Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fish Head in Turmeric & Coconut Milk Gravy

Not everyone will find this dish appealing but if you are a true blue Malaysian, chances are you are just like me, and a good Fish Head Curry or Asam Pedas Fish Head is a delicacy.

And so tonight I was missing a taste of home and we haven't had our family favorite Masak Lemak Kuning in a while....and voila dinner is served!

The advantage of living in a country where fish heads are dumped into a hole and buried after the fish is filleted is just demand for this delicacy and if it was offered for sale, it would only cost a mere dollar or two. Ka-ching! What a bargain!

Just in case you are game enough to try this, here is the recipe.

Half a fish head (mostly sold in halves, if not have the fish sliced in half)
1 can coconut milk
1 stalk lemon grass
2 tbsp Blended chili paste
Salt to taste
1 inch Turmeric (peeled and pounded into a paste)
Lemon/Lime juice


Add all ingredients except the lime juice into a pot big enough to fit your fish head. Keep stirring until the oil separates and forms a oily film on the top layer. This will take about 30 minutes of constant stirring on medium heat.
After 15 minutes, turn the fish head and keep stirring for another 15 minutes and once cooked, take off the heat and add lime juice. Serve with white rice.

Note: Although the whole fish head is a delicacy but the best part of the fish head is the eye!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

I love cinnamon and a good cinnamon roll is top of my list of favourites. A friend had posted photos of her cinnamon rolls on her FB page and it reminded me of that wonderful smell of the rolls baking in the oven. Thanks Shaz!

Of course I googled some recipes and Shaz kindly shared hers as well but I do want to share a good pictorial of a step by step recipe and you can opt to use the bread machine, stand mixer or a food processor, even good old fashioned elbow grease.

This page also detailed on how to freeze the dough for future use. A very good tip on storing the dough is explained here. So while I enjoy my freshly baked rolls with a cup of coffee, you can enjoy reading the pictorial.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Choc Ganache with Lavender Cream & Raspberry Tart

240g plain flour
200g butter
Pinch of salt
300ml thickened cream
1 tbs caster sugar
1 tsp unsprayed lavender flowers (you can replace with vanilla if lavender is not available)
1 punnet raspberries

160ml cream
40g butter
180g dark chocolate, finely chopped

Step 1: Place the flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor and blend until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 1-2 teaspoons cold water and blend again until the dough just comes together. Tip out onto a lightly floured board or clean bench and form dough into a disc, enclose in cling film and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

Step 2: Roll pastry out to 3-5mm thick, then use to line four 20cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Prick the base with a fork, then place back in the fridge to rest for about 20 minutes.

Step 3: To make the ganache, place the cream and butter in a pan and stir over medium heat until butter has melted. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl, pour over the warm cream, then stir until the chocolate has melted.

Step 4: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the pastry case with baking paper and pastry beads or uncooked rice. Blind-bake for 7-10 minutes, then remove baking paper and beads and bake for another 5-10 minutes until just golden. Press down any bubbles that have risen up and allow to cool. Remove from tart case and place on a serving plate or clean board.

Step 5: Meanwhile, whip thickened cream with sugar until soft peaks, then stir through lavender flowers. Cover with cling film and refrigerate until needed.

Step 6: Pour the chocolate ganache into the tart shells. Spread evenly with the back of a spoon or palette knife.

Step 7: Top tarts with lavender cream and decorate with raspberries.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Afghan Rice

I love a good biryani but I dont love the long and arduous preparation time. That is until I discovered the recipe for Afghan rice. Some call it the poor man's biryani. There's nothing "poor" about the taste. It is rich in flavour just like any good biryani should. I normally make mine without any meat which in turn cuts the cooking time even further.

Please give this a is sooo worth your time ( not too much of it is required in this case)


• 2 1/2 cups basmati rice
• medium onion (chopped or sliced)
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• tsp chili powder (optional)
• 1cup oil
• Lamb meat or chicken (optional)
• 2 – 3 carrots
• 1 cup raisin
• 1 cup almond


· Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion, sauté until brown, do not burn.
Add the shredded carrot and fry until caramelized.
· Add the chicken (optional), chili, mix then add water (3-4 cups), cook for 30 minutes.
· Soak the rice for 30 minutes and drain.
· Fry the almond to golden brown, remove with slotted spoon, fry the raisins until buffs, remove.
· Add the rice, almond, raisins, and the cumin seeds, bring to boil until most of the liquid is absorbed, fluff the rice with a fork, reduce the heat to low, cover, cook for 20 minutes.

Serve with chopped fresh coriander. As seen above, served with Lamb kofta and Kangkung Belacan (water spinach cooked in belacan)

Laksam ( Rice Flour Pasta with Mackerel Sauce in Coconut Milk)

Laksam is a testament of the diversity of Malaysian cooking styles. It is the East Coast take on the Laksa dish, basically noodles in gravy usually topped with garnish and a chili paste. In addition to the Laksa Lemak, Laksa Sarawak, the famous Laksa Penang and my personal favourite Laksa Johor (see earlier post), Laksam actually originates from the North eastern states of Kelantan and Terengganu. It may not be as popular as the Laksa Penang but it does have a huge following for those who have tried this tasty dish.

Rice Flour Pasta

2 cups Rice Flour
3 ½ cups water
Pinch of salt
Oil for brushing

Mix flour with water achieving a runny batter similar to a tempura batter.
Prepare a steamer with a flat vessel /plate enough to hold a thin layer of the batter.
Pour a ladle of the batter onto plate that has been brushed with oil.
Close steamer lid and steam for 2 minutes.
Repeat process until all batter is used.

Put aside to cool. Once cool roll up the round pieces and slice thinly to form the pasta (see pic).

500 can coconut cream/milk
2 Tamarind pieces (asam keping)

500g can Mackerel
1 inch ginger.
2 medium onions
2 clove garlic
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp sugar.


Blend B in food processor and pour into a pot on low heat. Add A and stir on low heat until the oil from coconut milk separates to the surface (about 20 minutes)

Snake beans - sliced thinly
Cucumber - sliced
Bean Sprouts
Mint leaves

Chili topping (Sambal Belacan)
3 fresh red chilli (deseeded)
1 inch belacan (shrimp paste) toasted on high in the oven for 3 minutes
Blend in food processor and add lime juice or lemon juice and a pinch of salt.

Arrange pasta and serve with gravy topped with garnish and chilli paste.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Coconut Rough Trio

My dear hubby has been working on unclogging the drain all morning and he did such a good job, I thought I would make him his favourite desert.

If you like coconut and know how to melt chocolate then this is the desert for you.


100g milk chocolate; melted
1 1/2 cups toasted coconut
100g white chocolate; melted
100 dark chocolate; melted

1. Grease 8cm x 26 cm bar pan; line with baking paper

2. Combine milk chocolate and 1/2 cup of the coconut in a small bowl. Spread mixture into pan. Refrigerate about 5 minutes or until firm.

3. Combine white chocolate and another 1/2 cup of the coconut in a small bowl. Spread mixture on top of the milk chocolate . Refrigerate about 5 minutes or until firm.

4. Combine dark chocolate and remaining coconut in a small bowl. Spread mixture over the white chocolate. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until firm.

5. Remove from pan and slice with a hot, dry knife.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tom Yum Fried Rice

No ideas for breakfast? Here's a quick one for you. Although you would need a Tom Yum Paste (see pic above) to qualify this as an easy under 30 minute recipe.


2 cups cooked rice (left over from last night's dinner)
1 medium onion
2 garlic gloves
1 cup frozen shrimp (defrosted)
1 cup frozen peas ( prepared as per package instructions)
I tbsp Tom Yum Paste.
Oil for frying
1 egg

Fried shallots for garnish


Pound onion and garlic in mortar and pestle. Heat oil in frying pan and fry the onion/garlic paste for 1 minute. Add the Tom Yum paste and continue frying for another minute. By this time the aroma is filling up your kitchen and hopefully the kids are getting up from their slumber!

Add shrimp and rice and stir until mixed through. Add cooked peas and finally push aside the rice to create a hole in the centre of the pan and break the egg. Stir egg until scrambled and keep stirring to spread the scrambled egg evenly throughout the rice.
Serve with fried shallots and chopped cilantro or spring onions.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Choc-Chip, Fig & Walnut Slice

This desert is so easy to make that my 18 year old son out of boredom decided to try it out. Amir is having his 2 week break from college and was looking for something to do. I guess he got tired of the XBOX and computer games. I basically told him he could go through my stack of brand new recipe books that I have not had time to read.

He took me up on my challenge and decided this is the easiest recipe from Women's Weekly "a Taste of Chocolate" that he dares to attempt. Amir is quite savvy in the kitchen by the way, cooking dishes from ready mixes but he is quite apprehensive about desserts. This would be his first desert making venture.

I give it a 9 out of 10 because it turned out great and the fig really made the dish fresh and the brown sugar is not too sweet, the walnut gave it the crunch and the chewy & gooey choc chip made this a sure winner.


185 g unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (165g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cup (185) plain flour
1/2 cup (65g) finely chopped dried figs
1/2 cup (95 g) dark choc chips
100g dark eating chocolate (melted in Bain Marie)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 180C
Grease 20x30cm pan, line base with baking paper, extending paper 5cm over long sides

Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in sifted butter then figs, nuts and choc bits. Press mixture into pan.

Bake slice about 25 minutes. Mark slice into 24 squares. Cool slice in pan, drizzle with chocolate.

Cut into squares when chocolate is set. Then watch how fast this disappears!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tofu with Sautéed Garlic and Sesame Oil

I am all for quick and easy cooking, especially on a week night and you are tired from a long day at the office. Which is why this is one of my favourite side dishes; it can be served with rice and a main dish or another vegetable dish, whichever you prefer.

All you need is soft tofu, available from any asian grocer in the cold/refrigerated section. The rest of the ingredients are basic things in any kitchen/pantry.

You may even serve this to guests at a dinner party because it looks good and tastes even better! Best of all it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare.


3 cloves garlic (finely minced),
3 stalks spring onion (sliced finely)
2 birds eye chilie (sliced finely)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp corn flour (mixed with 1/2 cup water)
2 tbsp Vegetable oil
A dash of sesame oil
Fried shallots


Sauté garlic, spring onions & chillies for 2 minutes in heated oil.
Glaze with soy sauce
Add corn flour mix and stir through and take off the heat.
Slice tofu and place on a heat proof serving dish and pour garlic soy mixture.
drizzle with sesame oil & top with some fried shallots and serve!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Vietnamese Fresh Vegetable Spring Rolls

This is my favourite packed lunch. I love a light lunch at the office because a heavy tummy would make me sleepy and I cant really take naps in the office, can I?

Traditionally, cooked shrimp or tofu is added to this roll but I do prefer the vegetarian variety. I love how the different colours make this a very attractive dish and it does taste good too!

1 package rice paper wrappers (bahn trang)
1 head green leaf lettuce
1 bunch cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
1 bunch thai basil (optional)
1 carrot, grated
1 cucumber, julienned thin
1 package mung bean sprouts
1 package very thin, round rice noodles (vermicelli)


1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the rice noodles for a minute, then drain them and rinse in cool water.

2. Wash and slice the vegetables and lay everything out on a cutting board or counter. You'll need a plate for wrapping the rolls. The lettuce leaves should be sliced into manageable strips, and discard any of the cores that are too tough or crunchy. The basil and cilantro leaves can be left whole or coarsely chopped.

3. Fill a large bowl with hot water to soften the rice paper wrappers. Do this a piece at a time. Don't be surprised if you ruin a few wrappers before getting it just right. Submerge a single dry wrapper in the warm water completely. (You have to soften and wrap the rolls one at a time.) For the first few, keep your fingers on the edges and feel the wrapper as it softens and begins to turn transparent. It may help you to count-off the seconds so that you know how long it takes for the following wrappers--the ones I used took between 30 and 40 seconds to get just right. Once the wrapper is very supple, gently lift it out with both hands. It will get sticky quickly, so take care not to let it fold in on itself. Place the wrapper flat on the plate.

4. Put a little of each filler item into the wrapper. You should create a little oblong mound of filling items just to one side of the center of the wrapper on the side closest you. It may take one or two to get the quantities just right.

5. Wrap the roll up by taking the edge closest to you and flipping it up over the little mound of filling. Gently roll the filling up until you've just past the halfway point, then pull the sides in and roll it the rest of the way.

There are several options for the dipping sauce. A quick one can be Thai sweet chillie from the bottle with a dash of fish sauce. Sometimes I just prefer a simple soy with a dash of wasabi.

Alternatively, just add crushed peanuts with hoisin sauce and some chillie oil.

Dip recipe:

1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
a dash of chillie oil