The No. 1 Malaysian Street Food: Satay

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

I do consider myself lucky for being in the Netherlands since I could easily hunt for my favourite food, satay or sate. Thanks to the rather strong influence of Indonesian cuisine in NL, satay is not only served in Indonesian restaurants but also in local cafes such as HEMA.
Unlike the NL version, Malaysia's chicken satay is not 100% pure meat. Usually a piece or two chicken fat or chicken skin is skewered in between the chicken chunks. During the grilling process, the fat will melt over the heat and create extra flavours to the meat. That explains why the Malaysian version is greasier but far more flavorful. I dislike the fat and skin, but this does not deter me from indulging at satays. :)

Being a person with heavy pallete, I like my satay to be slightly charred and the chili peanut sauce to be spicy. Best if the peanut sauce comes with some chunky peanuts and some sour belimbing pieces.

A dip in the spicy peanut sauce, a quick bite at the satay, follow by a slice of refreshing cucumber is a combo made in heavy. YUM. Indeed a wonderful blend of sweet, sour, spicy and savory taste.

My recommendation for good satay in PJ area is got to be the small satay stall at the Lala Chong Seafood Restaurant. Served only to the dinner crowd, the satay is definitely worth trying. However, please be prepared to wait a bit as the 'appetizer' can sometimes become 'dessert' when the dishes from the kitchen are ready before the satay.

It happened to us where our satay was served after we finished our dinner - steamed clams, stir fried morning glory with belacan and three-cups chicken. But good food is simply worth waiting!

stir fried kangkong belacan
Stir fried morning glory with belacan paste
Lala Chong
Steamed clams
Lala Chong
Three cups chicken

Super Tasty and Simple Mee Siam recipe: Gravy Overload Style

Sunday, June 23, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

Nyonya style Mee Siam

Mee Siam, literally translated as Siamese noodles in English is actually stir-fry vermicelli in spicy-sweet-sour gravy. Mee Siam can either be served dried or in gravy. Hailed from Peranakan family, I am familiar with the gravy version as it was the version I grew up with.

The soul of a plate of great Mee Siam actually lies in the tangy assam gravy (tamarind based gravy). Justin's aunt used to cook the best Mee Siam in town by a mile. The assam gravy she made was totally spot-on, a well balance of the savory belacan paste and the sour taste from the tangy assam paste. 

I have been searching high and low for a bowl a good Mee Siam in PJ area but to no avail as the Mee Siam served are mostly the dried version. The closest taste I could get is the Mee Siam from Killiney Kopitiam albeit with overly salty gravy.

My quest for a bowl of good Mee Siam, gravy version is finally fulfill. Credit to Mei, who is so thoughtful enough to bring me this Prima Taste's ready-to-cook Mee Siam sauce kit all the way from Singapore.

It is unbelievably quick and simple to prepare a bowl of Mee Siam with this sauce kit. Times spent to cut and grind the spices can be skipped as the kit comes with pre-ready chili paste for the vermicelli, the Mee Siam paste for the gravy and sambal chili for garnishing. Even the lime juice is included in the sauce kit too. What required are just 125g vermicelli for 2-3 servings, some condiments such as hard-boiled eggs, sliced fish cakes, fried bean curd or tau pok cubes, fresh lime juice or kalamansi juice, some fried shallots and some greens such Chinese chives or cucumber.

The ready-to-cook Mee Siam sauce kit comes with detailed instructions. Just follow the clear instructions especially on the water measurement in order to reach the right consistency for the Mee Siam gravy.

Check out how sumptuous my bowl of home-cook Mee Siam (gravy style) turned out to be. I substituted the fried bean curd with Chinese cruller (you tiao) since it was out-of-stock in Asian grocer.
Irresistable Gravy Style Mee Siam, Prima Taste

I like my Mee Siam with refreshing cucumber shreds. You may substitute it with Chinese chives instead.
Irresistable Gravy Style Mee Siam, Prima Taste

The spicy sambal chili added the spicy kick to the Mee Siam. The sambal tastes even better with a light squeeze of kalamansi juice. The kalamansi juice was able to cut through the spiciness and rather strong aroma of shrimp paste in the sambal.
irresistable gravy style Mee Siam

This is the magic box and secret for the delectable Nyonya style of Mee Siam.

Additional tips
a. The Mee Siam gravy is slightly on the sweeter side in taste profile. Recommend to squeeze in some fresh lime juice or kalamansi juice into the Mee Siam gravy for the much needed tangy taste
b. I skipped using the pre-packed lime juice as I reckon fresh lime juice is more superior anytime

Zaanse Schans Open Air Museum @ Amsterdam

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

Windmill at Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans could probably ranked as the second most visited tourist spot in the Netherlands after the infamous Keukenhof garden.

Featuring the traditional Zaanse Village of 17th -18th century, Zaanse Schans has so much to offer, from canals to windmills; from cheese to Dutch wooden clogs. It is indeed a 'little Holland' which serves as an ideal open air museum to those who would like to experience this unique country.

The Traditional Dutch Village
Check out the picturesque Dutch village. The windmills, wooden bridge, canals and the characteristic green wooden houses with red-and-white windows that truly resembles a typical Dutch village in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Zaanse Schans Open Air Museum, Amsterdam

Zaanse Schans Open Air Museum, Amsterdam
Zaanse Schans Open Air Museum, Amsterdam

The Windmill
Another great attraction of Zaanse Schans are the windmills which are still in operation till today. With an admission of €3, you may visit an operating windmill and witness the gears and levers in action propel by just mother nature.

The invisible power of wind couple with the ingeniously designed gears enabled this great machine to grind pigments into paint, saw wood into planks and even pounding nuts and seed to produce oil.
Zaanse Schans Open Air Museum, Amsterdam

The First Grocery Store
The very first grocer store in Oostzaan , Abert Heijn (also refer as 'AH' in short by the locals) is also featured in Zaanse Schans. The interior reflected the actual period look of a typical sundry shops back in the 18th century.
The first grocery store

Wooden Clogs Workshop
Wooden clogs are the unmistakeably Dutch icon. This traditional footwear has been popular in the Netherlands for over 700 years. Curious on how it is made? There are live clog making demonstrations taking place in the Wooden Shoe Workshop here on daily basis for free. The sessions take approximately 5 minutes and are available in many different languages.

During the good old days, clog crafting takes more than 2 days. But with advance machinery, a single clog can be made in a mind boggling 5 minutes.
Zaanse Schans Open Air Museum, Amsterdam

Zaanse Schans Open Air Museum, Amsterdam

Cheese Farm
As a key exporter of dairies products, the Netherlands is well-known for it cheeses. In the cheese farm here, different types of Dutch cheese are made here daily. Check out how cheese is made here as there are cheese making demonstration conducted throughout the day. One may even sample the different type of cheeses produce here. In conjunction with the coronation of new King, the limited edition carrot flavor cheese was on sale. 
Zaanse Schans Open Air Museum, Amsterdam

The Coopery
With an mere €2, you can enter into the workshop and witness how the traditional barrels are made.  
Zaanse Schans Open Air Museum, Amsterdam

Zaanse Schans Open Air Museum, Amsterdam

Getting to Zaanse Schans by train
From Amsterdam Centraal station, take the train heading to Alkmaar or Uitgeest. The journey takes about 20 minutes and get off at Koog Zaandijk station. Zaanse Schans can be reached by foot in 10 minutes. Just follow the sign boards. You may see the town after crossing the Juliana bridge.

Voorschotense Farm Fair 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

Pony ride

I started to develop a great interest on farm life ever since an Aussie exchange-student, Tim shown us a video recording his typical day in his family's farm in Australia years back.

I was super excited when I spotted this hand-drawn wooden-plate advertising the "Voorschotense Farm Fair 9-Juni 2013" a month ago on my way to Harlem in the train. I quickly marked down the date. This is indeed a highly anticipated farm fair for me, perhaps my very first farm fair in Europe.

Voorschotense Farm is located merely 11 minutes by train from the Hague Central station. Situated strategically next to the Voorschoten train station, the farm fair had indeed drawn a lot of crowds. Just like a mini fiesta, people from all walks of life, young and old gathered here to have fun.

Besides the breathtaking scenes of cattle, sheep and horses munching green on the vast lawn, there were so much to explore in this farm fair.
Voorschotense Farm Fair 2013

The demonstration of the trained sheepdogs guiding the sheep home. These sheepdogs are so intelligent where they follow the instructions from their master carefully. There were 3 sheepdogs on 'shift' and each of them waited eagerly for their turns to get into the field. These dogs were indeed very energetic!
Voorschotense Farm Fair 2013
The live show of pony pulling the carriage. These ponies are indeed very strong where they can pull a heavy carriage of a weight of an adult and a kid.
Voorschotense Farm Fair 2013

Special patting zone was set up for tamed farm animals such as lamb, ponies and piggy. These farm animals were so tamed and you can touch them freely without fear. Check out how fascinated the kids were with these farm animals.
Voorschotense Farm Fair 2013

Voorschotense Farm Fair 2013
As far as I know, piggy bites but not for this fat piggy. This piggy just sat quietly in its defined wired enclosure and welcome warmth pats from the kids.
Voorschotense Farm Fair 2013

There were also quite a number of outdoor farm-like activities for kids which were not usually available for city dwellers. For a minimum fee of an Euro, kids can enjoy fishing or kayaking at the nearby canals.
Voorschotense Farm Fair 2013

Voorschotense Farm Fair 2013

I personal like this a lot, the dried-hay slide. With some creative twists, the dried-hay can be turned into a simple playground slide for the kids, plus it was 100% natural!
Voorschotense Farm Fair 2013
I had so much fun in the farm fair. I hope to return for the fifth edition of Voorschotense Farm Fair next summer, provided I am still around in the Netherlands!

Cheap and Tasty Eat at Berlin's Railway Stations

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

Berlin is surprisingly a food paradise. From Western to Middle Eastern and Asian, Berlin has it all. The beautiful part of it is, you don't have to travel far for good food here. The railway stations near you  could be the best place to explore a variety of cuisines. You will be amazed and will definitely be spoil with choices.

In this post, I would like to share with all some of the good food I have tried in Berlin, specifically at the railway stations. Check it out!!

1) Currywurst
pork sausage in ketchup and curry powder
Slices of grilled pork sausage in ketchup and curry powder, the Currywurst is an iconic German's fast food. It is so well accepted by both the locals and tourists, the Currywurst stands are like mushrooms after the rain, can be easily spotted almost everywhere. Selling at only €2.5 per portion (usually serve with a seperate bun or baguette), I would say it is a cheap yet delectable snack one should not miss when visiting Germany.

2) Klässig's F!sh & Ch!ps
Klässig's F!sh & Ch!ps
Can be found in major central stations, the local fast food chain, Klässig's F!sh & Ch!ps specialized in fish and seafood. It has an extensive menu which fits any hours of the day. They serve finger food (fried bite size fish fillets and shrimps), baguette sandwiches and also proper meal such as grill fresh fish with baked potatoes and salad.
Klässig's F!sh & Ch!ps
If you want something more substantial, the house specialty fish paella could just fit perfectly! The portion of the paella is huge and is loaded with fried fish chunks, squid, prawns and mussels. The salad accompanying the paella is prepared fresh over the counter. Thumbs-up for the fish paella! For a reasonable price of €8.90, the fish paella is definitely VFM (value for money).

3) Kebab and Middle Eastern Kebab Rice
Middle Estern kebab

Kebab joint is another popular food joint patronize by the locals as well as tourist alike. As convenience as the bread and sandwiches, the to-go kebab wrap (€4.00) is definitely an ideal pick for the meat lovers. Loaded with grilled chicken (or beef) shreds and fresh veggie such as cucumber, tomato, onion and cabbage, kebab wrap is far healthier than the fast food which is high saturated fat.
If you are not on the go, perhaps you may dine-in for a plate of flavourful Middle Eastern kebab rice (€8.90). The fluffy raisin rice is indeed a highlight. The texture is much better than the normal white rice serve in Chinese restaurants.

4) BackWerk
Just like the Albert Heijn To-Go, the self service bakery, BackWerk can be found in almost every railway station in Berlin. Freshly baked breads, crusty rolls, sandwiches, filled baguettes and rolls, paninnis, an assortment of pastries are on offer. Don't be surprise that the selection here is way more extensive than their sister outlets in the Netherlands. The famous German's pretzels are sold here too.

5) Asia Food

For Asian tourists who prefer Chinese food, especially noodles and rice to fill their tummies, fear not! Cheap Chinese food is absolutely within reach at the railway stations. A generous portion of normal fried noodles is selling at a rock bottom price of €2.50 per serving!! I doubt you can get this price in the Netherlands. If you fancy side dishes such as spring rolls, crispy chicken etc to go with the noodles, you just need to top-up another €2.

Made-to-order menu such as soup based curry noodles, pad-thai, Thai curry chicken with rice, spicy sauce chicken with rice etc are available too. You just need to wait for a 10-15 minutes for your food to be served. Either to-go or dine-in, you have the choice since proper dining area is provided too.

How to best describe my food venture in Berlin? Definitely good food, great price and highly convenient of course!!

My First Taste of Bak Chang (Chinese Dumpling) in the Netherlands

Saturday, June 08, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

Chinese dumpling for Dumpling Festival
Among the Chinese's festive celebrations, my favourite is always the Dragon Boat Festival (also known as the Dumpling Festival 端午节). It is not the dragon boat which I am fascinated about but the Chinese dumplings or bak chang 粽子!! This is the only time of the year I could taste the best home-made dumplings by Auntie Ngo.

Packed with lavish ingredients such as well-marinated braised pork belly pieces, shiitake mushrooms, chest nuts, salted egg yolk and dried shrimps, her bak chang not only tasted great but also looks good too. She is so skillful in wrapping the bak chang where the glutinous rice hold firmly the fillings and form a good looking pyramid shape after streaming. No traces of  spillage of filling is spotted and the bak chang looks exactly like a shining crystal after unwrapping the bamboo leave. To me, Auntie Ngo's bak chang is a piece of art.

Since the Dumpling Festival is just around the corner, I purposely made a stop at the Ru Yi Bakery to grab a bak chang after my grocery shopping at the Chinatown last Sunday. I also got myself the lotus-leaf-rice as the back-up, just in case the bak chang does not turn out good.

Bak Chang (pork dumpling)
bak chang or Chinese Dumpling
The birds eye view of the pork dumpling
Unlike the Hokkien style bak chang, this GuangZhou pork dumpling is pale in look instead of the appealing brownish colour (colour from the dark soy sauce). Mung beans are added to the glutinous rice for better texture. Overall, I find the pork dumpling is on the bland side and severely lack of ingredients - a small piece of miserable pork, half shiitake mushroom and 1/4 salted egg. 70% of the dumpling is glutinous rice and mung bean.
The side view of the pork dumpling
Check out the side view of the pork dumpling. It does have the pyramid shape of what a typical bak chang should be, but unfortunately just lack of taste profile. Perhaps, the heavy palette of me prefer my bak chang with dried shrimps and chest nuts.

Lotus Leaf Rice

Fall under the same category as bak chang  (since the main ingredient is glutinous rice), the lotus-leaf-rice is literally glutinous rice with minced chicken, shiitake mushrooms, Chinese preserved sausage and dried shrimps. The difference between the two mainly on the wrapping and the shape. The pyramid shape bak chang is wrapped in bamboo leave while the lotus-leaf-rice is wrapped in lotus leaf in oblong shape. Unlike bak chang which can only be eaten during the festive, the lotus-leaf-rice is just a normal dim sum item which is available all year round.

I am totally glad that I actually packed this lotus-leaf-rice along with the pork dumpling. The taste profile of this lotus-leaf-rice is somehow a closer match to the bak chang back home. Perhaps it is the dried shrimps that made all the difference.

Roasted Chicken Drumstick Sandwich

Thursday, June 06, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

kebab style sandwich
The chicken drumstick is on sales in AH grocer this week. So, I fetch a pack home on Friday evening with the aim to indulge myself with some lip-smacking home-made roasted chicken drumsticks over the weekend.

Chicken drumsticks with roasted potato sounds a bit too conventional and boring. Still highly inspired by the fantastic kebab wrap which I tasted in Berlin sometimes ago, I decided to made myself the kebab style roasted chicken drumstick sandwich. It is basically a stuffed bun with shredded roasted chicken pieces and tomato cucumber salsa.

Roasted Chicken Drumsticks
I have my chicken drumsticks marinated overnight to ensure the meat is properly brine and infused with curry powder and sweet cayenne pepper. I brought the marinated chicken drumsticks to room temperature an hour before popping into the oven for baking.

To find out how the roasted chicken drumstick is prepared, check out this link.

Roasted chicken drumstick sandwich

Tomato Cucumber Salsa
This is probably the easiest salsa recipe. Dice the tomato and cucumber into cubes, season with some salt and pepper. For the extra zing, just squeeze in 1/2 a lime and mix the salad well.

Roasted chicken drumstick sandwich
This is how I enjoy my sandwich. I first topped the toasted bun with shredded chunks of roasted drumstick, then followed by a generous portion of well-seasoned tomato cucumber salsa. Garlic chilli sauce was added last for the extra kick. Then ... dig-in of course!!

Roasted Chicken Drumstick Sandwich
What a great Saturday's branch! I was stuffed with the delectable home-made roasted chicken drumsticks plus my new invention, the kebab style roasted chicken drumstick sandwich.

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