Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cooking evolution with Bak Kut Teh

Last week, my culinary endeavours were taken to the next level.

No. I did not try out some funky cooking style. Neither did I attempt to use exotic or outrageous ingredients like natto, cuitlacoche, or silkworm pupas.

I took the next step, from cooking solely for myself, to cooking for others.

No longer could I hide behind a veil of colourful garnishing and retouched photos. This time, the food had to actually taste decent. Burnt food and mild food poisoning would no longer be acceptable.

The victims? A friend from my home town who's living in Edinburgh, and two of my housemates. I got them to be willing guinea pigs with the pretext of it being a Chinese New Year dinner.

What did I cook? To be on the safe side, I cooked a simple dish that would be really hard to get wrong - Bak Kut Teh!

The ingredients were simple enough.

The herbs, I brought from Malaysia.

I used two different types of meat - ribs, and some fatty pieces.

Everything went into a pot of boiling water, along with some garlic, black pepper seeds, oyster sauce, and some soya sauce. Left it to brew for around 2 hours, then the rest of the ingredients (mushrooms and lettuce) went it.

Yes, the colour of the soup was a little off. I couldn't, for the life of me, find proper dark Soya Sauce here in Edinburgh.

I served it with some home made char siew, special rice, and a dip made from soy sauce, fresh chillies, fried garlic/onions, sesame seed oil, and lime.

(My apologies for the last photo. I was so excited over serving my friends, I forgot all about taking photos until CC reminded me halfway through dinner)

We managed to finish everything. Maybe my cooking really wasn't that bad? Or perhaps I underestimated the amount? Probably they were just being polite, and did their best to stomach everything.

Whatever the reason, I'm glad.

It gave me the confidence to invite some of my coursemates over for dinner next week. Told them I'll give them a taste of Malaysian food.

I'm still planning the menu, but for now, I'm thinking of cooking kampung fried rice, with perhaps beef rendang and sambal udang. Maybe I can try to make some imitation kerabu and tell them it's Malaysian salad? Any suggestions?

Wish me luck.


At February 08, 2006 7:33 am, Blogger cheng sim said...

bah kut teh.
i love bah kut teh =)

At February 08, 2006 1:29 pm, Blogger shawnchin said...

It's hard NOT to love it :)

At February 09, 2006 1:38 am, Blogger wan said...

once saw jamie oliver prepared curry and kerabu (or salad) for the brits.

surprisingly they loved it!

At February 09, 2006 2:40 am, Blogger Fashionasia said...

so does it taste like BKT???
whats lacking is some dark soy sauce. And lotsa garlic ;)

At February 09, 2006 4:06 am, Anonymous Wei Lynn said...

Hey Shawn,
Didn't know you were in Edinburgh? What are you pursuing there?

Anyway, BKT in the winter is a God send. My mum sends me ready made assembled packets that she gets from the supermarket, so no need to worry about gathering herbs.

As for dark soya sauce... try Indonesian shops. Kicap Manis or something like that... it is a bit sweeter, but it's close to our thick soya sauce.

Yuen Chun is the only Malaysian brand I know of for kicap pekat sold in the US. Maybe they have it there too. Coincidentally, Sue Hwa our former classmate works there as a QA.

At February 09, 2006 11:03 am, Blogger shawnchin said...

wan: Yeah, brits memang crazy over curries and anything Indian. Lots of Indian restaurants around, so i'm making rendang.. something different lah. as for kerabu, I have problems finding the unripe mangoes.. might have to use green apples again :p

fashionasia: well, it smelled exactly like BKT. Taste wise, somehow there was something missing. No uumph! .. garlic I did put, a whole biji :)

wei lynn: Hey! Long time to see/hear! Yeah, I did use kicap manis instead.. but not black enough, and din dare put too much or it might get too sweet.
Sue Hwa is around here?? Do you have her contact?
Oh, and I'm doing my MSc now, in HPC.
BTW, great to hear from you again.

At February 09, 2006 4:07 pm, Anonymous Wei Lynn said...

No-lah, Sue Hwa is back in KL. She works in the company that produces & exports the kicap...

I asked my mum to send me the kicap from home...Poh Yuen brand. Such a precious commodity, use sparingly... I reserve for BKT.

I found your blog through my bro's blog. Maybe I'll tumpang his or have my own soon. See how it goes.

hmmm... maybe I'll visit you in Edin... never been there b4. How long will you be there?

oh yah... Indian grocery shops usually have the unripe mangoes. I can actually buy Budu here, haven't tried any though. I'm afraid I might get out of hand and drink it.

BTW very impressed with your experimentation. I stick to the basics and play safe. Maybe I'll try some of your inventions.

At February 09, 2006 4:19 pm, Blogger shawnchin said...

Wei lynn:

Oopps, my bad. i misunderstood. hehe.

I found your bro's blog yesterday as well. Good that you're starting one too, can keep in touch with up you're up to ;)

I can't really find Budu here, but quite easy for find Nampla, which is pretty similar and is an acceptable substitute.

Come for a visit anytime! I'll be around at least till September. Where I'll go after, still not sure lah.


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