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Weekend Trip to Muar, 13-14 August 2016: Jalan-Jalan Cari Makan!

>> Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Last weekend, a group of us made a short trip to Muar to celebrate the 4th month of a friend's daughter. Just like how most Chinese celebrate their baby's full moon (1-month old), this Hokkien family celebrates the 4th lunar month of their latest addition to the family :) We were invited to the auspicious celebration in Muar, so we took the opportunity to make this our gathering as well!

As always, whenever we head out of Kuantan in the morning, we'll not want to miss out the opportunity to enjoy some warm, aromatic nasi lemak at Zaman Restaurant.

We didn't manage to order the roti canai as the queue looked 'never-ending' & we wanted to arrive at Muar by 12p.m. We'll have this in another trip.

Prices of food served here 

The queue to get the nasi lemak took us at least half an hour to get our 3-4 packets of rice *ergh* Some people ordered 10 packets, some more, some less, so we had no choice but to wait in line for our turn. Mind you, 1 packet of nasi lemak isn't cheap here, RM2.20/packet.

The rice was really aromatic as it's loaded with coconut milk, pandan leaves & lemongrass. Each packet comes with a scoop of warm rice, a slice of cucumber, half a hard-boiled egg & a ladle-full of sweet-spicy sambal ikan bilis.

Was it worth the wait? I think if you're alone, don't bother. If you're planning to order at least 3-4 packets, then it'll make the wait somewhat worth it 'cause the nasi lemak here is no doubt delicious.

Back to the topic of Muar. We actually ate almost non-stop throughout the entire 2 days 1 night trip! Per way, it just took us roughly 2.5 hours from KL to Muar or 3.5 hours from Kuantan to Muar. Not too bad for a weekend get-away, eh? Here's what I would recommend:

Pork Satay (and Otak-Otak)
Kedai Makanan & Minuman Yong Kee
Jalan Haji Abu
84000 Muar
Johor Darul Takzim
GPS: 2.0468333,102.5684276

This coffeeshop is smacked right in the middle of town. It's a bustling area filled with restaurants, cafes & shops of various trades, so searching for a car park can be quite a challenge here.

Our Muar friends have recommended us to this Chinese satay stall that sells pork & chicken satay. We're here solely for the pork satay that was highly recommended & well-loved by our friends.

The skewers of meat are grilled on a charcoal pit to perfection before it's served with a side of spicy peanut sauce, freshly cut cucumbers & fresh pineapples as well.

I have to say that these were really tasty! The pork pieces were tender, juicy, flavorful & goes very well with the cucumber, pineapple & spicy peanut sauce. I think we ordered like 60+20 sticks of satay in the end for a group of 9 people & this was on top of the other dishes that we ordered!

We also ordered some otak-otak (we're in Muar! Their otak-otak is famous) from the stall next to the satay stall (if you're standing in front of the satay stall, this otak-otak stall in on your right). There are several otak-otak stalls in this area & not all of them are tasty, so you've to keep your eyes opened for the 'better-tasting' otak-otak stall.

This otak-otak is not too bad. I prefer the prawn otak-otak to the fish otak-otak although it's spicier. We actually tried the otak-otak from another stall as well (same coffeeshop) & prefer this one as the texture of the otak-otak has less flour & more seafood pieces.

There were other stalls in that same coffeeshop selling chicken rice & wantan noodles, which had loads of customers, but our tastebuds just didn't go too well with their version of chicken rice & wantan noodles. We're probably too used to the 'heavily-flavoured' rice & noodles back in KL/Kuantan that what we had in Muar was below average/bland (in my personal opinion).

Dry Noodles with Sweet & Spicy Chicken Drumstick/Wings + Vinegar-Braised Chicken Feet
Kedai Kopi & Makanan Cheong Heng
Jalan Sayang
84000 Muar
Johor Darul Takzim
GPS: 2.0465851,102.5649798

Most of our friends who have been to Muar previously were looking forward to having breakfast at this coffeeshop. All they wanted was the braised chicken drumstick. I had no clue how it was & what sort of taste it'll be 'til we were here on the Sunday morning. This place is packed, especially during weekends, as some of their dishes are weekend-only dishes e.g, vinegar-braised chicken feet.

The main dish that we ordered was the char siew noodles. You can opt for the spicy or non-spicy version, but I thought the spicy version wasn't evidently spicy; I could barely taste the spicy-kick! The only difference between the two options is the added chili oil to the bowl of noodles. If you can tolerate a very mild level of spiciness, take the spicy version as it's slightly more fragrant. The texture of the noodles is slightly different from what you can get in KL/PJ/Kuantan. The noodles are slightly thicker but has its 'springy' texture nevertheless. Quite delectable, really.

So this was the chicken dish that they were raving about! We arrived at the coffeeshop late on the Sunday morning, so they ran out of chicken drumsticks already. We just settled for the final 2 plates of chicken wings. The gravy was actually very tasty & appetizing! It trends towards a sweeter gravy with a 'kick' of spiciness (more spicy than the noodles!) & the fried chicken pieces were just well-soaked with the gravy yet not mushy.

We also ordered 2 plates of vinegar-braised chicken feet. This came as a surprise as more often than not, braised chicken feet are just savory with some pieces of black Chinese mushrooms. This version was alike the vinegar-braised pig's trotter/"shuen qu kiok" :D very delicious! Tangy/sourish, sweet & the fried chicken feet were soft enough that the skin falls off the bones easily!

I lost count on how many wantans I had that morning. I probably ate up more than half the bowl of wantan as it was quite tasty & the rest seem to not fancy wantans compared to the other meatier dishes.

Lastly, we tried their curry fish balls as well. The curry gravy was delicious, but I didn't find the fish balls anything spectacular. I won't mind ordering this again as a snack.

Sai Kee Kopi Serbok Sdn. Bhd.
> Muar 434 Coffee (Elephant Bean)
Jalan Maharani
84000 Muar.
Tel: (+606) 951 3046
Business hours: 8:00a.m. - 5:30p.m. daily
GPS: 2.050318,102.5700328
URL: http://www.saikee.com/

Our friends were also very keen to buy some of Muar's coffee back to KL. I didn't know that Muar was well-known for their coffee, so I just had to try 'em out by buying 2 packets home.

This brand name is apparently the most famous in Muar & they even have a cafe for people to enjoy their coffee together with some cakes & food.

The cafe was nicely decorated with all sorts of coffee packets, coffee-making equipment & antiques that were part of the brand name's history.

It was packed on a Sunday afternoon, so I'm quite sure that there's something good about their coffee, eh?

Map taken from the company's website

Otak-Otak Cheng Boi
87, Jalan Lama
Taman Sri Emas
84000 Muar
Johor Darul Takzim
Tel: (+6016) 644 9119
Business hours: 8:00a.m. - 4:00p.m. daily except Wednesdays (close on Wednesdays)
GPS: 2.0497761,102.5712951

Right before heading back to KL/Kuantan, we just had to buy some Muar otak-otak back, so Cheng Boi was the most recommended. The shop was extremely packed with customers & they act really swiftly in packing up your packets of otak-otak for you, so you just have to know what you want before arriving at the shop!

I didn't have much time to look around & take more photos as we were rushing to head back home before dinner. As you can see from the photo above, you can buy the frozen otak-otak to bring home & steam or you can just order the otak-otak sticks to be eaten immediately.

We had loads of fun during this short 2 days 1 night trip & we're surely looking forward to the next trip together! Where next....? :D

The main purpose of our trip to Muar :)

Love weekend get-aways!


Home-Cooked: Baked Chicken with Lemon Pepper Salt

>> Thursday, August 11, 2016

I've been really busy at work & also spending more time experimenting of various dishes, plus I'm slightly too lazy to blog of late, so I've been MIA for 2 weeks. So sorry! I'll share the recipes & experiences more promptly :)

Baking chicken or making 1-pot/pan meals is really easy that everyone could do it without much problems. You'll have less to clean up & you can get a wholesome, delicious, & healthy home-cooked meal with less hassle.

Since I've posted it on FB, many people have shown interest in doing this themselves & were asking me for tips, recipe, instructions...etc. Frankly speaking, there isn't any set recipe that I follow, but I'll give a rough estimation of what I did that evening. It's very similar to one of the recipes that I've shared on my blog 2 years ago :) The one difference is that I pre-cooked the vegetables to speed up the overall baking time & to ensure that I don't end up having semi-raw tasting vegetables.

  • Pieces of chicken [up to you how many pieces & how large each piece is; I would recommend having the chicken pieces to be 1/8 of the whole chicken as it’ll cook faster than a whole chicken] I just had 6 pieces of chicken, so the recipe is catered for this amount
  • 2 cups brocolli, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup baby carrots/carrots, macedoine/large-diced/cut into sticks
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, cut into wedges only after it's half-cooked (see instruction of pre-cooking vegetables below)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled & crushed (depends on how 'garlicy' you like your dish to taste)
  • 1 medium-size yellow/red onion, peeled & cut into '6 sections'
  • 1 packet of brown Shimeji mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil/olive oil
  • 1 ½ tsp rosemary [I used dry rosemary]
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon-pepper salt [If you don't have lemon pepper salt, you can use juice of half a lemon + slices of that half lemon, 1 tsp of crushed black pepper, 2 tsps of salt - these are ALL my approximates only yea?]
  • 1 tsp/ 3-4 dashes of L&P sauce
  • 1 tbsp whisky
  • Electric oven
  • Non-stick baking tray
  • Aluminum foil
  • Tablespoon/kitchen tongs
  • Small pot that could fit all the potatoes/vegetables

A. Marinating the chicken
1. Wash the chicken pieces under running tap water.
2. Drain the chicken pieces & place it in a bowl.
3. Gently cut the pieces of chicken to make slight ‘incisions’ on each piece of chicken. [This will allow you to roughly determine if the chicken is cooked or not later as well as allows greater absorption of the seasoning]
4. Place all the ingredients in the Seasoning section above into the bowl with the chicken pieces.
5. With your hands or a spatula, mix all the seasoning onto the pieces of chicken, ensuring that each piece of chicken is 'well-coated' with the seasoning.
6. Allow the chicken pieces to “rest” & be marinated for at least 10-15 minutes 'til half a day (or better still over-night).

B. Pre-cooking/blanching the vegetables (just before you want to bake your chicken)
1. Bring a pot of water to boil.
2. Once the water is boiled, place the potatoes (whole) into the pot of boiling water. (same high heat/flame on the stove)
3. After approximately 10 minutes of boiling, add in the carrots & allow to cook for approx 3-5 minutes ('til it's half-cooked, not overly soft/fully cooked).
4. Remove the carrots from the pot, leaving the potatoes still cooking in there. Place the strained/drained carrots into the baking tray.
6. Add the broccoli & onions. Blanch for 1- not more than 2 minutes only ('til the broccoli looks deep/bright green, but not soft yet).
7. Remove the broccoli & onions from the pot. Place the strained/drained onions into the baking tray. As for the broccoli, if you're lazy, you can just add it to the baking tray as well. If you want your broccoli to still look nice & green with the baked chicken later, add the broccoli 5 minute before the chicken turns 'brown'.
8. Remove the potatoes from the pot as well.
9. Cut the strained/drained potatoes into wedges.
10. Place the strained/drained potatoes into the baking tray.
11. Season the half-cooked vegetables with some lemon-pepper salt.

C. Baking the chicken with the vegetables
1. Add the marinated chicken (once it's done 'marinating') into the baking tray. Mix well with the rest of the vegetables so that the vegetables are also nicely coated with the same marination.
2. Add in the crushed cloves of garlic & brown Shimeji mushrooms as well.
3. Add the 1/2 cup water into the baking tray.
4. Cover the baking pan with an aluminum foil.
5. Bake the at 200°C for approximately 25 minutes.
6. Remove the pan from the oven & remove the aluminum foil.
7. Continue baking the vegetables & chicken pieces at 200°C for 5- 10 minutes or until the chicken pieces are fully cooked/brown. [The incisions on the chicken should have “opened like an open-wound” or you could use a fork/knife to poke through the chicken pieces. If the fork/knife could fully go through the chicken pieces, the chicken is cooked. If not, you’ll need to cook it longer; it depends on the size of your pieces of chicken]
8. Turning the pan to ensure the chicken skin is evenly roasted ‘til golden brown & crispy.
Optional: Add more water (1 tbsp at a time) onto the vegetables in case it burns or becomes too dry for your liking.
9. Remove the pan from the oven & serve hot! It'll be tasty enough on its own :)

I took this photo before turning the baking tray/pan & popped it back into the oven so that the drumsticks will bake nicely like the thighs.

It's so simple & if you use disposable baking trays like what I used, you will have 1 less dish to wash as well :D

Healthy & delicious!


Home-Cooked: Pork Belly Burger with Mozzarella Cheese Stuffing

>> Monday, August 1, 2016

Lately, I've been feeling slightly more adventurous & my mind kept ticking with strange ideas on what to cook. Mind you, I'm not that hard-working as to look up on recipes & refer to one when I think of something that I would want to try out. 'It's all in the mind'! I'll consider how I would want the food to taste like, what sort of ingredients would give me that desired taste, texture & colors, & somehow I'll just experiment it in the kitchen. Crazy indeed.

Two weeks ago (yes, I haven't been blogging earlier), I accidentally discovered that the freezer unit's power supply was switched off. My first reaction was, "Oh my goodness...! How long has it been switched off??!" Quickly, I checked the condition of all the products in the freezer & thank goodness nothing turned bad yet (all the ice melted, but the freezer was still cool). The freezer must have been switched off for at least a day or maximum 2 days!

Since some packets of meat were thawed, I decided to just try out something with the whole slab of pork belly. Without a food processor & a proper oven, I didn't dare dream to cook up some crispy pork belly (siew yoke) nor barbecue pork belly (char siew). I didn't think of braised pork belly as well or some 'bah kut teh', but what came to my mind was pork burger! :D

As I don't usually follow recipes, whatever I can find in the house, that's what I'll use. It's all up to my imagination! Here's to share with you what possibly went into the 'awesome-tasting pork burger' (as what my husband & our friend, C2 commented) with estimated measurements only :D

* recipe makes approximately 3 burgers

1. bowl to mix the pork patty
2. spoon for mixing
3. non-stick frying pan/wok
4. spatula/"wok chan"

1. minced pork (I had pork belly, which I minced 'manually' with a chopper knife), approx 450g
2. fresh rosemary, 2 sprigs (or it'll probably come up to 1 soup spoon full)
3. minced garlic, 1 tbsp
4. Menudo spice mix, 2 tbsp
5. garlic powder mix, 1 tsp
6. salt, 1 tsp
7. pepper, 1 1/2 tsp
8. L & P sauce, 1 tsp
9. BBQ sauce, 1 tbsp
10. corn flour, 2-3 tbsp
11. shredded mozzarella cheese, approx 6 tbsp
12. butter, enough for frying the pork patties
13. burger buns

Directions (burger buns):
1. Cut the burger buns into half, horizontally (logically...hahaha...)
2. Spread butter on both sides of the buns - it'll be more fragrant.
3. Heat pan/oven toaster.
4. Place buttered-side of buns (facing downwards) on the heated pan or toast the buns for 1 minute on high temperature.
5. Once the buttered side is slightly brown, remove the buns from the pan/oven toaster & set aside.

Directions (pork patties)
1. Mix ingredients #1 to #10 together in a bowl.
2. Cover the bowl with cling wrap.
3. Chill for approximately 1 hour.
4. After an hour, remove bowl of meat from chiller/fridge & split the minced pork mix to 3 portions of approximately 150g per patty.
5. Form each into a 'ball'.
6. Take a patty at a time, flatten it a little, fill the middle with 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella cheese, & wrap the cheese with the minced meat, rolling it back into a 'ball'.
7. Flatten the 'ball' of minced meat a little 'til it's approximately 1 inch thick (or less, depending on how large your burger bun is) using your fingers/thumb.
8. Heat pan/wok at medium heat.
9. Add some butter onto the heated pan.
10. Place patties on the buttered pan. Leave the patties untouched (do not keep flipping) for at least 4-5 minutes or 'til you notice the bottom starts 'browning'. Best to close the frying pan/wok with a lid to allow the patties to cook on 'both sides'.
11. Flip the burger patties & allow the patties to cook for another 5 minutes or so. After flipping, cover the pan/wok again.
12. Remove the patties from the pan & place it on top of the slightly toasted burger buns.

* You can put whatever sauces you want on your burger. We had more cheese, some bacon bits, fresh tomatoes & BBQ sauce...hahaha...We had some caramelized onions on our burger as well :)

I also had some home-made wedges added to the meal that went with some wasabi mayo :P The home-made wedges are really simple to cook. All you need to do is:

How to cook your own potato wedges:
1. Wash the potatoes.
2. Boil the potatoes in a pot of water 'til you can poke a chopstick through the potato (it's soft enough, yet not too soft since you're not making mashed potatoes).
3. Drain the cooked potatoes.
4. Cut the potatoes into wedges.
5. Season with some rosemary, salt & pepper.
6. Leave the potatoes to 'dry' before you toss it into the pan to be fried. (you may want to do this earlier in the day?)
7. Right before frying, lightly coat the potatoes with some corn flour (so that the potatoes are dry) - this is optional
8. Heat the frying pan/wok. If you've an air-fryer, you can use that too.
9. Add 1-2 tbsp of cooking oil & have the oil heated for a minute or so (if you just want to pan-fry them instead of deep-frying the potato wedges).
10. Add the wedges into the heated pan. Fry 'til the wedges are nicely golden brown.
11. Remove the golden brown wedges from the pan.
12. Serve hot & enjoy it as it is or with your favorite dip/sauce.

It was one crazy evening & a totally enjoyable meal. We were extremely satisfied. I could say that this experiment succeeded! *yay!*

Try it out. There are loads of recipes online that you can follow as well, so you can refer to those for 'safer' attempts as my recipe are all by approximates...hahaha. In the Malay language, we call it the "agak-agak" (estimated) or "lebih kurang" (more or less) method. That's how I've been cooking all this while *lol*

Hope you'll enjoy this post! Stay tuned for more home-cooked dishes & recipes. I'll be sharing on my lamb stew, home-made chicken 'sausages' + chicken nuggets, & also an attempt on the 'claypot pork belly with salted fish' dish in the next 3 posts!

The experimental chef-at-home,

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