Tag Archives: curry

Yes, I Can

2 Aug

This month’s Don’t Call Me Chef challenge put me in a real tizzy: cooking with canned food. I  admit that I always have some canned food stocked in my pantry. Usually it’s a can or two of green peas (my all-time favourite can food which I featured in the column),  a can of Campbell’s soup (a quick sauce/casserole solution), a can of chickpeas (when cravings leave you no time to soak dry beans overnight) and a few cans of pureed tomatoes – Italian variety tomatoes, cut and sometimes herbed are such a wonderful shortcut.

My, it does seem like I use canned food quite a bit. Anyhow, looking at my stock, I realised that nothing I had was quite exciting enough to be featured. Except the green pea because nothing compared to canned green peas. Yes, I will stand by this.

I usually feature recipes that I am inspired by but this time I decided to use this space to report on my first encounter with a canned food I am unfamiliar with. For that, I had to go grocery shopping. Oh Joy. I decided to scout around: visiting small sundry shops as well as big-chain grocery shops — just so that I could suss out the selection.

Like a kid in a candy store (or a dude in a tool shop) I spent hours looking at canned food. The kind of food Michael Pollan would balk at. Canned beets, spinach, sliced potatoes, refried beans, sauerkraut, canned raspberries, pineapple, mandarin oranges … the choices were endless and, mind you, that’s only the vegetarian options. For meat eaters, there’s more to play with: anchovies, corned beef, luncheon meat and spam.

I really wanted to buy the canned chestnuts and artichoke hearts but at RM15 a can (a small one at that) I was hesitant. Well, actually I turned around and walked the other way, down the next aisle.

I found what I wanted in my neighbourhood shop: Kedai Runcit Peng Soon. My choice was a can of fake meat or “mock chicken”. Made wholly out of gluten, this was a challenge indeed. Firstly, the texture of the canned gluten is rubbery. Next, the taste is salty because of the brine in which it sits.  The canned gluten is  actually pre-cooked but you will not want to eat it as is. Salty with a tinge of chemical is not really appetizing. On the plus side,  the canned meat was visually interesting because the fake meat actually had fake chicken skin.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I decided to make a curry with the mock chicken. While I couldn’t alter the rubbery texture of the gluten, I discovered that sugar and spice can make anything nice. Cinnamon, star anise, curry powder, ginger, garlic, shallots and lemon grass and a little coconut milk made this gluten curry a tasty side dish which I ate with plain white bread.

The verdict: Would I used canned gluten again? Probably not but it isn’t because the dish wasn’t tasty; rather, why used a canned alternative when using fresh ingredients are not only tastier but easier?

Red hot curry

12 Jun

I had a hankering for something spicy tonight. Nothing other than curry can satisfy this craving and I decided on Thai curry. Wonderful Thai red curry made from scratch.  Making the curry paste is a cinch.

You will need

9-10 dried red chillies, blanched and cut small

2 thin slices  galangal (blue ginger), chopped

3 stalks serai (lemongrass), outer layer removed, roughly chopped

2 tbsp onions, chopped

1 tbsp veg prawn paste

4 cloves  garlic, chopped

3 lime leaves, roughly chopped

1 tsp black peppercorn

2tbsp coriander powder and 2 tsp  cumin powder

Toast the cumin and coriander powders on low heat till fragrant (about 5-6 mins). Set aside.

Pound the rest of the ingredients, bit by bit so as not to crowd the mortar.  Pound it till you get a smooth paste.

Heat 2 tbsp oil and when hot, add the paste. Remove when the oil seperates from the mixture, about 6-8 mins. Season with salt before removing (about 1/2 tsp). Set aside to cool.

Red Curry Chicken

1 cup veg chicken, cubed

1 potato, cubed

3 tbsp red curry paste

1/4 cup yoghurt/coconut cream

salt and pepper to taste

curry leaves

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saucepan/wok. Fry chicken and potato cubes till slightly golden. Remove, keep the heat on.

Add curry paste and after a couple of minutes add the yoghurt/cream. When it starts to boil, lower heat and add the chicken and potato and cook till the curry dries up. Season. Top with chopped roasted peanuts.

The paste can be used for wet and dry curries: I opted for the latter and made a dry vegetarian chicken curry.

Curry-ing Flavour

8 Dec

You can Curry Mee anytime.

My good friend Sumi who now resides in Perth, Australia  recently urged me to post more Asian recipes on my blog. Her ulterior motive — if I perfected some popular Malaysian dishes, I could present them to her when she came visiting next March. I guess when you’re away, you crave local food. Even in Asian-filled Perth?? Hmmm..

I laughed. And then I realised she was right. Which is strange because I generally prefer spicy Asian cuisine to Western food.

I decided to deliberately put away my oven mitts for a while and try some of my favourite Asian dishes. My first: curry mee/k.teow/bihun. I haven’t ever tried it before and so I looked up some recipes and modified them to suit my vegetarian sensibilities — namely, omitting the prawn paste, chicken stock and meat, etc.

It wasn’t that difficult. I cooked for two: one vegetarian and one non-vegetarian. Instead of using chicken stock, I used purely vegetarian stock. Instead of cooking the chicken meat in the curry, I cooked it seperately (steamed) and shredded it and used it as a garnish, almost. In the end, the vegetarian version was more popular and I had to share my portion with the strict non vegetarian.

Victory? Nahhhh…. *wink*

♣ Curry Mee

Your choice of noodles: Yellow mee/k.teow/bihun (or mix)
2 big handfuls of taugeh, blanched

2 large sheets bean curd — soaked for a couple of mins in water
Fried onions (for garnish).
For the curry
1 cup coconut milk (or milk/yoghurt if you prefer)
1 cm tumeric, cut
1 cm ginger, cut
2 pcs serai (the white part only), sliced
3 candlenuts
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion or 7 shallots, sliced
4 or 5 dried chillies, blanched and cut
4 cups vege stock
4 taufu puffs, quartered
8 vegetarian fish balls, optional
vegetable oil
Blanch noodles and taugeh, set aside.
(for non veg, shred the cteamed chicken and set aside)
Fry an omelette, cut into thin slices

Blend or pound turmeric, ginger, lemon grass, candlenuts, dried chilies, onions and garlic into a fine paste. Heat the oil and fry the paste until fragrant. Add in the stock and bring to boil. Add the veg fish balls and then 5 mins later,  the coconut milk and salt and cook on low heat. When it simmers, add the taufu puffs and bean curd. Bring to boil.

To assemble: Add the noodle (and chicken) in bowl. Pour as much curry as you wish. garnish with taugeh, egg and chicken and fried onions