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RayaFest 2018: Pulut Lepa Terengganu

Being from Terengganu, I grew up thinking fish is a natural, common ingredient in so many local favorites; nasi lemak with sambal ikan tongkol, karipap, pulut panggang (we call ’em pulut lepa)… but *of course* fish is the main ingredient!

Wait… you guys have nasi lemak with chicken rendang and *gasp* paru (beef lung)? Karipap kentang? What is this orange coconut nonsense in this pulut panggang?!! Well, imagine how shocked I was discovering what them West-coast folks are eating.  This was probably when I was about 7 or 8 years old.

Anyway, fast forward to today, I really miss the East-coast pulut panggang with fish filling.  On very rare occassions someone managed to find it here in KL and I would eagerly wolf them down, but they mostly turned out quite underwhelming.  But we compromised anyway, because it was better than nothing.

Finally I thought, why not make it myself and serve it for Hari Raya? I looked around for recipes online, and combined with Kak’mbang’s knowledge and experience we managed to make a decent Terengganu-syle pulut lepa which Mummy and my aunties (all Terengganu natives) accepted as truly authentic.

Here it is, if you ever feel like having some Terengganu fare.  Do note that this recipe makes a lot, so feel free halving it.  Leftover fish filling can also be used in yummy Terengganu-style karipap.

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Ramadan Cooking: Peri-peri Sausage Rolls

Ramadan mubarak, everyone! I can’t believe a year went by so fast.  Since I get off work an hour early, again I try to make small dishes like appetisers and snacks for breaking fast.  I still have a few bottles of Nando’s PERi-PERi sauce in the larder, so I looked through their website for ideas.  These sausage rolls looked so yummy, so away I went to Ben’s Independent Grocer during my half-hour afternoon break to buy what I needed.

A few things I did for this recipe: I used chicken cheese sausages and breadcrumbs with Italian herbs, and I think this made the rolls “taste like pizza”.  I also used Italian flat-leaf parsley instead of English (I wasn’t sure which one I was supposed to use until I came back and watched the video), which had a stronger flavor I didn’t fancy too much, so I’ll use English parsley next time.  In the spirit of Ramadan I gave the dish a slight Middle Eastern twist and used habbatus sauda in place of black sesame seeds.

Mind you this recipe makes quite a lot of filling, and depending on how big your bread is you might end up with multiple rolls instead of just one as stated in the original recipe.  I used Massimo white sandwich loaf, and ended up with four rolls in total.

Overall this was a delicious snack, great for moreh and sahur, as well as for potlucks and afternoon tea.  Give it a try!

Based on the recipe by Nando’s UK.

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Weekend Cooking: Air-Fried Caramel Banana & Coconut Spring Roll

Kak’mbang and I were just chilling out one day talking about food (because why not), and she mentioned this yummy looking recipe she found on a random can of F&N sweetened condensed creamer.  Only the ingredients list was on the can, but spring rolls stuffed with bananas and grated coconut and drizzled with sweetened creamer? Heck yeah!  The recipe was a bit of a treasure hunt to find, buried somewhere on F&N’s website, and last I checked the website no longer works, so I’m glad I have this written down here.

The original recipe was for regular fried spring rolls, but since Mummy is trying to watch her fat intake (as should I -_-), my version is air fried, and the results were still so so amazing.  I highly recommend using pisang mas because of their wonderful sweetness and fragrant banana flavor, but just use whatever type you have on hand.  Because the filling is rather wet, I separated 12 spring roll sheets upfront to speed up the wrapping process, and while working on one sheet, I covered the rest with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.  I also rolled the spring rolls a bit tighter to get more layers and prevent them from bursting.

Guaranteed to be a hit among kids and adults alike.  Try it out!

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Weekend Cooking: Apple Cider Doughnuts

Post turkey dinner I had a lot of apple cider left over, and was wondering what to do with it.  I can’t remember how I stumbled upon the idea of making doughnuts with apple cider, but now that I have, why didn’t I think of this sooner??

There are quite a few recipes out there. Fried ones, baked ones, and after reading through the reviews I decided on the version I found on Taste of Home.

I ran out of brown sugar when making these, so I ended up using some red sugar as well.  I find that red sugar adds a richer taste to the doughnuts, perhaps closer to the taste of palm sugar, which was nice.  The recipe also called for a ginger-sugar coating, but I decided to make mine with apple cider glaze.  I need to finish off that carton of juice in the fridge!

It was also my first time deep frying something in a pot on the stove.  Previously I’ve always weaseled my way around this by either using an electric deep fryer or an air fryer, or by asking Kak’mbang to help me out with it (yeah. terrible, I know).  When I was making this, everyone in the house was taking an afternoon nap.  I didn’t want to bother Kak’mbang again, so I decided to suck it up and do it myself.

Turns out, it wasn’t so bad after all.  I did overbrown the first batch or so, and I didn’t realize that I was letting the oil get too hot, but in the end I got a batch of excellent, tasty doughnuts.  No scary oil spills, no Captain America shield (my rice cooker pot lid) needed.

These doughnuts are best eaten fresh, as it will have a nice crunchy crust as you bite into it.  Over time the texture will resemble more like soft cake bread.  Do not skip the glaze, the doughnuts have a subtle apple and spice flavor on their own, but with the glaze the amazing brightness of the apple cider really shines through.

Try it out!

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Weekend Cooking: Kak Seri’s Pan-fried Bananas

When I was way too young to remember, we had a lovely, stylish Indonesian lady named Seri who took care of our Highland Towers condo in KL.  Whenever my family visits KL we’d stay there, and nowadays Mummy would sometimes share stories of Seri and her antics.  One thing Mummy mentioned quite a few times was this simple yet amazing banana snack, which Seri used to make for afternoon tea.

Over the Hari Raya week Kak’mbang went back to our hometown Terengganu, and came back with a good-sized bunch of pisang awak, or pisang kelat siang as we call ’em in Terengganu.  This specific type of bananas is perfect for banana fritters, so Kak’mbang decided to use them for re-creating Seri’s recipe Mummy mentioned so often.  It’s really simple to make, yet so lovely and indulgent.  Love ’em.

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Ramadan Cooking: Peri-peri Cornflakes Chicken

It was the last few days of Ramadan, and things were reaaaally slowing down at work.  As I was staring at my laptop screen wondering what work I should do for the day, an email came in from Nando’s with the subject line, “Take PERi-PERi sauce balik kampung this Hari Raya okay!” I clicked on it and found this recipe.  It looked simple enough, and B.I.G. is just right there to get groceries from, so I decided to make it when I got home from work.

I made mine using my air fryer instead of the oven.  I think I cut my chicken a bit too small, so that’s another thing I’d improve on next time.  Super simple and healthy.  Try it out!

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Ramadan Cooking: Potato Croquettes

Ever since Ramadan started, I’ve been taking my quick breaks walking through the aisles of Ben’s Independent Grocer (B.I.G.) almost every working day.  Sometimes (very rarely) I leave empty handed, but most of the time I would buy some fruit at half price or bread or some ingredient I could use to make something small for buka puasa.  So this time I bought a bag of panko breadcrumbs, and made another recipe from Chef Kamarul’s book.

These croquettes were lovely, and reminded me so much of the snack I love back in Japan.  I noticed that mixing the ingredients using the potato masher wasn’t so effective for me, so next time I’ll switch to a spatula or wooden spoon instead.  I’ll also stuff them with cheese or meat to make them more hearty.

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Ramadan Cooking: Murtabak Maggi

Back in boarding school, every year the Form 4 seniors would organize a food carnival to raise funds for their Graduation Night.  Every class would set up stalls selling all sorts of food, from the normal stuff like pasta or nasi goreng, to the more creative stuff like banana with Milo drizzle (my first time learning that chocolate and banana go super well together), and of course, murtabak Maggi.

I still remember standing there watching my seniors prepare my order.  Cooked plain Maggi instant noodles were tossed in a mixture of egg and burger patty meat.  I’ve never tasted anything like it, and it was awesome.  This was almost 20 years ago.

Over the years I tried making it a couple of times, but I just couldn’t get the ratio of the ingredients right.  The murtabak either came out too dry, or just didn’t come together at all and ending up being just a regular Maggi goreng.  

Since I’ve got some extra time to cook something for buka puasa, I tried making it again.  I used this recipe from the official Maggi website and gave it my own little twist, a tribute to that awesome version my seniors made.  Absolutely delicious!

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Ramadan Cooking: Air-Fried Banana Spring Rolls With Nutella Drizzle

I bought a bunch of pisang mas last weekend, and they were quite green then so I thought they would last a while.  By mid week they’ve started to become overripe, so Kak’mbang asked me to try out this recipe by Chef Kamarul from his book, Resepi 30 Minit Chef Kamarul.  Overall recipes from his book look super simple yet promising in terms of yumminess, and I really do need to use up those bananas, so I gave this a go, with a few small changes.

Mummy doesn’t really like deep fried foods, so I made mine using an air fryer.  I used red sugar instead of brown because it gives a richer flavor, although it does melt really fast and makes the bananas quite wet.  Here’s a tip – be sure to separate out the spring roll sheets upfront, so that you can quickly assemble the spring rolls and chuck ’em in the air fryer.  I made the mistake of (sloooowly) peeling the sheets as I went along, and because my banana mixture was wet, the first few that I assembled became rather soggy and burst during the cooking process.  I also saved some time by using simple Nutella instead of making my chocolate sauce from scratch.

The results were lovely.  The spring roll skin crisped very nicely in the air fryer, and the sweetness of the filling was just nice, letting the natural flavor of the bananas do most of the talking.  A good snack ready to eat within 30 minutes!

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Weekend Cooking: Garlic & Olive Oil Pizza

I usually make my own pizza dough, but I happened to have quite a lot of store-bought pizza crust in the fridge, so I decided to throw together something simple using stuff I had on hand.  Despite minimal ingredients, this pizza made a pretty decent snack, and Rudy surprisingly loved them.  A great alternative to your regular garlic toast.  Try it out!

Based on the recipe from 500 Pizzas & Flatbreads.

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