I feel a bit bashful for putting up a recipe for Chicken Rice.  There are countless versions on the internet, many handed down from mothers or mums’ mums, others gleaned from chefs who sell chicken rice for a living, and most written by Chinese, and rightly so because Chicken Rice as we know it is Hainanese in origin.  And if you didn’t know (though I’m sure you do.  Right?) the Hainanese are Chinese.

But here I am, this Malay chick who looks sort of Chinese, whose accent has an identity crisis, who’s spent more than half her life away from her non-birthplace of Singapore, is going to share with you her version of Hainanese Chicken Rice.

At this point, I’m writing this post to myself because I’m sure at the end of that last paragraph, anyone reading would have shut their browser tab on me.  So I console myself that this post is for me to remember, for posterity, for my children when they’re grown, given I’m still around to pay for my domain. Read More →

IMG_6627Friends, it’s been awhile.

My family and I are about to move countries again so we’re a tad over our heads in a reasonable amount of panic trying to breathe.  The goings on here have been anything but interesting as we are too busy doing, not enough enjoying.  But today was a little different because my parents were in town and they kept my kids happy in the living room while I was in the kitchen enjoying food again.

This recipe I’m about to share is a tweak of my Nyai’s recipe.  My mother brought it around the world with her on her travels, and now I am lucky enough do the same.   Read More →

Two weeks in the middle east and I’ve got a terrible craving that wouldn’t exist had I my own kitchen out here, but I don’t have my own kitchen.  At least not yet.  I think I must have instinctively known this before I left Singapore because on the day we left, I somehow managed to have time to make this second version of Dan Dan Mian.  That or I was simply trying to finish up the rest of the la mian I had in the fridge before we took off on the plane for a noodleless land. Dan Dan Read More →

Dan Dan Noodles

It’s been raining and we haven’t eaten anything chilli-fied at home in ages.  I thought it’s time to put the chilli hiatus on hiatus just  for a day.  Enter…Dan Dan Noodles!

Okay, let’s be honest.  I didn’t know they were called Dan Dan Noodles until I googled “la mian spicy chilli oil, peanuts”.   Read More →

nasi goreng jawa

Javanese fried rice.

This is typically made with a dried shrimp paste called belacan but it is very pungent and I have had friends living in Europe who had complaints made against them by neighbours because of their cooking with belacan.  I very rarely use belacan in my own cooking so I don’t feel it’s worth the space in my crammed pantry to have it there, but I know most Malay kitchens wouldn’t be complete without it.  As a substitute for belacan, I’ve found that using canned anchovy results in a satisfyingly similar flavour without the pungency that some can’t bear.  Even if you do use belacan, I would recommend you not use more than 1/2 a teaspoon, and it should be added to the wok and dry fried, set aside before proceeding with the recipe below.  Add the toasted belacan back to the wok in place of the anchovy.  (If you buy belacan, get the Malaysian variety for this one.  Thai belacan is not the same as Malay belacan and tastes very different) Read More →

Malays and Indonesians and quite certainly the rest of Indo-China, have a vast array of chilli dips, also known in Malay as sambal.  Maybe you already know this, but it is always eaten in small amounts, perhaps a teaspoon or so, on the side of your dish to add to your food as you eat your way through the meal, not to mix in with your meal to a homogenous flavour.  In each mouthful you are supposed to have nuances of sour, heat, salt, sweet, whatever the particular sambal is made of, in differing levels and strengths, lilting upwards and then downwards like a colourful song, not as a boring monotone.

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I think the origins of Soto is Indonesia, and I personally love how the word is pronounced in the Indonesian language, the vowel sound coming from deep in the throat.  I can’t say it properly myself, to be frank.  I say it the way Malays do, just simply from the mouth as it were, no deep O sound.  When I was a teenager this was one of the first major meals I attempted to cook for myself, in a tiny pot with the proportions that I visualised my mother use, which of course was a mistake.  My mother always cooked for a family of six.  This does not fit into a one-quart saucepan. Read More →