Tuesday 31 August 2010

Merdeka Open House 2010: Food From Our Hearts Round Up

Updated 1 September 2010: Added Popiah's link for Nathan & Annie's submission

Welcome to the fifth Merdeka Open House on Malaysia's 53rd Independence Day or most popularly known as Hari Kebangsaan in Malay. As with the tradition, come let's sing our national anthem, NegaraKu.


Tanah tumpahnya darahku
Raykat hidup
Bersatu dan maju
Rahmat bahagia
Tuhan kurniakan
Raja kita
Selamat bertakhta

Rahmat bahagia
Tuhan kurniakan
Raja kita
Selamat bertakhta

Selecting a theme for the open house is not an easy task anymore since we've done Recipe Long Forgotten where we revived forgotten recipes from our grandparents days on the first open house. The second installment we have a mixed pot with the theme Muhibbah. For the third, loads of noodles were served in Mee and My Malaysia. Last year, I have picked a very sweet theme of My Sweet Malaysia.

As for this year, it got on a bit special as there was a giveaway which was won by ROKH since her submission of the theme Food From Our Hearts were chosen by the mass to be the theme for this year's virtual open house.

For this theme, the challenge was not only to cook up a dish by someone special which could be virtually anyone but one has to write how that special one touches the heart to inspire one to replicate the dish. For those who are new to this event, Merdeka Open House is not just simply cooking a dish, take a picture and submit an entry or even several entries but there's alway a challenge attached to create a story except for last year when it was relaxed.

Anyway, let's get on to the open house spread...

Littel Inbox -
bakkutteh Little Inbox (Eating Pleasure) hailed from Penang cooks up her father’s favourite porky goodness dish of Bak Kut Teh. Gee I wish I could have a bowl now looking at the amount of ingredients in the pot!

Ching (Little Corner of Mine) who resides in Colorado Springs, USA cook up a comforting dish of Tamarind Stew Pork with Daikon. This is one of the dish she had to called her mother for the recipe when she first moved to Colorado Springs. I guess recipes from our mothers are the best! LCOM - Tamarind Stew
Pork with Daikon

Lianne - Mee Hoon
Kueh Lianne (Imbi & Itchy) from Germany, reminiscing how she had helped her mother in the kitchen to cook up a pot of tummy warming Mee Hoon Kueh.

First time entrant, Taca (Supergurl Stories) from Kuala Lumpur showed us how to make Serunding Ikan Bilis using her grandmother’s recipe. This brave supergurl soldiered on to make this Ramadhan special by cooking this up for the family as her mother is hospitalised for dengue. Well we wish Taca’s mother a speedy recovery.  Taca - serunding ikan

Wendy - nasi goreng
kampung 4 Wendy (Table for 2 or More) who is residing in Perak submitted a record of 4 entries! I really salute her for her dedication as each of her entry come with heart warming story behind them. Her first entry is the ever familiar Nasi Goreng Kampung (Malay Countryside Fried Rice) was her friend Ainur’s recipe. Now this is truly a Muhibbah story go on and read it.

SueSue (Cooking Momster) from Kuala Lumpur told us how her dad used to order this Prawns Fried Rice from the restaurants and replicated it at home. I could imagine how a simple dish could leave such a lasting impression.  SueSue -

WITH SHRIMPS & TANGHOON Kong Kay (Kong Kay Too) from Kuching, Sarawak tends to spring surprises each year. This year he had gotten his mother to show us the step-by-step pictorial guide on how to make a mean Sambal Petai with Shrimps and Tanghoon. There... tanghoon was the surprise here!

Coming over from Montreal, Quebec, Canada is Elaine (A Series of Kitchen Experiments). She is submitting this Homestyle Malaysian Curry Chicken recipe that spanned two generations! I would love to mop this curry up with toasted Hainanese bread.  A Series of Kitchen
Experiments - easiest-malaysian-chicken-curry

Wendy - Salted fish
steamed pork 3 This is Wendy’s (Table for 2 or More) second entry, Salted Fish Steamed Pork is in tribute to her grandaunt. My version is the simpler one just pork and salted fish but I’m sure this taste better with the addition of salted black beans.

Ahhhh finally Jason (Ipoh Malik Talak Sombong) who is now a resident of Petaling Jaya, Selangor, is cooking us something instead of getting his mother to do it!  Judging from the photos, Jason does really takes after his mother in cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Just cross over and check out his Rice Cake with Preserved Vegetable & Dried Shrimp! Looks mean and yummilicious. Jason - Rice Cake with
Preserved Vegetable & Dried Shrimps

Reese Ang Koo This is the second time Reese from Boston USA participated in this event. She remembers her grandmother who used to make Ang Koo Kueh for special occasions  and her she is trying her hands on some Ang Koo Kueh in a lovely shade of pink.

Wendy’s (Table for 2 or More) third entry is a real eye opener as she showed us the school she was posted to in Felda Selancar! I salute her for her dedication in allowing to be posted in a faraway land to teach. In tribute to Pak Yob’s Canteen, she replicated the Spiced Fried Chicken in success. Wendy - spiced fried
chicken 1

Gertrude - Savory
Glutinous Rice Gertrude (My Kitchen Snippets) lives in Pennsylvania, USA, with her hubby Carlos submitted a Savory Glutinous Rice also known as Chu Bee P’ng. Just like any mother, hers usually got up at 5.00am just to prepare a big pot of this rice during festive seasons. Since she’s so far from home now, she have to cook this up just so the smell and taste reminded her of home. Ohh so comforting!

Wendy’s (Table for 2 or More) last entry is an iced cold  Sweet Corn Sherbet. Gee, I wished I could remember the events in my life when I was five! Here’s she replicating the sherbet her grandaunt used to buy for her from this ice cream lady in her pushcart! Wendy - sweetcorn
sherbet 5

SSWF-AssamPrawns I’m glad Angie (Sea Salt With Food) from Vancouver, BC, Canada, is participating this time round. She took the effort even though she is on vacation now. Her Assam Prawns reminded of my mother’s. She lamented that she had to do away with fresh torch ginger flower (bunga kantan) but luckily she could still get the dried version since it’s the essential ingredient for this dish.  

I stumbled upon Suresh’s (3 Hungry Tummies) blog just last week. Suresh blogs from Melbourne, Australia.  I dropped in a comment and here we have an entry of Mee Hoon Kueh! Thanks for making this on time ;-) Suresh - Mee Hoon

Pei-Lin - Taro Abacus
Beads Pei-Lin (Dodol & Mochi) from Kuala Lumpur mastered how to make Hakka Taro Abacus Beads since her mother was impaired from a stroke. Her TeoChew mother took the pain to learn how to make this as her children all loved this dish a lot. Another great example of a “yar sei hau” (hmmm how to translate this to English??) mother!  

Daphne (More Than Words) resides in Perth, Western Australia with her loving hubby, AR. Since AR is a Malaysian, she gave him the honours to name a dish from his childhood and was surprised when he said Dhal. Seriously I won’t be so surprised since the simplest food usually holds the strongest in our heart and of course tummy too!  Daphne - Dhal

SueSue -
Steamed-Kembung-Fish SueSue (The Momster’s Kitchen) submitted her second recipe via her other blog. She replicated her Ah Mah’s Steamed Kembung Fish. Ah Mah is a gutsy lady indeed to be able to take care of 5 children including SueSue and cooks as well when Ah Mah was already well into her 70s.  

I’ve met Nathan and Annie (House of Annie) recently when they were in Kuala Lumpur. They have moved to Kuching, Sarawak now. Annie is a Malaysian and Nathan is a Hawaiian. From our conversation I gathered Annie’s mother is a fantastic cook as well. This time they’re submitting her Popiah recipe but the link won’t be up at the moment since they were busy gallivanting in Sibu with Kong Kay. Hehe I’m still waiting for her to post up her mother’s mean bubur cha cha recipe!  Annie & Nate -

Little Inbox -
mint-leaves-omelette-1 Little Inbox (Eating Pleasure) submitted a second entry. Another simple but yet delish Mint Leaves Omelette which her late grandmother-in-law used to cook for her hubby. So heart and tummy warming with mint leaves harvested from her own garden! 

We have another new entrant here, Weng (I heart My Bakes) who is staying in Perth, Western Australia now. Even though her mother is a Hakka but she has never heard of Hakka Abacus Beads. So Weng searched for the recipe and they both learnt how to make them. However Weng’s mother tends to forget the recipe and each time she wants to cook this she have to go on Skype to ask Weng! Ahhh the wonders of technology! Anyway, Weng is submitting this recipe in Chinese so that Weng’s mother could refer to the blog instead of asking Weng again for the recipe. Weng - Hakka abacus

babe_kl - bird's nest
soup My entry is actually an accidental one which I decided to submit for this year’s Merdeka Open House whilst I was cleaning up bird’s nest. In tribute to my mother who sacrificed savouring Bird’s Nest Soup with excuse that she don’t like it but in actual fact just like everyone’s mother, they would just like to give their children the best!  

maameemoomoo (a ½ food blog) hailed from Singapore had just found out about this event only yesterday . She rushed off to the wet market today to buy the necessary ingredients and I stressed here pig’s ears and intestines to be braised together with pork belly but alas pork stalls are not opened on a Monday. Wow seems like it’s a universal day off for pork butchers as Malaysia is the same, well except for those located inside the supermarkets. Anyway, each time her mother made Braised Pork Belly, her dad would zoom into the belly where else her siblings will dig into the eggs first! maameemoomoo - braised
pork belly

PureGlutton - Eggs and
Mint Leaves Soup PureGlutton (PureGlutton) from Kuala Lumpur made her mother’s simplest but most delicious Eggs and Mint Leaves Soup. Her mother used to pluck the mint leaves in the backyard and cook up this hearty soup whenever she was too busy or there is nothing much in the fridge.  I always advocate “the simpler the better” principle, so this soup will be bookmarked as I usually make this using Thai basil leaves instead.  

Hungryc (the hungry caterpillar) from Kuala Lumpur mentioned her mother used to make Kunyit Fried Chicken to feed her cousins who came to her house for tuition. I can imagine the din 11 children can make but I’m pretty sure it will be quite all right once their mouths are full from chomping on these fried chicken! hungryc - kunyit

Quinn - Tau Yew
Bak Quinn (Quinn’s Cooking With Love and Passion) who is located in Adelaide, Australia submitted her recipe of Tau Yew Bak (Soy Sauce Pork). She claimed that her recipe tasted close to her grandma’s, if not better! Way to go Quinn!

There you go, all the entries for this year's Merdeka Open House. Thank you to all participants. Selamat Hari Kebangsaan!

p/s: Do let me know if I've made any mistakes or left out any of your entry as I spent a couple of hours after 2 midnights working on the round up, kinda in a blur :p

Monday 30 August 2010

Merdeka Open House 2010: Submission is Closed

Please note submission is closed for this year's Merdeka Open House 2010: Food From Our Hearts. Thank you to all the participants who have taken the initiative to take part in this annual event. There were many lovely recipes received and they came with heartfelt stories to boot. So don't just scroll through the write-ups, read them all!

Anyway, as usual *ahem* I'm always very generous, you may still submit your entry but I won't guarantee that your submission will be posted in the round up on National Day. I will put it up first thing when I'm free to add on to the round up.

Remember to come back tomorrow to salivate over the delicious entries!!!

Sunday 29 August 2010

Food From Our Hearts: Double-Boiled Bird's Nest Soup

To think of it, I really had a hard time thinking up a dish to cook for this year's Merdeka Open House theme Food From Our Hearts. Up till the last weekend, I still have none up my sleeves. Was kinda worried hahaha and I was all readied with all sorts of excuses to be the champion of all hostess by declaring that I have no submission!!! I know if I ever do that a lot of you will come after me with a big huge chopper, so back to square one. Then came this event that sparked off an accidental dish for me to serve up.

Last Saturday, Capt'n Hook asked me to cook up the remainder bird's nest which he had bought for me to cure my cough sometime back. Well, I always being laughed at by my brothers that I have expensive cure for my cough but hey one out of two times, I have to say my cough is usually better after a couple bowls of bird's nest soup! Cis, they never heard that there is no one cure for coughs, we just have to try every darn thing that people recommend!!! :p

Well, this time is for BoiBoi who is having a bout of cough and suspected allergic rhinitis. Even though the grade Capt'n Hook had bought is not too shabby but after soaking them in water, I can still see teeny weeny feathers floating on the water and also many many stuck onto the nests! Grrrrrr that's when I sat down with the bowl of bird's nest, a bowl filled with some water, an empty bowl, a small bowl with water plus a pair of tweezers.

Sample birds nest
The box of bird's nest, sorry I did not take a picture of the dried nest as I've never intended to blog about this in the first place :p

The modus operandi is place a small amount of nests in the bowl with water (water have to be changed to remove the floating feathers when necessary) . Use the tweezers to remove the feather. I have to dip the tweezers into the small bowl of water to get rid of the feather before moving on. Once this is done, drain the nest and place into the empty bowl. Well this went on till all is done. I repeated the process at least twice to ensure as much of the feathers are removed.

Feathers picked from the nests
Can you see the amount of dark feathers I picked out?

It was certainly a back breaking job sitting there for about 45 minutes sieving through the bird's nest. As I was doing this, I thought back on how my mother painstakingly doing the same for us. Well, it's not that we have this all the time but on the rare occasions when she manage to get nice and reasonably priced bird's nest. The thing is whenever she make for us that being myself, my two brothers and daddy; never once she partake any. Each time I asked her to have some, she always said "I don't like them. They have fishy smell."

Cleaned and soaked birds nest
Cleaned and soaked bird's nest

While I tucked into the double-boiled soup sweetened with rock sugar, I would always try to taste out trying to find the fishy smell she had mentioned but never once I could taste it. In my mind I would have lines running in my head perhaps she, as would all mothers, save up and give her family the best... or perhaps she really dislikes bird's nest soup??? I will never know cause she never tell me why up till now.

All ready in the pot
Into the pot the ingredients went

Now that I'm a mother myself, I guess it would really be the former. However, I did found out about the fishy smell... yeah she was right, there is indeed fishy smell but only detected during the feathers removal process. Ahhh so perhaps that smell could have offended her?

Whatever it is, here's a tribute to my mother on her birthday today for showing us her loving and kind compassion to all of us. We wish her good health and may her be blessed with happiness today and always. Many happy returns of the day, Mother!

Finish product with lots of labour  - birds nest soup
The bowl of bird's nest soup awaiting for BoiBoi to lap up

Double-Boiled Bird's Nest Soup
Serves 3

2 pieces of dried bird's nest
3 bowls of water
4 - 6 red dates (optional)
rock sugar to taste (I've used the brown one, hence the soup turned out looking brown)

Placed all items in slow cooker (alternatively use a double boiler) and cooked for 3 hours in low heat. Serve hot and best to drink before bed time.

This is the first time BoiBoi drink up double-boiled bird's nest soup. He don't really like it and protested until his daddy stepped in :p I had to feed him but when I made the second batch on Sunday, he asked me for the soup before he went to bed!!! *roll eyes* He's getting very unpredictable these days with his ever changing palate. Thank goodness his cough is much better now ;-)

There you go... my accidental contribution to this year's virtual open house. Wishing all Malaysians a blessed Hari Kebangsaan. May we live harmoniously, be tolerant with each other and be peaceful always. Merdeka!!!

Saturday 28 August 2010

Food From Our Hearts: Ang Koo Kueh

I'm glad that Reese Darragh who is now residing in Boston, USA, is participating again this year. Last year, she submitted Kek Pisang for My Sweet Malaysia and this year I'm posting on her behalf on Ang Koo Kueh. Thank you Reese for taking part in this year's Merdeka Open House.

Here's her entry:

Reese Ang Koo

I remember how my grandma used to make Ang Koo Kueh for the special occasion in the family. Chinese New Year, Full Moon, Weddings and family gatherings. She made one of the best ang koo kueh in the world. When I was young, she used to have an extra special mold which she used to make a special print ang koo for me everytime she made a batch to celebrate an occassion. Sad to say, I have never thought of obtaining the special recipe from her before she passed away over 5 years ago.

On a faithful day, I chanced upon Aunt Lily's food blog. She is a Malaysian, currently living in Denver, Colorado. The first time I tried her Ang Koo Kueh recipe, I was pleasantly surprised at the ang koo I made following her recipe. It is the exact taste and texture to my grandma's. I have been making her ang koo kueh ever since. My ang koo is always pink, just like how my grandma always made mine pink instead of red or orange.

Recipe (courtesy and with the permission of Aunt Lily from her famed blog http://lilyng2000.blogspot.com/2005/09/ang-koo-ah-mah-chew.html)

200g glutinous rice flour - sifted
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
4 tbsp water

150g boiling water
1/8 tsp orange-red colouring
Banana leaves - cut into small circles and greased

Oil for glazing


200g split and skinned green peas - washed and soaked overnight; drain well
150g sugar
1-2 tbsp oil
2 pandan leaves


Mix (A) in a large bowl

Add coloring to hot water from (B). Add to (A) and mix well. Knead to form a smooth but not sticky dough.

Divide dough into equal portions and roll into balls.

Flatten each portion slightly, add a small ball of filling.

Pinch and seal the edges.

Lightly dust ang koo mould with glutinous rice flour.

Press each ball of dough into the mould.

Knock mould lightly against table and the ang koo will slide out.

Place each ang koo on greased, cut-out banana leaves.

Steam ang koo over boiling water for four minutes, then open the lid and continue steaming for six more minutes or till cooked. This will ensure that the pattern comes out sharp and clear after cooking.

Remove ang koo from steamer and brush lightly with oil to prevent them from sticking to one anotherand also to get the sheen.

To make the filling:

Steam green peas in a steamer for 20-30 minutes or till soft.

Pulse the steamed green peas in the food processor.

Pour into a big microwable glass bowl, add in all filling ingredients and cook in the microwave on high till mixture is almost dry.

Remove the pandan leaves and leave aside to cool.

Roll green pea paste into small balls and set aside to be used as filling.

Serves 18 to 20 small ang koo

Thursday 26 August 2010

3 Days to Closing of Submission

3 more days for you to submit your entry(ies) for Merdeka Open House 2010 with the theme Food From Our Hearts.

Those who have submitted, thanks so much for participating!

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Happy Birthday to all August Babies

Just a quickie announcement. Today is our baby aka BoiBoi's eighth birthday. Oh boy, has he grown or what!?! Just early this year his head is below my shoulder but now he's beyond and growing fast! Which reminds me that I need to go shop for more long trousers for him :p


We both wish you a wonderful birthday filled with love, compassion and happiness. Have a blessed 8th birthday!

Love you lots,
Daddy & Mummy


Also, Birthday shoutouts to more August babies, J (7th), LL (18th), DL (20th),  Lisa (21st), myself (25th, kekeke yeah to save you guys the trouble for wishing me tomorrow), Dafthamsta (26th), Lyrical Lemongrass (27th) and my mom (29th).

Wishing you all the great things in life, hope this day will bring an extra share of all that makes you happiest. May each and every passing year bring you wisdom, peace and cheer.

Happy Birthday!!!

p/s: Edited on 25th August 2010 to add in J and LL

Monday 23 August 2010

Cheese Tasting with Mark ‘The Cheese Dude’ Todd @ O Gourmet Food Hall

I received an invite from Ling of O Gourmet Food Hall at Bangsar Shopping Centre just a few days before the cheese tasting event two Fridays back. I asked Capt'n Hook if he's interested and he immediately said yes. I knew he would love to attend this as he loves his cheeses. I joined in since I was available that morning hehe.

The Real California Cheese

We were amongst the first to arrive and managed to catch up with Ling on the introduction of hmmm they believed could be Kuala Lumpur's first climate control Cheese Room. This room is located right where the fresh fruits section used to be, next to the wine cellar. Ling informed that the full stock of cheeses have yet to arrive hence, the room looked a little sparse but by now, they should be fully stocked. The cheeses are imported from Europe, USA and also Australia come in all sorts of types and textures such as fresh, soft, semi-hard, hard, very hard, spiced and flavoured! We've also met Kenneth Wee of Total Agri Marketing who is representing California Milk Advisory Board in Malaysia. He gave me quite an insight on cheeses as well. Hopefully, he won't forget us for the next coming tasting :p

The Cheese Room

The Cheese Room

Varieties of cheeses

Each type of cheeses have the signature signage next to them explaining the where they're originated, what they're made of, how they were processed and how to use them. There are advisors around to help you with your choices and which wine to pair with. You'll also get to taste the cheeses before succumbing to any purchase which is a great thing as there are times we did not like the cheeses we bought off the shelf.

More cheese

Blue Stilton

Parmiggiano Reggiano

Grana Padano

Before the tasting started, Ling introduced to the crowd Mark Todd who is better known as ‘The Cheese Dude’. Mark, who is with California Milk Advisory Board, gave us a briefing on the various types of cheeses and answering questions fielded by the attendees.

Mark "The Cheese Dude" Todd

In the span of half and hour, we've learnt so much about cheeses, how to store them, when to dump them etc. BTW, you'll need to store your cheeses in airtight containers, else double wrap with shrink wraps as it can cross contaminate your other food in the fridge. It's mighty all right to eat cheeses with dark or blue molds on them but never when you see PINK molds. Dangerous stuff there so do dump them when you see pink spots.

Part of the crowd at the tasting

Let's get on to the 7 types of cheeses that we got tasted. Mark explained each of these cheeses, their characteristics, pungency etc as we go along with the tasting.

The first was a soft Camembert. This one's rather mild with a creamy centre.


The second served is an alpine cheese made with raw milk and aged 7 months. It's known as Lionza. This is a remarkable one, one of my fave that day. To me it tasted nutty and brittle.


These are cheddar. Light yellow in colour, mild in taste as well.


Check the next one out! Very special as it's my first time seeing one with an outter purple hence making this the memorable one. This is actually cheddar soaked in cabernet sauvignon, yes yes, red wine which explained the purple colour on the outside. I can smell the fragrant wine aroma as I bite into one. A unique one indeed, something you can get to wow your guests.

Cheddar soaked in cabernet sauvignon

Then came the mildest of all blue cheeses which is a brie with blue reins. Mark said this is the "training wheels" for those who are intolerant of blue cheese *ahem* like moi. I really really hesitated but I took the tiniest bite from Capt'n Hook's slice and seriously I'm not sure its physchological or not, I still can't bear this.

Mild Blue Cheese

Poofff then came the stinky one, the fully aged blue cheese. I can smell this even I stood pretty far away from the plate! No comment but Capt'n Hook and Nigel were enjoying this one whilst Allan and myself stayed far far away.

Blue Cheese

Then Mark introduced the last lot for the tasting. As he explained that this cheese is very pungent akin to smelly feet or socks that were worn for weeks. However, Mark said the taste is spectacular as opposed to the smell! I shudder thinking that it could be worse than the blue cheese. Surprisingly, when the platter came by, it didn't smell as bad though. I braced myself for a slice and surprise surprise, it was indeed very pleasant to the mouth and tasted good too but a tad salty. I grabbed a piece of cracker and it was indeed all right when I took the subsequent bites. Remember the name for this cheese... Schloss.


We both have a very educational morning with Mark, tummy filled with the yummy cheeses. Ahhhh this is blissful. Thanks to Mark Todd, Ling of O Gourmet Food Hall, Vivian of BRDB and the rest who made this happen.

Since we were already there, we went over to Just Heavenly counter to check out their addition of a new display fridge. New fridge means more cakes!!! *drools*

Raya cakes

On display too were the raya cakes that you could order for this coming Hari Raya and Ramadhan. Do check out the details over at their website. They're so beautiful ain't it? Best as gifts for your Muslim friends this festive season.

Raya Cake

Raya Cakes

O Gourmet Food Hall
East Wing, Ground Floor
Bangsar Shopping Complex
285 Jalan Maarof
59000 Bangsar
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 2094 9966
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Opening Hours: Mon - Sun 9.00am - 10.00pm

Blog Revamping

Hello... I'm in the midst of revamping my blog to make my life a little easier. So do not be alarmed as work is still under construction.

16 Oct 2012