We kid you not. The moment my friend switched on the stove I timed it. In reality, getting the ingredients all in the pot took a mere 10 minutes! Leaving it to simmer for 5 minutes.
Now admittedly, not everyone cooks at the speed of light like this talented chum of mine, but what I want to emphasize here is that fish head curry is actually pretty simple and cheap to make.
We ended up with a nice fat jenahak head (since we are still in local fish mode) which costs about RM25, the same head eaten at a fish head restaurant can set you back about RM60 and that's not including your drinks, rice and other things.
Let's get cracking. The ingredients don't look so intimidating right? To Blend:
5 cloves garlic
1 big onion
A bit of water
1 fish head (merah, jenahak) easily 2 kg
2 round eggplants
10 lady's fingers (medium)
4 green chillies
1 stalk curry leaves
2 tbs pure assam jawa
3 tbs fish curry powder (we used Baba's)
1/2 (about 300g) packet santan (coconut milk)
3 tbs oil
1 cup water
2 tsp salt Method:
Wash the fish with coarse salt. This cleans out the 'muddy' smell to the fish. In fact, this is one of the main tips to making great fish head. The head has to be nice and clean.… Continue reading »
"Happiness in a styrofoam box..."
I have a little treat for burger lovers out there. About a year and a half ago, two brothers in Kelana Jaya named Mad and Afzal decided to open a burger stand with a bit of a twist; Steamed Ramly Burgers. During the day, the duo sell nasi lemak not far away (near the Health Clinic), by night they are happily steaming burgers, the oblong and the round kind. Their selections are quite impressive. Chicken, Beef, Lamb, Venison, Rabbit and Ostrich (only Chicken and Beef is Ramly's).
One brother mans the steamer grill section, and the other packs the burgers. The burger patty is first steamed in a stainless steel steamer for a few minutes and then transferred to a mobile gas griller, believe it or not. The steamed grilled burger is then dipped into a black pepper sauce pot for a few minutes before being fished out and handed to the 'packing' section.
Several things are done here. If someone orders a special, Afzal cracks open an egg, expertly spreads it on the flat pan and after a few moments, wraps the steamed burger with it. Buns are also toasted on this flat pan and the thing is, instead of using margarine or planta, they use vegetable shortening as the bun spread. Nice! Gives it the 'lemak'/rich taste. Next, styrofoam boxes are taken out and the burger is packed. By this time, patrons already have the "tak tahan look" on their faces. They know how good this will taste. Bun, mayo, salad, burger, onions, chili, secret sauce and lastly bun is neatly packed in. Basic set is RM2.80! or have it your own way with double burger, cheese top up, single egg wrap or go crazy with everything on Double Special Cheese at RM6.00!
We eat fish every which way we can. Sometimes in filet form, more often than not in its entirety. From the spicy concoctions of the south, to the curries of the north and every nuance in between, we Malaysians really cannot get enough of fish. It took a long while to whittle this list down to just 5, but now we have it: our favourite 5 Malaysian ways… More »
"It sits jauntily on the plate..."
"This is Maggie Goreng fried by an Indian man," my friend smiles. "So that's why its so good, only an Indian man knows how to fry noodles like this." My friend emphasised this point by tapping on the table animatedly. Still we were hoping it's the right Indian man because again how good the Maggi goreng is that night depends on who mans the wok.
Now here's what a great Maggi goreng is according to the connoisseurs. The noodles can't be soggy, it's springy. It has a wok hei taste but not too dry (that would be char maggi). Most importantly you must ask for it to be spicy, for the chilli to be cooked with the noodles.
Usually according to my MG expert, if you don't specify it, the dude would just fry the maggi and just put chilli padi in it. If that's the case there will be no 'kick' to the dish. So they must fry the dried chillies/ chilli paste with the noodles. There's also usually a hint of curry flavour in it.
My dish arrives. My friend beams. Just by looking at it, you can tell it's done right. It falls lovely on the plate- not mushy just rather jauntily. And you're lucky tonight my friend says, "you got juicy tofu in it, looks fresh." Wah! My head is spinning. So much about this dish is based on having your stars aligned at the right moment. I must be doing something right in the cosmos to hit pay dirt tonight.
"And all thoughts of dieting flies out the window..."
Every time I venture out to my favourite nasi lemak place in Taman Seraya, my mind would drift back to the days when the Ujang comics were an essential part of my teenage life. My jolt to the past is brought upon by the uncanny resemblance of my Nasi Lemak guy with the main character in "Aku Hidup Dalam Blues". In fact, his staff actually wears T-shirts with his caricature on it drawn by two Ujang alumnus- Janggut and Taugeh.
My Nasi Lemak guy is Abang Det, the owner of Det Station, a discreet Nasi Lemak stall tucked away in Ampang. Along with his wife, Kak Fazlin, Abang Det serves up plates of steaming aromatic Nasi Lemak with their famous deep fried chicken to loyal fans night after night.
With skin that stays crisp without being oily and the tender flesh juicy and oozing with flavours of garlic, turmeric and Det's secret blend of ingredients, patrons as far as Ipoh have frequented Det's for his utterly scrumptious chicken. The chicken might be the star, but its supporting casts, the Nasi Lemak and the sweet sambal should also get top billing. The rice is fragrant with hints of cloves, cardamom and ginger- soft and fluffy, just the way I like it. The smell of pandan will entice your grumbling stomach.
The sambal is a harmonious mix of onions and chillies, in one bite you get the delicate taste of shrimp and just enough heat to tantalize your taste buds. The chicken is fried to perfection, there's someone constantly fishing them out of the crackling hot oil. They then let it rest so the excess oil would drip out and it stays juicy. When these three elements of rice, sambal and fried chicken comes together perfectly, to me this is a plate of pure Nasi Lemak heaven.
Local freshwater isn’t a common everyday fish for most of us. Note that I mentioned local; I'm discounting tilapia and the usual catfish available in markets because those are introduced species from Africa. Mind you, Malaysian waters has it’s very own catfish which is sadly becoming rare nowadays, due to habitat loss or inter-breeding with the… More »
"Butter prawns... yummy..."
May Chixuan is one of those neighbourhood haunts that I often come to for a comforting dinner. It's got some good home style dishes, and maybe a thing or two that you don’t often find on just any menu. Take ostrich for example, which is not a type of meat you find just anywhere Here they prepare it in many different styles. Try it sautéed with dried chillies, the meat is extremely melt-in-the-mouth tender and when paired with the thick savoury sweet spicy sauce you’re in for a treat. It is almost like beef but the tenderness sets it apart from the average meat dish. They also serve frog’s legs here but I haven’t had a chance to try it the way they prepare it. I’m told it is very well done though.
Another comforting dish I enjoy is the sweet and sour pork, but be sure to tell them if you like it extra crispy. I enjoy when the batter is extra crisp on the outside but the meat is tender on the inside. There also needs to be a balanced meat to batter ratio so that you’re not just chewing into batter with no meat on the inside. They do it just the way I like it here and it is one of the dishes that keeps me coming back, although sadly they do sometimes have off nights where the pork is not quite as scrumptious.
If it’s seafood you’re after do try the butter prawns. They are large in size and fresh and the best part is that they are not too oily as butter prawns can sometimes be. This dish is satisfying without being too cloying. Have it with the sizzling tofu, which is delicious bathed in the thickened sauce. The tofu is made in house which is why it is especially smooth and silky.