Malaysian National Dish?

L came again and saved this blog of mine from mediocrity. I always longed to cook, experiment and blog again but I guess time is not on my side. Besides, food for the week had practically been ‘ta-pau’ed (packed) from my cousin’s housewarming since Sunday. (Yes, we packed a huge amount of leftovers). Then there was some little cooking here and there. I made cheese steak and oyster tomato soup for Valentine, but was too tired and did not have the time to take picture. The steak was good; I planned to do it again one day and then blog about it.

Well, as for now, enjoy another round of L’s eating adventure about a very popular dish, char kuey teow (stir-fried flat noodles), which is known to be the best in Penang, hers is a lightly revamped version being a wet one. Sounds kinky eh?

Sany Café

Sany Café @ Penang
Sany Café @ Penang

The debate raged on which food we should proudly proclaim as the Malaysian national food. The nominees had been roti canainasi lemak and char kuey teow. All three nominees are distinctively Malaysian, each one originated from the three main races in Malaysia, with roti canai an identity to the Indians, nasi lemak, an original Malay cooking and the hot from the wok, char kuey teow of the Chinese. What truly make these food truly Malaysian is that it is consumed by all races and that recipes had assimilated among the people here, sometimes giving a new breath into the menu altogether.

Sany Café, located in Jalan Sungai Dua, right opposite USM is a popular restaurant among students here. Everyone seems to only come here for the char kuey teow or more popularly known as ‘Kuey Teow Basah (wet)’. I was introduced to it late last year when my friends and I went there for supper. I though the dish was like any other kuey teow served in soup, but I was surprised to find out, it is actually char kuey teow served with a lot of gravy.

I was since hooked and always went back for more. Patrons may need to order the large one as the regular one is always too little to satisfy your taste buds and what more, after a long day of classes, you would need more of this delicious dish.

Kuey teow basah is pretty much like the usual Chinese char kuey teow which is usually fried with eggs, bean sprouts, cockles and prawns. The crucial difference is that, like its name, it is served soaking wet with its gravy. People told me, that what makes it so sinfully delicious is that instead of using plain water for its gravy, the cook uses the water that the prawn comes soaked in. It does sound unhygienic, but hey, that’s perhaps the whole selling point of kuey teow basah.

Being Malaysian is truly a blessing. Because when cultures assimilate, the food just always turns out better.

Sany Café
Jalan Sungai Dua,
(Opposite USM)
11700, Gelugor

Char Kuey Teow Basah @ Sany Café, Penang
Char Kuey Teow Basah @ Sany Café, Penang

Char Kuey Teow (Stir-fried flat noodles)

I noticed I had not been sharing enough recipes nowadays, and so I thought of putting a char kuey teow recipe up, which I always wanted to try but have yet to. Take note that this is the usual dry version, unlike the one L had reviewd. This is from Gina, founder of Kitchen Capers, and I’m sure, since it’s from her, it is going to turn out well and be really delicious. By the way, I heard that the real secret to a tasty plate of char kuey teow is by using lard oil and adding pork lard. It lends a delicious crunch and a distinct taste! I will try it once I have the time. In the meantime, if you did, let me know alright?

1 kg kuey teow (white, flat noodles)
300 g bean sprouts
200 g tiger prawns
200 g chicken fillet (parboiled in hot water, shredded)
2 stalks of spring onions, chopped (white part only)

2 tbsp Sweet Black Sauce
1 tbsp Fish sauce (or Light Soya Sauce)
1 tbsp Dark Soya sauce

5 tbsp corn oil
1 tsp chopped garlic
200 g fresh cockles (optional, if unavailable in your country)

In a wok, heat 1 tbsp corn oil and add garlic to stir fry.
Mix all the sauces together.
Add to the noodles and stir well to mix.
Add remaining 4 tbsp of corn oil to stir.
Add prawns and chicken, bean sprouts.
Add 20 ml water and spring onions. Stir to mix.
Lastly, add fresh cockles and briefly stir for about 2 mins.
Turn off fire.

Serve hot to 4-6 people

Beef Rendang Recipe : Smokey Goodness

I was cruising down the road right after my afternoon class. The weather was fine and I am feeling fresh, something that is amazing since I had endured few hours of lecture. Taking the usual route on my way back, all of sudden I was greeted by makeshift stall along the road, nearby of TTDI, with smokes billowing to the air. Guess what? No, not open burning. If you’re a Malaysian, you might, just might have guess it. Yes, it is lemang!

Lemang is actually glutinous rice with coconut milk wrapped in banana leaves then packed into a tube of bamboo and then smoked slowly over fire. Phew, such hard work. This delicacy may be available throughout the year but it is usually full blown with temporary makeshifts stalls everywhere during festivals celebrated by the Malay communities in Malaysia. The usual celebrations are the Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Hari Raya Haji. This Malay delicacy had been highlighted before by Boo from masak-masak. Boo featured lemang from last year’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri, from the same place I had acquired mine. As for Robyn, from EatingAsia, she and Dave had stumbled upon it along the Karak Highway.

This week on Tuesday, it was the Hari Raya Haji celebration. It is known as the Pilgrimage Day of Celebration, which is to mark the conclusion of pilgrimage activites in the Holy Land of Mecca. What luck I have to get my hand on these ‘lemangs’ as I had missed it last year during Hari Raya Adilfitri. Thus, excited like a school kid eyeing a candy, I scrammed on the break and swerved to the left and came to a halting stop by the side of a stall. (Yes, we Malaysians drive like that). Just as I got down from the car, I was greeted by the enthusiastic seller, whose stall I happened to stop right beside. Since it was, as we Chinese like to call it ‘yuin’ (fate) that I got to this stall I decided to get a tube of lemang from them. They even let me sample one tiny piece. Not too bad I might say. I wanted to get their curries but alas, found my wallet insufficient of money. (I had just paid the bills!).

Once I got home, I thrust the newspaper wrapped lemang to J and asked him to guess what it is. J just tore it off out of curiosity (such impatience) and was as excited as I am for the find too. Ah, but what are we to have it with? J, as the Malay cuisine expert here, said lemang have to have with rendang. Rendang, according to Wikipedia, is actually meat curry, cooked in coconut milk and spices for several hours until the liquid dried up, leaving a thick coating of spicy condiments on the meat. Sounds good isn’t it. Not to worry as the recipe is to follow.

Well, as this is also an entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging at Kalyn, I am featuring a herb used in cooking rendang. It is daun limau purut (kaffir lime leaves). These leaves, as the name implied, impart a strong scent of lime and are really refreshing.

Daun Limau Purut
Daun Limau Purut

Now let’s go and make some rendang to go with the lemang. Pssst, as I know, it goes well with rice too!

Beef Rendang

Beef Rendang Recipe
Beef Rendang

This is my first time trying out a tedious recipe but I was adamant. Yet, I was still pretty lazy and had come up with some cheating methods to fasten up the process. I got this recipe, once again from Amy Beh, but had modified the liquid amount, thus reducing cooking time tremendously.

I was shocked by the amount of coconut milk called for in the original recipe and was further aghast by the idea of adding same amount of water. Thus I reduced it by more than half and had even left out the water portion.

When I got to tesco looking for topside beef, there was none but instead I found packets of cubed beef labeled – beef for rendang. Talk about being ‘Malaysianised’ eh.

Chilli boh is actually just grinded chillies with salt. Thus, if you cannot get it, I would recommend adding 2-3 sliced chillies to the level of spiciness you desire. Just remember that rendang are just spicy-nice, as in not too spicy yet just a tinge of kick.

Next it was the kerisik (pounded dry-fried grated coconut) which I had no idea where to get, so I improvised and bought desiccated coconut. Then I dry fried the desiccated coconut till brown and then pounded it with my pestle and mortar. (If you don’t have one, maybe you can try pounding with your roller pin or something like that. Think creative!)

500g beef topside, cubed

Grind together:
4 tbsp chilli boh
7 shallots
5 cloves garlic
4cm piece ginger
2 onions
4 stalks lemongrass, finely sliced
3cm piece galangal
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp fennel powder

400ml thick coconut milk (1 can)

1/2 cup kerisik (pounded dry-fried grated coconut)
1 tbsp finely-shredded daun limau purut (kaffir lime leaves)

1 tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp brown sugar or to taste

Coat bottom of a deep saucepan with a little bit of oil and heat it up.
Add in beef and stir fry briefly till all sides are slightly browned.
Sitr in the ground ingredients and stir to mix.
Then add in the coconut milk.
Simmer over low-medium heat for one hour until beef turns tender and the gravy is quite thick.
Add kerisik and continue to cook until the gravy turns thick and dry.
Add seasonings and daun limau purut.
Stir and cook for further five minutes or until beef gravy is sticky dry

Serves 3 – 4