Foods Archives - New Malaysia News

Noma gets two Michelin stars in latest Nordic guide
Noma 2.0 — Picture courtesy of Jason Loucas via AFP COPENHAGEN, Feb 20 — Noma 2.0 as it called itself following its re-opening as a seasonal, urban farm-to-table restaurant last year, has been given a two Michelin-starred standing in the latest guide for Nordic countries 2019.Overall, Michelin gave three new restaurants in Stockholm, the Faroe Islands and Copenhagen two stars, a rating that denotes “excellent cooking, worth a detour.”The restaurants are Gastrologik in Stockholm; KOKS in the Faroe Islands; and Noma in Copenhagen. Inspectors note that all three restaurants subscribe to a culinary philosophy that emphasises local and seasonal ingredients.KOKS chef Poul Andrias Ziska also received the Michelin Nordic Young Chef 2019 award for his creativity, technical skill and passion.Four restaurants unlocked their first Michelin star, expanding the group to 51. They include FAGN and Credo in Trondheim, Norway: Alouette in Copenhagen and Palace in Helsinki.A Welcome and Service award was also given to the team at Henne Kirkeby Kro in Henne, Denmark. — AFP-Relaxnews [...]
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Garlic in Sesame Oil: Bitter, Sweet and Delicious
Garlic in sesame oil and soya sauce to elevate your dishes Garlic is good for you. It can combat the common cold and has numerous other health benefits. Lucky for us, Malaysians use a lot of garlic in our everyday cooking. Even as a condiment! Goodness of Garlic What you can say about this ingredient? Well, for starters, it is in the category of superfoods. Garlic is linked to reducing and possibly even preventing major health issues such as heart disease, stroke and cancer. Eating garlic often can possibly reduce your risk of brain-related conditions such as Alzheimers and dementia. Now if that isn’t awesome enough, garlic can also help with hair-loss. Yes, it’s true! Apparently, garlic is full of vitamin C which boosts collagen production that helps stimulate hair growth. Hmmm… Perhaps this calls for a recipe for a scalp rub made with coconut oil and minced garlic. We will be smelling like stir-fry but, hey, it’s a small price to pay for a full head of hair.   Essential Garlic The fact that eating garlic regularly can be linked to a multitude of positive health benefits is great but, to be honest, Malaysians just use garlic in our food because it is an important flavour component. It adds an essential aromatic and pungent taste which is at once bitter and sweet. Other than the usage of garlic as one of many ingredients in our recipes, garlic also happens to be a condiment added to dishes. From Hainanese Chicken Rice to Prawns in Steam Egg Whites to many noodle dishes, some form of a side of garlic in sesame oil is necessary and elevates the dish. Garlic in Sesame Oil Here’s a quick garlic in sesame oil recipe we use to add oomph to many of our steamed seafood and rice dishes. Ingredients: 10 g garlic, about 2 large cloves 3 tbsp sesame oil 1 tbsp light soy sauce ½ tsp sugar 1/8 tsp coarsely ground black pepper ½ lime, juice only Method: Slice the garlic finely. You can use a mandolin to make life easier. Be careful with your fingers! In a small pan, add sesame oil and garlic. Try spreading the garlic out in a single layer so it cooks more evenly. Fry over high heat until the edges have browned slightly. It should look like it has a chewy caramelized texture. You don’t need to stir the garlic as it cooks. Try to spread out the garlic slices so that they can cook evenly   The smell of garlic fried in sesame oil is amazing! Once the garlic slices are cooked, transfer them to a bowl along with half a teaspoon of the garlic sesame oil. Add light soy sauce, sugar, pepper and lime juice. Stir to combine. You know when the garlic is ready when you see the edges turn a light golden brown.   Drizzle over chicken rice dishes or steamed seafood. There you have it! Enjoy!   From Garlic to Crispy Chilli Oil Many of our Malaysian favourite dishes include essential sides such as this garlic in sesame oil. It truly completes a dish. Other dishes may call for different but equally delicious condiments. These may include fried shallots and crispy chilli. Yum! Check out our recipe and the technique behind making fried shallots which are extra crunchy. Crispy fried shallots are perfect tossed on top of rice or noodles of any kind. A favourite condiment of many Malaysians has also got to include Crispy Chilli Oil. Malaysians love spicy food and this condiment can practically be added to any dish; besides dessert of course. It adds a hit of fire and a bit of crunch.   The post Garlic in Sesame Oil: Bitter, Sweet and Delicious appeared first on Butterkicap. [...]
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How to Avoid Fatty Liver Disease
In the documentary Supersize Me, Morgan Spurlock eats exclusively at McDonald’s for a month and predictably his weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol go up, but so do his liver enzymes, a sign his liver cells are dying and spilling their contents into the bloodstream. His one-man experiment was actually formally replicated. A group of men and women agreed to eat two fast food meals a day for a month. Most of their liver values started out normal, but, within just one week, most were out of whack, a profound pathological elevation in liver damage. What’s happening is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the next global epidemic, as I discuss in my video How to Prevent Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Fatty deposits in the liver result in a disease spectrum from asymptomatic fat buildup to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which can lead to liver scarring and cirrhosis, and may result in liver cancer, liver failure, and death. NAFLD is now the most common cause of chronic liver disease in the United States, affecting 70 million Americans, nearly one in three adults. Fast food consumption is a great way to bring it on, since it’s associated with the intake of soft drinks and meat. Drinking one can of soda a day may raise the odds of NAFLD by 45 percent, and those eating the equivalent of 14 chicken nuggets’ worth of meat a day have nearly triple the rates of fatty liver compared to those eating 7 nuggets or less. It’s been characterized as a tale of fat and sugar, but evidently not all types of fat are culpable. Those with fatty hepatitis were found to have eaten more animal fat and cholesterol, and less plant fat, fiber, and antioxidants. This may explain why adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet, characterized by high consumption of foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans, is associated with less severe non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It could also be related to the presence of specific phytonutrients, like the purple, red, and blue anthocyanin pigments found in berries, grapes, plums, red cabbage, red onions, and radicchio. These anthocyanin-rich foods may be promising for the prevention of fatty liver, but that’s mostly based on petri dish experiments. There was one clinical trial that found that drinking a purple sweet potato beverage seemed to successfully dampen liver inflammation. A more plant-based diet may also improve our microbiome, the good bacteria in our gut. “‘We are what we eat’ is the old adage but the modern version might be ‘we are what our bacteria eat.’” When we eat fat, we may facilitate the growth of bad bacteria, which can release inflammatory molecules that increase the leakiness of our gut and contribute to fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease can also be caused by cholesterol overload. The thought is that dietary cholesterol found in eggs, meat, and dairy oxidizes and then upregulates liver X receptor alpha, which can upregulate something else called SREBP, which can increase the level of fat in the liver. Cholesterol crystals alone cause human white blood cells to spill out inflammatory compounds, just like uric acid crystals in gout. That’s what may be triggering the progression of fatty liver into serious hepatitis: “the accumulation of sufficient concentrations of free cholesterol within steatotic hepatocytes [fatty liver cells] to cause crystallization of the cholesterol.” This is one of several recent lines of evidence suggesting that dietary cholesterol plays an important role in the development of fatty hepatitis—that is, fatty liver inflammation. In a study of 9,000 American adults followed for 13 years, researchers found a strong association between dietary cholesterol intake and hospitalization and death from cirrhosis and liver cancer, as dietary cholesterol can oxidize and cause toxic and carcinogenic effects. To limit the toxicity of excess cholesterol derived from the diet, the liver tries to rid itself of cholesterol by dumping it into the bloodstream. So, by measuring the non-HDL cholesterol in the blood, one can predict the onset of fatty liver disease. If we subtract HDL from total cholesterol, none of the hundreds of subjects followed with a value under 130 developed the disease. Drug companies view non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as a bonanza, “as is the case of any disease of affluence…considering its already high and rising prevalence and…[its] needing continuous pharmacologic treatment,” but maybe avoiding it is as easy as changing our diet, avoiding sugary and cholesterol-laden foods. “The unpalatable truth is that NAFLD could almost be considered the human equivalent of foie gras (loosely translated from French as ‘fat liver’). As we overeat and ‘force-feed’ ourselves foods that can result in serious health implications, however, having such a buttery texture in human livers is not a delicacy to be enjoyed by hepatologists [liver doctors] in clinical practice!” Like my video Preventing Gout Attacks with Diet, How to Prevent Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease covers an important topic worth the extensive coverage the video provides. For more on how bad added sugars are for us, see: How Much Added Sugar Is Too Much? If Fructose Is Bad, What About Fruit? How Much Fruit Is Too Much? For more on how bad cholesterol can be, see: How Do We Know That Cholesterol Causes Heart Disease? Does Cholesterol Size Matter? Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s Disease Cholesterol Feeds Breast Cancer Cells Cholesterol Crystals May Tear Through Our Artery Lining How the Egg Board Designs Misleading Studies Eggs and Cholesterol: Patently False and Misleading Claims In health, Michael Greger, M.D. PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations: 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2015: Food as [...]
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The Best Cooked Tofu
Tired of cooking tofu that tastes like blah? Meet the best cooked tofu recipe. I’ve found this to be my go-to, reliable, and trustworthy tofu recipe that I can always count on making on meal prep day and inevitably will enjoy later in the week. If you’re looking for a tofu recipe that goes with everything you add it to — from salads, a stir-fry, roasted vegetables, dipped in a sauce or condiment, added to pasta, or your favorite Nourish Bowl — then you’ve found it here! This best cooked tofu recipe is a mix of sweet, spicy, and savory from the nutritional yeast (hello B vitamins and protein), soy sauce of your choice, a splash of maple syrup, an optional dash of chili sauce, and spices you probably already have in your pantry. Is Tofu Healthy? The soybean is one of the most common foods in our diet, primarily because soy is found in most processed foods (1). Tofu is made from soy and depending on the brand you can purchase tofu that’s organic and/or organic and sprouted. Sprouted means the soybeans have been sprouted before being processed as tofu, which may help increase the nutrient density. Whole soybeans have many nutrients, and they’re a decent source of plant-based protein. They become unhealthy, however, when they’re processed at high temperatures. They also contain phytates, which affect the absorption of their nutrients. (2) The soy you can find now isn’t the same as the soy crop from your grandparents’ day and age. Soy-derived products like soybean oil and soy protein are incredibly refined, and over 90% of them in the US have been genetically modified, according to the US Department of Agriculture. (3) Soybean oil also contains an imbalanced amount of Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, which in excess, that can lead to inflammation and health problems. (4) Take a deeper look at the health benefits of soy and some things to consider when consuming soy in our NS Society exclusive journal article. You can make a large batch of this recipe for multiple servings for the week ahead and if you want to use this sauce on other proteins like tempeh, fish, chicken, etc. then you absolutely can and it’ll taste great! The post The Best Cooked Tofu appeared first on Nutrition Stripped. [...]
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Tiny S. Africa beach restaurant crowned best in world
Chef Kobus van der Merwe (left) receives the best Restaurant of the year award for his restaurant ‘Wolfgat’ in South Africa during the inaugural World Restaurant Awards at the Palais Brongniart in Paris February 18, 2019. — AFP pic PARIS, Feb 19 — A tiny beach restaurant in an isolated South African fishing village was named the best in the world yesterday.Chef Kobus van der Merwe, who did not begin to cook seriously until he was 30, forages every day for ingredients on the wild Atlantic shore of the Western Cape near his Wolfgat restaurant, where he also makes his own bread and butter.The Wolfgat — whose six mostly female staff have no formal training — opened just two years ago in a 130-year-old cottage and cave on the beach at Paternoster.Its seven-course tasting menu costs the equivalent of €53 (RM245), a fraction of what you would pay at a top Paris table.But its humble setting, and Van der Merwe’s belief in sustainable, back-to-basics cooking won over the judges of the inaugural World Restaurant Awards in the French capital.The 38-year-old, who can feed only 20 people at a sitting, told AFP, “I don’t feel worthy. It’s a big title. My staff who go out every day gathering herbs, succulents and dune spinach, should be here... It’s their baby.  “I can’t wait to celebrate with them with a big glass of South African sparkling wine.”With dishes such as twice-cooked laver (seaweed), angelfish with bokkom sambal and wild garlic masala, limpets, mussels and sea vegetables harvested within sight of its “stoep” (porch), Wolfgat also won the prize for best “Off-Map Destination”.The bearded Van der Merwe — a former journalist — said that apart from the influence of the subtle spices of local Cape Malay cooking, his philosophy was to “interfere as little as possible with the products, and to keep them pure, raw and untreated.“It’s hyper local cuisine but we try to come up with new flavours, like dune celery spice.”Pig’s bladder pastaWith “no kitchen hierarchy”, he said, “we all do everything.“If you pick something you prepare it yourself and maybe then take it to the table and explain it to the customers.” The chef, who said he would not be hiking up prices, said his win was a victory for the African “continent and my beautiful, diverse country”.No-nonsense restaurants known for their affordable food featured prominently in the awards, set up by one of the 50 Best Restaurants list’s own founders, Joe Warwick, to challenge its primacy.While the 50 Best has been hit by allegations of lobbying and bias against French cuisine, the new awards claim to pride themselves on their “diversity and integrity”, with 50 men and 50 women on the judging panels.Nor were they afraid to send up industry cliches with a range of tongue-in-cheek prizes for the “Tattoo-free chef of the year” (won by French culinary legend Alain Ducasse) and the “Tweezer-free kitchen of the year” (Bangkok’s Bo.lan).Sao Paulo’s lively Mocoto, named for the Brazilian cow’s hoof stew its serves, won the “No Reservations Required” category, while the house special went to Italy’s rather ritzier Lido 84 — overlooking Lake Garda — which boils its “cacio e pepe” pasta inside a pig’s bladder.French hat-trickAndoni Luis Aduriz, regarded as Spain’s most pioneering chef since El Bulli’s Ferran Adria hung up his apron, won the “Forward Drinking” prize for the “stellar” good value wine list at his San Sebastian eatery, Mugaritz.London’s Noble Rot took a subsidiary “small plate” prize for its red wine.The “Event of the Year” continued the down-to-earth theme, going to the Refugee Food Festival, which began in France and has now spread to 18 cities worldwide. It completed a French hat-trick of top prizes with the legendary La Mere Brazier in the country’s culinary capital of Lyon taking the “Enduring Classic” crown, while the top-end Paris table Le Clarence won for “Original Thinking”.Italian superchef Massimo Bottura, whose Osteria Francescana tops the 50 Best list, took the “Ethical Thinking” honour for the Food for the Soul community kitchens he helped set up to fight food waste.Ireland scored a surprise double, with two Cork restaurants bringing home prizes. Ballymaloe House won for best dessert trolley and the vegetarian mecca Paradiso for its hook-up with Gortnanain Farm. Judges including Rene Redzepi of Denmark’s Noma restaurant, cookbook king Yotam Ottolenghi and Northern Irish chef Clare Smyth, the first woman to win three Michelin stars in Britain, also had to cogitate over which restaurant had the best Instagram account — that of Paris vegetable guru Alain Passard.While Redzepi narrowly missed out on three prizes, his longtime Noma underling German-born Thomas Frebel won the “Arrival of the Year” prize for his new Tokyo table, Inua, which has been hailed as “Japan’s most exciting” new restaurant. — AFP [...]
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Valentine’s Day the Malay Way at Bijan KL
Among all of the observational celebrations we celebrate here in Malaysia, Valentine’s Day has always been a ‘wildcard’ celebration, especially among the Malay community. Well, the reason is simple. 14th February is seen as a day where bad decisions are made which you will regret 9 months later. Well, we are not here to tell what is good or not. Nonetheless, there is no harm in having good food, especially ones offered for a limited time only.   Embrace Love Through Culture! This Valentine’s, Bijan KL, famous for presenting delicous Malay cuisines with a fine dining twist, has come up with a three-course meal set you cannot say no to! Made using all things aphrodisiac, the menu, aptly called the ‘Dondang Sayang’, consists of tradisional dishes with Baba Nyonya flavours. What makes this menu so perfect for celebrating lovebirds because it offers two dishes for every course! Isn’t that wonderful? Bijan KL will make sure you don’t go home hungry.   Love in Experimentation To commemorate your love this Valentine’s Day, Bijan KL special menu is all about presenting love through a marriage of delicious local flavours and ingredients. What’s so different about this menu, you ask? In this menu, and only here at Bijan can you find budu belachan caviar and fermented prime Angus ribeye. The name might scare you at first but hey, love is all about experimentation, right? You can only know whether you love something or not by trying it first. Our verdict? we love it! The creations are simply ingenious.   Presenting the “Dondang Sayang” Menu Mocktails Keeping it cool with some watermelon mocktail   Honeydew & Calamansi   Appetizers Kekapis Arjuna: Pan-seared scallop on coconur potato puree drizzled with extra virgin coconut oil and lemongrass espuma and budu belachan caviar   Srikandi: Kingfish otak-otak, prawn coconut and banana blossom rolls   Mains Kara Laksa Tenggara – half baby lobster in laksa baba nyonya served with otak-otak and homemade squid ink pasta   Daging Salai Angus Nasi Ulam – Pan seared fermented prime Australian Angus ribeye served with roasted smoked rice and herbal tricolour rice   Dessert Nila Seputih Salju – Wajik and bunga telang rambutan sorbet served on a bed of coconut snow   There’s still Chinese Valentine’s Day! Tomorrow is Chap Goh Mei or Chinese Valentine’s Day, if you missed celebrating on the 14th, you still have the chance to celebrate your love with Bijan KL’s unique fare on the 19th at only RM398++ per couple . Make sure you call and make the proper reservations at +603-2031 3575 or email to admin@bijanrestaurant.com. Wherever or whenever you choose to celebrate your love for one another, just remember, it is not the day but how you choose to do it counts. After all, love is worth celebrating everyday.   The post Valentine’s Day the Malay Way at Bijan KL appeared first on Butterkicap. [...]
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Rata, where Malaysian food gets a modern, innovative twist
There is something incredibly endearing about Rata in Subang Jaya, Selangor. The eatery’s walls are lined with images of foliage while tables and bartops are fashioned out of recycled wood sourced from local junkyards, lending a holistic energy to the space. The brainchild of chef-owner Vicneswara Thenamirtham (who also helms the popular Two Hands in Damansara Perdana, PJ, which serves innovative Western-tinged food), Rata was actually meant to be his first F&B venture. “Rata was supposed to be the first restaurant that we wanted to do, instead of Two Hands, but Rata’s concept is a little deeper in terms of the cuisine we’re trying to tackle, which is modern Malaysian food. So there was a lot of research that had to be done, so we decided the time wasn’t right then,” he says. Vicneswara, who is better known as Vic, spent a year studying and analysing Malaysian food, testing and tasting as he went along. The result is a menu rife with intrinsically Malaysian offerings that have been given unique twists and tweaks. Vic wanted to celebrate Malaysian flavours but with interesting tweaks, a concept he has applied at his eatery Rata. “We wanted to portray Malaysian food in a more interesting way, using common ingredients but putting them in a combination that hadn’t been done,” says Vic. He is fastidious about making things from scratch, so everything from the sambal to rendang and mutton varuval is made in-house. There is also a strong proclivity for local produce, so vegetables and fruits are sourced directly from Cameron Highlands and at least 90% of the ingredients used are proudly Malaysian. The grilled lamb skewers are tender and full of flavour. To begin a meal here, try the coconut lamb skewers (RM9 each). The lamb is marinated overnight in a slow-cooked, homemade rendang sauce before being grilled. The sumptuous rendang flavours have really seeped into the meat, which is divine – each cube blistered with char spots on the outside and yielding and tender on the inside. Next up is the grilled squid and summer salad (RM26). The salad is awash with zesty flavours gleaned from the calamansi juice, fish sauce, ginger and sesame oil in the dressing. The squid itself is delightful – plump and bouncy with none of that dreaded rubberiness. It’s a refreshing, incredibly flavourful salad that is also very accessible, as it bears a strong resemblance to the Thai kerabu salad. Perhaps the most addictive of the appetisers is the salted egg crispy soft shell crab (RM29). Here, soft shell crab is coated in a trio of gluten-free flours (chickpea, tapioca and rice), before being deep-fried and tossed in a house-made salted egg yolk sauce. This is a meal that elicits the sort of unbridled joy that only sinfully good meals can evoke. A homemade sambal is the key component in the success of the grilled marinated pomfret. From the mains, have a go at the grilled marinated pomfret (RM42). Here, pomfret is marinated overnight in a fiery house-made sambal (made with copious amounts of red chillies, green chillies and bird’s eye chillies) that has been cooked for four hours to elicit maximum flavours. The rich sambal has well and truly permeated every crevice and cranny of the fish, and when fish is this delicious, trust me, you will savour it to the last mouthful. The wok-fried pan mee features the addition of tuna, in what proves to be a harmonious pairing. Then there is the wok-fried pan mee with spicy tuna (RM28), which utilises handmade egg noodles made by Vic’s former neighbour. The dish is reminiscent of the ubiquitous char kuey teow (albeit a littler wetter) with one curious exception: the addition of yellowfin tuna. It’s a befuddling choice, one that at first seems like that stranger at a party that everyone thinks is weird, but then becomes the belle of the ball. In other words, the tuna really works in this amalgamation, lending a uniquely fishy, strangely successful, quality to the noodles. The mutton fried rice is packed with delicate spice-laden undertones. Perhaps the most triumphant offering from the mains selection is the mutton fried rice (RM36). The slow-cooked mutton tossed with rice is probably the best version of mutton fried rice you’re likely to find anywhere, alive with spicy undertones and mutton that is tender as silk. It’s a dish that will take over your imagination, living there and assailing your senses, until you make your next visit to Rata. An Asian version of the Hawaiian pizza, the chilli chicken pizza is built on ayam percik, a classic Malaysian dish. Rata also makes its own pizzas, of which the chilli chicken and pineapple (RM26) is a sure-fire winner. A local take on the classic Hawaiian pizza, this version sees percik chicken, percik sauce and pineapples atop crusty pizza dough in what proves to be a memorable mingling of Asian components. The sago gula Melaka with Horlicks ice-cream is very good. End your meal on a sweet note with the sago gula Melaka Horlicks (RM18), an ode to Horlicks and its permanent imprint in the childhoods of many Malaysians. Here, the sago gula Melaka features the treacle-like flavours of palm sugar interspersed with rich coconut milk. These hedonistic bedfellows are juxtaposed against a creamy Horlicks ice-cream that hits all the right nostalgic notes. Few meals are complete without nightcaps, and Rata’s signature cocktails do justice to this notion. Try the lychee La Senza (RM38) which is made from cold-pressed lychee juice, mint liqeur and vodka in what proves to be a yummy, fun drink with sweet fruity undertones. Not to be outdone, the dessert cocktail of Bailey’s Balenciaga (RM38), made up of Bailey’s, hazelnut liqeur, orange liqeur, chocolate and cold-pressed orange juice offers swoon points for an intoxicant that is 100% pure seduction. While Vic is excited about the possibility of opening more outlets, he is steadfast about finding inspiration from local and regional cuisine. “I have a lot of i [...]
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UK rhubarb growers cash in on culinary renaissance
Robert Tomlinson, a fourth-generation rhubarb farmer, harvests forced rhubarb by candlelight on his farm in Pudsey, near Leeds in northern England, February 12, 2019. — AFP pic PUDSEY (United Kingdom), Feb 18 — It is rhubarb harvest season in the candle-lit sheds of northern England, where farmers are cashing in on a new trend for the vegetable in modern British cuisine.Farmers in the “Rhubarb Triangle”, whose points traditionally are the industrial Yorkshire cities of Bradford, Wakefield and Leeds, have been growing the plant the same way for over a century.“There’s no way of improving, we grow it almost exactly the same way as we did 100 years ago, there’s no other way to do it,” Robert Tomlinson, a fourth-generation rhubarb farmer, told AFP.Rhubarb is initially planted outside, where they grow slowly for two years in Yorkshire’s wet and cold soils before being taken into heated sheds in the autumn.The purple stems then grow at a rapid rate, using the energy stored up during their time outside, and are picked in late winter.“At certain times in the shed, you can hear it creaking and groaning because it grows that fast, it can grow six or seven inches in three or four days,” said Tomlinson, whose farm is one of four in the region with protected designation of origin status for speciality produce.The process, known as “forcing”, was developed in the late 1800s after the plant was initially brought over from Siberia for its purported medicinal qualities.It then graced dinner tables for generations in a dessert known as rhubarb crumble, traditionally served with custard.But a new generation of chefs were drawn to its deep red colour and sharp flavour, combining it in savoury and sweet dishes, and even making rhubarb champagne.“It’s got its own unique flavour, it’s like nothing else,” said Tomlinson.“It did go out of fashion but people are realising it’s not just crumble now, you can use it with all sorts of stuff,” he added, saying it paired particularly well with “mackerel, venison, or any oily fish.”He credited more colourful and less acidic varieties developed in the 1960s for the plant’s resurgence.“Over the last 10 years, demand has increased massively,” he said, explaining that he regularly ships the product to restaurants in Switzerland and New York. — AFP-Relaxnews [...]
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Rhapsody in blue: Are blue cocktails on their way back?
The first time I heard of a blue coloured cocktail was in the 1988 movie Cocktail, in which Tom Cruise plays a bartender who makes a drink called Turquoise Blue for a patron at his bar. To be frank, the thought of blue drinks has never really appealed to me personally, but when I found out that the recent Giffard West Cup 2019 (Asia Pacific region) had a challenge that required bartenders to come up with a blue-coloured drink, I decided to explore the subject further. A quick Internet search revealed that many of the more classic blue-coloured drinks tend to be tropical-themed tiki drinks, with the most famous being the Blue Hawaii, made with pineapple juice, blue Curaçao liqueur, coconut cream, and rum or vodka (or sometimes both). Then there’s the Turquoise Blue (white rum, blue Curaçao, pineapple juice, sweet and sour mix), the Blue Lagoon (vodka, blue Curaçao, lemonade) and the Midnight Kiss (vodka, blue Curaçao, lemon juice topped with Champagne), and several others. As you may have noticed, the main ingredient for most blue drinks tends to be blue Curaçao liqueur, a spirit that is made with the dried peels of laraha oranges, a bitter citrus fruit native to the Caribbean country of Curaçao which has bitter, unpalatable flesh but unusually aromatic peels. The exact origins of Curaçao liqueur is a hotly disputed subject, with two companies staking a claim to being its original inventors – the Curaçao-based distillery Senior & Co and The Lucas Bols Distillery from Holland. Shirmy Chan in action during the Malaysian finals of the Giffard West Cup. Photo: Giffard Asia/NZ Phang Originally, Curaçao liqueur has no colour, and no one really knows who was the first to add the iconic blue colouring to the spirit, but it’s a colour that it turned out to be best known for (though it also comes in other colours, including green, orange, red, and the original clear liquid). But don’t worry even though its colour is blue, the liqueur itself still tastes very much of oranges. Besides Blue Curacao liqueur, there are other ways to turn a drink blue. In Malaysia, the bunga telang, or butterfly pea flower, is a common ingredient used in Malaysian cuisine to turn certain dishes blue, such as nasi kerabu and pulut tekan. Bartenders also use it to add a blue tinge to a drink, and as an added bonus, the colour turns a pleasant purple when it comes into contact with an acidic element such as lemon or lime juice, which adds to the aesthetics of the drink. According to Giffard Asia’s brand developer and beverage innovation manager Timothy Jason (better known as TJ), the reason blue drinks aren’t as popular could be due to the fact that the blue colour tends to look a little unnatural. “When you order a red strawberry drink, you don’t question it, because red is a natural colour for a strawberry. But the electric blue colour of the Blue Curaçao can seem a bit unnatural,” he said, before assuring us that the blue colouring in Giffard’s Blue Curacao Liqueur is made from natural ingredients and is 100% safe for consumption. He also adds that almost every bar in the world would have a bottle of blue Curacao Liqueur in their back bar, but it is hardly used at all these days. That was something that he set out to change with the Asian Pacific region leg of its premiere bartending competition, the Giffard West Cup. “Blue Curacao is almost a forgotten spirit – it’s on almost every bar, but it is hardly used. So, I wanted to encourage Asian bartenders to start using it again through the competition, and bring back the fun in making blue drinks,” he said. Shirmy Chan’s winning Giffard West Cup Malaysia blue cocktail is called the Fisherman’s Blue, and is proof that blue drinks can be elegant and sophisticated as well. Photo: The Star/Michael Cheang Founded in 1885, Giffard is a major beverage company based in Angers, France that specialises in premium liqueurs and syrups. The company has a portfolio of more than 50 liqueurs and about 70 different syrups, including its iconic signature mint liqueur Menthe-Pastille, and is listed among the Top 10 Trending Liqueurs by Drinks International magazine. The Giffard West Cup is an annual international bartending competition organised by the French liqueur company, and this year’s competition theme is “Fun In the Sun”, to commemorate the founding of Giffard during “one hot steamy summer of 1885 in Angers. France”. Shirmy Chan of 61 Monarchy emerged the champion of the Giffard West Cup Malaysian finals. Photo: The Star/Michael Cheang In 2018, Malaysian bartender David Hans was crowned champion at the competition’s global finals in Angers, and next month, Kuala Lumpur will be playing host to the Asia Pacific regional finals. Malaysia will be represented by Shirmy Chan of Petaling Jaya bar 61 Monarchy, who emerged as the Malaysian champion at the national finals in January. For the first challenge of this year’s competition, participants were required to prepare a “new, fun classic drink using at least 10ml of Giffard Blue Curaçao Liqueur”. “We got quite a good reception for the competition – there were more than 300 blue drink entries from all over the region,” said TJ. “We were also surprised by how creative the bartenders were with using the Blue Curacao – many of the drinks were not tiki drinks, but very elegant cocktails.” Case in point – Chan’s winning drink, the Fisherman’s Blue, made with Citadelle dry gin, Japanese sake, Giffard Grapefruit Syrup, Giffard Blue Curacao, fresh lime juice, tonic water, and garnished with edible gold dust to create a drink that reminds one of a clear blue ocean with starlight glittering on the water. Chan said the drink is inspired by her father, who is a fisherman. “The blue colour represents the sea, where my father spends most of his life in as a fisherman, and the garnish of gold dust symbolises the fishes my father caught, which he used to support ou [...]
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Malaysian bakers share desserts designed to wow loved ones
Don’t Miss Our “In The Mood For Love” Contest! Details Below  Valentine’s Day may have come and gone but that’s no reason to give in to indolence and shut the door on all notions of romanticism. Your nearest and dearest deserve to be wooed at every opportunity, and frankly, nothing says, ‘I love you’ quite as much as something sweet, which by very design, promises to entice and tantalise. Here, local bakers share hedonistically decadent recipes guaranteed to worm their way into your partner’s heart and gain you brownie points to boot. Satira Diana Borhanuddin & Farah Melissa Aniah, Kek & Co Satira (left) and Farah are constantly coming up with quirky, colourful desserts, like their cute butter cookies. Photo: Sam Tham/The Star Four years ago, gifted cake designers Satira and Farah decided to pool their considerable talents to form Kek & Co, specialising in bespoke custom cakes. Fast forward to today, and Kek & Co is insanely popular, with over 112,000 Instagram followers and a reputation for crafting breathtakingly beautiful, colourful, quirky cakes. The two were even responsible for some viral cakes, like their famed unicorn cake, which has since been copied to death. In the last year or so, the girls have branched out into making gift boxes filled with all sorts of cookies. “We’re actually testing the market because we want to open a retail store this year, so we want to see if these products connect with our followers and also to engrain this idea that ‘Hey, we have all these products!’” says Satira. Because the brand is so closely associated with kooky designs and creations, the girls are equally creative when it comes to devising desserts that people can make for their sweethearts. Like their insanely cute personalised butter cookies, piped with cute messages like ‘Laundry folded’ and ‘You’re hotter than Aquaman’. “So with our cookies, we decided to decorate them with quirky quotes, that maybe a husband and wife would say to each other. So couples or families can actually write random messages to their loved ones on the cookies,” says Satira. Perhaps the most important question for most home bakers is: how easy is this to recreate at home? “Oh, the cookies are very, very easy to make, you don’t even need a mixer for this. Plus, they’re cute, and can be shared,” says Farah. BUTTER COOKIES Makes 20 cookies 228g unsalted butter (room temperature) 225g granulated white sugar 2 large eggs 2 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 tsp salt 440g all-purpose flour 250g store-bought fondant royal icing, to pipe Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Cream butter and sugar till fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla extract and then slowly add in flour. Mix well until fully incorporated. Chill dough in fridge for 1 hour. Roll dough into 6mm thickness and use a cookie cutter to cut into heart shapes (or other shapes, as desired). Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Let cool completely. Spread fondant over each cookie and pipe words or patterns as desired with royal icing. Jaslyn Rangson, Jaslyn Cakes Jaslyn says chocolate chip cookies are easy to make and very comforting, which is a trademark of many of her desserts. Photo: Sam Tham/The Star Jaslyn Cakes became a popular feature in Bangsar when sweet, skilled baker Jaslyn Rangson opened her eponymous cafe a few years ago in a tiny little space that creates all manner of delicious sweet treats, from jammy biscuits and salted Valrhona brownies to chocolate peanut butter cakes. In 2017, she opened Dew (which is right next door to Jaslyn Cakes), turning out gorgeous, bedecked plated desserts. Although she continues to work hard to create beautiful desserts, Jaslyn also believes in keeping things simple. Her idea of a swoon-worthy dessert for a loved one? A simple chocolate chip cookie. “There’s nothing that says ‘I care about you’ more than ‘I made you cookies’. So it’s something that is not really flashy or over-the-top, but it really shows that you care about someone. It makes someone happy, it’s comforting and it’s something that everyone likes,” says Jaslyn. And Jaslyn’s chocolate chip cookie is something you’re going to want to make – trust me. Her cookies are corpulent discs with crunchy outer layers and soft, chewy insides bursting with chunks of ooey, gooey melted chocolate. And according to Jaslyn, these cookies are extremely simple to pull off too. “Oh, it’s really easy. Although you should avoid overbaking it – it’s meant to be a bit chewy, so if you bake it for too long, it becomes hard all the way through. Also, I would suggest using really good chocolate, because it makes a big difference,” she says. CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES Makes 15 to 20 cookies 180g plain flour 150g whole wheat flour 3/4 tsp baking soda 3/4 tsp fine salt 3/4 tsp Maldon sea salt 225g unsalted butter, at room temperature 175g sugar 175g brown sugar 1 tbsp black treacle 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract) 2 eggs 300g Valrhona Guanaja chocolate, chopped into large chunks, or other high quality dark chocolate Maldon salt to sprinkle Combine the flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, fine salt and Maldon salt in a bowl. In the bowl or a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, brown sugar, treacle and vanilla bean with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until the butter has lightened in colour. Add the eggs into the butter mixture one by one, mixing well between each egg. Turn the mixer off and add all the dry ingredients, mixing together on slow speed until the dough comes together and all the flour has been incorporated. Add the chopped chocolate and mix on low speed until evenly distributed in the dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour. Pre-heat the oven to 185°C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1-tablespoon sized rounds and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment paper. Spr [...]
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National Geographic Traveller UK highlights 17 best dining hotspots 2019
National Geographic Traveller Food also highlights laksa. — Handout via AFP LONDON, Feb 16 — The tastemakers at National Geographic Traveller UK have compiled a list of 17 “must-visit” culinary hotspots to visit in 2019 that includes Lyon, Bologna, Cusco and Zanzibar.Along with familiar gastronomic destinations like Lyon, France — home of the late chef Paul Bocuse — and Bologna, Italy (famous for its tagliatelle al ragu or Bolognese sauce), the issue takes readers to an onion festival in Roscoff, Brittany and to The Hague for a traditional Dutch family meal.“A lot of us travel in the hope of a good meal. But if you’re going to truly follow your appetite, it helps to know which destinations can be relied upon to deliver. We’ve picked out those places that have good eating woven into their very fabric — where memorable meals are the norm, not the exception,” said editor Glen Mutel in a statement.Between destinations, the magazine includes stories that deconstruct the secrets of the South-east Asia’s spicy noodle dish laksa, a primer on how to use za’atar and tips on making the best Portuguese custard tarts.Here are the 17 culinary destinations as chosen by NatGeo:South Australia: McLaren ValeItaly: BolognaSweden: Gothenburg and West CoastLebanon: BeirutIreland: Boyne ValleyPeru: CuscoCalifornia: Sonoma CountySpain: San SebastianSouth Africa: Western CapeArgentina: MendozaMexico: Baja CaliforniaFrance: LyonTanzania: ZanzibarThailand: Chiang MaiIndia: MysoreChina: ChengduSri Lanka: GalleThe National Geographic Traveller Food supplement is included in the March issue of the magazine and also has a website. — AFP-Relaxnews [...]
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World’s 50 Best Restaurants moves to Asia for the first time
Massimo Bottura winning top spot at World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 in Bilbao. — World’s 50 Best pic via AFP-Relaxnews SINGAPORE, Feb 13 — A new winner of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards will be announced out of Singapore June 25.Organisers of the influential global restaurant ranking announced plans to move their red carpet gala event to Singapore, the first time an Asian destination has hosted the group’s marquee event.The ceremony, which will be held at Marina Bay Sands Hotel, will be closely watched by the restaurant world this year, after organisers revealed new rules last month that will ban previous winners from topping the charts.Throughout the last 17 years, the winner and top 10 list became predictable, with the No. 1 spot dominated by repeat winners like elBulli, Noma and Osteria Francescana. A series of workshops, masterclasses and collaborative dinners will also take place at the hotel in the run-up to the gala event, allowing visitors and local gourmands to rub shoulders with some of the world’s top chefs. — AFP-Relaxnews [...]
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The Best Food to Slowing Your Resting Heart Rate
Monitoring resting heart rate has strong advantages. Taking your pulse is cheap, takes little time, is understandable to people, and is something everyone can do at home to measure their progress to become an active participant in their own health management. “The accumulated weight of evidence linking elevated [resting] heart rate to cardiovascular and all-cause mortality”—that is, to a shortened lifespan—“even in apparently healthy individuals, makes a strong case for it to be considered in the assessment of cardiovascular risk.”  Every ten-beat-per-minute increase is associated with a 10 to 20 percent increase in the risk of premature death. “There seems to be a continuous increase in risk with increasing heart rate,” at least for values above a beat a second. So, we can simply look at our watch or the timer on our smartphone, and, if our heart is beating faster than the seconds going by, especially when we’re sitting quietly, then we have to do something about it. This is particularly important when we start getting up to around 80 or 90 beats per minute. As I discuss in my video Slow Your Beating Heart: Beans vs. Exercise, men with no apparent evidence of heart disease who have a pulse of 90 may have five times higher risk of sudden cardiac death compared to those in the safety zone. To put it bluntly, their first symptom is their last. Indeed, resting heart rates around 90 beats per minute increase heart disease risk at a level similar to smoking. If you ask most doctors, though, 90 is considered normal: The accepted limits of heart rate have long been set at 60 to 100 beats per minute. Where did that range come from? It was adopted as a matter of convenience simply based on the scale of the squares on EKG paper. It was an historical accident like the QWERTY keyboard that just became the norm. A heart rate of 60 to 100 doesn’t even represent the bell curve. A group of cardiologists measured the heart rate of 500 people and concluded that 45 to 95 beats per minute was a better definition of normal, rounding to 50 to 90, which a survey of leading cardiologists concurred with. Now, we know that normal doesn’t necessarily mean optimal, but doctors shouldn’t be telling people with heart rates in the 50s that their heart rate is too low. In fact, these people may be right where they should be. Certainly, a “heart rate higher than 80 beats per minute should ring an alarm bell,” but what can we do about it? Exercise is one obvious possibility. Ironically, we make our heart go faster so, the rest of the time, it beats slower. “The public health benefits of physical exercise, especially for [heart] protection, are widely accepted.…Among the many biological mechanisms proposed to account for this risk-reducing effect is autonomic nervous system regulation of the heart”—that is, our brain’s ability to slow down the resting beat of our heart. If you put people through a 12-week aerobic conditioning program of cycling, StairMaster, and running on a treadmill, their resting heart rate can drop from around 69 to about 66—about a three-beat-per-minute drop. Of course, they have to keep it up. Stop exercising and resting heart rate goes right back up. Exercise is only one way to drop our heart rate, though. The way to our heart may also be through our stomach. What if instead of three months of exercise, we did three months of beans, like a cup a day of beans, chickpeas, or lentils? The first randomized controlled trial of beans for the treatment of diabetes showed they did indeed successfully improve blood sugar control, dropping subjects’ average A1C level from 7.4 to 6.9. This study was “also the first to assess the effect of bean consumption on heart rate and indeed one of the few to determine the effect [on heart rate] of any dietary intervention.” This is particularly important in diabetics, since having a higher resting heart rate not only increases their risk of death as it does for everybody, but it also appears to predict greater risk of diabetic complications, such as damage to the nerves and eyes. So, how did beans do in the study? They produced a 3.4 beat drop in heart rate—just as much as the 250 hours on a treadmill. We’re not sure why beans are as powerful as exercise in bringing down one’s resting heart rate. “In addition to the potential direct beneficial effects of vegetable protein and fiber”—all the good stuff in legumes—“there is also the potential displacement value of vegetable protein foods in reducing animal protein foods, which are higher in saturated fat and cholesterol.” Regardless, we should consider eating pulses for our pulse. What is that about a shortened lifespan? See my Finger on the Pulse of Longevity video. Having “normal” risk factor values in a society where it’s normal to drop dead of preventable diseases like heart disease is not necessarily a good thing. Learn more with: When Low Risk Means High Risk Everything in Moderation? Even Heart Disease? How Not to Die from Heart Disease For more on the musical fruit, see: Beans and the Second Meal Effect Canned Beans or Cooked Beans? Increased Lifespan from Beans Beans, Beans, They’re Good for Your Heart Phytates for Rehabilitating Cancer Cells Diabetics Should Take Their Pulses In health, Michael Greger, M.D. PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations: 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers [...]
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Potatoes on the menu at North Korean cooking contest
In a photo taken on February 13, 2019, potato flour balls are displayed during North Korea’s national cooking competition in Pyongyang. Around 300 cooks are competing in 40 different dishes over three days, with the winners receiving cookbooks and equipment as well as diplomas and medals. — AFP pic PYONGYANG, Feb 14 — Lined up in cavernous rooms at a state restaurant in Pyongyang, North Korean chefs carefully assemble their dishes, watched by crowds of onlookers at a cooking competition in a country that suffers chronic food shortages.From samsaek gaepitok, or three-colour stuffed rice cake – delicately formed green and white parcels of red bean paste – to yak kwa, fried wheat biscuit glazed with honey, or courgette stuffed with meat, attention to detail is key to catching the judges’ eyes.Around 300 cooks are competing in 40 different dishes over three days at North Korea’s national cooking competition, with the winners receiving cookbooks and equipment as well as diplomas and medals.Onlookers — mostly women in warm winter coats — gathered around each station in the unheated venue, some of them filming the contestants at work on their mobile phones for future inspiration.“The reason why Korean food is excellent is that it is characterised by its clear and fresh flavour, without any mixed feelings,” said judge Han Jong Guk, a pastry chef by trade. Sandfish is displayed during North Korea’s national cooking competition in Pyongyang. — AFP pic “For example, fish dishes taste of real fish and chicken tastes like real chicken. This is the main characteristic of Korean food,” he added.But the reality is that beyond the restaurant’s granite columns and the privileged lifestyles of the capital’s residents, North Korea is unable to feed itself.Ahead of his second summit with leader Kim Jong-un, due in Vietnam at the end of the month, US president Donald Trump has dangled the prospect of the isolated country becoming an economic powerhouse if a deal can be reached over its nuclear weapons.While the 1990s famine known as the Arduous March, when hundreds of thousands of people died, is in the past, North Korean agricultural yields are well below global averages and the country’s population remains severely undernourished.“Chronic food insecurity and malnutrition is extensive,” the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said in its 2019 Needs and Priorities document this week.No less than 43 per cent of the population — 10.9 million people – are affected by food insecurity, it said, while one third of children do not receive the minimum acceptable diet, and one in five suffer from stunting caused by chronic malnutrition.“Each year, the domestic food production does not meet needs by approximately one million tonnes,” it added.As well as the shortage of arable land — the North is largely mountainous — and periodic natural disasters, the UN also pointed to a lack of modern agricultural techniques and fertilisers.Chips with everything Leader Kim Jong-un’s answer is: potatoes.Unlike rice paddies inundated with water, potatoes do not have to be grown on flat land, and Pyongyang is pushing the humble spud as a staple food.Kim has visited a potato powder factory several times, pictured on one occasion last year lying back with officials on a mountain of tubers, the underground stems of potatoes.According to the official KCNA news agency, Kim said that North Koreans should be told about the product’s “advantages and effectiveness... and the methods of making various potato powder foods should be widely propagandised to them”.The Pyongyang cooking competition is part of the recipe.In one room, groaning tables were laden with dishes made from potato powder – pizzas, dumplings, noodles, even chocolate cake.Competition organiser Kim Kum-hun, of the central committee of the Korea Cooks Association – who says his favourite food is steak – is an enthusiast.“Of course rice is our main food but bread and potato powder can be our staple food too,” he told AFP.Potatoes, he explained, yield 20 tonnes per hectare, while rice produces less than 10 tonnes.The tubers are also far more profitable once refined into powder, offering both growers and processors a financial incentive as Kim introduces more market forces into the economy, still impoverished after decades of mismanagement.Pyongyang has also been subjected to multiple sets of sanctions over its atomic weapon and ballistic missile programmes.But the North has long prided itself on its self-sufficiency — something that may limit the appeal of Trump’s blandishments.And culinary official Kim dismissed concerns over a country affected by food shortages holding a cooking competition, insisting on the inevitable victory of socialism.“Those who are surprised to see a cooking festival here say that because they don’t know our people well,” Kim said.“Even if we are under sanctions or not given rice, our lives are not affected. We can live by the might of self-reliance.” — AFP [...]
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Hong Kong’s Michelin-starred gift to Pakistan
A pair of his father’s old tandoor ovens helped Hong Kong restaurateur Asim Hussain achieve a dream – the world’s first Michelin star for a Pakistani restaurant, an accolade he hopes will fire interest in the country’s often overlooked cuisine. Like many of Hong Kong’s 85,000 strong South Asian population, Asim’s family trace their lineage in the bustling financial hub back generations, when the city was a British colonial outpost. His great-grandfather arrived during World War I, overseeing mess halls for British soldiers while his Cantonese-speaking father owned restaurants in the 1980s and 1990s. Asim, 33, already had some 20 eateries in his group when he decided to embark on what he described as his most personal and risky project yet, a restaurant serving dishes from Pakistan’s Punjab region, the family’s ancestral homeland and where he was packed off to boarding school aged six. His father, a serial entrepreneur and even once Pakistan’s ambassador to South Korea, suggested he restore two old tandoors from his now shuttered restaurant collecting dust in storage. Asim’s restaurant New Punjab Club earned a Michelin star less than two years after it opened. “He comes from a generation that doesn’t throw things away,” laughs Asim, dressed in a traditional knee-length tunic and sitting in a restaurant decked with paintings by Pakistani artists. “Actually the results are better than if we had new ovens because these things improve with age.” Those tandoors, frequent trips to Lahore to perfect recipes and a kitchen overseen by head chef Palash Mitra, earned the New Punjab Club a Michelin star just 18 months after it opened its doors. A benchmark The success made headlines in Pakistan, a country that is unlikely to see a Michelin guide any time soon and whose chefs have long felt overshadowed by the wider global recognition gained from neighbouring India’s regional cuisines. “It makes us proud, it makes us very happy,” Waqar Chattha, who runs one of Islamabad’s best-known restaurants, told AFP. “In the restaurant fraternity, it’s a great achievement. It sort of sets a benchmark for others to achieve as well.” Asim is keen to note that his restaurant only represents one of Pakistan’s many cuisines, the often meat-heavy, piquant food of the Punjab. And it doesn’t come cheap – as much as US$100 (RM400) per head. “I’m not arrogant or ignorant to say this is the best Pakistani restaurant in the world. There are better Pakistani restaurants than this in Pakistan.” But he says the accolade has still been a “great source of pride” for Hong Kong’s 18,000-strong Pakistani community. The tandoor oven that helped the restaurant secure its Michelin star. ”It’s bringing a very niche personal story back to life, this culture, this cuisine is sort of unknown outside of Pakistan, outside of Punjab, so in a very small way I think we’ve shed a positive light on the work, on who we are and where we come from,” he explains. It was the second star achieved by Black Sheep, the restaurant group which was founded six years ago by Asim and his business partner, veteran Canadian chef Christopher Mark, and has seen rapid success. But the expansion of Michelin and other western food guides into Asia has not been without controversy. Critics have often said reviewers tended to over-emphasise western culinary standards, service and tastes. Daisann McLane is one of those detractors. She describes the Michelin guide’s arrival in Bangkok last year as “completely changing the culinary scene there – and not in a good way.” She runs culinary tours to some of the Hong Kong’s less glitzy eateries – hole-in-the-wall dai pai dong food stalls, African and South Asian canteens hidden inside the famously labyrinthine Chungking Mansions and to cha chan teng tea shops famous for their sweet brews and thick slabs of toast. While she’s “delighted” New Punjab Club has been recognised, she has her reservations – ”There is a lot of world cuisine operating way under the radar in Hong Kong and it doesn’t get noticed by Michelin or the big award groups.” Taking ownership For some, any recognition of Pakistan’s overlooked cuisine is a success story. Sumayya Usmani said she spent years trying to showcase the distinct flavours of Pakistani cuisine, so heavily influenced by the tumultuous and violent migration sparked by the 1947 partition of India. The food at New Punjab Club is reflective of the cuisine of Pakistan’s Punjab region. When the British-Pakistani chef first pitched her cookbook to publishers on her country’s cuisine, many initially balked. But in recent years, she says, attitudes have changed. Pakistani-run restaurants in the west that once might have described themselves as Indian are more proudly proclaiming their real culinary heritage, she says. “I think it’s really good that people are coming out of that fear of calling themselves specifically Pakistani,” she told AFP. “It’s nice that Pakistanis have started to take ownership of what belongs to them.”Back in Hong Kong, Asim remarks the hard work has only just begun. “I joke with the boys and I say that ‘It’s the first Pakistani Punjabi restaurant in the world to win a star, let’s not be the first one to lose a star’.” – AFP Relaxnews [...]
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Ko Ko Kai: A chicken rice and 'hor fun' stall worth crowing about
Ko Ko Kai delivers satisfying chicken rice and Ipoh 'hor fun' soup in a food court environment. — Pictures by Choo Choy May PETALING JAYA, Feb 14 — One of the more popular stalls at the AEON Jusco Food Court in 1 Utama Shopping Centre is Ko Ko Kai which sells chicken rice and chicken hor fun soup.What not many realise is this stall with its cute name — it literally means chicken in Cantonese — is owned by Loob Holding Sdn Bhd which also brought us Tealive, llaollao and Gindaco. "Bryan (Loo)'s idea is to bring staple food to the masses," explained Loob Holding General Manager Full Service Restaurants Ryan Yeoh.And why not? For many of us, chicken rice is our default food... any day, any time. It's the perfect staple. It fills up our stomach substantially and if you omit the rice, that poached chicken is perfect for those looking for a carb-free alternative!There's also the added bonus of a comforting chicken hor fun soup. And crunchy beansprouts brought in from Ipoh. It has earned an appreciative customer base for its tasty chicken rice and comforting bowl of noodles. Ryan tells us that the chicken rice recipe is from Bryan's friend, Andy, who operates a chicken rice place in Penang. What the people behind Loob did was to break down the process so the recipe can be easily replicated.It took them up to year to open Ko Ko Kai. The delay was mainly due to the search for a right location.When AEON closed the food court for renovation, they decided to open here. It was the right fit with a working crowd and families who come to the mall to shop.Once they secured the place, it took about two to three months to work out the branding and processes. To maintain the quality of the food, everything served at Ko Ko Kai is made in-house, right down to their sauces and even the sambal hae bee. In addition, they also insist on hiring chefs so the food can be properly cooked and served. A selection of three types of chicken available here from their Hainanese poached chicken, BBQ grilled chicken to the braised chicken. Their crunchy beansprouts are brought in from Ipoh. Their selection of chicken is made fresh everyday. You get a choice of four types of chicken here. The star is the Hainanese poached chicken. If you're a fan of braised chicken, give their version a try. It's a solid choice — flavourful soy tinged chicken — reminiscent of what's served in Hong Kong. They also offer BBQ chicken or BBQ grilled chicken with a sweet, caramelised taste.The chicken is served boneless. A nod towards millenials who prefer fuss-free food.What make it different from other places that serve chicken rice is that each portion served here is the same weight.Their chicken has also won over gym goers. These unexpected customers like to pop over here after their workout for their protein fix.  For a comforting meal, try the chicken and prawn 'hor fun' soup topped with poached sea prawns. If you prefer, they also offer a dry version of the 'hor fun' noodles tossed with soy sauce. We suggest you pair your choice of chicken with a plate of their incredibly flavourful Ko Ko Kai signature rice. You will be forgiven if you reach for seconds. We did too!The secret to the rice lies in the chicken fat that gives it that oomph. You will find the grains are also large and puffy, unlike  the rice at other places. It seems they use a mix of different types of rice to achieve this texture.If you love comfort food, order their Ipoh hor fun soup. It's served with smooth hor fun or rice noodles and a broth that takes up to 10 hours to make! You will notice the broth is laced with prawn oil and has an almost creamy texture, since they use a lot of chicken bones to eke out the taste. All the sauces are made in-house; from their 'sambal' to the chilli sauces. The chicken is served boneless and each portion is weighed. They use chefs to helm the place to maintain the standard of the food. Each bowl of noodles is topped with poached prawns. Ryan explained to us, they insist on using a certain size of sea prawns for the topping. A dry version of the noodles dish is also available.In addition to your chicken rice or hor fun soup, you can order their crunchy beansprouts brought in from Ipoh. Kai lan or bok choy are also available. Other additions include grilled whole egg or braised whole egg.In future, expect to see more outlets of Ko Ko Kai crowing around the Klang Valley. Yeoh tells us that the next one is slated to open in a shophouse in the Sunway area.Ko Ko KaiAEON Jusco Bandar Utama1Utama Shopping CentreFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/KoKoKai.my/The Ipoh hor fun soup starts from RM5.80 onwards. For the Hainanese chicken, you have a range of RM7.30 to RM8.35 depending on which part you select. The Ko Ko Kai signature rice is RM3.05 per portion. [...]
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