Taste of rustic charm

In a State long associated with nonya food and other uncommon hawker fare, there are still some places in Penang that have escaped the attention of the uninitiated. In Jalan D.S. Ramanathan (formerly Scott Road) is an old double-storey bungalow that probably once belonged to a family of substantial means.

Now it houses the Senior Citizens Association Of Penang. What sets it apart from other bodies is its cafeteria, presently located at the back of the building which could do with a fresh coat of paint. The cafeteria, with its limited number of tables and chairs, was located in Jalan Kelawei in 1983. Years later, it moved to its present location. While it is not exactly a closely guarded secret, those who dine regularly at the cafeteria during lunchtime and in the evenings, seem quite reluctant to promote it.

Its facade is quite unimpressive. It peeks shyly from behind a cluster of trees and a hedge that badly needs pruning and trimming. Upon entering the grounds, the front compound suddenly looks very spacious and the bungalow shows signs of neglect coupled with a sense of loneliness. However, the flora in the rear flourishes magnificently and with great abandon. The long hanging vines add a touch of wildness to the place. Seen from a distance, the tall trees towering over the bungalow provide a benevolent cover for the old building.

Charming Old Place This particular cafeteria has been mentioned in some low-profile publications and locals know it well enough to come in fairly large numbers during lunchtime. There is ample parking space all round the bungalow. There are few eating places in Penang where chickens run wild in the backyard and tweens (pre-teens) laugh heartily on a swing near the dining tables. The main cafeteria is along a covered walkway that has four tables. It leads to the kitchen and an adjacent room that has a handful of tables.

Apart from looking very much like a 1950s estate bungalow with a large back compound, the cafeteria seems a very unlikely venue for diners. But therein lies its charm. There’s an air of being in someone’s home — amid greenery, bicycles, a tired dog, potted plants and laundry hung out to dry. The surprise of this elegant, yet simple abode is in the home-cooked dishes that get increasingly pleasant with each bite. Served straight from the wok by efficient waitresses, this eatery is in a league of its own. One male customer remarked that he had been coming to the cafeteria for years because his mother is a lifetime member of the Senior Citizens Association.

Diners who arrive late wait patiently for others to finish before they take their place. Evidently, the food is worth their while to stand around on their feet. Some of the favourite dishes are mee sua tau (soft wheat noodles in a thick gravy with mushrooms, meat and prawns), fried mee jawa, roti ayam and inchi kabin.

Most lunchtime customers are young office workers. Out-of-towners seldom find their way here unless they have been told about it by relatives or friends. Easy On The Pocket Some of the merits of the Senior Citizens Association cafeteria is its affordability. One need not spend more than RM10 unless he’s a glutton. The cafeteria does not serve pork. Drinks are prepared in the back portion of the bungalow, away from the kitchen.

Ho Hoay Chin is the cafeteria boss. He welcomes advance orders for certain dishes because these require time to prepare. Regular customers who want to surprise and please their guests usually pick up the phone and place their orders before their arrival. So if you want a fairly quiet place with excellent food and an aura and mood that only your own grandmother’s kitchen can provide, this could very well be the place.

How To Get There It is located next to a field with Jalan Brown on one side and Jalan Park on the other. In this residential area, the traffic flow is slow and low, so a trip here is rather relaxing and involves absolutely no stress. If you are looking for the place, drive slowly along Jalan D.S. Ramanathan because you may just miss it.

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Feast awaits at End Of The Sea

MANY domestic tourists and returnees (former Penang residents) frequently revisit the island for the sole purpose of relishing its local specialties. The island cuisine covers hawker fare spread over the various roads, streets and alleyways of Georgetown and elsewhere.

Then there are those who prefer to eat by the sea, in places stretching from Teluk Kumbar and Gertak Sanggul all the way to the other side of the island, from Balik Pulau to Teluk Bahang. Through word of mouth and personal recommendation from adventurous foodies, places like Hai Boey Seafood have been enjoying large crowds during business hours.

Hai Boey is not easy to find if you are not an island resident because it nestles in one of the lonely corners of Teluk Kumbar but it’s easily reachable by car. This Pasir Belanda eatery in Mukim 9 comes so highly recommended by connoisseurs that not to experience its fine cuisine would be like going to Rome and not visiting the Basilica.

It opens from 6pm to 11pm and the large number of waitresses and kitchen helpers is a clear indication that its daily business is anything but slow. Sure enough, by 7pm, at least 10 of the total 30 tables had reserve notices on them.

Hai Boey, which faces the setting sun, has a seafront that lulls customers into instant relaxation. The rhythmic sea waves brushing its curved shoreline offer a panoramic sweep of a rarely disturbed part of Teluk Kumbar.

But locals who come to Hai Boey usually take the beautiful scenery for granted. Their sole purpose is the food. Dishes on the menu range from Phuket-style clams to claypot duck stewed with yam. Or if you prefer, there is heh kor (mantis prawns) fried with salted egg yolk. Barbecued crabs also find favour with many regular clients.

Hai Boey in Hokkien dialect means End Of The Sea. It was started by a husband and wife team four years ago. Tan Tatt Ghee, a former cook at the Chinese Recreation Club restaurant, takes care of the kitchen while his wife, Samantha Ang, is in charge of customer services.

Today, they are doing so well that a number of their regular customers are careful to call and make reservations before they show up after 7pm.

The restaurant is a simple, single-storey structure with a long and wide extendable roof that provides shelter from the sometimes scorching sun and the occasional rain.

The kitchen is well organised as evident in the trays of vegetables, seafood and other ingredients neatly laid out in rows.

Malaysians in general dislike having to wait too long for their food and an integral part of any restaurant’s fine reputation involves serving hungry customers before their patience runs out.

Non-Penangites are usually oblivious to time because they are often too engrossed in the pretty surroundings at Hai Boey Seafood, especially at sunset.

Getting There - The owners of this seaside establishment have wisely built three tree swings for the enjoyment of families who bring along their children.

The gradual setting sun with its fading fingers of light caressing the mountain landscape often mesmerises Hai Boey customers into a state of gentle euphoria.

Hai Boey Restaurant is understandably sanguine about its future because even Nature has lent a hand in transforming its surrounding landscape into a kind of Garden of Eden. The narrow, winding road leading to Hai Boey is deceptively unattractive but the vista that awaits at journey’s end is well worth the trip that takes you past villages, factories and shophouses, with fleeting glimpses of lovely stretches of the sea.

If you haven’t been to Hai Boey, do expect to pay between RM20 and RM40 per individual. The bill of course depends on what kind of seafood you’ve ordered. In its four years of business, this innocuous-looking restaurant has grown from strength to strength. There are other equally well-known seafood outlets in places like Batu Maung and Teluk Bahang but Hai Boey is holding its own in the face of keen competition and fastidious foodies.

Hai Boey Seafood’s bright future is currently assured with the large number of repeat customers. The sun may set every evening at its frontage but not on its present thriving business.

Clams or Tan (in Hokkien) are similar
to La-La but taste just as great

Claypot steamed fish is an excellent
side-dish for a party of four

Mantis prawns fried with salted egg yolk
hit the sweet spot in the tummy

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Food & Recipes - Eat your carrots!

Carrots are versatile, nutritious and high in fibre. Below has some useful tips and recipes utilising her favourite vegetable. CARROTS have always been and will probably always be my favourite vegetable. They can be eaten in countless varieties. You can chop, boil, fry or steam them, cook them in soups and stews as well as in baby foods.

You can use grated carrots in carrot cakes, puddings and muffins. In salads, they add a colourful zest to your dinner plate. Lately available in supermarkets are baby carrots, which are often more tender, though have less flavour because of their immaturity.

They are excellent as snack food, and a good alternative for dips instead of chips or breads.

Carrot juice is also widely marketed, especially as a health drink, offered in fresh fruit outlets, blended together with different fruits and vegetables. Carrots are an excellent source of antioxidant compounds and the richest vegetable source of the pro-vitamin A carotenes. Note that a lack of vitamin A can cause poor vision.

They are also rich in dietary fibre and minerals. Just a single, full-sized carrot fulfills an adult’s daily rate of essential vitamins. Carrots once came in almost every colour: red, black, yellow, white, but not orange! They were first cultivated in Afghanistan, having purple exteriors and yellow flesh. In the Middle Ages the Dutch developed today’s bright orange carrot.

To prepare carrots for eating raw or cooking, wash and gently scrub them with a brush. If the carrots are not organically grown, or old and thick, you should peel them, since most conventionally grown carrots are grown using pesticides and other chemicals.

Also cut off the stem if it is green, as it will give a bitter taste. A good thing about cooking carrots is that the beta-carotene is not destroyed by the cooking process.

But be sure not to overcook them to ensure that they retain their maximum flavour and nutritional content.

Here are three favourite carrot recipes:

1. Carrots and potatoes in a mustard-cream sauce

You will need:
  • 500g potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
  • 500g carrots, peeled, cut in little sticks about half a centimetre wide
  • 200ml whipped cream
  • 150ml milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tsp mustard (preferably Dijon mustard)
  • 50g capers
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • a few basil leaves

In a saucepan, mix whipped cream and milk. Add salt and bring to boil over medium heat.

Add the potatoes and let them cook for about 10 minutes. Add carrots and let all cook together for another 5-7 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are almost soft.

Drain the veggies in a sieve, but saving the milk-cream liquid in a separate dish.

Mix the egg yolks with the mustard and 4-5 tablespoons of the milk-cream liquid until creamy.

Bring the rest of the milk-cream liquid to a boil over medium heat. Whisk the egg yolk mixture carefully into the milk-cream liquid until smooth.

Mix the capers into the sauce.

Lastly, place the veggies carefully into the creamy sauce. For garnish, place the basil leaves on top of the dish.

2. Carrot and orange soup

You will need:
  • 500g carrots
  • 30g butter
  • 125ml orange juice, either freshly pressed, for a better flavour, or from the carton
  • 1.25 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 tsp chopped fresh thyme, or 1 tsp tried thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sour cream and nutmeg for serving

Peel and slice the carrots. Place them in a pan with the butter and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the orange juice, stock and onion.

Bring to the boil, add thyme, salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender.

Allow to cool. Process the mixture in a blender until smooth. Return to the pan and reheat. Serve in individual bowls.

Alternatively, chill and then serve. Top each with a dash of sour cream sprinkled with nutmeg. Garnish with a small sprig of thyme.

3. Carrot-mint-sauce

Either as a side dish with meat, or as a refreshing dip with corn chips, etc.

You will need:
  • 250g carrots, roughly sliced
  • 1 onion, roughly diced
  • 1 apple, roughly diced
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 200ml milk
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup of fresh mint

Put the carrots and onions into a pan. Cover with water and boil over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Drain the water and put carrots, onions, apple together with the milk into a blender. Add seeds, coriander, salt pepper and fresh mint, keeping back a few mint leaves for garnish. Blend until smooth.

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Food & Recipes - Tiramisu

THERE are many variations of tiramisu. It is Italy’s most popular dessert. No matter how it is presented, tiramisu is essentially made out of lady finger biscuits dipped in coffee and mascarpone cream.

Apparently, the name tiramisu means “pick me up”. You know, something that has the capability to make you happy. There is also the preconception that tiramisu came about to save old cake and cold coffee from going to waste.

Whatever its origins, it is a marvellous, sophisticated and relatively simple dessert to make. Especially for one who does not have an oven at home!

Some Chef prefers to use chocolate sponge cake and espresso.

“Simply because it will enhance the flavours. Do remember that the mascarpone cheese has a subtle flavour.

“It is best to keep a tiramisu recipe simple. Don’t mix too many things into it. Alcohol such as amaretto, kahlua or brandy can be added. I recommend simply soaking the sponge rather than the mascarpone cream,” he said.

You will need:
  • 200g chocolate sponge, bought from bakery
  • 200g brewed espresso coffee
  • 500g mascarpone cheese (cream)
  • 100g sugar
  • 500g whipping cream
  • 2 large eggs
Note: This is a fun dessert to experiment with. You can do so by adding onto the layers canned strawberries, cherries, blueberries or anything your heart desires! Kids also like it when you throw in coloured hardshell candies like Smarties.

1. Use a cool bowl to whip cream until it is semi hard in consistency. Then chill it while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Beat the mascarpone cream with sugar until it is soft with a spatula or a wooden spoon. The final texture should be soft and shiny which means the sugar is diluted and has mixed well.

3. Break both eggs into a separate bowl. Add and fold the eggs bit by bit into the mascarpone and sugar mixture. Fold these two well together.

4. Now take out the chilled whipped cream and fold that into the mascarpone mixture.

5. Slice up your sponge cake and soak it in the espresso.

6. Pour the first layer of mascarpone mixture into a bowl.

7. Place the sliced and espresso soaked sponge cake on top of the first layer of masacarpone mix. Brush on some more espresso onto the sponge layer if you’d like (or in some cases, brandy or amaretto), depending on your taste.

8. Keep repeating the layers of mascarpone mix and soaked sponge cake slice until you almost reach the rim of the bowl.

9. While most people sprinkle some good cocoa powder atop the readied tiramisu, Chef Joe has an even better idea: simply chop up the leftover sponge cake into chunky bits.

10. Then simply sprinkle them on top of the tiramisu.

11. Now it’s ready to be chilled for a couple of hours until it becomes firm, before your guests arrive!

12. Before serving, sprinkle powdered sugar on top to make it prettier.

HERE’S how to decorate a glass bowl that contains your tiramisu. Melt some of your favourite chocolate by double-boiling it. Using a paper cone, pipe the melted chocolate onto the sides of the glass bowl. Form some pretty squiggly lines along the sides and bottom of the bowl. Then chill the bowl for a few minutes.

SOME tiramisu tips :

1. Soak strong-flavoured ingredients such as coffee, liqeur or liquor in the sponge cake rather than mixing them together in the mascarpone. This is to avoid spoiling the cheese’s flavours.

2. Do not whip cream at room temperature or use a warm bowl. This will only result in badly-whipped cream. The warmth will not allow for the cream to ‘rise’.

3. Use 35 per cent whipping cream as it will produce a very smooth cream and a fragrant taste.

4. If you do not like the idea of tiramisu served in a big bowl, just spoon the mascarpone mix into small individual cups and layer them with appropriately-sized soaked sponge. Your tiramisu will look like the ones served in fancy restaurants.

5. It helps if your kitchen is not overly warm. A cool, dry space is ideal when making desserts. A temperature of between 18ºC and 24º C is preferred.

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Asparagus is green, unless you are French or German

TO most of us asparagus is green, unless you are French or German. Serve green asparagus to a French or German and chances are he/she might not be amused. To these nationalities, the white asparagus is considered ‘Queen of vegetables’.

I am puzzled as all the asparagus I see here (both imported and local) are green in colour. However, I recently saw a strange looking imported white vegetable in a decidedly upmarket supermarket which I was told is the white asparagus.

It was explained to me by none other than a German native and chef at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Dirk Haltendorf.

A genus of the lily family, asparagus has been cultivated around the Mediterranean and enjoyed as a delicacy for 2,000 years.

It is widely regarded for its medicinal value and diuretic properties.

Asparagus is rich in vitamins A and C and minerals such as potassium and phosphorous.

Epicureans, from Aristotle to Louis XIV of France, adored it.

In Europe, asparagus is normally harvested between April and June.

According to Dirk, the Germans developed the white asparagus more than 200 years ago.

How was this done?

The young shoots were denied sunlight as they grew, by being covered with mounds of soil. They only saw daylight when the soil was removed on the day they were harvested.

Denying them sunlight (UV light in particular) means that they cannot produce chlorophyll and so do not become green.

This also gives the white asparagus a different flavour to the green version (it is less bitter and has a more intense taste, with a hint of artichoke).

Production is labour intensive and asparagus exhausts the soil quickly, so growers in Germany only produce the plant in the same field for a couple of years, then let the land rest (which explains why the price of white asparagus is high).

In the kitchen too, white asparagus requires special treatment. Before cooking, its bitter, fibrous outer skin needs to be peeled.

Asparagus peeling is an art, peel it too little and some fibre and bitterness remain, peel too much and you are wasting tasty and expensive flesh.

Dirk showed me his trusty asparagus peeling tool from Germany, and even gave me a high speed peeling demonstration.

Asparagus peeling is an art to which chefs aspire! Very few chefs are trusted by the chef de cuisine to peel the vegetable. It has to be done correctly and fast.

The peeled asparagus spears are then bundled together in bunches using a special twine tied in a special way.

The basic cooking comes as something of an anti-climax, the asparagus spears are simply steamed or boiled in lightly salted water.

Many asparagus lovers eat it with a little melted butter or Hollandaise sauce.

It can be consumed hot or cold, made into a cream soup, or wrapped in ham, bacon or crepes, and even served as a regular vegetable accompaniment to a main course, though to an asparagus lover it could never be a mere side dish.

If you enjoy green asparagus, I am sure you will appreciate the luxury of white asparagus at least as much.

Look for it in any specialist supermarket, and try it at home but remember to peel it before cooking if it is not already peeled.

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Delicious crabs

Crabs are 10-legged animals that walk sideways. There are almost 5,000 different species of crabs; about 4,500 are true crabs, plus about 500 are hermit crabs (hermit crabs don't have a very hard shell and use other animals' old shells for protection). Most crabs live in the oceans, but many, like the robber crab, live on land.A growing list of king crab recipes including main dishes, appetizers, dips, salads, soups, and other crab recipes.

Butter Crabs
  • 2kg crabs
  • A little cornflour
  • Enough oil for deep-frying
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp evaporated milk
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 10 bird’s eye chillies, crushed
  • 2 stalks curry leaves
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¾ tsp salt
Cut crabs into halves. Clean well and crack the claws. Sprinkle a little cornflour over the crabs and deep-fry in hot oil until the crabs turn red. Dish out and drain from oil.

Combine evaporated milk and egg yolks and mix well. Put butter in a wok and melt over medium heat. Pour the egg yolk mixture gradually into the melted butter at a height, allowing it to drip in a steady stream. Stir constantly to fry the egg yolk mixture until it forms fine shreds. Add the curry leaves and bird’s eye chillies. Stir-fry until fragrant.

Return the crabs to the egg mixture. Season with sugar and salt. Stir well to mix. Pour into a metal sieve to drain off excess melted butter or the oil. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately.

There are several reasons for this:

(a) Overcreaming of butter, sugar and eggs and too much baking powder.

(b) Too much liquid is used.

(c) The cake is removed from the oven before it is properly set and baked.

(d) The cake is cooked in an oven that is not hot enough.

(e) The oven door is slammed.

Tasty: Try making steamboat stock from the recipe given.

Here’s a simple steamboat stock.

Steamboat Stock

  • 2kg chicken bones and carcasses, cleaned and chopped
  • 30g dried sole of fish (peen yi
  • 500g yam bean(sengkuang), chopped
  • 2 thin slices ginger
  • 1 tsp chicken stock granules
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns
  • 3 litres water
  • Salt to taste
  • ½-1 tsp chicken stock granules
Bring water to a boil, add chicken, dried sole of fish, yam bean, ginger and peppercorns. Simmer over low heat for 2-3 hours. Strain the stock and add salt to taste, and chicken stock granules.

Here’s the recipe.

Sesame Seed Muruku

  • 300g rice flour
  • 50g black gram flour
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ajowan seeds (oman)
  • 10-15g sesame seeds, pan-fried
  • 30g butter or margarine, softened at room temperature
  • 560ml coconut milk (from 1 grated coconut)
Sift rice flour and black gram flour into a non-stick frying-pan. Fry over a gentle low heat for 4-5 minutes. Stir constantly to prevent flours from burning or getting brown. Remove and leave overnight, preferably, to cool completely.

Put prepared flours into a mixing bowl and add salt, cumin, ajowan seeds and sesame seeds. Mix in butter or margarine and gradually pour in enough coconut milk to mix into a stiff dough.

Put enough dough into a muruku mould fitted with a star nozzle and pipe into spirals, starting from the centre, onto square pieces of greaseproof paper.

Lightly press the tail end of the dough against the side of the coil of dough (this is done to prevent the muruku from uncoiling or getting out of shape during frying.)

Once all the dough is used up, heat enough oil in a wok until just hot but not smoking. Slide in the muruku dough and fry over medium heat until golden brown and crispy.

Remove and drain muruku on several layers of kitchen paper.

Store in an airtight container when cool.

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Soup Guilds

ONCE again, it’s that special day of the year when everyone is thinking of giving mum a special treat. Why not prepare these beautiful soups for her this Mother’s Day?

Mummy’s Sweet Delight is a wonderful sweet soup that can be served either hot or chilled, while the other two soups are hearty and filling. Prepare them on the very day and mum will enjoy such a treat. Make her happy and be praised by your family members for your efforts. It’s worth it.

Mummy’s Sweet Delight

  • 1 litre boiling water
  • 50g fresh lotus seeds
  • 12 gingko nuts
  • 3 dried honey dates (mat choe)
  • 10g white fungus, soaked and trimmed into florets
  • 3 red dates
  • 5g dried chrysanthemum flowers (kok fah),rinsed
  • 70g rock sugar or to taste
  • ½ can sea coconut slices, drain away the syrup

Steamed Yellow Cucumber Soup

  • 3 large yellow cucumbers (lo wong kua)
  • 75g chicken fillet, diced
  • 10g white fungus, soaked and trimmed
  • 3 button mushrooms, diced
  • 10 gingko nuts
  • 50g carrot, diced
  • 3 red dates, pitted and sliced
  • 1 litre fresh chicken stock
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • ½ tsp chicken stock granules
Slice off the top of the yellow cucumber.

Trim and cut the edge decoratively. Scoop out the seeds and soft pulp. Be careful not to damage the firm flesh.

Rinse well and surround the cucumber with tin foil to prevent it from slipping.

Bring the fresh chicken stock, white fungus, mushrooms, gingko nuts, carrot, chicken fillet and red dates to a simmering boil. Adjust with seasoning to taste.

Put the cooked ingredients into the hollowed yellow cucumber. Stand each yellow cucumber in a small bowl; steam for 25-30 minutes or until the cucumber is just soft but still retains its shape. Remove and serve immediately.

Steep chrysanthemum flowers in boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Strain to remove the flowers and add in the rest of the ingredients except the sea coconut. Bring the sweet soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the sea coconut to mix. Dish out and serve.

Herbal Chicken Soup

  • 4 pieces dried baby abalone
  • 1kg kampung chicken, skinned and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 20g American cultured ginseng (fa kei sum)
  • 10g dried cordyceps (toong choong choe)
  • 10g bilberries (kei chi)
  • 8 seeded Chinese dried dates
  • 10g dried longan
  • 2 dried scallops
  • 1 litre boiling water
  • 1 tsp salt
Soak dried baby abalone in purified water and leave in the refrigerator overnight.

Blanch chicken pieces in hot water. Drain well in a colander. Place boiling water, chicken, baby abalone, all the herbs and dried scallops into a medium-sized crockpot. Cook on low heat for 6 hours.

Add salt to taste and dish out and serve immediately.

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Fishy no more to avoid...............

Avoiding fish because of its smell and taste?

A FRIEND of mine can never eat fish when it is served whole (that is, with its head and tail).

Nothing odd about this since I can never eat meat served whole either.

Also, what turns her off fish dishes are their, uh, fishy taste.

Fish is tricky to prepare. Even when cooked in rich, spicy curries, one can never quite get rid of the fishy taste and smell. Or hanyir, as the Malays would say.

There are two ways to eliminate this fishy problem. First, simply ensure that your fish is fresh. This means its flesh is firm, its smell is not unpleasant and its scales are intact.

Second, washing them properly before cooking is important. You can either rinse it with salt and water, or with tamarind juice.

Next, comes cooking the fish. There are many ingredients you can use to make this nutritious seafood delicious: ginger, garlic, lemon grass, spices, turmeric, limes and the like.

Below is a recipe for baked fish by Izzi Restaurant on Jalan Sultan Ismail in Kuala Lumpur.


This recipe is for one person and it makes the most of fish’s juicy and tender textures. The sour and spicy tomato coulis gives it added flavours.

Pronounced as “coo-lee”, coulis is a thick sauce made from pureed and strained vegetables. It is commonly used in meat and vegetable dishes as well as a base for soups and other sauces. (the fruit version is used for desserts).

For this recipe, all you need is:

• 150gm butter fish steak, or boneless white fish such as kurau
• salt and pepper to taste

Season the fish with salt and pepper and bake in the over at 375ºC for around 7 minutes.

Baking fish at high heat will keep it moist. Do not worry about burnt fish as it cooks quickly.

As the fish is being baked, you can start making the coulis. For this you need:

• 40gm fresh tomatoes, peeled, cored and blended
• 10gm tomato paste
• 2gm Italian basil
• 2gm cili padi
• 2gm lemon juice
• salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients and simmer until the sauce is reduced. Meanwhile, gather together:

• 1 tbsp oilve oil
• 50gm fennel, sliced
• 50gm gobo root, sliced
• some sweet beans
• salt and black pepper to taste

In a pan, heat up the olive oil and saute the vegetables for around 3 minutes. Do not overcook the vegetables so that they remain crispy and sweet.

Then simmer the sauteed vegetables with the coulis until the sauce is further reduced. Serve the coulis on a plate, place the baked fish on top of it and garnish, if you like, with some Thai basil and grated parmesan.

Now tuck in and enjoy this fishy deal!

My recommendation: This is a dish to get non fish-lovers to enjoy fish dishes. You can omit the cili padi and the lemon juice from the coulis and add baked young potatoes to go with the fish. The tomato sauce will disguise the fishy flavours that children often find unappealing.

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Ipoh old-fashioned kopitiams

TALK about food in Ipoh and the older generation will mention Old Town across the Kinta River, with its fan-ventilated kopitiams serving sar hor fun, char kway teow, satay, nasi kandar and egg tarts. But for the younger folks, these eateries are passé! The food scene has changed in the former tin-mining city and the happening place is now Greentown, Ipoh’s latest commercial district.

In particular, Greentown Business Centre has developed to become the Ipoh version of Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur, while the adjacent Greentown Square is fast becoming packed with boutiques offering Malay clothes. Both complement each other, creating the city’s hottest eat-drink-and-shop spot.

One of the most popular halal restaurants here is Restoran Laksamana Cheng Ho, which also happens to be the first Chinese Muslim eatery in Ipoh, with its strong element of Chinese décor and tables covered with red cloth.

The menu is divided into western favourites, rice favourites, hawker favourites, breakfast special, laksa, pasta, snacks, salads, snacks, soups, pasta, teppanyaki, burgers and sandwiches and dessert. The best part is, the restaurant caters to all budgets.

Fried Rice & Laksa

After a seafood salad, I had an excellent Laksamana Cheng Ho Fried Rice. The rice, fried with squids, prawns and green peas, was garnished with two sticks of satay and crackers. Excellent!

I also had the laksa — the ingredients were unique. Apart from shredded pineapple and cucumber, there were pieces of fu chok (dried beancurd), hard-boiled egg and fish paste. The gravy was watery and tasted like diluted mee rebus gravy with a light fishy aroma.

If you come in a group, it’s best to pick one of the set meals. Set B, meant for five-six persons, really excited me. For RM78.80 nett, you get rice with crispy chicken in plum sauce, deepfried siakap fish with Thai sauce, beef ginger with spicy onion, nonya style prawn sambal, sizzling Japanese tofu and Chinese tea. That means you get Chinese, Japanese, Thai and nonya fare in one sitting.

Variety, Variety

Another prominent pork-free restaurant is Restoran The Mouth with a menu of 114 items. Dishes are priced from RM4 to RM12 and include Thai Style Chicken Chop, Mongol Chicken Chop, Mongol Venison Rice and Black Pepper Hor Fun.

Maria’s Café should appeal to cake lovers. It’s like Starbucks and Coffeebean, and serves cakes, coffee, floats and more floats!

Kimberley Café offers Chinese food. Its specialities are Emperor Chicken (chicken cooked with herbs) and Boneless Chicken with Dried Chili.

There are two Japanese restaurants — Ten-Good and Jyu Restaurant. For curry dishes, go to Jyu which serves Tori Curry Rice, Katsu Curry Rice and Ebi Curry Rice.

For a taste of traditional Western food, go to Ye Old English.

Old Town White Coffee has a strong presence in Greentown, occupying the top and ground floors of a corner lot.

For basic kopitiam fare, pop over to Restoran F&B Station which is famous for its honey roasted chicken wings and popiah. Want tosai, capati and teh tarik? You will find them in Salam Corner and Restoran Nasi Kandar Pesanjung.
Steamboat & Booze

Another highly recommend eatery is Chatter Place. The variety of food is impressive and reminds me of Kuala Lumpur’s Kim Gary. I ate Oriental pork chop and a mildly spicy tom yam bihun.

For a little action, go to Persiaran Greenhill’s Mamamia Steamboat Restaurant where, displayed buffet-style, are items like squid, fish, chicken, mantis prawns, noodles, cabbage and lots more. Outside, a teppanyaki cooking station adds to the dining pleasure. Pick your food and the cook will fry it for you.

Boozers are spoiled for choice in Greentown. Stairway Pub & Bistro opens early for its Happy Hours. Its state-of-the-art karaoke facilities upstairs are extremely tempting. Mike’s Place blasts the night away with live band performances and its electrifying music is bound to set your feet on fire! 11 Pub and Bistro lures a funky crowd with its cool draughts and soothing décor.

Greentown also caters to pre-dinner and post-dinner activities. The more action-oriented can indulge at J-Box Karaoke or Greentown Snooker Centre.
From Zegna To Jubah

Women can pamper themselves in Angel Spa for some slimming and beauty treatments, Pusat Reflexology Everhealth for Tibetan Huo Long Treatment and even Y&K Nail Studio.

While the husband is chilling out with a beer, the fashion-conscious missus can pick up the latest designs in Liv Fashion Design, Glamour Boutique, Zegna Collection Boutique and Ru Ru Boutique. Swanky and classy are the keywords here.

In Greentown Square, you’ll find the latest in baju kurung, sarung and jubah at Kedai Kain Syakirah, Fesyen Wor Idaman and Angur Collection.
How To Get There

Greentown is located at Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil, near Ipoh Parade and Majlis Perbandaran Ipoh. It is best to park your car and explore the area on foot. But remember that parking space is limited, so come early.

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Seafood Pie recipe

Seafood Pie

1 packet store-bought puff pastry
Seafood pie can be served with a salad for a wholesome meal.

  • 300g white fish fillet, sliced thickly
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 75g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 potato, boiled until tender and cubed
  • 2 tbsp frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp corn oil
  • 200ml fresh milk

  • 2½ tbsp plain flour mixed with 2½ tbsp water
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¾ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¾ tsp salt or to taste
  • ¾ tsp sugar or to taste

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Lightly season fish with marinade for 20-25minutes. Heat butter and corn oil in a non-stick saucepan. Add garlic, bay leaves and onion and fry until fragrant and onion starts to brown. Add mushrooms and potato cubes and fry for a while. Pour in milk and add the thickener. Bring to a low simmering boil, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Turn off the heat when the mixture thickens. Adjust the seasoning, add green peas and fish slices.

Fill two small pie dishes or a big pie dish with the prepared filling. Roll out the puff pastry so it is large enough to cover the pie dish. Trim the edge or allow the pastry to overhang slightly. Brush the top with the beaten egg. Bake in preheated oven at 190°C for about 25-30 minutes or until pastry top is golden brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

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Potatoes are nourishing, filling and tasty.

THE humble potato, a staple food originally from the Americas and now popular worldwide, is available in so many forms: boiled, mashed, French-fried and so on.

In Malaysia, perhaps rather less well-known is the baked potato a.k.a. jacket potato. You may see it on the menu in the odd restaurant or two. This is a pity, as baking is a healthy way to eat potato. It can either be a side dish or a complete meal in itself.

So what does one need? The larger variety of potato must be used for a start; the bigger the better, for example, Russet potatoes.

The small, thin-skinned and “new” potatoes are not suitable.

Baking requires “old” thick-skinned potatoes. Having purchased the right type of potato, the only other essential is an oven to cook it in. The procedure really could not be more simple.

Wash and, if necessary, gently scrub your potatoes to remove all the earth from them, leaving the skin intact.

Next, prick the potatoes deeply a few times with a toothpick or fork. Place them in a preheated oven at around 180-200°C for about 45 minutes.

You can test them to check whether they are cooked by prodding them with a fork. The skin should remain firm but the inside should be soft.

Two important points to note here are that the potatoes are cooked without any oil or fat. By cooking and eating them with the skin on, you are getting far more vitamins, minerals and roughage than you would with peeled potatoes.

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The water Thai

Thailand is visible from the top of Gunung Macinchang in Langkawi, but you don’t have to go there to feel the fiery heat of our neighbouring country’s cuisine. MANY visitors to Langkawi make it a point to ride the cable car to Gunung Macinchang where they can enjoy an unbridled bird's eye view of the surrounding land, including the southernmost Thai islets of Tarutao.

This brings to mind a lovely restaurant that offers great Thai cuisine. No, you needn’t swim across the narrow straits or brave stinging jellyfish to get to Tarutao to satisfy your craving for Thai food. Indulging in such culinary pleasures is much easier than you think.

The Pahn-Thai Restaurant in Berjaya Langkawi Beach & Spa Resort is just a 15-minute walk from the Oriental Village where the cable car is located.

Take a leisurely walk there in the evening as apart from enjoying the scenery along the way, you can also work up a healthy appetite. At the resort lobby, board an open-air van to get to the restaurant on the other side of the property.

The ride is an experience in itself and you can imagine yourself riding a tuk-tuk (taxi) in Thailand. Hold on tight as the driver manoeuvres along the meandering road but keep your eyes open for a picturesque view of chalets in a jungle setting.

Upon arrival, you will need to cross a bridge that connects the main path to a large house-like structure. Enjoy the cool evening sea breeze brushing against your face as you choose the best table for a good view of the glorious sunset.

Chefs On Hand
The menu is very diner-friendly. Look out for little chili icons next to the listings that denote the pedas (hot) level — very useful, especially for those not used to eating chili. Ask for recommendations. If you’re early, the chef himself may come along to help you decide.

Executive sous chef Wong Chin Yee heads a team of three Thai chefs in the kitchen. Wong won the individual hot dish category gold medal at the recent World Chinese Golden Chef Competition.

Thai chefs Hasadee Pooh Pra Khon, Anek Sae Thaw and Dutsadee Khueng Nok Khum have worked at renowned restaurants in Thailand and all over the world!

While waiting for the food to arrive, feel free to walk around and enjoy the famous Langkawi sunset. On a clear day, it is breathtaking to see the evening sky glow as the blazing ball of fire slowly makes its descent below the horizon.

What’s Special

The appetiser to try is Phla Goong or spicy Thai freshwater prawn. It’s not on the menu but the staff will not fail to recommend it to all diners. After all, it is the restaurant's signature dish.

The huge crustacean used is more than thrice the size of prawns we get at the market. Its pincers are gigantic, at least six inches long. Take a bite and you’re immediately stimulated by the liberal use of fragrant kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, lemon grass and a generous helping of tom yam paste. The prawns are succulent and fresh, almost as if they had just been caught.

Yum Som O, a pomelo salad with shrimps and minced chicken, has its origin in eastern Bangkok. In fact, every dish comes from a certain part of Thailand, so a meal here is like going on a Thai culinary adventure without travelling around the country.

Yum Som O, with only one chili icon, is unique as each bite causes the small pomelo sacs to burst and release the sourish juice to combine with the fish sauce and Thai palm sugar.

After this, move on to the southern provinces with Hor Mok Tha Lay or steamed seafood with chili mousse served in a young coconut. Southern Thai cuisine prominently features coconut milk. For this dish, not only is the milk used to cook the squid, prawn, mussels and fish but also the water from the young coconut as it adds to the aroma.

Next is the Chiang Mai-style Pla Kra Phong Yum Ma Muang Sud. Quite a mouthful to pronounce, this is basically deepfried seabass with a mixed mango salad on top. Eat it quickly or you’ll be disappointed. The moist salad, unfortunately, turns the crispiness of the fried fish into something leathery.

Those with a sweet tooth will adore the dessert selection. Top of the list is definitely Tub Tim Grab, a colourful dessert with yellow jackfruit, white santan and ruby red water chestnut.

Night Magic

At night, Pahn-Thai looks like a magical fairyland with its many small hurricane lamps lighting up the place and the walkway linking it to land. Viewed from afar at high tide, it appears to be floating in the Andaman Sea.

Located near the Berjaya Langkawi Beach & Spa Resort's premier chalets on water, it was once a kelong where fishermen came to harvest the bountiful fish. Most of the original structure has been maintained and customers can see what a traditional kelong looks like.

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Tale of Two Cities: Shanghai - A taste of home

MALAYSIAN cuisine is gaining popularity among people living in Shanghai. The hot and spicy food that Malaysia is known for raises the country’s profile not only as a beach paradise but also as a food heaven.

Food operators who saw the potential of this unique cuisine have seized the opportunity to open Malaysian-style restaurants in the city centre and neighbourhoods resided by the international community, especially Singaporeans and Malaysians.

Patrons who have visited Malaysia before miss its food and crave for the unique dining experience it offers.

Such, is the reason Malaysian-styled restaurants or those labelled South-East Asian restaurants have become an instant hit with the locals here.

During my visits to these restaurants in this metropolis, I often observe that many Shang-hainese are daring enough to opt for hot dishes such as curry chicken, laksa, sambal belacan and nasi lemak.

However, there are still some “reserved” customers or the non-adventurous type who would rather stick to their usual Chinese dishes, available at many Malay-sian-style restaurants who offer that local touch to those unfamiliar with our cuisine.

It may take a bit longer for those who have never been to Malaysia to enjoy our food, but I am sure more locals will be enticed by Malaysian cuisine because of referrals and recommendations from Malaysians or friends and colleagues who have tried it before.

Most Shanghainese have lesser expectations of Malaysian cuisine, compared with Malaysians living and working in the city.

As a Kuala Lumpur boy, I grew up with an abundance of good food from all parts of Malaysia. Frankly speaking, at first, I was not quite used to the “modified” Malaysian food served at a few Malaysian-style restaurants run by Malaysians.

But, after a while, I have accepted the less perfect food as it needs to be adjusted to suit the taste of the locals who still make up a bigger share of the food operators’ potential market.

One thing is for sure – the Malaysian food served in Shanghai is different from those we get in Kuala Lumpur or other parts of Malaysia.

For instance, the bah kut teh here is less aromatic and pungent than that of Klang’s famous staple, with the use of white mushrooms instead of button or black mushrooms used in Malaysia.

The curry chicken here is sweeter and less spicy while the cendol is a big letdown because of the inadequate supply of fresh coconut milk in Shanghai.

“It’s different,” said Malaysian Ann Koh who followed her husband to China three and a-half years ago. “Back home our satay sauce has chunky peanuts inside and tastes sweet, but over here, it’s very gluey and salty. So, I think the taste here has been adapted to suit the locals.”

She said despite the less authentic Malaysian food here, it is still next to the best a person could get.

Karyne Yeo rated the Malaysian food here as just “so-so”. “We haven’t tried all Malaysian-style restaurants yet, but so far for those I have tried I haven't found very good Malaysian food yet. Maybe I have to explore more,” she said.

The Malaysian chefs working here admitted that the ingredients used are rather different from those back home because it is difficult to obtain such ingredients due to the lack of supply in China.

Rendezvous Restaurant master chef Tong Yeow Nam said: “We still cannot get many ingredients in Shanghai. We have to bring them from Singapore and Malaysia.

“If the Chinese chefs do not know how to make a proper Malaysian dish, I will teach and train them. I will prepare the ingredients and sauce beforehand and all they do is follow my instructions.”

He said he would have to control the food quality as there was bound to be changes to the way of cooking the dishes by the local chefs and if that happens the restaurant would not able to win the hearts of its customers.

“It’s really hard to maintain the most authentic taste of our Malaysian food here. This is because both Chinese and Malay-sians have different ways of cooking their dishes and have distinguished tastes for food,” he said.

Kampung Kitchen master chef Lee Chau Kong pointed out that Shanghainese favour salty food and he had to adjust his way of preparing Malaysian dishes to suit the locals.

He said certain ingredients such as mint and curry leaves were still scarce and expensive in Shanghai and that he would look for ingredients from certain suppliers.

“We can also use other ingredients to substitute the typical Malaysian ingredients,” he said.

Its restaurant manager, Eric Har, said: “We have modified our menu where 80% is authentic Malaysian taste and 20% is modified to suit the taste of the locals.

“But, when serving Singaporean and Malaysian customers, we will ask the chefs to prepare the dishes in a more authentic way.”

The Malaysian food here comes with a higher price tag compared with local food. On average, each dish costs between RM13 and RM25 while a glass of teh tarik may cost as much as RM7.

Apart from Malaysian-style restaurants in Shanghai, several hotels where Malaysian managers are working at also serve some ethnic South-East Asian cuisines.

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Nail that rice?

NASI Paku? Rice with nails? Yes, there is such a dish, it seems, though many people haven’t heard of it.

Nasi Paku is actually rice with several side dishes placed on a banana leaf and wrapped with a piece of newspaper. A two-inch nail is poked through the top of the wrapping to hold everything in place.

Nasi paku was very common in Kelantan some 30 years ago but now, it is rare.

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Mee goreng champions

PENANG, the much-acclaimed food haven of Malaysia, is also a paradise for halal food – if you know where to find it. Among the most popular halal fare is mee goreng (fried noodles).

This Indian Muslim-style mee goreng or formerly known as mee goreng mamak comprises yellow noodles fried with boiled potatoes, bean sprouts and squid, fried tofu and garnished with cucur udang (prawn fritters) and browned onions.

Usually, sambal is added to give it a kick. Depending on the method of preparation, the resulting noodles can be soggy or dry, with a variety of tantalising textures from the ingredients.

Mee goreng can be found in many places, and stall owners battle among themselves everyday to win more customers and more business.

Edgecumbe Road Famous Mee Goreng

In the 1960s, Padang Brown, straddling Jalan Burmah and Jalan Datuk Keramat, was a hive of nightly activity with the clang of woks and the aroma of smells drifting from tureens.

That was the original business spot of Haji Kamaluddin Muhamad Ibrahim, another “Iron Chef’ of mee goreng. Later, when the popularity of Padang Brown waned due to a change in traffic flow, he moved to Edgecumbe Road. He fine-tuned his recipe further and garnered more fans.

When Kompleks Makanan Persiaran Gurney was set up by Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang in the early 1900s, Haji Kamaluddin was among the first stalls to move in.

Today, the “Edgecumbe Road Famous Mee Goreng” attracts an impressive crowd of lunch-time customers. Its mee goreng is spicy and extremely rich in flavour. Opening hours are from 8am to 7.30pm. It closes on Fridays.

Kafeteria Larut

Arguably the best mee goreng is found in Kafeteria Larut on Jalan Larut. Started in the 1940s, the stall did a roaring business at Northam Road before shifting to its present location. It is presently run by the founder’s son, Shah Jehan, and his two brothers. A word of warning to those who don’t eat beef: Apart from the usual ingredients, the mee goreng here also contains slices of tender beef which are often mistaken for squid. This gives a stunning contrast in texture to the noodles. However, you can ask for beef to be excluded.

The noodles are fried just right, not too soft or dry, and has enough sauces to give it a zing. Apart from mee goreng, Shah Jehan also serves mee rebus with a thick gravy. Opening hours are from noon to 6pm and it’s closed on Fridays.

To get to Kafeteria Larut, drive along Jalan Burma and park at Penang Plaza. A five-minute stroll from the back entrance of the plaza will bring you to Kafeteria Larut. Alternatively, one can come from Sultan Ahmad Shah and proceed to Jalan Larut where the most convenient parking is at the Sheraton Hotel.

Jones Road Famous Mee Goreng

Another excellent mee goreng stall is in Sin Hup Aun Coffee Shop at the junction of Solok Moulmein and Jalan Pasar. Stall owner Liakat Ali, 46, says: “The stall was started by my uncle in Jones Road 40 years ago. Then my father took over the business. Five years ago, when I took over the stall, I shifted here. I have not changed my uncle’s recipe. Eat here once and you will come back again.”

Liakat Ali’s mee goreng is spicier and soggier than that of Shah Jehan’s. The secret lies in his sambal while Shah Jehan’s tour de force is in his frying technique. Liakat Ali has not changed the name of his stall and it’s still known as “Jones Road Famous Mee Goreng”. It’s opens from 7am to 7pm, and closes every Tuesday.

Parking at Sin Hup Aun Coffee Shop is quite easy as there is an open field near the Pulau Tikus Wet Market. Visitors from outstation may find it easier to park at Bellisa Row on Jalan Burma, cross the the road and take a five-minute walk to the coffee shop.

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Cooking through generations - Malaysia's Culinary Heritage

FOOD has always been a common topic of conversation for generations. It is a normal thing for Malaysians to associate food with friends and family and there is no better reason to get together than over a meal.

Being a multi-cultural society, there are a variety of recipes, and fusion dishes adapted from various cultures.

If you are as passionate about food, then you will appreciate the effort of three women who have compiled recipes and produced a cookbook to preserve traditional recipes before they are lost forever.

This cookbook, Food From the Heart: Malaysia's Culinary Heritage contains recipes contributed by renowned local men and women with snippets about the history of a specific recipe and the story or the person behind it.

These stories make the book a lively and entertaining read. This 200-page glossy cookbook offers 86 recipes, divided into starters right up to desserts.

The idea for a heritage cookery book was thought up during a birthday lunch in 2003, when Tunku Soraya Dakhlah, Joan Foo Mahony and Jacqui Chan were munching on some delicious popiahs.

"It got us thinking about all those traditional dishes handed down from generation to generation that have been taken for granted. We then decided to preserve it in a heritage cookbook," says Chan.

They eventually became editorial directors for the book. Except for Mahony, who is a retired lawyer, established author and publisher, the others did not have any publishing experience. However, this didn't curb their enthusiasm for this project.

Tunku Soraya has worked as a producer and director for various international companies and now owns an investment company, Melewar Apex Sdn Bhd. Her company and Mahony's JF Publishing Sdn Bhd have jointly formed Cross Time Matrix Sdn Bhd, which is publishing this cookbook.

Chan, a retired proprietary trader, is actively involved with fundraising projects for various charity organisations.

The amazing thing is that all three women are not trained chefs but rather food lovers who are trying to compile their favourite recipes remembered from childhood.

This cookbook explores the interconnections of Malaysian food, its people and a multicultural country that plays a major part in culinary influences, each voicing its signature dish or unique preparation methods and style.

The primary purpose is to rediscover and rewrite heritage recipes back into history.

Mahony explains, "This book is comparatively different than other cookbooks, due to the fact that it has additional interesting quotations from the people who contributed the recipes."

Among the recipes and their contributors include the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Fauziah Binti Al Marhum Tengku Abdul Rashid (Ikan Singgang), Geeta Jayabalan (Spicy Fish Briyani) and Brinjal & Prawn Salad by Datuk Tunku Mizan (in memory of his grandmother, the first Queen of Malaysia), and Chef Wan's Kerabu Meehoon, just to name a few.

The proceeds of this cookbook will be channelled to noted charities, which are The Budiman Charitable Foundation, The Salvation Army, Sri Agathiar Sanmarka Sanggam, Spastic Children's Association of Penang, Rumah Charis, House of Peace and Women's Aid Organisation.

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Nasi Padang from Sumatra to Malaysia

Minang, Nasi Padang (Padang Rice style) is probably the longest-running nasi padang stall on Penang island. Another reason for its fame is its authentic padang dishes.

The family-owned business is a stall located in a Chinese coffee-shop at Transfer Road and has been in business since the 1940s. For the uninitiated, nasi padang refers to a style of cooking that originated from Western Sumatra, Indonesia.

Down History Lane

First, here’s a bit of history about Transfer Road to whet our appetite. The area was originally inhabited by the Jawi Peranakan community. A canal linked Transfer Road to the Prangin River, allowing boats to come up to the area.

In the early 20th century, the Jawi Peranakan community moved out and was replaced by Tamil Muslims from Kadaiyanallur. However, pockets of Indo-Malay houses still remain in the area.

In 1867, when the Straits Settlement Government was transferred to the Colonial Office in Singapore, Transfer Road was so named to commemorate the occasion.

What’s Special

The signature dishes are rendang Minang, fried keli (catfish) ayam bakar (grilled chicken) and crispy fried beef lung. Ooh, the rendang Minang practically melts in your mouth! I also ate acar (pickled vegetables) and sweet potato leaves cooked in coconut milk. They provided a much-needed relief to the richness of the rendang.

For a nice kick, eat the fried keli with sambal belacan. The prawn-with-petai was also a love-at-first bite affair. The list is long, including ikan bakar (fish marinated in tamarind and grilled), cincaru sambal (horse-mackerel stuffed with sambal), sayur lodeh (mixed vegetables in coconut milk), chicken korma, tempe, etc.

Though Padang cooking is characterised by lots of chilies, lemon grass and turmeric, surprisingly, most of the dishes are not very hot.

For salad lovers, there are various types of ulam, young jackfruit, sliced cucumber and several kinds of sambal. There are also other vegetable dishes such as beansprouts in coconut gravy, brinjal in sambal and long beans fried with shrimps.

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