering...

with some homemade remedy

honey+cinnamon+lemon+hot water = soothing tonic

and lots and lots of chicken soup.
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

somethings will leave me speechless

There are recipes and there are recipes. There are recipes that when you read, you'd immediately know it will be yummy. And with David Lebovitz, each of his recipe that I have tried has been more than yummy, they are sublime. And except for one, they work the first time. With him, you sort of know he has done all the work to make your life yummy.
Although I have tried a lot of his recipes before, some actually even became a staple in my dinner parties or morning coffee that I don't even need to read the recipes anymore, I have never blogged about them. I thought of this the first time I made these sugar puffs, why haven't I blogged about Dave Leb?


I can say all the photoes I took of the food I made were lousy. This is a lie, I never took any photoes of his recipes that I made. In fact I never even thought about it. I usually bake them, be happy and scoff them off or leave a few morsels to be enjoyed later.


So I will tell you what I said to my (German) Mom in Law whom
1 - everytime I bring or serve something yummy would ask if it was from my *vriendje*
2 - for a few years refused to get me Dave Leb's books from my Amazon wishlist for Christmas and got me David Sedaris and shopping vouchers from Douglas instead
3 - when I spoke of joining one of Dave Leb's famous paris chocolate tours thought I would pack all my things and never return


I told her David and me have a karmic relationship. Because everything that I made from his recipes and stories always work, I am scared to tempt fate by declaring to the world how much I love him. She, without batting en eyelash, looked at me and said,


"You mean he is like your dirty mistress? You are too embarass to show him to people on the street?"

Every year, I explained to her why it is nothing like that. But last year, I got so fed up of it, I told her...

"Yes he is my McSteamy."

and you know what? Just like that, at Christmas, I got all the David Lebovitz books I listed in my German Amazon wishlist.

And then, just like that, I decided to blog about this lekkerste OK OK more than lekkerste... it is verrukkelijk sugar puffs after I read the recipe and story here. It is shocking how easy and quick it is to make too. I used my magimix the first time and followed the recipe to a T. But with this one, I just used my whisk and mix a little oil to the butter I used on the muffin pan. I changed added orange blossom water to the sugar instead od cinnamon (did that the first time) and it was sublime. Like Amanda Hesser said "Part soufflé, part doughnut, part cinnamon toast". You thought you love it when you inhale the smell, then you take a bite and the crunch made you think OMG... then you get the souffle... and then.... well you just have to make it for yourself.

And just in case, I have pre-ordered this book from you know where... it's a coming out present I just have to get myself ;-)

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Salmon Curry


This is hands down, Q's favourite dish. He would share one whole curry salmon steak with me and still asks for more. And he eats it without drinking water, milk or lassi. I think if he can speak, he would ask for it everyday. So we're quite happy to wait for him to string a sentence for a few weeks more so we can probably enjoy salmon cooked in another way or Lamb and Beef Curry ;-)

Like Q, fish curry is my favourite curry. I like it done on the sour side with lots of tomatoes, green chillies, okra and aubergine and tamarind. I also like lots and lots of the fresh whole spices floating around and the fish is cooked on the bone. I usually choose the oily fish - mackerel and salmon being most accessible. Don't try it with tuna because it will be too dry. Red snapper and pomfret will be good too.

I think the oily fish stand up to the spices better and give a better definition to the curry. It is also important to note that this is more of an aromatic feast. The chilies though used in 2 forms - the fresh green chilies and the curry powder are not fiery as not to spoil the delicate flavour of the fish. They are used more to complement the other spices.

And one of the most important thing to have at hand - fresh curry leaves - the aroma is out of this world... and the taste without it is just flat. You can try it with dried leaves but you probably have to used 3 packets to get the same intensity. If it is not easily accessible to you where you live, you just have to order a lot and freeze. Frozen curry leaves although not as great as fresh is a thousand times better than the dried version.

And of course the fish has to be super fresh but I don't have to tell you that ;-)




Salmon Curry
ingredients:
3 salmon steaks - approximately 1kg
2 onions - sliced thinly
3cm ginger - sliced
3 garlic - crushed
3 green chilies - cut across
3 tomatoes - cut to four
1 sprig of fresh curry leaves
1 TBSP whole fennel
1 TBSP whole cumin
1 TBSP whole coriander
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 tsp fenugreek seed
1 tsp white poppy seeds powder(kas kas)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1-2 tsp chili powder (or you can use chili paste)
1 tsp amchur powder
1 TBSP tamarind - soaked in some lukewarm water and turned into a paste
2-3 cups of water
2 TSBP coconut milk (or less)
7 okras - topped and tailed but leave whole
1 aubergine cut into cubes
1 extra green chili
1 extra tomato
1 extra sprig of curry leaves
salt, pepper and sugar to taste


Method:
1. Clean the fish and set aside.
2. Heat a pot and add all the whole spices - fennel, cumin, black mustard seeds and fenugreek - and dry fry for one minute.
3. Add oil into the spice mix and let the oil and spices warm at the same time. Add the curry leaves.
4. Add the sliced onion, ginger, garlic, green chillies and stir to mix until brown for about 2-3 minutes
5. At this point add the tomatoes and stir some more.
6. Add in all the powdered spices - turmeric, chili, amchur and kas kas and sir some more.
7. Add a bit of water - about 1-2 Tablespoon. Mix again.
8. When you see the oil separating from the spices, you will see the paste change in texture and aroma - it would smell *cook*.
9. Add 2 cups of water and the tamarind paste. Let the mixture boil. Taste and season with salt, freshly cracked black pepper and a bit of sugar. The sugar is supposed to bring everything together.
10. When you are happy with the seasoning add the salmon and aubergine. If needed add extra water just to cover the fish.
11. Put the lid on, lower the heat and let everything simmer together until the salmon is half cooked. Taste again and season accordingly.
12. Prepare the okra just before you add them in, cube the tomato and cut the green chili across.
13. Add the vegetables, the coconut milk and leave to simmer again. The curry will now thicken and smell divine!
14. Taste for seasoning and add the extra curry leaves and serve.
Note:
1. Once the salmon is added, try to stir it as little as you can as to not breaking the fish. That is why you have to prepare the curry up to boiling and taste for seasoning (the first time) before you add the salmon.
2. It is really better the next day but usually we just can't wait...

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Bistro Mer at The Hague

Some places take your breath away even when you only saw black and white print on a magazine. You just know it is the kind of place you have to go to, for the food, the ambiance, the charm... the magic! I saw the pictures on Elle Eten and decided the next time we find ourselves in Den Haag, we should try Bisto Mer for dinner. And we did just that last week. We made a reservation for early dinner as we have a toddler to consider who no matter how well behaved, won't be able to restrain himself after a whole day of traveling and shopping and running errands.
We were happy to find ourselves the only patrons at 1730 and headed straight to the back where the beautiful conservatory was. The Art Deco interior was really enchanting. We decided to skip appetisers and ordered main courses instead. And thought we'd have dessert and coffee later and leave early to get the kiddies to bed on time.
The menu in Bstro Mer is not so extensive. It is more quaint, rustic and discerning. Don't expect to find a fusion dish or something too fancy on your platter. Instead think of your favourite seaside bistro in Marseilles and know you'll be in for a treat when you order a classic.
The other guests were trickling in by the time our main course arrived - lobster for me, grilled salmon for the kids to share and monk fish gratin for Terry. The lobster, imported from Canada was fresh, sweet and delicious. The sauce - garlic and herb butter with a generous sprinkling of black pepper brought out the best in the wild catch. We're told by the owner they have fresh local lobsters in May and we're looking forward to trying that.
Nabila wasn't too happy with her salmon. She found it a bit on the dry side but was very happy with her chocolate mousse. Q was happy with the salmon and finished three quarter of it. Terry wasn't happy with his monk fish as he felt it was overcooked and the gratin was on the rich side. We thought the next time we come, we'd try the seafood and oyster platter and leave the kids at home ;-)The main course came with side dishes of fries and fresh salad. The fries deserve a post of its own :P Service was warm, prompt and unobtrusive. By the time we left, the bistro was almost full. And we did arrive home early enough to tuck the kids to bed and read them each a little story ;-)

Bistro Mer,
Javastraat 9,
2585 AB's-Gravenhage,
The Hague.
Tel: +31 70 3607389
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Friday, March 13, 2009

mi hun sarapan


There is a wide variety of things you can eat for breakfast in Malaysia. There is even a variety of noodles served. At my parent's we usually have a choice of hot or cold breakfast. the hot breakfast was usually mee goreng (fried noodles), mihun goreng (fried rice noodles), nasi lemak, pancake or french toast.

The noodles served for breakfast were usually more modest than the ones served for lunch, dinner or at family gatherings. My mom didn't use any meat in them. Instead she used a lot of veggies, tofu, dried shrimps and some eggs. This is the kind of noodles that spells homecooked for me. And the kind that I really miss. Luckily the ingredients are not that difficult to find. Almost all the ingredients, including the fish sauce can be found in the supermarket. The only thing you have to get from the Asian store is the dried shrimp. You can of course add the ingredients as you please.

The secret to make it taste more authentic are to fry the shallots until it is brown but not quite crispy and to pound the chilies, garlic and ginger together. The browned shallot adds sweetness to the mi hun. And I don't even have to tell you that something magical always happens when you add a pounded chili paste into a hot wok.


Mi Hun Sarapan
ingredients:
half a packet of mi hun - soak in hot water for 5 minutes (or as per packet instruction and drained) until al dente - make sure it is not too soft otherwise it will break. Rinse in cold water and drain until ready to use.
2 shallots - slice as thinly as you can
2 garlic
1 cm ginger
2 chilies
a handful of dried shrimp - or less according to preference - soak in hot water then drained
an egg
1/2 tsp fish sauce
baby bak choy (or choy sum, taugeh, cabbage)
juice of 1 lime.
salt, pepper and sugar to taste

method:
1. Pound garlic, ginger and chilies until it resembles a paste. I didn't do this too finely as I like to bite a bit into the chillies. Add the dried shrimp and pound some more.
2. Whisk the egg lightly
3. Heat up the wok and add a little sunflower/vegetable oil.
4. Add sliced shallots into the wok and fry until it is brown but not quite crispy.
5. Add the chili and shrimp paste. Fry for 3-4 minutes.
6. Add the whisked egg and mix thoroughly.
7. Add a splash of fish sauce and season.
8. Add the noodles. Add a little bit of water so the mi hun soak in all the flavours and gets softened further (this is why you mustn't soak it till it is really soft).
9. Add the veggies.
10. Add a squeeze of lime and taste for seasoning. Serve.
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Sunday, March 08, 2009

how to cook salmon or why I am a smug mother...


I know I am rather smug when it comes to how great my children are with food. I just love the fact that they not only eat fish, they love them. And the fact that Nabila thinks Captain Igloo is yucky. It's easy to be a smug mom when you see how they eat fish - done in any way... and this in Quinten's second favourite fish dish - fried salmon. It is so simple; it is laughable to give a recipe. But this is how I do it - just heat up some vegetable oil in a pan. Add your favourite fish when it is smoking hot, season with white pepper. Today I used a 500g fillet I got from the market. Turn and cook for a few minutes more according to your liking and serve.
I serve mine with an instinctive lemon juice+red cut bird's eye chilies and light soy sauce dip. For the children, omit the chilies. A simple salad and some hot white rice. And you have a winning Sunday dinner! This pretty much sums up my idea of heaven.There is only one secret to it - get the freshest fish you can. Your children would love it too!
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Saturday, March 07, 2009

have a great weekend!


off to the farmer's market tomorrow. Looking forward to fresh spring offering and some seeds and plants for the garden.

The roses were from the market last week. I call it my credit crunch bouquet since all the foliage were from the bouquet I got from my in laws the week before (it was mom's birthday but I got flowers! I love my in laws). The pasta was dinner last Saturday - fresh parpadelle with meatball in Bolognaise Ragu.

Broodje Fritatta from lunch today... easy-peasy and totally delicious. And I just love the promise of spring by cherry blossoms, don't you?
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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Banoffee Mille Crepe

I have seen and made a few variations of this the Mille Crepe since I saw it at The New York Times. But this one is my favourite because it incorporate all the flavours I love with crepe. Flambeed banana, sticky salty toffee and Chocolate wrapped and more to casually poured over each piece. I always serve it with Gordon Ramsay's Bananas in Caramel Rum Syrup. Decadent I know but the kind of thing that would make any in laws felt appreciated and loved, especially on her 60th birthday.
The cake is assembled using various sources of recipes. The crepe and toffee sauce recipes are adapted from Gordon Ramsay's Just Dessert. The Ganache and Chocolate Sauce from Alice Medrich Bittersweet. And the crushed frozen bananas was inspired by James Martin.

You can make the ganache, chocolate sauce, sticky toffee sauce and frozen banana ahead and I think it would make things a lot easier.

The recipe

Sarah Bernhardt Chocolate Glace from page 236 of ALice Medrich's Bittersweet. I used this Ganache without any alteration because I find this is the perfect recipe (as in her note) for cakes that needs chilling and refrigeration. As I didn't make any adaptation, I will not reproduce the recipe here.


The Alice's Chocolate Sauce is from page 292 of the same book.

Frozen Banana

Put 6 bananas in the freezer over night. Take it out and leave to thaw in the fridge the morning you want to assemble the cake.

Crepe

(adapted from Gordon Ramsay's Just Dessert)

250g plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs

2 TBSP melted butter

500ml milk

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

sunflower oil to grease the pan

1. Place the flour and salt in a food processor and whizz together until thoroughly mixed.

2. Add half the milk, melted butter, vanilla extract and eggs and whizz some more.

3. Scrape the sides and with the motor running, add the rest of the milk.

4. Leave the batter to rest for 30 minutes if you like but this is not really necessary.

5. Pour the batter into a jug and have a small ladle ready.

6. Heat a 20-23cm crepe pan and add a few drop of oil to grease the pan.

7. Using the ladle, pour 4-5 tablespoon of batter each time. Swirl the pan to spread the batter as to coat the entire pan base evenly. Place the pan back on the heat and cook till batter is set and little bubbles appears on the surface.

8. Flip after 1.5 minutes. And cook the other side for only 30 seconds. Slide the crepe onto a clean tea towel placed on a wire rack. Repeat until batter is finish.

9. Leave the crepes to cool before you assemble the mille crepe cake.

note: gordon recommended to use 2-3 TBSP of batter for each crepe and to spread it as thinly as possible. I used about 5 TBSP and left it a little thicker. This is not an easy cake to assemble and the thicker texture helped a lot. And it is very important not to leave both sides of the crepes too brown the anemic side of the crepes make better *grip*.


Sticky toffee sauce

50g butter

1/2 cup of molasses

1/2 cup light muscavado sugar

2 TBSP golden syrup

1/2 cup double cream

1/2 tsp sea salt

Method:

1. Put the sugar, syrup and butter in a pan and slowly bring to the boil, allowing the butter to melt and the sugar to dissolve.

2. Let the mixture bubble for a couple of minutes before carefully adding the cream.

3. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until the sauce is thick, sticky and glossy.

To assemble the cake

1. Get everything mise en place.

2. Mash the frozen banana and add a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and 1 tsp of icing sugar. Mix thoroughly.

3. Layer the crepe on top of each other, alternating mashed banana and sticky toffee sauce until the entire crepes are used.

4. Put the smooth side of the pancake on top (the side that is not as brown as the one you cooked for 1.5 minutes). It looks anemic but it works better with the ganache.

5.Smooth the ganache on top with a palette knife, spreading to the edge of so it will drip to cover the sides. It will not be perfect but it will add to the character of the cake. Refrigerate to set.

6. Cut to serve, pouring chocolate sauce on top for extra oomph!


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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Chinese Corn Chowder




One of my earliest food memories is my mom shredding chicken on the kitchen table to make this soup. That was how I learnt to make this soup - by shredding chicken meat. We're a soup family. We have soup for dinner everyday.


This is a very quick soup to make and there is no chopping as long as you have the chicken stock ready. All you need is a can opener. It summer, make it with fresh sweet corn. It makes a very light soup but still filling.


The classic way to make this is usually to use cornflour as thickener and a little rice wine will be added. But I try dislike the taste of pasty cornflour in soups so that is omitted. And I think the addition of two eggs thickens the soup enough. The most delicious addition would be fresh crab meat but I don't have that in hand. Add a little Chinese black rice vinegar and some pickled green chillies and you'll be in for a treat.




The recipe
1l Chicken Stock
Make the chicken stock by combining 4 chicken thighs (or 10 pieces of chicken wings or a whole chicken) with one star anise, crushed ginger, lemon grass, one cinnamon, and 3 clove. Once the soup start boiling, add chopped celery, leek and carrot. Leave to simmer for about an hour. You make quite a lot from this so keep the rest for chicken noodle soup or as stock base.
shredded chicken meat from the chicken used to make stock.
200g of canned sweet corn - you can use cream or kernel.
2 eggs
a splash of rice wine - optional
salt and white pepper to taste

Method
1. Put a liter of chicken stock in a pot and leave it to simmer on the hob.
2. Blitz the corn in a food processor and add into the chicken stock.
3. Add the shredded chicken meat and a splash of rice wine and taste for seasoning. Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes.
4. Beat the egg lightly and add into the soup. Season, stir and serve.

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