The Occasional Cook

~Pottering about in my Pink Kitchen

Turkish Eggs — November 14, 2019

Turkish Eggs

I first ate Turkish eggs in one of those hipster cafes here and was pleasantly surprised by how delicious that bowl of poached eggs were.

This morning I decided to make Turkish eggs using Nigella Lawson’s sort of recipe? Or maybe method is the correct word which I found on YouTube.

It’s incredibly easy to make. I only had one ingredient missing – the Aleppo pepper. But I substituted that with smoked sweet paprika and it worked very well indeed.

The first step is to make the chilli oil. I places about 30g of butter in a small pan and melted it slowly till brown. It could do a bit browner but I didn’t want to risk burning my butter so when they were all nicely melted and slightly brown, I added a few swigs of good quality olive oil and sprinkled a strong dash of the smoked paprika from the tin.

Then mix a packet of Greek yogurt with some sea salt. And last make the poached egg and assemble.

Sprinkle some parsley and sea salt over the egg and eat with toasted ciabatta slices. Heavenly!! This is now my favourite breakfast dish to make. So simple yet satisfying.

Char Kway Teow — November 6, 2019

Char Kway Teow

Char kway teow is soooo famous in Singapore and Malaysia. It’s got to be cooked in a Super hot wok so you could have that Smokey flavour or what the locals call ‘wok hei’ – the breath of the wok. And for the chinese, it is cooked in lard and lots of chinese pork sausages.

My ex-colleagues got me a trinity of books by The Meat Men, a local group of youtubers who have their own cooking channel. I tried making it at home, and it was ok. I had to omit the lard but at home the main problem is getting that wok hei flavour. You’ve got to use a Super hot cast iron or metal wok to get the same effect. Non-stick will not do.

I followed this recipe for the sauce closely and I must say, it works! The kway Teow turned out sweet and it was good enough. I’ll be trying to make this again soon but for this initial version, here’s how I did it.

First, buy some cockles, wash clean and take out the meat.

In a hot work, add oil and then your meat, sausages, chopped garlic. Add a dollop of chilli paste. Stir fry. Then add noodles. I used my leftover pad Thai noodles but the fresh broader Chinese rice noodles will be better. Add the sauce and stir fry. Lastly, add cockles and vegetables, cover to wilt then stir fry again till cooked.

The recipe called for eggs and prawn but since I had neither that day, I omitted.

Here’s the full recipe from the book to try:

Gimbap — October 19, 2019

Gimbap

Today’s light lunch of Korean gimbap. Easy to make and easy to eat!

First, prepare short grain Japanese rice. Pickled daikon strips, carrot strips and fried beef slices that had been marinated with soy sauce.

Place seaweed onto a rolling bamboo mat with rice and all the other ingredients. Then roll tight.

Once rolled, brush with a light layer of sesame oil.

With a sharp knife, cut into slices and enjoy! This was really good on a hot weekend. I’ll be making this for work lunches soon!

Hainanese Chicken Chop — September 22, 2019

Hainanese Chicken Chop

This is a western style chicken chop dish originated from Malaya. The story went as usual when it came to colonist foods. A British man wanted a taste of home and the cooks, many of them Hainanese, would make this version for their colonial masters.

I made my version because I had frozen deboned chicken thighs and a packet of frozen peas. After browsing other recipes and blog sites, I made my version based on the family’s preference. I mean, that’s what cooking is all about right? To be creative and inventive and cook things your family will like.

So anyway, the first part is to marinade the chicken with salt and give spice powder. Then immerse the thighs in soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, pepper and sugar. By right, remove the skin. But I wanted the skin on for some reason.

The breading. Plain flour, egg and Pablo bread crumbs.

The sauce. In a pan, sauté onions. Then I used chicken stock. And added a heaped teaspoon of wholegrain mustard. Season with salt and a tinge of sugar. Added four packets of tomato ketchup (leftover ketchup packets from fast food joints) and a packet of chilli sauce. To thicken the sauce, the cornflour slurry technique. And voila! They loved the sauce.

To assemble, place crispy chicken thigh on a plate then spoon over the onion sauce. Serve with homemade potato wedges and a side of boiled green peas.

And there you have it. A relic from the colonial past and carried on today in some coffeeshops. I hear, mostly in the northern parts of Malaysia where this dish is still popular.

Marinade the chicken well for a few hours
Make the onion sauce

Once sauce is done, set it aside for use later
Set up the breading station for frying. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention after frying in a shallow oiled pan, I made it crispier by putting the cooked chicken in the air fryer for a few minutes
Borek or Spanakopita — July 14, 2019

Borek or Spanakopita

Ok once I learn to make something new and easy, I get completely obsessed. My latest obsession is with this spinach and cheese in phyllo pastry. It’s simple to make and everyone likes it. Well, most anyone.

I’ve made so many versions of it so I’m just going to post my latest one, and in my opinion the best version simply because using fresh spinach is so much more delicious than the frozen ones I’ve been using.

The concept is simple. A cheese and spinach filling. A custard topping. And phyllo pastry as the base and cover.

For this picture, I’ve moved on to the second layer. Many do it with only one layer but I find if you have the extra ingredients, making two layers makes it thicker and more moorish. So first spread cooked spinach.

And then add cheese. I’ve been using feta all along but for this particular day, my supermarket ran out of feta. So I used dollops of ricotta cheese and sharp cheddar. Season with lots of sea salt and black pepper.

Then the custard. For this custard, I what three whole eggs with one tub (125ml) of Greek yogurt. Season with salt and pepper. Add a splash of milk and that’s it.

Cover the dough. And because I learn from experience, I watched how some people would cut the pastry into squares first before baking. It helps! If you don’t, yes, it will look prettier but the process of cutting crispy phyllo in front of guests is a huge mess!

And then voila! It’s all ready to be served.

For the cheesy part, feel free to experiment. My aunt uses mozzarella, and I think next time I’ll do these pastries in individual portions. With mozzarella and pine nuts!

Enjoy trying! It’s an easy dish to whip up for last minute entertaining. 🙂

Cencaru Bakar Sambal (Baked Scadfish in Sambal) — June 18, 2019

Cencaru Bakar Sambal (Baked Scadfish in Sambal)

There’s a firm favourite fish amongst the Malays from the ladies side. Most men I know do not like this fish. It has quite a strong smell but once cooked, it’s delicious. It has a firm flesh, the skin a bit tough so you can’t eat the crispy skin. You’ve got to peel the out skin first after cooking to enjoy the firm sweet meaty flesh.

In Malay, this fish is called cencaru and even the local fishmongers know that it’s well liked by the Malays and not so by the other races. If not why would he tempt me by calling out just as I was walking or if the supermarket, ‘Ikan cencaru nak tak?’ (Do you want this cencaru fish?’ Haven’t eaten this fish in years, I caved and walked back to him, and before I knew it, I had three fish in my hand.

It’s best eaten fried or baked with sambal or soy sauce chilli padi dip. I made the first version, or rather got the Helper to do so for me.

We first made the sambal paste together and cooked the sambal through. After that, slit the top part of the fish and stuff as much sambal as you can. Before this, we seasoned the fish with salt and ground turmeric. And then bake. My kitchen smelled of fish! But afterwards, when the fish was done and the house smelled normal again, we both enjoyed eating the fish with hot plain rice. It’s a kampong favourite and us so modern in our sanitized public apartments have forgotten to appreciate the foods of the past.

Sambal paste

1. blend soft already boiled down dried chillies (about 20 pieces) with three onions and four cloves of garlic till very fine.

2. Fry over medium heat till cooked.

3. Add a bit of tamarind paste, salt and sugar to taste. The sambal should be sweet and tangy.

Ramly…of Sorts Burger — May 28, 2019

Ramly…of Sorts Burger

For those living in this region, the Ramly burger is like the epitome of street food burgers. Beef patties are grilled and encased in a thin layer of omelette. The sauce…that’s their secret. Lots and lots of brown sauce, mayonnaise, chilli sauce…. the perfect night stack in Malaysia.

The burger Ramly is banned in Singapore, but there are many stalls during bazaars selling these burgers under the Ramly banner. They used other patties but because the original patties are banned, I guess the manner how these burgers are made allowed the Singaporean vendors to use the Ramly name.

At home, I decided to make my own version. Well, for this one that The May made them. I used expensive Angus beef patties instead of the cheap unhealthy frozen kinds because I wanted the kids to eat healthily. But we followed the Ramly style, with an omelette encasing the juicy patties. And for The Son, a slice of cheese on the beef patties before it got wrapped in the golden eggy blanket.

It was a hit for dinner that night. Will definitely make it again!

Raw kale salad with orange and olives — May 27, 2019

Raw kale salad with orange and olives

I learnt how to make raw kale salad watching some YouTube videos. And I learnt that you need to massage the leaves so they aren’t so hard.

It’s not easy to get kale in this part of the world but last week, I think because maybe it’s in season, the local supermarket was selling them cheap! I bought a packet but there was a lot. One bunch of kale can feed a family of five!

I cut the leaves small and massaged them for a few second. A few minutes is just too much for me! And then since I had mandarin oranges, I cut a few, added a few tablespoons of olives. Oh, and two boiled eggs. For the dressing, because I was pressed for time, I just drizzled store bought Caesar dressing.

First time eating raw kale salad but I think I’ll be making this more often so that I’ll eat healthily this year.

Shakshuka with Meat — May 4, 2019

Shakshuka with Meat

This time yet another variation of shakshuka. This time with ground beef at the bottom.

I seasoned the ground beef with this fragrant spice mix for madhi rice I bought in Kuala Lumpur by Chef Ammar. And then season with salt and pepper. It consists of coriander, cardamom, cumin amongst other spices.

For the tomato sauce, I used capsicum and mushrooms.

And then all it took was simply putting the minced beef at the bottom followed by sauce and then cracking the eggs in. I served with Greek honey yogurt and lots of chopped coriander. I also had four good quality fried sausages so I just placed them around the dish.

And that was my May Day brunch for the family. 🙂

Sambal Goreng Tahu Tempeh (Version 1: The Simple One) — May 2, 2019

Sambal Goreng Tahu Tempeh (Version 1: The Simple One)

Fasting month is coming and The Hubster mentioned he’d like to eat this every morning. I’ve never cooked it before. Even when I was more diligent in cooking as a young Wife. So now I thought I’d better learn to cook this dish.

This shall be variation 1. Simply because I’ll try other versions when I have all the ingredients I actually need.

This variation is missing 1. Tamarind water/paste 2. All the herbal aromatics like kaffir lime leaves or fresh local Bay leaves 3. Galangal

But no matter. I’ve learned how to use substitutes and the result was good. The Hubster was a happy man and I felt more confident also knowing if ever we have to move to a Western country, and I will actually blow a sizeable amount of money on tempeh there, I can cook this dish. 🙂

First up, the tofu. It needs to be the firmer kind. And soft on the inside. Cut into cubes and fry.

Next, the tempeh. Cut into cubes and fry.

Then, the Long beans. Cut into bite sized lengths.

And then, prawns. Wash and devein.

The paste. Onions, dried chillies, garlic. By right blend also the lemongrass but since I had my blended chilli paste separate (from the freezer made prior by The Helper) I sliced thin the lemongrass.

The substitutes: No tamarind water so I used one piece of tamarind fruit (asam gelugur). I didn’t have fresh Bay leaves so I used dried Bay leaves.

The cooking process.

1. In oil, fry the blended chilli paste. Add the thinly chopped and sliced lemongrass. Add one bruised lemongrass and then sautee till the oil separates from the mixture.

2. Add the prawns.

3. Add the Long beans.

4. Add two tablespoons of coconut cream and the asam gelugur.

5. Once prawns and beans are cooked, add the tofu and tempeh cubes.

6. Season with salt and sugar.