Monday, August 06, 2007

healthy food for weightwatchers

after series of buffet meals at hotels, i decided to sort of give my colon some fibre that it needs. one of my favourite dishes is popiah basah, a healthier version compared to its fried sibling. i had used amy beh's recipes to make popiah, and i made the popiah skin on my own. i still cant master making the skin though, and as a result, the skin was rather thick. anyway, i'll put here amy beh's recipe.

popiah basah

2 carrots, shredded
300g sengkuang, shredded
100g french beans, sliced finely
100g cabbage, shredded
(i added in some taugeh...and although the recipe calls for dried shrimps, i decided to forgo it)
2 tb oil
1 tsp chopped garlic
salt and sugar to taste

sautee the ingredients

amy beh's recipe calls for a western-eastern fusion sauce. however, i experimented and came up with somewhat an original sauce for popiah

cili boh
gula melaka
ground peanuts and some coursely ground peanuts
asam jawa or vinegar

cook the ciliboh with some melted gula melaka. then add the ground peanuts to thicken it up. balance the sweetness and the heat with some sourness of the asam jawa or vinegar.

popiah skin

600g flour
200ml water
1 tsp salt
(i used the recipe twice, and you need a lot of water for this. 200ml isnt enough for you to form a soft dough)

mix together until it forms into a dough. wrap in plastic, put it aside. heat a heavy cast iron griddle over a moderate heat. rub the surface with a piece of oiled cloth. take a handful of the soft dough and rub quickly and lightly across the pan to make a think round shape of a desired size. lift the skin and stack on each one.

to assemble:

lightly spread the sauce over the skin, then sprinkle some ground nuts. put it some cooked filling then some fried shallots. roll the skin and voila!

Gastronomic delights around the world

last june, i toured england and paris. obviously, being a foodie, i would try some of the foods there, but unfortunately, the choices are not as wide as what we have here in malaysia. muslims in malaysia never have to worry about halal food, because there's halal food everywhere. in the western world, it's a different matter. and worse, the cold weather makes the tummy rumble more than what it's used to over here.

so, what did i sample over there? i had a nice dinner of chicken briyani at an indian restaurant at earl's court. well, no dalcar or anything else, since a plate of briyani cost 5 pounds. next, i had a truly wonderful nasi goreng at naha's corner, situated at mara building in central london. the nasi goreng was flavourful, but its char kuey teow is to die for. there are also some halal food sold in certain kiosks, like this one kiosk at victoria coach station. there are beef and chicken pastries, which i bought enthusiastically on our ride to paris.

you're not in paris unless you have a breakfast of its famous croissants. the hotel we stayed in is truly parisian and though modest, one can sense the parisian chic in its decor. the baked goods arrive at 7.20 am every morning, and by 7.30, we the malaysians would be down to partake this joyous meal. there are danishes and croissants and plain old robust wholemeal rolls accompanied by mashed fruits, french butter, jams and marmalade, herbed cheese (c'est tres bon!) as well as your usual coffee and cocoa.

the problem with us the malaysians is that we always think about the next meal, especially in a foreign country. so, what we did was we ta paoed the rolls and croissants (just like heidi does in the novel of the same name), nicely wrapped them up in our serviette. they were to be our lunch during our paris tour. on the second day we were there i noticed that the kitchen lady was quietly staring at us as we made frequent trips to the pantry to get more and more pastries.

i read a lot about the sidewalk cafe, and how the french like to drink coffee facing the crowd. we stopped at one of the cafes, had a lunch of wonderful chocolate filled crepes and people watched.
i had a similar crepe in camden market, but a bigger crepe, filled with strawberries and cream and vanilla syrup (and it dripped down my blouse) and i washed it down with freshly squeezed orange juice (unlike malaysian orange juice sold at our typical restaurants which is so diluted).

when you think of britain, you'll think of afternoon teas - silverware, white linens, scones and jams and tea. but coffee seems to be a popular choice over there, and it costs only 1 pound 50p for a cup. i guess this has something to do with popular culture, just like jamie and nigella are trying to turn cooking into a cool "hobby" instead of thinking of cooking as slaving yourself in the kitchen.

oh that reminds me, i forgot to find the add to jamie's fifteen restaurant in east london, but i managed to take picture with his wax figure at madame tussaud's. doesnt really look like him, i had to peer into his chef uniform and saw a small symbol of fifteen.

i always make it a point to buy a cooking utensil when i travel. over at petticoat lane, i bought a grill pan and in paris i bought a set of glass ramekins. my travelmates were amused, but then they're not foodies like i am.

i wish i had tried out more dishes, like fish and chips, but i doubt its halalness. but all the same it was a wonderful experience for me.