Tuesday, 26 November 2019

How many ways can you eat pork lard?

Ah, pork lard (or chee yau char).....crispy little nuggets of pure of the most unhealthy things on earth one can eat....but also one of the most satisfying! :D  I've not come across someone who doesn't like pork lard.....yet.

In a western-style dish, the chef would always try to put a crispy element on the plate to provide a textural contrast to the palate.  And I guess, in the same way, the Chinese do that too...with pork lard! ;D

Well, we don't usually consume it on its own (not that I say you can't).  It's usually a condiment that we have with something else to amp up the flavours of the dish even more.

#1 - With Rice

Of course the very first way to have it is just with plain rice.  I've heard some bak kut teh places serve pork lard rice that way (but I've not been fortunate enough to encounter such BKT shops...but then I don't eat much BKT), so my pork lard rice experience has always been with other goodies in the rice bowl as well.

#2 - With Pork Noodles

Probably one of the most common noodles that comes with pork lard is pork noodles.  Well, since it's a bowl with all sorts of porky ingredients, it might as well include crispy pork lard too. ^o^

#3 - With Fried Hokkien Mee

What is fried Hokkien mee without pork lard?  So this is certainly the other noodle that you'd most commonly find served with pork lard...and one that'll get you the most.  Some stalls top their fried noodles with more pork lard (maybe to make it more visible) though I can't say I'm a fan of that.

I prefer my pork lard to be tossed with the noodles as it's somehow much tastier that way to me...coated in the dark sauce and all.  That could be the reason why I don't usually request (or pay) for additional pork lard (when it comes to fried Hokkien mee) just in case it comes sprinkled on top.  

#4 - With Kuey Teow Soup

Whether it's kuey teow soup or fish ball noodles, you can expect a sprinkling of fried garlic or pork lard (or, even better, both) on top.

While a Penang-style kueh teow th'ng might come with pork innards and coagulated pig blood (or with duck meat and blood).

#5 - With Nasi Lemak

We've all eaten nasi lemak, be it Malay or Chinese-style ones, but have you had one where the sambal contains pork lard? ;)  Well, they simply make that by stirring in some crispy pork lard into a sambal of onions and chillies...extra yum :)

#6 - With Char Kway Teow

A good char kway teow needs pork lard oil and crispy pork lard to make the noodles fragrant although this is probably the dish that comes with the least pork lard (CKT sellers are very stingy with it while some don't even have it)! >_<

#7 - With Prawn Mee

Pork lard with prawn mee was the most surprising for me coz it's kinda weird if you ask me.  Predominantly, it isn't usual at all for pork lard to be served with prawn mee.  I've only encountered such a case in one prawn mee though.

#8 - With Wantan Mee

It's also possible to expect dry wantan mee to come with a few pork lard crisps since the dark sauce + oil concoction used to toss with the noodles may be made with pork lard oil for a more flavourful sauce.

Not only does it happen with local-style wantan mee, you may find some crispy pork lard hidden among the noodles of a Hong Kong-style one with shrimp roe too.

#9 - With Penang Koay Chap

Again, similar to pork noodles, since the dish is already made up of pork belly and innards, you might as well include some pork lard to go along with it.

#10 - With Pasta

But pork lard with pasta is something quite let this be known that this is a Malaysian-ised version of pasta, of course (otherwise westerners' eyes will certainly pop out of their socket thinking we 'desecrated' their pasta dish).

#11 - With Beef Noodles

Even beef noodles are getting in on the action by adding pork lard crisps to their dry lai fun noodles.  Well, if you can't beat them, you might as well join them.

#12 - With Sam Kan Chong Noodles

You won't find many sam kan chong noodles serving it with pork lard...only a few.  This one is unique as it's also uncommon to serve it with fried intestines! :P

#13 - With Mee Pok

When it comes to mee pok (or bak chor mee), pork lard croutons make or break the dish since the noodles are tossed in a subtle (or bland to some) sauce of vinegar and oil, so it certainly needs the pork lard to amp up the flavours.

#14 - With Kai See Hor Fun

In a bowl of kai see hor fun (just like fish ball noodles), you may find it served with some fried pork lard and garlic too.

#15 - Or just about with any dry noodles

Basically, you can expect to find pork lard crisps in just about a bowl of dry noodles of any kind seeing that dry noodles are usually tossed in a mixture of oil (or pork lard oil) and dark soy sauce.

#16 - With Vegetables

Even vegetables have jumped on the bandwagon by serving them with pork lard croutons.  Not that I'm complaining.

#16.1 - With Kangkung

#16.2 - With Choy Sum

#16.3 - With Cabbage

I think it works best with stir-fried vegetables to make it really tasty...and not with blanched vegetables.  The one paired with cabbage turned out to be the one I enjoyed the most.

Pork lard has become so popular that food vendors have become creative to come up with different flavours these days such as garlic, curry, salted egg, malattom yum, BBQ, belacan, (even) cheese (!) and more.  It's even rumoured that pork lard (much like shortening) makes pastries (think egg tarts) and cookies extra crumbly...and delicious. ^_~

Praise the Lard...haha! ^.^  Love them.....or hate them!  If you're the former...what's your favourite way to eat them?  And haters...maybe you're just trying to convince yourself (unsuccessfully) that you don't like them...kekeke! ;)  

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Restoran KM Corner @ Pandan Indah

I don't really find the need to know many good mamak restaurants as they serve almost similar food.  As long as I can find a decent one in my neighbourhood, one is all I need...and that's the one I eat at.

I used to patronise one mamak shop in my housing area until the cooks started returning to India one by one and their replacements didn't live up to the same tasty standards.  So, I bolted and found another shop (that tasted even better) but that one had to relocate when the owners took back the space.  They relocated to the shop behind (the back of a florist shop) but it didn't have the proper amenities of a kitchen, so it's a no go for me.

So that led me to go in search of my third mamak shop and found it in Restoran KM Corner @ Pandan Indah, and lo and behold, this one is even better than the first two.  Then I found out that a friend (who lives nearby) also eats at this very mamak shop.  Sometimes, something can be right under your nose without you even realising it.  Everyone is familiar with mamak food, so let the food speak for itself.

Not only is mamak food good tasting, it's also super affordable.

Roti Canai @ RM1.20

Roti Telur @ RM2.20.  The roti is always crisp here and they serve it with two curries (a really good dhal and a fish curry) together with a not-so-common but not-too-bad sambal.

Nasi Lemak Bungkus @ RM1.50 (these pre-packed nasi lemak is only available in the mornings while stocks last).

Add on a fried egg for a Nasi Lemak (with Telur Mata) @ RM3.  The sambal for the nasi lemak is the same one that's served with the roti.  Pretty decent nasi lemak from a mamak place.

Gulp that down with a glass of Teh Tarik Panas @ RM1.50 for breakfast, my default drink whenever I'm at mamak stalls.  Always frothy but usually too sweet (so remember to ask them to dial down the sweetness).

For lunch or dinner, you might want to go for the goreng-goreng stuff (some of which are also available at breakfast time).

Maggi Mee Goreng @ RM4.50

Mamak Mee Goreng @ RM5.  There's something about this noodle that sits comfortably with me.  These two fried noodles are quintessential with any mamak offering.

Nasi Goreng Kampung @ RM6.  Besides all the noodles goreng, no mamak place is complete without an array of different types of nasi goreng.

Mamak Nasi Goreng (or Nasi Goreng Biasa) @ RM4.50.  This fried rice is probably the one that's open to the most interpretation.  Every mamak will have their own version.

Nasi Goreng Paprik (Seafood) @ RM8.  Paprik (choice of chicken or seafood) is one of my favourite dishes to have as the sauce, both spicy and sourish, is very appetising and usually eaten with plain rice.  But, of course, it can be turned into a nasi goreng dish as well for a yummier paring.

Paprik Seafood with Nasi Putih (white rice) @ RM9.50 with additional Telur Dadar (omelette) @ RM1.50 is a complete meal by itself with protein, egg and vegetables.  Though I wouldn't associate paprik as a true-blue mamak offering, we can't deny that many mamak restaurants these days have Malay cooks as well.

Indian-style Ayam Goreng (1 pc) @ RM4 is a staple at any Indian/mamak restaurant.  Again, the marination and batter is different with each restaurant.  Since they're unlike a banana leaf rice restaurant, their goreng goreng stuff are not fried to order.  So, the fried chicken is pretty juicy and crispy (a favourite of my spouse with rice) when you're lucky enough to get them right after they've been fried (usually twice a day, other times, they might be a bit drier).

Though the options of dishes with rice are lesser than a banana leaf rice restaurant, you can still have a decent rice meal with the dishes they offer like this Fried Tenggiri with Cabbage & Hati (chicken liver) @ RM10.

The Kentang Goreng (Fried Potatoes) @ RM2.50 here is coated in the same batter mix as the fried chicken, so they're not only crispy (best when they come out freshly fried) but flavourful too (I especially like the crispy curry leaves).  These, besides the various curries, make for a nice accompaniment with rice as well.

My Personal Opinion

I don't know how long this mamak restaurant has been around (I'm guessing a long time) but I only started patronising in the last one year.  Well, it's true, sometimes the thing you've been searching for could be right in front of you.

It serves one of the more crispy roti canai/telur I know and their sambal (which is closer to a Malay-style sambal) is pretty good too (I guess having Malay cooks help in this aspect as their goreng goreng dishes work).  I also like that the place is considerably cleaner (and brighter) than most mamaks I've been to.

Now, it's my family's go-to mamak in our neighbourhood.  Can't believe I've visited only recently.  Oh well, better late than never, right? ^_~

Restoran KM Corner
No 47 Jalan Pandan Indah 1/20
Beautiful Pandan
55100 Kuala Lumpur

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Show Canned Food Some Love!

If you happen to be a health freak, you can stop reading now.  But, if you're like me, who eats healthy too but is not a complete health psycho, then some canned foods may yet feature in your life! ^_~

I know canned food isn't the best for us but I can't deny that I do like to eat some of them, both for the taste and the ease of preparation.  All of us have one of those days when we're too lazy (or tired) to cook (hey, good cooks need good rest too) or don't want to brave the rain to get food.  Those are the days when canned food comes to the rescue.

So, do you eat any canned food at all?  If you do, what are some of your favourite canned foods you just can't do without?  Here comes ten cans/brands (with a free endorsement from me...haha!) which you'll probably find in my pantry at any given time (even though there are way more types available in the market).

#1 - Fried Dace with Salted Black Beans (Some China Brand)

Probably my most favoured food that comes out of a can...but it must be the right brand (coz some brands are not nice at all).  I get the same brand from my usual dry goods supplier (but don't ask me for the name as I've no clue since everything is in Chinese)...and, mind you, this one isn't all that cheap either.

The simplest way to eat this is to just steam it (I add a little water just so that I can have a bit more sauce) and it's great with rice or porridge.

Sometimes, I would even make a one-pot wonder by tearing the fish into smaller pieces and stirring everything (including the fermented black beans) into a pot of cooked rice (one can is good enough for 3 - 4 servings of rice).  Makes a quick instant one-dish meal with a vegetable of your choice...happy days! ^o^  

#2 - Stewed Pork Chops (Narcissus)

When it comes to stewed pork, I only eat one brand...Narcissus (not easy to find these days).  Even my regular dry goods supplier says it'll be a while before he brings them in again as they're rather expensive, so less demand.  Gulong (most commonly available) and other brands, the sauce don't taste as good.

Again, I make a one-dish meal out of this by adding sang choy (iceberg lettuce)...and you have a quick-fire complete meal with meat, veggie and sauce.  P/S: My MIL makes a 'killer' mui choy kau yoke (braised pork belly with sweet preserved vegetable)...and her secret ingredient...the addition of a can of Narcissus stewed pork leg...surprise, surprise! :O

#3 - Sardines in Tomato Sauce (Ayam Brand)

If you like sardines, you're bound to have eaten it out of a can before.  I don't even mind the use of canned sardines or mackerel in assam laksa.  I choose it when I see it at chap fan stalls though not all are to my liking coz some of them use the cheaper brands where the sardines can be dry.

After trying a few brands, I ended up sticking with Ayam brand...and I cook it at home with lots of onions (I'll throw in some sliced chillies if I have).

But, beware though, I've bought Ayam mackerel instead of sardines before and it tasted so bluek that I thought the brand was no longer good only to be alerted by my usual vendor if I had mistakenly bought the wrong one.  Only then did I realise that there were two...and the can looks exactly the same except for the words mackerel and sardines...well, now I, be careful when you buy.

#4 - Luncheon Meat (YiGe)

Well, this one certainly needs no introduction...and YiGe is the tastiest brand I know.  How many times have a can of luncheon meat been a lifesaver at home? ;)

There's plenty you can do with a can of luncheon meat since it's so versatile.  Simply pan-fry and eat with rice or slap it between two slices of bread.  Make an omelette out of it or use it in fried rice.  Add them into a bowl of instant noodles or even make a veggie dish with it...the possibilities are endless.

#5 - Braised Peanuts (Gulong)

These braised peanuts first gained traction (I think) when they were served as tidbits (instead of the usual fried peanuts) in Chinese restaurants.  I remember telling myself then how nice if someone makes this and sell...and lo and behold, it got canned (no pun intended)!

Now I can enjoy eating this as a snack at home...just open and steam.  Not quite as tasty as those restaurant-made ones but it'll have to do.

#6 - Button Mushrooms (Rex)

I will usually pick this brand as I like the larger size of the mushrooms.

When cooking button mushrooms at home, I normally use it in a dish of loh hon chai (mixed vegetables)....

......or a dish of braised assorted mushrooms.  Some even use canned button mushrooms in a one-pot savoury rice.

#7 - Baked Beans (TST)

I think most of the canned baked beans in the market are quite similar in taste.  I used to eat Yeo's and Ayam brands, now I seem to have settled on TST.

You'd even see this on most platters of a western-style breakfast.

But the most common way I have it at home is cooked with eggs.  Got beans, got eggs, got sauce...what else you want-lah! :D

#8 - Cream of Mushroom (Campbell's)

There are so many Campbell's soup varieties in the market but the one I'm latched on to is the cream of mushroom (you even have wild mushroom, mushroom potage or creamy chicken mushroom for variation).

Nothing is more comforting than to tuck into a bowl of warm soup on a cold night.  All it needs is a crack of black pepper and you're good to go.

The canned button mushrooms come in handy here too coz I'd even add more sometimes into my bowl of mushroom soup (there's no such thing as too much).

#9 - Spiced Pork Cubes (Narcissus)

You can simply just open the can, reheat it and have it with rice.

But I learned to have it with instant noodles (at home).  Don't blame me...blame Kim Gary (hehe!) for putting that idea in my head (they do a version of fried rice with it too).  Best with curry type of instant noodles to tie in with the spiced flavour of the pork dices.

#10 - Tuna Chunks in Olive Oil (Ayam Brand)

I love tuna...and I've tried a couple of different brands before settling on Ayam brand.  They're available in chunks or flakes and can come in mayo, mayo light, spicy mayo, olive oil, organic olive oil, even water.  I prefer to get them in chunks and flake it myself before adding my own mayo.

Together with some sweet corn and shredded lettuce, they make a great tuna sandwich.

If there are leftovers, just scoop them on top of some savoury crackers for a nice, little snack.  Hey, I'm sure Cookie wouldn't mind sharing some of that tuna too.

As with everything else, just practise moderation with canned food (the same concept we apply to any other food that's not all that good for us).....and you should do just fine.  Just like we have cheat days for eating, we have cheat days for cooking too.  Even those who can't (or don't) cook cannot mess up making a simple meal out of a can.

Some canned goods deserve a bit of love, don't you think? ^_~

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