Wednesday, June 26, 2013

cod, potato and spring onion stew

Following my first experience with Jamie Oliver's recipe, I decided to try another one. Even though I didn't follow his Baked Lamb Shank accurately, it still turned out really lovely! I can still imagine the taste and texture in my mouth now even though it has been years since.

Living in a country that is abundant with fresh seafood, fishes such as salmon and cod are really reasonably priced. Of course, there are many grades and varieties, but still they can be cheaper than meat and even vegetables.

I've almost always baked my salmon and cod; and I've gotten quite bored of this method of cooking. Lately I have been craving for some Malaysian food, and one that came to mind was the famous seafood porridge that was famous in PJ New Town.

I thought, Jamie Oliver surely would have a similar recipe. Or at least a way to cook cod without having to grill or bake it. I was happy to find his Cod, Potato and Spring Onion Stew recipe. Of course I don't have all the ingredients listed, but I can make do.

I did a quick fry of chopped onions and spring onions in the pot, using olive oil. (Please note that I would never have imagined myself actually eating both onions and spring onions just a few years back!)

After these have turned fragrant, I added cubed potatoes into the mix. I'm supposed to add another ingredient called courgette but I have no idea what it is, just that it looks a bit like cucumber.

Then add some ikan bilis. I'm sure his ingredient called for anchovies is different from what I put here. After this step, I'm supposed to add some white wine, but I had forgotten to get some.

I skipped to the step to add in milk and organic stock. I improvised by using Knorr's chicken cube which could have resulted in similar taste.

Then added the cod itself and continued stirring for a few more minutes to cook it. By this time I was really hungry and couldn't wait to try out the stew.

After adding some some garnishings and sprinkling olive oil and lemon juice, I think it was good to go. It was really yummy I must say, though it felt more like soup than stew (thanks to my improvising the recipe!). And to be honest, it also reminded me of the fish head mihun soup (yue tao mai) that I also love back home. The one with the milky soup and sour vege and tomatos in it. Mmmm, perhaps I could try that next...

Monday, June 24, 2013

strawberry "furuuche"

With the weather getting warmer, I somehow have more appetite. Maybe coz I'm not so concerned about trying to keep warm and spend lots of time warming up and getting proper food and heatings.

I thought of trying this really simple dessert called フルーチェ. It sounds a bit french as the pronunciation is "furuuche". Since the strawberry season would be ending soon, I thought it was a good opportunity. Sweet luscious strawberries are hard to get in Malaysia, so might as well!

All you need to do is pour the gelatin like mix into a bowl. It already has bits of strawberry in it.
(There are other flavours too, depending on which you fancy).

After pouring in about half a cup of milk, make sure to stir it evenly.

It should reach a consistency of light yoghurt (or very thick lassi), mix evenly. You can decorate it with fresh strawberries.

Since we had Bible Study at Christina's place that evening, I brought it over for dessert. They loved the フルーチェ!

Oh we had watermelon too. It's another typical summer fruit. But it's so expensive to eat watermelon in Japan. A small sized on like what we had cost around JPY400! A normal sized (like football size) could go up to a few thousand JPY >.<

Friday, June 21, 2013

magical purikura

For those of you who are not too familiar with Japanese photo booths (called the purikura), they're the rage here. Mostly teenagers and young adults frequent these and take cute pictures, usually in groups.

I've only done it once back in Niigata when I was still studying, and we were a bunch of foreigners fascinated with all things Japanese. I was hanging out with Filipino Gene and Korean Lee after a round of games and decided to do some silly poses with it.

The best thing about these photo booths is the decoration you get to do AFTER that. You can add interesting emoticons, graphics, text and all sorts of cute stuff. Then you can choose the kind of layout and number of pictures you wanna cram into a credit card sized glossy paper.

I didn't know that photo booths have become so advanced they can do instant makeover for you now! We are no longer youthful students, but with the fair and smooth skin, big eyes and thick eyelashes treatment, anyone can look like models.

This was taken a few weeks ago after church, when I suggested to try the purikura, while walking back to the station. The grrls looked rather hesitant, thinking at their age this wasn't something they'd wanna do lol!

We had fun laughing at our pictures, and decorating it afterwards. Erike, Chiharu and Akari might not want to do silly poses but at least they were game enough to come along with me.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

I AMsterdam p2

When my boss told me that we were flying to Amsterdam again, I was in two minds over it. Happy that I would be able to visit the Netherlands again, perhaps if I could take a day off then I'd get to visit more sights than the previous trip.

At the same time, I was a bit hesitant because I was contemplating back then on a trip back home. I know some people can travel to different countries and regions week after week. I haven't done it myself, so I had to be careful not to exhaust myself. Especially considering the different temperatures - less than 10 degrees in the Netherlands, around 20 in Japan and more than 30 in Malaysia!

After the less than palatable Air Asia food and quality of everything else, I was really glad for proper airline food and service. Some people would laugh because they've flown Business before. To me, even in economy, KLM was surprisingly better than expected. Everyone's heard of European and American airline service that cannot be compared to Asian airlines!

Their presentation was pretty commendable. The renowed Rijksmuseum had just reopened after 10 years of renovation. The tray mats and some food containers had prints of famous paintings.

Apparently, they have chefs from top hotels around the world to create their menus. No wonder it not just looked but actually tasted really good!

It's not difficult to make me happy - as long as I have good food served at the right time, I'm easily satisfied :)

They even served ice cream in between these 2 main meals during the flight. There's also a gallery at the back where passengers can help themselves to snacks and drinks throughout the flight.

It was a little disappointing to be greeted with cold weather and rain when I arrived. I remembered it snowing and minus 0 temperatures few months ago.

I wasn't as prepared this time with the chill, and ended up having to borrow my boss' jacket!

Orange is like the national colour of Holland, so there are hints of the colour in buildings. Pretty good choice I'd say considering they don't get much sunlight this part of the world. Guess we were really blessed during winter!

Even though it was hovering around 8-10 degrees, my Dutch colleagues tell me it's already summer! I wonder what happened to spring?

We stayed at the Doubletree at Amsterdam Centraal this time. It's a few stations further from the office, but it being in the city centre meant it was more convenient. I had switched the temperature to the "hottest", but I still had to wear a few layers in the room.

This picture was taken probably around 9pm at the restaurant where we had team dinner. Sun sets quite late over here. There was once I was walking around the city taking pictures, almost forgetting the time because it was not getting dark.

I was only reminded by my growling tummy that it was time for dinner.

On the last evening, my Dutch-Thai friend brought me to a Thai restaurant. He had worked there part time, so knew the owner. Apparently this was one of the top Thai restaurant voted by tourists. Ironically I had to go to Amsterdam to have some nice piping hot South East Asian food!

Nothing fancy about the place actually, and it looked like a regular restaurant near the touristy spots. The style of cooking, and the long grain rice really reminded me of home, similar to what "tai chow" stalls would have.

Ironically the weather turned for the better on my last day at Amsterdam. This was taken on my way to the airport. Would have been perfect walking around and taking in the sights!

Final meal at the airport. I could've waited a few more hours to be fed on the plane, but the name "Dutch Kitchen" seemed quite irresistible. All because I didn't think I could get a proper smoked salmon sandwich in Japan! :)

Sunday, June 02, 2013

kok kok and nangka

The last time I went back home, my mum had packed loads of CNY gookies for me to bring back to Japan, since I wouldn't be able to celebrate CNY this year. There were few varieties of cookies, dried meat floss, the sweet pork jerky and my favourite fried prawn rolls.

I thought I'd share some with my colleagues, and the easiest to share were the almond cookies. It was nicely packaged in a tin, and I had left it at the department's "coffee corner", which is usually where we share omiyage* like these.

I realised awhile later, not many actually tried it. I then remembered that Japanese can be super hygienic. It was after some coaxing that they would take some, then only expressed how delicious it was.

This trip back in Malaysia, knowing how they prefer goodies to be individually wrapped, I looked high and low for something similar. I already knew it would be difficult, because these would mean additional unnecessary costs, and the quantity would be so little I can't really share with the whole department.

While running some errands in Mid Valley, I somehow found these Gula Tarik Kok-Kok! To be honest, I probably never really tasted these before, but would have seen these when I was a kid. I thought it was a great way to introduce traditional Malaysian candy to my Japanese colleagues.

See, they are individually wrapped, and quite nicely packaged. Each packet has the picture of the uncle selling the "sparkling candy", and a description at the back of what it is.

I think I should start packaging some of these Malaysian goodies to sell to Japanese with a penchant for individually packed candy! Well, kudos to this company for reviving traditional sweets.

Since there was probably around 15 packs of the "sparkling candy", I thought of getting this dried jackfruit chips too. It's also something I've never tried myself, so why not? But then again, why would I wanna buy nangka chips when there's plenty of fresh juicy ones sold easily everywhere?!

This was such an unusual fruit that my colleagues were quite hesitant to taste it at first. I was almost insulted when they smelt it first, then asked me how it tasted. I had to remind myself that, I could have done the same if I was given a foreign fruit that I've never seen nor taste before.

I tried to describe the real fruit with juiciness almost similar to a mango (it's not a good comparison but hey it's the same colour!), and showed them a picture of a real jackfruit from the Internet. It's a bit hard to describe the texture because I've never seen anything like this in Japan to help them imagine it.

It really felt like a "show and tell" session that day.

 お土産(P); 御土産 【おみやげ】 (n) (pol) (See 土産・みやげ) present; souvenir;