CRIZ BON APPETITE

Savoring The Best All Over Town…

Swez Brasserie @ Eastin Hotel, Penang, would be having its Chinese New Year’s Buffet and Chinese Odyssey Promotion for the month of February 2013 (1-28 February 2013). This promotion would be under the skillful hands of the Jr. Sous Chef, Chef Ong Chin Hock and Chinese Chef, Chef Cheah Teik Huat. You would be offered a variety of Chinese cuisine such as roasted duck spring rolls, braised black chicken with snow pear soup, steamed sea bass with superior sauce and many more to tempt your appetite.

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Of course, each Chinese New Year it’s a must to have Yee Sang. Normally, Yee Sang is to be taken on the 7th day of Chinese New Year to celebrate Ren Ri (人日), the Day of Humankind, when according to the Chinese legend, Goddess Nu Wa created humanity on this day. But today, it’s taken just any day as the act of tossing the mixed ingredients in the air symbolizes “moving upwards” with the wish for our fortune to rise even more during the forthcoming year. The Fresh Salmon Yee Sang (鮮鮭魚撈魚生) would also available for take away from 4-23 February 2013 at RM68++ (4-6 persons) or RM88++ (8-10 persons).

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Another appetizer would be their Marinated Jellyfish with Shredded Chicken (海蜇凉拌雞絲). I quite like this dish as the jellyfish had that crunchiness, pepped up with a light spicy sweet sauce. However, the shredded chicken was a bit too dry to my liking due to the lack of dressing sauce. The dish would be better if a bit of coriander leaves being added in.

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The Roasted Duck with Mix Vegetables Spring Rolls (脆皮燒鴨春卷) was actually a disastrous dish for me. The usage of poh piah (spring roll) skin was just not right. The rolls tend to get rather soggy after awhile. I wondered why they did not use those egg crepes as served with Peking Duck.

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We were also served Double Boiled Black Chicken with Snow Pears Soup (雪梨燉黑雞湯). I must admit that the soup was filled with flavors with strong hints of sweetness from the pears and dates plus some usage of dong quai (當歸/Angelica sinensis).

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The Steamed Sea Bass with Superior Sauce (清蒸鱸魚配上等醬油) was simple but yet delicious. On top of the superior sauce being use, some slices of mushroom boosted up the flavor more. It would be great to have some sliced red dates added in too for some extra sweetness.

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The Braised Chinese Cabbage with Black Moss & Dried Oysters (燉白菜髮菜蠔乾) was somewhat different compared to how I would cook it. This dish has more gravy just like the banquet style of dishes. There were some added dried scallops. The dried oysters basically lost all the flavors into the gravy. It would be best if they were pan seared to lock in the flavors.

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Somehow the Stir Fried Tiger Prawns with Golden Pumpkin Sauce (南瓜醬炒大蝦) did not capture the appetite of most of us as the pumpkin sauce was too overpowering and hid the true flavors of the prawns. It would be better to just cook it the Kam Heong (Fragrant Fry) or Har Lok (Sweet Spicy) style where we get to taste the freshness of the prawns. Anyway, I don’t fancy tiger prawns being cooked this way too.

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As for dessert, we had Double Boiled Papaya with Fresh Milk (鮮牛奶燉木瓜). To some, it had a tad of bitterness but it was fine for me. However, I personally felt that the papaya used was rather too ripe. The whole concoction was like missing a bit of bites. Moreover, the dessert tasted rather mushy with traces of coagulated milk.

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Lastly, Baked Mandarin Orange Cheese Cake (烤橘子奶酪蛋糕) was served. Without knowing the name for the cake, I would have praised it heavenly for the balance in the usage of lemon zest was perfect. However, knowing that it was supposed to be mandarin orange flavor, I found it to lack that distinctive mandarin orange flavor. Moreover, only a small amount of orange flesh was noticeable.

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Overall, some of the dishes to be served during the Chinese New Year as well as during the Chinese Odyssey can be rather unique on its own. No doubt a bit of fusion can be quite good for a change but it defeated the purpose of celebrating the festive season with the taste of yesteryears since some of the dishes would only be cooked once a year during this season by many families. Other than that, it’s still a nice spread to welcome in the joyous Snake year.

Chinese New Year’s buffets and performances are listed as below:

Chinese New Year’s eve auspicious reunion buffet dinner with Yee Sang
9 Feb 2013, 6.30pm-10.00pm
RM98++ (adult), RM52++ (child)

Chinese New Year prosperity buffet dinner with Yee Sang
10 & 11 Feb 2013, 6.30pm-10.00pm
RM88++ (adult), RM44++ (child)

Chinese New Year special dynasty Hi-Tea with Yee Sang
10 & 11 Feb 2013, 12.00pm-3.00pm
RM68++ (adult), RM34++ (child)

Performances:
Meet & Greet the “Fok Lok Sau”: 9 Feb 2013, 8.00pm-9.00pm
Chinese Orchestra Performance: 9, 10 & 11 Feb 2013, 8.00pm-9.00pm
Meet & Greet the God of Prosperity: 10 & 11 Feb 2013, 12.30pm-1.30pm
Lion Dance performance: 11 Feb 2013, 10.00am

Fresh Salmon Yee Sang is also available for take away from 4-23 February 2013
Price: RM68++ (4-6 persons) or RM88++ (8-10 persons).

Here’s the summary of the Chinese Odyssey Promotion.

CHINESE ODYSSEY PROMOTION (1-28 FEBRUARY 2013)
Lunch (12.00 noon – 2.30pm): Monday – Friday
RM48++ (adult), RM24++ (child)
Hi-Tea (12.00 noon – 3.00pm): Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays
Normal weekend: RM55++ (adult), RM28++ (child)
Festive Occasion: RM68++ (adult), RM34++ (child)
Semi Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm): Monday – ThursdayRM48++ per pax

For MAYBANKARD, Standard Chartered Bank and VISA card members, you can enjoy 15% discount for the Chinese Odyssey Semi Buffet Dinner (Monday to Thursday) and Weekend Buffet Dinner (Friday to Sunday) from 6.30pm – 10.00pm.

The Swez Brasserie is located at the ring wing of Eastin Hotel, Penang (next to Queensbay Mall). If you are coming from Georgetown towards Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone via Bayan Lepas Expressway, do watch out for the Pulau Jerejak signboard (leading to Pulau Jerejak jetty). Ignore the turning and drive on to the next left junction. Turn left into Jalan Aziz Ibrahim and drive on until you a roundabout. Turn 3 o’ clock and drive on until you see a big Eastin Hotel signboard at the first right junction. Turn right and drive on. Park your car at the basement car park. Take a lift to the first floor lobby and you would see the restaurant there.

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Name: SWEZ BRASSERIE @ EASTIN HOTEL
Address: 1 Solok Bayan Indah, Queens Bay, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-612 1128, 604-612 1138
Business Hours: 12.00pm-2.30pm (Lunch), 6.30pm-10.00pm (Dinner)
GPS: 5.33643, 100.306345

RATING:
Ambience: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

HERBAL SOUP FOR YOUR FAVORITE HOT POT

Posted by crizlai On February - 22 - 2010

Instead of the usual stock for hot pot (steamboat) during this Chinese New Year reunion dinner, I had decided to opt for herbal stock. The ginseng enriched stock was a refreshing experience for my family. Are you aware that ginseng could help in stimulating the physical and mental activity of a tired or weak body? On top of that, it’s ideal for defending the body system from the effects of prolonged physical strain as well as a stimulant for the endocrine glands which would include the sex glands. Did I just say that? Haha! Anyway, it’s good for the general health of everyone.

The amazing part of brewing this stock would be that it’s concentrated. You could easily store in small containers and deep freeze it for your future cooking. The stock would be almost gelatin like with no preservative or seasoning. All you need to do is to add half a container of water to a container of stock and put in some pepper and salt to taste. It’s just as simple as that. Let me show you how you could create this HERBAL STOCK for your favorite hot pot. It’s mild anyway for the consumption of all ages.

INGREDIENTS:

Stock:
2kg pork bones (big bones/tua kut)
3 whole chicken bones
50gms ginseng roots (人參鬚/Panax schinseng roots)
20 sweetened dates
10 liter water

Serving:
Dried Chinese wolfberry (枸杞/kay chee/gouci/goji berry)
Pepper
Salt

PREPARATION:
1. Bring to boil 12 liters of water in a 20L pot.
2. Wash all the bones clean with salt and slowly put all of them into the big pot of boiling water. Add in the ginseng roots and dates. Lower the fire, close the pot partly with a lid and let it simmer for about 6-8 hours. Filter out all the bones and you would get about 6-7 liters of stock left.
3. Scoop the required amount of stock for your hot pot into a new pot. Add in half that amount of hot water (2:1). Add in some dried Chinese wolfberry (about less than 1 tablespoon will do as too much will make the soup turn sour). Bring to boil and sprinkle some pepper and salt to taste. NOTE: Try to be lighter in salt usage as some of the hot pot ingredients such as the meatballs and fish balls have salt in them. Thus the longer the hot pot boils, the saltier it will get. Anyway, I will be sharing the dipping sauce recipe next to allow you to adjust to your taste bud.

Recommended Vegetables for Hot Pot:
Crown daisy chrysanthemum leaves (tang oh/茼蒿) and other vegetables such as Chinese Cabbage (菜心/choy sum), cabbage, spring onions (tied up), young corn, mushrooms, etc. Please take note that the usage of too much Enoki mushrooms might cause the soup base to be sour.

Recommended Add-in for Hot Pot:
All types of meat and fish balls which would be available at your location, either fresh or frozen, chicken fillet slices and seafood of any kind such as crab, clam, mussel, squid, cuttlefish, prawn or fish.

Simple Alternative Soup with the stock:
– Chicken fillet slices, white fungus and ginkgo nuts.
– Chicken fillet slices, lotus seed and lily bulb (百合/bai he/ pak hup).
– Chicken with chopped water chestnut balls, cabbage and rice vermicelli.
– Pork dumpling (sui kow/水餃), Chinese cabbage (菜心/choy sum) and wonton noodles.

(Serves: 10 and above)

YOU CAN CHECK HERE FOR MORE RECIPES.

MEMORABLE REUNION DINNER FOR CHINESE NEW YEAR 2010

Posted by crizlai On February - 18 - 2010

As you can see, I have been rather busy during this year’s Chinese New Year. There were just too many projects to handle prior to the forth coming long stretch of holidays in which some of my Chinese based suppliers would be closed for business for almost 2 weeks. On top of that, I was mostly in the kitchen preparing some feasting goodies prior to the reunion dinner. Those included a few of my own recipes which included my delicious concoction of oysters and scallops and 30 liters of home brewed Herbal Tea to serve my guests during their visits on a humid day.

This year was one of the rarest celebration moments in my family as it so happen that the Chinese New Year which fell on 14 February 2010 coincided with Valentine’s Day. It’s a FIVE-IN-ONE CELEBRATION for the Lai Family! The celebration included the reunion dinner to usher in the Tiger year, my brother’s birthday on the eve, Valentine’s Day, my brother’s lunar birthday as well as his wedding anniversary which fell on Valentine’s Day. It was indeed a fun-filled celebration.

This year’s reunion dinner dishes were somewhat unique compared to the previous ones. In fact, other than the purchases of different types of meat and fish balls, the steamboat stock was another new creation for the family. It was ginseng roots based herbal stock for the first time in our steamboat reunion dinner history. Simple as it may look but it took more than 8 hours of low fire simmering and tedious filtering just to cook this up. Our steamboat side dishes this year was rather simple as we had other extra dishes as well. They included lots of crown daisy chrysanthemum leaves (tang oh/茼蒿), cabbages, wolfberry, prawns, silver pomfret (tao tay fish), chicken drumstick fillet, hair moss fish balls, vegetable fish balls, squid balls, large meatballs, 3 different types of wolf herring (sai to/ikan parang/西刀) fish balls, prawn & pork dumpling (sui kow/水餃), seafood tofu, Fuzhou fish balls (福州魚丸/Hock Chew fish ball – stuffed with minced meat), fish dumplings (魚餃/hoo keow/thin fish batter skin stuffed with minced meat) and fried chopped garlic as garnishing. The whole experience was rejuvenating after so many days of tiring preparations.

What would be new to most families would be our unique dipping sauce. It’s definitely not any hoisin sauce, chopped garlic with bird’s eyes chilies in soy sauce or bottled chili sauce but a concoction of red sweet sauce (甜醬), ginger and chicken fat. The fragrant gingery sauce with each bite of meat, seafood or balls would surely make you yearn for more.

As it was rare to have my brother’s birthday on such an auspicious gathering, we totally ignored on the fat and cholesterol intakes. LOL! I ordered one of my favorite Korean food – Jokbal (족발 – RM77), glazed pig feet meat slices. I believed that Sa Rang Chae Korean Restaurant is the sole restaurant in Penang to have this wonderfully cooked dish. It caught my brother’s attention immediately as I saw him applying nonstop the accompanied sweet and/or salty sauces onto the accompanied lettuce endlessly. Cool! At least he’s happy. Err… what happened to your diet plan bro? 😛

Now comes the interesting part of the suspense since my last post on reserving some of my home cooked Hokkien Mee stock and chili paste for this new recipe. What would a birthday be without any birthday noodles? Let me introduce you to my latest fusion recipe – Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodles! The delicious dish had yellow noodles carefully stir fried in thick prawn stock, dried shrimps, meat, prawns, fish cake and flowering Chinese cabbage (chye sim/chai sim/菜心) with deep fried crab stick strips and fried shallots as garnishing. You can adjust your level of spiciness by adding more of the chili paste. Everybody, inclusive my two teenage nieces could not stop having this dish as it had a unique seafood fragrant. The more you take this, the more you want it for every meal!

I will not touch on the recipes here but I will share the recipes in the next few posts. Wishing everyone one a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year! Do drive carefully if you are traveling! Check out for more update here soon.

REUNION EVENTS FOR CHINESE NEW YEAR

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 28 - 2009

(Warning: This is another long post to cover the many reunions within the last 3 days)

There were so many reunions during the recent Chinese New Year celebration that I had practically lost track of what I had consumed for the last 3 days. LOL! In fact, the meals may look simple but the preparations for all the yummy goodies could be real tedious and tiring towards the end of the day. Let’s just look at the simple beverage itself. Most people would just buy those package/can/bottle drinks to serve their guests. I, on the other hand would brew my own preservative-free beverage to quench the thirst of my guests. Who would resist a drink which would relax the body and purify the blood systems on a hot and humid day? It sounded simple right? Try preparing 20 liters and you would see the amount of sweat dripping furiously down your forehead for the next 3 hours. Haha!

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The beverage is mainly formulated by boiling with water a combination of special grade and/or first grade of chrysanthemum, honeysuckle, liquorice/licorice roots and minimal sugar. Chrysanthemum can be remedies for anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antihypertensive, clears heat, disperses wind, soothes the liver and improves vision. Honeysuckle can clear heat, detoxify, detumescence, improves vision, evacuate chill, cure hot poisonous swollen disease, ache subcutaneous ulcer, hot warm disease, blood dysentery, haemorrhoids, throat aching and fever caused by internal hot or external infection, etc. Liquorice roots are commonly used in herbal formulae to relieve a spasmodic cough, to prevent cavities and to treat canker sores or ulcers.

My family reunion dinner has since switched to steamboat gathering for quite a few years already as it would at least ease my Mum from cooking up too many delicious dishes which would require days of preparations. Well, preparing steamboat dinner could be real tedious as well… for me. It would start from the “simple task” of buying of all the fish and meat balls, seafood, vegetables, boiling of stock and arranging the many varieties of items on small serving dishes. By the end of the day, I was even too exhausted to eat, needless to say to shoot too many photos of the annual event. Just to summarize everything, we had 20 types of fish and meat balls, tofu, mushrooms, chicken meat, pomfret, prawns, cuttlefish, sea cucumber, fish bladder, 3 types of vegetables and spinach noodles and all of them subsequently ended up in a hot pot of gelatin filled chicken/pork bones stock.

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There were a few of the fish balls that would be worth mentioning here. One of them caught the attention of all my family members. “Gosh! Are you going to ask us to eat that disgusting brain-like thing?” Seriously, the way the fish balls were produced, they do look like brains from one angle. If you display it the other way, they looked like cute flower blooms. The fish balls came in two flavors, plain and spinach flavored. In fact, they were not as flavorful as I had expected. They would surely be out from my list next year.

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Another two worth mentioning would be the seafood tofu and cheese fish balls. The seafood tofu pieces were smooth inside with some blended seafood and the cheese fish balls had creamy cheese oozing out with every mouthful.

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That was part of my family reunion dinner on Chinese New Year eve as I do not have more photos to share due to exhaustion. The first day of Chinese New Year went on with the usual visiting to my relatives’ houses. How I wished if not for the economy downturn this year, I would have collected more $$ in the ang pows (red packets). LOL!

Well the next reunion was with Mother Nature. Coincidentally, the first solar eclipse of 2009 fell on the first day of Chinese New Year, 26 January 2009, between 4.30pm and 7.00pm and Malaysians were to be able to watch the eclipse partially. With the bad gloomy weather and clouds of dark clouds floating about, it was a disappointment. All I caught was a patch of sunlight hidden behind some gloomy clouds. Let’s hope I would not miss it again this coming 22 July 2009, where it would be the longest total solar eclipse (almost 6 minutes) of the 21st century in Anji (near Hangzhou and Shanghai), China. Malaysians would be able to watch it partially from 10.34am.

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The night was another reunion with my Singapore friends. It was at another hidden treasure on Penang island itself with cool breeze and nice soothing background music which brought back many fond memories. I won’t touch on that at the moment but you could have a glimpse on how beautiful the place was.

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The second day of Chinese New was another yearly reunion at my aunt’s place with beautifully cooked and rich flavored dishes to yearn for. Being a part of my demise grandmother who was a great cook, my aunt had learned a lot in pepping up great dishes to make everyone craving for more. The first dish was very local – Fried Belacan Chicken (Shrimp Paste Fried Chicken). In fact, this dish is very famous in the Northern part of Malaysia. I would share the recipe in another post. The secret to this recipe is that the chicken had to be marinated with the specific amount of shrimp paste in order not to have the overpowering taste and smell. Secondly, the marinated pieces would have to be fired in high heat to get the crunchiness on the surface while maintaining the juiciness of the meat.

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The next dish may look simple but it has the fragrance from the specially prepared fried wheat vermicelli (mee suah). It has cabbages, Chinese mushrooms, button mushrooms and large prawns in it. It was a hit amongst my family.

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Choon Pneah or Spring Rolls was next. The process to prepare this crunchy dish was indeed very time consuming as it involved a lot of delicate work of chopping, cutting, mincing and frying of the filling before being wrapped together with fresh crabmeat in square spring roll skins. These would then be oil fried until golden. You could image how long it would take to extract the meat from the steamed crabs too. We had two of these spring rolls each as they were too delicious. Even the special sauce served with the spring rolls was specially prepared by brewing special soy sauce with mustard powder and accompanied by cut red chilies. Now you should know why they charged so much for each roll in restaurants. Haha!

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Here’s a glimpse of how the filling and unfried spring rolls looked like prior to frying.

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There was also a bowl of very richly cooked soup for everyone. The stock itself was boiled for hours using more than 6kg of rib bones. The stock was later filtered and boiled with choice chicken drumstick pieces, together with carrots, jicama slices, mushrooms, ginkgo nuts, fish bladder and served with steamed meatballs. Every single spoonful of the rich tasty soup left a sticky sensation to our lips. It was indeed the greatest soup I had in ages.

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As the meal came to the end, we had a simple yet fulfilling dessert – Canned Longan served with Shaved Grass Jelly and ice cubes.

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I would surely look forward to the next gathering at my aunt’s place next year. I wondered what else she would cook up next. After all the feasting during this festive season, I guessed I would have to go for more exercises. Now I know why some of the food bloggers were so busy this season as most of then were so engrossed in eating and having the fiesta of their lifetime… LOL!

CHINESE NEW YEAR WISHES

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 23 - 2009

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As the Year of the Rat from the Chinese Zodiac calendar would be coming to an end within the next few days and the Year of the Ox would follow, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers who would be celebrating the auspicious Chinese New Year a big GONG XI FA CAI! Don’t forget to pack all your goodies and courier some to me for food tasting. LOL!

Anyway, those born in the year of the Ox (1901: Metal Ox, 1913: Water Ox, 1925: Wood Ox, 1937: Fire Ox, 1949: Earth Ox, 1961: Metal Ox, 1973: Water Ox, 1985: Wood Ox, 1997: Fire Ox, 2009: Earth Ox, 2021: Metal Ox, 2033: Water Ox) are believed to be compassionate, conservative, hardworking, focused, patient and serious in their daily matters. This year would be the year where the stubborn Earth Ox would challenge the Feng Shui fire year. Moreover, the ox’s true nature is earth so this year is a double earth over fire year. Earth can resist change but would come around after there’s time to process and double earth will insistently resist.

This year is going to be a sociable and relaxing year as in the characteristic of the Ox. You would be expecting lots of social gatherings but do watch out on your budget. It’s better to be thrifty than to be sorry towards the end of the year. Well, I won’t touch more on the topic of predictions for the coming Ox year as everyone has his or her own belief. Anyway, I’ll be busy in the kitchen for the next few days preparing for my family reunion dinner. So, you won’t be seeing many postings within the next few days. Let’s hope fatigue won’t overcome me and I can still have the energy to slot in a few posts in between. See you all real soon! 🙂

BRAISED OYSTERS AND SCALLOPS

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 19 - 2009

The Chinese New Year is just a week away from now and most of the Chinese families would be busy with spring cleanings and preparation for their reunion dinners on Chinese New Year eve. Some families would prepare steamboat dinners while others would cook some traditional dishes for the celebration. As for my family, we would gather for a steamboat dinner. On top of that, I would also help out in preparing some dishes for the following days. One of my favorite self concocted dishes which I had cooked for the last few years would be my so-called Eight Precious Jewels of Asia.

In short, it’s BRAISED OYSTERS AND SCALLOPS which had eight wonderful combination of seafood, meat and nuts. There’s a secret to this dish. I had used Chabot’s Napoleon Armagnac 1998 brandy to pep up the taste. It even got a thumb-up from the experienced 64 years old chef, Malai Chong. Here’s the recipe but please take note that cooking this dish required lots of patience and time as each items would be cooked separately before combining all. Moreover, all the items are not cheap. A small bowl selling in some restaurants (not so much similar to the way I had cooked) would cost around $13-$33 (RM40-RM100) and they would use only 3-4 of the ingredients I had used below.

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INGREDIENTS:
300g pork belly meat (slice thinly)
100g dried oyster
50g-100g dried baby scallops
100g baby Japanese mushrooms
100g dried Chinese chestnuts
150g peeled/tin ginkgo nuts
25g hair moss (Fat Choy)
1 tin braised peanuts (170g net weight, 110g drained weight)
100g young ginger (scrape off skin, maintain 6 thin slices, grate the rest for juice)
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
Pepper
Sugar
Salt
Soy Sauce
Dark Soy Sauce
Oyster Sauce
Sesame Oil
Brandy/Whiskey
Water
Oil

METHODS & MARINATES (leave minimum 1 hour):

Oysters:
– Cover the dried oyster with some hot water until soften. If the dried oysters you had bought were too hard. You can always pressure cook them (covered with water) for 15 minutes. Retain the juice for cooking.
– Drain well and marinate with 2 tbsp each of ginger juice, sesame oil, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp brandy/whiskey and a dash of pepper.

Scallops:
– Cover the dried scallops with some hot water until soften. If the dried scallops you had bought were too hard. You can always pressure cook them (covered with water) for 15 minutes or steam for 25 minutes. Retain the juice for cooking.
– Drain well and marinate with 1 tbsp each of ginger juice, soy sauce and 1 tsp sesame oil.

Mushrooms:
– Cover the dried mushrooms with some hot water until soften.
– Drain well by pressing softly but firmly. Retain the juice for cooking.
– Cut off all the legs.
– Marinate with the balance of the grated ginger (juice plus fiber), 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil and 1/2 tsp fine sugar.

Chinese Chestnuts:
– Soak the dried Chinese chestnuts with some hot water.
– Drain well and use a toothpick to get rid of any remaining red skin still attached to the nuts.
– Heat up a pot of water and boil the nuts for 20-30 minutes until the nuts are soft. Do pick up one to test out the softness as some brands of nuts or too dried ones would take a longer time to cook.

Ginkgo Nuts:
– The easiest way would be by getting a tin of cooked ginkgo nuts or a pack of frozen precooked ones but it would not taste as great as those fresh ones.
– If you happen to get hold of fresh ones, there would be more work involved. You would need to knock the shell and peel of the orange brown skin.
– After all the hard work, you have to cook them in a pot of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Drain well.
Important Note: Please check with your supplier if the nuts are young nuts. Older ones would have well developed embryos/growth within and these would make the nuts bitter. Slit slightly on the head and get rid of the embryos before boiling them.

Hair Moss:
– Soak the hair moss with some hot water.
– Semi drain the hair moss while leaving some water inside (about 2 tbsp).
– Marinate with 1 tbsp each of ginger juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and 2 tsp of brandy/whiskey.

Pork:
– Rub the pork with some salt and wash off.
– Cut into 1.5” strips and slice thinly.
– Drain well and marinate with 2 tbsp each of sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce and a dash of pepper. Mix thoroughly.

OPTIONAL:
Chicken breast meat (in place of pork)

PREPARATION:
1. You can combine all the retained juices in a bowl. Make sure you sieve the juice prior to using.
2. Heat up 2 tspn oil in a wok and sauté the marinated oysters to golden brown. Scoop and leave aside.
3. Heat up 1 tspn oil and sauté the marinated scallops to slightly brown. Scoop and leave aside.
4. Heat up 2 tspn oil and sauté 1 tsp chopped garlic until brown. Pour in the marinated mushrooms and sauté them until slightly brown and dry. Scoop and leave aside.
5. Heat up 3 tspn oil and sauté 1 tbsp chopped garlic until brown. Pour in the marinated pork, 1 tsp of dark soy sauce, 6 slices of ginger and stir fry them until cooked.
6. Add in 2.5 cups of the retained juice and simmer under high fire for 5 minutes. You can add in some hot water if not enough.
7. Lower the fire to medium and add in the Chinese chestnuts and the whole can of the braised peanuts. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
8. Add in the oysters, scallops and mushroom. Stir evenly and let it simmer until the water is halved.
9. Add in the ginkgo nuts and stir thoroughly for about 5-10 minutes.
10. Scoop up the cooked items into a bowl while retaining as much gravy as you can in the wok.
11. Pour in 1.5-2 cups of hot water and bring the gravy to boil.
12. Pour in the hair moss and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
13. Pour in the cooked items in the bowl and stir evenly. Lower fire and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. You can add some hot water if the gravy become over dry as some hair moss would absorb more water.
14. Best served with white rice.
Note: You can keep any remains in the freezer for weeks. When you need the dish, you could always defrost it and add some hot water to bring it to boil. Make sure that you let it boil until your preferred choice of dryness. Good Luck!

(Serves: 8-10)

YOU CAN CHECK HERE FOR MORE RECIPES.

YOUNG HEART RESTAURANT

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 7 - 2009

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With the inspiration from a plant with heart shaped leaves called Sweetheart Hoya, a restaurant known as Sweet Heart Restaurant was established since 2005. Strategically located nearby the hustle and bustle of the Pulau Tikus market, this restaurant surprisingly gives you the relaxing environment with the peace and tranquil one would hardly expect. It’s a cool place to be in as the whole theme would be based on their motto “The Fragrance of the Refreshment comes from the Heart”. What would be the best way than to present them in edible forms?

The best part of indulging yourself in such a restaurant is that the food served here would be of home cooked styles without any unnecessary flavorings. The dishes would be cooked in the simplest and most healthy way and yet bringing out the best in each dish. Even those fragrant flower tea drinks served there were refreshingly healthy. It’s indeed a healthy place for everyone.

Other than their famous dumplings, noodles and impressive set lunch menus, the restaurant has recently cooked up some promotions to cater for the Chinese New Year crowds. A few of the Penang floggers had the privilege to try out the dinner last night. Prior to starting the food tasting for the Chinese New Year promotion, we were given a few types of sauces. There were fried onions, ginger in black vinegar and chili powder in oil meant for the jiaozi and guotie which we would be having later on. On top of that, we were also given some Chinese, Japanese and Siam sauces too.

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Lotus Root with Sugar & Vinegar (RM3) was also served as an appetizer where slices of lotus root were marinated in sugar and apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is believed to be able to lower cholesterol level. This is indeed something different for us.

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During most Chinese dinners, soup would always be the first to be served. We were treated with Hot & Sour Soup (RM5/bowl). The soup contained 3 types of vinegar, namely black, white vinegar and apple cider vinegar with cube of bean curds, crabsticks, wood ear fungus, pickled shanghai vegetable, chopped chilies, fish maws, beaten egg white and so on. It was indeed appetizing.

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Another few appetizers worth mentioning would be their paper rice rolls. We had the opportunity to try out their Prawn Vegetable Rolls (RM7.60), Egg Vegetable Rolls (RM6.60) and Unagi Vegetable Rolls (RM7.60). They were perfect as each roll was filled with freshly sliced vegetables.

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There were also the restaurant’s in-house specialties such as Fried Bean Curd (RM4.80), Prawn & Leeks Guotie (RM9.60) and Cheese & Chicken Guotie (RM10.80). The Fried Bean Curd was extremely tasty as the inner part has so many ingredients in it. The outer part has the crunchiness of the special batter, making the whole mouthful very delightful. It was great having these with the Siam Chili Sauce provided.

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Next on the list was the 7-course Chinese New Year Promotion, which consists of Stir Fry Mixed Vegetables with Mushroom (RMRM16.80), Golden Scallop Dumpling (RM18.80), Fried Prawns with Garlic (RM18.80), Steamed Cod Fish with Bean Curd (RM29.80), Prosperous Year in Malaysia (RM6.80), Snake Squash with Pork (RM11.80) and Sponge Gourd with Pork (RM13.80).

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The Stir Fry Mixed Vegetables with Mushroom had some nice and sweet gravy with lots of greens and mushroom in it. Simple but yet it contained great vitamin and minerals to the body. The Golden Scallop Dumpling which has some carrot juice made skin contained a juicy fresh scallop each. The Fried Prawns with Garlic was another great dish as the prawns were mixed with some chopped garlic batter and oil fried to perfection, giving each prawn the fragrant bite. The Steamed Cod Fish with Bean Curd did not let anyone down as some even ordered some rice to be taken with the tasty gravy. The Prosperous Year in Malaysia was actually deep fried chicken wings and drumlets. What made this dish stood out was the smell and taste of sliced Kaffir lime leaves and shallots within the marinated pieces. The Snake Squash with Pork was a rather unique dish for many as most of us had not known the existence of such a vegetable. The taste was somewhat like munching cooked celery minus the strong celery herby taste. The Sponge Gourd with Pork was somewhat different compared to the rest as it was cooked with Angelica sinensis (dong guai or female ginseng). This would be an ideal dish for those who like Chinese herbs cooking.

The meal ended up with noodles, namely Black Jelly Mushroom Fried Noodles (RM8.80), Shredded Pork Noodles (RM7.50) and Ground Pork with Spicy Bean Sauce Noodles (RM7.50). All the handmade noodles tasted great with their own unique tastes, except that the Ground Pork with Spicy Bean Sauce Noodles could be rather pungent for some.

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On top of the food, we were also served with two unique combinations of beverages. One would be the Honey Lemon with Aloe Vera (RM6/glass) and sweetened Chamomile & Chrysanthemum Tea (RM4.50/glass). The Honey Lemon with Aloe Vera was lovely as it has cubes of jelly-like Aloe Vera cubes in it. The Chamomile & Chrysanthemum Tea on the other hand was refreshing as Chamomile is believed to be good for the digestive system as well as fighting against fatigue and insomnia. Chrysanthemum has the medicinal value of fighting against flu related viruses.

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Attended Floggers:
Criz Lai of Criz Bon Appetite
CK Lam of What2See Online (Organizer – Thanks!)
Tam Chiak & Huat Koay of PenangTuaPui
Steven Goh of Steven Goh dot com
Allen Ooi of Yummy Station
Gill & Jason of Gourmet Garden
Carrie of Cariso Delicacies Corner
Mary of Food Paradise
Allie of Heavenly Allie
Bee of Buzzing Life

Reaching the restaurant would be easy if you are coming from Jalan Burmah into Jalan Cantonment. Just drive along Jalan Cantonment until you reach the first left junction (Pulau Tikus Market – Jalan Pasar). Just go further up after this junction and you will see Wisma Kota Kembar – Pulau Pinang-Medan Information and Promotion Centre on the corner lot. The restaurant is just next to this centre.

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Name: YOUNG HEART RESTAURANT
Address: 44A, Jalan Cantonment, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 12.00noon-10.00pm (Closed Monday)
Contact: 604-228 8084, 016-410 8098 (Ms. Ann Kee)
GPS: 5.430508, 100.311350

RATING:
Ambience: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 8/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

CHOO CHOO HENG BBQ MEAT

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 5 - 2009

Note: For 2014, please check the price of the meat as stated below.

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Chinese New Year (26-27 January 2009) is just around the corner and many Chinese are already busy preparing some gifts for their family, relatives, friends and clients prior to the celebration. Some would buy hampers filled with canned and dry stuff whereas some would still go for the traditional way of giving away some BBQ meat (Bak Kua/Rougan), a Chinese salty-sweet dried meat product similar to jerky. There are actually two variants, one with minced meat slices and the other with slices of meat straight from the solid meat blocks. It could either be made out of pork or chicken.

Have you ever wonder how these juicy dried meat slices were made? Let me share with you what I have learned through my recent visit to a BBQ meat maker in Georgetown who has been making this delicacy from her home for over a decade. The preparation is actually quite simple but the process of making the dried meat could be real time consuming. Pieces of choice meat (80% lean and 20% fat) would be minced and then mixed with some seasonings such as soy sauce, salt, sugar (some would use honey), 5-spice powder, pepper and rose wine. The mixture would be left to marinate for awhile before proceeding to the next process.

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The mixture would then be spread evenly but thinly onto customized large aluminum trays. Some makers, especially those older ones would still use bamboo trays to spread the mixture.

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These trays would then be placed inside a slightly heated oven to dry the meat. Traditionally, these would be left out in the sun to dry but the modern generations of people had shy away from purchasing food using this method as the food might be contaminated with dust particles and bugs. Thus, through this hygienic process, the food would be safe for consumption.

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After leaving those trays in the oven for some time, this would be the result. You will get huge slices of dried meat but this is not the end of the process. There would be the final preparation.

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These huge meat slices would then be trimmed into smaller slices and BBQ to perfection. The maker has two ways of barbequing the meat slices. She would either use a metal net over some burning charcoals or by using an electrical BBQ machine when the orders get too many.

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The other variant which I had mentioned earlier would be the dried chicken. The preparation would be the same except that they would use a customized mould with holes on it to make them round.

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They do also produce the Red Dried Pork which is of a lesser quality and flavors compared to the ones mentioned above. These are normally used by our local hawkers to prepare Roti Bak Kua (Dried Meat Buns).

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Over the years, Bak Kua has evolved into something different. They are now being produced in strips form that made eating easier. These yummy and juicy strips are called the Gold Bars (金條). Unlike the step of spreading the seasoned meat thinly, they are rolled into long bars and followed the same drying process as above. These would then be fried instead of being BBQ, leaving the inner layer to be moist with rich flavors. These have been my all time favorite. Sad to say, they only produce them once a year, just a month before the Chinese New Year. Even my friends and relatives had not stopped reminding me to order them yearly. I had tried from many sellers but theirs had been the best so far.

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Another fried version would be the Gold Nuggets (金錢肉乾) which have thinly spread meat as the base and a small amount of minced meat on the middle. These again have been the much sought after dried meat after the Gold Bar. I could not get enough of these either.

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You should also not miss out their Pork Floss too. The floss was always fresh, well flavored and crunchy. I’m still trying to remember how many slices of bread, spread with butter and sandwiched with the yummy pork floss I had last evening. LOL!

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The price of the items (2014):
Dried Pork (Bak Kua) – RM33 per 600gms/kati
Dried Chicken (Kay Bak Kua) – NOT AVAILABLE (2014)
Pork Floss (Bak Hu) – RM33 per 600gms/kati
Gold Bars (Kim Teow) – RM34 per 600gms/kati
Gold Nuggets (Kim Chee) – RM34 per 600gms/kati

Since the festive season is near and stock could be quite limited, MAKE SURE YOU CALL UP to book your order prior to visiting them. They do not have a counter (remember? It’s a house) to sell you the delicious dried meat if you did not make any reservations. The house is strategically located along a small lane off Lebuh Carnarvon. If you are coming from Jalan Dr. Lim Chwee Leong, turn left into Lebuh Carnarvon. Drive on until you see a police station (on your left), turn into the first right turning back into the other side of Lebuh Carnarvon. You will see a mamak store on your left. Drive on until you have reached the second left junction (Lorong Carnarvon). The house is on the left somewhere almost towards the end of the lane with a small red sign with gold wordings stating (處處香肉乾)Choo Choo Heng Dried Pork.

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Name: CHOO CHOO HENG BBQ MEAT
Address: 51 Lorong Carnarvon, 10100 Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 12.00noon – 7.00pm
Contact: 604-261 4223 (Ms Loh)
GPS: 5.414097, 100.335645

RATING:
Ambience: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 7/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 8/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

PENANG TIMES SQUARE CHINESE NEW YEAR STEAMBOAT REUNION DINNER

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 24 - 2008

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Chinese New Year would be celebrated on 26 & 27 January 2009. It’s time to give your Mum a rest and pamper her to a buffet steamboat dinner instead. Let your Mum have an enjoyable dinner without worrying about the hassle of cleaning up for once. She ought to be given the chance to have a full rest this coming year.

The Penang State Chinese New Year Celebration committee would be holding an exclusive Chinese New Year steamboat buffet dinner with live entertainment from 23-25 January 2009, along with Penang Times Square and Golden BBQ Steamboat Restaurant. Dinner would be served at the mall’s Urban Square, the largest open space in Penang, between 7.30pm and 10.00pm. Tickets are sold at RM280 for 10pax and RM140 for 5pax. Get your tickets fast before they are sold out at Ivory Corporate Communication Department, 73 Jalan Dato Keramat, Penang, 604-210 8000 or at Golden BBQ Steamboat Restaurant, 38, 40, 42 Jalan Nagore, Penang, 012-438 8324 (Joseph).

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