Tuesday, 1 September 2015

#ewew cooks Crispy Seabass by Urban Stove

Get ready for my restaurant-quality Crispy Seabass with Tomatoes and Capers in Butter Sauce.....with a little help, of course! ;D

I first got whiff of this through Sean's blog and was genuinely excited at the prospect of cooking and enjoying gourmet-like food in the comfort of my home.

I'm talking about Urban Stove's concept of home cooked food, without the hassle.  What more can one ask for when....
.....1)  they create the recipes
.....2)  they source the fresh ingredients (all properly measured and packaged)
.....3)  they deliver it to your doorstep
.....4)  you cook and enjoy the meal in the comfort of your home

So, what better incentive to sign up for their pre-launch deals from 12 - 15 August than an offer of a 30% discount, right?  I keyed in the voucher code eatdrinkkl to be eligible for the 30% discount (I could also have used the code MyFirstOfficialUSBox offered by Urban Stove themselves).  They were officially launched on 17 August with first deliveries shipped out on 26 August.

Each dinner box contains 3 meals for 2 pax (Couple Plan) and costs RM115 (making the price per meal @ RM19 per person).  So, for the pre-launch promotion, I only paid RM80.50 (or RM13 per person) thanks to eatdrinkkl.

I then got down to ordering my meals.  You need to select 3 from the 5 meal choices available in their weekly menu which were:

1)  Crispy Seabass with Tomato & Capers in Butter Sauce
2)  Chicken Piccata
3)  Chinese-style Sweet & Sour Chicken with Steamed Rice
4)  Cajun Chicken Salad
5)  Beef Shepherd's Pie with Mixed Salad

Initially, I chose 1, 2 & 5 but that wasn't possible as not all combinations are permitted (to ensure consistent pricing but what that actually meant was you can't choose all the pricier meals....hee...hee)!  So, I went with 1, 3 & 5.

Next, you choose your preferred delivery day (Tuesdays to Fridays) and time.  For delivery to business addresses, there's only one time slot (9am - 12pm).  For residential addresses, you can choose from 3 delivery time slots (9am - 12pm, 12pm - 3pm or 3pm - 6pm).

What was supposed to start off as a wonderful experience got off on the wrong foot delivery was late by an hour but that was not the issue as I can forgive the late delivery.  What pissed me off big time was the attitude of the delivery guy who called me numerous times to say he can't find my place.  Well, that's not my problem, is it?  You're the courier professional, you should find my place!  I gave him the easiest landmark but he still had no idea.  In the end, he told me that he's at a bank and, at that point, I was so furious I just told him I'd retrieve the dinner box from him there.  As I drove out, it started to pour and, needless to say, I got wet trying to retrieve a box which was supposed to be delivered to my doorstep!  Aaarrrgghhhh!!  [#P/S: Kudos to the Urban Stove's quick response to my email of complaint in less than an hour.  This clearly showed that they sincerely wanted to improve and provide the best service and food for their valued customers.]

That incompetent delivery guy took all the fun out of what otherwise would have been an overwhelming excitement of opening the box.  Anyway, this is how the dinner box looked like when it arrived. 

The box seems well insulated and contained ice packs (at the bottom) to keep everything fresh (for 12 hours according to their website) except that some of the plastic bags containing the food items were a bit wet due to condensation.

Inside the box, you'd find a welcome letter from Urban Stove as well as recipes for the meals with simple to follow instructions.

Since the ingredients can last 3 - 5 days in the refrigerator, that would mean you may have to cook whatever is in the box within 3 days for optimum freshness.  I refrigerated all my meals immediately (incidentally, the meat and fish come frozen) and cooked the first one the following day.
Meal 1 - Crispy Seabass with Tomato, Capers & Butter Sauce
All the food items were nicely portioned and packed...and properly sealed and labelled too (but, for some reason, the brown paper bag that contained the vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, lemon, shallot and parsley was very wet at the bottom, so much so that the bag gave way at the bottom).

The Ingredients:

Seabass fillets, potatoes (already parboiled), cherry tomatoes (a few were squished), capers, shallots, parsley, fish stock, unsalted butter and lemon wedge.

The Prep Needed:

Season the seabass fillets.
Halve the cherry tomatoes, slice the shallots and chop up the parsley.  This is the curly parsley which I find has no flavour (it's more for decoration purposes).  I would have preferred if they had given flat-leaf parsley instead.

The Cooking:
Just follow the simple instructions on the recipe cards.

The key to success of this dish is the cooking of the seabass fillets to ensure the fish is cooked perfectly with a crispy skin.  The fish is quite delicate so extra care is needed in the frying process.  The extra step I took was that I dusted a bit of flour over the skin to ensure it crisps up perfectly and does not stick to the pan. 
The already parboiled potatoes just needed reheating and seasoning.  I decided to cut it into chunks so that there'd be more surface area to absorb the seasonings.  The recipe said to toss in some olive oil but I added a bit of butter for a more buttery finish.  [#Note: I've only tossed two potatoes here coz I pan-fried the other two potatoes to crisp them up for my son who doesn't like parboiled potatoes.]

To make the sauce, simply follow the recipe and the sauce is done!  Easy peasy :)

The dish is ready for plating your seabass on top of a bed of cooked cherry tomatoes with your boiled potatoes (and garlic rusks, that's extra) next to it and drizzle more sauce around the dish.

Here's my Crispy Seabass with Tomatoes and Capers in Butter Sauce.  Now, doesn't that look like a dish right out of a restaurant's menu? ;)
And this is my son's version of crispy seabass, topped with fried garlic, with pan-fried potatoes and extra (store-bought) garlic rusks on the side but without the tart tomatoes and capers sauce (which he chose not to put on his plate).

My thoughts on the dish:

When cooking the fish, watch out for some's expected, after all, you're pan-frying in oil.  But you'll be more than pleased with the result, so the effort will be worth it.

I was happy with the dish...I would have preferred the parboiled potatoes to be a bit softer as they were a little under.  Other than that, everything else was alright...the fish skin was nicely crisped, the flesh was flaky and juicy...and definitely fresh.  I liked the slightly tart lemon-infused cherry tomato sauce with capers.  It made for a light, clean, refreshing taste with the seabass for a healthy meal.  So, if you're not a fan of all things tart, hold back on the capers and lemon juice in the sauce. 

I found the portion size just nice for me as I was fully satiated (with the addition of some garlic rusks) at the end of the meal.  A great dish for those who want to exercise portion control but may not satisfy a bigger eater (so, feel free to add on more potatoes, garlic bread or even a side salad). 

So, I'd gladly pay RM19 per person for this meal....good dish, clean taste, reasonable portions, fairly simple to execute! ;)
My Overall Thoughts

I shall provide my overall assessment of Urban Stove's meals only after I've cooked all 3 meals in my dinner box, so stay tuned for that!  Coming up next.....Meal 2 - Beef Shepherd's Pie with Mixed Salad :)


  1. it's great to read an experienced home cook's perspective on urban stove! sad to read about the delivery person (who really doesn't deserve his job, in this modern age of GPS - i shudder to think how many other homes he also gets lost going to), but happy to hear the sea bass meal was a success (looks and sounds tasty!). yay for fresh fish!
    oh, thanks for using the promotional code, heheh ... i had no idea whether anyone used the code, since i didn't ask the urban stove people (they're probably using it for tracking purposes only), and i was wondering whether anyone actually used it, heh :)

    1. I should be the one to say thanks....for the discount...and, more importantly, bringing my attention to this concept! ;)

  2. Now that looks a whole lot better than any at the upscale cafes and restaurants...and cooking one's own, bet it tastes a lot nicer plus it is a whole lot cheaper. Very nice, right down to your presentation of the dish.

    1. Thanks for the compliments...I wouldn't have been able to do it without "help" ;) Maybe I can take some credit for the plating only.....hee...hee! :D

  3. Ingenious.. even someone like me can cook this way... LOL! Yes saw it on Sean's blog too. What would you say the costs savings are doing it this way vs. buying our own stuff? Cheaper or more exp? :)

    1. Yeah, if you've done at least some light cooking before, you'll have no problem with this. The cost savings depend on what you compare it to....a dish from a nice café or something from your regular "tai chow" place. Stay tuned for my final thoughts on this concept.

  4. That looks good, Kris! So that's what you were up to during the long weekend :D Quite a novel idea, this Urban Stove's concept. I like it! It really takes the hassle out of figuring what to cook and then hunting for the ingredients. Can't wait to see your other 2 dishes!

    1. Yes, this idea of home cooked food without the hassle is great. The success of which will depend on the type and taste of the dishes they put out. But, since you're such a good cook already, you might not need this. These are meant for us...the average cooks! ;D

  5. So what they did was did most of the prep works before cooking, then packed them into proper portions for you. Seems like a fair price, RM 19 per portion then.

    1. If this service reaches Penang, maybe you can give this a try too. It's a lazy man's cooking style that'll suit you since most of the prep has already been done for you! ;D

  6. We haven't got such a delivery service over here in North is a very good idea that it comes with recipes.

    1. Let's hope the service reaches your shore one day! :)

  7. I read about this service in overseas blogs. Didn't know that it is now available in KL. Food looks good. Good for those who wants to cook but no time to buy and select the food.

    1. It's very new here, so not many people are aware of it yet, I think. It's a great concept for busy working families, I guess =)


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