RSSArchive for July, 2011

50 Most Delicious Food In The World: Have You Tried Them All?

CNN published an article of the World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods a few days ago. That article caused a bit of news in Malaysia because the Assam Laksa landed on spot #7.

And true to form, this sort of things rankled Singapore. Both Malaysia and Singapore had a bit of an exchange over the press on why Singapore’s Chili Crab (ranked #35) and Chicken Rice (#45) is ranked lower than the Assam Laksa (see here).

Frankly, although this is fun to read, I won’t take this list very seriously. While some of the food listed deserves recognition, there are some that is rather dubious. In particular, … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Weekend Musings: Addictions

I have been busy. Real busy like you do not believe it. Life had been pretty much consumed by “China” ever since I was landed right smack in the middle of the new project. As much as I want to be positive and say that work will tone down to normal levels soon, the truth is it will stay at this heightened level for some time. I had kept insane working hours, at times starting at 4AM in the morning. With teams working on Beijing, London, Hong Kong, Atlanta and with me alone directing the project right at the edge of timezone, I do feel like I am working around the clock on some days.

And the travelling is not helping too. I am down to working two weeks a month in London and Beijing until the end of this year. Just yesterday, I got an email asking me to consider being based in Beijing until the end of the year! But work had been exciting. All these came about when I managed to pull off a particularly difficult delivery two weeks ago and my just reward was emails floating around that I could bring some other distressed areas of the program back on track … “he needs to be there, get him there” was what people are saying.

So I really do need to juggle my priorities. Chowtimes is one of them that gets relegated to the lower rungs. Although writing by itself does not take much time and Suanne helps greatly doing up the pictures, I need the creative juices flowing to wring. You know how I write my posts? I compose posts in my mind throughout the day, like while driving or walking. By the time I sits down at the computer, I already know what I want to say and can hack away at a post in a short time. But these days, my mind is dominated by work matters alone.

So what does it mean? As much as I hate to say it but with work and travelling, it is nearly impossible for me to keep up the level of writing I want.  I don’t want to stop writing. No sir. So, the best I could do is to change how I write and what I write about. Chowtimes is about food and travel. Chowtimes is about sharing the life of Ben and Suanne. That will not change. What will change will perhaps be that the posts will be lighter.

Let’s see how things will evolve. I am on forced vacation next week (boss says to take the week off because I still have 20 days of vacations banked) and so will attempt to write next week.

Today, I want to speak of my latest addictions.

For the past couple of months, we had not been exploring new restaurants. Since we had so many posts yet not written and that I can’t even find time to write, there is no point going to new places.

Instead, we went to our favourite places and much nearby home. That pleases Nanzaro and Arkensen a lot. One of the restaurants we had gone back to several times is the Szechuan Delicious restaurant. We like that place because it is inexpensive and there are much more to discover on their menu.

One of the dishes we are utterly addicted to is the dish above. Remember the popular Sichuan appetizer dish called “saliva chicken”? Well, we like this version of the same dish using “beef tripe”. We love the crunchiness of the tripe and the same spiciness of the chili sauce. This is awesome.

I have not come across this version in other restaurants and just wonder if it is commonly found in other Sichuan restaurants. If you like “saliva chicken”, you will probably like this too. BTW, the name “saliva chicken” is my preferred translation over “mouth-watering chicken”. :-)

My other addition is this one above. I have to blame grayelf for introducing this to me.

She introduced this in a recent dinner I had with Sherman, Karl and Angie. If you like … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Mung Bean Pastry (Penang Tau Sar Piah)

Tau Sar Piah, a Mung Bean Pastry is a popular snack from Penang. Penang, also known as the Pearl of Orient of Malaysia is located on the north west off the penisular Malaysia. Penang Tau Sar Piah is a popular gift item. In fact, I often get Penang Tau Sar Piah from my friends who make a trip back to Malaysia.

One morning when I checked my emails, I got the Penang Tau Sar Piah recipe forwarded to me by Ben. This is his way of saying, “honey, can you make this?”. This recipe is from KookyCulinary by BlurMommy. I had adapted the recipe to 1/3 of the original recipe because my conscience told me that it’s too much to make 100 pieces.

This Penang Tau Sar Piah is a sweet and savory little pastry. You can finish it in a bite or two. It is not difficult to make but it’s time consuming. Each pastry is made with 3 little balls of dough and filing. It took me more than two hours to make 33 of this little morsel. Luckily, I had Arkensen helped me to take photos of the steps as it was during spring break that I made this. My hands were oily with the rolling of the pastry.

Ingredients

Oil Dough

  • 7 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon oil

Water Dough

  • 13 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 6 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon oil
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vinegar

Filling

  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 5 shallots, minced
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 200g split green bean

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg, beaten

Source: this recipe is adapted from http://kookyculinary.com/2011/03/27/penang-tau-sar-piah/

Yield 33

Prep time: 2 hours; Bake time: 20 to 25 minutes

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Community Kitchen meets at Cucina Manila, Richmond

The Richmond Community Kitchens celebrate the end of the session with dining out. We decided to try Filipino cuisine at Cucina Manila in Richmond. There were 14 members attending this dining out from various kitchens like South Arm, Caring Place and Gilmore Park Church.

Cucina Manila in located at the strip mall across Richmond Center where Staples is.

Cucina Manila serves Filipino food on steam buffet table like those you see in food court. This is a self service restaurant where you help yourself with the cutleries, water and sauces.

Although the food is served food court style, the setting is nicer than the food court.

There is combo of 2 dishes with rice for $8.50. You can also order by the dish itself which comes with bigger serving for sharing. The price for the main dish ranges from $8 to $10. Dessert price is $2. You order and pay for the food at the counter.

We ordered a lot of food to share. Linda, a volunteer in the Community Kitchen in charged of the ordering as she is from the Philippines. Some of the members asked her if she cooks similar dishes at home and she said she cooks most of the dishes and agrees to demonstrate some of the dishes in the community kitchen in future. We look forward to that.

Here are the dishes that we tried. The above is … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Take 5 Cafe in Richmond Centre Mall

Polly and I had our cake meet in Richmond Centre Mall. There is a new coffee place located near the Apple Store. It is in an open area.

The new coffee place is Take 5 Cafe. This is a franchise coffee place. This location has opened for 3 months as the server told me. Take 5 Cafe offers smoothies, sandwiches, soup, wraps, salad, baked pasta and baked goods.

Polly and I had a small Zebra Hot Chocolate and Zebra Mocha each. They are $3.55 and $3.05 respectively. We were told that zebra means they are half dark chocolate and half white chocolate.  You have the option to have the whip cream or not. For food, we had … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Steveston Coffee Co. on Moncton St, Richmond

Jean, my ex-neighbour called me out for coffee. We had not meet since she moved away last October. Time really flies. It’s great to get together again.

I decided to go Steveston Coffee Co. in Richmond since I have not been to this place before but heard that they have good coffee. There are many cafes and coffee shops in the Steveston Village, like Waves Coffee, Blenz Coffee, Starbucks, Alegria Cafe & Giftware, Steveston Cannery Cafe, Rocanini, to name a few.

Steveston Coffee came up as number 1 in the Best Coffee (Independent) category in the Best of Richmond Review’s Readers’ poll 2011, follow by Bean and Beyond and La Cuisson.

The aroma of coffee permeated the coffee shop the moment we step inside it. Steveston Coffee Co. also sells house roasted organic coffee beans, in the range of $14 per pound. Like many self service cafe, … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Ian Lai’s Healthy Asian Cooking: Broccoli and Beef Stir Fry

Are you overwhelmed when you shop at the sauces aisle in Chinese groceries? I am. There are so many types of sauces that even as a Chinese I have not try all of them.

Ian Lai shared some of the more common sauces that he uses in the Healthy Asian Cooking workshop. They include soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, hot bean sauce,  etc.

One of the sauces that stands out is the Korean Gochujang Hot Pepper Paste because Ian Lai said it is MSG free. As for soy sauce, the Japanese Tamari is also MSG free.

The last recipe in the Healthy Asian Cooking is Broccoli and Beef. Ian’s Lai take for the popular Broccoli and Beef you find in Chinese restaurants is very different. He cooks the beef separately and he added multigrains and goji berries into this dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 flank steak
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into flowerets, slice stem to same bite size so that they cook evenly
  • 1 package of snow peas
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, rough chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch of water crest, rough chopped
  • 1 handful of goji berries, re-hydrated in cold water for a few minutes until plump
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 whole garlic clove
  • 2 slices of ginger

Marinate for flank steak

  • salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1 big tablespoon Gochujang
  • 1 big  tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar

Sauce

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1/2 block of soft tofu
  • 1/4 teaspoon of togarashi (Japanese spice mix)
  • salt to taste

Grains

  • 2 cups of multigrains
  • 3 cups of water

The above is the package of multigrains that Ian used. You can get them from T&T or Osaka Supermarket. The 2 kg package costs around $1o to $12.

It’s a very cultural thing for Chinese to eat steamed white rice with dishes. The rice is usually washed a number of times until the water runs clear. Ian shared with us that their family gradually changed to not washing the rice as it’s his daughter’s responsibility to cook rice. After much complaints, they forgo the washing of the rice. Nowadays, they try to eat other grains instead of white rice. White rice has the least nutrients as all the good nutrients have been polished away.

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Ian Lai’s Healthy Asian Cooking: Garlic Green Bean

In the Healthy Asian Cooking, Ian Lai described the Chinese cooking as lots of greens and a little meat. Chinese likes to cook with quick stir fry which is quite oily in the sense of splattering and strong odour. That the reason why in many Chinese homes, they have two kitchens where one of the kitchen is located outside the house for stir frying.

Chinese likes to use lots of green vegetables like mustard green, sweet peas, snow peas, green beans, broccoli, water crest, green onions, cilantro, etc.

Here is the recipe for the Garlic Green Bean:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound green beans
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 slices of ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon pf togarashi (a Japanese Spice Mix)

The above is the bottle of the Togarashi. You can click on image to view it larger.

Togarashi is typically made of coarsely ground red chili pepper, ground sichuan pepper, roasted orange peel, black and white sesame seeds, hemp seed, ground ginger and seaweed.

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