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Easy 4-Step Bakkwa Puffs

Bakkwa (also known as rougan) is the Chinese version of jerky, consisting of flattened pieces of dried meat seasoned with sugar, salt and spices. It is very popular among the Chinese community in Malaysia and Singapore, and although you can get it all year round, it is most commonly eaten during the Lunar New Year. We also prepare it differently here; ie cooking the meat over charcoal so it gets imbued with a nice, smoky flavour.

Bak kwa

Photo: Alpha, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve never been much of a bakkwa fan. I don’t hate it – if I was visiting someone during the festive season and they offered me a slice, I wouldn’t say no – but I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to buy it. I’m sure many people would beg to differ though: apparently the line for the Lim Chee Guan brand of bak kwa in Singapore can stretch up to three hours!

Recently, my colleagues were tasked with making a video on ‘unique ways to prepare bakkwa’, and on my part, I had to come up with a recipe. All the good ones like pasta, fried rice and what not had already been taken. Not being much of a cook myself, I initially thought of just frying it as an omelet and calling it a day, but then my mom suggested I use it as filling for pastry, and bake it with cheese. Brilliant, Moomins!

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Closest place to my house selling bak kwa is Oloiya in Bandar Puteri Puchong. Thankfully, Malaysians are a bit saner than Singaporeans (or maybe it’s coz COVID cases are in the four digits daily these days so people are kiasi?) , so there was no three hour queue.

Oloiya sells chicken and pork bakkwa in 100, 300 and 500 g portions. Unlike pre-pandemic times, they no longer display stacks of meat out in the open, probably for hygiene purposes. Instead, everything is vacuum packed and sealed. No tasters as well. It takes away from the traditional shopping experience, but hey – safety first.

I couldn’t visualise how much each portion was because everything was already packed into plastic, so I ordered the middle option (300g – RM35). It turned out to be quite a lot, as there were six pieces inside.

Aside from traditional chicken and pork, Oloiya has items like “Blooming Beauty Pork” (basically dried bacon strips), pork / chicken floss, and snack-sized bakkwa (called Bak-Off. I’m surprised this name got approved for the market lol). For those who are looking for gifts, Oloiya also offers nicely packed gift boxes with options for personalised engraving.

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Anyway enough promo: on to the bakkwa puffs.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pieces store-bought filo pastry (if you’re feeling hardworking, you can make your own – but I don’t have a recipe for that lol)
  • 1 piece bakkwa, cut into thin strips
  • 1 slice cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten (for eggwash)

Method:

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  • Fill half of the filo pastry with bakkwa and top with cheese. Make sure there is enough space at the edges to fold.
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  • Fold pastry into triangles and seal the edges with a fork.
  • Brush egg wash on top of pastry for colour.
  • Pre-heat oven. Set to 180C. Bake for 20 minutes. (PS: If it doesn’t look brown enough, either bake for another 10 minutes, or set the oven to a higher temperature.)
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And there you have it. A creative way to enjoy your bakkwa!

If you think about it, you’re basically making a sandwich of sorts. I mean, you can’t really go wrong with meat + cheese + pastry combo. The pastry gives it a nice and crispy exterior, and the bakkwa’s sweet and salty flavour goes great with cheese. The texture also softens a bit during the baking process, so you actually get meat that is more moist.

What are some of the creative ways you eat your bakkwa? Or do you enjoy it as it is? Let me know if you’re planning to try this recipe, and how it turned out for you! 🙂

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Soft Boiled Eggs: A Malaysian Breakfast Staple

Walk into any kopitiam in Malaysia for breakfast, and chances are you’ll see at least one table with a plate of soft-boiled eggs, kaya and butter with toast, and a ceramic cup of teh tarik/kopi o. It’s such a ubiquitous thing for Malaysians that some might not even think of it as special (when foreigners ask what we eat for breakfast, most would probably say “nasi lemak”).

It wasn’t until I brought Hubs to a kopitiam in Melaka and he berated me for not introducing it to him sooner that I realised that this combo is actually quite a unique one.

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Homemade soft boiled eggs with garlic toast

But how did Malaysians start eating soft boiled eggs with toast for breakfast? Well, you might be surprised to find out that it’s a remnant from Malaysia’s colonial days.

Dating back to the 1800s, Eggs and Soldiers is a classic British breakfast dish, featuring – you guessed it – boiled eggs (with shell intact but the top removed) and thin strips of toast. The shape of the bread makes it easy to dip them into the runny eggs. Somehow, this dish must have been brought over to Malaya during the British occupation, but locals tweaked it by adding condiments like soy sauce and pepper. Instead of cutting the bread into strips, locals paired them with butter and kaya (coconut jam), creating a wonderful marriage of sweet and salty flavours.

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There’s an art to making soft boiled eggs, and kopitiams seem to have perfected them. While they’re easy enough to make at home, it’s difficult to get the exact same taste as the ones you find in restos.

Sometimes, when I’m not able to head to my local kopitiam, I make my own. The trick is to use medium-sized eggs and not cook them straight out of the fridge. Instead, run them under water until they’re close to room temperature, then bring a pot to boil. Place the eggs in a container (I use a stainless steel one for soups), pour the boiling water until it they’re completely submerged, then set the timer to six minutes. I find six minutes works best based on the eggs I usually buy, so when I crack them open the eggs are perfect : creamy yolk, runny whites.Then add soy sauce and pepper to your liking, and voila! Give me this over a fancy breakfast buffet any day.

What are some of your favourite breakfast dishes? Share them with me in the comments below!

Hello!

If you enjoyed reading this, please consider supporting my website. Contrary to popular belief, I do not make big moolah from writing – and this will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. Thanks for stopping by!

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Noob Cook Makes Chicken Karaage – 100% Foolproof!

As much as I love food, I’ve never been much of a cook.

When I was younger, the kitchen was my mom’s domain (still is), and now that I’m older I just don’t have much interest in it. Since I live with family, making meals that I actually like (usually Western – pastas, pizza, steaks) is also difficult because I have to consider what my fam would eat (dad and bro have super Asian palates so every meal must have rice, dad doesn’t like cheese, mom dislikes fried food and can’t eat raw veggies, etc.).

Since I’m no longer dining out as much due to the pandemic, I haven’t had Japanese food in ages – so I thought of making some chicken karaage. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not much of a cook and I wasn’t expecting it to be anything wow, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much they tasted like the ones you can get from actual Japanese restos.

I adapted the original recipe from Rasa Malaysia, with a couple of tweaks. If a noob like me with little to no cooking experience can whip them up, I’m sure this will be a breeze for everyone else!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken thighs, deboned
  • 3 inches ginger – grate and squeeze to get 2 tbsp ginger juice
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • a teaspoon of sugar (substitute for cooking sake)
  • cornflour

Method:

  1. cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces.
  2. combine ginger juice, soy sauce and sugar. Allow chicken to marinate overnight.
  3. coat chicken with cornflour. (I used a ziploc bag so it would coat evenly)
  4. Shake off excess cornflour.
  5. Heat oil to boil in a pot / wok. Fry chicken at medium heat until they float. Remove and allow to rest for a few minutes.
  6. Adjust to high heat. Fry chicken again until crispy and golden brown.
  7. Place on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Serve.

And that’s it! It’s super simple; and I was so happy the chicken turned out juicy and well-flavoured – didn’t need extra seasoning or anything. Is this what they call ‘the joys of cooking’? Or maybe I’m just excited because it’s fried chicken ha

The original recipe says to use four chicken thighs (about a lb), but because the thighs I bought were humongous (wtf are they feeding the chickens?), I only used two. You can use breast meat, but thigh meat tends to be more tender and juicier. Cooking sake helps to break down the meat, but if you’re going for a halal recipe / don’t have cooking sake, sugar works as well. The portion was enough for our fam of four (mom doesn’t like fried food and only had a bit) but I think I could have polished off this entire plate by myself lol. I think judging by regular portions, it’s good for 2-3 people.

If you’re trying this recipe, let me know how it turned out. Happy cooking! 🙂

Stir-Fried Longevity Noodles

Hey good people!

It’s Day 4 of the Restricted Movement Order in Malaysia. Things have been pretty uneventful in the house – been spending it working on stories, doing some part-time writing gigs, catching up on games (playing Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor rn) and sorting out some old photos. It’s difficult to keep away from negative news when my dad has been tuning in to the TV 24/7. Of course everyone is feeling worried about the recession hitting (which I’m sure it will with how things are going), but there’s nothing we can do about it now except play our part and hope that things resume some normalcy in the coming months.

But enough doom and gloom. I made some food! 😀

PS: I’m not the best cook, but I survived living on my own while I was at uni in the UK, so it’s not like I’m terrible at it or anything lol. But don’t expect gourmet-level recipes.

STIR-FRIED LONGEVITY NOODLES 

Longevity noodles, also known as e-fu noodles, are soft and silky wheat noodles that are often eaten at celebrations such as birthdays and weddings, since they symbolise longevity and prosperity. The strands are long and thick with a slightly chewy texture. You can easily get them at most Asian grocery stores. We had some leftover roast chicken from lunch, so I thought of tossing some ingredients together to make stir-fried noodles.

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Ingredients: 

  • 1 packet of longevity noodles
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 squid, cleaned and sliced into small pieces. Marinade with salt, pepper and sesame oil to taste
  • 4 pieces back bacon, sliced into strips
  • 1 bunch choy sum
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce + 1 tbsp concentrated chicken stock, mixed with 3 tbsp water
  • PS: we had roast chicken from lunch earlier, but you can replace it with a protein of your choice)

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Method: 

  1. Bring water to boil.
  2. Boil noodles for 8 minutes. Remove and blanch in cool water. This is to halt the cooking process and keep the noodles bouncy and al dente.
  3. Fry the back bacon until crisp. Set aside.
  4. Stir-fry garlic. Add in squid and stir fry quickly. Then add in vegetables, roast chicken and oyster sauce mix. `
  5. Add noodles in and toss everything evenly. Add water as needed if noodles look too dry.
  6. Garnish with back bacon. Serve.

 

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Tada!

It was quite tasty, if I do say so myself. lol

Getting fresh ingredients might be harder if the restricted movement order keeps up (some wet markets have been ordered to close since they can’t implement crowd control), so we’re trying to make fresh and healthy meals while we can, before resorting to canned / instant food.

I hope everyone is holding up well, wherever you are. If you do have access to fresh ingredients, then this is a great time to hone your cooking skills. Stay safe and healthy!

Shortcut Kaya

SO mum and I tinkered about the kitchen and made kaya. 

What is Kaya?It’s notoriously underrated, especially outside of Malaysia. Forget marmalade spread, apricot jam, strawberry and all that sht: Kaya and butter on toast is all you need. It’s basically coconut egg jam, sometimes flavoured with pandan, cooked to a thick, goopy paste.

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Looks like a hot mess but tastes heavenly!

 

Traditionally, homemade kaya requires long hours of cooking and tedious work, coz you have to keep stirring to make it thicken. These days, you can even make it in half an hour. We looked up some recipes online and did some tweaks:

Ingredients:
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 30 g sugar (we put in less coz already using palm sugar which is sweet)
  • 50g palm sugar
  • 1 bowl coconut milk
  • 1 pandan leaf, tied into knot

Method: 

Put egg yolks into bowl. Whisk and set aside.

Pour coconut milk, sugar and palm sugar into a pan. Cook til everything is melted.

Slowly pour in egg mix. Take care to add slowly so that the egg doesn’t cook.

Set to medium heat, throw in pandan leaf, then stir. Now it’s just a waiting game for the mixture to thicken. Once it looks consistently goopy with lumps, the kaya is ready! 🙂 Simple, huh?

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Turned out pretty good, I was surprised myself. 😛

 

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 ! 🙂

 

 

 

Kitchenventures: Soy-Sauce Shrimp

I like to eat.

Looking through my blog entries, that’s pretty obvious.

But a love for food doesn’t always mean I know how to make it. Never having ventured into the kitchen much, I survived on mostly pasta/sauces and ham sandwiches the entire time I was studying overseas.

If this was 60 years ago, in Chinese culture, I’d have been a spinster fo’ life.

Lately Moo has been ‘transferring’ some of her cooking skills on to me (or at least attempting to!). Today, I tried making soy-sauce shrimp. Although it was a tad too salty, it didn’t turn out too bad.

*Pats self on back*

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Soy-Sauce Shrimp 

  • 16 large-sized prawns
  • two cloves garlic, diced
  • ginger, diced
  • one cup Shaoxing wine
  • 6 tbsp soy sauce
  • cooking oil
  • 2 stalks of spring onion, cut
  1. Cut off prawn legs and moustache (?feelers?). Deep-fry until golden brown. **I made the mistake of salting the prawns a little because I was worried it would be tasteless. When soy sauce was added, it turned out to be quite salty. 😡
  2. Set aside and pat dry.
  3. Fry garlic and ginger til brown, then add prawns, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine and spring onion. Stir-fry and toss well.
  4. Once sauce reduces, turn off fire. Garnish and serve! 🙂

Crepes and Hotpots

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Crepes are really versatile – they can be savoury or sweet, depending on what you put in them, and you can adjust how filling or light you want them to be! It’s not often that I get to prepare food at home, so when I had the weekend off mum and I decided to make some of these for lunch 🙂

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Not ‘conventional’ by any standards – we stir-fried some ham with onions as the filling. Sauce would have been good, but it’s rather fattening… >-<

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Somehow the ‘crepes’ turned out looking like pancakes. It’s hard to make ones with a porous texture unless you have a proper skillet. Anyone has any tips to share?

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It was raining very heavily the evening after work, and it has been ages since my last hotpot – so I dropped by Sukishi@IOI Mall, Puchong for a comforting dinner after a stress-filled day.

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Being a creature of habit, I always have the same things from the buffet line, namely shellfish like bamboo clams (they kind of look like whitish tongues or flat worms)…

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Assorted hotpot items like cheese filled seafood balls, beef and pork balls, oyster mushrooms and fried beancurd skin.

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The star attraction is ofc the meat selection. They are currently offering lamb, apart from the usual chicken, pork and beef. After cooking quickly in the Miso soup or soy-based soup, it is best to cool the meat by dipping it into raw egg, then their house specialty chilli and garlic dip. At just under RM40++, the buffet is value for money for meat lovers and large eaters.

Sukishi Japanese Buffet

IOI Mall, New Wing, 3rd Floor, 47170 Puchong

Mon-Sun (11am – 10pm) Lunch – 11am – 4pm, Dinner – 5pm – 10pm