Showing posts from August, 2011

The Making of Fujian Har Mee Yoke

Hokkien mee, or har mee or mee yoke, all refer to a much beloved dish that depends so much on the inherent quality of a great stock soup (image below). The prawns or shrimps (har) must be fresh, have a zesty bite to the taste and are used, not just as an ingredient in the finished product to serve, but also in contributing to the nuances of the soup. The mee refers to the noodles of your choice (above image) but they do affect the overall experience (for example, slurpiness like in eating ramen, or a different texture, as in pasta). The yoke are the thinly cut slices of pork rib meat, with some layer of fat, essential to the aroma and wholesomeness of this dish.

A favourite of southern Chinese street food, and also in South-east Asia, is the use of deep fried shallots or cut onion rings (below) to accompany the har mee yoke. All images here were taken at the kitchen of Susan and Boo Ann Yap in Carlingford, Sydney, in a joint cooking session with one of my cousins, Mu Lan.

The quality, i…

Tastes of Shanghai and Jogjakarta

"Dan dan noodles" I read, and that menu item caught my eye. I was initially wary of such noodles; in the past, my experience of them had been bland. Then I recalled that they can be freshly made, as an alternative to the packaged versions you find in Asian groceries all around the world. My group of six went for it. When the noodles arrived at our table in a piping hot bowl, the noodles proved al dente and the accompanying soup, ala Shanghai, was chili hot enough to refresh ,but not overwhelmingly so.

We were in A Taste of Shanghai, which has outlets in both Eastwood and Chatswood, northern suburbs of the greater Sydney area. The Eastwood joint was a busy place that evening, but poor engagement with customers by its staff members, who were not very well trained in handling queues of waiting and hungry diners, did not help. Nevertheless the food made up for this initial teething matter. I was satisfied with the key dishes chosen -
twice cooked pork belly; man tou buns served …

The Art of Apparently Doing Nothing

When I do not know what to do.
This is comparable to standing at a five ways road junction and trying to figure out how to best handle the situation. I allow myself time - and enjoy the leisure of seemingly not reacting. My sub-conscious loves such opportunities - and provide better solutions and outcomes later from such scenarios.

When I am in denial.
Call it information overload, or sorting the variables before I recognise the cause and impact of things. This syndrome is perhaps best illustrated by the classic scene from a movie that's almost 80 years old - Gone With The Wind, based on the Margaret Mitchell bestseller novel. The housekeeper, in shock at the reality of impending childbirth for her Ma'am, walks away in a non-chalant manner and whistles. This is her personal way of coping with shock - and denial.

When I do deserve a break from the mundane.
I recall Friday afternoons after school, when the tyranny of commitment, structure and need to achieve dissolves in demand a…

Riverside Lunch at Woolwich, NSW

The Woolwich Deckhouse Cafe promotes itself as providing 'ideal location, ideal service and ideal venue". Located on sleepy banks between the Lane Cove and Parramatta Rivers, the cafe has high ceilings, a modern outfit, timber floorings and all round glass doors/windows. I found the rack of pesto crusted lamb (above image) refreshing to my appetite and taste buds. Open only for breakfast and lunch, it is best to park your vehicle before getting the opportunity to stroll down hill to its water side location at the tail end of Clarke Road. It was almost full house when my group dug into our leisurely meal one weekend afternoon.

Presentation is the icing on the cake to a well cooked meal. Above, the chocolate fondant served with a honeycomb and ice cream, looks pretty itself, at least before consuming it. The waiter at our table was attentive, discreet and timely looking after our needs that day. Below, the petits fours - with Scottish shortbread, macaroon, chocolate truffle and …

While I Was There

Chinatown Sydney, 930pm, on a Saturday night.

The corner of Goulburn Street and Dixon Street Mall has a bird’s eye view of the Sydney’s largest ferris wheel, spinning so ever to encourage the chi energy so valued by Asian owned businesses in the nearby precinct. However, that wheel impressed me less than the ceaseless parade of passers-by, mostly aged under thirty, on their way somewhere or casually flowing into food and drink outlets. There was a team with uniformed sports wear, most probably from Brazil. Others were dragging luggage on wheels, as if I was at an airport. Many had a casual air about them, obviously with spare time on their hands and a sense of glee about the evening ahead. Their dress-up or dress-down styles reflected the trendiness of various cities and not all reflecting Sydney.

This particular corner in fact did not echo of iconic Sydney. There was a young Caucasian couple
busking and playing traditional Chinese instruments. Some passer-bys took obvious glances of cur…

An Afternoon At Woolwich, NSW

Australia's Woolwich, which overlooks calm bays extending from both Sydney's Parramatta River and Lane Cove, has its name inspired from south London. The Sydney version is more benign in climate and offers what can be termed the leisurely Australian life style - pubs, sailing and picnics. It personifies the advantages of location, location, location - it sits on a peninsular called Hunter's Hill. Above image, the Woolwich Pier Hotel and Pub, built in 1885.

The old dockyard is still there and operating (above). Woolwich today may not reflect its working past, as now it is more of the abode of wealthy families and individuals, mainly from the UK, Hong Kong and New Zealand. The Marist Sisters College is a contrast to the Woolwich Public School

Water side views, well kept gardens and roads with a gradient dominate the character of this suburb, first settled by John Clarke and referred to in Aboriginal language as Mookaboola, or "where the waters meet". You can catch …

Zumbo Revisited

Adriano Zumbo has expanded his chain to a pastiserie at Manly Beach's East Esplanade, whilst retaining the bakery in Rozelle and another pastiserie at Balmain's Darling Street. With captivating products and sassy designs, each outlet, though small in size, provides a distinctive charm and branding. Above image, apparent graffiti gracing the wall of the Terry Street, Rozelle, NSW bakery.

"Tarts, pastries, breads, pies, sausage rolls and our full range of macarons" are what Zumbo's declare on its website as their offerings. They also offer unique macaron towers, gingerbread houses and croquembouche. Above image, the queue waiting patiently on a Sunday afternoon.

Zumbo has been innovative in creating unsuual flavours for its wide range of macarons, for example:

Coffee Creme Brulee
Fig and Burnt Honey
Salted Butter Popcorn
Chocolate Pop
Lemon and Olive Oil
Rice Pudding
Butterscotch Caramel
Raspberry Shortbread
Pear and Vanill…

The Art Of Transiting

This month, a few good mates made the decisive move in jobs, notching up another step in their career, and once that was decided and done, that act infused and determined lifestyles, environments and people in their wake. Whether they moved from region to city, region to region, or one primary skill to another, each one of these mates shall have a different choice of breakfast, commuting style, working culture, networking and social opportunities, choice of the Friday pub, money at hand and subtle but sure influences downstream.

We are often told that one of the certain things in life is change. Things may transform, people come and go, or business, weather and economy undergo dynamic changes in cyclic patterns. What is reassuring personally are more reliable and constant principles that underpin the movements in time, age and experience.

Hot things shall cool down and vice-versa.
Reflect on Nature, weather patterns and the share market. What is significant is how we respond and react,…

A Reunion At Carlingford

A classic serving of the nasi lemak, moving clockwise, first with tamarind flavoured prawns (top foreground); kari kapitan served with deboned chicken; sweet and crunchy Lebanese cucumber slices; crackling roast pork; and half a hard boiled egg.

Stir fried glass noodles (tung hoon) provided in a hot pot with broccoli, mushrooms and more ( image below) and an ever popular snack plate of crunchy and stimulating roast pork bites (image above).

Nasi lemak, a favourite traditional breakfast item in south-east Asia, is steamed with the light filtered milk of fresh coconuts and flavoured with the fragrances of pandanus leaves. Above image, a bowled serving of the aromatic rice,served on banana leaf patch, stands ready to be savoured with a dash of chili hot curry, crunchy anchovy bites, pickled vegetables (acar), roast chicken and /or roasted peanuts.

All images on this entry were taken from the kitchen of Susan and Boo Ann Yap, Sydney.

Asian Food On The Run Too

Crunchy and addictive yeow char kwai, or deep fried flour sticks, (above) are often eaten on their own as a snack or cut into bit sized cubes for soaking with porridge during breakfasts or late night suppers. Below, roast duck slices, with skins on, are a favourite with steamed rice for a quick meal.

In Vietnamese or Cambodian cuisine, dry rice noodles are an ubiquitous ingredient to mix with roasted peanuts, grilled meats and a choice of fresh aromatic herbs in a bowl. The significant choice of this dish is in the blending of tastes and textures on the palate. (below)

I never had a drink based on the unique flavours of the soursop fruit (above) but a welcome
plate of stir-fried rice noodles with your choice of sliced meats, bean sprouts and chives (below) is always reliable. I particularly love the Penang version called char koay teow.

Diggies, North Wollongong NSW

Diggies offers come-as-you-are entry. It is sited literally beside North Wollongong Beach and across the road from the nearby Novotel. You can feel the ocean breezes, the salt in the air and see the texture of grainy sand not far from your table. The menu changes according to winter and summer preferences. The cafe offers a fusion of styles -modern and traditional, Australian and Mediterranean, vegetarian and meat - but with a sense of creativity, passion and presentation. I love the drink concoctions -from Kissed to Little Tanaka - but what I enjoy most is the relaxed holiday ambiance -and looking out at those container ships queueing up to enter Port Kembla Harbour. Above image, grilled trout with a hard boiled organic egg.

As you would expect, fish and chips are a must (above, with the juice of the day, orange with mint and strawberry). Below, illustrations of a range of smoothies, frappies and other thirst quenching offers. You can choose to be seated on the out deck, inside a mi…

Newport Arms Hotel, NSW

Placid waters (above) from an off shoot of the meandering Hawkesbury River provide a pleasant backdrop to the Newport Arms Hotel. My first visit there was on a Sunday afternoon, with many families, twenty somethings and more gathered for a lazy but gregarious chill out. They were all spread out in various break out seating arrangements. The Hotel has been serving this community in Sydney's northern beaches at Kalinya Street since 1880 and borders the marina at Church Point, Scotland Island and Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park. It is an icon of Pittwater living.

There is a sizable beer garden (apparently Australia's biggest) which adjoins bistro dining. I had fettuccine prawns, garnished by juicy cherry tomatoes (image below) and one can easily access the standard serve of chips or wedges. For more discerning occasions and tastes, there is the Pittwater on Terrace Restaurant. This venue is perhaps best to check out on a Saturday night. Then one can check in one of its limited n…