Thursday, 30 May 2019

Madam Leow Penang Koay Chap @ SS2 PJ

A few of our go-to breakfast places to eat like Loong Seng (dim sum), Chan Meng Kee (wantan mee) and BBQ Soon Hing can be found nestled on this one street alone (in SS2/66).

And the last time we were here at one of these places, we noticed a new restaurant, Madam Leow Penang Koay Chap @ SS2 PJ in the same row.  New in the sense that we have not been there before but not new like it was just opened (it has been around since August last year).

The restaurant specialises in Penang koay chap, a dish that's quite rare in these parts of the Klang Valley. Besides koay chap, they also offer other Penang staples like Penang char koay teow and duck meat koay teow th'ng together with a few variations of fried rice (yong chow, sambal or salted fish), nasi lemak (plain, with curry chicken or pork rendang) and tong shui (sweet soups/desserts).

There was also a separate menu (this must have been added on recently) listing rice sets with black vinegar or braised angelica root pig trotters, braised chicken & bitter gourd in black beans, ginger duck, Chinese wine chicken and steamed minced pork with salted fish.

Of course we had to start with the famous Penang Koah Chap @ RM9.90...that's what they're known for and that's what I was here for.

The bowl of goodness came with a couple of pork belly slices, pork intestines, some scant slices of duck meat, hard-boiled egg and crispy pork lard in a steaming hot, darkly-coloured broth.

The mellow koah chap broth wasn't too herbal in taste with fragrance from the fried garlic bits and daun sup. I don't eat koay chap very often, so I'm not sure how this soup ranks in terms of taste but I certainly enjoyed it for its clean-tasting, mild flavours (since I dislike overly herbal tastes anyway).

But the thing I enjoyed most were the noodles, unique as they were, not the usual kway teow that you'd get elsewhere in this kind of dish, but rolled up rice flour sheets that's thicker than the texture of thin kway teow.  I liked the slippery smooth was nice.

The Pork Rendang Nasi Lemak @ RM11.50 was served with pork rendang (of course), half a hard-boiled egg, some decent quality ikan bilis and peanuts with cucumber slices and sambal.

This being a Chinese-style sambal, the sweetness from the plentiful onions resulted in a sweetish, non-spicy rendition.  The good thing was that the sambal was not oily.

The pork rendang had good flavours reminiscent of a good (Chinese-made) rendang but not quite in the same league as a Malay-style rendang (of course).  The pork could probably have benefited from being cut into smaller pieces to render more flavour into the meat + make it a tad more tender but still a successful pork rendang.

The Nasi Lemak Biasa @ RM6 comes with a whole hard-boiled egg but sans the pork rendang.  Overall, it's a pretty decent Chinese-style nasi lemak I have to say.

I was intrigued by Igor's Penang Char Koay Teow @ RM11 (with duck egg, RM9.50 with chicken egg) when I saw it on the menu on my maiden visit (and smelled it in the air when it was being fried).  Now who is this Igor?  Sounds Russian...haha! :D  On googling, there is indeed an Igor Penang Char Kuey Teow in Damansara Perdana.  Not sure if it's related to the one here.

Anyway, the plate of CKT arrived with all the trappings needed for the making of a good CKT...fresh and good-sized prawns, slices of lap cheong (Chinese dried sausage), crispy chee yau char (pork lard), crunchy beansprouts and fragrant Chinese chives.  Only thing lacking was the teeny-weeny see hum (cockles) we got that day (it was so tiny, you can't even see it) + I wouldn't mind the noodles being fried a little longer for a bit more charring/wok hei.  Nonetheless, it was a pretty good plate of CKT. ^o^

Over two visits, we also managed to try some of their rice sets starting with the Steamed Minced Pork with Salted Fish @ RM10 served with plain rice.

This is a very homey dish that many households make at home as it's an easy dish to cook.  This one, with probably some tung choy (preserved cabbage) in it, wasn't quite salty needed more salted fish (and I wouldn't mind more of that saltish chup (soupy gravy) too to pour over the rice! ^.^

I also tried the Chicken with Whole Garlic & Chinese Wine @ RM10.  It came with 4 good-sized pieces of chicken and I loved the lightly browned garlic cloves that were immensely soft and garlicky.  The sauce did have a hint of wine but it was pretty muted though (overall) the sauce was very tasty.  I scooped every last drop into my rice.

The latest addition that's not on the menu (yet) but plastered on the wall is Tau Yu Bak (braised pork belly in soy sauce, RM11).

The side dishes (or add-ons) here are mostly the same ones you'd get with the koay chap like braised duck, pork belly, small intestines, tofu and egg.  But there's Orh Kueh (Yam Cake) @ RM4 which my husband loves but says this one doesn't have that much yam bits in it...and I have to agree.  It can't hold a candle to the old lady's yam cake (in Paramount Garden) though but it's still alright by my standards.  I liked it because of the contribution of those fine crispy bits on top together with the fried shallots.  I'm not sure what they were but they had a saltish aftertaste, so I'm guessing it's dried preserved radish.

They also offer tong shui (or sweet soups/desserts) of peanut, red bean, green bean, mak chuk (bubur gandum)fu chuk, barley & gingko, black glutinous rice, sweet potatoes & ginger, white fungus & lemon and bubur cha cha.  I had the Bubur Cha Cha @ RM4.50 which had big chunks (I would have preferred them cut into smaller cubes) of yam and sweet potato cooked till soft together with sago.

The sweet soup was mildly santan-ish and suitably sweet.  Would I have liked it thicker?  Sure...but not overly thick until it's cloying.  Some would definitely prefer it with a more robust coconut milk flavour.  But this one was missing the tapioca flour cubes that I love (not many bubur cha cha I've eaten have these coz they're pretty time consuming to make).  My late father-in-law was very good at making bubur cha cha.  His was one of the best I've ever eaten...and his had tapioca flour cubes in it!  I tried making these tapioco flour cubes once but failed miserably! :P

My husband had the Fu Chuk, Barley & Gingko @ RM4.50.  Of all the tong shui, this happens to be my least favourite as I don't like gingko.  I would even fish out the gingko from my chawanmushi. ^_*  The other thing I don't like is white fungus.

For drinks, you're limited to Lemongrass & Ginger @ RM2.70, Pandan Barley, Chinese tea, water and canned soft drinks.

My Personal Opinion

On both my visits here in the mornings (on Sundays), I noticed that the place isn't swarmed with customers, usually only 3 - 4 tables are occupied, compared to the always full 'occupancy' of the other eateries on this street.  The near empty place isn't, by any means, a true reflection of the taste and quality of the food served.  I'm surprised that we don't have to jostle for a seat here at breakfast time since the food isn't half bad.

If I were to guess, it's probably down to one of two reasons...the higher average prices of RM10 - RM12 for a dish may be a deterrent for some (especially when there are cheaper alternatives on this street) or the food offered (mostly rice dishes with the exception of 3 noodle dishes of koay chap, koay teow th'ng and char koay teow) seems more suited for lunch or dinner.  Well, they do open closer to lunch time (@ 11) on other days except weekends.

I'm leaning towards the latter.  Hopefully that is the case coz it'll be a shame really as I thoroughly enjoyed the food here, maybe not the best around but certainly better than average.

Hmmm, I'm already thinking what I'll have on my next visit...probably the braised duck, intestines, tofu and egg with rice (or maybe the duck koay teow th'ng)...and another bowl of tong sui! ^_~

Madam Leow Penang Koay Chap
No 30 Jalan SS2/66
47300 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 012-480 0970

Monday, 27 May 2019

#ewew cooks Mamak Mee Goreng

Since discovering the beauty of using a freshly made chilli paste (and how easy it was to make it from scratch), I've begun to experiment (and use) it incessantly in my cooking.  Now, why didn't I discover this sooner? ;)

It adds so much freshness and taste to any dish.  It's especially good in fried rice and fried noodles.  I've since used it to great success in a home-cooked version of Mamak Mee Goreng which, before this, I thought I could only order at mamak restaurants.

You start by pounding or blending an easy-to-make fresh chilli paste...the same one I first made to cook my Shrimp Fried Rice.  The paste is made with 2 red chillies (or substitute with 8 bird's eye chillies for more heat), 4 cloves of garlic, 6 shallots and a knob of ginger (about an inch).  And the best thing is, you don't even need a recipe for the chilli paste, the amount of each ingredient can be varied and it won't really affect the taste too much.  If you like more garlic, put in more, if you like more shallots, use more and if you like more heat, add in more chillies...anything goes! ;)

Actually, I've never ever fried any kind of noodles at home before (until I started to made my own fresh chilli paste) as I thought it wouldn't be any good fried with just soy sauce.  Fry half of the chilli paste (about 3 heaped tbsp) in 2 tbsp of oil for about 1 - 2 minutes until aromatic (use more chilli paste if you like a more robust flavour).

Push the chilli paste to one side of the pan, drizzle in another 1/2 tbsp of oil and add the shrimps with a little bit more garlic.

Next, add the finely shredded carrot (first) and fry till the carrot has soften.  This has always been my bone for contention when eating mee goreng at mamak stalls (or any dish with carrots at Malay or Thai stalls) coz they're usually hard and I've always hated that...and that's because they like to add in all the vegetables at the same time.

Once the carrot shreds are well softened, add the other vegetables of choy sum (Chinese flowering cabbage) and taugeh (beansprouts).  Stir-fry these for only a few seconds as they'll continue to cook further during the noodles stir-frying process.

Push all that to one side, add another 1/2 tbsp of oil and crack an egg in.  Break up the yolk with your spatula.

Stir the eggs around the pan until the egg bits are cooked but not necessarily fully cooked.

At this point, add in the mee (I used half of a 450g packet of yellow mee) and season with 1 tbsp of sweet soy (kicap manis), 1/2 tbsp of dark soy (kicap pekat) and 1/2 tbsp of light soy (you can crank up the light soy if you like it on the saltier side).  Stir the noodles around until the sauce is well mixed in.  Taste to see if you've got the seasoning right.

#Interesting Tip:

Now, how the yellow mee should be treated (before being fried) is a cause of contention.  Since I've never fried yellow mee before, I had to do some research and get advice from the cooking guru-s.  Some say you have to rinse the mee first (method 1) while others (like phonghongbakes) say you don't have to (method 2). I even read from the papers that some would even boil the mee first (method 3) before frying as it would take away the bitterness of the mee (it seems).  Ai, I've always had the impression that the bitterness is due to the quality of the dark soy used.  So, which method did I use?  Read on to find out. ^_~

But you certainly have to fluff up (separate) the noodles.  With some brands, the mee may even be stuck together, so I would even painstakingly separate the stuck strands one by one with my fingers.  Trust me, it's worth the extra effort.  That way, when it's fried, it won't clump together.

Once the sauce is well incorporated and the noodles are almost done, add in some finely sliced red chillies (for more oomph and colour).  The dark soy tends to caramelise and stick to the bottom of your pan, so add a little water to lift up all those yummy bits from the bottom of the pan (similar to deglazing the pan in western-style cooking).

My Mamak Mee Goreng is done :)  Does it look anything like the real deal? ;P

Well, here's the real deal for comparison.  Same Same? :D  Hmmm, almost...maybe?  If you like it spicier, use more chilli paste or throw in a few fiery, whole (but smashed) green cili api at the end, like what the mamak restaurants do.

I actually love to eat mee, so it makes sense that I'd love mee goreng.  If it's curry laksa, it had to be mee & meehoon.  If it's prawn mee, it had to be mee & meehoon.  If it's char kway teow, it had to be mee & kway teow.  Even when I tapau fried mee & meehoon from those Malay or Chinese stalls, I always ask them for more mee and less meehoon...hehe! ;)

Sorry but I have to blow my own trumpet.  Who knew that my home-cooked Mamak Mee Goreng (with shrimps) would turn out so successful. ^o^

I cooked it again using the balance half of the yellow mee (with restaurant-bought fish cakes) and it was just as delicious the second time round.  Next time, I'm thinking I might even want to add some beancurd puffs (like how some mamak restaurants do it).  As a yardstick, a packet of 450g yellow mee should feed a family-of-three nicely (but also good enough for two portions of cooking with one portion able to feed two smaller tummies).

Now, coming back to whether you should rinse your yellow mee first or not, I'm glad to report that I tried both methods...and both options work.  No, I didn't get soggy noodles with rinsing them first (just make sure you drain well), neither did the noodles stick to the pan (use a non-stick one for ease of frying).  I think rinsing the noodles first got rid of or, at least, reduces the alkaline flavour in the mee, so this would be the option for me.  But I certainly won't boil the noodles first as I think they'll end up too soft and overcooked when fried.

When I'm at mamak restaurants, this is one of my favourite dishes to eat (besides roti telur) but I've seen some use the curries they cooked (which may not be at its freshest) to flavour the noodles while some versions are simply too oily.  Cooking your own version at home will (at least) be fresher and a little healthier as you'll be in control of the oil and ingredients.

I think the three key success points to a good mee goreng (or at least the one I cooked) is the use of sweet soy and a freshly blended chilli paste, the effort to fluff/separate the noodles and not frying too big a portion at one go (just like why char kway teow tastes the best when fried plate by plate).  Sweet soy has both the properties of a thick, dark soy together with some sweetness (and I'm beginning to discover the delight of using kicap manis in my cooking).  The caramelisation of the sweet soy lusciously coats each strand of mee for a tasty mouthful.

If someone like me, who has never ever fried noodles at home in her life, can make a success of this, so can you!  Try it once and you'll realise it isn't that difficult to do.  And maybe....just maybe, it'll be the start of many noodle-frying and wok-ing sessions in your home! ^.^

Serves 1 very hungry person or 2 people who are trying to eat less carbs

Friday, 24 May 2019

My Container Collection

I'm obsessed with tableware, especially crockery.  Whenever I'm out shopping, the kitchenware section is one of my favourite sections to explore and spend time browsing in.  I would buy (or be tempted to buy) all sorts of crockery.  And I end up with a collection that's more than I'll ever need or can ever use.

Besides crockery, I'm also container-obsessed, I collect hoard containers of all shapes and sizes.  The Tupperware brand is a favourite of mine.  I just love that they come in many sweet pastel colours and I have loads of them (and this isn't all of it!).  Maybe I'll show you my Tupperware collection in detail one day...hehe! ;)  I don't think there's a single household who doesn't own at least one Tupperware.  I still love them but I've stopped buying them already since I've more than I need.

But these days, I'm into freezer-safe glasslock containers and the reason for the shift is because I've started to do food prep and freezing (thanks to a blog I follow)..and for the convenience of reheating, only glass containers will do as they're microwave, oven and dishwasher-safe (not that I have a dishwasher!), also lead and BPA-free.  Great for steaming (via stove top or induction) too.

#1 - Basic Living (Glass Keeper)

My collection started with Basic Living's Glass Keepers...two round (350 ml), two square (475 ml) and two rectangle (400 ml) containers...a modest 6 pieces initially.  Made of borosilicate glass with excellent thermal properties, they can handle heat up to 300°C.  And between the square, round and rectangle containers, I prefer the square ones as they lock much easier than the round ones though the round ones tend to be easier to eat from.  These cost between RM15 - RM18 for one.

#2 - Glasslock (from Korea)

My second addition were these two Glasslock rectangle containers (715 ml).  I was attracted tricked by the Buy 1 Free 1 gimmick at RM39.90.  On hindsight, that's probably a more realistic price for two containers.  I liked these ones the least as they're made of tempered glass and has a lower heat resistance (of 120°C only)...and it didn't say oven-safe.

I don't know what I bought but I got this Glasslock glass for free.  It seems you can microwave this glass, cover and all, but 380 ml is too large a cup/glass of coffee for me.

Maybe I can use it to store/freeze one small portion of soup. :P

#3 - Daiso

Then I got these rectangular ones (400 ml) from Daiso at the spur of the moment as I couldn't get past the awesome price of RM5.90 each.  But cheapest is not necessary the best.  The lids need more effort to lock.  Now I'm even afraid they may not be heat resistant, so I dare not use them in the oven! >_<

#4 - Bros (Click-In)

I needed some with bigger storage and bought these larger containers (800 ml) on offer, value pack of two for RM35.90.  This Bros brand is even more heat resistant at 400°C!

I thought this one with divided compartments (1000 ml) was rather cute and would be great for storing/reheating two separate dishes to be eaten with rice.  So I couldn't resist getting one at RM35.90 also.

#5 - Basic Living (Glass Keeper)

I liked the Basic Living ones the most coz they were of a better quality than the rest, so I went back and got one more large glass container (850 ml), this time at a discount for RM23.50.  These bigger containers are ideal to store bigger portions of food like cooked salads and pasta sauces.

#6 - Jamie Oliver's Storage Collection

And then Aeon ran a promotion for containers redemption.  Of course, I wanted them...who wouldn't...they're, after all, containers that Jamie Oliver lent his name to.  They sold so well that I had to pre-order mine (pay upfront too) and waited 2 whole months (!) for them.

Made from borosilicate glass as well, I redeemed the round (280 ml) and rectangular (470 ml) ones for RM9.90 and RM13.90 each (with the use of stamps).  Jamie Oliver's collection is stylish, top-quality and the classiest of the lot.  Plus this one, the lid (which you can slide open and close) can even be used in the microwave oven.

My collection now boasts of 10 different sizes from the smallest at 280 ml to the largest at 1000 ml.  I think that's quite sufficient for now, don't you?  Hehe! ;)  If I need to add to my collection, it'd be the 350 - 475 ml ones as I find those the most ideal size to store/freeze one portion of food (for me)...and if I need bigger portions, I can always defrost two smaller containers.  And I would choose the Basic Living brand, even though they're the most expensive of the lot, for their quality.

Lately, I've also started to buy/collect these plastic containers when I saw them offered by Aeon.  They're ideal for storing raw food in the freezer which means I no longer need to resort to single-use (or recycled) plastic bags in my freezer anymore.  Using these plastic containers is a lot more hygienic too, not to mention environment-friendly, as they can be washed and reused resulting in less plastic waste.

I like that they come in many sizes and the covers are very easy to open (when frozen) unlike some Tupperware containers.  They cost only RM9.90 for one stack and you get anything from 2 - 5 nos in each stack depending on the size of the containers.

They're available in 6 sizes from as small as 90 ml to 180 ml, 270 ml, 400 ml, 630 as large as 850 ml...and I got myself 4 sizes.  The smaller containers are great for storing things like minced meat, chicken fillet or prawns.  The larger ones are good for storing say pork ribs or chicken pieces.

I found the smaller containers to be the most useful for my needs.  That way I can defrost just the amount I need to cook and keep the rest fresh by not defrosting the whole lot and refreezing what I'm not able to use (and if I need to cook a bigger quantity, I just defrost an additional container).  It's not ideal to freeze, defrost and refreeze raw food as it leads to contamination.

The containers are made of see-through plastic, so the contents are easily identifiable.  The covers are also designed in such a way which make them stackable on top of one another with ease.  It's space-saving and neat-looking when used in the freezer...and I end up with a much more organised freezer in the process.

And when not in use, they can be neatly stacked away and saves space too in your kitchen cabinet.  I liked them so much I've since added even more to my collection as I found them tremendously useful for my freezer storage purposes (I now have close to 30 pcs..hehe!) whilst eliminating/reducing single-use plastic bags.

So, from glasslock to plastic to Tupperware containers, it's obvious (in my case) that I have one for every purpose.....kekeke! ;D  Now that I've 'invested' in so many glass containers, they must, of course, be put to good use.  They're great for batch-cooking for freezing...and perfect for storing leftovers for reheating too.  Should I show you some of my food prep and freezing? ^_~

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