Discover Malaysian Kopi (Coffee)

Malaysian Kopi (coffee)
Malaysian Kopi (coffee)

Once I wrote about our kopi (local for coffee) culture in Travel Malaysia Guide, talking about the evolution of the way we enjoy our coffee in generations from your old local kopitiams to the giant coffee franchises to our very own upper class kopitiam chains.

Ah indeed we have came a long way as coffee drinkers.

Either it is due to my taste bud being accustomed to our local coffee, or it is just me, I find that Malaysian coffee is one of the best, probably only topped by Hong Kong which is very similar to what we have, in terms of Asian coffee. But don’t let me tell you about it, you should go and try it out yourself and then let me know! For locals alike, do you think you know our Malaysian coffee well?

If you want to try and enjoy some of our local coffee or if you’re local to rediscover your love for local coffee, here are some good to know lingo for ordering the local Malaysian kopi to your liking:

Kopi O – black coffee

Kopi – coffee with condensed milk

Kopi C – coffee with evaporated milk

From here you can customize your coffee to your liking with:

For cold iced coffee, you add Peng at the end

For extra thick coffee you add Gao at the end

For less sugar (less sweet) you add Cheah (for north) and Xiu Dai (for south) at the end.

For without sugar, you add Kosong at the end, but bear in mind it only works for Kopi O or Kopi C, as condensed milk comes with sugar by default thus cannot be made without, that’s local tip for you so that you won’t be getting a stare back as response.

So for example if you want a cup of black coffee extra thick with less sugar you will say “Kopi O Gao Cheah”. Phew, how’s that for a highly customized coffee!

Where to find good local Malaysian coffee

You may find local kopi in the many Chinese eateries or hawker stalls restaurant, but not in proper dining or upscale Chinese restaurants, which actually serves Chinese tea instead. You may also succumb and try our mid-range kopitiam chains which you mostly would not miss if you hang around malls or popular districts.

If you know any good places in Malaysia for a good cup of coffee do let us know!

Best of Tham Jiak – Malaysia Food Guide

I felt like as if I have dropped out of this Earth. Does transitioning of years (man-defined even but with backings of astrology sorts of course) has anything to do with it? Does everyone fall out and return just like me? Or am I the only one? * insert mysterious tune at the background * Since we are at that , why not ask who am I? Where does the world comes from? Pardon me as I have been a tad philosophical recently due to reading a really good book that weaves the history of philosophy together in a 400 page story – Sophie’s World. The amazing thing is, a good friend introduced me to read it, so I went in search in the MPH bookstore and found one lonely book left and quickly grab it and ran to the counter with it under my sleeves lest somebody came to fight with me for it! I got out alive and thus been enjoying reading tremendously. Just about weeks later, I casually saunter into the same MPH bookstore, and walk around, lo and behold at the middle of the store on the tables where they usually showcase pick of the week or bestselling books, there are mountains, yes mountains!, of Sophie’s World stacked up on the table mocking me. At that time I was wondering if there is a conspiracy following what I read (such arrogance) but now on retrospect (writing does this to me), it seems then that they normally feature books that they just restocked (I bought the last one remember) so maybe to just get the books moving! Bah, I hope this assumption is wrong as we would not want our ‘pick of the week’ to be actually truly ‘new stock of the pick’, it takes the novelty out of it, it would even be slightly, just slightly better if it is ‘rokh’s current reading’ right?

Anyhow, back to Earth for me, we should be talking about food! See how I explained that I have dropped out of Earth, it seems I am still floating in and out of it, I wonder when I would settle down. Nevertheless, the world keeps spinning, people keep eating and I am still tham jiak. So just to kick start the year, I am reviewing this dear little blog of mine, after the four years anniversary, I found that there are few popular posts of all time in this blog, and I feel that it would be nice to share a little glory of this humble blog of mine, and also to put into retrospective where I want to head this blog towards. So without further ado, let me present you Tham Jiak’s top 8 (8 because Chinese New Year is just around the corner and the number 8 is especially auspicious for us Chinese, as it has the same homophone as ‘fortune’) blog posts:

Bak Chang @ Chinese Rice Dumpling
Bak Chang @ Chinese Rice Dumpling

Bak Chang

Oh this was definitely one of my own favourite posts too, as I learnt the ‘dying’ art of making Chinese bak chang. I was really worried then soon one day this will be lost to our current and future generations, as many now choose to purchase the commercial ones or eat at restaurants rather than make their own. Making them with Lai Ma that time was truly exciting and in short, though this may make me sound real young and over enthusiastic, simply awesome! I love how we had walked down the street from her house to an old wooden tim chai(sundry shop) nearby to get the bamboo leaves and the peas to the whole process of preparing all the ingredients which seemed like an endless list of things, but when you get down to it, it isn’t all that immense after all, then to the cooking of the meat and then frying of the rice to scooping all of the fillings onto the leaves and to what seem like my honest attempt to wrap them all in and then lowering them into boiling water while uttering some sort of prayer that it will not all turned loose and became a huge mess. After the whole endeavour, the bak chang came out perfect and somehow it tasted extremely good, thanks to all the heart and sweat poured into it. So go on and read about it all here, and who knows, you may make a resolution to make one for yourself this year?

Penang Food Diary

Oh how can I forget this food adventure of J and mine, at the food haven up north of Malaysia. Thinking back on all the food we had consumed in a span of one day, and yes ONE day, makes me shudder. I felt I had ate for the entire week! One of the most memorable dishes that I had in Penang that time, apart from my all time favourite Kek Lok Si  laksa of course, is the Mee Mamak. The sinful plate of red stir fried noodles has a huge myriad of flavours all packed into this seemingly simple dish. Now I have a sudden hankering for it. Ah, it will definitely be on top of my list if I ever go visit Penang again.

Best Mee Mamak @ Penang
Best Mee Mamak @ Penang

Teochew Steam Fish

Ah, so it seems that a lot of people googled for this recipe and I hope it did certainly helped many of them to have this dish grace their dinner table and feed many tham jiaks out there. Though I would have loved to re-enact this dish instead with a huge fresh fish, but nonetheless what I managed to concoct the other day remained fresh in my mind. The recipe was definitely a keeper and one day I shall attempt it again when I get my hand on some good fish.

Chinese Egg Tarts
Chinese Egg Tarts

Egg Tarts

This was definitely one of my favourite attempted recipe, one that is truly Chinese yet able to satisfy my sweet tooth. Since young I have loved this dainty dessert and especially so after the Portuguese egg tarts made their inception in Taiping. Although this recipe of mine was not of my favourite Portuguese egg tart (the idea of puffy crust still scares me, but one day I shall brace it like how I did for my Sponge Cake), but I still love the soft eggy and slightly sweet filling and the cookie-style crust was quite good too.

Bangkok Street Food
Bangkok Street Food

Bangkok Street Food: A-Roi

Yes I do have to admit that, although I have been to Bangkok for numerous times, yes even at one point I am there more than I am in Malaysia, this had been the one of the very few post on Bangkok food, and it turned out that the crowd pleaser was the street snacks. I guess sometimes when one go to someplace too much, they took for granted all the good food that they can have all the time there and forgot to document everything down as if it is really precious. Looking back now, I really do miss a lot of Bangkok food, and someday I am so heading back there again (though I also had numerous time swore I did not want to go back after many, many flights), not just for the shopping, which was unbelievably cheap, but definitely for all the a-roi (delicious) food there. Oh I have a sudden vivid recollection of my favourite, one must be forewarned when reminiscing on food that it will leave a huge longing in the heart.

Best Char Siew @ KL/PJ
Best Char Siew @ KL/PJ

Char Siew

Now I know that so many people out there shared my sentiment to this meat call pork, and one that have been barbecued to point of charred skin but locked with all the sweet meaty juiciness inside. Ah, just trying to describe this special dish again makes my mouth waters. Anyhow, I have indeed wrote a long post of praise to it, so head on to read all about and where to get your hands, or rather teeth in this case on it, and the best ones at that. What are you waiting for?

Pandan Leaves

Although this post was also about Hak Lor Mai, the sweet Chinese dessert that uses Pandan Leaves, it seemed that the whole information in regards to pandan leaves was the main attraction to people. Probably I took this leave for granted, having it embedded in our various local cuisines from aromatic Nasi Lemak to kaya (coconut jam) to kuih-muih. It is no wonder that these plain looking leaves in disguise of a wonderful yet not intruding aroma that it imparts to anything it came in contact with, in this case cooking with would garner so much attention to this date. I am so grateful that it is one thing that is easily obtained in Malaysia.

Pandan Leaf
Pandan Leaf

Chee Cheong Fun: The Breakdown

It seemed that this guest post of mine from my dear friend L is here to stay definitely, with her extensive research and also eating of course on the many types of Chee Cheong Fun that one can find in Malaysia. We might not have covered the whole Malaysia entirely but even then, we have already manage to find four variations of totally diverse style and sauces, but all with the main ingredient of steamed rice flour sheets rolled up. I for one feel the need to inject here that, although I have tried so many of the types mentioned, the Taiping style Chee Cheong Fun is the best and shall always hold a special place in my heart, bias I may be, but it is really tasty, one must try it at least once in their lifetime!

So there you have it, the top 8 posts of this blog. From here I would announce my return to planet Earth, and I would like to resume some sort of normality, then again what is normal? Nevertheless, stick around a little longer as I have a long postponed write up on chickens, and I promised it is going to be interesting, think free range and castration (yes, you read this right). Till then, happy eating and cheers to a 2010 that would be filled with loads of good food!

4 Years and Counting

I just realize, the last quarter of the year is like the best time for somebody to start a blog. What? You might ask. Well Tham Jiak, this dear blog of mine, has officially turned 4 years old, one week or so ago, on 27th October. Yes, it had been that long and the reason I said that it is like the time where people start blog is because I found some who are also celebrating their blog anniversary. How cool it is to celebrate together in the blogosphere with the famous llemongrass the queen of food blogs (and DSLR as I have heard) and Bangsar-babe the beauty queen (in all our hearts). It was them who reminded me of my overdue post to celebrate my dear blog’s 4th year anniversary.

On reflections on this blog, it seem Tham Jiak has gently nudge itself from a baker who cooks and occasionally dines out to a full fledged diner who bakes occasionally and almost never cooks anymore. Am I happy about it? I guess it is just a phase of life, for I know I would always remember the joy of baking and cooking and someday would have the luxury again to indulge in these favourite activities of mine and stuffed my loved ones silly again. In the meantime, this tham jiak is contented in enjoying her eating adventures outside. Also for this year, one may have notice that tham jiak had came out of her closet and went out to meet the people behind those lovely blogs out there that she had diligently been following, and boy was she glad, as they have indeed added spice and colours to this tham jiak world of mine. Also I am starting to note that a large frequency of the posts are mainly invited reviews, yes I am happy to be able to come out and enjoy free meals who wouldn’t, but certainly the most enjoyable part is actually the companies, being able to eat among food enthusiasts and a what a bubbly bunch they are too.

There would be many more years for this Tham Jiak blog and I hope you would continue to join in the ride with me; it may not be as it always is but I sure do hope it will be an enjoyable one for everyone. For so far it has been an amazing ride for me!

Till then, happy eating!

Cuppacakes from Wondermilk, given to me by my best buddy L

Cooking in Camping : We Came, We Saw, We Conquered, We Cook!

One way to start writing is to stop reading, I believe I mentioned this once before eons (exaggerating) in this blog, and it still holds really true. Two of my life’s greatest passions are writing and reading, therefore they often both compete fiercely for my time. I usually end up going through my ever-increasing list of google readers list and then my free time is up, and my dear blog abandoned. to be honest too, I do not have much to write about recently, with the usual excuse you would not want to hear about but now added with one more! J and I currently are pretty out of cash thanks to our recent indulgence in a 4X4 pickup, which so happen to be both our dreams now fulfilled, therefore not much spare for food indulgence.

Anyway, in a recent comment, a dear reader TummyThoz asked where is the report on my camping trip? I have not thought anyone would be interested to know what we did there, but it seems there is! It was great fun, we did crazy things, bathed in the waterfall, cooked with the same water (ha-ha), conquered Mount Stong, slept in the rain and then wake up in the wee hours to catch the sunrise at the well known lovers rock. What else can we ask for? On top of it all, it was the companies that made it all so worthwhile; definitely there will be more trips together!

Camping @ Mt Stong
Camping @ Mt Stong

Before we reached the foot of the mountain, we had a stop nearby for lunch to fuel our 2 hours climb to our camp site. There I saw a really special looking bottled Sarsi drink (root beer). We all stared at it, took picture but none of us want to try it. There was no information of the ingredients or expiry date. Later on, when I was hiking up Gunung Stong, the guide told me that Pokok Sarsi (tree), abundant in Gunung Ayam (the next higher mountain beside Stong), can be boiled to make Sarsi drink! How interesting, so that explains the queer bottled Sarsi with the logo of ayam (chicken). Then and there I regretted not trying the drink, after all it was locally made and not to be found anywhere else!

Air Sarsi @ Root Beer Drink
Air Sarsi @ Root Beer Drink

Fortunately for me though, before we leave the camp site the next day, our guide present us with pieces of pokok Sarsi, asking us to try boiling it for a drink! I was so delighted! Now I can make my own Sarsi drink all the way fresh from Gunung Ayam! (we were suppose to split among ourselves of these but I have yet to do so, I hope my hiking gang would not mind, ha-ha)

Sarsi @ Root Beer Bark
Sarsi @ Root Beer Bark

Since this is a food blog, I must also talk about the food we had there. Cooking in the camp is definitely no easy feat, luckily Q, our head chef did a thorough planning beforehand, so none of us went hungry. She even had a menu printed out!

Cooking @ Camping, Mt Stong
Cooking @ Camping, Mt Stong

Therefore while we worked hard to set up the camp and play hard as well, we had in mind what we would soon have to feast on. Such bliss! The most memorable meal was so happen to be the first meal. We had ‘steamboat’ as well as many dishes to accompany along. We were sort of fighting for the food and gorging it like we haven’t eaten in days. I remembered the Sambal Chicken (pictured below at bottom left) was really good, and was impressed that Q can pull this off in our condition. I am in the midst of getting the recipe from her, so stay tuned for a deceptively simple Sambal Chicken that one can even cooked with minimal utilities! Pardon our gluttony below.

Steamboat @ Camping, Mt StongSteamboat @ Camping, Mt Stong