Soto Day

Today was a lazy day for me. Usually on the weekend I would be busy volunteering, but this week they gave us a break, so I spent some time at the bank, and a lot of time just resting. I try to use my weekends to read and write (not blogging, I don’t qualify my blogging as ‘writing’) but nothing too serious and I don’t mathematisize those activities.

In Singapore last week, a lot of Malays were upset when a Peranakan restaurant used the term ‘Nyonya’ in front of the words Nasi Ambeng because nasi ambeng (food, look it up) is not Peranakan at all. It is in fact, Javanese. The backlash pressured the restaurant rename it to ‘Family Trays’ and issue an apology across all its social media accounts.

The episode made me think about my heritage; after all I am half-Javanese. I am not exactly a proud half (I used to be annoyed when my grandma would teach me to speak the language), not even a practising half, but when I spoke to my Javanese cousins (in Malay haha) we too thought it was cultural appropriation, although we’d never join the discussion with a pitchfork on social media (we love our non-Malay, non-Javanese friends enough to not incite hate/divide).

While I’m not a very cultural person (it’s something I am extremely self-conscious about as I get older), I truly enjoy Indonesian food because it is my staple. I grew up eating food prepared that way. I wouldn’t say I ate Indonesian food, I think the more proper way to explain it is: because my mom was second generation Singaporean Javanese, a lot of the food she prepared were contemporaries of Indonesian food, and those were usually a mix of Malay and Javanese food.

Because I am diabetic I try not to eat a lot of rice (it is a big deal because we love rice!). I totally stopped drinking sweetened drinks, and I don’t eat desserts most days. I do want to speak to a nutritionist soon, but I think my appointment for diabetes is all the way in August.

Today I made chicken soto/soto ayam (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soto_(food)) and I cheated a bit using ready made paste. My cousin recommended these two brands:

TamamMuz Soto Paste

Soto Paste

I used Wahyu because it was the only thing available in the shop downstairs and I didn’t feel like taking a taxi to other places.

When we eat soto with compressed rice (lontong) it is just called soto, but when you eat it with bee hoon or yellow noodles they’re called mee/bee hoon soto or mee soto respectively.

I don’t like potatoes usually so I never add bergedil, but that’s what people usually add to complete the dish. Garnish is usually fried shallots, and there is a sweet and spicy sauce to accompany it, too (which I could not be arsed to make).

I sprinkled bottled parsley ๐Ÿ˜›๐Ÿ˜› but I am sure you can chop up coriander as well.

This makes it to my comfort food list, but I generally don’t eat it outside if they serve it with shredded chicken. ๐Ÿ˜›๐Ÿ˜›๐Ÿ˜›

Steps to make it (my way):

1) If you already have lontong (compressed rice) ready you can just prepare the soto (soup)

2) I boil my chicken (mid-joint wings) for about 20 minutes on medium heat

3) Take the chicken and most of the water out, leaving only about half of the water in

4) Dump your sliced shallots/onions in with a bit of garlic, two chilis, and lemon grass and about five lime leaves

5) Season with salt and pepper. Do not over-salt because the paste usually has MSG and a lot of salt

6) After about 10 minutes dump the paste in

7) Add about 2-3 litres of water

8) Taste. If it’s bland add more salt

9) Add the chicken from earlier and close the lid

10) When it comes to a boil about 10 – 15 minutes later stir the pot

11) Add some tamarind juice (I just dumped bits of tamarind)

12) Switch off the stove after about 10 minutes

13) Serve it with the compressed rice and garnish

My ancestors are all rolling in their graves right now because I don’t use oil when I cook and when I do I use too little but I just don’t like oily food!!

Bon Appรฉtit! โ™ฅ๏ธ

Oven-baked Beef Chunks and Mashed Potatoes

I don’t have fancy kitchenware but I need to look into getting a hand-held mixer. I went to the supermarket the other day (they sell everything from local bread to imported cheese to Pyrex. I once went on a hunt for a lock at midnight with my friend, and we were successful) but I couldn’t find a hand-held mixer I liked. I think I would prefer something that looked like this:

But anyway I haven’t figured it out and experience taught me to not overthink it or under-research so when I am free this week I will browse.

We had some leftover beef from Eid and at home it’s just my dad and me, so we don’t eat a lot, and I didn’t want to waste food, so I decided to whip something simple up. I seasoned and marinated the beef with some oyster sauce and abalone sauce (something my neighbour taught me), put bell peppers, some lime and baked it in the oven. Then I blanched some broccoli, made creamy mashed potato (butter, milk, potatoes) and served it with the beef.

My dad enjoyed this dinner; he ate twice. I wish the beef was a bit more tender. The texture was OK. Not difficult to chew, the taste was OK. I don’t have any recipe for this, but maybe next time I will (not a big recipe person, when I cook I taste throughout (habit from kitchen life) so recipes for cooking are merely guides, recipes for baking are of course a different story).

I am also trying to cut down on eating a lot of meat, but I will see how that goes!

Marshmallow Experiment + Why It is Important to My Lasagna Story

A while back I drafted an article about developing concentration skills in young children. This exercise made me fall deep down the rabbit hole, and I read a study on children being experimented on. Each child in the study was given a marshmallow. The adult would leave the room and the instructions were explicit: the child should not eat the marshmallow during the adult’s absence from the room, and if the child complied, he would be rewarded with another marshmallow on top of the one presented to him earlier. Research (and I’m on my phone, so once I get on my computer I will share the link) shows that children who are able to delay gratification become more successful adults.

I laughed at the research because now that explains everything and why I am unable to succeed in adulthood. I am just not able to delay gratification! Of course there are other factors that affect my chances of success, my gender is one, the fact that I am a minority is another. We lot can succeed, but the chances are reduced and to attain something a member of the majority race could easily do, we have to jump through all these arbitrary hoops and then you’d find that in the end, it wouldn’t even matter.

Over the past two days I really wanted to eat lasagna, and I could already taste the meat, the generous amount of mozzarella, and the overall saucy, gooey goodness. So I was a woman on a mission, and that mission was to find pasta sheets. If I could wait for the local supermarket chain to deliver me a box, I might be able to eat by this weekend. Alternatives included buying store-bought lasagna from one of the pizza places, or a frozen one (which was insanely cheap) but I was determined to make something with ingredients I bought and my own two hands. So I didn’t want to wait for pasta sheet delivery, and I went to two supermarkets to get them. Both supermarkets did not have them, and I am not sure if it’s because it’s just not common in my country, or people just buy online.

So. I made my own pasta sheets. It was such a workout, one I would remember for a longggg time, and I laughed thinking this was why I could never be successful, but hey if you think about it, because I didn’t want to delay gratification, I made pasta sheet from scratch, because I am a determined person.

I don’t have a pasta machine and I wasn’t going to buy it just for one project. I don’t actually own any fancy or expensive kitchenware. I am interested in making delicious food, and I feel the true test of skills is when you only have the ingredients, your hands, a good knife, and your mother’s old but reliable equipment. I am pretty sure if I were bathing in cash I would not sing the same tune. I am not broke, but I would not want to spend a lot on fancy stuff I don’t always use.

Unfortunately I was not able to make a uniform size, because it was extremely difficult to handle thin sheets of pasta
Sorry for the blur picture but my casserole dish looked like this
What went into the oven
What came out of the oven

As a special treat I made bechamel sauce and poured it over my lasagna. I should hold the mozzarella, although it lent some flavour to my lasagna.

Bon Appรฉtit!

Happy Eid and Some Things I Made

Muslims all around the world celebrated the end of the holy month, Ramadan, yesterday. Ramadan is the month where Muslims fast for an average of 14 hours a day (depending on when the sun sets) and aside from abstaining from food and drink (and sex hehe), for most, it is the period to reflect, to be closer to God, to be more charitable, and to strengthen ties/relationships.

I am not going into how irreligious I am in this post (oops, but I am).

For Malay Muslims (in Singapore at least, and I’m pretty sure in Malaysia, too!), the first day of the Eid celebrations always includes a lot of food and sweet goodies to serve guests. As most countries are on some form of lockdown right now, most families who don’t live in the same household have opted to go on Zoom to celebrate. As a child I’d always hated Eid. Hated it! It’s the day people flex how well they’re doing in life (new big TV, new furniture (every year, how do you afford it??), new expensive tailor-made clothes, new husband (just kidding)). Which I felt (still do!) defeated the purpose of fasting and practising self-control. The part I have always liked though, is getting to see my cousins. We’re not that friendly, but my cousins are mostly nice folks who turn up for everything.

Food is always elaborate. We’re very communal people, so families would get together on the final day of Ramadan to cook several dishes together. In the past if you catered it’s frowned upon (aka you’re useless af), but now it’s more like the norm. Some common savoury food to serve include beef rendang (not my favourite thing to eat but I occasionally do), ayam masak merah (instead of cooking it in sambal, I think the difference is tomatoes are involved), ayam lemak or sayur lodeh, sambal goreng pengantin (which is a bitch to make, first you boil the heck out of beef, beef lungs, another type of meaty things you can choose liver or fat, and then you dice all that in almost the same size, then you fry, and then you cook all that in a spicy paste with a bit of coconut milk), and you eat all these heavy dishes with some rice cake (either ketupat or the lontong).

I don’t like all these food eaten at once because I’d feel unhealthy. I have stopped drinking anything sweet. I just drink water and some hot tea now.

Anyway for Eid my dad made rendang and I made chicken cooked in turmeric and some coconut milk. Sent some to my sister.

Then for today’s lunch I accelerated the whole Eid celebration by making something brothy hahah (it’s usually not for another two or three days)

Udon in spicy beef broth

Love it. I now just cannot wait for a bit of normality to kick in. I am bored staying home, and work can be a bit of a bore (even in covid best believe your colleagues can be stupid and try to blindside you). Speaking of work I think it’s best I try to learn how to make money myself because obviously working in an office just isn’t working out for me anymore. If you have any work tips just leave a comment because I’ve tried everything and I am just feeling like an absolute failure.

How was your weekend?

Pizza is Always a Good Idea

I had an unbelievably tough day at work (I work from home nowadays) and when it was time to officially knock off I took my blood sugar levels, then went straight to the kitchen to make pizza on toast. Packed a few to deliver to my sister who lives 5 minutes away.

I like making them all sloppy and messy (Have no idea why!). Toppings vary. This evening I opted for ham, sausage, some of them had stir fried beef mixed with my tomato sauce.

What do you put on yours?

๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

Quick Dinner Tonight

With the circuit breaker in place (my country’s version of a lock down), I haven’t really been cooking. I usually just order (it is called GrabFood, and it’s my country’s version of Uber Eats). Over the past two months I’ve eaten a lot of Japanese, Korean, Thai and Chinese.

I eventually got sick of delivery food!

Whenever I reach this point I go back to basics that I can make at home. Nothing too fancy. Soups. Fried rice. Chicken in some gravy. Food I’ve, over the years, elected as ‘comfort food’.

Dinner was a perfect time for me to cook something simple. I was busy the entire day. I like my bowl or plate of food to be very colourful so when I’m not too lazy I opt to include some form of protein, leafy greens, some carrots cooked not too soft but not hard either. I don’t like potatoes!

In Malay cooking we usually sautรฉ onions and a bit of garlic at the start. The Malays use a lot of oil especially when they make sambal, as it acts as a preservative so you could just stick it in the fridge or freezer for a long time and use it for all kinds of cooking. Onions sweeten your food, and when I cook I like that I am very aware and feel awake. I smell and taste test something great, I can hear the wok/pot sizzling, I can see everything happening. And of course I touch stuff. Just not anything hot! ๐Ÿ”ฅ (or parts of my body)

I don’t like yellow noodles at all so I stir-fried kway teow (flat and wide noodles). Other ingredients I used were thinly-sliced beef (they cook really quickly), some chye sim, and the paste was blended chili (store bought), some (maybe 2 table spoons) oyster sauce, some ketchup, and salt to taste (I don’t eat my food too salty). I don’t consciously use MSG in my cooking to enhance the taste, but I’m sure whatever I put (even whatever made from scratch) contains some form of not-so good things.

The result was OK. Nothing too exciting, but I felt very satisfied.

How do you like your noodles?

I Made Food

This evening for dinner I made beef noodle soup and baked some sweet Thai chili chicken.

The beef noodle soup turned out better than expected. The beef is really tender! I was a bit anxious because the Knorr beef cubes were out of stock. At home I only have Ikan Bilis (anchovies) and Tom Yam stock cubes but I was not desperate enough to use any of the two. I boiled my beef for two hours. Used some of that stock (I don’t like it just like that), put chopped lemongrass, a bit of vinegar, blended a huge onion, sauteed all those things, seasoned it throughout cooking, added water, threw some fish balls in, added chye sim, threw my boiled beef in, brought it to a boil and served it with noodles. The garnish was coriander and some fried shallots. I like eating beef noodle soup with cili jeruk (simple, cut up red and green cili, you can pour hot water over it, then add vinegar until the chili bits ‘drown’ in them, you can of course season it with a bit of salt, a tiny sprinkle of fine sugar).

Voila. Try it! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š