Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Indian White Mee Hoon Recipe

During my childhood I had the opportunity to know this wonderful and kind neighbour who was almost like a grandmother to me and my siblings. She lived two doors away and would come rushing to the house if either one of us was sick. Being a former nurse, she knew lots of remedies. On top of that she was a wonderful cook, the type that creates memories of countless comfort foods.

Both our illness season and birthday memories were filled with 'Aunty' bringing lots of gifts, and food so good that even the lack of appetite would give in to.

One of the fondest memories of her cooking is her wajik. Since she knew I loved it so much, she would make big batches just for me. I would just chill it in the fridge, and eat as I please. I did try to make it at home, but really never got any close to how she made it.

Another memory of her speciality is her Indian white mee hoon. This is very different from the regular mee hoon that is seasoned with all kinds of sauces that makes it reddish brown. Over here you get the flavour from spices, curry leaves and dried chilli. When recently I was searching for the best recipe for this, I also discovered that dried anchovies and prawns also make among the sautee, that gives it the rich aroma and flavour.

Since then, I make it regularly, and with reasonable vegetables added, it is very much a balanced meal on its own. Usually for the white mee hoon we use vegetables that can cook with the sautee, and nothing that gives crunch like beansprouts or bak choy. I am not sure quite why but I just have a feeling soft cooked vegetables is the essence for this mee hoon.

You need:

dried anchovies and shrimp, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes.
1 large onion, sliced
4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
some ginger

mee hoon
carrot, sliced thin
chinese cabbage, sliced thin
mustard seeds
dried chilli
curry leaves
coconut oil
salt to taste

Method:

1) Once the dried seafood is soaked well, drain the water and pound it together with ginger. Leave a aside.



2) Soak the mee hoon in tap water.
3) In a pan, heat up some coconut oil.
4) Once it is hot, you can add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and dried chilli. Also add the onion, let it sautee and spices pop a while.


5) You can add the pounded dried goods, and give it a nice sautee till brown and aromatic.



6) Add the carrot and cabbage and let it cook for 10 minutes.


7) Soon after you can add the drained mee hoon, and the chopped garlic. Season with little salt, as the dried seafood is already salty. Give it a nice stir and let it incorporate for about 10 minutes of stirring and cooking.



I had also fried some eggs separately and added into the mee hoon dish. I like this way that it does not coat the mee hoon strands. Do not be afraid to use more curry leaves, I was being gentle to my plant as it is picking up from a recent infection. Happy trying!

Journey To Pantai Kerachut

Last school holidays the boys had a trip to Pantai Kerachut with their taekwando team. At first it sounded all so fun with the sun and sand, only later we got to know that Pantai Kerachut is deep inside the National Park of Penang. It also turned out that Pantai Kerachut is actually a secluded beach with jungle terrain and is actually famous for wildlife viewing, including seasonal nesting turtles.

The boys followed their group that left earlier in the morning. It was a first experience for them travelling somewhere without us parents, just by themselves, and we were glad to let them have it, while we followed behind in our car, taking our time, grabbing some local delight on the way.

We had our speedy date, having breakfast 2 times, yes you read it right, acting all touristy in Georgetown. We first had some dimsum, and later we had some local toast at Lollipop Ropitiam. And yes we were free enough to take a few selfies, wefies, whatchacallit.



Soon after that we got to driving towards the National Park. It took a while, passing Tanjung Bungah, Batu Ferringi, practically everything, till we reached end of the world, really, it was End of The World Seafood that we saw, right before reaching the fishing village that later led to the National Park of Penang.


Just as we were registering at the office, we were warned that the path to Pantai Kerachut is not simple, and we ought to be properly dressed and equipped with water. and luckily we were so.

And off we went.



And went.



And went. Yes, the trekking path was like never ending, with challenging terrains and all kinds of scary jungle paths that I wouldn't know to name.

The first 15 minutes I almost lost my breath. What I initially thought was 40 minutes walk, turned out to be a very challenging 2 hour path!



We passed a dug out hill, some pit stops, sign boards with facts that made our pit stops informative,  a few clear water creeks, and somewhere before the beach there's a meromictic lake, which is pretty rare due to its two layers of salt and fresh water that do not mix. This is one of the useful information that you will find among the signages.


Really, we were not prepared to this, no we did not sign up for this either!


As we struggled, I kept thinking how did the kids make it through this path with their group. Then again, recalling back the amount of energy they usually have, this path seemed very fun for them. Also they were in a large group, so it won't feel as taxing as us two tired souls felt. And oh, it was a good thing we ate breakfast like there is no tomorrow, because, while the kids will have food provided by their group, we won't have any eating options at Pantai Kerachut.




Throughout the way, there were also distant markers, which were informative, but somehow the real time taken felt much longer than indicated there. Those were the longest 1 hour 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and 5 minutes of my life. Oh wait, maybe that is not true, I might have had more agonizing times in my life, like going through 14 hours of labour.

After what felt like 10 hours of walking, 2 bottles of water, and being drenched with sweat, we reached our destination. Super yeay!

And yes, Pantai Kerachut is an amazing sight indeed. Clean beach, clear water, and to think we were at the other side of the island that we always view from our place, it was just fulfilling. I must mention that there is no phone signal through most of the jungle trekking, and zero at the beach!


Soon after we decided, we are not trekking back. No Sir, we are not. Luckily there were motorboat operators who hover that area for potential passengers, so we booked one motorboat ride back.

We left soon after the kids were done with the activities. As beautiful as it was there, we were totally dying to be back to land where there's convenience and 4G.

See the t-shirt wordings, 'Spirit to practice, more than just self-defense'. Indeed, so much of spirit to practice when going through the path to reach here. Taekwando is not just about self defense. This event proved it right!


As we were all ready to just end this trip and be back to the jetty and head to the car, the motorboat operator made it more memorable for us. He took several stops to show us some famous rocks by the shores. Here, you can see a rabbit resting, can you see the eyes and ears pulled back on the right side?


And then there's this flat rock that looks like a turtle, head on the right.


And the finale, crocodile rock, which looked more like a dinosaur head to me.


What an expectedly and amazingly fun trip it was. Sure it was tiring as hell, testing our physical and mental strength, and once over, we only felt grateful for having this wonderful experience.


On the way back we saw this other famous beach called Monkey Beach, it has some water sports, food and drinks all available. We will surely make a trip here next time, by motorboat that is! No more jungle trekking!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dry Chilli Sambal Recipe

We all love pan mee at home. Specifically the chilli powder that comes along with the pan mee dish. It's always been a wonder for me how they make the dry chilli sambal that is crunchy and so flavourful. Little did I know that instead of just the glorified chilli in the name, dried shrimps play a huge role in making it.

Lately I also began to see online sellers marketing the dry sambal, advertising how it is perfect to be eaten with virtually anything, even plain rice. Now this is when I started making connections with the pan mee chilli, and yes, that is the one.  Without realising I have turned into this aunty who can make anything at home, and was determined to make this at home from scratch.



I asked Mr Google for some recipes, and I found out it is actually a Nyonya delicacy 'hae bee hiam'. I felt somewhat proud to be able to attempt this. After comparing a few recipes, I came to the conclusion that this is indeed the usual chilli paste that we make for sambal, with added dried shrimps to the kick. All it needs is some good seasoning and cooked from its liquid form till it dries into fine particles of its original ingredients. Sounds like a lot of hard work. Surprisingly, it is not. And on top of that, you get a very wonderful treat the end of it. I must warn you though, it is so delicious, you can eat it on its own, but the spoonfuls!

I decided to make this dry chilli sambal inspired from my own sambal paste, that is with turmeric and lemongrass.

Here's what you need:
A handful of dried chilli, soaked
3 fresh red chilli
6-8 shallots
3 cloves of garlic
a handful of dried shrimp, soaked
3cm fresh turmeric
1 stalk of lemongrass
some oil
salt
2 tbsp brown sugar

What you need to do:
1) The soaked ingredients works best with warm/hot water. 

2) Once you have soaked the dried shrimps and chilli for 15 minutes, you can strain the water, and move all ingredients (except salt/sugar/oil) into the blender, add some water and blend it fine. 


3) Pour the blended paste onto a hot pan and start cooking. Add the sugar and salt at this point.

4) Keep stirring as it cooks. I did take random breaks in between from stirring, especially if there is still some liquid form, it takes a while to evaporate. But once it has dried up, you can't take break from stirring, otherwise it might burn right there and then. Also frequent stirring ensure it is evenly cooked.


5) Halfway there, you can add the oil. I like to add this point because it helps in browning the paste into nice crunchy powder.

6) And yes, keep stirring, till you get this. And you are done!



Once it has coolest down, you can transfer it to your desired container, or just start eating right away!


I must confess, halfway as I was stirring it, I did think to myself 'ok, so this is not working out' because I did not see it drying up as quick as I thought it would, but patience really pays off handsomely. At the end of it you will tell yourself, it was so easy I'd do it again and again!

The very next day I got plan pan mee into work, and this is how we had our chilli sambal, with spinach noodles, minced meat, and homemade kimchi soup!


As I bit into the noodles with the minced meat, the crunchy bits of chilli sambal reminded me, yes I did it! Something tells me this is going to be a must-have condiment in the house! Happy trying!


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