Archive for May, 2012

Kueh Chap and Popiah TGIF!

Another good weekend bites the dust but I don’t feel that bad because a long weekend is coming up next week! And it’s R’s birthday too, so that means lots of great food and celebration (^___^) ahead.

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Jo, HC and I went to Manise (William Street, Northbridge) for lunch during the weekend. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Manise and the food is still lovely. This little Indonesian shop is deserving of a full blog post but we were too full to have a proper lunch, so here’s a picture of their lovely cripsy empek empek instead.

We had another TGIF (thank god it’s family day) dinner today! I spent the whole afternoon in the kitchen, it was hard work but actually really fun and satisfying at the same time.

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First up was nasi lemak lunch bento for tomorrow.

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The popiah was a bit of a rush job at the end of the night so it didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked it to.  I’m going to give it a real go and full concentration tomorrow night so let’s see how that will turn out.

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This was the dish that took up most of my afternoon, Kuching’s Kueh Chap, a popular herby porky dish that is well loved by my family members. Don’t bother asking me for the recipe because it was kindly given to me by my mum’s friend (whose family is apparently the pioneer kueh chap seller in Kuching *___*). So this is a family secret and I feel really privileged that dear Aunty Jenny was nice enough to share it with me.

The verdict? Pretty close to the real thing but definitely room for improvement. The part that I’m most chuffed about, my first attempt at cleaning pig intestines (tedious job ) turned out pretty good and my intestines were not foul smelling (there is a reason why they’re called offal you know) at all. Yeah, so I learned something new today and I’m happy. Hooray for TGIFs.

Next TGIF might be bak zhang night 🙂 Any other suggestions for TGIF food?

TGIF …

no longer stands for Thank God It’s Friday because we don’t have TGIF nights anymore 😦

While I’m always glad when Friday rolls around, I’m usually too tired on Friday nights to go out and do anything. So for the past two Friday nights I stayed at home watching Masterclass!

Anyway, nowadays TGIF means thank God it’s family day. For some reason our Sundays(and most Saturdays too) have morphed into family nights where Jo and HC either come over to my house or we go over to theirs for a family dinner. It’s always very relaxing and involves good food, random Australian tv (luckily Masterchef is on nowadays, once we had to resort to watching The Voice *shudder*) and lots of laughter.

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During the week Jo had texted me saying that she was craving pumpkin soup. So I told her we would have a 3P theme for our Sunday dinner, 3P as in Pasta, Pizza and Pumpkin Soup. I made the pumpkin soup and lasagne but Jo and HC brought over the pizza. Of course we knew there would be tons leftover, but hooray for yummy lunch bentos for the next few days.

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Perhaps I should have called it 4P since there was a lot of parsley involved. My parsley patch is flourishing and we’re having to add parsley to all my dishes. I have to admit, parsley chai po(pickled radish) omelette is actually very yummy. This batch of curried pumpkin soup was too light for my liking, my fault coz I didn’t prepare enough cream.

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I think the last time I made lasagne was almost two years back!   I should definitely do it more often, it’s fun and cheesy and Jo loves the meat sauce. Anything for the pregnant lady.

So it’s back to the daily grind tomorrow, I’m wondering what our theme should be for the next TGIF? Oh yes, Jo said it’s kueh chap and poh piah, so Jan, we’re practising for the holiday trip already, hopefully I will have the recipes down to pat by the time we get to London.

You know, Jo got her Australian permanent residency application approved this week. It was a huge sense of relief not just for Jo and HC but for my parents as well. My ah pa told me that he felt as if a stone had been lifted from his heart :). From a completely selfish point of view, I’m so glad that Jo and HC are here to stay. I can’t imagine what life in Perth would be like without both of them being around. Hooray for more family nights to come.

BIG

It’s been such a BIG week. Everything can change in a phonecall. An email. An hour.

It hasn’t been bad, in fact, I’ll say that everything that has happened so far has been unbelivably good.

But it’s kinda terrifying when it feels like your future has suddenly unravelled in front of you and suddenly you know where and what you’re heading for. I never realised that there was actually some comfort in the unknown.

Suddenly your life is just speeding ahead and the brakes don’t work anymore. So do you sink or swim?

I think I’m going to try floating :). Wish me luck.

East meets West beef stew

The problem with batch cooking is that you end up eating the same thing for the entire week. So with the same ingredients, I made beef stew 2 ways.

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Chinese style beef stew with mushrooms, radish and carrots. I braised this with cinnamon, star anise, garlic, ginger, zhu hou sauce, soy and rock sugar.
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Western style beef stew with the common ingredients of herbs, onion, leek, garlic, red wine and chopped tomatoes.

Which would you prefer?

Bangkok Day 6 ,7 & 8: Victory Monument, BFS & Chao Phraya River

Finally a blog post and a Bangkok one too! I know… this blog is dying a slow death due to my laziness. I am determined to finish the Bangkok posts though, I need a holiday again and am reliving my holiday through these posts.

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Day 6 started with exploring the rest of the Ratchaprasong shopping district. It was a very relaxing day with us catching a movie at the lovely Central World cineplex.

A note about Thai cinemas, the national anthem is played before every movie and everyone in the cinema stands up in respect. I read about it before hand but forgot about it and was very surprised when everyone suddenly stood up in the darkened room. I thought everyone was standing up to swop seats and when R nudged me to stand up, I thought he wanted us to swop seats too  (= ^^ =)

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In the evening we took the BTS to Victory Monument.

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Victory Monument is a large military monument and is one of Bangkok’s major traffic intersection. There is a large bus terminal and the surrounding areas are filled with street food vendors, clothing  and accessory stalls (* _____*).

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As you can see, this outdoor bazaar is very popular with local Thai university students and the working crowd.

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It was a very hot and humid night. The bazaar and all the stalls looked really enticing but the thought of squeezing through the crowds and haggling with vendors was a bit scary.
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I was very excited when I saw the food stalls. The only problem was, all the food signs were in Thai and no one seemed to speak English! We couldn’t order at the stalls as well, we were asked to sit at the tables and someone would come to take our orders, only problem was, we had no idea how to order in Thai so there was a lot of hand gesturing.

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The food wasn’t great to be honest. But I really enjoyed their gorgeous iced coffees. For those that don’t feel up to braving the outdoor bazaar, there are also a couple of good shopping malls (lots of cheap fashion) around the Victory Monument area. For us, we had to go into the shopping mall to hide from the storm that suddenly arrived. It was a heavy tropical storm too and we had to drip our way home.

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Back and dry in the hotel, just in time for a Chang too.

But the wet night took its toll and Day 7 was a complete wipeout because we couldn’t get out of bed! I called it the BFS, Bangkok Fatigue Syndrome, symptons include extreme fatigue, gentle stomachs and nausea.

I still wasn’t completely well by Day 8 but at least managed to make it out of bed.

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Thailand is probably the only country you can find this sign in its trains. The weather felt extra hot and humid and I was grateful for the blast of aircon in the BTS trains. Today we were attempting to visit the Grand Palace. A good way of getting there is via the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat. Take the BTS to the Saphan Taksin train station and walk a little way to the Sathorn Pier.

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We bought a single trip ticket to the Maharaj Pier which is where you get off for Grand Palace. The boat stops at quite a few piers linking to places like Chinatown or Wat Arun.

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Normally it would have been nice to soak in the sights while on the boat, but I was still feeling sick and thus very seasick, or should I say riversick.

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It’s actually very nice and relaxing to travel around Bangkok via boat, I wasn’t missing the smog from the tut tuts at all.

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Besides these ‘tourist’ boats, there are actually local boats which travel along the river as well, of course the seats aren’t as nice and sometimes it can be a bit of a squeeze.

Guess what? By the time we made it to the Grand Palace, it wasn’t open to public becaue there was some kind of royal ceremony going on which is actually very rare! Just our luck. Turns out it was probably good too because I was feeling really uncomfortable by then and starting to look very green in the face.

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So photos of Grand Palace will have to be in the next post! Don’t worry, I was fully recovered by the next day. Sawasdee Krab from Bangkok!

Equilibrium

Half of 2012 is almost over. For the past few months I’ve been desperately trying to get back to feeling like this again. I think I’m gradually getting there again, or at least, I’m making a better attempt at it.

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Weekends are the best times for getting my act together. A stolen Saturday. A really good latte. Messy but healthy burgers at Grill’d.

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Bento of the week is gyudon (beef bowl) with a half boiled egg and garlic long beans.

Something to look forward to? Masterchef is back on Australian tv (^__^).

Bangkok Day 4 & 5: Chatuchak weekend market, Yaowarat

Our original destination for Day 4 was Chatuchak weekend market. But … when we stepped out of the house, we heard the bellboy tell other hotel guests that Chatuchak wasn’t open on Friday (I think it actually is but not all the stalls are open, so definitely better to go on Sat/Sun). So… we headed to Platinum AGAIN (= ^ ^=)
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Day 4 was also spent examining roadside stall fare around the Pratunam area.

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Breakfast of  roast duck and rice.

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Blended pineapple juice. This was quite refreshing and tart but I had a much nicer blended watermelon juice earlier.

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This roadside snack was a mixture between cheung fun rice noodle rolls and pohpiah, it was a nice ‘dimsum’ for the afternoon.

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One of my favourite things about Thailand was the abundance of tropical fruit sold everywhere. These green mango slices were very tart, dipped in the mixture of salt, chilli pepper, sugar and lime juice, I enjoyed them a lot.

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We had been eyeing the seafood stalls along Central World for the past few nights and decided to indulge in a roadside seafood dinner that night. Can you figure out what the picture above was? It was actually a whole bbq fish. The salt crusted fish was lovely especially when eaten with their super spicy sauce.

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The famous Thai som tam,green papaya salad. I love Thai papaya salads, I love the crunch of green papaya, the sweet, salty, tart and spicy flavours but I have to admit, som tam is just a little too spicy for me and I found myself drinking huge quantities of Coke.

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The seafood fried rice wasn’t fantastic with the rice being a little soggy, but it went well with all our other dishes and helped to tame down the spiciness.

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Guess what else helps to tame down the heat? A big bottle of Chang beer!

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Day 5, we took the Skytrain to Mochit station which is about a 5 minutes walk away from Chatuchak!

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Bangkok’s mass transit system (BTS) is super convenient. The train stations and the trains themselves are clean, efficient and the aircon is super.

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Chatuchak is one of the world’s largest weekend market and a must visit in Bangkok. This gigiantic market is 35 acres wide, spilt into 27 sections (roughly divided between categories of goods sold) and sells everything and anything.  It is almost impossible to navigate so you should definitely grab a map (there’s a tourist booth at Platinum which gives out good maps) which should help.

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Furniture and home decoration section. There were lots of pretty things in this section ranging from huge crystal chandeliers to little candles and straw baskets.

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Pets section! I spent quite some time staring at the super duper cute bunnies. They were so tiny and cute. I wanted to bring them all home. I was partial to this little grey bunny.

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Fluffy white rabbits. There were also very beautiful and cute puppies and dogs. All kinds of pets imaginable. I could imagine Wendy spending hours in this section.

At first I enjoyed checking out all the cute pets. Then it got a little scary when we reached the ‘exotic’ pets section, little squirrel like things squeaked from cages, there were monitor lizards and many animals that I had never seen before. The fish section had buckets of worms (presumably for the fish?) wriggling about and I was worried that I would accidentally step on the bags of fish lined up on the floors. It started to feel like we were never getting out of the animal zone.

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Yeah! Made it out to the clothing and accessories zone. To be honest, I didn’t buy any clothes from Chatuchak because the prices and fashion at Platinum are actually better!

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After all that walking around, we were tired and ready for a meal. This pork leg rice was the best we had in Bangkok! The nice lady stall owner even came over to our table to point out the chilli sauce that she gave thumbs up for to go with the rice.

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Pots of thai basil can be found at many road side tables. I guess the locals like to add the fragrant herb in their dishes.

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The outer edges of Chatuchak. It was time to go home!

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But we didn’t stay in the hotel for long and took a taxi to Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown. The easiest way to get into Chinatown is actually by taking a boat ride along Chao Phraya river and stopping at the Ratchawong pier.

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I remember Chinatown being very hot and dusty with lots of traffic, many restaurants and gold shops . There were markets between alleys selling items such as household goods, fabrics and accessories.

I wasn’t impressed with daytime Chinatown but I’m told that it’s better to go there at night, so maybe next time?
At night, we took the BTS (Sala Daeng station) to Silom, Bangkok’s Wall Street by day, red light district by night. Silom’s or rather Patpong’s  XXX reputation was evident once we  stepped out from the station.  We were immediately greeted by touts selling pornographic dvds, I don’t know what you do when dvd covers featuring giant boobs are flashed in your face but I laughed. It was quite fun checking out roadstalls selling interesting items including sextoys, Viagra and Valium (0__o). R was also approached by seedy men (they acted as if I was invisible!) with calls for ‘pussy pingpong’ shows (=^^=)._DSC1011 (Medium)

But instead of go-go bars, we settled for an air conditioned restaurant (had enough of the heat for the day) which surprisingly served yummy Thai fare. This was pineapple rice, it’s actually quite similar to the one I make at home, except of course a lot tastier haha.

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R had kueh chap again. He liked this one a lot too.

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While he opted for a Singha beer, I had my first Thai ice coffee in Bangkok, it was the first of many to come because Thai ice coffees are delicious, strong black coffee heavily sweetened condensed milk and topped with oodles of ice.

We spent the rest of the night checking out the Patpong night market which sold the usual leather goods, accessories and clothing amongst other things. I actually liked Patpong night market a lot and found it easy to walk through.

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Passing by the luxury shopping center Gaysorn (in Pratunam) on our walk back to the hotel.

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Supper of layer kuih bought from a roadside store. It was sticky, fragrant with pandan and coconut milk flavours and perfect for a sweet end to the day.

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We also stocked up the fridge!


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