Friday, February 26, 2010

Protein Power for Yummy Mummy

I hope this dish - Otak-otak Ikan Nyonya Style - will make Yummy Mummy happy...

I went to the shops with my Mama today and was so excited with what we found. Wild pepper leaves! It was quite embarrassing to see my Mama pinching and smelling the leaves to make sure it is really is daun kadok (Piper sarmentosum) and not daun sireh (betel leaves - Piper betle) that the sub-continent community over here use in their betel morsel (paan supari - areca nut and lime wrapped in betel leaves that produced a reddish juice when chewed).

My Mama said daun kadok physically looks like betel leaves but they are different in taste. Daun kadok is widely used in Malaysian Nyonya dishes such as otak-otak and perut ikan. In Thai cooking it is the main ingredient for Mieng Kam, (a starter dish consisting of dried prawns, peanuts, toasted coconut, shallots, chilli and fish sauce) in which daun kadok is used as a wrapper. It also has medicinal properties. People say the roots of daun kadok can be chewed to stop toothache.

"Hmmm...what do you think, Angelina?" Mama asked me.

"I think we should go to the fish shop and buy some mackerels," I said.

Daun kadok and mackerels - main ingredients to make one of my favourite fish concoction - Otak-otak Ikan Nyonya Style.

I'd like to dedicate this dish to Yummy Mummy aka Datin Huda aka Mamasita Mamamia. You need all the protein you can get for your aerobics marathon and what better way than to consume some yummy fishy concoction, OK. Bold

Here's the recipe:

Otak-otak Ikan (Spicy Steamed Fish Mousse) Nyonya Style - to make three ramekin portions

500g blue mackerel (options: Spanish mackerel, sardine or barramundi)

Don't these blue mackerels look handsome? hmmm....can't wait...

250ml thick coconut milk
2 small eggs
4 pieces kaffir lime leaves (daun limau purut), spines removed and leaves finely sliced
20 pieces wild pepper leaves (daun kadok)
a pinch of freshly ground white pepper
a pinch of sugar and salt to taste
Squares of aluminum foil

Paste spices
5 red chilies
1 stalk lemongrass
2 slices galangal
2.5cm piece fresh turmeric or 1 tsp turmeric powder
5 pieces candlenuts (buah keras)
1.5cm piece shrimp paste (belacan)
2 cloves garlic
5 stalks shallots

1. Prepare fish by cleaning, skinning and flaking the flesh.

The heads and bones can be used to make fish stock.

The flesh of blue mackerels. I love the sweet taste of this fish.

2. Make the spice paste in a food processor, adding the ingredients one by one as they are listed above.

This dish actually uses quite a lot of ingredients to get that complex taste.

3. In a large mixing bowl, add in the fish, spice paste, coconut milk, eggs, salt, sugar and lime leaves. Gently mix thoroughly by hand.

Best mixed by hand to ensure thorough marinating of flavours.

4. Cut aluminium foil into squares and line the ramekins.

I like the taste of daun kadok so I usually use a little bit extra.

5. Place at least 3 daun kadok overlapping in the centre of the lined ramekins, then spoon 2-3 heaped tablespoons of the fish mousse mixture on top.

Almost there patient...

6. Place steamer set on the stove, don't forget to put enough water in the bottom pot. I used a small 3-tier aluminium steamer set that Mama brought from her home country. Steamer is ready when water boils.

7. Place the ramekins in the top steamer rack and steam for approximate 20 minutes or until cooked and set. Make sure no water drips into the mixture as this will make the cooked otak-otak watery.

Best eaten while still hot. Served with salad or rice or use as sandwich spread.

The Chef - after a hard day's work in the kitchen. zzzzzz....

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mama's Secret Photos

My Mama and Dad went to the Middle East sometime back. It's a religious thing, they said. So, Brad and I were left at home. I've been begging to see any pictures my parents would have taken, knowing their shared passion in photography. But I kept getting brushed off and my investigations did not bear fruit. The photographs were not stored in iPhoto or the MacBook's hard disk. Where would they be, huh?

Then it dawned on me. Mama has this explicit rule that we are never to rummage in her handbag or work bag. There must be a reason why, eh? I would sometimes see her take out a black square thingy and slot it in the USB port. When I asked her, Mama said it's called an external hard drive and it contains files from work. And I was told never ever to touch it under any circumstances as it contains top secret documents from work.

Mmmm...I've never been a meek cat and never known to obey anyone's instructions. Didn't someone once said curiosity kills the cat? Yeah...but we're talking about fearless Angelina here.

Then one morning, my Mama forgot to eject the thingy from the USB and left it dangling from the MacBook while she was rushing to work. Har har har!! Not knowing how long before she realised what she has done and come back to retrieve it, I quickly scanned the contents of the thingy and....voila! I found some folders with pictures of her Middle East travels.

Look at what I found!

Mama and Dad went to this place. It looks so serene and peaceful. Wish she had taken me there too.

Looking at the following pictures I begin to understand why they've been hidden from me all these while. Now I know why Mama's been telling Dad if ever she becomes a millionaire she'll set up a charity for animals in the Holy Lands.

Come on Mama, I'm not threatened by you showing affection to a marmalade stray. Or by the fact that she's pregnant. Nope, no "womb envy" here.

But don't ever do this to other cats in front of me, OK? It hurts....

And why in the world did you pick up a calico stray you met at the cemetery, Mama?

Here she is upclose. She's not even cute. Perhaps she's a ghost....boooo.....

Here birdy birdy...maybe Mama didn't want me to cause havoc among these up-market pigeons. They're the "Hiltonites" of Makkah.

But these street pigeons crave attention. I'm sure they would enjoy my company.

Aaahh...I've always wanted to ride a camel, especially a richly decorated one like this chap.

OK. I'm satisfied now that I've seen the pictures. Nope, not going to confront my Mama with my findings. That will be asking for trouble...purrr....meow!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Al Fatihah for Uncle Shah

Uncle Shah (left) died early today. My Mama took this photo when he attended Mama's work's 20th Anniversary Fundraising Dinner (June 2009).

Mama has a habit of watching the early morning news on TV before she goes to work everyday. One piece of news that was repeated by all the stations was the death of a man after a vicious attack in the wee hours of the morning. Anyway, when the suburb was mentioned, Mama said, "A killing in Leichhardt? Hmmm...mafia?" Leichhardt is the Italian enclave of Sydney, thus her assumption that it was some mafioso affairs.

Anyway, as the day unfolded, Mama received a telephone call from Aunty H telling the demise of the Malaysian Consul-General's driver by the name of Mohd Shah Saemin. There's going to be a tahlil and prayers for him at the Malaysia Hall tonight. Although the deceased has become an Australian citizen, his family has requested for his body to be sent back to his hometown in Melaka.

I have never met Uncle Shah but my Mama has. "He was a soft spoken and nice man," Mama said. "Someone that any mother might consider as a future son-in-law," she continued.

Last they met was when he attended Mama's workplace's fundraising dinner. He was the only bachelor at the table and everyone was happily trying to matchmake him with Mama's colleagues, Aunty J and Aunty M.

This is what's been reported by some Australian newspapers today. Perhaps it's been picked up by Malaysian media too.

ROAD rage is a possible motive for the vicious murder of a man who was stabbed and bashed with a hammer in Sydney, police say.
The 43-year-old Malaysian-born employee of the Malaysian Consulate General had become an Australian citizen and had lived in Sydney for about three years.
As he arrived at his home on Marion Street in the inner western suburb of Leichhardt just after midnight today, witnesses saw two men chase the victim across the road.
"We do believe that there may have been a traffic accident ... shortly before the attack occurred," acting Superintendent Shayne Woolbank told reporters at the scene this morning.
Asked if road rage was a motive for the attack, Supt Woolbank said: "It is one of the possibilities".
The attackers were last seen fleeing the scene in a black sedan.
Emergency crews were called to help the man, who died despite the efforts of police officers who performed CPR.
"At this stage, we believe he has sustained some stab wounds and also some bruising and contusions," Supt Woolbank said.
He confirmed that a hammer may have been used in the attack.
"It was a very ferocious attack, there is no doubt about that," he said.
Mohd Nasir Abu Hassan, director of the Malaysian Students Department (of) Australia described the man, who worked as a driver for the consulate, as a "very dear colleague" who was unlikely to get involved in fights.
The victim's name has not yet been released.
Anyone with information about the killing is urged to contact police by calling Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Let us all pray for Uncle Shah. Al Fatihah.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chili Crab for Pak Mat

A crab feast for the man from Bachok.

Dear Pak Mat,
We have never met in real life but our relationship has blossomed in blogosphere. My cat instinct could sense a sadness in you. A sadness that only comfort eating may cure, in my humble opinion.
So, today, Masterchef Angelina went to the markets and picked some delectable crustaceans - the blue swimmer crabs. Combined with some herbs from our garden and lovely home made chili paste, I humbly present to you a crab recipe that I hope will comfort you.
Should we invite Mrs Mat as well, you said? I'll leave that entirely to you. I'm guessing that she won't be jealous of a spiffy three-year old cat.

Here it is, Chili Crab a la Angelina.

Ingredients: (to serve 2)
2 large crabs, cleaned and cut into two

The bigger the crab, the better. I usually pick the female ones, hoping that there'll be crab roe as well.

3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, sliced finely
2 shallots, sliced finely

The prepared garlic, ginger and shallots.

1 large brown onion, sliced into rings

Brown onion rings.

1 bunch fresh coriander, cleaned and cut into 2-inch length
1 bunch spring onions, cleaned and cut into 2-inch length

The spring onions and fresh coriander are from our garden.

4 tablespoonful chili paste, from about 20 dry chilies
2 tablespoonful cooking oil
1 tablespoonful tamarind paste
1 teaspoonful salt
1 tablespoonful brown sugar
1 egg
1 small can of tomato paste

Tomato paste is the secret ingredient in my "sambal".

OK, now that we've prepared all the ingredients, let's start cooking.

1. Heat a large wok, pour cooking oil once it's heated through.
2. Saute garlic, ginger and shallot in hot oil.
3. Add in chili paste, mix and cook through.
4. Add tamarind paste, tomato paste, salt and sugar. Mix and cook through.

Tomato paste helps me achieve the red and menacing look of the gravy without adding too much heat if more chili paste had been used.

5. Add in the crabs and brown onion.

Brown onion has a natural sweet taste that adds to the yumminess of the dish.

6. Mix thoroughly. I had to use two spatulas for the job.

Each piece of crab should be coated with the gravy.

7. Let the gravy simmer for a bit and check if crabs are cooked through.
8. Break an egg into the gravy, mix through. The egg helps thicken the gravy.
9. Plonk in the fresh coriander and spring onion, remove wok from heat.

Add egg, coriander and spring onion just before serving.

Phew! That was a good exercise in the kitchen for me. But it's a labour of love for you, Pak Mat. Let's have dinner now. served with white rice.

I've also cooked some mix vege as the side dish.

Peaches and plums for dessert.

After dinner, a breath of fresh air at the balcony. Too bad there's no full moon tonight......or else it will be purrrfect for us.

It's a pleasure having you over for dinner, Pak Mat. Happy memories to bring home to Bachok, I hope. purrr....meow!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Of Chilies and Babies

It's been raining cats and dogs since Christmas. A day without rain has been quite rare lately. Some areas in the Outback are even flooded after years of drought. Seems like the water restriction for Sydney has been lifted as the dams are filled up quite nicely lately. Let's hope it will be a loooooong looooong time before the authorities impose such restrictions again. However, that doesn't mean we should stop our water conservation effort.

With the rain, some of the plants in our garden are taking it hard. Some are showing stress due to over watering while some are attacked by fungi and snails. The most distressed seem to be our bird chili plants. Mama decided to harvest the fruits early to prevent further damage to the crop. At least, if the plants die, we can still save the fruits, she said.

Here they are, our summer chili harvest. We'll start re-planting when the rainy season is over. What we can't eat now will go into the freezer.

Talking about chili, a deranged man (in my opinion) had gone around smearing babies' faces with chili powder yesterday!!! What must he be thinking? Mama got so angry and said the fitting punishment for the man would be to smear his face with our chili. Whoa! People, don't ever make my Mama angry. She becomes fiery and you'll be chili-fied!

This is what we read in the Sydney Morning Herald today.

Sydney (16 Feb): A man has been arrested following the assault of two toddlers with chilli powder in Sydney's inner west, police say.
The 40-year-old man allegedly assaulted two young children in separate incidents when the toddlers were being pushed in their prams by their mothers while shopping.
A woman entered a greengrocer on Liverpool Road in Ashfield when it is alleged the man approached her 18-month-old son who was sitting in a pram and rubbed chilli powder on his face just after 11am (AEDT) on January 25.
When the toddler began to cry, the man ran from the store.
The boy was treated by his doctor and did not sustain any serious injury.
In the second incident, a woman was shopping in a supermarket on Liverpool Road when a man allegedly approached her two-year-old seated in a pram and smeared chilli powder over his face about 7.45am on Monday.
The man fled the scene before police arrived. The toddler was taken to Canterbury Hospital by ambulance for treatment.
A man attended Ashfield police station about 9.40am on Monday, where he asked to use the toilet and allegedly tried to dispose of a packet of cayenne powder in the bin before police discovered what he was doing.
He was arrested and taken to Campsie Police Station, where he was charged with two counts of assault.
He will face Burwood Local Court on March 4.

* All places mentioned are suburbs neighbouring ours.

What a crazy world we're living in now. purrrr....meow!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love Letter for Angelina

Dear Angelina,
I know that you've told people I'm your slave. Would like you to know I'm not the slightest bit offended by that remark. That goes to show you actually ackowledge my existence. Yes, I am your slave. Your slave of love....
I hope you'll like this box of flowers I got you. I'm not a rich guy and can't afford a dozen red roses. This bunch of pink and white is all I could afford. You know, slaves don't have much pocket money. But I've been saving for months, OK?

A box of flowers for Angelina.

I also saw this specially packaged box of chocolate and bought it for you. Hope you'll share it with me too. I don't have enough money to buy another box for me. I also had to turn away from the ice cream aisle though the Magnums were calling to me. aaarrrgh...

Special chocolates too...

I know, we haven't had the happiest life together. With you ignoring me all the time... But you would agree that it's lively. You always complain that I like to provoke you. Don't blame me, sweetheart. I do that to get your attention.
It breaks my heart when I read about you flirting with so many males, felines and humans, while you keep ignoring me. It's not as if we're blood siblings....Is it because I was a stray while you have pedigree blood in you? You're so snooty and choosy!
So, why am I writing this to you? I'm pathetic, ain't I?
Well, I'm not asking you to return my love. Just be, less cruel. OK?

Lots of love,
Your slave,

Brad Pitt

Dear Brad,
Your letter came as a surprise. Never knew you have such intense feelings for me.
Anyway, thanks for the flowers and chocolates.
Do you realise that them flowers are not roses? It says "Lisianthus". They look like roses but they are not.

Clearly printed there - Lisianthus!

How can you expect me to return your love when you can't even read properly? Have to admit that they're quite pretty though.

Not roses but still pretty.

No, am not sharing the chocolates with you. I'm sharing them with Mama. hahahahaha....

Angelina Jolie

Friday, February 12, 2010

Water Conservation Initiative

Mini waterfall at the Hiroshima Memorial in Botanical Gardens, Wellington, New Zealand.

Water is precious, yet it is being wasted or poorly managed. You can help promote water conservation by sending on this meme.

If you do, simply follow these rules:
1. Create a blog entry entitled "Water Conservation Initiative".
2. Post the Water Initiative Network's Water Facts in your post.
3. List 3 things YOU will do to save water.
4. Add in the photo above, or any photo you have taken of a waterfall, river or lake.
5. End with the line: "Find out more about water conservation and good governance by joining the Water Initiative Network on Facebook! Visit us here at: Water Initiative Network!

Tag 5 or more blog/FB friends. Be sure to copy the rules, okay?

1. Of every 100 drops of water on earth, 97 are too salty to drink, 2 are locked in ice and snow, and 1 is fresh water.
2. The daily requirement for sanitation, bathing, and cooking needs, as well as for assuring survival, is about 50 litres per person.
3. Reducing shower time from 20 mins to 8 mins saves up to 360 litres of water per shower.
4. A small drip from a faucet can waste as much as 75 litres of water a day.
5. Two thirds of the water used in a home is used in the bathroom. To flush a toilet, we use up to 9 litres of water.
6. Water-efficient toilets and washing machines are good ways to save water.
7. A low-tech way to save water is to form the habit of turning on the tap to low flow and turning it off when the water is not needed.
8. Non-revenue water (i.e. stolen or wasted water) constitutes 36% of water 'used' in Selangor, Malaysia, and this raises the cost of water for everyone.
9. Water supply infrastructure cost billions of ringgit. This money could be spent in more useful ways.
10. Large areas of forests are cleared to make way for water supply dams to accommodate our soaring demand for water. These forests and their wildlife represent our natural heritage.

1. I will tell Dad and Mama not to bathe us too often. (we prefer dry cleaning, thank you.)
2. I will tell Dad and Mama to use the steam mop instead of the traditional mop and bucket to clean the floor.
3. I will remind Dad and Mama to use the correct flushing button at the bidet, left for wee-wee and right for poo-poo. (phew! Thank God our "toilet" uses dry cat litter, not water.)

1. Yummy Mummy
2. Cheqna
3. Aunty Naz
4. Aunty Kay
5. Aunty Yatt
6. Aunty Ahan
7. Aunty Sherry
8. Aunty Paula

Tidbits from Sydney
This is what we have to live with in Sydney - water restriction because of the drought we've had for years (longer than this cat's lifetime).

The Water Wise Rules are:
· Watering, including with sprinklers and irrigation systems, is allowed any day before 10 am and after 4 pm to avoid the heat of the day.
· All hand held hoses must have a trigger nozzle.
· No hosing of hard surfaces such as paths and driveways. Washing vehicles is allowed.
· Fire hoses may be used for fire fighting activities only.

The Water Wise Rules are simple, common sense actions that apply to all Sydney Water customers in Sydney, the Illawarra and the Blue Mountains. This includes residents, businesses, local councils and government agencies.
Sydney Water encourages the community to use their common sense when applying the Water Wise Rules. For example;
· Wash your car on the lawn wherever possible. This will not only water and fertilise your lawn but will also avoid stormwater pollution.
· Avoid any form of outdoor hosing between 10 am and 4 pm to avoid the heat of the day, when evaporation is high.
· Use a broom to clean up leaves, grass clippings, dirt, dust or general litter on paths or driveways instead of hosing.

Being water wise makes good sense. Water efficiency, together with with more recycling projects and desalination coming on line, means greater Sydney is in a stronger position to secure water for life.

Recycled water, bore water and water used for testing fire systems, fire fighting and related activities are exempt from the Water Wise Rules. Water from rainwater tanks is also exempt if it is not topped up from Sydney Water’s supply.
Some government restrictions do apply to bore water and water extracted from rivers, so always check with your local council and the Department of Water & Energy.

Fines apply
A fine of $220 applies for all breaches of water saving rules by individuals. Businesses face a fine of $550 for each breach. Fines for water theft are $2,200. Authorised Sydney Water staff will carry out random checks to ensure compliance with the Water Wise Rules.

The following are still permitted at any time:
· Using a bucket or watering can to wash and rinse vehicles or water lawns and gardens.
· Filling a pool or topping up an existing swimming pool.
· Using water from a rainwater tank, as long as it is not connected to or topped up with drinking water.
· Using water to cool people or animals.
· Using a hose with a trigger nozzle or high pressure cleaning device to clean boat bilges and boat trailer brakes and wheels.
· Using a hose to flush boat engines.
· Cleaning garbage bins using a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle. This should, wherever possible, be done within an official bin wash area or on grass.

Customers who need to establish a new lawn may use sprinklers or watering systems at any time of the day for 14 days from the date of installation. After the first 14 days, sprinklers and watering systems may only be used before 10 am and after 4 pm daily.Customers may not hose a path, driveway, concrete or paved surface at any time where a broom can be used. Examples include cleaning up leaves, grass clippings, dirt, dust or general litter.

People may be permitted to hose a path, driveway, concrete or other paved surface for reasons of health, safety, emergency, construction activity or surface discolouration. The reason must be readily identifiable to an authorised officer. Examples include:
· To remove a build up of mould or moss
· To clean the BBQ or outdoor food preparation areas
· To clean food or drink spillages
· To clean up after accidents
· To clean animal droppings
· To clean areas affected by sewer overflows
· To prepare a surface for painting or resealing
· To clean surfaces prior to the sale or lease of a property
· To rinse surfaces after construction activity provided that the area is initially cleaned using a shovel and broom

Surface Discolouration
· To remove graffiti
· To remove oil stains
· To remove a build up of rust

Quick tips for the home
Every day, there are many simple little things we can do around the house to save water, money and help the environment. Take a look through the tips below for some clever shortcuts to savings.
· Checking for leaks in taps, pipes and dishwasher hoses is an easy way to reduce water wastage. Remember, one leaking tap can waste more than 2,000 litres a month.
· The most water efficient methods for cooking vegetables are microwaving, steaming or using a pressure cooker. You can also cut down on water loss by using tight lids on pots and simmering instead of boiling rapidly.
· Installing water efficient taps or tap aerators is a great, inexpensive way to cut your water usage without you even noticing.
· Put the plug in the sink when washing your hands instead of holding them under running water. · Thaw frozen foods before you need them or use the microwave instead of placing them under running water.
· Prevent taps from leaking by turning taps off lightly and replace washers as soon as they begin to leak.
· Automatic dishwashers can use up to 40 litres of water per load. By using a dishwasher with at least a 3 star/AAA rating1, you can get this figure down to 18 litres per load and still get the kind of sparkling clean dishes you're used to.
· It's best to wait until you have a full load in your dishwasher before using it. This saves water and energy, and reduces the amount of detergent entering the sewerage system.
· Keep a container of water in the fridge so that you won't need to run the water down the sink until it's cool enough to drink.
· Washing fruit and vegies in a half-filled sink instead of under running water is a great way to cut back on water wastage.
· Rinsing your dishes in a plugged sink rather than under a running tap saves water and is just as easy and effective.
· Use a sink strainer.
· Try to use phosphate-free, eco-friendly detergents and cleaning products - there's a great range to choose from these days and they're much better for our environment.
· Remember to regularly clean the lint filter on your washing machine.
· Most washing machines have a load adjustment button or dial, so try to set this to match the amount of washing you're doing. If your machine doesn't have a load adjustment function, try to wait until you have enough washing for a full load.
· Installing one of the latest 3 star/AAA rating showerheads can give you a great shower and save you around 10 litres of water a minute. They also save you energy costs, as you'll use less hot water.
· To rinse your razor, run a little water into a plugged sink. Rinsing your razor under a running tap wastes lots of water.
· There's no need to leave the tap running while you brush your teeth. Simply wet your toothbrush before you begin and use a glass of water to rinse your mouth.

Find out more about water conservation and good governance by joining the Water Initiative Network on Facebook! Visit us here at:!/group.php?gid=282587736385&ref=nf

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tail Between Legs

Mama came back from work today and found this under the dining table. Three guesses on who did it. And when Mama's angry, she'll speak in a foreign tongue.

"Ni siapa punya kerja ni? Tak cukup makan ke? Makanlah korang punya tuna kat dapur tu. Pergi kacau Mama punya kenapa?"

......and it went on and on...."Tau tak ikan bilis tu mahal? Lagi mahal daripada korang punya Fancy Feast! Mama kasi korang puasa satu minggu baru tau."

....and on and on...."Tak ada siapa nak mengaku ye? Siapa salah angkat ekor, cepat!"

I quickly tuck my tails between my legs. What has my tail got to do with it?

Nobody but my Mama eats fried anchovies in this household.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Asam Pedas for Uncle Lee

My dear Uncle Lee,
This one's for you. I was sad when I read your heart-wrenching story about Yvonne. Of trust broken and love shattered. So, I've decided to cook a special dish for you. As I'm a cat, it has to be something "fishy" too. Thus, we can kill two birds with one stone, OK?
I hope you'll like my version of Asam Pedas Ikan Tenggiri with Belimbing. Please tell Mrs Lee to set the table, she's invited for dinner too. Though, can she stand seeing me being cuddly cuddly with you? I'm not just a cat but a very sexy SYT (in your books). teeheehee...

What do you think? I managed to get the largest piece of Spanish Mackerel at the market for you. Yummy?

Ingredients: (to serve 2)
2 pieces Spanish Mackerel cutlets
2 tablespoons cooking oil
3 pcs of Spanish onion, peeled and sliced thinly

Spanish onions for Spanish Mackerel...get it? Anyway, the red onions are tastier than the brown or white variety.

3 cloves garlic, peeled
2.5cm piece of ginger, peeled
2.5cm piece galangal
0.5cm piece turmeric root
1 bunch of daun kesum (laksa leaves or Vietnamese mint)

We got this bunch of Vietnamese mint from Aunty H's garden. Ours died last winter and we haven't replanted.

10 pcs dried red chilli (I use Kashmiri chili), cut and soaked in hot water
2.5cm piece of belacan (shrimp paste)
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 lemongrass, green part discarded
2 pcs coriander root (from 2 bunches of fresh coriander)
5 bilimbi (belimbing buluh)

I couldn't get fresh bilimbi but these frozen ones (right - light green) should do fine. Oh, they're imported from the Philippines. Those are coriander roots (middle), widely used in Thai cooking too.

3 small eggplants, peeled, cut into pieces and soak in water (room temperature)
10 okra (ladies' fingers), cut off heads and tails
7 cherry tomatoes

I love to put heaps of vegetables in my Asam Pedas. Saves the trouble of preparing another vege dish actually.

salt and palm sugar to taste

1. Put the garlic, ginger, galangal, turmeric root, coriander root and dry chili in food processor. Press the button and make sure everything binds into a smooth paste.

Don't you love the food processor? It makes kitchen work a breeze.

2. Heat the cooking vessel, I prefer to use a claypot for this dish. Pour oil once pot is heated through.
3. Fry onion in hot oil, until caramelised, then put in the shrimp paste. Fry for about 1 minute.
4. Next, pour the paste from the food processor into the pot. Mix and stir fry until fragrant.
5. When the mixture is somewhat dry and cooked (the Malaysian term is "pecah minyak"), put in the fish cutlets.
6. Mix tamarind paste with a cup of water and pour mixture on fish. Crush lemongrass with mortar and throw into pot too. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes, add a bit more water if the gravy dries up.
7. When fish is almost cooked (tender but not flaky), throw in the accompanying vegetables.
8. Put in about 1 tsp salt and 3 tsp brown or palm sugar.
9. Let simmer until vegetables are soft and fish is fully cooked. Remove from heat and serve.

Best served with rice. Bon appetit!

Unfortunately, the Canadian customs confiscated the parcel containing this dish that we couriered to you, Uncle Lee. So, you going to have to buy that ticket and come here.

We'll have dinner at my place. It's OK, Prince William has gone back to England. purrr.....meow!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Up in the Air

No, I'm not going to write about George Clooney's latest movie. I am inspired by a new blogger friend's latest entry. Check out latest additions to my blogroll - it's Enida, all the way from Moscow.

We were 30,000ft in the sky when Mama decided to test the zooming power of her new toy. The clouds look totally different compared to when you look up at them from below. Will never look at the clouds the same way again.

Doesn't this one remind us of the fairytale: Jack and the Beanstalk? I imagine this is where the giant's castle would be. Look closely, it could be there.

I call this the fairy floss clouds. Doesn't it look like spun sugar? White, not pink though.

A sea of clouds? Blue sky = the sea, white clouds = waves...come on, be imaginative!

Hmmmm...what's this one? Islands of clouds?

The patches of clouds over an island. Looks like patches of grey hair on someone's head. teeheehee....Yup! The zoom lens is super duper.

Angelina, are you daydreaming again?

Yes, Mama...I am...! purrr....meow!