Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chicken Chop With Mushroom Sauce (Recipe)

My wife wasn't around last Friday as she decided to chill out with her friends for dinner. As both of us like to cook and almost always never could agree who should cook , this was good news to my ears. With her out of the house, I seized the opportunity to take control of the kitchen. It's synonymous to those real life situations whereby the power crazy deputy prime minister takes over the country when the prime minister is overseas. And my god, it felt really good! No wonder these things do happen.

I have always been dreaming of making my own chicken chop so the timing couldn't have been perfect. While most of us would have some idea of the ingredients used to make chicken chop, I surfed the Net to look for some guidance. The only one I found was from Amy Beh. Here are the ingredients I used. I don't believe in giving exact measurements since taste is subjective. Just explore what suits you and always taste what you are cooking to get the right balance.
  • 1 piece of chicken breast
  • potato wedges
  • lettuce
  • tapioca flour
  • 2 finely chopped shallots
  • 1 finely chopped garlic
  • 1 egg
  • diced mushrooms
  • 1 green pepper
  • oyster sauce
  • Worcester sauce
  • thick cream
  • salt and black pepper (preferably peppercorn)
  • water
To cook, here are the instructions:
  1. Tenderise the chicken. If you have a contraption for this, that's fine. As for me, I dont and it all boiled down to brute force. I let my fists do the work.
  2. Marinate the chicken breast with Worcester sauce and leave to rest for 30 minutes
  3. While waiting, remove the skin of the green pepper. To do this, roast the pepper on your stove. The reason also is that it gives a smoky flavour and add another dimension to the taste. Along the way, you will hear some crackling noises. It truly freaked me out as I thought something might explode. (Just imagine the coroner's report - cause of death by green pepper. What a way to end your life). However, I later learnt that this just means that it's roasting. Keep rotating till every area has blackened. Once done, soak the peppers in cold water to stop the cooking process. Scrap off the skin with the sharp end of the knife and chop accordingly.
  4. Once the chicken breast has been marinated, dip it in egg before coating with flour. Cover all areas evenly. Add salt and pepper accordingly.
  5. Deep fry the chicken breast till golden brown.
  6. To prepare the sauce, saute the shallots and garlic followed by mushrooms and peppers.
  7. Add in the oyster sauce followed by water. To heat up things, add in the black peppercorn.
  8. Thicken the sauce by adding some cream.
  9. Pour onto the chicken and serve.

My chicken chop and potato wedges waiting in anticipation of the mushroom and pepper sauce. Bring em on - so they said.

The egg wasn't suppose to be part of the final presentation. Waste not, want not.......... I can't throw the egg away, can I?

I caused a riot in the kitchen and didn't look forward to cleaning up. My wife would know what to do if she's around.

Overall, it ended up better than I expected. The gravy was very nice, the chicken was tender and most importantly, it was fresh. Cant beat this.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Malay Food at Restaurant Minah (Gelugor)

Most people aren't aware that there are quite a number of good eating places for Malay food. I have to admit that Minah restaurant ranks among one of my list. It's located in Gelugor along the same row of shop lots next to Maybank. If you are coming from Bayan Lepas, you need to pass USM and after 1 km, you will come to a set of traffic lights. Proceed for a few hundred metres and you will see an entrance on your left leading you to the row of shop lots. For those of you coming from town, as you reach Gelugor, look for the Indian temple and the walkover bridge. Minah restaurant is directly opposite them.

Since it's located out of town, this unassuming restaurant is perhaps a well kept secret by those staying in the area. This second generation family-run restaurant serves good authentic Malay food. It's totally unpretentious because while the restaurant has been around for many years it still preserves the same recipes which were used when they first started. Additionally, it's probably one of the few restaurants (apart from fast food outlets & mamak stalls) where you can really experience the muhibah spirit because the clientele consists of a good balance of Malays and non-Malays.

I recommend that you try their specialities if you come here :
  • gado-gado
  • mutton kurma
  • fish curry
  • raw Malay salad with sambal belacan (long beans, cucumber and what not)
  • bryani rice - they don't serve this everyday so you need to ask

Assorted curries, rendangs and vegetables.

Gado gado in peanut sauce.

Fried chicken in spicy sauce.

While I was there last week, I had to trade off the mutton kurma since my wife doesn't take mutton. Nonetheless, the ikan bilis with petai is probably my favourite.

Minah restaurant is a great place to bring your family during the weekends especially if you feel like savouring Malay food. Overall, the food is great and the prices are quite reasonable depending on what you order. The full address of Minah restaurant can be found below:

Restaurant Minah
36S & T, Sungai Gelugor
11700 Penang
Tel: 04-6581234
Closes: Every Tuesday

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Japanese Groceries From Meijiya Mini-Market (Pulau Tikus)

I just came to know about this Japanese mini-market along Kelawei Road which is situated next to the Mobil petrol station. I thought this would be good information to share around especially for those who get most of their grub from the Japanese section at Cold Storage or Jaya Jusco. Meijiya would be another good alternative the next time you want to shop for your teriyaki sauce.

Meijiya is a chain of mini market from Japan that provides your basic Japanese grocery needs. The one in Penang is extremely popular with the Japanese expatriate community. The mini market has a cold section where you can get anything ranging from imported meat, vegetables, beers to assorted types of ice creams. The other section consists of shelves where you can get your biscuits, chocolates, sauces to your other basic daily necessities.

You will be spoilt for choice as Meikiya provides a good selection of pre-packed food and most importantly - noodles. My wife just loves Japanese noodles. Now that she knows of this place, I'm bracing the fact that we might be having noodles for dinner almost every day soon. Talk about self fulling prophecy.

Prices at Meijiya are higher than what you would have to pay at Cold Storage or at Jaya Jusco. Nonetheless for those Japanophile, places like Meijiya is a shopping paradise and provides a worthwhile experience. Meijiya opens daily from 10am till 9.30pm.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Indian Breakfast at Arati Vilas (Tanjung Bungah)

When ever my wife thinks of Indian food, one place comes straight to her mind. She was thinking that if you haven't been to Arati Vilas, you should make a trip there one day. Most people aren't aware of this place but if you run a search in the Internet, you find a lot of hits in the local food directories and forums. For directions, Arati Vilas is situated in one of the residential areas in Tanjung Bungah. As you pass the Penang Chinese Swimming Club and come to a set of traffic lights in front of the Tanjung Bungah Beach hotel, take the left hand turning and you should see Arati Vilas among the row of shop houses. The food is great, cheap and the environment is very relaxing. More importantly, it's a great place for anyone to chill out as it's located on a hilly area and the place is extremely airy.

You will know when you reach Arati Vilas. You cant miss it with the big sign. And if you see a lot of regulars sipping their cup of cha and chit chatting, you know it's the right place. I equate this place as the Malaysian version of Cheers where everybody knows everyone. You will see the same faces all the time after a while.

While they do serve the normal Indian delights like chappati, tossai, naan, iddili and other types of roti, they do serve an array of curries to go with rice. They use to serve the rice on banana leaf but that's not the case anymore. Arati Villas also caters for those who are vegetarians hence there are quite a good selection of vegetarian dishes to choose from. One of the key uniqueness of Arati Vilas is that it's popular with expats especially those under the Malaysia My Second Home programme. Some of them have built a strong bond with the owners that they are even consigning food to this cafe. Hence besides Indian food, you do get other assorted delicacies like apple pies, chicken pies and what not. Do note that they are only available after 11 am. We were there for breakfast and that's when they started dishing out hot dishes straight from the kitchen. They don't make huge portions for most items sold here so the food tend to finish a lot early.

What my wife like about this place is that they serve good puris. Try it when it's straight from the kitchen and make sure you have the thick potato curry to go with it. Anything less wont do. We also like the taukua and it goes well with everything.

They use to make their own nasi lemak but these days they are all on consignment. They are equally good and usually get sold by the early part of the morning.

Arati Vilas opens from 6.30 am till 12 pm except for Mondays. The full address of Arati is shown below:

Arati Vilas
9 Tanjung Bungah Park

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Homemade Katsu Kare and Chicken Karaage (Recipe)

We decided to do something different last Sunday. Instead of going to the mall like we normally do every Sunday, we decided to stay home for lunch. The whole idea was to expand our culinary range by trying out something we haven't cook before. We agreed to do something Japaneses since my wife is an avid lover of Japanese cuisine. After having narrowed down the choice to katsu kare and chicken karaage, it came down to who should cook. Since both my wife and I love to cook, it took more than just a session of paper, scissors or stone to decide the outcome. Eventually, I relented as should I continue to persevere on the matter, we wont get lunch done. She ruled the kitchen; at least for that moment while I contemplated ways not having to do the washing up later on.

Here are the list of items required for the kastsu kare:
  • Vermont curry mix - You can purchase the curry mix from Cold Storage or from Jaya Jusco. They in bar like form like what you get in chocolates.
  • 3 chicken breasts, diced and pounded till 2 cm thick. Kastsu kare as the name suggests is usually made of pork but we decided to substitute with chicken.
  • 2 small carrots
  • 4 potatoes
  • 4 onions

To cook, here are the instructions:

  1. Cut the meat (chicken, pork or beef according to your preference), onions, potatoes and carrots into bite size. Saute in the sauce pan till lightly browned.
  2. Add about 6 cups of water and bring to boil. Cook over low to medium heat for about 20 minutes till tender.
  3. Remove from heat. Break curry sauce mix into pieces (we used about 4 bars) and mix into sauce pan.
  4. Cook over low heat for another 20 minutes or until the curry thickens.

Here's the curry sauce mix that we used. It's easy to use, extremely yummy and more importantly, you can use it for 4-5 meals.

A snap shot of the ingredients that were used.

As for the recipe for the chicken karaage, here are the items that were used:
  • 2 boneless chicken - all cut in bite size.
  • bread crumbs (as shown on the picture below)
  • egg
  • 2-3 tbs of soy sauce for marinating
  • 2-3 tbs of mirin for marinating
  • garlic for marinating
  • grated ginger juice for marinating

To cook, here are the instructions:

  1. Combine all the marinate ingredients in a bowl and add the chicken to marinate for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Dip the chicken into the egg and coat with flour.
  3. Deep fry at 180 C for about 3-5 minutes until golden brown.

The bread crumbs that was used to coat the chicken. Not sure what the brand is since everything was written in Japanese. If you manage to figure it out, let me know.

The end result - crispy, golden brown chicken.

The combination of the kastu kare and chicken karaage with rice. Very delicious. You would think that you were in a Japanese restaurant having a meal. The kare sauce is what made this dish special.

Both recipes are really simple so give it a try. It would also save you quite a bit than having to go to restaurants. In fact, they were so good that I decided to volunteer to do the washing up. As the saying goes, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Right on!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Taiwanese Food at Taiwan Fast Food Restaurant (Pulau Tikus)

As my job entails me to travel frequently regionally, I have travelled to Taiwan many times before. For whatever reason after all these years, I still don't enjoy Taiwanese food very much. I have to admit there are places in Taiwan that serve extremely good food but they are usually high end restaurants and beyond the reach of the masses. In general, I just can't find any connection with Taiwanese food. My general perception is that they are blend and uninteresting.
However, I am willing to make an exception to this rule. My wife and I love this Taiwanese restaurant located on the 1st floor of Midlands shopping complex. It's run by a Taiwanese expatriate who has now made Penang her home. We always get so much satisfaction from the food she dishes out partly because they have been localised to our taste buds. For directions, just watch for this sign that says Taiwanese Fast Food. Take the staircase which leads you to the 1st floor. While it's quite hidden, the restaurant has survived since its inception in the early part of the millennium through the support of many regular patrons...including your truly. :)

As you enter the restaurant, you will quickly notice that the interior design of the restaurant is simple, comfortable and inviting. While the restaurant itself is relatively small, the effect of the lighting makes you perceive otherwise. Groovy.

While this restaurant serves both ala cartes and set orders, I would recommend that you opt for the latter. They are reasonably priced and range from RM 10-20 per set. Additional, each set comes in a tray consisting of a drink, soup, rice, vegetables, dessert and the main dish of your selection. The main dish consists of a wide selection to choose from ranging from pork chop, pig's tongue, shabu shabu to a variety of noodles. Wicked!

Here's a selection of drinks to choose from for your set menu. There's the bubble tea which I really enjoy. They come with the soft, chewy tapioca balls. As a matter of fact, they are even better than those I had in Taiwan. Other beverages to choose from are the green tea with tapioca balls, special fruit juice, ice mocha and a number of tea and coffee selections.

Grilled chicken set. My wife and I love this. The chicken is grilled with sweet sauce and tasted like char siu bak except that this one is a lot tender.

Chicken chop set. This set order is an all time favorite at this restaurant. It comes in a generous portion too which is why its popular.

Another dish that is popular with the patrons is the meat floss with rice set.

The owner is always exploring new recipes to include in her menu. She recently added the chicken with special spices to her menu.

Entrails in spicy soup. This dish is an acquired taste but the soup is nice though.
Pork chop set.

For side dish, I recommend the Taiwanese milk toast. They come in thick soft slices dabbled in milk. There's even a green tea toast as an option.

This is just some of the many noodles this restaurant serves - beef ball noodles.

For directions to the restaurant, the address is as follows:
488-D, 01-02, Midlands Center (Shopping Mall)
Burma Road, 10350
Just note that they are close on every Wednesdays. For the regular patrons, please note that they have just opened a new outlet at the basement of Gurney Plaza just beside Seoul Garden. See you there!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Homemade Chicken Teriyaki (Recipe)

I happen to chance upon this great video website called Video Jug and saw some great recipes. There are certainly a lot of websites out there that provide good recipes. However, Video Jug as it's name suggest comes with a step by step instruction in a video form on how to cook. I find this extremely useful considering my basic culinary skills. Since, it was raining heavily yesterday, it killed any plans to eat out. I decided to run through Video Jug and look for a recipe that wasn't too challenging; at least for now. I zoomed in on chicken teriyaki since my wife love Japanese food. Ironically, she's not having any of my chicken teriyaki since she's on some special diet. Otherwise, I would have scored some brownie points with her. Here's what I use to make my chicken teriyaki base on what I have:
  • Chicken
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Garlic
  • Bean sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Salt & pepper for seasoning
I took a shot cut and use a ready made teriyaki sauce which I bought some time back from Tesco. For those of you who want to prepare the sauce from scratch, you would need the following:
  • 2 tbsp sake (rice wine)
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp mirin sauce (sweet rice wine)
  • 2 tbsp sugar

First thing that you need to do is marinate the chicken with the teriyaki sauce together with some salt and pepper. Let the chicken absorb the sauce for about 15 minutes in the refrigerator. Heat the pan with vegetable oil and fry the chicken and garlic till they are brown. Pour in the sauce which is used to marinate the chicken. Cook till the sauce thicken and add in the bean sprouts and cabbage. I added them towards the end so that I can retain the crispiness of both the bean sprouts and cabbage.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hawker Food at Hong Kong Tea Garden Cafe (Georgetown)

I was at Hong Kong Tea Garden coffee shop a few weeks ago while on the way to Lorong Susu to buy some durians. It's located along Macalister Road just directly opposite the petrol station and Court's Mammoth. We normally stopped by at Hong Kong Tea Garden every time when we are at this area. It is an extremely popular eatery as the coffee shop itself is decorated with marble top tables and even offers air conditioned dinning experience within the premises. For those of you who like to slot it out in the hot air and prefer a close and personal dining experience with the hawkers, there is an open section too. The food hawker delights ranges from the all time favourite fried koay teow, fried oyster, clay pot noodles, grilled seafood, roasted duck, western food, dim sum and many more.

The Western food is nice and reasonable too. The toast bread that comes with it is uniquely done and the coleslaw is freshly made. This cost RM6 which I thought was acceptable. Nonetheless, I still prefer the Western food at Esplanade's food court.

The duck rice stall also sell koay chap. Besides the koay teow, it comes with a generous helping of duck meat and innards and what not. This is certainly a dish for those with an adventurous spirit.

For those less adventurous, you can get the usual sar hor fun with egg. This one is rather nice.

If you like some variety, you can also order the loh bak.

The wantan mee is reasonably ok and slightly on the expensive side.

Another hawker food that is popular here is the clay pot noodles.

During the day, Hong Kong Tea Garden offer dim sum from 5.30 am to 12 pm. On the other hand, in the evenings, it offers a selection of hawker delight from 6pm till 3am. For directions and more about their food offerings, please visit their website.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Penang Pasembur Along Persiaran Gurney (Gurney Drive)

As you drive along Persiaran Gurney, some of you might notice that there is a small food court along the beach front. I have been to the food court many times for the mee goreng and it's only fair that I pay it another visit. There isn't any specific name given to the food court and I usually refer it to the Persiaran Gurney food court. Just so you know where it's located, it's situated quite close to Mr.Pot cafe. There's nothing interesting about the food court except that there are only three stalls operating there. There's the mee goreng /rebus stall, the pasembur and the kopi stall. It's well known for the mee goreng and pasembur as the stall operators used to sell along Edgecumbe road. For most Penangnites, the Edgecumbe road mee goreng is highly reputable and it's made it's name way back during my father's era.

Here's a snap shot of the mee goreng stall. It's quite unique the way the stall owner prepares his food. He cooks all his ingredients separately and place them in trays. At first glance, you would probably think it's a nasi kandar stall. On the contrary, these are the ingredients which he uses when cooking the mee goreng.

I ordered the mee rebus instead as I haven't had it in a while. It was different as no sugar was added unlike other stalls. The gravy was strong, thick and slightly too spicy for my liking. It would have been perfect with less chilly. A plate of mee rebus would set you back by RM 3.50. For those with a bigger appetite, you can add additional sotong and what not to increase your pleasurable sensations.

This is the famous pasembur stall which used to sell along Edgecumbe road. All you need to do is to select what you want and place it onto the plate. Besides the items that you choose, it comes together with an assorted array of vegetables. I normally tell them to leave out the vegs.

Now. Who would come here and not have the pasembur? You won't be doing any justice to yourself. I had a mixture of the keropok udang, keropok kacang and tua kua and they come together with thick peanut sauce. I must say the pasembur does provide one with a bizarre eating experience. While the keropok udang and kacang are crunchy at the beginning, they will become mushy and soggy quickly if you do not keep working on them. Fortunately for me, I enjoy both contrasting textures.

Make sure you check the prices before you order your items. It's easy to get carried away dumping those stuff onto the plate. Before you know it, you probably blown a huge hole in your wallet like what I did.

While I was eating, I had this monkey to entertain me with somersaults and acrobatic stunts. Apparently, it belongs to the kopi stall owner. He uses the monkey to pluck coconuts to supply to his stall. Hmm. I take back my word about this place not being interesting. It looks like the monkey had the last laugh.