Sunday, 30 March 2008

Spicy hot bean mussels

This recipe has been adapted from my grandmother's recipe for fried lala (clams). As lala is not available in the UK, I use fresh mussels for this dish. Mussels are relatively cheap here, you can get them for about £2 per kg.
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Also worth noting that we can get something like lala here too, but it looks different. Look at this picture.. on the outside, it looks like a blood clam (see hum), but once opened, it looks like lala. They cost similar to mussels but I dont use these often because the shells are dirtier and takes a lot of scrubbing before I can fry them whole.
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This dish is simply:
- chillies
- garlic
- capsicum
- hot bean sauce (chilli meen see)
- cornflour to thicken sauce so that it sticks to he mussels

Fry onions, chillies, garlic, capsicum and hot bean sauce.
Then add cleaned and de-bearded mussels and cook till all shells are opened.
No need to add water as mussel will have its own juice.
Then little bit of cornflour mixture to thicken.
Soy sauce / Salt / sugar / pepper to taste.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Curry Sotong / Squid / Cuttlefish

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One of my favourite Malaysian dishes is the curried squid. The ones you get from the mamak stalls or nasi lemak seller. I would have this several times a week whenever I visited, but I always have a preference for small whole squids rather than the brown reconstituted cuttlefish.

My version is made from what I think is a cuttlefish. It looks exactly like the small squids, except that its rather huge .. about 6 times the size. Also its cleaned and frozen from fresh, so there are no tentacles and innards. Just the body itself. It makes the preparation really easy.

Curry powder, mixed into a paste
Curry leaves
Tamarind juice
Coconut milk
Tomato paste

I always blanch the squid first as it can be too fishy if cooked from raw.
Then I brown the curry leaves, onions and the curry paste together.
Then add the tomato paste, tamarind juice and coconut milk
Then add the squid and simmer for 10 mins - depending on the thickness of the squid.
And that's it!

Monday, 24 March 2008

Jamaican Curry Chicken with Rice and Peas

During my last week or so confined to bed, it was an opportunity for my wife to do some cooking. After many days of pre-cooked TV dinners, this was a refreshing change. The chicken was marinated in curry powder and then lightly fried to seal the flavour in, then stewed till cooked. I am not 100% sure what else goes into it. The rice is cooked with kidney beans, which gives it the pink colour, coconut milk and pepper. A really greasy and unhealthy dinner but ok once in a while! A favourite dish among the Carribean community here in the UK!

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I prefer mine without the salad!
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Sunday, 16 March 2008

A week of ready meals!

Having just returned from a stay at the hospital and confined to bed for a few days, I am looking forward to a week of ready meals / tv dinners ..... NOT! Normally, we share duties in the house as we both work, but with me being incapacitated, I cannot really expect my lovely lady to do all the work, hence the ready meals! They are not too dear and if we buy just the specials of the week, they can be bought for as low as £1 per carton. The amount is never substantial but in my condition, it is enough.

Well, at least I got a week of doing nothing to look forward to. Plenty of time to plan what meals to make when I am ready for it again.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Chinese Buffet Restaurant in Manchester

Tsai Wu Oriental Buffet is located on Oxford Street, in Manchester, not far up the road from the universities. In my opinion, it is one of the best Chinese buffet restaurants in Manchester and does not resort to cheap tricks likes many London ones where you have to dig through hundreds of pieces of onions to find the meat. A daytime buffet meal costs only £5 whereas the eveneing weekend meal costs atround £10. The quality of the food is the same, except that they have a few more dishes in the evening, such as crispy duck pancakes, stir fried tiger prawns, stir fry squid and a gateau dessert. To be honest, I am usually too full to bother with the dessert anyway, so that does not bother me. At half the price, the daytime bufffet is by far the better value and although the quality cannot compare to an ala carte meal, it is nevertheless delicious.

Here is a picture of the shop front on a busy overcast winter Saturday afternoon on Oxford Street.
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A small section of the food on display. They have mirrors on the display, so you are seeing only two rows of trays, not four.
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Another section of the food on display.
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Close up of the pork section... clockwise...bbq spare ribs, salt & pepper battered spare ribs, pork slices in Cantonese sauce and stir fry pork slices.
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Close up... clockwise... chicken in chinese curry sauce, salt & pepper battered wings, green lip mussels in black bean sauce, sweet & sour chicken.Free Image Hosting at

The noodle section.... clockwise.... Singapore fried meehoon, a stack of plates, fries fusili pasta and fried fresh egg noodles.
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The frys section... onion rings, aubergine fritters, crabsticks fritters, chips, mushroom fritters and mini pring rolls.
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Some of the mixed dishes I selected. Notice the lack of rice and noodles. Why choose the cheap ingredients when it all costs the same??!!
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A rather strong bowl of hot and sour soup. Rich and meaty.
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My favourite dish! A bowl of clear seafood soup consisting of fishballs, fish maw, mussels, shrimps, tofu and chinese cabbage.
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Just a light dessert afterwards.. some ice cream. They even have a whippy ice cream machine free for you to use.
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After all that, we dragged our heavy stomachs off the seat and walk wearily to the car park. Do not expect to continue city centre shopping after a meal here. You will not be in the mood for walking!

Friday, 7 March 2008

Quick Beef Rendang

When in a hurry and want some authentic Malaysian grub, Brahim sauces are a godsend! This classic dish is made so simple with this sauce. This particular version has even been specially packed for the UK, as you can see from the picture. It may say "Indonesian", but it is exactly the same as the ones you get at Giant in the Blue / Orange pack. It is available at some of the bigger conventional supermarkets, like Sainsburys.

Typically, I like to embellish cooking sauces to give it a more unique taste, in this case, the addition of curry leaves, capsicums and fresh tomatoes.

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