Wednesday 31 October 2012

Kay Khong Eam (Chicken with Garlic and Salt)

Initially I did not have this dish in mind when participating in the Malaysian Food Fest Terengganu. It is a very simple dish but when I saw my cousin Hwee Lan's post on MFF Malaysia Facebook page, I thought it would be great to share my family's version of this dish. This dish is also known as Kay Char Eam and Hwee Lan's recipe is the traditional version.

What you need is chicken (and pork belly if you like), garlic, salt and cooking oil. The simple combination of garlic and salt does a wonderful job of making this dish so tasty. 

Traditionally the chicken is boiled first, then the meat shredded before being fried with garlic and salt. I have not tasted that version and my grandma and mum cook it differently. The chicken is not boiled but marinated with the garlic and salt before cooking. And grandma insists that the addition of pork belly adds a bit more punch to this dish. I will have to agree :)

I will also share my grandma's recipe for the chilli sauce which goes very well with this dish.

The recipe below is my family recipe and I basically eye balled the measurement of the ingredients.

Kay Khong Eam (Chicken with Garlic and Salt)

- 2 chicken legs, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 pork belly, cut into 1/2 inch strips
- 8 cloves of garlic
- salt to taste
- oil for frying

Method :
- Take 3 cloves of garlic and pound with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Use this garlic paste to marinate the chicken and pork belly. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Crush and roughly chop 5 cloves of garlic.
- Heat oil in frying pan and fry garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt, for about 1 minute.
- Add pork belly and fry until meat turns opaque. Add some water and let simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add chicken and fry until meat turns opaque. Add some water and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until chicken is cooked.
- Taste and add more salt of necessary.
- At the final stage, keep frying until the dish is fairly dry and slightly browned.

Grandma's Chilli Sauce (Hancheo Cheow)

- 10 fresh chillies (deseed if you want less heat)
- 15 dried chillies, soaked to soften (deseed if you want less heat)
- 2 loves garlic
- 2 heaped tablespoons bean paste (taucheow)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 100g gula Melaka
- 400 ml vinegar

- Blend chillies, garlic and beanpaste
- In a saucepan mix vinegar, bleanded ingredients, sugar and gula Melaka
- Boil the mixture until it slightly thick, about 15 to 20 minutes
- If you find it too thick/sour, you can add a bit of water.
- Adjust for taste, it should be sweet, sour and salty.
- store in a clean jar and keep in the fridge.

Note : This chilli sauce can be kept for up to 2 month is the fridge.

I am submitting this post to Malaysian Food Fest, Terengganu Month hosted by Lena of frozen wings.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Terengganu Laksa (Bihun Thng Ang)

When I was growing up in Terengganu, having Bihun Thng Ang was always a treat. My grandma didn't cook this at home but we got our supply from my grandaunts. I remember following my grandma to her family home in Kg Cina where my grandaunts lived. My two grandaunts (Kim Poh) made kuih and laksa to sell and besides that, they also supplied rempah (spice paste). The spice paste were neatly wrapped in banana leaves and stored in the big refrigerator. Every now and then, there would be customers coming in to buy the rempah. And kids would also drop by to buy popsicles made with asam boi or green beans and packed in long plastic bags.

The laksa noodles were packed in banana leaves and grandma would bring a small pot to carry the laksa gravy. To serve, the laksa noodles are topped with daun kesum, selasih, mint and beansprouts. If I remember correctly, thinly julienned  young shoots of the cashew tree (pucuk jambu golok) was also one of the raw vegetables eaten with the laksa. Then, we would stir the pot and drench the noodles with the thick red aromatic  gravy. A dollop or two of sambal belacan would elevate the entire experience of eating the laksa.

Again, this recipe is taken from my Aunt's recipe scrapbook and this is my second attempt. I had to make my own estimates because my Aunt only wrote the ingredients. I tanked the first laksa gravy  because I put too much lengkuas (galangal) and too much corriander powder. And I missed the step in frying the salted fish first before adding the spice paste. The gravy smelled funny and tasted funny too. My Aunt once told me that her grandaunt would throw her failed kuehs and cooking  into the river and start a new batch.  And since there's no river near my house, the whole pot went straight to the compost bin. 

My second attempt was better and although I did not 100% replicate the taste of the original laksa, I was quiet happy with the result. Perhaps I will do much better in my next attempt.

Terengganu Laksa (Bihun Thng Ang)

- 4 fish (I used ikan selar and yieled 600g fish meat)
- 750ml water for boiling fish
- 2 pieces asam gelugur

- Salted fish (I used one whole small fish and cut it into 4 pieces)
- 10 fresh chillies
- 300g shallots
- 3 cloves garlic
- 10g lengkuas
- 20g belacan
- 100g kerisik (recipe here or can use ready made)
- 100g gula Melaka
- 2 tablespoons coriander powder (ketumbar)
- 1 teaspoon jintan manis (fennel powder)
- 2 pieces asam gelugur
- 200ml santan (I used the packet santan)
- asam jawa juice (I add 1 teaspoon of asam jawa paste to 50ml water)

- Laksa noodles
- Beansprouts
- Daun kesum (laksa leaves) and daun selasih (basil), finely sliced
- Mint

Method :
- Boil fish with 2 pieces of asam gelugur for about 15 minutes.
- Remove fish and leave to cool.
- Using your fingers, remove fish meat and break it up finely and set aside.
- Keep the fish stock for the laksa gravy.
- Blend chillies, shallot, garlic, lengkuas and belacan.
- Heat oil in pot and fry the salted fish until fragrant and crispy.
- Add the blended spice paste and saute until fragrant and oil rises to the top.
- Pour in santan, asam jawa juice and add asam gelugur and gula Melaka. Bring to a simmer.
- Add fish stock, bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Add kerisik and stir to mix.
- Add fish meat
- Adjust seasoning, the gravy should be salty and sourish with a hint of sweetness.

To serve :
- Put laksa noodles into a bowl.
- Garnish with beansprouts, laksa leaves, selasih and mint.
- Pour gravy over the laksa noodles.

I am submitting this post to Malaysian Food Fest, Terengganu Month hosted by Lena of frozen wings.

Monday 29 October 2012

Terengganu Akok

What can I say about Akok? I love it! When I pop one into my mouth, there is no stopping at just one. It is that delicious. Not very good for the waistline, only to be indulged once in a while, unless you are one of those highly controlled people who can eat one or two and then stop. Not me, I am obsessive compulsive and when it comes to eating, my compulsion sky rockets :)

Akok is not difficult to make. After all, there are only 3 main ingredients, eggs, sugar and santan. And the only measuring device is a bowl as you need equal proportions of the 3 ingredients. Your biggest problem would probably be getting the Akok mould. But never fear, the paniyaram pan is here. As I mentioned in this post, the paniyaram pan was the perfect solution.

But I must say that the old method of cooking on hot charcoal is still the best in bringing out that special aroma that cannot be replicated on a stove. But no matter, the Akok would still wow you over and you would not be complaining over that little difference.

The recipe below comes from my Aunt's recipe scrapbook book with my adaptations in red.

Terengganu Akok

- 1 bowl thick coconut milk (I just used one 200ml packet santan)
- 1 bowl eggs (Mine was 7 eggs)
- 1 bowl sugar (I reduced to half a bowl)
- 2 tablespoons rice flour

Note : My bowls were 250ml in volume

- Mix rice flour with some santan and sieve the mixture into the santan (this is to facilitate even mixing of the flour into the batter).
- Beat eggs and gradually add sugar and beat until sugar dissolves completely.
- Add santan to the egg mixture and mix well.
- Sieve the batter.
- Oil mould and heat over low flame on the stove.
- When mould is sufficiently hot, pour in batter and cover.
- Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes and when the top of Akok is firm, flip Akok over to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove from mould to cool.

These are some of the steps I recorded :

Use measuring cup to pour batter. It's very neat and easy.
I covered using an existing saucepan cover. It didn't fit exactly but it was good enough. Excuse the mess on the stove, pretend it's not there.
I flipped them over after about 8 minutes to cook the other side of the Akok.
Ready to eat!

I am submitting this post to Malaysian Food Fest, Terengganu Month hosted by Lena of frozen wings.

Saturday 27 October 2012


What I remember about Bekang is the soft creamy mouth feel accompanied by a burst of flavors coming from santan, ginger, shallots and fenugreek that truly awakened the senses. But I hardly remembered  how Bekang looked like as it was more than 30 years ago (yes three zero) since I ate my last Bekang.

What gave me the motivation to make Bekang was the little banter I had with my cousins and K. Nor on the MFF Terengganu Facebook page. My cousin mentioned that Bekang is on the endangered kueh list, in danger of becoming extinct. The other kueh mentioned is Koleh Lemok. That got me excited as there is a good Bekang recipe in my Aunt's recipe scrapbook.

My problem was, one, I forgot how Bekang looked like and two, I did not have a Bekang mould. Back to the Facebook page, my cousin Hwee Lan mentioned that it looks like a big Akok and K. Nor's hubby's blog gave me an idea and led me to another Bekang recipe.

In absence of a proper Bekang mould, I found something that came very close. Everyone, meet my new best friend, the Paniyaram pan :

This pan is highly recommended if you want to make Bekang or Akok. I spied this pan quite a while back at Jusco and the first thing that came to my mind was Akok! I did not buy it then as I have a habit of buying kitchen gadgets and then leaving them to hibernate in the cupboard. Well, last week I decided to buy the pan at 20% discount, and it was indeed a blessing.

Bekang consists of a base which is topped with a fish sambal. The base is made from rice flour, water and eggs and it does not taste like much. It provides a neutral platform to carry the flavors of the fish sambal.

To assemble Bekang, the base is topped with the fish sambal and then drenched with a santan gravy. My Aunt's recipe (she got it from a friend) did not indicate any santan gravy, only the base and fish sambal. Based on the recipe from here I decided to make the santan gravy. When I topped the Bekang with santan gravy, I almost fainted in sheer ecstasy, as the taste of the Bekang was elevated to another level. The explosion of flavors was astounding. My God! It was extremely good. I tell you, this is the best d**n kueh ever! EVER!

Let's get to the recipe. The recipe below is reproduced from my Aunt's recipe scrapbook and comes from her friend. The santan gravy is my own concoction guided by the recipe mentioned above.


For the base :
- 2 cups rice flour
- 1.5 cups water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 eggs (beaten)

Note : The batter is very runny and is supposed to be this way.

Method :
- Mix rice flour, water and salt.
- Gradually add boiling water. Mix well.
- Finally add in the eggs while stirring.
- Oil and heat the mould over low flame and when sufficiently hot, gently pour in batter.
- let batter cook for about 8 to 9 minutes.
- the batter should brown slightly on the sides.
- when the top is almost set, flip it over so that it can cook further, about 2 minutes.

For the Fish Sambal
- 2 fish (I used ikan selar. Can also use kembong or selayang)
- 150ml santan (I used the packet santan)
- 6 shallots, thinly sliced
- 6 thin slices of ginger, finely julienned
- 10 fenugreek seeds (Halba)
- salt and pepper to taste

- grill fish at 180C for about 15 minutes.
- remove fish meat and using your fingers, break it up finely.
- pour santan into a non-stick pan over medium heat and "fry" the shallots, ginger and fenugreek.
- when the shallots have wilted, add fish meat and keep stirring until the mixture is almost dry.
- season with salt and pepper.
- when the mixture does not have visible liquid, take it off the heat and set aside to cool.

For the Santan Gravy :
- 200ml packet santan mixed with 50ml water
-  3 shallots, thinly sliced
-  3 thin slices of ginger, finely julienned
- 5 fenugreek seeds
- salt and pepper to taste

Method :
- pour santan into sauce pan over medium heat.
- add shallots, ginger and fenugreek and simmer until shallots have wilted.
- take off the heat and set aside to cool.

To assemble :
- put a teaspoon of fish sambal onto the base.
- top with santan gravy.

Note : Another method is to mix the fish sambal with the gravy before topping the base.

I would like to share the practical aspects of making Bekang based on my recent experience.

1. Oil the mould and put it over low flame. When it is sufficiently hot, pour in batter.
2. The batter is runny. Do not worry as it will firm up when cooked.
3. To facilitate pouring, transfer your batter into a measuring cup with a beak.

Batter poured into heated paniyaram pan.
3. Test the batter after about 8 to 9 minutes by checking the surface and loosening the sides (the sides should brown slightly). When the top is almost firm (it will have some liquid on top) flip it over. The inverted top would not come into contact with the bottom of the mould due to it's shape but the heat will cook it further. That should take 1 to 2 minutes. It is important that the base if fully cooked or else you will get the smell and taste of raw flour.

Top is almost done. Notice that the sides are firmed up and there is some liquid on top.
Flip the Bekang base over to allow the top to to be cooked. Notice the light browning.
4. To remove the cooked base, take the pan off the heat first. After removing, use kitchen towel to clean the pan and oil it again before putting it on the stove.

5. This is how the fish sambal looks like while being cooked. I should have wilted the shallots first before putting in the fish. That's why I mentioned this step in the recipe.

I am really glad I made Bekang and I hope that you give it a go especially those of you who hail from Terengganu. Don't let this culinary treasure disappear as it would be a great loss to our heritage.

Topped with fish sambal only. Still good.

Add on santan gravy, even better.
Topped with fish sambal mixed with santan gravy, DA BOMB!

I am submitting this post to Malaysian Food Fest, Terengganu Month hosted by Lena of frozen wings.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Kay Pachok (Skewered Chicken)

My mother told me that when she was a little girl, Kay Pachok was one of her favorite dishes. There was never enough of Kay Pachok to go around and she used to fantasize about growing up and earning money to be able to afford a whole badang (tray) of Kay Pachok all to herself. Ah, the things we dream of!

"Kay" is chicken in Hokkien and "Pachok" is our Terengganu dialect for the Malay word "pacak" which means spike. It refers to the long skewers/spikes (lidi) made from the midrib of the  coconut palm frond or bamboo.

Kay Pachok is made from chicken pieces skewered onto coconut (or are they bamboo?) skewers which are about 12 inches longs. A sort of giant version of the satay. The chicken pieces are steamed and then coated with a thick fragrant spice mix and cooked further on a charcoal grill. It is then wrapped in banana leaves for that extra fragrance.

I attempted this dish for the second time and it was quite successful. The first time was a disaster because I mistook fennel powder for corriander powder. My spice rack needs to be more organised to avoid such mistakes from occurring again. I could not find 12 inch skewers and opted for satay sticks instead.

Kay Pachok can be made with chicken pieces with bone on or without. I personally prefer with bone on as I feel it tastes better. A word of caution. When skewering the chicken, take care not to poke your fingers. Or conversely, if you have difficulty poking the chicken like I did, stop and examine your satay stick. I realized that I was trying to poke it with the blunt end of the satay stick. ***Blur***

The recipe below is adapted from my Aunt's recipe scrap book.

Kay Pachok (Skewered Chicken)

- 4  chicken legs, each cut into 5 pieces.

For spice mix :

- 4 dried chillies, soaked to soften (deseed if you don't want too hot)
- 5 fresh chillies (deseed if you don't want too hot)
- 400g shallots
- 15g lengkuas
- 30g gula Melaka (palm sugar)
- 35g belacan (prawn paste)
- 50g kerisik (recipe here or can use ready made kerisik)
- 1 tablespoon corriander powder
- 1 teaspoon fennel powder
- 1 packet coconut milk (200 ml)

7 satay sticks

Method :
For spice mix :
- blend chillies, shallots, lengkuas, gula Melaka, belacan and kerisik.
- Put blended ingredients into a saucepot and add corriander and fennel powder. Mix.
- Add santan and stir to mix.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Set aside.

For the chicken :
- Skewer 3 pieces of chicken per satay stick.
- Steam the chicken pieces over rapidly boiling water for about 5 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 180C and line a baking tray with foil (to make cleaning easier).
- Place skewered chicken onto tray and coat with a layer of spice mix.
- Grill for about 40 minutes, basting with the spice mix every 10 minutes until chicken pieces are well coated and the spice mix is browned.

I am submitting this post to Malaysian Food Fest, Terengganu Month hosted by Lena of frozen wings.

Saturday 20 October 2012

Kay Kutuk (Terengganu Chicken Curry)

The proper name for this curry is Kerutuk Ayam/Kerutup Ayam but my family has been calling it Kay Kutuk since time immemorial. It is another standard Chinese New Year reunion dish for us and this curry is one of my Grandma's and Mum's specialties. 

It has been ages since I ate this curry and I barely remembered what it tasted like. I came across the recipe in my Aunt's recipe scrapbook and my Mum's name was written beside the recipe title. Ah, so this is my Mum's version then! 

The problem I had was, this being a family recipe, no exact measurements were recorded. So I bravely set out to cook this curry using my judgement and I wrote the measurements as I went along. Which explains why my pen smells of onions.

I also did some research on the internet to see if Mum's version is the original kerutuk and to my delight I found many Terengganu kerutuk recipes. But alas, these recipes called for "rempah kerutuk" (kerutuk spice mix) which is readily available in Terengganu. But no matter, Mum's recipe was handed down from Grandma and therefore I concluded that it must be the authentic Terengganu Nyonya version. I also checked another Mek Terengganu's recipe, K. Nor and it is slightly different. The Malay version calls for the 4 spices - cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves and star anise. 

The kerutuk turned out beautifully and tasted just like Mum's (yay!). And it sure brought back memories of Chinese New Year past. As you know from this post, my family are egg lovers. So inevitably, we add hard boiled eggs to our Kay Kutuk. And as usual, everyone fights for the eggs.

This curry is very fragrant and tasty. I bet it will get Mum's approval and it is best served with white rice and a good dose of sambal belacan. 

Kay Kutuk (Terengganu Chicken Curry)

Ingredients :
- 4 chicken legs, cut into 2 pieces each
- 6 hardboiled eggs

Spice paste :
-4 dried chillies (soaked to soften and remove seeds if you want less heat)
- 5 fresh chillies (remove seeds if you want less heat)
- 400g shallots
- 20g lengkuas
- 30g belacan
- 1 tablespoon budu (fermented fish or use fish sauce)
- 30g gula Melaka (palm sugar)
- 50g kerisik (recipe here)
- 1 tablespoon corriander powder
- 1 teaspoon fennel powder

- 600ml coconut milk (see note)
- salt to taste
- cooking oil for frying

Method :
- blend spice paste ingredients.
- Saute the spice paste until fragrant and oil separates.
- while sauteing, if your spice paste is dry, add some coconut milk to it.
- Add chicken and mix with the spice paste. Fry until chicken turn opaque.
- Add coconut milk and eggs.
- Simmer until chicken is cooked and gravy is thick.

Note :

1. I put one packet 200ml coconut milk into measuring glass and added water until it reached 600ml. Adjust more or less water according to how thick you want your gravy to be.
2. This curry taste better after a day or two when the flavors develop further.

I am submitting this post to Malaysian Food Fest, Terengganu Month hosted by Lena of frozen wings.