Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Penang Street Food

Last night (Tuesday night,10.11.09), there were four customers who sat at Table 7 wrote on the comment card that two of them used to live in Penang for 3 years. I went to their table to introduce myself and asked the couple who lived in Penang about their experience. They were there working at the International School and totally enjoyed living there. They travel and live overseas a lot but they said none other places can be compared to Penang. They love the atmosphere, friendliness of people and the streetfood. My hometown Penang is famously known for its street food. Having been recognised by Unesco as World Heritage Site this year makes me so proud of my hometown and always recommend my customers/cookery class students to visit Penang if they ever go to Malaysia.

One thing I never missed eveytime I go back to Penang is the Prawn Fritters stall just off Penang Road, next to Chowratsa Market. The stall is now run by the 3rd generation of the family. I remember thirty years ago my parents took me to this stall and it became a must for our family to visit this stall everytime we go to the Penang Island (we live in Butterworth so going to Penang is like a treat for me, my brother and sister when we were kids, so we could go on the ferry). Now it becomes my routine to take my mum to this stall everytime I go back home for a holiday. Prawn fritters is like an afternoon snack and very easy to do. The recipe is given below which I also included in my cookbook.


250g plain flour
50g self rising flour
600ml water
1teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
10 fresh king prawns
250g beans sprout
25g garlic/chinese chives
10 pieces fried tofu
750ml cooking oil to deep fry

Using big bowl, add plain and self rising flours, water, turmeric powder and salt. Mix it well. Heat up cooking oil in wok or deep frying pan if you don’t have a wok. Fry tofu for two minutes and set aside. Add a handful of beans sprout and chives with couple of king prawns into the batter. Mix it well and using hand, drop a handful mixture of the ingredients into hot oil. If you’re not confident about using hand doing Malaysian style, you can use ladle to drop the mixture. Only mix the beans sprout and chives when you are ready to fry it. If they were left in batter for a while, it will get soggy. Fry until the beans sprout and chives turned brown and batter look crispy. Repeat the same until all batter used up. Serve it with cucumber slices, fried tofu and peanut sauce dip (or sweet chilli sauce dip).

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Roti Jala in Cheshire and a feast for the Malaysian Sports Minister

I wasn’t so sure when Victoria, our Marketing Executive suggested to me about writing a blog for the customers or my ‘fans’ to read. Would people read what I wrote? This reminds me of Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City, if she can write something about relationships ( and shoes, my favourite!) and that interest many people, well so can I. I will write about my passion on food, particularly Malaysian and also some other events that make my life so busy.

Last Sunday (1st Nov 09) I catered for a group Malaysian Students, about 250 of them. It was held at Sacha Hotel. Yes, my first impression when the organiser mentioned about that hotel, I was like urgghhh! Why Sacha Hotel? For those who don’t live in Manchester, Sacha Hotel is not like four or five stars hotel, I checked on the website recently and those who stayed there only give two and half stars rating. So that tells.

To my surprise, when I was taken to their banquet hall, I was actually quite taken by how it looks inside. The hall was a bit bling bling but I can imagine back in 80s or 90s during hotel prime time, this hotel must be quite popular and rated few stars. The duty manager, Faz was very friendly, accommodating and cooperative, even during the event he was there to make sure everything was ok. I was in Ning’s Kitchen with my team from 6am the morning. The prep was done by another team until 4am in the morning. I only lasted until 2am and went back home to have 4 hours sleep before start cooking again in the morning. We cooked chicken in chilli gravy sauce, beef in coriander and turmeric sauce cooked with jackfruit, crunchy salad, bread pudding, Malaysian jelly and also one special request by Malaysian Sports Minister, some western food. A little bird told me he wants to try a bit of western food, so I can’t provide him with fish and chips or steak. I just have to settle with tuna and chicken sandwiches. The event went well, they estimated the guests to be around 250, but I think less than 200 turned up. So there is a lot of food left over. This is when all the hungry students bring their containers to bring food home. I also presented my cookbook to the minister and also some other Malaysian ‘Datuks’ (equivalent to ‘Sirs’ over here).

After seven hours sleep, I set my mind into another event on Tuesday morning. This event, I have to say I have been looking forward for weeks to do. It is a cooking demo for Women’s Institute (WI) in Langley, Macclesfield about an hour drive from Manchester city centre. I took Victoria and Nemie (my loyal kitchen staff as I know she will enjoy this) with me. Susan Kay, one of the WI members who organised the event has been to my cookery class before. So she must be impressed with the class for her to suggest to the WI to bring me to their lovely village to do the cooking demo. I had a giggle with Victoria and Nemie of what to expect when we were there. We were about half an hour late and greeted by Susan who was slightly worried in case we got lost to find way like last time. I went to visit the hall with Victoria a few weeks before the event and we took the wrong turning. It took us two hours to get there. We went through Peak District along winding roads and nearly threw up when we got out of the car.

The hall was full with the WI members already enjoying their teas and coffees with biscuits. The hall was buzzing with them gossiping, laughing and catching up with their friends. I was told by Susan and Viv (another WI member organising the event) that some of them come from other villages. So after fifteen minutes did the setting up, Susan did the introduction about the event and introduced me to the lovely members. Again for this event, I cooked Gulai and Roti Jala. I chose something less complicated for people to follow and Roti Jala will be good fun for them to do. For the curry I only did a small portion, well I didn’t expect that all of them (there must be about 50 or more members) will want to try the curry. I brought four burners with me and only two of them worked. So there was a slight panic as I have to cook curry for all of them. Luckily they have kitchen in that hall and I did take bigger pot with me and enough chicken slices. So I went straight to the kitchen and started cooking the curry. Victoria came to the kitchen to inform me, some of them waiting outside the kitchen with the plates and spoons eagerly to try the curry and those who couldn’t wait any longer went straight to the kitchen and ask me when will it be ready. Ha ha.

Outside in the hall, Nemie was busy showing them how to do Roti Jala, so did Victoria. At last the curry was ready and there was a long queue for it. I was hoping it will be enough for everyone otherwise I can imagine it will be a riot. Ha Ha. Phewwww!!! It was enough for everyone and some of them came back for second tasting. Towards the end we did the prize draw for the raffle and I presented the Cookbook, Dinner for two at Ning and also the roti jala mould. This is such a wonderful experience and I left the place with a big smile on my face. I haven’t seen many gentle smiling faces like that for such a long time. I hope they enjoyed it too.

See photos from my latest events at Facebook.