East Malaysia Cooking Trip – Part 1

brinjals

Hello my blogger friends, greetings from Hong Kong! For those who have been following my blog, I’ve finally settled down in this city that never sleeps. It’s been more than two months since my last post and I hope you will still get to see this in your reader or email 🙂

I am preparing to start cooking and baking soon but for now, I would love to share with you an amazing trip that I’ve made before my move. For this trip, I get to stay with my relative in Sarawak, East Malaysia who owns a little vegetable garden right in front of the house. Of course, you know my itchy hands wouldn’t leave those gorgeous plants alone. Hee hee!

chinese squash

These are oriental squash which are great for making clear soup with dried scallops and pork short ribs. Boil them together for an hour and all you need is just a little salt to flavor it.

be different

While most squash are long and straight, some just prefers to be different.

robot oven

dough in robot oven

I would like to introduce this powerful oven that looks more like an alien in scifi films which can pre-heat to 220C within 10minutes. The only thing to be careful is that the heating element is at the top so attention is needed to avoid the crust of my bread from getting burnt. Yes, I baked bread with it and the result is very satisfying.

foccacia

I made this foccacia bread with dried Italian herbs using that robot. It was really crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The bread was very well received and before I knew it, the pan was empty.

12 hour overnight poolish 

150g strong flour, 150g warm water, 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

Mix everything together  and let it ferment overnight.

Main dough

278g strong flour, 150g warm water, 1 & 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast, dried Italian herbs, 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, 2 tablespoon olive oil, poolish

Mix everything together and work your dough till it is smooth. Let it rest for 45 mins. Stretch and fold the dough and let it rest for another 45mins. Pre-heat oven to 200C and bake for 20mins. Sprinkle with grated parmigiano if desired.

harvesting egg plant

I just can’t keep my hands off these gorgeous brinjals or long eggplants. I’m so lucky that they are at their best when I was there. Green on the inside with no seeds yet.

pasta with brinjals

With limited ingredients, I turned the brinjals into this pasta dish.

brinjals, cut into circles

red chili, chopped

1 onion, chopped

italian herbs

1 big lime juice

olive oil

sea salt

black pepper

your favorite pasta

Fry brinjals in olive oil till caramelized and set aside for later use. With the same oil, saute onions till caramelized and put in red chili, sea salt and pepper. On another burner, cook pasta to al dente and keep some pasta water. Back to the frying pan, add in lime juice and pasta water follow by a good handful of italian herbs. Put in pasta, brinjal and toss well. Serve with grated parmigiano and perhaps more chili.

It’s been a great trip. I’ll share more recipes in part 2 okay?

STEAM CHICKEN SALAD

steam chicken salad 1

Quite often, I like to steam all ingredients to make a complete dish to get a balance in my diet. This recipe is one of my all-time favorite. You can boil the vegetables but I prefer to cut them into bite size and steam it to retain their full flavor and they cook fast in this way.

Chicken breast

Carrots

Potatoes

One Shallot, finely chopped

A sprig of rosemary

Whole grain mustard

Mayonnaise

Lemon juice

Olive oil

Sea salt

White pepper

Black pepper

steam chicken salad 2

Season chicken breast with salt and white pepper and steam them whole with rosemary. Cut into bite size when cooked. Cut potatoes and carrots and steam till tender. For the dressing, combine shallots, mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper and olive oil. Mix well then coat chicken, potatoes and carrots evenly. You can serve it immediately or leave it in the fridge for an hour.

LEMON TARTS

tarts

I happen to be at Savour Singapore last Friday just in time to join a free baking class. I was overjoyed when I know that we are making lemon tarts. This is my first tart with the flavor I love.  Honestly, I was quite afraid of the amount of egg yolks, butter, sugar and cream that goes into it. I will probably cut down on the sugar if I make it again. 

It was a 90 minutes session which leave us with not enough time to do a proper knead and rest the dough. Bain Marie was done in a rush and the finish product was unable to set in the fridge long enough to be ready for garnish.

I did an untidy job in pressing the dough to the cups which turns out ugly but it was still a great experience and I am not afraid to start making desserts now.

me

 

recipe

FLUFFY LOAF

fluffy_new2

I love making ciabatta bread the most because it is easier than baguettes and the ingredients are as simple. And I can still get crispy crust with good crumb. But once in a while, I would miss the texture of a fluffy white loaf and tasty French toast that can be made from it. 

fluffy 2

This recipe is almost the same as ciabatta (click here for recipe) except with the replacement of water with warm milk and the addition of 1 teaspoon of sugar and an egg for the main dough. The overnight starter stays the same.

For the final proofing, shape dough into a loaf and let it rise in a baking tin for a good 2 hours before baking in a 425F pre-heated oven for 35 minutes. 

SPICY TOMATO BASIL SOUP

tomato basil soup 1

I have always wanted to make this soup using big fresh sweet juicy tomatoes only to realize it is not going to happen. Such tomatoes don’t exist here. They are all sour. So I tried using Italian canned tomatoes which turn out great!

canned tomatoes

Italian canned tomatoes

Loads of fresh basil

The hottest chili you can find, chopped

One onion, chopped

Fresh milk (use cream if preferred)

Olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly crushed black pepper

In a pot, fry onions and chili in olive oil till onions starts to brown. Pour in tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Add in all the basil, pepper and salt. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Blend everything in a food processor till smooth. Return to pot and add milk. Bring to boil and serve immediately with crusty bread.

SEVEN COUNTRIES IN ONE PLATE mango and prawn salad

seven countries

This is what happens when we do not have our own produce. Thai mangoes are in season and I love it with prawns. There are many recipes to pair up these two beautiful ingredients but I picked the easy way out due to my busy schedule at work.

Mangoes from Thailand

Prawns from Indonesia

Cherry Tomatoes from Cameron Highlands, West Malaysia

Avocado from Australia

Lemon from Turky

Olive Oil from Italy

Black Pepper Corns from Sarawak, East Malaysia, Borneo

Sea Salt from France

Dried herbs from Australia

photo (9)

Bring a pot of water to boil and squeeze in a wedge of lemon juice. Cook prawns with shell on. Transfer prawns into ice water. Remove shell and vein then slice into half. Cut mango, tomatoes and avocado into bite size.

In a small bowl, mix olive oil, pepper, salt, lemon juice and herbs. Pour over the above and mix well. 

CIABATTA BREAD

photo(96)_frontpage 2

photo(95)_dough

photo(94)

photo(113)

I survived three weeks of hectic schedule at work and finally had a chance to return to my kitchen and play with a 70% hydration ciabatta dough. It turns out alright with the crumb I wanted. This time I used a poolish (overnight starter) to give the unique flavor a bread should have.

This recipe makes one loaf.

Poolish:

150g warm water

150g bread flour or all purpose flour with 10%-12% protein

1/8 teaspoon dried yeast

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Cover well with plastic sheet and leave it for 12 hours. I always prepare it the night before.

Dough:

150g warm water

280g flour

1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon dried yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

green olives (optional)

Mix all ingredients (including poolish) and work the dough for 10-15 minutes. It is a sticky dough but avoid adding more flour while working on it. 

Let it rest in a covered bowl for 45 mins.

Stretch and fold the dough from 4 sides and let it rest in a covered bowl for 45 mins.

Sprinkle enough flour on a baking tray and shape the dough into a ciabatta. Cover with plastic bag and let it rest for a good 2 hours.

Add sliced olives on top. (optional)

Preheat oven to 425F and bake for 30 minutes.

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This bread can stay soft on the inside for 3 days before it starts to become stale.

SPICY GARLIC MUSHROOM

spicy mushroom 4

It’s been a busy week at work. Today I decide to take a breather and left office before the stars starts to glitter. Not that I can admire them through the gaps between those skyscrapers.

Returning to my kitchen always makes me happy. With music and a sip of chardonnay, I made this Spanish tapas to go with homemade crusty bread (click here for recipe) which is now always available on the dining table.

spicy mushroom 1

spicy mushroom 2

Your favorite mushrooms

Chopped garlic

Chopped red chili

Hot paprika

Tobasco sauce

Olive oil

Freshly crushed black pepper

Sea salt

spicy mushroom 3

Fry mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat till they start to shrink. Put in garlic, paprika, pepper, salt and fry till fully cooked. Sprinkle a good amount of Tobasco sauce over and top it up with chili. Serve immediately.

The best part comes after you have finished the mushrooms and use crusty bread to wipe up all the garlicky chili oil.

You might want to get ready a large glass of lemonade. 

BAMBOO SHOOT IN OLIVE OIL

bamboo shoots 1

It is always fun to visit the local market during Chinese New Year period. This is when I can see a lot of rare ingredients that could not be found at other time of the year.

Bamboo shoot used to be a poor man’s food which had become an expensive delicacy. The traditional way of cooking uses boiling salt water to soften it before frying. This time, I fry it raw to retain its crunchiness. I was lucky it turns out well.  

bamboo shoots 2 bamboo shoots 3

Bamboo shoot, remove the layers of outer skin (more than expected) and cut into bite size

Garlic

White wine

Olive oil

Sea salt

Crushed black pepper

Lemon juice

Fry garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Put in bamboo shoot follow by salt and pepper. Add in a glut of white wine and cook for 5 minutes. Squeeze a wedge of lemon juice over and serve immediately.