Chinese New Year with a twist

January 17, 2013

It's that time of the year when dragons are back in Central London. Yes you guessed it: it's Chinese New Year, the year of the Black Snake... and that sounds REALLY cool. 

So what's the link between my Malaysian cooking classes and the Chinese New Year, literally two different nationalities, right? (although for many people Japanese, Malaysian and Korean are Chinese... tomayto tomahto) 

Wellllll, again a bit of history, just a tiny wee bit won't kill you. So between the 15th and the 16th century Chinese immigrants were sent to Malaysia during the Colonial era, and they married local Malaysian women. There was literally notin' to do, apart from working, renewing the population and eating. Those Malay-Chinese brides were called "Nyonya" (say nonya) and, of course, they were doing all the cooking. They used Chinese ingredients mixed with local spices like coconut milk, lemon grass, pandan leaves, chillies and turmeric. So it's a mix of Chinese and Malay cooking with some Thai influence. See? This is the link between Chinese New Year and my Malaysian cookery classes! (pfew!)

So I came up with a menu that's typical Nyonya. The first one is one my favourite: "Mee Siam". It is a very addictive dish that locals have for breakfast lunch dinner, yes it's the Malaysian all day breakfast. It's sweet, sour, salty, tangy, hot and served with Chinese chives, fried tofu, fried shallots and lime. Then we will make  "Sambal Udang", it's a very deeply rich chilli sauce in which whole prawns are swimming. This one goes nicely with "Nasi lemak", it means coconut rice, and it is served with fried tiny anchovies, roasted peanuts, egg, cucumber, and shrimp sauce called "sambal belacan" (I keep this one as a surprise *grin*). For dessert I chose "Kuih Dadar", they are pancakes made with pandan leaves extract and filled with sweet grated coconut. At this point you can really forget about your diet. 

Once you had mee siam, sambal udang, nasi lemak and kuih dadar, you can die in peace basically (unless belacan kills you first). 

Kuih Lopes: a dessert from heaven... and from hell!

November 2, 2012

Come November and already the Christmas bombardment is nearly reaching its peak... “BUY BUY BUY NOOOW!” But I don't have enough saliva or energy to spit on my telly (if you're eating: bon appetit!). So I've decided to cook my presents, like I have done last year.

I wish I could give an omelette with a red ribbon on it, but it won't go down too well with the rest of the crowd, who is expecting something very very special this year... but what?

So after wrecking my brain, I’ve decided ...

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Malaysia Day

September 7, 2012

Another excuse to scoff some tasty food: Malaysia Day.

Every 16th September Malaysians have a day off (and God knows if they have a lot of them!) and what do they do? They eat! They don't so much talk about the weather as about food, their national pastime. See? food distracted me already! So back to Malaysia Day which commemorates the joining of Malaya, North Borneo (now called Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore. Thing is that Singapore got its own independence from Malaysia in August '65... so ...

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Chulalongkorn Day Special

September 6, 2012
Ok a bit more serious now, a bit of culture for a change! (it's foodie culture, so read it please, it might be useful for impressing your in-laws during an awkward silence)

So Chulalongkorn Day is a public holiday in Thailand that commemorates the day Chulalongkorn (aka King Rama V) died. King Rama V was a renowned gourmet who loved to relax over food. He was a bit fed up with the royal food served to him at his court (oh I feel so sorry for him (!)) and was longing for things like shrimp past...

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Malaysian Popiah

September 6, 2012

First make sure your camera is on

get ready to draw 

Find a Malaysian (or Singaporean) and ask if they like popiah
Take a picture


  Those are tears of joy by the way

So what's the big deal about popiah? Well everything... the fact that it takes 2 billion years to make one popiah skin (it goes so fast that it's impossible to take a clear picture, except if you've got a camera better than mine)

and the fact that it tastes GORGEOUS

needless to say that I do not teach how to make popiah (unless you...

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Tofu with Smoky Coconut Salad

September 5, 2012
Another recipe if you are a busy, vegetarian and only have 5 min to spare:

Smoky Tofu & Coconut Salad

For one portion

2 cubes fried tofu, sliced
1cm red onion, thin slices
1 teaspoon coriander leaves
5cm carrot, grated
5cm cucumber, thin slices
1 tablespoon grated coconut
1 tablespoon peanuts
1 tablespoon coconut milk
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
salt to taste

First make the dressing: toast grated coconut and peanuts in a pan (so without fat, just wait that they turn brown). Pound them togeth...

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September 5, 2012

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