Monday, March 30, 2009

Baked Pork Bun - Chinese

A friend in the neighbourhood make very delicious pork buns. She made the pork bun in the style of the ‘Seremban Siewpao’, a well known pork bun franchise in Malaysia.  The first time we tried this buns was when we were invited to her place for tea. On another occasion, I made a special request for her to bring some  when we invited her over for barbeque.  I love these pork buns, they have a nice perfect combination of crusty pastry with soft and juicy barbequed pork fillings.  Inspired, we decided to make some.

Note: Seremban a city about 50km south of the capital city Kuala Lumpur, and ‘Siewpao’ is the Chinese word for baked bun

We researched on a few recipes and found one that is close to what we have in mind. The recipe is from Lily Ng's blog. She has very good Asian recipes. 

Making this bun requires two types of dough, i.e. oil dough and the water dough. The dough are made separately and later combined. For the oil dough, I use lard which is much better than shortening. Lard is both natural and tastier. Whereas shortening contains artificial transfat.

To make the Chinese pastry, the oil and water dough are cut into 20 grams and 40 grams pieces respective. These are folded together and rolled flat. It is then rolled like a Swiss roll and rolled flat again. This is repeated three times. This is how the pastry is made flaky. When it is done, the combined dough is cut into two. Each piece of the dough is then rolled flat again, and the pork fillings is wrapped with the pastry (photo on the right). The main ingredients for the fillings are the barbequed pork (Char Siew), shallots, green peas, soy sauce and oyster sauce.

The buns are baked in the oven for 10 minutes. They are then glazed with egg yolk and baked for another 15 minutes.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lim’s Nyonya Hut - Malaysian

When I migrated to Melbourne about thirteen years ago and first settled in the suburb of Glen Waverley, I did not realised that this suburb has such a large population of Malaysians (comparatively to all other suburbs in Melbourne). It is by chance that we ended up living in this area because we found a house that is comfortable and was in a convenient location.
Many Malaysians who came over to do their tertiary studies in Monash University naturally ended up settling in and around the suburb close to the campus. Therefore it is here you find a large concentration of Malaysian restaurants and grocery stores. Many have asked us if we miss the food in Malaysia. Well, living at this end of the town, the answer is ‘No’.

One of my favourite restaurant here is Lim’s Nyonya Hut. They are located closed to the Syndal Station on Blackburn Rd.
This restaurant serves Malaysian hawker food and traditional cakes. 
Typical Malaysian cuisines served here are Nasi Lemak - rice cooked with coconut milk accompanied by anchovies cooked with chilli and prawn paste (photo above), three variation of Laksa, i.e. Assam Laksa, Thai Laksa (photo below) and Curry Laksa.  This is probably the only place as far as I know, which serves authentic Penang Assam Laksa. 
They also served Char Koay Teow, which is rice flat-noodles fried with garlic, bean sprouts, prawns, fish sauce and eggs. 

Among the hawker’s food, I like their laksas and the Char Koay Teow. I tried their Hor Fun (flat rice noodles with eggs, prawns and pork cooked with starchy sauce) and their Hokkien Noodle (yellow wheat noodles cooked in dark soya sauce) and found not quite meeting my expectations. For the latter two dishes, the Palms restaurant across the road (will write-up on this place soon) cooks them better.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thai Yim

One of the most popular and well known Thai cuisine is the Tom Yum. This traditional Thai dish is a soup made from stock and ingredients like lemon grass, lime leaves, lime juice, tamarind, ginger, fish sauce, galangal and crushed red hot chilli.  The distinct flavour of the soup is tangy, spicy,  sour and some sweetness of the stock.  As the weather get colder, with winter approaching, a good place to savour this soup is at Thai Yim. Thai Yim is a little restaurant located beside the Glen Waverley railway station run by the owner and cook, Toy with her partner Frank.  Toy come from Kalasin, a town North East of Thailand.

We dropped in for a meal yesterday. This is our second visit. They have only open for four months. We picked a two items from the menu and a two from the 'special' chalkboard. We had green curry, Tom yum, scrambled eggs wrap and the spicy squids stir fried with vegetables.  The green curry was served in a large bowl shaped like a boat. I can easily tell if it is a good green curry as I often travelled to Thailand. It need to have some fresh herbs and not just using some pre-prepared paste.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Paella Valenciana - Spanish

You may recall that I posted a write-up on the Paella before. Well, I received a very encouraging comment from someone in Barcelona, who also left compliments as well as a suggestion that for a truly spanish paella, we should not put any chorizos in the paella.

We had a dinner party yesterday to celebrate my wife's birthday. I cooked the Paella to serve ten. This time I skipped the chorizos, which was only served it as part of the tapas. I think it worked well as the Chorizos does not distract from the milder seafood flavour). I think this is truly a Paella Valenciana!

I made a time-lapsed video showing the cooking of Paella from start to finish.

Below is a narrative to give you an idea what going on with the 'silent movie'.

It starts off with browning the chicken and pork, followed by the prawns. These are put aside. Next, chopped onions and garlic are sauteed in olive oil. Sliced capsicum are added to cook. The browned chicken and pork are then put back in to cook. Two cans of crushed tomatoes are emptied into the pan. The broth is allowed to thicken. The intensity of the flame is intermittently adjusted. The stock with saffron and short-grain rice are put into the pan.

At this point, as the guitar shredding is getting hotter... the seafood, i.e. the prawns, squids and blue swimmer crabs, are put in to cook with the rice. The sea mussels are then stabbed into the almost cooked rice. We let it simmered until the rice is cooked, adding water to maintain the moisture. Salt and pepper is added to taste. I have to occasionally stirred the rice up from the base to get the rice evenly cooked, if not you can end up with burnt rice at the bottom of the pan. Inevitably, there will be a thin layer of roasted rice soaked the broth at the hot spot of the pan. When the Paella is served, I love to go for these roasted bits which is so flavoursome.

When the rice is cooked it is ready to be served.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Warung Gudeg - Indonesian


An Indonesian friend suggested that we should try the Gudeg dish. We do not know what to expect when we dropped by this ‘warung’ (Indonesian word for small family-owned restaurant).

We ordered their speciality dish, i.e. ‘Nasi Gudeg Komplit’ (Translated: Complete meal of Rice with Gudeg). This is a traditional cuisine from Jogjakarta, Central Java. The main item is Gudeg, which is the green Jackfruit slow-cooked with palm sugar and coconut milk with spices, which include garlic, shallot, ‘buah keras’ (Candlenut), coriander seed, galangal, bay leaves and teak leaves. The Gudeg is served with steamed rice, a braised hard-boiled egg, chicken, tofu and ox rind stew.

Other than the Gudeg, they also served a wide selection of dishes such as Lontong, Ayam Goreng Kalasan, Sate and soup noodles. Most of the dishes are not too spicy,  you have the option to raise the spiciness with the hot chili paste that accompanied the dishes.

IMG_3093 The restaurant ‘Warung Gudeg’ is located at Clayton, about 22km SE of Melbourne CBD. The restaurant is owned and run by the Rumayar family. I met Tina and her husband at the restaurant (in the photo).

On my second visit to the Warung, I tried the Lontong Cap Gomeh and Ayam Goreng Kalasan. As the name of the dish sounds a bit Chinese, I learned that Tina has Chinese descendancy. Very much so in South East Asian countries,  the food has a mixed influence of different cultures.  For example,  Filipino dishes like Pancit and Lumpia has Chinese influence.