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CHINESE NEW YEAR WISHES

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 23 - 2009

CNYCOWS

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.

BRAISEDOYSTERSCALLOP

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.

YOUNGHEARTMAP

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.

BAKKUA

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.

CHOOCHOOHENGMAP

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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About Me

Howdy from the Isle of delicious Asian food and the UNESCO Heritage City of Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia. Just call me Criz Lai and I am here to share with you on what’s the best food you can get in town as well as from many other parts of Malaysia.

By the way, you might not notice it but CRIZ BON APPETITE is iPhone/Mobile Compatible. Please do feel free to hop over to http://ip.crizfood.com to get the latest updates! If you want to contact me for any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at crizlai [at] hotmail [dot] com. Spamming would not be tolerated – you are being tracked here!

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