Creamy Chicken Soup

It’s been a while since my last post on this space. I find myself a little behind as I am now officially back at work since the first of June, after two years and eight months of a career break. Truth to be told, coming back to work wasn’t as easy as I had always thought, nevertheless I am trying my level best to adapt to my new work environment. This transitional period is equally important for me to regain my long lost self confidence too. I try to stay motivated as much as I can by focusing on my goal, for it is the sole reason for me to go back to work. So, let’s hope I survive the six months of my probationary period and eventually get the employment confirmation afterwards.

Now that I am back to work, I don’t get to play in the kitchen as much as I did before. The long hours of my daily commute and work, added to an overload of new information to learn everyday, while at the same time recalling my work-related past experienced, is really taxing by the end of my day. On top of that, I only get one day off a week. Not that I am complaining, but I am still adjusting to my new routine. As a result, I have lost my mojo in writing for my blog and in cooking altogether.

Having said that, this recipe that I created by accident last February, is too good to not to share. Who would have thought that cooking with whatever is leftover in the fridge could actually please the taste buds. But of course, a bit of knowledge of fundamental cooking comes in handy too. Not just that, I was impressed with the photograph that I made of it. I personally think it deserves an entry on this happy place of mine !

chicsoup.72.jpg



Creamy Chicken Soup

*****

Knob of butter
1/4 yellow onion - chopped
2 chicken drumsticks
1/2 small size carrot - chopped
1 medium size potato - chopped
2 cabbage leaves - chopped
2 cloves of garlic - smashed
4 whole peppercorns
1L / 4.5 cups water
1/4 cup cooking cream
Salt & Pepper

*****

Melt butter in a medium heat pan.
Add in chopped onion - fry for two minutes.
Place in chicken drumsticks - fry until browning.
Stir in carrot, potato, cabbage leaves,
garlic and peppercorns - fry for two minutes.
Pour in water and let it boil for a minute
before bringing the heat to low.
Let it simmer for one hour, or until 
it boils down to half.
Then, turn off the heat and let cool.
Remove chicken meat from the bones and
blitz it together with the rest 
until smooth.
Sieve back into pot and warm up on a low heat.
Season well.
Add in cooking cream, stir until incorporated.
Pour in a cup for you to enjoy !



A cuppa homemade creamy chicken soup on a moody afternoon … I’m sold !

X

Fried Chicken Mamak Style !

mamakfriedchic1.72.jpg

If you are in Malaysia, or have been to Malaysia before, surely you must know how famous Mamak food is, especially in Penang. Mamak people are the Indian Muslim community who migrated to Malaysia centuries ago.

mamakfriedchic2.72.jpg

Their signature dish of ‘Nasi Kandar’ is basically white rice served with many types of curries all at one go, as well as other condiments. I love it when they serve all these on a banana leaf !

Their fried chicken in particular is my favourite. Packed with the flavour of several spices (I’m yet to discover the secret) that gives an explosion to your taste buds when it’s done right, not to mention the crispy crunchy skin, it is best to have when still hot.

mamakfriedchic.72.jpg

So, this is my first take on their famous fried chicken … and hopefully much more to come ūüôā

X

Eggs Benedict

Of all the fancy egg dishes for breakfast, I honestly think that Eggs Benedict is the trickiest. It requires a bit of understanding of the cooking process, and definitely needs some practice to perfect it. Personally, I tackle it step by step, layer upon layer, before I begin to construct, and present it on a plate. And after three attempts, I am now happy with the final combination and ready to share my twist to it.

Original Eggs Benedict consists of English muffins, a slice or two bacon strips, topped¬†with poached egg(s) and blanketed with buttery Hollandaise sauce. So, unless I am cooking for a large crowd, Baking an English muffin just for myself is not really an economical approached, no ?! Moreover, I don’t know anywhere nearby where I can get English muffins .. Therefore, I am using whatever I have in my pantry, but keep it simple, as the crucial parts are poaching the eggs and making a buttery and velvety Hollandaise sauce. These steps can be difficult to master.

eggbenedict.jpg



Hollandaise Sauce

*****

Two egg yolks
1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
1/2 Teaspoon of mustard
100gm butter - melted on a Bain-marie.
Salt & Pepper

*****

On a Bain-marie, whisk two egg yolks together with
1 tablespoon of lemon juice and
1/2 teaspoon of mustard for around one minute.
Then, slowly pour on the 100gm melted butter
on a steady stream whilst whisking at the same time,
until the butter is incorporated and 
you get a smooth and silky, thickened sauce.
Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Once, ready, serve immediately.
If not, cover with cling film and keep in warm place.

*****

Important notes:

*Make sure the bowl for whisking the yolks
is not touching the surface of the water,
 or it will be too hot and 
turn the yolks into scrambled eggs instead.
If the bowl is getting too hot, remove it from 
the Bain-marie for few seconds*

**keep whisking the yolks at all time
while slowly pouring the melted butter so they will 
emulsify into a smooth sauce and not split**

***If the sauce splits, add in few drops of 
cold water and continue whisking.
You can do this step to loosen the sauce too,
if it is too thick to your liking***

****Never warm under direct heat which
can cause the sauce to split*****

*****This sauce doesn't keep for more than
two days*****

*****

Serving suggestion:

On toasted wholemeal bread, 
place rocket leaves,
followed by smoked salmon,
then carefully place the poached eggs,
before pouring the Hollandaise sauce.
Set grilled cherry tomatoes at the side.
It's ready to be savoured !


Making poached eggs is easy, as long as you understand the process involved. Perhaps, I’ll remember to snap some photos the next time I make it so I can post it on my blog …

X

Homemade Egg Noodles

Imagine you’re walking towards some street food hawker stalls…. as you approach, your nasal sensory receptors are hit by a diffusion of aromatic air coming from a broth that is boiling away. The tantalising aroma then directs your eyes to a glossy skinned chicken or duck, hanging alongside as well as noodles and some condiments on a nearby transparent glass board. Around you are other stalls with tables already set with chopsticks and chilli infused soy sauce or vinegar. And you can see people sitting there slurping away at their delicious noodles in a big bowl of steaming hot broth. MY OH MY !!

I love my noodles served in a big bowl of aromatic clear broth, but with no vegetables, only meat. So good !

en.5.jpg

Noodles are a staple food for the Chinese. A quick look on Google gives me the idea that noodles originated in mainland China, and were brought into Malaya (as Malaysia was previously known) by Chinese via Malacca as traders and merchants, or as prospectors looking for work in the tin mines and rubber plantations. And up to this day, noodles are still very famous among the Chinese in Malaysia. Too bad I cannot enjoy noodles at the Chinese restaurant or hawker stalls as I am not sure of the ingredients, i.e. pork. But as this culinary journey evolves, many restauranteurs are now aware of this and have started promoting halal Chinese food, mostly in the up market restaurants, thus providing an opportunity for expanding their business too.

I’ve seen some¬†Chinese restaurants¬†make them fresh¬†to¬†order and¬†indeed¬†they are making it the traditional way.¬†I am assuming it is hard work,¬†especially for the arms,¬†and energy consuming;¬†lots of folding and twisting and pulling¬†to¬†eventually create¬†a smooth and silky yet¬†strong¬†string of noodles. As I was¬†so¬†intrigued by¬†this, I decided to make my own noodles following the traditional¬†method,¬†and by that I mean without a noodle making¬†machine. So, out of¬†the¬†many types of noodles, shapes, lengths and textures,¬†I decided to make¬†egg noodles, simply because it seems easier than the rest.

There are many recipes out there, and they are more or less the same, all calling for four standard ingredients; which are flour, salt, eggs and water; all basic pantry items. But I decided to use bread flour because of the higher protein content that helps to strengthen the noodles and to give an elastic texture. And because of that, I can skip the use of alkaline water that is used widely in commercial noodles, contributing to a bitter after taste. Another thing, I added turmeric powder to my noodle dough to give it some colour, rather than just pale noodles. Trust me, it is not rocket science!


Egg Noodles

*****

300gm (3 cups) bread flour / all purpose flour
5 gm (1 teaspoon) salt
1 egg
2 gm (1/2 teaspoon) turmeric powder (optional)
150ml (slightly less than 1 cup) water

en.1.jpg
*****

Mix bread flour, salt and turmeric powder.
Make a well in the middle and add the egg.
Mix the egg with flour in a circular motion, 
working from the inside towards the outside.
Add the water little by little to the mix.
Use the base of your palm to knead the dough,
making sure all ingredients are well combined and 
smooth, around 5 to 10 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball and wrap with cling film,
rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

en.2.jpg
Next, bring out the dough, pat with a 
rolling pin for 5 minutes.
Reshape again into a ball, wrap with cling film and 
rest in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
*This step is mainly to relax the gluten,
so it will be easier to roll in the next steps*
Then, divide the dough into two, wrap one half with 
cling film and keep in the fridge.
Roll the other half on a surface that is 
dusted with flour.
It's a bit difficult at the beginning, but keep 
rolling the dough until it becomes
thin, but not paper thin.

en.3.jpg
Between rolling, make sure to dust the dough and surface 
with flour every now and then.
Once you reach the desire thickness,
fold the noodle sheet.
Using a sharp knife, cut your noodle sheet 
into thin strips.
Slowly, unfold the noodles to get the long stringy shapes.
Again, dust it with flour to
prevent from sticking.
**You can continue with another half, 
or freeze it for later use** 
Now its ready for you ūüôā

en.4.jpg
*****

Serving suggestion:

Boil water in a pot, adding a generous
amount of salt.
Once boiling, add the noodles, 
blanch for 2 to 3 minutes,
then drain in a sieve.
Drizzle a bit of oil to prevent from sticking, 
and you're ready to be serve with 
any gravy or broth, or for frying too.

*****

Storing suggestion:

This recipe yields around 1kg of egg noodles.
If you are not cooking it straight away, 
skip the blanching and keep in an 
airtight container and freeze. 
Keep up to three months.
Always freeze in portions for use later.
Then, when you are ready to cook it, 
take out and blanch it straight away
as per serving suggestion.

*****


After all the hard¬†work of preparing these¬†noodles, it was so satisfying to have¬†them¬†with my favourite homemade chicken broth.¬†And with that, I am looking forward to exploring more noodle recipes but surely, I’ll use the noodle maker next time !!

X

What are your local delicacies ?

It all started when I lived in Saudi Arabia for nine years. Being an expat, and working in a multicultural background, I was often asked by my colleagues about traditional Malaysian dishes, and I hardly knew the answers. Cooking wasn’t my forte; even making a bowl of instant noodles was a big mission for me at that time! Somehow, my poor explanation of Malaysian foods made me swallow hard. But, those questions also made me reflect on the good food I enjoyed at home. Collectively, the vivid memories of foods prepared at home by my mum and grannies, as well as traditionally prepared local foods I had tasted around Malaysia were my benchmarks whenever I described Malaysian delicacies. And these same memories made me crave for mum’s home cooked food and local Malaysian dishes even more !

magichand

At that time, the internet was my only source for Malaysian recipes, other than from my mum, whom I have always regarded as the best cook ever. I could have asked her for recipes and details instead, but somehow my ego was larger than me. Besides, I needed to prove to her that I too, can cook! As a result, after I prepared my dishes, I always ended up frustrated when my food tasted nothing close to what I had expected, in comparison to the flavours that are registered on my taste buds. I might be exaggerating a little, but then again, the listed ingredients sometimes called for the use of artificial flavouring that my mum never used in her cooking (and I don’t fancy either), or typical Asian ingredients that I couldn’t get in Saudi Arabia. Honestly, I do believe these factors affected the final results. Out of curiosity, I am always on the lookout for any relative information, especially regarding substitute ingredients, in the making of original Malaysian dishes that don’t compromise the original taste. So, yes, back then, many long phone calls back home to mum, did relieve some, if not all of my misery.

Known as the melting pot of Asia, Malaysia is a country where food is equally represented in the diverse, multiracial, and multicultural society, as reflected on the gastronomic scene that has expended tremendously. It has a vast variety of food choices ranging from local, international, or fusion, either from hawker street food stalls or at fine dining restaurants, all of which are available at the convenience of the consumers, and to suit all levels of budgets.  Indeed, I am still developing my sensory palate, as Malaysian foods are so rich in cultural and regional influences.

On a side note, I occasionally find similarities in other regional foods. Some of it is very similar in taste, being claimed as traditional local food by few countries. For instance, Nasi Goreng or friend rice in English language, is being claimed as Singaporeans, as well as an Indonesian local dish, while in Malaysia too, we have our own version, and not forgetting Thai fried rice. So, this makes me question the criteria for establishing a dish as a local delicacy. Moreover, how do people validate the identity and authenticity to make such claims ?

Now that I am back in Malaysia, I have set myself the mission to sample and learn as many local delicacies as I possibly can. At the same time, I wish to explore its history and how that influences each and every dish, in order to fully understand the food, to appreciate the local produce, and altogether to embrace the contrast I am living in. Simultaneously, I hope to try cooking many of these new recipes, as well as perfecting my home cooking skills. In other words, I am challenging my own ability in recognising the complexity of the foods I am consuming, thus expanding my own culinary repertoire.

X