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Friday, June 14, 2013

Nasi Lemak with Chicken Rendang

MalaysianFood highlight - the Nasi Lemak! I have been planning to make a post on this for a while now, yet I have never gotten enough motivation to get me kickstarted each time. And so I fell victim to procrastination, time and again. There are some pictures securely stored in my "to-blog" folder taken from my previous Nasi Lemak cookout quite a while ago, but you know how some stuff just sadly no longer appear as appealing after you look at them for a good while? Well that happened in this case of mine; and that's me deciding to continue putting that thought on hold, delving further into the "that can wait" mode... right until now.

The cue to make this came out of nowhere just over this past weekend. I have no idea what triggered it, but one thing rolls on to another - I went on to get all the ingredients needed, and the following day - I was all set on recreating the sinfully delicious dish for the day while finding myself busy snapping away with a camera in hand. I guess it's true that you really should follow your passion at times - because when you have got that in hand, you are as good as being halfway through it! The battle will be a breeze! Well not totally, but it just feels right to say that simply... lol.

So here's a post specially dedicated to the famous Malaysian Nasi Lemak! It probably is safe to say that every Malaysian and Singaporean love their Nasi Lemak... with the coconut milk rice infused with the aroma of pandan (screwpine leaves) and ginger served with an egg, then garnished with anchovies fried to a perfect crunch, fresh roasted peanuts, refreshing slices of cucumber and a liberal serving of sweet and spicy sambal... YummMmm... it's just hard to not love everything about it really!

Just like all the other times I had made this in the past - I chose to serve it with the Chicken Rendang. There are plenty of other options out there - thanks to the bits and bits of creativity juice contributed by the many passionate people (that's the passion again!) out there. These days, there are the choices of chicken or beef rendang, crispy fried chicken, sardine fish, sambal petai (stink bean sambal), sambal sotong (squid sambal), sambal kerang (cockles sambal), paru (beef lungs) and the list just goes on and on!

The coconut milk rice recipe was one that I got from my mom - simple and straightforward in fact. This version of mine features the brown rice. Using that i=s definitely not a conscious decision made; the brown rice is what we usually have at home almost on an everyday basis. It can be substituted with the usual jasmine white rice - it's all a personal preference really. Just be sure to adjust the amount of water needed - pretty much just like how you would usually cook the plain rice - white, brown or even red.

The sambal is really what I would think as the limelight of the dish. This sambal recipe is one that I adapted from Ju at The Little Teochew in her post on the Nasi Lemak Sambal Chili. I have so far been trying a different recipe each time I make the Nasi Lemak, in hope to search for the cream of the crop. With me stumbling upon Ju's recipe just recently, I think I am pretty convinced that I can now stop looking around - this is by far one of the really good ones that I have chanced upon. And the best part of it - it is made perfect even without having the need to include the belacan (shrimp paste) in its making. That's Nasi Lemak made a notch healthier!

The previously featured Chicken Rendang recipe is again my mom's. And that reminded me... I shall be posting some new photos of the rendang to the previous post shortly - some better looking ones with the natural lighting taken in the day they are :D

And now... its making!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Italian Sausage

Edited June 4th 2013 @ 10:15am
A friend left me an email late last night saying that I may have mistaken something else for the broccoli rabe in this post. Even as I clicked on the link within the mail and read the Wikipedia page on broccoli rabe (which I had read once before I actually set out to hunt for my first ever bundle of broccoli rabe or rapini), I was still pretty convinced (but very panicky) that I had got the right broccoli rabe. So I went through a quick mental checklist. The broccoli rabe has...

  • a different appearance from the regular broccoli CHECK
  • baby florets and long stalks  CHECK & CHECK
  • a similarity in shape to the Chinese kailan CHECK
  • ruffled, spiked leaves surrounding the florets Hmm, I don't remember seeing much of these in that bundle of greens that I bought...
  • a delicate bitterness Erm... definitely not. Those of mine were actually sweet! Oopsssss

So I went on to check on something else - baby broccoli. Uh-oh... it was indeed baby broccoli or broccolini that I had gotten myself that day. Here's a link to a neat description of broccolini, a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kailan. 

And here's a link to a page that compares all three - broccoli, broccolini and broccoli rabe; and another one here that does a real great job at clearing the air.

Here I am with a confession to make - I have got it all so wrong! It really should have been broccoli rabe in place of the broccolini used in this recipe. Pardon me, my huge mistake! 

And here's to you, Huey Fang! Thank you for pointing it out to me!

I recently added this book to my cookbook collection - the MasterChef Cookbook. Browsing the new and barely 2-month-old bookstore here in the neighborhood (which by the way, where have all the bookstores gone?), it didn't take me long to decide that I wanted this. Love at first sight? Pretty much yea! It features the recipes to the many winning dishes by the final 14 contestants and judges - Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot.

And what really caught my attention with just a very brief flip-through was how they each comes with neat instructions and real attractive photos - that even as an amateur, these are the scrumptious dishes that you can always try creating at home rather easily.

Even before I actually paid for the book and officially made it mine, I had already started bookmarking the pages mentally - "Woo, the Egg in Purgatory!", "Egg en Cocotte with Mushrooms and Brioche Toast!" (and there I gestured for my hubby to come over with a "psst" and we started salivating over the food photography together), pasta! (and you'll be surprised how even the simplest kind like the Linguini Aglio e Olio looks so much greater and made to sound totally doable in the book) and a whole range of seafood! The book is that good! Well at least it is at first glance...

This Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Italian Sausage marked the first recipe that I tried out of the book. I have never had anything close to this before, so what made me choose this over everything else in the book must have been its simplicity and how it looks so attractive despite having just three real simple ingredients - the pasta, broccoli rabe and the Italian sausage.

A recipe courtesy of Joe Bastianich, I would say that it is indeed a simple dish at its best! Quoting his actual words from the book -

"An outstanding dish shouldn't be overly complex. Often the best ones are made with only a handful of ingredients. For example, this pasta recipe contains little more than broccoli rabe and sausage. The delicious simplicity of authentic Italian food is what we are looking for. When you think you have enough ingredients, take two out!". 

And simple and outstanding this dish sure is!

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