Pork skin noodles – making noodles out of pig skin

uncooked pig noodles

This is not your usual noodle dish. The noodles are made of pig skin. It’s not pork noodles – it’s pig skin noodles! The noodle is not the carbohydrate in this dish – it’s the protein! I first came across this in an episode of Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods America. I did a quick search for the restaurant that serves this and came across a blog post that describes exactly how to make pig noodles out of pig skin.

making pig noodles

I had to source for the pig skin – most butchers don’t sell pig skin. It’s either discarded or meant to be sold with the cut of meat. However, I went to Sanbanto – an organic farm-to-table butcher cum restaurant and made my unusual request.

pig skin softening

The clerk was puzzled for a second while processing what I really wanted and took a bag from under the counter. She gave it to me free of charge. I wonder why it was bagged like that in the first place but it didn’t register right then coz I got into a conversation of what I wanted to do with the pig skin – to make noodles!

pork belly skin

The pig skin I got is from the belly (as can be seen from the teats) and I tried slicing it but the skin proved to be way too tough for any of my knives so I decided to wait until I’ve finished it. I wanted to make pig skin noodle ramen like the post I read in From Belly to Bacon – but with a different twist. I’ll do a two animal broth!

chicken carcass pork bone

You will need:

  • Pig skin (find sheets so it’s easier to cut strips of noodles)
  • Pork bone for soup
  • Chicken carcass
  • Edible flowers

chicken pork stock

I used a chicken carcass and a large pig bone for soups in my cooker. There are ramen places like Santouka Ramen that’s famous for their chicken broth and other Japanese ones who use the traditional pork broth. I wanted a combination of both.

pig skin sheets

The rice cooker was filled up to 1.8 litres of water, after the displacement made by the chicken carcass and pig bone. I also threw in the pig skin so it’ll be easier to cut once it’s tender and cooked.

making pig skin noodles

I took:

  • 14 hours
  • 4 litres of water
  • 4 refills

stirring stock

to boil the ramen stock. It was an overnight event with alarms set to refill the cooker.

boiling stock

However, I made a *very big mistake* – I left the pig skin in too long. I should have taken it out at the 2 hour point and cut strips out of it. I left it in for the entire 14 hour duration and it was a soggy mess when I attempted to slice it into strips of noodles.

pig-skin

It was quite a feat since everything in the cooker was pulverized and reduced into a very yummy and gelatinous goo. I did manage to slice it and poured the broth (it’s way thicker than what you’ll associate with this word) over it for a bowl of ramen.

refill broth

This is my first attempt. I would like to do two things differently next time:

  1. Take the pig skin out after 3 minutes of boiling to cut into strips of pig noodles
  2. Freeze and strain the gelatinous broth through muslin cloth to create consomme – a very clear broth – to highlight the pig noodles better

reduced broth

The end result after 14 hours of boiling – very hearty and thick semi-liquid with a consistency more like lard than water. We both liked a small bowl but eating more than that would be quite a challenge due to the heavy stock.

slicing pig skin

This is quite soggy but ideally the pig skin should just be soft enough to slice though…

sliced pig noodles

…and retain a very al dente texture!

pig noodles carb

My better half managed to eat her bowl though. I did hers with some rice vermicelli to provide some carbohydrates – the pig skin noodle is the protein in this dish!

pig skin noodle ramen

The stock is simply poured out after layering the pig skin noodles in a bowl. I also did some decorating with edible flowers – not just for aesthetics but to provide a refreshing crunch and a (semi) balanced meal. smirk

pig skin noodles

Mine was a pure pork skin noodle made out of pig skin ramen with broth from the chicken and swine stock. It was a fun and interesting cooking experiment that I’ll like to try again with consomme and a quail egg! :)

Cooking Braised Belgium Endives

braised belgium endives

I’ve never seen Belgium endives in Malaysia until recently. The Belgium endive is a dish I first sampled in Latvia during my second Europe backpacking trip two years ago. It didn’t look like much to me but I was told it’s good (couldn’t read anything coz Latvia doesn’t use a lot of English) so I ate it. It tasted better than it looks.

belgium endives

I was out shopping with my better half when I came across this bitter vegetable. Yes, this is one of those really bitter leafy greens but it becomes less so when cooked properly. Some people use sugar in their recipe but I decided to recreate the dish without that at home.

browning belgium endives

I bought a couple of packs of Belgium endives – enough for two people. Belgium endives retails for RM 29.90 per kg so it cost me RM 18 just for 500 grams of the vegetable. It’s quite easy to prepare – the traditional recipe for braised Belgium endives uses just a few ingredients you can find in any kitchen but takes a looong time to cook.

It’s supposed to be slow cooked and that’s how I did it – took me *two hours* to braise the Belgium endives.

sliced belgium endives

You will need:

  • Belgium endives
  • Butter (real butter, not margarine or any of that crap)
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice (from a real lemon)
  • Water

melting butter

I used about 3 heaped tablespoons of butter in my recipe. I had a stick of it and cut off a nice portion and melted it slowly. Be careful not to burn it! Use really low heat.

coring belgium endives

Meantime, prepare the Belgium endives by using a sharp knife to cut out a hard, fibrous core at it’s bottom. Once that’s out, you can proceed to slice it in half!

lemon

Brown the endives in the butter by putting it on a single layer with the cut side down and sprinkle salt and lemon juice over it.

belgium endive

Fill up the pan until the Belgium endives are 3/4 submerged in water and proceed to braise it at low heat.

braising endives

Remember to turn the endives over occasionally so both sides will be cooked! It’s done when the endives are tender and has absorbed *all* the water that was in the pan.

braised belgium endive

That’s all there is to it! I garnished it with some edible flowers since the dish looks a bit drab (and also coz the edible flowers provides a contrasting crisp texture to the soggy braised Belgium endives).

cooked belgium endive

It’s not the prettiest dish around but I highly recommend it if you haven’t tried it before. I gave some of it to my dear raw (it can be eaten in salads) and it’s very bitter and braising it will reduce that intensity. She did tell me it tasted bitter and slightly burnt. I prefer the term caramelized. smirk Braised Belgium endives should come out tender and buttery! :)

Think Blue. – National Challenge 2013 in Phileo Resort, Malacca!

think blue philea

I was down in Malacca over the weekend for the Think Blue. – National Challenge 2013. This is the culmination of the push for sustainability and eco-awareness that had 30 finalists nationwide competing against each other to win the title of Malaysia’s most fuel efficient driver.

philea

Philea Resort is an ideal setting for the Think Blue. – National Challenge 2013. It’s an eco-resort located close to Malaccca. I’ve stayed here before earlier this year as a surprise my better half gave me. Its wooden chalets and sustainable living concepts are perfectly in sync with Volkswagen’s Think Blue. philosophy.

indoor stations

There are five tests in total for the first ever Think Blue. – National Challenge – three of the stations are indoors and and the remaining two of them outdoor driving challenge.

Station 1 was a quiz which had participants answering questions based on a booklet given during the journey here.

test 2

There is also a physical puzzle where finalists arrange cubes to the 9 tips for better fuel consumption described in the Think Blue. booklet. This is a time based challenge totaling to 10 points.

ipad test

The iOS Think Blue. Challenge app which I’ve been playing quite a bit is also one of the tests! The iPad game at Station 3 is where the finalists had to play the Think Blue. driving challenge online. The objective is to chalk up the most distance using the least fuel! Extra fuel was given for those who answer the bonus round correctly. The better you do; the more points you have! 10 points.

driving orange

Station 4, an orange was placed in a bowl on the Polo Sedan which humorously alludes to the tofu scene in Initial-D for driving fans. This is a physical driving test which contributes 20 points of the total score. As this was also a time based challenge, a penalty of 2 seconds was imposed if the driver knocks over any orange cones. And if the orange (the fruit, not the traffic cone) falls out of the bowl, the driver will need to stop the car, pick up the orange and continue driving – while the time is still ticking!

stations

The final challenge, Station 5, is a 20 kilometre drive at the track with the seventh generation of the Golf 1.4 TSI. This is a fuel efficiency test where every one of the finalists will need to apply the fuel saving tips they learnt throughout the Challenge. This better you score on the fuel consumption, the more points you’ll get. 50 points.

backseat

I hopped into one of the cars for the last challenge – it’s obvious that the participant has already read all the fuel saving tips in the booklet. He didn’t use air-conditioning, the windows were up (to improve aerodynamics), he switched up to the highest gear and tried to keep it there, coasting on gradients and keeping the speedometer stable.

fuel consumption

The best performer got an amazing 3.7 litres per 100 kilometres of fuel in real time driving!

ivan

Ivan from the Events team and Dara from PR were there to guide us around.

food philea

I was watching some do better than the others while sipping artisan coffee brought in to the lobby. I must say that Volkswagen always have the best treatment during its events! I was lucky enough to go to Germany with them last year.

think blue bag

Coincidentally, this is also where the winner of the Think Blue. – National Challenge 2013 will be headed! It was a very close one as scores were tabulated and re-checked. The next morning, the winners were announced.

trophies

The prize-giving ceremony was held on three different level podiums – the 1st place is the lowest and the 3rd place highest, signifying the fuel consumption of the three winners. This is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the philosophy of Think Blue. – the holistic approach adopted by Volkswagen to foster environmentally compatible mobility and sustainable individual action.

winners

The “winner” is thus the person with the lowest fuel consumption. Ong Ling Kern narrowly defeated 29 other finalists (the runner up was 2 points behind – something he could have made up with one more correct question in the quiz) with Ong Wu Zhuan (no relation – who also got a Samsung S4 smartphone) and Chew Fun Sing (iPhone 5) bagging second and third place.

press con

Thus, as the first ever Malaysian Think Blue. – National Challenge 2013 champion, Ong Ling Kern is off to represent Malaysia on an international driving competition held at the Think Blue. World Championship 2013 in Germany from 6th-10th September.

malaysian think blue

Winners from all around the world will take part in the world championship by competing against each other in a drive from Wolfsburg to Frankfurt in Germany.

slalom

The world champion will be determined based on the lowest amount of fuel used to complete the distance.

orange

Imagine doing that on the Autobahn! I’d love to see them try every possible fuel saving technique. There are some which are proven “hypermiling” (a relatively new buzzword for energy efficient driving) techniques built-in to newer Volkswagen cars like the start/stop system which automatically stops the car engine at red lights.

test 4

The Think Blue. initiative by Volkswagen is constantly striving to combine environmental protection with cutting-edge automotive technologies to give drivers low-emission vehicles.

finalists

However, drivers also need to play a part in adopting eco-concious behavior both on and off the road and that’s what events like the weekend’s Think Blue. – National Challenge 2013 is set to promote!

blu monkey

Interesting fact: Blu, the Think Blue. mascot is a monkey designed in Malaysia and adopted byVolkswagen AG in Germany! :)

10 weird and wonderful things from last month

1. Kiwano (Horned Melon)

kiwano

This is a RM 15 fruit we found at the grocery. The kiwano is also called a horned melon. It’s about the size of a kiwi – quite expensive for its size – and you’re supposed to eat it like one. I’ve never seen it in any other import specialty grocers so we got one to share.

horned melon

The kiwano fruit has lots of segments inside with seeds coated with jelly-like fruit and it tastes like cucumbers!

kiwano seeds

One of the most interesting fruits I’ve had to pleasure to eat – it’s like a refreshing *explosion* of clean, thirst quenching flavors in your mouth!

2. Huge 5kg Nutella

nutella 5kg

I eat a lot of Nutella and when I saw this in Langkawi (was there a couple of weeks ago and bought quite a bit of duty free goods) I couldn’t resist buying it. It’s 5,000 grams worth of Nutella in a huge plastic iconic container for just RM 145!

nutella traveler edition

However, we decided we couldn’t lug that beast back and settled for the Traveler’s Edition of Nutella – which is made in Italy and not Australia!

3. Klonut

klonut

Yup, it’s a clone of the cronut. We actually had it way back in July at Dessert Storm. There was a RM 7 promo with three flavors – Peanut Butter and Caramel Klonut, Kaya & Coconut Klonut and Boysenberry Jam and Chocolate Klonut.

dessert storm

It’s pretty good but it’s not the beautiful offspring of a croissant and a donut. The recipe for the pastry is slightly different here.

4. Chocolate coated Oreos

oreo travelers edition

This is a travel exclusive that we opened up last month. It’s only sold in airports (and such places) and it’s basically an Oreo covered in chocolate!

chocolate covered oreos

It’s made in Spain and delicious! I wish I had this when I did my own battered and deep fried Mars and other candy bars.

5. Snickers Ice Cream

snickers ice cream

Got a pint of Snickers Ice Cream (from France) and finished it on the same day while watching movies at home. A pint isn’t really enough for us, and thus over the weekend…

6. 31% off hand packed Baskin Robbins ice cream

br 31

I got two pints during the weekend coz we eat a lot of ice cream. My better half chose Chocolate Mousse Royale and I chose Sweet & Salty. I don’t know what happened but the batch that day didn’t have *any* salty pretzel pieces (which is why I like the flavor).

baskin robbins

There’s only caramel in the ice cream – probably coz the outlet topped the newly opened box with some leftovers (which was also contaminated with the neighbouring Blueberry Pabba Cotta). I should have asked the servers to just get me the ones from the new box instead of that but they were too busy – the 31% discount days always seems to be a hectic mess for the staff.

7. Cognac filled chocolate sticks

chocolate cognac

I bought this during our trip to Langkawi. I thought it was rather expensive at RM 34.50 for 15 chocolate sticks. This GOLDKENN product is certainly priced higher than the usual Anthon Berg bottle-shaped liquor chocolates…

cognac sticks

…but it tastes absolutely fabulous! The cocoa dusted chocolate sticks were filled with tangible cognac and it’s well worth the RM 2+ per bite price…and that’s duty free prices! :)

8. Absolut Hibiskus

absolut unique

I also got this really awesome and cool looking Absolut Unique display plaque. I’ve seen the Absolut Unique bottles around for a while now – each time I travel, I saw quite a lot of different bottles with different serial numbers…and now I have a unique mounted one!

absolut hibiskus

I also got a bottle of Absolut Hibiskus – it’s the first floral flavored vodka and it was launched in conjunction with Merdeka (Independence Day). The hibiscus is our national flower, geddit? :D

It tastes good – am planning to make some cocktails with these, aptly with edible flowers (which you’re going to hear and see a lot more of).

9. Self-heating soup can

hot soup

We had this for dinner last night! I got this earlier this year during one of our grocery shopping trips. I think there was a promotion for RM 14 for two cans. Each “can” of soup is the same size and shape as a regular soda can!

self heating soup

The interesting bit about this is the self-heating part – there’s chemicals at the bottom of the can which heats the can when pressed and activated. You have to shake it for 30 seconds and steam actually comes out of the unopened can (along with a distasteful chemical smell).

heating soup

There’s a strip of indicator on the side which *changes color* according to temperature and you just open the can like a regular soft drink and drink it when it cools down. I thought it’s quite cool, just like the MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat – a military food rations kit) I got when I was in the Boy’s Brigade. Haha!

10. Pig teats

pig teats

Yup, those are exactly what it looks like! It just came in a package for a super awesome secret cooking project that I did over the weekend!

pig nipples

It’s going to be…er, revealed next week! :D

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