Macaroni and cheese 🧀, BBQ chicken drumsticks 🍗, broccoli 🥦

I’ve recently refined my mac and cheese recipe to product a thick, gooey sauce that sticks to each macaroni piece like delicious glue. My cheese sauce not only has cheddar, but also chicken stock, fish sauce, Shaoxing wine and sucralose, so it packs a real punch. I would not be remiss to say that anyone who’s tasted this is instantly transported to FlavorTown. Since then, I’ve worked more on the sides to find out the best pairing for this decadent treat.

This time I’m testing out fried chicken drumsticks with BBQ sauce as the side. I never bought cooking oil until my housemate Mandy moved in. I finally caved and purchased a small bottle of corn oil since not everyone likes the healthy no-oil taste. I poured in a measure and fried a couple of chicken drumsticks inside. I use a Happy Call Pan – a type of flappable pressure pan. It browns the skin and cooks the interior very well.

I served my mac and cheese with plain, unseasoned prawns the last round and I wanted to experiment with a heavier flavor profile this time. I tossed the cooked and rested fried chicken legs in some hickory smoke BBQ sauce. I really liked how well this tasted but unfortunately Mandy isn’t a fan of BBQ sauce. I had to wipe away the sauce for her portions of the drums.

The secret to my cheese sauce is flour. A lot of people omit this step but it’s essential to making a thick cheese sauce. You first melt butter in a saucepan then stir in the flour slowly to make a roux. Milk or cream is added next, stirring all the time so it combines well. I also add Shaoxing wine, fish sauce and chicken stock at this point. Cheese is added last and as soon as it melts, you pour the entire saucepan over the cooked macaroni.

I also had a side of broccoli to cut down on the heavy flavors. It’s simply microwaved with a bit of water so it’s still crunchy – the way Mandy likes it. It’s delicious! I like how the BBQ chicken drums go together with the creamy mac and cheese. Mac and cheese is another recipe that I’ve mastered and I can say with confidence tastes good.

Don’t you think so, Chika cat?

Tonight’s Menu: Two types of fried fish 🐠 with Thai chilli sauce 🌶, Broccoli 🥦 with oyster sauce, Crispy duck egg 🦆

I sometimes (not often) get the motivation to cook something other than my usual chicken rice – buffalo stew meal prep. Yesterday was such a day. I was driving my housemate Mandy to her workplace when we saw a morning market. I seldom wake up early enough for these things and she wanted to eat fish so I went to check out their offerings.

I got ikan bulus – a tubular type of white fish which is delicious when fried and a small broccoli. She wanted the small, flat kind of white pompfret but all the stalls there didn’t sell it. I managed to get some from the Jaya Grocer under my condo though.

I remember why I don’t cook fish often – it’s troublesome to remove the guts and descale the fish. I also don’t like how the scales fly everywhere and get my cat all excited. She’ll pounce and pat the scales and distribute them to the furthest corners of the kitchen, necessitating a good mop after.

I didn’t do much to the ikan bulus and small pompfret – just salted them liberally and fried them in hot oil. I bought a small bottle of maize oil cooking oil for this occasion. I don’t use oil in my regular cooking. I even skim off the buffalo fat the next day!

I also scalded the broccoli and pan-fried it with oyster sauce. If you’re wondering where the stem of the broccoli went, I blended it with cold water and drank it. I consume a lot of raw vegetables each night as a source of fiber and nutrients.

The fish kemek (lost structural integrity) during the frying process. I’m not sure what went wrong. It just started disintegrating. Maybe I should have battered it with tapioca starch so it’ll maintain its form. It still tastes good though. Half of the fish is ikan bulus and half is small white pomfret, served with Thai chilli sauce.

I also fried two duck eggs with a crispy bottom a la Chinese style. I’ve been buying duck eggs instead of chicken eggs lately coz I prefer the creamier yolk. It’s about 50% more expensive than chicken eggs but worth it.

This is the broccoli pan-fried with oyster sauce as a source of greens. I cooked fresh basmati rice to go with dinner and I also served my tom yam buffalo stew with beer.

It was almost 10 pm when I finished cooking. It tasted pretty good despite the simple execution. The fish was really fresh!

Cooking my own Thipsamai branded Pad Thai (Bib Gourmand)

Thipsamai

Thipsamai is a Bangkok institution that serves up pad thai in a huge multi-room sprawling empire in Pratuphee. There is a long queue snaking out the front every single night. The army of chefs work fast though so the line moves relatively quickly. They’ve recently been honored in the Michelin Bib Gourmand listings and I decided to check them out after my visit to Raan Jay Fai.

Thipsamai-Bangkok

I had eaten at Elvis Suki, Raan Jay Fai and Tongue Fun ice cream in the past 3 hours so I was quite full. Fortunately, Thipsamai has a gift shop inside their restaurant that carries complete, ready-to-cook versions of their famous pad thai! Enterprising bastards! I decided to forgo eating there and get some packs to bring home instead. I also bought one of their branded plates and glasses so I could replicate the meal at home. At least, that’s what I told myself but I really wanted souvenirs too.

Pad-Thai

For my first attempt, I armed myself with large prawns (can’t have pad thai without shrimp), roasted peanuts (which I crushed), spring onions, firm tofu, egg and butter. I used the regular green version (the red one has shrimp oil). The packaging said to fry the dry pad thai noodles in oil till soft before mixing the sauce packet with an equal amount of water and pouring it in.

HB-Chopping

I thought it was a bit unusual to fry dehydrated noodles with butter without rehydrating them first but it works!

HB-Cooking

Here’s another photo of me doing domestic things while wearing a stringer that shows off my muscles for your viewing pleasure.

Maha-Nakhon

I paired it with a Maha Nakhon bottled beer I painstakingly brought back from Bangkok. This was the only one that survived. Another Cheers can exploded in mid-air from the air pressure differential and soaked all my packed clothes. The pad thai was decent but I felt like it could be improved.

Pad-Thai-Cooking

Thus, I refined my processes during my second try a week later. I used the red Thipsamai pad thai box with shrimp oil this time. I also bought bean sprouts (which I forgot the first time around) and Thai bird eye chillis. I fried the eggs first in a separate frying pan and made a flat omelet that I sliced into strips before adding it during the final stir. I also cracked in a raw egg to help things bind together.

Pad-Thai-Thipsamai

I threw in half of the bean sprouts, omelet, Thai chilli and spring onions and used the other half as a raw garnish so it remains crunchy. I also had a squeeze of lime and crushed peanuts as a topping. This version is insanely delicious! I love the combination of sweet notes from the peanuts and butter, the salty overtones from the pad thai sauce, the raw elements in the bean sprouts and spring onions, followed by a nice kick from the Thai chillies. I’ll rate it 10/10 if I’m allowed to rate my own cooking.

Thipsamai-Pad-Thai

I respect how Thipsamai pad thai leverages on their success by selling branded food and souvenirs. I’m all about resourceful minds and I enjoy food related souvenirs. That’s the only type of souvenir I buy. I got one of their vintage fridge magnets to put on my fridge and their Thipsamai plate and glass (same as the ones they use in-house) has been one of my favorite crockery for plating. I’ll be sure to revisit when I’m in Bangkok again to see how my own take on their ready-to-cook pad thai compares with the restaurant version.

Merryn’s Ayam Pongteh

Pounder

I am currently experimenting with different recipes to make my meal prep taste better and I have found a winner. This is the reigning champion – my current favorite! Ayam pongteh is a Nyonya dish made with taucu (fermented soy beans). It has a very distinctive taste that I like. I used the base recipe from Merryn and modified it according to my taste buds. This is for 8 portions:

  • 2.5 kg chicken legs
  • 0.5 kg chicken breast
  • 6 shallots
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup taucu
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp palm sugar
  • Potatoes
  • 6 cups water

Fry Garlic

I had to get a pounder for this. You need to slice the garlic and shallots into manageable pieces and pound it to extract the flavor and increase the surface area of the aromatics. You also need a medium to fry them in.

Taucu

I used the chicken skin from the breast meat – you can get a small amount of grease from it. The original recipe has oil but I’m cutting down on excess calories so mine just uses a minimal amount which is skimmed out of the gravy later. You need some agent to fry the minced garlic and shallots.

Pongteh Paste

Next you add in the taucu, light + dark soy, and palm sugar. You might need to break it up into smaller pieces first if it comes in block form. You fry this entire mixture for 30 seconds or so until it forms a sticky paste. You can literally see it bind and bubble up when that happens.

Chicken Arrange

Next I arrange the chicken legs into my rice cooker (you can use a pot, I just don’t have one big enough) with the potatoes on top and pour in the mixture. Add in 6 cups of water and you’re set!

Chicken Pongteh

I didn’t put in the breast meat coz I don’t want to overcook them. I wait until the chicken leg is done cooking (up to your standards when that happens) and take them out before dunking in the breast part into the gravy. I don’t cook my chicken breast long since it goes through a reheating process which dries it up if overcooked. I usually just leave it in for a minute or two and finish up in the microwave when I eat it.

Ayam Pongteh

This is really delicious! I’m a huge fan of it and I can’t wait to prepare it again coz I was the happiest guy eating this compared to other meal preps. My next prep will be chicken curry, let’s see if that can topple this one as my favorite meal! I suspect not coz I like sweet gravy in my meals. I made a lot for this but stored it separately, to add to the containers when I heat it up.

Soy Chicken with Basmati Rice and Broccoli

Soy Chicken

I’ve always been a huge fan of soy chicken. It’s one of my favorite dishes at the chap fan place. I Googled the recipe for this and settled for one which I thought sounded good. I had all the stuff I needed at home, except for sugar and Shaoxing wine. I’ve completely cut out added sugars from my diet and I never needed Chinese cooking wine. However, I know people put those two in good soy chicken so I used that recipe.

Shaoxing Wine

I’m aiming to eat 204 grams of protein per day so one portion for me is 1 chicken leg + ½ chicken breast. I got 2 kg of chicken legs and there were only 7 inside so one portion is 1 ½ chicken breast only. I marinated the 2 kg of chicken legs and 4 chicken breasts in my huge rice cooker. I knew it was a good idea to get it coz I’m going to use my rice cooker to cook everything too! I don’t have a pot large enough to cook everything at once.

  • 2 kg chicken legs
  • 4 chicken breasts (halved)
  • 1 cup light soy sauce
  • ½ cup dark soy sauce
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup Shaoxing wine
  • 1 cup water
  • Coriander (snipped into small pieces)
  • Garlic (to taste)

(makes 8 portions)

Soy Chicken Marinate

I just chucked everything into the rice cooker and let it sit for 1 hour before turning on the power. This, in hindsight, was a mistake. It takes so much longer to cook chicken legs compared to chicken breasts. I should have cooked the legs first and then added the breasts at the very end. As it turned out, the chicken legs were undercooked and the breasts were overcooked. However, I think if you chop up the chicken legs, they’ll cook around the same time.

Lu Jek

It did taste good though. I would even say it’s delicious! This has topped my favorite meal prep recipe, slightly higher than chicken rice. I kept the sauce separately in the fridge so I can add a spoonful of the soy sauce jelly to the hot microwaved rice. It cools down the rice perfectly so it’s ready to eat instantly.

Soy Chicken Sauce

The collagen in the chicken also allows the gravy to solidify into a bottom layer of jelly and a top layer of fat which makes it easy to skim off the hardened fat after it’s cooled down in the fridge. I pair 1 chicken leg and ½ breast with Basmati rice and broccoli for an awesome meal.

Basmati Chicken Rice in a Rice Cooker

Rice Cooker

I have had the craving for chicken rice for a week now but I had to finish my meal prep before I can cook a new batch of food. I also didn’t have a rice cooker. I needed a big one coz this recipe chucks everything – rice, chicken etc into the pot at once. I dropped by Citta Mall yesterday and picked up a large 2.8 liter rice cooker for just RM 146. Good price.

Chicken Rice Ingredients

You need:

  • Chicken leg (drum and thighs)
  • Basmati rice (you can use any rice but I only have basmati)
  • Chicken stock
  • Spring onions
  • Coriander
  • Ginger

Chicken Rice Pot

I also bought some side greens coz I want to consume enough fiber. It’s optional. Some people like to eat this with a garlic chilli mixture but I’m particular to the sweet dark soy sauce from Indonesia so I got that inside. The prep is really easy, just wash the rice, put it into the rice cooker as if you’re cooking rice. Next, salt the water and dissolve in a few chicken stock cubes. Spread the ginger slices all over the rice. Finally layer the chicken on top and put a few stalks of spring onions to add an aromatic note to the rice.

Chicken Rice Cooker

Press the rice cooker button and the whole thing will be done as soon as the rice finishes cooking. I usually eat skinless chicken breast but the chicken rice gets most of its flavor from chicken skin so I feel that using chicken leg is better in this recipe, even though it’ll increase the fat content by quite a bit. Some people also put a bit of sugar into the water but I don’t have any at home. I’ve quit eating sugar for almost a year now.

Chicken Rice

It’s actually very delicious, yet simple to cook. I’m very fond of Hainanese style chicken rice though, so your mileage may vary. 1.8 kg of chicken leg makes 7 portions, each with a drum and thigh each. I’m not sure of the macros on these things though. I’m on clenbuterol right now so I can afford to be a bit fast and loose with my food intake, at least till I cycle off at the end of the week.

Stir Fried Marmite Mushrooms Recipe

Marmite

I’ve been trying to eat healthy since I’ve started hitting the gym regularly. I go six days a week (1 rest day) and I’ve been getting really good results that I want to start off this post with a shot of my back. Haha! I’ve been working those shoulders and lower back for 3 months and it’s starting to look pretty sweet, if I say so myself.

Back

Anyway, one thing I’ve been eating a lot of lately are mushrooms. Why mushrooms? Well, mushrooms are the best food for dieters! 100 grams contains only 22 calories! It’s has a lot of important nutrients and it’s relatively high in fiber so it’ll fill you up. This is my recipe for stir-fried Marmite mushrooms!

You will need:

1. Assorted fresh mushrooms
2. Marmite
3. Coriander
4. Butter and garlic

I got a mixture of enoki, brown, button and Portobello mushrooms but any fresh mushrooms would do. Slice up some and leave some whole – this is mostly for texture when you eat it, you don’t want everything to have the same shape and texture in a dish.

Garlic

Next, chop up some garlic. You need garlic for most dishes. Fry the garlic with a little bit of butter until slightly brown.

Cooking

Add the mushrooms into the pan.

Mushrooms

Add 1 teaspoon of Marmite. A little goes a long way here.

Mushies

You want to stir fry them until they’re soft and bleed out a little water.

Coriander

Cut the end (stem) of the coriander into small 1/2 inch sections and add to the mushrooms when almost done. This will add a lot of taste and the cooking process will soften the usually tougher stems so it’s easier to eat.

Stir Fried Marmite Mushrooms

Garnish with the leaves of the coriander and serve hot. I love eating this coz it’s delicious and the Marmite contains Vitamin B and folic acid so I’m getting a lot of nutrients while at it. I’m also trying to cut sodium from my diet so by adding Marmite, I can cut out salt and it still tastes good! I’m cutting weight now so I have this meal in addition to 1 whole rotisserie chicken (for protein) most days. Try it out, you’ll be surprised such a simple dish can taste so good!

Do check out their Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/marmitemalaysia/
I saw some really good recipes up there perfect for CNY.

Lobster ravioli with whole American lobster

Lobster ravioli with whole American lobster

This is what we cooked up for last night’s dinner. It looks real good eh? That’s a whole boiled Maine lobster (which is technically called an American lobster) served with lobster ravioli in brown butter sauce.

Boston Lobster

I wish I could say that I cooked the lobster and it originally came like this.

It did not.

Atlantis Lobster

The lobster came like this. smirk

Haha! It’s a whole cooked American lobster packaged by the huge Atlantis-IMF conglomerate. It came from the US and it’s frozen. The entire lobster cost RM 49.50. I hear that lobsters are getting cheaper nowadays coz the sea temperatures are rising, which makes the crustaceans hatch earlier and grow faster. Also, the overfishing of cod in the Atlantic means there are fewer natural predators to eat baby lobsters.

American Lobster

That means you can get lobsters at a pretty decent price nowadays, which explains why large F&B chains can offer it at RM 50 or so for a whole lobster, dine-in. That’s where the first lobster photo came from.

Three Bridges Lobster Ravioli

The ravioli is also store-bought. It’s made by Three Bridges and comes in a 9 oz (255 gram) pack. It’s just RM 34, made in California and described as 100% natural with “wild caught, North Atlantic lobster with creamy ricotta and vine-ripened tomatoes”.

You just need to boil it for 5 minutes.

Brown Butter Sauce

The only thing I made is the brown butter sauce, with lots of French origin butter and Himalayan pink salt.

Lobster Ravioli

There’s something to be said about just cooking something easy during a weekend. This seems to be a popular brand of lobster ravioli too, there was a lone Caucasian woman who took a few packs, presumably to eat something familiar at home. It tasted yummy though, both of us enjoyed the meal tremendously.

Boodle Feast – A Boodle Fight Meal!

Boodle Feast

This is the Boodle Feast that we had earlier this week. I had no idea what a “Boodle Fight” was until I saw photos of a previous one. It’s a tradition from the Philippines where you eat with your hands from a communal mound of rice surrounded with meat and seafood on a bed of banana leaves.

Boodle Fight

This seems to originate from the Philippine Military Academy, where they call it a Boodle Fight.

Boodle Sibu

My bro Eddy took the time to make this happen. It’s a good thing his wife is Pinoy (and cooks really well) and the 9 of us sat down to this unique dining experience at his home.

Grilled Meat

The meat is primarily grilled using the BBQ. Jona has been working the grill the entire day to prepare this dinner.

Toli Shad

There was the delicious ikan terubok (toli shad) – a popular local fish which is currently only available from several spots in Sarawak.

Ikan Terubok

This is what the fish looks like before cooking. It has been salted although it’s not salted fish per se. It’s a strange hybrid I’ve grown to love.

Banana Leaves

The banana leaves were laid down to cover two tables – first a bed of smaller leaves and then the full green luscious ones were put on top as the eating surface.

Making Boodle Fight

There are no plates or spoons – you use your hands for the Boodle Feast.

Layering Boodle Feast

It was a lot of food!

Boodle Preparation

There are three kinds of eggs – salted duck eggs were mixed into the rice together with boiled quail eggs and halved chicken eggs on the side.

Rice Mound Boodle

Pork chops, barbequed beef, mutton, chicken, fish and sausages represented the protein while cucumbers, okra and tomatoes provides a palate cleanser of sorts.

Boodle

I thought the tomatoes were brilliant as it gives a burst of citrus like tang, which prevents an overload from the massive amounts of meat.

Boodle Feast Us

You basically take a portion of rice from the middle to your own eating spot on the banana leaf and start eating.

Boodle Table

Hands are utilized for everything and it made for a really unique and interesting no-cutlery-allowed eating experience. I ate so much from the boodle feast I felt like bursting!

Ikan Terubok (toli shad/Chinese herring), bitter gourd fritters, otak-otak sausage and other delights @ Eddy’s dinner

Dinner Spread

Eddy is my brother, not by something as accidental as blood, but something much stronger – by choice. He’s always been a solid friend ever since I met him in 2008. He’s usually the one picking me up when I fly back to Sibu and this time was no exception. His wife Jona is a great cook and I went over for dinner the other day.

Fried salted ikan terubok (toli shad)

Terubok Fish

This is ikan terubok (also known as toli shad or Chinese herring). It’s a very popular fish in Sarawak. Toli shad is only available here and there are two varieties – the fresh ones and the dried + salted version. You can see the distinctive pattern here coz the scales are not removed (!!!).

Ikan Terubok

You actually deep fry the entire fish and it comes out very crunchy so you can eat the scales and bones. I thought that was very intriguing – I’ve never had it this way before and wanted to get some for my better half to try. It’s sooooo delicious. You can only get this fish in Kuching though.

Meatball soup

Meatball Soup

I didn’t eat this until after I finished all my rice coz I didn’t grow up with soup so it’s not essential to my diet. I know some cultures like Foochow and Cantonese which accords soup a very important (even essential) place on the dinner table. I found the soup to be very flavorful from the meatballs and the texture of the soft vegetables (from boiling) to be quite heartening.

Stewed pig stomach

Stewed Pig Stomach

This is not for the picky eater but I love it. The hog maw is from Golden Happiness Restaurant. I’ve eaten the same dish before during Chinese New Year and they do it really well. It’s a mixture of organs – pig tail, pig ears, and duck.

Steamed vegetables

Steamed Vegetables

This is the healthiest item for the night. Eddy has two Indonesian maids and he treats them really well. We all eat together during buka puasa (the breaking of fast during the month of Ramadan for them, who are Muslims).

Otak-otak sausage

Otak-Otak Sausage

This is something new for me as well. I was quite hungry when I woke up (fell asleep at his place coz I’ve been working late nights during this trip) and had one of the otak-otak sausages before dinner. It’s very spicy and really tastes like otak-otak, although it’s not made of fish. I’m not sure what kind of protein is inside, let’s just say it’s a lip-smacking package of mystery meat in tube form. smirk

Onion omelet

Onion Omelet

A comfort food that most people has grown up with. It’s large Bombay onions chopped and fried with eggs. The sweetness from the onions make this a very familiar and welcome addition to the meal.

Pan-fried lamb chops

Pan-Fried Lamb Chops

I love lamb chops. My mom used to cook them for us when we she was still alive and all of our family like the taste of lamb. I’m particularly fond of unrendered lamb fat – it’s strong tasting and gamey to a lot of people but these very characteristics are the same reason I love the fatty parts.

Bitter gourd fritters

Bitter Gourd Fritters

Bitter gourd chips! This is thinly sliced bitter gourd that’s been battered and fried. It’s crunchy and slightly bitter – pure awesome! I’ve also never had it this way, that’s why I always like eating at Eddy’s house. Jona always comes out with food that I don’t eat often (or at all) so it’s a pleasure to sample these new dishes.

Group Photo

It was a delightful dinner. I’ve always enjoyed eating at Eddy’s place due to the splendid cooking. I tend to overeat and stuff myself but it’s worth it, coz I hardly ever eat here unless I’m back home. There’s always something interesting on the table and the fare is better than most restaurants out there.



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