Things to Look Forward to in Ipoh: Home Cooked Fam Meals

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One of the great things about visiting relatives in Ipoh ? Glorious food. My third aunt, whom I call Sar Kor, is a great chef, and probably the only aunt among my dad’s many sisters to have inherited my late grandmother’s cooking chops. The cuisine is a mix of Hokkien (my great grandparents came to then-Malaya from Fujian province on junk boats in the late 19th century) and Peranakan (Straits Chinese) influences, as my Ah Ma learnt her dishes from a Peranakan neighbour. Simple but hearty comfort food.

A typical home-cooked meal would look like the one above. Blanched vegetables in soy sauce are a must-have for every meal (gotta get them greens in!), while steamed chicken is more of a Hainanese/Cantonese thing (aunt does it really well though. Moist, tender and great when dipped in soy sauce) – but there are also distinctly Hokkien/Peranakan dishes. Sambal petai (stinkbeans in spicy shrimp paste) delivers a hot kick that is addictive with rice, so its worth it to have bad breath for a few hours. Then you have braised pork belly with herbal egg in dark soy sauce, which is kind of like the adobo of the Hokkien world. The way Sar Kor makes it, the belly is so soft and tender with the right amount of lean and fat that it just melts onto your tongue. To wash it all down, a warm hearty bowl of sweet carrot and corn soup with pork.

We’ve been suggesting to her to do one of those home-kitchen thingies (what do you call them, underground kitchens?) where, say, a group of 10 guests come to your home to enjoy excellent home-cooked food. Concepts like these have been picking up lately and you can find homekitchens offering local, Sri Lankan or even Korean fare. We don’t know if she’ll take up the idea, but it would be great if she did, don’t you think? 🙂

 

Tomato Spaghetti ala Eris

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I don’t cook very often, coz I replace my breakfast and dinner with shakes. Now that I’m running low on supplies,  I have to think of alternatives to make, especially for dinner.

While surfing for recipes, I came across a Classic Tomato Spaghetti dish by Jamie Oliver.

The thing about surfing for recipes online is that they’re mostly written by Western chefs, and it’s hard to find certain ingredients here in Malaysia. That, or they’re super pricey. I remember making a balsamic vinegar salmon once, and bought a bottle of that for RM18. I only used it once, because Asian cooking rarely uses it as an ingredient. >->

For my own tomato spaghetti, I tweaked the ingredients. For one, Jamie’s recipe doesn’t have chicken meat and cheese (I had extra cheese in my fridge so I figured what the heck). He also uses ingredients like fresh basil and red wine which I have omitted.

Anyway, here it is: Tomato Spaghetti ala Eris ! 😀

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 can tomato puree
  • Grana Padano cheese (50g)
  • 1 pc chicken breast, minced, seasoned with 1/2 tsp salt (or soy sauce + sesame oil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • dried basil seasoning
  • cooking oil
  • Spaghetti (3/4 packet)

Method: 

  1. Heat oil in frying pan. Stir in onions and fry til soft.
  2. Add in garlic and continue stirring. When the garlic turns golden brown, mix chicken meat into the pan.
  3. When the meat looks done, pour in tomato puree. Add water if mixture looks too thick and adjust accordingly. Reduce heat. Season and simmer, stirring occasionally.
  4. While waiting for the sauce, bring water to boil in a pot (I used a wok coz it’s faster). Once ready, slip in pasta sticks and let cook for 11-13 mins.
  5. Add Grana Padano cheese to sauce and stir until melted. Season with basil.
  6. Drain water from pasta. Serve with sauce.

Serves 3 

Cooking + prep time: 40mins. probably less if you’re an expert in the kitchen but I’m a klutz with a knife, so.

I was very satisfied with how the pasta turned out 🙂 The sauce was perfect, especially after adding the Grada Padano cheese which has a milky, salty flavour to it. Adding cheese also meant I didn’t have to use too much salt. I’ve learnt that the secret to good flavour is to keep taste testing.. but maybe that’s just me. I think I should have boiled the pasta longer because they turned out just slightly harder than al dente after boiling for 11mins.

 

Happy Cooking ! 🙂