Monday, September 29, 2008

Young Coconut and Pork Soup

I hardly use coconut (other than coconut milk, which I adore) in my cooking. I don't know why, but I am just not a big fan of shredded coconut tickles my throat, and not in a good way ;)...but I wanted to do something new (by not using coconut milk), and I've decided to go for the young coconut and meat soup. I sounded great in my head, let's see how it turns out.

But, there's a tiny little detail I failed to consider, I just realised that I haven't tried cracking a whole coconut open before in my life! I saw a Thai chef doing it, seemingly effortless, fluently, easily, seamlessly, on TV and I remember that I saw my nanny did it many times back home in Indonesia. So, thinking that "if others can do it, so can I", I gathered enough courage to grab a whole young coconut from a supermarket near my place....glances of disbelief were shot at me while I loaded the coconut into my basket (not many people buy whole coconut, especially my people my age - yeah baby, in supermarkets and wet markets, I AM considered young!!!) and I shot them a super smug glance conveying this message: "Uh-huh! I am so doing it, I am going to crack this bad boy effortlessly, just like what they do on TV"

Apparently, surprise, surprise! Seeing stuff being done easily on TV is not equal to a sufficient training. Welcome to coconut cracking hell. On TV, I saw the chef cracking the coconut shell open by whacking it using the back of her cleaver. So I took my shiny and new cleaver (it's a gift and I hardly use it haha!), and started whacking my coconut with all my might.

Well well...after a whole lot of whacking, the coconut remained unscatched...staring back at me with mocking eyes, as if to say "Easy, eh? You've sooo underestimated me, baby!". Pieces of coconut husk were splattered everywhere, and there were only a few dents on the shell. I whacked and whacked and whacked...and finally I got a bit of an opening. The whacking continued and I've sent more coconut husk pieces in than getting anything out, I started to worry that I might not have anything to submit for Wandering Chopstick's Weekend Wokking - Coconut event. Finally, after I pretty much whacked my azz off, I had enough opening to pour the coconut juice out and spooned a bit of the silky smooth coconut meat.

Young Coconut and Pork Soup
- 0.5 lb lean pork (Cut into chunky pieces. You can replace with chicken)
- juice (coconut juice/water (not coconut milk) and meat of 1 coconut)
- white pepper, salt
- hot water

Bring coconut juice and meat to boil, add pork chunks, add hot water, cook until the meat is tender. Season with white pepper and salt, serve hot.

This soup is clear yet super fragrant and sweet, the meat is richly flavored by the sweetness of the coconut juice. Sharing this recipe with the folks at Weekend Wokking, created by my blogger pal Wandering Chopsticks, hosted this week by Precious Pea.

I think I got a bit of bicep (although buried beneath a million layers of fat) from whacking that coconut. Yay!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Super Spicy Indonesian Pineapple Sweet Salad - Rujak Nanas Super Pedas

I used to be a hot food snob. I used to be dead proud that not only I could handle tongue numbingly hot food, I even LOVEDDDD them. A meal was not a meal without a huge dose of sambal or chilli of any kind.

It started when I moved to Sydney. Back home in Indonesia, being able to handle hot food is nothing.
Everybody love hot food. So what? It's not a big deal, it was probably even cool if you can't handle hot food, according to the law of the non-mainstreamers ;) But in Sydney? Boy! The first few months were really challenging, a trip to any eatery was often accompanied by a bottle or packs of Indonesian chilli sauce (sambal ABC)...and classmates from other countries always ooohed and aaahed, looking at you in awe, admiring eyes when you nonchalantly downed pieces upon pieces of hot chillies, without even blinking or breaking any sweat.

But that was then.

A few years living outside Indonesia seemed to have tamed the hot bitch in me. Nowadays, I don't even drizzle a drop of chilli oil into my wonton eyes get all teary, my nose runny, my face turns steamed lobster red while gasping for air when I went to have Sze Chuan hot pot (which even Tony Bourdain could handle, wat the??!!!)...and...I regret to announce that these days, I order the lowest level of heat for my noodle soup base (head down, tail between legs, so ashamed) instead of the hottest of hot that I used to love T_T sob sob sob. I've become heat intolerant. Arrrrggghhhhh!!!

So, it was a silly decision for me to remake this Super Spicy Indonesian Pineapple Sweet Salad (Rujak Nanas Super Pedas) and thought that I could still handle it. Duh!

- 1 ripe pineapple, cut into bite sized chunks (you can use many different tropical fruits, such as jicama, young mango, guava, etc, but I particularly love ripe pineapple)
The Super Hot Sauce/Dip
- 3 small red chillies, chopped (I didn't remove the core and the seeds. You can adjust to meet your level of heat tolerance, I recommend put as little as possible and add more later if you need)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup palm sugar
- 1/2 tsp shrimp paste (toasted)
- juice of 1 lime
- a bit of hot water

Blend everything into a paste (traditionally, we use stone mortar and pestle), add a bit of hot water to blend everything better. Pour sauce over pineapple or dip pineapple into it ^_^

I am sharing this with Waiter, there's something in my....Indonesian by Spittoonextra.

Again, the whole sniffing and crying episodes happened upon me when I consumed this childhood favorite treat of mine. Sad. Sad. Sad.

...and to make it even worse...sous chef ate most of the thing nonchalantly like there was no heat at all. SOBBBBB. I guess my palate is now more "refined", eh? Hehe (denial, denial)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Easy Bacon, Corn and Zucchini and My Pot Envy

Bacon, bacon, bacon.

Why isn't there a restaurant called "BACON" or "PANCETTA"? (or whatever fancy word that means bacon)...and bacon shall magically appear in every parts of the menu, beautifully stuck in the servers' cleavage (and we can pull 'em with our teeth-hoho), everything else only exist to glorify the majestic flavor of bacon, and I shall go home smelling deliciously like bacon. Hehe.

...and with the dish below, we can either flavor something healthy with bacon (and turn it unhealthy by adding wayyy too much bacon until all the good vegetables are buried and unrecognizable) or turning bacon to be something healthy (by adding more vegetables). Your choice ;)

Bacon, Corn & Zucchini

(everything's adjustable to suit your taste)
- 1 can of corn kernels, drained
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into cubes, marinate with some salt to remove excess water, then rinse
- a few (or many) strips of bacon, cut into chunks
- salt, black pepper, sugar (optional)

Pan fry bacon pieces in a non stick pan (you don't need any oil for this), add corn kernels, add zucchini, cook until everything are cooked through, season with a bit of salt, sugar, and black pepper if necessary (probably not hehe, it should already taste fan-bloody-tastic)

That's it. I must stop this ridiculous crush on bacon (although I think it is not possible), and move on to bitch about my major pot envy. My sneaky, sneaky sis went back to my home town in Semarang, and cleverly raided my mom's kitchen! That biyatch!...and she scored this lovely little old tin pot in which we used to carry our take away food, and some gorgeous old pale salted egg blue tin plates. What's the big deal, right? Just get more from my mom....I wish!!! Those are the only ones left! ARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!

Maybe I could ask my mom to raid my auntie's or cousin's place?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jakarta, My City of Sloth

Sloth?!!!! Gluttony, you can imagine...the city is full of deliciousness. Greed? Of course! It is a culinary hub of Indonesian treats, for freak's sake. But sloth??!!

Nasi Goreng Tek Tek (Indonesian fried rice from a street cart vendor)

Bihun Kuah Tek Tek (Wet Rice Noodles from a street cart vendor)

Martabak Asin (Fried Pancake filled with mutton and spring onion)

In Hong Kong, which is already the city of convenience, I don't consider myself as a lazy creature. Fine. I might take short cuts all the time, but I do put in some effort to get some tasty treats. In Jakarta, it's a whole different ball game. In Jakarta, namely my sister's place, you can get almost ANYTHING (including those you can't think of) delivered to your doorstep. The above and below tasty treats were all ordered, either via phone or even SMS (That's how we ordered the nasi goreng tek tek!!! How sophisticated is that?!!!) and we enjoyed them while hardly moving our azz from the couch, watching various drama series from reality TV, chick flick, to horror....while bitching about the characters in the shows and shouting unhelpful advice. LOL!

Mie Ayam Pangsit & Pangsit Goreng Aries (Indonesian Chewy Chicken Noodle with wontons and fried wontons)

Mie Ayam LCK (Indonesian Chicken Noodles). This one is super tasty, with a hint of sweet and sour

Stir Fried Kale with Sliced Beef with Brown Rice

Asem-Asem Daging with Krupuk & Perkedel Kentang (Sour Meat Soup with Cracker and Fried Potato Cake)

Nasi Padang with Gulai Otak, Sayur Nangka, Perkedel & Sambal Ijo (Padang Mixed Rice with Cow's Brain Stew, Jackfruit stew, Potato Cake & Spicy Green Chilli)

Ayam Goreng Mentega (Indonesian Chinese Fried Chicken in Salty & Sweet Butter Sauce)

and to honor the month of Ramadhan. We ordered this rich, sweet and fragrant Kolak Pisang (Banana stewed in Palm Sugar & Coconut Milk)

Yummy treats aren't the only things you can order. 24 hr junk food fix? Mineral water? Groceries? Laundry? 24 hr Massage? They are all just a phone call (or an SMS) away! You can literally live as a couch potato.

The solution to fit into your skinny jeans after such a sinful trip isn't dieting or exercising, but simply buying yourself another (bigger) pair. Just like I did ^_*

Monday, September 22, 2008

Back from Jakarta with Savoury Donuts

Savoury donuts! Pure genius! Why haven't I thought of this (as well as the crustless sliced bread and nutella and cola drinks!!) before?!!! This is clearly why I am not a gadzillionairess. I never thought of producing the things I (and possibly the whole world) would LOVE to eat ^_^

I discovered J.CO Donuts during my previous trip to Jakarta and I couldn't believe that I haven't even mentioned it! Everybody loved it, and my foreign colleagues brought back huge boxes of the donuts back to Hong Kong and we wrote to almost literally beg them to open a branch in Hong Kong. They're so hot that during my last trip to Kuala Lumpur, surprise surprise! I saw a branch in Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall. Yay!

I love their donuts because:
- They aren't too sweet, they aren't all glazed with a layer of sugar (just like those from Krispy Kreme. I am sorry, but I absolutely despise Krispy Kreme!)
- Their chocolate are really chocolatey, rich, melted and gooey
- They offer obvious combination of flavors others didn't think of for donuts (the above donut is called Tira-Miss-U)
- Their donuts have cheesy names, and I am a big time sucker of anything cheesy (my favorites are Coco Loco, Da Vin Cheez, and Mona Pisa)
- Their table tops are decorated with even cheesier phrases (check out the one on the picture below)
- andddddd...they sell savoury donuts! Cheese Me Up (donut with cheese topping sprinkled with herbs), Da Vin Cheez (topped with garlic and creamy cheese - yum!) and Mona Pisa (Pizza inspired donuts, topped with cheese, a hint of ketchup and chicken sausages! Deliciousness!)

I brought a big box back to Hong Kong...and it is obviously not enough...sous chef gobbled them down like there's no tomorrow...and to my friends who were expecting them...please accept my sincere apologies.

Imagine a special someone holding a coco loco right now, the melted chocolate filling dripping off his/her hand, right into your mouth.

My, oh my!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pig Stomach Soup & Pork Mayo Ketchup Balls: Oh Shoot! The Lantern's on Fire!

So what's Mid Autumn festival celebration like in Hong Kong?

AAARRRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!! We burnt one of our beautiful lanterns. It was hysterical. We managed to put the fire off before we burnt my tripod...and possibly the whole city ^_^. Others used metal wire & hung their lanterns between two trees. Super creative amateur photographers that we are, we hung our lanterns between two tripods....and we took blurry pictures all through the night! LOL!

Swarms of people poking each other with their lantern sticks on their way to Victoria Park, Causeway Bay

Ah...if only life's all rainbows and butterflies...

The moon, the rabbits...

The front row dominatrix: photographer and model wannabes hehe

More adorable bunny rabbits...

Candles in a can, taro roots with sugar, evil nuts (ram horn nuts), mooncakes, snowy skin mooncakes...This year we came prepared. We were ecstatic seeing people walking past us talking about how jealous they were seeing our ram horn nuts! HA HA! Happiness is about sharing...and making others jealous. Indeed ;)

Bless Sir A and her mooncakes...finally I didn't have to be mooncake deprived this year ;)

...and here are the munchies we had before we were off to the park:
Pork Balls with Mayo and Ketchup ala Sous Chef

- 1/2 lb minced pork
- salt, chicken stock powder, sugar, pepper, corn starch, olive oil
- mayo, ketchup

Mix mince pork with salt, chicken stock powder, sugar, pepper, corn starch, a little olive oil. Roll to form small balls. Microwave for 1 minute (high). Pan fry until golden brown, set aside. Heat up mayo & ketchup mix, throw the balls in, mix well, serve.

Pig Stomach with Preserved Vegetables

- 1/2 lb frozen pig stomach
- 4 pieces of pork bone with some meat
- 1 pack of preserved vegetables (ham suen choy)
- black pepper, salt, sugar, rice vinegar

Blanch pig stomach and pork bone in boiling water and salt for a few minutes, set aside, cut pig stomach into bite sized pieces. Boil in another pot of water with pepper for about 3 hours with low heat, add preserved vegetables just about 15-20 minutes before serving, season right before serving.

Now, I'm off to Jakarta for a few days to fatten myself up even more (I might as well go all the way, eh?)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Happy Mid Autumn Festival, You Ram Horn Nuts!

I can't believe this is mid autumn in Hong Kong! It feels more like a pressure cooker here. It's balmy, it's super hot, it gets me all soft, although no meat nor fat fell off my bones. Dammit!

Mid Autumn Festival. Yeah. Right. I ain't gonna show you some cute pictures of those adorable mooncakes. I knew you want 'em. Well, ain't gonna give it to ya! (Blame all this bitchiness on the heat & "you're fat" comments, baby!) Hehe.

Instead, it is my pleasure, to introduce these bitchin' nuts. Look at them! Aren't they jusssttt the meanest lookin' nuts ever?

They are called Ram Horn Nuts (Ling Kok). They're black, they look pure evil, and their shell...hard as rock. To enjoy them, simply boil them in salted water for about 15 minutes. By the way, the shell's a pain in the arse to crack open...and once you opened are in for some weird tasting treat. Normally, they are consumed alongside taro roots, which are just boiled, peeled, and dipped in sugar.

I've been living in Hong Kong for more than 6 years, and this is my first mid autumn festival without some egg yolk laden mooncakes! The city went nuts. The mooncakes were almost all sold out! I'll probably have to rob some mooncakes off some people on my way to Victoria Park later.

Now I must prepare my trip to light some candles at the park tonight. Cute lanterns, check. Cute outfit, check. Candles, check. Sous chef with evil lookin' nuts...check and check!

Remember to protect your mooncakes when you see me ^_*

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back from KL with Sop Ayam (Chicken Soup with Pasta)

Is it just me, or do we all hate the phrase "Have you gained weight?"
That was ALL I could heard throughout my KL work trip! Heard it from my boss, my co-workers, my co-workers from other countries, our company's VIP customers, regular customers, non regular customers, nobodies, everybody! E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y!

Well, there were some variations to the general phrase...
- Sometimes it's the supposedly "caring" "You need to be on diet" version
- Sometimes it's the plain mean "You are so FAT" version
- Sometimes it's the concealed "You must have been so happy" gentle version
- and sometimes it's just the silent once over

Whichever version it was, none sounded good to my ears. I am expecting the kind "Don't you care about what people think, as long as you are happy" advice, but let's face it. Hearing the phrase all the time, isn't my idea of fun :p

Apart from SC's influence and the surgery (I doubt that I could blame it on those two any longer), I need to take responsibility for my actions (midnight bingeing, lack of self control, my suffering from lazybum-minosis and couchpotato-coxis ^_^)

Will the phrase stop me from indulging? cooking? food blogging? I don't think so. I've had my share of super strict dieting (JUST 3 pieces of wontons for dinner, and I removed most of the wonton skin!!!) and crazy exercising (a minimum of 3 hours of cardio classes per day). One doesn't work without the other for me. If I really wanted to lose some, I can't just exercise and keep eating, or dieting without exercising. It has to be a combination of both, and it has to be strict and hard. Sure, the hard combo worked for me. I lost pounds after pounds quickly. But that wasn't my idea of fun too. What a freaking dilemma, eh?

So, here's my current action plan:
- To eat more mooncakes. It's mid autumn festival and you just gotta have them!
- To cook more, eat more and catch up with food blogging
- Buy new clothes that fit
- Finish all the yummy goodies I've bought from KL before they expire
.....Wait a minute! That's surely a wrong plan to achieve the objective of not hearing the phrase again??!! LOL! Freak the phrase! I'll start worrying when another business trip is scheduled ^_*

Let me share some weight gain inducing sodas I found in KL:

Why would anyone name a drink "Anything?". I simply bought this out of curiosity. It tasted like a mild version of Sprite or 7-Up. Not bad, but I wouldn't have called it "Anything?"...hmmm...maybe "Whatever!"

I bet these are nothing special in some parts of the world, but I haven't seen these in most supermarkets in Hong Kong. So, I bought them. Gosh, my love for sodas....sigh... top it off, the guy seated beside me on my flight back to Hong Kong sneezed and coughed all the way through the flight. Naturally, without covering his mouth. Now, it is my turn to sneeze and cough my way through meetings and conference calls. To my coworkers, boss and customers (were you the ones who called me fat?), good luck, y'all! MUHAHAHAHAHAHA! (Evil! Pure evil!)

Here's a comforting recipes from my childhood in Indonesia...
Sop Ayam - Chicken Soup with Pasta

The Indonesian version is normally thin and clear, but I love it thick and rich (What else is new? Typical Rita) ^_^
(serves 4)
- 4 chicken drumsticks
- 1/2 lb lean pork (can be replaced by beef or chicken breast), cut into chunky pieces
- 1 carrot, cut into small pieces
- 1 small potato, cut into small pieces
- 1 sprig of chinese celery, cut into small pieces
- 4 cloves of shallot, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- a couple of chicken franks, cut into 3 mm thick pieces (optional, and you can also add spam cubes, just the way we love it in Indonesia)
- 2 handfuls of pasta (it's normally macaroni, but I only have fusili ^_*)
- olive oil, salt, pepper, corn starch

Marinate chicken and pork in salt, pepper and a bit of corn starch while preparing other ingredients. Saute shallot in hot olive oil until a bit browned, add chicken and pork until a bit browned, add a bit of water. Add vegetables, add water just enough to cover all ingredients. Cook for about 1 hr, add ground nutmeg, add pasta, cook until everything's soft and the soup is thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

In Indonesia, we (of course!) eat the soup with rice, with some crackers, sweet soy sauce and chilli sauce. But it is chunky enough to be a meal of comfort by itself.

Sharing this with Presto Pasta Night's Gang, hosted this week by its fabulous creator, Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.

By the time I finished this soup, I was like..."The phrase? What phrase?!" ^_^

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Quick Hello from KL

Look at those overflowing mountains of goodies! I just wanted to dive, with mouth wide open, into those divine hills. Munch, munch, munch...and that was just the beginning! Not considering the vast array of tasty treats on the streets, there are also soooo many food outlets which I've missed but couldn't find in Hong Kong. Call me silly, but I was ooohing and ahhhhing at the sight of Wendy's, Dunkin Donuts, JCo Donuts, Cinnabon, Auntie Anne's and Karl Junior!

Naturally, I couldn't resist but started to buy some (not a lot, please believe me) goodies from the supermarket...and fell in love with the vintage-inspired packaging of these chocolates:



Kinda creepy? Hehe

But I was suchhhhh a good girl, turned out I still have a teeny tiny bit of will power in me. I didn't buy any of those chocolate boxes, no matter how muchhh I love 'em. Hmmm, maybe I'll buy them tomorrow HAHA!

...and you'd think that this is a fab breakfast...but I had it at 10 something at night HAHA! It's from Pancake House, at Sunway shopping mall, it's a fast food outlet from the Philippines. Talk about all day breakfast! The cheese bits inside the pancake made the pancake perfect, but I was not crazy about the dry egg and the dry bacon.

I am now regretting my crazy idea of bringing a small luggage in an effort to look cool. I must buy those yummy looking instant noodles, snacks, cakes, sodas, curry spice packs...arrgghhh!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Siomay Bandung: Off to KL!

Guys, I hate goodbyes, and I've said it this morning, tearfully, to my gas stove, wok, muffin tray, oven and my beloved whisk....I'm off to Kuala Lumpur for work...and will be back in about a week. It might be short but I'm gonna miss them (Aiya! I am gonna miss you guys too lah, SC & blogging pals ^_^)

I hope this time I get to see more than my hotel room, meeting room and the conference hall (sob sob). While I am away, here's something to munch on:

Remember the
trio wontons I made previously? Here's another way to have them, the Indonesian way :)

"Siomay Bandung"

Why the quotation marks? Because it could not be further than authentic. Maybe I should have called it steamed wontons in peanut sauce instead? Hehe

To make the wontons, check out my previous post
Steam the wontons until the meat is cooked through, drizzle with peanut sauce, kecap manis, chilli sauce, lime juice, fried shallot and freshly chopped corriander. The fish paste filled wontons taste closer to the original siomay bandung, however, the pork and shrimp filled ones are yummy too!

I used gado-gado ready made peanut sauce, and sometimes I use pecel ready made peanut sauce. If those aren't available, you can use ready made satay sauce...or make your own (I'll find a good recipe for you guys later ^_^)

KL, ready or not, here I come to eat my ass off!