Pig blood curd

pork blood

I was pleased to find pork blood during lunch and I went back again yesterday to get some more of it. There’s good pig blood curd and bad ones and it’s all in the making of this delicacy. There’s a lot of criteria which we go through to pronounce a piece of pig blood curd “good” – texture, taste and mouth-feel.

This one has a firm texture with a hint of iron that tells your brain it’s eating blood and it doesn’t completely dissolve once you chomp down on it. I don’t like excessively mushy pork blood and this one is soft and smooth yet retains a certain firmness – perfect!

I found out that pig blood curd originates from blood rice pudding (a similar preparation to blood pudding/black pudding in the UK) and was initially made with duck! There’s an article in Wikipedia that states that early Chinese villagers turned to chicken as a source of blood due to the high price of duck but it was unable to coagulate so they used pigs instead.

That’s not true as we’ve had awesome chicken blood curd in Thailand – which reminds me, I haven’t blogged about the meal, I was just talking to my better half about the street food stall the other day. smirk

3 uniquely Sibu dishes

I’m back in my hometown, eating delicious food you can really only get here – at least, if you want the authentic stuff! :)

1. Char Kueh Tiaw Omelet

CKT omelet

Yeah, that’s what I’m calling it! It has been around for over 40 years (no kidding) and this particular way of cooking it is a Sibu institution. I first ate it as a kid in Kwok Ching Coffee Shop (now defunct) and this is the son carrying on the legacy, cooking it the exact same way.

How do you get char kueh tiaw into an omelet? The CKT is cooked first and even though it’s a simple dish – spring onion and bean sprouts are the only ingredients – it tastes superb in its simplicity.

kueh tiaw omelet

The CKT is dropped on a cracked egg on a hot wok, flipped and served. This technique has been copied by many other cooks in Sibu but there is only one heir of the original and he does it best! This stall is located at Aloha Cafe and it’s only RM 3.30.

2. Twice Cooked Tapah Fish Noodles

foochow fish noodles

There are RM 35 bowls of this stuff out there. I had that with my better half when we came back last time at Min Kwong. I can’t justify eating that all the time so this is an equally good (if not better) version from Y2K Cafe. It’s RM 12 and is cooked in the traditional Foochow style – the noodles are first *fried* before being *stewed* in a hearty soup.

tapah fish

That means you get both the Maillard reaction and caramelization on the noodles from frying in the fiery hot wok, making it taste wonderful, before it’s softened in the rich seafood broth. Infinitely satisfying, and a local classic. You can drink the wonderfully tasty soup after you’ve finished your noodles too – it’s full of flavor!

3. Kampua Mee with Pork Tripe and Pig Liver Soup

kampua noodles

Yup, this is our famous kampua noodles. I always like to add a bowl of pig liver soup to my order (RM 4) coz it makes the noodles taste even better with that rich, mineral-y taste that liver has. I also like pork tripe soup (RM 5) coz of the chewy texture and the acidic dipping sauce it comes in.

pork liver soup

It’s a perfect side dish(es) for kampua noodles – the offal works very well with the slices of BBQ pork in the noodle dish and I always love drinking the soup after I’m done – alternating between the clear pork tripe soup and the dark iron-y pig liver soup with tendrils of liver. It’s always the *first* thing I eat when I come back and this one was at Yum Yum Cafe.

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! :)

Chicharon (deep fried pork rinds) in Philippines

pork chicharon

Chicharon is pork crackling or deep fried pork rinds in Tagalog. I got this pack in Manila for 30 Philippine pesos (about RM 2). This is sold as a snack in ’90s style popcorn packaging. Well, at least popcorn was packaged that way in my hometown of Sibu at that time and sold in bakeries (!!!).

The price for chicharon can range from 10 PHP to either side, depending on the brand. Also, the price can change from vendor to vendor for the same thing depending on how much they reckon they can rip you off for. The different brands mostly looks the same, with the manufacturer slipping in a small paper insert to differentiate their products.

chicharon

This one is called Angelo Special Pork Chicharon and comes with a smiling pig, very much oblivious to what he’s about to become by the looks of it. smirk

You can see that it’s slightly wet – the street vendors in Manila will offer to open and douse the packet of chicharon generously with vinegar from a dodgy recycled bottle with a hole at the top. It’s apparently the local way to eat it. I found it quite nice but there’s only so much pork crackling you can eat before you get sick of it.

7fresh

7-Eleven in the Philippines also sells a microwavable chicharon under their 7Fresh store brand. The price is heavily inflated but you can actually bring it back home – I brought back 2 packs, one for my family and one for a friend of mine. I think some people actually do eat it like popcorn!

The fresh ones packaged like the one I had in Manila doesn’t keep too long though – it’ll start to become stale after a couple of hours. You can usually find it where they sell balut. It’s quite tasty though but very, very oily, so if you don’t adore pork, this is probably not for you. :)

Santouka Hokkaido Ramen @ Tokyo Street Pavilion

santouka ramen pavilion

I headed down to Santouka Hokkaido Ramen in Tokyo Street at Pavilion a couple of days ago to check out their acclaimed premium pork cheek and ramen goodness.

santouka ramen

Santouka Ramen is an actual franchise from Hokkaido in Japan and I heard a lot of interesting anecdotes about it from Julian and Inggrid.

roasted premium pork cheek

Roasted Premium Pork Cheek (RM 17)
This came heated in a ceramic mesh. Santouka Ramen also has the same treatment for char siu but I found the pork cheek to be slightly better. It still maintains its juiciness despite the thin slices and the tender pork cheek comes encrusted in charcoal goodness.

santouka roasted pork cheek

Next up came the parade of the different ramen they have:

shio ramen

Shio Ramen
This is translated as “salt” although it is best described as the original taste of the pork infused ramen base. It’s my favorite, hands down. It comes with a small ume (plum) on top.

santouka gyoza
An side order of gyoza to go with your ramen.

Shoyu Ramen
This is the soy sauce version, which tastes pretty good if you like a bit of saltiness to your ramen. I still prefer the shio though.

Miso Ramen
Yup, you know what this is…it’s just like what you’ll expect – ramen in miso (fermented soybean) soup.

kara miso ramen

Kara-Miso Ramen
This adds a twist by adding a bit of spice into the miso soup. It’s quite interesting but can be overwhelming to the palate if you’re looking for more subdued ramen bases.

Each of the ramen bowls comes with char siew and a sprinkling of sesame seeds – the number of slices and amount of noodles differ according to the size you’re ordering. The prices are RM 22.50 (Small), RM 25 (Regular) and RM 29 (Large) except for Kara-Miso Ramen which runs slightly higher (add RM 2).

premium pork cheek ramen

I highly recommend you order Santouka Ramen’s specialty – Tokusen Toriniku Ramen. That’s Premium Pork Cheek Ramen and they only have a limited quantity per day since you can only harvest about 200 to 300 grams of pork cheek per pig.

premium pork cheek

The Premium Pork Cheek Ramen (RM 36 for Regular) comes with a side of tender and decadently fatty pork cheeks slices. It’s different from the roasted premium pork cheeks and I found that I enjoyed this one more. The pork cheek slices goes well with the ramen and absorbs the flavors of the ramen base perfectly.

komi tamago

Don’t forget an order of their famous Komi Tamago (Flavored Boiled Egg – RM 2). This decadent slice of heaven is a boiled egg that has a semi-runny yolk. The flavor and texture is orgasmic and you have to order at least one or two to go with your ramen. Guaranteed satisfaction for all egg fans.

santouka us

Thanks for the lunch! I will definitely be going back for the melt-in-your-mouth pork cheek, shio ramen and komi tamago (the breakfast of champions).

Interesting facts:

  • The broth gets tested every single day coz the amount of fat per pig is different
  • The ramen at Santouka Ramen is “al dente” coz that’s the way it’s supposed to be in Japan
  • The komi tamago had more than 50% wastage when they first started making it
  • Santouka Ramen actually had the owner and chef from Japan come over to ensure quality control
  • The chopsticks are even tested to make sure it doesn’t have a smell and grips the ramen properly
  • Each bowl of ramen is prepared individually
  • The char siew meat must face you when they serve the ramen
  • It started 23 years ago and Santouka Ramen has the same bowls and pretty much tastes the same all over the world

tori karaage
Tori Karaage – some good ol’ fried chicken as the appetizer.

Santouka Ramen
Tokyo Street, Pavilion KL
Lot 6.24.03, Level 6, Pavilion,
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia.
Tel: +603 2143 8878

santouka food

——————————————————————————–
Want dessert? Head over to Suchan for some awesome cakes. I actually bought the previous offer from MilkADeal and the cakes are superb!

suchan
RM25 instead of RM48 for Award-winning 5″ x 5″ Cake at Suchan Bakery Specialty Cakes, Jalan Universiti. Choice of Tiramisu, Moist Chocolate Cake or Eggless Chocolate Cake [48% OFF]

Grab the offer while you can! :)
——————————————————————————–

Stewed pig’s tongue

cooking pig tongue

I figured a pig’s tongue would be rather long, considering the size of the greedy animal, but I was still surprised by the sheer length of it. It prompted me to do the Gene Simmons pose – reckon this pig’s tongue beats his anytime. ;)

pigs tongue

Well, since pig’s tongue is considered offal – it’s pretty cheap. I got it for RM 3.90 for the entire muscle. Tongue used to be a common food in England but they use ox tongue instead of our porcine friend. I don’t know how to cook it, but I figured I might as well give it a shot and see how it turns out.

slicing pig tongue

I have worked with pig’s heart (both sliced in soup and with the entire organ in pasta), pig’s tail and even pig’s ears (which is quite delicious but missing from my archives due to a catastrophic category mishap). I’m not quite sure what to do with pig’s tongue but that’s never stopped me before. Heh!

pig tongue

I settled on slicing up the muscle into bite sized pieces after it has been defrosted. Give it a tongue lashing. Discipline it with your knife! It’s all muscle so I decided to marinate it first before stewing it.

pigs tongue muscle

You will need:

  • Pig’s tongue
  • A sharp knife (seriously)
  • Soy sauce (dark and light)
  • McCormick’s Season-All Salt
  • McCormick’s Italian Herbs
  • Ground black pepper (coarse)

pig tongue marinated

I mixed everything into the sliced pig’s tongue and gently massaged the condiments into it. I don’t know if it makes a difference, I just felt like doing it. This is left for about 2 hours before the cooking process started.

frying pigs tongue

Stewing pig’s tongue is easy – you just need to dump the marinated muscle into a pan and cook it slowly on low heat. Whenever you see the gravy evaporating, just add more soy sauce. I left it for about an hour, turning it over once in a while. You can still see the papillae and taste buds of the pig on the tongue! Amazing!

stewed pigs tongue

The finished dish tasted rather good to be honest. It’s not as tender as I’ll like it to be, but I reckon that can be remedied by smashing it with a hammer (or using meat tenderizer). It has a nice texture to it – it’s yielding, but firm. The chewy stewed pig’s tongue goes very well with steamed rice.

…and besides, there’s just something about introducing another animal’s tongue to your own that’s very appealing in itself. :)

Bak kut teh fortified with pig’s heart

Bah Kut Teh Recipe #3: Bak kut teh soup with pig’s heart

pig heart

A proper bak kut teh dish MUST have pork in it. It doesn’t matter what cut of pork (or offal) but the oink must be in the soup at some point.

pigs heart

This is the third and final installment of a three-step cooking process with my bak kut teh recipe. The first one is Chik kut teh with oily chicken rice and the second is the simple Bak kut teh ramen with drumstick and egg.

pig heart blood

Here comes the final dish of the series (sorry for the delay) where the bak kut teh soup has been stewed through all those two recipes, absorbing all the tastes and flavors in the process. The soup is delicious. It’s orgasmic. It just needs:

pig heart vein

A bleeding heart! *cue “We have a bleeder!”

pig heart prep

Well, a pig’s heart anyway. These things are pretty cheap, you can get a whole pig’s heart for about RM 4. I’ve cooked with pig’s heart before and can attest to the taste and texture of this wonderful organ in the portfolio of porcine delights.

pig heart slices

Start by slicing the pig heart into manageable pieces…

bkt pig heart

…before dumping it into the soup. There’s a lot of clotted blood inside the poor pink animal’s heart and you might want to remove that or just cook it as clotted blood. It really doesn’t make much of a difference as long as you wash it first. :)

bak kut teh pig heart

Let the pig’s heart simmer for about 30 minutes and you’ll end your bak kut teh adventures on a high note. The broth is hearty and the pig’s heart is chewy and absorbs all the flavors, producing a delectable slice of <3.

Kung pow fish roe, squid and eel with pig tail omelet

kung pow seafood start

I hardly ever cook Chinese meals although I love eating tai chow as much as the next Oriental dude. The main reason for this is coz I don’t have a huge wok and a good ol’ fashioned flame for that elusive “wok hei” (literally wok heat – a reference to the caramelized texture of superheated food). 

kung pow style

I like kung pow (insert meat) so I decided to go back to my China roots and start cooking some Chinese food.

You will need: 

ingredients

Pig’s tail
Dried chillis
Fish roe
Squid
Eel
Kikkoman soy sauce
Lee Kum Kee Oyster sauce
Sunflower and canola oil
Eggs
Onions and garlic
Calamansi lime 

pig tail

Kung pow dishes are made with dried chillis, which obviously makes this an essential ingredient. Here’s a detailed (geddit? de-tailed) photo of the pig’s tail. 

fish roe squid eel

We started off by preparing all the seafood items. 

chopped seafood

Eel, those snake like creatures dwelling in the depths of the ocean (talking crap here) should be cut into bite-sized pieces. The squid has to be disemboweled and sliced into rings. You don’t really need to have a ring shaped apparatus – squid is hollow after preparation so just slice it and it’ll produce rings. Calamansi limes were squeezed over it to get rid of the distinct aquatic smell.

Fish roe. Mmm…full of cholestrol, but yet so delicious.

fry onions

My friend decided that this won’t taste very good with normal steamed rice – a point I vehemently disagree – so she added in some cooking oil and chopped garlic into the rice cooker. 

add rice

This is fried INSIDE the rice cooker BEFORE the rice was added in. 

fry rice

She then measured out the rice and started frying it with all the above before adding water and cooking it with several sauces lying around in my fridge. 

add sauce

Now, for the difficult part. Babe’s (not Babe Ruth, Babe the pig) pretty little pink tail has to be chopped up. 

pigs tail

This is more difficult than it sounds. I never knew those damn swine would have tendons/cartilage/whatever you call it as tough as this.

I attempted to do it with a serrated knife. Let me advice you that this is a Bad Idea (TM) and could lead to unfortunate incidents like Slicing Your Damn Finger Off (TM) as almost happened to this narrator. 

chop pig tail

I have a chopper which I forgot I had. Use a chopper instead. You’ll thank me.

Fucking pig’s tail. You almost cost me my index finger. *glares* 

frying pig tail

Anyway, add in the sliced onions and start frying Babe’s tail in extra virgin olive oil since he’s like a nice pig and all and even his tail deserves reverence.

It requires a Great Deal (TM) of frying which translates into 3212999 days in the standard measurements of time. I’m not kidding, it takes ages for the damn thing to cook. 

add eggs

After the piggy’s tail is all nice and cooked, crack six (6) eggs into the frying pan. Oh, before I forget, cooking posts are always meant for two. As in it should have a Serves: 2 on top if this were a proper cooking blog, which obviously it’s not. I just like to cook. 

cooking pig tail omelet

Put it on low heat until the pig’s tail omelet cooks to perfection. 

pig tail omelet

Now, let us concentrate on the seafood. Fry finely chopped garlic (a point I neglected to mention at the beginning – you should have chopped garlic. Heh!) and add in the dried chillis. 

cooking kung pow

You’re going to need a lot of oil for the kung pow fish roe, squid and eel so we got a Sunflower Canola bottle for this (Tesco store brand).

Cook on the highest heat your stove/heating element/whatever can manage (which isn’t very much for my ceramic one). Keep this going for a good 3 minutes or so and start adding in the seafood. Start with the squid (cooks slowest), quickly followed by the eel, and the egg roe at the very end (coz I like it kinda raw).

kung pow fish roe squid eel

Add in some oyster sauce and soy sauce and fry it as vigorously as you can for 10 minutes and then serve. 

flavored rice

The fluffy rice was nicely flavored and the pig’s tail omelet went well with the kung pow fish roe, squid and eel to subdue the spiciness of the dish. 

kung pow seafood end

Verdict: It was a good effort, but it wouldn’t beat even the crappiest tai chow’s kung pow offerings, due to the lack of wok hei (read beginning for definition).

Alfredo Organic Black Bean Noodles with Scallops and Whole Pig’s Heart

start

I’m back with a cooking post! Yes, one of the signature sixthseal.com cooking posts complete with lots of alcohol, dubious ingredients and a healthy dose of obscure references!

You will need:
Organic Black Bean Noodles
Pig’s heart (whole – available at the non-Halal section of your friendly local hypermarket)
Scallops
Grozette FORMAGGIO da Pasta powdered cheese
Leggo’s Alfredo Pasta Sauce
Grapeseed Oil
Tabasco sauce
MasterFoods Mixed herbs
Onions and garlic

ingredients

It’s a battle of premium vs. proletariat ingredients! The measly pack of scallops set me back a staggering RM 42.35 while the gargantuan whole pig’s heart retails at a very affordable RM 3.50.

pig heart

Let me clarify – this was supposed to be an angel hair pasta dish, but I forgot to get the pasta and thus we made do with this pack of organic black bean noodles. The texture is surprisingly similar and it looks the bit too. Heh!

drink

Okay, to start off, you’ll need to ingest some ethanol to get you into a righteous cooking mood. My tipple of choice is Absolut Vodka.

cpr

The Tell-Tale Heart. Hmph. I shall give you a heart massage, CPR style.

cook pig

How do you cook a pig’s heart? Beats me, I’ve never cooked one before. I decided to wrap it in aluminum foil and chuck it into a fan assisted oven for 10 minutes.

heart

It turns out that 10 minutes isn’t quite enough so I suggest 20 minutes instead. I also took the liberty of rubbing salt all over the pig’s heart for my version of marinating. Heh!

cooking scallops

Next comes the scallops – scallops are reasonably fast to cook after defrosting so I just dunked it in warm (not hot) water for about a minute before draining.

drain

With the major ingredients out of the way, let’s get to the all-important sauce!

chop

Leggo’s ready made sauces already has bits of meat and stuff inside but we decided to fry some onions and garlic and chopped some sausages into it for a heartier sauce.

stir

We used grapeseed oil instead of olive oil for the frying, no particular reason for the choice - it was just there. The sausages were seared for a bit before the entire container of alfredo sauce was emptied into the mixture.

simmer

Leave the sauce on (very) low heat and start cooking the noodles.

noodles cook

I put in salt and a dash of grapeseed oil in the boiling water, much like cooking spaghetti. Drain the noodles after 3 minutes. I’ll love to inject the word al dente somewhere in here but there’s no way to get black bean noodles al dente. Oh wait, I just put it in twice. ;)

noodles

I emptied the noodles into a high sided plate and liberally poured the pasta sauce with garlic, onions and sausages on top. This is also where you add the powdered cheese and Tabasco sauce.

mix

The sides are important as a barrier against spillage when you start mixing the alfredo sauce into the noodles.

cream

Add a dash (or three) of mixed herbs and toss the pig heart’s on top.

scallops

Arrange the scallops on the side and I present to you:
 


final dish

Alfredo Organic Black Bean Noodles with Scallops and Whole Pig’s HeartIt tastes better than it looks, trust me.

good

You get to bite into the baked whole pig’s heart like a barbarian too. Get in touch with your Neanderthal roots yo!

RAWR. UGG HUNGRY!

eat

I pronounce it Good (TM)!

Throw a whole pig into boiling water

making kueh chap

That’s how you make kueh chap…basically, you pick up a live pig
(you may need help if the pig exceeds a certain size) and throw the
whole animal into a vat of boiling water. Watch it scream and struggle
as it’s being boiled alive. When the pig has stopped moving (you can
establish this by seeing if the water is still churning), drain the
water and chop it up into pieces.

stall 34 kueh chap

This was related to me by a friend as we were eating kueh chap at
Stall 34 in Petanak. He’s kidding of course, but kueh chap does contain
many byproducts of pork as well as pork meat itself. It’s a mix of pig
intestines, stomach, skin (fat), meat with other things like eggs and
tofu. Pig brains and genitalia are considered specialty gourmet items,
so those are obviously not included. The Chinese say every part of the
pig can be eaten except for its bones (though it can be used for soup).

kueh chap petanak

Kueh chap is traditionally made with pork, but hey, you can even throw in a stray dog if you want.

dog kueh chap

I’m sure no one would notice.

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